A couple of months ago, Ari had posted about a San Francisco ballot initiative that would have banned male circumcision in that city.
Now, a Superior Court judge has ruled that the measure be removed from the ballot, saying that the state, not cities, has the right to regulate medical procedures. She also found that ban would violate the free exercise of religion: Read more…
My friend Michael Rosen posted a lovely article called “An Orthodox Jew Explains Why He Loves Christmas Music,” which I gladly reposted on the Ruth Institute blog. His article inspired me to share these thoughts.
When Jewish families observe the Sabbath, they are giving a tangible sign of faithfulness to God. We have Orthodox Jewish participants at the Ruth Institute. Some of our local Jewish friends came to our Ruth Institute Christmas party, but only after sunset last Saturday. Ari, our volunteer blogger, shuts down at sundown every Friday. So does Dr. Miriam Grossman, whose work we often feature and who has spoken for us. We know that when we want Dr. Grossman at our events, we have to schedule around the Sabbath. It is a pleasure, indeed, an honor, to do so. Read more…
Dr. J has often discussed the essential public purpose of marriage. Many of our commenters have dismissed her account of that purpose because it emphasizes the procreative aspect of marriage as the public purpose. They seem to think that this purpose was made up in order to exclude certain non-favored groups from marriage.
1. Every man is obligated to marry a women in order to be fruitful and to multiply and anyone who doesn’t engage in being fruitful and multiplying is as if he spills blood, and lessens the appearance, and causes the divine presence to depart from Israel. Rem”a:He who does not marry is not allowed to make a blessing or to engage in Torah etc. and he is not called a man, and when he marries a woman his sins are cast into doubt, as it is said: “One who has found a wife has found goodness and obtains favor in the eyes of God.” (Prv. 18:22)
While this purpose somewhat differs from Dr. J’s purpose in detail (and somewhat in practice as well), I think the case that marriage is about procreation (and always has been) is well nigh overwhelming.
Lest you think the sentence, “anyone who doesn’t engage in being fruitful and multiplying is as if he spills blood” is wholly without basis, I quote from a recent article about our nation’s second least fruitful city: Seattle. “There’s something missing from many Seattle neighborhoods: the sound of children’s laughter.” The same thing would likely be missing following a general massacre. Surely, Jewish Law does not literally consider a childless person a murderer. Nevertheless, it is essential to note that childlessness and murder share some practical results. (Seattle is the second least fruitful city. Any guesses as to the very least fruitful? No points for correct guesses. That one was just too easy).
“Rights Drunk!!” I’ve encountered such people. Not just consumers, but people so obsessed with having others satisfy their supposed “rights” that they would destroy all manner of societal institutions at untold cost.
Dr. J. has previously compared our modern hookup culture to “consumer sex.” Considering our modern obsession with “consumer rights” we can see how dangerous this idea can be.
Recently a petition called the “Statement of Principles” has gone around the Orthodox Jewish community about the status of homosexual members of Jewish congregations. The petition makes a number of good points. For instance, it reaffirms the obligation to treat one’s fellow with dignity and respect. It also reaffirms the impossibility of marriage redefinition according to Jewish Law.
There is a lot to be said for cultivating stoic virtues. The best people in the world, as far as I’m concerned are those that are determined to bestow upon others what they need. And they will make their own wants secondary.
The pursuit of happiness is fine. But assigning too high a priority to happiness and pleasure makes a person into a narcissistic jerk.
And here’s where I wonder if we ought to re-examine our commitment to happiness. It seems to me that there’s possibly some merit — if we persevere and have the sense to learn from it — in the other-orientation that is (good) parenting. It’s fine to go through life happy, in other words, but I suspect we also want to go through life without becoming big fat self-absorbed jackasses. Children really help in that regard. Read more…
The great medieval Jewish commentator on the Bible, Rashi wrote (in his comments to Leviticus 11:47) that it is not sufficient to have great knowledge of our moral precepts. Instead, the Torah requires us to be able to make distinctions between the pure and the impure. Between right and wrong. Rashi continues that it is not sufficient to be able to be able to make these distinctions only in the obvious cases. Instead, one must also be able to distinguish in those cases in which the difference between purity and impurity is as fine as a hairsbreadth.
The Bible depicts procreation as both a blessing and a commandment (Genesis 1:28, 9:1-7). Some medieval scholars count it as the first mitzva, both in order and importance, since it facilitates the settlement of the world and the ability for mitzvot to be performed (Hinuch). Procreation is further deemed as a central purpose of marriage, albeit not its exclusive goal (Tur EH 1), and one may even sell a Torah scroll to support a marriage (Megila 27a). Conversely, the Talmud declares, “He who has not engaged in procreation, it is as if he committed murder,” or alternatively, “has diminished the divine image (Yevamot 63b). Read more…