Keritot, Chapter Three, Mishnah Six



Today’s mishnah is a continuation of yesterday’s mishnah. There are more attempts to figure out how many transgressions a person can transgress with one act of intercourse.


Mishnah Six

1)      If one had relations with his mother-in-law he may thereby become guilty for [having relations] with his mother-in-law, his daughter-in-law, his brother’s wife, the wife of his father’s brother, his wife’s sister, a married woman, and a menstruant.   

2)      And so too, if one had intercourse with the mother of his father-in-law or of his mother-in-law.

3)      Rabbi Yohanan ben Nuri said: if one had intercourse with his mother-in-law he may thereby become guilty for [having relations] with his mother-in-law, the mother of his mother-in-law, and the mother of his father-in-law.   

a)      They said to him: all these three are the same name.



Section one: I’ll use some names for this one. Let’s say Lavan has sex with Leah his daughter and they have a daughter, Dina. Yaakov marries Dina, so that Leah is his mother-in-law and his wife’s sister. Leah marries Reuven, Yaakov’s son, and now Leah is his daughter-in-law. If Reuven dies or divorces her and then she marries Yaakov’s brother, she is now his brother’s wife. Then, after death or divorce, she marries Yaakov’s father’s brother, so she is his father’s brother’s wife. If she is married and a menstruant when Yaakov has relations with her, he is liable for seven hatats.

Section two: One can become liable for the same hatats if the woman is the mother of his father-in-law or the mother of his mother-in-law.

Section three: Eve has two daughters—Rachel and Leah and one son, Lavan. If Yaakov marries Rachel and Leah’s daughter and Lavan’s daughter, then Eve is his mother-in-law (Rachel’s mother), his mother-in-law’s mother-in-law (Leah’s daughter’s mother) and his father-in-law’s mother (Lavan, his father-in-law’s, mother). If you added these prohibitions to the previous scenario, you could come up with nine hatats (don’t try this at home!).

The other rabbis say that “mother-in-laws” are all one name, meaning that they are all one prohibition. This is because the prohibition of various types of mother-in-law’s is included in Leviticus 18:17: “Do not uncover the nakedness of a woman and her daughter; nor shall you marry her son’s daughter or her daughter’s daughter and uncover her nakedness: they are kindred, it is depravity.” Since they are all included in one verse if someone manages to have a woman who is all three at the same time, there is only one hatat for the “mother-in-law” prohibitions.