Friday, September 03, 2004

Ki Teitzei #3:

I previously wrote about the case of motzi shem ra, where a man falsely accuses his wife of having committed adultery while she was betrothed and not yet in his house. The father and mother of the damsel bring proof on her behalf to the court:
Devarim 22:15:
וְלָקַח אֲבִי הַנַּעֲרָ, וְאִמָּהּ; וְהוֹצִיאוּ אֶת-בְּתוּלֵי הַנַּעֲרָ, אֶל-זִקְנֵי הָעִיר--הַשָּׁעְרָה.
"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."
While both mother and father come to court to defend her, the next verses only describes her father as presenting his claim in court:

Devarim 22:16-17:
וְאָמַר אֲבִי הַנַּעֲרָ, אֶל-הַזְּקֵנִים: אֶת-בִּתִּי, נָתַתִּי לָאִישׁ הַזֶּה לְאִשָּׁה--וַיִּשְׂנָאֶהָ
וְהִנֵּה-הוּא שָׂם עֲלִילֹת דְּבָרִים לֵאמֹר, לֹא-מָצָאתִי לְבִתְּךָ בְּתוּלִים, וְאֵלֶּה, בְּתוּלֵי בִתִּי; וּפָרְשׂוּ הַשִּׂמְלָה, לִפְנֵי, זִקְנֵי הָעִיר.
"And the damsel's father shall say unto the elders: 'I gave my daughter unto this man to wife, and he hateth her;
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."
If we look carefully, we see both father and mother come to the court, and both father and mother present evidence to the court. (That is, note the plural in וּפָרְשׂוּ הַשִּׂמְלָה, "and they shall spread the garment," the literal or else figurative spreading of the blood-stained sheets to show clearly that the damsel is innocent.) However only the "father of the damsel" speaks to the elders of the city. Why is this?

The sifrei on Ki Teitzei writes:
ואמר אבי הנערה אל הזקנים מכאן שאין רשות לאשה לדבר במקום האיש:
"And the father of the damsel says to elders" - from here that there is no saction for a woman to talk in place of the man.

To be continued... This is an important post.


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