Sunday, June 25, 2017

The role of prophet is only to bring Israel back to the Tora (i.e. mitsva observance); which is the same as saying back to holiness and communion with God.
Let me succinctly illustrate this 'trinity' of God, holiness, and mitsva observance.
The only way sinful man can commune with a holy God is through standards that were given to us by the Creator Himself; like when He says "Be holy, as I am holy" (Lev.20:26).
And -- of course -- the way to this 'holiness' is through observance of the mitsvahs.

 Part 1
An Approach to a 'Hard' Jewish Law: Sabbath Observance

What if I find dignity and freedom in working and resting whenever I want?

Shabbat is the only ritual commandment among the 10 commandments and-- as far as I know-- the only ritual commandment (commandments between God and man) the prophets railed against its non-observance.

So perhaps it's THE ritual link to the non-ritual / ethical / moral commandments.


Let's say that I fail at a moral test-- which is really a test given by God; therefore I have not only failed myself and the person or society, but I have failed God as well.

I am now naked and ashamed. What do I do? Slough off God and the commandments?

Not so fast.

Perhaps I can redeem myself through a ritual, which is the only ritual-- remember-- that is in the 10 Commandments, and the only ritual that the prophets railed against its non-observance.

What does my moral / ethical failure represent? A lack of faith in God. How? Because if I really trusted God, I would have allowed myself to move courageously into the do-the-right-thing zone and let the chips fall where they may by performing the famous 'leap of faith'. But I didn't, and so I now mourn in my nakedness and shame ('dust and ashes').

It is at this vulnerable point -- a point that many defect to Christianity because it holds out a get out of jail (the Commandments) free card -- that the Sabbath stands as a sentinel to remind (zakhor!) us that we can return to some semblance of dignity by REDEEMING OUR FAITHLESSNESS IN GOD BY HAVING FAITH IN GOD THROUGH OBSERVANCE (shamor!) OF THE SABBATH, WHICH IS REALLY ONE DAY IN WHICH WE CEASE 'TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS' IN ORDER TO RITUALLY SHOW OUR FAITH THAT GOD WILL PROVIDE.

It's as if the coward has a second chance in a simulated area in which he can redeem his failure to 'leap' with a more modest 'step of faith'.

It is from this simulated moral victory that gives us the rest in order to come back to the real moral world (or at least be able to show our face in it, instead of hiding in shame).

I have still failed morally (the real moral test in the real world), but I have at least stayed within Judaism / the Tora, which has offered me a rest and dignity through a simulated moral test.


Part 2
An Approach to a 'Hard' Jewish Law: Fasting on Yom Kippur

The Temple was a bloody place. Why?   Let's start at the beginning.  In Genesis, when Adam and Eve disobeyed God, He gave them animal skins to clothe themselves instead of the plant 'skins' (fig leaves) they made to clothe themselves. Later, Abel's animal offering was preferred to Cain's plant offering.

Jumping to Sinai, the people were told that they and their animals would be killed if they got too close to the mountain.   Later, in the desert, the Tabernacle (a portable Sinai) centered around animal sacrifices; and on its first official day of operation two of the high priest's sons (Nadav and Abihu) were killed by God in the middle of their duties.

We can conclude from this that the coming close (interestingly, KRBN means both 'drawing close' and [animal] 'offering'-- see Leviticus 1:2 ) of the creature to his Creator 'spatially' (represented by the Tabernacle/Temple/Sinai) results in the spilling of blood and death of a sacrificial animal WHO REPRESENTS US.*

Thus, con-Temple-ating  the much smaller sacrifice of a little water and fat during our fast can make Yom Kippur -- the day we [ritually] come closest to God 'spatially' -- less 'hard' to observe.

* the word KPR ('atonement') comes out of the root KP, which is directly related to the English 'cap' and the Hebrew 'kippa' (also, hear how KPR sounds like 'cover').  In other words, since the animal 'represents' us (the creature before the Creator at the Temple), it takes the 'hit' for us / 'covers' us.
I wrote something in my Sept.16 2017 that corroborates my theory here and explains why they made a Golden [lit. 'masking'- Ex.32:4] Calf at Sinai: "...because of the awesomeness of the Sinai revelation ("Let not God speak with us lest we die"-Ex.20:16), and the fact that Moses hadn't come down the mountain after 40 days, the people feared he was destroyed by the encounter.  So they created something that could stand between them and God."  There is a direct link between the people being commanded to not make gods of gold and silver (Ex.20:23) and making an altar to offer animal sacrifices (Ex.20:24-26) to God [who speaks from 'heaven'- Ex.20:22].  The juxtaposition implies: God is 'far away' in 'heaven' (i.e. holy) so I've given (commanded) you to put on a 'play' (ritual area) in which this distance can simultaneously be strengthened (i.e. made holy) and bridged (the root TsVH in mitsva literally means to squeeze / join close).
Now that we see how important the Temple is to idolatry-prone Israel, the main project of the Talmud can be seen as extending the Temple (as the Tabernacle/Temple extended Sinai) to other areas, such as the home and the synagogue (see the very beginning of the Talmud: "From what time do we say the Shma? [evening prayer].  From the hour when the priests enter to eat their truma [priest's share] until the end of the first [Temple] watch." - Talmud Brakhot).  In other words, the Talmud's approach to the question of "What is to be done now that we (i.e. the surviving remnant after the destruction of 70 and 135 CE; although Pharisees like Hillel and Shammai were answering this question long before-- see, for example, the 'fantastic' 'play' of ch.8 Talmud Brakhot) have no Temple, priesthood, Land, and kingship?" makes studying it fun and exciting.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

 Jung theorizes that men (or the male archetype) represent* God to women; so as soon as a man doubts that he is attractive to a woman he doesn't represent God anymore.
In other words, I can be a chronic masturbator who lives with his mother and is unemployed, but as soon as I feel that this makes me unattractive to a woman, I cease representing God.
To make this clearer, God is invisible.  The male (the representation of God) can easily feel invisible to women because he is not usually wanted by women in the obvious way of -- let's say -- pornographic magazines.  Women's sexuality is mysterious because she is not responding essentially to the male form but to an archetype: the visible representation of the invisible God. (i.e. Man).  Unless a man knows this, he can easily get 'lost in space' and exclaim like the character in Revolutionary Road who asks his wife, "What am I"; to which his wife replied, "You are the most wonderful thing in the world.  You are a man"; or like the Seinfeld episode where the woman told Elaine how she loses interest in a man:  "They whine... and 'tell me' (subconsciously perhaps) that they are not good enough for me and -- you know what-- I believe them".  Physically attractive women usually don't have to do much to attract men; and likewise, a man (any man, even a physically unattractive one) usually doesn't have to do much either to attract a woman other than trust that he is "the most wonderful thing in the world": the visible representation of the invisible God.

* R. Hirsch comments that the root of the Hebrew word for likeness (damah)  in the verse  "In His likeness" (Gen.1:26) explains why Adam is called 'Adam'.  'Adam' is NOT referring to earth (adamah) or blood (dam) or the combination 'red earth', but to man's likeness to God.   He thus translates 'Adam' as "a representative", not simply a creature of earth and blood.  


Sunday, June 11, 2017

Mythical man's (i.e. the Orthodox) need for Tanakh to be historically true and the secular position that opposes him both miss the point.
History alone (and here the Orthodox and their secular opponents both err in their dedication to 'history') is not enough.  Man does not  have to live by history (rational or mythical) alone, but can live with a [holy] drop of the mythical over a solid foundation of reason and rationality.