Haredi Rabbi Yehuda Levin from Flatbush, Brooklyn, the official spokesman for the 850-member Rabbinical Alliance of America, and host of a conservative radio show, has come out with an urgent call to the Catholic Church, on the eve of its planned discussion at the Synod in Rome of its pastoral response to homosexual unions, to reject the pro-homosexual agenda, as he put it, the right-wing LifeSiteNews reported.
Those of us who stay in our synagogue seats through the Yom Kippur afternoon prayer are also treated to a reading of the list of prohibited sexual liaisons, in Leviticus 18. Those include, alongside having relations with your siblings and your children, the prohibition against male homosexual coitus. Because Rabbinical Judaism does not prescribe making legal decisions based directly on Torah verses, but rather on the rabbis’ interpretation of those verses, Jewish congregations have each found ways and means over the years of managing the conflicts associated with this issue. That’s very much unlike the Christian experience, both among Protestants and Catholics, where the debate has been public and injurious.
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Pope Francis has been an advocate of a more benign approach to homosexuals on the part of the Church. Some in the media have gone as far as to release headlines that read “Pope Francis Suggests Gay Civil Unions May Be Tolerable By Church” (Huffington Post), others (Time) stated more reservedly: “Pope Francis Willing To ‘Evaluate’ Civil Unions, But No Embrace of Gay Marriage.”
Rabbi Levin is not your typical Haredi Jew, as he devotes much of his political action to collaboration with right-wing Christians. This is an almost exclusively American phenomenon among Haredim, who usually find the Christian dogma just too repugnant. But Rabbi Levi is made of stronger stuff, and so, for instance, he serves on the advisory committee of Jews Against Anti-Christian Defamation.
Yes, it is a double negative, and yes, it boggles the mind when you try to do the math there, so better leave it alone…
Rabbi Levin has been allied with Christian Evangelicals on a variety of issues, including abortions (another area where Rabbinical Judaism has been offering sane, benign solutions). But he’s been a loud voice against homosexuals for two decades now. He even supported Pat Buchanan for president in 1996 (before half of Miami Beach did, in 2000).
Now, on the week before Yom Kippur, Rabbi Levin is deeply concerned about the Synod’s decision on homosexual marriages. In that he is probably unique among all Jews, Orthodox and otherwise, who couldn’t care less what the Pope thinks about anything.
Things get a bit wrinkled, when Rabbi Levin uses a pro-life publication like LiFeSite to say stuff like: “The Catholic Church is a real bulwark at the United Nations and internationally, the premier defender of family and pro-life values.”
And then they, naturally, add this lovely note: “Orthodox Jews share those values and rely on the Catholic Church as an ally. Moreover, ‘As things go in the Christian community, they soon go in the Jewish community, ‘ he said.”
Last time I checked, the only thing Jews could rely on the Catholic Church for were expulsions and Public burnings. To suggest a correlation between Papal decisions in Rome and what Orthodox congregations decide regarding their homosexual members is to be living in a world that’s purely them against us.
Here’s how the pre-Yom Kippur interview with Rabbi Levin concludes:
The truth, he added, is that homosexuality is wrong, and taking a so-called non-judgmental approach to it can only encourage its growth. “There is something worse than murdering a child, ” Levin said. “Because, as the Talmud says, when you kill someone physically you don’t touch them spiritually. But when you lead a person into heinous sin, you kill them spiritually in this world and the next world.”
The problem with cherry picking Talmudic quotes is that one can find a view to support almost anything, and so it should be quite easy to pick a moral statement by a Talmudic sage and turn it into a misrepresentation of Jewish Law. There are aspects of homosexual sex which Jewish law punishes with the death penalty, and others which it merely frowns on. Teaching Jews how to find a reasonable way of remaining part of the community despite their conflicts seems a better goal for an educated rabbi than soliciting gentile leaders to crack the whip.
Especially on the Eve of Yom kipur.