Bein Adam Lchavero

Bein Adam Lchavairo is a blog dealing with interpersonal relations within the Jewish community and the interactions of the Jewish and Gentile worlds. We're new. Be gentle.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Judaism: The Hole Story

(My nom-de-internet notwithstanding, that's not a typo)

It never fails. Any time I make a non-Jewish friend, I can start counting the days untill The Question gets asked. Usually it's a few months into the friendship, after we've established all the boundaries. I can also tell when it's coming by now, because it is almost always prefaced by something like "Hey, you know, there's something I've always wanted to ask about Judaism…"

"Is it true you guys have marital relations through a hole in a sheet?"*


I'm convinced this Urban Legend (hey, it's on Snopes – that makes an official UL, right?) comes from the fact that, traditionally, many Jews are reticent to show even the slightest public displays of affection. It's not that we don't love our spouses, it's that passion is a private thing. Somewhere along the line that became something to be mocked. I don't get that, myself. But then, I'm odd.

What I did not know about this myth was that there are Jews out there who buy into it!

Recently, we were at a Shabbat meal where someone at the table spouted off that Satmar Jews engage in intercourse through a hole in a sheet and wasn't that pathetic.

I was floored (as was just about everyone in the table, including this person's spouse, who proceeded to correct him/her in no uncertain fashion) to hear one of our own uttering an anti-Semitic taking point!

Of course, that was before I started reading Jewish blogs more.

Is it just me, or do a lot of Jewish bloggers have a mad-on for Charedim, Chassidim, and just anyone living a more Yeshivish lifestyle than them?

It interests me that many of us bloggers claim to be liberal, but when it comes to some of our own people choosing to live a lifestyle that we don't agree with. I mean, if we can be open-minded about homosexuality but not about our co-religionists, what does that say about us, as people?

Yes, I took issue with those who are violently protesting the Gay Pride parade. However, that was not meant as a sweeping condemnation of the Charedi community. It was meant to be specific to that very small fringe minority who have taken it upon themselves to ignore the actual Torah and follow their viscera. Such people do not represent Charedim as a whole, thank G-d.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Shabbos and may we be Zocheh to live in a world where Jews don’t make up reasons to hate each other.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

On The Topic of Yesterday's Topic.

The below is an ad taken out by Agudath Israel, the largest Charedie group in the world.

It condemns the violence.

This is exactly how protest should happen folks.

Also, for the record, I just want my readership to know I was not attempting to paint all Charedim with one brush. The people engaging in this riot are a small, vocal minority.

Which doens't excuse their behavior.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Warning. Long, Political-Type Post. May Contain Some Mussar

My name is Typo Lad and I am a bleeding heart liberal.

(Okay, so technically that's my pseudonym, but let's not quibble).

Today being Election Day in the US, I'd like to talk about something that may seem unrelated at first. That’d be the upcoming World Pride Parade in Yerushalayim [Jerusalem], or more specifically, the violent protest surrounding it.

(I can almost hear the "huh?!"s)

Let me start by asking a question of my readers (both of you): what is it about homosexuality that sparks such a violent reaction in so many? Why this one particular aveyrah[sin]? Is it because the Torah uses the stronger term Toeyvah [abomination]? If so, why don't we see the same level of disgust and distaste about other Toeyvot? Are there riots in Israel by Treif sea food eateries? Do disrespectful children get excised from the community? Do we have people making sure that everyone around them keeps Hilchat Niddah [The Laws of Marital Purity] and publicly denouncing them if they don't?

I think we need to be honest with ourselves and say that the issue is not based in Torah, but based in a visceral reaction of "ick". The slightest thought of homosexual intercourse, frankly, grosses many of us out. That's fine. Nothing wrong with that. I'm sure the thought of heterosexual intercourse isn't something a homosexual person finds particularly appealing either. That’d be the point, no? They have a Tayvah [desire] that we do not.

"But," you say "this is different! This isn't a protest of the orientation at all! It's a protest of flaunting an aveyrah in the Holiest City in the world!"

You do have a bit of a point there, my friend, except for the aveyrah part.

(Stop looking at me like that! I didn't say it, Rav Aaron Solveitchick z'l did:

"If you are secure in your Judaism, you don't insult other religions. If you are secure in your Orthodoxy, you don't look down on other Jews. If you are secure in your sexuality, you have no reason to [verbally] attack homosexuals. Homosexual intercourse is against the Torah – Homosexuals are still created in Hashem's image and we should treat them as such."

Being gay isn't an aveyrah. Having homosexual sex is. Before you say one goes hand in hand with the others, know that I have several friends who describe themselves as gay but are chaste because they feel acting on their orientation would be a violation of the Torah.

That said, I will admit that people like my friends are the exception.)

I personally do find the parade to be in poor taste, simply because the goal is to get a reaction from the religious communities of not one, but three religions. I personally feel any parade celebrating who one sleeps with is tacky. I think such things should remain between those in the bed. I would feel the same way about a parade that celebrated heterosexuality, monogamy, or even Hilchat Niddah

That said, the people throwing the parade have every right to do so. The simple fact is, they are not breaking any laws, secularly speaking. It is important to remember that although we chose to live our lives in accordance with the Torah, not everyone does. We do not live in a theocracy, not here or in Midinat Yirael [The State of Israel]. I know that many people refer to the lands outside the Midinah with the sweeping term of galut [Exile], but the simple, sad fact is that even in Midinat Yisrael we are still in galut. As such, we cannot expect the entire world to be shaped by our views.

The solution, of course, is to act in a manner that will hasten the coming of Moshiach. Which is clearly not being done here. I am reminded of a Drasha I once heard in the name of Rav Shlomo Breuer z'l, the Sage of Frankfurt:

Why is it that the length of the galut after the destruction of the first Beit Hamigdash [Great Temple] was known, but we do not know how long the current galut will be for? Rav Breuer answered that the reason was because we knew the reasons for the destruction of the first Beit Hamigdash, but we do not know the reasons why the second Beit Hamigdash was destroyed.

Hold up! Rewind the tape. What does he mean, we don't know the reasons? A schoolchild can tell you the reason why the second Beit Hamigdash was destroyed: Sinat Chinam [Hate for your Fellow]!

Rav Breuer responds that the difference is that when you are worshiping an idol, having intercourse with the family dog, or slitting someone’s throat, (the 3 reasons the first Beit Hamigdash was destroyed), they are active aveyrot. You know darn well what you are doing.

Sinat Chinam is different. We lie to ourselves about it.

“I don't hate him! We’re just palling around!”
“Oh I don't hate him, I hate what he does.”
“I treat him this way to make him a better person.”
“It's okay, they're not Jewish!”
“It's okay, they're not frum!”
“It's okay, they don't daven in my shul!”

We excuse it. We justify it. We tell ourselves that our hatred is Min Hatorah [In accordance with the Torah].

I have heard it said that every generation that does not bring Moshiach is essentially destroying the Beit Hamigdash anew. It seems clear to me that the tactics of these protesters are not in keeping with the Torah and furthermore are not conducive to dealing with the issue they are protesting in any meaningful way.

They do have an option though. You see, even though we are in galut, we have a commandment regarding D'nai D'malchutai Dinah [The Law of the Land is the Law]. While the current forms of protest fly very much in the face of that Halachah, the same Halachah gives those who are dissatisfied an option:


If you don't like the decisions made by your lawmakers, vote. If you feel the leaders of your community are too liberal, vote for someone whose thoughts are more in line with yours (the obviously works the other way too).

We are (hopefully) fortunate to live in lands where the seventh of the Sheva Mitzvot [The Noahide laws] (the creation of a system of courts and laws) is kept by the nation we live in. We are also fortunate that we have the right to vote in those countries.

Despite being in galut we can effect change if we desire it through peaceful means that violate neither Torah Law or Man’s Law.

(There. Told you this was about Election Day!)

May our votes be in keeping with the teachings of our Rabbayim and may we be remember to act in accordance with Halacha in our dealings with other men.