3. Perspective on Homosexuals

This post is based on the second part of a session held with Rav Lichtenstein on Friday, 17 Marcheshvan, 5773, November 2, 2012.  In response to some of the feedback following the last session, I decided to integrate [bracketed] translations into the text rather than marking them as notes.  Once again, I tried to maintain the original formulations whenever possible [any bracketed comments are my insertions].  While I consulted and confirmed with Rav Lichtenstein on a few of the details, he did not review the text.

-Dov Karoll

Question: There has some discussion recently concerning what our attitude as Orthodox Jews should be toward homosexuals in our community.  Some of the debate revolves around the meaning and significance of the Torah’s designation: to’eivah [abomination].  Could Rav Lichtenstein relate to these issues, addressing both the individual and communal levels?

This, as you know, is a hot issue, and one which has surfaced in our world as, simultaneously, it has surfaced within the general world.  There was a time when it was taken for granted that if you were homosexual you couldn’t be in the army, you couldn’t run a business, you obviously couldn’t set up a home, and you obviously couldn’t apply for getting whatever money is distributed by the government for a mate.  All of that was taken for granted.  In the background was a judgment, which is grounded in the Western adherence to Biblical tradition, that there’s something wrong with this morally and spiritually.  While the opinion divided between two poles [the Euthyphro argument] about whether things are good because the Ribbono shel Olam [God] wants them, or He wants them because they’re good, and that works the other way as well with regard to things that are not good.

Some people have said that homosexuality is something which is a distortion of nature, it’s not the way the Ribbono shel Olam built the world, it’s no good – and because it’s no good, there’s a pasuk [verse] in Acharei Mot which tells you to stay away from it.  Others say no, it’s a neutral phenomenon, but neutral things, once the Torah “deneutralizes” them, so to speak, and set it up as an issur [prohibition], even if it’s a chok [non-rational law] and not something beyond that – we have to subscribe to it if we are believing Jews, or, להבדיל, believing Christians.

There is some discussion in the time of rishonim, and later – about the whole world of arayot [sexual prohibitions] in general – is it a chok or a mishpat [rational law].  It’s an old question.  Aquinas deals with this issue in Summa Theologica, and, להבדיל, the Ramban deals with this issue: is it chok or is it mishpat.  That would probably make some difference in terms of how you relate to it.  If you relate to it as mishpat, it has a rational basis: somebody who engages in it, you are doubly severe in judging him – first of all, he’s doing something which is inherently wrong – and which, without the Torah – in the same manner as the gemara in Eiruvin says that if arayot were not written in the Torah, we would have learned tzeni’ut from the cat – we would have learned heterosexuality from the dog or the cat, or some other animal – one who engages in homosexuality is: 1) violating the natural order and 2) violating the parsha in Sefer Vayikra.  If you think it’s a chok – the first element falls out, but it’s [still] out of line, it’s part of the issur.

The question you raise is not just a question with regard to a particular ban, but the label of to’eivah, does that add a more serious dimension.  To make that judgment you need to do two related things: 1) check a computer or a concordance for wherever the word to’eivah appears – and see, to what does it apply.  So you discover that to’eivah,in the pasuk in Yechezkel, refers to people who don’t feed עניים [poor] properly (Ezekiel 16:48-50), or, you open up a chumash in Ki Tetzei – if you are dealing with weights and measures, and you cheat a little bit on the weights and the measures, that’s to’eivah also (Deuteronomy 25:13-16).  Having done that, find for me a community which responds and relates to homosexuality as if you are doing something terrible – just like it responds to those who are cheating a little bit on weights and measures.  But that’s not the case, and that is because of the revulsion which, apart from its being called to’eivah – the revulsion which is felt by the Western world toward homosexuality probably would have existed in large measure nonetheless.

If you ask me: should the term to’eivah be meaningful to us?  Of course it should.  We are מאמינים בני מאמינים [believers].  We think that if the Torah refers to something as to’eivah, the Ribbono shel Olam regards it as to’eivah.  But to be fairer and more honest with ourselves and with our communities, let us understand that if you deal only with the use of the term to’eivah, you can only push that particular envelope as far as you push the cheating on the weights and the measures – so all the revulsion, the moral energy, that you bring against that, you should bring against this, too.

That’s not what happens today.  I have an argument with some people about this.  Don’t get me wrong: I’m not in favor of homosexuality, חס ושלום. But we do need to agree to abide by a greater measure of honesty in dealing with that community than I think at present applies.  Let me give you one example.  Some years back – with regard to an annual event in NY – there is the Israel Day Parade – it’s a big event – they bring people from all over, all the high schools in the NY area, boys and girls, Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, secularists – they all come to the big parade.  It’s been, for many people, a very positive force, a binding force, bringing Jews together – for some it’s a bit divisive – but they always manage to get over their divisions and march together on a given Sunday during sefirah.

A few years back, as part of the ferment which you have within the Jewish community in general and the homosexual community in particular, the gays said they want to get in on the action too – so everyone else walks around with big signs: we are A, B, C, D of America – so we are the Jewish gays and lesbians of America.  The response was a threat – they didn’t use the word threat, they called it an advisement, or something to that effect – by the religious high schools – if the gays are going to be part of the parade, we’re out.  That was more than the Jewish community could swallow – an event which always served to bind, to unify, for it to be divisive – there was some give and take and some friends of mine were involved in this, I know this from the inside, and finally, they worked out an arrangement where the homosexuals did not march, the threat worked – no one could bear the thought that all the high schools were going to be out.

You ask yourself, wait a minute: we don’t like homosexuality, but we don’t like chillul Shabbat [Shabbat violation] either – all the mechallelei Shabbat [Shabbat violators] of America could have marched in that parade and no one would say boo, because we are very liberal Jews, and we like to not be judgmental, and be friendly to people to the right and the left of us.  So, mechallelei Shabbat – we wish they would be shomrei Shabbat [Shabbat observers], but if that’s what they are, that’s what they are,we accept them as they are and we don’t pass judgment.

If I open a gemara in Sanhedrin, or if I open a chumash, for that matter – leaving aside the term to’eivah – what is a more serious aveirah, chillul Shabbat [Shabbat violation] or homosexuality.  Or, for that matter, there are people who worship avodah zarah [idolatry] who march in the parade, too.  Is it proper, is it fair, and I say this without relenting in our position to homosexuality – to decide that all the sins which the whole entire Jewish community has – all of that we can swallow and march with them, with pride and with their flags and everything that they want, but this is the שעיר לעזאזל[scapegoat] – dispatched to ארץ גזירה, that’s what happens to the שעיר לעזאזל (Leviticus 16:22).  I discussed this point with people for whom I have the highest regard and I asked them this question.

I’m not so nimble-minded not to know the answer.  Much of the answer is: the mechallelei Shabbat of America don’t want to march in the parade under the banner of mechallelei Shabbat of America – they are going to march as the Kiwanis club or the Rotary club, the junior high school of Great Neck, or whatever you have, and that will pass muster – they will not flaunt.  The homosexual community today has created such a ferment because it is very aggressive.  The response to that has been – on our part – many people have also been aggressive.  That’s something which I think should be avoided.

In terms of how you respond to it: the term response has at least a dual meaning, and maybe more than two meanings.  One is, what your response is emotionally, psychologically, spiritually – how would you feel, not necessarily that you would do anything or could do anything.  If you were walking down the street and saw someone breaking into a bank – so that, מהיכי תיתי.  If you were walking down the street and saw someone raping a girl – the disgust, the revulsion – the feeling of uch – would be overwhelming.  That’s a response of one kind even if you could do nothing, all you could do is go home and discuss it with your wife, and tell her: what a terrible neighborhood we live in, it’s time to move.  But then, there is a response which is at the active plane: you can respond by going to the police station and getting the license number of the car the attacker is driving around in, and hope that the police get there before you.

When we talk about response, are we talking about: feeling warmly and with sympathy to that community, or are we talking about steps actually to be taken?  The question of steps to be taken is also a more recent phenomenon.  Fundamentally, the issur of homosexuality is a personal aveirah; I don’t know – maybe I’m wrong – of places in Tanakh or in Chazal which single out, as a communal sin, homosexuality.  I know where failure to give enough tzedakah [charity] is singled out – even with regard to gentiles – I discussed it in the shiurim on tzedakah [in the Friday morning מעגל החיים series] – that’s part of Yechezkel’s diatribe against them.  There is chillul Shabbat – all kinds of things which are singled out in nevi’im – not just that there are x number of individuals sleeping with each other in Yerushalayim – they have their own bedroom.  And historically, I think that’s how it’s been treated, as far as I know.

Today it’s become a public issue and it’s part of a public debate.  What you do in relating to a homosexual – beyond either feeling revulsion or feeling sympathy – do you let him into shul, do you give him an aliyah, do you let him daven for the amud, if he adopts a child, do you let the child attend your yeshivah.  You could give many other examples: job discrimination: is it fair, is it honest, if a person is a homosexual – I’m not talking about the army, where you may be afraid that you’ll be seduced, or whatever you’re afraid of – he wants to be a teller in a bank.  These are all issues which can be part of the public arena, the public scene.  There, different people have different emotional responses and different practical responses.

If you ask me for my own response: obviously, I don’t approve in any way, but emotionally, the fire that burns in many hearts today, and the fears which go beyond the revulsion, are beyond what I think is proper, and particularly, as the phenomenon becomes more prevalent, which is unfortunate in itself, but at the personal plane it has become a more common aveirah, it is less of an aveirah on the part of the particular individual.

My own feeling is: it’s a very unfortunate development and one that will hopefully pass, though that’s hard to say.  But, for people involved: I have a combination of – I wouldn’t say revulsion, that may be too strong a term – I certainly have criticism, disapproval, but tempered with an element of sympathy.  These are people who are very unfortunate.  I said to one of them who came to talk to me: you are thrice punished.  First of all, you are punished in that you can’t have a normal life: one of the great joys of my life is my children, my family, my wife, and children you can’t have.  Secondly, you are punished in that you have no one to whom to turn – you come out, risking your own situation, taking a position.  Thirdly, the disapproval generates further disapproval.  Particularly, if one acknowledges that many of the people who are caught in this situation feel that they are אנוסים [coerced], not שוגג [accidental], not מזיד [intentional].

From what I gather psychologists are divided on this issue, as to whether it is something which is controllable or not.  But the material which they send me – I’m not singled out for anything – reflects a readiness on the part of many, and they would be very happy if you could cure them.  There are some, who are very militant, who wouldn’t want you to use the term cure – they are not sick any more than the heterosexual people are sick – that’s how they regard it – that, I think, is pushing it a bit too far.  You might assume they are not to be held fully responsible if it’s a genetic development, but, certainly it is not something which we want to see become more rampant.

43 thoughts on “3. Perspective on Homosexuals

  1. Michael Berkowitz

    I’d be very interested to hear how R. Lichtenstein views the gemara in Hullin (92b) that lists among the things that — to their credit — even the goyim don’t do, writing a marriage contract between two men. Rashi draws a sharp distinction between their “private” acts of homosexuality, which are a given, and their broadcasting and/or institutionalizing the “lifestyle”. Does this relate to the “aggressiveness” mentioned above? Does it have anything to teach us about our own public position toward the individuals and the community?

    Reply
    1. Yossie Bloch

      Yes, the other two things are a) respecting the Torah and b) being discreet about cannibalism. Sounds like modern Western society to me. What you fail to mention is that these are 3 out of 30 things that non-Jews have accepted (Yerushalmi: will accept) upon themselves. Does that connote some element of choice? Moreover, what of the other 27? Is that a sufficient trade-off? One-third of one aggadic statement does not tell the whole story.

      Reply
  2. hana blume

    Why do you have to have graduated from a particular place to respond?

    It seems the point is that – while Jews may engage in behaviors that are proscribed – they can’t make those behaviors a point of pride. You can’t say “Watch me desecrate Shabbat” or “Watch me eat pork with a milkshake” and demand respectful treatment in Jewish life. But the homosexual movement has gone from asking not to be treated badly to demanding that their behaviors be approved as nothing more that a “lifestyle” choice.

    Reply
  3. Sarah Robinson

    Thank you for posting this. I was unable to attend the event, so I am happy to have read Rav Aharon’s understanding of this relevant and thought-provoking issue.

    Reply
  4. Pingback: הרב ליכטנשטיין: "לקבל הומואים כשם שמקבלים מחללי שבת" « עמותת כמוך – הומואים דתיים אורתודוקסים

  5. Rabbi Avi Billet

    Dov
    Thanks for sharing. Got your name in the newspaper! Here is a DT I wrote about toevot.
    http://arabbiwithoutacause.blogspot.com/2009/08/weekly-dvar-torah-as-featured-in-jewish.html
    To me, the banner issue is one of the biggest strikes against the community in question. If its members would leave this side of their personal lives off the table, I imagine Rav L’s approach would be more widely appreciated. The “in your face/aggressive” component is a big turn off.
    Laughing at the concept of “mechallei
    Shabbos of America” banner.

    Reply
    1. David Z

      I have the utmost respect for R’ Lichtenstein, but there is no way the high schools would march with a m’khal’le shabat banner. That’s a ludicrous statement. He may be referring to a Reform banner, but that is more subtle (and perhaps it shouldn’t be, but once can see the difference). There are Reform who more or less keep halakha. The big difference is they don’t believe it is an obligation. But Judaism is largely a religion of practice, even with its ikare emuna.

      Reply
      1. Yehuda F

        You should re-read that paragraph. He explicitly wrote that he knows that mechallelei shabbat don’t want to march under that banner. Despite the confusing turn of phrase, “not so nimble-minded not to know,” he clearly meant to acknowledge that no such banner exists. As for your statement that there are Reform who keep halacha, I would respond that there are ladies with beards. Both are technically true, but are they really worth noting, beyond the curiosity?

  6. Anonymous

    Sorry, but it is not a question for you to be either in favour of homosexuality or not. It is just a natural part of being a human and until people like you understand this, and help educate the community at large, many generations will continue to grow up feeling hurt, alienated and unwelcome.

    Reply
    1. Anonymous

      Thank you for saying this. I am a gay Jewish orthodox teenager and the hate I know is in the Jewish community is a big turn off from the religion and really makes me question being a Jew.

      Reply
      1. David Z

        Leave the groups where you experience hate. There is no hate in my Pico-Robertson neighborhood of Los Angeles. And I wear a black hat. You are so much more than your desire for men, just as I am so much more than my desire for women. Or my desire for money or food.

  7. jessie

    i’m still in the middle of the article. i don’t disagree with the overall sentiment, and i’m glad R’ Lichtenstein has come out and said this.
    but if a group of jews wanted to march in the israeli day parade under the banner of “the shabbos violators of the jewish people” i would find it objectionable.
    then again, there are groups which, as part of their position, have rejected some or all of the mitzvos. so is that the same thing.

    Reply
  8. Anonymous

    There are (at least) three obvious problems with the comment above by Anonymous:
    1. If it’s not our place to be either for-or-against homosexuality, it isn’t Anonymous’ place to tell us what we should be for-or-against…
    2. Nobody knows the extent to which homosexuality is “a natural part of being a human”, basically because it’s too charged an issue to be studied dispassionately in our current academic climate. Gay activists have themselves taken opposing positions as to whether it’s a conscious choice or a biological condition, in a Humpty-Dumpty style “homosexuality is what I decide it is.”
    3. Many, many generations will continue to grow feeling hurt, alienated and unwelcome anyway. That is part of being human. Mostly we muddle through.

    Reply
    1. Yudi Rine

      Another point to be made is that just because something may be “natural”, if G-d clearly says “don’t do it”, then you don’t do it, no?

      We are told to not wear Shaatnez, but isn’t it “natural” to put whatever fabrics we feel we need together?

      Same for Kashrus, Shabbos, and any other Negative Mitzvos!

      Reply
  9. Anonymous

    There is only one thing that was not mentioned in this discussion – and could light the great opposition to homosexuality. Though, as the rav said, there are a few more things that the Torah calls “תועבה”, non of them, neither do חילול שבת, would destroy the world with a מבול as homosexuality did. This is what Rav Huna says, in Midrash Raba (Bereshis, parasha 26): “רבי הונא בשם רבי אמר דור המבול לא נימוחו מן העולם עד שכתבו גמומסיות לזכר ולבהמה”. In a world that legitimizes marriage contracts for homosexeals (גמומסיות), we could expect מבול. And this threat wouldn’t be displayed by anything else – not מידות ומשקולות, not even חילול שבת. This is why we have to oppose the phenomenon.

    Reply
    1. Eliyahu Neiman

      Anonymous, Rabbi Yohanan also says in Sanhedrin 108a that although the generation transgressed all other sins, the mabul came specifically for the sin of thievery. In Midrash Rabba Bereishit 31:5 Rabbi Hanina says that this thievery was of things of minimal value. One person would come to market with a basket of seeds, and one by one people would take a single seed, until there were none left. Think whether you have the same opposition to homosexuality as you do to someone who samples all the flavors of ice cream and leaves without buying anything.

      Reply
    2. Yossie Bloch

      Why would you think גמומסיות are marriage contracts (and how would you write one for animals). They are hymeneals, coupling songs, i.e., bawdy ballads about sexual activity. Considering jokes made in some yeshivot about gays, perhaps those supposed Torah scholars are the ones indulging in antediluvian excess.

      Reply
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  11. Yudi Rine

    One of my big issues for a long time has been people (Jews or non) who have an issue with homosexuality because it is “An abomination to G-d”, but then go out for seafood (also termed an abomination).

    I applaud the candid, frank, honest discussion this will, and should, bring out.

    Yasher Koach

    Reply
  12. Pingback: Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein on Homosexuality – Barry Gelman « Morethodoxy: Exploring the Breadth, Depth and Passion of Orthodox Judaism

  13. Anonymous

    Rav Lichtenstein makes a valid point. We often do not realize that cheating in business, for example, is abominable to Hashem, although He refers to it with the same Loshon with which He refers to homosexuality! However: A) People are not campaigning and parading to legalize cheating in business. And: B) His point should generate more revulsion toward cheating, not less rshragiegoldevulsion toward homosexuality! (Yes. Revulsion! It’s Shragie not at all too strong a term! Isn’t that what Toeiva means?!)

    Reply
    1. Shragie Gold

      Rav Lichtenstein makes a very valid point. We often do not realize that cheating in business, for example, is abominable to G-d, although He refers to it with the same Loshon with which He refers to homosexuality. However: A) People are not campaigning and parading to legalize cheating in business. And: B) His point should generate more revulsion toward cheating, not less revulsion toward homosexuality! (Yes. Revulsion! It’s not at all too strong a term. Isn’t that what Toeiva means?!)

      Reply
  14. Lisa

    I think one of the problems with the Rav’s analogy is that “I am gay” is not the same as “I do forbidden gay sexual acts”. When a person loses a spouse (r”l) and misses them terribly, it isn’t bedroom activities that they’re missing. It’s the person. The emotional tie.

    When an Orthodox Jew says, “I am an American”, we don’t assume that he approves of pre-marital sex, even though most Americans do. Likewise, when an Orthodox Jew says, “I am gay”, we should not assume that he permits himself that which the Torah forbids, just because the secular-gentile gay community does so.

    I would also object to someone marching in a parade with a banner saying, “We engage in forbidden homosexual acts.” But saying, “We are gay” is not the same thing. Not at all.

    I’m not able to talk with the Rav directly. I’m no one. But I very much hope that someone who does have his ear would pass this message on to him, because from what I’ve read here, I think it may be something he is unaware of.

    Reply
    1. Rebduvid

      If Rav Lichtenstein really wants the community’s attitude to reflect the proper “severity” of the sin, why doesn’t he specify anal intercourse between men as the issue? There is no direct prohibition of lesbian sexuality, nor is there any prohibition of other sexual acts between men. There is even some debate about whether these acts (“derekh eivarim”) are assur d’oraita at all (Shmuel I believe says something like “the Torah doesn’t forbid pritsuta b’alma”).

      So what would Rav Lichtenstein say about two men who are the equivalent of married and have decided as part of their commitment to follow Torah that they will not have anal intercourse but will make love in other ways. This is just the same on one level as any heterosexual couple that follows the Torah and does not have intercourse when the woman is menstruating.

      The argument of equal weights on one level applies to this discussion, and that seems to be Rav Lichtenstein’s point: we must apply equal weight to equal aveirot. And I would extend his teaching here to say that those who act with hatred towards homosexual people are on a spiritual level violating the prohibition against using unequal measures and therefore committing to’evah/abomination. The same priniciple applues to treating homosexuality in geberal as to’evah when the Torah only applies this to anal intercourse between men.

      But Rav Lichtenstein doesn’t carry his arguments to their end, which he needs to do.

      Reply
      1. אליהו קאן

        I am not sure you can read the simple meaning, so how can you delve deeper? It is impossible to lay with a woman as a man because of the anatomy differences, so what does it mean? Never been understood as other than anal. So how do you come up with those possibilities of “other” conjugations that would be permissible for two men? If there were ever a justification for an oral Torah this is it. NO! That was not a play on words.

    2. Sara

      Very interesting point! It’s a very kind Limmud Z’chut!

      But since in REALITY a Gay parade stand for accepting not just the being Gay, but also Torah forbidden practice, (yes to the vast majority of Gays in the-would-be-march, and to the vast majaroty of the observers, it’s also about the act being Jewishly accepted) therefore, a Torah Jew cannot show acceptance to such a movement.

      However, your idea is a brilliant one!

      There should be a distinct group of Frum Gays etc. who don’t stand for acting out the Aveirah, and don’t officially encourage it Ch”v. Who in-fact stand for “not acting on the urge” but are openly Gay! – SUCH a group would certainly have a reasonable argument about being accepted and welcomed into the Torah true Jewish community!

      Reply
    3. Sara

      Very interesting point! It’s a very kind Limmud Z’chut!

      But since in REALITY a Gay parade stand for accepting not just the being Gay, but also Torah forbidden practice, (yes to the vast majority of Gays in the-would-be-march, and to the vast majaroty of the observers, it’s also about the act being Jewishly accepted) therefore, a Torah Jew cannot show acceptance to such a movement.

      However, your idea is a brilliant one!

      There should be a distinct group of Frum Gays etc. who don’t stand for acting out the Aveirah, and don’t officially encourage it Ch”v. Who in-fact stand for “not acting on the urge” but are openly Gay! – SUCH a group would certainly have a reasonable argument about being accepted and welcomed into the Torah true Jewish community!

      Reply
      1. Lisa

        I didn’t actually mean it as a limmud zechut. I know many people who really don’t stand for it and don’t encourage it. Frum gay people, I mean. I’m one of them. And it infuriates me when certain well known “gay rabbis” try and justify what can’t be justified.

  15. Alexander

    The comparison between homosexuality and thievery is a good one, but there are two possible conclusions. The Rav and commenters here seem to agree that those who are critical of one but not the other are hypocritical. But the tone of these statements seems to be, “therefore, lighten up on the gays”. However, one could just as easily conclude, “therefore, come down harder on the cheats and m’halelei Shabbos et al”. Perhaps the rise of this issue for us is Hashem’s way of reminding us that we are too laisser-faire about the other to’ayvas, that we probably do have the capacity to help correct. How would the Rav respond to this?

    Reply
  16. mark pollack

    I’d like to play devils advocate here for a minute.
    Can we extend this type of thinking to other sins/lifestyles? If (chalilah) a Jew is a pedophile or a rapist should we adopt a similar tolerant attitude because “hey, it’s not as bad as idol worship or breaking shabbos”?

    That doesn’t seem to be how klall yisroel has responded to similar sexual perversions (for example the story with Dina or Pilegesh B’Givah).

    Are we really giving homosexuality a pass simply because it is not illegal in western society the way other sexual crimes are?

    Reply
    1. Yossie Bloch

      Are you pointing to the Shekhem and Giva incidents as high points in Jewish history? The comparison fails if the specific act of gay male sex happens between two consenting adults. Rape and pedophilia are not.

      Reply
      1. mark pollack

        I am pointing to the response by the Jewish people to those incidents and showing that though the torah does necessarily not mandate those types of responses. I’m not sure why consent matters. The torah doesn’t care if homosexuality is consensual any more than it cares if pedophilia is.

      2. Rebduvid

        @mark pollack — Torah actually doesn’t say anything about pedophilia. Do you really think you can apply Torah categories to contemporary sexuality in such a naive way? If we applied your way of reading Torah, we would never be able to say anything against pedophilia. And like everyone else here on your side of the issue, you ignore that the Torah only forbids one act: anal intercourse between men. I already mentioned this above. Will Rav Lichtenstein even see these comments? Homosexuality as a concept has no meaning wrt Torah. It’s a shame that most of the Orthodox world seems completely uninterested in the actual halakhah. There is a machloket about whether other sexual acts are even forbidden at all d’oraita — Rambam says yes in Sefer Hamitzvot 353, but Ramban disagrees, strongly.

      3. Lisa

        Rebduvid, with all due respect, who cares whether something is assur d’Orayta or d’Rabbanan? Yes, there’s a difference in certain areas, but d’Rabbanans are assur, too.

      4. Yossie Bloch

        “The Torah doesn’t care”–see Mishna, Sanhedrin 8:7; Hilkhot Rotzeach 1:10. And the Torah is very tolerant toward rapists, as long as their victims aren’t married, so I wouldn’t go down that road.

  17. mark pollack

    @rebduvid, I’m sorry for not using your terminology. My point, which I don’t think I made clear as per @Yossie Bloch’s comment is that there is a difference between halacha telling you what is permitted to do and forbidden to do, and other parts of tanach and chazal which show you the appropriate attitude toward things.

    If the torah says God is a “soneh batzah” that is not necessarily a halachic statement, it is a statement of attitude. You cannot necessarily derive attitude from halacha (with the rare exception of when God actually commands you to hate or love). If God calls something a toeivah there has to be a reason for it. To simply say, “well, he called eating seafood a toeivah too so it can’t really mean anything” is a sad way of trying to sweep something under the rug.

    Reply
  18. Yossie Bloch

    “the rare exception of when God actually commands you to hate or love”–you mean like the command to love every single Jew? And He did not call eating seafood a toeva, he called the shellfish (and other non-kosher animals) a toeva. In this case, the act of anal sex between males is defined as a toeva.

    Reply
  19. Pingback: רב ליכטנשטיין בנושא ההומוסקסואלי | על כלל ופרט

  20. mark pollack

    @Yossie, I think you are missing my point. But first let’s get something out of the way. V’ahavta l’REYACHA only applies to oseh ma’aseh am’cha – a male who performs the act of anal sex with another man is not included.

    Now, let’s get to the point. The halacha cannonizes the prohibition to look at ‘even the small finger of a woman prohibited to you for sexual gratification’. Where does that prohibition exist in the torah? Nowhere. Then why is it halacha? Because it is the job of chazal to help guide the Jewish people in how to live their lives in accordance with the will of God.

    What is the homosexual life style to which “orthodox gays” are asking for acceptance? Do they want to wear rainbows and listen to Elton John? Gei G’zunteh heit. Do they want to look at gay pornography and touch other males sexually without actually having anal intercourse? Why in the world would that be permissible?

    Now let’s go to my example; if an adult Jewish males engages in sexual behavior with a consenting minor, let’s even say a child over the age of 13, should we say – “That’s a lifestyle choice. As long as he keeps what he does private we should be accepting of his lifestyle choice”?

    Your response makes my point for me. The torah doesn’t proscribe pedophilia, does that mean that the Jewish community must embrace it?!

    Reply
  21. Anonymous

    As a jewish orthodox teen, who has feelings for other men, its painful when these private, deep, meaningful, authentic feelings of a simple kid who just wants ’שבתי בבית ה’ are compared to pedophilia and rape. Just a heads up.

    Reply
  22. Pingback: Jewish Moral Schizophrenia | Hava Amina

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