Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews -- For those who like their news and truths frank and sharp

Does Jewish Law support or conflict with homosexual and transgender identities?

If we look at the core books of Jewish Law, the Torah and the Talmuds, don’t we see that they judge everything by their outward appearance?

The sun rises, sets, and cycles the earth. A boy is a kid that looks like a boy.

In Jewish life, deeds speaker louder than creeds. We do say “The intention is the essence,” but that is only after the (f)act.

An animal from 70% pig DNA and 30% cow DNA, is it kosher? That only depends on outer signs: does it rechew it cud and have split hoofs?

The Talmud famously tells us about an oven that looked like one piece on the outside but consisted of loose parts on the inside. G^d Himself said it was in essence, not one unit. But the Rabbis ruled: G^d gave us to rule and we humans see one unite and that’s how we’ll rule. And G^d conceded.

There are countless examples like that. Jewish Reality apparently (pardon the pun) is not about what something is deep-down but what it looks like.

***

So, doesn’t that mean that there cannot be such a thing as a homosexual or transgender identity? After all, on the outside, there is no distinguishing or telling apart homosexuals or transgenders from their more-frequent counterparts. Do you see this problem?

But, I will give you a list of examples that dispute the above and then explain how there is no contradiction.

***

If all the best doctors around swear that you can safely fast on Yom Kippur and you don’t think so, then, for Jewish Law, you are not allowed to fast. No one knows you as well as you.

If you are left-handed, your left hand is like the (majority’s) right hand. There is no difference to be seen on the outside, but that’s still the Law.

We believe and value whom people (don’t) want to marry, what their passions in life are, though you can’t see these things on the outside.

So, that seems to open the door to claims like: When you feel you fancy or have the other gender than the regular one, that is the true you.

***

But, how can this be? We saw at the top of this article that what determines reality for Judaism is what it looks like on the outside.

Well, apparently, the criterion is not what something looks like on the outside but what it looks like to a human observer. In cases like our health, handedness, partner choice, professional ambition, sexual preference, and gender, these observations need to come from the inside! But that way too, human observation still is the decisive factor, not ‘objective’ facts.

Just like there is no outer difference between Jew and Gentile, Cohen, Levi, and Israel, Royal and commoner, and a Prophet and the rest of us.

***

The cherry/icing on the cake is the Torah encouragement to be on the outside what you are like on the inside.

That doesn’t mean that if you have a mean streak, you should act it out, Heaven forbid.

Rather, we should internalize saintly lessons that fit our Souls. To get there, we are encouraged to act virtuously to actually become virtuous on the inside.

But, it does mean that we shouldn’t show off good qualities instead of trying to develop them. Don’t be a hypocrite, a fake saint.

However, this also seems to say, show on the outside what is your gender or sexual preference (if you can do so safely). Closets are for skeletons.

About the Author
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, a daily blog contributor to the TOI. He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (https://diethylstilbestrol.co.uk/studies/des-and-psychological-health/), born in 1953 to two Dutch survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork, and holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam). He taught Re-evaluation Co-counseling, became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's a strict vegan since 2008. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. * His most influential teachers (chronologically) are: his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach, and, lehavdil bein chayim lechayim: Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff, and Rav Meir Lubin. * Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years, he wrote hasbara for the Dutch public. His fields of attention now are varied: Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (statistics), Politics (Israel, the US and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight Truth), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, LGBTQIA, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation), Ecology and Veganism. Sometimes he's misunderstood because he has such a wide vision that never fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what many love about him. Many of his posts relate to affairs from the news or the Torah Portion of the Week or are new insights that suddenly befell him. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, reassure the doubters but make the self-assured doubt more. He strives to bring a fresh perspective rather than bore you with the obvious. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds must be disputed. In short, his main political positions are: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, democracy, anti the fake peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, Science, Free Will, anti blaming-the-victim and for down-to-earth optimism. Read his blog how he attempts to bridge any discrepancies. He admits sometimes exaggerating to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quite a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * His writing has been made possible by an allowance for second-generation Holocaust survivors from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. November 13, 2018, he published his 500th blog post with the ToI. If you're a native English speaker and wonder why you should read from people whose English is only their second language, consider the advantage of having a peek outside of your cultural bubble. * To find his earlier blog posts on a certain subject XXX, among his over 1200 ones, go to the right-top corner of the Times of Israel page, click on the search icon and search "zuiden, XXX". His second daily active less tame blog, to which one may subscribe, one may find here: https://mmvanzuiden.wordpress.com/ or by clicking on the globe icon next to his picture on top. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me.
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