Tuesday, September 05, 2006

I Defend Myself, Therefore I Exist

I defend myself, therefore I exist   — Herbert Pagani

From last week's parsha, Ki-Teitzei’, Devarim/Deuteronomy 22:23-26:
If there be a young woman, a virgin, betrothed to a man — and [some other] man found her in the city, and slept with her — you will bring them both out to the gate of that city, and stone them with rocks and they will die; the young woman due to the fact that she did not scream in the city, and the man due to the fact that he abused his neighbor's wife. And [so] you will destroy the evil from among you.

But if the man finds the betrothed young woman in the field, and the man grabbed her, and slept with her — the man who slept with her dies alone. And to the young woman do nothing, [since] she has [committed] no capital crime; for as when a man gets up over his neighbor and murders his soul, so is this incident — for he found her in the field; the betrothed young woman screamed, but there was no one to be her savior.

Leaving aside the particular issues of how the Torah defines and deals with cases of rape, it looks to me like we are given here a commandment to resist evil. The woman dies because "she did not scream in the city" — she had the ability, assumedly, to protest, to resist, but she didn't. When someone is hurting you, don't sit there and take it. Fight. Struggle. And if you can't fight, protest. Say "no". Non-collaboration makes all the difference.


On a related note, Ůnqelŏs has a habit of translating/interpreting ובערת הרע "and [so] you will destroy the evil" whenever it appears as עָבֵיד דְּבִישׁ "one who does evil" — sort of an anti-Beruriya, eh? Or maybe he's just explaining what is actually happening on a practical level.

8 Comments:

Blogger Balabusta in Blue Jeans said...

The fundamental problem I have with this text is the fact that an accomplished rape in the city is, AFAICT, taken as proof positive of a lack of resistance, and a lack of resistance as assent.

I live in a city. While I would like to think that my neighbors would rush to my rescue at a second's notice, that is not universally, or even generally, the case for urban women.

What is the penalty for the man who heard the screams and did not come to the rescue of the betrothed virgin?

Why is the husband's property right so heavily vested that his fiancee cannot make a judgement call to save her own life?

What becomes of the woman who gave her attacker a bloody nose, a mangled ear, and some damn good bruises, but was nevertheless, raped?

I can't get anything good out of this, try as I may.

9/06/2006 12:33 AM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

I don't remember the details, but (if i remember correctly) halakhically it's the resistance or non-cooperation that defines it as rape vs. wilfull adultery, whether it happens in a city or out in the fields. So like "eye for an eye", the law isn't exactly what it seems at first glance.

And you're halakhically permitted (obligated?) to kill the attempted-rapist in order to save the woman, too — a law the Talmud connects to the Torah's explicit comparison of rape to murder.

9/06/2006 7:43 AM  
Blogger Knitter of shiny things said...

You're halakhicly obligated to kill the attempted rapist of a betrothed woman, but not a non-bethrothed one, since the punishment for raping her isn't death, but rather that he has to marry her, can't divorce her, and has to pay the full bride price to her father.

See tractate 8 of Sanhedrin, the last mishnah, about the rodef. It also brings up abortion in that section.

9/06/2006 9:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Someone in america knows about Pagani, I heard of him only from French Jews.

Hhakham Hhanucah

9/06/2006 4:08 PM  
Blogger BZ said...

And if I recall correctly (I studied this perek 5 years ago, so it's been a while) the Gemara twists it around until din rodef for a murderer ends up being derived from a rapist, rather than the other way around as one would expect!

9/06/2006 4:40 PM  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

I'm with Balabusta on this. If someone held a knife to your throat and asked for your wallet, wouldn't you give it to him? Why is a woman's virginity worth more than her life, that she should be expected to risk getting her throat slit by calling for help?

9/06/2006 8:22 PM  
Blogger Warren Burstein said...

What's bothered me about this one for years, possibly since the first time I read it, is, you can't execute someone unless there were witnesses to both give a warning (if you do that, you'll be executed) and to observe. If the rapist and victim are alone in a field, no one would be executed.

I came across the same problem years later in Massechet Makot - there was some detail with Edim Zommemim that hinged upon whether all of the witnesses could see each other or not. But the definition of Edim Zommemim is that other witnesses testified that the first witnesses were somewhere else at the time. How could they have seen each other if they were somewhere else? Does it mean they were all somewhere else together?

9/07/2006 4:50 AM  
Blogger Ari Kinsberg said...

"it looks to me like we are given here a commandment to resist evil . . . When someone is hurting you, don't sit there and take it. Fight. Struggle."

A variation of ha-ba le-horgekhah, haskem ve-horgo? (Which I submitted as my H.S. yearbook motto, but was rejected by the faculty advisor.)

Shababt shalom!

9/08/2006 10:02 AM  

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