Thursday, January 21, 2010

"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and it may be necessary from time to time to give a stupid or misinformed beholder a black eye" - Miss Piggy

Did you ever hear the joke about..............

One Friday morning a woman meekly knocks on the door to her rabbi's study. In her hand is a bowl of freshly made chopped liver. The rabbi is busy learning, and not wanting to disturb him she places the bowl of chopped liver (which happens to be garnished with crackers) on the rabbi's desk, and stands patiently until the rabbi is ready to speak to her.

Being totally absorbed in his studies, the rabbi gets a whiff of the chopped liver and begins to dip the crackers into the liver. Before long he finishes eating the whole bowl of chopped liver along with the crackers. He finally notices his guest and asks her what she wants.

The woman is barely able to speak to the rabbi. When she musters up the courage she says, "Rabbi, I came to ask you if the chopped liver which I prepared in my kitchen is kosher?"

The rabbi looks at the empty bowl, looks up at the woman, looks at the empty bowl again...and dusting the crumbs off his beard announces "It's kosher!"

Not funny!

I am quite angry, having heard that gay men are being refused as "eidim" because they are deemed to be "not kosher" witnesses. This was mentioned at the YU symposium and my son admitted the same thing to me.

For it seems that the label "kosher" may very well be in the eye of the beholder.

Follow this thread...........

My wife was applying to the local Vaad Hakashruth for a hechsher for her store. To meet the criteria one must get a letter from the rabbi of an Orthodox shul attesting to the fact that the owner of the store is Shomer Shabbos and attends an Orthodox shul. She got the hechsher.

Lately, we have been attending a minyan once a month that is egalitarian. Some women leyn and some daven.

I would doubt if the people in charge of the Vaad Hakashruth would consider this to be a "kosher" minyan, or even an "orthodox" minyan. Furthermore, I wonder what the Orthodox establishment would call the rabbi who has sanctioned and is leading this minyan.

Do you think he would be refused as an "eyd" because of his non-kosher activities?

I guess it's all in the eye of the beholder.

By the way.....this is the same rabbi who disqualified my son as an "eyd".

Be well.

Saul David


Anonymous said...

Saul David,
I agree with you and feel for your son and your family.
I have been surfing the blogs of many young Jews lately and even more so since December 22nd and I have been saddened to see how blindly some of them follow everything said in the classroom as the final judgement without engaging in debate.
They seem so focused on frum gay young men without wanting to discuss frum lesbians.
Since some of the arguments may refer to the results of both "unnatural" desires: not being able to "procreate"; engaging in same sex relationships; engaging in unnatural sexual activities, etc. I find it intersting that this topic is seldom addressed.
I think I know why.
There is no prescribed way to feel or think about women in these situations.
And what about heterosexual couples who are unable to procreate? Are they denied the marriage bed? Are they forced to divorce?
Situations where one must think things out for themselves are not comfortable to say the least. But I was taught that learning should lead to thinking for oneself.
I feel so much for our young people and their families. For you and your family.
I cannot believe that there is so much contempt for people going through such pain.
And that they cannot see where attitudes like these have always led in the past.
May the hypocrits learn and understand their hypocrisy.

Anonymous said...

On what grounds could you possibly disqualify for being an eid?

Is it gayness "per se" that disqualifies someone? What about all of the talmidim and rabbonim who are closeted?

Are all of the ketubot that they signed invalid?

What about all of the married gay people throughout the centuries?

Any ketubah in the world could be invalid by this standard since no human being knows the true sexual orientation of any other human being.

Or is it the publicness that disqualifies?

But a public declaration of gayness does not mean that one's behavior violates Torah.

Halacha does not recognize "gayness". For better or worse, it does not exist in halahca. We are not Xstians, who believe that you can "sin in your heart". The only sin is behavior.

I once met a young man in Cleveland who was obviously gay. I handed him an early copy of Steve Greenberg's essay in Tikkun and he poured out his story to me.

This man had never had *any* sexual experiences. None. And yet he was ostracizied from his community, depressed, in treatment with a self-hating (gay) Orthodox psychiatrist and as a result, nearly suicidal.

I cannot understand the reasoning here. I think that the rabbi in this case must seriously consider the balance between the somewhat shaky halachic he is relying upon vs. the very clear prohibition against causing embarassment.

Ben Lewis said...

This is not in any way an old issue. Quite some time ago I was asked by friends to say a bracha at their wedding. Having come over to them only a few months before they explained "Ben, we really wanted to have you as an Eid. We can't, however much we love you, take the risk of our marriage being invalid. Still, we want to give you a kavod, so we're asking you to do this."
Very kind of them, and I completely understood. Part of that is what gives rise to my next point. As much as orthodox Judaism (which I practice, each to his own though) of rigid and unchanging, the tide of young, aware, caring and accepting Jewish leadership is slowly coming in. As we gay Jews await this change, we must remember that it is a tide, something that can not be forced. We can surf it, make it stand out more through symposiums and articles, but we cannot force this change, only pray for high tide.
Ben Lewis

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