Judaism and the Modern Attitude to Homosexuality
JIFGA Overview: Introduction
The Seven Noahide Laws: A Blueprint for a Better World
The Jewish Institute for Global Awareness (JIFGA) teaches that by understanding, internalizing and following a set of Divinely-ordained moral imperatives and universal ethics known as the Seven Noahide Laws, the world can produce more just societies, which are better able to receive and retain G-d’s** Presence. We seek to inspire our fellow human beings, because we are all descendants of Noah who, together with his family, is described in the Hebrew Bible as the survivor of The Flood and who thus became the ancestor of all of humanity. However, not only do we seek to inspire everyone who follows the Abrahamic religions (Jews, Christians, and Muslims) to follow these Noahide laws but also those of every race, color, or creed.
Our foundation is rooted in Biblical principles and expresses a Biblical world-view. Some may refer to this code as representative of a “Judeo-Christian” worldview because it includes the moral values initially set forth in the Hebrew Bible (the Torah) and shared by the Christian traditions that historically shaped much of the western world. Given to us by G-d at the dawn of history, (as recounted in the book of Genesis and documented in the Talmud, Sanhedrin 56a-b -- the Oral Law), these seven principles, if followed, permit us to establish a harmonious world in which diverse peoples can live together peacefully.
JIFGA seeks to globally provide humanity with greater awareness of the existence of these universal values, principles that are dependent upon Biblical teachings. These are root ethical values that Jews, Christians and Muslims, who represent more than 50% of the world’s population, can act upon within their own religious traditions. The great Eastern religions, Hinduism and Buddhism, also have, at their root, a primordial link to these core values. In fact, going back to Noah, these values are part of a legacy for all humanity.
Jews Have a Special Obligation to Spread Knowledge of the Noahide Laws
Orthodox Jewish tradition states that these moral imperatives were given by G-d as a binding Code of Conduct for the children of Noah, i.e., for all of humanity; further, that Jews (as the original recipients of the tradition from Sinai) are obligated to teach people about the Code's existence and to encourage them to observe these laws.
Maimonides (1138-1204), a great rabbinic sage, said, ‘Moses, our teacher, instructed the Jewish people, having been authorized from the mouth of G-d, to bring all of the inhabitants of the world to observe the commandments given to the children of Noach [Noah]. It is the Jew’s duty to see to it that all peoples lead the righteous and decent life which comes from compliance with G-d’s Laws.”
Rabbi Daniel Levy currently from the United Kingdom explains: “The Jew has a crucial role to play. He cannot be a by-stander remaining aloof from the world’s conduct.”
And Rabbi Menachem Schneerson, the revered deceased leader of the world-wide Chabad movement, in urging Jews to inform non-Jews about the Noahide Code of Conduct, said, “Every Jew has the obligation to ensure that all the peoples of the world observe the Seven Noahide Laws. The religious tolerance of today, and the trend towards greater freedom, gives us the unique opportunity to enhance widespread observance of these laws.”
Even though G-d charged the Children of Israel to serve as His "Light unto the nations" (Isaiah 49:6) at Mount Sinai, historical circumstances did not permit us to publicize Noahide laws, also reiterated at Sinai, until the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Schneerson, revived this lost tradition in the early 1980s in an effort to prepare the world for a new era. Recent rabbinical support from a group of Modern Orthodox rabbis reaffirm “the fundamental ethical obligations that all people have before G-d [as] … taught [by Judaism] through the universal Noahide covenant.”
The Jewish Institute for Global Awareness, working with people of all three of the Abrahamic faiths, as well as any individual who has a potential affinity with these basic values, was thus formed to take upon itself this obligation by spreading awareness of the content of these commandments and to encourage adherence to them.
Any non-Jew who adheres to these seven Biblical Laws, and does so because they were commanded to Moses as part of the general revelation at Sinai, is considered a “righteous gentile” in G-d’s eyes and is thus assured of a place in the world to come (Olam Haba) -- the ultimate reward for the righteous. There is no imperative for such a person to become a Jew and Jews are mandated not to prostelyze religious conversion to Judaism but simply to make known to all of humanity the laws which humanity in general is commanded to follow.
- Christianity: Most Christian believers today see these 7 Noahide Laws as compatible with the main ethical tenets of their faith and advocate adhering to its Code of Conduct. The original intention of Jesus (the Nazarene) and Paul (Saul of Tarsus), according to the historical research of Rabbi Jacob Emden (1697-1776), was to convert non-Jews to the observance of the Seven Noahide Laws. Indeed, early Christian references to the essence of the Noahide Laws as a Code of Conduct is mentioned in the first century CE, Acts 15:1-31 when Paul agreed to admit gentiles into the Christian Church only after they accepted the substance of these principles. The New Testament, followed by Christians, incorporated the universal values of the Noahide Laws which in turn are part of the Old Testament that G-d gave at Mt. Sinai for all of humanity.
- Islam: Because Noah is recognized as a prophet in the Koran, there is Muslim support for and compliance with the spread of the Seven Noahide Laws. This fact is evidenced by its specific acceptance by many Muslim leaders. For example, the Mayors of several Israeli Arab communities such as the Mayor of the Galilean City of Shefa-Amar (Shfaram) and the Abu Gosh Mayor (Salim Jaber), both of whom signed a declaration in 2004 committing to establish a more humane world by adopting the values of the seven Noahide Laws. Mohammed VI, the King of Morocco, has expressed the view in 2012 that these values truly unite civilizations. The spiritual leader of the Druze community in Israel, Sheikh Mowafak Tarif (in 2004) likewise recognized these seven principles as fundamental values of society. And, Sheikh Abdul Hadi Palazzi, a leader of the Italian Muslim Assembly, unequivocally declared in 2006, “Islamic law holds within it the seven laws of Noah and can be taught correctly to the Muslims of the world.” It is hoped that acceptance of these common moral values can end the centuries old animosity between Muslims and Jews.
Belief in G-d and His Moral Values Essential
In order to transcend our innate selfishness and the subjectivity of our intellects, a key aspect of this universal moral code is an acknowledgement that society must be predicated on a belief in G-d. If we are to follow His commandments, we must recognize the existence of a Higher Power, one to whom we are responsible for our actions. Morality should not be altered to suit one’s personal whims or for his/her social convenience. Human beings cannot become the sole arbiters of right and wrong. If we do so, then "right" and “wrong” become relative rather than absolute. When this occurs, the “politically correct” view enforces one group’s standards, regardless of the consequences it may have to others who may disagree. On the other hand, G-d’s commandments as to what is “right” and what is “wrong” provide us with universal moral absolutes which have withstood the test of time over millennia.
Today’s world has lost touch with these moral absolutes and thus we find ourselves living in a time of great moral and social drift – without an objective or universal moral anchor. We need to rediscover these timeless laws and incorporate them into our daily lives, thereby enabling us, based upon G-d’s commandments, to structure an ethical code of conduct for human existence. By doing so, we can not only unify different cultures, societies, and traditions but also reverse the course of moral decay that is evident in western civilization.
Connection to the Ten Commandments
There is a clear connection between the seven Laws of Noah which were commanded to Noah sixteen generations earlier than the Ten Commandments which were given at Mt. Sinai to Moses as part of the Torah (Hebrew Bible) as an eternal inheritance (Deut. 33:4). At a minimum, five out of the Ten Commandments are specifically referenced in the Seven Noahide laws while the other five are implicitly included in the more generalized Seven Noahide laws, either through inference or by interpretation.
Rabbi Dr. Shimon Dovid Cowen, founder and director of the Institute for Judaism and Civilization in Melbourne, Australia explains that both the Seven Laws of Noah and the Ten Commandments are at the core of a revelation communicated to Moses in its totality in the Five Books of Moses. “This [revelation] contained altogether 620 commandments, comprised of 613 commandments addressed to the Jewish people and seven commandments, the Noahide laws, addressed to humanity.” While the universal part of the revelation—the Noahide laws—was communicated to humanity prior to Sinai, its reiteration in the Sinai revelation fortifies the importance of Noahide law and the social order it commands.
Drawing upon the ancient Jewish tradition of gematria which assigns a number to each letter of the Hebrew alphabet in order to help us understand hidden meanings of words and phrases as well as capturing the spiritual association or connection between words and spiritual concepts, Rabbi Dr. Cowen points out the symbolism of “the fact that the Hebrew text of the Ten Commandments contained 620 letters,” precisely the same number of total commandments (613 plus 7) revealed at Mt. Sinai to the world, thereby evidencing G-d’s intent to connect the seven laws of Noah with the Ten Commandments.
Government Leaders Encourage Adherence to the Seven Noahide Laws
The universality of these principles and global import was recognized in 1982 by President Ronald Reagan when he spoke of “the eternal validity of the Seven Noahide Laws [as] a moral code for all of us regardless of religious faith” (Proclamation on the National Day of Reflection, April 4, 1982).
Seven years later, in 1989, President George H.W. Bush not only proclaimed that these “Biblical values are the foundation for civilized society” but he also recognized that “A society that fails to recognize or adhere to them cannot endure.”
He understood how these “principles of moral and ethical conduct that have formed the basis for all civilizations comes to us, in part, from the centuries old Seven Noahide Laws.” And, in doing so, he noted their origins: “The Noahide Laws are actually seven commandments given to man by G-d, as recorded in the Old Testament. …” (Proclamation 5956-Education Day, USA 1989 and 1990, 102 Stat. 3016, April 14, 1989)
Both the Senate and the House of Representatives of the United States Congress in 1991, on a bipartisan basis, further recognized how this “historical tradition of ethical values and principles…upon which our great Nation was founded … have been the bedrock of society from the dawn of civilization, when they were known as the Seven Noahide Laws.” The American Congress understood how “the most recent weakening of these principles … has resulted in crises that beleaguer and threaten the fabric of civilized society.” Thus, they warned us that “without these ethical values and principles the edifice of civilization stands in serious peril of returning to chaos.” (Public Law 102-14, 102d Congress, 1st session, H.J. Res. 104)
Other world leaders have joined the call for further observance and knowledge of these laws. For example, Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Union wrote (in July, 2014) that he seeks greater “dissemination of the universal values known as the Noahide laws” and Major General Michael Jeffery, Governor General of Australia, lamenting family breakdowns and drug and alcohol abuse in modern society in a 2008 letter wrote that he believed that observing the fundamental values of the Noahide Laws can be an antidote to such ills of society.
We only need to look at the havoc in which we find ourselves today in order to recognize the validity of these truthful assertions.
Specifics of the Seven Laws of Noah
So what are these seven Laws of Noah? Depending upon the source utilized to ascertain these laws, the exact order--but not the substance--may vary somewhat.
ONE: Prohibition of Idolatry: by being ever mindful and aware of G-d’s Presence. We are to focus on the monotheistic concept of the unity of G-d and negate what is the opposite of a belief in G-d, i.e. idolatry of any sort. By having knowledge of G-d, we are able to imitate His G-dly qualities.
TWO: Reverence for G-d: includes a prohibition of blasphemy against G-d’s holy Name (the ultimate irreverence for G-d) and by positive concepts of serving G-d by revering Him in our speech and respecting His sacred texts. Likewise, since every human being is created in the image of G-d, he or she must be treated with respect and honor. In particular, this respect for G-d’s image within us is associated with honoring one’s parents, honoring one’s own words, being careful not to lie, and exercising the G-d given free will of humans, thus enabling us to choose ethical responses to life’s situations.
THREE: Prohibition of Homicide: not to kill [physical harm is included in the prohibition of theft – theft and material harm] a human being. As required by respect for the sanctity of human life, suicide, assisting suicide, elective abortion, and euthanasia are forbidden. By engaging in these acts, we metaphorically lessen G-d, for humans were created in the image of G-d. Phrased positively, this law requires us to respect human life.
FOUR: Prohibition of Theft/Robbery: includes not only stealing, lying, or cheating but extends to all kinds of harm to person or property. Overall affirmative respect for another’s personhood, rights and property are included.
FIVE: Prohibiting Sexual Deviations/Misconduct: We are commanded to forever protect and uphold the family unit by not committing any acts of sexual immorality (adultery, incest, bestiality, homosexuality, sexual abuse) as well as not engaging in promiscuous behaviors nor engaging in castration, pornography, and masturbation. It also includes the positive aspects of strengthening natural marriages and procreating. The sanctity of natural marriage reflects the oneness of G-d and his creations.
SIX: A Dietary Law Prohibition: not to eat flesh taken from an animal while still alive – is part of a broader prohibition on gratuitous cruelty to animals; we are also enjoined not to be heedlessly wasteful or unnecessarily destructive to G-d’s physical creation.
SEVEN: Create a Fair and Righteous Judicial System: to enforce the other six laws and all other laws consistent with them.
**It is traditional among many Jews, rather than spelling out the full word for the Supreme Being, to substitute the letters “G-d,” thereby treating G-d’s name with reverence and providing respect to Him as the Supreme Being. By doing so, we can erase or dispose of the writing without disrespecting Him or symbolically destroying His name.
FALLING MADLY IN BED
[Introduction from Elaine Silodor Berk and Arthur Goldberg, JONAH's Co-Directors: The following article is an E-mail we received that contains valuable insights from two men who were actively involved in a gay lifestyle but who ultimately chose to leave that lifestyle. The dialogue below reflects what these men see as the differences between their former existence as active gay-identified men and their new found lives as men who are growing out of unwanted same-sex sexual attractions (SSA).
Based upon reports from several others in recovery programs, we believe these sentiments (as set forth in their dialogue) reflect the majority of men who are unhappy feeling or experiencing SSA. Those who are happy being gay may not share their feelings. However, since we rarely hear first-hand voices of those with unwanted SSA, we believe that the pain and sexual confusion expressed in this article needs to be heard. Permission was granted by Roger to reprint his E-mail as well as the conversation he had with his friend. Roger's intent in granting permission is to prevent others from falling into the traps that he and his friends had previously fallen into.]
Having been on homosexual web sites and forums for a while, I find a tendency by those still in the lifestyle to romanticize their actions. This applies whether a man has been in the lifestyle, or has just had an unwanted same sex sexualized attraction. The common refrain is, "if I just had a man that would love me like I need, then I would be OK and be satisfied ... and, my masculine needs would be met and affirmed."
Well. . . in talking with other guys who were in the lifestyle and who subsequently abandoned it due to actually realizing the nature of it, I thought it useful to share some observations with those of you who might still harbor fantasies of about the "joys" of a homosexual lifestyle and what the reality might be like. Now, there may be exceptions, but I sincerely doubt it because there is a great deal of denial and wishful thinking in the homosexual thought processes.
First of all, most homosexual relationships start by two guys meeting, being physically attracted, or just being horny, then falling madly in bed with each other. This can be minutes, hours, or a day or two after they meet. If they date, usually they will end up in bed, or in a car, or a hallway, alley, or even in bushes, etc. Usually this is a one night stand where they simply each use each other to masturbate themselves to climax and achieve an erotic high and then tell themselves it is love. If they do decide to continue the relationship, it almost always ends up essentially being a series of one night stands with the same person until the novelty is gone. Then it is onto the next one night stand or series of one night stands.
If by some strange twist of fate or pheromones, these two guys become a couple, it is seldom monogamous. I know almost no sexually monogamous homosexual couples. Even if they choose to be faithful to each other, they will not be giving themselves to each other like God designed a man and woman to do, but rather will still be essentially using each other's body as a vehicle for masturbation. Homosexual sex is an act of taking - not an act of giving.
My friend "S" and I were talking about dating with our present girlfriends, which is something totally new to him, but not to me. The main difference "S" felt in this relationship is his desire to give, to please, and to cherish without regard to what he might get from it. In doing so he is receiving much more satisfaction than he ever thought was possible in a relationship, because in his other relationships with his boyfriends he always felt like he was taking something, instead of giving. To "S", the sex act was more like a rape than true love-making, even though those words were never used.
I too felt the same thing in my relationship with "D" (a former boyfriend). While I thought I really cared for him, I recognized I was entering into the sexual act for what I could get, not for what I could give. If he was pleasured, I was happy, but it certainly was not a requirement for me.
Below is some of our conversation . I believe it is most informative and have been granted permission to share it with you. I quote:
- S: "I lived with him for so long (in gay terms), but now I wonder how I did that. I mean in reality, there was NO love in that relationship, it was narcissistic and it was all about what I or he could get from each other."
- R: "Yes indeed, what D and I thought was love was also something much baser.
- S: "YES! and now with my girlfriend, it's all about me giving of myself to her. I offer myself to her in a fully loving way, so our relationship isn't about me or my 'needs' at all. Rather it is about my desire to make her happy."
- R: "And oddly, by giving, we receive all that we previously felt we simply were grasping for in our former gay lives. This is so much more satisfying."
- S: "Yeah it's like it happens in a way where it's just natural and automatic. With [my former BF], I felt like I was always sneaking around, always trying to get something more out of it, you know?"
- R: "Yes, and you had to pull it out of the relationship because it was unnatural."
- S: "Good point. I guess it's a kind of emotional and sexual rape because we're stealing from the other."
- R: "And inside of us, we can feel that we are stealing something and we know we should not be having to do that. It is instinct."
- S: "Yes, I think maybe that's what those deep unsatisfying feelings of wrongness and dirtiness are that we felt after the sex, you know what I mean?"
- R: "Yeah, we are taking, when instincts and souls tells us we should be giving instead."
- S: "Maybe that's why both guys involved are so insecure about the relationship and why we become so possessive, because both guys feel the relationship is on shaky ground?"
- R: "Gay relationships are always on shaky ground. My boyfriends knew how we met. They knew that if I would pick him up (or he picked me up) and we immediately had sex, I would be just as susceptible to doing that with someone else. We did not date, or get to know each other or the other's families like a real couple. We just met, had sex, and left for home."
- S: "Do you think ANY homosexual couples get to know each other, truly?"
- R: "All the ones I know met, were physically attracted, thought the other guy was "hot" and thus fell madly in bed together and then started trying to salvage their dignity with dating."
- S: "Oh man, I love that expression - fell madly in bed - so, so, so accurate, and the post sex, after that first encounter, is all just downhill. All the dating after is an attempt to back pedal that fails totally."
- R: "I think so. There is immediate regret and maybe some wishful thinking that even though it started out as more or less a mutual MB with each other's body, that maybe it might be someone I can love??"
- S: "Yeah it's like at that point that the wishful thinking starts. Saying to yourself, this is more than just sex, right??? Oh please, let this be more than just a one night stand. And the fact that we're in a relationship all of a sudden is like a continual on-going accident when in reality what we are basically dealing with is a long string of one night stands with the same person."
- R: "Oh, that is a good description, I like that."
- S: "I spoke with "X" the other day, he was also in the lifestyle (like both of us) and some of what he said ties right into what you and and I went through, too. He connected with our observations here."
- R: "Cool, I do not know him but I am glad there are more guys like us."
- S: "Yes, he was very active in the lifestyle in the late 80's and 90's, activist type, "out and proud" and all that crap, but realized how empty it was and therefore got out of it a while ago. He has done a lot of work to help others come out of the lifestyle. He was talking about what gay sex really is, and how the word sex shouldn't even really be applied because sex involves two people interacting with each other in a real way."
- R: "Good point."
- S: "MB is self love and isn't that what homosexuality is essentially?"
So from a couple of guys who have really been there, done that, and looked at our relationships with other men, this is what we have concluded. Homosexuality is not what it is advertised to be. It never was and it never will be. It is selfish and ego-centric and therefore doomed to die an unpleasant death. And it will take any of us down with it if we chose to go there.
(Source: http://www.jonahweb.org/article.php?secId=315. Used with permission)
Ha Rakevet Street 27