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A fairly accurate, but incomplete INDEX of Posts & good overview of this blog READ SOME REASONS TO REJECT ORTHODOX JUDAISM my April 2014 post or click link above. Highlighted words lead to other posts almost all in my blog. Born into an Orthodox Jewish family (1950's) and went to Orthodox Yeshiva from kindergarten thru High School plus some Beis Medrash.Became an agnostic in my 20's and an atheist later on. My blog will discuss the arguments for god and Orthodox Judaism and will provide counter arguments. I no longer take comments. My blog uses academic sources, the Torah, Talmud and commentators to justify my assertions. The posts get updated. INDEX OF POSTS SEE MAY 2017 or click link above.

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Bible, The Husband, and The Virgin

Updated 2/10/2014

Deuteronomy22:13 If any man take a wife, and go in unto her, and hate her, 14 and lay wanton charges against her, and bring up an evil name upon her, and say: 'I took this woman, and when I came nigh to her, I found not in her the tokens of virginity'; 15 then shall the father of the damsel, and her mother, take and bring forth the tokens of the damsel's virginity unto the elders of the city in the gate. 16 And the damsel's father shall say unto the elders: 'I gave my daughter unto this man to wife, and he hateth her; 17 and, lo, he hath laid wanton charges, saying: I found not in thy daughter the tokens of virginity; and yet these are the tokens of my daughter's virginity.' And they shall spread the garment before the elders of the city. 18 And the elders of that city shall take the man and chastise him. 19 And they shall fine him a hundred shekels of silver, and give them unto the father of the damsel, because he hath brought up an evil name upon a virgin of Israel; and she shall be his wife; he may not put her away all his days. {S} 20 But if this thing be true, that the tokens of virginity were not found in the damsel; 21 then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father's house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die; because she hath wrought a wanton deed in Israel, to play the harlot in her father's house; so shalt thou put away the evil from the midst of thee.

The Torah commentator Rashi explains - 'and they shall spread the garment' -  This is a figurative expression, meaning: they shall clarify the matter as [“clear”] as a [new] garment, [Sifrei 22:92, Kethubah 46a]


The Torah commentator  Ramban (Nachmanides - Deuteronomy - Translated by Rabbi Chavel 1974-1976  page 274) says Rashi is wrong. It means literally examine the cloth as it was a custom in former times in Israel. He cites Kethuboth 10a - bring me the sudar (cloth) and Kethubah 46a.

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From Kethuboth 10a "Some one came before Rabban Gamaliel the 
son of Rabbi [and] said to him, 'My master, I 
have had intercourse [with my newly-wedded 
wife] and I have not found any blood.' She 
[the wife] said to him, 'My master, I was a 
virgin.' He said to them: Bring me that 
cloth. They brought him the cloth, and he 
soaked it in water and he washed it and he 
found on it a good many drops of blood. 
[Thereupon] he [Rabban Gamaliel] said to 
him [the husband]: Go, be happy with thy 
bargain."


From Kethuboth 46a "..according to the Rabbis what [could be the 
sense of the instruction,] And they shall 
spread the garment? — R. Abbahu replied: 
They explain [the charge] which he 
submitted against her; as it was taught: 
'And they shall spread the garment' teaches 
that the witnesses of the one party and those 
of the other party come, and the matter is 
made as clear as a new garment. R. Eliezer b. 
Jacob said: The words are to be taken in 
their literal sense: [They must produce] the 
actual garment."

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So some Rabbis took the Torah text more literally, others less so. It seems clear that by the time of the Talmud codification the so called ‘unbroken’ oral tradition  was ‘broken’, (and not just for this issue.)

Friedman -  the garment of the wedding night or the cloth under the couple as virginity evidence.

JPS-JT - bedding garment or bridal garment.

Sex and the Bible 1983 by Gerald Larue page 66. "The writers of the bible lay great emphasis upon the importance of virginity in women, no such emphasis is laid on virginity in males". "So important was the unbroken hymen the parents of the bride saved the blood stained sheets from the daughters wedding night as proof of her nuptial virginity". 

JPS page 416 - "There was little conception of the women as a free agent, either in legal or sexual terms."  So it was in the Ancient Near East and the Torah.  An examination of the cloth which the husband and wife consummated the relationship. "There is scant medical support for the underlying assumptions: that intercourse would cause the first perforation of the hymen and that such perforation would cause bleeding upon the bedding, which is here held up in public display as legal evidence". 

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What if a women marries a man and the man is adulterous with an unmarried women, is he punished  ? No. see my post on Suspected Adultery   

What if a women marries a man and the man is not a virgin, is he punished  ? No. See Larue for example. 

There are instances in the Talmud where the Rabbis note that there are causes (for example famine and others)  for non virginity other than sex. 

Sources

JPS - Jewish Study Bible 2004 Berlin and Brettler

JPS-JT The Jewish Publication Society Torah Commentary Jeffrey H. Tigay 1996

Friedman - Commentary on the Torah with a New English Translation 2001 by Richard E, Friedman






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