2/18/2010

Is the real issue homosexuality?

In her article Homophobia reigns supreme, Yael Mishali insinuates that much of the religious public is more bothered by Rav Elon's alleged homosexuality (although in this instance the proper term is probably 'hypersexuality') than about the alleged abuses.

Mishali raises an interesting issue in that one may wonder what the repercussions would or should have been had Rav Elon been discovered to be having an affair with a consenting adult male. I think it would have warranted censure - recall that a prominent yeshiva head lost his job due to an alleged affair with a married woman - given that the position of Rosh Yeshiva obviously implies adherence to the Torah.

Aside from that, though, I believe that Mishali is off the mark. I do not believe (perhaps I'm naive) that the main issue here is Rav Elon's sexual orientation. I would imagine that the response would have been the same had the alleged victims been young women. Furthermore, I would imagine that the nature of the exposure would have been far less, if at all, had Rav Elon been discovered to be gay but not actively engaging in mishkav zakhor. The predatory element of this  affair is far more serious - in the eyes of Takana and in the eyes of the R-Z community - than the sexuality issue. And I believe that this attitude goes right back to TaNakh and Hazal.

As I wrote here, a comparison of the Christian and Jewish views of the sin of Sodom can be very instructive. In the Western/ Christian world, Sodom is associated with sexual deviancy and perversion. Not so in Hazal and TaNakh, where Sodom was characterized as being cruel and indifferent to suffering. Although the narrative of its destruction portrays an attempt to perpetrate sexual violence, Hazal were bothered by the violence more than they were bothered by the sex-qua-sex (see that post for more detail). I believe that the Takana Forum reflected the attitude of Hazal to a tee and should be praised for the outstanding work they've done.
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