[b-hebrew] virginity

Yigal Levin leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il
Thu Jul 19 01:19:46 EDT 2007


Dear Shoshanna,

The long halakhic explanation that you gave is just what you wrote it is:
the rabbinic understanding of the passage, within the context of rabbinic
halakhah. Basically, it's the rabbis' way of minimizing what they realized
is a problematic law; they were aware of the fact that there was no law
against an unmarried (and unbetrothed) woman having sex, so they interpreted
this passage as really only refering to an arusah (betrothed woman). But the
distinction does not really appear in the text. If you wish to believe that
rabbinic interpretation is based on the Oral Torah, given to Moses but of
which we have no evidence until the rabbis wrote it down, that's fine, but
please remember that that's a matter of faith, which is NOT what this list
is supposed to be about.

Yigal Levin


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Yigal Levin" <leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il>
To: "Shoshanna Walker" <rosewalk at concentric.net>
Sent: Thursday, July 19, 2007 6:38 AM
Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] virginity


> Dear Shoshanna,
>
> The long halakhic explanation that you gave is just what you wrote it is: 
> the rabbinic understanding of the passage, within the context of rabbinic 
> halakhah. Basically, it's the rabbis' way of minimizing what they realized 
> is a problematic law; they were aware of the fact that there was no law 
> against an unmarried (and unbetrothed) woman having sex, so they 
> interpreted this passage as really only refering to an arusah (betrothed 
> woman). But the distinction does not really appear in the text. If you 
> wish to believe that rabbinic interpretation is based on the Oral Torah, 
> given to Moses but of which we have no evidence until the rabbis wrote it 
> down, that's fine, but please remember that that's a matter of faith, 
> which is NOT what this list is supposed to be about.
>
> Yigal Levin
>
> ----- Original Message ----- 
> From: "Shoshanna Walker" <rosewalk at concentric.net>
> To: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
> Sent: Thursday, July 19, 2007 2:58 AM
> Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] virginity
>
>
>>
>> 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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>>
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