1) A LEVI CHILD WHO IS "MEZUHAM"
OPINIONS: Rav Papa says that a firstborn son born to a Leviyah (the daughter of a Levi) who became pregnant from a Nochri is exempt from Pidyon ha'Ben. The Gemara explains that this ruling applies not only according to the opinion that "Ein Mezahamin Es ha'Vlad" ("we do not invalidate the child"), but even according to the opinion that "Mezahamin Es ha'Vlad" ("we invalidate the child"). The child is exempt from Pidyon ha'Ben because he is considered a Levi despite the fact that his father is a Nochri.
What is the meaning of "Mezahamin Es ha'Vlad," and why is such a child -- born to a Jewish woman (who is a Leviyah) and a Nochri man -- still considered a Levi?
(a) RASHI (DH Ela Afilu) explains that according to the opinion that maintains "Mezahamin Es ha'Vlad," the child is a "Levi Pasul," a disqualified Levi, because his father is a Nochri. Nevertheless, he is a full-fledged Jew, because his mother is Jewish. According to the opinion that maintains "Ein Mezahamin Es ha'Vlad," the father has no relationship to the child at all and does not even disqualify the child from being a Levi.
(b) RASHI in Kidushin (68b, DH Leima) and TOSFOS in Yevamos (23a, DH Kasavar) write the opposite of what Rashi writes here. According to the opinion that maintains "Mezahamin Es ha'Vlad," we take the mother into consideration; since the mother is a Jew, the child is a Jew and is therefore declared to be a Mamzer (and a disqualified Levi). In contrast, the opinion that maintains "Ein Mezahamin Es ha'Vlad" maintains that the father does have some effect on the child, and the child is not a Jew. Since a Nochri cannot be called a Mamzer, the child is neither a Mamzer nor a Levi if he later becomes a Ger.
(c) TOSFOS here (DH v'Lo) makes an unusual compromise between the two approaches. When the Gemara says that the child is disqualified as a Levi because of "Mezahamin Es ha'Vlad," it means that we take into account the Nochri father, as Rashi explains here. However, Tosfos also asserts that since we take the father into account, the child is considered to be a Nochri -- a Levi who is not a Jew! (The opinion that says "Ein Mezahamin Es ha'Vlad" will assert that the child is both a valid Jew and a valid Levi.)
How, though, can a Nochri be a Levi? While he is a Nochri, he certainly cannot serve in the capacity of a Levi. If he converts and becomes a Jew, he becomes a Yisrael, since he is not descended from the sons of Levi! (See SHA'AR HA'MELECH, Hilchos Isurei Bi'ah 15:3.)
A number of explanations are offered to explain the intention of Tosfos. (See MAHARIT ALGAZI (8:65a:2), who gives a very unusual explanation, which the BEIS YITZCHAK (Even ha'Ezer 1:29:8) uses in order to explain why Daryavesh (Darius, or Koresh II), the king of Persia, was considered a Nochri king (Rosh Hashanah 3b; see Insights there) even though he was the son of Esther, a Jewess.) The NESIVOS HA'MISHPAT (in TESHUVOS HA'GA'ON MI'LISA #25) proposes that perhaps the rule that a Nochri who converts is considered newly born with no ancestry does not apply in its full sense to a child born to a Jewish woman and a Nochri. Once the child converts, he retroactively is considered to be the son of his Jewish mother. Therefore, if his mother is a Leviyah, then he, too, is a Levi.
Alternatively, perhaps there is an error in the text of Tosfos here, and Tosfos is actually suggesting exactly the same explanation that he gives in Yevamos (23a, DH Kasavar). In the second line of Tosfos, the word "Mezahamin" should be "Ein Mezahamin," and in the third line of Tosfos, the words "ked'Piresh b'Kuntrus" should be "v'Lo ked'Piresh b'Kuntrus" (since, as Tosfos himself concludes, Rashi offers the exact opposite explanation). (M. KORNFELD)
2) DESIGNATING MONEY FOR "PIDYON HA'BEN" FOR A FIRSTBORN "CHALAL" OF A KOHEN
QUESTION: The Gemara teaches that if a Kohen's firstborn male child is a Chalal, the obligation of Pidyon ha'Ben applies. However, the Kohen (or the son, if the father has died) does not need to perform Pidyon ha'Ben by giving the money of the Pidyon to a Kohen, because the father who is a Kohen simply may designate the money for Pidyon ha'Ben, and then he may keep it for himself (RASHI DH she'Harei, and DH d'Amar Lei), since he is a Kohen.
The Gemara implies that even when there is no obligation to give money to a Kohen, there remains an obligation to designate money for the Pidyon.
Similarly, the ROSH (8:3) explains that if a Kohen dies before redeeming his firstborn son who is a Chalal, the son must designate money for his own redemption and then he may keep the money for himself. Since the father had the right to keep the money for himself, the son inherits that right. The Rosh compares the situation of the Chalal to that of a Yisrael who inherits Tevel from his grandfather (his mother's father) who is a Kohen. The Yisrael must separate Terumah from the produce, but then he may keep the Terumah for himself instead of giving it to a Kohen (Bechoros 11a).
Why is it necessary for the Chalal (or his father) to designate money for Pidyon ha'Ben? There is a general rule that whenever there is a doubt about whether a person is obligated to redeem himself, he is fully exempt from Pidyon, because the money of Pidyon is simply money owed to the Kohen (and has no Kedushah). (See, for example, the Mishnayos on 48a, 48b, and 49a.) If the money will not be given eventually to a Kohen, then why should one designate it in the first place? (Pidyon ha'Ben is a monetary requirement and does not involve a question of Isur, and, therefore, in a case of doubt there should be no obligation at all.) (MAHARIT ALGAZI 8:67; see also Insights to Chulin 130:2.)
(a) When a person is exempt from paying the Kohen because of a doubt about whether he is obligated to perform Pidyon ha'Ben, the Halachah does not obligate him to designate money for his own Pidyon and keep it for himself. Since the Pidyon is done for the purpose of giving the money to a Kohen, when one is exempt from giving the Pidyon to a Kohen the Torah likewise exempts him from designating it as Pidyon money. In the case of the Chalal, however, the child certainly is obligated to perform Pidyon; he merely is exempt from giving the money to a Kohen because his father is a Kohen who may keep the Pidyon money (and the Chalal inherits that right). He therefore is obligated to fulfill the Mitzvah of the Torah and designate money for Pidyon, but he may keep the money for himself.
(b) Perhaps Rashi does not mean the same thing as the Rosh. Perhaps Rashi does not mean that the Chalal (or his father) is obligated to "give" himself the money of Pidyon. Rather, Rashi means that since a Kohen who designates money for Pidyon may keep it for himself, it is not even necessary for him to designate the money as Pidyon in the first place. (M. KORNFELD)
3) HALACHAH: A CAESARIAN-BORN FIRSTBORN SON
QUESTION: In the Mishnah, the Tana Kama and Rebbi Shimon disagree about the status of a son born naturally, after the first son is born through a Caesarian section. The Tana Kama maintains that neither the first nor the second son is considered the Bechor. Rebbi Shimon maintains that the first son is the Bechor with regard to inheritance, and the second son is the Bechor with regard to Pidyon ha'Ben.
What is the Halachah?
HALACHAH: The SHULCHAN ARUCH (YD 305:24) rules like the Tana Kama, that both the son born through Caesarian birth and the naturally-born son that follows him are exempt from Pidyon ha'Ben.