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Wrestling with God and Men: Homosexuality in the Jewish Tradition

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  156 ratings  ·  18 reviews
Wrestling with God and Men is the product of Rabbi Steven Greenberg's ten-year struggle to reconcile his homosexuality with Orthodox Judaism. Employing traditional rabbinic resources, Greenberg presents readers with surprising biblical interpretations of the creation story, the love of David and Jonathan, the destruction of Sodom, and the condemning verses of Leviticus. Bu ...more
Paperback, 312 pages
Published February 24th 2005 by University of Wisconsin Press (first published 2004)
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Harry Rey
Sep 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
A fascinating and important work. Rabbi Greenberg makes some incredibly important points and provides all the research and evidence one needs to prove that inclusion of LGBT people in Judaism is more than required. But frustratingly he doesn't spell out the conclusions he is obviously making, instead leaving the 'what should happen next' part to our imagination, instead of a call to action. ...more
Mar 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant exegesis and history woven with a gay Orthodox rabbi's personal story. How I wish that orthodox Christians could treat Scripture, reason, tradition and the testimonies of LGBTQ2S+ people with as much dignity as Rabbi Greenberg does here! ...more
Jan 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Wow, this is an amazing book, full of healing and wisdom. Steven Greenberg is a Modern Orthodox rabbi and gay, and he gets the struggle, the wrestling with God, scripture, and others so well. He captured perfectly thoughts I've been trying to form and write down for some years so much so that I wept after finishing the book. While the book focuses on Jewish tradition, there are so many parallels for conservative Muslims and Christians in the arguments we hear from scripture or tradition.

Melvin Marsh, M.S.
Feb 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: judaism, lgbt
Very interesting book that as far as I know is one of the few that discusses gay Jewish identity from an Orthodox perspective.
Simcha York
Feb 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Rabbi Steven Greenberg's Wrestling with God & Men takes on a fairly formidable task - making room for the acceptance of homosexuality within the Jewish tradition. This task is complicated by the fact that Rabbi Greenberg has chosen not to simply disregard halakha and tradition as does the approach toward the acceptance of gays and lesbians within many non-Orthodox circles. Instead, he sets to carve out a space within the tradition in which homosexuality can exist and be acknowledged as permissib ...more
Ralphe Wiggins
Apr 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: historical
I was really glad to read an in-depth investigation of the Orthodox Jewish many viewpoints on homosexuality written by a courageous gay Orthodox Rabbi. The thousands of years of analysis Greenberg describes makes the rantings of many anti-gay Christian churches look flabby and thoughtless.

The high point for me was discovering that Leviticus only outlaws penetration by the top in anal intercourse. There is no problem for the bottom. There are other surprises. For example, Orthodoxy has almost not
Dec 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: judaism, lgbt
This really took me back to my Yeshiva days and has made me question my perception of halacha and rabbinic authority in ways I hadn't fully realized as a high-schooler. I'm really intrigued by the ideas Rabbi Greenberg brings forward, but am still troubled by the sacrifices gay Jews are expected to make to remain part of Orthodox Jewish life. I'm sure I'll spend my entire life grappling with the notions put forth in this book, but I have such a deep love and appr
Dec 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: judaica
I'm really glad to have read this book in its entirety. It's something that has been so influential (at least in my highly specific circles) that I knew most of the broad strokes of Greenberg's conclusions and few of his source texts, but hadn't really been taught much in the way of the specifics of his halachic argument, and I found his readings really interesting. All communities deserve members like Rabbi Greenberg, who love them enough to really, deeply challenge them from within. ...more
May 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Incredible, useful, needed.
Apr 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite
An in-depth look at the texts regarding sexuality, ethics and God's law in the Hebrew Scriptures. Carefully researched and very readable, this book presents several different argument structures from several (not just two) sides and allows the reader to come to their own conclusions (a rare feat these days!) Especially enlightening for Christians who are not familiar with Jewish approaches to Scripture. I think I'll be rereading this one regularly in my professional life.

I'm not sure I'm the bes
Apr 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
By no means is this an easy read! This is a detailed examination of the strictures against homosexuality in the Old Testament (or Torah) by an Orthodox Rabbi. The recounting of the Jewish faith tradition since the fall of the 2nd Temple is very interesting. Rather than rely on a single authority, the interpretation of the Law is determined by an ongoing debate that may last many years. This book is an interesting study of the different forms of argument this debate takes on and refers to many di ...more
Jack Holt
Apr 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
There was a lot to take in from this stunning book. I always assumed there was a "closed case" for homosexual expression in Judaism. The rabbi's exegesis was interesting and made me re-think for the thousandth time the wisdom of basing one's life on a literal interpretation of ANYTHING. Language is the tool for clarity and obscurity both -- simultaneously.

Reading the book with an open mind, I went on to look more into the Ancient Greek sources for treating homosexuality as a sort of enslavement.
Apr 15, 2007 rated it really liked it
I'm still in the process of reading, so I don't want to have a final say yet, but I heard Rabbi Greenberg speak when he was at McGill and immediately HAD to read the book. It's not nearly as engaging as he is in person, but it's very interesting and a much better, more thought out, more concise and more convincing argument about why homosexuality is should not actually be a problem in Judaism.
I wish I had more free time to read because it is extremely interesting.
Aug 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
an excellent writer with interesting discussions, but part of me doesn't really care if there's some way to work around the prohibition and stay with orthodoxy (maybe because I wouldn't want to be orthodox as long as women are devalued, in my opinion, in that tradition) ...more
Sidney Davis
Aug 13, 2011 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gay
This is in my library as part of my research on sex, gender and morality in the Bible.
Mar 15, 2011 added it
this is an excellent book accessible, thoughtful and very well written.
Matt Root
Mar 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is the finest contribution to the theological study of homosexuality and traditional faith communities I have seen.
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