It seems like whenever there is a natural disaster, some religious figure blames it on gay marriage. (This one from Pat Robertson is not real.) Following Tuesday’s devastating earthquake in Washington—“We WILL Rebuild”—a New York rabbi repeated that claim. Check it out in the above video.
The HuffPo transcribes:
“The Talmud states, ‘You have shaken your male member in a place where it doesn’t belong. I too, will shake the Earth,’” Levin says.
He also notes that he does not dislike gay people.
“We don’t hate homosexuals,” he says. “I feel bad for homosexuals. It’s a revolt against God and literally, there’s hell to pay.”
Like I said, we’ve heard this one before. But if God really was exacting justice for New York’s gay marriage law, don’t you think he’d choose a bigger earthquake?
Now not only is this a strange teaching. We must chastise these rabbis for not doing their Talmud homework and for not paying closer attention to the text in Yerushalmi Berakhot (9:2), which several years back we translated and published through the University of Chicago Press.
According to the Talmud text, earthquakes are caused by any one of a number of acts: yes one of them is gay sex, but others are by disputes, and also by not taking heave offering and tithes from your produce, and also because God is just upset that the Temple is in ruins and there are theaters and circuses in Israel.
Rabbis ought to know better than to cherry pick among the Talmudic reasons for earthquakes.
To be sure, I do not think that Rabbi Levin is homophobic, as the headline for the above video says. But the video is relevant to this post and I have no control over that headline.