Copyright 2010  by and Gary Konecky, 2011 by Gary Konecky

And in G-d’s image, G-d created humans, male and female in      G-d’s image.  And G-d blessed them.  And G-d saw all of these creations and found them very good.  – Genesis 1:27-28, 1:31 (note 1)

R. Judah said in the name of Rav:  Of all that the Holy One created in His world, He did not create a single thing that was useless. – Talmud (Shabbath 77b) (note 2)

Now I want you to know the deepest depths.  Every person has a share in this world and a share in the world to come.  We understand the concept of a share in the world to come, but what does it mean having a share in this world?  Open your hearts.  Having a share in this world means I know exactly what I have to do in this world.  This is a very high level.  If I know that if I do not do it, it just won’t happen.  Then I’ve got to do it.  This is my share in this world. – Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach (note 3)

We are created by G-d in His image.  G-d does not and did not ever make anything that was or is useless.  Furthermore, each of us has a piece of the Divine in us. 

Each of us was created as a unique individual, put on earth to accomplish a unique task.  No one else can accomplish the task assigned to that unique individual.  That individual, with his or her unique blend of skills, talents, emotions and experiences is the only person who can accomplish that task.

We now come to Leviticus, home of the two most common verses used to attack the LGBTI community.  It is interesting to note that one of the verses used to attach the LGBTI community is from chapter 18 and the other verse used to attack the LGBTI community is from chapter 20.  These two verses are separated by the teachings of chapter 19. 

Unlike the other books of the Hebrew Bible that tend to focus on narrative as the method of teaching, Leviticus focuses on laws, and many but not all those laws relate to the Priests. 

Chapter 19 of Leviticus is fascinating for what it says and how it says it.  Laws are given one right after the other.  The subjects of the verses jump widely from subject to subject.  The order of the verses and laws seems haphazard.  The subject matter of these laws seems to cover almost everything, justice, agriculture, food, clothing, harlotry, and the Sabbath. 

Jewish teaching is that everything we do on this earth is supposed to sanctify G-d.  This would include what we eat and how we eat it, what we wear, the work we do, sexual relations, ritual practices, our clothes, and even thanking G-d for a working body after going to the bathroom.  Every single act and thought should somehow sanctify G-d.

With this in mind, let’s explore how chapter 19 relates to LGBTI people as children of G-d:

We are your gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender children:

 You must not seek vengeance, nor bear a grudge against the children of your people.” (Leviticus 19:18)

We are your bi, trans, lesbian, and gay parents:

 Revere your mother and your father, each of you.” (Leviticus 19:3)

We are elderly lesbians, bisexuals, gay men, and transgender people:  You shall rise before the aged and show deference to the old.” (Leviticus 19:32)

We are the stranger:

You must not oppress the stranger.  You shall love the stranger as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Leviticus 19:34)

We are your trans, gay, bi, and lesbian siblings:

You shall not hate your brother or sister in you heart.” (Leviticus 19:17)

We are lesbian, gay, trans, and bi victims of gay bashing and murder:  You may not stand idly when your neighbor’s blood is being shed.”  (Leviticus 19:16)

We are your bi, gay, trans, and lesbian neighbors: 

You must not oppress your neighbor.  (Leviticus 19:13)

You must judge your neighbor justly.  (Leviticus 19:15)

You shall love your neighbor as you love yourself.  (Leviticus 19:18)

(see note 4)

Abraham was the first Jew, the first messenger of G-d on earth.  The first thing Abraham did was to open his house, in fact he took away the doors.  Everybody was welcome.  Abraham didn’t preach to the sinners, “Listen you dirty pagans, you are going to hell.”  He just took them in and told them, “This is my house and this is your house too.”

        Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach (note 3)

As we apply the words of scripture to our lives and as we learn about scripture through the teachings of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach; let us try to remember all of  G-d’s teachings, and not just the homophobes' weapons of choice (Leviticus 18:22 and Leviticus 20:13).


Note 1:  Genesis 1:27-28, 1:31 as translated on Page 65 of Siddur Sha’Ar Zahav, copyright 2009, published by Congregation Sha’Ar Zahav

Note 2:  As quoted on page 12 of The Book of Legends, Sefer Ha-Aggadah, Legends from the Talmud and Midrash, edited by Hayim Nahman Bialik and Yehoshua Hana Ravnitzky, translated by William G. Braude, Schocken Books, copyright 1992.

Note 3:  Both quotes are taken from page 1 of Holy Brother, Inspiring Stories and Enchanted Tales about Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, by Yetta Halberstam Mandelbaum, copyright 1997, published by A Jason Aronson.

Note 4:  All the quotes concerning chapter 19 of Leviticus are taken from page 19 of Siddur Sha’Ar Zahav, copyright 2009, published by Congregation Sha’Ar Zahav

As a gay man, I find Siddur Sha’Ar Zahav to be the most inspirational prayer book I have read.  It is the prayer book that speaks to my heart.   See for information about this unique and wonderful prayer book.

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