Here's a great tip:
Enter your email address and we'll send you our weekly magazine by email with fresh, exciting and thoughtful content that will enrich your inbox and your life, week after week. And it's free.
Oh, and don't forget to like our facebook page too!
Printed from
Contact Us
Visit us on Facebook

Issurei Biah - Chapter Twenty Two

Issurei Biah - Chapter Twenty Two

Halacha 1

It is forbidden to enter into privacy with any of the woman forbidden as ariot,1 even if she is elderly or a young girl,2 for this leads to forbidden relations. [The only] exceptions are a woman and her son, a father and his daughter, and a husband with his wife who is in the niddah state.3

When a bridegroom's wife menstruates before he engages in relations with her, it is forbidden for him to enter into privacy with her.4 Instead, she should sleep among [other] women and he should sleep among [other] men.5 If they engaged in relations once and afterwards, she became impure, he is permitted to enter into privacy with her.

Halacha 2

Jewish men were not suspected of engaging in relations with men or with animals. Hence, there is no prohibition against entering into privacy with them.6If, however, a person distances himself from entering into privacy even with a male or an animal, it is praiseworthy. Sages of great stature would distance themselves from animals so that they would not be alone with them.7

The prohibition against entering into privacy with woman forbidden as ariot has been transmitted by the Oral Tradition.8

Halacha 3

When the incident concerning Amnon and Tamar occurred,9 David and his court decreed a prohibition against entering into privacy with an unmarried woman. Although an unmarried woman is not an ervah, such an act is considered as entering into privacy with an ervah. Shammai and Hillel decreed a prohibition against entering into privacy with gentiles.10

Thus when anyone enters into privacy with a woman, whether Jew or gentile, with whom such an act is forbidden, both the man and the woman are given stripes for rebellious conduct and an announcement is made concerning them.11 An exception is made with regard to a married woman. Although it is forbidden to enter into privacy with her, if one does enter into privacy with her, corporal punishment is not administered12 lest a rumor be initiated that she committed adultery. Thus a rumor might spread that her children are mamzerim.

Halacha 4

Whenever a man is forbidden to enter into privacy with a woman, this act is permitted if he is accompanied by his wife, for his wife will guard him [against transgression]. A Jewish woman should not enter into privacy with a gentile man even if his wife is with him. For a gentile's wife will not guard him [against transgression] and they have no shame.13

Halacha 5

Similarly, a Jewish child should not be entrusted to a gentile with the intent that he teach him to read or teach him a craft, for all gentiles are suspect to engage in homosexual relations. Similarly, we do not house an animal in an inn belonging to gentiles, not even a male in an inn with males and a female in an inn with females.14

Halacha 6

We do not entrust an animal, beast, or fowl to a gentile shepherd, not even a male animal to a male shepherd and a female animal to a female shepherd, because they are all suspect to sodomize animals. We have already explained15 that [gentiles] are forbidden to engage in homosexuality or sodomy. And [Leviticus 19:14] states: "Do not place a stumbling block before the blind."16

Halacha 7

Why do we not entrust a female animal to a female gentile? For [all gentiles] are assumed to be promiscuous and when a gentile man will come to sleep with this gentile woman, it is possible that he will not find her and instead, sodomize the animal. Or even if he does find her, he may sodomize the animal.

Halacha 8

One woman should not enter into privacy even with many men17 unless the wife of one of them is present.18 Similarly, one man should not enter into privacy even with many women,19 But when there are many women together with many men, we do not show concern for the prohibition against entering into privacy.20

If the men were outside and the women were inside or if the men were inside and the women were outside, and one woman - or one man - separated themselves and joined the group of the other sex, the prohibition against entering into privacy applies.

Even a man whose business and profession [brings him into contact] with women21 is forbidden to enter into privacy with them. What should he do? He should involve himself with them while accompanied by his wife or turn to another profession.

Halacha 9

It is permitted to enter into privacy with two yevamot, two wives of the same man, a woman and her mother-in-law, or a woman and her husband's daughter, a woman and her husband's daughter, or a woman and her mother-in-law's daughter. [The rationale is that] these women hate each other and will not conceal the other's [misdeeds].22 Similarly, it is permitted to enter into privacy with a woman who is accompanied by a young child old enough to understand what sexual relations are, but who would not engage in relations herself. [The rationale is that the woman] would not act promiscuously in the presence of this child, for she will reveal her secret.

Halacha 10

It is permitted to enter into privacy with a female child less than three years old and a male child less than nine years old. For [our Sages] only issued decrees concerning entering into privacy with a woman fit to engage in relations and a male fit to engage in relations.23

Halacha 11

An androgynus24 may not enter into privacy with women.25 If he does, he is not given physical punishment, because his status is doubtful. A man may enter into privacy with an androgynus or a tumtum.26

Halacha 12

When a married woman's husband is in the [same] city, she need not be concerned about [the prohibition against] entering into privacy with another man, because she will be impressed by the fear of her husband.27 If a man is overly familiar with her, e.g., they grew up together or she is his relative, she should not enter into privacy with him even if her husband is in the same city.28

Whenever a man enters into a room with a woman, but there is a door29 open to the public thoroughfare, we are not concerned about [the prohibition against] entering into privacy.30

Halacha 13

An unmarried man should not teach young children, because the mothers come to the school because of their sons and thus he will be tempted by women.31 Similarly, a woman32 should not teach young boys, because their fathers come because of their sons and thus they will enter into privacy with her. A teacher does not have to have his wife together with him in school,33It is sufficient that she be at home, while he teaches in his place.34

Halacha 14

Our Sages ordained that women speak to each other while in a lavatory,35 so that a man will not enter there and thus be alone with them.

Halacha 15

We do not appoint even a faithful and observant person to be a guard of a courtyard where women live. [This applies] even if he stands outside, for there is no guardian against promiscuity.36

It is forbidden for a person to appoint a supervisor over his home so that he does not lead his wife to sin.37

Halacha 16

It is forbidden for a Torah scholar to dwell in a courtyard where a widow lives even though he does not enter into privacy with her lest suspicions arise38unless his wife is with him. Similarly, a widow should not raise a dog because of the suspicions that might arise. Nor should a woman purchase male servants - even minors - because of the suspicions that may arise.39

Halacha 17

We do not relate the hidden matters40 concerning forbidden sexual conduct to three students. [The rationale is that] one will be absorbed in questioning the teacher, the other two will be debating the matter back and forth and will not be free to listen. Since a person's mind is aroused by sexual matters,41if a doubt arises concerning something he heard, he may [in error] rule leniently. Therefore, we teach only to two. In this manner, the one listening will focus his attention and recall what he will hear from the teacher.

Halacha 18

There is nothing in the entire Torah that is more difficult for the majority of people to separate themselves from than sexual misconduct and forbidden relationships. Our Sages said:42 When the Jews were commanded regarding forbidden sexual relations, they wept and accepted this mitzvah with complaints and moaning, as implied by the phrase: "Crying among their families," [which is interpreted as meaning]: "Crying about family matters."

Halacha 19

Our Sages said:43 A person's soul desires and craves theft and forbidden sexual relations. You will never find a community that does not have some people who are promiscuous regarding forbidden relationships and prohibited sexual conduct. Moreover, our Sages said:44 Most people trespass with regard to theft; a minority with regard to forbidden sexual conduct, and all with regard to the shade of undesirable gossip.45

Halacha 20

Therefore it is proper for a person to subjugate his natural inclination with regard to this matter and train himself in extra holiness, pure thought, and proper character traits so that he will be guarded against them.

He should be very careful with regard to entering into privacy with a woman, for this is a great cause [of transgression]. Our great Sages would tell their students:46"Watch me because of my daughter," "Watch me because of my daughter-in-law," so that they would teach their students not to be embarrassed about such matters and distance themselves from entering into privacy with women.

Halacha 21

Similarly, a person should distance himself from levity, intoxication, and flirtation,47 for they are great precipitators and steps [leading] to forbidden relations.

A man should not live without a wife, for this practice leads to great purity.48 And [our Sages gave] even greater [advice], saying:49 "A person should always turn himself and his thoughts to the words of the Torah and expand his knowledge in wisdom, for the thoughts of forbidden relations grow strong solely in a heart which is empty of wisdom." And in [Solomon's words of] wisdom [Proverbs 5:19], it is written: "It50 is a beloved hind, arousing favor. Her breasts will satisfy you at all times. You shall be obsessed with her love."

Blessed be God who grants assistance.


This prohibition also includes woman with whom relations are forbidden merely by a negative commandment (Beit Shmuel 22:1).


And thus there is no apparent motivation toward sexual relations.


See the Chelkat Mechokek 22:1 and the Beit Shmuel, loc. cit. which cite opinions that maintain that a man is permitted to enter into privacy with his sister in a temporary situation.


Since the couple have never engaged in relations, we fear that they will not be able to control their desire. Hence we require them to take this added safeguard.


See Rama (Yoreh De'ah 192:4) who discusses this issue in depth, mentioning several stringencies and leniencies. He states the prevailing custom is for a young boy to accompany the groom and a young girl to accompany the bride. Every person should check with a competent Rabbinic authority with regard to the custom followed in their community.


The Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 24:1) writes that homosexuality had become prevalent in his community and hence, it was deemed appropriate not to enter into privacy with other men. The Bayit Chadash states that in places where this transgression is not widespread, there is no need for taking such precautions.


See Kiddushin 81b.


Kiddushin 80b states that "there is an allusion to the prohibition against entering into privacy in the Torah." The Rambam understands that to mean that the prohibition was conveyed by the Oral Tradition and our Sages found an allusion for it in the Torah. The Tur (Even HaEzer 22), however, follows the opinion of Tosafot who maintains that the prohibition is of Scriptural origin.


As II Samuel, ch. 13, relates: Amonon, David's oldest son, lusted for Tamar, his half-sister. He feigned illness and asked that Tamar serve him a meal. While she was serving him, he raped her.


In that era, there already were more substantial social conduct between Jews and gentiles and our Sages felt that there was a need for further safeguards.


Publicizing their misconduct so that the shame will further inhibit a future recurrence.


The simple meaning of the Rambam's words is that lashes are not administered at all, neither to the man or the woman. The Bayit Chadash (Even HaEzer 22), however, states that punishment should be administered to the man, for it is not necessary to mention the woman with whom he transgressed.


And there is the possibility that he will engage in relations with her in the presence of his wife.


For we fear that the gentiles will engage in sexual misconduct. See Halachah 7.


Chapter 14, Halachah 10.


As interpreted by Avodah Zarah 6b, et al, this verse is a command not to place a person in a situation where he is likely to sin. By placing an animal belonging to him in the gentile's possession, the Jew is making it possible for him to sin.


For we fear that she will enter into relations with one or more of the men in the presence of the others.

The Rama (Even HaEzer 22:5) states that a woman may enter into privacy with two upright men in a city, but not in a field, and only during the day, but not at night).


For in that instance, she will guard him, as stated in Halachah 4. Nor will the other woman engage in relations in her presence, for it is likely that she will publicize the matter (Kessef Mishneh).


For in this instance as well, there is the possibility that they will engage in relations. The Rama (loc. cit.) gives permission for many [three (Chelkat Mechokek 22:11) women to enter into privacy with one man, provided his profession does not involve contact with women.


In such a situation, it is highly unlikely that the people will engage in relations.


E.g., one who sells clothes or perfumes to women.


Hence the women will be frightened to engage in sexual relations, for they know the matter will become public knowledge.


And this does not apply below the ages mentioned in the halachah.


A person with both male and female sexual organs.


For he has a sexual drive for relations with women (Beit Shmuel 22:16).


A tumtum refers to a person whose genitalia are covered by a block of flesh and it cannot be determined whether he is a male or female. A male is permitted to enter into privacy with these individuals, because he does not have a sexual drive for anyone other than an actual woman (ibid.).


She will fear that at any particular time, her husband will come. Hence she will never commit adultery.


Because this familiarity may cause her to overstep the bounds of modesty even when her husband is in the city.


The later commentaries explain that open windows are also sufficient.


Since it is possible for the two to be seen by passersby, they will not transgress.


This applies even in a situation where there is no question of the teacher entering into privacy with the mothers (Beit Shmuel 22:21).


This refers to an unmarried woman or one whose husband is out of town. Otherwise, there is no prohibition against entering into privacy (Chelkat Mechokek 22:21).


To avoid the prohibition that stems from his being tempted by women.


According to the Maggid Mishneh, this leniency applies even if the teacher's wife is in another city. As long as he is married, there is no prohibition. The Chelkat Mechokek 22:21 and the Beit Shmuel 22:22 differ and conclude that this leniency applies only when the man's wife lives in the same city where he teaches. If she lives in another city, it is forbidden.


The Rama (Even HaEzer 22:13) states that this refers to outhouses in the fields (which was the custom in the Talmudic era), but not to outhouses in the city (which had become the custom in his time). Needless to say, it does not apply in the present age when the lavatories are in the privacy of buildings.


I.e., No matter how upright the person's character, there is the possibility that frequent exposure to women will lead him to undesirable relations.


We fear that if another man was placed in charge of a person's home, he would have frequent contact with the owner's wife and there is the possibility that ultimately the two will commit adultery. As Berachot 63a states: "Had Potiphar not appointed Joseph as the supervisor of his home, that incident (Potiphar's wife attempted seduction of Joseph) would never have occurred."


I.e., people at large will suspect that they are sharing a relationship.

The Ra'avad differs with the Rambam's ruling, explaining that what was forbidden was to dwell with her in the same home. There are no restrictions against dwelling in the same courtyard. According to the Rambam, dwelling in the same home temporarily is permitted as long as one does not enter into privacy with her. The Maggid Mishneh supports the Rambam's interpretation.


I.e., people will gossip that she is intimate with the dog or the servants. In Hilchot Avadim 9:6, the Rambam mentions this restriction only with regard to servants nine years old or above. See the notes to that halachah.


Rashi (Chagigah 11b) interprets this as referring to those matters which are not explicit in the Torah.


The Rambam, based on Chagigah, loc. cit., is explaining why there is a difference between the laws concerning forbidden sexual conduct and those involving other matters.


Sifri, Parshat Bahaaloscha; Shabbat 130b.


Makkot 23b.


Bava Batra 165a.


This term refers to remarks concerning a colleague that are not actually lashon hara, unfavorable gossip, but which border on that type of speech. See Hilchot De'ot, ch. 7, for a more precise discussion of this issue.


See Kiddushin 82b who quotes Rabbi Tarfon and Rabbi Meir as making such statements. It continues, relating that one of his students mocked Rabbi Meir for making such statements. Shortly afterwards, it was discovered that this student committed adultery with his mother-in-law.


Our translation is based on the words of Rama (Even HaEzer 25:1) and Chelkat Mechokek 25:1.


While married, he will have the opportunity for ordinary male-female relationships and will not develop pent up feelings that seek expression in forbidden relations.


Kiddushin 30b.


The Torah. See Eruvin 54b which explains the analogy in detail.

Published and copyright by Moznaim Publications, all rights reserved.
To purchase this book or the entire series, please click here.
The text on this page contains sacred literature. Please do not deface or discard.
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with's copyright policy.
Related Topics