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Weird...I'll try yet again...Judaism 101 - Page 2

post #21 of 36

Okay, it's not just because I grew up Reform

I thought I remembered a verse from Pirkei Avot ("the sayings of the Fathers" a tractate of the Mishna devoted to ethical aphorisms) about not serving God for the sake of the reward. Here is the verse:

Quote:
3. Antigonus of Socho received the Torah from Shimon the Righteous. He used to say: Be not like servants who minister unto their master for the sake of receiving a reward, but be like servants who serve their master not upon the condition of receiving a reward; and let the fear of Heaven be upon you.
This essay is from Aish.com. Aish-Ha-Torah is hardly Reform! They are non-Hasidic Orthodox. But I really resonate with this essay. The point of doing good in this world is our relationship with God.

Of course, the Aish essay ends by saying, "but that doesn't mean there is no reward." Okay, but, the reward is really not the point.

If there were no reward, I would still want to be a Jew. This is also from Pirkei Avot:

Quote:
Ben Azzai said: Run to perform a Mitzvah even when it seems of little importance, and flee from a transgression. For one Mitzvah leads to another, and one transgression brings another in its train. For the reward of a Mitzvah is a Mitzvah, and the reward for a transgression is a transgression. (Avot 4:2)
post #22 of 36
Thread Starter 
I just watched a show about Orthodox Jews who are gay. It was called "Trembling Before G-d" and it was on Sundance Channel.

It's very hard for them. The Torah explicitly says that anal sex is a sin. Lots of them still have gay relationships, they just don't have sex THAT way. They feel such a close connection to their religion, yet the Torah itself tells them that their lifestyle is wrong. Some of the Hasidic and Orthodox Rabbis are starting to understand that these people are very devout, are trying hard to connect with God and that they deserve God's love and mercy just as we all do. One Rabbi said that if every sinner was kicked out of Shul they wouldn't have a quorum.
I think that's a great way to look at it. None of us are without sin of some kind.

What are your thoughts?
post #23 of 36
My cousin's ex-boyfriend was involved in the production of that film. My cousin has a whole gang of gay, Orthodox friends in NYC. The operating philosophy of their Orthodox schul (synagogue) is "don't ask, don't tell." (it's not specifically a gay congregation, but mostly families and some gay men.)

I joined the congregation I did specifically because it was glbt-friendly. In fact I wasn't that into going to a liberal congregation after I had been in Europe and Israel and had really enjoyed Orthodox communities. (I keep Shabbat in a traditional way and it's much easier to find others who do in the Orthodox world.) But then I was at this congregation and they had an aufruf (pre-wedding honoring) of a lesbian couple. I thought, "Well, that's just the way things should be, ethically, so I should try to see if I can fit in here."

YMMV.
post #24 of 36
Thread Starter 
That's awesome! I'm so glad to hear that there are liberal Schuls out there.
I was very impressed by that movie. I felt such compassion from the Rabbis when they were talking about it. And I loved the end when they had all the people from that one Schul dancing and singing together. They didn't want to show their faces...is that because other people from the Orthodox or Hasidic community would shun them?
post #25 of 36
My thoughts?

On this:
Quote:
Some of the Hasidic and Orthodox Rabbis are starting to understand that these people.......... deserve God's love and mercy just as we all do.
Where do you get the idea that any "hasidic" or "orthodox" rabbis EVER thought differently, that any torah observant person needs to "start to understand" that??
I'm sorry, that statement just totally urks me.

Judaism is not christianity. There are no synogogue sponsered billboards bashing any group, particularly one so rejected and marginalized. YUCK. There are no sermons in any shul spouting the evil of this one aveirah ("sin"- of anal intercourse between men).

Noone is perfect, everyone has their test. I try to pass mine, to do what's right, I leave it up to others to worry about theirs- unless my help may be appropriate. Judging, condemning or otherwise making anyone feel bad about their relationship with G-d is not me, not Torah and just WRONG.

I hope those were helpful thoughts.

-BelovedBird
post #26 of 36
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by BelovedBird
My thoughts?

On this:

Where do you get the idea that any "hasidic" or "orthodox" rabbis EVER thought differently, that any torah observant person needs to "start to understand" that??
I'm sorry, that statement just totally urks me.

I hope those were helpful thoughts.

-BelovedBird
Yes, it was helpful. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to offend. I guess I was under that impression because of that documentary. One Rabbi told a gay man that he needed to go to therapy and overcome this. Which I guess isn't really saying he didn't have compassion, he just thought this man could change, and the gay man felt very hurt and abandoned by this Rabbi.
Another man told his parents he was gay and they sent him to Israel to "straighten him out." That just doesn't seem very compassionate to me. You don't do what we think you should be doing, so we don't want to see you until you do! His father was a Rabbi, I think.
post #27 of 36
I think there is something to distinguish here - the difference between what is perceived in Orthodox Judaism as a "transgression" and the person who commits the transgression. The sexual acts of homosexuality are strongly condemmed in the Torah and yes, most are going to see this as as urge that either shouldn't be acted upon or try to overcome. There isn't much way around it when living a Torah proscribed life. However, it says in the Talmud "hate the sin, not the sinner", so that is my take on things in a nutshell.
post #28 of 36
The folks in the movie are the folks in the movie. The folks who aren't in the movie wouldn't have made for the same drama, IYKWIM.

So to make assumptions about all of Orthodoxy or rabbis based on the folks in the movie is ... well, wrong.

2nd, and not really on topic, but my understanding is that the prohibitions about homosexuality refer to one particular act, and that one act only. And that's only referring to men.
post #29 of 36
I'm sure the movie touched on this but unfortunatly I haven't seen it. I have seen it in terpreted as "when a man lies down with a man as he lies down with a woman" it is forbidden so IOW bi-sexuality is not okay but strictly gay or straight is okay...
post #30 of 36
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by amyrpk
The folks in the movie are the folks in the movie. The folks who aren't in the movie wouldn't have made for the same drama, IYKWIM.

So to make assumptions about all of Orthodoxy or rabbis based on the folks in the movie is ... well, wrong.
Amy, I do understand that. In the documentary there were Rabbis that were interviewed who took the stance that as long as that one prohibition isn't acted upon, then you were okay.
I'm sure that there are various thoughts on this though because they did have an Orthodox lesbian couple who WERE shunned by their family for coming out. Their families felt it was a Jew's responsibility to get married and have children.
If I were to go to our local Synagogue, I wonder if the Rabbi there may have an entirely different view on it than a Rabbi in a more liberal area. Or am I misunderstanding how Judaism works?
Unfortunately, I think like a Christian because that is how I was raised. I no longer believe those things, but my root understanding of religion comes from there, and it's hard to shake that. So, forgive me as I struggle with these things! I'm so used to cold, judgemental, religious leaders that perhaps I saw more of the negative than the positive.
post #31 of 36
Quote:
Originally posted by marcy74
If I were to go to our local Synagogue, I wonder if the Rabbi there may have an entirely different view on it than a Rabbi in a more liberal area. Or am I misunderstanding how Judaism works?
Okay, so there are two things going on when you approach a rabbi about any issue. One is, his or her membership in a movement. For example, your rabbi may be a Reform rabbi and a member of the CCAR, or he may be a Chabad rabbi and follow the tenets of Lubavitch Hasidism. That's one factor in how your local rabbi will answer a question. And the kind of question you ask your rabbi is strongly shaped by that as well. You probably wouldn't ask your Reform rabbi, "Is my chicken kosher, I found a stone in its gullet" and you might not necessarily ask your Chabad rabbi for pastoral counseling (though you never know, he might have a degree in that!)

Then there is the personality of that individual and his or her circumstances in the community. Even though we have movements and schools of thought, there's no pope in Judaism, no bishop to reprimand the individual clergy person. The rabbi is responsible to his or her congregation or other employer. But he really has the freedom to make his own interpretations of Jewish law, according to his own teachers and influences and his own sense of things.

With Jewish families, it's the same. One set of Jewish parents is willing to disown their children for intermarrying, or same-sex marriage, or becoming less observant. Another set won't let go no matter what.

Monotheistic but not monolithic, that's us.
post #32 of 36
Quote:
Originally posted by marcy74
Yes, it was helpful. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to offend. I guess I was under that impression because of that documentary. One Rabbi told a gay man that he needed to go to therapy and overcome this. Which I guess isn't really saying he didn't have compassion, he just thought this man could change, and the gay man felt very hurt and abandoned by this Rabbi.
Another man told his parents he was gay and they sent him to Israel to "straighten him out." That just doesn't seem very compassionate to me. You don't do what we think you should be doing, so we don't want to see you until you do! His father was a Rabbi, I think.
Marcy, so you are saying that individuals who are religious, torah observant can also be uncompassionate and judgemental? Yeah, sad but true.
In your previous post, that I was responding to, you made it sound like torah observant religious leaders previously felt that certain peple did not deserve G-d's love and mercy. THAT is simply not true. The individual torah observant person has personality
trait faults that cause him to occasionaly act wrongly toward others, or not handle situations properly. Or some people simply do not have the capacity to deal with ppl so outside of their view of "normal". Sad, but true. Those are individual's faults and circumstances. They may say something about the individual and his behavior. That does not mean it reflects on G-d's "thoughts" or "feelings" about another individual or their standing with G-d.


Quote:
If I were to go to our local Synagogue, I wonder if the Rabbi there may have an entirely different view on it than a Rabbi in a more liberal area. Or am I misunderstanding how Judaism works?
I'm not sure what "view" you are starting with. Normative torah thought sees male/ male anal sex as a prohibition from the torah. Just as a jewish man having sex with a niddah (menstuating) jewish woman is prohibited. Noone asks at the door of the shul if you have done in the past, presently do, or are planning on doing, either of these forbidden things. It is noone's business. Why does anyone, rabbi or otherwise, need to have a "view" on other people's private behavior??

A jewish man has a mitzva to get married and have children. The biggest part of practicing judaism is in the home and personal life of an individual. It is hard to do that and actually impossible to fulfill some very important mitzvos without a jewish home and family.
Every person has their personal challenge, and not every person can fulfill every mitzva that pertains to them.
Again, that has no affect on you (general), so it should not matter.


Here are some normative torah thoughts on the subject (both links available from the trembling web site):
http://www.aish.com/societyWork/arts...Before_G-d.asp

http://www.tremblingbeforeg-d.com/agudath.html

-BelovedBird
post #33 of 36
T
All this talk has reminded me of a fundraiser I pitched in on years ago. An ad hoc group raising money for AIDS research did a musical called "West Hollywood Side Story", the classic re-written with comedic gay understones. It worked so well the next year they did "Fiddler on the West Hollywood Roof" which I worked on briefly. It was a riot... same basic storyline with two sons and a daughter needing to be married off... and all three of them come out during the story. Of course after a bit of comedic angst everyone embraced for the finale.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled Spirituality discussion.
post #34 of 36
Thread Starter 
Beloved Bird, I sense from your posts that you are angry with me for the questions I am asking. I hope I've not offended you or anyone here, I'm just trying to understand it all. I'm extremely sensitive, so I could have mis-read your posts. It's so hard to "read" tone of voice on message boards.
post #35 of 36
:

Marcy, where do you get the impression that I am angry about your questions? To the contrary, I am answering them to the best of my ability. One statement you made bothered me. I think I have explained why....:

-BelovedBird
post #36 of 36
Thread Starter 
BelovedBird, you're always so kind and caring in your posts, so I figured I mis-read or was being too sensitive. Thank you for clearing that up! Sometimes, passion for a subject can be confused for anger, KWIM? I think it was the double ?? which seemed hostile to me, but like I said, it's really hard to "hear" tone of voice here.

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