“Orthodox” Gay Marriage and the Path to Destruction

Thankfully, I have not written about Open Orthodoxy for a very, very long time. It is not something I enjoy doing or have the time to focus on, and I only address this topic when it is really necessary.

Yesterday, Avram Mlotek, a graduate of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah (YCT), posted:

I had the privilege of officiating a wedding on Sunday. In many ways, it was like any other simcha I’ve officiated: joyous, Jewish, spiritual, full of love. What made it different was that they were two men who joined in sacred, covenantal relationship. This coming week Jewish communities will hear two words uttered in synagogues across the globe: naaseh v’nishma, we will do and we will listen. We will act and we will understand. As I shared to the chatanim, the grooms, it is their passion, charge and desire for action which made this holy day possible. While some may not yet or ever fully comprehend, it is their actions, deeds and maasim tovim, their mitzvot, which will speak for themselves with inherent worth and value. Mazl tov!

Yes, this popular Open Orthodox rabbi performed a gay “wedding”, lauding it as a sacred event, comparing it to Matan Torah, the Giving of the Holy Torah at Sinai. That which the Torah forbids and condemns with unusually harsh diction is celebrated and sanctified by this rabbi.

Mlotek’s post about performing the gay wedding was praised by other popular Open Orthodox leaders, including a former YCT president and Shmuly Yanklowitz, a YCT poster boy (quite literally) and founder and head of Torat Chayim, an Open Orthodox progressive/liberal clergy group.

Mlotek has previously expressed nontraditional views on intermarriage and gay marriage. His recent officiation at a gay wedding was thus no surprise. What is significant, though, is Yanklowitz’ subsequent castigation of “homophobes” who oppose gay marriage, in which he notes a few other Torat Chayim members who perform gay weddings (please also see here), and, in the comments section, his postulation:

It would be virtually impossible, in my view, to look at the Torah guiding same sex marriages as not being Torah….yes, one might not hold by that Torah but its Torah. But I know there are those who believe Torah in a fundamentalistic fashion (i.e. only one truth) as compared to a pluralistic fashion (validating different Torah-rooting approaches even if we only live/hold by one). My pluralistic Torah also makes room for those fundamentalists (as long as they don’t burn others).


But I suspect you find the Rav’s “teleological suspension of the ethical” compelling? and that moments like this are like the Akeidah? Whereas I do not. I do not think the halakha can prevent us from the ethical but rather must contain it.

This is a reference to the axiom articulated by Rav Soloveitchik zt”l of Surrender (to the Divine Will), as exemplified by the Akeidah/Binding of Isaac – one must subjugate his natural emotions and values in deference to the Torah. Yanklowitz rejects this concept.

Obviously, for one to call himself an Orthodox rabbi while celebrating gay marriage and declaring it holy is as Orthodox as granting kosher certification to Boar’s Head ham or including Wonder Bread in a Passover food directory. The problem is that while these examples are obviously nonsensical and joke-worthy, Torat Chayim clergy members have twisted Judaism like a pretzel and genuinely believe that their views on homosexuality represent the Torah.

The prospective and broad-ranging danger of this folly cannot be dismissed. We are today faced with Orthodox-style advocates for gay pride, Orthodox-style proponents of publicly accepting and welcoming openly-gay couples at shul, and even a self-described gay Orthodox rabbi, who lives with his male partner. These people, all of whom are Torat Chayim members, present themselves as learned rabbinic authorities, and they work hard to persuade less-knowledgeable members of the public that their views are consistent with Orthodox Judaism, as they lobby and push for change, while at times accusing those who hold fast to Torah values of being haters and maligning them as being afflicted with homophobia – an imaginary disorder fabricated so as to disparage and shame those who do not accept homosexuality.

(We cannot fail to note an Israeli Open Orthodox rabbi (Benny Lau) who showed up at a gay wedding with his well wishes, Rabbi Avi Weiss who, while rejecting Orthodox gay “marriage”, takes a very soft stance on homosexuality, and Open Orthodox Rabbi Dr. Daniel Sperber, who sanctions the idea of “Orthodox” gay marriage, so long as another word, such as “partnership”, is used for it.)

A natural outgrowth of the “gay Orthodox” agenda is the imposition of demands on Orthodox institutions and organizations, insisting that they cave in and compromise their values, or be faced with strict ultimatums and severe penalties. Yeshiva University is a case in point, as homosexual groups which self-identify as Orthodox are now resorting to financial and legal threats, in an effort to intimidate YU to comply with demands that violate its religious convictions.

Here is what happened this past fall:

Alumni and LGBT organizations are continuing to put pressure on the school this week with a campaign timed for the same day as Y.U.’s annual fundraiser. With the hashtag #PledgeNotToPledge, they are asking alumni not to donate to Y.U.’s campaign until the march organizers’ demands are met. Jewish Queer Youth, an organization supporting Jewish LGBT teens in the Orthodox community, is asking Y.U. alumni to support JQY’s campus resources instead of making a gift to Y.U.

And yesterday, news broke that homosexual students are taking legal action against YU, filing a complaint with the New York City Human Rights Commission, with the demand that YU allow an official gay club on its undergraduate campus(es).

This all follows an “Orthodox” LGBTQ march against YU as the current school year commenced.

Things have gotten out of hand and have escalated to a major new level. Rather than dealing with a few Open Orthodox rabbis who inanely distort the Torah into the opposite of what it is, a robust “Orthodox” gay rights movement has formed, which is likely to spread its wings and its threats much further throughout the entire Orthodox infrastructure, going after Orthodox schools, shuls, organizations and agencies, where it is suspected that openly gay self-expression might not be officially welcome.

Although those suffering from same-sex attraction should not be judged or vilified, and those who overcome their urges and adhere to the Torah are true tzaddikim, we are dealing here with people who defy and advertise their being at odds with the Torah’s values.

It must also be stated that the human victims of the Torat Chayim phenomenon will be those who utilize the services of Torat Chaim rabbis for conversion or divorce/gittin. While these situations will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, there is little question that on the “street,” conversions and divorces processed through Torat Chaim will have no more standing in the Orthodox community than those coming out of JTS. Friends who care about friends will advise them to stay away from Torat Chaim.

It is sad and shocking that this is the reality. Had those with the power to do so nipped this all in the bud many years ago at its inception, taking a principled and courageous stand by publicly declaring that the Open Orthodox movement, its views and actions, are not Orthodox, I doubt that we would now be faced with these problems.

Hashem ya’azor – may God help.

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89 Responses

  1. dr. bill says:

    At a time when 7 hasidim plead guilty to obtaining E-rate funds, RCK’s chair is carried around Israel, 2 of the 3 heads of Israel’s religious party face impending prosecution, a rabbi of Breslov does not raise a iota of protest from rabbis in Israel for unspeakable sins, etc. etc. I repeat steadfastly, leave policing of the left fringe to those more closely situated who have a remote chance of influence while those on the right spend time policing their right flank. this sort of rhetoric has no impact.

    And to include rabbis who have done NOTHING similar is nothing short of slanderous. This problem is not easy; ask those who must counsel such individuals. With nothing constructive to ADD to what has already been said, saying nothing is far preferable.

    • mycroft says:

      Rabbi Weiss in linked article states
      “Still, as an Orthodox Jew, I submit to the Biblical prohibition. But as an open Orthodox rabbi, I refuse to reject the person who seeks to lead a life of same sex love. If I welcome with open arms those who do not observe Sabbath, Kashrut or family purity laws, I must welcome, even more so, homosexual Jews, as they are born with their orientation. In fact, many heterosexual improprieties are called to’evah, in addition to violations of laws wholly outside the realm of sexuality such as cheating in business. To single out homosexuality from other biblical proscriptions is unfair and smacks of a double standard.”
      Rabbi Weiss states that he accepts the Biblical prohibition, he is arguing that we should treat those who sin in homosexuality nowise than we treat other sinners. Such a position of not accepting the sin but welcoming the sinner is a position that is essentially standard in many Orthodox circles which are not OO. Want to quibble Rabbi Weiss probably should not have said “welcome, even more so,” but certainly his basic idea here is not a rejection of Torah.

      • rob says:

        Hopefully, a Jew who doesn’t keep kosher wouldn’t bring his own treif to kiddush at a frum shul. But does one bring a gay Jewish couple to ones seder in a frum home, in front of impressionable children? I’m not sure Rabbi Weiss has thought this through.

      • Reb Yid says:

        To Rob:

        I’m sure that Rav Weiss has thought it through. He is the consummate bridge builder. He loves all Jews. I’m proud to have been a congregant of his when living in Riverdale.

        It seems as though many here would like nothing more to wish this growing community away. It’s not. And if it hasn’t already touched your kids or grandparents, it’s only a matter of time.

      • dr. bill says:

        rob, the difference between treif and a person coming to the seder is self-evident. i do not know rabbi weiss and cannot comment on the depth with which he has thought this through; i am surprised you assume that you can

  2. Ben K says:

    I’m curious: who are “those with the power to do so” who should have condemned Open Orthodoxy and at what point in time should this condemnation have occurred?

  3. Steve Brizel says:

    Mlotek has previously written why he is not upset about intermarriage, and he now fails to recognize that the Halacha defines a marriage as between a man and woman. Whatever he officiated is halachically meaningless and fraudulent as are the routinely permitted marriages by OO of Kohanim to divorcees and converts.

    • eli says:

      Slightly different: Is it not the case that when a kohen marries a divorcee or a convert, the marriage halakhically takes places, but it is assur, and the beit din must try to divorce them? Whereas a gay marriage is halakhically nothing at all.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        See Yevamos 60b and Rashi Rashba Rambam and Raavad which discusses why it is Asur for a kohen to marry a convert either because such a person lacks Zera Yisrael as required for a convert ( see Kiddushin 78) or becausecif a Gzeras HaKasuv is viewed as a Zonah EEven according to some Shittos if the Giuur happens as a child under the age of three RYBS spoke very forcefully against a Psak from RGoren ZL and said there was no heter to allow a giyores to marry a kohen

  4. Raymond says:

    My stance on gay marriage is so politically incorrect, that I just don’t know how to say what I want to say, in a diplomatic manner. When I merely see the term Gay Marriage, I cannot help but think that our society at large has gone completely insane. Two men marrying each other? No beautiful bride but two grooms? Have people lost their minds? I keep hoping it is some sort of sick joke. I may be going out on a limb here, but I happen to think that homosexuality itself is a form of mental illness. If that sounds outrageous to some people, my position was exactly that of the American Psychological Association, before political correctness pressured them into voting against that concept. As if truth can be decided by a vote!

    I realize it is a cliche, but cliches would not exist if there were not some truth to them, and so I cannot help but invoke the expression that G-d created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. Heterosexual relationships have at least two advantages over homosexual ones: one is, that in normal, heterosexual relationships, each sex learns to understand the ways of somebody very different from them (men vs women), and the other even more obvious one is that men and women together actually produce life. No matter how much, um, activity that gay couples engage in, they can never, ever sustain the world by giving birth to children. Only straight, heterosexual couples can do that.

    The ideas I am expressing here, are so basic, so common-sensical (or at least should be), that even the Seven Laws of Noah coincides with what I am saying here. We Jews do not expect much from the non-Jewish world; the Seven Laws of Noah are merely basic rules of common human decency required to create and sustain a civilized society. Male homosexual behavior violates one of those laws, and gay marriage violates the one positive law of those Seven Laws, and thus gay marriage should not be considered legitimate in our society, while male homosexual behavior should be discouraged through social disapproval.

    • Yehoshua says:

      The issue is not that you are “politically incorrect.” The issue is that you are confusing subjective feelings and reasoned ideas.
      Your two arguments in favor of limiting marriage to heterosexuals fail to meet the standard of rationality. Who said that the purpose of marriage is to “understand the ways of somebody very different from them”? And if that is somehow the “reason” for marriage, can a man from Brooklyn marry a woman from Brooklyn? Why not say that someone from New York has to marry an out-of-towner, to better understand someone very different from them? Do we expect prospective couples to take personality exams, and allow them to proceed only if they are sufficiently “different”?
      As far as your second claim, there is no requirement that people getting married need to be able to have children together, as I am sure you understand.
      And as far as your complaints that it was a “vote” that removed homosexuality from the list of mental illnesses, you perhaps overlook that it was a vote that put it on there in the first place.

      • rkz says:

        Of course, all that is irrelevant.
        All such behavior is a to’eva, and there is no way to give it any legitimacy within the Torah.

      • Raymond says:

        Once one takes the time and energy to give excuses to justify the homosexual lifestyle, that is a good sign that our society is in big trouble. Societies end not when they lose physical battles, but when they have lost their moral virtue.

    • Yehoshua says:

      To @rkz:
      Certainly one can raise religion-based objections to same-sex marriage.
      The question is if one can also raise rational objections.
      I do not view this as “irrelevant.” There is a difference between chukim and mishpatim, not in terms of how binding they are, but in terms of how they are understood and presented to others.

  5. ינוקא says:

    My feeling is איפכא מסתברא– we should be heartened by this development and hope that OO gedolim such as Mlotek begin to specialize only in this type of marriage.


    The youngsters who are mixed up about their sex are victims of the homosexual leaders. Read : “Gay Revolutionary”, from Gay Community News, Feb. 15-21, 1987
    THIS WAS THEIR MOTIVATION, AND SEE HOW THEY WERE SO VERY SUCCESSFUL – In November, 1987, the homosexual magazine Guide published, “The Overhauling of Straight America,” by Marshall Kirk and Erastes Pill. This article was a proposed blueprint by homosexual activists for transforming the social values of “straight” America. At the core of the program was a media campaign to change the way the average citizens viewed homosexuality by desensitizing them concerning homosexuals and homosexual rights.
    The Overhauling of Straight America

  7. Chava Rubin says:

    Yasher Koach to Rav Gordimer for speaking out against these horrible developments.
    Reading Raymonds comment is like a breath of fresh air and common sense for the young people nowadays who are so accustomed to hearing the concept of gay relationships normalized. Yasher Koach to Raymond for reminding us that the American Psychological Association used to describe homosexuality as a mental disorder.

    • Raymond says:

      Chava Rubin, thank you. Whenever I write anything on this website, it is with some trepidation, as I worry whether or not my words are in line with traditional Torah thinking. And so when what I say receives the approval of a fully frum Jew such as yourself, I feel so very vindicated.

    • Steve Brizel says:

      We have heard lots about fake news Well there is fake science too as many branches of science literature and history are revised to accommodate either dubious claims dystopia claims about our future political agendas or to say there are no differences between genders or that gender is merely a social construct

      • Raymond says:

        Steve Brizel, that is partly what is so scary about the Radical Leftists. It would be one thing if they merely have differing views than us regarding the various political issues, but they go much further than that when they deny reality itself. Facts not only do not matter to them, but are offensive to them, as facts expose the fraudulent nature of their worldview. And when resorts to denying reality itself, it becomes the old Soviet Union all over again, something taken right out of George Orwell’s remarkably prophetic novel, 1984. George Orwell was so on target with his insights about world affairs, that it is a shame that he wasn’t Jewish.

  8. lacosta says:

    As new leadership takes the helm of the OU , we await to see if it will have the fortitude to make the public case that Open ‘Orthodoxy ‘ is not orthodox [anymore than messianic judaism is not a xtian sect ] ; and to eliminate the OU temples that are now manned by women rabbis .

    it is disheartening to read that a Pesach program in san diego is bringing in Yanklowitz to be a foil for Ben Shapiro to debate. Maybe this should be a reason to boycott such a Pesach program. the food is glatt, and the ‘scholar’ is treif….

  9. Anna says:

    “Although those suffering from same-sex attraction should not be judged or vilified, …”

    The problem is that Rabbi Gordimer does judge and vilify, when he says that those who are attracted to the same sex are “suffering.”

    In my experience they are not. They may of course suffer from encounters with judgemental rabbis and others, who think they are not being judgemental.

    Besides since most sincere orthodox jews know that such ceremonies are nothing, what is the (halakhic) problem? The accepted halakha is that same sex relationships are forbidden, but there is no halakha forbidding a ceremony, which anyway is of no halakhic consequence. It is not maris ayin, because everyone knows that for an orthodox marriage you need a man and a woman, no-one is being misled here.

    • micha berger says:

      First, “suffering” isn’t a judgment or vilification, because it doesn’t declare anyone as being in the right or in the wrong. It is based on the understanding that if G-d prohibited some activity, then those who engage in it are doing some kind of self-harm, whether we can understand how and what or not. The Torah isn’t arbitrary, after all. And those with a desire to sin who do refrain do suffer from loneliness and sexual frustration. Either way, being gay involves suffering.

      Second, would agree with you about the ceremony itself being non-binding HOWEVER, the description is that the ceremony is an Orthodox Jewish rite. The officiant described it as spiritual, as conforming to our cry at Sinai “naaseh venishmah”, and as holy. There is a conscious effort to change the fact that “most sincere orthodox [J]ews know that such ceremonies are nothing”. And Ysoscher Katz’s, Shmuly Yanklowitz’s, and Torat Chaim posts on Facebook are similar.

      Last (but in two parts), the ceremony itself is actually worse than nothing.

      At the minimum, it is an act of lifnei iveir (putting a metaphorical stumbling block before the blind) or mesayeiah (aiding and encouraging a sin) to solemnize the relationship between two people who are romantically attracted to each other but ought not express that physically.

      But more than that, it appears to many that the wedding is itself prohibited, even if no marriage results. This would be a deOraisa (Torahitic, in contrast to rabbinical legislation), and since the Egyptians were condemned for it, the prohibition is possibly even binding on non-Jews as part of the Noachide Covenant.

      Here is the relevant quote from the Sifra (a/k/a Toras Kohanim, a tannaitic era Midrash Halakhah on Vayiqara) 8:8:

      או (ס”א אי) “כמעשה ארץ מצרים וכמעשה ארץ כנען לא תעשו”, יכול לא יבנו בנינים ולא יטעו נטיעות כמותם? תלמוד לומר “ובחוקותיהם לא תלכו” – לא אמרתי אלא בחוקים החקוקים להם ולאבותיהם ולאבות אבותיהם. ומה היו עושים? האיש נושא לאיש והאשה לאשה. האיש נושא אשה ובתה, והאשה נישאת לשנים. לכך נאמר “ובחוקותיהם לא תלכו”.

      If “As the deed of the land of Egypt and as the deed of the land of Canaan, you shall not do,” I might think they should not build or plant as they do; it is, therefore, written (Joshua 11:15) “and in their statutes you shall not walk.” I have proscribed for you only those statutes which were instituted for them and for their forefathers and for the fathers of their forefathers. What did they do? A man would wed a man, and a woman, a woman. A man would wed a woman and her daughter, and a woman would wed two — wherefore Scripture states “and in their statutes you shall not walk.

      • Anna says:

        Thanks Micha for taking the time to respond to my earlier comments. I would briefly say that I think “suffering” was used in a judgemental way. I think that when the term is used in common, or popular parlance, it has the sense of feelings of pain and unhappiness, either as a physical, mental, or emotional experience. People who are attracted to the same gender and honest enough to accept that is who they find attractive, don’t in the main find it a source of pain, or unhappiness, quite the opposite. To say that they do is to make a negative judgement that vilifies them and I think supposes a sense that this is wrong. (I strongly recommend Susan Sontag’s book, “Illness as a metaphor” which explores how such terms can be abused.) Now, I don’t know whether when Rabbi Gordimer wrote his article, he had your specific and I would say particular definition in mind when he spoke about suffering, or whether he used the term in the more generally accepted dictionary definition use of the word as I have supposed.

        I take your point about the ceremony being described as an orthodox rite by the officiant. Of course the officiant can say what he likes, but would anyone with a modicum of jewish knowledge be swayed by this? I’ve heard a legitimate m’sader kiddishin say things at a Jewish wedding which I would disagree with, but wouldn’t doubt the legitimacy of the marriage. I think in this case, one would could both disagree with the officiant and be clear that from a halakhic point of view it was not a valid marriage. For this reason I don’t think it is a case of act of lifnei iveir. The officiant, the couple and I would imagine many of the guests would know perfectly well that the ceremony is extraordinary and not usually accepted. There are no blind people here, just some who reject accepted tradition.

        In regard to your quotation from Sifra, (and thanks for not giving just the reference, but an extract in Hebrew and English,) you could have quoted from many other source that make the same point about lewd Egyptian and Canaanite behaviour, but I think this is always linked to the prohibition against idolatry and the reason for keeping some degrees of separation from the surrounding pagan population. No-one to my knowledge has yet said of Open Orthodoxy amongst the many criticisms that have been made, that it is idolatry, or that its adherents are not jews.

        By the way, have you looked at what Joshua 11:15 actually says?

        כַּאֲשֶׁ֨ר צִוָּ֤ה יְהוָה֙ אֶת־מֹשֶׁ֣ה עַבְדּ֔וֹ כֵּן־צִוָּ֥ה מֹשֶׁ֖ה אֶת־יְהוֹשֻׁ֑עַ וְכֵן֙ עָשָׂ֣ה יְהוֹשֻׁ֔עַ
        לֹֽא־הֵסִ֣יר דָּבָ֔ר מִכֹּ֛ל אֲשֶׁר־צִוָּ֥ה יְהוָ֖ה אֶת־מֹשֶֽׁה׃
        “Just as the LORD had commanded His servant Moses, so Moses had charged Joshua, and so Joshua did; he left nothing undone of all that the LORD had commanded Moses.”

        The context in which this verse appears is also in a very different context, to what is under discussion here. For example verse 14 says:

        וְ֠כֹל שְׁלַ֞ל הֶעָרִ֤ים הָאֵ֙לֶּה֙ וְהַבְּהֵמָ֔ה בָּזְז֥וּ לָהֶ֖ם בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל רַ֣ק אֶֽת־כָּל־הָאָדָ֞ם
        הִכּ֣וּ לְפִי־חֶ֗רֶב עַד־הִשְׁמִדָם֙ אוֹתָ֔ם לֹ֥א הִשְׁאִ֖ירוּ כָּל־נְשָׁמָֽה׃
        The Israelites kept all the spoil and cattle of the rest of those cities as booty. But they cut down their populations with the sword until they exterminated them; they did not spare a soul.

        But I think now we are getting into a very different and far wider discussion so I’ll stop here.

    • bo says:

      “there is no halakha forbidding a ceremony, which anyway is of no halakhic consequence”

      Forgive my brevity, but this – that a ceremony w/o direct halachic consequence isn’t forbidden by halacha – isn’t clear. See Chinuch 206 and Minchas Chinuch there #2, with Hashmatos, that a certain category of marital ceremonies which don’t take effect are indeed prohibited by D’oraisa law. Of course, for certain parties, this isn’t relevant.

    • nt says:

      This really goes beyond technicalities to the issue of chillul Hashem. It is someone publicly saying that he is not beholden to our the Torah Sheba’al Peh. He is claiming the right to reinterpret the Torah based on his subjective opinion and publicly condoning sinful behavior.

      Noone should be vilified for their temptations. Resisting temptation is always difficult, and we must keep that in mind. But there is a vast difference between those who fail in private and those who do so in public, proclaiming that they are acting virtuously. The latter is the definition of Chillul Hashem, which is the most serious aveirah of all.

  10. Shlomo Melech says:

    Every Orthodox Jewish institution is at fault for not rallying together against this evil.

    I think the problem is quite simple, no one has done a good job consistently and incessantly framing this in the simplest terms that are easy to understand and are irrefutable. Celebrating toevah relationships is no different then celebrating eating a Whopper at Burger King or flipping on a light switch on shabbos. These people are celebrating sin, plain and simple.

    Now is the time that all genuine orthodox leadership must come together unified condemning open orthodoxy and state it is assur to participate in anything remotely related to open orthodoxy. E.g. attend their “synagogues”.

    • micha berger says:

      But both the OU and the Agudah did!

      See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_Orthodoxy#Orthodox_response for more full coverage than I could have given you.

      • Shlomo Melech says:

        Not unified. Not psak halacha.

      • bo says:

        Interesting, btw, that at “https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_Orthodoxy#notable_members” the women haven’t landed on a specific title. Thus we have Maharat, Morateinu, Rabbanit, Rabba… but most significant is, as listed there, “Rav Rahel Berkovits”. This violates their spirited, oh so solemn, claim that the women don’t take male titles.

    • MK says:

      It is possible that Rabbi Weiss has shown a “very soft stance on homosexuality” in other ways and perhaps it can be argued that supporting the Supreme Court’s decision on gay marriage shows that softness.
      However, the main point of his linked article is that we need not treat a violator of this prohibition differently than one who violates Shabbos, Kashrus etc, and ( assuming that the person is not seeking “validation” ) that seems to be a proper Torah hashkafa and one that , in my opinion, needs to be stressed.
      Our community often assumes that while we show warmth, understanding and patience to a Shabbos violator, we need to “come down hard” on one who has this challenge and does not have the strength to withstand it. While the right balance on a communal level is complex, due to the movement to sanction a gay life style, on a personal level I think that what Avi Weiss says is correct .
      And while Rabbi Gordimer said that they should not be “judged or vilified” , they should actually be loved and treated the way I am sure he treats a Shabbos violator.

      • micha berger says:

        RAW’s position, as you put it, would be the same as R’ Yosef Blau’s (the head mashgiach at YU, now mostly emeritus) and consistent with R’ Aharon Feldman’s (RY of NIRC, but written well before RAF had his current role).

      • Shlomo Melech says:

        What you are saying is true for the violator. But others should not be celebrating the violation. Orthodox rabbis should not be condoning or officiating at toevah weddings. We would not have a party for or say mazel tov to a Jew who had their first ham sandwich, and certainly we shouldn’t do this with other aveiros like toevah relationships.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        Wishing someone Mazel Tov on such an occasion and presiding at a ceremony are means of legitimizing the Torah prohibits A Mchalel Shabbos May be included as a shul member but still remains Pasul LEdus someone who doesn’t keep kosher may very well be s wonderful person but would you trust their Kashrus?

      • nt says:

        Micha Berger: Rabbi Feldman has been one of the most outspoken critics of R’ Weiss. He devoted many shmuessen in yeshiva to criticizing OO as a whole. His talmid David Rosenthal has written a book on OO and contributed articles here on CC. His journal Dialogue devoted an issue to homosexuality and also has published articles criticizing OO.

        MK confuses kiruv rechokim with OO. We show warmth, understanding, and patience to anyone who is genuinely willing to learn and seeking to mend their ways. Also to people who may have started off frum but for whatever reason went off the derech and are trying to find their way back.
        But there is no way to “accommodate” people who want to identify as frum without fully committing to keeping all 613 mitzvos.

  11. MK says:

    I know first hand that ,on a personal level, as opposed to communal public policy, R Feldman would agree with what I wrote, even in his “current role”.

    • nt says:

      I was privileged to spend many years in Ner Israel, where I heard R’ Feldman categorically deny in speech after speech that Avi Weiss, YCT, and OO had any validity as rabbis or in Torah matters. Get ahold of the Fall 2014 issue of his journal Dialogue for his lengthy essay on OO. He also devoted an issue of his Dialogue to the Torah view of homosexuality. He also published a letter he wrote to a frum homosexual in his book “The Eye of the Storm.”

      Treating individuals struggling with temptation in private is one thing, that is dealt with on the “personal level.” Thus R’ Feldman advised a bochur (in the context of shidduchim) that if one knows someone has homosexual desires but does not know if he acts upon it, he is treated as a tzaddik like any other Jew (what is called a chezkas kashrus).

      However, there is a world of difference between one who sins in private and one who sins in public. In addition, there is another world of difference between one who admits that his behavior violates the Torah but does not attempt to justify it, and one who tries to twist verses and rabbinic sources to meanings the authors never intended. The latter is far more dangerous, because he undermines the very foundation of Torah Sheba’al Peh.

      A public marriage ceremony is by definition communal public policy. Anyone who publicly condones problematic behavior, or gives it the appearance of legitimacy by performing Jewish ceremonies for relationships deemed sinful by the Torah, is a Mechallel Hashem.

  12. Bob Miller says:

    The allegedly Orthodox Jews staging or participating in such ceremonies have a shaky attachment to truth, including truth in advertising. How could could any properly educated Jewish onlooker consider this rebellion against Torah to be Orthodox? If we had Nevi’im nowadays, we’d be hearing a lot of scathing comment. And the perpetrators would respond with the same insolent self-righteousness as in the old days.

  13. Mose says:

    Well said (again) R Gordimer.
    And remember YU’s own OO Barry Dolinger of Providence testified a few years back (and gathered international attention— as he craves) in the Rhode Island Senate in favor of “gay marriage.”

    • dr. bill says:

      Do you refer to the late Prof. Harry Wolfson as Slabodka’s own or to my classmate at Torah Vodaath who married outside our faith as TV’s own? Slabodka, in particular, produced a very large number of graduates that did not follow in the Yeshiva’s path. It is obvious why.

      • nt says:

        It is not obvious why at all. Slabodka produced the vast majority of post-war Gedolim: R Kotler, R’ Kamenetsky, R Meltzer, R Shach, R Ruderman, to name just a few.

      • dr. bill says:

        Slabodka chose young illuim and produced traditional (but unique) gedolim, 2 heads of Hildeshemer. the GRASH, as well as many who abandoned traditional practice. The atmos0here valued creativity and individuality, not group think.

    • Writer says:

      Legal gay marriage and orthodox gay marriage are not the same. Orthodox Jews do not have to fight laws sanctifying gay marriage in secular court. Jewish law is different.

  14. Steve Brizel says:

    We all have relatives who have intermarried or who are part of the LGBT lifestyle yet we don’t walk around and pretend that we approve of or legitimize their life’s choices and lifestyles that contradict Halacha Tolerance civility and good manners should never be confused with acceptance or legitimacy of such choices

    • Reb Yid says:

      But you are ignoring the question.

      What if they and their partners wish to be part of your shul? Your community? Eating meals with you?

      THAT is the question.

      Most of you would prefer to sit virual shiva for these individuals and their partners. But they are here. And they want to be involved in Jewish life–even Orthodox Jewish life.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        We would all be civil to such persons But we would not attend their meaningless and fraudulent ceremonies and legitimize the same because their lifestyles are a repudiation of being an Eved HAshem where freedom is defined as a life rooted in accepting and fulfillment ofDivine obligation Fake science and culture produces fake values in all areas of life OO is another means of legitimizing fake values and culture that are rejected by the Torah and Chazal

      • Bob Miller says:

        They want to have their cake and eat it, too. What is Jewish life if not life striving to fulfill HaShem’s express will? We all do fall short in some way or another but these people are making a commitment to defy Torah.

      • lacosta says:

        so i am curious—- who here would /would not allow their gay-married relatives to the shabbos table?

      • Sarah Elias says:

        While one can never be absolutely sure what one’s actions would be until the moment for action arrives, I am reasonably sure that I would not invite a gay “married” couple to my Shabbos table, even if they were ch”v my relatives. I also would not invite an inter”married” couple to my table. If that makes me politically incorrect or intolerant or whatever the current term is, so be it.

      • Raymond says:

        I have to agree with Sarah Elias here, with me perhaps taking it a step further. If G-d forbid I had a son who was gay, I would not only wonder why G-d has sent me such a curse, but no way would I ever allow his gay lover into my home. I would not want a person of that lifestyle in my home in any case. The only exception to this that I would have to make would be my son, just because he would be my son, but would also make it clear to him that I do not approve of his deviant, anti-Torah lifestyle.

  15. Steve Brizel says:

    Jewish life and Orthodox Jewish life demands obedience and submission to a set of obligations as opposed to being granted rights and entitlements to express ones personality . There is no sense of being Lifnei HaShem without obedience and submission to Torah and Mitzvos Same gender ceremonies and all ceremonies that are not rooted in Halacha In any way are fraudulent Many of us may not sit shiva for an intermarried couple and are tolerant of such a couple after their ceremony but we would never go to such s ceremony involving s relative or a friend

  16. Alan says:

    Rabbi Gordimer proclaims homophobia to be “an imaginary disorder fabricated so as to disparage and shame those who do not accept homosexuality.” And yet he proves with these very words how real this disorder is. His statement makes it clear that, in his mind, being gay — and not just acting on it in the way described in the verse in Vayikra — is an unnatural state (it cannot be “accepted”) even though, like left-handedness, it exists in every community, in every generation, and is (for the great majority) an immutable part of who they are.

    If that’s not what he means, I would appreciate it if he should clarify his views.

    And while he’s at it, I’d like him to address the following question: who, in the Orthodox Jewish community, suffers more from “disparagement and shame” as evidenced by high rates of depression and suicide? Is it the gay Jew who hears every day (from the Rabbi Gordimers of our community) how unnatural he is? Or is it — as Rabbi Gordimer seems to think — those would like to drive them and their families out of our community?

    • Bob Miller says:

      I suppose every action that is disparaged and shamed in our Torah now needs instead to be celebrated, so no one will ever decide to improve.

      • dr. bill says:

        more than callous – “decide to improve.” can you decide to grow 6 inches or add 20 points to your IQ? if you really believe that no homosexuals are wired that way, then what you assert makes a modicum of sense.

        the science is in flux and undoubtedly tainted by liberal bias. But when it becomes a recognized and stable scientific consensus, how do you think various sides will react?

      • Bob Miller says:

        Dr. Bill

        Why are you so confident of this “hard wiring?” If it was factual and it completely dictated behavior, would the Torah explicitly forbid acting it out? With a very serious punishment? Alternatively, what you see is one manifestation of the yetzer hara. Not everyone has the same yetzer hara in type or intensity. Everyone has to struggle on some level against their inclinations.
        When mental illness disrupts normal human functioning, do we laud the abnormal functioning or try to overcome it?

      • dr. bill says:

        Bob Miller, I am convinced because of what I have read and because of serious conversations with people whose objectivity I respect. Like most of nature that exhibits a continuum, homosexuality probably also abides by a continuum. How we are to deal with different people along that continuum, is above my pay-grade. But how to respond to people who do not recognize a continuum is something for which I know how to respond. Lomotzasi la’guf tov mi’shetikah.

        I am almost done reading the autobiography of Prof. Dovid HaLivni, a book I strongly recommend. He talks of 3 things that we cannot tolerate, including asking why God tolerated the Shoah or even more obnoxious people who give pathetic answers like a response to German haskalah. I feel similarly about questions about why we have homosexuals or children born without the ability to live. These are difficult questions; I have NEVER seen on these sort of blogs a single serious attempt to discuss such matters in light of the works of Rishonim who grappled seriously with such issues. Unfortunately, simple-minded Emunah peshutah, which needs help in these areas, reigns supreme, in spite of obvious challenges.

      • Bob Miller says:

        Dr. Bill wrote, “I have NEVER seen on these sort of blogs a single serious attempt to discuss such matters in light of the works of Rishonim who grappled seriously with such issues. ”

        OK, try doing just that. You get space here as we all do.

      • dr. bill says:

        Bob Miller, Even given my prodigious 🙂 skills, addressing why “bad things happening to righteous/innocent people” cannot even be outlined in a few paragraphs. In the interim assume such things happen.

      • Bob Miller says:

        Dr Bill,

        If the comment format is too restrictive, why not submit a full article? Other guest authors have done so.

      • dr. bill says:

        Bob, i publish only on areas of expertise and elsewhere

      • Bob Miller says:

        OK, Dr. Bill, but could you find a qualified writer, who supports your general position, to offer Cross-Currents an article?

      • dr. bill says:

        bob miller, the qualified writers i know would probably not want to publish on a blog where the commenters include people lacking the knowledge/background to comment cogently. this is a complex theological/philosophical topic where training is required

      • Bob Miller says:

        OK, Dr. Bill:
        Your experts could publish somewhere for a worthy audience. Citations, please. Or is their wisdom not reduced to writing yet? If not, why not?

      • dr. bill says:

        Bob Miller, read anything written explaining Rambam in the first part of MN on divine providence or anything written on the end of the third part that Rambam introduced by – …now a great insight has occurred to me… These need to be carefully compared to Rambam’s listing of 5 approaches to providence earlier in part 3. Remember, Rambam was not writing (without contradiction and obfuscation) for the uninitiated in philosophical debate; many traditional commentators are wholly uneducated in ancient and medieval philosophy and sadly unsophisticated in their understanding of providence and tzaddik ve’rah lo.

    • Wondering what's going on says:

      How do you know homosexuality existed in every generation? Studies show the opposite, that a same-sex attraction identity started only in the twentieth century. All the Greeks who engaged in same sex relationships didn’t identify that way or feel they only could love the same gender. It was pure lust. So yes, it is unnatural.

      • dr. bill says:

        If a major posek was convinced that you were correct, the potential implications would be obvious. sadly, the earth is not flat and there have been many bisexuals and homosexuals throughout history. but nice try.

    • Nachum says:

      No, Dr. Bill, you’re wrong. There of course have always been people who *engaged* in homosexual acts- otherwise the Torah wouldn’t have told us not to do it- sometimes, although rarely, exclusively or near-exclusively so. But apart from some rare possible cases in the late 1800’s, none of them saw that as an “identity” until very, very recently. Oscar Wilde didn’t, for example. The Greeks did it all the time and still saw it as a bit off.

      • dr. bill says:

        Nachum, in what seif is punishment for mishkav zachor contingent on how someone refers to himself. If to prior generation is was just lust by people who could equally well engage in a meaningful heterosexual relationship, the possibility of a halakhic approach might emerge. these issues are above my pay-grade.

  17. Reader says:

    Once again, יישר כחך, giant kudos to Rav Gordimer שליט”א for, a la his namesake, our forefather Abraham, אברהם אבינו, standing up in a world of שקר, and proclaiming the Torah truth in public. This being עומד בפרץ, courageously exposing and speaking out against this terrible contemporary perversion of Judaism, is a great deed, which is also mitigates קיטרוג ר”ל on כלל ישראל, though like minded individuals should speak out as well, or at least support and disseminate Rav Gordimer’s words to demonstrate their standing with him.

    יישר כחך רב אברהם, ה’ עמך גבור חיל

  18. Reader says:

    “Rabbi Gordimer proclaims homophobia to be “an imaginary disorder fabricated so as to disparage and shame those who do not accept homosexuality.”

    Rav Gordimer shlit”a is right.

    I could imagine some of the same people, in the time of אברהם אבינו, our forefather Abraham, accusing him of idol-phobia, for destroying his father’s idols, instead of being tolerant of them.

    • Reb Yid says:

      Dear Reader:

      Do you have any close friends who are homosexual? Relatives? Teachers? Students?

      This blog seems to really, really love blaming victims.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        I am sure that many of us have such relatives We do not view them as victims but as wonderful people who are living a lifestyle that cannot be condoned by the Torah .Chazal were aware of Greco Roman hedonism which had a strong same gender element to it and the championing of celibacy as sanctity by Christianity and rejected both by de going much time and debate to the formation of the Jewish family

        As far as science is concerned the far left going back to Lysenko in the USSR also falsified science to suit a now disgraced political agend

      • Reader says:

        Enough of the identity politics and the victim mentality. Human beings can grow, they are not stuck forever.

        If some people have been traumatized and have some conditions and handicaps, they can have them cured and alleviated, with Hashem’s help.

        ב”ה I live among strong Yidden who have not been compromised by toeivah propaganda the way some weaker one have, ר”ל.

  19. Shades of Gray says:

    “a robust “Orthodox” gay rights movement has formed…Although those suffering from same-sex attraction should not be judged or vilified”

    There was a recent Jewish Week article about a sitcom on Modern Orthodox dating which risked alienating some of its fan base by featuring an episode involving LGBTQ characters. The episode was sponsored by JQU and Eshel, and the producers justified their risk since “including marginalized voices in the Orthodox Jewish community has always been at the core of the show’s mission”(the Summer, 2019 Jewish Action had a feature on this single population; JQU is complicated because they intervene in issues such as school bullying).

    The above Jewish Week article included an email from R. Avi Shafran(which was copied from an earlier, June article on JQU):

    “Despite strong headwinds, JQY has managed to negotiate meetings with representatives from nearly every mainstream Orthodox and charedi institution, from the Orthodox Union to Agudath Israel of America, the largest charedi Orthodox umbrella group.

    Rabbi Avi Shafran, director of public affairs for Agudath Israel, acknowledged that representatives from the group had met with JQY. In an email, he qualified that “an organization committed to all of the Torah’s ideals, like Agudath Israel, cannot in good conscience really ‘work together’ as a group with groups like JQY, other than to stand ready to meet with representatives of the group, and to listen to or counsel individuals the group might choose to refer to us.”

    The JHC Lights Chinese Auction in early 2018(video available online) had a discussion between Moshe Bane, R. Yaakov Horowitz and Eytan Kobre, who were trying to come up with an Orthodox approach to homosexuality.

    • MK says:

      “an imaginary disorder fabricated so as to disparage and shame those who do not accept homosexuality.”
      It would be fine had Rabbi Gordimer said, “those who do not accept a homosexual lifestyle”. That is a principled position based on the Torah.
      Not accepting “homosexuality” is something. If it means not accepting the reality that there are those with SSA that’s ignorance.
      And if means not being accepting of one who is a homosexual that is not only deserving of the term “homophobia” but is also a distortion of Torah. And it is , sadly, prevalent in our Torah communities. I have seen the literal destruction of a beautiful Ben Torah and a beautiful human being who had valiantly battled this challenge for decades. Horrific things were said about him and to his children. People stopped doing business with him. All despite the fact that all that was known was that he had the inclination. (And even had he acted on the inclination, there is no justification for the treatment he received.)
      There is an excellent word for such an attitude. It is not imaginary at all ….

      • StevevBrizel says:

        We will never stop learning Acharei Mos Kedoshim and the very contemporary meaning of its content as explicated by Chazal We will always champion a Bayis Neeman BYisrael as the first bulwark and means of transmission of Torah Avodah and Gmilus Chasasadim No professive radical feminist and LGBT propaganda and fake science and religion will ever change that

    • Nachum says:

      Ah, that’s why they made that episode. They needed the money. (Apparently their previous plan of charging for views didn’t work.) I don’t know if that’s better or worse.

      The Israeli show that seems to have been its forerunner also dealt with the gays, but in a very different way. (The gay character becomes charedi, marries, and seems to be happy.)

      An internet personality- Chabad, I think- who’s become famous for throwing Super Bowl parties for homeless people decided to throw a dream date for a couple on Valentine’s Day. (One already starts to wonder about his priorities.) And of the millions of couples in the New York area, he davka chose a gay one. He knew *exactly* what he was doing.

  20. bo says:

    What model is best for categorizing so-called “wired” gays? But first, does their “wiring” exempt them from the Torah prohibition? If not, shall we assume that they are being put to a virtually super-human test which they are required to pass? If so, the model would be that of addiction: once the person has the correct attitude and awareness, we provide as much support as possible, but take care not to glorify it, lest it become less grave in the eyes of the non-wired, carrying as it does, the “mandatory maximum penalty allowed by law”, Skilah. (Not that if were of lesser severity it could be any more tolerated….)

    If OTOH their “wiring” does exempt them from the Torah prohibition–but this needs confirmation from a qualified Posek (has anyone asked?)–the model might be from YD 178:2, where a קרוב למלכות וצריך ללבוש במלבושיהם ולדמות להם מותר בכל (מה שנזכר בסעיף א). Now here again if there’s a concern that an allowance is likely to spread to the non-exempt, we must take care that the perceived gravity of the law not be lessened, such that we only support the exempt but not glorify them. And occasionally call attention that for all others the prohibition remains in its full severity.

    • cohen NB says:

      According to you ,anyone born with an urgent predilection to murder or shoplifting will be unable to control themselves ??

      Should we tolerate them ??

  21. bo says:

    “And occasionally call attention that for all others the prohibition remains in its full severity”… AS NEEDED.

    • cohen NB says:

      A Gadol said some decades ago

      “The greste k’fira in heintige tzeitin, is k’fira in bechira !!”

      • dr. bill says:

        cohen NB, RAL ztl in a hashkafah shiur about 55 years ago, expressed this idea with greater precision. In medieval times, notions like predetermination challenged our belief in behirah. Today, psychology plays a similar role. But all of us do not have the identical range of possibilities. Nature or nurture will impact the precise field of possibilities within which our behirah can operate.

  22. rkz says:

    Since we are dealing with outright kefira, we should also remember that a kofer can not be counted in a minyan, can not be motzii other yidden in any mitzvah, and any (non mevushal) wine that he touces is assur.

  23. c-l,c says:

    According to studies less than 8% of population have desires purely within heterosexual normative bounds. That means in all lilkelihood, your parents, grandparents,their cousins , and/or their parents,grandparents,etc.,etc. have had within some ‘inappropriate’ SSA desire of some sort and fashion .
    DID they act on it?Would the world be the same place today if they would have ?
    To the often stated challenge: how bad could it be if they are not physically affecting anyone else?
    Many times a spy subverts and destroys a whole society without doing anything criminal at all.
    A Russian defector wrote in the ’80s that the Commies poured ten of millions of $ to build up and promote deviance since they understood that this will bring down western values and thereby western society.

    the whole concept of Yehareg V’al yaavor means just what it says. give up even your life if that is what it takes
    there is never a justification of Oness. iirc the Gemara says for z’nus even for less “Let him expire”

    Furthermore ,Once they promote themselves , parade and force legislation ,they are forcing themselves on everyone else
    their goal as many have stated is to reduce everyone else at best to 2nd or 3rd class members of society

    Those who believe to be Smitten by unresolvable SSA
    Such a person should stay behind the shtender or devote themselves to the klal
    There have been, in the past, more than a few such cases

    Do you[plural] believe in the cardinal precepts of your religion for all Humankind ,or.. ??
    Do you believe these these developments cause downward spiral and degradation of every society ??

    For your own enrichment perhaps read up on the research of Thornhill and Palmer ,that anything is inevitable due to genetics,environment,etc.:

    “The findings of science have nothing to say about what is morally right or wrong.. The identification of the evolutionary basis of a trait implies nothing about the moral rightness of the trait. To think otherwise is to commit the “naturalistic fallacy”, a fallacy that some critics of our work continue to make despite having the fallacious logic of their position explained many times by evolutionary scientists. “

    It should further satisfy who gets to define the sexuality consensus:
    “Thornhill and Palmer consistently state that their theory does not justify rape and argue that their aim is to eradicate the behaviour, but they have nonetheless encountered vehement opposition wherever they have gone. Scheduled lectures have been cancelled..

    Almost as contentious as their theory of why men rape has been Thornhill and Palmer’s recommendations for how to prevent it. They have drawn fire for their suggestion that young women be advised of the dangers of plunging necklines and short skirts.”


    When two scientists announced that rape is a “natural adaptation”, controversy was bound to follow. But with weeks still to go before the UK publication of Randy Thornhill and Craig Palmer’s book, A Natural History of Rape: The Biological Bases of Sexual Coercion, there has already been an eruption of criticism…

    All aspects of living things, including morphology, physiology, cognition and behaviour, result from a complex interaction of genes and environmental factors. Genes alone do not determine any aspect of living things, and neither do environmental factors. Indeed, the interaction of genes and environment is so intertwined that no aspect of a living thing can be accurately depicted as either primarily genetic or environmental..

    Neither does the identification of the evolutionary basis of a trait imply anything about the inevitability of the trait, a point many recent critics of our work also fail to comprehend. Instead, identification of the specific ways that genes interact with the environment to produce a behaviour can increase our ability to change the environment in ways that will decrease the chances of the behaviour taking place..

  24. cohen NB says:


    & LGBT propagandize to the straight kids that your sexual wiring is malleable!

  25. Mark says:

    Note to self (and anyone else who might read all this and leave confused):

    Although commenters such as Dr. Bill and the dubiously titled “Reb Yid” would have you believe that the matter is not as clear as it seems, or that ch”v gedolim such as Rav Avigdor Miller zt”l were “obnoxious” because of their views, don’t be fooled by their double-speak.
    It’s quite clear – the Torah expressedly forbids acting on one’s homosexual tendencies. Furthermore, while individuals who suffer (yes – suffer – in case anyone is worried about whether this is judgmental) from this predilection are worthy and deserving of our moral support and love, when they aggressively insist that we accept their “lifestyle” and condone it, they are entirely unworthy of such. Those who insist on flaunting their unacceptable behavior are contemptible in the eyes of the Torah and nothing will change that.

  26. bo says:

    Thanks to all for the responses to my question above. I didn’t have any “according to you”. I kept the choices open to try to get to the actual starting point of the discussion, and trim away the peripherals, which only reduce clarity. So apparently the starting point is what does the Halachah say. I gave two choices, one correct and one wrong/illegitimate. And I didn’t specify which is which.

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