Rabbi Yoel Schoenfeld, Rabbi of the Young Israel of Kew Garden Hills in Queens, New York, told Arutz Sheva that the decision Wednesday by the U.S. Supreme Court striking down key parts of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and paving the way for greater acceptance of gay marriage, was a major step backwards for humanity that goes all the back to the Biblical Bila'am, whose donkey spoke to him. Religious Jewish media and rabbinic figures strongly criticized the move, some comparing it to the decadence of the ill-fated Biblical city of Sodom.
“This is a generation as foolish and as silly as Bila'am was,” Rabbi Schoenfeld told Arutz Sheva. “When a donkey speaks to you, you don't get into a conversation with it. You are supposed to take note that something extraordinary is happening.”
That was the attitude that Jews needed to take on the Supreme Court decision. “To live in a world of fantasy where two people of the same gender can be wed ignores the thousands of years that man has lived with a traditional marriage. The Supreme Court decided that anyone who believes that is bigoted,” Rabbi Schoenfeld said. The decision, he said, was a “wake-up call” for Jews and others who had faith in the traditional definition of marriage, that something was seriously askew today.
The striking down of DOMA, a 1996 law that prevented gay couples from receiving nearly 1,000 benefits even if the state they lived in recognized their marriage, shows that “the world is upside down,” Rabbi Schoenfeld said. “It's hard to understand how intelligent people people like judges could make such a decision. In a way, however" he continued, "the decision was a reassuring one for Jews. Our sages say that before the coming of the Messiah the world will see many strange things happening. Let us hope that this will be the final 'detour' off the [right] path before the Messiah arrives."