Murder in the Name of God

Ha’aretz reports:

It was a normal evening in early November. In Netivot, the town of
memorial celebrations for saintly rabbis, quiet is something tangible –
actually rare. Perhaps this was the reason why there was something
disturbing about the quiet that prevailed outside. The little ones were
already lying in bed in their pajamas when suspicious shadows were seen
in the garden outside S.’s kitchen. Looking through the window, she
made out three figures, and she felt something bad was about to happen.
She knew these were the thugs of Rabbi Yoram Aberjil. At that very
moment, her husband, A., was at the police station, filing a complaint
of attempted assault by people he identified as the rabbi’s followers.
She was alone with her small children. "I knew that the outer door of
the kitchen was not locked. That’s how it is in Netivot. My whole body
trembled."

S. pushed the stove against the door and ran to the "safe" room
(reinforced against rocket attacks). She frantically emptied the wall
closet and put the children into it. Meanwhile, the thugs entered the
building. They hammered wildly at the door and shouted over and over
for her to open it. A neighbor yelled from above: "What do you want
here?" They said: "We’ve come to kill her."

"I took a carving knife and held it ready. The children started crying.
I told them: ‘Quiet. If you cry, it will be the end of us.’ I held my
hand over the mouth of the youngest child. One of the children said:
‘Mommy, it’s like in the Holocaust.’" The intruders continued to bang
on the door and shout. Someone called the police, and when they heard
the sirens, they ran off. "That night we packed our bags and fled," she
related.

Until a few months ago, Rabbi Aberjil was the rabbi of S. and her
husband. The two are in their late 20s, and, like all the members of
the community, are newly religious. Over the last year, they decided to
move away from the crowded community. They found an apartment outside
of the area in which the community is concentrated, and moved the
children to schools not identified with Rabbi Aberjil.

In the second week of September, S. relates, the telephone rang, and it
was Rabbi Aberjil on the line. "I want you to know that your children
are precious to me," he said. "I won’t let anyone pick the fruit I
planted. The next conversation will be really painful. I will follow
you. I have ways of making you disappear in a hit-and-run accident. I
will curse your children. I’m telling you, I have powers. Your children
will be orphans."…

Rabbi Aberjil has a long history of sexual harassment and thuggish violence, most of it well known to Israel’s chief rabbis, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, and the head of the Shas party, Eli Yishai. Aberjil continues to prey on ba’alei teshuva and the rabbis continue to remain silent.

There is only one solution. Throw off the yoke of rabbinic leadership. Stop funding religion. Separate Synagogue and State. Run away from these evil men before they destroy you and your children.

[Hat Tip: JWB.]

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/798796.html
A not-so-saintly rabbi in Netivot
By Tamar Rotem

It was a normal evening in early November. In Netivot, the town of memorial celebrations for saintly rabbis, quiet is something tangible – actually rare. Perhaps this was the reason why there was something disturbing about the quiet that prevailed outside. The little ones were already lying in bed in their pajamas when suspicious shadows were seen in the garden outside S.’s kitchen. Looking through the window, she made out three figures, and she felt something bad was about to happen. She knew these were the thugs of Rabbi Yoram Aberjil. At that very moment, her husband, A., was at the police station, filing a complaint of attempted assault by people he identified as the rabbi’s followers. She was alone with her small children. "I knew that the outer door of the kitchen was not locked. That’s how it is in Netivot. My whole body trembled."

S. pushed the stove against the door and ran to the "safe" room (reinforced against rocket attacks). She frantically emptied the wall closet and put the children into it. Meanwhile, the thugs entered the building. They hammered wildly at the door and shouted over and over for her to open it. A neighbor yelled from above: "What do you want here?" They said: "We’ve come to kill her."

"I took a carving knife and held it ready. The children started crying. I told them: ‘Quiet. If you cry, it will be the end of us.’ I held my hand over the mouth of the youngest child. One of the children said: ‘Mommy, it’s like in the Holocaust.’" The intruders continued to bang on the door and shout. Someone called the police, and when they heard the sirens, they ran off. "That night we packed our bags and fled," she related.

Until a few months ago, Rabbi Aberjil was the rabbi of S. and her husband. The two are in their late 20s, and, like all the members of the community, are newly religious. Over the last year, they decided to move away from the crowded community. They found an apartment outside of the area in which the community is concentrated, and moved the children to schools not identified with Rabbi Aberjil.

In the second week of September, S. relates, the telephone rang, and it was Rabbi Aberjil on the line. "I want you to know that your children are precious to me," he said. "I won’t let anyone pick the fruit I planted. The next conversation will be really painful. I will follow you. I have ways of making you disappear in a hit-and-run accident. I will curse your children. I’m telling you, I have powers. Your children will be orphans."

At the end of October, they asked for help from a series of rabbis, among them the town’s chief rabbi, Rabbi Pinhas Cohen. They unwittingly opened a Pandora’s box. Other families of yeshiva students also came to Rabbi Cohen and told of threats made by Rabbi Aberjil. As a result of conversations with women, two files of evidence were compiled about what could be regarded as sexual harassment. Rabbi Cohen passed the complaints on to Rabbi Ovadia Yosef (the country’s leading Sephardic rabbi) and to the Chief Rabbinate. Rabbi Yosef gave instructions to establish a special religious court to examine the complaints.

This is not the first time Rabbi Aberjil has found himself in trouble. Some 10 years ago, there was another wave of complaints by women against him, which were examined by a religious court. He reacted strongly against the current accusations. "The town was seething. People I know who merely spoke with the women who complained were threatened with murder," said one rabbinic source in the town. Rabbi Cohen received threats by phone. His car and that of his wife were vandalized, and he lodged a complaint with the police. Other complainants were ostracized and expelled from Aberjil’s study center, as was anyone who was in contact with them. Two of the complainants were beaten up. As a result of the various incidents, the young men and their wives lodged complaints with the police.

In early November, Rabbi Aberjil gave a speech that could be described as incitement to murder. It was circulated on ultra-Orthodox Web sites: "Whoever mentions my name, create a riot; tell him ‘shut up, you sinner’ … If you have a prayer book, throw it at him; if you have a shoe, throw it at him; if you have a stone, throw it at him … Take a stick and beat him until the man has to get to Emergency … anyone who harms us. Because if he dies, nothing will happen; he died of wickedness."

According to the complainants and rabbinic sources who supported them, the police’s handling of the matter was inadequate. They were abandoned by the rabbis, and this week the special rabbinic court decided to close the case for lack of evidence.

Rabbi Aberjil is an enigmatic character. He developed a kind of new stream in Judaism: Sephardic Hassidism, which draws from both the Chabad (Lubavitch) and Bratslav Hassidic traditions. In a town of "courts" and holy men, he has been able to create a unique image, and draw in the newly religious with magical cords. Both his admirers and his enemies agree that he is a deeply knowledgeable scholar. In his youth, he learned at an Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox (but not hassidic) yeshiva. His style is that of a preacher, spiced with stories of miracles and frightening tales. A rabbinic source in the town explained that it is easy to turn the newly religious into followers: "They revere him. He says he has a connection to G-d, and the newly religious are excited by that. It would not make an impression on those who grew up ultra-Orthodox."

Aberjil gathered strength in Netivot by collecting these scattered souls under his authority. Aside from his community in Netivot, he has been able to attract other groups, among them businessmen who come to consult him. "He knows how to appeal to them. He keeps talking about negating oneself. It’s like brainwashing, and they become dependent on him, like robots," said one of the female complainants. Some 300 men learn at the study center in Netivot, but about one third of them do not define themselves as his followers. The real disciples and their wives are a separate group. They get up early on Shabbat to pray with the rabbi, and to take part in his study session. On the eve of Shabbat, the women, dressed in white, walk considerable distances from their homes, wheeling strollers, in order to receive a blessing. "The women admire him," said the wife of one of the yeshiva students. "They behave like lovers." Students tell of long counseling conversations Rabbi Aberjil has with their wives. According to the complaints, these talks sometimes become intimate, and slip into the realm of sexual harassment.

"Yoram Aberjil presumes to be a marriage counselor," says journalist Yossi Bar-Moha, who has published investigations into the courts of kabbalists. "Neighborhood rabbis tell me that he destroys families. To this man he says, ‘Your wife is no good,’ to that woman he says, ‘Don’t marry him.’"

Many students relate that Rabbi Aberjil expresses himself as if he is blessed with supernatural powers. His powers captivated settlers, many of whom came to consult with him before the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. One of them, from the settlement of Morag, told Haaretz that he bought a house in the settlement one month before the evacuation, because of the advice and blessing of Rabbi Aberjil.

Another young man related that Aberjil despises other rabbis, with the exception of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, and forbids his followers from listening to "Radio Hakodesh," the pirate station of the newly religious. "Don’t believe any rabbi," he likes to say. "I alone have holiness. I alone am G-d-fearing."

According to rabbinic sources who supported the complainants, Aberjil threatened that he would shut down his institutions if he got as much as a reprimand. "The rabbis and the religious court judges have relationships of mutual loyalty, and they had no intention of seriously investigating the matter," said the source. There was an intervention by the chairman of the Shas party, MK Eli Yishai, who treats the rabbi – regarded as an exceptional vote-getter in the south – with kid-gloves. Last week, the complaints and the cassette recordings of the alleged incitement were handed over to Attorney General Menachem Mazuz.

"We innocently believed that we would find a cleaner life in the ultra-Orthodox community," said one of the female complainants. "For us this is a very strong crisis of faith. We expected that at least the chief rabbis would see the truth, but we were bitterly disappointed."

Rabbi Aberjil’s secretary, Erez Reuven, said in response that no force had been used against any of the families. "Not one of us lifted a hand against them. The families should not have left in the first place, and of course they can come back to the town." Referring to the study session whose contents included incitement to murder, he said: "The rabbi educates toward ‘ahavat Yisrael,’ love of the nation; and by the end of the session he explained that he was against violence."

The Negev sub-district of the police gave this response: "The complaints were dealt with efficiently and sensitively. Proof of this can be found in the calm that is being preserved. The complaint against the rabbi regarding incitement to violence was lodged at the Netivot police station. Once testimonies have been collected, the cassette and the material from the investigation will be given to the attorney general, who is the person authorized to determine whether it is a matter of incitement, and whether to instruct the police to launch a [full] investigation."

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53 Comments

Filed under BTs, Crime, Haredim, Israel, Outreach, Sefardim

53 responses to “Murder in the Name of God

  1. Ahavah bat Sarah

    If you go on to read the rest of the article, you will find that a religious court found there was “not enough evidence” to warrant helping the people who had been threatened, beat up, harassed, and exploited. What a surprise. “I have powers,” he said – hasatan’s power, I guess, because God doesn’t work that way. Here’s just another example of them thinking that they are above the law, and as long as people aren’t willing to step up to the plate and present evidence to the secular authorities, this power-mongering will continue. People have got to understand that these thugs only thrive in darkness. The more light of day is exposed on them, the less power they have. So stand up and take it away. Stop cowering alone – stand together. That is the only way to have real justice and real peace.

  2. David Bar-Magen

    Can Haredism be “salvaged?” It doesn’t need to be; we are experiencing a neverending population boom that ensures our survival.

    While many anti-haredi activists like yourself grit their teeth and wish we would go away, we haredim have no intention of departing the scene just yet. Many have tried to erase us before–the Nazis and the Stalinists prominent among them–and all have failed. You will not succeed where the world has failed, so please acknowledge your anti-haredism for the vile anti-Semitism it is and move on with your life.

    You are embarrassed of us.

    Well, that’s understandable; we DO, after all, represent to you the Neanderthal Judaism that you feel should’ve died in the death camps. Unfortunately for you, strict adherence to Jewish law is the sort of thing our people have died for rather than compromise.

    You cite sexual abuse and wild-eyes tales of religious thuggery from a known leftist newspaper to disprove haredi virtue. At most, all you’ve succeeded in doing is proving that yes, the haredim also have a maniacal, criminal fringe element that should indeed be placed behind bars alongside their maniacal Modern-Orthodox, Reform, Conservative and secular brethren. With that I have no argument. Indeed, let the lunatics rot behind bars for a decade or two and rethink the hasty stupidity that they disguised as religion.

    However, to misconstrue these sad stories as symptomatic of the haredi world is to behave just as neurotically, childishly, and dangerously as you accuse us of behaving on a near-constant basis.

    This is not to say that there isn’t room for the haredi world to modernize its level of openness. This would actually provide a sorely-needed change that would hopefully gather enough momentum to save the lunatic fringe from spreading its poison. However, your frequently hysterical, always vitriolic attacks on HareDISM in general reflect more of a stubborn, close-minded spew of bigotry than a balanced, loving desire to see Jews get along with their brothers.

    So, in conclusion, let me reiterate: By all means, slam rabbinic sex predators behind bars, let all Orthodox criminals understand that they do not and never will stand on a pedestal above the law, but do NOT do us any favors by seeking to defame our adherence to the Jewish law and tradition that has kept our people alive and vibrant for centuries through hatred such as the kind you espouse.

    If you respond civilly to this post, I will include my e-mail address and we can continue this conversation in a polite manner. If however, you choose to ignore this, consider yourself as evasive of the truth as the people you despise.

  3. 1. I was a haredi for many years.

    2. I object to rabbinic coverups of abuse and crime, and related problems, which I note clearly above.

    3. Haredism is not the age-old way of being Jewish; it is a new movement founded as a reaction to the haskala (Enlightenment). It has no special standing or pedigree (in other words, no real yichus).

    4. Non-haredi Jews also keep halakha. Think Modern Orthodoxy or the National Religious in Israel. But they do this without fraud, extortion and other institutionalized crimes so normal in the haredi world. Why? Because they do not need to steal to eat, because they work.

  4. David Bar-Magen

    You seem to be overlooking my main issue: whether or not haredism is an ages-old movement, halachic Judaism most certainly is.

    I respect anybody’s right to wear whatever color they please or to complain about problems in the religious community, but to portray such problems as symptomatic of haredim is blatant bigotry.

    I’m willing to assume your own experiences with haredism have been negative–believe me when I say that some of mine have been as well–but I have learned to separate the lunatics from the warm, openhearted doers of kindness that comprise some of the last truly moral beings alive on this earth.

    Lambasting an entire movement because of its idiot fringe is not an intelligent response to these idiots, nor will it amount to anything constructive.

    Halachic Judaism must not be compromised, and many of your posts seem to imply that it should be.

  5. I don’t belive halakhic Judaism should be compromised, but I do believe solutions must be found to issues like, for example, homosexuality.

    The Torah contains what is accepted to be a ban against male-male anal intercourse. It does not contain any ban against male-male closeness, oral sex, etc. The bans against that are rabbinic. But we now know that homosexuality is inborn for many; it is not a choice in the normal sense of the term. Why should rabbinic law based on bad science (actually bad no science) stand?

    This is not an anti-halakhic position.

  6. David Bar-Magen

    “Why should rabbinic law based on bad science stand?”

    Well, primarily because these laws serve not as scientific publications but as barriers against approaching an act of Biblical sin.

    God is the stern father, telling us simply to NOT DO a certain act, and the Sages are like the warmer mother, cautioning us to avoid even the periphery of that act so as not to anger Father.

    Besides, my own findings concerning homosexuality are not reflective of your statements.

    Homosexuality is indeed an inborn PROCLIVITY–much as is incest or even pedophilia–that grows exponentially based on the stimulation it receives. This is true even in normative sexuality: a person’s sexual desire–and its more specific fantasies–increases as per what he has been exposed to.

    Hence, if one recognizes homosexuality as the abnormality it is, one can then refrain from exposing himself to it and thus redirect his sexual proclivity to the kind that will ensure him actual biological descendants.

    If, however, one views it as a “choice” or a “right,” it follows that he will continue his homosexual exposure and fantasy to the point at which it becomes foremost in his spectrum of desire.

    Such views are not PC, of course–and PC is the new God–but are nonetheless scientifically sound and corroborated by a couple of formerly gay individuals that I myself am acquainted with.

  7. 1. Your “findings” have no scientific support.

    2. You condemn men to lives of lonliness and dispair and do so with ease. Think about that.

  8. David Bar-Magen

    “Your findings have no scientific support.”

    An easy, PC assumption to make. Those “findings” are fact, stated in many Psychosexual textbooks across the globe. Buy one.

    “You condemn men to lives of lonliness (sic) and dispair (sic) and do so with ease. Think about that.”

    Oh, I have. I thought about that when I awoke in Yeshiva high school to find a soon-to-be-confirmed gay student standing over me in his boxers.

    He is currently married, with two children, to a real, live estrogen-endowed woman. I did my research the service of calling this man and asking him how he managed to overcome an inclination that society has deemed “irreversible.”

    His comments, taken from a transcript, may enlighten you and other lonely men out there.

    I thought to myself…why should my condition be any different than any other sexual abnormalities? Like pedophilia, for instance. What do they do to you in a pedophilia sensitivity program? They train you to want something else…they show you how what you want isn’t natural and can become criminal. I thought: why can’t I do the same thing? So I did. It was hard, because it had been…so many years since I examined my…sexuality at its roots. And I had a psychologist analyze why it felt so right to have male intimacy…and I very slowly learned to desire a female counterpart. That’s not to say I don’t sometimes…feel a stirring when an attractive guy walks by…but that is the exception rather than the rule.

    I then proceeded to ask him why the vast majority of gays maintain that they have no choice. He replied,

    Because reorientation is a painful…long process that takes years to complete. Like most movements in society today, the gay movement does not want to work any harder than it has to.

    There you have it, Shmarya. Not my words…his. The fact that quite a number of gays have actually gone on to raise a heterosexual family is a fact that modern society prefers to sweep under the rug.

    While I don’t condone the ostracization of gay men from communities or synagogues, I do think they owe it to themselves as respectable human beings to seek psychological evaluation to determine what factors have influenced their homosexuality.

    Once again, my “findings” emerge from research in psychosexuality and interviews with bona-fide, formerly gay man.

    Think about that.

  9. Have read many and have discussed this with pros for research I was doining. Homosexuality is not an illness and the research – peer reviwed, real reasearch – stands against you.

  10. David Bar-Magen

    Then I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree. I can’t argue with someone whose alleged research produced diametrically opposite results that seem to run against human psychosexual composition.

    I’ll have to go tell my formerly gay friend that he’s a liar and a scientific impossibility, since research stands against him.

    But, as a Jew, I leave you to think of this:

    If you accept God as the supreme, omniscient Creator of the universe, there is no way that that God would have assigned us a commandment that is physically, mentally, or sexually impossible to fulfill. He created us; He knows what we are or aren’t capable of.

    And He says homosexual union is a sin.

    Of all the other rational reasonable commandments, are you really prepared to say that this alone is unreasonable and impossible? Was God just having a bad day when He wrote that?

    Since you have stated that you do not seek to compromise halacha, I’m curious as to how you view this.

    P.S. If you’re going to answer that God only forbade sexual intercourse, remember that even allowing everything but sex would still create the same “loneliness” and unfulfillment you mentioned earlier.

    It follows that there must be some other way out.

  11. You have anecdotal evidence. It is not that there are not cases like the one you describe, it is that those cases are not the norm.

    As for the rest of what you write, very many gay men do not practice anal intercourse because they do not enjoy doing it. The still have sex and have closeness.

  12. David Bar-Magen

    Again, my evidence is anecdotal AND based on researching human sexual development. I implore you to reexamine whatever research you have supposedly done and study thoroughly those chapters dealing with sexual proclivity. You’ll find that the vast majority of aberrant sexuality–i.e. pedophilia, bestiality, necrophilia, incestuousness–can be unlearned. Ask yourself why homosexuality should be any different.

    Note: you will not find a direct statement, such as Homosexuality is a proclivity and can be reversed… for the same reason you will not find a statement such as The vast majority of Arabs are sympathetic to or openly aiding terrorism. It’s not PC. What I’m asking you to do is study general sexual proclivity and apply what you learn. You may be surprised.

    The reason my friend’s case is not the norm is because–as my friend has so eloquently said–it is much easier and certainly more fun to be accepted as an alternative lifestylist than to work on one’s psychosexual issues, which would entail a grueling, several year process. And who in modern society values anything slower than “instant”?

    Furthermore, oral sex between gay men would still be forbidden under the prohibition of spilling one’s seed in vain, so we are once again left with loneliness and despair. (Within the confines of halacha.)

    I do acknowledge, of course, that I have no idea what it’s like to be a gay man, and I’m assuming you do not as well. But I’m willing to look underneath the false picture society presents in order to understand God’s commandments.

    Are you?

  13. You don’t understand halakha. men and wonen can have oral sex and can “spill seed” within a commintted relationship. This is normative halakha.

    As for your science, no major medical or scientific group considers homosexuality to be an illness.

    Enough said.

  14. David Bar-Magen

    No, I never called it an “illness.” That’s just vitriolic Shmarya putting words in my mouth, as you do with all haredim.

    I called it a “proclivity,” which you’ll find that it is.

    I am not your enemy. I am Jew like yourself, looking for intelligent conversation on an issue which is quite important. I come here with research and interviews behind me, and you come with repeated parroting of modern societal norms.

    Come on, you can do better than that; we Jews are stubborn, and you seem particularly intelligent to boot. Do the research. For starters, I believe there is an organization, advertised on Arutz Sheva, that addresses the tendencies of Orthodox gays and lesbians. The name escapes me, but I’m pretty sure it’s up there if you only wish to look. Otherwise, books are available.

    “You don’t understand halacha.”

    Wow, that’s quite a sweeping supposition there, Kemosabe. Do you even know who I am to make such a background analysis?

    “As for your science…”

    My science? I didn’t invent it. Science has been developed over millennia. Whether or not one chooses to heed it is, of course, one’s own prerogative.

    “Enough said.”

    No, enough hasn’t been said at all.

    That’s exactly the problem I’m addressing.

  15. Again, try reading. Homosexuality is neither an illness or a proclivity. And science is firmly in my comp, here, not yours.

    And you don’t understand halakha.

  16. David Bar-Magen

    Aw, there you go hurting my feelings again.

    Once again, I suppose neither of us would gain anything from reading, since you will never budge from your firm embrace of the national zeitgeist, and I will never budge from my research concerning human sexual development or my firm belief that God knows what He’s talking about.

    Who are you to say in whose park the ball’s in, or to tell me what I do or don’t know about halacha? You’re acting just like those bullying rabbis you just finished blasting. Hypocrisy does not do you well.

    By the way, if homosexuality were not a proclivity, all those analyses done about men who were molested by their fathers and/or subjected to other emasculating influences would have to go out the window, wouldn’t they? After all, what effect would such experiences conceivably have if homosexuality is synonymous with hair color or body structure?

  17. I pointed out clear halakhic fact. You do not know this because you clearly do not understand how halakha (and by this, I mean poskim) work. This is not bullying. You simply don’t have the facts.

  18. Men abused as boys often themselves abuse as men. But abuse and homosexuality are not synonyms.

  19. David Bar-Magen

    By stating how I don’t know halacha or “have the facts,” you’re referring, of course, to statements by a minority of poskim about allowing the “spilling of seed” in a normative male-female relationship to an extent. I am aware of this ruling, and I don’t recall reading anything in that psak regarding homosexual acts.

    While you have repeatedly asserted that I don’t know what I’m talking about, you have yet to provide any information of your own.

    Until then, I may well call your statements bullying.

  20. David Bar-Magen

    I am referring to Bieber’s work in the 1980’s and 90’s, concerning how over 90% of the gay men he interviewed were either neglected or molested by the dominant male figure in the family; i.e. an older brother or father. This study implied much about homosexuality being learned rather than innate, and of course infuriated many, many people.

  21. That “minority” of poskim was a majority until the zohar (a forgery) was published. There are poskim today, poskim you would know, who tell gays who cannot abstain to do oral, masturbatory sex but not anal intercourse. But they don’t publish these rulings becaus ethey don’t want to be beaten on the streets.

  22. David Bar-Magen

    Well, I can certainly understand their reluctance. However, all you’ve done is posit the existence of a “lesser-of-two-evils” psak that is comparable to R’ Moshe Feinstein’s psak about being “allowed to continue smoking for the length of time it takes to wean oneself from it.”

    In other words, this is an incidental rather than blanket allowance, and certainly doesn’t guarantee comfort and joy to gay Jewish couples worldwide; it only ensures an easier time of weaning oneself from the relevant vice.

    And why would we have that if weaning is indeed impossible?

  23. In this pro-Homosexality-as-illness review of Bieder’s study, it is noted:

    He describes the difficulty of putting homosexuality in an appropriate category: Is it a developmental arrest, or an illness? Is it a constitutional disorder, a genetic misprint, a habit? Through his longterm research on the subject, Dr. Bieber concludes that homosexuality is not a normal sexual adaptation.

    Make that a fairly common genectic “misprint.” Now go back and look at halakha. If the Torah forbids only anal sex – and this is the normative halakhic claim – then why should we have a whole class of people, thousands of people, suffering when they could have other types of gay sex?

    Rabbis did not know about genes. Now they do. Times change. So does evidence. Interperate halakha accordingly.

  24. “n other words, this is an incidental rather than blanket allowance, and certainly doesn’t guarantee comfort and joy to gay Jewish couples worldwide; it only ensures an easier time of weaning oneself from the relevant vice.”

    No it isn’t. And the word “vice’ is intirely unnecessary and inappropriate.

  25. David Bar-Magen

    Indeed, Bieber did conclude that homosexuality is not “normal sexual adaptation.” That’s my point. It is spurred by abnormal environmental influences, which would explain the amazingly high number of gays whose dominant male figure was abusive or absent. “Genetic misprint” is your emphasis, not Bieber’s, and he famously rejected that possibility.

    Rabbis did not know about genes, true. But this is not a genetic issue, and though Bieber did discover a possible psychosexual center of the brain, he ended up concluding that it wasn’t the orientation center.

    It isn’t encoded; it’s affected.

    Perhaps we should be asking ourselves why so many Jewish fathers are apparently abusive or absent, and stop blaming the rabbis.

    (You yourself noted in your article about the YTT pedophile that one boy he abused has since become gay. I wonder why that might be.)

    Oh, and the word “vice” simply denotes an enjoyable indulgence, which I think squarely includes sex and cigarettes. Not offensive whatsoever, and certainly not intended that way.

    I have to go for a while, but rest assured I will be back. Nothing will bend my stubborn Jewish neck.

    God himself pointed that out, I believe, and in this you can trust Him.

  26. C-G

    DB-M,

    How Freudian of you to ascertain that homosexuality is merely a “proclivity”. So many gays, enduring lives of hardship as a result to their “proclivities” should rejoice now that you’re here to set them straight (pun intended). But alas, Freud’s theory, that all of us, even you, are born innately bisexual, was dumped along the wayside even before the 1950’s.

    Since then, homosexuality as a pathological condition has been eliminated from the pages of the DSM, unless it directly contributes to other types of psychological disorders.

    While it may be possible that your friend in the boxers actually had a proclivity that was un-proclivitied by some therapeutic procedure, numerous studies (and my own set of anecdotal evidence- so there!) have shown that this does not work for everyone.

    I am very happy for your friend and I wish him well, but your reasoning is far from scientific, at least to this scientist. If I were to try and prove a science-based principle using a single anecdotal example, a few psukim of religious text, personal conviction and, to top it off, ego, I’d have trouble selling it to even the least prestigious journals.

    Sorry to be such a bully.

  27. Bieder is a daat yachid. And he supports a genetic reason for homosexuality. That is my point.

  28. David Bar-Magen

    Um, we’re not talking about Freud here, CG. Bieber. I said Bieber. I’ll say it again.

    Bieber. (If you say it often enough, it sounds like a cricket.)

    His works were analyzed even after homosexuality was removed from the DSM, in order to determine where it falls along the nature/nurture divide; a genetic encoding has not yet been discovered.

    (This is science I’m discussing; my friend in the boxers can remain on the sidelines with his assuredly female wife and two biological children for the meantime.)

    Egotistical, you accuse? Moi? Last I checked, having an opinion doesn’t constitute an overinflated ego. Barging into an argument that one has not properly analyzed, however…

    As far as being “un-proclivitied,” I am in agreement that it does not work for everyone as it did for my friend. And of course, being against shock treatment, I can’t suggest forcing the issue any more than conceivable. However, considering that environmental influences seem to play a major part in developing homosexual tendencies, I would heartily recommend finding and eliminating these influences.

    Get Dad to spend some (non-abusive) time with Junior. Have the relationship between them be one of mutual love and respect, not warden-jailer and certainly not the contemporary buddy-buddy.

    In practice, how can this be done?

    Well, Jewish Orthodox fathers can sometimes be absent for long periods because of long learning sessions in the beis midrash or demanding jobs. Perhaps it wouldn’t hurt for them to be home in time for homework.

    Also, haredi education occasionally demeans women and minors. Make ’em cut it out.

    By the way, I’m not trying to sell anything to any journal. My research was done simply for my own desire to understand. When you become rich and obscenely famous, don’t forget to mock me in a footnote or something.

  29. David Bar-Magen

    Okay, Shmarya, I’ve read your link.

    It’s thoroughly interesting and comprehensive, but it still doesn’t rule out environmental influences as an affector of homosexuality.

    Even if there were to be a genetic center, the sustained development of homosexuality is achieved through exposure to environmental abnormalities.

    Compare it to the “primary walking” phenomenon amongst infants; a psychologically instinctive reaction that resets itself when not put to sustained use.

  30. Not what science says. Doesn’t work that way.

  31. David Bar-Magen

    Blanket denial does not a scientist make.

  32. Of course not. Just go here and read:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/dispomim.cgi?id=306995

    [Thanks to C-G for this one.]

  33. David Bar-Magen

    Besides, as I’ve pointed out, almost all other aspects of human sexuality do “work that way.” (Gradual development.) Why not homosexuality?

    Is there such thing as a gay baby?

    Anyway, no matter how you slice it, no-one has proven your theory over mine or my theory over yours. That’s why I didn’t want to enter into the technicalities of this at first; I knew we’d arrive at the classic you-believe-what-you-want-to-believe-and-I’ll-believe-what-I-want-to-believe impasse.

    Nevertheless, one should be very careful in his questioning the rulings of the rabbis. Remember that they only reflect or refine the Torah’s word; they don’t negate it.

    The packaging of the Torah may be changed, but the package must be untouched.

    And that is the way it works.

  34. “Is there such thing as a gay baby?”

    And with that, the entire National Academy of Science has collapsed in collective peals of laughter.

  35. David Bar-Magen

    Did you read this part, O Purveyor of Worldly Wisdom?

    Risch et al. (1993) provided a critique of the Hamer study. They pointed out that a priori one would expect the role of a major gene in male homosexual orientation to be limited because of the strong selective pressures against such a gene. It is unlikely that a major gene underlying such a common trait could persist over time without an extraordinary counterbalancing mechanism. They also commented that many of the limitations in the data are a reflection of the difficulties in conducting studies with so many political and social ramifications.

    Hamer (1994) emphasized that the findings of his study should not be interpreted as ‘medicalizing’ homosexuality. Sexual preference should be viewed, he insisted, as a behavioral variable, and the studies he and others have reported as studies of the genetic influence.

    Now wipe those tears of mirth from your rosy cheeks and explain why this study is in any way conclusive about homosexuality being predetermined kismet.

  36. David Bar-Magen

    P.S. The National Academy of Science has never seen Family Guy.

  37. I think, as C-G noted, you don’t truly understand. Every day, science moves further and further into the genetic predispotion camp. And it has already rejected illness.

  38. David Bar-Magen

    And I think you didn’t read the selection I italicized.

    Nevertheless, I will restate my position as it has developed through my argument with you.

    I initially posited that science supports the idea of homosexuality being a learned behavior, and I supported my comments by quoting Bieber.

    You replied with an article detailing how genetic encoding has been found for homosexuality.

    I conceded that homosexuality may very well be genetically encoded, but that a criticism of the same study, found in the same article you touted, proves that this is in no way a predetermined, be-all end-all result. (That was why I added the “gay baby” comment.) Rather, the result is developed through abnormal behavioral stimuli, and would not otherwise develop if not for this stimulation.

    Therefore, my position is that this stimulation (i.e. neglectful male figure, molestation, et al) should be prevented at the source in order to reduce or eliminate the risk of this genetic coding finding later expression.

    If, however, a person nonetheless develops into a homosexual, halacha would then dictate that he work as hard as he can to unlearn this behavior. (Not the proclivity, the behavior.)

    I also suspect that your constant reiteration of my lack of understanding is a product of your deeply-held belief that anyone identifying himself as a haredi who believes in the words of our Sages is immediately unable to conduct an intelligent conversation.

    I can find no other reason for your consistent repetition of my not understanding. I don’t believe you or the honored CG have yet said anything too extraordinarily highbrow for my little mind.

  39. C-G

    Don’t be so quick to rule out gay babies.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&dopt=Abstract&list_uids=1887219

    If there’s any more of your pseudo-scientific tripe you need me to de-bunk, I’m always happy to help.

    And while I dream of one day becoming “rich and obscenely famous” (actually, I’d like to be obscenely rich- fame isn’t necessary), I’ve chosen the wrong field. I’m a researcher, not Britney Spears. If you feel the need to be mocked, you’re going to have to settle for this comment section.

  40. David Bar-Magen

    Sure, CG. It’s just, I can’t help noticing that no-one seems to have actually responded to my thesis–namely–that while homosexuality may be biologically based, it requires environmental stimuli to develop.

    The only replies I’ve gotten is Shmarya’s petulant insistence that I just don’t understand and your feather-ruffling harumphing over my “pseudo-science.” (I.e. an inference from the exact same text that you yourself quoted, based on Risch’s critique of Hamer’s study.)

    I’m sorry if my challenge of accepted doctrine constitutes moving your cheese, but I think I have the constitutional right to express my opinion and conduct conversation as much as the next person.

    You don’t have to like it. Hell, you don’t even have to answer it. But infantile name-calling does nothing to advance your argument.

  41. C-G

    Whoa- hold on. No fair coming out with both guns blazing and then crying because I’m name-calling (which I’m not).

    Sorry if you don’t care for my insistance on sticking to facts rather than things we want to believe that may not necessarily be true. Of course you have the right to your opinion- no one said otherwise, and you’ve been quite generous with it, I must say. And yes, you may conduct conversation, although I was a little taken aback by your own assertion that I was barging into a (public) conversation. Can’t have it both ways.

    And to get back to your thesis, I agree that in some cases evidence points to your being correct. But not always and most likely not even most of the time.

  42. Yos

    Gays and Intelligent Design aside, contemporary Haredi culture (a creation of recent generations) has displayed more than it’s share of theft, fraud, violence and disaffection. Do away with that, and you can argue about bugs in water, wear little black kippah and go out of your way to be extra extra extra observant until Moshiach comes.

  43. David Bar-Magen

    I appreciate your toned-down disagreement, minus the “pseudo-scientific tripe” business that you stated earlier. (The source of my accusation of name-calling.)

    Allow me to explain myself a bit, and why I came out with “guns blazing.”

    I’m sick, and I mean totally, screamingly sick of haredim being maliciously slandered at every turn. While I do not in any way condone the various idiocies that are present among their idiot fringe, I strongly decry the idea of dismissing the entire validity of a people because some of them are acting like idiots.

    If that were the sole criterion for dismissal, the entire human race might as well nuke itself tomorrow.

    I’ve been a “lurker” at FalseMessiah.com for quite a while, and I’ve grown increasingly disgusted at the bitter, venomous hatred espoused in so many posts.
    It reminds me of the time I visited Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, and saw these two secular teens laughing–laughing–at the famous photo of the Nazi officer beating an old, bearded Jew on the ghetto street.

    One of them mock-kicked the air and said, “What fun it would be to do that to a haredi.”

    Gentlemen, there is something truly warped about a generation of Jews whose members would enjoy seeing other members dead. It is the antithesis of what we stand for as Jews, and an attitude that frightens me beyond explanation. Is this what we’ve become?

    I don’t know what it was about this post–which, incidentally, we’ve all veered quite far from–that spurred me to finally speak up, but once I started typing I couldn’t stop.

    As far as the actual argument at hand, well, my sole intention here is to prove that things are not as black and white as modern society likes to pretend.

    Bible-bashing is de rigeur nowadays, and most of what anyone says that is anti-religious is blindly and hungrily accepted without a single thought to its validity or moral merit.

    Well I, as a Jew, do not believe that God would present us with a command that cannot be fulfilled. The entire Torah is a device to hone the most moral, kind, and ethical parts of us, and it does not follow logic that one commandment out of all of them is nonsensical.

    Hence, I decided to examine if homosexuality is indeed the sort of be-all end-all that society insists it is, and lo and behold, a couple of notable scientists (and yes, my friend in the boxers)indicated that things are not quite as cut and dried as one might think.

    In fact, the section I quoted above clearly states that Hamer’s study was said to be compromised by the many social and political factors that hinged on it. And no wonder. Can you imagine anyone nowadays stating in a public gathering that homosexuality is a learned behavior that can be altered?

    It’s not PC, it’s not the zeitgeist, and therefore it’s not right.

    But that doesn’t cut it for me.

  44. David Bar-Magen

    P.S. I apologize for accusing you of “barging in” earlier. This is obviously not my conversation to dictate, and I was simply irritated at what I saw as your supercilious, condescending tone.

  45. Neo-Conservaguy

    I believe C-G has no tone – she has science, which is based only upon facts – proved theories with results and data that can be reviewed and replicated by peers. In this discussion, when the science doesn’t support one’s views, it seems all to easy to start making accusations and bringing emotion into what should be a factual discussion. Seeing foolish, hurtful behavior on the part of Israeli teens mocking haredim has nothing to do with the factual discussion regarding homosexuality. There certainly an important separate discussion to be had regarding why those teens and many, many other Jews – including religious Jews – have a great deal of ire for some haredim; the discussion, however, is a distraction to the current topic, and should perhaps be reserved for another thread/time.

  46. David Bar-Magen

    On the contrary: if you read back through this thread you will discover that the original topic was indeed haredim and then digressed into the current discussion on homosexuality.

  47. C-G

    Okay, David, back to the original post.

    Seems there was a Rabbi in Netivot who just couldn’t handle break-ups. Echoes of “Fatal Attraction” ensue. Okay, easy to characterize as “lunatic fringe”.

    And we have a group in Postville Iowa, no relation to the first group, that managed to convince seemingly M-O Jews who should know better, that their own eyes could not be trusted; “limbs” which were torn from live animals- documented on film- well, they weren’t, trust them… Okay, lunatic fringe strikes again.

    How about cover-ups of abuse by rabbis, perpetrated by people who, again, should have known better- that finally is coming back to bite them in the tuchus? More lunatic fringe?

    A hareidi gunman assassinates the Israeli PM, believing he’s acting on orders from Hashem. Really lunatic fringe.

    Cans of government-issued foods piled up at a Jewish dayschool for use- not by the children, but by other groups of people who use the facility. The school discontinued its lunch program decades ago but still continues to falsify paperwork to keep the supplies coming. There’s less fringe on my husband’s tallis than there is at this school, right?

    Rabbis in Israel demanding stricter standards for gerim- essentially telling upstanding rabbis in the States that their conversions will be assumed to be non-kosher based on… well, based on the fact that they might possibly be… I thought these Israeli rabbis were the mainstream. Okay, maybe they’re fringe, too.

    A woman writes to a womens’ halachic website that she needs advice because her future husband’s rav won’t let his followers seek the services of doctors or other medical professionals. Fringe.

    I could go on, but I have to get to work. So let’s quickly tie up the fringe analogy: When a cloth has so much fringe distributed throughout its entirety, at some point you have to stop calling it fringe and accept the fact that the fabric’s integrity has been compromised; it’s threadbare, torn.

    Show me a hareidi community untainted by its leaders’ or followers’ scandal, insanity and ignorance, and I’ll think about reversing my stance.

    Until then, I will regard hareidi influence on M-O institutions like the OU with skepticism and distrust, and I will continue to read this and other publications with the goal of reclaiming Judaism for all Jews.

  48. David Bar-Magen

    Your points are well-taken, but your overall conclusion smacks of conspiracy hysteria.

    Of course all these sad cases are trumpeted throughout the Jewish universe; it’s a classic application of the man-bites-dog theory. For every government-swindling yeshiva, there are five more that pay their taxes regularly and obey the government’s directives without a shade of dishonesty. Nobody cares about them. For every thuggish rabbi unfit for his post, there are tens of warmhearted, intelligent rabbis who bring countless people closer to Judaism by sheer force of their golden personalities; sans the “shtick” of the contemporary kiruv world. Nobody cares about them. For every whacko who decries medical consultation, there are hundreds of Jewish doctors who successfully treat hundreds of Jewish patients. Nobody cares about them.

    Yes, CG, there are whackos out there, but you hear of them all the time simply because they’re whackos. Blithely believing the grand, sweeping generalizations of an alarmist publication like Haaretz is like buying the National Enquirer’s assertion that Elvis and Bigfoot really did produce a three-headed baby. Somewhere in there is a grain of truth, but the boulder built around this truth is made out of excrement.

    So what’s the grain of truth?

    Haredi society needs to grow up. Their own alarmist attitude, popularly referred to as “not-themism,” is destructive to the very ideals they stand for. They need to have greater presence in the army, the workforce and the government instead of complaining constantly about how all of the above are run, or throwing immature riots in which policemen are hurt and their own garbage bins are destroyed.

    Still, most of the idiocy in the haredi world has an equal or opposite parallel in the MO, Reform, or Conservative worlds as well. Do you really believe that haredim are the only kind of Jews out there who behave arrogantly or thuggishly? Come on, now.

    The reason haredim are so often the targets is, in reality, because an illusion exists that they stand for being better than everyone else.

    They don’t. I lived with them for four years in Meah Shearim, and the vast majority of them just wanted to conduct their lives in peace. I very rarely heard any opinion expressed about secular Jews or even Zionism in haredi homes; they were more interested in what their children had learned in school (or what they had learned in the beis midrash) than in political or religious discourse.

    In all my experience watching the “Shabbos, shabbos” demonstrations on Bar-Illan, only once did I see a stone thrown, and that was by a fifteen-year-old child whose father slapped him immediately and yelled that one must not throw stones at passing motorists.

    Contrary to popular opinion, women and men do not walk on separate sides of the street on Meah Shearim; they pass each other constantly, but simply refrain from socializing.

    In short, I almost never encountered all this wicked, gleeful hand-rubbing haredi crime that the newspapers live and breathe.

    I did encounter immaturity and distrust toward the “others,” much like what exists in the greater Jewish world toward the haredim.

    It’s time to stop believing everything we are told and to re-examine the cause, if any, of our senseless hatred against our brothers.

  49. C-G

    “Haredi society needs to grow up. Their own alarmist attitude, popularly referred to as “not-themism,” is destructive to the very ideals they stand for. They need to have greater presence in the army, the workforce and the government instead of complaining constantly about how all of the above are run, or throwing immature riots in which policemen are hurt and their own garbage bins are destroyed.”

    Yes!!!!!!!

    “The reason haredim are so often the targets is, in reality, because an illusion exists that they stand for being better than everyone else.”

    Aaaaah…. Herein lies the essence of the dilemma. The loudest and most visible (at least to those of us in the US) of the hareidi rabbis deal in the perpetuation of this “illusion”, that their way is the best, the only, the true “Torah Judaism” way of being a halachic Jew, and everyone else had better fall in line.

    If that wasn’t the case, why would American orthodoxy be constantly cowtowing to right-wing, hareidi leadership? Why is Agudas considered by many M-O rabbis to be the gold standard of affiliation? Why the resurgence of cholov Yisroel and yoshon? Why is Agriprocessors so big and powerful? Why is the OU be so inextricably linked to hareidi institutions?

    Look, I’m all for live and let live. I have met some absolutely wonderful haredim- but I’ve also seen the corruption that lies beneath the surface of their communities. If it was about “you go your way, I’ll go mine,” great. But when my own life and ways get twisted in the threads of haredism for no good reason other than politics, I’ll keep making my stand.

    And no, I haven’t seen such blatant misuse of religion as a cover for corruption in the Conservative and Reform movements.

  50. David Bar-Magen

    Then I don’t actually think we disagree on much, because I was discussing the level of corruption in general, not the corruption specifically disguised as religion.

    (Warning: incoming anecdotal evidence.)

    A family I know allowed their Reform rabbi to give their eleven year old daughter bat mitzva lessons in the privacy of his home.

    Big mistake. She came home with stories of this rabbi touching her constantly and talking about how she was pretty enough to marry him.

    The family went into red alert, and guess what? Other families had experienced the same thing.

    No-one had said anything, because the rabbi was just the dynamic individual they all wanted, with the right kind of vibrancy and anti-Orthodox rhetoric that made them proud.

    A pedophile? No biggie.

    This rabbi remains a respected figure in his community to this day, though he has honorably discharged himself from the rabbinate. This family, whose daughter began cutting herself during adolescence, were the ones to leave town.

    The community continues to protect him and to laugh off all allegations as the ridiculous fantasies of pre-pubescent girls who have crushes on their rabbi.

    So long as this slimeball continues to refer to the Orthodox as Mad Black Hatters, there’ll always be a warm home for him in his town, with fresh young girls reaching maturity every year.

    My own nephew, an Orthodox child in a MO yeshiva, was laughed out of class, in tears, when the teacher mentioned how “his kind” were nothing but “leeches” and “falsifiers of religion.”

    Shades of Nazism. Next we know, we’ll have to wear yellow armbands over the black-and-white ensemble to better identify us.

    I can go on, but I am aware of how cumbersome that makes the reading of my posts. Suffice it to say that these stories never make the paper, and are probably responsible for the steadily rightward shift of many branches of Judaism.

    Remember that there is a minority of Orthodox and a vast majority of the other affiliations, even in America. The “man bites dog” routine is just as extant, and our every wrongdoing is blown up to “Times Square billboard” importance and paraded around for all to see.

    Also, the fact that haredi organizations are considered the “gold standard” by the US Orthodox is not necessarily a result of the haredim saying as much.

    The haredi movement has simply thrown quite a lot of time, sweat, blood, and money into making sure that their organizations provide what haredim want.

    Since no-one else is going to hand them cholov yisrael and yashan on a silver platter, the haredim have understandably taken it upon themselves to ensure the availability of their stringencies.

    I say, go right ahead. MO Jews have no reason to buy exclusively what the haredim sell if they don’t want to. God knows how many giant shopping chains exist in the US, and Jews may always buy whatever products they so please.

    Even in Israel, haredi communities sell haredi products, and the outlying communities do not. Plain and simple.

    There is corruption in nearly every community, and the question one must ask is only why Orthodox corruption must constantly be held up for all to see while the hatred, bigotry, and corruption of other communities is hastily swept under the rug.

  51. Sam

    Reading scott’s argument evading and counter argument missing rants in response to Mr. Bar Magen inteligent statements confirms that scott has no interest in truth; he is only interested in slandering religious jews.

    also, as to his suggestion that rabbinic laws be scratched, kholila, due to ‘science’ – every rabbinic law has Torah authority in an explicit Torah command. And the violation of a ribbanic command entials violating a Torah command to listen to the Rabbis.

    So sorry, the distinctiojn you wish to make for all intents and purposes is invalid,

    Every

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