The Torah Revealed: Talmudic Masters Unveil the Secrets of the Bible

By Avraham Yaakov Finkel | Go to book overview

49
Torah Portion
Ki Teitzei
Deuteronomy 21:10–25:19

THE BEAUTIFUL FEMALE CAPTIVE

(21:11) When you wage war against your enemies, and you see a beautiful woman among the prisoners and desire her, you may take her as a wife. When you bring her into your home, she must shave her head and let her fingernails grow.


The Talmud Teaches

she must shave her head and let her fingernails grow Literally: “she shall do her nails.” What is meant by “She shall do her nails”? R. Akiva said: She should let them grow. From where does he derive that? He explains: An action—that is, the act of shaving her hair—was mentioned regarding the head, and an action—“doing something”—was mentioned regarding the nails. Just as the purpose of shaving her hair is to make her unattractive, so that the soldier gives up the idea of marrying her, so too the purpose of “doing” her nails is to make her unattractive, for ungroomed nails are distasteful (Yevamot 48a).

(21:13) She must take off her captive's garb and remain in your house a full month, mourning for her father and her mother. Only then may you be intimate with her and possess her, making her your wife.


The Midrash Teaches

her captive's garb This teaches us that she takes off her fine clothing and puts on a widow's dress. The Canaanite girls used

-306-

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