In this question, I hastily posted that I thought "a Gentile woman is at least as forbidden to a Jewish man as another man's wife would be."

In light of the discussion here -- is this true? (It would seem not, but I'm not sure.)

And how do we understand the discussion about doing it "for the purposes of marriage (or not)"? What, indeed, would be the difference?

1 Answer 1


To avoid repetition I will address only the relative prohibition of Jews and non-Jews, not the nature of the prohibition of non-Jews discussed fairly extensively in the linked page.

  • At face value the prohibition of a Jewish nidda indeed seems much more severe.
  • However, R. Yaakov Kamenetzky famously held that it was preferable to maintain a relationship with a Jewish nidda in light of Rambam's statement about sexual relationships with non-Jews. He writes in ch. 12 of Isuurei Biah:

עוון זה--אף על פי שאין בו מיתת בית דין, אל יהי קל בעיניך; אלא יש בו הפסד, שאין בכל העריות כמותו: שהבן מן הערווה, בנו הוא לכל דבר; ובכלל ישראל ייחשב, ואף על פי שהוא ממזר. והבן מן הגויה, אינו בנו--שנאמר "כי יסיר את בנך מאחריי" (דברים ז,ד), מסיר אותו מלהיות אחרי ה'. [ח] ודבר זה גורם להידבק בגויים, שהבדילנו הקדוש ברוך הוא מהם, ולשוב מאחרי ה', ולמעול בו.

That is, the prohibition shouldnt be taken lightly as unlike other forbidden relations this draws products of this union away from God. As such R. Kamanetzky held that a relationship with a Jew is preferable.

It should be noted that his reasoning might only apply to a long term relationship. An additional concern would be that although technically more severe, the relationship with a Jew is easily rectifiable as she can just go to a mikveh. Even if she (or both) are unobservant they can transition gradually to observance. The relationship to a non-Jew however, itself places a major impediment in the way of tshuva.

  • Thanks. Would be interested to hear, practically speaking, what "marry them" means, since presumably there would be no kidushin/ketubah/etc.
    – SAH
    Feb 17, 2015 at 3:39
  • 2
    @SAH The language דרך חתנות "the manner of marriage" seems to address this by defining it in terms of social rather than technical terms.
    – mevaqesh
    Feb 17, 2015 at 3:52
  • If anyone knows a source for the R. Yaakov Kamenetzky I would appreciate it.
    – mevaqesh
    Feb 17, 2015 at 15:13
  • Good answer; I'm going to accept. Two questions though 1) can you provide translation for all or part of the quote? Also 2) Do today's gedolim generally agree with the opinion you cite, or is it "famous" because it is controversial?
    – SAH
    Mar 13, 2015 at 4:21
  • 1
    @SAH Your question in the first comment has been asked today.
    – MTL
    Mar 30, 2015 at 20:09

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