Defending the Jewish Theology of the Family in a Progressive Age

During the past decade, writes Rafi Eis, Modern Orthodox leaders, rabbis, and intellectuals have shied away from making a robust defense of the biblical and talmudic positions on marriage and homosexuality. Thus, while admirably seeking to balance adherence to halakhah with compassion, they have nevertheless ceded too much ground to the views of the culture at large. Eis contends that it is necessary to root the Orthodox position not just in legal principles, but also in the ideas and values they embody. To show how to do so, he begins with the account of mankind in the first two chapters of the Torah:

Whereas human beings are told in Genesis 1 to conquer and harness nature, in Genesis 2, they are instructed “to work and to guard” the Garden of Eden. They must ensure that in their creative process they build rather than ruin. The unfettered procreation implied in Genesis 1 [by the injunction to “be fruitful and multiply”] is similarly modified. Populating the whole earth is not merely a question of numbers. Human children require care to grow, but also training to be successful.

We are therefore “obligated to marry in order to procreate,” [in the words of the 16th-century sage Joseph Karo], since the unity of procreation and education in marriage is the building block of civilization. Citing the verse “It is not good for man to be alone,” as Jewish LGBTQ advocates do, misreads the biblical verse. Spousal companionship is an essential part of “being fruitful and multiplying.” It is the framework by which society ensures that children are raised best. It is true that “any man who does not have a wife is left without joy, without blessing, without goodness,” [as the Talmud puts it], but the controlling obligation is procreation. Marriages whose sole purpose is companionship are recommended for those that already have been blessed with children. The verse cannot be used to redefine what marriage is.

The Torah places these stories at the very beginning to tell us that this is what is most essential about life. We must consciously and thoughtfully build this world that God has given us. Our parents, through an act of kindness, give us life, which we do nothing to earn. In this way, they imitate God who created the world and life therein. Unlike the modern notion that believes that life is primarily about self-fulfillment, the Torah unequivocally states that we are bound to perpetuate life and build civilization.

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Read more at Torah Musings

More about: Genesis, Homosexuality, Jewish marriage, Judaism, Modern Orthodoxy

 

Is the Attempt on Salman Rushdie’s Life Part of a Broader Iranian Strategy?

Aug. 18 2022

While there is not yet any definitive evidence that Hadi Matar, the man who repeatedly stabbed the novelist Salman Rushdie at a public talk last week, was acting on direct orders from Iranian authorities, he has made clear that he was inspired by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s call for Rushdie’s murder, and his social-media accounts express admiration for the Islamic Republic. The attack also follows on the heels of other Iranian attempts on the lives of Americans, including the dissident activist Masih Alinejad, the former national security advisor John Bolton, and the former secretary of state Mike Pompeo. Kylie Moore-Gilbert, who was held hostage by the mullahs for over two years, sees a deliberate effort at play:

It is no coincidence this flurry of Iranian activity comes at a crucial moment for the hitherto-moribund [nuclear] negotiations. Iranian hardliners have long opposed reviving the 2015 deal, and the Iranians have made a series of unrealistic and seemingly ever-shifting demands which has led many to conclude that they are not negotiating in good faith. Among these is requiring the U.S. to delist the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in its entirety from the State Department’s list of terror organizations.

The Biden administration and its European partners’ willingness to make concessions are viewed in Tehran as signals of weakness. The lack of a firm response in the shocking attack on Salman Rushdie will similarly indicate to Tehran that there is little to be lost and much to be gained in pursuing dissidents like Alinejad or so-called blasphemers like Sir Salman on U.S. soil.

If we don’t stand up for our values when under attack we can hardly blame our adversaries for assuming that we have none. Likewise, if we don’t erect and maintain firm red lines in negotiations our adversaries will perhaps also assume that we have none.

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Read more at iNews

More about: Iran, Terrorism, U.S. Foreign policy