Leviticus, I Hardly Knew Ya!

Saying baaaaaaaaaahhh baaaaaaaaaahhh to the Torah's middle book

black short coat medium dog with blue and black leash
white horse on green grass during daytime
black ram on green grass field during daytime

Can you believe it? We have passed through the Gate of the Goats.

We began by investigating the ways in which the Torah is a 🥪 sandwich🥪 and Leviticus is in the middle for a reason. We did an overview of the 🐐 sacrificial system 🐐, considered the ways in which civil disobedience—giving the State control of your body—is and is not a substitutionary act, and how 💕 acts of love are, and are not, korbanot/offerings.

As we looked at the anointing/ordination of priests, we looked at the history of messianism, at the High Priest’s groovy💎 divination 💎 tools, and I make the argument that behind the tragedy of Nadav and Avihu could be a story of the toxic mentorship—the same one that happens all too often today.

Our look at kosher laws occupy a heavy porg/vampire-themed territory, 🧛‍♀️ I talked about how 🦠 illness is and is not a metaphor, 🦠 and much later Rabbi Dr. Julia Watts Belser showed us a new way for thinking about bodies and blemishes and disability justice.

We talked about what tumah and taharah (“everyday states and elevated states”) are, about the very complex development of niddah (“menstrual stuff”) laws, as well as getting a sneak peek at’s work in progress on Queer Niddah (just subscribe to already). We also saw proof of the Torah’s narrative genius in its organization viz the Yom Kippur ritual, and why it demands integration of the High Priest, as well as the whole business about the Goat to Azazel, aka Appeasing Puppy Satan. 🐶😈

We talked about how that whole “male shall not lie with male as with female” verse 🏳️‍🌈probably doesn’t mean the homophobic things it’s used to mean, and how Maimonides and 90’s lez pop use the same tropes about women’s same-sex activity 🏳️‍🌈 (and why) (and also some reflections on the reason “dyke” never stuck).

Then we got into the “H” section of Leviticus, and talked about the concept of the holy, looked at ✊ labor justice in the tradition and 🛏️ Jewish sexual ethics,🛏️ the “great mitzvah” of redeeming captives and the cash bail system.

And then we got to Leviticus 19. In some ways, 🎯the point of everything.🎯 It undergirds the radical theology of Mr. Rogers, it teaches us how and why we demand accountability from one another, and teaches us that we must love im/migrants as citizens. 💞💞💞

👁️ We complicated old thinking about an “eye for an eye” 👁️ and embraced rabbinic “textual activism,” and looked at how the Torah does 💰 💰 systemic economic justice. 💰💰

And along the way there were some other things, like a text study of the Southern Baptist Convention’s resolutions on abortion, an overview of how Jews read text, 🗡️ Judith’s sword-wielding, head-chopping 🗡️ story, something on 🕎 Hanukah and adult faith, a🍷 history of Purim Torah (uh, sacred text satire) 🍷, a feminist theory of leavening/chametz 🍞, leadership lessons from the prophet Miriam,🚰 the surprisingly relatable letters of biblical-era Jews, we got Kendra Watkins Saperstein’s brilliant Reading the Torah Towards Liberation, we looked at the sexual violence of Lamentations and mourned Shuhada' Sadaqat (nee Sinéad O’Connor)

And some highlights from the Subscriber House of Study:

The goats are very proud of you for making it so far.

Next stop: Numbers/Bamidbar, but a few delightful diversions for a few weeks, first.

black and white goat on brown soil during daytime


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