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Unread 02-24-2017, 08:41 AM   #1
Join Date: Mar 2010
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Can a Ger Tzedek marry a mamzer?

"The Three Houses of Israel – and The Kahal Gerim

The Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 4:21-22) states that a ger may marry a mamzeres; and in the following halacha it states a Ger who marries a Jewess, their offspring is forbidden to marry a mamzeres. The Rambam paskens accordingly, while the main Rishon who has a different view, is the Ran. As it turns out, the machlokes Rishonim in this halacha is between the Rambam and the Ran, and the Achronim who argue their respective views are the Taz and Rav Chaim Brisker. The machlokes and the appropriate mekoros are as follows:
The basis of the sugia is the psak halacha in the loshon of the Rambam as taken up by the Shulchan Aruch. The Ran’s kasha is the focal point of the sugia, as he asks regarding the halacha of the Rambam the following difficulty:
It is clear that a goy who has marital relations with a Jewess, that the goy has no patriarchal leverage into the child’s lineage, and the child is a Jew by his mother and is located in the 3rd Holy Kahal by his mother as well. Effectively, the child is Jewish and is fully connected to his mother, as the goy effectively has no effect on the child’s spiritual DNA. However, if we are to substitute the goy with a ger, why would the Rambam rule that the child is a full Jew and not having to suffer a spiritual consequence from his ger father? The child should be considered like a ger and thus permitted to marry a mamzeres, despite his father being a yisrael gamur [full convert – ger].
At this stage we stand in a machlokes Rishonim between the Rambam who says that such a child is a full Jew and the Ran says the child is at best like a full convert, taking after his mother, and thus belonging to the 4th Kahal, a non-holy Kahal, a Kahal of Gerim. We will see from the words of Rav Chaim Brisker, this would mean that the child’s mother was neutralized in the spiritual DNA of the child outside of the fact that the child is a Jew as much as he is like a Jew through conversion. Would the Jewess have conceived from a goy, the child would be a full Jew, a member of the Holy Kahal, and would receive nothing from his gentile father, making every aspect defer to the child’s mother.
The Taz will argue against the Ran and simply suggest that the child of a Jewess and a full convert can only be rendered as a full Jew and not like a convert. To the Taz this is simple and clear.
Rav Chaim Brisker will argue in support for the Ran, and in true Brisker form, will show through ‘tzvei dinim’ that the Ran can be advocated for quite easily. Once the full convert marries a Jewess, the ger bestows patriarchal lineage into the child and negates the mother’s spiritual influence outside of simply making the child Jewish, yet like a convert in that he can marry a mamzeres. The child is Jewish, but not a member of the holy kahal: he functions like a full convert, and belongs to the 4th kahal, the kahal of gerim.
Out of this we see that there is a machlokes Rishonim and it is explained through a machlokes Achronim respectively. Yet as any student of super-consciousness will show, these views are not arguing, but rather shed light on two different subjects standing in two different coordinates: there is no argument.
There are 4 houses of Israel: Kohen, Levite, Israelite, and Ger – the non-holy house.
A Kohen who marries makes his child patriarchally a Kohen, a Levite makes his child a Levite, and an Israelite makes his child an Israelite. This should be assumed when these three examples have procreated according to Torah Law. We see from the Ran and Rav Chaim that a ger patriarachally makes his child a ger, i.e. belonging to the 4th house of gerim, a non-holy house. Yet should a Yisrael or Levite marry a giuress the children would be respective to their father, and would not be considered a ger, as in the case with a ger father. In this case of a giuress, her limitation is that for her to marry, she must enter into the holy kahal, but cannot enter into the Priestly kahal. Her husband then renders the child as either a respective Israelite or Levite, and not limited to the 4th kahal, which is not a holy kahal. To settle the apparent machlokes between the Taz and Rav Chaim Brisker, we must realize 4 main points:
1. Today we do not allow Ger Toshav to marry into the holy kahal; a Jew/Jewess is prohibited in this. However Gerei Toshav may marry each other within the 4th non-holy kahal. Thus today concerning marriage, the Jewish People only work with full converts. The 4 houses and their context of holiness exist only in context of marriage, and do not affect other mitzvoth or other aspects of holiness.
2. There are two aspects of converts: native and full, and not native.
3. The Taz and Rav Chaim Brisker are speaking about two different types of converts respectively.
4. These halachas reflect the state of affairs within today’s Judaism, where the Jewish people only work with ‘Ger Tzedek’. And since there is no Biblical convert today as well due to the lack of a Temple, one could argue that all converts today are forced into the 4th house, a non-holy house of gerim, since they cannot convert directly into the holy house of Israel without bringing an offering to the Temple. As we will see though, marriage is the institution where a ger can choose to either elevate into holiness or choose to remain in the 4th non-holy house of gerim.
A new fully converted ger [by today’s standards] is a Israel gamur [but in a time of the Temple would be able to convert into a full Native status, and would renounce the ability to produce a ger-like child with his Jewess wife, i.e. like the Ran suggested] and would be considered as possessing holiness in potential. The potential aspect would always exist. For example, should he marry a mamzeres he would renounce his holy rights and would choose to remain in the 4th house of gerim, a non-holy house. Yet if he chose to marry a Jewess in holiness, he would carry the potential to at least in theory be able to return to the 4th house of gerim a non-holy house. In other words, should he find himself in a position to remarry, he could marry a mamzer and return to his non-holy house. Any offspring would be subject to the machlokes between the Taz and Rav Chaim Brisker:
• Either the ger who is a Israel Gamur would have removed any remnants of ger from his offspring by producing a child completely within holiness, and the child would inherit the 3rd house of Israel, a holy kahal [Taz]
• Or, since the ger father always contains an element of his lower level giur [due to lack of a Temple] the child would inherit the 4th house of Israel a non-holy house as his patriarchal inheritance [Rav Chaim].
Thus there are two levels of conversion, aside from the ger toshav, who only in the most ideal scenarios would ever enter into the marriage discussion. This requires us to focus only on a full convert for discussions of marriage, and their associations with the holy and non-holy kahal in halacha. The holy and non-holy kahal are only halachic terms when used in context of marriages among the 4 houses. A full convert has two possibilities:
• He is made into a Native Jew, and he is therefore identical to a Native born Jew in every way. His child is a full Jew, born into the holy 3rd kahal, and he has removed every remnant of his giur. He is a full Israelite and can bestow patriarchal Israelite lineage. He cannot marry a mamzeres, for she exists only in the 4th house, non-holy kahal, and he is now native only to the 3rd holy kahal.
• He is made a full convert – Israel Gamur; but is a drop shy of being a native Jew. He belongs to the 4th non-holy kahal and can marry a mamzeress. Yet if he marries a Jewess he enters into the 3rd holy kahal and can produce a normal Jewish child. The Taz would argue he has mamash entered into the 3rd kahal, while Rav Chaim argues that since there are no full converts today he remains indigenous to the 4th non-holy kahal. The argument thus is, even though one may not convert fully lechatchila, can they elevate through marriage at least while procreating in the holiness of the marriage, as opposed to always having the permission to re-enter the 4th non-holy house and thus be permitted to marry a mamzeress.
A native Jewish full convert is 100% a Jew in every way; he and his offspring. A Israel gamur is known in halacha as a Ger Tzedek, and even though considered a full convert and can do every mitzvah including keeping Shabbos like a native Jew, he retains permission to re-enter into the 4 non-holy kahal. Through this we have seen many varieties of Gerei Tzedek: Eved Canaani, righteous non-Jew, an almost native convert, etc. For this halachic discussion, the Ger Tzedek is the Israel Gamur lefi pshuto.
In conclusion, we see that there is a halacha that a ger can marry a mamzeress in certain conditions and their offspring may or may not be considered gerim. We showed that this is a machlokes Rishonim and explained through a machlokes Achronim. In the end, it is actually not a machlokes at all. It is a halachic discussion taking into account different aspects of exile from the Temple, and taking different types of people into the context of the halacha.
For example is a full convert from the time of the Temple synonymous with a fully converted Jew who marries a Jewess? Or does he suffer a loss due to the fact that the Temple isn’t standing? Once you know who the subjects are in the halacha and the different levels of gerim that are available in the halacha of marriage, along with the understanding of the function of the 4 houses and how they work [in marriage davka and in regards to holy and non-holy], the pieces fit nicely into each situation presented to us from the rabbis.
In closing, the only question between the rabbis here is the following: ‘In a time when the Ger Toshav does not exist in marriage halacha, and are reduced to strict marriage within the 4th non-holy kahal, we are forced to work only with ger tzedek. A ger tzedek may choose to remain in the 4th non-holy house, or they can choose to elevate into the 3rd holy kahal. In a time of the temple, a convert would be completely elevated into the 3rd kahal, unless specifically choosing to remain in the 4th non-holy kahal. The only question that the rabbis are asking is, ‘can a ger fully convert into the 3rd kahal through marriage and through conceiving a child in holiness, thus rendering the child as a full native Jew? Or does this level truly only work in a time of the Temple?
For this we await the coming of Elijah the Prophet, who will be sent to restore the wisdom of the 4 houses and in particular the understanding of the 4th house of gerim.
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