September 21, 2021
The Texas legislation virtually outlawing abortion that the U.S. Supreme Court permitted to enter impact, opposite to the half century constitutional precedent of Roe v. Wade, has despatched shockwaves by our nation. What is so gorgeous about this flip of occasions, and the opposite present challenges Roe v. Wade faces, is how Republican arguments towards the choice have modified over time.
God is now a part of the dialog. Republicans used to go away God out of the argument, however this has modified as a result of… nicely, presumably as a result of they know what God needs. But, in America, it isn’t presupposed to be that means.
Linda Greenhouse, a contributing opinion author for New York Times, paperwork the shift in Republican argumentation in a bit printed on Sept. 9, “God Has No Place in Supreme Court Opinions.” She writes: “…sensing the wind at their backs and the Supreme Court on their side, Republican officeholders are no longer coy about their religion-driven mission to stop abortion.”
The Jewish custom kicked God out of the business of human laws over a thousand years in the past. In a dialogue about an obscure legislation having to do with ovens, Rabbi Eliezer argues with all the opposite rabbis. He is so sure of his position that he invokes miracles to show he is proper.
Each miracle is rejected as having nothing to do with the dialogue, till, after a heavenly voice pronounces that Rabbi Eliezer is correct, we learn: “Rabbi Yehoshua stood on his feet and said: ‘It is written: “It shouldn’t be in heaven!”‘ With that, God was banished from the discussion.
Rabbi Joshua is quoting Deuteronomy 30:11-12, “Surely, this Instruction which I enjoin upon you today shouldn’t be too baffling for you, neither is it past attain. It shouldn’t be within the heavens, that it’s best to say, ‘Who amongst us can go as much as the heavens and get it for us and impart it to us, that we might observe it?'”
The point is, human beings have the intelligence to figure things out. They don’t need God telling them what to do.
Rabbi Joshua, Rabbi Eliezer and the rest of the rabbis were engaged in an epic debate and a clash between biblical and rabbinic Judaism. It was a discussion that our debate about the separation between “church and state” echoes.
Rabbi Eliezer is like a biblical prophet. He is preaching from his gut; he knows he’s right and that God is on his side. He represents the biblical tradition that God let’s known His will through direct revelation. Rabbi Joshua and the others were arguing from rationality; from the keen use of argumentation and reason.
Following the biblical period, the Jewish rabbis believed that God had turned over the responsibility for legislation to humans. We no longer rely on what people think God wants, but rather, on the careful use of the human mind to discern what’s right.
How did the rabbis come to this conclusion? Through reason! And through the belief that it was God’s intention all along to turn over the responsibility for discovering truth to humans, who would use the gift of the mind to arrive at truths that reflect the experience of human beings.
One can interpret the Hebrew Bible as a story of God’s withdrawal from earthly affairs and turning matters of judgement and morality over to us. In Genesis God is all over the place. By the end of the Bible He’s hardly to be found.
How did the rabbis come to believe that God wanted us to discover truth by using human reason and rationality instead of relying on voices from heaven? In a rabbinic story that takes place before creation, the rabbis imagine that in heaven God was contemplating creating Adam. The beings that made up God’s court, we might call them angels, were debating about whether or not that was a good idea.
The debate is described in this way: “…the ministering angels shaped themselves into teams, a few of them saying, ‘Let him be created,’ whereas others urged, ‘let him not be created.'” Some argued Adam should be created because he will do good deeds and acts of justice. Others argued against humanity’s creation because people will wage war. “Truth” argues against the creation of humanity because people will be “stuffed with lies…”
And the story goes on: “What did God do? God took maintain of Truth and cast it to the bottom, as it’s written, “and truth will be sent to the earth.”
When the ministering angels ask God why he did that, God replies, “Let Truth arise from the earth!” That’s why Scripture says, “Let truth spring up from the earth.” (Psalms 85:12)
The rabbis are telling us that God understands that “truth” and the human situation can’t exist aspect by aspect. God’s fact alone can’t be the criterion for human legislation, which should be discerned by the expertise of actual human life. God chooses people and their skill to motive over His “truth.”
God casts fact to the bottom and says that the reality that informs human life won’t come from the heaven right down to earth, however will sprout from the bottom. Truth would not come from heaven; however from earth as people can greatest perceive it.
Contrary to the film, Raiders of the Lost Ark, we do not know what occurred to the primary tablets that God gave Moses on Mt. Sinai. According to custom the shards of these damaged tablets, written by the “finger of God,” had been locked up within the ark by no means to be seen once more. Why? One scholar, Daniel Taub, suggests it is as a result of these shards had been very harmful. If one got here into their possession, one may suppose they owned The Truth.
Hardly something is extra harmful than those that suppose they know God’s thoughts and God’s fact. The Texas anti-abortion legislation is proof of that fact.
Michael Berk is Rabbi Emeritus of Congregation Beth Israel, the biggest Jewish congregation in San Diego and the oldest in Southern California.
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