WATER FROM THE WELL: Of war and woman

Battlefield rape was never sanctioned, not by the Torah nor by the interpretations that followed.

August 23, 2018 16:32
WATER FROM THE WELL: Of war and woman

‘The Abduction of Daniel Boone’s Daughter by the Indians,’ Karl Ferdinand Wimar, 1853.. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)


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This week’s Torah portion, Ki Tetze, opens up with five verses that describe the possibility of taking a captive woman into the Israelite home. This narrative has often been used to suggest that the Torah permits battlefield rape to assuage the unbridled lust of soldiers at war. Only two years ago, the current military head of the IDF Rabbinate, Rabbi Eyal Karim, became caught up in controversy when he was quoted as having taught in a Torah class that raping a non-Jewish woman during war, while not desirable, was permitted because of this parasha.

If we look carefully, however, we discover that Rabbi Karim and others are heavily influenced by rabbinic and halachic interpretation of the text in clear contradiction of the Torah text. Furthermore, battlefield rape was never sanctioned, not by the Torah nor by the interpretations that followed.


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