Orthodoxy and Homophobia

Steven I. Weiss has done us all a service by putting Agudath Israel’s press release on the Conservative movement’s gay rabbi debate up on the web:

AGUDATH ISRAEL LAMENTS
CONSERVATIVE MOVEMENT DECISION

“An Abandonment of All Pretense of Fealty to Judaism”

NEW YORK – Noting with sorrow the Conservative movement’s “Committee on Jewish Law and Standards”’ shameless endorsement of a position permitting “commitment ceremonies” between people of the same gender and the ordination as Conservative rabbis of people living openly homosexual lives, a spokesman for Agudath Israel of America called the decision “an abandonment of all pretense of fealty to Judaism.”

Rabbi Avi Shafran, Agudath Israel’s director of public affairs, stated that “this ruling doesn’t conserve the Jewish tradition, it defies it.”

“The entire corpus of halacha, or Jewish religious law,” he said, “makes abundantly clear that homosexual behavior is sinful. That a movement claiming to uphold the Jewish religious tradition can arrogate to stand halachic Judaism on its head is tragic. It will no doubt cheer those who place contemporary mores above the Jewish mandate, but in the end, it seals the fate of a movement long mired in muddle and malaise.”

“While every Jew is precious in the eyes of Heaven,” Rabbi Shafran continued, “and while some of us may face more difficult challenges than others as we strive to live by the Torah’s prescriptions, that striving is the very essence of what it means to be a Jew committed to Judaism.”

Now the facts. 1. The only homosexual behavior called sinful (actually, an "abomination") by the Torah is male-male anal intercourse. 2. Homosexuals are not called sinful or abominations. 3. Oral sex is not forbidden by the Torah. Neither is masturbatory sex. Indeed, poskim allow married heterosexual couples to do both, without worry about "spilling seed." The Conservative Movement’s new position is based on these points, and is in no way "an abandonment of all pretense of fealty to Judaism."

Agudath Israel – whose leading sages either covered for or ignored a serial pedophile who perpetrated rabbi-on-boy sexual abuse for almost 40 years – has no business commenting on the actions of the Conservative Movement, especially when Shafran and Agudah fell silent when asked to comment on the rabbi-on-boy sex abuse.

But this is not only about Agudath Israel and its snake-oiled spokesman. In truth, what we have here is homophobia dressed in the guise of Judaism. From the RCA’s condemnation to UTJ’s, one thing stands out – a lack of compassion and concern for those born gay who seek, nonetheless, to lead a committed Jewish life.

This lack  of compassion – as so clearly demonstrated during the vitriolic opposition to Jerusalem’s Gay Pride parade – again shows Orthodoxy in all its forms to be far more concerned about laws dealing with man’s relationship to God, like the ban on male-male anal intercourse, than it is about the laws of conduct between people. This is why convicted haredi criminals lead haredi communities and are given seats of honor at communal functions, while openly gay men who seek to live the most honest and committed Orthodox life they can are ridiculed and often exiled from their communities.

What do you think God hates more? A convicted swindler with a 30 year record of fraud leading a haredi rabbinic organization and writing a weekly column in an Orthodox newspaper or two openly gay men trying desperately to carve out a life for themselves within Orthodoxy? If you have trouble answering this question you have failed Judaism 101.

Advertisements

21 Comments

Filed under Gay Pride March, Haredim, Jewish Leadership, Modern Orthodoxy

21 responses to “Orthodoxy and Homophobia

  1. Steven

    How is it possible that the Torah would allow oral sex between two men but not anal sex? Doesn’t the Torah state that if man lies with man as he does with woman, it is an abomination? It would seem to me that based on the Biblical proscription, any kind of homosexual sex is prohibited. I’m not passing judgment on homosexuals, just trying to figure out the Torah position.

  2. Another point misunderstood: the Committee on Law and Standards actually accepted three responsa on this matter. The other two confirmed the existing position.

    A fact lost on all haredi/Orthodox Jews seems to be that Judaism was *never* a completely unified thing. There were always different opinions. Conservative Judaism now recognizes the liberal opinion on this matter as one interpretation. Indeed, from what I’ve read it’s going to be a while before the JTS ordains open gays.

    I’m not sure I actually agree with the liberal responsa on this matter, but I think it’s more important not to let it divide us into further camps. I would rather have gays in the community than abandoned by it, even though I may disagree with their argument.

    So the movement has actually adopted both positions, but the haredi/Orthodox camps will naturally use any excuse they can to refuse to recognize us. It’s not like their opinion of us is actually different now.

  3. Steven –

    The traditionally understood meaning of the biblical verse is anal intercouse between men, and this is what is codified in halakha.

  4. Steven

    Shmarya,

    Are you saying then that the Rabbanim who codified the Halakhah allowsfor men to engage in oral copulation? Or is this not discussed, thus leaving a loophole or avenue open? (Sort of like lesbianism, which does not have a capital offense to it, as it is never mentioned in the Torah.)I find it hard to believe that Judaism would allow any kind of male to male sexual contact based on the Torah.

  5. I’m saying, just as I wrote in the post, that the only biblical prohibition is on male-male anal sex.

  6. schuckarya

    Shmarya,

    I no longer have any doubt. You are gay (and desperate).

    (does this make me a homophobe?)

  7. Ma Rabbi

    Stop misleading people. You are not the Rabbi of a Shul. You dont have Semicha. You are just plain wrong.
    Masturbation is forbidden.As is stated in the Shulchan Aruch. Sex between married people which causes ” spilling of seed” is also forbidden. See Shulchan Aruch Even Haezer.Also see this weeks Torah portion. The story of Er and Onan and Rashis commentary.This is the source of the term “Onanism.” I have no interest in showing you up, but its not right that you mislead innocent people.

  8. Look, you’re wrong. As it says, “A man can do what he wants with his wife.” Poskim permit male-feamale anal sex,oral sex and mastrubatory sex.

    You don’t know this?

    You failed my little Yorah Dayah quiz a few months ago, remember? You said I didn’t know what I was talking about, I wasn’t a rabbi, blah, blah, blah. And then I told you the question was a standard question from the Rabbinut smicha exam, and I quoted the sources and proved you wrong.

    You may once have learned from Rav Moshe. But you have spent your time among those who do not learn poskim and shas, and the effects of this are clear.

    Again, a man can do sexually what he wants to with his wife, including anal sex, oral sex and mastrubatory sex, even if he “spills seed.” It is not an aveiyra. It is wholly and completely muttar.

  9. Ma Rabbi

    Wrong again. The meaning of the statement “a man can do” does Not apply to spilling seed. This prohibition is stated in Even Haezer. Go learn.
    About the “rice”. The answer I gave you was the correct one according to Ashkenazic practice. If you dont understand this, then ask Rav Dovid, or Rav Blumenkranz etc.
    I continue to learn Shas and Shulchan Aruch almost every night. Unlike you who spends all his time computer blogging.

  10. No. The answer you gave me about rice was wrong, even according to Ashkenazic practice. Again, it’s a normal question on the Rabbinut exam.

    As for the rest of what you write, you’re simply unfamiliar with normative poskim. Blumenkrantz (remember when he wanted to forbid styrofoam cups because of tarfus?) is not only abnormal, but a fool, as well. He Peasch books have been a laughingstock in batei midrashot for years.

    And you ask Rav Dovid. And then apologize to his dead father your the ignorance you spout in his name.

  11. Should be “for the ignorance you spout in his name.”

  12. Anonymous

    You are ducking the issue again. The bottom line is this: The Shulchan Aruch Even Haeer rules that it is forbidden for a man to spill his seed.

  13. Which is understood by pokim to mean “for no purpose.” He is allowed to spill his seed w/in a committed male-female relationship where coitus is also practiced. That is the normative halakhic understanding.

  14. Yehud

    I dont know much about this topic. But I would think that an orthodox gay man, whose urges are so powerful that he cannot live a celibate life or only masturbate (although he has tried to the best of his ability), should have a relationship with another male in a safe and controlled manner rather than the other options available to him. Usually such a person will either stay officially single, or get married, and very possibly engage in very dangerous, anonymous sexual behavior, as is known to occur with those who cannot be open with their sexuality. Or he may leave judaism all together, and lose out on the other many mitzvot he could be doing.
    However I feel that an official open acceptance regarding homosexulaity, as the conservative are doing, is not good either. I would think that this would fall under the talmudic dictum, ” If one senses that the evil inclination is overpowering him, let him go to a place where he is unknown, and let him wear black clothes that do not draw attention or lend stature to the wearer. If he still feels the need to sin, let him do that which he feels compelled to do. Thus the sinner – though he will transgress – will avoid publicly defiling God’s name.” This way at least, the matter isn’t openly condoned, and flaunted in the face of the public (like a gay pride parade). However, privately each Jew should be educated to know and understand that there are fellow Jews doing the absolute best they can given their circumstances, and they should not be judged, or loved any less for being homosexual.

  15. Scam Alert

    scotty should marry keller in a conservative seremony

  16. Moshe

    What do you mean by masturbatory sex? If you mean masturbation, it is well known that most poskim hold that spilling of the seed is prohibited by the Torah.See Shulchan Aruch E”H 23.Can you please cite the Poskim who you say permit oral & masturbatory sex between a man & his wife?
    The only permissive view I am aware is one opinion in the Rama Even Hoezer 25 that permits “Biah Shoh Kidarcha” on an occassional basis. First of all this only applies between a man & his wife.Secondly,this does not,in my opinion apply to oral sex whuich is not considered Halachik Biah as there is no capital punishment for oral sex with a married woman,while there is for anal sex with a married woman. The Statement of the Agudah is accurate that homosexual behavior is sinful according to the Halacha, because even oral sex would be sinful because it is spilling of the seed, although not technically Mishcav Zochur.

  17. Moshe

    What do you mean by masturbatory sex? If you mean masturbation, it is well known that most poskim hold that spilling of the seed is prohibited by the Torah.See Shulchan Aruch E”H 23.Can you please cite the Poskim who you say permit oral & masturbatory sex between a man & his wife?
    The only permissive view I am aware is one opinion in the Rama Even Hoezer 25 that permits “Biah Shoh Kidarcha” on an occassional basis. First of all this only applies between a man & his wife.Secondly,this does not,in my opinion apply to oral sex whuich is not considered Halachik Biah as there is no capital punishment for oral sex with a married woman,while there is for anal sex with a married woman. The Statement of the Agudah is accurate that homosexual behavior is sinful according to the Halacha, because even oral sex would be sinful because it is spilling of the seed, although not technically Mishcav Zochur.

  18. I mean exactly what it says. If a man and wife choose to mastrubate each other to orgasm, they can. There is no spilling of seed within a committed relationship. Period. End of story.

    As for the rest of what you write, it may be your “opinion,” but it’s not the din.

  19. Moshe

    Shmarya,
    You have not cited any sources to back up your views. If you have the sources, please cite them.

  20. Moshe –

    Go ask a Modern Orthodox posek.

    Ma “rabbi” –

    Again, I’ll make this clear for those who have not learned poskim: Just because the Rema says something does not mean we hold by it. In Yorah Dayah alone there are dozens of instances where the halakha is not like him, just as there are many more where it is not like the Shulkhan Arukh. And, even when the halakha is like him or anyone else, rarely is is set in stone. There are enough divergent opinions to allow a posek to rule leniently when needed. Indeed, this is the common practice, and has been for more than 400 years.

    Now, if you mean to understand the Rema to be issuing a blanket forbidding of spilling of seed, you have aproblem. What problem? Anal sex involves the spilling of seed. Yet this is clearly allowed (even if discouraged).

    What the Rema appears to be forbidding is a man mastrubating to orgasm while with his wife. He is not forbidding a wife from touching her husband (perhaps with her mouth) in a way that causes orgasm – in other words, mastrubatory sex.

    This might be a fine distinction for one as learned as you, but it is exactly these fine distinctions that are made in halakha, and it is this fine distinction made by poskim here.

  21. n k bakker

    it’s not “homophobia”, as nobody is SCARED of them… most like disgusted.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s