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Pedophilia is not against the Torah

Someone mentioned to me the other day that pedophilia was never really banned by the Torah, does this mean that it’s not morally reprehensible for a person to be into children? If there is no halacha against fondling your childs best friend, I guess it’s ok, right? This is just a continuation of my trying to understand those that go by every little thing the torah says, I myself have struggled for some time with the Torah dictating our morals, if morals are an ever changing thing.

At one point slavery was cool, now it’s not. At one point it was perfectly acceptable to think of women as property, now it’s not. I could go on and on about things the Torah says is cool, that no one in their right mind would support nowadays. So, of what is morally right and wrong changes, how do I, as an orthodox Jew – deal with this?

I guess, you could lump me in with the skeptic crowd, accept – I believe in doing something even if I don’t understand it. I don’t see or understand gravity, but I let gravity control many parts of my life, that’s kind of how I look at Judaism. I have no idea why I am rolling out of bed early in the morning to put some dead cow boxes on my head (sure some of the prayers are awesome and I’m down with that, but tefillin are very strange) there is only so much halacha moshe mi-sinai and taykoo that a yid can handle.

So if a pedophile just touches a kid or gives him/her some sour sticks to hop in their mini-van on the way home from cheder, there isn’t anything “wrong” with that…I wonder if this is the reason that frum organizations like Agudath Israel come out against any legislation that may hurt pedophiles?

{ 135 comments… add one }
  • Zvi Lampert July 27, 2010, 2:51 AM

    The definition of child and adult varies from culture to culture. In much of the ancient word (and some of today’s world) you were an adult as soon as you reached puberty. In that context, it was ok to marry a 12 year old girl.
    Hell, my grandmother got married at 16. These days my grandfather would have been arrested.

    • Julie July 27, 2010, 3:24 AM

      16 isn’t so bad! The age of consent in most states is around 16, and in some Southern states you can marry with your parents’ consent. Also in some places, pregnant teenagers are automatically legally emancipated so that they can make decisions on their own about their body and children without their own parents’ permission (like placing their newborn up for adoption).

    • red July 28, 2010, 1:38 AM

      i got married with my parents consent.
      all they have to do is sign a permission slip and your legally emancipated. no one gets arrested.

  • Jewish Dad July 27, 2010, 2:54 AM

    It’s true that pedophilia is not explicitly forbidden, but homosexuality is, so a dude in a van luring little kids in with sour sticks is expressly forbidden. As far as heterosexual pedophilia goes, it is forbidden in many different ways to have sex with an unmarried girl, and being that a girl can’t really, fully be married until bat mitzvah, that means she’s got to be at least be physically mature and 12. So I suppose, halachically you could marry a 12 year old, assuming it was legal in the country you were in (dina d’malchuta dina and all). But then, if it’s legal, she’s willing, and she’s physically mature, is it really pedophilia anymore?

    • Heshy Fried July 27, 2010, 3:11 AM

      Yes but who said pedophiles are all having sex with their subjects?

      • soso July 27, 2010, 4:50 AM

        Well if you define pedophilia as something without having sex, where does it leave pedophilia?

        Halacha has very strict rules about touching and gender separation.

        We came to the conclusion that the only case seemingly admissible by halacha was marriage at an earlier age than we would deem fit nowadays (but only if this is possible according to the law of the state where you do it). But it still requires her consent…

        And there are no cases in western countries of jewish marriage at such an early age (might happen in Yemen, where the goyim do it also)

      • G*3 July 27, 2010, 7:45 AM

        If there’s no sexual contact, then what’s the problem? There’s nothing immoral about being nice to kids, and if someone gets an extra sexual thrill from it, so what? As long as he/she doesn’t do anything that would harm the child.

        • Ex-orthodox Jew June 25, 2012, 12:17 AM

          Your comments show me once more that my yeridah from Torah observance was the best process I ever went through. You actually sound like an Islamic cleric twisting and going around the issue, anything goes in order to justify disgusting behaviour and at the same time save the fat ass of a religious dogma, the orthodox Halacha in this case.

    • JT July 27, 2010, 10:30 AM

      You inadvertently raise a good point, which is the problematic nature of the Torah’s ban on consensual adult relationships between non-related men and silence on this issue. We are challenged in our unfolding process of interpreting and reinterpreting the Torah and accompanying oral tradition to rectify both of these seeming flaws–to find space within our communities for ‘reim ahuvim’ of all kinds, just as earlier generations of poskim closed off the spaces seemingly left open for child molesters by the stunning silence of our earliest traditions.

      • Zvi Lampert July 27, 2010, 11:17 AM

        “the problematic nature of the Torah’s ban on consensual adult relationships between non-related men”
        Nothing problemnatic about it. The Torah takes a very clear position about male homosexuality.
        As far as the Torah’s aparent silence re pedos, you have to keep in mind that our notions of the definition of childhood and the rights of children are recent developments in human history.

        • JT July 27, 2010, 5:02 PM

          Thanks for the tautology. I didn’t mean to say that it was an ambiguous reading or anything of the nature–I, and many other Jews, find the halakha (and its subsequent broadening) to be problematic, in the same way I find mandatory genocide of Amalek to be problematic. I’m not saying it’s not halakha or not binding–just that it’s personally troublesome and hard to grapple with.

    • A. Nuran July 27, 2010, 12:10 PM

      So the only problem with raping little girls is that the rapist isn’t married to them.

      And if you rape a little boy he’d darned well better not complain because he will be put to death for same-gender intercourse.

      Thank you for playing.

      • John July 27, 2010, 12:40 PM

        If he was raped why would he be put to death?

        • A. Nuran July 27, 2010, 1:16 PM

          Sorry, going Karaite there for a moment. Torah only recognizes boy-girl rape, not boy-boy.

          • John July 27, 2010, 1:35 PM

            Wrong (as usual). A person is never ever ever punished for anything if it was against their will (ones rachmana patrei) Even the cardinal sins for which one gives up a life, the person isnt punished (by beis din at least) for failing to do so . If anybody is raped man woman, girl or boy, the victim is never punished. If a little boy is raped, the rapist would be put to death ( obviously assuming edim and hasraah (witnesses and he was warned)) and the little boy goes home.
            (incidently if there was no hasraah , although the rapist wouldnt get killed (by beis din) he would be forced to pay tzar (the pain he caused), nezek (any damage he may have caused), ripui (doctor bills) sheves, (any loss of income sustained while recuperating), and boshes (for the embarrassment.
            (there is a whole sugya as to whether someone commits an act that deserves death but wasnt warned has to pay, but I think we pasken this way although i may be wrong)

      • the other shim July 27, 2010, 1:41 PM

        Since when are rape victims punished??? Don’t mention the virgin having to marry her rapist thing. I’m talking about practical application that frum Jews actually follow in this day and age. All your talk about being able to rape and kill indescriminately in Judaism is crap!

        Jeez, it’s not like I don’t have my own questions believe me. So don’t condemn me as some right wing lunatic chareidi like you usually do with people who disagree with you. If you actually met me you’d know that’s the furthest thing from the truth.

        I’d take you more seriously if you didn’t distort and exaggerate so much.

        • sergeant J July 27, 2010, 2:55 PM

          If only there were practical application this day… do any batei din even work with such crimes at all these days?

        • Tikvah July 27, 2010, 3:47 PM

          Why shouldn’t the virgin needing to marry her rapist be mentioned? Is that no longer done? Did we decide that the ethics of that decision were outdated?

          • John July 27, 2010, 7:45 PM

            It shouldnt be mentioned becasue you made it up. He has to marry her if she wants (for example if she feels that now she’ll be considered “dammaged goods” at least she’ll have someone).

          • the other shim July 27, 2010, 7:49 PM

            No it is no longer done and the girl could have always said no even in ancient times. A marriage which is forced is not halachic.

            Could we all keep in mind the era in which the Torah was given? Human sacrifice and having s*x with the Temple Priest was mandatory. Torah brought civilization to mankind. And don’t take my word for it. Just read a little Paul Johnson.

        • Puzzled July 27, 2010, 7:55 PM

          The girl who is raped in a city.

          • John July 27, 2010, 10:33 PM

            wrong again, if she cries out (like any rape victim does) nothing happens

            • Tikvah July 27, 2010, 10:44 PM

              Oh, John…that’s how much you know. Women who have been raped don’t, in fact, always cry out. Rape is not always the stranger in the dark and a lot of women are far too scared to cry out. So what then my dear?

              • John July 27, 2010, 10:52 PM

                Then obviously she wouldnt get killed. Did you really need my help working that one out? cmon your smarter than that

                • Tikvah July 28, 2010, 10:30 AM

                  Your logic is severely flawed John.

                  • John July 28, 2010, 10:46 AM

                    I guess your not smarter than that. I’m not sure if its worth my time helping you work it out, I suspect youd rather stick to your preconceived notions about judaism anyway.
                    Of course if you need/want my help i’d be glad to help you out

                    • Tikvah July 28, 2010, 10:56 AM

                      Calling my intelligence into question is not a valid response.

                    • John July 28, 2010, 10:59 AM

                      Response to what? isnt that what you did?

            • Anonymous July 28, 2010, 8:04 AM

              It is wrong to assume that “any rape victim cries out”.

              There are many cases, especially with child abuse, were no obvious physical force is applied.

              Victims often are just paralysed and incapable of doing anything.

              And here comes the problem for the rape victim: who has the burden of proof?????

              • the other shim July 28, 2010, 12:23 PM

                Well according to “The Sacrifice of Tamar” by Naomi Ragen the girl doesn’t have to cry out. She is automatically believed by the Beis Din no matter what. Now I wouldn’t exactly call that a definitive halachic source I presume Ragen knew what she was talking about. The book is about a frum married woman who gets raped by a black guy back in the early ’70’s and has a child from it. The kid is white so she thinks it’s her husband’s but 24 years later her grandchild comes out black. Based on a true story!

  • Anonymous July 27, 2010, 2:56 AM

    It’s really not necessary to share every single thought that crosses your mind with the entire world!

    That said, all sexual acts outside marriage are prohibited by halacha (Jewish law).

    Please leave “the Talmud promotes pedophilia” articles for the thousands of Neo-Nazi and White-Power websites they already exist on.

    • Heshy Fried July 27, 2010, 3:11 AM

      Trust me, if I shared every thought, it would drive people nuts, my mind is constantly running in top gear (hence the reason I am so active in seeking solitude so I can tone it down) I never said the talmud promotes pedophilia – my point is one much larger than pedophilia – it is the concept of changing morals and dealing with that as orthodox Jews who want to stay moral, yet don’t now how to do that without going against the Torah.

  • Sandee July 27, 2010, 3:04 AM

    But doesn’t the whole idea of “kedoshim tihyu” mean that we also have to go beyond the letter of the law? In business, in sexual conduct, in everything. (Or that’s what I heard anyway.)

    • Julie July 27, 2010, 3:31 AM

      Apparently not, according to some people in the comments on the post about returning a non-Jews wallet!

      • Anonymous July 27, 2010, 12:39 PM

        dont forget lo sichanem

  • Julie July 27, 2010, 3:12 AM

    If I were part of a corrupt pack of pedos I’d probably be coming out against anti-pedo efforts, too. We should think about what these people are trying to hide when they use Torah to justify such things.

    • sergeant J July 27, 2010, 2:09 PM

      This is a thought that has disturbed me for many years.. I hear frum Jews all day long that can casually call all priests pedophiles, but seem to ignore that rabbis have been using similar systems for decades to cover up similar acts… I hope the system is not as corrupt, and if it is, I hope that enough Jews grow the beitzim to shut it down…

  • Anonymous July 27, 2010, 3:17 AM

    Perhaps, but the title of your article reads like one of those Aryan-Power blogs.

    We’ve already established that sexual acts outside marriage are against Halacha. So is your concern underage marriage when the parents felt (according to the customs and morals of the times) that the child was ready for marriage?

  • soso July 27, 2010, 4:04 AM

    Well, it is true that the torah did not forbid to MARRY very young girls, but it still required her consent, in some cases her parent’s consent and a regular marriage ceremony.

    • G*3 July 27, 2010, 7:49 AM

      Three year olds are not competant to give consent, and being legally married doesn’t make it better.

      That it was normal for the time probably helped lessen the trauma somewhat, but three year olds are just not ready to have sex, even if her father decides it’s ok.

  • Cat in the Hat July 27, 2010, 4:21 AM

    Good article on the subject:


    • the other shim July 28, 2010, 4:12 AM

      Thanks for the link. I sincerely hope those who would distort and lie about Judaism would take a good look at it.

  • tali July 27, 2010, 4:59 AM

    Seriously Hesh not cool.
    Homosexuality is assur, so are sexual relationships outside of marriage. You can’t marry a girl under 12, Ergo: paedophilia is assur.
    Lets not forget a life expectancy of 80 is a very recent thing. Most people died in their 40s or 30s, 3000-odd years ago. Getting married at 12 was not so weird.
    Also all things Hellenistic are considered bad at one thing the Greeks really liked was forming relationships with small boys….

    • Yochanan July 28, 2010, 12:25 AM

      Didn’t the Avot and Imahot live somewhere into their hundreds?

  • 613Yehosuhoua770 July 27, 2010, 5:59 AM

    It kind of is, although not mentioned in the chumash or talmus specifically, Rambam, Taz, Ravaid and all sources that we use who were part of the Shulchan aruch are highly agaisnt it as rambam called it
    “people who marry should be of similar age, to marry your grown daughter to a man much younger is considered_____ and marrying your young daughter (he meant adult as in adult by defintion of time, as in 12 or above) is like putting her in prostitution”

    • Zvi Lampert July 27, 2010, 10:31 AM

      Rashi says a 3 year old is lod enough for intercourse.

      • ghottistyx July 27, 2010, 9:36 PM

        Where does Rashi say this?

  • furrydoc July 27, 2010, 7:01 AM

    Victimizing people, with the exception of perhaps some collateral damage to the innocent citizens and property that happened to be within the realm of Amalek, has always been contrary to Torah. Every institution from slavery to taking an unwilling bride from war capture has explicit limits that prevents the dominant individual from inflicting undue harm on the subservient one.

    Community standards change over time and with exposure to outside cultures and influences. That is why Judaism has remained vibrant and also why Moshe Rabbeinu is unlikely to recognize it for what has become when the Moshiach restores him.

    There is a documentary on cable TV exploring the experience of the son of a BT who opts out of Haredi and seeks refuge in the home of his observant but modern grandfather in or near my hometown of Monsey. This fellow describes a form of institutionalized molestation of younger yeshiva students by older yeshiva students as part of the rite of passage for both. From his description it is expected and not entirely unwelcome. In contrast, Rabbi Lanner did time in the hoosegow for engaging in activity that was clearly unwelcome, while at least one bet din ruled in his favor when a victim challenged him.

  • Bloch in Vey July 27, 2010, 7:17 AM

    Wow, Heshy. Two out of your three last posts are an embarrassment to yiddishkeit. Good going.

    • G*3 July 27, 2010, 7:50 AM

      That says more about yiddishkeit than it does about Heshy.

      • Anonymous July 27, 2010, 11:33 AM

        That depends on what your priorities are.

        • sergeant J July 27, 2010, 2:12 PM

          True, if your priorities are explaining away theft and pedophilia as acceptable behavior, but keeping it “in house” so the criminals can frolic with your kids and your money (assuming your name is not “Jewish” enough), then I guess these might upset you alot, and you would want them taken down.
          If your priorities are living a good life, and allowing others to do the same, then they might upset you as well, but because they show issues that need resolution, not hiding under the rug.

          • Anonymous July 27, 2010, 2:21 PM

            great point. i didnt realize this blog was out to resolve issues, at first glance it just seems like a forum for those who hate frum jews to mock and ridicule, more often than not with false accusations (see A Nuran above for a great example)

            • sergeant J July 27, 2010, 2:24 PM

              I would say that the least that need to be done to the people that this forum refers to (pedos who are protected by Ravs, and anyone who tries to justify the behavior of pedos or the ones covering up the pedophilia) should be a lot more than just ridicule.

              • Anonymous July 27, 2010, 2:30 PM

                Agreed, so why bother with the ridicule?
                As if the only frum people mocked on this blog are pedos and those who try to justify their behavior

                • Heshy Fried July 27, 2010, 5:02 PM

                  I take pride in mocking everyone, be you frum, secular or skeptic, I don’t care what denomination you are – you are fair game. The only thing I stay away from is Holocaust humor…

                  • Anonymous July 27, 2010, 7:50 PM

                    I agree I find most of your stuff quite entertaining. It just irks me when people assign it a role anything more than that like exposing issues that nedd resolution (paraphrasing sergeant j). give me a break, its a blog, nothing more

                    • sergeant J July 27, 2010, 7:53 PM

                      aw, shucks! I guess this is your long winded way of saying you never really had a point in your original post re: priorities… I can’t say that I feel any less strongly about the need to stop pedophiles, no matter what rocks they hid under.

                    • Anonymous July 27, 2010, 10:35 PM

                      Im sorry to break it to you, but blogging doesnt stop pedophiles. Though i definitely wish it did

                  • menachem January 12, 2012, 1:47 PM

                    That is an outright lie. I have never seen you mock anyone besides Orthodox Jews, and you have posted cartoons making light of Hitler and the Holocaust. It seems that your anger is not directed simply against observant Jews but against basic Torah values in general. Anyway, please direct me to at least one video or article where you poked fun at secular Jews

  • pierre July 27, 2010, 9:48 AM

    The different manifestations of slavery, when restricted by Torah, were better than being without clothing, food or shelter OR household which was responsible to you. Without these things, you were less than a slave. There are other features of Torah that were better than the ancient world around them. R. Nahum Rabinowitch in his “way of Torah” gives other examples of mitzvot the purpose and application of which changed or completed their purpose over time and were


    Joshua Berman also shows the rudiments of egalitarianism (politically speaking, not gender issues – but it’s relevant) in Torah, unlike much of the ancient world. Their insights are of value whatever ones views of the origins of Tanach;


    I don’t think there’s a fair comparison to *restrictions* doraita about slavery and marriage, versus the *technical* lack of explicit forbidding of your undefined “pedophila”. Some of the actions under that category HAVE been and ARE condemned – not necessarily among charedim who mostly aren’t even talking about these things – but why privilege their poskim?

    • pierre July 27, 2010, 9:52 AM

      Being less than a slave meant anyone, literally, could predate on you without any repercussions of any kind. You would likely not be allowed in a city (outside of which you were prey to animals and organized bandits as well), if you were, you slept in the streets without anyone obligated to protect you whatsoever, you weren’t a “free-spirited vagabond” – you life was far more than meaningless.

    • the other shim July 27, 2010, 8:51 PM

      Even the chareidim don’t say it’s ok. Even if they aren’t handling it as well as they could.

  • Zvi Lampert July 27, 2010, 10:35 AM

    You have to look at the Torah in the context of the ancient world.
    Slavery was common everywhere, women were subservient to men, father’s were known to sell their young daughters tho their husbands, and there was no such thing as childhood.
    The Torah was probably the first system that put limits on these practices.

    • JT July 27, 2010, 2:17 PM


      • Zvi Lampert July 28, 2010, 1:07 AM

        What did Hammurabi have to say about the rights of slaves?

        • JT July 28, 2010, 2:14 AM

          1) If any one fail to meet a claim for debt, and he sell the maid servant who has borne him children, for money, the money which the merchant has paid shall be repaid to him by the owner of the slave and she shall be freed.
          2) 171. If, however, the father while still living did not say to the sons of the maid-servant: “My sons,” and then the father dies, then the sons of the maid-servant shall not share with the sons of the wife, but the freedom of the maid and her sons shall be granted. The sons of the wife shall have no right to enslave the sons of the maid;
          3) 175. If a State slave or the slave of a freed man marry the daughter of a free man, and children are born, the master of the slave shall have no right to enslave the children of the free.
          4) 199. If he put out the eye of a man’s slave, or break the bone of a man’s slave, he shall pay one-half of its value.

          You asked.

  • MonseySixPack July 27, 2010, 10:47 AM

    CHAZA”L touch on the subject With the halacha ‘tWo bachurim should not sleep in one bed’.

  • kissmeimshomer July 27, 2010, 10:52 AM

    Ha! Heshy, and you said I’M the one with the sick mind…at least MY post makes you smile…

    • Anonymous July 27, 2010, 7:52 PM

      Youve got to keep your hateful stereotypes seperate. Why would a rabbi who wishes his wife looked better, lust after his student? Never mind as if bigoted posts/comments ever make sense

  • Frumsatire Fan July 27, 2010, 10:56 AM

    If I’ve got it right, what Heshy is thinking about isn’t so much the particular case, but the general question of the influence of changing social conditions on morality. I think it’s a difficult and fascinating question. And, for people who think “Torah given to Moshe at Sinai = things have always been the same, nothing has changed, nothing should ever change” (i.e. Ortho of the more reactionary type) this type of question is really annoying.

    • Heshy Fried July 27, 2010, 5:03 PM

      Thank you – it took 46 comments for someone to realize this.

      • Anonymous July 27, 2010, 5:14 PM

        So don’t call yourself Orthodox if you don’t believe in its tenets. If you would like to continue calling yourself Orthodox (whether for reasons of social attachement, guilt feelings, or “I feel that this is vaguely right”), then EXPLORE the tradition that’s at your fingertips. One of the questions you will be asked in Heaven is “Did you set aside time for learning Torah?” G-d holds you responsible for using your mind. He revealed His Torah. Get out there and get it!

        • Puzzled July 27, 2010, 7:59 PM

          Now there’s an ambiguous phrase if ever there were one.

      • JT July 28, 2010, 2:18 AM

        Heshy–along a similar vein, a question I’ve been grappling with: If I believe that the process by which Jews posken halakha was divinely ordained (which I do), must I believe that all p’sak resulting from such a process is therefore the irrefutable will of God?

  • Tikvah July 27, 2010, 12:31 PM

    Wow. The more I read (not just on this site) about the tenets of Orthodox Judaism and the adherence to ancient and anachronistic rules and building up of gezirot around those rules the happier I am that I grew up outside of OJ.
    Ethics, regardless of what the rabbonim said, should not matter whether one is Jewish or not. We treat our neighbor, Jew or non-Jew, as we would wish to be treated. Ethics dictates that we return a wallet not based on what our poskim say and ethics dictates that we treat children with respect not based on Talmudic law but because raping a child is wrong and will damage that child for life. We don’t take welfare unless we need to because we wish to contribute to this country which has allowed our community to thrive and we don’t throw litter in the street because we wish to make our world a cleaner and more beautiful place to live.

    Frankly, I think the sages would be mortified at what some in our community have become.

    • Anonymous July 27, 2010, 12:42 PM

      I couldnt agree more. most Jews arent recognizable as Jews, throwing out the entire torah except for the parts that you like.
      They would be mortified indeed

      • Frumsatire Fan July 27, 2010, 1:28 PM

        Well, let’s step back and have a look at the completely unflattering caricatures we’re painting here:

        A misguidedly tries to be a good person according to what he thinks is common sense, isn’t very sure about religion, and throws out the parts of the Torah that he doesn’t like.

        B takes the interpretations of medieval sages as if they were the direct word of G-d, thinks he’s got all the answers, and obeys blindly even when it goes against common sense.

        Like most people, I’m not like either A or B, but if these were the only two options I’d prefer to be like A, any time.

        • Anonymous July 27, 2010, 1:39 PM

          Why are those the only options
          You are forgetting C. who believe in god and his torah and follows its teachings even when he doesnt understand them. the sages tikvah reffered to obviously fall into that category as do authentic practicing Jews

    • furrydoc July 27, 2010, 12:53 PM

      The laws of Written Torah are from HaShem so they are accepted whether or not the reasoning that brought them about seems apparent. Oral Law does not have that arbitrariness. There are discussions of not only what constitutes proper conduct but why. There are minority views that not part of the final Law but preserved just the same so that future generations can appreciate the reasoning. We have laws mandating return of lost property because there is a need to apply the Torah principles of justice in the manner it appears. The laws of Tzedakah protect those who are poor and the amount of tzedakah that can be donated is also regulated so that people do not become an unnecessary public burden. There are requirements that we respect the laws of the lands in which we reside. This would presumably include not engaging in acts of pedophilia, even if Torah is not entirely explicit.

      My favorite book that I read this year is Jeff Gurock’s Orthodox Jews in America. He devotes about half a chapter to misconduct permitted by the frum. This would be expected, as there would be no need for “don’t do this or don’t do that” if there were no possibility that people would engage in certain misconduct. The more compellling part of Prof Gurock’s chapter involves the rationalization of misconduct by others in the name of Torah.

    • Anonymous July 27, 2010, 12:53 PM

      Ethics used to say that watching people being eaten by lions was an acceptable and enjoyable pastime. That’s why we need the absolute moral framework that the Torah provides.

      • Tikvah July 27, 2010, 3:44 PM

        Ethics is also an evolving and living philosophy. We can discover what is unethical as our society evolves – unlike “living Judaism” that is in many ways stuck in 70 CE and in most other ways stuck in 16th century Poland. Hence, “we” do not think that slavery is ethical, nor cruel and unusual punishment nor a host of other horrors we left (or hope to leave) behind us as a warning to our children.

      • Anonymous July 27, 2010, 5:14 PM


      • Puzzled July 27, 2010, 8:00 PM

        Yes, it’s important to be ready, at all times, to kill your son on command.

    • Tikvah July 27, 2010, 3:00 PM

      What is hateful to you, do not do to others. That is the whole of Torah, the rest is commentary.

      – R.Hillel

  • YY July 27, 2010, 12:54 PM

    The Torah forbids rape, even for married people (Western countries didn’t enact such laws until the 20th century). Clearly, molesting a child is akin to rape. So molestation is against halacha.

    • sergeant J July 27, 2010, 2:15 PM

      So why are their Ravs out there helping the pedos?

      • sergeant J July 27, 2010, 2:21 PM


  • MS July 27, 2010, 1:48 PM

    I must put in a word here. I don’t understand how people can call themselves believing Jews if they don’t believe that the standard of morality comes from G-d. Try to come up with a reasonable arguement for morality being absolute that doesn’t end with, “Uh- I just feel it should be.” It’s obvious we all have our differing views of morality, thus unless you believe in a higher power who created the world with His will for morality, then you have no case for absolute morality.

    Judaism is based on G-d descending onto Mt. Sinai and announcing His Existence in front of 3 million people. It was there that He showed the world what He expected of them, and what morality was.

    Saying that Torah and morality are two different things shows a tremendous lack of understanding of what G-d’s revelation is. I suggest you examine the case for YOUR OWN RELIGION. It seems that your reasons for calling yourself an Orthodox Jew are very vague and not based on a true belief in G-d and His Torah. Don’t restrain yourself from examining the major questions in life, and don’t criticize the Torah with your own lack of understanding of what it really is. (G-d’s Truth revealed to the world)

    • Anonymous July 27, 2010, 1:50 PM

      very well said

      • the other shim July 27, 2010, 2:11 PM

        My advice to Heshy is to read The Penitent by Isaac Bashevis Singer. In it the pratagonist Joseph Shapiro states the obvious: there is no morality without religion. Without an absolute Authority, morality is simply a matter of taste and asthetics.

    • JT July 27, 2010, 2:24 PM

      And Avram Avinu was an amoral so-and-so? Or to choose as an example someone without neviah, Yocheved? No morality there, right?

      When Moshe stumbled across that taskmaster beating the slave and struck back, he wasn’t acting according to divine fiat–he used his God-given seichel (a supremely important tool for poskening morality day-to-day) and did the right thing. Simple as that.

      I believe fervently in the importance of the revelation at Sinai–I’m just not as convinced that the rabbinic process as it continues unto this day is the best or only means of determining God’s will. Your statement seems to imply that one must believe in da’as torah in order to be a true yid.

      • DK July 27, 2010, 2:33 PM

        Im surprised that you condone such immoral behavior, killing a taskmaster for hitting someone. Sounds like immoral, overreacting, vigilante justice to me. What are you some kind of fundamentalist anachronistic barbarian?

        • JT July 27, 2010, 3:33 PM

          Are you trying to make a point, or do you just really enjoy the sound of a keyboard click-clacking away.

          • DK July 27, 2010, 3:42 PM

            No point, just pushing your buttons, its fun. Laughing at you is lots of fun too. As is the clickety sound my keyboard makes. clickety-clack kljdldfnjdslfndlfjl fkfekfkfkfkfffmff

          • DK July 27, 2010, 3:44 PM

            No point. i just enjoy laughing at you your comments are so dumb. and of course the clickety clack sound is enjoyable. clickety clack
            clickety clickety clack
            I love it

    • G*3 July 27, 2010, 5:32 PM

      > unless you believe in a higher power who created the world with His will for morality, then you have no case for absolute morality

      That the absence of a deity would mean that there is no objective morality does not mean that there must be a deity. There could just as well be no deity and no objective morality.

      You seem to feel that there MUST BE, in your words, an “absolute morality.” Why?

      • MF July 27, 2010, 5:36 PM

        I personally believe in G-d and His morality.

        That aside, there is no need to assume there is an absolute morality.

    • soso July 28, 2010, 7:58 AM

      Morality is not absolute, as this example shows very clearly.

      Morality is specific to a culture, and it evolves over time.

      You have shown very strigently how practices that were not considered amoral in the torah or by later sages are considered immoral by contemporary orthodox jews.

      (death penalty for xxx offenses, lynching for amalek, slavery, breeding slaves (in this context, sexual relationships without consent of the woman seems to be accepted), etc)

      • Mindy August 2, 2010, 12:10 AM

        I see what you’re saying. From my understanding, Judaism has the flexibility to go along with the times to some extent. Yet it goes according to the ABSOLUTE MORAL STANDARDS given by G-d. I don’t know more than this so this is all I can say.

        What Orthodox Jews today consider immoral is not so relevant- why should a generally uneducated mass decide morality?

  • Esther July 27, 2010, 1:50 PM

    This is a little off the main point, but gravity and Judaism are not comparable. You don’t “let” gravity control anything… you are simply not able to fight it continuously… Judaism, on the other hand, is conceptual and you choose to put on tefillin and daven and you choose to believe and you choose to observe… well, you get the point.

    • Stan July 27, 2010, 1:54 PM

      Thats just it, under Orthodoxy (read: true), Judaism is not a choice. We believe it to be true and binding and it controls us whether we like it or not, much like gravity. We’ve had this conversation before.
      Great comparison Heshy

      • Puzzled July 27, 2010, 8:02 PM

        That’s odd, my car seems to work just fine.

        • Stan July 27, 2010, 10:41 PM

          dont be so puzzled, reread heshys post you can work this one out.

          • Esther July 28, 2010, 9:19 AM

            In your particular case, I do believe Judaism is like gravity…

            • Stan July 28, 2010, 9:38 AM

              and Heshy’s case as well. Oh and your kids as soon as aish gets a hold of them 🙂

              • Esther July 29, 2010, 9:59 AM

                Doubtful. From what I’ve read here, Heshy is capable of questioning, reasoning and choosing…

                Now, as far as my kid (one for now), I will be certain to expose him to Judaism, but will do so in a careful and controlled fashion making sure that he fully understands the spirit of it while filtering out the “noise” — conflicting opinions, divided community, questionable interpretations, etc.

                • Stan July 29, 2010, 11:01 AM

                  I guess you havent read it all I quote from the last paragraph: “I believe in doing something even if I don’t understand it. I don’t see or understand gravity, but I let gravity control many parts of my life, that’s kind of how I look at Judaism. I have no idea why I am rolling out of bed early in the morning to put some dead cow boxes on my head”
                  Isnt that the quote that prompted your comment in the first place? im so confused

                  • Esther July 29, 2010, 11:35 AM

                    😉 Yes, you are. You’re correct, this is the quote that prompted my comment. Then you came along and took it in your favorite direction. So, here is my point spelled out: While Heshy may say that he has no idea why he does certain things like putting on tefillin, I am fairly certain, based on what I’ve read here, that he has a very clear idea as to why he defines himself as an Orthodox Jew. And yet, post after post, he questions parts in Judaism which are indeed questionable (defying gravity in a figurative sense).

                    • Stan July 29, 2010, 11:57 AM

                      He still observes them.
                      Dont kid yourself, We all have questions, and often arent happy with the answers. Yet (back to Heshy’s point) orthodox Jews believe in following the torah anyway much like gravity controls our lives

        • Anonymous July 28, 2010, 10:47 AM

          A gravity defying car? sounds fancy

  • the other shim July 27, 2010, 1:54 PM

    My opinion on the whole pedophiles in OJ is as follows. Is there a single sane Orthodox rabbi on EARTH that says that molesting a little girl or boy is within halacha??? Forget the gemaras about marrying off three year olds! They aren’t applicable today and no one actually does that. The reason why the Orthodox world wants to keep molestation hush hush isn’t because halacha says it’s ok, it’s because it makes the Orthodox look bad. Unfortunately for lots of the frum appearances are everything and wearing a black hat is considered as important as keeping Shabbos. Which is a whole other discussion but if anyone so much as laid a finger on either of my kids you can bet they’d live to regret it. And by regret it I mean the molestor would have PTSD when I’d be through with them.

    • Michal July 27, 2010, 2:00 PM

      There isnt even an insane Orthodox Rabbi on earth who that mollesting a little girl or boy is within halacha. however please dont disturb A. nuran and Julie with facts that get in the way of their hatred, thats just rude

  • kissmeimshomer July 27, 2010, 2:57 PM

    Ha! Heshy, and you said I’M the one with the sick mind…at least MY post makes you smile…LOL

  • MC July 27, 2010, 3:06 PM

    I’m going to post a couple of references on this, as this topic came up elsewhere on another blog. This is in no way a complete survey of the literature on this subject, as I lack the time/skills to present one. In short, I think the idea that Judaism is somehow cool with pedophilia, or even indifferent to it, is BS:

    Kiddushin 41a (Babylonian Talmud)
    ???? ???? ?? ??? ????? ????: ????? ???? ??? ????? ???? ?? ????? ??? ??? ???? ?? ????? ??? ?? ??????? ??? ????? ???? ???? ????? ?? ??? ????? ???? ?? ????? ????? ?????? ??? ????:

    My translation:
    Mishnah: “A man can marry his daughter when she is an adolescent.” The Gemara qualifies: When she is an adolescent–yes, when she is a minor (under 12)–no. This is supported by the statement of Rabbi Jehuda (and some say Rabbi Eleazer): It is FORBIDDEN for a man to marry off his daughter while she is a minor, until she matures (reaches Bas Mitvah) and is able to say–I wish to marry this man.

    This Gemara clearly provides a rabbinic source for a strong disapproval of pedophilia. Actually, it uses language that appears to make it unequivocally forbidden. Tosfos, however, notes on this passage that exceptions were made in their day to this rule. They cite worsening conditions of the galus (Jewish exile), where there were fears in their community that a woman might remain single her entire life, if opportunities to marry were not seriously considered when they presented themselves, even when the girl was a minor (i.e. pre-teen). They mention that this was not by any means considered an ideal, and object to this practice in general due to concerns that a girl, once reaching the age of legal age of majority, would bemoan being partnered off with a man she might otherwise not have chosen. Their heter (permission) I guess was due to perceived emergency circumstances.

    Another, more aggadic source, is found in Niddah 13b:
    ??? ????? ???????? ???????? ?????? ?? ?????

    “Converts and those who have intercourse (literally “sport”) with minors block the arrival of the messiah.”

    (I’m a convert, and am not offended by the above, but for the purposes of the discussion I don’t want to go off topic and explain)

    It seems that the context here is referring to a married relationship, not promiscuous sexual activity, which would be considered either rape, or be prohibited under Jewish law, as is promiscuous, extramarital, sex in general. I have not done an extensive survey of the commentators on this statement in Nidda, but Rashi explains the objection as based on the inability to produce children from such a union, which is not the primary reason why a modern person might object to such behavior.

    So it seems that pedophilia would be prohibited on a number of grounds:

    (1) Homosexual behavior is prohibited, regardless of the ages of the individuals, so homosexual pedophilic activity would never be permitted.
    (2) Coercive sexual activity with any individual, would be prohibited as rape/assault.
    (3) The Rabbis of the Talmud actually use the term “forbidden” when discussing the marriage of a female minor to an adult, although there appears to be a history of legal qualifications to this.
    (4) The aggadic source in Niddah (cited above) strongly disapproves of marrying minors on, for lack of a better word, “mystical” grounds, although the reason does not appear to be rooted in concerns for psychological trauma.
    (5) There don’t appear to have been any objections to teenagers marrying in Talmudic times. The same tractate, Kiddushin, has a Rabbi stating that he was able to achieve an unusually great degree of character refinement (more than his colleagues) as a result of getting married off at the comparatively early age of 16. I think that few ancient societies objected to marrying off adolescents.
    (6) Jews, generally speaking, have to follow the law of the land in which they live. If marriage below a certain age is prohibited, we follow that law.

    I have not yet come across an early rabbinic source that focuses on potential psychological trauma of marrying minors. The psychological concerns appear to be limited to psychological anguish of the (later adult) child wishing she had had more choice in selecting her husband. Again, I’ve researched this only superficially. Assault, including sexual, was understood to involve psychological and physical trauma however.

    In modern times, a scientific paper was put out by some psychologists that claimed that child sexual abuse (CSA) did not always result in serious psychological trauma, and suggested (among other things) that the violent/coercive nature of the encounter may be an important distinguishing factor. This study, as you might expect, resulted in a firestorm of controversy, involving radio personalities, and even Congress. I’m not offering it as a definitive statement of anything, as it’s not the only paper in the literature on this subject, but it’s relevant to the topic:


    • sergeant J July 27, 2010, 5:02 PM

      JUDAISM is not cool with it, but there are those out there, some Ravs, and some rabbis among them, that somehow sleep at night knowing there are pedos teaching at the schools, and molesting kids. I want to know what makes these folks, who claim to be of the highest levels of practicing Judaism, ok with that.

    • Anonymous July 27, 2010, 5:15 PM

      Thank you.

    • Yochanan July 28, 2010, 1:02 AM

      You know, mystical and psychological reasons might not be so different from each other.

      Psichi means soul in Greek and in Hebrew a mentally ill person is called a Chole Nefesh or Chole Ruwach.

    • guyinla July 28, 2010, 6:13 AM

      slight correction in Kiddushin: “ve’tomar” means “and she says” it doesn’t say “and she is able to say”

  • Debbie Far Rockaway July 27, 2010, 3:38 PM

    First, to JT: Moshe didn’t use his seichel, he used nevuah. When he looked right and left he was using nevuah to bring down Divine judgment on the taskmaster.

    Regarding morality and the Torah (both written and oral law): the “moral” laws were based upon a combination of an in-depth knowledge of human nature and how people were living at the time the Torah was given (i.e., if no one actually ripped a limb off a living animal and ate it, there would have been no need to put a law against it in the Torah). Many hold that animal sacrifices were legislated as a means of weaning people off the human sacrifices so common in Torah Times (remember, Avraham Aveinu was ready to bring his son as a korban and only found strange the idea that killing his son would render Hashem’s promises to him null and void, not that there should be human sacrifice in general). The Ketubah and the halacha of not divorcing a woman against her will were instituted in a time when men would bring home a woman, keep her as his wife until he tired of her, and then kick her out with nothing. (Unfortunately, some men like to twist other halachot, such as the heter meah rabbonim, to achieve the above.)

    There is a reason why the Oral Law wasn’t written down. If it were, then there would not be any room for adapting the modern world to the Torah (of course, we are not supposed adapt the Torah to the modern world, as that leads to things like Reform Judaism). Many things we take for granted nowadays were actually debated when they were new issues or inventions (such as the use of electricity on Shabbos–my source, Heshy’s Dad). But the Jews have short memories and most are not aware that there ever was a debate or that there ever were those frum Jews who used electricity on Shabbos.

    Oh, and there is an “inyan” of not being seen as less modest or less moral than the goyim. For example, although the minimum halacha for dress length is that the skirt should cover the knees both while standing and sitting, but ankle length is not required, in a time and place when the goyim found exposing one’s ankles to be unseemly, a Jewish woman would not be allowed to walk around in a mid-calf-length skirt. So this can be applied to other moral issues such as sex with pre-teens (however consensual) and returning lost wallets even if the owner is not Jewish.

    When it comes to Halacha and “ethics,” when the thing that seems more “ethical” is not required by the Torah, if it is not forbidden, then as a “light unto the nations” we are expected to go beyond the minimum requirements. I know it is easier to be “hiddur mitzvah” by spending more money on one’s Esrog or widening the brim on one’s hat, and that’s okay if that’s what stokes your spiritual fire, but to be a light unto the nations is about conduct, not about how blemish-free one’s esrog is or how machmir one is about Pesach.

    • JT July 27, 2010, 5:10 PM

      Whose perush is that? It’s an interesting one. Rashi says lefi peshuto k’mashma’o, so that’s what I went with.

  • MF July 27, 2010, 3:50 PM

    Tikvah- thanks for joining the rest of the Jewish heretics.
    Why even care about Judaism if you don’t think it’s true??
    AND- if you do for some reason feel it is, why don’t you do some research to see what it really says, as opposed to stating your human Western culture influenced views on G-D’S WORD???

  • Rabbi Mark Dratch July 28, 2010, 9:57 AM

    How Does Jewish Law Define Sexual Abuse?
    Rabbi Mark Dratch
    There are things that should go without saying that nevertheless need to be said, and said loudly! There are recent and widespread reports that a certain prominent Jewish religious authority dismissed allegations of sexual abuse against a rabbi and teacher because according to Jewish law there was no abuse. The report claims that this prominent posek ruled that since there was no genital penetration by the alleged perpetrator there was no abuse.
    I do not know if this report is factual. I do know that the ruling is NOT consistent with Jewish law. One does not need a Code of Law to forbid such acts; they are inherently repulsive and repugnant (Rambam, Shemoneh Perakim, ch. 6). But one does not have to search far and wide in Jewish legal literature itself in order to find the forbidden nature of these activities that seem to have been dismissed so cavalierly. Failure to speak out against the misrepresentation of Jewish law would be a violation of the biblical injunction to “Keep far from a false matter (Ex. 23:7)” (Shevu’ot 30b-31a) and would render one guilty of being megaleh panim ba-Torah she-lo ke-Halakhah—rendering an interpretation of the Torah not according to Halakhah (Avot 3:11, Sanhedrin 99a).
    1. Although penetration may be required to render an intimate act occurring between a man and woman to be adultery, with all of its pursuant consequences (Rambam, Issurei Bi’ah 1:10; Shulhan Arukh, Even ha-Ezer 20:1), or to render an intimate act occurring between two men to be considered an act of homosexuality, with all of its pursuant consequences (Rambam, Issurei Bi’ah 1:14), nevertheless sexualized contact of any kind between ineligible partners (and that certainly includes a teacher and his students!), including kissing and fondling, is forbidden and is subject to punishment according to Jewish law (Shulhan Arukh, Even ha-Ezer 20:1), either biblically or rabbinically (See Bet Shmuel and Helkat Mehokek).
    2. Jewish law forbids intentional self arousal and illicit thoughts. It even forbids a number of benign activities that may bring about sexual stimulation. (Shulhan Arukh, Even ha-Ezer 23:3,4,6,7) Certainly Halakhah forbids explicit activities that are inherently sexualized and whose very intent is to offer the perpetrator sexual arousal and pleasure!
    3. The Talmud, Sanhedrin 75a, records and Rambam, Hil. Yesodei ha-Torah 5:9, codifies the following story that supports the contention that any sexualized behavior or interaction between those that fall into the category of arayot (forbidden sexual partners) is prohibited: “Rav Yehudah said in Rav’s name: A man once conceived a passion for a certain woman and his heart was consumed
    by his burning desire (even to the point of his life being endangered.) When the doctors were consulted, they said, “His only cure is that she shall submit (to him sexually).” Thereupon the Sages said: “Let him die rather than that she should yield.” Then [the doctors said]; “let her stand nude before him.” [The Sages answered,] “Sooner let him die.” Said the doctors, “Let her (at least) converse with him from behind a fence.” The Sages replied, “Let him die rather than she should converse with him from behind a fence.”
    4. Jewish law prohibits emotional assault and abuse. Victims of abusers—even those that do not penetrate them—live with the memories of the abuse for a lifetime and often suffer PTSD and suffer from psychological and emotional distress. The verse, “You shall not wrong one another; but you shall fear your God; for I am the Lord your God” (Lev. 25:17) prohibits emotional distress (Baba Metzi’a 58a). This is referred to as ona’at devarim (verbal wronging) and includes any speech or activity which maliciously attacks another’s sense of self (Rashi to Lev. 25:17) or causes emotional or psychological pain. (Rashi, Baba Metzi’a 59b, s.v. hutz; Rambam, Sefer ha-Mitzvot, no. 251).
    5. Abusers also violate “And you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev. 19:18) and “What is hateful to you, do not to your neighbor.” (Shabbat 31a ).
    6. Such behavior is clearly a hillul Hashem, a desecration of God’s Name. No civilized society would accept such treatment of their children! Suggesting that the Torah permits such abuse causes people to say: “Woe unto him who studied the Torah; woe unto his father who taught him Torah; woe unto his teacher who taught him Torah! This man studied the Torah: Look, how corrupt are his deeds, how ugly his ways; of him Scripture says: ‘In that men said of them, “These are the people of the Lord, and are gone forth out of His land”.’” (Yoma 86a) Can it be that the very children that the Jewish people brought as our guarantors at the time of the receiving of the Torah (Shir Ha-Shirim Rabba 1:3) should be sacrificed, abandoned and abused by that very Torah?
    7. These acts are a clear violation of the Torah’s warning to refrain from sexual impropriety and other forms of immorality that define decadent and depraved societies: “After the doings of the land of Egypt, where you dwelt, shall you not do; and after the doings of the land of Canaan, where I bring you, shall you not do; nor shall you walk in their ordinances. You shall do My judgments, and keep my ordinances, to walk with them; I am the Lord your God.” (Lev. 18:3-4)

    • Mahla August 1, 2010, 11:57 PM

      Rabbi, thank you for writing about this at length with sources.

  • dman July 28, 2010, 10:28 AM

    Pedophilla IS against the Torah!

    Read this article:

    How Does Jewish Law Define Sexual Abuse?
    Rabbi Mark Dratch

  • dman July 28, 2010, 10:59 AM

    Pedophilia IS against the Torah!

    Read this analysis:

  • Stan July 28, 2010, 7:28 PM

    Are you aware that there is no verse in the torah that says it is forbidden to damage somebody or his property? you will find rules for what you repay. you can check i assure you there is no pasuk that explicitly forbids it (dont confuse damaging with stealing, stealing IS explicitly forbidden)
    Does that mean it is muttar to go ahead and burn your neighbors field?

  • sk August 1, 2010, 1:15 AM

    A sign of the times:

    “Summer camp administrator wanted. Must be professional, friendly, experienced, and safe around children. No prior convictions, please.”

  • yeshiva dude August 1, 2010, 10:28 PM

    Rabbi Dratch,

    I just wanted to mention that I find what you wrote in 2. “It even forbids a number of benign activities that may bring about sexual stimulation.” to be quite ironic. After all, wouldn’t you agree that internet is a “benign activity” that can easily lead to sexual stimulation in many different ways (and please don’t give me the lame argument that I’m sounding chareidi, it’s true and you know it)!? Yet you (unless someone wrote this in your name) neverthelless placed that statement in your argument! What a shanda!

    • Rabbi Mark Dratch August 2, 2010, 6:11 AM

      Dear Yeshiva Dude,

      I agree. People with little self control should not engage in activities that others, with maturity, discretion, and responsibility, may. The world is full of distractions and temptations, so while we should avoid nisyonos (intentionallylooking for tests and challenges), we cannot lock ourselves away from the many permissible interactions with it. But I agree, someone with your weaknesses and yetzer hara should spend much less time on the internet and much more time in the Beis Medrash.

  • yehsiva dude August 1, 2010, 10:30 PM

    Rabbi Dratch,
    So far I don’t see my comment to you, but if it does show up I just want to be dan lechaf zchus you that perhaps you use a filter for your internet?

  • yeshiva dude August 3, 2010, 12:52 PM


    I would like to be as respectable as possible but I have a number of issues with what you just wrote.

    When it comes to actions that are sexual in nature, NO ONE, not even you can tell me that they don’t have a strong desire or complete control for that matter, for anything that has to do with it (internet). Unless of course you consider yourself asexual…. and that you are in essence a plant! So when it comes to “maturity, discretion, and responsibility” those things do not apply when it comes to your yetzer hara for sex. Now tell me, do you honestly believe that if I locked you alone in a room with access to the hottest woman on earth, and no one will no about it, that you can trust yourself to use your “maturity, discretion, and responsibility” normally!? If you answer yes to that question, then indeed you are a plant!!!!

    You stated above “someone with your weaknesses and yetzer hara”, are you implying that YOU don’t have these weaknesses and that you’re some kind of guardian angel!? If so, with all due respect, how do you have the desire to make children!? Someone who is lacking these natural feelings would probably find it quite difficult to cohabit with their spouse, don’t you agree?

    In response to your statement “we cannot lock ourselves away from the many permissible interactions with it.” – I agree that there may be many necessary interactions with it, but that does not exempt us from using all necessary precautions when using it. Solutions may be – to install a good filter, only use it in public areas, allow a family member to view all your history, e.t.c.

    I am anxiously awaiting your response Rabbi Dratch, as I cannot possibly imagine a discenting view on your part.

  • Jarred Scott February 9, 2017, 4:58 PM

    This is not so for all the basis and structure of law show it as an offense and impure

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