Volume 49 Number 36
                    Produced: Thu Aug  4  6:35:51 EDT 2005

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Exemption of annus
         [Matthew Pearlman]
Frum and Gay
Gay vs Child Molestors
         [Chaim Shapiro]
Homosexuality and Genetics
         [Orrin Tilevitz]
         [Dov Teichman]
Making a distinction between gay men and lesbians
         [Lisa Liel]
Marriage of a rape victim
         [Bernard Raab]


From: Matthew Pearlman <Matthew.Pearlman@...>
Date: Wed, 3 Aug 2005 12:26:08 +0100
Subject: Exemption of annus

Orrin Tilevitz made an interesting point "But the status of an annus
only makes him exempt from punishment; it does not mean he is not

I happened to be reading the newly published teshuvot of Rav
Soloveitchik where on p38 he notes that this is a source of major
dispute between the Rishonim.  The Rambam holds as Orrin has stated; but
R Zerachya HaLevi (the Baal HaMeor) and several other Rishonim hold that
annus completely nullifies the act, so that he is not sinning.

Unfortunately no references are made to where these statements are to be

Matthew Pearlman 


From: Becky
Date: Wed, 3 Aug 2005 07:49:53
Subject: Frum and Gay

[You can call me Becky, since people seem to want to name the anonymous

This will, bli neder, be my last post on this subject, because, to be
honest, at this point in my life my frumkeit depends greatly on not
discussing these issues with people who are incapable of getting beyond
the comparison of homosexuality with incest or bestiality or eating ham

For the sake of argument -- not because I am conceding this point
theoretically or practically, but merely for the sake of argument -- LET
US SAY that homosexual urges are no different to an urge for incest or
bestiality or eating ham sandwiches.  Okay?  As another poster
suggested, wipe the satisfied grin off your face.

Now, someone with an urge for incest or bestiality or eating ham
assistance to avoid acting on that urge, or can structure their life so
that they are never in a position to act on that urge, AND STILL LIVE A
FULL AND PRODUCTIVE LIFE as a human being within the frum
community. They may think longingly of the family pet or their cousin or
the treif deli down the street, but that doesn't stop them from marrying
and having kids and conducting life.

Someone who is not sexually attracted to members of the opposite sex but
who is attracted to members of the same sex is in an entirely different
position.  I think you will agree that "partnering" with another human
being is a hardwired human need -- the Torah seems to think so.  I think
you will agree that human contact is essential for healthy human
existence.  So basically, what some members of this list have concluded
is that frum gay people are not only forbidden to do the acts that are
assur d'Oreisa (biblically forbidden) and assur d'Rabbanan (rabbinically
prohitibited), but also must eschew all same sex contact.  Obviously,
because opposite sex contact doesn't have a "but not if you're not
sexually attracted to the opposite sex" escape clause, that kind of
contact is also forbidden.

Do you now see the very fundamental difference between having homosexual
desire and desiring any other halachically forbidden activity?

This is NOT a situation where someone can simply suppress an urge
*completely* (ie, avoiding both the actual acts and other unforbidden
acts that might lead to them) and continue to function, because that
suppression cuts the person off from a basic human need.  It would be
like telling someone with an urge to eat ham sandwiches that he must
stop eating altogether to avoid putting himself in a situation where he
might eat a ham sandwich.

And for those of you who are sitting now and thinking, "Well, it's
rough, but that's life," I very much hope that none of your children --
or their spouses -- are ever faced with this rough road.

My point -- and there is one -- is that no one really wants to debate
the halachic minutiae of homosexual relations.  Believe it or not, frum
gay people do ask shailos.  A list like this is not an appropriate place
for people for whom this is not an issue to theorize or speculate on
whether or not I am allowed to hug another woman.

Here's reality.  There are gay people who are frum.  In past
generations, many of these people committed suicide, or left the derech.
Today, many do the same.  Some of us would like not to have to choose
one of those options.  But be aware that having the attitude that the
only way to be frum and gay is to enclose yourself in a bubble,
depriving yourself of even the hope of eventually finding someone to
build a life with (while not doing any of the forbidden sexual acts), is
essentially closing off the option of remaining frum.  If you want to
deal with the practical issue of how the community deals with gay
people, if you want to prevent gay people from seeking out heterosexual
marriages in which to hide, you have to come to terms with this reality,
which has to begin with a recognition that on the most fundamental of
levels THIS IS NOT the same issue as any other forbidden desire.

I don't think I'm a mistake, as someone posted.  I think I'm a tzelem
Elokim, just like the rest of you.  But you know, some of you are
starting to make me wonder why I have worked so hard and so long.


From: <Dagoobster@...> (Chaim Shapiro)
Date: Wed, 3 Aug 2005 09:34:45 EDT
Subject: Gay vs Child Molestors

  In two of the examples Menashe Elyashiv gives of tragic marriages to
purportedly gay men, the male was a child molester.  Current thought is
that child molesters are not by definition gay, at least in the typical
sense of the word.  While some gays CAN abstain from homosexual sex,
almost no child molesters can or do abstain from molesting kids.  Any
other thoughts?

Chaim Shapiro


From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Wed, 3 Aug 2005 08:31:10 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Homosexuality and Genetics

In response to Bernie Raab's statement:

> Given this fact [that sexual "orientation" is hard-wired] (I believe
> supported by the vast majority of contemporary scientists), how can
> the Torah forbid that which is so fundamentally established by
> genetics?

Rise Goldstein quoted me as saying:

> 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;

Rise then states:

> I respectfully submit that *this* is a nonsequitur> and proceeds to
> show that the genetic basis of sexual "orientation" is much more
> strongly proved than that for criminality.

Rise took my statement out of context, and as a result her post is
beside the point.  Following the final semicolon she quotes, I actually
asked <if scientists were to discover a genetic basis for this
[criminality]-at one time there was speculation about an extra
chromosome-would it now be mutar?>

Thus, I made no claim that criminality has any genetic component - that
criminality very obviously runs in families could in theory be for any
number of reasons, genetic or otherwise-- and for that matter have no
idea whether sexual orientation does either.  My point was only that if
the Torah somehow okays homosexuality IF it is "genetic", then the Torah
must also OK criminality IF it is genetic.  Since I think nobody would
make the latter claim, the reasoning is faulty.

Incidentally, I was the first to use the term "hard-wired" in this
discussion, see MJ 49:13, and what I meant was only "the result of how
their brain works".  It ought not matter for purposes of this discussion
whether this "hard-wiring" is inherited genetic, the result of a
mutation, epigenetic (see
environmental, or even the result of an earlier conscious choice, now
ingrained; there is a neurological basis for the gemara's conclusion
that if one does something forbidden often enough, "naasa lo k'heter".
The only point is that, because of the way their brain works, at least
some people can't help having homosexual interests or having no
heterosexual interests.


From: <DTnLA@...> (Dov Teichman)
Date: Wed, 3 Aug 2005 09:02:47 EDT
Subject: Re: Homosexuality/Yichud

      But this is not a new problem.  People must have been born with
      homosexual inclinations in the days of the Gra (the Vilna Gaon).
      What were _their_ lives like, and how did _they_ cope?  What about
      among Jews a hundred years ago?

      Many people seem to be treating homosexuality as some new kind of
      emergency, but the problem is hardly new.  Why is it _now_ such an
      issue, where it wasn't earlier?

Its definitely not a new problem. But the depravity of the secular world
definitely has had a unfortunate influence on the frum community. The
Nitei Gavriel talks about it a little in chapter 48 of his volume on
Hilchos Yichud. He says that in our generation it is proper to try to
avoid yichud (2 males) in a mikvah/bathhouse or pool. He writes that his
father was instructed by the previous Pupa Rebbe that when they built
the bathrooms in the Pupa Yeshiva the bathroom stalls should not have
full doors, and the previous Belzer Rebbe (R Aharon) instructed the same
for the Belzer Yeshiva Dormitory in Jerusalem. Another thing they
instructed was that in dormitory rooms, 2 boys should not be roommates;
either one or three to a room. He says parents and teachers need to have
an eye open for this kind of thing. He writes, "Kvod Elokim Hasteir
Davar" (It is the glory of God to conceal things.)

Dov Teichman


From: Lisa Liel <lisa@...>
Date: Wed, 3 Aug 2005 11:52:42 -0400
Subject: Making a distinction between gay men and lesbians

One of the things I've noticed happening in the discussions on
homosexuality here is a blurring -- and in some cases the complete
overlooking -- of the distinction between homosexual men and homosexual

The very concept of "homosexuality" as a category into which both gay
men and lesbians fit is foreign to Judaism.  It is a secular concept
without any parallel in Judaism.

I'll refer to MZ (mishkav zachor) and NM (nashim ha-mesollelot), because
these are the only acts which are mentioned specifically in Torah

MZ is d'Orayta according to everyone.
NM is a weak d'Orayta (a lav she'bichalut) according to some
authorities, and is d'Rabbanan according to others.

In either case, the act is forbidden.

MZ is one of the arayot.
NM is *not* one of the arayot.

MZ has kirva extensions.  Yichud and other sexual intimacy is also
forbidden, and it's a machloket whether this is d'Orayta or d'Rabbanan.
NH, since it is not an erva, does not have kirva extensions.

What the two acts have in common is that they are, on a physical level,
imitatory of heterosexual intercourse, and that they are forbidden.
That's it.

I apologize to any gay men on this list.  I *hate* separating myself off
from another group and saying, "Those complaints you have don't apply to
me."  It feels craven.  But I'm really, really tired of having people
using the word "homosexuality" as though it carries all of the halakhic
problems there are for gay men, and applying it to lesbians as well.
It's unfair.

Even if my partner and I were to engage in NM -- which we don't --
Hashem does *not* call it a to'eivah (whatever that term is meant to

I don't remember who it was who raised the issue of ein apotropsut
l'arayot, but that doesn't apply to lesbians either, because there's no
arayot here.

Don't get me wrong.  I think that the way frum gay men are treated is
also terrible.  It goes far beyond anything justifiable by halakha, and
I do believe that it is something which has assimilated in from the
Christian world around us.  But the bottom line is, their issues are not
our issues, and I'm thankful for that.



From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
Date: Wed, 03 Aug 2005 16:17:10 -0400
Subject: RE: Marriage of a rape victim

>From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@...>
>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.

Several recent columns written by NY Times columnist Nicholas Kristoff
illustrates the horrible fate which awaits female rape victims in
conservative Islamic societies *today*, which undoubtedly reflect the
conditions extant when the Torah was given.


Essentially, these women's lives are ruined. If unmarried, thay are
judged unsuitable for marriage, and, if married, their husbands are
advised (coerced) to divorce and abandon them. Many or most such women
contemplate or actually commit suicide.

Reading these columns gives one a better understanding of what must have
been the revolutionary nature of the Torah in ancient societies, in its
effort to protect such women. Clearly, these protections are still
needed today in much of the world.

b'shalom--Bernie R.


End of Volume 49 Issue 36