י״ב באדר ה׳תשע״ה (March 3, 2015)

Ketubot 29a-b: The Penalty for Rape

According to the Torah, in the event that a betula – a young woman who was a virgin – was seduced (mefuta) or raped (ones), if the father agrees, the perpetrator will be obligated to marry the girl. There also is a monetary payment that is made to the father (in the case of seduction it is only if the father chooses to refuse the possibility of marriage; in the case of rape it is in addition to the marriage, which the rapist will not be allowed to end by means of divorce). These rules, which appear in Sefer 22:15-16 and Sefer 22:28-29, are written in a succinct fashion, and many of the details and specifics are left for the Talmud to clarify.

The third perek of Massekhet Ketubot, which begins on our daf, focuses on these issues, and deals with such questions as:

  • Will these rules apply only to a na’ara betula, or should they be applied to a minor () and an adult (), as well?
  • Should the rules only apply when the girl has a father? What happens if she is an orphan?
  • Is the “right of refusal” only applicable in the case of seduction? Is that right only the father’s or does the girl also have the right to refuse?

The first Mishna in the perek lists women who will receive kenas (the penalty mentioned in the Torah) if she is raped or seduced, which includes even women who the perpetrator cannot marry, like a or an immediate relative. The Shiṭṭa Meḳubbeẓet points out that aside from the kenas discussed in the Mishna, a woman who was attacked will also receive other damages, like boshet (payment for embarrassment). These additional payments are not mentioned in the Mishna, whose author is basing his teaching on the passages in the Torah, which only specify kenas for the young woman who was raped. Nevertheless, like anyone who suffered personal harm at the hands of another, the rules of nezek (damages) will be applied to the rape victim, as well.