@Shalom had summarized the two halachic approaches to learning the verse: "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

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.

What is the importance of mentioning a) a woman, b) the man is her husband, c) she tries to save him? I don't see how the conclusions would be different if the person was an unrelated male, and NONE addresses her pious intention (God knows!).

  • She is either embarrassing this fellow or trying to kill him in a situation when it's uncalled-for. Obviously we would punish a random person doing these things, but even a wife concerned for her husband's honor when he's losing a wrestling match can't get away with uncalled-for assault.
    – Shalom
    Feb 6, 2022 at 21:21

1 Answer 1


Seforno (echoed by Rabbi David Zvi Hoffman) suggests that reading A) suggested in the post serves as a contrast to the laws of Chalitzah above.

In the manner of Chalitzah, a woman "defends" her husband's honour by embarrassing his brother, the one who refused to uphold his name, which is permitted. However, if her husband is live and in a fight, she may not embarrass his opponent (which the Torah actually terms "his brother"). Thus, it being "a woman" who is "married to the man" in the fight who she is "trying to save" are all important details to develop this contrast.

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