Rav Lichtenstein: Soften Attitude in Dealing With Toeivah


rav-aharon-lichtensteinRav Dr. Aharon Lichtenstein, a senior Religious Zionism rabbi, has said that people with inclinations toward a toeivah lifestyle should not be condemned more than Shabbos desecrators or frauds.

According to Rav Lichtenstein, who is a son-in-law of Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik of Boston, the religious public must rise above its feelings of aversion and soften the “aggressive” attitude towards those who lead a toeivah lifestyle.

Rav Lichtenstein heads the Har Etzion Yeshiva, one of the national-religious public’s most prominent Torah institutions, and is considered one of the leaders of Modern Orthodoxy.

A student of his, Dov Karoll, heard his comments on the treatment of those who lead a toeivah lifestyle in the religious society and published them in his blog.

“To be fairer and more honest with ourselves and with our communities,” Karoll wrote on behalf of rav Lichtenstein, “let us understand that if you deal only with the use of the term ‘to’eivah,’ you can only push that particular envelope as far as you push the cheating on the weights and the measures – so all the revulsion, the moral energy, that you bring against that, you should bring against this, too. That’s not what happens today.”

Rav Lichtenstein addressed the claim that “sodomy” is defined in the Torah as “abomination,” a definition not given to every religious offense, noting that it also applies to the failure to support the poor and to deception in trade.

“I’m not in favor of [toeivah], God forbid,” he clarified. “But we do need to agree to abide by a greater measure of honesty in dealing with that community than I think at present applies.”

He then presented his student with a rhetorical question: “Which is a greater sin – desecration of Shabbos or [toeivah]? Is it appropriate and fair to say to our communities that we have no problem with all of the Jewish people’s sins… but that there is only one scapegoat?”

He further noted that while toeivah is a personal prohibition in the Torah, the failure to give charity is described as a public sin. Therefore, he said, the religious society’s strict treatment of those who lead a toeivah lifestyle.is wrong.

Rav Lichtenstein himself has mixed feelings towards people with inclinations of leading a toeivah lifestyle: “I have a combination of – I wouldn’t say revulsion, that may be too strong a term – I certainly have criticism, disapproval, but tempered with an element of sympathy.”

According to Rav Lichtenstein, those who lead a toeivah lifestyle.are “very unfortunate” people who don’t live a normal life and don’t have biological children, and it is wrong to see them as fully responsible for their inclination.

He added that he had heard from many psychologists that their patients who lead a toeivah lifestyle “would be very happy if they could cure them.”

{Matzav.com Israel News Bureau}