[b-hebrew] virginity

Shoshanna Walker rosewalk at concentric.net
Wed Jul 18 19:58:21 EDT 2007


Dear Harold, you are oversimplifying things, and you are inserting 
your own ideas about morality into the Torah, which is talking about 
something completely different.

It is not a moral passage, it is a halachic and LEGAL passage, and in 
order to understand it - you have to know Halacha, ie; ORAL TORAH.

There are two stages in Jewish marriage - Kiddushin and Nesuin. 
Kiddushin is effected when the groom gives his bride a ring or 
something else of value, and makes a declaration that, nowadays is 
recited under the chuppa.  It is a legal transaction, but there is 
not a good English translation, so it is sometimes called "betrothal" 
but betrothal does not indicate properly that Kiddushin establishes a 
stronger and more legal obligation than an "engagement".  After 
Kiddushin, the couple is halachically married, and the bride is 
subject to the death penalty for adultery - even BEFORE Nesuin, after 
which the couple may cohabit.

In this passage, the husband accuses his new wife of not being a 
virgin - ie; that SHE HAD COHABITED WITH ANOTHER MAN AFTER KIDDUSHIN.

If adultery CANNOT be proven, EVEN IF IT WERE TRUE THAT SHE WAS NOT A 
VIRGIN AT THE TIME OF KIDDUSHIN, she is not subject to any punishment 
by the court, BECAUSE SHE WAS PERMITTED TO COHABIT WITH A MAN BEFORE 
KIDDUSHIN, ie; when she was NOT legally married to anyone.

Even so, however, she would not be entitled to collect the divorce 
settlement stipulated in her marriage document, because she falsely 
misrepresented herself.

THE SUBJECT OF THIS PASSAGE IS A HUSBAND WHO COMES TO HATE HIS NEW 
WIFE AND TRIES TO VOID THE KETUBA BY WANTONLY ACCUSING HER OF 
ADULTERY (and thereby he violates the prohibition of "Motzei Shem Ra" 
- defamation)

Deut 22:  23-24  and 28-29 - "meOrasha" "Orasha" ("BETROTHED") - same 
issue as above.  Proof that this is not talking about a "virgin" is 
that the text says "Betula meOrasha" - a maiden (assumed to be a 
virgin) who is BETROTHED - ie; LEGALLY BOUND TO A MAN (ie; not just a 
simple "virgin")

Verse 21 is proof that this is talking about a woman who is accused 
of adultery - "Asta Nevala" - (committed adultery) and not the modern 
morality of a woman who is not a virgin - remember a woman was 
ALLOWED to be concubines, ie; living with a man and not married to 
him - and there is no stigma or legal punishment against her - as I 
said, a woman is only liable for one of the forbidden sexual 
relationships outlined by the Torah, and single unmarried woman 
having sexual relationship with a man not her father, brother, or a 
woman, or an animal, is fine.

In verses 28 - 29, the man who has cohabited with a BETROTHED woman 
has to marry her, because SHE WOULD THEN NO LONGER (after sex with 
another man) BE ALLOWED TO COHABIT WITH HER HUSBAND, IE; THE MAN SHE 
WAS BETROTHED TO.

Lev. 21:14  is an ENTIRELY different matter - it is about the special 
rules for a Kohen, who has to maintain a higher degree of purity, 
therefore he cannot marry any woman who had been married to, ie; had 
sexual relations, with anyone else.

Shoshanna



HH: It is a moral issue in the passage that we
have been discussing,
Deut 22:13-21. This is the main passage on the
subject. It is talking
about a moral issue, that of sexual purity. The
idea is that men wanted
pure wives, not women that other men had possessed
sexually. Virginity
is also a moral issue in other biblical laws: Deut
22:23-24, Deut
22:28-29. There is an implied moral element in Lev
21:14. The issue of
virginity probably lies behind the words in Song
of Solomon 8:8-10. One
of the Shulamite's attractions for Solomon was the
purity of her virginity.

Yours,
Harold Holmyard


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