A clarification of a religious dilemma -by Rabbi Hyim Shafner

It has come to my attention that people whose opinions I highly respect understood my recent blog post “A religious dilemma” to be advocating Jewish communal performance of, or acceptance of, same gender weddings. Such was not my intention as the Talmud and the Halacha forbid homosexual activity and by extention any ceremony which would facilitate such.

10 Responses to A clarification of a religious dilemma -by Rabbi Hyim Shafner

  1. Anonymous says:

    Is this a clarification? It sounds more like a retraction.Your original post left me with no doubt as to your position on lesbian marriages. Please clarify

    • Hyim Shafner says:

      I disagree.   Just because I believe that for some individuals having a partner in life will make them happier and will facilitate a better lived and more observant jewdaism with regard to the rest of the Torah does not mean I think gay marriage performance should be our policy.  

  2. Shachar Ha'amim says:

    Thanks for clarifying this.
    I think that the advocay was pretty self-evident in the original post.
    Also, I think it is pretty obvious that the Chachmei Chazal and Halacha forbid societal recognition of same-gender households and even were such a coupl to claim they could marry and still be within the bounds of halachically acceptable bedroom behavior (or none at all) this would be forbidden. I purposely said Chachmei Chazal and not Talmud as the primary source for this is a Sifra and the context of such Sifra in the Talmud might perhaps indicate that it only deals with bedroom behavior. But the Sifra stands on its own rights and merits as a source of Halacha

    • Hyim Shafner says:

      The Gemara, when i mentions woman to woman sexual activity (nashim misolilot) suggests that perhaps this is an act of sexual immorality and as a result would render the women forbidden to a kohen. The Gemara says no it does not since it is only an act of pritzos. Clearly to the Gemara not equivalent to arayot ( sexual immorality). I know the rambam quotes kimaaseh eretz mitzrayim. That does not take away from the Gemara. I am not saying have a policy of doing jewish gay weddings. I am saying put it all in the right context.

  3. > some individuals having a partner in life will make them happier and will facilitate a better lived and more observant jewdaism

    This betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of Judaism. Yes, in the religion of secular liberalism what makes one happy becomes a positive commandment. Judaism does not work that way. If a gay individuals finds the perfect “partner” and then becomes more observant in his/her daily routine, it is no different than someone who steals the nicest lulav and esrog in town because he doesn’t want to wave around something that’s second best. A perfectly observant life “except” for ignoring a mitzvah or two is not an observant life at all, rather it’s a castle built on sand.
    In short, there is no dilemma here except for those people who really resent the current rules of Judaism and deeply desire that they change to accommodate their personal desires.

  4. Adar Abba says:

    In a previous post about same-sex partners, you wrote: but what if we had a cake at kiddush one Shabbat (albeit a big cake or one with small writing) that said “Mazal Tov on your commitment to each other forever to raise a Jewish family!”?

    While your clarification reiterates that you are opposed to same-sex marriages/weddings, your previous posts on this issue (including the most recent one, published in the StLPost-Dispatch) seem to place you solidly in support of same-sex partnerships. Is that an accurate assessment of your position?

    Furthermore; do you truly believe that your support of same-sex partnerships (‘Mazal Tov on your commitment to each other forever’) does not directly — or at least indirectly — facilitate homosexual activity?

    • Hyim Shafner says:

      What if it was two roommates raising children? Why is this different from that? We do not judge other families (for instance ones in which one spouse is not Jewish or in which the woman is not going to the mikvah) based only on on what is going on the bedroom.

      There is a difference between accepting people into the Orthodox community who are gay and have partners with whom they form a family (and I think we should or else we are saying that if you are gay you do not belong in the Orthodox community- I do not believe that) and saying the Jewish people should have a policy of doing same gender marriages. In my original post and article in the newspaper I made clear that halacha is opposed and that i am committed to halacha.

  5. Gateway Pundit II says:

    I have reread the original post, and noticed the following quote “The time that I knew would come, has come. She met someone she loves, someone she can create a loving, religious Jewish family with which will embody the very best of Orthodox values. Is creating a Jewish home with another woman and raising Jewish children the best thing for Esther’s Jewish life? I believe it is”.

    This is an endorsement of Esther’s lifestyle. You are giving her chizuk to pursue this path.

    What I believe an orthodox Rabbi should say is that while I don’t reject you as a Jew or even as a member of my shul, I can’t endorse this in any way, shape, or form. You won’t be able to sponsor a Kiddush in honour of your anniversary, can’t be an officer of the Shul, and things of that nature.

    Also, I don’t know if Mrs. Ploni Almoni goes to the mikva or not. But if Esther is public with her lesbianism then that I would know.

    Why not tell Esther this is a nisayon, that we all have nisayonos, and you should be encouraging her to pass the nisayon and not fail it. Not necessarily by finding a man, but by resisting the temptation of a woman, or even to keep any relationship with a woman private.

    Sure, it would be very difficult i am sure. However, that is why it is a nisayon. We are all tested on many different levels and I refuse to believe Esther’s tests are any more difficult than your’s, mine, or anyone else’s.

  6. itchiemayer says:

    Garnel wrote “A perfectly observant life “except” for ignoring a mitzvah or two is not an observant life at all, rather it’s a castle built on sand”. I agree.

    There is something wrong with a belief that for anyone, committing a sin will facilitate a better observance of mitzvos. I think that is a dangerous belief. Committing sins pollutes our neshomos, and I don’t know how a Rabbi can possibly advocate that committing a particular sin will help an individual in their observance. Is their some mathematical equation you used to determine that it’s better that Esther commit such a sin of immorality?

    How is this any way to transmit our mesorah?

    This isn’t a case of giving someone a lenient opinion versus a stringent one. This is way, way over the line. Sometimes even a liberal orthodox Rabbi has to tell a congregant something they really don’t want to hear. Right?

  7. y says:

    Rabbi Shafner,

    Your so called “clarification” is insulting to any intelligent person considering your original article which openly condones homosexual unions and relationships is yet on your website. Additionally, must you be reminded that you chose to submit your article in the St. Louis Post Dispatch thus causing a public desecration of our Torah Judaic heritage throughout the entire St Louis region. As you wrote in one of your blogs that you are not concerned with being ostracized by your position; you have indeed ostracized yourself from the mainstream orthodox jewish community – nationally, and surely within the St. Louis orthodox Torah community. As the Talmud teaches us, the only way of correcting a public Chillul Hashem (desecration of G-d’s name) is through a public Kiddush Hashem (sanctification of G-d’s name) and you have yet to undo the terrible spiritual damage you have perpetrated.

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