A SOUL-SEARCHING CHALLENGE:
Sex, Judaism and Homosexuality
By:Rabbi Yitschak Rudomin
The following letter was written as a Letter to the Editor by Rabbi Rudomin regarding the article 'A SOUL-SEARCHING CHALLENGE'. The article follows the letter.
Over the past four years I have been writing articles for the Forum. I often wondered if I was ever "heard" out there. Well, now I know, there are at least four people in the world who read the "Izak Rudomin Column" because so far you have had two articles and two letters in the past two issues in response to my "Soul Searching Challenge!"
I would like to clarify a few points: Firstly, I am not a journalist. I am a teacher by profession, and as such I believe in seeing all sides of a question whether for, against, or neutral.
Secondly, I am not a homophobe. I love my fellow Jews regardless of race, sex, or upbringing.
Thirdly, I am a Torah-observant Orthodox Jew who believes that the Jewish Bible, Talmud, and Codes of Law are Holy, Godly "Blueprints for Living."
In my articles I am merely attempting to present a positive Jewish world view. I also try to be "readable".
Thank you for your understanding.
Rabbi Izak Rudomin
THE ARTICLE FOLLOWS:
Sex and sexuality are considered divine in Judaism. Via marital sex, G-d continues the process of creating humanity. That is why any diversion away from this awesome goal is considered an act of moral betrayal.
Sex is also the ultimate metaphor for the special on-going relationship between G-d ("The Groom") and the Jews ("The Bride"). Unity between man and woman, in the person of husband and wife, is the secret of the on-going unity between G-d and the Jews. Any act of any other kind of sex drives a wedge between G-d and His people, and ultimately banishes the Divine from the human race. At this point comes the danger of being reprimanded, and even punished.
That said, it is important to note that the hallmark of Judaism is its fairness and human compassion -exemplified by Abraham's objections when G-d wanted to destroy a city called Sodom that practiced a "Gay Lifestyle" (hence, the origin of the word "sodomy"). Abraham objected not because he was pro-gay, but because he believed that even Sodom might have some good men in it, and might yet be influenced to change.
And so it is that Judaism does not seek revenge, but rather it encourages us to seek out ways to move out of what we consider "natural" or "unnatural" sexual unions. This is true about Judaism and almost anything: it challenges us to harness ourselves in all areas to do the bidding of the Divine, the Sublime, the Holy and the Lofty.
Judaism, as based on the Torah (the Jewish Bible, which means "Instructions For Life"), recognizes the reality of ambivalence, of crisis, of the possibility of multiple choice.
Situations of what we call incest, adultery and, yes, homosexuality are graphically and clearly described and dealt with (maybe this is a good time for you to start looking all this up yourself). And so are the consequences, both good and bad.
At the end of the day, what you have is the Ten Commandments and the moral codes of the Torah that clearly allow for only one kind of sex: between a husband and wife.
No other kind of sex is kosher!
While this may seem restrictive, it is actually an attainment of a "freedom" - freedom from the tyranny of sexual desires.
It's no use arguing that times have changed, because we are still the same old human beings with the same libidos (maybe).
To argue the cause of Judaism being pro-gay is similar to arguing that Judaism is pro-pork, pro-Satanism, pro-Christian or pro-anything you like today, tomorrow or the day after.
Please understand, one of the greatest spiritual secrets of Judaism is its adoration of life. Our greatest toast is L'chaim: To Life!
Human life is created by the union of the female's egg and the male's sperm. Together they create the nucleus of what today is you, me and everyone else.
It is no wonder that Judaism teaches that sperm is "holy" (not just another bodily fluid like saliva or phlegm). Likewise, the loss of a female egg via menstruation induces the condition of Niddah, a kind of mournfull introspection on the loss of a potential life that could have developed had that egg been fertilized.
Judaism teaches that not only is the human seed (both egg and sperm) divine and holy because it is the source of all human creation, but the act of transmission - sex - is holy too, because of its life-giving qualities.
This is part of the reason why we are urged to have sex only within the confines of marriage.
Sex for the sake of fun, relief, excitement or with a stranger is not altogether real.
The act of eating is similar. Without food, there is no life. To eat knowing that it will keep us alive and healthy is wise. Indulging one's tastes or tickling the palate is to miss the point of eating. You can live without the indulgence. You cannot live without food.
Likewise in the sexual department. Sexual freedom is a reality. You can do many things with your body, but one thing is certain - no life can be created when man joins man or woman joins woman. It is biologically impossible, because not only is it sterile, it is an indulgence. It is doomed.
The ancient Greeks and Romans were proud of their homosexual unions. The Jews were always different because they knew what the Torah wanted of them: to be a Zera Kadosh (a holy seed) and an Am Kadosh (a holy nation).
Our job is not to doom ourselves like ancient Greece and Rome. Rather, it is to study and practice the oldest moral code - the Torah - and live!
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