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Home » B'Chukotai, Events in the News

Bechukosai: The Gender Crisis

Submitted by on May 28, 2016 – 11:22 pmNo Comment | 466 views

Gender Issues

Even if you live in a cave somewhere in the mountains of Tibet, you have likely heard of the North Carolina Bathroom Bill that requires people to use the bathroom of their birth gender. This law has sparked a gender crisis because there are increasingly those who don’t identify with their biological gender. They consider themselves neither male nor female. They consider themselves others.

Women object to the presence of men in their restrooms, but these people counter that they aren’t men, they are others! Biology and birth gender aside, others feel that the Bathroom Bill in North Carolina discriminates against them and hence the gender crisis.

The world is not as simple as it used to be. We used to have clear lines of demarcation. Marriage was between a man and a woman. Gender was divided between male and female. Today, the world is complex. You want simplicity? You are in the wrong era. Did you know that social media sites today offer gender profile choices of male, female, and other? If you are other, you get to either type in your gender selection or pick from a long list of gender classification.

Obligation

It will come as no surprise that religion does not acknowledge the rights of others to fraternize with members of the opposite biological gender.  Liberal values are rooted in entitlements. The rights of others to access a women’s bathroom without discrimination, clash with the rights of women who don’t want others in their bathroom. The clash of entitlements leaves the nation paralysed with indecision.

Judaism isn’t focused on entitlements. Judaism is rooted in obligation. We are obligated to protect and provide for each other. Our obligations are not so much to each other, but to G-d. We therefore turn to G-d, when we are confronted with a clash of obligations. We aren’t paralysed with indecision; we have a clear value system that flows from the Torah. Its edicts tell us which obligation to fulfill and which to deny. If G-d’s law bars others from women’s bathrooms, we are forbidden to allow it whether we understand and agree with it or not.

The Gender Crisis

That is as far as the law is concerned, but the phenomenon itself, the quest for otherness, is fascinating.

On the surface, it is confusing. We have only two kinds of bodies; our genes and chromosomes are divided along two gender liens. But suddenly, we are confronted with otherness; a newfangled notion that has rocked our sensibilities. ‘What does otherness even mean,’ demands the conventional thinker? ‘Who is to say there can’t be something other than male and female,’ retorts the new age thinker?

Indeed, we have been forced to dig deep and rethink our models. Who is to say that male and female are the only designations? Who is to say that there can’t be other, non physical, designations?

This question is heir to the questions asked by the cultural revolutions of the 1960s. In the sixties, the youth rebelled against convention and career. In the eighties, came the revolution against marriage. Now comes the revolution against gender. The common theme is that people are expanding their minds beyond the linear dimensions of right and left. They are seeking the apex; they are digging deeper. Their conclusions have lead them away from G-d’s will, but their questions are not very far from G-d.

Gender Neutral

Many wonder about G-d’s gender, is G-d a man or a woman? This is of course a simplistic question for G-d has neither body nor image. But conceptually, does G-d identify as male or female?

A hundred years ago, most people would have told you that G-d is male. The Bible refers to G-d frequently in the male tense. But Torah scholars always pointed out that this is merely a grammatical convention. In Hebrew, an audience of men and women is always addressed in the male tense.

The truth is that G-d is neither male nor female. G-d is that ethereal classification, the apex of gender, from which male and female both derive. In other words, G-d is that other we have been talking about.

The Quest

Otherness comes from disenchantment with the status quo. The straightjacket model of convention that limits us to two options, worked for many centuries, but today it feels confining. People want more. Their souls seek something more expansive, something deeper. Their conclusions can be objectionable and non-conforming to Torah, but the quest is rooted in the apex of all things, including gender.

There is a burgeoning awareness that there is more to reality than meets the eye. It is true that body and soul are divided in to two genders, the two allocated by G-d – “Male and female He created them.”[1] But G-d Himself is beyond gender, He is that ethereal being from which all genders derive. There are likely an endless number of possible genders that G-d could have cooked up for creation. But in the end, He allocated only two, and this is the error of the Gender Neutral Movement. On the other hand, G-d Himself, the apex of gender, is a-gender, and that is the crux of the Gender Neutral Movement.

Moshiach

This breach of propriety, this break from tradition, this chaotic cacophony of objectionable conclusions, is egregious and unacceptable to Torah. But the awakening consciousness to a reality that transcends our confining limitations tells me that Moshiach must be close at hand.

When Moshiach comes there will be an unprecedented revelation of G-dliness. Things we never knew or imagined will become known to us. Every convention, every rule of logic, every model, every expectation will be shattered as we will learn new soaring insights that were never known before. We will grasp the ungraspable, fathom the unfathomable and conceive the inconceivable. We will look back to today and marvel at just how shallow our perceptions were.

As this day draws closer, the world stirs out of complacency and asks existential questions. It is a quest for meaning and depth; a search for the true self rooted in the one and only G-d. Without clarity of awareness, this quest has wandered into objectionable places, but the stirring itself is encouraging.

We are coming to accept that our shallow parameters of reality fail to capture the grandeur of G-d’s creation. There must be more, and surely there is. Just what that “more” is, we don’t know yet. That will be granted with the coming of Moshiach. Then we will know the truest dimensions of reality. We will understand the deepest layers of Torah; those known as Chukim, edicts that defy our comprehension.

The Torah promises that if we obey G-d’s edicts and refuse to alter them, knowing that there is more to them than meets the eye, G-d will shower us with Blessing. Including the paramount blessing, the coming of Moshiach, when we will be graced with ultimate clarity, insight and direction. Amen

[1] Genesis 5:2.

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