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Friday, September 01, 2006



I've been doing some blogging on other blogs, notably that during the Three Weeks, when there wasn't too much to post about Negina, I was posting on Batya's Shiloh Musings blog. In addition, I've had a few guest postings on our good friend, A Simple Jew's blog: Speak to the Heart of Yerushalayim, and Assurances from the Parsha. However, it's high time that I should be doing more posting here, so without further ado:

Note: this can also be found on the new Modzitz Yahoo website.

Why Does the Torah Permit Her?

based on a ma’amar by Rebbe Yisrael Dan ZT”L of Modzitz, 5758

“When you go out to war against your enemies, and Hashem your G-d will give you victory over them, so that you will take captives. And if you see a beautiful [married] woman amongst the captives, you may take her as a wife. [Devarim 21:10-11]

The Nachalas Dan [previous Modzitzer Rebbe ZT”L] asks, how could this be, since those who went out to war were complete tzaddikim [righteous people], since those who were afraid or faint of heart [because of their sins – Rashi] [Devarim 20:8] were sent home? How could they have a desire for a non-Jewish woman, to such an extent that if the Creator would not have permitted him to take her, he would have done so anyway, even in violation of the Divine Command? [Kiddushin, 21b].

Furthermore, the Rebbe notes that the Torah is extremely stringent in the area of sexual immorality, and has added many stringencies in order to safeguard it, as evidenced by the following amazing passage in the Gemara [Sanhedrin 75a]:

Rabbi Yehuda said in Rav's name: A man once developed a passion for a certain woman, and his heart was consumed by his burning desire [his life being endangered thereby]. When the doctors were consulted, they said, 'His only cure is that she shall cohabit with him [have relations].' Thereupon the Sages said: 'Let him die rather than that she should cohabit with him.' Then [the doctors suggested,] 'Let her stand naked before him.' [The Sages answered,] 'Let him die rather than that she should stand naked before him'. 'Then', [said the doctors], 'let her converse with him from behind a barrier'. 'Let him die,' [the Sages replied,] 'rather than she should converse with him from behind a barrier.'

Still further, our Sages in Masechta Brachos [3b] tell of an inquiry made to King David:

After the break of dawn, the Sages of Israel came in to see him and said to him: “Our master, the King, your people Israel need sustenance! He said to them: Let them go out and make a living one from the other. They said to him: A handful cannot satisfy a lion, nor can a pit be filled up with its own earth [it’s not enough]. He said to them: Then go out in troops and attack [the enemy for plunder]. They at once took counsel with Achitofel and consulted the Sanhedrin and questioned the Urim and Tumim.

Rashi explains that they asked the Sanhedrin’s permission to go to war, so that they should pray for their success in battle; and they questioned the Urim and Tumim* if they would be successful. However, once they Urim and Tumim responded that they would be victorious, why did they need the Sanhedrin to pray for them?

The Rebbe ZT”L explains that warfare was a tool given to Esav and his descendants, as the verse says, “upon your sword shall you live” [Breishis, 27:40]. The Midrash [Yalkut Shimoni, Yisro 20] relates that they were so immersed in bloodshed that they refused to accept the Torah because of it. For when they asked what was written in it, they were told, “Do not murder.” They responded, “This is our inheritance from our forefather – upon your sword shall you live.” [That is, we cannot accept it under these conditions].

The Jewish People, on the other hand, accepted the Torah unconditionally. As a result, their yetzer hara, evil inclination, had no influence over them. From them on, they were given the power to overcome it. Our Sages say [Sukka, 52b] that if Hashem didn’t help, we couldn’t overcome it. This was the “help” that He gave us. Even if the yetzer returned [after they subsequently sinned with the Golden Calf], nevertheless an “impression” was made on their hearts, and this would help them to overcome the yetzer.

However, upon going out to war, which was in the domain of Esav, they feared that their ability to fight the yetzer would be impaired. If they started out under duress – in a state of war, they still might end up willingly marrying a non-Jewish woman. For this reason, they Torah needed to permit the taking of the beautiful woman, and the Jewish People needed to ask the Sanhedrin to pray for them – so that they shouldn’t fall from their lofty level of purity at a time of war.

*Note: See Shemos, 28:30. According to Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan [The Living Torah], “The Urim and Tumim would be consulted like an oracle. The High Priest would meditate on the stones until he reached a level of Divine inspiration. He would see the breastplate with inspired vision, and the letters containing the answer would appear to light up or stand out. With his Divine inspiration, the High Priest would then be able to combine the letters to spell out the answer.”

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