It’s considered kosher but not proper. But for those who have a happy Orthodox marriage yet need a little something extra on the side, a new Web site promises to arrange that. And without the guilt.
A recent addition to the sometimes bizarre Jewish blogosphere is pilagesh.
blogspot.com, which is devoted to legitimizing and advocating halachically sanctioned concubines, known as a pilagesh, who satisfies an observant man’s sexual needs when his wife is not available. A decade ago, an organization, Shalom Bayis, drew headlines by recruiting young women to serve as palageshim but the organization has since vanished.
The new blog and a sister matchmaking site debuted in October. Citing rabbinic sources, the blogger insists pilagesh is a “guard for the Torah” by keeping married men away from prostitutes.
While the Torah does not forbid either polygamy or the use of concubines, both practices have obtained a de facto taboo as a result of exposure to Western culture.The same owner of the pilagesh blog, who could not be reached via the e-mail listed on the blog, has also set up pilageshpersonals, promising to match up eager men with an obliging pilagesh.
Rabbi Avi Shafran, spokesman for Agudath Israel of America, suggests a better use for the blogger’s time.
“He should call Agudah’s volunteer services department and we’ll help him get a life,” said the rabbi. While conceding that the practice is not a sin, Rabbi Shafran said “many things are permitted but not engaged in. This is not anything that is normative in the Jewish world. The definition of a marriage is between a man and one wife, like the first man and his wife.” He was referring to Adam and Eve.
So far, he needn’t worry about that definition fading in the Orthodox world as a result of pilagesh personals. As of Tuesday, the site listed just 14 men willing to participate, and only one woman.