A missionary has brought up the antisemitic accusation that the Talmud permits sex with three year old girls. He wrote: "I use the Talmud online, not some secret Talmud. Please justify the following if possible: MISHNAH. A GIRL OF THE AGE OF THREE YEARS AND ONE DAY MAY BE BETROTHED BY INTERCOURSE ... GEMARA. Our Rabbis taught: A girl of the age of three years may be betrothed by intercourse; so R. Meir. But the Sages say: Only one who is three years and one day old. What is the practical difference between them? — The school of R Jannai replied: The practical difference between them is the day preceding the first day of the fourth year."
The Talmud is a law book. Law books explain the law and often present cases that epitomize the law, and the Talmud does this, too.
Consider this: the United States has laws about murder and rape. Does this mean that the United States condones, or even endorses, murder and rape?
Ridiculous -- but this is exactly what the antisemites do when they say the Talmud condones sex with children!
The Torah tells us: "If a man encounters a virgin girl who is not betrothed and is caught raping her, then the rapist must give the girl's father 50 [shekels] of silver (the normal dowry price). He must then take the girl he violated as his wife (only if the girl consents (Yad, Naarah Bethulah 1:3), and he may not send her away as long as he lives." D'varim / Deuteronomy 22:28 - 29.
A rabbi on the website Aish wrote: "The demand is to the rapist to protect the daughter, her reputation and her dowry. The rapist is held accountable and is made to be responsible for his actions. Rape of a single woman carries a heavy monetary fine (depending on the age of the victim), plus the rapist has to pay reparation for damages, as well as for her suffering, embarrassment and emotional anguish. The rapist also incurs lashes. This is all intended as both a deterrent and a punishment (D'varim / Deuteronomy 22:28-29, see also Rambam Rotzai'ach 2:4-5).
"As regards to what you read, it is true that the Torah states that the rapist must marry (and may never divorce) his victim (actually only if she is at a certain young age at the time), but both she and her father can refuse the "match" – which they are extremely likely to do. I believe the message of the Torah is not that the rapist can have whom he wants, but quite the opposite. If he wants to enjoy another human being, he cannot just do so and split. He becomes responsible for her – for the rest of his life."
The Talmud discusses what to do if a male child molests a female adult or if a male adult molests a young female child (Ketuvot 11b). Remember that virginity was highly prized in ancient times -- is the raped 3 year old girl now considered a non-virgin for the purposes of a dowry later in her life? The Jewish judges wisely said that she is still considered a virgin for her sake and future. Jewish law does not condone sex with a 3 year old or children, the opposite is true.
The Talmud states (Kiddushin 41a):
האיש מקדש את בתו כשהיא נערה: כשהיא נערה אין כשהיא קטנה לא מסייע ליה לרב דאמר רב יהודה אמר רב ואיתימא רבי אלעזר אסור לאדם שיקדש את בתו כשהיא קטנה עד שתגדל ותאמר בפלוני אני רוצה
Translation: “A man may marry off his daughter when she is a na’ara / נערה / young woman" When she is a na’ara (young woman), yes. When she is a child, no. This supports the teaching of Rav, for Rav Y’huda said in the name of Rav, and there are those who say Rabbi El’azar, “It is forbidden for a man to marry off his daughter when she is a child, until she grows up and says, ‘I want to marry So-and-so.'” (Talmud, Kiddushin 41a).
Further, Niddah 13b says: ת”ר הגרים והמשחקין בתינוקות מעכבין את המשיח… דנסיבי קטנות דלאו בנות אולודי נינהו
Translation: “The Rabbis taught in a b’raita: Converts and those who play with little girls delay the coming of the Messiah… The latter refers to those who marry [and have sexual relations with] girls who are too young to [safely] bear children.”
Molesting a child, whether above or below the age of three, is forbidden as stated clearly in both Kiddushin 41a and Niddah 13b.
Further, the Rambam (Maimonides, 12th century) in Issurei Biah 21:18 writes: “A man should not marry a minor who is not fit to give birth.”
Jewish law strictly forbids not only child molestation but all kinds of non-marital sexual relations are prohibited. The Rambam wrote in Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Ishut 1:4 "a person who has relations with a woman for the sake of lust, without kiddushin (marriage), receives lashes as prescribed by the Torah."
The Talmud strongly opposed formation of the marriage bond by sexual force (at any age) and punished those who acted in such manner (Kiddushin 12b).
Sanhedrin 55b says IF a girl is raped if she is younger than 3 she is still considered a virgin for the sake of later marriage. If she is older then 3 it is considered RAPE and one of the compensations is that her father may demand the perpetrator marry her as well as pay all the criminal penalties.
Remember that the man is not allowed to have sex with a 3 year old we are discussing what happens if someone DOES. The Talmud goes on to say that the father's right to marry off his daughter was to be used for her benefit. The age and manner of marriage is to a large extent a societal variable but at Kiddushin 41a the rabbis taught: "It is forbidden for a man to betroth his daughter while she is young [but rather he should wait] till she has grown and says 'This is the one I want [to marry]" and this teaching is repeated elsewhere in the Talmud.
The Laws of Niddah pertain to family purity (think menstruation or giving birth and once again becoming ritually clean by immersing in a mikvah). This chapter is discussing how old a person (male or female) can be ritually impure.
"This mishnah teaches that in a legal sense, sexual relations with a girl over the age of three counts as sexual relations. I should emphasize that this mishnah in no way condones such an act (which is certainly rape) it just teaches that this counts as an act of intercourse. At the core of this notion is their understanding of the physical consequences of intercourse for the first time namely the breaking of the woman's hymen. As we can see at the end of the mishnah, if a girl has intercourse (i.e. is raped) before the age of three her hymen will repair itself. After the age of three, it will not. This, to the rabbis, means that after the age of three, intercourse "counts" in a legal sense. Before the age of three, it does not. Having taught this mishnah (and others like it) many times, I realize that this is a very sensitive issue. To talk about sex with young girls is very troubling. I certainly don't want people to read this and think that the rabbis thought that it was okay for men to have relations with little girls. As usual, the mishnah uses a clinical, emotionally distant tone. That's just the way the rabbis composed much of the mishnah." Modern commentary from Sefaria on Niddah 5.4.1.
So if a young girl three years old (or older) is raped the rapist may be forced to marry her and take care of her -- IF the father agrees, and the girl (when she is old enough) must also agree. Sex with a young child is not allowed in this situation -- it is a legal requirement on the part of the rapist.
The Talmud is stating that a girl younger than 3 is still considered a virgin for the purposes of a later marriage dowry (dowries were monies paid by a prospective husband to the girl's parents). Dowries for a virgin were higher priced than dowries for a widow or other non-virginal woman... A girl older than 3 who was raped would thus be financially impacted, and this law states that the father can demand that the virginal dowry price be paid...
There is no real Talmud online unless you are reading it in Aramaic. The highly abridged ones online are very poor translations -- and again, highly abridged. |
Arranged marriages with children was very common – particularly among Christians. In July 1543, Mary of Scotland was betrothed to be married to Edward, son of King Henry VIII of England. She was 6 months old.
SIX MONTHS OLD.
It doesn't mean they had sex -- it was an arranged marriage.
Sophiee Saguy has been countering false missionary claims about Judaism and the T'nach (Jewish bible) for nearly twenty years. You may find her on FaceBook and at the Messiah Truth forum.