A certain publication has as its headline article the denouncement by several well known and vociferous individuals of the most surprising announcement, that the Chief Rabbi is against same sex marriages. It can be hardly unexpected that an orthodox rabbi adopts a stance on an issue that is entirely consistent with the principles and laws of his religion. Do any of these twenty two individuals, or anyone else for that matter, condemn the Chief Rabbi for being consistent with the uncontroverted teachings of his religion? If one accepts, as the Chief Rabbi undoubtedly does, that the Torah and Oral Law are Divine in origin, and that the explicit rulings of the Code of Jewish Law reflect that Torah, then the popularity of that Torah or any of its rules, or the approach of any number of intelligent newspaper correspondents to any law of the Torah, do not signify.
I might like pork and I might wish to eat it but Jewish law proscribes its consumption. Too bad for me, or any pork inclined rabbi, the pork cannot be eaten in a permitted manner under Jewish law. I have absolutely no idea how many of the twenty two signatories of this outrageous outrage expressing letter are either Jewish or observant of any level of kashrut. What is certain is that if the Chief Rabbi decided not to pitch up at the synagogue this coming Saturday morning but went off for bacon sandwiches at MacDonlads instead (something he is highly unlikely to do) there might then be grounds for the expression of both shock and condemnation of his actions. This would actually be a news worthy item. Similarly certain sexual relationships and marriages are forbidden by Torah law. Why is anyone disappointed or outraged when the Chief Rabbi adopts a stance that is entirely consistent with that?
You may not agree with Jewish law in respect of same sex marriages or any other issue. You may not feel bound by it and may choose some alternative. If you wish to enter into certain relationships or marriages that are forbidden by Jewish law you will find that our liberal democracy accommodates those relationships, the opposition thereto by certain individuals or religions notwithstanding. The Civil partnerships law has been passed by parliament and assented to by the Queen. If your ‘lifestyle choice’ accords with this or tolerates it, you are able to go ahead. No orthodox rabbi is issuing death penalties and no orthodox Jews are mounting terror campaigns against those who enter these relationships. Orthodox rabbis are not calling for anyone’s death. Adultery has long been decriminalised in this country. The Chief Rabbi is unlikely to express too many sentiments in its favour.
In this democratic country your are entitled to disagree with any religion or any of its teachings. The Chief Rabbi, and any orthodox rabbi for that matter, has no power to amend or uproot any Jewish law, no matter how unpopular or disagreeable it may be to anyone. He cannot publish some encyclical or Bull or Responsum rendering any portion of the Torah or Jewish law more politically correct or different from what it is. He cannot produce De Choppus ex Changus and amend the Torah. He does not have to want to either. He, and others, may follow their beliefs and principles and stand by them firmly and proudly. He may express his opinions in any democratic debate. He may and must, as Chief Rabbi, represent the Jewish approach to any question. Marry or civilly bond with whomsoever the law of the land allows, but do not expect the Chief Rabbi to add his blessing. Disagree with the Jewish approach, but do not condemn the Chief Rabbi when you signatories know full well not merely that he is fully committed to his religion but that his religion has standards by which he is bound.
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