In most western democracies a parent has obligations to the care of their children; they are not property in that their care cannot be transferred for personal gain, a child cannot be rented, sold, or abandoned. Whereas with property (such as a piece of bread) you can consume it, move it, sell it, break it, discard it etc.

In Judaism can a child be rented, sold, given away, abandoned (by their father)?

If no, why not? If yes, until what age or condition is met?

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    To reiterate the above, it's obviously not permitted to rape anyone ('Arachin 14b), much less have relations with a child (Kiddushin 41a, Nidda 13b), much less have relations with one's own child (Sanhedrin 76a). – Fred Sep 8 at 21:23
  • As far as "slavery", you're referencing the biblical era practice discussed in Exodus 21:7-11. A destitute father would "sell" (more like a dowry) his minor daughter to be betrothed to someone (with her consent - Bach EH 37, Chelkas M'chokeik EH 37:10 and 56:6). In the interim, she'd perform the duties of a maid, and if neither the master nor his son formally commit to marriage by the time she reaches the age of majority (or after six years as a maid, whichever is first), she goes free. – Fred Sep 8 at 21:33
  • Also, she can change her mind at the age of majority and decide to annul the marriage even though she previously agreed (this is called mi'un). Additionally, her relatives can redeem her monetarily from her status as a maid, and the master is legally required to be flexible with the amount they'd have to pay to redeem her. @AndrewRichmond – Fred Sep 8 at 21:36
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    Thank you for this info, would be good to formulate into an answer. – Andrew Richmond Sep 8 at 21:42
  • @fred miun is only if her father died and her mother or brother married her off. If the father marries her off, that's final unless they get divorced. – Heshy Sep 8 at 21:48

A man can't discard his young children, or starve them:

כתובות סה ב

דרש רבי עולא רבה ... אע"פ שאמרו אין אדם זן את בניו ובנותיו כשהן קטנים אבל זן קטני קטנים עד כמה עד בן שש

Ktuvot 65b

Rabbi Ula Raba said... although they said the a man is not obligated to feed his young sons and daughters, he must feed his very young sons and daughters. How young? Until the age of six.

The condition of daughters from marriage is slightly better:

משנה כתובות ד יא

בנן נוקבן דיהוין ליכי מנאי, יהויין יתבן בביתי ומתזנן מנכסי עד דיתנסבן לגוברין...

Mishna ktuvot p4 11

[One of the marriage conditions written in the Ktuva is:]

Daughters that you will have from me, will sit at my home, and will fed from my property until they we be married.

That's only until their puberty.

Also, a man must teach his son a profession:

קידושין כט א

ת"ר והאב חייב בבנו ...וללמדו אומנות

Kidushin 29a

Our Rabbies said: Father obligation to his son... and teach him a profession.

About "transferring rights for gain" part:

A man can marry his young daughter to other, or sell her for maid*, but I believe that the premise is that he is doing it for her own good (he can't support her, etc), doing it for gain is being *&^@%#.

*Which is, again, for marriage. The master or his son must take her, or she is freed.


Yes, you may sell your daughter into slavery.

Now if a man sells his daughter as a maidservant, she shall not go free as the slaves go free. Exodus - Chapter 21

And a slave master may choose to beat their slave as long as they don’t knock out their teeth, eyes, or kill them.* He may then marry her or designate her to be married by his son or let her go free.

  • Jewish slaves may not be beaten. Rambam הלכות חובל ומזיק פרק ד הלכה יא,יג Note; most people are not jews
  • -1 For omitting "if the girls is not married, she sets free" part, which makes the entire arrangement very different from common "slavery" – Alaychem Sep 10 at 6:59
  • So much better yeah. (Sarcasm) People on here are slavery apologists, is that really your position - “Selling 8 year old girls into slavery is amazing, after years of forced labor and beatings they get to go free if their master thinks their unmarriagable!” I’ve updated the answer to include that the master can let her go free, I hope this satisfies your position. – Andrew Richmond Sep 10 at 8:07
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    It's a lesser evil, not a preferred practice, besides, you use manipulation here, "forced labor"? "beating??" Are you sure you read the rules for Jewish slave before asking the question? Being a maid and finally getting married (or released with sum of money when adult, see the rules for Jewish slave) is usually better then starve to death. It's unfair to condemn this rule from our rich, super-spoiled era. Fact is, that no one does it nowadays. – Alaychem Sep 10 at 8:18
  • I’m not bashing the bible, I’m providing the correct answer to the question, if you find the bible offensive thats probably because it condones beating children. I personally see all people as equal, but if you think jews should be treated better than non jews, the bible agrees with you. – Andrew Richmond Sep 10 at 8:49
  • So your question is - "Is the bible racist"? close this question, and ask another (and edit your answer, since beating is not allowed). – Alaychem Sep 10 at 8:54

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