Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews

Parashat Noach: Homosexuality

Homosexuality is hardly dealt with in the Torah, but between the lines, there is enough to go by.

The Rabbis teach us that what sealed the verdict of a catastrophic Flood was rampant homosexuality. (Don’t blame homosexuals for it, though.)

Interestingly enough, Rashi (Genesis 6:18) comments on the strange order of mentioning the people entering the Ark that the men and their women were to live there separately, in what turned out to be a solar year-long (Rashi on Genesis 8:14). This made me think.

It is one thing for heterosexual married men refrain from homosexuality totally, but what about when you have no alternative – for a year? This, while in the presence of animals who lived like – uh – animals. Because most of them entered the Ark in pairs of both genders (Genesis 6:19-20, 7:2-3, 7:9) and left as families (Genesis 8:19)! No virgin births here!

(Talking about numbers, the animals were supposed to come in pairs to survive (Genesis 6:20). But how about snails that are hermaphrodites? Well, it says to come by two, male and female (Genesis 7:9). They must have been each male and female. But then why two? Maybe because being on one’s own is not called alive. Compare that to the following 3 situations. 1. G^d saw that it was not good for Man to be alone and made the Woman (Genesis 2:18). Adam called her Mother of all (also his) life (Genesis 3:20). (Every good parashah discussion should have a reference to Parashat Bereishit!) 2. Not even one Egyptian survived the Closing of the Sea (Exodus 14:28, Morning Prayers) – but Pharaoh did. 3. Choni Hamagel slept so long that there were no friends left alive when he woke up. That was not livable (Talmud, Taanis 23a).

Also, the “pure” beast and birds came seven by seven (Genesis 7:2-3). (Noach did not need to learn which animals were pure as they came to him. He only needed to be told why they came in greater numbers. From them appearing he learned which ones were “pure.”) That must have been seven couples each, or it would have been cruel – especially for pure birds that are life-long monogamous, like doves. And pictures should have 14, not just two giraffes – which is hard to draw – surely.)

This people separating by gender works in different ways. It shows that they were worthy of being saved. Compare what G^d says to Abraham at passing his greatest test: Now I know that you’re righteous (Genesis 22:12), which must mean: Now I have shown your righteousness.

It also distances them from the wicked. And it makes it understandable (though not the reason) why Judaism teaches that situational pseudo-homosexuality between males is forbidden to heterosexual Gentiles too.

However, this sat differently for the different sons of Noach. Cham goes wrong here as soon as they leave the Ark (Genesis 9:22). Japheth (Greece) later will become infamous for its Greek (!) ways. Only Shem has a descendant that will become renowned for its propensity to stay away from homosexuality, the Jews. We now know: as long as they have a heterosexual proclivity. (Other Semites are known for the opposite.) So we see that specialness in a People can have very long roots.

No wonder Jacob goes to learn Torah from Shem and ‘Ever (the Sages calculate: for 14 years) who were on the straight (!) path already then. Sexual behavior is the bottleneck of our conduct. We can be full of high norms and lofty principles, but does it hold up in our intimacy too?

Early leaders of Reform Judaism often admitted that what attracted them to leave Orthodoxy was non-Orthodox sexuality. Kosher sex may be, at times, tough to go by – but in the end, is the most rewarding for most people still – so I believe that the rabbis are right sticking with it.

The Injunction for heterosexual men to stay away from homosexuality does not stand on its own. Together with the Ban on masturbation, it belongs to doing with sexuality what it’s meant for: connecting deeply to one person of the other gender forever, pleasing one’s wife, having children, enjoying life, and staying healthy emotionally and physically.

About the Author
The author is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (DES - Diethylstilbestrol), born in 1953 to two Dutch Holocaust 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 vegan for 8 years now. * 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 lehavdiel bein chayim lechayim: Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo and Rav Zev Leff. * 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, 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, GLBTQAI, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation), Ecology and Veganism. Many people can't understand or like him because he has such a wide vision that he never fits any specialist's box. But that exactly what others 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 quit 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 500st blog post with the ToI. * He likes doing age-appropriate and age-inappropriate things and looks forward to getting to know his timeless mature out-of-the-box soul mate. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me.
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