Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.
Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land the LORD swore to give your ancestors, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth. Deuteronomy 18-21
I love doorways. New entrances, new beginnings. I love the feel, the mystique, the smell of walking into somewhere I’ve never been before. I love the comfort, the peace, the homecoming of walking through a doorway I walk through every day.
I’ve gone through a lot of important doorways in my life. We all have – birth, marriage, our first apartments, our first homes. We go through spiritual doorways – baptism, conversion, confirmation. We go through psychological doorways as we come out of the closet, out of unhealthy relationships, into something new and healthy and beautiful.
Torah teaches Jews that we must write the commandments on our doorposts so that we will never forget what the Lord has done for us. As a woman, as a convert, as a (mostly) homosexual, as a Jew – I believe that there are other reasons to write the commandments on our doorposts.
Consider the words of Marge Piercy, in her poem “Sabbath of Mutual Respect”:
Praise our choices, sisters, for each doorway
open to us was taken by squads of fighting
women who paid years of trouble and struggle,
who paid their wombs, their sleep, their lives
that we might walk through these gates upright.
Doorways are sacred to women for we
are the doorways of life and we must choose
what comes in and what goes out. Freedom
is our real abundance.
Women or men, gay straight or somewhere in between, black, white, blue or green – all of our doorways have been built on the sacrifice of others. The decree that we must write the commandments upon our doorframes must be about more than remembering the deeds of the Lord as they are written in Torah. The decree must also be about remembering all of those who came before us and allowed us the magic of the doorway. It must be about gratitude for the ways in which God works through people, about the sacrifices our sisters and brothers have gone through to allow us the doorways we walk through. I am a Jewish convert because others converted before me. I bring a girlfriend to synagogue and am comfortable because someone else was uncomfortable before me. I read and interpret Torah as a woman because other women fought for that right before me.
Spend a day paying attention to the doorways in your life. See where you walk and what you walk through. Be thankful. Be grateful. Remember those who sacrificed so that you can choose which doorways you walk through and which choices you make. This, I believe, is the call from Deuteronomy. Remember, all the days of your life, the works of the Lord and those who came before you.