Whistle BlowerShalom Bayis and Concubinage

There’s an article from the Washington Post, reproduced at JewishWhistleBlower about the resurrection of Jewish concubinage. It discussed a necessarily shady organization called Shalom Bayis whose aim was to promote kosher, permissible extra-marital sex for Orthodox men through the biblically established institution of concubinage. Far from being prostitutes, concubines would be Orthodox career women who are “unmarried, monogamous, and observes Jewish laws of female purity — which means abstaining from intercourse during menstruation and monthly dips in a ritual bath.” The article was a bit shocking, to say the least. And of course, the fun was limited to the men – no similar facility was offered to women (although apparently they have other acceptable options).

Too bad it was total bullshit. Concubinage was banned over 1000 years ago, along with polygamy and this organization, Shalom Bayis is some kind of elaborate media stunt aimed at discrediting Orthodox Judaism. As reported in an article published in Moment magazine and reproduced at Frum.org, the concubine story was reproduced everywhere from the New York Times, to the BBC, to the JTA to Marie Claire… despite the total lack of corroboration. The “Yossi” in the Washington Post story also managed to convince mainstream news publications the year before that Orthodox men were marrying off their pre-teen girls for leverage in divorce cases. That turned out to be crap too. Anyhow… thanks for wasting an hour of my life Jewish Whistle Blower dude. I totally hate you, but for some odd reason, I can’t stop reading your blog.

About the author

ck

Founder and Publisher of Jewlicious, David Abitbol lives in Jerusalem with his wife, newborn daughter and toddler son. Blogging as "ck" he's been blocked on twitter by the right and the left, so he's doing something right.

46 Comments

  • A friend and I are putting together a rockumentary about Ortho folk in Metal/Rock/Pop/Hip hop bands. I believe we were going to profile Reva L’sheva. But it appears that the bass player has confessed to child molestation, so it may be time to look for another act.

    At first, I hated the Jewish Whistle Blower. But after reading it a few times, it may be necessary. Having worked for the Jewish community for many years, I can’t tell you how much malfeasance is brushed under the table due to politics…the desire to appeal to a funder, rabbi, etc.

    This whole thing kinda makes me sad.

  • it literally makes me cry. I know the Reva L’sheva guys. I live in the same neighborhood. My friends have had shabbat at the Wexler’s house. You want to think that Israel is the kind of place where you can let your kids run around and play like kids because the whole neighborhood is looking out for them. One more illusion shattered.

  • Aye. I kinda didn’t want to mention that Wexler / Reva L’sheva thing because, well, because it really saddenned me. And the details reported by the sensationalist Israeli press were gory. But, Jews are not immune to sickness. It’s exactly the sorts of illusions that Laya mentions were shattered that lead us to turn a blind eye to these sorts of things when they occur in our midst. Yes we have Jewish killers, rapists, pedophiles and wife beaters. Yes, some are even otherwise frum individuals. Guys like the Jewish Whistle Blower and Luke Ford, while sometimes teetering on the edge of Lashon Harah, force us to confront and deal with, the sickness in our midst. That can’t be a bad thing, right?

    As for me, well, I’ll strive to live a good and decent life, and pray to G*d that I am not similarly stricken with whatever sickness Wexler was hit with that would cause a well respected and beloved married father to do what he did. I hope all parties affected get the help they need, though the future bodes ill for a convicted child molester doing time in an Israeli prison.

  • Do you remember that bizarre story about that frum man in Brooklyn who would dress up in drag and killed his frum landlord and it was so strange because I think he was dressed like a woman when the police came to investigate? Something weird like that…
    Thank God Jews are usually overrepresented in more respectable fields than perverted crime…

  • but ck, you said “I kinda didn’t want to mention that Wexler / Reva L’sheva thing because, well, because it really saddenned me.”
    Isn’t that turning a greater blind eye? Not dealing with it when it DOES happen…because it’s just too sad?

    And do we really ‘confront’ it cause we read somebody’s blog, or does that just make us feel better about ourselves cause we’re admitting to it, but in our actions we continue to do nothing?

    As far as Wexler’s (or any other child molester’s) future goes, i say anything shy of castration is getting off easy.

  • Guilty as charged Laya. I guess maybe I just wanted to wait till I was more prepared to deal with it? Who knows. Most of us are fortunate in never having to deal directly with this sort of thing. Consequently, when confronted with it, we may not always think or do the right thing. As for Wexler’s future, well, jails are not kind to child molesters. They are typically full of men whose first exposure to evil was as children at the hands of other men like Wexler. Castration is the least thing he’ll have to worry about. Not that that’s any consolation to his victim, I’m sure.

    Oh and for those of you who have no idea what the hell I’m talking about, you may go and read this article:

    Adam Wexler, Reva L’Sheva’s master bassist, demonstrates his Carlebach inspiration, arrested for rape of 8 year-old girl

    Wexler, 45, is the bassist for Reva L’sheva, a popular Israeli rock band that plays religious hippy music.

  • M’lady is a 1st Psychiatry resident (I do teen/family counseling), and we discuss the whole child molestation thing i.e. why it happens, cures, etc. Turns out they (psychiatric folk) rely on a medication to squash testosterone levels and therefore suppress sexual hunger. It may be the only thing that “works” visavis letting people who struggle with this illness back into the community.

    Have any of you seen Capturing the Friedmans? Just one more way to kill illusions of what a typical middle-class Jewish family looks like.

  • shtreimel: and then how many cases are there of people who, even after a chemical castration, continue to abuse? I mean ya wanna be just, you want to be fair, you remind yourself it’s a sickness etc. but as G*d is my witness, anyone who would lay a finger on someone that I love will never make it to the judicial system.

    My method aint pretty, but the recidivism rate is 0%

  • “and then how many cases are there of people who, even after a chemical castration, continue to abuse?”

    M’lady claims the number is quite low. But I’m with you on this one, “quite low” would be enough for me to move out of a neighborhood with a “reformed” pedophile.

  • Shtreimel, there are very few neighborhoods without sex offenders. Sadly, it is a much more prevalent disease than one would think.

    Thanks for the article CK, I didn’t know this band existed, much less about this story. Just to note that the posters who commented on that article were concerned that he was depicted as a Hassidic/Orthodox Jew. One went so far as to comment that he was a chozer b’tshuvah who was still secular when these incidents with the girl took place.

  • And what’s even more troubling, is that the internet introduced us to the idea that if you want to make good money via WWW, it always helps to put “teen looking” models and shaved genitalia on your site. And regular folks will eat it up. So what’s up with that? I’m sure Freud would pass this off as a sublimation of drives/curiosity. Who knows? Can’t help but wondering how much seperates “us” from “them”. Very blurry lines sometimes. And that’s why Jewish law/fences are so important (barring the theological significance of course). Maybe not for the sociopath/pedophile…but for the rest of us.

  • BTW guys…your site is like a mikveh after stomping around the muck at Jewschool. Thanks.

  • “Shtreimel, there are very few neighborhoods without sex offenders”

    True, but I won’t lose sleep over what I don’t know. However if someone started posting signs on my street about a reformed pedophile, and if I had children, I’d seriously consider a move.

  • Shtreimel, i just wish those laws and fences did the job a little better. Sadly, i have seen and heard of way too much sexual abuse, crime and affairs in frum, fence loving communities.
    It seems when you either indulge in unhealthy forms of sexuality (ie kiddie porn) or repress sexuality to an unhealthy degree, it comes in in perverse ways, no matter which end of the spectrum you’re on.

  • “It seems when you either indulge in unhealthy forms of sexuality (ie kiddie porn)”

    Actually, studies on this issue suggest that many people who view child/teen porn DON’T act on their impulses or interests.

    To date, we’re still not sure why people do this sorta thing.

  • I’ve seen an online map of sex offenders in one of the US states where they have to register. It was shocking to see how many sex offenders there were, and how many of them were busted on “minor” related abuses. There was some correlation between income level and the number of sex offenders, I suspect because once you have a record, it’s probably much tougher to get a job or a good job, but even the wealthiest neighborhoods has some offenders living there. I only looked up a few names, but didn’t see any hassidim…

  • Making some connections on the diverse issues presented in this post and subsequent comments might be in order by way of an example of a frum psychotherapy patient I treated in the mid-90’s. He had been kicked out of his house by Child Protective Services after it had been revealed that he molested his 11 year old daughter (she told a teacher after it happened twice). There had been no sex in the marriage for over 4 years as the wife refused to go to the mikveh. This state of their marriage obviously contributed to the situation leading to his coming-on to the daughter.

    The man became obsessed with getting a concubine from Yossi and discussed at length how it was totally halachically legal. It would be the answer to his problem and he wouldn’t have to pay for non-Jewish prostitutes anymore. He called Yossi repeatedly, left messages, but never heard from him.

    Eventually the family was reunited, but I think that the whole subject of Torah-sanctioned relations outside of marriage for men is a valid one. If my patient had had access to a concubine, then perhaps his daughter would have been spared of his advances, and the family as a whole would not have suffered from his removal.

    At the time that concubines were halachically sanctioned, perhaps the rabbis knew of their usefulness, and how they did, indeed, help create shalom bayis.

  • Janice,

    If my patient had had access to a concubine, then perhaps his daughter would have been spared of his advances, and the family as a whole would not have suffered from his removal.

    interesting story, but I would get rid of the requirement for the mikveh before allowing the concubine.

  • shtreimel wrote “Actually, studies on this issue suggest that many people who view child/teen porn DON’T act on their impulses or interests.”
    and how many is many? that still doesn’t sound too promising.

    And Janice, seriously? It’s his DAUGHTER! pick someone up at a bar, hire a call girl, do what you have to do to get laid, but jesus, incest? Child molestation? that is completely unjustifiable no matter how long it’s been since you had any.

    “If my patient had had access to a concubine, then perhaps his daughter would have been spared of his advances, and the family as a whole would not have suffered from his removal.”

    suffered from his removal? are you kidding?

    “Eventually the family was reunited” is that supposed to be a good thing??? Putting a pedophile back with the daughter he was molesting so that they can continue to appear like a good wholesome family while he gets to finger the 11 year old while the wife is asleep?

    “At the time that concubines were halachically sanctioned, perhaps the rabbis knew of their usefulness, and how they did, indeed, help create shalom bayis.”

    I can’t imagine there would be a whole lot of Shalom Bayit in my house if my husband was sleeping with another woman “hi sweetie, here’s your dinner, how was work and your fuck with the concubine?”

    I assume that when the rabbis outlawed it, they also knew what they were doing.

  • Holy crap. You know, I’m a pretty simple guy. Growing up my family life was pretty straightforward and uncomplicated. I guess everyone was too frantic trying to make a living to indulge in the sorts of craziness and neuroses that seem to plague others. But even I know that child molestation and pedophelia has little to do with sex and sexuality and everything to do with power tripping and control. No amount of horniness will drive an otherwise healthy man to seek sex with a child. That’s just, pardon the lack of clinical terminology Janice, sick.

  • TM, i assumed the wife didn’t WANT to sleep with him, which led her to not go to the mikveh (so he couldn’t, more or less). This would indicate that there were certain issues of shalom bayit in that house before the husband got all sexually frustrated, not simply because if it.

  • Yknow, I TOTALLY understand you in readin gthe blog of someone you hate. (Not you, of course, I think you’re really cool.) But some people just piss the hell out of you yet you still want to knpw what they have to say. hmmm….

    Maybe its a pyschological thing.

  • Laya, we’re on the same page here. Although I’ve met women who refuse to go to the mikveh for other reasons.

    CK, I think your point about power and control may not cover the range of reasons. I’m thinking of celibate priests committing these crimes and I’m thinking that their problem may have been the unnatural avoidance of sexual contact for a prolonged period of time.

  • Dan, I believe you may have hit the nail on the head with respect to my visits to LGF (okay, and Jewschool).

  • The anger that was generated by my post is totally understandable — incest is disgusting and no one wants to even think about it. But I want to address a couple of points that were just made:

    The wife refused to go to the mikveh in support of her refusal to have sex with her husband. Not uncommon in the orthodox community.

    Family reunification was desired by everyone in the family. There were therapists for each member of the family — the man alone (who also had to go to a sex offender program), the couple together, the girl/victim alone, & family therapy. It worked out over the course of 3 years and he returned home. There are, of course, long-term repercussions which everyone will have to deal with throughout their lives.

    Having a concubine as the solution to the problem was the man’s idea and obsession. He obviously had no other problem-solving and coping skills to handle the stressors in his marriage which, you have to understand, was something the wife was culpable of as well. She had plenty of her own psychological problems.

    Concubinage is obviously not the solution for a troubled marriage. But it could have been one of many solutions when it was halachically permissible. I wasn’t practicing there at the time, so I’m just spectulating on the rationality of it. My former patient gave me the opportunity and knowledge about the issue that I felt I could share something to this conversation.

  • This is not a new story. I recall reading a similar story in the NYT Magazine about a frum Jew on Long Island who had a concubine living in his home (he said both his wife and Rabbi approved). I have no idea if it turned out to be a hoax or not.

  • Tamara: No it isn’t. The quoted story on JewishWhistlrBlower’s site is from 1996. The reason he posted it now is, I am guessing from the title: Shalom Bayis AKA pimps – Thank you NY DA’s office for shutting these morons down is that presumably, law enforcement got involved and shut them down. But I have no other details.

  • Dina: I read that the cross-dressing murderer wasn’t really frum at all, he was kind of a hanger-on, and everyone knew there was something wrong with him.

    Janice: the man in question was clearly sick. You want to make excuses for why he did what he did, enjoy yourself, but by reuniting the family, you may very well be considered an accessory to a crime the *next time* he molests his daughter.

    Anyway, if the man had such a terrible need for sex, he should have done exactly what the rabbis say you should do: put on mourning clothing, go very far away to where people won’t recognize you, and just do it. Be aware you are committing an aveirah, but do it, nevertheless. What you should not do is try to get a “concubine” and justify it with pseudo-halachic logic.

  • Sometimes we are our own worst enemy and don’t help the image of Jews with stuff like this. But like a bad car accident, we can’t help but stare and read the blog. Personally, I like to read blogs I disagree with, it helps keep you honest in your debates and helps you weigh and see other perspectives.

  • Um… concubinage was never forbidden. The Rashba maintains that it had been years earlier, but R’ Yaakov Emden maintained that it never was, that the Rashba was just coming from a christianized puritanical perspectivve, and that pilagshut was maybe a better alternative for Jewish kids wanting to copulate and make babies but not wanting to deal witht he boundaries of marriage. all this i’ve seen inside, hilchos Ya’abetz chapte 14 i tihink, excerpted and translated in Gershom Winkler’s “Path of the boundary crosser”

    Apocryphally, i’ve never seen this part inside, but i’ve heard that Yaakov Emden actually discussed putting a ban on marriage, using concubinage instead, so we wouldn’t have all the problems between couples that we had. he was talked out of it by the rabbis of the generation.

  • Sheesh! Can’t everyone stay on topic? The reunification of a family that suffered incest is not unusual in the mental health field if all of the professionals involved can set up (and agree) on the reunification criteria. This family wanted to be reunited and worked to achieve it.

    Laya, you keep calling this man a “pedophile” but are doing so erroneously. One component of the clinical definition of “pedophilia” is = “over a period of 6 months, recurrent, intense sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors involving sexual activity with a prepubescent child or children (generally age 13 years or younger.” Most perpetrators of incest are not considered “pedophiles” as their behaviors are an expression of the dysfunctional family dynamics. In this case, it was the poor marital relationship.

    My point in sharing my experience with this case was to give an actual example of how concubinage was considered, applied, discussed, whatever, so that it didn’t have to stay in the abstract. But my main point was to suggest (and this is where you can talk amongst yourselves) a situation where if it was permissible, some heinous crime might not have been committed.

  • Janice, how would you know when someone is predisposed to attacking their daughter as opposed to, say, initiating an affair with the neighbor’s wife (who, of course, is also a neighbor in her own right 😉 ).

    Since you probably wouldn’t know, isn’t creating this concubinage right going to create more problems than it solves? As an example, consider a family where the wife refuses to have sexual relations with the man because he is inconsiderate of her, or has hit her. This guy would then be able to blackmail her, or at least make her lose her leverage over him by “protecting” her body and keeping it from him, by simply taking on a concubine. In fact, wouldn’t a man be able to take on a concubine for any reason if the wife doesn’t do as he wishes?

  • Janice, i still disagree, if the man was just so damn sexually frustrated wouldn’t a prostitue or a good old fashioned affair be infinitly more appropriate? Rather than a sexually charged power play with his daughter?

    And do you know for a fact that he hadn’t been fantisizing about doing what he did for 6months or more, which would place him into the clinical definition of a pedophile anyway. And who’s to say how long it would have gone on had the daughter not told someone about it?

    Still i don’t understand why a cocubine is seen as a better or more interesting option that an affair, which people do all the time?

  • T.M. & Laya — you bring up some very good points. I had to leave a lot of other stuff about case out, of course, so I guess it’s hard to see the particular pathology of this one person. Needless to say, his obsession with getting a concubine was just one piece of the entire clinical picture.

    And as I’m sure you know T.M., a good marriage takes not only being considerate of one another, but a whole myriad of other skills as well. But it’s actually against Jewish law for a wife to avoid having relations with her husband when they are allowed to be together. And when a woman withholds sex, you know there is mishugas there!

  • For the record– there are also many laws pertaining to a man’s sexual obligations to his wife (mitzvat onah for starters).

  • Janice, maybe the guy was a pig, or didn’t bathe, or was insensitive etc. I believe that even in the context of marriage, a woman still has to consent to sex. If her lack of consent drives the husband bonkers, well, he ought to go for counseling, maybe talk to his wife about what’s going on, buy her nice presents, slip a tab of ecstacy into her cholent, get a divorce etc. I think there are about a zillion options that are better than the diddle with your 11 year old daughter option. Sure there may be mishugas somewhere, but there are ways to deal with it, and ways not to deal with it. The concubine / hooker option just seems like a weak-ass cop out. I have like less than zero sympathy for this man, if I can call a worm like him that.

  • I plead ignorance. What are the obligations of a wife and the obligations of a husband for observant Jews?

  • Here’s my knowledge on the subject:

    First off, much of the Ketub outlines the obligations that a husband has in marriage- to honor his wife, to provide for her food, clothing, shelter, and sexual satisfaction. Failure on any of these is grounds for divorce.

    also there are the ancient laws of onah, which assumed that a woman’s desire for sex was greater than a man’s, but that because of social mores of the time, she may be shy to ask for sex, so the laws obligated him to her a certian number of times per week/month depending on his occupation.

    I also have heard, but don’t have a source for at the moment (talmud?) that a union between husband and wife isn’t kosher until she orgasms (excuse my lack of ambiguous terminology).

    As far as a woman’s sexual obligations to her husband, i actually didn’t know judaism had those too, until Janice said so, so she’s probably more suited to say.

  • I am so saddened by this news. What a tragedy for this young woman.

    I would also request, humbly, that JewishWhistleBlower remove the offensive title, as this man’s sickness/crime have nothing to do with Rabbi Carlebach.

  • I was one of the United States Navy’s UDT/SEALS whose orders where signed by CIA director George H.W.Bush and executed those orders in Southeast Asia back in the seventies…for over twenty years I allowed depression to hold me hostage up until 1999 when I had a vision from the Creator of all…and laid those demons to rest finally. I took the lifes of many of the Lords children, for he created all of us…I was known as the “Glimmer Man of Cambodia”, Adam Wexler never abandoned me. I very rarely speak to those that have not been in the military on this subject because the human tendency is quick to judge…I know that when Adam Wexler and his family arrived in Israel in 1992 that he and his wife suffered from depression…and depression can put you in a vulnerable position mentally spiritually and physically. At the time of this incident this is where Adam found himself…and at the time due to the police state tactics that Israel practices Adam signed papers he did not fully understand to secure his release. I have lived celibate for over 14 years yet I yearn for a relationship like Adam has with his wife and family but America’s man made reality produces caricatures of human life and the pool of Godly women is but a trickle far and few in between. I would ordinarily agree with some of you; infact my beliefs would perhaps be more harsh but I am not a judge over man, and those that are judges over man know of something called mitigating circumstances. Remember none of us are worthy of Gods forgiveness yet it is available just upon the asking. Remember one other thing until you know all the facts do not be so rash to make judgement for none of you are without sin; and no one sin is great or less in the eyes of our Maker. Praise be to God.

  • You may all wish to consider the possibility the allegations against Adam Wexler may not be true. I would suggest that those who speculate on his “sickness” or motivations, or simply condemn him should allow the judicial process to run its course before judging him. There may be more to the story. False accusations destroy lives. I don’t believe anyone posting here can say with certainty they know the facts.

  • I arrived at ‘jewish whistle blowers’ as a result of a search I did on the modern day rate of Jewish incest. I’ve had no luck which is not necessarily a bad thing.
    I found out recently that my grandparents were in fact, uncle and niece. My grandfather married his brother’s daughter. My mother was the smaller of the only set of twins (fraternal) my grandparents had. She undeniably inherited the 2 recessive genes. She was crippled by MS by the time she was 50 and dead by 60. My sister and I both have Crohn’s Disease and my brother died at 44 from complications from MS that he’s been diagnosed with at 18 or 19.
    I’ve only just found out about this (I’m 50). I researched the phenomenon in the Jewish community and discovered that it was a directive from ‘the man’ himself via the torah and the talmud.
    I hope to dog that this doesn’t happen these days but I’m told that it is likely among the most ignorant and screwed up among us; ie the hassidim.
    Does anyone know of this or know anyone else who is living the reality?

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