Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Reward and Punishment In Contemporary Orthodoxy - A Chilul Hashem!

Shas MK Shlomo Benizri blamed gays Wednesday for the earthquakes that have shaken the region in recent months, telling a Knesset plenum debate on local authorities' earthquake preparedness that government action on homosexuality would do much to prevent the tremors.

Benizri said the government should not make do with reinforcing buildings, but should instead pass less legislation that encourages homosexuality and other "perversions like adoptions by lesbian couples."

The ultra-Orthodox party MK invoked passages from the Talmud and the Gemarrah to support his claims.

"Why do earthquakes happen?" said Benizri. "One of the reasons is the things to which the Knesset gives legitimacy, to sodomy."

"A cost-effective way of averting earthquake damage," he added, "would be to stop passing legislation on how to encourage homosexual activity in the State of Israel, which anyways causes earthquakes." (Ha'aretz Today)

I believe that public displays and promotion of homosexual behavior should be forbidden in a Jewish state, nay in any state. It is inappropriate, as is any public display of sexuality moreover so in this case, as it is deviant. However to blame homosexuality for earthquakes! To suggest that one would prevent earthquakes by not encouraging homosexual activity, is making Mitzvot into magical potions. That is close to Avodah Zara which is much worse than homosexuality.

Such a statement by a supposed Jewish religious statesman is a Chilul Hashem as it denigrates the Torah and its Mitzvot in the eyes of any intelligent person.


  1. And yet the gemarah DOES say that! Response?

  2. please quote each gemara you think says that.

  3. Darn it, I can't remember now (but I know it does). I do remember that Sukkah daf chuf tes amud alef says that homosexuality causes solar eclipses (!). Your rational attitude about this stuff was most definitely not shared by Chazal. The disgusting MK really does have Torah on his side.

  4. I think it may have been a midrash. It came up after the San Francisco earthquake during the baseball playoffs, because the midrash? mentions homosexuality and people going to entertainment in stadiums as causes.

  5. Does the Rambam believe God or the active intelect discern particulars or is knowledge confined to species and universals? I think Gersonidies says only universals. I bring this up because it might just be possible klahpei shmaya galya that MK Benziri is indistinguishable from some gay.

  6. EJ

    Nu NU :-) watch for the kanoim

  7. >homosexuality causes solar eclipses

    Come on that is exactly the point. Do you think the Rabbis were dumb and did not know that solar eclipses and lunar eclipses are predictable? Who is insulting them ? You who reads them literally or the "apikores" who has so much respect for them that he says they must have been trying to teach us something in an allegorical way?

    Have a look at the ein Yakov Chidushei hageonim and Maharsha chidushei agadot who struggle with it.As did Rashi with his rare lo shamati.

    Thank you for making my point!

  8. MoM

    Please remember the Rabbis were very smart. If something does not make sense is because the literal reading is not what they meant! I have no idea what Midrash was quoted - I do remember something about rav Ovadyah Yossef. He is a great man and we have to also hear him with respect and try to understand what he meant. I am sure he did not mean it literally either.

  9. RDG I have some questions regarding the Rambam and rational Judaism, that may relate to your post here.

    1) First of all how do you understand when the Rambam permitted the use of the Even Techumah on Shabbos (even though he undoubtly, like his son, thought it was false). Because even if it doesn't work, a chashash a"z is stil chashash a"z.

    2)How does the Rambam (and perhaps you) view the Gemora in Baba Basra 75a of the story is told of Rav Yochanan...
    "Rav Yochanan was darshening about giant gems that adorned the entrance to the Bais HaMikdash. A student heard this and laughed. He knew that the existence of such gems were impossible! Later, he was traveling on a boat and saw them at sea. He came back and told Rav Yochanan “It’s true! I saw them!” To which Rav Yochanan responded “Empty one! And if you didn’t see them that you wouldn’t have believed?” He then looked at the student who was reduced to a heap of bones."
    Now it seems that chaza"l or at least Rav Yochonon didn't look favorably at not taking their word kepshutto (even if we alegorize the last part of a heap of bones - it still signifies a significant code was breached by the talmid). I have an idea how to learn this gemora, but I want to hear your opinion.

    3) If you feel the Rambam held mysticism was a"z, how could his son and talmid Rav Avraham embrace Sufi/Jewish Mysticism (at least according to Wikipedia at

    4) I am sorry for not getting to you earlier, but I was really busy with school, however when I was talking about comparing Atheism and A"z and you replied rhetorically that are you saying that avodat hashem is utilitarian. Of course that is not what I meant. We aren't supposed to believe either way, however this is nothing to do with utilitarian belief to say that a lack of a belief is more harmful to a false belief. First of all, a belief in nothing is itself a false belief (and that is why I see similarities between it and a"z). However this lie causes people to lose hope (not utilitarian in a sense, but a reality in my opinion). So I am chas v'sholom not advocating either one, but especially in todays day in age narcissism and cynicism sprouted from hateful atheist is Avoda Zora number one in todays world. (Perhaps in yesteryear it was different, perhaps, but not today in the western world).

    5)On a unrelated note, in hilchas talmid torah, the Rambam talk about the mesora and the transmission from one person to the next (ie moshe mesorah torah lezikainim....)anyway one of the people of the chain is Pinchas. The problem is to make the numbers work, Pinchas has to live 400+ years in order to carry the mesora from moshe's time to shmuels time. (I believed the rambam said he taught Eli the cohen gadol, but I am not sure). This seems to put a mystical spin on the mesorah, one of the chain of the link lives a uneard amount of time, how does this shtim with the Rambams viewpoint of naturalizing the Torah.

    6)Isn't it a bit depressing how do different so many gedolim (today and past) were from how we view nature, the Torah, even the Rambam himself. The Torah-true rationalists are such a minority, and sometimes are so at odds with the worldview of some great rabbonim, all I can say its depressing to me.

  10. ZB,

    Your questions require several essays to answer.

    Re 1 - see MN 3:37 -
    It is not inconsistent that a nail of the gallows and the tooth of a fox have been permitted to be used as cures: for these things have been considered in those days as facts established by experiment. They served as cures, in the same manner as the hanging of the peony over a person subject to epileptic fits, or the application of a dog's refuse to the swellings of the throat, and of the vapours of vinegar and marcasite to the swelling of hard tumours. For the Law permits as medicine everything that has been verified by experiment, although it cannot be explained by analogy. The above-named cures are permitted in the same way as the application of purgatives.

    2. I don't have the explanation of every chazal - If I did I could write the sefer Rambam planned to but never did! This one to me is not so difficult. The Talmid scoffed at a midrash . He subsequently understood the metaphor, that is "seeing" the mal'achei Hasharet etc... and appologized to RY.

    3. I have read some of RABH in whatever we have left of his Hamaspik. There is deveikut but no Kabbalah. It is a different type of mysticism than the imaginary leaps of an Abulafia et al... if you want to call it mysticism.

    4. I have to think again about atheism. I saw Rambam equating it with AZ. I am not sure your argument stands up . I will look at it again and again as I am working on an article on AZ.

    5. I have a bigger kashya. Achya Hashiloni was of the yotzei mitzraim as per hakdama to MT. Man shtarbt nisht fun a kashye.

    6. Very. The defensiveness and lack of confidence in "chochmat" hatorah rather than "niflaot" hatorah is enough to make one despondent. It all comes from lack of secular education of these "gedolim".

  11. 1) So then why did his son R' Avraham talk about the Even Techuma he said it did not work, opposite of his fathers opinion it seems. So the Rambam was talking about something he didn't believe worked, or did his son differ from him in the efficacy of this instruments.

    2) So then why was the talmid reduced to a bag of bones, after he realized the error of his ways.
    In reality, I see this chazal as a powerful tale of not taking their words cynically and scoff at it. But b'pashtus, a mystic can possibly look at this gemora and easily look at it literally. Angles literately do physical works, the talmid literately was reduced to a bag of bones, and Rav Yochonon was talking about stones that were bigger then reality - and the kicker was these stones were created by non-physical entities!

    5) So now do we approach the Rambams own words non-literally. Do we do what he says to do with chazal and reinterpret or allegorize. Or these men living hundreds of years is not technically impossible - as in theory it doesn't violate the laws of nature and therefore we just leave it be.

  12. "Please remember the Rabbis were very smart. If something does not make sense is because the literal reading is not what they meant!"

    That's circular reasoning.

  13. ZB

    1 - The way I read Rambam is that the Rabbis permitted because they thought it worked not as "spiritual" things but as a yet unknown scientific physical reason. Had the Rabbis known it has no physical effect they would not have allowed it.

    2 - You can chose to take it literally including the bag of bones or you can understand it all as an allegory. I don't see the problem.

    5 - I don't know what Rambam meant as I don't know many others. My experience has been that what seemed very difficult at one time, a few days later all of a sudden became clear like day. I will be mitpalel that I will understanfd it one day. It does not change what is clearly Rambam's mehalech.

  14. >That's circular reasoning.

    Is it?