Thursday, October 03, 2013

Of Celibacy in Torah

The Lonely Corridor
Permission from TA Productions
Torah clearly tells us, "It's no good for man to live alone!" (Gen. 2:18)

Of course, therefore, Jews are only too happy to oblige by Torah's requirements to propagate the species.

Celibacy is the right course of action - or rather, inaction - when the entire world is steeped in grief, as when Noah and his family, and his "arkmates" from the animal kingdom, were forbidden from cohabitation for the entire year they were on board Noah's Ark. (Rashi 8:17)

But once Noah and family and the animals on board were ordered out, they again got official divine sanction to proceed with reproductive activity.

How do we know this? Because when they went into the Ark, they proceeded in segregated formation (7:7). When ordered to exit, they were told to proceed in marital formation (8:16).

Rather than exit in marital formation, Noah and family exited in segregated formation (8:18), contrary to God's demand. Thus we learn that Noah remained worried and still feared a future disaster might strike again, which gave him cause to decline procreation.

For this reason God provided him now with a sign to back up a divine oath, the sign of the rainbow. Instead of worldly disaster in times of impending retribution, God will hold back, create a cloudy darkness, and merely display the rainbow.

In fact Torah resents celibacy, by comparing it - to murder! We learn this from the juxtaposition in Scripture of the penalty for murder next to the demand to reproduce (9:6-7, Rashi)!

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