Ketubot 6 - Virgin on Shabbat

Shmuel holds that one may not cohabit with his virgin bride on Shabbat. How does this agree with other rules in the Talmud?

For example, the well-known first rules in the beginning of the Talmud talk about reading the Shema prayer at night . There we mentioned that a bridegroom is exempt from saying Shema - because he is worried about upcoming cohabitation with his bride, being not sure if he will succeed in rupturing her hymen and complete the act of cohabitation - and this exemption lasts until the end of Shabbat . This must prove to us that cohabitation with his bride is permitted on Shabbat, contrary to what Shmuel has said!?

Abaye answered: the groom is worried that the the previous night he did not complete the cohabitation, and this upsets him to the point that he can't say Shema. However, if so, then even if his ship is drowning in the sea, he should likewise not say the Shema - and this already is not true. We know that even if one is a mourner, and thus is aggravated a lot, he only skips the tefillin, but still says the Shema.

Rava defended in a different way: there are two versions of the earlier Shema ruling, and in one of them he indeed says the Shema on Friday night, while in another he does not. Thus, Shmuel has at least one source to rely upon - one which permits the reading of Shema - because the cohabitation on Shabbat is prohibited, and he anyway has nothing to worry about. The Talmud then discusses methods of penetration which leave the hymen intact, and how this relates to the guarding of the bridal sheets.

Art: The Bridegroom's Health by Otto Erdmann