Who are we?
Shmuley Boteach is an American Orthodox rabbi, radio and television host, and author. He rose to prominence with the publication of his international bestseller Kosher Sex. He received his rabbinic ordination in 1988 from the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic movement in New York City, as a disciple of its leader, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson. He frequently appears as a guest on television and radio discussing politics, religion, society and morality. He also now hosts a reality television program entitled Shalom in the Home which involves facilitating conflicts between family members. He has authored many books since Kosher Sex, the latest of which is The Broken American Male.
Question: What forces have shaped humanity most?
Shmuley Boteach: Judaism is a phenomenal force that has shaped world history, primarily with its belief in vertical history. So many world religions . . . ancient religions were cyclical. They believed that nothing really changes. Things just go round and round, so why improve the earth? Everything you build will be destroyed. History produces in cycles. Judaism said there are no cycles. History is vertical. That which you build will remain, and it will get better. And if you cure disease, etc., it will prolong life. And if you cure famine, you will . . . You’ll ultimately conquer famine. So that was a very important belief. But I think that a lot of negative things have also influenced history. I think raw, untempered masculinity has adversely affected our world. I think that men are best influenced by women. I think it’s the reason why marriage is so special and love is so special, because aside from all the other benefits, you get the tempering of raw masculinity. Men are exciting people. They have energy. They have drive. But unchecked, they become power hungry. They become egotistical. History has been shaped by meaningless, senseless, stupid wars fought by men for thousands of years slaughtering each other . . . to get a little award on their lapel? I mean that’s crazy to spend your life killing people so that you could be called a “General” or something like that. But men have done stupid things like that, and that has really shaped world history. I think that we haven’t really had a feminine influence, or a sufficiently influential feminine influence. Now we’re beginning to see, with women demanding rights, a world, I think, that hungers for peace a bit more. The truly raw, old, masculine figures – these untempered, rough at the edges . . . like Saddam Hussein – they’re being repudiated now.
Recorded on: 09/05/2007
Boteach, on the need to temper masculinity.
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