Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Will They Emulate This Next?

Perhaps its selective recollection on my part but it really seems to me that the Chareidi drive to separate men and women in as many spheres of life as possible, while present for a long time, really kicked up a notch when the world discovered the Taliban.  Here was a sect of Muslims that were more machmir about covering up women than the Chareidim.  Well naturally they had to compete.  And so we've had the ongoing fights over separate buses, separate trains, separate public appearance, etc. and the rise of the Burka Babes of Beit Shemesh as the ultimate response to Mullah Omar's sect.
But when I was persuing the news I came across a little piece that might suggest a new direction Chareidi extremists might turn.  It seems that Iran has, in its attempts to reduces the feelings of sexual tension men might feel while travelling, instituted a little thing called "temporary marriage":
Shia Islam allows a man and woman to marry for a fixed period of time, ranging from an hour to a century.

A man can also have any number of temporary marriages - or sigheh, as they are known.
However, Iranian society still looks down on temporary marriage as a cover for prostitution.
Iran's interior minister, himself a cleric, said marriage was a human need and temporary marriage should not be used just for sex but to solve social problems.
He said there needed to be a cultural change to allow this.
He also said couples should marry at an earlier age.
Iran first started promoting temporary marriage as an alternative to living in sin 15 years ago.
The then President, Hashemi Rafsanjani, said it was a way for men and women to satisfy their sexual needs.

He even said there was no need for a cleric: the couple could read out an oath in private in order to marry.
These days, some girls who want to travel with their boyfriends and be allowed to stay in the same hotel room or avoid arrest by the moral police might have a temporary marriage.
Poor women who need financial support also do it.

Well they might, given that there's a gemara that discusses this very issue.  In the sugyah the issue is raised for exactly the same reasons as mentioned in the article quoted above.  A man during his travels might have certain urges.  Let unfulfilled he might come to commit serious sexual sins, therefore he might be allowed to take on a temporary spouse, in a concubine state of marriage, to allow him a legal outlet for his tension.  I recall discussing this with a Rav when I first read that gemara and his immediate response was "Yeah, we don't do that nowadays" but there it is, an actual Jewish practice that predates the rise of Islam.
So if we're going to out-Muslim the Muslims then the burka and restrictions on women in public are not enough.  We need to live according to our mesorah and if the gemara says it's okay, then who are we to argue?  A spin-off might even be an increase in Chareidi unemployment.  After all, the excuse "Honey, I have to go on another business trip" sounds a lot more legitimate when you are actually involved in business...
Now on the surface the idea that any Jews would see this as permissible is bizarre.  After all, the extremists are doing their best to limit what men and women can do while legally married.  Will they allow temporary marriages despite this?


Adam Zur said...

I love to be a "I told you so." But years ago before this hysteria and the shiduch crisis started i saw it all and yelled at the top of my lungs but no one listened. I knew then something was terribly off in the frum world. and yet even as i write this now i am sure everyone's eyes are glazing over. Yet i claim some deep uncleanilines has entered into the frum world's superorganism.
But even though i write about this often the time, i still do not claim to know the solution. my best idea i think is to take the basic principles of certain specific tzadikim and combine them into one path (Rambam, Rebbi Nachman and a few others.)

Anonymous said...

This blog is getting way too snarky to read.

SJ said...

Islam does not separate meat and dairy and Islam does not have a Sabbath.

If traditional Judaism were to adapt hardline Islamic rules of female modesty, which Judaism is on its way of doing, then a Jewish theocracy would in fact be stricter than an Islamic theocracy.

Also, God hates divorce. (Malachi 2:16)

SJ said...

Shades of Grey said...

SJ - we also know that divorce makes the Mizbeach "cry" (Gittin 90b) yet it is a mitzvah in the Torah when necessary. It's very difficult, but not bad or evil.

I'm really not sure if this sort of thing would ever fly in general Chareidism, though I imagine some sects of extremists who are overly obsessed with sexuality might adapt something like this in a heartbeat.