Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Homosexuality and Orthodoxy Rabbi Riskin

YNet reported   Originally published in Jan 2, 2009
I don't object to gay-lesbian parents or single mothers bringing a child into the world, as long as they do so responsibly," said Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, the rabbi of the Efrat settlement, during a discussion on the subject of Orthodox Judaism and homosexuality Tuesday.

The meeting took place as part of the Limmud annual conference on Jewish learning, which is being held in Warwick, Britain this week. Some 2,500 people from the UK and the world participated in this year's conference.
The session was attended by many gays and lesbians who spoke of the difficulties they had to endure once their sexual orientation became known in their religious communities.

Gregg Drinkwater, the executive director of Jewish Mosaic, The National Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity who chaired the session, said that "young people are scared to approach the rabbi and share their distress… the Orthodox rabbinical establishment in the US and Britain refuses to address this phenomenon."

Rabbi Riskin presented to the audience his approach to the subject: Accepting the other despite the ideological differences, so as not to push them out of the congregation.

"The synagogue is meant to accept any Jew. I must love the foreigner, as well as those who are different. Our role as parents is to love our children, and the rabbis' role is to love the members of their congregation," he stated.[...]


  1. Did Rav Riskin's crying Torah tell him to say this or did he come up with this chidush all on his own?

  2. Twenty five years ago, a friend of my parents, the daughter of Holocaust survivors, an attorney,an Orthodox Jew and a truly wonderful person, turned 30 unmarried.

    She lamented that no Jewish man wanted her, brilliant, introverted and not model thin. So, on her 30th birthday she told her parents that she did not want to leave this world childless. She had saved two years salary to take a leave of her profession and become a single parent. She was going to the sperm bank to become a mother and bring a Jewish child into the world.

    The strictly Orthodox parents were appalled and disowned their daughter.Friends and neighbors explained that due to already widespread "conversions" being done by Orthodox Rabbis who believe they are "making a Jewish home" out of an intermarriage, there WERE no Jewish men who would interested in a woman like her. (How CAN American Rabbis NOT think of the Jewish woman who is left single when they permit a Jewish man to intermarry?).

    She had registered with every shadchan, been to every singles event and actively pursued marriage for more than 10 years. She was willing to marry any man within 20 years of her age who would have her and had only pursued a career because she could not get married.

    At age 30, she could see that her chances of marrying were slim and back then, a woman over 30, was considered unlikely to conceive. She did not want to be childless; both of her parents were the sole survivors of their large extended families and this was constantly on her mind.

    Today, I know of dozens of beautiful, smart, and refined Jewish women who cannot get married.

    The crisis is so widespread that the Star K is offering a $2500 cash gift to any shadchan who matches a single Jewish woman over the age of 22.

    The Star K's website sums it up:
    "Thousands of single Jewish women, of all ages, who are shomrei Torah and mitzvos, are finding it difficult to find a suitable match. There are many single observant Jewish women in Baltimore, whose numbers are on the increase. A significant number of divorcees and widows, contribute to these statistics, as well."

    In the past year, two husbands of our middle aged cousins left their wives and young children to marry Gentile women, whom they had "converted" by "Orthodox" Rabbis.

    Another woman in our shul recently lost her husband to a non Jew 20 years younger; the couple was married in an "Orthodox" ceremony.

    One of my close friends, the mother of several children herself lost her father to a non Jew, a generation younger. The famous Rabbi Bomzer "converted" the Gentile and married them.

    Psychologists say that men and women seek different things from their relationships. Women seek stability and men seek adventure; it is human nature for women to want to marry men like their fathers and for men to wish to seek out women who are different.

    An often overlooked statistic in the intermarriage crisis is that according to "Matrilineal Ascent/Patrilineal Descent" by Dr. Sylvia Barack Fishman, a professor at Brandeis University , women who intermarry get married, on average, three years later than women who marry Jewish men. This three-year gap is statistically significant because it reflects even non observant women's desire to marry a Jew. The intermarriage comes sociologists explain, after a woman gives up on finding a Jewish husband and decides to marry a gentile rather than stay single.

    Two cousins of my husband's, both unmarried, committed, educated Jewish women in their 30s moved in with other Jewish women and conceived children (from Jewish sperm donors) that they plan to raise cooperatively.

    If our Rabbis continue to promote intermarriage as an acceptable option within even Orthodox Judaism, what other choice will there be for thousands of Jewish women who are committed enough to prefer single motherhood to intermarriage?

    Rabbis should consider the Jewish woman left alone and the Jewish home she could have built when they perform a "conversion" they attempt to justify by saying "they are making a Jewish home from an intermarriage".

    In reality, our Rabbis are PREVENTING thousands of Jewish women from ever marrying and preventing the Jewish homes they would have made from EVER being built.

  3. It does raise an interesting qurstion - what breaches would qualify for expulsion?

    Joel Rich

  4. Before responding to R' Riskin's statement, one needs to distinguish between one's instinctive revulsion to this particular cheit and the halakhah itself. And then, how does halakhah treat the chotei, not just the cheit?

    How many shuls have ba'alei to'eivah sitting on the mizrach vant (whether literally or only figratively)?

    "לֹֽא־יִהְיֶ֥ה לְךָ֛ בְּכִֽיסְךָ֖ אֶ֣בֶן וָאָ֑בֶן גְּדוֹלָ֖ה וּקְטַנָּֽה׃... כִּ֧י תֽוֹעֲבַ֛ת ה֥' אֱ-לֹהֶ֖יךָ כָּל־עֹ֣שֵׂה אֵ֑לֶּה כֹּ֖ל עֹ֥שֵׂה עָֽוֶל׃"

    And see Rashi, we're not even talking about thieves, that's already assur. Merely owning the weights is a to'eivah! Al achas kamah vekamah someone who actually plays "shtick" in his business.

    So it seems shuls are capable of accepting non-repentent people who routinely commit to'eivah (in response to far weaker temptation, in fact), when there is no hormonal reaction reinforcing that concept on our gut level.


  5. We all knew it was coming.

    30 years ago when Rabbi Steven Riskin started doing conversions to "help the intermarriage" problem, our Rabbis thought that this was an extreme position that would never become part of "mainstream Orthodoxy".

    Now, it is 30 years later and what do we mamish ACCEPT these days?

    1. Homosexuality


    2. Adultery

    Is there anything left of our glorious Torah heritage?

  6. Garnel, I have great trouble with Rabbi Riskin's quoted words and opinion.

    How do you respond to this statement:

    "I don't object to non-frum parents or bo-aley niddos bringing a child into the world, as long as they do so responsibly"

  7. After reading Reb Micha's comment I am reminded of Rav Chaim Gutnick z"l's answer to those who used to ask him how it was that he allowed certain people to have Aliyos and Kibbudim (Rav Chaim Gutnick was a graduate of Telz in Europe and a Chabadnik later on)

    He used to answer that he didn't see any Ba'alei Averoh. He saw people who came into Shule and were starting on the road to Tshuvah. He meant it.

  8. Rabbi Riskins apparent support for gay couples to use in-vitro for conception is problematic for two reasons.

    For one, it provides tacit support for gay lifestyles and the concept of a gay family structure.

    Secondly we are taliking about raising a child in such an environment.

    However, what is wrong with older single women wanting to conceive a child if they can take care of it responsibly?

  9. "If our Rabbis continue to promote intermarriage as an acceptable option within even Orthodox Judaism, what other choice will there be for thousands of Jewish women who are committed enough to prefer single motherhood to intermarriage?"
    Easy enough: ligt Rabbi Gershon's ban and come back to polygamy.

  10. > "I don't object to non-frum parents or bo-aley niddos bringing a child into the world, as long as they do so responsibly"

    Well that statement answers itself. Responsibly implies they teach their children about Torah and mitzvos.

    As well, there is a fundamental difference in your version. Two non-frum heterosexual parents can become chozrei b'teshuvah and develop a perfectly a legitimate Jewish family. A lesbian couple cannot.

  11. Shoshi, you assume that a substantial number of Jewish men will not only WANT to support more than one family, but will also be able to.

    This reminds me of a joke I heard a few years ago about Lakewood Baalei Batim are pressing for the repeal of the Takana of Rabbenu Gershom because one wife isn't enough to support a family!

    Muslims do permit a man to take up to four wives, and yet only a very few take a second wife.

    This is because the Quran says:"You will never be able to be fair and just among women (wives)...." (4:129)

    Multiple marriages lay a heavy responsibility on men; emotionally and financially. For example, he has to provide separate living accommodations for each of his wives.

    And a Muslim man can't marry another woman without the consent of his wife.

    So, in practice, very few Muslim men have more than one wife and polygamy among Muslims is not a rule but an exception.

    Even though Mizrahi Jews never banned polygamy until recently (upon the creation of the State of Israel); polygamy was extremely rare among the Jewish communities that permitted it.

  12. So it seems shuls are capable of accepting non-repentent people who routinely commit to'eivah.....

    There's no חידוש in what you're saying. In truth, the only תועבות with which we concern ourselves are those that are בין אדם למקום. When it comes to the תועבות of בין אדם לחבירו however, our דור תהפוכות has at best, displayed a flagrant disinterest. Every day within the חרדי עולם we hear of dishonest business practices, defrauding the government, illegally selling human organs, laundering vast amounts of unlawfully made money, etc., etc, which only the most hopelessly delusional can deny- one חילול שם שמים after the other. We seem not to have any problems with such תועבות anymore, and, some of the biggest תועבה violators sit honorably at the מזרח וואַנט.

    While we accuse the Conservative and Reform of 'Smorgasbord Judaism' (take what you like, leave what you don't), are we not guilty of the same? Have we not opted to ignore the תועבות that involve us with עבירות שבין אדם לחבירו?



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