[Avodah] De-Chokifying Arayos (including MZ)

H Lampel via Avodah avodah at lists.aishdas.org
Mon Jul 20 14:34:00 PDT 2015

On Sun, Jul 12, 2015 at 02:39:36PM -0400, Meir Shinnar via Avodah wrote:
: One could argue whether the arayot the rambam means refers to all dine
: arayot, or only to a subset (excluding mishkav zachar), although not sure
: on what basis - but clearly the rambam here insists that arayot are NOT
: self evident or even mefursamot

RMB responded:
> Lo zakhisi lehavin: It's hard to see how incest within the immediate
> family or eishes iss aren't mefursamot.

My two cents:

Adultery (eishis ish) should be categorized under issurim mefursomos
simply on the basis that it involves taking lves taking liberties with
another man's wife, an intimacy that belongs to the husband. A form
of theft! So that itself puts it within the category of issurim that
are mefursamos.

The Rambam (MN 2:49) describes all sexuality as something that even when 
natural, should be limited. Homosexuality and bestiality, however, he 
describes as obvious deviations from the natural order that should be 
abhorred. I think that would place these two activities, as well, in the 
mefursamos category.

The Rambam (ibid.) continues to write that G-d prohibited incest and 
commanded that it, too, be considered abhorrent, [but only] because 
allowing males to engage in any sexuality with females (other than his 
wives) who are constantly surrounding him in his house would lead to 
excessive sexuality. So the Rambam does not consider incest 
intrinsically unnatural or evil. Theoretically, if it would be limited, 
it would not be so bad. But male human nature being as it is, it is 
bound to lead to excess, and so, it is as a preventative that it is 
absolutely forbidden.

Here is Pines' translation of the pertinent passage:

    MN 3:49
    As for the prohibitions against illicit unions, all of them are
    directed to making sexual intercourse rarer and to instilling
    disgust for it, so that it should be sought only very seldom. The
    reason for the prohibition against homosexuality and against
    intercourse with beasts is very clear. For if the thing that is
    natural should be abhorred except for necessity, all the more should
    deviations from the natural way and the quest for pleasure alone be

    All illicit unions with females have one thing in common: namely,
    that in the majority of cases these females are constantly in the
    company of the male in his house, and that they are easy of access
    for him, and can be easily controlled by him - there being no
    difficulty in making them come into his presence; and no judge could
    blame the male I for their being with him. Consequently if the
    status of the women with whom union is illicit were that of any
    unmarried woman, I mean to say that if it were possible to marry
    them and that the prohibition with regard to them were only due to
    their not being the man's wives, most people would have constantly
    succumbed and fornicated with them. However, as it is absolutely
    forbidden to have intercourse with them, the strongest deterrents
    making us avoid this - I mean by this a sentence of death by order
    of a court of law and the threat of being cut off--so that there is
    no way to have intercourse with these women, men are safe from
    seeking to approach them and their thoughts are turned away from them.

Zvi Lampel

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