1. Standard memberfrogstomp
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    10 Mar '07 21:33
    "Once upon a time.................."
  2. Joined
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    10 Mar '07 23:21
    In the beginnig God...
  3. Standard memberfrogstomp
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    10 Mar '07 23:49
    Originally posted by josephw
    In the beginnig God...
    Yes , that's the guy , the Alpha and Omerta
  4. Standard memberKellyJay
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    11 Mar '07 00:01
    Originally posted by frogstomp
    Yes , that's the guy , the Alpha and Omerta
    Yea, the reason for all the seasons. 🙂
    Kelly
  5. Standard memberfrogstomp
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    11 Mar '07 00:13
    Originally posted by KellyJay
    Yea, the reason for all the seasons. 🙂
    Kelly
    the big raisin cane
  6. Hmmm . . .
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    11 Mar '07 02:16
    Originally posted by frogstomp
    "Once upon a time.................."
    One Shabbos afternoon, Reb Reuven called me into is study. He was sitting behind his desk and motioned me to take the chair across from him. A volume of the Zohar was lying open in front of him.

    “Do you know what the Zohar is?” he asked.

    “Of course,” I said. “It is a mystical commentary on Torah written by Moshe deLeon, a thirteenth century Spanish kabbalist who....”

    “Nonsense!” he yelled at me, half rising out of his chair. “The Zohar isn’t just a commentary; it’s a Torah all by itself. It is a new Torah, a new telling of the last Torah. You do know what Torah is, don’t you?”

    Suspecting that I didn’t, and afraid to invoke his wrath a second time, I waited silently, certain that he would answer his own question. I was not disappointed.

    “Torah is story. God is story. Israel is story. You, my university-educated soon-to-be a liberal pain in the ass rabbi, are a story. We are all stories! We are all Torahs!...Listen, Rami,” Reuven said in a softer voice. “Torah starts with the word b’reisheet, ‘Once upon a time!’

    —Rabbi Rami Shapiro, Hasidic Tales
  7. Joined
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    11 Mar '07 02:18
    Originally posted by vistesd
    One Shabbos afternoon, Reb Reuven called me into is study. He was sitting behind his desk and motioned me to take the chair across from him. A volume of the Zohar was lying open in front of him.

    “Do you know what the Zohar is?” he asked.

    “Of course,” I said. “It is a mystical commentary on Torah written by Moshe deLeon, a thirteenth century Spanish k ...[text shortened]... rts with the word b’reisheet, [b]‘Once upon a time!’


    —Rabbi Rami Shapiro, Hasidic Tales[/b]
    This is fiction right?
  8. Hmmm . . .
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    11 Mar '07 03:09
    Originally posted by josephw
    This is fiction right?
    Actually, not. First, there is the whole paradigm of Jewish exegesis, which is so different from most Christian exegesis. As rabbi and scholar Marc Alain-Ouaknin put it, the thrust of Jewish exegesis is to avoid the “idolatry of the one right meaning.” I don’t have the time now, but I’ve posted on this before—this really goes to how the Hebrew language works. (Basically, no Hebrew word in the original scrolls has a single meaning, let alone a completely accurate single-word translation. The Hebrew language wasn’t even vowelized until between the third and fifth centuries, C.E.—without vowels, each Hebrew word has multiple meanings; hence, so does each verse, etc.) Christians by and large (except for some of the very early ones, perhaps) have never understood how to read Torah!

    The point is that we are all stories. The rabbis say that we must bring our own personal “torah” to the (written ) Torah, and that true torah is continually formed and expanded as a result of that. Story is not mere fiction. Story is what and how we live. You are living a “once upon a time” story—a true myth; more than chronological events, but an adventure, full of comedy and tragedy and fear and joy... Do not make the mistake of thinking that when I use terms like “story” or “myth” that I mean anything trivial: compared to a profoundly articulated “once upon a time” myth, a newspaper article is trivial... Do you really think there is any newspaper article, or a written biography that would fit into appropriate book-length, that would capture the fullness of your life’s story? The events and the feelings and the thoughts—all the complexities?

    The phrase “once upon a time” signals a story whose truths are not merely dependent upon this historical fact, or that one—but have a certain “timelessness” as regards the human condition, and our place in the cosmos. These stories—the good, the bad and the ugly—speak to deeper levels of the human consciousness and condition than history texts. Reb Reuven is restoring these texts to the profundity of myth, so they can speak to all (but that also means that we have the responsibility of bringing ourselves to the texts—we cannot leave our moral sensitivities behind; these texts are meant to be engaged, not simply read and agreed to; we should be prepared to argue even with God, as Avraham did).

    “In the beginning” or “once upon a time”—these phrases signal that you are entering a realm removed from history, that transcends historical facticity. You must enter these stories with your whole self—you must be prepared to make your argument within them, not simply accept them like pabulum fed to a baby. Remember that Judaism is not a religion of submission, but of covenant—a covenant in which both parties must exercise their full range of voice. If you remain silent before YHVH out of fright—or even reverence—then you are remiss. YHVH commands that you bring your torah to the Torah, that you make your argument. The whole torah is incomplete without your torah—and your torah is not finished yet.

    “Once upon a time there lived a man named josephw”—that, in itself, would be a fitting epitaph: that you earned with your life the words “once upon a time...”

    ___________________________________

    Sorry, josephw—that’s a lot to dump without the background material. I can re-post some of my earlier stuff on this, and on traditional Jewish exegesis of the scripture (the written torah)—but I haven’t time at the moment.

    Hey! Aren’t you supposed to be at a conference...? 😉
  9. Joined
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    11 Mar '07 03:24
    Originally posted by vistesd
    Actually, not. First, there is the whole paradigm of Jewish exegesis, which is so different from most Christian exegesis. As rabbi and scholar Marc Alain-Ouaknin put it, the thrust of Jewish exegesis is to avoid the “idolatry of the one right meaning.” I don’t have the time now, but I’ve posted on this before—this really goes to how the Hebrew language wo ...[text shortened]... )—but I haven’t time at the moment.

    Hey! Aren’t you supposed to be at a conference...? 😉
    Ya, but there's a computer in the lobby.

    When you have time could you send that material to my site message place? I'd like to see more.
  10. Hmmm . . .
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    11 Mar '07 03:52
    Originally posted by josephw
    Ya, but there's a computer in the lobby.

    When you have time could you send that material to my site message place? I'd like to see more.
    Here’s an overview (shamelessly cut & pasted from an earlier post)—

    Actually, the “problem” is that Hebrew has too much meaning. It seems to be a “depth language”: each word has layers of meanings and possibilities, that are not translatable into a singular word in English. This is why Judaism is essentially a “hermeneutic religion,” in the words of a rabbi at the Jewish Theological Seminary (actually, I think he was the head of the seminary). Hermeneutic means interpretive, and in the case of talmid torah (Torah study), this means discovering and exploring all the possible interpretations—and spinning new ones as well.

    [Note: “Torah” in rabbinical Judaism refers to the “dual Torah,” both written (“biblical&rdquo😉 and the oral tradition, exemplified by the Talmuds. The most particular style of Jewish exegesis is called “midrash.”]

    Traditionally, there are four levels of interpretation to any Hebrew text. Altogether, they are called PaRDeS. Pardes means orchard or garden, and the word here is an acronym for:

    P’shat: The surface, plain or “literalistic” meaning of the given verse or text.

    Remez: Hinted or allusive understandings, with the clues given in the text itself.

    D’rash: A deeper meaning, which may not even be hinted at by the given text itself, but may be gleaned, for instance, by looking at other texts.

    [/i]Sod[/i]: The mystical, hidden meaning of the text.

    The idea is to read “down” into the texts. It might be similar to an Ignatian “lectio divina.”

    Preliminaries

    There is a Talmudic story: Some rabbis are arguing over an interpretation of Torah. Rabbi Eleazer put forth an interpretation that all the other rabbis disagreed with. R. Eleazer therefore called forth a series of miracles to prove his point—“If I am correct, let this stream run backwards!” etc.—but the others were not impressed. Finally, R. Eleazer cried: “If my Torah is correct, let a voice (echo) from heaven descend and declare it so!” Whereupon a heavenly voice said: “Why are you arguing? The Torah has always meant what Rabbi Eleazer says it does.” At that point, Rabbi Joshua jumped up and shouted, “It is not in heaven!”

    Meaning? Torah was given to men to interpret without any heavenly meddling. Later, one of the rabbis died and met Elijah in heaven. He asked Elijah what God’s response was when the rabbis declared, “It is not in heaven”? Elijah said, “The Blessed Holy One just laughed, saying ‘My children have bested me! My children have bested me!!’”

    “Why are the words of Torah like fire? A fire is built of many logs and the words of Torah survive only through many minds.” (tractate Ta’anit)

    “Whenever a man studies words of Torah, he is certain to find a meaning in them.” (tractate Eruvin)

    Rav Hisda said: “To learn Torah…it is better to go to several teachers. The many different explanations will help to give you understanding.” (tractate Avodah Zarah)

    “The words of Torah are fruitful and multiply!” (tractate Hagigah)

    “He who toils in Torah and discovers in it new meanings that are true contributes new Torah which is treasured by the congregation of Israel.” (the Zohar)

    “A place has been left for me to labor in it [the Torah].” (tractate Hullin)

    --Talmudic quotes from The Talmudic Anthology, Louis I. Newman, ed.

    ***********************************

    A further note on Hebrew

    “To avoid the trap of idolatry—the illusion of possessing the meaning—Hebrew tradition has introduced the idea of levels of meaning.” (Marc-Alain Ouaknin, The Burnt Book: Reading the Talmud) This is based on the language itself. As noted above, Hebrew is more of a “depth language” than a “precision” language. Words have layers of meanings, which deepen and expand in association with other words, phrases, etc.

    Examples: (1) In original Biblical Hebrew, there are no vowels (although certain consonants can sometimes substitute for vowels. The “Masoretic” system of vowel points was a later development (about the 8th century, CE). Even such a seeming vowel as aleph can be pronounced as ah, oh, or eh, depending on how it is “pointed.” (2) Each Hebrew word is based on a consonantal root (usually, but not always, 3 letters). All words sharing the same root have associated meanings; they are “related.” Thus, “Shalom” (SH-L-M root; generally translated as “peace,” but also meaning wholeness, harmony and well-being) and “Shalem” (same root, generally translated as “wholeness,” but also meaning peace, harmony, well-being); each word gives a different emphasis on the same complex of underlying meanings.. (3) Each Hebrew letter is also a number, and the “number games” that can be played with words is called “gematria.”

    The point is that traditional Jewish exegesis is radically different from most Christian approaches, and has been for more than two millennia (although at least some of the early church “fathers,” such as St. Gregory of Nyssa, seemed to take a more midrashic approach; cf. Gregory’s The Life of Moses; also, Talmudic scholar and rabbi Jacob Neusner considers the Gospel of Matthew to be a midrashic “type;” Jacob Neusner, What is Midrash?). My purpose here is to give a “taste” of that different approach.

    ________________________________

    “The scroll of the Torah is written without vowels, so you can read it variously. Without vowels, the consonants bear many meanings and splinter into sparks.* That is why the Torah scroll must not be vowelized, for the meaning of each word accords with its vowels. Once vowelized, a word means just one thing. Without vowels, you can understand it in countless, wondrous ways.”

    —Bahya ben Asher (13th-14th centuries), quoted in Daniel Matt, The Essential Kabbalah.

    Also: “The Torah scroll may not be vowelized—so that we can interpret every single word according to every possible reading.” (Jacob ben Sheshet, quoted by Matt in a footnote to the above quote.)

    Of course, the Masoretes, by deciding on vowel-pointing, decided the standard or conventional interpretation for the “plain reading” ( ha p’shat). This vowel-pointing shows up in the printed texts, but the Torah scrolls remain unpointed.

    There are lots of examples in Midrash and Talmud and Kabbalistic texts such as ha Zohar that go something like: “Do not read [word with standard vowel-pointing]. Rather, read [alternative word with changed vowel-pointing].”

    * Probable reference to the netzotzim ha’kodesh, “sparks of holiness” or holy sparks—splinters of the Or ein sof, light (or energy) of the divine-infinite, hidden in the husk(s) or shell(s) kellipot of the physical world. Spiritual tikkun (repair, healing) consists of “releasing the sparks.”

    _______________________________

    The following might provide a light example. It is resurrected from the “Elisha and the Bears” thread, where it was posted in response to bbarr’s insistent question: “Why 42, dammit?”

    *******************************************

    Elisha and the Bears

    Second Kings: 23 He went up from there to Bethel; and while he was going up on the way, some small boys came out of the city and jeered at him, saying, "Go away, baldhead! Go away, baldhead!"
    24 When he turned around and saw them, he cursed them in the name of YHVH. Then two she-bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the boys.


    In Hebrew, each letter also stands for a number (there are no numerals in Biblical Hebrew). Now, the word for bear is spelled dalet bet (DB, pronounced dob. Dalet is the fourth letter of the Hebrew alphabet, bet is the second letter: 4 and 2.

    The words used to identify the number of children in the story are arba’im v’sheni. arba’im is the plural form of arba, which means four-fold, quadruple, a four-count; hence, arba’im was used for the word “forty.” v’sheni means “and a double.”

    A Jewish reader schooled in Hebrew would recognize the complex pun on the word dob, meaning bear, but also the numerals 4 and 2, and arba’im v’sheni, forty-two. Traditional midrashic exegesis gets a lot of mileage out of such word-plays.

    Since Hebrew is based on a consonantal root system (usually three, but in this case two), words with the same consonantal roots can be related, regardless of the order of the letters. Now, the word spelled bet-dalet (BD, the same letters as dob, but reversed), also means idle talk or prattle. It does not seem beyond the bounds of midrashic exegesis to propose that this verse means, symbolically, that “idle chatter ate them up,” the idle chatter being their poking fun at Elisha.

    Again, the Jewish tradition is not to look for “the one right meaning,” but all the possible meanings, looking for symbolism, metaphor, allegories, word-plays, even puns. This example may seem fanciful—and perhaps brings a “fairy-tale” like quality to the story—but….

    ______________________________________

    You might also want to look at this thread, entitlked “A Playful Midrash for Shabbos” (with some insightful commentary from FreakyKBH and lucisfershammer:

    http://www.redhotpawn.com/board/showthread.php?threadid=38147
  11. Joined
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    11 Mar '07 13:41
    Originally posted by vistesd
    Here’s an overview (shamelessly cut & pasted from an earlier post)—

    Actually, the “problem” is that Hebrew has too much meaning. It seems to be a “depth language”: each word has layers of meanings and possibilities, that are not translatable into a singular word in English. This is why Judaism is essentially a “hermeneutic religion,” in the word ...[text shortened]... akyKBH and lucisfershammer:

    http://www.redhotpawn.com/board/showthread.php?threadid=38147
    This is interesting. Nothing is really real, and God doesn't mean what he says.
    Genesis 2:17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
    And then in Chapter 3 verse 4 And the serpent said unto the woman, ye shall not surely die:

    Tell me, does God mean what he says?
  12. Hmmm . . .
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    11 Mar '07 15:592 edits
    Originally posted by josephw
    This is interesting. Nothing is really real, and God doesn't mean what he says.
    Genesis 2:17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
    And then in Chapter 3 verse 4 And the serpent said unto the woman, ye shall not surely die:

    Tell me, does God mean what he says?
    Tell me, does God mean what he says?

    Well, I’m, the one with little time now, so a short answer—

    (1) You already know that I don’t think the bible is “the word of God.” (This is my position, not strictly a Jewish one; but you should also know that the Jewish oral tradition goes back to before the time of Jesus.) So that’s a meaningless question to me, that seems to reflect the kind of errors in thinking that I mention in (4) below.

    (2) The Hebrew language itself does not permit the kind of single clear meaning that you want to find there.

    (3) Nobody reads the scriptures without interpreting them—even if they think they do. Perhaps I should say that even those who think they are reading the plain, literal meaning of the texts have already brought their torah to the Torah, are already reading into the texts (by imposing a literalistic hermeneutic), even as they assert they are only reading out of them—every bit as much as the rabbinical midrashist.

    (There are types of exegesis—such as form criticism and historical criticism—that do attempt to strictly read out of the texts.)

    (4) The kind of God that you seem to want—the anthropomorphic metaphors of the texts notwithstanding—I do not think exists. You seem to want a god who is well-defined and dependable—a kind of divine superman.

    “Every definition of God leads to heresy; definition is spiritual idolatry. Even attributing mind and will to God, even attributing divinity itself, and the name “God”—these, too, are definitions. Were it not for the subtle awareness that all these are just sparkling flashes of that which transcends definition—these, too, would engender heresy. ...

    ”The greatest impediment to the human spirit results from the fact that the conception of God is fixed in a particular form, due to childish habit and imagination. This is a spark of the defect of idolatry, of which we must always be aware. ...

    ”The infinite transcends every particular content of faith. “

    —Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook (former Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi of Palestine), quoted in Daniel Matt, The Essential Kabbalah

    (5) In the Jonah story, God, through Jonah, delivered the message that he was going to destroy the Ninevites—no ifs ands or bust, no second chances, no if you don’t repent. And God changed his mind; and Jonah was angry because, in effect, God had made him out to be a liar.

    (6) Faith means openness to the possibility and, in the religious sense, to the ultimate ineffable mystery. Faith is not correct thinking/belief (today, “belief” is a bad translation; in 1611 I’m not sure it was). Faith is never riskless.

    Ultimately, the question is not whether God means what he says, but whether or not we understand what we’re reading, and whether our reading is superficial. Did you know, for example, that the Hebrew word ra does not mean evil in the moral sense? It can be stretched there, but there is another Hebrew word that means evil or iniquitous. The etz ha da’at ha tov ha ra, “tree of distinguishing good and bad,” is a metaphor. And, as I say, it is a story aimed at illustrating aspects of the human condition (why would you think that death here is physical death—physical death was already there, so that ha adam was not permitted to eat from the tree of life...)

    ________________________________

    We’re probably just at impasse, josehpw, because it is as if we are looking through the lens from opposite directions. Such that we are now simply talking past one another, I suspect.

    Be well.

    EDIT: Well, I tried a "short" response... 😳
  13. Joined
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    12 Mar '07 00:28
    Originally posted by vistesd
    [b]Tell me, does God mean what he says?

    Well, I’m, the one with little time now, so a short answer—

    (1) You already know that I don’t think the bible is “the word of God.” (This is my position, not strictly a Jewish one; but you should also know that the Jewish oral tradition goes back to before the time of Jesus.) So that’s a meaningless questi ...[text shortened]... ing past one another, I suspect.

    Be well.

    EDIT: Well, I tried a "short" response... 😳[/b]
    It was worth the try.
    I feel so cramped in this little room.
  14. Hmmm . . .
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    12 Mar '07 00:46
    Originally posted by josephw
    It was worth the try.
    I feel so cramped in this little room.
    You are a gentleman, sir. (Tongue-in-cheek humor appreciated...)
  15. Standard memberfrogstomp
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    12 Mar '07 01:16
    Originally posted by vistesd
    [b]Tell me, does God mean what he says?

    Well, I’m, the one with little time now, so a short answer—

    (1) You already know that I don’t think the bible is “the word of God.” (This is my position, not strictly a Jewish one; but you should also know that the Jewish oral tradition goes back to before the time of Jesus.) So that’s a meaningless questi ...[text shortened]... ing past one another, I suspect.

    Be well.

    EDIT: Well, I tried a "short" response... 😳[/b]
    You haven't been talking past me though, I do understand what Valentinus called the ERROR.
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