What exactly is considerd incest from a legal point of view? Is, for example, friction of two intimate parts without any actual intercourse, being considered incest?

I know a man who take care of his old father and need to wash his private part.

1 Answer 1


The Torah states (Vayikra 20:12):

If a man lies with his daughter-in-law, both of them shall be put to death; they have committed incest—and they retain the bloodguilt.

Rashi explains why this is considered incest ans explains that this is the case when the seed gets intermingled.

Another interpretation is that תבל is connected with בלל to "intermingle" and signifies that they mingle (בּלל) the seed of the father with the seed of the son.

The Rambam, Moreh Nevuchim 3:49 explains the rational between these halachos states in the Torah and explains that it is forbidden to have sexual intercourse (with the categories listed below):

The law about forbidden sexual intercourse seeks in all its parts to inculcate the lesson that we ought to limit sexual intercourse altogether, hold it in contempt, and only desire it very rarely. The prohibition of pederasty (Lev. 18:22) and carnal intercourse with beasts (ibid. 73) is very clear. If in the natural way the act is too base to be performed except when needed, how much more base is it if performed in an unnatural manner, and only for the sake of pleasure.

Incest can be translated as ערווה. The Rambam, Mishneh Torah, Forbidden Intercourse 21:1 states:

Anyone who sleeps with one of the forbidden relationships "by way of limbs", or who hugs and kisses in a sexual way and takes pleasure in physical intimacy, receives lashes for a d'Oraisa transgression, as it says (Leviticus 18:30) "do not do any of these abominable customs etc" and it says (Leviticus 18:6) "do not approach to uncover nakedness", which is to say do not approach things which will bring you to transgressing Arayos.

Then what is considered ערווה?

The Torah, a few verses later, explains that having intimacy with:

  1. Father;
  2. Mother;
  3. Father's wife;
  4. Sister (daughter of your father of mother);
  5. Daughter of your son or your daughter's daughter;
  6. Stepsisters;
  7. Sister of your father;
  8. Sister of your mother;
  9. Uncles (father and mother's brother)
  10. Daughter-in-law


So, it seems that incest, or ערווה is when there is a sexual intercourse involved.

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