Dear Chinuch Roundtable:
I’m a frum gay man. I’m not sure which is better, to date non-Jews or Jews. On the one hand I have much more in common with other frum guys, on the other hand, I feel bad causing other Jewish guys to sin with me. What should I do?
First off, let’s all congratulate me on my recent survival of “hell week” and subsequent ordination as a member of the Reconstructionist clergy. As part of my initiation into the rabbinate I was forced to eat slugs, swim in a kiddie pool filled with urine, and swill inordinate amounts of beer– and having gone through these experiences I feel uniquely qualified to answer your question, provided you help clear some things up for me first.
What precisely are you asking here? From what I understand, you are looking for a safe and intimate alternative to latex condoms– if so, fear not because I believe there is an AIDS vaccine that should be on the market any day now. If it’s smegma you’re worried about, let me reiterate my position that male genital mutilation is a barbaric practice that should be stopped, and frankly, from my personal experience, after a drink or two the smegma really doesn’t taste that bad. Finally, towards the end of your question you mentioned causing Jewish guys to “sin” with you– I’m unfamiliar with the term. Is this a new thing that the gay community is doing these days? If so, please let me know what it is because I’d really like to try it out.
I know that it’s not really my place to try to teach you anything or tell you what to do, but I’m just offering an uncritical reminder that the official position of the Reconstructionist movement is that there is really no such thing as a “Jew”, or being “Jewish”– there are just people, and that we deem these types of archaic distinctions to be a bit on the offensive side. Again, I can’t tell you what to do, but I’ve got to say that if it were me, I’d never refer to myself as Jewish. It’s just gross.
Since I’m not a posek, I forwarded your question to R’ Ishboshes Michael Grussfeigel, Rosh Kollel, Yerech Avraham, Monsey, NY.From the desk of Rabbi I.M. Grussfeigel:
To tell you the truth, out of the thousands of sha’alos I’ve dealt with over the years, I’ve never been asked this. Now that I think about it, it’s kind of strange. But I’m glad you weren’t embarrassed to ask me this question, because the emes is, even when we do the worst, most terrible, shreklecha, aveiros against the ratzon of the ribono shel oilam, it’s better to get a heter.
Ok. Your sha’alah really depends on what maaseh you plan on doing. Are you stam tooing oif? Or are you putting the cheftzah in the gavrah? Where? Shnei tzdadim? All these things have to be taken into account. So please include a detailed plan in your next letter.
Until then, I’ll give you general rules. You can’t let make another yid be nichshal. Let’s use shabbos. You can’t tell another yid to come to your house on shabbos if you know he’s going to have to drive. But if he’s already doing it, there’s a heter to do it for kiruv reasons. So, if you know someone else is already a practicing to’aiva, have him do it with you and learn some gemara afterwards. If you can’t find someone else who’s already being nichshal, use facebook. It’s basically impossible not to get hit on by frum gay guys. If you can’t find someone, and you don’t use the internet for personal use, it’s better to do it with a goy. But then you run into other halachic problems, like basar shenisalem min ha’ayin (just leave a light on) and pas akum (I don’t want to get into it), among other things, so please get back to me as soon as possible and I’ll give you a step-by-step answer.
Rabbi Talli Bahn
I’m a graduate of Ner Yisrael with smicha, and served as a ruv in a shul in New England for 10 years. Then I had gender reassignment surgery and became a woman. Yes I’m a Woman Rabbi, dammit. While in New England, I got a double degree in Catholic girls from Stonehill College. Or was it Amherst College? I don’t remember. But I chased a lot of skirt when I was there by pretending to do kiruv work. Eventually I joined the other team, and now I get to cop a feel every time I say slach lanu.
You pose a good question. On the one hand, how could you date a non-Jew? After all of those terrible stories we heard in day school about how your soul will rot in hell for even thinking of dating a non-Jew, just the thought must give you trauma. In fact, the whole point of those stories was to give you trauma. On the other hand, to cause another Jew to be lured into your gay lair is simply unthinkable. Even if you don’t blindfold the guy, it’s still an issur of lifne iver. You are causing him to perform an unspeakable act, one that you could only read about in a gay magazine or watch on a gay video — but certainly not speak about — ‘cuz, eeeww, I don’t care what rights you have, I don’t want to hear about what you guys do.
There is certainly an advantage to dating your gentile lover. Everyone at Ner Yisrael would say “shiksas are for practice” — and I’m guessing the guys at Telz said the same thing about men. But I can’t imagine you having a real relationship with a non-Jew over the long term. Imagine if you did, you might get your picture cut out of of an old yearbook photo. Shocking, but true. Something like this once happened at the left-wing conservative day school Nachmonides in Brockton, MA.
The way I see it, your best option is to have gender reassignment surgery, like I did. Then, not only could you date the yid of your dreams, you could marry him too. You guys could shtup all the time. And if you got smicha now, before the surgery, you too could be a real female rabbi, just like me. So dump the shaygetz, and date the yid.
The RaHaF shlita:
I’m so sorry that you have sunk to such a low madreiga and haven’t been able to control you’re tayva’s, but this is your nesayon and I believe that you can change. This is why I think dating Jews is so important, when you finish rehabilitation for your disease it will be a good thing that you have stayed within Judaism to find a shidduch. If you date non-Jews, you may come to date non-Jewish women after you conquer your disease. I have heard lots of stories from Jonah graduates of the unfortunate fare of those who have become straight again and succumbed to the horrible fate of intermarriage.
I know my decision is controversial, but it’s for your case only, I don’t think it should be used as a general ruling. Similar to Rav Moshe’s famous cholov yisroel that has been taken out of context, I believe that your case is unique, because all is not lost. Being frum entails so many things beyond your disease. Just because suffer from cancer, diabetes or homosexuality doesn’t mean you cannot be frum at the same time. There’s no reason for those struggling with these diseases not to daven with a minyan, learn daf yomi or eat triple washed lettuce.
It was hard to to find people to answer the question this week, many responded with the ignorant “frum and gay is pas nisht” and told me that I was a true apikorus for even publishing such a question, but I did get three folks to respond to it. If you would like to propose a chinuch roundtable question or answer the question, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org