TEACHINGS OF THE ECOKOSHER REBBE
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QUESTIONS FOR THE RABBI

QUESTION:

Rabbi Gershon,

I have read many translations about Leviticus 18: 22 and 20: 13 and the one about a heterosexual man being bisexual with another man as if he were a woman is a reasonable interpretation. No matter what the interpretation, we do know a couple of things: 1) it is prohibiting male-male sexual activity of some sort (and not female-female) 2) it is labeled an abomination, 3) the verse right before it talks about Molech 4) oddly enough, the verse thereafter talks about bestiality (which uses man AND woman)

With this being concrete/tangible by the scripture itself, my questions to you are:

1) Since it does not say female-female (lesbian/bisexual women), do you believer that this was not said because of the inferior position women had in society. (Thus two men having sex would degrade at least one of the men because he would stoop down to the inferior level of a woman?)

RABBI GERSHON'S RESPONSE:

Women within Judaism were not, and are not, viewed as "inferior." Women have at various times in Jewish history been placed in a more or less subjected role, but not as inferiors. This is seen in the early creation myth of women itself. The creation story in Genesis 1: 26-28, suggests that man and woman were created equal. The later creation story in Genesis 2: has man created first and woman being separated from the man and thus shows a hierarchy of sorts (in that the man also names the woman "Passionate One - Eeshah" - from EYSH, fire, passion, and HEH, of God; a take on what the Adam (the Earth Being) called himself, an Eesh, a Fire Being) that is then modified by the statement "It is not good for the Adam to be alone; I will make an EQUAL OPPOSITE (Ezer Kenigdo) for him" (Genesis 2: 18).
Rabbi Moses ben Nachman (Nachmanides) said that the text does not imply the subordination of women to men; rather, it requires that human males are to be different from the males of the animal world, who mate and move on to the next partner. The Jewish man "wishes his wife to be with him always." This is a statement against promiscuity, which is seen as a degradation of God's intentions in creating human beings male and female. It is this promiscuity which becomes viewed as idolatry and is called TOEYVAH, an abomination.
The woman is also viewed in the role of the Messiah figure throughout the Garden of Eden story. The Adam gave the woman her name CHAVAH (Chet, Vav, Heh) which means Life Giver, but is a form of the Sacred Name Yod, Heh, Vav, Heh (Jehovah) which means All Existent Life Giver, as he saw her in the active role of animating man to fulfill his potential in life. The woman was viewed as the embodiment of the Divine in the humanly realm. Thus the Names for God Elohim, YHVH, Yah, and El Shaddai are all feminine in gender.
The fact that women served as Prophetesses, Warriors, Queens (ruling without a King), Judges and Priestesses show this to be so. In the area of ritual and governance, women normally were not present, their role being in the home and in rearing children.

QUESTION:

2) Do you think temple prostitution has something to do with pagan temple worship (which is why Molech was conveniently mentioned within the chapter of sexual sin? And on that note, why it was called an abomination. Since abomination is correlated with idolatry (thus participating in a sexual ritual act would be like praising another god besides God)

RABBI GERSHON'S RESPONSE:

The engaging in the sexual act as a method of creating a symbolic fertility response for crops and flocks implies that mankind can influence nature and the power of creation through magical means and thus denies the role of the Creative Power (Elohim) in bringing about prosperity of family, flocks and crops.
This is what makes a thing TOEYVAH, whether the eating of unkosher animals, improper sexual acts, or misdirection of God's power to another "Being."

QUESTION:

3) Back to the topic of the societal role of inferior women, is that why the scriptures before Lev 18:22 talk about a man committing this sexual sins as if he is so dominant/superior that he commits these acts upon woman? (I found that very interesting in itself when re-reading the chapter)
4) Lastly, still on the topic of women being inferior, I find it very strange that when it talked about bestiality it specified man + beast and woman+ beast. Couldn't the scriptures beforehand used woman + woman for an abomination? I believe that there was a cultural viewpoint of the world in which men were superior to women and both men and women (humans) were superior to animals (which is why the FOLLOWING verse specifies both male and female). (This brings up a lot of interesting points in the fact that In Sodom and Gommorah and Judges, the men offered the women first before men)

RABBI GERSHON'S RESPONSE:

The Torah does not condemn lesbianism because women are not able to emit semen and therefore are not viewed as "planters." The Torah views the emitting of semen as ritual defilement the same as it views the flowing of blood from the body without a wound. The sex act is not seen as causing ritual defilement (becoming what the King James Version terms "unclean)" thus lesbians are not doing anything "wrong." The ancient rabbis sought to rule against lesbianism but the Sanhedrin would not allow it, saying; "What the Torah allows, man cannot disallow."
The rules against bestiality are because of the prohibition against cross breeding species and not because of sexual sin. However, because of the sexual act with a dissimilar species, the animal was put to death along with the perpetrator.

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