Posts tagged " abortion "

Is what I read about abortion and Judaism correct?

September 10th, 2019 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 23 comments

Hello!

Please comment on a USA Today article claiming the Jewish faith teaches that abortion is permitted.  The article was published on July 27, 2019. 

Are they accurately quoting the teachings of the faith?

From:

Carole P.

Dear Carole,

Thank you for bringing this shameful,  painful and misleading article to our attention. The short answer is, no, they are not accurately conveying the teachings of the Jewish faith as expressed in our Constitution, the Torah. You can either build your worldview  around your religion or build your religion around your existing worldview. The latter is what most people quoted in the article are doing. Either religion means something or it doesn’t. You can’t just call on it and define it as you like.

The sad fact which we have to set before you is that about 70% of all self-identified American Jews have values that are not shaped by God’s vision as revealed in the Bible.  As has happened many times in history, they don’t merely wish to scuttle the Bible-based values of Judaism, they wish to change Judaism.   Among the many Jewish values that they have eviscerated is the value of life.  You can take it as a given that the more an American of Jewish ancestry supports today’s radical abortion views, the less he has to do with the faith of Moses and Aaron. That faith, while it does emphasize mercy and compassion, is nonetheless based on laws. When God’s laws are abandoned and only emotions are left, after a long and winding road, what started as compassionate concern for a desperate pregnant woman can step-by-step slide into support for infanticide, though no one back at the time of Roe v. Wade in 1973 would have believed that possible.

There is certainly room for a theological and worldview discussion in Judaism as to whether abortion is a category of  murder or whether it falls under a different prohibition.  Regardless, the positions of the Torah and those of today’s Democrat Party could hardly be further apart.   In Judaism,  if a woman’s life is in danger due to the baby she is carrying,  a valid reason for inducing premature labor exists even if the baby is not viable. For this reason, Jews who live by the Torah  are sometimes cynically  manipulated  by pro-abortion groups depicting a woman being forced to die during pregnancy or childbirth rather than having her life prioritized. As you know, American law is nowhere close to this extreme and an extraordinarily small number of  pregnancies today present such a dilemma. 

The dreadful article you cite quotes  one view by an authoritative Orthodox rabbi of the past few decades trying  to “prove” the acceptability of abortion in Jewish law. This is misleading for a few reasons. Firstly, because there is no Pope in Judaism, which is to say that we have no hierarchy of ecclesiastical authority. Within the ranks of those trying to be true to God’s Torah, there will be different opinions and discussions in trying to reach the truth. Each Jew is meant to choose which Rabbinical authority he follows. You can’t go “shopping” for someone whose views you like on a specific issue. We can guarantee you that the people in the article who approve the views of this rabbi do not follow his ritual rulings in other areas.

Secondly, while this rabbi’s position might have been more liberal (for example, to include extreme psychological distress under the heading of ‘danger to life’) in counseling women who personally consulted him thus allowing early labor  to be induced more than other authorities might condone, we can assure you that he would be horrified at being used as the poster boy for Planned Parenthood. The mockery of life that the modern abortion movement celebrates has no basis whatsoever in Torah-true Judaism.

Abortion is not a recent phenomenon.  The drive to completely sever the connection between sex and  reproduction goes back to the earliest pages of the Bible and the times of Noah.  Since then abortion has always been associated with the struggle against God’s authority on earth.  Jews have been among the world’s most ardent defenders of that Divine authority but  those of Jewish descent have also been most active in the timeless battle to defeat the Divine.  Combating this misapplication of Judaism is why the American Alliance of Jews and Christians was established and why we support its work.

One does not “accept” Judaism at some moving moment in life. It is conferred by birth. So  Judaism is almost unique in that you can hear of what sounds like an oxymoron—an atheistic Jew.  You can  hate God; you can disparage  everything He asks of us and yet still consider yourself Jewish. Only a small percentage  of Jews in America fall into the category of those whose daily behavior revolves around following Jewish law. They are not featured in this article.

It is an embarrassment.

Thanks for bringing this to our attention even though it made us squirm with discomfort,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

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Come Out Fighting

August 22nd, 2019 Posted by Susan's Musings 46 comments

A funny thing happened on the way to last week’s Musing. Actually, it wasn’t funny and neither is it rare. My thoughts, the ones that seemed so organized in my head, did not translate well onto paper. What was unusual was that the deadline for publishing the Musing loomed so close last week that I had to abandon my efforts.  Instead, I took one part of what I wanted to say and built the Musing around that, specifically my conviction that any gun control legislation must be linked to legislation that attacks a sacred cow of Democrat politicians. Otherwise, any changes will be a disaster for both the country and the Republican Party.

I’m going to try again to expand my ideas. Some of you were appalled that I might even consider red-flag legislation. I am aware of the potential abuse of those laws and how dangerous they could be. However, I do believe that refusing to discuss those laws or other gun-control measures puts conservatives in a losing situation. Those concepts sound so eminently reasonable to any voter for whom 2nd Amendment rights are not a priority. Faced with a picture of mourning families and media that only presents the side of the story that fits its agenda, many citizens cannot even imagine what there  is to discuss. 

It is almost impossible to underestimate the ignorance of the American populace. I don’t even mean this as a slur. Personally, I am juggling a marriage, a family, friends, a profession, a ministry and a slew of other responsibilities. There are tons of important issues of which I am relatively ignorant. It is almost impossible to keep up with everything that affects my world. The lack of honesty and professionalism among the current crop of reporters and information gate-keepers makes understanding complex issues even more difficult. We have to actively search out opposing viewpoints rather than assuming that they will be given fair treatment. Second Amendment rights are not most American’s priority.

For years, Republican candidates and politicians resembled Charlie Brown when Lucy yanked the football away from him at the last minute—over and over again. They would submit to interviews and then be shocked when the reporter blindsided them with an accusation, often on an unrelated topic. They naively thought their views were being sought, when in actuality the goal of the interview was to destroy their credibility. One of the key factors in President Trump’s successful campaign was his refusal to be put on the defensive. Instead, to the cheers of millions, he played offense. He set the agenda. 

Here is what I wish Republican politicians would do. Instead of going on the defense when told, for example, that 97% of Americans favor some change in gun registration, they should counter by saying, “You know, 97% of Americans reject the dismemberment of perfectly viable babies in utero, let only leaving a baby born as a result of a botched abortion to die, also known as infanticide. Both violent crime and these abortions show a disrespect for the life of ‘the other.’ Let’s make a joint statement that we need to move back to a time when Americans valued life. Let’s link a revision of any gun laws to a revision of abortion laws. No good person wants someone to mow down a room of people and no good person wants a baby killed. Let’s have a conversation about these things.”

Incredible as it may sound, i believe that, due to the extreme Left’s infatuation with abortion, Democrat politicians will run from this issue as if they were vampires being pursued by large heads of garlic. If by some miracle, enough politicians were open to linking these two issues, we would actually open the door to a valuable discussion of the spiritual ills this country is facing. Either way, every Republican and conservative politician would never respond to a question that includes the name of the NRA without introducing the name of Planned Parenthood. Rather than being painted into a corner, they would come out fighting. 

That is part of what I wanted to say last week although I didn’t manage to do so. I believe that it is illogical and historically inaccurate to think that acts of violence targeting large groups of innocent people will end because of the  implementation of stronger gun control measures. We need to create the opportunity to explain why that is. If the media has its way, only those who already agree with me will ever hear the reasoning behind that thought process. You don’t get that opportunity by allowing guns to be isolated as an issue as if they are the sole factor in the sad story of violence. 

P.S. I did hear back from Senator Lindsay Graham’s office saying that he only has time to read messages from citizens of S. Carolina. That is perfectly reasonable  (except that he keeps asking me to contribute to his campaign). Any of you from his state are free to share my words with him.

P.P.S. I apologize. I was unfair to Sen. Graham. Here are the exact words from his office: “Due to the large volume of mail I receive, I regret that I am only able to respond personally to inquiries from South Carolinians.”

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Winter White; Congressional Blight

February 7th, 2019 Posted by Susan's Musings 66 comments

I have a book on my shelves titled, Our Hearts Were Young and Gay. Anyone under the age of thirty could be forgiven for thinking that it is a contemporary political tome. It isn’t. Published in 1942, it is the story of two young women taking a European tour after finishing college in America in the 1920s.

My daughters grew up doing Rainbow Brite® puzzles and drawing pictures of nature’s colorful phenomenon. The rainbow’s vibrant appearance made it a popular theme for children’s parties and decorations. Today, the rainbow is a political statement.

I have a number of white articles of clothing in my closet. On Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the dominant color in the synagogue is white as Jews illustrate the idea of our sins turning as white as snow after we repent. I am drawing the line here. I am not surrendering the color white to today’s political resistance to the President.

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The Gosnell Movie

October 18th, 2018 Posted by Practical Parenting, Susan's Musings 31 comments

I did not want to see this movie. Despite its PG-13 rating, I knew that it would be distressing. How could it not be? Dr. Kermit Gosnell was a prolific abortionist sentenced to life in prison without the chance of parole. He was convicted for (among other things) murdering three infants and of involuntary manslaughter in the death of a patient at his clinic.

The reason that I am posting this as a Practical Parenting column as well as a Musing is that I recommend you take the parental guidance part of the movie’s rating very seriously. I would not have wanted to see this movie when I was pregnant or nursing. If my child’s youth group was going to see it, I would try, at a minimum, to see it myself first and decide if it is appropriate for my child. In Hollywood’s world, gore and violence are routine, so to them this movie may seem unremarkable, but the subject matter is mature and the visual impact is powerful.

The Gosnell trial is relatively recent history and the movie’s producers make clear that most of the material is drawn from transcripts and police reports. I knew of the trial and how unprofessionally the press tried to ignore it. It was a fight to produce the movie as well, and there is no question that there is a strong cultural attempt to suppress it. Each and every person who acted in or worked on the film is a hero because there will be ramifications to his or her career.

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Womanly Virtue???

November 9th, 2017 Posted by Susan's Musings 64 comments

Have you ever heard people (usually female) say that if only women ran the world there would be fewer wars and less aggression? That argument never resonated with me, but an emerging trend is revealing serious flaws in the concept.

The trend is towards the commission of violent crime by women. On Halloween, a woman in an upscale neighborhood of Baltimore was randomly attacked by a pack of 10-15 juveniles. I use the word pack deliberately, as the behavior resembled feral animals more than humans. The newspaper report reads,

“I had a red down-like vest on, so they grabbed the back of my vest and then held me, and then out in front of them came six young women with wood pieces that were like maybe an inch thick and about three feet long…” 

“They started hitting me with the wood, in the knees, a lot in my face…”

A number of other citizens were similarly attacked on the same evening.

Earlier in the year, in Chicago, two males and two females, aged 18-24, were charged with hate crimes after viciously torturing a mentally disabled teen. Once again, the attackers completely submerged their humanity.

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Three Cheers for Generation Z

February 23rd, 2017 Posted by Susan's Musings 16 comments

Can a video make you want to cry and cheer at the same time? Well, that was my reaction to this amazing video created by sixteen-year-old Autumn in reaction to a foolish and, dare I say, downright evil, article that ran in Teen Vogue magazine trivializing abortion. 

In her video, Autumn discusses the idea of female empowerment, dismissing the claim that ridding yourself of the bone of your bone and flesh of your flesh is empowering. Even if, to some degree or other, you accept abortion, each one is a tragedy not a triumph.

You won’t be shocked to hear that I do not read Teen Vogue. Nevertheless, Autumn’s video led me to take a look at its webpage. Here is their tag line: “The rebellious, outspoken, empowering magazine that you need right now.” A quick look at the titles suggested that their definition of rebellious is  walking in lock-step with academia, entertainment and most of the media. Outspoken, I grant them. Nevertheless, my biggest question had to do with the word empowering. 

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Choose Life

October 11th, 2016 Posted by Susan's Musings 14 comments

What if you do not want to pray for life? That thought ran as an undercurrent through my mind as I prayed the extra prayers during the Ten Days of Repentance that culminate with Yom Kippur – the Day of Atonement. Many of those prayers plead with God for the opportunity to live for another year. The soft whisper I heard was spurred by a beautifully written article, dictated by use of voice recognition technology because author Ben Mattlin cannot use his hands. Severely disabled from birth, he fights for life each day as he has done from infancy. During that time, he graduated from Harvard, became an accomplished financial journalist, married and raised two children, and achieved many other goals of which many healthy people only dream. In his article, he explains how much he values his life and how much value his life has. He was partially motivated to write by the legally sanctioned refusal of treatment to a fourteen-year-old born with the same birth defect as he, spinal muscular atrophy.

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Does Genesis justify abortion?

March 10th, 2016 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 2 comments

Question:

Kermit Gosnell (abortionist covictied of murder) justifies abortion using Genesis 2:7. (Adam became a living soul when God breathed the breath of life into his nostrils.) He claims that a baby does not become a living soul until it takes its first breath of air.
 
Please tell me that God’s language and Ancient Jewish Wisdom refute that notion.

∼ Darryl B.

Answer:

 Dear Darryl,

We are a bit tired and assume you are too of people who cherry pick through the Bible to support their own views. If you followed the view you mention, you would have to conclude that animals are not alive since God never breathed the breath of life into them. Somehow, I feel that Gosnell would not justify gratuitous and random killing of animals based on the idea that they are no more alive than carrots.

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