Are there contemporary apologetics for the Mishnah (Niddah 44b) that a girl of the age of 3 can be married by sexual relations? (It seems difficult to accept that such a thing is even allowed in principle, even if not in practice.)
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It certainly is difficult. Good question.
I think the Mishnah is demonstrating a technicality; that if this were done (with intent and witnesses), various laws of marriage would be binding (and then he would have to take care of her for life); not at all that this was a recommended practice!
A few points that can help a bit here:
I hope that helps somewhat.
An expansion on Shalom's answer taken from a different angle.
There is no need for apologetics those where the facts on the ground in Ancient civilizations. There is a very basic problem with us Judging the Torah as the whole world had theses practices. Today it is Disgusting but the Torah is and was eternal and had to be relevant then too, it is a problem that anthropologist discuss called Ethnocentrism when people judge other cultures based on their own cultural Moral system. The action may be wrong universally now and should be that way, but you have to look at it through a wider historical and cultural lens. Also just because something is an Halacha does not mean it is practiced Ben Sorer uMorah for example.Just some food for thought sorry it sounds so much like a rant.
protected by Isaac Moses May 28 '13 at 4:57
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