Volume 43 Number 75
                    Produced: Fri Jul 30  5:41:37 EDT 2004

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Eli HaKohen
         [Nathan Lamm]
The Kohen Sign (4)
         [Gershon Dubin, Fred Dweck, Ira L. Jacobson, Stan Tenen]
         [Art Werschulz]
Proportion of Kohanim; Forbidden Marriages Before and After the Fact
         [Jay F Shachter]
Rappaport (was Kohanim)
         [Eitan Fiorino]
Who's an authentic Kohain
         [Carl Singer]


From: Nathan Lamm <nelamm18@...>
Date: Thu, 29 Jul 2004 06:28:53 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Eli HaKohen

There are a few issues involved with Eli:

Eli's family was said to be cursed from the time of the actions of Eli's
sons. However, they continued to be important for a while: I think
David's kohen gadol Evyatar (the son of the one at Nov that Shaul
killed?)  was from that family. The last straw, though, was when he
supported Adoniya. Then the kehuna switched to Tzadok, and Eli's
descendants, while still kohanim and entitled to trumah, no longer
served in the Mikdash.  In fact, I believe this became a matter of
Elazar's descendants (like Tzadok) versus Itamar's (like Eli).

This later seems to come up in a few varied contexts: Yirmayahu, it
seems, was a kohen from Anatot who wasn't allowed into the Mikdash
because he was from the Itamar branch. Yechezkel, on the other hand,
speaks only of "Bnei Tzadok" as kohanim in the time of the rebuilt
Bayit. It's also been suggested that the Tzedukim (who were powerful
among the kohanim in the Mikdash) took their name, or inspiration, from
Tzadok and/or Yechezkel (whether Tzadok and Yechezkel would have
approved is another story). The Dead Sea Scrolls also make a big deal
about "Bnei Tzadok," I think. On the other hand, there were many kohanim
who were not Tzedukim and were more powerful in the Sanhedrin than in
the Mikdash- Yochanan ben Zakai, for example.

This ties in to what the destruction of the Mikdash did to the Tzedukim
and other sects. In any event, any traces of these divisions have
disappeared- or so I thought, until seeing these last few posts about
the Syrian kohanim. If anyone can elaborate or correct, please do so.

Nachum Lamm


From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@...>
Date: Thu, 29 Jul 2004 14:18:25 GMT
Subject: The Kohen Sign

From: Chana Luntz <Chana@...>

<<Actually, according to one of my relatives who is very into genealogy,
there were Sephardim all over Lithuania at the time of the Gra.  He
traces his [Elias] family back to a family from Rhodes, and he seems to
suggest there were quite a few families who seem to have made the

The author of the Torah Temima, whose Lithuanian credentials are
impeccable, writes in his autobiography Mekor Baruch that his family
name was originally Benveniste and they were Sefaradim.

<<Anyhow, my husband was supposed to ask the Rabbi when they all came
back for mincha how a connection to Eli HaCohen fitted with the evidence
that such families are not dying young, but I don't think he ever did
(he never reported it back to me) - so maybe somebody with Tawil/Dwek
family connections can answer the question.>>

Perhaps their esek with Torah and Gemilus Chasadim mitigated the decree,
as described in the Gemara WRT Abaye and Rava.


From: Fred Dweck <fredd@...>
Date: Thu, 29 Jul 2004 12:27:57 -0700
Subject: The Kohen Sign

To all who understood my posting as denigrating, either to the GR"A or
to the Ashkenazic community, you misunderstood me.

If you read my submissions carefully, you will see that the entire
intent of them is to decry the division which exists between the
Sephardic and Ashkenazic Jews, and not to foster it.

Fred E. Dweck 

From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Thu, 29 Jul 2004 17:51:46 +0300
Subject: Re: The Kohen Sign

Fred Dweck <fredd@...> wrote on Mon, 26 Jul 2004 14:01:54 -0700

      And therein lies the main problem. What observant Ashkenazic Jew
      would dream of questioning the great and holy GR"A? Therefore to
      the average Ashkenazi, the ONLY authentic Kohanim are the
      Rappoport family! With all due respect to the GR"A a"h, It is the
      fault of all of the Ashkenazic rabbis who never encountered a
      Sephardic community

To the best of my knowledge, Rappoport is a name that originated with
Sefardi kohanim.

IRA L. JACOBSON         
Fax: ++1-443-646-2420

From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Thu, 29 Jul 2004 08:33:07 -0400
Subject: The Kohen Sign

This anecdote may or may not be related.

I once asked my uncle about his being a Levite, because his name was
Levy.  He told me he wasn't a Levite.  The name Levy was given to the
family by the immigration people, because they couldn't make out the
real family name.  Apparently, that day was "Levy Day" for all Jews with
long and difficult-to-spell names.



From: Art Werschulz <agw@...>
Date: Thu, 29 Jul 2004 09:37:22 -0400
Subject: Porto


Nathan Lamm <nelamm18@...> asks

> Is there also a Porto in Portugal?  That would make them Sephardim.

Yes.  It's also known as "Oporto".  It's where Port Wine gets its name. 

Art Werschulz
GCS/M (GAT): d? -p+ c++ l u+(-) e--- m* s n+ h f g+ w+ t++ r- y? 
Internet: <agw@...><a href="http://www.cs.columbia.edu/~agw/">WWW</a>
ATTnet:   Columbia U. (212) 939-7060, Fordham U. (212) 636-6325


From: Jay F Shachter <jay@...>
Date: Thu, 29 Jul 2004 12:46:29 -0600 (CDT)
Subject: Proportion of Kohanim; Forbidden Marriages Before and After the Fact

In v43n71, Nathan Lamm pointed out:

> Then again, the numbers never seem right among Ashkenazim
> either. Kohanim account for higher than expected percentages all over,
> and there seem to be an equal or lesser number of Leviim than kohanim,
> which seems wrong on the face of it.

It does not escape the attention of any thoughtful person that there is
a larger proportion of kohanim among our people today than there was in
the time of Aharon.  There are three obvious explanation, and another
one which is less obvious.

1. Men have claimed to be kohanim who were not.
2. Non-kohanim have assimilated in larger numbers than kohanim.
3. Non-kohanim have died in larger numbers than kohanim.

All these explanations are plausible.  Kohanim may have been wealthier
than non-kohanim, because other people gave them food, and wool, and
money, and on top of that they were free to earn a living as artisans or
professionals.  And if kohanim were wealthier than non-kohanim, it would
account for all three of the phenomena enumerated above.

Here is another possible explanation.  It is entirely speculative, but
then, so are the three explanations proposed above.

Assume for simplicity a sexually-reproducing population with replacement
fertility, such that every individual produces an average of two
offspring (this means that every fertile adult produces an average of
slightly more than two offspring).  Now suppose that the tendency to
produce heterozygotic (i.e., male) offspring is genetic, and suppose
further that it is carried by the heterozygotic (i.e., the Y)

Now suppose that Aharan had a genetically-carried tendency to produce
more fertile male than fertile female offspring.  Even a very slight
tendency -- e.g., 50.1% boys, 49.9% girls, too slight to be measured or
noticed -- would produce, over time, a steadily rising proportion of
kohanim in the population, as the priesthood is inherited from one's
father, not from one's mother.  In fact, because we are dealing with
discrete and not continuous phenomena, it would be expected that, within
a finite amount of time, the population would become 100% kohanim.  And
all without invoking any of the first three explanations.

Mr. Lamm further wrote:

> Perhaps- just perhaps- if some [kohanim] had already married women
> who would otherwise be forbidden to them, there might be some
> wriggle room.

This is more than a "just perhaps".  It is the black-letter law.  For
example, whereas a kohen who marries a convert must divorce her, a kohen
who marries the daughter of two converts is permitted to stay married to
her, even though the marriage was a forbidden one before the fact.

Jay F. ("Yaakov") Shachter
6424 N Whipple St, Chicago IL  60645-4111
<jay@...>, 	http://m5.chi.il.us:8080


From: Eitan Fiorino <Fiorino@...>
Date: Thu, 29 Jul 2004 19:01:52 -0400
Subject: RE: Rappaport (was Kohanim)

> From: Nathan Lamm <nelamm18@...>
> Re: Fred Dweck's post (and Janice Gelb's, below), a few points:
> -The Rapaports, I believe, were not Ashkenazim (nor 
> Sephardim), but originally Italian, the name being explained 
> as "Doctors (Rofim) from (the city of) Porto." (Is there also 
> a Porto in Portugal? That would make them Sephardim.) 

There is not, to my knowledge, a city just Porto (meaning Port) in
Italy.  There are many cities that begin with Porto (Porto Azzurro,
Porto Ceresio, etc.), including Porto Mantovano outside of Mantova, from
which the Encyclopedia Judaica article on the Rappaport family claims R.
Isaac Porto haKohen derived his name
Importantly, this name is known to us because he received permission
from the Duke of Mantova to build an Ashkenazic synagogue.

According to this article, the Rappaport name originated in an alliance
between this Porto family and the Rapa family.  The Rapa family name is
derived from Rappe, meaning raven in Middle High German, and the coat of
arms of the family has two ravens.  The earliest known members of the
Rapa family were from Germany, from where the name disappeared after the
expulsion of Jews from Mayence in 1462.  The Rapa's were also kohanim.
The Rappa name and its derivatives are seen in the Middle Ages in
Northern Italy, which is where many Jews from France and Germany settled
after various expulsions.

In addition, the Encyclopedia Judaica describes a R. Menachem Rapoport
hakohen of Cremona, Italy, a member of the Rapa family, who changed his
name to Rapoport
(http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=112&letter=R) to
reflect his city of origin (presumably also Porto Mantovano, though this
is not specified).

The article goes on to state: "in the middle of the seventeenth century
authors belonging to the Rapa-Port family were living in Poland and
Lithuania . . . . the family spread principally from Cracow and Lemberg;
in the latter place, in 1584, was born the famous Talmudist Abraham Rapa
von Port (called also Schrenzel). In 1650 Rapoports lived in Dubno and
Krzemeniec; in the eighteenth century descendants of R. Judah Rapoport
are found in Smyrna and Jerusalem. About 1750 there were two Rapoports
in Dyhernfurth (Silesia) . . ."

It would appear to me based on this information (which is pretty
sketchy) one would view the Rappaport family as being of Ashkenazic
ancestry, despite their sojourn in Italy.  It is likely that any
Rappaports that the Gra encountered were from Ashkenazic communities in
Europe, not from Italy.  Interestingly, the names Porto, Di Porto, and
Rapa/Rappa are still found in Italy, although Rappaport is not.  What is
this worth?  Not much, really - the whole question as to the national
origin of this family only has meaning if one assumes that the Gra's
conviction of the status of the Rappaport family as kohanim had
something to do with the family being Ashkenazim.  Far more likely, the
Gra was simply convinced that of the kohanim he encountered, this family
possessed an accurate accounting of its genealogy.  The more interesting
question is, what did he know that we don't?  Today, there does not
appear to be a trace of the family from before the 15th century, so from
where did the Gra's conviction stem?



From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Thu, 29 Jul 2004 08:04:40 -0400
Subject: Who's an authentic Kohain

> And therein lies the main problem. What observant Ashkenazic Jew would
> dream of questioning the great and holy GR"A? Therefore to the average
> Ashkenazi, the ONLY authentic Kohanim are the Rappoport family! With all
> due respect to the GR"A a"h, It is the fault of all of the Ashkenazic
> rabbis who never encountered a Sephardic community, and therefore wrote
> only about their local communities. There began, and perpetuated, the
> concept that one doesn't have to take Sephardic communities, rabbis,
> customs and halacha into account.
> ...
> Fred E. Dweck

Its interesting how debate heats up with misunderstanding.  According to
another posting, The Gr"A's statement does not contain "ONLY" -- to the
Gr"A, Rappoport was an authentic Kohain -- hence the Gr"A needn't look
any more vis a vis pidyan ha'ben.  To springboard from this to a polemic
is problematic.

Carl A. Singer


End of Volume 43 Issue 75