Yeshiva University symposium on being gay and orthodox

Homosexuality and orthodoxy is not so simple, I know there is an ongoing article between several folks on the interview with an orthodox Lesbian post from the summer. I can understand both sides, Homosexuality is one of the worst sins possible, according to most it is classified as deviant behavior and many folks simply think of it as a disease – which I find kind of funny because these are the same folks who say that gay people are the types that have tried everything under the sun and now they must explore more to fulfill their desires.

Yeshiva University held a symposium on being gay in the orthodox community last week and it drew quite a large crowd.There are quite a few articles about the event on the web – I picked some of them that I found worth reading.

The Curious Jew transcribed the event and Rabbi Gil Student makes a very good point about those people who attended the event, in his post about the growing problems of post-orthodoxy. Harry Maryles also talks about the YU Gay event. The Jewish Star had a great piece about the event this past week as well. Read the YU Commentator artcle as well.

But being gay and orthodox isn’t so simple, it’s not just another thing like keeping kosher, or not telling loshon horah, it’s a sin that doesn’t hurt anyone and it really hurts not to have love in your life. Telling someone they cannot get married or find true love is really tough. Imagine you were in their shoes, and you knew that in order to get married or raise a family you would be in violation of the religion you so strongly believe in. It’s really not so simple as just saying “screw you fags keep it in your pants.”

Then of course you have the issue of trying to deal with a public sinner, unlike other sins that are done in private, relationships are usually public, people are going find out if you chose to do these things in secret and who on earth wants to have a secret relationship – gay pride is not about a bunch of flamboyant queens running around in pink thongs (at least not in my mind) it’s about celebrating the ability to love freely, without being locked in a closet of lies to family, friends and the world.

The real complexities of being gay and orthodox in my mind, is trying to figure out what to do about it without lessening the torah values. Saying things like “you can be gay, but you cannot act on it” have no value in my mind, they are ignorant, like telling older singles to be shomer negiah forever – it just won’t work. But, does having symposiums like this hurt orthodoxy? Does it bring us all down a notch because it seems people are trying to change the torah view on such things and it really cannot be changed. Although someone in Berkeley told me that they had attended a shul in which during hagbah they realized the pasukim for sodom and gemorah were blacked out in the actual scroll.

So I am torn, I am one of those who want live and let live, yet I don’t want people changing the torah and that is what I feel is possible. I feel that it is only time until someone comes along and decides to remove certain phrases, or reword certian parts of the torah and some day they may be orthodox. On the other hand, I don’t think that gays and lesbians should be treated any differently then heterosexuals, that includes marriage and having families filled with wonderful children.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Sergeant J

    Deep thoughts…. waiting for it….

  • http://israelimom.org IsraeliMom

    The gay issue is one of those things that prove to me just how outdated and irrelevant the torah is as a text to live my life by. It has good things in it, but it’s mixed up with so much primitive and sometimes barbaric instructions. It reflects a social ethos that was relevant to the primitive tribes that lived here thousands of years ago. Not really relevant to the 21st century. No offense.

    Stoning for gay sex is just one aspect of it. Easy enough for me to solve as a secular Jew.

    • http://www.frumsatire.net Heshy Fried

      One of my many struggles with being orthodox, such a struggle, the torah is so periodical and it’s obvious – hence the need for the gemara, but that is outdated too so they made the shulchan aruch and then the mishna brura – but they too are outdated, in many ways. Apparently the torah is a living torah, but I do struggle with a lot of the concepts, I may have to repeat this comment in it’s own separate post.

      • Anonymous

        Please do! It sounds like you have some very interesting questions to discuss.

      • SF2K1

        Torah is periodical, Torah law is not. New interpretations and understanding are required throughout the ages. That’s not to say that old ways need replacing, but they require new levels of understanding that did not previously exist.

        If someone doesn’t believe the Torah is from HaShem as IsraeliMom apparently doesn’t, then there is nothing to talk about (and the argument that a disagreement from fluid secular ethical standing proves the outdatedness of Torah is a weak one). If you believe the Torah is from HaShem then we believe it’s an eternal morality and there’s little more to do about it (as the wording is pretty much explicit) just like any of the other halachas that have come and gone through their popularity/unpopularity.

        • Jacob

          Paradoxically, the view that some parts of the Torah don’t make sense today (see IsraeliMom above) may come out of values and ideas that are in the Torah itself.
          Torah is from HaShem and it’s eternal, but this doesn’t mean that our understanding of it can’t change and hasn’t changed. Torah is a living thing, it’s not a fossil. The wording is much less explicit than people think, but our understanding (and halacha, eventually) won’t change unless people who are equally committed to Torah AND understanding about gays get to grips with it.

          • SF2K1

            As an honest comparison, there is no reason halacha should change now to accommodate this particular attitude anymore than it ever has. Why would our situation be more demanding of a reinterpretation than Canaan, Egypt, Greece (and Rome by extension) or any other civilization where homosexuality was popular and accepted (while having significant Jewish populations who most likely went along with the trend to some degree)?

            This isn’t a halacha that’s going to go anywhere, attempts to try and reread the passage in a new way are not very easy to swallow, even remotely in a “what if” way (and I’ve heard quite a number of “creative” attempts to reread the pasuk).

            That said, the only way we can deal with it is just accept the fact that it’s something that some people are going to inevitably break, just like the other 612 mitzvot, and we don’t stone people for breaking shabbos either. But the extent that gay advocacy wants Judaism to change? Pretty much a brick wall there. It’s just a conflict in values at the end of the day.

      • http://israelimom.org IsraeliMom

        Looking forward to that post.
        I’m an atheist, so not too many dilemmas for me as to whether the Torah, the New Testament or Krishna’s words, are “the word of God”. We’re all apes, genetically engineered towards life in a clan, looking up to one big almighty ape. At some point, when our clans became too big, we invented an imaginary ape in the sky, and things just rolled on from there. That’s my take on it, anyway.

        That said, assuming One does believe in an almighty deity that runs the world, question remains why would that deity want you to follow a man-made collection of ancient scrolls? IMO, it’s just a bunch of people that came up with it – had I been a believer, last thing I’d do was follow someone else’s interpretation of the deity. I’d be looking for a more direct connection, or doing it my own way.

        Sorry for taking this a bit off-topic!

  • http://mordechai.org Mottel

    Hesh, well written!

  • http://conservadoxandsingle.blogspot.com Katrina

    I second Mottel

  • marty

    well writtne and thank you!as a gay frum guy its great to see not EVERYONE in the frum community is prejudice,though i am exsuasted from defending myself on the VIN article that they had about the same YU forum,what people write there in the comments is terrible,but i feel like i wasted my time,i dont think being gay will ever be accepted in the orthodox community,and im not talking about the concept of acting on my desires, im talking about just the simple fact that i ma GAY,frum people in general are known to be prejudice,we all know the terms schvartzas,feiglich,etc. its sad but i guess ill have to either live my life closeted,or open and not in the frum community there is no other option…

  • http://almostkosher.blogspot.com Brian

    Very well-written, Heshy.

  • http://silvermanpaula@gmail.com Paula

    Halacha is still Halacha and the Torah is the Torah
    If we could justify every discretion and get away with it I am sure we all would.
    Ultimately Hashem Created us and gave us the Torah for our good and Hashem knows what is best for us, he created us.
    We can not out smart Hashem.

    So we can not justify and bend the laws to adjust to our personal agendas, there will be a price for us to pay.

    We can admit it is a avera and we are falling short but we can not change or rewrite the Torah .
    We can not add or Subtract the Torah is written for all days, not dated.

    • Sergeant J

      The Torah, but not necessarily the commentators words..

      • Anonymous

        Sergent J,

        I suggest that by your statement you are in fact disbelieving the Torah itself. Does it not say (Parshat Re’ah – sorry that I don’t have exact chapter/verse handy) “v’asisa k’chol asher yorucha” – you shall do as [the Rabbis] teach to you, “Al pi HaTorah asher yorucha….”?

        I’m not sure which commentators’ words you are suggesting we ignore…..

        Also, how is your assertion relevant here? Why do the commentators come up?

        • Sergeant J

          By “commentators”, I mean those who have written about the Torah over the centuries. They are all humans, and sometimes, they can make mistakes. Silly me, I thought it was the Catholics who thought that a human (pope) can be infalliable. Guess it’s Catholics, and the few Jews who think that every rabbinic word is gospel.
          Now, don’t get me wrong, not EVERYTHING they write is based on the prejudices of the times and places they lived, but some of it sure as shit sounds like it is.

          • Anonymous

            Skip the generalities and get to specifics if you want to make a point. I’d be interested to hear you go head-to-head with Rashi, or the Rosh, etc.

            • Sergeant J

              Commentators go head-to-head with each other all the time, I guess two dissenting opinions must also be correct.
              If you have never heard of two different opinions from two different Rabbis one one line of Torah, or of ancient Rabbinic “science” blown out of the water by modern science, then you are living in a cave.

              • Anonymous

                Yes, THEY go head-to-head with each other. YOU do not go head-to-head with them. What value could YOU possibly add to a halachic disagreement between two Torah giants such as Rashi and the Rosh? Know your place, man. You wouldn’t think that a civvie like me should be teaching the army about proper troop formation, why would a simple Jew like you be making judgements about a discussion between the commentators?

                • Sergeant J

                  And who should I go to to interpret things? Obviously not YOU, since YOU, “anonymous”, do not even exist.
                  Rabbis of today? Sure, I could, but they are too busy committing felonies, making racist jokes, and molesting children and potential converts to give unbiased looks at anything.
                  If you do not like me having a different opinion, tough.
                  I have a face, and I have an opinion, and that is reality. You are anonymous, you have no face, and your thoughts are at best “baaa”. Talk to Phil, he’s the one into the wildlife.

                  • Anonymous

                    Amusing.

                  • Anonymous

                    P.S. I’m only “anonymous” because I don’t come here often enough to make picking a screen name worth anything. Is that a problem?

                    • Sergeant J

                      Nope. Hope you enjoyed your trolling.

  • great…

    Well written???

    Are you ppl nuts?

    I really hate this blog.

    • http://twitter.com/MarkSoFla Mark

      If you hate it then why on earth do you read it, much less comment on it?

  • Lakewood Observer

    The thing that gets me is that there is very little understanding or sympathy for gays in the Orthodox world. If you live your life by strict torah guidelines that’s great and people should respect that. But at least try to open your heart and minds just a little and respect the pain and emotional turmoil that people go through. For that, I must give mad props to the YU symposium for opening the discussion.

    • http://www.frumsatire.net Heshy Fried

      It’s very similar to anything “foreign” to orthodox Jews, they will rag on it and hate on it even if they don’t know why. How come orthodox Jews are so racist? Wasn’t Moshe Rabeinu Black?

      • Anonymous

        No, he wasn’t. But it’s likely that his wife was.

        • http://twitter.com/MarkSoFla Mark

          So what color were their children?

          • Anonymous

            gRay?

      • NewYorker

        his wife was black, he was not.

  • Phil

    Y’all no my views on this one. What’s halachically wrong is halachically wrong, end of story. Anyone that tells you it’s OK to act out on gay feelings isn’t a valid rabbininc authority, whether it’s the actual act or only getting to “3rd base”.

    As for the ridiculous parade, Hesh is wrong about it not being about running around in freakish clothing. I somehow (unknowingly) ended up in middle of a pride parade about 15 years ago in New Orleans, I even told the person showing me around town “without trying to offend you, I think your city is full of fags…”. I doubt I would have noticed if they were dressed like every days homos instead of those stupid leather caps and pink leotards.

    I can’t see how their parades would motivate anyone to feel bad or join them, but that’s just me.

    • Sergeant J

      ..and the wait is over.

      • Phil

        Sarge,

        I know you’re starting to enjoy it by now ;)

    • dassi

      was wondering when you would chime in. though i strongly disagree with you on many issues- strangely, i look forward reading your posts. it is kind of like watching an accident that is about to happen- you want to look away- but can’t.

  • http://silvermanpaula@gmail.com Paula

    Heshy,
    Why do you seek out orthodox Jews as racist, your own people?
    All major religions oppose homo sexuality it is not only a Orthodox Jewish issue it is a issue society is graveling with for many years.
    Talk to Hashem and ask him why he added this discretion to his Holy Torah.
    Hashem created you so ask him to help you figure out why you have these feelings and are Orthodox.
    This is between you and Hashem not us.

    You don’t have to lash out at others you wrote your article and should be open to all responses .
    Ultimately it is your life and you have to come to terms with the reality of your struggles.

    • http://www.frumsatire.net Heshy Fried

      Am I lashing out?

      Orthodox Jews are racist – it’s not an opinion – it’s a fact!

    • marty

      oh please,talk to hashem right,what then hell send out a bas kol saying “i made you gay to serve me” please lets get real here something doesnt make sense,it says in the torah you cant be gay,but then god makes people gay,that doesnt add up,and i know everypone will say its a “nisoyon” whatever im not buying that,hashem makes a set of laws which half i cant even do,because im gay,like getting married,having kids etc. just because hes giving me a nisoyon,but i just had a thought maybe me being gay is a nisoyon for all the straight people,to see how they will treat the people that are gay,will they despise them like people like “phil” or support them like “heshy”….

      • Anonymous

        marty, you could say the same for any commandment. G-d said honor your parents and then he handed me a child abusing father and an absent alcoholic mom. G-d said don’t kill and then made me a bloodthirsty savage. Etc.

        Also, some commandments don’t have ramifications that affect everyone – if you’re not living in Israel, the laws of Shmitta, yovel, trumah etc don’t affect you directly. Similar to how the commandment against homosexuality doesn’t really affect straight people’s lives.

        • marty

          actually the homosexuality law does apply to straight people,as for the laws of israel,those ar halachahs of a specific place,while marriage laws arent,as for honor your parents the torah never says you dont have to honor your parents if they abuse you,your still obligated to,unless they make u go against the torah,as for killing the halachah dont kill applies to everyone,because man has a natural desire to kill,but when god says dont touch any woman,because you may have a desire to be with her,that doesnt apply to me whatsoever,its like touching a chair i feel no desire,so the halachah doesnt apply to me in a technical sense,

      • http://sdalez1@gmail.com Rog

        marty, i have a very strong desire for cheeseburgers, everytime i pass one my mouth salivates, can you please use your reasoning to allow me to get one? thanks

        • marty

          god ive heard that dumb arguement so many times,heres how its different,wanting a cheeseburger is desire to eat a certain type of food,ok so u cant eat,but you can quench the desire to eat by eating something kosher,but someone whos gay how can he quench his desire?? there is no way oher than to be with another guy,Thats how the ridiculous food example is answered its pretty simple really…

          • http://sdalez1@gmail.com Rog

            nope i have a desire for cheesburgers nothing else, will satisfy me. next time you order pizza and the waiter says were out off pizza and just serves you a hotdog its a food so be happy youll know what i mean. we all have our tavehs, that doesnt make them mutar, be gay all you want but defending it with silly arguments is just sad

            • http://www.frumsatire.net Heshy Fried

              Not eating basur v’chalav and abstaining from a basic human desire and need your entire life are two totally different things.

            • marty

              i will defend being gay,because god made me that way,if god made you with an insatiable desire to eat cheeseburgers defend it all you want,what im saying is theres a difference netween sexual desires and food desires,it states in the torah sexual desires is on a different level than any other,a person needs to fulfill his sexual desires to function,you can eat 10 day old bread to function,its not a correct comparison at all…

      • Phil

        Marty,

        What makes you think I “despise” anyone? Just because I disagree with people tht brag about their perversities? Or because they whine about their situation to everyone else thinking that it gives them a license to do as they please?

        What if I told you I had the hots for your granny and couldn’t sleep a wink at night until I got into bed with her? Would you feel bad for me or would you want to kick my butt?

        • Frumsatire Fan

          Sleeping with grannies, eating cheeseburgers… People use these comparisons for the sake of argument, but it’s ovious that they aren’t real life things OR a basic human desire and need, as Heshy said. “… ad she tagia limkomo”; this isn’t mekomo by any stretch of the imagination.

          • http://twitter.com/MarkSoFla Mark

            I don’t know why people keep using such stupid comparisons when there a perfectly good comparison that is even in the same realm they can use. And that is the fact that men naturally have a proclivity to want to have sex with their wife every day of the month AND men have a natural proclivity to want to have sex with as many women as possible (the whole hundreds of millions of sperm, etc). And that women have an innate desire to have sex with the most powerful men around her to ensure strong offspring. These are basic human desires and needs. And frum people suppress those desires and needs as much as they possibly can.

          • Phil

            Frumsatire fan,

            When the Torah list all of the above perversities (arayot), it also testifies that the inhabitants of Canaan did ALL of them.

            If you don’t think that there are people into incest, bestiality and every other unimaginable fetish, you a gravely mistaken. Internet sites that cater to these individuals make up the the highest percentage of e-commerce today for a good reason: They provide what these sickos are looking for.

        • marty

          actually i would feel bad for you,as for why you despise its the language you use “homos” fags,all those terms is used by someone who despises.

          • Phil

            Marty,

            I personally find the term gay more offensive. Somebody decided to hijack a synonim of “happy” and now no one else can use that word without it referencing a perversity.

            Last time I tried to use it playing with my 11 year old daughter in scrabble, her and friends all blushed and started giggling telling I couldn’t use it because it’s a bad word. Sure enough, a few turns later my daughter ask me if she can use the “F word”.

            Absolutely nothing wrong with abbreviating homos*xual into homo, it’s like abbreviating Jewish into Jew. As for fag, it’s as much of a slang word as gay, actually means a small stick (cigarette in the UK).

            If you choose to identify yourselves using a hijacked slang word, why I am perceived as a “hater” when I choose to do the same?

            • marty

              oh please you know good and well why you use the term fag and homo,dont come up with some bullshit excuse,advice to you stop wasting your time ranting here,and go teach your daughter not to ask about the fword…

              • Phil

                Marty,

                See, now you’re judging me all while asking others not to judge you. Doesn’t make much sense.

                • marty

                  i give back what i get.

    • Julia

      Hesh, I think she’s calling you gay.

      • http://www.frumsatire.net Heshy Fried

        If only I were stylish enough

  • heblish

    Heshy, like many others, I think you confuse homosexual relationships with homosexual (really, anal) sex.

    The Torah does not prohibit same-sex relationships – only the act of anal sex (according to most paskim). So when you write:
    “relationships are usually public, people are going find out if you chose to do these things in secret “
    I don’t see how this is any different than most heterosexual relationships today. It’s no secret that the many, many self-proclaimed ‘orthodox’ couples do not observe taharat hamishpacha. Nevertheless, we do not TRY to find out if we should exclude them from our communities because of this sin, or otherwise ostracize them generally.

    In other words, we don’t ask what’s going on in their bedrooms – we prefer to assume it’s kosher. Why not do the same with people in homosexual relationships?

    • http://www.frumsatire.net Heshy Fried

      So you mean to tell me you assume that someone in a serious long term relationship or marriage is not having sex? Please…

      • Anonymous

        Heshy, inside a marriage there is often no sex. On that note, maybe gay marriage will actually solve problems!

    • Phil

      Heblish,

      Hogwash! Halcha (Rambma, Shulchan Aruch) specifically prohibts kissing or embracing (in a s*xual way) anyone forbidden to them, whether it’s incest, homos, or niddah.

      • http://boroparkpyro.blogspot.com/ Steg (dos iz nit der šteg)

        According to Rambam, it’s mide’oraita.
        According to Ramban, it’s miderabanan.

      • DrumIntellect

        Even sleeping under the same blanket is forbidden (from what i recall from the Mishneh)

      • http://conservadox.tripod.com woodrow/conservadox

        What the Torah says is one thing.
        What the post-Torah halacha says is something very different (and, in the case of homosexuality, a much broader prohibition).
        Modern Jews can’t modify the Torah (as Heshy notes) but they can certainly modify halacha (see, e.g., the kosher certifiers’ “War on Leafy Vegetables”).

    • Phil

      Heblish,

      If a couple doesn’t follow Taharat hamishpacha, they usally don’t make YU symposiums or parade around wearing mikveh towels and blowing whistles about their sins. More than likely, they’ll keep them in the bedroom where they belong.

  • marty

    “I can’t see how their parades would motivate anyone to feel bad or join them, but that’s just me” yup that is just you as brainless and heartless as always…

    • http://www.frumsatire.net Heshy Fried

      The parades are not for you – they are for them – so they can finally feel proud and gay, they don’t have to lock themselves up in a closet and lie to everyone they know.

      • Phil

        Hesh,

        If the parades are for, what the heck are all the straight people doing there? Shouldn’t they confine them to gay areas (districts, bars) only?

        • person

          Have you seen these gay parties going on along the west side highway on gay pride day in the city. Those people sure know how to party!

        • http://www.frumsatire.net Heshy Fried

          Gay people are funny, naked lesbians are hot and flamboyant gays are hilarious – plus they are always giving out free condoms and cool stuff.

  • ari

    being gay is definitly not a good thing. however it doesnt mean we should hate our jewish sisters and brothers, like so many do. if somebody commits a sin such as stealing something or speakign loshan hara we dont hate them so y should we if they are gay?

    • Anonymous

      Ain’t that the truth. The sin is between the sinner and G-d.

    • marty

      very true and it goes a step further,if im gay and i never touch a guy in my life and i tell everyone im gay they will hate me and look down on me,its not about the sin at all,thats just what people like “phil” say to excuse themselves for hating,and being prejudice.

      • Phil

        Marty,

        Anyone orthodox Jew that claims to be gay when they haven’t touched anybody is either looking for attention, or a complete idiot.

        It would be the equivalent of someone declaring themselves as a thief just because they felt like stealing.

        • marty

          your crazy,ive never touched another guy and i know that im 100% gay,are u saying you werent sure you were 100% straight until you touched a woman??

          • Phil

            Marty,

            What you know and what you tell people are 2 different things. I’m may know someone is really ugly or stupid but I wouldn’t necessarilly tell them.

            If you feel gay and have never acted out upon your desires, you’re a tzadik for your restraint, yet, at the same time, I feel you’d be an idiot to come out in the frum community with those feelings. If you feel the need to talk about your situation, you can do so in anonymous support groups, blogs, etc.

            I’m not in your shoes, so I can’t tell you what’s right or wrong, it just seems that you have enough dilemmas facing you and can do very well without the biggoted or prejudiced attitudes most of of will inevitably have.

            And just because I may have a prejudiced attitude against your lifestyle, it doesn’t mean that I hate you or have anything against you personally.

            • marty

              your right on one point,it doesnt pay to come out in the frum community,because id have to deal with people like you,this is your most sensible post ive seen so far…

              • Phil

                Marty,

                So basically, the guys that came out at this symposium shouldn’t have done so or were stupid to do so. In other words, you’re finally agreeing with me for a change.

                BTW, I’m probably more moderate and tolerant than the majority of really frum Jews, as bad as that may sound.

                • marty

                  no they didnwhat they felt was right for them,i dont know maybe it was a good idea for them,but i know for me personally to come out will only cause me harm,its sad but true…

                  • Phil

                    Marty,

                    I didn’t think you’d actually agreed with me, I just baited you for that one ;)

                    Seriously speaking though, I don’t feel anyone should come out, or feel they have to come out to, anyone but themselves. God already knows the turmoil you’re going through, and it really isn’t anyone else’s business.

                    If anyone thinks that coming out will be beneficial to them as opposed to harmful, they might have a reason to do so. But as a frum Jew, their are inevitably going to be dire consequences.

                    Without trying to make too much satire out of your situation, ever consider going out with a really masculine type butch female just to see what happens? Kind of the opposite of what male prisoners do to their “bitches”.

                    • marty

                      lol ever considered going out with a nice feminine boy? you know the type that speaks in a high pitchvoice and wears very feminine clothes,use your answer to answer your question.

                    • Phil

                      Marty,

                      In reply to #80 below, I never considered it as I’m part of the normal population. and it would serve no purpose.

                      In our case however, if you like dudes yet know it’s wrong to touch one and don’t want to be celibate, a hairy butch type might be better than nothing and the closest you’ll get away with. Possibly make babies too.

                      I probably sound real insensitive right now as usual…

                    • marty

                      reply to #81,you dont seem to understand that being gay=0 attraction to ANY female,just like being straight=0 attraction to the same sex,and from your answer it seems you might consider sleeping with a feimine guy if it served a purpose lol,are u sure your not a drop bi?
                      ‘a girl is a girl butch or not,and im gay so no matter how much hair a girl might grow on her legs and talk masculine it wont make me attracted to them,

                    • Phil

                      Marty,

                      OK, I guess you know yourself well enough. As you’re frum, it looks like a long, hard (pun intended) life of celibacy for you.

                    • marty

                      reply to #83, i doubt i have the strength and resolve to be celibate….

                    • Phil

                      Marty,

                      I don’t envy you. Good luck.

  • http://twitter.com/susqhb Susanne

    As I just tweeted: Could the most compassionate post about the YU symposium on Gays in Orthodoxy be from @FrumSatire? Well said Heshy!

    • http://www.frumsatire.net Heshy Fried

      Wow thanks Susanne

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for this post. Just in the interest of venting, the main frustrations for me in how the frum community deals with this issue:

    1) I really wish people understood the difference between the prohibition on a specific sexual act and the fact that some people possess this orientation. There are gays and lesbians Jews who are Orthodox (I am one, and I know many) who are very observant and make sure not to break any of the sexual prohibitions. Including people in committed relationships. Believe it or not, not all (even non-Jewish) gay male couples have anal sex. Straight people seem to think this is the case, but gay men know it’s not. In the frum world, that is even more the case. Because straight people are often in the mindset that one particular sex act = the be-all and end-all of sex, they tend to assume that’s true for gay people. It’s not. There is no set way that all gay couples like to have sex. You’d be surprised. We should not be assuming all gay men are engaging in male-on-male anal sex. It’s just not true.

    2) It shows how influenced we are by the secular and Christian worlds when frum people lump lesbians and gay men in together. This is a secular idea and not really applicable to halacha / Jewish thought at all, since the halachic issues with lesbian and gay male sexuality are very different. We need to be clear when we’re really talking about anal male-on-male sex (a more accurate description for what is prohibited than “homosexuality” which encompasses lots of other things), when we’re actually talking about homosexual identity in general, and when we’re talking about lesbian identity and lesbian sex. These are all somewhat different halachically speaking.

    3) It drives me crazy that I am considered to be “indiscreet” or “flaunting it” by just living my little life as a mitzvah-loving and G-d-fearing frum Jew who is in a relationship with another woman. I don’t announce my relationship any more (in fact I announce it much less) than any frum person. Every frum person advertises their relationship every time they talk about their spouse, shidduchim, weddings, and other simchas. Gay frum people know we have to hide or play down much of our lives when we’re in the frum community and will still get accused of flaunting it. The very fact that I don’t go out of my way to hide it like it’s a shameful skeleton in the closet means that I’m considered by some to be “flaunting my sins” or something. People have no right to assume things about my morals, my sexual activities or my mitzvah observance based on my living a committed and monogamous life with a female partner (also frum).

    4) Why all the obsession with homosexuality and with shunning or judging gay people when no one seems nearly as obsessed with alienating or marginalizing all the people who commit other sins? There are lots of people in our communities who are sinning (some by everyone’s standards, some only by some peoples’ standards) and rarely are they ostracized. I think the Lubavitch movement does one thing right – They welcome all Jews (usually in a fairly non-judgmental way) into their shuls and encourage people to take on more mitzvos, even just one. Many elements of the MO community, on the other hand, prefer to judge and ostracize and make things very uncomfortable for anyone who doesn’t conform. Is that what Hashem wants of us as a community? Really? Is that conducive to encouraging a more mitzvo loving and mitzvo observant community?

    5) The stupid cheeseburger comparison. People do not usually live lonely and childless lives, get shunned from their religious community and consider or even commit suicide because they want a cheeseburger. I think it’s becoming evident to more and more communal leaders that we must deal with homosexuality with a little extra dose of compassion for the actual reality of how gay orientation (and specifically, how the banning of gay people from having any kind of relationships) impacts peoples’ lives, dignity and yiddishkeit in a way that other inclinations do not. I am glad to see more people caring to try to understand this, because if they do not, the conversation in the frum community about gay folks will never be based in reality or in compassion.

    • Phil

      Anon,

      Though your post is well written and thoughtful, you seem to have a few facts wrong.

      1) All forms of homo intimacy are forbidden, some from the Torah, some from the rabbanan. Just as you can’t eat a cheeseburger according to the Torah, so too, you can’t eat a chicken cheeseburder from the Rabbanan.

      2) Anyone openly announcing that they are gay in the frum world, is looking for trouble, just as would anyone announcing that they are into incest (screwing their mom’s) or bestiality. These sins tend to disgust most frummies more than any other category of sins, plain and simple. Don’t ask me why, it just the way it is.

      Forcing a pride parade onto Jerusalem is a blatant disregard for the holy atmosphere of the city, and another attempt by the flamboyant homos to rub our the religious world’s nose in their shit.

      3) Yes, the refraining from a cheeseburger analogy is kind of silly. Let’s compare s*xual deviants to other s*xual deviants. Should we accept / feel bad for / accomodate people that are strictly into:
      a) arayot (incest, bestiality)
      b) Doing it ONLY during niddah
      c) Marrying children between the age of 3 and 12 (permitted by the Torah, illegal in some countries).

      Seemingly, all of the above deviants are in the same boat as homos, and all deserve the same “compassion”.

      Would love to read a well thought out argument to this last point…

      • schwartzie

        I’m pretty sure that you’re not allowed to consummate a marriage to a minor before she reaches maturity.

        • Phil

          Schwartzie,

          You may or may not be right, I ‘d have to look it up and I don’t have the sefer here at my office.

          Anyway, let’s assume that this particular individual likes them young. He marries them at 12, and when she hits 18, he marries and additional 12 year old, and keeps doing that over and over again.

          The above scenario is perfectly legal according to Torah, and even the Rabbanna until R. Gershom outlawed multiple wives. So, the ashkenaz could do something similar, just has to divorce the next wife every time she hits 18 years old and she’s “too old” for his personal liking, then replace her with a fresh 12 year old.

          How many of you would feel bad for this guy if he lives in a civilized country that doesn’t permit him to “live his lifestyle”, even though halacha does?

  • http://www.myspace.com/blanketstatementstein ahron

    YU is a frum satire in itself.

  • http://finkorswim.com E. Fink

    Heshy and all others:

    A very important post on the matter has just been posted on DovBear.

    I suggest taking a look over there.

    Why I Don’t Identify as Gay

    • marty

      hes a little in denial.

      • Observer

        Is this your way of saying that you don’t like what he said?

        • marty

          no not at all,it just seems like hes in denial thats all.

  • Dave

    There are cases in the Talmud where a person is freed of a punishment, even as the act is still prohibited, if the person is under compulsion. However, the Talmud only deals with temporary compulsions and the sages who wrote the Talmud did not know biological sciences like we do today (spontaneous generation has long been disproven). At the very least, this should be taken into account when talking about Halachic abiding homosexuals. On the other hand, this logic could be twisted to justify other forbidden acts like pedophelia (how many Rabbis accused of touching boys have also attacked homosexuality??), but it should be noted that homosexual acts are not psychologically scarring if consensual.

    There are instances where homosexual acts are completely unacceptable. It’s no secret that heterosexual males sometimes commit homosexual acts, either for money or b/c there are no females around (prison life is tough)

  • Curious

    It is interesting that you describe homosexuality as “one of the worst sins possible” when from a purely halachic standpoint all the nice STRAIGHT jewish boys out there banging their girlfriends on tefilin dates are committing a much greater sin of sleeping with a nidah. People seem to have this visceral hatred and fear of gays to such an extent that they are blinded to the fact some of their own transgressions are in fact far worse than homosexuality.

    • Observer

      How do you deduce that it is a much greater sin?

  • Avrumy

    Hi everyone. I can’t believe I missed this stream of blather.
    I am an orthodox gay Jew. Most of my friends are orthodox gay Jews. I have no interest in the forbidden act (regardless of Phil’s insistence that all acts are procreated equal). Many or most orthodox gays avoid that act as well. Or at least try to. Rabbinic taboos on all other male acts of intimacy – based on ignorance and fear – have no power here.
    I attended the historic YU panel. It was an extraordinary event. Hundreds of young religious Jews turned up to hear for themselves what the eminence grise refuse to talk about, or even recognize. The young men who spoke received standing ovations from their peers. I was shepping such nachas. Kudos to YU and the brave, adorable young men who poured out their hearts and souls to people who actually gave a damn for a change and not the robots and zombies that make up so much of orthodox Jewry.

  • Rachel

    What a well written article. Thank you.

  • marty

    here is an amazing documentary about this topic,it is from achristian point of view but it applies to judiasm too,

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=04AVRslVRbY

    explains a lot!

    • dassi

      just finished watching this. very well done and informative.

  • Frankist1676

    A wonderful post, and one that I would like to take a step further. As you write,” Telling someone they cannot get married or find true love is really tough.” Indeed. As such, I am proposing we also make room for incest.

    Obviously genetic complications arise when brothers and sisters involve themselves in an incestuous relationship. However, same sex incest, to me at least, should be brought to the table and discussed. Of course, I am not by any means proposing we alter Halacha, yet it is important that we, at the very least, hold a symposium where Orthodox Jews who seek to commit themselves to same sex incestuous relationships be allowed to give voice to their struggle for acceptance. Understandably, certain people have certain attractions and desires, and if a man finds their true love and wishes to spend the rest of their life with this person and create “families filled with wonderful children” far be it for me to say he can’t just because his true love also happens to be his brother.

    • Avrumy

      Another idiot with access to a keyboard.

    • Avrumy

      Or should I say another closet case with access to a keyboard?

  • Phil

    Avrumy,

    So now Frankist is an idiot or a closet case while the symposium and it’s participants should be praised?

    What if a guy from PETA find’s true love with “man’s best friend”?

    • Avrumy

      Phil,
      How does that concern you, unless you had eyes on the poodle first?

      • Phil

        This entire topic doesn’t concern me, nor does it concern most of the readers of this blog. Whatever the geniuses at the YU symposium decided or will decide, doesn’t change Judaism, halacha or my lifestyle in any way, shape or form.

        As for the dog, I prefer Eskimo dogs, they have the most beautiful blue eyes :)

        • Avrumy

          I knew that deep down you were a romantic.

  • Frankist1676

    Wait, seriously, I’m the idiot? Why is this is so far fetched? Why would a symposium on incest be different from the gay acceptance gala they just held at YU?

  • Anonymous

    wow, I think I may have a point we can all agree on. Historic as it may be, there is something we all could, or should agree on. We were all created “B’tzelem Elokim,” in Hashems image. Anyone who claims to know whether we, as Orthodox Jews, should support or condemn gays, is wrong.

    The truth is, no one knows for sure. We can speculate, think, even ask our posek, but in the end it will all remain to be solved until moshiach. With this in mind, we need to focus on Achdus, becoming the best we can be, and forming close relationships with Hashem. Only after that can we hope/claim to know the infinite truth.

  • Hannah

    Homos*xual Jews are not going along with a “trend” and I hardly think that this society is one where homosexuality is “popular” … Homos*xuality is becoming more accepted because (for Americans, at least) we live in a secular society that is supposed to guarantee equal rights to everyone regardless of orientation, race, or religion. In the same way that the USA allows us Jews to coexist peacefully and celebrate our rights and traditions in spite of the fact that we are a minority, the development of this tendency is also inclusive of all orientations – or will be eventually, I dearly hope.

    Homos*xuals, bis*xuals, pans*xuals, as*xuals, and heteros*xuals – they are inclined that way from the start. I assume, if you are straight, that it would be very difficult to convince yourself that you are not attracted to the opposite gender – the same holds true for homos3xuals. No Frum Jew would choose to fight the battle of resisting his or her attraction to the same gender. There is no win for him or her – they must either fight a losing battle their entire life and be “righteous” or they give into their “temptation” and feel shame or abandon the religion altogether.

    There has to be some semblance of balance for these individuals or else they are forced to suffer and live in guilt for something they cannot control. The only “trend” is that homos3xuality is now something that secular individuals are gradually becoming less and less ashamed of. Certainly, some flagrant individuals are not ashamed at all – and I applaud them for that. While I understand that an*l s*x is in violation of Leviticus, orientation is out of one’s control and there has to be a happy medium for them to exist in a life that isn’t comprised of constant suffering – of hiding and feeling shame for something that comes naturally to them.

    If you’d like to state that Torah is directly from Hashem – then there is a restriction in place as to what two men can physically do together. But the complete and utter intolerance of the homos3xual orientation and the desire of observant Jews to lock their homos3xual brothers and sisters in the closet for life lest their “sins” drag the entire community down – that’s people. That’s not Hashem. Nowhere does it say that we should be treating any of our fellow Jews in this manner. Becoming more tolerant of the homos3xual orientation and becoming more understanding and loving of our homos3xual brethren is a good thing – tolerance and love are always a good thing. And, ultimately, it will prevent driving away homos3xuals from religious observance and will quell the suffering of those who continue to be observant. I see nothing wrong with that.

  • Phil

    Hannah,

    What’s a pans*xual? One that does it with frying pans?