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TEXT STUDY FOOD FOR THOUGHT Another way to add to your Shabbat table is by bringing a piece of Torah for your guests to learn together. We have included discussion questions along with the text in order to help get the conversation flowing. This piece of text may or may not seem familiar to you. Hillel was one of the most influential Jewish religious leaders in Jewish history. One of the sayings he is most well known for is the one below.

Pirkei Avot, Chapter 1, Mishnayot 14 . Hu haya omer: Im ayn ani li, mi li? Ookh’she’ani l’ahtzme, mah li? V’im lo akhashav, aimatai? Rabbi Hillel used to say: If I am not for me, who will be for me? And when I am for myself alone, what am I? And if not now, then when?

These words arguably give us all the information that we need to know in order to create a balanced life and a balanced world. Many other spiritual teachings advise us to give up our ego and rise above the earthly concerns, to give to others without thinking about ourselves. Through this text, Hillel says do it all! Make sure we get what we need. Make sure others get what they need. And make sure it happens now. When are you there for yourself? When do you put others first? When do you find it difficult to be for yourself and for others simultaneously? What have you been putting off? What are you putting it off for? Which of the three statements resonates most with you? Do you have this balance in your life? If so, how did you accomplish that? If not, what is stopping you from being able to? How can you increase the amount of time and energy you spend on finding this balance?

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A "Commentary" on Leviticus 19 by Rabbi Lisa A. Edwards Head Rabbi, Beth Chayim Chadashim Los Angeles, CA (Known in Judaism as “The Holiness Code”) We are your gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered children: “You must not seek vengeance, nor bear a grudge against the children of your people.” [Leviticus 19:18] We are your bi, trans, lesbian and gay parents: “Revere your mother and your father, each one of you.” [19:3] We are elderly lesbians, bisexuals, gay men, and transgendered people: “You shall rise before the aged and show deference to the old.” [19:32] We are the stranger: “You must not oppress the stranger.” “You shall love the stranger as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” [19:34] We are lesbian, gay, trans, and bi Jews: “You must not go about slandering your kin.” [19:16] We are your trans, gay, bi, and lesbian siblings: “You shall not hate your brother or sister in your heart.” [19:17] We are lesbian, gay, trans, and bi victims of gay-bashing and murder: “You may not stand by idly when your neighbor’s blood is being shed.” [19:16] We are your bi, gay, trans, and lesbian neighbors: “You must not oppress your neighbor.” [19:13] “You must judge your neighbor justly.” [19:15] “You shall love your neighbor as you love yourself.” [19:18] The book of Leviticus in the Hebrew Scriptures has traditionally been used to exclude LGBTQ+ people from Judaism. This beautiful piece of liturgy places all LGBTQ+ people into the center of Judaism’s quintessential Holiness Code. After reading this, take a few moments to experience the reality of LGBTQ+ people who many assume do not deserve any type of holiness. What can you do to correct that belief? Have you ever been treated with disrespect for the very essence of who you are? How have you processed that experience? What was your reaction to the person or people who were targeting you? What messages did you tell yourself after those experiences?

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Pirkei Avot, Chapter 2, Mishnayot 16

Rebbi Tarfon omer: Hayom katzar, ham’lakha m’rubah, hapoalim ah’tzeilim, has’khar harbeh, v’Ba’al HaBayit dokhek. Hu haya omer: Lo ahlekha ham’lachah ligor, lo atah ben khorim lebateil mimenah. Rebbi Tarfon said: The day is short and the work is so much, the workers are lazy, the reward is great, and the Master of the House is insistent. He used to say: It is not your responsibility to finish the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.

What work have you begun that you want to continue doing? Is there any work you want to do that you haven't begun yet? What are the projects in the LGBTQ+ community you are passionate about starting or continuing? What kind of help/collaboration do you need to do that? What kind of help/collaboration do you need to accomplish these projects?

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OneTable x JQ International Pride Text Study  
OneTable x JQ International Pride Text Study