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January 01, 2013

UPDATED: Leading Modern Orthodox Rabbi Says Gays No Worse Than Jews Who Don’t Keep Shabbos, Attacks Orthodox And Haredi Homophobia As Cruel

Rabbi Aharon LichtensteinRabbi Dr. Aharon Lichtenstein – the son-in-law of the late leader of Modern Orthodoxy Rabbi Joseph Ber Solevechik, who was the heir to leadership of the Brisker stream of of Orthodoxy, as well – has strongly ruled that homosexuals should not be condemned more than Sabbath desecrators or thieves.

Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein
Rabbi Dr. Aharon Lichtenstein

Leading Modern Orthodox Rabbi Says Gays No Worse Than Jews Who Don’t Keep Shabbos, Attacks Orthodox And Haredi Homophobia As Cruel
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com

Rabbi Dr. Aharon Lichtenstein – the son-in-law of the late leader of Modern Orthodoxy Rabbi Joseph Ber Solevechik, who was the heir to leadership of the Brisker stream of of Orthodoxy, as well – has strongly ruled that homosexuals should not be condemned any more than Sabbath desecrators or thieves, Ynet reports.

According to Lichtenstein, Orthodox Jews need to rise above their feelings of aversion and soften their "aggressive" attitude towards gays and lesbians.

Lichtenstein is the rosh yeshiva or dean of the Har Etzion Yeshiva, which is one of the most important Zionist Orthodox yeshivas in Israel. A moderate, Lichtenstein is considered to be one of the most senior leaders of Modern Orthodoxy worldwide.

Lichtenstein’s remarks on gays and lesbians were posted on the blog of a student of his, Dov Karoll, who heard Lichtenstein make them and who posted them with his permission.

On behalf of Lichtenstein Karoll wrote:

"In order to be more decent and sincere with ourselves and our community, we should understand that we can be shocked by homosexuality to the same extent that we are shocked by cheating.

"The strength of the shock and the moral power directed here – should also be directed there. That's not what is happening today."

Addressing the claim that sodomy is labeled by the Torah as a toeivah, abomination – which is a label not given to every sin, Lichtenstein noted that the term toeivah also applies to the failure to support the poor and to deception in trade.

"I don't support homosexuality, God forbid, but we must commit to a higher standard of communal integrity than what exists today,” Lichtenstein said.

Lichtenstein asked a rhetorical question: "Which is a greater sin – desecration of Shabbat or homosexuality? Is it appropriate and fair to say to our communities that we have no problem with all of the Jewish people's sins…but that there is only one scapegoat?"

Lichtenstein also argued that homosexuality is a personal prohibition in the Torah, but the failure to give tzedaka, charity, is labeled a public sin – making the religious society's strict treatment of homosexuals wrong.

But Lichtenstein also attacked the gay community for what he called overly aggressive behavior and has a low personal opinion of gays and lesbians.

"It created such a buzz because it's very aggressive, and the response was that some of the people on our side became aggressive too."
Nonetheless, he believes that "this fire burning in the hearts of many today and the fears, which go even beyond aversion, exceed what I see as appropriate,” Lichtenstein reportedly said.

"On the one hand, I have some criticism [of gays and lesbians] (aversion would be too strong of a word), but my criticism is curbed by compassion,” Lichtenstein said.

Homosexuals are “very miserable” people who don't live a normal life and don’t have biological children, and it is wrong to see them as fully responsible for their inclination, Lichtenstein insisted, adding that he had heard from many psychologists that their gay patients "would be very glad to recover from their situation."

The Kamocha Association of Gay Orthodox Jews responded to Lichtenstein's remarks halakhic remarks positively.

"We are pleased to hear that through the comparison to Shabbat desecrators, the rabbi placed a mirror in front of the public, demonstrating that many times the fear of homosexuality does not stem from halakhic considerations but from pure homophobia.

“Kamocha respects the rules and spirit of the halakha, does not march in parades and views the connection with the rabbinical world and religious public as extremely important. We are glad that a senior rabbinical personality like Rabbi Lichtenstein chooses to voice his opinion openly and without fear,” it said in a prepared statement.

However, Kamocha broke with Lichtenstein over his characterization of homosexuals as “very unfortunate,” and they issued a challenge to Lichtenstein.

“…[I]t’s time for the rabbinical world to take a further step – to the phase of answers and response. Rabbi Lichtenstein himself has raised the questions of a homosexual cantor, adoption of children, accepting the child into a yeshiva, etc, and it's time to deal with them.

"We invite the rabbi to one of Kamocha’s monthly meetings to discuss the issues and look into ways to advance them,” the statement reportedly said.

[Hat Tip: Maskil.]

Update 3:48 pm CST – Here are the complete remarks on this issue from Rabbi Lichtenstein as they were given in English, in context, from Karoll's post:

Question: There has some discussion recently concerning what our attitude as Orthodox Jews should be toward homosexuals in our community.  Some of the debate revolves around the meaning and significance of the Torah’s designation: to’eivah [abomination].  Could Rav Lichtenstein relate to these issues, addressing both the individual and communal levels?

This, as you know, is a hot issue, and one which has surfaced in our world as, simultaneously, it has surfaced within the general world.  There was a time when it was taken for granted that if you were homosexual you couldn’t be in the army, you couldn’t run a business, you obviously couldn’t set up a home, and you obviously couldn’t apply for getting whatever money is distributed by the government for a mate.  All of that was taken for granted.  In the background was a judgment, which is grounded in the Western adherence to Biblical tradition, that there’s something wrong with this morally and spiritually.  While the opinion divided between two poles [the Euthyphro argument] about whether things are good because the Ribbono shel Olam [God] wants them, or He wants them because they’re good, and that works the other way as well with regard to things that are not good.

Some people have said that homosexuality is something which is a distortion of nature, it’s not the way the Ribbono shel Olam built the world, it’s no good – and because it’s no good, there’s a pasuk [verse] in Acharei Mot which tells you to stay away from it.  Others say no, it’s a neutral phenomenon, but neutral things, once the Torah “deneutralizes” them, so to speak, and set it up as an issur [prohibition], even if it’s a chok [non-rational law] and not something beyond that – we have to subscribe to it if we are believing Jews, or, להבדיל, believing Christians.

There is some discussion in the time of rishonim, and later – about the whole world of arayot [sexual prohibitions] in general – is it a chok or a mishpat [rational law].  It’s an old question.  Aquinas deals with this issue in Summa Theologica, and, להבדיל, the Ramban deals with this issue: is it chok or is it mishpat.  That would probably make some difference in terms of how you relate to it.  If you relate to it as mishpat, it has a rational basis: somebody who engages in it, you are doubly severe in judging him – first of all, he’s doing something which is inherently wrong – and which, without the Torah – in the same manner as the gemara in Eiruvin says that if arayot were not written in the Torah, we would have learned tzeni’ut from the cat – we would have learned heterosexuality from the dog or the cat, or some other animal – one who engages in homosexuality is: 1) violating the natural order and 2) violating the parsha in Sefer Vayikra.  If you think it’s a chok – the first element falls out, but it’s [still] out of line, it’s part of the issur.

The question you raise is not just a question with regard to a particular ban, but the label of to’eivah, does that add a more serious dimension.  To make that judgment you need to do two related things: 1) check a computer or a concordance for wherever the word to’eivah appears – and see, to what does it apply.  So you discover that to’eivah,in the pasuk in Yechezkel, refers to people who don’t feed עניים [poor] properly (Ezekiel 16:48-50), or, you open up a chumash in Ki Tetzei – if you are dealing with weights and measures, and you cheat a little bit on the weights and the measures, that’s to’eivah also (Deuteronomy 25:13-16).  Having done that, find for me a community which responds and relates to homosexuality as if you are doing something terrible – just like it responds to those who are cheating a little bit on weights and measures.  But that’s not the case, and that is because of the revulsion which, apart from its being called to’eivah – the revulsion which is felt by the Western world toward homosexuality probably would have existed in large measure nonetheless.

If you ask me: should the term to’eivah be meaningful to us?  Of course it should.  We are מאמינים בני מאמינים [believers].  We think that if the Torah refers to something as to’eivah, the Ribbono shel Olam regards it as to’eivah.  But to be fairer and more honest with ourselves and with our communities, let us understand that if you deal only with the use of the term to’eivah, you can only push that particular envelope as far as you push the cheating on the weights and the measures – so all the revulsion, the moral energy, that you bring against that, you should bring against this, too.

That’s not what happens today.  I have an argument with some people about this.  Don’t get me wrong: I’m not in favor of homosexuality, חס ושלום. But we do need to agree to abide by a greater measure of honesty in dealing with that community than I think at present applies.  Let me give you one example.  Some years back – with regard to an annual event in NY – there is the Israel Day Parade – it’s a big event – they bring people from all over, all the high schools in the NY area, boys and girls, Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, secularists – they all come to the big parade.  It’s been, for many people, a very positive force, a binding force, bringing Jews together – for some it’s a bit divisive – but they always manage to get over their divisions and march together on a given Sunday during sefirah.

A few years back, as part of the ferment which you have within the Jewish community in general and the homosexual community in particular, the gays said they want to get in on the action too – so everyone else walks around with big signs: we are A, B, C, D of America – so we are the Jewish gays and lesbians of America.  The response was a threat – they didn’t use the word threat, they called it an advisement, or something to that effect – by the religious high schools – if the gays are going to be part of the parade, we’re out.  That was more than the Jewish community could swallow – an event which always served to bind, to unify, for it to be divisive – there was some give and take and some friends of mine were involved in this, I know this from the inside, and finally, they worked out an arrangement where the homosexuals did not march, the threat worked – no one could bear the thought that all the high schools were going to be out.

You ask yourself, wait a minute: we don’t like homosexuality, but we don’t like chillul Shabbat [Shabbat violation] either – all the mechallelei Shabbat [Shabbat violators] of America could have marched in that parade and no one would say boo, because we are very liberal Jews, and we like to not be judgmental, and be friendly to people to the right and the left of us.  So, mechallelei Shabbat – we wish they would be shomrei Shabbat [Shabbat observers], but if that’s what they are, that’s what they are,we accept them as they are and we don’t pass judgment.

If I open a gemara in Sanhedrin, or if I open a chumash, for that matter – leaving aside the term to’eivah – what is a more serious aveirah, chillul Shabbat [Shabbat violation] or homosexuality.  Or, for that matter, there are people who worship avodah zarah [idolatry] who march in the parade, too.  Is it proper, is it fair, and I say this without relenting in our position to homosexuality – to decide that all the sins which the whole entire Jewish community has – all of that we can swallow and march with them, with pride and with their flags and everything that they want, but this is the שעיר לעזאזל[scapegoat] – dispatched to ארץ גזירה, that’s what happens to the שעיר לעזאזל (Leviticus 16:22).  I discussed this point with people for whom I have the highest regard and I asked them this question.

I’m not so nimble-minded not to know the answer.  Much of the answer is: the mechallelei Shabbat of America don’t want to march in the parade under the banner of mechallelei Shabbat of America – they are going to march as the Kiwanis club or the Rotary club, the junior high school of Great Neck, or whatever you have, and that will pass muster – they will not flaunt.  The homosexual community today has created such a ferment because it is very aggressive.  The response to that has been – on our part – many people have also been aggressive.  That’s something which I think should be avoided.

In terms of how you respond to it: the term response has at least a dual meaning, and maybe more than two meanings.  One is, what your response is emotionally, psychologically, spiritually – how would you feel, not necessarily that you would do anything or could do anything.  If you were walking down the street and saw someone breaking into a bank – so that, מהיכי תיתי.  If you were walking down the street and saw someone raping a girl – the disgust, the revulsion – the feeling of uch – would be overwhelming.  That’s a response of one kind even if you could do nothing, all you could do is go home and discuss it with your wife, and tell her: what a terrible neighborhood we live in, it’s time to move.  But then, there is a response which is at the active plane: you can respond by going to the police station and getting the license number of the car the attacker is driving around in, and hope that the police get there before you.

When we talk about response, are we talking about: feeling warmly and with sympathy to that community, or are we talking about steps actually to be taken?  The question of steps to be taken is also a more recent phenomenon.  Fundamentally, the issur of homosexuality is a personal aveirah; I don’t know – maybe I’m wrong – of places in Tanakh or in Chazal which single out, as a communal sin, homosexuality.  I know where failure to give enough tzedakah [charity] is singled out – even with regard to gentiles – I discussed it in the shiurim on tzedakah [in the Friday morning מעגל החיים series] – that’s part of Yechezkel’s diatribe against them.  There is chillul Shabbat – all kinds of things which are singled out in nevi’im – not just that there are x number of individuals sleeping with each other in Yerushalayim – they have their own bedroom.  And historically, I think that’s how it’s been treated, as far as I know.

Today it’s become a public issue and it’s part of a public debate.  What you do in relating to a homosexual – beyond either feeling revulsion or feeling sympathy – do you let him into shul, do you give him an aliyah, do you let him daven for the amud, if he adopts a child, do you let the child attend your yeshivah.  You could give many other examples: job discrimination: is it fair, is it honest, if a person is a homosexual – I’m not talking about the army, where you may be afraid that you’ll be seduced, or whatever you’re afraid of – he wants to be a teller in a bank.  These are all issues which can be part of the public arena, the public scene.  There, different people have different emotional responses and different practical responses.

If you ask me for my own response: obviously, I don’t approve in any way, but emotionally, the fire that burns in many hearts today, and the fears which go beyond the revulsion, are beyond what I think is proper, and particularly, as the phenomenon becomes more prevalent, which is unfortunate in itself, but at the personal plane it has become a more common aveirah, it is less of an aveirah on the part of the particular individual.

My own feeling is: it’s a very unfortunate development and one that will hopefully pass, though that’s hard to say.  But, for people involved: I have a combination of – I wouldn’t say revulsion, that may be too strong a term – I certainly have criticism, disapproval, but tempered with an element of sympathy.  These are people who are very unfortunate.  I said to one of them who came to talk to me: you are thrice punished.  First of all, you are punished in that you can’t have a normal life: one of the great joys of my life is my children, my family, my wife, and children you can’t have.  Secondly, you are punished in that you have no one to whom to turn – you come out, risking your own situation, taking a position.  Thirdly, the disapproval generates further disapproval.  Particularly, if one acknowledges that many of the people who are caught in this situation feel that they are אנוסים [coerced], not שוגג [accidental], not מזיד [intentional].

From what I gather psychologists are divided on this issue, as to whether it is something which is controllable or not.  But the material which they send me – I’m not singled out for anything – reflects a readiness on the part of many, and they would be very happy if you could cure them.  There are some, who are very militant, who wouldn’t want you to use the term cure – they are not sick any more than the heterosexual people are sick – that’s how they regard it – that, I think, is pushing it a bit too far.  You might assume they are not to be held fully responsible if it’s a genetic development, but, certainly it is not something which we want to see become more rampant.

Comments

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thieves since when do we attack thieves

Halacha mandates the violation of the Sabbath to prevent an act of guy-on-guy sodomy, but does not allow an act of guy-on-guy sodomy to prevent the violation of the Sabbath.

I'm not beginning to enter the discussion on how religious people mistread homosexuals, or some of the meritorious items mentioned. But this guy should not have the title rabbi if he can't demonstrate proper application and prioritization of one halacha over the other. I know Reform women rabbis that are more learned than him. (Okay, I just know of one, but still...)

I admire his courage and candor. Watch the hysterical reaction.

Halacha mandates the violation of the Sabbath to prevent [...]

Posted by: Maskil | January 01, 2013 at 02:27 PM

How could "an act of guy-on-guy sodomy" prevent violation of the Sabbath?

Please read Dov Carol's original post Session 3: Perspective on Homosexuals on his blog Pages Of Faith - Exploring the thought of HaRav Aharon Lichtenstein
.

According to Elli Fisher, Rabbi Lichtenstein’s comments were made in English; then Yediot Ahranot translated them into Hebrew; and then Ynet.com translated the Hebrew into English.

According to this turn of events, the term “miserable” was never used by Rabbi Lichtenstein. The original as noted in the blog post was the following: “... for people involved: I have a combination of – I wouldn't say revulsion, that may be too strong a term – I certainly have criticism, disapproval, but tempered with an element of sympathy. These are people who are very unfortunate.”

Joel Katz
Religion and State in Israel
@religion_state

How could "an act of guy-on-guy sodomy" prevent violation of the Sabbath?

I have no idea. But I know with absolute certainty that it's not permitted ... even if it can prevent Sabbath violation.

Comparing gays to thieves - I can't imagine that anyone would find that offensive.

" I know Reform women rabbis that are more learned than him. (Okay, I just know of one, but still...)

Posted by: Maskil | January 01, 2013 at 02:27 PM "

No you don't!

Please read Dov Carol's original post Session 3: Perspective on Homosexuals on his blog Pages Of Faith - Exploring the thought of HaRav Aharon Lichtenstein
.

According to Elli Fisher, Rabbi Lichtenstein’s comments were made in English; then Yediot Ahranot translated them into Hebrew; and then Ynet.com translated the Hebrew into English.

According to this turn of events, the term “miserable” was not used by Rabbi Lichtenstein.

The original as noted in the blog post was the following: “... for people involved: I have a combination of – I wouldn’t say revulsion, that may be too strong a term – I certainly have criticism, disapproval, but tempered with an element of sympathy. These are people who are very unfortunate.”

thieves since when do we attack thieves

Posted by: seymour | January 01, 2013 at 02:25 PM

That seems to have been his point.

No you don't!

Posted by: mb | January 01, 2013 at 02:51 PM

Yes, I have a relative who is an assistant to a Reform woman rabbi. I've read some of her stuff and she is shockingly familiar with the Shulchan Aruch, mehaber, rama & nosei kelim. I thought they didn't even learn that stuff, but she makes drashot from it like we make drashot from seemingly irrelevant biblical verses. She wouldn't have made such a big gaffe; she'd admit that Shabbos beats gay sodomy like paper beats rock.

...like we make drashot...

OMG ... Freudian slip. I'm not Orthodox, but I was raised Haredi and I do not disavow the ideology. I think that's why I included myself.

Okay, I guess I glossed over the fact that he's YB Soloveitchik's eidim. I take back what I said. Although at my level of knowledge my rationale seems sound, I have no doubt that he could wipe the floor with me. If he said it then he can back it up. I retract any conclusion from my original statement.

Posted by: Ben | January 01, 2013 at 03:24 PM

It's neither depraved or a perversion unless it's done by a guy who isn't attracted to guys. While the Torah writes "... as one lays with a woman," Chazal saw it the other way around and derive from there that heterosexual sodomy is a legitimate form of sexual intercourse. Halacha acknowledges that guy-on-guy sodomy has laws of incest in addition the the base prohibition. It's verified that this is a desire that occurs in nature, that it is "sex" just as vaginal intercourse is sex, just that it's forbidden like adultery is forbidden.

The frumma are obsessed with penises, big and small, young and old, no matter where the penis is aimed, the frumma want to be involved.

Posted by: Shmarya is A Piece of Garbage | January 01, 2013 at 03:51 PM

You know, WSC, when I see the vitriol coming from these people, even just the screen names they choose, I have to think you're on the money when you say,

you realize they are filled with hate, resentment, and jealousy of everyone else in the world.

They hate nonJews. They hate Jews who aren't exactly like them. They hate anyone who doesn't hand over money to them.

All they will speak of, once you loosen them up with some vodka, is hate, anger, resentment about why they are personally so unsuccessful, jealousy that you have a good job and career and they don't. These are truly miserable people.

All they will speak of, once you loosen them up with some vodka, is hate, anger, resentment about why they are personally so unsuccessful, jealousy that you have a good job and career and they don't. These are truly miserable people.

Posted by: Jeff | January 01, 2013 at 04:37 PM

They have been sold a bill of goods by their gedolim/rabbonim/community: If you pray in the way that we say, dress as we say, eat, sleep, shit, fuck, love and hate as we say then you will have a good life. However, reality is that they are surrounded by those who do not follow the regulations, who have enjoyment from their lives and are not constrained by an arbitrary set of rules and they chafe, and grumble that they were promised a good life but instead they are married to someone chosen by others, have many children to support and marry off, have obligations, however arbitrary, to others and they are trapped, and miserable but have neither the will or education to be free of this cult. In my practice I see numerous members of the sect. Very very very few are happy. The ones in positions of power and influence give the impression of a happier life but most are dependent on others for a meager living and have no idea how to improve their circumstances. They are angry and jealous of others, especially jealous of Conservative and Reform Jews who have even a modicum of personal success in life, as the Cult takes, but rarely gives back.

When the Nazis started to deport Jews to the extermination camps in November 1941, they didn't make a distinction between gay Jews and straight Jews or between Haredis and Reform. They all went into the box cars together and they all went up the same chimneys together.

In my practice I see numerous members of the sect. Very very very few are happy. The ones in positions of power and influence give the impression of a happier life but most are dependent on others for a meager living and have no idea how to improve their circumstances. They are angry and jealous of others, especially jealous of Conservative and Reform Jews who have even a modicum of personal success in life, as the Cult takes, but rarely gives back.

Posted by: Alter Kocker | January 01, 2013 at 04:56 PM

I'm put in mind of the Haredi man who posted a comment here some months back, to the effect of, "We're drowning. Instead of ridiculing us, why don't you try to help us?" I don't think any of us responded to him. I felt ashamed at the time, and didn't know what to say. If I were living in New York (where I'd rather be), I'd volunteer for Footsteps.

This is part of the reason I stay away for periods of time. I don't like who I become when dealing with the trolls.

Jeff -Its not that they are miserable which i admit they are but that the cannot tolerate others who arent like them which you also mention,i must add people tune into their behaviour and they instictively see through them so they cannot escape the others judgement of them

I don't know what rock most of you guys live under, but I when I go to shul on Friday night I see more well to do happily married business men then I see all week working as a sales person in Philadelphia selling mostly to Non Jews. I also see probably at least the same amount of Homophobia among the non jewish not very relgious people i work with. You guys make it sound like all or most Chareidi and Orthodox Jews are unsuccessful homophobic parasites while America is filled with successful accepting people when the reality is quite different.

Like a raging, physically violent genocidal maniac... right Jeff?

I just read the updated piece. I am wondering if anyone can tell me how R Lichtensteins opinion differs from the well known chareidi POV? They seem fairly identical

Too bad gays or more appropriately, homosexuals to be clinically accurate, were referenced at all by this MO rebbe. The whole subject of homosexuality should recieve less attention. As long as "they" do not call thier unions "marraiges" they will thrive. The state can offer them up a meaningless piece of paper and some reform rabbi can join them but they will never be recognized by the Hashem as a union, never.

Does Hashem recognize Catholic marriages, held in a church at an altar with Jesus Christ on display?
Does Hashem recognize Moslem marriages? Hindu? Buddhist?

Religion has no business being involved in marriages. Should religion be involved in driving licenses? Dog license? Should I consult an orthodox rabbi about getting a fishing license?

Marriage is a privilege like any other action that the government regulates in the name of public safety and raising revenue. Whether gays can get married by the state is a civil rights matter. If frumma are allowed to get married, why not gays? Gays contribute more to society than frumma.
Frumma are allowed, nowadays, to keep their hats on while in court. So what if, instead of hats, someone liked anal sex? Shouldn't gays be allowed to have the same rights as frumma?

Here is why homosexuality is so vilified among religious people. Every other sin is equal opportunity. All of us covet, all of us feel the urge to steal, cheat, commit violence to some degree. Only a minority of people will ever feel the urge for homosexual relations. So it is very easy to point a finger where you yourself have no internal guilt. People don't have a knack for introspection, and like to think well of themselves.

Please read Dov Carol's original post [...]

Posted by: Joel Katz | January 01, 2013 at 03:03 PM

Joel Katz, where does Elli Fischer mention/discuss Rabbi Lichtenstein’s remarks?

Mimi, that is a very interesting point.

Like a raging, physically violent genocidal maniac... right Jeff?

Posted by: Korbendallas72 | January 01, 2013 at 06:14 PM

You need help. I wish you'd try to get it.

Does Hashem recognize Catholic marriages, held in a church at an altar with Jesus Christ on display?
Does Hashem recognize Moslem marriages? Hindu? Buddhist?

Religion has no business being involved in marriages. Should religion be involved in driving licenses? Dog license? Should I consult an orthodox rabbi about getting a fishing license?

Marriage is a privilege like any other action that the government regulates in the name of public safety and raising revenue. Whether gays can get married by the state is a civil rights matter. If frumma are allowed to get married, why not gays? Gays contribute more to society than frumma.
Frumma are allowed, nowadays, to keep their hats on while in court. So what if, instead of hats, someone liked anal sex? Shouldn't gays be allowed to have the same rights as frumma?

Posted by: WoolSilkCotton, rock star and sports superstar | January 01, 2013 at 07:14 PM

Yes. Jewish law views marriages recognized by local governments. a) IF that province fell under Judean law the Gentiles would be held accountable to laws of adultery in the presence of such a marriage, as well as socio-economic responsibilities stemming from such a union, b) If a Jew is married to a Gentile under such a convention, ONLY then is sex between the Jew and the Gentile a biblical prohibition worth of flogging (where relevant) and other accompanying applications.

Courts of law, in dealing with marital rape, have classically and consistantly ruled that marriage is an agreement to legitimize sexual intercourse. Through this narrow spyglass it would seem that legistlation to recognize gay marriage (between men) would be an official arrangement to sanction guy-on-guy sodomy.

Lastly, the rabbis of the Talmud saw an added value in the fact that Gentiles who are not cautious to avoid male-on-male sodomy still refrain from legitimizing it with a "ketuba" (in this case: a formal wedding contract). They called this one of 3 mitzvoth still kept out of 30 that the nations of the world had accepted upon themselves (thus binding themselves to obey them for all time).

While some republican in NY has thousands of right with his wife, I have none of those rights with his wife - even if I become a legal citizen of NY.

--

I wrote this because you asked. I don't assume to possibley understand the vastness of the desire of same sex couples to unite. But I do know that as of today it is still not outlawed in any US state (it's just not a concept officiated and/or regulated by most states). I think that it should be decided through the greatest respect of democracy and civil liberties ... not by religion. I feel the same way about blue laws, incestuous marriages and poligamy (which ARE prohibited in some or most states, respectively).

Maskil said: " If a Jew is married to a Gentile under such a convention, ONLY then is sex between the Jew and the Gentile a biblical prohibition worth of flogging (where relevant) and other accompanying applications."

So Nazis got the idea of "rassenschande" (racial defilement) from the Jews. Who would have guessed?

Until quite recently in history, marriages, at least of rich people, had more to do with political alliances between countries (Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI) or real estate ((keeping property in the family) than with love. Marriages were arranged.

So Nazis got the idea of "rassenschande" (racial defilement) from the Jews. Who would have guessed?

No, the prohibition is on marriage, but the determining act for which one is subject to biblical sentencing is consumation.

But, on some level perhaps, since a woman who has sex with a Gentile is defiled and forbidden to a kohen, and any offspring of such a union are defiled kohanim (halalim). So, there is some of that in Judean basic (i.e. biblical) law. According to Kabala, sex with a Gentile (even outside wedlock) causes the exicion of the soul of the Jew from God and the Jewish nation. This Kabalistic view is expressed in standard halacha as well, coupled with the fact that "if they were married" there'd be a biblical prohibition as well as the eversteady spiritual exicision Gentiles are deemed "arayot" (sexually prohibited at a certain degree that specific laws apply, prohibition of isolation; prohibition of passionate embrace etc.).

But, you know, the Nazis also ate bread in the morning and wore clothes with buttons--I think they like buttons. They also held military parades, and I think this is why the IDF doesn't hold military parades and the soldiers don't know how to march or stand in formation ... but I'm not sure. Yet, we let Germans march down the streets of Jerusalem during Sukkot. Go figure.

So this is suppose to be a "moderate" position. No wonder I left the frum world years ago. Glad to be gone and I have no intention of coming back. What bigots.

What bigots.

Posted by: Radical Feminist | January 01, 2013 at 10:16 PM

YEP! Not to mention ignorant fanatics.

WSC re why some people have such a negative attitude to gays it probably is more to do with guilt in that they very well may have some tendency in themselves however small towards homosexuality and are angry at gays that make them confront their own feelings.
Maskil in the end the sin of transgressing shabbat on purpose is the same as for male sodomy pretty equivalent I'm not sure where it says you can desecrate shabbat to avoid sodomy please enlighten me.
I believe you can call up neither for an aliyah if they publicly transgress either. I don't think you can say that Torah says sodomy is worse especially since you have much less choice in the matter with sodomy

Hey Maskil - You sound as though you used to
be quite a Masmid, so I'm really interested. What's your story and what to you hold now?

SHMARYA i'M CONFUSED....

if the first text is clearly the result of broken telephone - i.e. an english translation of a hebrew translation of an english letter, WHY KEEP IT UP --- its seems to me to be BAD JOURNALSIM and just simply inflammatory.
If you have the corrected version - why put it after the problematic version, why not just replace it....
Again -- this seems to ethically and morally problematic journalism...
CAN YOU JUSTIFY THIS POOR JOURNALISM??

(I really want you to, I want to think that you have a good reason for this -- perhaps bashing the original cited source for doing something so blatantly idiotic...--- but then make that clear in your post)

WSC re why some people have such a negative attitude to gays it probably is more to do with guilt in that they very well may have some tendency in themselves however small towards homosexuality and are angry at gays that make them confront their own feelings.

I think that has a great deal to do with it. I've become convinced that sexual orientation is a spectrum rather than a dichotomy, and that that fundamentalists and others who "hold by" conservative theologies, and who are the most vocal about homosexuality, are trying desperately to deny those tendencies within themselves.

and "others"... "who are the most vocal about homosexuality, are trying desperately to deny those tendencies within themselves." Typical homosexual drivel by those gays desperately seeking validation and a weak offense toward thier detractors.Other than this marraige fraud that homosexuals and liberals are foisting on mainstream America, no one cares about what gays do or do not do.

Posted by: zionist goy | January 02, 2013 at 06:30 AM

You really are the most colossal fool.

Korbendallas72-JEFF IS A VERY HONEST PERSON HE HAS THE RIGHT TO BE ANGRY AND EXPRESS HIMSELF, I AGREE WITH HIM 100 PER CENT AND I CANT SAY THAT FOR ANYONE ELSE HERE.

Thank you, Jancsi.

Maskil in the end the sin of transgressing shabbat on purpose is the same as for male sodomy pretty equivalent I'm not sure where it says you can desecrate shabbat to avoid sodomy please enlighten me.

Look, I already took back the conclusion I drew from that argument, so the point is moot. I could bring the source for "the sake of it" but it would lead to a different discussion about rape and violation of an individual's civil liberties and what means are justified to protect against such a rape, and then an entire digression into degrees of sexual misconduct and the views of rape and protecting against rape for each degree of violation vis-à-vis personal violation ... so it's just not worth it. I stand by my statement, but the conclusion that this has any bearing on the severity of one over the other (violating Shabbat vs. violating guy-on-guy sodomy) I completely retracted. I defer to the knowledge and expertise of the Brisker's son-in-law, which I am certain is in a different dimension than my own.

I believe you can call up neither for an aliyah if they publicly transgress either. I don't think you can say that Torah says sodomy is worse especially since you have much less choice in the matter with sodomy

Posted by: Shlomo1 | January 01, 2013 at 11:22 PM

Yeah, right. Because it's so fucking hard to pull the seeds out of the watermelon before eating it but it's just that goddamn simple to stick your penis up another guy's rectum. [/cynical-sarcasm]

I'm pretty sure they can both be given an aliya if they're not doing it in shul while they're being called up or when the Torah is being read. Neither have signed any commitment to perpetuate the same crime again in the future.

Hey Maskil - You sound as though you used to be quite a Masmid, so I'm really interested. What's your story and what to you hold now?

Posted by: Efshar Umechaven | January 02, 2013 at 12:59 AM

I hold according to the mesorah in which I was educated. That קדש עצמך במותר לך is מדאורייתא, that the world was created in 6 literal days (like the אריז"ל, whatever that means, but it doesn't effect the age of the earth or the universe at all and that there are other legitimate opinions in Judean philosophy like רבי יצחק דעכו), that כי קרוב אליי הדבר מאוד בפי ובלבבי לעשותו to perfect myself to be שולט על יצרי and to reach the level of a צדיק שלא עבר עבירה מימיו even if I cannot conquer my יצר הרע but I can be perfect in action, that the State of Israel was erected in sin - basically, things that are arbitrarily defined and cannot be "proved" or "disproved" but have a classic tradition. That something was different in the human consciousness between the early 60s and the early 90s and that's over, and that we need to change our lexicon and nomenclature to match the new state of western consciousness, that there is a unified source to all existence that we cannot understand or define and that is what is meant by "God" and that any definition or limitation is heretical (including "faith" and "belief," which have now become the idea of accepting a defined set of principles above all truth rather than accepting the principles as truth before defining them), that the Torah was written by at least one man whose inspiration we call "dictation from God" but that we cannot quantify or qualify, that the same source that maintained the tradition that we are Jews is the same source of our national philosophy and that is "the perpetual giving of the Torah" whereas by now the Tanach is not much more than a mnemonic device (in this generation at least), and that even scientists acknowledge the concept of a single source for all being that cannot, by its very nature, be qualified by science, and that they also do not deny the existence of the Shulchan Aruch and the teshuvot that elaborate on those halachot, that compliance with one of the 613 precepts is not ever conditional on the compliance with another....

I had very bad OCD that caused me to see very fine details in everything, and for some evil divine reason I am not bound by group-think so I see everything through an objective microscope, which makes me constantly aware of every miniscule violation I perpetrate at every moment (not unlike almost everyone else), and one day I stopped suppressing the guilt and maintaining the denial that I had ever maintained any standard with distinct boundaries and red lines and I decided to stop trying and come to terms with the guilt and failure, and within a week or two I was watching TV on Shabbat (not like that was my first conscious violation of Shabbat, not even the most severe violation), and I hope one day I will live in a democratically established culture that enforces halacha more strongly so that I can be a better person because on my own volition I'm a total failure.

Maskil, I'm trying to get my mind around the fact that you can make statements such as,

that there is a unified source to all existence that we cannot understand or define and that is what is meant by "God" and that any definition or limitation is heretical (including "faith" and "belief," which have now become the idea of accepting a defined set of principles above all truth rather than accepting the principles as truth before defining them)

and

whereas by now the Tanach is not much more than a mnemonic device

yet believe the earth was created in six literal days.

How do you do that?

The state can offer them up a meaningless piece of paper and some reform rabbi can join them but they will never be recognized by the Hashem as a union, never.

Posted by: zionist goy | January 01, 2013 at 07:00 PM

Thanks Zionist goy. It's always a real pleasure to receive instructions in Torah and Jewish identity from "friends" such as yourself. I'm sure you have great insight into what "the Hashem" of the Jews really wants.

The fact that people such as you have latched onto Zionism is pretty good evidence that it's time for we yidden to kiss it goodbye.

Jeff,

According to the position that the six days is literal and that the space-time continuum did not exist before that time (under 5,773 years ago), the first molad (i.e. new moon) was Monday, yet the moon was created on Wednesday. The "first year" is called shnat tohu because most of it didn't exist ... that is, it exists on the calendar, but the space-time continuum hadn't been created yet (not until the 25th of Elul, a month that "began" on its 25th day. The first man was created on Friday, the first day of the second year, in his prime - at the age of 30 - this is all so far from classical sources. Now, considering this, he probably had a belly button, as everything seems to have been created with a pre-history. And it's only logical that his bellybutton scab and baby teeth were lying around somewhere in the places he [never] played as a child.

You see, science still times everything based on the speed of decay of nuclear matter, as if it has always decayed at the same speed. Similarly, we calculate many timelines with the assumption that light always traveled at the same speed, although today it is almost certain that the speed of light was not always the same. Sooooo, like, I don't know if according to the position I was taught the space-time continuum developed quickly in six days right into it "goldilocks zone" (the space or period which "just right" for life to exist, like our distance from the sun, or our distance in time from the big bang) and thus "hit the ground running" right around the age of 15 billion years, or perhaps the billions of years took place in six days time with the current speed of light and nuclear decay speed, or perhaps it was six days of the original speed of light when converted to our speed of light (which would come out to about 15 billion years in current time keeping standards).

It's really a subjective statement to say six literal days, and I'm ready to limit that to whatever science can conclusively rule out, but not based on scientific axioms, which are good for science, and, you know, getting to the moon and back, but aren't always true.

Once the theory of gravity was accepted as fact, and then relativity disproved it. Shneur Zalman of Liadi also wrote that the theory of gravity was wrong and stemmed from a fundimental misunderstanding of time and space, and he had a really good grasp of the physical structure of the universe (and his predecesor, Sholom Dovber Schneersohn, wrote that time and space are one single creation, and we just perceive them as two separate things, but they're really interdependant in a way that shows that it's one single creation "and this is not the place to go into this in depth" - before Einstein published his theory, there were people who understood it, just not in ways that would help their governments), yet we still used the flawed theory of gravity to get to and from the moon because in practice it has no errors and is easier to calculate than the space warping calculations of relativity.

And I still reserve space for the legitimacy of R' Kaplan's (R' Yitzhak of Acre's) position of 15 billion years, and maybe the two are really the same but from different perspectives.

The point is that it's all relative, and it's a matter of perspective, and I was educated in the school of the literal six day position of the Arizal, who also had a phenominal grasp of the structure of the universe (space-time continuum) and was sticking to the six day thing (I think he meant 24 hour days, even though I haven't had time to look into this well). The hard part is asking which part of the earth was created first, I mean, given the fact that there are time zones, becaue we're living on a sphere... I'm sure he has all that figured out. I learnt enough of his teachings to be certain that he could answer that, or tell me that I'm asking a flawed question because of some element that I misunderstood.

I hope you see that it does not and can not conflict with anything that can be concretely proved, because we're talking about the beginning of time and space, or of its spontaneous creation mid-production (this one is the one I'm least inclined to go for, but there's no way I could rule it out).

It's no different that the arguement about whether the state of Israel was established in a valorous act of a mitzvah or was established in a defiant act of an averah. Both are valid opinions by established scholars who delivered the Torah and the knowledge that we are Jews to their generation, but I was educated according to the latter and I can't be "convinced" otherwise since both positions have their own bases on which to rely.

Once I was passing by the abortion clinic (there's one in the neighborhood in which I grew up) and I saw a picketer with a sign "Abortion: Highway to Hell," and for a second I was offended, what authority does he presume to have to inform me that abortions are the highway to hell? But then I was like, "Hell isn't an objectively defined location or concept, so, I guess if we agree that 'hell' is where you go by highway if you get an abortion, then he's right, abortions are the highway to hell."

And, yeah, so that's why you should know that when I "attack" Shmarya for citing "germ theory" in favor of ending MBP that I'm being really cynical and critical of anyone who defends MBP because it's so freaking clear that it should be stopped, and we can see germs and they are as factual as anything else we can perceive, so I would never, ever deny anything related to germs or proven forms of infection, because it's not a subjective subject, and nothing I've ever been taught or accepted has ever come in contrast to anything that can be objectively concluded and/or defined, and if I was taught about such subjects it was always with pure consonance with the objective reality that is still presently clear today anc objecively will remain the same objective truth tomorrow (like 1+1=2).

I hope that answers your question.

Dovid, i'm sorry you feel that way. ThAnkfully, most jewish acquaintances don't, including my jewish lesbian neighbor. I would hope that your remark was just an off the cuff insult.My hope is that all jews were zionists, secular and religious.

Maskil- I see you are a very knowledgeble person, would you say the world was created by accretion over millions of years?

The state can offer them up a meaningless piece of paper and some reform rabbi can join them but they will never be recognized by the Hashem as a union, never.

Posted by: zionist goy | January 01, 2013 at 07:00 PM

The rabbis of the Talmud did recognize a status were homosexual unions (between men) to be formalized. From the Judean philosophical perspective, including the "will of God," the document officiating the union would in no way be "meaningless."

1) The Sifra on Leviticus 18:3, "Or like the practice of the land of Egypt and the practice of the land of Canaan you should not practice ... And what did they used to do? A man would marry a man and a woman a woman, a man would marry a woman and her daughter, a woman would marry two. For this it was said "and in their laws you should not go."

2) Hullin 92b, "Ulla said: These are the thirty commandments (1) which the sons of Noah took upon themselves but they observe three of them, namely, [Chullin 92b] (i) they do not draw up a kethubah document for males, (2) (ii) they do not weigh flesh of the dead in the market, (3) and (iii) they respect the Torah."
--
(1) [These are comprised in the seven Noahide precepts. For reference v. Ronsberg Glosses.]
(2) Although they are suspected of indecent practices and sodomy they do not go to that length of writing a 'marriage' deed for the purpose. כתובה here means a marriage deed; for specific meanings v. Introduction to Keth., Sonc. ed., p. XI, n. 1.
(3) Although they eat human flesh they do not sell it openly in the market. Rashi also suggests: They do not sell the flesh of an animal that had not been slain but had died a natural death.


Maskil- I see you are a very knowledgeble person, would you say the world was created by accretion over millions of years?

Posted by: jancsibacsi | January 02, 2013 at 07:34 PM

I wouldn't consider myself "knowledgeable." Regarding accretion, I don't have a full grasp of the theory of relativity or the concept of the accelerating expansion of the universe (not even the concept of the expansion), and I've read a lot about these things. Also, the shape of the universe (a saddle) alludes me. So I can't comment on accretion. But "millions of years"? No, it has to be billions - and that refers to the actual "age" of the universe, whether it existed at earlier stages or not. But I still maintain the perspective that the process took six days (still not sure if these are days from the eve of Sunday to the eve of Saturday or six 24 hour periods. Like I wrote before, I am aware of only three possible scenarios that fit this definition: a) During six days it was put together like a puzzle that, when completed, assembled a universe 15 billion years old with all accompanying history, right in process, b) The six days as they would appear on our clocks were an accelerated process, or c) The six days, if we convert our concept of six days to the speed of time at that period (just under 5,773 years ago) it lasted billions of years. It is obvious that the last two are mutually exclusive of each other. I also respect the view that it just happened over 15 billion years, time remaining at the same speed as it is now, and the "six days" correspond to processes that culmination roughly 5,773 years ago when humans achieved a level of consciousness common to all human kind alive today, but not necessarily in that exact period (i.e. 5,773 years ago - it could be that refers to some other milestone or is metaphorical altogether). Although I don't hold of the latter opinion I respect it more than other traditional opinions that do not take the six days literally.

We are now just years away (a few decades at most) from calculating the speed of light and its changes since the beginning (the big bang) until now, and that will certainly narrow down the three options that I posited above (by reclassifying them, or eliminating one or more of them).

We are now just years away (a few decades at most) from calculating the speed of light...

By that I meant whether the speed is constant or whether it varies.

Maskil, the idea that the laws of physics - specifically, the speed of light and rates of decay - operated differently in the past is a rhetorical refuge indulged in by creationists. There is no evidence of it, and I know of no legitimate scientist who gives it any credence.

If Rav Lichtenstein really wants the community's attitude to reflect the proper "severity" of the sin, why doesn't he specify anal intercourse between men as the issue? There is no direct prohibition of lesbian sexuality, nor is there any prohibition of other sexual acts between men. There is even some debate about whether these acts ("derekh eivarim") are assur d'oraita at all (Shmuel I believe says something like "the Torah doesn't forbid pritsuta b'alma").

So what would Rav Lichtenstein say about two men who are the equivalent of married and have decided as part of their commitment to follow Torah that they will not have anal intercourse but will make love in other ways. This is just the same on one level as any heterosexual couple that follows the Torah and does not have intercourse when the woman is menstruating.

The argument of equal weights on one level applies to this discussion, and that seems to be Rav Lichtenstein's point: we must apply equal weight to equal aveirot. And I would extend his teaching here to say that those who act with hatred towards homosexual people are on a spiritual level violating the prohibition against using unequal measures and therefore committing to'evah/abomination. The same priniciple applues to treating homosexuality in geberal as to'evah when the Torah only applies this to anal intercourse between men.

But Rav Lichtenstein doesn't carry his arguments to their end, which he needs to do.

Btw, there is debate about whether homosexuality is genetic, but there is certainty that in some cases it has a genetic component, and there also is certainty that it is natural. Many many species have homosexual interactions and even pairings. See Bagemihl's book, "Biological Exuberance".

Maskil, the idea that the laws of physics - specifically, the speed of light and rates of decay - operated differently in the past is a rhetorical refuge indulged in by creationists. There is no evidence of it, and I know of no legitimate scientist who gives it any credence.

Posted by: Jeff | January 03, 2013 at 05:14 AM

Regarding nuclear decay: Science has already observed and proven that the decay is not steady at the same rate. Yet, for scientific axioms it is necessary to assume that the decay has always been steady. This works for most applications, but it is also used in carbon dating (which is mostly proved accurate given external correlations). Scientists do not deny this, but it is futile, from a scientific perspective, to speculate regarding anything that the rate of decay was different at a certain pace during any part of history since the formation of the earth (which is a long way from the big bang) just to arrive a specific predetermined calculation to satisfy some dogma. There is no room in science for such speculation, only proper scientific proof can guide scientific study, and that doesn't exist right now (nor is it foreseen that we will be able to achieve that any time soon). So it is completely understandable that no scientist would indulge in this form of mental masturbation. However, a) from an individual perspective I don't have enough information to rule it out, so I keep my mind open to the possibility, b) since it is not the current working scientific theory I am inclined not to run with this, and as you will see I presume at all times in my response that the universe is indeed 15 billion years old.

Regarding the speed of light and its possible acceleration, deceleration or variability: This is a relatively new development in scientific study and the true gedolim of yesteryear who entertained various theories to resolve their dogmas regarding the age of the earth neither took into account the scientific proofs regarding the age of the universe based on light travel nor did they engage in explaining the fact the science recognizes with almost certainty that it was not always the same from the time of the big bang, and these rabbis are mostly dead now or are silent on these issues due to escalation of dogma-mongering (which I believe stems strongly from a natural reactionary response among commoners to reject things that are not convenient for them based on the fact that the outdated terminology is being used to explain to a new generation of consciousness the principles of Judean philosophy, and this is strongly the fault of the leadership for not bridging the generational gap, but also an age-old tradition for anyone who wants to willy-nilly shake off guilt or responsibility based on a few misstatements). I did not grow up in the age of "creationism," which is a fabrication of the Christian evangelical right, but I have relatives in both Hasidic and non-Hasidic institutions and I have recently learned that this has penetrated the American Haredi dialogue and even reached the level of dogma. I have nothing to do with that, and my relationship to creationism is laughing at jokes poked at it on The Daily Show and Family Guy. It's so far from my reality you can't accuse me of even borrowing any of their agreements. I'm not aware of discussions regarding the changes in the speed of light, and I am afraid to google it because I neither want to be exposed to that nutty culture nor to discover how vast it actually is and how far it has penetrated Orthodox Jewish culture. What I wrote was from my own reading on the literature, and I'm certain however that you will not find anyone on the creationist scale stating that "We are now just years away (a few decades at most) from calculating the speed of light and its changes since the beginning (the big bang) until now, and that will certainly narrow down the[se] options ... (by reclassifying them, or eliminating one or more of them)."

Also note that I am ready to accept ANY part of the scripture and other non-historical writings as non-literal/metaphorical. Like I said, my source for accepting a six day creation is from the Arizal, while the Tanach is not much more than a mnemonic device. The Arizal meant it literally, and I don't see any conflict between that perspective and the scientific age of the world at all, as I discussed earlier. I would not accept something as pure fact unless it is proved or it is a subjective matter of perspective that cannot be disproved. This case falls into the latter. I'd also like to make clear that I do not equate the Arizal's teachings with official Judean philosophy because there are other sources that disagree with him. This is merely a position that I hold to be true because I was educated in line with the Lurian philosophy.

On a side note: Although I mention the theory of the world being created right in the middle of the time-line of the space-time continuum, whatever that would mean (abeit the theory I consider least likely - though it is the only one that cannot be ruled out or reclassified), I am well aware that R' Aryeh Kaplan waged a heavy philosophical criticism against the person who posited this as one (of two) valid theories, but I don't have the capacity to analyze and completely agree that his philosophy is so sound that it rules out the theory altogether and now both Aryeh Kaplan and the person with whom he took issue are both dead so I can discuss that matter with neither and I am forced to accept both the possibility that the theory is (by Judean philosophical standards) philosophically legitimate as well as the possibility that it is illegitimte (or even that I failed to properly understand either of them, or that had they discussed it with each other one would have conceded to the other or it would have turned out that they were not disagreeing in the first place and the argument was mostly based on semantics). Because now that they're dead their theories are in a certain value "canonized" and I can't side with one over the other given that the extent of their debate was never properly hashed out between the two, while it would seem though that each one had enough information and knowledge to have taken into account the considerations of the other.

So, please don't equate me or my views with "creationism," which is an evil dogma intended to undermine the advancement of scientific study and objective thought on an educational, a national and a global level. I don't read their stuff, I take no influence or inspiration from it, I am diametrically opposed to it and any person or effort wanting to perpetuate it, and I am distraught by its prevalence and influence among communities with which I once identified.

Posted by: zionist goy | January 02, 2013 at 06:43 PM
"ThAnkfully, most jewish acquaintances don't, including my jewish lesbian neighbor. I would hope that your remark was just an off the cuff insult.My hope is that all jews were zionists, secular and religious."

Of course, "some of my best friends are Jews." As they all say.

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