Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
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Pro versus anti gay riot in Orthodox-Jewish England, part 5

Meanwhile the press reports that Rabbi meets critics in bid to defuse Sephardi [sic] row over gay love and Dweck in crisis talks with critics. The quotes in the articles show that friend and foe have had a hard time hearing what really Rabbi Dweck had said.

More reactions to the lecture by Rabbi Dweck are coming in. On the one hand, they could be late, because they needed time to get to a boiling point; or to the contrary, while everyone else was talking, they were thinking and are now hopefully ready to bring some sanity to the floor.

  • Rabbi Jeremy Rosen

On his blog, Rabbi Rosen has written: Rabbi Dweck, Judaism, and Homosexuality. It was even posted on the website of the Institute for Jewish ideas and ideals, that had never before posted anything on homosexuality. The blog post, sometimes a bit polemically but ever in good taste, sympathetically defends the words and the person of Rabbi Dweck and pleads for tolerance for diverse ideas in Orthodoxy.

  • Rabbi Haim Ovadia

Under the title Pious Hypocrisy Rabbi Ovadia briefly addresses the conflict. The most worthy and worthwhile reaction I saw so far. Calm, solid and passionately defending what is good and rejecting what is wanting.

  • Rabbi Joseph Dweck himself

After reviewing all the comments from the press and other Rabbis, now and in four earlier installments, let us now go to the source lecture that started this upheaval, a month ago.

Here is his Source Sheet by Rabbi Joseph Dweck: Male Homosexuality in Torah and here is the audio of his lecture: Rabbi Joseph Dweck – Male Homosexuality Shuir [sic] – May 2017.

I will write out my highlights and my criticisms. Quotation marks again mean: this I believe the Rabbi meant – not that this was said word by word. For the latter one needs to listen oneself.

“Our sexuality is the foundation of our identity.” That is a nice attempt to rile prudes who do not want to talk about sex, but as an overstatement it’s untrue. As an example: I think that being a Jew or Black is for most people more important than their sexuality. That must be an important reason why non-straight Jews stick around in Jewish religious circles.

“Sexuality is a life-giving force.” No, it is not. It is a way to become one flesh, to end loneliness, when applied right. Sexuality is irresistible because of otherwise being lonely, not because of a drive to reproduce. The latter idea is understandable coming from a heterosexual cis-gender man, but it’s still inaccurate – as are all the biology and psychology books that write so. To choose life is a choice, not a force.

“G-d gave the Commandments to us out of love and for our good. However, Maimonides explains that Law cannot always work out for exceptional cases.” Very sweet, but you can’t call 5-8% of all humans, 1 million Jews and half a billion people “exceptional cases!” Then he adds the disclaimer that he’s not letting this apply for homosexuals. OK.

Rabbi Dweck was criticized for talking disrespectfully about his colleagues. Here he says: “No one talks about this point from Maimonides.” He just seems to mean: this is not quoted a lot – which it isn’t.

“Historically there was no word for homosexual or gay, because there was no individuality.” I understand that the me-area is new – I was born decennia before it. However, Jews always thought in individuals. People identified things like men and women, male and female He created them. I don’t see why he says it and why it should be true, nor why it would matter one way or the other.

“Yet, sex between men was ubiquitous, ever-present. Sexual drive had to be high and with which gender was not a hang-up.” I don’t see why he says it and why it should be true, nor why it would matter one way or the other.

Rabbi Dweck has been accused by critics of using foul language. The words he used so far are: homosexual, gay, homosexuality, sexual drive and male and female seed (I thought the latter was called eggs). If this is dirty and explicit, the problem seems with his critics who are so worked up with the idea that sex is dirty that they cannot even pronounce words like sex or gay. The Jewish idea about sex however is that it is sanctified, not to be squandered, not to be normalized, and certainly not something filthy.

“Attitudes from people that spoke to me about homosexuality have nothing to do with Torah Law and everything with feelings that we have about if from social norms.” True: Jews who do not keep Shabbat, kashrut, family law, etc., when it comes to homosexuality suddenly exclaim that it’s un-Jewish. Rabbi Rapoport calls them hypocrites.

“The Torah has very little to say about homosexuality.” That is true but that is true too for not eating pig, keeping Shabbat, sexual laws and loads of other important Jewish stuff. The Sages call that: Mountains hanging by a hair (Chagigah 1:8). The intricate laws about keeping Shabbat, kashrut and guarding sexual practice are only minutely referenced in Scripture. However, I don’t see why he says it and what it matters.

“In the early days there was pederasty.” Completely unclear here that he’s only talking about non-Jewish elites. I think it’s irrelevant to the subject at hand, as would be homosexual rape. Now he warns that he’s going to use an explicit word …. semen. Fainted?

I think what some prude colleagues found disturbing must have been the excitement with which Rabbi Dweck talks about all of this. I mean, unless one has done thousands of hours of therapy on one’s sexuality, some of one’s own hang-ups will shine through. Rabbi Dweck doesn’t want to be a homophobe or shy, so comes out his excitement about sex in general. That’s not scandalous – that’s being human. His colleagues also do not sound neutral and calm at all. Each with their own excitement. Just like his opponents each seem to exaggerate, he also does. He says “everyone” when he means: most Gentiles, or the average Jew; “none of the Rabbis” when he means: hardly any Rabbi. In a lecture that may work but on tape it sounds simply wrong, while it’s only an exaggeration.

“Homosexuality in the ancient world without Jewish influence was either for lust, dominance or idol worship – not love. The Torah only forbids homosexual intercourse, but not disposition, attraction, feelings.” He means in the Leviticus verses, one of them specifying it as a capital sin. “I’m not saying that nothing else is permitted.” He tries to say that he does not mean that other homosexual acts are permitted but with the double negative actually says the opposite. However, again he explains to mean that inclination etc. are not forbidden. And he says that homosexual fondling could be forbidden too, but not by these verses. One can only misunderstand this if one wants to.

He seems to follow Rabbi Stephen Greenberg who rationalized that in the Bible homosexuality was forbidden because it was all about dominance, violence, or idol worship, and not about love. No one else thinks he’s right.

“Torah also forbids Temple prostitution, but it still happened on a grand scale, all through human history.” He seems to be right, except for among the Jews. He does not make the case that Jews may have been different herein. That seems a mistake.

“It’s rare not to be able to (imagine to) be aroused by someone of the same sex.” He says that this is shocking, but it is not. That is the exact reason why the Torah forbids it. If it was beyond most people, like eating excrements or walking in the street stark naked, the Torah does not say that it is forbidden – not because it’s not forbidden, but rather because that’s so far out that it goes without saying. Prohibited means: may feel nice but forget it.

“Sexual practice has been bisexual in most times and societies.” However, that is different from homosexual orientation. Why does he need to show that homosexual practice is not necessarily disgusting, if that is so clear? It doesn’t matter. This way he can pride himself on not being scared of it but he riles up everyone who is. Tactical mistake. And confusing, because creating space for homosexual men has nothing to do with accepting bisexuality. Rather, if bisexuality was a real option, most homosexual men should marry women and we would have no gay/halachic problem.

“The Sages were not worried about homosexuality among Jews, but if we look now, they seem to be wrong.” He should have said: times have changed and the Rabbis have stated for centuries already (Shulchan Aruch, Even ha’Ezer 24) that in lewd times this guarantee does not exist. He should have mentioned these sources.

“Jewish Law does not treat homosexual intercourse as relational as heterosexual intercourse.” Now THIS I consider a very valuable novelty! In my humble opinion one can see here that this Prohibition is shaped for heterosexual men, for whom sex with another man is normally not relational. Just like the Sages (Rabbi Akiva and Eliezer, Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 58a) hold that a man bonding (Genesis 2:24 – see also the Radak on this verse) means (Genesis 2:18) to a woman, as men do not bond with men, supposedly. When Leviticus 21:2 mentions “his close one,” Rashi explains that cannot be anyone else but his wife, based on Torat Kohanim 1:4, Babylonian Talmud, Yevamot 22b. (Compare Sanhedrin 22b – There is no greater mourning than for one’s spouse.) This does not talk about homosexual men at all.

To’evah here does not mean abomination and certainly not to G-d. This is not a moral statement, only a declaration not to do something.” He’s right, but I’m afraid that his triumphant tone put off his opponents. He could have calmly presented his arguments and have left it at that. In any case, it does not make such a giant difference how one translates it, as it is forbidden anyway. He also leaves out the few that do translate this as abomination, fueling his opponents fury and giving them ammunition. Second tactical mistake.

“The act [homosexual intercourse] is forbidden and there is no way around it but many things that we glue onto that, opinions and feelings, are not from the Torah.” Well, this sentence is misreported and misunderstood very well. So he does not mean that foreplay is OK. “We and not the Torah say how we feel about it, if we judge it natural or unnatural, or nice or not nice. It is the same as every other Torah Prohibition of the same level, and emotions about it are from society. The Torah is silent about it.” No, it is not. It calls it angering G-d. “The Talmud is largely silent about it.” Well, it writes against homosexual intercourse all the time. “Slandering Jews is much worse.” But also about that the Torah is fairly silent. Bad argument. What does he accomplish by making it sound less bad? It is forbidden anyway. Third tactical mistake.

“And according to Rabbi Rapoport’s book sexual orientation is not mentioned anywhere in Jewish sources. So there is no Rabbinic talk about if a person can choose a sexual orientation.” Now this is total nonsense, sorry to say. The whole issue of sexual orientation is that one doesn’t choose it. One can choose what to do with it, or not, and how to feel about it, but there is not choosing or changing sexual orientation! First real mistake, after 45 minutes into the lecture. But not a mistake about Judaism but rather about no seeing the essence of sexual orientation.

“In the absence of any contrary teachings it is responsible to believe that a faithful Jew has no cause to reject the current appreciation of an exclusive homosexual orientation.” He reads this sentence fast without preparing his audience for it. His critics have so missed it. What the hell could he mean? It seems to say: Judaism can like homosexuals because there is nothing that says not to. That is total nonsense, with all due respect. One can’t say: Judaism never discussed flying a plane on Shabbat so enjoy it. Homosexual orientation is new and needs the Rabbis to think about it. Jewish mistake.

“Or do you want to dislike other sinners too?” Mistake. He compares orientation with sinning. Orientation cannot be a sin, gender cannot be a sin, skin color cannot be a sin. (His critics who say that homosexuality is the worst sin missed that he was not talking about the act but about the orientation.)

“Every Jew is sinning in the sexual sphere.” That is an overstatement. He should never again say “everyone” or “no one,” and learn to say: most, and when he wants to say most: many, and when he wants to say many: several.

“Besides homosexual intercourse, everything else in homosexuality is just as forbidden as in any other sexuality.” That is not true. A mixed-sex couple can have sex anyway they want; a same-sex couple cannot have sex in any way they would want. True, in masturbation, pornography, rape and constitutional rape, there the intended sex does not make a difference for Jewish Law, but that does not count for foreplay. Big Jewish mistake.

“We all are big sinners so should withhold opinions on homosexuals.” Overstatement makes him miss his target, to advocate humbleness.

“The last third of this lecture, I want to speak about that things changed. For the majority of human history people did not marry for love. Most people still don’t know how to make love beyond sex. Torah is the only legal code that demands for three thousand years that a husband loves his wife – emotional satisfaction of her terms, being there for her, listen, cuddle, sex – whatever she chooses.” Talking about heterosexuality, he finally calms down. He started to speak softly, slowly.

“The Jewish idea of sex is that it should go together with love and celebrate the possibility to create new life in such a setting. Too bad for homosexuals. Men don’t know how to love each other. Most people think that such love must imply sex. Not so.” Heterosexism at its best.

“Infatuation is love for getting something; pure love is not dependent on anything. This can be between men but we are too scared for that because we then think that that would pave the way for sex. Seeing the beauty in another man scares us, because evolution made us sex machines.” He now lumps together pure love and physical attraction. And he exaggerates, because most men do see some beauty in their best male friends. And there are half a million Jewish men who have no trouble loving men, and a quarter of a billion Gentile men. But he’s talking withdrawn into heterosexual isolation, saying no one dares.

“So could two men love each other? Not for sex but for relationship. Need for a new word, like gay. And let’s forget about scrutinizing if it is also sexual – we all are sexual sinners!” After 20 minutes of talking, the Rabbi is back at screaming.

“The Prophets only talk about us needing to improve our relationships, love: for G-d, for people. That’s what is the most important to improve.” Already before the Prophets, the essence of Judaism was defined as loving one’s fellow and G-d, and not doing to someone else as one doesn’t want others to do to oneself.

“Homosexuals have reduced the taboo on men loving men and made it more normal.” All I see is that most 5-year old boys never had trouble loving each other and walking around with their arms around each other. That is not because of Gay Lib. Homosexual men learn to dare to express their love for other men, but I don’t see that heterosexual men are now inspired to do the same.

“Homosexuals bring out love between men, and so enlarge the amount of love in the world. And that is good for the whole world. Even though the sex is a problem for Jewish Law. Most fathers are too cold to their sons. Men need to learn to love men. When we stop condemning gays, we can better profit from the new idea of the importance of love. We are all love-starved. Homosexuality finally does not need to be domination or pederasty – it can be for love. The world is moving to greater love. Those who just stick with frowning upon the sex part will miss being up-front on this development.” [Tape abruptly stops there.] It is not uncommon for people who try to be an ally to oppressed groups, at first, play the victim themselves. Oppressors (whites, men, grownups, etc.) have terrible lives in comparison to the oppressed, but are not oppressed as such. This is how much each oppressor’s role robs the oppressor of part of a humane life.

I don’t see that heterosexual men need to love men better; and those who want that, would have such a hard time doing so. Let them love their wives – that will help them understand love between men too. And they might need the help of gays and lesbians to improve their marriages. With such high divorce and incest rates, that should be the first priority.

His attitude to homosexual men is: we’re all sinners, so you should not be singled out. That’s no new approach. Is that the best he can do, really? Secular people sound more moral, and that is a big problem for Judaism.

After the storm, he issued the following Clarifications of Shiur on Male Homosexuality Given by Rabbi Joseph Dweck

“Misconception 1 – ‘Only the act is prohibited’.

This is not what I said, but I should have been clearer. The reason I stressed the act itself was because there is a great halakhic difference between the act itself and the peripheral acts — what are called abizrayhu in the Talmud. While I did indicate during the shiur that abizrayhu were prohibited (as indicated in source 14), I perhaps did not express it clearly enough. The peripheral sexual behaviours are prohibited in Jewish law. However, on a legal basis, they are not equal to the Torah’s prohibition of male homosexual intercourse. It is rather a separate, blanket prohibition which applies to all illicit unions. This is the meaning of the Hizkuni that I quoted and included in source 8. Thus there is no difference legally between a homosexual male who transgresses the abizrayhu and a heterosexual male who transgresses them with a woman — it is the same transgression.”

This last point is not true. Heterosexual sex acts besides the standard intercourse, including kissing are fine; homosexual sex acts besides the standard intercourse, including kissing are forbidden.

“Misconception 2 – The definition and meaning of the word to’eva.

The definition of the word To’eva in the verse is generally translated in English as ‘abomination’ (usually understood to mean repulsive). This is the classic definition used by the Rishonim. However, even this applies only to the act and not the person. It has been the source of much of the prejudice surrounding and filling people’s thinking (both religious and secular) on the issue. The Hakhamim did, however, present more nuanced meaning to the word.

The Targum Yonatan translates it into the Aramaic as מרחקא  which literally means ‘distance’ and although it is used as ‘abomination’ in the Aramaic, the root clearly exposes that it is more in the sense of rejection rather than disgust. It is something that is to be kept away, as in ta’ev teta’avenu ki herem hu – ‘Reject it for it is proscribed’ (Deut., 7:26).

Radak and Ibn Janah include the word שנאה  as a definition of the word which clearly means that it is something rejected/not loved (not necessarily hated as in the modern usage – as is clear from Gen. 29:31; Deut. 21:15-17). The Torah is telling us how we should treat the transgression rather than how we should feel about it. There is a great difference between saying that something is disgusting and that something is to be rejected or ‘kept away’. The former carries with it a great deal of subjective emotional loathing which causes great challenge to our ability to find compassion, while the latter creates firm boundaries and sets societal structures while still allowing empathy. Even if the word is to be translated simply as abomination, the Torah is not commanding us to feel something but rather that it defines the nature of the act within humanity existentially.

In the Talmud (Nedarim, source 17) Bar Kappara asks R Yehuda haNasi what the word in the verse means. I indicated that this clearly is not a question regarding the literal definition of the word. Every detail of the story indicates otherwise, not to mention what we know about R Yehuda HaNasi’s specific expertise in the Hebrew language[1]. Bar Kappara was looking to expound on the nuanced meaning of the word. In other words, how are we to understand it within the context of Torah. Bar Kappara explains saying that the word to’eva is to be understood as saying to’eh ata bah meaning ‘you go astray through it’ or with it. That is to say that with this act one is straying from the normative behaviours of the general population. Furthermore, while this Talmudic interpretation is clearly not the literal meaning it is nonetheless a valuable meaning that is to be taken into account.”

Now he gives the overdue differences of opinion in earlier sources. He seems unaware of later Rabbis who see to’evah not as disgusting, like: Rabbis Benjamin Hecht, Shmuley Boteach, and Yuval Sherlo.

His translation “you go astray through it or with it” does not need to be a social principle of going outside the norm. It easily could be a psychological reference, that this will make you leave what would make you happy – intimacy with a woman. Normalcy is not a Jewish goal.

“Misconception 3 – I said that ‘Jonathan and David were homosexual’.

I clearly said that their relationship was NOT sexual. That the word נפלאת indicates that it was beyond any sexual trappings and purely a spiritual bond. I gave no indication of anything otherwise. When I spoke of the covenant that they made between them I did say figuratively that ‘they got married’. That was certainly not literal. They most certainly did NOT get married. They did, however, quite clearly enter into a serious covenant of love. There was never any homosexual behaviour between them. Unfortunately, as I said in the shiur people have terrible difficulty in differentiating between sex and love.”

This the Rabbi said very clearly and should need no clarification.

“Misconception 4 – I said thatחז״ל are wrong’ (ח״ו!!)

I most certainly did not. I should have been more careful in explaining; I was not saying that the assertion the Hachamim made in the Talmud regarding a male teacher teaching a younger male student was wrong, ח״ו. I was suggesting that it is no longer relegated to the fringes of Orthodox Jewish society as it once was due to the developments of Western culture.”

Well, he said literally that the Sages were wrong, but I guess from this answer that that was a slip of the tongue or that he wanted to say that it would be wrong to say that homosexuality does not happen between Jews just because the Sages said so. For me it’s good enough to read that he did not intend to say this. However, earlier Rabbis dealt with this () and if he had known the literature, he would not have needed to bring this as a novelty on the Sages’ words.

“Misconception 5 – My goal was to encourage Homosexuality in Orthodoxy.

Simply untrue. The only goal of the shiur was to present a genuine Torah perspective on the issue as I understood it.”

Why doesn’t he write that he actually said all the time that he wants to promote love between men but holds that sex between men is forbidden?

“Misconception 6 – I said that Homosexuality is ‘fantastic’.

I did not. The final thoughts were by far the most misunderstood and received the greatest backlash and even anger. Clips of 2 minutes of the last 25 were cut and sent around the world. I can be heard saying: ‘I am going to go out on a limb…and I could be completely wrong and very badly ridiculed – I genuinely believe that the entire revolution of…homosexuality…I don’t think it is stable and well…but I think the revolution is a fantastic development for humanity. Sure, there are many things that aren’t good and that we’re not happy with…but [homosexuality in society] has forced us to look at how we deal with love.’ I did not say that homosexual acts were fantastic. I said that the development in society had residual benefits much in the same way that Islam and Christianity did as the Rambam[2] pointed out. These residual effects in my opinion are that it has helped society be more open to the expression of love between men. I was not asserting law, nor for that matter, demanding a particular way of thought. I was simply presenting a personal observation. Admittedly, ‘fantastic’ was an exaggerated word.”

He stands corrected on the exaggeration and points out what he actually said. I think that those who got upset got triggered by his heated exited tone, rather than by his words.

“Further Criticism: Information missing from the lecture – Some claimed that I left out important sources. Specifically the responsa of Rav Moshe Feinstein זצ״ל (Orah Hayim IV:115; Yoreh De’ah III:115). I had chosen not to include it because Rav Moshe z”l’s entire approach is based on the idea that there is no natural desire for the act in human beings and, therefore, the transgression can only be deemed a rebellious act.  However, being that it is an opinion of a great Gadol and based on his understanding of Talmudic sources I was remiss in not including it as part of a Torah perspective. It should have been included in the shiur as a Torah opinion.”

To include only that source would be a mistake. Rabbi Moshe Feinstein was Ashkenazic Orthodoxy’s leading expert in Jewish Law for decades. This reference is an answer to a letter he received from a young Orthodox Jew who felt hopeless about his homosexual urges. He encourages him to stay away from this sin and tries to strengthen him to refrain from acting upon his “urges” by suggesting that because “homosexuality makes no sense and is completely disgusting [sic],” it could never stem from temptation and must only originate from a lust to upset G-d, to rebel against Him.” Because of Reb Moshe’s stature, this letter is often quoted shamelessly selectively and out of context, as if he gave a general ruling about homosexuality or had studied it.

What is more, the letter was from 1958!, published decades later in 1976. However, later (Igrot Moshe, published 1981, on Even Ha’ezer, 1978, quoted in the book by Rabbi Chaim Rapoport) Reb Moshe acknowledges that one’s evil inclination may overpower one to engage in homosexuality, and that there are men that enjoy homosexuality more than heterosexuality. He got to know homosexuals.

“In conclusion, I regret that some people have found reason in this shiur to invalidate my faithfulness to Torah, mitsvot and my commitment to teaching and encouraging living by our Torah. My entire 24 year career of teaching Torah and educating has been reduced by a few to the head of a pin and a 2 minute audio clip. Torah is my life and my only desire is to show the beauty of Torah to Yisrael and to encourage living our lives by and through its beautiful vision. I will, with the help of the Holy One, humbly continue to dedicate my life to that purpose as I have until this day.”

My critical summary:

1. He was much too excited to talk about this. He should have waited until he could talk about this with calmness. His macho heated posturing was asking for macho heated reactions – which he got.

2. He thought a lot about this but should also have read all the sources instead of trying to reinvent the wheel. This is not to say that he was lazy or unknowledgeable, Heaven forbid. This subject is vast and confusing with lots of differences of opinion – while he tried to present one line of thought. The halachic literature about homosexuality is sketchy and often dominated by one viewpoint only. Instead of bragging that he was way ahead of his audience, he should have admitted that he’s only a beginner in thinking about this.

3. A daring novelty (we are all starved for love) goes over better when preceded by a proper presentation on what Torah, Sages, Commentators and Rabbis said before. However, it seems that homosexuals gained nothing form this novelty, sorry to say. The Rabbis need to be challenged to start thinking about homosexual orientation. This whole lecture was centered around needs of heterosexual men – for love.

4. He did not distinguish between the Nations of the world and the Jews, as if among us homosexuality also always was rampant. He should know better. He also should have contrasted that in the olden days, the world never married for love but that the Torah already for 3000 years teaches that love must be at the center of the couple. Not properly contrasting these two things was his main Jewish mistake.

5. He placed unnecessary emphasis on the translation of to’evah. Who cares? It is forbidden, and not because it is disgusting, as the Sages teach. Trying to make the sin of homosexual intercourse look less bad or less important backfires and is unnecessary for his plea for more love.

6. He mistakenly said that sexual orientation is a matter of choice. In what he said he regularly confused orientation with the act. I’m sure he knows better but he should watch his every word when he talks about this. He should shy away from say “everyone” and “no one.” He means many people and hardly anyone, and should say so.

7. We have no permission to like homosexual orientation just because the Sages never said anything bad about that, because it was supposedly not around. They also never said anything about guillotines. Judaism likes love enough to value homosexuals for their love. No need to talk about sex or sexual orientation there. Orientation, skin color and gender are part of creation like gravity, and we should accepted reality, without need to liking it.

8. There was no need to bring non-Jewish sources. They may have made things clearer for him but quoting them, needlessly annoys chareidi colleagues.

9. He hardly made real mistakes, most of them tactical and in tone, with some slips of the tongue. His four most vocal Rabbinic opponents on the Internet were grappling to pinpoint reasons for their upsets, twisting and turning things to put them in a bad light. They, rather than teach, committed character assassinations for no good reason.

Let’s hope that this riot goes the way of the revolt against Rabbi Sacks, who had to mend some words, and not against Rabbi Louis Jacobs, who was ousted.

Rabbi Dweck could further his objective of more love for heterosexuals, by inviting homosexual Orthodox Jewish men and women to teach heterosexual Orthodox Jewish men and women what platonic love means, instead of ignoring, suppressing or idolizing homosexual Orthodox Jewish men and women. I’m sure that would cut down divorce rates. And fear of homosexuals. And the Rabbis must stop treating homosexuals as heterosexuals with a defect. Women are not men with a defect, so why could homosexuals not also be seen as distinct as they really are?

In Israel, 45-75% of Israeli Jews who live religious or close-to-religious lifestyles are for gay marriage. That shows how far the Diaspora and the Rabbis are lagging behind. If the common Jews are not Prophets, they’re offspring of Prophets (Babylonian Talmud, Pesachim 66a). It might be high time for the Rabbis to consult their wives and the public to really understand the issues at hand.

About the Author
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, an almost daily blog contributor to the Times of Israel, and previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. He often makes his readers laugh, mad, or assume he's nuts—close to perfect blogging. He's proud that his analytical short comments are removed both from left-wing and right-wing news sites. * As a frontier thinker, he sees things many don't yet. He's half a prophet. Half. Let's not exaggerate. He doesn't believe that people observe and think in a vacuum. He, therefore, wanted a broad bio that readers interested can track a bit about what (lack of) backgrounds, experiences, and education contribute to his visions. * If you don't know the Dutch, get an American peek behind the scenes here: * To find less-recent posts on subject XXX among his over 1600 archived ones, go to the right-top corner of a Times of Israel page, click on the search icon and search "zuiden, XXX". One can find a second, wilder blog, to which one may subscribe, here: * Like most of his readers, he believes in being friendly, respectful, and loyal. Yet, if you think those are his absolute top priorities, you might end up disappointed. His first loyalty is to the truth. He will try to stay within the limits of democratic and Jewish law, but he won't lie to support opinions or people who don't deserve that. He admits that he sometimes exaggerates to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quite a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * Sometimes he's misunderstood because his wide and diverse field of vision seldomly fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what some love about him. He has written a lot about Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (including basic statistics), Politics (Israel, the US, and the Netherlands, Activism), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, LGBTQIA+, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust, and Jewish Liberation), the Climate Crisis, Ecology and Veganism, Affairs from the news, or the Torah Portion of the Week, or new insights that suddenly befell him. * His most influential teachers (chronologically) are his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach, and, lehavdil bein chayim lechayim, Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff, and Rav Meir Lubin. * One of his rabbis calls him Mr. Innovation [Ish haChidushim]. Yet, his originalities seem to root deeply in traditional Judaism, though they may grow in unexpected directions. In fact, he claims he's modernizing nothing. Rather, mainly basing himself on the basic Hebrew Torah text, he tries to rediscover classical Jewish thought almost lost in thousands of years of stifling Gentile domination and Jewish assimilation. (He pleads for a close reading of the Torah instead of going by rough assumptions of what it would probably mean and before fleeing to Commentaries.) This, in all aspects of life, but prominently in the areas of Free Will, Activism, Homosexuality for men, and Redemption. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, and disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed. He aims to bring a fresh perspective rather than harp on the obvious and familiar. He loves to write encyclopedic overviews. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds should be disputed. In short, his main political positions are among others: anti-Trumpism, anti-elitism, anti-bigotry and supremacy, for Zionism, Intersectionality, and non-violence, anti those who abuse democratic liberties, anti the fake ME peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, pro-Science, pro-Free Will, anti-blaming-the-victim, and for down-to-earth, classical optimism, and happiness. * He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (, born in 1953 to parents who were Dutch-Jewish Holocaust survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork. He grew up a humble listener. It took him decades to become a speaker too. Bullies and con artists almost instantaneously envy and hate him. * He holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam) – is half a doctor. He practices Re-evaluation Co-counseling since 1977, is not an official teacher anymore, and became a friendly, empowering therapist. He became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids non-violently. For a couple of years, he was active in hasbara to the Dutch-speaking public. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's being a strict vegan since 2008. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. He lives with his library in Jerusalem. Feel free to contact him. * His writing has been made possible by a (second-generation) Holocaust survivors' allowance from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. If you're a native English speaker and wonder why you should read from people whose English is only their second language, consider the advantage of having an original peek outside of your cultural bubble. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me. * His newest books you may find here:
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