Supposing there are a Jewish man and woman who are the only survivors of a crash landing near a deserted island, and their respective families have written them off for dead. Over time as they struggle to survive, they fall in love. According to a previously answered question they cannot have a full Jewish marriage due to lack of witnesses.

This question asks: Can they contract any lesser type of marriage? Or does the Law strictly require the pair live chastely until they die of old age?

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    The halakhic answer is as noted at the answer above. I also want to point out that there is a well-known Jewish folktale, first found in a manuscript of Midrash Tanhuma, about a king (usually Solomon) who locks his daughter in a tower but her destined husband finds her and they marry with Gabriel and Michael (or heaven and earth, in other versions) as witnesses. There's also the Talmudic story (Ta'anit 8a) of a man and woman who are betrothed with a well and a weasel as witnesses. Oct 14 '13 at 1:19
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    I restated the question. Are there any forms of marriage which are less than fully halakhic that a stranded couple could be allowed to agreed to? Oct 14 '13 at 2:29
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    @NoamSienna I will restrain myself and simply say that you are getting the Gemara in Taanit WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG. The Gemara is talking about making good on your word, and in that context mentions a story of a couple who pledged that they would in the future marry each other. "The weasel and the well" would testify about the pledge if either side denied it, but the binding force here is simply that of a vow, no different than if I promised not to eat potato chips -- no witnesses needed. They were NOT married at that point! Her crime was breaking a promise, not adultery.
    – Shalom
    Oct 15 '13 at 16:18
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    @AndrewJonathan FORGET THE PROMISE!!! There is no marriage here. Anything they would do is premarital relations.
    – Shalom
    Oct 15 '13 at 18:46
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    @AndrewJonathan Shalom is telling you what Judaism says about this. If you want to make up on your own what you think God and the Bible say, you are more than welcome to do so to your heart's content on some other site.
    – Double AA
    Oct 15 '13 at 19:02

The question is silly, but I can help you reorient it a bit. The halachic definition of marriage needs two witnesses, and Noahides require that it be clearly known to society that she's his wife. Neither works here. Nor do I know or care why a "Noahide definition" or "Edenic definition" would matter here.

The wiser question is -- "would a couple in this situation be expected to observe the prohibition on non-marital relations"? From a technical legal standpoint is one question (e.g. if we don't follow Rambam's opinion it's a rabbinic prohibition, which has more leeway); in terms of how G-d would judge them is another.

  • There is no reason Noahides on an island couldn't marry, but that wouldn't help for Jews
    – wfb
    Oct 15 '13 at 17:05
  • @Shalom Wouldn't the more relevant issue be the prohibition on relations with a niddah? That's a pretty severe one...
    – SAH
    Mar 21 '17 at 19:58
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    @SAH in theory yes; but then again, maybe their desert island is near the ocean so that could count as a mikvah ... it's a hypothetical, but yes, good point: nidah is a more severe prohibition than premarital relations.
    – Shalom
    Mar 21 '17 at 21:03

Several sources (listed here) namely:

רשב"א כתובות מ. ד"ה וניתי עשה, דן בדבריו המנחת חינוך א-ג [כב] ד"ה והנה אם אין מזדמן. וכן כתב גריפ"פ לא תעשה רסד, רצא. בדפיו ד"ה וביותר, וספר המקנה נו-א אות כא

Would say that the positive commandment of Being Fruitful and Multiplying may override the negative commandment of "marriage" without proper Kiddushin.

Note that there are several questions raised by this about how long, exactly, such permission would extend. For example, until after they have the required number of children (a boy and a girl), until she could no longer have children, etc.

  • All of this is ignoring the simple fact that as described by the OP, the stranded couple would not be obliged beyond the kiddushin from "biah rishonah" with it's accompanying blessing like is found in Mishnah Kiddushin 1:1 and the accompanying Gemara. Their marriage would not be lesser in any way. Nov 23 '15 at 16:29
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    @YaacovDeane ??? I'm really confused what you are trying to say, but it sounds a bit like you think Kiddushei Biah doesn't need witnesses, which is definitely false.
    – Double AA
    Nov 23 '15 at 16:32
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    @DoubleAA: First of all, remember that this is a theoretical question. But in the details originally posted the conditions are highly unusual and restrictive. The requirements under normal circumstances, like witnesses, etc., would not apply. They are simply not there to be had. In the end, remember that we are to choose life and that which leads to an increase in life, meaning children. On the simplest level, that requires husband and wife. The Mishnah is clear that acquiring a wife is accomplished in three ways. Under the conditions described, it would be a valid Jewish marriage. Nov 23 '15 at 17:06
  • @YaacovDeane Nothing of what you just said was of any help for me in understanding your point. Please try again. Explain what about the given conditions allows for a marriage to happen, and in what manner the marriage is effectuated. If you want to claim that a certain standard requirement is obviated, please explain how you know that.
    – Double AA
    Nov 23 '15 at 17:08
  • @YaacovDeane, interesting rejection of the whole idea of עדי קיום.
    – Yishai
    Nov 23 '15 at 17:09

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