Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Rabbi Appelbaum’s article, “A Modest Proposal for LGBTQ Jews” (April 22, 2021), calls to mind wisdom from the famous Talmudic scholar Beruriah, wife of the Tanna, Rabbi Meir. The Talmud relates (Brachot 10a) that evil people were tormenting Rabbi Meir. In desperation, he prayed for their deaths. Beruriah rebuked her husband with an interpretation of Psalms (104:35), to “let sins cease from the land” —not sinners. To pray that their sins should cease, not request their deaths. Rabbi Meir heeded her advice and the evildoers repented. The obvious message is that we should accept one who sins but not accept the sin. Rabbi Appelbaum’s “modest proposal” implies that we accept not only the transgressor but the sin as well. In fact, we should “apologize” for God’s unsympathetic, incomprehensible laws against homosexuality. The Talmud teaches (Sanhedrin 107b) that we should bring near with the right hand but push away with the left. Love and compassion must be tempered with discipline and obedience to God’s law. The real problem exposed in Rabbi Appelbaum’s piece is Modern Orthodoxy’s latest dilemma, i.e., how to assimilate into America’s accelerating fall into immorality, with its concomitant “snowflake society,” where everyone must feel good.

How can Orthodoxy wiggle and wriggle the Torah to appear nice and obediently “woke.” Surely, one who has lustful thoughts for his neighbor’s wife will also feel “uncomfortable” hearing the parsha that relates the penalty for adultery—death. One who craves a cheeseburger will also feel “uncomfortable” hearing the Torah’s prohibitions on kashrut. But isn’t that the point? It’s called conscience and knowing right from wrong according to the Torah.

Should we allow any Jew to bring a ham sandwich to shul for a kiddush? Should a man come to shul on Shabbat blatantly parading his paramour? How about letting someone turn on the lights in shul? Surely, we should not allow anyone to feel uncomfortable!

Where do we draw the line?

Hindishe Lee