Nothing to do with any other religions, but is there anything in the sources that speak about whether or not a woman could become pregnant without relations?

Due to the negative feedback, I can frame it in a halachic scenario: Suppose a betrothed virgin became pregnant without relations, would the kid be deemed a mamzer?

This is also excluding in-vitro fertilization.

Pregnant virgin, no explanation.

  • 5
    Depending on what you mean about "without relations", there are discussions about artificial insemination...
    – Loewian
    Aug 18 '15 at 1:59
  • there are also (IIRC) discussions of bi'ah which leaves the hymen intact. The women is not a virgin but a siman of virginity.
    – rosends
    Aug 18 '15 at 2:03
  • 4
    This site is experiencing a plague of noytzrem, methinks. Oy...
    – user3342
    Aug 18 '15 at 3:58
  • 4
    -1. "Is there any source in Judaism that says an person can be born a polydactyl?" "Is there any source in Judaism that says a solar eclipse can occur at the full moon?" These are just not interesting questions without some reason we should think such a source might exist. (And I know you said this is being asked without reference to Christianity, but if it were with such reference that wouldn't help any: Christianity's claims per se aren't reason to think such a source exists, either.)
    – msh210
    Aug 18 '15 at 4:02
  • 1
    @msh210, is this really more out of line (aka ridiculous) than this one?
    – Seth J
    Aug 18 '15 at 13:37

Virgin birth in Rabbinic literature:

The Talmud already discusses it. E.g. in Chagiga 14b and 15a it discusses a virgin birth.

Specifically, is "the virgin" allowed to marry a Cohen Gadol - the high priest who can only marry a virgin.

?שאלו את בן זומא בתולה שעיברה מהו לכהן גדול‏

Bottom line (in that Gemara) is that she's considered a virgin, having probably become impregnated from semen from a warm bath.

וחיישינן שמא באמבטי עיברה


That Gemara does not discuss the kid's lineage, but it's assumed to be "father unknown" - Shtooki - I assume. Can't be a Mamzer since no illicit relationship was involved.

  • 1
    If a single woman has relations with a man the product isn't a "mamzer" unless that man is her father/son/brother/etc. ("Illegitimate" i.e. pagum, yes, but that's of no halachic consequence). So no this child would not be a mamzer.
    – Shalom
    Aug 18 '15 at 10:20
  • @Shalom or betrothed
    – jj2
    Aug 18 '15 at 15:50
  • @Hugh no. Modern-day "engagement", perhaps. But "betrothal" in Jewish law (trans. Erusin) happens when he's already given her a ring in front of witnesses declaring exclusivity, at which point anything else would be adultery.
    – Shalom
    Aug 18 '15 at 16:46
  • @Shalom that's the theoretical case I was originally asking on, i.e. kiddushin before nisuin etc.
    – jj2
    Aug 18 '15 at 19:29
  • @Hugh If a woman cheats with a Jewish man after kiddushin (doesn't matter whether nissuin happened or not), the resulting child is a mamzer. If she's artificially inseminated with a non-husband Jewish man's sperm, Rabbis Moshe Feinstein and Shlomo Zalman Auerbach say the result is not a mamzer; the Satmar Rebbe (Joel Teitelbaum) disagreed.
    – Shalom
    Aug 18 '15 at 19:44

Rabbinic Judaism assumes there is always a human biological father.

Again, the specific legal term mamzer doesn't mean "out of wedlock." It means "the product of two Jews whose union was adulterous or incestuous." (For certain categories of "incestuous.")

If a married pregnant becomes pregnant while her husband's been away at sea for over a year, we assume that there is a biological father who is not her husband.

(We give it up to one year; there are bell curves that show some fraction of a percentage of pregnancies [not necessarily viable ones] that can go up to that long.)

Absent any other information, though, the child would not have the specific laws of a mamzer: if a Jewish married woman has an affair with a non-Jewish man, the resulting child does not have the rules of a mamzer. That penalty was instituted specifically for the case where both biological parents were Jewish. In today's world it's more often likely the biological father is a non-Jew.

There's also discussion about the possibility of artificial insemination (the Talmud talks about the theoretical case where there was sperm in the bath water) or in-vitro fertilization. 20th Century rabbinic authorities debated whether a mamzer is generated by this scenario, if the mother was married and the sperm donor is a Jewish man not married to her. If a single woman gets artificially inseminated it's not a product of "adultery", so the child is again not a mamzer per se.

Absent any other information, we don't need to go there because maybe the biological father isn't Jewish.

Contemporary Jewish medical ethicists have discussed if we can prove via DNA that someone's biological parentage is a married Jewish woman and a specific Jewish man who wasn't her husband, would that give the child the status of mamzer or would we still allow for the possibility of artificial insemination / IVF. (Of course if we knew she'd undergone fertility treatments, a lab mix-up is certainly plausible.)

  • Source? See my answer for an opposite source. Aug 18 '15 at 8:39
  • @DannySchoemann sorry I don't see your answer
    – Shalom
    Aug 18 '15 at 8:47
  • @DannySchoemann which part are you challenging?
    – Shalom
    Aug 18 '15 at 8:47
  • I challenge "Rabbinic Judaism assumes there is always a human biological father." See my answer - posted after I wrote my comment to you. Aug 18 '15 at 8:54
  • 2
    @DannySchoemann artificial insemination is still "a human biological father." Sorry if my language was unclear.
    – Shalom
    Aug 18 '15 at 10:11

To preface: I know that you're not talking about ivf. But nevertheless, the reason given here still applies to your case, being that there's no giluy aroyos (illicit relations). No, the child isn't a mamzer being that a mamzer is only because of gilui aroyos. http://www.torahlab.org/family/article/invitro_fertilization/

Status of Child: The Mamzer Issue  It seems clear that the seed of a father fertilizing that of his wife presents no status questions for the child, even if the process takes place in an unnatural way. The questions arise however, with donor sperm. The first issue that comes to mind is that of a mamzer. Let us define the word. A married woman who has an affair with a Jewish man other than her husband is guilty of adultery. Any child from such a union is a mamzer. If a Jewish woman has an affair with a non-Jewish man, even though this is sinful behavior, the child is not considered a mamzer. Likewise, a child born out of wedlock is not a mamzer.  Suppose that a woman is impregnated by a Jewish man other than her husband, but through unnatural means such as A.I.D. (Artificial Insemination Donor). It would appear that we have all the ingredients of a mamzer; with the exception on one � sin. The Smak concludes that the mamzer is a result of the sin of gilui arayoth, uncovering the nakedness of a married woman. This is not an ethical consideration but a halachic one. A sin that carries the punishment of kares, excision, results in a child who is a mamzer. Most halachic experts agree with the Smak that an A.I.D. child is not considered a mamzer.

What I'm focusing on to answer the question is this:

It would appear that we have all the ingredients of a mamzer; with the exception on one � sin. The Smak concludes that the mamzer is a result of the sin of gilui arayoth, uncovering the nakedness of a married woman. This is not an ethical consideration but a halachic one. A sin that carries the punishment of kares, excision, (which is by illicit relations) results in a child who is a mamzer.

So in your case: no illicit relation so no mamzer

  • this isn't a question about artificial insemination. This is a question that suppose there is a woman betrothed to a man, and he (or anyone else to the mothers knowledge) didn't have relations with her. Is the child a mamzer?
    – jj2
    Aug 18 '15 at 5:29
  • @Hugh I know what you meant, I added a preface. It still answers your question
    – user613
    Aug 18 '15 at 5:32
  • so what is his status then? If no one knows who is father is (or in this case whether he has one), is he forbidden to marry like other children that don't know their father, or do they assume it was some sort of strange occurrence?
    – jj2
    Aug 18 '15 at 5:34
  • 1
    @Hugh If you know for sure that the child doesn't have a father, which of course if impossible, then he won't be. If you're not sure then you'd assume that the physical nature happened and he has a father and he's a mamzer. If you don't know if she had relations or ivf, (which is unlikely that you won't be able to prove she had ivf), then you'd go to a rav. Maybe he'd be safek mamzer. But the title of your question says virgin and your question says 'becomes pregnant without relations'
    – user613
    Aug 18 '15 at 5:39
  • 1
    "your case which doesn't exist, being that there's no giluy aroyos", really? See my answer for the Rabbinical opinion on this. Aug 18 '15 at 8:52

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