Sometimes I feel that the main impetus of the fanatic youth wing of the religious Zionist movement is not a pure and intense love for the land of Israel, but rather misapplied sexual frustration built up from brushing up against so many orange-clad hotties while occupying synagogues and dumping paint on police officers. Certainly the War for the West Bank from certain angles looks like a sort of apocalyptic twist on sleepaway camp, and it ain’t sleepaway camp without youthful hormones zinging through the air like rocks and rubber bullets.

Well, I have good news for our nation’s frustrated youth. According to a professor at Bar Ilan University, noted for producing such interesting projects as the CD Jewish text database and Yigal Amir, Judaism permits premarital sex.

According to an article by Professor Tzvi Zohar of Bar Ilan University, which has aroused fervent debate in religious Zionist circles, the answer [to the question of whether premarital sex is permitted] is yes, but only if the relationship is based on mutual respect and the woman immerses herself in a mikve [ritual bath].

Zohar’s article, which appears in the latest edition of Akdamot, an academic journal on Jewish thought published by Beit Morasha, analyzes the opinions of leading halachic authorities from the Middle Ages, such as Nachmanides, to the modern era, such as Rabbi Ya’acov Emden, and shows that many permitted sexual relations without marriage.

In the arrangement, sanctioned by Jewish law according to these opinions, the woman becomes a pilegesh, or concubine. Neither the man nor the woman has any obligations or rights. Both must adhere to family purity laws in accordance with halacha.

According to halacha, a man is not allowed to come into physical contact with a woman after she has menstruated until she has immersed herself in a mikve. This prohibition is called nida.

Young religious men and women who are committed to the halacha need no longer struggle with their libido, argues Zohar. All those hormones can be channeled into a kosher communion that is free of marital obligations.

“Mom, Dad, I’d like to you meet someone. Her name is Shira. She’s my concubine. I think she might be the one.”

I, for one, am all in favor. What’s better for the Jewish nation: that the religious Zionist kids should be taking to the rooftops with cinder blocks, or taking to the back room to hump like Jerusalem stray cats?

But the best quote is this:

“There are certain laws that are best kept secret. Zohar’s article will give some young people the justification they were looking for. Nobody wants to be a sinner.”

“Shit! If we let them know that they’re not breaking any rules, they might take advantage of it and start not breaking rules!” Other secret Jewish laws include permission to eat Burger King cheeseburgers but godforbid not McDonalds, permission to masturbate on the second Sunday of every month, permission to strike your wife but only if the bitch keeps breaking your balls in front of company, and permission to have disobedient children taken to the village gates before the elders and stoned to death.

Wait, I didn’t make that last one up.

Of course, the fact that Judaism apparently legally sanctions obligation-free shtupping and has an official halakhic status of “unpaid-if-respected-whore” kind of throws a wrench at all those people who make a living writing about the perfect holiness of the Jewish family ideal. But whatever keeps these damned kids inside, you know?

Now we just need somebody at Bar-Ilan to dig up a Nachmanides quote on the Pill and we’re all fucking set.

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21 Comments

  • two questions: what would the status of/obligations to children born out of concubinage be? also, might an argument be made against concubinage due to the negative reaction of larger society (which was the arguement made against polygamy in the middle ages i think)?

  • Plenty of rabbis say the pill is permitted. Condoms, no, pill yeah.

    Which actually then I’m curious if the article mentioned safe sex. Doubt it.

  • you didn’t necessarily make the second to last one up either and apparently if you assassinate a prime minister, you can jack off into a cup

  • Unfortunatly amechad, I spent half an hour searching and couldn’t find it, in english, or hebrew. If someone else has more luck, I’d love to read the article myself, though, please don’t jump to the conclution that I’d wish to rely on it. Rather, I’d like to see if he addresses the common reasons given by the Rabbinate as to why it’s not allowed, or as the article seems to imply, just focuses on strict letter of middle ages law. In which case there is less to argue about, since a Pilegesh was actual practice in the past, but it’s not done today.

  • If you really want to be someone’s concubine, far be from me to stop you.

    but all the free loving in the 60’s didn’t seem to do much to stop the protesting and rioting

  • I used to think this way as well, that the reasons for example, that the “Hareidim” kids throw rocks on Shabbos, and get into violence, on their so called day of rest, is bec. they have no outlet for their natural sexual instincts, leaving aside what may go on in their dorms. But that would negate the Torah values. So it could be that they are merely sheep people, being led by their leaders to dastardly acts.

  • NYC women don’t want to be pilagshot. At least the women I know don’t. Once again, this is a wonderful loopholey chance to subvert the written in a way that allows men to have their, er, cake while still requiring women to do all the work.

    And I think it’s kind of cute/interesting that you boys did two posts on this issue. I think that’s the first time this has ever happened. And yes, I hate the slow posting and loading too. And for equal opportunity commenting, I’m also posting this on the other post….

  • That little line about the halachic “permission to have disobedient children taken to the village gates before the elders and stoned to death?” Yeah, that was my Bar Mitzvah Torah portion on 9/9/95. Ki titze lamil hamah, al oyvecha…That’s all I remember in Hebrew. But I do remember certain translated phrases from this oh-so-Deuteronomous passage: If you have a wayward and defiant son, you may take him to the town elders and proclaim, “This is my son. He will not heed his parents. He is a drunkard and a glutton.” Then he shall be stoned to death in the town square.

    I love my torah portion. So metal.

  • For all the talk about frustrated yeshiva guys – we notice the it’s the middle and michael that are all over this story.

    Can you say “projection”?

  • Don’t read too much into that, Ben David, we don’t have any yeshiva boys posting for us. I should say, however, that this is a more positive development for Michael than for me. When I mentioned this story to my wife, she laughed and told me to go do the dishes.

  • About ten years ago, the Ungvar Rebbe in Boro Park, aka Menashe HaKaton Klein set up an organization called Shalom Bayis. They sent out a list of edicts, including a moratorium on gets for ten years and they set up a pilegesh hotline. That was pre-blog and net days and I have all the hard copy from Elle, the Washington Post, New York magazine, and lots more, including the original faxes they sent to their “chevra” with the “rules” of the game. There are still pilagshot in BP and Monsey and places like that, but it is very underground. The jokes were flying, but I finally called The Boss, Morgenthau, gave him the phone number and in a matter of week, the Pilegesh Hotline was history. Women were considerably pissed off. The rationale, including one that said concubines prevent AIDS (!!!!?????), and that you could marry your wife for her midos and get a pilegesh for fun…and stuff about summer vacations and saving marriages…well you get the picture.

  • Esther,
    What do you mean that women will still have to do the work? What work? Also, why wouldn’t NYC women go for it? I think in modern times, pilagshot would not be translated as “concubines” and certainly not like Michael’s “unpaid-if-respected-whore”. Perhaps it would be more along the lines of either girlfriend or even better, friends with benefits (yes, I’m linking to your post on FWBs, Est).

  • Drew, women are still the ones expected to go to the mikvah and be attentive to all of the rules. And besides, I’ve waited this long for the right guy, I’m not sharing him. This is no HBO Sunday night show, you know. And as far as this being interpreted as a girlfriend or FWB situation, I’m pretty sure that’s a stretch, halakhically.

    Although I can’t help but think that after having given a speech endorsing polygamy (even if it was offered in jest), Pimp Daddy might be willing to fund a pilegesh program if it produced more Jewish babies…

  • Esther – women don’t have to share a husband – just vials of seed. Check on this Sunday’s NY Times for an astounding – and astoundingly one-sided – article on this new phenom.

  • now you have to explain why the israeli left is much more hysterical,maybe its the result of having anal sex with arabs

  • Come on peeps, is not having premarital sex THAT big of a deal? Does it kill you?
    I personally have no interest in having a concubine or whatever. I want to get married, and that’s it (preferably just once…divorce sucks).

    Until then, I can wait on the sex. So you could most of you I’m sure.

    Worst pickup line ever: Hey, baby, you’re looking nice. How’d you like to be my pilegesh?

    This is whack. Not all things that are permitted are necessarily recommended. If the U.S. legalized polygamy tommorow, I wouldn’t recommend Sephardi men to go out and marry two women, even though, technically, that would be permitted. (If you don’t know why that would be a bad idea…better read up on some thangs). Same goes for this whole deal. Y’all feel me?

  • Zohar was just trying to address the obvious reality that otherwise observant peeps are getting it on; this as opposed to the standard rabbinic response of feigning ignorance. The article is an original reading of ye old sources and hits on a few topics (nidah, children, etc.) that might help those frisky ones among us who want to observe some but apparently not all the laws. It all seems pretty pragmatic. Except for the admittedly gauche usage of “pilegesh.”

    [If that didn’t sound too much like an infomercial: Disclaimer: I know Prof Zohar and saw an early draft of the article.]

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