Here is a letter, signed by Talmidei HaYeshiva - “Students of the Yeshiva”, in response to last week’s historic public conversation at Yeshiva University which featured four gay men, all current students or alumni of that institution. While it may anger some, I think that is actually both ironically funny and a bit sad.
In fact, the comments in this letter makes total sense as the next round in a necessary process, and should be met with only one response: compassion, ironically perhaps, the same compassion with which the four gay alums were met. And here is why it’s both funny and sad:
It’s funny because the cycle, including such letters, is what goes on in every American religious institution (Jewish and Christian, at least) which struggles with this issue. It’ not an Orthodox thing, it’s a human thing.
It’s a bit sad insofar as we seem unable to learn from the experiences of others. But as I write this, I realize that is almost always impossible — like allowing someone else to taste s soup for you and then deciding if you think it needs salt — and therefore nor sad at all. But I can still wish, right? Of course I can, I am wishing for a shorter process in myself.
Anyway, I actually feel for the authors of the letter. To be torn between “sensitivity’ and “halakha”, to feel a gaping hole in what one hopes would be a seamless garment, is painful, embarrassing, and disorienting — hence my reference to meeting the signers with compassion.
The events of last week demonstrate that one can be both compassionate toward those with whom one may disagree and maintain integrity. If we all remember that, and we keep a conversation going which reflects that awareness, this will be a period of time upon which many people will eventually look back with great pride.