Levelling Brokeback Mountain [Parental Discretion Advised!]

If Donald Rumsfeld were frum, he would likely have said that life without “Brokeback Mountain” is like deer hunting without an accordion. Most of our readers will have no more problem avoiding the film than sitting out the International Tiddlywinks Competition. In a blog that seldom bothers to comment on the world of entertainment, avoiding “Brokeback” would seem to be both appropriate and easy.

It was, until Don Savage did his op-ed piece in the New York Times. One line of that essay, and one line alone, cries out for a response.

I didn’t see the movie. Then again, neither did long-time gay activist Savage. Brokeback, he tells us, is a realistic wake-up call to all of those homophobes who would have gay men try to go straight. It just doesn’t work, he says. Look what happened to Jack and Ennis when they to their own selves were not true:

They marry women, start families. But their wives are crushed when they realize their husbands don’t, and can’t, ever really love them. “Brokeback Mountain” makes clear that it would have been better for all concerned if Jack and Ennis had lived in a world where they could simply be together.

Millions of us, Don, know what you don’t. Love and lust are not the same. You can be intimate with someone and not love him or her. And you can love someone, and not be physically intimate. Love is about how much of yourself you’ve invested in the other person. It is about how much you have given to another, not about how much pleasure you plan to receive.

A few years ago, I was introduced to a different gay activist, one who had been more famous than Savage. This one, however, had slowly become Orthodox. Therapy had not made him less attracted to men. He was gay, but avoided gay activity. He went on to writing material from a Torah perspective, and to learning in a yeshiva in Israel, with the knowledge of that institution’s administration. I told him that I regarded him as nothing less than a hero, for being able to control a strong passion, simply because he accepted the fact that G-d asked him to.

He told me that his hope and dream was to find an observant woman who would understand his special predicament, and see him as a complete person, not simply define him by his gayness. He would marry her, and start a family. He saw absolutely no reason why he could not love and cherish her for the values they would share and the goals they would achieve together. Psychologists I consulted saw no reason to regard this wish as pie in the sky.

I have no idea whether his dream is practical, and am not suggesting in any manner or form whether gay men should be encouraged to make it their dream. I hope for the sake of this young man that the strategy works for him, and that is not the point of this posting. The point that needs emphasizing is that my acquaintance understands what many people today do not. He realizes the difference between a biological drive and the more spiritual response of love, and that they need not necessarily be contingent upon each other.

When young men in traditional Jewish circles near their wedding date, they are encouraged to study some key texts about marital intimacy, like Baalei HaNefesh of the Raavad, and Igeres HaKodesh of the Ramban. These texts are many hundreds of years old, but postmodern in their outlook. They are powerful enough to make an impact even on males in the full bloom of their hormonal rushes. A new couple learns that their physical attraction can function to help two dissimilar individuals through the difficult labor of putting aside their differences and becoming one unit. Minimally, it serves as a prod against the male hesitation to commit. It can add freshness to a marriage that might otherwise fade with habituation. The Talmud itself suggests that the monthly separation of husband and wife through the laws of family purity serves to reunite them afterwards with the emotional charge of a groom for his bride.

These texts, though, don’t stop at the pragmatic. They offer a glimpse of something that may be beyond the grasp of the typical newlywed couple, but is important for them to know and strive for in the years ahead. Intimacy, on a higher level, is a manner of communication without words. It is not, as Savage would have it, identical with “love,” but a way of expressing and relating the love that beats within the hearts of the couple. That love can grow stronger, not weaker, even as physical attraction between unrelated people might gently wane in succumb to the ravages of time. These texts underscore the holiness of intimacy. They explain that the Torah’s ideal for maritial intimacy is to concentrate on the person, rather than on body parts.

These are worthy goals, consistent with the idée fixe of Judaism – elevating the mundane and turning it into the holy. Even without the lofty embellishments, lots of ordinary folks – Jewish and non-Jewish – fully intuit that there is more to love, more to the nuclear family, than mutually providing pleasure. If Jack and Ennis couldn’t grasp that, let them ride off into the sunset together, and leave the rest of us alone.

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30 Responses

  1. S. says:

    >He would marry her, and start a family. He saw absolutely no reason why he could not love and cherish her for the values they would share and the goals they would achieve together. Psychologists I consulted saw no reason to regard this wish as pie in the sky.

    He won’t marry your daughter or sister, will he? I mean that with all duesrespect and sincerity. I can’t believe advocates of this approach would seriously approve of their loved ones making such a shidduch.

  2. Chana says:

    He realizes the difference between a biological drive and the more spiritual response of love, and that they need not necessarily be contingent upon each other.

    Biological love is perhaps the most beautiful and spiritual expression of love.

    From Family Redeemed by Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik:

    Second, a covenantal marriage is a hedonic, pleasure-oriented community. Judaism did not overlook or underestimate the physical aspects of marriage. On the contrary, once sacrificial withdrawal from the sinful erotic paradise of change and variety is completed, the natural element in marriage comes to the fore. The two partners owe each other not only fidelity, but also full gratification of their sexual needs. Refusal or failure by one of the partners to satisfy the conjugal rights of the other is sufficient reason for divorce. Each one must observe these laws of consortium with regard to the other. The marriage must not be converted into an exclusively spiritual fellowship. Marriage without carnal enjoyment and erotic love is contrary to human nature and is to be dissolved. The ethic of marriage is hedonistic, not monastic.”

    (Page 50)

  3. 1.5 opinions says:

    “Love and lust are not the same.”

    Truer words cannot be spoken. Of course, your assumption having not seen the film, is that these characters’ relationship is one of lust, not love. My understanding, also having not seen the film, is that the relationship portrayed is one of love and is definitely not primarily lustful. Your acquaintance of who you speak should be commended. He is answering Hashem with dignity and strength. I doubt, however, that he would agree that gay relationships are any more primarily lustful than straight relationships.

    A good marriage, I was taught, should have a level of physical attraction. Halakha allows certain activities for the purpose of being attractive to one’s spouse that might not otherwise be allowed. Who could possibly wish upon another person a spouse who, by his or her very nature, would never find them physically attractive? Kol hakavod to all those who can respond to their homosexuality by remaining chaste and celibate. They are submitting to Hashem’s will in a way few of us will have to. But I don’t feel that anyone deserves a spouse who cannot feel attracted to him or her.

  4. Eliezer Barzilai says:

    It is admirably economical to create a work of fiction to advocate a philosophy, and to then use the behavior of the fictional characters as proof of a reality. All you have to do is take disputed and make it putative.

    Brokeback Mountain is just the tip of the iceberg. There have been many recent movies involving reincarnation of a loved one into a different body, sometimes of a different gender, sometimes very young, sometimes of a different species. All of them make the point that if you love someone, it doesn’t matter what body they happen to be clothed in. These movies are perfect examples of the subliminal dangers we expose ourselves to whenever we read a book or watch a film. You are being propagandized, and you don’t have a clue that it’s happening.

  5. Edvallace says:

    “It is admirably economical to create a work of fiction to advocate a philosophy, and to then use the behavior of the fictional characters as proof of a reality. All you have to do is take disputed and make it putative.”


    The movie proves nothing at all. It’s merely a script written with an agenda. If I had the money to produce a film portraying a gay man who realized that he didn’t want to live life in that manner and therefore changed his orientation, would that prove that it’s the preferred option?

    The only heartening thing to come out of Brokeback is that with all its media hype its rather dismal box office returns proves that the majority of Americans still haven’t fallen for the propaganda of the gay lobby.

  6. Robbie says:

    Did you consult mainstrean psychologists or only those with whom you were sure to agree?

    Wasn’t he afraid to pass his gayness onto his children?

    Would you teach me more about the differences between bioligical drives and spiritual love? Is it not possible to spiritually love God but to biologically love a man all at the same time? What if it’s a man that looks a whole lot like a woman, is that better?

    So if the Torah’s ideal for maritial intimacy depends on the person and not and not the body parts, what’s the problem?

    And elevating the mundane and making it holy – wouldn’t finding true love – of any kind – and raising a committed, Jewish family fulfill that?

    Lastly, please help me to avoid love. It’s a “subliminal danger” as Eliezer put it, and I don’t want any of that to infect my pure mind!

  7. Ori Pomerantz says:

    Fora homosexual man to marry a heterosexual woman would probably be a bad idea. She will be frustrated by his inability to satisfy her, and he will be frustrated by her physical demands for an act he finds boring at best. A marriage like that is probably doomed from the start.

    On the other hand, if a man who finds women unattractive and a woman who finds men unattractive want to fulfill Pru Urvu (= be fruitful and multiply), why not? They’ll have a much harder time of it, since their marriage won’t be enforced by carnal enjoyment, but plagued by a physical act they both find boring or distasteful. However, at least it will be a problem they share, and neither of them is likely to get frustracted by the physical needs and desires of the other. A loving family, even without sex, might be better than celibate loneliness.

  8. Orit says:

    “He realizes the difference between a biological drive and the more spiritual response of love, and that they need not necessarily be contingent upon each other”.

    There is no need for anything in our times, or any other time for that matter. What should be there in past, present and future- is a relationship that is HEALTHY, meaning that biological is not viewed as animalistic but as an integral part of human relationships. Compartmentalizing love is a violent act of breaking something big into tiny little pieces that unless bounded together, do not stand for anything in themselves…

  9. Eliezer Barzilai says:

    Robbie, I’m sorry if my meaning was obscure. What I meant was that there are movies in which a spouse comes back as a child (Birth), or as a person of the same gender as the surviving spouse (Ghost) in which physical intimacy with the reincarnated spirit is presented as a thing of beauty. The Greeks also liked the idea, as we find Zeus taking the form of a swan or a bull, and having his way with various maidens. These stories, I believe, implant the idea that one loves the essence of the person, and the physical form is irrelevant. But then you step back and realize, with a feeling of nausea, that they are advocating pedophilia and bestiality.

  10. Avigdor M'Bawlmawr says:

    Back in the 70s when I was a wee secular NYC laddie with divorced parents, I did what many of my station did and went into therapy (beginning at age 10!) for quite some time. Once my psychiatrist, Maurice R. Friend, may he rest in peace, returned from a noteworthy psychiatric convention. They had just stricken homosexuality from the list of mental illnesses and I asked him about it. He replied it was a political, not a medical decision; one which he clearly didn’t like. So when anyone tells me about listening to the “mainstream” of the theraputic community, as Robbie does, I take it with a 5 lb. chunk of salt. In the “soft sciences” politics tends to dominate.

    Let me ask Robbie, is it possible for someone to love his children and beat them black and blue, too? Sure, it’s just a terribly defective love. We wouldn’t confuse the beating with the love, though he might. We all sin, nebuch, and G-d’s willing to take us back when we acknowledge those sins (and make recompense to our fellows if we have hurt them). Failing to recognize our actions as wrong leaves us no way to correct them. Of course, this presumes their is a Divine king who gives commands and that He let us know what they are. From Robbie’s post I might presume he doubts this, in which case the whole matter degenerates to a cultural/medical issue which is almost purely subjective.

  11. Harry Maryles says:

    This article has spurred me to once again post my thoughts about it. I first commented on this movie when it was released and I think now would be a good time to re-iterate and expand a bit on my position in light of Monday night’s upcoming Academy Awards. Everyone is picking that movie to be a runaway winner. To put it the way put it the way Academy Award winning actor Morgan Freeman puts it, this subject is “the flavor of the month”… meaning that the homosexual agenda is the cause of the moment in Hollywood. To many in Hollywood one’s sexual proclivities is no one’s business and we should accept people for who they are, not who they live. But is that the right attitude? Are there no absolutes in life? Is morality relative to the times? I think the answer is clearly NO. Morality is not “relative” but an absolute given to us by God. For more go to: http://haemtza.blogspot.com/2006/03/flavor-of-month.html

  12. Robbie says:

    Eliezer and Avigdor,

    I fail to understand your comparisons of pedophilia, bestiality and phyisical violence with homosexuality.

    Your psychiatrist referring to the decision as political – that’s semantics and clearly from his perspective.

    And you’re very wrong about my lack of belief in a Divine Ruler; I’m shomer mitzvot and have a strong belief in God. But I highly doubt that God would favor the kind of hate that’s often spewed in the form of kiruv, the dejection felt by those who are spurned by their community for feelings that they cannot control, and the audacity to think that some Jews have the power to speak for God while others do not.

  13. Troubled says:

    I am extremely troubled by this Post. You seem to suggest that the fellow who went on to study in Yeshiva is gay but was controlling his urges. Do you really think Hashem made him this way and then asks him to control his urges? This is ridiculous. If the Torah says it is “Toayvah” this means that it is NOT natural, Hashem did not make him this way. Please refer to Igros Moshe to see how R’ Moshe Feinstein’s reply to a letter from a “gay” person. R’ Moshe says this is nothing more than a “Tayveh” to be “ra”, or bad. (Michael Jackson’s song I’m Bad). One quick question, if what I am saying is wrong, please explain beastility, is this to the way Hashem made the person, or is this person who is so intent on doing the wrong thing that they stray further and further from the norm

  14. 1.5 opinions says:

    Come on, Troubled. Why does Toevah necessarily mean NOT natural? The Torah declares many foods to be Toeveh. Are you suggesting that eating ground cow is natural, but eating shrimp is not? Egyptians eating with Hebrews is termed a “toevah” for for Egyptians. Shepherding is considered a toevah by the Egyptians. Unnatural?! Set aside these issues for a moment. Now try to find an example in Chumash of a toevah that fits your “NOT natural” definition. In almost all cases, those things which are termed a “toevah” are chukim or cultural taboos. This trend suggests that this behavior is strictly forbidden by Hashem not because it is unnatural, but for some other reason to remain unknown. Just like with pork, shellfish, and being a shepherd.

    So, yes, the fellow was controlling his urges. Hashem makes us who we are. For some, the challenge is greater than others.

  15. Ahron says:

    It is amazing that this posting by R. Adlerstein was cited by another Jewish blog as an example of “ultraorthodox homophobia”. It is such a wonderful example of how distorted and hysterical the debate (in reality it has devolved far below the level of “debate”) on homosexuality has become, and that’s something worth considering. When a simple discussion of this issue is pilloried as ipso facto “homophobia” it is clear that we’re entering a world of slogan-launching and nearly fanatic ideology–and a deep intolerance for even hearing about opinions that don’t affirm one’s preexisting beliefs.

    Cheers to R. Adlerstein for dismissing the hysterics and talking seriously about the some of the weighty elements of this issue.

  16. Steve Brizel says:

    The bottom line here is that Torah Judaism has never accepted the “flavor of the month” with respect to this issue. The question then becomes one of condemning the action, as opposed to the person and responding to the arguments based on a nature/nurture
    dichotomy. In the case that you mentioned, the talmid in the yeshiva dealt with the issue in that manner. Obviously,we
    should make clear that our rejection of “the gay lifestyle” and all that is associated with it as stated so succinctly in the
    passage from Family Redeemed ( and similarly in The Emergence of Ethical Man) has no impact vis a vis a doctor’s obligation to
    treat a patient with AIDS or similar halachic issues.

  17. ck says:

    Sigh. I’m afraid that due to a certain measure of insularity, some elements within the Orthodox world simply don’t have that much real contact with homosexuals. Homosexuality is not about the flavor of the month for those who identify as such. It’s an orientation that most will tell you they were born with, that they felt before they even knew what sex was. I’m afraid the interpretation offered of Rav Feinstein’s words by troubled lacks a certain measure of nuance. Certainly homosexual rape in prisons by people who are otherwise heterosexual is Toayvah. But to equate bestiality or pedophilia with homosexuality is just ignorant. One involves sexual acts with animals or children incapable of consent (and that’s just for starters) whereas the other involves consenting indviduals. Yikes.

  18. Ploni says:

    I just wanted to reiterate what Ori Pomerantz posted. I think it must be stressed that it is an extremely bad idea for a homosexual man to marry a heterosexual woman. I personally am aware of a situation in which a gay man did marry a straight woman but did not make her aware of his sexual orientation. She knew from the beginning that something was not right, but she had no idea what it was. She ended up blaming herself and convincing herself that she was “unlovable” and unattractive. No matter how hard she tried to be a good wife and make herself attractive to her husband, she was met with rejection. Although to the outside world they appeared to be the picture perfect couple and he appeared to be an extremely devoted father and husband things were very different behind closed doors. After a few children and years of a miserable marriage, he finally admitted to her that he was gay. She at last was able to understand why he never took any sexual interest in her, but it didn’t heal the deep psychological wounds that she had incurred. Nor did it help her to be able to explain to her children why she and their father were suddenly getting divorced. I am confident that there are not many cases like this in the Orthodox world, but I am sure that she is not the only one. I think it is important to stress that a gay man should never be allowed to ruin someone’s life in this way, and if someone is aware of a gay man contemplating marriage with a straight woman, he/she would be halachically obligated to inform the woman of this information.

  19. Toby Katz says:

    Chana wrote (quoting RYBS):
    “Marriage without carnal enjoyment and erotic love is contrary to human nature and is to be dissolved. The ethic of marriage is hedonistic, not monastic.”

    This is true in most cases — if someone enters a marriage expecting normal relations and the other partner is unable or unwilling to cooperate, then divorce is the answer. However the Gemara says a woman prefers to be with someone rather than alone — even if the marriage is not happy — and this is STILL true for many women. If a woman who can’t find another mate, for whatever reason, knowingly goes into a marriage where there is not going to be much carnal pleasure, the marriage is not invalid.

    Troubled wrote:
    “Do you really think Hashem made him this way and then asks him to control his urges? This is ridiculous. If the Torah says it is “Toayvah” this means that it is NOT natural, Hashem did not make him this way. Please refer to Igros Moshe to see how R’ Moshe Feinstein’s reply to a letter from a “gay” person. R’ Moshe says this is nothing more than a “Tayveh” to be “ra”, or bad.”

    I haven’t seen what Igros Moshe says but I’m sure it’s not as simple as the way you put it. Yes, it’s true that when a person gives in to a desire to do something that the Torah forbids, he is by definition doing something “ra” or “bad.” That does NOT mean that the person really never had that desire or that people consciously CHOOSE to be gay because they are “bad” people! While some people have both homosexual and heterosexual urges and could CHOOSE to suppress their homosexual desires, for most gays that seems not to be the case.

    How could Hashem create a desire and then command people not to act on it? That IS something of a puzzle, much discussed by Jewish commentators. But after all the Torah is FULL of commandments to avoid what we have a NATURAL desire to do. For instance, it is NATURAL for teenagers to want to diss their parents — the drive for independence that is part of growing up. Yet it’s forbidden by the Torah. It is NATURAL to covet other men’s wives and possessions. Etc etc. The Torah has a word for natural desires that are suppressed and sublimated by those who wish to be close to G-d, and that word is “KEDUSHA — holiness.”

  20. Sarah M says:

    Can you picture yourself giving up a straight marriage to live with a person of the same sex whom you loved dearly as a friend, and living with them and raising children with them? (I’m talking emotionally, not “I’m halachikally obligatd to get married)
    Only people who can honestly answer yes can say that sex has nothing to do with it.

  21. Ploni says:

    In reference to what Troubled wrote about the Igros Moshe, I can confirm that this is indeed what R’ Moshe wrote, but I think I can explain why it may not necessarily be applicable today. Just as in the Dor HaMabul the posuk says “Ki hishchis kol basar darko al haretz” and Chazal tell us that even the animals engaged in illicit relations, so too today when there is such a proliferation of homosexual activity in the world it can influence everyone in a negative way and cause people to become homosexual. It is hard to comprehend how what R’ Moshe wrote can apply to 10 and 11 year old kids who have already proclaimed themselves to be homosexual and are now being granted their own public school in NYC. At such a young age it is difficult to assume that they are so deeply involved in their physical drives and desires that they have already corrupted themselves into becoming homosexual. I think it is more probable to assume that, as in the Dor HaMabul the behavior of the general society corrupts even innocent people and as such it is indeed possible for someone today to have homosexual tendencies through no fault of his/her own. Of course the Torah still mandates that they keep these feeling in check and never act upon them, but the fact that the feelings exist in the first place does not necessarily mean that they have corrupted themselves to have these “unnatural” feelings and tendencies. I think that what R’ Moshe wrote was definitely true when he wrote it, but unfortunately, in the decades since he wrote it there has been a severe moral deterioration in society which may make his words inapplicable to today’s situation.

  22. Michoel says:

    I just don’t by that. There have been many periods of more open homosexual behavior and the society we live in is not the worst it’s been in modern times. Rabbi Adlerstien writes in the latest post that Rav Aharon Feldman was certainly aware of this Igros Moshe. I don’t think it is honest to implicitly over-ride the Igros by showing that a current Rosh Yeshiva wrote more sympathetically. We should Rav Feldman how he deals with this Reb Moshe. We should also ask Rav Dovid Feinstien how is father would feel about Rav Feldman’s letter.

  23. Michael Kopinsky says:

    1. What is the location of this Igros Moshe?

    2. Supression of one’s natural way is, I would say, the main thing in the Torah. We are born greedy, and our life’s work is to think of others as well. We are born with a need for instant gratification, and our entire life is trying to see later reward as being more important than instant pleasure.

  24. Charles B. Hall says:

    ‘ today when there is such a proliferation of homosexual activity in the world ‘

    Homosexual activity has been common in the western world for thousands of years. In classical
    Greece it was the norm. Alexander the Great (admired by Chazal) had a long term gay lover. The Roman Emperor Nero (admittedly not a model of ideal behavior in any area of life) may actually have married a man or two. The preferences of many Christian European monarchs in medieval and early modern times for men have been well documented and there is little reason to believe that they differed much from the rest of society. What is seen in society today is not novel.

    ‘ severe moral deterioration in society ‘

    Even if you see the apparent greater acceptance of homosexuality as moral deterioration (and as pointed out above, I’m not sure it is greater today than in many earlier historical periods) I would argue there are many areas in which society today is much MORE moral than in the past. Slavery has just about disappeared from the western world. It is no longer acceptible to support openly racist policies — and Jim Crow is gone even though racism hasn’t. Jews are accepted as full citizens in most of the western world (and indeed assimilation rather than anti-Semitism is our greatest challenge in the galut). Syphillis is no longer in the top ten causes of death in the United States as it was for a while in the 1910s. Most well-off societies at least try to have a safety net so that those who can not compare for themselves are taken care of at least at a minimal level. Most well-off societies try to preserve the natural environment and some such as the United States actually do a rather good job of it. Most children have the opportunity for an adequate education. Political corruption, while still extant, is regularly prosecuted and in most places in the western world is not what runs countries.

    All of these are consistent with Torah values and we can be proud of the contribution that Jews have made to these areas of progress.

  25. Ploni says:

    FYI- the Igros Moshe is in Orach Chaim Chelek Daled page Reish Hey (205) Siman 115

  26. Ploni says:

    Sorry I didn’t see your post before I last posted. There definitely have been many other societies where there was an abundance of homosexual activity, but I don’t think there was ever a time in history when it was so accepted. I don’t believe that there were gay pride parades of the magnitude that exist today. The fact that homosexuality is so accepted in in today’s world may have a lot greater impact on the tevah than the homosexuality of the past which was never as accepted as it is today. Although you write that there were periods of open homosexual behavior in the past, I challenge you to pinpoint any time in history where that behavior and sexual immorality in general are as widely accepted as they are today. Even if there was more activity actually taking place it was never percieved as normal behavior. You didn’t have children’s books about Johnnie has two Daddies ot two Mommies which can be found in any Barnes and Nobles today.

  27. Howard says:

    It seems patently obvious that homosexuality is a natural drive. That’s the fundamental point of the mitzvah. The essence of Bechirah, of choice is the struggle between your drives and your understanding of Truth. The defining struglle of Man is, can you do what you know to be true even when you have powerful, natural drives to do otherwise. There is no mitzvah against eating dirt because there is no drive to eat dirt. Ramchal defines classes of actions that serve to either connect you to Hashem or drive you from Hashem. They either make his presence more clear and real or more obscured and opaque. Men have a drive for sex. Most men would have sex with anything that can’t run away fast enough. Men, women, animals, plastic blow up dolls, websites. It doesn’t really matter. Torah defines an appropriate and holy sphere in which sexuality can be used and expressed. The struggle of Man is to exercise his Will and use the powerful tool of sexuality within this sphere of holiness.

    Christianity believes that sex is for procreation. Current Western culture thinks that sex is for recreation. Torah says they are both wrong. Sex is fundamentally a tool for expressing the deepest intimate connection between two souls in a physical analog. In fact, the act not only expresses that connection, it creates and strengthens that connection. It is a beautiful expression of Torah’s view of children that this ultimate act of soulful connection is the source of genesis, of creation of the next generation. I learned from my teachers that the extent to which the mother and father are connected to each other is expressed in the strength, health and wholesomeness of the children. Even more intimidating is the knowledge that the strenth of this connection affects the children not just during procreation but thoughout their lives. This is why relations between the avos and imahot are expressed as “knowing his wife”. The action was one of connection, intimacy and acknowledgement.

    Inherent in this understanding of sexuality lies the basis for a rejection of adultery, premarital sex, bestiality, homosexuality etc. As one of my rebbeim put it, how does sleeping with your secretary help to build a soul to soul connection with your wife? When you use sexuality as a tool for mere physicality you strip it of its ability to act as a tool of true intimacy.

    Further, much of the drive towards “ra” as mentioned in previous posts really arises from a different yetzer than the yetzer for sex. It really arises from the underlying drive for dehumanization. There is a fundamental drive in men to see another person stripped of his soul, degraded and violated. To feel the world purged of holiness and soulfulness. But that is really subject for another post.

  28. Ploni says:

    I don’t want to over-post, but I forgot to mention a Gemara in Chulin (last line on 92a and going on to 92b) that says that the Nations of the World have 3 merits. One is that they don’t write a Kesuvah for their male partners, and Rashi explains that even though they engage in homosexual activity they don’t go so far as to equate their relationships with their male partners with that of marriage. Unfortunately, we can not say the same of today’s society where “gay marriage” has been legalized in a number of cities. I think that what I originally posted is a plausible explanation as to why R’ Moshe would not necessarily disagree with R’ Ahron Feldman today.

  29. Harry Maryles says:

    But to equate bestiality or pedophilia with homosexuality is just ignorant.

    Why? How would you characterize consensual same sex with a thirteen year old? Is that OK and not pedophelia? He is an adult by Torah standards so what’s the problem?

    And what is wrong with bestiality? How is the animal harmed? Does the animal even know the difference?

    And what about consensual incest?

    I’m sorry there is no rational difference between any of these and homosexual sex. I defy you to state what that difference is if you think there is one. Your accusation of ignorance is meaningless without it.

  30. Yehudah says:

    Rabbi Alderstein shares the view of Dr. Alan Unterman of Manchester University, who wrote in the ‘The Jewish Quarterly’ that: “It is not forbidden to be sexually attracted to members of one’s own sex, but it is forbidden to act on such preferences. Similarly, it is not demanded that one should be sexually attracted to members of the opposite sex, but it is demanded that, attracted or not, one should still get married and have children”.
    Rabbi Chaim Rapoport in his highly acclaimed ‘Judaism and Homosexuality’, chapter 7, disagrees.
    He provides many halachic (as well as ‘common sense’) reasons why we should dissuade homosexuals from drawing heterosexuals into a marital relationship – however good their intentions may be. These include: (a) a person with an exclusive gay disposition could experience much trauma and emotional agony, if not depression, when living with a lifelong heterosexual partner; (b) It is unlikely that a confirmed gay husband will be able to honor his commitment to his wife’s ‘conjugal rights’, even if he were able to have intercourse with her in a mechanical fashion; (c) Marital Intimacy must only take place with the total consent of both partners in the marriage. If a man entertains erotic thoughts during intercourse that are disassociated from his wife (say he is thinking of a man), it is considered a perversion. Our sages tell us that the offspring of such a union may be adversely affected. (d) a homosexual partner in a marriage may have a stronger propensity towards sexual infidelity, given that his desires and urges remain totally repressed in a heterosexual relationship. If the scenario were to occur that the gay partner in the marriage succumbed, say in a moment of ‘desperation’, to the forces of his impulse, it would be likely to wreak havoc on the marriage. (e) Given the fact that homosexual partners in heterosexual relationships may, understandably, seek fulfillment of their desires in a clandestine setting (possibly – in a moment of ‘uncontrollable’ urge – with an anonymous partner) the possibility of contracting sexually transmitted diseases and transmitting them to the innocent (and unsuspecting) partner is increased. (f) Likewise, in the event that the homosexual partner in the marriage does not satisfy the spouse’s intimate needs, the neglected spouse may be, after a lengthy period of want and frustration tempted to engage in extra-marital intimate activities, the consequences of which I need hardly spell out.

    Finally, how can a young woman on the threshold of marriage really give informed consent to forgo physical love. Any woman who enters a marriage with a person whose sexual and affectionate sympathies lie exclusively with members of his own gender is clearly unaware of the far-reaching implications of such a long term relationship. She ought to be advised against it. This is what any understanding person would advise his own daughter.

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