Saturday, January 02, 2010

Mordechai Levovitz's Point 15

Mordechai Levovitz, one of the four panelists at "Being Gay in the Orthodox World," responded to R' Mayer Twersky. I think it's necessary to respond to Mordechai's point 15.

~
15. Rav Twersky asserted that two of the four presenters actually spoke about actual Mishcav Zachar.

Response: This is either an absurd fabrication, a gross misreading of the text, an unfortunate delusion, or an outright lie. Mishcav Zachar, as interpreted by the Talmud and Rishonim, is clearly the act of anal intercourse. No one on the panel spoke about, referred to, or even brought up this act. The transcripts and videos are transparent and speak for themselves. Please look up the videos on vimeo.com under the words "YU gaypanel." The assumption of the panel was that this act is explicitly forbidden and must be refrained from. There is no place in any of our words that would lead one to assume that any panelist took part in such an activity. I assume that Rav Twersky made a terribly careless error here, because the alternative is blatant Motzi Shem Ra about fellow Jews, which would actually be a gross Chillul HaShem!

~

Seeing as this point 15 is the reason I wrote my posts (To Deserve and To Sacrifice, The Courage of Yeshiva University: A Feast Unto the Lord) in response to the event, I think I will clarify what precisely it is that I believe the rabbanim are referring to. I was at the event and I'm the one who typed up the unofficial transcript and I noticed these points, so it would stand to reason the rabbanim did, too.

1. Jonathan stated: "And then I thought to myself, not only was this unfair to them but also unfair to me. I also deserve to be loved and craved."

He also stated, "What does this mean for their [his parents'] reputation? But I reasoned that even if it took them 5 years to be okay with it that hopefully by the time I get to my late 20s if I found a guy and want to build a life with him, hopefully my parents will accept him and celebrate smachot with him and go about the minutiae of life with him."

2. Mordechai stated: "Everything clicked at that point. I thought of what my ex-girlfriend said and it finally made sense. And maybe Briskers and Litvaks need to learn it made another kind of sense- in my neshama. What I knew was morally right and fit into the mold of yahadus. I need to find, I need to be true, I need to look at the metzius in my life and learn how to make the mundane holy. But you can’t change the metzius. And I’m going over [he means over the time limit] probably. Yes."

(Now, let's review what his ex-girlfriend told him, namely: " I need someone who makes me feel attractive, like I’m the most attractive person in the world and you do, too.”)

He also said: " We’re not parading being gay. None of us talked about anything we do in the bedroom. That’s private. And I don’t talk about anybody with that except the person- whatever."

~

Mordechai, Jonathan spoke about potentially finding a man to spend the rest of his life with. He stated that he deserves to be loved and craved by a man. You spoke about your ex-girlfriend's words regarding the fact that you should find and you deserve a man who loves you as 'making sense within your neshama' and fitting into 'the mold of yahadus.' You also insinuated that you have a partner when you stated that you don't speak about whatever it is you do in the bedroom except with that person. Both of these statements suggest that you and Jonathan plan to lead or do lead lives in which you break the halakha regarding homosexuality. So indeed, two of the panelists spoke about actual mishkav zachor. Perhaps you did not get into details, but you definitely implied that leading a life in which you break this halakha is in the cards. R' Mayer Twersky did not, as you thought, make a terribly careless error. Rather, he read this transcript very carefully and he caught the allusions you perhaps did not.

An event that was wholly about sensitivity, reaching out and empathizing with those undergoing a terrible struggle is perfectly fine. However, an event in which panelists insinuate that the halakha is wrong, unfair, not something they plan to keep or not something they are currently keeping is of a different tenor entirely. At Wurzweiler, such a discussion would be perfectly appropriate. As an event sponsored in part by an undergraduate club of Yeshiva University, however, it is not. In that respect, R' Mayer Twerksy's point was totally justified.

234 comments:

1 – 200 of 234   Newer›   Newest»
FrumJewInYU said...

Correct.

EJB said...

Well said.
I was saddened when I read Mordechai preface his response with:
" Consequently, I respond only to his points, and do not criticize his character or his greatness."
only to later to call one of his points
"It is a tactic to rewrite what actually happened so that his critique of the event can sound plausible."

Erachet said...

There was also this part that I found kind of confusing and questionable:

R’ Blau: I said we’ll end at 10 and I intend to keep to schedule. One last question: What do you think is the next step for the Orthodox community?

Avi: So I think after hearing our experiences, I guess the one thing that we’ve been avoiding, that we clearly didn’t talk about is the logical next step maybe just- how to make it- I was talking to Dean Schwartz and brought up – halakhic damage control.


What is that supposed to mean?

Ezzie said...

Chana - Exactly correct.

Anonymous said...

I dare say it probably means what you (and I) think it means, Erachet.

Anonymous said...

Wait, so, are you going to post the part where anyone talks about mishkav zachor?

I don't want vague references to "being craved" or "made to feel attractive." That could be holding hands, looking into each other's eyes, or cuddling for all I know. Come on, post the line where they talked about mishkav zachor!

Avi Kopstick said...

Alright, so it seems once again, people would rather assume the worst, than the best of their fellow Jew... Anonymous, I mentioned halakhic "damage control," but then I cut myself short because I didn't think it was the time nor the place to discuss it. However, would I have continued, I would have explained how there are, for instance, many halakhas in place when one deals with people who are michalalei shabbat: What do you do if a Jew cooks food on shabbas? Are the keilim kosher? Or what about if a Jew turns on a light in a room that you were sleeping in? What if that Jew turns off a light? etc. etc. etc.
When it comes to homosexuality, there are a lot of halakhas that still need clarification. For instance, do we give gay people aliyot to the Torah? Should we force gay people to get married, or are they exempt from pru u'vru? Are gay people required, al pi halakha, to try to change their orientation? Just in general, what category of sinners do we place them in? The type that can treif up our wine?..
The anxieties that are felt by people, gay or straight, who just don't know how to react are very real. Sometimes, people will be overly-stringent. Sometimes, they will feel the need to be lenient, but they will feel conflicted. I think if we clear up a lot of the vague areas, people would be more confident and courageous with dealing with these type of issues. I mean, who doesn't want to strive for clarity in halakha?
But obviously, you thought I meant changing the halakha, even though we explicitly stated in the event otherwise...

Avi Kopstick said...

Sorry that was directed at Erachet... I apologize to anonymous and I owe you a bracha, next time I see you ;)

Erachet said...

But obviously, you thought I meant changing the halakha, even though we explicitly stated in the event otherwise...

Actually, all I said was that I found that part confusing and questionable, and asked what it was supposed to mean.

Ezzie said...

AviK - In your comment you are assuming the worst. Most people whom I've discussed it with or whom I've heard discuss it have noted that had only the first two panelists spoke, it likely would not have been much of an issue, as those panelists (including yourself) stayed within the confines of what the panel should have been about. While still debatable as to whether it should have been a matter of public discussion, at least the arguments for its having a positive purpose would have been well represented. Instead, the other two panelists caused the discussion to cross a line that certainly was unacceptable in an Orthodox environment.

Avi Kopstick said...

Fine. Maybe I'm a bit sensitive... Erachet, I owe you a bracha as well. And now at least you know what I meant when I answered that question. :)

Mordechai Levovitz said...

It's very simple,

1.Rav Twersky accused 2 of the speakers of referring to "actual Mischav Zachar"

-The speakers did not do this, none of the quotes that you quoted allude that any of us engage, have engaged or would be willing to engage in the issur of "mishcav Zachar"

Your transcript proves it, outright, so does the videos.

Once again: None of your quotes infer an assumption that any of us are, have, or will ever be engaging in "actual Mishcav Zachar".

an assumption about my actions, and what I do in the privacy of my bedroom, based on quotes that clearly do not refer to the issur in the torah is with out base,
is untrue,
and is Blatant Motzie Shem Ra.

How Rabbi Twersky say that i talked about engaging in "actual Mishcav Zachar" is shocking, wrong, and frankly un-hallachic.

Thank you for clarifying this Chana.

I hope that people read this blog, and see the quotes and then hear Rabbi Twersky's speach, because then people will see the blatant faults in Rav Twersky's assumptions and arguments.

-Mordechai

Please check out my full Rebuttal of Rav Twersky, Point by Point: at

http://www.syaross.org/misc/gaypanel/response.html

PS, Chana, would you mind re-posting all of my 16 points of Rebuttal. I think your readers would enjoy, agree, disagree, and discuss.

thanks again for the forum :-)

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, Chana, do you know what "actual Mishcav Zachar" is?

It is Anal Intercourse!

(according to the talmud, rashi, rambam and shulchan aruch...and just about every rishon out there)

how in the world, would you get from any of the quotes of the panelist, to assume they would be engaging in anal intercourse???

Honestly, I hope you just didn't know what the term means...because if you did...and you still thought they from those quotes you quoted, that they inferred to having anal intercourse, you got a pretty sick mind for a young woman.

While Rav Twersky may have had a point or two, Rav Twersky is Clearly wrong on this one.

sorry

Shmuel said...

Not to pile on, but I think this is a key point. It doesn't remotely follow that having a relationship with a man requires engaging in a particular forbidden act. Neither of your quotes says or implies anything about mishcav zachor.

(That some heterosexuals can't imagine any other sort of homosexual relationship may indeed be a problem.)

Anonymous said...

Mordechai,
You might be sweet and funny and we feel bad for your struggle etc. BUT
when you said your group has a mix of people, some trying therapy to change, and some "leading a gay lifestyle" - what does that refer to? Advocating for SS marriage, or doing forbidden things?
Also, do you feel that any feelings regarding sex are valid - people who want to have incestuous relationships, is it "normal" to have sister-brother attraction, is there any attraction that one should try to change with a therapist? And just because therapy doesn't work doesn't prove the feelings are normal - therapy has yet to cure autism, schizophrenia,etc. etc.

Geneva said...

Mordechai defended his denial by stating:Your transcript proves it, outright, so does the videos.

Sorry, but the crucial segments were not made available on vimeo. Neither Jonathan's entire presentation, nor the question and answer, which R'Blau moderated, is up, as far as I can tell.

Also, a number of commenters seem to assume that only the act of actual anal intercourse is what falls under the general denominator of male homosexual sex. Even when using the Hebrew term mishkav zakhar - outside of an actual capital court case before the Sanhedrin - people do not restrict themselves to meaning that act that is punishable by s'kila, but mean all that is prohibited between men. Mordechai's argument sounds very much like Bill Clinton's, rising to the climax of "it depends what the meaning of is, is."

Halakhically, poskim have addressed the issue of non-anal-intercourse intimacy and do not see any difference between that in a homosexual relationship and the equivalent in a heterosexual relationship. Both fall on lehitkarev legalot 'ervah.

Since the event was explicitly not going to deal with the halakhic aspects, one presumes that mainstream halakhic rulings were taken for granted, and that includes a rejection of all homosexual intimacy. R' Twersky's statement is thus correct, both in terms of English usage and in halakhic terms for our Sanhedrin-less society.

Shmuel said...

"Since the event was explicitly not going to deal with the halakhic aspects, one presumes that mainstream halakhic rulings were taken for granted, and that includes a rejection of all homosexual intimacy."

Halachic rulings have actually been both more divided and more nuanced than the above suggests. There may well be room for a fuller discussion of the subject, but that event was explicitly not addressing anything of the sort.

Moshe said...

The problem is the R. Twersky's rhetoric denies the legtimacy of any other approach.

For another perspective see
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1067280.html

Which describes R. Yaavok Medan Shlit"a's presence and remarks at a meeting of Orthodox homosexuals in Jerusalem.

YUngerman said...

"None of us talked about anything we do in the bedroom. That’s private. And I don’t talk about anybody with that except the person- whatever."

What does this imply if not some type of homosexual intercourse? Pillowfights?

Mordechai, stop playing the 'motzi shem ra' card. You said this in the open and we're asking you what it means. Until you explain, we are able to make basic logical assumptions concerning its meaning.

Shmuel- "that event was explicitly not addressing anything of the sort."

Which is why the above quotation should not have been said at all.

kuch-leffel said...

Rav Twersky's words were "actual Mishcav Zachar". This is blatantly referring to the violation of the pasuk.

According to Orthodox Judaism, Hallacha tells us that the Violation of the Posuk is anal intercourse.

(there may be other violations that are gederim or rooted in other sins, but the Torah is clear and specific)

A good example of how clear the talmud is about the restrictive nature of the posuk is the fact that a PEDOPHILE (man who anally rapes a boy under nine) is not considered to violate the law of MISCHCAV ZACHAR!, because it is not considered a "man" that he lied with.

"[Homosexual] pederasty with a child below nine years of age is not deemed as pederasty with a child above that. . . . only he who is able to engage in sexual intercourse, may, as the passive subject of pederasty throw guilt [upon the active offender]. . . . [Thus only] pederasty at the age of nine years and a day [and above] . . . is liable to punishment.46"

(Sanhedrin 54a-55a, The Babylonian Talmud: Seder Nezikin, vol. 3, 367, 370-71.)

and the rambam

"the rule is as follows: If both [partners] are adults, they are punishable by stoning. . . . If he is a minor aged nine years and one day, or older [i.e., between the ages of nine and thirteen], the adult who has connection with him, is punishable by stoning, while the minor is exempt. If the minor is nine years old, or less, both are exempt. It behooves the court, however, to have the adult flogged for disobedience, inasmuch as he has lain with a male, even though with one less than nine years of age"

(The Code of Maimonides: The Book of Holiness)

SO EVEN A PEDOPHILE IS NOT CONSIDERED ACTUAL MISCHVAV ZACHAR ACCORDING TO THE GEMORRAH...BUT SOMEONE WHO "LOVES" OR "CRAVES" A MAN IS????

Chana, you are only serving to embarrass Rav Twersky more, by highlighting this gross mistake of his.

EJB said...

Mordechai:
1. Please calm down the tone of your responses. They really do not engender the healthy conversation you were promoting in your rebuttal.
2. This post was directed at a few of the references to Mishkav Zachar in the panel discussion. Whether or not the panelists intended on referring to Mishkav Zachor (or similar forbidden acts) is irrelevant; the fact is the statements that were said could be taken to refer to Mishkav Zachor. In such a sensitive event, extra care must be taken to ensure nothing will be said that can potentially be taken the wrong way (and you shouldn't assume that the audience will be 'dan likaf zechus'). I am afraid that extra care was not taken for the panel discussion.
3. Even if there weren't references to anal intercourse, that is irrelevant, since anal intercourse isn't the only thing forbidden to homosexuals. The vast majority of poskim forbid yichud, and many forbid negiah (derech chiba) among homosexuals. If an event discussing homosexuality in the orthodox world mentioned any forbidden act related to homosexuality in a positive or neutral light (neutral in this case), it is inappropriate for that event to be hosted by a yeshiva.
4. Please refrain from calling Rav Twersky SHLITA's comments "shocking, wrong, and frankly un-hallachic." If you disagree with them, that's one thing. But if you don't moderate your language, it comes across that you're angry and agenda driven, which I'm sure you're not.

Chana said...

Mordechai,

The verse in Leviticus 18:22 reads, " וְאֶת-זָכָר--לֹא תִשְׁכַּב, מִשְׁכְּבֵי אִשָּׁה: תּוֹעֵבָה, הִוא."

You have chosen to understand it only in its strictest and most limited meaning, i.e. anal sex. It is likely that when R' Mayer Twersky said that two of the panelists spoke about actual mishkav zachor, he did not mean that two of you used the words 'anal sex.' Rather, you spoke of your desire to do with a man what one would with a woman- live together, love together, build a home together, and yes, perhaps engage in this particular prohibition as well. The fact that you prefer a very limited understanding of the semantics does not negate his view- you can be a strict constructionist whereas he is thinking of all the halakhot involved in this issur, including lifnei iver and suchlike, and referring to them by mention of this particular category of 'mishkav zachor.'

I think you are incorrect about the Rav having nothing better to do with his time than spread gossip or slurs about those on this panel. I believe his point was fair, and indeed, it was due to the comments quoted that I believe the event should not have been held in conjunction with the undergraduate club. It's all very well that R' Blau stated no discussion of halakha would take place, and doubtless he meant it, but what actually happened- what was alluded to or insinuated- was not in accord with what he had stated. And that is a shame, since this event could otherwise have been wholly positive.

As for reposting the entire note, DovBear and others have done so; I see no need to do so. This is the point you made that I disagree with; thus, it is the one to which I am responding.

Anonymous said...

Whether or not the panelists intended on referring to Mishkav Zachor (or similar forbidden acts) is irrelevant; the fact is the statements that were said could be taken to refer to Mishkav Zachor. In such a sensitive event, extra care must be taken to ensure nothing will be said that can potentially be taken the wrong way (and you shouldn't assume that the audience will be 'dan likaf zechus'). I am afraid that extra care was not taken for the panel discussion.
====================

I find it interesting that the extra care demanded of the discussants here is not demanded of those who oppose their position (or many public presentations where, for example, a rav uses a poor metaphor and everyone defends him by saying, of course that's not what he meant.

The gist of the issue from R'MT's presentation was (and I think Chana as well as several others here) was - we know what you really want and meant. Maybe they are correct but just state it as a meta issue rather than trying to prove that was what was said or meant.

KT

Anonymous said...

Well said, chana21.

Mordechai prefers straw men.

EJB said...

Anonymous 10:26
Immature comments are also inappropriate.

Anonymous said...

ejb SHLITA

I am angry and agenda driven.

Anonymous said...

mordy, any passionate act between two men is forbidden, 1) stop trying to limit as to what is assur. is something that get malkos ok, and only stoning "over the line"? 2) anyone who engages in any forbidden act, is automatically accused of doing "full scale" forbidden sex acts, and rav twersky has the right to label someone as such.

טור אבן העזר סימן כ
הבא על אחד מן העריות דרך אברים או שחבק או שנשק ונהנה בקירוב בשר ה"ז לוקה מן התורה שנא' לא תקרבו לגלות ערוה דברים המביאים לידי גלוי ערוה והעושה דבר מחוקות אלו ה"ז חשוד על העריות

Anonymous said...

But, for the sake of argument (and I love a good argument) isn't everyone choshud al horayos?

and so what if they are?

we're here to have fun
out and proud
and ready to party.

"rabbi" steve opines that yu isn't yet nyu, as if yu needs or wants to be k'chol hagoyim.

That was Rav Twersky's thrust. It's a weak argument that, c'mon, we're MO. You let everybody else alone, shellfish fressers, non shomer everything, why not us, too? (relativistic ethics).

Where is Rav Ahron Kotler when you need him most?

Torah is a Fire said...

I find it interesting that the quotes from the Gemara and Mishneh Torah that were provided come from anti-Semitic websites. If you're against our community and everything we believe in, just leave quietly, please.
Chana, you're doing good work. When I read Mordechai's rebuttal on DovBear, I immediately thought of these comments from the panel. I'm pretty surprised that Dov didn't mention anything.

Anonymous said...

"just leave quietly, please" implies that you don't care about frum gay yeshiva bochurim, Bais Yaakov, Central, Stern girls?

Is this what you say to a member of your family? Just leave quietly, please. Gay aveck.

This is a complicated discussion because we have real people, in the closet, and a new generation, emerging, vocal, chocham mamre.

For them, it's all or nothing. No Orthodox institution will/should rubber stamp the gay lifestyle and identity or intermarriage, but we may be called to task for doing nothing to bring them back. Passively wishing them away, I'm not certain this is righteousness.

Torah is a Fire said...

Anon 2:22,
Nice try, but I won't fall for it. I was referring to the posters who, since the infamous Wurzweiler panel, have been posting comments throughout the 'J-Blogosphere' that are only derogatory to the Torah and the Orthodox community. It is they who are not wanted—militant anti-frum commentators—straight or gay.

Anonymous said...

You are not incorrect about the general scene, gay groups on college campus in the northeast region, part of the constituency of jqy which promotes non kosher and non-Halachik events.

Yet, listen to Avi Kopstick. He sounds sincere. What do we do about those who want to remain true to themselves, dates and their conscience, who don't want an aliyah at the Reform gay temple.

Is there room for them at the inn?

Anonymous said...

mordechai- The issue of eating meat and milk together, comes from the actual, literal, verse of "not cooking a cow (meat) with it's mothers milk". However, our rabbanim, based on this verse, gave us the halachot of kashruth. Pants for a women, is the same issue as it says not to wear"beged ish", but our rabbanim made issurim for women basedon that. Same with negiah,- no where in the Torah, does it have prohobitions to negiah, yichud, etc, but because of the literal issur in having relations with a nedah and having relations with a married women (don't know the exact words, sorry),our rabbanim made issurim of shomer negiah. Our rabbanim made gidarim to protect us, that is the difference between ORTHODOXY, REFORM, CONSERVATIVE etc, we believe in "Torah she b'al' peh", so when one refers to "mishkav zachar" there are rabbinic issurim that come along with it, as it does not just mean the literal translation of 'anal intercourse".

Anonymous1:45 said...

The beit hamikdash was destroyed because Jews did not go Lifnei Mishurat Hadin. A person can technically follow every mitzvah and still be a terrible Jew. This is because what is behind the mitzvot is Hashem. You cannot simply follow the mitzvot as a checklist and expect that just because something is not technically obligated or disallowed, that you have the right to not go lifnei ishurat hadin. Are you really suggesting 9that is, are the panelists or Mr. leivovitz really suggesting) that Hashem is happy with your actions so long as you don't technically do mishkav zachar? Of course it's not and thus it is an aveira the same as if you technically did mishkav zachar. The mitzvah you are breaching is the same one that the beit hamikdash was destroyed for of lifnei mishurat hadin and of veasita hayashar vehatov beeinei Hashem. The Torah is not there for you took look at as a lawyer trying to find a loophole so that you can fulfill your desires without having said to have technically broke the law. So just to be clear mishkav zachar or no, you are not doing what Hashem wants and that in itself is clearly a grave aveira. So at least be honest with yourself and don't let the yetzer hara fool you.
Secondly, on the issue of mishkav zachar (even if you have not done so); If you are attracted each other as I am attracted to women then I don't see how it is possible for you to know that you will not do mishkav zachar. How do your desires will not get the best of you as some point? You can't know that, and if you do then you're fooling yourself. And again, Really? you think that any other act is okay with God so long as it's not explicitly forbidden? really?

Mordechai Levovitz said...

1.:-), really, I'm pretty sure the Beis Ha mikdosh was destroyed because of issues with "bein Adam Le-chaveyro"
according to most accepted orthodox respones. "kamtza bar kamtza comes to mind".

2. In Hallachic Judaism "actual Mishcav Zachar", and the prohibition referring to "toeva", and the death penalty, is universally accepted to be talking about anal intercourse. This is how the Posuk is interpreted by our Talmud and by our Rishonim. Chana may want to re-interpret this posuk to suit her needs, but I suggest she may want to start associating with JTS or a Reform philosophy.

Could you imagine if she also started interpreting "a hand for a hand" as literal. Chana, We do not reinterpret pesukim to serve our needs, or to defend rabbis who mis-speak.

"Actual Mischav Zachar" is anal intercourse.

None of the speaker, according to YOUR own Transcript, inferred that they engage in this activity.

If you infer that, then frankly you are perverted, or so homophobic that you can not think rationally.

Maybe you don't realize that not every gay person engages in anal sex. Many don't. It's not essential to being gay. Its just one action. And it is the only action that hallacha tells us this posuk is talking about.

(btw, i love that reference to the talmud and the rambam's insistance that pedophilic rape is not considered under the posuk because one partner is a katan...this totally exemplifies, why you cant justify an emotional response from this posuk, cuz certainly our emotional and social response should be worse to a grown man who anally rapes an 8 year old child...amazing example!)

Anyway, Im not really sure what you guys are arguing.

Twersky said we mentioned "actual Mishcav Zachar"

We didnt.

He's wrong, embarrassed himself in the process.

(apparently, he admitted to making this wrong assumption to a student who sent him my response in an email, I am told that he is intends on asking mechilla for to both me and "jonothan" about this when we speak with him in private. When he asks, I will grant it, but i will also publicize it...

So I ask you Chana,

If Rabbi Twersky himself apologizes for saying we referred to "actual Mishcav Zachar" in our speeches, when we most certainly did not, ...will you?

Anonymous said...

Of course other sexual actions between 2 men are hallachically questionable, but they do not fall under this Mishkav Zachor issur as stated in the formentioned pasuk. And certainly would not be described as "actual Mishkav Zachor".

Motzie Zerah Levatalla (spilling seed), is one of the main issurim associated with this, and it most certainly is an issue that should be discussed.

However, do you think that if a straight man publicly mentioned that he loves a girl, or is dating a girl, or is even in a relationship with a girl, it automatically refers to him "spilling seed".

The same way we don't assume this of straight men, we should not assume this of gay.

Chana said...

Mordechai,

You've insinuated that I am perverted, homophobic, reinterpreting the Torah, should join the Reform movement and nonetheless think I and/or Rabbi Twersky owe you an apology? I am consistently surprised by you. No, even if Rabbi Twersky apologizes to you I think there was sufficient cause in what you and Jonathan said to assume that you either do already or plan to break the halakha and I think the remarks were inappropriate in the forum they were made.

I also resent the ad hominem attacks (which I do not feel I have made about you) and suggest you learn to debate without throwing names or adjectives around loosely. You don't know me or the first thing about me; I would appreciate it if you stopped acting as though you do.

Torah is a Fire said...

Chana,
Hold your ground. Some of your commenters are using all sorts of poor and faulty argumentation.
Recall this passage from Halakhic Man:
"Halakhic man ... is not particularly submissive and retiring, and is not meek when it is a matter of maintaining his own views. Neither modesty nor humility characterizes the image of halakhic man. ... He does battle for every jot and tittle of the Halakha, not only motivated by a deep piety but also by a passionate love of the truth."

Mordechai Levovitz said...

Chana,
I have nothing against you personally, I do not know anything about you, I only know your views on things. I will tell you something about me, I am a person who tends to befriend people I strongly disagree with. I find my discussions are more substantial that way, and I am in a constant state of challenging myself and learning. That being said, just because I think you are dead wrong many of your points...some laughably so, does not mean that I dont think that you might be a great person.
This being said.

1. Someone who takes those quotes that you quoted and infers from them that Anal Sex was, is, and will be committed, is either perverted, homophobic, seriously ignorant, alarmist or outright delusional. How else would one get to anal penetration from the transcript... please, you have never explained this...and i'm waiting...we all are waiting.

Can you imagine if you talked about wanting to be craved, loved, married, and keep whatever you do in your bedroom private, and there was someone who assumed from your statements that you like to anally penetrated?!

Can you imagine someone accused you of anal penetration in public?
I'm sorry, but have you no shame?

2. a Jew who blatantly re-interprets a posuk hallachically different than the way it's been interpreted in the talmud, rishonim and subsequent mesorah, doesnt have much to stand on in Orthodox Judaism. You're claim that the posuk refers to anything but anal sex, is simply beyond the pale of an orthodox scope of conversation, and may be interesting in a conservative or reform forum.

These are rebuttals of your assumptions and points.

Anonymous1:45 said...

Mordechai levovitz:
On the issue of Lifnim Mishurat Hadin and the destruction of the temple: There are 3 talmudic sources that deal with why the temples were destroyed. 1. Yuma - 'the first temple was destroyed because of idolatry, bloodshed, and immorality, the second was destroyed because of sinat chinam'. 2. Shabbat - lists several reasons. 3. The One that I refer to - Bava Metzia (I believe it's 30b)- The beit hamikdas was destroyed because people did not go lifnim mishurat hadin - People were too exacting strict and inflexible, or at the other end of the spectrum, people did only exactly that which was required by the letter of the law and not a pittance more. Thus people were too exacting both - 1.in not overlooking others flaws and 2. In doing only what was halachically madated by the letter of the law and not going beyond it with the true purpose in mind, of truly doing what God wants.
All these 3 explanations are not in contradiction, nor are they mutually exclusive. That is, for while gemaras 1 and 2 list the reasons for the destructions - had we followed the Torah with Lifnim Mishurat Hadin, and been more sympathetic to those who sinned and by the same token tried ourselves to do more then just the bare minimum technically required, then God would have been Lifnim Mishurat Hadin in judging us and thus overlooked our sins and done more then he had techniclly promissed to do if we sinned. But since we were rigid and uncompromising with only doing what the letter of the law said so too that is how God acted with us...continued...

Anonymous said...

...typo...correction

"just because I think you may be wrong, does not mean I think you are a BAD person"

(it just means that I think some of your arguments are homophobic, and some of your assumptions may be a bit perverse...especially about anal sex...which you have no idea if i practice or not, and certainly would never speak about such things in public.)

sorry

Mordechai Levovitz said...

Anon
I really dont have to argue with you that Sinas Chinum was one of the main causes of the destruction of the @nd temple.

the Concept of "lifnim me shuras ha din" is a very important one, but never is it ever used to hurt, isolate, embarrass, or silence children, adolescence, vulnerable adults, and people who are gay (who never chose to be). No one, not even Rabbi Twersky, would use "lifnim me shuras ha din" to justify this type of intolerance.

this is the point.

Anonymous1:45 said...

It hurts me that you are annoyed or hurt by the statements and views, and when talking to you fellow Jews should keep in mind this 3rd reason (and overall true, in the end, reason) for beit hamik dest, and not be so harsh in judgment as they wouldn't want God to judge them or Am Yisrael harshly. However, by the same token you should also look at the Gemara and understand that just as you don't want God to always judge you using the exact letter of the law but you would want God to go beyond it and be lenient, so too you should not make it your goal to be exacting with halacha in the opposite direction, by only making sure to follow the exact letter of the law and not doing lifnei mishurat hadin, for it is this reason why the beit hamikdash was destroyed. Because it was this reason that ultimately doomed us to thousands of years of Galut. Because even with all the other reasons combined God would have still been lenient with us if we had been with others - and God would still have gone beyond the letter of the judgement with us, if we had made it our effort to go beyond just following the letter of the law with God....continued below....

Shadesof said...

Linked at the end is a podcast of last night's Zev Brenner interview with R. Billet, discussing his article in the Jewish Star(also linked at end).

R. Billet says on the program(51:32 in the podcast) that he doesn't wasn’t to discuss the YU event, and he explains the purpose of his email read at the forum.

"I really don't want to talk about the Yeshivah University event, because a Yeshivah University event is a Yeshivah University event...Yeshivah University has to be able to express itself for itself, and for whatever transpired. "

Beginning at 1:11 into the recording, Dr. Arthur Goldberg of Jonah and author of " Light in the Closet" calls, and they discuss the issue of gay people being or not being hard-wired.

http://talklinecommunications.com/broadcasts/feed.xml

http://thejewishstar.wordpress.com/2009/12/29/opinion-compassion-is-also-a-jewish-virtue/#comments

Mordechai Levovitz said...

Chana,

Last but not least, To show you, that I most definitely have no ill feelings against your person, I would be more than happy meeting you and some interested freinds, in person and discussing this over coffee. Seeing that our event, basically put your blog on the map, I think we now have a lot in common :-)

...and no one should assume that my invitation means that I intend to have anal sex with her ;-)

-Mordechai

Anonymous said...

Mordechai is offended that anyone insinuates he practices anal sex. In the absence of edut v'hatra-ah, Shamayim is his judge.

Can't wait 'til the party.

Shades of Grey said...

On a related point, I think this post here (http://dovbear.blogspot.com/2009/12/why-i-dont-identify-as-gay.html) on DovBer very clearly enunciates exactly what Rav Twersky is talking about with regarding to branding someone as a "gay Jew." It would do well for all of us to read it.

Anonymous1:45 said...

I was reminded of ( I just recently read an commentary on the parshat hashavua that had in it the gemara of shabbat 3a) Shabbat3a
"Said Rava: At the time that they bring a person for his ultimate judgment, they say to him 'did you engage in honest business practices'. It is possible to technically follow the halacha regarding ones business and yet still be a scoundrel. The same is true of alot of mitzvot in the Torah. It is not enough to follow the letter of the law. Rather, it must be followed with the intention of fulfilling the spirit of the law. The letter of the law is Mishkav Zachar; but, in your heart of hearts you cannot seriously believe that if you could prophetically communicate with God that he would tell you he is happy with all your actions so long as you don't do mishkav zachar. And thus you are not following the spirit of Gods law. And thus you are not going lifnim mishurat hadin. And thus you are not doing hayashar vehatov beeinei hashem. And this is not good.

RT said...

Levovitz, you and your stinking comments disgust the readeship of this blog. And to insinuate that you put Chana's blog "on the map" shows all that you are out of touch with reality. You are angry and not able to express your feelings effectively. Please find a different forum to express your repulsive thoughts.

Anonymous1:45 said...

Also don't forget the reasons for the destruction of the first temple - idolatry, bloodshed, and immorality. I do want to tell you that I am absolutely sure and certain that you will do tshuvah. I don't know how but I just felt it. God bless you.

Chana said...

Mordechai,

I have an interest in meeting with people who desire respectful discussion with me. Your sense of humor is totally distasteful to me, not to mention entirely inappropriate, and thus you are not someone I am interested in cultivating a friendship with.

Indeed, I wonder how you can imagine that your comments are serving to aid the gay Orthodox community you believe so desperately needs your help. If anything, they serve to further alienate those who want to be somewhat supportive.

I have no interest in responding to you in the future and have determined from now on to ignore anything else you wish to say. Your comment regarding what others should not think you wish to do with me is totally out of the bounds of all propriety.

Mordechai Levovitz said...

but it is ok, for you to insinuate that i have "actual mishcav Zachar"
From similarly benign wording at the panel.

You see. Why is it ok for people to make assumptions about what I do in my bedroom, when i never made that public, but you are so offended that I would make any assumptions about anyone else.

This type of double standard in thinking is exactly why we need more panels :-)

I hope you come and blog about them.

Anonymous said...

RT,

Is it against the law to set the record straight when quotes are misunderstood, misconstrued and or mistranslated ?
Btw contrary to popular (frummy) belief, misconstruing statements and or exaggerating statements to conform to/bolser a point (whether the point is valid or not is irrelevant) one is attempting to make, is absolutely against halacha.

Suggesting insinuations that are not readily apparent and then, astonishingly enough, having the audacity to insist on admonishing the original author of the quotes in questions, when he attempts to set the record straight, is also against halacha.

Can someone please point out the anal sex references.

thanx.

Jaded Topaz

Anonymous said...

:-)
NEWS FLASH!
THE NEXT PANEL IS SCHEDULED!

BEING GAY IN THE YESHIVA WORLD.
Sun March 14th at 11am
At the Queens Y.

This panel will be made up of Former Touro College, Black Hat and Yeshivish backgrounds.
Panelists have attended Toras Moshe (in Isreal), Chofetz Chaim in Brooklyn, and Touro College.

If you missed the YU panel, or couldnt get in because of the huge crowd (200+ people were turned away at the door due to overcrowding). Make sure to come to this one, and come early!

More info to come!

(side news, panels of gay yeshiva students are forming in Isreal, One just took place with students at GUSH and other Hesder Yeshivas, and thier Rabbeim came)

It seems we started a movement of people no longer willing to live in the closet.

Our stories are finally being told

This is a true kiddush hashem!

Anonymous1:45 said...

Are you really so offended Mordechai? Or are you just having fun at Chanas expense by playing these games. Me thinks thou doest protest too much. How about instead of going around in circles you tell us what it is you do do. And inform us of why Hashem is accepting, no thats not far enough, rather of how Hasem is proud of you for your activities. In fact you are as pure as the wind driven snow. Please for just one moment remember your father in heaven and stop playing games with peoples emotions. Your actions and views have already desensitized you enough. Your mind seems to be learned in halacha, yet you don't seem to care that you use this knowledege to serve God, only that you get a checkmark. That's not how it works. God is not a lawyer that you can play with and find contractual outs and play games with. You may love to play with others (lehitalel beacherim) but God will have the last laugh. It is one thing to destroy your own spirit as your soul cries out. It is quite another to be a gabay aveirot and a tormentor of others. You have become desensitized. It is not good not to feel. Wake up.

Anonymous1:45 said...

Anonymous:
Why are you so proud of being Gaba'ai aveirot. Isn't it clear to you by now that kindness and love to ones fellow is not the real issue of these forums. Are you a follower of the Jewish religion or of the religion of homosexual activism? Is your goal in life to nfollow Hashem, or have you left for a more fun (seems to you for the moment) kind of movement; an activist lobby for you to belong to instead of the jewish faith. New brethren - your gay brothers and sisters instead of your fellow jews and your fellow human beings. Where do you think this really leads? Can you not see what you are doing? How are you people so blind to what you are really a part of? To what this is really all about? I suppose it's because you want to be oblivious and go along with it so you shall. Aynayim velo yiru oznayim.... because you don't want to so you'll block it out.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous145

Who publicized the statements with the poor analysis and sloppy commentary.

Are you so wrapped up in your mussar shmooze that you dont understand that misunderstanding/misconstruing and then publicizing someones statements along with the misconstrued analysis is an absolute sin and absolutely against halacha.

Everyone should be working on the sincere apologies instead of the narcissistic pompous based mussar moments which are gag worthy and reminsicent of movements I won't mention due to the prohibition of slander .

Jaded Topaz

Anonymous said...

Also look for an upcoming panel this spring in Belfer hall, at YU wurtzweiller school of social work, where the panel will consist of Lesbian Women from Frum backgrounds.

This should be very interesting.

Wow, JQYouth is doing some great stuff!

Jaded Topaz said...

Anonymous
Just in case ure trying to subliminally insinuate that i'm a lesbian from a frum background,(can never be sure these days, especially with the some of the more slow readers and the conclusions they come to, by adopting their own subjective drash as fact, for statements made by others, and even when others attempt to set the record straight !) sorry to disappoint you, but i'm not a lesbian.
I also have absolutely nothing to do with YU.

I still dont understand which parts of the partial transcript referred to anal sex.

Jaded Topaz

FrumJewInYU said...

JT:

Read Chana's post. Then read the comments. Then do it again, and again and again if you have to. The explanation is there, if you're actually looking for it.

Anonymous1:45 said...

I would like to invite every jew, this spring, to the gobeldygook hall on nonsense street. We will be having a forum on idolatry in the context of frum judaism. It is time that we were accepted in this community. The intolerance is amazing. Haven't these people heard of compassion. All we want to do is practice idolatry and imorality within the context of halacha. This forum was put together by the famous JFPATSB- Jews For Pork At The Shabbat Dinner. It is high time that these intolerant fools realized that they can no longer keep us in the shadows. I myself am not part of their club, but I believe in their cause. Their cause is my cause, and brothers, our cause is just. In this forum we will speak with Jews who have couragously decided to come out of the closet and announce to the world that idolatry and imorality and pigs for Shabbat dinner are to become mainstream within the jewish community. We shall not concern ourselves with the hatemongers who tell us with their subjective narcissistically pompous shmooze talk how what we are doing is wrong. They just don't get it. We are enlightened and they are just backwards reactionaries clinging to false ideas. Why if Moses were here, he would tell them off. He'd be at our forum because we are just that just and that in the right. And, he'd be telling those intolerant fools to get with the program. All we want is to be loved and accepted and of course idolatry imorality and pigs for Shabbat shall be normalized within judaism but that is just the way God wants it. Crooked is straight and straight is crooked, but that's how we like it. Because that's how we see it - so it must be right and you must be evil.

Ariel said...

Mordechai said, about Chana:
Could you imagine if she also started interpreting "a hand for a hand" as literal.

I find the example ironic, considering he was the person in the discussion that was interpreting the pasuk about anal sex as literal, even though other commentators have pointed out halachik sources that forbid other acts.

Anonymous said...

From what I've heard from the boys at JQY, that's a whole lot of body fluids being exchanged there.

Mordechai Levovitz said...

Ariel, I interpret the posuk the way all orthodox sources do. Like the gemorah does, like rashi does, and the other rishonim and mesorah.

Chana implied a more literal interpretation of the posuk, that, while interesting, is not appropriate when speaking hallachically about a posuk that is already understood in a specific way. (example 'hand for hand')

Other people are referring to hallichically questionably behavior that is not a violation of the said posuk.

things like violating 'gederim', or issues of 'motzie zerah'

This absolutely is an issue, but we are talking about Rav Twersky's words
"Actual Mishcav Zachar"

which refers to the issur stated in the torah, namely anal intercourse.

As Topaz pointed out, Chana never cited anywhere in the transcripts where we refer to having anal sex.

It is preposterous, insulting, and Motzie shem ra.

Anonymous said...

bottom line, sex sells, that why chana has huge a amount of comments, and that why mordchai has 800 observers at his freak show.

Anonymous said...

Again, Mordechai is playing down avairos.

Anonymous1:45 said...

I am incredulous. I don't know whether to laugh or to just be amazed. What is all the halachic wrangling about here. When Chazal debated they did so in order to do what Hashem wants. The core issue and the only important issue is, not whether one can hold to a position based on technicalities. The core issue is: Do you believe that You are making God happy with your lifestyle, your acts and choices? I think the answer is obvious. Next question, Is it possible for something to be halachically technically correct and yet still be against God? Question 3: If something is against what God wants, then can it be truly okay? Really, this isn't Rocket Science. Just do or at least try to do what you know deep down, is what God wants. Why are you even arguing this? It's so simple who is correct here. Feelings and emotions aren't simple, and certainly love for ones fellow is in order; but it is not even debateable as to who is correct. It is not debateable as to who God agrees with. All the arguments in the world won't chage what is right by God. Whether you think you have better sources for what word x means is irrelevant. The issue, the only issue, is what is pleasant to God, and what is distasteful to God. Can you honestly tell yourself the following statement, "My actions and my lifestyle and my efforts within the Jewish community are pleasant to God and Chanas and These Rabbis views are distasteful to God"? If you can say this to yourself, then boy, has the yetzer hara done a number on you, he's conned you real good.

Ariel said...

Mordechai,

I reread Chana's post, again, and I still do not see how she has literal reading of the verse. You are the one saying that it refers to the act of anal sex between men, period, that's it. She was the one that was taking it on a broader sense, in her interpretation of R' Twersky's statement, to mean the general idea of gay men doing things with each other and building a life together, but especially doing things that may include anal sex and any other "spilling of seed".

On that note, Anonymous from 12:35 said brought the Tur, which I'll bring again so no one needs to scroll up:
טור אבן העזר סימן כ
הבא על אחד מן העריות דרך אברים או שחבק או שנשק ונהנה בקירוב בשר ה"ז לוקה מן התורה שנא' לא תקרבו לגלות ערוה דברים המביאים לידי גלוי ערוה והעושה דבר מחוקות אלו ה"ז חשוד על העריות

The "hallichically questionably behavior that is not a violation of the said posuk" of which you speak, in light of the Tur, WOULD be a violation of said passuk - perhaps not on the "literal" level, but certainly within the general parameters of the issur.

Would there be sekila for a different act of motzi zera levatala, other than anal sex, that occurred between two men? I have not seen any sources that indicate that. But just as the character of an act between a similar act between a man and a married woman raises it to the level of "arayos" - and that is how we would refer to it in conversation - so, too, between two men. Such that referring to "arayos" and "mishkav zachar" in these cases, I think, have been used interchangeably.

On another, related note, I was at the conference and sat in the second row. When you said the line about the bedroom, "arayos" in general, if not actual mishkav zachor itself, was certainly what I understood to be implied. If that is not what you meant, well, it was a poor choice of words. I distinctly remember exchanging shocked looks with a friend, along the lines of "I can't believe he just admitted to that in front of everyone, that is not what this is about".

Ariel said...

I'm sorry, that should read:

But just as the character of an act with motzi zera levatala between a man and a married woman raises it to the level of "arayos" - and that is how we would refer to it in conversation - so, too, between two men.

Jaded Topaz said...

frumjewinyu,

You may have misunderstood my question.
Where in the original transcript (not everyones personal drash commentary on the matter) is there any actual reference to anal intercourse.
Or does "mishkav zachar" mean something else to you.

anonymous1:45

As previously mentioned the mussar moments are gag worthy no need to waste them on me. I have no idea what your point is.
Im still looking for the anal intercourse references in the original transcript, maybe you could find them.

Mussar has to be based on absolute pure and unadulterated honesty. Otherwise its just the frum version of self centered pompous based narcissism and worth absolutely nothing in the long run.
Even when it bolsters a stance point or position one is attempting to suggest as the absolute halachic truth.

jaded topaz

Jaded Topaz said...

ariel,

Which talmudic source refers to mishkav zachar as :

"the general idea of gay men doing things with each other and building a life together, but especially doing things that may include anal sex and any other "spilling of seed"."

What talmudic sources/talmudic definitions are you basing your questionable suggestion that the terms arayos and mishkav zachar are interchangeable on ?

jaded topaz

Jaded Topaz said...

This is why precise definitive definitions for halachic terms like "mishkav zachar" are very important.

Halachically speaking (this is not a hashkafah seminar for philosophical preaching and other subjective feelings on what one wishes definitions might mean in 2009? )I believe that the halachic prohibition associated with the term "mishkav zachar" on a halachic level would be limited to the prohibition of anal intercourse between two men.

I think (may be wrong) that on a halachic level, all other interactions, romantic,intimate,emotional and or otherwise would not necessarily be defined or referred to as "mishkav zachar".

Redefining terms to fit the occasion is not acceptable according to traditional judaism.


jaded topaz

Anonymous1:45 said...

Jaded Topaz:
I don't understand exactly what it is that you don't understand. My statements seem to me to be quite clear. But, In an effort to clarify, I will boil down my reasoning to just a few sentences.

Premise #1 - As Jews we are obligated to do what God wants.

Premise #2 - God does not want Jews doing these lascivious acts (even if they fall short of actual Mishkav Zachar).

Conclusion - Jews are obligated by God to refrain from these acts.

If you disagree then please tell me which premise it is that you disagree with.

Secondly, why so jaded man. lol

Thirdly, I am not sure I understand this obsession with 'frum' or with trying to paint me into some ideological corner. I say these things not because it is some rote line. I am simply stating what is so simply evident to me is what God wants, and I'm incredulous at what exactly is so complicated here. The way you ask for sources sounds to me like Chachmai Chelm. Sources for what? Are there any sources that make it so that God is happy with these things. The frum thing -I have prayed in Chasidic shuls and in Ashkenazi shuls and in Sephardic shuls and in Yemenite shul and in lebanese and Syrian shuls... I don't see Am Yisrael as groups. There is no such thing as Frum, Sephardic, Ashkenazi, Chasidic, Modern Orthodox.... There is only Am Yisrael and we only have these seperations because we are in Galut. There were no such seperations at the times of the Batei Mikdash. In fact, if you want to get technical we're almost all from the same tribe of Yehudah. My point is I'm not sure exactly what ideological corner you've painted me into in your mind, but I am not coming from where you think. I'm just stating what is okay by God. For the record, if you saw me on the street I wouldn't look to you like a Chasid. I love all sects of judaism and take and learn from each (religious though). If my statements remind you of some group, this is not because I am affiliated with any group rather I am simply stating that which is what God wants. Again, this is all just addlibed; my main response is the 2 premises and conclusion; so again which premise do you think is wrong, exactly?

Ariel said...

Jaded Topaz,

As to your first question, I was not necessarily trying to base myself off of a source. I was merely trying to provide an elaborated explanation of what Chana's explanation of R' Twersky seemed to be. I believe that the Tur that I quoted, though, provides the general idea of the concept of the act itself not being the focus, but even the "lo tikrivu" aspects of the act, i.e. sexual acts between two men. To say it in what I hope is an even clearer manner, I think the term here was being used in a more vernacular/connotative sense than a denotative sense, which is not to say that acts other than anal sex itself are not halachically learned out from the prohibition.

As to mishkav zachar being considered arayos, I don't have a Talmudic source, but I think the Rambam will suffice (Hilchos Issurei Biyah, 1:3, copy-pasted from Mechon-Mamre):
ג [ד] הָעֲרָיוֹת שֶׁיֵּשׁ בָּהֶן מִיתַת בֵּית דִּין--מֵהֶן שֶׁמִּיתָתָן בִּסְקֵלָה, וּמֵהֶן שֶׁמִּיתָתָן בִּשְׂרֵפָה, וּמֵהֶן בְּחָנֵק. וְאֵלּוּ שֶׁמִּיתָתָן בִּסְקֵלָה--הַבָּא עַל אִמּוֹ, וְעַל אֵשֶׁת אָבִיו, וְעַל אֵשֶׁת בְּנוֹ וְהִיא הַנִּקְרֵאת כַּלָּתוֹ, וְהַשּׁוֹכֵב עִם זָכָר, וְהַשּׁוֹכֵב עִם בְּהֵמָה, וְהָאִשָּׁה הַמְּבִיאָה אֶת הַבְּהֵמָה עָלֶיהָ.

Mordechai Levovitz said...

1. There is no Issur included in the posuk of Mishcav Zachar, besides Anal Intercourse. All other issurim are either gederim or stemming from the issur of Motzie zerah, not Mishcav zachar.
You have quoted alot of sources, but each one has failed in proving the thesis that anything besides anal intercourse is included in the issur mentioned in the posuk.

Look again at the example of Gay Pedophic sex, that the Talmud and the Rambam mention. (See comment of Kuch leffel above for source). Even though its actual anal intercourse between a man and an 8 year old boy, it is not considered the issur in the posuk, because it does not fit into the specific parameters.

This Issur described in the posuk is interpreted very specifically by our mesorah.

Additionally, in the Talmud, and rishonim the term "mishcav zachar" refers to anal sex.

So once again:

Rav Twersky said, we publicly referred to engaging in "actual Mishcav Zachar"

We did no such thing.

Instead, Jews are being publicly accused of engaging and promoting a specific sex act. This is sick and hurtful.

Could you imagine if you were being publicly accused of anal sex, just because you mentioned you wish for love, companionship, or privacy in issues of the bedroom.

this is what I was trying to explain to Chana.

I did not mean to hurt or insult her, just explain, how hurt and insulted we were, with a blatant mistruth bullied from the pulpit.

I have a lot of respect for Chana, and this blog. I apologise for offending her sensibilities,
but the issue at hand is all about assuming anal sex. so its a touchy subject.

-Mordechai

Anonymous1:45 said...

Why are you so obsessed with whether it's mishkav zachar that's the issur. You mention the 'gay pedopic sex' as not being technically an issur - shouln't that prove to you that just because something is technically not an issur that doesn't make it mutar. You really think these are just gderim, really? Let me follow that logic and ask you if according to Mordechai, is a Jew allowed to do every lascivious act with a woman before they are married so long as there is no hotzaat zera. According to Mordechai, sure.. where is the technical halachic issur? It is self evident to any Jew, who is being honest with himself, that this is not what God wants; that is where the issur is from. It is no more complex than that. Since by definition, something which God does not want you to do is assur to you. You don't need log debates and treatises; it is a very simple equation. Also, I will ask , regarding my comment at 2:59 am, which premise exactly do you disagree with? And, where exactly in this comment is the flaw in my logic?

Anonymous1:45 said...

Oh wait I forgot, you're not allowed to be alone with a woman, so to make my example in the previous comment work, imagine that they bring in athird party into the room. There, now there is no halachic problem, so therefore, it's perfectly alright with God.

Mordechai Levovitz said...

listen, its obvious that I do not believe that just because something is not "actual Mishcav Zachar", that one can do it with out any problem. Each issur in the torah is important, and needs to be respected. as with the issurim of the rabbis. No one every argued against this.

This whole conversation is about Rav Twersky saying that the panelist mentioned engaging in "actual Mishcav Zachar"
which we did not.

read it for yourself.

we did not refer to any sexual actions at all.

hence the logic.
hence the flaw in Rav Twersky
hence my comment

Anonymous1:45 said...

I am not sure whether anyone knows what goes on behind closed doors. So I don't know for a fact if what he said is correct or not. However, who cares about whether a rabbi mispoke or not? What you should be concerned with is doing what Hashem wants. Does Hashem want you to - A) Fret over a rabbis statements or B) Concentrate on returning to him wholeheartedly and focusing on doing the right actions? Forget about this Rabbi and focus on yourself and on correcting past mistakes, as we all should be focused on. I think that the fact that you just said that no one is arguing that these other acts are okay, is good and I appreciate that clarification and admition. So now just don't do what's bad and do whats good. That's what's important. When you do so, you will become closer to God then ever before. That's what God wants you to focus on; not on some misspeak by a rabbi which will not affect your life in the least.

Ariel said...

Mordechai,

You and kuch-leffel seem to be, I hope accidentally, misleading everyone on the "restrictions" being placed on the definition of mishkav zachar.

The source was brought about an "exemption" of the pedophile for mishkav zachar, focusing on the fact that it is only an act of anal sex between two men. Yet that's not the point of the source.

The gemara kuch quoted, as can be seen by the Rambam (Issurei Biah 1:14) is just defining ages for the situation. Age 9 is a standard age for boys in arayos matters. Age 3 is the equivalent for girls. If kuch-leffel had brought the Rambam that is the halacha before (1:13) this would be very clear.

On that note, if a man had sex with his two year old daughter he wouldn't be violating an issur either. Does this have ramification on the definition of what an act of arayos with his daughter is? Of course not, all the halachos of arayos still apply between a man and his daughter. It is just that in this case it is not considered a sexual act - yet. She has to be older.

So it is entirely unclear to me what bringing the source was supposed to accomplish. Because of that, using a halacha about a standard age and painting it as a halachik restriction in the realm of anal sex hints towards ideas of halachik leniency, that other things would be permitted, etc.

Again, I hope this was accidental. In addition, Mordechai, I am not accusing you of engaging in an act of the literal "mishkav zachar" and I understand if your feelings were hurt by accusations. I have been merely trying to explain the positions of others in how they formed their accusations and have been trying to clarify certain other points.

I hope this conversation is done, I personally don't feel I have anything left to say on the matter.

FrumJewInYU said...

Thank you for being so persistent, Ariel. Anyone with experience in learning can see the correctness in Ariel's statements, both regarding what Rav Twersky and Chana are trying to say and regarding the fallacy of Mordechai and JT's attempted arguments to the contrary.

Anonymous said...

If you think that all gay men have anal intercourse, you are wrong.

FrumJewInYU said...

Umm...when did anyone say that?

kuch-leffel said...

The source and example of pedophilia was to show that, an act, no matter how similar in our sensibilities to Gay Sex, is not included in the posuk if it doesnt fit into the strict parameters that our Rabbi's defined for this posuk.

The Talmud and our Rabbis, limited the Posuk to anal sex between adult males. This is what the issur of "mishcav Zachar" refers to in the torah, Talmud and Commentaries.

This whole conversation is about Rabbi Twersky publicly saying that the panelists mentioned that they took part in "actual Mischav Zachar".

Mordechai, corrcctly pointed out, that Rav Twersky is wrong about that. The panelists never made such assertions. (and in fact were careful to avoid talking about any sexual actions).

It's not about insults, its not about other hallachic violation, or anything else.

Its simple. Rav Twersky publicly said these panelists said something that they did not. Worse yet, Rav Twersky publicly asserts that these panelists DO an act that he HAS NO IDEA, if they do or dont do.

This is a terrible thing to say publicly. It is embarrassing others be-rabim, and spreading false rumors.

Mordechai and others have taken Rav Twersky to task on this.

Apparently, Rav Twersky has conceded to this point...We are still waiting for confirmation on this. And whether or not he will bring it up in his conversation. (I think it will be be taped, and posted online).

Jewish Atheist said...

However, an event in which panelists insinuate that the halakha is wrong, unfair, not something they plan to keep or not something they are currently keeping is of a different tenor entirely. At Wurzweiler, such a discussion would be perfectly appropriate. As an event sponsored in part by an undergraduate club of Yeshiva University, however, it is not.

Wow, you're just a little party member, aren't you? Nobody can even TALK about violating a halakha? Or insinuate that it's unfair? This from Miss-I-yell-at-God?

What a petty religion.

FrumJewInYU said...

What a petty comment.

Chana said...

Jewish Atheist,

I didn't say no one could speak about violating a halakha or say it's unfair. I said that is inappropriate in certain forums. At Wurzweiler, a school of social work, it would be fine. At an event sponsored by the Yeshiva University undergraduate clubs, it isn't. I was remarking on the forum. Your placing me into the category of 'party member' is nasty. I know you believe that those of us who are Orthodox have just served up our minds on a platter to the rabbinate and others who theoretically fabricated this religion, and you are entitled to your point of view, but you can still attack my point as opposed to me. For example, you could have addressed why you think a university that runs under the tenets of halakha is an appropriate forum to insinuate that it is perfectly all right to go counter to said halakha and suggest that people who do so should be gladly welcomed and accepted by the Orthodox world.

There is a distinction (one the readers of these comment threads seem incapable of making) between respecting and appreciating a human being and disagreeing with their point of view or the nature of their remarks. I have a lot of sympathy for people caught in a bind between Judaism and their own point of view/ morals/ feelings/ desires. It would be ridiculous for me not to sympathize given that, as Josh mentioned, I and most others are in that position ourselves. Nonetheless, I don't think breaking the halakha is correct, as I have endeavored to make amply clear. Nor do I think insinuating that a life goal which includes breaking the halakha is a respectful (or frankly, logical) thing to do when speaking at an Orthodox institution.

Sympathy, support, caring, kindness and lack of homophobia are admirable goals and I support them. Implying that acceptance of gay people in Orthodoxy means acceptance of their actions, no matter what they be and under all circumstances, is not synonymous with them.

Jewish Atheist said...

I didn't say no one could speak about violating a halakha or say it's unfair. I said that is inappropriate in certain forums. At Wurzweiler, a school of social work, it would be fine. At an event sponsored by the Yeshiva University undergraduate clubs, it isn't.

It's a freakin' University! If you can't openly discuss issues at a university, it really isn't one, is it? The idea of a discussion that shouldn't happen is antithetical to the whole concept of University, in my mind.

Your placing me into the category of 'party member' is nasty. I know you believe that those of us who are Orthodox have just served up our minds on a platter to the rabbinate and others who theoretically fabricated this religion, and you are entitled to your point of view, but you can still attack my point as opposed to me.

I try to refrain from getting personal, and I didn't do so here. I apologize -- this is a very emotional issue for me and it upsets me like few others.


For example, you could have addressed why you think a university that runs under the tenets of halakha is an appropriate forum to insinuate that it is perfectly all right to go counter to said halakha and suggest that people who do so should be gladly welcomed and accepted by the Orthodox world.

I'm not talking about what's "appropriate," nor do I particular care about such niceties. I do think you are mischaracterizing what they said (who insinuated that it's perfectly all right to go against halakha?) But even if someone were going to say he didn't plan on keeping a halakha, are you really trying to argue that that person shouldn't be allowed to speak at such a forum?? The mind boggles.

The university or rosh yeshiva can clearly state that the individual is speaking for himself only and not for the institution, but it should be obvious anyway. Once it's clear that the individual is only speaking for himself, why can't he honestly say he doesn't plan on following a halakha? Should a "University" really be more scared that someone will follow his example than they are of continuing to not understand Orthodox gays?

Jewish Atheist said...

(cut in half for character limit)



I have a lot of sympathy for people caught in a bind between Judaism and their own point of view/ morals/ feelings/ desires.

As do I. The difference is that you are contributing to that bind, while I am seeking to get rid of it.

Nonetheless, I don't think breaking the halakha is correct, as I have endeavored to make amply clear.

Yes, you made that clear, Richard Joel made that clear, the roshei yeshiva made that clear, Rabbi Blau made it clear. Everybody knows what all of you think. They're not going to suddenly think you do support breaking the halakha just because you were at the same forum as a guy who said he was going to (which he didn't but even if he did.)

Nor do I think insinuating that a life goal which includes breaking the halakha is a respectful (or frankly, logical) thing to do when speaking at an Orthodox institution.

He's speaking honestly as a human being. What good comes of his keeping silent on the matter? What good comes from silencing him or not giving him a form?

This is the reason I called you a party member. Because you seem to go along with the idea that people can't even say that they, personally, are going to violate a halakha. Why can't they say that? Who are you and who is YU to prevent them from saying that (or to only provide forums for people who wouldn't say such things?)

It seems to me that you're more concerned with people hearing it and thinking, hey maybe I'll do that or hey, maybe that is a dumb halakha than you are with actual understanding. What, are YU students so delicate that if they hear that someone else isn't planning on following a halakha, suddenly they're going to not follow it, too? And if they are, what does it say that such disciplined staying-on-message must be maintained at all times... at a UNIVERSITY of all places.


Sympathy, support, caring, kindness and lack of homophobia are admirable goals and I support them.

Do you? You worship a being you believe wrote that men sleeping with men are engaging in an abomination and deserve to die. How can you say you support any of those things? You support them only for people of homosexual orientation who have never sinned and will never? Because the God you say you believe in has declared that those who do are worthy of death, not of sympathy or caring or support or a lack of homophobia.

Implying that acceptance of gay people in Orthodoxy means acceptance of their actions, no matter what they be and under all circumstances, is not synonymous with them.

I don't see how allowing someone to speak implies that you accept everything they do.


Also, it would be nice if you responded to my comments that didn't insult you personally some time. ;-)

FrumJewInYU said...

Newsflash, JA: You've stumbled upon the age-old YU debate, argued over and over and over (and over) again. Look at any back issues of The Commentator; every year there is at least one opinion piece about how to handle the melding of yeshiva and university. Bottom line is, as if this needs to be said at all: YU is not a typical university. The rulebook as to what should or shouldn't be true at a "real" university is largely irrelevant when it comes to YU. That's just the way it is. Whenever we can be like a "real" university, we try; but when there are overarching religious and chillul Hashem concerns, those take obvious precedence over the value of "being a real university." Whether or not one agrees that it was a chillul Hashem at all, it is obvious that in the general and theoretical case, an event that caused a chillul Hashem shouldn't be held at at YU, because it's more than just a university.

Jewish Atheist said...

FJIYU:

I know it's not a new argument. I'm just pointing out how ridiculous it is to have a "university" that opposes letting people even allude to the fact that they might not follow a religion's rules 100% of the time.

Chana said...

Jewish Atheist,

As I believe you know, I am in accord with Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik's approach, i.e. the one that states that Yeshiva University does not strive to be and is not a synthesis.

~

He says:

I have heard criticisms against the Yeshiva that we have not yet achieved the proper synthesis between Torah study and secular endeavor; between fear of God and worldliness. We have not achieved what the German Orthodox Jews called "Torah with derekh eretz [worldly occupation"] [Avot2:2]. I claim that the true greatness of the Yeshiva is that it does not have this synthesis. The truth is that there is no real synthesis in the world. If there is a contradiction between Torah and secular endeavor, then synthesis is not possible. If there is a thesis and an anti-thesis, then no synthesis is possible. In general, a synthesis is very superficial. It is apologetic, it imitates others and the individual loses his uniqueness. In synthesis, no one succeeds. Even our great teacher Rabbi Moses ben Maimon [Maimonides] did not succeed in his attempts at synthesis. The greatness of the Yeshiva is that it is a real Yeshiva and on thesecond level a proper academic institution. Both divisions function without synthesis and compromise.

My students go from my shiur on the first floor of the Yeshiva building to their college classes on the third floor. In my class, they study in depth such talmudic topics as whether the signatures of the witnesses or the witnessing of the actual delivery make the get [divorce document] effective [Gittin 23a], or whether going over the writing on a get document can validate the get [Gittin 20a]. Then they go upstairs to their college classes, where they study theories in mathematics and physics. I am proud when my student is both a Torah scholar and a good college student. If there were a synthesis, both achievements would be weakened!

In this concept, our Yeshiva is unique. It is not like other yeshivot. [...] The Catholics also have religious universities. I do not like to imitate others! We have a Yeshiva, and because the times demand it, we also have a university. These two divisions will not be synthesized. They will remain two institutions. It may be like a man with two heads, but it is better to have two heads than not to have one. [Laughter]

The uniqueness of the Yeshiva is another reason why I am loyal to this institution. It is a reflection of my own thinking and commitment. (pages 229-231)

~The World of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, Volume 2, page 229.

~

For there to be an event in Wurzweiler where religious gay people speak out about all their thoughts, emotions, feelings and perspectives is perfectly fine. For there to be a movie like 'Trembling before God' is also fine. For there to be a panel sponsored by the undergraduate clubs of Yeshiva University at which panelists suggest they plan to lead their lives with other men, which suggests they plan to transgress various laws, is not fine.

Why? Because this IS Yeshiva University. It's a yeshiva first. It's a place that fosters belief in God and His law first and respect for that law. Rabbi Blau made clear in his introduction that no one should speak about the halakha because the purpose of the forum was to foster understanding and awareness. If that statement had been kept to, all would have been well. But it wasn't and that's where the breakdown begins.

Chana said...

Your perspective is that YU is a university first; mine is that it is a yeshiva first. Thus we shall differ.

I believe in a God who gave us difficult laws and guidelines that do not seem fair per our Western morals and understanding of justice. I understand that you find this very upsetting. But simply because something is hard or difficult to keep or even upsets the social fabric does not make it wrong. I've addressed this point before and cited the Rav's 'Common-Sense Rebellion' piece on Korah and why we take laws as hukim first and afterwards give explanations. I believe in an absolute truth and in God; due to this, you are correct, I find myself in a position where I follow certain rules. I get no pleasure out of stating that something is a transgression. I don't take joy in the pain that anyone in a halakhic bind faces. I don't want people I love to be hurting, either in this world or the next world. It is simply that this is what I believe, this is the God whom I follow. Alas, it is unlikely that we will ever agree on this subject.

As for why I generally don't respond: I prefer for my posts to facilitate discussion or thought rather than imposing my opinions or views upon others. In truth, I think those are rather unnecessary- what does it really matter what I think? What each individual person thinks himself/ herself is of more importance- and that is why I generally do not join the conversation.

Anonymous said...

shades,
I couldn't find the audio with the link you provided - it was a page of talkline programs-can you be more specific?
KT
Joel Rich

Shadesof said...

Joel Rich,

Try it now; I'm not as adept as linking audios as you are :)

http://talklinecommunications.com/broadcasts/?p=episode&name=2010-01-03_talkline_010310.mp3

Avi Kopstick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Shades,
Practice my dear friend, practice!
KT
Joel Rich

Anonymous said...

Shades,
Thanks for the link. It seems to be a machloket between Dr. Goldberg (and some of the posters here and possibly R' MT) and the majority of the professionals - see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_orientation_change_efforts.



Chana,
you said -"As for why I generally don't respond: I prefer for my posts to facilitate discussion or thought rather than imposing my opinions or views upon others. In truth, I think those are rather unnecessary- what does it really matter what I think? What each individual person thinks himself/ herself is of more importance- and that is why I generally do not join the conversation."


KT
Joel Rich

Avi Kopstick said...

The lesser famous panelist now has a response to Rav Twersky too! http://toleranceoncampus.blogspot.com/2010/01/appeal-for-intellectual-honesty-my.html

Anonymous said...

Chana,

The way you've discussed the desire of people to have a loving relationship and imply that this implies that they are planning on violating a specific sexual prohibition belies your stated need to "take laws as hukim first".

If you took this law as a chok, you wouldn't be able to fit it into a rubric of proscribing same sex companionship or romantic affection, and would have to deal with the specific prohibition.
If you did consider it a chok, you could think about the possibility that a sexual restriction between men who loved each other could be spiritually meaningful in the same way that people choose to see niddah restrictions as something beautiful that brings a couple closer together...

If you considered it as a chok, you would perhaps be equally shocked at considering a technical loophole for same sex relationships as you would be thinking about a heter iska, a pruzbul, shabbos telephones, etc. And if you will say, but the motivation to find a technicality is for a good reason, I would tell you that the motivation here is for a good reason too. What would be so wrong about a harm reduction approach to halacha?

I also don't see how stating a desire for something is the same as saying that you are going to do it. And if I remember correctly, you shouldn't believe loshon horo, even if someone says it about themselves...

Finally, if you respond to a comment about being a party member with a quote from the Rav about YU, why take offense at being called a party member?

Anonymous said...

When presented with the argument: would you allow adulterers or pedophiles etc. to have a public forum, Mordechai likes to use the "victim argument." Basically: all those have a victim! But with homosexuality it's consensual! This is what Mordechai says:
"The analogy does not work because adultery, like stealing, is a social injustice where one person threatens the property or body of another person".

Well.. Mordechai, what about if the husband is ok with it! Thus, no victim. Is it then ok and appropriate to hold a public form for those who crave their neighbors wife?! Didn't think so. It must be hard to justify something you know deep down in your heart, is downright wrong.

- A Mourning Jew

Jaded Topaz said...

Ariel,

My question focused on your suggestion that the terms "arayos" and "mishkav zachar" are interchangeable when classifying concepts that involve "motzi zera levatala" depending on the genders involved.
The fact that you were sitting in the audience with an open jaw listening to the statements which you describe in the thread as "bedroom "arayos"" (awww what a beautiful euphemism ) does not change the fact that the rosh yeshiva used the words "mishkav zachar" in his mussar shmooze , in case you forgot.
Firstly "motzi zera levatala" sinning and resulting behavior could technically be classified as "arayos" whether or not the parties involved are of the same gender.
Is raising sins to the level of "arayos" a gender specific notion ?
Your Rambam Hilchos isurei biah 1:3, proves nothing other than the obvious fact that "mishkav zachar" is a very specific act of arayos (anal sex for those not paying attention)
Unless ure suggesting with your rambam source that "mishkav zachar" could technically mean any of the prohibitions the rambam defines as arayos ?
I understood ure original suggestion as suggesting that "arayos" and "mishkav zachar" are interchangeable when "motzi zera levatala" is involved.
Did i misunderstand ure assertion ?
Since "mishkav zachar" is a specific category of "arayos" I don't understand how thats possible.
"motzi zera levatala" does not necessarily imply "mishkav zachar" whether or not acts of "arayos" are being done.
"raising something to the level of arayos" is not what this argument is about. But thats besides the point.
This argument was about a specific claim of "mishkav zachar" references, of which i have still not come across in the original transcript.
Also what are u attempting to prove with the Tur's description of arayos ?


jaded topaz

Holy Hyrax said...

May I also add that, like Chana and others have said, is that YU is absolutely not a typical university. Everyone that is not comfortable with that idea will just have get over it.

Also, I think the mistake JA makes is that for him, the concept of halacha is akin to that of sociology, mathamatics chicano studies, or any other study found on universities where one can grab a soap box and rile up against it. Like I said in Ezzie's post, certain things are inherently sacred. They are on a separate class. This is something that is absolutely foreign in an university where absolutely everything is up for grab.

Shadesof said...

" It seems to be a machloket between Dr. Goldberg (and some of the posters here and possibly R' MT) and the majority of the professionals "

More interesting is the theological debate, which seems to casue taking sides in the scientific, mental-health debate.

In other words, because one believes theologically, that a person is not hard-wired, it seems that one then takes the scientific position as well.

The other possible side in the theological question, is that one assumes too much about how G-d would create people. However, first one should distinquish beteween what exactly is assumed to be "hardwired", and theologically problematic.

I understand why someone would say, theologically, that gay people are not hard-wired, like Frankanstein, to consensually *live* with, and/or assault other men. Otherwise, the Torah should have mentioned such an exception concerning the death penality, and there would be an issue of how to determine if someone is like Frankanstein or not, and how to straight-jacket them, which we don't see such in the Talmud.

But regarding marrying hetersexually and pru u'revu, it is perhaps easier to say, theologically, that there is a *new metziyus* which was not around during the Torah's times, or was not discussed.

In other words, if G-d can create someone who is halachically forbidden "lavo b'kohol", even though "the Torah is for everyone", why can't there be another metziyus of gay people who can't marry? For that matter, G-d can create a retarded person, or an extremely handicapped or severely depressed person who can only marry with great difficulty, and therefore, it is *almost* as if they must lead a single life.

Or at least, one can take a middle position apparently taken by R. Billet on the program, that gays are different--some are hardwired not to be able to marry heteresexually, and some not.

Shadesof said...

(Cont.)

R. Meyer Twerski( 18:10) quoted "hatzur tamim po'alo".

I don't know if he only means, as above, that it would be a theological problem to say that gays have an irrestible compulsion to have same-gender intercourse, or if he is saying that even to say that they are hard-wired, to the extent that they they can't marry hetersexually, is also a theological problem.

I have the same question regarding Dr. Meir Wikler's point, interviewed last week on Zev Brenner, linked below(43:30 on podcast):

"I'm certainly not an expert in that particular field...

If the Torah proscribes a behavior and requires us to act one way, or to avoid some other action, then it's obviously possible for everyone to be able to fulfill that Mitzvah. If the designer of the world, and the creator of each human being is also the author of the Torah, then it's not possible, even logically, for HKBH to require something of us that we are not able to fulfill, or not capable of performing.

Now, that doesn't mean that it's just as easy for everybody--there may be a greater challenge for some people in keeping some Mitzvos, there may be less of a challenge for other people in keeping the same Mitzvos--but to say that it's not possible for somebody because the of the way he was born or the way he feels that he was created, is a logical impossibility and I don't belive that that’s so.

If HKBH is requiring us to act a certain way, then it's possible for everyone to act that way"

http://talklinecommunications.com/broadcasts/?p=episode&name=2009-12-27_talkline_122709.mp3

Anonymous said...

JT, it's more than just motzi zera levatala. How can you not realize that? Anyone with experience (I assume, seeing as I have no trouble and I'm not that much of a genius myself) can easily see what Ariel proves with his sources.

Mordechai Levovitz said...

To Mourning Jew:

In my response I wrote:
"The analogy does not work because adultery, like stealing, is a social injustice where one person threatens the property of another person. In marriage, two people enter a contract assuring that the wife will not sleep with any other men. Adultery implies a break of this agreement"

This contractual violation applies whether or not the husband is ok with it. So this would not make a difference.

But I will admit that the extent of the social taboo was probably created in order to re-afirm pressure in cases where the husband is not ok with it. But this is a question up for sociologists. Either way, the analogy is still bad.


Although Rav Twersky didn't use it, many people have thought it better to use the idea of Shabbos Violators, as a better analogy for this issue. While i certainly think it is a better analogy than Adultary, It too, runs into many serious flaws.

Some simply dismiss the analogy because, of they say that the emotional components of isolation, depression, prejudice and dispair that come along with growing up gay in the frum world, just isnt the case for those who violate the shabbos. So, a similar panel would not be as needed or as appropriate. Personally, I think that this is not a strong enough difference on its own, because shabbos is a defining issues for many frum jews, and it can tear apart a family...and has actually been a subject of some interesting panels in jewish family conferences.

The question of shabbos is also more interesting because in actual cases where those who violate the shabbos are subject to cruelty, like in Meah Shearim, where the charedie kids throw stones at the people in cars, the response from the modern orthodox community has been a condemnation of the kids, not the people in the cars. Also, in the turn of the century, when many fathers had to work on shabbos to make a living, there was sensitivity to these families in the orthodox world. That's not saying that its right, but sensitivity and sympathy were demanded. The same understanding and sympathy was afforded to those in the turn of the century who worked on shabbos, but still stayed in the frum world. Their actions were never justified, but communities took care not to stigmatize these families, and they were still accepted as part of the frum community. However, in the last two decades, this is not so much the case.

The real reason why Shabbos isn't a good analogy is because, someone who publicly "wants to violate shabbos" may be compared with someone who publicly "wants to violate the issur of anal sex". In the panel, there was no one who publicly stated they want to perform anal sex. Many gay people do not engage in that act. and it should not be assumed. someone who is gay, is just romantically attracted to guys over girls. this says nothing about anal sex, and thus should not be compared with people who publicly "want to violate the shabbos".

Thanks for commenting on my points and presenting a good actual argument!

Jaded Topaz said...

Anonymous,

Whats your point ?
What is "more than just motzi zera levatala" ?
A very specific definition of "arayos" as in "mishkav zachar" - anal intercourse between two men ?

Why dont you state what you believe the arayos sources from both the tur and the rambam prove in terms of defining "mishkav zachar", precisely and definitively and why anyone would logically use the very specific form of "arayos" "mishkav zachar" in a more "vernacular/connotative sense than a denotative sense,", when preaching from the pulpit about specifics.


jaded topaz

Ariel said...

JT,

Starting from the more recent, you wrote:
"why anyone would logically use the very specific form of "arayos" "mishkav zachar" in a more "vernacular/connotative sense than a denotative sense,", when preaching from the pulpit about specifics."

I agree that the word "actual" from the transcription seems to indicate he means the act of anal sex itself. I am not here to defend the logicality of the usage. Again, I was just providing an interpretation of what I believed Chana was trying to say, and perhaps, in an apologetic sense, what R' Twerski meant. If he had said "mishkav zachar" instead of "actual mishkav zachar" I think my explanation would make perfect sense, in that he was using the term connotatively.

On to sources. I think the reason you didn't catch my drift was because you didn't understand how I was using the Tur, but first I would like to point out that in no way am I a halachik authority familiar with all the sources, so anyone that can point to clearer or more direct sources, go ahead. If my halachik reasoning is faulty and you have a source to prove it, please do so. I made my conjectures mostly based on the Rambam and the Tur. I'll try to be even clearer.

The Rambam source shows that mishkav zachar is a type of arayos. Now, the realm of prohibitions related to arayos are not limited to the act itself, but to a number of other prohibitions as well. The point of the Tur was to elaborate on those issurim, under the umbrella of "lo tikrivu l'galos ervah", and indeed he says that one is liable for lashes from hana'ah by "kiruv basar" with someone forbidden.

What I am suggesting is twofold:
1. Since mishkav zachar is a type of arayos, lo tikrivu also applies. This means that any homosexual act (i.e. including one of motzi zerah levatala), if not the act of arayos *itself*, falls under the general category of these type of issurim.
2. As I suggested with the vernacular language idea, I don't think people always make the distinction in casual conversation. Such that "arayos" activity in the bedroom would not be just referring to the act of vaginal or anal penetration, but to any of these type of issurim. And indeed, the last line of the quoted Tur says that one who does any of these things is suspected of actual arayos.

Have I answered your question as to what I was getting at?

kuch-leffel said...

to Shadesof,

you argue "If HKBH is requiring us to act a certain way, then it's possible for everyone to act that way"

This is simply not true, and a little insensitive to the many people who are indeed mentally or physically permanently incapable of fulfilling some mitzvot.

Just because there is a negative or positive commandment in the Torah about an issue, does not mean that every person must have the mental or physical capability of following the mitzvah. There are many people who because of physical or mental problems simply can non not obide by certain proscriptions. My brother is autistic, and my parent's asked many poskim about his responsibility towards kashruth and shabbos when in secular therapeutic settings. All of them with out exception, have told my parents that for someone like my brother, he was not born with the mental capability of abiding these proscriptions.

You can not surmise, simply from a prohibition, that everybody has the psychological capability of adherence.

just because there is a positive or negative commandment in the torah, does not mean that every person has a biological or psychological capability of fulfilling the mitzvah.

Just because Hashem asks generally for man do something in the torah, doesn't mean that we are able to do it. A deaf person will never be able to hear the shofar, an infertile person will never be able to peru-urevu, and some aguna's are in fact stuck. Acknowledging this is just the maturity of dealing with reality. Any parent of a disabled person knows there are some things that their children will never be able to do. Science and reality do not change because of a mitzva in the Torah, no matter how essential a mitzva.

Mordechai Levovitz said...

Ariel

you just posted "I agree that the word "actual" from the transcription seems to indicate he means the act of anal sex itself."

Thank you. Your admission inspires me that debate (even in the most heated fashion), can yield results.

He did use the Word "actual"

and it did indicate the act of anal sex.

and he did say that 2 of the panelists referred to partaking in this.

and as everyone can see from the transcripts, we never did.

This was a mistake.

and he used it in front of 500 people

and thoasands of people have read or have seen his speech online.

I rest my case on this point :-)

lets debate my other 15 points!

Shadesof said...

"you argue "If HKBH is requiring us to act a certain way, then it's possible for everyone to act that way"

I only quoted the above from Dr. Wikler, and tried to understand how far he takes it(also, listen to the question which he is responding to, to get the full context).

Mordechai Levovitz said...

Ariel,

also, regarding your points of "lo tikrivu"

While it is not clear cut, I tend to agree with you, that this may apply to Mishkav Zachar.

If one were to rigorously go into the hallochos of how a homosexual should behave in hallacha, these issues should definitely be brought up and addressed.

The hallochos of Lo tikrivu in general are fascinating, complex and dynamic. They manifest differently for each ervah, and also manifest differently depending on the social norms of the time. (what once may not be considered a suggestive action, may now be one in a different culture). This would be a great discussion and subject for rabbinic analysis.

I hope rabbis begin to explore this and start writing thought provoking teshuvas.

Once again, this is a point we can agree on Ariel.

FrumJewInYU said...

kuch-leffel:

It's pretty clear he wasn't including people with insurmountable disabilities.

kuch-leffel said...

...sorry Shadesof.

so take my previous remark as a comment on Dr. Wikler :-)

kuch-leffel said...

HA, frumjewinyu,

do you realize how circular you sound?

to argue that people can change... except people with insurmountable disabilities.

hmmm thats a pretty easy argument.

(btw, people can fly, except for the people that cant fly:-)

FrumJewInYU said...

Huh?

Ariel said...

Mordechai,

Although I believe R' Twersky made an error in his choice of diction, which, dan l'kaf zechus, could have been in the heat of the moment, I do agree with Chana when she wrote "Perhaps you did not get into details, but you definitely implied that leading a life in which you break this halakha is in the cards."

If we talk about what R' Twersky said, then yes, you can crow about being correct in your response. But when we talk about what you actually implied, if not explicitly stated, I can say that my and my friends' subjective understanding was along those lines. So although R' Twersky may have exacerbated the situation and brought it out to the fore, I think there were already the hundreds from the room that got that implication and even more from the video and transcript. I know you were in the act of catching yourself as you said it, but next time, try catching yourself earlier.

FrumJewInYU said...

The discussion isn't people changing, it's people being able to follow things Hashem has commanded. His argument is that anything G-d expects of someone, that someone can fulfill that expectation. Obviously, he's not talking about a deaf man hearing shofar.

Ariel said...

Mordechai (again),

Glad we seem to agree. All that's left is for JT to finally get what I was trying to say and this'll be wrapped up :).

kuch-leffel said...

Oh, I understood him as arguing that gay people can psychologically change their orientation, because "god would never ask of us something, that we were unable to do."

FrumJewInYU said...

That's not about changing one's orientation, that's about overcoming the (admittedly difficult) nisayon of being gay and never acting on it. People with that nisayon do, the assumption was, have the ability to overcome it.

Mordechai Levovitz said...

Ariel,

My response #15 (the subject of this original blog) was only to point out the flaws in Rav Twersky's speech.

To this end, I feel very vindicated.

I'm glad that you see it now too.

As to my comment implying that what I do (or don't do) in private is not for public discourse and is only the business of the person that I am closest to, I stand by it. This is a topic that is best left for discretion. One should only need to bring these topics up to a those immediately affected, or a personal rabbi or counselor.

Jaded Topaz said...

Ariel,

thanx for your clarification attempt , but for starters "arayos" was not the term used in the mussar shmooze.

1) "if" never counts.

2) since "arayos" was not the term used in the mussar shmooze, whether or not the term "arayos" is sometimes used to refer to different types of issurim that are not actually arayos but directly related arayos- promoting activities "in the bedroom"... and or the Turs guidelines for how to detect or suspect arayos loving behaviour is actually irrelevant or a different point.
"mishkav zachar" was the term used and its not clear why anyone would be using the term "mishkav zachar" to describe "bedroom behaviour" in the same way one would be using "arayos" to describe "bedroom behaviour", specifically cuz "mishkav zachar" is a specific "arayos" based prohibition anal sex, and the term "arayos" is neither a specific prohibition nor a gender specific notion.

So I dont think "arayos" and "mishkav zachar" are interchangable terms.

jaded topaz

Ariel said...

JT,

Oy. ARAYOS didn’t have to be the term used because arayos is a general term. Mishkav zachar is a type of arayos. I used the term arayos in my example as the general term, but it can be a stand in for any specific term someone might use as well. e.g. someone might say “adultery” in the same sense I used the term “arayos”, but it is focused on that specific type of arayos. Same case here, what I was arguing was that “mishkav zachar” could be used to refer to all types of issurim related to it, including the “lo tikrivu” ones mentioned by the Tur.

As to "'if' never counts" - I have no idea what you are trying to say.

Jaded Topaz said...

Ariel,

I will not "finally get" your point, if ure wrong.
Mixing and matching different categories of prohibitions and classifications of sin, from different eras/climates and habitats does not make sense logically, unless the underlying talmudic precepts the rishon or acharon assertions are based on are logically connected, and logical .

What talmudic sources is the Tur basing his "lo tikrivu" ervah assertions on.
What talmudic sources is the Rambam basing his "hilchos issurei biah 1:3" ervah assertions on.

anyway , whatever, who cares !


jaded topaz

Jaded Topaz said...

Ariel,

"what I was arguing was that “mishkav zachar” could be used to refer to all types of issurim related to it, including the “lo tikrivu” ones mentioned by the Tur."

why ? how does this assertion of yours make sense logically, cuz the Tur said so, cuz he decided to raise it to the level of arayos ?


jaded topaz

Jaded Topaz said...

Ariel,

Do both the Tur and the Rambam define "ervah" in the same way ?

What definition are they both using for the word "ervah".
And what are they basing their definition on ? personal heartfelt emotions and feelings or just philosophical or poetic moods of the moment.

What about everyone over on the authentic litvak side of town, the ones who didnt move to Spain, do they also define "ervah" in the same way.


jaded topaz

Jaded Topaz said...

or "arayos" or whatever they are claiming the sins are classified under.

EJB said...

Mordechai:
I'm having a little difficulty understanding what you're trying to argue here. Do you agree that the event was inappropriate (since the panelists implied they were violating issurim), but Rav Twersky also was wrong in inferring that two of the panelists were referring to anal sex, when you believe they weren't?
Or, do you disagree that the panelists implied that they were violating any issurim?
Or, do you agree that they implied they were violating issurim, but still maintain that the event was an appropriate forum?

Ariel said...

The Tur is just quoting what the Rambam himself says in Hilchos Issurei Biyah 21:1, quoted here:
הלכות איסורי ביאה פרק כא

א כל הבא על ערווה מן העריות דרך אברים, או שחיבק ונישק דרך תאווה ונהנה בקירוב בשר--הרי זה לוקה מן התורה: שנאמר "לבלתי עשות מחוקות התועבות" (ויקרא יח,ל); ונאמר "לא תקרבו לגלות ערווה" (ויקרא יח,ו), כלומר לא תקרבו לדברים המביאין לידי גילוי ערווה. [ב] והעושה דבר מחוקות אלו, הרי הוא חשוד על העריות.

So to claim that I am “mixing and matching” Rishonim statements from different times and climes is not an argument that is effective here. I used the Tur because it was quoted already.

As to what Talmudic sources they are based on – considering the same source states both the aspect of lo tikrivu and the aspect of mishkav zachar as an arayos, I do not see why these would need to be brought and I do not care to take the time now to search for it, although I assume a glance at the noseh keylim might do the trick. I assume they are defining it based on the actual passages of the forbidden sexual unions in Leviticus 18 and 20, along with sources like Mishna Kerisus 1:1. But if you would like to learn more, and maybe even disprove the Rambam based on Talmudic sources, I look forward to seeing what you find.

Litvaks would use whatever the gemara and rishonim had already defined as ervah, indeed what the Rambam has.

As to your saying “anyway , whatever, who cares !” – it seems you do, very much, considering how long you’ve been pressing the point :)

Ariel said...

Additionally, in case you were asking not what the source for the arayos are, but what sources for the definitions of the "lo tikrivu" acts - I am not sure, possibly some is from the Talmud, or maybe just from the Rambam.

Like Mordechai said earlier, those are things that may need to be elaborated on more and inquired into seriously by current poskim. I used the example of hotza'at zera levatala because I think that everyone would agree that it is inherently a sexual act.

Mordechai Levovitz said...

Glad to clarify:

1.Rav Twersky was wrong in saying that two of the panelists referred to engaging in in "actual Mishcav Zachar", we clearly did not, And I'm still not sure there is anybody on this list anymore who thinks we did.

2. The event was not at all improper. The event was not about peoples sexual actions or the specifics of what is done or not done in the bedroom. It was about the pressures, ostracizing, silencing and prejudice that Gays feel from the frum society; topics like coming out to parents, dating/marrying women, and experiences in reparative therapy were discussed. (further arguments can be found stated in the rest of my 16 points as to why the event was not inappropriate).

3.my comment implying that what I do (or don't do) in private is not for public discourse and is only the business of the person that I am closest to, implies that should only need to bring these bedroom topics up to a those immediately affected. and not in public forums.

4. Panelist did mention their wish to be loved, craved, married to someone that they feel an equally mutual feeling to, but none inferred that they were willing to defend breaking any Hallachot in doing so.

5. Because Homosexual physical intimacy, brings up lots of potential 2ndary hallochot, namely "lo tikrivu" and "motzie Zerah levatolla", "adoption", "aliyot", and "baaley tefilla" issues. it is a task for the Hallachically proficient among us to rigorously analyze the manifestation of such hallochot for gay frum jews. (this was beyond the scope of the panel, as clearly stated by Rabbi Blau.

Anonymous said...

"Lo sikrivu" is not "secondary," Mordechai. Many, if not all, would agree it is also yehareig v'al ya'avor. It's 3:16 AM, so I won't go looking for the exact sources on that right now. Maybe another day.

[Although this does seem to be much of Ariel's whole point, with which I fully agree: other aveiros which chazal have decided rank up there with mishkav zachor in terms of severity thereby fall into the category that Rav Twersky was referring to when he said "actual mishkav zachor."]

Good night.

Mordechai Levovitz said...

To further clarify #3,:
This is an issue that many Religious gay jews face.
Discussing bedroom limits with someone that may be interested in you and not understand your limitations is important. especially for a Gay jew that is Hallachic. For it means, that he will probably not be willing to engage in many actions that other gay non-religious people would. Thus, when in private conversation with a person who may be interested in you, it behooves a gay religious person to explain his bedroom limits to the interested party, lest confusion ensues, feelings are hurt, and unwanted situations arise.
Discussing bedroom limits may also be appropriate in conversations with close freinds, or a personal rabbi.
My point was that "discussing the bedroom" was not what was going on at this panel.

Mordechai Levovitz said...

secondary only to the main issur of Mishkav Zachar.

(and it is not accepted hallacha that issurim that fall under "lo tikrivu" classify as yehareg v'al yaavor"(not that that makes any difference to this argument. against hallacha is still against hallacha.)

The issue of Lo Tikruvu, is that we dont as of yet know what actions constitutes a clear violation in homosexuality. (in some ways we dont even know what constitutes a clear violation of this in heterosexual matters, although, in general, we have more resources to this. We actually need Rabbinic help on this matter. Is negiah "lo tikrivu", is yichud "lo tikrivu", is batting your eyes "lo tikrivu"?, is kissing "lo tikrivu"? is joking and laughing with someone "lo tikrivu"?

Do you claim to know the answers to these questions?

Again, these are questions that rabbi's need to address. Go ask your local orthodox rabbi.

I tend to believe that the answers to most of these questions are "depends".

this is where private discrete conversations with rabbis are so important...because the answers to these questions may in fact depend on the personal situation of the particular jew asking the question.

Anonymous said...

Mordechai,

Most rabbis are not comfortable fielding these questions from gays, but if they do, the only one you can count on is steve.

A new movie in the making, "the oy of gay sex." You star.

Anonymous said...

In other words, because one believes theologically, that a person is not hard-wired, it seems that one then takes the scientific position as well.
========================
My initial belief was that HKB"H would not create someone who could not possibly have the free will to keep a particular mitzvah which led me to believe (as the early Greeks did-without any testing of the theory) that it could not be hard wired. Life experiences have brought me into contact with people who, in my estimation, were given hard wired nisyonot that (as R' Twersky said but rejected) would require superhuman effort to overcome.
Given these 2 seemingly difficult to reconcile (and the link that I gave seems to support the hard wired for many), we each have to figure out how much it bothers us and what to believe and how to treat others who have been given nisyonot.

if a nisayon is hard wired (e.g. given here-developmental disability) how do we treat it? On an individual basis this is a huge issue (e.g. shaila raised in 1800's of sending deaf mute to a treif school where he could learn to communicate-no kosher alternavtive exists).

Again, I understand the meta issue of the Forum but I think the discussion here is in many cases analyzing the tree root rather than the forest.
KT
Joel Rich

Anonymous said...

Which is the route, where the trees?

Lack of cognitive ability, the same as anger management? I know people who have violent tendencies, a bad temper. I know others who get hornier more often and stronger than others. They masturbate when they can't get enuf. They have an outlet, needed or not.

The trees receive nutrients from the ground, photosynthesis from above. They were born gay. wtf?

kt

Chana said...

Since the thought being advanced here is that the Torah only forbids one specific act and theoretically it should be halakhically permissible for gay couples to lives together happily so long as they don't violate this one issur, I think it's important to note that there is a concept of the spirit of the law and a Naval B'rshus HaTorah. It is outrageous to suggest that God sanctifies and approves of a homosexual partner-oriented relationship that exists without one action in the same way that he does a marriage before a man and a woman.

I say this because:

1. God created man and woman to complete him. There is no alternate creation story of man and man.

2. You never see any homosexual relationship sanctified in such a manner throughout Tanakh. (People marry, but it is always women.)

3. If you look at the way such relationships are treated in the thought of those who interpreted the Tanakh, you would see this is impossible. The Midrash reads that it was not until the generation of the Flood wrote same-sex marriage contracts that God wiped out the world.

4. There is no such thing as Kiddushin or Nisuin by a man for another man, etc.

And those are just the few factors that come to mind; I'm sure there are more.

So to suggest that a man living with another man refraining from mishkav zachor is synonymous with a woman who is married to a man keeping the laws of niddah is totally preposterous. The spirit of the law demonstrates that God does not desire or sanctify such relationships. To advocate that an appropriate solution that breaks no halakhic bounds is to have a homosexual relationship without one act seems a willful misunderstanding of God's desire. Of course, it is better than to have a homosexual relationship that includes issurei kareis, but I think it would be extremely difficult to argue from the text that it's a union God actively desires and regards as holy.

Anonymous said...

Well said, Chana!

The model for gays is Shechem ben Chamor: take what you want, do what you will, enjoy the party, and pay the consequences.

Anonymous said...

Since the thought being advanced here is that the Torah only forbids one specific act and theoretically it should be halakhically permissible for gay couples to lives together happily so long as they don't violate this one issur, I think it's important to note that there is a concept of the spirit of the law and a Naval B'rshus HaTorah. It is outrageous to suggest that God sanctifies and approves of a homosexual partner-oriented relationship that exists without one action in the same way that he does a marriage before a man and a woman.
======================
So how would you advise someone born as a tumtum or androgynous to proceed given they are incapable of the relationship that HKB"H has set out as the primary role model?
KT
Joel Rich

Anonymous said...

Min be-mino, like a mamzer?

If Chazal wanted this, there would be perat l'mishkav zakhor. Instead, we have a specific issur.

The only solution is the heter of Rav Huna: do something three times v'na'asit alav k'heter.

This psak is very popular and widely known.

Torah is a Fire said...

Chana,
I really must commend you again for standing up for your post and, of course, the Torah.

alex said...

I am in a "forbidden" relationship I guess. I have a same sex partner. We live together. We love each other. We have both been damaged by a world that does not recognize the validity and naturalness of our love. Yet, we have NEVER, nor will EVER engage in mishkav zachar. It is contrary to halacha an we refuse to engage that way. We do hug and kiss alot. What exactly is the halachik problem here? I know the ultra frum among you wkll talk about the fence needed to protect against forbidden acts .. but unless you can honestly tell me that you are going to not touch your wife's drinking glass, or allow her to hand you the child during Niddah, I will not believe that is your real motivation. If you are truly consistent in those regards, then I guess I cant argue with your opinion that a gay relationship is intrinsically wrong. But if you are lenient in those areas of Niddah and you refuse me the same leniency, then you are just a homophobic bigot!

Anonymous said...

Alex:

I know the ultra frum among you wkll talk about the fence needed to protect against forbidden acts .. but unless you can honestly tell me that you are going to not touch your wife's drinking glass, or allow her to hand you the child during Niddah, I will not believe that is your real motivation.

Um..Alex,you are wrong. Please read the following and learn:

Description: Drinking From One's Wife's Cup When She is a Nidda


It is forbidden for a husband to drink the leftover beverage from a wife's cup while she is a Nidda. For example, if the wife was drinking soda and did not finish all the soda in the cup, the husband is not allowed to drink the remaining soda from her cup. The Sages enacted this measure as one of several safeguards against intimacy.

There are, however, a number of ways in which it would be permissible for the husband to finish the wife's drink. Firstly, if the leftover soda was transferred to another cup or glass, the husband is allowed to drink the soda. Furthermore, he may drink the leftovers even from the original cup if some more soda was added. He may also drink the remaining soda if somebody else had drunk some of the wife's leftovers beforehand. In all these situations, the husband may drink the leftovers because there is a "Heker" - a discernible reminder that they may not be intimate.

According to the strict Halacha, if a wife who is a Nidda drinks from a cup and does not leave over any beverage, the husband may use the cup immediately afterward. There is, however, a custom not to use a cup used by a wife (when she is a Nidda) before it is washed. Hacham Ovadia Yosef refers to this custom as a "Minhag Kasher" ("proper custom") which should be followed. Therefore, when one's wife is a Nidda, he should preferably not drink from a cup from which she had drunk, until it is washed.

SUMMARY: A husband may not drink a wife's leftovers from her cup while she is a Nidda unless they are transferred to a different cup, some more beverage was added into the original cup, or somebody had drunk some of her leftovers before the husband. If the wife finished the drink, it is proper for the husband not to use her cup until it is washed.

Anonymous said...

This advice is of use to same sex couples?

Live and let live, I say, but in private.

alex said...

To anonymous 7:22

You made my point exactly.
I am almost certain that the average person here who is dead set against gay relationships... even without mishkav zachar, would not really know or care about these arcane ins and outs of niddah. They probably would refrain from romantic contact when forbidden, but would they really ALL take it to this extreme. Sure, its an assumption on my part, but if you are all allowed to make assumptions, so am I.
You all make a big deal about the propriety of my personal choices, but you mostly neglect your own.

alex said...

Mordecai,
I would love to join you in your "coffee klatch" with Chanah - if it ever happens.

I am grateful to her for the use of her forum for a constructive and fascinating exploration of this really tough topic.

I hope she takes you up on this offer, and invites others who might be interested in seeing the faces and hearing the voices of others besides the 4 panelists.

Shmuel said...

Shortly after jumping into this, I realized that I was getting a bit TOO wrapped up, in an http://xkcd.com/386/ sort of way, and went off to clear my head and chew on this some more.

Coming back, there've been another 100 comments or so, and this is probably superfluous, but for what little it's worth, this is what I've been thinking.

(1) I still think "actual mishcav zachor" is inaccurate.

(2) I accept the possibility that Rabbi Twersky misspoke on that point, and that he meant something like what Chana had in mind.

(3) I had been under the impression that Rabbi Blau's warning that "halacha will not be discussed at this event" was meant to be a double-edged sword, making discussions of halacha off-limits, but also making it a safe space to talk about things that fell outside of halachic bounds without implicitly sanctioning them. Others here seem to have taken it as "only things fully allowed by halacha will be discussed." I confess I'm not sure which of us is closer to the intention on that one.

(4) The appropriateness of that may well tie in with Chana's point about which group sponsored this event. I'm not sure that a panel expressing extra-halachic views would necessarily be inappropriate for any of them, given the disclaimer, but I am ignorant of the various subdivisions at YU and am more than willing to defer to her on that.

Anonymous said...

alex,

Frum people observe taharat ha-mishpacha. MO tends to be looser in everything.

When the Orthodox Union, one of whose poskim is Rabbi Schachter, shows acceptance, accomodation, any interest in gay Jews, a blow will be won for non anal sex. Until that time, gays cohabiting are tolerated on a case by case, shul by shul, community by community basis. In most instances, the less obvious the couple is, the more accepting communities tend to be.

When the crusade is "you are not alone" the message is: who else might be available. You are on a high madrega resisting something the Torah forbids that you want (assuming you do). You are deserving of love, of being loved as you are, but netzach Yisrael, eternity, depends upon taharah - to the extent that we are capable, a higher standard.

Anonymous said...

Alex:

First of all, maybe you should read Ariel's very enlightening comments. Do you have (real) rabbinic approval of your actions, from any (legitimate) source?

Second, are you really comparing the minutiae of hilchos nidda to hugging/kissing? Wouldn't your actions be more similar to a husband and wife, I don't know, maybe hugging and kissing during niddah? Did you not just admit yourself that you assume that this is a level that people actually do follow?

And really, the whole argument is invalid: two wrongs don't make a right. If some people happen to unfortunately be violating certain hilchos niddah, that doesn't suddenly make other actions OK as well.
But let's say we drop that point; your argument is still flawed, because the difference between a couple that don't follow certain hilchos niddah and a gay couple that does what you do is that nobody knows about the former. And if you try to claim that nobody really knows about what a gay couple actually does either, I urge you again to see Ariel's source.

Good night.

Mordechai Levovitz said...

kiddushin for 2 gay men?

Funny how once again people imagine others making bad arguments just so they can look reasonable shooting them down.

I'm not really sure who argued that there should be a concept of Kedushin for gay men...(but then again, there be a whole lot of comments on this particular blog (I'm pretty popular :-)

Personally, the concept of kinyan kedushin and erusin doesnt seem to make much sense for 2 men, because, marriage is at its core, an acquasition, and (like it or not), it has to to with the property status of women vis-a-vis men. Two equal men can not acquire each other, in Jewish contract law, and thus, wouldnt really fit into the hallachic construct of Kiddushin or Erusin.

However, there is another concept of marriage, called "eishet ish". this concept has to do with family unit and sexual restrictions. This is a socoiologial construct that can exist without kiddushin or erusin. (its why and how there is an issur of adultary among goyim, even thought they dont have a concept of erusin or kiddushin).
The root of this idea seems to be in creating family units, "bein adam le chavero" and a concept of faithfullness to to one's male sexual partner. This idea may be applicable toward gays, but the jury is still out, and I, personally am not sure.

I have talked to Rabbi Chaim Rappaport about value in monogomous gay relationships. He told me, that there is still a jewish value for gay people to be monogomous and not promiscuous with respect to their gay partners. This value is rooted in the idea that any time a jew cares for anothers needs, takes their feelings into account, and shows kindness and sacrifice, the relationship takes on a holy nature. So he clearly believes that there is value in gay monogomous relationships.

I still do not think that this is an argument for kiddushin, nesuin, or erusin.

But it might be used to attain status of eishet ish.

ultimately, the same way that we would never want secular society to legislate laws against eating shrimp, or make laws requiring all four corner men's garments to have tzitzit, We also should not expect society's idea's of marriage to be rooted in Kiddushin, nesuin, or erusin. But we dont need those concepts to agree that relationships still have value. So, It may be consistent for Hallachic jews to accept gay "civil" marriages, while rejecting Gay hallachic Kidushin, nesuin or erusin.

EJB said...

JR:
I wouldn't compare a homosexual to a tumtum/androgynous in terms of their incapibility to perform pru urvu, since chazal categorize tumtun/androgynous as a seperate category of jews and forbid them from kiddushin (and probably exempt them from pru urvu). I've never seen a chazal that says anything similar about homosexuals.

Mordechai:
1. Who argued in favor of homosexual nisuin? Chana for sure didn't, nor did she assume that was your argument. Reread her post, and please (again) refrain from making unappreciated comments, such as "people imagine others making bad arguments just so they can look reasonable shooting them down." No such "bad argument" was imagined.
2. Do you agree that having a gay partner (even without engaging in anal sex) presents a halachik problem in terms of motzi zera livatala, yichud, and possibly negiah? If you do, how can you advocate that there is "value in monogomous gay relationships?"

Anonymous said...

ejb-so what do we tell them?

I think the readership may find the Mormon's wrestling with this issue of interest-I'd read the whole thing:http://www.isu.edu/~schorona/qa1.htm
the summary is particularly interesting :
SUMMARY: The forgoing information helps those of us in Family Fellowship determine our recommendations and goals in this matter. We are convinced based on all of this evidence that change is not an option for the gay and lesbian young people growing up in the Church. We recognize that the implications of this are profound. They are explained in the Religious Tolerance summary on therapy.
"As knowledge of sexual orientation increases, we expect that a consensus will form that adult sexual orientation is unchangeable, and that only bisexuals can decide to change their sexual activity from one gender to the other. Hopefully, the ministries which offer conversion therapy will, in time, drop their attempts to convert people's sexual orientation. They will probably begin to focus on convincing homosexuals that God wishes them to abstain from all sexual activity, and to live a life of loneliness.
This will be a painful transition for conservative Christians. Many of their recent activities to deny equal rights for gays and lesbians have been based upon the belief that homosexuality is a chosen and reversible choice.... As they gradually acknowledge that sexual orientation is not 'catching,' the theoretical justification for many of their discriminatory actions evaporates. "

kt
joel rich

alex said...

Anonymous, I think you misunderstood my point. I am not drawing comparisons to the issurim of Niddah. I am merely saying that even those here who would NEVER dream of having sex. or sharing a bed during NIDDAH are probably still cohabitating and sharing life together in a way which may resemble my life as a gay man in many ways.

Most are not taking Niddah to the extreme of worrying about pouring the soda into another glass (I said MOST, not all). Most sleep in the same room, but with beds that dont share a common sheet.

Symbolically they are observing the halacha, and this is laudable. But without knowing what I do in my bedroom, they worry about the temptations that I may face to overstep lav d'oraysa of Mishkav Zachar, without accepting the possibility that we have our own gderim in place to prevent that.

Dont condemn my relationship which is the only thing which brings me stability and happiness in life, simply because you assume I am as wretched in adherence to halacha as you might be.

Anonymous said...

Mordechai,

Your great, great uncle would be proud of your chiddushim, teire kind. Whoo-hoo.

"But it might be used to attain status of eishet ish."

The next step is to possibly require gittin, yibbum and a stylish line of shoes. As to authorities, there is only one, gadol shebekulam: steve.

Anonymous said...

alex,

I don't think two wrongs make a right. What other people do isn't relevant. You have to do what's right for you until you meet your Maker. It's the Bet Din shel Ma'alah that you have to impress, not anyone else. If the only way you can maintain sanity is to live with a lover, who are we to sit in judgement on you? We can't, shouldn't, won't. It's none of our business. But, when you take the cause public with the goal of "saving" the children be confident this is pikuach nefesh rather than being mattir issurim. This, I believe, is the point. Whistleblowers are tired of keeping things under the rug. They want the closet doors open. Maybe this is good for some, but not everyone. The Jewish way is to recognize limitations, while striving to do better. We do the best we can. People of good will recognize that when temimut is present. But, promoting Jewish "in-marriages" of homosexuals on party cruises, in gay bars etc. (let's have fun) isn't a noble goal in my opinion. Maybe I'm in wrong. Ask Mordechai.

Shmuel said...

EJB:
"I've never seen a chazal that says anything similar about homosexuals."

In an interview on the DVD bonus features for [i]Trembling Before G-d,[/i] Rav Aharon Feldman does relate such a p'sak from the Brisker Rav, that somebody who's not attracted to women is patur from pru u'rvu. (If they want to marry women anyway, he considers this praiseworthy, but not required.)

Anonymous said...

Alex:

You responded to none of my points, and then took an unwarranted personal shot.

Perhaps read Ariel's points again.

Anonymous said...

So, based upon Rav Aharon Feldman, now we know that someone gay isn't obligated to go out on dates. No need to lie. No need to drag people along. No need to marry. Patur.

Would the Brisker Rav approve of those he may or may not have declared patur from the mitzvah p'ru u'revu to out themselves as gay?

Is it a mitzvah to declare oneself gay?

v'hayita ach (le-rabot being gay) sameach?

Or is ga'avah, the Israeli translation, more accurate?

alex said...

Anonymous

"Do you have (real) rabbinic approval of your actions, from any (legitimate) source?"

- I am not claiming that I do. All I am saying is that I do not commit Mishkav Zachar!

"Wouldn't your actions be more similar to a husband and wife, I don't know, maybe hugging and kissing during niddah?"

- That is just an issue of line drawing. I am saying that when it comes to making "gderim" to protect against a "lav d'orysa", it is not for other line-drawers to criticize MY line drawing.

I only said that I SUSPECT that many here who condemn my roomate situation "al pi halacha", are probably sharing coke from a can with their wife in niddah.

"the whole argument is invalid: two wrongs don't make a right."

- My point was not to justify my actions. It was to point out the hypocricy of others' stances.

"the difference between a couple that don't follow certain hilchos niddah and a gay couple that does what you do is that nobody knows about the former."

- again, my point, I dont care whether anybody observes or doesnt observe, or even whether they talk about it. In fact maybe an open discussion about the difficulties of maintaining Niddah and the resulting consequences of our failures might be appropriate. How can it be wrong to talk about our failings as Jews? Talking is not justification.

But that's a side issue. The main point is that there is something about gay people that makes people much more intolerant of halachic transgression. Maybe its the sexual nature of the issue, but the intolerance is very real and appears out of proportion to the act.

Sure we could stay in the closet and never let you know about these things.. but then how would you ever understand the halachic struggle we face?

Anonymous said...

First of all, being against halachik transgression is 100% correct; it's not "intolerance."

Second, as Rav Reiss said, there is supposed to be more of a reluctance to talk about sexual matters in public. That's halacha, backed up by countless sources!

Anonymous said...

Second, as Rav Reiss said, there is supposed to be more of a reluctance to talk about sexual matters in public. That's halacha, backed up by countless sources!
===================
Which means that it is a rebuttable presumption (e.g. child molestation) which goes back to my point that it is not a slam dunk.
KT
Joel Rich

EJB said...

Shmuel
Do you know if the Brisker Rav said homosexuals are patur from pru urvu midin ones or that they never had the chiyuv of pru urvu to begin with?

Shadesof said...

"Second, as Rav Reiss said, there is supposed to be more of a reluctance to talk about sexual matters in public. That's halacha, backed up by countless sources!"

True, but there is a matter of balance.

Rabbi Pinchos Stopler writes in the preface to "The Sacred Trust", linked below(pg XIII):

"It is my belief that effective discussion that concern the topic of male/female relations, in keeping with the concept of sexual modesty, are best held with small homogeneous groups of young men or young women, separately. These study or discussion sessions are best led by men or women whose religious devotion and sense of tact are taken for granted , who are able to approach the topic with attitudes that encourage openness and sincere interest. Because give--and-- take discussion sessions are almost always most valuable when they promote openness in the interest of understanding and knowledge, it is important to avoid guilt and embarrassment."

Note that R. Stopler speaks of "openness" and "give--and take", on the subject of sexuality; a mussar schmooze, for example, as essential as that is, is not a substitute for this openness.

The other side of the coin of sexual modesty concerns today is, the *sick* attitude adopted by some in the Torah world towards sex, which, according to R. Aharon Rakeffet(12/21/09, 17:15 on audio link below) is partially responsible for the sexual scandals in the Torah world which we hear about. Rabbi Rakeffet says:

"The Torah world--not all of it, part of it-- has adopted a sick, anti-Torah attitude towards sex. We've gone crazy!

...So we educate every one-- women are sexual objects, men are sex predators. Separate buses. In Square Town they have separate sidewalks... separate buses...

This is sick, sick, and sicker.

And what has happened as a result? Sex exists, sex is here, sex is within the person. So course, klapei chutz [a sex predator pays the entrance price to society and is frum]..."

As above, there *is* an essential need for modesty and "gedarim". Perhaps similar to R. Stopler's advice, above(though for a different reason of "[not] generating an attitude of approval"), Dr. Pelcovits was quoted that the YU gay forum should been held held in small groups(see comment below from Joshua Hoffman).

My point is that there are two sides to the coin, and we should be aware of the "sick" attitude which exists toward sex, and which, paradoxically, is in part responsible for infidelity.

In a similar concept, R. Eli Titelbaum z'l(linked below) a venerable and experienced educator, taught that one must find kosher alternative for much of what one restricts(see " A Kosher Alternative", linked below).

http://books.google.com/books?id=IokTdgbnq78C&pg=PA33&dq=The+Jewish+family+has+long+been+a+model+of+harmony,&lr=&cd=2#v=onepage&q=small%20groups&f=false

http://www.yutorah.org/lectures/lecture.cfm/740330/Rabbi_Aaron_Rakeffet-Rothkoff/2009-12-21_Press_Conference

http://curiousjew.blogspot.com/2009/12/sichas-mussar-hadracha-on-recent-events.html

http://www.countryyossi.com/STAGE1/SEC-Mag/index.php?article=80&section=magazine

Shmuel said...

EJB: I don't know. (Appropriately, your question strikes me as a very Brisker chakira.)

(Also, I should note that this was a psak given for a specific person. Similar decisions would properly fall under the heading of "ask your local Orthodox rabbi." Though this, too, is a statement that slices more than one way...)

Anonymous said...

Shadesof:

Exactly my point, thanks. Small, private groups - not big events (spectacles?).

kuch-leffel said...

I've actually spoke to many Orthodox Rabbi's about gay people's chiyuv of pru u revu, most including rappaport, fox, and wiess, all fell on the side of gays being exempt from the mitzvah of pru urevu.

now heres the interesting part.

Most Teshuva's learn up the issur of motzie zerah, in relation to the mitzvah of peru urivu. There are multiple cases where once the mitzva of pru is out of the picture, the issur of motzie zerah also disapears.

Again, personally, i think the issur of motzie zerah, is more complex, less hallachic, more kabbalistic in nature, so I'm not sure if this chakira really takes away all issues with motzie zerah.

but from a talmudic learning point of view, if you take away the mitzva of peru from gay people, you have a very compelling argument that the hallachic issues of motzie zerah also disapear for these people.

EJB said...

kl - there is no way to remove the issur of yichud/negiah. Could you provide a source that says homosexuals have no issue of motzi zera livatala?

kuch-leffel said...

I'm not really sure there is an issur of Yichud or Negiah for gays. If there is, it would be quite a chiddush. If anything they would be chumra's that individual gay people could take upon themselves if they like, but assuming they are hallachot is pre-mature and unnecessary. I'd speak to my local ortho rabbi's on that one.

Concerning my argument for Motzie Zerah, it was by no means a psak. Just a logical hallachic argument. One that would be made in a beis medrash. If gay people are not in the parsha of "pru u revu", like many rabbis have stated, and "motzie Zerah", is an issur based in the commandment of "pru u rvu", then it would follow, that gay people may not be subject to the issur of "motzie Zerah".

Its hallachic fuel for talmudic thought.

My source, well, for that I'll quote the same source my rebbe Rav Solevitchic used to, "a clear and logical mind".

Anonymous said...

laughl, a clear and logical mind?

If the equipment works, I don't see how a homosexual can claim to be petsua d'ka.

Most males, even homosexuals, can get someone pregnant.

Your ramblings are pie in the sky rationalizations.

Chaim Rappoport demonstrates how little he actually understands homosexuals when he suggests that biah shelo k'darkah is somehow possibly a channeling mechanism for gays. Gays have zero interest in anally taking women. They aren't really interested in women sexually, but that doesn't mean they can't get one pregnant if motivated to fulfill a positive commandment.

They aren't motivated, but all issurim and mitsvot apply.

kuch un vei.

kuch-leffel said...

anon,
The mitzvah of Pru u revu is a little more complex than just physically being able to impregnate a woman. According to most Orthodox rabbis, it takes into account the psychology, mindset, and practical realities of that person. For example, Rabbis have paskened that people with forms Autism, Mood disorders, and the disabled may also not have the mitzva of pru u revu.
Once the person is outside of the mitzva of Pru u revu, the argument can be made that he is also exempt from the sin no of Motzie zerah, since the sin is rooted in this mitzvah according to most commentary.

kuch-leffel said...

Another interesting Hallachic Food for thought:

According to Rav Blumenthal (chareidi rav who paskens on issues of Jewish marriage). Condoms are not a permitted form of birth control because ultimately sex with a condom is an act of "motzie Zerah Levatolla".
While the act of sex on Birth Control may still be an act of "biah".

This is a very interesting hallachic construct. The act of Sex with a condom is not considered Biah, but only Motzie Zerah Levatolla.

Well, one may use our clear and logical minds to raise some interesting questions to the application of this, in other issurim.

If wearing a condom changes the metzius of the act from "an act of sex" to and act of "wasting seed". could anal sex with a condom, not be considered an "act of sex",in terms of the strict reference of anal sex interpreted in the issur of Mischav Zachar?

This might actually save those who engage in this act from a pure violation of the torah, as long as condoms are worn.

Certainly, this line of thinking is novel and must be fleshed out in terms of a condoms application in other areas like adultery, and incest. But it is a worthy discussion, and may yield results.

Shmuel said...

"The act of Sex with a condom is not considered Biah, but only Motzie Zerah Levatolla."

This argument hinges on the two being mutually exclusive. I fail to see why they would be. Surely it's biah and motzie zerah?

Anonymous said...

laugh'l, it's offensive comparing gay people to the autistic. Lusting for guys isn't Asperger's. Mood disorders? We pasken rov nashim pikchot hen. Bi-polar symptoms provide a blanket heter for promiscuity? It is a symptom. You are very liberal.

You are assuming that rabbinic enactments are irrelevant. Anal sex is the only lav. This is untrue.

But, in your own words - taken out of context - "Certainly, this line of thinking is novel and must be fleshed out."

Those who crave flesh give in to their instincts and walk away. Justifying rationalizations is obscene.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone notice that Mordechai conveniently ignored the post which asked him to answer specific questions. I'll repeat those excellent questions, and let's see if he can answer them:
1. Since you argue that comparing gay relationships to adultery is wrong because adultery breaks a social/marital contract, can you address the comparison to a brother-sister sexual relationship? Let's even say their parents are dead and won't be bothered by it, though I am certain many Orthodox parents are VERY troubled by their son's gay relationships too. So, is brother-sister sex OK? Are those FEELINGS okay? And don't say brother-sister pairs might have kids. Pretend they are too old, infertile, whatever, or two brothers are gay and want to have a relationship. Mordechai, do these people need therapy, or are their feelings of attraction as valid as heteros and as valid as yours?
2. When you said - and I saw the video - that some people in your support group are "openly leading homosexual lifestyles" - do some of them, in fact, engage in actual mishkav zachor - and don't say what they do in bed is private. Take your best guess, do they? And do you think a normal person who hears that statement could be faulted for assuming some of them do based on what you said? There's an awful lot of people who heard the speeches who understood it exactly the way Rav Twerski did, are they all fools?
3. How do you know that feelings of "gayness" are natural and normal? Is your proof that many people feel them? That psychologists can't cure it? But then do you think that schizophrenic thought patterns are natural - lots of people are schizophrenic, and psychologists can't cure them either...
One more question:
4. I agree with you that you have it tough, and I feel bad for you. But why are you special, aren't there lots of people who struggle with lots of issues, but society does not make a group for them in the Orthodox world. For example, frum girls who have had abortions - it is very hard for them. But while we sympathize privately when we know someone personally, we don't make a public "outing" of these girls - nor do they want to be identified as such.
5. I don't tell people I like girls. I don't talk about wanting to have sex when I can't (I am a single guy at YU). Why do you feel the need to talk about "it" all the time - perhaps that is part of your issues?

EJB said...

kl
Look at Minchas Chinuch 168. He clearly assumes homosexuality is a standard case of arayos, and that the pasuk "lo sikrivu ligalos erva" applies to homosexuality. It is a chiddush to say that yichud/negiah does NOT apply to homosexuals.

Anonymous said...

Mordechai is busy. He's a nationally recognized performer. When he's not entertaining Jewish audiences, he's entertaining.

But, in fairness to him, although I disagree with his promotion of Jewish youth outing themselves leading them down the path of avairo (for sure),

1. Bestiality, Mordechai says, is unfair to animals. Who know what goes on in dysfunctional families? Incest is not germane to this discussion. Individuals who commit incest, Mordechai might argue, have other outlets. He posits that gays don't. I don't think this justifies sexual deviance, but that's his argument.

2. The argument that gender is genetically established is gaining acceptance in scientific circles. Certainly, gays seem to feel that way. Reparative therapy doesn't really work. To my knowledge there is no effective treatment for child molesters. Why not give them the benefit of the doubt? The APA's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual does NOT treat homosexuality as an illness. Some see that as a result of political action, but let's imagine that this is true. They can't help same sex urges. Can they not act on them? Sure. They want to though and do. This is why there are so many teenage pregnancies. People don't always use wisdom. They do what they choose to do. If straights and older singles have the same problem, you're right. They do. They don't brag about it. But, gays do. JQY moves with the times.

There is a stigma to having an abortion in our society. Ethics aside, it's a sign you don't really care, make a bad parent. Gays aren't hurting anyone, they say, especially with consent.

They yearn for acceptance because they cannot change. They don't want to be pushed out of Orthodoxy. They don't really want to conform. They want to be treated like mechalelei Shabbat, bo'ale niddah, in their view, everyone else.

I don't agree with their program. But, I guess we should let Mordechai speak, sing, for himself.

steve said...

The issue of consent is overplayed by Mordechai. It really is only relevant in the case of pedophilia. Pedophilia is the only one of these "orientations" which really leaves the actor without other options. It is in this sense - and only this sense -that it is most like the situation with homosexuals.

Therefore, the practical distinction between these two lies in the fact that there is an injured party in pedophilia (the non consenting child). Surely the pedophile cannot enjoy a normal relationship, and suffers greatly in that regard.. but the fact that a child would be injured by his craving is enough reason for him to refrain and continue to suffer. It is like a craving to kill... sorry.. aint gonna be allowed.

But the homosexual is being asked to not only refrain from a perfectly productive and harmless relationship, but also to act and fake as if he was looking for the same romantic interests as everybody else. It is a life of lies and there is no reason to live that way since there is no victim if the gay man fails in his challenge.

That is why I disagree with Mordechai in his reliance on "consent". The issue of sibling incest is simply unhealthy for the family and the children that might be produced if a blanked permission were granted for this. The issue of consent could be also be relevant in the sense that there is always the risk of coercion in such close relationships as siblings. ( I dont think the issue of sibs separated at birth is really common enough to warrant further elaboration here)

Anonymous said...

Pedophila is a serious problem, a threat to society.

Homosexuality, in cosmic, metaphysical, Kabbalistic terms, harms the universe. It's not pareve, victim free, even with informed consent.

In classical theology, sin causes suffering. In our system of sechar v'onesh, righteousness (Chana) is rewarded, rish'ut punished.

Kol Yisrael arevin. If we are opposed to promoting a "frum" gay lifestyle it's because we are committed to Jewish destiny.

Mordechai Levovitz said...

5 good questions, 5 good answers.

first of all, i do apologise for not seeing these questions earlier, I dont really have time to go through and read all 200 comments...but These questions caught my eye, and deserve to be answered.


1. Incest? Consent was the issue with besitality and pedophilia. other peoples property was the issue with adultary and stealing. Harm is the problem with murder and violence. with regard to incest, I agree with steve. Incest are sociological laws instilled to protect the safety of the home and family unit. Because we assume that fathers and brothers will live under the same roofs as daughters and sisters, to ensure that the home is safe, platonic, and free of pressures to act sexually, Incest is outlawed ethicly in creating a safe and stable family unit. This is why brothers and fathers can not marry or have sex with daughters and sisters. Brothers and fathers have unfettered access to the women in their home. and the only way to preserve this family unit, which is both a religious and sociological value, incest is not only outlawed, but made into a social taboo. This is the reason and function of this tabbo. it is for the protection of the vulnerable, and the safety of family homes. Comparing it to 2 gay men making a life with each other is preposterous.

2. Anal sex? Um, I dont know about you, but i tend to not assume the specific actions that other people do in their bedrooms. One should make no more assumptions about what gay people do in their bedrooms, than they do of straight. In some agunah groups, I'm sure there are people who may be having sex discreetly, but that doesnt make the whole agunah group krum...get your mind out of the gutter, and listen to what people tell you, dont think about what exactly they do when the lights are closed.

Mordechai Levovitz said...

5 good questions, 5 good answers.

first of all, i do apologise for not seeing these questions earlier, I dont really have time to go through and read all 200 comments...but These questions caught my eye, and deserve to be answered.


1. Incest? Consent was the issue with besitality and pedophilia. other peoples property was the issue with adultary and stealing. Harm is the problem with murder and violence. with regard to incest, I agree with steve. Incest are sociological laws instilled to protect the safety of the home and family unit. Because we assume that fathers and brothers will live under the same roofs as daughters and sisters, to ensure that the home is safe, platonic, and free of pressures to act sexually, Incest is outlawed ethicly in creating a safe and stable family unit. This is why brothers and fathers can not marry or have sex with daughters and sisters. Brothers and fathers have unfettered access to the women in their home. and the only way to preserve this family unit, which is both a religious and sociological value, incest is not only outlawed, but made into a social taboo. This is the reason and function of this tabbo. it is for the protection of the vulnerable, and the safety of family homes. Comparing it to 2 gay men making a life with each other is preposterous.

2. Anal sex? Um, I dont know about you, but i tend to not assume the specific actions that other people do in their bedrooms. One should make no more assumptions about what gay people do in their bedrooms, than they do of straight. In some agunah groups, I'm sure there are people who may be having sex discreetly, but that doesnt make the whole agunah group krum...get your mind out of the gutter, and listen to what people tell you, dont think about what exactly they do when the lights are closed.

Mordechai Levovitz said...

3. natural and normal?
-when did I ever say that being gay is normal? I dont even know what "normal" means. All I know is most people dont choose to be gay. It is not something that someone wakes up one morning and thinks..."hey, you know what, i think i'll decide to be attracted to guys and not girls". The point is that this is not something that people choose. And even the reparative therapy community (Jonah included) agrees that for some people, change is not effective. So it's unanimous scientifically that for some people it can not be changed.

4. your problems arent bigger than mine? I never said that my problems are bigger or less than. Only that there are people who needlessly suffer because they are being unnecessarily and unhallachically ostracized by the community. It's the communities responsibility to be compassionate and no longer contribute to the suffering, isolation or silencing of these people. I never claim that people should speak publicly about what they do in the bedrooms, that should be kept discrete. I don't think we disagree here.

5. why talk about it...I dont?
-you dont have to talk about it, because you are assumed to be straight, and furthermore you are not ostracized for being straight. But let's be real for a second...straight people dont flaunt their heterosexuality???, COME ON! how often to straight guys talk about girls, or how often they like one, or how pretty one is...ALL THE TIME!
Even in shul, we announce engagements, make huge kidushim for them, and send out hundreds of invitations for weddings, vorts, and other ways in which your orientation is affirmed and public. Gay people dont want to be able to tell people how much they want to have sex, but they should be allowed to tell people that because they are gay, they are not dating girls, or have a partner that they think is special and romantic. (and it is not our responsibility to assume what they do or dont do in bed)...the same way i dont make assumptions about what the other frum boys are doing with thier girlfriends or fiancees.

Well I think i clearly answered your questions...I am sorry that I cant get to everyone. I am trying to respond to all the poignant points...if you really want to continue the conversation privately, you could email me at zackmax123@aol.com. thanks

-Mordechai

Anonymous said...

Mordechai, guys and their girlfriends/fiancees are careful (and if not, they should be) not to be meyacheid with each other. Can that be said about a gay man and his "special and romantic" partner?

Mordechai Levovitz said...

anonymous, let me correct you, some frum single men refrain from yichud with thier dates or fiancees...I went to YU, and I can tell you with certainty that this was not the case for many, and i can tell you with even more certainty, that for those who did have yichud with their girlfriends, no anal sex was inferred suspected, or assumed. And finally, and most importantly, these people never were ostrosized or made to feel prejudice or hate in the community, even if they were "meyached" with their gfriends

kuch-leffel said...

If EJB is confident that Yichud and Negiah applies to gays Min ha torah...so tell me rabbi, how does this manifest practically?
Am I not allowed to be in the same room with another guy alone?
Am I not allowed to shake a guy's hand, or hug another guy?
Ha, or further yet, maybe EJB thinks i should refrain from hearing the voice of a guys singing live?

The point is, that this is not so simple at all.

It could be that some concept of Yichud applies, i dont know, however, this would have to be after real rigorous analysis and reasonable practical application.

But honestly, I find it some what presumptious for you to be so confident that there is a biblical prohibition that I can not be alone in a room with another guy.

another question that I'm sure EJB has the psak for, is weather his "yichud" hallacha would mean that I would not be able to be in the same room alone, with another gay guy, or even another straight guy. For, My desire is for men, straight or gay. Lo tikrivu should obviously restrict me, from yichud with any guy. This applies to negiah too....hmm kinda makes basket ball hard. hmmmm

But all these things are so simple to EJB. They are obvious.

My point regarding Yichud and Negiah, is that they are not obvious, not simple, their applications would be novel and interesting, and would require new rabbinic rulings.

Assumptions that they are biblical violations are beyond premature.

kuch-leffel said...

With regard to Shmuel's point about biah and Motzie Zerah, not being mutually exclusive. I tend to agree.

However, according to the psak that condoms are considered motzie zerah, while ingested birth control are not. the reasoning is made that there is something about condom usage, that take the act out of the parsha of biah, and into the parsha of Motzie zerah. While birth control, is still biah, however, just resulting in a non pregnancy.

again, I am not saying that i agree with this psak, only that the reasoning may be used to distinguish condom sex from traditional intercourse. this distinction may be enough to make gay condom sex, not included in the specific limited parameters of the interpreted posuk of Mishcav zachar.

there are a lot of if's here...just food for thought.

Anonymous said...

Mordechai,
Your answers leave a lot to be desired, though I am impressed that you tried. With some evasions.
Saying our minds are in the gutter - nice insults, nice that you are so holy - but when someone says "he leads an active/open gay lifestyle" - is it REASONABLE to assume there is a good chance that person is having a physical, sexual, relationship with another man, which may or may not - but is likely to include - anal sex? I bet 98% of normal people with no agenda would understand your words that way - people, chime in here - so Rav Mayer Twersky was 100% fair to say that there were references to actual mishkav zachar.
2. You say that guys flaunt their lifestyle, talk about girls, dating, etc. Well, you must hang out with a very immodest crowd, because people in real yeshivas speak modestly. When you said your former Stern girlfriend said "I want to sleep with you," to you, I was shocked. I dated many guys, I broke up with some with whom I had serious relationships, I married a guy, and NEVER did anyone say anything that alluded to the bedroom or sex or wanting to have sex, let alone a bald statement like that. This young woman was very off the derech of the Torah - which may explain why she dated a guy for a year even though she knew or strongly suspected he was gay, and continues to invite you over on Chanukah. I am sorry you struggle with your sexuality, or have feelings of wanting to do what the Torah forbids, but there are many people who are straight who struggle with these issues too - you may claim your situation is owrse, but does a 35 year old single frum man have it easy, being a virgin in our sexually-saturated culture? Yet we don't host forums to show our support for how sad these people feel...

Anonymous said...

When I was visiting Anchorage Alaska, there was a fundraising program to build a mikvah so that the women would not have to fly all the way to Seattle every month.

Was it a "chillul hashem" for these women to have publicly discussed the fact of their enforced celibacy in months in which they are unable to make it to Seattle?

This was a public discussion about how the halacha was preventing them from having a normal sexual relationship.. and they were appealing for help from the Chabad and other communities.

They never stated that they were violating any halachot (and probably were not) but how is this different from gay people publicly talking about the pain caused by halachic restrictions?

EJB said...

kl - Even according to Rambam, who says "lo sikrivu" is a syag dioraysa, negiah is only asur "derech chiba" (this is the classical interpretation of Rambam). Personally (and I've read sources that say this, but I'm unsure which, in specific, at the time), I tend to think "derech chiba" in regards to homosexuals would include just about any contact with a homosexual partner, but would not include most contact with someone else.
Also, it is possible that since non-derech chiba negiah is probably at best a dirabanan, maybe the rabanan were not did not establish the takana in a situation that would prevent certain people from doing just about anything. So, it is very difficult to prohibit homosexuals from ALL contact (men and women). Nevertheless, it is probably assur for them to touch anyone "derech chiba."

Anonymous said...

assur/shmassur, when ur out and about,

dancing, drinking, partying,

shailos of yichud,
yes, fellatio,
no, Horatio,
who cares?
not my problem.

They don't really care.

They want recognition.

They want to be out.

Let them be.

Anonymous said...

Building a mikvah is a mitzvah everyone has to chip in for. It's a din. Kofin oto. That was the purpose of the forum, not discussions about starvation.

Gays are a vocal minority. Gay culture is shallow and vain. It is inimical to Torah values. Those who are sinning have our compassion, but promoting this lifestyle, as the rosh yeshiva said, is evil.

If the shoe fits, Cinderella, wear it.

kuch-leffel said...

EJB, so finally, you are starting to see the complexities of this issue..."lo tikrivu" ideas are qualified with subjectives. Derech Chiba, what is it, what isnt it...this is exactly where we need to be heading.

I wonder if you think that I am allowed to be alone in a room with another man...or that too is qualified by derech chiba :-)

Mordechai Levovitz said...

1. No matter how many times you repeat it, assuming that from the panelists statements alone, that they engage in anal sex, is presumptuous, insulting and wrong. The statements stand for themselves, and I am more than happy to let them. (BTW, I just met with Rabbi Schwartz from OZ today, who echoed this last statement and will be speaking about compassion to gays in his sermon tonight...everyone go!).

2. With regard to what goes on in Yeshivas. I spent my entire life in Yeshiva. I went to black hat yeshivas, the best of the best. And I can assure you that straight men never felt they had to be closeted about their heterosexual desires. There were shmoozim on it, they were encouraged to speak to Rabbeim on it. and Guys did speak to eachother about girls they were dating, or find attractive. Im sure there are some very suppressive exceptions to this, but it is not the standard within orthodoxy. Straight men do not feel pressured to be closeted. And certainly dont feel ostracized about their orientation by their community.

3. as to your comment about the plight of singles in the frum world, there are many many events, speeches, panels, projects and orgs that specifically broach the subject of the situation that singles find themselves in.

DB said...

THANK YOU CHANA! Thank you for taking a stance on the specific issue regardless of how unpopular it may be!

Anonymous said...

Mordechai. Holy Brother used to speak to the "sweetest of the sweet." You are "the best of the best."

1. Do singles talk about sex, pining after sex in yeshiva? Which yeshiva? To the best of my knowledge, only bochurim who are at the stage of going out talk about dates. Everyone deals with their hormonal urges on their own.

Outside of YU and MO High Schools, who dates in High School, first year Bais Medrash? Nobody - unless they are looking to get kicked out, and they do. All that time, gays suffer silently. So does everyone else. Anyone who talks to a Rebbi about this problem will likely be expelled. This may not be true everywhere, but in "the best of the best," they believe in tzenius.

They completely make believe the urges they know from personal experience don't exist. If they aren't perfect, they try harder. That's the Yeshiva world. If you were to create a stage (tempting, no?) to talk about masturbation, which is the truth for most males, which organization/institution affiliated with Orthodox Judaism would wish to host your public program? Everybody does it, the logic goes. So what's the big deal? Why doesn't NYU do this or Columbia?

Compassion for problems is a fair expectation. In the context of America, majority rules, no discrimination. YU represents open Orthodoxy, but your agenda wasn't just sympathy for lesbians, but we must assume, based upon your politics, that you intend to up the ante to include marriages, civil unions, weddings, full blown relationships which go to the heart of what Judaism says will destroy the "eternal Jewish family." It's easy to trip/trop.

You know from personal pain how unfair people can be. You know what it feels like to have mud thrown in your face (something like a key lime pie, shaving cream?) but you have never once owned up to the sad fact that you are pushing an agenda of frum boys and girls outing themselves.

V'asisa hayashar v'hatov. Does this imply not lying to dates, dragging them on? Maybe. Does this mean people can't otherwise say point blank, "look I'm not getting married. I don't really want to go out now. It's my life." Why do they have to tell everyone, "look, get over it. I'm gay. We're having an orgy tonight. Hope you don't mind." As the rabbi from Oz how he feels about this when it's in the apartment next door.

This is that what you are advocating: acceptance, self acceptance, capitulation. If the Orthodox Jewish establishment, the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, the Orthodox Union, the Agudas hoRabbonim, the Agudah, Mizrachi, the whole Jewish world rejects this, what do you say? Move over?

Anonymous said...

"I've gotta be me."

"Feel sorry for me."

"It's all about me."

Shmuel said...

"Outside of YU and MO High Schools, who dates in High School, first year Bais Medrash? Nobody - unless they are looking to get kicked out, and they do."

Granted, I went to the same black-hat high school Mordechai did, but this emphatically wasn't true in my experience. Regarding heterosexual yeshiva students being vocally obsessed with sex, talking about (and dating) girls, and regarding that being accepted as normal in general, while also being publicly addressed by rabbeim, Mordechai is entirely on target.

Anonymous said...

Then, let's not call it "the best of the best."

The standards are higher elsewhere.

Let's assume you are right. Let's grant that male interest in females is accepted as a given in polite society and that conversely, faggots are labeled, discriminated against and put down. Gays suffer - in silence. Objectively, what bothers them more, hearing negative comments about people just like themselves (driving them to despair, suicide, hanging themselves in the closet. If so, why are you still here?) or not being able to satisfy their lust? I suspect the latter more than the former. A forum on lust does not elicit much sympathy, though, for those who do. Take a cold shower, the world says.

But, the fundamental charge is still ignored: how does Mordechai, the founder of jqy focusing on gay youth from frum/yeshiva/Orthodox backgrounds, how does he justify being mesit umediach, encouraging others, leading, wheedling, a wolf in sheep's clothing, positing outing oneself is some sort of mitzvah (v'ahavta l'reacha kamocha?).

When straights date there's a tachlis at the end of the game. When gays out themselves to one another, what's the purpose, mutual support?

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