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This book has been acknowledged by leading Orthodox Rabbis as a groundbreaking effort to take into account the influences and impact of modern Western society. The author searches out all opportunities to apply sensitivity and caring while faithfully adhering to Torah Law ("halacha"). It is extensively researched and presents a most appropriate Orthodox response to this issue as it applies to Jews, but in doing so it probes the philosphical, moral, emotional, physiological and psychological dimensions of homosexuality which apply across the board. The book is valuable for arriving at the Torah Law perspective for today's Gentiles as well. The Noahide Commandments are brought into the discussion, and in numerous places the Torah Laws for both Jews and Gentiles are outlined and compared. The author is careful to delineate how the halacha applies for men and how it applies for women. He also includes relevant Chassidic teachings which are essential for full understanding and proper perspective. Some Orthodox critics have rushed to unwarrented criticisms of this book because they did not read it carefully and intelligently enough to understand the author's intricate analysis of homosexuality in the comparison with other Jewish prohibitions of the Torah, and that he does not, in the final analysis, suggest any deviation from established halacha. In particular the author underscores the fact that sensitivity on a personal level does not carry over into the grave phenomenon of factional and organizational attempts to legitimize a gay or lesbian lifestyle to society. The real-life "Questions and Responses" and voluminous footnotes add richness and depth for all readers.
As an Orthodox rabbi, I applaud R. Chaim Rapoport's attention to halachic detail but also his recognition of the human aspect of this issue. With enormous sympathy, R. Rapoport describes the dilemma of the Orthodox Homosexual and tries to offer a religiously and psychologically sound course of action. This book will be THE definitive work on the subject.
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If you are Jewish (no matter what stream)and gay, you ought read this book. You will find much encouragement for yourself, and much "ammunition" with which to educate even your Jewishly well-educated acquaintances.
Anyone who works with Jewish homosexuals -- rabbis, rabbanim, mental health professionals, etc. -- is bound to gain insights and information from this splendid, well-done work.
If you are a *yodei sefer*, you will find that Rav Rapoport has learned the *sugya* well, and teaches it clearly. Reading/learning this *sefer* is simultaneously *limud Torah* and *chesed*.
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This book is an exceptionally well-reasoned argument for the acceptance of homosexual Orthodox men and women withing the Orthodox Jewish community. It does not "buy into any agenda" but rather recognizes what nearly every psychiatrist already knows - that homosexuality is inborn and not an acquired sexual preference.
As for the Torah/Halakhah prohibiting homosexual acts, I would argue that if homosexuality is indeed proven to be inborn, Rabbinic Judaism would need to rethink its assumptions regarding sexuality. The Rabbis of each generation have the ability to interpret the Torah and to set the Halakhah in light of the best understanding of that generation. That is the foundation of all Halakhah. If it becomes clear that the brains of homosexual men and women are in fact wired differently, then we must comes to terms with that fact as reality and our actions and beliefs must reflect reality. We can not and should not distort reality to conform to our understanding of the Torah, but rather understand the Torah in light of reality. The argument that the Torah would not forbid homosexual relations if homosexuality were indeed inborn and immutable, is exactly correct. It would not and therefore does not!
But . . . the difficulty is that it is not actually the dictates of Halakhah that preclude the acceptance of homosexuals within the Orthodox community; it is prejudice. One need only read one of the reviews of this book that appears on this site to understand what I mean. One can argue this issue back and forth, but the sad truth is that many of us refuse to even entertain the idea that our fellow Jews, and Orthodox Jews, are born this way.
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Rapoport has produced a comprehensive study of Judaism and its approach to homosexuality. While full of information and analysis, his conclusions are faulty:
1. Yes, the Torah lists forbids other types of sexual relations, such as with a menstruating woman. However, these relations are not singled out -- as male homosexuality is -- as the cause of societal ruin.
2. There is a very big difference between a married couple that does not follow the laws of family purity and a homosexual couple. For one, the no one can ever know if the laws are being followed in the case of the former, while the transgression is blatant in the case of the latter. More importantly, a man and woman who happen not to follow Jewish law in the these issues have not tampered with the essential concept of marriage. Homosexuals, male and female, do exactly that.
3. It is false to say that therapy is ineffective. JONAH, an organization that specializes in this field, has had many success stories.
4. The prohibition against homosexuality is definitely a mishpat, a rational law, and not a chok. There are many sources in the Talmud and midrashim that speak of the ruin that homosexuality brings to civil order.
5. The use of the principle of tinok shenishba is a pandora's box. We could use this argument to "understand" Jewish pedophile and incest.
I could go on but the point is clear. The writer has bought into the gay rights agenda.