So they have uncovered yet another politician who has been unfaithful to his wife. Let the recriminations begin! "How could he have let us down?" "How could he have been so hypocritical—considering his statements regarding another politician in a similar situation?" "How could he have been so insensitive to his ailing wife?" "How could he have shamelessly lied to the American public?"

Interestingly, though, it seems that despite the outrage expressed by pundits and politicians, many average fellows are willing to forgive Mr. Edwards for his transgression. This past Friday I was listening to the radio as I was washing the dishes in preparation for Shabbat when the story broke—immediately the news stations dispatched reporters to the streets to gather public reaction. Most of the people expressed disappointment in Edwards' behavior, but also indicated that he is only human, like the rest of us, and humans make mistakes.

We pride ourselves in a government that is "of the people, by the people, for the people." Our elected officials are supposed to be a representative sampling of their constituents—not some sort of higher caste. Is it then fair to expect of them to be morally superior than the rest of us? And considering that, sadly, extramarital affairs are – to put it lightly – hardly a freak occurrence in American society, it's understandable why many people are willing to forgive a politician who is guilty of infidelity.

Count me in on this one. I agree with the people on the street. No, I'm not excusing him for his inexcusable behavior, but I think that Edwards – just like so many of his fellow citizens, both men and women – is a victim of a society that places him in settings and situations that are optimal breeding grounds for affairs—and at the same time expects him to be chastely faithful. Yes, Edwards is responsible for his behavior and the deserved consequences—but, please, stop painting him as the Satan incarnate! A little perspective please!

I believe all other factors combined – the loosening of moral standards and estrangement from religion included – are not as instrumental in causing the epidemic of marital infidelity as is the complete "normalization" of cross-gender relations. People are regularly placed in situations somewhat akin to placing a weight-challenged person in a home full of delicious, fattening foods, and expecting him or her to settle for the rice cakes on the bottom shelf of the pantry. I say "somewhat akin" because the craving for sweets or fatty foods is scarcely on par with the human's desire for sexual gratification. Ask Freud all about it...

If we are to stem this epidemic – and the resulting heartbreak, marital strife, high divorce rates, etc. – we must eliminate the settings that spawn such affairs.

Yes, I certainly recognize that this is the 21st century, and, for the better or for the worse, we can't eliminate inter-gender encounters. But we can greatly reduce the casual and friendly atmosphere common to these encounters. There should be a difference in the way we converse with a member of the opposite gender. Chitchatting, sarcasm, teasing, witticisms, etc.—these all create a dangerous ambiance of warmth and closeness.

Most people who have affairs didn't start out looking to be unfaithful. Rather an "innocent" warm relationship takes on a life of its own, and suddenly emotions and attraction made it extremely difficult – though never impossible – to exercise self-control. The trick is to nip these relationships in the bud, before there's a chance for warm feelings to develop.

Jewish tradition has always recognized the crucial need to prevent potentially dangerous settings. This is the reason for the rules of yichud (the rabbinic prohibition precluding a man and woman who are not married to each other from being secluded together), the reason why Jewish tradition favors separate boys and girls schools, the reason why orthodox men and women won't shake hands with a member of the opposite sex, the reason why Jewish convention frowns on inter-gender socializing, etc.

Some might think that these are draconian measures. I ask, what is the alternative? A society where John Edwards is the norm?