Monday, February 07, 2005

Under talmudic law, the sexual use of girls over the age of three was permissible?

I just picked up an old book. One of the first books that discussed child sexual abuse.

"I Never Told Anyone" by Ellen Bass and Louise Thornton. Published in 1983.

Is there any truth to what the following two paragraphs are saying?

(page 34)

In biblical times, sex was sanctioned between men and young girls. Under talmudic law, the sexual use of girls over the age of three was permissible, provided the girl's father consented and appropriate moneys were transferred. Sexual intercourse was an acceptable means of establishing betrothal, and the use of both women and girls was regulated by a detailed set of laws reflecting the property status of females. Women and girls were owned, rented, bought, and sold as sexual commodities. As long as these transactions were conducted with proper payment to the males, rabbis and lawmakers approved.

The sexual use of girls under the age of three was not regulated legally, as these children were considered too young to be legal v virgins, and were therefore without monetary value. Sex with girls under the age of three was not subject to any restrictions. As in hunting, it was open season. Boys under the age of nine were also fair game. Though sex between adult men was severely punished, men could -- and did -- use young boys at will.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is this true? or just a myth?

February 08, 2005 2:40 PM  
Blogger yalla said...

I really pray this is not true and something here is off. Being a survivor of childhood abuse and now in the state of agunah for the past 2years and being told by my husband maybe next year if I get a better job I will give you a get I have about had it with the corruption of the Rabbis. This is not the Torah I came to follow, and if it is maybe being an agnostic is a better choice. I just cannot believe HaShem condons this kind of perverted behavior. If I hear one more time things and people were different back then I think I will throw up.

February 08, 2005 3:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember asking a rabbi about this same question several years ago. I wish I could remember his response. I'm definately not quoting him correctly, and hoping someone will be able to help me out.

The rabbi tried to explain to me that rabbis used to buy children's virginity as a way of protecting them if they were aware that the parent (father) was violent. Then the parent would not be able to sexually abuse their child.

I'm sure I'm saying this all wrong, and hope someone can fill in the blanks of what I'm missing.

February 08, 2005 3:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let me continue from above. I forgot to say that this was before child abuse laws were on the books. We are talking about biblical days.

At least the rabbis attempted to do something.

February 08, 2005 3:35 PM  
Blogger Vicki Polin said...

A friend just sent me the following link. I thought this information would be helpful.

I'll cut and past what it says, but some of it is in Hebrew and it won't transfer.


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The Talmud Does Not Permit Sex With A Three Year Old

Written by Gil Student

The Accusation

Yebhamot 11b: "Sexual intercourse with a little girl is permitted if she is three years of age."

The accusation here is quite nefarious. It implies that Judaism permits pedophilia, has no respect for women, and generally advocates loose sexual morals. To those familiar with the Talmud, this claim is patently ridiculous. However, the majority of people — particularly those making this claim — know little to nothing about the Talmud, its contents, or its methodology. On our website The Real Truth About The Talmud, we elaborate on these issues. However, for now, we will focus on the accusation at hand. It is, in fact, easily verified as being incorrect.

The Text

Talmud Ketuvot 11b (The citation mentioned is evidently in error. Talmud Yevamot 11b has no relevant passage)

Rav Yehudah said in the name of Rav: A male child who has relations with a female adult causes her to be like one who was injured with a stick... Rava said: This is what was meant - an adult male who has relations with a female child has not done anything because less than this [three years old] is like sticking a finger into an eyeball.

While those unused to these Talmudic discussions might be taken aback by the use of euphemisms, the discussion here relates to the dowry for virgins and non-virgins. It has nothing to do with what acts are allowed, encouraged, forbidden, or discouraged. It is, indeed, ironic that this passage has been manipulated from its original context of a financial discussion into one of a religious discussion. While there are numerous talmudic passages of a religious nature, this one discusses dowries and not forbidden and permitted relations!

The Talmud relates that a virgin is entitled a higher dowry. While the tell-tale sign of virginity is the release of blood due to the breaking of the hymen on the wedding night, there are occasions when the hymen has already been broken such as when the woman suffered an injury. The Talmud here quotes Rav Yehuda in the name of Rav that a sexual act with a male minor is not considered to be a loss of virginity because one of the participants is not fully active. While the female's hymen may have been broken, she has not engaged in what can be classified as a sexual act (although it is certainly child abuse).

The Talmud continues and quotes Rava as saying that a sexual act between a male adult and a female under the age of three is also not considered a loss of virginity (although it is child abuse). Since the girl is too young for her hymen to be broken, she is still considered a virgin.

Nowhere is the Talmud permitting such behavior. Sex outside of a marriage is strictly forbidden (Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Ishut 1:4, Hilchot Na'arah Betulah 2:17; Shulchan Aruch, Even HaEzer 26:1, 177:5) as is this obvious case of child abuse. The Talmud is only discussing ex post facto what would happen if such a case arose.

That non-marital sexual relations is prohibited is stated explicitly by Maimonides in the following passage from his ground-breaking legal code Mishneh Torah:

Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Ishut 1:4

Whoever has licentious relations with a woman without marriage bonds is lashed by biblical mandate.

The claim that the Talmud, or normative Judaism, permits sexual relations with a minor is almost entirely incorrect. The slight truth in it is that, in certain societies in history, people were sometimes married as young as ten. While this was most recently done in Czarist Russia in order to avoid being drafted into the Czar's army (which was made especially difficult for Jews), it is not currently done. However, even in that case, marriage is required before having sexual relations. Judaism as a religion prohibits sexual relations, indeed even minor touching such as holding hands, outside of marriage.

It is certainly true that there are individual Jews who do not follow the teaching of the Talmud. That is their personal choice, just like many Catholics choose to use birth control and have premarital relations despite their religion's teaching against it. This does not mean that Catholicism permits premarital relations and it does not mean that Judaism (and the Talmud) does either. The personal choices of people whether to follow completely their religion does not reflect on what their religion teaches. Similarly, the fact that certain Muslims drink alcohol and frequent prostitutes does not mean that their religion permits it. It means that these individuals choose to defy their religion.

We leave it to others to deduce why some people would make baseless accusations against the Talmud and, by implication, Judaism and Jews.

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Copyright 2000 Gil Student

February 08, 2005 3:41 PM  
Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

I'm not going to address this in huge detail. I'm sure others will and will do so, and do so better.

All of Judaism can be summarized in two words "kdoshim t'hiu" (be holy). The behavior described in this post is well outside this. Many of the behaviors desribed are clearly punishable offenses.

1) Sexual relations are not allowed outside marriage.
2) Sexual relations with children are forbidden.
3) As far as I know, the g'dolei ha'dor have forbidden child betrothals.

Before Judaism and the Torah, women and girls were owned, rented, bought, and sold as sexual commodities. They had no rights and no protections. A husband could get treat his wife as he pleased and he could get rid of his wife as well any way he pleased (gift, sale, murder etc.).

The Torah changed all of that.

Marriage laws protect women and give them rights.
Divorce laws protect women.
The Torah gave women property rights.

The list goes on and on.

Yes it's true that in this day and age some of these protections have been used abusively (ie: men who refuse to give gets). But the problem is a society which tolerates such abuses and abusers.

February 08, 2005 5:15 PM  

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