Don’t be kind to the unkind or you end up being unkind to the kind – Talmud
A man who proclaims women are weaker and less smart than men forgoes his right to indignation when we prove it’s the opposite: women live 10 years longer and either are stronger or not so stupid to ruin their health.
A Monotheist who claims Jews are sinners (for not accepting Jesus) or inferior (for not accepting Mohamed) forgoes his right to indignation when we prove it’s the opposite: we shed less blood (Crusades, Auschwitz) and win more Nobel Prizes.
A heterosexual Orthodox Jew who claims Gays are sinners forgoes his right to indignation when we prove it’s the opposite: and exactly that, we will do below. We will not do this with Straights who are a bit confused about Gays but polite/decent enough not to trash them.
Let’s first look at what our Sages teach in the Sayings of the Fathers.
Chapter 5 – Paragraph 19
Whoever possesses these three things, he is of the disciples of Abraham, our father; and [whoever possesses] three other things, he is of the disciples of Balaam, the wicked.
A good eye, a humble spirit and a moderate appetite he is of the disciples of Abraham, our father.
An evil eye, a haughty spirit and a limitless appetite he is of the disciples of Balaam, the wicked.
What is the difference between the disciples of Abraham, our father, and the disciples of Balaam, the wicked?
The disciples of Abraham, our father, enjoy this world, and inherit the world to come, as it is said: “I will endow those who love me with substance, I will fill their treasuries” (Proverbs 8:21).
But the disciples of Balaam, the wicked, inherit Hell, and descend into the nethermost pit, as it is said: “For you, O God, will bring them down to the nethermost pit those murderous and treacherous men; they shall not live out half their days; but I trust in You” (Psalms 55:24).
Translation: Pirkei Avot translated into english
The Sages are very clear. If others displease you, if you consider yourself superior to them, and if you eat too much, you can only be a Jew in name. You’ve really disconnected yourself from the Jewish Tradition and People.
He’s Not Under Attack; He’s Not the Issue
I found a very unkind blog post, Response to Steven Greenberg’s ‘Am I an abomination?’ that, I will show, is not only heartless but also baseless.
I remember the author sharply for his negative stance on homosexuality and his claim he represents Orthodox Judaism. We didn’t hear this from him for four years, but he’s back. He’s learned to write in a polite, academic way, without toxic language or making false and dangerous claims (such as regarding so-called “conversion therapy”), and that’s how he now throws homosexuals under the bus for the love of his religion. And how would I answer the objection that many people interpret Judaism as taking a negative stance on homosexuality, and that’s OK so long as they do not insult people based on sexual orientation or gender identity? Many Christians regard Jews as sinners and many Muslims see Jews as morally inferior (without ever having met one), and that’s OK if they do not insult us? That is the insult! Seeing Gays as sinners is the insult. Politely writing that a rare out-Gay Orthodox-Jewish leader can’t be Orthodox is the insult. Many people are homophobic, sexist, antisemitic, etc. but have learned not to say those things out loud not to sound reactionary or heartless.
The main difference between his writing and mine is that I defend people before principles and reject those who do the reverse. As a Dutch-Christian poet nicely put it: ‘Give me the courage to recognize injustice, Even where centuries of use make it the law, A steady will never to get used to wrongs, Also when we lack the power to take them away.’ And he writes cerebrally, with cold words. I write passionately, with anger, to defend the vulnerable.
But I will treat the bigoted text now paragraph for paragraph.
The Unkind Text Reviewed
He starts by saying that Leviticus 18:22 only condemns the sin, not the sinner. That is, of course, a moot point since Leviticus 20:13 awards the death penalty to the sinners. Selectively quoting the Torah to make your private point is a sin, as Rabi Zadok teaches in Sayings of the Fathers 4:5c.
Don’t, for a second, assume he’s against homosexuals. He’s just ‘defending’ the honor of the Torah. But believe me, you already failed that when you trash 0.5-1B people to prove your Scripture interpretation is holy. He sees ‘garnering [undeserved] sympathy for homosexuality’ as ‘engendering animosity toward the Torah.’ But if the Torah has not taught you empathy with the weakest in society, you have no business studying it. As taught by the Sayings of the Fathers 3:17: Manners need to precede learning Torah.
He laments ‘a softer and even modified stance toward homosexuality, mustering the mores and feelings of modern secular society to somewhat challenge the Torah and evoke sympathy for those who openly defy it.’ Now here he does exactly that for which he just condemned his opponent. He sees sympathy for homosexuals (the sinner, he thinks) as justifying homosexuality (the sin, he thinks) as if they are one thing. Does he know how many of the 1-2M Gay Jews committed suicide over this ‘opinion’?
He’s not stupid obviously. Rather, he’s in a panic since he thinks he must defend the indefensible: a faulty interpretation of the Torah text from the last 60 years. Not inhibited by too much kindness, he takes no prisoners.
Then he goes on to compare this to intermarriage. It’s always great fun when someone tries to hide that he understands nothing about issue A, by comparing it to issue B, that he doesn’t understand either. In a Befehl ist Befehl (orders are orders) style, immoral orders must be obeyed. He makes no effort to search for an interpretation of the Verse that is moral and makes sense in reality. He is the one who shows no trust in the Torah.
Seeing himself as G^d lone servant, he, of course, feels free to speak evil (probably Judaism’s worst sin) about Jewish publishers that don’t toe his line. Also, he accuses his opponent of putting the Torah on the defensive and, thus, not being an Orthodox Jew—slander seems to come easy to this crusader. Again, he attacks the person and has left discussing the issue. He fails to see that the Torah is not under attack, and nor is he–one of the dreadful curses in the Torah (end of Leviticus 26:17, this week’s portion).
The Author tells us he’s a kashruth professional, Chairman of the Rabbinic Circle at Coalition for Jewish Values, a member of the Rabbinical Council of America, and a member of the New York Bar. I suggest he pauses his three Jewish responsibilities until he returns to the Jewish People.
I found writing this unpleasant, but we can’t allow insensitive people who think themselves superior to attack an out-Gay leader. Not because he couldn’t take it but with 10-20 times more Straights, the fight is so uneven. When leaders burn out, who’d help the vulnerable that got intimidated?