Israel Prize winner Rabbi Yaakov Ariel is under fire this week for refusing to walk back his assertion that homosexuals suffer from a mental disability.
Ariel, who is the chief rabbi of the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan, was awarded Israel’s top prize this month for his efforts to advance Bible study in the modern Jewish state.
But some say that Rabbi Ariel takes the Bible too literally to be relevant in today’s progressive society.
In 2016, he backed up another rabbi who had spoken out against the LGBT movement in Israel by explaining that homosexuals are “disabled people suffering from a real problem.”
Rabbi Ariel noted that expressing pride in one’s sexual orientation is unusual and abnormal behavior, but took what he viewed (others won’t) as a compassionate position.
“We must do everything to help them,” said the Israel Prize laureate. “There are medications, psychological treatment, and ways like this and others, medical or spiritual or explanatory actions.”
What did rile the rabbi’s passionate opposition was the open celebration of homosexuality in “Pride” parades that annually take over Israel’s largest cities:
“Being proud of this and receiving public legitimacy?! This is creating the problem! Have mercy on them. There’s no place for Pride parades. What are they proud of? We need to find the proper and true way to deal with this issue properly. When a person doesn’t have a natural connection to the opposite sex, this is a disability. Let’s make this clear. He can’t establish a normative family. So the disabled need treatment, need help—all of this is correct, but pride? What’s the pride of the disabled? What’s there to be proud of?”
After winning the Israel Prize, Rabbi Ariel refused to retract his earlier remarks, noting that in addition to being based on Scripture, they are backed up by what was the official professional definition of homosexuality in the United States up until 20 years ago.
Homosexuality in the Messianic body
Like many Christian denominations, the Messianic Jewish movement doesn’t like to admit that it, too, must deal with issues like divorce, abortion and homosexuality.
Tzachi Dahan, a local believer who lived a gay lifestyle for many years, opened up to Israel Today about his struggles, and how the local Messianic leadership was either unequipped or unwilling to address the topic.
Dahan explained to us:
“Messianic leaders need to be more open to talk about homosexuality, otherwise our young people will simply copy what they hear in society around them, and what they hear is not good.
“In Israel, it is popular to be accommodating of homosexuality as an acceptable alternative lifestyle. Young people today are not challenging the underlying inconsistencies of homosexuality with God’s Word.”