An email sent to Hillary Clinton’s domestic-policy adviser Ruby Shamir during the Monica Lewinsky scandal in 1999 cites Jewish law as a defense for Clinton’s husband’s sexual encounter with Lewinsky in the Oval Office of the White House.
Above: Monica Lewinsky
Updated at 12:40 pm CDT
Jewish Law Was Cited As A Defense During President Clinton’s Lewinsky Scandal
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
An email sent to Hillary Clinton’s domestic-policy adviser Ruby Shamir during the Monica Lewinsky scandal in 1999 cites Jewish law as a defense for Clinton’s husband’s sexual encounter with Lewinsky in the Oval Office of the White House, the New York Post reported.
The email, released Friday, was written by Linda Commodore, a Long Island woman who was forwarding an argument in President Clinton’s defense from Susannah Heschel, a professor of Jewish studies at Dartmouth College. Heschel is the daughter of noted theologian Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, founder of the Reconstructionist Movement who was a professor of Jewish mysticism at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America.
The email was one of about 10,000 records released by the Clinton presidential library in the final batch of previously undisclosed files from the Clinton administration.
“According to classical Jewish law, President Clinton did not commit adultery; adultery is defined as a married man having intercourse with a married woman, and Monica Lewinsky is single,” the email sent on January 27, 1999 claimed. “At worst, President Clinton is guilty of the common sin of onanism [masturbation], a sin that probably afflicts the consciences of most Jewish men at one time or another.”
“From the perspective of Jewish history, we have to ask how Jews can condemn President Clinton’s behavior as immoral, when we exalt King David?” Susannah Heschel wrote.
“King David had Batsheva’s husband, Uriah, murdered. While David was condemned and punished, he was never thrown off the throne of Israel. On the contrary, he is exalted in our Jewish memory as the unifier of Israel.”
Under halakha (Jewish law), any man, married or single, who has sexual intercourse with a married woman who is not his wife has committed adultery in its biblical sense. Lesser sexual contact is rabbinically proscribed.
Even so, because Lewinsky, a 23-year-old White House intern at the time the sexual contact took place, was not married at that time, Heschel was correct – no adultery as it is strictly defined by halakha took place. But that does not mean that what took place had a rabbinic imprimatur or that it was condoned by halakha as it is now understood.
[Hat Tip: Sfek-Sfaika.]