May 19, 2006

by Reb Yudel
Rabbis Soloveichik and Weinreb prop up Dobson and Rove

The Senate -- you know, the legislative body that can't bother holding oversight hearings over presidential misconduct when it doesn't involve a penis -- is scheduled to debate a "Marriage Protection Amendment" to the US Constitution next month. Regardless of whether such an amendment would be any more effective than the ones currently on the books and ignored by the administration and the Republican Congress -- this is an admittedly political ploy, designed to fire up the Evangelicals in support of the party that has stood in goosestep with the least popular president in decades, and the worst two-term president ever.

So it's worth noting that two would-be Orthodox communal luminaries have signed on to the Religious Coalition for Marriage:
Rabbi Meir Soloveichik
Associate Rabbi, Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun of Manhattan, NY

Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb
Executive Vice President, Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America
IMNSHO, signing up with those who would make America a Christian nation is not just bad politics -- it's a hilul hashem and a sign of ignorance.

The Jewish arguments for the amendment are so thin that, well, the page on the website where they would go is still blank.

In fact, I believe that a strong case can be made that in signing this petition, the rabbis have broken the letter and spirit of Rav Soloveitchik's z'l psak against interfaith ecumenical dialogue.

I'll make that argument another time. Meanwhile, here is a discussion on the topic I conducted over at the Hirhurim blog (translations from yeshivish added post facto). Note how at the end of the conversation, with the going gets rough, the erstwhile frum conservative I debate.... turns on the television!
It is indeed interesting to see that erstwhile rabbis have signed up with Karl Rove's summer agenda to rally the gay-bashing base for the fall elections.

Really: What part of m'dvar sheker tirhak [the Biblical command: Stay far away from a false thing] don't they understand?
Larry Yudelson 

I guess the same part of "toevah" ["abomination"] that you seem to have a problem with.

Nachum, You mean, like the shrimp industry which is funded with our tax dollars?

Or do you mean like the Sodomy laws (which are *not* part of Rove's current initiative) which behavior between man and wife which may be mutar [permitted] and, in fact, mitzuveh [commanded] under certain circumstances?

Has the OU's silence until now meant that they accept the American legal system's recognition of marriage between kohen and giyuret [divorcee], or between yisrael and moabi?

Does the alliance with the Catholic Church mean they accept the notion that marriage is b'dieved, that Beit Hillel was wrong about divorce, and that In Vitro Fertilization is likewise a sin?

Your flaming continues to offend decency, sir.

No doubt, the Rabbis side with marriage because it is a central Jewish tenet and NOT to prop up "Dobson and Rove" (as if there is something wrong with Dobson and Rove in the first place.) Indeed, one might argue against everything you say based upon the fact that you are siding with felons, Jew-haters and degereates. It is better and more civil to simply indicate that you hold bad beliefs and express why you are wrong.

Your contention that a Jew cannot possibly agree with a Christian and say so publicly is quite farcical. Christians are supposed to agree with Jews since they have taken our Torah as part of their own doctrine.

If Jews and Christians cannot agree about freedom of religious expression, the primacy of marriage in our society, and God as creator--they are neither Jews nor Christians. This kind of agreement riles you quite a bit and I wish you would slow down and simply say straight up why these easy matters of agreement make you so crazy? Please stop saying that one must accept re-defining marriage as a sacred union between and man and a woman because everyone must be in opposition to a very nice Christian theologian or a highly regarded assistant to the President of the United States. Doesn't it seem better for you to argue that re-defining marriage is a positive act since it will help....... (you fill in the blank, please.

Lastly, it is rude to engage people in conversation and then fail to answer. Isn't it better to say "I thank you for taking time to engage me in conversation but I decline to speak with you...." And if you have neither the will nor the arguments to address people you have so offended, why do you persist with such opposition to normal Jewish beliefs and honest Jews such as Rabbi Soloveichik.

Do you really expect any other Jew in America to believe that you would address a man as fine as Rabbi Soloveichik and tell him to his face that he is wrong about Judaism's stand concerning marriage and he is somehow wrong about elevating homosexual relationships as equivalent to the male/female bond?

As I have said before, you seem to be willing to say almost anything, no matter how radical and off the mark, to justify your hatred against Republicans, Christians and the Jews who have common cause with Republicans or Christians.

Is it not better to be less involved with hate and more involved with a positive approach to moral and public policy issues?

Posted by: David N. Friedman at May 20, 2006 10:08 PM

conservative judaism is a huge hilul Hashem!!!!

Posted by: Meir at May 21, 2006 1:21 PM

It saddens me to see fellow members of the orthodox community so horribly misconstrue your objection to the actions of Rabbis Weinrib and Soloveichick.
Both admittedly fine men are mistaken in their approach because they fail to understand, as does Mr. Friedman in the above comment, that freedom of religion requires us to withold from using our religious values to shape American law, even where it means as a society we will allow things the Torah might forbid.
I do not know when the traditional Jewish support for separation of church and state started to whither, but I can assure you it is born of a mistaken assumption of the stability and long range success of the Jewish community in the U.S.

Posted by: Jordan Hirsch at May 21, 2006 3:41 PM

It saddens me to see fellow members of the orthodox community so horribly misconstrue your objection to the actions of Rabbis Weinrib and Soloveichick.
Both admittedly fine men are mistaken in their approach because they fail to understand, as does Mr. Friedman in the above comment, that freedom of religion requires us to withold from using our religious values to shape American law, even where it means as a society we will allow things the Torah might forbid.
I do not know when the traditional Jewish support for separation of church and state started to whither, but I can assure you it is born of a mistaken assumption of the stability and long range success of the Jewish community in the U.S.

Posted by: Jordan Hirsch at May 21, 2006 3:41 PM

Jordan Hirsch believes that freedom of religion "requires us to withhold using our religious values..."

First, Jordan wants to lecture Rabbi Soloveichik and Rabbi Weinreb (who together REPRESENT a huge part of our community)that they are "mistaken" and they "fail to understand..." He says this without giving anyone any sense as to why he has superior knowledge and why Jews should abandon a central tenet.

Indeed, I believe I have a greater understanding than Rabbi David Saperstein who uses his religious freedom to appear in front of the US Congress to tell them that our Torah has a specific application for CAFE standards on American automobiles. When it is my turn to criticize, I do not tell David Saperstein that he should not speak and I would like to know if Jodan believes that if Rabbi Soloveichik should not speak, please state for the record that he believes David Saperstein should also not speak. It is all too easy to understand the difference between Judaism weighing on on moral matters--since this is what Judaism is supposed to do. It is quite another to pervert our holy Torah to weigh in on whether it is good or bad that our automobiles should be heavier or lighter, more or less fuel efficient.

It is truly frightening if Jordan wishes to say that as Jews, what the first amendment is all about is to be silent. What freedom means is that we are free to speak and America is a great nation because they have always listened very carefully to the Jews. The influence of the Torah was far greater specifically when separation of church and state was not at all in evidence. It is beyond ironic that the Jews are here to complain in post 1960's America that there are laws honoring the Sabbath and people wish to make a non-denominational prayer in the schools. How dreadful!!! Prayer and the Sabbath!! Worse, the law could mandate sexual propriety and even laws against property!!

Can it really be a problem for the Jews if our laws reflect Jewish norms and values?

We have forgotten that the same freedom any American has to express themselves also gives the Jews such a freedom. This freedom is something unprecedented in Jewish history and in response to this fantastic state of affairs, we have Jews like Jordan complaining that there is such a right and mandating that despite the right, we must pointedly remain silent. Perhaps Jordan wants to make sure the Jews shut up so we can be consistent when we go to court to stuff the mouths of Christian children wishing to sing a holday song.

All of this is tangential to the horror put forward by Larry Y and I wish he would mount some defense of his words on his own blog.

Posted by: David N. Friedman at May 22, 2006 1:45 PM


A couple of points.

Would I be willing to tell Meir Soloveichik that he's wrong? Sure. I'm working on a longer paper, expanding on the points I made with deliberately hasty informality in my exchange of posts with Nachum.

Marriage a central tenet of Judaism? Tell me, sir: Where is that written?

It's clear from the Talmud (Kiddushin 29b-30a) that early marriage is advisable for aspiring Talmud students; the recommended age (ad loc) is 14. (Lamentably, New York State law requires that 14- and 15-year-olds must receive court as well as parental approval before marriage; I wonder whether that judicial imposition on religious freedom is related to the sad fact that in 2003, only 8 men 16 or younger married in New York State, the very capital of American Torah scholarship.)

The Mishnah in tractate Kiddushin treats marriage as an important social institution, along with real estate law and liens; laws of non-real estate commerce; and the details of chattel slavery and indentures servitude. Accordingly, one who really wants to establish America accordign to God's will, as understood by Jewish tradition, should probably spend less time trying to amend the consitution, and more with rewriting the Uniform Commercial Code.

More importantly, I am very bothered by the willingness to apparently sign on to a set of Christian theological principles regarding marriage, where there are so many other points of disagreement regarding marriage, divorce, and "abominations" enumerated in Leviticus, several of which I alluded to above. You have yet to engage me on those points of my argument.

Regarding felons: I'm not aware of any felons whose work underlie our present, un-amended Constitution; however, Rabbi Daniel Lapin, famous friend-of-felon Jack Abramoff cosigned the letter along with the rabbis I cited above.

As to hate: My first reaction would be to point you to the various hate-filled diatribes that fill bookstore and library shelves, using total hatred to promote the Republican Agenda. But instead, let me ask: What makes you so sure that hatred is a sin? I know one rabbi who in fact promotes the virtue of hate!

Posted by: Reb Yudel at May 22, 2006 2:21 PM

According to all the folks involved, isn't this a theological matter of faith, which the Rav forbids us to engage in (presumably either in dispute or in agreement) with those of other faiths?

Posted by: tzvee at May 23, 2006 1:52 PM


Marriage is not a matter of theology in the context discussed. It is a public policy debate and is an institution that has always been regulated by the government. It makes a difference for the government if marriage is helped or harmed and many people have felt motivated to help strengthen marriage.

I agree and this is why the Rabbis in this case are acting in concert with others. The specific religious dimensions of marriage are not at issue. The issue is whether or not marriage in general should be devalued and re-defined. If marriage is changed, all marriages are altered in the bargain.

Jews have a unique vision and it is correct to not debate or even blend Jewish views with those of Christians or Muslims. However, we live in the same boat and if there is a leak in the boat, it is of interest to us to help the problem.

We can forcefully stand up for marriage and take the lead in stopping homosexual marriage without disclosing the particulars about how marriage works in Judaism. My Jewish marriage is enhanced when my non-Jewish neighbors have long-lasting monogomous, heterosexual unions. Our nation is hurt by all the negative influences that harm marriages.

Posted by: David N. Friedman at May 24, 2006 10:34 PM

Larry, you question whether or not marriage is a central tenet in Judaism. Actually, somehow, you wish to DISPUTE that marriage is a central tenet of Judaism. This is yet another classic example of an intelligent liberal being forced to make absurd arguments. You go on, in some fantasy that you could be right, to invoke a tractate of the Talmud to suggest that this part of the Talmud treats details of indentured servitude, details of real property and non-real property and other minor matters with equal or greater significance.

I challenge you to go to your Rabbi and suggest to him that Jewish marriage is of similar or lesser value than the details of chattel slavery or liens. Do you really need me to defend the notion that marriage is a central pillar of Jewish life? If you can find me even one Jewish man who would claim that his marriage and family is less than vital, it would be one in a million.

Without marriage, Judaism could not prosper or be transmitted to the next generation. Jews must marry because this is the key to a full Jewish life. "No man without a wife, neither a woman without a husband, nor both of them without God" (Genesis Rabah 8:9)

Regarding my challenge to you to stop hating your political opponents, like David Klinghoffer or Karl Rove, you refuse to heed. Instead, you direct me to Meir Soloveichik's correct logic in "The Virtue of Hate." Of course, it is virtuous to hate evil--it is a requirement in Judaism! You ignore Solveichik's entire thesis and refuse to see that political opponents are not evil, Larry. There is simply nothing in David Klinghoffer or Karl Rove that should bring you to hate. It is one thing to suggest that a political opponent is off the mark, un-educated, missing the point,uninformed, morally warped, intentionally obtuse or holds the wrong priorities. Please--- David Klinghoffer is not evil--he is a fine Jew and you can agree or disagree with his politics. If you disagree with him, this does not make him evil any more than it makes you evil since I disagree with you.

I can, however, understand your confusion since your friends are very quick to call Pres. George Bush evil and a "Hitler." This is so beyond the pale it defies all reason. It is raw, unfiltered rage and it has nothing to do with reality. George Bush is so completely UNLIKE evil--he is perhaps the least evil President to ever serve in office and I say this as someone who is a big critic of his leadership.

Simply because Michael Moore, Al Gore and Move and so much of the Left-wing is so loaded with hate does not mean that you must adopt a similar pose.

Posted by: David N. Friedman at May 24, 2006 11:37 PM

The question is not whether my marriage is fundamental to my life; the questions are whether (a) the Jewish view of marriage is fundamental to Judaism, (b) the Jewish view of marriage is fundamental to my marriage, and (c) whether anyone else's view of marriage, or actual implementation of marriage, has any relevance to my marriage.

In fact, I think my marriage is more threatened by the pro-celibacy propaganda of some of the Christian allies of Rabbis Weinreb and Soloveichik than it is by the pro-domesticity propaganda of, say, Andrew Sullivan.

Posted by: Reb Yudel at May 24, 2006 11:50 PM

Regarding the mitzvah of hating Karl Rove, I refer you to this earlier post on the topic.

Posted by: Reb Yudel at May 24, 2006 11:53 PM

Your response to your lashon hora against David Klinghoffer and the Christian leader Dobson is to defend lashon hora against Karl Rove as a moral good and for a higher moral purpose.

Yet again, there is no Rabbi that could possibly agree with such a statement and even if you fail to apologize for what you have said about David Klinghoffer, you are proud of your attacks against Karl Rove, as if there is something evil about Karl Rove.

I read your link--what is the point? Karl Rove is surely a mild-mannered guy who refuses to even support the President's poicies with any kind of conviction. As a political operative, he is talented and qualified and has a proven track record of success. He is in no way a dirty campaigner. With all that the scandals in the past 30 years perpetrated by Democrats, there is simply no contest if you wish to make the comparison. Nixon, no conservative, was not clean and this is the result of beating the Left too badly. If we can agree that in the world of politics, there are no players who do not wish to win--this is surely an easy point of agreeement.

Demonizing Karl Rove is pointless since he is not at all notorious and we have just lived through the Clinton years and their tactics.

What on earth is the higher purpose for smearing Karl Rove? No doubt, you do not like him (although I have no distaste for someone like Jimmy Carville who has tasted scandal many times)--Carville is simply a pathetic figure not worthy of anger and surely not hate.

You refuse to offer any kind of explanation as to why you have such venom over political parties that are very similar. Bush is almost exactly the same as JFK--although clearly much cleaner and without the personal scandals. He is not a conservative.

If you cannot dump your hatred, dialogue and common ground is not possible.

Posted by: David N. Friedman at May 25, 2006 6:47 PM

David, you asked me "to stop hating [my] political opponents, like David Klinghoffer or Karl Rove". I proceeded to link to a discussion of Karl Rov, which you seem not to have read. From the post linked above come these paragraphs from the Atlantic Monthly, concerning the battle waged by Rove against an Alabama judge named Kennedy:

When his term on the court ended, he chose not to run for re-election. I later learned another reason why. Kennedy had spent years on the bench as a juvenile and family-court judge, during which time he had developed a strong interest in aiding abused children. In the early 1980s he had helped to start the Children's Trust Fund of Alabama, and he later established the Corporate Foundation for Children, a private, nonprofit organization. At the time of the race he had just served a term as president of the National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect.

One of Rove's signature tactics is to attack an opponent on the very front that seems unassailable. Kennedy was no exception.

Some of Kennedy's campaign commercials touted his volunteer work, including one that showed him holding hands with children.

"We were trying to counter the positives from that ad," a former Rove staffer told me, explaining that some within the See camp initiated a whisper campaign that Kennedy was a pedophile.

"It was our standard practice to use the University of Alabama Law School to disseminate whisper-campaign information," the staffer went on. "That was a major device we used for the transmission of this stuff. The students at the law school are from all over the state, and that's one of the ways that Karl got the information out--he knew the law students would take it back to their home towns and it would get out."

This would create the impression that the lie was in fact common knowledge across the state.

"What Rove does," says Joe Perkins, "is try to make something so bad for a family that the candidate will not subject the family to the hardship. Mark is not your typical Alabama macho, beer-drinkin', tobacco-chewin', pickup-drivin' kind of guy. He is a small, well-groomed, well-educated family man, and what they tried to do was make him look like a homosexual pedophile. That was really, really hard to take."

Painting someone as a pedophile to win a judicial race? Seriously, what's not to hate?

Incidentally, this is the second time you claim I can't find a rabbi to agree with my position. Let's say I can... then what?

Posted by: Reb Yudel at May 25, 2006 7:02 PM

I told you I read the piece. I have no basis for confirming it and there is nothing in the article that indicts Karl Rove. The fact that someone wants to attribute a "whispering campaign" to Rove does not mean that it was Rove's plan. All political operatives have dirty linen, some more than others. Karl Rove has very little and I must ask you if you have ever worked on a political campaign?

You are simply not a fair observer. Please judge people based upon the totality of their work over time. A man, like Jack Abramoff, can be solid and then blow it all in a short period of time. For poor Jack, he will sadly be judged very harshly for a few indiscretions. The Clintons, by contrast, act with contempt and in a dishonest manner for decades and they pay no price. This is where some righteous indignatiion is in order. It is all too easy to jump on Abramoff, whose crimes are not really that bad.

I am asking you to judge people fairly and with at least a bit of integrity. 30 years ago, I was a liberal so I know how one must feel to think like you. I have long since grown up.

My point that your beliefs are way out of the norm is not contradicted if some Rabbi agrees with you. It is contradicted if you show that your beliefs are normative, which they are not.

Posted by: David N. Friedman at May 25, 2006 9:53 PM

I don't know what "normative" means in this context. I understand the Mishna to be a normative document; I understand the Talmud to be a normative document.

You still haven't pointed me to any normative rabbinic text which indicates not only that marriage is a good thing, which I'm not denying, but that it is eithe ra central tenet of Judaism, or that Jewish marriages are threatened by Andy Sullivan marrying his boyfriend.

The Kiddushin passage (29b)raises an interesting question that I believe is relevant. Can one be a "great man" if one is single? R' Hisda and R' Hunna disagree, so one cannot disqualify joint operation with Catholic priest on that basis alone -- but to proclaim the importance of marriage with a bunch of celibates is, at the least, a bit odd.

Posted by: Reb Yudel at May 25, 2006 10:07 PM

Regarding your point about marriage, the fact remains that you have claimed that marriage is not a fundamental tenet in Judaism. I would be pleased if you reconsidered your words and offered a retraction.

Now, you dance away a bit and spin the question. 1) you ask whether or not the Jewish view of marriage is fundamental to Judaism. Yes, this is the question and any Jew will tell you, obviously, marriage and family life are very basic. 2) you ask if the Jewish view of marriage is fundamental to your marriage. You must answer. If it is not, please tell me how your marriage is not a Jewish marriage. I assume you want to say that your marriage is one that honors your wife and your children and includes basic Jewish rituals. The fact that a Jewish marriage may not include all Jewish ritual practice is another question. 3)Do other marriages affect other people's marriage? Of course, yes. And this is what I have previously addressed.

My parents married for life and I will be married to the same woman for my entire life and so will my brother. The influence from my parents is obviously strong. Sadly, children of divorced parents have a greater likelihood of having divorce in their future.

I happen to have a business colleague who is running around with an extra-marital partner. He wants to be a trouble maker and he cannot encourage me to follow his lead. I shudder to think what might happen if instead of one colleague, I had direct contact with many people with "open" marriages. We are social animals.

The terms of Jewish marriage are specific to Judaism. The terms of marriage in general MUST be established in a way that is not contradictory in its essential formulation. Re-defining marriage as a union between any two people would surely affect my marriage since homosexual men would have the same legal recognition as my marriage.

I believe there is a basic problem here of a lack of gratitude, as too many Jews take for granted that America has law and values in close proximity to Judaism. It could easily be different. The more the Bible is attacked, the more our law is distanced from its Biblical roots. If the trend continues, it might be too late to value the contributions of conservative Christians in keeping our basic morality on terms close to Judaism.

The fact that you brag that you have more in common with gay activists than conservative Christians is dreadful. Abstinence is a Jewish cause that the Christians run with and current day Jews somehow protest. It is surely distressing that the Christians are pro-life while the Jews are pro-abortion--ignoring the fact that the Jews were the original pro-life voice in the wilderness. Jewish family life was once the envy of the world and now we lobby for the homosexuals, as if equality for homosexuals were a Jewish issue (read the comments in Etz Hayim on your blog!!)

As they say, the proof is in the pudding. Jews once had only tiny rates of divorce and now, Jews divorce at a rate similar to the population at large. When we want to act like gay men, we support gay men.

When the Rabbis want us to act like Jews and support Jewish things, we should follow their lead. The only reason Dobson agrees is that he read it in OUR Torah.

Gay activism hates Torah with a passion. Dobson loves Torah with a passion. You side with the homosexuals and express hate towards the Christians. What does this say about your love or hate towards Torah? I am asking.

Posted by: David N. Friedman at May 25, 2006 10:46 PM

You just answered your own question. The Rabbis, in the text you cite in Kiddushin, agree that one cannot be a great man unless one is married. Further,a man who is not married cannot rule as a judge. Therefore, you do not need to ask me for evidence--you have alredy found it yourself.

You are being intentionally dense here. Marriage and family life are not only central, they are the essence of Judaism. Please stop your protests.

Who cares if priests are celebate? This is a theological matter and we are not speaking about theology. It would be very different if priests mandated celibacy for the Catholic people. They advocate marriage on terms familiar to Jews. No sex before marriage, divorce is gravely discouraged. They even quote our Torah directly regarding what happens in the "heavens" when a marriage is broken. They treat unborn life with great care--just as the Jews (of old) told them they must. No doubt Catholics could question many theological matters in Judaism and you would be the first to say--"it is none of their business." Likewise, it is none of our business if priests take a celibacy vow or not.

Posted by: David N. Friedman at May 25, 2006 10:58 PM


I'm not sure how you can boast of being married for life and then talk about the Jewish institution of marriage. As is well known, in the Talmud, the tractate on divorce preceeds that on marriage; and the very verse by which the Talmud derives the institution of marriage is in fact a discussion of divorce.

The role of celibacy in priesthood is important because it is sending a cultural symbol. To the extend that JPII z'l is seen (correctly, I believe) as a model of a holy man, our children get an image (incorrect, I believe) that holiness and sexuality are at odds. If you worry about the messages sent by cultural alliance, then there is cause for concern. If, as you insist, other people's marriages affect my own, does not their celibacy as well?

You seem very disturbed by the fact that there are places where I am in greater agreement with Andrew Sullivan than I am with Dobson. I'm not quite sure why: As Jews, we should be examining ideas in their fullness, not simply allying ourselves blindly with one authority figure.

Truth be told, I'm afraid you're falling into that (rather Protestant) trap of trusting an authority, rather than looking at a text. You keep referring to views as "Jewish" without citing any source; you tell me to ask a "rabbi" but then don't believe me when I tell you that my friendly neighborhood rabbi agrees with me rather than you.

But that's not the important thing here. My real question remains this: How does the fact that the gay couple around the corner are married -- whether by a judge in Massachusetts or a rabbi in Georgia -- affect my marriage?

Posted by: Reb Yudel at June 5, 2006 10:00 AM

Your willingness to insist that Rabbis cannot join in fellowshipo with Catholics because Catholics hold some theological precept that differs from Judaism is again, off course. As I argued previously, a coalition is built upon having ONE thing in common and not all things.

Catholics do not hold a belief that married people should be celibate--they hold the basic Jewish position on marriage. Even the Catholic belief in the rhythm method closely resembles the Jewish standard (they do not go to Mikvehs). It is simply a distortion to claim that celibacy is related to this discussion.

Indeed, it is surely obnoxious that you might wish to disturb this easy bit of unity with a protest on these terms. Protest anything you wish but it is far-fetched to tell our Rabbis that they should not stand up for marriage and if they do so, they are really not standing up for marriage--they are giving cover to Karl Rove. Under your terms, no Jew could agree with another, no coalition could ever be formed. Any time there is a bill, someone unsavory will be associated with it and the majority could be said to offer "cover" to that individual or group. It is a simple slur (as if there is something wrong with Karl Rove or Dobson!!) and not a point of principle.

Sure, I would be shocked if even one Rabbi anywhere on this planet or one that has ever lived denies the primacy of marriage in Judaism. It is surely an impossible burden for you to assert that marriage lacks this standing but if you wish to make the case, you will need many, many Rabbonim to come to your defense. Please send me a list since you have the burden of proof.

Just this past week we celebrated Shavuot and we are told that the Ketubah and the covenant in accepting the Torah are a seamless commandment.We embrace our wives as we embrace our love of Torah. Under Judaism, holiness and sexuality are not opposed, they are united. The celibacy of priests is for the priests--this cannot affect me, it specifically cannot affect Catholics!!!

The fact remains that the basic terms of marriage unite Jews, Christians, Muslims and others. More fundamentally, all laws serve to unite the society.

It is a "silly" question to ask how someone elses marriage affect your own since all laws have a societal impact. It is silly to say that you will not support a law unless it can be shown that it will affect your own circumstance. This is the very nature of law itself. Some laws have wide applicability but many laws, perhaps most, exist to serve in a larger societal context. If a killer goes free in Texas, this affects ME since it gives the signal that murder is devalued. My life is affected and enhanced when crimes are punished and my life is enhanced when freedoms are upheld.

Marriage has been a state regulated instituion since the beginning of this nation and if we change the law now, everyone is affected. This is no bold statement. If we change *any* law regarding an institution that is so widely observed, it affects everyone. We are all very upset about takings legislation, as recently determined in the Kelo case.

A recent news show sent the headline: "it could happen to you!!" A change in the law that impacts many people will affect many people.

If you continue to doubt this basic notion, I invite you to the websites of gay activists. Never, do they claim marriage is unaffected (please keep reading!!). It is precisely THEIR own point of view that marriage is to be changed. Incidentally, many homosexuals do not wish to force this change on marriage and they want no part of it. It is easy to have open and friendly relations with homosexuals and seek to preserve marriage laws as is.

Posted by: David N. Friedman at June 5, 2006 4:29 PM

The Catholic position is very relevant, because they believe that those who seek holiness should renounce marriage. For a Jewish man of God, to join in discussing the religious value of marriage with people who deny the primacy of marriage to a religious life is simply ridiculous.

Were my grandparents' Jewish marriage affected by the laws of the State of Georgia, which in contradistinction to Jewish law and morality barred interracial marriage and "unnatural" sexual intercourse?

Among the revolutionary shocks to the institution of Jewish marriage over the past 1500 years, the legalization of same-sex marriage ranks well below the criminalization of polygamy; the permission of women to own and earn money independently of her husband; joint property statutes; the possibility of women initiating divorce; and the end of the Sotah/kinui system, whereby a man could ban his wife from speaking to a certain man.

Unlike letting Adam and Steve marry, all of these changes actually affect my relationship with my wife.

Given this, I would like to hear how legalization of gay marriage will impact my marriage, or yours.

Posted by: Reb Yudel at June 5, 2006 11:20 PM

Larry, your first point corrects four or five previous posts where you deny the "primacy of marriage" in Judaism and now you admit it. Catholics have never said those who seek holiness renounce marriage and Catholics are obviously pro-marriage, like the Jews, and hence the coalition in the first place.

I must add that as much as I would welcome your change of heart concerning my main protest over your words, namely, that marriage is vital in Judaism--your words merely reinforce my perception that you fail to argue in good faith.

A ban against interracial marriage is contrary to Jewish tradition and is obnoxious. It would not affect marriages directly but would have some indirect affect. If you are here to ask if I would join you in a coalition to remove a state initiative than banned inter-racial marriage--sure, I would. This circumstance does not exist and if it did, it is not a direct threat to marriage since a state ban cannot extend beyond the borders of the state.

By contrast, a state law in Massachusetts will extend by the commerce clause, to EVERY state and this is the result of judicial chicanery that can only be stopped by a Constitutional amendment. Many people do not understand this reality and want to innocently, protect the Constitution. I agree that all people would want to protect the Constitution. It is beyond reproach that a small number of people, working through the courts and seeking out judges actively involved with going beyond their own Constituional power, can change marriage for all Americans. Indeed, if this small minority believes they have a good case, let them bring their own Constitutional action. Of course, such an action would fail miserably. However, once marriage is re-defined, it will be changed forever. If only we could actually see the difference between how marriages are affected under normative terms vs. how marriages are affected when marriage is legally re-defined and undermined under homosexual terms. Some demand to SEE the change. Sadly, the change will be readily apparent when the law is changed and all marriages are effected.

Ironically, former Pres. Clinton and her wife both happily accepted the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996 that banned gay marriage, without the power to actually ban gay marriage. I do not recall the liberal outrage when the Dems acquiesced to the same thing as the conservatives propose today. It is only because the DOM act cannot stop judicial activism that has brought us the current state of affairs, so now, everyone who voted for the DOM act must re-affirm their position. Hillary will do no such thing since she has no principles but this is another story.

As to why you faill to percieve how changing laws affect you, I offered other examples. I also offer the example of Scandinavian nations that have accpted gay marriage and the immediate result is the decline of marriage in general. This is the most immediate and negative result of gay marriage and it will surely rapidly accelerate the trend against marriage in this nation so that fewer Americans marry and more children will be raised under terms comfortable for homosexuals and very uncomfortable for their own families.

It is obvious that other peoples marriages affect one's own. We will "absorb" homosexual unions by celebrating them and making them our own. Marriage cannot sustain this change and the example in Scandinavia is proof that is not even necessary.

More about this later...

Posted by: David N. Friedman at June 6, 2006 11:20 PM

You didn't actually respond to any of my points, either about the historical shocks to the institution of Jewish marriage or the co-existence of Jewish marriage with the profoundly anti-Jewish marriage institutions of the Apartheid-era American South.

The Scandinavian argument, while seemingly nonsensical on its face, and not convincingly weighing the alleged statistical harm to the heterosexual majority vs the possible real good to the homosexual minority, seems to have been quite effectively rebutted a couple of years back.

Posted by: Reb Yudel at June 7, 2006 12:35 PM

Thank you for the link to and it is truly very slick. This is as good as it gets in the liberal media. I have Slate bookmarked on my computers and some of what they do is even honest so I can respond in kind. Honesty is very rare in the liberal press and I am sorry to say that this feature only manipulates the data and ignores the overriding truth.

First, Kurtz relied on a lot of data to reach his conclusions and the data stands. Second, Kurtz is not the only author who has written about what has happened to marriage in Scandinavia. Yes, arguing over stats and how to interpret them can be debatable. This is why polls can be so faulty since it really depends on how one asks the questions and you can get a poll to demonstrate just about anything you want it to, twisting and spinning numbers around.

I am sorry to say that no matter how you slice it, marriage is down drastically in the West. In just a few decades, the marital norm has been radically changed and now, gay marriage will sink it permanently unless it is stopped.

This is why the numbers quoted in the Slate piece are so open to misunderstanding. I will be charitable to the author since I do not know the author to be intentionally fibbing. Go back to Kurtz' original article and you see the facts insulated from the spin the Slate author, a Mr. or Ms. Bartlett--is throwing up there. If people are marrying and divorcing rapidly and often, the rate of marriage may look "healthy" when this is simply bad news concerning the marriages. We want to live in a world where people are marrying, staying married and raising children in a two-parent situation.

This model, the marital model of the Judeo-Christian tradition, is disappearing and gay marriage is not the only cause of the destruction of marriage--it is clearly a negative factor. Kurtz's survey points to the truth and the Bartlett author is trying to do a good job in creating disinformation.

It is one thing to offer facts and figures concerning some obscure bit of public policy. The stats will tell the real truth. For things that all Americans are familiar, using stats to spin the truth simply will not cut it.

I am not an old man and when I grew up, I only even heard about one couple that was divorced. I had dozens and dozens of friends and acquaintences. Men and women married, had children, were part of the community and stayed married until they died. I have an elaborate family tree and divorce is a fact in only one distant cousin who I just discovered--that is, among my father's generation backwards. Jews once stayed married once and for life at a much higher vrate than the rest of the poulation--this cements the truth of the centrality of marriage in Judaism. Today's trends are not positive and evenn the Jews are beginning to be affected by societal trends--proving the obvious point you will not grasp that we do not live in a vacuum and what happens in a culture has an influence on Jewish marriage.

Everyone knows that today is a completely different ballgame.

Hollywood couples act precisely like homosexuals and this has an influence. Gradually, the marital ideal has become a minority and intact family units that once were completely dominant are now thought to be even "odd." It has taken decades of social changes to come to this improvement. To repeat, the gay marriage initiative is NOT the cause for the dissolution of marriage. It is simply a significant factor and when it comes to be celebrated, it is easy to predict that marriage will become even harder to maintain.

This is why DOMA happened, this is why gay marriage is disliked so widely EVEN while homosexuals seem to be so popular.

Please come to terms with the reality here and stop relying on misleading statistical supterfuge to cloud what we all can easily recognize. After all, even the gay activists quickly admit that heterosexual marriage is in terrible shape.

I have debated them in private and in public forums for many years. Many times, they have alleged that marriage is in such bad shape, why not let the gays participate so they could make it better!!

BTW, you are correct to note that I will not respond to your fantasies in one paragraph that allege all kinds of ridiculous canards about Jewish history. Jewish women were given the explicit right to own property in the Torah (duh--Jewish women have always owned property independently) could always initiate divorce and unless you lived at the time of the Jewish kings,, polygamy is not a topic (except in certain rare countries and situations). None of these things have anything to do with the topic and this is simply more ad hominen nonsense.

It would be kind if you attempted to recover from admitting that Judaism holds marriage as a prime institution after vigorously denying it so as to separate yourself from the Christians. Time and again you even sought to use Talmud quotes to demonstrate that divorce was more important than marriage and you offered up your own Rabbi as a witness to the point that marriage is not a key pillar in Judaism. What do you say now?

Posted by: David N. Friedman at June 7, 2006 2:57 PM

Two major problems in what you say.

1) Correlation is not causation. I would like to see a real mechanism that gay marriage causes, rather than correlates with, heterosexual divorce. If you really want to change the state of American marriage, there are a number of other legal changes and constitutional changes that would have a great chance of effecting that.

2) You continue to claim there is such a thing as a "Judaeo-Christian marriage," and simply ignore all the various evidence I allude to that Jewish marriage has varied widely throughout Jewish history. To blithely dismiss polygamy is unworthy of anyone who would claim the mantle of taking the Bible seriously. Does our present notion of "companionate marriage" have any precedent in Talmudic times? I haven't seen any, and have read ample evidence that that was not the case.

And yes, Jewish women have owned property independently... but that was not always possible under American law, was it?

In short: You think gay marriage will cause a change to what you consider to be a permanent institution. I think that gay marriage reflects a bundle of changes to what has always been a variable institution.

Posted by: Reb Yudel at June 7, 2006 3:31 PM

Regarding the Judeo-Christian understanding of marriage, consider the following fromn the 1885 decision of Murphy v. Ramsey:

"certainly no legislation can be supposed more wholesome and necessary in the founding of a free, self-governing commonwealth, fit to take rank as one of the coordinate States of the Union, than that which seeks to establish it on the basis of the idea of the family, as consisting in and springing from the union for life of one man and one woman in the holy estate of matrimony; the sure foundation of all that is stable and noble in our civilization."

This is why Christians and Jews are join in such fellowship over the issue of marriage. It is fundamental and in the eyes of many people, including our own Rabbis--it is more important than almost anything else we can talk about. As the Court claimed in 1885, this Christian Supreme Court, taking sustenance from their religious tradition suggests that this union is the basis of our civilization.

Traditional Jews agree. It is a good coalition. It is a majoritarian position. It is at the foundation of what unites Jews and Christians.

What separates Jews and Christians are theological matters not relevant to this debate.

Posted by: David N. Friedman at June 7, 2006 6:03 PM

While I haven't fully read Murphy v. Ramsey, I'm not sure I can jump for glee over a case that would disenfranchise Abraham, Jacob, David and Solomon.

Posted by: Reb Yudel at June 7, 2006 6:16 PM

Mr. Friedman,
Have you ever eaten shrimp? To do so is an abomination to Hashem. You are as bad as other abominations. Or maybe you are in behavioral therapy to avoid your abominations?

Do you keep the Sabbath with all the proper halachos? Or are you guilty of the death penalty?

Do you daven three times a day?

Does your wife go to the miikvah, the ritual bath or were your children conceived in a state of impurity?

You have no sense of Hashem's Torah and you look to the goyim to give you Torah. Feh!
Do Teshuvah- Repent and go study the true Toras emes.

There is no Judeo-Christian anything. We serve the truth and they serve an empty idol.

Mr. Friedman please keep your Jews for Jesus lies to yourself.

Posted by: Hashem's Torah at June 7, 2006 10:06 PM

To the poster called "Hashem's Torah"--to clarify the point I have made often, I do not join with Christians over anything in my commitment to Judaism. Christian beliefs are very different from a theological perspective than our own.

Please face the fact that Christianity blends Judaism with paganism. Therefore, many basic Christian values are very similar to our own. Christians are Jew-wannabees.

Is there a problem here? This is very positive from a public policy standpoint. We live in a nation that has founding principles very close to our own. The Christians in this country love the Jewish people and have founded their law on a modified version of our Torah. This does not make them Jews. It makes them philo-semites. This is a very positive development for the Jewish people. No surprize, America is home for more Jews than anywhere else in the world (Israel is a close second).

The Judeo-Christian tradition means that Christians, under the influence of our Torah, have values that are based in the Torah.

The Rabbis are correct to stand with Christians where we can. Please say why this is a bad idea. Please do not lecture me when you can lecture to Rabbi Soloveichik and Rabbi Safran instead. I am a simple Jew--they represent the Jewish community.

Christianity is not Judiasm, yet, it is far superior to paganism. Please tell the hundreds of millions of people in this nation in which you reside that it is better than they be atheists or pagans than good Christians who value a modified version of our holy Torah.

Jews for Jesus is a reprehensible group. Perhaps Jews for atheists is a bit worse--agree or disagree?

I stand with the Rabbis, why shout at me?

Posted by: David N. Friedman at June 7, 2006 11:02 PM

Mr. Friedman,
You are ignoring the basic Jewish questions.

Have you ever eaten shrimp? To do so is an abomination to Hashem. You are as bad as other abominations. Or maybe you are in behavioral therapy to avoid your abominations?

Do you keep the Sabbath with all the proper halachos? Or are you guilty of the death penalty?

Do you daven three times a day?

Does your wife go to the miikvah, the ritual bath or were your children conceived in a state of impurity?

Posted by: Hashem's Torah at June 7, 2006 11:20 PM
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