Rochel SylvetskyRochel Sylvetsky is op-ed and Judaism editor of Arutz Sheva's English site. She is a former Chairperson of Emunah Israel,1991-96, was CEO/Director of Kfar Hanoar Hadati Youth Village, member of the Emek Zevulun Regional Council and the Religious Education Council of Israel's Education Ministry as wel as volunteer managing editor of Arutz Sheva (2008-2013). Her degrees are in Mathematics and Jewish Education.
We have a real problem. He is light years away from being politically correct and worst of all, refuses to change in order to be more in tune with modernity, refuses to be part of today's world and its egalitarian value system and to take part in the aspect of tikkun olam that includes the LGBT community as a normative sector in Orthodox Judaism.
Can you believe it? He is still standing adamantly by the verse that calls homosexual relations aמ "abomination" – a description that the modern world discarded years ago. He refuses to understand that we desperately want to be part of that world.
And despite the strenuous efforts that have been exerted to reinterpret the Torah verses that forbid homosexual relations, anyone who reads the original can see that they just don’t work. So while freedom of speech and thought are basic principles of the Western world, it is simply impossible to allow these fossilized thoughts to be expressed freely, especially not in the Jewish people's armed forces, the IDF.
He doesn't reject people with LGBT tendencies as human beings who deserve understanding and love, but refuses to consider LGBT sexual behavior a choice that is on the same level as heterosexual relationships. We, however, are not prepared to have anyone feel a need to keep his sexual preferences private, we want parades, weddings and shul parties. We want pride, not individual acceptance, recognition of this way of life as within the norm, recognition of the LGBT's right to his own narrative within Orthodoxy.
Gone are the days of the hierarchy in halakhic decisors and expounders of Torah thought, those dark days when pulpit rabbis considered their halakhic opinions on major issues to be of less validity than those of the Chief Rabbinic Council or acclaimed Yeshiva Deans and luminaries renowned the world over for their scholarship - and actually turned to rabbis like Rabbi Moshe Feinstein and Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik zt"l for advice..
He, however, still calls the Oral and Written Torah eternal, refuses to comprehend that most of these prohibitions are out of step and have no place in democratic society, that there has to be a way found to allow, for example, a cohen to marry a divorcee. He expects us to keep the commandments without questioning them, like at Mount Sinai, and without knowing the reasons for most of them.
And the tzniut (modesty) issue – really embarrassing. In the modern world men are used to being around women in the workplace and the community and it is solely their responsibility to control their inclinations. He insists on giving some of the responsibility to women. He also expects the tzniut factor to be part of a woman's decision making process, in career choices, in synagogue seating – and is the reason male soldiers asked to be excused from female singer's performances. Are we a primitive society mired in the Dark Ages where women are second class and in need of protection from men's lack of self control?
All that was missing was a reminder of the rules for the treatment of women captives during war, and we got that too from the new IDF Chief Rabbi, even though that irrelevant topic should have been expunged from the Torah long ago.
Sure, we want to be Orthodox, but even more, we want to be in sync with the mores of the Western world.
We have to overcome this stubbornness - and we have a great idea of how to do it. It has been tried before, unsuccessfully, but technology has improved immeasurably since then and it can be done. So - let's get together, translate the virtual ivory tower in our minds into one made of concrete - and build a tower (our talking heads want to call it the Tower of Babble) that reaches Him, goes right up to the heavens.
Then we can show Him that we are the ones who make the decisions, not some non-politically correct Creator who chose the Jewish People and thinks He can tell them how to run their lives.
The writer originally wrote this article in Hebrew for the Besheva weekly and has translated it for Arutz Sheva.