I know the story of the recent halachic ruling by Rabbi Ari Shvat regarding Israeli honey pots was already covered by themiddle, I nonetheless decided to revisit the issue in a little more detail while also throwing in a photo of a hot spy woman (the new Nikkita for those of you who are wondering). Some took offense at the notion of a male Rabbi telling women what they can and cannot do with their bodies, likening the whole exercise to Rabbinically sanctioned porn. Others were titillated by the notion of Rabbis allowing and even extolling extra-marital sex under certain conditions, whereas others still were wondering where they could sign up to be an enemy of the State of Israel and how soon they could expect delivery of a hot Israeli honey trap.
For me the ruling was interesting on several levels, for instance, for what it said almost as much as for what it omitted. Like, would the Israeli agent in question be allowed to wear pants while seducing an enemy? If said seduction lead to dancing, would that too be ok? Rabbi Shvat only mentions female agents, but would a male agent be allowed to take one for the team, so to speak, if it meant saving Jewish lives? Surely, despite our awesome Gay pride parades and Drag Queen extravaganzas, we must have some homosexual enemies, no? And if the enemy was a lesbian would that have any kind of detrimental effect on the female agent’s marital status?
All that is fine and good but the thing that most troubled me was the following quote from an interview with Rabbi Shvat:
â€Ž”Women interested in becoming “Valentine operatives,” must realize they will not be able to marry a Cohen Jewish priest), the rabbi noted, adding that the matter would probably not deter such women, since “these missions may naturally be tasked to women who are already promiscuous.” ” (emphasis mine)
This strikes me as being very, very wrong, guided more by distorted perceptions of contemporary female sexuality than by any kind of biblical precedent.
Now I’m not a Rabbi (well, sorta) but the article made mention of Yael wife of Heber the Kenite. Nowhere in that narrative is it mentioned that Yael actually slept with Sisera, general of the Canaanite army before driving a tent peg through his head with a hammer. Also not instructive is the story of Esther because she wasn’t married (though some Midrashim claim that she was in fact married to her Uncle Mordechai who urged her to marry the King Achashverosh. Ewww.). So neither of these are instructive. Similarly Judith, the daughter of Yochanan the high priest was a widow when she sought out and “seduced” Assyrian General Holofernes before plying him with cheese and wine and then lopping off his head. No indication of sexual intercourse there at all. Let me also add at this point that Judith was not what one would call promiscuous. Despite many offers, she never remarried. Yael for her part, was noted for her modesty and blessed even more than Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah, the Jewish Matriarchs.
I can only assume then that Rabbi Ari Shvat, with all due respect, has no idea what he’s talking about when he talks about promiscuity. I understand that the Haredi world has a limited perception of what that entails as the only “promiscuous” women they ever come across are secular women with a payes (side lock) fetish or actual prostitutes that they hire on those out of town trips taken to secure booty in a way that would not embarrass their uhm, “frigid” wives.
Rabbi Shvat could not possibly imagine his God fearing and modest wife or daughters engaging in such an abhorrent, albeit massively important mitzvah. Better leave that to the sluts, right?
Wrong Rabbi Shvat. Your own cited precedents demonstrate quite clearly that in the past, women who engaged in such activities in order to save Jewish lives were extremely God fearing and extremely modest. Look at Yael. She used a hammer and a tent peg to dispatch the sleeping General Sisera. Why a tent peg? Wasn’t there a sword or a spear around? Well apparently, swords and spears are weapons of war usually associated with men. Yael felt that using these would be immodest so she went through the trouble of killing Sisera with a tent peg instead, associated with women because they were in charge of setting up the tents. She thus preserved her modesty at great risk to her life since killing Sisera with a sword or spear would have been much faster.
What’s the lesson here? That whoever goes out and engages in such activities is in fact doing a great mitzvah. There ought not be any presumption of prior promiscuity. Acting as a honey pot and saving the Jews is not the sole domain of the sluts. I appreciate Rabbi Shvat’s attempt to fashion halacha that takes into account modern realities, but if you’re going to address such realities, you should probably get out of the house a bit more.