Copyright © 2011 by and Gary Konecky

Over the centuries people who misunderstood or misinterpreted the Bible have done terrible things. The Bible has been misused to defend bloody crusades and tragic inquisitions; to support slavery, apartheid, and segregation; to persecute Jews and other non-Christian people of faith; to support Hitler's Third Reich and the Holocaust; to oppose medical science; to condemn interracial marriage; to execute women as witches; and to support the Ku Klux Klan. Shakespeare said it this way: "Even the devil can cite Scripture for his purpose."

Even when we believe the Scriptures are "infallible" or "without error," it's terribly dangerous to think that our understanding of every biblical text is also without error. We are human. We are fallible. And we can misunderstand and misinterpret these ancient words -- with tragic results. – Rev. Mel White

With Rev. White’s keen insight in mind we are about to embark upon our exploration of the two verses from Leviticus that are used to justify homophobia, bigotry, discrimination and prejudice against the LGBTI community.

Even if the Bible literalists are correct in their understanding of these verses, and I do not believe they are, we have a fascinating episode from the Talmud that I believe is crucial to our understanding of how to interpret these verses.  In this Talmud passage, the sages are engaged in a dispute with Rabbi Eliezer (a very prominent sage) about a matter of Jewish religious law (halachah) concerning the ritual purity (clean) or impurity (unclean) of a certain type oven.  Rabbi Eliezer, having exhausted every argument, calls on heaven to support his position with a series of miracles, which are disregarded by the opposing sages.  Finally, Rabbi Eliezer calls upon heaven to declare his interpretation correct.  When heaven declares that Rabbi Eliezer is correct, the other sages make a remarkable assertion of the independence of human reasoning that I feel is an incredible rebuke of bible literalism.  As I feel this passage is so significant, I am going to quote the entire passage.

From the Talmud (Baba Metzia 59a): 


We learnt elsewhere: If he cut it into separate tiles, placing sand between each tile: R. Eliezer declared it clean, and the Sages declared it unclean; and this was the oven of ‘Aknai.(1) Why [the oven of] ‘Aknai? - Said Rab Judah in Samuel's name: [It means] that they encompassed it with arguments (2) as a snake, and proved it unclean. It has been taught: On that day R. Eliezer brought forward every imaginable argument, (3) but they did not accept them. Said he to them: ‘If the halachah agrees with me, let this carob-tree prove it!’ Thereupon the carob-tree was torn a hundred cubits out of its place - others affirm, four hundred cubits. ‘No proof can be brought from a carob-tree,’ they retorted. Again he said to them: ‘If the halachah agrees with me, let the stream of water prove it!’ Whereupon the stream of water flowed backwards – ‘No proof can be brought from a stream of water,’ they rejoined. Again he urged: ‘If the halachah agrees with me, let the walls of the schoolhouse prove it,’ whereupon the walls inclined to fall. But R. Joshua rebuked them, saying: ‘When scholars are engaged in a halachic dispute, what have ye to interfere?’ Hence they did not fall, in honour of R. Joshua, nor did they resume the upright, in honour of R. Eliezer; and they are still standing thus inclined. Again he said to them: ‘If the halachah agrees with me, let it be proved from Heaven!’ Whereupon a Heavenly Voice cried out: ‘Why do ye dispute with R. Eliezer, seeing that in all matters the halachah agrees with him!’ But R. Joshua arose and exclaimed: ‘It is not in heaven.’(4) What did he mean by this? — Said R. Jeremiah: That the Torah had already been given at Mount Sinai; we pay no attention to a Heavenly Voice, because Thou hast long since written in the Torah at Mount Sinai, After the majority must one incline. (5)


R. Nathan met Elijah (6) and asked him: What did the Holy One, Blessed be He, do in that hour? - He laughed [with joy], he replied, saying, ‘My sons have defeated Me, My sons have defeated Me.’


 (1) This refers to an oven, which, instead of being made in one piece, was made in a series of separate portions with a layer of sand between each. R. Eliezer maintains that since each portion in itself is not a utensil, the sand between prevents the whole structure from being regarded as a single utensil, and therefore it is not liable to uncleanness. The Sages however hold that the outer coating of mortar or cement unifies the whole, and it is therefore liable to uncleanness. (This is the explanation given by Maimonides on the Mishnah, Kel. V, 10. Rashi a.l. adopts a different reasoning). ‘Aknai is a proper noun, probably the name of a master, but it also means ‘snake’. (Gr. ** ) which meaning the Talmud proceeds to discuss.

(2) Lit., ‘words’

(3) Lit., ‘all the arguments in the world’.

(4) Deut. XXX,12.

(5) Ex. XXIII,2; though the story is told in a legendary form, this is a remarkable assertion of the independence of human reasoning.

(6) It was believed that Elijah, who had never died, often appeared to the Rabbis.  (Note 1)

Think about this remarkable passage.  G-d gave the Torah to the Jewish people at Mount Sinai and now the Jewish sages assert their ownership of that Torah by disregarding the Heavenly Voice.  Instead of being upset, G-d is filled with joy that His children have come into their own. 

Within this teaching is the implication that the age of prophecy is over.  As we wrestle to understand these verses from Leviticus, as we struggle to put them in the context of our lives today, we have no Heavenly Voice to tell us what these verses mean.  The verses belong to us and it is our responsibility to faithfully interpret these verses. 

With this in mind, lets look at the some of the halachah that is relevant.  Rabbi Rapoprt understood these verses from Leviticus to mean that a homosexual male is exempt from heterosexual marriage. (note 2)  As we learned when we studied the midrash of Daniel the Tailor and the law of the mamzer, one of the major goals of halachah is to strengthen the family.  You cannot strengthen a family by creating an unfulfilling marriage.  Many times when we force such a marriage, it ends in divorce and everyone involved would have been better off if such a marriage had never happened. 

Additionally, as important as the family is, the family is not merely about reproduction as we learned earlier in this series.  In fact, the obligation to reproduce is discussed in the Talmud (Yevamoth 63b) when the sages engage the sage Ben ‘Azzai concerning his not being married:

It was taught: R. Eliezer stated, He who does not engage in propagation of the race is as though he sheds blood; for it is said, Whoso sheddeth man's blood by man shall his blood be shed,(70) and this is immediately followed by the text, And you, be ye fruitful and multiply.(71) R. Jacob said: As though he has diminished the Divine Image; since it is said, For in the image of God made he man,(72) and this is immediately followed by, And you, be ye fruitful etc.(71) Ben ‘Azzai said: As though he sheds blood and diminishes the Divine Image; since it is said,(73) And you, be ye fruitful and mutltiply.(71)

They said to Ben ‘Azzai: Some preach well and act well, others act well but do not preach well; you. however, preach well but do not act well!(74) Ben ‘Azzai replied: But what shall I do, seeing that my soul is in love with the Torah; the world can be carried on by others.

Another [Baraitha] taught : R. Eliezer said, Anyone who does not engage in the propagation of the race is as though he sheds blood; For it is said, Whoso sheddeth mans's blood,(72) and close upon it follows, And you, be ye fruitful etc.(71) R. Eleazar b. Azariah said: As though he diminished the Divine Image. Ben ‘Azzai said etc.75 They said to Ben ‘Azzai: Some preach well etc.(75)


(70) Gen. IX, 6.

(71) Gen. IX, 7.

(72) Ibid. 6.

(73) After both Whoso sheddeth man's blood and In the image of God made he man. (Gen. IX, 6).

(74) He remained a bachelor. 

(75) V. supra.      (Note 1)

At this point, the discussion ends.  However, the great Jewish sage the Rambam, as well as several noted rabbinic works including the Shulchan Aruch (the authoritative code of Jewish religious law) all rule that if one is steeped in Torah like Ben Azzai, then one does not violate Jewish law by not being married.  This is an important concept, this is the concept of limitation that we will explore further in part 16.  In short, if one cannot perform a commandment because that is the way G-d made that individual, then that individual is exempt from that commandment.  Ben Azzai is exempt from the commandments of marriage and being fruitful and multiplying (having children) because his nature is to not marry and have children.  It seems the rabbis and sages understood that desire cannot be manufactured and that fulfilling these commandments requires both desire and another person to help fulfill it.  The rabbis and sages accepted Ben Azzai’s argument that the world can be carried on through the reproduction of others. 

This indirectly brings us to the issue of overpopulation.  In Genesis 1:21: we are told:

And God created the great sea monsters, and every living creature that crawls, with which the waters swarmed, according to their kind, and every winged fowl, according to its kind, and God saw that it was good.

Rashi, the great Torah commentator explains this as follows:

the…sea monsters: The great fish in the sea, and in the words of the Aggadah (B.B. 74b), this refers to the Leviathan and its mate, for He created them male and female, and He slew the female and salted her away for the righteous in the future, for if they would propagate, the world could not exist because of them. … is written. [I.e., the final “yud,” which denotes the plural, is missing, hence the implication that the Leviathan did not remain two, but that its number was reduced to one.]- [from Gen. Rabbah 7:4, Midrash Caseroth V’Yetheroth , Batei Midrashoth, vol 2, p. 225].

In a round about way we are told about the danger of overpopulation.  G-d created the Leviathan and its mate.  G-d then decides that if they reproduce, the world cannot exist.  If humans continue to overpopulate this planet, the world cannot exist.  Science has informed us about the dangers of climate change, and we have already seen record high-energy prices, unusual and increasingly severe weather, as well as water becoming an increasingly scarce commodity in many parts of the world.  G-d created our world with finite resources and the more of us there are the faster we use up those resources.  We are a far cry in terms of population from one man (Adam) and one woman (Eve) being the entire human population of creation.  For Adam and Eve, be fruitful and multiply was an imperative.  With billions of us competing for increasingly scarce resources, is reproduction still an imperative or will the human population be sufficient even if gays and lesbians do not reproduce?

With these thoughts in mind, we come to one last Talmud passage (Shabbath 53b):

Our Rabbis taught: It once happened that a man's wife died and left a child to be suckled, and he could not afford to pay a wet-nurse, whereupon a miracle was performed for him and his teats opened like the two teats of a woman and he suckled his son. R. Joseph observed, Come and see how great was this man, that such a miracle was performed on his account! Said Abaye to him, On the contrary: how lowly was this man, that the order of the Creation (24) was changed on his account!(25) Rab Judah observed, Come and see how difficult are men's wants [of being satisfied]. that the order of the Creation had to be altered for him! R. Nahman said: The proof is that miracles do [frequently] occur, whereas food is [rarely] created (26) miraculously.


(24) Lit., ‘the beginning’; i.e., nature.

(25) In Ber. 20a Abaye himself regards miracles wrought for people as testifying to their greatness and merit. Rashi observes that his lowliness lay in the fact that a means of earning money was not opened to him.

(26) So Rashi.  (Note 1)

In the above passage, the Rabbis debate if a man who can breast-feed has received a blessing or a curse.  A very similar question could be asked about the LGBTI community.  Is LGBTI sexuality a blessing or a curse?  Many of us would argue it is a very special blessing while those who condemn the LGBTI community would argue that it is a curse.

With these thoughts in mind, we come to “And with a male you shall not lie the lyings of a woman:  it is a toevah.” - Leviticus 18:22. (Note 3)

The first thing we notice when we look at this verse is that it is not the usual translation.  The translation I opted to use is in fact the closest translation we have to the literal Hebrew.  The translations that we more commonly see are actually partial interpretations. 

The second thing we notice is the odd choice of words, “the lyings of a woman.”

 The third thing we notice is that the Hebrew word toevah is not translated.  This word is usually translated as “abomination” even thought it’s meaning is not abomination.   

 Before we can even begin to ponder the meaning of this verse, we already have translation problems and the odd choice of words.  When we went over the installments dealing with how to interpret the Bible (parts 4-6 of this series), I tried to explain what would happen in a situation such as this.  The techniques I mentioned will now become the tools we will need to use if we are to understand the meaning of this verse and its companion verse (Leviticus 20:13).  As has happened in previous installments, we know that when we come across a situation like this (the odd choice of words means) there is a hidden meaning to the verse that must be explored if we are to find the true meaning of the verse.

This verse is interesting for what it does and does not say.  The verse does not prohibit any lesbian activity.  The prohibition of lesbian activity is a rabbinic enactment, and is not a Torah (G-d given) prohibition.  For observant Jews, both rabbinic enactments and Torah prohibitions are binding.

 What are the “lyings of a woman?”  Why use this odd choice of words?  Why not just prohibit male-male sexual activity outright?  Given the wording, something other than an outright prohibition of male homosexual activity is being discussed.  But what?  Skipping a lot of analysis that is covered in Rabbi Greenberg’s excellent book Wrestling With G-d & Man, the answer is the “lyings of a woman” is addressing sexual intercourse. 

At this point in our partially completed analysis, we have discovered that contrary to the claims of those who seek to oppress the LGBTI community, this verse is not the endorsement of their position that they claim it is.  A literal reading of this verse shows that it does not prohibit lesbian sex.  It does not prohibit same sex desire.  This verse does not prohibit all male-male sexual activity.  The verse appears to only prohibit male-male anal intercourse.  Yet even here, we still have disagreement as to exactly what is prohibited.  The Jewish tradition interprets this verse as prohibiting or placing the emphasis of the prohibition on the active partner, the one doing the penetrating.  Christians interpret the verse as prohibiting a male from being penetrated during anal intercourse. 

“Toevah” is usually translated as “abomination.”  Yet, this word means different things in different contexts when it is used in the Hebrew Bible.  Toevah is used in connection with food prohibitions, idolatrous practices, magic, sexual offenses and ethical violations.  Judging from the context, toevah appears to mean something abhorrent.  At the end of chapter 18 of Leviticus, everything prohibited in chapter 18 including an impressive list of heterosexual sex acts are all called “toevah.” 


Yet what is abhorrent, when it is abhorrent, why it is abhorrent, and to who it is abhorrent is a matter of context.  In Exodus 8:22, Moses is pleading with Pharaoh to let the Israelites go and worship their G-d with an animal sacrifice and that the animal to be sacrificed was sacred to the Egyptians.  The Torah uses the word “toevah” to describe something sacred to the Egyptians, yet suitable to offer as a sacrifice to the Almighty.  (Note 4)  Further stressing the importance of context, we come to the first chapter of Isaiah.  In this chapter, G-d, through his prophet Isaiah, tells the Jewish people of the upcoming destruction that is about to befall them.  G-d is so upset with the Jewish people that in Isaiah 1:13, G-d calls the sacrifices of the Jewish people, sacrifices that G-d himself commanded the Jews to bring, an abomination.


With these thoughts in mind, we now come to an interim translation.  We still have more work to do in understanding this verse, but we need to look at the companion verse (Leviticus 20:13) before we can finish deriving the complete meaning of this verse.  Therefore, we will summarize what we have so far as follows:  “And a male you shall not bed (sexually penetrate) (engulfing one’s penis) as in the lyings of a woman it is abhorrent.” (Note 5).

“If a man lies with a male the lyings of a woman, the two of them have done an abhorrent thing; they shall be put to death – their blood-guilt is upon them”  - Leviticus 20:13 (Note 5).

Leviticus 20:13 poses a problem.  It seems to contradict Leviticus 18:22.  The Jewish understanding of Leviticus 18:22 is that the active male is prohibited from penetrating the other male during anal intercourse.  Leviticus 20:13 now seems to imply both parties are equally guilty.  Why this seeming contradiction?  Leviticus 20:13 also raises another problem.  When we studied Bible interpretation earlier in this series (part 5), we came across a mishnah that told us that before someone can be tried for a capital offence, they must be explicitly warned that the act they are about to commit is a capital offence.  Therefore, we have to ask how can G-d call for the death penalty in Lev. 20:13 for an act that He had not warned against in Lev. 18:22? 

These questions troubled the Jewish sages and rabbis.  Skipping their extensive analysis, the Rabbis of the Talmud understood the active male; the one doing the penetrating is the focus of the prohibition.  The other partner, the passive partner is guilty only by interpolation.  This is striking.  In most cultures and societies, including Christianity and in our own culture, the teaching is that the passive male is deviant, the exact opposite of the traditional Jewish interpretation of these verses.  Why this difference? 

This difference is crucial to our understanding of this verse.  When we discussed the sin of Sodom earlier in this series, we examined incidents and passages from Genesis, Ezekiel, Judges and Deuteronomy.  Theses passages have one theme in common.  The sin of lack of hospitality is a grave sin; it is the sin that leads to an attempted gang rape or an actual gang rape and murder.  In these two instances, Jewish tradition clearly condemns rape as a sex act designed to humiliate and to control someone.  Rape is an exercise of power against someone who is less powerful or is powerless.  Therefore, traditional Jewish thought in the case of male-male anal intercourse is that the active partner, the one doing the penetrating is the one who bears the larger burden of the sin.  In contrast, in the Christian tradition and in our own culture, male-male anal intercourse is about manliness.  The active partner is perceived to be a “man,” while the receiving partner is perceived to be effeminate, or weak, or somehow less of a “man.”

Another point is that while the death penalty is called for, the chances of satisfying the requirements to even prosecute such a case was nil.  It is also worth stopping for a minute to ponder some of the other violations that merit the death penalty.  This would include such acts as adultery, incest and bestiality.  Cursing one’s parents also merits the death penalty.  The term abhorrent also applies to violating the laws concerning: clean and unclean animals and birds; pure and impure states and objects; mixing corps in the same field; as well as mixing wool and linen in the same garment. 

Up until now, we have worked on the assumption that “lyings of a woman” was referring to male-male anal intercourse.  Now we need to examine this assumption.  This will be difficult as the phrase “lyings of a woman” is only used in these two verses.  Typically, phrases occur many times in the Hebrew Bible, thereby allowing us a base of usage from which to derive the precise meaning of the phrase.  In fact, rabbis search for all the locations a specific phrase appears so as to better understand that phrase.  In our case the phrase “lyings of a woman” only appears in these two specific verses.  This is akin to using the word you are defining in your definition of the word that you are defining.

Even the phrase “lyings of” is used in only one other place in the Torah.  In Genesis, we have an incident that occurred after Rachel’s death.  Jacob was married to his beloved Rachel and to her sister Leah.  Jacob also had two concubines who were handmaidens (supporters of traditional marriage and family values, please take note of Jacob’s traditional marriage and family).  When Jacob’s beloved Rachael dies, Jacob moves his bed from Rachael’s tent to the tent of her handmaiden (his concubine) Bilha. 

Leah is Reuven’s mother.  Reuven feels his mother’s honor has been slighted by Jacob passing up Leah (Jacob’s wife and Reuven’s mother) to have sexual relations with a handmaiden, a concubine, Bilha.  Reuven then acts on this perceived offense to his mother’s honor and moves Jacob’s bed from Bilhah’s tent and places it in the tent of his mother, Leah.  This act was considered as sinful as if Reuven had slept with Bilhah.  Years later, on his deathbed, Jacob curses Reuven for doing this.  Jacob says:  “You went up upon the lyings (or beds) of your father; then you defiled - He mounted my bed.” (Note 6)  Biblical Hebrew does not have a word for rape, therefore the Hebrew word used here “lyings of” is being used as a substitute for a word that does not exist.  “Lyings of” as used here is about intercourse not as in love making, but intercourse as in rape, as in power, as in domination and as in humiliation. 

Our verse should therefore be translated as:  “And a male you shall not sexually penetrate to humiliate it is abhorrent.”  (Note 7)  This translation is consistent with the concept expressed in Genesis, Ezekiel and Judges (as discussed in part 11 of this series).

We still have one more word in our translation to address.  Up until now, we have ignored the Hebrew word et (sometimes transliterated as eth or es).  Typically, when translating the Hebrew into English, the et is ignored as it is a grammatical device that has no translatable meaning.

When we covered how to interpret the Hebrew Bible, I said every word has meaning.  This includes the non-translated et.  The importance of the non-translated et is repeatedly discussed in the Talmud.  The Talmud (Kiddushin 57a, Baba Kama 41b, Bechoroth 6b and Pesachim 22b) tells us of the Jewish sage Shimon the Imsonite (or possibly the Jewish sage Nehemia Haimsoni, Nehemiah the Imsonite) who spent his life searching for the meaning of et every time it appeared in the Torah.  He explained every et except one.  The one et that he could not explain was explained by the great Jewish sage Rabbi Akiba.

Many times the et was something unspoken.  Lets look at the typical translation of Exodus 20:12 as an example.  “Honor your father and your mother, in order that your days be lengthened on the land that the Lord, your God, is giving you.”

The Hebrew has two et that have not been translated.  The verse actually says: Honor et your father and et your mother, in order that your days be lengthened on the land that the Lord, your God, is giving you.  (note 8) What is the Hebrew not saying that the English is totally ignoring?  Who is missing?  We have a mother and a father in a verse that commands us to honor our parents.  What parent is missing?  Jewish religious law (based upon searching for the meaning of et) says you must not only honor your parents but you must also honor your stepparents.  The et is your father’s wife and your mother’s husband, your stepparents.  As stepparents only come about through something we consider to be bad, the death of a parent or divorce, they are not mentioned explicitly in the verse.  However, even though not mentioned, G-d considers them worthy of honor, and therefore includes them in the verse through use of the untranslatable et. 

Lets now look at our verse with the previously omitted and non-translated et in the text.  Our verse now reads:  “And et a male you shall not sexually penetrate to humiliate it is abhorrent.” (Note 9) Just as when we looked at Exodus 20:12, we have the same issue here; who is missing?  Who is the et referring to?  Our only possibility is a female.  Therefore, this verse should be translated as:  “And (either a female or) a male you shall not sexually penetrate to humiliate it is abhorrent.” (Note 9)  We now have a translation that not only makes sense, we have a translation that is consistent with the teachings of Genesis, Ezekiel and Judges, not only taking into account the teachings of these passages, but also taking into account that the attempted rape that was homosexual and the actual rape and murder that was heterosexual. 

We therefore can conclude that these two verses, verses so often used against the LGBTI community, actually are in the Bible not to condemn same sex lovemaking but to condemn any sex act that involves rape, humiliation, domination, or control.

We have one last thought to explore, the concept of sameness.  We are told not to wear garments of wool and linen mixed together.  We are told not to mix crops in the same field.  We are told that the reason the animals perished in the flood was because of interspecies sex, meaning that humans and animals violated the concept of sameness in their sexual exploits.  It seems sameness somehow is very important to G-d.  This brings us to the ultimate concept of sameness, same sex lovemaking.  We know from the explicit command be fruitful and multiple that heterosexuality is valued by G-d.  We may be able to infer from the emphasis on sameness that same sex lovemaking may well be cherished by G-d.  Lastly, we know that “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. - B. Shab 77b” (note 10) and therefore even same sex lovemaking has a Devine purpose.  For what does G-d want from us but our happiness, our getting along as the one big family we are, and as the prophet Micah tells us “…to do justice, to love loving-kindness, and to walk discreetly with your G-d.”

Acknowledgement:  Rabbi Greenberg in his book, Wrestling With G-d & Man, Homosexuality in the Jewish Tradition, has a very insightful analysis of these two verses from Leviticus.  We are all indebted to him for his groundbreaking work, which is the source of much of the material and analysis that is presented here.

Note 1:  The Soncino Talmud, Judaic Classics by David Kantrowitz, Version 3.0.8, Copyright 1991-2004, Davka Corporation. 

Note 2:  Page 156 of Wrestling With G-d & Man, Homosexuality in the Jewish Tradition, by Rabbi Steven Greenberg, Published by the University of Wisconsin Press, copyright 2004

Note 3:  Page 79 of Wrestling With G-d & Man, Homosexuality in the Jewish Tradition, by Rabbi Steven Greenberg, Published by the University of Wisconsin Press, copyright 2004

Note 4:  Page 210 of The Torah Anthology / Me’Am Lo’Ez, Book Four, Exodus I, Israel in Egypt, by Rabbi Yaakov Culi, translated by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, Moznaim Publishing Corp., copyright 1979

Note 5:  Page 82 of Wrestling With G-d & Man, Homosexuality in the Jewish Tradition, by Rabbi Steven Greenberg, Published by the University of Wisconsin Press, copyright 2004

Note 6:  Page 205 of Wrestling With G-d & Man, Homosexuality in the Jewish Tradition, by Rabbi Steven Greenberg, Published by the University of Wisconsin Press, copyright 2004

Note 7:  Page 206 of Wrestling With G-d & Man, Homosexuality in the Jewish Tradition, by Rabbi Steven Greenberg, Published by the University of Wisconsin Press, copyright 2004

Note 8: 

Page 207 of Wrestling With G-d & Man, Homosexuality in the Jewish Tradition, by Rabbi Steven Greenberg, Published by the University of Wisconsin Press, copyright 2004

Jonathan Sacks, the Chief Rabbi of Britain, toward the end of his explanation of the weekly Torah portion Korach tells of Shimon the Imsonite’s search for the meaning of every et and its significance today.  This excellent explanation can be found at:

The et involved in honoring your mother and father is also discussed on pages 399-401 of The Torah Anthology / Me’Am Lo’Ez, Book Six, Exodus III, The Ten Commandments, by Rabbi Yaakov Culi, translated by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, Mozniaim Publishing Corporation, copyright 1990.

Note 9:  Page 208 of Wrestling With G-d & Man, Homosexuality in the Jewish Tradition, by Rabbi Steven Greenberg, Published by the University of Wisconsin Press, copyright 2004

Note 10:  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.

An excellent discussion of Reuven’s sin involving Bilhah is discussed in The Torah Anthology / Me’am Lo’Ez on pages 198-200 of volume 3a and on pages 516-518 of volume 3b.  Both books were written by Rabbi Yaakov Culi and translated by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, copyright 1990-1991, Moznaim Publishing Corporation.

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