Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Tied to the Whippin' Post

So some young Afghanis girls get forty lashes by Muslim warlords because they tried to escape forced marriages.

Cruel. Sick. Barbaric.

Yet the greatest hope of OrthoDOX Jews is the restoration of a theocratic monarchy. (I won't presume to suggest that people are not honest in their tefillah, or in the near-unanimous "amen" audience approval of just about every drasha that ends with "the building of the Beis HaMikdash, bimheirah v'yamainu".) And part and parcel of such a monarchy is the administration of capital and corporal punishment in accordance with Torah law. In Judaism, lashings are theoretically given for everything from violation of (non-capital) Torah prohibitions to violation of rabbinic decrees. Although there is some debate as to how lashes are actually administered (and here I am only presenting some of the opinions), malkus d'oraisah (a violation of a Torah decree), consists of up to 39 lashes (13 on each shoulder, 13 on the stomach), with the actual number reduced if the life of the recipient would be endangered. They are administered with full strength. Makos mardus (a violation of a rabbinic decree) are less severe in some respects (not administered with full strength, the victim is fully dressed which lesses the pain), but much more severe where it counts - there is no limit to the number of lashings, even if the individual will die from the wounds!

I qualified my statement above with "theoretically given", because we don't know if a future Torah court would actually administer lashings, since rabbinic law might mitigate such punitive measures by numerous means (and malkus d'orasiash at least has similar constraints regarding witnesses as capital crimes). And, of course, we are ba'alei rachamim, and would seek to avoid such severe penalties without extenuating circumstances, wouldn't we?? But then I think, perhaps, but malkus are "on the books", and indeed corporal punishment (and even capital punishment, albeit indirectly by turning over Jewish criminals to a government authority) was administered by Jewish communities throughout the Middle Ages. Are the present-day gedolim any more enlightened? Doubtful.

I honestly can't say that I'm 100% opposed to the idea of lashings. On the surface, it sounds like an effective deterrence for certain criminal behaviors (perhaps for some non-sexual violent crimes?) But for eating a cheeseburger? For eating matzah on erev Pesach? For not honoring your parents properly? For offending a rabbinical representative? For a woman refusing to cover her hair?

Think about it the next time you say the 11th, 14th, and 15th blessings of Shemoneh Esrei.


Shilton HaSechel said...

This is the perfect way for the Gedolim to finally take control of their followers!

We caught you using internet *WHIP* Your phone can take pictures *WHIP* Your stockings are not black enough *WHIP*

Baal Habos said...

I hear there's a special whip reserved for the targets of the 12th blessing.

Frum Heretic said...


Yeah, but surprisingly enough I don't have much problem with this one. I just look at it with what I believe was its original intent, and that is a plea not to destroy heretics, but one to destroy the slanderers. In my book, slanderers are just the ones that tried to destroy the Pharasaic way many moons ago, when you had all of those various sects competing for dominance.