Volume 49 Number 32
                    Produced: Wed Aug  3  5:42:27 EDT 2005

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Frum and Gay (4)
         [Gershon Dubin, Rise Goldstein, Tom Buchler, Martin Stern]
Marrying Gay? No!
         [Menashe Elyashiv]
Polygamy (was Frum and Gay)
Secular ethics v. Judaism
         [Orrin Tilevitz]
What is family - synagogue definitions
         [Carl A. Singer]


From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@...>
Date: Mon, 1 Aug 2005 19:58:39 GMT
Subject: Frum and Gay

From: <FriedmanJ@...> (Jeanette Friedman)

      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?

It isn't the Gemara, it's the Torah that requires the marriage.  We can
do sociological speculation on the marriage prospects and future of a
rape victim in ancient society or we can realize that the woman (if
above bas mitzva) or the father (if younger) can refuse the marriage.
It's meant as a punishment/deterrent for the rapist, not for the victim.

Of course he's a rasha.  What does this have to do with the topic at
hand?  Bottom line is still as I wrote and you quoted, people are
obligated to avoid temptation.  If a person has a homosexual attraction
then he is required to avoid yichud that may ultimately lead to serious
offenses.  There's nothing to argue about here and sticking in the rape
question is a red herring.

> 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 community

Homosexual acts or bestiality, the principle is the same.  And whence
this figure of 10% of the Jewish community. I would venture to say it's
not even half that.  Do you have any proof?

> No one discusses putting in cherem people who sexually abuse their own
> children or their siblings>>

Of course they do.  But abusing children or siblings has not yet become
accepted by society as an alternative lifestyle and there is no danger,
your "no one discusses" notwithstanding, of it becoming so.  As distinct
from homosexual acts, which are "acceptable" in society at large.


From: Rise Goldstein <rbgoldstein@...>
Date: Tue, 2 Aug 2005 06:35:02 -0700
Subject: RE: Frum and Gay

Orrin Tilevitz wrote:

> > Given this fact (I believe supported by the vast majority of
> > contemporary scientists), how can the Torah forbid that which is so
> > fundamentally established by genetics?
> As I pointed out in an earlier post, this is a non sequitur: because I
> inherited it from my parents, it must be OK?  All sorts of criminality
> also runs in families;

I respectfully submit that *this* is a nonsequitur.  It is by no means
clear that "all sorts of criminality" run in families, nor that
"familiality" equals "genetic determination."  Having conducted and
published a number of peer-reviewed, scientific studies of antisocial
behavior (e-mail me privately if you want reprints or a bibliography),
I'm quite familiar with the literature on this topic.  The evidence from
studies of adoptees is fairly clear that there is some genetic basis for
property crime committed in adulthood, though the degree to which it is
genetically determined is very far from complete (much less than the
evidence for sexual orientation, as it stands to date, would suggest,
for example).  There is also strongly suggestive evidence for a
gene-environment *interaction* with respect to violent crimes against
persons: that is, a genetic background that confers risk for violence
and that is expressed only in the context of certain adoptive/rearing
environments, but not others.  Juvenile delinquency, to the extent that
it is familial, reflects both pre- (e.g., exposure to tobacco in utero)
and postnatal rearing environment far, far more than genetic factors.

Ari Trachtenberg wrote:

>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.

There are few genetic conditions, even those transmitted by single genes
in Mendelian fashion, in which *both* members of *all* known monozygotic
("identical") twin pairs expressed the condition.  The evidence is
increasingly clear that there is a strong genetic component to sexual
orientation (once again, bibliography provided by private e-mail upon
request).  Thus, it is not at all surprising that there are monozygotic
twin pairs discordant for sexual orientation (i.e., one claiming to be
gay and one claiming to be straight), which will almost certainly prove
to be determined by *multiple* genetic influences, and probably a number
of nongenetic, but biological and/or biochemical, influences, such as
the levels of hormones and other such factors to which the fetus is
exposed in utero, as well.  Again, I can provide a bibliography upon
request through private e-mail.

Rise Goldstein (<rbgoldstein@...>)
Silver Spring, MD

From: Tom Buchler <tbuchler@...>
Date: Mon, 01 Aug 2005 14:26:35 -0400
Subject: Re: Frum and Gay

I'm new to this community and have been lurking for a short while, but
felt the need to jump in to this thread with some observations.

>From: Anonymous_9
>Listen, you frum Yidden who have homosexual urges: No one's out to get
>you, we love you, we need your mitzvos. 
>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,

First, I'd like to applaud Anonymous_9 for taking a bold stand for
showing and encouraging chesed towards all our brethren, and for
condemning lashon hara.

I hope that, without taking away any kavod from this poster, I am also
able to point out the irony that the poster can say, "No one's out to
get you..." and at the same time feel the need to remain anonymous. If
the poster has reason to be concerned regarding merely publically
calling for chesed towards a certain community -- which shouldn't need
to be stated in the first place since it is Torah law -- how much more
concerned should the actually members of that community be?

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, 02 Aug 2005 12:24:18 +0100
Subject: Re: Frum and Gay

on 2/8/05 10:42 am, Janice Gelb <j_gelb@...> wrote:

> Martin Stern <md.stern@...> wrote:
>> 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...

>> 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.
> I don't follow this distinction at all. It seems to say that there is a
> difference between someone who has homosexual desires and someone called
> a homosexual.  What distinction are you making between these two
> categories? What would you call someone who has homosexual urges if not
> a homosexual?

Janice seems to define a homosexual as "someone who has homosexual urges".
I would imagine she would not define a murderer as "someone who has
homicidal urges". Halachah does recognise the category of murderer as
someone who commits murder not someone who merely wishes to do so. Similarly
halachah only recognises the performers of acts of sodomy, yet distinguishes
a roveia' from a nirba', according to their role therein, but both of whom
are equally liable if they do it with full consent. If there were a halachic
category of homosexual, why bother with this distinction since presumably
both have "homosexual urges"?

Martin Stern


From: Menashe Elyashiv <elyashm@...>
Date: Tue, 2 Aug 2005 08:57:41 +0300 (IDT)
Subject: Marrying Gay? No!

I know of three cases of homosexuals being married, and the tragedies that

1] We had a babysitter for our "wild indians", she was divorced, and
left her home in Jerusalem. She was (& is)very non attractive, but, a
very fine person. What was her story? Because of her looks, she was set
up (!) with a man from the same Hasidut, with a small problem. She knew
nothing, but both sets of parents knew the problem. One day she came
home early, and found her husband not in the Kollel, but rather with a
male....This was 20 years ago, and to this day she is unmarried

2] No one knew of his problem, but after many years there were rumours
to kept the girls away from Mr. X. Later it turned out that the problem
was not girls, but boys! After being caught, he fled to the USA, living
his wife with 10 (!)children.

3]S. Brizal wrote a book - Shitikat Haharadim - about his life, and
about his father, who he claims was a boy molester. (bar ilan book
cataloge #433864). His father made the mother's life miserable, but was
able to continue because every body covered up and kept quiet.


From: <meirman@...> (Meir)
Date: Tue, 02 Aug 2005 02:31:39 -0400
Subject: Re: Polygamy (was Frum and Gay)

At 07:00 AM 8/1/05, Avi Feldblum wrote:
>From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
> > 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

So for Ashkenazim it is a rabbinic prohibition, no?

>only until the end of the sixth millennium, which ended some 765 years

I think the fifth millenium ended then.

I had heard that the cherem was for 1000 years and ended just  4 or 8 
years ago.

<meirman@...>  Baltimore, MD, USA


From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Sat, 30 Jul 2005 19:40:12 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Secular ethics v. Judaism

In the discussion of homosexuality, I and others have cautioned against
imposing current secular sensibilities on halacha.  Randy Cohen's "The
Ethicist" column in the 7/31 NY Times Magazine section graphically
illustrates the yawning chasm between the two.  A debiliating disease
has for 10 years prevented a happily married couple from making love.
The wife bumps into an ex-lover, himself married, and they begin a
sexual relationship.  The question: her devout Catholicm forbids the
affair, but does secular ethics?  Cohen's response: "If your sex life
with your husband has indeed ended, you may honorably consider other
alternatives."  The only questions seem to be how to do so without
hurting the husband and whether they should discuss it.  As to her
Catholocism, "Few practitioners of any faith adhere to each of its
dictates."  The Jewish answer is, I think, obvious.  My only question is
whether, if the questioner were instead the husband and the ex-lover
were unmarried, Judaism would countenance this behavior post-Rabbeinu

Orrin Tilevitz


From: Carl A. Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Tue, 02 Aug 2005 06:49:14 -0400
Subject: What is family - synagogue definitions

> Why should the synagogue be out of the business of deciding what a
> family is.  

This reminds me of the story of the little boy who asked his mother
where he came from -- after a long biological explanation, the boy
re-asked the question -- "Did I come from Philadelphia or New York?"

The synagogue official defining "family" is often the treasurer or
financial secretary and this has to do with dues and postage (do we send
them one monthly newsletter or two.)  Nothing to do with halacha.

If, for example, this official accepts a dues check from John Doe & Jane
Smith for "family membership" he or she isn't acting as a defacto
mesader kedushin.  John & Jane's marital status (or lack) isn't impacted
at all.  It's just a bookkeeping convenience.  The same likely applies
for John Doe & Harry Smith.

Let's address the pertinent halachik questions.

Before discussing a homosexual union, let's simply look at our John Doe
& Jane Smith.  Two people who's marital status we don't know.  Perhaps
they have an halachik marriage, perhaps a civil marriage, perhaps they
have a relationship of some type or perhaps they're just sharing rent.

I can think of no religious activities within a synagogue context that
"LINK" husband to wife.

In some congregations the husband benches gomel on behalf of his wife
when the need arises.  But even here, anyone else could (I believe --
not paskening) bench gomel on behalf of another person should the
circumstances warrant.  So if Jane has just returned from overseas
travel John's benching gomel on her behalf conveys no marital status.

In naming a baby the father (usually) participates, but anyone could
make a mishebayrach for the isha hayoledets (the woman who recently gave
birth.)  So if John is given an aliyah and names a baby and is allowed
to make a mishebayrach for Jane, the gabbaim haven't recognized a
marital union.

There may be some issues of a Neder that a wife makes that the husband
can nullify.  But I don't see that in a synagogue context.

But, again, whether or not a synagogue recognizes a union between two
people, hence a "family", is for the most part administrative.  That is
not to say that there aren't social issues.

Extending this briefly to discussion of two people of the same gender
living together doesn't get us much further.  We're back to the basics
of what is halachically acceptable individual behavior.

Carl Singer


End of Volume 49 Issue 32