Friday, March 22, 2013

Judaism and the Creation of Family Life

Dennis Prager on how the Jewish exaltation of marriage raised the status of women.
 GOD'S FIRST DECLARATION about man (the human being generally, and the male specifically) is, "It is not good for man to be alone." Now, presumably, in order to solve the problem of man's aloneness, God could have made another man or even a community of men. But instead God solved man's aloneness by creating one other person, a woman — not a man, not a few women, not a community of men and women. Man's solitude was not a function of his not being with other people; it was a function of his being without a woman. Of course, Judaism also holds that women need men.  But both the Torah statement and Jewish law have been more adamant about men marrying than about women marrying. Judaism is worried about what happens to men and to society when men do not channel their passions into marriage. In this regard, the Torah and Judaism were highly prescient: the overwhelming majority of violent crimes are committed by unmarried men. Thus, male celibacy, a sacred state in many religions, is a sin in Judaism. In order to become fully human, male and female must join. In the words of Genesis, "God created the human ... male and female He created them." The union of male and female is not merely some lovely ideal; it is the essence of the Jewish outlook on becoming human. To deny it is tantamount to denying a primary purpose of life.

While traditional Judaism is not as egalitarian as many late twentieth century Jews would like, it was Judaism — very much through its insistence on marriage and family and its rejection of infidelity and homosexuality — that initiated the process of elevating the status of women. While other cultures were writing homoerotic poetry, the Jews wrote the Song of Songs, one of the most beautiful poems depicting male-female sensual love ever written. (Read entire post.)

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