Bat kohen

The torah relates how both Yosef HaTzadik and Moshe Rabbeinu married a bat kohen – although in both instances their father’s-in-law where kohanim 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 not 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 bechor 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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