Thursday, August 7, 2008

A Response to Homosexual Orthodox Rabbis

Miss Shona just posted a comment on my piece on homosexuals in the Orthodox community. I think it is instructive so I am posting it here.

I recently found out (via Facebook...of all means) that one of my study partners at Aish HaTorah is a lesbian. She is also FFB...and (from my perspective) seems to have no huge issues reconciling the fact ( she is a FFB who opts to daven with the Aish HaTorah center minyan...I do not see that as an issue...although I am sure some could or do). I honestly wish I could say I can understand where she is coming from...but I do not. And while she is happy with her status...I am actually pretty saddened by it.

The Torah offers us a guidebook to a more spiritually fulfilling life. Do we always understand the mitzvot? No way. I mean how exactly will eating chicken alfredo affect my quality of life (outside of the thousands of calories per serving)? Nonetheless, it all comes together to not only preserve Am Yisrael, but to gently direct the operation of all creation of HKBH. A frum Jew should understand that. No matter how tempting it may be to sleep with your sister's husband or anything else of the sort.(In all fairness, I realize that being a lesbian is somehow "not as bad" as being a gay man. But I do not know the official posek on this...other than lesbianism is also highly frowned upon.)

I am a human being, so my understanding of the world is surely limited...but I do not believe that the vast majority (like 90%) of homosexuals are "born that way". I have no "scientific" information on which to base my theory...but from what I have seen...knowing about 15+ gay individuals personally...they almost all have had some exposure or experience with abuse or dysfunction in their home life. Believe me, I do not believe that gay people need to be lectured to or anything like that; but I feel that it is similar to other indulgences such as overeating, or alcoholism or even bigotry. Yes, certain personality traits can lead you to be more prone to such behavior...but you can overcome it.It is hard to not marginalize people and also not condone whatever unacceptable activities they involve themselves in. I am just rambling really...

I have no answers. Heterosexual individuals have their battles with sexual deviance as well; including very religious heterosexuals. There are most certainly "frum" guys who are "players" at heart...but (hopefully) they don't give into it...because they hold a level of accountability to the community...if not their least. …


queeryeshivameidel said...

It sounds like you have a very courageous study partner who has managed to maintain a healthy identity as a lesbian orthodox woman. I hope you will take it upon yourself to become informed about the facts at hand. For a frum perspective- I would suggest reading "Judaism and Homosexuality: An Authentic Orthodox view" by Rabbi Chaim Rappaport and visiting More importantly, Jewish tradition teaches us "do not judge your friend until you have reached his place" (pirkei avot 2:5). I hope your friend can count on you to support her, without judging her, on her jewish path.

Miss S. said...

Shavua tov.

Thank you very much for the book suggestion; I will definitely make a note of it for my "to read" list. However, I believe you are making the wrong conclusion about my sentiments. I am not 'judging' her; I am simply recognizing the unfortunate situation of being a homosexual in the Orthodox Jewish world.

Unfortunately, I can't currently see the "facts" that Rabbi Rappaport's book is offering. I do wonder however if he is presenting halacha? If so, halacha is pretty clear that women do not have the commandment of pru urvu and cannot commit hotza'at zera levatala -- so lesbians 'should' be in the clear. However there is halacha; and there is the framework...the community in which the halacha operates in. Maybe it should be the other way around...where halacha stands as the framework and we navigate through it (almost as a labyrinth). I don't know how clear that explanation is, or how to make it clearer. Let's just say that as long as we are in golus, survival mode is on, and there is a rigid community status quo that is established first which allows halacha be followed.

And this is what flags my alarm. If there is any chance whatsoever that her homosexual feelings can be worked through and overcome, than I hope and pray she can go that route. If she cannot, than it can be a sad, lonely road. I mean I am not her; I cannot say what she can and cannot take. Will she ever be able to make a home and share a life with another female? If they adopt a child, can the child grow up, have a bar/bat mitzvah in shul and have the Rabbi give a schpiel on the nachas these two woman will receive from the child? What about the incessant subliminal messages being a homosexual is the anti-thesis of a ben torah or a bat yisrael?

I am far from being a conformist (believe it or not); I even think the frum community could gain by having more non-conformists. But you pay a price for it. And sometimes it gets to a point where you fight through the lonliness and mixed messages and you seriously consider "Is it worth it?" Even harder yet is to understand (I mean to truly understand) that these societal imperfections are the result of man...not Hashem. Jews do not view life as several decades of hardship and sacrifice and then it pays off in the end and you end up floating around on a cloud, playing a harp and eating Godivas. So if homosexual frum Yidden cannot openly be who they are, they should at least admit this, and go from there. Yes, it's important that you stay on the derech...but it's also important that you obtain a certain level of contentment in life.

offthederech said...

who says its bad to be gay? if you didn't believe in god, there'd be no problem

Izgad said...

Just to note. I believe in fully protecting homosexuals under the law and oppose any attempt to make homosexual activity illegal. I even am, in theory, supportive of gay marriage, just as long as we do not call it a constitutional right. I have no interest in pushing my religious ideas upon other people.
There are problems with homosexuality that have nothing to do religion. For example the whole concept of gay rights is predicated on the notion that you are going to define people according to their sexual natures, that sex defines who people are. As a classical liberal I believe in defining humans as rational beings. It is as rational beings that humans have rights and incur ethical obligations from humanity at large.
I could not care less about defending Leviticus in the public sphere, but I will fight to the very end to defend the authority of Reason against all opponents be they religious fundamentalists or secular materialists.