According to Jewish law, how should a person react to homosexual feelings? Do homosexuals fit into the Jewish community?


To be attracted to the same sex is a natural feeling. If it weren’t natural, Torah wouldn’t talk about it.

Indeed, most practitioners in the field will tell you that all of us experience that attraction to some degree, at some point in life. And some much more than others.

There’s nothing “dirty” or shameful about that feeling. On the contrary, every nature G‑d has created within us is meant to be channeled towards a divine purpose.

That’s what a Jewish life is about—uncovering the divine within all that you encounter, including those things you encounter within yourself.

You are a divine, supernatural soul riding through life within a physical, natural body. You are here to tame the beast that drives that body and to make it just as divine as your essential self. That is the itinerary and destiny of your journey.

How do you navigate that journey? Thank G‑d, we have a Torah that provides a map, given to us by the One who gave us life. It tells us which desires we can embrace and elevate, which longings we can subdue and tame, and which we must reject or re-channel entirely.

The Torah tells us unequivocally that the homosexual act is of that last category. Even if it burns inside for a lifetime, the best thing for you, for your health, and for your ultimate satisfaction in life is to subdue and re-channel that desire.

For many of us, that’s not easy.

I can tell you personally that there are many things in Torah that remain counter-intuitive to me after all these years of attempting to understand. Many times my moral compass feels as though it’s pointing in a different direction.

But I didn’t come into this world as the final arbiter of truth. I came to absorb something higher than me. Even when it’s hard—and it can be real hard.

A good Jewish life demands a lot of hard things. How many of us had to break off deeply attached relationships because the other half wasn’t Jewish? How many had to sacrifice employment or great business deals because of Shabbat or ethical issues?

But, like the Mishnah says, according to the pain is the gain. In this case, for some of the people I’ve known, the gain must be something truly out of this world.

This is all speaking of your own personal journey. What should your attitude be towards others, including those who act upon these desires?

It should be humbling.

Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi writes (in chapter 31 of his classic work of ethics known as the Tanya) that when you see a person who lives a life filled with temptations that you do not experience, you must feel humbled before him.

Why? Because G‑d formed him, G‑d gave him that struggle, and so G‑d certainly must have given him the strength to overcome it. Which means that G‑d is expecting an awesome struggle from this person, an inner battle that would make King Kong versus Godzilla look timid.

And so you, Rabbi Schneur Zalman concludes, have you asked yourself if you are waging a battle to overcome your own faults and bad habits anywhere near the struggle G‑d expects from this person?

It turns out that the greater the struggle, the obsession and the desires, the more awesome the soul that stands before you.

Too many young people have suffered from moral judgment and shame. Too many precious souls have been wasted or even perished before their time. It’s vital that we learn to recognize the human condition for what it is, and strengthen one another in our personal struggles, rather than hide these struggles or belittle them.

So yes, just as we don’t judge a fellow Jew for breaking Shabbat or eating non-kosher, so we don’t judge for the type of sexual life they are practicing and certainly not for the desires they never chose to have in the first place. In all cases, we look deeper, to the divine soul within.

Encourage such people in the good things they are doing. Help them grow in the realms of Jewish practice and spirituality where they wish to grow. Let that soul shine.