I have a colleague. He is a homosexual. I didn’t know for over 15 years. I wasn’t close to him. He was about 10 years younger than me. Several years ago, he “came out of the closet”. I had just merited having our first grandson born, and there were pictures all over my office. He popped his head in one day, and said (like most staff)
“Don’t tell me you’ve had another kid, how many is that now?”
After explaining that despite my youthful countenance, I wasn’t engaged in that particular pursuit any longer, he suddenly volunteered that he had just had a baby as well. I congratulated him. Asking how the birth had been, mentioning that I had no prior inkling that he was expecting a child (so to speak). He nonchalantly stated that he and his husband were ecstatic. Obviously I showed no untoward outward reaction. He was comfortable enough in my responses. After further questioning he seemed happy to engage me in conversation about this personal topic. I even went as far as to ask him how he and his boyfriend/partner decided on which sperm was to be used with the donor egg (that was then carried by a different mother). Did they toss a coin?
Time went by. Pictures of my grandson, and then baruch hashem another grandson were updated on my office wall. He’d pop his head in, and we’d chat about kids, and colds and tempers etc
At no time did I sense that he was uncomfortable with me, despite him knowing that I was visibly Orthodox and (hopefully) acted that way.
Oh, if you are thinking, this is a “you are so special, isaac” story; keep reading.
Recently, he and his so-called husband had another child. He cheekily told me that he was taking maternity leave! I giggled and said that our current boss (very conservative) wouldn’t know what to do with the application, and would probably gag.
Last week he returned from leave, said hi, and as he left my office I started to wonder, whether I was doing the right thing? He told me he had been at a place full of Israelis who were also obtaining babies (not necessarily homosexuals) through this surrogate method, and they had invited him for Pesach, and that he didn’t think much of Maror …
Should a Ben Noach feel that comfortable talking about such things with a frum Yid? Should I feel comfortable simply being civil and non-judgemental? I certainly had nothing against him on a personal level. On the other hand, the act of homosexual sex is abhorrent in the extreme, and I recoil innately at the very thought. There is also the modernistic view which goes hand in hand with the fakers who call themselves “Jewish Tikun Olamniks” that one should never be judgemental.
Perhaps I’ve become too soft cuddly and socially left in my older age, I don’t know. I guess it’s also a symptom of living in two worlds that should be one.
I wonder if I have any Halachic obligation to behave in a particular way here? Is זניפה going to achieve anything?
3 thoughts on “Is this how we should relate to a Ben Noach?”
I trust you will use your discretion if you’ll post this, Isaac:
Isaac, I must say i chuckled at the italicised ‘innately’ as the description of your recoiling. I don’t know if that comment was necessary for this article.
What I can contribute is that this is currently an issue that I have encountered in my life with a Jew – not a ben-Noach. A person I am friendly with who is in a long-term committed homosexual relationship is celebrating the birth of her partner’s baby. I am not friendly with her partner, and the partner delivered the child who is halachically Jewish. So, Mazel Tov, a Jewish baby is born (hopefully with a Jewish father too!). I wish that she should bring all those around her much naches and joy and live a long healthy life of Torah and Mitzvot.
This issue that I am facing, is that I will not acknowledge my acquaintance as this baby’s mother, as she did not give birth to this child, and her status as ‘partner’ to the child’s mother is non-existent in the eyes of Halacha. (I do not know who the biological mother of the child is, and I don’t know how I would feel about this situation if I were to find out that my acquaintance is this child’s biological mother).
My acquaintance is a generous, community-minded individual with lots of loving friends and well-wishers and I know that the baby who has come into her life will be loved by many. I do not think that my refusal to recognise her as the ‘mother’ will impact this child’s life greatly, but something tells me, that this issue will be one that this child will encounter – in some form or other – over and over again in the Jewish community. Especially, if there is an insistence that people recognise a ‘family unit’ that is not in line with Halacha which will cause tension with shules, schools and other organisations.
It was necessary, because I have to admit to being grossly homophobic. When I was at Uni as a PhD student, there was one staff member who made overt passes at me, and I can tell you, that I still had [more] remnants of the Kedusha I gained at Kerem B’Yavneh, and I just automatically just ran for the hills every time I even imagined such a thing in the future.
On the matter of your friend, I don’t know what to say except that there would appear to be very few homosexually inclined people who are able to abstain from their urges. If it is a male, then it’s described by the Torah as Toevah. There is no escaping that. If it is a female, it is Ma’aseh Eretz Mitzrayim.
Unlike a Mechalel Shabbos (even B’farhesyo) the Mechallel Shabbos isn’t changing the basic modus operandi as stipulated by the Torah in terms of the sexual act and its outcome. There can be no acceptance of this phenomenon amongst frum Yidden. The best one can do is be civil and hope that a child born out of such an arrangement assumes the Masoretic norm in the future.
I don’t think much is to be gained by expressing disdain, at the same time “Mazel Tov” rings hollow with me.
Recently, a cousin of mine had a neuvo service at Shira Chadasha. They are family. I should attend in normal circumstances, but there wasn’t a snowflakes hope in hell that I would go anywhere near this form of “Chidush”. That congregation is considered conservative by my Poskim, and my Poskim are not right wing radicals.
It reminds me of the story that occurred with the Rav (Soloveitchik). A boy from a reform family was pressured to attend his brother’s “bar mitzvah service” in a reform temple. He knew it was forbidden, as per the original Gezera of the Chasam Sofer, but his family said they would disown him if he attended. It was a very tense and horrible situation. The Rav advised him a) to daven beforehand in a proper minyan, b) to attend but make it abundantly clear that he was not participating in any way. How? By standing when they all sat. By sitting when they all stood. By never answering Amen, and by making it very clear that he was there not as a religious participant but under false pretences so as not to alienate his parents to the extent that he would lose them forever. One cannot extrapolate from this Psak to other situations. One should always consult their own Rav.
I know it’s cliched by now, but the homosexual is nebach a homosexual. However, as a Jew committed to Mesora, I can’t ever condone the act; it is sinful, and anyone with a genuine fealty to our religion knows that inescapable truth, and cannot will it away. Not even the Shira Chadasha types can do that. Even they must condemn the act as a major sin.
Good luck! I don’t envy you.
In some instances the Torah tells us to be pleasant; in others to rebuke people; in yet others it tells us to be silent. This is the first time that I’ve heard that there’s a mitzva to be passively unpleasant to someone by refusing to let her feel like a parent; or to bob up and down at random intervals in order to silently express your disdain for a prayer service.
Would ebayaddict still “refuse to recognise her as the ‘mother'” if her partner, heaven forfend, passed away? She has a relationship with the child and the child depends on her. She’s no worse than an adoptive parent in that respect, whatever he might think of her domestic arrangements. Her care for the child is a good thing and her warm feelings are commendable.