Saturday, July 07, 2007

Lesbianism and Orthodoxy

Today's Daf Yomi is Yevamos 66

Rabbi Yaakov Culi (1685-1732) writes[1] that it is debatable whether women are included in the prohibition of destroying seeds or not. He writes that according to Rabbeinu Tam, since women are not included in the comment of procreation, they are not forbidden to destroy human seeds, while according to Nachmanides, despite the fact that women are not commanded to procreate, they are still proscribed against destroying human seed. Amongst the medieval sages, there are two explanation of what exactly is the proscribed act of lesbianism[2]. According to the Rivan[3], the forbidden act of lesbianism is when a woman emits the seed injected into her by husband in the context of intimate relations with another woman. According to another explanation cited in Tosafos[4], the act of lesbianism mentioned in the Talmud is the act of Tribadism. Rabbi Yosef Chaim of Baghdad (1835-1909) writes[5] that even according to the first opinion, the prohibition of lesbianism is not because of the seed, which is spilled; rather, lesbianism is prohibited because of a separate prohibition banning all acts that are "Egyptian" in nature. The Mabit, Rabbi Moshe ben Yoseph di Trani the Elder (1505-1585), writes[6] that while the prohibition banning "Egyptian acts"[7] is biblical in origin while the prohibition of spilling one's seed is only possibly biblical, but not necessarily.

[1] Mishneh L'Melech to Laws of Forbidden Sexual Relations 21:18
[2] See Maimonides, Laws of Forbidden Sexual Relations 21:8
[3] Cited in Tosafos to Yevamos 66a
[4] To Yevamos 66a
[5] In his pseudonymous responsa Torah Lishmah §502, under the penname "Ezekiel the Blue"
[6] Kiryas Sefer to Maimonides' Laws of Forbidden Sexual Relations, Chapter 21
[7] Leviticus 18:3


Anonymous said...

The Tosaphos is to Yevamos 76a, not 66a. See also Rashi there, who requires genital-to-genital contact. Although Rashi on Shabbat 65a seems to offer a broader definition.

Two large questions remain to me, that I have not seen addressed explicitly. Are B'not Noach permitted to indulge in this manner? And how broad is the prohibition of Egyptian Acts? The g'marra specifically mentions same sex marriage as being among the prohibited acts, but what acts of physical affection short of "Nashim Ha m'sollelot zu be zu" are permitted betwen women (lesbian or otherwise)?

Anonymous said...

On lesbianism,

I don’t know nuthin but:

If the head stands for authority, the law of the leper requires the leper to shave his head. This must indicate that he is no longer under the authority of God, since he is also to remain outside the camp.

A woman without the covering of her father or her husband is like a beast, in that she is forbidden the privileges associated with the Torah.

It is prohibited for a woman to lie with a beast.

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