As we learned on yesterday’s daf, the Torah limits a kohen in who he can marry. Specifically, a kohen cannot marry:
- a gerusha (a divorced woman)
- a halala (the child of a relationship forbidden to a kohen, e.g. the child of a kohen and a divorced woman)
- a zona (usually translated as a harlot, in this context it means someone who has had sexual relations with a man who is forbidden to her, e.g. an incestuous relationship)
In addition, the kohen gadol cannot marry an almana (a widow).
In chapter 44 of Sefer Yehezkel, the prophet teaches that there are unique rules and regulations that a kohen must follow regarding their general comportment – the clothing they wear, the food that they eat and who they marry.
Our Gemara quotes a pasuk in Yehezkel (44:22) that appears to offer a different set of rules than those offered by the Torah. Specifically, the navi teaches that “Neither shall they take for their wives a widow, nor a divorced woman; but they shall take virgins of the seed of the house of Israel, or a widow that is the widow of a priest.” From here it appears that a regular kohen cannot marry a widow – a prohibition that appears to be limited to the kohen gadol according to the Torah – unless her first husband was also a kohen, a distinction never made by the Torah.
The Gemara suggests reinterpreting the end of the pasuk, so that rather than permitting a kohen to marry the widow of another kohen, it should be understood as permitting a regular kohen to marry a widow – something that is forbidden to the kohen gadol. Thus, the first half of the pasuk is understood to be teaching the rules of a kohen gadol, while the end of the pasuk is teaching the rules of a regular kohen.
In response to the Gemara’s objection that biblical passages should not be divided up and be understood to be talking about two different circumstances, the Gemara points out that this is not uncommon in interpreting pesukim. Thus, we find the passage in I Shmu’el 3:3, “And the lamp of God was not yet gone out, and the prophet Samuel lay down to sleep in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was,” cannot have Shmu’el lying down to sleep in the Temple, since no one is permitted to even sit down there (with the exception of a Jewish king from the Davidic dynasty). Rather the pasuk must be understood to mean that, “The lamp of God was not yet gone out in the temple of the LORD,” and that Shmu’el lay down to sleep in his place.