Post: In this week's parasha, Ki Seitzei:
This is betrothed but not married -- kiddushin but not nisuin. Of course, kiddushin is not merely today's engagement, or today's tenaim, if they do the tenaim months before, but makes her into an eshet ish. For this specific case to really occur nowadays, she would have to run off with the adulterer to the yichud room in the middle of the chuppah, while the rabbi was preoccupied with reading the ketubah. And then these consensual sexual relations brings about the death penalty. Of course, if a betrothed woman and an adulterer received the death penalty, so would a married woman and an adulterer. Except of course that we don't do this nowadays, as bet din does not judge capital cases.
Now, what do you think of the following story, which occurred recently in Afghanistan?
Thus, this was a case of naarah hameurasah -- if we consider engagement to be kiddushin -- and they were stoned to death. Would you consider this backward, and the act of extremists? If not, would you have said otherwise had I not primed you with the Biblical law?
"The Taliban shot him three times. They warned villagers if anyone does anything un-Islamic, this will be their fate.'' The deaths follow a call last week by fanatical Afghan clerics for a return to capital punishment under sharia law.
Regardless of what apologetics -- even legitimate ones -- we may use, I doubt that anyone would like to see this law practically put into practice. Yes, three times a day we say in davening השיבה שופטינו כבראשונה ויועצינו כבתחילה, and we hope for the times of mashiach when the laws of the Torah will presumably be the laws of the land. Nowadays we don't have a Sanhedrin, and don't judge capital crimes in this manner. But those who hope to establish a theocracy in Israel -- do you really want this?!
Have we, as a society, moved past this? I would say we have. The difficulty is that this is the word of God. How can you say it is not both just and timeless? There are good answers. but for now I want to leave it as the question.