Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Observing the Torah

yeshua torah Pictures, Images and PhotosI got an e-mail recently in which Dr. Laura Schlesinger was chided for being against homosexuality because of the laws stated in Leviticus 18:22. The fundamental understanding is that because we don't follow the other laws given through Moses, we shouldn't be concerned over homosexuality. My comments are going to be in red and my overall response is that many of the laws given in the Old Testament were to the Jewish people in a theocratic context. Many of them were designed to make the people of Israel different and set apart in contrast to their neighboring peoples.  This isn't true of all of the laws. What is true of all the laws is that we get insight as to what God considers good and bad. You also get the sense that our idea of what is moral and right does not match completely what God says is right. None of us think the things we do or condone are wrong. This is why we need an outside standard. The thing is about Homosexuality, God said it was an abomination. The Bible also says that lying is something God hates. Don't do either.
In her radio show, Dr Laura Schlesinger said that, as an observant Orthodox Jew, homosexuality is an abomination according to Leviticus 18:22, and cannot be condoned under any circumstance.  The following response is an open letter to Dr. Laura, penned by a US resident, which was posted on the Internet.  It's funny, as well as informative.

Dear Dr. Laura:

 Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law.  I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can.  When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination .... End of debate.

I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some other elements of God's Laws and how to follow them.

1. Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations.  A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians.  Can you clarify?  Why can't I own Canadians?

Isrealites  4 thousand years ago could own slaves purchased from neighboring nations not us. America did not follow this command, they stole their slave or saw nothing wrong with buying stolen property. No where in the Torah were they told that slaves should be treated as property or less than human.

2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7.  In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

Funny how this verse is taken out of context. Exodus 21:7-8 says

 7 "If a man sells his daughter as a servant, she is not to go free as menservants do. 8 If she does not please the master who has selected her for himself, he must let her be redeemed. He has no right to sell her to foreigners, because he has broken faith with her.
Notice there isn't a commandment or prescription that you should sell your daughter as a servant/slave. This is in context of selling you daughter to pay a debt not just because you are greedy. This command is that the lady must be allowed to return to her family and not sold to foreigners if the one who gets her doesn't want her anymore.

3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of Menstrual uncleanliness - Lev.15: 19-24.  The problem is how do I tell?  I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

The command is referring to husbands/wives not women you pass on the street. If you have been married any length of time, you can tell when your wife is on your period.

4 When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord - Lev.1:9.  The problem is my neighbors.  They claim the odor is not pleasing to them.  Should I smite them?

No. In ancient Israel you would not just build an altar and sacrifice anywhere! Besides that's the reason for the holy perfume that was only supposed to be used in the Tablenacle/Temple. Besides if you aren't a Levite what would you be doing making a sacrifice?! Worse, we have Jesus why do you even need to do this?!!!

5. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath.  Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death.  Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or should I ask the police to do it?

Are you Jew living in a theocratic context 3-4 thousand years ago? No? Then don't worry about it. 

6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination, Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality.  I don't agree.  Can you settle this?  Are there 'degrees' of abomination?

Eating Shellfish was about ritual not lifestyle. There is no degree of abomination.
7. Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight.  I have to admit that I wear reading glasses.  Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle-room here?

Again out of context. The passage should be read in the context of verses 17-20. God was referring to who could serve in the temple. Should a crippled or handicapped person be a fireman?  Nope. If you weren't physically capable to be a priest you should be doing the job.

8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27.  How should they die?

If they are Jews living in Theocratic Israel, then yes. 

9. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

They didn't play football in theocratic Israel and footballs aren't really made of pig skin. 

10. My uncle has a farm.  He violates Lev.19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend).  He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot.  Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? Lev.24:10-16.  Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair, like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

Again we know that if you plant different crops too close together you mess up your then your uncle would be ignorant. Some people are allergic to polyester. And given that your uncle is uncouth, it does not follow that they should die. Makes me wonder about a family if its okay to sleep with their in-laws.

I know you have studied these things extensively and thus enjoy considerable expertise in such matters, so I'm confident you can help.

Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging.

God's Word is indeed eternal and unchanging. We do however. 

Your adoring fan.

James M. Kauffman, Ed.D. Professor Emeritus, Dept. Of Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education University of Virginia

  (It would be a damn shame if we couldn't own a Canadian)

Dr. Kauffman obviously is trying to make the point that the Bible is full of outdated laws and rules that don't apply today and homosexuality shouldn't either. However he misrepresents and distorts what the Bible says. Sorry, she may be inconsiderate and racist (see other posts on Dr. Laura) but she's right on this point.

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  1. Marcus said refering to Leviticus 15:19-24. "The command is referring to husbands/wives not women you pass on the street. If you have been married any length of time, you can tell when your wife is on your period.

    OK, so I shouldn't touch my wife for exactly 7 days? Even if she has a short cycle? What if she's the one that does the laundry? How do I get my clothes un-unclean in that situation?

  2. Ryan, the command was about ceremonial uncleanness. Are you a Jew living in theocratic Israel and planning on performing a ritual that you need to be clean for anytime soon? No? Then the command does not apply to you.

  3. I couldn't agree more Marcus.

  4. Neither does that command refer to anyone alive today.