Wednesday, November 28, 2007

"Do not judge your fellow man until you have been in his position" Pirkei Avot 2:5

We live in a predominantly Jewish community with a large Orthodox affiliation in the North East part of the country. Like the old joke, we are actually members of three shuls, the one my wife likes to go to, the one I like to go to, and the one I attended when I was in aveluth.

About 10 days had passed and the chagim were finally over.

Having not received any answers we decided to seek counselling from the shul rabbi where I attend. It is a large congregation of 750 frum families. As is the case in most communities, it is moving farther and farther to the right. Nevertheless, we decided to meet with the rabbi of this congregation. He has known our family for almost twenty years and because he tends to such a large constituency we felt that he has the most experience in pastoral work. We figured (and we know of a few cases) that he has "seen it all" from where he sits.

When we sat down in his study we explained that everyone was healthy, but that we had a different and difficult situation to discuss. We told him that our son told us that he is gay. The rabbi looked at us, took a deep breath as his face paled, and sat in silence for a few long minutes.

When he broke the silence he said "you have such a fine young man as a son. How he must have been in tremendous turmoil over the last few years. It is your job to help him get through these tough times."

Then a small smile crept over his face. He said that before we came to see him, he was meaning to call us because he thought that he had the perfect girl for our son.

We talked for quite a while. We discussed our other children. My wife inquired about calls that he might receive for references on our other children. He responded that it is not an issue.

He went on to relay to us that he sees all kinds of problems and issues in the community.

Our rabbi then quoted from Pirkei Avot and taught us that a basic tenet of halakha is that we can never actually be in a position to judge our fellow man because it is virtually impossible to ever have the same experience, backgound, culture and genetics of our fellow man.

He was not helpful in terms of finding resources for us, but he was helpful in offering us his guidance. We ended the meeting with him asking us to relay to our son that he should feel free to call him at any time. He reiterated that we have fine children and we will get nachos from them, each in their own way and in their own time.

For a brief moment, we felt better.


1 comment:

NoPeanutz said...

It is unfortunate that the Rav could not offer any references. However, it is very encouraging that he was open-minded about the issue.
Open-mindedness in the OrthoJew community is the only thing that will resolve this phenomenon, and the only thing that will help Jewish homosexuals feel at home in shul. Of course realizing that this will take a tremendous compromise with and possibly even a reinterpretation of the traditional readings of certain religious conventions- and perhaps it is not even fair to ask for this tremendous step. However, it may be the right (tzadik) thing to do, even if not fair.
But it will be open-mindedness that will finally make these support groups obsolete, and hopefully cast light unto where there is darkness.