Is there a discussion in the Talmud or Halacha about "בְּתוּלִים" or "בְּתוּלֵי בִתִּי" (Parashat Ki Teitzei / פרשת כי־תצא)?

Questions I have in regards to this passage, namely Devarim 22:17, which another post did not deal with:

וְהִנֵּה-הוּא שָׂם עֲלִילֹת דְּבָרִים לֵאמֹר, לֹא-מָצָאתִי לְבִתְּךָ בְּתוּלִים, וְאֵלֶּה, בְּתוּלֵי בִתִּי; וּפָרְשׂוּ, הַשִּׂמְלָה, לִפְנֵי, זִקְנֵי הָעִיר.

1.) If the term "בְּתוּלִים" or "בְּתוּלֵי בִתִּי" were not taken literally, where is there a discussion of such in the Talmud or Halacha?

2.) If "הַשִּׂמְלָה" was taken literally, which Jewish groups did this or do this?


There is absolutely a discussion, and our tradition reads it as figurative -- "they will show the proof clearly.", i.e. the husband produces witnesses claiming infidelity, but the bride's family shows those witnesses are false.

Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan's translation reads it according to the majority opinion in the Talmud, Kethuvoth 46a; which is codified by Maimonides, Naarah Bethulah 3:12.

22:14 He therefore invents charges against her, framing her and saying, 'I have married this woman and have consummated the marriage. But I have found evidence that she has not been faithful.' 22:15 The girl's father and mother, however, then obtain evidence of their daughter's virtue, and present it to the city elders in court.

There was a minority opinion in the Talmud, Ketubot 46a -- Rabbi Eliezer ben Yaakov -- who read it literally. I'm not aware if any Jewish court ever actually followed his opinion.

אמר רבי אבהו פרשו מה ששם לה כדתניא ופרשו השמלה מלמד שבאין עדים של זה ועדים של זה ובוררין את הדבר כשמלה חדשה רבי אליעזר בן יעקב אומר דברים ככתבן שמלה ממש Rabbi Abbahu said that the Rabbis interpret this expression as follows: They shall spread, i.e., examine, that which he placed against her [sam la]. In other words, they cross-examine the witnesses who testified against her, as it is taught in a baraita: “And they shall spread the garment”; this teaches that the witnesses of this husband come forward, and likewise the witnesses of that father come forward, and the court clarifies the matter like a new garment. Rabbi Eliezer ben Ya’akov says: The matters are as they are written, i.e., the verse refers to an actual cloth.

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