Three questions (three answers)

This week's portion: leaving Mitzrayim

The folks at the Torah Queeries project at Jewish Mosaic asked me to write a d'var Torah for this week's portion, Acharei Mot.

This is a notoriously difficult parsha to read in a queer-friendly way, so I approached it with some trepidation. The path in which I finally found has to do with where the portion falls on our festival calendar. The "holiness code" is prefaced by a reminder not to copy the practices of Mitzrayim where we dwelt, and we read it this week on the cusp of our annual recreation of our departure from Mitzrayim in its many forms.

What intrigues me this year is the framing device, that mention of Mitzrayim. Especially because we're reading this Torah portion on the cusp of the transition into Pesach. At our seders we celebrate our liberation from slavery. We are each called to see ourselves as if we ourselves had been liberated from Mitzrayim: not our ancestors, not some mythic predecessors, but us, you and me, right here and right now. Mitzrayim has many forms. Maybe we're enslaved to the Pharaoh of overwork. Maybe we're enslaved to the Pharaoh of unreal expectations. Maybe we labor at pretending we're someone we're not. Maybe we're hiding something about who we really are, afraid to be "out" in all of our complexities.

Read the whole thing here: Returning to Mitzrayim.

I'm not sure whether I'll have the chance to post again before the holiday; Shabbat is almost upon us, and Pesach will follow right on its heels. So I'll take this chance to offer one last link to the Velveteen Rabbi's Haggadah for Pesach (if you use it, please drop me a line or a comment and let me know your thoughts!), and to wish all of you a sweet, uplifting, and meaningful Passover. May we all find ourselves able to take steps toward liberation.

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