You are here:

Orthodox Judaism/Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 73b


QUESTION: Hi, I'm writing for clarification on Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 73b. According to the writing, I'm trying to figure out if a woman's virginity is lost at the time it comes in contact (simply touching) with the organ of a man, or is it officially lost when actual penetration occurs? I trying to understand the wording as best I can but I don't think I'm getting the actual conclusion of the dispute? Thank you

ANSWER: Hi Frank,

That particular dispute isn't quite talking about when a woman loses her virginity.
I don't think any of them feel that touching will make her lose her virginity.
The dispute is more about the terminology of "hara'ah" which means commencement of intercourse. The dispute is whether intercourse "begins" with the touching of the organs or does minimal penetration have to occur.

Hope this helps.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: And then lastly, what was there conclusion? Did intercourse begin with the touching of the other organs or does a minimal penetration need to occur? Does not the mere touching constitute a violation of the Torah (the actual Law) or only Rabbinic Law? Thank you for your help!

Hi Frank,

The Talmud here in Sanhedrin does not attempt to resolve this particular dispute. It just cites the dispute as a proof regarding the main unrelated discussion.
Regarding your second question whether the touching of organs is a Rabbinic or Biblical transgression, this is also a dispute among the Rishonim (12th century scholars).

Hope this helps. Sorry if I'm brief. This type of discussion is really beyond the scope of this forum!


Orthodox Judaism

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Tzvi Frank


As a scholar of Judaic Studies & Ethics for close to 25 years, I am happy to answer any of your questions regarding Jewish Law and its meaning as well as general Jewish philosophy. Thousands of years of Jewish religious scholarship teaches us to always ask questions. From the Talmud to this very day, scholars have been consistently questioning premises and concepts that exist in Jewish thought. Never be afraid to ask! The answer may change your life. I will not answer questions pertaining to Christianity or Jesus.


I have been a scholar of Jewish Studies & Ethics for close to 25 years and I have been responding to online questions for close to 10 years.

Have been published in numerous (Hebrew) Academic publications.

B.A. in Judaica Studies and Ethics.

©2017 All rights reserved.