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



Our Gemara asks whether the daughter of an Israelite who is betrothed (arusa) to a Kohen is permitted to eat teruma. R. Yehuda b. Bathyra answers that we know the Torah allows it from a kal v’chomer of the case of a Kohen who tries to acquire a non-Jewish bondswoman through physical relations: the latter would not be permitted to eat teruma; however, if he acquires her through money, she does eat teruma. Therefore, since the daughter of an Israelite acquired through relations may eat teruma, all the more so may she eat teruma if the Kohen acquires the rights of kiddushin with her through money. The Sages, however, decreed that she may not eat teruma until after the chuppah (marriage).


‘A Wife’s Blessing?’

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


A Challal Who Eats Teruma

Some Acharonim derive proof from a discussion in Tractate Yevamot (34a), where the case of a Kohen who ate teruma and then discovered he was a challal (a Kohen of impure lineage who is forbidden to eat teruma or serve in the Beit HaMikdash) is discussed. Normally, a non-Kohen who eats teruma by accident must reimburse a Kohen for the amount he ate, plus 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 the teruma. This is a quote from the Mishna (Terumos 8:1), which cites similar cases. R. Yehoshua also exempts a woman who ate teruma and discovered afterwards that her husband had died or divorced her before she ate of it, rendering her forbidden to eat teruma. He also exempts a Kohen’s slave who ate teruma and then discovered that, before he ate, his master had sold him to an Israelite, thus rendering him forbidden to eat teruma. In these cases, too, they are exempt from fine or punishment since they thought they were fulfilling a mitzvah. That is how the first Mishna we cited proves that it is a mitzvah for them to eat teruma and they must recite a beracha. Rabbi Chaim Kanievski argues that they have no mitzvah to eat teruma. Rather, they are exempt from the fine since they had no way of knowing that they were forbidden to eat it. (See Derech Emunah: Terumos, 10:12, Tziyyun Halacha s.k. 198.)


Which Beracha?

Which beracha should they recite, according to the first Mishna? The Kohen himself recites, “Blessed are You, Hashem … for having sanctified us with the sanctity of Aharon and commanded us to eat teruma.” His wife and his slave, however, who are not descendants of Aharon, are not endowed with his sanctity. Therefore, perhaps they should just recite “for having commanded us to eat teruma,” omitting any mention of the sanctity of Aharon? On the other hand, they are entitled to eat teruma only in the merit of their husband or owner who is a descendant of Aharon. Thus, perhaps his sanctity extends to them, allowing them to eat teruma, and they should recite the same beracha. Rabbi Moshe Feinstein (Dibbros Moshe, Kiddushin 17:3) suggests that the Kohen’s wife should recite, “Blessed are You, Hashem… for having sanctified my husband with the sanctity of Aharon, and commanded us to eat teruma,” and the slave should recite, “… for having sanctified my master…”


Wife, Daughter And Slave

Some commentaries maintain that a Kohen’s wife and a Kohen’s slave have no mitzvah to eat teruma (Derech Emunah, ibid.). Others hold that his slave has no mitzvah to eat teruma, but his wife does. The wife’s entitlement to eat teruma 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 teruma. And all opinions agree that it is a mitzvah for the Kohen’s daughter to eat teruma since she is also a descendant of Aharon. Therefore, she may recite the same beracha as her father “for having sanctified us with the sanctity of Aharon” (Zichron Chai 2:10; Derech Emunah).

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Rabbi Yaakov Klass is Rav of K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush; Torah Editor of The Jewish Press; and Presidium Chairman, Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud HaRabbonim.