This question sparked a lively discussion and debate on this rather sensitive issue.

One piece of the original question was:

  • What ceremony / ritual must be performed (if any) to formally designate a woman as a specific man's pilegesh?

  • What ceremony / ritual must be performed (if any) if/when the couple wants to dissolve the pilegesh relationship?

No one ever provided an answer. I am looking for one of two things:

  • Evidence that a specific ritual is used to acquire a pilegesh

  • Evidence that no specific ritual is required to acquire a pilegesh

Also, if the ritual includes a written document, what is written into this document?

(There seemed to be general agreement over here that a pilegesh does not receive a ketubah).

  • 3
    To be clear - I don't intend to rehash the arguments from the original question. The propriety of pilegesh in modern times is not part of this question. I simply want to know the details of how a man acquired a pilegesh back when such an arrangement did occur.
    – user1095
    Commented Feb 15, 2012 at 8:35
  • This topic has appeared and reappeared on many an electronic Jewish forum in the last 20 years. Every time it sparks a lively debate. Commented Feb 15, 2012 at 15:00

2 Answers 2


Rambam (Hil. Melachim 4:4) states that a pilegesh (which, in his view, is permissible only to a king) enters into this status "without kesubah and without kiddushin; with yichud alone he acquires her and she becomes permitted to him."


I think the answer may just be: "we don't know." It's too abstract.

I think it would be absolved, according to Rabbi Emden, with a normal-looking Get; and entered -- well I'm not sure in what capacity you specify "this is quasi-marriage" instead of "this is real marriage" in the ceremony. I don't know what his language is on this. (I heard a shiur about his essay, but haven't seen it myself.)

  • I agree that a get seems like the correct way to dissolve a pilegesh relationship. Since Rav Emden seriously considered allowing pilegesh l'maaseh, not that long ago, it would be reasonable to assume that he had something in mind for a man and woman to do, in order to enter the pilegesh relationship. Could it be as simple as chupah and kiddushin, without a ketubah?
    – user1095
    Commented Feb 15, 2012 at 20:07

You must log in to answer this question.