`275 Rav Moshe Feinstein on Homosexuality
Chananya Weissman

June 26, 2023


In Igros Moshe Even HaEzer 4:113 Rav Moshe Feinstein responded to a question that concerned a husband who, unbeknownst to his wife at the time they married, turned out to be engulfed in homosexual behavior. Could the marriage be annulled due to mekach ta'us (a purchase made under false pretenses), or would the wife require a get (writ of divorce) as is standard?

After a Talmudic analysis, Rav Moshe writes as follows (see here for original Hebrew):

“Regarding the matter at hand, since we find that a great blemish is in essence a mekach ta'us even regarding a woman [who married a man with a great blemish]...it stands to reason that in this case, that the husband is engulfed in lying with other men, which is the greatest of all abominations and the most repulsive, and it is a shameful matter to the entire family, and even more so it would be exceedingly shameful to his wife if her husband prefers this repulsive act of relations in place of lying with his wife – this is certainly a marriage under false pretenses, and it is clear to us that no woman would be pleased to marry a person who is obscene, repulsive, and scornful like this.

“And if immediately when she found out about this she left him, it stands to reason that if it is impossible to obtain a get [writ of divorce] from him, she can be released [from the marriage] from the law of kiddushei ta'us [an erroneous marriage that can be annulled]. However, if it is possible to obtain a get, it is necessary to endeavor however possible to obtain a kosher get, for if he is not engulfed in this [behavior], but it came upon him a certain time due to his evil inclination overpowering him, perhaps it should not be considered a kiddushei ta'us, even though he is a full-fledged wicked person even because of one time [engaging in this behavior]...

“...And if this came from a sort of insanity, being that it is against the ways of nature, it is certainly a blemish, for since it came from a position of insanity, it is likely to lead to other insane behaviors. But in essence [this behavior comes] from a position of wickedness and obscenity, which is also a ta'us [and grounds to annul a marriage].”

The letter is dated 10 Sivan 5738 (June 15, 1978).

Our generation has sunk to such a low level that the following comment will come as a surprise to many people.

Rav Moshe's words about homosexuality are not controversial.

Rav Moshe's portrayal of homosexuality in such harsh terms was not his personal opinion, an “interpretation”, or even a halachic ruling. It is the Torah's plain position on homosexuality from time immemorial. It isn't open to debate, and never was.

The question was not about “accepting” people who “identify” as homosexuals, or accommodating them in the community, let alone embracing and celebrating them. It was about whether this behavior is repulsive to the extent that it is grounds to annul a marriage retroactively without a get, which entails adultery and mamzeirus if one rules incorrectly.

What changed in the 45 years since Rav Moshe wrote these words? Back then even the goyim were ashamed of this behavior and generally regarded it with contempt. It was a slur, a schoolyard insult. Really, what changed? Did the world become a more loving and tolerant place? Are people kinder and more considerate? Has society engaged in mass character development? Unless you live in a very sheltered environment, you would probably agree that just the opposite has occurred. We have not lived through an era of progress, but regress (as well as an era of people calling things the opposite of what they are).

The unlettered masses and rabbinic posers of today, who aren't worthy of cleaning Rav Moshe's floor, are not bigger tzaddikim than Rav Moshe. They did not discover a new insight about treating people properly that Rav Moshe was unaware of. They did not achieve a new understanding of homosexuals that would have changed everything had only Rav Moshe been brought up to speed.

What changed in the last 45 years is that society has sunk to an extremely low level, likely one of the lowest spiritual levels in history. The Jewish people have been greatly influenced by the goyim, and some of the worst goyim at that. Jews who are very distant from the Torah want to be influenced by the goyim, and strive to mimic them – even outdo them – as an escape from being God's chosen people, even a sort of penance. But even Jews who would martyr themselves for the sake of Torah have been poisoned by the spiritual deterioration of the world all around them. Whether they embrace “modernity” or shelter themselves to some degree from it, our collective sensitivity has been greatly eroded.

In many parts of the Orthodox world (or the parts of the Jewish world that refer to themselves as Orthodox) a rabbi who wrote Rav Moshe's words today would not be hireable. Not only would he not be hireable, he would be condemned in the strongest of terms by almost all parts of society, and even his few friends would be afraid to publicly support him.

After all, they have families to feed and children to marry off.

Rav Moshe would be urged by his more moderate and practical rabbinic colleagues to tone it down, keep his views private, stay away from controversy. These cowards in positions of leadership would publicly distance themselves from the Gadol HaDor. They would have excellent excuses: they need to maintain funding for their yeshivas, and preserve their enrollment, and continue to spread Torah, and prevent anti-semitism, and many other reasons the clever, fearful Jewish mind can conjure up to rationalize anything.

In vernacular terms, much of the “Orthodox” Jewish world would throw Rav Moshe under the bus and cancel him like the lowest of criminals or conspiracy theorists if he wrote these words today. And the ones who didn't would nervously keep their distance.

Shame on us. What a disgrace.

In the last 45 years the Jewish world has allowed the dregs of Western society to erode its moral bearings.

“We are not condemning the sinner, but the sin.”

Who came up with that nonsense, anyway? Since when is a person not evaluated based on his actions? Since when does the Torah not condemn sinners? Since when are sins some amorphous concept floating around somewhere that have no meaningful connection to the one who commits them?

“It's fine to be homosexual as long as you don't engage in the act.”

Sure, and it's fine to be a murderer as long as you don't murder anyone, and a thief and an adulterer too. Who wouldn't want to identify as the most repulsive of things so long as he doesn't engage in the repulsive acts associated with this identity?

“It's permitted for two gay people who are deeply in love to shack up together as roommates as long as they don't engage in the act.”

Yeah, right. As Rav Moshe wrote, “he is a full-fledged wicked person even because of one time”. They did it before, and they will do it again.

“We shouldn't care what people do in the privacy of their bedroom.”

Except the Torah does. Very much. Especially when they flaunt it and demand we embrace them in our shuls and communities without so much as a disapproving look.

“Why are you so hung up on this? Are you repressing your own inner homosexual desires?”

You wish.

“Why are you making such a big deal out of this sin, and not, say, cheating in business?”

We should try to rectify all the sins in our society. That said, I don't know of any mass movement by the pork-eating community or the financial fraud community to infiltrate and overtake society, to groom children (after all, unlike the rainbow people, pork-eaters don't have to be creative about reproducing and making it to the next generation), to viciously intimidate and cancel anyone who doesn't surrender to their demand of the week, to work to demonize and criminalize any effort to assist people who want to leave this “community”, and to demand unconditional love (or else) with no regard for even being likable.

Our world is afflicted with many sins, all of which are serious and worthy of being addressed, but the rainbow terrorist movement stands alone for organized moral degeneracy. When God referred to this sin as an abomination, it wasn't a lucky guess.

I don't care if people call me names. I don't care if citing Rav Moshe Feinstein and expounding on his words (again, it's the Torah truth from time immemorial) makes me unhireable or unmarriageable, or even gets me put on some list. Go ahead, put me at the very top of the list. It's still the truth, and a Jew who believes in God and the Torah must stand for it even if he pays a price. Hashem brought us back to Israel to rebuild Jerusalem, not Sodom.

Many people with direct knowledge attest that a high percentage of people with homosexual tendencies are victims of abuse. Those who wish to recover from their wounds, who wish to do teshuva for their sins and live a healthy life in accordance with nature and Hashem's will, will receive nothing but love and support from the Jewish people. All of us have our baggage and struggles, and the door is always open to those who wish to return, up to their very last moment in this world.

However, those who identify as sinners, who are proud to be sinners, who pervert the Torah to define their sin out of existence, who devote their lives to eroding people's sensitivities and preying on children to perpetuate the cycle of abuse – those people have no place in our community, not now, not ever.

As Rav Moshe wrote 45 years ago, they come from a place of wickedness and obscenity. It wasn't controversial then, and it isn't controversial now. It's the straight truth.

The degenerates are waging a war against Hashem, and it will not end well for them. Those in our community who pander to them will share their fate. Those who are silent now will be silent as well before the Heavenly Court.

Either you stand with Rav Moshe, the Torah, and Klal Yisrael, or you stand with those who are waging war against Hashem. There is no middle ground, and you have to pledge allegiance to one or the other.

I made my choice. What's yours?



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