QUESTION: The Mishnah records a Machlokes regarding whether or not a Gerushah
(a divorced woman) who is Arusah (engaged) to a Kohen may eat Terumah. Rebbi
Meir says that she may not eat Terumah, while Rebbi Elazar and Rebbi Shimon
say that she may eat Terumah. RASHI gives two explanations for the Mishnah.
According to the first explanation, the Mishnah is referring to a Bas Kohen
who, until now, was entitled to eat Terumah because after her divorce she
returned to her father's home. The Machlokes is whether she may *continue*
eating Terumah, or whether she becomes invalidated from eating Terumah once
she becomes engaged to a Kohen (to whom she -- as a Gerushah -- is
prohibited). It seems that according to this explanation, *all* Tana'im
agree, when the Arusah is *not* a Bas Kohen, that she may not *begin* to eat
Terumah based on her being an Arusah to a man to whom she is prohibited.
(RASHI DH Kach Shamati)
Rashi, though, prefers the second explanation. The Mishnah is referring to a
Bas Yisrael as well, and the Machlokes is whether or not she may *begin*
eating Terumah as a result of her engagement to the Kohen (to whom she -- as
a Gerushah -- is prohibited). (Even though we rule that a Bas Yisrael who is
Arusah to a Kohen may not eat Terumah lest she give it to her other family
members, or lest she end up not marrying the Kohen, the Chachamim once issued
a ruling that after twelve months of Erusin, she may eat Terumah since at
that point she begins to receive financial support from her future husband.
According to this second explanation of Rashi, the Mishnah was written at the
time that this ruling was in effect.)
Rashi adduces support for this second explanation from the wording of the
Beraisa in the Gemara that says "they may *feed* Terumah to their wives (Ein
Ma'achilin)," rather than "they *invalidate* (Poslos) their wives from eating
Terumah." (From the Gemara later, 75a "b'Machlokes Shenuyah," it also seems
that a Bas Yisrael may *start* to eat Terumah based on her marriage to a
Kohen to whom she is prohibited.)
The Gemara presents Rebbi Meir's argument. He asserts that there is a Kal
v'Chomer that teaches that a Gerushah who is Arusah to a Kohen may not eat
Terumah: if doing a Kidushin with a man to whom the woman is permitted does
not allow her to eat Terumah, then certainly doing Kidushin with a man to
whom she is prohibited will not allow her to eat Terumah.
Rashi explains, according to the second approach, that the permitted Kidushin
(which does not allow her to eat Terumah) in Rebbi Meir's Kal v'Chomer refers
to Kidushin with a Ben Yisrael (a non-Kohen). Rebbi Meir is arguing that if
we find that a Bas Yisrael who becomes Arusah to a Ben Yisrael cannot eat
Terumah, then certainly when a Bas Yisrael who is a Gerushah becomes Arusah
to a Kohen to whom she is prohibited, she cannot eat Terumah.
For a number of reasons, Rashi's second explanation of this Gemara is very
difficult to understand.
First, how can Rebbi Meir make a Kal v'Chomer that since a Ben Yisrael does
not feed Terumah to a Bas Yisrael (to whom he is permitted), then certainly a
Kohen cannot feed Terumah to a Gerushah (to whom he is prohibited)? There is
absolutely no reason why a Ben Yisrael *should* be able to feed Terumah to a
Bas Yisrael! A Ben Yisrael can *never* feed Terumah to a Bas Yisrael by
marrying her, because neither he nor she have any rights to eat Terumah,
since they are not Kohanim; Rebbi Meir's logic has no basis! It is because of
this question that all of the Rishonim prefer the first explanation in Rashi,
that the Mishnah is discussing a Bas Kohen who becomes engaged to a Kohen.
According to that explanation, the Kal v'Chomer of Rebbi Meir is being made
from a Bas *Kohen* who becomes engaged to a Yisrael.
Second, REBBI AKIVA EIGER points out that even according to Rashi's second
approach, the Mishnah is not discussing exclusively a Bas Yisrael who becomes
engaged to a Kohen. It is also discussing a Bas Kohen who becomes engaged to
a Kohen. Rebbi Meir is saying two Halachos -- first, that a Bas Yisrael who
is a Gerushah who becomes engaged to a Kohen does not become entitled to eat
Terumah, and second, a Bas Kohen who is a Gerushah who becomes engaged to a
Kohen becomes *invalidated* from eating Terumah (which she was permitted to
eat until the Erusin).
Why, then, does Rebbi Meir make the Kal v'Chomer from a Bas Yisrael who is
engaged to a Ben Yisrael? That only suffices to prove that a Bas Yisrael who
is a Gerushah does not *begin* eating Terumah when she becomes engaged to a
Kohen. But Rebbi Meir also teaches that a Bas Kohen who is a Gerushah *loses*
her right to Terumah! As such, he should have made the Kal v'Chomer from a
Bas *Kohen* who is engaged to a Yisrael, who not only does not start eating
Terumah, but also *loses* the right to eat Terumah! From that, both points
may be proven: 1. That the Bas Kohen *loses* her right to Terumah through her
engagement to a Kohen to whom she is prohibited, and 2. *certainly* a Bas
Yisrael may not *begin* to eat Terumah on the bases of her engagement to a
Kohen to whom she is prohibited!
ANSWER: We may suggest an answer to these very difficult questions as
follows. According to Rashi's second explanation, Rebbi Meir does not feel it
necessary to prove that a Bas Kohen engaged to a Kohen to whom she is
prohibited loses her "rights-of-Kehunah" that allowed her to eat Terumah
until now. Similarly, it is obvious that a Bas Yisrael does not *gain* the
rights-of-Kehunah to eat Terumah by virtue of becoming an Arusah of such a
Kohen. Why, then, does Rebbi Meir have to prove that a Bas Yisrael does not
begin to eat Terumah based on her relationship with a Kohen to whom she is
Rebbi Meir's logic may be understood as follows. A person (man or unmarried
woman) may only eat Terumah if he or she is a Kohen. If the person is not a
Kohen, then he or she is prohibited by the Torah from eating Terumah because
he or she is a Zar.
Once a woman becomes married, though, then she becomes a Kinyan of her
husband. It could be that a Kinyan does not have a status of a Zar, since a
Kinyan is not considered to have its own individual identity. One has the
status of a Zar only when he eats food by virtue of his own independent
power. If so, when a woman is engaged to a Yisrael and she is considered to
be his Kinyan, she might *not* be considered a Zar, since she no longer has
her own independent identity. Thus, we might have thought that she *is*
entitled to eat Terumah since she is not a Zar!
(Obviously, this does not mean that we would have thought that she could eat
Terumah that was not yet given to a Kohen, because such Terumah is still the
collective property of all the Kohanim, and is not hers for the taking.
Rather, we would have thought that if a *Kohen gave her Terumah*, she could
eat it. )
Nevertheless, the Torah does not grant her the right to eat Terumah. Her
husbands "Zarus" affects her as well, (although she is only an Arusah, and
not a Nesu'ah) preventing her from eating Terumah. (His Zarus prevents his
other possessions, too, from eating Terumah, such as his animals -- see
TOSFOS 66b DH Lo Ya'achilenah and TOSFOS YESHANIM.)
The Kal v'Chomer of the Gemara, then, can be read as follows: We see that
when a Bas Yisrael becomes engaged to a Ben Yisrael (to whom she is
permitted), the fact that she is a Kinyan and loses the status of a Zar still
does not allow her to eat Terumah, since she is affected by her husband's
"Zarus," or *lack* of Kehunah. If so, certainly when a Gerushah becomes
engaged to a Kohen and she is "Mishtameres l'Bi'ah Pesulah" (a prohibited
relationship is pending), then certainly she should not be able eat Terumah.
The prohibited relationship makes her a "pending Zonah" (or Chalalah),
providing a reason to *disqualify* her from Kehunah, and *prevent* her from
This answers Rebbi Akiva Eiger's question as well. Rebbi Meir purposely made
a Kal v'Chomer from a Bas Yisrael engaged to a Ben Yisrael and not from a Bas
Kohen engaged to a Ben Yisrael. A Bas Kohen who becomes a Kinyan of another
person certainly loses her own rights-of-Kehunah to eat Terumah. This
requires no proof. One might think, though, that she (or a Bas Yisrael who
becomes an Arusah of a Kohen) does not become a "Zarah" either, since her
husband is not a Zar. Perhaps she may eat Terumah, if a Kohen feeds it to
her, for this reason.
Rebbi Meir proves that this is not true from a Kal v'Chomer. If we see that
an Arusah's relationship with her "Zar" husband is strong enough to make her
a "Zarah," and prohibit her from eating Terumah, then certainly such a
relationship is strong enough to cause her to become a "pending Zonah,"
(which disqualifies her from Terumah because of the *Aveirah*) and to become
disqualified from eating Terumah. (M. Kornfeld)