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.
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.