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Introduction... (The first blog post in 2011)...

I am a frum, gay & married male who feels compelled to share. Let me get this out of the way, when I say I am gay ,  I will qualify it...

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Orthodox Rabbis Homosexual Declaration...

Below is the link and text of a "Declaration On The Torah Approach To Homosexuality:". This is supposedly being circulated among top orthodox Rabbi's for signatures and has been signed by R' Shmuel Kamenetsky.

I will post my take in a couple of days. Thank you.


Here is the verbiage from the actual declaration;

Declaration On The Torah Approach To Homosexuality
Societal Developments On Homosexuality
There has been a monumental shift in the secular world’s attitude towards homosexuality over the past few decades. In particular over the past fifteen years there has been a major public campaign to gain acceptance for homosexuality. Legalizing same-sex marriage has become the end goal of the campaign to equate homosexuality with heterosexuality.  A propaganda blitz hasbeen sweeping the world using political tactics to persuade the public about thelegitimacy of homosexuality.The media is rife with negativelabels implying that one is “hateful” or “homophobic” if they do not accept the homosexual lifestyle as legitimate. This political coercion has silenced many into acquiescence. Unfortunately this attitude has seeped into the Torah community and many have become confused or have accepted the media’s portrayal of this issue.

The Torah’s Unequivocal And Eternal Message
The Torah makes a clear statement that homosexuality is not an acceptable lifestyle or a genuine identity by severely prohibiting its conduct. Furthermore, the Torah, ever prescient about negative secular influences, warns us in Vayikra (Leviticus) 20:23 “Do not follow the traditions of the nations that I expel from before you…” Particularly the Torah writes this in regards to homosexuality and other forbidden sexual liaisons.

Same-Sex Attractions Can Be Modified And Healed
From a Torah perspective, the question whether homosexual inclinations and behaviors are changeable is extremely relevant.The concept that G-d created a human being who is unable to find happiness in a loving relationship unless he violates a biblical prohibition is neither plausible nor acceptable.  G-d is loving and merciful. Struggles, and yes, difficult struggles, along with healing and personal growth are part and parcel of this world. Impossible, life long, Torah prohibited situations with no achievable solutions are not. We emphatically reject the notion that a homosexually inclined person cannot overcome his or her inclination and desire. Behaviors are changeable. The Torah does not forbid something which is impossible to avoid. Abandoning people to lifelong loneliness anddespair by denying all hope of overcoming and healing their same-sex attraction is heartlessly cruel. Such an attitude also violates the biblical prohibition in Vayikra
(Leviticus) 19:14 “and you shall not place a stumbling block before the blind.”

The Process Of Healing
The only viable course of action that is consistent with the Torah is therapy and
. The therapy consists of reinforcing the natural gender-identity of the individual by helping him or her understand and repair the emotional wounds that led to its disorientation and weakening, thus enabling the resumption and completion of the individual’s emotional development. Teshuvah is a Torah-mandated, self-motivated process of turning away from any transgression or sin and returning to G-d and one’s spiritual essence. This includes refining and reintegrating the personality and allowing it to grow in a healthy and wholesome manner.These processes are typically facilitated and coordinated with the help of a specially trained counselor or therapist working in conjunction with a qualified spiritual teacher or guide. There is no other practical, Torah-sanctioned solution for this issue.

The Mitzvah Of Love And Compassion
It requires tremendous bravery and fortitude for a person to confront and deal with same-sex attraction. For example a sixteen-year-old who is struggling with this issue may be confused and afraid and not know whomto speak to or what steps to take. We must create an atmosphere where this teenager (or anyone) can speak freely to a parent, rabbi, or mentor and be treated with love and compassion.  Authority figures can then guide same-sex strugglers towards a path of healing and overcoming their inclinations. The key point to remember is that these individuals are primarily innocent victims of childhood emotional wounds. They deserve our full love, support and encouragement in their striving towards healing.  Struggling individuals who seek health and wellness should not be confused with the homosexual movement and their agenda. This distinction is crucial. It reflects the difference between what G-d asks from all of us and what He unambiguously prohibits. We need to do everything in our power to lovingly uplift struggling individuals towards a full and healthy life that is filled with love, joy and the wisdom of the Torah.

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Friday, November 18, 2011

God as a father

I have mentioned before a line that my therapist told me and that is to view God as a loving zeide (grandfather) rather than an abusive father. It is a beautiful thought. As with everything there is a gap between knowledge and implementation.

I want to explore why I find this ideal to be incredibly difficult to implement.

It has been said that out of The 10 Commandments, the first 5 are of a "bein adam l'makom" nature (between man and God). These include belief in God, not to commit idolatry and shabbos. The last 5 have been said to be "bein adam l'chaveiro" (between man and his friend or fellow man). These include, murder, kidnapping, coveting etc.

One of the 10 commandments is honoring your father and mother. On a simple level we might suggest the idea behind this mitzva is very much "bein adam l'chaveiro" (between man and friend). The concept being to give thanks to your parents for giving you life, raising and supporting you.

However, which number commandment is honoring your parents? Number 5. It is part of the "Bein adam l'makom" mitzvos.

The obvious question is why? While one might say it's really God that gives you life and sustains you etc, that would be a cute approach but doesn't seem to lend to the core of the reasoning and placement of this commandment.

I believe I have the correct (albeit painful) approach.

I wonder if the reason God gave us the mitzvah of honoring our parents is because he wanted us to have a human entity that would serve as a platform to allow us to learn how to honor Him. (Please take that in for a moment). Who in our physical existence would be the best "moshol" or parable for us to use as a means to learn to honor Him? Certainly our parents! All we know as a baby, then an adolescent and into child and adulthood is that our parents are our care givers. They are the ones who are supposed to supply security, comfort and love to us. If we learn to honor them we learn to honor God. We can look at this as a mitzva that squarely falls on us as individuals to learn how to perform. With this logic it is almost more incumbent on the parents to teach us to honor them appropriately so that we can live a life of honor, love and respect toward God.

I believe that a persons relationship with God will mirror their relationship with their parents (specifically in my case with my father). A healthy loving, nurturing and mutual respect between a parent and child will lead to the same with Hashem. A difficult and painful relationship with a parent will leave us feeling that God is the same. I recognize that it's not always this black and white and ones situation can fall anywhere between the two extremes.

I challenge you to think about the relationship you have with Hashem and see if it connected with the relationship you had with the parent that had the more profound influence on your life (Think about your partners, close friends as well and I am confident you will perceive the same pattern).

This is undoubtedly my story as well as many of my close friends.

This is why, while I adored my grandfather and would love to see God in that light, it simply is against teva (nature) and is a lifelong battle.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Confronting the God issue

I started this blog for numerous reasons. One of them was the for the therapeutic benefits of putting thoughts into writing. Writing about my feelings and emotions forces me to face the difficulty of actually thinking through the topic I am writing about. It doesn't allow me the ability to distract myself and send my thoughts elsewhere. One topic I haven't confronted but I've been wanting to write about is the issue I have with my "relationship" (or lack thereof) with Hashem. Understanding the irony of the following request, I ask God to help me write this post with clarity so that I can get to the depth of my emotions and bring them to light in a clear manner .

This I know; I have a love-hate relationship with God. I don't have a problem with belief in Him. I have thought this through. I have read books on emunah and books on atheism. I am comfortable and confident in the belief that there is an infinite, all powerful God who created the world. I don't believe that somehow the world came into existence on its own and evolved to where it is today. I know that sounds simple and pedestrian. Creationism and evolution isn't my topic so I will leave it at that.

Once I established in my mind that there is an infinite God (key word is infinite), I then realized that He has no needs. Since He is infinite, he is perfect. The result of His not having any needs is that He doesn't need to prove himself. He cannot do anything out of spite. He can't act irrational. He can't bear a grudge. He can't hate. He can't be angry and lash out. He can't have a bad day or month and create a disaster to make Himself feel better.

From his state of perfection, He created all the poverty, wealth, disease, health, anger, sadness, joy and gladness in the world. He created heterosexuality and homosexuality, bisexuality and transsexualism. That which He gives challenges and difficulties to people can't be malicious. In fact, when we say, "It's all for the best", It's not that we just have faith. If you believe in God, this has to be true. It has to be for the best because there really is no other option.

For me though there is a clear gap between belief and implementation, between knowing and doing.

Based on what I have written, I should understand that my homosexuality is critical to my existence. I need it and it is for the best. I should not be angry with God because he would never have given me this challenge without it being exactly what is perfect for me.

Yet, I am human. I am still angry. There are still many questions; What possible good can come from this loneliness and pain? What exactly does He want from me at this point? Why does this area of my life dominate the very core of my being so powerfully? Why can't I feel good about myself and my personal accomplishments?

I ask myself if I am blaming Him for a self made predicament. I chose to get married and thus far I choose to stay married. I chose to have children. I choose to stay in the closet. Is this all my own doing?

At the same time, at every point in my life in which those decisions were made it all seemed to make sense. I don't know that I could have done any different. Maybe this is all part of the "good"? Is this "all for the best"?

I have no answers. I don't know that I ever will. The questions really make it difficult though to connect with Hashem. It's hard to connect with something that I associate with so much pain.

I still daven and learn every day. I still put keep kosher and shabbos. I do it because I believe it is the correct thing. The problem is that the meaning and beauty of it is gone because I can't break down the barrier that should allow me to use these mitzvos as a means for connection.

I hope this all makes sense. This topic is far from over. I wanted to get some initial thoughts on the table. I hope you can share your thoughts so that I (we) can continue to challenge myself (ourselves) and together we can develop and grow to get some clarity in this area.

Thank you for reading and sharing.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Eshel Shabbaton? The idea scares me...

I have never been in any environment in which I was with a group of people who knew that I was gay, with whom I was able to talk openly about my struggles and inclinations toward men. I have a therapist and a friend (and now a new friend) that share this knowledge, but no one else. As I have mentioned this is a very lonely existence.

I feel I am ready to take a step in the direction of going to a meeting or a group or even a shabbaton.

The idea of going to a shabbaton which is advertised as "A Weekend of Community, Learning and Ruach for Frum Gay Jews" tugs at my heart strings.The idea of meeting up with people in an open forum that would allow me for once in my life to feel open and connected to others that can relate to me, feels like an amazing opportunity that I should take advantage of.

There are technical issues though. I am married with children. I would have to leave town for the shabbos under a different guise to them. Even though one might argue that my life is a lie so why care so much about another lie; ironically as it sounds, I still don't want to lie about where I would be going for shabbos. My thought was to visit my friend in NY and then possibly go together to the Shabbaton.

The second and more scary thing is the idea that I may very well meet people I know that have no idea that I am gay. Now, if they were in the closet then it wouldn't be the biggest deal because we would both be sharing our secret. The problem is that I know people who are out and go to these events. How can I be so sure that they wont let the word out to others that I was there, that I am gay? I am an incredibly successful and well connected person within my community both professionally and socially. I am just beginning this journey into learning about myself and how I want my life to unfold. I still need discretion. If I want to come out at some point, I think it would be fair for me to come out on my own terms and not through some back door gossip that gets to my kids before me.

I am curious for the thoughts of those who have been there and if the fears I mention above are in fact legitimate ones. By going to a shabbaton such as Eshel are you pretty much announcing to the world that you are gay. If you feel it is a problem, any ideas on work arounds or other gatherings that are more discreet?

Thank you.

PS Please see the links below as in the subsequent year I did go to Eshel and had a profound and incredible experience.

Eshel part 1

Eshel Part 2