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This is a continuation of the letters to In Jerusalem on Orthodox Gays. Use the arrow buttons to navigate through the letters.

The following letters were obtained by GayJews.Org from the authors but were not published in In Jerusalem:

In a letter concerning the raging debate about Orthodox gays and lesbians, an anonymous haredi rabbi said, "... homosexuality is strictly forbidden in Jewish Law (see Leviticus 18:22, 19:28 and 20:13, *and Deuteronomy 22:5*)." [emphasis mine]

This is a rabbi who, in the course of quoting Torah, displays his utter ignorance of the subject. Just where does it say anything about homosexuality in Deut. 22:5? The posuk says "lo yihyeh kli gever al isha, velo yilbash gever simlat isha, ki toavat Hashem elokecha kol osei eleh" -- there will not be a man's implement upon a woman, nor will a man put on a woman's garment, because an 'abomination' unto Hashem your G-d are all who do these. Rashi explains that this prohibition is to prevent a member of one sex from disguising himself as a member of the opposite sex in order to sneak into areas usually reserved for the opposite sex. Under those circumstances, perhaps an immoral act may take place. There are other rabbinical explanations that explain that crossdressing was once part of ancient Syrian idol worship practices.

However, nowhere in this verse is there any mention of sexual relations, gay or straight. As anyone who has bothered to study the subject knows, crossdressing and homosexuality are not the same; and they are *not* related. The majority of crossdressers are heterosexual males, and the majority of homosexual males are not crossdressers. Before pontificating on a subject the rabbi obviously knows so little about, perhaps a bit of research would be in order. I remind the rabbi of another saying from Pirkei Avot concerning not judging your neighbor until you have reached his place.

The rabbi further exhibits his ignorance by including lesbianism as part of the prohibitions he quotes. A simple reading of any of the pertinent verses makes it quite clear that the prohibition is against *male* homosexuality exclusively. The only place in the entire Torah or Talmud where there is anything that implies lesbian behavior is a description of "maaseh eretz mitzrayim" by the Rambam, but even there only one particular act is described, and only in vague terms. Lesbianism is neither condemned nor condoned; this is in keeping with the fact that all the responsibility for the commandment to be fruitful and multiply falls squarely on the *man's* shoulders.

Shabbat shalom,

Ruth

Ocean Grove, New Jersey, USA

 

Up until now I have kept out of the debate about the possible existence of frum gays and lesbians that has been waged in the letters pages of the In Jerusalem. I am unable to hold my tongue any longer. The second letter from Chaya Rochel Schwartz (in which she extensively quotes an unnamed rabbi) and the letter in the last issue from Rabbi (Chareidei) Ben David have pushed me to my personal limit.

First of all I am loathe to believe that these two unidentified “rabbis” deserve the honorific because neither of them has brought forth a single source. My own personal posek {Rabbi Meir Fund of the Flatbush Minyan in NY} has stated unequivocally that only when a rav brings a source is he to be listened to. Since frumkeit is not based on the mere opinions and ramblings of a few people but a mesorah let’s actually stop name calling and look at that tradition. Since In Jerusalem is not the place for a Torah shiur this will by necessity be brief and incomplete. By the way, I am not a learned scholar and while everything I have written I stand behind no one should take this to be a psak.

The word toveh appears in the Torah 117 times. One of the things referred to as toveh is sleeping with a woman in niddah, now we all know people who call themselves Orthodox, attend Orthodox synagogues and do not publicly ridicule their son for fooling around with his girlfriend. (Women who are single are not allowed to go to the mikveh making all single women niddot). Not to mention I cannot remember the last time I heard of a father declaring his son to be dead for sleeping with an unmarried teenage girl.

According to Devarim 14:3 the eating of traif is toveh how many of us have davened in shuls in the United States where Orthodox people keep kosher only in their homes? I know that one of the Orthodox day schools I used to teach at had to threaten students with expulsion to get them to stop eating dairy in traif restaurants. This was such a common practice that it appeared in the student handbook. Would Rabbi Chareidei or Chaya Rochel Schwartz publicly state that such people are the equivalent of “vegetarian cannibals and Orthodox nudists Shabbos services.”

The last example I will bring (although this list could go on for several pages) is Mishleh (Proverbs) 21:17 which states that davening without kavannah is toveh.

So let us put a little perspective into this discussion: people like Chaya Rochel Schwartz, her rabbi and Rabbi Chareidei do not treat gays and lesbians the same way that they treat other people who actions are toveh. That is number one, but number two the only thing according to Rashi that is actually toveh is ONE physical sex act. No where in the vast literature of our people is the state of being gay called a toveh -- only one action is. An action that not all gay men perform and is impossible for two women to perform. Third of all as regards lesbians, RAMBAM states that an active lesbian who is still a virgin or is a widow can marry the Kohen Gadol. Now, I find it hard to believe that if lesbians were on a par with Orthodox car thieves that HaShem would let them marry His high priest.

So get a life Chaya Rochel and Rabbi Chareidei realize that judgment is for HaShem alone. Your job on this earth is to answer for your actions not mine. To paraphrase Reb Zushia when I get to Olam HaBa HaShem is not going to ask why I was not Chaya Rochel but why I was not me!

As a final note I want to thank the editor of the In Jerusalem section Ruthie Blum for allowing this debate to continue. Not many editors would allow this to go on this long and she should be commended for her insight that this is an issue that matters to a large portion of her readership.

Buria Rachel Hacham

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