Volume 56 Number 20
                    Produced: Mon Dec 31 18:43:28 EST 2007

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Intermarriage, Assimilation and Non Jewish Female Responsibility (5)
         [Alex Heppenheimer, Keith Bierman, Akiva Miller, Janice Gelb,
Russell J Hendel]


From: Alex Heppenheimer <aheppenh@...>
Date: Fri, 28 Dec 2007 08:36:21 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Re: Intermarriage, Assimilation and Non Jewish Female Responsibility

In MJ 56:15, Frank Silbermann commented on Russell Hendel's posting in 56:10:

>> I had mentioned that the seduction by Moabite women of Jewish men
>> (Nu24,25) that led to a declaration of war on Moab justified the
>> Rambam's assertion that a non-jewish woman who had an affair with a
>> jewish man should be executed.

>I may have not paid attention to the initial post, but what _exactly_
>did Rambam advocate, and in what context?  And what justification, if
>any, did the Rambam offer?  Given that we don't pasken by the Rambam,
>what was the response of other Rishonim?

>I don't know the Rambam you speak of, but if this statement were issued
>in a general context then I cannot imagine that this can be anything
>more than the kind of hyperbole in which masturbation is "likened to"
>murder (but never vice-versa).

The Rambam's statement is in Hil. Issurei Biah 12:10. He writes:

"A Jew who has relations with a non-Jewish woman, whether she is a
child... or a grown woman, whether unmarried or married, and even if he
was a child of nine years old [the minimum age for his sexual actions to
have any halachic impact] - once he had relations with a non-Jewish
woman _willfully_ [my emphasis], she is to be killed, since a Jew has
stumbled through her, like [the case where a Jew has relations with] an
animal [where the animal is executed even though it had no choice in the
matter]. This is explicitly stated in the Torah... [citing
Num. 31:16-17, the episode with the Midianite women]."


1. The key phrase here is "willfully." The Rambam's comparison to the
   case of an animal makes this clearer, because in Issurei Biah 1:18 he
   states that if one had relations with an animal unintentionally
   (e.g., not knowing that this is forbidden), then the animal is not to
   be executed.

In our case, then: how many of today's Jewish men who are sexually
involved with non-Jewish women are in the category of "willful" rather
than "unintentional" (or even more so, "completely ignorant")?

(With the Moabite/Midianite women, too, note that the Jewish men who had
relations with them were punished either by a human court (Num. 25:4-5)
or by a Divine plague (ibid. v. 9). There is no double standard here,
where the non-Jew is held culpable and the Jew gets off scot-free.)

2. Maggid Mishneh on Rambam here points out that there is no clear
   source for the Rambam's statement, because the Gemara (Yevamos 60b)
   understands the verse in Numbers to be referring to all of the
   Midianite women and girls above a certain age, whether they actually
   had relations with Jews or not; so it couldn't serve as a precedent
   for other cases.

I don't know whether any of the other Rishonim or Acharonim discuss this
further. (This law isn't cited in Shulchan Aruch, as far as I can find;
but we wouldn't expect it to anyway since it involves capital
punishment, which is not applicable until the Beis Hamikdash is rebuilt,
speedily in our days.)

>> A few years ago I pointed out that Dt31-12 seems to imply that
>> noachides must listen to the reading of the Torah by the king in the
>> seven year cycle "in order that they fear God."  It would seem that
>> Noachides have an obligation to believe in prophecy (otherwise how
>> could they observe the 7 laws of Noach as Gods will). Thus there are
>> other "noachide" laws besides the big 7 and this matter requires
>> further investigation.

>I believe the people you are referring to have the status of Ger Toshav
>-- gentiles living withing the Jewish theocracy who do not become full
>converts.  Obviously, such people have an obligation to respect the
laws >placed on them by the community in which they live.

>It seems equally obviousl to me that gentiles living in their own lands
>have no obligation to listen to the reading of the Torah by a Jewish
>king in the seven year cycle in order that they fear God.  (To suggest
>otherwise would be reminiscent of the Islamic position that all
>infidels throughout the entire world are obligated to accept Islamic

Indeed. The verse that Russell cited refers specifically to "the ger
[convert - partial or full] in your [city] gates," so it specifically
excludes non-Jews living elsewhere. (Presumably they are allowed to
participate if they want to, but there is certainly no requirement for
them to do so.)

Noachides do indeed have more than 7 mitzvos in total; there's a Gemara
in Chullin (92a, bottom) that mentions 30 mitzvos for non-Jews, and
identifies three of these that "they still observe." I believe that the
commentaries explain that these are subdivisions of the basic 7 (in much
the same way that our 613 mitzvos are all included generally within the
Ten Commandments). One of the volumes of Encyclopedia Talmudis - I don't
recall which one; probably the one that has the main entry for Bnei
Noach - has an appendix with a couple of lists of the 30 mitzvos offered
by various Rishonim. I don't know, though, whether "not to allow a Jew
to have relations with them" is in any of these lists.

Kol tuv,

From: Keith Bierman <khbkhb@...>
Date: Thu, 27 Dec 2007 20:59:29 -0700
Subject: Re: Intermarriage, Assimilation and Non Jewish Female Responsibility

From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>:
> The Moabite women were not different than their American counterparts.

An interesting assertion. Given that the entire set of circumstances
around our entering (and conquering) Eretz Yisrael in the times of the
immedidate post exodus were vastly different than those we face today in
modern America ... I think one would need a lot of proof to support this

>  BUt I insist that the same is true for Moab.

On what basis? The torah doesn't provide that detail (that I'm aware

Keith H. Bierman   <khbkhb@...>      | AIM kbiermank

From: Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Fri, 28 Dec 2007 11:41:31 GMT
Subject: re: Intermarriage, Assimilation and Non Jewish Female Responsibility

In MJ 56:15, Russell J Hendel wrote:
> (b) I agree that AMerican woman are not interested in religion but
> just want to have some fun or meet some caring people. BUt I insist
> that the same is true for Moab.

and later in the very same post, he wrote:
> If a war was decreeed it was done because there is an obligation on
> noachides to respect national and religious borders.

I must be misunderstanding the second comment, because it sounds to me
like you are accusing the Moabites is DISrespecting our borders. But
that contradicts the first comment, in which you say that there was no
disrespect intended, and certainly not at a national or religious level.

You can't have it both ways. Either they're out to subvert us, or
they're just out for fun.

Akiva Miller

From: Janice Gelb <j_gelb@...>
Date: Thu, 27 Dec 2007 18:05:05 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Intermarriage, Assimilation and Non Jewish Female Responsibility

Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...> wrote:
> (a) I hold both men and woman responsibile (So by Moab the men were
> executed in Jewish courts while the nation of the women, Moab,
> received a declaration of war--by America Jewish men are violating
> various excision commandments while Non-Jewish woman are violating
> what I suggested are obligations to respect national religious borders
> - I am blaiming both)
> Let me put it another way: The same arguments used against me 
> (accusing me of thinking that American women are aggressors) 

I never accused you of thinking that American women are "aggressors" --
I said that you are blaming American women for violating a religious
ideal with which they are not in any way connected.

> can be used against those who disagree with me since in effect they
> are saying "Well God declared war on Moab and that PROVES that the
> Moabite women were aggressors and bad people. This is circular
> reasoning. The Moabite women were not different than their American
> counterparts. If a war was decreeed it was done because there is an
> obligation on noachides to respect national and religious borders.

Both your original statement and this one don't seem to be borne out by
the actual text. Here's what you originally claimed:

"Note: These are not questions on my posting but rather questions on why
there was a declaration of war on Moab.  The Jews were in a place called
SHITIM possibly from the Hebrew word STH to SWIM. It was sort of a BEACH
resort.  The Bible relates that they had parties and intimate
relationships began. This is NOT much different from an American beach
scene. I would argue that most of the Moabite women involved were not
interested in destroying the Jewish people - they were responding to an
opportunity to have some fun with a people known as being caring and
charitable. I do not believe that the gentile women were being overly
persistent or ignoring pleas to be left alone."

Here's the exact quote from Numbers 25:

  1 While Israel was staying in Shittim, the men began to indulge in
  sexual immorality with Moabite women, 2 who invited them to the
  sacrifices to their gods. The people ate and bowed down before these
  gods. 3 So Israel joined in worshiping the Baal of Peor. And the
  LORD's anger burned against them.

  4 The LORD said to Moses, "Take all the leaders of these people, kill
  them and expose them in broad daylight before the LORD, so that the
  LORD's fierce anger may turn away from Israel."

  5 So Moses said to Israel's judges, "Each of you must put to death
  those of your men who have joined in worshiping the Baal of Peor."

The problem here was not that the Moabite women were innocently dating
Israelites at a beach resort! The text says that the women encouraged
the men to worship the pagan gods and the men did so. (Vatikrena la'am
lezivchey eloheyhen vayochal ha'am vayishtachavu le'eloheyhen.
Vayitsamed Yisra'el le-Va'al Pe'or)

This is *not* the same situation as a modern non-Jewish woman becoming
involved with a Jewish man. It's the idol worshiping that is being
punished, not the dating.

> (c) I agree that it is absurd to blaim American woman for the Jewish
> assimilation more than we blaim American men. But what I suggested (Go
> back and read what I said) is that it is equally absurd to exclusively
> blaim Jewish men. I suggested some type of sharing blaim

And I still disagree with you. Jewish men might be perceived to have an
obligation to marry Jewish women and have Jewish children rather than
marrying non-Jewish women and presumably either assimilating themselves
or having assimilated children. Non-Jewish women have *no obligation* in
regard to making sure that Jewish men only marry Jewish women. There is
no "national" border separating the religions. So, I repeat my previous
point: if Jewish men have no qualms about marrying outside their
religion and display no adherence to their religion in this regard,
non-Jewish women have no obligation to respect a nonexistent religious
border between them. The blame should be solely placed in your scenario
on the people with the obligation.

-- Janice

From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Sun, 30 Dec 2007 20:41:57 -0500
Subject: Intermarriage, Assimilation and Non Jewish Female Responsibility

Frank has asked me what are the Rambam's sources and what are the

First: I am not advocating that someone run around killing non jewish
partners. I am simply trying to understand the seriousness of it by
defending the internal consistency of the Rambam's position. By defending
the Rambam I achieve the right to point participatory blaim at the non
jewish partners.

Second: To be very blunt there are no sources (or little sources) Frank I
and the Rambam know the same thing. We know the Jews stopped off at a
beach resort in Moab, started having affairs, and the result was a
declaration of war. That is all we really know. Anything else is

This weeks parshah sheds light. Pharoh was head of the most structured
society in human history, Egypt. He gave an order to kill all Jewish
male babies. But his own daughter disobeyed. Later on we read that the
people cheered the Jews. Bottom line you never have a society where all
members go beserk. The leadership may declare something and people
follow because they have to....but most people just go about their daily

What happened in Moab. No one knows. True there is a midrash that says
Bilam advised sending the woman after the Jews. But that doesnt mean
that Moabite woman were blood thirsty animals having affairs for the
sake of invoking Gods wrath. Rather, they took it as an opportunity to
have some fun and meet some people who really care and show
sensitivity. Why do I say this. Because it is common sense and no
alternative makes equal sense.

Consequently the only difference I see between Moab and America is that
there is no evil Bilam in America plotting the destruction of the Jews.

BUT, and this is the important point, we ARE assimilating AS IF someone
was after us.

Frank wanted facts so I will not repeat my position except to say that
personally I consider it highly unethical to simply blaim the Jewish
partners ... I want a position of participatory blaim.

Hope this clarifies. And where is the rest of mail jewish. Sure I enjoy
a good posting on the sunrise prayers (I submitted a really cute one
which you will see soon). But I think we should discuss the
assimilation. I find it appaling that only a handful of people are
participating in this thread.

Russell Jay Hendel; http://www.Rashiyomi.com/


End of Volume 56 Issue 20