Sleeping with the Enemy. It’s OK…Really

by Brian on October 7, 2010

in In the News,Jewish Holidays and Culture

Crown depicting Queen Esther as a great Jewish achievement

Seducing spies...a crowning Jewish achievement?

Sometimes, Jewish law can be taken to the most unlikely extremes. Witness the report in Ynet this week that it’s OK for an Israeli woman to seduce an enemy agent for the sake of national security. Indeed, it’s an important mitzvah.

The ruling was made by Rabbi Ari Shvat in a publication from the Zomet Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to merging halacha (Jewish law) with modern Israeli life.

Rabbi Shvat based his surprising conclusion on the story of the biblical Esther who sleeps with Persian King Ahasuerus to save the Jewish community. He also cites Yael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, who seduces and kills the Canaanite general Sisera.

The ruling is not simply the result of an afternoon of Talmudic musing: according to some foreign media reports, what is known in intelligence circles as a “Valentine operative” or a “honey trap” may have been used to lure Hamas terrorist Mahmoud al-Mabhouh to his death in Dubai earlier this year. Nuclear spy Mordechai Vanunu may have also succumbed to such temptations on his way to Israeli incarceration.

Of course, there’s got to be a catch. And it’s a big one. If the Israeli operative is married, she must divorce prior to the mission and remarry afterward. If not, even if it’s sanctioned by the government, she’ll still be committing adultery. And, oh yes, she’ll never be able to marry a Cohen (a Jew from the Priestly caste).

But no matter, says Shvat. These kinds of missions “may naturally be tasked to women who are already promiscuous.”

That doesn’t sound very kosher to me.

This post appeared earlier this week on Israel21.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Rahel October 7, 2010 at 1:56 pm

I don’t understand where people get the idea that Queen Esther slept with Ahasuerus in order to save the Jewish community. She had to sleep with him even before she was married to him, like the other young women who were brought to the palace for a “trial run.” And it’s reasonable to assume that they slept together any number of times after they were married, at least during the first months of their marriage.

There is even a midrash that Esther was married to Mordechai and continued to see him clandestinely even after her marriage to Ahasuerus, since her marriage to the king was technically considered rape because she had been taken to the palace against her will. Only after she went before the king to plead for her people could she be considered as having come to him of her free will, so she could no longer stay with Mordechai.

At least, that is what I learned a long time ago, but I still don’t understand it. I never got a satisfactory explanation as to how Esther’s going to see the king — publicly, in his throne room, not his bedroom — without being summoned was tantamount to her sleeping with him out of free will.

2 Ra'anan December 10, 2010 at 1:05 pm

Rachel, as far as I remember, that’s a gemara towards the end of M Meghilla. B”SD
Since Esther INITIATED that throne room contact of her own free will she had to divorce, but that’s only ONE opinion. If I recall correctly, the Ben Yehoyadha’ (Ben Ish Chai on Talmudh) says that Achashwerosh NEVER even TOUCHED Esther, but was actually having relations w/a sheid who looked like Esther.


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