Rabbi Menachem Froman of the community of Tekoa sparked a controversy during a TV program when he told a young religious lesbian woman who claimed that her parents had disowned her and her partner on Shabbat,
“I’m willing to talk with your parents. Give me the address, I’ll talk and tell them ‘parents, come and sit shiva for her, cry (for her)’.”
The rabbi continued,
“You want legitimacy for your world? There’s (also) my world. The world of the primitive, of Menachem Froman, who is a proud primitive.”
The two appeared in a program titled “Vacuum” to be aired by Israeli Educational Television. Several segments were already uploaded to the Havruta website, which actually seeks religious gays as a target audience.
Rabbi Froman told Ynet that the expression to “sit shiva” implies great suffering and that he didn’t intend on making a halachic ruling, according to which the parents should grieve:
“I wanted to say that I would meet her parents in order to try and console the parents and reconcile the family with words of encouragement and supportâ€¦I may have opted for an expression which doesn’t sound good.”
According to the Rabbi, the case amounts to a great human loss since relations between a man and a woman are at the center of life:
“Instead of bringing a groom home and giving her parents grandchildren that come from the source of the good, healthy and natural life â€“ instead they need to come to terms with her choice.”
He stressed that he has strong respect for those with “inverse tendencies” who manage to put up with the great stance which he himself was not required to stand, but will not legitimize those who do not overcome their “instincts”.
Rabbi Dr. Benny Lau, who is considered one of the leading moderate figures in religious Zionism, criticized Froman for his statements during the television program and was quoted as saying:
“This does not come from the Torah, it’s not a halachic stance, it’s Rabbi Froman’s personal viewpoint. It’s an extreme position which completely strays from the halachic way. It’s a halachic deviation.”
The chief Rabbi of Safed, Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu also participated in the panel and defined homosexuality as a disease.
“There is a solutionâ€¦it’s not part of who you are.”
Rabbi Lau protested against those who do not recognize what he defines as a “dead-end reality” and claims that the viewpoint according to which sexual orientation may be changed by a declarative statement is “a grave mistake.”