I'm trying to understand the Biblical concept of "Mefateh" (a "seducer"):

  1. The Torah says (Shemot 22,15) without elaborating:

    וְכִי־יְפַתֶּה אִישׁ בְּתוּלָה אֲשֶׁר לֹא־אֹרָשָׂה וְשָׁכַב עִמָּהּ מָהֹר יִמְהָרֶנָּה לּוֹ לְאִשָּׁה׃

    If a man seduces a virgin for whom the bride-price has not been paid, and lies with her, he must make her his wife by payment of a bride-price.

  2. The Halochos (see Shu"A EH"E 177) go straight to the punishment without explaining the process,

    המפתה בתולת ישראל משלם וכו':

    One who seduces a virgin of Israel pays ...

What set of actions and conditions constitutes the Biblical Mefateh? What role the seduction part plays in it? And how it is different from regular consensual relations between unmarried grown-ups?

What must a man say and do, should there be witnesses for Pituy, what's the woman's role, what do they all claim in the court?

  • 2
    Who says it's different?
    – robev
    Commented May 26, 2019 at 17:20

2 Answers 2


The Talmud Yerushalmi Sotah Halacha 4,4 defines that consensual Relations means if she wanted it at the begining even if she was passive and the man siezed her (even if by the end she changed her mind and didn't want it).

ויש לך תפוסה בישראל והיא אסורה ואי זו זו זו שתחילתה ברצון וסופה באונס ויש לך שאינה תפוסה בישראל והיא מותרת ואי זו זו זו שתחילת' באונס וסופה ברצון. כהדא איתתא אתת לגביה רבי יוחנן אמרה ליה נאנסתי

In the case of an eishes Ish consent with another man means she would be forbidden to her husband,
An unmaried naara Besula girl would be mefutah and not anusa for which there are repurcussion with regards to whether he pays tzaar-pain inflicted Rambam Naara Besula 3,2

נמצא המפתה משלם שלשה דברים קנס ובושת ופגם. והאונס ארבעה קנס ובושת וצער ופגם:
A seducer pays 50 SHekel, embarrasment, and reduction in value due to loss of virginity. Rapist also pays pain inflicted.

There are also repurcussions if she no longer in the jurisdiction of her father whether she gets anything at all (i.e she is no longer classified as a Mefateh, but still classified as oneis depending which aplies) Mishne Lemelech Naaro Besula 2,14:

ואם אין לה אב הרי הן של עצמה. פי' דוקא באונס אבל מפותה אין הלה כלום שכבר מחל
If she does not have a father (or is mature Bogeres ibid 3,10) she keeps the money only if she was raped but not if she was seduced as she forgave him from paying by consenting.

She is only Chayav Knas when there are Eidim (witnesses) for a Naara/Ketana Besulah but she gets Boshes and Pegam even with admission of Husband and even if she is a Bogeres see Rambam Naara 2,12

  • Congratulations and +1 for one of the rare זו זו זו on sefaria’s search
    – Dr. Shmuel
    Commented May 26, 2019 at 20:35
  • @drshmuel thanks! also see he.wikisource.org/w/… three zus
    – user15464
    Commented May 26, 2019 at 20:50
  • Thank you, but I don't get what you're saying - what part in your answer defines Mefateh? The 2nd and the 3rd quotes have seemingly nothing to do, it just defines the payment. Please try to elaborate how Mefateh is done - are there witnesses, what should one say etc.
    – Al Berko
    Commented May 26, 2019 at 21:41
  • @AlBerko i'llassume you understand the first paragraph means she needs no action to be considerred Mefate its purely what she is thinking if she wants it or not. The 2nd paragraph just saying that if she wouldn't want the relations she would be entitled to more than than just mefateh i.e tzaar. i am just defininig what is mefate and what is oneis. 3rd paragraph is saying consent of a woman who is grown up is no longer mefateh as she is responsible
    – user15464
    Commented May 26, 2019 at 21:45
  • @AlBerko ive elaborated about whether witnesses are needed in my edit
    – user15464
    Commented May 26, 2019 at 21:59

I need to apply some formal logic to what the Torah says "If a man seduces a virgin ... and lies with her, he must make her his wife by payment of a bride-price", in order to interpret Rambam's Hilchot Naarah Betulah:

The logic says: "If a then b, so if not b than surely not a", therefore if Lehalachah the fine is not applied, it's not the case of Mefateh. (Though we know that this is not how the Torah works, but still).

  1. Mefateh only applies for relations with a girl 3 to 12.5 years old (ibid 8): "וּמֵאֵימָתַי יִהְיֶה לַבַּת קְנָס? מֵאַחַר שָׁלשׁ שָׁנִים גְּמוּרוֹת עַד שֶׁתִּבְגֹּר." In other words, when the girl is still considered her father's property (before 3 it is not ביאה at all!). Any relations with older girls have nothing to do with Mefateh.

  2. The relations with her must be in ordinary fashion (כדרכה) only (ibid). No other ways make the case "Mefateh" (but simply damages).

  3. The relations must have witnesses present and testifying. One who willingly admits the deed is exempt from a fine and therefore not a Mefateh.

  4. The girl must not be a convert, a girl who was taken captive, or a freed maidservant after the age of 3 yo (ibid 10).

  5. "Seduction is an encounter she desired. Rape is when he has relations with her against her will... Any woman [girl] who has relations in the city is presumed to have been seduced since she did not cry out in distress unless witnesses testify that she was raped..." (ibid 2). In other words, any relations with a girl in town are considered Mefateh as if desired by the girl, there's no seduction part in Mefateh at all.

  6. "The fine of 50 silver pieces represents merely the payment for the pleasure of sexual relations." (ibid 2.1), which, being monetary compensation just as the case of a goring bull, is paid to her father as the rights owner.

  7. Rambam mentions no testimony from the girl whatsoever. Only if there's an argument whether it was a rape or Pituy, the rapist has to swear to exempt himself from paying the Tzaar, as in all cases of נשבע ונפטר (ibid 2.13).

  • Not everyone agrees it has to be כדרכה, as it's an explicit gemarra in Kiddushin
    – robev
    Commented May 27, 2019 at 13:10
  • 2
    Modeh BeKenas doesn't make it not a Mefatteh. Same with no witnesses. They just affect whether Beit Din can or should enforce the fine.
    – Double AA
    Commented May 27, 2019 at 13:41

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