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12.7.15

Sometimes the best remedy for a Torah controversy is simply a good old-fashioned, down to earth, nothing buttery, look-it-up-to-see-if-it’s-so, Torah study. No fancy footwork necessary. Just cut right to the chase, let the Torah speak for itself, then be loyal to it. That’s all. Of course, because of ambiguities in the text, not every challenging, contentious  dispute can be settled this easily.
That is why the Talmud exists--to clarify ambiguous issues.
Frequently, though, a careful, close, honest look at the Torah [Five Books of Moses] is all that’s required to resolve what might seem at first to be a difficult dispute.

 I take it to respond to one of the most severe challenges to Torah today. The question: What does God really think about homosexuality? Could it be that the Torah has simply gotten it all wrong? A dedicated group of homosexuals and “gay-friendly” Jews think so, and they are campaigning relentlessly to change your mind. They have certified scholars on their team, they’re tactically clever, and they’re aggressively training their own ambassadors to send out to reform the Torah. When—not “if,” but “when”—you encounter this teaching, you’ll need tried and true Torah answers.

If in doubt go to the Torah. If that is ambiguous, then go to the Oral Law. What is the Oral Law? According to many Christians, it is a conspiracy to undermine the Torah. So it can't help Christians. But for people that are not hostile to it, it can be helpful. It contains the way the Torah was understood traditionally. In other words, we, the Jews, had the Old Testament during the Second Temple period. The entire corpus of the Old Testament had been completed from the time of Moses until the end of the First Temple. But we also had a traditional understanding of how to keep the laws of the Torah. No one thought it is up to every individual to decide how to keep the Sabbath. For if there had been, then a person brought in front of the court to be tried for breaking the Sabbath could say that in his sincere opinion what he was doing was not breaking the Sabbath. That goes for all the laws of the Old Testament.

So simply put: there is a hierarchy in understanding the Old Testament of the Bible. The first step is the literal meaning. If that is clear, then full stop. If that is not clear then we go to the Mishna and Gemara (Talmud). If that is clear, then stop. If it is not clear then we go to the Rambam and other medieval people to gain understanding about the specific issue.
What is common for Christian to complain about is that often this order is reversed. For some reason people will use minor writers in order to confuse major issues. And that is a true critique.