Volume 50 Number 76
                    Produced: Tue Dec 27  5:19:39 EST 2005

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Clarification (Re: Homosexuality)
         [Lisa Liel]
Frum and ...unconventional (3)
         [Sarah Green, Stuart Pilichowski, Lisa Liel]
         [Lisa Liel]
Labels --   was  Frum and unconventional
         [Carl A. Singer]
Question not about homophobia
         [Lisa Liel]


From: Lisa Liel <lisa@...>
Date: Sun, 25 Dec 2005 10:08:26 -0500
Subject: Clarification (Re: Homosexuality)

From: Avi Feldblum <avi@...>

> I think it has been made pretty clear that the term Frum GLB, 
> and as such the category in Ira's terminology, is someone who 
> has a GLB sexual orientation but does not engage is forbidden 
> activities.

I'd like to just clarify that I would not use the term Frum GLB.  The
"B" in that expression stands for "bisexual", and refers to someone who
is attracted both to members of the same sex and members of the opposite

I believe that if someone is attracted to members of the opposite sex,
that's the way they should go.  It's clear that this is the default
position in halakha, and I'd like to detach it as an issue from the
issue of those of us who are not.

I'd actually like to split the discussion of frum gay men and frum
lesbians into separate issues, because halakhically, they are, but
that's probably one windmill too many for me to tilt at.



From: Sarah Green <sarahyarok@...>
Date: Sun, 25 Dec 2005 10:39:08 -0800 (PST)
Subject: re: Frum and ...unconventional

Lisa Liel makes the point that she's not looking to flaunt her
relationship, but people are inquisitive.

It sounds as though it depends on your goal.  If your goal were to keep
private matters private, you could find suitable language to do so.

For instance, if someone who is co-habiting (whether with a MOTOS or SS)
visits religious relatives and is sensitive, they'll refer to their
"partner" as a "friend".  Why would anyone want to hear about (or have
their children hear about) their living arrangements?

In the case of two women who shared a home and were not interested in
discussing their personal relationship, they could simply refer to one
another as housemates.  Or, if they were adamant in having their "child"
refer to both in a familial way, one could be called "aunt".  They
could, on moving to a new community, present themselves as cousins....

Aside from the question of "maaseh eretz mitzrayim" (which, I
understand, formalizing such a relationship may violate according to
some), there is the simple question of being accepted.  Do you feel
dishonest if you hide your relationship?  That, I suppose, is a

But, when you meet someone with your "housemate" and are asked to
introduce her, you are making the assumption that the other person is
interested in knowing all about your relationship.  Perhaps they just
want to know how to relate to her, so calling her your housemate or
cousin will provide sufficient context for them to do so.

There are many alternatives that would keep private matters private.
I'm simply making the point that you are making a choice in publicizing
the issue, rather than keeping it a matter of conscience between you and

From: Stuart Pilichowski <cshmuel@...>
Date: Sun, 25 Dec 2005 14:33:54 +0000
Subject: Re: Frum and ...unconventional

From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
> A member of a synagog in my neighborhood related to me that his shul
> has two criteria for refusing membership: public desecration of
> Shabbat, and living with a woman not one's wife for more than one
> year.

I was under the impression that living with a women for more than a year
would ipso facto make her your wife both in common law and in halacha.

Stuart Pilichowski
Mevaseret Zion, Israel

From: Lisa Liel <lisa@...>
Date: Sun, 25 Dec 2005 09:48:18 -0500
Subject: Re: Frum and ...unconventional

From: <Yisyis@...> (Ira Bauman)

> However, I see a problem with your line of reasoning.  You 
> understand how the Torah labels a homosexual act between two men 
> as forbidden, but you see the concept of homosexuality and 
> homosexuals as separate and untouched by the Torah's judgement.  
> If the sin instead were adultery we would have the same three 
> categories: adulterers, the concept of adultery and the adulterous 
> act.  I think that most people would agree that if the Torah 
> condemned the third concept, the first two would not get away so 
> easy.

Exactly, Ira.  You've made the precise point that I, and others, have
been trying in vain to get across.  I just don't think you're hearing
what you're saying.

An adulterer is, by definition, a person who commits an act of adultery.
A homosexual is not, by contrast, someone who engages in mishkav zachor
(take me, for example).

If you define a homosexual as a person who commits mishkav zachor, then
homosexuals would rightly be as condemned as adulterers.  And for the
reasons that you point out.  But that's a dishonest definition.  Or, to
give those who use it the benefit of the doubt, it is a definition based
on lack of knowledge.

There's a reason why we dislike being called homosexuals, you know.
It's because this is not about sex.  Certainly not only about sex.  But
you hear "homosexual", and the first thing a prurient mind fixes on is
what that means sexually.

Ira, I am a frum Jew.  The fact that I am gay does not imply any
misdeeds on my part.  There is absolutely no halakhic justification for
you, or anyone else, to assume otherwise.  On the contrary, assuming
otherwise is halakhically forbidden, and expressing that assumption is
even more halakhically forbidden.

I am not merely saying that frum gay Jews are not in violation of any
halakhot.  I'm going beyond that and saying that anyone who says we are
is themselves in violation of some very serious d'Orayta prohibitions.
And that they need to look to their own behavior.



From: Lisa Liel <lisa@...>
Date: Sun, 25 Dec 2005 10:03:13 -0500
Subject: Re: Homosexuality

From: <Meirhwise@...> (Rabbi Meir Henoch Hakohen Wise)

> The clearest presentation in English on the Orthodox position was
> written by Rabbi Norman Lamm of YU in one of the yearbooks of the
> Encyclopaedia Judaica (I think in the 70s) The is position was 
> endorsed by the late Chief Rabbi Lord Jakobovits of England.
> In short whilst rejecting homosexuality one must not reject
> "homosexuals". This is no different to Shabbat desecrators, 
> adulterers or those who eat non-kosher.

With all due respect, Rabbi, the analogy is false and offensive.
Shabbat desecrators are people who engage in the desecration of Shabbat.
Adulterers are those who commit adulterous acts.  And those who eat
non-kosher... well, those are people who eat non-kosher.

Homosexuals, by contrast, are *not* people who commit acts that are
forbidden by halakha.  They are people who are attracted, in mind and
body and soul, to members of the same sex, and *not* attracted in those
ways to members of the opposite sex.

The Christians attribute to their deity the sentiment that one who has
adulterous feelings is as guilty of adultery as one who actually commits
the act.  We, on the other hand, say "*Ein* machshavah k'maaseh".

So I ask you, Rabbi: Isn't the equation of homosexual people to those
who commit forbidden homosexual acts a Christian idea, rather than a
Jewish one?

And I'm going to ask again that references be made, not to
"homosexuality", but rather to "miskav zachor" and "nashim
hamesollelot", which are two separate and unrelated halakhic issues, and
have nothing to do with the concept of "homosexuality", which does not
even exist in halakhic literature.

Why?  Because I absolutely agree that a "shochev im zachar" and a
"mesollelet b'nashim" are as unacceptable, halakhically, as an
adulterer.  And I believe that most, if not all, frum gay Jews agree
with me about this.

So please, stop using vague terms that are foreign to Judaism and only
cause needless machloket, and start using precise terms, and I suspect
you'll begin to realize that the issue here is very different than
you've thought.



From: Carl A. Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Sun, 25 Dec 2005 10:04:50 -0500
Subject: Labels --   was  Frum and unconventional

Caveat -- this is not meant as a specific response to anyone who has
posted their (heretofore) private situations.

People like to apply labels (categories, names, etc.) to people.  NO --
not what you're thinking -- I'm thinking about how people label

When it comes to religion it gets quite interesting. 

They label themselves by proclamation -- I am a FRUM Jew,  I am a Modern
Orthodox Jew,  I am a Zionist ....
They do so by dress (well beyond the necessitates of modesty, they wear
what might be considered "frum uniforms")
They do so when they choose where they daven, where to send their
children to school, where they shop ....
They do so by how their home is decorated --  Seforim, Books, TV's,
pictures, "Judaica" --

And they do so by their behavior and their lifestyles.

Quite frankly it's hard not to be judgmental when someone proclaims
themselves to be "A" but doesn't outwardly seem to be so.

Here are a few examples, I've seen in my life.

First some simple incongruities:

Someone who claims to be Lubavitch, but rather than daven at the
Lubavitch Shtiebel a block away, constantly shows up at my shul.
Someone who claims to be Chasidish but davens with a Nussach Ha'Grah

Then some issues of halacha:

Someone who drives to shul (and parks a few blocks away) on Shabbos and
considers themselves a cornerstone of a frum congregation.
Someone who eats salads and milchigs in non-kosher restaurants, but says
they keep kosher.

OK -- those are the easy ones -- it gets tougher.

Someone who doesn't listen to a bais din re: a get -- but claims to be
Someone who cheats on their spouse, but claims to be Frum.
Someone who is "shacking up" (as we used to call it) but claims to be
Someone who is co-habiting with someone of the same gender.

My issue is not with the SELF - labeling.  People need to reduce
dissonance in their lives and have every right to label themselves as
they see fit / comfortable.  My issue is placing others (specifically,
me) in a situation where they wish some form of validation from me.  At
that point you've crossed a line.  You've crossed the line by asking me
to get involved with your label.

Even when it's something as simple as "I eat salads at Denny's" -- When
you say this, what response are you expecting from me?  Why did you say
this?  Should I ignore your statement?  Do you want me to give you
mussar?  Do you want me to say that understand?  Should I hug you :)

And yes, if it's something integral to your life -- such as a "partner"
-- I don't expect you to hide that aspect of your life any more than I
expect someone to hide their children or their spouse -- but I'm really
not sure of where to go from here.

We have friends one of whose children "went off the derech" -- we've
spoken frankly about this because they need some comfort -- in that
context it seemed OK -- I don't know, however, how I'd deal with the
child if he came to me and proclaimed that he's no longer Frum.

Kol Tuv,

Carl Singer


From: Lisa Liel <lisa@...>
Date: Sun, 25 Dec 2005 10:23:29 -0500
Subject: Re: Question not about homophobia

From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
> I was wondering about a theoretical situation in which a man is 
> not just gay, but convinced that he is really a woman in a man's 
> body.  Such a person is moved by his conviction to have a sex-
> change operation.

It's not actually a theoretical situation.  I know a few people in that
situation who are actually frum.  I'm not sure the "not just gay" thing
applies, because to the best of my knowledge, the issues are entirely

> How would the halakha and the Jewish community look upon such an 
> act?  Would it be regarded as self-mutilation and hence forbidden?  
> Would it matter whether or not the man has fathered children 
> before the operation?

There is a minority opinion of the Tzitz Eliezer, who says that such a
person is halakhically the sex that they appear to be in terms of gross
anatomy.  To the extent that he even suggests that the wife of such a
person would be free to remarry without a get.

Most other authorities I know of say that it's mutilation and has no
effect whatsoever on the person's halakhic sex.

In both cases, I understand it to be forbidden.  The position of the
Tzitz Eliezer only deals with whether, b'dieved, a person who has done
so has effected a change in identity.

One of the people I referred to above related that she went to a rav who
had been her rosh yeshiva prior to her gender transition, and he told
her, "In my halakhic opinion, you are a different person."

> Now, after the operation, how would the halakha view a monogamous
> relationship between such a person and a man?  Between such a 
> person and a woman?  Would such a person be eligible for huppa and 
> qiddushin?  In which case?

I assume that a relationship between a male-to-female transsexual and a
man would be considered a homosexual relationship by those who hold that
the surgery had no halakhic effect, and a permissible, heterosexual
relationship by those who hold otherwise.  No?

And a relationship between such a person and a woman... well, I imagine
that they'd probably get it from both sides.  Most people would refuse
to accept her as a woman, but they'd probably give the couple a hard
time for being lesbians anyway.

I expect the whole concept is pretty rare, though.  Certainly among
those who care what the halakha says.



End of Volume 50 Issue 76