My friend is a Cohen who is considering marrying a woman that is divorced. However, at the woman’s prior marriage ceremony, which was conducted by a reform female Rabbi, there were no Shomer Shabbos witnesses. Nevertheless, the woman does have children from that marriage. Is it permissible for my friend to marry this woman.

Answer:

This is a difficult question.

If it is certain that there were no shomer shabbos people present who saw the chuppah, there will be no problem in the Cohen marrying the lady, even though she has children from her first “marriage.”

However, if the lady in question received a proper get (bill of divorce), and there were Shomer Shabbos people present at her wedding, then some have written — including Rav Moshe Feinstein (Even Ha-Ezer 76-77, based on the stringency of the Chasam Sofer 100) — that the case might involve the need for a full get, in which case there will be a “re’ach ha-get” (a “trace” of a get), and this is sufficient to prohibit a Cohen from marrying her.

If there is a further issue, please submit again with more details; the halachah will depend on the precise circumstances.

Best wishes, and apologies for delay in reply.

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3 Responses to “Kohen Marrying Divorcee”

  1. I am 48 years old, divorced from a not Jewish man (so there was no ketubah and there was no get, there were definitely no shomer shabbos people there as the ceremony was performed by a reformed rabbi so it is as if I were not married as far as Judaism goes so I have been told) and a I am an orthodox baal teshuva.

    Although everyone knows me in many communities due to my affiliation with Ohr Naava Women’s Torah Center very rarely am I set up on shidduchim. The last one was around 4 years ago. This may be my fault partially as I am alweays busy with work, Ohr Naava, my kallah gown gemach that is in my house and the fact that I never really thought I would be a good wife and did not feel good about myself as well.

    Anyway, I met someone recently who wants to marry me. He is a 60 year old man, a widow having lost his wife seven years ago and extremely kind. He has been with woman before his marriage not sure about after he lost his wife. We like, appreciate and respect each other greatly. He has recently become shomer Shabbat etc….. The glitch is he is a kohen.

    I have been told numerous times that my past before becoming baal teshuva has been whited out and I am like a new person free of my past transgressions. My marriage of course was before I came back to Hashem and the beauty of yiddishkite. I also told Hashem numerous years ago that I would not let a man touch me at all let alone sexually in any way possible until the day Hashem allowed me to stand under the chuppah and become a wife for the first time the right way, Hashem’s way…..ketubah, kiddusha and all. True to my word I have not touched a man in years (that is also teshuvah considering my past and was very hard at first but became much easier with Hashem’s help).

    This being said is there any way possible that we are allowed to get married. I do not want to trangress a torah law and do not want to be the cause of him doing the same. I cannot stop thinking of him. I daven over my shabbos candles for clarity and then during shabbos when I cannot write all these thoughts I am writing to you come to my mind. It leaves me to wonder if it is Hashem or my yetzer hara filling me with all this hope.

    Thank you for your time

    • I am sorry to hear about the situation.
      Having been married to a non-Jew, it won’t be permitted for you to marry a Kohen.
      The only hope is to find that his family history is dubious, and that he isn’t in fact a Kohen (this has happened before; he can be in touch if this might be an issue).
      Other than that, I am sorry that I cannot offer you any help.
      Best wishes and good luck for the future.

    • If you were married to a non-Jew, you won’t be able to marry a Cohen. The only question that can arise is whether the man in question is a bona-fide Cohen or not. This should be investigated (his lineage and other questions concerning his status).
      I wish you only the best, with this matter and with all others.

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