Monday, April 30, 2007

Is Rudy Giuliani an Adulterer?


I try to shy away from politics on parshablog, but am willing to digress to comment when it touches on Torah and parsha related issues.

Via town crier,

who links favorably to this blog, which claims the Guliani is a notorious adulterer.
Rudy Giuliani, one of the most pro-gay politicians in America, is now pulling a Mitt Romney and trying to pretend that he's really not THAT pro-gay.
Sorry, Rudy. You're an adulterer. You cheated on your wife - which wife was that? - blatantly, flagrantly, publicly. And now you want us to believe that you're the great defender of marriage. You don't get the right to defend other people's marriages when you can't defend your own. How serious a moral crime is adultery, Rudy? Well, since you're doing this flip-flop in order to curry favor with America's Taliban, let's check the Bible, the King James version, to be precise (it's the version my people use), and see what God has to say about adultery:
Leviticus 20:10 And the man that committeth adultery with another man's wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.
Hmmm... surely put to death - now, no one is suggesting that you and your lover need to be put to death, Rudy, but the Bible makes it pretty clear that adultery is a big no-no. The kind of no-no that disqualifies you from suddenly, a few years after that adultery, becoming the great moral defender of marriage.

Let me quote that Biblical passage again, Rudy, just to get it straight:
the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death
Yeah, no ambiguity there, Rudy.
No ambiguity there, either.

You committed a moral crime that the Bible says is worthy of death. And now you want to turn around and sell yourself as the great purveyor of moral virtue in the very area, marriage, where you committed such a grievous offense.
I do not think that Jewish bloggers should parrot this, though.

Let us consider point by point what this fellow says.

You cheated on your wife - which wife was that?
That snide comment reflects a particular view that no-fault divorce is illegitimate. This is a Catholic view, following the views of Jesus, who followed the views of Bet Shammai. But we rule like Bet Hillel, that allows divorce and remarriage. Rudy Giuliani may be Catholic (he attended a Catholic school), but I consider it here from a Torah perspective.

Second, the author here says that he cheated on his wife, and this is adultery. And he quotes a verse from Vayikra, Leviticus, which states
And the man that committeth adultery with another man's wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.

Yet he ignores the words of the verse which state with another man's wife. Specifically, the verse defines adultery as sleeping with another man's wife.

There is a reason for this. The Torah allows polygamy, but not polyandry. A woman may not have two husbands simultaneously, but a man may have two wives simultaneously.

Indeed, in parshat Ki Teitzei {Devarim 21:15}, we read:
טו כִּי-תִהְיֶיןָ לְאִישׁ שְׁתֵּי נָשִׁים, הָאַחַת אֲהוּבָה וְהָאַחַת שְׂנוּאָה, וְיָלְדוּ-לוֹ בָנִים, הָאֲהוּבָה וְהַשְּׂנוּאָה; וְהָיָה הַבֵּן הַבְּכֹר, לַשְּׂנִיאָה. 15 If a man have two wives, the one beloved, and the other hated, and they have borne him children, both the beloved and the hated; and if the first-born son be hers that was hated;

Judith Nathan had been married previously, but at the time she began dating Guliani, she was already divorced.

If you point out that Guliani did not marry Judith Nathan immediately, and so perhaps they engaged in relations out of wedlock, the fact that Guliani was married bears no relevance. The situation is simply that of a man having relations with an unmarried woman, which is spelled out elsewhere. The next chapter of Deuteronomy gives the case for rape:
כח כִּי-יִמְצָא אִישׁ, נַעֲרָ בְתוּלָה אֲשֶׁר לֹא-אֹרָשָׂה, וּתְפָשָׂהּ, וְשָׁכַב עִמָּהּ; וְנִמְצָאוּ. 28 If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, that is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found;
כט וְנָתַן הָאִישׁ הַשֹּׁכֵב עִמָּהּ, לַאֲבִי הַנַּעֲרָ--חֲמִשִּׁים כָּסֶף; וְלוֹ-תִהְיֶה לְאִשָּׁה, תַּחַת אֲשֶׁר עִנָּהּ--לֹא-יוּכַל שַׁלְּחָהּ, כָּל-יָמָיו. {ס} 29 then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel's father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife, because he hath humbled her; he may not put her away all his days.
and some pesukim in Shemot 22 give the law for seduction:
טו וְכִי-יְפַתֶּה אִישׁ, בְּתוּלָה אֲשֶׁר לֹא-אֹרָשָׂה--וְשָׁכַב עִמָּהּ: מָהֹר יִמְהָרֶנָּה לּוֹ, לְאִשָּׁה. 15 And if a man entice a virgin that is not betrothed, and lie with her, he shall surely pay a dowry for her to be his wife.
טז אִם-מָאֵן יְמָאֵן אָבִיהָ, לְתִתָּהּ לוֹ--כֶּסֶף יִשְׁקֹל, כְּמֹהַר הַבְּתוּלֹת. {ס} 16 If her father utterly refuse to give her unto him, he shall pay money according to the dowry of virgins. {S}
Of course, this is for a virgin, which she was not, but she was unmarried also, and so it is not considered adultery, but at the most, seduction.

Guliani's wife charged adultery as a reason for divorce based on definitions within American law. But that is not the same as Jewish law. And she charged that in response to a hurtful reason that Guliani listed as the reason for the divorce.
The filing by Donna Hanover, 52, came more than a year and a half after Giuliani filed to divorce her, citing cruel and inhuman treatment.

Hanover's lawyer, Helene Brezinsky, said her client rejected the grounds on which Giuliani's divorce was based.

"If there's going to be a divorce, let's have the truth about why — Rudy's open and notorious adultery," she said.
Meanwhile, the couple had been separated for quite a while, and it was major news when they were seen together.

Within Jewish law, this might well be sufficient for Giuliani to not be considered married. Not to judge him as a Jew, for he is not, but to judge him as a Ben Noach, a gentile who follows the 7 Noachide rules, which contains an injunction against adultery.

That is, it is quite possible that we do not require formal divorce with papers, but being separated from each other, in a way that everyone knows they are separated, might well be sufficient, to declare him, and his then-wife, Donna Hanover, unmarried, such that any actions on their part would not be considered adultery.


Anonymous said...

1. Obviously, I just linked to the post without providing any commentary.
2. The term "notorious adulterer" was what Donna had called him which became the newspaper headline and a rudy synonmous keyword.
3. THe reason this issue bugs me to no end is that so many people will forever be lambasting the "immorality" of Bill Clinton, while forever praising the saintly deity of Rudolph Giuliani.
When it comes to sexual indescretions as we know of them, I see no difference. (Except that Giuliani's actions also destoryed his family, and for the people who enjoy being all for "family values" Rudy aint your guy).

joshwaxman said...

as to (1), true. or at least without much commentary.

2) indeed she did. at the time of their divorce, and in response to a hurtful characterization from his side. That the tabloids ran with it has no bearing to me.

3) I don't really think moral private life matters so much as public positions, for an elected official. That is, I wouldn't have any problem voting for either Bill Clinton or for Rudy Giuliani.

However, I do see a difference between the actions of the two of them, and one in which Giuliani comes out ahead.

I would not cast Clinton as an adulterer in the Biblical sense of the term, for the same reasons delineated above.

However, we have here the something paralleling the difference between a ganav and a gazlan. One works in secret, showing he is more embarrassed of man's opinion that the opinion of his Creator. The other acts publicly, showing that he at least gives both the same regard.

Clinton acted secretly. He did not tell his wife, and he subsequently lied to the nation about it. (Though the latter is quite understandable, given the circumstances.) What he did was cheating on his wife, by American standards.

In contrast, Giuliani acted publicly. He had separated from his wife well before dating Judith Nathan. He considered himself to be effectively divorced, and so personally felt all his actions were proper. This is not uncommon amongst separated American couples. He was not "cheating" on his wife, since he felt that he was informally no longer married.

This could then well be cast as being for "family values."


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