Two Books and Some Thoughts
Rapoport, Rabbi Chaim. Judaism and Homosexuality: An Authentic Orthodox View. London: Vallentine Mitchell, 2004.
Greenberg, Rabbi Steven, Wrestling with God and Men: Homosexuality in the Jewish Tradition. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2004.
Two books that I recently came across interested me a great deal. Being a Jewish gay man, I wanted to know where I stood in terms of my religion–although to be quite honest, it didn’t really matter. I had already formulated my dealings with religion and I had chosen the road that having been born a Jew, I would also die one and that was that. If any of you read my thoughts on the matter in my essay, A Piercing Thought then you know what I am talking about.
Rabbi Chaim Rapoport in Judaism and Homosexuality: An Authentic Orthodox View explores the Jewish stance on homosexuality. In doing so, he combines the issues of traditional Jewish law with a deep understanding of the moral and philosophical trends in the world today. Surprisingly enough, he does not maintain a conservative view and advocates that the Jewish theologians and clergy must adopt a fair and balanced perspective. What he has done is present a fair study of religiosity and documents his thoughts so that should there be questions, one can also find the answers. His explanations are based upon values and traditional teachings and he gives a framework for co-existence. It is interesting to me to see an orthodox rabbi take such a liberal view and Rabbi Rapoport is a brave man to risk the challenges he will undoubtedly face. The two chapters which really provided a great deal of information for me were “The Nature of Homosexuality–A Jewish Perspective” and “Questions and Responses” in which the rabbi speculates on the questions that will be asked and answers them before hand.
`Rabbi Steven Greenberg is an orthodox American rabbi who also happens to be gay. His book, Wrestling with God and Man: Homosexuality in the Jewish Tradition, is a result of his ten year struggle to reconcile self and religion. Greenberg’s approach is Biblical in nature and he presents interpretations of the creation, of David and Jonathan, of the tale of Sodom and Gommorah and a new way of looking at the so-called taboos of Leviticus. His way of dealing with the issues is relationship centered and in doing this he draws on other texts to enhance the writings of the holy books. He reaches a conclusion similar to that of Rapoport–that a dialogue must be opened to be followed by debate and discussion, the same type of foundation upon which Judaic law is based.
This is not a book for Jews only. This is a book to be cherished by all who are interested in the topic of faith. What I loved was that it was written together with the author’s own personal journey, Greenberg does not hold back–he says it as it is.
Both of these are valuable books for anyone who wants to attempt an understanding of the nature of God and man. I, personally, feel stronger in my faith for having read them. I believe you will also.