One Flesh: An Interesting New Take From an Unusual Source

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4 Responses

  1. David Ohsie says:

    This is a wonderful P’shat, but does it have to be exclusive? The Pasuk works on multiple levels including children, physical intimacy, emotional intimacy, parental partnership, the marital unit within the community, the family unit, and probably many others. God most certainly knew what he was doing and created multiple overlapping systems of reinforcement that continue to operate even when some parts of the system fail or or not relevant.

    There are many married couples who can’t have children, have children through a surrogate or artificial insemination, are past the age of having children, or who adopt children. Are we to say that they are not become one flesh? I certainly don’t agree with that.

    If so, then the conclusions drawn by Dr. Anderson do not follow. The lack of a specific biological link does mean that the marriage cannot unite via other means.

    • DF says:

      The Torah speaks in general terms, I should think that point obvious. The specific problems of sterility, etc. are thoroughly irrelevant to Anderson’s quite illuminating insight.

      [YA – And it should go without saying that Dr Anderson deals with the exceptions like sterility, older people, etc and still preserves his point.]

      • David Ohsie says:

        DF: You are correct that the “problems of sterility” are irrelevant to the insight. In fact, I said that it is a wonderful P’shat.

        The problem with the post, in my opinion, is in the implication drawn from this insight. As you seem to agree, those who can’t have children through physical intimacy in marriage can still “become one flesh”. I mentioned a number of examples above. Thus, the conclusions of the post don’t follow from the premises. The P’shat is not exclusive and the pasuk applies to others as well.

        If you take the other tack (I think implausible), the Pasuk does not apply to such marriages, then the premise still doesn’t follow, because obviously such marriages are sanctioned and encouraged, despite not being covered by the Pasuk.

      • David Ohsie says:

        (Responding to Rabbi Adlerstein’s comment)

        I don’t agree that an essential aspect of the argument should “go without saying”. The argument seems to go as follows:

        1) An important reason for (or aspect of) the marriage institution is A.
        2) Group “G” doesn’t have “A”; therefore allowing them to marry is not useful. In fact it is harmful because it removes the sanctity of marriage around those whose practice “A”.

        If so, once you start making exception and say that marriage is allowed to include (and is actually important for!) people are are not part of “G” and don’t have “A”, then your argument has shifted to something else entirely, and how you rescue your argument doesn’t go without saying.

        Moreover, the non-“procreative through intimacy” aspects of marriage are hardly an exception. Thank God, we typically live long lives now. The vast majority of married life is spent outside the procreative years. And the procreative years are hardly themselves characterized by procreation through physical intimacy. Indeed, the vast majority of physical intimacy even in those years is unrelated to procreation. Yet halacha considers all of it to be important and halachically mandated.

        [YA – Interested readers can read the book and determine if Dr Anderson’s handling of these objections is satisfactory to them.]

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