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Why we refuse to believe certain abominations in Jewish law

Why people have a hard time believing the abominations of religious edicts – and why Qarim retracted his

My post dealing with Rabbi Colonel Eyal Qarim and his implied justification of rape during wartime received a large number of shocked and enraged comments, and for a simple reason. Most Jews living today – in Israel and in the diaspora – are unfamiliar with Jewish texts. It’s understandable: they are written in an archaic and often unintelligible language, and require command of ancient Hebrew, Aramaic, and enough knowledge of the Bible to allow you to speedily identify quotations that were perfectly understood by the ancient writers but are basically terra incognita to the modern reader. This is not a coincidence: like the medieval clergy, the rabbis did not want their texts to be available for everyone. Control over jargon also grants you some measure of power.

Judaism was never properly secularized, i.e. its holy texts and holy men did not get the treatment that organized religion got in Western Europe, which was a thorough evisceration and public mocking. Those texts were written mostly in a barbaric period by ignorant people, fuelled by the hatred of mankind which is endemic to certain strands of rabbinical Judaism. As a result, some of those texts are truly monstrous, and no one wants to believe that part of one’s cultural heritage, even if he has never cracked open the books, is a living abominations.

“A Comely Woman” is a case in point. A large number of the English readers refused to believe that the question referred to Qarim actually dealt with rape; yet it did. As can be seen in the original (Hebrew), the word “rape” (אונס) appears four times in the text. Naturally, Qarim – being a rabbi – preferred to avoid the term, and used “fraternization” instead; however, the word was in the original.

Many of the comments automatically retreated to the classic Orthodox theodicy: this isn’t rape, but taking the captive into the warrior’s house, and in any case it’s a humanistic law for its time. Let’s assume for the sake of the argument that, for the Iron Age, this is the case. But Qarim replied to a question which explicitly asked whether this law is applicable to IDF soldiers today.

This theodicy is, as usual, evasion and lies. Here is how Maimonides – the so-called greatest Jewish sage, who lived in the 12th century – described the process (Hebrew): “And so he may have intercourse with a gentile woman, if the urge seizes him. But he should not have intercourse and abandon her, but he should put her into his house […] and he may not have intercourse with her a second time, until he marries her.” My emphasis. So, we have a first rape – you can’t seriously speak of consent here – which may be followed by a second one.

Maimonides further writes that “a Cohen is permitted to have intercourse the first time, since the Torah spoke about against the urge; but may not marry her afterwards, since she is a convert.” My emphasis. That is, a Cohen – a member of the ancient order of priesthood – may rape a prisoner, but not marry her, since he is supposed to keep himself especially pure. His purity is not imperiled by the rape, but rather by the marriage, since it is a Halachic precept that all gentile women are prostitutes.

The whole chapter is worth reading, assuming you read Hebrew or can get your hands on a reliable translation. Chapter 11 is of particular interest: “A comely woman who was unwilling to abandon paganism after 12 months, is to be killed.” It is highly pertinent that Qarim’s questioner is familiar with the law, and is shocked by it: “Therefore, rape during war is considered a shocking thing. How, then, could I be told by a rabbi that some of the rabbis say that a comely women is [permitted to have sex with] even before the whole process detailed in the Torah? That is, that he will surrender to his urges and bed her, and only afterwards take her to his house etc.?”

Such things are incomprehensible today, and hence honest men either agonize over them or try to repress them. Yet another monstrous ruling by Maimonides says (Hebrew) “but an Israelite who has intercourse with a gentile woman, be she of three years and one day of age or an adult, unmarried or married, even if he [the Jew – YZG] was just nine years and one day, since he had intercourse with a gentile with malice aforethought, she is to be killed; since she caused Israel trouble, as if she was a beast of burden.” My emphasis. This text is a favorite of mine, since it shows the monstrosity of some Jewish laws in the starkest light possible. Yet people refused to believe it. They claim I either made it up or mangled the text. And the real problem is the Talmud, which is so dense with abominations, that when it is now being translated into Arabic, experts complain this is “part and parcel of the expansion of anti-Semitism into the Arab world.”

The relative honest people repress this; they cannot contain the horror. There are, on the other hands, those who are less honest – and the Orthodox are prominent among them. They have to defend their belief system, after all.

Two days ago, shortly after posting the original post, I received a phone call from someone who claimed to be employed by the Military Rabbinate. He sent me a text, which he said was written on behalf of Col. Qarim. I told him since I had no way of verifying this is indeed the case, I can’t publish it; I asked for official, on-the-record confirmation that it was indeed written either by Qarim or his aides. Soon afterwards, I was contacted by someone who presented himself a senior officer in Qarim’s office, and I repeated that I am willing to publish it – if it is on record and if they give me proof that they are indeed acting on Qarim’s behalf; the correct military stamp would do.

About two hours later, I was informed that the much of the text sent to me was published in the same religious site which published the original ruling nine years ago, under the headline “a leftist provocation tries to claim rape in wartime is justified by Jewish law” (Hebrew). Later yesterday, Qarim published – under his own name – an official “clarification.” (Hebrew) It claims that he was “quoted out of context.” This is not true: Qarim was explicitly asked about rape, and he answered in the affirmative.

Now, when the media is breathing down his neck. Qarim says the following:

It is obvious that the Torah never permitted raping a woman. The Comely Woman ruling is intended to make the soldier retract his intention of marrying the prisoner, by a series of actions which diminish her beauty and put the emphasis on her personality and grief. If, by the end of the process, he still wishes to marry her, he is obligated to do so by the usual legal manner.

In addition, the whole essence of the ruling was to soften the situation in the barbaric world of the time, when a soldier might have done what he wished with a captive, and the goal of the ruling is to prevent the soldier from taking the captive as wife during the storm of battle. It is clear that in our times, when the world has progressed to a level of morality when captives are not taken as wives, this ruling is certainly not to be acted on, particularly as it is completely contrary to the ethics and the orders of the military.

None of which appeared in Qarim’s original ruling. Qarim also keeps avoiding the fact that the Comely Woman law allows a first rape before the whole process of grief begins. He also refuses to acknowledge that he was answering a question about rape in modern wartime. In short, Qarim decided he preferred being seen publicly as a bumbler than as an inciter to war crimes. This is probably the result of some not-so-gentle pressure from the IDF. It is also worth noting that Qarim implicitly admits that the Western rules of war are superior to those of Jewish law. That’s not something you hear every day from an Orthodox rabbi. Perhaps one day Qarim will realize there is no such thing as “marrying a captive” that isn’t rape.

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    1. Klang

      Judaism was never properly secularized, i.e. its holy texts and holy men did not get the treatment they got in Western Europe, which was a thorough evisceration and public mocking….Actually Judaism got a pretty severe treatment in Eastern Europe too, ie Auschwitz, Treblinka, Belzec. If you want to exclude WWII, you could include the Chmielnicki massacres of 1648, the Pale of Settlement, and all the pogroms, concluding with Kishinev (1904). Finally, you could include the Beilis trial of 1911 in Russia, in which it was confirmed that Jews use gentile blood for Matzah. Especially timely given that Pesach is next week

      Reply to Comment
      • Nemo

        That is not related to what the text says. That weas an intent to exterminate jews on the part of non-jewish europeans. It wasn’t a secularization of jewishness from jewish society. As a result jewish society has a level of religiosity and “non-universalism” uncharacteristic of the western world… part of the reason why Israel has a military rabbinate and a chief rabbinate. Imagine the USA having an official “Military priestdom” and a “Chief priestdom”.

        Reply to Comment
    2. Bill Pearlman

      “The hatred of mankind is endemic to Judaism” That’s a big statement. I didn’t catch that one in Hebrew school when I was a kid but maybe I was dozing off.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Some people believe that the Christian Bible teaches that “the Jews” killed Jesus. Well, I don’t know if many of today’s Christians discover this “teaching” in the Bible, but some of them seem to have been taught this way, and many Jews have had no difficulty complaining about it and shouting “Anti-Semitism!!” and otherwise trying to get the document changed (like PLO charter?) or, failing that, to get this “teaching” removed from the official canon.

      OK. fair is fair. Let the Christians, Muslims, and, yes, Jews, who object to this ancient Jewish teaching about RAPE complain of Jewish religious anti-Goyism and shout it from roof-tops!

      This stuff should be printed in every language until Jews are so embarrassed by it that they [1] admit it was indeed ancient teaching and [2] denounce it and repudiate it for today.

      Israel Shahak tried to tell the world about some of these “secret” or “encoded” teachings and was shouted down, and he a Jew! SHAME IN ISRAEL for returning (for inspiration) to the STONE AGE.

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    4. I didn’t catch that one in Hebrew school when I was a kid but maybe I was dozing off.

      I wouldn’t be surprised. You are familiar with the ruling that “You [the Jews] are called human, but they [the gentiles] are not”?

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    5. Bill Pearlman

      Klang is right. I would say that rabbis, Torahs, Talmuds, and your basic rank and file Jew got a pretty thorough evisceration all through Europe. But then again Judaism does hate mankind. So I guess they had it coming.

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    6. Arad

      Yossi, let’s agree that our aim is not to make religious Jews disavow their faith, but pressure them to clean up the Jewish Halacha of all the racist and immoral filth. As you implicitly admit when you talk about how Christianity was “secularized”, it is possible to make one’s religion better.

      As we all know, today’s Rabbis cannot contradict what Rabbis of previous ages said, but they can reinterpret them. And the Rabbis over the ages did reinterpret Halacha to make it more enlightened. I’ve read the replies by religious Jews who are familiar with the text, and most of them read it differently from what it sounds like to us, no doubt due to them growing up on more enlightened interpretations. So it is not entirely fair that you accuse them of repressing or lying. I think our discussion with them should be more understanding.

      It’s good that you brought it up. Qarim’s reply was shameful, his clarification unsatisfactory, and the way the Kippa website handled it was despicable. But it’s partly because you pushed them into a defensive position.

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    7. OK, Pearlman, if that is your real name, you managed to get yourself banned from this channel.

      Reply to Comment
    8. Bill Pearlman

      Take the stick out of your ass. I sign my name.

      Reply to Comment
    9. aristeides

      Pearlman claims to be a Jew, but this can’t be true, because his name isn’t a proper Jewish name – “Bill.” He also, I believe, lives in the US, and rabbis have declared that no one can live outside Israel and be truly a Jew.


      Reply to Comment
    10. Abigail

      I don’t think it is fair to say there is something inherent in Judaism which contributes to the current political problems of Israel. I would point you to very serious thinkers who based their thought in Judaism like Yeshayahu Leibowitz, or Martin Buber, who frankly, were much more progressive and radical than the lame secular humanism which has failed to bring peace until now. Ultra-orthodox Yehuda Meshi-Zahav, the chairman of ZAKA, has launched a program to include Muslims and Christians in their emergency response program noting that “Every dialogue without actual action doesn’t have a future”. All the while secular humanist peace activists are content to have yet another transformative interpersonal dialogue which only strokes egos of activists. Like every text, Jewish texts are how you read them and what you do with them. It’s in the hands of real people; the evil is in Qarim, not in the Torah.

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    11. Sherri Munnerlyn

      To Pabelmont,

      You speak of some Christians who believe Jews killed Jesus, yes, we believe it because our Christian Bible tells us that is exactly what happened. Having said this, I just want to say this does not speak of how Christians are to see Jews today. Jesus was Himself a Jew, Yeshua, as well as God. That is Christian’s viewpoint. And His command to Christians, Jesus command, is to love one another, He said “I give you a new command, love one another as I have loved you.” His life was the example to follow, He did not hate Jews, He loved them, and He certainly does not call Christians to hate Jews.

      Here is one Bible verse about Jews killing Jesus.

      “14 For you, brothers and sisters, became imitators of God’s churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own people the same things those churches suffered from the Jews 15 who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out. They displease God and are hostile to everyone 16 in their effort to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. In this way they always heap up their sins to the limit. The wrath of God has come upon them at last.[b]”

      1 Thessalonians 2

      http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1 Thessalonians+2&version=NIV

      Reply to Comment
    12. Lauren

      As a Christian who spent years in church, I have never been taught that Jews killed Jesus. It was acknowledged that Jesus was a Jew and that other Jewish leaders aided in the murder, so did the Romans. I never had a clue that Jews were to be hated for killing our Lord.
      I will say that I learned about how loving, tolerant and compassionate Jesus was. If anything, we are taught to follow Jesus’ path.
      I prefer to follow his teachings and pass by what I consider hate speech.

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    13. Cortez

      Abigail”I don’t think it is fair to say there is something inherent in Judaism which contributes to the current political problems of Israel. I would point you to very serious thinkers who based their thought in Judaism like Yeshayahu Leibowitz, or Martin Buber, who frankly, were much more progressive and radical than the lame secular humanism which has failed to bring peace until now.”
      I totally agree with this. Jewish law and ideals if applied correctly could and would’ve solve or at least abate many of Israel’s political problems. I point to Zionism, as a form of failed European colonialism and as a corruption of Judaism, as the fire the fuels Israel’s problems. I think Buber had the closest idea for a beneficial solution that incorporates Zionism, but even though his idea of binational state was bit racist and based in myth. But it was a start.

      Reply to Comment
    14. Sherri Munnerlyn

      To Lauren,

      Thessalonians is a book in the Christian Bible, the New Testament, it is a Letter from the Apostle Paul to the Thessalonians, and I provided the words written in that Bible verse. I guess Christians all choose whether to believe the words written in their Bibles or not believe them, and sometimes we struggle to interpret and understand the meaning of what is written, too.

      But, again, as I said, there certainly is not a command any place for Christians to hate Jews, or anyone else, for that matter. And I was never taught to hate Jews, as a Baptist living in a Southern state in the US.

      And about Jesus death, it was God’s will that it occurred, so feeling any hate over it, towards any person, Roman or Jew, who was involved with his death, would seem misguided and pointless to me. Actually, I would call it a sin.

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    15. klang

      Dear Yossi
      You derive a story by finding an obscure rabbi whose teachings you disagree with. However, if the IDF was truly raping Palestinian women, it would sweep Trayvon Martin and the Syria situation off the front pages of the New York Times and the Guardian. Thus, you provide no evidence of the influence of this rabbi. However, a student at Hebrew U published a prizewinning essay below calling the IDF racist for NOT raping Palestinian women. Therefore the IDF is racist for raping Palestinian women (no evidence provided for actual rape) and is racist for NOT raping Palestinian women (see below). Yossi, please explain it to me. This dumb person is confused

      A research paper that won a Hebrew University teachers’ committee prize finds that the lack of IDF rapes of Palestinian women is designed to serve a political purpose.

      The abstract of the paper, authored by doctoral candidate Tal Nitzan, notes that the paper shows that “the lack of organized military rape is an alternate way of realizing [particular] political goals.”

      The next sentence delineates the particular goals that are realized in this manner: “In the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it can be seen that the lack of military rape merely strengthens the ethnic boundaries and clarifies the inter-ethnic differences – just as organized military rape would have done.”

      The paper further theorizes that Arab women in Judea and Samaria are not raped by IDF soldiers because the women are de-humanized in the soldiers’ eyes.

      The paper was published by the Hebrew University’s Shaine Center, based on the recommendation of a Hebrew University professors’ committee headed by Dr. Zali Gurevitch.

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    16. aristeides

      You’ve got a “holy” text with a tribal deity that orders its warriors to commit serial genocide. What more do you need?

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    17. Matan Lurey

      Here is the original text of the article before Yossi changed it without notice:


      (Newest version says ‘to certain strands of rabbinical’)

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    18. Klang is comparing apples to oranges. Jews and Judaism being vilified by members of another equally irrational faith has nothing to do with secularization. Secularization is when the people themselves reject theology in favor of rationalism.

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    19. “by finding an obscure rabbi”

      #2 military chaplain, in charge of all religious law and teaching in the military is “obscure”? Good to know.

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    20. Sherri Munnerlyn

      Some are downplaying here words of one “obscure rabbi.” But, a few Christian clerics/preachers and a letter they signed, that was presented to a US President, “the Land letter,” may have been what led to a war the US initiated that killed over 1 million Iraqis. And how ashamed am I of this, that the man who wrote that letter, Richard Land, was a representative of the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Christian Protestant organization in the US, that my own church is associated with. Sometimes, when one has visions of blood on their hands, that never goes away, like the Prophet Isaiah did, there is a reason for it.

      “Dear Mr. President,

      In this decisive hour of our nation’s history we are writing to express our deep appreciation for your bold, courageous, and visionary leadership. Americans everywhere have been inspired by your eloquent and clear articulation of our nation’s highest ideals of freedom and of our resolve to defend that freedom both here and across the globe.

      We believe that your policies concerning the ongoing international terrorist campaign against America are both right and just. Specifically, we believe that your stated policies concerning Saddam Hussein and his headlong pursuit and development of biochemical and nuclear weapons of mass destruction are prudent and fall well within the time-honored criteria of just war theory as developed by Christian theologians in the late fourth and early fifth centuries A.D.

      First, your stated policy concerning using military force if necessary to disarm Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction is a just cause. In just war theory only defensive war is defensible; and if military force is used against Saddam Hussein it will be because he has attacked his neighbors, used weapons of mass destruction against his own people, and harbored terrorists from the Al Qaeda terrorist network that attacked our nation so viciously and violently on September 11, 2001. As you stated in your address to the U.N. September 12th:

      “We can harbor no illusions. . . . Saddam Hussein attacked Iran in 1980 and Kuwait in 1990. He’s fired ballistic missiles at Iran and Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Israel. His regime once ordered the killing of every person between the ages of 15 and 70 in certain Kurdish villages in Northern Iraq. He has gassed many Iranians and forty Iraqi villages.”

      Disarming and neutralizing Saddam Hussein is to defend freedom and freedom-loving people from state-sponsored terror and death….

      Please know that we join tens of millions of our fellow Americans in praying for you and your family daily.

      Sincerely Yours,

      Richard D. Land, D.Phil.
      Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission
      Southern Baptist Convention

      Dr. Chuck Colson
      Prison Fellowship Ministries

      Dr. Bill Bright
      Founder and Chairman
      Campus Crusade for Christ International

      D. James Kennedy, Ph.D.
      Coral Ridge Ministries Media, Inc.

      Dr. Carl D. Herbster
      American Association of Christian Schools”


      Reply to Comment
    21. Bill Pearlman

      Phil and his boys must be on this one like a pit bull for you to come up that one.

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    22. Mary Hughes Thompson

      In Catholic school I was never told “Jews killed Jesus.” But it was certainly Jews who turned him over to the Romans because they (Jews) considered him a trouble maker. So I consider Jews were at least partly responsible for his death. But I don’t really care if Jews killed him or not, and I don’t understand why we’re supposed to pretend it didn’t happen. It was a long time ago, and I’m not one to hold a grudge. I’m a lot more concerned about the crimes Israel is committing today against the Palestinians.

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    23. Shua Frazer

      I’m glad Yossi took the time to point out some of this troubling rhetoric from a rabbi. As someone who considers myself religious (but far left politically .. don’t ask) I’ve often been confronted and felt uncomfortable with some of the teachings of people who are to my right religiously.

      It might not mean much coming from an obscure law student like myself, but I don’t see anything inherent in the way I was raised to practice Judaism that would contribute to the problems the Israeli government finds itself mired in. Then again, I was raised in a super progressive household in the 1990s, so maybe the way my siblings and I were taught to interact with Judaism is just as much a product of our upbringing?

      For what it’s worth I figured I’d throw my two cents in.

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    24. Sherri Munnerlyn

      To Bill Pearlman, Man using God to justify his bad acts, like rape and wars that massacre civilians, there is nothing funny about of that. Certainly, there is nothing in all of that to justify your flippant comments.

      Reply to Comment

      When the author makes statements such as “hatred of mankind which is endemic to certain strands of rabbinical Judaism”, it is obvious that hatred of Judaism is endemic to HIM and his likes. When the author states that a certain text is his favorite because it allegedly shows “monstrosity of some Jewish laws”, he reveals himself a shameless hater of Judaism who is utterly incapable of honest and objective inquiry. If it’s so horrible why is it a favorite? Is he salivating at the opportunity to embarrass not only religious Jews, but Jews as a whole? And why be objective when you can be politically correct?
      Let’s make one thing clear. The author is not a rabbi, he has no authority to interpret Jewish texts. Only a genuine Jewish scholar like Rabbi Karim is in a position to do so. Of course Rabbi Karim’s interpretation is not acceptable to the author because it demolishes the notion of “monstrosity of some Jewish laws.” Leftist provocation indeed.

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    26. Piotr Berman

      To be fair to Judaism, theologians try to at least pretend to maintain continuity from “forever” and yet they have to decide which ancient moral choices do no longer apply. 3000 years ago two the role of women in the area was roughly:

      a. chattel of the family, passed from father to husband, or

      b. a slave.

      It is kind of implicit that “rape” was sexual intercourse forced upon a women that was not in the possession of the perpetrators. Rape of wife or slave was an oxymoron. Women that were spoils of war were slaves.

      In two Biblical passages a righteous man tries to save a guest from the lust of his neighbors by offering his daughter to be raped. No comments on what daughters thought about that magnanimity.

      I suspect that even most conservative Jewish scholars would not recommend to follow that example.

      At times of Maimonides slavery was very much alive. And while Jewish clerics clearly figured out that one should not revive slavery, they seem to be thoroughly confused about the women. Do rebetzim sing to their husbands and is it as arousing as we are lead to believe?

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    27. Adam

      Gentiles and Jews together are called Bnei Adom or Ha Adom: Mankind.

      Adom alone is “Man” and is used in one or two Biblical verses that refer only to Jews. When the Talmud discusses those verses, it says “Adom” refers to Jews, which Gurvitz is rendering as “You [the Jews] are called human, but they [the gentiles] are not.”

      These sort of misreadings are not shared by the Jewish people but are shared by Yossi Gurvitz and American antisemites of the 1920s, who disseminated them in a famous tract called “The Talmud Unmasked” that still exists today.

      (And Gurvitz’ changing the text of the article without telling the readers is not journalistically ethical. He changed “endemic to Judaism” to “endemic to certain strands of rabbinical Judaism.”)

      Reply to Comment
    28. Sherri Munnerlyn

      I am not Jewish, but the inability of people to face uncomfortable truths about their heritage, their ancestors, their religions, is universal. It leads to groups of people, for example, in censoring posts on websites where uncomfortable truths are addressed. To be specific, certain websites simply do not allow fair criticism of Israel, they simply ban it, they censor your posts, they threaten you with suspensions or being banned. Sometimes, it just seems easier to run away from the truth, rather than face it, and try to ban it, too, I think this explains that behavior.

      This is something that changed my world, it was a prayer I prayed about 7 or 8 years ago, perhaps earlier. I prayed, God, help me to see the truth around me, no matter how painful that truth is. I prayed this because I do not want to buy into lies and deceptions and truth is what I want. Be careful what you pray for, there is pain in some of these places prayers may take us. God answered my prayers, He showed me the most painful things happening in the world, the 2006 war between Israel and Lebanon, where over 1000 were killed in Lebanon, over 90% were civilians. For 34 days, bombs rained down on civilians all over Southern Lebanon, for 34 days straight civilians were targeted, injured, and killed. And the human rights groups investigated and issued reports finding Israel committed war crimes, the same way the human rights groups regularly issue reports about Israel’s war crimes in the OPT, for the past 64 years. People of conscience in our world make a choice, do they stay silent in the face of the humans rights abuses or do they speak out against them.

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    29. sh

      We don’t refuse to believe them Yossi. “We” – whoever you were referring to – always saw those abominations in historical context rather than as hard and fast rules. Sensible orthodox Jews have been learning but not necessarily doing everything the Talmud says for centuries. Besides those who used their own loaves, there were always respected rabbis to interpret them in ways that amounted to workarounds and anyway, it was all theoretical. It is in Israel that we find schools and yeshivot that apply what would have been considered unacceptable by previous generations of pious Jews and wish to put into practice what had long been shelved. Aside from Talmudic abominations, I understand that red heifers are being researched (with help from our knowledgeable and wealthy non-Jewish friends) to find the correct genetic makeup that will make it possible to conduct services in a Third Temple (which must suddenly, according to them, be erected BEFORE the Messiah arrives). Also, couldn’t help notice the sudden appearance of a blue thread in tzitzit a few years ago, the dye recipe for which we and countless previous generations were told had long been lost. (That’s google for ya!)
      None of this region’s religions is likely to be replaced by secular reasoning anytime soon, for a simple reason: a majority of its inhabitants is religious, superstitious, whatever you want to call it. Instead of throwing baby out with bathwater, best to learn to live with that fact by calling out those who respect letter over spirit. By preferring to give nutjobs their heads here, it is successive governments, not religion itself, that created this mess. Those who help us out of it may well be religious themselves. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=orc_-mXZu5w

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    30. Sarah

      Give me a break! You misquoted the question and answer in your first article, and now you’re ridiculing his necessary explication in response to your first set of lies. Most of us familiar with Torah and Talmud and their application today understand perfectly well that rape of captives is permitted, and your twisted pilpul to make it sound otherwise is disingenuous if not outright mendacious.

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    31. Sarah

      *NOT* permitted

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    32. aristeides

      It is not, I believe, that the rabbis of this sort are encouraging rape in war. It’s that they know rape will happen in war, and they want to ensure that the Jewish soldier who rapes will not be considered to have sinned, will not be punished.

      It’s not permission, it’s exculpation.

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    33. XYZ

      For someone who claims to have a yeshiva high school education, you are remarkably ignorant of Judaism and its history.
      First of all, let me say I am Orthodox/religious and I quite openly admit there are things in Judaism which I don’t agree with and which go against modern sensibilities. These things can be and should be and indeed are discussed openly in the religious world. However, on the whole, I find the general system of Judaism to have a powerful message for the Jewish people and for mankind in general and that religious Jews are generally peaceable people.
      Secondly, your statement that Judaism did not get critical treatment like the Church did in Europe starting in the 18th century is presposterous. What about the Haskalah? What about the anti-religious attitudes of the MAPAI-MAPAM political establishment in Israel? What about the Bund and the Jewish communists-Yevseksia in eastern Europe? A large amount of anti-religious literature was turned out (e.g. Israel Shahak) and the USSR went so far as to send religous Jews to the GULAG in order to eradicate Judaism. So your statement that traditional Judaism has not been scrutinized and critized has no basis in fact whatsoever.
      Third, your statement that Judaism came out of a “barbaric period” by “ignorant people who hate mankind” is itself IGNORANT. Did you ever read Isaiah’s view of universal peace and brotherhood, Zecharia’s hope that people of all nations will come to worship G-d in the Temple in Jerusalem? Ignorance is bliss, isn’t it? In Genesis, Avraham is told how he will bring a blessing to all of mankind. So what the heck are you talking about?
      It is true that after the two disastrous wars against the Romans in which maybe millsions of Jews died and the Romans attempted to suppress Jewish observance of the Torah many of the Rabbis did not have a very high opinion of the Romans, but to extrapolate this to a general “hatred of mankind” makes no sense at all.
      Finally, it is intellectually dishonest to cherry pick certain quotes or certain opinions of individuals as being representative of Judaism (or other religions, including Islam). The question is not whether one Rabbi or one old-time scholar permits rape in battle, but does the Chief Rabbinate of the IDF allow it? Does any major posek (halachic scholar) allow it? Does the IDF allow it? The answer as you well know is “NO”!

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    34. ish yehudi

      again– i’d just like to hear yossi gurvitz write out his motivations for writing this article.. Is it to offer the secularization of our religion that has not been offered by the enlightened members of humanity?
      I think the readers of your writings are entitle to an honest exposition of whats driving you.
      regarding the specifics of the case- and i haven’t seen anyone post this on either of gurvitz articles or the extensive facebook commentaries.
      Mr Gurvitz- you say that the law of the ” Comely Woman law allows a first rape.” You base your attack on the Torah somehow condoning rape.
      Read the Rashi. Or if you don’t believe in Rashi, then read the text itself- which is talking about what to do after a soldier had a serious falling and G-d forbid, did the worst thing possible to a victim. “the torah here is talking to nobody other than one who’s urges took over.” Which is how the Torah generally views sin– for who is strong/ a warrior? one who conquers their urges (like their urge to deride tradition and backwards primitive religious people, perhaps?).
      yes- it is an abomination. nobody wanted it to happen- the Torah tried to ensure that the only people going to fight were of strong moral character in the first place… but it did, and that is where these verses start. Just like so much of torah law— “if two people fought and struck each other and wounded..” “if you’re ox gored another” etc. It’s how our Torah works- by understanding that in life, with real humans— sh– happens- serious sh– and instead of urging us to be perfect and never fail, the Torah is largely a story of humans trying to be better. “seven times will a righeouss one fall and get up.”
      So for all of you who’s Jewish sensibilities have led you down the path of judgement and castigation- to our religion or to our country- both of whom have fallen and will fall again– don’t despair- find a way to be pro-active. Yes there’s a way to bring up the issues and dirty stuff in a way that provokes real dialogue and reflection, not reactionary defense and polemics…
      Lets do the work, no?
      The idealists too often don’t face the facts of where people are. THe secular utopian visions of what humanity is supposed to be are beautiful– but if you want to get to the heart of peace work around here, you better start respecting those traditions which will determine this lands future. You (Muslims) better start calling out your hate mongerers, and us Jews better keep doing the same.. But it aint gonna happen by deriding them as superstitious and backwards people.

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    35. Rodrigo

      I would have thought that blatant attacks on religion would be considered outside the pale on 972mag.

      I can imagine most of the authors here lighting up with fury against the Islamophobes had they written an article deriding all of Islam by pointing to an inconvenient religious ruling.

      I demand an apology for publishing this.

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    36. aristeides

      Ish – that really isn’t helpful. The question is why an IDF rabbi would address this issue in this way – today. And today, all these Talmudic rationalizations are irrelevant. There have been irrevocable changes that render them moot.

      How, exactly, is the Torah supposed to be a guide for the modern IDF rapist? Enslavement is no longer allowed, even for women. Nor is polygamy allowed, so the rapist can not marry his victim. Further, if he could, then he would, by the nature of the case, be marrying a non-Jew, which would make any children of the rape or union non-Jewish, according to the change in the laws of the Torah, making descent matrilineal.

      So it’s pretty clear that none of this serves as a guide to the rapist in dealing with his victim. But of course, to an IDF rabbi, the victim is of no consequence. She might as well be shot and secretly buried, so as not to bring shame on the Jewish rapist and the IDF in which he serves.

      No, the issue is solely that of the soldier and the state of his sin, which we now find was not really such a bad sin, after all, and we can pat him on the head and tell him, “There, there, it’s OK, you’re not irrevocably unclean. The Torah says so.”

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    37. I demand an apology for publishing this.


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    38. Shlomo Krol

      This post is full of demagoguery. The synchronous rather then diachronous approach tears the things out of context only to “prove” the author’s opinion (or rather prejudice). Maimonides writes about God’s wars – his reasonings are totally theoretical and relate to the wars of Messiah, not to the wars of 12 century (when Jews didn’t fight at all). Judaism, as any developed system of beliefs and practices, has many dimensions. It can be very archaic and very modern, depends on accents. It may well be that this or that rabbi interpret Judaism in a way we cannot agree. So what? Besides this, the comely woman passage in Torah was discussed and is well known, no serious rabbi would issue decree that it is indeed permissible for Israeli soldiers to rape. The whole story is demagogic and blown out of nothing.

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    39. Shlomo Krol

      Really, all this is no better than anti-Islamic slurs of right wing demagogues.

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    40. Rodrigo

      Yossi, laugh out loud all you want, but I demand an apology.

      This is the kind of article that authors on 972mag would be attacking with no mercy if it was written against Islam. You willingness to publish this anti-Judaism article is hypocritical and you should be shunned for it by civilized society.

      Issue an apology.

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    41. Rodrigo, keep on demanding. I have no intention of apologizing for exposing uncomfortable facts about Israel’s state religion.

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    42. Rodrigo

      That sounds exactly like the defense that Islamophobes use when ‘exposing uncomfortable facts’ about Islam under the guise of warning the naive about the evils of Islam.

      If you will not apologize would you be willing to admit that your publishing of the article is hypocritical considering that you would probably vigorously attack similar articles published by Islamophobes about Islam?

      Now it is a question of your intellectual honesty..

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    43. sh

      “Really, all this is no better than anti-Islamic slurs of right wing demagogues.”
      Shlomo, the difference being that right-wing demagogues of whom you speak are slurring a religion that is not their own.
      Maybe the point Yossi was trying to make is that the good burghers of Israel seem oblivious of the less palatable parts of their own religion while justifying their refusal to negotiate with Hamas or Hezbollah with learned quotations from Islam’s holy books purporting to prove Islam’s racism, barbarism and intolerance. We have so-called Arabic scholars, lecturers on Islam, who make a tidy sum on the side doing this. Kind of pot calling kettle black, y’know?

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    44. That sounds exactly like the defense that Islamophobes use when ‘exposing uncomfortable facts’ about Islam under the guise of warning the naive about the evils of Islam.

      You are barking at a very wrong tree. I have absolutely no problem with exposing the racism and inhumanity inherent in Muslim law, and I don’t consider people who do so to be “islamophobes”.

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    45. Freddy T

      In any case, the crime of rape is not permitted by the IDF brass. And we of no case in which rape occurred and was permitted.

      The Biblical rules, when I studied them, were explained as a way to calm down the hyper-active soldier, that’s it.

      There are a lot of discussions in the Talmudic literature where both sides are given a hearing and then the final ruling is decided on. Be sure you read up on what the final decision is when you read the Talmud.

      Many things permitted by the Bible have been forbidden by the Rabbinical Sages for millennium. Having multiple wives comes to mind. There are others.

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    46. Rodrigo

      SH, Right-wing demagogues also usually have some Muslims or former Muslims that confirm their biases that usually get pretty nasty treatment at the hands of the progressive press just like their right-wing confederates.

      So your argument is that Yossi is imitating those that that use the quotations from Islamic holy books to prove Islam’s racism, barbarism and intolerance by using the same tactic against Judaism?

      Isn’t that somewhat ethically problematic when writing for a website that claims to be progressive?

      Yossi, nice save. Make sure to remember that when writing future articles. It is certainly consistent with the content and tone of this article that you don’t have a problem with people purposefully writing articles cherry picking quotes about a religion in order to make it look barbaric, racist and intolerant. My claim of hypocrisy is hereby rescinded.

      Also, you have a small grammar mistake in your second paragraph – ‘is a living abominations’ should be ‘is a living abomination’.

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    47. Freddy T

      “Judaism was never properly secularized”.

      Well, Judaism, being religious, can not and should not be secularized. There is no “Proper” way to do it. Plenty of attempts have been made, all of them improper.

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    48. Elisabeth

      Rechavia is right on the spot about Klang’s post: The Nazi’s or the Medieval Anti-Semites were not analyzing Jewish scripture in a secular light, which was clearly what Yossi was referring to.
      The references to Auschwitz, Treblinka, etc. etc. are therefore just so much cheap irrelevant demagoguery. And the reference to Easter is hilarious in this context, but Klang does not get that of course.

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    49. sh

      @Rodrigo – “So your argument is that Yossi is imitating those that that use the quotations from Islamic holy books to prove Islam’s racism, barbarism and intolerance by using the same tactic against Judaism?”
      No. Perhaps you ought to re-read what I said. For him to be imitating, you’d have to be comparing him to a *Muslim* (who knows his or her stuff), discussing some of the less comfortable corners of Islam.
      @Freddy T – “the crime of rape is not permitted by the IDF brass”
      Rabbi Krim *is* IDF brass.

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