Telephone Torah Study: Paths to Holiness
The LGBTQ’s second dreaded verse, “If a man lies with a male as one lies with a woman, the two of them have done an abhorrent thing; they shall be put to death—and they retain bloodguilt Lev. 20:13).” appears in this week’s Torah portion, K’doshim (Lev. 19:1-20:27). But, the Torah portion also includes paths to holiness through right action and compassion.
Also, When is it necessary to rebuke another? And, if we’re presented with this uncomfortable task, how we do it in a constructive, sensitive way? Rabbi Jonathan E. Blake asks these questions in his URJ.org drash ‘Mastering the Art’:
Parashat K’doshim presents us with a Holiness Code of conduct. So central are its commands to the overarching ethical, legal, and ritual concerns of the Torah that Rashi famously commented, “Most of the body of the Torah depends on it [this parashah ]” (Rashi on Leviticus 19:2). In fact, the passage itself falls right in the middle of the scroll!
To give a comprehensive overview of K’doshim in these lines would prevent us from exploring any one idea in depth, so instead let’s explore a single, often misunderstood verse.
“You shall not hate your kinsfolk in your heart. Reprove your kin but incur no guilt on their account” (Leviticus 19:17). What does this mean? Does the Torah intend to legislate against a feeling, “hate”? How does “Reprove your kin” connect with the next clause, “but incur no guilt on their account,” and what does it mean to “incur guilt” in this case?
With respect to the translation our Chumash provides, I would like to offer a different, idiomatic translation: “You must not keep a feeling of revulsion at your fellow to yourself. Instead, you should rebuke your fellow so that you not become guilty by association with him.”
Selected Verses of the Week
1. You shall not pick your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger; I Adonai am your God. (Lev.19:10)
2. You shall not insult the deaf, or place a stumbling block before the blind. You shall fear your God: I am Adonai. (Lev. 19:14)
3. You shall rise before the aged and show deference to the old; you shall fear your God: I am Adonai. (Lev. 19:32)