Issurei Biah - Chapter Eighteen
Based on the Oral Tradition, we learned that the term zonah used by the Torah refers to one who is not a nativeborn Jewess, a Jewish woman who engaged in relations with a man she was forbidden to marry, violating a prohibition that is universally applicable, or a woman who engaged in relations with a challal even though she is permitted to marry him.
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, 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.
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, 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.Needless 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.
Similarly, a female convert or a freed [maid-servant] - even if she was converted or freed when she was less than three years old - 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, a mamzer, an Ammonite or Moabite convert, a first- or second-generation Egyptian or Edomite convert, a man with maimed testicles or a severed member, 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. Similarly, a yevamah who engaged relations with a man other than her yevam becomes a zonah.
An aylonit is permitted to [marry] a priest. She is not a zonah.
When a man engages in relations with one of the shniotor 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.
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, 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.
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 her 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. Therefore when a married woman engages in adultery, whether against her will or willingly, she is disqualified from [marrying into] the priesthood.
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." 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. 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.
When the wife of an Israelite is raped, although she is permitted to her husband, she is forbidden to [marry into] the prietshood.
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.[The rationale is that we suspect] that perhaps she set her eyes on another [man]. If he considers her as trustworthy, or he considers the witness as trustworthy and he accepts his word, he should divorce her so that there is no doubt regarding the matter.
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 priest after her husband dies. For she has acknowledged that she is a zonah and caused herself to be forbidden, making herself a prohibited entity.
When a priest 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, she is forbidden to him because of the doubt involved: perhaps she engaged in relations before she was consecrated or perhaps it was afterwards. When, by contrast, an Israelite makes such a claim, there are two doubts involved: 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.
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 will or maybe she engaged willingly. When there is a doubt concerning a Scriptural prohibition involved, [we rule] stringently.
Any woman who was given [a sotah] warning 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, because there is an unresolved question whether or not she is a zonah. [This applies] whether she did not wish to drink [the waters], her husband did not wish to compel her to drink the waters, there was testimony that prevented her from drinking, the warning was delivered by the court, or she was one of the woman who is not fit to drink. Whatever the reason that she did not drink, she is forbidden to [marry into] the priesthood because of the doubt [that has been created].
[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," 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.
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, 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 lineage and required two majorities.
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. If she marries one, she need not divorce. [This ruling also applies] if most of the inhabitants of the locale were unacceptable even though most of the passersby were acceptable.
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 like 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. If she already married [a priest], she need not be divorced because she says: "I engaged in relations with an acceptable man."
When a woman is dumb, deaf, 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. [After the fact,] if she married a priest, she must be divorced unless there is a twofold majority of men with whom she could have engaged in relations that are acceptable.
When a woman taken captive is redeemed and she is three years old or more, 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. Even a servant, a maid-servant, or a relative 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.[The rationale is] that all the prohibitions involving questionable situations are of Rabbinic origin. Therefore they ruled leniently with regard to a woman taken captive.
Similarly, a minor who states [that a woman was not touched by her captors] in the course of conversation. 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.
A husband's word is not accepted if he testifies that his wife who was taken captive was not defiled. Similarly, her maid-servant may not testify on her behalf. 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.
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. 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.
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.[This applies] even if there is one witness who testifies that she was taken captive. 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. [This applies] even if the one who testifies that she is pure is a woman or a maid-servant.
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. 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.
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. If one witness came and testified [that she was defiled], his testimony is of no consequence.
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, 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.
When a father states: "I consecrated my daughter and I had her divorced," [as long as] she is a minor," his word is accepted. "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.
[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," but not to have her disqualified as a zonah.
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, 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.
[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 escape 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.
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].
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."
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. [The rationale is that] they do not have time to rape, because they are busy gathering spoil and fleeing. If, however, they took the women captive and they were under their dominion, they are forbidden [to the priesthood] even though Jews pursue [the battalion] and rescued [the women] from them.
When a woman was imprisoned because of financial matters, she is permitted [to marry into the priesthood]. When she is imprisoned with regard to matters involving capital punishment, she is forbidden to the priesthood. Therefore if her husband is a priest, she is forbidden to him.
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 gentiles unless there is a witness who testifies on her behalf as is the law regarding a woman taken captive, as explained above.
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