In what can only be described as a cliff-hanging turn of events, Rabbi Moshe Gutnick, president of the Organisation of Rabbis of Australasia, has come out and admitted in a submission to the Australian Senate inquiry into Marriage Equality that there has been a fundamental misunderstanding of the Torah that has to this day posed as a religious barrier to gay marriage.
In the Senate submission Rabbi Gutnick stated that the traditional interpretation of the Torah has rendered sex between two men problematic, because the translation of the Torah into English was thought to be that a man should not sleep with another man as he would sleep with a woman, with the penalty for doing so that they both be stoned to death.
He felt that this attitude to homosexuality was deeply troubling and discriminatory and so sought advice from a pool of sage rabbis from around the world. These rabbis looked at the original wording in the Torah and felt that maybe there had been a misunderstanding of God’s word and that there was room for a better interpretation, one that offered a more acceptable outcome.
After weeks of collaboration, these rabbis unanimously agreed to reinterpret the Torah and provided an English translation that now states that a man should not sleep with a man as he would with a woman, but rather he should sleep with a man differently to how he would sleep with a woman. However should he be found to be sleeping with a man as he would with a woman, they should both become stoned to a state of holy happiness, except if there’s a dearth of marijuana.
And this is where Rabbi Gutnick has called upon the government to decriminalise the use of marijuana, for strictly religious purposes, to ensure that two men found having the wrong type of sex with each other are dealt with in a more humane and appropriate fashion. The pool of rabbis agreed that each man should be given a bong and a quantity of marijuana and be instructed to smoke the other man’s pipe until each had reached a state of spiritual redemption.
Rabbi Gutnick clearly expressed in the Senate submission that this relaxation of the use of marijuana would only be required for Jewish men and not for gentiles, as gentiles are spiritually unclean, due to not having had a religious circumcision ceremony.
Most unexpectedly, Rabbi Gutnick apologised to the gay community for his earlier claim that he would be opposing gay marriage and noted that since this religious loophole had been found to the previously problematic issue of homosexuality, he now had no issue with gay marriage, and in fact fully endorsed it, claiming that gay men are now encouraged to “shtoop like rabbits, especially on Shabbat”.
The explanation given in the Senate submission was that he realised that if same-sex marriage was legalised in Australia, he wanted the Jewish community to have unfettered access to the estimated $161 million dollars of wedding spend likely to be outlaid on same-sex marriages.
He said that it would revitalise the kosher catering and hospitality industry, that kosher food suppliers would feel the surge of business and that all manner of Jewish shops and enterprises would thrive from the rush of gay weddings, especially the Jewish diamond and ring merchants. Rabbi Gutnick went on to say that the kosher butchers would do particularly well because he knew how much gay men liked their meat, and added that the kosher fish-mongers would do particularly well from lesbian weddings. Rabbi Gutnick went to great pains to explain in the Senate submission that his connection to Kosher Australia should not be perceived as a conflict of interest.
Rabbi Gutnick’s new enthusiasm for gay marriage was evidenced by his statement that Orthodox Judaism was particularly sensitive to the needs of single-sex celebrations, because in traditional heterosexual weddings the men and the women were required to be separated by a mechitzah, and so there was an existing culture of men celebrating with men and women celebrating with women. He added that it’s actually a principle feature of the religion that men must spent considerable amounts of time with other men, in close confines, in the absence of women. He said he felt that it was very homoerotic at times, and the headiness of the masculinity in the crowded prayer and study sessions was particularly appealing, especially on those hot days, when the men were dripping with a particularly musky sweat, and were just a little frustrated. He noted that this frustration was most evident when the men were denied sexual gratification with their wives during their periods of uncleanliness, and further exacerbated by the total religious prohibition on masturbatory relief.
In the summary of the submission, Rabbi Gutnick repeated his apology for the long overdue admission that to deny gay men and women the right to equality was in fact an oppresive and persecutory behaviour and that he had looked back at the history of the Jewish people and felt that he was in no place to call for the superiority of heterosexual Australians over homosexual Australians.
An addendum to the submission included a suggestion that Rabbi Gutnick officiate at the first mass Jewish gay and lesbian wedding in Australia, co-hosted by Adam Hills of the In Gordon St Tonight fame, because he said the ABC studios in Elsternwick were at the centre of the ultra-religious quarter of Melbourne’s Jewish community, and that he was particularly proud of the ground-breaking work that Adam Hills had done to break down barriers in the community around gay marriage.
MEDIA ENQUIRIES: Rabbi Moshe Gutnick (firstname.lastname@example.org)