Sunday, July 29, 2007

Links to my Tu B'Av posts (serious discussion welcome)


Blogger rivkayael said...

Re. your shomer negiah post, I think the "draconian" aspect comes of a very familiar problem--people not knowing the halacha and erecting lots and lots of chumrot around it such that the original intention of halacha is lost.
The gemara itself seems to have a significantly less stringent view on human sexuality, and I am still waiting for someone knowledgeable to actually post *sources*.
Not that I'm against shomer negiah. Made up halachot (ie. minhag of the past 100 years or so, and passed off as "law) just irritate me.

Tue Jul 31, 12:12:00 PM 2007  
Blogger rivkayael said...

Ie. shmirat negiah does exist, but what chazal intended as "shmirat negiah" is actually not the form that is practiced today.

Tue Jul 31, 12:17:00 PM 2007  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

RivkaYael, please educate me: What did Chazal intend? (Um, Chazal = Chachamim, zichronam l'tovah, The Wise Ones, may their memory be for good?) What are the "original" rules?

Tue Jul 31, 08:59:00 PM 2007  
Blogger rivkayael said...

i am really not in a position to say ie. can't cite sources right now but off google Rambam, Issurei Bi'a 21:1 -any touching that gives pleasure to a man is forbidden. So any touching that *doesn't* is not forbidden (eg shaking hands in a business context)? Need to do more research on this, but I recall somewhere that the hilchot of negiah are actually in the realm of d'rabbanan, not d'orita.

Wed Aug 01, 12:08:00 PM 2007  
Blogger Eliyahu said...

in my view, the creator would never have given us such a powerful desire if she had not meant for us to use it. strict "rules" for any society are usually widely disregarded or circumvented. hope the world to come is as much fun as being here.

Wed Aug 01, 09:55:00 PM 2007  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

RivkaYael, now *that* makes sense.

Eliyahu, I agree on all counts.

Thu Aug 02, 10:39:00 AM 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with Miriam Shaviv's view; these rules (which are, to put it charitably, not obviously present in the written Torah) were generated for communities where most people were married by 20, if not earlier.

Thus, they still make some sense in hareidi communities where most people ARE married quite early.

But they also may make sense for teenagers. So, oddly enough, the day school norm has caused the survival of shomer negiah, as administrators try to protect middle and high schools against early sex. If Orthodox children still went to public schools as they did in the first half of the 20th century, shomer negiah might well have disappeared, or have been narrowed quite significantly.

Thu Aug 02, 02:09:00 PM 2007  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

"the day school norm has caused the survival of shomer negiah, as administrators try to protect middle and high schools against early sex." Nice Jewish Girl herself said, " I do believe that being S.N. makes sense especially in a person’s teenage years and their early twenties if they are still single then." The "no touching" rules do make sense for people who marry in their late teens or early twenties, as it gives one a legitimate excuse not to be pressured into doing something that one really isn't ready and/or willing to do. But they're totally unreasonable when applied to 41-year-olds.

Thu Aug 02, 05:18:00 PM 2007  
Blogger Elie said...

I don't remember the exact source but there's an amora (sage) in the gemara who says "The reason I'm on such a high level is that I married at sixteen. And if I had married at fourteen I'd be even greater." This supports the theory the the SN rules are much easier to follow when folks married younger.

I also think the concept of fences around the law is a very useful model to understand the SN restrictions. Perhaps chazal's idea was that if even touching is forbidden, maybe those with difficult-to-control urges will be able to stop there and not go as far as to break the actual Biblical sexual prohibitions.

Sun Aug 05, 10:30:00 AM 2007  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

"Perhaps chazal's idea was that if even touching is forbidden, maybe those with difficult-to-control urges will be able to stop there and not go as far as to break the actual Biblical sexual prohibitions." Elie, I agree. My issue is that at some point, it becomes unreasonable for human beings to be expected to continue to refrain from even the remotest expression of sexuality. To ask a 15-year-old, or even a 25-year-old, to abstain from sex is entirely different from asking the same of a 35-year-old. I think it's sad that halachah makes so little concession to normal human needs.

Mon Aug 06, 05:48:00 PM 2007  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Received by e-mail from Noam, the blogger formerly known as Dilbert :

As my kids get older, I have also been thinking about the negiah issue. Firstly, there is a very respectable opinion(Tosafot at the end of Kiddushin) that Negiah only applies to touching that produces pleasure(the term used is 'derech chiba'). Therefore, casual touching, shaking hands, etc. is either chumrah, a different opinion, or the 'making fences' approach. I haven't yet had a chance to look at the laws further to see what the 'bottom line' prohibitions are.

The issue of homosexuality is obviously more complex. For those of us who believe in the Divinity of the Torah, the ban against homosexuality is one that must be obeyed whether we agree or not. Just because one doesn't agree, or thinks it is cruel, doesn't change the Divine nature of the law. (one could make the same arguement that Noah Feldman(New York TImes magazine article a few weeks ago) made, that we should not frown on mixed marriages, and it is cruel not to let someone marry the person he/she loves, just because they are not of our religion. At some point, Divine law is not totally intelligible to humans. If it was, we would be making it ourselves, and deciding ourselves what our religion is or isn't. Of course, we do have some power within limits to do that, but we have been given certain 'red lines' that we cannot cross. Once you deny the presence of 'red lines', you have removed the law from the realm of God and made it a totally person made endeavor, albeit with 'suggestions' from God. To paraphrase the reform, God and Halacha have to have a veto in some cases, not just a vote. that doesn't mean we have to ostrasize homosexuals or not care or be compassionate or feel deeply their pain. However, we cannot condone or support what is against a very clear and obvious Halacha.(Rabbi Elliot Dorf has written a responsa on homosexuality where he permits it. Among the arguements he makes is that it isn't clear exactly what is meant in the Torah in the prohibition. This is very disingenuous. The wording(in my bar mitzvah parshas no less) is very clear and unambiguous. (see Acharei Mot- last part, the one that is read on Yom Kippur at Mincha time, and Kiddoshim).

Ultimately it is a question of theodicy, but with a twist. Here, theoretically, we could change the law so that bad things dont happen to good people. However, we cant change the law, without denying the Divine nature of the law. Thus we are partners with God in bad things happening to good people. But, if we can depend on our belief that the law is Divine, we can also depend on our belief that God's plan is just, even is we dont see it.

Tue Aug 14, 01:05:00 PM 2007  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

My e-mailed reply to Noam:

I like the idea that shmirat negiah applies only to situations in which touching gives pleasure. It seems to me that that's the whole point. Banning hand-shaking does seem to me to be "a 'fence' too far."

As for the homosexuality ban, you may have guessed that I have a serious problem with being "partners with God in bad things happening to good people." You say that "we cant change the law, without denying the Divine nature of the law." I guess that's pretty much where I stand, and certainly one of the main reasons why I'm hard-pressed to imagine myself ever becoming Orthodox.

Tue Aug 14, 01:08:00 PM 2007  

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