Monday, August 23, 2010

More troubling texts from Ki Tetze

There are other parts of Parshat Ki Tetze (Deuteronomy 21:10-25:19) that disturb me in addition to the one mention in my previous post. There's the commandment to kill a rebellious son by stoning (21:18-21). It's to the credit of our ancient sages that they made so many rules about who was eligible for this death penalty that they claimed that this commandment was never carried out. Then there's the death penalty for a married woman who's found not to have been a virgin on her wedding night (22:13-21). (Note that there's no similar penalty for a married man--see 22:28-29.) My husband and I discussed this on the way home from shul (synagogue) on Shabbat (Sabbath) after the morning services, and concluded that the rabbis probably mitigated this rule in their usual manner: They probably insisted that the then-unmarried female be warned not to have sex, then they probably insisted on there being two witnesses to prove that she'd defied the warning. That's our uneducated guess.

[ ¶ ]

In a comment to my previous post, Larry said, "Ultimately, I can be satisfied with the pragmatic answer that many of these laws are not in force any longer, and no one (outside of a small fringe) is seeking to restore any of them prior to the Messianic age." There are times when I think that we might be better off without a Messianic age, if the coming of the Mashiach means a reversion to ancient laws that simply don't sit well with our contemporary sense of ethics.

[ ¶ ]

As to the problem that a woman can't give a man a get/Jewish religious divorce (24:1), they're still working on that one. Sigh.


Blogger Larry Lennhoff said...

Personally I interpret the prophecy that during the Messianic age 'the Earth will be filled with the knowledge of Hashem as the waters fill the sea' to imply a fundamental change in human nature. That's why I'm not opposed at this time to a post-Messianic re-inauguration of sacrifices, for example. I think how people will react to them will be fundamentally different than if sacrifices were restarted today.

Anyway, I'm willing to wait and see on bad days, and eager to find out on good ones.

Mon Aug 23, 09:31:00 AM 2010  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Larry, I guess we're going to have to agree to disagree on the resumption of animal sacrifices--I've never seen the point of having an innocent animal die for my sins. On the other hand, my brother, years ago when he was still Orthodox, disagreed with me--he said that, as long as we're killing animals for food anyway, we might as well do it as part of worship, and he did have a point. I have no objection to sacrifices that don't involve the slaughter of animals.

But I would like to see the world filled with the knowledge of HaShem.

Mon Aug 23, 10:40:00 AM 2010  
Blogger rivkayael said...

I'm totally on board with korban todah = big communal barbecue!!

Also: soft matza.

Mon Aug 23, 06:04:00 PM 2010  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Korban Todah--Thanksgiving Offering. No vicarious atonement at an innocent animal's expense. Great point, great idea, RivkaYael.

Well, it was, until I started to think about it. Somehow, the thought of having a giant slaughterhouse be part of our worship just doesn't sit well with my contemporary sensibilities.

Soft matza, on the other hand . . . It's just another instance in which you Sefardim have a better idea than us Ashkenazim. We get stuck eating "cardboard" for 8 days straight. :(

Tue Aug 24, 12:17:00 PM 2010  

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