The sanctity of the family as defined in the Torah

Of the three types of sinners, there is one group that is brazenly opposed to the Torah-true way of life. That group includes the heads of the Gay Pride Movement, who publicly reject family structure as defined in the Torah.

Rabbi Baruch Efrati, | updated: 06:40

הרב ברוך אפרתי
הרב ברוך אפרתי

The Torah differentiates between three levels of wrongdoing: sin, transgression and crime.

Sin (chet) is an unintentional act. It denotes someone who disobeys the law without being aware of it. He has to make up for his deed anyway, through an offering and repentance.

Transgression (avon), is an intentional act, a result of giving in to evil inclination and lust.

Crime (pasha) is the worst level of all, denoting an intentional rebellion against G-d, not caused by an error or uncontrolled desire, but by  a person's knowing G-d and rebelling against Him.

 On which of these levels can we put same-sex male relations?

Some of those with same-gender inclinations are righteous men and are not "unintentional sinners" because they do not act on their inclinations at all even though they are sorely tempted. They overcome this additional temptation and live lives as heroes who vanaquished their evil inclination. There is nothing to find fault  with where they are concerned, and in fact they are  highly esteemed Torah-wise.

The second group is defined as sinners (avon). They are people controlled by their desires who commit a severe sin because of their inability to overcome temptation. They are related to in the same way we relate to others who commit sins stemming from cravings, those who eat non-kosher food or desecrate the Sabbath.  These transgressors perform an act called an abomination in the Torah and are required to repent deeply. However, those who cannot control their desires, despite their committing an act that is considered unnatural in the Torah, are not the chief ideological enemy with whom we have to deal nowadays.

The third group are the ones whose acts are defined as criminal in the eyes of the Torah. They include the heads of the Gay Pride Movement, both the secular and outwardly religious among them, who brazenly declare that they "take no part in the family structure mandated by the Torah." It is not lust alone that fells them, but their turning a liberal progressive ideological weakness into a substitute for the Torah-true way of life and a supposed new definition of the Jewish family.  They are unabashed enemies of the Torah and it is against  them that we are ready to fight, non-violently, of course.

From the time of the Exodus, the Jewish People brought the world the message of the sacredness of the natural family, one in which every child knows who his father and mother are. This separates us from animals, where that is not the case. That is what the Torah expresses at the time of the Exodus, when it says how the Jews left Egypt "according to their families and  the house of their fathers." That is why a halakhically defined 'bastard' – that is,  a mamzer (according to that halakhic definition) is preferable to a shtuki – someone whose father is unknown – because a mamzer is the son of an identifiable father and mother. Despite his unfortunate status, the mamzer does not uproot the foundations of parenthood, as opposed to a shtuki whose father is unknown, and whose entire existence contradicts the word "family."

The Torah commands us to fulfill sexual needs in a way in which we show responsibility for the future. That means that these relations will lead to the creation of a nuclear family of  children with parents who will create a more moral world. Contra to Torah-true responsibility and ethics, the Canaanite and  Egyptian cultures were interested only in temporary pleasure granted by egoistic sexual satisfaction, ignoring the fate in the future the children brought into the world.

The Torah educates us to have an intimate conjugal relationship with someone of the opposite gender, a man with a woman and a woman with a man. Life can be created solely in that way. Same-gender relations are by definition only for momentary pleasure, lacking the creation that pregnancy symbolizes. There is no taking responsibility for the future of the world in that case. There is no love for someone who is inherently different because he or she is of a different gender. There is none of the joy when G-d said that "it is not good for man to be alone. I will make him someone to help him, opposite him."  There, at the start of the world, the Creator chose woman as the only way for man to be complete – "because she was taken from man." Nature points in that direction, as does Torah-true morality.

Those nations who tried to abolish the idea  of a family and formally afford recognition to non-normative families, are Egypt and  Canaan. Their culture is the exact opposite of that of Israel, and the Torah warns us severely to keep away from them.

That is why any artificial attempt to go back to Egyptian and Canaanite culture in our time, to prevent a child's being raised in normal fashion by his natural mother and father, calling that a "new family," is a tragedy and destroys the child as far as the Torah view is concerned – and as far as Nature's view is concerned – and is doomed to fail. 

This and more – our Torah stresses that the ethical structure of the family is a condition for remaining in and a way to merit the land of Israel. According to the Torah, loosening the very structure of the natural family threatens our rights to the Land  of Israel  (see Leviticus 18). In  fact, accepting the "new families" is tantamount to bringing the verse "the land will  vomit you out" to fruition.

That is why it is not possible to  be a rightist nationalist and to grant recognition to a skewed family of  two mothers or two fathers. A family that causes a child to be miserable, and is entirely a public rebellion against Torah culture. Distorting the definition of family leads to our being banished from our land, while strengthening the normative family leads to more settlement in it. G-d is signed on that contract in  the eternal words to be found in His Torah, and in His Name we can defeat the enemies around us who are out to destroy us.

There is no lack of love for Israel in our opposition to this behavior. We love each and every member of the people of Israel and wish them only good things. But this love does not make us blind to the problems that need solving. This is the reason for the criticism of those who lead a culture proud of committing transgressions, it is legitimate criticism but totally devoid of enmity and full ol solidarity as a society which cares for the continuity of the ancient, holy Jewish nation.  

For many years in my role as rabbi, I have tried to be pillar of strength for people who come to me and have same-gender desires. I see how hard it is to deal with these cravings, I feel the sadness of those who have to live with this inclination. I respect and admire those who vanquish their feelings in this regard, knowing that they and their portion in the World to Come are exalted. They are the proof that we have a future here  together, and that even though it encompasses an additional temptation, it is possible, despite the difficulty, to meet and overcome it heroically.