The torah relates how both Yosef HaTzadik and Moshe Rabbeinu mar­ried a bat kohen –although in both instances their father’s where kohen’s to עבודה זרה.

Rabbeinu Bachya, quot­ing Rabbi Dan, explains that Moshe chose to marry a daugh­ter of a kohen as the kohen was exempt from all royal tax­a­tion, thus mak­ing it less likely that pharoh come after him for his killing of the Egypt­ian offi­cer1)1. Non­the­less, we glean from these sto­ries that the בת כהן was deemed a per­son of impor­tance. The torah goes on to place the bat kohen in a very spe­cial place, she is priv­i­leged to con­sume kodoshim kalim (minor kodoshim) as is writ­ten; כל תרומת הקדשים ..נתתי לך ולבנתיך אתך 


Specif­i­cally, the bat kohen may con­sume of the four breads that accom­pany the todah offer­ing, from the two breads that are brought along with the ram of the nazir, and from the cooked fore­leg of the kor­ban nazir,  she only may con­sume trumah, but may also give trumah to her ser­vants (mishna torah). The school of Rabbi Eliezer ben Yaakov per­mits giv­ing her the fore­leg, cheeks and abo­ma­sum.  Reishit haGez may be given to her, and she may eat of the bchor ani­mal. Mid­io­raita (basic torah law) the bat kohen is given trumah, tru­mat maasar and chal­lah –even in the absence of her kohen father, but midirab­banan –rab­bini­caly– these three aren’t given to her for rea­son that she may be divorced and thus for­bid­den to her.2)2

Mar­riage to a kohen

Although the bat kohen is per­mit­ted to marry a Yis­roel of her choice and even a chal­lal, con­vert, or עבד משוחרר (freed ser­vant)3)3, Chazal encour­age the bat kohen to marry a kohen4)4;

Rashi under­stands that the mar­riage of a bat kohen to a non kohen is an insult to Ahron hako­hen.  Rashi also inter­prets a flip-side; the kohen is encour­aged to marry a bat kohen;

Since it is estab­lished; a kohen, all the while that he is able to marry a bat kohen shouldn’t marry a bat yis­roel, as is said in psachim; (the) “optional” seu­dah (i.e. not a seu­dat mitz­vah, is one where) a bat yisroel(‘s mar­riage cer­e­mony) to a kohen


The tal­mud asks on the posuk “אל תחלל את בתך להזנותה”;  “per­haps this verse refers to the bat kohen mar­ry­ing a levi?”  Then negates the notion by point­ing out that the term להזנותה refers to a demo­tion due to har­lotry, whereas the mar­riage of the bat kohen to a non-kohen is actu­ally per­mit­ted min hatorah.


Gen­er­ally, the bat kohen is con­sid­ered an excel­lent “shid­duch”.  Rabbi Men­achem Meiri describes the aver­age kohen-father as one who is ded­i­cated to torah study and torah instruc­tion, thus influ­enc­ing the bat kohen to a lifestyle of torah ded­i­ca­tion;

 It is thus said “he who wishes to become wealthy should cleave to the prog­eny of Ahron” as regard­ing the kohen the torah says “they will instruct your laws to (the chil­dren of)  Yaakov, and your torah to the chil­dren of Israel”. 5)5

The Shulchan aruch harav inter­prets the notion that the bat kohen should wed a kohen quite seri­ously by stat­ing that one must back­track to burn his chometz if en route to the wed­ding cer­e­mony of a bat kohen to a non-kohen –as that cer­e­mony isn’t deemed a seu­dat mitz­vah.6)6


Both the Aruch Has­Shulchan and Sdei chemed take today’s restric­tion of a bat kohen mar­ry­ing a non kohen to it’s lit­eral level –even con­sid­er­ing what may appear to be a leniency in the rambam’s mishna torah word­ing.

Ketubah amount

The Mishna writes how the bet din shel kohanim would require the amount of 400 zuz for the mar­riage of the bat kohen. –a two-fold increase of the stan­dard 200 zuz amount.  This enti­tle­ment is dis­cussed in tal­mud bavli and endorsed by the ris­honim (Nimueki Yosef, R“Y of LunielRabbeinu Asher) although no record of this increased ktubah has been recorded since the times of the amoraim7)7.

A dif­fer­ent under­stand­ing of the mishna is given by tal­mud yerushalmi; the exag­ger­ated amount was enacted by the bet din shel kohanim as a penalty.  The penalty being in both instances, one where the bat kohen mar­ried a non kohen and in the instance where the bat yis­roel who mar­ried a kohen, the amount of 400 zuz was listed in their ktubah amount.  Rea­son being as chazal wanted each to cleave to their kind and the exag­ger­ated ktubah would serve as a deter­rence for inter­mar­riage.



The torah expects tzniut behav­ior from the bat kohen, the torah rules that the bat kohen who engages in har­lotry is pun­ished by sreifah –a more seri­ous pun­ish­ment than the stan­dard skil­lah–  (mishna san. 9:1, san­hedrin 66b)

References   [ + ]

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