Response to Response

Dear R’Avrohom,

Thank you for the thoughtful response to my post. Yom Tov begins shortly and does not allow for a full response, but I’d like to address two issues that you, and many readers, made. Excuse me for the brevity.

  1. The terms we use to describe people: The article was not limited to people who have same sex attraction. Trying to describe a group of people, I chose to use a term that is commonly used and readily understood. I do not believe that more needs to be read into it, but I understand the objection.
  2. The analogy used: Broadly speaking, there are two categories of people who do not keep Shabbos; those who do so b’farhesya mamesh, driving their convertible past shul on Shabbos, honking their horn, and waving at those making their way to shul, and then there all the others. (I also do not know anyone in the first category.) The same two categories exist regarding the topic at hand. I am surprised that this obvious distinction was not readily understood and that the two categories were conflated. The larger population is certainly the many people in our community who are grappling with these questions and not making public proclamations.

If I could be a little presumptuous, I would assume that the reason readers did not naturally think of this second category of people, stems from a lack of interaction with anyone in this population. With a little more compassion, which is what I was advocating for, not in any way wavering in our beliefs nor subscribing to a dry and technical observance of Torah, more members of this population will feel comfortable bringing these questions to our leaders. A little more awareness of this population will also help our principals, rabbanim, and teachers, be prepared to address the growing number of young boys and girls who have questions on this topic and about themselves.

R’Avrohom, you have stood at the breach and have fought important battles against those who have advocated for a distortion of our Torah. I believe we share a serious concern for ideas that are gaining traction in our society that are antithetical to our Mesorah. Can we, in addition to waging wars, create an environment that allows the many who are not ideologically bent and are grappling with an impossible challenge feel comfortable enough to come forward? There are so many shailos waiting to be asked, so many teenagers who are utterly confused, so many brokenhearted parents who are embarrassed to seek hadracha. The language we use, the tone we employ, and the messages we send, will allow for these conversations to take place, enabling our Poskim to draw upon their knowledge of our immutable Torah, and strengthening the Torah and the Jewish People in the process.

A gutten Yom Tov,

Yisrael Motzen

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12 Responses

  1. Nachum says:

    “If I could be a little presumptuous, I would assume that the reason readers did not naturally think of this second category of people, stems from a lack of interaction with anyone in this population. With a little more compassion…”

    My God, could you *be* any more presumptuous? Could Satan be any more clever in convincing us that a mortal sin is a mitzvah?

    Trust me, many of know a lot more sexual deviants than you do, and a lot better.

  2. Yossi says:

    The reason no one understood the distinction you claim to have been making is specifically because you refer to them as the LGBTQ+ COMMUNITY. That term makes them sound very different than individuals who are mechalel Shabbos. You didn’t refer to them as the MECHALEL SHABBOS community.

    So I’m surprised that you’re surprised.

    It’s worth listening to the 18Forty podcast (Dovid Bashevkin) where he interviews Rabbi Menachem Penner and his openly gay son, Gedaliah Robinson. At the end of the podcast, Rabbi Penner states (and I have so much admiration for the way he states it) some to Ingelheim along the lines of “We have to make sure that, while expressing empathy with people with these struggles, that we don’t give off the impression that we wish the Torah/Halacha was different about this. We don’t; we trust in Hashem’s Divine Wisdom and accept it.”

    • Yitzchok says:

      I agree with you. Motzen’s characterization made it sound as if LGBTQ+ people in our community. If they’re a part of said community they are passul. Attraction is one thing. To identify as gay is another. We must be emphasize with those who struggle but if they identify as LGBTQ they show that they believe the Torah to be archaic.

  3. David Rosenthal says:

    Originally, you wrote about shuls where there’d be an “uproar if a gay man got the same honor.” You must be aware, such an uproar is not in a situation where the individual is privately struggling with these issues. Have you seen this?

    Furthermore, one is able to fight “important battles against those who have advocated for a distortion of our Torah” on a communal level while simultaneously being sensitive and caring to the individual. I have seen numerous rabbis do just that.

  4. Dan says:

    It saddens me to hear so many hateful comments and responses to this article from people claiming to be carrying Hashem’s banner.

    I am surprised to hear so much from people who have had so limited contact with homosexuals or transgender persons present such strong opinions, ostensibly under the name of the Torah.

    Before framing LGBT people as a lifestyle, ideology or deviance, how many of you have spoken in depth with them in order to understand their struggles? How many of you have read what the world’s leading experts in medicine and mental health (including frum ones) have to say on the subject?

    Being heterosexual or homosexual, for example, is an trait a person has, not different from being born with blue or brown eyes. All humans are born Betzelem Elokim, including the ones Hashem chose to be LGBT and I’m sure all of them just need to find a place in the world where they can be loved as they are. Labeling people as broken, deviant or worse for something they have no control over is evil.

    It is an evil that for millennia have driven LGBT people to live in fear, shame, physical and psychological distress, suicide and societal shunning.

    It is an evil that have caused throngs of people to live double lives, on one hand pretending to be outstanding straight members of their families and communities, while acting promiscuously in the shadows, while putting their spouses and children at risk.

    The reason a so called “LGBT community” exists is to offer refuge from this evil, not an agenda to wage war on Hashem and the Torah

    How many LGBT people are out there with an agenda to just to flaunt Torah? How many LGBT people are out there that their sole goals is to spit in the face of the frum community? Framing LGBT people as such is just an easy way to excuse spewing the prejudice and hatred I see here.

    So can we have a respectful and really considerate conversation on the matter without the hatred? Can we find a way in Hashem’s love and Torah to include everyone?

    • Steven Brizel says:

      I think that your analysis of history is incorrect The Torah and Chazal rejected Greco Roman hedonism and celibacy both of which have strong SSA tendencies and viewed the conventional family as the means for transmission of moral values It is no coincidence that Nazis and Communists sought to uproot our values by mainstreaming the decadence of alternative lifestyles

      • Sarah Elias says:

        I would disagree with your analysis of recent history here. The Nazis and Communists were actually quite straitlaced when it came to alternative lifestyles. Homosexuals were a persecuted group under the Nazis, along with gypsies, Witnesses and lehavdil Jews. Communist governments punished deviance quite harshly as well. None of which, of course, is to say that those who disapprove of deviant lifestyles are in any way comparable to Nazis or Communists, but just to set the record straight.

  5. Shani says:

    People who think homosexual behavior is wrong are not hateful. I think many sexual behaviors are wrong…adultery, incest, etc. I don’t hate anyone. Stop accusing everyone of hating when they disagree or argue.
    Could we stop with the not keeping Shabbes analogies. Just forget it. We don’t need analogies. Just focus on the topic. What are solutions for frum gay people? Maybe there isn’t one and that’s the problem.

    • David Ohsie says:

      @Shani: Do you think that gay high school kids who are not sexually active should be told to stay in the closet. Do you think they should be sent to conversion therapy? Do you approve of JONAH/JIFGA’s attempt to perform conversion therapy?

  6. Mark says:

    It saddens me to see so many people paint the Torah and it’s adherents as hateful. Everyone is created B’tzelem Elokim, even those who choose to adhere to the values that the Torah holds so dear and we need to remember that.

    Even if those individuals cannot countenance the current zeitgeist that seeks to glorify behavior that is antithetical to Torah values, that’s not a reason to despise these people or act as if they’re intolerant bigots. They’re people with feelings and values and they deserve our love and compassion.

    Can we find a way to treat those people with respect and not with venomous comments about how bigoted and narrowminded they are? Can we find a way in Hashem’s love and Torah to include them too?

    See – two can play this game.

    • David Ohsie says:

      @Mark have you been shamed for these opinions of your from childhood and sent away to a reeducation camp to have your opinions changed. Was it a big life breakthrough for you when you had the fortitude to make your post?

      • Bob Miller says:

        Committed Torah Jews don’t back down, no matter how many specious arguments, attempts at shaming, and other ploys are thrown at them.

        It’s still difficult to come out in public for abominations, and it should be.

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