Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Pilegesh in Our Times

Haftorah Parashat Chukat
Shoftim 11:1-33
The Connection between the Haftorah and the Torah Reading
This week’s haftorah, describes how the people of Israel were attacked by the nation of Ammon, whereupon the elders of Israel called upon Yiftach to battle with Ammon. Yiftach attempted to negotiate a peaceful resolution, by sending a delegation to reason with the king of Ammon; but the latter remained inflexible. Yiftach then successfully led his countrymen in battle. They were victorious and eliminated the Ammonite threat, and Yiftach became the leader of Israel. The haftorah is connected to Parashat Chukat, by teaching us the importance of absolute support for our acknowledged Torah leadership. Yiftach was the recognized leader and a prophet, although logically he wasn’t the most suitable candidate for leadership. His maternal lineage was questionable, and he was not the greatest scholar. Nevertheless, he was accorded the absolute support of the halacha and the people, as the Talmud teaches: “Yiftach in his generation was like Samuel in his generation” (Babylonian Talmud, Rosh HaShana 25b). Likewise, the statute of the Parah Aduma (Red Heifer) described in Parashat Chukat, teaches us the importance of accepting the laws of the Torah, even when we are unable to understand their reason. Thus, both the parashah and the haftorah teach us not to rely on our own sense of logic, but rather to have faith in the halachic authority as brought down by the Rabbis in each generation. This is the foundation of our legal system and the eternal transmission of Torah.

Son of a Harlot
“Now Yiftach the Gileadite was a mighty man of valor, and he was the son of a harlot, and Gilead begot Yiftach” (Shoftim 11:1). It was necessary for Scripture to emphasize that Gilead was the father of Yiftach, since it is usually difficult to identify the father of the children of harlots. Although Yiftach is called son of a harlot (zona), Yiftach’s mother was not a regular harlot. Many commentators, including Radak and Malbim hold that Gilead’s first wife was a concubine, rather than a prostitute. A concubine (pilegesh) is not necessarily a second wife, but a woman with whom a man has a physical relationship without a chupah (canopy) and marriage contract. Radak explains that she is called a harlot because she lives with her man without a ketubah (marriage contract) and without the holiness of being properly married (kedushin). For this reason, she is considered in the category of being a harlot, even if she is dedicated to one man alone. Gilead had a relationship with Yiftach’s mother without being properly married to her, because she was from a different tribe. At that time, there was a tradition in Israel, not to marry outside of the tribe, in order that the land should not be removed from one tribe to another (Radak, The Book of Shoftim 11:1).

The Pilegesh Outburst in our Times
I was quite shocked, when I learned that, nowadays, there are people engaged in pre-marital or extramarital sex, among those who consider themselves modern orthodox. They justify their actions, to be halachically valid under the category of pilegesh. It is easy to understand why a pilegesh relationship would be ideal for certain noncommittal men, concerned about their personal pleasure. As one man seeking a pilegesh explained,” It is less stressful than an affair, and longer lived than a fling or that elusive one-night stand. It’s still a cA pilegesh is a woman that you are mekadesh, but dont give a kesubah to. I would assume you would need a get to finish the relationship. But it allows casual relationships as since there is no kesubah, you dont have to feed her, house her, bury her, heal her, redeem her and so on, and you dont have to pay her a lump sum upon divorce.. A pilegesh is a woman that you are mekadesh, but dont give a kesubah to. I would assume you would need a get to finish the relationship. But it allows casual relationships as since there is no kesubah, you dont have to feed her, house her, bury her, heal her, redeem her and so on, and you dont have to pay her a lump sum upon divorce.. A pilegesh is a woman that you are mekadesh, but dont give a kesubah to. I would assume you would need a get to finish the relationship. But it allows casual relationships as since there is no kesubah, you dont have to feed her, house her, bury her, heal her, redeem her and so on, and you dont have to pay her a lump sum upon divorce.. A pilegesh is a woman that you are mekadesh, but dont give a kesubah to. I would assume you would need a get to finish the relationship. But it allows casual relationships as since there is no kesubah, you dont have to feed her, house her, bury her, heal her, redeem her and so on, and you dont have to pay her a lump sum upon divorce..asual relationship without a ketubah, no need to feed her, house her, heal her, bury her etc. You could also do a week with her and then end the relationship if you like.” It is quite disturbing to read that the fastest growing Jewish relationship sites on the web are promoting Jewish Polygamy and the pilegesh relationship. One such site has recently passed the ten thousand visits mark, which is close to three thousand visitors a month on average. Sites as these “help” not only “religious” men but even couples finding a Jewish pilegesh. Surprisingly; more than ten percent of the members of such sites are women seeking to be a pilegesh. Why would a woman choose to lower herself to a status that was always considered degrading compared to having the rights of a full-fledged wife? In a letter called “Confession” written October 9th, 2007, an anonymous woman explains: “I’ve been a pilegesh for three years with two different men (not at the same time obviously). I keep all the rules. If you saw me in the street, I’d look the same as the other girls. The desperate, naive shidduch daters. I’m frum. I went to a religious high school. Once I turned eighteen, it seemed I would have to get married to be able to act on the feelings I’d been having for a few years. I didn’t like the idea of having to settle down, but it didn’t seem I had a choice. Then I met a girl who changed my life. She was a few years older than me and introduced me to the idea. Not long after, I met my first boyfriend… What I’m doing is not acceptable in the frum community. I understand why it can’t be. If everyone did this, chaos would ensue... I’m glad that I don’t have to get married in order to have this kind of relationship. I believe what I’m doing is halachically valid, even if it’s not accepted. Sure it can be difficult, but on the whole I feel it’s liberating.”

Halachic Justification?
This anonymous woman, who faithfully keeps the laws of mikvah and waits three months between relationships, is convinced, like most others, who allow themselves to become a pilegesh or to have one or more, that this institution is halachically permitted. This misconception is backed up by certain “Rabbis” who “halachically” justify the institution. One of the pilegesh websites even claims to be under ultra orthodox Rabbinic supervision. Yet, most if not all of the “Rabbis” promoting sexuality without marriage are far from orthodox. Jewish renewal Rabbi, Arthur Waskow, ordained by Rabbi Laura Geller, and Dr. Judith Plaskow, questions whether it is desirable to forbid all sexual relationships between unmarried people, and thereby insist on celibacy for an enormous proportion of Jews in their 20s and 30s, and for divorced Jews. He writes, “From biblical tradition on, there has been a category for legitimate non-marital sexual relationships that could be initiated and ended by either party without elaborate legalities It was called pilegesh, usually translated “concubine,” though it meant something more open, free, and egalitarian than “concubine” connotes in English. Those who prefer the pilagshut relationship may certainly do so… For, perhaps either party is unprepared for the burdensome responsibilities of marital obligations…” In conclusion, Waskow suggests drawing on the pilegesh relationship to “establish a sacred grounding for sexual relationships that are not marriages, and create patterns of honesty, health, contraception, intimacy, and holiness for such relationships.” (Rabbi Arthur Waskow, Sexuality & Spirituality, A Prophetic Voice in Jewish Multi-religious & American Life).

Halacha: The Concept of Pilegesh
Let us examine more closely these attempts to popularize pilegesh relationships as forms of premarital, non-marital and extramarital relationships permitted by halacha. What is the true contemporary halachic status of pilegesh? Rambam explains that the word pilegesh is comprised of the words “Pi Shagal,” which indicates a woman who is used in both domestic and “intimate” ways. Alternatively the word pilegesh is related to the Hebrew/Aramaic palga isha, “half a wife,” and the Greek pallax/pallakis, “mistress” or “lover-girl.” In contemporary Israeli Hebrew, the word pilegesh is often used as the equivalent of the English “mistress” – i.e. the female partner in extramarital relations even when these relations have no legal recognition. In the Talmud, a pilegesh is defined by Rav Yehudah in the name of Rav as a woman married without kidushin and without a ketubah (Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 21). However, Rambam (Hilchot Ishut 1:4) defines a pilegesh as a woman without a ketubah but with kidushin. Kidushin, which means sanctified, is part of the marriage ceremony and reflects the holiness of Jewish marriage. During the ritual of kidushin, the man sanctifies his woman and designates her for himself and no other. According to Rambam, after the Torah was given, one who has relations with a woman without kidushin is punished with lashes by Torah law. A pilegesh without kidushin, is an institution exclusively reserved for Jewish kings. An ordinary person may not take a pilegesh, or engage in any type of relations outside of a marriage (Rambam, Hilchot Melachim 4:4). The Shulchan Aruch, explains that if a man lived with a woman the way of znut, not for the sake of kidushin, she is not considered married. This is the case even if  he designated her for himself and lived with her for the sake of intimate relations exclusively between the two of them. In this case, [the Rabbis] compel him to take her out of his home (Shulchan Aruch, Even HaEzer 26:1).

The Rema (Rabbi Moshe Isserless, ibid.) quotes the Ra’avad who maintains that a pilegesh is a woman who is designated to one man, and this is permitted as long as she goes to the mikvah at the appropriate times. It is important to note that even the Rabbis, who do not consider pilegesh to be an infringement on a Torah commandment, may still hold that pilagshut violates the positive commandment of the Torah that a man must marry by way of kidushin. The mitzvah for a man to marry is derived from Devarim 24:1. See Yad, Ishut 1:2; R. Shelomo Luria, Yam Shel Shelomo, Yevamot 2:11; Resp. Tzitz Eliezer 1:27, part 18.
The Rema concludes his comment by quoting the Rambam, Rosh, and Tur who rule that the practice of pilegesh is prohibited and liable for the punishment of lashes for transgressing the Torah prohibition of “There shall be no prostitutes of the daughters of Israel” (Devarim 23:18).

Likewise, the great Torah sage, Rabbi Yonah of Gerona writes: Our rabbis taught that the verse, “Do not prostitute your daughter to cause her to be a harlot, lest the land fall to harlotry, and the land become full of lechery,” comes to warn that a man should not give over his unmarried daughter for intercourse except in marriage... and a pilegesh without, ketubah and kidushin was only permitted to the king. (Gates of Repentance, part 3:94) The halachic position in case of a safek d’Oraita (the possibility of transgressing a Torah command) is to always be strict. Therefore, the accepted practice is to follow the ruling of the Rambam and to prohibit the practice of pilegesh. Rav Yakov Emden concludes that he would not permit the practice of pilegesh unless two other halachic authorities signed with him to permit it, and thus it has remained the practice not to allow it. (See Resp. Igerot Moshe, Eben HaEzer 1:55, where the prohibition of pilagshut is simply assumed).


Contemporary Halachic Responsa Regarding Pilegesh
Beyond the pilegesh, a 1979 teshuvah of the Central Conference of American Rabbis Responsa Committee provides textual references detailing rabbinic responsa intended to prevent “casual” sexual relationships between consenting adults and unmarried partners who have made a long-term commitment to each other. There can, after all, be no greater long-term commitment than that made between a properly married couple. There are several halachic responsa aimed at ensuring that no sexual contact takes place even between a man and his betrothed bride prior to their wedding. For this reason, kidushin (betrothal) and nisuin (marriage) became fused into the single ceremony that still remains in place. One of the important motivations behind this enactment was the desire to prevent sexual contact prior to marriage, even for those who had formally committed themselves to each other through kidushin. It plainly follows that the contemplation of a sexual relationship for those who, no matter the depth or the longevity of their feelings, had made no formal commitment to each other would have been absolutely out of the question. Unmarried Jews must not live together, and certainly not to engage in sexual relationships, even if their personal commitment to each other is profound. The accepted standard is evidenced by the passage in the betrothal blessing (birkat erusin), “He has prohibited to us our betrothed spouses.” R. David Ibn Zimra stated the prohibition most clearly when he declared, “At present time a woman is permitted to no man except through chupah, sheva berachot and ketubah” (Resp. Radbaz 4:225; 7:33).

Rabbi Yaacov Ariel, Chief Rabbi of Ramat Gan, commenting on the issue of pilegesh explains that the rabbinical authorities who permitted the institution of pilegesh were not talking about the kind of temporary relationships found among young people today, but rather, lifelong commitments. Regarding this important distinction, he emphasizes that all halachic authorities agree that passing sexual relationships between unmarried people are forbidden, as a form of whoredom, even if the woman goes to the mikvah. Rabbi Ariel cites that, according to Rashi and the Gaon of Vilna, the ancient practice of pilegesh was, in fact, accompanied by a kosher marriage ceremony, or kidushin, so that the daughters of Israel should not fall into harlotry.

On the modern orthodox Nishmat Women’s Health and Halacha website a woman asks whether intimacy before marriage is permitted by the Torah through the status of “pilegesh.” The answer given is that pilegesh is forbidden by the Torah, as the Rambam understands the Torah prohibition of kedeshah (prostitution) to prohibit any sexual relations outside of the context of marriage. Therefore, there is no room for a woman to acquire the status of pilegesh nowadays. As challenging as it may be to refrain from physical relations prior to marriage, restraint is demanded by halachaHalacha has a positive view of physical intimacy and its potential for joy and holiness exclusively within the halachic framework and commitment of marriage.

In the same vein, Rav Peretz Moncharsh answers a sha’alah regarding a divorced woman who is engaging in intimate relations with a man she is not married to. Would the institution of pilegesh be a legitimate halachic option for such a couple? The Rabbi answers that a pilegesh is not an option, because the majority opinion of the poskim is that it only applies to a king or to a marriage without a ketubah, but not to an extra-marital relationship. While she may consider her “friend” a princely fellow, halachah certainly does not accord him royal status.

Rabbi Zev Leff being asked the similar question, answers on an audio recording, that living together without kedushin is a Torah prohibition. A pilegesh relationship involving a man and a woman who live together without being married is actual znut (harlotry). Therefore, in order not to promote znut, the Rabbis prohibited single women from immersing in the mikvah. Although living with a niddah is a much more serious prohibition than living with a single woman after her mikvah, the Rabbis still considered it so important to minimize premarital/extramarital relations, that it took precedence over minimizing the transgression of sexually active unmarried couples. Rabbi Leff concludes that there is no heter (permission) for unmarried couples to live together, as we say at the marriage canopy: “Who forbade us those betrothed to us, but permitted us those married to us by means of chupah and kidushin.”

The Pilegesh Trend – Pursuit of Instant Gratification
The real problem facing us today is that the sanctity of marriage has broken down, even among the religious. The Kabbalist Rabbi Eliahu Leon Levi said that “One does not have to offer Kabbalistic explanations to understand that to renew the practice of pilegesh today would destroy the institution of Jewish marriage. A pilegesh was something exclusive to the times of the Bible.” Rabbi Yaacov Ariel, concurs: “Our duty as rabbis is to encourage the holy institution of marriage, not to ape the licentiousness of the Western world, which places egotistical satisfaction before everything else.” Unfortunately, those “spiritual leaders” who promote pilegeshut have seemingly forgotten that the main reason of our life is to perform mitzvoth and thereby elevate our lower inclinations in the service of Hashem. It seems to me that the main motivation for the attempt to halachically legitimize the institution of pilegesh, is in order to cater to the yetzer hara (selfish inclination) of religious people, who have become greatly influenced by the pleasure seeking of Western Society, and its pursuit of instant gratification. The problem is, that many of those practicing what they call a pilegesh relationship, validate their individual yetzer harah, believing that their actions are totally halachically justified. This reminds me of the Jewish gay movement. Before that movement became popular, a man, born with an abnormal sexual disposition, was aware that acting upon his tendencies, violates the Jewish practice. However, today some people do not see a contradiction between being gay and Jewishly observant. Nowadays, you can find gay “Rabbis,” gay minyans (prayer quorums), and even gay “married couples.” In a similar manner, certain “Rabbis” and “spiritual leaders” wearing the orthodox garb with long beard and peyot, promote the social institution of pilegesh. They may quote and misquote all kinds of halachic sources to legalize their position, most often because of their personal desire to take a pilegesh for themselves. It is alarming that these “Rabbis” have no shortage of followers who welcome the opportunity for instant corporal gratification through minimum effort, without having to make any commitment. We may have compassion for a single man who is unable to control himself and live in long term celibacy. When such a man gives in to his inclination, he is fully aware that his behavior is far from the ideal, but that unfortunately, he can’t help himself. However, it is much more alarming when pleasure-seeking and lust turns into a trend, disguised by the so-called pilegesh relationship, without the slightest feeling of shame.

Spiritually Disadvantaged Women’s Lack of  Self-Respect
I believe that the underlying reason for the growing number of Jewish women willing to become pilagshot, is an estrangement of women from their innate feminine nurturing strengths. A spiritually healthy Jewish woman yearns, by her very nature, for the long lasting, committed relationship of marriage and raising a family. For this reason, it was unnecessary for the Torah to command women to get married and become fruitful. Nowadays, unfortunately, influenced by Western society’s competitive career-race, pleasure-seeking, and the nonchalant, noncommittal attitude, certain Jewish women have lost their sense of true Jewish femininity. Being detached from their spiritual feminine essence causes these spiritually disadvantaged Jewish women, to lose their sense of dignity and self-respect. They are unaware how they degrade their Divine Image by allowing their bodies to be available for men, who are unwilling to make a lifelong commitment to them, and unite with them fully through both body and soul. I call on all believing Jewish women to start believing in themselves, and start to consider themselves fully deserving of their true soul-mate’s total love and commitment. May Hashem bless all single Jewish women to find committed Jewish marriage partners worthy of them!

24 comments:

  1. I see that the first part of this section is missing, so I'm posting it here,

    The Pilegesh Outburst in our Times
    I was quite shocked, when I learned that, nowadays, there are people engaged in pre-marital or extramarital sex, among those who consider themselves modern orthodox. They justify their actions, to be halachically valid under the category of pilegesh. It is easy to understand why a pilegesh relationship would be ideal for certain noncommittal men, concerned about their personal pleasure. As one man seeking a pilegesh explained,” It is less stressful than an affair, and longer lived than a fling or that elusive one-night stand. It’s still a casual relationship without a ketubah,

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  2. Ameyn Selah!
    Todah rabah for this, Rebbetzin, and brakhot for a Shabbat shalom!
    Avielah

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  3. Just a comment about your article on being a pilegish and the general plight of women today.

    My latest epiphany that I am trying to spread is basically that if women would close their legs men couldn't have affairs and a lot more singles would be getting married. Men will be men, as they say. But, frankly, plenty of the mess that we find ourselves in these days is the women's fault. How women can hurt other women by "taking their men" is just beyond me. And, as many mothers have taught their daughters, "Your don't buy the cow when the milk is free."

    However, in addition to your points about why women will choose to become a pilegesh, I would like to add that I believe part of the problem, especially concerning divorced women, is the mess that the Bet Din places them in. How many women enter Bet Din with Yiryat Shamayim that they will be treated as the Torah demands, that their ketubah will have some value, that if the husband refuses to give a get there will be people outside to break his legs and instead find themselves treated as the waste of the earth, yelled at, belittled, paying for their freedom, or worse, remaining agunot?

    If we can some how force the Batei Dinim to behave as the Torah has prescribed, I honestly believe that less women will choose the path of the pilegesh.

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  4. is there an explanation why kings can have a pilegesh? i often thought it was strange that our Jewish kings like David and Solomon had tons of women, and even went after other men's women sometimes!
    how is this even fair to the woman? i would think it would be better to be the single wife of one man, and treated like a queen, than the concubine of a king, treated like one just of many!
    Thanks for the interesting article!
    Rachael

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  5. B”H
    It’s a fantastic article, timely, and halachically on the mark. May I reprint it on Breslev Israel?
    Blessings,
    Rabbi Lazer Brody

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  6. B”H
    It’s a fantastic article, timely, and halachically on the mark. May I reprint it on Breslev Israel?
    Blessings,
    Rabbi Lazer Brody

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  7. First of all, I congratulate you for your courage to breach a difficult and unpleasant topic with fortitude and precise scholarship. I'm very well impressed. I have reviewed the sources you bring and they are accurately reported and your conclusions correct.
    I can't say I know what people do today regarding “taking a pilegesh.” I don't know anyone like that. My guess is that they don’t do kidushin; if they did, she would need a “get” when they're done. Kidushin requires two kosher (frum) witnesses to the kinyan. May we merit to see the sanctity of Israel revealed in all its glory, soon.
    Shabbat Shalom,
    Rav Daniel Kohn, Bat Ayin

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  8. You did not mention the wife's role or attitude in your very informative and timely article. Doesn't she have to agree to the husband's having a pilegesh? That means he tells her straight out what he's thinking, and if she disagrees, he must not take a pilegesh.
    Today, the husband is chacham, knowing (most!) modern women won't agree and lies and deceives her. That is not what the Torah meant - as we learn from the avot and emahot that everything was known to all parties.
    s.

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  9. B"H
    There is a large group of women in Jewish society and in the general society who find themselves better of as a pilegesh compared to other alternatives available to them.
    While one can make oneself look holy and noble crusading against the permisibility of pilagshut by selectively quoting only stringent opnions out of context of the time and place in which they were stated by doing so you hurt many people both men and women.

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  10. Dear Rebbetsen,
    We know each other in different contexts and for this reason I write anonymously. Usually your writing is on target and brings new light to the world, but in this subject you have failed because you have chosen to go along with the farce. Have you asked a flesh and blood divorced woman how she feels about a Ketubah?

    Two key sentences to begin my response to your article from Parshat Chukat:

    When you miss one sentence of the Shulchan Aruch you mess up the whole picture: A man should not take more than four wives.

    And the other sentence: Something we say every morning before we learn Torah: "May it be your will our Lord, our G-d, that ...I won't fail in keeping your law...and that I won't say the permitted is forbidden and the forbidden permitted..."

    This is what the rabbis have done in our age by not allowing polygamous marriage. Marriage is kiddushin - holy. By not allowing the holy the rabbis have permitted the profane!!! If the holy were permitted, then the people would strive for it. A woman would not accept a mere boyfriend if she knew the Beit Din was embracing polygamous marriage. And the "other woman" would not live in dread fear - she'd know where her husband is. Jealousy would be less an issue, not more.

    I am a divorced woman. By asking me to put up with marrying with a Chupah and a Ketubah you are asking me to help you continue the farce that is modern halacha. The Ketubah is worth nothing in our day and age. A man can refuse to pay it at the Beit Din or he can refuse to pay it afterward. No one community will put an iota of social pressure on a man who defaults on his ketubah payments or child support and allows his ex-wife and children to starve. The community goes along with the man, making excuses why she doesn't deserve the money; among the most common is: "There are no free rides. She's lazy, she should go get a job."

    Today's divorced woman is taking care of the three to twelve children she's been abandoned with by herself, and she's expected to work outside the house, too. The man who doesn't pay the Ketubah he obligated himself to in front of a community, his family, and a quorum of ten men and two kosher witnesses is basically breaking a vow - and he is the one getting the "free ride."

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  11. And do you know where the concept of "the free ride" comes from? From Christian society, and the Protestant work ethic. The same society that influenced Ashkenazi Jews to give up Polygamy, to give up holiness in all things sexual. Ashkenazi society forbade Polygamous marriage - permitted by the Torah - but birthed all the "alternative" branches of Judaism that are heretical to Torah: Reform, Reconstructionism, Conservative and Feminist Orthodoxy, the reformation, gay Rabbis, etc etc etc.

    For one, in a society that enforces monogamy, the man is forced to deny his sexuality. There are all kinds of excuses in modern halachic books on family purity, explaining what a man may and may not think of when he exercises intimacy with his wife. On top of that, a man who goes to Beit Din in our day and age to complain that his wife is intimate only once a month will be labeled a sex maniac. But then the man accused of being a sex maniac will go to a Torah class taught by the head of the Beit Din which features a lecture against "wasting seed".

    As for permission from his wife - hasn't a woman who refuses to have relations with her husband more than once a month basically not only given him permission, but forced him to find other women?

    A man with more than one wife, with two or three or four, has more kiddushin in his life - more holiness. Not only because of the Chupah and the actual ceremony, he is not wasting seed; and because he has refused to exercise a farce and he has refused to accept the lie that pervades modern Western society that men are animals and must either sneek around in the dark or must be trained by women to "behave".

    Sex will be healthy and holy for all of us when we no longer declare the permitted forbidden and the forbidden permitted.


    A Woman

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  12. Dear Madam,
    It's a wonderful research. Thanks for the insights about the divinity of being a jewish women. Kindly continue to email as we in India have limited access to the meaning of various Jewish texts.
    Thanking you once again for all the mails and parasha portions.

    Regards

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  13. Unfortunately, part of the reason why women are willing to be a pilegesh is probably the statistical lack of eligible, quality Jewish men who want to get married.

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  14. I am thrilled that you wrote the article on the Pilegesh woman since I know it doesn't just happen far from us. I have a friend that is "dating" a younger guy that told her from the beginning that he is only open to a Pilegesh relationship and after some discussion she totally agrees with him and it has been very frustrating for me to the point that I even don't want to talk about it with her anymore.

    Hashem should help the Jewish world to stay focused and close to Hashem and his Torah which is a everyday challenge is this day and age.

    Hashem should bless all of you with great succes with the Midrasha and with great health and happiness.

    Shabbat Shalom

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  15. Chana Bracha

    Thank you…really
    Thank you.

    It‘s Very interesting…
    The relationship between the people of Israël and the Nation of Ammon. Is very interesting
    I think already a lot about the interdiction for jew to get married with an ammonite or a mohabite… (I read the story with Boaz and Ruth...) and the reasons…I try to read story about that…to understand.

    I think already a lot about the personality of Ibn Ezra…and her sister…

    This text about the Pilegesh in Our Times is very interesting. Thank you very much for this reflexion.

    The subject is very deep…very very deep and difficult

    In the World…Marriage between a man and a women is very Holy

    I know only that there was a lot of Darkness in the Marriage and in the Divorce…too

    A lot of women…jew or not…was not really FREE and not really Enjoy in the Marriage…

    The marriage was like a Prison for Women…
    And this fact is not GOOD
    But I agree Divorce are not good too…
    And having not holy relation is not good too…

    The holiness is in the deep communication between a free women and a free man….(holy body, holy spirit, holy HEART)

    The women is like a Temple the women is like an Holy House
    The Women has to be FREE to CHOICE

    Really free…it means that we recognize the soul the body and the holy spirit to a women…and not only the man…

    Ashem know the heart, the body…and the soul….on every person.

    Ashem see the Beauty to the Women…and to the Man
    Yes…

    That is my meaning…

    A lot of relationship are not Love relationship…only domination relationship…

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  16. Thank you for bravely and beautifully addressing this topic, B'H!

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  17. "Unfortunately, part of the reason why women are willing to be a pilegesh is probably the statistical lack of eligible, quality Jewish men who want to get married."

    I don't want to marry the kind of human garbage I got divorced from. I want a stable, happy, unabusive man. Those men are usually already married. I can tolerate polygamy. I can't tolerate taking the risk of marrying another abusive man who won't pay another Ketubah. "Fool me once you're the fool, fool me twice I'm the fool."

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  18. very well written article; http://pilegesh.wordpress.com/2007/11/02/torat-hashem-tmima-g-ds-law-is-perfect/

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  19. So, Rebbetsen, does this mean you are against polygamous marriage or just pilegeshut?

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  20. Dear Chana Bracha,
    thank you for this post, it was wonderfully written and had many good points.

    i don't have that much knowledge of judaism although i feel i have been blessed by hashem that he has enabled me to hold strong beliefs on this matter. especially in recent times. I was recently in a 'relationship' not knowing i was a piligesh, it was abusive and it was clear that the person involved, who claimed to be orthodox was just pleasing his own desires, and had no care for the women he layed with, at all!!. These desires which are kind of a test in our faith i belive.
    To the person who said:

    'For one, in a society that enforces monogamy, the man is forced to deny his sexuality.'- ok so the man has desires to sleep with many women, but hashem has forbidden this, why? prehaps because he has the feelings of the women at hand. Sharing a man causes pain and jealousy and only brings bad things, there are many stories of this in the bible, that is why monogamy is the prefered route. So please women save youselves for marriage and to not let yourselves be taken in as concubines, we are jewish women and must protect our holiness, even if it means to supress our desires, this wouldbe better than to give in to them, for there will be rewards in the next life, much better then a fleeting romance in this life.

    Thank you rebbetzin

    may you all be blessed

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  21. B"H
    To the person who said:

    'For one, in a society that enforces monogamy, the man is forced to deny his sexuality.'- ok so the man has desires to sleep with many women, but hashem has forbidden this, why?


    You are drawing conclusions from the false assumption that supposedly "hashem has forbidden this" when nothing can be further from the truth as explained here:
    jewish-polygamy.com

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  22. I think one thing that would be advantageous to women with regards to issues such as those posted here is to unite as friends who are in this together.  We also need to stop expecting to keep getting what we have historically gotten from men, based on society's expectations of them. In review of some of our comments here, there seems to be indication of how little we have come to expect of men.  Without invalidating any of these experiences, shouldn't any self respecting man be taken aback by some of our comments and shudder to liken himself to such behavior?  I am of the belief that a real man's self esteem is commensurate with him willfully behaving like a "mentch".
    But we just keep lowering our standards to accommodate the lack of "real men" out there. And so in a way, I think it's true, our beliefs and expectations are part of the problem. So then what can we expect the next gen of men to look like? Nope, being single isn't always fun, but are we being spiritually honest in compromising with our men and allowing them to perpetuate behavior that is selfishly motivated and substandard to the true Torah expectation of "Ish" just because society is ok with it or it can even be spun as halachically correct?  Is this helping to meet the Geula?
    I believe men are capable of higher standards and that the Jewish woman should have these expectations of the men in her life. Perhaps men could be better than "the way that they are" if we would raise the bar for them.  We need to step up to our role as Eshet Chayil, provide better definitions for our men, stop enabling them and start ENNOBLING them. We do not help men to realize their higher selves by accepting any spin or blatant disregard of Halacha to accommodate selfish interests which may provide fleeting gratification, but are void of the true Simchat Chayim that comes with character development, being the giver, and fulfilling the purpose that Ribbono Shel Olam created them for.
    And most importantly, we must feverishly tap into THE POWER OF EMUNA AND WOMEN'S TFILLA.

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  23. Refeshing to see sucha well written article on this subject. I see the rise in this type of activity due to the fact that multiple wives is forbidden. These women who think that are Pilegesh are usually not because they are done in secret whereas in Nak it was public knowlege that this woman was a pilegesh to a specific man. But their doing this in secret is understandable given the non jewish communities mostly adopting non jewish western morality(derived from Roman Catholicsim) that requires forced monogomy, and thus denying the historical halachah of a man being permitted to have more than one wife. The situation is exasperated in the Religious community due to the fact that a much higher percentage of women want to live a religious life than men accentuating the ratios in the Orthodox community. This of course is not knew and this was the main reason behind our foremother Rachel and Leah being married to Yaaqov Avinu as she did not want to married to the Rashaa Esau!

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  24. This piece is not scholarship. You hold up the Rambam while not making mention of other things he has said. You bring sources that Yiftachs mother was a pilagesh, and then bring a Rambam to show it is permitted only to a King. Yiftachs father was not a King. I will agree that pilagesh is intended to be a long term relationship. Yet out of nowhere can you rule that way if you bring in the Rambam himself writing about temporary marriages? You have embarked on reading such things before undertaking to write against something you FEEL is wrong correct? I see noone pointing out a pilagesh must cover here hair as any married woman. I think this should be clear to anyone with a basic understanding of halacha. You treat pilagesh from a negative and singular angle, as men or women simply wanting to have sex without marriage. This is narrow minded, and is not what halacha is all about. Halacha rules for all situations. A stira for bringin the oppinions that pilagesh requires kiddushin (and quitely or sinfully ignoring all the sources who hold differently) is a situation, where a jewish man and woman, have noone to serve as witnesses. Halacha rules for all situations. Use your imagination, and you should find plenty of reasons for why a couple would enter into such a relationship. Then, do not dwell on exclusively the sources that serve your feelings, and twist them to your service. That is despicable. I am concerned to see Rav Kahn commenting somewhat possitively toward this piece. About Lazer Brody writing possitively about this piece, well he is a fraud with no substance to offer the people in any case. Do not be amongst con-artists, who will ignore parts of Torah and our Sages writings and teachings, to serve the tickling of ears according to the times. Have some kahones and stand for the truth. A pilagesh is a wife in all senses, save a man is not obligated to her in all the ways he is obligated to his wife through marriage, and she is not obligated to him in return any of the things a wife is obligated towards her husband. Rambam listswhat those things are, Gemara in Kiddushin discusses those things. You are shrewd and shameless wolves!

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