11/02/2012 12:45 pm ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

Being a Rabbi Doesn't Make You Right

There are so many right wing Christians inveighing against homosexuality that it's sometimes easy as a Jew to feel superior, or at least comforted. My people don't get that crazy.

Then a rabbi like Noson Leiter shamefully claims that Hurricane Sandy is punishment for gay marriage being legal in New York State. You feel implicated, and you have to admit that bigotry comes in all shapes and sizes, all religions.

His comments outraged me, but they're also funny in a sad way.

This learned man claims Lower Manhattan is a center of homosexuality. Does he mean Wall Street and Battery Park? Ground Zero? And what about the devastation in Red Hook and Breezy Point? Since when have they been pits of sin? And why did New Jersey suffer even worse devastation when it only has gay civil unions?

You have to wonder if this is less about religion and more about some psychodrama playing out in the man's own fevered imagination. Let's face it, far too many politicians and clergy over the years who have denounced homosexuality or moral decadence in general turn out to be gay themselves or less than paragons of "decency," like Senator David Vitter.

Whatever the case, this rabbi doesn't know his Torah as well as he should. Rashi, one of the most important commentators in Judaism, says the flood destroyed humanity because of lewdness, idolatry and violent crime (meaning robbery). He never mentions "same-gender marriages" and neither does Genesis because there was no such thing in that period, despite the fact that the rabbi claims "the Great Flood in the time of Noah was ... triggered by the recognition of same-gender marriages."

But why let facts get in the way of bigotry?