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DICTATED BY LOGIC OR RITUAL OBLIGATIONS?

May 5th, 2016

This week’s parsha lists in explicit detail all of the sexual relationships that are forbidden by the Torah.

The long introduction to this list is, strangely enough, quite ambiguous, and unnecessarily repetitive. What does it all mean?

The commentaries actually struggle to find the rationale that underpins forbidden relationships, and there is a well-known dispute between Rambam and Ramban whether the laws of sexual morality are based on rational foundations or are simply ritual obligations imposed on us by God.

Rabbi Dunner examines the introductory pesukim carefully, and then looks at both Rambam and Ramban, and at a seeming contradiction within Rambam which seems to land him on both sides of the fence. Clearly, there is much more to this discussion than a simple theological debate.

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