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Wednesday, 10 January 2018

The Single Lineage Theory

As previously discussed, the mainstream Rabbinic concept of Matrilineal descent is a single lineage theory. That means the woman can conceive by any man, or anonymous donor, and the child will still be considered Jewish.  In fact even in the case of adultery, if the male cohabiter is not Jewish, the child will (according to Rabbinic halacha) be both Jewish and kasher, ie  without the taint of mamzerut. (Mamzerut is a complex matter and is not supported by the textual reading of the Torah).

There is evidence that refutes the matrilineal theory.  Today’s evidence is from the Mitzvah of Levirate marriage or Yibum.

Deut 25:

ה  כִּי-יֵשְׁבוּ אַחִים יַחְדָּו, וּמֵת אַחַד מֵהֶם וּבֵן אֵין-לוֹ--לֹא-תִהְיֶה אֵשֶׁת-הַמֵּת הַחוּצָה, לְאִישׁ זָר:  יְבָמָהּ יָבֹא עָלֶיהָ, וּלְקָחָהּ לוֹ לְאִשָּׁה וְיִבְּמָהּ.
5 If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not be married abroad unto one not of his kin; her husband's brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him to wife, and perform the duty of a husband's brother unto her.
ו  וְהָיָה, הַבְּכוֹר אֲשֶׁר תֵּלֵד--יָקוּם, עַל-שֵׁם אָחִיו הַמֵּת; וְלֹא-יִמָּחֶה שְׁמוֹ, מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל.
6 And it shall be, that the first-born that she beareth shall succeed in the name of his brother that is dead, that his name be not blotted out of Israel.
ז  וְאִם-לֹא יַחְפֹּץ הָאִישׁ, לָקַחַת אֶת-יְבִמְתּוֹ; וְעָלְתָה יְבִמְתּוֹ הַשַּׁעְרָה אֶל-הַזְּקֵנִים, וְאָמְרָה מֵאֵן יְבָמִי לְהָקִים לְאָחִיו שֵׁם בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל--לֹא אָבָה, יַבְּמִי.
7 And if the man like not to take his brother's wife, then his brother's wife shall go up to the gate unto the elders, and say: 'My husband's brother refuseth to raise up unto his brother a name in Israel; he will not perform the duty of a husband's brother unto me.'
ח  וְקָרְאוּ-לוֹ זִקְנֵי-עִירוֹ, וְדִבְּרוּ אֵלָיו; וְעָמַד וְאָמַר, לֹא חָפַצְתִּי לְקַחְתָּהּ.
8 Then the elders of his city shall call him, and speak unto him; and if he stand, and say: 'I like not to take her';
ט  וְנִגְּשָׁה יְבִמְתּוֹ אֵלָיו, לְעֵינֵי הַזְּקֵנִים, וְחָלְצָה נַעֲלוֹ מֵעַל רַגְלוֹ, וְיָרְקָה בְּפָנָיו; וְעָנְתָה, וְאָמְרָה, כָּכָה יֵעָשֶׂה לָאִישׁ, אֲשֶׁר לֹא-יִבְנֶה אֶת-בֵּית אָחִיו.
9 then shall his brother's wife draw nigh unto him in the presence of the elders, and loose his shoe from off his foot, and spit in his face; and she shall answer and say: 'So shall it be done unto the man that doth not build up his brother's house.'
י  וְנִקְרָא שְׁמוֹ, בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל:  בֵּית, חֲלוּץ הַנָּעַל.  {ס}
10 And his name shall be called in Israel the house of him that had his shoe loosed. {S}

According to rabbinic thought, the father of a child has no bearing whatsoever of the identity of the child, i.e. being part of Israel or being a “Jew”.  This is entirely from
the mother. Thus the father could be a Chinese Buddhist,  an African tribesman, or a native American, and the child would still be Jewish.  However, the Torah refutes this claim.  

In the case given in the Torah above, the problem with the husband dying childless is that his name is blotted from Israel:  6 And it shall be, that the first-born that she beareth shall succeed in the name of his brother that is dead, that his name be not blotted out of Israel.”

From here, we can deduce that for a person born to be considered an Israelite, he must have his father’s name, i.e. identity.  This sounds like the mirror image of the rabbinic claim.  It doesn’t tell us whether both parents need to be Israelites. However, the  Yibum does not apply to a wife who dies childless, i.e.  her sister is not obligated to marry the husband  whose wife dies (assuming the sister is not already married). This means that the name of the mother is not passed on to the child, and hence the Israelite identity is passed on from the father.

The Yibum procedure has a single function, which is to perpetuate the name of a deceased man, should he be childless.  One might ask, what would be the purpose of this mitzvah if the Israelite identity were passed on from the mother?

1 comment:

  1. According to the rabbinical view, a man is nothing more than a stud, like a horse, but has no intrinsic Jewishness that is passed on to his children. Paradoxically, in regards to Levi and Kohen, they still hold on to the Biblical concept that it is passed on from the father.