The Haggadah and Gays

May 17th, 2007

The Passover Haggadah provides an interesting context for the comments of Phillip N. Jacobs ’79 on gay synagogues and gay people (Mailroom, March/April).  He writes: “[H]omosexuals, like all people, are G-d’s creations, and as such we must treat them with kindness.  However ... it must be clear that their behavior is ... not to be condoned.”  In this, he shows himself to be equivalent to the wicked son of the Haggadah, the one who asks, in the words of the Haggadah, “‘What mean you by this service?’ By the word ‘you,’ it is clear he doth not include himself, and thus hath withdrawn himself from the community.” By seeing himself as part of a “we” who feels entitled to treat “them” in a certain way and judge “their” behavior, Jacobs betrays the exclusionary attitude of the wicked son. The wise son of the Haggadah story would probably ask, “How shall we understand those of us who are homosexual?” thus including all in the bosom of the Jewish community. That is the true spirit of Judaism. By the way, even the Haggadah can’t contextualize the ignorance of one of Jacobs’s other points. Very few Jewish scholars, now or in the past, have interpreted the sin of S’dom as primarily one of homosexual behavior.  That is a later Christian interpretation.

Lawrence Jurrist ’70

Hollywood, Fla

What do you think?
See what other readers are saying about this article and add your voice. 
Related Issue
May / June 2007