Volume 58 Number 14 
      Produced: Sun, 16 May 2010 12:12:10 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Adding Up The Numbers 
    [Yaakov Shachter]
are the burkas on back order? (3)
    [Janice Gelb  Mordechai Horowitz  Frank Silbermann]
cohabition outside of marriage (was marriage and separation) (2)
    [Martin Stern  Ira L. Jacobson]
Jewish Men/Non-Jewish Women 
    [Yisrael Medad]
marriage and separation (2)
    [Martin Stern  Russell J Hendel]
mikveh for unmarried women 
    [Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz]
relations with an unmarried woman 
    [Carl Singer]
    [Perry Zamek]


From: Yaakov Shachter <jay@...>
Date: Thu, May 6,2010 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Adding Up The Numbers

In v58n09, Anonymous wrote:
> ... if you had been to as many women's mikvaot as I have, as many
> times as I have, for as many years, you, too, might well say
> "goodness--the numbers just don't add up."

There are couples suffering from barrenness who will be pained by what
they are about to read, and we must be sympathetic to their pain, but
the fact is that in a healthy, Torah-observant family, the woman is
usually either pregnant or nursing for most of her childbearing years.
Miqveh use does not take place during those times.  What drives up
miqveh use is artificial contraception, a practice that is rarely
permitted.  A decline in miqveh use may well indicate an increase in
the observance of Jewish law, not a decrease.

Perhaps, Anonymous -- if I may call you that -- you have been counting
your neighbor's children.  But do you know how many miscarriages they
have had?  Have you been counting them, too?  And you do know how long
your neighbors nursed each child?  Jewish law states that a child may
be nursed up till the age of 4 (sometimes, up till the age of 5), and
should be nursed up till the age of 2.

Also, women with office jobs, who nurse their children in the morning
before they go to work, and in the evening when they come home from
work, will menstruate.  When the women in a community decide that
their families are more important than their office jobs, and they
leave their office jobs to become full-time mothers, miqveh use in the
community declines.

Moreover, maybe your neighbors have not been immersing themselves in
places that contribute to the numbers that you have been adding up.
Any naturally occurring reservoir (miqveh) or stream (ma`ayan) is
kosher for ritual immersion.  Perhaps your neighbors do not wish to be
counted by you on this most private of occasions, and they go to Lake
Michigan on summer nights, and not to the miqveh on Touhy Avenue,
where you are waiting to count them.  I have no idea how many people
do this.  But I do know that driving your wife to a secluded beach on
a warm summer night is much more romantic than driving her to Touhy

You gave us more numbers to add up, further down in your article:

> ... for every night of a sixty-year marriage (or, let's be
> reasonable, 3 or 4 nights a week)

Again, there will be people -- less easily identified -- who will be
pained by what they are about to read, and we must be sympathetic to
their pain, but if you think that marital relations only 3 or 4 nights
a week is "reasonable", then you have been speaking to people who do
not know the halakha.  The halakha is that men who are healthy, who do
not perform tiring labor, and who are able to come home every day for
mealtimes (i.e., they don't have to work late at the office -- jfs)
are obliged to have sexual relations with their wives at least once a
night.  It is true that this halakha only describes the woman's
conjugal rights, which she may voluntarily waive; but if a man's wife
halves her conjugal rights from >=7 down to 3 or 4, that is a sign
that he has not been a loving and attentive sex partner, and that,
too, points to an ignorance of halakha.

			Jay F. ("Yaakov") Shachter


From: Janice Gelb <j_gelb@...>
Date: Tue, May 11,2010 at 03:01 AM
Subject: are the burkas on back order?

Carl Singer <carl.singer@...> wrote:
> I was helping one of my sons set up kiddish at 
> shul when in walks a young man (mid-20's) and 
> states -- "Will you set up a separate table for the
> women, many won't be comfortable ...."

I first ran across this a couple of months ago at 
the bris of a friend of mine's son. I was never 
able to congratulate my friend, only his wife, 
because the bris took place in shul with a 
mechitzah and there was a mechitzah at the 
celebratory kiddush afterward.

Never saw this before (and hope never to see 
it again...)

-- Janice

From: Mordechai Horowitz <mordechai@...>
Date: Tue, May 11,2010 at 08:01 AM
Subject: are the burkas on back order?

Carl wrote

> I'm seeing a disturbing trend -- and don't know that is furthers halachic
> observance or is heading us toward burkas ...
> I was helping one of my sons set up kiddish at shul when in walks a young
> man (mid-20's) and states -- "Will you set up a separate table for the
> women, many won't be comfortable ...."

Having twins turning 3 this year (a boy and a girl) my wife and I have started
thinking more of modesty issues in general.

We just ordered a new sefer by Rab Henkin

Understanding Tzniut: Modern Controversies in the Jewish Community


This might be a good sefer [book --MOD] for us to learn together as a group to
discuss this issue

From: Frank Silbermann <frank_silbermann@...>
Date: Tue, May 11,2010 at 09:01 AM
Subject: are the burkas on back order?

Shoshana L. Boublil wrote:
> I'll never forget the case of a Kallah [Bride --MOD] (I met her when I was in
> Sheirut Leumi [National Service --MOD]). We met her a week before her wedding
> and discovered, while discussing a related issue, that she had NO knowledge of
> human biology in general, nor of female biology in particular - nor how women
> become pregnant - and this was a week before her wedding!  When we asked her
> how could this be, she said that when she tried to ask, she was shushed for
> raising untzniusdik [immodest --MOD] questions.

Martin Stern Vol.58 #12:
> Unfortunately, this sort of Victorian prudery has been spreading in certain
> chareidi circles but has nothing to do with Torah values. The Torah and
> Chazal [the sages --MOD] are quite open on such matters, where they are
> relevant, even if they sometimes use circumlocutions to avoid being too
> explicit.

People in those circles might claim that in the days when the Torah and Chazal
were quite open on such matters, women were not permitted to study Torah.


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Thu, May 6,2010 at 04:01 PM
Subject: cohabition outside of marriage (was marriage and separation)

Avraham Etzion wrote:
> The learned discussion of Medieval texts on the alleged permission of
> major Jewish legal authorities on intercourse with a concubine fail to
> mention one important fact.  According to everyone it is a Biblical
> prohibition to have intercourse with a Nida [menstruating woman --MOD].
> Consequently the whole discussion in the last weeks is purely academic as
> it is hard to imagine that in [the] case mentioned this would be observed.

The whole discussion of concubinage in the Rishonim [earlier mediaeval
authorities] is based on the assumption that the concubine does observe the
rules of family purity and therefore there is no problem of intercourse with
a niddah.

It is not impossible that the concubine could attend a mikveh without those
in charge being aware that she is not fully married.  I believe some single
women in Modern Orthodox circles who are having a steady ongoing sexual
relationship do so already!

Martin Stern

From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Sun, May 9,2010 at 04:01 PM
Subject: cohabition outside of marriage (was marriage and separation)

>The learned discussion of Medieval texts on the alleged permission 
>of major Jewish legal authorities on intercourse with a concubine 
>fail to mention one important fact.  According to everyone it is a 
>Biblical prohibition to have intercourse with a Nida [menstruating 
>woman --MOD]. Consequently the whole discussion in the last weeks is 
>purely academic as it is hard to imagine that in [the] case 
>mentioned this would be observed.

I had not wanted to enter this discourse, but it may be worthwhile to 
reproduce what has been written in the public domain 

" . . . the recently published volume by Rabbi Gershon Winkler, 
Sacred Secrets: The Sanctity of Sex in Jewish Law and Lore (Jason 
Aronson, Northvale NJ).  In it is an Appendix (pp. 101-142) with the 
complete text of an 18th-century Tshuvah (Responsum) of Rabbi Yaakov 
(Jacob) of Emden to a shylah (question) concerning the pilegesh 
relationship. In it Rabbi Yaakov writes:

"'[A single woman living with a man] ought to feel no more ashamed of 
immersing herself in a communal mikveh at the proper times than her 
married sisters.

"'Those who prefer the pilagshut [concubinage MOD] relationship may certainly do
so. ... For perhaps the woman wishes to be able to leave immediately 
without any divorce proceedings in the event she is mistreated, or 
perhaps either party is unprepared for the burdensome 
responsibilities of marital obligations...'

"Winkler shows that Ramban (Moshe ben Nachman, Nachmanides) in the 
13th century and a host of other authorities also ruled that 
legitimate sexual relationships are not limited to marriage.

"It is true that some authorities, including Rambam (Maimonides) did 
rule in favor of such limits, but many did not."



From: Yisrael Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Fri, May 7,2010 at 07:01 AM
Subject: Jewish Men/Non-Jewish Women

A bit relevant to the discussion of Anonymous' urges to act in a
conjugal manner with a non-Jewish, married woman found at Seforim blog
and extracted:
R. Jacob Schorr of Kuty, Galicia was a genius and is best known for his
edition of the Sefer ha-Itim. He also wrote the responsa volume Divrei
Yaakov (Kolomea, 1881), and a second volume, culled from various
sources, both published and manuscript, appeared in 2006...Schorr's son
was Dr. Alexander Schorr, who translated many classic Greek and Latin
texts into Hebrew. Alexander Schorr's grandson is the well-known Israeli
film director, Renen Schorr...Since Prof. Leiman has just written
html>  about the Maharal, it is worth noting that Schorr tells an
incredibly far-fetched story, which he actually believed, about the
Maharal and Emperor Rudolph. According to the tale, Rudolph's biological
father was a Jewish man. What happened was that Rudolph's mother, the
queen, could not have children with the Emperor. She therefore asked a
Jewish man to impregnate her or else she would unleash persecution on
the Jews in the kingdom. Upon hearing this, the beit din gave the man
permission to accede to her wishes. I don't want to repeat any more of
this nonsensical story, but those who are interested can find it in R.
Abraham Michaelson's Shemen ha-Tov (Petrokov, 1905), pp. 60a-b. (R.
Abraham was R. Zvi Ezekiel's son.)

Yisrael Medad


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, May 4,2010 at 02:01 AM
Subject: marriage and separation

Marilyn Tomsk wrote:
> If she wants sex that is what she really wants.  You are just a toy.  It is a
> mess every way you look - a mess you don't need.  Find someone else for
> yourself.  This whole situation is cheap.

On the contrary, the liaison with a married non-Jewish woman may well turn
out to be extremely expensive, not just emotionally but also financially!

Martin Stern

From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Wed, May 5,2010 at 08:01 PM
Subject: marriage and separation

Yaakov Shachter in v58n7 demurs to the statement that Judaism prohibits
cohabiting outside of marriage. He does this by citing several authorities who
permit a concubine. Jay admits that a concubine is not a girlfriend but nowhere
defines concubine.

The purpose of this posting is to clarify that cohabiting outside of marriage is
prohibited under Jewish law ACCORDING TO ALL AUTHORITIES and that the
permissibility of a concubine does not contradict this prohibition. This posting
is based on a lecture by the Rav, Rabbi Doctor Joseph B. Soloveitchick who
taught us Kiddushin (The tractate dealing with marriages).

Let us start on the right foot. There are TWO biblical laws at stake. (1) The
prohibition of "prostitution and (2) the positive commandment, a requirement,
that relations be preceded by a marriage ceremony. There IS as Jay points out a
controversy on the PROHIBITION of prostitution whether it includes a concubine.
marriage ceremony combines the "legal betrothal (kiddushin) and marriage
(Nisuin)". It immediately follows that a person cohabiting outside marriage is

But what about the prohibition of prostitution. First, some general comments
about Jewish law. Jewish law unlike modern statutory law tends to teach by CASES
rather than by abstract formulations. Here is a good example. The Bible (Deut.
25:4) states "Don't muzzle an OX while it is threshing." But the law applies to
ANY animal. OXEN are just the typical animal and the Bible teaches by EXAMPLES.
Similarly the Bible gives laws of FIELD RAPES which apply to all RAPES (But
TYPICAL rapes happen in rural areas) Similarly the Bible requires a death
penalty for FEMALE WITCHES when in fact the Bible requires a death penalty FOR
ALL WITCHES (But most witches are female)

The Bible prohibited all pre-marital sex. It did so by taking a good example -
prostitution. But any premarital act is prohibited. No authority disputes this
prohibition. A controversy however happens with CONCUBINES. Let us first examine
Rambam's reasoning. Rambam reasons that if a KING takes a woman (without
marriage) she is not a "prostitute" since there are LAWS against marrying or
sleeping with the (former) wife/woman of the king. Hence, the concubine is
PROTECTED (from other men) and the Rambam reasons that she can't be classified
as a prostitute. 

Now let us return to non-Kings. Suppose Abe lives with Sarah. Even Jay admits
this is not necessarily a concubine. Why? Because Sarah can dump him and go and
live with Isaac. So what then is the CONCUBINE that the Raavad permitted? I
would argue that it would be a LIVEIN protected by the current laws of the land.
Here is an American example. If Abe marries Sarah UNDER AMERICAN BUT NOT UNDER
JEWISH LAW. Then Sarah is a CONCUBINE. Abe has not violated prostitution
(according to the Raavad). Abe however has violated the POSTIVIE COMMANDMENT TO
prostitution / pre-marital sex: Can the woman or man dump the partner and go
live with someone else without legal recourse from the dumped partner?

RECAP: The ideal situation according to ALL AUTHORITIES is to MARRY UNDER JEWISH
LAW prior to relations. A person who MARRIES UNDER NON-JEWISH LAW has violated
the positive commandment to precede relations with a Jewish marriage. A person
who LIVES with a woman has ALSO, and according to all authorities, has violated
the prohibition of PROSTITUTION (Premarital sex) For a prostitute is anyone who
can dump Abe today and live with Isaac tomorrow.  It doesn't matter how many
years Abe and Sarah live together .

I therefore believe that at most Jay has brought us an interesting technical
point that according to Raavad, non-Jewish marriages creates a concubine and
exempts one from the PROHIBITION of premarital sex. That does not mean it is
permitted since all authorities require JEWISH MARRIAGE prior to relations.

Over and above these two prohibitions there is a general requirement that Jews
remain a holy nation( a positive commandment mentioned at Lev. 19:2). Part of
our holiness is a well-defined concept of family units (Also explained in Lev.
19). Children should know who their parents are. A society with many non-marital
relationships will sooner or later have children in these relationships and
these children will not have certainty on their lineage. Lineage is a very
important concept in Judaism and should not be disturbed by misreadings (such as
Jay performed) of technical prohibitions. 

Russell Jay Hendel; Ph.d., ASA http://www.Rashiyomi.com/


From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahillel@...>
Date: Thu, May 6,2010 at 04:01 PM
Subject: mikveh for unmarried women

First of all, we learned in the case of Amnon (son of Dovid Hamelech)
and Tamar, that originally, unmarried women actually did go to the
mikvah.  As a result of the incident, the laws of yichud [seclusion --MOD] with an
unmarried woman were instituted.  I also saw a comment (sorry do not
recall where) that in the time of the Second Temple, a bandit came
upon a young women and was going to rape her when she informed him
that she had not (yet) gone to the mikvah.  As a result, he let her go.
I do not recall at what point unmarried women stopped going to the
mikvah, but I believe that incident is one of the reasons given.

       Sabba     -          ' "        -     Hillel
Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz | Said the fox to the fish, "Join me ashore"
 <SabbaHillel@...> | The fish are the Jews, Torah is our water


From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Thu, May 6,2010 at 02:01 PM
Subject: relations with an unmarried woman

> Ma'aseh shehaya kach haya (here is a real life story). A totally normative,
> religious and observant young man aged 27 asked the Chief Rabbi of one of
> Israel's cities the following question: I am in a serious relationship with
> a woman but for many reasons we cannot marry at this time. The physical part
> of the relationship is getting to the point of no return. Since we are not
> willing to terminate the relationship, should she immerse herself in the
> mikveh so that we will not transgress boeil niddah (intercourse with a
> ritually impure woman)?*

I'm a bit confused -- not an unusual state for me -- since one of the forms
of marriage is "be-ah" [sexual relations]  how do this young single man and
his single female paramour remain unmarried if they are, indeed, having

One doesn't need a hall, a caterer and a band to be married.



From: Perry Zamek <perryza@...>
Date: Tue, May 11,2010 at 03:01 AM
Subject: sotah

I don't recall exactly where I heard this understanding of Sotah, but to 
me it puts things into perspective:

Given that the Sotah procedure, in its time, was accepted by all as an 
effective test (and punishment), one should consider whether a woman who 
had actually committed adultery would be willing to go through the whole 
of the Sotah process (even if she started it), knowing that she would 
suffer the punishment spelled out in the Torah.

On the other hand, a woman who had definitely not committed adultery 
would probably go to any length, even to the ultimate test of drinking 
the "bitter waters," to restore the previous relationship with her husband.

On a related idea: the Torah uses the term "ruach kinah" - a spirit of 
jealousy. Similarly, Chazal say that a person doesn't sin unless "ruach 
shtut" - a spirit of madness - gets into him.

Is there a connection?

My take on this "spirit of jealousy" is that it is somewhat irrational - 
the husband sees his wife with another man, and suddenly assumes the worst.

Perhaps that's why the Sotah test only works (in determining guilt) if 
the husband is himself innocent of sexual transgressions - there is 
probably a fine line between a "spirit of madness," inciting sin, and a 
"spirit of jealousy," assuming sin in another.

Perry Zamek


End of Volume 58 Issue 14