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In msh210's answer to this question of mine, he stated that:

women...who physically could be [intimate with men], which is those who had reached their third birthday.

In comments, he mentioned that:

age three is the age at which a girl is halachically considered to be physically able to have intercourse.

Could you explain why and where this comes from? Keep in mind I am not Jewish, so if it specific to some non-OT writings, please explain those as well.

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1  
related (dupe?): judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/4751/…? –  jake Apr 5 '13 at 17:22
    
My bad. I didn't search, since I was told to ask about it in a comment, so I assumed it hadn't been asked before. The linked answer sufficed. Go ahead and close as duplicate –  SSumner Apr 5 '13 at 17:25
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@jake, SSumner, yeah, I didn't search, either. Anyway, the other question asks for apologetics ("how can this possibly be? give me an excuse") where this one asks for a reason/source ("why is this? give me a reason"), so I'm not sure it's a duplicate as worded. Nor do the answers there address the question here. –  msh210 Apr 5 '13 at 17:42

2 Answers 2

up vote 7 down vote accepted

OK.

The reason is that according to halacha a hymen will regrow if ruptured before the age of three.1 For this reason, it is considered as if no sexual act has occurred as far as the girl's halachic status is concerned, to the extent that her status as a virgin has not changed. Hence, she (for example) is entitled to a minimum kesuba of 200 zuz, just as any other virgin is.2

There are people who like to use misunderstandings, misinterpretations, and even misrepresentations of these and related laws as a means to vilify Jews and Judaism. I'm not going to address that here, though there are rebuttals available.


1: This is mentioned throughout the Talmud, see for example Niddah 45a

2: Rambam Hilchos Ishus 11:3

h/t DoubleAA for corrections.

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Ah, that makes sense. Thanks! –  SSumner Apr 7 '13 at 18:00

The age at which a male is considered physically capable of intercourse is 9. That roughly corresponds with the onset of significant sexual desire and physical arousal. I cannot think of any comparable milestone in female development that occurs at age 3, nor am I aware of any sources discussing the topic.

My best guess is that since we do not remember events which happened to us before about age 3, an event in which you were passive and which you cannot remember is not considered to be significant to you.

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