Towards the end of the ninth perek, we learn about how a woman’s ability to eat trumah can change. The first case (9:5) deals with a bat yisrael who marries a kohen. By virtue of that marriage she is allowed to eat trumah. Even if her husband dies, provided she has a child from that marriage, she can continue to eat trumah. If she subsequently marries a levi she can no longer eat trumah but can eat maaser; this is even after her husband passes away provided she has had a child from him. The Mishnah continues that if she then marries and yisrael she is treated as she was originally – a bat yisrael. The Mishnah continues that after her third husband passes away, she is still treated like a bat yisrael if she had a son from that marriage. If the sons then progressively pass away in reverse order, then after each one she returns to the status of the most recent son that is alive, until finally she returns to being a bat yisrael.
The second Mishnah (9:6) follows a similar pattern however involves a bat kohen that married a yisrael, then levi and then finally a kohen bearing a child from each marriage. Once again, her status with respect to whether she can eat trumah appear to follow the pattern that it is equivalent to either her husband or the most recent child that is still alive. If all husbands and children pass away then she returns to being a bat kohen and can eat trumah.
The Aruch La’Ner poses the following questions. In both cases at one point she is left widowed from a kohen, levi and yisrael with sons from each marriage. Why is it that in the first case she is not allowed to have trumah while in the second case she can?
The Aruch La’Ner initially answers that in the first case she was a bat yisrael. Once widowed, her capacity to eat trumah rested with her sons. However why should one son take preference over another? Consequently she returns to her original status. In the second case, she was a bat kohen and could originally eat trumah. The only thing that prevents here from doing so would be her son from the yisrael; yet why should one son take priority over the other?
The second answer that the Aruch LaNersuggests is as follows. In the first cases, since the final husband caused her to cease from eating trumah, the son from that marriage maintains that status. In the second case, since the final husband enabled her to eat trumah, the son from that marriage enables her to continue doing so. In other words, according to this understanding, her final status is important as opposed to her original status.
The Aruch La’Ner provides two practical differences between these two understandings. The first is if in the second case she was originally a bat kohen. According to the first understand she would be able to eat trumah as she returns to original status. According to the second, since the youngest of her three (live) children was from an yisrael she may not. The second example would be if in the first case involved a bat yisrael. According to the first understand she would not be able to eat trumah as she returns to original status. According to the second, since the youngest of her three (live) children was from a kohen she would.
The Aruch La’Ner understands that the Rambam (Trumot 6:19) maintains the second understanding. The case brought is of a bat yisrael that marries a yisrael, has a son, is widowed, then marries a kohen, has a son and is widowed once again. The Rambam rules that she is allowed to eat trumah since the last son enables her to eat just like his father did.1
The Aruch La’Ner is unsure of where the Rambam learns with certainty that the second understanding is correct. He suggests that perhaps it is because the pasuk teaches that “if she has no [offspring] she may return to her father’s house.” According to the first explanation, even if a bat kohen has a child from an yisrael as long as she also has a child from a kohen she may return to her father’s house.
1 It is noted in the Yalkut Bi’urim (Metivta) that Radvaz understands the Rambam differently than the Aruch La’Ner. We had explained that in presence of the three sons, her final status was important. If her last son was a kohen she can continue eating trumah while if it was a yisrael she cannot start. The Radvaz however understand the last son is important as the son takes the place of his father and it is as if the father is still alive. Just as the later marriage overrides those previous, so too does that later son.
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