An Orthodox rabbi has unleashed an extraordinary public attack against the head of the Spanish and Portuguese community for claiming “the homosexual revolution is a fantastic development for humanity”.
Rabbi Aaron Bassous has openly criticised a lecture given earlier this month by Rabbi Joseph Dweck, senior rabbi of the S&P Sephardi Community as “twisted, misguided and mistaken” in a public notice posted in Golders Green.
The statement from Bassous and Beth Hamedrash Knesset Yehezkel, added: “It is our firm opinion that there is no validity in his words whatsoever… We have found it our obligation to warn the masses that his words are nothing and can only be defined as damaging.”
The lecture was shared on social media last Friday, but Dweck was asked to remove the audio file from the S&P Sephardi Community website.
However, in a recording heard by Jewish News, the lecture explains the religious prohibition on homosexuality and presents an enlightened Orthodox view on the issue.
In the discussion, Dweck can be heard to say: “Whatever hang-ups you have are yours, don’t hang them on the Torah.”
He added: “Homosexuality in society has forced us to look at how we deal with love between people of the same sex and it has reduced the taboo of me, my children and my grandchildren being able to love another human being of the same sex genuinely, to show them affection, to express love without the worry of being seen as deviant and problematic.
“The act remains an issue, but if we can deal with the peripheral issues, it changes how we address these things. That’s good for society.
“If we do not hang our prejudices at the door, we will be on the outside. Society will move forward – and the world is moving towards love.”
When asked about the reaction of Bassous to his views on homosexuality, Dweck responded: “This class was part of a weekly Perspectives Series in which I give Torah perspectives based on traditional and widely accepted Torah and Talmudic
“Nothing was said contrary to Jewish Law, nor was it a political statement of any kind It has only been removed from our website because the study of Torah should not cause needless arguments.”
Bassous now plans to address his community with a response to Dweck’s lecture on Monday night.
He could not be reached for comment at the time of publication.
But others had a far less positive reaction to Rabbi Dweck’s controversial statements.
Rabbi Aaron Bassous, a well known Sephardic rabbi in Golders Green, spared no criticism of Rabbi Dweck, calling his lecture “twisted, misguided and mistaken.” Rabbi Bassous issued a statement with Beth Hamedrash Knesset Yehezkel saying that Rabbi Dweck’s words lacked halachic grounding.
“We have found it our obligation to warn the masses that his words are nothing and can only be defined as damaging.”
Rabbonim in London criticized Rabbi Dweck for comparing feminism to homosexuality, calling both wonderful developments in society.
They also took him to task for saying that as times change, what was once considered unacceptable might become possibly permissible today.
A meeting between Rabbi Bassous, a group of London dayanim and Rabbi Dweck resulted in audio of the lecture being removed from the S&P Community website.
Rabbi Dweck noted that the lecture had been taken down only to avoid controversy and that he was not distancing himself from his remarks.
“Nothing was said contrary to Jewish law, nor was it a political statement of any kind,” said Rabbi Dweck.
It has only been removed from our website because the study of Torah should not cause needless arguments.”
In an interview with Israeli news site Kikar Hashabat (http://bit.ly/2qwXouM), Rabbi Dweck defended his remarks, stressing the importance of an open minded approach to societal tends.
“We are losing our youth because if they have to choose between including different types of people in our community and Torah, they will choose inclusion,” said Rabbi Dweck.
“This is a big problem and in my opinion, it is forbidden for rabbonim to ignore it.”
Now that his remarks are no longer available online, Rabbi Dweck said that he believes that Rabbi Bassous is alone in his opposition to the statements on homosexuality.
Rabbi Bassous will be giving a shiur on Monday night at Beth Hamedrash Knesset Yehezkel in Golders Green addressing Rabbi Dweck’s remarks.
“It’s hard to believe that these words came out of the mouth of someone who describes himself as an Orthodox rabbi,” said Rabbi Bassous.