Sunday, June 8, 2008

"To'evah hi"

It has been three full festivals since my son told us he is gay. He told us on the first day of Sukkoth. We spent the Chag digesting the information. Pesach was spent together as a family, coming back together for the first time since Sukkoth. The time was spent getting back to a normal family life. We shall spend this Chag alone, since two of our children are in Israel, one child is in Silver Springs and my son is teaching in Turkey.

As is our tradition on this Holiday of Shavuoth to spend the entire night in the study of the Torah, I have come up with my own Tikkun Leyl Shavuoth. I plan to spend the entire night studying the following twenty-two passages in the Torah that use the term “to’evah”. I want to understand the context in which this term is used.

Even though it is tempting to editorialize, I shall refrain from doing so. I do reserve the opportunity to do so at a later time once I have learned and digested and fully understand the text and the context in which it is written.

To remain consistent I used the JPS edition of the Tanakh for its translation of the text. The passages which I found are as follows……….

“The Egyptians could not dine with the Hebrews, since that would be abhorrent to the Egyptians.” Ber/Gen 43:32
“You may stay in the region of Goshen for all shepherds are abhorrent to Egyptians” Ber/Gen 46:34

“Do not lie with a male as one lies with a woman; it is an abhorrence.” Vay/Lev 18:22
“But you must keep My laws and My rules, and you must not do any of these abhorrent things.” Vay/Lev. 18:26
“For all those abhorrent things were done by the people who were in the land before you, and the land became defiled.” Vay/Lev. 18:27
“All who do any of these abhorrent things – such persons shall be cut off from their people.” Vay/Lev 18:29
“You shall keep my charge not to engage in any of the abhorrent practices that were carried on before you.” Vay/Lev. 18:30

“You shall consign the images of their gods to the fire; you shall not covet the silver and gold on them and keep it for yourselves, lest you be ensnared thereby; for that is abhorrent to the Lord you God.” Dev/Deut. 7:25
“You shall not bring an abhorrent thing into your house, or you will be proscribed like it; you must reject it as abominable and abhorrent.” Dev/Deut. 7:26
“You shall not act thus toward the Lord you God, for they perform for their gods every abhorrent act that the Lord detests.” Dev/Deut 12:31
“If it is true, the fact is established – that abhorrent thing was perpetrated in your midst – put the inhabitants of that town to the sword.” Dev/Deut 13:15

“If it is true, the fact is established, that abhorrent thing was perpetrated in Israel, you shall take the man and the woman who did that wicked thing out to the public place, and you shall stone them, man and woman.” Dev/Deut 17:4-5
“When you enter the land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to imitate the abhorrent practices of those nations.” Dev/Deut. 18:9
“For anyone who does such things is abhorrent to the Lord, and it is because of these abhorrent things that the Lord your God is dispossessing them before you.” Dev/Deut. 18:12
“Lest they lead you into doing all the abhorrent things that they have done for their gods and you stand guilty before the Lord your God.” Dev/Deut 20:18

“Cursed be anyone who makes a sculptured or molten image, abhorred by the Lord.” Dev/Deut 27:15

“The first husband who divorced her shall not take her to wife again, since she has been defiled – for that would be abhorrent to the Lord.” Dev/Deut 24:4

“You shall not sacrifice to the Lord your God an ox or a sheep that has any defect of a serious kind, for that is abhorrent to the Lord your God.” Dev/Deut 17:1

“You shall not eat anything abhorrent.” Dev/Deut. 14:3

“You shall not bring the fee of a whore or the pay of a dog into the House of the Lord your God in fulfillment of any vow, for both are abhorrent to the Lord your God.” Dev/Deut 23:19

“A woman must not put on man’s apparel, nor shall a man wear woman’s clothing; for whoever does these things is abhorrent to the Lord your God.” Dev/Deut. 22:5

“You must have completely honest weights and completely honest measures, if you are to endure long on the soil that the Lord your God is giving you. For everyone who does those things, everyone who deals dishonestly is abhorrent to the Lord your God.” Dev/Deut. 25:15-16

Have a chag same'ach.

Saul David


Unknown said...

first of all, i want to say thank you... thanks for writing this blog and opening up a dialog that is long overdue in the frum community. it is time that we all acknowledge that there are gays, lesbians, and bisexual people in the orthodox world.. i hope that we can move beyond just that level of acknowledgment to inclusiveness and acceptance...
I am interested in hearing your thoughts about these to share?

Anonymous said...

I also want to thank you for this blog. I am a gay Jew, yeshiva educated, who like many in my situation has had to make difficult choices. I have chosen to make Hashem and his Torah #1 - to remain observant and involved in the frum and learning community - while many others whom I know in the same situation have made other choices. Secular Jews have places to meet - there are gay synagogues for reform/conservative Jews - but we have no place to meet, to discourse, to share. Perhaps the internet will help in this respect - even to create some sense of community. I too, as the previous poster, would be interested in hearing the conclusions from your Tikun Leil Shavuos learning. Even more - I would be interested to hear your thoughts - as an Orthodox Jew - as to what would be the "nafka mina" of your conclusions.

Anonymous said...

I am honored to read your blog and hope sincerely that you don't shut it down. It is very relevant to me, and to some people I care very much about. I am actually in a straight relationship, due to my halakhic commitments, but I identify as queer.

If you'd like to see a blog some friends of mine started (and in which I am involved), please visit:

therapydoc said...

Thank you for that list. I think your readers might be interested in reading what the National Association of Social Workers has to say about the reparative therapies often suggested to gays and lesbians who grow up in religious families.

check out this link:
Reparation therapies

Anonymous said...

I learned in Israel for the past year, and when I asked me teacher what the meaning of the word "toevah" meant, she answered that nobody knows the exact translation. It doesn't necessarily mean abomination, as what is commonly believed. I just thought that was important to say because it's a common misconception.