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Coming out of the closet in the frum community

An old friend of mine recently came out of the closet to me (he gave me permission to write about him without revealing who he is) and as anyone would be, I was completely shocked, I was also super pumped because now I can say I have gay friends – whenever something that could be considered “anti-gay” slips out of my mouth. I also have one black friend, so all I need now are some Asians and Indians.

So anyway my friend is slowly coming out of the closet after being gay his whole life, in the frum community might I add. Luckily I was hanging out with him and we got to talking about it, I should mention that I was completely shocked because he is all man, there is no feminine thing about this guy – he is hairy, wears wife beaters, works on cars and other construction projects, drives a truck and owns quite a few guns, he drinks beer and grunts like the men – if it were one of my other more metrosexual friends I wouldn’t have been so shocked.

He told me that like most gay men he went through different stages, he grew up frum and went to yeshiva and lived in the dorm. He compared living in a dorm to a guy like me given full access to a girls high school dorm with the power of invisibility. He could wander the dorm at night with guys running around in boxers, bathrobes and guys coming out of the shower – he said it was heaven and hell combined. His own private nightmare – he told me that he had to refrain from staring at guys in their underwear and to keep his dignity in check even though it was insanely hard no pun intended.

He is in his upper 20s and he recently decided to start coming out – I wondered why he was coming out, if he realized what would happen to him in a frum community. He realizes everything but after hanging out with him and other friends who didn’t yet know that he was gay, I realized what a pain it was to be in the closet. Every time we pass by girls, see something sexual, whatever, we make a comment, and he makes one too – its so fake yet I feel for him – for the last 20 years he has been living a lie and it sucks – so I finally understand why people come out of the closet.

He is also having existential angst issues, like anyone who grew up frum who knew the horrible sin of homosexuality – for the record he has never done anything with a guy or a girl in that department – I can’t understand how he likes men – but he is attracted to them and thats how he was created. But when you grow up frum you cannot deny the ramifications of being gay.

He says it like this, everyone can marry besides for him, he was given everything in working condition yet told not to use it – that sucks and I have no response. I know that many ignorant frum people will say its a taiva and you should control it, but to stay away from falling in love and having a partner your whole life is a bit extreme.

So he is planning on coming out to his siblings and parents and friends sooner or later. I warned him that even though he has been friends with some folks for 25 years, they probably wont take it so well. There is still a big stigma attached to it and although I was curious about his journey and felt really cool that I was one of the first people he told – I am fearing for the aftermath of his coming out of the closet.

Your thoughts?

{ 254 comments… add one }
  • Avrumy July 31, 2009, 2:08 PM

    Phil wrote: “I just wouldnt want to be in any situation where some other dude is getting off staring at my goods.”
    I saw your website photos. That sure is a whopper you got there. And the pic in the tzitzis, with just a sexy hint of skin showing, was most enticing. What a tease you are. Take it off! Show us the “goods”.
    Seriously, thanks for admitting you are a homophobe, and not really using Judaism as the basis for your repulsion, but as a crutch for support. Once that is understood we really have nothing to talk about on this subject. Just agree to disagree.
    But, on the positive side, it is heartening to see you admit to not knowing and openly gay people: “If I actually had any gay friends or aquatances, I might feel differently.”
    It’s a start. I am here if you need me.
    Shabat shalom.

  • marty July 31, 2009, 2:27 PM

    well its nice to see you can speak a little more civil,as far as a “cure” when they find a “cure” to become gay from straight i guess they will find the vice versa…

  • Aviva August 1, 2009, 11:54 PM

    I was so saddened to hear of the shooting in Tel Aviv.

    Seeing the religious members of ZAKA outside the crime scene reminds me that no matter what, a Jew is a Jew.

  • marty August 2, 2009, 1:00 AM

    i know,what a terrible tragedy..

  • Phil August 2, 2009, 11:30 AM

    Avrumy,

    Thaks for all the flattering comments, but I like to keep my blog family oriented. It isn’t meant for people to drool over my beer belly.

    Anyway, I don’t use the Torah as a crutch for my opinion or attitude, I just brought it up in this thread because it’s related to being frum, gay and coming out.

    I don’t view being mildly homophobic or racist as something wrong, I find it perfectly normal. As long as I’m not openly insulting or beating people up, who cares if my opinions of them aren’t mainstream?

  • marty August 2, 2009, 11:52 AM

    well phil your absolutely wrong,because by saying that you can be mildly homophobic and racist,your basically saying for example the nazis were partly right in hating jews they were just exercising the basic human right to be racist,

    and you definitely use the torah as a crutch,come on its written all over your posts,you basically said outright im a homophobe because the torah says its wrong to sleep with men,your logic is completely twisted…

  • Phil August 2, 2009, 12:20 PM

    Marty,

    The nazis weren’t “mildly” racist, they acted on their hate for us as did most countries we’ve lived in.

    George Jefferson, Archy bunker, Eddy Murphy and Chris Rock are mildly racist. They poke fun at other because of the color of their skin, orientation, religion, etc. Does that make them bad people? Does it make them any less funny?

    I never blamed the Torah for my attitude, though it is full intolerance for other religions, tribes and gays.

    Most people in the world a racist to some extent, anyone that tells you otherwise is full of crap. If you were attacked or robbed by an arab in an arab neighborhood or a black in a black neighborhood, it’s more than likely that your feelings toward your attacker will include some sort of racist ideals.

  • marty August 2, 2009, 12:46 PM

    god you are warped first off those comedians are not racist their comedians! they make fun of everything to get a laugh that doesnt make them racist at all,ad to make a statement that “most people are racist” is just bigotry,and as far as the nazis go it starts with mildly racist and ends off with gas chambers,do you think all the german people in the early 1930s were full fledged racists? no it started with “mild racists”

    the point is any form of hate is intolerable and if you have that in you i suggest you start working on yourself really hard…

  • Sergeant J August 2, 2009, 1:21 PM

    Nice to know that things did not change while I was on vacation. Phil is still a male, Jewish Ann Coulter (except lesbians might actually hit on her in a shower), and others take him seriously. Frankly, I just don’t care any more.

  • Phil August 2, 2009, 1:32 PM

    Marty,

    So you’re saying racism in the form of comedy is OK? If anyone is anti racist, why would they laugh at racist jokes?

    The nazis didn’t start off as mild racists, nor did any of the nations that murdered Jews over the centuries. For the most part, they were brought up with vicious Jew hatred, and they showed their true colors every chance they had.

    The racism in me is not hate. Just because I stereotype people or lump them into certain categories, that doesn’t mean I hate them or want to wipe them off the face of the earth (arabs in Israel are the exception). It just means that they have their place in society, I have mine, the less we have to interact with each other, the better.

    If you interact more / get along better with your Jewish neighbors than you do with your black, hispanic or Asian ones, you’re as racist as I am.

  • marty August 2, 2009, 2:00 PM

    that is not true at all,the reason you get along with your jewish neighbors better is because you understand them,an relate to them more because you have more in common with them,as far as comedy goes its all about the joke,it doesnt mean you really feel that way,i mean you have comedians who make fun of themselves,are they really biased against themselves? comedy is not a form of racism by any means,and as far as racism is not hate goes,that is a stira,racism=hate,if you want other nations to tolerate and respect you you have to od the same to them,the sad part about all this is that the way you think is probably not your fault its the way a lot of frum jews are raised,to look at for example “shvartzes” as lesser beings etc. but the problem is that we as jews are always complaining about other nations being biased against us,when we do exactly the same thing to them! now im not saying that if we judge them favorably they will do that to us,but you cant hold them to standards that you dont hold by yourself,

    and whats even sadder about you is how your biased against your own people because they are a little different than you,and in fact thats the way your god made them…

  • Phil August 2, 2009, 5:16 PM

    Marty,

    Forget trying to have the nations love you, halacha that Eisav hates Yaakov. Anti semitism has nothing to do with the way we view others.

    Proof is that no matter what Jews did, whether they converted into maranos, secularized into Germans that put the “fatherland” before their Judaism or religion, or bent over backwards to accomodate arab terrorists, when push came to shove, those goyim didn’t care one bit. To them, a Jew was stil a Jew, no matter what he tried to look like or called himself.

    Do you think that the KKK , nation of islam or hamas will find you more acceptable if you preach tolerance?

    I’m not trying to change the way they feel about me, I know it totally useless. As to my standards and theirs, they already differ. I’m a frum, peaceful person that will not go out to lynch blacks or bash white supremacists. I stay at home, mind my own business and take care of my own. It’s that simple.

    As to my own people and the way God made them, it’s convenient to hide behind the “god made me that way” thing, and in the same breath, accuse me of hiding behind the Torah to cover my bias.

    Why would God forbid you from doing anything if you didn’t have the choice as to whether to do it or not?

  • marty August 2, 2009, 5:47 PM

    you really are a fool,you think im “hiding” behind something?? do you think i want to be gay??

    why would i want to be different than my whole community and all my friends,and then have to deal with people like you?

    no the only thing im hiding behind is the closet door,and yes god Did make me gay why i have no idea,but i know one thing at least im not biased against anyone for the way god made them,only for the way they act,as far as im concerned being biased agaist someone thats gay is like being biased against someone that for example physically cant walk,you might say i feel uncomfortable around him hes not like everyone else, and he should stop hiding behind the fact that hes crippled,

    and as for your last question i have the exact same question to ask,and that is why i find it hard to believe that god has in fact said that i cant be with another man…

  • Phil August 2, 2009, 9:35 PM

    Marty,

    You were the one that brought up the “hiding behind the Torah” thing to begin with, so I just reversed it.

    Having gay feelings might be natural to you, but acting or not acting out on them is in your control.

    Following your theory, I shouldn’t feel bad for child molesters or rapists, they’ll tell you they can’t help themselves because God created them that way.

    Despite receiving phsycological treatment and jail time, they’ll often come out and re-offend, crying that it isn’t their fault. Does that mean we should embrace these sickos and feel bad for them?

    From a religious viewpoint, each person has certan desires and passions for different sins. One may have a lust for married women, another for goats. If these people can’t help themselves, must I feel bad for them? Isn’t it natural to be repulsed by these sort of deviants?

  • Heshy Fried August 2, 2009, 9:38 PM

    Tomorrow we are going to begin this conversation all over again with a brand new post.

  • marty August 2, 2009, 9:54 PM

    first of all molesters is a phsycological issue,usually because the person themselves has been molested as a child,and truthfully you should pity them,if they were molested as a child and had to go thru that,but that is a different thing,they are forcing someone to do something without consent,you have serial killers who cant stop killing too,but being gay is like being straight,its the way you were born or matured into an adult,and as far as being disgusted by them ike molesters and rapists,They have actually done a sexual act and thats what we are disgusted by,while by just being born gay and being disgusted by that is ludicrous,

    now as far as religion goes,religion as a whole is not perfect no matter what you have been taught,different rules apply to different people at different times,you see that in halachah clearly,and one more thing why does it bother you so much what halachah applies to me,since the sin of anal sex doesnt apply to you,why should you care if i follow it or not,

    and since you do it just goes to show that your biased just for the sake of being biased…

  • AnotherCountryHeardFrom August 2, 2009, 9:55 PM

    This has been an enlightening discussion. I still don’t know who Phil is, but I know what he is — he is the part of the body that much of this discussion has been about.

    The trouble with Phil, and TRS, who is almost as bad if that is possible, is that they know all about Orthodoxy and nothing about Judaism. They missed the page that said Eilu v’eilu.

    And they also missed the page on our all being made b’tzelem Elohim.

    Since Phil’s sickness demands he have the last word, he will come back into the discussion with a put-down that will again tell us more about him than about what a compassionate God expects from His creatures. But Phil doesn’t seem to believe in a compassionate God — he left El malei rachamim at the cemetery, and went home with the angry God who would have us stone to death the child that talks back to his parents.

    I’m sorry I don’t remember which of the previous post-ers was knoelwedgeable enough to recognize that for centuries before the Shulchan Aruch the Rabbis were able to adapt Halachah to deal with new needs of the Jewish people and new understanding of the world.

    Then, maybe because no more g’dolim were being recognized, they wrapped themselves in a seventeenth-century security blanket, and stopped recognizing that Halachah comes from the verb to walk (forward).

    I am reminded of the story about the guy who goes to a psychiatrist, talks to him for a while, and the doctor say, your trouble is that you’re crazy. The guy gets indignant and says, That’s a terrible thing to say to me. I demand a second opinion. So the doctor says, OK, I’ll give you a second opinion. You’re also ugly.

    I don’t think Phil is crazy, but I do think he’s ugly. And if he wants a second opinion, I’ll give him one — he’s ignorant.

  • TRS August 2, 2009, 9:58 PM

    I’m only “almost as bad”? This is terrible for my ego.

  • Phil August 2, 2009, 10:18 PM

    Anothercountry,

    Interesting to see how you twist the Torah. I suppose you believe that God didn’t mean it when he laid down the rules, or perhaps he was joking. Or better yet, they were only conditional if people felt they could keep them, otherwise they could have a wonderwoman lesbian rabbi rewrite the law due to her superpowers.

    Face it, gays were around before the Torah was given, it was natural to the lewd Canaanites.

    Where do you think the word sodomy comes from? It was the way that sodomites “welcomed” tourists.

    As far as your bullshit self righteousness, I’ll use your theory: if you feel tham I’m ugly take it up with God that created me that way.

  • CA August 3, 2009, 5:03 AM

    Feel good you were even included. I was not.

    AnotherCountrySomethingOrOther, what the hell are you talking about? In Torah it says doing X is wrong. Somebody who does X publicly and is proud of it is doing something evil. It doesnt matter where he is coming from, whether his desire to do X is genetic, social, whatever. This desire is evil, and doing it is even more evil. He must work on himself to rid himself of said desire.

    What else is there to discuss? I really dont get it

  • CA August 3, 2009, 5:05 AM

    Im sorry I dont remember which of the previous post-ers was knoelwedgeable enough to recognize that for centuries before the Shulchan Aruch the Rabbis were able to adapt Halachah to deal with new needs of the Jewish people and new understanding of the world.

    What are you talking about? The rabbis today do the same thing. We have invention of electricity so, the rabbis looked at what it is and whether it violates any aspects of Torah. Then they saw if something that can make electricity work on Shabbos (timers) is allowed. And on and on. But the rabbis cannot make homosexuality allowed just because the needs of community demand it (since when?).

  • Phil August 3, 2009, 9:22 AM

    Marty,

    Again, what you choose to do with your life is your business. If you feel that doing the things you do are perfectly normal and prefectly acceptable acording to halacha, that’s your prerogative.

    I feel I know better, that’s mine. Halacha seems to agree with me, society as a whole is still divided on the issue depending on what country you’re in.

    God gave you freedom of choice to do whatever you want with your tush. I’m not trying to stop you, I’m just commenting to this post as a frum Jew, and as someone that is repulsed by the idea of gay people, just as I am repulsed by golden showers and sh*t eaters. They might find it a turn on and they aren’t hurting anyone, so am I a bigot if I refer to them as sickos? Would you be proud if your parents were sh*t eaters?

    If you believe that Shulchan Aruch doesn’t know what the Torah meant, or that laws can be reformed or changed to suit people’s perversions, there isn’t much to discuss.

  • marty August 3, 2009, 12:02 PM

    well im sorry your repulsed by people like me,who were born this way without choice,hopefully “in gods will” we will all die out quickly to make sure the “phils” of the world will feel “comfortable” in their perfect lives…

  • P. da Costa August 3, 2009, 12:41 PM

    Interesting discussion!
    As a convert from Catholicism, it strikes me how many of the attitudes and ideas of some of you yeshiva bochers are deeply, deeply Xtian. First of all “love the sinner, hate the sin” – which isn’t bad in itself, but doesn’t work when applied to homosexuality.
    If you have an urge to eat sh*t, go to a shrink and he’ll tell diagnose a psychiatric condition. Nobody would say that eating sh*t has anything to do with who you are as a person. Same about having urges to eat a bacon cheeseburger on Yom Kippur: in this case the urge is not a psychiatric condition, but it has nothing to do with who you are.
    Being gay is in no way comparable: psychiatrists say it’s a normal variance of human sexuality. Some people are attracted to people of the same s*x, and that attraction, if correctly understood, is just part of their desire to find a partner and form a loving, committed relationship. Just the same as any normal straight person, only directed to someone of the same s*x. If you are wired like that and the environment you live in doesn’t allow you to fulfill that, the possibility of having a normal relationship disappears while the attraction doesn’t.
    From a non-religious point of view, some men desire other men, and some women desire other women, just as most men desire women and vice versa. Nothing to do with sh*t eating. Perhaps this is difficult to understand for some frum straight people, because their own attitude to the opposite sex is so regulated and constrained by laws. Now, from a religious point of view, you can argue that desiring other men is like craving cheeseburgers on Yom Kippur. That’s an entirely different matter; it’s the distinction between huqim and mishpatim – check Shmuley Boteach’s website, he gets this right.
    But, if wanting to establish a relationship with a person of the same s*x is “a natural variance of human sexuality”, then it’s legitimate to wonder if Jewish law should/could respond to it in a different way. In this case, “love the sinner, hate the sin” is like saying “love the dog, hate the barking”. It doesn’t make sense, and that’s because the whole problem has been misunderstood from the beginning.
    I understand that people may be grossed out by the idea, but – may I remind you of the “don’t judge your neighbor until you’ve been in his shoes” thing.

  • Avrumy August 3, 2009, 1:03 PM

    Its a shame that some ostensibly frum Jews choose to refer to gay people in a disgusting repulsive manner. It says a lot about a writer and minimizes the validity of his/her point.

    It is still inaccurate to assume that ALL (or even most) gay Jewish men violate the Torahs specific sexual prohibition between men. It would seem some of the straight people here are fixated on @n@l s*x and cant let that go. Maybe they should try it.

    As Phil certainly knows, men are allowed to have @n@l s*x with their wives. Would he use the same vile terms for them? A hole is a hole, my friend.

  • Sergeant J August 3, 2009, 1:04 PM

    .Now, here is where Phil should come out and make loosely veiled comments about your sexuality, morality, and whatever else pops into his head.

  • Phil August 3, 2009, 1:12 PM

    Marty,

    If God intended for you to die out, he probably wouldn’t have created you. I imagine he wanted you to go through these tests for some reason obviously unkown to me.

    “Coming out” in the frum community is wrong in my opinion, maybe coming out to God on Yom Kippur in the privacy of your own mind is more along the frum way.

    P Da Costa,

    I don’t see how you can differentiate between one deviancy to another. If a person has a s*xual desire to eat someone else’s doodoo of be urinated on, that’s just as much of their prerogative as one that want’s a same s*x partner.

    Morally, I find them both repulsive. But according to this politically correct society, who am I to judge or deem anybody or anything replusive?

    Halacha seems to view gays as worse than sh*t eaters, check you’re local rav if you really want to know.

  • marty August 3, 2009, 1:43 PM

    whatever this whole conversation is going nowhere,we as frum gay people have to live our entire lives dealing with such people,self-righteous people who think everything is black and white,hopefully one day we will find the reason for our existence…

  • Sergeant J August 3, 2009, 1:47 PM

    Everyone sees some things with grey shading, just not always the same things…

  • P. da Costa August 3, 2009, 2:12 PM

    Phil,

    I do differentiate between the two. Wanting to eat sh*t is an anomaly that comes out of nowhere, and can’t take one anywhere. Whereas wanting sexual intimacy with a person of the same sex is an expression of some people’s desire to have a committed, loving relationship with one person, which is a basic human thing. (Here I’m not looking at the problem from a halachic point of view, of course.)

    You could say that X has a doodoo fetish, and that may be an accurate way of describing it. But it would be wrong to describe your interest in women saying “Phil has a women fetish”. There’s sexual attraction, but it’s part of something greater. The same happens to a guy who’s interested in other guys: saying that he’s got “a man fetish” would be inaccurate and unfair. It would be judging him and labeling him without having understood anything about his experience. “PC” society is against doing this, but so is the core of Jewish moral teachings.

  • Avrumy August 3, 2009, 2:33 PM

    Some men like to cuddle with men.
    Some men like to pull fish out of lakes with barbed hooks and suffocate them or bash them on the head.
    Both are legal, both can be considered offensive to others, and neither is forbidden by Hashem.

  • Chris_B August 3, 2009, 3:24 PM

    P Da Costa,

    You obviously have not met any sh*t eaters. Oddly enough I once had a conversation with a Japanese couple who had been married for 20 years and they regarded eating each others sh*t as an integral part of their intimacy as a couple. The husband clearly stated that their s*xuality was indeed separate from common heteros*xuality.

    Avrumy,

    A hole aint just a hole. If you dont know, dont say it.

  • P. da Costa August 3, 2009, 3:47 PM

    Chris_B,
    Wonderful, I’m visualizing a tray with tiny bits of poo carefully wrapped in seaweed and rice. Still, I’m not convinced. I think I know the Japanese couple you’re talking about, and they told me they’d said that just to tease you.

  • Phil August 3, 2009, 4:00 PM

    Avrumy,

    Chris pretty much summed it up, I couldn’t agree more. Main difference is that it belongs to a female.

    Women and fishing are perfectly accepted by halacha, and by the majority of the human race.

    Gays and peta members aren’t the norm.

    P da costa,

    Not that I want to send your to any web sites that we shouldn’t be on, but there are plenty devoted specifically to that fetish.

    I chose it deliberately as the craziest one I ever heard of, just to prove a point. I didn’t intend to equate one being any more or less disgusting.

    Bottom line is the same as this cross post with the les-by chick. Keep your bedroom adventures where they belong, not in shuls or parades.

  • lars sh August 19, 2009, 9:58 AM

    hallo, my frum friends!!

    ‘giggle, giggle’

  • chevramaidel April 26, 2010, 11:21 PM

    Sorry for the duplicate posts. A lot of times they show up right away, but occasionally they don’t. I must learn not to panic and repost.
    Sorry for all the duplicate posts…

  • Frumsatire Fan April 28, 2010, 12:30 AM

    Can’t write much now, but
    Hesh,
    Your friend must be worried if your friendship will be just like before. This is something he probably wanted to tell you earlier, I’m sure you realize it’s complicated.
    Re. the JONAH stuff and the like: almost all psychologists, educators etc. say that these therapies are dangerous and almost never work. I think it’s only good if you a) want to meet a tortured-but-frum boyfriend, or b) you have lots of money to throw overboard, or c) you’re a bit holier-than-thou and want to recommend this to people so that you can sit back and say Well well well, aren’t my boundaries clearly marked – showing great sensitivity re. halacha and very little re. the person involved.

  • Aviva Larev May 7, 2010, 12:21 AM

    TRS, that same old argument is dumb. Because 3000 years ago and continuing people were ignorant, racist, cruel and evil. THANK GOD for change, would you rather all Christians still murder Jews because that was their “tradition” for so many thousands of years!? Jeez what backwards logic. “Doesn’t matter if its real, matters that its old” Yea so if we found out some TRUTH say, some revelation that proves some of these pointless rules are garbage you wouldn’t want to change it then?! I really LOVE how so many Jews get stuck on the (seriously) dumbest little things and seem to forget the ENTIRE idea behind it. Tradition means nothing if all it does is perpetrate ignorance. No effing thanks.

  • TRS May 7, 2010, 1:32 PM

    Wow, what a blast from the past, eh? When is this post originally, from, January 26, 2009? That’s nearly a year and a half ago! Remarkable. Anyway, to respond to your harsh accusation… Of course, I’m not entirely sure to what you are referring, because my last comment on this particular forum was so many moons ago, but I seem to get the general gist of your argument. It appears (to me at least) that you are saying something along the lines of, “The times they are a’changing, get with the program.”

    Obviously, everyone is entitled to do whatever they want to do. I can go on Mivtzoyim and try to get you to light Shabbos candles, but if you’re not interested, you’re not interested. If you think that the divine pronouncement from Sinai was not eternal, then good for you. Hey, if you don’t think there ever was a divine pronouncement from Sinai, then good for you too. We can deal with that.

    What you say, “Change we can believe in,” is certainly a wonderful thing, but it doesn’t quite solve any of your problems. Evidently, you don’t like that Judaism is based on a 3000 year old tradition. Evidently you believe that Judaism should be something different. Or else you don’t think there should be any Judaism. Holding these opinions is certainly your right, but coupled with your apparent intention, to reform Judaism, they make no sense.

    Judaism is nothing without the Torah. I think we can all agree this point. In other words, without the Torah, there is no Judaism. I think we can all agree this point. Changing Judaism means changing Torah. Changing Torah means changing Judaism. Are you still with me here? Excellent.

    You say something about Christians still slaughtering Jews. In my mind, there is no problem with this- if Christians believe that killing Jews is what JC would have wanted, then good for them. Evidently they don’t have this belief anymore, which is, I suppose, a good thing for the Jews. Obviously, the Christian belief system is not eternal. Which is fine. It’s the Christian’s religion, let them practice it however they see fit.

    You may not, and again I repeat, you may not use the same logic regarding Judaism. Judaism is very different from Christianity. Even if it were not very different at all, there would still be the fundamental difference, that of the revelation at Sinai. Those who practice Judaism must base their religion on this revelation. Whether they are Sephardi or Ashkenazi, Chassidic or Misnagdic, they’re practices and beliefs are solely based on the Torah as it was presented at Sinai 3000 years ago. They may not do everything, they may not even believe in everything, but if they question the validity of something vis a vis it’s being part of the tradition, and they can’t prove it, then they are beyond the pale. I can accept that bullet proof stockings are not mandated by the Torah. I can not accept that the Torah does not proscribe homosexuality.

    Does this make us a mean religion? Possibly. Probably. But I’m not sure what you’d like us to do about it. Shall we change certain parts of our religion based on the prevailing mores? Shall we change inconvenient laws we do based on the latest fads? If you want to do this, kol hakavod, but it’s not orthodox Judaism. So again, I’m not sure what you’d like us to do about this.

    Moving along in your argument, you state something along the lines of, “If there’s new truth, will you change what you’ve been doing?” Obviously, there will be no new truth. There was only one revelation at Sinai. When Moshiach comes our understanding of the revelation will be infinitely greater than it currently is, but it will still be the same revelation. So no, I don’t think we have to plan for the contingency of a possible “new truth”. In general, that seems to be an oxymoron, doesn’t it? If something is true, it is always true. Just saying.

    Next, we have the charge that Jews get “stuck” on the “dumbest little things” while ignoring “the entire idea behind it.” I would be the first to agree that Judaism does appear to be OCD about everything. This is not, of course, a bad thing. I’m not sure that I’d characterize homosexuality as a “dumb little thing,” however- after all, if G-d saw fit to prohibit it, then it’s probably not a “dumb little thing” but a very major intelligent thing. We are not G-d, and presumably he knows what he’s talking about.

    Your final point is that traditional Judaism perpetrates (I assume you meant, “perpetuates”) ignorance. I wonder what you mean by this. Do you mean that traditional Jews are ignorant? Knowing, as I do, many hundreds of traditional Jews, I find this hard to believe. If we choose not to cover ourselves in the slime of current culture, why, that is hardly ignorance, it is nobility. The fact that we choose to spend our time in the depths of the Talmud and not in the depths of the current moral depravity is hardly ignorance.

  • Aviva Larev May 9, 2010, 10:20 PM

    Dude. Everything you said would be fine, except for the fact that ever SINCE revelation Jews have been trying to figure out what exactly most of those rules meant. Maybe the homosexuality thing is more out there, but 99% of it is argued and argued again, most famously written down in oh you know, the Talmud, a slightly religious book. But my point is that we are NOT and never really can say we surely are 100% positive about what all the rules and traditions mean. We trust them because they were written by tzadekim, but its NOT just because the religion is old that we follow it, its because we believe it to be the best way, of which there happens to be a few differing versions even within that in Orthodox Judaism. And yes, change is great. That doesn’t have to make it an avera.

    Maybe you agree with what we’re saying in the end, but personally I agree with some levels of flexibility. The way you made it out was that “It doesn’t matter if its true, it matters that it’s tradition”. This doesn’t mean you have to break rules of your religions, but when you become isolated people don’t understand you, and when that happens all shit goes down. All sectors of religion grew in the past few years because there was a move to religion, but its waning. I don’t really think the whole Satmar thing has any long term consequences. Maybe it’s just because of their birthrate. Either way, it doesn’t matter. My point is just that you should actually believe what you are doing is true, or at least best for you, not just because someone told you so. I know not everyone agrees with that, but that’s where I stand.

  • TRS May 10, 2010, 2:29 PM

    I believe I have figured out which comment you were commenting on in the first place, which means that I can answer you a little better.

    You are certainly correct that we have been arguing ever since the revelation about what the revelation means. This does not mean, however, that we have been sitting in a bar arguing if Hank Aaron or Babe Ruth is the better home run hitter. Every opinion expressed in the Talmud is based on tradition, going all the way back to the revelation. So too, throughout the ages, every opinion has been based on tradition, on what the person learned from his teachers. Rabbis don’t just make shtuff up out of thin air- every thing has a source, a reason.

    We certainly do know what the rules and traditions are. For that we have a Shulchan Oruch which explicitly states what we may and what we may not do. Of course, there are many disagreements as to what the Halacha in a particular situation is, but there is an established means to figuring out how to pasken, it doesn’t just come out of a hat.

    I certainly agree that a person should believe that their beliefs are true. My comment above (from oh so long ago) that it doesn’t matter whether it’s true or not was written because the commenter I was arguing with wanted to start the argument re: the truth of Torah, which is an argument which has no place in the current one.

  • Anonymous July 14, 2011, 8:26 AM

    ask your friend if he was ever molested

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