The Rambam in the Laws of Forbidden Relations (12:1) writes:

כל הבועל גויה, בין דרך חתנות בין דרך זנות--אם בעלה בפרהסיה, והוא שיבעול לעיני עשרה מישראל או יתר--אם פגעו בו קנאין והרגוהו, הרי אלו משובחין וזריזין; ודבר זה הלכה למשה מסיניי הוא, וראיה לדבר זה מעשה פינחס בזמרי.

It says if the act was public in front of 10 or more Jew, Zealots may attack and they are praiseworthy, does a "secular marriage" constitute public and before the eyes of ten (disregarding other halachic issues such as breaking laws of host countries, tinok shbnishba etc.)?

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    Please comment before downvoting! I'm trying to learn here..... – Fei23 Jul 2 '18 at 23:46
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    I didn't downvote, but I would guess the downvoter did so because intercourse is generally not part of goyish court proceedings. It is the sexual act that triggers the rule that zealots may attack, not the formal relationship. – Jay Jul 2 '18 at 23:56
  • @Jay I'm not talking about the court proceedings, I'm talking about the implication of the "marriage" (i.e is that implication enough to warrant zealotry). – Fei23 Jul 3 '18 at 0:12
  • Do you mean marriage as a euphemism here? Or do you mean marriage as in they went to the secular courts and got a marriage document and are now legally married, but they haven’t actually consummated it? You put married in quotes, but I can’t tell if you mean that it’s not marriage, or that it’s not halachic marriage. – DonielF Jul 3 '18 at 0:38
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    do you mean to ask if a zealot can just kill them even if they are not at this moment engaging in intercourse? – Jay Jul 3 '18 at 3:30

Based on your question exactly as you have chosen to word it, the answer is no, zealots could not attack some Jew who gets married to a non-Jewish woman via a secular court.

And no, a Jew getting a civil, secular marriage to a non-Jew is not equated with having sexual intercourse in public, meaning in front of ten or more Jews.

Neither of these things fit the criteria outlined in the Rambam passage that you cite as the basis for your question.

  • Just to elucidate a good answer: the Rambam says אם בעלה בפרהסיה - if he has marital relations with her in public. the mere fact of having a ceremony does not qualify. Living together doesn't qualify. Only having marital relations with her in front of a lot of people would qualify. – Danny Schoemann Jul 3 '18 at 8:09
  • @DannySchoemann note that Zimri and Cozbi were in a tent, and it seems that the "before 10" was fulfilled merely by "entering the yichud room. (not entirely sure about this)" – Fei23 Jul 3 '18 at 20:45
  • @Fei23 So how do you explain the detail brought in Midrash that Pinchas ran them through with his spear piercing them in ‘that place’ while they were physically together? And that he brought them out into public view still attached to his spear as evidence that he had fulfilled the mitzvah of the zealot? – Yaacov Deane Jul 4 '18 at 0:43
  • @Fei23 - Your quoted Rambam clearly says אִם בְּעָלָהּ בְּפַרְהֶסְיָא וְהוּא שֶׁיִּבְעל לְעֵינֵי עֲשָׂרָה מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל אוֹ יֶתֶר - and his source is the Gemara in Avoda Zara 36b that says that the Halacha L'Moshe MiSinai that Pinchas relied on was בְּפַרְהֶסְיָא whereas if he's בְּעָלָהּ in private it's only a Gezeira. QeD – Danny Schoemann Jul 4 '18 at 8:18
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    @Fei23 - it's inthe medrsh Tanchuma and Midrash Raba - toratemetfreeware.com/online/f_01636_part_7.html - where it also clearly says his entire tribe was around him (the tent, we can assume) - which clearly wasn't sealed as he was allowed entrance - שֶׁנִּתְיָרֵא מִפְּנֵי שִׁבְטוֹ שֶׁהִקִּיפוּ אוֹתוֹ, כֵּיוָן שֶׁהִגִּיעַ אֶצְלָם אָמְרוּ לוֹ לָמָּה בָּאתָ, אָמַר לָהֶם אַף אֲנִי בָּא לַעֲשׂוֹת צָרְכִּי, הִנִּיחוּהוּ וְנִכְנַס - it also seems like he wasn;t the only one "joining the party". – Danny Schoemann Jul 5 '18 at 11:03

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