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Nidah 45

  • Question: The Mishnayos record several Halachos that apply to children who have become physically capable of having relations. The Mishnah of the nine-year-old boy states that if he has relations with an animal, it may not be brought as a Korban on the Mizbe'ach. If two men witnessed the act, the animal is stoned by Beis Din. These Halachos are not mentioned in the Mishnah of the three-year-old girl.

    The Gemara (Sanhedrin 55b) learns that these Halachos apply to girls as well. It is included in the phrase of the Mishnah that states that if she had forbidden relations with any of the Arayos listed in the Torah (including animals), they are killed. Why is the law of bestiality not stated explicitly in the Mishnah of the three-year-old girl as in the Mishnah of the nine-year-old boy?

  • Answer:
    1. TOSFOS (Sanhedrin 55b DH v'Chayavin) explains that there is another difference between the Mishnayos that reveals the answer to this Question. The phrase that states that if a man had relations with a three-year-old girl who was married to someone else, he is guilty (and killed), is unnecessary, since this, also, is one of the Arayos listed in the Torah. We must conclude then, that had the Mishnah only stated the latter phrase, we would not have expected animals to be included in the law stated in the Mishnah, since it deals with relations between humans. The seeming repetition leaves room for Chazal to include animals in the latter phrase. This is why it was not necessary to list explicitly that an animal that had relations with a three-year-old girl is killed. In the boy's Mishnah, however, there is no parallel to the phrase regarding adultery. Therefore it was necessary to specify the laws of animals explicitly, since they would not have been included in the other Arayos.

    2. ELIYAHU RABA (the Vilna Ga'on on the Mishnah) points out that the Gemara in Sanhedrin gives two reasons for killing the animal. Either it is killed because it caused the death of a person (Takalah), or to prevent the embarrassment created each time one is reminded of the sin by seeing the animal (Kalon). These reasons apply if the act was intentional or unintentional (Mezid or Shogeg). If the act was forced (Ones), the animal will not be killed, since there is no Takalah and no Kalon. (A forced act is not punishable with death, and if the person did nothing wrong, there is no embarrassment)

      The Gemara in Yevamos 33b states that a girl who is seduced is considered "forced". Since she is easily overtaken by physical sensations, she has no full control of her decision. A boy, however, does not have the same physical sensations. (Ein Kishui Ela l'Da'as - he has to arouse himself to feel titilating sensations). When a boy sins with an animal, it may be considered Mezid or Shogeg. There is at least Kalon. A girl is considered forced, and there is no Takala or Kalon; the animal is not killed.

      The Vilna Ga'on adds a stipulation that it might depend upon the girl's actions during the sin. The Gemara in Sanhedrin may refer to a girl who had no physical sensations before the act, and there is Kalon. Therefore the animal is killed.

    3. RA'AVAD differentiates between killing the animal and ruling that it may not be brought as a Korban. For example, if only one person witnessed the act, the animal is not killed. However, it is unfit for the Mizbe'ach, since a foul act was committed with it. (It becomes Ma'us or disgusting).

      If the animal receives pleasure from the sin, it is considered Ma'us. A boy younger than nine years old who is not Mazri'a will not give the animal pleasure. Only a boy older than nine will cause the animal to be killed and make it unfit for the Mizbe'ach. If the girl has relations with the animal, it will get the same pleasure whether she is older than three or not. If so, we find another case where the animal is not killed, but it is unfit for the Mizbe'ach, i.e. when the girl is less than three. Therefore the Mishnah does not list the Pesul Mizbe'ach, since the age of three does not change the law! Once this Halachah was left out, the law of killing the animal was also left out. The Gemara in Sanhedrin was left with the task of deriving the Halachah of killing the animal.


  1. THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE AGES OF MALE AND FEMALE PUBERTY OPINIONS:The Gemara asks, why it is that a girl reaches Halachic maturity sooner than a boy. The Gemara explains that "Binah Yeseirah Nitnah l'Nashim."

    1. The TOSFOS ha'ROSH explains this to mean that women are given Binah (understanding) earlier than men -- i.e., their mental capacity develops at a younger age.
    2. The RAMBAM (Perush ha'Mishnayos ad loc.) explains that women physically, and not just mentally, age faster than men (they have a shorter lifespan), and thus they also reach maturity sooner.
    3. The ROSH (Teshuvos, #16) explains that all of the Halachic indications of maturity are Halachos l'Moshe mi'Sinai (and thus there is no obvious, rational reason to explain why women reach maturity earlier than men).

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