• Ben Hazmanim

    Hello, As a person of the Chasidic Torah Jews I also agree with everything written above. We believe that loving your fellow human is paramount to loving the Infinite One G-D who loves all His Children. (By doing so we also learn to love the Lord and deepen our relationship with Him and His children.)
    So it’s asked : “Doesn’t the Torah speak of death for various sins”? Yes it does, but those rare sins could only be tried under all 3 of these conditions :
    1 Only when there is a Holy temple
    2 Only when a Jewish King reigns in Jerusalem
    3 Only when the Sanhedrin court of 120 Judges sit.
    We need 3 or no crime of death is judged.
    Torah leaves judgement up to the true Judge only and we obviosly will not say what His Divine Wisdom demands for each human. Kindness, severity, compassion or a mix of all 3!

  • ben in oakland

    “Truly pious Jews would have known better. Were the killers were simply acting out their own aggressive tendencies, and putting a sacred sticker on them?”

    Sorry, Mr. Salkin, but this statement is just another variation of the “no true Christian” fallacy, so beloved by so many religious commenters here at RNS. In this case, it’s the NO TRUE JEW.

    Google Yehuda Levin.

    NO TRUE CHRISTIAN BELIEVES “X”. Smith believes X. Therefore, Smith is not a true Christian, and we True Christians (TM) get to pull a pilate on him and wash our hands of the matter.

    Too bad if he kills someone. we already repudiated him.

    for hundreds of years, gay people faced the death penalty for “the abominable crime against nature, not to be named among CHRISTIANS.” Then they got slightly enlightened, and reduced it to jail. finally, the civilized world took that out of play, with the US being one of the last to remove it from the penal code.

    Own the harm dealt out to gay people by religion.

  • Neon Genesis

    How do you reconcile this view with the passages in Leviticus which according to the traditional literal reading of them call for the death penalty for gays?

  • Larry

    My guess would be that nobody gets the death penalty until the Temple gets rebuilt, Israel becomes a monarchy and there is a ridiculously elaborate judiciary in place. So its written off as never having to be enforced due to impossible conditions precedent required.

  • Eiott K

    Dear Ben: One shouldn’t speak of “Religion” as some monolithic entity. It is a reflection of the ideas of the times it was created and interpreted in. Certain Muslims still believe in mercy killings for women engaged in premarital sex. That is their society’s interpretation of the writings in their holy books at this particular time. We Jews no longer believe in this, though there are instructions in Leviticus to do so. RE: killing homosexuals in Leviticus, of course, is severe and, in time, just about all sane, rational people have found it ridiculous. But, again, different people interpret ideas differently. It isn’t fair to blame “Religion” as some faceless juggernaut that kills gay people. You would be dismissing so many of the great ideas and beliefs that come from the world’s religions. Wouldn’t it be far more productive to try and change how people interpret their holy books? Rabbi Salkin is trying to change people’s opinions in this arena and I applaud him for it.

  • ben in oakland

    I don’t think you understood my point.

    I don’t now and never have spoken of religion is a monolithic entity. That is something you should have understood from my description of NO True Christian and the fallacies of that idea.

    religion isn’t some faceless juggernaut– not NOW, at any rate– that kills gay people. I have long acknowledged the contributions to anti-anti-gay theology by liberal denominations, and even by conservatives who can’t stand the violent rhetoric.

    But, as I said elsewhere, you can google “christian statements calling for death for homosexuals” and you will get 9 MILLION hits. We have constant statements from so-called christians like this: “Well, at least we’re not as bad as the muslims.” Small-c conservative jews like Yehuda Levin and the pride assassin are no better.

    It is only religion that gives cover to this ancient, vicious prejudice by calling it “sincere religious belief.” No atheist does so in the name of atheism– OR RELIGION.

  • Jack

    Neon Genesis, there were a number of behaviors, including certain kinds of defaming or degrading of parents, that were capital crimes in the Torah. Of course, if every person guilty of them were executed, few would be standing. The ones throwing the stones would have to be executed too.

    The Talmud states the obvious — the death penalty was not rigorously applied in ancient Israel. So does the story in John’s Gospel of the woman caught in adultery. When Jesus said, “he who is without sin, cast the first stone,” He was saying “none of you would be alive today if every capital offender were executed.”

    So why was the death penalty not applied regularly in ancient Israel? The answer is that embedded in the same Torah which prescribed death for a number of actions was institutionalized mercy — from an elaborate sacrificial system designed in part for that purpose to a yearly Day of Atonement. The same God who laid out standards of justice provided for mercy.

  • Jack

    Ben, the history of the Jewish people, pious and secular alike, doesn’t evidence the kind of bloodthirstiness that would have to be there for your attempted refutation of Rabbi Salkin to work. There is no long trail of blood shed by Hebrew tribunals.

    In other words, what that lunatic did is not part of any historical Jewish pattern.

    As both the Old and New Testaments show, Jews had their share of bad kings and priests, but also Jewish prophets and others to confront them for their evil.

  • Jack

    Put another way, the institutions of mercy in the Torah, found almost side by side with the pronouncements of judgment, make it clear that the same God who revealed His holiness and what people deserved for defiling it also revealed His merciful nature by providing pathways for atonement, repentance, and forgiveness. Clearly His mercy triumphed over His judgment in daily life — again, as evidenced by the fact that the meting out of death was the exception rather than the rule.

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