Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Take me Chai-er

'Laizer at Wilderness City has a piece weighing in on the endless discussion of homosexuality and Judaism that I found engaging, but a certain spiritual inclination seemed to rear its head in his post that is perhaps best expressed by this short passage:

"The law aims to contain a volatile force - allow its positive expression, but keep it from finding its full, and damaging, expression."

Here's the comment I posted on his blog:

You write as though the channelling of sexual expression within a certain framework is basically a concession. Damage controll, containing a volitile substance. That sounds pretty familiar, but not essentially Jewish. "Better to marry than to burn with desire", Paul is supposed to have said somewhere in Christian scriptures.

But a classic of OUR tradition, Iggeret Hakodesh, sees the various guide-lines (hyphen intentional) as bringing sexuality UP to the realization of its true, ultimate potentiality in His service. In general, do we say that halachah CONTAINS our animal instincts, or ELEVATES them?

Mashal l'mah hadavar domeh? In the month of Elul, we do teshuva. There are (at least) two conflicting statements in the gemara regarding teshuva:

1) Great is teshuva, for it converts intentional transgressions to (merely) inadvertant ones.

2) Great is teshuva, for it converts intentional transgressions into MERITS!

Isn't this a contradiction asks the Gemara?

Not at all, it answers: in the former case, the teshuva is motivated by Yir'ah (meaning primarily FEAR of punishment, though it of course resonates with the higher harmonics of Awe and Divine vertigo); in the latter case, the teshuva is motivated by Ahavah (love - of Hashem, of course).

Likewise here, sexual expression channelled through halachah out of fear of the damage it can inflict when allowed to run out of control will at best achieve the containment it seeks, at the price of confining the Jew who constrains him/herself to a life of limited spiritual horizons. Sexual expression channelled through halachah because this is a vehicle to express love of Hashem in an unparalleled fashion, has the potential of transforming those two souls so astonishingly united such that, when the tide of holy presencing ebbs, the precious divine gifts deposited on the shore of one's soul become an integral and indispensible part of a newly discovered dimension of one's being, more finely orienting one toward Hashem.

Moshcheini - Acharecha Narutza! Draw me, WE shall run after You!


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