Friday, May 9, 2014

Fact-Checking the Torah -- Answering claims

We were talking about Exodus 21:7-11 and I said that the Bible, the Mishnah and the Gemara combine to heap moral as well as economic disadvantages on the man who takes out a bond on a naarah, an underage girl, as designated bride of himself or his son.

The philosophical issue is this.  I’m sure you’ve heard of the phrase “an exception that proves the rule.”
That’s a misquotation.  The actual phrase and concept is that when a legal code specifically addresses a given situation, there is an opposite situation it does not address which has the opposite characteristics.  “An exception that proves that a different rule also exists.”
When American law discusses drunk driving as something that a person can be punished for, it implies that driving without being drunk is allowed.  So if you think it is stupid for states to keep changing their legal codes, first to deal with using a hand-held phone, then for smart phones, then for iPads, then for tablets, what you are seeing is this concept in operation.  If the police pulled somebody over under a cell phone law, and found out the driver was using a tablet, they might not be able to file charges if the state doesn’t have a law covering tablets.  Same for eating while driving, which is even more common and equally as dangerous as driving while texting.
But no state has a law explicitly saying that it’s OK to drive when you’re not drunk, drugged, or distracted.  That’s the opposite of the illegal exception that the legal code does discuss.
When Jewish law puts all these conditions on bonding a naarah, that’s the exception.  None of the restrictions apply to the bogeret.  We’ll see this again and I’ll point it out when we get to it.
The flip side is that while onatah can refer to a bogeret, it can’t refer to a naarah.
Now.  You’re saying “methinks she doth protest too much.”  Somebody had to think it was all right to have sex with underage girls based on verse 10.  Three standard situations are involved in this claim.
First, everybody knows it was once illegal for women to own property let a lone vote.  But times change and the law changes with them.  This can also happen in Jewish law, as shown by the Mishnaic and Talmudic restrictions on child marriage.  People who claim Jews approve of marrying off underage girls now in the 21st century are deliberately ignoring this.  The way to handle it is to challenge them for statistics on such marriages.  They won’t have any.
The second situation is citations and this will get you the most bang for your buck, no matter what subject is under discussion.  Ask the claimant for the book, chapter and verse in Jewish classics that says so.  One of three things will happen.
You’ll get an answer but you won’t be able to find it in Jewish classics.  That’s because the claimant copied from an invention possibly centuries old.  He thinks it’s true because he doesn’t have the education to check it for himself.  He doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
You’ll get an answer, but it won’t say what the claimant says it says.  It might not even be on the same subject.  That’s because the claimant copied from an invention possibly centuries old.  She thinks it’s true because she never even read the material.   She doesn’t know what she’s talking about.
These two situations cover 100% of the quotes that you do get.  The third situation is that the claimant won’t be able to give any quotation.
The third situation is this: polygamous marriage was prohibited to Jews in the middle ages.  The claimant needs to point to halakhah, the Jewish law currently in force on the subject.  That’s not possible.  There is no halakhah applying to modern Jews that allows them to marry underage girls.  The claimant won’t know that.
The reason the claimant stopped with the inventions and didn’t do the homework is because that wasn’t the point of the claim.  The claim was made to be titillating and defamatory.  The claimant doesn’t care that it’s defamatory.
Bonding has one more issue which I will discuss next.  Go back to Exodus 21 and look at verse 37, then look at verse 22:3.

© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

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