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by: Rabbi Dan S. Wiko PhD
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This Month...

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On Tuesday, September 11, 2007 I was asked the following question:

My Dear Rabbi

As a Levi, I consider myself as being of the Levi tribe. Even though the Levis where not allotted land but were divided among the other 11 tribes to be the priests and I presume , protectors of the temples they still maintained their tribal name of HaLevi. I also consider Cohens to be a sub tribe of Levis (descendants of Aaron who was a Levi). Since one cannot become a Levi or Cohen but must be a direct descendant of a male Levi or Cohen, then Levis (& Cohens) are all direct male descendants of Levi ben Israel. Thus we or I have the same Y chromosome as Levi ben Israel, ben Isaac, ben Abraham. I am under the assumption that a male convert can be adopted into any of the other tribes but not Levi. (or Cohen). You have to be born a priest. Ami I correct?"

This was my response:

Dear reader,

There are now only three Tribes; two, actually. Kohain, Levi and Yisroel. Kohaniim are from the tribe of Levi. Therefore, I say two instead of three. It is true that one is born into the Kohain/Levi tribe through male parentage and, yes, they are directly descended from Aaron. One can not apply for membership in the priestly tribe so if you aren't born to a father who is either a Kohain or a Levi, you are, by default, a Yisroel.

Rabbi Dan

If you have questions about a personal matter, or jewish practices and customs, you can submit them to me by e-mail. I answer all queries directly, or through this column, when the question is informative to our community.

Thank you for your kind attention and this opportunity to share with you,
Rabbi Dan S. Wiko
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