כ״ו בניסן ה׳תשע״ו (May 4, 2016)

Kiddushin 54a-b: Betrothal by Priestly Garments

When kohanim perform the avoda in the Temple, they are required to wear bigdei kehuna. In the context of the discussion in the Mishna (52b) about a person who attempts to marry a woman by giving her something that belonged to the Temple, our Gemara inquires as to the status of these bigdei kehuna. Are they considered holy or not? According to our Gemara, a person is allowed to derive personal benefit from kutnot kehuna – the uniform worn by a priest – since,  “Lo nitna Torah le-malakhei ha-sharet – the Torah was not given to angels, but to human beings.” This expression is understood to mean that since a kohen cannot possibly refrain from deriving personal benefit from clothing that he wears, such benefit must be permitted. The Me’iri explains that even though the benefit was permitted only to kohanim, nevertheless it is difficult to say that something is not considered holy for just one group of people. Thus, there is no me’ila (deriving forbidden benefit from the Temple treasury) in making use of such clothing.

The Me’iri notes that the discussion of whether or not there is a prohibition involved with making use of bigdei kehuna would not apply to the avnet – the belt worn by kohanim, since it is made out of kilayim – a forbidden mixture of fabrics – and could only be worn during the Temple service itself. Some point out that our Gemara seems to support this position, since it does not use the term bigdei kehuna, rather kutnot kehuna which does not refer to all of the priestly garments, but only to the kutonet, the outer garment.

Based on this understanding, the Me’iri asks why a person could not use kutnot kehuna to marry a woman – after all, we have established that they are not intrinsically holy!? He answers that there is no blanket permission to use these kutnot kehuna for any purpose; they can be used only for normal purposes, which would not include marriage.

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