A response to Rabbi Benny Lau

Rabbi Lau's recent words on LGBT relationships provoked a response by a woman who did not give her real name.

Rachel Ben Ami ,

Flash 90

In recent weeks popular lecturer Rabbi Benny Lau caused an uproar in the National-Religious community when he wrote an article saying that people with LGBTQ leanings should not be rejected by the Orthodox world even if they choose publicly to live with their same-sex spouse and do not try to change their sexual orientation, which is possible in some cases. Rabbi Lau wrote that he does not see a halakhic issue in LGBTQ couples raising childen together.

(Ed. note: In October 2020, Lau published "Couplehood and Relationships for Members of the LGBTQ+ Community." which is not available in English on the webat present, but has been reported on several news sites.)

A woman chose to answer Rabbi Lau anonymously on the Srugim site. A translated version of her article was reposted on Vos Iz Neias and is reposted here with their permission:

“Today I thank G-d that I never met you, Rabbi Lau. You would definitely have told me that I can be Orthodox and still flow with my feelings and leanings which “I was created with.” If I had taken your bad advice, all the wonderful things in my life would never have occurred.

“I read your letter with disgust and a feeling of frustration. I go back in time about 25 years and I see myself as a young, idealistic soldier growing up in Bnei Akiva and believing that she could change the world and contribute to the Jewish world with meaningful army service.

“The beginning of my service was good and meaningful, with maximum motivation and will power I succeeded but unfortunately in time the social atmosphere influenced me more and more. Slowly the religious symbols began to wither away. At the beginning the prayers were shorter, the skirt was exchanged with trousers, keeping kosher became a burden and Shabboses became regular days to have fun…

“Within a few years I was sucked into the central Tel Aviv LGBTQ scene. I became one of them. I got to know famous singers, spent nights at LGBTQ clubs and organized events and parties. I was sure I had found my way and that nothing in the world could change my life.

“All the way along my parents didn’t give up on me and didn’t accept my path. They did continue to love me and accept me in their home but stressed clearly that this is not our way and would not have a good conclusion. My mother read Tehillim with burning tears for years.

“One day, in order to prove that I am open-minded, I agreed to go to a seminar of “Arachim” [1]. The seminar was full of young people thirsting for answers to their questions. After a number of days of lessons, proofs and amazing answers to every question, I slowly began to understand that this is the truth. There is a Creator in the world and the Jewish people is eternal. At the end of the seminar when all hearts were opened, I stood up and admitted that everything I had heard in the last few days was true and I would do Teshuva.

“My mother referred me to a well-known rebbetzin who advised me. I explained to her that I had found the truth and wanted to live a religious life but she needed to understand that I am LGBTQ and I had lived with my girlfriend for a number of years. She looked at me with a loving smile but with the force of thousands of years of tradition, she said that this is impossible. I need to establish a 'Jewish home'. I went outside and looked up to the heavens and realized that I need to choose, like Avraham Avinu, who went on a new and uncharted path. I decided to live my life according to the Torah, despite the huge gap between that knowledge and my present way of life.

“I separated with pain from my girlfriend and began learning in a Baal Teshuva seminary. An amazing thing happened: Slowly the faith and the Torah started peeling away my tendencies, feelings and desires. I married a G-dfearing Talmid Chacham who brought me to a life full of joy and happiness which I could not have imagined possible. I merited bringing sweet children to the world and serving as an emissary of an organization which disseminates Judaism and I influenced tens and maybe hundreds of women.

"Now I am thankful that I did not meet you, Rabbi Lau and did not take your advice that I should flow with my 'tendencies that I was created with.' I would never have met my husband, had children who have a loving mother and father. I would have been desolate like my former friends, most of who are single without families or have a child dividing its time between two divorced mothers. Thank G-d I did not take your bad advice, for all that is dear to me would not have come to fruition.

“Only now I realize that your approach is far from Judaism and contradicts its basic principles. How could you claim that Hashem created someone with an orientation they cannot overcome if Hashem detests it so much? Only a cruel entity would do this. Your logic is wrong.

“Judaism believes in overcoming desires, especially in the sexual realm. This caused the first sins in Bereishis and Bilaam knew that there was nothing G-d despised more than promiscuity, so he tried to cause Israel to stumble in this.

"You, Rabbi Lau, are legitimizing the impure, changing the principles of Judaism and allowing a person to simply claim that these are his tendencies. There is no good or bad in the Torah, everything is according to modern-day considerations.

“I am the proof that you are wrong and you are misguiding the public. I call on you and all those who advise LGBTQ. It is clear that they must be loved and accepted, but heaven forbid that we accept their way. One can still love without changing the principles of Judaism. As long as they are willing to hear, tell them that G-d is not restricted and can 'change nature' but if He does not in their case, they have to keep the Torah commands anyway. We must realize like Avraham Avinu that all the Torah is for our good.”