Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews

Consensual rape?

Searching for a higher truth

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.

About the Author
The author is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (DES - Diethylstilbestrol), born in 1953 to two Dutch survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork, and holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam). He taught Re-evaluation Co-counseling, became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's a vegan for 8 years now. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. * His most influential teachers (chronologically) are: his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach and lehavdiel bein chayim lechayim: Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff and Rav Meir Lubin. * Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years he wrote hasbara for the Dutch public. His fields of attention now are varied: Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (statistics), Politics (Israel, the US and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight Truth), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, GLBTQAI, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation), Ecology and Veganism. Sometimes he's misunderstood because he has such a wide vision that never fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what many love about him. Many of his posts relate to affairs from the news or the Torah Portion of the Week or are new insights that suddenly befell him. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, reassure the doubters but make the self-assured doubt more. He strives to bring a fresh perspective rather than bore you with the obvious. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds must be disputed. In short, his main political positions are: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, democracy, anti the fake peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, Science, Free Will, anti blaming-the-victim and for down-to-earth optimism. Read his blog how he attempts to bridge any discrepancies. He admits sometimes exaggerating to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quit a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * His writing has been made possible by an allowance for second generation Holocaust survivors from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. November 13, 2018, he published his 500st blog post with the ToI. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me. To see other blog posts by him, a second blog - under construction - can be found by clicking on the Website icon next to his picture.
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