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1 Bob Levin  Thu, May 10, 2012 8:30:00am

They would have to prove that, which, given the totality of scripture and writing, then can't. Can not. It is not so simple as to cite one sentence in Vayikra (Leviticus).

The primary reason that they cannot is because, culturally, our basic unit of knowledge [in Western Culture the most basic unit is a 'fact'] is a Mishnah, which consists of two or more opposing points of view on a given subject. Following this basic multi-sided statement, there is debate. There are no straw men.

And the results of the argument are unpredictable, almost always reasoned with a heavy dose of counter-intuitiveness.

One might deduce that the rabbis never picked up a volume of Talmud. Of course they study it every day--and yet somehow this binary western worldview, right or wrong, yes or no, becomes part of their consciousness. This should be troubling if one views the world in that way--but frequently, the binary nature is too subtle to notice.

Western reasoning and Talmud do not mix. This should be the first thing a student of Talmud should begin to recognize.

2 Cosmic X  Thu, May 10, 2012 9:24:54am

Bob,
What do they have to prove?

The Talmudic arguments regarding the issue have already taken place. Take a look at the tractate of Sanhedrin 54A:

הבא על הזכור ועל הבהמה והאשה המביאה את הבהמה בסקילה

Loosely translated: A male who has intercourse with a male or an animal and a woman who has intercourse with an animal are liable (death) by stoning.

This is brought down as law by Maimonides (Laws of Forbidden Relations 1:14) . See also Shulchan Aruch Even HaEzer 24.

3 Bob Levin  Thu, May 10, 2012 10:32:19am

re: #2 Cosmic X

This is hard to explain, but if you could look at the structure beneath your argument and sentences--that's just not how to reason your way through the issue. You're kind of looking at those writings like answers in the back of a math book.

If you look at 54a, that's a long page, written in Aramaic, with glosses on the side, which I haven't even gotten to in my own studies. Published by Artscroll, it takes four big (adjust your bookshelf) big pages of textual translations and footnotes to cover just that one page. The actual Mishnah, which is the catalyst for this discussion begins on 53a, again about 4 pages of translation and footnotes. 54a is part of chapter 7, which begins on 49b, which is a continuation of chapter 6, which changes the discussion from the technical procedures of capital punishment cases to the various cases that result in a death penalty--which was carried out less than two times in seventy years, on average.

All of this data, and more, is very important to understanding each simple sentence. And it should raise questions, not supply answers. The burden of proof in such cases is immense. DNA evidence would not be enough.

I was once told by a rabbi that the Shulchan Aruch is best used to prop up wobbly tables.

Generally, Talmudic arguments never stop. So, to say that they've already taken place--nope. That's just not how to read these books. It's different linguistic pattern--and to me, very cool.

4 Cosmic X  Thu, May 10, 2012 11:02:36am

I have to disagree with you Bob.

Nobody there in the entire discussion claims that male intercourse is permitted. And of course, once the law is decided, well, that's the law! When the Agudah says that "We hereby state, clearly and without qualification, that the Torah forbids homosexual acts, and sanctions only the union of a man and a woman in matrimony" they are absolutely correct.

Obdicut and Sergey Romanov, are you downdinging the Talmud, Maimonides, or the Shulchan Aruch?

5 Lord Baron Viscount Duke Earl Count Planckton  Thu, May 10, 2012 11:06:17am

re: #4 Cosmic X

I have to disagree with you Bob.

Nobody there in the entire discussion claims that male intercourse is permitted. And of course, once the law is decided, well, that's the law! When the Agudah says that "We hereby state, clearly and without qualification, that the Torah forbids homosexual acts, and sanctions only the union of a man and a woman in matrimony" they are absolutely correct.

Obdicut and Sergey Romanov, are you downdinging the Talmud, Maimonides, or the Shulchan Aruch?

I'm downdinging someone who thinks that the "bad" parts of ancient morality are somehow applicable today.

6 Varek Raith  Thu, May 10, 2012 11:08:27am

Nonsense.

7 Obdicut  Thu, May 10, 2012 11:08:52am

re: #4 Cosmic X

I don't bother to really debate Kahanists, sorry.

8 Cosmic X  Thu, May 10, 2012 11:23:32am

Sergey,

Have to disagree. These morals are eternal. I returned the favor and downdinged you. So much fun!

Obdicut,

I am not a Kahanist, and you did not answer my question.

9 Lord Baron Viscount Duke Earl Count Planckton  Thu, May 10, 2012 11:26:05am

re: #8 Cosmic X

Sergey,

Have to disagree. These morals are eternal. I returned the favor and downdinged you. So much fun!

Obdicut,

I am not a Kahanist, and you did not answer my question.

Sorry, do you seriously think that two consenting adults engaging in same-sex sexual relationship should be killed by stoning?

10 Cosmic X  Thu, May 10, 2012 11:34:34am

It is a very serious offense and therefore the punishment is serious. (BTW, many forbidden heterosexual acts, such as adultery, also are punishable by death.)

The stoning punishment is not carried out anymore, for technical reasons. Not only that, when it was carried out, it was only after the perpetrators were warned immediately before the act by two people that if they do it, they are liable the death penalty. Under such circumstances, capital punishment was very rarely performed.

In any case, what the Agudah rabbis said is perfectly in tune with the Torah, as indicated in the sources that I brought.

11 Lord Baron Viscount Duke Earl Count Planckton  Thu, May 10, 2012 11:57:19am

re: #10 Cosmic X

It is a very serious offense and therefore the punishment is serious. (BTW, many forbidden heterosexual acts, such as adultery, also are punishable by death.)

The stoning punishment is not carried out anymore, for technical reasons.

Building the Third Temple (what you propose doing on your blog) and convening the Sanhedrin would remove these technical reasons, I assume? Are you looking forward to stoning some gays once the technical reasons are removed?

12 Locker  Thu, May 10, 2012 12:12:54pm

Why the hell do people think it's perfectly fine to hate and marginalize people because some old book says it's ok? Why are they PROUD of being so intractable?

There isn't any reasonable excuse for it. Not an old book, not your gay cousin, not your dislike of seeing men holding hands.

BTW wtf is "technical reasons"? And why, if stoning can be done away with due to these "technical reasons" can't the whole idea of hating and killing gay people be done away with for the same type of "technical reasons"?

13 shutdown  Thu, May 10, 2012 12:32:24pm

Interesting that nobody in this thread questions the qualification of tikkun olam as a religious value. In fact, tikkun olam is no such thing. Tikkun Olam has its roots in the kabbalistic teachings of R Luriah.
Tikkun Olam

14 Bob Levin  Thu, May 10, 2012 12:36:33pm

re: #4 Cosmic X

There was a Nova special on the creation of Watson--the machine that eventually beat the Jeopardy champions. I'd recommend it.

One of the tasks in building was to give the machine over 6 million rules, water is wet, once something is dead it stays dead--all of the little things we pick up unconsciously. It still wasn't enough. The other difficulty was that Watson has no movable eyes, so the question had to be transmitted to Watson when the humans could read the question--which means that they had to teach Watson to read.

Not so simple. Because to read the letter 'A', in different fonts, there is no principle, humans can just do it. So they had to add more data, thousands of 'A's, different fonts, and they had to teach Watson to correlate, to do so much correlation that the computer was able to figure out the principle, so to speak, of what constitutes the letter A.

To me, learning Torah is much the same--here are some laws, now what is being referred to? So there are about 25 relationships that are forbidden--why? Answering this matters. And why describe this principle with 25 laws and volumes of discussion? And how can the actions of two people greatly effect an entire society? These are all valid questions, which are not discussed. Instead, many simply read the law and that's that.

But law and that's that, is just not implied by everything else within the culture. We're trying to expand our scope of perception, not reduce it to one line. We put things in greater and greater context, not less. How many pages of argument are devoted to simply figuring out the context of a Baraisa? It's almost constant.

So what is the Torah talking about when discussing the group of forbidden relationships? They are never read individually, always as a group. And then, what is the Torah talking about by saying that these relationships matter a great deal, to people who are even unaware that these things are happening? Have you ever had a discussion that has taken this path, with these questions?

15 Locker  Thu, May 10, 2012 12:37:03pm

re: #13 Ascher

Interesting that nobody in this thread questions the qualification of tikkun olam as a religious value. In fact, tikkun olam is no such thing. Tikkun Olam has its roots in the kabbalistic teachings of R Luriah.
Tikkun Olam

Not really familiar with the volume so I'm sure your insight adds to the discussion. Personally I find it ridiculous for any position or idea to be backed up with "because my holy relic says so".

If I showed up at your house and kicked you square in the nuts, then flashed an old piece of paper from my spiritual leader (GrandPa Stu) that says it's ok to roshambo anyone with 8 freckles on their nose you'd likely have a problem with the provenance.

16 Bob Levin  Thu, May 10, 2012 12:41:27pm

re: #13 Ascher

But couldn't you just as easily see the roots in the Shemoneh Esrei?

17 Obdicut  Thu, May 10, 2012 1:13:55pm

re: #8 Cosmic X

[Link: cosmicx.blogspot.de...]

You were going there to protest, I assume?

/

18 SanFranciscoZionist  Thu, May 10, 2012 2:10:07pm

re: #3 Bob Levin

This is hard to explain, but if you could look at the structure beneath your argument and sentences--that's just not how to reason your way through the issue. You're kind of looking at those writings like answers in the back of a math book.

If you look at 54a, that's a long page, written in Aramaic, with glosses on the side, which I haven't even gotten to in my own studies. Published by Artscroll, it takes four big (adjust your bookshelf) big pages of textual translations and footnotes to cover just that one page. The actual Mishnah, which is the catalyst for this discussion begins on 53a, again about 4 pages of translation and footnotes. 54a is part of chapter 7, which begins on 49b, which is a continuation of chapter 6, which changes the discussion from the technical procedures of capital punishment cases to the various cases that result in a death penalty--which was carried out less than two times in seventy years, on average.

All of this data, and more, is very important to understanding each simple sentence. And it should raise questions, not supply answers. The burden of proof in such cases is immense. DNA evidence would not be enough.

I was once told by a rabbi that the Shulchan Aruch is best used to prop up wobbly tables.

Generally, Talmudic arguments never stop. So, to say that they've already taken place--nope. That's just not how to read these books. It's different linguistic pattern--and to me, very cool.

Thank you. I'm not so succinct when explaining this stuff.

(Wobbly tables...LOL. Except I was taught not to put a sefer on the floor, no matter how inadequate it may be.)

19 Bob Levin  Thu, May 10, 2012 8:26:24pm

re: #18 SanFranciscoZionist

Except I was taught not to put a sefer on the floor, no matter how inadequate it may be.

Me too. If my table is that wobbly, I'd just get a new table. But I also got the point.

20 Cosmic X  Thu, May 10, 2012 11:03:11pm

re: #11 May Day! May Day!

Building the Third Temple (what you propose doing on your blog) and convening the Sanhedrin would remove these technical reasons, I assume? Are you looking forward to stoning some gays once the technical reasons are removed?

Wow, I went to sleep thinking that this thread was dead.

Yes, I am looking forward to the reestablishment of the Sanhedrin, the building of the Temple, and the restoration of the entirety of Jewish Law (see Maimonides, Laws of Kings 12:1).

I am not looking forward to the stoning of transgressors just as I am not looking forward to sending people to prison. I am looking forward to the day when "They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea."

21 Cosmic X  Thu, May 10, 2012 11:08:03pm

re: #12 Locker

Why the hell do people think it's perfectly fine to hate and marginalize people because some old book says it's ok? Why are they PROUD of being so intractable?

I do not hate gays. Nor do I hate adulterers or thieves. Just saying that homosexual acts are against Jewish Law, as is adultery and theft.

22 Cosmic X  Thu, May 10, 2012 11:13:37pm

re: #17 Obdicut

You were going there to protest, I assume?

Not at all. Both of Rabbi Kahane's sons in law taught me Torah. They suffered the loss of their father-in-law and brother-in-law at the hands of Arab terrorists.

Although I am not a Kahanist (neither are his sons in law) I admire much of what he did, wrote and said.

23 Cosmic X  Thu, May 10, 2012 11:18:01pm

re: #13 Ascher

Interesting that nobody in this thread questions the qualification of tikkun olam as a religious value. In fact, tikkun olam is no such thing. Tikkun Olam has its roots in the kabbalistic teachings of R Luriah.

We say three times a day in the "Aleinu" prayer "Letaken Olam BeMalchut Shadai".

24 Cosmic X  Thu, May 10, 2012 11:28:55pm

re: #14 Bob Levin

So what is the Torah talking about when discussing the group of forbidden relationships? They are never read individually, always as a group. And then, what is the Torah talking about by saying that these relationships matter a great deal, to people who are even unaware that these things are happening? Have you ever had a discussion that has taken this path, with these questions?

Good questions, Bob.

God created us with different impulses and desires. The Torah is telling us how to channel these impulses and desires in a positive fashion. Not only that, by limiting these desires, one develops self control. A person becomes the master of his desires and not the other way around. How many times have we seen people who have been consumed by their own passions?

A person may say, "Why should I care what two consenting adults do? If a guy wants to have intercourse with his sister, that's their business." The Torah tells us that we do not live in a vacuum. The good deeds that I do uplift the entire world, while my transgressions bring the whole world down.

25 Cosmic X  Thu, May 10, 2012 11:30:02pm

Thank you to all of you who left comments even if you disagree with me.

26 Bob Levin  Fri, May 11, 2012 2:59:34am

re: #24 Cosmic X

More questions.

Could you define 'impulse' and 'desire'? Are these physical forces of nature, on the same plane as--gravity, for instance?

The Torah is telling us how to channel these impulses and desires in a positive fashion.

Do you mean channeling energy, channeling feelings? Is there a relationship between the two--however, you define them? Does the nervous system play any part in this channeling? Are positive and negative useful terms? For instance, let's say I was busy committing a crime, making me late for work at the Twin Towers on Sept. 11--what happened? The crime saved my life.

A person becomes the master of his desires and not the other way around.

Then why give the Torah, why couldn't we just be nomads who eventually adopt Buddhism?

How many times have we seen people who have been consumed by their own passions?

There are observant Jews who are consumed by passions. What did they miss?

The Torah tells us that we do not live in a vacuum.

Is this a cliche, a little poetry, or are you referring to the space discovered by Torricelli? Speaking of Torricelli, what is your position on the idea of empirical proof?

The good deeds that I do uplift the entire world, while my transgressions bring the whole world down.

Again, is this poetry, or do you mean that the earth actually changes orbit? If you reply that these are spiritual concepts, could you define spiritual and physical? What category, for instance, would a dream fall under?

27 Michael McBacon  Fri, May 11, 2012 11:04:22am

re: #8 Cosmic X

Mr. X, if you are not a Kahanist then why do you have links to 'Kahane Resources' and 'Arutz Sheva' on your website?


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