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From: Russell Hendel <rhendel@mcs.drexel.edu> Date: Sun, 15 Aug 1999 23:06:11 -0400 (EDT) Subject: Polygamy vs Slavery--A difference for supporting one vs the other My congratulations to Barry Best for an excellent question on a hackneyed topic: For Barry's question (v29n49) undermines the implicit assumption of those defending slavery by pointing out that there are precedents for undoing Biblical permissions, such as the banning of polygamy. What then is the difference between Polygamy and (voluntary) slavery I actually learned the answer to this from my high school Tenach teacher, Rabbi Amnon Haramati. Rabbi Haramati pointed out that WITHOUT EXCEPTION every polygamous marriage in Tenach had strife due to the polygamy (eg Sarah and Hagar, Rachael and Leah, Chana and Peninah). Therefore we can encourage its prohibition. But we can only encourage the prohibition of slavery if NO good ever comes out of it. A person who is totally bankrupt is allowed to indenture himself to someone for a period till he earns enough money to stand on his own feet. Is it clear that this is inferior to begging on the streets? A person who is so poor that he cannot afford clothing is allowed to sell his daughter to be brought up with another family (and possibly marry the person's son). Do we really have an alternative solution to poverty? Until we do, we cannot recommend cessation of poverty. True slavery is horrible.. but I submit it is the poverty that it combats that is horrible. And let us not forget...however great King Mesiah is he will eliminate evil but he will not eliminate poverty (Dt 15:11). Finally let me conclude with the chilling Rashi on Job 36:21---"all of Jobs sufferings do not compare to the ultimate suffering--poverty!" Therefore taking Barry's question as an impetus maybe we should change the thread from a discussion of slavery to a discussion of how Judaism deals with poverty when charity fails! Russell Jay Hendel; Phd ASA; RHendel@Juno.Com; ModeratoR Rashi-Is-Simple http://www.shamash.org/rashi/