"If two men get into a fight with each other, and the wife of one comes up to save her husband from his antagonist and puts out her hand and seizes him by his genitals, you shall cut off her hand; show no pity." Deuteronomy.25.11

IIRC, Rambam learns from that verse that an aggressor should be stopped by all means. But in this case, the woman is protecting her husband who's attacked by another man.

Why should be such a woman be stopped by cutting her hand off?

  • She's trying to kill the other man. The other man isn't trying to kill anyone. She's a rodef. That's one peshat. Other peshat is it means she pays financial compensation for embarassing the other man. Embarrassment doesn't care about intent.
    – robev
    Commented Feb 6, 2022 at 17:19
  • @robev This is just an Asmachta for financial compensation. In the story, she has her hand cut off.
    – Al Berko
    Commented Feb 6, 2022 at 17:33
  • @robev "kill the other man" you say. So I posted judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/128122/… How can a man be killed by grabbing his part with a bare hand?
    – Al Berko
    Commented Feb 6, 2022 at 17:48
  • If I tell you the Torah does not mean her hand is cut off, you wouldn't believe me? Then I don't know what to say...if you do believe me, are you asking why the Torah says to cut off her hand if it's not literal?
    – robev
    Commented Feb 6, 2022 at 17:53
  • @robev It says explicitly not to pity, so I mean a serious impairment IS implied. This is also what Rambam states in Hil. Rotzeah, I think. Also the Torah does not say "you MAY EVEN cut her hand", it says "go and cut it off! don't pity!"
    – Al Berko
    Commented Feb 6, 2022 at 18:57

1 Answer 1


There are two ways of reading it halachically:

A.) She touches the other fellow inappropriately and has to pay for embarrassment, figuratively cutting off her hand. (This is Rashi's reading.)

B.) She is attempting to injure the fellow in a life-threatening way, and thus can be stopped even by literally cutting off her hand. This is Rambam's reading.

In either case, if she was truly acting to save her husband from what she believed to be a life-threatening attack, then yes, she'd be exempt. It appears the case is that they're just horsing around and the only thing at risk here is someone's ego. (Or alternatively, the fight is already over and she's now engaging.)

If I recall correctly, there is one midrash halacha that reads a slight twist on it: the woman's husband is guilty of a capital crime. And the man she is attacking here is the executioner, which she has no right to do.

  • Thank you, can you please offer a rewrite to the verse, so it would fit the two interpretations natively?
    – Al Berko
    Commented Feb 6, 2022 at 20:46
  • Here's a follow up question for you judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/128125/…
    – Al Berko
    Commented Feb 6, 2022 at 20:55
  • Hakesav vehakaballah says according to the money opinion that וקצותה is a loshon of קציצת ממון
    – robev
    Commented Feb 6, 2022 at 21:02

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