Horror, Sadness and Concern

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by Rabbi Moshe Hauer

Jerusalem has been roiling over the gay pride parade that had been scheduled for today – November 10th – with serious fears of violent clashes between parade participants and fervently Orthodox Jews. Like many of you, I have been reading and hearing about this planned event for months, and I have been filled with horror, sadness and concern.

I am horrified that the Holy City of Jerusalem, G-d’s home on this earth, should be the site chosen for a celebration of profound sexual immorality. This horror echoes the feelings of those who witnessed the vicious Titus, who, upon gaining access to the Second Temple that he was about to destroy, took a prostitute with him into the Holy of Holies to perform with her a sinful act over an open Torah scroll (TB Gittin 56b). Who can bear to see such a calculated affront to holiness and not be horrified?! Who can allow this travesty to pass without protest?!

But I am saddened when I recall the words of R. Chayim of Volozhin (Nefesh HaChayim 1:4), who explained that these horrors never occur in a vacuum. Indeed an actively sacred Holy of Holies would never be vulnerable to such an affront. This could not happen were it not for the fact that the location’s holiness was already compromised. And that original compromise came not from Titus and his raucous hordes, but from us, the Jewish keepers of Jerusalem and its Temple, and our less than pure hearts. Were we to invest our hearts with true purity, our holy structures and cities would reflect that sanctity and indeed be impenetrable by such assaults.

I am horrified by anarchic Orthodox Jewish violence, even under such circumstances and with such open provocation. While our rabbinical leadership decries and forbids the violent component of these protests, Orthodox-attired hooligans continue to use the opportunity to misrepresent Torah and its values. The “Israel in whom I (G-d) take pride” (Isaiah 49:3), is the Israel whose interactions are characterized by pleasantness, honesty, kindness and responsibility (TB Yoma 86a). And in a world where fervent religiosity has become so closely identified with anarchy and violence, the acts of these hooligans perpetuate this gross caricature of what it means to fervently live the life of Torah.

But I am saddened because I realize that this too does not arise in a vacuum. That in a community where the values of pleasantness, honesty, kindness and responsibility are front and center, declared and practiced as the sine qua non of religious life, there remains no room for such gross misrepresentation of our faith. Instead, too much of our behavior is neither respected nor beloved. A very recent survey by the Gesher Foundation in Israel – an Orthodox group dedicated to bridge-building amongst Jews in Israel – found that the most disliked group in Israel were the fervently Orthodox. This horrible statistic should move each of us to action, as it cannot be written off as “their issue and not ours”. Evidently we are not living the lives of pleasantness that inspire real respect and admiration. We have left room for the acts of Orthodox-attired hooligans to come to effectively misrepresent our norms, Heaven forbid.

And I am concerned. I am concerned because provocations elicit strong and un-nuanced responses. In the heat of this battle, there will be those who will appropriately express rage and disdain against the exhibitionist celebrants of sexual deviance. But there will be comments and statements that will extend to deride the homosexual nature itself. And I am concerned for the pain that these comments and cries will cause to some of the greatest heroes of the Torah-observant world, the frum (observant) homosexuals. The frum homosexual lives with a homosexual nature, where he or she has no interest in a member of the opposite sex. Yet this individual is valiantly committed to not acting upon this nature, and steadfastly – though not easily – refuses to become an active homosexual.

Although I cannot hazard a guess as to precisely how many, there are a number of such Jews in our community. Their life of commitment to Torah law comes with profound sacrifice, as they are forced to face life with their most basic drive unmet. Their struggle is constant, and can hardly be comprehended by those who do not face that struggle. Their struggle is lonely, as their nature is something they are not able to easily share. And their struggle is often misunderstood by those who would easily categorize someone with such a nature as immoral or uncontrolled. We often misunderstand the sources of this nature, sometimes apparently genetic, and many, many other times caused by trauma, most typically child sexual abuse. This lack of understanding makes their struggle that much deeper, and intensifies their sense of alienation from their community.

A number of years ago Harav Aharon Feldman, current Rosh Hayeshiva (Dean) of the Ner Israel Rabbinical College, published in the Jewish Action magazine a remarkable letter to a homosexual Baal Teshuva. In this letter he wrote:

“Judaism looks negatively at homosexual activity, but not at the homosexual nature. Whatever the source of this nature, whether it is genetic or acquired (the Torah does not express any view on the matter), is immaterial. This nature in no way diminishes or affects the Jewishness of a homosexual. He is as beloved in God’s eyes as any other Jew, and is as responsible as any Jew in all the Mitzvos. He is obligated to achieve life’s goals by directing his life towards spiritual growth, sanctity and perfection of his character — no less than is any other Jew. He will merit the same share in the world to come which every Jew merits, minimally by being the descendant of Avraham Avinu and maximally by totally devoting his life towards the service of God.”

I have had the opportunity to work with several frum Jews with homosexual nature. I have never encountered individual Jews who are as dedicated to sanctity. Their lives are a daily expression of Mesiras Nefesh (self-sacrifice) of the highest form. I admire them greatly. And I am concerned for the pain and alienation that they inevitably feel in these tumultuous days. May Hashem grant them continued strength.

Rambam (Yesodei HaTorah 4:10-11) teaches that there are different types of Chillul Hashem (Desecration of G-d’s Name), and Kiddush Hashem (Sanctification of G-d’s Name):

“One who consciously, and voluntarily engages in forbidden behavior in a manner which is derisive and spiteful has desecrated G-d’s Name.” Today’s exhibitionist celebration of immorality – whether on the Jerusalem streets or in its stadium – certainly qualifies as a tragic and epic desecration of G-d’s Name.

“When a person known to be committed to Torah and piety does things that people disrespect, even if those things are not actual transgressions, he has desecrated G-d’s Name.” The anticipated and actual anarchic violence of those seen as committed to Torah and piety certainly qualifies as a tragic and epic desecration of G-d’s Name.

“One who turns away from sin … for no reason in this world – neither out of fright or fear, nor because of a desire for honor – but only because of the Creator, as Yosef held himself back from his master’s wife, he has sanctified G-d’s Name.” Rambam’s example is fascinating. After all, while Yosef indeed held himself back from Potifar’s wife, only she knew that. To the world, he was a disgraced Hebrew slave who was convicted of immorally taking advantage of her. Nevertheless, his private and unknown restraint, his exercise of self-control that had only one source – profound respect for G-d’s word – became the quintessential Kiddush Hashem.

I wonder if what is keeping our world going – despite the many public and shameful expressions of Chillul Hashem – is the quiet and private spiritual heroism, the hidden Kiddush Hashem accomplished by the quiet and private heroes in our midst. May Hashem indeed grant them continued strength.

Rabbi Hauer is Rav of Bnai Jacob Shaarei Zion Congregation, Baltimore, MD

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35 Responses

  1. Stephen Frug says:

    “Is “killing” O.K. when we need to kill an animal for meat? When we have to defeat Nazi Germany?

    Is “violence” O.K. when we have to defend ourselves from people who want to trample everything we hold dear?”

    Okay, this is easy: yes, because animals aren’t people; yes, because that is self-defense; and no, because attacking a person who hasn’t attacked you is assault, and is immoral. If you disagree with them — which is what this boils down to — fine: protest, speak, denounce. Express yourself. But don’t attack them.

  2. Chareidi Leumi says:

    Sorry hp, many of these violent chareidim are perpetrating extrmeme acts of violence against PEOPLE not “agendas”. Not to mention the sina their actions are generating against all chareidim. It is truly heart-wrenching for me to hear the pure disgust expressed by many DLs, who never felt this way before, toward the chareidi community in general because of the behavior of this ever growing number of maniacs. (The idea that the parade has united the religious camps is pure fantasy.)

  3. hp says:

    “Sinat CHINOM (as exhibited by the violent chareidim). Which aveira has caused the longest Galus???”

    Uh, come again?

    We may not be permitted to hate the sinner in most cases, but to hate the perverted, agenda- driven and aggressive attempt to defile Jerusamem? Sinat CHINAM? Let’s address the issues within the confines of reality.

  4. HILLEL says:

    Here is a Chanukah thought to mull over:

    Rav Elchanan Wasserman, ZT”L, quoted his Rebbe, the Chofetz Chaim, as follows:

    “We are punished, because, when we saw that the Jewish Communists, Jewish Socialists, and all other Jewish secularists declared war on G-D, we should have gone into the streets and fought them hand-to-hand with MeSiras NeFesh, just as the Maccabees fought the Hellenists in the time of the second Bais HaMikDosh.

    “Instead, we were content to merely sit in our homes and synagogues and protest in a comfort–therefore, we lost our opportunity to win the war over the atheists and we are punished for our cowardly behavior.”

  5. Ahron says:

    The tragedy of haredi disengagement from Israeli society looks set to continue, as the mayhem and mob-rule that characterized the socially endorsed pyromania uh, “protests”, are chalked up to “passion” and “devotion to Torah values”. With such a perspective, introspection and progress will be impossible.

  6. Rachel says:

    >>>A very recent survey by the Gesher Foundation in Israel – an Orthodox group dedicated to bridge-building amongst Jews in Israel – found that the most disliked group in Israel were the fervently Orthodox.

    That is incorrect. The study only evaluated which group “felt that they were the most disliked.” Such self perception is less likely to be a result of actual “dislike” and more a result of indoctrination such as “they hate me, so I will have nothing to do with them.”

  7. Steve Brizel says:

    Look at it this way. The now-cancelled parade deliberately targeted Jerusalem because it is Ir HaKodesh and resolutely against the lifestyle that the organizers and supporters of the parade. IMO, the entire frum velt from Charedi to RZ/MO should have engaged in a massive Asifas Tehilim/Tefilah to demonstrate that Yerushalayim Ir HaKodesh isn’t San Francisco, Soho or the West Village. Remember the asifos after the High Court’s anti Charedi decisions and the last round of the Intifada? IMO, they were far more effective in sending a message than in what one self-appointed spokesman for the Charedi street called “civil disobedience”. One can only wonder why we missed the opportunity to engage in a massive Kiddush HaShem. Instead, the media around the world displayed the pictures of the “Charedi street” burning dumpsters, etc, which I tend to doubt caused any enhancement of Kavod Shamayim.

    For some reason,we are not getting across the message that the Torah and Halacha tell us to condemn the sin,not the sinner and that despite our opposition to the lifestyle at issue, the Torah and Halacha demand that we treat all people with illnesses such as HIV/AIDS and that a Jew who R’L who is sick or dies from this disease is entitled to Bikur Cholim, Hespedim and Nichum Aveilim.

    One issue that noone has raised yet is that there are major issues that bear consideration. For instance, until the 1970s, what we now call the “gay lifestyle” was listed in the Diagnostic and Systems Manual ( DSM), the manual for all psychologists as a mental disorder. The gay rights movement lobbied successfully for the elimination of homosexuality as a mental disorder. Today, any mental health professional who will attempt to help a gay person go straight is viewed as homophobic. Obviously, this would run contrary to our belief in free will because such a policy decision means that the APA believes that this desire is something innate to the human being, as opposed to our belief in free will. In the same vein, the documentary “Trembling Before God” can only be seen as a piece of gay rights propaganda-in which there is no discussion with the parents or siblings of the persons depicted and interviews with R A Feldman and R S Riskin largely left on the cutting room floor.

    The other issue is how we as a community understand and react to parades of this nature. It is important to stress that the Torah views such behavior as a Toevah, a very strongly negative term. RYBS wrote that this type of behavior was placed near the Issurei Kilayim because they both represent the failure to stay within the order of HaShem’s Process of Creation. The Talmud also states ( Chulin 92a-b) that one of the reasons for the doom of Mitzrayim was the writing of marriage documents for same-gender relationships. IMO, we have to be able to present our case against the lifestyle in an intelligent, reasoned and emotional manner but not in a way in which we condemn individual Jews or create a Chillul HaShem by ignoring the Psak of Gdolim.

  8. Rabbi Zvi says:

    Bob Miller:

    “Why should Jews, of all people, try to ignore the potency that Item 1., our tefillah has?”

    Stop making sensible points, please. Quoting from our Chachamim doesn’t go over well when one is trying to bring chaos and destruction to the world.

    BTW, where did they get all of those tires and did they pay for them? Its one thing to make a Chillul HaShem, I hope they aren’t guilty of theft as well.

  9. Ploney says:

    Aryeh wrote:
    “Charedim rioting in Yerushalayim don’t threaten anyone even in Yerushalayim.”

    That’s simply not true. Throwing stones at cars is a deadly threat.
    Therefore, the comparison to Arabs is sadly warranted.

    The violence will becomes worse, because that’s what always happens when people resort to violence. Eventually the chilonim will decide they don’t want any thugs throwing stones in the street, and things will escalate. See the recent article in the Jerusalem Post by Jorg Luyken: this time around, the police didn’t actually fight with the stone throwers, but simply came in, let the people throwing stones run away, and then beat up on innocent bystanders, in their brutal third world manner. Eventually though there will be more direct confrontations.

    hp: I partly agree with you, but the same could be said the other way.

  10. Chareidi Leumi says:

    From Hillel, “As soon as the demonstrators stepped into a major street—like Rechov Yaffo—the police attacked—without mercy, beating everyone bloody.”

    This is false.

    Yet another example of Sina being generated by outsiders.

  11. Chareidi Leumi says:

    You people are frightening me. There seems to be a strong sense of justification for the violent behavior by Chareidim, especially from people who don’t even live here!

    It’s very simple folks. We have two aveiros here; Gilui Arayot (as exhibited by the parade) and Sinat Chinom (as exhibited by the violent chareidim). Which aveira has caused the longest Galus???

  12. HILLEL says:

    Boruch and All:

    1. Mishpacha presented both sides of the issue, with a long interview featuring Mk Avrohom Ravitz who opposed the “violence.”

    2. Today’s issue of the Haaretz newspaper in Israel features an op-ed piece by an outraged supporter of the GayPride parade entitled: “Who will examine the Police.”

    The gist of the piece is the accusation that the Police gave broad hints to opponents of the Parade that, if there were enough “violence,” they would have sufficient justification for cancelling the GayParade–fascinating!

    The writer claims that the Hareidim took their cues from the Police, and acted accordingly.

    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/788019.html

  13. Bob Miller says:

    During the lead-in to the cancelled march, Jews against the march tried to stop it by various means, such as:

    1. Tefillah, in private and in public gatherings
    2. Intercession with police and other officials
    3. Posters, ads, radio shows, articles, blogs…
    4. Appeals by sympathetic non-Jewish groups
    5. Setting fire to objects in their own neighborhood, throwing other objects…

    Other tactics, including large-scale passive resistance, would have been tried, too, if the march hadn’t been cancelled.

    It’s presumptuous to say we can have a total understanding of the dynamics of the cancellation, but let’s think a little. Why do so many assume that Item 5., radical street theatre by misguided youth with time on their hands, against the explicit advice of the Gedolim, outweighed the other tactics? Why should Jews, of all people, try to ignore the potency that Item 1., our tefillah has?

    I recall the various declarations by JDL bragging that its activities liberated Soviet Jewry—none of this was ever substantiated! All that bluster and strutting and posturing, but the real work was done by others.

  14. Baruch Horowitz says:

    “Baruch, that’s the difference. You want public sympathy and that’s enough for you…So if you seriously think that there’s a bigger hillul hashem from having some (or even all) liberals (even the shomer shabbos ones and even ones that are in the Agudah) being upset then from having the worst sort of filth flagrantly traipsing through the holy streets of Yerushalaim (the Jewish sector, mind you, not the Arab one) then there’s something fundamentally very wrong with your thinking.”

    I don’t think that there is anything wrong with my thinking, although I have biases, and certainly may be wrong. Worst comes to worst, I am a “centrist” regarding this issue!

    As far as “liberals in Agudah”, I wasn’t aware that there were any :)

    Actually, as I previously said, I don’t think that the point of protesting is only eliciting public sympathy. The point is to express our pain. But as far as being able to stop the parade, ultimately, it is Hashem’s city and it is not for us to tell him if it should be defiled.

    I agree with this quote from Rabbi Lazer Brody:

    ” We have all tried every ploy we know to stop the Impurade. Once we’ve done our best, we should sit back with emuna and let Hashem run the world. Our free choice is to try and stop the parade. Apparently, for Divine reasons that we can’t understand, Hashem is deciding otherwise. Whatever Hashem does is for the very best. Sometimes, Hashem gives the evil rope so they can hang themselves with their own negative choices.”

    I indeed have no idea if it is a bigger chillul Hashem to have homosexuals marching in Yerushalayim(or gathering in a stadium), or the press showing pictures which are pereived by the public as mob riots(burning trash and throwing stones). The Mesilas Yesharim states that chilul Hashem is based on people’s perception.

    As far as the Mesilas Yesharim regarding “daato m’ureves im habrios” not applying to “maseh beheima”, I quote the Netziv in the preface to Bereshis regarding the Avos being Yesharim and even dealing with idolaters and those from Sedom in a civilized manner.

    I have no problem saying that the charedi response on a whole was a kiddush Hashem, but I have one challenge:

    I have a link to a Getty Image photo of three Yeshiva Bachurim, who were not under attack, throwing stones, as well as a picture of a policeman wounded above the eye, being carried away by another policeman and a charedei man. Would the charedi media print these pictures along with the one’s of the demonstrators being beaten? If you do not want to see such images even in the charedi media, and that is understandable, it demonstrates that the charedi response certainly needs improvement, to say the least.

  15. hp says:

    Ploney, I’m not sure who you are addressing, but if you are referring to my post, I specifically noted that it is not my place to determine appropriate reaction to potential defilement of Yerushalayim. I have not, nor do I have the credentials to, put a seal of Kashrut or otherwise on the activities referred to.

    What I did point out was how easily so many posters were able to condemn reactions, whilst they did not let out a cry of their own.
    Holding these demonstrators at arm’s length while offering sage observations…

    If the first part of some of the posts weren’t a reflection of anguished tears at the proposed defilement, if our souls didn’t instinctively react with horror, pain, and frustration, then the desensitization process has worked its Western magic all too well. A haughty comment on the disaffection Charedim may have to political engagement may win American admirers. But the stark absence of a reaction that matches the zealotry of the demonstrators originates from another realm.

  16. Aryeh says:

    “If something is proven to work, we expect to see more of it. You wouldn’t mind seeing street violence to stop the homosexual pride parade or another disengagement. However, other segments of the Israeli population would resort to the same techniques for their own agendas.
    Do you expect Israel to descend into civil war, or would the Palestinians make yet another tactical mistake and show Israelis why they need to be united?”

    Ori–I’m not a prophet, so I’m not sure what to expect. Israel is a very unpredictable place (think Amraam Mitzna running on a platform of unilateral withdrawal and getting smacked at the polls only for it to go through 2 years later). But if the ruling elite continues to ignore the interests of the large sectors of the populations and reject their reasonable demands (e.g. a referendum on the Gaza withdrawal) and at the same time blatantly trample on their homes and values and make them feel that they have no other option, then expect more violence. It is tragic and terrible but what other option does the ruling elite leave to its victims?

    Ploney–I never said (if you read my post) that violence b’etzem is “sacred.” It’s a tool of last resort, no more, no less. As for your comparison to Arabs and it is unwarranted. Arabs rioting in Yerushalayim threatens Israelis everywhere. Charedim rioting in Yerushalayim don’t threaten anyone even in Yerushalayim. Even the anti-religious media hasn’t reported any cries of “yitbach chilonim.”
    “But the more violent the chareidim get, the more marginalized they will be from Israeli society, and it will become more acceptable for the police to use deadly force.”
    Why should they become more violent?

  17. Rabbi Zvi says:

    Rudy Wagner:

    The Torah would not need to forbid something if there was no urge for it.

    Your point is well taken. The author is involved with people who are sensitive to the issue and is trying to bring about a certain level of awareness.

    Baruch Horowitz:

    Well said.

  18. Ploney says:

    I’m rather confused – for those people hear who support the chareidi rioters on principle, which I do not, what about the practical problems?

    I think most people would agree that if these protests had been held by Arabs, burning things and throwing stones at cars in the middle of Jerusalem, some of the rioters would have been killed (ie, October 2000). Currently, it is not acceptable to treat chareidim like that. But the more violent the chareidim get, the more marginalized they will be from Israeli society, and it will become more acceptable for the police to use deadly force.

    So no, there will be no eulogies for kedushas Yerushalayim (assuming you think rioting is sacred), but, G-d forbid, if this trend continues there may well be other eulogies.

  19. Baruch Horowitz says:

    “If you pick up this week’s Mishpacha magazine, you will see a blow-by-blow account of last week’s demonstrations by the BADAT”Z of The Edah HaChareidis.”

    I did not see Mishpacha Magazine, but this would be a good example of what was discussed by a commentator on Rabbi Shafran’s thread(“Classified Information”) regarding the media(in this case charedi)putting its own “spin” on a particular issue. The charedi world can present the side of people who were abused by the police, but there is certainly room for expression of internal cheshbon hanefesh on the riots and frequent actions by Kannoim( independent of the parade issue), and to organize and effectively counter this attitude on a communal level.

    Looking beyond the parade issue, if it is true, that Mishpocha or any other of the charedi periodicals will not accept another opinion on the issue, then as one commentator suggested in the above-mentioned piece, people should form another periodical where they can express themselves and give balance to two sides of an issue. This way, people will no longer need to say that certain issues are “swept under the carpet”.

    The publication should be guided by Rabbonim, not only to prevent “askonim” from having it banned, but also to be guided by Torah wisdom, even when expressing broad and multiple views. The issue is not just balance in media, but for people to feel that they belong in the Torah community, and that their opinions count. This is not necessarily a contradiction to the authority of a broad-based Daas Torah in determining final policy in making communal decisions.

  20. Ploney says:

    Rudy wrote:

    “Why a homosexual urge should be so different to the most common sexual urge of a man (married to a 60 years old woman) to commit adultery with a beautiful 25 years old woman?”

    The answer is quite simple: A homosexual in most cases is unable to ever marry a woman, despite the limited success of some organizations like “Jonah”. I’m not sure how old you are, but do you think that a 60 year old couple is unable to live together??? This is not the forum to elaborate on this topic, but your comparison is obviously not valid.

  21. Ori Pomerantz says:

    Hillel, Aryeh – in other words, the way to change the Israeli government’s policy is through street violence. The ruling elite doesn’t understand anything else. I’d love to say you’re wrong, but the facts on the ground agree with this.

    If something is proven to work, we expect to see more of it. You wouldn’t mind seeing street violence to stop the homosexual pride parade or another disengagement. However, other segments of the Israeli population would resort to the same techniques for their own agendas.

    Do you expect Israel to descend into civil war, or would the Palestinians make yet another tactical mistake and show Israelis why they need to be united?

  22. Aryeh says:

    “Ironically, the “charedi street” has deflected public sympathy from the issue at hand—the defilement of Yeruushalim”
    Baruch, that’s the difference. You want public sympathy and that’s enough for you. Hillel and I want the parade out and if the situation has deteriorated most unfortunately and tragically to a point where the only language that the Israeli State understands is burning trash cans, then so be it. Mesilas Yesharim (ch.5) also says that “daato m’ureves im habrios” doesn’t apply to people who do “maase behama.” So if you seriously think that there’s a bigger hillul hashem from having some (or even all) liberals (even the shomer shabbos ones and even ones that are in the Agudah) being upset then from having the worst sort of filth flagrantly traipsing through the holy streets of Yerushalaim (the Jewish sector, mind you, not the Arab one) then there’s something fundamentally very wrong with your thinking. Again, if violence would be the first and automatic response I would agree with everything you have said. But, they tried the political road and the petitions in the Knesset and the Shmagatz and so on. And they tried non-violent civil disobedience (in Gush Katif). So what else was there to do?
    Understanding for people with abnormal taavos is all good when the people recognize that they’re abnormal and want to be helped. But when they flaunt it and b’davka in a place like Yerushalaim, then there can be no nuances and no understanding.

  23. Aryeh says:

    Yasher Koach, Hillel! A memorable quote comes to mind concerning a similar case. In 1967, when Israel was about to be attacked and instead launched a preemptive attack (to worldwide condemnations), one Israeli politician (I forget whether it was Levi Eshkol or Abba Eban or someone else) said (not an exact quote): “Had we not attacked and perished in return, the world would have shed numerous tears for us and composed beautiful eulogies, but instead we attacked and were condemned.”
    So next year (and if the lesson has not been learned, then the year after that) we won’t be hearing beautiful eulogies on kedushas Yerushalayim.
    On another note, this has provided an example and a model to the settlers how it is possible to stop any further disengagements.

  24. Rudy Wagner says:

    I consider this politically correct attitude towards homosexuality a clear sign of assimilation of American Jewry.

    Why a homosexual urge should be so different to the most common sexual urge of a man (married to a 60 years old woman) to commit adultery with a beautiful 25 years old woman?

    Why don’t you also say as follows? “The frum married man lives with an adulterer nature where he has no interest in a 60 years old member of the opposite sex. Yet this individual is valiantly committed to not acting upon this nature, and steadfastly – though not easily – refuses to become an active adulterer. A great act of Mesiras Nefesh…”.

    If there would be an “Adulterer Pride Parade”, would the author be concerned about the “comments and statements that will extend to deride the adulterer nature itself”?

  25. hp says:

    Hillel, at least one person has not keeled over in “genteel” obesiance to political correctness of tolerance, and detached indignation over our crass, overzealous brothers.

    Whatever your views on the goings on, we should have heard painful, tortured cries over the potential desceration of Yerushalayim, before laying that oh so quiet line of demarcation between sophisticated us and, sniff, violent loving others who just seem to get all carried away.

    I’m not condoning violence as an abstract concept, and it’s not my place to decide on what is appropriate reaction. But Yidden, why didn’t you let out a painful horrified cry, to preface all the aloof and intellectual posting? Is this academia, or your own Yerushalayim?? The reactions of many were very revealing, and no, not revealing of an admirable position regarding violence renunciation.

  26. Baruch Horowitz says:

    “I regard this entire episode as a Kiddush HaShem…”

    We will have to agree to disagree. I am not convinced that all Gedolim view the behavior of the charedi community on a whole in the Gay Pride incident as increasing kvod shomayim. I have seen posters from Rav Elyashiv and Roshei Yeshiva in Kol Torah condemning the behavior of the “charedi street”.

    The dedicated Hasbara experts in Agudath Yisrael and elsewhere, and the charedi press also do not fully concede that the behavior on a whole was a Kiddush Hashem, otherwise, they would show the public the many pictures which Getty Images and others have available of what Yerushalyim looked like. Read a letter in Dr. Abraham Twerski’s “I am I”, by a young Baal Teshuva witnessing the Shabbos protests, and you will see the negative effect that protests have on some people(Dr. Twerski gives a balanced answer to the person on the general issue).

    I know of a young frum girl(not a teen at risk), who when watching a demonstration by a fringe group againt multitudes of Jews gathered in America in honor of Rav Shteinman who said “I don’t feel like being Jewish”. While my reaction to the behavior of the “charedi street”, I hope, is much more mature and nuanced, such behavior does not make me proud of(all)of my community; I am happy that there exists another path in the frum, and hopefully, in the charedi world as well.

    As far as “the proposed Gay Pride Parade through Jerusalem could bring a catastrophe upon the Jews of Eretz Yisroel”, I am also wondering if there is another opinion. Who says that Hashem doesn’t view the burning of trash cans and what is perceived as mob-riots as worse than homosexuals marching? The Mesilas Yesharim says that chilul Hashem is based on perception of people.

    Hashem is a merciful Deity, and if he sees that we are pained by the gays defiling Yerushalyim because we are wearing sackcloth, will he bring a catastrophe, G-d forbid, if Jews don’t burn garbage cans? It is hard for many people to relate to such a Deity. Is it also not “kochi v’otzem Yadi”, to say that we have control whether Hashem will let his city be defiled?

    I agree with those who say that as a community we are responsible to work with Rabbonim to prevent the behavior of hotheads. This will be relevant for the ongoing issues in Ramat Beis Shemesh and elsewhere.

    If indeed Gedolim say “this will not be accepted quietly”, then we need to take responsibility for those who burn trash cans and throw stones. Unless, of course, the charedi community likes the image that it is presenting. However, in the long run, I think that the community will need to look its image in the eye and not deflect responsibility from responsible laypeople working with Gedolim.

    Ironically, the “charedi street” has deflected public sympathy from the issue at hand–the defilement of Yeruushalim.

  27. HILLEL says:

    To All:

    It’s easy and popular to attack “violence,” just as it’s easy and popular to attack “killing.”

    But these are abstractions that have meaning only in a specific context.

    Is “killing” O.K. when we need to kill an animal for meat? When we have to defeat Nazi Germany?

    Is “violence” O.K. when we have to defend ourselves from people who want to trample everything we hold dear?

    If you pick up this week’s Mishpacha magazine, you will see a blow-by-blow account of last week’s demonstrations by the BADAT”Z of The Edah HaChareidis.

    Rav Tuvia Weiss, SHLIT”A, their Rosh Beis-Din, made it crystal clear that the proposed GayPride Parade through Jerusalem could bring a catastrophe upon the Jews of Eretz Yisroel, and that the only way to prevent this catastrophe is to protest loudly, in full view of the public.

    So, the members of the Edah HaChareidis donned sackcloth and organized daily demonstrations to block major streets in Jerusalem. They intended to make it crystal clear that this was not “business as usual,” and that they would not accept this GayParade on the streets of Jerusalem.

    Rav Eliashiv also weighed in with a memorable quote: “Zeh Lo YaVor BeSheKet–this will not be accepted quietly.”

    Each demonstration began with a fiery speech by a prominent Torah authority–like Rav Moshe Sterbuch–who called upon the demonstrators–anywhere from 500-1000 people–to march with MeSiras NeFesh, ready to accept the brutal beatings of the waiting Police, with their horses, firehoses,and truncheons.

    As soon as the demonstrators stepped into a major street–like Rechov Yaffo–the police attacked–without mercy, beating everyone bloody.

    The younger people in the crowd–and in the surrounding areas–then proceeded to fight back against the police. As the mayhem spread, more and more people got involved, and the violence continued almost all night long. this went on, night after night all week long.

    When Jerusalem Police commander Ilan Franco visited Rav Tuvia Weiss, the Rosh BesDin, to ask for a guarantee of no violence, Rav Weiss answered that he could provide no such guarantee.

    –Why did he give such an answer? Because he recognized that, in the end, the Supreme Court, the Attorney General, and the Police, would not call-off the GayParade out of respect for the religious community.

    The only way that they would call-off the GayParade would be in response to superior force. And, indeed, that is what happened.

    An unprecedented coalition of Hareidi Jews–Litvish and Hassidic,–Dati/Leumi Jews, and Muslims united in a plan to create nationwide civil disturbances in Israel on the Friday of the march. This would have invlved a million participants all over Israel.

    The Police declared a state of emergency, and asked the Supreme Court to cancel the march, because they could not control such a large multitude. The Court adamantly refused.

    The Police were forced to mobilize an unprecedented 12,000 officers in Jerusalem, one-third of the entire Israeli Police force. The West bank was left unprotected.

    What finally stopped the Gayparade was a “mistake” by the IDF. They fired a mortar round into a civilian area of Bet HaNoun, and Hamas and the AlAksa brigades vowed to take immediate revenge by halting their cease-fire and attacking Israel.

    This, coupled with the planned nationwide civil disobedience, was the final straw. Even the Supreme Court recognized that this was too much for the Police to handle.

    So, the Police gave Rav Weiss a written agreement that the homosexual celebrants would be locked-up inside the Hebrew University Stadium, and there would be no public march.

    I regard this entire episode as a Kiddush HaShem, in which the Edah HaChareidis and the other groups in the coalition demonstrated their great love and MeSiras NeFesh for HsShem and His Holy City of Jerusalem.

    Family values people all over the world–Christians and Muslims–have expressed their admiration for the dedicated efforts of the Hareid community in Israel.

    To the best of my knowledge, nowhere else have the radical homosexuals been defetaed so decisively.

  28. Bob Miller says:

    People vary and so does their yetzer hara. The counselor needs some understanding of the counseled. Both PC and anti-PC generalizations can be beside the point.

  29. jr says:

    >>>A very recent survey by the Gesher Foundation in Israel – an Orthodox group dedicated to bridge-building amongst Jews in Israel – found that the most disliked group in Israel were the fervently Orthodox.

    That is incorrect. The study only evaluated which group “felt that they were the most disliked.” Such self perception is less likely to be a result of actual “dislike” and more a result of indoctrination such as “they hate me, so I will have nothing to do with them.”

  30. Jewish Observer says:

    “Haredi society considers fire-wielding banditry less treif than political participation”

    How does it stack up to, say, thanking a soldier for his service?

  31. Ahron says:

    The truth is that Israeli Haredi society considers fire-wielding banditry less treif than political participation or social engagement.

  32. Ploney says:

    “And their struggle is often misunderstood by those who would easily categorize someone with such a nature as immoral or uncontrolled. We often misunderstand the sources of this nature, sometimes apparently genetic, and many, many other times caused by trauma, most typically child sexual abuse. This lack of understanding makes their struggle that much deeper, and intensifies their sense of alienation from their community.”

    Sadly, this attitude and misunderstanding is to be found even among mechanchim.

    This recalls another incident at the yeshiva mentioned above. Somehow the subject of R’ Aharon Feldman’s letter about homosexuality came up in a discussion which several talmidim were having with one of the rebbeim. The rebbi said he could not accept that a person could have homosexual urges through no fault of his own, and rather he must be responsible for them, ie, the famous Ramban (?) on how chasing after “normal” taavos leads one to have more degenerate taavos. For some reason this rebbi didn’t want to say that the Ramban was only talking about certain cases, not that all cases of homosexuality stemmed from this cause. He went on to tell us that a bochur had once come to him and told him that he had homosexual desires. The rebbi proudly said that he managed to convince the bochur that he must have brought his homesexual desires on himself by going after other taavos…

  33. Ploney says:

    Baruch: Unfortunately, at the mainstream American-Israeli Yeshiva where I learned, such behavior was constantly condoned and defended at every turn, with teenage rioters being described as kanoi’im who were acting l’shem shamayim; while we were discouraged from emulating their behavior, we were equally discouraged from looking down it.

    So perhaps the answer to your question would be that the Charedi community (both American and Israeli) must first decide that it wants to ostracize such behavior. Incidentally, notice how the syntax doesn’t work – behavior cannot be ostracized, only people can.

  34. Baruch Horowitz says:

    “The anticipated and actual anarchic violence of those seen as committed to Torah and piety certainly qualifies as a tragic and epic desecration of G-d’s Name.”

    I agree. We now have additional hasbara(PR) work to do; the Getty Image photos were titled “Ultra Orthodox Jews” do such and such, and the public does not distinguish between different types of charedim. How does the Israeli Charedi community go about ostracizing such behavior?