'Judaism is not determined by DNA'

Rabbi Yaakov Ariel says Jewish law does not allow the determination of Jewish descent through genetic testing.

Benny Toker ,

Rabbi Yaakov Ariel
Rabbi Yaakov Ariel
Ofer Amram

Rabbi Yaakov Ariel, the former Chief Rabbi of Ramat Gan, said in an interview with Arutz Sheva that determining a person's Jewish background through genetic testing is contrary to Jewish law.

In response to the storm surrounding the reports of dozens of cases of using DNA tests to prove Judaism, Rabbi Ariel said, "I do not know anything like this. I never heard of it. There is a hypothesis that has not yet been proven at all, and is not being used."

According to him, the courts use DNA tests only for the purpose of allowing agunot to remarry. "The courts refrain from using DNA tests, mainly to prevent the problem of illegitimacy. Since DNA can only guess the identity of a child to whom it belongs and then there will be a question of bastards. But since DNA is not 100 percent, but only close to 100 percent, then we leave that doubt for other decisions, so there will be no fear of a bastard. DNA is used only to determine the death of a person whose wife remains an agunah, and to establish whether a family should begin mourning. Beyond that, Judaism does not use DNA. DNA is important for science and medicine, but as far as I know, Judaism does not use DNA except for agunot."

Rabbi Ariel emphasized that even if the DNA tests were to prove whether or not a Jew was standing in front of us, it is forbidden to use it, "DNA is not the way or method of determining family attribution in Judaism. He will not reveal who is a Jew and will not reveal things that he should not reveal: He only attributed the tribes of who is a Cohen, who is a Levi, and who is from another Israelite tribe, but not other things. Any family that is assimilated, it is assimilated. These are things that even Elijah the prophet who knows better and more accurately than anyone in the world would not do anything, and certainly DNA cannot do anything."

Therefore, according to Rabbi Ariel, the only way to cope with immigrants who have fraudulently declared that they are Jewish is through the courts, "The court has other methods. If someone cheated and lied, then you have to judge him as a liar, that's all."



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