web analytics
November 26, 2014 / 4 Kislev, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
IDC Herzliya Campus A Day on Campus

To mark IDC Herzliya’s 20th anniversary, we spent a day following Prof. Uriel Reichman, IDC’s founder and president, and Jonathan Davis, VP for External Relations, around its delightful campus.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Orthodox Homosexuals And The Pursuit Of Self-Indulgence


Recently, while doing research for a news article I was writing for The Jewish Press, I found myself watching a YouTube clip concerning Jewish homosexuals. About two minutes into the clip, my heart suddenly dropped. There speaking on my computer screen was a young man I had once known as a sweet frum boy. Today – as I discovered from the YouTube video – he is an open homosexual.

I don’t know when this young man – I’ll call him Dovid – declared himself a homosexual. As I watched the clip, my mind wandered back to the summer I served as his waiter in camp; when I took him around an amusement park on the camp’s grand trip; when he looked to me as his anchor as he dared go on his first roller coaster.

Seeing him speak shamelessly as a homosexual on YouTube pained me. “Why?” I asked Dovid’s image on my computer screen, as if he could somehow hear me. “Why must you publicize your orientation for the whole world to know?”

Being attracted to other men while growing up in an Orthodox Jewish community must be difficult for any young male. And keeping one’s struggles private can be lonely and depressing. But are closeted homosexuals the only ones who struggle in solitude and silence? Don’t tens of thousands of Orthodox teenagers and young adults – to say nothing of older men and women who never married – struggle silently with their attraction to the opposite sex?

For so many issues, one can attend lectures that offer chizuk and advice. Hardly any for this issue. In so many areas of life one can discuss personal difficulties with friends. Not in this area. Some individuals hint at their struggles to a particular rebbe to whom they feel close, and here and there one may also encounter allusions to this topic in various sefarim. By and large, though, unmarried heterosexual Orthodox Jews suffer in solitude.

But do those Jews complain? Do Catholic priests, the overwhelming majority of whom remain celibate their entire lives, complain? No. They wage their internal battles quietly, recognizing that not every topic need be discussed openly and not every feeling need be publicized and validated.

Why, then, can’t Orthodox homosexuals do the same? Why can’t they struggle silently and heroically as do so many others?

Instead of complaining that no one understands them, why can’t they see their battle as an opportunity to reach unique levels of righteousness? Most contemporary Jewish thinkers view marital relations positively, but Judaism has always had an ascetic streak as well. The Rambam’s son, Rabbeinu Avraham, seems to extol the Talmudic sage Ben Azzai and the prophets Eliyahu and Elisha who never married (see chapters 10-12 in his Hamaspik L’Ovdei Hashem). Moshe Rabbeinu of course did marry, but according to the Talmud he never knew his wife intimately after spending 40 days and nights in communion with God. According to this line of thinking, those Jews who find it impossible to marry a woman can arguably reach levels of holiness unattainable by others.

But many Orthodox homosexuals seem uninterested in attaining spiritual greatness or in struggling with their feelings like so many of their brethren. Instead, they declare that we must recognize them. We must acknowledge their desires. We must affirm their feelings.

Why do they demand this recognition?

No single explanation provides a full answer, but contemporary culture deserves a large share of the blame. We live in a self-centered society where the only thing that matters is “me” and “my feelings.” Duty is passé. An emotionally stable life has replaced the well-lived life as man’s highest goal. As Federal Judge Janice Rogers Brown once said, “To be or not to be is no longer the question. The question is: How do you feel?”

And if subjective feelings rather than objective truth are of paramount importance, why shouldn’t homosexuals tell the whole world about their innermost desires? “Why should I hide a part of myself?” they ask. “It’s me. It’s who I am.”

Jewish thought teaches one to be embarrassed of one’s failings, to hide one’s flaws from man and God, to repress one’s base characteristics and desires. To be holy, according to many Jewish thinkers (see, for example, Rashi on Leviticus 19:2), is to avoid prohibited sexual thoughts and deeds. Not for naught did God seal His covenant with the Jewish people with the bris milah. “This is the summons the seal of Abraham brings to you – stifle animal desires at their outset, stifle them at their birth,” writes Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch in his Horeb. “To keep this seal of the covenant as something holy is fundamental to the eternity of [the Jewish] people.”

But openly homosexual Orthodox Jews apparently care little about the very essence of what it means to be a servant of God and demand that everyone accept them as they are. Their needs, their wants, their desires are what matters.

Will Dovid ever return to being that sweet innocent boy I remember? I don’t know. But at the very least, we may be able to prevent others like him from descending down the wrong path if we reexamine our society’s self-centered, feelings-based culture and take efforts to transform it to one revolving around virtue, duty, and the divine mandate.

Elliot Resnick is a Jewish Press staff reporter and a Ph.D. student at Yeshiva University’s Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies.

About the Author: Elliot Resnick is a Jewish Press staff reporter and author of “Movers and Shakers: Sixty Prominent Personalities Speak Their Mind on Tape” (Brenn Books).


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Orthodox Homosexuals And The Pursuit Of Self-Indulgence”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Hadassah Ein Kerem Medical Center.
Arab Charged with 3 Arson Attempts at Hadassah Hospital, Where He Worked
Latest Indepth Stories

It seems to us that while the Jewish entitlement to the land of Israel transcends the Holocaust, the Jewish experience during that tragic time is the most solid of foundations for these “national rights.”

Too many self-styled civil rights activists seemed determined to force, by their relentless pressure, an indictment regardless of what an investigation might turn up.

Israeli Ambassador to Egypt Chaim Koren presents his credentials to President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi on Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014, at the presidential palace in Cairo.

Egypt’s al-Sisi is in an expansionist mood. He wants Israel’s permission to take over Judea and Samaria.

Cries of justice for Michael Brown drowned out any call for justice for Police Officer Daryl Wilson.

Cloistered captain Obama, touts his talents and has the temerity to taunt Bibi,his besieged ally

Former PM Ariel Sharon succinctly said, “the fate of Netzarim (Gush Katif) is the fate of Tel-Aviv.”

“What’s a line between friends?”

Unrest in YESHA and J’m helps Abbas and Abdullah defuse anger, gain politically and appear moderates

A “Shliach” means to do acts with complete devotion and dedication in order to help bring Moshiach.

The pogroms in Chevron took place eighty five years ago, in 1929; the Holocaust began seventy-five years ago in 1939; the joint attack of Israel’s neighbors against the Jewish State of Israel happened sixty-six years ago… yet, world history of anti-Semitism did not stop there, but continues until today. Yes, the primitive reality of Jews […]

“We don’t just care for the children; we make sure they have the best quality of life.”

“Why do people get complacent with the things they’re told?”

Arab opposition to a Jewish State of any size was made known by word and deed in the form of terror

Operation Moses: First time in history that non-blacks came to Africa to free blacks from oppression

As Arabs murder and maim Jews, Jordan’s leaders bark the blood libel of “Israeli aggression.”

More Articles from Elliot Resnick
Daniel Jonah Goldhagen

You can’t say “Jewish French,” “Jewish British,” “Jewish Italian.” They are “French Jews,” “British Jews,” and “Italian Jews” – because they’re seen as Jews first and residents or citizens of their countries second.

Joshua Klein

Another thing they have been covering up is the nature of the building that was attacked. To this day people refer to it as a consulate or an embassy, but it wasn’t.

The reality is that civility is less important than clarity, and right now only very few people on the Left are interested in having a civil conversation about the merits of particular policy solutions.

Rabinovich is the author of several popular books on Israel’s wars, including The Battle for Jerusalem, The Yom Kippur War, and The Boats of Cherbourg.

I think Seth Lipsky is amazing, but it just drives home the point that newspapers have a lot of moving parts.

Can teenagers seriously be expected to behave properly when they are surrounded by so much suggestive material? Is it fair to expose them (and ourselves) to so much temptation and then tell them, “Just say no”?

If you remember, in 2006, a Jewish kid in Paris, Ilan Halimi, was abducted, beaten, and held hostage for three weeks… These are the kinds of people attending these Gaza solidarity rallies.

King Solomon said it long ago: “Cast your bread upon the waters” because you don’t know when you’ll hit something. Our job is to do.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/orthodox-homosexuals-and-the-pursuit-of-self-indulgence/2011/06/15/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: