Tuesday, January 23, 2007

On the CJLS tshuvot about Gays and Lesbians

As many of you know, the organization responsible for advising rabbis on Halacha and for issuing "official positions" of the Conservative movement passed a number of tshuvot dealing with Gay and Lesbian issues. There were three, all told that passed-- two by a majority of the committee. The first was authored by Rabbi Joel Roth which re-affirmed the committees position on excluding Gay and Lesbian rabbis from leadership positions and forbidding all homosexual activity.

The second paper that was passed was by Rabbis Dorff, Nevins and Reisner which called for the sanctioning of Homosexual relationships as long as the person identified as a Homosexual unable to change (which, citing vast pyschological research, they believe is the case with the majority of gay men and lesbians). They did not sanction all activities within gay relationships, upholding the biblical prohibitions and read by the Ramban (see the tshuvah for specifics).

Because the Dorff/Nevins/Reisner tshuvah is the more controversial of the two, I decided that we should start with it. In our discussion, we considered different models of halachic decision making. Then we looked at the concept of Kavod Habriyot (human dignity) and looked at the distinction made between laws that are D'rabbanan (from the rabbis) and D'oraita (from the Torah) from Rabbi Roth's book *The Halachic Process: A Systemic Analysis*. Then, we went through the distinction between the Rambam and the Ramban's reading of "drawing near"-- from Lo tikravu ligalot ervah Lev. 18:6. Also how that verse is understood in the Gemara.

Our time ran out before we began to consider whether laws that were d'rabbanan could be overturned and how exactly that is done. We plan to pick up our discussion with: B. The Realm of Humiliation which can be found on p. 10 of their tshuvah. Please stay posted for the date of the next discussion.

The Tshuvah can be found here:

These discussions are for members only, but if anyone has any questions about these tshuvot, of course, please feel free to contact us at BRJC11209@aol.com and we would be happy to assist you in whatever way we can.

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