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Why does the Torah treat forbidden relationships, even when consensual, more seriously, from our perspective, than it treats rape?

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I think arayos is an aveirah bain adam lamakom while rape is bain adam lachaveiroh. Almost all misos Bais din and kares are bain Adam lamakom which indicate that they are more severe in general. – Yoni May 14 '14 at 0:19
@Yoni bain adam lachaveraso – Double AA May 14 '14 at 0:21
I think the effect on the perpetrator is worse with bein adam lamakom, even if the effect on the world may be worse with bein adam lachaver(as)o. That is, the punishment for forbidden relationships is worse because the act itself is worse, not that the effect necessarily is. – Ypnypn May 14 '14 at 1:29
@Ypnypn I would have thought the opposite. מה הוא רחום אף אתה רחום. Hurting a human is hurting a human as well as "hurting" God. – Double AA May 14 '14 at 1:42
@DoubleAA True; that's why it's worse (according to my theory) from the victim's point of view. But from the perpetrator's perspective, it doesn't corrupt him as much as bein adam lamakom. – Ypnypn May 14 '14 at 1:51

3 Answers 3

Although all mitzvos are commandments from Hashem whose ultimate rationales are not known to us, Rambam writes (Hilchos Temurah 4:13) that we may nevertheless speculate on the reasons of the mitzvos.

Perhaps the act of sin that is between man and G-d (e.g. gilui arayos) is intrinsically sinful and the consensual aspect does not mitigate its severity. However, the act of a sin that is interpersonal (e.g. rape) is not intrinsically sinful. It is, instead, extrinsically sinful -- for if there was consent it would not be sinful at all; it is only due to the lack of consent that the impact of the act is sinful.

A similar concept is that claims or mitzvos that may be waived are not treated with the same severity and weight as those that may not be waived (איתיהב למחילה or ניתן למחילה)

(Kiddushin 19b בדבר שבממון, Tosfos Shvuos 30b sv Aval (end), Turei Even, Megillah Chapter 4 s.v. ve'ha'amar and more)

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If it is about intrinsics v.extrinsics, why is it that by arayos, who the other person is, an intrinsic element of the act, yet by rape, what the other person wants is extrinsic? In both, these are factors that are external to the person doing the sin, they are both contextual factors. – Yahu May 27 '14 at 23:09
@Yahu a factor which can be waived is extrinsic since it is not the cheftza I.e. the item or person which is forbidden but rather the circumstances under which the act happened to be performed. – Yoni May 27 '14 at 23:23

first of all, rape is in some ways more stringent. in that one is allowed to kill a rapist even without a beis din (he has the status of a rodef in some cases). so the premise here is not correct.

furthermore, rape can be rectified. Deut. 22:29 "he shall pay her father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the young woman, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives"

whereas an erva makes mamzerim or forbids a wife to her husband, etc. , i.e. destroys a society if left to go rampant.

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Interesting idea, but I don't think so. First of all the rapist doesn't even get lashes, as opposed to the more serious issurei lavin which (according to the Chachamim, how we pasken) wouldn't result in a mamzer. Also, this just begs the question - why is the child born of adultery a mamzer but not the child born of rape? – Matt May 14 '14 at 7:31
@Matt he doesn't get lashes because it can be rectified just like all isurei lavin that can be rectified. also, i disagree that it's not a big punishment. since maybe the guy will pay worse than death by living his life with a woman he may hate bitterly as was the case of amnon. – ray May 14 '14 at 7:44
then that's conceptually nice: just as your reason depends on the act's rectify-ability, the technical halakhic exemption from lashes is that 'eino lokeh umeshalem'. I still think it begs the question, but +1 for the comment. (I also thought Amnon was an anomaly but I'm certainly no expert) – Matt May 14 '14 at 8:55
@Matt a child born of rape is still not a mamzer because had it been done consensually, the act would have been "permissible" (that is he could have and still can marry her). A child born of arayos can never be "permissible" under any circumstances. – sabbahillel May 14 '14 at 12:44
This does not answer the question. It just relegates it to another level: Why should erva not be rectifiable yet rape can be? – Yahu May 27 '14 at 23:12

In the society of those days, rape or seduction would usually happen only if the woman was somewhere outside of her house. Rashi in Devarim 22:23 says, "A man finds her in the city - if she had stayed at home, this wouldn't have happened." And in the city we assume it's seduction unless she cries out (Rambam, Hilchos Naara Besula 1:2), and it would be even rarer for her to be in the field, where we assume it's rape. (Also consider how Amnon was able to rape Tamar only by tricking her into coming to his house.)

So rape of non-relatives must have been rare (since most women stayed home) and sort of made possible by her being out and about. But relatives are at home with you, so arayos with them could have been more common, and not something they could have done anything to prevent - Ramban to Vayikra 20:17 says that's why the Torah uses the word "kicha" about them, and why it has to add with a sister "and she sees his erva", because it could happen without her even knowing about it.

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So if it's a relative it is not as horrendous of a crime?! How does that follow? – Yahu May 14 at 8:10
@Yahu: just the opposite. For relatives the punishment is stricter. – Shamiach May 14 at 13:14
let me get this straight: You are maintaining that consensual relations with an erva relative does not get such strict treatment? – Yahu Jun 22 at 19:50
@Yahu where did I say that? I'm suggesting that arayos get stricter treatment because the erva isn't able to do much to prevent them, but once that standard is established the same is true even if it's consensual. – Shamiach Jun 24 at 3:24

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