When a person issues a slanderous report concerning a Jewish maiden, and the matter is discovered to be false, he should be punished by lashing, as [Deuteronomy 22:18] states: "And he shall be flogged." The warning [for this negative commandment] is derived from [Leviticus 19:16]: "Do not go about as a slanderer among your people."1

He must also give her father 100 sela'im of pure silver.2 If the girl is an orphan, the money is given to her.3


הַמּוֹצִיא שֵׁם רַע עַל בַּת יִשְׂרָאֵל וְנִמְצָא הַדָּבָר שֶׁקֶר לוֹקֶה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים כב יח) "וְיִסְּרוּ אֹתוֹ". וְאַזְהָרָה שֶׁלּוֹ מִ(ויקרא יט טז) "לֹּא תֵלֵךְ רָכִיל בְּעַמֶּיךָ". וְנוֹתֵן לְאָבִיהָ מִשְׁקַל מֵאָה סְלָעִים כֶּסֶף מְזֻקָּק. וְאִם הָיְתָה יְתוֹמָה הֲרֵי הֵם שֶׁל עַצְמָהּ:


When a person issues a slanderous report on a girl below majority, or on a bogeret, he is not liable for the fine or for lashes. He is not liable unless he issues a slanderous report regarding a na'arah.4 [This is derived from Deuteronomy 22:15]: "[They will] present signs of the maiden's virginity." The word נערה, "maiden" is written in a full form.5


וְהַמּוֹצִיא שֵׁם רַע עַל הַקְּטַנָּה אוֹ עַל הַבּוֹגֶרֶת פָּטוּר מִן הַקְּנָס וּמִן הַמַּלְקוֹת. וְאֵינוֹ חַיָּב עַד שֶׁיּוֹצִיא עַל הַנַּעֲרָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים כב טו) "וְהוֹצִיאוּ אֶת בְּתוּלֵי הַנַּעֲרָה" נַעֲרָה מָלֵא דִּבֵּר הַכָּתוּב:


Cases pertaining to this law may be brought only in the time of the Temple, and in the presence of a court of 23 [judges], because there is the possibility that capital punishment will be involved.6 For if the accusation [brought by the husband] is discovered to be true, the girl must be executed.7

Cases involving rape or seduction, by contrast, are judged at all times in the presence of three [judges], as will be explained in Hilchot Sanhedrin.8


אֵין דָּנִין דִּין זֶה אֶלָּא בִּפְנֵי הַבַּיִת וּבֵית דִּין שֶׁל עֶשְׂרִים וּשְׁלֹשָׁה. מִפְּנֵי שֶׁיֵּשׁ בְּדִין מוֹצִיא שֵׁם רַע דִּינֵי נְפָשׁוֹת. שֶׁאִם נִמְצָא הַדָּבָר כְּמוֹ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר הֲרֵי זוֹ נֶהֱרֶגֶת. אֲבָל הָאוֹנֵס וְהַמְפַתֶּה דָּנִין בָּהֶן בְּכָל זְמַן בִּשְׁלֹשָׁה כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר בְּהִלְכוֹת סַנְהֶדְרִין:


It is one of the Torah's positive commandments for the wife of a man who issued a slanderous report about her to remain married to him forever, as [Deuteronomy 21:19] states: "She must remain his wife."9 This applies even if she is blind or a leper.

If he divorces her, he transgresses a negative commandment, as the verse continues: "He may never send her away as long as he lives."10

[If he divorces her,] we compel him to remarry her, and he is not lashed, as explained with regard to a rapist.11 If, however, another man takes the initiative and consecrates her first,12 she dies, or he is a priest, who is forbidden to marry a divorcee, he should be punished by lashes for divorcing her.


וּמִצְוַת עֲשֵׂה שֶׁל תּוֹרָה שֶׁתֵּשֵׁב אֵשֶׁת מוֹצִיא שֵׁם רַע תַּחְתָּיו לְעוֹלָם שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים כב יט) "וְלוֹ תִהְיֶה לְאִשָּׁה" אֲפִלּוּ עִוֶּרֶת אוֹ מֻכַּת שְׁחִין. וְאִם גֵּרְשָׁהּ עָבַר עַל לֹא תַּעֲשֶׂה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים כב יט) "לֹא יוּכַל לְשַׁלְּחָהּ כָּל יָמָיו". וְכוֹפִין אוֹתוֹ וּמַחֲזִיר וְאֵינוֹ לוֹקֶה כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ בְּאוֹנֵס. וְאִם קִדֵּם אֶחָד וְקִדְּשָׁהּ אוֹ שֶׁמֵּתָה אוֹ שֶׁהָיָה כֹּהֵן שֶׁאָסוּר בִּגְרוּשָׁה הֲרֵי זֶה לוֹקֶה עַל גֵּרוּשֶׁיהָ:


If immodest behavior [on the woman's part is discovered], or it is discovered that she is forbidden to him as a result of a negative commandment, a positive commandment, or even [a Rabbinic commandment, such as the prohibition against] a sh'niyah, he should divorce her with a get.13

Why should the positive commandment [of remaining married to the woman] not supersede the negative commandment [of engaging in relations with an adulterous wife, or any other negative commandment] with regard to this man who issues a slanderous report or a rapist, and thus he should marry [or remain married to] this woman who is forbidden to him? For it is possible that she will not desire to remain married to him, and thus, both the positive and negative commandments will be observed.14


נִמְצָא בָּהּ דְּבַר זִמָּה. אוֹ שֶׁנִּמְצֵאת אֲסוּרָה עָלָיו מֵחַיָּבֵי לָאוִין אוֹ מֵחַיָּבֵי עֲשֵׂה וַאֲפִלּוּ שְׁנִיָּה הֲרֵי זֶה יְגָרְשֶׁנָּה בְּגֵט שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים כב יט) "וְלוֹ תִהְיֶה לְאִשָּׁה" אִשָּׁה הָרְאוּיָה לוֹ. וְלָמָּה לֹא יָבֹא עֲשֵׂה וְיִדְחֶה אֶת לֹא תַּעֲשֶׂה בֵּין בְּמוֹצִיא שֵׁם רַע בֵּין בְּאוֹנֵס וְיִשָּׂא זוֹ הָאֲסוּרָה לוֹ. שֶׁהֲרֵי אֶפְשָׁר שֶׁלֹּא תִּרְצֶה הִיא לֵישֵׁב וְנִמְצָא עֲשֵׂה וְלֹא תַּעֲשֶׂה קַיָּמִין:

Mishneh Torah (Moznaim)

Featuring a modern English translation and a commentary that presents a digest of the centuries of Torah scholarship which have been devoted to the study of the Mishneh Torah by Maimonides.


What is implied by the term "issuing a slanderous report"? That a person should come to court and say: "I engaged in marital relations with this maiden,15 and I discovered that she was not a virgin. I investigated the matter and determined that she committed adultery after I had consecrated her.16 These are the witnesses in whose presence she committed adultery."17

The court then listens to the words of the witnesses and examines their testimony. If the truth of the claim is substantiated, the girl is executed by stoning.18

If the [girl's] father brings witnesses who nullify [the testimony] of the witnesses,19 and it is determined that they testified falsely, [the witnesses] should be executed by stoning,20 [the husband] should be flogged, and he should pay 100 sela'im.21

This is what is meant by [Deuteronomy 22:17]: "This is [evidence of] my daughter's virginity" - i.e., these are the witnesses who nullify [the testimony] of the husband's witnesses.

If the husband brings other witnesses who nullify [the testimony]22 of the father's witnesses, the maiden and the father's witness should be executed by stoning.23 This is what is meant by [Deuteronomy 22:20]: "If the [accusation] is true." According to the Oral Tradition, the passage speaks of witnesses who nullify the testimony of other witnesses, and a third pair who nullify the testimony of the second pair.


כֵּיצַד הוֹצָאַת שֵׁם רַע. הוּא שֶׁיָּבוֹא לְבֵית דִּין וְיֹאמַר נַעֲרָה זוֹ בָּעַלְתִּי וְלֹא מָצָאתִי לָהּ בְּתוּלִים וּכְשֶׁבִּקַּשְׁתִּי עַל הַדָּבָר נוֹדַע לִי שֶׁזִּנְּתָה תַּחְתַּי אַחַר שֶׁאֵרַסְתִּיהָ וְאֵלּוּ הֵם עֵדַי שֶׁזִּנְּתָה בִּפְנֵיהֶם. וּבֵית דִּין שׁוֹמְעִין דִּבְרֵי הָעֵדִים וְחוֹקְרִין עֵדוּתָן. אִם נִמְצָא הַדָּבָר אֱמֶת נִסְקֶלֶת. וְאִם הֵבִיא הָאָב עֵדִים וְהוּזְמוּ הָעֵדִים שֶׁהֵבִיא הַבַּעַל וְנִמְצָא שֶׁהֵעִידוּ שֶׁקֶר יִסָּקְלוּ וְיִלְקֶה הוּא וְנוֹתֵן מֵאָה סְלָעִים. וְעַל זֶה נֶאֱמַר (דברים כב יז) "וְאֵלֶּה בְּתוּלֵי בִתִּי", אֵלּוּ הָעֵדִים שֶׁיָּזִימוּ עֵדֵי הַבַּעַל. חָזַר הַבַּעַל וְהֵבִיא עֵדִים אֲחֵרִים וְהֵזִימוּ עֵדֵי הָאָב הֲרֵי הַנַּעֲרָה וְעֵדֵי אָבִיהָ נִסְקָלִין. עַל זֶה נֶאֱמַר (דברים כב כ) "וְאִם אֱמֶת הָיָה הַדָּבָר הַזֶּה". מִפִּי הַשְּׁמוּעָה לָמְדוּ שֶׁפָּרָשָׁה זוֹ יֵשׁ בָּהּ עֵדִים וְזוֹמְמִין וְזוֹמְמֵי זוֹמְמִין:


When a man issues a slanderous report about his wife after she becomes a bogeret, he is free of liability for the lashes and for the fine, even though his witnesses testify that she committed adultery when she was a na'arah.24

If the accusations are proven true, [the girl] should be executed by stoning, even though she is a bogeret.25 [The rationale is] that she was a na'arah when she committed adultery.


הוֹצִיא עָלֶיהָ שֵׁם רַע וְהִיא בּוֹגֶרֶת אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהֵבִיא עֵדִים שֶׁזִּנְּתָה תַּחְתָּיו כְּשֶׁהָיְתָה נַעֲרָה הֲרֵי זֶה פָּטוּר מִן הַמַּלְקוֹת וּמִן הַקְּנָס. וְאִם נִמְצָא הַדָּבָר אֱמֶת הֲרֵי זוֹ תִּסָּקֵל אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהִיא בּוֹגֶרֶת הוֹאִיל וּבְעֵת שֶׁזִּנְּתָה נַעֲרָה הָיְתָה:


Whenever a na'arah is not entitled to a fine if she was raped or seduced,26 [her husband] is not punished by flogging or by a fine if he issues a slanderous report about her.

In addition, when a non-Jewish girl was converted below the age of three or a maidservant was freed below the age of three,27 [her husband] is not punished by flogging or by a fine if he issues a slanderous report about her. This applies even if a girl was conceived before her mother was converted and born after she was converted. [The rationale is based on Deuteronomy 22:19]: "Because [the husband] defamed the virtue of an Israelite maiden." [Implied is that] she must be conceived and born as an Israelite.


כָּל נַעֲרָה שֶׁאֵין לָהּ קְנָס אִם נֶאֶנְסָה אוֹ נִתְפַּתְּתָה כָּךְ הַמּוֹצִיא עָלֶיהָ שֵׁם רַע פָּטוּר מִן הַמַּלְקוֹת וּמִן הַתַּשְׁלוּמִין. וְכֵן הַכּוּתִית שֶׁנִּתְגַּיְּרָה וְהַשִּׁפְחָה שֶׁנִּשְׁתַּחְרְרָה פְּחוּתָה מִבַּת שָׁלֹשׁ שָׁנִים אֲפִלּוּ הָיְתָה הוֹרָתָהּ שֶׁלֹּא בִּקְדֻשָּׁה וְלֵדָתָהּ בִּקְדֻשָּׁה הַמּוֹצִיא עָלֶיהָ שֵׁם רַע פָּטוּר מִן הַקְּנָס וּמִן הַמַּלְקוֹת שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים כב יט) "כִּי הוֹצִיא שֵׁם רָע עַל בְּתוּלַת יִשְׂרָאֵל" עַד שֶׁתִּהְיֶה הוֹרָתָהּ וְלֵדָתָהּ בִּקְדֻשָּׁה:


A man is not held liable when [his] witnesses are discovered to have lied [in the following situation]. He consecrates a maiden and divorces her, consecrates her again and then issues a slanderous report about her, bringing witnesses who say that she committed adultery during the first time she had been consecrated.28

Similarly, a man is not held liable to be flogged or for a fine when [his] witnesses are discovered to have lied [in the following situation]. He issues a slanderous report about his yevamah, bringing witnesses who say that she committed adultery during the time she had been consecrated to his brother.29

Whenever a man is not liable [to be flogged and fined], he may divorce his wife if he desires to.30


קִדֵּשׁ נַעֲרָה וְגֵרְשָׁהּ וְחָזַר וְקִדְּשָׁהּ וְהוֹצִיא עָלֶיהָ שֵׁם רַע וְהֵבִיא עֵדִים שֶׁזִּנְּתָה תַּחְתָּיו בַּקִּדּוּשִׁין הָרִאשׁוֹנִים וְנִמְצְאוּ זוֹמְמִים הֲרֵי זֶה פָּטוּר. וְכֵן אִם הָיְתָה יְבִמְתּוֹ שֶׁכָּנְסָהּ וְהוֹצִיא עָלֶיהָ שֵׁם רַע וְהֵבִיא עֵדִים שֶׁזִּנְּתָה תַּחַת קִדּוּשֵׁי אָחִיו וְנִמְצְאוּ זוֹמְמִים הֲרֵי זֶה פָּטוּר מִן הַמַּלְקוֹת וּמִן הַתַּשְׁלוּמִין. וְכָל הַפְּטוּר אִם רָצָה לְגָרֵשׁ יְגָרֵשׁ:


A man is not liable [for these penalties] unless he engages in relations with his wife in the ordinary manner and issues a slanderous report about her, saying that she engaged in relations [previously] in the ordinary manner.31

If he engaged in anal intercourse with his wife, and said that he discovered that she was not a virgin,32 he is not liable [for these penalties]. He is, however, given stripes for rebellious conduct.33


אֵינוֹ חַיָּב עַד שֶׁיִּבְעל אוֹתָהּ כְּדַרְכָּהּ וְיוֹצִיא שֵׁם רַע (עַל הַבְּעִילָה) כְּדַרְכָּהּ. בְּעָלָהּ שֶׁלֹּא כְּדַרְכָּהּ וְאָמַר לֹא מְצָאתִיהָ בְּתוּלָה פָּטוּר וּמַכִּין אוֹתוֹ מַכַּת מַרְדּוּת:


Similarly, if he says, "I discovered that she was not a virgin," but does not say that she committed adultery after he had consecrated her,34 or if he claims that she committed adultery but did not bring witnesses, but rather the witnesses came on their own initiative, he is not liable [for these penalties]. Nevertheless, the witnesses are executed if their testimony is nullified.35


וְכֵן אִם אָמַר לֹא מְצָאתִיהָ בְּתוּלָה וְלֹא אָמַר שֶׁזִּנְּתָה תַּחְתַּי אוֹ שֶׁאָמַר זִנְּתָה תַּחְתַּי וְלֹא הֵבִיא עֵדִים אֶלָּא בָּאוּ מֵאֲלֵיהֶם הֲרֵי זֶה פָּטוּר אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהָעֵדִים נֶהֱרָגִים אִם הוּזַמּוּ:


The Torah's statement [Deuteronomy 22:17]: "They will then spread the garment" is a euphemism. The intent is that they debate the private aspects of this matter.36

Similarly, [other expressions in the passage are to be understood non-literally. [For example,] "This is [evidence of] my daughter's virginity" means "these are the witnesses who nullify the testimony of the husband's witnesses."

The death penalty issued "if the [accusation] is true" is issued only when she has committed adultery after being consecrated [and is observed by] witnesses,37 as implied by [Deuteronomy 22:21]: "acting immorally [in] her father's house."38 Before she is consecrated,39 the Torah does not hold her liable at all, and a person who engages in relations with her is liable only for a financial penalty, whether he seduced her or raped her.


זֶה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר בַּתּוֹרָה (דברים כב יז) "וּפָרְשׂוּ הַשִּׂמְלָה" לְשׁוֹן כָּבוֹד שֶׁנּוֹשְׂאִין וְנוֹתְנִין בְּסִתְרֵי הַדָּבָר. וְכֵן זֶה שֶׁיֹּאמַר הָאָב (דברים כב יז) "אֵלֶּה בְּתוּלֵי בִתִּי" הֵן זוֹמְמֵי עֵדֵי הַבַּעַל. וְזֶה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים כב כ) "וְאִם אֱמֶת הָיָה הַדָּבָר" תֵּהָרֵג כְּשֶׁזִּנְּתָה אַחַר הָאֵרוּסִין בְּעֵדִים שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים כב כא) "לִזְנוֹת בֵּית אָבִיהָ". אֲבָל קדֶם הָאֵרוּסִין כְּבָר אָמְרָה תּוֹרָה בָּהּ שֶׁהִיא פְּטוּרָה מִכְּלוּם וּבוֹעֲלָהּ חַיָּב בְּתַשְׁלוּמֵי מָמוֹן בִּלְבַד בֵּין פִּתָּה בֵּין אָנַס: