Volume 50 Number 70
                    Produced: Fri Dec 23  6:34:16 EST 2005

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Frum and ...unconventional
         [Sarah Green]
Rabbi Chaim Rapoport on homosexuality
         [M Wollenberg]
The Term "homophobia" and Some Questions (4)
         [R E Sternglantz, Lisa Liel, M Wollenberg, Avi Feldblum]


From: Sarah Green <sarahyarok@...>
Date: Thu, 22 Dec 2005 11:35:54 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Frum and ...unconventional

I am having trouble understanding the attitudes of those who try to gain
acceptance as frum while publicizing the nature of their living
arrangements.  What stops them from keeping these matters private,
unless they are trying to gain acceptance for their lifestyle and
encourage it.

Consider, please, the following example:

Mr. Finementsch is a fellow whose needs were not being met by his
current family situation. Upon research (with or without consultation
with his Rabbi) he decided to take a pilegesh, and actually found a
young woman who agreed to his plan.

(Or, another scenario - due to medical problems that his wife has, he
obtains a heter meah rabbonim from some rather unconventional rabbis and
the story continues as below.)

He set her up in a house next door to his original family, and each home
has several children.

Perhaps there would have been a way to solve his problem more
discreetly, but Mr. Finementsch feels that there may be others with
similar needs. It would be a service to publicize his idea because
others might want to utilize a similar solution.

The Orthodox shul he attends is not sure if they should grant him a
family membership because that might be construed as lending their
approval to his unusual scheme.

And now your daughter Chanaleh wants to know why Sorah'lah's Abba has
two wives. "Whoops, I think supper is burning, Chanaleh, I'll be right
back."  Quick call to husband, "would you mind explaining this one,


From: M Wollenberg <rabbi@...>
Date: Thu, 22 Dec 2005 21:30:51 -0000
Subject: Rabbi Chaim Rapoport on homosexuality

In answer to the point below, I heard a very interesting drosha by R'
Chaim a few years ago in which his point was that whilst we in the
Orthodox world cannot endorse homosexuality, why is it that when it comes
to many other aveiros people are prepared to turn the other way - whether
orthodox or more 'traditional' people - and will still befriend a tax
cheat, someone who breaks shabbos etc. yet when it comes to homosexuality
suddenly it is 'this is against the torah' and his answer was that in
*many* cases it stems from pure societal prejudice which has no place in
yiddishkeit.  There is an argument that something which society disdains
and is against torah may enjoy a different status but his main point was
that our approach should be the same as that toward anyone who is oveor
an aveirah - and nowadays most of us are pretty tolerant of that - so why
do we get so worked-up about gays?

> On a communal level, I am constantly perplexed by what are to me some
> striking contradictions.  I see much genuine committment to kiruv (and
> plenty of additional lip-service paid to it too), I see many people
> celebrating the achievements of baalei teshuva who have, for example,
> just kashered their kitchen and started lighting shabbat candles but are
> not shomer shabbat, yet the homosexual struggling to hold onto his/her
> shemirat mitzvot in the face of a seemingly impossible situation is
> looked upon with disdain and disgust.  I see a community that heaps
> honor upon honor upon assorted scoundrels, thieves, tax cheats,
> adulterers etc. (especially if they shuffle a portion of their
> ill-gotten gains towards charitable organizations that dole out such
> honors), yet seems unusually and single-mindedly committed to purging
> itself of even the most discrete and private members who happen to also
> be gay.


From: R E Sternglantz <resternglantz@...>
Date: Wed, 21 Dec 2005 07:01:04 -0500
Subject: The Term "homophobia" and Some Questions

I've been reading the posts attempting to parse this word and its
dictionary definitions with a growing sense of both annoyance and

I don't exactly understand why those who believe (whether erroneously or
not) that Torah and Halacha sanction their publicly expressed attitudes
toward and/or treatment of homosexuals care what label they get branded
with as a result, whether on the street or on this list. If you believe
your behavior is appropriate, embrace the label.

And if you don't like that label (which costs you nothing in your
community), try to imagine how gay men and lesbians (self-identified
through their desires rather than because they're proposing that
forbidden sexual acts ought to be permitted) who are shomrei mitzvos
feel when they are routinely labeled as sinners--on this list and in the
community at large--in spite of the fact that avoidance of
intimacy-related sins (through, e.g., marriage to the opposite sex) may
be part of the motivation for revealing their orientation.

As for tradition: Gay and lesbian members of the frum community marrying
members of the opposite sex is a "tradition" the same way that
amputating a limb is a traditional medical practice - it's done because
it's regarded as the only alternative to death.

Ruth Sternglantz

From: Lisa Liel <lisa@...>
Date: Tue, 20 Dec 2005 13:38:54 -0500
Subject: Re: The Term "homophobia" and Some Questions

From: Asher Grossman <asherg@...>

> Without going through the process of quoting the various members 
> who commented on this subject, here is an excerpt of something 
> I've written in another forum, on this subject.
> While the severity of homosexuality is as great as desecrating 
> the Shabbat - both are punishable by stoning - 

I'd like you to post some support for this claim.  I am a frum Jew.  I
am a lesbian.  That means a homosexual woman, btw.  And I am treated as
poorly in frum circles as any homosexual men.  Please, Asher, do explain
why such a thing is justifiable.  I'm positive I'm not the only one
who'd like that explained.

As Avi noted, the term "homosexuality" is being used in different ways
here by different people, and as a result, things are being blurred.  I
can't help but suspect that this blurring is being done intentionally by
certain people.

We have no problem referring to chillul shabbat as chillul shabbat.  So
why is there such a problem when it comes to referring to mishkav zachor
as mishkav zachor?  I think it is abundantly clear that those who
persist in using the term "homosexuality" for mishkav zachor --
particularly after the tremendous amount of bandwidth that has been
devoted to this subject -- simply want to use the Torah prohibition of
mishkav zachor as a hammer with which to beat gays and lesbians over the

In Pirkei Avot 2:4, Rabban Gamliel used to say "Do His will as if it
were your will, so that He may do your will as if it were His will.
Make your will of no effect before His will that He may make the will of
others of no effect before your will."  I find it ironic that so many
frum Jews insist on claiming that gays and lesbians are trying to place
their feelings above the halakha, because this is precisely what is
being done by those who try and use the Torah as a weapon against those
they already dislike.

Are there people who object to gays and lesbians because they can't
imagine such people refraining from doing things that are forbidden?
I'm sure there are.  But that does not account for the phenomenon of
gay-hatred in the frum community.

I use the word "gay-hatred" for the same reason that it is sometimes
necessary to use the term "Jew-hatred" instead of anti-semitism.
Certain pedants insist on using etymology and dictionary definitions in
place of the actual meaning of words, and rather than debate it with
them, I find it easier, at times, to let them have their way and use a
more blatant term that even they can't try and interpret out of

Gays and lesbians who are known to be gays and lesbians are shunned by
most of the frum community.  The assumption is made that being gay means
we do things that are assur.  No questions are ever asked.  Not that
they would be appropriate in the first place, but the whole thing is
very reminiscent of the story "Gentlemen's Agreement".

A Jew is denied membership in a shul.  When she asks why, she's told
ascerbically, "I think you know why."  When she tries to argue, she is
told that the shul's "rabbinical authorities" made the decision and that
it's final.  When she asks who the rabbinical authorities are, since no
one ever spoke with her, she gets no answer.  She's told, "He doesn't
want to talk with you."

It's all rumor and innuendo, and it's done without the least sense of
guilt on the parts of the perpetrators, because they can say, "Well, the
Torah calls homosexuality an abomination."

It doesn't.  For the millionth time, it does nothing of the sort.  Not
even for men, and kal v'chomer not for women.

> there is another element to it that is unique. The Torah defines 
> homosexual relations as Abomination, a term which is not attached 
> to any of the other Arayot, even cases of incest. This term is 
> applied to two other Aveirot: Avoda Zara, and a case when a 
> divorced woman, who had married again, attempts to return to her 
> first husband.

In the first place, the Torah defines certain acts between two men as a
toeivah.  Whether the men in question are gay or straight (as in prisons
and the military) is irrelevant.

In the second place, there are only two other aveirot (see, you *can*
use the Hebrew terms when you want) that are referred to as toeivah?

* Vayikra 26-27 uses toeivah to describe all of the arayot.  Not merely
mishkav zachor.  The fact that it's only specified by mishkav zachor
isn't a proof either.  Kirva is only mentioned once in all the arayot,
but we learn out from it the prohibitions of kirva on all the arayot.
You don't get to make your own drashot, Asher.

* Deuteronomy 25:16 uses toeivah to refer to the practice of using
inconsistent standards of measure.

* And let's please not forget Proverbs 6:16-19, which tells us that
there are seven things that are toeivot to Hashem: (1) arrogance, (2)
deceitful speech, (3) spilling innocent blood, (4) letting your emotions
lead you to wicked thoughts, (5) being eager to do evil, (6) testifying
falsely, and (7) creating discord between brothers.

I'm tempted to say "v'ha-meivin yavin", but it may not be clear enough.
Using a single prohibition against mishkav zachor as license to maltreat
Jews who are gay is certainly deceitful speech.  The gossiping and
nastiness directed at those who are gay by certain members of the frum
community (who are either the majority, or a very vocal minority) is, as
Chazal tell us, tantamount to spilling blood.  I've already covered the
issue of letting your emotions lead you to thinking unacceptable things
about gays and lesbians.  The glee with which certain posters here have
gone about condemning homosexuals and making excuses for such
treatment... do I have to go on?

Grab yourself a concordance and check out the many other instances of
toeivah used in Mishlei and ask yourself whether your behavior needs at
least as much work as those you condemn.


From: M Wollenberg <rabbi@...>
Date: Thu, 22 Dec 2005 21:26:38 -0000
Subject: The Term "homophobia" and Some Questions

Just to clarify, Rabbi Chaim Rapoport is a talmid chochom and a highly
respected rov here in the United Kingdom, he trained at litvishe and
lubavitcher yeshivos, his scholarship and psak would be respected by
many across the board and he is certainly not a nobody within the Torah
world, although not so well-known around the world, his scholarship and
erudition are legendary and brilliant.


From: Avi Feldblum <avi@...>
Date: Thu, 22 Dec 2005 21:26:38 -0000
Subject: The Term "homophobia" and Some Questions

If you do some searching on the web, the ambiguity in this term becomes
fairly clear. The best short description I found was on Wikipedia, and I
bring the initial portion down below. I also did a quick google search
for number of hits of the combined phrases, to get a feeling whether I
agree with Ira that the initial word "irrational" modified only "fear"
or all three of "fear of, aversion to or discrimination of". Based on both the
initial paragraph from the Wikipedia definition and the google hit
count, I think most people would agree that the term "irrational"
modifies only "fear" and "aversion to and discrimination of", whether
"rational" or "irrational" are extended meanings of the term. Because of
that, I dislike use of the term due to its ambiguity and potential
political use / implications.


Google hits:
"irrational fear" phobia: 48,000
"irrational aversion" phobia: 362
"irrational discrimination" phobia: 51

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

The term homophobia means an "irrational fear of homosexuality or
homosexuals". It is derived from the words homosexual and phobia
(meaning panic fear in Greek). The term itself is however often
broadened to encompass other feelings such as aversion to, disparagement
of, or discrimination against gay people, their lifestyle, or culture.


According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word homophobia in the
meaning "fear or hatred of homosexuals and homosexuality" was first used
in print in Time Magazine in 1969. It was coined by clinical
psychologist George Weinberg, who claims to have first thought of it
while speaking at a homophile group in 1965 and popularized by his book
Society and the Healthy Homosexual in 1971. It combines the Greek terms
phobos, meaning "panic fear", and homos, which means "the same". The
"homo" in homophobia comes from the word homosexual, not to be confused
with the Latin homo, meaning man (as in homo sapiens).

A possible precursor was homoerotophobia, coined by Dr Wainwright
Churchill in Homosexual Behavior Among Males in 1967.

Dual associations and usage controversy

Most people who discuss the idea of prejudice against LGBT people use
the term "homophobia" as a parallel to racism or sexism (which refers to
gender prejudice). Heterosexism and sexualism have been proposed as
alternatives which are more morphologically parallel, and which do not
have the association with phobia. The term "homosexualism" is a
rarely-used synonym of homosexuality. Queer Theory uses the term
heterocentric to refer to a similar ontological assumption, and the
parallel term from critical theory is heteronormativity. Heterosexualism
is an ambiguous term which is used either as a synomym for
heterosexuality or heterosexism (prejudice against homosexuals).


End of Volume 50 Issue 70