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וְהַנַּעֲרָ טֹבַת מַרְאֶה מְאֹד בְּתוּלָה וְאִישׁ לֹא יְדָעָהּ ...׃ - The maiden was very beautiful, a virgin whom no man had known. Genesis.24.16

Why is the fact of sexual abstinence is important for Rivkah but not other foremothers or other Toranic female figures?

(Sorry, I intended to ask first, "What other women were mentioned in the Torah to be virgin?", please comment if needed).

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    IIRC, the Chasam Sofer writes that because of Yitzchoks status as a Korban, he was only permitted to marry a besulah, (similar to a Kohen Gadol). He thus explains all the hurrying mentioned in the parsha - וירץ, ותמהר etc. - that they were trying to tie the knot before nightfall, at which point she would be 3 years old and lose her חזקת בתולה. – chortkov2 Nov 14 '20 at 18:13
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    תפול מעל הגמל, לפי שראתה ברוח הקדש שעתיד לצאת ממנו עשו הרשע נזדעזעה ונעשית מוכת עץ ויצא ממנה דם בתולים, מיד אמר הקב"ה לגבריאל רד ושמור את הדם שלא יסריח ולא יהיה בו מום. בא יצחק עליה ולא מצא לה בתולים, חשדה מאליעזר, אמר לו כשנפלתי מן הגמל נעשיתי מוכת עץ... הלכו ומצאו העץ צבוע דם, מיד ידע יצחק שהיא טהורה. אמר הקב"ה מה אעשה לעבד הזה שהיה חשוד, אמר למלאכי השרת הכניסוהו חי לגן עדן, הוא אליעזר בן נמרוד, והוא תמיה גדולה, יצחק יצא מגן עדן חי, ואליעזר נכנס לגן עדן חי. (שם) aspaklaria.info/001_ALEF/… – interested Nov 14 '20 at 19:26
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    לא ישא את מוכת עץ. he.wikisource.org/wiki/… Then this is against the chasam sofer he did not have the din of kohen godol since he married a mukas eits. – interested Nov 14 '20 at 19:30
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    @chortkov2 R. Avraham Ben Harambam says the kohen gadol part, but without the korban part: הודיע לנו את שמירתה של אותה המשפחה וטהרתה ואילו לא היתה בתולה לא לקח אותה (יצחק) ע"ה כעין מה שנצטווה בו הכהן הגדול מאחיו והוא אשה בבתוליה יקח – Alex Nov 14 '20 at 23:11
  • @Alex Well my midrash goes against that as well. Or perhaps he write 'c'en' not c'mo. But if for the kohen godol it would not be allowed then for yitschak also not. – interested Nov 15 '20 at 14:58
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The Midrash Rabbah 60:5 brings a few reasons:

אָמַר רַבִּי יוֹחָנָן לֹא נִבְעֲלָה אִשָּׁה מִמָּהוּל לִשְׁמוֹנָה תְּחִלָּה אֶלָּא רִבְקָה. אָמַר רֵישׁ לָקִישׁ לְפִי שֶׁבְּנוֹתָן שֶׁל עוֹבְדֵי כּוֹכָבִים מְשַׁמְּרוֹת עַצְמָן מִמְּקוֹם עֶרְוָתָן וּמַפְקִירוֹת עַצְמָן מִמָּקוֹם אַחֵר, אֲבָל זֹאת בְּתוּלָה מִמְּקוֹם בְּתוּלִים, וְאִישׁ לֹא יְדָעָהּ, מִמָּקוֹם אַחֵר. אָמַר רַבִּי יוֹחָנָן מִמַּשְׁמַע שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר בְּתוּלָה, אֵין אָנוּ יוֹדְעִים וְאִישׁ לֹא יְדָעָהּ, אֶלָּא אֲפִלּוּ אָדָם לֹא תָבַע בָּהּ, עַל שֵׁם (תהלים קכה, ג): לֹא יָנוּחַ שֵׁבֶט הָרֶשַׁע וגו'.

Rabbi Yochanan said no woman had engaged in intimacy with someone who had been circumcised from eight days other than Rivkah. Reish Lokish said, since the daughters of idol worshippers guard themselves from nakedness and abandonment from another place but this virginity (i.e. that of Rivkah's) was purely from a place of virginity (i.e. and not of any pagan ritual). "And no man had known" - i.e. from another a place. Rabbi Yochanan said it is implied from the fact that it says that she is a virgin that we do not know and no man knew, even no man had a 'claim' on her like it says (Psalms 125:3) "The sceptre of the wicked shall never rest etc."...

So we see three reasons for this calling out of Rivkah's virginity:

  1. She was the first to be with someone who had received Milah at the correct time.
  2. Her virginity was due to her absolute pure character and nothing like the pagan practises at the time.
  3. "No man had known" means that no one had even asked for her, as the passuk in Tehillim implies that the righteous are protected from the wicked.
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  • Thank you for the source, very interesting. Shouldn't it say " לֹא נִבְעֲלָה אִשָּׁה למָּהוּל"? This Midrash indeed fits better my other question about specifying Rivka's purity so explicitly and not why she was different from other foremothers. But it is a close match. – Al Berko Nov 14 '20 at 19:13
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    @dov I wasnt aware that rabbi yochanan was trying to answer this question. – interested Nov 14 '20 at 19:47

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