Volume 59 Number 07 
      Produced: Mon, 30 Aug 2010 07:38:40 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

"Statement of Principles" regarding homosexuality (2)
    [Eliezer Shemtov  Michael Rogovin]
Assumptions about homosexual behavior? 
    [Leah S.R. Gordon]
Genetic origin of Homosexuality 
    [Marilyn Tomsk]
Heat, light and halacha 
    [Menashe Elyashiv]
Homosexual cures 
    [Eitan Fiorino]
HOMOSEXUALITY - lesbianism, prohibitions, chemical tests, hard wiring, 
    [Russell J Hendel]
Psalm 27 
    [Sammy Finkelman]


From: Eliezer Shemtov <shemtov@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 25,2010 at 05:01 PM
Subject: "Statement of Principles" regarding homosexuality

Susan Kane <suekane@...> wrote (MJ 59#05):

> My reading of my personal data set is that almost all of the men and some
> of the women experience their sexual orientation as immutable.
> ...
> Before everyone decides that they know the answer, I suggest that they look
> not to modern science and not to psychologists and not to gay activists but
> simply to the lived experience of honest frum people who have struggled with 
> this issue.
> And if I had met tens or even one frum gay man who told me that he was able
> to change his sexual orientation - I would say so.
> ...
> If I saw evidence that exclusively gay men could change their sexuality, I
> would be the first to say so.  I'm not afraid of scientific evidence that
> contradicts the gay rights movement.  I just don't think the evidence is there.

I humbly ask:

1.  Do you think the minyan that overcame their orientaion would identify
themselves publicly?

2. Was Arthur Goldberg's Light in the Closet discussed on this forum?

Eliezer Shemtov

From: Michael Rogovin <mrogovin118@...>
Date: Fri, Aug 27,2010 at 11:01 AM
Subject: "Statement of Principles" regarding homosexuality

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 59#04):

> What I do find objectionable is that some gay activists seem to expect us
> to publicly acknowledge homosexuality as a 'legitimate alternative
> lifestyle'.

A recent article in the NY Jewish Week profiles American olim [immigrants to
Israel] who are creating an English counterpart to a Hebrew website of the
group Bat Kol, an organization supporting orthodox lesbians in Israel. The
article featured a photo of the profiled women marching in the gay pride
parade in Jerusalem. While providing support and guidance to orthodox gays
is commendable, public displays of "pride", accompanied by others whose
agenda is contrary to orthodoxy and whose public behavior and dress is an
affront to orthodoxy does little to garner sympathy or support from me or
those of us who would be most likely to be supportive. For both gays and
straights in the frum world, sexuality is a private and not public affair. I
don't have a straight pride parade, not because I don't have to, but because
I don't want to. I am not "proud" of being straight, it is just part of what
I am. But just as I object to public heterosexual behavior, I think the same
rules should apply to homosexuals, and they should find allies among the
orthodox, not among the secular gay activists, whose agenda is contrary to
ours. It is true, that symbolically I can publicly "parade" my married with
children status, but the fact is that orthodoxy is not going to accept gay
couples as families, whether or not they have children. To think otherwise
is foolish, as the statement of principles makes clear. (I also found the
statements by Bat Kol leaders that the halachic issues were secondary to be
problematic -- halacha must be front and center, a primary issue, for any
organization that calls itself orthodox.)

Michael Rogovin


From: Leah S.R. Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 25,2010 at 02:01 PM
Subject: Assumptions about homosexual behavior?

> N. Yaakov Ziskind <awacs@...> wrote (MJ 58#99):

> Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...> wrote (MJ 58#96):
>> You never can prove such things: But the following may be of support: a)
>> Homsexuality was common in the Roman underworld b) The physical
>> discussions in the river about "looks" sound very peculiar between two 
>> naked men, c) if Resh Lakish did not threaten him sexually why would Rabbi 
>> Jochanan be SO insulted many years later as to want him dead.
> As I recall (from reading Meam Loez), Resh Lakish told Rabbi Yochanan,
> "Use your good looks for women." Hardly sounds like something a homosexual
> would say.

 On the contrary, consider two men attracted to each other, in flirtatious
 banter - one says to the other, "use your smarts for good things [Torah]"
 and the other says back, "use your beauty for women [instead of flirting
 with me and kind of being hostile about how I apply my various skills]".  It
 sounds totally believable to me.  Non-M.J commentators, as I've mentioned,
 frequently discuss the interplay between RY and RL as flirtatious,
 homoerotic if not more.

 HOWEVER, let me take this opportunity to say to Dr. Hendel that I am
 totally revolted by his assertion that because RL may have been gay, that he
 must have been a sexual *aggressor*!  This buys into the worst stereotypes,
 straight men fearing becoming sexually passive/"womanish" perhaps?  I.e. the
 ridiculous idea that a gay man is interested in violating straight men
 rather than having consensual relationships with other gay men.  The vast
 majority of violence between gay and straight men is the other direction:
 beating and yes, rapes, of gay men - by straight men.

 For this reason, I slightly recant my statement that Dr. Hendel was not
 slandering RL; the slander happened, but it was about being a sexual
 aggressor, not about being gay.

 In this context, I think Dr. Hendel could be on to something, but the
 intense later-in-life bitterness between RY and RL could be from a failed
 *romance* not any kind of victimization.  That is also more consistent with
 the sister marriage piece of the story.

--Leah S. R. Gordon


From: Marilyn Tomsk <jtomsky@...>
Date: Thu, Aug 26,2010 at 10:01 AM
Subject: Genetic origin of Homosexuality

I remember reading a few years ago about gene heritage of homosexuality.  That
these people were born with an extra gene and how it affected them.  It was
noted in certain athletics when tested for gene identification with the
knowledge available at that time.  Something along the lines of "XXY" for a male
or "XXX" for a female.  The extra "X" chromosomes.  I don't remember if there
was an extra "Y" like "XYY."  I do remember that there was a difficulty in some

If it was inherited and/or created before birth, then I can't see how this can
be restrained in a person.  It is natural for that person.  Just like inheriting
brown or blue eyes and blonde or dark hair - it is a part of a person and can
not be changed.  You can dye your hair and wear contacts but the reality is
always there.  It is not a mental disease but a birth trait.  Just because we
don't like it or find it different from the majority of us, doesn't mean that it
is abnormal.  We naturally perceive it to be traif in the Torah according to
God.  But that is how we perceive it - as something unnatural and thus wrong. 
Perhaps we are wrong.  How do we know?  What if we are wrong?  If not then why
was it created?  There has to be a reason why there are so many variants of
people and they are allowed by God to live and even procreate.  We cannot all be
the same.  There must be a reason for the difference.  

In fashion/style or art or hairdressing or poetry or literature these people
have a greater sensitivity and perception to art, than the average person.  They
are very creative and even brilliant in their creations.  Their creations have
affected all of us and our lives, our thinking.  They change us.  Sometimes in
positive ways.  A greater depth then we perceive.  We can object to the sexual
trait and wish to change them or believe that they can change, but just as when
free from the six months of imprisonment the dogs returned to their natural
movement, homosexuals are created to this difference.  It is that, that we have
a difficulty understanding and accepting.

Marilyn Tomsky


From: Menashe Elyashiv <Menashe.Elyashiv@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 25,2010 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Heat, light and halacha

The Hazon Ish was against using the jewish producted electricity on 
Shabbat. His brother in law, the Stiepler, and his son Reb Haim, do not 
use even a generator. They said that there should be one house in Bnei 
Brak that uses nothing, so that people should see and know that using 
Shabbat electricity is a problem. Reb Haim, and his beit midrash, light 
"luksim" (gas lamps) for Friday night. 

This Shabbat was very very hot. Bnei Brak is very moist, Shabbat clothes 
and wool Talit, etc, etc. A eldery man passed out, and after Shabbat R. 
Haim asked the man's doctor why. The doctor said because of the heat, and 
R. Haim said that if one person suffers from it, then they should put air 
conditioners that work on the generator. 

Well, it takes time, but things do change


From: Eitan Fiorino <afiorino@...>
Date: Fri, Aug 27,2010 at 04:01 PM
Subject: Homosexual cures

Jeanette  Friedman <FriedmanJ@...> wrote (MJ 59 #02):

> In most cases, homosexuality is a physical condition caused in the womb by
> hormonal changes. There are even people who because of these hormonal 
> washes early in a mother's pregnancy born with both sets of sexual organs,
> and  parents and doctors have to decide what to do about that. There are
> men trapped in women's bodies and women trapped in men's bodies. This is a 
> scientific fact proven by X-rays, cat scans and other medical procedures, 
> and in many cases, these people are surgically corrected and when they are 
> adults, you might never know if they started life as a member of the 
> opposite sex.

I think it is very important not to confuse homosexuality with specific genetic
conditions that result in trans- or inter-gendered phenotypes (ie, bodies), of
which there are many varieties.  Homosexuality is not caused by exposure to a
particular hormonal environment during gestation.  The relationship between
sexual preference and physical gender is extremely complicated and cannot be
explained by exposure to testosterone or estrogen.  Moreover, gender
reassignment surgery in intersexed individuals can be very dicey - there are
reports, some well known, of people switching genders after having been
surgically assigned a gender early in infancy.  It is very difficult to make
generalizations about these things.

I think that to support Jeanette's point that sexual preference is not merely a
matter of will, one need only look at the testimony offered for example in the
film Trembling Before God, in which it is clear that for many, the fervent
hope/wish/desire to be heterosexual does not impact their sexual orientation, no
matter how hard they try and what steps they take.



From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Sun, Aug 29,2010 at 09:01 PM
Subject: HOMOSEXUALITY - lesbianism, prohibitions, chemical tests, hard wiring,

Several new ideas emerged in the last few postings on homosexuality. I thought I
would respond to all of them together. The issues include A) LESBIANISM, B)
Enumeration of PROHIBITIONS, C) CHEMICAL tests, D) HARD WIRING, E) Judaism's
FAMILY orientation, f) Akiva's example.  Let me go over each of these briefly.


Lisa is correct. Only full male homosexual relations carry a (theoretical) death
penalty. Lesbianism (in any form) carries neither a death penalty nor a CUT OFF
punishment. See further details below.


Since we have been talking a great deal about this subject we might enumerate
the prohibitions.

1) Full male homosexual relations carry a death penalty and a CUT OFF punishment.

2) Full(?) female lesbian relations are a violation of a general negative
prohibition (Lv18-03 "Don't do according to the practices of the Egyptians and
Canaanites" which as Rambam (Forbidden Intercourses) explains includes "women
climbing one on another"). There is no lash penalty for this.

3) Oral sex: To fully understand that this at least entails a violation of a
negative prohibition let us review the structure of Lev 18. Lv18-06 has an
introductory phrase: "Don't go NEAR a relative TO uncover nakedness"
Lv 18 continues with about a dozen verses prohibiting "Uncovering nakedness"
(Male homosexuality is included). Stylistically almost all the verses state,
"Don't uncover nakedness"; but Lv18-19 stylistically deviates by stating, "To a
woman who is menstruating don't go NEAR TO uncover her nakedness". Both the
introductory verse, Lv18-06 and Lv18-19 vs. the other Lv18 verses place an
emphasis on UNCOVERING and GOING NEAR.

Hence the Rambam states "Any act with BENEFIT FROM NEARNESS of FLESH or HUGGING"
is a violation of a negative prohibition. Rambam speaks about "intercourse by
organs" Perhaps he is speaking about oral sex. It would therefore follow that
oral sex with any prohibited sexual entity is a violation of a negative
prohibition. However some people I have discussed this with point out it is not
clear: Perhaps oral sex is a form of UNNATURAL SEX. It would then follow that
vaginal, anal and oral sex are classified as full relations (If anyone can
clarify this for me I would appreciate it).

It follows that oral sex between males is at least a violation of negative
prohibition. I would assume that oral sex among lesbians is treated similarly
but it is possible that it is only rabbinic (Again clarification would be welcome).

People frequently point out that Ramban disagrees with the above. But no one has
ever clarified to me what Ramban DOES WITH THE VERSES. True, he says that
Lv18-06 is "an introductory phrase" But that doesn't explain the contrast
between Lv18-19 and the rest of Lv. Offhand, Ramban and Rambam might disagree on
whether a passionate good night kiss is a violation of a negative prohibition
but would agree that something more serious like oral sex is biblically prohibited.

At any rate oral sex is definitely prohibited under Jewish law. If anyone would
clarify the various issues I have raised I would appreciate it.

4) Orientation: I will argue below that we are being misled by psychology.
However I first clarify that the Bible does (according to many opinions) ORDER
ORIENTATIONS. We are ordered to BELIEVE in God, to LOVE God, etc. A person who
does not believe in God or does not Love God has violated a biblical
commandment. Jewish psychology DOES believe that you can change your orientation
(More on that below).

But let us get back to male/female sexual orientation. First to answer Lisa:
There is no Biblical verse indicating that lesbian orientation is unnatural.
Consequently I don't consider such orientation a violation of any Biblical
imperative (However as an individual I personally believe that women with
lesbian orientations have been mistreated causing their condition).

However the Bible EXPLICITLY classifies homosexuality and bestiality as
ABOMINABLE (Lv18-22:23). I believe this refers to orientation. It could not
refer to moral reprehensiveness since e.g. incest with family members is worse.
I believe the Bible is making a scientific pronouncement on the naturality of
male homosexual orientation. True, the person so oriented hasn't violated
anything; but they can't use an "I am hard wired" argument to excuse their
orientation. They are obligated to change.

Jeanette brought up the issue of people born with both sexual organs. True (as
she was rebutted) this is not that common. But Jeanette implicitly raises the
possibility of a chemical test. A person orientations should have ALWAYS had
certain levels of male and female hormones (Note the complication that actions
can cause chemical imbalances). At any rate I have never seen this approach
pursued. It is relatively easy to measure such chemical presences. NOTE: Jewish
law does not allow bi-sexual people to marry either men or women (Because of
their doubtful status). They can't even marry other bi-sexual people. I don't
know much about this topic - it is rare but it is also unexplored.

Several posters have mentioned therapy schools that "cure" orientation. I have
argued above that Judaism requires this. I tried to find an analogy. I think
alcoholism will do.

Let us consider: A person may not have a great desire for alcohol or oriented
male homosexually. Through fooling around (at a wild party) he may end up
drinking too much and/or have a mild homosexual incident. At this point his
temptations are higher. He may then go on and pursue them. A year or two later
he is ORIENTED to craving alcohol (an emotion) and ORIENTED sexually towards
males. The point of my analogy is that he was not born this way. He is not hard
wired. Rather he LEARNED the behavior. Even if you don't believe (like me) that
ALL male homosexuality is hard wired can I get an admission that some is learned.

Now let us consider society. Society USE to consider alcoholism a disease, an
evil orientation. Now it no longer does. There are well-known 12-point programs.
A person can go back. He will stop drinking so much. If he continues enough he
will also change is orientation and lose his cravings. 

Why can't society have a similar attitude toward homosexual orientation. What am
I asking for. I am asking for EQUAL THERAPY ACCESS. If you write principles that
some homosexuals are hard wired why not SIMULTANEOUSLY acknowledge that some
orientation is learned though unfortunate childhood incidents AND THEY CAN BE
UNLEARNED. Why not tell practicing homosexuals WHERE they can go for such
therapies and what the success rates are. In short why are WE imposing our
BELIEFS in hard wiring on ALL homosexuals seeing that some wish to repent of
both action and orientation.

To reiterate: I was shocked that the 12 principles omitted a cardinal pillar of
Biblical and Talmudic Judaism, repentance. I would in fact urge them to rewrite
the principles to reflect this.

E) Judaism's Family Orientation
Susan Kane made a beautiful point (also in the principles): Judaism is a family
oriented religion. Even if the orientation of people like Lisa is tolerated, her
single-ness is not tolerated.  And that is a current Jewish problem. (NOTE:
Jewish law sides with Lisa---women have NO obligation to get married - it is
just that society is ORIENTED that way).

I go back to what I said was missing in the 12 principles. I wanted the
principles, instead of coping out, to explicitly ENCOURAGE low levels of
ostracization (yes they can become members, but they can't advertise themselves
as a couple, they can't get aliyoth, they can't officiate before the
congregation).  The synagogue is our private golf club - we have a right to
encourage our own values and keep out or down unwanted elements. We all have
children that we have to set examples for. The principles don't tell us HOW to
enforce our values. Telling us "let them be members but keep values of family
life and enforce these on your own" is double talk. Unless we CLEARLY know HOW
we enforce contradictory values the principles have not met their goal.

Several points can be made. What Akiva says about science is true. Certain
schools of psychological thought DO NOT REQUIRE statistical trends - interviews
and case histories are sufficient to establish science.

BUT---Akiva has not done that. Why did his friend have homosexual orientation.
Akiva didn't even ask him. Did his friend grow up in a home with strong
man-woman feelings. If not how is his friend suppose to know what such a
relationship is like. More importantly was his friend exaggerating. Perhaps he
exaggerated his feelings to see if Akiva felt that way (Maybe he was
propositioning Akiva). To make a long story short: Single cases are ok but you
have to interview properly and that was not done here.To reiterate what I said
above: We have to explore the environment before we blame any genes (and I don't
believe the Torah allows blaming genes in this case)

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


From: Sammy Finkelman <sammy.finkelman@...>
Date: Wed, Aug 25,2010 at 06:01 PM
Subject: Psalm 27

Fay Berger wrote (MJ 58#91):

> The "Shilo Prayer Book" "Shilo Publishing House,Inc." New York  has
> "L'Dovid" after "Shacharis' and "Mincha" from the first day of the
> month of "Elul" till the day following "Shmini Atzeres."

My Siddue Shilo says Shacharis and Maariv and says till Shimini
Atzeres. (page 110 Sixth Edition latest copyright date, 1988. And it
is Maariv


End of Volume 59 Issue 7