I hate to be the one to ask this, but aren't Jewish lesbians unorthodox by nature? I mean to say; isn't "Orthodox Jewish Lesbian" a self contained oxymoron of sorts? I have always found it amusing when people cling to a belief system that, in doctrine and deed, rejects them. I should predicate that I am not, in fact, well versed with the Torah nor am I current on my Orthodox Jewish law but that I have read the Old Testament several times over. While it is still a point of debate, most religions who observe the Old Testament tend to shun homosexuality openly due to the anti-homosexual sentiments to be found within the book.
For those who are not aware what being an Orthodox Jew entails; they are extremely conservative and adamant in observing all of the laws of Orthodox Judaism, letter perfect. That in mind, observing the extremely likely probability that they feel homosexuality is a sin* and that Orthodox Judaism isn't only a religion but a society and way of life; I fail to see how this type of activity would be plausible within that community.


*I am not completely sure on that one but it does say it in the Old Testament, then again, this is the same book that tells you that if anyone asks you to join a "false religion", you are to kill them with your own hand (Deuteronomy 13:6-11 (King James)) and that If your children are rebellious, you should kill them too (Deuteronomy 21:18-21)... :P
So the Old Testament never actually makes any comment about lesbianism. All the comments against homosexuality are directed towards men, specifically Leviticus 20:13:

"If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death; there blood is upon them."

So technically (and strict orthodoxs tend to be big on technicalities) there is nothing wrong with a Orthodox Jewish Lesbian. So in this case following the letter of the law (that it would only apply to men with men) makes for a more permissive law then reading deeper into the rule from which you could generalize to both types of same sex couples. Granted it is possible that a lesbian couple would risk violating one of the many other rules on sexual behavior, but lesbianism itself would not be the problem. (One possible problem is that a lesbian couple would not create children directly from their union.)

Homosexuality is not a sin in Judaism, for the simple reason that it is not acknowledged anywhere in Jewish texts as the social and psychological phenomenon modern society knows it to be.

What makes practical homosexuality impossible for men are the above-mentioned prohibition on spilling the seed, as well as the age long taboo on sodomy.

As for women, well, it's not strictly speaking a mortal sin (there's no mortal sin in Judaism, kids, I'm being annoyingly ironic) for two women to snog each other, but there are mentions (in texts later than the OT) of the undesirability of oral contact with the vagina, or mutual masturbation. Since It's Not In The Bible, however, I suppose you could get around that one.

As for the original question about marital purity laws - why would two women observe them, anyway? They only apply to male/female contact - there's no problem with women touching women during menstruation, after all. Come to think about it, there's no problem with women touching men, either - it's the other way around. I'd say Deborah909's friends were being overzealous.

There is no Scriptural Prohibition against lesbianism in the Torah, but there is definitely a law against it. The sin is not the same as gay relations, and in fact is a much lesser sin, but it is still against the Orthodox Jewish Laws.

The Talmud quite clearly lays out what the guidelines for sexual intimacy are, and the fact that it is not between a man and a women quite clearly places it in the realm of forbidden acts. It is listed specifically as a sin that receives Makkos, or Lashes. This places it in the same category (in terms of punishment) as intimacy before marriage (such as kissing a member of the opposite sex) or plowing in a graveyard (planting crops over bodies is discouraged). Obviously these are not "top-tier" sins, but they are not negligible either.

The most important idea in Judaism pertaining to this issue is the concept (that Christianity stole intact) of hating the sin, but loving the sinner. Obviously, everybody sins, and it is ridiculous to say that lesbians should be stigmatized any more than teenagers that are caught making out somewhere, but unfortunately, people are jerks, and societal mores have influenced the degree of stigmatization that a particular sin has.

Of course, it seems just as ridiculous to say that anybody who did a sin shouild publically identify themselves as such. No normal person would stand up in a crowd and say "I plowed up a graveyard, and I feel that it is OK, because I observe the rest of the Jewish laws really well." But it seems that Orthodox Jewish Lesbians do just this! If you want to acknowledge the philosophy of Orthodox Judaism, which includes the ideal of living by the laws that Jews have observed for at least the last 2000 years, you cannot be honest with yourself and still say that "just this sin is ok," because you can't always get what you want, and accepting a philosophy is not a piece by piece propostion.

I personally am ashamed if I ever yell at someone, or talk gossip about them, because I acknowledge that it is wrong. I'm not self-hating, or inconsistent because I commit sins, but I'm not marching in a "I'm not so good at keeping commandments" parade.

PS. I would never condemn a person's choices in this regard. There is however, a choice. Gays don't attend Jerry Falwell's services with a pride T-shirt on, and it seems silly for someone to be inconsistant in a matter as important as their religious beliefs.

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