Rabbi-author Contrasts Jewish-christian Views on Sex, Marriage, Abortion

Judaism takes a far more liberal attitude than Christianity toward sex, marriage, procreation, contraception and abortion, an authority on Jewish law and tradition declared here today. According to Dr. David M. Feldman, who is rabbi of the Bay Ridge Jewish Center in Brooklyn and author of “Birth Control in Jewish Law,” the 2,000-year-old Judaic-Christian ethic diverges on these matters. Dr. Feldman, here for a lecture at Temple Beth Am, Los Angeles’ largest Conservative synagogue, made these points at a press conference:

“In the Jewish scheme of things, abstinence is a greater evil than proper contraception; over the centuries rabbis have, with virtual unanimity, prescribed therapeutic contraception; procreation is a mitzva (religious commandment or good deed) but it is just as recklessly self-indulgent to overbred as to retrain from any reproduction.”

Dr. Feldman said, “Whether the Pope’s encyclical on birth control is applauded for its courage or condemned as reactionary…all sides agree that it flows consistently from the classic Christian teaching on sex and marriage. Less obvious is the fact that Christianity has, in these matters, parted company with its Jewish forebears, and that the two religious traditions have developed opposing sexual moralities.” Regarding birth control pills. Dr. Feldman said, “Contraceptive devices which interfere would be deemed less acceptable than an oral contraceptive which leaves the marital act unimpeded.”

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