Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Homosexuality & Judaism / R' Freundel

Jonah website


Homosexuality, once a word whispered only with revulsion or derision, is now out in the open for all to see and hear. In fact, homosexuality and its attendant issues have become big news.

Whether it is the rapidly spreading, and ever-more frightening AIDS epidemic, or the increase in sympathetic "gay" characters in the theater and in literature, or the widening legal battles over the status of homosexuals, one cannot go very far in contemporary society with out confronting this once extremely closet-bound topic.

Traditional Judaism, too, has been forced to confront the issue as "gay" individuals and "synagogues" have appeared on the Jewish landscape, often appealing for support from the liberal segments of the Jewish community.

Certainly, an authentic Jewish response must begin with the biblical prohibition against homosexuality. The Bible unequivocally states that a homosexual act between two consenting adult males is a capital crime.

Therefore, homosexuality is an activity that no traditional Jew can engage in, endorse, accept, or approve of (recent televised statements to the contrary notwithstanding)

Despite this initial biblical negative, there is much to discuss regarding our attitude to the homosexual, the issue of the homosexual's place in the community, the question of approach and the treatment of the homosexual, and the problem of the homosexual's rights and acceptance in society. In addition, we must consider why the Bible and Jewish thought reject homosexuality keeping in mind as we do that female homosexuality, though forbidden, is not nearly as serious a crime as is its male counterpart.


  1. Ah yes, the love that once upon a time dared not speak its name now can't shut its mouth for all the tea in China.

  2. Rabbi Dovid Kornreich of Toras Moshe suggested that homosexuals should kill themselves!

    DT but he clearly added

    [Disclaimer: Due to some unforeseen publicity given to this post, it was requested that I make it clear (again) that these arguments do not serve as an excuse for a depressed adolescent Jew to end his misery. If you want to commit suicide because you feel despondent and isolated, that is your own tragic decision and Jewish Law is not to blame. To clarify, this post was for discussion purposes only and primarily formulated to refute the non-Orthodox approval of homosexuality described here: (link)]

  3. Hang on, hang on. When I read that post I was also shocked. Then I read it again. It seems to be a parody. Very subtle, probably too subtle which means people take it seriously but I don't think he meant it.

  4. R. Kornreich's("FKM") post was obviously a parody.

    YU Commentator had a moving essay by a YU yeshiva student who struggled with this issue. From the comments it became clear that laypeople, not being professionals, can not help these people directly, but can certainly empathize(as I did), for whatever that is worth.

  5. I am quite familiar with FKM and I read his post very carefully and it was abundantly clear that it was NOT a parody. (I think that the above commentors just can't bring themselves to believe that he would say something so atrocious.) What would it be a parody of? He is not in the habit of parodying those to the right of him; I cannot recall a single instance of him doing that. In fact I cannot recall him ever writing any parody of any sort. And his efforts at qualifications clearly mean that he was taking himself seriously.

  6. Once difficult, sensitive, topics are being raised, I am wondering whether the instance of abuse/molestation needs to be examined from a religious perspective as well. In other words, is religious life and sociology a risk factor?

    My starting point is that Torah is "deracha darchei noam", and that the frum community, for all its problems, still has stellar strengths over the secular community.

    A few sources and links on what's been publicly said:

    1) R. Chaim Dovid Zwiebel in the Jewish Week touches on the question:

    " Whether, as some claim, the problem is even greater in Orthodox circles than in broader society, whether it is just as bad or whether it is less prevalent, the bottom line is by now clear and undeniable: significant numbers of children growing up in Orthodox homes and attending Orthodox institutions are victims of sexual abuse".

    2) In comment # 44("The System Worked"), worth reading, Dr. Benzion Twerski lists a dozen speculated causes of pedophilia, in general.

    3)Comment # 52, linked below("L'maan Hashem - What Will It Take"?), one commenter writes:

    "We hear such stories all day long about the Catholic church. The pope on his recent visit to the USA made repeated apologies for the role of the church in that matter. For long periods they were in official denial, but have realised that coming clean (and paying handsome settlements) is the only way to get to grips with this matter. Both in recognition of damage already done, and in terms of future prevention.

    We can sometimes be so smug about "the goyim" and what really goes on behind grand officialdom, Even amongst those who purport to be holy. It always irked me a lot, since I knew the truth in our chadorim and I couldn't take the double standard. No matter on whose cheshbon that is.

    We need to recognize that while paedophilia is undoubtedly a source problem at some degree, we cannot afford to ignore a couple of situations, where it is highly plausible that our culture plays a grand role here...

    Yeshive boys (and girls), perfectly normal human beings, are going through their teens without any exposure to members of the opposite sex. Failure to recognise the impact of urgent hormonal instincts, without heaping brick-loads of guilt on our teenagers, means that teens will invariably look at what is available, in urgent quest for gratification. In Yeshiva, I clearly recall a number of boys that went practically crazy about boys or Bar Mitzvah aged. I am sure that with passage of time this wanes. But how many are pushed into developing urges in that direction simply because the thought of girls is so out of bounds?

  7. 4)From the Jewish Star(linked on "Vos Iz Nais"):

    "Norman Blumenthal, a psychologist affiliated with Chai Lifeline and North Shore-Long Island Jewish Medical Center, declined to comment on specific cases, but said: “I think we have to sit down with rabbis and educators and work this issue into the curriculum. We have to teach children to protect themselves. The corollary to that is that we also need to teach our children how to deal with their sexual urges and how to address them because we’re not really addressing that. We need to start talking to them about a Torah perspective on sexual urges and expressions.”

    5) Rabbi Avi Shafran writes in the Jewish Week("A Matter of Orthodox Abuse"):

    "Permit me a counter-hypothesis: A Torah-observant life does not lead to aberrant behavior; it helps prevent it. “I created an evil inclination,” the Talmud quotes the Creator, “And I created the Torah as its antidote [literally: ‘seasoning’].”

    That fundamental Jewish truth that human inclinations are harnessed and controlled by Torah-life and Torah-study is self-evident to anyone truly familiar with the Orthodox community. The vast majority of its members are caring and responsible people who lead exemplary lives, free in large measure from societal ills like rape, AIDS, prostitution and marital infidelity that affect their less “repressed” neighbors.

    That shouldn’t surprise; halacha-observance stresses family, community, compassion for others, control of anger and passions, ethical ideals. To be sure, there will always be observant individuals who sometimes fail the test of self-control, even with horrendous impacts on the lives of innocents. But that no more indicts Jewish observance than the fact that there are corrupt police or drug-addled doctors renders law enforcement or medicine suspect. "


    I leave the solution to people wiser than myself, but if there is a religious factor involved, perhaps parents need to be talking to their kids appropriately to support and ease their development/anxiety to adults in the gender-restricted frum world.

  8. No, it wasn't a parody per se, but I wasn't serious about any practical applications either.
    In the classic lit. it's called "halacha velo lema'aseh". I was making a hashkafic point using halachic arguments and sources. That was all it was.

    In fact, I think we could lay the blame (for anyone's practical application of my argument) on the scandalous and slanderous headlines made by Observer and others who publicized that post. My regular readiship is very limitted.

  9. Recipients and PublicityJune 30, 2009 at 9:45 PM

    Unfortunately, things will probably go from bad to worse on this front because the "president" of the USA, Barack Hussein Obama supports the whole nine yards of the gay-rights agenda with the enablement of his two key so-called "Jewish advisors" Rahm Emanual and David Axelrod who cook up all his moves and words and he acts them out like a puppet on string.

    As reported in The Obama File (6/29/09):

    "Obama Invites Homosexuals To Secret White House Function

    Obama has invited some gays and lesbian leaders to a secret East Room reception on Monday to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion, the 1969 Greenwich Village demonstrations that gave birth to the modern gay rights movement.

    The White House has not publicized the reception. But gay leaders from here and around the country said they had received either telephone calls from the White House or written invitations to the event, and were told Obama is expected to speak.

    Shin Inouye, a White House spokesman, said: "Next Monday's event is a chance for the White House to recognize the accomplishments of LGBT Americans. Invited guests include families, volunteers and activists, and community leaders. This event was long planned as a way to applaud these individuals during Pride month."

    One person who received the invitation said the White House was billing the event as a celebration, akin to the festive affairs the administration holds on St. Patrick's Day or Cinco de Mayo. Another said the invitation included an offer to bring a guest. "They want people to understand that their partners are welcome," said this person, speaking anonymously because the White House has not announced the event.

    "The accomplishments of gay leaders" -- no doubt referring to Barney Frank's single-handed destruction of the mortgage banking system."


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