Monday, October 4, 2010
For the love of God (and country)
New halachic study says seducing enemy agents for the sake of national security is 'going above and beyond' and an 'utmost mitzvah'
A new halachic study ruled that seducing an enemy agent for the sake of national security is an important mitzvah, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Monday.
The ruling, made by Rabbi Ari Shvat, was included in the latest issue of "Tehumin," an annual collection of articles about Jewish law and modernity, which is published by the Zomet Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to seamlessly merging Halachic Judaism with modern Israeli life.
Rabbi Shvat explores the issue of women used to seduce enemy agents in order to cajole information out of them or see them captured.
The use of "Valentine operatives" or "honey traps", as they are called in intelligence circles, was applied in the case of atom spy Mordechai Vanunu, and according to foreign media reports, in the recent assassination of senior Hamas operative Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai, last January.
Shvat cites in his study the biblical cases of Queen Esther, who slept with Persian King Ahasuerus to save her community, and Yael wife of Heber the Kenite, who seduces and killed the Canaanite general Sisera. He notes that the subject of "sleeping with the enemy" evokes heated arguments in the Talmud, as well.
The latter, Shvat argues, ruled that sexual intercourse with a gentile for the sake of a national cause is not only sanctioned, but is a highly important mitzvah.
"Naturally, an unmarried operative should be preferred in 'honey trap' cases, but if there is no other choice but to use a married women… her husband should divorce her and marry her again after the fact," the rabbi writes.
Unfortunately, Shvat also rules that if a husband was unable to divorce his wife prior to her mission, he would have to do it afterwards, since according to the Halacha she would have committed adultery – even if it was for the sake of a national cause.
Women interested in becoming "Valentine operatives," must realize they will not be able to marry a Cohen Jewish priest), the rabbi noted, adding that the matter would probably not deter such women, since "these missions may naturally be tasked to women who are already promiscuous."
Rabbi Shvat concludes his article by saying that not only should such actions be sanctioned, "Our Sages of Blessed Memory elevate such acts of dedication to the top of the Halacha's mitzvahs pyramid."
Rabbi Yisrael Rosen, head of the Zomet Institute and editor in chief of "Tehumin," called the study "daring and important."
"Although it is highly unlikely that Mossad agents will seek rabbinical advice, this essay is very important and courageous. The author is versed in religious discourse and even conservative rabbis would surely agree with his thesis."