Since what I am about to write is pretty heavy, it may be good to start with a good old Jewish joke.
On arriving at his father’s shul on Rosh HaShana to walk his father home, Danny sought admission into the shul sanctuary. “Are you a seat-holder?” the security man asked. “No, I daven in another shul,” Danny replied. “I’ve just come to walk my father home. I see you guys haven’t finished the service yet. Can I go and wait inside?” The security man hemmed and hawed and eventually grudgingly said: “We normally only let seat-holders in for Rosh haShana services, but I suppose under the circumstances we can let you in. But,” the security man warned Danny, wagging his finger, “don’t you dare let me catch you davening!”
Sadly, this joke has now become black humor due to another nail in the coffin of what is often called Judeo-Christian morality but is really at root – and let’s not be afraid to say it – the moral ethic bequeathed specifically to Am Yisrael by the Divine author of the Torah.
In recent years we have seen throughout much of the Western world the legalization of “gay” marriage, notwithstanding the Divine sanctions against homosexual practice (rooted in Lev 18:22); and assisted suicide in direct violation of the Torah prohibition against taking life including one’s own (Gen 9:5). We have also borne witness to the “normalization” of volitional abortion in defiance of the prohibition of wantonly destroying a healthy unborn child (based upon Ex 21:22). These prohibitions are equally part of the Noachide Code incumbent upon all humanity. In fact, abortion law is considered even stricter for Gentiles than for Jews (see Rambam Laws of Kings 9:4). The brazen abandonment of these moral tenets by 21st-century Western society is borne of its rejection of G-d and consequent deification of man. Thus the three cardinal sins of murder, gross sexual immorality and idolatry for which a Jew is required to give his life rather than commit have now become sanitized and legitimized to an unprecedented degree.
Can society stoop any lower morally? Clearly it can and it has. Of late, we have seen the rubbishing of gender-distinctiveness, the doctrine of gender-fluidity and the emergence of gender-dysphoria as no longer a disturbing fringe symptom of mental illness requiring remediation, but an “identity” to be affirmed and acted upon.
It was going to be only a matter of time before, in a society where what was formerly recognized as undesirable is now deemed desirable and vice-versa, people were going to be prosecuted, Sodom-like, for seeking to pursue the morality of yesteryear.
But who would have thought that here in Australia you would ever run the risk of being prosecuted for praying?
Both the above scenarios are now a reality in the State of Victoria and are likely to becomes so very soon also in NSW rachmana le-tslan. Similar legislation exists in Queensland and the ACT. No doubt the rest of the country will soon follow suit. And our religious leaders don’t appear to be giving a hoot!
The Victoria legislation in question centres around what is called conversion or reparative therapy which seeks to reverse homosexual tendencies. I am not qualified to comment on the effectiveness or otherwise of such therapies and have no intention of doing so. Anecdotally some have benefitted therefrom, others may have suffered psychologically while for still others the process has simply been ineffective. While most of us would agree that coercive “conversion” practices should not be supported, to ban those seeking of their own free will to normalize their sexual urges from doing so in a free Western democracy is entirely unacceptable. At root this legislation has little to do with the alleged dangers of reparative therapy (which, in a free society, ought to be for the individual to assess – otherwise why not a similar ban on, say, nicotine use?) and mainly to do with the determination of “woke” authority to expurgate any notion that “gay identity” is in any way aberrant.
But the legislation goes even further. It bans “carrying out a religious practice including but not limited to a prayer-based practice.” In other words, in Victoria, if somebody requests a friend, a parent, a rabbi, priest or imam to pray for him/her that his homosexual desires or gender-dysphoria be arrested or controlled, and that person does pray, he or she has committed a criminal offence and runs the risk of prosecution. As would a parent who teaches their child that certain expressions of sexual desire are inappropriate.
In the words of Professor Carl R. Trueman: “To grant any degree of legitimacy to his desire [to be relieved of homosexual or gender-dysphoria urges] is [in the eyes of the legislators] to challenge the normative status of the desires of others.” Therefore it cannot be tolerated. And don’t you dare let me even see you praying to G-D on his behalf!
The Jewish community, from its leadership downwards, appears sadly unconcerned. Yes, there is a war going on in Israel and we are battling antisemitism throughout the diaspora. But here’s the thing! The same “woke,” hard-Leftist, neo-communist, intersectionalist elements that are fueling antisemitism are also fueling anti-HaShem-ism. By which I mean the desire to consign the Jewish moral code bequeathed to us by G-d at Sinai to the global garbage heap.
We know we have to fight antisemitism. Sadly we have not woken up to the fact that those who seek to impose the “new morality” upon the world are the same people who support Hamas against Israel. Yes! Many liberally-minded Jews of high ethical principle here in Australia and other Western democracies, and especially in the USA, have embraced moral progressivism believing that it will lead to tikun olam, the mending of the world. It is time for them to wake up to the fact that their fellow-travelers in the Gentile world are the same Leftist ideologues who would like to see Israel dismantled and replaced by a Palestinian state “from the river to the sea!” Our friends? Not bl**dy likely!
An early-20th-century British journalist (and communist) named William Norman Ewer coined, around 1920, a nasty ode: How odd of G-D to choose the Jews! To which writer Cecil Browne riposted: But not so odd as those who choose the Jewish G-d but spurn the Jews!
Sadly in 2024, most of those Westerners who spurn the Jews also spurn our G-d and the moral code we gave to the world. Yet how odd it is that there are those in our Jewish community who know full well we have to fight anti-Semitism but are in denial that the anti-Semites are blood brothers of the anti-HaShem-ites – those who would stop you praying for a real tikkun olam.
It is high time we Jews woke up to the dangers of the woke crusade and the vice-like grip with which its tentacles are threatening to engulf and destroy our world.