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Do the requirements to honor a Kohen require one to honor a female Kohen?


Background: There is a requirement to honor Kohanim (Vayikra 21:8; Mishneh Torah, Positive Mitzvot, 32; Moed Katan 28b.27). Among the ways this commandment is fulfilled are allowing a Kohen to make Hamotzi and to lead bentching for those present; in a gathering of people, a Kohen should be the first to speak; a non-Kohen should offer a Kohen the best piece of food among that which he is serving to his guests (Mishnah Berurah 201:13); a non-Kohen may not make use of a Kohen (Rema, Orach Chaim 128:45). (There are some exceptions discussed elsewhere, but those are not relevant to the question at hand.)

Question: The same way that certain female relatives of Kohanim (i.e. their wives, and their daughters who are unmarried and never had children) are able to eat Terumah, no different than their male relatives (Vayikra 22:11-13), does the requirement to honor Kohanim extend to these female relatives as well? For example, if a group of women are forming a Zimun (as per Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 199:7) and one of them is married to a Kohen, should they have the Kohen's wife lead?

Inspired by a discussion on Discord last week with msh210 and Isaac Moses. "Two are better than one...and a three-ply cord will not hastily be broken" (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).

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When I saw "female kohen" in the title I thought you meant a bat kohen, but it looks like you're asking about wives. Or are you asking about both? (I don't know if Mrs. Kohen is "a (female) kohen".) Monica Cellio 29 days ago

@Monica I assumed, based on the basis of the question, that it means "female who can eat teruma," which includes both a kohen's unmarried daughter and a kohen's wife. Perhaps DonielF should edit to make the population in question explicit. Isaac Moses 29 days ago

The verse's reason for the command clearly excludes women וְקִדַּשְׁתּוֹ--כִּי-אֶת-לֶחֶם אֱלֹהֶיךָ, הוּא מַקְרִיב AA​ 28 days ago

@AA although וקדשתו does apply to בעלי מומין JoelK 28 days ago

1 answer


Minchat Chinuch 269 seems to take it as a given that the requirement to honor the kohen does not apply to a kohenet.

He writes:

וטומטום ואנדרוגינוס כיון שהם ספק נראה דמצוה לקדשם אף על פי שאין ראויים לעבוד וגם אין חולקים בקדשים כמבואר בה' מעה"ק מכל מקום כיון דהם ס' זכרים מצוה לקדשם מספק.‏

As for a tumtum or androgynous, since it is a matter of doubt, there is a mitzvah to sanctify them, even though they are not fit to perform the temple service and do not receive sacrificial portions (as explained in the Laws of the Sacrificial Service) nevertheless, since they are males out of doubt there is a commandment to sanctify them, out of doubt.

The implication is that the requirements of וקדשתו (which include honoring the kohen) only apply to males and do not extend to a kohenet.

1 comment

It could still be the wife of a kohein needs to be respected like the wife of a talmid chacham does AA​ 28 days ago

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