“And Judah said unto Onan, Go in unto thy brother’s wife, and marry her, and raise up seed to thy brother. And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother’s wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother. And the thing which he did displeased the LORD: wherefore he slew him also. Then said Judah to Tamar his daughter in law, Remain a widow at thy father’s house, till Shelah my son be grown … And in process of time … And she put her widow’s garments off from her, and covered her with a vail, and wrapped herself, and sat in an open place, which is by the way to Timnath; for she saw that Shelah was grown, and she was not given unto him to wife.” (Genesis 38)
What if you are a man, you belong to the Jewish people, and you just lost your brother who died of a serious illness – your very own brother who had no children with his wife? If you live in the State of Israel, you will be officially forced to get his wife to spit on your sandal, in front of a religious Jewish court. The humiliating ceremony is called “Halizah” in Hebrew, and is performed regularly, since otherwise the woman and her brother-in-law will be forced – according to the religious law – to have children together, if the woman wishes to choose any partner for herself in the future.
Not only that, but in some cases (such as when the woman is deaf-mute), the “Halizah” is forbidden and a “Yibbum” must be performed: the man will have to have sex with his dead brother’s wife, and only later will she be allowed to marry another man. There have already been such things in the enlightened state of Israel, with the help of the judicial system.
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The issue of Yibbum and Halizah is only a symptom of something much bigger: the State of Israel has left many laws (especially laws pertaining to marriage etc. but not only) in the hands of religious courts, thus perpetuating archaic laws, from times when we fought with spears and traded slaves. A Jewish woman must (by law!) be immersed in a “Mikveh” (ritual bath) before her marriage; if she has sons from someone who is not her husband – they will be prohibited from marrying at all in the future; those whose last name is “Cohen” are prohibited from marrying a divorced woman, and so on and so forth.
You may think the state is working hard to improve the situation? To identify such offensive remains and fix them? In fact, it does the opposite: more and more religious politicians declare every so often that they are working to strengthen the position of the ancient Jewish law, and to make it dominant and “determining” in the Israeli legal system. As the distinguished Minister of Finance of the State of Israel, Bezalel Smotrich, just recently said: Israel should be governed according to the law of the Torah, as in the days of King David.
So, if we continue like this, we will slowly begin to achieve the life of the era attributed to the stories of King David: we will draw water from the well, we will stone the Sabbath violators, and we will pierce the ears of slaves. Good luck to us.