I'm an Italian Noahide.

The topic in question manifests my purely intellectual interest, concerning the Jews and not the Gentiles.

We read in Talmud Bavli-Sanhredrin 76a (English translation from “The William Davidson Talmud”):

Rabbi Ya’akov, brother of Rav Aḥa bar Ya’akov (…):Is taught in a baraita: With regard to the verse (Leviticus 19:29): “Do not profane your daughter by causing her to act licentiously(lehaznotah),” one might have thought that it is with regard to a priest who marries his daughter to a Levite or Israelite that the verse is speaking, since marrying an Israelite disqualifies her from partaking of teruma. To counter this, the verse states “by causing her to act licentiously,”indicating that it is with regard to profaning that involves licentiousness that the verse is speaking. The reference is to one who gives his daughter to a man for the purpose of intercourse that is not for the sake of marriage.”

If the English translation is accurate (I am unable to consult the original text) it would seem, if I am not mistaken, that the expression in this baraita "intercourse that is not for the sake of marriage" refers to any intercourse consumed outside the marriage relationship.

I would like to know if there are more limited interpretations in the Jewish tradition about such specific expression, referring only to the hypothesis of casual/promiscuous sex (paid or not), or sexual intercourse consumed between an unmarried woman and a man she can’t halachically marry (therefore with reference to a woman "zonah" in the strictly legal sense, also considering that " lehaznotah " has the same linguistic root, if I am not mistaken, of "zonah").

1 Answer 1


The Ramban explains אל תחלל את בתך להזנותה to refer to relationship for which there is no Kiddushin (Halachic marriage) possible, for example a Canaanite slave or a goi; see Malbim Leviticus 19:29 who explains:

הרמב"ן השיג על רש"י שפירש שמוסרה אליו שלא לשם אישות דאם כן אתיא כר' אליעזר דסבר פנוי הבא על הפנויה עשאה זונה ולא קיי"ל כוותיה. ועל כן פירש שמדבר אם מסרה למי שאין קדושין תופסין בה והולך לשיטתו שחולק עם הרמב"ם (במנין המצות ס' שנה ובחבורו ריש הל' אישות) על הבא על הפנויה דרך זנות. ולהרמב"ן קאי על מי שאין קדושין תופסין כגון עבד

Rashi says the Passuk is refering to someone who gives his daughter not for the sake of marriage to someone else who is not forbidden to her. Ramban says however this only fits with the opinion of the Tanna Rabbi Elazar who says a non-matrimonial relationship makes a woman forbidden to a Cohen as a Zonah. However since we hold like the Rabanan (whosay out of wedlock relations with a Kosher Jew do not render a woman unfit to marry a Kohen) the correct interpretation of the Passuk is not to give ones unmarried daughter to a Slave or others whom there is no Kiddushin to her and thus renders her a Zonah unfit to marry a Cohen.

The Targum Onkles seems to (a bit like the Ramban) understand the passuk meaning giving ones daughter to a Gentile who will lead his daughter astray (see targum here using the same language) for meaning of Taus which will lead her astray away from the Torah and Mitzvos

לָא תַחֵיל יָת בְּרַתָּךְ לְאַטְעָיוּתַהּ וְלָא תִטְעֵי אַרְעָא וְתִתְמְלֵי אַרְעָא עֵיצַת חֲטִאין

Do not profane your daughter (in marriage) to lead her astray from Hashem, and the land shall not go astray and be filled with sinful thoughts .

Note the Semag (Rav Moshe Micoucy, 13th century) Asei 48 and Shulchan Aruch Even Haezer 2,9 are of the opinion that אל תחלל את בתך להזנותה refers to the father to give his daughter to an Old man for marriage (as a prevention of eishes Ish because of her discontent with the forced marriage imposed by her father to an old man when she was not yet a Bogeres) like Rabbi Eliezer (not rabbi Elazar) says in Sanhedrin 76a.

  • Could you please give me the translation of Leviticus 19:29 present in Targum Onkelos?
    – Amos74
    Commented Jul 27, 2019 at 17:17
  • @Amos74 yes i have translated the Targum who seems to agree with the ramban that the Passuk is refering to marrying a Goi for which there is no Kiddushin, but unlike the Ramban the Targum gives the reason being that she will be led astray by her spouse
    – user15464
    Commented Jul 28, 2019 at 9:30
  • Could you write here the exact English version of the Onkelos translation? Thanks a lot, and sorry fot the disturb
    – Amos74
    Commented Jul 28, 2019 at 10:07
  • @Amos74 i've put the words that are implicit in the context but not explicit in bracket
    – user15464
    Commented Jul 28, 2019 at 10:13
  • @Amos74 see Yevamot 16a ורבי יהודה מטמא מפני שהם גרים וטועים מבין העובדי כוכבים טהורים והוינן בה And Rabbi Yehuda deems it ritually impure because those residents of that place are converts and are in error. In other words, some of the inhabitants of Rekem assimilated and no longer observe the halakhot of the Torah here is a proof from the soncino translation of the Talmud that the word טְעֵ means to be led astray or assimilate if you don'tbelieve me
    – user15464
    Commented Jul 28, 2019 at 10:37

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