Your mother, stepmother, sister, half-sister, aunt, granddaughter, sister-in-law and daughter-in-law are not relatives you should marry or have sexual relations with according to the instructions given through Moses to the Israelites in the sedra of Acharei Mot. We can infer from this that the same would apply to one’s father, stepfather, brother, etc. Following similar logic, all these relatives should not marry or have sexual relations with you. Personally, I have never been tempted to marry my half-sister, for all the affection I feel for her and, while one day, I hope to have grandchildren I am confident I won’t want to marry any of them. Animals are also forbidden partners. I can safely say that the very idea fills me with horror.
None of the above is problematic and for the vast majority, if not all, of our people has never been so. One’s neighbour’s spouse is more tricky, and there may have been some slippage here, even while the offending parties have realised that what they are doing is not right. More difficult for Reform and similar (and perhaps for some Orthodox) Jews has been the prohibition against relations with the same sex. We accept people’s right to make choices based on their sexual identity. The important thing is to respect and honour one’s partner, whoever they may be. How do we reconcile our belief and practice with what it says in the Torah?
Acharei Mot also deals with the Yom Kippur service, the slaughtering of animals and the stamping out of idolatrous sacrificial practices. There is much to consider, and our service leader, Pat Lipert, will make her own wise and considered choice of what to focus on and how. Our Saturday service starts at 10:30. This Shabbat will also be the last day of Pesach, so no leaven for lunch please.