Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Baby and the Bathwater

There's an expression that really didn't resonate with me until recently: "Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater". As silly as it sounds, it is far too true. Different components of Judaism all too often spend a lot of time preaching various aspects of Halacha- and often time they pick one to preach to the exclusion of many others. This forces a strong commitment to many of the stringencies in Halacha, to the exclusion of many less stringent, but just as important laws. More than that, when a Jew finds himself struggling with the stringencies of a commandment, he's all too likely to throw out the entire commandment than to just stop following the stringencies.

As some examples, there are people who think just because they throw out Shomer Negiah, they should begin having sex. THere are a lot of levels between the two, and a lot more problems Halachically with having sex then there is just touching a member of the opposite gender. A less intense example, but equally as important, would be the commandment of Tzitzit- many people feel the need to wear the wool ones, and since those are too heavy- they'd rather wear nothing at all than just get a lighter fabric. And the ultimate example- a person who struggles with his sexuality, and feels he can't reconcile it with his religion may simply just throw out the religion.

Personally, my sexuality and religion don't fit together. But I know that I cannot throw out the baby just because I need to drain the bathwater. I know that I should start wearing Tzitzit again because the commandment isn't for a wool pair, it's just for a simple four cornered garment. And everyone should make sure that their struggle with a commandment or two or all 613, isn't over a stringency that has been misconstrued to be the entity of the commandment, and perhaps focus on going back to the basics.

20 comments:

  1. agreed!
    excellent points...

    i liked the tzitzit example.

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  2. You dont wear tzitzis too? i thought you were frum? You can't keep saying that you are frum, and continue bashing everything which is frum. Yet i respect your honesty on such matters.

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  3. haha, mcgreevey i can always count on your support and judgement of what is frum and whats not frum. not sure who appointed you the Rabbi of such standards!

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  4. today's blog writes such true words but it is most definitely more difficult in practice than in writing. it takes a lot of trust and faith in G-d and our religion, even to perform simple acts of command.

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  5. Frum (Yiddish: פֿרום; [frum | frim]), from the German fromm, meaning "devout" or "pious", is a Yiddish word meaning committed to be observant of the 613 Mitzvot, or Jewish commandments, specifically of Orthodox Judaism.
    Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frum

    I didn't make it up, someone else obviously did.

    I totally understand the conflict between your sexuality and the standard of religiosity that you want, but why tzitzis (or any other of the mitzvos) should also be involved I dont understand...

    But hey, to each his own.

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  6. I'm confused - why don't you wear tzitzis? I know it is a mitzva d'rabanan to wear them (the mitzva d'oraisa is if you have a 4 cornered beged you put tzitzis on it and the rabanan said we should be mikayim this by donning a four cornered beged) but it is universally accepted in the "frum" world that one wears tiztzis. Why don't you?

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  7. tzitzis are only an obligation if one is wearing a 4 cornered garment. yes, it is accepted in the frum world to first don a 4-cornered garment in order to wear tzitzis but one is under no halachic obligation to do so.

    so "anonymous" you dont have to get too confused...

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  8. excellent post. thank you.

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  9. Anon of 1:15 pm:

    That is where you are incorrect. The rabanan put on us a halachic obligation to wear tzitzis. We believe in torah shel ba'al peh - so we are obligated to wear tzitzis.

    So I reiterate my question - why does frumgay believe he is not under an obligation to wear tzitzis?

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  10. anon 6:49-
    Under no circumstances to I believe I am not obligated to wear tzitzit. I struggled since Ive always worn tekhelet, and theyre expensive, and I wear the wool ones, and they are hot, and they add an extra layer under my clothing, so I stopped wearing them altogether, when really I shouldve just gotten cheaper ones/mesh ones/stopped wearing tekhelet, all those were options. So I tell myself not to just stop wearing them b/c i took on more strict laws, but to figure out how to wear them.

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  11. simchas beis hatoaivaJune 8, 2010 at 11:51 PM

    frum gay is it possible that keeping all those chumrahs "burned" you out? (no pun intended)

    Thats why i hate shanah bet syndrome of taking on chumrah after chumrah.

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  12. its a possibility, but i don't put any one 'concept' at fault. some chumrahs i've had since birth, and i need to prioritize those as well.

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  13. "There are people who think just because they throw out Shomer Negiah, they should begin having sex.":

    I am such a person. Whenever I touch a person of the opposite sex, or the same sex for that matter, I think to myself "how awesome to have sex with him/her". My attitude it very simple, a hole is a hole, be it with a guy or girl, same good stuff, so I get turned on by touching almost any person.

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  14. FrumGay: What do the chumras u have had till now have anything to do with living ur life as a gay Jew? Why must you begin to prioritize them now? If anything they enhance ur image of not throwing out all you have had just because ur out now...

    Spinoza: that is exactly why u should be locked up somewhere...

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  15. "that is exactly why u should be locked up somewhere...":

    You are a totalitarian piece of garbage. You would be willing to ensalve innocent people who do no harm to others only because they are different from you.

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  16. McGreevey-
    Again, the two are not related. I think the way different communities prioritize various aspects of religion is a problem, and far more important values fall to the wayside because of focus on minor details. So, there are certain things I have prioritized over other, more important, laws and that is what I am attempting to work on in my own life.

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  17. Spinoza: Not exactly sure what you mean by "enslave innocent people" please explain youreslf.
    But based on your atitude of "a hole is a hole, be it with a guy or girl, same good stuff, so I get turned on by touching almost any person."
    I am very confused as to why anyone - in their right mind - would want to be around you...EVER!

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  18. Governer, very simple. If you put me into an iron cage, that is what to "lock me somewhere" means, it implies you are enslaving me. If I captured a person and put him into a cage, that is slavery. You have admitted to wish to commit slavery. And that is exactly why you are a totalitarian piece of garbage.

    However, if you said that that I am a crazy mad person. Which is true. I admit it. I am crazy. And am a strange. With strange fantasies. And you want me to stay away from you, but you stay away from me, then that is fine. But you never said that. It bothers you that crazy people like me exist. So you want to enslave people like us. Which is again why you are a totalitarian piece of garbage.

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  19. Spinoza: when society places crazy individuals behind bars, is that slavery?

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  20. ^^ For the record, I'm also bisexual, and I don't get turned on just because I've touched someone. :/

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