Is having intimate relations by a Non-Jewish man with a Non-Jewish woman who is not married but lives with a boyfriend a form of adultery?

  • Gemara kiddushin about yefat roar , perhaps dadf 22 outline that even if she is married the din yefat toar is correct. So there is a problem of marriage for a non jew woman
    – kouty
    Commented Dec 6, 2018 at 13:41
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    I'm voting to close as this question, if answered, could provide grounds for someone to sin. I think these questions should be directed towards a local Orthodox rabbi.
    – ezra
    Commented Dec 6, 2018 at 17:23
  • @ezra you should use the modesty/private close reason then.
    – Double AA
    Commented Dec 6, 2018 at 20:38
  • @kouty that is only if the man is jewish, see footnote 70 here sefaria.org/Mishneh_Torah%2C_Kings_and_Wars.8.3 and this sefaria.org/Mishneh_Torah%.9.5 וְדָבַק בְּאִשְׁתּוֹ" וְלֹא בְּאֵשֶׁת חֲבֵרוֹ.
    – hazoriz
    Commented Dec 16, 2018 at 12:50
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    @hazoriz see tosfot kiddushin 21b אשת אפילו אשת איש. ואע''פ דאין אישות בכותית כדאיתא פ' ד' מיתות (סנהדרין נב:) מ''מ איכא עשה דכתיב (בראשית ב) ודבק באשתו ולא באשת חבירו.:
    – kouty
    Commented Dec 16, 2018 at 13:35

3 Answers 3


Regardless, it's a despicable act, a breach of faith (assuming the couple had an understanding of monogamy), and very much wrong. Nathan the Prophet tells King David that he did a horrible thing to take away Batsheva from her husband, Uriah. Now in our tradition, it may not have been technically "adultery"; men going off to war often signed divorce papers in case they were never heard from again. But still -- if they had an understanding that they would be a couple if he came back alive, then for David to exploit that is absolutely wrong.

As for whether it is technically "adultery"? Basically we fall back on the Noahide definition of marriage (i.e. what applies to non-Jews) ... which is a little vague precisely because it does not depend on any ritual or outsiders.

Rambam, Marriages 1:1 writes that before the Torah was given (i.e. what was and is the law for non-Jews), "a man and woman could meet in the street, agree to wed, go home and have relations in private, and that's it -- husband and wife." Similarly in his Laws of Kings 9:12 he writes that if a non-Jewish man tells his wife -- get out, you're on your own, or if she just walks out the door on her own, she is now divorced -- no ceremony required -- and allowed to go find another man.

So short answer -- if the "boyfriend/girlfriend" couple still went home to their respective houses every night, they probably weren't considered to be married. If they shared a house ... well I would strongly assume that if they've been in such an arrangement for decades, had children, shared property, and it generally looked like "common-law marriage", just without papers -- well Jewish law would view them as married, papers or no papers.

As far as where exactly in-between would it be called marriage ... it's hard to say. (What's their Facebook status? :) )

  • 1. Why you're twisting Rambam? He says clearly if they both intended to marry, as long as they sleep without such intention that's not a marriage. 2. your last sentence says you don't know, so what's your answer about?
    – Al Berko
    Commented Dec 6, 2018 at 20:57
  • @AlBerko Shalom said explicitly "agree to wed". No twisting happened here.
    – Double AA
    Commented Dec 6, 2018 at 21:07

Even though such pratices (relations without intention of marriage) are not clearly forbbiden for bnei noah, this is a repugnant act, even if this is done in a provisional time. These are the words of the sefer Sheva mitzvot Hashem on the topic (See SMH, vol 2, Helek 6, 4:11).

  • How does that square with Rambam saying prostitution was perfectly allowable before Sinai?
    – Shalom
    Commented Dec 16, 2018 at 18:56
  • 'Not clearly forbidden' is fully in agreement with to what Rambam says. The 'repugnant' part is according to Ramban to Gen 2:24. Commented Dec 16, 2018 at 19:36
  • @RenatoGrun please empain i do not see anything regarding repungnant there sefaria.org/Ramban_on_Genesis.2.24.1
    – hazoriz
    Commented Dec 23, 2018 at 15:14
  • @hazoriz: It's pretty much there. Ramban says that engaging in relations with no emotional closeness towards a person without intention to marry does not differ from animal way of living. it's a wise way to say that this is a repugnant act and should be viwed as such. Commented Dec 23, 2018 at 22:08
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    @RenatoGrun what you say does not seem to be what the Ramban meant to say, to me it seems all he was doing is answering the question what is special by humans more than animans, humans usually have (as you say) "emotional closeness". To me it seems hard to claim that the Ramban here is hinting that something is repugnant
    – hazoriz
    Commented Dec 24, 2018 at 12:47

Here's a clarification on what is considered "marriage" for non-Jews to be liable for adultery. Rambam Ishut 1, 1:

"קודם מתן תורה היה אדם פוגע אשה בשוק אם רצה הוא והיא לישא אותה מכניסה לתוך ביתו ובועלה בינו לבין עצמו ותהיה לו לאשה."

Before the Torah was given, when a man would meet a woman in the marketplace and he and she decided to marry, he would bring her home, conduct relations in private and thus make her his wife.

So only relations after the mutual decision of getting married make non-Jews married. If either of them has no such intention this does not count a marriage at all no matter how long it lasts and how many kids they have. The very status of "in relations" or "being friends" says "no intention to marry".

If they call it a friendship - they treat it as a friendship, not marriage. If everybody knows that their relationships are a "friendship" they are not married. Once they start to call each other husband/wife - we'll rethink it all. A friend means there's no responsibility to one another - Marriage means responsibility!

This is the reason they have a ceremony in which they both express their intention to marry. Without such a ceremony, the relations alone are not sufficient.

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    There doesn't seem to be any reason they need to use the English word marriage to describe their relationship. Any or at least many committed exclusive relationships should work, no matter what it's called.
    – Double AA
    Commented Dec 6, 2018 at 21:27
  • i agree to Double AA "he and she decided to marry" means that they agree that she will only have relations with him and no one else, if this agreement was consummated with relations (k'darko) they are considered married (even if they call it boyfriend/girlfriend and not marriage)
    – hazoriz
    Commented Dec 16, 2018 at 5:04
  • @hazoriz And what's your source for that? If they intentionally don't call it marriage - why should we? How do you understand that Rambam?
    – Al Berko
    Commented Dec 16, 2018 at 11:16
  • @AlBerko what do you mean "they intensionaly did not call it marrige", if you mean that they have an "open relationship" then i agree to you that it is not marriage (even if they legaly are married (similar to how 2 woman who are lagally married to each other are not considered married)) BTW if they have a clossed relationsip (for the wife) then even legally they might be considered married it is called "common law marriage". What is not clear in my previus comment it seems to clearly explain my understanding of the rambam
    – hazoriz
    Commented Dec 16, 2018 at 12:27
  • @hazoriz the question stated clearly "boyfriend" - that's how they call each other. Period. They call it a friendship, they treat it as a friendship, not marriage. If everybody knows that their relationships are a "friendship" they are not married. Once they start to call each other husband/wife - we'll rethink it all. A friend means there's no responsibility to one another. Marriage means responsibility!
    – Al Berko
    Commented Dec 16, 2018 at 13:39

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