An anonymous listserv for observant LGBT Jews has lately been having some security issues. Spammers have been emailing out unpleasant words, including the standard diatribes against homosexuality. Some of the content of these messages, however, is funnier—a word-for-word copy of an invitation to the NYC pride march, except with incorrect meeting locations noted. A solicitation for an “orthoprax friend with benefits” (what would this relationship entail, talking to each other?) that came complete with a nude photo. I’m sworn to secrecy about what happens on the listserv, but these emails haven’t actually come through the listserv infrastructure, and that’s why, after talking to the moderator, I feel comfortable revealing their content. This situation illustrates the problem with the quasi-anonymous space that gay Jews have constructed as our “community” online.
I delivered this Dvar Torah at Saturday morning services during this past weekend’s KOACH Kallah at the University of Pennsylvania.
In this week’s parsha, Terumah, some of the details we read about the construction of the mishkan deal with the adornments on ארון העדות. Specifically, there are instructions about the figured to be placed on top of the ark: two כרובים, cherubim, commonly understood to be creatures which possess human heads and animal bodies.
“Make two cherubim of gold,” we read. “They shall confront each other, the faces of the cherubim being turned toward the cover. Place the cover on top of the Ark, after depositing inside the Ark the Pact that I will give you. There I will meet with you, and I will impart to you—from above the cover, from between the two cherubim that are on top of the Ark of the Pact—all that I will command you concerning the Israelite people.”
So you have the image in your head. Two sphinx-like figures face each otherin hebrew, “ופניהם These statues are on top of the ark in which the Torah is held. And when God .”איש אל אחיו speaks to Moses, his revelation emanates from between these two figures.
What’s going on here?