Volume 62 Number 47 
      Produced: Sun, 01 Feb 15 15:24:57 -0500

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

LGBT Rights (6)
    [Martin Stern  Eli Turkel  Harlan Braude  David Lee Makowsky  Steven White  Rabbi Meir Wise]
LGBT Rights (was The Rabbi As Moral Authority) 
    [Martin Stern]
Seating on planes 
    [Carl Singer]
Sex Ed for Chareidi Girls/Women (was LGBT Rights) (2)
    [Leah S. R. Gordon  Jeanette Friedman]
Teaching our children to grow up in a diverse world (Was LGBT Rights)  
    [Carl Singer]


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Thu, Jan 29,2015 at 05:01 AM
Subject: LGBT Rights

Harry Weiss wrote (MJ 62#46):

> Leah S. R. Gordon wrote (MJ 62#45):
>> To deny LGBT human beings their God-given rights to marriage, community,
>> basic humanity - this would be the true travesty, and I applaud the
>> politicians who see this as an agenda for "fundamental British values"
>> even from my position as a wayward colonist.  ;)
> I am shocked the editors allowed this.  G-d in his Holy Torah said their
> relationships are prohibited.  Any questioning of that is prohibited by the
> MJ charter.

While I agree with Harry's second sentence, I must disagree with the
remainder, since I assume that Leah did not mean "God-given rights to
marriage" implied acceptance of homosexual activity, though, admittedly,
that interpretation could be put on it. I should point out, however, that I
recused myself from moderating her submission at her request but I agree
with my colleagues that her views merited discussion though, perhaps, this
misleading word should have been modified.

Martin Stern

From: Eli Turkel <eliturkel@...>
Date: Thu, Jan 29,2015 at 05:01 AM
Subject: LGBT Rights

Rabbi Elazar M. Teitz wrote (MJ 62#46):

> Leah Gordon wrote (MJ 62#45):

>> When children learn that a certain kind of human being is "lesser" or
>> worthy of being ignored, bullied, marginalized - then those children grow
>> up to be bigoted adults who oppress others.

> This is a red herring.  The question is not one of ignoring, bullying or
> marginalizing; it is a question of whether an act the person performs is moral
> or immoral.  We consider chillul Shabbat to be immoral, and teach our children
> so.  This does not mean that we teach them to bully or marginalize m'chal'lei
> Shabbat.  Furthermore, just as we do not consider a person who has a strong
> desire to eat pork to be immoral, but do consider him such if he acts on that
> desire, so too we do not consider the person with homosexual desires (whether
> they be acquired or innate) to be immoral, but do deem him immoral if he acts 
> on that desire.

I think this is the crux of the issue. R Aharon Lichtenstein has pointed out
that from a halachic viewpoint a homosexual should be treated the same as we
treat a mechallel shabbat and one who eats nevelot and terefot. All are
prohibited and violating shabbat is in many ways the most severe. So while we
don't allow any of them, a homosexual should not be ostracized any more than a
mechallel shabbat. OTOH we certainly would not encourage gay parades.
Eli Turkel

From: Harlan Braude <hbraude@...>
Date: Thu, Jan 29,2015 at 09:01 AM
Subject: LGBT Rights

In MJ 62#46, Rabbi Elazar M. Teitz wrote:

> Ms. Gordon wrote (MJ 62#45):
>> To deny LGBT human beings their God-given rights to marriage, community,
>> basic humanity - this would be the true travesty.
> No one, of course, is denying anyone any of the rights listed.  But while the
> right to marry is Divinely given, the right to marry anyone one chooses is 
> most definitely _not_ a G-d-given right.  Is there any society, free or
> otherwise, that allows incestuous marriage -- even if the couple involved feel 
> that they cannot obtain sexual satisfaction in any other relationship?  
> Apparently, society does see fit to draw a line in these matters; the only 
> question is where that line is drawn.  

Sadly, society - at least the one we have here in NJ - is not nearly as 
reliable a gauge of morality as one might hope:


From: David Lee Makowsky <dmakowsk@...>
Date: Thu, Jan 29,2015 at 10:01 AM
Subject: LGBT Rights

IN MJ 62#45 Leah S. R. Gordon writes:

> To deny LGBT human beings their God-given rights to marriage

I would really love to see a halachic source showing such a right.  Every source
I am aware of is just the opposite.  In fact it is my personal opinion that
there is no such thing as gay marriage and there is nothing any court,
legislature or county clerk can do or say to change that.  A ruling by a court
or a law passed by a legislature supporting gay marriage would be the same as
one ordering "2 + 2 = 5", it is not real.  A certificate issued by a county
clerk of a gay marriage would be the same as a certificate showing "2 + 2 = 5"
or that unicorns exist.

The above having been said, I have two questions:

1. In Britain, is the legal basis for demanding LGBT rights be taught simply an
issue of the schools accepting government funds and if the schools were to
decline those funds would they no longer be compelled to teach LGBT rights?  Or
would they have to teach them regardless?

2. I seem to remember a couple years ago a British court ruled that religious
Jewish schools were not allowed to determine who is a Jew according to Jewish
law because that was discriminatory.  Does anyone know what I am referring to,
and if so could you please elaborate?

David Makowsky

From: Steven White <stevenj81@...>
Date: Thu, Jan 29,2015 at 09:01 PM
Subject: LGBT Rights

With all due respect, I think this whole discussion thread has the wrong

Has anyone besides me actually opened the Ofsted report?  I didn't see it as
being "doubletalk for not encouraging awareness of homosexuality" at all.
What I read there was that the students are ignorant of cultural groups and
norms that are not their own.  Period.  And I'm guessing that's probably
fairly accurate.  

In our schools and communities we intentionally shield our children from
what we see as the faults of the outside world.  The question of how much we
can and should shield them is a big, wide question without a simple answer.
But right, wrong, or somewhere in between, we do so.  And the result is that
Orthodox schools-nearly all of them, though haredi schools are somewhat
worse in this regard than Modern schools-are not very good at preparing
students to interact with the broader world around them.  The Ofsted report
says that, and it's right, to a great extent.

It's important to understand the context, too.  We Jews would (perhaps) just
like the authorities to leave us alone.  But many Muslim schools and their
communities not only want to be left alone, but want the entire outside
world to conform to their rules.  And some are willing to be antisocial and
even violent to make it so. You know, and I know, that outside Israel we
Jews would never go very far down this path.  But the authorities have no
way of knowing that.  And what happens with Jews in some parts of Israel
demonstrates that it would be easy enough for some of us to go down this
road, chas v'shalom, if we were given an opportunity.

What the British authorities want-and reasonably in my view-is that we teach
our students some measure of understanding and respect for the broader
community, even when we disagree with it.  To give an oversimplified
example:  We can (of course) teach students that the Torah forbids
homosexuality.  And we can encourage our children to get involved in the
political process to prevent the public condoning of homosexuality, if we
think that is appropriate.  At the same time, we must explicitly point out
to our children that the Torah does not therefore give us-or them-license to
be disrespectful.  We cannot be violent; we cannot yell out expletives (in
any language) if we pass a pair of men or a pair of women walking down the
street holding hands. 

So in my view, to call this "yehareg velo ya'avor" [die rather than transgress
--MOD] is out of line. What the authorities need, and for that matter, what I
want, is for us to educate our children in such a way that the 9th grade student
in question could honestly answer along the lines of, "No, I don't know any
homosexuals.  Homosexuality is against our religious teachings, so it is pretty
unusual for someone in this community to identify as homosexual. But, of course,
I am respectful to all people I should happen to meet, regardless of who they
are or what they believe or do."  

Above all, keep the following in mind.  Until the authorities no longer feel
that religious schools from insular communities are a threat to public
safety, the authorities will remain nervous.  And we had better figure out
what our response is going to be to that.

Steven White
Highland Park, NJ
(opinions stated are mine alone)

From: Rabbi Meir Wise <Meirhwise@...>
Date: Sun, Feb 1,2015 at 09:01 AM
Subject: LGBT Rights

In response to Ms Gordon (MJ 62#45):

Already in Genesis (5:2) we read: He created them male and female, and he blessed them and called them 

Male and female together are called "human" (Adam) not male and male or female and female. Nor do you 
have to be a great scientist to realise why.

The Rabbis of the Talmud were well aware of the Greco-Roman sexual practices. Nevertheless, we find in 
tractate Chullin 92a-b the following statement:

"'Ula said: Non-Jews [lit. Bnei Noach, the progeny of Noah] accepted upon themselves thirty mitzvot 
[divinely ordered laws] but they only abide by three of them: the first one is that they do not write marriage 
documents for male couples, the second one is that they don't sell dead [human] meat by the pound in 
stores and the third one is that they respect the Torah.'" 

If the non-Jews legalised cannibalism, bestiality and incest would Ms Gordon advocate that they be taught 
in Jewish schools as an alternative lifestyle? Dare I ask...if not, why not?

Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them. And all the people shall say, Amen. 
(Deut 27:26)

Rabbi Meir Wise

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Thu, Jan 29,2015 at 05:01 AM
Subject: LGBT Rights (was The Rabbi As Moral Authority)

Susan Kane wrote (MJ 62#46):

> [Pope Francis] does not view homosexual desire as a theological problem.
> Expression of that desire is contrary to Catholic doctrine but since that is
> perfectly clear, he doesn't feel the need to emphasize it. He has specifically
> said that he feels that the Church is "obsessed" with sexual issues (not in a
> good way)...

If I am not much mistaken, this is one point on which Judaism agrees - that
it is homosexual practices that are an abomination, NOT people with innate
homosexual tendencies, provided they manage to control them.

Martin Stern


From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Thu, Jan 29,2015 at 07:01 AM
Subject: Seating on planes

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 62#46):

> This could easily be solved if El Al made available the facility, when
> booking, to ask not to be seated next to someone of the opposite sex
> (some ladies might also take up this option).

This isn't a software problem and will not be solved by expanding the
preferences one provides upon booking a flight.

I don't want to sit next to a loud, foul-smelling, noisy eater.  Also, since I
am right handed, I don't want a lefty sitting on my immediate right (this
preference applies to seating at weddings as well as on airplanes).

A favorite story of mine -- which to my family's regret I've told many times --
in 1970-71 when I was a young soldier, I would fly home using a "military
standby" ticket. It was one priority above "student standby."  I'd show up at
the airport in uniform and hope for the best.  Invariably I end up in the last
row of the smoking section in a middle seat. The two parties on either side of
me having raised the arm rests and settled in (should I say expanded)  thinking
that the seat between them was empty. I'd board just before takeoff and squeeze
in between the two chimneys in what might resemble a fetal position (I am, btw,
a non-smoker).

I learned to buy a brand of cigar -- "rum soaked crooks" -- awful tasting, awful
smelling, 5 for a quarter smokes. I'd light one of these up and start puffing 
-- I don't smoke but can certainly puff up a cloud --  and soon my middle seat
had "expanded" in that the parties on either side of me were leaning away.

No doubt software could be devised so passengers could specify don't sit me next
to a soldier who's smoking rum soaked crooks. Or is it -- don't seat a soldier
who's smoking rum soaked crooks next to me. There's a not too subtle difference
in the two above statements.

Back to the case at hand.  Who has more rights, the woman who has booked a
flight and hopes for a safe and pleasant journey or the individual who objects
to sitting next to her?

Carl Singer


From: Leah S. R. Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Thu, Jan 29,2015 at 08:01 AM
Subject: Sex Ed for Chareidi Girls/Women (was LGBT Rights)

I'm aware that my views on LGBT Rights are generally not shared by the M.J
community.  Fine, let us agree to disagree.  

However, I must reply to Elazar M. Teitz who wrote (MJ 62#46):

> Ms. Gordon concludes
>> [I]t would be only to the good if more Chareidim, particularly girls,
>> received accurate sex education and sexuality education, from as young an age
>> as possible.  When girls are 'married off' barely out of adolescence, with
>> little understanding of their own bodies, much less of boys' bodies, it's not
>> a recipe for a healthy adult female sexuality.
> Perhaps -- but one of the results of current non-Jewish education is the
> prevalence of sexual activity among the adolescents who receive it.  When was
> the last time we heard of a pregnant Bais Yaakov undergraduate?

This is an intriguing question, because of course we do not often hear of
this - however, it is extremely well-documented that among
"abstinence-only" sex-educated teens, pregnancy rates are far higher than
among kids who get full sex education.  I am intrigued about why there is a
difference.  I conclude that the B"Y girls are very cloistered, not that
they are more educated.

> And apparently Ms. Gordon is unaware of the fact that virtually all Chareidi
> girls are given sex education prior to marriage, in a form known as kalla
> classes, which generally include not only the laws of Tahorat hamishpacha
> [family purity], but also explain the physical aspects of human sexuality. So
> long as this education precedes marriage, what is the harm in deferring it 
> until that time, and what is the benefit of introducing it earlier, when -- as we 
> see in public education -- it could lead to improper experimentation?

Not only am I not "unaware" of this, but I have taken such a class before
my own marriage, and done extensive research on the contents of these
classes for subsequent studies.  Although I am not, nor have ever been,
Chareidi, the only "kalla class" local to where I was, was given by a
Chareidi rebbetzin and I went in with no preconceived biases, in case you
are thinking anything else.  My subsequent research was, of course, from a
feminist perspective.

So let's examine the idea of this "kalla class" - books and articles and
evidence and stories from women themselves - all support that most Chareidi
women do not get even the basics:  women are not taught, for example, the
names of sexual organs.  I read an interview of a Chareidi woman who didn't know
that women could orgasm until after her third child - which is appalling to

Furthermore, there is so much more than the "physical aspects of human
sexuality" if what you mean by that is a description of intercourse.  I
understand that young men are taught more about sexual pleasure, including
for women, but I have not sat in on such a class (!).

In modern "classes" for Chareidi pre-wed young adults, the male orgasm is
essentially a sacrament (i.e. ejaculation to make babies).  The female
orgasm is at best a little-understood afterthought.  This is not a recipe
for healthy marriages or sexuality.

Finally, I feel that it is a big mistake to leave women's sex education
until immediately before their weddings.  Anyone who thinks that women
wouldn't think of such things long before, is mistaken, and "improper
experimentation" is far more likely among the ignorant than the educated.
A woman distracted by a wedding, physical contact being imminent with her
groom, the possibility of babies, etc. - is much less likely to be in a
mental space to learn what she needs to about how her own body works.  And
don't forget, as soon as a young woman gets her first period, she needs to
know a whole lot about her anatomy to handle things in a healthy way.

--Leah S. R. Gordon

From: Jeanette Friedman <friedman.jeanette@...>
Date: Sun, Feb 1,2015 at 06:01 AM
Subject: Sex Ed for Chareidi Girls/Women (was LGBT Rights)

In response to Rabbi Elazar Teitz (MJ 62#46):

As to that bit about Beis Yaakov girls not coming home preggers...Even in the
mid-60s before sex education, some girls were doing the naughties, especially in
the summer - and would disappear from class for months at a time, if they came
back at all, or there would be a few early marriages.

The issue here is that these kids are being hormonally challenged. And when the
hormones are raging in puberty is when those things need to be addressed. They
are not blind to popular culture, but they also need to learn how to cope with
the challenges of peer pressure as well as their own bodies, especially if they
are gender conflicted.


From: Carl Singer <carl.singer@...>
Date: Thu, Jan 29,2015 at 07:01 AM
Subject: Teaching our children to grow up in a diverse world (Was LGBT Rights) 

I always harken back to a very wise statement by Rabbi Chaim Wasserman, Rabbi
Emeritus of the Young Israel of Passaic-Clifton :

> Wie es chriselt so judelt es auch [What goes on in the community at large
> goes on in the Jewish Community]. 

We live in a diverse world which is both wonderful and dangerous -- physically
dangerous at times and morally dangerous as well.

As parents / grandparents / educators there is a spectrum of responses to
the above statement. These range from denial to action.  Actions in turn may
include shielding our children from certain aspects of the world to teaching
them about same.

Both ends of this shield / teach spectrum have shortcomings -- as is the
case with most extreme solutions.

I recently received an email that here, in the holy city of Passaic, NJ, an
office has opened to provide a special service where one can bring in their
computer or smart phone and special blocking software will be installed to
preclude any questionable websites.   This email noted that this is the 29th
such office to be established (nationwide?). This is, essentially, an attempt to
provide a shield.

I must mention as an aside -- that someone in our community complained that
the front page of the tabloids that are displayed in "Take one Free" kiosks
are suggestive. (Usually, an actress wearing suggestive clothing.)  -- From the
tone of the complaint, I was tempted to ask if the writer had checked them ALL out.

If I may interject a mild example:  You likely do not want your children to grow
up as smokers.  As they walk down the street they will likely see a public
transit bus that is festooned with colorful and enticing advertisements for

Build a better mouse trap and a smarter mouse will survive.  (We see this with
anti-bacterials -- a field which I know nothing about.)  i.e, shields are not
foolproof or completely effective.

A few weeks ago before davening I ridiculed the above "shield" effort in casual
conversation with a long time friend -- stating  that shields don't work and
that our children will hear and see things that we as parents would rather they
did not hear and see -- a bystander took great umbrage declaring that things are
different now, not like when my wife and I were raising our children (our
youngest is 24),

Given my premise that the shield is not 100% certain -- that inevitably our
children will encounter phenomenon that we wish they did not encounter, I favor

Rhetorically:  Should we not prepare our children to deal with these phenomena
in a sensible, age appropriate, Torah-guided way.

Carl Singer


End of Volume 62 Issue 47