Volume 59 Number 01 
      Produced: Tue, 24 Aug 2010 08:21:09 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

"Statement of Principles" regarding homosexuality (4)
    [N. Yaakov Ziskind  Russell J Hendel  Frank Silbermann]
Being Jewish -- not just Orthodox 
    [Ira L. Jacobson]
Changing one's seat during availus (2)
    [Irwin Weiss  Harlan Braude]
    [Leah S.R. Gordon]
Heat and Halachah 
    [Shmuel Himelstein]
    [Russell J Hendel]


From: N. Yaakov Ziskind <awacs@...>
Date: Mon, Aug 23,2010 at 01:01 PM
Subject: "Statement of Principles" regarding homosexuality

Joseph Kaplan <penkap@...> wrote (MJ 58#97):

> Russell Hendel (v58n96) asks for comments on his argument that the 
> Statement of Principles should have said that Judaism requires 
> homosexuals to believe that they can "repent" and be "cured."  I'm 
> no expert in this field but I have spoken to a frum expert who told me 
> that there is no "cure" for a homosexual who has no bisexual tendencies.  
> He added that one cannot repent and be cured from homosexuality anymore 
> that one can repent and be cured from being a quadriplegic.  

The Lubavitcher Rebbe compared homosexuality to, ISTR, kleptomania: you
may not be able to be cured, but you can restrain your tendencies.

From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Mon, Aug 23,2010 at 01:01 PM
Subject: "Statement of Principles" regarding homosexuality

This dialogue is going well. I asserted that the principles SHOULD have had a
STRONG clause stating that Judaism BELIEVES in man's capacity to repent.
Jeanette and Joe Kaplan demurred. Joe pointed out that not all experts believe
this - hence a statement of principles might not want to go against the experts.

But that is PRECISELY my point. If Judaism believes something that psychologists
do not believe, isn't it our duty to clearly state Jewish beliefs (and to
acknowledge that we fully and strongly disagree with modern psychology).

I really think the principles missed a golden opportunity. I also think they
were wrong in not standing up to science.

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

From: Frank Silbermann <frank_silbermann@...>
Date: Mon, Aug 23,2010 at 06:01 PM
Subject: "Statement of Principles" regarding homosexuality

Subject: "Statement of Principles" regarding homosexuality

Lisa Liel wrote in Vol.58 #98:
> 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 ... 

The belief (that homosexuality is a mental illness) is an artifact of late 19th
and early 20th century attempts by psychologists and psychiatrists to have
society stop treating their homosexual patients as felons guilty of what some
European countries considered to be a capital crime.
Do you have a problem with that?
Frank Silbermann           Memphis, Tennessee

From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Mon, Aug 23,2010 at 11:01 PM
Subject: "Statement of Principles" regarding homosexuality 

Melech Press and Lisa Liel both disagree with my statements about homosexuals.
They both articulate this in terms of science. Let me outline what I intend to
do in this posting:

1st) I wish to state WHAT my view is; 

2nd) I wish to state the Biblical verses/laws that motivate me 

3rd) I wish to briefly discuss science and show that Melech and Lisa lack
scientific backup for what they say 

4th) I wish to discuss the MOTIVATION of America to push such scientific beliefs
on us. 

My comments are based on books such as the nature of scientific revolution. It
is important to understand that America may be distorting science for its own
political reasons.


a) I believe that practicing homosexuals can repent; 

b) I believe that practicing or oriented homosexuals have a positive commandment
to marry and reproduce; 

c) I agree that marriages without strong sexual attraction should NOT take place 

(d) As a consequence of (b) and (c) and my belief in repentance I believe that
ORIENTED homosexuals can FULLY repent, acquire normal heterosexual feelings and
then enter marriage.

SOURCES: I have two sources: 

First: Repentance is a fundamental principle of Judaism and is a distinguishing
feature of Judaism from all other religions and cultures. The idea that an
activity (like marriage) can't be done psychologically is totally alien to
Judaism and contradicts its essence. Every book on repentance (From Deut 30 to
Rambam to the beautiful medieval literature all say this).

Second: (And I did say this once in a previous posting): I hold that the word
ABOMINATION / DISGUST (Toayvah, tevel) mentioned in Lv18-22:23 in connection
with homosexuality and bestiality refer to the PSYCHOLOGICAL STATES. There are
only TWO sexual sins that are labeled in this chapter. Many sexual sins (e.g.
incest with ones mother) are "worse" morally. I therefore don't believe that
ABOMINATION/DISGUST refers to MORAL repulsion. I believe the simple meaning of
the Biblical text is "Don't sleep with a man the way you sleep with a woman; it
is psychologically abominable." 

Let me make this as clear as possible. I believe Lv18-22 is making a
psychological statement and overriding any scientific statement to the contrary.
I realize that some people are frightened to death of a confrontation between
science and the Bible. But that IS what I believe. Nor do I see a way out of it.
You can't allegorize here the way we allegorize Genesis 1. Quite bluntly I see
Lv18-18 and Deut 30 as saying that independent of what any scientist says, God
is overriding it - man's natural sexual feelings are heterosexual and if through
traumatic events he now feels differently he can repent (from his FEELINGS /

If people want to turn this into a SCIENCE-TORAH thread that is fine with me.
But I **do** believe that the Torah DOES MAKE psychological statements and
OVERRIDES science - I believe that it is an obligation to so believe.

SCIENCE: But let me answer the scientists!!! As a mathematician I recently
attended the national Mathfest meeting in Pittsburgh (www.maa.org/mathfest). If
you go to the website and click on the SCHEDULES AND ABSTRACTS tab and then
click on the MATHFEST ABSTRACTS (For invited addresses) you get to a pdf of all
abstracts. You can then click on Martin Golubitsky's beautiful talk on Math and

Martin (among other things) spoke about animal gaits. Four legged animals walk
differently: Some move front legs first, hind legs second; some move right legs
first, left legs second; some move diagonal legs first followed by the other
diagonal legs. Martin described a mathematical way of LISTING all possible
gaits. This was exciting since one of the gaits was never observed and the
mathematical theories led to investigations showing that such a gait was
possible (in rodeo horses). Martin then cited the theory of minimal neural
networks and concluded that there must be an 8 neuron structure controlling
gates in the brain or spinal cord. HE EMPHASIZED NO ONE HAD FOUND IT YET. Martin
then described experiments to show that the gait was hardwired. They placed dogs
in a controlled environment on rollers where they were forced to violate their
natural gait. They kept them in this cage for 6 months, certainly enough time to
rehabilitate them to a different gait. When however they let the dogs out of
their cage they INSTANTLY resumed their own dog gait and forgot their 6th month
ordeal. Martin concluded: "Gaits are hard wired."

In summary: Martin ALTHOUGH HE CONCEDED that no one has ever found these cells,
showed theoretical (mathematical) evidence for a hard wiring as well as
experimental evidence for hard wiring.

That is called science. Now let us return to homosexuality. Has anyone found
neurons forcing a person to have a homosexual orientation? Has anyone produced a
mathematical structure accounting for it. Has anyone produced experiments
showing orientation is hard wired. As far as I know the answer is no to all 3

But that simply means that the hard wiredness of homosexual orientation is a
BELIEF not a scientific fact. Until someone produces science to the contrary I
have no obligation to respect BELIEFS that contradict moral obligations of the

In summary: I have brought the animal gait example to show the MJ readership
what REAL science looks like. It is ok to BELIEVE something will be discovered
but a true scientist does not confuse BELIEF and SCIENCE.

AMERICA: So if science doesn't show orientation is hard-wired where did it come
from. Well historically homosexuals were discriminated in work. An American
president (I forget who) issued an executive order barring discrimination. Fine.
I too believe that homosexuals should eat.

But then America made the mistake of making a religion out of this. Homosexuals
must have the right to look like the rest of us. They are not immoral just
rewired. They have the right to get married etc. Thomas Kuhn in his excellent
book "The structure of Scientific Revolution" outlines HOW so called objective
scientists CHANGE science. If everyone believes that homosexuality is immoral
and you want to change it simply control funding, control projects, place
psychologists who believe in what you want them to in key university positions
etc (Please read the book). This is a non-violent revolution but is a revolution
all the same. What is a person like Melech suppose to do if he can't find how to
cure homosexuality in technical books because funding and tenure trend the
country in a certain direction?

SUMMARY: This is only a mail Jewish posting. I have tried not to be too long.
But I have tried to show that there is a real issue here. There are strong
forces in Judaism advocating the immorality of BOTH homosexual behavior and
orientation, the capacity for repentance from both, the prohibition of honoring
homosexuals with aliyoth or marital statuses etc. Most people on this list are
not scientists. But I have tried to show what real science looks like. There is
no real science supporting the hard wire theory. Finally I have tried to show
the politics of scientific revolution so people can understand how this
happened. BOTTOM LINE: We as Jews must protest this trend. And again: I think
this should have been in the principles.

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


From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 24,2010 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Being Jewish -- not just Orthodox

Charles (Chi) Halevi <c.halevi@...> stated the following in 
mail-Jewish Vol.58 #97 Digest, first quoting your humble servant:

>Ira L. Jacobson wrote:
>> I am of course not Jeanette's poseq.  But, certainly, since she 
>> admitted years ago on MJ that she no longer observes the mitzvot, 
>> how could she have any posek?<<
> Hey, Sir Ira: Just because she does not observe Orthodoxy doen't by 
> any stretch mean she "no longer observes the mitzvot." Isn't tzdaka 
> "charity") a mitzva?

At first I thought Charles (Chi) Halevi was trying to be funny, but 
perhaps he really meant it.

I suppose you can say then that most Jews observe mitzvot because 
they refrain from eating snakes, do not offer their children to 
strange gods and do not eat qodoshim outside.  But that is not the 
ordinary definition of observing the commandments.  Rather, one who 
states that he or she had once been religiously observant and is no 
longer so, means precisely what he or she said.  They do not take the 
mitzvot to be divinely ordained, do not believe in reward and 
punishment, and choose to behave in whatever fashion suits them.

> Going out of your way to be kind to others who don't expect it? 
> Fasting on Yom Kippur not just b/c the Torah says to afflict 
> ourselves, but b/c I viscerally, physically and psychologically have 
> more knowledge of poverty's hunger?

I'm not sure that I understand this jumble of words (I could ask 
"more than what"), but one who chooses to fast on any day because of 
his knowledge of "poverty's hunger" is not afflicting his soul as a 
religious requirement.  Just like not eating worms.

>  I have a frum (Orthodox) friend who is a rabbi,

Of course, and some of my best friends are . . .



From: Irwin Weiss <irwin@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 24,2010 at 06:01 AM
Subject: Changing one's seat during availus

Yisrael Medad (MJ58#96) notes:

"no one mentioned that the seat change should be backwards, not  forwards in the
synagogue seating plan."

To which Joseph Kaplan (MJ58#99) responds "When my father was in aveilut, he
changed his seat and noted to me that he was moving to a row farther back in
order to be farther away from the aron kodesh."

I recall doing this as well. But what does one do if one typically sits in the
back row?  Perhaps this yields the moving to the side, as noted by Martin Stern
(also MJ58#99).

Irwin Weiss
Baltimore, MD

From: Harlan Braude <hbraude@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 24,2010 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Changing one's seat during availus

In MJ V58#99, Joseph Kaplan wrote:

> men in aveilut did change their seat in shul, most did not move farther 
> away from the aron kodesh; some made a lateral move while many moved closer.

Maybe their regular seat was in the the last row. :-)

More seriously, in the synagogue I attended during the year for my mother, 
A"H, the Rabbi requested that all aveilim gather at the front/left of the 
congregation to (try to) recite the Kaddish in unison, thereby mitigating one of
the otherwise more confusing parts of the service (i.e., trying to hear the
words of any single kaddish recited by dozen people at different locations,
tempos and rhythms).

Rather than elbow my way up and down the aisles from a seat at the other end 
of the room, I elected to daven from that place the entire year.


From: Leah S.R. Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 24,2010 at 07:01 AM
Subject: dishwashers

David Tzohar <davidtzohar@...> wrote (MJ 58#99):

> In response to Chana - MJ 58#84:
> ...
> 4-Washing the dishes at home is tircha (exertion). Washing the dishes in a
> Yeshiva for 200 bachurim is tircha yeteira (great exertion).

Hm.  So if young, strong, not-otherwise-occupied men would be washing the
dishes in some kind of organized rotation, *that* is more of an exertion
than the wife in the kitchen washing a family/guests-worth of dishes?  (I
assume here that unlike in my family, it does in fact fall on the wife much
of the time in y'all's households - I base this on statements from M.J'ers
implying that their wives usually shoulder household burdens.)

Or is it that the men who would be doing the washing in the former case had
a "rabbinic will"?

--Leah S. R. Gordon


From: Shmuel Himelstein <himels@...>
Date: Tue, Aug 24,2010 at 12:01 AM
Subject: Heat and Halachah

The Israeli Maariv paper of August 24 carried an article that in the
synagogue of Rabbi Chaim Kanievski (son of the Steipler), which had not used
Israeli-produced electricity on Shabbat (due to the fact that Jews are
involved in its production on that day), a rabbi fainted on a recent Shabbat
due to the intense heat wave which enveloped the country. According to the
newspaper, as a result Rabbi Kanievski has now permitted the installation of
an air conditioner in the synagogue. 

If I am not mistaken, many Israeli Charedi homes which use battery-driven
light on Shabbat nevertheless have a ruling of many years' standing that
they may use electricity for a refrigerator on Shabbat, because there is no
way a battery can keep a refrigerator working (and I assume that a lack of
refrigeration could cause real health problems).

Shmuel Himelstein


From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Mon, Aug 23,2010 at 11:01 PM
Subject: Martyrdom

First, I thank Akiva (MJ 58#98) for getting me to do my Homework (I should have
looked this up to begin with!)

Here are some answers to Akiva:

#1) Let me modify my position. A person who (correctly commits martyrdom) has
performed a FULFILLMENT of the POSITIVE COMMANDMENT to Sanctify God's name.
However, I don't believe the verse - speaking about SANCTIFICATION - is a
REQUIREMENT (vs. a FULFILLMENT) of Martyrdom. 

#2) Also: EVEN as Rabbi Weinreb, Akiva and Tal suggested, Martyrdom is Biblical,
that still doesn't change my thesis that MINYAN is RABBINIC. There is nothing
Biblical about saying the prayers Borechu, Kedusah, and Kaddish.

#3) My STRONGEST argument that Martyrdom is Rabbinic is the fact that it is done
under duress. Moral obligation and helplessness don't mix well.

#4) The citation that Akiva asked for is below. You can see from the numerous
layers of the Talmud that the whole subject appears very iffy. This is
SUPPORTIVE of my view.

#5) While I am on the subject of Martyrdom: I also thank Dr Backon (MJ 58#98)
for his erudite list of authorities on this subject. As Dr. Backon correctly
points out, while I am approaching this theoretically, in Israel it is a very
real day to day question. My problem with Dr. Backon's long list is that REASONS
are frequently absent in these citations OR if reasons are present they are
usually in the form of citations from primary sources (e.g. Talmud) which in
turn also lacks REASONS.

Don't get me wrong: If you want to arrive at a final decision you need to know
the literature. BUT: I think in something as serious as termination of life we
should backup our decisions with reasons.

My RATIONALE is that MARTYRDOM occurs in an environment of helplessness and
THEREFORE moral obligation is not a moral category. 

CITATION FROM SONCINO DAVKA CD: Sanhedrin 73a, English translation (Footnotes

R. Johanan said in the name of R. Simeon b. Jehozadak: By a majority vote, it
was resolved in the upper chambers of the house of Nithza in Lydda18 that in
every [other] law of the Torah, if a man is commanded: 'Transgress and suffer
not death' he may transgress and not suffer death, excepting idolatry, incest,
[which includes adultery] and murder.19 Now may not idolatry be practised [in
these circumstances]? Has it not been taught: R. Ishmael said: whence do we know
that if a man was bidden, 'Engage in idolatry and save your life', that he
should do so, and not be slain? From the verse, [Ye shall therefore keep my
statutes and my judgements,' which if a man do] he shall live in them:20 but not
die by them. I might think that it may even be openly practised. but Scripture
teaches, Neither shall ye profane my holy name; but I will be hallowed?'21 -
They22 ruled as R. Eliezer. For it has been taught, R. Eliezer said: And thou
shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, and with
all thy might.23 Since 'with all thy soul' is stated, why is 'with all thy
might' stated? Or if 'with all thy might' be written, why also write 'with all
thy soul'? For the man to whom life is more precious than wealth, 'with all thy
soul' is written;24 whilst he to whom wealth is more precious than life is
bidden, 'with all thy might' [i.e., substance].25

Incest and murder [may not be practised to save one's life], - even as Rabbi's
dictum. For it has been taught: Rabbi said, For as when a man riseth against his
neighbour, and slayeth him, even so is this matter.26 But what do we learn from
this analogy of a murderer? Thus, this comes to throw light and is itself
illumined. The murderer is compared to a betrothed maiden: just as a betrothed
maiden must be saved [from dishonour] at the cost of his [the ravisher's] life,
so in the case of a murderer, he [the victim] must be saved at the cost of his
[the attacker's] life. Conversely, a betrothed maiden is compared to a murderer:
just as one must rather be slain than commit murder, so also must the betrothed
maiden rather be slain than allow her violation. And how do we know this of
murder itself? - It is common sense. Even as one who came before Raba27 and said
to him, 'The governor of my town has ordered me, "Go and kill so and so; if not,
I will slay thee"'. He answered him, 'Let him rather slay you than that you
should commit murder; who knows that your blood is redder? Perhaps his blood is

When R. Dimi came,29 he said: This was taught only if there is no royal
decree,30 but if there is a royal decree, one must incur martyrdom rather than
transgress even a minor precept. When Rabin came, he said in R. Johanan's name:
Even without a royal decree, it was only permitted in private; but in public one
must be martyred even for a minor precept rather than violate it. What is meant
by a 'minor precept'? - Raba son of R. Isaac said in Rab's name:

Russell Jay Hendel; Ph.D., A.S.A. http://www.Rashiyomi.com


End of Volume 59 Issue 1