Picture the scene (but not too much). A bunch of Jewish Israeli 18-year boys on vacation on Cyprus meet a vacationing Gentile British 18-year old girl. (I don’t know the exact details and they don’t matter for our discussion.) They have consensual sex with her. Great fun. After the act, they throw her out of their room. She was only meat to them. How stereotypical. They just wanted sex, she expected friendship, closeness.
Now she feels raped. But it was consensual. Not anymore. Rape on hindsight, is there such a thing?
I would like us for a moment to sidestep morality. For Jewish Law, this was completely forbidden and Judaism’s worst sin: a desecration of the Jews’ and therefore G^d’s standing in the world. For Jewish ethics, this was an embarrassment. For men’s lib this was not what was needed.
But may we momentarily suspend moral — and legal — questions to search for something even higher? And set aside any fear or worry what such an endeavor and possibly new insight could mean as precedent?
Let’s focus beyond law and narrow ethics and look for higher truth. Once we find that, we’ll see if there would be any implications.
The Sages teach us that G^d is generous because He gives everyone what they deserve. And they ask, how is that bighearted? That sounds as simply just, not as charitable.
They answer that G^d overlooks how we felt before doing a Command. If we dreaded doing it but we did it anyway, we generally are relieved and happy after having done it. He is generous because He only looks at how we felt afterward and not at us making light of it or procrastinating. (Though, if we did a Commandment while not feeling like doing so, our reward is also much larger than if it appealed to us from the start.)
Like in our Portion of the week, where we read (Deuteronomy 15:10) that we should not just do charity but also like doing so.
Same with sin, Heaven forbid. We should regret having sinned — ever. He only looks at our regrets, not at our prior passion to violate His Word.
Therefore, we should never regret having done a Commandment. That erases any virtue from it, even if we did it with zeal at the time. And we should never bask in our true violations but rather always regret them, to reduce our guilt and lessen how we diminished our moral stature.
So, our virtuousness is determined by our aftertaste.
We know it is more important that we behave well with our fellow human beings than with G^d. How could the King of Kings be pleased when we behave poorly with His children? When we violate people, we also violate Him.
So it seems that how well we behaved with our fellows is given by how they feel about us afterward.
I’m going to delve a little bit into Jewish Law, but only for the big picture. I asked a few rabbis and this is what they said. NB: In concrete cases, the smallest of details can influence what Jewish Law considers kosher or not.
When we sell something to our fellow and he thinks he got a good deal but later finds out that he paid far too much, does that influence the deal? Yes. If he overpaid by more than a sixth, the deal can be undone. The buyer returns what he bought and gets his money back. A deal’s a deal but fair’s fair.
What if we sell something that turns out to have a hidden defect? If it can be proven that the defect was there at the time of the sale, the sale can be undone or the buyer can demand a repair or a flawless copy. Of course, we should say, when you buy a house, have it checked by an expert. But hidden flaws are not nullified by closing the deal.
A woman gets married to a closeted homosexual man who knew but never told her. This is not a common case of marriage being tougher than expected. That happens often. No, this is receiving damaged goods. (Homosexual men are not damaged but they are unfit for heterosexual marriage. For friendship, no problem but for marital bliss, she deserves mutuality.) Rabbis have ruled that a woman in such a position doesn’t need a divorce. Even not if the marriage was consummated. For Jewish Law, there never was a marriage. She could marry a Cohen because she’s not a divorcee. She would never in her right mind have agreed if she’d known.
(For the same reason, rabbinic courts should simply annul any marriage with a recalcitrant husband who refuses to grant his wife a divorce.)
In other words, there is no such thing like, too bad you were sold short but it’s now too late. You have recourse.
One could say, when a girl has sex with a couple of guys for the fun of it, she should know that they’re probably in it for the thrill and won’t care about her at all. But even if she didn’t know, she’s entitled to complain that she didn’t receive what she expected. However, if that’s what generally happens in such cases, the boys don’t seem so negligent.
Yet, it seems that feelings after a deal do count. You can’t say “you agreed to the sale so shut up.” G^d also doesn’t say “You sinned so shut up.”
So, in this case — not talking about right and wrong, kosher and treif, legal and unlawful — it seems proper to say that the girl has every right to blame the guys for feeling violated. And they should apologize — not because she has a moral, Jewish or legal claim on them but still, they caused her to feel great hurt. For the Heavenly Throne, only regret, apologies, and appeasement work after we wronged someone.
So, on the highest moral level, there seems to be such a thing as rape on hindsight, consensual rape. She’s not chopped liver. They should say sorry.