Daf 73a

  • Rav Michael Siev


Introduction to the Study of Talmud
by Rav Michael Siev

Mazal tov to Rav Michael and Rena Siev upon the birth of their son Asher.
May they be zocheh to raise him le-Torah, le-chuppa, u-le-maasim tovim!

Kiddushin 08-Daf 73a

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Key words and phrases in Hebrew and Aramaic are marked in blue, and their translation/explanation can be seen by placing the cursor over them. 

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Last week, we learned the beraita at the end of daf 72b, which reports a machloket (disagreement) about whether a convert can marry a mamzeret and then rules that a convert or chalal can marry a kohenet, a woman of priestly lineage, despite the fact that a male kohen may not marry a convert or a chalala. The Gemara then analyzed the sources of each opinion regarding the issue of a convert marrying a mamzeret. We now resume with the Gemara's analysis of the beraita's second section.

We are about halfway down in the short lines of 73a.

Whether a convert or a freed slave or a chalal - are permitted to a kohenet.

This supports Rav, for Rav Yehuda said in the name of Rav:

"Women of acceptable [lineage] are not prohibited from marrying [men who are] unfit."

אחד גר, ואחד עבד משוחרר, וחלל - מותרין בכהנת.

מסייעא ליה לרב, דאמר רב יהודה אמר רב:

לא הוזהרו כשירות להנשא לפסולים.

The gemara starts by quoting the line from the beraita upon which it intends to focus. The gemara points out that the beraita's ruling supports Rav's claim that women of acceptable lineage are permitted to marry men of tainted lineage. It is very important to note, as Rashi (s.v. Li-nasei) writes, that in this context, the teracceptable and unacceptable lineage refer to people who can or cannot marry kohanim. A male kohen cannot marry a convert or a chalala (such as the daughter of a kohen and a divorcee). These prohibitions do not work in reverse, however; a female of priestly lineage may marry a man who is a convert or a chalal. This male / female distinction does not extend to genealogical issues that are more general in nature. Women are prohibited from marrying a male mamzer, just as a male is not allowed to marry a mamzeret.

We continue on in the Gemara.

Rabbi Zeira taught in Mechuza: "a convert is permitted to a mamzeret."

The whole world (the audience) pelted him with their etrogim.

Rava said: "Is there anyone who would teach something like this in a place where there are many converts?"

Rava taught in Mechuza: "A convert is permitted to a kohenet."

They loaded him with silk.

He then taught them: "A convert is permitted to a mamzeret."


They said to him: "You have ruined the first!"

He said to them: "I am doing what is good for you:

if you want, you can marry from here, and if you want you can marry from here."

And the halakha is: a convert is permitted to a kohenet and is permitted to a mamzeret;

permitted to a kohenet; women of acceptable lineage are not prohibited from marrying those of unfit lineage;

and they are permitted to a mamzeret, like Rabbi Yossi.

דרש ר' זירא במחוזא: גר מותר בממזרת.

רגמוהו כולי עלמא באתרוגייהו.

אמר רבא: מי איכא דדריש מילתא כי האי בדוכתא דשכיחי גיורי!

דרש רבא במחוזא: גר מותר בכהנת.

טענוהו בשיראי.

הדר דרש להו: גר מותר בממזרת.

אמרו ליה: אפסידתא לקמייתא!

אמר להו: דטבא לכו עבדי לכו:

אי בעי מהכא נסיב, ואי בעי מהכא נסיב.

והילכתא: גר מותר בכהנת ומותר בממזרת;

מותר בכהנת, לא הוזהרו כשירות להנשא לפסולים;

ומותר בממזרת, כרבי יוסי.

Having discussed each of the beraita's two issues independently, the gemara now relates an incident that has to do with both of the beraita's topics. Rabbi Zeira taught that a convert can marry a mamzeret, in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Yossi. He gave this lesson in Mechuza, which was a town with a high population of converts. The audience was insulted by this ruling, which is based on the assumption that the "congregation" in the verse, "A mamzer shall not enter the congregation of God" (Devarim 23:3) does not include converts. Apparently this lecture took place on Sukkot, and the people expressed their feelings in a very demonstrative way by pelting Rabbi Zeira with their etrogim. Rava expressed his surprise that one would publicly teach such a lesson in a place like Mechuza, without anticipating the insult of the residents.

The gemara then relates Rava's own strategy for teaching the residents of Mechuza. He first taught them that a convert may marry a kohenet; this elicited joy from the residents, as it confirmed the compatibility of converts with women of the most honored lineage, and the audience showered Rava with gifts of fine silk. He then taught them that a convert can also marry a mamzeret. This ruling was considerably less popular. Rava attempted to pacify the audience by pointing out that converts are actually in an advantageous position, as there are fewer limitations regarding their marriage options than there are for other Jews. The gemara concludes that the halakha follows both rulings mentioned by Rava.

Why does the Gemara mention the experiences of Rabbi Zeira and Rava in Mechuza - just because they are cute stories that are tangentially related to the topic at hand?!

Usually, when the Gemara tells a story related to a halakhic discussion, it does so in order to teach further details about the topic at hand or to demostrate what the bottom-line conclusion should be. In our case, that may well be part of the impetus for relating these stories; we do end up ruling in accordance with Rava. However, it seems likely that the Gemara has another goal in mind as well, especially when one considers that the reaction of the people of Mechuza is given special note; the Gemara seems to be taking the opportunity to teach the relevant halakhot while also giving a lesson on how to relate to other people. Rabbi Zeira is criticized for his presentation of the halakha, despite the fact that his ruling was correct. Rava himself teaches the same law, but only after he softens the impact by informing his audience that a convert can marry a kohenet. The implication is that one should not shy away from the truth, but one must be sensitive enough to package it in a way that will be palatable to one's audience. Presumably, this is true as a value in its own right - one must always be careful regarding the sensibilities of others, especially converts (see for example Shemot 23:9, Devarim 10:19) - and is also important as an educational technique, in order to help people accept the truth.

Continuing on in the Gemara

We resume in the Gemara, at the end of the first wide line of 73a.

These are shetuki - anyone who recognizes [etc.]:

Rava said: "[According to] Biblical law, a shetuki is fit.

What is the reason?

The majority [of men] are fit for her and a minority are unfit for her,

and if he goes to her - all who separate, separate from the majority.

What will you say - maybe she went to him?

He is stationary, and anything stationary is comparable to [having a probability of] half and half,

and the Torah says: 'A mamzer shall not enter' - a definite mamzer should not enter, but a questionable mamzer may enter,

he may not enter into a definite 'congregation,' but he may enter a questionable congregation."

אלו הן שתוקי - כל שמכיר:

אמר רבא: דבר תורה שתוקי כשר.

מאי טעמא?

רוב כשרים אצלה ומיעוט פסולין אצלה,

ואי אזלי אינהו לגבה - כל דפריש מרובא פריש.

מאי אמרת - דילמא אזלה איהי לגבייהו?

הוה ליה קבוע, וכל קבוע כמחצה על מחצה דמי,

והתורה אמרה: לא יבא ממזר - ממזר ודאי הוא דלא יבא, הא ממזר ספק יבא,

בקהל ודאי הוא דלא יבא, הא בקהל ספק יבא.  

Our gemara now moves back to the mishna that began our perek (chapter). It begins with a quote from the mishna, and proceeds to analyze it. The mishna mentions the category of shetuki, which it defines as anyone who recognizes his mother and not his father. Since such a person cannot be sure of his genealogical purity, he cannot marry into the general Jewish community. Our gemara quotes Rava, who claims that this prohibition exists on a Rabbinic level only; on a Biblical level, we can assume that the shetuki is of acceptable lineage.

Rava goes on to explain the reason for his statement: assuming we are talking about a child born out of wedlock, meaning that his mother was unmarried when he was conceived, most men are "fit" to her, meaning that most people who could have fathered this child would not have caused the child to be a mamzer. Mamzerut is only created by a union between a man and woman that carries with it the punishment of karet; this includes cases of an adulterous woman (but not a married man who has an "adulterous" relationship with an unmarried woman) and cases of incest with certain close relatives.

That being the case, we can understand Rava's ruling. The doubt regarding a shetuki's status hinges upon the identity of his father, as that is the unknown factor. If the child was conceived when the man went to visit the woman, the man is viewed as having separated himself from the general population, and we can apply the principle of rov; if something or someone separates from a group and we don't know its identity, we can assume it to be from the category that forms the majority of the group (kol de-parish mei-rubba parish). Even if she went to him, in which case the unknown factor (the man) did not separate himself from the group, we can still be lenient. The man is considered kavu'a (stationary), and when the locus of a halakhic doubt (a safek) is stationary, we view the likelihood of issur (prohibition) as 50/50. This would generally not suffice to allow for a lenient ruling; as we mentioned last shiur, the normal procedure is to be stringent in a case of doubt regarding a Biblical law (safek de-oraita le-chumra). Nevertheless, the case of a safek mamzer is unique. As we saw last shiur, the gemara derives from a pasuk that the prohibition of a mamzer entering the congregation applies only to the union between someone who definitely has the status of a mamzer and someone who certainly has the status of "congregation." Thus, since the shetuki has no worse than a 50/50 safek regarding his permissibility, he is - from the perspective of Biblical law - permitted to marry into the general community.

The gemara must now explain why it is that the Rabbis forbade marriages between a shetuki and someone of pure lineage. We are seven lines down in the long lines on 73a.

And what is the reason that a shetuki is unfit?

It is a decree lest he marry his paternal sister.

If so, a shetuki should not marry a shetukit, lest he marry his paternal sister!

Do all such men continue to act in a promiscuous fashion?

He should not marry the daughter of a shetukit, lest he marry his paternal sister!

Rather, it is not common.

Here too, it is not common!

Rather, they set a high standard in genealogical matters.

ומה טעם אמרו שתוקי פסול?

גזירה שמא ישא אחותו מאביו.

אלא מעתה, שתוקי שתוקית לא ישא, שמא ישא אחותו מאביו!

כל כי הני מזנו ואזלי?

בת שתוקית לא ישא, שמא ישא אחותו מאביו!

אלא לא שכיחא.

ה"נ (הכא נמי) לא שכיחא!

אלא, מעלה עשו ביוחסין.

The gemara's first suggestion as to why a shetuki may not marry into the general population is that the rabbis forbade it lest he accidentally marry his sister. Since we do not know the identity of the shetuki's father, it is impossible to know who the shetuki's paternal siblings are, and he may end up marrying his sister. The gemara challenges this explanation, based on the mishna's allowance of a shetuki to marry a woman who is a shetukit; if the concern was that a shetuki may unwittingly marry his sister, this same concern should apply even if the woman is also a shetukit. The gemara counters that it is unreasonable to assume that every shetuki was fathered by the same man; "do all such men (who act in a promiscuous fashion with one woman) continue to act in a promiscuous fashion" and father children with many unmarried women? On the other hand, it is quite likely that the man who fathered the child has led an otherwise normal life, including having a wife and children. Thus, it is more likely that a shetuki has siblings who are not shetukim than that he has siblings who are!

The gemara offers a new challenge of its explanation as to why a shetuki cannot marry into the general community: if we are concerned that a shetuki may be a brother of a non-shetuki woman that he meets, he should not be allowed to marry a shetukit who is the daughter of a shetuki. Since genealogical status in inherited, the child of a shetuki is also considered a shetuki; thus, the child of a first-generation shetuki would have that same status even if his or her father is known. According to the mishna's blanket statement that a shetuki can marry a shetukit, there is no difference in this regard between first and second generation shetukim. However, according to what we said above that we are concerned that a shetuki may be the brother of a woman whose father is known, that same concern should apply to a first-generation shetuki and a second-generation shetukit!  

The gemara answers that it is uncommon for the first-generation shetuki and the second-generation shetukit to be siblings. The gemara counters that, similarly, it is not common for a shetuki to be the brother of a non-shetuki woman that he would like to marry. The gemara finally suggests a whole different reason to forbid a shetuki to marry in the community: ma'alah asu be-yuchesin, the Rabbis set a high standard in genealogical matters. Despite the fact that Biblical law allows a shetuki to marry into the community, the Rabbis forbade such marriages in order to safeguard the overall genealogical purity of the Jewish People.

Please note the structure of the gemara that we have just learned; sometimes, the gemara asks a bunch of questions and gives answers and it is difficult to keep track of the flow of the sugya. The gemara asked a question (why did the Rabbis forbid the marriage of a shetuki and a regular Jew) and suggested an answer (so that a shetuki does not end up marrying his sister). The gemara challenged this answer, fended off the challenge, and raised another challenge. Having rejected the first answer, the gemara offers a second answer (they set a high standard in genealogical matters), which is accepted.