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Orthodox Rabbi Suggests Adam & Eve ‘Black Transgender Refugees’

Trouble with words, is that if you’re not diligent corruption can set in and cause a label to become garbled or meaningless. Such happened with conservative, which once meant “upholder of Reality, Eternity, and Western Culture”, but which now often means “one who today believes what progressives believed yesterday.”

Here we have a fellow who labels himself an Orthodox rabbi “guided by the Torah”, yet who teaches that “The first human being” made by God “was black and white, gay and straight, male and female, a citizen of the Garden of Eden and a stateless refugee from the garden”.

Now this is not the traditional use of Orthodox. In the old days, the words “Orthodox rabbi guided by the Torah” would have signaled, say, that a lecture on the horrible consequences of Ham’s raping of Noah was on its way. Or perhaps a discourse on Leviticus 18: “Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind, because it is an abomination,” said God. An Orthodox-in-the-old-sense rabbi might have added, “And there is no higher authority than G-d, no, not even the New York Times.”

Maybe even a discussion on the parallels between Sodom and Gomorrah and the story from Judges 19 of “a certain Levite” who traveled to a distant town and met an old man with whom he could stay.

While they were making merry, and refreshing their bodies with meat and drink, after the labour of the journey, the men of that city, sons of Belial, (that is, without yoke,) came and beset the old man’s house, and began to knock at the door, calling to the master of the house, and saying: Bring forth the man that came into thy house, that we may abuse him.

And the old man went out to them, and said: Do not so, my brethren, do not so wickedly: because this man is come into my lodging, and cease I pray you from this folly.

I have a maiden daughter, and this man hath a concubine, I will bring them out to you, and you may humble them, and satisfy your lust: only, I beseech you, commit not this crime against nature on the man.

This story, as with the adventure of Lot, goes downhill from there.

The rabbi in question is Shmuly Yanklowitz, and he says that a close “textual analysis” of Genesis reveals “the view that identities of gender, sex, race, and ethnicity are not determined by nature but are largely developed as social constructs to make sense of the world.”

The refutation of social-construct theory is simple: ask the good rabbi if he had a mother and father. If he did—if he was born of a woman and sired by a father—then sex is not a social construct.

Yet rabbi Yanklowitz says “it would be blasphemous for one to apply one’s chosen construction of what is ‘normal’ or ‘natural’…” I bet he doesn’t talk to his mother like this.

Now Adam in Hebrew meant originally man. But corruption set in and the rabbi says “Adam can be discerned as embodying a singular personal concept”, and not male or female per se. He admits “this would seem contradictory prima facie” because, of course, it is contradictory prima facie. Yet he says his interpretation is “a sign of a Divine work in which all people are of equal status.”

The rabbi then moves from the true premise that “all descendants came from Adam and Eve” to conclude that “all descendants were contained within them”, which is false, unless contained is itself corrupted.

He then quotes from the Bereshit Rabbah (8:1), a midrash written some fifteen hundred years ago. Rabbi Yanklowitz says the Bereshit Rabbah says Adam “had both male and female sexual organs”.

Indeed, this text does say that. “Said R’ Yirmiyah ben Elazar: In the hour when the Holy One created the first human, He created him [as] an androgyne/androginos, as it is said, ‘male and female He created them'”, a conclusion which is a corruption or misreading of and.

Another rabbi in that same text disagreed and put it this way: “Said R’ Shmuel bar Nachmani: In the hour when the Holy One created the first human, He created [for] him a double-face…, and sawed him and made him backs, a back here and a back [t]here, as it is said, ‘Back/achor and before/qedem You formed me'”, which is a highly fanciful interpretation of back. Still another rabbi said Adam was a golem.

So there is great disagreement.

10 thoughts on “Orthodox Rabbi Suggests Adam & Eve ‘Black Transgender Refugees’ Leave a comment

  1. Trouble with words, is that if you’re not diligent corruption can set in and cause a label to become garbled or meaningless.
    Language is a “social construct” so of course it’s fluid and changeable. Fluidity makes it so useful, but it also unhinges it from accuracy. Labels often come to mean the opposite of their original definition. Curious thing, language.

  2. Rabbis need to stay out of the ceremonial wine and those brownies the parishioners bring them.

    Words have no meaning when you live in the Matrix. Science fiction is reality and we must submit. Resistence is futile. (It is allowed to mix as many scifi stories as needed to create what you want to say—words are fluid. Of course, fluids also drown people……)

  3. Often it is interesting to see how some, say, those who fancy themselves as philosophers, can completely miss the point of another’s essay. Often, but not here, where that is something of a norm.

    But worth addressing.

    Commonly the “bottom line” can be found at the end of someone’s exposition, and certainly holds in this case. Here’s the Rabbi’s point derives from some truths and seems reasonable enough:

    “Understanding that a singular set of beings contained within them all the genetic complexity and spiritual DNA that would later emerge in various manifestations of humanity displays to us that the human dignity found within the first people is innate and infinite in every subsequent person, regardless of their composition or persuasion.”

    – DNA testing shows that living humans are descended from a biological “Eve”, and, a handful of males. The rate of mutations known to occur in DNA indicates that humanity had a near extinction event roughly 75,000 years ago, when a volcano in India appears to have induced a so-called “nuclear winter” effect. So, relative to the Rabbi’s point, genetic DNA finding support the notion that all humans are related to a common ancestor.

    The Rabbi ends with: “Diversity is not something to push back against in the name of human uniformity. … And in doing so, we embrace the notion that all of us were contained in God’s first human creation. This makes each of us all equal yet –paradoxically — completely unique.”

    But that was just to underscore is point (his “bottom line”):

    “While I may not understand or approve the underlying reasons why each person chooses their particular lifestyle, as a Modern Orthodox pluralistic rabbi guided by the Torah, I feel it is my obligation to seek out those who are most vulnerable and advocate on their behalf. It is not enough to tolerate differences, but to cherish and nurture individuals so that they have the fortitude to go out into the world to live an actualized life.”

    And isn’t that a controversial and threatening notion … to help some oppressed member(s) of an oppressed group(s) better themselves — even if you don’t understand or approve of their lifestyle.

    The Rabbi raises a good point — reaching out & helping those in need is a good thing. He expressly does not say one should condone what what disagrees with as he himself says, explicitly, he does not necessarily agree. “Christians” have a name for that sort, “missionaries.” Even the Pope endorses some limited outreach to members of such groups.

    In this case Briggs ignores completely the core message of another messenger and by demeaning some conceptual thoughts (much of which ought be obvious as intended to make one think about the larger issue), which thereby serves as an inducement to others to dismiss the Rabbi’s actual message — that is an ad hominem attack (another recurring feature here), if a bit indirect. Briggs, and many others, cannot stop fixating on certain private behaviors of others … and that forms the focus of his essay [as usual], and try to suppress anything but prejudice and discrimination. Such is Briggs’ missionary work.

  4. Briggs, I think you’re confusing Orthodox Judaism with Conservative Judaism, a more recent branch. “Orthodox Judaism” isn’t like fundamentalism, as found in Christianity and Islam, but is expressed in faithful observances and a particular take on the Torah via the Talmud. I’ve known plenty of Orthodox Jews who were quite progressive and rational folks, not the least bit backwards or “fundamentalist.” Now, there are some off-shoots of the Orthodox, like the Hasidim, who can be a little annoyingly backwards (and rather intentionally dirt poor), and the Conservative movement was sort of an off-shoot of the Orthodox. But I wouldn’t go around expecting your average Orthodox Jews to behave and think like fundamentalist Christians.

    JMJ

  5. I am not surprised the Rabi is confused about gender. Here is the APA definition of gender and it is confusing.

    Gender (n): the condition of being male, female, or neuter. In a human context, the distinction between gender and sex reflects the usage of these terms: Sex usually refers to the biological aspects of maleness or femaleness, whereas gender implies the psychological, behavioral, social, and cultural
    aspects of being male or female (i.e., masculinity or femininity.)

    I have met many males and females but never a neuter.

  6. JMJ,

    Those distinctions are true, but it’s the rabbi’s own words that I used to describe him, as he described himself, as “Orthodox.”

  7. Ken writes (by way of quotation) “to help some oppressed member(s) of an oppressed group(s) better themselves”

    Not quite. To “actualize” themselves is the word he used. If he meant “better” he could certainly have used that word as he seems to be articulate and literate.

    I take the word to mean “be what you want to be”. I suspect nearly all people are prevented in some way from actualizing themselves. I would like to be a bird, but I cannot think of a way to actualize it. Flying a drone comes reasonably close. I would like to be a rich man, I haven’t succeeded at that, either.

    In the context of sex and gender, actualization is to be what you want to be; even if you are not what you want to be and what you want to be isn’t what you think it is anyway.

  8. @ Michael 2

    “To “actualize” themselves is the word he used. I take the word to mean “be what you want to be”.”

    That’s where you went “off the rails” by taking a concept, and only considering bits out of context.

    Here’s the Rabbi’s remark:

    “While I may NOT understand or APPROVE the underlying reasons why each person chooses their particular lifestyle, as a Modern Orthodox pluralistic rabbi guided by the Torah, I feel it is my obligation to seek out those who are most vulnerable and advocate on their behalf. It is not enough to tolerate differences, but to cherish and nurture individuals so that they have the fortitude to go out into the world to live an actualized life.”

    “actualized” has, and continues, to mean “living up to one’s potential” — nurturing and coddling some neurotic or mental health issue, rather than working to resolve it, is NOT consistent with the concept of “actualization.”

    Interpreting the remarks out of context, including introducing one’s one interpretation in lieu of theirs, corrupts the actual remarks.

    The Rabbi doesn’t agree with certain facets of a person’s lifestyle, does anyone really believe the Rabbi would help some vulnerable person to “actualize” some facet of themselves in a manner contrary to the Rabbi’s own personal faith-based values, or, to encourage others to do so (the audience for his article are Jews; its’ published in ‘Jewish Week’)?? That beggars belief.

    The consistent meaning, which ought to be plain to all, is to support certain marginalized groups in some wholesome way — that diversity-based discrimination is not good for society, nor is it consistent with [at least] Judaism’s core values.

    Again, the Pope has expressed very similar sentiments — which is not to say an endorsement of whatever perverted value or behavior some person might think they want for themselves.

  9. Ken writes “That’s where you went ‘off the rails’…”

    It appears I have never been on your rails. I continue on mine.

    ” ‘actualized’ has, and continues, to mean ‘living up to one’s potential’ ”

    That is a good interpretation. Here’s a question for you: Who defines what is your potential; you, or me?

    The answer is “both”. I define me for me, but I cannot prevent you from definining me. So I have as many potentials, and definitions, as there are people interested in making an observation. But out all that’ there’s two that matter: My definition of myself and my estimation of my potential, and God’s estimation of me and my potential. A few others also matter; the opinions of family and friend.

    But ultimately my life is governed by my estimation of myself.

    Therefore, actualization is “be what I want to be” because I probably won’t be what you want me to be.

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