Tuesday, July 2, 2013
Paradigm Shift - Generation of the Flood 2013
There are many reasons I don't envy those who grew up in previous generations. Growing up in post Cold War America during the advent of the internet, CD's, text and instant messaging, and xbox was truly a blast. However there is a phenomenon which truly aggravates me and instills a feeling of jealousy for the generations of my parents and grandparents. That is the long lost ability to speak honestly about the issue of homosexuality and gay marriage. In their generation it was still fairly accepted by normal society that homosexuality was not only not a normal (or healthy) lifestyle, but even one that one should be kept hush hush lest one's professional and social reputation be flushed down a toilet of shame. In my parents' generation people were "in the closet". In my generation the big thing was "coming out of the closet." I sometimes ponder if my own children will grow up in a generation where they won't know what those who speak about the "closet" are even taking about.
It doesn't even bother me so much if somebody themselves is gay, or that there are people like that in the world. It's one of those things that has been around since the beginning of the human race and I don't see it going away anytime soon short of Mashiach coming, please G-d. Indeed, in my personal dealings with people, I tend to act according to the philosophy that whatever you do behind closed doors is strictly between you, the other person, and G-d.
So what really irks me about this whole topic? The complete and utter loss of the ability to call a spade a spade. In previous generations nobody would bat an eyelash were one to suggest that homosexuality is abnormal (or even immoral). Yet today everything is so topsy turvy that not only has it not polite to forward such a premise, but suddenly you are the one who is not normal for even thinking such a thing. If you call into question the morality of a deviant lifestyle, not only is your query assumed to be baseless but your own morals must now investigated. Indeed, the majority opinion of the recent Supreme Court ruling essentially claimed opponents of gay marriage to be enemies of the human race. So much for everyone having the right to hold their own opinion, eh?
Yet it's not just me that is bothered by the current conventional wisdom of society and law - G-d is bothered too. In fact, it seems according to the Torah that He is bothered much more by public acceptance of flagrant violations of His will than He is by the committing of the acts themselves. While things like homosexuality and abortion are a constant in civilization, it is usually only when they become commonplace and wholly accepted by society at large that G-d so-to-speak "intervenes." Chazal say that though the generation of the flood were steeped in wickedness, G-d only carried out the flood once men started writing official ketubot for other men (and animals). In speaking about the generation of the flood the Me'am Loez brings a midrash from Berishit Rabbah that men would be with each other and animals publicly as it if was a normal wedding and without the slightest embarrassment. Additionally, it mentions that when the passuk states "הנפלים היו בארץ בימים ההם" (commanly translated as "The giants were on the earth in those days") that the word nephilim is missing an extra yud and should have been written הנפילים. Instead you can re-read it as nephalim or miscarriages. This is because it was so common for women to have illegitimate children and to subsequently get an abortion to cover up their adulterous behavior that literally "הנפלים היו בארץ" - the earth was filled with the buried aborted fetuses.
Sound familiar? Though not all of the media chose to cover it, the last few months featured headlines about the Philidelphia "House of Horrors" run by abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell. Gosnell was charged with eight counts of murder, only seven of which involved children (the 8th being an adult female patient who died from being given an overdose of anesthesia and painkillers). Of those he was convicted of 3 counts. Yet even if he had been convicted of all seven counts of child murder, it still leaves him free of accusation for the 16,000 other abortions he committed during his career. Basically the legal system was sending a message that while he should be held culpable for children he killed past their 24th week of life and those whom showed signs of life after coming out of the womb, the murder of 16,000 other children who were killed at least one week before that time were considered perfectly legal acts. Yet abortion is another one of those "protected rights" which one dare not call into question lest they be outed for the hate monger (or in this case misogynist) they really are. How dare one criticize a woman's right... to murder her unborn child?
But while these phenomenon are already firmly entrenched in the West and are now more often then not being codified into law, we too are not spared here in Israel. According to official estimates there are roughly 20,000 abortions performed every year in Israel, though sources like Efrat say that when you factor in illegal abortions the number is more like 50,000 annually (read it out loud and see how it sounds in your ears- fifty thousand). But let's take the stat of the legal 20k just for argument's sake. And for additional argument's sake let's be conservative and say that 90% of those are the result of rape or they present a health risk to the mother or child (as other reasons such as pregnancy outside of marriage or a mother under 17 are considered sufficient to justify terminating the pregnancy). The remaining 10% leaves us with 2,000 abortions a year - a little over one and a half times the amount of people killed in both Intifadas combined. Again, this is not factoring in the additional estimated 30,000 which are not done legally (and much fewer of which I imagine are based on factors like rape or health risks).
Several years ago a family friend of ours contracted CMV while pregnant and due to her being religious and living in Jerusalem the doctor didn't push abortion though he did tell her that had she lived in Tel Aviv he would have flat out told her to abort. Thank G-d she and her husband chose to follow through with the pregnancy and today have a beautiful little girl who, other than a few periodic tests, is a perfectly healthy child no different than any other one. Granted, the potential risks to the child from a disease such as this one is not simple and G-d forbid it could have ended very differently. However, while decisions like this must always be a delicate balance of consultation between qualified doctors and Rabbanim (as well as prayer), when an attitude is prevalent that a fetus holds little value and is not viewed as an individual life it's much easier to throw that life away, regardless of the chance that it might end in a fully viable and healthy child.
And while Russia passed a law banning gay parades in Moscow for the next century, the police in Israel bring extra officers from all over the country to protect the annual one in our own capital. Additionally in Tel Aviv several Israeli cabinet members attended gay pride week - which last year featured a parade that ended with a mock chuppah where several gay couples exchanged the updated vows proclaiming, "If I forget thee Oh Tel Aviv, then let me forget my right hand."
But the good news is that while you may not have to ability to speak freely about these issues, you do have the ability to build a boat. A really big boat. And with continued feakish weather occurrences in America and record rainfall this past year in Israel it might not even be that bad an idea. You can even try to bring a few pairs of different species of animals on board- though you might want to do it before it's legal to start marrying them... or find a convenient clinic to help you out when things don't go according to family planning for that matter. After all - who are you to tell Rover or Fido what to do with their bodies?