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Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

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Question 12.28:
What does the Torah mean by Abomination?


What the Torah calls a "Toevah" (tav vav ayin bet hey. from the root "taav"-tav ayin bet) is usually translated as "abomination". The term is typically used in the Torah proper (the first five Books of the Bible) to refer to extremely serious offenses which completely undermine the basis of any conceivably sound religious or moral society from G-d's standpoint. Among the offenses are male homosexual acts, idolatry, and child sacrifice. Idolatry and child sacrifice are particularly identified with the Canaanites, and are cited as grounds for their being dispossessed by the People of Israel in the Land of Israel after the Exodus from Egypt. In the Prophets, the meaning is extended to include moral depavity (such as murder and oppression of the poor and weak, and sexual offenses such as infidelity and promiscuity) on the part of those meticulous in their ritual observance (particularly in terms of bringing Offerings to the Temple). It must be stressed that the Prophets are not in the least opposed to meticulous ritual observance. They simply feel that those who are so careful in these matters should be equally careful in terms of interpersonal mitzvot ("commandments"), which are also mandated by the Torah.

The FAQ is a collection of documents that is an attempt to answer questions that are continually asked on the soc.culture.jewish family of newsgroups. It was written by cooperating laypeople from the various Judaic movements. You should not make any assumption as to accuracy and/or authoritativeness of the answers provided herein. In all cases, it is always best to consult a competent authority--your local rabbi is a good place to start.

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