Saturday, July 14, 2007

I honestly did not know that

It's not everyday you learn something new. Ok, maybe if you're not like me and actually read the news or go outside. But certainly regarding halacha, I have to kind of work at it.

That's why I was so happy that Lazer had a new teaching for us. Specifically, about what the treyf, non-Jewish world calls "incest." Now, the modern-day, Jew-hating Babylonians of the world don't like us Torah-true yidden following our God-given directives to marry our nieces or cousins, even though the great sages of the Talmud said it was cool. Just ask Rashi!
since a man naturally loves his sister, says Rashi, he will have a special affection for a wife who is the daughter of his sister.

That's right, anyone who's ever had a hot sister knows there's nothing you'd like more than to have an excuse to spend some quality time with her kid. Or something. Anyway, thanks Rashi.
Rabbenu Tam agrees with Rashi, and says that the mitzva is to marry the daughter of a sister specifically (more than a brother), because the daughter of a sister will bring her husband good fortune and sons who resemble the father.

Um... actually, they'll resemble the GRANDPARENTS, but, you know, details. I guess Rabbenu Tam didn't know from Mendel.
The Rashbam disagrees with Rashi and with Rabbenu Tam, and says that marrying the daughter of a brother is just as good a mitzva as marrying the daughter of a sister.The Rambam, in agreement with the rationale of the Rashbam stipulates (Hilchot Issure Beia, 2:14), that it's a "mitzvat khakhamim", a rabbinical ordnance, to marry a niece, whether she's the daughter of a sister or a brother.

How dare they! Stop being all logical and harshing our buzz, Rashbam. You and Rambam can go jump in a mystical lake or something. I mean, jeez, "marrying your brother's daughter is JUST as good as your sister's?" What are you, Reform?

Ok, so the sages are cool with it. But what about the, you know, potential for Elephant Man-ism or Lobster Claw?

No fear, says Lazer.
the Melitzer Rebbe shlit'a in the name of his grandfather, the holy Shatzer Rov of blessed and saintly memory, that ever since Abraham married his niece Sarah, there has been a blessing among Jews for marrying nieces. Also, the Shatzer Rov wrote that the doctor's warnings about hemophilia and other genetic or medical flaws as in the case of the European monarchies does not apply to a family that observes halacha, most specifically, family purity and refraining from forbidden relations. In short, if you have a worthy niece, whether the daughter of a brother or a sister, you are allowed to marry her; not only that, but you will merit the blessings of our sages from the Gemorra.

Really? No fooling? Because I heard about a rebbe, I think he was head of the Bankrobber Hasidim, and he said that ever since Abraham almost sacrificed Isaac, there's been a blessing among Jews for robbing banks, and that federal and state laws about bank heists and grand larceny do not apply to Jews that observe halacha, especially family purity.

Except that then all his Hasidim went to jail. Go figure.

It's interesting; despite Lazer's great trust in his rebbe/rebbe's dead grandfather and the rabbis of the Talmud's blessing, he still seems to not be entirely sold on this whole "your genes have magical Abraham-blessing fairy-dust encoded on them" thing:
In any event, I strongly urge to test for Tay-Sach's disease before you even begin approaching the prospective match.

Hang on! Either Abraham's blessing is in effect and covers genetic diseases or it doesn't. You don't get to have it both ways! That's like Reform rabbis who don't observe second-day yontif but count it as a day off. I call you out, Lazer! If you really believe in the Shatzer Rov's teaching, you should feel REQUIRED to tell everyone who reads your blog to marry their nieces and cousins, Tay-Sachs be damned. In fact, they should especially marry if they have Tay-Sachs.

I guess what I'm trying to say is... where's your emunah, Lazer? Just trust in Hashem, man.


mnuez said...

Oh yah, no news here. I recall in 12th grade my Rebbe making the rather dubious claim (which I publicly questioned at the time) that a brother and sister who were born as vermin (sheigetz and shikseh in the vernacular) and then convert will not have any genetic difficulties shoulod they wed after their conversion being as they are now "newborns". (Halachically it's still not recommended "lest it seem that Judaism isn't the stricktest game in town".)

And this was a Rebbe well known as a modern "thinker".

Yah, and the next year in Shana Aleph when everyone was taking up smoking and I pointed out to a friend that he was engaging in the act of killing himself he accused ME of actually murdering him by being "tiftach peh l'satan". He said that the tzitz eliezer (I believe that's who he claimed to be quoting) said that all studies with regards to the dangers of smoking involve people who smoke on shabbos too. So for all we know, none of this is true when it comes to fineh yidden who "clear their lungs out" once every seven days.

vechulei vchulei...


balabusta in blue jeans said...

I can only imagine what they would say about Rabbenu Gershenon if he tried to ban polygamy NOW. Poor man, he'd be vilified as an assimilationist.

There is a long tradition of uncle/niece and first cousin marriages in Jewish communities, as well as in other Middle Eastern groups. However, genetics still applies to Jews. Very much so in the case of Ashkenazim, who spent a very long time with a very small gene pool. The Bedouin are facing similar problems.

My advice to Rabbi Lazer's questioner is to seek out someone else's niece. If he is Ashkenazi, I would strongly suggest seeking out someone non-Ashkenazi's niece. Healthier in the long run. And you can spend some holidays with people who have family disagreements you haven't heard a million times already.

Mis-nagid said...

Avraham didn't marry his niece, he married his half sister. When Abimelech complains that Abraham lies about Sraha being his sister, Abraham says, "I didn't lie, she really is my sister--my half sister."

Gen 20:2-12:
And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, She [is] my sister: and Abimelech king of Gerar sent, and took Sarah. But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, Behold, thou [art but] a dead man, for the woman which thou hast taken; for she [is] a man's wife. But Abimelech had not come near her: and he said, Lord, wilt thou slay also a righteous nation? Said he not unto me, She [is] my sister? and she, even she herself said, He [is] my brother: in the integrity of my heart and innocency of my hands have I done this.
Therefore Abimelech rose early in the morning, and called all his servants, and told all these things in their ears: and the men were sore afraid. Then Abimelech called Abraham, and said unto him, What hast thou done unto us? and what have I offended thee, that thou hast brought on me and on my kingdom a great sin? thou hast done deeds unto me that ought not to be done. And Abimelech said unto Abraham, What sawest thou, that thou hast done this thing? And Abraham said, Because I thought, Surely the fear of God [is] not in this place; and they will slay me for my wife's sake. And yet indeed [she is] my sister; she [is] the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife.

I know how it was reimagined in rabbinical midrash, but the posuk is clear as day. There's a lot of incest in the Torah.