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    In one possuk
    at the end of parshas Va’eschanan
    (7:3) the Torah
    prohibits both
    forms of intermarriage: a Jewish man may not
    take a non-Jewish
    woman, nor may a Jewish woman marry
    a non-Jewish man. In Shulchan Aruch
    (Yoreh Deah 157:61) the opinion of the
    Ramban (Milchamos, Sanhedrin 74) has
    been adopted, that there is a big difference
    between the two aforementioned cases. Because in the case of a Jewish man taking
    a non-Jewish wife the children will not be
    Jewish, this prohibition is considered more
    serious; it is considered as if the man had
    become a “mechuttan” with the avodah
    zarah. This is the end of the line! The tradition of Jewishness transmitted from Mt.
    Sinai from generation to generation will
    not be able to continue. But when a Jewish woman marries a non-Jewish man, the
    children will be Jewish; the transmission of
    Jewishness will continue. The woman has
    violated a serious aveira, but this is not a
    case of yehoreig ve’al ya’avor.
    In Europe the common practice was that
    when a Jewish man would marry a nonJewish woman, this was considered equivalent to his converting to another religion
    (shmad). However when a Jewish woman
    married a non-Jewish man, the custom was
    not necessarily so. This aveira was not considered the equivalent of shmad.
    Whenever there is a “mixed” marriage
    between two Jews, for example when a
    Kohein or a Levi marries a girl who is not a
    Kohenes or a Leviah, the status of the children is determined by the father. The same
    is true when there is a “mixed” marriage
    between two non-Jews. Amaleki, Edomi,
    Mitzri, and Canaani each have a special
    status according to the halacha. When there
    is a mingling between two nationalities, the
    halacha declares that all the children follow
    the nationality of the father. This halacha is
    based on the possuk in Parshas Bamidbar
    (1:2) “l’mishpechosom l’beis avosom”,
    which implies that in cases of a conflict, the
    mishpacha of the father is to be followed.
    The only exception is where there is a
    mixed marriage between Jew and non-Jew.
    In Talmudic times none of the rabbis felt
    that in these cases the status of the children
    should be determined solely by the father.
    One opinion felt that in order to be Jewish
    one must have both a father and a mother
    who are Jewish. A second opinion held
    that with either parent being Jewish, all the
    children would be considered Jewish. And
    the accepted opinion is that the issue is determined solely by the mother[1]. This position was arrived at based on the Rabbi’s
    careful reading of the pesukim (7:3-4) at
    the end of our parsha. The Reform movement’s renunciation of this position was a
    rejection of a tradition that has been accepted for over 1,500 years.
    It is interesting to note that in a marriage between a Jew and a non-Jew none
    of the rabbis felt that the status of the children should be determined by the father. If
    in the other two types of mixed marriages
    (where both parents are Jewish or where
    the parents come from two different nonJewish nations) the halacha established
    that everything is determined by the father,
    what motivated the rabbis to assume that
    the same should not be the case when a Jew
    and non-Jew marry?
    The answer lies in the wording of the
    possuk in Bamidbar (ibid). The status of
    the children is determined solely by the father when we’re dealing with an issue of
    “mishpacha”. Being a Kohein or Levi is an
    issue of mishpachas kehuna or mishpachas
    leviah. The same is true regarding Amaleki, Edomi, etc. we colloquially refer to
    these groups as “nationalities”, but strictly
    speaking (halachically) they are merely
    “mishapchos”. In order to be a member of
    a certain mishpacha, you must have yichus
    (genealogical lineage) of ben achar ben
    through your father. Being Jewish, however, is not a function of which mishpacha
    one belongs to. This is illustrated by the institution of geirus (conversion). After conversion, a ger belongs to no mishpacha, but
    nonetheless is just as Jewish as all the other
    Jews. Being Jewish is a function of belonging to the Jewish people (Am Yisroel). The
    Jewish people are the only ones called a nation as such! “Umi ke’amcha Yisroel goy
    echad ba’aretz” (Shmuel II 7:27)[2].
    The rabbis apparently assumed that
    since “mishapacha” and “am” are fundamentally different, it must be that inclusion
    in each one will be determined by different factors in the case of a mixed marriage.
    A major difference between a mishpacha
    and a nation is that a mishpacha consists
    of a collection of individuals who relate to
    each other in a special way, while the term
    “goy” (nation) comes from the word “geviah” (body). Klal Yisroel is considered “one
    body”. We must adopt this attitude and act