Jewish Ethics

The Root of Homosexuality – Rabbi Zamir Cohen

The Root of the Desire for a Heterosexual Relationship

From the outset, we should establish that the normal desire of a man for a woman, and a woman for a man, does not derive from evil as Catholic Christianity believes — which is why they impose lifetime celibacy upon their priests and popes — but from a person’s desire to find completion. The Talmud informs us (Yevamot 63a) that an unmarried person is not a whole person, as the verse says, “He created them male and female… and called their name Adam.” (Gen. 5:2)

The implication is that both together are called “a man”. A complete human being is a person composed of two parts, one part male and the other part female. It is normal that each half seeks to complete what he/she is missing in his/herself. Each needs the other to complete him in many areas of life — and only when together, can they experience domestic harmony. The Zohar takes this one step further and says that there is no such thing as a female soul or a male soul, but one soul composed of two parts, the male part and the female part.

As with any vital and powerful drive, a person has the ability to choose whether to use this power of attraction to the opposite sex in a positive way — through marriage and by keeping family purity laws, or negatively —  by not marrying and /or not keeping the family purity laws.

Causes for Natural Dispositions

With this background, we can better understand, from a spiritual viewpoint, why some men tend to be attracted to their own kind. Without going into the question of whether this tendency is inherited or acquired, some wrongly view these people are inherently bad. Usually these types of men have a certain docility which causes them to incline to their own kind.

They do not want to marry a woman. They do not feel like most men that the women they are living with is their second half who will help them achieve completion. They subconsciously feel that they lack masculinity, and need another man to supplement their masculinity. Once such a person understands that his natural docility is at the root of his problem, it will be easier for him to find a solution.

First, he has to convince himself that he is in fact a man in every respect, other than his docility. Every day he should mull it over in his mind, especially when his inclination bothers him, until he is convinced of it, and develops a sense of disgust towards forming an unhealthy bond with other men. He should bolster his attitude by considering that all those who indulged in their tendency in their youth, generally found themselves at the age of forty and older shunned by the society among whom they lived (as can be self-understood). They spent the rest of their lives without children, without a family, and without joy of life. The pleasure and satisfaction which they exhibited when they were young gave way to deep pain as they got older.

Homosexuals experience different levels of difficulty. Prof. Alfred Kinsey, an American biologist, who is considered the founder of the sexology discipline in human sciences, proposed a scale of 7 levels to describe sexual attraction, in which level 6 indicates homosexuals who feel an absolute aversion to women.

Most homosexuals do not rank at this level. They can adopt the guidance above and set out on a new path in life which is natural and will bring them happiness. However, even homosexuals who are at level 6, can change their attitude to themselves and inevitably to the female world.

Changing One’s Habits

Changing one’s habit is not easy. That’s why one who is interested in changing should attend ethics and Torah classes which have a refining influence on the participants. He will discover that a natural tendency to gentleness does not contradict masculinity. To the contrary, it is a wonderful virtue which facilitates improving character traits in general, and the qualities of humility, anger and envy in particular. Such a person can reach high spiritual levels more easily than other people who are not as gentle.

At a later stage, when he has absorbed the right attitude and his inner feelings have changed, he should look for an especially gentle woman who will help him feel more like a man. He may feel a sense of aversion towards a less gentle woman.

A gentle woman is more likely to have a better life with this man than with the common male, who is probably too rough for her and too coarse for her needs, as long as he provides all her mental and physical needs like every other husband. However, as long as he has not changed and as long as he still feels repulsed by a woman, he may not deceive a woman and marry her knowing that he is repelled by the natural and Jewish bond with her.

He should beware of unnatural acts which will lock him into his condition and not allow him to free himself and set out on a new, natural and happy life. Being single, he can benefit his inner circle and society more than other people who are preoccupied with supporting their families.

It should be noted that of those who are attracted to their own kind, some do not do so because of inherent docility, but because when they were young, they grew up without limits and led a hedonistic lifestyle.

A life of hedonism can bring one to despise women until they feel utter nausea. As Solomon wisely said: “If you found honey, eat just enough, less you be satiated and vomit.” (Proverbs 25:16). There is a good reason why the numerical value of the word “honey” (dvash) equals the numerical value of the word ´woman´ (isha). One who seeks new physical thrills to excite himself and satisfy his desires, will in the end remain all his life without a warm, loving family and without the hug of his own child. To make things worse, he will suffer a fatal blowback when he matures and sees his long-time friend or friends repulsed by him.

One who realizes that his homosexual tendency came because he grew up without moral limits, should make every effort to keep away from illicit sexual activity, as is to be expected from every Jew. Like the other kind of homosexual, he should regularly attend evening Torah classes that will give him the power to overcome his urges and sanctify himself. After a period like this, he will be born again and will be able to set up a faithful Jewish home based on holiness.

The scientific argument over whether people are born with this tendency, or whether they acquire it due to various reasons, is irrelevant. Even if it is true that he was born with a certain tendency because he tends to be docile, he is no different than someone born with a tendency to be overly compassionate or angry. Each person is born with different tendencies and it is his job in life to rectify himself and his personality by behaving properly.

Keep in mind that the difficulties that a homosexual faces are not greater than the difficulties experienced by one who is oversexed. He too, no less than the homosexual, must watch himself that he doesn’t get swept away by his passions beyond what the Torah permits. A corollary to believing in the Creator of the universe and the Torah, is that there is no Torah commandment beyond man’s ability to keep.

If the Torah commands us to avoid homosexual activity, and in particular if the punishment for one who transgresses this prohibition is among the gravest of all punishments — excision and stoning (see Leviticus 20:13 and  Talmud Sanhedrin 54a) — there is no doubt that a person can stand in this great trial if he so wishes. Apart from the Torah’s grave prohibition (stated twice in Lev. 18:22 and Lev. 20:13), there is a further prohibition of ejecting one’s semen in vain. This is considered tantamount to causing a world deluge since with each ejaculation, he destroys the potential for myriad offspring. (See my book “The Coming Revolution”, for the chapter concerning the Flood.) According to Kabbalah, every such action saddens and depresses the soul, and brings misfortune upon him. [This is hinted by the acronym of the words “ejects his seed in vain” (motzi zera l’vatalah) which spells the wordmazel (luck).]

The Zohar explains that there is nothing that wasn’t hinted to in the Torah, It is amazing that despite the verses in Leviticus not mentioning anything about ejecting one’s semen in vain (it instead emphasizes the grave prohibition of sodomy which includes the act of wasting semen), wasting of seed is hinted to in the verse “seed yielding herbs according to its kind” (Gen. 1:12) whose acronym also spells the word mazel.

This verse hints that one who ejects seed to the same kind is as one who has wasted seed.

Those who try to formalize an unnatural relationship by instituting official gay marriage, making gay parades and the like, are causing serious harm to people who suffer from a minor form of the attraction. The constant drumming of gay propaganda will propel them to a far more severe level of the condition. According to Kabbalah, they are also causing harm to the entire world. The Midrash explains that the generation of the flood were wiped out only because they wrote wedding certificates between males. (Midrash Rabbah, Lev. 23)

A survey published in the United States on September 15, 2005 by an American government agency called the National Center for Health Statistics, asked 12,571 American men and women aged 18-44 whether they are attracted to men, women or both. About 96% of men said they were attracted only or primarily to women, and similar rates of women responded that they are only or mostly attracted to men.

These data indicate that the proportion of homosexuals is approximately 4%, and it is the same for men and women. (See the report in Haaretz dated September 18, 2005 about it.) The media make a big fuss about this tiny minority. The legitimacy they are trying to confer on themselves, may lead those far away from level 6 on the Kinsey scale to advance to a graver degree, even reaching the point where they avoid establishing a family and end up suffering complete isolation in the second half of their lives with the mental anguish of envying others and living a life of misery.

To sum up, instead of insulting those who are different, we should be understanding of their inner impulses, which seem so strange and repulsive to us. We should explain to them calmly and respectfully why they feel this way. This will help them leave the web of confusion concerning whether they will ever be able to establish a warm and loving family, and avoid stumbling in one of the Torah’s severest prohibitions, so deemed by our Creator because He desires that every person achieve perfection through a male and female union.

We will conclude with the words of Professor Yeshayahu Leibowitz’s response to a questioner: “Sodomy is one of the most serious sins and the Torah will never permit it due to it being a person’s nature or evil inclination. In any event, it is no different than desecrating the Sabbath. One who transgresses the Sabbath is liable to stoning – if there are witnesses and he was warned in advance. If he deliberately transgressed the Sabbath but there were no witnesses or prior warning, he is punished with excision. Despite this, one who has violated this serious transgression is still a Jew, and he is obligated to fulfill all the other commandments.

Women Attracted to their Own Sex

We can understand those women who are attracted to other women in the same way as we explained it for men. The principle is the same principle, besides obvious differences. Most girls naturally want to live alongside a man because only in that way will they achieve completion. However, some women feel differently. They have an excess of a certain trait which makes them in some ways similar to a man. There are also powerful and forceful women who have masculine traits. They view a man as a controlling figure or a competitor that they don’t want intruding in their lives. However, most women who are attracted to other women, are in fact delicate and feel aversion to the rough and tough world of men. They view men as too coarse to live with, and in extreme cases, even feel revulsion to them.

In this case, too, the woman must work on herself by contemplating the healthy structure of a normal man-woman relationship, and internalize that she is a woman in every respect, and only a man can help her achieve completion. She must process internally the words of the Zohar that a soul is half male and half female which divided into two before descending to the world. When a man sanctifies a woman under the wedding canopy with a wedding ring and blessings, the two halves join together again at a fundamental level and the person again becomes whole. This will find expression in their life together. Only with a husband at her side, can she found a normal and happy healthy family.

It should be clear that not every man is suitable for a woman who is attracted to her own kind. Between the two above groups of women, who feel very differently from each other, there is another inherent difference.

The first group of powerful women need a sensitive, attentive and loving man; authoritative and decisive when necessary, but not arrogant. He should be a strong mainstay during difficult times, but gives his wife leeway and doesn’t interfere when she doesn’t need his help.

As for the second group, who are extremely gentle, they need a man who is much more gentle than the average man, who is attentive and sensitive to his wife, and who talks gently and amiably with her.

Both a man and a woman who have homosexual tendencies do not have to consign themselves to thinking that they are doomed to spend the rest of their lives without a loving relationship and a normal family like everyone else. Nevertheless, they must realize that the selection of women for such a man, and the selection of men for such a woman, will be far narrower. If for most men and women, approximately 70 out of 100 of all people fall into the category of possible mates (while approximately 30% are too different from them to be compatible), then those with an attraction for their own will find only 35-40% out of 100 compatible.

Wishing you success, Zamir Cohen




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