Thursday, November 1, 2012

Who is spending the night with your daughter?

In the posting about David Kaye the issue has been raised as to why he should be viewed as dangerous (i.e. rodef) when he has not done anything wrong halachically? He is obviously disgusting and not welcome - but should he also be considered dangerous  since he never did anything to harm another person and he has a life time of helping others. His major downfall was a sting operation by a TV. station involving what he thought was a 13 year old boy. The whole crime for which he was sent to prison is simply a mental fantasy - and some claim that only according to secular law is it wrong. In order to understand this better let me present the follow case.

You and your wife are leaving in an hour to celebrate your parent's golden anniversary in Florida - so you will be gone for one night.Your younger kids have been distributed to neighbors. However your 13 year old daughter says she is old enough to stay home for one night and says one of her friends is coming over to keep her company.
You do a last minute check on Google maps for traffic conditions and then a quick glance at email to see if there are any important last minute messages. With great irritation you notice that the email is still logged in to your daughter's account - but you also notice an email with a very inappropriate subject line. Pushing aside the concerns for Cherem of Rabbeinu Gershom of reading other's mails - you start reading the letter.
Shock and revulsion hit you as you realize that it is a letter from a 35 year old male who claims to be a rabbi. He has been having an exchange of very explicit sexual communications with your daughter. You notice the exchange has been very intensive and some of the emails have attached nude photographs of him and others which have pictures of her. The last email says he is coming over to spend the night with your daughter.

With your head spinning you think of what you should do in the 30 minutes before you have to leave.
 1) Call the rabbi of the shul where you go for daf yomi and who is a world-wide expert on kashrus. 2) confront your daughter and force her to come with you. 3) contact your next door neighbor who has mafia connections who will make sure the guy receives the proper message in a forceful unambiguous manner4) Do nothing since after all your daughter is halachically an adult and it is a consensual relationship. You give yourself a mental note to have a talk with your daughter - when you get back - about how inappropriate it is and that she is only a child and not old enough for these types of relationships. 5) Call the police


  1. Of course David Kaye did something halachicly wrong. He engaged in a sexually explicit conversation with someone other than his wife. That is halachicly very wrong. And no one would or should want such a person to be in touch with his daughter, whether your daughter is 13 or 18 years old.

    Would you want Bill Clinton (of Monica Lewinsky fame) to spend the night alone with your daughter? Of course not. Not whether your daughter is 13 years old or whether she is 18 years old, and an adult by all accounts.

    As far as the above imaginary scenario that you present of a 35 year old rabbi e-mailing your 13 year old daughter, from a Jewish / Halachic standpoint the situation would be no different than if everything above was the same except that the guy was a 55 year old rabbi and your daughter was 18 years old.

    1. Which of the 5 options would you chose?

    2. If the girl is under the legal age of consent, which is usually 16 years old in most U.S. states (NJ is 16, NY is 17), options #2 and #5. After all, in your scenario he is engaging in something very halachicly wrong and we have an obligation to stop him.

      If the girl is over the age of consent (i.e. at least 16 years old), then unfortunately he is not breaking any secular laws so the police are not an option. For example, if she is 18 and he is a 55 year old married rabbi, the only option you have is to confront your daughter and put a stop to it that way. Even though they are both adults and are breaking no secular laws they ARE seriously violating halacha.

      And, by the way, both he and she are equally guilty in both scenarios. The only question is what options you have to put a stop to it.

    3. We are not dealing with the issue of guilt - we are concerned with protecting society. "The only question is what options you have to put a stop to it." The police are going to arrest the guy and he is going to jail - despite the fact that according to the Torah he has not done anything which deserves prison.

      When the guy gets out of jail - are you going to let him join your Shul. Would you protest if he open a pizza shop in your neighborhood or a camp? would you allow him to be a teacher?

      The answer is obviously no. Because we must use our knowledge of the nature of people who act this way - and we must view him as a danger - even though he has done no Torah crime that is punished by being ostracized or denied parnosa.

      The considerations for protecting from harm are not the same as judging guilt.

    4. Whatever I wouldn't allow an adulterer to do, I wouldn't allow him to do. Whatever I would allow an adulterer to do, I would allow him to do.

  2. Let's pose an interesting question for the halacha buffs here.

    There is a concept of age of consent in halacha, below which anything would be considered rape. In the posuk, it appears that the act of rape is described as happening away from residential area, in the "field". Even the cries of the victim would not be heard. In this scenario, would the fact that today's 13 year olds, who are younger thaan the recognized ages of consent, be similar in that the actions would be considered rape? This may sound like a logical slam dunk, but please mull over this question a bit before responding.

    1. The legal age of sexual consent in halacha is lower than even 13.

  3. Here is the way i view it: the torah has flaws. it claims that there is nothing wrong with the type of relationship you describe in your theoretical story. given that the torah is flawed, how do we deal with that? we try and live our lives according to the morality of the torah, but clearly that morality is changing (as it should)

    but this becomes an emunah problem (at least for me) - obvious proof that the torah is not devine, but rather an ancient book of stories and outdated laws, animal sacrifice and temple building (all while enumerating generations and ages)

    the obvious choice is to call the police - yet this could be an answer that is antithetical to "daas torah", ironically.

    1. You are creating the problem by declaring the Torah flawed. The Torah is given through the judgments of rabbis and commonsense.Here are just a sample of relevant texts. As the Chasam Sofer notes, The ways of the Torah are pleasant and all its paths are peace. This is a very large topic.

      Rambam (Moreh Nevuchim 3:17): A person is rewarded for any good deed and punished for sin - even though these activities were not commanded by a prophet. This is because a person is held accountable for those things which are dictated by commonsense.

      Rabbeinu Nissim Gaon (Introduction to Talmud): The reason that there is punishment for activities not specifically commanded is because all those Mitzvos which are derived from commonsense are obligated on everyone from the day that G-d first created Adom HaRishon. Not only him but also all his descendants afterwards for all generations.

      Toras Avraham (Toras HaSeichel HaEnushi #2): There are halachic obligations which are not explicitly stated and people do them primarily because of culture and civilization. However there are some religious people who ridicule them because they see no religious significance to them. In fact they have a major role in fulfilling one’s Torah obligations because those things which are intuitively obvious do not require a specific verse to be a mitzva.

      Chasam Sofer (O. H. #208): It seems to me that the rulers of any society have the right to execute and punish because of the verse “You have the responsibility for blood” (Devarim 19:10) as is interpreted in Mo’ed Koton (5a). It is logical that even if the Torah hadn’t been given they would have this right. And this was true also prior to the giving of the Torah since there were laws and civilized conduct and every king preserved society through laws (See Rema #10). When the Torah was given there was a reestablished of the laws of society and certain changes were made such as a thief had to pay double and a non dangerous ox paid half damages and the nature of the responsibility of watchmen. This of course doesn’t mean that harmful behavior which wasn’t mentioned in the Torah was permitted - such as damage which is not physically manifest because the ways of Torah are pleasant. Nevertheless they are not included in the laws of the Torah and the king and Sanhedrin are given the discretion according to place and time how to deal with these issues. So surely they have the right to remove the many harmful agents such as murderers who don’t have witnesses. The ways of the Torah are pleasant and all its paths are peace.

    2. R' Eidensohn, thank you for these quotes -- they are very nice. Another one, from the Gemara: "Who is wise? He who sees the consequences of his actions." (Tamid 32a). Since we know now that children, including teenagers, are horribly traumatized by sexual contact with older adults, everyone is responsible for avoiding such contact.

  4. "ways of the Torah are pleasant"

    this is very nice, however, when reading the chumash this is not evident.

    you can say it, and you can quote rabbis from hundreds of years ago that say things like it....but it doesnt make it so.

    when reading the torah, it does not seem that way. Hashem kills people, destroys citied, commands murder, yet he condones the statutory rape that you describe in this very blog post!!

    you say its a large topic, but if you were honest, you would analyze this topic objectively. you are not. you are taking writings in books by men and applying divinity to them (the ones that you like) there are many to quote from that are not as pleasant that you have omitted. a "fair and balanced" analysis would be welcomed (by me, at least)

    in the meantime, your acceptance of torah and modern morality and sensibilities make zero sense

    1. Ksil - we don't belong to the same religion. You are a fundamentalist who denies the important role of Oral Torah and the Rabbis. Because of this denial you reject the validity of the Torah. Furthermore you insist that your way is the only "honest" way and that therefore I am dishonest.

      Bottom line - you reject Orthodox Judaism - I don't. No basis for a discussion.

    2. i see you completely missed the point i was making.

      see if you can follow this,,, the "oral torah" says a lot of things, you picked the things that SOUND nice, like judaism is peaceful and the torah is pleasant....and that is great. but this same oral torah that you are quoting says other things, things that are not as flattering...where are those quotes? why are they dismissed? dont they hold the same validity? or do you get to choose the passages that make everything look fine and dandy?

    3. "but this same oral torah that you are quoting says other things, things that are not as flattering..."


  5. "Examples?
    ok here it comes

    slavery- absolutely permited,(there is a whole chapter in SHULCHAN ARUCH called HILCHOS AVODIM)of course it's only permited if and when permited by the government,bottom line,HALACHA has absolutely no problem with slavery.

    finding a lost object belonging to a non jew,halacha clearly states,you are not obligated (some rishonim hold you are not allowed}to give it back,yes" it states that if we know it will cause a CHILLUL HASHEM then we do have to return it,but what this tell us that HALACHA sees nothing inherently wrong with stealing from a non jew ,just don't cause a CHILLUL HASHEM,

    We are obligated to save the life of a jew,even if it causes CHILLUL SHABBOS,but not the life of a non jew,yes,if we know it will cause hatred towards jews then it is permitted,but again it clearly shows the HALACHA'S complete disregard for the life of a non jew,

    If we find a non believing heretic (APICORUS)jew,who fell into a pit,the HALACHA clearly states,we are obligated NOT TO rescue him,even if it will cause his death (again.only if no CHILLUL HASHEM involved)

    i could go on and on,but you get the drift.
    Now,don't get me wrong,I as a chareidi believing jew,absolutely believe,that all these laws are G-D given,but i have to admit to myself,that i always had problems with it and don't understand it,and it bothers me to no end.
    There is a famous letter from Harav Yechiel Yaacov Weinberg z"L (the SERIDAI AISH)where he echos the exact same sentiment,and he lament"s about antisemitism,and he says yes"we were always hated and there always was anisemitism,but we have to realize that some of the hatred toward us was caused by our own attitude toward our non jew neighbors,and that must change.

    1. browser if this is the best you can do - then I also assume you are aware this has been beaten to death through the ages. Just as you can find these examples quoted in numerous places on the internet there are also answers - mostly apolgetics where material is cherry picked to make it appear as if the ancient mind and values systems is the same as the modern one.

      If you accept that the Torah is divine then you have a problem if you say that G-d made a mistaken chas v'shalom. On the other hand if want to acknowledge that there were circumstances and historic periods where these halachos are relevant - then there is no problem. Whether it is because of evolution as the Rambam and others say or because it is against the values of the age we live in but it could be that society will come back to these in the future.

      You might be aware that slavery disappeared because it suddenly became distateful to a growing number of people in the western world. Why that happened is an interesting discussion but it happened in a relatively short time. Same thing regarding women's equality or the acceptance of homosexuality. I am old enough to remember when women were not accepted as equals and where people were embarrassed to mention homosexuality in public discussions - I also have lived through the major revolution in attitude towards blacks and hispanics as well as intermarriage.

      I don't like getting into to these areas because ulimately it comes down to whether you accept the system or reject it. On a practical level I don't want to own slaves,not provide medical treatment for all men etc etc. As you have noted the letters of the Seridai Aish that Dr. Shapiro published showed that even big people can be bothered by aspects - just as Avraham was bothered by G-d's apparent injustic to Sedom etc etc etc. It is called Theodicy.The Ramban was bothere by the death of children. The gemora records that one of the gedolei hador becam an apikorus over these issues.

      However I think it is far more problematic for religious faith when the halacha is clear and yet major rabbis do not follow it as we see with child abuse or divorce laws. When Jews are aware of the laws of bein adam l'chavero and yet we have bullying and discrimination. In sum, I don't have a problem with G-d given laws which seem at variance with the current values of society - but I do have a problem with Jews not observing laws that not only are G-d given but are reinforced by Rabbinic law as well as commonsense.

    2. All of the things we consider evil today like slavery and sexism dissapeared not because we are nicer people but only because of our technology.

      If all of our industrial inventions were physically erased and erased from our minds and we were left to live in an agrarian society, we would naturally develop the institution of slavery and men and women would naturally take on different roles.

  6. I found this quote very ironic and even shocking:

    "3) contact your next door neighbor who has mafia connections who will make sure the guy receives the proper message in a forceful unambiguous manner"

    Just consider how absurd this sounds to self righteously call on an organization that sells drugs, runs whorehouses, and kills people for hire to protect your daughter.

    I couldn't imagine a more vivid indictment of the moral bankruptcy of the person who wrote this piece.


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