Volume 49 Number 21
                    Produced: Tue Jul 26  6:29:24 EDT 2005

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Leah S. Gordon]
Another "Gay" Issue
         [Martin Stern]
Frum and Gay (2)
         [Mike Gerver, Martin Stern]
Gay pride, white racists and antisemites:
         [Orrin Tilevitz]
Gays and pizza
         [Chaim  Shapiro]
Gays in Yeshiva dorms
Homosexuality and halacha (was "Orthodox Gay Community")
Pressuring Gays into Straight Marriages (2)
         [Jeanette Friedman, Freda B Birnbaum]


From: Leah S. Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Mon, 25 Jul 2005 06:03:47 -0700
Subject: Anonymity

While I recognize the unfortunate need for multiple anonymous posters on
M.J, would it be possible to assign them (or for them to assign
themselves) handles that are more memorable than Anonymous_N?  I find
myself getting confused about who said what.

It might be easy enough for each person to choose a nickname that
preserves his/her anonymity but is unique...?


[If people choose anonymous handles and include that in the submission
when they request that I post it anonymously, I'm fine with using
that. It would make it easier for me than looking back at the recent
issues to see the last _N that I assigned. Mod.]


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, 25 Jul 2005 11:47:19 +0100
Subject: Re: Another "Gay" Issue

on 25/7/05 10:37 am,  Bill Bernstein <billbernstein@...> wrote:

> I am a gay man.  At age 43 I have established enough of an income to
> afford comfortably most things I want or need.  I do not worry about
> paying my mortgage or other expenses.  My children are b'h bright and
> well-behaved with very few issues.  My wife has an excellent job that
> she likes.
> [snip]
> But assuredly I do not commit homosexual acts of sodomy or fellatio.
> Nor have I ever.
> So I object to the word "gay" being used to describe those who commit
> homosexual acts. 

Thank you Bill for your blow for liberation from politically correct
jargon.  It is about time to call a spade a spade.

This pussyfooting around, talking about unspecified 'homosexual acts',
merely obscures the issues. Sodomy is an issur de'oraita, fellatio is
probably derabbanan if one does not accept the opinion of the Zohar
lehalachah, and kissing etc is 'only' avizrayu de'arayot. If we do not
distinguish the different issurim we are not going to get anywhere.

Perhaps we should reinterpret the term 'gay abandon' as abandoning the
term 'gay' for homosexual, which can apply equally to males as females
since it is formed from the Greek 'homos' meaning 'same' and not, as
popularly thought, from the Latin 'homo' meaning a man. The latter folk
etymology involves a double error since 'homo' means man in the sense of
'human' as opposed to 'male', which is 'vir' in that language.

Incidentally, do homophobes fear people like themselves?

Martin Stern


From: <MJGerver@...> (Mike Gerver)
Date: Mon, 25 Jul 2005 17:45:09 EDT
Subject: Frum and Gay

In addition to the persuasive points made by Anonymous_6, in v49n19,
against Shalom Kohn's contention that halachic prohibitions against
kissing and hugging people of the opposite sex should also apply, for
those who are gay, to people of the same sex, it seems to me unlikely
that this can be true because of general principles of how halacha
works.  Since these activities are normally permitted to people of the
same sex, how would the halacha define the set of people to whom these
activities are prohibited? Are homosexuals (as opposed to homosexual
acts) a well-defined halachic category? How could they be? How would
they be defined in halachic terms, in such a way that any given person
is either in the category or out of it? What would the source be for
such a definition, even if you could invent one?

Perhaps an individual could take on such a prohibition as a personal
chumra, but I don't see how it can be halacha that applies to all gays.
And, for the reasons given by Anonymous_6, it doesn't seem that it would
be a good idea for someone to take it on as a personal chumra, either.

Mike Gerver
Raanana, Israel

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, 25 Jul 2005 11:50:33 +0100
Subject: Re: Frum and Gay

on 25/7/05 10:37 am, Aryeh Gielchinsky <agielchinsky@...> wrote:

> Ancient Greece can shed light onto this topic (and I thought Torah
> U'Madah was a waste of time!). Many men were actual gay or bisexual.
> Older men would become a mentor for a young boy and actually sleep
> with them!

This is the original meaning of the term Platonic love as anyone will
discover from Plato's dialogues.

Martin Stern


From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Sun, 24 Jul 2005 21:23:49 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Gay pride, white racists and antisemites:

In response to my post suggesting that white antipathy to blacks and
everyone's antipathy to Jews are, like mutual homosexual attraction and
heterosexual antipathy to homosexuals, hard-wired, Abbi Adest writes:

> Wow, this is really stunning jump in logic and assumption. How is it at
> all logical to compare gay people who are naturally attracted to the
> opposite sex, but don't act on it to white racists and anti- Semites?
> Also, do you have any studies or any kind of data to back up this
> assumption that racists and anti-Semites are "hard wired" for these
> feelings?  This is the first time I've every heard such an argument
> made.

Abbi needs to reread my post.  I was talking about feelings and said
nothing about acting on these feelings.  My point was that in all four
cases, the feelings exist, I surmise naturally, and just because they
exist is no reason to say they are good.  Perhaps HaShem created these
feelings as a nisayon, for them to be overcome before they are acted on.
And no, I have seen no studies and I am neither a psychologist nor a
biologist.  But I do not think my argument changes if these feelings are
instead attitudes instilled environmentally; in either case, I do not
think it can be disputed that many people have them other than by
conscious choice.  So HaShem created them, and again, that doesn't make
them good.  In any event, given the complex behavior for which I have
seen studies that it is hard-wired--religion, for example; the
extraordinarily complex behavior in nonhuman species that, I am told, is
hardwired--for example, Abbi might want to see the video, "Pale Male";
and the prevalence of these feelings geographically and across millenia,
I thought the assertion was justifiable, if unprovable.


From: <Dagoobster@...> (Chaim  Shapiro)
Date: Mon, 25 Jul 2005 09:50:18 EDT
Subject: Gays and pizza

Leah Gordon speaks of fact that she is "appalled that we have such
bigotry in our midst" in the way some posters have referred to gays.
Her example was my story about hetreosexism and pizza at a campus event.
I find to hard to think anyone would object to my story.  My point was
that it is ridiculous to chastise people (and refer to them using a term
that denotes a racist or sexist attitude) for presuming the overwhelming
majority IS the overwhelming majority.  It is wrong to assert that those
who presume the person they are speaking to is straight, as are 99% of
the people they speak to, is anti gay, as the workshop I attended
assumed.  I simply pointed out that the lesbian director of the program
made similar presumptions on a regular basis!

Chaim  Shapiro


From: Anonymous_8
Date: Mon, 25 Jul 2005 09:55:24
Subject: Gays in Yeshiva dorms

As far as I know, most kids who are discovered as gay (either through
discussion with their Rebbeim, or by their behavior) while in a Yeshiva
setting are expelled immediately.  Is this the best way to handle that
issue?  What else, if anything could be done?



From: Anonymous_9
Date: Mon, 25 Jul 2005 12:35:56 
Subject: Re: Homosexuality and halacha (was "Orthodox Gay Community")

I have mixed emotions reading this thread on homosexuality. One the one
hand, it's good to see the issue being discussed semi-openly and
frankly.  On the other hand, having been raised in a classically liberal
and tolerant secular family (yes, I'm doing teshuva), I'm a little
confounded by the amount of prejudicial misinformation and (evidently)
fear in people's heads about homosexuality.

For someone who does not have emotional scars or hangups about other
people's thoughts or potential private aveiros (yes, I know they affect
me but I'm too busy worrying about my own aveiros right now), this
thread has become tedious. (One is reminded of the comedian who quipped,
"I'm a lesbian trapped in a man's body!" Where do the "what ifs"
end?). In all fairness, some of the posts have been strictly halachic
and sensible. But can we move on?

Listen, you frum Yidden who have homosexual urges: No one's out to get
you, we love you, we need your mitzvos. Maybe in conquering your toeva
you can even teach us straight men something about how to use the
internet safely (Why isn't anyone up-in-arms about that issue?) Come to
my shul, eat at my home, learn lots of Torah, do many mitzvos, and get a
little therapy. (If you want to marry my son or daughter, so get a
little more therapy.) But you know what, you're not as different as you
think.  We've all got unfulfilled physical desires. Some of us even have
unfulfillable emotional desires. As R. Twersky tells addicts, we are all
prone to addictive behavior, you just have an extreme case in one
direction. Get over it. And come for Shabbos.

And as for you, Jews who have subconscious fears or mistrust of someone
who tells you he or she has these urges: No one's out to God-forbid
corrupt or molest your children or make a chas-vshalom hilul-Hashem;
yes, there are gays posing as Orthodox Jews who would like to do so, but
that's not who we're talking to here. So un-circle your wagons just a
wee-bit so these ehrliche Yidden can squeeze in and enjoy membership in
the community. (By the way, if someone tells you that so-and-so is gay,
just shrug your shoulders and say "so what?" Better yet, plug your ears
so you don't violate the issur d'Oraisa of lashon hara. If someone tells
you, "I'm gay," sympathize with the poor guy and say, "that must have
been hard for you to tell me. How can I help?") And yes, you too (I'm
talking to the heterosexual guy now) can still come to my shul even if
you did have improper lashon-haradika thoughts, and eat at my home too;
please learn lots of Torah, do many mitzvos, and get a little therapy
(and a little extra if you want to marry into the family).

Now can we move on... ?

If you think about it, homosexual desires actually create interesting
halachic questions to discuss. Some of them have been suggested in one
or two recent posts. I did a search of the MJ archives and found lots of
political and social comments but not much on the halachas, such as:

1. Is a homosexually-oriented man or woman ALLOWED to marry?
2. If the answer is no, then if a married man wakes up one day and admits
to himself that he's really homosexual, is he required to divorce his
3. Is a homosexual man allowed to swim among women? Hear a woman sing?
4. Is a homosexual man allowed to swim among men? May a homosexual woman
swim with women?
5. Do the halachos of yichud apply equally if one or both parties are
homosexuals (eg, are two homosexual Jewish men allowed to be in yichud
together?) [by the way, if the answer to this is no, it would present a
fabulous argument in favor of open and caring attitudes towards
homosexuality so that we can help every Jew do mitzvos and avoid aveiros]
6. Does the principle (sourced below), that it's better to desire
something treif and avoid it because it's a mitzva than not to desire it,
apply to homosexuality - i.e., the homosexual Jew who lives halachicly at
a higher madrega (spiritual level) than those of us who have no such
7. If someone has a desire for something not kosher that is preventing
him from fulfilling one or more mitzvos, and that desire might possibly
be reversed with psychotherapy, is he obligated to seek the therapy? What
if the desire is not preventing him from doing mitzvos, but through
conquering it on a daily basis, he is on a higher spiritual level, is he
then ALLOWED to seek such therapy?

Tanya: R. Elezer ben Azarya says, "From whence do we know that a person
should not say, 'I don't want to eat pork' or 'I don't want to have
forbidden sexual relations'...rather he should say, 'I desire but what
can I do, as my Father in heaven forbade this?' - the Torah says, I WILL

See also BT Makos 23b: "One who sits and avoids a particular aveira
[that is tempting him] earns the reward of having done a mitzva."

(Rashi and Torah Temima on Lev 20:26)

Kol tuv,


From: <FriedmanJ@...> (Jeanette Friedman)
Date: Mon, 25 Jul 2005 07:59:49 EDT
Subject: Re: Pressuring Gays into Straight Marriages

> This was touched on in a few posts.  How does the list feel about
> pressuring frum gays into hetero relationships for any reason?

as a hetero woman whose first husband was masquerading as straight, all
I can say is that stinks and is stupid and cost me more than I care to
think about.

From: Freda B Birnbaum <fbb6@...>
Date: Mon, 25 Jul 2005 09:38:15 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: re: Pressuring Gays into Straight Marriages

>> This was touched on in a few posts.  How does the list feel about 
>> pressuring frum gays into hetero relationships for any reason?
> Why would anyone think that pressuring anyone into any kind of 
> relationship is appropriate?  Or for that matter will be successful 
> (whatever that means) in the long run.

Obviously you have never been besieged by yentas saying "Don't be so
picky."  In my mother's day (1930s-40s) the word was, the guy had
functioning male plumbing and a job, so they got married.  I hope those
days are gone.

BTW, my mother told me that once someone said to her mother, so, why
don't you fix her up with so-and-so, after all, it's just as easy to
fall in love with a rich guy as with a poor guy, and my grandma, after
whom I am named, said, yeah, and if the rich guy loses his money, there
you are married to a poor guy you don't even like.

Freda Birnbaum, <fbb6@...>
"Call on God, but row away from the rocks"


End of Volume 49 Issue 21