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What is the minimum age of marriage according to Jewish law?

by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg

  

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Our Sages state1 that "it is forbidden for one to marry off his daughter until she is an adult and says 'this is the one I want to marry.'"

It is forbidden for one to marry off his daughter until she is an adult and says 'this is the one I want to marry'!
In ancient (and not so ancient) times however, marriage was often-times celebrated at a rather young age. Although we do not follow this dictum, technically speaking, a girl may be betrothed the moment she is born, and married at the age of three.2 A boy may betroth and marry at the age of thirteen.3

Footnotes

  • 1. Talmud Kiddushin 41a.
  • 2. Shulchan Aruch, Even HaEzer 37:1.
  • 3. Shulchan Aruch, Even HaEzer 43:1.

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COMMENTS

appropriate age to get married

Posted by: Anonymous on Apr 20, 2005

WOW!!!! No Comments!!!

This seems contradictory

Posted by: Anonymous on Jan 11, 2006

First you cite the Talmud as saying that a woman can't marry until she is an "adult" and can choose her husband, then you go on to say that she can be offered for marriage at birth and be married by 3 years old. You need to explain why you hold differently from the Talmud in this respect.

Editor's Comment

There is the technical rule, and then there is the proper, practical, and wise thing to do. The Talmud, too, agrees that technically according to Torah law a girl can be married at a very young age, but the rabbis imposed a prohibition on such an unwise practice.

marriage

Posted by: Chava, Zefat, Holy Israel on Jan 14, 2006

With regard to the above comment.. We are now calling the Schulchan Aruch "unwise"..! Is this permitted? Or am I just being picky? Why would a law exist at all if rabbis can just go and "undo" them?

Editor's Comment

Perhaps at a certain time people were mature enough to marry earlier. The rabbis imposed their prohibition when they saw that this was no longer the case.

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