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October 22, 2014 / 28 Tishri, 5775
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Homosexuality and Going OTD

Orthodox in prayer

Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

http://haemtza.blogspot.co.il/2012/07/homosexuality-and-going-otd_3460.html

There is yet another article (published in The Times of Israel) that is sympathetic to Orthodox Jews who are homosexual. Asher Zeiger laments the fact that these Jews are so often shunned by the mainstream Orthodox institutions that many of them end up going OTD.

Mr. Zeiger wonders why it is that Orthodox Jews have such a hard time accepting gay Jews into their community while other sinners are easily accepted. Here is how he puts it:

Yes, the Torah forbids homosexuality. But there is far more biblical text devoted to Sabbath observance, business dealings, unleavened bread on Passover, and a litany of sexual improprieties, than the couple of verses that discuss homosexuality. Nobody’s relationship with God should be defined by the mitzvot that they do not keep.

Those who do not keep many other mitzvot are (hopefully) accepted as equal members of the Jewish community — with a handful of exceptions made for those whose violations have seriously harmed other people. So why can we not see and accept homosexuals in the same way that we see and accept Jews who do not observe the Shabbat and festivals, or do not eat strictly kosher food?

He suggests a possible explanation:

Maybe the problem lies in the inability of most heterosexuals to understand homosexuality in the same way that we can relate to the attraction of, say, driving to the beach on Shabbat, or eating whatever and wherever we wish. And don’t get me started on the appeal of just giving in to our basest natural sexual urges.

But we don’t “get” homosexuality in the same way, and all too often, the natural reaction to what people cannot understand is to attack, belittle and invalidate. It is as though by delegitimizing it, people are absolved from having to understand, let alone accept it.

I’m not sure this really explains it. Although there are people who are not repulsed by homosexual behavior there are probably many more people who are. These are not bad people. They just have a natural revulsion to such behavior. No matter how open-minded one is about this subject they just cannot get past it.

Why is this sin different from other sins – including other sins in the Torah labeled a Toevah (abomination)? From the article:

To eat any of the animals, fish and birds listed as unkosher (Deuteronomy 14) is considered a to’eva, as are dishonest business practices (Deuteronomy 25:13-16).

These sins are also called Toevah and yet they do not seem to really repulse most people – even though they probably should.

It is therefore easy to see why there is so much depression among homosexuals. Sometimes even leading to suicide. Despite the current social and political pressure to normalize homosexuality there still seems to be an undercurrent of popular resistance to it. Mr Zeiger observes (correctly in my view) that we still live in “a largely gay-unfriendly world” and that “homosexuality is the target of the kind of hatred and vitriol otherwise reserved for only the sleaziest of pedophiles and the fans of arch-rival sports teams.”

It is no small wonder than why many formerly Orthodox Gay Jews go OTD.

That is indeed sad.

I can’t do anything about innate negative feelings. But I think it behooves those of us who may have them to overcome them and treat fellow human beings who have same sex attractions no less honorably than we do people guilty of other Toevos. As Mr. Zeiger puts it. We all sin. But not all of us sin the same way. By being so repulsed we end up turning these people away leaving them with a feeling of abandonment and being hated by their fellow Jews. Jews who are otherwise decent people.

When decent society rejects you… how are you supposed to feel?!

Shouldn’t we be bringing them close to us instead of pushing them away? Like we would with any Jew? Shouldn’t we be encouraging them to observe as many Mitzvos as they can? Of what value is it to turn away from them with the obvious revulsion so often expressed by an anti-gay zealot like this Levin character (pictured above)? What does he accomplish other than causing people to go OTD?

About the Author: Harry Maryles runs the blog "Emes Ve-Emunah" which focuses on current events and issues that effect the Jewish world in general and Orthodoxy in particular. It discuses Hashkafa and news events of the day - from a Centrist perspctive and a philosphy of Torah U'Mada. He can be reached at hmaryles@yahoo.com.


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5 Responses to “Homosexuality and Going OTD”

  1. julietrosenthal says:

    “Should the anus be used as a sex organ?”

    If two people use their parts in that manner, why should you care? Does another couple in a gay relationship infringe on your property rights being infringed? Does another couple’s gay relationships — in any way, shape, or form — cause tangible harm to you? Absolutely not.

    Long story short, its none of your business what consenting people do in the privacy of their own home, no matter how gross you think it is.

  2. Yehuda Cohen says:

    Just the thought of homosexuality makes me feel repulsive. I have had homosexual friends knowing that they were homosexual but the “friendships” always came to an end for their relationships were/are based on one thing only – sex – of which I strongly refuse and then ended the “friendship”. This means that homosexuals CANNOT have normal human friendly relationships without it leading to the performance of their sexual perversion.
    Also, just as we as human beings cannot determine the worth of any mitzvoth; so too, can we then determine the degree of any sin? Thus, to compare homosexuality with Shabbat desecration is not only ignorant but it’s like comparing apples with oranges to say it in the most kind manner.
    To believe that “its none of your business what consenting people do in the privacy of their own home, no matter how gross you think it is” are seemingly the words of Bilaam who considered himself “Orthodox” for he talked with G-d; yet, he had sexuality with his donkey. And where did he end up? You homosexuals and supporters of the same should that that as an object lesson.

  3. Yehuda Cohen says:

    Correction:…should take that as an object lesson.

  4. Mike Olshefsky says:

    Dave I'm happy you came out.

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