Giants in the Land – LGBT Rights Torah Style

Double Mitzvah Jewrotica Parsha

Simone Schicker is a second year rabbinic student at HUC-JIR. Her favorite area to read and write about is Judaism and relationships – including women and LGBTQ issues, reproductive rights, sex, gender identity and marriage.

Rated PG
This week’s parasha (portion) is Shelach Lecha and is well known as the parasha where Moses sends spies into the land of Canaan, as instructed by G-d. The spies come back, and ten out of the twelve report that while the land is good, there are Niphalim (demi-gods or giants) in the land – along with many peoples who would overpower the Israelites. Only Caleb and Joshua state that the people should go into the land because G-d is on their side. G-d becomes angry with the people and tells them that none of the people who left Egypt, besides Joshua, will be allowed to enter the land, but rather that they will all wander in the desert until the next generation is ready to lead.

G-d knew that the only way for the Israelites to be able to have a fresh start in the land of Canaan was to not allow any of the former slaves into the land. As freed slaves, the Israelites had a mindset that not even G-d could change. This is comparable to the struggles we hear and read about in the news in regards to LGBT issues. Whether it is the need for non-discrimination laws and ordinances, the same-sex marriage fight or the deaths that occur as a result of bullying and fighting, there is still a long way to go in the fight for full rights for LGBT persons.

We cannot wait for the previous generations to step down from their leadership roles before pushing for change, but we can raise the generations after us to view all people as equal regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. It is the responsibility of each and every person to stand up for what they believe and to fight for what they think is right. If we take things for granted we will lose them, and all the work of previous generations will have been for naught.

G-d understood that one cannot force change upon a group of people, and that G-d would have to wait until the next generation was old enough to lead before granting the Israelites the right to the land. Just as we know that change occurs gradually, and that it is up to the younger generations to continue the push forward towards a time when all people will be viewed as individuals with the right to decide for themselves who they are and what they believe. No one can force their beliefs upon another, but we all can fight for our right to make our own decisions and for the right to not be discriminated against based on something which is a part of our deepest selves.

Shabbat Shalom!

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