Volume 62 Number 48 
      Produced: Sun, 08 Feb 15 02:05:56 -0500

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

LGBT Rights (5)
    [Martin Stern  Martin Stern  Orrin Tilevitz  Frank Silbermann  Chaim Casper]
Question for parents of Parsha Pinchas bar/bat mitzva kids 
    [Joel Wiesen]
Seating on planes (2)
    [Immanuel Burton  Martin Stern]
Sex-education for Men (was Sex Ed for Chareidi Girls/Women) 
    [Irwin Weiss]


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Feb 1,2015 at 04:01 PM
Subject: LGBT Rights

David Lee Makowsky wrote (MJ 62#47):

> 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?

All schools are expected to teach "British values" whether they are state funded
or not.
> 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?

This has happened on several occasions where children of female Reform converts
appealed to the British courts against schools' refusal to accept them and were
then foisted on the schools. The courts also decided that attendance at an
Orthodox shul was not a permitted criterion.

Martin Stern

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Feb 1,2015 at 04:01 PM
Subject: LGBT Rights

Steven White wrote (MJ 62#47):

> 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. 

I have read the relevant parts of the report on the Manchester Orthodox Jewish
Girls' school to which it refers (my 8 daughters all went there). While Steven
might have been able to read it as he indicates, I can assure him that, in the
current British social climate, it certainly was "doubletalk for not encouraging
awareness of homosexuality".

Martin Stern

From: Orrin Tilevitz <tilevitzo@...>
Date: Sun, Feb 1,2015 at 06:01 PM
Subject: LGBT Rights

The last time I expressed the following opinion in this forum was the last time
it reared its ugly head, in response to the question (if I recall correctly)
whether shuls should grant homosexual couples family membership. At the time,
the then-moderator (doubling as a participant) called me intellectually
dishonest, and others called me worse things. At least then,nobody on the list
was claiming that homosexual couples had a God-given right to marry. Yeridat
hadorot. In any case:

The essential question is what marriage represents. In my view, it can represent
essentially two things: 

(1) a religiously-sanctified union and 

(2) a financial arrangement.

On the one hand, to the extent (1) applies, increasingly I believe that a state
which is separate from the Church (and I don't think this is true in the U.K.)
should not get involved at all. Most traditional religions view homosexual
relationship as an abomination and homosexual marriage as a contradiction in
terms, and I would guess that nearly everyone on this list understands that
Judaism is among them. It is none of the state's business if religious
institutions bless or reject homosexual marriages, or what religious schools
teach students about it. (Incidentally, an article in Saturday's New York Times
told the story of a Catholic-Jewish lesbian couple, regular attendees at Reform
Jewish services, who went to the rabbi to marry them. He refused not because
they were lesbians but because he doesn't do interfaith weddings. I found this
quite funny.)

On the other hand, to the extent (2) applies, I see no reason why the state
should not sanction homosexual marriages so long as it sanctions marriages
between any two truly consenting adults - and I mean any. If I live with my
brother, my sister, my mother, my grandmother or my college roommate and want to
marry him or her so that I get a tax break for a married couple or so that my
employer can cover my spouse's health insurance without tax, I see no reason why
the government should bar that. Particularly today where sex outside of marriage
is publicly accepted, there should be no presumption that marriage requires sex
to the extent it's the state's business in the first place. Of course, that is
not where public discussion is at. Instead, public discussion is increasingly
ruled by those who would continue to imbue secular marriage with quasi-religious
overtones and that the rest of us ought to believe that homosexual relationships
are a special, protected class. That is what I find troubling.

From: Frank Silbermann <frank_silbermann@...>
Date: Sun, Feb 1,2015 at 07:01 PM
Subject: LGBT Rights

Given the government's demands, the only solution I can see is to teach the
pupils to give a lawyerly response.  This would seem difficult, but perhaps not
for students who are capable of learning Talmud. That is, students could be
taught that homosexuals have equal rights under British law, including the right
to marriage recognized by the state, and that with regard to their behavior we
are forbidden to obstruct them, and that Jewish courts have no power in Great
Britain to impose criminal sanctions on them.  They could add that we do not
have the power to enforce Jewish law on people who do not wish to live by it. 
In this country, the law makes living by Torah voluntary. If they ask, "What do
_you_ think about it?" the pupil can say, "It is none of my business."  If they
say, "Tell me what you are taught your religion says about it," they are to
respond, "If you want to know about Jewish law do not ask a child; ask a rabbi."

Frank Silbermann          Memphis, Tennessee

From: Chaim Casper <surfflorist@...>
Date: Fri, Feb 6,2015 at 02:01 PM
Subject: LGBT Rights

Many people weighed in on the issue of LGBT rights (MJ 62#47).   What I
personally found missing from the discussion was an analysis of the halakhic
issues involved (which is the raison d'etre of this list).   If so, then I
offer this as a start of that discussion.  

Homosexual acts are biblically prohibited (Vayikra 18:22 and 20:13).   But what
exactly is prohibited?   Is it emotional love?   If so, then how could Yehonatan
(the son of King Sha'ul) love David (Shmuel I 18:1)?  Is it hugging and kissing?
 But hugging and kissing by men to men and women to women is an everyday
occurrence.    The pesukim  listed above list one criterion as the prohibited
determinant: mishktvei ishah.   RaShI (per the Siftei Hakhamim) defines that
term as referring to sodomy (i.e. anal intercourse.  Cf. Bereishit 19:5 -- that
is the way the men of Sodom wanted to force themselves on the two visitors to
Lot, hence the term).   

R` Moshe Feinstein, zt"l, holds that homosexual acts are forbidden for three
reasons (Orah Hayyim 4:115, pp 205-6):

1) Homosexual acts are megunim byoter (very indecent), 

2) Homosexual acts don't make sense as there is no natural desire by a man for
another man (see, for example, Nedarim 51A, which assumes that men who engage in
homosexual acts do it voluntarily so they are toeh bah [mistaken by it] (a play
on the adjective the Torah uses to describe mishkvei ishah toevah [abomination])

3) Even reshaim (wicked people) don't have any same-sex desire. (Side note: R`
Moshe has ten teshuvot of this issue.   If you can read his Hebrew, look at the
tone by which he writes his answer to the questioner.  He is very respectful and
calm in his demeanor.    He does not attack his petitioner nor call them nasty
names [e.g. rshaim] like he does when talking about Conservative and Reform
leaders; rather, he speaks like a loving and patient father.   Compare R`
Moshe's approach to that of some other gedolim/Torah leaders.)  The underlying
assumption of R` Moshe and many other opponents of homosexuality is that it is a
free choice act done by someone who, if he wanted, could opt out of
homosexuality and instead involve himself exclusively in heterosexual acts. 
(Note: because of the question of spilling seed, male to male relationships are
halakhically more problematic than female to female relationships).   

But the main claim by many in the LGBT community is that they do not have the
free will to make that happen.  Males are attracted to males.  Thus, they are
arguing that the metziut (actuality) is not what R` Moshe posits.   They are
arguing that God Himself has "hot wired" gays and lesbians to be attracted to
members of the same sex instead of members of the opposite sex.     This concept
of a "homosexual gene" has been around for at least 20 years, see


Alternatively, when lecturing a number of years ago on this subject to a group
of parents of gay children, their response to me was that something happens in
the uterus that affects the child's future sexual orientation.   The point is
the same: the child is hot wired for life to be attracted to the same sex.   

If so, does that mean this issue is a mahloket (argument) between those who give
validity to science as a vehicle by which God runs the world (Torah umada) and
those who hold Torah to the exclusion of everything else? 

If anyone represents a Torah umada philosophy, it is R` Norman Lamm.  R`Lamm 
wrote about homosexuality in the Encyclopedia Judaica 1974 Yearbook, co. 1974,
pp. 194-205 (Judaism and the Modern Attitude to Homosexuality).  His article
tends to waffle on the issue.  On one hand, he takes a respectful approach to
gays and lesbians, yet on the other hand he worries about gays and lesbians
"forcing their lifestyle on the rest of the community" (I got the feeling that
according to R` Lamm, two gays walking down the street holding hands would
constitute forcing a gay lifestyle on the straight community).   I suppose that
R` Lamm would subscribe to the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.

R` Aharon Lichtenstein 


says that his feeling towards homosexuals includes "criticism, disapproval, but
[is] tempered with an element of sympathy"  He asks what is worse: hillul
Shabbat (violation of Shabbat) or homosexuality?  Both actions are punishable by
death according to Torah law.   The reality is we accept a hillul Shabbat
befarhesia (a public violator of Shabbat) into the community so why shouldn't we
similarly accept a homosexual?     And how much more so should we accept that
homosexual if he is shomer Shabbat (Shabbat observer)?   In a nutshell, R`
Lichtenstein rejects the sin while accepting the sinner, a concept which has
been the bedrock of much Western religious thought for much of the last one
thousand years.   

There are those who do not accept this concept that homosexuality is "hot wired"
into the person.   Dr Nathaniel S Lehrman wrote 

Homosexuality: A Political Mask for Promiscuity: A Psychiatrist Reviews the Data
in Tradition Magazine, Vol 34, No 1, spring, 2000, pp 44-62 


Homosexuality: Some Neglected Considerations  


Dr Lehrman goes beyond rejecting the concept that homosexuals are "hot wired".
He holds that homosexuality is a personal and deviant life style choice, much
like the characters in the old Fellini movie, Satyricon.

Similarly, JONAH (Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality)


is an Orthodox organization that claims success in using reparative therapy to
help "strugglers" as they are called overcome their homosexual urges.   However,
there have been questions as to how successful JONAH and similar organizations
have been to the point that the RCA revoked its endorsement of JONAH 


Over the years, I have collected a list of English source materials on this
issue.  Anyone who would like for me to forward my list to them can contact me. 

Bevirkat Torah,

Chaim Casper
North Miami Beach, 



From: Joel Wiesen <jwiesen@...>
Date: Wed, Feb 4,2015 at 07:01 PM
Subject: Question for parents of Parsha Pinchas bar/bat mitzva kids

How does one go about dealing with the adult nature of the beginning of Parshat

I would very much appreciate any on-line material suitable for kids this young
(12/13) on that, or any part, of the parsha or, for that matter, any similarly
'delicate topics'?




From: Immanuel Burton <iburton@...>
Date: Sun, Feb 1,2015 at 11:01 PM
Subject: Seating on planes

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 62#46):

> Obviously, once all reasonable efforts have been made to accommodate passengers'
> requests, there would be nothing else to be done. This would be similar to where
> an ordered kosher meal turns out to be unavailable. All the cabin crew can do is
> apologise to the person concerned who, one would hope, would not make a fuss.
> The problem is that El Al is perceived, probably incorrectly, as not being
> interested in chareidi passengers' "meshugassen [stupid idiosyncracies]".

Well, if it's not a stupid idiosyncrasy, what exactly is the Halachic issue with
sitting next to a woman on an aeroplane?  And if there is an issue, does it
outweigh any associated public desecration of Hashem's name that seems to have

I have at home a booklet called "On The Road and In The Air:  A Halachic Guide
for the Business Traveller" by Rabbi Donneal Epstein.  It has a section about
halachos that apply on a plane; the fourth paragraph in this sections starts:

What do you do if you are seated next to a woman who is not properly attired,
and therefore halachically prohibited to daven in front of?

Various answers are suggested, such as davenning at the back of the plane, and,
if this can't be done, turning one's head and body away.  None of the answers
suggested including asking to moved to another seat, though.

Immanuel Burton.

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Mon, Feb 2,2015 at 04:01 AM
Subject: Seating on planes

Carl Singer wrote (MJ 62#47):
> 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.

Unlike gender, it might be difficult to collect the requisite information
since such people would be most unlikely to disclose it.

> 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).

This might be possible to arrange if a suitable box were put on the booking
form. Since the feeling would be mutual, lefties (and righties) might be
inclined to reply!

Martin Stern


From: Irwin Weiss <irwin@...>
Date: Sun, Feb 1,2015 at 09:01 PM
Subject: Sex-education for Men (was Sex Ed for Chareidi Girls/Women)

If there are gay or lesbian people, born that way, they, to me, pose no threat.
What is way more disturbing to me is the perverted, illegal, and anti-Torah
conduct of men.

Here in Maryland we have a Rav who was watching women when they used the mikveh,
another who seems to have raped a minor female, another who recently pleaded
guilty to assaulting a much younger boy when the latter was using a urinal in a
mens' bathroom, and there were a number of others.  I dont consider any of these
criminals to be Orthodox or Observant anymore, after this conduct. They may be
mdakdek (punctilious) with regard to the observance of Kashrut or Shabbat, but
so what. They hurt other people and violate important Torah laws.

Meanwhile, the two women who are partners up the street from me are very kind
people, who keep Shabbat and Kashrut. They hurt no one.

Irwin Weiss
Baltimore, MD


End of Volume 62 Issue 48