Thursday, July 29, 2010

Gay...Gezunteheit??

So I finally found a little time to write and, like Punxsutawney Phil, I stick my head out of my gopher-hole to see what's happening in the Jewish world. Well, the summer solstace is behind us and the shadows are indeed getting longer and I can only predict another six weeks of absolute chaos (and then comes Judgement Day!)

That's the optimistic forecast.

Even though I have been a bit quiet over the past few weeks, I have been lurking in the alleys (did anybody miss me?...didn't think so!). I sometimes had the urge to write but not the time and, perhaps, sometimes had the time to write but not the urge. Tragic plane crashes can do that sort of thing to me. (There was a time when I lived on the same block as Shalom and Simi Menora, now I live on the same block as Zevi and Kelly Klein. The dress that my 17 year old daughter wore at my older daughter's wedding last year was borrowed from Sara Klein, ZT"L.)

I had some plans to write about the conversion bill (I have a six-month extension on that now) or about the Orthoprax Rabbi ( a true oxy-Moron), but nothing materialized.

So as my blog devolves from a daily to a weekly to a monthly (moving quick toward quarterly), what is the burning issue of the day?

It is the just released Statement of Principles on the Place of Jews with a Homosexual Orientation in Our Community.

And when I say "just released" I mean it. The site that I linked to has it dated as July 28, 2010. I remember that date as if it was yesterday. There is some significance to this which I hope to get to shortly.

Now, I got wind of this proclamation just this morning as I was checking the sage wisdom of Rabbi Harry Maryles as I so regularly do.

I actually read over the statement. It contains 12 principles, just one less than Rambam! In general, the proclamation is saying that despite the Halakhic injunctions against homosexual behavior, the rules of mentschlichkeit and kavod habrios are not to be inhibited.

Now, on the face of it, this is very reasonable and the author(s) seemed to have taken much care to acknowledge that there are still "red lines" of Halakha that must be respected. It is clear that the author(s) were struggling on the NCOJ (non-chareidi Orthodox Jew) tightrope to maintain the balancing act that is forever a part of the non-Chareidi world. One goal of this was to gain the widest scope of acceptance that is attainable in the greater Orthodox world.

Rabbi Maryles affixes his own stamp of approval though, commendibly, he does voice his objections on a number of details that are a bit too liberal for even his tastes. For the record, I agree with his objections. Nevertheless, I am a bit confused about how far his objections actually go for in this post he writes:

While I agree with this statement in principle, I object to the implied imprimatur this places upon homosexual couples who adopt children. With rare exception I am opposed to promoting adoptions by parents that do not have a male and female parenting role model. A child that has two parents of the same sex is being shortchanged in my view - even if they are celibate.At best it is a B’Dieved – just like a single parent family would be. If one has no choice that is one thing. But to suggest that less than the ideal should be ‘fully embraced’ is not something I can support.


Yet a bit less than a year ago (August 21, 2009) he wrote (HERE):

Is it halachicly permissible for homosexual couples to have and raise children? Is it a good idea?The answer to both those questions is probably yes -under certain conditions.

...So the idea of homosexual couples having their own child should not really be a problem – whether by natural means or by adoption. The question then arises: How? By what process do they achieve it? In the case of male homosexuals - do they get married to a woman just for procreative purposes even while living with a male partner? What about artificial insemination? Is that an option? Adoption? I do not see a problem with any of these options halachicly.

Psychologically the marriage option might be a bad choice. But if everyone is up front about who - and what - they really are and the marriage is only for procreative purposes it may not be so bad. ...The next question is what kind of family life will the child of a gay couple have? What if ‘Heather has two daddies’?At this point I would posit that female homosexual couples might not have as great a stigma as do male homosexual couples. Nor do they have the same halachic problems. So if ‘Heather has two mommies’ it may envisage a better outcome. ...On a halachic level though - I do not believe there is any real problem. And I don’t think the major Poskim have one either.

Now, of course, the easy answer is that in the August 2009 post, he never meant that it is "L'chatchila" but just as "b'diavad" as he writes here. But the tone of that post does not suggest it. He seems a lot closer to "full embrace" than he does here.

Whatever it is that he does "fully embrace" has another dimension. He laments the fact that no notable "right wing" Rabbi or Rosh Yeshiva has signed on to the proclamation. He wants to get them "on board". In his August 2009 post, he went further to fantasize that they are already on board. And this is what I really want to discuss.

Such a thing is never going to happen.

Now, in its time (August 29, 2009), I dealt with this at length and you can find the post here:

http://achaslmaala.blogspot.com/2009/08/nothing-wrong-withas-long-as.html

And for this occasion, I do not have too much to add to the eloquent comment of one ClooJew who, lulei d'mistefina, wrote:

There are three objections, lulei demistafina, that I can see Rabbonim—including YU's 34 Roshei Yeshiva, none of whom signed this letter—having to this letter.

One, Nothing happens in a vacuum. I think that most rabbonim from all stripes of the Orthodox world would agree with the content of most of this formal declaration. That does not mean they would agree that it should be formally declared.

By underscoring "our obligation to treat human beings with same-sex attractions and orientations with dignity and respect," the signatories go beyond dignity and respect, and enter the grey zone toward legitimization. Protestations to the contrary notwithstanding, the inherent nature of a public pronouncement is to overemphasize the facts it pronounces. This is what the activist agenda of the gay community thrives on. The reason for gay pride parades is not simply to announce but to publicize and promote.

Two, communal needs must not only be balanced with, but often take precedence over individual needs. Again, nothing happens in a vacuum. Publicly announcing oneself to be gay is unlike publicly announcing oneself to be a Yankees fan; it requires a response. It is a declaration waiting to be welcomed or rejected by the community. In a community that lives by a Torah which clearly states that homosexual behavior is an "abomination" punishable by death, such a statement cannot simply be overlooked.

Furthermore, a public revelation also unmasks the intentions of the homosexual. Would a heterosexual Orthodox Jew stand up and admit he likes to watch pornography (even if he claims to control himself)? A person who views his inclinations and behavior as non-halachic and immoral would keep it between himself, his rabbi, and God.


But I do want to add one other objection that those from the One Above camp would have (it really mirrors all of Mr. ClooJew's points, especially the third). Lulei d'mistafina, I felt there was one principle missing from the Statement (the 13th principle?!) and this is that the principles only discuss the sensitivity that we "straights" should have toward those who are "suffering" from this horrible (abominable?) affliction. What the proclamation does not say is that the homosexual must also respect the fact that the traditionalist heterosexual Jews does not want to look upon homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle by any measure and, as such, whatever homosexual tendencies are in place must be played down to the highest (lowest?) degree possible. In plain English it means - keep it under wraps! I really think, lulei d'mistafina, that this is the implication of Mr. ClooJew's third point and it is essential.

This proclamation comes across to me as a one-sided contract which enumerates the obligations of one party and absolves the other party of all obligations whatsoever. There is not a single word about how the homosexual who cannot control or conceal his "orientation" is supposed to deal with the community that is likewise struggling with this anomaly. The homosexual is the victim of "crossed wires" and has carte blanche to expose himself (itself?) for his weaknesses and the community has to tiptoe around him! No mutual obligations!

And here is where I want to get back to today's date. As I read Harry Maryles' blog dated July 28 and the link to the Statement Blog (created especially for this, apparently) also dated July 28 (though perhaps updated from July 22) I sit here in Jerusalem Ir Hakodesh on July 29 and read this "Statement of Principles" on the very day that a bunch of gay and lesbian perverts have nothing better to do than to make a public Pride parade through the heart of Yerushalayim! And they have done this and continue to do this year after year after year with the full knowledge that that this is the seat of Har Habayis and the Makom HaMikdash and that most of the population here is repulsed by it.

But they don't care. They are proud to be gay!

Now, we can rationalize that these are secular folks and religious Jews that are victims of SSA are not apt to be so audacious.

But then, on this very day, I read this newly released "Statement" from an "Orthodox" think tank (approved by Emes Ve-Emunah!) which tells me, as I sit here in Yerushalayim, how accepting we need to be to our SSA brethren, yet, not a word of responsibility to them and I say to myself: They couldn't pick a better time to release this proclamation??

Timing is everything!

5 comments:

Hamasig said...

FWIW, a gay couple adopting children would be, I believe, ossur.
For them to adopt, or raise any child, they would have to live together in the same house as a family. There is an issur yichud for two men so inclined. Check the Shulchan Oruch.

Hamasig said...

Oh, and BTW, I miss you too.

Lisa said...

All homosexuals are men? Fascinating.

YechezkelsFriendInTheHouseOfSun said...

This post demonstrates the huge philosophical problem - why do bad things happen to good articles?

I happen to agree with most of what you said on the "principles," and even if I didn't agree, it was a rational and interesting approach.

But then you ruin it with a bunch of Chareidi/NCOJ baloney and a bunch of baloney about another blogger. Both of which look an awful lot like sinas chinam.

Regarding the other blogger, you might treat him like a tanna or a rishon, and assume that any stira has to be reconciled with one of the methods that the Torah is darshened with. But for those of us who know that bloggers are human beings, it's obvious that he may have changed his mind, or been in a different mood, or have had a different recent experience. And regardless of why the other blogger contradicted himself in two posts a year apart - who cares? Unfortunately sinas chinam makes you relate almost everything to your nemisis, whether his name is Bar Kamtza or not.

As for the core problem you address being an NCOJ problem, sorry to tell you, the underlying problem exists in the chareidi world as well. I know a case myself of a child in Reb Yechezkel's city of origin who went, shall we say, into an alternative lifestyle. His parents, chareidi to the core (albeit American), got a psak (I think from a certain Rosh Kollel there) and walked the fine line of disagreeing with his choices while maintaining contact with their child. They even attended (for a few minuteS) a birthday party the child (aged 20-something) threw for himself with a room full of people who share his lifestyle. The child in question is now frum, married, and a parent of children.

Even in Israel, the underlying tayva comes up in all communities. I remember years ago talking with Reb Yechezkel's own Rav YMHCR about acts of ta'ava that were happening in shuls and mens mikvas in the neighborhood. True, here in Israel we don't see people living together openly and adopting children, but the tayva exists in all communities.

Bottom line, Reb Yechezkel, your points would be better served if you'd make them and stick to them, and leave out the sinas chinam for other bloggers or so-called NCOJs.

The Rebbetzin's Husband said...

Two corrections:

1. The analogy to a heterosexual person admitting viewing pornography is inaccurate. Viewing pornography is an issur. Feeling a hirhur without doing anything to bring it on is not.

2. The document lists many obligations for the Jew who has homosexual inclinations:
a. Not to engage in homosexual relations of any type (Paragraphs 3, 4 and 11)
b. To consider the needs of the community before deciding whether to divulge their orientation (Paragraph 7)
c. Accept the halachic and meta-halachic obligations facing them as community members (Paragraph 8)
d. Fulfill all mitzvot (Paragraph 10)