Yeshiva University Must Make the Moral Case for the Values It Seeks to Uphold

Although the Supreme Court has so far declined to intervene in Yeshiva University’s dispute with a group of students who want recognition for an LGBT campus organization, the legal battle is likely to continue for some time. The constitutional issues at stake are both significant and complex, but Mark Gottlieb stresses the need for the school, one of the flagship institutions of Orthodox Jewry in the U.S., not to lose sight of questions that are even more important:

It is up to the leadership of Yeshiva University—the heads of the yeshiva, rabbis, educators, and administrators—to make the case for what the Torah has to say about the human person, the complementarity of male and female, and the communion of persons that constitutes Jewish marriage. The question of homosexuality in a community of traditional faith is arguably the question of our generation. How do men and women of faith respond to this question? Yeshiva ought to be leading the way for Orthodox Jews—and others of faith—through this vexed, painful issue, providing both clarity and compassion for its students and alumni seeking guidance. It can, and must, do more.

“Torah values” need to be thoughtfully, lovingly—but fully and unapologetically—articulated if the phrase is to be more than a platitudinous cliché or bureaucratized buzzword. Simply repeating “Torah values,” like “family values,” is not enough to preserve and defend the rich, deep, and sacred theological anthropology that animates the Torah’s account of the human person. Merely invoking this phrase—without explicating both the publicly reasoned relationships Jewish tradition proscribes, and painting a compelling portrait of the sexual lives championed by the Torah—feels wholly inadequate for today’s culture, maybe any culture. It’s certainly not a sufficient form of education for acculturated men and women bombarded daily by counter-narratives of sexual normativity dramatically at odds with tradition.

In The Fractured Republic, Yuval Levin laments how often contemporary political discourse emphasizes attacking one’s rivals rather than presenting what is true, good, and beautiful about one’s own account. What’s true in political culture is even more vital when it comes to theological teachings.

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More about: Homosexuality, Judaism, Yeshiva University

 

Will Tensions Rise between the U.S. and Israel?

Unlike his past many predecessors, President Joe Biden does not have a plan for solving the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Moreover, his administration has indicated its skepticism about renewing the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. John Bolton nevertheless believes that there could be a collision between the new Benjamin Netanyahu-led Israeli government and the Biden White House:

In possibly his last term, Netanyahu’s top national-security priority will be ending, not simply managing, Iran’s threat. This is infinitely distant from Biden’s Iran policy, which venerates Barrack Obama’s inaugural address: “we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”

Tehran’s fist is today otherwise occupied, pummeling its own people. Still, it will continue menacing Israel and America unless and until the internal resistance finds ways to fracture the senior levels of Iran’s regular military and the Revolutionary Guards. Netanyahu undoubtedly sees Iran’s growing domestic turmoil as an opportunity for regime change, which Israel and others can facilitate. Simultaneously, Jerusalem can be preparing its military and intelligence services to attack Tehran’s nuclear program, something the White House simply refuses to contemplate seriously. Biden’s obsession with reviving the disastrous 2015 nuclear deal utterly blinds the White House to the potential for a more significant victory.

To make matters worse, Biden has just created a Washington-based position at the State Department, a “special representative for Palestinian affairs,” that has already drawn criticism in Israel both for the new position itself and for the person named to fill it. Advocated as one more step toward “upgrading” U.S. relations with the Palestinian Authority, the new position looks nearly certain to become the locus not of advancing American interests regarding the failed Authority, but of advancing the Authority’s interests within the Biden administration.

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More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Iran, Joe Biden, U.S.-Israel relationship