Seventeen Days of the Omer, Autonomy in the Balance

Today is seventeen days, which is two weeks and three days of the Omer 5782. תפארת שבתפארת. Beauty within Beauty. We are also witnessing the beginning of the end of bodily autonomy in the United States. Human rights are going to be stripped from people by the United States Supreme Court.

This year, I challenged myself to create seven meditations on a single side of each sefirot, even though they all contain a constellation of ideas. So for Tiferet, I solely wanted to speak about Beauty. I was going to ignore Compassion, which has a womb at the root of the word. And I wanted to ignore my other favorite aspece of this sefirah, Truth, which is so deeply embedded in how I approach the world. Perhaps I could knock out a few paragraphs on the essence of Beauty in the morning when the exhaustion has dissipated a bit?

Abortion is a Human Right. Reproductive Healthcare is Healthcare.

Roe v Wade was decided on the basis of the right to privacy. This Twitter thread provides an overview of the rulings that could be overturned based on throwing out this settled precedent.

Most critically, I want to say: my bodily autonomy is not up for debate. I am not moving from the fact that whatever healthcare a child-bearing person decides to make, that is a decision they choose alone. Every single person has the right to make their healthcare decisions for themselves.

I could tell you my own experiences with abortion, but I shouldn’t have to do that to convince someone that my body is my own business and child-bearing people are human beings who should not be treated as incapable of making their own healthcare decisions.

Religious Liberty is Secondary

To be clear: Jewish law is not made on the basis of poetry. The Psalter is not the origin of our law code. Within our Bible, it is *very* clear that life is always more important than potential life.

Also, since “conservatives” are so enamored with the idea of “original intent,” let’s remember that the concept of the soul did not exist when the Torah or the Psalms were written. Reading soul-language into the Bible is a retroactive continuity decision after Jews came in contact with Pagan Greeks and decided to appropriate the soul-concept into their civilization.

USA Today wrote a clear overview of the Jewish understanding that life does not begin at conception.

I oppose placing Christian theology above individual bodily autonomy. I oppose government deciding what healthcare human beings can choose to receive. And yes, I completely agree with the majority of rabbis throughout the centuries who have prioritized every woman’s life above the potential life that she may be carrying in her body. A woman can choose whatever medical procedure or medication is needed to protect her mental and physical health.

On the Beauty Front: A Magnificent Art Exhibit is Closing

Circling back to Tiferet ShebeTiferet, the Beauty within Beauty of the 17th day of the Omer.

Jenny Yurshansky‘s incredible exhibit is up for the next ten days at the American Jewish University. As explained in the Los Angeles Times review of Yurshansky’s solo exhibit, it is a timely piece that looks at what it means to be a refugee. She has one final artist talk scheduled for Mother’s Day and you don’t want to miss it if you’re in the LA area.

I have the distinct honor of knowing Ms. Yurshansky, as we went to junior high school together.

Previously on the 17th day of the Omer

Compassion and the Self-Reflective Act of Prayer, 5781 / 2021.

Explore the depths and limits of truth, 5780 / 2020.

Synthesizing grace and judgment, 5779 / 2019.

Sinking into beautiful truth, 5778 / 2018.

Reaching towards pure compassion, 5777 / 2017.


Image by Blandine Joannic via Pixabay.

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