27th February 20:27
Twisting The Truth : Prohibition Of Homo***uality Applies Only In The Holy Land!!!
Rabbis Marc Angel, Hillel Goldberg and Pinchas Stopler in their joint
article published in the Winter, 1992-93 edition of Jewish Action Magazine;"
Well, here's another viewpoint: Bible Review, December 1993, p. 11 DOES THE
BIBLE PROHIBIT HOMO***UALITY? by Rabbi Jacob Milgrom: "The Biblical
prohibition is addressed only to Israel. It is incorrect to apply it on a
This past Yom Kippur, September 25, 1993, my synagogue invited me to explain
the afternoon scriptural reading, the list of forbidden ***ual liaisons in
Leviticus 18. I chose to focus on what is today one of the most frequently
quoted passages in the entire Bible, "Do not lie with a male as one lies
with a woman, it is an abomination" (Leviticus 18:22).
What I said may be both good news and bad news to my Christian friends,
depending on their position on *** and ******* rights. This Biblical
prohibition is addressed only to the Jews. Non-Jews are affected only if
they reside in the Holy Land, but not elsewhere (see the closing exhortation
in Leviticus 18, verses 24-30). Thus, it is incorrect to apply this
prohibition on a universal scale.
But I spoke to my fellow Jews, who are required to observe this prohibition.
What is the rationale for this prohibition? In a previous column, I noted
that the Bible's impurity rules are part of a symbol system representing the
forces of life and death. Israel is required to avoid these impurities and
adhere to the laws commanded by God, who promotes the forces of life. Thus
in the same chapter we read, "You shall heed my statutes and my rules, by
doing them one shall live" (Leviticus 18:5). A man who discharges *****,
whether intentionally or otherwise, is declared impure and must purify
himself by bathing (a sort of re-baptism) before he is permitted to enter
the Temple or touch sacred (sacrificial) food (Leviticus 15:16-18). Why?
Because ***** stands for life, and the loss of ***** symbolizes the loss of
Note also that in the entire list of forbidden ***ual unions, THERE IS NO
PROHIBITION AGAINST *******ISM. Can it be that *******ism did not exist in
ancient times or that Scripture was unaware of its existence? *******s
existed and flourished, as attested in an old (pre-Israelite)
Babylonian text and in the work of the ******* poet Sappho (born c. 612
B.C.E., during the time of the First Temple), who came from the island of
*****s (hence *******ism). But there is a fundamental difference between the
homo***ual acts of men and women. IN *******ISM THERE IS NO SPILLING OF
SEED. Thus life is not symbolically lost, and therefore *******ism is not
prohibited in the Bible.
My argument ostensibly can be countered by a more comprehensive biblical
injunction. The very first commandment, given to Adam and repeated to Noah,
is "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth" (Genesis 1:28 and Genesis
9:1,7). The descendants of Noah--the entire human race--are duty-bound to
fulfill this commandment. But the truth is that we have not only filled the
earth, we have over-filled it. This does not mean, however, that the
commandment should be thought of as no longer in force--especially among
Jews, who have lost a third of their members in our lifetime. I recall an
incident during a premarital interview from the early years of my rabbinate.
The starry-eyed bride declared her noble intention to have twelve children
to compensate for the tragic loss of six million killed in the Holocaust. I
gasped, "Must you do it all by yourself?"
I have since come to regret my flippant reply. This couple regarded their
forthcoming marriage as a sacrament not just between themselves, but with
the >Jewish people. The problem has worsened for American Jews. Because
intermarriage is rife and the Jewish birth rate is low, American Jewry, once
at zero population growth, has dipped into the minus column. Were it not for
a steady stream of converts, the extinction of American Jewry would be even
more imminent. For us the divine command, "Be fruitful and multiply" is
truly in force.
To Jewish homo***uals I offer an unoriginal solution. As compensation for
your loss of seed, adopt children. Although adoption was practiced in the
ancient world (as attested in Babylonian law), there is no Biblical
procedure or institution of adoption. As a result the institution of
adoption is absent from rabbinic jurisprudence. Yet there are isolated cases
of a kind of pseudo-adoption in the Bible. For example, Abraham, long
childless, complains to God that Eliezer of Damascus, his steward, will
inherit him (Genesis 15:2). And barren Rachel beseeches her husband Jacob,
"Here is my maid Bilhah--go into her that she may bear on my knees and that
through her I too may have children" (Genesis 30:3). Adoption is certainly a
******* couples have an additional advantage. Not only do they not violate
biblical law, but through artificial insemination each can become the
natural mother of her children.
Thus from the Bible we can infer the following: *******s, presumably half of
the world's homo***ual population, are not mentioned. More than ninety-nine
percent of the ***s, namely non-Jews, are not addressed. This leaves the
small number of male Jewish ***s subject to this >prohibition. If they are
biologically or psychologically incapable of procreation, adoption provides
a solution. I hope the Eternal, in love and compassion, will then reckon
their spilled seed as producing fruit.
Jacob Milgrom." (Bible Review, a publication of the Biblical Archeology
Society 3000 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 300, Washington DC 20008, 202 387