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On the Right Side

Michah Gottlieb’s equation of contemporary efforts to redefine marriage with the efforts to emancipate American slaves in the 19th Century (“When Orthodoxy Goes Too Far,” June 8) is, to be gentle, unimpressive. While the Torah, recognizing the reality of slavery throughout most of history (including in many lands to this day), provides rules governing that unfortunate phenomenon, it nowhere in any way commands the embrace of slavery. It does, however, forbid in no uncertain terms behavior that same-sex marriage is designed to honor.

Yes, as Gottlieb notes, American law and Jewish law do not inherently intersect. But secular law is a teacher. And when it redefines marriage it teaches Americans, including children, something that the Torah considers deeply wrong for Jews and non-Jews alike.

We Orthodox may not be able to stand up to the juggernaut of the marriage redefiners. We may even be, in fact, on the “wrong side of history.” But so was Abraham the “Ivri” — the “other sider” — who wasn’t afraid to stand on “the other side” of his era’s idolatrous society. We Jews who hold fast to the Sinaitic covenant are content, and unabashed, to be on the right side of Torah.

Rabbi Avi Shafran
Agudath Israel of America
New York, N.Y.


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