Is It OK To Have Sex With A Goy To Save Klal Yisrael?

The prospect fills me with horror but if I could save the whole Jewish people by committing one tiny eeny wheeny indiscretion with a really hot and powerful shiksa who loved to read books, I suppose I could muster the moral fortitude to overcome my instinctive revulsion at the unsanctioned intimacy and with the help of numerous prescribed medications for the type of dysfunction that always strikes me when I contemplate sex outside of marriage, I suppose I could force my unwilling member to enter a forbidden realm, conquer and lay waste to the inhabitants and plant a flag there for HaShem. But I’d take no joy from this. None. I’d probably throw up afterwards and lie in my shower rocking back and forth calling out, "Why me Oh Lord? Why did you choose me to be Your humble servant for this despicable and degrading act?"

But that’s just me.

Rabbi Ari Kahn has a lecture on this topic on his new website oddly titled

Rabbi Gil Student writes: "Purim is an odd holiday in that one of the heroes of the day lived in sin for most of her life. I am speaking, of course, about Esther, who was married to the Persian king Achashverosh). While a careful review of the language of the book of Esther shows that she was repeatedly taken, i.e. against her will, there is one instance in which she went to Achashverosh willingly (Esther 4:16)."

Apple writes to Hirhurim: "Fascinating topic. I’m in a class discussing if one is obligated/allowed to put oneself in possible physical danger in order to save klal Yisrael. We read a ruling that quoted Rav Kook who said that if you can save the entire klal, even at the expense of your personal safety, you are obligated to put yourself in danger to save the klal. I’m not sure if this would extend to committing the big three, but pikuach nefesh is matir the rest of the mitzvot, so perhaps one would be allowed to "live in sin" as a spy if it would save the entire klal. Of course, this is just me speculating out of the little information I know, so I could be totally off the mark."

LM writes: "Shortly after R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach passed away, Arutz 7 news reported that this question had been posed to him by an observant member of the Mossad, and that he ruled that this was permissible."

Binyomin Eckstein writes: The Gemara in Taanis 22a tells of the jail warden who wore black shoes and did not wear Tzitzis in order to find out about impending decrees and inform the Chachamim about them. The Beis Yosef in YD 178:2 quotes this Gemara as one of the sources that for the sake of Hatzalas Yisrael wearing black shoes is permitted.

While it is not clear whether this warden lived this lifestyle permanently, it is logical to assume that he never publicly identified himself as a Jew as that would have blown his cover. (See Kesef Mishneh to Avodas Kochavim 11:3 who makes a similar assumption regarding Avtolas Bar Reuven in Meillah 17)

I should add, though, that the Benayahu (Ben Ish Chai) presumes that a warden could not have been privy to high quality information, and he was only able to hear about impending harsh decrees against particular Jews in jail – and he implies that the only way the warden could avoid wearing Tzitzis was by rounding one of the corners.

ANON POSTS: "In a way, this entire discussion evokes Eliezer Berkovits’s ‘Lo Bashamayim Hi’ book, which basically asks the question, are the Jewish people a nation or a sect? If the latter, fine. Halakhah can be a millstone around the neck. Let others do the work for us. If the former, then it follows that the Torah envisions a nation doing the things that nations must do. This obviously includes the ability to engage in national defense, whether food with an OU or a Badatz hashgacha is available or not."

NACHUM POSTS: A well known case is that of Yehudit Nessyahu, an Orthodox female Mossad agent. You can read about her here:…es/ 1025999.html

In his memoir on the Eichmann capture, Peter Malkin quotes her as saying she consulted with her Rav before she went to work with the Mossad, and he gave her a heter. She claimed that she would never eat pork ("Jews have been burned at the stake rather than eat the flesh of a pig"), but sleeping with people was another story ("I can’t recall any Jews dying for that").

Lest I be spreading rechilut, let me stress that there’s no evidence Nessyahu did any such thing. She actually acted the part of a Charedi in the Schumacher case, which she helped solve, and played a part in much larger and important missions, like getting the Jews out of Morocco- and, of course, capturing Eichmann.

You can take Malkin’s story for what it’s worth (he fictionalizes names, at least, as did Isser Harel in his account, and the various accounts don’t entirely agree, so who knows what’s accurate and what’s not), but the uncomfortable but unavoidable fact is that undercover female agents have certain responsibilities (and risks) that males don’t. Necessary ones, too. And "let the non-religious do it" isn’t a very good argument.

But can I also suggest that the author of Esther didn’t even think of such a thing? Who knows what attitudes toward intermarriage were at that time and place? If anything, the Megillah suggests that it would be Achashverosh who would have objected; there’s not a hint in the text that Mordechai or Esther see a thing wrong with the situation. (Even leaving aside the intermarriage, not even the injustice of what is essentially kidnapping and mass rape is raised. Times were a lot different back then, as was the status of not just women but human beings in general.)

Y. Aharon writes: Let’s not get too bogged down with the issue of alleged sexual improprieties in the stories of Esther and Yael. According to the evident sense of the texts, Esther was not married to Mordechai nor did Yael sleep with Sisera. As such, Esther was not required to jeopardize her life to keep Achashverosh at arm’s length, nor did Yael do anything untoward. Remember, Esther was taken involuntarily to the king’s harem. Even afterwards, the Megilla states that the king’s wives were to appear before the king only when specifically summoned. Disobeying such a summons was definitely at the risk of life. Esther was therefore concerned about the wisdom of appearing before the king unsummoned.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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