Volume 49 Number 25
                    Produced: Wed Jul 27 23:53:29 EDT 2005

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Frum and Gay (2)
         [Benschar, Tal S., Bernard Raab]
Homosexual Yichud
         [Dov Teichman]
Homosexuality and halacha (was "Orthodox Gay Community") (2)
         [Gershon Dubin, Martin Stern]
Liberation from PC language
         [Abbi Adest]
linguistics ad absurdity
         [Leah S. Gordon]
Pressure to get married
         [Carl A. Singer]


From: Benschar, Tal S. <tbenschar@...>
Date: Tue, 26 Jul 2005 09:36:51 -0400
Subject: Frum and Gay

M. Gerver wrote:

> 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.

There is no need to invent "new" halakhic categories.  The issur for all
arayos is the same -- lo sikrevu legalos erva.  Acc. to the Rambam,
there is an issur deoraysa of chibuk venishuk derek taava -- hugging and
kissing an erva in a lustful way.

It is true that certain relationships are presumed not to be lustful.
And example, given by the Rambam himself, is a father kissing his
daughter or a mother kissing her son, which is permitted not because
they are in a separate halakhic category but because there is a
presumption under normal circumstances that such kissing and hugging is
non-lustful and hence permitted.

If there are unique circumstances where there are lustful thoughts then
it would be assur.  If a father has an abnormal lustful desire for his
daughter, then indeed there would be an issur, acc. to the Rambam and
issur deoraysa.

The same applies to same-gender contact.  The halakha presumes that
normally there are no lustful thoughts, since "lo nechesdu yisroel al
kach."  But if someone does, then the issur applies.

From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
Date: Tue, 26 Jul 2005 16:21:08 -0400
Subject: Frum and Gay

In all of this discussion, we have been dancing around the real issue:
Yes, it seems to be indisputable that sexual preference *IS* hardwired,
just as skin-color is hardwired (Michael Jackson notwithstanding), and
unlike one's religiosity, bigotry, or character.

Given this fact (I believe supported by the vast majority of
contemporary scientists), how can the Torah forbid that which is so
fundamentaly established by genetics?

Yes, I am aware that the Torah forbids many things which the yetzer
harah may tempt us with, but I cannot think of one which is so
fundamental.  Remember that polygamy is a rabbinic prohibition, but not
forbidden by the Torah.

There must be some erudition that listers can bring to this subject.
BTW, I have been waiting for someone to mention the film "Trembling
Before G-d", a documentary which deals with this very subject in a very
sensitive way. If you haven't seen it, I recommend you do before
continuing this discussion. It is available on video from Blockbuster,
and I would suppose other sources as well.

b'shalom--Bernie R.


From: <DTnLA@...> (Dov Teichman)
Date: Tue, 26 Jul 2005 09:04:10 EDT
Subject: Homosexual Yichud

> 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]

In Shulchan Aruch Even Hoezer 24, this issue is mentioned. It says that
Jews are not suspected of Homosexuality and therefore 2 men may have
yichud. However, it concludes that in times/areas where people are
suspect one should be stringent about this. The commentators say that
this was only where there is a problem with this area but we are not
concerned with this.

I think it is clear that "frum" homosexuals must be concerned about
yichud, since they are admitting that they are suspect. And certainly a
self-admitted "frum" homosexual who is controlling his desires is
forbidden to be roommates with another man.

Dov Teichman


From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@...>
Date: Tue, 26 Jul 2005 19:37:31 GMT
Subject: Homosexuality and halacha (was "Orthodox Gay Community")

From: Anonymous_9

>5. Do the halachos of yichud apply equally if one or both parties are
> [same as above]

The Shulchan Aruch prohibits a Jew from allowing his animals to be in
yichud with nonJews WHERE bestiality is condoned; not where it is
condemned.  It appears to follow, then, that if homosexuality is
condoned, as it is in our society, two homosexuals should be forbidden
to be in yichud.  I believe there is also an explicit injunction against
being in yichud with a nonJews because they are suspect of
homosexuality, but I don't have chapter and verse right now.

> 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?

Despite the attitudinal preference of desiring and rejecting something
vs. being disgusted by it, we do pray every day that Hashem not lead us
into temptation.  It would follow then that any opportunity to remove
temptation should be sought.

> 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."

However, the Gemara calls someone who has the option to avoid a tempting
situation and chooses to run the risk anyway, a rasha.  So it's probably
better not to try to find practical applications of the quotes that you


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, 26 Jul 2005 14:04:18 +0100
Subject: Re: Homosexuality and halacha (was "Orthodox Gay Community")

on 26/7/05 11:29 am, Anonymous_9 wrote:
> 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.  

> 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
> wife?
> 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?)

The above questions are based on the assumption that BEING HOMOSEXUAL,
as opposed to having homosexual desires, is a halachic category. AFAIK
this is simply not the case and therefore these questions, as posed, are
halachically meaningless.

Halacha discusses much rarer conditions such as tumtum, a person whose
sex cannot be determined, and androgynos, someone with both male and
female genitalia, quite apart from the aylonit who would appear to be
female but who never reaches puberty (X-Y dysgenesis?), most of which, I
would imagine, will never be encountered by those reading this posting
other than paediatricians and other medical personnel, but only
discusses homosexual behaviour. This is surprising if it recognises the
existence of homosexuals as an intrinsically distinct group rather than
just people with certain specific desires whose actualisation is

I am not even sure if there is any word at all in classical or rabbinic
Hebrew for a homosexual as such, as opposed to the performers of a
homosexual act - roveia' and nirba' - which themselves distinguish the
roles played in its performance.

Martin Stern


From: Abbi Adest <abbi.adest@...>
Date: Tue, 26 Jul 2005 14:49:58 +0200
Subject: Re: Liberation from PC language

Martin Stern wrote:

> 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.
> Incidentally, do homophobes fear people like themselves?

Where would you like to go now that you've listed the specific acts? I
don't think your list is really news to anyone, and since the discussion
is not about frum Jews or any other kinds of people who engage in these
acts, I'm not sure what the point of your post is. We're talking about
Jews who struggle to overcome or deal as best they can with their
attraction to members of the same sex. Why is that so hard to

Abbi Adest


From: Leah S. Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Tue, 26 Jul 2005 17:01:10 -0700
Subject: linguistics ad absurdity

>Incidentally, do homophobes fear people like themselves?
>Martin Stern

Only inasmuch as antisemites are opposed to all Arabs and other semitic



From: Carl A. Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Tue, 26 Jul 2005 07:20:00 -0400
Subject: Pressure to get married

>> 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.

On a tangent re: pressuring (any) people to get married.

Exactly making my point, yentas or not -- pressuring people into
relationships is NOT appropriate.

This isn't about me but, for the record, since I didn't get married
until I was 31 years old -- I was subject to pressure.  But it was my
choice to wait until the perfect woman came along (Happy Anniversary,
Miriam) and both of us felt ready.

Perhaps the reason pressured marriages of old worked were (1) limited
expectations, (2) strong commonality of background and (3) a strong
sense of "duty"

Carl Singer


End of Volume 49 Issue 25