Volume 59 Number 18 
      Produced: Mon, 06 Sep 2010 04:09:33 EDT

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Galitsyaner Gaonim 
    [Ira L. Jacobson]
going to church and more 
    [Ira L. Jacobson]
HOMOSEXUALITY - lesbianism, prohibitions, chemical tests, hard wiring, 
    [Lisa Liel]
In today's world with today's sensibilities 
    [Carl Singer]
TOAYVAH - enough - The prohibition of being oriented homosexually 
    [Russell J Hendel]


From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Mon, Sep 6,2010 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Galitsyaner Gaonim

Mark Steiner stated the following (MJ 59#17):

> I did a little search on the Mishnah Berurah, to see whether he 
> indeed quotes the Shoel Umeishiv.  I included also R. Shlomo Kluger, 
> "Gaon of Brody."  I found that I owe the Chofetz Chaim z"l an 
> apology before Rosh Hashanah, because he cites the former around 10 
> times and also makes use of R. Shlomo Kluger's writings, as he 
> should.  I didn't find a single citation from the Divrei Chaim, however.

I do recall seeing attributes to the Divrei Hayyim, but I was told 
that the reference was to a DIFFERENT Divrei Hayyim.  I don't have 
the source at hand just now,.



From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Sat, Sep 4,2010 at 04:01 PM
Subject: going to church and more

In 1969, a regular attendee at Rav Soloveichik's Motza'ei Shabbat 
shi'ur in Boston passed away.  He was very close personally to the 
Rav.  He also was the clergyman of a Conservative congregation.

The funeral was held at his congregation, and was attended by 
hundreds.  The Rav paid his respects by standing outside the building 
and not going in.  His position on the Conservative movement was well 
known.  His position lehavdil on Xtianity was also well known.

I do not believe that he would have entered a Xtian church under any 
circumstances.  (Which is the link to the Subject line above.)

A hint appears in Reproach, Recognition and Respect: Rabbi Joseph B. 
Soloveichik and Orthodoxy's Mid-Century Attitude Toward Non-Orthodox 
Denominations, American Jewish History - Volume 89, Number 2, June 
2001, pp. 193-214

See also:
Norman Lamm, Seventy Faces, Moment Vol. II, No. 6 June 1986-Sivan 5746

Mayer E. Rabinowitz Comments to the Agunot Conference in Jerusalem, July 1998.

Louis Bernstein The Emergence of the English Speaking Orthodox 
Rabbinate, 1977, Yeshiva University

Emmanuel Rackman, letter in 
<http://en.wikivisual.com/index.php/The_Jewish_Week>The Jewish Week 
May 8, 1997, page 28.

Joseph Soloveichik, Orthodox, Conservative and Reform Jews in the 
United States: Second article in a series on Responsa of Orthodox 
Judaism in the United States, 1954

Jack Wertheimer, Ed., Tradition Renewed: A History of the Jewish 
Theological Seminary of America, Vol. II, p.450, 474, JTS, NY, 1997

Proceedings of the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards of the 
Conservative Movement 1927-1970, Vol. II, Ed. David Golinkin, The 
Rabbinical Assembly, 1997



From: Lisa Liel <lisa@...>
Date: Mon, Aug 30,2010 at 10:01 AM
Subject: HOMOSEXUALITY - lesbianism, prohibitions, chemical tests, hard wiring,

Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...> wrote (MJ 59#07):

> 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.

The question mark after "full" is certainly appropriate.  It 
might have been more accurate to have said, "Certain lesbian 
relations" are forbidden.  ("Female lesbian" is redundant as 
well.)  And the translation "women climbing one on another" for 
"nashim ha-mesollelot" is really awful.  Rashi says that "mesollelet" 
means imitating heterosexual intercourse.  And in fact, the Gemara 
uses the term not only for the lesbian act that's forbidden; it also 
uses it to describe imitating intercourse between a mother and her 
minor son.  There's more information, with sources, at 

> 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.

Actually, it would only follow that oral sex with any of the arayot 
-- the specific list of prohibited sexual activities defined 
halakhically as arayot, which does not include nashim ha-mesollelot - 
would be a prohibition.  But it's a little redundant to say so, since 
*any* intimate sexual contact between people who are prohibited from 
having intercourse with each other as arayot is forbidden.  Singling 
out oral sex seems a little arbitrary.

> 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).

Full relations are called "bi'ah".  This means penetrative 
intercourse.  Vaginal penetrative intercourse is referred to as 
"bi'ah k'darka" (ordinary bi'ah), while anal penatrative intercourse 
is referred to as "bi'ah she-lo k'darka" (un-ordinary bi'ah).  Oral 
sex is not bi'ah at all.

> 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).

Oral sex is no different than, say, kissing someone's shoulder in a 
sexual way, when it comes to the "nearness" you're talking 
about.  And there's a dispute between Rambam and Ramban over the 
question of whether "nearness" is prohibited from the Torah or is 
rabbinic.  But since "nearness" only applies to the arayot, and since 
nothing between two women is in that category, you can't extend the 
prohibition there.  In fact, doing so would be analogous to requiring 
tzitzit on a five cornered garment.  A classic violation of bal tosif 
(not adding onto prohibitions from the Torah).

> 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).

Rambam disagrees.  He argues that we are never commanded to *feel* 
certain things.  For example, he states that the commandment to love 
God means to *know* God, which we do by learning Torah.  He also 
avoids the concept of "believing" in God, and says that it is a 
positive commandment to *know* that God exists.

> 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).

"Mistreated"?  Do you mean that you think lesbians are lesbians 
because they were molested, or something?  Because I happen to know 
that's not the case.  I'm not saying that it might not be the case 
for some people, but it certainly isn't the rule.  Also, *no* 
orientation is biblically prohibited.  I don't know why lesbian 
orientation would be worthy of specific comment.

> However the Bible EXPLICITLY classifies homosexuality and bestiality 
> as ABOMINABLE (Lv18-22:23).

[The bible] just says that anal 
intercourse between men is an abomination.  [Where does it say that] male
homosexual orientation [is] an abomination?

> 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.

[I believe that] 3000 years of Torah disagrees with you,
unless you think you've discovered what Rav and Shmuel
and Ravina and Rav Ashi and Rashi  and Tosfot and Rambam
and Ramban and R' Yosef Karo were never able to 
figure it out.

> 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.

I think you need [are misunderstanding the term] bisexual [see

The halakhic category of "androginus" refers to hermaphroditism, or 

> 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.

Actually, 12 step programs claim that alcoholism *is* a disease, and that an
alcoholic can never stop being an alcoholic.  That the most he can do is refrain
from drinking one day at a time.  Hell, I've never even been to a 12 step group
and I know that.  If you talk to someone in Alcoholics Anonymous, they'll tell
you that they *never* lose the craving.  Not even after decades.

> Why can't society have a similar attitude toward homosexual orientation.

Since you're basing this on an erroneous notion of alcoholism, your argument
[does not follow].

> 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.

What does repentance have to do with *being* gay?

> 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).

But Russell, you believe that orientation can be changed, no?

Actually, it isn't my singleness that isn't tolerated, because I'm not single. 
It's my *non*-singleness that isn't tolerated.  Except, of course, when it is. 
I don't do stupid things like try to get a family membership at a shul, but
[some] people recognize the simple fact that we *are* a family.  Even if we are
far from the norm and default of families in Judaism.

> 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).

I don't want an aliya, so that's okay.  And I don't know what you mean by
"advertising".  [W]ould you actually consider inviting people for a meal 
to be "advertising"?

> The synagogue is our private golf club - we have a right to 
> encourage our own values and keep out or down unwanted elements.

[A]t my shul, we daven.  You must be very wealthy if you golf at yours.



From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Fri, Sep 3,2010 at 01:01 PM
Subject: In today's world with today's sensibilities

The several recent threads are providing both light and heat re:
understandably sensitive topics:  Homosexuality, Rape, Pederasty ....

As each of us is a generation further away from Sinai than our parents ....
We have a tradition of learning and building upon the understanding of prior
generations and especially ancient sources.    I submit that a polemic core
dump of centuries old quotations sheds little light until or unless properly
interpreted in light of today's sensibilities.

I believe of late we've gone far afield.  People are baring their souls re:
their personal life situations, traumas that they have suffered and we seem
to be responding badly.

Are we bear baiting or having reasonable discussions meant to achieve
halachic understanding?



From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
Date: Sun, Sep 5,2010 at 05:01 PM
Subject: TOAYVAH - enough - The prohibition of being oriented homosexually

Eithan - well said. I wasn't going to write on this now but seeing that someone
else is also tired of the pickiness let me chime in.

BEFORE I give proofs, let me give a summary: 

1) I offer a flexible interpretation of halacha. 
2) There IS a prohibition of sexual orientation. 
3) It IS contrary to Judaism to say that male sexual orientation is hard wired.
4) There are exceptions to the above but that doesn't justify some of the
biblical hair splitting going on.

OK. First things first. Both Eithan, Meir and Akiva are wrong in their approach.
You do NOT learn the meaning of a word by looking it up in a dictionary or
translation. You infer the meaning from context.

I in fact had a discussion off list with someone. I presented my methodology he
answered I rebutted etc. At the end, I saw I had to modify my position somewhat.
Why was the discussion off list? Because neither of us were insulting each
other, calling each other narrow minded or anything else. We were just
discussing chumash. Perhaps if we would discuss things on mail Jewish and not
get bogged down in name calling the discussions would flow (In passing: I have
been personally accused of siding with those who wish to undermine our mesorah
(tradition) when in fact I have spent my whole life doing the opposite. The
response of two people to a posting of mine was whether or not I had violated
slander laws. This is really contrary to mail Jewish netiquette and as Eithan
says, ENOUGH).

The real issue in ascertaining the meaning of Toayvah is its context. Lv 18
lists a dozen sexual prohibitions. Why does it single out just 2 - bestiality
and homosexuality (male) - as TOAYVAH. There must be something common to these
two. This IS THE QUESTION. If you don't answer it you haven't told me or
yourself what Toayvah means. My off list colleague suggested that these two have
in common that they are unions that can't give rise to children. Fair enough. It
is an honest attempt to understand the verse. By the way, this gives David Zohar
support --- (I am writing a separate posting for him). It shows the value of
family orientation. Anything without family orientation is toayvah.

But then I clicked a concordance and checked where else toayvah occurs. It
occurs with superstition, astrology etc. (In Deut). Aha! Also it occurs in
parallel to galal (dung) a euphemism for idolatry. Toayvah like galal is a word
connoting emotional repulsion. Yes IT MIGHT refer to situations where children
can't be born but that is not what it MEANS ... it MEANS emotional repulsion DUE
TO the unnaturality of the acts.

Let me go back to astrology and soothsaying. Now most people would laugh if told
they should base a business decision, a marital decision or any other serious
decision based on stars, time, or other superstitious acts. But suppose ... just
suppose you started ACTING on astrological advice. Suppose every time you won
you celebrated and every time you failed you expressed grief. After a time
period you WOULD BE ORIENTED astrologically. You would feel very uncomfortable
making a decision without going to your astrologer.  You would break out in
sweat and have physiological withdrawal symptoms. You weren't born this way but
you could make yourself this way. And this change is called toayvah.

In short this is the Jewish view that actions can precipitate emotions and
orientation. I disrespectfully remind the readership that some of our greatest
authorities held that orientation commandments DO exist --- you ARE commanded to
believe in God, love God, revere God etc. How? How do you this if you don't feel
it? Simple. Start acting that way and verbally reinforcing it. After a while the
orientation will follow. The fact that some authorities disagree doesn't give
anyone the right to erase the alternate opinion.

So quite bluntly Lv18-22:23 is very openly denying ANY naturality to
homosexuality or bestiality. Sure you can get used to it, depend on it, change
your brain chemistry and then turn around and say, "This is the way I am." But
the Torah denies this. You CHANGED yourself midcourse and had no right to do so.

Did I say NO RIGHT? That is correct. There is a prohibition.  There is a
commandment to BE HOLY. There is a commandment not to place a stumbling block
before the blind. These two commandments prohibit PLACING ONESELF IN SITUATIONS
THAT CHANGE ORIENTATION. Furthermore society has a right to fences. We have a
right to reserve words like husband wife and couple for heterosexual situations.

I am all for outreach to homosexuals. But if they come into my synagogue and
advertise themselves as a homosexual couple I want them apologizing or leaving.
I have a right to my own synagogue country club in which children see the values
we want them to see ... couple means man and woman ... family means man woman
and children.

And why have I gone so far. Because we are ignoring the message. Other people on
this group spoke about teenage conversations. I don't personally know these
people. But I myself have known a fair number of homosexuals. I know for a fact
that they started like the rest of us and changed. I also know of people who
repented. They are now happily married (As happily as heterosexual couples I know).

So there is a message here. Do you know a homosexual. Go and tell them that they
can return. That is a Jewish message. Maybe you know a teenager who broke up
with a girl and is acting depressed. Is he toying with homosocial tendencies. Is
he avoiding women. Now is the time to go and STOP him from changing his
orientation. Face it; there are all sorts of people out there. If he sends out
signals someone else will pick him up. Chesed (charity) includes helping people
who are suffering socially.

And if you continue to believe that orientation is inborn you will be violating
all the commandments requiring helping people. Charity doesn't just mean giving
money and meals. It includes giving jobs, finding spouses, and being there when
a person is temporarily down. It is a hallmark of American society to leave
people be themselves; it is a hallmark of Jewish society to help people who are
not themselves.

At this point it would be appropriate to thank those members of the list who
mentioned therapies that work for homosexuals.

Oh ... I said I was flexible. Well I am. I **have listened** to everyone. There
are people born with both sexual organs. I mentioned the possibility of chemical
tests. You see halacha does acknowledge certain rare exceptions and
scientifically I am aware how to check for it.  I wouldn't tell a bisexual
person they can change. 

But to say everyone is that way? That is being inflexible. There is no
scientific evidence for hardwiring. No one has found a homosexual gene. And we
all know of people (like the people I know) who were interested in women, got
rejected and started changing their orientation. How can anyone be so callous to
deny this.

I repeat what I said when this started. The 12 principles were a good beginning.
But they had 1-2 glaring omissions. It IS the job of the principles to call on
every orthodox synagogue to ostracize those couples who flagrantly insist on
calling themselves a couple. This is not the Jewish way. The 12 principles while
NOT REQUIRING certain therapies should have mentioned the unique principles of
teenage years - how we should be very sensitive to HOW THEY look at rejection.
Something people might laugh at 20 years from now might push them into a
different orientation now.

I again reiterate my understanding of American values. I uphold the executive
order requiring respect for homosexuals in the workplace. But that is all? There
are several states fighting requests for legal recognition of couple status.
What is everyone afraid of? That Obama will cut off all synagogue funding? Our
job as Americans is to lead not just to react and be sympathetic.

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


End of Volume 59 Issue 18