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Torah QueeriesWeekly Commentaries on the Hebrew Bible$
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Gregg Drinkwater, Joshua Lesser, and David Shneer

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780814720127

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814720127.001.0001

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Nadav and Avihu and Dietary Laws: A Case of Action and Reaction

Nadav and Avihu and Dietary Laws: A Case of Action and Reaction

Parashat Shemini (Leviticus 9:1–11:47)

(p.135) Twenty-Six Nadav and Avihu and Dietary Laws: A Case of Action and Reaction
Torah Queeries

Tamar Kamionkowski

NYU Press

This chapter provides a queerly interpretation of Parashat Shemini of Leviticus. The text embraces and rejects the human impulse to recognize homoerotic passion as a holy act. In particular, the opening story of Nadav and Avihu offers a glimpse into the human impulse that break through a range of restrictions that societies place on individuals regarding gender-defined emotions and behavior. The rest of the Torah portion—which details the dietary laws—may be understood as an attempt to redirect human activity from fluid and passion-driven to regulated and staid. Thus, although it may seem that these two sections of this parasha are independent of each other, a queer reading of the text actually emphasizes the points of connection between the acts of Nadav and Avihu and the series of food-related prescriptions.

Keywords:   Parashat Shemini, Leviticus, homoerotic passion, human activity, parasha, Nadav, Avihu

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