Yevamot 59 - Wife for a High Priest

A High Priest has stricter requirements in the choice of this wife than a regular Kohen: not only he cannot marry a divorcee, but he can also not marry a widow, whether she was only engaged or actually married, or a mature girl. The Torah said, " He will take a wife in her virginity ." This is to emphasize initial virginity, at the age between twelve to twelve-and-half. However, Rabbi Elazar and Rabbi Shimon allow him to marry a girl older that that.

What is their respective logic? The first teacher (Rabbi Meir) interprets "her virginity" to strictly emphasize this initial maturity. However, the extra word "in" relaxes the law and tells us that only natural cohabitation makes her ineligible for the High Priest, but unnatural (anal) does not disqualify her.

On the other hand, Rabbi Elazar and Rabbi Shimon understand "virginity" as already denoting complete virginity. Then the next word "her virginity" relaxes the law and allows more mature age. Therefore, the third word, "in," again makes the law stricter and requires all her virginity to be extant, excluding unnatural (anal) intercourse, which accordingly disqualifies her.

Today, when there is no Temple and no High Priest, this discussion is largely theoretical.

Art: The Widow by Ramon Casas