Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Who's giving up on who

So here is a response to some comments from the last post, claiming that once I've "given up" by violating such a "heinous crime", the community has the right to turn their backs on a sinner.
I ask- Who has given up on whom?
Personally, I have not given up on either. Giving up would be turning my back on the community, because that is the easier route for and orthodox Jew in handling sexuality, to give up, to go live their lives however they please and forget about what the Torah says. Giving up could also be giving up on sexuality, and spending my life alone, in pain and suffering, not wanting to hurt a woman who I would never truly love, but not wanting to violate such a severe prohibition in the Torah, so I would be alone. I have chosen neither of those. I have given up on nothing. I have embraced both aspects of my life the best I can.
If you tell me the community has the right to give up on me for violating a commandment by commiting such a heinous crime- I beg of you- close your doors to every Jew! because every Jew has their skeletons in their closet, and every Jew is in violation of something, somewhere. And I know, I make my sin public knowledge- but I ask, do I actually? Do I run around telling everyone if I am or am not sexually active? If I have or have not committed any avierah? No. I simply state that I am a gay Orthodox Jew. I have an attraction to men. In stating that, I am being honest with myself and the world- and if that is a sin, then excommunicate the heterosexuals too, in particular the unmarried ones who are 'announcing' that they are straight and have desires that they may or may not act upon.
So who has given up on whom?
Because if the community shuns individuals such as myself, and all sinners, there will be no one left in Orthodoxy.


  1. Sinning is not okay, but if we are to turn our backs upon every sinner, we are turning our backs on everyone who speaks lashon hara, does not display kibud av v'em, and the hundreds of teenagers who violate shomer negiah. We are a small nation, struggling with 613 commandments, of which we all inevitably find 1 or 2 that seem impossible. We, orthodox Jews striving to be observant, are a small number. Let's not make it smaller.

  2. I often find it troublesome that people feel the need to define others, tell them what to do, how they should act, and whether they are or aren't legitimate. First of all, I think that any incinuation that you are not Orthodox is absurd. All frum people do things that are not in line with the Torah, and actions are not the sole sign of a frum Jew. Even when doing things that are against the Torah, if the person understands that there is a higher standard, that there are Divinely given precepts that facilitate emes, if the person strives to come to terms with looking at how their actions fit in the scope of halacha and what they need to do to come to some sort of tshuva, then I would say that they are a Torah Jew. If we only let people into a shul who were in line with the Torah in their actions 100% of the time, there wouldn't be a minyan anywhere.

    This, of course, is in reference to someone who actually does something. As you point out, you never make reference to any action, only to thought, feeling, and attraction. In the Gemara in Kiddushin 40A, the Gemara discusses how a person is not counted as having committed an offense until they actually do the offense, not from the beginning when the thought comes into the mind. If a person never has negative thoughts in the first place, there would be nothing to stop them from constantly doing mitzvos all the time, and also there would be little reward for the mitzvos, as there would be nothing to stand in the way. While this can and will be the reality during the era of Moshiach, it cannot be the reality now. If it were the reality, Moshiach would be here already. In Tehillim, Dovid HaMelech says, "If I had seen iniquity in my heart, G-d would not hear it," meaning that G-d does not count thoughts or inclinations as the actual act. This is the point of the yetzer hara, and the evil inclination is something that is given to us and is beyond our control. Therefore, to say that the very thoughts that come as a result of having a yetzer hara are actual aveiros is somewhat ridiculous. The Torah, in Bereishis, says that sin sits at the door and we are given the desire to do the sin, but are also given the ability to rule over the desire. This means that the desire to do the sin is not the same as the sin itself, and cannot be treated as such.

    People who attack you only serve to drive more and more divisions into klal Yisroel. Their actions and words are not based in the Torah of Ahavas Yisroel, but in the Torah of Sinas Yisroel. The Yismach Yisroel says that the entire reason why Haman was able to put together his plan to exterminate the Yidden is found in his description of the Yidden as being "mefuzar um'forad" (scattered and separated). When we act in ways that drive other Jews away, especially those who are clearly struggling to find themselves in Torah in an honest way, we simply add to our own downfall and prolong golus. The Yismach Yisroel says that the answer to this situation is also found in the Megillah, in the phrase "leich k'nois es kol haYehudim" ("Go and collect all the Jews). Surely, telling you to give up and leave, or stating that it is acceptable for anyone to turn their back on you, does not fulfill the important task of being a Jew.

  3. Simchas Beis Ha"Toaiva"March 2, 2010 at 11:44 AM

    Bee Zee, thats a nice vort, however if the essence of the avairah is hirhurim, that is the maisah - so whether an action is done or not, youll always be violating "lo sasooroo."

    So frum gay, bee zee and all others in this forum, throw out the porn, the movies and all other paraphanilia.

    I can't tell you how to deal with ur tsivah- i am not a professional - but DO NOT feed it.

  4. "So frum gay, bee zee and all others in this forum, throw out the porn, the movies and all other paraphanilia. "

    You seem to have this misconception that we're all flaming flamboyant individuals when my whole blog has been trying to prove to you otherwise. How do you know we subscribe to any form of paraphanalia? Or feed the Ta'avah? It just exists, like your heterosexual Ta'avah exists(as far as i know- and if it doesnt that's a whole different issue).

  5. I'm not really sure how the essence of anal sex is hirhurim, though the essence of what I was saying (Ahavas Yisroel and achdus vs. Sinas Yisroel and being meforad) is found in the first and last paragraphs, with the middle only being an afterthought that went better between the two. Also, do you not think that people who deal with homosexual feelings or desires are quite aware that it does nothing positive if they replace sexual interactions with pornographic images that cause other aveiros, and could eventually lead back to the sexual interaction they were trying to prevent in the first place? I'm sure that they are quite aware.

  6. Simchas Beis Ha"Toaiva"March 2, 2010 at 12:10 PM

    Frum Gay, I am sorry but throw the tolerance club and that event in december in that list as well. Except those are worse since they're in public.

    BeeZee, yes - I believe if you dream about anal sex but never actually do it you still violate "lo sasuru."

  7. Interesting points you make, Ely. Good luck to you in holding back from the temptations that you have, and good luck to all of klal Yisroel that they should succeed in holding back from their temptations.

  8. Firstly, "hirhurei aveirah kashin maveirah" does NOT mean that a person with improper thoughts is ACTUALLY violating the aveirah. It means that, in some way, the thoughts are "worse." (How they are "worse" is the subject for a lengthy Torah discussion, not a quick blogpost.)

    Secondly, the author of this blog was involved in the event in December as a way of helping other benei torah see the pain and torture a ben torah can go through when he has homosexual tendencies, as well as a deep desire to fulfill all of ratzon Hashem - all of Hashem's beautiful mitzvos. He was not trying to glorify ovrei aveirah at all. It is very possible that not everyone had the same intention when planning the event, but it also was done with the permission of respected people in the Yeshiva (probably for the same reason). Granted, many might even disagree with that premise, as well, but it does not disqualify the author of this blog. He himself is a ben torah who loves to do all the mitzvos to the best of his ability.

  9. hey,

    i think a major part of your personal struggle is due to the fact that you're in the wrong place/community. it seems like there are definitely a lot of ppl in yu-world who are accepting of who you are and wish to create a community of acceptance, and that's great. though, there are definitely a lot of negative, judgmental, and ignorant attitudes in that environment.

    but don't forget that there are a lot of frum jews outside of yu-world. i don't know the statistics, but there is definitely a significant amount of frum jews on secular campuses. they include future rabbis, teacher, shul presidents, etc. it comes as no surprise that many off them are more open-minded and accepting of frum gay jews. they don't discriminate between them and the rest of the community, including if you're publicly in a relationship.

    you don't need to convince everyone of what is right. i'm not trying to tell you that you need to leave yu-world. if that's where you feel most comfortable, thats fine, and i commend you on what you're doing. im just saying that there are other options available out there, and there are people who are more than happy to accept you for who you are into their frum community.

    personally, i think its crazy that you need to defend yourself, and that a university which receives public funding should be allowed to deny free speech.

  10. i definitely agree with you frumgay, but at the same time, we have to draw the line somewhere. there ARE certain defining factors of one's religious observance. some may say it's shabbat and kashrut. (i personally think tefillin and niddah are defining mitzvot). But, you have to realize that people will always judge you based on how we present ourselves in public, whether or not this is fair.

  11. Hey ely, any thoughts about hakotel's rav elon?

  12. Hey Ely, I can't believe this is the first time I am posting. After reading one of your most recent posts where you admit that some people call you "immature," I am profoundly surprised. In this "Who's Giving up on Who" article you are not only articulate and mature, you point out a major flaw within the Modern Orthodox community. I applaud your candidness and look forward to hearing great things from you, hopefully in the most "presidential" of ways.


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