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Rambam - 1 Chapter a Day

Issurei Biah - Chapter Fifteen

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Issurei Biah - Chapter Fifteen

1

What is meant by the Torah's prohibition against relations with a mamzer? [The term refers to a person conceived from] a forbidden sexual relationship.1 A niddah is an exception. A son conceived from such relationships is blemished,2 but is not a mamzer. When, however, a man enters into any other forbidden sexual relationships, whether through rape, or willingly, whether conscious of the prohibition or not,3 the offspring produced is a mamzer. Both male and female [mamzerim] are forbidden forever, as [Deuteronomy 23:3] states: "[A mamzer shall not enter God's congregation.] Also the tenth generation...," i.e., [the prohibition is] everlasting.

א

אֵי זֶהוּ (דברים כג ג) "מַמְזֵר" הָאָמוּר בַּתּוֹרָה. זֶה הַבָּא מֵעֶרְוָה מִן הָעֲרָיוֹת. חוּץ מִן הַנִּדָּה שֶׁהַבֵּן מִמֶּנָּה פָּגוּם וְאֵינוֹ מַמְזֵר. אֲבָל הַבָּא עַל שְׁאָר הָעֲרָיוֹת בֵּין בְּאֹנֶס בֵּין בְּרָצוֹן בֵּין בְּזָדוֹן בֵּין בִּשְׁגָגָה הַוָּלָד מַמְזֵר. וְאֶחָד זְכָרִים וְאֶחָד נְקֵבוֹת אֲסוּרִין לְעוֹלָם שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים כג ג) "גַּם דּוֹר עֲשִׂירִי" כְּלוֹמַר לְעוֹלָם:

2

When a mamzer marries a Jewish women or a Jewish man marries a female mamzer, once they enter into relations after consecration, they are punished by lashes.4 If the man consecrates the woman, but does not enter into relations, he does not receive lashes.5 If they enter into relations without consecration, they6 do not receive lashes because of relations with a mamzer.7 For the only instance where relations that involve a negative prohibition incur the punishment of lashes without the woman being consecrated is relations between a High Priest and a widow, as will be explained.8

When a man remarries his divorcee after she married another person, 9 the offspring are acceptable. For she is not considered an ervah.

ב

אֶחָד מַמְזֵר שֶׁנָּשָׂא יִשְׂרְאֵלִית אוֹ יִשְׂרְאֵלִי שֶׁנָּשָׂא מַמְזֶרֶת כֵּיוָן שֶׁבָּעֲלוּ אַחַר הַקִּדּוּשִׁין לוֹקִין. קִדֵּשׁ וְלֹא בָּעַל אֵינוֹ לוֹקֶה. בָּעַל וְלֹא קִדֵּשׁ אֵינָן לוֹקִין מִשּׁוּם מַמְזֵרוּת שֶׁאֵין לְךָ בְּכָל חַיָּבֵי לָאוִין מִי שֶׁלּוֹקֶה עַל בְּעִילָה בְּלֹא קִדּוּשִׁין אֶלָּא כֹּהֵן גָּדוֹל בְּאַלְמָנָה כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר. הַמַּחֲזִיר גְּרוּשָׁתוֹ מִשֶּׁנִּשֵּׂאת הַוָּלָד כָּשֵׁר שֶׁהֲרֵי אֵינָהּ עֶרְוָה:

3

When a gentile or a servant enter into relations with a Jewish woman, the child is acceptable. [This applies] whether the woman is unmarried or married, whether she was raped or engaged in relations willingly.10 When a gentile or a servant enter into relations with a female mamzer, the offspring is a mamzer.11 When a mamzer enters into relations with a female gentile, the offspring is a gentile. If [the child] converts, he is fit to marry within the Jewish people like other converts.12 If [a mamzer] enters into relations with a maid-servant, the offspring is a servant. If he is freed, the offspring is acceptable like other freed servants. He may marry a Jewish woman.

ג

עַכּוּ''ם וְעֶבֶד הַבָּא עַל בַּת יִשְׂרָאֵל הַוָּלָד כָּשֵׁר בֵּין פְּנוּיָה בֵּין בְּאֵשֶׁת אִישׁ בֵּין בְּאֹנֶס בֵּין בְּרָצוֹן. עַכּוּ''ם וְעֶבֶד הַבָּאִים עַל הַמַּמְזֶרֶת הַוָּלָד מַמְזֵר. וּמַמְזֵר הַבָּא עַל הָעַכּוּ''ם הַוָּלָד עַכּוּ''ם. נִתְגַּיֵּר הֲרֵי הוּא כָּשֵׁר כִּשְׁאָר גֵּרִים. וְאִם בָּא עַל הַשִּׁפְחָה הַוָּלָד עֶבֶד. שִׁחְרְרוֹ הַוָּלָד כָּשֵׁר כִּשְׁאָר עֲבָדִים מְשֻׁחְרָרִין וּמֻתָּר בְּבַת יִשְׂרָאֵל:

4

This is the general principle: When a child is born from a servant, a gentile, a maid-servant, or a female gentile, he is like his mother.13 We are not concerned with the father. For this reason, [the Sages] permitted a mamzer to marry a maid-servant to purify the lineage of his descendants. For he can free them and they will be free men.14 [Our Sages] did not ordain a decree forbidding a maid-servant to a mamzer,15 so that he can legitimize his sons.16

ד

זֶה הַכְּלָל בֵּן הַבָּא מִן הָעֶבֶד אוֹ מִן הָעַכּוּ''ם אוֹ מִן הַשִּׁפְחָה אוֹ מִן בַּת עַכּוּ''ם הֲרֵי הוּא כְּאִמּוֹ וְאֵין מַשְׁגִּיחִין עַל הָאָב. לְפִי דָּבָר זֶה הִתִּירוּ לְמַמְזֵר לִשָּׂא שִׁפְחָה כְּדֵי לְטַהֵר אֶת בָּנָיו שֶׁהֲרֵי הוּא מְשַׁחְרֵר אוֹתָם וְנִמְצְאוּ בְּנֵי חוֹרִין. וְלֹא גָּזְרוּ עַל הַשִּׁפְחָה לְמַמְזֵר מִפְּנֵי תַּקָּנַת הַבָּנִים:

5

When a person who is half a servant and half a freed man17 engages in relations with a married woman, a son born of that relationship has no way of legitimizing [his marriage relationships], because the dimension of him which is a mamzer18 and the dimension of him which is an acceptable Jew19 are intermingled. Therefore he is forbidden to engage in relations with a maid-servant.20 and his offspring share his status forever.21

ה

מִי שֶׁחֶצְיוֹ עֶבֶד וְחֶצְיוֹ בֶּן חוֹרִין הַבָּא עַל אֵשֶׁת אִישׁ אוֹתוֹ הַבֵּן אֵין לוֹ תַּקָּנָה מִפְּנֵי שֶׁצַּד מַמְזֵרוּת וְצַד כַּשְׁרוּת מְעֹרָבִין בּוֹ. לְפִיכָךְ אָסוּר בְּשִׁפְחָה וְנִמְצְאוּ בָּנָיו כְּמוֹתוֹ לְעוֹלָם:

6

When a gentile engages in relations with a maid-servant who immersed herself, the offspring are servants. When a servant who immersed himself engages in relations with a female gentile, the offspring are gentile. He is given his mother's status. When, however, a gentile engages relations with a gentile maid-servant or a gentile servant engages relations with a gentile woman, the status of the offspring follows that of the father.

ו

עַכּוּ''ם הַבָּא עַל הַשִּׁפְחָה שֶׁטָּבְלָה הֲרֵי זֶה עֶבֶד וְעֶבֶד שֶׁטָּבַל שֶׁבָּא עַל עַכּוּ''ם הַוָּלָד עַכּוּ''ם הַלֵּךְ אַחַר הָאֵם אֲבָל עַכּוּ''ם הַבָּא עַל שִׁפְחָה עַכּוּ''ם אוֹ עֶבֶד עַכּוּ''ם שֶׁבָּא עַל עַכּוּ''ם בַּת חוֹרִין הַלֵּךְ אַחַר הַזָּכָר:

7

A mamzer may marry a female convert and a female mamzer may marry a male convert, the offspring of both relationships are mamzerim.22 For the status of the offspring follows that of the blemished one. [The license for such a marriage is derived from] the verse: "[A mamzer shall not enter] God's congregation." The congregation of converts is not considered as "God's congregation."

ז

מַמְזֵר מֻתָּר לִשָּׂא גִּיֹּרֶת. וְכֵן הַמַּמְזֶרֶת מֻתֶּרֶת לְגֵר. וְהַבָּנִים מִשְּׁנֵיהֶם מַמְזֵרִים שֶׁהַוָּלָד הוֹלֵךְ אַחַר הַפָּגוּם שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים כג ג) "בִּקְהַל ה'" וּקְהַל גֵּרִים אֵינוֹ קָרוּי (דברים כג ג) "קְהַל ה'":

8

When a female convert marries a male convert and gives birth to a son, he is permitted to marry a female mamzer even though he was both conceived and born in holiness.23 This also applies to the son of his grandson [- or any other descendant -] until his connection with conversion is forgotten and it is not known that he [descends from] converts.24 Afterwards, he will be forbidden to marry a female mamzer. Converts and freed servants are bound by the same laws.25

ח

גִּיֹּרֶת שֶׁנִּשֵּׂאת לְגֵר וְהוֹלִידוּ בֵּן אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהוֹרָתוֹ וְלֵדָתוֹ בִּקְדֻשָּׁה הֲרֵי זֶה מֻתָּר בְּמַמְזֶרֶת. וְכֵן בֶּן בֶּן בְּנוֹ עַד שֶׁיִּשְׁתַּקַּע שֵׁם גֵּרוּתוֹ מִמֶּנּוּ וְלֹא יִוָּדַע שֶׁהוּא גֵּר וְאַחַר כָּךְ יֵאָסֵר בְּמַמְזֶרֶת. וְאֶחָד הַגֵּרִים וְאֶחָד הָעֲבָדִים מְשֻׁחְרָרִין דִּין אֶחָד לְכֻלָּן:

9

When a convert marries a native-born Jewess26 or a native-born Jew marries a convert, the son is a Jew in all contexts and is forbidden to marry a female mamzer.

ט

גֵּר שֶׁנָּשָׂא בַּת יִשְׂרָאֵל אוֹ יִשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁנָּשָׂא גִּיֹּרֶת הַוָּלָד יִשְׂרָאֵל לְכָל דָּבָר וְאָסוּר בְּמַמְזֶרֶת:

10

There are three categories of mamzerim: one that is definitely a mamzer, a mamzer whose status is a matter of doubt, and a mamzer by Rabbinic decree. What is meant by one who is definitely a mamzer? The offspring of a relationship that is definitely incestuous or adulterous, as we explained.27

A mamzer whose status is a matter of doubt is the offspring of a relationship that we are unsure whether it is adulterous or incestuous. For example, a man engaged in relations with a woman who was consecrated, but we are unsure if the consecration was effective,28 or who was divorced, but we are unsure whether the divorce was effective,29 or a similar situation.

A mamzer by Rabbinic decree: for example, a woman who heard that her husband died and remarried and then discovered that her husband was alive. Afterwards, her [first] husband engaged in relations with her while she was still married with her second husband, the offspring is a mamzer by Rabbinic decree.30

י

שְׁלֹשָׁה מַמְזֵרִים הֵם. מַמְזֵר וַדַּאי וּמַמְזֵר סָפֵק וּמַמְזֵר מִדִּבְרֵי סוֹפְרִים. אֵי זֶהוּ מַמְזֵר וַדַּאי זֶה שֶׁבָּא מִן הָעֶרְוָה הַוַּדָּאִית כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ. וּמַמְזֵר סָפֵק זֶה שֶׁבָּא מִסְּפֵק עֶרְוָה כְּגוֹן הַבָּא עַל הָאִשָּׁה שֶׁנִּתְקַדְּשָׁה סְפֵק קִדּוּשִׁין אוֹ נִתְגָּרְשָׁה סְפֵק גֵּרוּשִׁין וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן. מִדִּבְרֵי סוֹפְרִים. כְּגוֹן הָאִשָּׁה שֶׁשָּׁמְעָה שֶׁמֵּת בַּעְלָהּ וְנִשֵּׂאת וַהֲרֵי בַּעְלָהּ קַיָּם וּבָא בַּעְלָהּ הָרִאשׁוֹן עָלֶיהָ וְהִיא תַּחַת הַשֵּׁנִי הֲרֵי הַבֵּן מַמְזֵר מִדִּבְרֵי סוֹפְרִים:

11

When an unmarried woman becomes pregnant through a promiscuous relationship, we ask her: "What is [the status of] this fetus" or "...this child"? If she replies: "It is the child of a man of acceptable lineage; I entered into relations with an Israelite," her word is accepted and the son is acceptable.31 [This applies] even if most of the inhabitants of the city in which she engaged in relations are of unacceptable lineage.32

יא

פְּנוּיָה שֶׁנִּתְעַבְּרָה מִזְּנוּת אָמְרוּ לָהּ מַהוּ הָעֻבָּר הַזֶּה אוֹ הַיָּלוּד הַזֶּה אִם אָמְרָה בֵּן כָּשֵׁר הוּא וּלְיִשְׂרָאֵל נִבְעַלְתִּי הֲרֵי זוֹ נֶאֱמֶנֶת וְהַבֵּן כָּשֵׁר. וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁרֹב הָעִיר שֶׁזִּנְּתָה בָּהּ פְּסוּלִים:

12

If the child's mother was not questioned until she died, or she was a deaf-mute, mute, or intellectually or emotionally unstable, we consider the child as a mamzer whose status is questionable.33 [This ruling applies even] if she said: "I engaged in relations with so-and-so, the mamzer" or "...with so-and-so, the netin."34 Even if that person agrees with her statement, [the child's status is only doubtful. The rationale is:] Just as she engaged in relations with the person who admitted to her statement; so, too, she engaged in relations with others.35

This [child] is called a shituki.36 He knows the identity of his mother, but does not definitely know the identity of his father.

יב

וְאִם לֹא נִבְדְּקָה אִמּוֹ עַד שֶׁמֵּתָה אוֹ שֶׁהָיְתָה חֵרֶשֶׁת אוֹ אִלֶּמֶת אוֹ שׁוֹטָה אוֹ שֶׁאָמְרָה לִפְלוֹנִי הַמַּמְזֵר נִבְעַלְתִּי אוֹ לִפְלוֹנִי הַנָּתִין אֲפִלּוּ אוֹתוֹ פְּלוֹנִי מוֹדֶה שֶׁהוּא מִמֶּנּוּ הֲרֵי זֶה הַיָּלוּד סְפֵק מַמְזֵר. כְּשֵׁם שֶׁזִּנְּתָה עִם זֶה שֶׁהוֹדָה לָהּ כָּךְ זִנְּתָה עִם אַחֵר. וְזֶה הוּא הַנִּקְרָא שְׁתוּקִי שֶׁמַּכִּיר אֶת אִמּוֹ וְאֵינוֹ מַכִּיר אֶת אָבִיו וַדַּאי:

13

Similarly, a child that is found in the marketplace - he is called an asufi37 - is considered as a mamzer whose status is questionable.38 for we do not know his [lineage].

יג

וְכֵן הַבֵּן הַנִּמְצָא בַּשּׁוּק וְהוּא הַנִּקְרָא אֲסוּפִי הֲרֵי הוּא סְפֵק מַמְזֵר שֶׁאֵין אָנוּ יוֹדְעִים מַה הוּא:

14

[The following rules apply when] an unmarried woman engages in promiscuous relations says: "This child is the son of so-and-so." If that person is of acceptable lineage, the son is considered acceptable. Nevertheless, her word is not accepted for the child to be considered as the man's son.39 It appears to me, however, that we give consideration to her words and because of the doubt, that child is forbidden to marry the relatives of the [named] person.

If the [named] person is a mamzer, we do not accept her word to definitely deem the offspring as a mamzer on this basis, as we explained.40 Instead, we consider the child as a mamzer whose status is questionable.

יד

פְּנוּיָה שֶׁזִּנְּתָה וְאָמְרָה בֵּן זֶה בֶּן פְּלוֹנִי הוּא. אִם אוֹתוֹ פְּלוֹנִי כָּשֵׁר הֲרֵי הַבֵּן כָּשֵׁר וְאֵינָהּ נֶאֱמֶנֶת לִהְיוֹת זֶה בְּנוֹ שֶׁל פְּלוֹנִי. וְיֵרָאֶה לִי שֶׁחוֹשְׁשִׁין לִדְבָרֶיהָ וְיִהְיֶה הַבֵּן אָסוּר בִּקְרוֹבוֹת אוֹתוֹ פְּלוֹנִי מִסָּפֵק. וְאִם אוֹתוֹ פְּלוֹנִי מַמְזֵר אֵינָהּ נֶאֱמֶנֶת לִהְיוֹת הַבֵּן מַמְזֵר וַדַּאי עַל פִּיהָ כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ אֶלָּא יִהְיֶה סְפֵק מַמְזֵר:

15

[Different laws apply with regard to] a father who [makes statements with regard to] a child who is presumed to be his son. If he says: "This son of mine is a mamzer,"41 his word is accepted.42 If the son himself has children, his word is not accepted.43 For the Torah accepted his word with regard to his son alone. [This is derived from Deuteronomy 21:17:] "He will recognize the firstborn, the son of the hated." [Implied is that] he makes his identity known to others.44

טו

אֲבָל הָאָב שֶׁהֻחְזַק שֶׁזֶּה בְּנוֹ וְאָמַר בְּנִי זֶה מַמְזֵר הוּא נֶאֱמָן. וְאִם יֵשׁ לַבֵּן בָּנִים אֵינוֹ נֶאֱמָן. שֶׁלֹּא הֶאֱמִינָה אוֹתוֹ תּוֹרָה אֶלָּא עַל בְּנוֹ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים כא יז) "כִּי אֶת הַבְּכֹר בֶּן הַשְּׂנוּאָה יַכִּיר" יַכִּירֶנּוּ לַאֲחֵרִים:

16

Just as a father's word is accepted when he says: "This son of mine is my firstborn," so, too, his word is accepted if he says: "This son of mine is a mamzer," or "...the son of a divorced woman" or "...the son of a woman who performed chalitzah."45 Similarly, if his wife was pregnant, his word is accepted if he says: "This fetus is not my child. It is a mamzer." The child is definitely deemed as a mamzer.

If a person says that he himself is a mamzer, his word is accepted with regard to the prohibition against him marrying a native-born Jewess.46 He is, however, forbidden to marry a female mamzer47 until it is definitely known that he is a mamzer. The same laws apply to his son. If he has grandchildren, his word is not accepted with regard to the disqualification of his grandchildren. He can disqualify only himself.

טז

וּכְשֵׁם שֶׁנֶּאֱמָן לוֹמַר בְּנִי זֶה בְּכוֹר כָּךְ נֶאֱמָן לוֹמַר בְּנִי זֶה מַמְזֵר אוֹ בֶּן גְּרוּשָׁה אוֹ בֶּן חֲלוּצָה. וְכֵן אִם הָיְתָה אִשְׁתּוֹ מְעֻבֶּרֶת נֶאֱמָן לוֹמַר עֻבָּר זֶה אֵינוֹ בְּנִי וּמַמְזֵר הוּא וְיִהְיֶה מַמְזֵר וַדַּאי. וְהָאוֹמֵר עַל עַצְמוֹ שֶׁהוּא מַמְזֵר נֶאֱמָן לֶאֱסֹר עַצְמוֹ בְּבַת יִשְׂרָאֵל. וְאָסוּר בְּמַמְזֶרֶת עַד שֶׁיִּוָּדַע וַדַּאי שֶׁהוּא מַמְזֵר. וּבְנוֹ כָּמוֹהוּ. וְאִם יֵשׁ לוֹ בְּנֵי בָּנִים אֵינוֹ נֶאֱמָן לִפְסל בְּנֵי בָּנָיו וְלֹא יִפְסל אֶלָּא עַצְמוֹ:

17

[The following laws apply when] a woman who was consecrated48 becomes pregnant in her father's home. The offspring is assumed to be a mamzer.49 He is forbidden to marry both a native-born Jewess and a female mamzer.50

If his mother was questioned and said: "I became pregnant from the man who consecrated me," her word is accepted and the child is considered acceptable.51 If, however, that man contravenes her and says: "I never engaged in relations with her," the child is considered a mamzer. For even if the child was assumed to be his son, his word is accepted if he says: "My son is a mamzer."52

[Even in the latter situation,] the woman is not assumed to be a zonah.53 Instead, her word is accepted if she says: "I engaged in relations with the man who consecrated me." [Since] she is not a zonah, if she married a priest,54 she need not be divorced55 and offspring which she bears him are acceptable [as priests].56

יז

אֲרוּסָה שֶׁנִּתְעַבְּרָה וְהִיא בְּבֵית אָבִיהָ הֲרֵי הַוָּלָד בְּחֶזְקַת מַמְזֵר וְאָסוּר בְּבַת יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאָסוּר בְּמַמְזֶרֶת. וְאִם נִבְדְּקָה אִמּוֹ וְאָמְרָה מֵאֲרוּסִי נִתְעַבַּרְתִּי נֶאֱמֶנֶת וְהַוָּלָד כָּשֵׁר. וְאִם הִכְחִישָׁהּ הָאָרוּס וְאָמַר מֵעוֹלָם לֹא בָּאתִי עָלֶיהָ הֲרֵי הַוָּלָד מַמְזֵר שֶׁאֲפִלּוּ הָיָה בְּחֶזְקַת בְּנוֹ וְאָמַר בְּנִי זֶה מַמְזֵר נֶאֱמָן. וְהָאִשָּׁה אֵינָהּ בְּחֶזְקַת זוֹנָה אֶלָּא נֶאֱמֶנֶת לוֹמַר לָאָרוּס נִבְעַלְתִּי וְאֵינָהּ זוֹנָה. וְאִם נִשֵּׂאת לְכֹהֵן לֹא תֵּצֵא וּוְלָדָהּ מִמֶּנּוּ כָּשֵׁר:

18

If people at large gossip about her while she is consecrated, [saying that] she was promiscuous with the man to whom she was consecrated and with others, the child is a mamzer whose status is questionable.57 [This applies] even if the man to whom she was consecrated was intimate with her in her father's home. For just as she acted loosely with the man to whom she was consecrated, she could have acted loosely with others. If she was questioned and said: "This fetus was conceived by the man to whom I am consecrated," the child is acceptable as explained [above].

יח

הָיוּ הָעָם מְרַנְּנִים אַחֲרֶיהָ וְהִיא אֲרוּסָה עִם אֲרוּסָהּ וְעִם אֲנָשִׁים אֲחֵרִים אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁבָּא עָלֶיהָ אֲרוּסָהּ בְּבֵית חָמִיו הֲרֵי זֶה סְפֵק מַמְזֵר. כְּשֵׁם שֶׁהִפְקִירָה עַצְמָהּ לַאֲרוּסָהּ הִפְקִירָה לַאֲחֵרִים. וְאִם נִבְדְּקָה וְאָמְרָה עֻבָּר זֶה מֵאֲרוּסִי הֲרֵי זֶה כָּשֵׁר כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ:

19

When a married woman58 is pregnant and says: "This fetus is not my husband's," her word is not accepted to render the child illegitimate. [Instead,] we assume that the child is acceptable. For the Torah accepted only the word of the father. If the father says that it is not his son or he is overseas,59 we assume that the son is a mamzer.60

If the woman said: "I was impregnated by a gentile," or "...by a servant," the child is acceptable.61 For the husband cannot deny her words.62 A fetus will not remain in its mother's womb for more than twelve months.63

יט

אֵשֶׁת אִישׁ שֶׁהָיְתָה מְעֻבֶּרֶת וְאָמְרָה עֻבָּר זֶה אֵינוֹ מִבַּעֲלִי אֵינָהּ נֶאֱמֶנֶת לְפָסְלוֹ. וַהֲרֵי הַבֵּן בְּחֶזְקַת כַּשְׁרוּת. שֶׁלֹּא הֶאֱמִינָה תּוֹרָה אֶלָּא הָאָב. אָמַר הָאָב אֵינוֹ בְּנִי אוֹ שֶׁהָיָה בַּעְלָהּ בִּמְדִינַת הַיָּם הֲרֵי זֶה בְּחֶזְקַת מַמְזֵר. וְאִם אָמְרָה מֵעַכּוּ''ם וְעֶבֶד נִתְעַבַּרְתִּי הֲרֵי הַוָּלָד כָּשֵׁר. שֶׁאֵין הַבַּעַל יָכוֹל לְהַכְחִישָׁהּ בִּדְבָרֶיהָ. וְאֵין הָעֻבָּר מִשְׁתַּהֶה בִּמְעֵי אִמּוֹ יֶתֶר עַל שְׁנֵים עָשָׂר חֹדֶשׁ:

20

Although there is a rumor circulating to the fact that a woman has committed adultery and everyone is gossiping about her, we do not suspect that her children are mamzerim. [The rationale is that] the person who most frequently has relations with her is her husband. It is permitted to marry her daughter, even as an initial and preferred option.64 With regard to her own status, we suspect that she is a zonah.65 If her conduct was very lewd, we also suspect the lineage of her children.66

כ

אֵשֶׁת אִישׁ שֶׁיָּצָא עָלֶיהָ קוֹל שֶׁהָיְתָה זוֹנָה תַּחַת בַּעְלָהּ וְהַכּל מְרַנְּנִין אַחֲרֶיהָ אֵין חוֹשְׁשִׁין לְבָנֶיהָ שֶׁמָּא מַמְזֵרִים הֵם שֶׁרֹב בְּעִילוֹת אֵצֶל הַבַּעַל. וּמֻתָּר לִשָּׂא בִּתָּהּ לְכַתְּחִלָּה. אֲבָל הִיא עַצְמָהּ חוֹשְׁשִׁין לָהּ מִשּׁוּם זוֹנָה. וְאִם הָיְתָה פְּרוּצָה יוֹתֵר מִדַּאי אַף לְבָנֶיהָ חוֹשְׁשִׁין:

21

According to Scriptural Law, a person suspected of being a mamzer is permitted to marry among the Jewish people.67 [Deuteronomy 23:3] states: "A mamzer shall not enter God's congregation." [Implied is that] one who is definitively a mamzer may not marry among the Jewish people, not one whose status is questionable. Nevertheless, our Sages raised the level [of purity required] with regard to lineage and forbade those of questionable status from marrying among the Jewish people.

Accordingly, a male and a female who are definitely mamzerim may marry. A mamzer whose status is a matter of doubt,68 a shituki,69 or an asufi70 are forbidden to marry native-born Jewesses.

כא

דִּין תּוֹרָה שֶׁסְּפֵק מַמְזֵר מֻתָּר לָבוֹא בַּקָּהָל שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים כג ג) "לֹא יָבֹא מַמְזֵר בִּקְהַל ה'" מַמְזֵר וַדַּאי אָסוּר לָבוֹא בַּקָּהָל וְלֹא סָפֵק. אֲבָל חֲכָמִים עָשׂוּ מַעֲלָה בְּיוּחֲסִין וְאָסְרוּ גַּם הַסְּפֵקוֹת לָבוֹא בַּקָּהָל. לְפִיכָךְ מַמְזֵר וַדַּאי מֻתָּר לִשָּׂא מַמְזֶרֶת וַדָּאִית אֲבָל מַמְזֵר סָפֵק אוֹ שְׁתוּקִי אוֹ אֲסוּפִי אָסוּר לִשָּׂא בַּת יִשְׂרָאֵל:

22

[A man of the latter status] is forbidden to marry a female mamzer. Even a female mamzer whose status is questionable is forbidden to him. For perhaps one of them is not a mamzer, but the other is definitely a mamzer. A mamzer by Rabbinic decree may marry a female mamzer by Rabbinic decree.71 Similarly, in any other instances [where a person is forbidden to marry] because of a doubt, one person of this status may not marry another.72

כב

וְאָסוּר לִשָּׂא מַמְזֶרֶת וַאֲפִלּוּ מַמְזֶרֶת מִסָּפֵק אֲסוּרָה לוֹ שֶׁמָּא אֶחָד מֵהֶן אֵינוֹ מַמְזֵר וְהַשֵּׁנִי מַמְזֵר וַדַּאי. וּמַמְזֵר שֶׁל דִּבְרֵיהֶם מֻתָּר לִשָּׂא מַמְזֶרֶת שֶׁל דִּבְרֵיהֶם. וְכֵן שְׁאָר הַסְּפֵקוֹת אֲסוּרִין לִשָּׂא זֶה מִזֶּה:

23

What is implied? Shitukim, asufim, and those whose status as mamzerim is indefinite are forbidden to marry each other. If they married, the union may not be maintained. Instead, they must divorce with a formal bill of divorce.73 The offspring of such relationships are [mamzerim of] indefinite status like their parents.

Individuals of indefinite status like this have no option except to marry converts.74 The status of their offspring follows their blemish.

כג

כֵּיצַד. שְׁתוּקִים וַאֲסוּפִים וּסְפֵק מַמְזֵרִים אֲסוּרִים לָבוֹא זֶה עִם זֶה וְאִם נָשְׂאוּ לֹא יְקַיְּמוּ אֶלָּא יוֹצִיאוּ בְּגֵט וְהַוָּלָד סָפֵק כַּאֲבוֹתָיו. וְאֵין לִסְפֵקוֹת אֵלּוּ תַּקָּנָה אֶלָּא שֶׁיִּשְּׂאוּ מִן הַגֵּרִים וְהַוָּלָד הוֹלֵךְ אַחַר הַפָּגוּם:

24

What is implied? When a shituki or an asufi marries a female convert or a freed maid-servant, a convert, or a freed servant marries a female shituki or asufi, the offspring are shitukim or asufim.

כד

כֵּיצַד. שְׁתוּקִי אוֹ אֲסוּפִי שֶׁנָּשָׂא גִּיֹּרֶת אוֹ מְשֻׁחְרֶרֶת אוֹ גֵּר וּמְשֻׁחְרָר שֶׁנָּשָׂא שְׁתוּקִית אוֹ אֲסוּפִית. הַוָּלָד שְׁתוּקִי אוֹ אֲסוּפִי:

25

When an asufi is found in a city inhabited by gentiles, whether the majority are gentiles or the majority are Jews, the child is considered as a gentile of indefinite status with regard to his lineage.75 If he consecrates a woman, she needs a bill of divorce because of the doubt.76 If someone kills him, he is not executed for doing so.77

כה

הָאֲסוּפִי שֶׁנִּמְצָא בְּעִיר שֶׁיֵּשׁ בָּהּ עַכּוּ''ם בֵּין שֶׁהָיָה רֹב עַכּוּ''ם אוֹ רֹב יִשְׂרָאֵל הֲרֵי זֶה סְפֵק עַכּוּ''ם לְעִנְיַן יוּחֲסִין. קִדֵּשׁ אִשָּׁה צְרִיכָה גֵּט מִסָּפֵק. מִי שֶׁהֲרָגוֹ לֹא הָיָה נֶהֱרַג עָלָיו:

26

If the court had him immersed for the sake of conversion78 or he immersed on his own initiative after he attained majority, his status is the same as any asufi that is found in Jewish cities.79

If the majority of the inhabitants of the city are gentile, it is permitted to feed him meat from animals that were not ritually slaughtered.80 If the majority were Jewish, we return his lost articles as is the law with regard to Jews. If the populations are equally balanced,81 it is a mitzvah to maintain his life82 and we remove an avalanche from him on the Sabbath.83 With regard to damages, we follow the same principle that applies in all cases of doubt in financial law: When a person who seeks to expropriate [money] from a colleague, the burden of proof is upon him.84

כו

הִטְבִּילוּהוּ בֵּית דִּין לְשֵׁם גֵּרוּת אוֹ שֶׁטָּבַל מִשֶּׁהִגְדִּיל הֲרֵי הוּא כִּשְׁאָר אֲסוּפִים הַנִּמְצָאִים בְּעָרֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל. הָיָה רֹב הָעִיר עַכּוּ''ם מֻתָּר לְהַאֲכִילוֹ נְבֵלוֹת. הָיָה רֻבָּן יִשְׂרָאֵל מַחְזִירִין לוֹ אֲבֵדָתוֹ כְּיִשְׂרָאֵל. מֶחֱצָה עַל מֶחֱצָה מִצְוָה לְהַחֲיוֹתוֹ כְּיִשְׂרָאֵל. וּמְפַקְּחִין עָלָיו אֶת הַגַּל בְּשַׁבָּת וַהֲרֵי הוּא לְעִנְיַן נְזָקִין כְּכָל סְפֵק מָמוֹן הַמּוֹצִיא מֵחֲבֵרוֹ עָלָיו הָרְאָיָה:

27

It appears to me that whenever there is a gentile woman or a maid-servant who is fit to give birth in a city, since an asufi that is discovered there is considered to possibly have the status of a gentile or a servant, if he marries a female convert as we stated,85 there is a doubt whether his wife is a married woman.86 One who enters into relations with her is not liable, because we do not execute individuals when there is a doubt involved.87

Similarly, it appears to me that when a shituki marries a woman who could be forbidden to him as an ervah,88 there is a doubt whether she is a married woman, for consecration is not effective with regard to the ariot.

כז

יֵרָאֶה לִי שֶׁכָּל מְדִינָה שֶׁיֵּשׁ בָּהּ שִׁפְחָה אוֹ עַכּוּ''ם הָרְאוּיָה לֵילֵד הוֹאִיל וְהָאֲסוּפִי הַנִּמְצָא שָׁם סְפֵק עַכּוּ''ם אוֹ סְפֵק עֶבֶד כְּשֶׁיִּשָּׂא הַגִּיֹּרֶת כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ הֲרֵי זוֹ סְפֵק אֵשֶׁת אִישׁ וְהַבָּא עָלֶיהָ פָּטוּר שֶׁאֵין הוֹרְגִין עַל סָפֵק. וְכֵן יֵרָאֶה לִי שֶׁהַשְּׁתוּקִי שֶׁנָּשָׂא אִשָּׁה שֶׁאֶפְשָׁר שֶׁהִיא עֶרְוָה עָלָיו וַהֲרֵי הִיא סְפֵק אֵשֶׁת אִישׁ שֶׁאֵין קִדּוּשִׁין תּוֹפְסִין בַּעֲרָיוֹת:

28

What is meant by "a woman who could be forbidden to him as an ervah"? Any woman whose father or brother was alive when his mother became pregnant89 or any woman who was divorced or widowed. For it is possible that she is his father's wife or the wife of his father's brother.90

כח

וְאֵי זוֹ הִיא הָאִשָּׁה שֶׁאֶפְשָׁר שֶׁתִּהְיֶה עֶרְוָה עָלָיו. כָּל אִשָּׁה שֶׁהָיָה אָבִיהָ אוֹ אָחִיהָ קַיָּם כְּשֶׁנִּתְעַבְּרָה בּוֹ אִמּוֹ. וְכָל אִשָּׁה שֶׁנִּתְגָּרְשָׁה אוֹ נִתְאַלְמְנָה שֶׁמָּא אֵשֶׁת אָבִיו הִיא אוֹ אֵשֶׁת אֲחִי אָבִיו:

29

What is the source on which I rely to say that a shituki or an asufi are not forbidden to marry any woman who could be forbidden to him as an ervah?91 For an acceptable child whose mother was questioned92 is not forbidden to marry any woman who could be forbidden to him as an ervah. And it is written in the Torah [Leviticus 19:29]: "Do not desecrate your daughter to have her act promiscuously." [Commenting on this verse,] our Sages state:93 If this would happen, a father will marry his daughter and a brother will marry his sister.

If the law was that anyone who does not definitely know the identity of his father would be forbidden to marry any woman who could be forbidden to him as an ervah, this situation could not arise and the earth would never become filled with incestuous relations.94 From this,95 we learn that we do not forbid ariot and consider them as relatives because of the doubt unless we definitely know that she is forbidden to him as an ervah. For were we to say this, all of the orphans in the world who did not know their fathers would be forbidden to marry in all situations lest they encounter a forbidden relationship.

כט

וּמִנַּיִן אֲנִי אוֹמֵר שֶׁאֵין הַשְּׁתוּקִי וְהָאֲסוּפִי אָסוּר בְּכָל אִשָּׁה שֶׁאֶפְשָׁר שֶׁתִּהְיֶה עֶרְוָה עָלָיו. שֶׁהֲרֵי הַכָּשֵׁר שֶׁנִּבְדְּקָה אִמּוֹ אֵינוֹ אָסוּר בְּכָל אִשָּׁה שֶׁאֶפְשָׁר שֶׁתִּהְיֶה עֶרְוָה עָלָיו. וַהֲרֵי נֶאֱמַר בַּתּוֹרָה (ויקרא יט כט) "אַל תְּחַלֵּל אֶת בִּתְּךָ לְהַזְנוֹתָהּ". וְאָמְרוּ חֲכָמִים שֶׁאִם יַעֲשֶׂה זֶה נִמְצָא אָב נוֹשֵׂא בִּתּוֹ וְאָח נוֹשֵׂא אֲחוֹתוֹ. וְאִלּוּ הָיָה הַדִּין שֶׁכָּל מִי שֶׁאֵינוֹ יוֹדֵעַ אָבִיו בְּוַדַּאי אָסוּר בְּכָל אִשָּׁה שֶׁאֶפְשָׁר שֶׁתִּהְיֶה עֶרְוָה עָלָיו. לֹא הָיִינוּ בָּאִים לַמִּדָּה הַזֹּאת לְעוֹלָם וְלֹא תִּהְיֶה הָאָרֶץ מְלֵאָה זִמָּה. הָא לָמַדְתָּ שֶׁאֵין אוֹסְרִין עֲרָיוֹת וּמַחֲזִיקִין אוֹתָן בִּשְׁאֵר בָּשָׂר בְּסָפֵק עַד שֶׁיִּוָּדַע בְּוַדַּאי שֶׁזּוֹ עֶרְוָה עָלָיו. שֶׁאִם אַתָּה אוֹמֵר כֵּן כָּל הַיְתוֹמִים שֶׁבָּעוֹלָם שֶׁלֹּא הִכִּירוּ אֲבוֹתֵיהֶם הָיוּ אֲסוּרִין לְהִנָּשֵׂא בְּכָל מָקוֹם שֶׁמָּא יִפְגְּעוּ בְּעֶרְוָה:

30

When a child was abandoned on the road and afterwards,96 one came and said: "He is my son and I abandoned him," his word is accepted. Similarly, the mother's word is accepted. If the child was taken in from the marketplace and afterwards, his father and mother came and said: "This is our son," their word is not accepted. [The rationale is that] he has already been categorized as an asufi.

In the years of famine, their word is accepted. It is because of the famine that they abandoned him, for they desire that others sustain them. Therefore they remained silent until the child was gathered in.

ל

הַוָּלָד שֶׁהָיָה מֻשְׁלָךְ בַּדֶּרֶךְ וּבָא אֶחָד וְאָמַר בְּנִי הוּא וַאֲנִי הִשְׁלַכְתִּיו נֶאֱמָן. וְכֵן אִמּוֹ נֶאֱמֶנֶת. נֶאֱסַף מִן הַשּׁוּק וּבָאוּ אָבִיו וְאִמּוֹ אַחַר כֵּן וְאָמְרוּ בְּנֵנוּ הוּא אֵין נֶאֱמָנִין הוֹאִיל וְיָצָא עָלָיו שֵׁם אֲסוּפִי. וּבִשְׁנֵי רְעָבוֹן נֶאֱמָנִין שֶׁמִּפְּנֵי רָעָב הִשְׁלִיכוּהוּ וְהֵן רוֹצִין שֶׁיָּזוּנוּ אוֹתוֹ אֲחֵרִים וּלְפִיכָךְ שָׁתְקוּ עַד שֶׁנֶּאֱסַף:

31

If the child was found circumcised, bundled, salted,97 blue eye-paint98 was applied to his eyes, an amulet was placed around his neck,99 it was placed under a interwoven tree that a wild beast could not enter and was close to the city, or it was found in a synagogue near the public domain or at the side of the public domain, the laws pertaining to an asufi do not apply. Since [the parents] are protecting the child so that it does not die, we can assume that it is acceptable.100

If, however, it is abandoned in the midst of the road or far away from a city, even under a tree, or in a synagogue, or it is found hanging in a place accessible by a wild beast,101 it is considered as an asufi.

לא

נִמְצָא הַוָּלָד מָהוּל אוֹ שֶׁהֻחְתַּל אוֹ שֶׁהֻמְלַח אוֹ שֶׁהָיָה הַכֹּחַל בְּעֵינָיו אוֹ הַקְּמֵעִין בְּצַוָּארוֹ אוֹ שֶׁנִּמְצָא תַּחַת אִילָן מְסֻבָּךְ שֶׁאֵין חַיָּה נִכְנֶסֶת לוֹ וְהָיָה סָמוּךְ לָעִיר אוֹ שֶׁנִּמְצָא בְּבֵית הַכְּנֶסֶת הַסָּמוּךְ לִרְשׁוּת הָרַבִּים אוֹ בְּצִדֵּי רְשׁוּת הָרַבִּים אֵין כָּאן מִשּׁוּם אֲסוּפִי. מֵאַחֵר שֶׁהֵן מְשַׁמְּרִין אוֹתוֹ שֶׁלֹּא יָמוּת בְּחֶזְקַת כָּשֵׁר הוּא. אֲבָל אִם נִמְצָא מֻשְׁלָךְ בְּאֶמְצַע הַדֶּרֶךְ אוֹ רָחוֹק מִן הָעִיר אֲפִלּוּ תַּחַת אִילָן אוֹ בְּבֵית הַכְּנֶסֶת אוֹ שֶׁנִּמְצָא תָּלוּי בָּאִילָן מָקוֹם שֶׁחַיָּה מַגַּעַת לוֹ הֲרֵי זֶה אֲסוּפִי:

32

A mid-wife's word is accepted if she states: "This child is a priest," "...a Levite," "...a netin,"102 or "...a mamzer," because the child's lineage has not been established and is not known.

When does the above apply? When her faithfulness has been established and an objection is not raised against her. If, however, an objection was raised against her and one person said: "She is testifying falsely," her word is not accepted.103 The child is considered as acceptable,104 but is not considered as [a priest or Levite].105

לב

נֶאֱמֶנֶת חַיָּה לוֹמַר זֶה הַבֵּן כֹּהֵן הוּא אוֹ לֵוִי אוֹ נָתִין אוֹ מַמְזֵר מִפְּנֵי שֶׁלֹּא הֻחְזַק וְאֵין אָנוּ יוֹדְעִין יִחוּסָן. בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים בְּשֶׁהֻחְזְקָה בְּנֶאֱמָנוּת וְלֹא עִרְעֵר עָלֶיהָ אָדָם. אֲבָל אִם עִרְעֵר עָלֶיהָ אֲפִלּוּ אֶחָד וְאָמַר בְּשֶׁקֶר מְעִידָה אֵינָהּ נֶאֱמֶנֶת וַהֲרֵי הַבֵּן בְּחֶזְקַת כָּשֵׁר וְאֵין לוֹ יִחוּס:

33

It is a clear matter that a shituki is forbidden to marry a shituki and an asufi is forbidden to marry an asufi, because their status is doubtful.106 Nevertheless, even mamzerim of a definite status and netinim may intermarry. The offspring is a mamzer.107 A shituki or an asufi are permitted to marry netinim and other converts. The offspring is considered as [a mamzer] of doubtful status.

לג

דָּבָר בָּרוּר שֶׁהַשְּׁתוּקִי אָסוּר לִשָּׂא שְׁתוּקִית. וַאֲסוּפִי אָסוּר בַּאֲסוּפִית מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהֵן סְפֵקוֹת. אֲבָל מַמְזֵרִים וַדָּאִים וּנְתִינִים מֻתָּרִים לָבוֹא זֶה בָּזֶה וְהַוָּלָד מַמְזֵר. וּשְׁתוּקִי וַאֲסוּפִי מֻתָּרִין בִּנְתִינִים וּבִשְׁאָר הַגֵּרִים וְהַוָּלָד סָפֵק:

Footnotes
1.

These refer to a variety of incestuous and adulterous relationships as listed in the beginning of this text.

2.

I.e., he has a spiritual taint to his character.

3.

The difference between whether relations were willful, forced, or inadvertent is relevant only with regard to the punishment received by the man and woman. The child born of the offspring is considered as a mamzer regardless. This law teaches us an important lesson with regard to sexual morality. The effects of our deeds on our offspring is binding, regardless of whether we repent and/or seek to refine ourselves afterwards.

4.

As is the punishment for the violation of any Scriptural commandment.

5.

For the consecration alone does not involve the violation of a Scriptural commandment.

6.

Here the Rambam mentions both the man and the woman, for both are forbidden to engage in relations. In the former clause, he refers to the man, because the consecration is his responsibility.

7.

The Rambam's wording implies that the couple do receive lashes for their relations, for they have violated the prohibition: "There shall not be a promiscuous woman" (Deuteronomy 23:18) which forbids relations that are not carried out for the sake of marriage (Maggid Mishneh, based on Hilchot Ishut 1:4).

The Rambam's opinion is that the prohibition against relations with a mamzer applies only within the context of marriage - depends on the prooftext cited above: "A mamzer shall not enter the congregation of God," i.e., shall not marry among the Jewish people. According to the Rambam, the implication is that the prohibition must involve marriage (Rav Avraham, the son of the Rambam, as quoted in the Kessef Mishneh).

The Ra'avad, the Ramban, Rav Moshe HaCohen, and others do not agree with the Rambam's ruling and maintain that this prohibition applies even if there was no consecration. Relations alone are sufficient to establish liability. See the discussion of the issue in the Maggid Mishneh and Kessef Mishneh.

8.

Chapter 17, Halachah 3.

9.

I.e., and her second husband died or divorced her. The Rambam describes the prohibition against a man remarrying his divorcee after she was consecrated by another man in Hilchot Gerushin 11:12. The Maggid Mishneh states that the Rambam feels it necessary to emphasize that the offspring of such relations are not mamzerim even though the prohibition is not punishable by kereit, because Deuteronomy 24:4, the source for the prohibition describes such relations as "an abomination." That term is often used with regard to the ariot, the more severe sexual prohibitions.

10.

Thus although the woman committed adultery and is forbidden to her husband, the child is not considered as a mamzer. The rationale is that we pay no attention to the seed of the gentile or the servant, as stated in Halachah 4. Halachicly, it is as if the woman conceived the child independently.

11.

This law is based on the same rationale. Since we pay no attention to the seed of the servant or the gentile, the child takes on the same quality as the mother. Just as she is disqualified, so, too, is he.

12.

For there is no difference between him and other gentiles. See the following halachah.

13.

Whether Jewish, gentile, or a servant.

The Maggid Mishneh and Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 7:17) quote views which state that if the offspring is female, she may not marry into the priesthood.

14.

The mamzer will purchase the servant and treat her as his wife. The children she bears him will be his property and they will not be mamzerim. If he desires, he may free them, at which point, their status is the same as other converts. If, by contrast, a mamzer would marry a convert, although there is no prohibition involved, the offspring would be mamzerim (Halachah 7).

15.

As she is forbidden to an ordinary Jewish male by Rabbinic decree (Chapter 12, Halachah 11).

16.

There are Rabbis today who advise that this practice should be followed by mamzerim. They should meet gentile woman, have them convert as servants, and live with them.

17.

E.g., a slave was owned by two partners, one of whom freed him and one did not. See Hilchot Avadim 5:4.

18.

The dimension of the father which was free causes him to have a dimension of mamzerut. For a free man who engages in relations with a married woman conceives a mamzer.

19.

For when a servant engages in relations with a married woman, the offspring are acceptable.

20.

This is forbidden to him as to other acceptable Jews, because of the dimension of his being that shares that status.

Rashi differs with this approach and maintains that he should be permitted to engage in relations with a maid-servant. See Chelkat Mechokek 4:19, Beit Shmuel 4:28.

21.

He may marry a convert or a freed servant, but their offspring share his status as stated in the Halachah 7.

22.

The Beit Shmuel 4:35 emphasizes that although such marriages are permitted, there is a certain unadvisable dimension to it, for it is undesirable to increase the number of mamzerim among the Jewish people.

23.

I.e., although he and his parents are considered as full Jews with regard to all matters, the prohibition against marrying a mamzer does not apply to him.

24.

The Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 4:22) quotes the Rambam's view, but also that of Rabbenu Asher which states that after ten generations a convert is forbidden to marry a female mamzer.

25.

See Chapter 13, Halachah 11.

26.

Although there are some Rishonim who differ with the Rambam, the Shulchan Aruch (loc. cit.) quotes the Rambam's view.

27.

In Halachah 1 of this chapter.

28.

See Hilchot Ishut 4:21-22 for examples of such questionable consecrations.

29.

See Hilchot Gerushin 5:13 for examples of such questionable divorces.

30.

See Hilchot Gerushin 10:7 which explains this situation. Although the marriage of the second husband is not valid, for a married woman cannot be married to another man, our Sages decreed that the second marriage be considered binding with regard to this point: That a child fathered by her first husband be considered a mamzer.

31.

The Maggid Mishneh quotes an opinion that maintains that this ruling applies only after the fact. As an initial and preferred option, a native-born Jewess should not marry such a person. The Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 4:26) quotes the Rambam's ruling. See also Chapter 18, Halachot 13-15.

Despite the fact that we have no existing presumption regarding the child's lineage, we rule that he or she is acceptable. The rationale is that the child has no alternative; its status depends on this ruling (Maggid Mishneh).

32.

E.g., they are mamzerim.

33.

For we have no way of determining the status of the father and it is possible that the father was a mamzer.

34.

I.e., her word is not effective in conclusively determining the child's status as a mamzer for the reason the Rambam proceeds to state. Her word is accepted in having the child deemed as legitimate, but not in having him deemed as a mamzer. See also Halachah 14 and Chapter 18, Halachah 14.

35.

We assume that she was promiscuous with more than one person and thus we have no way of determining the identity of the child's father. Thus the presumed father has no way of knowing whether or not the child was actually his (Maggid Mishneh).

The Rambam maintains that this rule applies even when the woman does not have a reputation for promiscuity. See Chelkat Mechokek 4:25 and Beit Shmuel 4:40 which discuss this issue.

36.

Shituki means "one who is silenced." Rashi, Yevamot 37a, explains that this name is given because the child will call out for his father and his mother will silence him.

37.

The term asufi means "one who was gathered in," i.e., the child was taken in from the street.

38.

Halachah 31 qualifies this ruling, stating that it applies only when it appears that the parents abandoned the child to die. If it is evident that the parents desired the child to live, e.g., they circumcised it, they gave it medical treatment, and/or placed it in a location where it was likely to be found, we assume that it was of acceptable lineage and was abandoned only because its parents were unable to provide for it.

39.

I.e., he does not inherit the named person's property, nor is his wife freed from the obligation of chalitzah if he dies childless (Maggid Mishneh). See Hilchot Yibbum ViChalitzah 3:4 where the latter law is discussed.

40.

See Halachah 12.

41.

I.e., he is not my son, but born from an adulterous relationship.

42.

Note Hilchot Nachalot 4:3 which states that once a father acknowledges a child as his son, he cannot declare him as illegitimate afterwards.

43.

For by invalidating the legitimacy of the son, he would automatically be invalidating the lineage of his offspring and the Torah did not give him that power as the Rambam continues to explain. See also Hilchot Nachalot 4:2.

44.

The verse speaks of a father recognizing his heirs in connection with the division of his estate. If the father states that he did not father a son that was presumed to be his, that son is thus identified as a mamzer, for he will have been conceived through adultery.

45.

The latter two concepts are relevant with regard to the sons of priests as will be explained in Chapter 19.

46.

His statement is not accepted as testimony, for a person may not testify against himself. Nevertheless, the restrictions he placed against himself are binding. It is as if he took a vow, forbidding himself to marry a native-born Jewess (Beit Shmuel 4:53)

47.

For we fear that he made these statements in order to be granted this leniency.

48.

According to Jewish Law, marriage is a two-staged process involving: a) consecration, kiddushin or erusin, and b) marriage, nissuin, when the couple begin living together as man and wife. From the time of consecration onward, however, the woman is forbidden to engage in relations with other men.

49.

These laws differ from those applying to a married woman, as stated in Halachot 19-20. The rationale is that we do not assume that a couple that is merely consecrated share intimacy with the same degree of consistency as a married couple. Nor is a consecrated woman likely to the same degree of fidelity as a married woman.

50.

He is forbidden to marry a native-born Jewess for it is possible that he is a mamzer. He is forbidden to marry a female mamzer, because it is possible that he is an acceptable Jewish male.

51.

As in Halachah 11. In this instance, since a bond has already been established between the couple, it is even more reasonable to accept her statements. This is speaking about a situation where the husband is not present to be questioned (Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 4:27). The Rama states that the child is also considered as the presumed father's son with regard to receiving a share in the inheritance.

52.

As stated in Halachah 15. In contrast to a situation where the presumed father could not be asked, this child is definitely a mamzer and is forbidden to marry a native-born Jew or Jewess (ibid.).

53.

The term literally means "promiscuous woman," but has a specific halachic meaning, as the Rambam states in Chapter 18, Halachah 1: "A woman who entered into relations with a man who she is forbidden to marry." After consecration, every man would be prohibited to this woman.

The Torah gave the husband the right to determine his son's status. He does not, however, have the right to determine that of the woman (Ketubot 13a).

54.

After her first husband died.

55.

Nevertheless, since the man who consecrated her contradicts her statements, the initial and preferred option is for her not to marry a priest (Beit Shmuel 4:47). Similarly, if the person who consecrated her is a priest, he is forbidden to marry her.

56.

If the woman had been forbidden to the priesthood, her offspring would not be considered priests, as stated in Chapter 19.

57.

This is speaking about an instance when we cannot clarify the child's status by asking the mother.

58.

We have translated the term according to the prevalent understanding of the Rambam's ruling. Note, however, the Rama (Even HaEzer 4:29) who questions whether these laws also apply with regard to a woman who was only consecrated.

59.

And thus could not have fathered the child.

60.

The Beit Shmuel 4:52 interprets the Rambam's words as meaning "the child is a mamzer of questionable status," for the possibility exists that he was conceived by a gentile.

61.

As indicated by Halachah 11, the woman's word is accepted with regard to defining the legitimacy of her child's lineage.

62.

He does not know with how many people and with whom she was promiscuous.

63.

Although a full-term pregnancy is nine months, our Sages spoke of the possibility of a woman carrying a baby for twelve months. Although this is abnormal, when a man left his home between nine and twelve months before a child was born, they desired to consider that possibility rather than deem the child as a mamzer. See Yevamot 80b.

Rama (Even HaEzer 4:14) states that the above leniency is granted only when we do not see moral lapses in the woman's conduct. If, however, she conducts herself in an unbecoming manner, we suspect the child's lineage.

64.

Rashi (Yevamot 27b) states that one should marry the offspring only when there is no other alternative.

65.

And hence may not marry a priest. Even an Israelite should refrain from marrying such a woman (Maggid Mishneh). After the fact, if she marries a priest, we do not require a divorce (Beit Shmuel 4:24).

66.

Sotah 27b raises this question, but leaves the matter unresolved. Accordingly, it is appropriate to be stringent (Maggid Mishneh).

67.

According to the Rambam, the general principle is that according to Scriptural Law, whenever there is a doubt whether an act is forbidden, there is no prohibition. Our Rabbis, however, decreed that when there is a doubt with regard to a Scriptural prohibition, we are stringent. Others differ and maintain that according to Scriptural Law, if there is a doubt concerning a prohibition, it must be observed. There is a special leniency, stemming from a verse from the Torah, when a doubt arises whether a person is a mamzer or not. See Chapter 18, Halachah 17.

68.

See Halachah 10.

69.

See Halachah 12.

70.

See Halachah 13.

71.

For there is no Scriptural prohibition involved.

72.

As the Rambam continues to explain in the following halachah.

73.

For the marriage, though forbidden, is binding according to Jewish Law.

74.

As stated in Halachah 7.

75.

We treat him as neither a Jew nor a gentile as the Rambam continues to illustrate. The Maggid Mishneh explains that the ruling follows the principle: Whenever a doubt arises and the permitted and the forbidden entities are fixed, we do not follow the majority, but instead, consider the situation as equally balanced.

76.

I.e., the couple are not allowed to remain married for perhaps he is a gentile, but a formal divorce is necessary, for perhaps he is a Jew and the consecration is binding.

77.

For perhaps he is a gentile.

78.

As is the law which applies with regard to any child convert (Chapter 13, Halachah 7).

79.

He is bound by the restrictions applying to a mamzer whose status is doubtful despite the possibility that they might not apply because he is a convert.

The Ra'avad rules that in such a situation, he is considered as any other convert and allowed to marry a native-born Jewesses The Maggid Mishneh explains the rationale for the Ra'avad's position, stating that there is a multiple doubt involved: Maybe he is not of Jewish origin, and if he is of Jewish origin, maybe he is not a mamzer. Moreover, the entire prohibition against an asufi is Rabbinic in origin. (For according to Scriptural Law, only a mamzer whose status is definite is forbidden). The Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 4:33) quotes the Rambam's view. The Chelkat Mechokek 4:31 questions why the Ra'avad's view is not cited, but the Beit Shmuel 4:54 explains that according to the Rambam, with regard to questions of lineage, we are stringent even in such situations.

80.

This and the following laws apply when the person did not convert (Maggid Mishneh). For the principle that we consider the populations as equally balanced applies only with regard to questions of lineage.

81.

The Kessef Mishneh notes that Ketubot 15b, the source for the Rambam's ruling, could be interpreted as making such a statement only in a situation where the majority of the inhabitants are Jewish. He, however, offers an interpretation of the passage which conforms to the Rambam's ruling.

82.

I.e., we must support him in situations of need.

83.

To save his life even though doing so involves violation of the Sabbath laws.

The Maggid Mishneh cites opinions which maintain that this ruling applies even if the majority of the inhabitants are gentiles. For when a question of life and death is involved, we do not require a majority. See Hilchot Shabbat 2:20-21 and notes for an explanation of the matter.

84.

There are certain situations where the laws applying to gentiles are more severe than those applying to a Jew. For example, if an ox belonging to a gentile that is not known to gore does in fact gore an ox belonging to a Jew, the gentile is required to pay full damages. A Jew, by contrast, would be required to pay only partial damages. If such a situation would arise with regard to a person whose identity is in doubt, he could tell the plaintiff: "If you prove I am not a Jew, I will pay full damages."

85.

Halachah 23. I.e., if he marries without undergoing conversion (Chelkat Mechokek 4:36).

86.

For perhaps he is a gentile or a servant. Just as he could have been born by a Jewish mother, he could have been born by one of these. We do not consider the degree of probability involved.

87.

Needless to say, such relations are forbidden. The Rambam is emphasizing that punishment is not meted out. Because punishment is not given unless we are certain there is a prohibition involved.

The Ra'avad differs with the Rambam's view and maintains that even with regard to capital punishment, we follow the probability. Hence if the majority of the inhabitants of the city are Jewish, we assume that the asufi is Jewish and his consecration of the woman is binding. The Maggid Mishneh justifies the Rambam's ruling, explaining that in all instances, the asufi is not considered as definitely Jewish.

88.

A woman who could be a close relative with whom relations are forbidden. See the following halachah.

89.

For perhaps the woman he marries is his sister (since he does not know the identity of his father, it is possible that her father was also his father) or the sister of his father.

90.

I.e., before she was divorced or widowed her husband (or her husband's brother) fathered the shituki.

91.

The license the Rambam speaks about applies according to Scriptural Law. According to Rabbinic Law, a shituki is forbidden to marry a native-born Jew or Jewess (Halachot 21-23).

92.

See Halachah 11.

93.

Yevamot 37b. The verse refers to a situation where a father allows his daughter to act promiscuously and thus it will not be known who is the father of her child. If this would happen in numerous instances, there would be many children who did not know the identity of their fathers and it would be possible for a brother to marry his sister.

94.

For if a man who did not know the identity of his father were restricted in the above manner, there would be no room for our Sages' concern, for he would be prohibited against marrying any woman whose ties could in any way be incestuous.

95.

I.e., from the fact that our Sages did not enforce such a restriction.

96.

Before the child was brought home.

97.

It was customary in the Talmudic era to apply salt to newborn babies to strengthen their limbs.

98.

This substance was used in the Talmudic era for both medicinal and cosmetic purposes.

99.

I.e., the mystical writing in the amulet was intended to protect the child.

100.

We assume that a mother may want to abandon a child who is a mamzer so that it will die and there will be no sign of her sin. If, however, she and/or the father performed acts which indicate that they desired the child to live - even though they did not desire to care for it themselves - we assume that the child was of legitimate origin.

101.

I.e., in a place where it would most likely die or be killed.

102.

See Chapter 12, Halachot 22-23.

103.

The Beit Shmuel 4:60 explains that generally, the protest of one witness is not accepted against testimony which was previously accepted. In this instance, however, the child's identity is not known at all and there is no existing presumption regarding his status. Hence the protest cancels out the original testimony.

104.

Even though the midwidfe said that he was a mamzer.

105.

If the midwife said he was of this lineage.

106.

I.e., it is possible that one of them will be acceptable and one illegitimate.

107.

For the child takes on the blemished identity, as stated in Halachah 7.

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The Mishneh Torah was the Rambam's (Rabbi Moses ben Maimon) magnum opus, a work spanning hundreds of chapters and describing all of the laws mentioned in the Torah. To this day it is the only work that details all of Jewish observance, including those laws which are only applicable when the Holy Temple is in place. Participating in one of the annual study cycles of these laws (3 chapters/day, 1 chapter/day, or Sefer Hamitzvot) is a way we can play a small but essential part in rebuilding the final Temple.
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