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.
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.