Yevamot, Chapter Eleven, Mishnah Seven



This mishnah is a continuation of yesterday’s mishnah, which dealt with a situation in which it was unclear whether a woman’s former husband or current husband is the father of her child.


Mishnah Seven

1)                     If one of [the two husbands] was an Israelite and the other a priest:

a)                                 He may only marry a woman who is eligible to marry a priest. 

b)                                 He may not defile himself for the dead,  but if he did defile himself he does not suffer the penalty of forty stripes. 

c)                                 He may not eat terumah, but if he did eat he need not pay compensation either for the principal or [for the additional] fifth.  

d)                                 He does not receive a share at the threshing-floor, but he may sell [his own] terumah   and the profits are his.  

e)                                 He receives no share in the holy things of the temple, no holy things are given to him, but he is not deprived of his own.  

f)                                  He is exempt from [giving to any priest] the shoulder, the cheeks and the maw, while his firstling must remain in the pasture until it contracts a blemish.  

g)                                 The restrictions relating to priests and the restrictions relating to Israelites are imposed upon him.

2)                     If the two [husbands] were priests:

a)                                 He must be an onen mourner for them and they must be onenim mourners for him, but he may not defile himself for them, nor may they defile themselves for him.  

b)                                 He may not inherit from them, but they may inherit from him.  

c)                                 He is exempt if he strikes or curses the one or the other.

d)                                 He goes up [to serve] in the Temple watch of the one as well as of the other, but he does not receive a share [in the offerings].  

e)                                 If both served in the same watch, he receives a single portion. 



Section one:  In this case the child is not sure if he is a priest or an Israelite.  Most of the laws here are the same as those we saw in mishnah five above, so I will not explain them again.  In essence all of the strictures that apply to a priest apply to him, but he does not receive all of the benefits of being a priest, for he might be an Israelite. 

Section two:  If both the first and second husband were priests, then this child is certainly a priest and may act as a priest and receive most priestly benefits.  However there are certain complications that arise since he does not know who his father is.

An “onen” is a mourner on the day that the person for whom he is mourning dies.  An onen who is a priest may not serve in the Temple service.  On the day that either of the husbands dies the son must act as an onen and cannot serve in the Temple.  Similarly, if he dies before they do, they must act as an onen for them.  Since this is a stringency it does apply.

However, he may not defile himself in burying them and they may not defile themselves in burying him.  This is because it is not certain which one is his father and a priest cannot defile himself for someone who is not his relative. 

He may not inherit from them, for each husband’s other inheritors can say that he needs to bring proof (which he cannot) that he is this husband’s son.  The husbands split his inheritance, if he dies without sons. 

He is not liable for striking or cursing either one of them, since it is not certain which is his father.  Note that were it certain which is his father, this is a capital offense.

The priests were divided into 24 Temple watches, called mishmarim.  Each week a different mishmar would serve.  This son is responsible for serving with both father’s mishmar since this is considered a stringency.  However, he does not receive the gifts that were divided amongst the priests of the mishmar, for each mishmar can say to him that he belongs to the other.  However, if both fathers belonged to the same mishmar he may share in their gifts.