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Gay Marriage. Traditional Jewish Law. How Do We Get These Two Together?

It’s the fifth anniversary of Trembling Before God, the landmark documentary that showed the world that, while there may be no gays in Iran, there are most assuredly gays and lesbians among Orthodox Jews. How much have attitudes changed among the Orthodox since Trembling Before God came out?

Last week published 72 Questions On Gay Marriage, by Martin Bodek, an Orthodox Jew who wants to know how supporters of same-sex marriage suppose this institution would fit into the strictures of traditional Jewish law, or halacha. Some of the questions are bawdy or impertinent–and those are the ones that aren't totally incomprehensible to secular heathen (what in the gods' names is an aufruf, and why does it make men want to throw candy?)

Still, this list looks like progress to us. Pre-TBG, would it even have occurred to anyone to write up such a list?

So we asked Steve Greenberg, the world’s first openly gay Orthodox rabbi, to read the 72 questions (or shaylas) and tell us what to make of all this.

Check out a few of Bodek’s questions below, and then click the vid to find out whether Rabbi Greenberg’s partner is called a rebbitzin, and whether 72 Halachic Questions On Gay Marriage is obnoxious, ahead of the curve, or both.

Questions for two men

  • Do they both break the glass?
  • Which one is not allowed to be on bottom?
  • A “Moch dachuk” must be pretty painful, no?
  • Do either of them have to cover their hair?
  • If they refuse to divorce each other, whose legs get broken?

Questions For Two Women

  • Do they both have to cover their hair?
  • Which one is not allowed to be on top?
  • Are they automatic agunahs if they want to get divorced?
  • If their son is from an anonymous donor, what name does he use for an aliyah?
  • For the aufruf, do the men throw candies into the ezras nashim?
  • Are they allowed to be meyached with other people’s wives?

Questions for Both

  • Whose last name do they use?
  • Who gets first dibs on the baby naming?
  • For shidduch dates, who calls, does the pickup and reports first to the shadchen?
  • Do they have to use a hole in the sheet?

See the rest of the 72 Questions, here.

Below, watch the response of Steve Greenberg, the world's first openly gay Orthodox rabbi.

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