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  1. Robin H. Kohen -  September 17, 2015 - 5:18 pm

    Just before the start of the Jewish New Year, a new book was published examining homosexuality in Jewish Law, accessible to Jew and Gentile alike, secular and religious, scholar and lay person.

    You may find details at our website:

    The news should kindle new hope in Jewish and homosexual circles and beyond.


    As secular people in the West and more liberal monotheists increasingly bypass what the Bible seems to say about homosexuals, people more faithful to the tradition often do not see such a leeway. They too have increasing sympathy for GLBTQs, but there is also still a lot of hostility, and the friendly faithful lack a religious basis to exonerate homosexuals.

    On Yom Kippur afternoon, verses from Leviticus are read condemning homosexuality. A terrible moment for many a closeted homosexual congregant. Plenty of heterosexual Orthodox Jews also feel this as a terrible embarrassment. What what can be done, as the Torah is considered God’s word, and therefore infallible?

    A new book aims, finally, to solve this contradiction between Orthodox Jewish Law and human rights. Robin H. Kohen and co-authors wrote book with information that should guide both Rabbis and the lay public towards an understanding of the issues involved.

    The encyclopedia respects the integrity of the Bible text and tries to reconcile the way the Rabbis have always read these verses, with the modern existence of homosexual men (as the book focuses on men).

    The authors try to show that the Rabbis always understood this commandment to pertain to what we now call heterosexual men. When homosexuals came to the fore en mass fifty years ago, the Rabbis applied this Halacha to them too, but the authors claim that that was a mistake that needs to be corrected urgently.

    For Halacha, homosexuals were never acknowledged as a distinct group. The book spends 120 out of its 400 pages detailing the total failure of reorientation therapy. This failure paradoxically proves that homosexuals are a clearly marked out group that Jewish Law may distinguish now. The book points out that, sexual orientation, just like TV or electricity, of course, until recently never was mentioned in the Jewish sources, but that does not need to stop the Rabbis now from ruling about these phenomenons.

    The book argues that the adaptation that it suggests was foreshadowed by the Torah, which orders man not to lie with a man “as with a woman.” The Five Books of Moses do not make stipulations for any of the other sexual Prohibitions, so what could this mean? Homosexual men do not lie with men as with women, as women are not on their mind, so this implies, according to the authors, that this Prohibition only fits heterosexual men.

    Lastly, for those who cannot agree with these points, the authors show how a ban on partnership, closeness and sexuality for hundreds of millions of people (Gentile homosexual are included in the Injunction) does not make any sense, conflicts with dozens of core Jewish principles, and clashes with mental and sexological health. They say that the Rabbis must use their ideas because the alternative does not fit Judaism or our moral intuition.

    Even if Orthodox Rabbis would not be ready for such a big change, the authors count on their wives, the Rebbetzins, and the general Jewish public to prepare the atmosphere that might make such an alteration possible. If these changes will take place soon is to be seen. One thing seems clear, though; the speed of normalization of homosexuals in Western countries is unparalleled, so the growing numbers of homosexual Orthodox Jews and homosexuals in general should have every reason to be hopeful.

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