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From where do we know that a jewish man cannot have sexuel intercourse with a non-jewish woman? What say the Kabbala about this ? Is it related to dark forces, "qelipoth"?

  • I'm surprised that this question is voted more highly... is the answer so obvious to everyone, or does the request for Kabbala weaken the actual question at hand? – הנער הזה Dec 31 '14 at 21:49
  • Would the fact that a non-Jewish woman is, by definition, a niddah (as she is unable to purify herself of niddah status while not yet being Jewish) not automatically prohibit relations with her? @Matt, did you mean "isn't voted more highly [...]"? – Lee May 11 '15 at 16:03
  • @Lee yes. And a non-Jewish woman does is probably not a niddah, at least not deoraisa – הנער הזה Jun 4 '15 at 21:58
  • I'm surprised there is nothing about the yafar toar captive. – far22 Sep 6 '15 at 8:20
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+150

Not only is it forbidden, but it's a prohibition of such great stringency that, according to most authorities, a Jew must give up his life instead of having intercourse with a non-Jew (see sources quoted by Shach Yoreh De'ah 157:12), although the Rama (Even Ha'Ezer 16:2) says that such a stringency only applies in public. What is the source for this prohibition?

Possibility 1: לא תתחתן בם

The Torah tells us regarding the 'nations' (Devarim 7:3-4)

לֹא תִתְחַתֵּן, בָּם: בִּתְּךָ לֹא-תִתֵּן לִבְנוֹ, וּבִתּוֹ לֹא-תִקַּח לִבְנֶךָ. ד כִּי-יָסִיר אֶת-בִּנְךָ מֵאַחֲרַי, וְעָבְדוּ אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים; וְחָרָה אַף-יְהוָה בָּכֶם, וְהִשְׁמִידְךָ מַהֵר

"Do not marry them; do not give your daughter to his son nor take his daughter for your son. For he will turn your son from Me and serve other gods, and the anger of God will flare up against you and destroy you speedily"

The Rambam (Issurei Biah 12:1 understands these verses to mean that intermarriage of any kind is prohibited. However, this doesn't count as an answer to the question for two important reasons:

  1. The Rambam explicitly prohibits only intercourse 'דרך אישות', by way of marriage. Intercourse that is outside the context of marriage would seem to be permitted. (While the Gemara in Avoda Zarah 36b seems to understand this verse as referring even to non-marriage-like intercourse, the Gemara is sufficiently ambiguous there to support either interpretation).

  2. Simply reading the Gemara in Yevamos 76a implies that this verse is applicable to gentiles of any nation, and that is indeed the interpretation of the Rambam (cited) and Rabbeinu Tam (Tosfos Kesuvos 29a), this is not necessarily the standard interpretation. In its context, this verse is specifically referring to the seven nations that lived in Canaan, and would not apply to most gentiles (or any, nowadays). The Gemara in Avoda Zarah 36b records that this is a dispute between the Sages and R. Shimon bar Yochai, and normally we'd conclude like the Sages, that marriage is only prohibited (based on this verse) to the seven nations who lived in Canaan. This is the position of the Ramban to Yevamos daf 78, Sefer Mitzvos Gedolos Lav 112, and - importantly - the Tur, in Even Ha'Ezer 16.

Possibility 2: לא יהיה קדש

Another possible source one might give for a prohibition of merely being with a non-Jew is by combining two Rabbinic interpretations that refer to two different words for a 'prostitute'. The Rabbinic interpretation of a prostitute in the context of who is not allowed to marry a kohen, אשה זונה וחללה לא יקחו (Vayikra 21:7) includes anyone with whom the Kohen is unable to have a legal marriage (see Temurah 29b and Tosfos Yevamos 42b).

The Torah also speaks about a 'prostitute' in another context, which is a blanket prohibition for all Jews, not just Kohanim:

לֹא-תִהְיֶה קְדֵשָׁה, מִבְּנוֹת יִשְׂרָאֵל; וְלֹא-יִהְיֶה קָדֵשׁ, מִבְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל

There shall not be a prostitute among the daughters of Israel, nor a male prostitute among the sons of Israel (Devarim 23:18)

Targum Onkelus translates this verse as referring to a prohibition on any man to have intercourse with a maidservant (though not a regular gentile, I'm getting to that). The way that Rashi and Ramban interpret this translation of Onkelos is by explaining that intercourse with anyone who cannot be married is a violation of the 'prostitution prohibition', thus applying the Rabbinic interpretation of Vaykira 21:7 to Devarim 23:18. Rashi also appears to apply this verse to a regular Jew having intercourse with a slave in his comments to Avoda Zarah 36b, though Tosfos there disagrees.

According to this logic, someone who has intercourse with a non-Jew should be in violation of this law, because a non-Jew also cannot be married to a Jew (Yevamos 76a). Support for such an idea might actually come from the Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 16:1), which states that someone who has intercourse with a non-Jew is punished by lashes משום זונה, because of [the prohibition of] prostitution. However, the Vilna Gaon comments that this is a printer's error, and is indeed very difficult to read the Shulchan Aruch as referring to the Biblical prohibition of לא תהיה קדשה.

However, this interpretation is problematic for several reasons. First of all, the very question of intercourse with a slave may be a subject of dispute among Tannaim (see Kiddushin 75b). More importantly, the Rabbis themselves (Sanhedrin 82a) interpret the verse in Devarim 23:18 radically differently and explicitly reject this reading of Rashi/Ramban, making it hard to support such an interpretation according to Rabbinic halakha. This is noted by the Sefer Yeraim (siman 25), who does actually pasken like this Targum despite it being unsupported by the Gemara. However, even the Sefer Yeraim doesn't believe that the prohibition extends to non-Jews.

Possibility 3: הלכה למשה מסיני

As seen from the story regarding Pinchas, who killed Zimri for having intercourse with a non-Jew, a 'zealot' is able to kill someone who performs such an act. While a 'zealot' acting in such a manner is not necessary the usual state of affairs, it's inconceivable that a permitted act would warrant being killed, even if only at the hands of a zealot. Thus, the aforementioned Gemara in Avoda Zarah assumes that there must be a prohibition of Biblical origin that was not recorded in the Bible; an oral Biblical tradition, or הלכה למשה מסיני. The Gemara concludes, however, that this הלכה למשה מסיני may only apply if the violator is with the non-Jewish girl in public, but not if he does so in private.

Yet, the Gemara in Sanhedrin 83a seems to be working with the same assumption (that if a zealot can kill someone having intercourse with a non-Jew, it must be biblically prohibited), and concludes that it is indeed an איסור כרת. The 'prooftext' for the Gemara is passage in the Book of Nechemia, which is not usually considered to be a Biblical source. Hence, some commentators understand that the Gemara in Sanhedrin is arguing upon the Gemara in Avoda Zarah and saying that there's really a הלכה למשה מסיני prohibiting this act even in private (see Ran and Ramban there, and the Rambam in his commentary to the Mishnah Sanhedrin 9:6 and Beis Shmuel to Even Ha'Ezer 16:4).

Possibility 4: Rabbinic Enactment

The actual answer that seems to be in line with 'how we pasken' (i.e. the opinion of the Rambam, Tur, Shulchan Aruch, and later poskim), is that the prohibition of having intercourse with a non-Jew is Rabbinic in nature, meaning that while it may not be prohibited from any of the words in the Bible, the Rabbis (either at the time of Shem ben Noach, or the Chashmonaim) prohibited it (see the Gemara Avoda Zarah 36b, Sanhedrin 82a, and Even HaEzer 16:1).

However, this knowing that the prohibition is Rabbinic doesn't necessarily mean that it isn't as important. In many cases, and in this one especially, the Rabbis taught us that their enactments are important enough that one who violates them would be punished more severely than one who violates certain Biblical prohibitions (again, Sanhedrin 83b) and this was something that we know from the prophets (Nechemia ch. 11) was an important rule in the eyes of God.

Since the OP asked for how this prohibition is viewed in the eyes of Kabbalah, I'll add a quick two lines: very very badly. This link notes that the Arizal (Shaar Ruach HaKodesh Tikkun 20) wrote that a person who violates this sin is reincarnated as a dog, despite the prohibition being rabbinic in nature.

  • @user6591 see the Gemara there, that this enactment was done by the beis din of Shem – הנער הזה Jan 1 '15 at 1:47
  • I thought I made it clear that in the final analysis te shulchan aruch probably holds that it's derabanan – הנער הזה Jan 5 '15 at 0:50
  • I can tell when I start reading one of your posts who the author is. +1 – Y     e     z Feb 17 '15 at 3:45
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    @SAH thanks; the getting killed aspect is a little complicated, perhaps worth asking as its own question – הנער הזה Aug 25 '16 at 2:45
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    You left out ואחר כן תבוא אליה ובעלתה - only after the Yefas Toar procedure may he marry her, but not before (Kiddushin 68b, according to the Chachamim, regarding the other nations. It brings Possibility #1 regarding the Shiva Amim, and the latter half of Possibility #1 for R' Shimon regarding the other nations.) – DonielF Apr 16 '17 at 15:14
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The Torah says "when you enter the land of Israel, don't marry into the peoples there." There are different interpretations whether that applies only to Canaanites, idolaters, or all non-Jews -- but that's a prohibition on marriage-like relationships.

The Torah also prohibits prostitution; fascinatingly, it appears that one interpretation of this (the Targum Onkelos) says as marriage between a Jew and non-Jew doesn't "take", therefore any relation with a non-Jew therefore falls under the prohibition of "prostitution." But that's not how most commentaries read it.

Yes, we have the story of Phineas the zealot -- if someone does a brash, shocking thing in public of consorting with an idolatrous woman, then if a zealot (thousands of years ago) were to slay him, we wouldn't prosecute the zealot. (Though if he or she killed the zealot in self-defense, they wouldn't be charged either.) But that's kind of a weird one.

The majority opinion appears to be, however, that the the broad prohibition of all relations with all non-Jews is a very strong rabbinic prohibition. (Rambam, prohibited relations 12:2 writes "he should be flogged for violating a rabbinic prohibition.")

As for kabbala, I have no idea and don't really care.

  • Can you please source any of the things that you said here? I think that it's almost entirely wrong but we might not be thinking of the same sources – הנער הזה Dec 31 '14 at 18:17
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    How would we understand the Ethiopian, whom Moses married? How would we view the widow, Ruth the Moabite, who had married Boaz (and became the ancestor of King David)? – Joseph Dec 31 '14 at 18:55
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    @Joseph, Judaism has a concept of conversion and becoming Jewish, and thus being able to marry (most) other Jews. – Yishai Dec 31 '14 at 19:07
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    I hope my answer clears up why I wasn't happy with you quoting sources that were against how we pasken. Don't worry, it's a complicated issue – הנער הזה Jan 1 '15 at 1:29
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    Either that or a Halacha lemoshe misinai. The main point is that the Targum is against the Gemara and the rambam is referring to marriage – הנער הזה Jan 1 '15 at 1:40
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Rambam, Mishneh Torah, Ishus 4:15

Kiddushin does not exist between a gentile and a Jew and Kiddushin is a requirement before sexual relations.

also Rambam isurei bia 12:4-5

a Jewish man can be killed by zealots for relations with a non-Jewish woman. though there are a long list of restrictions which make this almost impossible to carry out in practice as explained in tractate sanhedrin..

http://www.hasidicuniversity.org/index.php?page=hu_theocracy/mitzvah_profile.php?mitzvah=-52

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    Zealots yes, but courts? – Shalom Dec 31 '14 at 12:10
  • @Shalom fixed... thnx – ray Jan 5 '15 at 11:35
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    I'd phrase it as "a Jewish man can be killed by zealots for involvement with a non-Jewish woman", not the other way around. (Though yes, theoretically the zealot would not be charged with murder if he killed both of them mid-act.) – Shalom Jan 5 '15 at 12:08
  • "and Kiddushin is a requirement before sexual relations." Rambam does not say that there. – mevaqesh Jul 2 '17 at 17:20
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Just to add to the thorough answer above. The Rambam forbids yichud with a non-jew as well. Issure Biya: Perek 22: 3. That means that before even having relations with a non-Jewess, it is forbidden for one to seclude himself with her. All the more-so, is it forbidden to have relations with her.

  • Not sure which post you're adding to. I recommend you just post your own stand-alone answer. You'll get an upvote or two for your contribution, even if it isn't thorough. Although you're kind of ignoring the fact that the other answers directly answer the question, while your information suggests a hint towards an implied answer, which is much less valuable to the asker. – Seth J Jun 22 '15 at 14:25
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Based on all what I read, including in this site, I am still convinced that it is exclusively Rabbinical enactment from the category of fences. There is no a single verse in Chumash, which can be even in-directly understood this way. And as it's known, Chumash can be the only source for halakha.

I believe the main reason for this enactment is a worry that casual relations can easily lead to marriage with non-jewish women, which most likely will end up with a Jew getting off the derech. It also will dilute the population of available jewish men for Jewish brides, who obviously shouldn't marry non-jewish men. The last will be very serious problem after monohamic enactment, which actually materialised only in 11th century, so certainly couldn't be the source of the initial prohibition from talmudic time , but can be a serious concern nowadays.

  • Welcome to MY. Since MY is different from other sites you might be used to, see here for a guide which might help understand the site. Please consider registering your account, to enable more site features, including voting. Hope to see you around! – mbloch Dec 26 '17 at 4:33
  • Mikhail, don't take it personally, but since we don't know you, what you think is not so useful. This site is for sourced answers, if you found great rabbis who wrote the above, this would be very interesting. But since what you write goes against much of what others wrote (see other answers), your answer is likely to be downvoted. It is also factually incorrect (e.g., "Chumash can be the only source for halakha") - I am sure you heard of the Oral Law. Suggest you edit ... but please keep reading and contributing ! – mbloch Dec 26 '17 at 4:36

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