Sunday, October 2, 2011

Not far from the apple tree . . .

On Rosh HaShana we read the story of Akeidat Yizhak – the Binding of Isaac.  This title begs the following question: If this was a test for this father, Abraham, why is called “the Binding of Isaac”? The storybook version of this biblical episode would have us believe that when the two men reached the top of the mountain where Abraham intended to fulfill G-d’s command and sacrifice Isaac, Abraham simply bound his son and prepared to complete this seemingly impossible task.  This over simplified version of the tale omits one crucial aspect.  Our rabbis teach us that, as he lay down to meet his maker, Isaac begged his father to be tied down.  Isaac did not intend running from his fate, he was 100% committed to the endeavor, but he feared that his body would unintentionally flinch during the ceremony and if any part of his body was blemished the sacrifice would be rendered impure.  Thus, as much as this was a test for the father, it was Isaac’s binding – his choice to remain devout to his faith – that was also being tested.  We each face our own challenges in life, and I firmly believe that the bond between parents and children is especially strong when it comes to tests of faith.  
When I first began coming to terms with my sexuality, one of my primary concerns was the result my coming-out would have on my parents’ stature in our community.  I feared that my parents would face criticism and would be judged harshly and I wanted no harm to befall them.  They say that an apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and that’s true.  I know that my strict adherence to my faith is because of the lessons I learned in my parents’ home.  I learned to love G-d, the Torah and the Jewish community as a whole, even when I do not understand or disagree with some aspect contained within any of those three.  Eventually I came to realize that, so long as I adhere to the principles set out for me by my parents, I will not disappoint them and they will not be ashamed, regardless of what anyone else may think or say.  
Over the past few weeks I’ve been grappling with the issue I presented in my last post.  Frum gay Jews comprising on aspects of their faith or observance because of their search for a significant other.  Now, for the purposes of full disclosure, there was a time when I myself believed that I could date someone less observant (or even non-Jewish) and that I would still be able to build a nice, Jewish home.  I abandoned that thought process when I returned to the moral compass set out for me by parents.  I set myself straight – pun intended – when I realized that conceding aspects of my identity and my observance was no way to build a future. 
 The dual test of Isaac and Abraham serves as a model for the  relationship between parents and gay frum children.  The struggle of being gay and frum is not an individual struggle.  The test this presents affects both the gay individual as well as his or her parents.  While our parents must accept us for who we are and trust us to make wise decisions, we should reciprocate by guiding our lives in a manner consistent with the morals they set out for us. 

Gmar Chatimah Tovah.  I wish you all a happy and health New Year and hope you will be inscribed only in the book of blessing and good fortune. 

P.S. Parents: If you are  interested in joining Tmicha, the online support community for parents of orthodox gay children, e-mail admin@jqyouth.org 

1 comment:

  1. baal toeva london ukOctober 11, 2011 at 4:34 AM

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