Volume 49 Number 02
                    Produced: Mon Jul 18  8:22:01 EDT 2005

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Gay Pride (2)
         [Edward Ehrlich, Orrin Tilevitz]
         [Dov Teichman]
Heterosexual talk
         [Akiva Miller]
Orthodox Gay Community
         [Ari Trachtenberg]
Religiously-Observant Homosexuals (2)
         [Matthew Pearlman, Akiva Miller]
The whole nine yards
         [Carl A. Singer]


From: Edward Ehrlich <eehrlich@...>
Date: Fri, 15 Jul 2005 16:47:40 +0300
Subject: Gay Pride

Michael Mirsky wrote:

>> They, as individuals, are gay / lesbian. That in itself does not say
>> anything about their actual practices behind closed doors. Some
>> practice total abstinence, others do not feel able to do so, but
>> modify their practices to minimize violation of halacha.

>True, as far as what they do behind closed doors, we don't know for sure
>(but do you really think most of them do not have a sexual relationship
>and just best friends)? So behind closed doors, it's between them and
>Hashem and isn't the business of the tzibur until they publically come
>out and call themselves a family unit, wanting to be recognized as
>shomer mitzvos and gain shul membership - this is going too far.  

Outside of the Haradei communities, I don't know of any synagogue -
including Orthodox ones - that require their members to be shomeir
mitzvot. Members of many Orthodox synagogues have a wide range of levels
of observance. Furthermore, most Orthodox synagogues will accept as
members those who are not shomeir Shabbat, i.e. even those who PUBLICLY
drive on Shabbat.

If a synagogue welcomes as a member someone who publicly drives on
Shabbat, they should equally welcome a member who is privately engaging
in homosexual relations. The synagogue is not sanctioning either driving
on Shabbat or homosexuality. It is accepting members who are not totally
shomeir mitzvot.  The question of whether two unrelated, co-habiting
members of the same sex should be given a "family" membership is not
very significant. If the synagogue demands that family membership only
go to people who are married or are blood relatives then unmarried
couples will have to sign up for separate synagogue memberships and two
copies of the synagogue bulletin will arrive at their door at once. If
the synagogue allows non-traditional arrangements (several college
students rooming together) the couple can take out a joint membership.

In all due respect, I think that the personal revulsion many people have
against homosexuality is coloring this discussion. I don't think that
gay Orthodox Jews (whether they abstain from homosexuality liaisons or
not) want a "gushpanke" (seal of approval) on homosexual activities, but
want to be accepted in they sense that they are greeted with a "Gut
Shabbes" or "Shabbat Shalom" after services despite their less than
perfect observance of the mitzvot.

Ed Ehrlich <eehrlich@...>
Jerusalem, Israel

From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Fri, 15 Jul 2005 09:53:47 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Gay Pride

In an earlier post, Avi Feldblum said that all otherwise-observant (I'll
use the shorthand "Orthodox") gays and lesbians (I'll call them both
"gays") want from the straight Orthodox community is "civility".  I
suggested that "civility" might in part be a code word for legitimacy,
and I gave as examples family membership, a misheberach, and married
couple placecards.  As Shayna from Toronto pointed out, Avi, in
asserting that he would grant a gay couple family membership while not
giving the same right to a same-sex straight couple, implicitly conceded
my point.  An anonymous poster, whom I'll call AP, apparently a member
of the Orthodox gay community, now nonetheless asserts that these
examples are "fanciful", that I am engaged in "minutiae", and that my
doing so "merely supports an argument that the frum community is
refusing to seriously discuss the reality of frum gay men and lesbians
out of garden variety homophobia, rather than halacha."  He also wants
the frum community "to acknowledge that truly frum gay men and lesbians
exist", not assume that they are "presumptively sinning", and to stop
trying to "reprogram" them or push them into hetero marriages.

First, what AP calls my invoking "minutiae" was an attempt to get Avi to
explain his position.  It succeeded.

Second, personally, I do not presume that unmarrieds of a certain age,
even if they are same-sex roommates, are "sinning".  I am not even sure
whether, on a personal level, I care, or whether I care about their
sexual orientation beyond that, if I like them and I know they are gay,
I won't try to set them up with someone of the opposite sex. I can
understand why Orthodox gays would want to simply be let be.  I am not
into "reprogramming" and have no idea if it even works.  If "reality"
means no more than the fact that there are gay people who want to be
Orthodox; that their situation, while unfortunate, can't be helped; and
that it makes no sense to discourage them from being as observant as
they can, I think I have no problem with that.  My difficulty is when,
and if, the Orthodox community is asked to acknowledge, explicitly or
implicitly, that these relationships or activities are acceptable,
normal, an "alternative lifestyle", or anything like that.

So I have the following questions for AP - and they are for information
only; I mean to make no accusations:

(1) What do you mean by "truly frum gay and lesbians"?  Specifically, do
 they engage in homosexual acts, including those short of actual sex, or
 simply abstain?

(2) Do you - or more broadly, the Orthodox gay community--acknowledge
that if they were to so engage, they would thereby be committing aveirot
- possibly of the yehareig ve'al yaavor variety--which I'll assume they
can't help committing?

(3) What do you mean by "reality" of Orthodox gays?

(4) To paraphrase the same question I've posed to Avi and the list (and
hope to see his answer on Sunday), would you require the Orthodox
community to accord the same "acknowledgement" you wish for Orthodox
gays to Orthodox people with other deviant - in the halachic sense; I
mean to make no extra-halachic moral statement - sexual inclinations,
including those that are incestuous or heterosexual promiscuous?

[Note: I'm about a day or so behind schedule, so any response from me
will be either tonight or tomorrow. Avi]


From: <DTnLA@...> (Dov Teichman)
Date: Thu, 14 Jul 2005 10:05:49 EDT
Subject: Re: Gay/Lesbian

>> On the lesbian side, it is highly unlikely there there is any issue of
>> an issur d'orisa at all.

>True, but see what we recently learned in daf yomi (Shabbat 65a) where
>such behaviour is called lewdness by rabbanan

I think the Rambam in Hilchos Issurei Biah 21:8 argues where he says
that lesbianism falls under the prohibition of not following the ways of
the Egyptians (Lev. 18:3). Actually Rav Moshe Feinstein in Dibros Moshe
(53:35) asks on that gemorah in Shabbos 65a as to why Shmuel's father
was not concerned about this prohibition, and instead was concerned
about the lewdness of it.

>Maybe this has been the case so far ... but a recent talk I heard from
>Rabbi Steve Greenberg (an openly homosexual Orthodox rabbi) was looking
>precisely at this issue ... how to develop a halachically valid
>kiddushin for homosexual couples.

In Rav Moshe's famous teshuva to a penitent homosexual man he comes down
pretty hard on homosexuality saying that even among the gentiles it is
considered disgusting by most, how much more so for Jews. And when it
comes to Gay Marriage see Chullin 92a-b where Ulla says that of all the
mitzvos that the gentiles accepted on themselves they keep only three:
They do not write a marriage contract for homosexual relationships,
(they do not sell human flesh in the marketplaces, and they honor the
Torah (!))  Certain lines have not been crossed even by gentiles until
this generation. It's quite sad when Jews are already taking such steps.

Dov Teichman


From: <kennethgmiller@...> (Akiva Miller)
Date: Thu, 14 Jul 2005 08:43:11 -0400
Subject: Re: Heterosexual talk

Someone wrote <<< Everywhere you look, there are heterosexual messages
innundating society. >>>

Carl A. Singer responded <<< I disagree with the above. Perhaps that's
what non-heterosexuals hear -- but most heterosexual people talk about
mundane matters that simply take place in their context. >>>

That's EXACTLY the point. BOTH sides are correct, from their own point
of view.

Heterosexuals are simply talking about mundane matters, but the
homosexuals feel inundated by the messages.

It seems to me that it is natural for a majority group and minority
group to have these different viewpoints, and I would think that our
minority status as Jews would help us to be sensitive to this. For
example, what is your reaction when you hear the songs "Jingle Bells" or
"Frosty the Snowman" in December? I think most Jews feel some degree of
oppression, as it these songs are associated with a certain non-Jewish
holiday and so they remind us of our minority status. But I think that
it is genuinely difficult for most non-Jews to understand that, because
to them it is merely a mundane song about winter.

So too, when a heterosexual talks about his spouse or family, he intends
it as a mere mundane comment, but the homosexual cannot help but be
reminded that he is in the minority regarding these things.

Akiva Miller


From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Fri, 15 Jul 2005 11:55:40 -0400
Subject: Re: Orthodox Gay Community

From: Anonymous
> Date: Wed, 13 Jul 2005 13:05:05 -0400
> Subject: re: Orthodox Gay Community

> exist safely in the frum world.  That is, it would be nice to be able to
> say -- not to broadcast, not to take out an ad -- "I'm not attracted to
> members of the opposite sex, and so I cannot contemplate marrying one"

My understanding is that this is less of an issue for women, who are not
halachically obligated to marry.

> (it's really hard to develop close relationships, even of the
> non-romantic sort, when you are afraid to reveal basic things about
> yourself)

I keep certain basic things between me and my wife, and yet I do have
close relationships with other friends.  Does sex or love really have to
figure into any relationship?

> I look forward to the day when I can make a post like this on M-J
> without asking Avi to strip my name off.

You have nothing to fear from me but my thoughts.  My feeling from
reading MJ is that, for the most part, people here are exceedingly
respectful of one another and try to keep arguments on target.  I hope
that the day will come when you feel comfortable posting by name.

Ari Trachtenberg,                                      Boston University
http://people.bu.edu/trachten                    mailto:<trachten@...>


From: Matthew Pearlman <Matthew.Pearlman@...>
Date: Thu, 14 Jul 2005 11:35:43 +0100
Subject: Religiously-Observant Homosexuals

<ERSherer@...> wrote << (religiously-observant homosexuals)  >> An
oxymoron if I ever heard of one.

It is critical to distinguish between a homosexual, and someone who
carries out homosexual acts.

The former is by no means prohibited and most psychologists, including
"frum" ones agree that this is a natural aspect of a person that cannot
be changed.

Homosexuals, like most people, are tempted to do certain halachically
forbidden acts and we all strive our best not to carry these out.

If you are genuinely interested in this topic, I suggest you read R
Chaim Rapoport's recent comprehensive book on the subject.  I have to
admit that I would probably have made a similar statement to
<ERSherer@...> before I read this book.

Matthew Pearlman

From: <kennethgmiller@...> (Akiva Miller)
Date: Thu, 14 Jul 2005 08:47:30 -0400
Subject: Re: Religiously-Observant Homosexuals

Someone referred to << (religiously-observant homosexuals) >>, and
ERSherer's reaction was <<< An oxymoron if I ever heard of one. >>>

I think that these two people understand the word "homosexual" in
different ways.

The first poster uses it to refer to people who are attracted to people
of the same gender, regardless of whether or not they act on those
attactions and engage in forbidden activities. And by qualifying it with
the phrase "religiously-observant", he clearly means to refer to those
who *don't* engage in forbidden activities.

The second poster, it seems, uses the word "homosexual" to refer to
people who actually engage in those forbidden activities.

Akiva Miller


From: Carl A. Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Thu, 14 Jul 2005 06:44:05 -0400
Subject: The whole nine yards

It's interesting (to me, anyhow) that some, perhaps many, Mail Jewish
discussions seem to focus on those who consider themselves
Torah-observant Jews (lots of apparently equivalent labels exist) yet
deem some parts of Torah observance to be optional, negotiable or

If one were to proclaim that s/he is a TOJ but eats ham every Yom Kippur
we would have blisters on our talmudic thumb in dealing with this.

However, we see myriad examples in today's society of those who consider
themselves TOJ who (apparently) violate (or seek permission to violate /
validation for having violated) some prohibition (or failure to do some
positive commandment.)

What does this imply about the overriding framework / attittude towards
Torah observance?

Carl Singer


End of Volume 49 Issue 2