Friday, January 2, 2009

Trail Blazers

In this week's Torah Portion, Vayigash, Jacob and his family descend to Egypt to escape the famine and live in the land of Goshen. The Torah tells us that Jacob sent Judah ahead of the rest of the family so that Judah could להורות, prepare for their arrival and instruct them how to live in a foreign land. Rashi cites a midrash that Judah was sent ahead in order to build a yeshiva -- a house of Jewish study. From this we learn that Torah and Judaism must be our first priority when establishing a new community.

As gay Jews, I believe we can read an additional meaning into the verse. While the gay rights movement has existed for many years, it has only recently begun to penetrate Jewish institutions. Thus, like Judah, we must act as trail blazers, forging a Jewish community that accepts us for who we are and enables us to integrate our Judaism and our homosexuality. We must pave this path for those who are in the closet as well as for those whose Judaism is in the closet. We must pave this path so that future generations are not forced to choose between their Judaism and their homosexuality, G-d forbid.

Being true to the meaning of the word להורות, we must teach and guide -- teach heterosexuals acceptance and guide homosexuals toward an integrated Jewish life.

Good Shabbos

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