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Thursday, August 25, 2011

"Special" Couples, Rav Arele's Solution

My neighbor, Rabbi Arele Harel, made Time Magazine.  The editors consider it very newsworthy that an Orthodox (American term) Rabbi counsels and matchmakes for homosexuals.  No, he doesn't match "same-sex," exactly the opposite.  Rav Arele matches otherwise Torah observant homosexuals with lesbians.

I had been debating about blogging about this because of its "sensationalism."  Recently I spoke to Rav Arele for a couple of minutes about it asking why he hadn't mentioned a very important point in the interviews I had read.  OK I haven't read everything, and of course I don't know what the editors and journalists neglected to include.

Over the years, no,  centuries Probably forever the solution for "what to do with the otherwise Torah observant Jew found in same sex relationships" was to fix him/her up with some innocent Jew from a family that wouldn't be able to easily discover that fact.  So an orphan, or a child of converts or BT's (chozrim b'teshuva-relatively new to Torah observant lives,) or new to the community etc. is "surprisingly" fixed up with a child from a much more miyuchas, connected/elite family.

And they don't live happily ever after...

Rav Arele's solution is much more just and compassionate.  Both the husband and wife know what they're getting into.  Their personal solution as a couple, as a family is based on truth.  This shouldn't be mocked by the satirists.  This should be embraced by the therapists.


Penina Taylor said...

There were a couple of points not mentioned in the video of importance. First of all, the most important thing in a marriage is that you are good friends, NOT that you are physically attracted to each other. Physical attraction is certainly a benefit, but those who understand that love is a choice not a feeling know that there are many heterosexual marriages with no sex for one reason or another.

So if the Rabbi does a good job of matching people who can be friends, that is a great gift.

Secondly, if a gay person is calling themselves orthodox and committed themselves to being torah observant, then in theory they have already committed themselves to not performing homosexual acts since that goes against torah. Therefore, instead of asking them to live the rest of their lives alone in agony over their situation, he has given them a life partner who understands them and cares for them and loves them like a good friend....what a gift!

Hadassa said...

Is there any information on the situation of children in such relationships?

Penina Taylor said...

They said in the video that this is so new the children aren't old enough to have a real idea of the long-term impact.

However, I know plenty of damaged children who are the product of traditional families, so if the match is done well and especially if they are working with a therapist, the results could be very good.

Batya said...

Penina, exactly. As in the book I reviewed, the couple has the same basic goals and values.

Anonymous said...

Pnina you are so wrong. There may be sexless marriages that work or chug along so as not to disrupt the kinder, but that is so far from the Jewish ideal. A marriage should be passionate, as well as a great friendship. A middle aged, frum, frum, frumpy woman told me that sex is just as good now as at the beginning. And that's the way it's supposed to be. Sex is not an added benefit, it's an integral part of the marriage.

People with same sex attractions is a different issue. And maybe such a marriage is better than nothing for them but please don't turn it into something to emulate. And btw they are not a "gay person calling themselves orthodox" but an orthodox Jew with same sex attraction, fundamentally different.

Hadassa said...

No-one is calling this an ideal. These arrangements are an attempt at making the best of a difficult situation.
I don't have a sound card on my laptop (and couldn't get to the desktop) so I didn't watch the video. I'm interested to see how the children fare in such arrangements. Granted plenty of children in traditional families don't have the family that they should, but I'm wondering if the children in these families are going to have something in common that's not healthy; I hope they don't. Time will tell.

Batya said...

Hadassa, if these couples have children, they'll deal with it, no doubt better than in families where the problems are simmering and not dealt with. I'm comparing them to the unfortunate couples living lies and all the pain and stress it causes.