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Rabbi David Wolpe Headshot

The Talmud vs. Todd Akin

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Two thousand years ago, the Talmud noted (Avodah Zarah, 54b) that if a man has intercourse with his neighbor's wife, although justice would demand that she not get pregnant, "the world goes on its way."
   
You might see this as a lament, a protest or a sigh of sad resignation.  What I want to know is what makes a man like Todd Akin less wise about sexuality than the rabbis from 2,000 years ago?
 
Good people who get shot, bleed. Saints who sicken, often die. The somatics of an individual do not follow moral norms. There are those who believe only foolish or hollow or immoral people get cancer or heart disease. There are apparently even people who believe only those acquiesce in intercourse become pregnant.
   
But the world goes on its way. Randomness rules, or at least it does much of the time. Is this a religious dilemma? Of course it is.  Many theologians deal with the difficulty by asserting that only randomness can admit of moral conduct. If you got good every time you were good, them everyone would behave -- but only for the reward, not for the sake of goodness.  Therefore we all know that no matter how you behave, bad consequences may follow. To believe otherwise is somewhere between childishness and wishful thinking. It is in any case not what we demand of our representatives. Believing you make your own luck in is world is a conviction often held by lucky people. 
 
Victims know better. And their suffering should not be exacerbated by insisting, against evidence, common sense, maturity and wisdom, that it is their fault.