B: Primary Texts
9. The Basis of Marriage
10. Single Temptations
11. The Misfortune of Widows
12. Marrying the Brother-in-Law
14. Protecting the Women
15. The Text of the Get
17. Gay Jews
This section brings together the various texts referred to throughout the previous (background) section and supplements them with some commentary and additional texts that are relevant within the context. These extra texts can serve as the basis of further educational programming, either individually or juxtaposed with the other texts, in order to further enrich the activities. Alongside each title is a link it to the corresponding title in the background section of this chapter.
9. The Basis of Marriage (
For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united with his wife and they shall become one flesh.
10. Single Temptations (
Keep a close watch over a headstrong daughter,
For if she is allowed her liberty, she may take advantage of it.
Keep watch over a roving eye
And do not be surprised if it offends against you.
Like a thirsty traveler who opens his mouth
And drinks of any water that is near,
She will sit down before every tent peg,
And open her quiver to the arrow.
Ben Sira 26
11. The Misfortune of Widows (
In addition to the two Biblical excerpts brought in the body of the text, above, below are two additional texts. The first is drawn from the social legislation of Devarim in the Torah, while the second piece describes a poor widow to whom Elijah is sent.
You shall not mistreat a stranger nor oppress him because you were strangers in Egypt. You shall not take advantage of a widow or an orphan. If you do and they cry out to Me, I will certainly hear their cry. My anger will be aroused and I will kill you with the sword: your wives will become widows and your children fatherless.
A father of the fatherless and a judge of widows is G-d in His holy habitation.
Do not deprive the alien or the fatherless of justice or take the cloak of the widow as a pledge…When you are harvesting in your field and overlook a sheaf, do not go back to get it. Leave it for the alien, the fatherless and the widow… When you beat the olives from your trees, do not go over the branches a second time. Leave what remains for the alien, the fatherless and the widow. When you harvest in the grapes in your vineyard, do not go over the vines again. Leave what remains for the alien, the fatherless and the widow.
The word of the Lord came to [Elijah]. “Go at once to Zarephat…and stay there. I have commanded a widow in that place to supply you with food.” So he went to Zarephat. When he came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and asked, “Would you bring me a little water in a jar so that I may drink? … And bring me, please, a piece of bread.”
“As surely as the Lord your G-d lives”, she replied, “I don’t have any bread – only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it [before] we die.”
I Kings 17:8-12
12. Marrying the Brother-in-Law (
In addition to the Biblical text, below appears a disagreement between the idea of the Talmud that Chalitzah is to be preferred to Levirate marriage and the opinion of Maimonides, several hundred years, later stating the opposite point of view.
Also brought below is the official Israeli rabbinical decision of 1950 that made mandatory the act of Chalitzah, rather than Levirate marriage.
If brothers are living together and one of them dies without a son, his widow must not marry outside the family. Her husband’s brother shall take her and marry her and fulfill the duty of brother-in-law to her. The first son that she bears shall carry on the name of the dead brother so that his name will not be blotted out from Israel.
However, if a man does not want to marry his brother’s wife, she shall go to the elders at the gate and say: “My husband’s brother refuses to carry on his brother’s name in Israel. He will not fulfill the duty of a brother-in-law to me.” Then the elders of his town shall summons him and talk to him. If he persists in saying “I do not want to marry her” his brother’s widow will go up to him in the presence of the elders, take off one of his sandals, spit in his face and say: “This is what is done to the man will not build up his brother’s family line.” That man’s family shall be known in Israel as the family of the unsandalled one.
Previously, the mitzvah of Levirate marriage (yibum –
) came before the mitzvah of chalitzah when the intention was to fulfil the commandment. But now that they act but not to fulfil the commandment [but rather greed or lust after the widow], the [Sages] have said that the commandment of chalitza supersedes the commandment of yibum.
Mishnah: Bechorot 1:7
And what is said about yibum and chalitzah, namely that the widow is not permitted to him unless his intention is to perform the commandment… but that if he marries her for her money or her beauty, it is as if he has committed a sexual transgression – this is not true…
He is permitted to marry her even if his intention is not for the sake of the commandment. Therefore the law, in my opinion, is that the commandment of yibum supercedes the commandment of chalitza at all times and that is the Halachah.
Maimonides. Commentary on the Mishnah: Bechorot 13a
We decree upon all who dwell in Israel and all who will come and settle in it in the future, to forbid them the performance of the commandment of levirate marriage and they are obliged to submit themselves to Chalitzah.
Decision of National Conference of Israeli Rabbis 1950
If a man marries a woman who becomes displeasing to him because he finds something indecent about her and he writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house, and if after she leaves his house she becomes the wife of another man and her second husband dislikes her and writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house or if he dies, then her first husband who divorced her is not allowed to marry her again after she has been defiled. That would be detestable in the eyes of the Lord.
You flood the Lord’s altar with tears. You weep and wail because He no longer pays attention to your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands. You ask “why?” It is because the Lord is acting as witness between you and the wife of your youth, because you have broken faith with her, though she is your companion, the wife of your marriage covenant. Has not the Lord made them one? In flesh and spirit they are His. And why one? Because He was seeking G-dly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit and do not break faith with the wife of your youth. For to put away is hateful, says the Lord G-d of Israel.
14. Protecting the Women (
When he (Rabbenu Gershom) saw how the generation was abusive of Jewish daughters insofar as divorcing them under compulsion, he enacted that the rights of women be equal to those of men and just as a man divorces only from free will, so too, a woman might henceforth be divorced only willingly…
Rabbenu Asher: Responsa
15. The Text of the Get (
Below is the full and precise text of the get in
the get itself must be in Hebrew
. If it is written in any other manner (or language) than the Hebrew text, it will not be considered valid.
On the … day of the week, the … day of the month of … in the year … from the creation of the world, according to the calendar reckoning we are accustomed to count here in the city … (which is also known as …), which is located on the river … (and on the river … and situated near wells of water,
I … (also known as …), the son of … (also known as …) who today am present in the city … (which is also known as …), which is located on the river … (and on the river…) and situated near wells of water, do willingly consent, being under no restraint, to release, to set free and put aside you, my wife … (also known as …) daughter of … (also known as …), daughter of … (also known as …), who is today in the city of … (which is also known as …), which is located on the river … (and on the river …) and situated near wells of water, who has been my wife from before.
Thus I do set free, release you and put you aside, in order that you may have permission and the authority over yourself to go and marry any man you may desire. No person may hinder you from this day onward and you are permitted to every man. This shall be for you from me, a bill of dismissal, a letter of release and a document of freedom, in accordance with the laws of Moses and Israel.
16. Intermarriage (
Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, for they will turn your sons away from following Me to serve other G-ds and the Lord’s anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you.
... For you are a people holy to the Lord your G-d. The Lord your G-d has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be a people, his treasured possession.
Judah [the Jews] has broken faith. A detestable thing has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem. Judah has desecrated the sanctuary that the Lord loves, by marrying the daughter of a foreign G-d. As for the man who does this, whomever he may be, may the Lord cut him off from the tents of Judah – even though he brings offerings to the Lord Almighty.
We have disregarded the commands You gave through Your servants the prophets when You said: the land that you are entering is a land polluted by the corruption of its peoples. By their detestable practices they have filled it with their impurity from one end to the other. Therefore, do not give your daughters in marriage to their sons, or take their daughters for your sons… Shall we again break Your commandments and intermarry with the peoples who perform such detestable practices? Would You not be angry enough with us to destroy us leaving no remnant or survivors… Here we are before You in our guilt, though because of it not one of us can stand in Your presence.
You have been unfaithful: you have married foreign women, adding to Israel’s guilt. Now make confession to the Lord G-d of your fathers and do His will. Separate yourselves from the peoples around you and from your foreign wives.”
In addition to the texts from the Torah, below is Maimonides' opinion on lesbianism from the Mishneh Torah, his code of law.
Do not lie with a woman as you lie with a man. That is detestable.
If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death. Their blood will be on their own heads.
Women are forbidden to engage in lesbian practices with one another, these being the “doings of Egypt” against which we have been warned, as it is said: “You shall not copy the practices of the land of Egypt”. (Vayikra 18:3).
Our Sages have said: “What did they do? A man would marry a man, or a woman a woman, or a woman would marry two men”. Although such an act is forbidden, the perpetrators are not liable for a flogging, since there is no specific commandment forbidding it, nor is actual intercourse of any kind involved.
Maimonides. Mishneh Torah: Issurei Biah 21:8