Libertarian Halachah

The great insight of broad libertarianism is the unstoppable fact and great importance of independent adult decisions over their own affairs. This has many real-life applications. Here’s one – excerpts (letters between a Mikveh attendant [called “Balanit” in Israel] and Rabbi Abadi and sons):

“For example, one time a woman said her rabbi allows her to dip one night early – at the start of the seventh day at night”

OK. Great job! You stopped her from a grave mistake. But, in Halachah this women would have been Kosher to her husband MiDe’oraita (from the Torah). What if she got turned off and didn’t come back the next night? Oops! Suddenly our wonderful intentions backfired. If a Mikveh Lady realizes that such a mistake was made, they need to address it very delicately. Maybe a nonchalant comment like, “are you sure that that is the way your Rabbi told you to count? I’ve been around many years and never heard this one.” Maybe even throw in a little joke like, “maybe I have the wrong Rabbi.” But all the time letting her do what she thinks she was told. You just plant a little doubt in her head, hopefully enough that she’ll call her Rabbi later and get the story straight. It is not your job to discipline grown women. It is not high school. These are women that are adults; they make their own decisions and choices. This includes the choice of going to the Mikveh altogether. There is no place for outside discipline or control. And to top it all off, it doesn’t work, it just backfires.

What if a real ridiculous request was made? A woman came in and asked to wear her bathing suit into the Mikveh. Certainly this one would cause a serious panic amongst the Mikveh Ladies. Rabbis would be summoned and arguments would ensue. For what? For a lack of knowledge. The Talmud and Shulchan Aruch are very clear that it is OK. The actual case in the Talmud was an advice to a woman who needed to put her clothes into the Mikveh to purify them, but it isn’t allowed on Yom Tov. So the Talmud said to wear it while you’re going to the Mikveh for yourself and then it would work. But we wouldn’t dream of allowing that.

Why don’t we trust people to make their own choices? God does. He created a world where the adults make their own choices. We can’t control others. They have a God-given right and they will use it.

Certainly let’s be available for those who have questions. Even at times point out certain things, only in a way that the person would not mind at all. But to require a woman to either present a legitimate authority or else give in to the Mikveh Lady’s policy, that is not in line with the religion that I know. That is one of the common ways to turn off generations of people from our religion. When a women stops going to the Mikveh, she many times will gradually drop everything else. Her children, grandchildren and thereafter will very probably have been chased away from the religion. Why? Company policy!

Sounds absurd? Ask around. Familiarize yourselves with the feelings from the other side. Get a little feedback from the ones that don’t go to the Mikveh.

Note: One can come up with many ways to misinterpret the above. Don’t.

Thanks to Rabbi Yehuda B. Ilan of Forthodoxy for bringing this one to my attention.

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