Rabbi Ari Shvat, an expert on Jewish law and modern politics, says Israeli women can sleep with the enemy in the interests of national security.
The scholar has found that it is not a breach of Jewish law for a woman to seduce terrorists and other dangerous enemies in order to gain vital intelligence to save lives.
The scholar's views on "Illicit Sex for the Sake of National Security" were published in Tehumin, the annual journal of the Zomet Institute in the West Bank, which researches the application of Jewish law to such modern-day issues as technology, medicine, politics and security.
Orthodox Judaism generally frowns on premarital sex, but it is not explicitly forbidden. However, Jewish law says there are technical problems if a female agent is married.
Shvat says it is preferable for a woman setting a honey trap to be single. If she is married, he suggests a technical solution: getting a quickie divorce from her husband before each mission and then re-marrying afterward. Otherwise, she is guilty of adultery, no matter how vital the asset.
He suggests obtaining a paper divorce that can be used for each mission to avoid the embarrassment -- and possible security leak -- of repeatedly returning to the rabbinical court.
Shvat takes as a precedent the case of Queen Esther, who married the Persian King Ahasuerus -- believed to be another name for Xerxes -- and saved the Jewish people from genocide. He also cites the story of Yael, a married woman mentioned in the Book of Judges, who seduces the enemy general Sisera and then drives a tent peg through his head in order to save her people.
Shvat says orthodox Jewish law has much to say about "initiating and making use of illicit sex in isolated and extreme cases when it is clear that this is the fastest and most efficient solution to acquire vital information or to prevent an act that endangers national security."
The Mossad's most famous honey trap was sprung by a seductive agent named Cheryl Bentov, who posed as an American named "Cindy" to lured atom spy Mordechai Vanunu from London to Rome in 1986.
Shvat is not the first rabbi to consider spy seduction. Ancient Jewish sages argued in the Talmud more than 1,000 years ago that it was praiseworthy to have sex with a non-Jew in the pursuit of vital national interests. "Our sages of blessed memory elevate such acts of dedication to the top of the pyramid of commandments in Jewish law," Shvat says.
Israeli women who now feel that volunteering for the Mossad would be a welcome break from their boring routine should bear in mind that sleeping with a non-Jew will bar them in the future from marrying a Cohen -- a member of the Jewish priestly tribe. The wives of priests are likewise banned from using the divorce get-out since priests are also forbidden from marrying divorcees.
Perhaps surprisingly, the Mossad does count a number of religious agents among its ranks. After one famous mission, where a photograph was published of an alleged agent, the rabbi of his synagogue announced from the pulpit that the matter should not be discussed and his secret was kept within the community where he was a regular worshipper.
But Shvat acknowledges that his research is unlikely to encourage hordes of orthodox housewives to abandon their children and chicken soup recipes and head for the nearest Mossad recruiting office.
Rabbi Yisrael Rosen, head of the Zomet Institute and editor of Tehumin, told the Yedioth Ahronoth Hebrew-language daily that the study was "daring and important."
But he said he wasn't expecting a flood of new subscribers from the address somewhere near Tel Aviv where the Mossad is believed to have its headquarters.
"It is highly unlikely that Mossad agents will seek rabbinical advice," Rosen conceded.