Here’s an email exchange I got after sending my Yom Kippur piece to him.
I will copy the Rabbi’s responses verbalizing the traditional stance in italics.
You could object that this is not a fair argument because he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. I will answer you that that’s the whole point, to show that there is more animosity than reason there. And to show that no one needs to fear what the rabbis think. Generally, they are nice people, especially for women and children, and about gay men, they have no idea.
Sorry, I don’t understand what you are saying? Are you saying that Homosexuality is permitted according to our Torah?
That’s not what I wrote.
The Torah tells us that Sexual relations between men are forbidden. Why do you single out the orthodox RABBIS for reading what it says in the Torah and explaining it?
The Orthodox RABBIS are the specialists. They should teach us what it says. IMHO it cannot mean something nonsensical. If a “translation” is nonsense, it means you didn’t get it. To say that 10% of all Jews should not have any sex that fits them doesn’t fit Judaism. We’re not Christians.
Look again at Leviticus 18:22: One (meant is: a man) should not have a woman’s lying (euphemism for intercourse) with a man.
Why is not another of the many euphemisms used?
Why is this the only sexual ban that makes no sense?
Why are women mentioned at all? Not for clarification. The next verse doesn’t say a human should not lie with animals a human’s/animal’s lying.
Because the Auth^r of the Text, of course, knew that in the future we would live longer and sexual bonding (becoming one flesh) would become more important. Homosexual men cannot bond with a woman (that is my definition). They would die from loneliness. So that’s why the text says: [Any man,] don’t have intercourse with a man instead of with a woman, addressing heterosexual men only. We know that replacement sex is very addictive, as we find in the Talmud already: He will go astray, meaning leave his wife and kids. This only addresses heterosexual men who not only don’t need sex with other men but for whom it’s a psychological disaster. Non-Orthodox Jews would be unhappy with the authors knowing this thousands of years ahead of modernity, but we Orthodox Jews can be pleased that, for the umpteenth time, the Torah knew all along.
The Torah tells ALL JEWS to keep the Shabbos. Even in modern times when we can light a fire with almost no effort whatsoever, ALL JEWS are forbidden to light a fire. Even though there is such a large percentage of JEWS throughout the modern world who are addicted to smoking cigarettes ALL JEWS are forbidden to light a fire.
Therefore, just because there are (according to your knowledge) 10% of JEWISH people in today’s modern world IT IS STILL FORBIDDEN FOR TWO JEWISH MEN TO HAVE SEXUAL RELATIONS!
The last sentence you made up yourself. It doesn’t say that anywhere besides by modern rabbis. Maimonides even says that homosexuality is a goyishe [non-Jewish] disease. Our Poskim [Codifiers] after him have stipulated that in lewd times, even Jews commit homosexual intercourse. This all only talks about heterosexual men. Not about women, not about lesbians (who can have intercourse with men despite that it says ‘you’ shouldn’t, because the verses were always interpreted to address men only), and not about gay men. (Lewd times don’t produce gay men. They produce lewd straight men.)
When sexuality got rampant when anti-conception separated sex and pregnancy, and hippies proclaimed make love, not war, then also the Gay movement came to the fore. No wonder the Rabbis assumed: this is about lewd times again. However, these were, by and large, not promiscuous heterosexual men but Trans and Gay activist demanding their place under the sun too.
It’s time to admit this recent mistake and acknowledge reality. It cannot be that more than one million Jewish men should have no sex life. There never was such a thing in Judaism. Only Moses, at the age of 80+, was supposed to go celibate. You don’t want to say that present-day gay men are on his level. This is completely against the Jewish Tradition and reality. As Rav Kook (and others) say clearly: when you come to a faulty conclusion, you must have made a mistake.
I totally disagree with you.
That’s the Jewish way. Disagreement.
But you won’t be surprised that I’ve heard that a lot. I wrote a big book about this and only got one kosher haskommo. Most rabbis don’t just disagree; sadly, they’re even too scared to talk about it. I hope to publish it in the coming months.
But what I am interested in are arguments. Sentiments and opinions are fine, but reasoning is what does it for me. “I totally disagree with you” holds very little reasoning. I respect it as your opinion, but in Judaism, like lehavdil [mutatis mutandis] in science, in the end, arguments from authority are less than from solid reasoning.
I’ll go even further. The ban on all sexuality for gay men is so irrational and in violation of Judaism on dozens of points that I put the burden of proof on those who claim that they are right about that.
Funny as it may sound, you could be wrong.
!!!!! וכן למר[But you too.]
That’s not a chiddush [holy novelty] to me. But I have reasons as I laid them out. If there is a mistake in the reasoning, I’d be happy to learn it.
Do you have arguments? Or just a wish to win the discussion and peace?
No answer is an answer too.
So, you’ll leave it at that?
Then, what rest me is to give you homework.
Please say the coming days something nice about LGBTQ+ people to your close ones. Two suggestions: “Social scientists have found that homosexual men and women have more empathy than heterosexual people. What do you say about that?” And: “It seems that homosexuals are often more deeply religious and more spiritual than heterosexuals of the same family. We should learn from these people.” Then watch if some of them come out to you. If so, listen a lot. You get first-hand information that will help you more than any pondering.
Here: Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden’s Blog you should find later today my next blog post about the mitzwah of being happy.
Gut Shabbos, Gut Yom Tov.
I will not change my way of understanding the TORAH just because you or someone else thinks it’s not “nice” to accept the people who blatantly and publicly disregard an ISSUR MIDIORAISA [issur mi-d’Oraita, a Biblical sin]!
I can and will, bli neder [G^d-willing], daven [pray] for them that they will be zoiche [deserving] to do Teshuva [repent]! If someone has an issue with their YETZER HARA [Evil Inclination] they should be ashamed of what they are doing, (yilbash shchorim) and try to do Teshuva!
Just because there are so many “sinners” out there this will not automatically force me to say they are doing the right thing!!
Part of the problem between us seems to be that you read things from me that I never wrote or thought even, like:
– I don’t want you to change your “way of understanding the TORAH just because you or someone else thinks it’s not “nice”.”
– I never wrote it’s not “nice” to [not] accept the people who blatantly and publicly disregard an ISSUR MIDIORAISA”
You seem very angry at THOSE sinners. The Sages tell us that anger is Avodah Zara [idol worship], one of the worst sins. It can happen in a verbal discussion because we are all human, but in a written response, it becomes something graver, I think.
You seem to know that THOSE sinners are homosexual men while I write to you, the sinners are the heterosexual men (and their partners) who commit homosexuality instead of looking for a woman. You don’t relate to that. You keep harping on your “But THOSE are terrible sinners.”
We don’t do others a favor by praying for THEIR repentance. Rather, we pray for “us” to repent. We said on Yom Kippur when regretting our sins: “And we have not benefited from them [in the longer run].” Heterosexual men, in the end, can’t benefit from replacement homosexuality. Homosexual men can and generally will flourish from a solid, enduring sexual relationship. Their love, dedication, and closeness are often exemplary to the whole community!
Not all sex is the wicked yetzer hara. We’re not Christian. A proper sexual relationship is an excellent and necessary thing to strive for. Also for gay men. So, what kind of sexual relationship do you advocate for gay men?
One million gay Jewish men and hundreds of millions of homosexual Gentile men, what should they do with their sexuality? These numbers make it impossible to say that they are exceptions the Torah doesn’t deal with. Naming their unalterable need for a sexual relationship a sin makes a mockery of G^d. What’s your advice to them? Telling homosexual men that they should never be sexual is like that old Japanese tradition of binding the feet of girls so that as women, they couldn’t walk anymore.
I never wrote the problem is that your position is not “nice.” (Although it is a character flaw not to be nice, not to receive all with a smile. You too are Biblically obligated to love the 1M gay Jews. So far, you haven’t talked love, that I could tell.) But not being ‘nice’ is not the issue. The issue is you don’t talk constructively. What are these men supposed to do for their sexual life? When your son or grandson asks you, you just tell him to go to Hell, become a monk, or ‘repent’? What does such repentance look like?
Seriously. What will you say? G^d made a mistake? Some 200,000,000 irreparable mistakes in one generation? G^d forbid! It’s easy to blame homosexuals or G^d for making you uncomfortable, but they did nothing to deserve your anger. We Jews face reality instead of fighting it.
I sense that you flee to anger because you feel cornered because you have no answer. My answer may be wrong, but I claim that it’s the only answer, so far, that makes any sense. If it’s the best option, and you have nothing, you can’t just trash it because you find it not “nice.” Be constructive.
I want you to stay very combative against the sin of replacement homosexuality for heterosexual men—that’s constructive. To just trash homosexual men or G^d for their G^d-given sexual needs is not constructive. It is abusive, a chilul haSheim (our worst sin), and es passt nicht—it is unbecoming of you. You can do better. You must.
I am saying that a sin is a sin and there is no reason whatsoever to flaunt it publicly.
Yes, like a mantra. But where is the ability to hear what someone else is saying when you disagree? Do you just ignore anything that others may say that differs from what you think? That’s a great way to always be right. Do you also expect the people you talk to (family, friends, students) not to be influenced by whatever you say? Then, why talk to others?
And there is nothing wrong with a good sense of humor.
At this point, my correspondent stopped reacting.
From the beginning, when he started arguing with me, I saw that he knew almost nothing about the subject, and I knew a zillion times more. So why did I engage in this anyway? First, I wanted to show that homosexuals should not be intimidated by learned rabbis about this. You don’t ask them about Jewish Law concerning this subject because they have no clue and (crucial!) no desire to inform themselves. Second, I could not exclude that he would pick up something from what I wrote. He’s not an enemy—he’s my fellow Jew. Third, when I argue, I always end up understanding it better myself. Fourth, it’s like playing chess against a very smart person who is not very well-versed in the theory. It can be very educational.
In the meantime, it’s war again. Antisemites have murdered hundreds, wounded over a thousand, and taken dozens of Israelis hostage. Where did they get the spiritual power to inflict so much evil? The rabbis teach us (without blaming the victim) that, as long as Jews hate Jews, Jew-haters can harm us. The war will again awaken and strengthen unity in Israel. But not for Gay men. They will stay pariahs to those who should know better.