Friday, January 15, 2010

Rav Sternbuch: Special Light of Teshuva & Shovavim


  1. Is it true that the Torah holds that a rape victim is responsible for the rape it suffered?

    I was very troubled by those comments I found here:

    'Saying that the Torah holds the view that a victim of coercion is responsible for the act that took place through coercion makes the Torah look cruel and ridiculous.'

    An adult is required yeherag v'lo ya'avor.

    The Mishne Torah Issurei Biah brings:
    ז [ו] כל הנבעלת לאדם שעושה אותה זונה--בין באונס בין ברצון, בין בזדון בין בשגגה, בין כדרכה בין שלא כדרכה--משהערה בה, נפסלה משום זונה: ובלבד שתהיה בת שלוש שנים ויום אחד, ויהיה הבועל בן תשע שנים ויום אחד ומעלה.

    You may not like what the Torah has to say, but that does not make it any less authoritative."

    Is this true?

  2. No Shoshi the Rambam is wrong and you, you alone are right.

  3. Am haaretz, this Rambam addresses a technical issue and does not imply responsibility or guilt. Mekubal, you expose yourself.

  4. Am haaretz said...

    Is it true that the Torah holds that a rape victim is responsible for the rape it suffered?
    the answer is no. The Rambam says that if a woman has sexual relations willing or forced with someone who would cause her to be labeled as a zonah then she is labeled as a zonah. A zonah can not be married to a cohen.

    It is not because of responsibility for the rape but solely because of the fact of sexual intercourse with the rapist. It only is significant for a cohen who can not be married to a woman labled as a zonah.

    It is obviously true that if the woman is killed resisting the rape that she is not prohibited because of being a zonah - because she is dead.

    In sum, the term "responsible" is the problem. She is not blamed for being raped - but her halachic status in relations to a cohen is changed.

  5. But she does have the status of a Zonah, and thus prohibitted to a Kohen.

    If she were married to a Kohen it would necessitate a divorce.

    Let's be honest, I said that an adult is require yeherag v'lo ya'avor, I never said that they were responsible.

    This was specifically used in regards to whether Shannon Orand was responsible for her actions, and whether she could be labled a Zonah.

    Comparing her and her actions to that of a rape victim is insulting to rape victims. She chose to follow a certain course of action on account of her need for money. That was a choice, though perhaps influenced by someone else, she made of her own free will.

    In fact you will not find a single time on my blog that I have said that a victim of Rape or sexual abuse is ever responsible. I have said that those who have reached the age of majority and are considered adults need to resist with all of their might, in order to fulfill yeherag v'lo ya'avor, but I have never said that they were responsible.

    There is only one individual that I have said is responsible and that is Shannon Orand, because she chose to do those things. She was not forced, by a rapist or a person with a weapon.

    Don't twist my words Shoshi. You who want to scream of intellectual honesty.

  6. thank you for your answers. It is a great relief for me hear unequivocally that the Torah does not blame a rape victim for the rape.

  7. I found the "Yehareg ve lo yaavor"- argument so hurtful to survivors of sexual abuse, because it presupposes that the victim has a choice. However, in most cases of rape, even the "yehareg" is not an option. As their name says, most rapists come to rape, not to kill.

    Furthermore, this insensitive brandishing of "yehareg ve lo yaavor" or "you have to defend yourself until you are dead" does not take into account the dynamics of sexual abuse.
    In many cases, the victim is literally paralysed.

  8. Meriam-Webster:

    Main Entry: co·erce
    Pronunciation: \kō-ˈərs\
    Function: transitive verb
    Inflected Form(s): co·erced; co·erc·ing
    Etymology: Middle English cohercen, from Anglo-French *cohercer Latin coercēre, from co- + arcēre to shut up, enclose — more at ark
    Date: 15th century

    1 : to restrain or dominate by force
    2 : to compel to an act or choice
    3 : to achieve by force or threat
    synonyms see force

    By this definition the word "coercion" does not apply to what occured with Shannon Orand. She was monetarily enticed, in her own words. She needed money, it was offered to her with some very unsavory strings attached, she took the option. She bears responsibility for her actions.

    The issue at hand is that the line between compulsion under threat of force, or compulsion by monetary need(aka monetary persuasion) has been blurred on this blog.

    Let me be entirely clear, a victim of a Rape, or a molestation, is exactly that, a victim. While there is the commandment yeherag v'lo ya'avor, this requires that they only resist with all of their might. However, without witnesses to the contrary, this is assumed under most cases to have happened.

    The unfortunate event will still lead to the woman being a Zonah, and being, as is brought in the above quoted Mishneh Torah, which I bring the Moznaim translation for here:
    Whenever a woman engages in relations that cause her to be deemed a zonah, she becomes disqualified as soon as the man's organ enters her21 whether she engages in relations against her will or willingly, whether in conscious violation or inadvertently, whether through vaginal or anal intercourse. [This applies] provided she is at least three years old and the man with whom she engages in relations is nine years old or more.22 Therefore when a married woman engages in adultery, whether against her will or willingly, she is disqualified from [marrying into] the

    To be clear this does not impute guilt as is seen from the following in Hilchot Ishut Perek 14
    י. מי שזינתה תחת בעלה אין לה כתובה לא עיקר ולא תוספת. ואין מוציאין מהבעל דבר ממה שאבד או נגנב מנכסי צאן ברזל שלה. ואצ"ל נכסי מלוג. ולא המזנה בלבד אלא אף העוברת על דת משה או על דת יהודית או היוצאת משום שם רע אין לה כתובה לא עיקר ולא תוספת ולא תנאי מתנאי כתובה. וכל אחת מהן נוטלת הנמצא לה מנדונייתה ויוצאה ואין הבעל חייב לשלם כלום לא מה שפיחת ולא מה שאבד:


    כא. במה דברים אמורים בשהיה בעלה ישראל. אבל אשת כהן ששגגה או שנאנסה אסורה לבעלה שהרי נעשית זונה מכל מקום והוא אסור בזונה כמו שיתבאר בהלכות איסורי ביאה:

    כב. אחד אשת ישראל או אשת כהן שנאנסה כתובתה קיימת העיקר והתוספת ולא הפסידה מכתובתה כלום. וכופין את הכהן ליתן לה כתובתה ולגרשה:

    In translation again from Moznaim
    Halacha 21

    When does the above apply? When the woman's husband was an Israelite. If, however, a priest's wife [committed adultery] unwittingly or under duress, she is forbidden to her husband. For these relations cause her to be deemed a zonah at all times, and he is forbidden to have relations with a zonah, as will be explained in Hilchot Issurei Bi'ah.49
    Halacha 22

    With regard to both an Israelite's wife and a priest's wife who have been raped, they are entitled to their ketubah - both the fundamental requirement and the additional amount. She does not lose anything in this regard. We compel50 the priest to pay [her the money due her by virtue of] her ketubah and then to divorce her.
    To be continued...

  9. Finally to define a Zonah, Issurei Bi'ah 18:
    א. מפי השמועה למדנו שהזונה האמורה בתורה היא כל שאינה בת ישראל או בת ישראל שנבעלה לאדם שהיא אסורה להנשא לו איסור השוה לכל או שנבעלה לחלל אף על פי שהיא מותרת להנשא לו לפיכך הנרבעת לבהמה אע"פ שהיא בסקילה לא נעשית זונה ולא נפסלה לכהונה שהרי לא נבעלה לאדם והבא על הנדה אף על פי שהיא בכרת לא נעשית זונה ולא נפסלה לכהונה שהרי אינה אסורה להנשא לו

    Based on the Oral Tradition, we learned that the term zonah1 used by the Torah refers to one who is not a nativeborn Jewess,2 a Jewish woman who engaged in relations3 with a man she was forbidden to marry, violating a prohibition that is universally applicable,4 or a woman who engaged in relations with a challal5 even though she is permitted to marry him.6

    Thus we see that not all sexual abuse or rape victims even fit this category.

  10. There are rules, and their are special circumstances and times. Esther HaMalkah was a Zonah and saved the Jewish Nation this way.


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