Pilegesh

All posts tagged Pilegesh

Just some thoughts on Judaism.

Published May 31, 2013 by Paige

So, i’ve been thinking about Graduate school lately… Scary, right? Well, my cousin is studying to be a Rabbi over at Hebrew Union College (HUC) and suggested i check it out.

They have some pretty freaking sweet programs. (All of which require me to know Hebrew. Which, of course, i don’t… *going to talk to my Adviser about that one… [hint hint if you’re reading this blog!]*)

Anyways. This got me back on my “Maybe i should try and be a *good* Jew…” thoughts. Sometimes i have those. It leads to “more modest” dressing, attempts at hair covering, attempts at kosher, and the like.

Then i remember my mom was Reform.

(Excuse me while i go check on my possibly-non-Kosher dinner… It’s disputed whether we’re allowed to mix chicken and dairy. i say we are. Edict says, “Don’t boil a cow in its mother’s milk,” right?..)

So, as you may well know (or you may not… in which case, you shall now be informed!), Judaism is becoming increasingly more progressive. In some ways. In some ways, it’s regressive, but i’ll get there. Point is, social-conservative-wise, it’s progressing, and that’s, well, progress.

Did you know that all branches of Judaism other than Orthodox say that same-sex marriage is ok, and that the government should allow it? They each either encourage their Rabbis to perform same-sex marriages, or give them the choice on their own. Here’s the nifty little chart here: nifty little chart!

On top of that, many branches allow inter-faith marriage. Now, not all will allow those in interfaith marriages to become Rabbis, but hey, progress is progress! (Personally, i’m ok with interfaith marriages… my Husband is Christian! We’re all Children of the same God, right? šŸ™‚ But i’ll write about that another time…)

Reform and other more liberal branches acknowledge that Kosher is due to health concerns of the time. Modesty laws are being re-thought as the times have changed and, i’m sorry, but knees and elbows justĀ aren’tĀ considered sexy anymore! Not all women cover their hair once married, and those who do just might wear a kippah (traditionally male headcovering) instead of a scarf or wig! Heck, i’ve even seen women wear hats or just wear a headband!

Things are changing. They are changingĀ for the better. Sure, some things should be stuck to. But i also realize that not all edicts in Judaism came from God. They came from Rabbis. Who, i’m sorry, are fallible. Therefore, i feel like the Torah and readings on the Prophets and other works that cameĀ from God should be what defines this religion that i am, currently, a part of.

Oh, did i tell you that last year i had an Orthodox Rabbi offer to teach me about Kabbalah? Something reserved for males over forty? No? Well i did. i’m thinking i’ll hold off on that until later in my education. i still need to learn Hebrew and become a Bat Mitzvah and all!

Now, earlier, i mentionedĀ regression instead of progression. No, i’m not talking about those ultra-Orthodox males in Israel who will attack women who they think are showing too much skin or dressing too sexily (even if they are dressed covering elbows, knees, and collarbones, and wearing skirts!), i’m talking about the movement in Israel to re-instate polygamy.

“Paige, why are you so interested in this? You already did a post on polygamy!”

Ah, this is true. But it was mostly a Christian perspective and i have since found more information. Technically, that post was written MONTHS ago. i just reposted it from my other blog (which i have since deleted. i want a clean start. More on that in a minute.).

Plus. It interests me. šŸ˜‰
Now, i don’t know too much about this movement. i know that it was started by a man who is married, whose wife has given consent for him to marry another woman as well, if the law allows. Currently, Yemenite Jews who move to Israel and already have more than one wife are allowed to keep all of their wives. However, once in Israel, they cannot marry any more. The case where a Jew wanted to marry another because his wife was unable to have children and consented to another wife was even turned down (they were Israeli Jews).

Some background on the ban:

Judaism never forbid plural marriages. Abraham had two wives, Jacob had two wives, David had 7 or 8, Solomon had 200 wives and 200 concubines. The rules were you should only marry as many as you could handle – meaning, you couldn’t change the living situation of the first wife, and any subsequent wives got the same amount of stuff she did. Same amount of allowance, same amount of living space, same amount of sex. There was even a rule saying you weren’t allowed to love the children of one wife more than the children of another. Fair’s fair. Later, the rule changed to 4 wives at the most (the same amount allowed in Islam). However, in the 1st or 2nd century, a Rabbi in Germany (Rabbeinu Gershom) proclaimed that polygamy was wrong and banned it for all Ashkenazi (re: European) Jews. Some say the ban was “until the end of the fifth millennium (according to the Jewish calender),” while others say it was to last 1000 years. The only way you could get around it was if your wife was incapacitated (re: in a coma, or in a mental state that meant she was unable to procure a get, or divorce) and get the signatures of 100 rabbis in three countries. That ban ended either in 1240 CE or in 1987 (according to this website). Oh, and the ban was never in place for Sephardic or Yemenite Jews. So they still had plural marriages, especially in cases of infertility and leverite marriages (marrying your deceased brother’s wife, which is compulsory in Judaism).

So, pretty much, there’s no ban now. However, the law still remains. Now, people think that poly is terrible. They think that the men are coercing their wives into it. However, according to the people pushing this movement, it’s theĀ womenĀ who are pushing for their men to marry more women! The movement is also saying that they think it will help women, as there are so many single women in Israel who are unable to fulfill duties as a wife and mother currently. Here’s theĀ articleĀ from the Jerusalem Post from about a year ago. Oh, and side note… those who say that poly is bad because Adam only had one wife? In Jewish tradition, he had two. First, he had Lilith, who fled the Garden (i don’t think they ever really divorced because the Angels kept telling her to go back to Eden). Then, he was given Eve because Lilith wouldn’t come back/refused to be on bottom during sex/refused to submit to him/raped him when she visited one night. So… unless he divorced Lilith, which i don’t think he did (i haven’t read the literature on it, though!), he had two wives at once. Also, i feel like by condemning polygamy and saying it is bad, people are saying that Abraham, Jacob, David, Solomon, and all of the rest of the people in the Bible who are looked up to as important andĀ holyĀ are wrong. That’s obviously not true! God blessed their marriages. (It should be noted that David and Solomon, being Kings, were seen as being allowed special privileges of extra wives [more than four] due to being Kings.)

On top of that, before Israel was fighting for polygamy, people were fighting to re-institute the status of concubines. Referring to my previous post, being a concubine was like being a wife. Some websites state that this is not true, but that is not the case. Here is the wiki-article on it. Rabbi Yaakov Emden said that a pilegesh agreement required both a kiddushin[wedding ceremony] to start and a get [divorce] to absolve. Some also say that the children of this marriage were not heirs. However, if this is true, then why would Abraham been given Hagar by Sarah when Sarah was unable to produce children? Sarah wanted Abraham to be able to produce an heir. The union between Abraham and Hagar produced Ishmael, and then Abraham and Sarah had a child – Isaac. Jews and Christians trace their line through Isaac. However, the children of both a pilegesh and a wife seem to be of equal standing… For while Sarah was able to request and receive the banishment of Hagar and Ishmael, Ishmael was given his own nation by God, that of Islam. In any case, the wife has to firstĀ consentĀ to a pilegesh, just as the wife must consent to other wives, or else it would be adultery on the part of the husband. However, the movement is more to allow non-married couples to have sex, making it something seen as temporary, when, in reality, the pilegesh is considered just as life-long as being a wife and was usually done when the girl wasn’t Jewish, or was from Canaan, or was unable to marry the man for some reason, as far as i can tell.

Phew! i went from pretty chill to pretty serious in about .2 seconds there. Sorry! (Just a moment while i eat. i’ve been ignoring my dinner to write this… bad idea!)

The point of this was mainly to examine things i thought were cool about Judaism, both today and in the past. Of course, there are some things i am not sure about yet. There are some rules i don’t always agree with. There are things i believe that may not fit the framework of the religion i currently am in, like the use of Tarot cards (interestingly, here are a couple sourcesĀ that say Tarot is perfectly acceptable for the same reason i use it – in that i use it to communicate with God [please read the second source with caution… i’ve not read the book, so i don’t know which review is more accurate]. They also say that Tarot is inherently Jewish. i’m not sure about that one, and would have to look into it. Regardless, i don’t use a “standard” Tarot deck. Most people start with a “standard” deck, consisting of Major and Minor Arcana [the Major Arcana has 22 cards. There are 22 letters in the Hebrew Alef-Bet, leading to the Judaism connection], and then, if they wish, move on to non-standard decks with their own cards that may not connect to the standard ones. i’ve never had a standard deck and don’t know if i ever will. Remind me to do a separate post on Tarot, ok?), or spells (i see them as prayer – for all i do is ask God to help me do something, which is the same thing i do when praying. There’s just more bells and whistles with spells), or any number of more “witchy” or “esoteric” things. Though, for all i know, as i delve further into Kabbalah, perhaps i’ll realize that everything i believe is really just in Judaism. And how awesome would that be? šŸ™‚
Paige. ā¤

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