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

 

How China Equips the Islamic Republic to Repress Its People

In its dedication to bringing totalitarianism into the 21st century, the Chinese Communist party has developed high-tech forms of surveillance using facial-recognition software, a vast system of “social credit,” and careful control over its subjects’ cellular phones. Even stricter and more invasive measures are applied to the Uyghurs of the northwestern part of the country. Beijing is also happy to export its innovations in tyranny to allies like Iran and Russia. Playing a key role in these advances is a nominally private company called Tiandy Technologies. Craig Singleton describes its activities:

Both Tiandy testimonials and Chinese-government press releases advertise the use of the company’s products by Chinese officials to track and interrogate Uyghur Muslims and other ethnic minorities in China’s Xinjiang province. According to human-rights groups, Chinese authorities also employ Tiandy products, such as “tiger chairs,” to torture Uyghurs and other minorities.

Iran has long relied on China to augment its digital surveillance capabilities, and Tehran was an early adopter of Beijing’s “social-credit” system, which it wields to assess citizens’ behavior and trustworthiness. . . . Iranian government representatives have publicized plans to leverage smart technologies, including AI-powered face recognition, to maintain regime stability and neutralize dissent. Enhanced cooperation with China is central to those efforts.

At present, Tiandy is not subject to U.S. sanctions or export controls. In light of Tiandy’s operations in both Xinjiang and Iran, policymakers should consider removing the company, its owner, and stakeholders from the international financial system and global supply chains.

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More about: China, Human Rights, Iran, Totalitarianism, U.S. Foreign policy