[Avodah] De-Chokifying Arayos (including MZ)

H Lampel via Avodah avodah at lists.aishdas.org
Tue Jul 21 06:54:49 PDT 2015

On 7/20/2015 7:02 PM, Micha Berger wrote:
> ... our problem is with Shemoneh Peraqim, where the Rambam distinguishes
> between mitzvos mefusamot, for which a person should develop a desire
> that is in line with the mitzvah (or a distaste in line with the issur),
> and other mitzvos where one should simply refrain out of submission to
> ol mitzvos.

> And among his mitzvos which are NOT mefursamos are arayos....the chiluq
> the Rambam makes in 8P requires our considering these issurim to not
> be self-evident.

And that's precisely what I addressed in my 3rd paragraph. After citing
the Moreh Nevuchim's description of homosexuality and bestiality as
obviously deviant practices (i.e. mefursamos), I cited its description
of arayos (outside of eishis ish) as being not mefursomos, but issurim
Hashem instituted as a preventative, a gedder, against unrestrained
licentiousness in a situation (viz. family) where the temptation for it
would otherwise be too hard to control.

To repeat what I wrote:
>> 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." Perhaps the mention of "commanded that it, too, be considered
>> abhorrent" causes confusion. This would seem to put incest back into
>> the category of mefursomos, along with murder and stealing, etc., about
>> which a normal person is expected to harbor revulsion. So Rambam would be
>> self-contradicting. But the elephant in the room is that the Torah itself
>> commands us to treat eating non-kosher creatures with disgust. So how
>> can Chazal tell us the right attitude is "efshi"? Evidently, Chazal and,
>> naturally, Rambam, do not consider "efshi" to be at odds with "shekketz
>> yih'yu lachem/teshak'tsu."My surmise is that they understand the Torah's
>> command to treat with disgust the eating of non-kosher creatures and
>> other acts that are not intrinsically objectionable (such as, per Rambam,
>> incest, vs. murder, stealing, homosexuality and bestiality), as an imposed
>> artificial behavior/attitude for these non-mefusamos issurim. Regarding
>> your definition of issurim mefursamim, the Shemoneh Perakim does not
>> say a tsaddik should /develop/ a revulsion, but that such revulsion is
>> natural in born in all people. The tsaddik retains these feelings and
>> does not allow them to be tainted.

[Email #2.]

On 7/20/2015 4:34 PM, H Lampel via Avodah wrote:
>> 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...

On 7/20/2015 10:10 PM, Lisa Liel wrote:
> So isn't that problematic? The idea that sex is something dirty and
> should be avoided except when necessary sounds like something out of
> Christianity. I understand that MN isn't a code of law, but what
> possible source can the Rambam have for this attitude?

It's an Aristotelian attitude which the Rambam held is the Torah
attitude. One source would be the account of the Amorah who felt duress
during the marital process (you can find this in the Kitzur Shulchan
Aruch). The Ramban strongly disagreed with the Rambam when it comes to
a marital setting. I was taught we hold like the Ramban.

Zvi Lampel

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