Monday, April 7, 2008

Understanding Judaism - Homosexuality

What do the Torah and Jewish Mesorah (Ancient to Modern Jewish Tradition) say on the matter of homosexuality? There is actually a lot that is said on the matter in Jewish Law. Not just in the way of saying it is wrong, which the Torah does state, but also it can be gleaned from Jewish Mesorah what is considered wrong about it. First, a more complex definition of Yahaduth (Judaism) needs to be given to distinguish it from world religions, as well as modern movements that have no connection to the Mesorah.
  1. The primary belief in Traditional and Orthodox Judaism is that Hashem (The Creator of all Things) interacted with the Jewish patriarchs giving them and their descendants a mission and a standard to direct their lives by.
  2. If Hashem said it, and the Mesorah proves to us this is the case we Jews do it. There are areas we may not understand fully, and there are things that become more clear with time, but regardless since Hashem created all things He calls the shots.
  3. Judaism is a religious, national, and social responsibility.
  4. Judaism rests upon the written Torah, Torah She-Ba'al Pe (Oral Teachings/Torah), Halakha (Jewish religious and traditional law), and Qabbalah (received understandings - this includes the prophecies, and various writings in the Tanakh i.e. Hebrew Bible).
  5. Judaism is not an al la carte religion, where a Jew can pick and choose what makes them feel good and discard what they dislike.
  6. Judaism is a faith system rooted in transmitted teachings, understandings, and tradition. If it can't be found in this process then there is no need to consider it.
  7. The Jewish sages of olden times discussed every topic under the sun. There was no need for them to hide matters, because no topic was to difficult to discuss. If an issue exists it is possible to find some Jewish sage or rabbi who discussed it. There are situations, of a scientific nature, where they used the science of their times which made their approach accurate, just as we use the science of our times. (Science being used in a more broad sense, since most science today is interpreted by Western cultures at the expense of Middle Eastern, Asian, African, and Native American cultures.)
The link below gives both the Traditional and Orthodox perspectives. I know from the start the there are going to be people who disagree with this paper, but I suggest to read it through since it provides Jewish sources going back many centuries.

Note: When you click on the link it will take you to a PDF. You may have to hit the back button to get back to my blog.

Orthodox Halakhah (Law) on Homosexuality by Rabbi Dr. Nachum Amsel

Afterthoughts - The Ehav Perspective

It must be noted that the previously mentioned paper by Rabbi Dr. Nachum deals with the position in terms of how the Torah relates to Jews. I.e. the commands in the Torah that are discussed were given to Jews to develop the national and social structure for an Israelite nation and society. Within that context the Torah took on legal and social matters, which would have existed in the national Jewish forum. Because Judaism is a take or leave it kind of situation i.e. people have free-will to choose, the elements of the Torah that seem strict towards certain behavior exist because the people who stood at Mount Sinai all agreed that collectively and personally they and their children would accept and do ALL of the Torah. Right and wrong behavior is in the hands of Hashem, not in the opinions of humans.

Of course future generations who weren't there can easily decide that they no longer want to be a part of a Torah based community, and being that all humans have free will they are free to choose such. This of course would separate them on some level in all three areas of the religious, national, and social sense. This is something that is not the hope or desire for those who align themselves with the Jewish perspective.

The idea of course is not to beat up on or put down Jews who practice homosexuality. The idea is to show them the path of what we often call Torath Mosheh i.e. the Torah as it was given to Moses from Hashem, and to help them return to that path.

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