Same-Sex Marriages? What Would Moses Say?

The news is not shocking anymore. At least not to 21st century educated minds. The haredim and the ultra-Orthodox, however, are cut from different cloth.

The gay marriage of the Orthodox grandson of the late Chief Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef to another gay Orthodox male, on the other hand, shocks us only because of the unusual. Gay haredim?

Yes, they certainly do exist and arrange for their private tetes-aux-tetes  in pay-by-the-hour hotels which are accustomed to the trade.

According to one female member of the LGBT movement on Tel-Aviv’s rehov Nachmani, there have been 13 same-sex marriages performed in civil unions on Cyprus in the past year. They are obviously not recognized as marriages in Israel but they are recognized as companions by the Interior Ministry.

Looking at the very beautiful love relationship between King Saul’s son Jonathan and the future King David… a passionate love story which is not condemned in the tanakh… what would Moses have said about a same-sex relationship or marriage?

When David failed twice to appear at Saul’s table for the Rosh Chodesh meal, Saul burned with anger. Although Jonathan explained to his father that David had gone to Bethlehem to be with his family, Saul’s anger raged more furiously.

He condemned his son’s relationship with the shepherd musician and psalmist. He shouted at Jonathan that he was aware of their “special attachment” which he cursed and spewed his venom on Jonathan, calling him the perverted son of a harlot.

Question… how could Saul have seen any physical-sexual contacts between the two young men? He might have had a suspicion but they were only that. For a certainty, whatever was done between the two lovers was done in secrecy and without prying eyes, if in fact done at all.

When Jonathan understood that his father intended to kill David, he rushed to warn his friend of the great danger from King Saul. The two of them embraced and kissed and bade farewell to each other.

Later, when David learned of the deaths in battle of King Saul and Prince Jonathan, he was overcome with grief.  In his heart-broken eulogy he cried out “O Jonathan, Jonathan. My love for you surpassed the love of women. How have the mighty fallen?”

While the Bible gives no description of sexual love between the two men, commentaries and interpretations give indications of its verity. But in the Middle East, then as now, bi-sexuality is very common, largely among certain parts of the Arab population, and definitely by many in the Israeli Jewish population. Many hundreds of LGBT members are married and many with children. But they have their secret love when the passion within them can no longer be controlled.

If Moses our law-giver had lived at the time, would he have accepted or condemned the relationship? Those who follow the laws of Moses today would certainly condemn it.  Well, at least most of them would.  I cannot speak for a Dutch rabbi who has liberal opinions on personal matters. Amsterdam is not Jerusalem !

The story of Jonathan and David as loving and devoted friends has always appealed to me. It has touched my heart because a loving friendship today is so rare. It is for that reason, I think, that my life’s motto has always been “o chevruta o mituta”, the Talmud’s respect for love of one’s friends.

Give me friendship or give me death. Because a life without true and dedicated friends is not a life at all.

I cannot know what Moses would have said about the same-sex marriage of two young Orthodox men, one the grandson of our nation’s former Chief Rabbi. Who, besides haredim, really care?

Where true love blooms, let it blossom. And smell the roses.

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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