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Rights Don’t Make Right

Ohhh please…Rabbi Grossman’s position is a caricature of just the kind of simplistic, clichéd liberal thinking that has got us into this mess to begin with.

Firstly, I just want to be clear: If one haredi lifts up a hand to hurt one Jew in that parade than they will have committed a greater hillul hashem (an action that hides God’s presence) than anything any marcher will have done that day.

That said, my position on the march has nothing to do with rights! The gay-rights march has every right in the world to take place in Jerusalem. BUT AS ANYONE WHO HAS HAD ANY SUCCESSFUL RELATIONSHIP KNOWS, RIGHTS DON’T MAKE RIGHT.


Healthy relationships–and, for that matter, healthy societies and cultures–do not function based on rights but rather understanding, sensitivity, and mutual trust. (By the way, Rabbi Grossman, in terms of rights: Do you support the right of the gay community to be ordained? Do you perform gay marriages? Do you right ketubot (marriage contracts) and give gettim (Jewish religious divorce decrees) for gay marriages and divorces? Do you announce gay couples’ anniversaries from your pulpit? Why shouldn’t the gay community have the “right” to these religious ceremonies?

The truth of the matter is that looking at this issue in terms of rights just gets too sloppy and simplistic.


My problem with the gay-rights march is not the march itself. Personally, as I have argued elsewhere, I believe that the gay community should be given full equal rights and be treated politically and economically in the same way any heterosexual is treated.

What Rabbi Grossman forgets, however, is that this march has taken place a number of times in Jerusalem with little fanfare and debate. The reason for all of the commotion is that this year World Pride was originally scheduled to happen in Jerusalem in August, and that stirred the hornets’ nest. This year’s march was seen by the haredi community as being overly provocative.
Yes, Jerusalem is not owned by haredim–it’s the property of all of Israel’s inhabitants–and there is a limit to what haredim should be allowed to get away with. That said, contra Rabbi Grossman, I have no problem with cafes being open on Shabbat and for that matter with buses running up and down every street in Jerusalem during morning services on Shabbat.


My reasoning is simple: Those things are part of peoples day-to day lives. Having a bus run on Shabbat is not a political statement; it is a statement about wanting to go to the grocery store, or to visit friends and family. A march’s essence is not part of people’s day-to-day lives. It is meant to highlight and accentuate certain groups’ political and social identity. Its purpose is to stake out a position and make people aware of something in a demonstrative manner.

Having a gay march in Jerusalem will not breed one iota of good will between gays and those who oppose them. (Sure, the haredim are pathetic and a danger to the stability of a democratic state…but that’s not a good enough reason to stick a gay-pride parade in their face). The march is unnecessarily provocative, because ultimately it will not prove anything but the strength or weakness of a police force to separate the marchers and protesters.

Just because someone has a right does not mean it is in their best interest to use that right. It’s easy to be right; it’s much harder having a relationship.

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posted November 8, 2006 at 11:26 pm

B”H The essential holiness of Yerushalayim has no relationship to its residents; the Torah claims this city as G-d’s Holy City, where Jews make pilgrimage three times a year and where the Bait HaMikdash stands. Gays may be good, kind sensitive people and no one will debate that. However, the Torah DOES state that male homosexuality is forbidden, in the strongest terms. Why do so many people refuse to recognize this as a critical principle of the Torah? Doing such acts in private are between the sinner (G-d forbid!) and G-d; but when this anti-Torah activity is paraded in public, we are spitting in G-d’s face, Rachmana LiTzlan. I understand that many feel that G-d has Chas V’Shalom abandoned us, but the bottom line is that He hasn’t. He loves us with the greatest love a parent can have for his or her child, and to openly mock His holy Mitzvos is a horrible act, akin to waging war against G-d Himself. Just because we don’t understand why something is forbidden, doesn’t mean G-d doesn’t have a good reason.

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posted November 8, 2006 at 11:54 pm

Well, I think the bottom line now is that this parade is scheduled to go on as planned, so regardless of the many different and passionate opinions people have, it falls on the haredim (and those Israelis who care about democracy) to make a hard decision about how they will react — whether their reaction to an event they despise will be a hillul or kiddush Hashem. I agree with R.Stern that the haredim’s extremism is “not a good enough reason to stick a gay-pride parade in their face,” but I also agree with R.Grossman that they are practicing sinat chinam whether they physically express it or not.

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posted November 9, 2006 at 5:34 pm

Rights and freedom are good things but are rare, historically speaking. Americans are spoiled in thinking that asserting one’s rights will always be a productive enterprise. If the government has the means to support you, that’s one thing. In places like China, it backfires. In Northern California it works pretty well. So Israel is a faceoff between liberal Westerners and Charedim, who are closer to Taliban than anything else. In other words, one must be shrewd when dealing with them. If you have the muscle to smack them down, by all means. But they are tough and crazy and numerous. Thus, a gay parade in Jerusalem isn’t smart. I will say though it is fun to watch charedim get upset, as long as they don’t kill anyone.

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posted November 9, 2006 at 5:37 pm

I am very excited to hear from an Orthodox rabbi who understands that slamming the Torah down people’s throats isn’t going to accomplish much good. I agree that non-relgious Jews should be allowed to live their normal lives on Shabbos, etc. I agree that Charedim are frightening.

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posted November 9, 2006 at 9:30 pm

B”H Haredim like the Taliban? (L’Havdil!)? C’mon, what’s going on here? Please read the difference between a Torah-observant Jew and a Taliban. You’re comparing apples and oranges. Let them make the parade in Greenwich Village. Every Jew, whether observant or not, their soul is affected by this travesty of G-d’s Torah. Unless you’re willing to stamp on the Torah and spit on it (G-d forbid), then at least respect what it has to say. Just like a non-observant Jew may not want Torah “slammed down their throats,” I don’t want what I consider to be an abomination, slammed down my throat. Regards…Yossel

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posted November 10, 2006 at 1:34 am

Actually the haredi are VERY much like the taliban. Both groups want to shove their version of “the true religion” down someone else’s throat. I used to work at a restaurant that had a bar, where many of the Yeshiva boys would go, drink a soda, and watch football(american), or whatever sport was on, and I remember debating with them because for me, the law was not everything, there are ‘spaces” in the law. Torah was meant to be for humans. there is a story that goes to the lines that G-d gave us the torah because we are not perfect…if we were we’d have no need for it. These Yeshiva boys, and by extension the haredi, have an incredible background in the “LAW”, but G-d forbid they need to look at philosophy, or to the softer stuff. Rav kook, when questioned about the fact that many of the jews going to the Holy land at the beginning of the 1900’s were socialists, apploauded their coming, saying that they were doing “holy work” regardless of WHY they were there. That said, Ben Gurion wanted Israel to be like other nations…. just jewish. Then if that’s the case then the haredi should go off and find their own country someplace else if they are not happy, being like everyone else. no other country lets a protion of its ppl who are supposed to have mandatory military service off the hook for no reason….why should the haredi?

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posted November 10, 2006 at 8:20 pm

This is sad that people would even think of dishonor the Sabbath by opening shops and buy and selling on the Sabbath.Dont you learn a lesson from the past.Dishonor the Sabbath and bring HaShem’s judgement opon Israel.Wake up .The Sabbath is a not about what you want but what Hashem wants .HaShem wants us to rest and reflect and connect with Him to keep ourselves from doing what we would do on a any other of the 6 days .Running busses and open shops on the Sabbath make the Sabbath just another day .You should be ashamed.

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posted November 12, 2006 at 6:56 am

well, i see history repeating itself. we do not honor His word & we loose the land given to us over & over & over again. hind-site is not 20-20.

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posted November 16, 2006 at 12:10 am

How in the world can a person be allowed to act in the stead of the Most High and proclaim they have been ordained. When they stay in an unclean abominable state of being. Everyone living in the Holy Land has a reason for being there. Who knows, but I can tell you that the land is for righteous doers of the Torah.It is prophesied many times that the land will have its rest of war and become a peaceful place to live. There is no peace here. But, we sure have war. Think about it. Are contributing your life to peace or war? Some would say both. How does the Most High feel your duty to him should be? Answer!

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