There are three women who are forbidden to all priests [by Scriptural Law]: a divorcee, a zonah,1 and a challalah.2 There are four [forbidden to] a High Priest. These three and a widow.

Bound by [the prohibitions applying to a High Priest] are one anointed with the oil of anointment3 or one who assumed his position by wearing the additional garments,4 one serving in that capacity, a High Priest who was appointed and then removed from the office, and a priest anointed to lead a war.5 All of these are commanded [to marry] a virgin and are forbidden to marry a widow.6


שָׁלֹשׁ נָשִׁים נֶאֶסְרוּ עַל כָּל הַכֹּהֲנִים. גְּרוּשָׁה זוֹנָה וַחֲלָלָה. וְעַל כֹּהֵן גָּדוֹל אַרְבַּע. אֵלּוּ הַשָּׁלֹשׁ וְהָאַלְמָנָה. אֶחָד כֹּהֵן גָּדוֹל מָשׁוּחַ בְּשֶׁמֶן הַמִּשְׁחָה אוֹ הַמְרֻבֶּה בְּגָדִים. וְאֶחָד כֹּהֵן הָעוֹבֵד וְאֶחָד כֹּהֵן גָּדוֹל שֶׁמִּנּוּהוּ וְעָבַר. וְכֵן כֹּהֵן מְשׁוּחַ מִלְחָמָה. כֻּלָּן מְצֻוִּין עַל הַבְּתוּלָה וַאֲסוּרִין בְּאַלְמָנָה:


Any priest who marries7 one of these three women - whether a High Priest or an ordinary priest - and engages in relations is punished by lashes. If he enters into promiscuous relations with her, he does not receive lashes for [violating the prohibitions against] a zonah, a divorcee, and a challalah.8 [This is derived from the fact that Leviticus 21:7 states the prohibition using the term:] "They shall not take." [Implied is that the prohibition does not apply] unless he takes - marries - [the woman] and enters into relations with her.9


כָּל כֹּהֵן שֶׁנָּשָׂא אַחַת מֵהַשָּׁלֹשׁ נָשִׁים אֵלּוּ בֵּין גָּדוֹל בֵּין הֶדְיוֹט וּבָעַל לוֹקֶה. וְאִם בָּא עָלֶיהָ דֶּרֶךְ זְנוּת אֵינוֹ לוֹקֶה מִשּׁוּם זוֹנָה אוֹ גְּרוּשָׁה אוֹ חֲלָלָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כא ז) "לֹא יִקָּחוּ" עַד שֶׁיִּקַּח וְיִבְעל:


When, by contrast, a High Priest enters into relations with a widow, he receives lashes even though he did not consecrate her. [This is derived from ibid.:15 which states]: "And he shall not desecrate...." As soon as he engages in relations with her, he desecrates her and disqualifies her from the priesthood.10 A zonah, challalah, and divorcee, by contrast, are disqualified from the priesthood before one enters into relations with them.11 Therefore a High Priest alone receives lashes for merely entering into relations with a widow even though she was not consecrated. For he desecrates her and he is warned against desecrating people of acceptable lineage, [other] women and his offspring.


אֲבָל כֹּהֵן גָּדוֹל שֶׁבָּא עַל אַלְמָנָה לוֹקֶה אַחַת אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלֹּא קִדֵּשׁ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כא טו) "לֹא יְחַלֵּל" כֵּיוָן שֶׁבְּעָלָהּ חִלְּלָהּ וּפְסָלָהּ לִכְהֻנָּה. אֲבָל זוֹנָה וַחֲלָלָה וּגְרוּשָׁה הֲרֵי הֵן מְחֻלָּלוֹת וְעוֹמְדוֹת קֹדֶם בְּעִילָתוֹ. וּלְפִיכָךְ לוֹקֶה כֹּהֵן גָּדוֹל לְבַדּוֹ עַל בְּעִילַת אַלְמָנָה לְבַדָּהּ אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵין שָׁם קִדּוּשִׁין שֶׁהֲרֵי חִלְּלָהּ וְהוּא מֻזְהָר שֶׁלֹּא יְחַלֵּל כְּשֵׁרִים לֹא אִשָּׁה וְלֹא זַרְעוֹ:


When a High Priest consecrates a widow and enters into relations with her, he receives two sets of lashes: one because of the prohibition: "He shall not take a widow," and one because of the prohibition: "He shall not desecrate." Whether a High Priest or an ordinary priest marries one of these four, but does not engage in relations, he does not receive lashes.


קִדֵּשׁ כֹּהֵן גָּדוֹל אַלְמָנָה וּבְעָלָהּ לוֹקֶה שְׁתַּיִם. אַחַת מִשּׁוּם (ויקרא כא יד) "אַלְמָנָה לֹא יִקָּח". וְאַחַת מִשּׁוּם (ויקרא כא טו) "לֹא יְחַלֵּל". וּבֵין כֹּהֵן גָּדוֹל וּבֵין כֹּהֵן הֶדְיוֹט שֶׁנָּשָׂא אִשָּׁה מִן הָאַרְבַּע וְלֹא בָּעַל אֵינוֹ לוֹקֶה:


Whenever [the priest] receives lashes, the woman [with whom he engages in relations] is given lashes.12 Whenever he does not receive lashes, she does not receive lashes. For there is no difference between a man and a woman with regard to punishments with the exception of a designated maidservant as explained.13


וְכָל מָקוֹם שֶׁהוּא לוֹקֶה הִיא לוֹקָה. וְכָל מָקוֹם שֶׁהוּא אֵינוֹ לוֹקֶה הִיא אֵינָהּ לוֹקָה. שֶׁאֵין הֶפְרֵשׁ בֵּין אִישׁ לְאִשָּׁה לָעֳנָשִׁין זוּלָתִי בְּשִׁפְחָה חֲרוּפָה בִּלְבַד כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ:

Mishneh Torah (Moznaim)

Featuring a modern English translation and a commentary that presents a digest of the centuries of Torah scholarship which have been devoted to the study of the Mishneh Torah by Maimonides.


Any priest - whether a High Priest or an ordinary priest - who enters into relations with a gentile woman receives lashes for relations with a zonah.14 [There is a difference between her and a Jewish woman,]15 because she cannot be consecrated. He is forbidden to enter into relations with any zonah, whether a Jewess or a gentile.


כָּל כֹּהֵן הַבָּא עַל הַכּוּתִית בֵּין גָּדוֹל בֵּין הֶדְיוֹט לוֹקֶה מִשּׁוּם זוֹנָה. שֶׁהֲרֵי אֵינָהּ בַּת קִדּוּשִׁין וְהוּא אָסוּר בִּבְעִילַת זוֹנָה בֵּין יִשְׂרְאֵלִית בֵּין כּוּתִית:


A woman who has undergone the rite of chalitzah (a chalutzah)16 is forbidden to a priest according to the Rabbinic tradition, for she resembles a divorcee.17 [If he engages in relations with such a woman,] he is given "stripes for rebellious conduct."18

When a priest marries a woman whose status as a chalutzah is doubtful,19 he is not compelled to divorce her.20 She is acceptable21 and her child is acceptable.22 For our Sages did not decree against a woman whose status as a chalutzah is doubtful, only against one who is definitely in that category. When it is questionable if a woman is a divorcee,23 a widow,24 a zonah,25 or a challalah,26 [a priest who marries her] is given "stripes for rebellious conduct" and required to divorce her with a get.27


הַחֲלוּצָה אֲסוּרָה לְכֹהֵן מִדִּבְרֵי סוֹפְרִים מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהִיא כִּגְרוּשָׁה וּמַכִּין אוֹתוֹ מַכַּת מַרְדּוּת מִדִּבְרֵיהֶם. כֹּהֵן שֶׁנָּשָׂא סְפֵק חֲלוּצָה אֵין מוֹצִיאִין אוֹתָהּ מִתַּחְתָּיו וְהִיא כְּשֵׁרָה וּוְלָדָהּ כָּשֵׁר. מִפְּנֵי שֶׁלֹּא גָּזְרוּ עַל סְפֵק חֲלוּצָה אֶלָּא עַל חֲלוּצָה וַדָּאִית. וְכֵן מִי שֶׁהָיְתָה סְפֵק גְּרוּשָׁה אוֹ סְפֵק אַלְמָנָה אוֹ סְפֵק זוֹנָה וּסְפֵק חֲלָלָה מַכִּין אוֹתוֹ מַכַּת מַרְדּוּת וּמוֹצִיא בְּגֵט:


There is a major general principle that applies with regard to all of the Torah's prohibitions. One prohibition does not take effect when another prohibition is in effect unless:

a) both of the prohibitions take effect at the same time;28

b) the latter prohibition forbids additional entities besides [the entity that was originally] prohibited;29

c) when the scope of the [latter] prohibition encompasses other entities together with [the entity that was originally] prohibited.30


כְּלָל גָּדוֹל הוּא בְּכָל אִסּוּרִים שֶׁבַּתּוֹרָה שֶׁאֵין אִסּוּר חָל עַל אִסּוּר אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן הָיוּ שְׁנֵי אִסּוּרִין בָּאִין כְּאַחַת. אוֹ שֶׁהָיָה הָאִסּוּר הָאֶחָד מוֹסִיף דְּבָרִים אֲחֵרִים עַל אוֹתוֹ הָאִסּוּר. אוֹ אִם הָיָה כּוֹלֵל דְּבָרִים אֲחֵרִים עִם אִסּוּר זֶה:


Accordingly,31 When a woman was a widow and then she became a divorcee,32 and then she became a challalah,33 and then she became a zonah,34 should a High Priest engage in relations with her afterwards, he receives four sets of lashes for engaging in relations once. For a widow is forbidden to a High Priest, but permitted to an ordinary priest.


לְפִיכָךְ אִשָּׁה שֶׁהָיְתָה אַלְמָנָה וְנַעֲשֵׂית גְּרוּשָׁה וְנַעֲשֵׂית חֲלָלָה וְנַעֲשֵׂית זוֹנָה וּבָא עָלֶיהָ כֹּהֵן גָּדוֹל אַחַר כָּךְ לוֹקֶה אַרְבַּע מַלְקִיּוֹת עַל בִּיאָה אַחַת. לְפִי שֶׁהָאַלְמָנָה אֲסוּרָה לְכֹהֵן גָּדוֹל וּמֻתֶּרֶת לְהֶדְיוֹט.


When she becomes a divorcee, she becomes forbidden by an additional prohibition [for] she is also forbidden to an ordinary priest. Therefore, [even for the High Priest,] another prohibition aside from that against relations with a widow is added to her. She is, nevertheless, still permitted to partake of terumah.35 If she becomes a challalah, another prohibition is added to her, for she is forbidden to partake of terumah. She is, nevertheless, still permitted to marry an Israelite.

If she becomes a zonah, another prohibition is added to her, since there is a type of promiscuous relations that would cause her to be forbidden to an Israelite, e.g., a married woman engaged in adultery voluntarily.

The same principle applies36 to an ordinary priest who engaged in relations with a divorcee who became a challalah and then a zonah. He receives three sets of lashes for engaging in relations once. If this order is altered,37 she only receives one set of lashes.38


חָזְרָה לִהְיוֹת גְּרוּשָׁה נוֹסָף בָּהּ אִסּוּר וְנֶאֱסֶרֶת לְכֹהֵן הֶדְיוֹט. לְפִיכָךְ נוֹסָף בָּהּ אִסּוּר אַחֵר עַל אִסּוּר הָאַלְמָנָה וַעֲדַיִן הִיא מֻתֶּרֶת לֶאֱכל בִּתְרוּמָה. נַעֲשֵׂית חֲלָלָה נוֹסָף בָּהּ אִסּוּר שֶׁהֲרֵי נֶאֱסֶרֶת בִּתְרוּמָה וַעֲדַיִן הִיא מֻתֶּרֶת לְיִשְׂרָאֵל. נַעֲשֵׂית זוֹנָה הוֹאִיל וְיֵשׁ שֵׁם זְנוּת שֶׁאוֹסְרָהּ עַל יִשְׂרָאֵל אִם זִנְּתָה אִשְׁתּוֹ בְּרָצוֹן נוֹסָף בָּהּ אִסּוּר אַחֵר. וְהוּא הַדִּין לְכֹהֵן הֶדְיוֹט שֶׁבָּא עַל הַגְּרוּשָׁה שֶׁנַּעֲשֵׂית חֲלָלָה וְאַחַר כָּךְ זוֹנָה שֶׁהוּא לוֹקֶה שָׁלֹשׁ עַל בִּיאָה אַחַת. אֲבָל אִם נִשְׁתַּנָּה סֵדֶר זֶה אֵינוֹ לוֹקֶה אֶלָּא אַחַת:


When a woman is widowed from several men or divorced from several men, [a High Priest or a priest] receive only one set of lashes for each time they engage in relations.39 A woman is forbidden as a widow whether she was widowed after [only] consecration or after marriage.


מִי שֶׁנִּתְאַלְמְנָה מֵאֲנָשִׁים הַרְבֵּה אוֹ נִתְגָּרְשָׁה מֵאֲנָשִׁים הַרְבֵּה אֵין לוֹקִין עָלֶיהָ אֶלָּא אַחַת עַל כָּל בִּיאָה. אַלְמָנָה בֵּין מִן הָאֵרוּסִין בֵּין מִן הַנִּשּׂוּאִין אֲסוּרָה:


When the brother of a High Priest dies, even if the deceased had [merely] consecrated his wife,40 [the High Priest] should not perform the rite of yibbum. Instead, he should perform chalitzah.41

If a woman became his yevamah while he was an ordinary priest and he was then appointed as the High Priest, he should not perform yibbum once he has been appointed.42 [This applies] even if he already gave his word43 [that he would marry] her while he was an ordinary priest.44 If, however, he consecrated a widow and was then appointed as a High Priest, he should marry her.45

If she was consecrated, but the status of the consecration was questionable and then the person who consecrated her died, she is considered a widow of questionable status.46


כֹּהֵן גָּדוֹל שֶׁמֵּת אָחִיו אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהוּא מִן הָאֵרוּסִין הֲרֵי זֶה לֹא יְיַבֵּם אֶלָּא חוֹלֵץ. נָפְלָה לוֹ יְבָמָה וְהוּא כֹּהֵן הֶדְיוֹט וְנִתְמַנָּה לִהְיוֹת כֹּהֵן גָּדוֹל אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁעָשָׂה בָּהּ מַאֲמָר כְּשֶׁהוּא כֹּהֵן הֶדְיוֹט הֲרֵי זֶה לֹא יְיַבֵּם אַחַר שֶׁנִּתְמַנָּה. אֲבָל אִם אֵרֵס אֶת הָאַלְמָנָה וְנִתְמַנָּה לִהְיוֹת כֹּהֵן גָּדוֹל הֲרֵי זֶה יִכְנֹס אַחַר שֶׁנִּתְמַנָּה. הָיְתָה מְקֻדֶּשֶׁת סְפֵק קִדּוּשִׁין וּמֵת אֲרוּסָהּ הֲרֵי זוֹ סְפֵק אַלְמָנָה:


It is a positive commandment for a High Priest to marry a virgin maiden.47 When she reaches the age of maturity,48 she becomes forbidden to him,49 as [Leviticus 21:13] states: "He shall marry a virgin woman." "Woman" implies that she is not a minor. "Virgin" implies that she has not reached maturity. What is implied? She has departed from the category of a minor, but has not fully reached maturity, i.e., a maiden. He may never be married to two women at the same time.50 [This is derived from the singular form of the term] "woman," i.e., one, but not two.


מִצְוַת עֲשֵׂה עַל כֹּהֵן גָּדוֹל שֶׁיִּשָּׂא נַעֲרָה בְּתוּלָה. וּמִשֶּׁתִּבְגֹּר תֵּאָסֵר עָלָיו שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כא יג) "וְהוּא אִשָּׁה בִבְתוּלֶיהָ יִקָּח". אִשָּׁה לֹא קְטַנָּה. בִּבְתוּלֶיהָ וְלֹא בּוֹגֶרֶת. הָא כֵּיצַד. יָצָאת מִכְּלַל קַטְנוּת וְלִכְלַל בַּגְרוּת לֹא בָּאָה זוֹ נַעֲרָה. וְאֵינוֹ נוֹשֵׂא שְׁתֵּי נָשִׁים לְעוֹלָם כְּאַחַת שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר אִשָּׁה אַחַת וְלֹא שְׁתַּיִם:


A High Priest may not marry a woman who has lost her virginity even if she never engaged in relations.51 If she engaged in anal intercourse, it is as if she engaged in vaginal intercourse.52 If she engaged in [anal]53 intercourse with an animal, she is permitted.


כֹּהֵן גָּדוֹל לֹא יִשָּׂא מֻכַּת עֵץ אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלֹּא נִבְעֲלָה. [נִבְעֲלָה שֶׁלֹּא כְּדַרְכָּהּ הֲרֵי זוֹ כְּנִבְעֲלָה כְּדַרְכָּהּ. נִבְעֲלָה לִבְהֵמָה הֲרֵי זוֹ מֻתֶּרֶת]:


A High Priest who married a woman who had engaged in relations previously is not punished by lashes.54 He must, however, divorce her with a get.55 If he married a woman past the age of maturity or one who lost her virginity for reasons other than relations, he may remain married to her.

If he consecrated a woman who had previously engaged in relations and then he was appointed as the High Priest, he may marry her after his appointment.56


כֹּהֵן גָּדוֹל שֶׁנָּשָׂא בְּעוּלָה אֵינוֹ לוֹקֶה אֲבָל מוֹצִיא בְּגֵט. נָשָׂא בּוֹגֶרֶת אוֹ מֻכַּת עֵץ הֲרֵי זֶה יְקַיֵּם. אֵרֵס בְּעוּלָה וְנִתְמַנָּה כֹּהֵן גָּדוֹל הֲרֵי זֶה יִכְנֹס אַחַר שֶׁנִּתְמַנָּה:


If he raped or seduced a virgin maiden, he may not marry her.57 [This applies] even if he raped or seduced her while he was an ordinary priest and was appointed as the High Priest before he married her. If he married her, he must divorce her.


אָנַס נַעֲרָה בְּתוּלָה אוֹ פִּתָּה אוֹתָהּ אֲפִלּוּ אֲנָסָהּ אוֹ פִּתָּה אוֹתָהּ כְּשֶׁהוּא כֹּהֵן הֶדְיוֹט וְנִתְמַנָּה כֹּהֵן גָּדוֹל קֹדֶם שֶׁיִּכְנֹס הֲרֵי זֶה לֹא יִכְנֹס. וְאִם כָּנַס מוֹצִיא:


If he consecrates a girl while she was a minor and she reaches full maturity while [consecrated] to him before he marries her, he should not marry her.58 [The rationale is that] her body underwent a change.59 If he married her, he need not divorce her.60


אֵרֵס אֶת הַקְּטַנָּה וּבָגְרָה תַּחְתָּיו קֹדֶם נִשּׂוּאִין הֲרֵי זֶה לֹא יִכְנֹס מִפְּנֵי שֶׁנִּשְׁתַּנָּה גּוּפָהּ. וְאִם כָּנַס לֹא יוֹצִיא:


[The prohibition against marrying a divorcee applies] whether she was divorced after consecration or after marriage. If, however, a girl is released from marriage through the rite of mi'un, she is permitted to a priest, as we explained in Hilchot Gerushin.61 [This applies even if] her husband first divorced her with a get, then remarried her, and then she was released through mi'un.62

Any woman who is not fit to perform the rite of chalitzah,63 but nevertheless performs it is not disqualified from [marrying] a priest.


אַחַת גְּרוּשָׁה מִן הָאֵרוּסִין אוֹ מִן הַנִּשּׂוּאִין. אֲבָל הַמְמָאֶנֶת אֲפִלּוּ גֵּרְשָׁהּ בְּגֵט וְהֶחֱזִירָהּ וּמֵאֲנָה בּוֹ הֲרֵי זוֹ מֻתֶּרֶת לְכֹהֵן כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ בְּהִלְכוֹת גֵּרוּשִׁין. וְכָל מִי שֶׁאֵינָהּ רְאוּיָה לַחֲלִיצָה אִם נֶחְלְצָה לֹא נִפְסְלָה לִכְהֻנָּה:


[The following rules apply if] a rumor begins to circulate: "So-and-so, the priest wrote..." or "...gave a get for his wife," and she lives with him and serves him.64 She is not forced to be divorced from her husband.65 If she married another priest,66 she should be forced to be divorced.67


יָצָא עָלֶיהָ קוֹל אִישׁ פְּלוֹנִי כֹּהֵן כָּתַב גֵּט לְאִשְׁתּוֹ אוֹ נָתַן גֵּט לְאִשְׁתּוֹ וַהֲרֵי הִיא יוֹשֶׁבֶת תַּחְתָּיו וּמְשַׁמַּשְׁתּוֹ. אֵין מוֹצִיאִין אוֹתָהּ מִתַּחַת בַּעְלָהּ. וְאִם נִשֵּׂאת לְכֹהֵן אַחֵר תֵּצֵא מִן הַשֵּׁנִי:


If a rumor circulated in a city68 that a woman was consecrated and then divorced after consecration, her [status] becomes suspect, as explained in Hilchot Gerushin.69 If, however, a rumor is circulated that she is a chalutzah, her [status] does not become suspect.70


יָצָא שְׁמָהּ בָּעִיר שֶׁנִּתְקַדְּשָׁה וְנִתְגָּרְשָׁה מִן הַקִּדּוּשִׁין חוֹשְׁשִׁין לָהּ כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ בְּהִלְכוֹת גֵּרוּשִׁין. אֲבָל אִם יָצָא עָלֶיהָ קוֹל שֶׁהִיא חֲלוּצָה אֵין חוֹשְׁשִׁין לָהּ:


If a rumor is circulated that a virgin has engaged in relation, her [status] does not become suspect and she may marry a High Priest. If a rumor is circulated that she is a maid-servant, her [status] does not become suspect and she may marry a priest.71

If a rumor72 circulates in a city that she is acting promiscuously,73 her [status] does not become suspect. Even if her husband separated from her because she violated [the practices of modesty required by] the Jewish faith74 or because [of the testimony] of witnesses [concerning] unseemly conduct,75 but he died before giving her a get, she is permitted [to marry] a priest. For a woman like the above should not be forbidden [to a priest] unless there is definite testimony [that she acted promiscuously] or she admits [doing so] herself.76


יָצָא קוֹל עַל הַבְּתוּלָה שֶׁהִיא בְּעוּלָה אֵין חוֹשְׁשִׁין לָהּ וְתִנָּשֵׂא לְכֹהֵן גָּדוֹל. יָצָא עָלֶיהָ קוֹל שֶׁהִיא שִׁפְחָה אֵין חוֹשְׁשִׁין לָהּ וְתִנָּשֵׂא אֲפִלּוּ לְכֹהֵן. יָצָא לָהּ שֵׁם מְזַנָּה בָּעִיר אֵין חוֹשְׁשִׁין לָהּ. וַאֲפִלּוּ הוֹצִיאָהּ בַּעְלָהּ מִשּׁוּם שֶׁעָבְרָה עַל דַּת יְהוּדִית אוֹ בְּעֵדֵי דָּבָר מְכֹעָר וּמֵת קֹדֶם שֶׁיִּתֵּן לָהּ גֵּט הֲרֵי זוֹ מֻתֶּרֶת לְכֹהֵן. שֶׁאֵין אוֹסְרִין אִשָּׁה מֵאֵלּוּ אֶלָּא בְּעֵדוּת בְּרוּרָה אוֹ בְּהוֹדָאַת פִּיהָ: