Wednesday 5 July 2017

Rabbi Joseph Dweck

There's a big controversy on Rabbi Dweck's shiur (talk), which you can listen to the talk here.

It's 90 minutes, and worth listening to, but I think I can summarise it thus.

The Torah says, Leviticus 20:13, "If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them."

Dweck points out that this says that a penetrative homosexual act is forbidden. But that's it. You can fall in love, live together, you can hold hands, you can hug, kiss, and so on. All these other things that people disapprove of, have no basis in the Torah. Only the act of "lieth", as the translation puts it.

So, two things.

1) This is a case of cognitive dissonance. When you listen to Dweck, it's clear that he wishes that the act of "lieth" were not forbidden, because he regards it as an act of love. But the Torah forbids it, and that's that. He doesn't take the obvious additional step, that this verse should be ignored.

2) A large portion of the Orthodox Jewish community is in uproar; on the face of it about Dweck's talk, but in reality about the issue of homosexuality in society.

And it's about time.

Here's my suggestion. It is, in fact, mechanically impossible for a man to lieth with a man in the same way as he lieth with a woman. There's a key difference. Which means that homosexuals can indeed lieth with each other without breaching Leviticus 20:13.

There. Fixed that for you.


  1. Surely the writer of the verse in question was aware of the "mechanical" difference, and would not have bothered to inveigh against an impossibility. He meant what everyone thinks he meant, but was being circumspect in the way he expressed it. Besides which, you can do that with a woman too.

  2. We can only guess what he meant, but we *know* what he wrote. Maybe he anticipated this cognitive dissonance, and carefully arranged a loophole for us to escape through.

    Like Humpty Dumpty, words mean what we want them to mean.