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What Would Rashi Say About Drag Queens?

One of the things I have always loved about Judaism is its dynamic, evolving nature—rich with tradition, but always cognizant of how important it is that the tradition be made relevant to our contemporary era. The existence of Midrash and … Read More

By / April 24, 2007

One of the things I have always loved about Judaism is its dynamic, evolving nature—rich with tradition, but always cognizant of how important it is that the tradition be made relevant to our contemporary era. The existence of Midrash and Talmud, for example, remind us that there are gaps and silences in the Hebrew bible to which we must respond.

 The sages have said, “Turn it and turn it, for everything is contained in it,” and an article in Lilith’s “Navigating Sexuality” section proves that, indeed, everything is in Torah—even the possibility of blessings to be recited before and after sex-change operations or other moments of transition from one identity to another. Crazy, huh?

When we take steps, physically or spiritually, to more fully manifest our gender identities, we are fulfilling the commandment “to partner with God in completing the work of creation.”

 The article, of course, mentions the Midrash (I think it’s Rashi, but my Artscroll is forever disappearing) that says, in an attempt to make sense of the two conflicting creation accounts in the first two chapters of Genesis, that the first human being was an androgynous being.  

To be recited before the moment of transition: 

Barukh Ata Adonai Eloheinu Melekh Ha-Olam, Ha’Ma’avir L’Ovrim. Blessed are You, Eternal One, our God, Ruler of Time and Space, the Transforming One to those who transition/transform/cross over.

 To be recited after the transition: 

Barukh Ata Adonai Eloheinu Melekh Ha-Olam Sh’asani B’tzalmo v’kirtzonah. Blessed are You, Eternal One, our God, Ruler of Time and Space, Who has made me in His image and according to Her will. 

Barukh Ata Adonai Eloheinu Melekh Ha-Olam Sh’hechianu,v’kiyimanu, m’gigiyanu, la-zman hazeh. Blessed are You, Eternal One, our God, Ruler of Time and Space, Who has kept us alive and sustained us and helped us to arrive at this moment.

 Now, truly, I think this is great. But the bad person inside of me wonders if it’s really worth the drag queen’s time to recite this blessing every time (s)he gets all fancied up. I actually went to a Halloween party last year as a drag queen wearing a giant, platinum-blonde wig. It was very complicated — woman pretending to be man pretending to be woman. It was a great costume, though people kept asking me if I was supposed to be Christina Aguilera or Gwen Stefani.

And, this is kind of gross, but I stumbled on this blog about a sex-change operation done on a cat by a veterinarian, pictures and all. There’s got to be a blessing for this as well . . .

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