Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Was the naara betrothed at the time?

Summary: And, is this required in order to apply the death penalty? Shadal, Ibn Ezra and Karaites, and Chazal, take different approaches as to when this occurs in the timeline, and the certainty of it.

Post: In Ki Teitzei, there is discussion of a new husband and wife, where he lays charges that she was not a virgin. If it be found to be true, then:

21. they shall take the girl out to the entrance of her father's house, and the men of her city shall pelt her with stones, and she shall die, for she did a disgraceful thing in Israel, to commit adultery [in] her father's house. So shall you clear away the evil from among you.כא. וְהוֹצִיאוּ אֶת הַנַּעֲרָ אֶל פֶּתַח בֵּית אָבִיהָ וּסְקָלוּהָ אַנְשֵׁי עִירָהּ בָּאֲבָנִים וָמֵתָה כִּי עָשְׂתָה נְבָלָה בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל לִזְנוֹת בֵּית אָבִיהָ וּבִעַרְתָּ הָרָע מִקִּרְבֶּךָ:

Regarding this girl, who committed the sin of לִזְנוֹת בֵּית אָבִיהָ, does this mean that she was entirely unmarried when she did this? Or was she betrothed, and so staying still in her father's house before nuptials? How do we know, then, when the offense was committed?

The traditional interpretation of this pasuk may be found in the Sifrei.

. נאמר כאן אביה
 ונאמר להלן (ש מ  בא )  אביה מה אביה האמור
 א)  (להלן) זנות עם זיקת הבעל אף אביה האמור
 (כאן) זנות עם זיקת הבעל. ( ס ״ פ ) :

Thus, the husband already had zika, so she was betrothed. And earlier, it speaks of eidim to this effect.

Ibn Ezra has it as more of a doubt:
[כב, כא]
וסקלוה -
 שאחר שארסה שכב איש אותה כי המארס לא ארס אותה רק היא אומרת שהיא בתולה ומעתיקי הדת בארו הדבר באר היטב
"And they stone her. For it is possible that after she was betrothed, a man slept with her. For her betrothed only betrothed her because she said that she was a virgin. {Yahel Or: And therefore, after she was betrothed she slept with someone else. Therefore, she is liable to stoning.} And the transmitters of the law explained the matter quite well. {Karnei Or, citing HaMaamar: And there is no doubt that the received tradition of Chazal is true and correct, {namely} that she is not executed if witnesses do not come forward that she committed adultery while betrothed, for this is not of the righteous law to execute her just because she concealed from him that she was no virgin {at the time of betrothal}, or upon the doubt that perhaps she committed adultery when betrothed {HaMaamar}. And see Em Lamikra who explains well all of this. {Josh: I don't have access to that sefer.}}

I am not sure that Ibn Ezra intends to explicitly reject Chazal here. Rather, he is doing his best to support the narrative of Chazal, that it is a betrothed woman, but on a peshat level. That is, the groom's assumption at betrothal makes the plain text's assumption that לִזְנוֹת בֵּית אָבִיהָ refers to actions in her father's household, but only once she was betrothed. This is then a rejection, both by Ibn Ezra and Chazal, that לִזְנוֹת בֵּית אָבִיהָ refers to her actions before even betrothal. Of course, then comes, via developed rabbinic law or via careful diyuk into the pesukim, other requirements. For instance, no literal spreading out of a stained blanket; also, witnesses. That is fine, and part of halachic derash. Ibn Ezra puts us into Chazal's capable hands for that portion. (He certainly is at odds with the application of sekilah based only on a doubt.)

Ibn Ezra often does not arrive precisely at halacha as paskened in the gemara, but in general tries to combat a Karaitic approach and approximates what we find in halacha, arriving at it by peshat methods. (Not that this seems to be the approach of the Karaites here. Rather, they say like Ibn Ezra, as we shall see.)

HaMaamar has an objection to Ibn Ezra, just as Karnei Or mentioned. See the translation above.

Shadal has another developed peshat, in which it is indeed referring to an unmarried and unbetrothed woman, for otherwise they would say לנאוף instead of לזנות, and furthermore, they should execute the adulterer as well. And further the law is trying to curb a primitive society's instinct to punish her for misleading her husband in this way. Thus, it is reformative in nature. I translate, analyze, and in the end reject this idea, in this other parshablog post.

Here is Aharon ben Eliyahu; and here is Aharon ben Yosef. Both are Karaites, and they present more or less the same as Ibn Ezra suggested. He also discusses a related machlokes Chazal in this. Aharon ben Yosef also says that the execution based on the mere doubt is enough to impose the punishment, such that it is appropriate for the Israelites to exert effort to guard their daughters. And if the virginity is spoiled due to some other incident (mukas etz), they should reveal this information to the groom-to-be.

1 comment:

Rabbi Joshua Maroof said...

See my post on this issue:


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