Virtual Talmud

Ohhh please…Rabbi Grossman’s position is a caricature of just the kind of simplistic, clichéd liberal thinking that has got us into this mess to begin with.

Firstly, I just want to be clear: If one haredi lifts up a hand to hurt one Jew in that parade than they will have committed a greater hillul hashem (an action that hides God’s presence) than anything any marcher will have done that day.

That said, my position on the march has nothing to do with rights! The gay-rights march has every right in the world to take place in Jerusalem. BUT AS ANYONE WHO HAS HAD ANY SUCCESSFUL RELATIONSHIP KNOWS, RIGHTS DON’T MAKE RIGHT.

Healthy relationships–and, for that matter, healthy societies and cultures–do not function based on rights but rather understanding, sensitivity, and mutual trust. (By the way, Rabbi Grossman, in terms of rights: Do you support the right of the gay community to be ordained? Do you perform gay marriages? Do you right ketubot (marriage contracts) and give gettim (Jewish religious divorce decrees) for gay marriages and divorces? Do you announce gay couples’ anniversaries from your pulpit? Why shouldn’t the gay community have the “right” to these religious ceremonies?

The truth of the matter is that looking at this issue in terms of rights just gets too sloppy and simplistic.

My problem with the gay-rights march is not the march itself. Personally, as I have argued elsewhere, I believe that the gay community should be given full equal rights and be treated politically and economically in the same way any heterosexual is treated.

What Rabbi Grossman forgets, however, is that this march has taken place a number of times in Jerusalem with little fanfare and debate. The reason for all of the commotion is that this year World Pride was originally scheduled to happen in Jerusalem in August, and that stirred the hornets’ nest. This year’s march was seen by the haredi community as being overly provocative.
Yes, Jerusalem is not owned by haredim–it’s the property of all of Israel’s inhabitants–and there is a limit to what haredim should be allowed to get away with. That said, contra Rabbi Grossman, I have no problem with cafes being open on Shabbat and for that matter with buses running up and down every street in Jerusalem during morning services on Shabbat.

My reasoning is simple: Those things are part of peoples day-to day lives. Having a bus run on Shabbat is not a political statement; it is a statement about wanting to go to the grocery store, or to visit friends and family. A march’s essence is not part of people’s day-to-day lives. It is meant to highlight and accentuate certain groups’ political and social identity. Its purpose is to stake out a position and make people aware of something in a demonstrative manner.

Having a gay march in Jerusalem will not breed one iota of good will between gays and those who oppose them. (Sure, the haredim are pathetic and a danger to the stability of a democratic state…but that’s not a good enough reason to stick a gay-pride parade in their face). The march is unnecessarily provocative, because ultimately it will not prove anything but the strength or weakness of a police force to separate the marchers and protesters.

Just because someone has a right does not mean it is in their best interest to use that right. It’s easy to be right; it’s much harder having a relationship.

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