It seems Rabbi Ismar Schorsch, the chancellor of JTS, has issued his psak:

"The principal reason for not ordaining [homosexuals] and not performing commitment ceremonies is that there is simply no halachic justification for it," Schorsch said.

Whether he was asked for his judgment seems immaterial to Schorsch himself. (Does this mean that even the Conservative movement now approves of daat Torah, i.e. rabbinic infallibility?)

I have the sinking feeling that I will have to write something on this issue in the coming weeks. Just for purposes of preview, I'd like to lay out the points that any pro-homosexuality pseudo-teshuvah would have to detail. ("Pseudo-teshuvah," because I'm not a rabbi.) Of course, one would first and foremost, from a Conservative halachic perspective, have to deal with the drown-'em-in-erudition-but-skimp-on-the-argumentation teshuvah of Rabbi Joel Roth, which stretches over a numbingly wide expanse in the latest collection of responsa from the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards. To devote even a preview blog to a point-by-point refutation of Rabbi Roth's teshuvah, however, would take hours. So I'll save that for the main event.

In any case, here are the bare outlines of what I would try to say.

1. Any statement in the Torah cannot be understood without interpretation. Any so-called "simple reading" of the Torahs prohibition is not relevant to a halachic argument. [Though I think it's relevant to mention Jacob Milgrom's argument in his Anchor Bible commentary on Leviticus, according to which homosexuality, only between men, and only in the Land of Israel, is prohibited because it does not lead to conventionally borne offspring. He recommends that gay couples adopt children.]

2. However, the chain of Biblical interpretation is not broken. Halachic authority is not based on unquestioning acceptance of Talmudic conclusions, but rather on understanding of their approach and exercising our own intellect and fear of God within that system.

3. In an important Talmudic discussion, the word תועבה (toevah) is interpreted as a term of moral censure: תועה בה (to'eh bah), "straying in it." What this means is the material of that lengthy discussion, which I won't go into here. Suffice it to say, however, that despite Rabbi David Weiss Halivni's claims to the contrary, the Rabbis did approach ajudication in explicitly moral terms on more than one occasion, this being one of them.

4. If Chazal took into account their criteria of moral censure in understanding the meaning of the term toevah, it would be inappropriate for us not to take into account our moral criteria. However, moral arguments for the immorality of homosexuality are unconvincing.

5. How to treat the Torah verses halachically is, obviously, a complicated matter, but it would not be out of place to mention that the rabbis often halachically "uprooted" sections from the Torah, or reinterpreted them into something close to legal impossibilities. This would seem to be viable in this case as well.

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