EILU V’EILU: YOUR WHOLE SELF BELONGS HERE
Eilu v’Eilu literally translated means “both these and those.” The origin story of this phrase is symbolic of a fundamental Jewish value: the notion that conflicting ideas can simultaneously be true. We learn that Hillel and Shamai (two of the most notorious debaters in the history of the Talmud) disagreed on a legal statute, and fiercely argued over their opinions – each of which they held as deeply true. Just then, a booming voice came forth and proclaimed, “both these and those are the living words of God.” (Eruvin 13b) Both ideas, though seemingly in conflict, were true at the same time.
Eilu v’Eilu. Eilu v’Eilu affirms both Jewish and queer values. Identities live in dialectics, not binaries. We can feel joy and sadness, masculine and feminine, belief and doubt, allegiance and resistance all at the same time – and still claim authenticity.Within a single individual, there can be various identities that seem to conflict.
Eilu v’Eilu — each identity can exist within a person and be true, even when that feels contradictory to another part of the self. Similarly, many people with different backgrounds, opinions, beliefs, and identities can be in a space together – and while there might seem to be a clash in the room, each person and all that they carry belongs in that space and is valid.
Eilu v’Eilu – even in times when you feel you are at battle with your own self, and even in times when you feel you don’t belong in a space with the other people there – your whole self belongs.
You are not alone.