Torah for Today! This week… the Orlando shooting

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Torah for Today! This week… the Orlando shooting

This week's insight on the Torah's view is Rabbi Zvi Solomons, focussing on the deadly homophobic attacks this month

In one of the latest terror attacks to hit the headlines, a young Islamist entered a public place and killed 49 people and injured 53 in Orlando.

Atrocities like these are encouraged by terrorist organisations such as ISIS and Hamas. Victims have included Jews, partying young Westerners and, in this particular event, mainly gay men.

The irony of a self-hating, repressed gay Muslim killing gay Americans at a gay bar he used frequently cannot be lost on us. Can there be something to say from a Torah perspective on this matter?

The reason some Muslim extremists can rationalise such murder is they have little and only recent experience as a religious grouping of living in any numbers outside Muslim countries. We Jews have been doing it for 2,500 years.
When Pirkei Avot tell us to pray for the peace of the country, when the Gemara tells us that dina d’medina dina, the law of the land is the law, we understand that we have to respect the law of the country and to maintain it. I am certain there is Islamic jurisprudence to equal this, but it is not as deeply ingrained through practice. That comes with time.

As for their being gay – a shrill fascist might ask whether I, as an Orthodox rabbi, shouldn’t rejoice in the demise of sinners?

What a thought! We’re not so far from Rosh Hashanah, when Jews are reminded there is no human being who has not sinned.

Moreover, these are human beings made in God’s image. What gives any random religious zealot the right to kill in the name of His law? None of us are on the spiritual level of Pinchas.

It should be remarked that we, too, have our crazies. How very different is the man who killed those poor people in Orlando from the Jewish zealot who killed Shira Banki, a 15-year-old teenager fatally stabbed at last year’s Gay Pride parade in Jerusalem?

We note there are a million times more Muslims in the world and in the USA they have access to rifles.
Our own community does not make it easy to be openly gay. We are not all welcoming to our LGBTQI friends.
Our Orthodox religious rules mean we cannot accommodate aspects of modern life like gay marriage – but this should not stop us from reaching out.

On this matter, none of us should be smug or complacent.


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