jerusalem (jps) | Jewish law permits premarital sex if the relationship is based on mutual respect and the woman immerses herself in a mikvah, according to an article by Professor Tzvi Zohar of Bar-Ilan University.
Zohar’s article, which appears in the latest edition of the academic journal Akdamot, analyzes the opinions of leading halachic authorities from Nachmanides to modern era Rabbi Ya’acov Emden, and shows that many permitted sexual relations without marriage.
In the arrangement, sanctioned by Jewish law according to these opinions, the woman becomes a concubine. Neither the man nor the woman has any obligations or rights. Both must adhere to family purity laws in accordance with halachah.
According to halachah, a man is not allowed to come into physical contact with a woman after she has menstruated until she has immersed herself in a mikvah.
“Never since we first established Akdamot ten years ago has there been so much interest in an article,” said Avi Berholz, Akdamot’s chief editor. “The rabbis are angry at us for publishing an article which they feel undermines the Jewish family,” said Berholz. “But more liberal elements within religious Zionism thank us for presenting this opinion.”