Summary of Sources for Week 1 and Intro to Week 2

We’ve seem numerous disparate opinions over how to define the zona from the Torah (Leviticus 21:7). The one constant that was eventually codified by the Rambam and others into halakha was the position of the Sages which appeared in sources #3, 4, and 4A. This should not be surprising, as the “Sages” are the majority of the Rabbis and their opinion should hold weight over other singular opinions. The Sages defined a zona as a female convert, an emancipated slave woman and a woman who had licentious fortification. Rashi defined the latter category in source #4A as a woman who cohabitated with a forbidden sexual partner. Rambam, in source #8 delineates this category.

A question which we haven’t touched upon yet is whether the forbidden union between a Kohen and a convert is derived דאוריתא from the Torah or דרבנן from the Rabbis. On the face of it, it would seem that Rambam believes that it is a Toraitc prohibition and that the Rabad disagrees and believes that it is derived from the verse in Ezekiel, which would seemingly make it דרבנן. However, the Rambam and Rabad have more writings which may contradict this and those who came afterwards are split on how to interpret them and the other Rabbis who wrote on this issue. The matter is convoluted and time considerations preclude us from examining this point in detail. It is important to note that if a law is changed, it is a bit easier to do so if it is דרבנן and not דאוריתא.

What I ask of you now is to think of different ways we might be able to ameliorate this edict. I want to examine one line of thought over the next few days. Can a Kohen renounce his kehunah (priesthood)? We have a concept of a ספק כהן regarding someone where there is a doubt if he is really a kohen. Can anyone today prove that there is uninterrupted pure lineage all the way back to the kohanim who served in the temple?

I hope that we may also have a parallel discussion regarding other creative “solutions” that you may ponder (I have one or two up my sleeve which I will share as well).

What happens if we don’t come up with a satisfactory “solution”? Do we remain loyal to the law rather than to our moral conscience? Do we maintain the tradition even if certain individuals may suffer? Or perhaps when we speak of a Kohen and a Convert this cannot really be a match made in heaven?