The mishna in Sotah 3:8 says, in a list of differences in halacha between men and women:

A man is sold for his theft [i.e., to repay it], a woman is not sold for her theft. (Sefaria translation)

The clarification that the sale is for repayment comes from the g'mara, which doesn't elaborate further. A thief is required to compensate the victim; a man who cannot do so is sold but a woman can't be sold -- so how is the victim of a female thief compensated?

Does the obligation to pay damages fall on her husband (if married) or father (if not)? That would only work if she isn't a widow, divorced, or an orphan. How does the victim of a poor female thief get compensated -- or doesn't he?

  • 1
    FWIW, Tosfos to the Gemara (Sotah 23b) infer, based on the fact that there’s another related exposition in Kiddushin 14b, that we don’t sell the woman’s father (where she’s younger than 12.5).
    – DonielF
    Apr 12, 2019 at 2:55
  • 1. "Does the obligation" - there's no obligation to be sold, also no obligation to buy one - it is too cumbersome (see my questions) and isn't worth it over a regular worker, it's the last option and it requires a lot of conditions. 2. If neither the husband nor the father ever pay for damages or other debts by a woman, what makes you think that stealing is so different?
    – Al Berko
    Apr 12, 2019 at 9:04
  • No. There is no alternative.
    – kouty
    Apr 12, 2019 at 12:54
  • @AlBerko I meant the obligation to pay damages. Being sold is (for men) a way to achieve that, but not the obligation I'm talking about. And I don't know that husbands/fathers never pay for debts incurred by a woman; if that's the case it sounds like the basis of an answer. Apr 12, 2019 at 14:06

1 Answer 1


It would seem from the Rambam (Hil. Geneivah 3:12) that she bears the debt until she can afford to pay it off:

הָאִישׁ נִמְכָּר בִּגְנֵבָתוֹ אֲבָל לֹא הָאִשָּׁה. וְדָבָר זֶה מִפִּי הַקַּבָּלָה. וְאֵין הַגַּנָּב נִמְכָּר אֶלָּא בְּקֶרֶן אֲבָל בְּכֶפֶל אוֹ בְּתַשְׁלוּמֵי אַרְבָּעָה וַחֲמִשָּׁה אֵינוֹ נִמְכָּר אֶלָּא הֲרֵי זֶה עָלָיו חוֹב עַד שֶׁיַּעֲשִׁיר:

A man is sold for his theft, but not a woman; this matter is [known] by tradition. A thief is only sold for the principal; for the double or four- and five-times payment he is not sold, but rather the debt is upon him until he gains wealth.

Similarly, it would seem, a woman bears the debt until she can pay it off.

Keep in mind that the Rambam is of the opinion that a minor is exempt from theft, even on the principal (if he no longer has it), and even after he grows up (Hil. Geneivah 1:8). So if she is under 12(.5?) she doesn’t have a debt to pay back at all (see your Rabbi before trying this at home - some argue on the Rambam).

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