Politically Incorrect and Factually Correct

Nowadays the fashion is to avoid offending anybody's sensitivities. Therefore, stating positions that may not be in vogue can be hazardous to your career. Just ask Miss California.

But actually, a certain amount of political correctness is imperative to Judaism.

"Do not despise an Egyptian, for you were a stranger in his land." We are commanded to not oppress the stranger, not mistreat members of other nations. Imagine, even the Egyptians who enslaved us were not to be despised.

Certainly, then, we must show respect to other faiths and ethnicities, never causing them conscious insult. I have NO tolerance for those Jews who use racial slurs. Chanting against Arabs and so forth is against the rules of Judaism, and certainly against our spirit. Fortunately, it is only a few misguided souls, and not a real representation of the by-and-large respectful Jewish majority. Nonetheless, if it exists, it must be stamped out.

Furthermore, on a personal level, Jews are forbidden to insult one another. It is called "Onaat devarim" and it is a sin. It is even forbidden to use a nickname that may embarass the other person. To call them "pickles" as a term of endearment is OK if they don't mind, but to call the "bus" if they have a weight problem is really wrong. Any insulting nickname or racial slur is out of bounds.

Where I diverge from political correctness is when it comes to stifling one's legitimate views to avoid offending people who disagree. This isn't political correctness or sensitivity. It's "kissing up" and it's disgusting.

I say that anyone who is offended by a different point of view is at best a baby and at worst a fascist. Beware the thought police.

A prime example is the issue of settlements and Israel. It is eminently clear that the settlements are a convenient excuse for the Arabs to not make peace. True, they cause the Arabs some inconvenience in their traveling, but that isn't due to settlements. It's due to terrorism. If there were no terrorism, there'd be no need for those roadblocks to protect settlements.

But that's not the politically correct, so don't you dare say it. Otherwise, you'll be roundly condemned and not invited back. Don't blame the lack of peace on terrorists who blow up buses and make war every day. Don't blame war on the warriors, only on the "settlers," who happen to be ordinary people like you and me. They work for a living, give the kids piano lessons, and don't ever hurt anybody. What makes them settlers?

They live in the West Bank.

Oh, and here's another politically incorrect but factually correct tidbit. Mahmoud Abbas, the supposed moderate Palestinian president, earned his PhD with a thesis DENYING THE HOLOCAUST.

But I can't say he's not a sincere peace partner, because that would be politically incorrect. But factually...

Dating and Living Together

Not much, actually. According to the strict letter of the law, an unmarried couple is not supposed to touch, let alone have sex. Living together is even farther beyond those boundaries.

Are these rules an anachronism? Or are they somehow sustainable? Or are they actually beneficial?

Well, considering the blog here, Judaism votes for option three. First, let's look  at the statistics. Up to 50% of general marriages end in divorce. In the Orthodox commutnity, where these rules are observed by significantly more people, the rate may be as high as 10%. And that is considered an epidemic by rabbis. It is.

At any rate, the first thing we notice is that liberal dating values are no guarantee of marital happiness. Indeed, I believe they can be blamed for a lot of these problems. This is for a few reasons.

Firstly, the emphasis on sex takes the emphasis off relationship. Once the physical boundary has been crossed, everything else gets more complicated. A physical dependency can blind the couple to serious compatibility issues. What's more, if the prime interest is in sex, the couple won't put in the work needed to grow a spiritual relationship.

Living together, while it may SEEM like a good idea, is actually destructive to marriage success prospects. Instead of it being a time to "see if we get along," it is all too often an excuse for not making a commitment of marriage. There is usually a reason for not wanting to make the marriage commitment and live together instead. Well, whatever it is, that reason is not going away by itself. Living together for years and then marrying out of inertia is not going to change a basic compatibility problem.

There is also the assumption that you need to know as much as possible about living with the other person before committing. Well, in the real world, that's simply impossible. You can never know enough about your partner, and whatever you know will change with time and circumstances anyway. I know lots of people who tried it, and their eventual marriages crashed and burned terribly. It simply does not work.

Why is the Jewish way, while less "exciting and fun", more enduring and healthy?

Firstly, it puts the emphasis on the spiritual relationship. If the couple can't touch, they must get to know each other on a human level. That gives them a great, objective, start.

Then, if they do feel an urge for physical contact, the discipline of subjugating it FOR A TIME keeps that aspect of their lives in proportion. They put God and responsibility first, over sexual gratification. Their main interest is a spiritual life and home, not their personal physical pleasure.

That perspective is the cornerstone of successful marriages. Even within marriage, there is a time period every month when the couple refrains from sex. This renews the spiritual friendship that empowers their marriage.

The Talmud says that if God is present in the lives of a couple, there will be the glow of Divine presence in their home. If not, it will be consumed by fire. Keeping God present means observing God's standards and placing spirituality first.

Which, by the way, makes the physical relationship really intense and beautiful. Absolutely nothing is sacrificed in this regard. Spiritual connection, perspective and commitment make for the most fulfilling life relationship, in all its aspects.