Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Parshat Vayeshev

You can read the basics here.

Here are some oldies of mine:
I've said it before and I've say it again: "Tamar was nearly burned alive by Yehudah for committing the same sex act that Yehudah had committed, indicating that our Biblical ancestors thought that it was perfectly acceptable to seek a prostitute, but not to be one." Yes, I know I sound like the 21st-century western female that I am. So sue me.

Update, Thursday, December 15, 2011:
I forgot to mention the devious brothers--not only did they sell Yosef into slavery, they politely "forgot" to mention this to their brother Reuven, who had hoped to rescue him, leaving poor Reuven to believe that Yosef was dead, or, at best, kidnapped. Presumably, that was deliberate, since Reuven might very well have felt obligated, as the oldest son, to tell their father Yaakov/Jacob the truth, if he'd know it.


Anonymous Dov said...


Tamar was still in a state of quasi-marriage, as she was bound to Judah's family by the laws of levirate marriage of the time. Therefore she was considered an adulterer. You agree there is a difference between adultery and prostitution or solicitation of it, no?

Wed Dec 14, 07:33:00 PM 2011  
Blogger Miami Al said...

The Torah says to not let your daughters become prostitutes.

The idea of prohibiting the solicitation of prostitution is VERY recent, a combination of puritanism and an attempt to make it easier to go after prostitutes because now you have something to hold over the client to force their cooperation.

In the 18th and 19th century, it was public knowledge and completely accepted for men of means to seek professional companionship, but the women have always been prosecuted.

Thu Dec 15, 10:00:00 AM 2011  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Dov, thanks for mentioning the levirate-marriage issue. It's true that, according to the rules of levirate marriage, Tamar would have been considered an adulteress. That fact does cast this story in a different light.

Miami Al, I guess I'll have to assume that male prostitution was not considered an issue at that time, or, presumably, the prohibition against letting your child become a prostitute would have applied to sons, as well. Whether male prostitution was not considered an issue because women weren't free to seek sex or because male homosexuality was taboo is an interesting question.

In both cases, the males were in control. Only they could free a childless widow to remarry (which remains true to this day in halachah/Jewish religious law), and only they were free to have sex with any unmarried person of the opposite gender without public condemnation.

It's sad that both the Bible-based levirate marriage and the rabbinic-based ketubah (marriage contract) were originally intended to protect women, but seem to have become weapons for use against women, instead.

Thu Dec 15, 11:07:00 AM 2011  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

I just posted a new thought about Reuven and his conspiring younger brothers that you might want to read.

So help me, every time I edit a post on my office computer, the formatting gets worse. :( If I have time tonight, I'll try to fix it on my home computer.

Thu Dec 15, 11:50:00 AM 2011  
Blogger Miami Al said...

Pretty sure that any reference to prohibiting male prostitution would have been unlikely to survive the Greek occupation of Judea.

Thu Dec 15, 03:06:00 PM 2011  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Miami Al, you're probably right.

Thu Dec 15, 05:07:00 PM 2011  

Post a Comment

<< Home

<< List
Jewish Bloggers
Join >>