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She Ate Unwittingly
‘If She Married A Kohen She Eats Terumah’
(Kiddushin 10b)



Our Gemara asks whether the daughter of an Israelite betrothed to a kohen may eat terumah. R. Yehuda b. Bathyra answers that we know that the answer is yes based on a kal vachomer from the case of a kohen who tries to acquire a non-Jewish bondswoman. If he does so through physical relations, she may not eat terumah; however, if he acquires her through money, she may. Now, the daughter of an Israelite acquired through relations may eat terumah; therefore, it stands to reason that if she is acquired through money she certainly may eat terumah. The Sages, however, decreed that she may not eat terumah until after the chuppah.

A Wife’s Blessing

The Gemara (Yevamoth 34a) discusses the privilege of kohanim, their family members, and their slaves to eat terumah. Although a kohen is not obligated to eat terumah, he fulfills a biblical mitzvah by doing so (see Sefer HaMitzvoth 89; Derech Emuna: Terumos 11:1, Be’ur Halacha). That is why he recites the following blessing before eating terumah: “Blessed are You, Hashem…for having sanctified us with the sanctity of Aharon and commanded us to eat terumah” (Rambam, Hilchos Terumos 15:22). Do his wife and his slave also fulfill a mitzvah by eating terumah? Need they also recite a berachah?


A Challal Who Eats Terumah

Some Acharonim derive the answer to this question from a discussion in Tractate Yevamoth (34a) concerning a kohen who ate terumah and then discovered he was a challal (a kohen of impure lineage who is forbidden to eat terumah). Normally, a non-kohen who eats terumah by accident must reimburse a kohen for the amount he ate, plus an additional one-fifth as a fine. According to R. Yehoshua, the challal is exempt from the fine in this case since he thought he was fulfilling a mitzvah by eating terumah.

(Other cases people exempt from the fine according to R. Yehoshua are a woman who ate terumah and discovered afterwards that her husband had died or divorced her before she ate it and a kohen‘s slave who ate terumah and then discovered that his master had sold him before he ate it.)

We thus see that eating terumah is a mitzvah and reciting a berachah is therefore necessary. Rabbi Chaim Kanievski, however, argues that there is no mitzvah to eat terumah. Rather, these individuals are exempt from the fine since they had no way of knowing they were forbidden to eat it. (See Derech Emuna: Terumos, 10:12, Tziyyun Halacha s.k. 198.)


Which Beracha?

Before eating terumah the kohen says, “Blessed are You, Hashem…for having sanctified us with the sanctity of Aharon and commanded us to eat terumah.” What berachah, though, do his wife and slaves make before eating terumah (assuming that it is a mitzvah)? Can they say the same berachah even though they aren’t descendants of Aharon and presumably therefore not endowed with his sanctity? Rabbi Moshe Feinstein (Dibbros Moshe, Kiddushin 17:3) suggests that the kohen‘s wife should say, “Blessed are You, Hashem… for having sanctified my husband with the sanctity of Aharon, and commanded us to eat terumah.” A slave should say the same blessing, substituting “master” for “husband.”

Wife, Daughter, And Slave

Some commentaries maintain that a kohen‘s wife and a kohen’s slave have no mitzvah to eat terumah (Derech Emuna, ibid.). Others argue that his slave has no mitzvah to eat terumah, but his wife does. The wife’s entitlement to eat terumah is derived from the verse (Bamidbar 18:13), “All who are pure in your home shall eat it,” implying that it is a mitzvah for her to eat terumah. All opinions agree, however, that it is a mitzvah for the kohen‘s daughter to eat terumah since she is a descendant of Aharon. She recites the same berachah as her father: “for having sanctified us with the sanctity of Aharon” (Zichron Chai 2:10; Derech Emuna).