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Establishing Status as Kohen

Question:

Hi, I have student who is a recent baal teshuva, who has uncertainty with regards to his status as a kohen. There is an indication on his grandfather’s tombstone that he is in fact a kohen. Is that sufficient to establish his status as a kohen?

Answer:

While a tombstone is certainly somewhat of an indication that he is a kohen, by no means is that itself enough to establish his status. See Igros Moshe [Even Haezer 4:41] where he rules one is not a kohen even with the evidence of a tombstone. In general in order to arrive at a proper conclusion in these matters, each case must be thoroughly and professionally investigated by a competent bais din. It is unfortunate that there are those who feel these questions can be answered in an off the cuff manner, causing untold harm to families and individuals. Status of being a kohen must not be hastily given or negated. Please feel free to contact our Beis Din [tvuna1@gmail.com], which conducts such investigations regularly, with Maran Harav Weiss overseeing and ultimately issuing the final psak. Rav Weiss wrote extensively on this topic in Tshuvos Minchas Asher [volume 1 siman 80].

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