Religion & Beliefs

Is the Torah Outdated and Irrelevant?

Blogger Israeli Mom made the following comment on a post I wrote about the Yeshiva University gay symposium.   “The gay issue is one of those things that prove to me just how outdated and irrelevant the torah is as … Read More

By / December 31, 2009

Blogger Israeli Mom made the following comment on a post I wrote about the Yeshiva University gay symposium.

 

“The gay issue is one of those things that prove to me just how outdated and irrelevant the torah is as a text to live my life by. It has good things in it, but it’s mixed up with so much primitive and sometimes barbaric instructions. It reflects a social ethos that was relevant to the primitive tribes that lived here thousands of years ago. Not really relevant to the 21st century. No offense.

Stoning for gay sex is just one aspect of it. Easy enough for me to solve as a secular Jew.”

The comment represents what I think are the opinions of a large part of the Jewish population at large, and some individuals in the Orthodox community as well. I myself have wondered about the relevancy of the Torah and although I lead a religious and observant lifestyle, ever since I left high school I have been questioning the whole thing we call "Torah Judaism."

Was the Torah merely written from a periodical perspective, or was it written to be, as they say, a living Torah? I am almost positive that if the Torah were written now it would be drastically different, but we can’t just rewrite the Torah, we can just reinterpret it like we have been doing for thousands of years. Besides – didn’t God write the Torah? Someone recently asked me if I believed if God wrote the torah and I said, I wasn’t really sure – it is a bit farfetched. Besides, in my mind, believing in God is definitely not rational even though I continue to do so. 

The more I try to explain the Torah and its wacked-out parts, the more I find myself busting out taykoos and halacha moshe misinai, but I can’t just say "we will find out when moshiach comes" for everything (sometimes I just think the moshiach thing was invented so we think we’ll get see our relatives again) and so that the Lubavitchers have something to do when they get drunk.

Even as an Orthodox Jew I struggle with the fact that much of the Torah is irrelevant (and downright offensive, nasty and insane), but what are we supposed to do about this? Maybe it will come to something like the Constitutionalists or the revisionists? What do you think?