Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press
For millennia, two biblical verses have been understood to condemn sex between men as an act so abhorrent that it is punishable by death. Traditionally Orthodox Jews, believing the scripture to be the word of God, have rejected homosexuality in accordance with this interpretation. In 1999, Rabbi Steven Greenberg challenged this tradition when he became the first Orthodox rabbi ever to openly declare his homosexuality. Wrestling with God and Men is the product of Rabbi Greenberg’s ten-year struggle to reconcile his two warring identities.
In this compelling and groundbreaking work, Greenberg challenges long held assumptions of scriptural interpretation and religious identity as he marks a path that is both responsible to human realities and deeply committed to God and Torah. Employing traditional rabbinic resources, Greenberg presents readers with surprising biblical interpretations of the creation story, the love of David and Jonathan, the destruction of Sodom, and the condemning verses of Leviticus. But Greenberg goes beyond the question of whether homosexuality is biblically acceptable to ask how such relationships can be sacred. In so doing, he draws on a wide array of nonscriptural texts to introduce readers to occasions of same-sex love in Talmudic narratives, medieval Jewish poetry and prose, and traditional Jewish case law literature. Ultimately, Greenberg argues that Orthodox communities must open up debate, dialogue, and discussion-precisely the foundation upon which Jewish law rests-to truly deal with the issue of homosexual love.
This book will appeal not only to members of the Orthodox faith but to all religious people struggling to resolve their belief in the scriptures with a desire to make their communities more open and accepting to gay and lesbian members.
Rabbi Steven Greenberg and the issues he addresses in this book are further explored in the award-winning documentary Trembling Before G-d. This film, which includes Greenberg as one of its subjects, takes an intimate and personal look at homosexuality in Hasidic and Orthodox communities as told through the day-to-day stories of gay and lesbian members of these communities. Trembling Before G-d, currently on tour around the world and just out on DVD, will be meaningful to all those interested in Rabbi Greenberg’s story and the larger issues of Judaism and homosexuality.
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