One Saturday afternoon, after morning services, I was discussing with a lady an issue that had been especially hot in our hometown. The issue at hand was the proposed mass killing of geese, which were inflicting numerous inconveniences on the residents in the harbor island park area. When the village mayor proposed a plan to simply kill them, many of the residents were up in arms at the possibility of such an inhumane option, and suggested that the mayor find a more humane alternative to dealing with the geese problem. Despite the fact that the geese meat was to be given to the needy in the surrounding area, the animal rights groups did not flinch from their position. Killing these geese was unacceptable, no matter what.
It wasn’t her position as much as the reasoning behind it that got me thinking. Her objection was that as human beings, we do not have the right to kill G-d’s creatures, especially in any inhuman manner. As a proof, she referred to the story in the beginning of Genesis, where Adam is giving names to all the animals of the World in the Garden of Eden. She explained that man has a responsibility for the animals of the world, and to utterly decimate G-d’s creatures would be the antithesis of our godly purpose.
Beautifully religious and inspiring words, are they not?
It is very interesting that the animals rights supporters, who many times go hand-in-hand with environmentalists (informally, and maybe even derogatorily known as “tree huggers”), utilize the term “immoral” when objecting to certain ‘anti-animal’ or ‘anti-environment’ policies. It is also interesting that these groups are largely comprised of liberals (the term liberal referring to modern-day American liberalism) and secularists. This is why I was not at all surprised that the lady to whom I was speaking happened to be a staunch liberal. While I did continue to prolong this discussion, I wondered how she may explain her personal stance on homosexual marriage. If she brought the idea of G-d’s Will, and even a biblical reference to support her position that killing animals is immoral, then surely she would oppose homosexual marriage, which has absolutely no place in Jewish and traditional religious thought, right?
Guess Again. You bet: she is a staunch supporter of homosexual marriage, which she calls the civil rights issue of our time! It appears we have arrived at yet another liberal double standard.
Doesn’t the Torah explicitly prohibit sodomy? Aren’t there numerous Jewish sources that condemn, in the utmost form, homosexuality? Isn’t the Torah very clear that a man takes a woman, and that is “marriage?” Aren’t there numerous Talmudic and Midrashic sources that not only condemn sodomy, but the very notion of legally recognizing homosexual unions (See Bereishit Rabboh 26:5 and Tractate Chullin 92a-92b)? Don’t virtually all of the traditional Rabbis of our day urge Jews to vote in opposition to homosexual marriage? Indeed, anyone who studies the texts and is familiar with authentic Jewish thought understands that any concept of a “homosexual lifestyle,” manifesting itself in homosexual marriage, has no room in Judaism.
It goes without saying that there is a blatant hypocrisy in the left’s notion of morality. Why was this lady with whom I was chatting so quick to bring a Biblical proof for her argument, yet so strongly reserved from opposing homosexual marriage? It could be that she simply had no idea about Judaism’s view on the issue, but why not give her the benefit of the doubt? She is a knowledgeable and intelligent woman who attends synagogue regularly and grew up in an observant setting. After all, she felt competent enough to bring a Biblical story and boldly interpret it in a way that supported her political stance. I bet she knew Judaism’s true stance on the more uncomfortable issues as well.
Why is it that the left is very religious when it comes to animal rights, but regarding human decency and morality, they not only are quiet, but stand in direct opposition to the Bible’s values? It is the leftists who are most opposed to school prayer, statues of the Ten Commandments in courthouses, limitations on abortions, capital punishment etc. And if they will tell you that there is a separation between Church and State, then can I tell them they have no reason to defend animals, universal healthcare, or Mother earth, because after all, why ever bring anything about G-d into the picture?
Why do they employ the notion of religious morality when it comes to issues they like, but not when it comes to issues they don’t? I am a deeply religious Jew, and I try to live my life in full accordance with Torah law and thought. If the great rabbis of our generation said that any mass-killing of animals is prohibited because of the Jewish prohibition of making animals suffer, I would accept that without any problem. If they said that it may have its place due to certain circumstances, I would accept that as well, knowing full well that their knowledge of the Torah far supersedes mine. (Rabbi Jeremy Wieder shlita, Rosh Yeshiva at Yeshiva University, agreed that such a killing would be permissible; it would not violate the prohibition of t’zar ba’alei chaim, inflicting pain on animals). Even though I wouldn’t call my self an animals-rights person, or an environmentalist (given what those terms mean in modern-day America), I accept Judaism’s stance on the issues. I am consistent. Liberals are not.
But it is not the hypocrisy that upsets me as much as the blatant falsification and warping of Jewish ideals and commandments. Since I am Jewish and understand the Jewish community’s issues and discussions best, I will discuss this idea in the context of Judaism. One very popular idea, that I am sure many Jews of the modern day have heard of, is tikkun olam, repairing the world. Left-wing and secular Jews absolutely love this concept, and use it to defend many of their agendas. They explain that their “social justice” initiatives (which are many times misguided) are empowered by this concept of tikkun olam. How lovely.
The concept of tikkun olam means something vastly different than the leftist put it out to be. When the Talmud uses the term tikkun olam, it is usually referring to a specific Rabbinic enactment meant to make people’s lives easier. Many of these enactments are mentioned in Tractate Gittin, which discusses the laws of Jewish divorce. However, in all fairness, there is a Lurianic notion which does seem to be similar to the modern-day liberal notion of healing the world. But we must remember that this healing of the world is done through observance of commandments, not politically liberal agendas! No where does tikkum olam refer to secular Jews helping schoolchildren in Nepal, or helping workers in labor union. And while these might be incredibly noble causes, it is unfair to say that it is mandated or even legitimatized by Jewish values.
Furthermore, the concept of “repairing the world” as it is referred to in text, has a drastically different meaning. In the prayer aleinu, recited at the end of every Jewish prayer service (morning, afternoon and evening), there is a paragraph referring to our obligation to “repair the world through the Almighty’s sovereignty” (hebrew: l’takein olam b’malchut Sha-dai). This reference is explaining our responsibility to utterly destroy all idols from the world, and make humanity understand that there is One true G-d, so they may all give Him praise and recognize His sovereignty over this world. That is really what tikkun olam means. A bit more of a right-wing connotation than most people had thought, is it not?
A similar corruption of Jewish ideas is exemplified through the concept of “b’tzelem Elokim,” or the concept that man was created in G-d’s image. I have actually heard liberal rabbis, and proponents for the homosexual lifestyle and marriage, use this concept to defend sodomy and homosexual-marriage, and preach against what they call bigotry, or opposition to homosexual-marriage. It is truly baffling that even though the Torah and Jewish law is so incredibly clear what its stance is on this issue, liberals will use it to defend their cause.
Traditional Jewish teachings regard the concept of “tzelem Elokim” as the basis for the necessity for people to treat each other with basic respect, or kavod ha’briyot (respect for the human creations). This manifests itself in the prohibition of degrading other people, or leaving an unburied corpse (meyt mitzvah) unattended. It does not mean granting legitimacy to every perverted and anti-Torah idea, which is unfortunately the path taken by the liberal, secularist movements.
But aside from specifics, I have seen countless Jewish liberals try to utilize Judaism in order to garner support for any liberal agenda they seek to promote. Be it government run healthcare or immigration reform (amnesty), liberal and secular Jews in particular, who know close to nothing about Torah Judaism, feel entitled to march under the banner of religion. Their simplistic and warped approach is insulting for people who take religion seriously.
The liberals’ mastery of warping religion is appalling. Religion doesn’t exist so it can fit to our schedules and desires. It is a code of conduct mandated by G-d, and is not there to conform to what we want. If this lady I was chatting with wants to oppose plans to kill geese because she believes her religion prohibits it, that’s honorable and correct. But, for G-d’s sake (literally), be consistent. It breaks my heart to see the incredible hypocrisy of the left. The left, which has become so incredibly hostile towards religion, openly criticizing its leaders, projects, and initiatives, utilizes it when it is politically expedient. Shame on them for corrupting religion. Shame on them for standing against the real morality of the Bible.