Who is a kohen?

Are today’s kohanim kohanim “kosher” with­out their lin­eage doc­u­ment? This ques­tion comes up every so often, leav­ing the une­d­u­cated kohen clue­less as to what or where his lin­eage doc­u­ment is or if he ever had one.

How­ever, thank­ful to those halachic author­i­ties that delved into the issue, todays kohen know the bot­tom line, even if his lin­eage doc­u­ment is –umm– lost in the mail.

Halachi­cally speak­ing

What is the bot­tom line answer of who is a kosher kohen?  its sim­ple; the kohen who is rec­og­nized as such by his kehillah kedosha is deemed a kohen muchzak –a “status-quo” kohen. this is no small title as it car­ries with it numer­ous restric­tions, respon­si­bil­i­ties, and even priv­i­leges.

The kohen muchzak is con­sid­ered a full and kosher kohen מן התורה (Min HaTorah –bib­li­cally).  Rab­bini­cally though, there is alot of debate on this topic leav­ing it one of the most hotly-contested top­ics in halacha for the last 450 years.

Work­ing in favor of the authen­tic­ity of  todays kohen is the value of the term kohen muchzak; the entire con­cept of chaz­a­kah in halacha is founded on the base of the kohen being what he and oth­ers think he is –an authen­tic and kosher descen­dant of Ahron HaKo­hen.  But again, this is just scratch­ing the sur­face of a num­ber halachic angles (such as all family’s have the chaz­aka of being kosher, an absence of A valid dis­proof of the kohen’s sound chaz­a­kah) that place the kohen muchzak as a fully authen­tic, kosher kohen.

The sdei chemed

The sdei chemed, a noted posek is one of many poskim who com­posed responsa to the issue of kohanim muchza­kim –kohanim who are “status-quo” in their kehuna.  He is one of the few though who did a thor­ough work of col­lect­ing, ana­lyz­ing and decid­ing between those opin­ions dis­cussed dur­ing and prior to his era; The sdei chemed on the kohen muchzak.

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