The gemara (Ketubot 4a) and poskim (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 193:1) refer to the first time a couple having marital relations as "beilas mitzvah" (mitzvah of marital relations).

Being as the couple is obviously not being mekadesh via this biah (see Yevamos 52a, and Rambam, Hilchos Issurei Biah 21:14)-- what exactly is the mitzvah being fulfilled in this biah rishonah that it's referred to as "beilas mitzvah?"

1 Answer 1


Tosfos, Ketubot 4a:

בעילת מצוה. קרי לה בעילת מצוה משום דכתיב כי בועליך עושיך ואמרי' (סנהדרין דף כב:) אין אשה כורתת ברית אלא למי שעושה אותה כלי וע''י כך מידבק בה ובאין לידי פריה ורביה ולהכי קרי לה לבעילה ראשונה בעילת מצוה

Commandment Intercourse It calls it "commandment intercourse" because Scripture says "who has intercourse with you makes you" and we [Sanhedrin 22b] [explain that verse by] saying "a woman makes a covenant only with the man who makes her a vessel" and thereby he becomes [emotionally] attached to her and they come to [fulfilling the commandment of] being fruitful and multiplying. That's why it calls the first intercourse "commandment intercourse".

  • Where does Scripture say that verse? It doesn't seem to ring the bell of memory...
    – Gary
    Commented Jul 26, 2019 at 5:35
  • @Gary "ישעיהו נד ה "כִּי בֹעֲלַיִךְ עֹשַׂיִךְ יְהוָה צְבָאוֹת שְׁמוֹ וְגֹאֲלֵךְ קְדוֹשׁ יִשְׂרָאֵל אֱלֹהֵי כָל הָאָרֶץ יִקָּרֵא.". Appears in several Haftarot. Commented Jul 26, 2019 at 12:39
  • Ahh, the many uses of the bet ayin lamed root-Chabad reads "your Master is your Maker", the xtians tend to translate it as "husband" there. Strong's listed those as well as lord, citizens, and others, but no specific mention of "one who has intercourse". Flexible word, thanks for the clue.
    – Gary
    Commented Jul 26, 2019 at 23:17

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