Jewish Week on Jewish Concubines

Plegish.blogspot.com is covered in this brief article from the NY Jewish Week. (It seems the JW misspelled the blog’s url. Wonder if this was intentional?)

Rabbi Avi Shafran, Agudath Israel’s spokesman, says this about pilegish:

While conceding that the practice is not a sin, Rabbi Shafran said “many things are permitted but not engaged in. This is not anything that is normative in the Jewish world. The definition of a marriage is between a man and one wife, like the first man and his wife.” He was referring to Adam and Eve.

Shafran is a fool. Abraham had a pilegish. Jacob had two. Throughout First Temple times, pilegish was normal, and it was commonly used after that until several hundred years after the Second Temple was destroyed. And, even after that it was still used.

I don’t write this to encourage people to go out and become or find a pilegish. But Shafran’s response is simply stupid.

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26 Comments

Filed under Blogs, Religion

26 responses to “Jewish Week on Jewish Concubines

  1. Harold

    Solomon had three hundred wives and seven hundred concubines.

  2. Mark

    It is a rabbinical disagreement, I think Maimonidies says that a concubine is permissable only for a king and the Ra’avad disagrees

  3. Yo Shafran,
    Is grinding one’s cock against the buttocks of a twelve-year-old another one of the “many things” which are “permitted but not engaged in”? Your friends Scheinberg, Margulies, and Belsky seem to believe otherwise.

  4. Larry S.

    what was permitted a millenia ago, is no longer an option. such has been called by r’ybs-if i am not mistaken- navalim birshut hatora. contemporary deffenders of the practice are equally idiots and wicked.

  5. D

    “Throughout First Temple times, pilegish was normal”

    So was “Go’eil HaDam” and “Kanui Pog’im Bo”. Should we therefore be permitted to engage in extrajudicial vigilante justice today? What about addressing the collective guilt of an entire community through “Eglah Arufah” or “Ir Nidachas”? I am sure the targets of some of your ire would take great comfort in the former and recoil in horror at the thought of the latter.

    Just because something was done at one time does not mean we can reinstitute it at will. The circumstances are not the same as they once were. BTW, one woman is enough trouble for this man. 😉

  6. Anonymous

    In this case, it’s not Shafran who is being stupid. Avraham was given Hagar as a concubine after many years of a childless marriage. It wasn’t at his initiative, it was hers. Ditto, Ya’akov and the two concubines. They were given to him by Rachel and Leah. Marrying two sisters was not his intention either. Circumstances and the promise he had made Rachel (in addition to his love for her) forced him to marry a second sister. The principle of monogamy is clearly expressed in Genesis, ” Therefor shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife, and they shall be one flesh”. The torah simply does not forbid polygamy and concubinage since that was a prevalent practice in those times. Social conditions change with time, however, and such practices are no longer acceptable.

    Y. Aharon

  7. Anonymous

    Since when is God concerned about “prevalent practices”? The entire Torah is a polemic against the “prevalent practices” of the rest of the world. God took the time to forbid plenty of “prevalent practices” of the time – if He had wanted to forbid polygamy, He would have done so regardless of the “prevalent practices.” Or are you saying that the commandments of the Torah are not perfect, not designed by God, or not God’s will? Last time I checked, that was heresy.

  8. yehud

    G-d gave Noah the seven noahide laws. He then came along and gave the Jewish people the torah and its many commandments. And although he wasn’t explicit about certain practices like polygamy, he did give us indications about his feeling towards the matter. Everytime you see polygamy or concubines in the torah, its involves a bad situation. Sarah and Hagar fought. Rachel and Leah fought. Hannah and Penina fought. David had many wives and concubines and look how his kids fought. Lehavdil but Esau had three wives and look at his descendants. His son Eliphaz had a concubine who bore him Amalek. Even the torah gives us a line, “when a man has two wives, one who he loves and the other he hates.” The gemara continues along these lines and almost none of the 2000+ rabbis quoted in the gemara had two wives, if any. I believe that a rabbi yitzchak said, “a man had 2 wives, one old and one young. The young wife would pull out his grey hairs, and the old wife would pull out his black hairs. In the end, the man was bald.”

  9. Larry S.

    “Or are you saying that the commandments of the Torah are not perfect, not designed by God, or not God’s will? Last time I checked, that was heresy. ”

    to mr or ms no name.
    don’t put words in people’s mouth.
    mishna qiddushin opens with the statement, האישה–נקנית בשלוש דרכים…..בכסף, ובשטר, ובביאה. three valid ways to “acquire” a wife:
    money, bill or coit (in front of valid witnesses) .
    the glosses of rabbi obadia of bartnura explain that though coit is a valid way, the perpetrator should be caned, lest the jews become unruly and lewd.
    was r’ obadia a heretic ? that’s stupid.
    go ahead get yourself a pilegesh or become one. but expect people to call you names you will not like.
    i suspect however that you are just amusing yourself and asking just for spite.

  10. B”H
    Dear Larry!
    Perhaps you should review the relevant halachik responsa here are English translations of it:

    http://www.pilegeshpersonals.com/PilegeshResponsa.zip

    and realize that pilegesh is permitted except it has been a public policy in many communities for the Rabbis to teach the ignorant masses otherwise “halacha ve’ein morin kach” for various reasons.
    Yet to this day many rabbis even among those who wouldn’t publicly come out and say “it’s permitted” from Ultra-Orthodox to Modern Orthodox permit pilegesh on case by case basis since it has never been really prohibited in the 1st place.
    PS. The translations of the responsa in the zip file above are good translations however they are printed in a book that has certain other things that cannot be endorsed.
    PS. As mentioned in the blog and ignored in the NYJW article this blog is overseen by an Ultra-Orthodox Rabbi a Dyan (Rabbinic Judge) from Yerushlaim (Jerusalem) specializing in matters of marriage and divorce with decades of experience see http://pilegesh.blogspot.com/2006/11/rabbinic-supervision.html , thus your insults extremely uncalled for.
    Respectfully
    Noah
    Author of the Pilegesh Blog

  11. Larry S.

    pilegesh…zip,
    thanks your note.
    i don’t know what to tell you.
    the connotations of the word concubine
    are too strong to ignore.
    today, many “open minded rabbis(?)”
    find in this an opening for premarital sex for all and sundries.
    try to think of it from a perspective of a parent.
    is this the spirit of today’s halakha?
    would you marry someone who went to mikva before marriage for the purpose of cohabitting with a married man?
    would such man be considered a ben torah under any circumstance?
    you know originally based on halakha, a ger, can have relations with his biological mother, sister or aunt (provided of course they convert and are not niddot)because a ger is like a new born and therefore his mother is no longer his mother, so with his aunt etc….
    halakha changed however. nishtanu penei hadevorim.
    practically, he is forbidden to do that. because people should not be able to say, “look at him, he was more civilised before he converted. then he would not do that!”- or “instead of being elevated, by converting he fell instead from a higher plane to a lower plane.”

  12. B”H
    Dear Larry!
    I understand your concerns (even though I don’t totally agree wit some of them) and it’s up to you to teach your daughter to avoid being a pilegesh if that’s what you want.
    The point is there are many cases when pilagshut is preferable to other options.
    Just like no-one in their right mind would call those who allowed to drink challav stam
    “wicked and idiots” one should not use such language for rabbis who publicize the halacha that pilegesh is permitted and is sometimes preferable.
    To educate ones children to “wait till marriage” wise words of the Lubavitcher Rebbe on the subject would probably achieve greater results:
    Student: What is your opinion concerning dating for people our age?

    Rebbe: Every boy and girl looks forward to a happily married life, but this starts only after marriage. For if you try too much before [the relationship with the girl/boy], this influences all of one’s married life. The relationship between a boy and girl should be only in the same measure as the relationship between boy and boy, and girl and girl. But if more is added – and usually after a while much more is added than at the start – then you are taking away very much from the relationship between this boy and girl after they marry.

    All relationships make people closer. Everyone wants to be happily married; the idea of trying in a certain measure before marriage started a few decades ago, or less. Nevertheless, there have been happy marriages for thousands of years. This is just an experiment of a few years’ duration, and it is very difficult to be sure about the effects. The effects can show strongly non-beneficial results of “going steady” before marriage.

    Student: Isn’t there a difference between relationships before and after marriage? Isn’t this the way that society accepts?

    Rebbe: I’m speaking of the personal feelings of the boy and girl themselves – not whether society will be happy or not. Nowadays some are happy with the extreme right, some, with the extreme left, or any level in-between. Society is multicolored and different shaded, and every kind of behavior is tolerated.

    My opinion is that this influences the feelings of the married couple after their marriage. They hope for a marriage for many decades or years, and it is not worth allowing the pleasure of a few months to spoil something for decades, for tens of years.

    Dating steady
    before marriage Part one of a series of an audience with the Rebbe, of Blessed Memory in the year 1963
    http://www.chabadnews.us

    Respectfuly
    Noah Smith
    http://www.Pilegesh.org

  13. Neo-Conservaguy

    Pilagshut is the equivalent of drinking chalav stam? Now I’ve heard it all…

  14. B”H
    In truth Chalav stam is probably worse since pilegesh was never prohibited in the first place just a mistaken custom even Rav Moishe Feinstein who permitted USDA supervised Chalav stam writes that “baal nefesh”(a chassid) should still avoid chalav stam despite his hetter yet look what Ramban for example writes on Pilegesh
    “there is no difference between a king and a commoner in this regard and we find that foremost leaders of Israel lived so”
    And lest you claim that Torah permitted it yet the Rabbis later prohibited it, pray tell me in what place is it written that such decree was ever pronounced? And what Rabbinic court proclaimed it and in what period of our history?”
    http://pilegesh.blogspot.com/search/label/Ramban
    Also Larry since you asked this see what Rabbi Emden writes on the last page of his responsa regarding pilegesh about Bnei Torah:

    http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger2/3563/4339/1600/Page%2020.png

    Respectfully Noah Smith
    http://www.Pilegesh.org

  15. B”H
    In truth Chalav stam is probably worse since pilegesh was never prohibited in the first place just a mistaken custom even Rav Moishe Feinstein who permitted USDA supervised Chalav stam writes that “baal nefesh”(a chassid) should still avoid chalav stam despite his hetter yet look what Ramban for example writes on Pilegesh
    “there is no difference between a king and a commoner in this regard and we find that foremost leaders of Israel lived so”
    And lest you claim that Torah permitted it yet the Rabbis later prohibited it, pray tell me in what place is it written that such decree was ever pronounced? And what Rabbinic court proclaimed it and in what period of our history?”
    http://pilegesh.blogspot.com/search/label/Ramban

    Also Larry since you asked this see what Rabbi Yaakov Emden writes on the last page of his responsa regarding pilegesh is how it applies to Torah Scholars even more than to others:

    http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger2/3563/4339/1600/Page%2020.png

    Respectfully Noah Smith
    http://www.Pilegesh.org

  16. Larry S.

    R’Noach
    i really don’t think so.
    i looked at your web site.
    it says somewhere that pilegesh is better than going to prostitutes.
    what do you propose to the lady that has her yetzer overpowering her?
    i didn’t think so.
    bebirkat seing the light eventually

  17. B”H
    Dear Reb Larry!
    Chazal teach us that “G-d wants the heart”.
    Human court judges actions while heavenly court judges the intent.
    Let’s suppose a man who can afford to do so takes a widow with children as his second wife or pilegesh with his 1st wife’s blessing.
    Treats her well helps her bring up her children as G-d fearing Jews perhaps also brings more children into the world with her.
    Is this man a tzadik (no matter what local “kanoim” and ignoramuses will say), or are his actions just somewhat better than someone who goes to prostitutes?
    Will a Jew who will agree to this arrangement:
    Yeshiahu 4:
    “1. Now seven women shall take hold of one man on that day, saying, “Our bread we will eat, and our clothing we will wear. Only let your name be called on us; take away our reproach.”

    http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt1004.htm
    be a sinner? A Person committing “naval be reshus ha’Torah” or perhaps a tzadik as would seem from the rest of the perek?
    Was strong sexual desire itself ever considered a sin in Judaism?!
    I’m sure you can quote many passages from the Tanach and our sages of blessed memory saying the opposite, starting with midrashic explanation that “tov me’od” -“very good” in Breishis (Genesis) refers to the yetzer harah that without ones animal nature a man wouldn’t marry a wife, build a house, do good deeds etc.
    We should create ways to enable Jewish men and women to channel their desires proper way to serve Hashem “be’chol levavcha” (with both yetzer tov and yetzer ha’rah) and this includes creating a safe legal framework and supportive
    environment for men and women who want to live in relationships the Torah allows.
    Respectfully
    Noah Smith
    http://www.Pilegesh.org

  18. Jim the Catholic

    I blame the legalizing of Gay marriage for all this. In the past the only Jewish polygamy you had was in Muslim Countries. Jews in Christian countries where all monogamous because Christians believed since the promulgation of the Gospel natural law demands men be monogamous & thus Christian states forbad polygamy. Even thought it was moral in “Old Testament” times.

    BTW when I read the OT (ie. the Jewish Sciptures) I can’t find a case of a happy polygamous marriage.

    One woman is more than enough. Plus many wives = many Mother’s in Law!!!!!!

    Oy vey!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  19. B”H
    Hi “Jim” !
    “natural law” encourages polygamy both among animals and among humans to try to deny that is lunacy part of Western hypocritical outlook on life.
    Read:
    Polygamy & the Marriage Market: Who Would Have the Upper Hand? March 16, 2006 – Robert H. Frank, The New York Times to understand that in essence the reason you are against it that if it would be more prevalent you’d have to force yourself to be less of a slob to find a woman since fewer women would be available check it out and think about it.
    Noah Smith

    Pilegesh.org

  20. Jim the Catholic

    >”natural law” encourages polygamy both among animals and among humans to try to deny that is lunacy part of Western hypocritical outlook on life.

    I reply: Well that’s one opinion.:-)

  21. Jim the Catholic

    >reason you are against it that if it would be more prevalent you’d have to force yourself to be less of a slob to find a woman since fewer women would be available check it out and think about it.

    I reply: I really wouldn’t have to think about it. I’m a Catholic Christian. The Catholic Church forbids polygamy. Thus no faithful Catholic will enter into such a relationship. I AM already married but if I wasn’t why would I marry an “unbelieving” woman? Especially one with such low self esteme she would willingly share her man.

  22. Neo-Conservaguy

    “In truth Chalav stam is probably worse since pilegesh was never prohibited in the first place just a mistaken custom even Rav Moishe Feinstein who permitted USDA supervised Chalav stam writes that “baal nefesh”(a chassid) should still avoid chalav stam despite his hetter”

    Absolute rubbish: Jewish communities, notably in Europe, were already drinking “chalav stam” for some time before R. Feinstein Z”T wrote his tshuva. The proper definition of the term “ba’al nefesh” seems to depend upon the eye of the beholder; for me, it means roughly, “someone who needs to put themselves above others, at least in their own mind”.

  23. Baal Hamikhtam

    i tend to agree with neo-cons about baal nefesh, further more, i would feel that baal nefesh is a derisive term.

  24. Baal Hamikhtam

    Noach Smith
    Sorry but despite all your efforts and links provided, I see little beyond a not quite kosher -in my opinion at least- business entreprise. Some arguments pulling in the most revered R’ O Yosef into this pool as a defendent of this passul an nifsad practice, is reprehensible. It is simply not true and does not hold.
    Wish you good parnassa in other fields. This particular one, naaaaa, not kosher really.

  25. B”H
    Shalom Jim the pagan!
    “I reply: I really wouldn’t have to think about it. I’m a Catholic Christian. The Catholic Church forbids polygamy. Thus no faithful Catholic will enter into such a relationship. I AM already married but if I wasn’t why would I marry an “unbelieving” woman? Especially one with such low self esteme she would willingly share her man.

    Posted by: Jim the Catholic | December 28, 2006 at 04:35 PM ”

    Bellow is a quote from Darrick Evenson
    http://www.absalom.com/mormon/contrib/women-want-polygamy.html
    While I personaly disagree with some of what he is saying and think it would likely be a headache for the man to have more than one wife unless they are both extremly wise and holy women kind of Avigal as the Talmud mentions that king is limited to 18 wives but if they would be like Avigal even a 1000 is fine since the reason for the prohibition “so they will not turn away his heart” will not be violated.
    Ok enjoy Mr. Darrick Evenson’s wisdom. bellow:

    Women want Polygamy

    [Commons] [School] [Garden] [Kitchen] [Meditorium] [Library]
    contrib/women-want-polygamy.html

    > You seem to be a man who is using a
    > desire to have connubial relations… under
    > the OLDEST disguise in the book, saying GOD
    > wants you to practice some ordiance
    > and CERTAINLY not one that has the
    > best interests of others at heart.

    I used to believe that women suffered under polygamy, but then I saw so many attractive women (Mormon and Gentile) who were SO willing to share a wealthy or successful man rather than have a less successful one of theirown that I came to the conclusion that women _jumped_ into plural marriage with both arms and legs! While it is true that the _first_ wife was often tested, the other wives couldn’t wait to bed down with a wealthy male! I’ve seen dozens of young active Mormon women jump into bed with my rich male friends (Mormon or Gentile) at _less_ than the drop of the hat, merely in the “hope” that this wealthy man would fall in love with them and marry them. So PLEASE don’t present polygamy as merely a man’s excuse to get multiply laid! It was a God-send to many women too; who insist on a rich man (even a shared one) or no man at all.

    As far as Christians practicing polygamy; tens of thousands do in Africa. Jesus upheld the Mishnah; which authorizes plural marriage. He did not abrogate it. Paul told Church leaders not to practice it, because it was against Roman law. In Latin America, most men who are Middle Class and Upper Class have at least one concubine, and often a complete separate “wife” and children. This is common in Catholic countries! These women (millions of them) would rather share a successful man, than have one poor one all for themselves.

    > You dont know women well if you think that a
    >self respecting woman will settle for second
    >fiddle when she can conduct the band.

    Millions do–all over the world. I know of _many_ Mormon women (even some active) who are the concubines of rich Gentile (and in one case an active Mormon) men. These are always very attractive women. Any one of them could find a nice single man and marry them, but they insist on being “second fiddle” because their instinct for wealth is very high. There are millions of concubines and mistresses all over the world like this today; who PUT THEMSELVES as “second fiddle”; not only willingly, but enthusiasticly.

    Jesus said “What God hath joined, let no man put asunder”, but then yet He authorizes divorse in the case of adultery (authorizes men–judges–to put asunder the marriage). God authorized polygamy under the Law of Moses NOT because of men, but because of women! Some women will have a rich man, or not at all. God says: “Okay, but you must share”. The LORD said to David, “I have given thee they master’s wives unto they bosom” (2 Samuel 12). I _don’t think_ God would give David women so he would commit adultery with them! Do you?

    > You want LOVERS.

    Those men obsessed with “sex” are those men that women love to give “sex” to! They are spoiled, and women have spoiled them! Many men are quite satisfied with one woman. The day that attractive women stop “overfeeding” rich and successful men with sex, is the day all men become satisfied with one woman.

    > You enjoy the sexuality of it,
    >the attention of having all these
    >women focus on you like some harem.

    The men I know who are most lacivious, are the ones the women are most attracted to!!! If women didn’t jump into bed with these men at _every_ drop of the hat, and simply choose men who were righteous, then men wouldn’t be lacivioius at all! Women LOVE men who are rich/powerful (ala Monica Lewinsky et al), and will offer them sex, SEX, SSSSEEEEEXXXXXXX anytime–anywhere–any place– the men want it! So, please, don’t place all the blame on us men! If women simply got “lock jaw of the knees” tomorrow to any man who was married, or who was sexually spoiled, then all of this would end–tomorrow! As far as Joseph Smith goes. I will say this: POLYGAMY is _honest_! Beautiful women have, are, and will continue to offer themselves to powerful men; anywhere, anytime, and under ANY circumstances! Why not legitimize it? Look at the massive hypocrisy in Roman Catholic countries; where polygamy flourishes FAR more than it ever did in Utah, but the Catholic Church denies it! Look at the Mormon Church today. I would guess that perhaps 15% to 20% of all Mormon women are currently involved NOT in plural marriage, but in concubinage (the girlfriends or mistresses or wealthy Gentile–and in some cases Mormon–men): NOT against their will, but in accordance with their wishes (this refers to mostly inactive LDS women). There is also a large percentage of active LDS women who are married to Gentile men. One of my previous jobs was to “convert” the men. I’ve met literally “hundreds” of these couples. And you could bet your eternal soul: 1) A beautiful Mormon woman was _always_ married to a rich Gentile man in these situations! 2) Most of these men smoked and/or drank. Many of these women told me that their husbands had girlfriends. 3) A fat and/or unattractive active Mormon woman _never_ had a rich/successful Gentile husband!

    If the LORD authorized Joseph Smith to have sex with all those women, then it was justified; like He justified His servant David. If JS went overboard with this (as he probably did) then he will have to pay for it. Joseph Smith is a sinner. So was David. This doesn’t necessarily mean they weren’t both inspired of God. I believe God inspired both of them. I also believe they both “over did it” regarding plural marriage.

    In conclusion:

    Instead of chastising men for being obsessed with sex with multiple women, try for once telling the women to stop giving it out so much to these men, and be satisfied with their “own” husband.

    Darrick Evenson

  26. B”H
    Shalom!
    Neo-ahm h’aaretz and Baal Hamikhtam
    The term “baal nefesh” is used as a synonym for a (Chassid – a pious person) in the Talmud and halachik literature google it or ask your local scholar.
    PS. This is not really a for profit business enterprise but a way to attract attention to these issues in particular the fact that Rabbinic establishment and many Jews have sold out our Torah family values for the so called “Judeo-Christian” values which are not identical with Torah values but in fact have led to the current situation of rampant promiscuity and immorality , adultery homosexuality, and other types of behavior condemned by G-d Almighty and his prophets in our Holy Torah.
    Being aware of cases where a frum student couple for example were able to improve his life by living in a pilegesh relationship to improve their mental health their grades for that matter, being aware of a case where a woman is forced to suffer as an “aguna” because a major Beis Din ruled according to minority opinion of the Tzemach Tzedek that a an ex-girlfriend-a pilegesh essentially needs a get to remarry , being aware of many other cases of various kinds related to these issues I was inspired to take over the Pilegesh.Blogspot.com after it was deleted by it’s previous owner “Odom” from Lakewood NJ and to promote these issues thru this already popular domain with more than a 100 links to it.
    I registered PilegeshPersonals.com and JewishPolygamy.com to provide an opportunity for G-d fearing Jews worldwide to meet and NoahidePersonals.com
    for G-d fearing gentiles .These sites have interface in 11 languages and provide similar features as other leading matchmaking sites and are being constantly improved. If you are interested in signing up as a member please do so in particular since now it’s still free to encourage more members to sign up.
    If you are not interested at least don’t be another self righteous hypocritical ignoramus and spew baseless nonsense on the topic you probably haven’t researched nor really understand.
    PPS. Rabbi Ovadia Yosef voluntarily said what he said as is quoted in newspapers (see this article from Salt Lake Tribune December 7, 2001 for example:
    Polygamy’s Practice Stirs Debate in Israel http://pilegesh.blogspot.com/2006/12/polygamys-practice-stirs-debate-in.html
    and has thus far not retracted his statement or apologized for it in any way as far as I know and has no reason be ashamed for this .

    (unlike for his earlier rulings regarding giving away parts of the land of Yisrael to “save lives” etc. which he apparently retracted . )
    Respectfully
    Noah Smith

    Pilegesh.org

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