If a man has an extramarital affair he may continue to sleep with his wife whereas if a woman has an extramarital affair she may no longer stay married. There are other differences as well which are generally more severe for the woman than the man.

The laws and their sources related to this idea have been discussed here:

In adultery, why is a wife is guilty, and a husband not?

and here:

Questions about Polygamy in Jewish Law and Culture

What I want to know is the underlying rationale for these mitzvos that explains why it's more severe for a woman to have an extramarital affair, why she is not allowed to marry more than one man and all the other distinctions between men and women that make the laws more severe for women?

[I have edited the question so that it is no longer a duplicate. Please reopen and remove this sentence.]

  • 1
    Rather than not as severe, there is actually no concept of "adultery" for a man. Until a rabbinical decree somewhat recently men could marry multiple women. – andrewmh20 May 27 '15 at 12:19
  • @andrewmh20 While you are technically correct, I did not want to get into technicalities and just ask the question with terms normally used in our culture. I suppose extramarital relations would have been more correct a term. – Gavriel May 27 '15 at 13:33
  • 1
    It's just as severe for a man as for a woman (and they both face the same punishment). However, the Torah defines adultery as between a man and a woman who is married to a different man. – Loewian May 27 '15 at 15:28
  • I edited the question so it's not a duplicate... – Gavriel May 27 '15 at 19:02
  • @Gavriel Still seems like a duplicate... – Double AA May 27 '15 at 20:47

It's difficult to our modern ears, but originally Judaism allowed a man to have multiple wives, whereas a woman could only have one husband. (The ban on polygamy didn't happen until about a thousand years ago in Ashkenazic lands.)

Therefore, in theory as a man could sneak away from his wife and marry another woman, we can't define "adultery" in the same way.

  • 1
    I think you are falling into the "God said so" vs "Taamei deKra" fallacy. IAE please edit your post in light of edits to the question, or remove it (or it may be removed for you if the question is reopened). – Double AA May 27 '15 at 22:40
  • @DoubleAA agreed! The original question was answered by halachic mechanics. Now it's a philosophy question! – Shalom May 27 '15 at 23:48
  • In ancient time, before paternity tests, adultery is not victimless. Adultery means a man may have to inherit his wealth to someone else' biological child. A woman never have such problems. Now some would come up with certain theology to justify this. The thing is, judaism laws of adultery does not differ much from adultery in most other cultures. Hence, some common sense humans' politic should be the reason instead of any religious cause. – user4951 Jun 29 '15 at 14:16

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .