I know that the Torah explicitly forbids adultery and also forbids selling the services of one's daughter:

Lev 19:29  Do not prostitute thy daughter, to cause her to be a whore; lest the land fall to whoredom, and the land become full of wickedness.

But what about having sex with a prostitute. For example, is a Jewish man forbidden to have sexual relations with a foreign gentile prostitute?

My thought is that in the absence of birth control that it would be forbidden but I don't like to presume.

  • Are you asking about a Biblical ruling, or the technical practical Jewish law? Apr 13, 2018 at 0:03
  • I am hoping to find some explicit reference within the Torah (or really, anywhere in the TNK) but barring that, a ruling. My thought is that adultery was the big no-no, repeatedly explicitly denounced and I'm wondering if sexual relations that did not involve idolatry or impact the social structure have become taboo post-Torah.
    – Ruminator
    Apr 13, 2018 at 0:19
  • All biblical forbidden sexual unions are forbidden on both partners. (For instance, it's not like a woman who sleeps with her son is in the clear just because the verse phrased it as man sleeping with his mother. Same sorta thing here )
    – Double AA
    Apr 13, 2018 at 0:33
  • @Ruminator I had suspected as much. However, if you ask a plain question on this site about whether something is permissible or prohibited, you will likely receive an answer based on Jewish law (as you did), and that does not necessarily mean that it will be an explicit reference in the Tanach. Apr 13, 2018 at 0:35
  • However, note that some 'Peshat' commentaries to Deuteronomy 23:18 do explain the latter half of the verse as referring to such a prohibition. Apr 13, 2018 at 0:37

2 Answers 2


This is not allowed, as stated by the Rambam in Hilchos Ishus 1:4

קודם מתן תורה היה אדם פוגע אשה בשוק אם רצה הוא והיא נותן לה שכרה ובועל אותה על אם הדרך והולך. וזו היא הנקראת קדשה. משנתנה התורה נאסרה הקדשה שנאמר לא תהיה קדשה מבנות ישראל. לפיכך כל הבועל אשה לשם זנות בלא קידושין לוקה מן התורה לפי שבעל קדשה:

Before the Torah was given, when a man would meet a woman in the marketplace, and he and she desired, he could give her payment, engage in relations with her wherever they desired, and then depart. Such a woman is referred to as a harlot.

When the Torah was given, [relations with] a harlot became forbidden, as [Deuteronomy 23:18] states: "There shall not be a harlot among the children of Israel." Therefore, a person who has relations with a woman for the sake of lust, without kiddushin, receives lashes as prescribed by the Torah, because he had relations with a harlot.

  • 1
    Devarim 23:18 is not talking about prohibiting the business of prostitution. It is only prohibiting Jewish men and women from being prostitutes. And that is the limited scope of the Rambam quoted. That if a Jewish man uses the services of a Jewish prostitute, the man receives lashes. The Jewish prostitute has a much more severe judgement. If you are really going to address this question according to halacha, the subject of 'pilegesh' will need to be discussed. Apr 13, 2018 at 14:59

Interestingly enough, while you are subject to lashes for engaging in intercourse with a gentile prostitute, the Talmud permits eating at her table and drinking wine in her abode:(Avodah Zarah 70A)§" Rava says: In the case of a gentile prostitute, where Jews are dining at her table, the wine at the table is permitted. Granted, their passion for the sin of harlotry overwhelms their judgment". So visiting a foreign gentile prostitute appears to be permitted, provided you don't hire her services.

  • 2
    Maybe a bit "dangerous" revealing this info to the Jewish public ;-)
    – DanF
    Apr 13, 2018 at 14:00
  • 1
    It will certainly do wonders for the bottom line over at Mistress Alexandra's Kosher Steakhouse, Fine Kosher Winery and House of Zonut- 2/3 services approved by your LOR!!!, @DanF :) Apr 13, 2018 at 14:04
  • Please see my comment to aBochur's answer. You are both confusing Jewish prostitutes, called 'Kadesha' or 'Kadesh' according to the Torah with a non-Jewish prostitute called a 'Pilegesh'. Apr 13, 2018 at 15:03
  • 2
    @YaacovDeane to my understanding a "Pilegish" is not a prostitute at all, but rather a "concubine", an unmarried lover bound by certain restrictions (monogomy, waiting 3 months between lovers being the most notable) and, most importantly, she MUST be Jewish. The relationship is best described as "Marriage without Kidushin or Ketubah" though there are some who argue kidushin is required while a ketubah is forbidden. This is of course all entirely theoretical for most yehudim over the last 1000 years. Apr 13, 2018 at 15:13
  • @JoshK There was a lot of discussion of this subject among European Jewry before World War II, particularly in Amsterdam. This included the concept of non-Jewish prostitutes being scrupulous about Taharah, meaning mikvah. Apr 13, 2018 at 15:41

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