Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Golden Rule and the meaning of life and Judaism (3 approaches)


Putting yourself in someone else's shoes

“And you should love to your friend like yourself[1]” is a literal translation of the “golden rule” as it appears in the Torah. I suggest that the way one understands this verse relates to how one thinks about the meaning of life or at least Jewish life.

Three approaches to Judaism and life

1 Essentially about God & Doing His will. All that the Holy One Blessed Be He created he did not create (for any other purpose except) only for His glory[2]”. I describe this approach as seeing Judaism and life itself as being all about God[3] or faith[4]. For Chasidim one of the great ideals is “Bitul”, cancelling or nullifying oneself. The action is the main thing[5], not the way we feel about it.

2 Essentially about Man & Being complete. Alternatively, we can see all the commandments as being essentially about people and their spiritual and personal development. “The Mitzvot (commandments were not given (for any other purpose) but to refine people by them[6].  The Person was not created for anything but delighting in God, in the world to come…if a person is victorious in his struggle.. he will be the completed man[7]. Among some “Litvak or Yeshivish” Jews the ideal is to become a “Gadol”, a big or great one. In one sense this is almost the opposite of Bittul, of cancelling the self, instead there is an ambition to be the greatest person one can be. I think in certain respects approaches 1 and 2 compliment each other, yet it is at least a question of greater emphasis on one or the other and seeing the other as perhaps secondary and included in the primary purpose.
3 Not essentially about any one thing A third way is to reject the notion of one essential concept or meaning, instead seeing Judaism as a series of laws and practices. This is expressed in the first half of a well known story. 

“On another occasion it happened that a certain heathen came before (the sage) Shammai and said to him, "Make me a convert, on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Thereupon Shamai chased him away with the builder's cubit that was in his hand[8].

While Shamai seems just impatient, there is a deeper meaning to the exchange. The Heathen was seeking “one leg and foundation for the whole Torah. It says that Shamai uses a builders cubit to chase him away to hint to him that just as a building cannot stand on just one foundation, so the Torah is broad it its commandments (and) it is impossible for it to be given one foundation[9]”.

A second opinion
The same Heathen then went to the sage Hillel who said “What is hateful[10] to you do not do to your friend this is the entire Torah, the rest is commentary, go and learn it”. At least according to Hillel, the empathy requirement is central to the rest of Judaism, but how can 613 commandments that deal with not just ethics but also rituals and celebrations all essentially be about empathy?  

A mystical view of the commandment
R. Shneur Zalman of Liadi addresses this problem. He sees the commandment as applying only to Jews and discusses this as part of a general spiritual approach in which the “body is despised in his eyes[11] and his only joy is the joy of his soul…[12]”. The Soul is taught to be a part of God that is different to our normal self that is thought of as the animal soul. The person, having downgraded the importance of the body and the (known “animal soul”) self in favour of the unconscious Godly soul, arrives at a perspective in which there is no difference between oneself or the other person. The only part of either that matters is the unknown soul. This is supported by the idea that “there is one Father to all of us, and for this reason all Jews are called brothers … It is only the bodies that are separate”[13] love of another should follow.

This way of looking at the commandment can justify Hillel’s statement about the centrality of this commandment, because to obey it properly requires a complete transformation of the way one sees oneself from being a physical person to primarily being a spirit with a strong focus on the divine.

Adaptation of the approach to a more Man-centred approach
I have always thought R. Shneur Zalman’s approach to this commandment could be combined with a more man centred approach. I think that to reach the point where one “despises” his own body and ego is one that few will pursue, and fewer still will achieve. Still I think a parallel process can be pursued in which one becomes more sensitive, God conscious, tuned into spirituality, beauty, and love. This transformation is achieved by obeying the other 612 commandments and the Torah as a whole.

The context of the commandments is in a section that begins with being commanded “you should be holy[14]”. This is explained as a requirement to become a disciplined, refined human being. While the Torah permitted intercourse within marriage, eating meat and drinking wine, there is a risk that a person can be come a hedonist glutton and a drunk, “a degenerate with permission of the Torah[15]. In practicing moderation and restraint a person is refined and better prepared for empathy.  
 
Parallel in Modern Research
According to R. Sheneur Zalman’s approach, however applied, we need to experience a shift in our self concept which results in the other person no longer being seen as an “other” but as part of the new concept of the self as spirit. I think this has some similarity to a shift discussed in anti-prejudice literature. “Many (anti-prejudice) interventions designed to reduce stereotyping, prejudice, and racism produce limited effects, if any, that do not persist across time and do not generalise across situations and groups… Part of the problem here stems from the fact that such interventions usually try to change views of a particular outgroup. A more effective route to change is by changing views of the ingroup. If the ingroup is redefined psychologically and socially to be tolerant, inclusive, and diverse, then changes in intergroup relationships are inevitable and will more likely be persistent and generalisable”[16].

Universal application
This links back to the question of whether the commandment applies only between Jews or toward all people. There are sources that suggest it is a limited commandment[17]. Some do not state any distinction[18], although they do not give any indication that it includes non Jews. A more recent commentary explicitly states that this “something which is expected from us toward all our fellow men in the name of God”[19].

Reality Check and Limited application
The commandment seems to be simply to love others as we love ourselves, but is this possible? It is even right? We know that one’s own life comes first[20]. In Talmudic sources, the response is to apply the command to practical and manageable situations. “Choosing a nice death” for someone deserving capital punishment[21], a prohibition for a man to marry a woman (presumably through an agent) until he sees her, lest he see something disgusting in her and she will be despised to him[22].  For a similar reason, marital relations are forbidden during the day[23]. Other sources, highlight the use of the letter ל (Lamed) which is a prefix meaning the word “to” in the word לרעך (literally, you shall Love to your friend). If the commandments was to love your fellow, it should not say “to”. Instead, this suggests acting in a loving way[24] to your friend.

Being vs. Doing
I wonder if there is a link between the limited application of this soaring commandment to the first and third approaches to Judaism, (all about God’s will, or a series of non-intrinsically connected instructions). If Judaism is not just about doing God commands, but also about each of us becoming a finer, gentler, more sensitive, noble and even holy person than surely the command should mean what is says in its simplest sense, truly loving others as we love ourselves!

Conclusion
Regardless of how the different approaches influence this commandment, I acknowledge that some of the most accomplished refined people I know have been schooled in the path that never encouraged people to try to be anything. On balance other altruistic people I know are Atheists, Muslims and Christians. For less accomplished people, each approach can be abused, the God centred becoming insensitive seeing the experiential as meaningless, treating the commandments like a giant celestial ‘donkey kong’ game with each act just being a point to score. The man-centred can become arrogant and self-centred, those of the 3rd orientation, mechanical. Personally, I find the man centred approach resonates most strongly for me.

Regardless of approach, here is a final piece of guidance, “if you wish to attach yourself to love of your friend, deal with matters that are for his benefit… as it is written Love to your fellow like yourself (and in a play of words this is reinterpreted to mean), because you acted lovingly toward your friend, he became just like you[25], you will love him[26]. Through “doing”, we can truly “be” what we were meant to be.



[1] Leviticus 19:18
[2] Pirkey Avot 6:11
[3] Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi in the Tanya expresses this as follows, “and this is the whole of man, and the ultimate purpose of his creation and the creation of all the worlds, the higher and the lower, for there to be a dwelling place for Him, in the lower realms” (Chapter 33)
[4] “Habakuk came and stood (all the commandments) on one, as it states and the righteous will live by his faith” Talmud Makot 24a
[5] Pirkey Avot 1:17
[6] Beraishit Rabba 44:1, or “all the commandments of the Torah whether positive or negative are a means to the attainment of human perfection” – R. Yosef Albo, Sefer Haikarim III, chapter 27, cited in Insights: A Talmudic Treasury, (1990), Weiss, S, Feldheim, Jerusalem, Spring Valley NY, p.235
[7] Mesilat Yesharim, the Path of the Just, by Rabbi Moshe Chayim Luzato, chapter 1
[8] Talmud, Sabbat 31a
[9] Maharsha commentary to Sabbat 31a, similar approach to the question is taken by Klei Yakar
[10] One reason suggested for why Hillel states this principle in the negative is that there are “some things that are good for you but bad for your friend-  R. Yisroel Salanter, cited in Insights: A Talmudic Treasury, (1990), Weiss, S, Feldheim, Jerusalem, Spring Valley NY, p.96
[11] This is not advocating fasting or self flagellation, one must care for the body as a “kindness to the embarrassed one”, it is about identifying with the soul and dis-identifying with the body and the ego
[12] Tanya chapter 32
[13] ibid
[14] Leviticus 19:2
[15] Ramban
[16] Pedersen, A (2005), Walker I, Wise M, ‘‘Talk does not cook rice’’: Beyond anti-racism rhetoric to strategies for social action”, Australian Psychologist,  p24 citing Pettigrew, 1998, and Wright, Aron, McLaughlin-Volpe, & Ropp, 1997,
[17] Mimonedes, laws of mourning, 14:1 “..do to your brother in Torah and commandments”, also Torat Kohanim, Kedoshim 18:4, and Mayan Ganim, cited in Kasher, R. Menachem (1980) Torah Shlaima, Vol 32, p 69-71, of course Tanya’s argument is based on it being just Jews
[18] Kala Rabati chapter 4, (cited in Torah Shelaima), Bchor Shor, p 214, Chizkuni, Ramban, Ibn Ezra
[19] R. Samson Raphael Hirsch on this verse
[20] Talmud Bava Metzia 62b
[21] Talmud Sanhedrin 45a, 52a, and 52b, Ketubot 37b
[22] Talmud Kidushin 41a
[23] Talmud Nidda 17a
[24] Bchor Shor, Mosad Harav Kook Edition p. 214, Chizkuni, Mosad Harav Kook Edition p. 390,
[25] Kala Rabati chapter 4, Derech Eretz Zuta chapter 2, cited in Torah Shelaima, p 71
[26] Chizkuni, p.389

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Passover, Pouring Wrath, Non-Jews and Dissenters

Context
It is a wonderful privilege to sit around the table with one’s children, discussing freedom, gratitude, text and tradition as I did this week for our Passover Seder. As Jews have done for over 3,000 years we celebrated our relationship with God and triumph of the oppressed against their oppressors. It is within this context that I explore perspectives about non-Jews and dissent in the Seder text, the Haggadah.

Pour out thy Wrath
One passage drew the following comment by Joshua Stanton, “as a result of oppression during portions of the Middle Ages, a rancid piece of liturgy was added to the service[1]”. After we pour some wine in “Elija’s cup” and go to open the door for the fiery prophet we say the following.

Pour out Your wrath on the nations who have not known You and on the Kingdom’s who have not called in your name[2]. For they have devoured Jacob and desolated his home (or Temple)[3]. Pour Your anger over them, and let Your fury overtake them. Pursue them in fury and destroy them beneath G-d’s sky[4].

Past tense –about people in earlier times, not applicable to Christian Europe
Note the original Hebrew version is in past tense. One authority states that King David (ע"ה the peace upon him) only prayed (in this verse) that God should pour out his wrath on the idol worshipers who do not believe in the creation anew of the world, the signs and wonders that God did with us in Egypt and the giving of the Torah, but these nations that we live in their shade …they are believers in all of these…we must stand on our watch to pray constantly for the peace of the kingdom and the ministers for their success.[5] This interpretation eliminates all predominantly monotheistic nations from the curse but seems to include non-believing nations.

Origins in persecution
In the Haggadah and the original psalm the curse is applied to those “who devoured Jacob”. The context of the original psalm is also about nations who “defiled the temple…they have spilled blood like water around Jerusalem and there is no one to bury[6]”. It is suggested that this passage was added in response to persecution of Jews by “the bloody Crusaders[7]”. The passage does not appear in two important early versions of the Haggadah text, that of  Maimonedes[8] (1135-1204) and the one by Rabbi Saadia[9] Gaon in the 10th century[10]. An alternative view is that this text was already recited in the time of the Jerusalem Talmud (around the year 400)[11]. It also appears in the order of the Seder by Rabbi Amram Gaon[12], in the 9th century. Regardless, of the exact time, there was plenty of persecution to go around.

Classical Meanings
Some sources reflect an idea of diverting divine rage from one people to another. “The jealousy and anger that is raging like a fire against us, pour it on the nations that have not known you (instead), because we, although we have sinned (at least) know you and have called your name[13]”. In the French Haggadah it states that “I have seen no reason for (including pour out they wrath) nor have I heard. It seems to me that perhaps because we have already eaten our fill and drank to satisfaction because of this we might have spoken something derogatory or had an improper thought that because of these it would be proper that God’s anger and jealousy should smoke against us[14]”…so we pray that it be diverted...I find this idea extremely puzzling, why would God’s rage need to be expresses anywhere, surely if God decides not to punish one group that would be the end of the matter. Another idea is that with the focus on the future redemption at the end of the Seder, we are seeking protection from some of the turmoil that will precede it[15].  

Recent Meanings
More recently, arguments have been made that this passage is about taking a stand against evil. One blogger wrote about the persecution of two thousand years… “Why are we ashamed of this? We are ashamed because of a lingering “ghetto mentality.” Because, in our touchy-feely-goody world of nicey-nicey where it is politically incorrect to tell the truth and call evil by its rightful name, this passage doesn’t ‘fit.’ It is blunt. It is biting. It is angry. And it is right.”[16]

Regardless of the events that prompted its inclusion and the very real persecution of Jews, the language of “pour out thy wrath” is based first on the basis of their lack of knowledge or worship of God, with the element of persecution coming second. There is also a generalized hostility toward at least non-monotheistic non-Jews. One source suggests that “they” are even worse than Pharaoh because “they destroyed the holy temple twice. They thus did even more damage than Egypt[17]. Never mind that one temple was destroyed by Babylonians and the second by the Romans.

Cross it out?
Stanton suggests it “should be excised from the Passover Seder entirely. Once we were slaves to the oppression in our past. Now we are free to learn from it.” As he correctly points out the liturgy has changed over time therefore that should work for some Jews. Yet, in the strictly orthodox tradition that I follow this would not be considered. We are taught that “anyone who changes from the coin (format) that our sages have set for the blessings has not fulfilled his obligation[18].

In relation to the Passover text, the response to some deviations was even harsher. “One who conducts himself in accordance with this custom (of some changes to the text), there is no need to say that he has not fulfilled his obligation, rather anyone who does this is a heretic, he is a ‘divisive heart’ and denies the words of the sages OBM[19], disparages the words of the Mishna and the Talmud, and all communities must excommunicate him and separate him from the congregation of Israel…until they return to the good and accept upon themselves to follow the custom of the two Yeshivot[20]”.  Regardless of the merits of such conservatism, this is the understanding of tradition within which I practice my faith.

Rejection of the “Evil son” and perhaps even the silent one
Dissent or rejection is also knocked on the head in the Haggadah itself. The “Wicked son” who asks “what is all this toil for you?!”, is told that he doesn’t belong at the Seder. “God did this for me when I left Egypt, for me not for him, if he had been there he would not have been redeemed”. Generally, the “son who does not know how to ask” is dealt with gently. An alternative view is that a similar approach be taken to this son. “who is not meticulous to know in the name of who (God) he should do the acts and conducts himself like an animal. This is the “one who does not know how to ask”, he is not fitting for nature to be changed to save him…because you don’t contemplate the ways of God, his Torah and commandments…[21]

Putting it back in the bottle
Regardless of the rule that the genie cannot be put back in the bottle, perhaps in this case this is possible[22]. While rejection of the basic premise of the Seder has not been given a lot of tolerance in the tradition, at many Seders today very challenging questions are welcomes with open arms. At least they bothered to show up! The concern for the suffering of our enemies at the Seder is well documented with the idea of pouring out a little bit of wine for each of the plagues in recognition of the suffering of the Egyptians[23].

There have been suggestions of an alternative positive version of the prayer[24] which asks for love for those who protect us, but this version does not seem to have a lot of credibility. Instead I find some hope in a teaching relating to a Chasidic custom I did with my children this year at the end of the Seder. We poured the wine back in the bottle from Elija’s cup singing a special melody. The two pourings (in and out of the cup) represent two phases of redemption, initially many nations oppose redemption and it is necessary for God to “pour out His anger” on them. …ultimately it was never our dream to destroy others but rather to win them over…[25]

While Stanton probably skipped this passage this year, I hope and pray that next year we will all be in a Messianic Jerusalem, at peace with all the nations of the world, the wrath having been symbolically poured back where it came from.





[2] Psalms 79:6-7
[3] Psalms 69:55
[4] Lamentations 3:66
[5] The commentary Be’er haGolah (R. Moshe Rivkes) on the code of Jewish Law, section Hoshen Mishpat 425:5, citing commentary on the Hagaddah by Rabbi Eliezer Ashkenazi (1513-1585), rabbi in Egypt, Italy and Poland, author of Maasei Hashem, I learned about this source from the piece by Alan Brill, http://kavvanah.wordpress.com/2010/03/27/rabbi-eliezer-ashkenazi-on-pour-out-thy-wrath/
[6] Psalms 79:1-4
[7] Zion N, Dishon D, (1997) The Family Participation Haggadah – A Different Night, Shalom Hartman Institute Jerusalem, p.143
[8] Yad Hachazah
[9] was head of academy in Sura, Babylon 928-942, born 882
[10] Torah Shlaima Haggada by Rabbi Menachem Kasher 1967 Jerusalem p.177
[11] Rabbi Yehudah son of Yitzchak Shir Lion of Paris, as seen from his words to his student the Semag, cited in Torah Shlaima above
[12] Served as Gaon in Sura, Babylon 853-871, cited in Torah Shlaima Haggadah
[13] Radak, on Psalms 79:6, also in Metzudat David
[14] Haggadat Tzarfat, in Torah Shlaima Haggadah p.179, he also cited Rashbatz that sees the wrath as relating the 4 cups of wine which is an even number which is believed to involve danger
[15] Maharal of Prague, Rabbi Judah ben Bezalel Lowe (1525-1609), quoted in http://www.torah.org/learning/yomtov/pesach/5755/vol1no14.html
[16] http://lady-light.blogspot.com/2010/04/pour-out-thy-wrath.html
[17] Zevach Pesach, cited in the Meam Loez Haggadah (Yaakov Culi 1689-1732), English Ed, (1989) Moznayim Brooklyn NY,  p.137-138 (the original source, is suggested to have been written by Don Isaac Abarbanel…completed in 1496, in Torah Shlaima Haggada p.210
[18] Talmud Brachot 40b
[19] Of Blessed memory
[20] Rav Neturai Gaon, lived either around the year 710 or 750, (there were more than one sage with the same name living in Babylon around the same time) cited in Torah Shlaima Haggada p.27-28 
[21] Archot Chayim, R. Aaron Hakohen of Lunil, Firintzi, 1750, cited in Torah Shlaima p.26 (in Haggadah text section note 136) 
[22] On a lighter note, the idea of Genie’s are based on the Arabic Jin, which means demon, the night of Passover is known as a protected night, “Leil Shimurim”, surely we don’t have to worry about the rules of the demonic genies.
[23] Avudraham
[24] There is a claim published in the Family Participation Haggadah, about a Manuscript from Worms 1521 that adds the following prayer side by side with “Pour out they Wrath”.  Pour out your love on the nations which know you and on the kingdoms that call in your name. For the sake of the righteous deeds which they do with the offspring of Jakob and protect your people Israel from those who would devour them alive. May they merit to see a tabernacle spread of the your chosen ones and may they rejoice in the joy of your nation. This possible alternative prayer comes with the rider, that “scholars debate the authenticity of this”, there is a much harsher view taken on this about someone with a track record as a forger, see http://kavvanah.wordpress.com/2010/03/23/pour-out-thy-love-upon-the-nations-and-miriam-at-the-seder/
[25] Kol Menachem Haggadah, (2008) commentary anthologised from the works of the Lubavitcher Rebbe and other sources by Rabbi Chaim Miller,  Kol; Menachem Brooklyn NY, p.222

Friday, April 15, 2011

Torah Based Responses to Homosexuality

As a person with a commitment to fight prejudice and committed to living my life based on an orthodox interpretation of the Torah this is a topic I approach with some discomfort.

I think the basic elements are, 1) the reality of the lives homosexuals and the communities and societies in which they live 2) a vision of life as being lived in a committed relationship of a man and a woman 3) a Torah prohibition of Homosexual acts. "Thou shalt not lie with a man, as with a woman; it is an abomination"i. 4) An obligation to treat others with empathy and loves just as we would want to be treated combined with a traditional separation between sins and sinners. 5) Advice that you should not judge your fellow until you have stood in his placeiii. 6) Torah’s guidance against discrimination, especially when there is a power imbalanceiv and broader messages about doing the right thing by people who are vulnerable.

Reality Check
To respond appropriately to any situation requires an understanding of that situation. One highly respected scholar from the last generation asserts that “the whole world despise homosexuals... and also in the eyes of the second wicked person with whom he does the sin (the Homosexual act) he is cheapnened and despised”v. I find it hard to believe that this conclusion was based on intensive interviews with a representative sample of homosexuals.

A more recent work has the benefit not only of scholarship but also of having talked with many Homosexualsvi. One doctor found that he was far more effective after learning more about what the reality of homosexuals and their families from the blog Kirtzono on which families of Jewish homosexuals share their stories and support each othervii. I found the accounts on that particular site very moving and I would do well to learn more from first person accounts of what life is like for a homosexual in our time and particularly trying to live by Torah's guidance. This is particularly important for congregational rabbis who might find themselves offering advice about "treatment" that has been found to be harmful or unlikely to be effective.

Vision of Life
At a Jewish wedding a blessing is recited that praises God as the one “who formed the man”. A rabbi I heard last night asked about the timing of this blessing, 'surely the time to say this would be at birth. He explained that, The reason we only say it then, is because until a person is married he is not a (full) person, he is only trully human when he is part of a coupleviii. As our sages taught “every person (Adam) who has no wife is not a personix”. While this could be used by some to argue that Homosexuals should simply ‘be fixed’ and get married, recent Halachic advice is much more realistic than that and in the case of someone with an exclusive homosexual disposition would strong advise against marriagex. That being the case, the Homosexual who wishes to live a Torah guided life based around a committed relationship is in a terrible perdicament because the only relationship s/he can in good conscience committ to is forbidden to him/her. 
The Torah’s prohibition and the 'Abomination'description
In terms of law this case is straight forward, more severe in the case of males than females and some other practical matters well covered by others.

Shmueli Boteach, a popular author and a Chasidic trained orthodox Rabbi (author of Kosher Sex) has questioned the emphasis people put on the word Abomination in this case. He makes the point that the same word is applied to a range of religious prohibitions. One reason put forward for this is that Homosexuality is not the "Natural" way and that people naturally object to itxi. I am not clear why nature matters so much, when I thought Torah is there to help us overcome nature. Regardless, Torah is unchangeable and must not be censored or rewritten, still I wonder about how to weigh up the suffering caused to Gay people by emphasizing thisxii against potential benefits, if any.

Treating others as we want to be treated
Over 100 orthodox Rabbis, Educators and health professionals have formulated a statement that seeks to respond to Homosexuality in a way that is appropriate and consistent with Halachaxiii. The first is worth quoting in full. “All human beings are created in the image of God and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect (Kavod Haberiyot). Every Jew is obligated to fulfill the entire range of mitzvot between person and person in relation to persons who are homosexual or have feelings of same sex attraction. Embarrassing, harassing or demeaning someone with a homosexual orientation or same-sex attraction is a violation of Torah prohibitions that embody the deepest values of Judaism.”

The Talmudic notion of hating people for their sins is interpreted as having very very limited applicationxiv. As Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks writes in the introduction to Rapoport's (2004) Judaism and Homosexuality, "Compassion, sympathy, empathy, understanding—these are essential elements of Judaism. They are what homosexual Jews who care about Judaism need from us today.”

Judgement
Tanya has a very insightful approach to humility and judgement. Consider the situation of the person you are temped to judge and then translate that to your own context and you will find yourself humbled. Rapoport, a Chabadnic Rabbi who is also part of the Chief Rabbi's cabinet, applies this to our topic.
"The heterosexual Jew ought to ask himself questions such as: “If I were to find myself in a situation whereby I would constantly be yearning to be in a loving relationship—of a type that includes physical intimacy—and the only sexual relationships I could reasonably have would be with a member of the same gender, would I live up to the Torah’s demands?”, or “If I knew that there is never likely to be any way of experiencing sexual fulfillment in a halakhically permissible manner, and at the same time, I would be almost constantly exposed to sexual temptation, would I have the fortitude to remain alone and celibate?” I venture to say that many a heterosexual person who confronts himself honestly with such questions would indeed be humbled.xv"

Prejudice and Conclusion
Considering what we know about the nature of prejudice and the natural inclination to "dislike the unlike", Torah guidance about empathy and against prejudice, we still won't have Torah supporting gay marriage, but it will strongly support positive interaction and sensitivity.
i Leviticus 18:22
ii Leviticus 19:18
iii Pirkey Avot 2:5
iv Exodus 20:22, do not mistreat the sojourner/convert as explained by Ibn Ezra “...because you have more power than him.”
v Feinstien, R. Moshe, Igrot Moshe, Orach Chayim 4, p. 206, in a letter dated 1 Adar II, 5736, 1976
vi Cohen U, C, “Review Essay: Relating to Orthodox Homosexuals: The Case for Compassion” http://www.traditiononline.org/news/article.cfm?id=100961
vii http://kirtzono.blogspot.com/2011/02/torah-was-not-given-to-ministering.html
viii Schmerling, Rabbi M, spoken at a Chasidic Farbrengen tonight 14/4/11 at Jewish Community Centre/Chabad House of the North Shore
ix Talmud Yevamot 63a
x Rapoport, Rabbi C, (2004) Judaism and Homosexuality, Vallentine Mitchell, London & Portland, pages, 97. 97 & 100 cited in the review by Cohen U, C, http://www.traditiononline.org/news/article.cfm?id=100961
xiIbn Ezra on Leviticus 18:22, Feinstien and others
xiiA Common feature of prejudice is to separate people into the normal and to cast others as being different to the norm.
xiiihttp://statementofprinciplesnya.blogspot.com
xivTanya Chapter 32, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi
xvRapoport, Rabbi C, (2004) Judaism and Homosexuality, p. 71