There seems to be important connections between today’s Talmud portion and the Twin Cities Pride celebration.
At the most basic level, the message of GLBTQ pride is one of radical equality. It is based on the the idea that we are all human and all entitled to the same human rights: to love, to be loved, to be safe, and to be respected.
In the Talmud section [see below] for today (Taanit 18) we have a powerful prayer that was said by Yehuda ben Shammua and his colleagues, protesting restrictive laws placed on the Jewish community by Roman authorities.
They cried out:
Are we not brothers? Are we not children of one father? Are we not children of one mother? How are we different from any other peoples and languages that we are singled out for oppressive laws?
What a powerful argument to universal principals of equality.
Is this why Jewish communities have been such strong advocates for human rights? Did the rabbis of the Talmud provide a clear argument for marriage equality? Is it just a coincidence that the Twin Cities held their parade on the same day as that section of the Talmud is studied? (Ok, that last one is a bit of a stretch.)
What do you think, connection or coincidence?
(Also, I will share more thoughts from the Daf Yomi via twitter where you can follow me @RabbiAlanSL.
The Daily Talmud portion I’m referring to is part of the Daf Yomi daily study program of the entire Talmud. This one page at time learning is coordinated world-wide, and takes seven an a half years to complete. We are currently examining fast days and the way they intersect with different holidays, and different parts of the ancient Jewish community. If you are interested in jumping in, I recommend the podcast Daily Daf Differently. For a great English/Hebrew text, see the Noé Edition of the Koren Talmud.