Are we all Mamzerim?

    This has been a question which has interested for some time.  We know that a halachically kosher Jew can not marry a mamzer. However the interesting thing is that all of the mamzer’s descendants for all time are mamzerim. Therefore one undetected mamzer could wreak havoc on an entire family tree and possibly on all of Judaism.

According to the Rambam a woman who is raped by some Jew she could not marry and has a child, the child is a mamzer. Now even if we take a conservative estimate and say that such a thing only was kept secret once every 100 years (surely on the low side and no I won’t buy the “The Jewish People were exceptionally holy they would never do such a thing argument”) Then you come to the inescapable conclusion that the only people who are still pure are people who just converted to Judaism.

So remember if somebody brags a bit too much about their yichus you can just say, “Well I know you’re a mamzer”.

2 Responses to Are we all Mamzerim?

  1. Tobie says:

    I’m not so sure- halacha seems to be pretty silly on the subject of mamzerim, such that an undeclared mamzer really doesn’t count, which is why batei din shouldn’t keep gittim on file ad infinitum so that nobody will come along and start pointing out flaws and so forth. It’s almost like a tree falling in the forest- I’m fairly sure that halachicly, if a mamzer is born in a forest and nobody’s around to label him, he’s not a mamzer.

  2. Rachel says:

    Normally there’s a halachic presumption that a woman’s husband is the father of any baby born. However, that may exist only to prevent declared mamzers. Is it possible that halacha could escape the whole predicament by saying:
    Yes this woman is apparently married to this man, and she seems faithful, and if he’s a mamzer his kids are a mamzer – yet the mariage was invalid (because a mamzer can’t marry), so we can pretend the baby was actually fathered by somebody kosher.

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