Volume 49 Number 28
                    Produced: Mon Aug  1  7:00:19 EDT 2005

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Frum and Gay (5)
         [David I. Cohen, Akiva Miller, Eliyahu Shiffman, Ari
Trachtenberg, Jeanette Friedman]
Linguistics ad absurdum (2)
         [Ira L. Jacobson, Martin Stern]
Polygamy (was Frum and Gay)
         [Martin Stern]
Reason for Prohibition [was: Frum and Gay]
         [Lipman Phillip Minden]


From: <bdcohen@...> (David I. Cohen)
Date: Wed, 27 Jul 2005 10:02:40 -0400
Subject: Frum and Gay

Avi Feldblum wrote in #10 (I know I'm way behind)
> I''ll continue to respond in a similar manner.  First, what evidence to
> you have that those gay / lesbian couples who self identify as "frum"
> are in violation of halacha?

If a married man lived together with a married woman (not his wife)
would we not say that it is assur (forbidden) even though there is no
direct proof that they are actually committing adultery. Isn't that the
whole point of the rules of yichud? We do not assume that they moved in
together for some benign purpose.

If two gay males move in together, don't the same halachic violation
assumptions come into play? We are not talking about 2 people in a
temporary roomate situation i.e. economic short term while they pursue
emotionasl and/or romantic relations outside of their roomate. Here, i
am assuming that the relationship of the gay people is more permanent
e.g. they jointly bought a home, or jointly adopt a child , or some
other indicia of a relationship with emotional ties. If so, then IMHO,
the relationship becomes problematic even without direct proof of an
actual physical Torah violation. If the community honors such a
relationship, it is giving an imprimatur to homosexuality, because the
yichud rules make certain halachic assumptions.

Is this tragic for those involved? Of course. But so are many
relationships that the halacha forbids.  Would you be so forgiving to an
incestuous brother and sister? I'm not sure.

David I. Cohen

From: Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Thu, 28 Jul 2005 15:18:42 GMT
Subject: Re: Frum and Gay

Bernard Raab wrote <<< Yes, it seems to be indisputable that sexual preference *IS* hardwired, just as skin-color is hardwired ... Given this fact ... 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. >>>

A flippant answer would be that it is only the attraction which is hardwired, and it is only acting on it which is forbidden. But I call that "flippant" because (although I believe it to be accurate) it is coldhearted to those who must endure life without the comforts of being physically close to the person he feels most close to emotionally.

I think it might be more productive to look for other people in similar situations, where one denied such closeness to the person who he considers to be his soulmate. For example, imagine a kohen who has been happily and warmly married for quite some time, and then his wife is raped. (I acknowledge the intense physical and emotional trauma of that, but I'm now aiming at the *halachic* ramifications.)

I don't know if some situations might allow for a heter where they can continue to live and be together, but let's imagine the case where the psak is that they cannot. My heart goes out to this couple, and I have not yet found the words which might comfort them, and so too in Mr. Raab's example.

Akiva Miller

From: Eliyahu Shiffman <sunhouse@...>
Date: Fri, 29 Jul 2005 09:13:55 +0200
Subject: Re: Frum and Gay

"Anonymous_9" writes:

> 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).

Is there anyone on this list who would have no problem with their
daughter marrying a "cured" homosexual?  (I have seen the tragic
consequences of a woman marrying a man who for religious and social
reasons chose not to admit his attraction to men when they married.
Once married, her self-esteem was slowly shattered when, instead od
admitting he was attracted only to men, he told her that he no longer
found her attractive.)

"Anonymous_9" further writes:

> 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?

And I would ask, is there any solid scientific peer-reviewed research,
published in a reputable journal, which demonstrates that homosexual
desire can be reversed through psychotherapy?

For those who think this is possible, I ask the heterosexual readership
of Mail-Jewish (presumed to be about 95% of the population):
Hypothetically speaking, do you think that if halacha required it, and
you underwent sufficient psychotherapy, you could bring yourself to
sexually desire individuals of your own sex?

Eliyahu Shiffman
Beit Shemesh, Israel 

From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Thu, 28 Jul 2005 10:48:36 -0400
Subject: Re: Frum and Gay

From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
> 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.

I don't think that the science is in any way conclusive on this
statement (take a look at
http://www.leaderu.com/orgs/narth/bioresearch.html and especially the
references cite therein).  There are, for example, cases of identical
twins (i.e. genetically identical) where one twin considers herself
homosexual and the other does not.

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

From: <FriedmanJ@...> (Jeanette Friedman)
Date: Thu, 28 Jul 2005 11:40:46 EDT
Subject: Re: Frum and Gay

      However, the Gemara calls someone who has the option to avoid a
      tempting situation and chooses to run the risk anyway, a rasha.

So why does the gemara carry on a discussion of allowing men to marry
the 3-year-old girls they violate?  Aren't they reshaim, too? Why would
they allow such a man to marry the child? How could this even be a
discussion?  Where is the menschlichkeit vis a vis the treatment of
three year old child?

There is the proper punishment for such behavior. Hamaven Yavin.

>From this discussion on homosexuality, some of us have now veered into
bestiality and esoteric discussions in an attempt to figure out how and
whether at least 10% of the Jewish people can be shunned in the frum

IN all of this we are skirting a certain reality:at the core of this
issue is that parents are concerned about the effect of gays on their
children, because of sexual issues.

No one discusses putting in cherem people who sexually abuse their own
children or their siblings. If a hetero gives the shul tons of money and
you can't really prove what is going on behind closed doors---then what?

Think about all the messages our brains receive by the time we start
acting out.

We never discussed the effects of women as sexual objects of desire in
the media, that subjects our children's brains, male AND FEMALE, into
"wanting" women, in a steady barrage of images and sound. It is
unceasing and relentless--even if you do try to separate yourself from
it, it is inescapable. And it affects our sexuality. It just does.

So what defines a rasha? Is it the designer of popular culture? Is it
the rapist of a three year old? Is it the incestuous parent? Is it all
of the above?

To me a child abuser is a rasha. Straight or gay, you put your hands on
a child in a sexual way--blood relations and parents included--you are a

If you are a mensch in all these things and in everything else in your
lives, then none of these things are issues, because you respect the
person in front of you for being one of God's creations.

When everyone puts the welfare of children first, and everyone treats
them with respect and love--without beating them or raping them or
abusing them...when the community solves that problem--then maybe we
could find the time to throw valuable members of the Jewish community
into cherem. In the meantime we need every caring and good Jew we can
find, because as a people, we are hardly fit to be considered a light
among the nations, the way things stand.

We need to get rid of our reshaim instead--whether gay, straight or bi.
Full stop.



From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Thu, 28 Jul 2005 08:10:05 +0300
Subject: Re: Linguistics ad absurdum

Leah S. Gordon <leah@...> stated:

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

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

Arabs themselves frequently speak (or spoke) of "anti-Semitism" as
synonymous with anti-Jewishness.  Before the 1947 partition, for
example, Egyptian UN Representative Haykal Pasha warned the General
Assembly that partition would bring "anti-Semitism" worse than Hitler's.
They frequently justify or obscure an anti-Jewish action by saying, "How
can I be anti-Semitic? I'm a Semite myself."  The Egyptian spokesman's
threat made it clear that the Arab world has interpreted the term
"anti-Semitism" correctly--in the only sense it has been used
historically--as a definition of anti-Jewish attitude and action. Arabs
do not, as Egypt's late President Sadat and others have occasionally
claimed, use it themselves as a term connoting both Arabs and Jews.

An eminent Arabist, Princeton University historian Prof. Bernard Lewis,
dates the invention of the term "anti-Semitism" to 1862, although "the
racial ideology that gave rise to it was already well established in the
early 19th century.  Instead of--or as well as--an unbeliever . . . the
Jew was now labeled as a member of an alien and inferior race . . . ."

According to Professor S. D. Goitein of the University of Pennsylvania,
"the word 'semitic' was coined by an l8th-century German scholar,
concerned with linguistics.... The idea of a Semitic race was invented
and cultivated in particular in order to emphasize the inalterable
otherness and alien character of the Jews living in Europe."

"The term anti-Semitism was coined in 1879 by Wilheim Marr, an
anti-Jewish spokesman in Germany, as a euphemistic substitute for
judenhass, Jew-hatred" (Dennis Prager and Joseph Telushkin "Why the
Jews?  The Reasons for Antisemitism", p. 199) .  In other words,
Jew-hater Wilheim Marr substituted "anti-Semitism" for "Jew-hatred" to
give Jew-hatred a fancy scientific sounding name, and thereby give it
legitimacy.  To a large extent he succeeded.  Therefore, all one needs
to do to avoid semantic confusion is to substitute Jew-hatred for

IRA L. JACOBSON         

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Thu, 28 Jul 2005 06:17:29 +0100
Subject: Re: Linguistics ad absurdum

on 28/7/05 4:53 am, Leah S. Gordon <leah@...> wrote:
>> Martin Stern wrote:
>> Incidentally, do homophobes fear people like themselves?
> Only inasmuch as antisemites are opposed to all Arabs and other semitic
> peoples.

And I thought that only we Yekkes had no sense of humour!

Martin Stern


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Thu, 28 Jul 2005 06:12:04 +0100
Subject: Re: Polygamy (was Frum and Gay)

on 28/7/05 4:53 am, Bernard Raab <beraab@...> wrote:
> Yes, I am aware that the Torah forbids many things which the yetzer
> hara' 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.

This is not strictly correct, polygamy was only outlawed for Ashkenazim
by the Cherem of Rabbeinu Gershom some thousand years ago and this was
only until the end of the sixth millennium, which ended some 765 years
ago. Since then it has the status of a universally accepted (by
Ashkenazim) minhag.

Sephardim never accepted it though many wrote a clause into their
ketubot in which a man agreed not to take a second wife without his
first wife's consent. Nonetheless, polygamy must have always been fairly
rare and restricted to those who could afford to maintain more than one
household.  Probably the majority of cases were where the first union
was infertile and the wife preferred her husband to take a second one
rather than accept divorce after ten years, as was the accepted

Martin Stern


From: Lipman Phillip Minden <phminden@...>
Date: Thu, 28 Jul 2005 17:16:27 +0200
Subject: Reason for Prohibition [was: Frum and Gay]

Bernard Raab wrote:
> [...]
> Yes, it seems to be indisputable that sexual preference *IS* hardwired,
> [...]
> how can the Torah forbid that which is so fundamentaly established by  
> genetics?

This question has troubled me as well, or rather has been troubling me,
as I'm not at all sure I understand it. The only logical answer I can
think of is:

- The Toure has an interest in Jewish families as the bearer of Toure
through the generations.
- Heterosexuals don't change into homosexuals (whatever homophobes claim
to exclude homosexuals from society).
- Homosexuals don't change into heterosexuals, and though opinions
diverge, I don't think the Toure wants to impose a marriage on either the
homo- or the heterosexual spouse.
- But: There is a percentage of bisexuals, and those would be lost for

If anybody has a better idea, or sources, please post them.

Lipman Phillip Minden


End of Volume 49 Issue 28