If a young Jewish girl was raped, what are the protocols for her getting married? Is there anyone that she can't marry other than the Kohen or Kohen Gadol? What are the halachot for these types of circumstances, and what do you recommend should be the protocol as she is looking to shidduchim now?


2 Answers 2


Thank you and welcome to the site. We hope this is a theoretical question; however, Judaism covers the difficult cases too.

First off, this isn't pleasant to bring up, but not all forms of rape would be of halachic consequence to the question at hand; but we'll assume here that this was conventional full penetration, which would present an issue.

The Kohen Gadol issue isn't so relevant at the moment; as you'd indicated, if the rapist was a non-Jew or a close relative, she may not marry a Kohen. (And if the rapist is not identified, we'd generally assume it was a non-Jew.) Most shadchanim simply have a checkbox -- "are you ineligible to marry a Kohen?" The lady can simply check this -- or say "sorry no Kohanim" without giving another drop of detail. Could be her father wasn't Jewish, could be she had a non-Jewish boyfriend, could be rape, could be all sorts of things -- none of it is the shadchan's business.

(If the rapist was a Jew who was not closely related to the victim, she may still marry a Kohen.) (Source below.)

The important thing for this young woman would be (well hopefully all criminal and medical issues have been resolved first) to spend some time with a mental-health professional to make sure she is healing properly and can look forward to a life of positive sexual experiences within the framework of marriage. Please don't think "oh I'll get married and then all my problems will disappear" -- it's not fair to you or your spouse.

Provided she is emotionally okay, this is quite frankly none of a young man's business on a first date or two. She does not have to walk around at a singles event with a sign on her hat saying HI MY NAME IS JUDY; I WAS RAPED. Rabbi Moshe Feinstein ruled that a young widow could remove her hair covering, see if she could meet someone, and then explain her past to a suitor at some point in the dating process if things are looking like they are headed quite seriously. (Depending on your culture, this is probably sometime around the 3rd date or so.) I think the same would apply here; assuming whatever trauma issues have been resolved, first go find someone with whom things look promising, then explain the situation before any serious decisions are made. (And if a man meets a woman and likes everything about her for several dates, then suddenly would drop her because of something in her past that's of no halachic or psychological consequence, then phooey to him. Rabbi Ovadya Yosef has, in his written responsa, a question from a woman who had given up for adoption an out-of-wedlock child years earlier and never told her current husband.)

As for the wording in the ketubah -- "betultah" simply means "kohen eligible." If this woman is not kohen-eligible, the preferred wording is "it'ta" (simply Aramaic for "woman.") If she chooses to go this route, only a small handful of people need to know this; this is none of the crowd's business, and they can instruct whoever's reading the ketubah so say "betulta" out-loud instead.

Rambam, Laws of Prohibitions on Relations, Ch. 18:

א מפי השמועה למדו שה"זונה" (ויקרא כא,ז; ויקרא כא,יד) האמורה בתורה--היא כל שאינה בת ישראל, או בת ישראל שנבעלה לאדם שהיא אסורה להינשא לו איסור השווה בכול, או שנבעלה לחלל אף על פי שהיא מותרת להינשא לו.

ב לפיכך הנרבעת לבהמה--אף על פי שהיא בסקילה--לא נעשת זונה, ולא נפסלה לכהונה: שהרי לא נבעלה לאדם. והבא על הנידה--אף על פי שהיא בכרת--לא נעשת זונה, ולא נפסלה לכהונה: שהרי אינה אסורה להינשא לו. [ב] וכן הבא על הפנויה--אפילו הייתה קדשה שהפקירה עצמה לכול--אף על פי שהיא במלקות, לא נעשת זונה: שהרי אינה אסורה להינשא לו.

ג אבל הנבעלת לאחד מאיסורי לאוין השווין בכול, ואינן מיוחדין בכוהנים, או מאיסורי עשה, ואין צריך לומר למי שהיא אסורה לו משום ערווה, או לגוי ועבד הואיל והיא אסורה להינשא לו--הרי זו זונה. [ג] וכן הגיורת והמשוחררת--אפילו נתגיירה ונשתחררה פחותה מבת שלוש שנים--הואיל ואינה בת ישראל, הרי זו זונה ואסורה לכוהן.

ד מכאן אמרו, גוי או עבד או נתין או ממזר או גר עמוני ומואבי, או מצרי ואדומי ראשון ושני, או פצוע דכא וכרות שופכה, או חלל, שבאו על היהודית--עשו אותה זונה, ונפסלה לכהונה; ואם הייתה כוהנת, נפסלה מן התרומה. וכן יבמה שבא עליה זר, עשאה זונה. והאיילונית מותרת לכוהן, ואינה זונה.

ה [ד] הבא על אחת מן השנייות וכיוצא בהן, כגון הבא על קרובת חלוצתו או על חלוצתו--לא עשה אותה זונה: שהרי אינה אסורה להינשא לו מן התורה, כמו שביארנו בהלכות ייבום.

ו [ה] הא למדת, שאין היותה זונה תלוי בבעילה של איסור: שהרי הבא על הנידה ועל הקדשה, והנרבעת לבהמה--נבעלה בעילה של איסור, ולא נעשת זונה; ומי שנישאת לחלל--נבעלה בעילה של היתר כמו שיתבאר, ונעשת זונה. ואין הדבר תלוי אלא בפגימה; ומפי השמועה למדו, שאינה פגומה אלא מאדם האסור לה או מחלל, כמו שביארנו.

ז [ו] כל הנבעלת לאדם שעושה אותה זונה--בין באונס בין ברצון, בין בזדון בין בשגגה, בין כדרכה בין שלא כדרכה--משהערה בה, נפסלה משום זונה: ובלבד שתהיה בת שלוש שנים ויום אחד, ויהיה הבועל בן תשע שנים ויום אחד ומעלה.

ח לפיכך אשת איש שנבעלה לאחד, בין באונס בין ברצון--נפסלה לכהונה. [ז] ואשת כוהן שנאנסה--בעלה לוקה עליה משום טומאה, שנאמר "לא יוכל בעלה הראשון אשר שילחה לשוב לקחתה" (דברים כד,ד). הכול בכלל, שאם נבעלו נאסרו על בעליהן; פרט לך הכתוב באשת ישראל שנאנסה שהיא מותרת לבעלה, שנאמר "והיא לא נתפשה" (במדבר ה,יג); אבל אשת כוהן באיסורה עומדת, שהרי היא זונה. [ח] אשת ישראל שנאנסה--אף על פי שהיא מותרת לבעלה, הרי זו אסורה לכהונה.

Our tradition has it that the "strayed woman" (Lev. 21:7) who the Torah prohibited to a kohen -- is a non-Jewish woman, or a Jewish woman who had relations with a man to whom she could not marry (where that prohibition applies to all Jews) ...

Therefore, if a Jewish man has relations with a single Jewish woman -- even if she is a prostitute who is open to all [Jewish men], even though this deserves punishment of lashes -- she is not a "strayed woman" as she was not prohibited from marrying this fellow.

However if she had relations with someone from whom she is prohibited universally, not a kohen-specific prohibition or a "yes-do" commandment; or certainly an erva prohibition [e.g. a first-degree relative], or a non-Jew, as she could not marry him -- she is a "strayed woman." ...

We thus see that the status of zonah [strayed woman] is not tied to the relation being prohibited! A nida and a prostitute may not have relations with a man, and a woman may not have relations with an animal, but none of these render here a zonah. ... And a woman who married a chalal, which is permissible, renders her ineligible. It's simply a matter of disqualification.

Any woman who had relations with someone who would render her a zonah -- whether it was rape or willingly, knowing it was prohibited or not, vaginal or anal -- upon penetration she is disqualified. So long as she was at least three years old and he was at least nine years old at the time.

  • 3
    In communities (probably in Israel) which are (almost) exclusively Jewish, why would we assume an unindentified rapist is a non-Jew? Kol deparish meruba parish.
    – Double AA
    Jan 1, 2014 at 21:20
  • +1. You may wish to edit in a clarification, since the question says the victim was a "a young Jewish girl", under what circumstances marriage to a kohen is possible even with a gentile or related rapist.
    – msh210
    Jan 1, 2014 at 22:07
  • is bas yisroel literal here? you mention her father not being jewish, but i didn't see it in the Rambam other than the general term. If mom is jewish she's still a zonah?
    – Baby Seal
    Jan 2, 2014 at 17:39
  • @BabySeal I think "bas yisroel" here simply means there's an additional prohibition for a kohen to marry a non-Jewish woman. IIRC a woman with a non-Jewish father isn't a "zonah", it's a separate (rabbinic, I think) enactment. Have to track it down b'n.
    – Shalom
    Jan 3, 2014 at 13:03
  • (If the rapist was a Jew who was not closely related to the victim, she may still marry a Kohen.) please can you explain in greater detail and also with the mention if Rav Ovadia Yosef please elabroate on thia as very interested thank you and also can someone please explain more about the rambam thank you
    – Anz12
    Jan 6, 2014 at 10:38

From a Biblical standpoint (ie, in the times of Tanach, but not necessarily today), the rapist was required to marry the girl he raped, should she wish to do so.

Deuteronomy 22

28 If a man comes upon a virgin who is not engaged and he seizes her and lies with her, and they are discovered, 29 the man who lay with her shall pay the girl’s father fifty [shekels of] silver, and she shall be his wife. Because he has violated her, he can never have the right to divorce her.

Why would she wish to marry him? Ancient peoples placed great emphasis on purity and virginity, and the victim would be considered defiled and disgraced (in addition to no longer being a virgin.) As such, her marriage prospects were very slim, and she might choose to marry her attacker rather than face the prospect of never getting married. This unfortunate situation (ie, that rape is viewed as shameful for the victim, not the attacker) is still prevalent in many places today, such as rural India.


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