Volume 49 Number 15
                    Produced: Fri Jul 22  6:43:59 EDT 2005

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Artichoke and Maror
Cell Phones and Driving
Emphatic but polite and intelligent
         [Freda B Birnbaum]
Frum and Gay (3)
         [Avi Feldblum, Ari Trachtenberg, Abbi Adest]
Gay Issues
         [Harry Weiss]
         [Andy Goldfinger]
Shelter vs. Expose


From: <auntiefifi@...>
Date: Wed, 20 Jul 2005 09:59:50 -0400
Subject: Artichoke and Maror

Does the artichoke representation for maror have anything to do with the
artichoke being a thistle?  Edible thistle bases are known for being


From: <ERSherer@...>
Date: Thu, 21 Jul 2005 22:25:58 EDT
Subject: Re: Cell Phones and Driving

> those drivers who have a so-called new "hands free" phone in any case
> wind up holding the microphone bit up closer to their mouth as it
> usually dangles too low.  So they still use their other hand.

    Anyone who drives while holding a cellphone puts himself and any one
else on the road in great danger. If my cell phone, which may be lying
on the seat beside me, rings while I am driving, I pull over to the side
of the road and come to a stop before I answer the call. It goes without
saying that I do the same if I want to make a call.


From: Freda B Birnbaum <fbb6@...>
Date: Thu, 21 Jul 2005 13:02:11 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Emphatic but polite and intelligent

I just want to comment on how impressed I have been with the last few
Mail-Jewishes on gay issues.  The way the stuff gets discussed here as
distinct from some other lists that I am on (I don't mean Sicha, I'm
prepared for the emotionality that often goes on over there) is so
impressive.  The fact that the list is moderated really makes people
tone it down, while still emphatically stating their views.  M-J is one
of the few places I see different angles of this being discussed


Freda Birnbaum


From: Avi Feldblum <avi@...>
Date: Fri, 22 Jul 2005 06:28:18 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Frum and Gay

I am coming rapidly to the end of my vacation, and need to start packing
soon, so I do not know how much more I will get a chance to respond to
additional posts. I'll try and clarify some of my thoughts relative to
what I see some people writing.

The first is related to the question of offering family memberships to
gay couples relative to offering the same to other non-gay non sexually
involved households with the example given of two or more housemates
living together. A lot seems to made of the fact that I said that I did
not think that one should give a family membership to such a situation.
Some other poster asked about how I distinguish proposing to offer it to
a gay family and not to two hetero people living together as a couple
but not married. Yet another poster asked how to distinguish that from a
incest based family unit.

Let me try and respond to this before going to the more general question
that had been asked, that I was responding to initially. In the
housemates case, most often that I am aware of, the arrangement is
basically temporary and related most often to the affordability of the
housing.  There is no desire on the part of such people that I have met
that they are making a long term commitment to each other and that they
desire to be viewed by the community as a social unit. If one person is
invited to a wedding, there is no presumption that the other housemates
should be invited as well, just because they share the rent on the
physical dwelling. I'm not sure how to see the situation, but on a
theoretical level, if one were to have a non-gay same sex set of two
individuals that decided to create a complete long term social
partnership, then I probably would be fine with offering them a family
membership, I just really do not see the situation as being very real.

To address the second two cases that have been brought up. First the
case of two hetero individuals of the opposite sex living together. What
reason is there for the shul to offer such a couple a family membership?
If they are claiming they want to be a family unit, we have a clear
process within halacha for them to become a family. It's called
marriage, i.e. Kedushin and Chupa. What viable halachic reason can you
give for such people who have the option of going through with marriage
and choosing not to? I fail to see why you would think that any frum
institution should recognize in any way such a couple as a family.

As for the case of incest and some other cases I have chosen not to
forward to the list, I think they are totally non-starters and not an
intellectually honest attempt to deal with the real issues at hand. I
feel no real interest in even trying to respond to those questions. I
also think that anyone trying to honestly deal with these questions who
sees no difference between a frum gay individual and someone they
describe as "hard-wired for kleptomania or white folks hard-wired to
hate, fear or despise black folks" is so far out of my framework that I
do not see how to continue the conversation here.

The family membership issue, however, just a small piece of the overall
issue. The fundimental issue I see is that of how we treat people who
are committed to Torah and Mitzvot who are different than the "rest of
us".  The way we treat the frum gay / lesbian individuals is, in my
mind, just an extension as the way many parts of the "frum" community
treats other "frum" people who are different from them, often is fairly
minor ways.  What I am observing is a large increase in intolerance for
any deviations from the "Torah True Derech". I think that is a very
unhealthy pattern in the "frum" community that I see, and it continues
to drive away from Torah and Mitzvot many people who we could instead
keep committed. I see this in the way many communities deal with the
at-risk / marginalized teens, especially in the Chareidi community.

I think I have had more than my usual say on anything, so I suspect that
there is little more that I will contribute, and I will be going back to
me usual editing and moderating role, and less in an active contributing

Avi Feldblum

From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Thu, 21 Jul 2005 12:24:38 -0400
Subject: Re: Frum and Gay

From: Binyomin Segal <bsegal@...>
> silly. Certainly in the Jewish community it is hard to believe that
> anyone would make this choice - especially if they are committed to
> being frum. That is, even if you believe that there are some people out
> there for whom this is a choice, it is plain ridiculous to believe that
> a frum person, living as a frum person, would make this choice.

I have heard this type of argument quite a lot ... namely, given the
stigmas and difficulties of being gay, why would anyone voluntarily
choose it?  Though I do not know the answer about gays in general, it is
certainly the case the people are complicated beings and often make
choices for irrational reasons.

[Lehavdil - i.e. I'm not drawing a direct analogy] Why do people commit
murder?  Is it not a ridiculous thing to do given the amount of time you
need to spend in jail and the high probability of being caught?
Alternatively, we as Jews often do things that seem to directly
contradict our own self-interests (consider the withdrawal from Gush
Katif) for complicated and sometimes self-convincing reasons.  Why
couldn't the same be the case for someone who decides he/she is gay?

[As an anecdotal point, I have had both cases of friends who were
married with several kids and then "realized" that they were gay and
friends who had publicly proclaimed they were gay and then
"accidentally" had relations with someone of the opposite sex.]

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

From: Abbi Adest <abbi.adest@...>
Date: Thu, 21 Jul 2005 20:01:37 +0300
Subject: Re: Frum and Gay

Re: Shlomo Spiro's response to Gay memberships:

> One would ask an average member, if that is your child, would you want
> to expose him to this kind of condition?  It's nice to be nice, but
> when there is a high price to pay being nice may be too costly.

I think the poster following you answered this quite succincntly: 

> For me, this is what divides a frum person from one who is not--it is
> a person who is striving to live within the halacha and understands
> that there ar e activities that the halacha does not sanction, and
> that in fact are aveirot if performed

Personally, I would be honored for my children to have these kinds of
Jews as role models- for me, the essence of following halacha is
struggling to carry ol malchut shamayim. I can't think of a better

Abbi Adest


From: Harry Weiss <hjweiss@...>
Date: Thu, 21 Jul 2005 18:42:34 -0700
Subject: Re: Gay Issues

There is one other question that needs to be asked that seems to be
missing.  (It may have been here and I just missed it.)  How does the
community treat a hetero couple that are unmarried but living together.
Are they treated as a family?.  Wouldn't similar assumptions be made
about such a couple as about a gay couple.


From: Andy Goldfinger <Andy.Goldfinger@...>
Date: Wed, 20 Jul 2005 10:50:31 -0400
Subject: Moderation

Notice what the chart says about Jews and moderation:



From: Anonymous_5
Date: Thu, 21 Jul 2005 12:51:11
Subject: RE: Shelter vs. Expose

I have followed the thread on Frum/Gay with interest.  This issue is a
difficult one and there are good arguments on both (all?) sides of the
issue.  What prompted me to respond (as opposed to just observing) was a
post by Shlomo Spiro in 49:12 about "pedagogical effects".  Rather than
post specifically on the Frum/Gay topic, I will post on the general
"shelter" vs.  "expose" debate implicit in Shlomo's post.  (I feel that
Frum/Gay is one of several current "hot" issues in which various
communities exhibit the same range of reactions to varying degrees.)

As a parent, I have always had a choice to either shelter my children
from the world at large or to educate them about others who live their
lives differently from us.  Since I self-identify as "Modern Orthodox"
and college is definitely in the future for my children, I feel that
sheltering them at an early age *could* backfire once they are off at
college and no longer under their parents' watchful eyes.  I admit that
this is also dependent on the individual childs' personality and
inclination, so my argument may not make sense for everyone.

But for *me*, knowing my childrens' personalities and inclinations, I
would much rather "expose" them to ideas different than my own (at an
appropriate age, of course) and discuss those ideas with them, than
burying my head under the sand and pretending the ideas don't exist.
They will be "exposed" to lots of ideas later on in life, and need to
learn at an early age how to think for themselves about these ideas from
an observant Jew's perspective (Torah and Halakha have answers to even
the most difficult situations).

Just to be clear, I would not go purposely out of my way to "expose"
them to those ideas, but if something comes up during the ordinary
course of things, and they ask about it (in which case, it's pretty
clear it's an appropriate time to discuss it), I feel that they are
entitled to an age-appropriate answer.

Finally, I want to remind Shlomo that, as a parent, he has more
influence on his children than anyone else.  He should have more
confidence in his own ability to "model" appropriate behavior for his


End of Volume 49 Issue 15