Friday, June 28, 2013


Hetero-Religious Discrimination

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths


My wife received an urgent call from her sister in New Jersey (an orthodox Jewish woman living in a orthodox Jewish neighborhood)…


(My wife’s sister…) My boss, the business owner, came over to me today.  He demanded from me ‘what do you think of the decision by the US Supreme Court about same-gender “marriage”?’  I didn’t know what to say knowing that one of his children is in a, r”l, same gender relationship (with formal ceremony).  But he was in my face, so I answered straightforwardly… ‘According to the Torah, such relationships are prohibited.’

He started screaming at me, “You Jews are so narrow minded.  You don’t live in the modern world.”  He then stormed off.

His wife, co-owner, came over a few minutes later.  “You’ve really upset (the boss) by not being accepting.  Why can’t you be accepting like the rest of society?”

I’ve never before had any discussion with the boss and his wife about their children’s relationships or lifestyles.  I’ve never been not-accepting or accepting!

Why are they targeting me?  I’m afraid for my job!


Shame the religious.  Attack the religious.  They have a lot of nerve having principles.


  1. Dear Reb Akiva:

    I wish to reply to your post on heter-religious discrimination. To provde some biographical background: I was reared by American Negro parents in the Baptist Church I underwent a Conservative conversion during college. I underwent a subsequent conversion superintended by a Chabad ravbbi approximately 11 years subsequent to the Conservative "geirus". I am also gay.

    The Torah position on homosexuality is unassailable. It is important to note that the Rorah precludes only actions. The orientation is not prohibited by halacha. This position was articulated by the rabbi who conducted my orthodox conversion and reiterated by Rav Pam zatzal during a telephonic conversation with him concerning the subject.

    It is inaccurate to characterize frum yidden as homophobic. The Torah prescribes that we treat all individuals with respect, kindness, courtesy and dignity. To employ a phrase from my previous faith: we hate the sin and love the sinner.

    This incident is telling because it illustrates the inconsistency of liberalism. The liberal Weltanschauung purportedly propones tolerance, pluraism and inclusion. However, many liberals are extremely intolerant of anyone who deviates from the party line. Traditional religioinsts of all creeds may not be able to arrest such societal developments as the institution of gay marriage (personally I welcome such phenomena as they demonstrate the imminence of the Ultimate Geula), but we can at least express our convictions without qualification and not genuflect at the altar of political correctness.

    Guten erev Shabbos.
    Lommer deleben Moshiach.


  2. To the New Jersey Sister of Reb Akiva's wife :

    Vayikra, homosexuality and Jewish law
    Torah doesn't prohibit gay marriage, for most people, like it doesn't prohibit eating bacon, for most people. The implication is that it is like almost all of the other 613 mitzvot that Judaism has - this is a rule for Jews, but not a rule that we expect non-Jews to follow.

    What does the Torah mitzvah actually say for Jews? What if it literally means something different from what we've been led to believe?

    Vayikra 18:22 - Do not lie with a male as one lies with a woman.

    Hebrew: mishkevei `ishshah

    This means literally "after the manner of lying with a woman" by the introduction of the male member; in other words, this is a commandment for a Jewish man not to engage in anal sex with another Jewish man.

    It does not address gentiles (non-Jews), at all. It does address Jewish women, at all. It does not even address one's own sexual orientation.

    Let us not be too squeamish about using such frank biological terms when necessary; classical rabbinic literature does so all the time. Even some books of Kabbalah - esoteric Jewish mysticism - can be very graphic about sex.

    Homosexuality as we know it today is not discussed in Torah. Even Modern Orthodox rabbis admit that the Torah and the Talmud don't speak about this subject - Torah only really outlaws one specific sexual act, and only between Jewish men. That is why some rabbis admit that homosexual acts between Jewish women are not a sin.

    Some, however, extend the prohibition, and hold that all lesbian activity is forbidden. But that extension is a matter of dispute

    So think about it this way: Torah thus allows homosexuality for all women, and almost all men in the world. So how can we read this verse as a total prohibition against homosexuality?

    We must avoid the error of projecting modern-day views back on an ancient text that was dealing with very different issues.

    Read about the historical context of this law, in the the JPS Torah commentary. This part of the Torah seems to be referring to cases of homosexual rape, abuse, and pagan cultic sex acts. It may not deal with what we call homosexuality.

  3. What does the Torah actually, literally say about homosexuality? I'd like to offer this excerpt from "The JPS Torah Commentary - Leviticus"

    By Dr. Rabbi Baruch Levine. com/The-JPS- Torah-Commentary -Leviticus/ dp/0827603282

    Leviticus 18:22 - Do not lie with a male as one lies with a woman.

    Hebrew mishkevei `ishshah means literally "after the manner of lying with a woman" by the introduction of the male member.

    Male homosexuality is associated with the ancient Canaanites, if we are to judge from biblical literature.

    Two biblical narratives highlight this theme, one about the men of Sodom in Genesis 19, and the other concerning the fate of the concubine at Gibeah in Judges 19. Although Gibeah was an Israelite town, the story clearly implies that Gibeah's Israelite residents had descended to the abominable ways of the surrounding Canaanites.

    Both of these accounts place the phenomenon of male homosexuality in a particular context: xenophobia. This extreme fear of strangers induces a community to attack visitors.

    In both of the stories cited here, the form of attack was homosexual assault.

    It is also thought that the pagan priests, called kedeshim, regularly engaged in homosexual acts (cf. Deut 23:18; I Kings 14:24; and Job 38:14).

    The term mehir kelev, "the pay of a dog," mentioned in Deuteronomy 23:18-19, refers to the wages of a male prostitute, who usually serviced men, not women, in ancient societies.

    Male homosexuality is called to'evah, "abhorrence, abomination, " a term that occurs frequently in the admonitions of Deuteromony. It occurs no fewer than four times in this concluding section of our chapter. In Genesis 46:34 and Exodus 8:22, it serves to characterize what Egyptians considered abhorrent, principally pastoral pursuits (This was suggested by W. F. Albright in From the Stone Age to Christianity, 423f).

    There has been considerable speculation as to why lesbianism is not explicity forbidden in the Torah. In due course, rabbinic interpretation added this prohibition, as well (See The Code of Maimonides: The Book of Holiness (Book V), trans. L. I. Rabinowitz and P. Grossman, 135).

  4. "Does the Bible Prohibit Homosexuality? "

    by Rabbi Jacob Milgrom

    "Do not lie with a male as one lies with a woman; it is an abomination" (Leviticus 18:22).

    What I said may be both good news and bad news to my friends, depending on their position on gay and lesbian rights: This biblical prohibition is addressed only to Jews. Non-Jews are affected only if they reside in the Holy Land, but not elsewhere (see the closing exhortation in Vayikra 18:24-30). Thus, it is incorrect to apply this prohibition on a universal scale.*

    I spoke to my fellow Jews, who are required to observe this prohibition. What is the rationale for this prohibition? In a previous column,** I noted that Torah's impurity rules are part of a symbol system representing the forces of life and death.

    Israel is required to avoid these impurities and adhere to the laws commanded by God, who promotes the forces of life. Thus in the same chapter we read, "You shall heed my statues and my rules, by doing them one shall live" (Vayikra 18:5).

    A man who discharges semen, whether intentionally or otherwise, is declared impure and must purify himself by mikvah before he is permitted to enter the Temple or touch sacred food (Vayikra 15:16-18). Why? Because semen stands for life, and the loss of semen symbolizes the loss of life.

    Note also that in the entire list of forbidden sexual unions, there is no prohibition against lesbianism. Can it be that lesbianism did not exist in ancient times or that Scripture was unaware of its existence?

    Lesbians existed and flourished, as attested in an old (pre-Israelite) Babylonian text and in the work of the lesbian poet Sappho (born c.612 B.C.E., during the time of the First Temple), who came from the island of Lesbos (hence lesbianism). But there is a fundamental difference between the homosexual acts of men and women. In lesbianism there is no spilling of seed. Thus life is not symbolically lost, and therefore lesbianism is not prohibited in the Bible.

    My argument ostensibly can be countered by a more comprehensive biblical injunction. The very first commandment, given to Adam and repeated to Noah, is "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth" (Bereshit 1:28 and 9:1, 7). The descendants of Noah -- the entire human race -- are duty-bound to fulfill this commandment. But the truth is that we have not only filled the earth, we have over-filled it.

    This does not mean, however, that the commandment should be thought of as no longer in force - especially among Jews, who have lost a third of their numbers in our lifetime. I recall an incident during a premarital interview from the early years of my rabbinate. The starry-eyed bride declared her noble intention to have twelve children to compensate for the tragic loss of six million killed in the Holocaust. I gasped, "Must you do it all by yourself?"

    I have since come to regret my flippant reply. This couple regarded their forthcoming marriage as a sacrament not just between themselves, but with the Jewish people.

    The problem has worsened for American Jews. Because intermarriage is rife and the Jewish birth rate is low, American Jewry, once at zero population growth, has dipped into the minus column. Were it not for a steady stream of converts, the extinction of American Jewry would be even more imminent. For us the divine command, "Be fruitful and multiply" is truly in force.

    To Jewish homosexuals I offer an unoriginal solution. As compensation for your loss of seed, adopt children.

    I hope the Eternal, in love and compassion, will then reckon their spilled seed as producing fruit.

    * It is true that some rabbis would include homosexuality under the Noachide Laws, binding on all humanity (Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 58a; Maimonides, Kings 9:5), but this is a later interpretation, not the plain meaning of the biblical text.

    ** "Seeing the Ethical Within the Ritual," Bible Review, August 1992.

    Bible Review; Volume IX, Number 6, December 1993. Page 11, Biblical Archaeology Society

  5. Let's not kid ourselves. On one hand, Bill is right, a 'homosexual marriage' is no forbidden in the torah, rather only the act. BUT, we know that the Torah (e.g. Hashem) encourages that we put fences around the pure act so that we do not come close.

    So sure, two guys can be roommates "to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part"
    but in all cases, marriage is consummated with the sexual act. How two gay guys can be married and not have sex, is that really possible?

  6. Deal Melka Katz,
    I appreciate that you typed out the lengthy response by Rabbi Milgrom.
    It is interesting to note that Hashem destroyed the world, save Noah and his family, because of rampant theft and distribution of marriage certificates to male homosexuals. None of those men were Jewish and Hashem destroyed the world because of the wickedness.....
    I think in this and all generations Jewish or non Jewish male homosexuality (and female) is one of many things that is bringing this world to the pits... a fast, too.

  7. Jacob Milgrom & Baruch Levine are part of the conservative movement and their torah opinions/Commentaries are not valid.

  8. Thank you, Dvir,
    I was wondering who they were, I had never heard of them- nor that opinion. Thank you for posting.

  9. Who has ever said that the rest of society is accepting of homosexual marriage?


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