Ketubot, Chapter One, Mishnah Three

 

Introduction

This mishnah discusses three types of women who don’t fit into the normal categories of virgin/non-virgin.  This is either because they have had sexual intercourse but didn’t lose their physical signs of virginity, or because they are not physically virgins, even though they never had intercourse.

 

Mishnah Three

When an adult has had sexual intercourse with a young girl, or when a small boy has had intercourse with an adult woman, or a girl who was injured by a piece of wood   — [in all these cases] their kethubah is two hundred [zuz], the words of Rabbi Meir.

But the Sages say: a girl who was injured by a piece of wood — her kethubah is a maneh.

 

Explanation

There are three women mentioned in this mishnah.  The first is a young girl who had intercourse with an adult man.  As we mentioned in yesterday’s mishnah, the Sages believed that if a girl has sexual intercourse before three, her hymen will regenerate when she gets older.  Therefore, when this girl gets older she will have her physical signs of virginity, even though she has had sexual intercourse.

The second woman is an adult woman who had sexual intercourse with a young boy.  According to the Sages a boy less than nine years old cannot have real intercourse, such that he causes a woman to lose her virginity.  Again, this woman has her physical signs of virginity, but she has had sexual intercourse. 

The third woman is called a “mukath etz”, literally translated as “hit by a stick”.  This refers to a woman who lost her hymen by something other than intercourse.  In our day we might say she went horseback riding.  This woman no longer has physical signs of virginity, but she has never had sexual intercourse.

According to Rabbi Meir, all three of these women receive a full ketubah.  According to Rabbi Meir in order to be considered a non-virgin a woman must have lost her physical signs of virginity through sexual intercourse. 

The Sages rule that the “mukath etz” does not receive a full ketubah.  The Sages seem to define “virginity” by physicality alone:  one who does not have her physical signs of virginity is not a “halakhic” virgin and does not receive a ketubah of 200 zuz. 

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