Volume 58 Number 98 
      Produced: Mon, 23 Aug 2010 16:17:36 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

"Statement of Principles" regarding homosexuality (2)
    [Lisa Liel   Melech Press]
    [Josh Backon]
    [Akiva Miller]
Reish Lakish (3)
    [Leah S.R. Gordon  N. Yaakov Ziskind]
When are MJ Digests produced - Shabbat (3)
    [Ari Trachtenberg  Carl Singer  Martin Stern]


From: Lisa Liel <lisa@...>
Date: Mon, Aug 23,2010 at 11:01 AM
Subject: "Statement of Principles" regarding homosexuality

On Mon, Aug 23,2010 at 12:01 AM, Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...> 
wrote (v58n96):

> In v58n72 I expressed shock at the 12th principle: That homosexuals 
> should not be encouraged to marry.
> Here is what I think the prinicples SHOULD have said: Again: I look 
> forward to comments on my proposal:
> >>A pillar of Jewish thought is repentance. We require all 
> homosexuals (whether in orientation or practice, whether exclusive 
> or not) to BELIEVE that our religion holds that they CAN BE CURED 
> in this world, that they can eventually MARRY and lead normal 
> heterosexual lives. It is absolutely prohibited according to the 
> Jewish viewpoint to state that anyone is doomed psychologically and 
> cannot escape from their present state of action or orientation. We 
> therefore encourage homosexuals to read and seek ideas that will 
> alleviate them from this sin. HOWEVER,not withstanding the above: 
> We do NOT REQUIRE homosexuals to see therapists or to subscribe to 
> any existing therapy. We OPPOSE the view that the ACT of marriage 
> in and of itself will cure them>>
> In other words I am objecting to the OMISSION of a strong statement 
> that Judaism believes that every homosexual (orientation, practice, 
> exclusive) CAN REPENT and lead a normal life if they so chose 
> (albeit with much work). However I agree with Avraham that this 
> belief of Judaism should not be used to ruin anyone's life.
> Comments?

I think this is so wrong that it's hard to know where to 
start.  Judaism requires that we refrain from doing things that are 
forbidden.  It requires that we do things that are obligatory.  V'tu 
lo [and no more -MOD].  Judaism holds the heterosexual relationship to be 
normative.  But Judaism also holds right-handedness to be 
normative.  It does not require anyone to believe that they can be 
"cured" of either of them, nor that there is anything to *be* cured.

Homosexuality is not an illness, and there is absolutely nothing in 
Judaism that says it is.  That belief is an artifact of late 19th and 
early 20th century primitive attempts at psychology and psychiatry, 
and has no place in any discussion about Jewish norms.

Is it forbidden for two heterosexual men to engage in anal 
sex?  Absolutely.  But it happens in prisons all the time.  You (and 
I'm not speaking of you, singular, but rather of all those who make 
the same mistake(s) you are making here) need to start distinguishing 
between specific acts and homosexuality as an element of a person's 
basic make-up.  You give lip service to there being a difference, but 
only so that you can justify halakhically forbidden behavior 
*towards* people who are gay or lesbian.

Being gay is not something to "repent from".  Being gay is not 
something to "cure".  Being gay presents halakhic challenges, but so 
does being straight.  For you (this time I'm referring to you in 
particular, Russell) to state that homosexual orientation requires 
repentance is 100% unjustified by any halakhic standard, and is 
itself a violation of Torah norms regarding behavior between fellow Jews.

The reason (or, I assume, at least one reason) why the declaration of 
principles didn't say what you think they should have said is that 
what you think they should have said is *wrong*.  It is wrong in 
terms of halakha, it is wrong in terms of psychology, it is wrong in 
terms of empirical facts.  The goal is not to try and make gay people 
straight.  It's to show gay Jews that the Torah is not off limits to 
them.  That there is no "fee" to get in that requires falsifying 
one's identity.  That being frum and gay simultaneously is simply a 
matter of refraining from acts that are forbidden.  Not to minimize the 
difficulty this may present, of course, but that is the sum and total of it.


From:  Melech Press <mpress8@...>
Date: Mon, Aug 23,2010 at 01:01 PM
Subject: "Statement of Principles" regarding homosexuality

Joseph Kaplan (MJ 58#97) quotes a "frum expert" on homosexuality who says that
one can no more repent and be cured from homosexuality than one can repent 
and be cured from being a quadriplegic.  The person who supposedly made 
that statement (and I will accept that Mr. Kaplan is quoting correctly) 
is not only not an "expert" on these issues but is an ignoramus and a 
fool.  I would be more than happy to discuss with Mr. Kaplan any 
evidence that his expert can bring to bear on his statement and we will 
see if he can support his claim.  The bottom line is that we simply do 
not know the etiology of same-sex attractions in a convincing way and we 
certainly have reason to believe that the "expert"'s statement is 
scientifically false.  This is not to deny that there are many who claim 
to be experts in this area who make politically correct statements, but 
only that they are almost universally unwilling to submit their claims 
to careful scientific examination.

Russell Hendel confounds the question of repenting for same sex 
attractions (which do not appear on the surface to be a sin and 
therefore to require repentance) and repenting for prohibited behaviors, 
which, of course, is possible and expected.  People experiencing 
same-sex attractions are no freer to sin than are those with strong 
heterosexual attractions who desire to sin.

The issue of marriage for persons with SSA is much more complex.  For 
millenia such persons married and begot children; many of the leaders of 
the gay rights movement were married and had children and their wives 
were surprised when their husbands "came out."  Those spiritual leaders 
and professionals who encouraged such individuals to marry and have 
families under the appropriate conditions were not so naive as to think 
that their SSAs would disappear but knew that it was possible for them 
to have healthy marriages and positive relationships with spouses even 
in the absence of heterosexual arousal.  A mail-Jewish post is not the 
place for an extensive discussion of the scientific, clinical and 
Halakhic issues involved, but such a discussion would suggest that, 
despite Rabbi Helfgott's good intentions, the Statement is both 
simple-minded and far more harmful than helpful to those struggling with 
how to cope with same-sex attractions while remaining Torah-committed.

Melech Press, Ph.D.




From: Josh Backon <backon@...>
Date: Mon, Aug 23,2010 at 08:01 AM

Dr. Russell Hendel wrote (MJ 58#96) under the heading "Is Minyan Biblical or

> Furthermore even the Rambam (whose views on martyrdom are extreme 
> --- according to Rambam if a grenade was about to explode a soldier would
> be prohibited to throw himself on the grenade to save the other soldiers)
> >>admits<< that the whole matter is theoretical

The recent situation (2004) in the Gaza Strip where 11 soldiers were blown up
and other soldiers had to risk their lives to retrieve body parts for 
burial, has lead to extensive debate. To what extent can one (or must one) put
oneself in danger? Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat 420:31 indicates that one who
injures himself even though he isn't permitted to is not subject to punishment.
See also Yoreh Deah 155:1 in Shach s"k 7.

Halachic discussion on danger has ranged from 

diets (Iggrot Moshe CM II 65), 

aesthetic plastic surgery (IM CM II 66, Chelkat Yaakov III 1, Minchat Yitzchak
VI 105 #2, Tzitz Eliezer XI 41), 

performing a mitzva (e.g. drinking wine at Seder for someone with a severe
allergy to wine (Halacha u'Refuah Sefer Daled p. 125), 

undergoing risky medical procedures (Shvut Yakov III 75; Achiezer II 16 #6;
Binyan Tzion I 111; Beit Meir YD 339 #1; Yad Halevi I YD 207; Harav Unterman in
NOAM Vol. 13, p. 5; Tzitz Eliezer IV 13 and X 25 #17; Shearim Metzuyanim
B'Halacha 190 s"k 4; Mor u'Ktziya 328),

volunteering for medical research, and others.

Mishpat 426:1. Although the Yerushalmi indicates that a person MUST place
himself in a *possible* risk in order to save someone else, see the SM"A there
that this isn't brought down since most Rishonim didn't hold this way.

HOWEVER: the Pitchei Tshuva CM 426 s"k 2 indicates that although a potential
rescuer should evaluate risks, he shouldn't be overly cautious. The Mishna Brura
OC 329:19 states that there is no obligation in risking one's life to save
another but still does mention this Pitchei Tshuva. More relevant is the Tzitz
Eliezer XIII 100 who rules that in time of war, one may take extraordinary risks
in order to save others. Rav Elyashiv in his Kovetz Tshuvot #124 (re: doctors'
obligation to treat everyone any time of day or night) states that one must
undergo pain and suffering in order to save the life of someone else (he does
mention the Rambam in Sefer Hamitzvot Lo Taaseh #297 and
the SM"A in CM 426 quoting the Yerushalmi).

Josh Backon


From: Akiva Miller <kennethgmiller@...>
Date: Mon, Aug 23,2010 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Martyrdom

Russell J Hendel (MJ 58:96) wrote under the heading "Is Minyan Biblical or

> The Talmud relates that >>they went up to an attic and decided that
> for 3 things one must give ones life.>> As far as I can tell the
> requirement of martyrdom (when asked to transgress in the presence
> of 10) is also RABBINIC not BIBLICAL. It was decided in an attic
> not given at Sinai!!!!

According to the way Russell is reading this quote, he seems to understand that
they went up to an attic, and chose to institute a new rabbinic law that one
must give one's life for three things.

I'd like him to give the source of this quote, so that I can see how the
authorities interpret it. Because to me, another interpretation could easily be
that it was already known that the Torah requires martyrdom in certain cases,
and they merely went up to the attic to determine which cases those are.

It is difficult for me to accept the possibility that if a Jew would give up his
live for one of these 3 things, he would get credit only for a rabbinic mitzvah,
and not for a Torah mitzvah.

Akiva Miller

Go Back to School
Grant Funding May Be Available to Those Who Qualify


From: Leah S.R. Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Mon, Aug 23,2010 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Reish Lakish

To all the people shouting down Russell Hendel for discussing the opinion
that Resh Lakesh was gay:

You may never have heard this interpretation, or belief, but it is very
widespread commentary outside of the Orthodox world.  I myself was a bit
surprised that Dr. Hendel was williing to espouse the view, but he has many
companions in this view even if not necessarily on M.J.

I also find it disconcerting that everyone's objections are "you're being
mean" when in my opinion:

1. It is not "maligning" to say someone is gay, and to call that maligning
is to be bigoted


2. even if something doesn't seem "nice" that doesn't mean it isn't "true"

I would never speak on M.J about the instances of homoeroticism that I think
are discussed in Tanakh, to say nothing of Talmud, because I know exactly
the kind of reception such analysis would get.  I applaud Dr. Hendel for
speaking out with his [reasonable] interpretation of the Resh Lakesh story.

--Leah S. R. Gordon

From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Mon, Aug 23,2010 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Reish Lakish 

Shoshana Boublil and Martin Stern both feel I dont have a strong case to argue
that Resh Lakish was homosexual. They also both feel I have maligned an Amora.

By coincidence my answer to them was in the same digest. If 10 year olds are
being raped and pushed into suicide AND covered up it is our duty to expose all
sexual crimes so that people feel comfortable talking about them.

We had such a story in Baltimore. Apparently one of the former Rosh Yeshivas was
a child molester. There was I understand a Kiddush club of all who had been
molested by him as children. They in fact tried to publish this. Rabbi Heinemann
(who is certainly a respectable person) opposed the publication (actually he
forbade it). But they went ahead and published it.

Shoshana and Martin both have to realize that by allegorizing every sexual
offense of a great person we are abetting future sexual crimes.

Finally: No one thinks I have a strong argument. What about my 3rd argument.
WHAT could have motivated Rabbi Jochanan, himself a great sage, to make fun of a
potential widow and refuse to forgive Resh Lakish. In my book, people who dont
forgive people after 10 years usually are harboring resentment at a sexual
crime. I do consider that a strong argument. Think about it...what else could
cause such harshness.

In passing: I know this is a sensitive topic. I would like it to continue. I
would request that it be continued without insults (I am NOT MALIGNING
anyone....I am trying to understand what happened and prevent future sexual
attacks - if Shoshana and Martin want to cover every sexual crime up how will
they prevent 10 year olds from being pushed into suicide?).

Russell Jay Hendel; Phd ASA  http://www.Rashiyomi.com

From: N. Yaakov Ziskind <awacs@...>
Date: Mon, Aug 23,2010 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Reish Lakish

Russell Hendel wrote (MJ 58#96):

> Well first things first. I have not insulted anyone. If I meet a homosexual I
> not only tell them they can repent. I also tell them that they can go to the
> head of the class - they can the leader of the generation as Resh Lakish was.
> There is no stronger statement of man's capacity for repentance.

By the way, if you want a modern day example (of something comparable)
you need look no farther than Yoseph Robinson (may G-d avenge his
blood), a Jew from Jamaica who was a small-time criminal, then a hip-hop 
musician/exec, then converted to Judaism and was a shining example of it 
to his friends and neighbors in Brooklyn, until he was murdered last week 
in Midwood. I don't doubt that he's had a chance to meet Resh Lakish in 
his new location. May his name be remembered for a blessing!


From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Sun, Aug 22,2010 at 03:01 PM
Subject: When are MJ Digests produced - Shabbat

Akiva Miller wrote:
> The first lines of the latest MJ Digest read:
> I noticed, and was surprised, that this seems to have been produced on Shabbos.

This raises a very interesting question:  may I, for whom Shabbat is 
over, effect a melakhah (forbidden work on Shabbat) at a place where 
Shabbat is still ongoing.

Today's computer and sensing technologies make this very easy ... and 
potentially advantageous.  I could envision, for example, having a 
(potentially Jewish) service that would monitor my house for me on 
Shabbat and take care of routine nuisances (e.g. forgot to turn off the 
oven, didn't turn on the air conditioner, light on in the bedroom).

The closest I can imagine to this is the situation of an Israeli who is 
visiting a territory outside of Israel on the second day of a holiday 
(which is only observed for one day in Israel).  In such cases, my 
understanding is that one not only may use the work done by the Israeli, 
but one may even ask the Israeli for (non-public) help that requires 
otherwise forbidden work on the holiday.


From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Mon, Aug 23,2010 at 08:01 AM
Subject: When are MJ Digests produced - Shabbat

Guido Elbogen (MJ58#96)

Provides examples of a remotely /directly controlled physical acts

> If a person is in a non Shabbat time zone and directly causes a machine to
> operate productively and thus benefit financially in a Shabbat time zone,
> is there not a problem?

> Lets say it's Shabbat in a field you own, could you "personally" sow seeds
> in that field and then water those seeds all from a location that is not as
> yet Shabbat by perhaps pressing a button on a computer?

> There was a case sometime ago when a father in the USA on Fridays was
> sending Divrei Torah faxes to his son in Israel when it was already
> Shabbat. It was ruled that those faxes were in the category of "Nolad"
> (newly created) and should not be removed from the machine until after
> Shabbat.

> Perhaps this is not exactly the same but I would appreciate a response.

For several years I managed a global team for IBM.  I had colleagues in the
UK, the US and Australia.  None on my team was Jewish - which removed
some complications (say a not-yet-observant Jew doing work on his / her
Sabbath due to my direction / actions.)  Nonetheless, to avoid communicating
with anyone who was in a "Shabbos" location would impose nearly a 50 hour
communications blackout each week.  (See my article in the Project
Management Network Magazine -- available on my website 

Those of us who send email out to global address lists face this situation
(I also chair some international standards groups, etc.)
50 hours may be an understatement due to delays among systems.  Is it
of consequence that an email that I send out on, say, Thursday at noon
might arrive on someone's desk when it is Shabbos at their locale.
Similarly, is it of consequence that an email that I open Friday afternoon,
was created in a time / place where it was Shabbos.

This may be far-fetched, but what if my email is telling someone
(Jewish or non-Jewish) to do some melacha (work) -- say, "when
you get this email, please immediately shred (destroy) all copies
of XYZ version 5, these contain a serious typographical error which
is corrected in the attached version 5a.)"

I believe the contrived example of watering one's field remotely (why
not use a timer - or an automatic system that senses that the field
is dry and needs watering) is problematic and would be a violation.
Directly Control -- is a key phrase in Guido's example.
(As often stated, I am not a Possek, nor do I portray one on TV)

The fax example was, I believe, discussed at length some time ago
on MJ --



From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, Aug 23,2010 at 09:01 AM
Subject: When are MJ Digests produced - Shabbat

Guido Elbogen <havlei.h@...> wrote (MJ 58#96):
> If a person is in a non Shabbat time zone and directly causes a machine to
> operate productively and thus benefit financially in a Shabbat time zone, is
> there not a problem?

In the case of the mail-jewish system, sending a digest from a non-Shabbat
time zone certainly does not cause any melachah [Torah prohibited work] to
be done by anyone in a place where it is still Shabbat. At most it will be a
grama [indirect causation] of a derabbanan [rabbinically prohibited work]
though even this is questionable. There is no benefit to the sender,
financial or otherwise, in so doing so I cannot understand Guido's problem.
It is in no way similar to his scenario:

> Let's say it's Shabbat in a field you own, could you "personally" sow seeds
> in that field and then water those seeds all from a location that is not as
> yet Shabbat by perhaps pressing a button on a computer?

In this case there might be some benefit in the work being done specifically
on Shabbat but, again, it certainly involves only a grama and not a
> There was a case sometime ago when a father in the USA on Fridays was
> sending Divrei Torah faxes to his son in Israel when it was already Shabbat.
> It was ruled that those faxes were in the category of "Nolad" (newly
> created) and should not be removed from the machine until after Shabbat.

Here there is a major difference in that something tangible, the printed
fax, is created. It is this that is Nolad and therefore cannot be handled
since they are a form of muktzeh but this is an issur heftza [prohibition
attached to the object produced] rather than an issur gavra [prohibition on
the person producing it] so this also is not similar to the case of
mail-jewish digests which are purely electronic and only become even
visible, let alone tangible, when they arrive on the recipients' screens,
hopefully something that never occurs at a location where it is still

Martin Stern


End of Volume 58 Issue 98