Monday, July 7, 2014

10 Questions for Anti-Zionists

[Palestinians Celebrating Kidnapping of 3 Israeli Teens]


1)  Do you or do you not claim that Israel intentionally targets noncombatant Palestinians?

2)  Do you acknowledge that Palestinian leadership admits to encouraging targeted killing of Israeli citizens?

3)  If you answered yes to one and two, do you realize that this means Palestinian leadership is not morally superior to Israel?

4)  Do you deny that Israel gives advance warning to Palestinians via mass text messages and dropped leaflets, before bombing a location?

5) If Israel wants to kill noncombatant Palestinians, why do they give advanced warning before attacking pre-publicized targets?

6) Do you acknowledge that Palestinian terrorists never let Israeli civilians know which bus they are going to blow up, and never give them a chance to get off the bus before they blow it up?

7)  Do you acknowledge that Palestinian missiles are admittedly aimed toward Israeli civilians?

8) If you know Palestinian leadership encourages targeted attacks against noncombatant civilians, how does supporting such leadership not equate to supporting terrorists?

9) Perhaps I've misunderstood you.  Do you or do you not support Palestinian leadership?

10)  If you do not support Palestinian leadership, do you speak out against their ADMITTED murderous methods as much as you speak out against Israel?

[Photo posted on Palestinian Government's FB page in response to 3 Israeli teens kidnapped]

Thursday, June 12, 2014

DO YOU REALLY WANT TO KNOW ME? | The Orthodox Homosexual

*!WARNING!*  If you do not wish to face reality, please! Read no further.



Shalom Haverim yeqarim.

I have long desired to share with you my pre and post conversion experience.  I am no longer able to hold back from sharing my story.  Why have I withheld it thus far?  The matter I will touch on in this post will explain.  It concerns an issue that was unjustly used against me both before and after my conversion.  Therefore, I can truthfully share my conversion experience with you only after first introducing you to this other major aspect of my life:

I am a serious Torah observant Jewish convert, and I’m homosexual.

Now, before you freak out, let me reaffirm to you that I fully embrace the Torah’s 613 commandments as explained by Haz”al, and I’m not excluding Lev. 18:22 from that number.  I neither condone nor engage in anal sex, and I am against the promiscuous lifestyles of gays and straights alike in pop culture.

The following are 10 reasons I’m no longer keeping my homosexuality a secret:

[no particular order]

1) I don’t want to die.  Meeting girl after girl and never feeling the slightest sexual attraction to a single one of them, and then thinking that this is more than likely the way it will be my entire life if I do eventually marry one, was only one of several depressing aspects of this struggle.

Although I’m still very much socially conservative, the norms of social conservatism are not my god.  The most noble aspect of being conservative should be the value of life.  Valuing life means fighting against violence, unnecessary abortion, and poverty, and discouraging lifestyles that lead to emptiness and despair - promiscuous gay pop-culture included; but valuing life also entails being realistic about the homosexual orientation.  I still promote the development of safe therapies for people who are homosexual but desire to be heterosexual, but such therapies, in their current forms, do not work for most people.  A life of celibacy or a one-sided sexual relationship with a heterosexual woman are simply not options for most homosexuals.  More than a few who attempt such paths suffer from a chronic struggle with depression and suicidal thoughts.  More than a few turn those thoughts into action, and that's an understatement.  I do not want to be one of them.  I'm 31 years old now, and this year I suffered from recurrent suicidal impulses one time too many.  Married to a woman or not, I can not continue to 'live' this way.

2) Love your daughters?  Countless people have suggested that I should just get married and that the attraction will develop.  Would you volunteer your daughter to participate in this experiment?  Then why do you suggest others do the same?  What happened to loving your neighbor as yourself?  It is sufficient that numerous people have already attempted this “solution” and admit that the homosexuality remained, and the heterosexual feelings never came.  Marriages are susceptible enough to divorce as is.  We don’t need to add an even greater likelihood of divorce into an unknowing young lady’s life.  This topic is a video in itself.  For now, let me say that our Sages taught that one who does not feel the desire, is exempt from the obligation, but he should be occupied in the study of Torah.

3) Honesty.  My original YouTube name was omedyashar.  The intended meaning was “staying honest,” but it literally means “standing or staying straight.”  It’s from the meaning ‘straight’ that the word yashar can be used for honest, as in upright or straightforward.  So while I may be homosexual, I’m more straight than many heterosexuals.  I can no longer bear trying to hide what I persistently feel, against my will, as though I have something to be ashamed of.  Neither my faith nor reason condemn homosexual orientation.  Even for those who believe in therapy for changing a homosexual into a heterosexual -- the need and even existence of such therapies will not prevail unless the issue of homosexuality is open for discussion in an objective and non-condemning context.

4) Concern for others.  I know discussing this matter will immensely benefit numerous people who suffer in isolation and confusion, as well as enable others to have clearer understanding regarding this issue.  How many Torah observant homosexuals do you know who are willing to speak about this issue?  This is a large part of why I’ve chosen to speak.  If you’re Torah observant and homosexual, you are not alone.

5) Friends.  There is a reason most of my friends have long known about my homosexuality.  Hiding such a huge part of my personal experience from friends makes me feel not only disingenuous toward them, but also distant, not to mention paranoid that they're going to find out.  I know the two are not the same, but if anything, hiding my orientation from friends causes me even more distress than were I to hide my physical gender.  Wouldn’t you feel like you’re hiding a big aspect of who you are if you were to feel coerced into keeping your gender hidden from friends, as though it's something to be ashamed of?  All the more so were you coerced into hiding your orientation.  Imagine the shock on a friend's face if I one day unexpectedly voice my thought that some guy looks incredible. lol.  I’ve just barely caught my tongue one too many times.

6) Shame.  Imagine how you would feel if you constantly heard people refer to your ethnicity as disgusting, and worthy of shame or death, or even just repentence, knowing full well that if they knew the ethnicity about which they speak is your own, they would either cease being your friend or perhaps change their behavior.  Let's get something straight:  You can not repent from a homosexual orientation.  It is not a sin.  It is not even mentioned in the Torah, nor in the words of Haz"al.  Both only discuss specific actions.

Despite the fact that I never embraced pop. gay culture, it still pains me every time I hear someone use the word “gay” as an insult, or talk about “faggots” as though homosexuals are somehow less human, less worthy of respect.  Though it still hurt, I use to excuse this behavior, telling myself that they’re only referring to the promiscuity of gay culture and the disgust of certain activities popularized therein.  Strangely, however, no one uses “straight” as an insult, despite the fact that pop. culture advocates debotury among straights as well.  I eventually realized that these same people typically make no distinction between homosexual orientation and certain dangerous practices found in pop. gay culture.  Eventually I realized that, like it or not, their insults are really directed at me as well, no matter how much I’d prefer to deny it.  If certain ‘friends’ continue to use such terminology even after reading this post, then I’ll know the true insensitive nature of their personalities.

7) False hopes.  I am capable of romantic feelings of affection toward certain men and a very small percentage of women -- a fast heartbeat, blushing, excitedness, euphoria, and emotional longing for the person.  Yet when it comes to my own gender, both the intensity and frequency of such attraction is substantially higher; and only toward men is there physical arousal.  Despite the arousal, I suffer no drive to have intercourse.  Of course, few heterosexuals realize that there are different types of homosexuality.  (Every gay male is supposedly a threat to a heterosexual’s own manliness, as though every gay male is a ‘top.’  Bear in mind, neither now nor in history were all gay males only either active or passive.  There are homosexuals who are neither; and who's to say that these standardized roles aren't to some extent acquired behaviors?  Anonymous surveys in the early 20th century revealed that only around 5% of gay males engaged in anal sex.  Even in current times roughly 20% of gay couples in the U.S. do not engage in anal sex.  And in India, surveys revealed that around 85% of gay Hindus do not engage in anal sex.  The equation of homosexuality with anal sex is more of a fad of modern Western culture than a universal attribute of homosexuality.)  The fact that I am capable of romantic feelings toward certain women has presented me with some false hopes in the past.  More misleading, however, is the fact that by keeping my homosexuality so hidden, I have several times encountered girls whom I am not infatuated with, who are quite clearly infatuated with me.  If they were to know that I am not heterosexual, the fact that I am unattracted to them would be much less painful; certainly better than unintentionally leading them on by continuing to be nice while acting as though I’m oblivious to their feelings.

Under this point of “false hopes” is also the shiddukh delimma.  One of the first things any Jewish person I meet asks is whether I’m married, why not, and that they want to help me find a match (a shiddukh).  They think they are doing a good deed, but by keeping them in the dark by not informing them that their intentions are futile, I inadvertently end up doing a bad dead -- misleading them and stealing their time and the time of the potential girl.  It would be much easier to just tell them “Thank you, but I’m gay.”  And boy would that open the way for a less boring conversation, lol.

8) Stereotypes.  Perhaps one of the greatest reasons I have not wanted to publicly identify as homosexual or “gay,” is due to the stereotypes of gay culture in Western society.  I simply do not identify with pop. gay culture.  But what straight person would deny being heterosexual or straight just because he doesn’t identify with pop. straight culture in the West?  Straight religious Christians, Muslims, and Jews have little in common with normative Western straight culture, but it doesn’t stop them from admitting what they are.  Why should it stop me?  An additional reason for my unease with the term is that I myself have long held many beliefs in gay stereotypes, which I have more recently begun to relinquish.  This is not a denial of the fact that there is some truth in many of the stereotypes, but it is an acknowledgement that there are also many exceptions.

9) Loneliness.  Shame and loneliness are both factors which can lead to a despair so severe that one loses his innate sense of self-preservation.  In my life it is loneliness, coupled with a feeling of being unwanted, that has been the greater culprit than shame in this regard.  Whether I like it or not, even throughout the years of my absolute insistence that I will eventually find the right girl to marry, the one thing I have wanted more than all is a guy-friend who I can share my life with on a very deep emotional and affectionate level.  While in Israel, I had many friends.  The undeniable fact is that any time I would begin befriending someone I found attractive, deep inside I was hoping that this guy would be different.  This guy would care about me greater than any other friend, would be affectionate, and we would commit to being there for each other for the rest of our lives.  There is not a doubt in my mind that, much more likely than not, no matter any amount of therapy, were I to get married, the absence of such a friend would tug at my heart without end.  It would kill my wife emotionally, very likely kill our marriage, and if not dealt with realistically, very likely bring me to kill myself due to unending despair.  I am not referring to lust here.  This has nothing to do with sex.  We are talking about an emotional longing for a substantial relationship with another male that a woman will never be able to fulfill.  Continuing to hide my homosexuality is a tried and true way to ensure that this need will never be met in the most healthy way possible, via an honest monogamous relationship with someone who shares similar values.   Rather, it will end either in my own self-demise or will find shallow fulfillment in an unethical secret liason without the knowledge of my wife, or without the knowledge of another man’s wife.  I prefer to live in the light.  Living in denial of homosexuality makes it more likely that a person will turn to more dangerous methods of dealing with the issue rather than finding a sustainable and healthy mode of living with it.

10) Torah.  Now we get to the good stuff.  It is no secret that even the very topic of homosexuality is virtually taboo in the mainstream Orthodox Jewish world, and this is the biggest part of the problem.  It is also no secret that the Torah forbids intercourse between two men.  No need to remind me.  I’m probably more constantly aware of the prohibition than you the reader.  However, what is less widely known, and in some ways still undetermined, are the parameters of male to male affection allowed by the Torah.  Middle Eastern culture, including the culture of the Biblical Israelites, was far more liberal in male to male affection than most people in the Western world would ever imagine.  Even the New Testament commands that male Christians greet each other with a kiss!  I am not imaging for a moment here that a french kiss was intended, but there is that comment by Rashi about the manner in which Esau kissed Jacob. (Always wondered about that.)  That aside, even a simple kiss on the cheek as is still common in the Middle East is a real question with regard to homosexuality.  Should or should not all the stringencies regarding interaction between a man and a woman also be applied to the homosexual’s interaction with members of his own gender?  A careful reading of the laws concerning the limits of interaction between men and woman will reveal that the intention was only with regard to male interaction with females with whom a male is forbidden to have intercourse; the laws even include exceptions to the rule: his wife in nidda and his daughters.  Males are no where mentioned in the context.  The Sages never mentioned the concept of homosexuality.  Fact is, there is no indication that they were even aware of homosexuality.  They were only aware of the act of anal sex between men, something which was associated more with idol worship and dominance over subjects and conquered leaders in the ancient world, than related to the homosexual orientation.  I understand the logic behind restricting the extent of physical affection between homosexual males, but even reason demands that it can not be to the extent that males in general are restricted toward females.  If it were so, then any male who exposes his hair is in danger of putting a stumbling block before the blind, because homosexual men would not be allowed to see the hair of other men.  If it were so, then homosexual men should avoid hearing the Torah sung, because his ears will be exposed to the sound of the male voice.  If it were so, then all men must wear jackets over their bottoms lest they be guilty of placing a stumbling block before the blind.  Homosexuals should be forbidden from entering into seclusion with any individual of the human race.  They should be forbidden from entering into synagogues, because they can’t be in the men’s section nor in the women’s section, and certainly shouldn’t be put together in their own section!  Rather, even the most sincerely devout Jewish male of homosexual orientation must live his life in total isolation, and not even allow himself to be touched by another human being, since he is forbidden from contact with men and women alike.  It is his lot that he shall never be hugged his entire life, and it is his duty that he be happy with his portion.  Do you honestly think a normal human being can maintain sanity under such circumstances?  It is no surprise that specifically religious homosexuals have a tremendously higher suicide rate than even the population of homosexuals in general.  Not only do they suffer constant anxiety from social pressure, but they must decide for themselves numerous questions of practical halakha that have simply not been discussed in any formal manner, not in the Talmudic literature nor among modern day Jewish legal decisors (posqim).

There is much to be said regarding this topic, and I certainly intend to say more.  My only intention in what I have currently written is to give you an introductory idea as to the complexity of the issue.  I have much more to share, b-ezrath Shadai.  

birkath H' 3alekhem.
Shalom u-verakha :)