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  • Torah and Jewish Thought
  • Principles of Mitzva Observance

Understanding Eshet Yfat Toar- taking enemy women


Rabbi Ari Shvat

Tammuz 14, 5780
How can we morally understand the law of aishes yefas toar, which allows forcibly taking the women of the enemy home and marrying them against their will? And do the same laws apply to the soldier's of the IDF?
When humanity was primitive, unfortunately raping the enemy's women was part of war, and I'm sorry to say that even in our century, Soviet soldiers raped hundreds of thousands of German women, and 3.7% of German children born in those years were results of those atrocities. Even more recently, to a certain extent it was done by American soldiers in Vietnam, and it was even systematic in the more recent Serbian and Pakistanian wars. In order to prevent and minimize this disgusting phenomenon, the Torah, already 3,000 years ahead if its time, prevented even primitive Jews just freed from slavery, from being like 99.9% of mankind at the time. Remember, we can't be anachronistic and judge the primitive world as if they live today. The eternal Torah had to be relevant 3,000 years ago, as well as 3,000 years from now, and accordingly, had to relate to this issue, by making it very impractical, obligating the soldier to take the woman home with him and fulfilling several difficult restrictions. Today, obviously it's against the law in just about every army, and how much more so, in the super-moral Israeli army, where even taking the smallest of spoils is grounds for court-martial!
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