In my previous post, I re-posted a letter sent by an anonymous man to The Jewish Press six years ago, on his homosexuality and the responses of the Orthodox community to homosexuality.
In my brief comment, I noted that I responded to this letter on a website six years ago, and that my own response might have changed over the past six years.
My response from six years ago included the following:
A few thoughts on the question of how Gd could test a person with this kind of practically impossible challenge:
The letter is remarkable and articulate, and I admire the writer. That
said, and in no way to take anything away from him, one should not make
the mistake of thinking its writer is unique. There are many in this
situation who, like the writer, have not abandoned faith and who are
working hour by hour, day by day, to manage a most difficult situation.
The writer says it is cruel to claim that change might one day be
possible. I am not a JONAH fan, but I am in the camp that believes that
homosexuality is a spectrum; even if change is not possible for that
writer, this doesn't mean that change is impossible for all people with
3. The word "fair" is not relevant when
describing a world which is designed to test us. Bereishis teaches us at
the outset that life is meant to be filled with hard-to-impossible
challenges; why else does G-d put the tree smack in the middle of the
garden, point to it and say, 'Don't eat from this?' If you don't want
them to eat then don't make the tree, or don't put it in the garden, or
don't put it in the middle, or don't make it attractive, or don't allow
the serpent to cold-call Chavah... Clearly, we are being taught a
lesson: This world is filled with tests, and they aren't going to be
balanced or straightforward.
4. Some things that happen to us are
reward. Some things that happen to us are punishment. And some things
that happen to us are neither; they are circumstances G-d has created
for one reason or another... This is why it is rank foolishness to try to read events as reward or punishment; quite often, it's simply neither...
Rav Tzaddok haKohen of Lublin commented in Tzidkas haTzaddik that one
may indeed be faced with a test one cannot pass - but that since we
don't know whether that's true of any specific test, we have to view all
of our challenges as surmountable.
Six years later, I believe the same theology, but I don't find the theological question as interesting anymore. Had the letter appeared today, I would have felt less compelled to respond to the question of people's suffering and Divine tests.
Maybe that's because I'm older. Maybe it's because I'm not in the pulpit anymore. I don't know - but these days I find myself much less interested in the question of why Gd created this world, and much more interested in the question of what we can do with it.