a gay black woman's discovery of her jewish self

When People Use Torah as a Weapon

Posted on: July 26, 2011

Leviticus is one of my least favorite chapters of Torah.  It’s long, it’s detailed, it’s barbaric, it’s where most bigoted people of “faith” find reasoning to hate LGBTQ people.  A lot of Jewish law is found in Leviticus; kosher laws, Temple laws, law and order.  It can all be found in Leviticus.




Leviticus is also where we get commandments for all of the Holidays we celebrate today.  Moreover, Torah was written down in a time and place that is so far-removed from who and what we are now that it cannot be taken for word.  There is no Temple therefore, half of Leviticus is null and void.  It’s “okay” for those who use the Bible as a weapon for their fight, but rarely do they use it all or practice it all in their own day to day life.  Christian fundamentalists, as far as I’m aware, don’t keep kosher.  Let’s skip that chapter that says not to eat shell fish, pigs, and rodents and go to the next.  Aha!  It’s all or nothing, folks. I’d be more inclined to listen to a bigot who truly keeps every single law of the Bible.  I would give them my ear, find them and I will listen.

“Do not like with a male as one lies with a woman; it is abhorrence.  Do not have carnal relations with any beast and defile yourself thereby; and let no woman lend herself to a beast to mate with it; it is perversion.” Leviticus 18:22-23

“If a man lies with a male as one lies with a woman, the two of them have don an abhorrent thing; they shall be put to death-their bloodguilt is upon them” Leviticus 20:13

Those are the famous verses.  No where in the texts does it say that two women should not lie together.  Apparently we’re more inclined to seek out beasts to mate with, it would’ve never occurred to the scribes that a woman would desire another woman.  It isn’t until thousands of years later that the Talmud refers to “lesbian” sex.  Even then the punishment of lashing isn’t as severe.

So it looks like only the gay boys are screwed, eh?  Thing is, and a point one of the frum ladies, brought up at HIR a few months ago is-why are you in my bed?  Talmud and Torah describe what can only be considered sexual penetration for men and rubbing of bits for women as “wrong”…why should we assume that two people in love are doing those sexual acts. 

It’s also frustrating that all of the other really terrible parts in Leviticus are left out.  For instance, Leviticus says that it’s okay to have more than one wife, and that you need not love them both equally.  Leviticus says you cannot married a divorced woman (21:7).  You can burn your daughter (21:9).  The disabled, even within the priestly lineage, cannot perform priestly acts (21:18).  You can have slaves, even Jewish slaves, but you must redeem them every seventh year.  You can keep people with “discharge” or rashes away from camp, the list goes on and on…

Today’s frustration stems from the Black and Jewish group on FB.  A friend linked my blog and encouraged folks to read.  One comment later came, “I can’t, I’m Torah observant”.  It has since received several comments and I’ve bowed out with a blessing of Shalom on all of them and an invitation for homo Jews to like my page.  Thing is, I read Torah just as much as the next Jew.  I’m sittin on the subway reading Tanakh and I read Leviticus a lot, even though I hate it.  I mentioned not listening to rap on purpose, but Tupac was on the right track.

3 Responses to "When People Use Torah as a Weapon"

Get out of my Judaism with your homophobia. If the Torah wasn’t a Holy, Holy thing, I’d tell them where they could shove that scroll.

I admire your grace. I wish I could emulate it.

It’s hard. My partner and I always have heated discussions about my patience with bigots. I’ve written about my 28th birthday several times, short version a christian bigot gay bashed us on the street (never mind I was wearing a crown that read ‘today is my birthday) she wanted to walk away, I sat and argued with him until she pulled me away. Of course he was quoting leviticus and mark and I tried bringing him back to the parable of the line in the sand…In the end, I walked away. I just don’t like to back down.

The Internet is different, though, because people start to become less human in some way I find. You can hide behind your computer screen and write hateful bigoted things without seeing the person’s face you are hurting. This group is for Black Jews and I am a Black Jew…you’d think, given the history of both Blacks and Jews that you could love.

[…] I’m not completely Torah-observant, why pick out this one part? I’ve posted on several occasions how it bothers me that zealots, religious right-wings, or plain idiotic people […]

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