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Son of Levi and non-Jewish woman converts

Rabbi David SperlingElul 27, 5778
57
Question
Hypothetical questions that might become reality: A son is born to the union of a non-observant Levi and a non-Jewish woman. Al pi halachah the son is not Jewish. (This part has actually happened to a family I know.) Some years down the road, he decides to convert to Judaism, and does so al pi halacha. (This is the hypothetical part.) 1) Is his father his father, such that he would be chayav to say kaddish for him? What about any other usual obligations? If he was the firstborn child, is he zocheh to a double portion in any inheritance? 2) If so, is he himself a Levi, since his father is? 3) Would the same answers apply if the father were a Kohen? 4) If his father were a Yisrael, would he be chayav to say kaddish for him? What about the other obligations/rights mentioned in question #1 above? Thank you. I may need an answer fairly quickly.
Answer
Shalom, Thank you for your question. The son of a Jewish man and a non Jewish woman is (as you wrote) a non Jew – as Judaism follows the mother. If such a non Jew converts, they are considered as a “new born” person. That means that they no longer have any relationship to their biologic parents. Based on this it is very clear that such a converted child does not inherit the Levi (or Cohen) status of their biological father. Nor do they get any of the other statuses from their father. As to the obligation of mourning or saying kaddish for the Jewish biological father, from a strictly halachic point of view the convert is exempt from such mourning, because they are technically not halachically related to deceased father. However, they are certainly allowed to say kaddish for them (and if there is no one else to say the kaddish, it would be advisable and a very good act). They may also mourn the father – but the exceptions a true mourner has (such as not putting on tefillin on the first day of shiva etc) do not apply. Blessings.
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