Adultery in the Jewish Religion
29 SEP 2017
Adultery, along with idolatry and murder, is one of the three great sins in the Jewish faith. Jewish scripture condemns individuals who violate the sacred bonds of marriage and have sexual intercourse outside of marriage. Traditionally the punishment for adultery was death for both the man and woman, but, obviously, modern followers of Judaism no longer practice this punishment.
The Jewish faith characterizes adultery as any sexual relationship between a married woman and any man other than her husband, but modifications to the Talmud further extend the definition of adultery to women who carry on intimate relationships with men against the wishes of her husband. According to Jewish scripture, relationships between married men and single women do not technically constitute adultery. However, modern interpretations of Jewish law no longer recognize a genderdistinction in adulterous relationships.
The Jewish religion does provide a few exceptions under which the faith tolerates adultery. Traditionally, if a husband already suspected his wife of adultery, he could divorce his wife, which would provide sufficient moral protection for a relationship with another woman. In the case of the woman, situations where she was coerced or forced into adultery, or occasions where she mistook the other man for her husband are not adulterous, because the woman was not exercising free will.
Jewish scripture also contains teachings about the offspring of adulterous relationships. In traditional Jewish law, such offspring are referred to as "mamzer", and the Jewish faith prohibits their marriage into the Jewish community. However, according to an essay by the Rabbi Ronald H. Isaacs, Reform and Resconstructionist movements within the Jewish faith no longer accept or apply this concept, and Orthodox and Conservative movements usually avoid applying it whenever possible.
In modern Judaism, one of the most common responses to adultery is divorce. However, the type of adultery that necessitates divorce is rare and requires one partner to have warned the other, and evidence of the adultery must have been witnessed by a third party. In situations where one partner suspects his spouse of adultery, but has no proof, the Jewish faith does not require a divorce, though he still has the right to divorce.