According to the Shulhan 'Aruch (Even Ha'Ezer 21:1), it is:

ואסור לשמוע קול ערוה או לראות שערה. והמתכוין לאחד מאלו הדברים, מכין אותו מכת מרדות. ואלו הדברים אסורים גם בחייבי לאוין.‏
Forbidden to listen to the voice of an 'Ervah or to see her hair, and we strike someone who does one of these things Makkath Marduth, and these things are also forbidden with (regard to women in the category of) general [i.e. not Kareith] prohibitions.

As explained by R' Eliyahu Reingold (from just before the 28 minute mark in this Shi'ur), the point of this language of "general prohibitions" is to include even a lesser classification of the prohibition of Niddah (possibly non-'Ervah) in this prohibition.

But what was left out intrigues me.

Makkath Marduth is a punishment that is usually given to someone who deliberately violates a rabbinic prohibition. Does this mean that the Mehaber holds that listening to Kol Ishah and looking at a woman's uncovered hair are rabbinic prohibitions?

  • Would you accept an answer of "Yes, that's what it means", or at least with a citation to someone authoritative who says so? If not, could you clarify in the question what else you seek?
    – msh210
    May 24, 2013 at 19:14
  • @msh210, it would suffice if explained well, because there are many, many individuals who (seem to) assume both to be biblical prohibitions based on certain scriptural verses and passages in the Gemara and RaMBa"M, among others. That the RaM"A and supercommentaries don't seem to contradict or qualify this in some way seems significant.
    – Seth J
    May 24, 2013 at 19:24
  • Did you see the Beiur haGra there?
    – Double AA
    May 24, 2013 at 21:29
  • @double aa just now I did. I had skimmed it, saw that he says the Halachah is from the RaMBa"M,, which I knew, and moved on. Didn't catch the Asmachta bit.
    – Seth J
    May 24, 2013 at 22:46
  • Who thinks that they are biblical prohibitions?
    – Double AA
    May 25, 2014 at 16:33

1 Answer 1


מכת מרדות is not necessarily an indication of something being Rabbinic.

You can only get Torah-ordained lashes if you do an action (with 3 exceptions). You can see the a list in the first half of the last Perek in Makos.

Listening and looking (and smelling) are not classified as actions and therefore one who looks at forbidden things and one who listens to forbidden things cannot be given Torah-ordained lashes.

As the Rambam says in רמב"ם הלכות סנהדרין פרק יח:

אֲבָל לָאו שֶׁאֵין בּוֹ מַעֲשֶׂה כְּגוֹן הוֹלֵךְ רָכִיל וְנוֹקֵם וְנוֹטֵר וְנוֹשֵׂא שֵׁמַע שָׁוְא אֵינוֹ לוֹקֶה:

כָּל לָאו שֶׁאֵין בּוֹ מַעֲשֶׂה אֵין לוֹקִין עָלָיו חוּץ מִנִּשְׁבָּע וּמֵימֵר וּמְקַלֵּל אֶת חֲבֵרוֹ בְּשֵׁם

However, sometimes Chazal implemented מכת מרדות - Rabbinic lashes - to get around the problem of how to punish somebody who has violated the law and needs to be punished but cannot get Torah-ordained lashes.

You can see various mentions of this in the Rambam - here are some examples in הלכות סנהדרין:

Ch. 16:3: וְכָל מַלְקִיּוֹת שֶׁמַּלְקִין דַּיָּנֵי חוּצָה לָאָרֶץ בְּכָל מָקוֹם אֵינָהּ אֶלָּא מַכַּת מַרְדּוּת

Ch. 18: 5 וְכָל אֵלּוּ שֶׁלֹּא קִבְּלוּ עֲלֵיהֶן הַהַתְרָאָה מַכִּין אוֹתָן מַכַּת מַרְדּוּת הוֹאִיל וְחָטְאוּ מִכָּל מָקוֹם אֲפִלּוּ עַל אִסּוּר שֶׁל דִּבְרֵי סוֹפְרִים מַכִּין אוֹתָן מַכַּת מַרְדּוּת

Ch. 26:5 וְאִם רָצוּ הַדַּיָּנִים לְהַכּוֹתוֹ מַכַּת מַרְדּוּת מַכִּין וְעוֹנְשִׁין אוֹתוֹ כְּפִי מַה שֶּׁיִּרְאוּ שֶׁהֲרֵי בִּזָּה אֶת הַזָּקֵן

  • 1
    Note: this answer is not asserting that the OP's cases are in this category. Just that the OP's proof is not conclusive.
    – Double AA
    Jun 23, 2014 at 13:43
  • Correct. As the question was "Does this mean that the Mehaber holds that listening to Kol Ishah and looking at a woman's uncovered hair are rabbinic prohibitions?" the answer is "מכת מרדות is not necessarily an indication of something being Rabbinic." Jun 24, 2014 at 7:40

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