Guest post by Rabbi Shaul Gold / Last week a Federal judge in San Francisco decided to wield the power given to him to overturn the will of the people of the State of California and thousands of years of precedent to promote an agenda whose historic background is barely 50 years old—because he could. Last month a distinguished Rabbi published a Statement of Principles that, he was quoted in the Forward saying, did not offer a clear enough solution… because, “this is not a Sanhedrin, where a few people can come and abrogate Torah law.”

A Principled Stand

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Guest post by Rabbi Shaul Gold

Last week a Federal judge in San Francisco decided to wield the power given to him to overturn the will of the people of the State of California and thousands of years of precedent to promote an agenda whose historic background is barely 50 years old—because he could. Last month a distinguished Rabbi published a Statement of Principles (link) that, he was quoted in the Forward saying, did not offer a clear enough solution… because, “this is not a Sanhedrin, where a few people can come and abrogate Torah law.”

The Statement of Principles has drawn much focus. It brings another social topic to the fore and presumes to speak for the caring and compassionate among the rabbis and leaders. Critics of the Statement of Principles have been accused of a lack of compassion and understanding of the pain and anguish that Orthodox homosexuals endure. It is patently unfair to label critics of the Statement of Principles and to tar them with the brush of homophobia and cold-heartedness.

No person of decency feels anything but compassion for the struggle of these unfortunate people. Nor do they lack in compassion for older singles, divorcees, the handicapped and a host of other people in difficult, heart wrenching situations, whether they are in that position by their own hand or due to conditions that are beyond their control. Any and every rav, any and every decent human being, would jump at any correct opportunity to alleviate their pain and to assist in lifting them up spiritually and materially.

However, not every problem has a solution and not every solution is worth trying (witness: BP). It is the height of hubris to claim that a small group of clergy and mental health professionals have the answer that has eluded good men for generations and that a few months of discussion on the exact language of a document were enough time to weigh the issues and present a new world order that only the homophobic could reject. For this consequence alone, that it sets its proponents on a higher moral plane, the document is fatally flawed.

Implicit in the quote about abrogating Torah Law is that, just like the judge in San Francisco, given the power, this would be an ideal case to wield that authority (Note: see this clarification: link). As such, it behooves us to review the Statement of Principles with an eye to how close the document comes to that point.

It seems to me that there are four flaws to this document that may make this document more than a simple declaration; it may be setting a dangerous precedent. A) It develops a new method of defining Halacha, B) It chips away at halachic principles and tries to divert or ignore serious issurim, C) It moves the issue from the domain of Halacha to a social compact, one better determined by board members and mental health professionals than by clergy, and D) It creates a ‘protected class’ that is more deserving of communal focus than others.

Redefining Halacha

Paragraph 1 assumes that it is a self evident truth that all human beings “deserve to be treated with dignity and respect (kevod haberiyot),” a concept that, aside from being benign, seems actually to be self-evident. It is not true, though. Courtesy is due all people, but honor and dignity are earned, not due by dint of birth.

Neither term translates as kevod haberiyot. Why then, use these terms as the opening principle upon which the document rests?

Perhaps this will inform us. Rabbi Sperber used the term “kevod haberiyot” to establish a principle of the honor of the individual that would override communal honor and permit women to be called to the Torah. Conservative Judaism used kevod haberiyot, loosely interpreted as “human dignity” as it has evolved in contemporary society, to liberalize its approach to homosexuality. Thus, the document bases its approach on Conservative and Sperberian principles, and accepting this document is essentially affirming Conservative Judaism’s approach to Halacha.

That same paragraph neglects to distinguish between the homosexual who recognizes that his behavior is incorrect but has control/desire issues and the homosexual that wants to be accepted with, and respectful of, his orientation. The Halacha, under certain conditions, mandates shunning, admonishing, and other punitive measures that by nature embarrass, harass and/or demean one who is “omed b’merdo,” yet this foundation paragraph considers that to be “a violation of Torah prohibitions that embody the deepest values of Judaism.” While these are wonderful sentiments, they are not in consonance with Halacha and they redefine the halachic playing field.

Chipping Away At Halacha

Paragraph 4 concedes that certain amorphous lesser acts may be proscribed. Paragraph 1 enjoins us to refrain from embarrassing, harassing and demeaning. How do we meld regulating the former without violating the latter?

There will inevitably be yichud and chibuk v’nishuk issues. Can we shake his hand? Can he kiss the groom at a wedding? (A prominent rabbi was prohibited this by the Takana Forum) Can he sit in close quarters with other males? Can she hug other women as many women regularly do? How will we implement this without devaluing him or violating the “big” three? These are all relevant “lesser acts” and restrictions; wouldn’t it have been more responsible to plot out how to deal with that concomitantly?

Paragraph 8 declares that Jews with homosexual orientations or same sex-attractions should be welcomed as full members of the synagogue and school community. Public acceptance of orientation makes the entire community complicit and enabling of the active homosexual’s transgression and adds another roadblock in the individual’s struggle to balance his urges and sensations with Torah and Halacha.

Paragraph 11 states that communities should display sensitivity, acceptance and full embrace of the adopted or biological children of homosexually active Jews. Does this not validate the homosexual relationship through the back door? This document has moved from kevod haberiyot, to accepting orientation to permitting communal involvement and ritual leadership to accepting those involved in blatant public homosexual activity. Quite a declaration of principles!

Paragraph 12 declares that Jews who have an exclusively homosexual orientation should, under most circumstances, not be encouraged to marry someone of the other gender. It is true that living alone is a painful and emotionally difficult state. If we discourage heterosexual connection are we not, by omission, fostering the homosexual companionship (which is, itself, an issur Yichud)? Is the mitzvah of p’ru ur’vu not important enough for one to pause before dismissing marriage out of hand?

Moving The Issue From A Halachic One To A Social One

Paragraph 2 subtly changes the focus to issues other than Halacha as the basis for discussion, as if to say that Halacha confers no negative status on the homosexual under any circumstances. The issue is a social-compact one, not a Halachic one.

Paragraph 4 distinguishes between orientation/ attraction on the one hand and hirhurei aveirah on the other. The distinction, if there is one, is very fine. By excluding hirhurei aveirah the document really limits its scope to a drastically diminished subgroup. Unfortunately, this leaves the Statement relevant to the handful of people that are only attracted to, but never actually have hirhurim about, others of the same sex, while giving the impression that it is relevant to a large-tent population. The authors must have forgotten that since in paragraphs 9-12 they include everyone, including those actually living together (a step beyond hirhurim).

Paragraph 9 states that it is the responsibility of the lay and rabbinic leadership in each individual community to determine eligibility for particular religious offices. I believe that we have now established the purpose of the document. It is to permit full range of involvement in all manner of communal affairs to the homosexual and to remove this issue from the domain of Halachic Standards to the laity based on communal harmony and communal culture standards.

Singling Out Homosexuals

Paragraph 4 informs us that homosexuals are human beings. So are those who desire their mothers, their pubescent daughters, their innocent talmidim, their friend’s wife or their pet. Is a person struggling with pederastic attraction less of a human being? What especially distinguishes the homosexual from all other arayot? This statement should be inclusive of all sorts of sexual deviance and not limited to homosexuality. The exclusion of all other “ervah-attractions” seems discriminatory.

Paragraph 4 also distinguishes between hirhurei aveirah and “same-sex attraction,” the one being “possibly” assur, the other categorically not. While hirhurei aveirah are assur in all forms of sexuality, we rarely hear about most hirhurim. Perhaps this is because the Oedipal son, the pederast and the one lusting after his neighbor’s wife aren’t seeking communal acceptance as G-d fearing individuals with prohibited desires. They may be afraid of the social and communal opprobrium and the lack of sensitivity to their struggles and they probably sense that no one is drafting a statement of principles for their challenges. The one that we are very aware of is the homosexual one and that only because it is the social issue of the moment. The goal of the document is to serve as a means of accepting his orientation.

Paragraph 4 also states that homosexuals are still human beings deserving of equal valuation with other humans. The problem is that the public at large is being asked to respond to the homosexual’s desire to be valued –not just as a human being, but as a homosexual human being. This necessitates my compromising on principle rather than his respecting societal and halachic norms. (Would we value the human being aching to be accepted and valued for his misogyny? For his racism? Mind you, not for acting on his racism or misogyny, not even for those hirhurim—just for his racist/misogynist orientation.)

Paragraph 4 states that it is critical to emphasize that Halacha only prohibits homosexual acts; it does not prohibit orientation or feelings of same-sex attraction. Homosexual attraction is just as assur as sibling attraction, oedipal attraction, etc. Although I have refrained from citations as this is not the venue for it, please review the Chinuch’s approach to all arayot for a better understanding of this concept. The Torah punishes for the action, but does not permit the “lav she’ein bo ma’aseh.”

This also disenfranchises the divorcee with children who doesn’t fit in and the older single, both of whom now must deal with being valued for their non-existent “homosexuality.” It also leaves out those with deviant financial orientations, with divergent animal-rights and labor orientations, with different communal education orientations, many of whom have been pilloried by the same good-hearted people who can’t abide the discrimination against gays in our community.

I may be wrong; I may be looking for things that simply are not there but I highly doubt that many of the document’s signers gave it much thought. The press noticed an agenda as well; the bloggers who wanted more also noticed. If we put G-d and Torah before agenda then we might have a consensus document that would address the real problems facing Judaism, instead of piggy-backing on secular society’s agenda and calling it Jewish compassion.

About Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of TorahMusings.com, a leading website on Orthodox Jewish scholarly subjects, and the Book Editor of the Orthodox Union’s Jewish Action magazine. He writes a popular column on issues of Jewish law and thought featured in newspapers and magazines, including The Jewish Link, The Jewish Echo and The Vues. In the past, he has served as the President of the small Jewish publisher Yashar Books and as the Managing Editor of OU Press. Rabbi Student serves on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America and as Director of the Halacha Commission of the Rabbinical Alliance of America. He also serves on the Editorial Boards of Jewish Action magazine, the Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society and the Achieve Journal of Behavioral Health, Religion & Community, as well as the Board of OU Press. He has published five English books, the most recent titled Search Engine volume 2: Finding Meaning in Jewish Texts -- Jewish Leadership, and served as the American editor for Morasha Kehillat Yaakov: Essays in Honour of Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.

163 comments

  1. Re Paragraph 4 I believe you need to differentiate between “feelings of attraction” which are uncontrollable and actively thinking, fantasizing etc which are controllable.

  2. I’ll leave the halachic arguments to others. Just two brief commenst:

    1. ‘I highly doubt that many of the document’s signers gave it much thought.” Really? I guess only R. Gold gave it much thought. How can people he disagrees with give it much thought and come to a conclusion the he doesn’t share? Makes sense, I guess. But then don’t call the critics of the critics “unfair.” Pot and kettle and all that.

    2. “Last week a Federal judge in San Francisco decided to wield the power given to him to overturn the will of the people of the State of California and thousands of years of precedent to promote an agenda whose historic background is barely 50 years old—because he could.” Really, that’s why he did it? I guess that conclusion was based on R. Gold’s careful reading of the opinion and then “much thought.” Perhaps, though, just perhaps, the judge did it because he thought, right or wrong, that this is what the Constitution requires. But I guess only R. Gold, and not the judge, gave the issue “much thought.” But it’s only the critics of the critics of the Statement of Principles who are “unfair.”

  3. Joseph Kaplan-I think that one can argue that the judge viewed his power, as do most advocates of the judiciary as the source of one’s rights in society, as superior to the voters of California and of adopting the gay rights agenda’s arguments as if there was no reason to object to the same as simply wrong and immoral. That is a classical liberal POV, but it is pedantic and assumes that the liberal elites know more than the unvarnished masses, which is a highly undemocratic posture. Assuming that there is some sort of constitutional basis requires more than either the court set forth in its analysis or IMO your defense of the same.

  4. “Paragraph 12 declares that Jews who have an exclusively homosexual orientation should, under most circumstances, not be encouraged to marry someone of the other gender. It is true that living alone is a painful and emotionally difficult state. If we discourage heterosexual connection are we not, by omission, fostering the homosexual companionship (which is, itself, an issur Yichud)? Is the mitzvah of p’ru ur’vu not important enough for one to pause before dismissing marriage out of hand?”

    Would you let your daughter go out with him?

    And I totally agree that the crack that the signers did not give this much thought is really a line that should have been filtered out before you hit send. As someone who decided not to sign the statement (for mostly non-substantive reasons), and have spoken to others who did and didn’t sign, everyone I know thought about it pretty seriously.

  5. To accuse the composers of the Statement and the signers of the “height of hubris” while stating that you “highly doubt that many of the document’s signers gave it much thought” is a bigger act of hubris than any of those who signed it could have committed. (Do you even know who some of the signers are? The few I know personally are highly intelligent, deeply thoughtful people who are steeped in talmud Torah – points in case, Rabbi Aryeh Klapper, Rabbi Hayyim Angel, Rabbi Yuval Cherlow, Rabbi Dr. Eugene Korn, Rabbi Dr. Benny Lau, Rabbi Shlomo Riskin and Rabbi Yehuda Rothner.)

    Furthermore, your comments on Paragraph 12 are to be frank supremely naive. It betrays a lack of either experience counseling or lack of empathy with the spouses of closeted gay people.

    Lastly (for now), I’d like to second Joseph Kaplan in everything he said in his point #2.

  6. R. Gold (and Steve Brizel):

    “Last week a Federal judge in San Francisco decided to wield the power given to him to overturn the will of the people”

    it’s not the job of a federal judge to heed the will of the people

  7. Steve, I assume you thought the same thing about Brown. But you miss my larger point. I actually read the opinion and certainly think that there are grounds to disagree with its constitutional analysis . But that wasn’t R. Gold’s (or your) criticism. As I said before right or wrong, it was not done simply as an exercise of power; it was done because the judge’s analysis of the Constitution led him to the conclusions he did. Obviously, higher courts will opine about this as well. But the argument “the liberal elites know more than the unvarnished masses” can be made about Brown, school prayer, the decision preempting California’s law on medical marijuana, or the decision overruling state and local laws (i.e., the will of the people) imposing gun control. You see, elitism and activism can be both liberal and conservative. It’s the Constitution, not “the will of the people” that governs.

  8. It is good to know a couple of things:

    1. That me and Joseph Kaplan now agree on something.

    2. That R’ Gold believes that people don’t start off being treated with dignity and respect. I wonder at this because, not knowing R’ Gold, where does his presumption arise that, therefore, he is somehow due dignity or honor from me or any other reader. More then that, I wonder how that lexical point on the English language comes under the header “Redefining halacha.” It seems a pithy way to start a reply and one that did not add to R’ Gold’s point.

    3. Like Joseph I can not add to the halachic debate but often we can’t control our thoughts and I wonder why R’ Gold wants to push on normative halachic Judaism, viewpoints that will make people feel bad about themselves even when they’ve done nothing wrong. (“The Torah punishes for the action, but does not permit the “lav she’ein bo ma’aseh.”)

  9. “Paragraph 1 assumes that it is a self evident truth that all human beings “deserve to be treated with dignity and respect (kevod haberiyot),” a concept that, aside from being benign, seems actually to be self-evident. It is not true, though. Courtesy is due all people, but honor and dignity are earned, not due by dint of birth.”

    This is a disgraceful sentence, and so very wrong. People, all people, are created be-tzelem elokim and are deserving of honor and dignity by virtue of this. If they choose to abuse their tzelem and become evil, then they are no longer deserving of this, But from the start, the default position as it were, is that they are deserving of it. Honor and dignity are inherent, they are NOT earned.

    In general, I found this post to be downright mean, in addition to lacking understanding of what gays are going through, as well as halacha. For example, the author writes

    “Paragraph 4 distinguishes between orientation/ attraction on the one hand and hirhurei aveirah on the other. The distinction, if there is one, is very fine”

    The distinction is not fine at all. People have sexual attractions. That is basic to nature. This has nothing to do with hirhurei averah. The latter would include reading a pornographic magazine. And yet the author isn’t even sure if there is a distinction between hirhurei averah and attraction. How can anyone question if there is a distinction? This sentence alone is enough to doom the entire post.

  10. I think what I find most disturbing about this post is how totally focused it is on intellectual arguments. I don’t see any recognition here that we’re not talking about a problem with a tosafot – we’re talking about the fact that a whole lot of Jews are in serious pain.

    I don’t think anyone is crazy enough to claim that the Statement of Principles is a perfect solution. It’s an attempt by Jewish leaders to do something about the suffering of people who look to them for leadership, an attempt to ease that suffering in some small way.

    I can respect that you disagree with their approach, but are you working on a different one? Do you feel a sense of urgency about lessening the pain of gay Jews and their families and their friends? Do you see this as a serious challenge to emunah for many Jews? This post does not read like you do.

    Please, spend more time talking with gay Jews struggling to remain frum. Please, talk with their families and their friends. Tell us what advice you offer them – that’s so much more important that your critiques of the Statement of Principles.

  11. “viewed his power, as do most advocates of the judiciary as the source of one’s rights in society, as superior to the voters of California and of adopting the gay rights agenda’s arguments as if there was no reason to object to the same as simply wrong and immoral. That is a classical liberal POV,”

    Conservatives have used the judiciary as much as liberals have to advance their own partisan agenda-simple hypothetical-if in 1999 a hypothetical question were given without names about what transpired in Florida to law school professors-99% of those questioned would have stated the courts would not take the issue because it is a political question. But given the makeup of the court they wanted a Republican president they voted to give him the presidency. Written by someone who as a Jew thanks God that Lieberman was not VP during 9/11.
    Certainly, in recent years one can see many examples of where the Roberts Court has been an activist Court. Both sides have played the game.

  12. “kevod haberiyot”-overrides Rabbinic ordinances-of course-it is the Rabbis who determined that. It is a very serious concept-the Rabbi of my schul-musmach of BMG more than a decade ago-spent Shavuos night discussing the importance of kavod habriyot.
    I believe Rav Schwab for example refused to join an airplane minyan because of kavod habriyot-it would disturb sleeping passengers.

  13. A lot of these people are not in pain. A lot of these Jews simply have an agenda which they want to shove down people’s throats.

    I do feel bad for some Jewish homosexuals. But not for the ones who publicly condemn all those people who are not sufficiently accepting of their orientation.

    About controlling thoughts: Certainly one can, just as many yeshiva teenage boys train themselves to not think about girls. It’s not easy, but it’s possible.

    Getting back to the alleged pain of homosexuals: What about Catholic priests? The overwhelming majority of them lead meaningful lives without the presence of a woman in the house. Why can’t homosexuals do the same? Let them emulate Moshe Rabbeinu and Ben Azzai. (I believe the Rambam’s son and others also had a dim view in general of tashmish hamitah.)

    Finally, I just want to thank Rabbi Gold for this post. I agree with almost everything you wrote.

  14. Michael Pershan

    In the above post, Rabbi Gold does not give very good arguments. Here is an example of a very bad argument that Rabbi Gold gives:

    1. The drafters of the Statement translate “kevod haberiyot” as dignity and respect that is owed to all human beings.
    2. But that is not what “kevod haberiyot” means.
    3. R’ Sperber and the Conservative movement have a notion of “kevod haberiyot” that allows it to sometimes override kevod hatzibbur.
    4. Therefore, it must be that the drafters of the Statement are using “kevod haberiyot” in the sense of Sperber and the Conservative movement.
    5. Therefore, the entire statement is principled on Conservative halacha.

    How many problems can you find in that argument? Here are a few:
    A. R’ Gold fails to entertain the possibility that the drafters of the statement sincerely believe that their definition of kevod haberiyot is correct.
    B. He provides no evidence for his assertion that their definition is wrong.
    C. There might be other views concerning “kevod haberiyot” besides R’ Gold’s and Sperber and the Conservative movement’s, and so he has created a false dilemma.
    D. Also, Sperber didn’t draft the thing.
    E. With all this, it still doesn’t follow from the fact that on one issue the statement coincides with Sperber that the statement somehow adopts Conservative halacha. Indeed, it’s an empirical fact that the statement doesn’t adopt Conservative halacha. Just check what Conservative halacha has approved of for homosexuality and see what this statement does not!

    In conclusion, this is a bad argument. In my next comment I will turn to other bad arguments that R’ Gold makes.

  15. Michael Pershan

    In his next section, titled “Chipping Away at Halacha,” Rabbi Gold provides several other really bad arguments. In this comment I will give several examples of really bad arguments found in this section.

    1. Paragraph 12 declares that Jews who have an exclusively homosexual orientation should, under most circumstances, not be encouraged to marry someone of the other gender.
    2. Living alone is a painful and emotionally difficult state. People can not be expected to live without companionship.
    3. If someone with homosexual orientation is discouraged from having a heterosexual connection he/she will seek homosexual companionship.
    4. This, however, is wrong, since we are responsible for their issurim, and we are also eliminating the possibility of procreation.

    Here are the problems with this argument:
    A) He provides no halachic evidence for his claims that we are responsible for their issurim or that p’ru u’r’vu is halachically operational in this case.
    B) As such, it provides no evidence for his claim that there is anything wrong with discouraging homosexuals from marrying. Further, it could not provide evidence that the authors of the statement are chipping away at halacha, when he does not provide a halachic argument to support his case.
    C) He fails to take in various other halachic concepts that would weigh against urging a homosexual to marry someone of the opposite gender. In effect, he raises an important halachic issue and fails to evaluate it seriously.

    Here’s another bad argument provided in this section:

    1. It would have been more responsible to plot out how to deal with various lesser issurim in this statement.
    2. That the authors did not do so shows that they are chipping away at halacha.

    The one premise may be false, and the move to the conclusion is unjustified. First, the authors of the statement have made it very clear that they are not drafting an exhaustive treatment of homosexuality in Orthodoxy. Indeed, they only drafted a “statement of PRINCIPLES,” not a halachic treatise. One may question whether this is valuable–the authors seem to believe that a statement of principles alone gives individual rabbis room to make their own halachic rulings, while still making clear that the homosexual should not be shunned from the community (though R’ Gold at times seems to think that the homosexual should be shunned, it seems)–but it certainly would not be more responsible to include extensive halachic treatments in a mere statement of principles.

    Further, this provides no evidence that the authors are chipping away at halacha. Unless, of course, the failure to draft an exhaustive treatise on homosexuality is considered a disrespect for halacha, in which case many of us (including Rabbi Gold) are guilty.

    Briefly, Rabbi Gold claims that “Public acceptance of orientation makes the entire community complicit.” This is a bad argument, for it is either halachic or non-halachic. If it is halachic, then he has failed to provide any halachic evidence for the reader. If it is non-halachic, then on what basis is he claiming that the authors of the statement are chipping away at halacha?

    Finally, “Does this not validate the homosexual relationship through the back door?”

    That one’s just funny.

  16. Michael Pershan

    We now move on to the third section of R’ Gold’s critique. I contend that there are several more very bad arguments in this section.

    To begin, let’s cite the second paragraph of the statement of principles:

    “2. The question of whether sexual orientation is primarily genetic, or rather environmentally generated, is irrelevant to our obligation to treat human beings with same-sex attractions and orientations with dignity and respect.”

    R’ Gold writes: “Paragraph 2 subtly changes the focus to issues other than Halacha as the basis for discussion, as if to say that Halacha confers no negative status on the homosexual under any circumstances. The issue is a social-compact one, not a Halachic one.”

    What is R’ Gold’s basis for the claim that the above paragraph changes the focus to issues other than Halacha? Where in that statement does it indicate that Halacha confers no negative status on the homosexual under any circumstances?

    Presumably–since I can’t figure out anything else that he might be talking about–Rabbi Gold is repeating his claim that the Torah does not require one to treat everyone with dignity and respect, and he interprets this to mean that Halacha confers no negative status on the homosexual. This is a bad argument, though, because one may treat someone with dignity and respect and still confer a negative status on them. For instance, it’s possible to treat an adulterer with dignity and respect, despite believing that the adulterer is sinful. Further, since the authors believe that halacha requires one to treat every human with dignity and respect, it is unclear to me where Rabbi Gold thinks this switches the issue to a social one. Indeed, it seems to be another bad argument.

    I will close this section by discussing another bad argument that Rabbi Gold provides. Here is my most generous reconstruction of his argument:

    1. Paragraph 9 states that it is the responsibility of the lay and rabbinic leadership in each individual community to determine eligibility for particular religious offices.
    2. If the lay leadership is involved in the determination of eligibility, then the determination must be a non-halachic one.
    3. If there is a non-halachic determination in the case of eligibility for particular religious offices, then there is also going to be non-halachic determination of all other issues relating to homosexuals.
    4. CONCLUSOIN: The purpose of the document is to permit full range of involvement in all manner of communal affairs to the homosexual and to remove this issue from the domain of Halachic Standards to the laity based on communal harmony and communal culture standards.

    There are several severe issues with this argument as it stands. Indeed, one can challenge the second and third premises, as well as the move to the conclusion. The second premise is false, because the religious offices under discussion are those positions that require that “the entire congregation must be fully comfortable with having that person serve as its representative.” As such, it will be important to have the lay leadership involved, in order to determine if the entire congregation is fully comfortable with the religious officer. The rabbi will presumably do the halachic determining for the community.

    Even if this premise were true, however, the third premise also seems false. Rabbi Gold seems to have fallen prey to the fallacy of composition–that the property of a part will extend to the whole. Even if it were true that one issue is being dealt with non-halachically, it certaily doesn’t follow that all issues pertaining to homosexuality will be dealt with non-halachically.

    Finally, the move to the conclusion is unjustified. The statement seems fairly upfront about its purposes. Rabbi Gold seems to mistrust the explicit statement of the statements purposes, instead favoring the view that the statement is part of an extensive agenda that will move the entire issue of homosexuality into the realm of policy, out of halacha. Since the statement repeatedly mentions halachic restrictions, injunctions and guidelines this seems highly unlikely.

  17. “D) It creates a ‘protected class’ that is more deserving of communal focus than others.”

    This sounds a bit too much like the Jim-Crow South accusing white civil rights activists of being “ni**er lovers”. Whites got involved with Black civil rights not because they loved black people so much in particular, but because blacks in America were subject to particularly bad treatment. The same goes with the Statement. The writer and signers the statement don’t like or respect gays more than any other member of the Orthodox community. they are simply acknowledging the fact that gays have it particularly tough, and are subject to a particularly (and undeservedly) high level of disrespect, in the Orthodox community.

  18. Michael Pershan

    Finally, in this comment I will contend with several bad arguments made by Rabbi Gold in his final section.

    The first bad argument is one that is not only Rabbi Gold’s; it’s one that Gil made last week. The argument goes that the statement should have been more inclusive of other pained and disenfranchised members of the community who need compassion and understanding. Indeed–as it goes–the fact that this statement was made exclusively concerning homosexuals suggests that the statement was not made soley out of compassion for suffering homosexuals, but rather just as part of the gay agenda that’s sweeping the nation.

    This is a bad argument, because if this were true then we should NEVER have public statements made in support of specific people that suffer in our communities. However, this is not the case. The RCA made public statements urging the community to offer compassion and understanding to abuse victims. At the very least a distinction needs to be made between those individual groups for which it is OK to offer specific support, and homosexuals, for whom it is (apparently) not OK.

    There’s a good reason to offer a specific, well-defined statement instead of a broader one. It’s a matter of message: if you believe that there is mistreatment of homosexuals in the Orthodox community, then a broad statement would not call attention to the mistreatment of homosexuals in specific. The message would be muddled among all the other groups (and we have to list ALL of them, it seems) that suffer. The effect would be that none of the individual groups will gain any benefit from such a statement. If one is going to make such a statement, better not to make any statement at all. But if you think that a statement will be effective at helping Orthodox Jews who suffer as homosexuals in our communities, then this is unacceptable.

    In conclusion, the reason this is a bad argument is because it presumes that there are radical differences between the drafters of the statement and Rabbi Gold instead of numerous significant, yet smaller, ones. While Rabbi Gold seems to see an agenda in the statement, the specificity of the statement makes perfect sense under the following assumptions:

    1. There is a problem with mistreatment of homosexuals in the Orthodox community.
    2. A statement can do something about it.
    3. A statement that includes several issues will fail to address any.

    Finally, with regard to the question “Why now?” Rabbi Gold thinks this betrays a connection between the statement and a current social agenda. However, the decision to release this statement at the present time can be fully explained if we add one further assumption:

    4. The mistreatment of homosexuals in the Orthodox community is more serious than the mistreatment of others in the community, and hence its correction is more urgent.

    Since these four (awfully reasonable) assumptions explain the nature and timing of the statement, and since halacha requires giving one the benefit of the doubt instead of spreading lashon hara about the intentions of good, kind, servants of klal yisrael, I’m surprised that this blog was host to the kind of speculation and poor argumentation found in this post by Rabbi Gold.

    OK, I’m done. Enough for one night. (http://xkcd.com/386/).

  19. “…because he could.”

    I see R’ Gold’s subject is the “Statement” and not the ruling against CA Prop. 8, but why this gratuitous swipe? How could R’ Gold know that this was anything like Judge Walker’s motive? OTOH, it’s a handy formula to dismiss a 130+ page opinion without addressing any of the judge’s actual reasoning. Why not credit the judge with a conscientious, scrupulous effort in good faith to determine the constitutionality of Prop. 8? If a judge rules on a point of law in a way we would not have wanted, does it follow that he ruled so “because he could”?

  20. Before I actually respond: Joseph Kaplan. From my own experience, posts that devolve into political debates between you and Steve Brizel make it far less worthwhile to actually read the comments. They go nowhere, as you certainly know from experience. Please, just this once, let him have the last word?

  21. Michael Pershan

    “Last week a Federal judge in San Francisco decided to wield the power given to him to overturn the will of the people of the State of California and thousands of years of precedent to promote an agenda whose historic background is barely 50 years old—because he could.”

    Indeed, he can. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marbury_v._Madison

  22. Actually, a lot of what I would like to say, Michael Pershan said already. Plus he did the work that I’m usually too lazy to do of outlining the arguments into syllogisms and pointing out the fallacies. Though really, usually there aren’t nearly this many, so kol hakavod. (Gil, I don’t usually say this, usually I respect that different people will differ on the precise line dividing “crap” from “legitimate views that may or may not have mistakes embedded in them.” But really, how on earth did you see fit to post this crap?)

    A quick point that angered me enough to get out of bed and comment:

    That same paragraph neglects to distinguish between the homosexual who recognizes that his behavior is incorrect but has control/desire issues and the homosexual that wants to be accepted with, and respectful of, his orientation. The Halacha, under certain conditions, mandates shunning, admonishing, and other punitive measures that by nature embarrass, harass and/or demean one who is “omed b’merdo,” yet this foundation paragraph considers that to be “a violation of Torah prohibitions that embody the deepest values of Judaism.”

    I am moheh as much as I can be. This is nonsense. Every – EVERY – Jewish leader in the 20th century has followed the Chazon Ish on this, who claims that these halakhot are to be ignored in the present day. There is no way R. Gold does not know this. The fact that he chose to include this red herring – along with the slew of other inappropriate political and ideological jabs that are the province of the dull-witted and simple-minded – indicates that his goal is not to refute the arguments for the Statement of Principles, but to defeat them; not to demonstrate the fact that they’re incorrect, but to do enough hand-waving to confuse those reading with a conservative political and religious outlook into thinking he’s done so. I can’t think of a better definition of ziyuf hatorah.

  23. A few points that others here haven’t touched on:

    “Paragraph 8 declares that Jews with homosexual orientations or same sex-attractions should be welcomed as full members of the synagogue and school community. Public acceptance of orientation makes the entire community complicit and enabling of the active homosexual’s transgression and adds another roadblock in the individual’s struggle to balance his urges and sensations with Torah and Halacha.”

    Except that the entire document is quite explicit in stating that acting on such urges are assur. There isn’t an issue of “balance” here. Moreover, R’ Gold does not seem to have noted the phrase “school community.” While that may refer to parents, it may also refer to students. Is R’ Gold suggesting that we ban any student who comes out from any day school?

    “Paragraph 11 states that communities should display sensitivity, acceptance and full embrace of the adopted or biological children of homosexually active Jews. Does this not validate the homosexual relationship through the back door? This document has moved from kevod haberiyot, to accepting orientation to permitting communal involvement and ritual leadership to accepting those involved in blatant public homosexual activity. Quite a declaration of principles!”

    How exactly does this relate at all to those “involved in blatant public homosexual activity?” It has nothing to do with the homosexuals! If a sincere student came to a day school whose parents were blatantly violating shabbat and/or kashrut, we wouldn’t turn them away. Nor, for that matter, would we rail against their parents for their actions. We would quietly take the kid, teach them halacha, and do our best to get them to be halachically committed Jews.

    “This also disenfranchises the divorcee with children who doesn’t fit in and the older single, both of whom now must deal with being valued for their non-existent “homosexuality.” ”

    How, exactly? No one is being forced to say that they’re homosexual.

    “It also leaves out those with deviant financial orientations, with divergent animal-rights and labor orientations, with different communal education orientations, many of whom have been pilloried by the same good-hearted people who can’t abide the discrimination against gays in our community.”

    So write a statement of principles supporting them!

    “If we put G-d and Torah before agenda then we might have a consensus document that would address the real problems facing Judaism, instead of piggy-backing on secular society’s agenda and calling it Jewish compassion.”

    What exactly are the real problems facing Judaism? I can, to be honest, think of several, among them 300,000 Russian olim who would like to convert but not necessarily be kabbalat ol mitzvot, the massive costs of day school and yeshiva tuitions, which are still rising far faster than wages or inflation (disclaimer: I am a day school teacher), and the willingness to defend criminals while shielding child molesters. I’d love to see you suggest some methods to deal with some or all of these problems. With that said, the issue of homosexuals is certainly a relevant one in many communities (though perhaps not in R Gold’s), and those who wrote this document were dealing with the issue in the best, most sensitive and still halachic manner possible.

  24. Gil,
    I need time to work on a response to this screed, which i take as personal attack and indeed rechilus against me and all those who signed.
    I have one request, when putting up a guest post, including those by yours truly, I think that it would make sense to put in a by line which includes some information about the author. That would allow commentators to contextualize and better respond to the posts.

    i have now idea if i am responding to serious talmid chacham and communal leader of whom i happen never to have heard or some kid who never finished smicha but gets called Rabbi because he is the youth director in a shul.

  25. What on Earth is he talking about when he says that a Sanhedrin can “abrogate a Torah law”? The Sanhedrin *never* “abrogates” Torah law. Is that his dream? That a future Sanhedrin will rule that homosexual sodomy is A-OK?

    Whether or not the California judge (who, as it happens, is very much a nogeiah b’davar) is right or wrong, I remain convinced that all the “frum” defenders of this statement here who refuse to simply say he was wrong are showing their true colors. If there’s anything Orthodox people should be able to agree on, “feelings of compassion” for gays or no, it’s that gay marriage is a big no-no. In California, again leaving legal issues aside, we have a litmus test for all the “compassionate” folk here. You don’t think that this is a very bad development for society, from the point of view of the Big Guy upstairs? Then I’m afraid there’s little else to discuss with you. You’ve placed yourself outside of thousands of years of Jewish tradition simply because of a few years old bicoastal cultural zeitgeist. Sorry. Listen a little more closely this week when the Torah talks about toeivot.

  26. OK, let me be generous: I’m sure the “this velt, yennem velt, Roosevelt” legacy has a lot to do with this.

  27. Jon: You got it.

  28. “That is a classical liberal POV, but it is pedantic and assumes
    that the liberal elites know more than the unvarnished masses”

    The judge is not part of the “liberal elite”, he is a right winger appointed by Reagan and Bush whose appointment was opposed by, among others, Nancy Pelosi.

    “Whether or not the California judge (who, as it happens, is very much a nogeiah b’davar) is right or wrong, I remain convinced that all the “frum” defenders of this statement here who refuse to simply say he was wrong are showing their true colors.”

    This statement makes no sense. If Judaism requires me to say that something is wrong when it is right, it is a false religion. And while I’m no constitutional lawyer, the statements of facts in the judge’s opinion closely follow the evidence presented in the trial. The pro-Prop 8 people may have screwed this one up, big time.

  29. “Courtesy is due all people, but honor and dignity are earned, not
    due by dint of birth.”

    I also find this statement to be horrendous. What about disabled individuals who can never take care of themselves, much less “earn” anything? The Nazis used this kind of argument!

  30. I love the fact that to win an argument, all one needs to do is claim that the other side is influenced by Conservative Judaism and that card takes the hand. Its very much akin to the Mccarthy era when a mere mention that someone was a closet communist was enough to destroy a career. But of course when you can’t win through the persuasiveness of your thought, why not fall back on sly and insulting innuendo. This article is just another in a litany of tone-deaf, sputtering, cold, diatribes by people who are supposed to be the holy representatives of the Jewish people. There is no feeling in it, nor I imagine in its author. Self righteousness in religious personalities is probably one of the most unattractive of all possible traits.

  31. I used the work “pithy” above. Serves me right that I used it improperly. To quote Inigo Montoya: “I do not think that word means what you think it means.” Only here I am Vizzini. Humpty Dumpty may say a word means “just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less,” but I’ll try to re-express what I chose to mean so that you too can know what was meant.

    Words that better meant what I meant are “insulting,” “unappealing,” or “red herring.” I could go on. I won’t.

  32. Charlie, you must be a very political person. You’re always identifying party with political philosophy. Come on- you know as well as anyone that appointment by a particular president means nothing. Warren wasn’t so conservative, was he? How about Souter? At the state levels, judges are essentially the picks of their senators.

    Oh, and he’s gay. That’s what I meant by “nogeiah b’davar.”

    In any event, I figure you’ll be my test case. So, leave all of your warped ideas about constitutional rights out of this. Let’s assume, arguendo, that legally this judicial crackpot is on firm ground. Great.

    Tachlis: Do you think that one man should be allowed to marry another?

  33. I wonder why folks can’t just say something like: “My lev shel torah tells me this is a big issue in this generation and we need to…….. (embrace, reject, ignore…); because of this I’m going to make a series of micro-halachic statements coupled with some aggadic support for my position {knowing full well that if we were in a debats class I could easily construct the mirror image argument that my opponents will make using the same structure but different supporting opinions/aggadah})”

    KT

  34. OU Fan: I will be deleting your comments for trying to damage someone professionally but let me point out that 1) readers have asked more for guest posts, 2) I’ve had a busy few weeks and went out looking for guest posts (Rabbi Gold was kind enough to find time in his busy schedule, although it took him a few late nights), 3) I don’t agree with a lot of what Rabbi Gold wrote but I agree with much of it, 4) I’ve already received a few e-mails from people I respect thanking me for posting it. Just because you disagree with something does not mean that everyone does.

  35. Sorry but I can’t comment more. Busy day.

  36. Nachum, you’re being disingenuous. Judge Walker has always had a reputation of being conservative with — and you should like this –libertarian leanings. And re Warren and Souter: sometimes Presidents get it wrong. But are you claiming that Bush appointed souter because he was a liberal? Do you deny he thought he was conservative? (We all make mistakes.)

    As for his being gay, I guess female judges have to recuse thenmselves in discrimination against women cases, African American judges have to recuse themselves in discrimination against African American cases, and white judges have to recuse themselves from cases where whites are being accused of doing the discrimination. Not too many judges left. And his representation of the US Olympic Committee against the Gay Olympics was, I guess, simply a set up so eventually he could get this case and impose his agenda on all of us. How clever they are.

    But I am happy that the world of Hirhurim comments is now back to normal. 🙂

  37. It actually is true in this case and I know it for a fact. Since I am going to keep deleting your ad hominem comments, if you want to discuss this you can e-mail me [email protected]

  38. Legit question: do you edit guest posts or leave them as is?

  39. First, full disclosure – I am on the list of those asked to sign who ultimately decided not to. As the author of the statement can attest to, I gave it substansial thought and my reasons for not signing are not for this post.

    However, a thought experiment for signers and non-signers alike. Obviously, the statement of principles was motivated by a sincere and heartfelt desire to ease the pain felt by a certain group within society. Also obviously, this statement take steps that some find to be a bit too far.

    Now let’s compare to another recent (sort of) issue based on similar premises – hatarat agunot. No doubt that those affected by such a situation are in pain that cannot be easily solved. Also no doubt that Rabbi Rackman z”l was sincere in his efforts to help to ease their pain. And yet, there has been far less acceptance of his actions than there seems to be of this statement.

    Is that because Rabbi Rackman took action by setting up a beit din while this is “merely” words? Is that because Rabbi Rackman’s case was based on a certain reading of halacha while this statement sticks to feel-good terminology without getting into halacha? Do people believe that this statement of principles will not eventually lead some communal leaders to confront actual halachic situations down the road? Is it because agunot do not have the broader aura of “persecuted minority” status attached to them? Is it because the Rov denounced Rabbi Rackman’s views but no one with broad enough shoulders has done the same this statement?

    Again, I present this merely as something to think about. Many good friends and people I respect tremendously have signed the statement, and I trust that they know fully why they did so. Just trying to open the issue a little further.

  40. Joseph Kaplan wrote :

    “Steve, I assume you thought the same thing about Brown. But you miss my larger point. I actually read the opinion and certainly think that there are grounds to disagree with its constitutional analysis . But that wasn’t R. Gold’s (or your) criticism. As I said before right or wrong, it was not done simply as an exercise of power; it was done because the judge’s analysis of the Constitution led him to the conclusions he did. Obviously, higher courts will opine about this as well. But the argument “the liberal elites know more than the unvarnished masses” can be made about Brown, school prayer, the decision preempting California’s law on medical marijuana, or the decision overruling state and local laws (i.e., the will of the people) imposing gun control. You see, elitism and activism can be both liberal and conservative. It’s the Constitution, not “the will of the people” that governs”

    Full confession time-I consider myself a devotee of Bickel, Ely and Bork with respect to the power of the Supreme Court. I think that Brown v Board of Education was a great decision because it was based on the evidence presented and developed in the lower courts, especially the proof submitted by Dr. Kenneth Clarke. Richard Kluger’s work on the background of this case remains the basis for any understanding of how the case was litigated in the lower Federal courts and the background of the Supreme Court’s rullng. I think that it is a mistake to claim that decisions on medical marijuana, school prayer and gun control share that evidentiary and constituional basis.

    I think that the judge’s ruling is a raw exercise of power because it is the wrong result predicated on how the judge views marriage, as opposed to any firm constitutional criteria. It is an exercise in substantive due process that should be deplored for its unwarranted jurisprudential sweep and interference in an area that is a subject of much debate in the US. Like it or not, analysis of the Constitution, neither is limited to its four corners nor rooted in “penumbras” that have no textual or historical basis, but include an appreciation of which cases to hear, and many other procedural niceties that preserve its role as the final arbiter of what it is right. Merely intoning that the Constitution governs is only the beginning, and not the end of any constitutional inquiry.

  41. Shachar Ha'amim

    Aaron Ross – your comparison is not valid. Rabbi Rackman’s Beit Din is a Halachic issue of potential mamzeirut – not social policy.
    The correct comparison would be to the acceptance of pre-nuptial agreements which basically lead to a situation of quickie no-fault divorces. One can easily come to a formulation that dispenses with ANY get meuseh issues (and thus potential mazeirut) and yet there is still the issue of do we want as a community to advocate solution that radically change the tenor of marriage and have the potential to undermine the stability of the family framework in order to “solve” an issue that only affects very few people? The same questions can be asked here with respect to the SOP and acceptance of homosexuals – as such – in the religious community

  42. Is it possible to distinguish between American jurisprudence and Halakha? i woudl certainly hope so. I read most of the court ruling and the opinion, while challengeable, is cogent and well thought out.. truth is there is no evidence suggesting that gay couples pose any harm or undermine the strength of a family unit. I’ve seen this in my own extended family, where both kids are developing quite nicely. Since the framers of the Constitution could never have anticipated an era where such a question would arise (just like they probably could not envision a time when Blacks would be considered mental equals to Whites), the Constitution is more open to interpretation on the issue of marriage.

    Halakha is different and must hue to a mesora. Takanot are rarely administered and certainly the ones with staying power (e.g. R Gershon on marriage) are even more rare. From an Orthodox perspective i cannot support religious gay marriages. but from an American law, civilly i don’t see the grounds to stop it.. the legal underpinnings prohibiting it civilly are weak, at best.
    Last point, R. Gold’s piece in many ways does a disservice to those who may want to support him. His Conservative canard toward Orthodox rabbis and lay who signed the declaration undermines any intellectual argument he seeks to make. it seemed that once he was unable to offer a persuasive argument that he would go back to Conservatives and R. Sperber. Aspersions usually fall on desperate people… There are sound reasons to uphold Halakha, unfortunately, his fails the test.

  43. much has been said by people smarter than me on this blog but 2 observations:
    ” Is the mitzvah of p’ru ur’vu not important enough for one to pause before dismissing marriage out of hand?”
    i guess r’gold has a high respect for women – being that a gay man should consider marrying and fulfilling the mitzvah of pru u’revu without being attracted to the person and her just being an empty vessel to do a mitzvah(not considering the consequences of what happens on the down low and living a lie – good marriage therapy anyone?). talk about sympathy to others

    the rmajority of rabbis that signed the statement of principles are either well respected rabbis ordained by yu or israeli orthodox rabbis. this a seismic event in that they are openly disagreeing with the ry at yu. they are pulling away – openly and organized – from the haskafa orientation of their alma mater’s current roshei yeshiva and that is significant.

  44. ruvie: I agree with you on this and wish to highlight it:

    the majority of rabbis that signed the statement of principles are either well respected rabbis ordained by yu or israeli orthodox rabbis. this a seismic event in that they are openly disagreeing with the ry at yu. they are pulling away – openly and organized – from the haskafa orientation of their alma mater’s current roshei yeshiva and that is significant.

  45. Michael Rogovin

    Re the court’s decision: while I may oppose gay marriage from a religious POV, I am not sure of the basis for opposing it on a civil level. Actually, I oppose ALL civil marriage since I view marriage as a religious and not civil act. I think that marriage should be left to religious groups and they can make any decision about who can or cannot marry each other and it is none of my business if some religion permits gay or incestuous or anything else. I would favor a different civil union, but would again, not restrict who people can live with. I just do not see an appropriate government role in determining what people do with whom, so long as we are dealing with adults who want to do it. Of course, I think that it is halachicly wrong because the Torah says so. Thus I would oppose any lessening of restrictions on actions that are assur within the Jewish community. But since I do not recognize civil marriage as having any validity for Jews, I don’t see why I should care.

    Everything else I might have said has been said by others. Rabbi Gold’s statement is flawed in its reasoning, logic, assumptions and his reading of the peshat of the SOP; I have little to add. I will only reiterate that his attitude toward the children of gay people who violate no issur must be treated differently from other children (shunned?) is astonishing and disturbing.

  46. Brown was a lousy decision because it did not, contrary to popular belief, overrule Plessy (“separate but equal”). Instead, it brought claims that separate *cannot* be equal, for psychological reasons. That’s not a wild claim, but it would have been easier to simply say that blacks are American citizens and thus there can be no laws distinguishing them. (Of course, that would have scotched affirmative action, but that was a decade or more in the future.)

    In any event, it’s completely inapplicable here. There had been a strong movement for equal rights for blacks since 1776. A Civil War had been fought for the cause. The discrimination was artificial, created by government law and upheld by a crazy Supreme Court decision. Blacks had equal rights in many states, passed legitimately by legislatures. (Indeed, Brown had little effect until Congress passed legislation. Even that had little effect until Southern states did the same.) None of those factors are present in gay marriage, which has only been a cause for a few years, has no democratic or legislative (or popular) support, etc. etc.

    Oh, and God (or natural law, or Darwin, or take your pick) has no problem with black and white kids being in the same school, Emmanuel or Petah Tikva notwithstanding. (Well, Darwin maybe. God no.) All three *do* have a problem with homosexuality.

  47. “I am not sure of the basis for opposing it on a civil level.”

    You’re kidding, right? You think that civil society should reflect your religious values not at all? Listen closely in shul this week.

  48. Jon, it’s difficult but a promise is a promise. But let me just note the following:

    Steve: “I think that Brown v Board of Education was a great decision.”

    Nachum: “Brown was a lousy decision.”

    Who am I to intrude?

  49. gil – to be fair that is an observation of a friend but i do agree with it and do not think my statement implies its either good or bad – its an observation. i do think its good.
    also, in israel where there is no threat of conservative and reform movements (where orthodox would defect to) rabbis seem to be more open minded about different possibilities in orthodoxy. the argument of chukay haminim doesn’t hold water.

  50. Shachar Ha'amim

    “but from an American law, civilly i don’t see the grounds to stop it.. the legal underpinnings prohibiting it civilly are weak, at best.”

    what about a re-visitation of the supreme court decisions from the late 19th century which upheld the constitutionality of laws banning polygamy? what are the legal underpinnings prohibiting polygamy after this decision about gay marriage?

  51. R Gil highlighted this post:

    “the majority of rabbis that signed the statement of principles are either well respected rabbis ordained by yu or israeli orthodox rabbis. this a seismic event in that they are openly disagreeing with the ry at yu. they are pulling away – openly and organized – from the haskafa orientation of their alma mater’s current roshei yeshiva and that is significant.”

    One question remains-who do these well respected rabbis turn to for questions that they themselves find beyond their base of knowledge?
    Two more observations-Beis Shammai BMakom Beis Hillel Aino Mishneh.
    We follow Halacha KRabim as an operating Klal in Psak and Hashkafa-only in cases of Safek. Even if the signatories to the SOP outnumbered the RY in RIETS, it would be viewed as their view, but by no means relevant as to how the Baalei Mesorah in our community view the issue.

  52. ruvie, Rav Shapira from Ramat Gan made headlines when he referred to the “neo-Reformim” within the RZ camp.

  53. “Baalei Mesorah in our community”

    Steve, isn’t is possible that perhaps good people disagree about who are the baalei mesorah? Do you concede that much, or do you think there is an objective definition for who counts?

  54. gil- is Rabbi Jeremy weider not a rosh yeshiva? Rabbi Blau? when you say the YU Roshei Yeshiva you mean rabbis Schachter, Willig, Rosensweig and Twersky i guess

  55. Personally- while I do not agree fully with the statement of principles, it I a lot better than Rabbi Twersky et al’s take on this. And this is not about a Conservative agenda. It is about giving voice to the silent moderate majority at YU and in Modern Orthodoxy who do not see things from the neo-charedi perspective of the RIETS 4.

  56. One question remains-who do these well respected rabbis turn to for questions that they themselves find beyond their base of knowledge?

    Who do the YU rebbeim turn to for questions that they themselves find beyond their base of knowledge?

    they are pulling away – openly and organized – from the haskafa orientation of their alma mater’s current roshei yeshiva and that is significant

    Why the implication they are pulling away? I know at least some of the signatories and they were always more to the left then RHS.

    Why does the selection of someone from YU Rosh Yeshiva, imply someone has been elevated above one’s peers? The extent of it that I can think of is it means the person will have the opportunity to mold the minds of the next few batches of rabbeim.

    The implication of the terminology is that they are trying to create a new denomination (in cahoots with YCT?) and that is not a fair characterization.

    What’s happening now is that the right is taking previously kosher and still-well-respected rabbis and placing them outside the mesorah now so they and their views can be discounted. Exactly as before with WTG, anyone who does this can not be a talmid chacham so by definition there will never be a talmid chacham backing a WTG. RAW may have opened the door for himself (or maybe not) but there are people all to happy to throw all to the left of them out as well.

  57. richard – i believe that orthodoxy in israel has many different divisions( how people feel they affiliate)- or people refer to themselves not just dati or dati leumi or dati leumi mordernie, or datlash etc – as oppose to the us where its left, centrist, right.
    “neo – reformim” is that code for post orthodox ? or are they still viewed as orthodox? as oppose to people here trying to push them out of orthodoxy – calling them beyond the pale and insisting they be thrown out of the rca etc.

  58. Skeptic wrote:
    “Steve, isn’t is possible that perhaps good people disagree about who are the baalei mesorah? Do you concede that much, or do you think there is an objective definition for who counts”

    I subscribe to the objective definition which is rooted in the Gadlus and Tzidkus of a Talmid Chacham , his Torah knowledge and connections with the Baalei Mesorah of prior generations which entitle him to be considered as such, not the election of a person by the not so educated masses. Their personae as Baalei Mesorah IMO reflects their very profound appreciation of the Ratzon HaTorah and the ins and outs of TSBP.

  59. “what about a re-visitation of the supreme court decisions from the late 19th century which upheld the constitutionality of laws banning polygamy? what are the legal underpinnings prohibiting polygamy after this decision about gay marriage?”

    Shachar- government interest. This judge’s ruling boiled down to 1) equal protection and 2) the fact that the pro-prop 8 folks didn’t have an interest other than “morality,” which the constitution doesn’t recognize. There’s no evidence to show that gay marriage is frequently harmful to those who participate in it (from observable phenomena), that it has a negative impact on children in such a household, or on society in general. Contrast that with polygamy, which brings up significant issues in the power some spouses have over others and which, in order to work, necessitates putting a lot more single men into society than there are single women. The government has a pretty strong interest there.

  60. HAGTBG wrote:

    “Why does the selection of someone from YU Rosh Yeshiva, imply someone has been elevated above one’s peers? The extent of it that I can think of is it means the person will have the opportunity to mold the minds of the next few batches of rabbeim”

    That is illustrative of a lack of knowledge that RIETS RY are viewed as within MO. The RY serve as Marbitzei Torah to the entire MO world, publish wonderful seforim and are consulted on all sorts of issues of Halacha and Hashkafa within the MO world.The RY are hardly just imparting Shas and Poskim as walking encyclopedias to their talmidim, a view that RYBS and RAL both decried. The question remains-who would you consult on any issue of halacha-complex or not so complex? who should you consult on issues affecting the entire MO world?

  61. “gil- is Rabbi Jeremy weider not a rosh yeshiva? Rabbi Blau? when you say the YU Roshei Yeshiva you mean rabbis Schachter, Willig, Rosensweig and Twersky i guess”

    YU Guy- I disagree with most of what Gil has said here, but he’s right on this comment. R Yosef Blau is technically not a Rosh Yeshiva, and neither he nor R’ Wieder has signed onto this document, regardless of their personal veiwpoints.

    “I subscribe to the objective definition which is rooted in the Gadlus and Tzidkus of a Talmid Chacham , his Torah knowledge and connections with the Baalei Mesorah of prior generations which entitle him to be considered as such”

    Steve- Under this definition, would R’ Yitzchak Blau count as a baal mesorah? How about (someone who didn’t sign this document), R’ Y. H. Henkin?

    “not the election of a person by the not so educated masses.”

    I’m curious what you mean by the “not so educated masses.” We’re living in a time with more learning going on than in any period in history. What does it take to ascend from the masses?

  62. Chaim Markowitz

    I just want to thank Rabbi Gold for his words. Yasher Koach.

  63. I dont get it. From a purely journalistic point of view, why print a second guest piece attacking the SoP rehashing many of the same arguments?

  64. yu guy – rabbi blau -i thought is mashgiach ruchani, r’ weider is a young ry and does not have the respect or gravitas as the others in the real world. i do not think that r’ rosenwig is on the same page as the others but he is silent (to my limited knowledge)to the world outside yu(and people hoped he would take a more public persona).

  65. >Paragraph 1 assumes that it is a self evident truth that all human beings “deserve to be treated with dignity and respect (kevod haberiyot),” a concept that, aside from being benign, seems actually to be self-evident. It is not true, though. Courtesy is due all people, but honor and dignity are earned, not due by dint of birth.

    >Neither term translates as kevod haberiyot. Why then, use these terms as the opening principle upon which the document rests?

    >Perhaps this will inform us. Rabbi Sperber used the term “kevod haberiyot” to establish a principle of the honor of the individual that would override communal honor and permit women to be called to the Torah. Conservative Judaism used kevod haberiyot, loosely interpreted as “human dignity” as it has evolved in contemporary society, to liberalize its approach to homosexuality. Thus, the document bases its approach on Conservative and Sperberian principles, and accepting this document is essentially affirming Conservative Judaism’s approach to Halacha.

    I didn’t know you were allowed to make a gezera shava without a mesorah.

  66. Ruvie-I agree with your assessment. R M Rosensweig IIRC also signed the statement of the RIETS RY which can be found at Torahweb.

  67. steve – so did richard joel…not sure what r’ rosenswig really believes in(not saying his arm was twisted but was richard joel’s) – he is generally silent on haskafa issues to my limited knowledge

  68. w/r/t RIETS R”Y- it’s an interesting dynamic, and not just in RIETS-much like R’MF writing that he became a posek by writing tshuvot that people found appropriate and so they kept coming back- we get the leadership “we” want.

    KT

  69. hagtbg – “Why the implication they are pulling away? I know at least some of the signatories and they were always more to the left then RHS.”

    Because the list includes people not known for being left wing (they aren’t). pulling away was meant to imply that the yu ry do not speak for them. i think rabbis are tired of the riets 4 being on the only voice out there or representing proper mo view.

    “The implication of the terminology is that they are trying to create a new denomination (in cahoots with YCT?) and that is not a fair characterization.”
    never meant to imply that they are setting up their denomination. english is not my mother tongue (i am an awful writer). i think they believe they wanted to correct the negative yu’s ry gave on this topic and that there are rabbis out there that they can talk to (and its ot a simple topic of black and white on how to deal with this issue in our times).

  70. Ruvie-RMR writes on Torahweb, of which he is a member of the Board. Unless you know that his arm was twisted, I would hesitate at making such comments. The statement at Torahweb is far different and more emphatic than the statement that President Joel signed.

  71. hagtg – “Why does the selection of someone from YU Rosh Yeshiva, imply someone has been elevated above one’s peers? The extent of it that I can think of is it means the person will have the opportunity to mold the minds of the next few batches of rabbeim.”

    simple. since the rav was considered the father (but not the only religious leader)of the mo world till his passing away – yu has been the bastion of rabbis in the mo world. the fact that the current ry lack the intellectual heft and gravitas outside of talmud and halacha (generalization here)e.g. philosophy – they still have the aura of the rav’s legacy. the american jewry looks to yu as a leader in mo.

    my opinion is that american mo needs to look to israel for their future hashkafa – har etzion in particular. we lack brave leaders who can think and are willing to live in/with the tensions of modernity (as oppose to the shtetel of old)

  72. Ruvie-RMR writes on Torahweb, of which he is a member of the Board. Unless you know that his arm was twisted, I would hesitate at making such comments. The statement at Torahweb is far different and more emphatic than the statement that President Joel signed. You can see more of RMR’s many hashkafic statements at Torahweb.

  73. >About controlling thoughts: Certainly one can, just as many yeshiva teenage boys train themselves to not think about girls. It’s not easy, but it’s possible.

    Even assuming that this actually occurs, it is not for the rest of their lives. It’s for a few years which go by quickly. Even for the rare bochur who never marries, he has no idea when he is 16 that his cards are no sexual outlet in his lifetime, ever.

    It may be possible for some people to control their thoughts some of the time, but not all people and not all of the time, especially not coupled with the knowledge that there never will be an outlet – not even to think about it.

  74. jlan – ” R Yosef Blau is technically not a Rosh Yeshiva, and neither he nor R’ Wieder has signed onto this document, regardless of their personal veiwpoints.”

    i think unless you want to be fired at yu one could not sign this statement. r’ blau is black and blue over the gay panel issue. do you think he would want to give richard joel more grief? some folks at yu were warned unless your job is secured forever don’t get involved. why bring grief to your life – is it worth it?

  75. Ruvie-IIRC, RAL has declined on more than one occasion to respond to halachic and hashkafic queries sent to him from the US simply because he views the same as the domain of Baalei Mesorah in the US.See RAL’s assessment of RIETS today in the YUJudaica book. I don’t think that American MO should be viewing anywhere other than RIETS as the sources for Halacha and Hashkafa inasmuch the issues confronted in the US are far different than the issues that RZ/MO in Israel is facing.

  76. steve b. – sorry to disagree but as ral has stated you can find rabbis with less stature(and learning) that have your hashkafa than to rely on those that don’t. rav aaharon refuses to pasken for american jews but that doesn’t mean you canot use him as a guidepost for your hashkafa issues (which i do)…i am hoping over time that many har etzion grads come to the us to be rabbis here (but i doubt if they we leave israel except for kollel etzion batei midrashes). do you think ral would said a bad word publicly about reits/yu or anything – no proof that he has the same hashkafa as the current heads of reits because he does not.

  77. “Brown had little effect until Congress passed legislation. ”

    Totally untrue.

    Major cities such as St. Louis, Baltimore, and Washington, DC eliminated their dual school systems shortly after the Brown decision despite no federal action. Eisenhower sent federal troops to Little Rock without waiting for Congressional action. State courts in Virginia were forcing integration in 1959. Neither the 1957 Civil Rights Act nor the 1960 Civil Rights Act had anything to do with education. It was judicial, not legislative, action that ended the dual school systems. And I strongly suspect they would remain to this day had it not been for that judicial activism.

  78. That is illustrative of a lack of knowledge that RIETS RY are viewed as within MO.

    Ah yes, that lack of knowledge. After all, I’ve only been MO my entire life. And am a YU graduate (as I’ve written in the past). But I digress.

    The RY serve as Marbitzei Torah to the entire MO world, publish wonderful seforim and are consulted on all sorts of issues of Halacha and Hashkafa within the MO world.The RY are hardly just imparting Shas and Poskim as walking encyclopedias to their talmidim, a view that RYBS and RAL both decried.

    The Rosh Yeshiva have a specific job description (and tenure). Some of the things they do, they do outside that job description. For example, when a RY would work at summer camp or speaks at a shul on Shabbat he does this on his own. RHS has earned his reputation and while his Rosh Yeshiva status burnishes it, I do him the credit that at this point his reputation and his status stems from more then his title.

    And for what its worth, the RY have different skill sets. Some rabbis that may make great teachers to future rabbeim may be bad pulpit rabbis. Or not. Depends on the man.

    The question remains-who would you consult on any issue of halacha-complex or not so complex? who should you consult on issues affecting the entire MO world?

    I consult my rabbi Steve on issues concernign myself. The one I trust. On issues affecting the entire MO world, I do not believe there is one address for deciding MO social policy. Today we have no king.

  79. Hm,

    Do you think the majority of Catholic priests have hirhurei aveirah on a regular basis? Do you think the pope does? Do you think they’re living tragic lives?

  80. HAGTBG wrote in part:

    “The Rosh Yeshiva have a specific job description (and tenure). Some of the things they do, they do outside that job description.”

    I thinnk that my description of what the RY in RIETS do is far more acccurate than their stature as tenured employees who receive a check from RIETS.

  81. Ruvie wrote in part:

    ” sorry to disagree but as ral has stated you can find rabbis with less stature(and learning) that have your hashkafa than to rely on those that don’t. rav aaharon refuses to pasken for american jews but that doesn’t mean you canot use him as a guidepost for your hashkafa issues (which i do)…i am hoping over time that many har etzion grads come to the us to be rabbis here (but i doubt if they we leave israel except for kollel etzion batei midrashes). do you think ral would said a bad word publicly about reits/yu or anything – no proof that he has the same hashkafa as the current heads of reits because he does not”

    Have you read RAL’s critiques of MO in the US in Leaves of Faith? I don’t sense much difference there than the critiques voiced either by RYBS as related by RAL himself by RIETS RY.

  82. One point that I think that needs to be articulated a little more clearly on this thread is the confusion of halacha and constitional law that is evident in some of the posts. I think that support or criticism of the court’s decision and the SOP should not be synthesized. IOW, if you think that the decision is wonderful or wrong from a constitutional law POV, you should say so that the perspective of constitutional law, without reference to halacha or hashkafa. If you think that the SOP either is right or indefensible from a halachic/hashkafic POV , say so, but don’t mix in arguments from constitutional law.

  83. Steve,

    How did you ascertain that the YU RY are the only ones appropriate to serve as the baalei mesorah for all of MO Jewry in the US? It seems reasonable to me that fair-minded people could disagree on this point, so I am somewhat surprised you feel that there is no room for disagreement. Obviously there are a lot of MO Jews who don’t feel that YU represents them (or their view of the mesorah). Are they simply wrong? Do they have an incorrect view of the mesorah? Or could there be a diversity of views on the mesorah and thus a diversity of people who can transmit it?

  84. steve = i do. its one thing to criticize the mo world in general. its another to point to a particular group of rabbis. on a personal note i have to talk to ral personally – on more than one ocassion – on some of the haskafa issues of the day – especially wtg – he does not share the same views of the reits five. but then again he says i do not have this issue in alon shvut so i have no intention in dealing with issues in the states (but he did say its a public policy issue and thought all the technical halachic could be resolved). he does not share the same haskafa on woman learning as well differs on the rabbah issue (for not permitting it – no yyy for him).

  85. ruvie, could you clarify your last sentence about RAL and rabbah?

  86. Skeptic wrote:
    “How did you ascertain that the YU RY are the only ones appropriate to serve as the baalei mesorah for all of MO Jewry in the US? It seems reasonable to me that fair-minded people could disagree on this point, so I am somewhat surprised you feel that there is no room for disagreement. Obviously there are a lot of MO Jews who don’t feel that YU represents them (or their view of the mesorah). Are they simply wrong? Do they have an incorrect view of the mesorah? Or could there be a diversity of views on the mesorah and thus a diversity of people who can transmit it?”
    Let me attempt to answer your queries in this manner:
    1) Who else speakes for MO or represents their “view of the Mesorah? Determination of the Mesorah is not exactly a democratic process determined from the bottom up.

    2) I think that when one is speaking with the views of the Mesorah as enunciated by RYBS, the RY have a far greater perspective than the persons on the list supporting the SOP.

  87. Ruvie wrote :

    “steve = i do. its one thing to criticize the mo world in general. its another to point to a particular group of rabbis. on a personal note i have to talk to ral personally – on more than one ocassion – on some of the haskafa issues of the day – especially wtg – he does not share the same views of the reits five. but then again he says i do not have this issue in alon shvut so i have no intention in dealing with issues in the states (but he did say its a public policy issue and thought all the technical halachic could be resolved). he does not share the same haskafa on woman learning as well differs on the rabbah issue (for not permitting it – no yyy for him).”

    Your presentation of RAL here reminds me of R Chaim Ozer’s response to those who asked him why RSRH acted without consulting the Lithuanian Torah world about TIDE, etc. RAL may not share RHS’s rationale on Ms. Hurwitz, but the bottom line is RAL and RHS are both opposed to women’s ordination. On many issues re Mesorah, RAL is far closer to RHS than you would think.

  88. Oh, Lordy. Here we go.

    “Major cities such as St. Louis, Baltimore, and Washington, DC eliminated their dual school systems shortly after the Brown decision despite no federal action.”

    Notice something those cities have in common? Something in common with, say, Topeka, where Brown was brought? I’ll give you a hint: Why could Confederate flags have anywhere from eleven (ultimately) to fifteen stars?

    “Eisenhower sent federal troops to Little Rock without waiting for Congressional action.”

    Yes. And they realized they couldn’t send troops to every city in the South.

    “State courts in Virginia were forcing integration in 1959.”

    State courts. Interesting.

    “Neither the 1957 Civil Rights Act nor the 1960 Civil Rights Act had anything to do with education. It was judicial, not legislative, action that ended the dual school systems. And I strongly suspect they would remain to this day had it not been for that judicial activism.”

    I wasn’t talking about either of those. Or the 1964 Act, for that matter. I was talking about Nixon threatening to cut off school funding (which only existed from Johnson’s time anyway- government giveth, etc., and quickly). A clever move, and the states buckled.

    Like it or not, there’s not a single resemblance between the situation of blacks in the 1950’s and that of your precious homosexuals (the wealthiest minority in the United States, by the way), and it’s an insult to say otherwise.

  89. >my opinion is that american mo needs to look to israel for their future hashkafa

    And make the same mistake as American Chareidim?

    No thanks. There’s Torah in Bavel too.

  90. >Do you think the majority of Catholic priests have hirhurei aveirah on a regular basis? Do you think the pope does? Do you think they’re living tragic lives?

    1. Maybe.
    2. Of course some people aren’t very sexual. A life of celibacy is wonderful for them. For most other people, who do like to hug and kiss people (and have kids), it’s not ideal.

    I don’t know statistics, but I have a hunch that many if not most successfully celibate priests and nuns just are not that sexual. It’s easy to fill a small void with other things than to fill a large void. Certainly there is little reason to assume that most people with homosexual inclinations are of sufficiently tepid sexuality (and lack of desire to be a parent) that they can live a life of celibacy – even avoiding hirhurim, of all things.

  91. mdj – steve – i did not personally speak to him on this issue(but in the past on other ones) but spoke to 2 talmidim that had seperate conversations with ral before and after the rca convention. he is concerned about an open split in the mo world that this issue could cause and for the sake of unity and tradition its best to “stay the course”. he doesn’t believe serarah is an issue but this is not the time nor place to push this forward. he was not happy to be brought into this matter (why do they have to bother me in israel for an american issue?). he certainly believes that there is no yahareg v’al yavor issue as r’ schachter states. he is in full support of women learning everything (see migdal oz as the girls yeshiva of gush)(as he said to me once that a goy who converts is suppose to be taught everything including kadshim and our daughters not as good as a goy?) and women involved in communal affairs (hardly the same for r’shachter).
    remember ral is a very conservative person in general yet he allows/encourages his talmidim to think for themselves and be open minded in engaging with the modern world. there are issues he has no interest in or wants to talk about – e.g. modern biblical scholarship.

  92. gil – fyi – a couple times to today i tried to post and lost the post due to a power surge on your website.
    probably means i have too much time and nothing better to do.

  93. steve – i guess the ral share the same views on secular education(value of), women’s torah education, woman in communal affairs, killing prime ministers (ral really love those comments – that led him to be escorted to the airplane by yu lawyers on the fear of him being arrested in israel), i am sure there are more but in general i guess they have the same haskafa ( except r’shachter is not mordern orthodox).

  94. Ruvie-you misconstrued my comments, which were limited to considerations of Mesorah and the transmission of TSBP, as opposed to RAL and RHS’s differences on the issues that you mentioned.

  95. Ruvie-it is amazing that many condemn RHS for comments that he never said about the assassination of PM Rabin ZL and which the JW withdrew in an editor’s note or his assessment of PM Olmert, who was probably the most incompetent and corrupt PM to occupy the office. As far as secular education, see RAL’s own words on whether secular education is necessary. On women’s education, RHS and RAL disagree, but on women in communal affairs., it is merely a question of rationale,not the final word that differentiate the POVs of RHS and RAL.

  96. FWIW, one can find comments in Chazal, Rishonim and Acharonim on a wide variety of halachic and hashkafic issues that by comparison render RHS’s comments absolutely mild by comparison. Since when is the Gadlus of any Tana, Amora, Rishon or Acharon evaluated as to his PCness as opposed to his utter fearlessness in searching for and declaring what he thinks is Toras Emes?

  97. Ruvie wrote in part:
    “ral is a very conservative person in general yet he allows/encourages his talmidim to think for themselves and be open minded in engaging with the modern world. there are issues he has no interest in or wants to talk about – e.g. modern biblical scholarship”

    Is it true that Gush encourages its talmidim to attend YU, rather than the Ivies? I think that if you read RAL’s Sichos you will see that RAL is not as positive on engagement with the modern world if it is not accompanied by a committment to Torah study and observance.

  98. I also sense that RAL understands that the secular world of the 21st Century should not be confused with that of the mid 20th Century.

  99. Steve,
    the answer to your question about who these people consult is that many of them live in Israel, they look much more to the Rashei Yeshiva and Ramim in Gush and other hesder yeshivot than they do to the YU Rashie Yeshiva.
    As forthose left in the States, for strictly halachic questions they probably turn to people like RHS and RMW, for hashkafic issues, I think they look to Israel. The fact of the matter is, that the cream of ideologically and halachicly committed Modern Orthodox has largely made Aliya. Its a real problem.

  100. Is the author of this post serious? R’ Gil, I am appalled that you published this kind of nonsense here. Not every post, even if it agrees with your conclusions, is worthy of attention.

    When I read the “statement of principles”, none of the inferences or extrapolations here even remotely occurred to me, nor did I see it as a politically charged piece that anyone rational would have reason to disagree with. The notion that the author and/or signatories are attempting to legitimize homosexuality or homosexual marriage, or otherwise alter halakha, is absurd, and the creative interpretations proffered in this post, such as the suggestion that kevod habriyot has some hidden meaning shared with the conservative movement, is just shy of ridiculous.

    I object to the assumption that the people who signed the statement of principles harbor a hidden political, social or halakhic agenda. To me, it is just the embodiment of the self-evident notion that a violator of one area of halakha should not be excluded from Jewish life as a whole, and that the children of homosexuals should not be excluded from Jewish synagogues and yeshivot.

    We shouldn’t be oblivious to the reality of homophobia and we should do our best to keep homosexual Jews involved in Jewish community and halakhic life rather than ostracizing them, especially if they are struggling to remain fully committed to halakhic observance despite the special challenges that they face.

    Of course, we must insist on the absolute and uncompromising dictates of halakha, and this will never change. I am not sure why so many critics have suggested that those who supported the statement of principles feel otherwise.

  101. Moshe Shoshan-thanks for your well considered point, which I understand as being limited to Gush talmidim and former talmidim. I suspect that talmidim of other hesder yeshivos do not consider the RY and Ramim of Gush their address for issues in Psak. I seem to recall that RAL considered RSZA his Posek on halachic issues and that many RZ did so as well.

    I think that while many “ideologically and halachically committed MO” , have made aliyah, which I consider a vague term, which can range from Gush talmidim to many of RHS’s talmidim who learned in other yeshivos besides Gush and YU, have also made aliyah as well, many can be found in MO communities as well such as Teaneck and the more MO elements of the Five Towns and other communities who, for a variety of reasons, some better than others, are not making aliyah in the foreseeable future.

  102. Moshe-Just curious-you seem to be the only person who is associated in any way with Gush who signed the SOP, other than R Helfgott? Am I mistaken in stating that I don’t see the names of any of the Gush RY or Ramim who I recognize from the Virtual Beit Medrash on the list of signatories.

  103. I see at least 35 – 40 gush alumni on the list- many leading congregational rabbis and mechanchim- in America and in Israel.
    (Personally, however, I didn’t sign it).

  104. steve -with regards to rhs and prime ministers i am referring to the incident that when on youtube and went virally around the world – and the fact he had to be escorted out of the country (by yu leawyers or on their insistance). not to rabin.
    i agree with moshe that many of the potential leaders in the rabbinate in the us of ex gushies have made
    aliyah – see r’ ari berman as an example. yu unfortunatly does not produce thinkers and leaders in my opinion (there are exceptions). i have sat on committees to interview assistant rabbis for 15 years. interviewing assistant rabbis for a tri-state area shul – not impress with what yu produces – also their placement office was the height of incompetency.

  105. After rereading the statement and reading all the names on the statement-I believe there are some names listed who are clearly mainstream Orthodox. Of course, the usual cast of publicity hounds are listed also.
    The statement al regel achat appears to be innocous-however a legitimate question can be raised what is gained by the statement-of course at least as strong a question can be asked what is gained by attacking the statement.

  106. “see r’ ari berman as an example. yu unfortunatly does not produce thinkers and leaders in my opinion ”

    Note R Berman succeeded in having the JC mechitzah raised-his predecessors -the last 2 of whom are living-either couldn’t succeed in getting the schul to do that or were not interested in raising the mechitzah.

  107. It is interesting that both in the MO world and the Chareidi world it is assumed that Roshei Yeshivah, rather than community rabbis, who should lead in matters of public policy. This was not the case 100 years ago, and it was largely not the case in my youth. Neither R. Yosef Eliahu Henkin nor Rav Moshe Feinstein(yes, I know about MTJ but R Moshe was a shut rav in Europe and a posek far more than a RY) were primarily Roshei Yeshiva. Neither were the Lubavicher Rebbe, Rav Yoelish, who were the leading Chassidsche Rebbeim of the time Roshei Yeshivah. The Rav was both (although my perspective as a Bostonian may differ from that of his YU talmidim.) Nor were the leading Rabbis of Israel primarily Roshei Yeshivah–Rav Herzog and Rav Nissim had led communities, as had Rav Kook and Rav Uziel before them. Nor were Rav Goren and Rav Yosef after them Roshei Yeshivah.

    Go back further, and the difference is more pronounced. Think of the leading posekim of the 150 or so years before the Holocaus–Rac Chaim Ozer, The Aruch Hashulchan, R. Yitchack Elchonon, R. Akiva Eiger, the Chasam Sofer and the Nodah b’Yehuda were all community rabbis as were the leading Chassidische. So were RZ. Shimshon Refael Hirsch and the Wurzberger Rov. The Chofetz Chaim was somewhat of an exception, and the Netziv a major exception, but they were exceptions. Not to say that there weren’t great roshei yeshivah at the time–think of all the gedolim in Telz and Slobodka, but the leading role in p’sak and public policy was played by the community rabbonim.

    It has changed for many reasons including more wide spread yeshivah study, and the fact that the community rabbi is now the rabbi of a shul rather than a city or province, and more under the control of the lay board than was formerly the case. And the shift feeds on itself as the most learned rabbis gravitate toward the yeshivah rather than communal posts.

    One serious problem that stems from this is that the RY, now as then, tend to have less contact with the bulk of the people any policy effects; they are thus setting policy with a less thorough grasp of the situation on the street, i.e. the metziut about which they are paskening, than did the giants of the past.

  108. Ruvie and Gush alum-I await clarification re Gush RY and Ramim who signed the SOP.

    Ruvie-I think that it is as important that YU produce alumni who are Shomrei Torah UMitzvos and that RIETs produces Talmidei Chachamim, whether in the Klei Kodesh or elsewhere, as opposed to “thinkers and leaders.”

    Gush alum-please ID who on the list of signatories is a Gush alum who is a leading congregational rabbi and mchanech in the US.

  109. MOSHE SHOSHAN:

    “The fact of the matter is, that the cream of ideologically and halachicly committed Modern Orthodox has largely made Aliya.”

    do you really think this is true? (and in your response please choose your words carefully so no one accuses you of being נוגע בדבר 🙂 )

  110. Congratulations to Rabbi Gold and Rabbi Student for having the courage to take on this misguided declaration. As we have seen lately, Avi Weiss, and those who sympathize with his Post-Orthodox viewpoint have been attempting to represent their views as being not only a legitimate Torah approach, but the proper Torah approach. This is reflected on their calling their un-sourced editorial a “Statement of principles”.

    This trend to portray a politically correct western agenda as Torah must be resisted. Our goal as Torah Jews must always be to purge ourselves of foreign influences as best we can in the environment we live. If the Rav were alive today the same people attacking Rabbi Gold would probably also attack the Rav as “corrupted by Charedi influences”.

  111. or were not interested in raising the mechitzah.
    ==============================================
    or were interested in raising the mechitzah but had other higher priorities in raising their community’s avoda hashem.
    KT

  112. ==============================================
    “or were interested in raising the mechitzah but had other higher priorities in raising their community’s avoda hashem.
    KT”

    Name the higher priorities that would account for time spent in close to four decades of Rabbinic leadership. At least according to the Rav a proper mechitzah was a primary object of a Rabbis efforts. If one wishes to say that neither was a follower of the Rav it would be easy to explain-but for other purposes both in different ways have maintained that they were followers of the Rav and in fact have tried at times to shape the legacy of the Rav.

  113. “misguided declaration. As we have seen lately, Avi Weiss, and those who sympathize with his Post-Orthodox viewpoint ”

    It may or may not be misguided but the signers include many who are clearly NOT from RAW’s camp.

    “If the Rav were alive today the same people attacking Rabbi Gold would probably also attack the Rav as “corrupted by Charedi influences”

    No-sadly it was the Rav who was attacked by Chareidi groups in his lifetime and even after death-see eg the notorious JO “obituary” of the Rav a month or so after his ptirah.

  114. “It has changed for many reasons including more wide spread yeshivah study,”

    In chareidi world it changed because RAK as a RY won a power struggle for leadership in the 40s for RY against community Rabbonim-see R Rakeffets biography of R E Silver for a discussion of the machlokes between Rabbi Kotler and Rabbis Silver and Kamenetzky in the late 40s about this issue

    “and the fact that the community rabbi is now the rabbi of a shul rather than a city or province,”
    there is no such thing as a Community Rav-probably the Teitz’s in Elizabeth were the last real ones. Even Boston -the Rav was the head of a number of schuls and spoke to them all a couple of Shabbosim a year-BUT he certainly was not the head of the Bostoner-eg Horowitz community, the Lubavitch community etc.

    “and more under the control of the lay board than was formerly the case.”
    I see no evidence of that-there maybe Rabbis who love the very high salaries that many get and thus feel more beholden to a board. But if so, that is a fault of the individual Rabbi.
    Rabbis always could their positions see eg R Chaim Volozhin.

  115. ” At least according to the Rav a proper mechitzah was a primary object of a Rabbis efforts.”

    What source do you base this one?

  116. Note that R. Berman had far more leverage than his predecessors with regard to the JC Mechitza. He never applied for the job of rabbi of the JC, he was offered the job while he was assistant rabbi there and had to convinced to take it. He was in a position to set his terms.

    Also, I know for a fact that RJJ Schacter consulted with the Rav about the JC mechitza before taking the job and acted based on what the Rav told him.

  117. >It is interesting that both in the MO world and the Chareidi world it is assumed that Roshei Yeshivah, rather than community rabbis, who should lead in matters of public policy.

    I think it’s really the assumption that the greatest talmide chachomim, regardless of additional knowledge and experience, should lead in public policy.

    This raises several questions, such as why is this correct? but even more importantly, how do we know that roshei yeshiva are the greater talmide chachomim? Does this reflect the metzius or is it just an assumption, and if its an assumption, why?

  118. Binyomin Eckstein

    It used to be that the Choshuve shtellers were the large communities, and those communities took pride in their Rov being the one to whom Shaalos from all over the province/country/Europe/the Jewish world were sent.

    In the MO world the Choshuve shtellers are the large shuls, who take pride in their Rav being the best speaker/pastor. Basic scholarship is important, but the quality thereof is a tertiary consideration at best.

    The place where one’s ability as a Halachist counts today is as a Rosh Yeshiva.

  119. a right winger – “Our goal as Torah Jews must always be to purge ourselves of foreign influences as best we can in the environment we live.”

    are you advocating reintroducing – slavery, governing via monarchy (democracy must be eliminated as a foreign idea), concubines, polygamy, malkot(self flagellation) erev shabbat ( good for the religious s&m folks), wives and daughters not allowed to inherit, equal rights to non-jews (israel), woman not testifying on a rape or abuse husband, children not allowing to testify against a pedophile, capital punishment for mechalel shabbat assuming there is a senhedrein, equal pay, equal rights and protection. i am sure i missed many others.

    please educate me of getting rid of foreign influences…also should i burn my rambam (sufuism/aristotle) or the rav’s work(kant, hermann cohen, heideigger)?
    can we not learn ethics and morality from others?

  120. The place where one’s ability as a Halachist counts today is as a Rosh Yeshiva.

    In the RW yeshiva world, very few Roshe Yeshiva that I know of actually are “Halachists”. Most are much more comfortable in the public policy arena than they are paskening shailos. As an example, the list of current members of the Moetzes of Agudath Israel of America (as listed here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moetzes_Gedolei_HaTorah#In_the_United_States )include to my knowledge two, or perhaps, three members who pasken halachic shailos outside of their yeshivos. (The exceptions being RDF and RSK – a series of pamphlets of his pesokim on the yomim tovim are now available.)

  121. Binyomin Eckstein

    One’s ability as a Halachist is not determined by how much one paskens, but in his ability in Asukei Shmatsa Aliba D’hilchasa. Rav Shach didn’t actively pasken Shaalos either, but had he devoted his energies to psak, he would have been one of the Gedolei Horaah.

  122. >The place where one’s ability as a Halachist counts today is as a Rosh Yeshiva.

    Talmudist, not halachist. Rav Aharon Schechter is a well known posek? Which shu”t did Rav Shmuel Kamenetzky write? Rabbi Belsky is a rosh yeshiva? Can you even name the best regarded poskim in Lakewood?

    While it’s true that poskim today are associated with the yeshiva more than the shul, they’re not necessarily more often roshei yeshiva. For that, you need to say a good shiur, no halacha lemaaseh necessary (or desired).

  123. “” At least according to the Rav a proper mechitzah was a primary object of a Rabbis efforts.””

    Do you question the word primay? Would the word important be a proper substitution.

    “What source do you base this one?”

    I think it is evident from public sources that the Rav considered a mechitzah an important issue. I remember a conversation with the Rav where it was clear that he expected Rabbis to have as a goal to raise a mechitzah to proper height. The time horizon would be a tactical one of the local Rav-obviously a couple of decades is more than enough time.

  124. “Note that R. Berman had far more leverage than his predecessors with regard to the JC Mechitza.”

    That he had more leverage than RJJS is not surprising-R Berman was liked by the JC as an assistant Rabbi.

    “He never applied for the job of rabbi of the JC, he was offered the job while he was assistant rabbi there”

    Of course he didn’t apply-no Rabbi could apply for a job where he was known by working there before the opening. Of course, Rabbi Berman was very popular and respected at the JC.

    “and had to convinced to take it. He was in a position to set his terms.”

    “Also, I know for a fact that RJJ Schacter consulted with the Rav about the JC mechitza before taking the job and acted based on what the Rav told him.”

    I have no reason to doubt that info-but did the Rav know the exact dimensions of the mechitzah especially in the back? The Rav gave advice based on what he knew or was told. I have no idea what the Rav told RJJS or was told while givng his advice. I am only relating my knowledge which is far from unique about the importance the Rav felt in having proper mechitzot.

  125. “It is interesting that both in the MO world and the Chareidi world it is assumed that Roshei Yeshivah, rather than community rabbis, who should lead in matters of public policy.”

    On world wide halachik issues I probably in general agree. But in non halachik matters a RY has no more expertise than ploni almoni down the street.

  126. I would like to offer a distinction between Israel and the US that may explain why it is appparent that has been missed in this discussion, and why some have advocated that we should be looking to Israel for guidance on this and other issues, a stance that I have some reservations about .

    Europe, for better or worse, is far more wide open and cosmopolitan culturally sophisticated and sexually open in many ways than the US, which outside of the East and West Coast, is still quite a culturally conservative country. What we would think is hard core rated X media in the US routinely appears on European and Israeli media. In Europe, even associating AIDS with indiscriminate sexual behavior, especially in the gay world, is viewed as homophobia. One cannot deny that Israeli secular culture is deeply influenced by its European counterpart and that attitudes, etc seep into the RZ and MO worlds.

    I would add that as a corollary that we need to teach our Chasanim and Kallos that Halacha in the realm of sexuality within marriage neither is hedonistic nor puritantical in addition to teaching the mechanics of Hilcos Nidah.

  127. On world wide halachik issues I probably in general agree. But in non halachik matters a RY has no more expertise than ploni almoni down the street.
    ===============================================
    There’s such a thing as a non-halachik matter (surely you jest:-))
    KT+

  128. I have no idea what Steve Brizel’s last point about Europe’s more liberal bent has to do with anything concerning Gush being looked to for guidance in America.

    I will though agree that the US rabbinate is a different creature then the Israeli one and it is important that its independence be retained. What I think is an shame is that the left of Modern Orthodoxy is now under increased attack to be driven out of Orthodoxy. This is not only RAW and YCT, which was created in part because of how RAW was treated at YU, but liberal rabbis who are not associated with YCT. Unfortunately though the creation of YCT means many liberal persons who might formally have been on the LW of REITS will not go there so we can presume YU rabbeim will move even further to the right overall and represent the MO community overall less. That is a shame.

    This has a real impact. There are smaller Orthodox communities today that are choosing to go to Gush or Chhabad or YCT for rabbeim becase YU is not offering rabbis that meet their hashkafa. Meanwhile the NCYI tends to recommend rabbinical candidates more to the right then YU. Obviously, YU is still well represented out there but they are not the central body they were.

  129. My point is simple-RZ and MO are far more influenced in Israel by the evolution and development of secular culture or what Senator Moynihan called defining deviance down than their American counterparts.

  130. “Obviously, YU is still well represented out there but they are not the central body they were.”

    They have lost their position decades ago-look at the percentage of new members of the RCA from non YU smicha-now and compare that to 30,40,50,60 years ago

    “RZ and MO are far more influenced in Israel by the evolution and development of secular culture or what Senator Moynihan called defining deviance down than their American counterparts.”

    Al regel achat I’m not sure if I agree with Steve-its an empirical question needing a study by sociologists.

  131. Steve Brizel

    “My point is simple-RZ and MO are far more influenced in Israel by the evolution and development of secular culture or what Senator Moynihan called defining deviance down than their American counterparts.”

    In other words, they’re more comfortable in the lechatchilaness of Modern Orthodoxy, and knowing that marrying goyim is not around every corner they aren’t afraid of their shadow. It’s probably easier to be that comfortable when you’re only a stone’s throw from the utter moral and religious bankruptcy of Chareidism. In America it’s almost possible to believe that black hats provide a reach nichoach to Hashem. Baruch Hashem American Chareidim don’t throw bleach (unless they’re in Israel).

  132. Steve Brizel

    “My point is simple-RZ and MO are far more influenced in Israel by the evolution and development of secular culture or what Senator Moynihan called defining deviance down than their American counterparts.”

    In other words, they’re more comfortable in the lechatchilaness of Modern Orthodoxy, and knowing that marrying goyim is not around every corner they aren’t afraid of their shadow. It’s probably easier to be that comfortable when you’re only a stone’s throw from the utter moral and religious bankruptcy of Chareidism. In Israel it’s almost possible to believe that black hats provide a reach nichoach to Hashem. Baruch Hashem American Chareidim don’t throw bleach (unless they’re in Israel).

  133. >secular culture or what Senator Moynihan called defining deviance [sic] down

    Moynihan did not equate secular culture with defining deviancy down. You think he didn’t like secular culture? He didn’t enjoy secular movies, music, books and friends, to whit, secular culture?

    His phrase – essay – was about crime.

  134. mycroft – i brought up r’ ari berman as example of a gush alumni that didn’t stay in the rabbinate. i have been to the jc on occasion over the last 30 years. i must see the mechitzah looks the same 2 weeks ago as it did 30 years ago. buy hey i am getting older and now need glasses.

    so i called a former officer/trustee during the berman era (also on the search committee)… there has been no change in the mechitzah and he never had a problem with it – or never said anything to the officers and trustees. but are you also saying that the mechitzah was not kosher during the lamm era too- a leader in the mo world that would tolerate a mecitzah that the rav would say is no good ?

    the back row in the mens is still right next to the women – close to the same height.

  135. mycroft -“Note R Berman succeeded in having the JC mechitzah raised-his predecessors -the last 2 of whom are living-either couldn’t succeed in getting the schul to do that or were not interested in raising the mechitzah.”

    is today apri 1? have you ever been to the jc before? see note above.

  136. Mycroft: if you say you had a private conversation w/ the Rav about the importance of a proper height mechitzah in a rabbi’s role then I take your word for it. But I find your saying it is “evident” unhelpful, to say the least, or, to state it a bit less politely, it’s an admission that there is no source other than your private conversation.

    And I’m surprised about your statement that the JC’s mechitzah has changed. I haven’t been there for a while, but I’ve never heard any mention of that and having many friends and relatives on the WS, some of whom daven there, I would have thought someone would have mentioned something to me. Are you sure about that?

  137. “have you ever been to the jc before?”

    Many times-in fact for a few years my wife and I were members of the JC. We lived in the UWS for years-in the beginning we belonged to the JC-we gradually switched to OZ-before the RAS era while Rabbi Marmorstein was still the Rabbi at OZ. There were many fine people at the JC-unfortunately due to the nature of things more and more of those fine people are in the olam haemet-but just far higher percentage of those of our type were at OZ. Of course, a big selling point of OZ was frankly the membership dues were a fraction of the JCs. That might have encouraged a higher percentage of those of us from rent stabilized non dorrman buildings to go to OZ. It was the time period before the new buildings on Columbus Ave-when there were many community gardens occupying what today would be prime space.

    “saying that the mechitzah was not kosher ”

    I am merely stating that the mechitzah in those days was not of a height that the Rav would have approved for a new structure. Remember the Rav wrote about the absolute requirement not to daven in mixed pews-davening in separate pews but non proper mechitzah was still tfillah bzibbur but with a pgam.

    “the back row in the mens is still right next to the women – close to the same height.”

    If my recollection is correct the biggest problem was not in absolute back rows where the heights were close-standing up-but roughly 1/4 from the back where sitting down in the mens and womens section a man and a women would have been able to kiss each other. My understanding was that the mechitzah changed and it would have only had to have been a couple of rows when Rabbi Berman became the Rabbi-but I was not there at the time. Are there still rows where a man and women sitting down could kiss each other between the sections?

  138. “but are you also saying that the mechitzah was not kosher during the lamm era too- a leader in the mo world that would tolerate a mecitzah that the rav would say is no good ?”

    I am not paskening-but it is at least an open question to what extent RNL accepted the Ravs belief in the importance of a mechitzah-see eg “After all, the real identifying mark of Orthodoxy is not ‘glatt kosher’ and not the mechitzah…”

    from near the bottom of page 8
    of
    http://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:CprxVZF-6gMJ:brussels.mc.yu.edu/gsdl/collect/lammserm/index/assoc/HASH5fe1.dir/doc.pdf+rabbi+norman+lamm+and+mechitzah&hl=en&gl=us&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESgy_Kn11NMTyE3iuLDQJXdic5mQE3pAD6lKxCGmc4vMP0YE6GTX9xIekpn1RbHvPLNgA7K_BoSJxzSlZ6HRt6cBnGHO4f-f6Yt0gkUsv3gEKAxxBleOwmkkazngoSnNXQUOy4QP&sig=AHIEtbSvKOjqu6eFBHu8j_7VSVutqY03hg

  139. It might be easier to read Rabbi lamms sermon

    at

    http://brussels.mc.yu.edu/gsdl/collect/lammserm/index/assoc/HASH5fe1.dir/doc.pdf

    same page 8-but pdf easier than document. Whole sermon very important message

    also note page 2 near top where Rabbi Lamm refers to a synagogue built with money improperly acquired is a sacrilege.

  140. mycroft – yes they still can kiss each other or more likely talk to each other. nothing ever was changed – although there were plans to rip out some rows in the back of the women’s section to make way for a second elevator in the recent renovations but $1mm was too much for the jc.
    rabbi berman dod make it conditional on taking the job that he would not institute a women’s tefillah group on shabbat while the regular davening was going on.

  141. mycroft – oz membership is still much lower than jc’s. but if i remember correctly before ras arrival oz was empty on a shabbat – each man had a pew during the era you attended and jc was the more active shul with membership and attendance.

  142. “second elevator in the recent renovations but $1mm was too much for the jc.”

    BTW It was my impression that a much greater percentage of people used the elevator on Shabbos in the JC than in KJ for example.

    The JCs relatively recent history is interesting–I heard RJJS speak about some old history in the Reconstructionist synagogue on 86th St.

  143. I have often thought of and wondered why certain Rabbis get attacked for certain behavior and others don’t for essentially the same behavior. Does anyone doubt that if RAW or R Rackman for example had been Rabbis for 20 years in schuls that had places where men and women could kiss each other sitting in schul that they would not have been attacked.
    I find it tough to understand the recent outcry against RAW for letting a women lead Kabbalat Shabbot but apparently according to the HIR website for over 2 decades women have been reading the Torah once a month at a special service at HIR.

    http://www.hir.org/women.html

    similarly objections to Conservative movements changes with women leaders but comparatively little on permitting driving on Shabbos.

    In lay circles one can see where a schul can be accepted as part of a mainstream Orthodox movement for decades with clearly men/women issues. The movement cracks down just after the big macher family who contributes to international Jewish events quits that schul for other reasons.

    One can see time after time inconsistency the action is not what counts it is who is tolerating the action that counts.

  144. “but if i remember correctly before ras arrival oz was empty on a shabbat – each man had a pew during the era you attended and jc was the more active shul with membership and attendance”

    I essentially agree-there is some exaggeration in your statement but essentially correct.
    The JC was far from crowded on Shabbos-just don’t sit in some persons seat who was there since 1920.
    Similarities in the situations were there too-it is no exaggeration to say that the Boards of both schuls were essentially equally happy with their situation during the time period.

  145. “I find it tough to understand the recent outcry against RAW for letting a women lead Kabbalat Shabbot but apparently according to the HIR website for over 2 decades women have been reading the Torah once a month at a special service at HIR.”

    If you read the link you posted, mycroft, you’ll note that it describes a WTG, which is pretty tame for LWMO. I can’t imagine that RAW would have suffered an outcry for permitting a women-only Kabbalat Shabbat service, but that is, of course, not what he did.

  146. spoke to someone involved in the statement of principles – it seems that there are rabbis at reits/yu as well in israel that agree with the statement but for various reasons did not want to sign – other more important issues on their agenda and this would get in the way, do not want to be tainted with , or internal perceived pressure in their jobs(security) or the potential grief entailed.

    what does it say in the mo world that people are afraid to voice their opinions publicly in a statement? – i would call it the talibanizm – haredeism? -of modern orthodoxy.

  147. “I find it tough to understand the recent outcry against RAW for letting a women lead Kabbalat Shabbot but apparently according to the HIR website for over 2 decades women have been reading the Torah once a month at a special service at HIR.”

    If you read the link you posted, mycroft, you’ll note that it describes a WTG, which is pretty tame for LWMO. I can’t imagine that RAW would have suffered an outcry for permitting a women-only Kabbalat Shabbat service, but that is, of course, not what he did.”

    I don’t know where we disagree on this point -I knew nothing about the WTG which according to the link invites men in for the bas mitzvah portion. A women reading the Torah with “aliyot” etc is much more provcative than a WTG with men observing on the other side of the mechitzah-when there is no Tfillah.
    I suspect the issue might be institutional-in 1979 RAW was still part of the YU family-he had not gone into an attempted institutional rivalry.

  148. “what does it say in the mo world that people are afraid to voice their opinions publicly in a statement? – i would call it the talibanizm – haredeism? -of modern orthodoxy.”

    You know, when they start chopping off noses, then- and only then- can you start using the word “Taliban.” Fair?

    What does it say? Very simple. That they’re people like me, who agree with most of what is written there, but who feel that the very act of issuing the statement is a concession that the whole issue of homosexuality is as big a deal that the secular left is making it out to be when, in fact, it isn’t. Nothing too insidious. When they issue 364 statements for the other lo ta’ases, we can talk.

  149. “What does it say? Very simple. That they’re people like me, who agree with most of what is written there, but who feel that the very act of issuing the statement is a concession that the whole issue of homosexuality is as big a deal that the secular left is making it out to be when, in fact, it isn’t. Nothing too insidious. When they issue 364 statements for the other lo ta’ases, we can talk.”

    Nachum, to be fair, you’re not actually responding to ruvie’s main critique, which is a worry over being “tainted” and therefore not being able to push other issues and/or being worried about job security. If a person signed this document, will it hurt their ability to take a more liberal stand on, say, the conversion issue/rotem bill? Will it make it more difficult to stay on staff at their yeshiva? If the document is acceptable but you have personal qualms, that means you’re agreeing to disagree. You’re not the person ruvie is discussing here.

  150. the reason for the statement of principles, i believe, is that there a core group of mo rabbis who want it known that r’ twersky,r’ shachter do not represent all of the mo rabbis. that there is different view out there that is more tolerant and understanding. the question is – is this a isolated event or will there be more statements in the future on different issues? the schism begins.
    its not a respectful disagreement. one side is filled with demonization and disrespecting(or at least over dramatizing the reality) the other side of the argument. please notice the way r’ gold here and r’ pruzansky addresses their opponents.

    nachum – no problem with not agreeing or not comfortable – i care about the tone and what people imply about who do sign. its the escalaltion of the debate to a level that’s bothersome. finally, other people re taking a stand that is different from yu/reits(even richard joel(not r’ rosenswig which i erred before on – was forced (coerced)into signing the reits/yu statement post gay panel.

  151. Wait are you saying that there are politics in a yeshiva just like every other organization and that elders are expected to be respected and deferred to on issues of major policy? I personally am shocked at this radically new development.

  152. That’s right, Ruvie. One side has all the good will and honesty; the other side has all the invective and coercion. Nice.

  153. Gil,

    If you are going to have “guest posts” about controversial issue, I think it would be better to have only invte guests who, like R. Leibowitz, are willing to enter into a discussion of their posts with the group, rather than voicing an opinion and then disappearing into the ether,

  154. I agree. This was more an issue of poor timing in terms of when it went up, because he’s been away for a long weekend and unable to access the comments.

  155. “believe, is that there a core group of mo rabbis who want it known that r’ twersky,r’ shachter do not represent all of the mo rabbis. that there is different view out there that is more tolerant and understanding. ”

    Note both were exposed to parents who valued scholarship as children. Both of these RY had parents who received Phds in Jewish studies-R Twersky’s father at Harvard and R Schachter’s father at Dropsie.

  156. Rav Schachter’s father A”H was a real gaon. I learned Even HaEzer from him. I have his sefer that he published for his PHD – he had given it to my father.

  157. Personally, I enjoy the legal expertise of Joseph Kaplan.

  158. Is anyone else besides me disturbed that Mycroft is questioning the halachic legitimacy of the decisions made by R’ JJ Schachter or R’ Norman Lamm during their tenure as Morah D’atra of the Jewish Center? Since when is this a legitimate form of argument about a point not germaine to the discharge of their responsibility in that job? Both are scholars and Talmidei Chachamim (and gentlemen) of the highest order, and do not deserve the criticism being leveled at them just so a commenter on a blog can score points!

  159. Jordan Hirsch:

    I think you misunderstand – I think he was pointing out differences in approach; I do not think he was pointing fingers.

  160. lawrence kaplan

    Rabbi Zvi: I’m with Jordan Hirsch on this one, though I would not express myself quite as strongly. (Of course, Hirsch’s praise of the legal expertise of my brother automatically means he has good judgment!) I think that on this issue Mycroft’s comments were poorly thought out and uncalled for, and, at the very least, came close to pointing fingers.

  161. lawrence kaplan:

    I’ll have to review them later on – I’ll defer to your judgment for the time being.

  162. The issue of accepting children of homosexual parents should be addressed separately. Just as educating Jewish children of mixed marriages in Day Schools has led to many of these children becoming Shomer Torah U’Mitzvos, so too, educating Jewish children of homosexual parents gives these children access to their rightful birthright and an opportunity to meet their obligations as Jews.

    By attaching acceptance of children to acceptance of the parents, the authors of the statement are imposing the burden of being “anchor babies” upon these children, when, in fact, acceptance of them into Torah Schools should be seen as an act of Pidyon Sh’vuyim.

    The children should not be punished for the sins of the parents.

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