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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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From Impurity to Blessing

From Impurity to Blessing

Parashat Naso (Numbers 4:21–7:89)

(p.192) Thirty-Five From Impurity to Blessing
Torah Queeries

Toba Spitzer

NYU Press

This chapter provides a queerly interpretation of Parashat Naso of Numbers. The text instructs to remove from the camp anyone—male and female alike—with an “eruption” or a discharge and anyone defiled by a corpse “so that they do not defile the camp of those in whose midst [God] dwell.” This state of “defilement” is called tum'ah, a kind of ritual impurity that can be conveyed from one person to another and that precludes the “impure” person from having any contact with the realm of the holy—most specifically, the Tabernacle and its environs. Hence, the person in a state of tum'ah can be likened to LGBT people: subversive and potentially contagious individuals who are considered threat to society.

Keywords:   Parashat Naso, Numbers, tum'ah, LGBT people, Tabernacle, defilement

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