What is the Halacha of a Jewish married man engaging in physical relations with a Jewish divorced woman.

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    Welcome to Mi Yodeya Hinda. Can you edit your question to clarify more precisely what you mean by "what is the halacha of..."? Are you asking whether such relations are permitted? What the consequences for the participants are? What the consequences for any children are? Something else? All of the above?
    – Alex
    Dec 2, 2019 at 3:14
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    A Jewish man is forbidden to have relations with any Jewish woman unless he is married to her. A Jewish divorced woman is like any other unmarried Jewish woman except that she is forbidden to marry a kohen. I do not understand what you are asking about. Dec 2, 2019 at 3:47
  • Welcome to MiYodeya and thanks for this first question. Since MY is different from other sites you might be used to, see here for a guide which might help understand the site. Great to have you learn with us!
    – mbloch
    Dec 2, 2019 at 3:52
  • All of the above.
    – Hinda Levy
    Dec 2, 2019 at 5:42
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    @HindaLevy it would be ideal if you could edit in your own words directly into the question so the question becomes self-standing
    – mbloch
    Dec 2, 2019 at 7:51

1 Answer 1


Let's assume the divorced Jewish woman had a proper, halachic Gett, so she is actually divorced from the perspective of halacha. (Otherwise this gets very dicey, very fast.)

As stated about a similar situation:

Because Judaism allowed a man to have more than one wife, until a thousand years ago, technically a married man could go find another woman without breaking halacha, and thus the strictest halachic definition of "adultery" only concerns relations between a married woman and a man who's not her husband.

Still, it should go without saying that for a married man to cheat on his wife is despicable, wrong, a violation to fellow human beings, and a sin to God. (At the bare minimum, all non-marital relations are prohibited.) The technical term "adultery" is not used, however.

Presumably if the couple got divorced, the husband's infidelity would be considered when the assets are being divided.

Anyhow, back to the theoretical prohibition for the act itself -- we'd fall back on if both of them were single (and let's assume it's clear their intent is purely promiscuous.) If the woman is a Nida, that's prohibited and theoretically punishable by karet -- G-d takes it up with their soul. If not, then it's theoretically punishable by lashes (either at the rabbinic or Biblical level, depending on which medieval interpretation we follow).

Nonetheless, Sharon Galper Grossman describes the phenomenon you describe as happening occasionally in Israel in a recent journal article about HPV; in a subsequent letter to the editor, she acknowledged that maybe that wasn't the best thing to print.

If the woman later remarries, her kesubah will say exactly the same thing whether she'd had relations with someone or not, simply identifying her as a divorcee (divorcees can never marry a kohen anyhow, so that point is moot).

If she got pregnant from the union with the Jewish married man: if the father wasn't a kohen, then the child is a 100% kosher Jew with no special limitations whatsoever [because theoretically the parents could have married at the time]. If the father was a kohen, then the child was born of a forbidden union -- if it's a boy he is not a kohen, if it is a girl she may not marry a kohen.

  • "Presumably if the couple got divorced, the husband's infidelity would be considered when the assets are being divided." Why? He will owe her the amount specified in the ketubah, nothing more and nothing less, even if he is a lowlife.
    – Mordechai
    Dec 4, 2019 at 23:05
  • @Mordechai in the US, at least, if they register their marriage with the state, the default arrangement (minhag hamedina / hakol keminhag hasofrim) is "equitable distribution", and thus that's what most batei din will apply. Agreed, bare-bones halacha in a vacuum always requires him to pay as stipulated in the kesubah (no more and no less), unless she's egregiously at fault. (On the first point: R. Yonah Reiss has stated that if a couple opts not to register with the state, then absent any other documentation or agreement, she'd get only the kesubah.)
    – Shalom
    Dec 6, 2019 at 0:12

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