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D'var Torah:
Weekly Torah Portion Commentary

Kedoshim - 5/9/24

Parashat Kedoshim has some very uplifting verses, especially in Chapter 19, called the Holiness Code. It teaches us that we can become holy through every day acts of kindness, respect, and decency toward others.  But, the parasha also contains one of the Torah’s most difficult verses: “Do not lie with a man as with a woman.  It is a 'to’eivah'.”  (Lev. 18:22) This verse has been taken to be a severe warning against gay and lesbian relationships, the word “to’eivah” being typically translated as “abomination” or “abhorrent”. For centuries, gay and lesbian individuals and individuals of various gender identities felt excluded from Jewish life by this verse and generations of commentary on it. 

Today, we recognize that this verse was, in truth, a warning against following pagan practices that existed in the ancient world. In our world, many faith groups that consider Leviticus sacred scripture, including our own, seek to welcome, support and embrace LGBTQIA+ individuals. In so doing, we elevate another verse in Kedoshim—“V’ahavta l’rei’acha kamocha”, “Love your neighbor as yourself”—over the hurtful verse of an era long gone.

-Rabbi Dena A. Feingold


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