Against Excessive Compassion
Rabbi Yehoishophot Oliver
Many well-meaning Jews, including Chasidic Jews, have been sharing this recently released video, which ostensibly argues for “compassion” for those who took part in the Tel Aviv shame parade. With all due respect, although the speaker has some valid points, I believe that the main point in the video is sorely misguided, wrong, and harmful. The lecture also contains a number of other worrisome, flawed, and dangerous ideas.
- The video is not just talking about those with homosexual tendencies; it’s discussing those who took part in the shame parade. The new atheist immoral crusaders. These folks are on a zealous campaign to defile society, defile the Holy Land in general and the Holy City of Jerusalem in particular. They insist on their “right” to crudely shove their grotesque perversion in our faces, insist that it’s “love”, and proclaim that if we dare disagree and point out that it’s not love at all but sin, we’re haters. They are leading an all-out lobbying campaign for brutal Sodom-like laws that further degenerate society and turn all religious people into a persecuted minority. Through their own blatantly and rabidly hostile attitude to Judaism and all faith in a deity that prescribes a moral code, and their campaign to corrupt society with their perverse beliefs and obscene sexual practices, these folks forfeit their right to our compassion.
In a different category altogether are those who struggle personally with this sinful desire, yet are decent enough to feel shame. They have not joined this evil movement and they recognize its degeneracy. These folks do indeed deserve our unqualified sympathy and compassion.
- The speaker falsely equates Shabbos violation with the sin of homosexual relations. This is incorrect, as the two sins are in a completely different category. The former is a special mitzvah for Jews that is not one of the mishpatim, rational laws, while the latter is part of the basic sheva Mitzvos (the Seven Noahide Laws) incumbent upon all mankind. It’s one thing to support “compassion” for those who commit a sin that is not strictly rational, and another thing entirely to support it for a sin that is.
- Also, to be consistent, you’d also have to support “compassion” for those who commit other heinous sins such as murder, incest, rape, adultery, bestiality, child sexual abuse, and so on. (There is no logical reason to differentiate between victimless and non-victimless sins and crimes when it comes to compassion.) Yet everyone shies away from such displays of compassion, because they realize that doing so would also have the effect of minimizing the severity of these sins in the eyes of the populace, thus causing these behaviors to become more prevalent and less so, which is why there is no mass campaign to promote compassion for those who commit these crimes and sins (at least, not yet).
- The speaker states further that in fact, it’s not the will of Hashem for there to be a death penalty for desecrating Shabbos. This is outrageous; of course it is. Explicit verses aren’t written for nothing. We can’t implement this penalty in practice because we are in galus, due to our many sins—not because such an execution would be inherently wrong. (It is true that our sages view the death penalty as a last resort, and that there are many technicalities by which one can be released from the death penalty, and that the sages seek to find such exemptions when possible. However, that only means that it is desirable to avoid imposing it; it still in no way implies that imposing it is inherently wrong.) Moreover, although Jews are unable to impose the death penalty as we live in exile, non-Jews should do so even now for the crime of homosexual relations (along with adultery, bestiality, and incest) as part of the Noahide laws.
- The words “we don’t believe it’s the will of Hashem even though it’s written in Torah; we will put in all our effort to read between the lines and understand the real intention” are very disturbing. This implies that although the Torah states its values very clearly, based on our own independent sense of morality we know that in reality, the opposite is the case, and in fact, it is to take what the Torah says at face value that would be immoral. This is the stuff of Reform.
- Now on to the kabalistic talk. The speaker says that those who desire to commit these perverse deeds have a problem with their souls. True. However, this does not mean they lack free choice. Most disturbingly, he then takes this further and declares that expecting these people not to sin and to observe halacha “kills” them and would “destroy their lives”. This is outrageous. People have free choice not sin. Sure, a person can’t change his way of life overnight all at once, but slowly but surely, he can. In contrast, the Rebbe says (see here and here) that those who act in this way ought to be taught that this behavior is unhealthy and self-destructive and that they can and must stop. (Whether one can succeed at “conversion therapy” is a separate issue beyond the scope of this article, and I do not believe that a person can necessarily choose not to feel a forbidden desire; however, they can choose not to dwell on that desire and act on that desire.) On the contrary, the key to happiness is abstaining from sin.
- He then develops this approach by misquoting quasi-kabalistic notions that these folks “can’t” keep Torah until Moshiach comes, because only then will the level of “atika stima’a” which is oh so very “ancient” and “impossible for us to understand” be revealed. Which will heal everyone. Yes, when Moshiach will come, all sinners and suffering souls will be healed. But so what? That doesn’t mean we don’t have free choice, nor does it mean we should minimize the severity of their sin, or sit idly by and allow this attack on G–d and civilized society to continue.
So yes, they deserve compassion. But then again, all sin comes because of a problem in our souls, and yet we have free choice. These people, too, do have free choice. Yes, it may be very difficult for them not to sin. We should sympathize with their unusual struggle and thank Hashem that we were not challenged in this way. But we should not go so far as to exonerate them completely (cf. Tanya ch. 30).
- He states that by promising never to bring another Flood, Hashem meant that He would never again punish the sin of homosexual relations. This is ridiculous. All Hashem promised was not to punish by means of a worldwide flood, not that He would not bring devastating punishment (whether for this sin or any other). Every schoolchild knows this explanation. Moreover, the Torah warns us explicitly how the inhabitants of Canaan were banished from the Land—after the Flood—for this very sin, among other violations of proper sexual morality.
- He mentions Hashem’s rebuke of Noach, yet he fails to draw the correct lesson—that Noach was remiss in his failing to rebuke the people sufficiently for their severe sins. Yet the video draws the opposite conclusion, that these folks are doomed to sin until Moshiach comes, and they aren’t even able to do otherwise, so we shouldn’t rebuke them.
- It’s one thing to express a “limud zechus” on sinners in private, fully out of their earshot. However, the ones about whom one expresses this view should not know about it (see here: Careful Love). The public nature of this video means the sinners themselves will come to view it. They will draw the clear conclusion that this man is endorsing their choice or at least greatly minimizing its severity, which will reinforce them in their ways.
- He insists that the supporters of the gay agenda are not at fault and should not be judged for their actions. That’s absurd. The existence of a temptation doesn’t in itself exonerate the violator. They have a choice. They know it’s unnatural. They know it’s abnormal. But I wonder, how far does his determination of their innocence and unaccountability go?
We see that he defends them when they defile the Holy Land with their obscenity parades. Will he and his fellow advocates for limitless compassion still defend them when they successfully lobby to pass laws that:
- require all private religious schools to adopt a mandatory “sex-ed” curriculum that explains to them the “GLB” lifestyle in graphic detail (as has already been mandated in many public schools), and teaches that homosexual behavior is normal, that having two mommies or two daddies is normal, and that in fact it is disapproval of this behavior that is sinful and “bigoted”?
- require rabbis to officiate at same-sex “weddings” or else be heavily fined or jailed and ordered to undergo mandatory “sensitivity training” in “re-education camps”?
- categorize all disapproval of homosexual behavior as criminal “hate speech” and station zealous modern-day yevsektsia members in shuls to inform on baalei korei and have them fined and imprisoned for simply reading out the pesukim in Vayikra?
- require that all religious literature be sanitized and censored from all disapproval of sexual sin, all in the name of promoting love and tolerance?
Those who follow the news and listen to the words of these folks themselves know that these fears and many others are very far from exaggerated.
- He then goes on to quote a story of a woman who said she destroyed her marriage so that she could live as a lesbian, and he buys her “I found love and now I just live my life together” narrative without a word of critique. Since when do rabbis endorse sexual sin as “love” and the choice to engage in it on a regular basis as bringing “happiness”?! No, one living in sin is not “in love” and cannot be happy. (See here: Inner Harmony through Living Up to One’s Inner Self). Nor is she “minding her own business,” as her sinful public relationship is destructive to society around her.
- He states that these desires are inborn when this matter is still hotly debated even among secular researchers.
- He raises the purely emotional argument “what if it would be your child.” Since when is something less sinful and wrong because it’s done by a relative? What does that have to do with anything? Also, it would prove nothing if one were to view sexual sin as less severe because a relative engages in it—all it would demonstrate is that family members’ natural love for one another inappropriately causes them to tolerate sins that they should not rationally tolerate.
(Speaking of kids, there are kids standing in the background and listening. If they understand English, I’d find their listening to such a speech disturbing, even if I’d agree with its content.)
- He describes the suffering that these folks experience as somehow justifying their sin. But suffering from challenges and temptations with the yetzer hara is our lot as humans; in fact, this struggle is our very purpose in life, and the struggle is supposed to be very difficult for everyone, as the Alter Rebbe states.: “ולכן אל יפול לב אדם עליו ולא ירע לבבו מאד גם אם יהיה כן כל ימיו במלחמה זו כי אולי לכך נברא וזאת עבודתו לאכפיא לס”א תמיד.” (Tanya ch. 27). The only “end” to this suffering is death or Moshiach.
- And who’s to say that simply since their tests are so abnormal, they’re qualitatively more difficult? We can’t possibly know that, as we cannot see into their hearts. It’s just as likely that in many cases, the tests of normal folks are in fact more difficult. Either way, “according to the camel is the load” (Kesubos 67a), and they are able to choose not to sin no less than anyone with more ordinary challenges (see here: An Unflinching Reckoning).
- “People, charedim, they have what to say [about lesbian relationships]. Great, I understand you, it’s written in the Torah. … Charedim, you’re always right. … You’re always justifying yourselves, we always need to bow to you, to tell you you’re right. Yes, you’re a rabbi, for sure, for sure, of course, whatever you say, amen, kiss your hands. –Nonsense. Open your eyes. Reality. … “ Conclusion: Don’t you dare criticize this group.
Vile. Yes, charedim are right, yes lesbian relationships are wrong and immoral. In doing so, charedim are not being condescending; they’re righteously promoting (albeit nowhere near enough) the Truth that Hashem commanded for all mankind, and all the more so for Jews, who are commanded to be a “kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Shemos 19:6).
Although I imagine that the speaker is otherwise a fine Jew, in the case of this video, these are not the words of a “charedi” but of a secularist preaching hate against religious folks, and especially rabbis, for daring to take Torah and halacha seriously, for having the courage to stand up for the perfect, absolute, divine Noahide laws, which comprise the absolute, eternal moral code of our Holy Torah in the face of a fanatic, tyrannical mass popular movement zealously promoting obscenity, degeneracy, and rebellion against Hashem on a historically unprecedented level of depravity. Jews should not protest against it, he says?! Even non-Jews are obligated to protest against this evil movement as part of the Noahide law of dinim (promoting a just and moral legal system); all the more so are Jews so obligated.
- I agree with his point that ex-members of this movement have a mission to influence those still stuck in it. Still, that doesn’t mean that all others dare not protest, and must sit by silently as this movement runs amok and increasingly corrupts society with its evil ideology. Those who are silent when they could have protested are guilty of collaborating with this sin.
B”H Thank you! It’s somewhat alarming to see what is happening in American Law re. what religious (straight) people may or may not do in the US to avoid associating closely with LGBTQ people… what the leadership in Law has to say about law that was passed to protect those who still understand how bad it is… from Justia Verdict: FADA
Enter the perversely-named federal First Amendment Defense Act (“FADA”), which bears similarities to the Mississippi law that just was held unconstitutional and should suffer the same fate, as I discuss here. This is just another attempt from a quadrant of believers to create a separate society of believers who do not have to “deal with” the “other” of the LGBTQ community.
Here is the opening language of FADA:
To ensure that the Federal Government shall not take any discriminatory action against a person, wholly or partially on the basis that such person believes, speaks, or acts in accordance with a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, or that sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage, and for other purposes.
Translation: A category of people defined by their beliefs about marriage get special protections. What is that belief? That same-sex couples should not be married and should not have sex. Why do they need these protections? Because the Supreme Court held that such individuals have a constitutional right to be married.
The bill then catalogues a breathtaking list of special treatment for such believers: if you have this belief and that leads you to violate your legal obligations, you can’t be punished. You can’t lose tax benefits (like non-profit status) and you can’t be sued for your discriminatory actions, among others.
Is FADA Just Another Religious “Accommodation”? No
Those favoring such laws typically call them religious “accommodation,” but FADA is not a law of religious accommodation like any ever found consistent with the First Amendment. For example, in Employment Div. v. Smith, the Court made clear that it would find acceptable an accommodation for the use of peyote for those who use it religiously. That was a single practice-specific accommodation, narrowly designed to lift a burden off of specific, narrow religious conduct. When one adds the foundational principle that the government may not favor some believers over others, that meant that all believers who use peyote for religious services in the same way would have to be accommodated. In other words, accommodation just for the Native American Church would violate the Establishment Clause. The accommodation must be broader but also quite narrow at the same time. That is the accommodation the Court approved.
Accommodation also has been addressed at the wholesale level through two decisions, one judging the constitutionality of the blunderbuss accommodation law, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (“RFRA”) and the other addressing a facial challenge to the pernicious Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (“RLUIPA”). Neither came close to holding that a FADA would pass muster. RFRA was held unconstitutional in Boerne v. Flores. Cutter v. Wilkinson held that RLUIPA survived a facial challenge in the context of state prisons. Beyond these two decisions, the parameters of permissible accommodation in the context of broad-brush religious accommodation laws has been left untouched. If such silence meant anything when Justice Scalia was on the Court, it means nothing now that he’s gone.
Now set FADA against these cases. It is more brazen than any other accommodation offered. At least with RFRA, the evangelical agenda of wanting to refuse to rent apartments to unmarried couples and unwed mothers was hidden. Here, the exclusionary agendas are front and center. The arguments against it span the First Amendment’s Free Speech, Free Exercise, and Establishment Clause, and the Equal Protection Clauses. The only defense of it is religious “accommodation,” which, as I say above means next to nothing, because it is a new-fangled accommodation.
What is the purpose of FADA and Mississippi’s recent forays? In the big picture, it seems pretty clear to me that they are trying to construct a universe in which they do not have to “deal with” LGBTQ individuals. They don’t want to have to deal with LGBTQ individuals in business, in public accommodations like restaurants and hotels and apartment buildings, or anywhere else. They don’t want to have to serve them when they are hungry or house them when they are homeless or treat them when they are sick. These are many of the same people who believe in “re-educating” or just shunning gay youth. In short, they want two worlds: one with their own kind and one with the “others” over there.
Their defense for their agenda is that they have the “right” to believe what they want. Well, yes, they have an absolute right to believe under the First Amendment. They also have a strong right to say what they believe. But they also have an obligation to the rest of society, and what they are suggesting is not far from the two-cultures universe of South Africa’s apartheid. What many in the U.S. conveniently forget about apartheid is that it was not “just” racism, but rather racism deeply intertwined with one faith, the Dutch Reformed faith. There was a well-developed theology of racism in South Africa that supported it and that cemented it into generations, just as there was a theology of slavery embedded in the plantation society in the United States. The separation by race in both societies was achieved with the support and at the encouragement of certain religious believers and faiths.
To put it in our contemporary terms, in South Africa, the separation of races was an “accommodation” of the Dutch Reformed faith. The unseemly FADA with its wealth and mission protection for a group of believers whose goal is to exclude is also an “accommodation,” but one that is unacceptable in a free society.
Bottom line: some religious accommodation is simply immoral and wrong. So calling it “accommodation” gets you nowhere. Apartheid is wrong. Slavery is wrong. Treating women like men’s property is wrong. Polygamy is wrong. Sex with children is wrong. Letting children die of treatable medical ailments simply because their parents believe only God can heal is wrong. And each and every one has been defended on the basis of religious belief, and a law that permits it would be an “accommodation.”
FADA is also wrong // The article above connects to another article in the series. Both are by Marci Hamilton, the Public Law chair at Cardozo Law School, the law school of Yeshiva University “Long before the Supreme Court held that same-sex couples have a fundamental right to marry in Obergefell v. Hodges, those groups and believers that oppose same-sex marriage were busy lobbying for state legislation and drafting federal legislation to protect themselves from negative consequences if they were to impose their beliefs against same-sex couples. In short, they knew that they were facing the end of an era.
Just shy of 50 years before Obergefell, the Supreme Court held that interracial couples have the same fundamental right to marry in Loving v. Virginia. That decision was greeted with less enthusiasm than Obergefell, as only a small percentage, approximately 20 percent, of Americans supported a right to interracial marriage. In contrast, 42 percent of Americans support same sex marriage—more than double the support for interracial marriage immediately after Loving. (In addition, if you drill down by age, the younger the person, the higher the percentage support for same-sex marriage.)
Thus, believers in what they call “traditional marriage” had realistic premonitions that their desire to keep same-sex marriage at bay in their universes would be challenged. Some states, but far from all, passed a variety of legislation (or in the case of Louisiana, Gov. Jindal pushed into place an executive order) defensively preparing for the Court’s inevitable decision in favor of same-sex marriage. Now some conservative members of Congress have stepped in.
The So-Called First Amendment Defense Act
Enter the unfortunately and misleadingly named federal First Amendment Defense Act (“FADA”). FADA is a bill that would protect individuals, nonprofit, and for-profit organizations that have a “religious belief or moral conviction that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, or that sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage.” Think of it as a giant dome above the believers who oppose same-sex marriage that keeps the rule of law at bay.
It is decidedly not a replication of the First Amendment and in fact would be more accurately named the “Unconstitutional Under the First Amendment Act,” as I explain below.
The Background: RFRA to FADA
FADA is being touted as a “religious liberty” bill like the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (“RFRA”), but it is not.
RFRA is a deeply misguided law that instituted sui generis super statutory protection for believers against all laws by imposing a standard on the government that was not part of the First Amendment free exercise cases. Early on, its defenders claimed it just “restored” First Amendment freedoms à la its title, but the Supreme Court has repeatedly confirmed, most recently in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, that RFRA’s extreme standard is statutory, not constitutional.
RFRA has this feel-good name and exterior and trades on the ignorance of Americans (including most legislators) about the actual standards, i.e., technical legal language, imposed under the First Amendment. It was sold with support by religion and law scholars, and supported by a wide coalition, liberal to conservative. But that was twenty years ago, and as the truth of its extreme content came to the surface, the coalition dissolved.
Despite its inviting exterior, RFRA is a black box of unintended consequences that has invited believers to think of “religious liberty” as a right to impose one’s faith on others. The Hobby Lobby decision is just the most famous application of it as the arts and crafts behemoth obtained the right to exclude coverage of certain contraceptives from its employees’ health plans. In other words, it was good news for conservative Christians with an agenda against contraception, but bad news for female employees whose coverage was put at risk (until the federal government extended the accommodation for non-profits to for-profit companies). In other words, RFRA is a benefit-cost statute—believers benefit while everyone else pays.
The LGBTQ community has been the target and the victim of much of the most recent RFRA activity as the federal model was imported into many states, with a number of states making it even more extreme. The more it has evolved, the less lovely it has appeared.
One of RFRA’s chief defects is that it has created a privileged class that can wield their faith as a sword against others. RFRA’s other chief defect is that it transforms judges into super-legislators by requiring them to consider whether the law being challenged is the “least restrictive means” of achieving the government’s compelling interest for this believer. Courts have embraced this new power with gusto, throwing to the wind the respectful deference of the other branches that was a part of the First Amendment’s free exercise cases. Federal courts now know more than Congress and the President about contraception, more than prison authorities about measures for prison safety involving beard length and hidden contraband and more than the armed forces about military headgear. These RFRA cases in effect reversed the First Amendment decisions in O’Lone v. Estate of Shabazz and Goldman v. Weinberger with nary a nod to the other branches. This is just judicial activism pure and simple.
FADA shares neither RFRA’s universality nor its super strict scrutiny. Rather, FADA would only be good for one set of beliefs, and would replace super strict scrutiny with absolute rights.
How FADA Would Work
FADA creates absolute rights for same-sex marriage opponents. First, there is money. Say a nonprofit runs a soup kitchen and believes that only heterosexuals should marry and have children. If that soup kitchen refuses to feed same-sex couples and families, FADA prohibits the federal government from altering its tax status, disallowing donors’ tax deductions, withholding government funds for soup kitchens, or otherwise diminishing any benefit.
Second, there is accreditation or licensing. Same scenario with a nonprofit soup kitchen turning away same-sex couples and families. The entity can’t lose its accreditation or license for acting in accordance with its beliefs, even if in opposition to the civil rights of the couples and families.
Third, and here is where FADA shares some features of RFRA: (1) the discriminating entity is given a private right of action; (2) the Department of Justice is charged with enforcing this pro-discrimination law against the federal government; (3) the government can be required to pay the discriminating entity’s attorneys fees; and (4) in case a federal court would use common sense and judgment in interpreting the act to find a balance between all those affected, FADA exhorts the courts to interpret it in favor of the believer to the “maximum extent.”
Fourth, unlike RFRA (and its counterpart RLUIPA), under FADA, the discriminating entity need not satisfy any administrative remedies before rushing to federal court.
Finally, and FADA holds this element to the very last line: FADA’s absolute rights can be invoked by not only religious and nonprofit entities, but also by for-profit companies. Therefore, Hobby Lobby could choose not to hire any same-sex couples or to discriminate against them on the basis of wages and benefits.
FADA’s optics are unlike RFRA where members of Congress could hide behind the generic “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” and tout “religious liberty” for everyone without having to ask, know, or care about specific applications of the law. Here, the applications are crystal clear and they are limited to one belief.
To put it into constitutional jargon: FADA is content-based and viewpoint-based. Viewpoint-based laws are subjected to the strictest of scrutiny and presumptively unconstitutional under the First Amendment. FADA’s defenders I assume will argue that it is just another religious accommodation, like the tax-exempt status of religious entities or the exemption for the Native American Church to use peyote. But it isn’t.
It is not like tax exemptions; those are defensible because the federal tax code treats religious and non-religious nonprofits alike. And it is not like the Native American Church exemption for peyote, because that is justified by the federal government on the ground that Native American churches get special treatment due to the separate sovereignty of Native American tribes. Moreover, what is protected by FADA is financial status, not religious observance. Can any of those entities that would choose to embrace FADA credibly argue that receiving federal funds is required by their religious faith? The irony is that for many of the conservative religious organizations opposed to same-sex marriage, there was a time when they eschewed federal funding because it would interfere with their autonomy. Now that they are dependent on federal funds, they have proven their own point.
FADA’s Opponents Should Pay Attention on July 30 to Ensure That the Sneaky Enactment of RFRA in 2000 Does Not Repeat Itself
After RFRA was held unconstitutional in 1997, its supporters lobbied for RFRA II (entitled the Religious Freedom Protection Act). By then, RFRA’s folly was apparent at least to the civil rights, child protection, and land use planning community, so it faced tough going.
Never underestimate the will of legislators pandering to religious entities, however. During the summer of 2000, RFRA’s re-enactment was considered unlikely and hearings were promised for its opponents in September 2000. While RFRA’s opponents left town for the 2000 summer recess, its proponents enacted it in both houses of Congress via “unanimous consent,” i.e., with barely a handful present in each house. Dirty tricks, of course, are a congressional specialty, so no one should be terribly surprised. But RFRA’s opponents were!
FADA has not been an immediate hit across Capitol Hill, so its fate may appear to be unclear, with its sponsors saying they will let it go for now and return to it in September. (Sound familiar?) The conservative Christians who lobbied so hard for the RFRA of 1993 and 2000 (in part to discriminate in housing against LGBTQs), are still in the picture and surely have fond memories of their 2000 coup.
This year, the House goes into recess starting the evening of July 30, and the Senate the evening of August 7. If I were the groups that are lobbying against FADA, e.g., the civil rights and “Nones” groups, I would strongly consider posting folks in the House on July 30 for the entire day. And then again right before the Senate goes out on August 7. Fooled you once, shame on them. Fooled you twice, shame on you.
The Countermoves to Guard Against Discrimination
Unlike RFRA, FADA is not being proposed in a vacuum or echo chamber where the believer is the sole focus. Instead, there is a context: the ones who could be hurt by the believer are clearly identified. To this end, there are two recent developments that protect LGBTQ individuals against discrimination. First, the EEOC ruled that sexual orientation is a category protected under “gender” in civil rights cases. This means the EEOC will be able to file lawsuits against those who discriminate against LGBTQ individuals.
Second, FADA will soon have to compete with the Equality Act, which takes the opposite position and would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in the context of public accommodations, public education, employment, housing, federal funding, jury service, legal protections, and credit.
These developments show FADA for what it is, and it is not a benevolent system to help the needy or the poor. Rather, it is an extreme “religious liberty” bill that violates civil rights. Perhaps Congress can approach it without the mindless feel-good spirit that RFRA engendered as late as 2000. Even more loftily, maybe we can finally think of returning to the actual First Amendment for authentic religious freedom. There has to be a public space where faith cannot be used as a weapon to hurt others.”// In the United States, we as Jews are guests. It is not our home land. But it is so sad. The Native Americans did not believe in LGBT sexuality choices, nor did the Puritans, nor did the Conquistadores. I’m sure Leif Erickson did not either. Lesbian practices, I’ve read, come out of Egypt. They’re not as heinous as homosexual practices (male) but they are a serious transgression of modesty at the least, and male homosexual practices have a severe punishment, as per Torah. The later Romans engaged in homosexuality, within their military. It as not too long until Rome fell, after that point in time. It’s a sign of decay, a sign that a society is on the brink of collapse. What a pity. How freaky. If we even LIVE where this practice is common (let alone have them renting from us, lounging in our restaurants with this motive foremost in their hearts and conversation, etc.) we are, likely, prone to natural disaster. It’s an invitation for another Katrina or Sandy ch”v. Was is Behaalosecho, where, I guess Moshe Rabbeinu, said on Hashem’s behalf for the righteous to stand aside, I think at Taverah, lest He consume them? Maybe another similar incident in Tanach? Something in Korach about the earth opening, and the sons of Korach got lucky and were stuck on a ledge instead of descending whole into the fiery pit? It seems the widespread nature of this LGBT perversion may itself be a sign of other moral decay… the loss of compassion for the needy. When one doesn’t shut one’s door and heart to the truly needy, one doesn’t have time or excess energy to develop these libidinal anomalies! I am wagering that the same physical imbalances and sensations can be spent on caring for orphans, widows, widowers, other bereaved people (I am quaking to mention the Ariels, may the Aibishter have exceedingly great compassion and comfort them), sick people, uneducated people, etc…. and those who have left this world and do not have a natural voice to reach the masses without our help. (The latter refers to the Rebbe, who does appear to some people in their dreams and to some unique types of people in their waking lives, even now, but generally speaking does not talk in a way that our fleishige ears can hear him now, except in an audio or video recording. Thank you so much, Rabbi Oliver, שיחי, for writing about this, and thanks to the staff of groups like Kehot and Sichos in English, who continue to give the Rebbe a voice while he waits in a pillar of light to return to a physically manifest earthly existence that we can witness with our fleishige organs of perception.) If the IDF wants to win in the Holy Land, I really wish they would not celebrate so much the surgery done on their first transsexual. This does not befit a Jewish army. We had victories in the past because our armed forces were straight! This is how we merited miracles in Biblical times! The Meturgaman discouraged not only those who were frightened due to sin, but those whose enthusiasm was dulled by not having consummated a straight (genuine) marriage, the purchase of a home or vineyard, etc. Anyone who is ‘messed up” because they have serious unfinished business in the civilian world can’t fight right and will make the buddies fighting next to him scared also. Messed-up-ness is contagious. Feelings of one person do affect the one standing next to him. I once asked a prominent Chassidic psychiatrist if it’s really safe to attend EA, if the emotional problems aren’t contagious. He said they’re not. I kept attending, but it was often putting a damper on my own feelings for observance, as many people were not only depressed but they were self-condoning things a Jewish person really would not… the method itself is good in a lot of ways, but the contact with others really is depressing, so, likewise, I think just being around LGBT people would be really creepy and if America is going to be like this, I may need to move to a submarine for straight people! About a previous title “Orthodox Judaism Opposes Human Rights”, I don’t see to where LGBT practices are anybody’s right. They are really messing themselves up. They have a right be led out of this personal tragedy, not a right to mess themselves up even more!
B”H Please see Marci Hamilton’s two posts on Justia Verdict, one re. FADA and the other, re. Justice Carlton Reeve’s ruling of a later Mississippi law re. LGBT as unconstitutional. (She is the Public Law chair at Cardozo, the law school of Yeshiva University.) It’s pretty alarming, how outspoken law educators in prominent schools are standing behind LGBT rights to integrate into American society, and how LGBT is equated with those differences that one truly cannot help (i.e. the color of one’s skin, with which one is truly born, or the nationality and religion of one’s parents, etc.) Could we have LGBT people as renters, or restaurant customers without being somewhat affected by their vibes? The IDF does itself no service by emphasizing that they are so advanced and modern that they now have their first transsexual soldier, and doing a story on that one. It was the strictness re. halocho and specifically re. matter of arayot that gave the Jewish armed forces of old their miraculous victories, in Biblical times. This was even to the point of abstinence from the permitted, were it necessary to wage a serious war. How is today’s war not serious? (My condolences to the Ariels and anyone who is a personal friend and family member of theirs… it’s SO horrendous! It’s a SERIOUS war to defend peaceable Jews who are courageous enough to live in our homeland, including women who are not trained soldiers, children, and infants … also to defend soldiers, but I think that is a different point.) If the IDF were truly winning this war, that lovely 13-year old maidel HY”D would have awoken June 30 2016 and had a normal day. Trans-sexuality is more extreme than homosexuality, but they’re on the same continuum. People have tendencies and impulses connected to libidinal preferences. They can choose to use the same tendencies in acts of chesed, as per the directives in “Eilu devarim she’eyn lahem shiur”, activities like caring for the starving, homeless, those who can’t afford clothing, the widows, the orphans, sick people (including LGBT people who need to be healed of LGBT tendencies), and those who have no voice. Most of us (those who are not on the level to have a dream about the Rebbe, or see him in waking life, in the last 22 years) do not experience him as now having a physical voice that can be heard with our physical ears – except what we hear on audios and videos recorded before that time, so thank you, R. Oliver, שיחי, for being his voice and thanks also to the staff of groups like Kehot and Sichos in English, for still being his voice. There are many mitzvos to do with the impulses that wind up expressing themselves in homosexual behavior. Would that someone could lead these individuals by the hand to understanding the etiology of their warped preferences, and to the true and constructive manner in which to express their impulses, which are most likely legitimate, just mis-routed through a sense of compulsion towards the wrong activities. There is no such thing as a human right to practice homosexuality. It is not a right. There’s a human right to be led out of it. Life is a battle. If we are messed up, our buddies next to us are also, and they are discouraged in the battle. The Meturgaman of old discouraged not only the sinners but those who’d not consummated a marriage, or the acquisition of a vineyard, field, or house, from entering battle, lest their lack of wholeheartedness ruin the courage of the soldiers next to them. Likewise, we are affected by the spiritual vibes of those next to us. It’s like second-hand smoke. If I had an establishiment, I would not want these people as regular customers, unless I was qualified as a therapist to solve their problems. A prominent chassidic psychiatrist once told me that EA is safe, depression there is not contagious. That’s true to a degree, if the meeting is led well. But if a person is extremely sensitive, even the very good steps and literature of EA cannot completely clean out the feeling of depression in those meetings… not to belittle EA, I think it’s one of the best tools we have for mood enhancement and stabilization for those who can’t find it in professional care, but there is this feeling and one has to “take the good with the bad” I think. Does that look like a tangent? It is actually related, because, I think, the roots of homosexuality are depression of some sort. Lesbianism was an immodest practice in Egypt… probably an Egypt in the process of decay. Male homosexuality was practiced by Roman soldiers… at a time when Rome was about to fall. The fact this is happening in Western civilization signals deep decay… our society is on the rocks! Thank you R. Oliver for speaking out. When the superficial aspects of Western civilization will have rotted to nothing, Torah will stand.. and the Aibishter will have created a new world… the year 6000 and onward. This was not an official statement of our blog… it was just the only way I could comment, to enter WordPress. I am the volunteer janitor of our organization. Thanks.
B”H Further: I do not think I would send a LGBT person away from my Shabbos table, if they did not have other serious issues, and I hope my husband שיחי would provide a remedy for such a person, but these are limited contacts, and don’t have the import of a tenant or regular restaurant visitor, or a pupil or student or congregant… contacts that can be isolated and don’t have to affect our guests or clientele if we make sure people who would be negatively affected are not there at the same time… it will probably happen eventually and we will have to see how it goes. I am shocked to realize how this idea of so-called “human rights” and “constitutionality” has affected even a law school chairwoman at Yeshiva University. Times like this, I wonder if it would help to sign up for NASA and go on a distant space mission… get off the planet… but not necessarily; my partner on the mission might be LGBT and if I went solo, maybe I would run into an extraterrestrial who is LGBT? Outer space is not Heav’n; Heav’n is metaphysically above, not physically above, although there was a time when the two corresponded (why else was it relevant that Eliyahu HaNovi ascended, and Korach was swallowed by the Earth?). In stories regarding both, I believe, people who were not sinning were advised to stand aside “lest I consume them in an instant”… (here “I” is referring to Hashem), or some similar advice. This is similar to what happened with the fires at Taverah, in Parshat Behaalosecho. Associating with sinners became dangerous. What a favor Mrs. On ben Peles did for her husband, even though it meant she uncovered her hair briefly… first things first! Anyone who wants to be straight on any inyan now, in these last centuries before the latest time for the second Tekufah to begin, who wants to be really straight, will be fighting an uphill battle. It’s ikveisa d’meshichah tzeit, and thank you for fighting that battle. Consequences are not just feeling ucky, or having it written all over your face what kind of person you just met, thus repelling wordlessly any frum person you encounter afterwards… consequences can be receiving a weather message, such as the next tsunami, earthquake, or hurricane, Heav’n forbid. Not just the actions of some violent zealot like the fellow who was so busy being an activist re LGBT that he transgressed Lo Tirtzach 49 times in Orlando, on Yom Rishon of Shavuos, no less! (So happens he was also afterwards reported to have been a misogynist, so he may have been just discharging bad energy.) Even when we are straight and are careful who walks in past our mezuzot, the hurricane can’t tell the difference. My friends Rabbi & Mrs. Eli Goodman שיחיו lost all their material possessions and their waterfront Chabad House on Long Island was totally wrecked, at the same time Atlantic City was being wiped out. Both establishments were rebuilt. Who had to expend more effort and a greater percentage of resources rebuilding, their Chabad House or the casinos? Definitely their Chabad House. But only they knew how to regard it. They came out of the incident happy and grateful to have passed a test. Life is tough and suffering is a ticket to Heav’n… in the next world… but we deal with it. This is what we are here for. Compassion will not mean accepting the behavior… it will mean accepting the pintele Yid, or, in the case of a non-Jew, the Divine image, with which he/she was born or created, with love, while helping them drop their deviant behaviors and feelings… if the love is deep enough, then they will get the message and become straight. How can one reach that deep level of love (this is not about physical touch)? It’s VERY hard. Few people will ever achieve that. Perhaps only deep personal suffering will enable individuals to become capable of helping these LGBT people with that kind of love. The price to pay for helping them will be very expensive. Important things are expensive. Since you have a unique ability to fight the battle with a documented Torah and smicha background I hope your road will be easy, so that you can keep doing it, in the official world.