Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Gay Siddur

I take a backseat to no one when it comes to compassion for people who have homosexual tendencies. What is important is Halacha - not tendencies. In fact - the greater the desire to sin the greater the reward from refraining from it.

So if one has a tremendous desire to eat a cheeseburger that is of no concern to me. Neither is the tremendous desire to perform a homosexual act.

There does not exist a man who does not sin. This does not mean he can’t be a wonderful an honorable human being. We all have our ‘demons’. Everyone has to overcome his own personal temptations. Whether it is speaking Lashon Hara, eating a cheeseburger, committing adultery, or performing a homosexual act.

If a someone succumbs to personal sinful desires, he or she should realize they have sinned, express sorrow for sinning and resolve not to do it again. God is compassionate. This is the power of Teshuva - sincere repentance. This is what Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is all about.

It is not up to us to judge our fellow man if he is undergoing struggles with his personal forbidden desires. That is between him an God.

This is not to say that we shouldn’t try and discourage sinful behavior in others when we can. Of course we should. That is part of our job as responsible Jews. Kol Yisroel Areivim Zeh LaZeh. All Jews are responsible for one another. If we see someone about to sin we need to do all we can to prevent it. How we go about that is ‘the big question’. But there is no doubt that we are required to do so. One thing that is certain though. We not judge others who succumb to sin. That’s not our department.

Of course if the sin involves harm to others, that is another matter. Being kind to the cruel means being cruel to the kind. Understanding such behavior is not compassionate. One cannot have compassion for murderers or adulterers.

When it comes to two consenting adults where there is no third party - like a spouse - we best not judge and remain compassionate while at same time pointing out its sinfulness and trying to prevent the behavior in some way if we can.

But if one denies the sinfulness of one’s actions and instead extols it - that is an entirely different matter. Then all bets are off. It is not a matter of not hurting others anymore. It is a matter of denying God’s laws. That cannot be tolerated. No one can say that eating a cheeseburger is permitted. Willfully eating a cheeseburger is unacceptable to God

This is why the new Gay Siddur soon to be released by by San Fransisco's main gay synagogue is such an abomination. First of all that such a Siddur exist at all is ridiculous since it sanctions behavior that is clearly forbidden in the Torah. But this Siddur goes further than that. There is actually a blessing in there for gay encounters with homosexual strangers. The blessing is called ‘Kavanah for unexpected intimacy’.

The new Siddur comes out of the Reform Movement. That should not surprise anyone. They do not recognize Halacha as binding. But this goes beyond just permitting the forbidden. It actually gives a gay onetime sexual ‘back-alley’ encounter a blessing.

They claim that it is meant to raise the level of any human act to a level of holiness. The problem with that is that the Reform Movement woudn’t recognize holiness if it hit them in the face.

Holiness is about Godliness. ‘Holy Holy Holy is the Lord of hosts - the earth is filled with His glory!’ To the extent that humanity can we try and achieve holiness by doing His will. We can approach the holiness of being a Goy Kadosh - a holy nation by doing His will as spelled out in His Torah. We become sanctified by following God’s laws - not by sanctifying sin!

One cannot decide on ones own what is holy and what isn’t. We cannot declare a homosexual act to be holy when it clearly is sinful and an abomination. Just because one thinks about God before sinning does not make the sinful act holy or even permissible. Injecting God into an act that the Torah calls an abomination only makes that act worse!

Normally I wouldn’t even dignify this new Siddur by mentioning it. But when serious Reform religious figures come out with this and call it religious innovation it demands a response.

This shows just how far the Reform Movement has fallen.

All this is so ironic. They recently came out with a Siddur that restored some of the liturgy that was once considered anathema to their movement. And there has been a push in recent years towards tradition in the movement. Though they do not mandate religious observance they encourage it as much as possible.

And then they come out with this Siddur? Astounding!