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Friday, August 24, 2018

INSIGHT 5778 - #42 - MORES

For Ki Teitzei
Not yet available on the Nishma website

 I hope that no one thinks that I am in any way presenting, with the words of this Insight, an argument for an allowance for promiscuity . Clearly, for many halachic reasons, the view of Torah is that sexual expression should only occur within marriage. My point, though, is that it must be recognized that the underlying Torah morality that we are to, in fact, learn from the Torah restrictions in this regard can reflect different value constructs than those that foster any similar viewpoints in the general world. 

This is also so with many other ethical/moral stands within life; for example, the Torah view of tzniut is vastly different that calls within the world for sexual modesty. While in many ways the resultant behaviour may often be similar, the underlying moral construct advocating for this behaviour may actually be vastly different. What we can thus also find are situations where advocates of behaviour clearly contrary to that demanded by Torah actually present certain Torah values in their arguments as they challenge values presented against their viewpoint which actually are contrary to Torah. That is the case here in that the Christian sexual ethic is vastly different than the Torah ethic in this regard in many ways.

An important example of this would be the niddah laws which clearly indicate that Torah sexual morality is not just tied to marriage. In fact, these laws indicate that proper sexuality is not a black-and-white condition when it is always either permitted or not. In a value system based solely on marriage, sexuality between a couple is either always permitted or always not, depending on whether the couple is married or not. Pursuant to the niddah laws -- which, it can be argued, is a more fundamental construct within the Torah sexual ethical system than marriage -- it is clear, though, that proper sexual expression must be a development of the couple's expression within a more fluid environment. This, obviously, reflect a different understanding of sexuality including a significance to sexual expression when guided by these principles and expressed in its proper time.

Rabbi Ben Hecht .

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