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Issurei Biah - Chapter Eighteen

Issurei Biah - Chapter Eighteen

Halacha 1

Based on the Oral Tradition, we learned that the term zonah1 used by the Torah refers to one who is not a nativeborn Jewess,2 a Jewish woman who engaged in relations3 with a man she was forbidden to marry, violating a prohibition that is universally applicable,4 or a woman who engaged in relations with a challal5 even though she is permitted to marry him.6

Accordingly, a woman who engages in relations with an animal, even though she is liable for execution by stoning is not deemed as a zonah, nor is she disqualified from marrying into the priesthood,7 for she did not engage in relations with a man. [Similarly, when] a man engages in relations with a woman in the niddah state even though she is liable for kerait, she is not deemed as a zonah, nor is she disqualified from marrying into the priesthood, for she is not forbidden to marry him.

Halacha 2

Whenever a person has relations with an unmarried woman, even if she is a harlot who wantonly makes herself available to everyone, although she is liable for lashes,8 she is not deemed as a zonah, nor is she disqualified from [marrying] into the priesthood. For she is not forbidden to marry [the people with whom she engaged in relations].

[When, by contrast, a woman] engages in relations with a man with whom relations are forbidden by a negative commandment that is universally applicable - the transgression is not specific to priests - or with whom they are forbidden by a positive commandment, she is forbidden to marry him, she is a zonah.9Needless to say, [this applies if she engages in relations with a man] who is forbidden to her as an ervah, a gentile, or a servant.

Halacha 3

Similarly, a female convert or a freed [maid-servant] - even if she was converted or freed when she was less than three years old10 - since she is not a native-born Jewess, she is deemed a zonah and is forbidden to [marry] a priest.

On this basis, [our Sages said: A woman who has relations with] a gentile, a netin,11 a mamzer,12 an Ammonite or Moabite convert, a first- or second-generation Egyptian or Edomite convert,13 a man with maimed testicles or a severed member,14 or a challal who has relations with a [nativeborn] Jewess causes her to be considered as a zonah and to be forbidden to [marry into] the priesthood. If she was a priest's daughter, she is disqualified from [partaking of] terumah.15 Similarly, a yevamah who engaged relations with a man other than her yevam becomes a zonah.16

An aylonit17 is permitted to [marry] a priest. She is not a zonah.

Halacha 4

When a man engages in relations with one of the shniot18or the like, e.g., a man who engages in relations with a relative of the woman with whom he performed chalitzah or with the woman he performed chalitzah, he does not caused her to be deemed a zonah. For she is not forbidden to him according to Scriptural Law, as we explained in Hilchot Yibbum.19

Halacha 5

We thus learned that a woman's being deemed as a zonah is not dependent on her engaging in forbidden relations, for when a man engages in relations with a niddah or a harlot or when a woman engages in relations with an animal, the woman has engaged in forbidden relations and yet she is not deemed a zonah. When, by contrast, [a woman] marries a challal, she engages in relations that are permitted, as will be explained,20 and yet she is deemed a zonah. Thus the matter is dependent on the spiritual blemish alone. According to the Oral Tradition, we learned that the spiritual blemish comes only from a man who is forbidden to her or a challal, as we explained.

Halacha 6

Whenever a woman engages in relations that cause her to be deemed a zonah, she becomes disqualified as soon as the man's organ enters her21 whether she engages in relations against her will or willingly, whether in conscious violation or inadvertently, whether through vaginal or anal intercourse. [This applies] provided she is at least three years old and the man with whom she engages in relations is nine years old or more.22 Therefore when a married woman engages in adultery, whether against her will or willingly, she is disqualified from [marrying into] the priesthood.23

Halacha 7

When the wife of a priest is raped, [if her husband engages in relations with her afterwards,] he is punished by lashes because of her defilement. [This is derived from Deuteronomy 24:4]: "Her first husband who sent her away cannot return and take her as a wife after she has been defiled."24 All [women] were governed by the general principle: If they engaged in [adulterous] relations, they are forbidden to their husbands. The Torah singles out an exception: the wife of an Israelite who was raped.25 She is permitted to her husband, as [implied by Numbers 5:13]: "And she was not seized." The wife of a priest remains forbidden, because she is a zonah.26

Halacha 8

When the wife of an Israelite is raped, although she is permitted to her husband,27 she is forbidden to [marry into] the prietshood.28

When the wife of a priest tells her husband: "I was raped or inadvertently, I engaged in relations with another man," or one witness testifies against her that she committed adultery whether willingly or unwillingly, she is not forbidden to him.29[The rationale is that we suspect] that perhaps she set her eyes on another [man].30 If he considers her as trustworthy, or he considers the witness as trustworthy and he accepts his word,31 he should divorce her so that there is no doubt regarding the matter.32

Halacha 9

Although the wife of a priest who tells her husband: "I was raped," is permitted to her husband as explained, she is forbidden to any other priest33 after her husband dies.34 For she has acknowledged that she is a zonah and caused herself to be forbidden, making herself a prohibited entity.

Halacha 10

When a priest35 consecrates a woman, whether a minor or past majority, and afterwards engages in relations with her and claims that she had engaged in relations previously,36 she is forbidden to him because of the doubt involved:37 perhaps she engaged in relations before she was consecrated or perhaps it was afterwards.38 When, by contrast, an Israelite makes such a claim, there are two doubts involved:39 Maybe [the forbidden relations] preceded the consecration or maybe they came afterwards. Even if we say that they came afterwards, maybe she was raped or maybe she participated willingly. For a raped woman is permitted to an Israelite, as we explained.40

Halacha 11

Therefore if a girl's father consecrated her to an Israelite when she was less than three years old and [when they married, the Israelite] claimed that he discovered that she had engaged in relations previously, she is forbidden to him because of the doubt. For there is only one doubt involved: Maybe the relations were against her will41 or maybe she engaged willingly.42 When there is a doubt concerning a Scriptural prohibition involved, [we rule] stringently.

Halacha 12

Any woman who was given [a sotah] warning43 by her husband, entered into privacy [with the man she was warned against], but did not drink the sotah waters is forbidden to [marry] a priest,44 because there is an unresolved question whether or not she is a zonah.45 [This applies] whether she did not wish to drink [the waters],46 her husband did not wish to compel her to drink the waters,47 there was testimony that prevented her from drinking,48 the warning was delivered by the court,49 or she was one of the woman who is not fit to drink.50 Whatever the reason that she did not drink, she is forbidden to [marry into] the priesthood because of the doubt [that has been created].

Halacha 13

[The following rules apply if we] saw that an unmarried woman engaged in relations with a man who then departed. She is asked: "Who is the man with whom you engaged in relations?" If she says, "He is an acceptable man,"51 her word is accepted. Moreover, even if we see that she is pregnant and we ask her: "From whom did you conceive?" and she says, "From an acceptable man," her word is accepted and she is permitted [to marry] a priest.52

Halacha 14

When does the above apply? When the place where she engaged in relations was on a thoroughfare or in a carriage in the fields where everyone passes by,53 and most of the passersby are acceptable and most of the inhabitants of the city from which these passersby departed are acceptable. [The rationale for this stringency is that] our Sages elevated the standards required with regard to lineage54 and required two majorities.55

If, by contrast, most of the people passing by would disqualify her, e.g., they were gentiles, mamzerim, or the like, even if most of the inhabitants of the city from which they came were acceptable, we are suspect regarding her [status]. Perhaps she engaged in relations with a person who would disqualify her. Hence, the initial and preferred option is for her not to marry a priest.56 If she marries one, she need not divorce.57 [This ruling also applies] if most of the inhabitants of the locale were unacceptable even though most of the passersby were acceptable.

Halacha 15

If we saw that she engaged in relations in a city or she became pregnant in a city, [more stringent rules apply]. Even if there was only one gentile, challal, servant, or the like58 dwelling in the city, the initial and preferred option is that she not marry a priest. [The rationale is that] whenever entities are in their permanent locale, [probability is not taken into consideration. Instead, all doubts] are considered as equally balanced.59 If she already married [a priest], she need not be divorced because she says: "I engaged in relations with an acceptable man."60

Halacha 16

When a woman is dumb, deaf,61 she says: "I don't know the identity of the man with whom I engaged in relations," or she was a minor that cannot differentiate between a man who is acceptable and one who is not, she is considered as a zonah of questionable status.62 [After the fact,] if she married a priest, she must be divorced63 unless there is a twofold majority of men with whom she could have engaged in relations that are acceptable.64

Halacha 17

When a woman taken captive is redeemed and she is three years old or more,65 she is forbidden to [marry] a priest, because there is a question whether she is a zonah. Perhaps a gentile engaged in relations with her.

If there is a witness that a gentile did not enter into seclusion with her, she is acceptable to the priesthood.66 Even a servant, a maid-servant, or a relative67 is acceptable with regard to this testimony. [Moreover,] when two women who were taken captive give testimony on behalf of each other, their word is accepted.68[The rationale is] that all the prohibitions involving questionable situations are of Rabbinic origin.69 Therefore they ruled leniently with regard to a woman taken captive.

Halacha 18

Similarly, a minor who states [that a woman was not touched by her captors] in the course of conversation.70 An incident occurred with regard to a child who was captured together with his mother. In the course of conversation, he said: "My mother and I were captured by the gentiles. When I went out to draw water from the well, I was thinking about my mother. [When I went] to gather wood, I was thinking about my mother." Our Sages [permitted] her to marry a priest because of his words.71

Halacha 19

A husband's word is not accepted if he testifies72 that his wife who was taken captive was not defiled.73 Similarly, her maid-servant may not testify on her behalf.74 A maid-servant belonging to her husband, however, may testify on her behalf. And statements made by her maid-servant in the midst of conversation are accepted.75

Halacha 20

When a priest testifies that a woman who had been taken captive is pure, he may not marry her. [We suspect that] he focused his attention on her.76 If he redeemed her and testified on her behalf, he may marry her, for if he did not know that she was pure, he would not have paid money on her behalf.77

Halacha 21

When a woman says: "I was taken captive, but I am pure," her word is accepted. [The rationale is] that the mouth that forbid her granted her license.78[This applies] even if there is one witness who testifies that she was taken captive.79 If, however, there are two witnesses who testify that she was taken captive, her word is not accepted unless one person testifies that she is pure.

If there were two witnesses who testified that she was taken captive, one witness who testifies that she was defiled and another who contradicts his statements and testifies that she is pure and that a gentile did not enter into seclusion with her until she was redeemed, she is permitted.80 [This applies] even if the one who testifies that she is pure is a woman or a maid-servant.

Halacha 22

When a woman stated: "I was taken captive, but I am pure," and a court granted her license to marry [a priest], she may marry [one] as an initial and preferred option. Her license is not revoked [even if] afterwards two witnesses come and testify that she was taken captive.81 Even if her captor enters afterwards and we see that she is a captive under his dominion, her license [to marry a priest] is not revoked. We provide her with protection until she is redeemed.82

Halacha 23

If two witnesses came and stated that [a woman] was defiled, even if she had married and even if she bore children [to her husband, the priest], she must be divorced.83 If one witness came and testified [that she was defiled], his testimony is of no consequence.84

If the woman says, "I was taken captive, but I am pure, and I have witnesses that I am pure," we do not say: "Let us wait until the witnesses come." Instead, we grant her license [to marry into the priesthood] immediately. Moreover, even if a rumor is circulated that there are witnesses that she was defiled,85 we grant her license [to marry into the priesthood] until the witnesses come. [The rationale is that] we are lenient with regard to a woman taken captive.

Halacha 24

When a father states: "I consecrated my daughter and I had her divorced,"86 [as long as] she is a minor," his word is accepted.87 "I consecrated my daughter and I had her divorced while she was a minor," when she is past majority, his word is not accepted with regard to her being considered as a divorcee.88

[When he says,] "She was held captive and I redeemed her," his word is not accepted whether she is a minor or past majority. For the Torah deems him trustworthy only with regard to having her forbidden because of marriage, for it is written [Deuteronomy 22:16]: "I gave my daughter to this man,"89 but not to have her disqualified as a zonah.90

Halacha 25

When the wife of a priest is forbidden to him because she was taken captive, [we grant a leniency]. Since [the prohibition was instituted because] of a doubt,91 she is permitted to dwell together with him in the same courtyard, provided his children and the members of his household will always be there to watch him.92

Halacha 26

[The following laws apply when] a city was held under siege and conquered. If the gentiles surrounded the city from all sides so that it was impossible for [even] one woman to escape93 without being seen and placed under their dominion, all of the women in [the city] are forbidden [to marry into] the priesthood. They are considered as if they were held captive for perhaps they were raped by gentiles. [The only exception] are those less than three years old as explained.94

Halacha 27

If it was possible for one of the woman to escape without being detected or there was one hiding place in the city - even if it could hold only one woman - it saves all [the women from being deemed forbidden].95

Halacha 28

How does it save [the women from being deemed forbidden]? The word of every woman who claims "I am pure" is accepted. Since she could have said: "I escaped when the city was conquered," or "I was in a hiding place and I was saved," her word is accepted if she says: "I did not escape, nor did I hide, but I was not defiled."96

Halacha 29

When does the above apply? With regard to a battalion from that country who settle in the city and are not afraid. Therefore we fear that they raped the women. With regard to a battalion from another country, which swept through the city, pillaged and passed on, the women are not forbidden.97 [The rationale is that] they do not have time to rape, because they are busy gathering spoil and fleeing.98 If, however, they took the women captive and they were under their dominion, they are forbidden [to the priesthood]99 even though Jews pursue [the battalion] and rescued [the women] from them.100

Halacha 30

When a woman was imprisoned because of financial matters, she is permitted [to marry into the priesthood].101 When she is imprisoned with regard to matters involving capital punishment, she is forbidden to the priesthood.102 Therefore if her husband is a priest, she is forbidden to him.103

When does the above apply? When the Jews have power over the gentiles and they are afraid of them. When, by contrast, the gentiles are in power, even when a woman is imprisoned because of financial matters, she is forbidden since she was taken under the dominion of the gentiles104 unless there is a witness who testifies on her behalf as is the law regarding a woman taken captive, as explained above.105


The term literally means "a promiscuous woman." Halachically, however, it has a specific meaning as the Rambam continues to explain. This concept is relevant because a priest is forbidden to marry a zonah as mentioned at the beginning of the previous chapter.


Even if she is a virgin, and even if she converts (Halachah 3).


Even against her will. It is the fact of the relations, not her intent, that causes her to be placed in this category. See Halachot 5-6.


Even a prohibition that stems from a positive commandment, as mentioned in Halachah 3.


A child born from a relationship forbidden to a priest, as mentioned in Chapter 19, Halachot 5-6. As mentioned in the notes to the following halachah, the Ra'avad differs with the Rambam's view.


There is no prohibition against a challal marrying any Jewish woman, even the daughter of a priest (see Chapter 19, Halachah 11).


She may even marry a High Priest (if she engaged in anal intercourse with an animal), as stated in Chapter 17, Halachah 14.


As stated in Hilchot Ishut 1:4.


The Ra'avad differs with the Rambam's ruling, offering a more lenient view, explaining that although a woman who enters into relations with any of the above individuals is forbidden to marry into the priesthood, these relations do not cause her to be considered as a zonah and she and a priest are not punished by lashes if they engage in relations. The Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 6:8) quotes the Rambam's view.


At that age, even if she had engaged in relations, her hymen would regenerate and she would be considered as a virgin (Ketubot 11b). Nevertheless, she is not considered as a native-born Jewess.

The Ra'avad rules that such a woman is not considered as a zonah. Nevertheless, she is forbidden to marry into the priesthood, based on the interpretation of Ezekiel 44:22 advanced by Kiddushin 78a which states that a priest must marry only from "the seed of the House of Israel." Note the discussion of this difference of opinion by the Maggid Mishneh. See also Chapter 19, Halachah 12, which states that as long as converts marry among each other, their descendants are forbidden to marry into the priesthood.


See Chapter 12, Halachot 22-23, which defines this term and the prohibition against such a man marrying a native-born Jewess.


See Chapter 15 which describes the prohibition of such a man marrying a native-born Jewess.


See Chapter 12, Halachot 18-21, which describes the prohibition of such converts marrying a native-born Jewess.


See Chapter 16 which describes the prohibition of such a man marrying a native-born Jewess.


Leviticus 22:12 states "When the daughter of a priest is [possessed] by a foreigner, she may not partake of the terumah of holiness." Yevamot 68a states: "Since she engaged in relations with someone who is forbidden to her, she is disqualified."


Since she is forbidden to marry anyone other than her yevam relations with any other man cause her to be considered as a zonah.


The term aylonit refers to a woman who does not have female physical characteristics. Her breasts do not protrude, she stiffens during sexual relations, and her lower abdomen does not resemble that of a woman. She is considered incapable of giving birth (Hilchot Ishut 2:4-6).


These refer to distant relatives whom the Rabbis forbade as safeguards to Scriptural prohibitions. See Hilchot Ishut 1:6 for a list of these prohibitions.


See Hilchot Yibbum 1:12-13 which explains that once a woman is obligated to undergo chalitzah, there is no Scriptural prohibition against engaging in relations with her or her relatives. Nevertheless, our Sages instituted these prohibitions as safeguards.


Chapter 19, Halachah 16.


We are translating the term heara; see Chapter 1, Halachah 10.


For below these ages, any sexual contact in which these individuals engage is not significant, as stated in Chapter 1, Halachot 13-14.


I.e., if the woman's husband dies after the adulterous relations without divorcing her, she may not marry a priest. Alternatively, as the Rambam continues to explain in the subsequent halachot, if she is the wife of the priest, she may not remain married to him.


As the Rambam implies, the prohibition indicated by this verse is not explicitly referring to a woman married to a priest. Instead, halachically (see Hilchot Gerushin 11:14), it is interpreted as referring to all married women who are defiled by adultery. The wife of an Israelite who was raped is an exception, but not the wife of a priest.

The commentaries question the exactness of the Rambam's statements here, because in this instance two separate prohibitions - the prohibition against relations with one's defiled wife and the prohibition against a priest engaging in relations with a zonah - are involved. See the Maggid Mishneh for a discussion of the issue. See also Chapter 1, Halachah 22.


See Hilchot Ishut 24:19.


I.e., despite the fact that she is not held responsible for the adulterous relations, they create a spiritual blemish that prevents her from marrying a priest.


For the adulterous relations were carried out against her will.


After her husband dies.


Testimony is not considered binding unless it is made by two witnesses. Thus the testimony of one witnesses is not of consequence. Similarly, a person's testimony cannot be used against himself. Hence, the woman's own testimony is not of consequence.

There is one instance where the testimony of one witness is significant. When the husband issued a sotah warning to his wife. See Hilchot Ishut 24:18).


And seeks to be released from her husband so that she may engage in relations with him.


And thus he believes that his wife committed adultery.


For since he believes either his wife or the witness, he will be consenting to a transgression each time he enters into relations with her. Accordingly, he has a moral and spiritual obligation to divorce her (Maggid Mishneh to Hilchot Ishut, loc. cit.)


The Beit Shmuel 6:25 states that the Rambam's ruling applies only as an initial and preferred option. After the fact, if she marries a priest, they may remain husband and wife unless he believes her statements.


The Ra'avad differs with the Rambam, explaining that since the woman's statements were rejected, they are considered of no consequence afterwards. The Maggid Mishneh justifies the Rambam's ruling and it is accepted as law by the Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 6:13).

The Ra'avad's rationale is that if the woman is able to provide an satisfactory explanation why she originally stated that she was forbidden, her word is accepted, as is the case with regard to other similar situations. The Maggid Mishneh does not accept this logic. See Chelkat Mechokek 6:12 and Beit Shmuel 6:26 which discuss this issue.


In contrast to an Israelite, as the Rambam continues to explain.


The husband's word is accepted as stated in Hilchot Ishut 11:8-15. The rationale is that we operate on the presumption that a man will not take on the expense and trouble of making a wedding and then forfeit it because of a spurious claim.


Since the doubt involves a Scriptural prohibition, we rule stringently.


For if the relations took place afterwards, even if she was raped, she is forbidden to her husband as a zonah.


And when there are two doubts involved, even when a Scriptural prohibition is concerned, we rule leniently.


See Halachah 7.


Although a minor who willfully commits adultery is not punished, she is forbidden to her husband (Chapter 3, Halachah 2).


Since she was consecrated before the age of three, even if she had engaged in relations beforehand, her hymen would have regenerated. Thus there is only one doubt involved.


A formal warning delivered in the presence of witnesses not to enter into privacy with a specific man (Hilchot Sotah 1:1).


I.e., if her first husband dies without divorcing her.


Drinking the waters would have tested her virtue. Since she did not undergo this test, the matter is unresolved and hence she is forbidden to a priest.


See Hilchot Sotah 2:1, 3:2 which imply that the refusal to drink the waters is tantamount to an admission of guilt.


In such an instance, the woman is forbidden to her original husband, but he must pay her the money due her by virtue of her ketubah (Hilchot Sotah 2:1).


Hilchot Sotah 1:14 states that if even one witness testifies that he saw the woman commit adultery after receiving the sotah warning, she becomes forbidden to her husband.


Hilchot Sotah 1:10 states that, when a husband is unable to supervise his wife's moral behavior, the court may issue such a warning on his behalf. In such an instance, however, the woman is not compelled to drink the sotah waters.


Hilchot Sotah 2:2 lists fifteen women who are not given the option of drinking the sotah waters.


I.e., neither a mamzer, nor a gentile, nor another individual who would disqualify her from marrying into the priesthood.


This represents the legal abstract. Our Sages, however, applied stringencies as indicated by the following halachah.


This factor is necessary to allow for us to apply the principle: "Whenever an entity is separated, it is considered as having been separated from the majority." When, as stated in Halachah 15, the relations occur in a place where an entity is kevua, in its fixed place, we do not follow the majority.


Compare to Chapter 15, Halachah 11, which states that when the lineage of the child is involved, the woman's word is accepted even when the majority of the men are not acceptable. The rationale for the difference is that with regard to the child, there is no alternative. If the child is not deemed acceptable, he or she will not be able to marry within the Jewish people. If, however, the woman's word is not accepted, she will still be able to marry anyone other than a priest (Maggid Mishneh).


I.e., instead of requiring a simple majority as is the usual standard.


This ruling is cited by the Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 6:17). That source, however, also cites the view of the Tur and other Rishonim which maintains that if she states that the person with whom she engaged in relations are acceptable and the majority of the people are acceptable, she may marry into the priesthood at the outset. The Beit Shmuel 6:31 also cites a third, more lenient view.


After the fact, we rely on the halachic abstract stated in the previous halachah. This applies even if most of the people are unacceptable (Beit Shmuel 6:32).


I.e., persons who would disqualify her from marrying into the priesthood.


The Kessef Mishneh explains the Rambam's ruling as follows: When the woman goes to the unacceptable man for relations, he is considered as in his established place and hence, the doubt is considered equally balanced. Even when the unacceptable man comes to the woman for relations - in which instance, he has been separated from his natural place, and hence the principles of probability should apply - we rule stringently. This is a safeguard, lest one rule leniently when the woman goes to the man.

The Tur (Even HaEzer 6) rules more leniently, maintaining that if the man comes to the woman, we follow the principles of probability. The Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 6:18) mentions both views without stating which one should be followed.


And after the fact, we rely on her word.


In these two instances, we assume that she lacks the intellectual sophistication to know the status of the man with whom she engaged in relations.


In all instances, the initial and preferred option is for her not to marry into the priesthood (Maggid Mishneh). A child born from these relations is considered a mamzer of questionable status, as stated in Chapter 15, Halachah 12.


Since a question of Scriptural Law which cannot be clarified is involved, we rule stringently.


In such an instance, we are not concerned with the doubt because of the high probability that the man was acceptable.


The minimum age from which time onward sexual relations are significant.


As the Rambam proceeds to explain, since the prohibition is of Rabbinic origin, we do not follow the Scriptural requirements applying to witnesses. Therefore although ordinarily the testimony of two acceptable witnesses is required, in this instance, we accept the testimony of only one witness and moreover, accept testimony from witnesses - women, servants, and relatives - who would ordinarily be disqualified.


There is a difference of opinion among the commentaries whether the testimony of a woman's son or daughter is acceptable. If they mention the matter in the course of conversation, their word is accepted as evident from the following halachah, If, however, a son or a daughter deliver testimony on their mother's behalf, most authorities maintain that the testimony is not accepted (see Chelkat Mechokek 7:1; Beit Shmuel 7:3).


Even though one could argue that each one is lying on the other's behalf.


Whenever there is a question whether or not a Scriptural prohibition applies, we rule stringently. This principle, however, is a point of Rabbinic Law. According to Scriptural Law, since the prohibition is not definitely established, one need not observe it.


A minor is not acceptable as a witness. Nevertheless, if he makes statements in the course of his conversation which indicate that a woman - his mother or any other woman - was not molested by her captors, those statements can serve as evidence to grant the woman license to marry a priest.

The rationale is that these statements are considered to reflect the truth. We suspect that the child is telling us a representative account of what happened. Hence, since the prohibition was instituted only because of doubt, such statements are sufficient to allay our suspicions. With regard to the principle of accepting statements made in the course of conversation, see Hilchot Gerushin, Chapter 13, and commentaries.

There are authorities (Rabbenu Nissim) who maintain that a child's word is also accepted when he gives testimony directly. The Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 7:1) also quotes that view although he appears to favor the above perspective.


Because the implication is that his mother was not molested.


Or if he makes the statements in the course of conversation (Maggid Mishneh; Beit Shmuel 7:4). The Rama (Even HaEzer 7:2), however, mentions opinions that grant leniency when he makes such statements in the course of conversation.


The rationale is based on the principle: "A person may not give testimony on his own behalf" [Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 7:2)].


For we fear that she may lie to cover up for her.


For we do not assume that she will know that these statements may be used to advance the cause of her mistress.


We suspect that he desired to marry her and therefore testified that she was not defiled even though he did not have definite information to that effect. Although we enforce this stringency with regard to the priest himself, we accept his testimony with regard to others and allow her to marry another priest (Chelkat Mechokek 7:6, Beit Shmuel 7:7).


For other persons might come and testify that she was defiled in which instance, he would be forced to divorce her. Hence were he not sure that the matter was true, he would not risk forfeiting his money (Ketubot 36b).


We would forbid her from marrying a priest only because of her own statements and in those very statements, she maintains that she is pure.


For the testimony of one witness is not halachicly significant. Based on Rashi (Ketubot 23b), the Beit Shmuel 7:8 states that this applies even if the witness testifies that the woman was defiled.


The Maggid Mishneh states that this applies even if the witness who testified that she was defiled testified first. Although one might think that once the first witness testifies, her status would be established as forbidden, our Sages ruled leniently with regard to a woman taken captive.


Had the witnesses made their statements first, the woman would not have been granted this license. Nevertheless, once she is given permission to marry into the priesthood, that permission is not rescinded unless there are witnesses that she was defiled.


I.e., watchmen who will observe her and prevent her from being raped by her captors. Although she did not enjoy this protection beforehand, we grant it to her at present.

All of the particulars in this halachah are taken from an actual incident that took place. As Ketubot 23a relates, the daughters of the Sage Shmuel were taken captive. They were transported to Eretz Yisrael. They told their captors to wait for them outside and entered the court of Rabbi Chaninah and said: "We were taken captive, but we are pure." The Sages permitted them to marry into the priesthood.


For testimony delivered by two witnesses establishes a halachic reality which must be reckoned with.


The Chelkat Mechokek 7:9 and the Beit Shmuel 7:12 states that even if the witness came after she was given license to marry into the priesthood, but before she actually married, his testimony is of no consequence and the license is not rescinded. This applies even if witnesses had also come and testified that she had been held captive.


The Chelkat Mechokek 7:11 quotes the Ritbah who maintains that this ruling applies even if the rumor was substantiated in court. As long as there is not actually testimony, her status remains unchanged.


As is his right until she reaches maturity [Hilchot Ishut 3:11 (see also 9:10).


And she is forbidden to marry into the priesthood.


For his word is accepted only as long as the matter is in his hands (see Kiddushin 64a).


Since he has the right to consecrate her and effect her divorce, his word is accepted with regard to her status.


The Beit Shmuel 7:15 explains that we do not accept his word based on the principle of miggo. To explain: one might think that since the father's word would be accepted were he to claim that he consecrated her and had her divorced, we accept his word if he claims that she was taken captive, for had he desired to lie, he could have claimed that she was divorced. We do not follow that argument, because the statement that she was taken captive involves a more encompassing prohibition, causing her to be forbidden to partake of terumah as well as being forbidden to marry a priest.


I.e., the prohibition was instituted because we suspect that she was defiled. The Beit Yosef (Even HaEzer 7) states that, based on the Rambam's statements, if there are witnesses that the woman was defiled, this leniency is not granted.


And see that the couple do not engage in intimacy.


This ruling (as continued in the following three halachot) reflects the Rambam's interpretation of Ketubot 27b. There are several other interpretations of that passage. The Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 7:10) quotes the Rambam's view, but also that of dissenting authorities. See also Hilchot Ma'achalot Assurot 12:24 which states a ruling dependent on the same passage.


See Halachah 17.


Even if the woman admits that she did not escape or hide, her word is accepted, based on the principle of miggo. As stated in the following halachah, had she desired to lie, instead of saying merely that she was not molested, she could have claimed to have escaped or have hidden.


See the Chelkat Mechokek 7:15 which state that the Rambam's words imply that the woman must come to court and make these statements to be granted license to marry into the priesthood. They also mention Rabbenu Nissim's view that does not require this measure, but instead permits all women in these situations to marry into the priesthood automatically.


As mentioned above, there are opinions that differ and maintain that even when the battalion is from another country, the women are forbidden.


The Kessef Mishneh maintains that even when the conquering army is from another country, if they remain in the city for a longer period, the women are forbidden from marrying into the priesthood. We suspect that since there was no immediate pressure to flee, the soldiers may have raped the local women.


As are any women taken captive by gentiles as stated above.


Since our Sages forbade women taken captive, that prohibition is universally enforced, regardless of the length of time the women were in captivity (Kessef Mishneh).


I.e., we do not suspect that she was raped, because the gentiles will fear to rape her lest they be forced to forfeit the money owed them [Ramah (Even HaEzer 7:11)]. These laws apply not only to jails, but instances when women are held captive by men for other reasons.


I.e., we fear that she was raped by her jailers.


If, however, the husband is an Israelite, there is no prohibition. We do not fear that the women would try to save her life by seducing her jailers or accepting their advances. Were that to be the case, the relations would be considered voluntary and thus she would be prohibited to her husband.

The Rambam's ruling is quoted by the Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 7:11). The Ramah quotes the opinion of Rabbenu Asher and other Ashkenazic authorities who maintain that a woman would be forbidden to even an Israelite husband for the reasons stated above. He does, however, mention more lenient views.


The commentaries question if these laws apply with regard to contemporary prison conditions when it is less likely for the prison staff to ravage women held under their jurisdiction.


Halachah 17.

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