Friday, August 24, 2007

Ki Tetze - Eshet Yefat Toar and War Conflicts

Much has been said about the "beautiful woman" seized as a prisoner of war, and forcefully taken as a bride by an Israelite soldier. Many have been troubled by this seeming lapse of morality on the part of the Torah. Can the Torah sanction such an abuse of Human Rights?

Rashi talks about a concession to human weakness, and that in fact the efforts of the Torah are to ensure that this woman is NOT taken as a wife, but is instead returned to her family and nation. Admittedly, here the concern is for the spiritual integrity of Israel rather than the woman in question. But see this shiur by Rav Sabato who presents the Rambam's view (who suggest that this woman has already been raped,) that in fact the entire parsha is expressing some form of humanity and sensitivity to this woman rather than abandoning her.

I had a new insight on this topic reading an article about female refugees in the current current Iraqi situation. The reports talk about widescale prostitution in the wake of major war and population displacement, as women are destitute and have no other recourse to income and finance. This put the parsha in a new light. Rashi says that the women went to the battlefield to seduce Jewish soldiers. But maybe, this is simply a reality of the fallout of war situations. And if these women are indeed in this situation, maybe the Torah is being realistic in its attempt to grapple with this very tragic but a most probable reality.

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