Gay Jews, straight Jews, mitzva-observing Jews.

This is already a week old, but I really wanted to share it again here: Shmuley Boteach’s take on homosexuality in Judaism. Whether you’re a fan or a foe, I think it’s a well-thought out and ballsy read. Give it a try:

No Holds Barred: The Jewish view of homosexuality

A few of my favorite parts:

  • There are 613 commandments in the Torah. One is to refrain from gay sex. Another is for men and women to marry and have children. So when Jewish gay couples come to me for counselling and tell me they have never been attracted to the opposite sex in their entire lives and are desperately alone, I tell them, “You have 611 commandments left. That should keep you busy…
  • The mistake of so many well-meaning people of faith is to believe that homosexuality is a moral rather than a religious sin. A moral sin involves injury to an innocent party. But who is being harmed when two, unattached, consenting adults are in a relationship? Rather, homosexuality is akin to the prohibition of lighting fire on the Sabbath or eating bread during Passover. There is nothing immoral about it, but it violates the divine will.
  • The American religious and electoral obsession with all-gay-marriage-all- the-time has led to a values-vacuum where it is near impossible to discuss real solutions to the erosion of family life. For instance, making marital counselling tax deductible would do infinitely more to bolster the crumbling institution of marriage than any opposition to gay relationships.
  • And all I’m asking from my religious brethren is this: Even as you oppose gay relationships because of your beliefs, please be tortured by your opposition. Understand that when our most deeply held beliefs conflict with our basic humanity, we should feel the tragedy of the conflict, rather than simply find convenient scapegoats upon whom to blame all of America’s ills.
  • I have observant friends who keep mitzvot way better than I do; who are kinder people than I am; who are believing, practicing Jews to the core. They happen to be gay.

    I’m married to a man, we have a child, but I can promise you my Judaism is a sad case of laziness.

    I wonder who truly ends up with the better karma at the end?





    2 responses to “Gay Jews, straight Jews, mitzva-observing Jews.”

    1. Gil Avatar

      Two thoughts:
      1. It will take time, but gradually more and more of the Orthodox community will accept gays, and eventually some Orthodox Rabbis will reinterpret the prohibition on homosexuality, perhaps arguing that it only bans men who are attracted to women from engaging in homosexual behavior.
      2. I wish people on both sides of the gay marriage argument would refrain from calling each other sick, or impugning each other’s values in any way. I noticed the article you cite also mentions his opposition to redefining marriage. Now a recent Facebook thread said that one Rabbi suggested that gay people kill themselves. OK, that’s evil and should be condemned. But I think there are plenty of people of courage and integrity on both sides of the gay marriage debate, and I hope people can learn to argue without the hatred and demonizing.

    2. elie Avatar


      It is unfortunate that at the core of it all, שנאת חינם always seems to prevail – in any of these debates among Jewish people, charedi/secular, Israeli/non, convert/born Jew, etc etc. It seems the blind hatred/absolute outlook towards people struggling with a real issue is the overwhelmingly disappointing part of this.

      How ‘righteous’ Jews (or righteous anybody) can give in to baser instincts and condemn people before fully understanding the scenario, with no sensitivity even when condemning fellow Jews, boggles my mind.

      And of course, patience is required if people are going to start being open-minded about something that seems so absolute years down the line. We’re all going to have to bring patience to the table to have this conversation together.

    Whadya got: