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1 Bob Levin  Tue, May 15, 2012 1:36:31am

And why did you have to bring up the lines from the Talmud? If you take out that paragraph, the meaning of your essay doesn't change.

2 Cosmic X  Tue, May 15, 2012 2:07:52am

re: #1 Bob Levin

And why did you have to bring up the lines from the Talmud? If you take out that paragraph, the meaning of your essay doesn't change.

Why not? It adds a little bit of color.

3 Bob Levin  Tue, May 15, 2012 2:31:47am

re: #2 Cosmic X

I guess it's like using a bicycle to wash your clothes. A bicycle is not intended to wash clothers, and the Talmud is not intended as a color additive for essays. It's not a Jewish version of Bartlett's Quotations. Then the question becomes, then what is intention contained in the Talmud? And that's a good question.

4 Cosmic X  Tue, May 15, 2012 2:51:18am

re: #3 Bob Levin

Then the question becomes, then what is intention contained in the Talmud?

Bob, you know as well as I that we could sit here for hours talking about those few lines in Sanhedrin, and we would only be scratching the surface!

I think that one of the points is what On's wife told him. Why stick your neck out when there is nothing in it for you? That's timeless advice. It's similar to what is written in Proverbs "He that passeth by, and meddleth with strife not his own, is like one that taketh a dog by the ears."

Another point is the nature of Korah and his friends. On's wife gave On wine to drink, and he fell asleep inside their tent. Then she sat at the door of the tent with her hair uncovered. Korah's friends were very pious: The site of a woman with her head uncovered drove them away and deterred them from pursuing the matter with On who remained sleeping in the tent. However, the entire insurrection came from a very impious source, the pursuit of honor. Be careful of those pious people!

5 Bob Levin  Tue, May 15, 2012 3:36:48am

re: #4 Cosmic X

Yes, we could talk about this for a long time. However, let's just cover one topic today, very briefly. When you study Torah, the written Torah, and you do what all folks do when reading a narrative that they care about--they take a position in the story (yes?), when you jump into the text, where do you stand?

For instance, during the episode of the Golden Calf, are you a Levite, or are you one of the 3000 who fell for it? If you were Moses, would you have spoken to the rock, or would you also have lost your temper? In the episode of Joseph and his brothers, would you have argued to let him be, or would you have wanted to sell him, or kill him?

Your answers speak to the questions of piety and introspection.

6 Cosmic X  Tue, May 15, 2012 4:30:55am

re: #5 Bob Levin

When you study Torah, the written Torah, and you do what all folks do when reading a narrative that they care about--they take a position in the story (yes?), when you jump into the text, where do you stand?

I would describe my way of learning as follows: I try to understand what the Torah's position is and adopt that in my life.

Golden Calf: bad
Striking the rock instead of speaking to it: bad
Selling or killing Joseph: bad

That does not mean that I do not try to understand the other side of the story. It's not too hard to sympathize with those who felt leaderless when Moses tarried to come. Also, there are various explanations why the brothers wanted to get rid of Joseph. And who can stand in Moses' shoes?

What you asked reminded me of something closer to our time that I ask myself, "What would you have done?"

Before the birth of the modern State of Israel their were three para-military organizations here: the Hagana, the Etzel, and the Lehi.

The Hagana was the largest group and took its orders from the elected leadership of Jews in the land of Israel at that time. They praised "restraint", and were most reluctant to do anything against the British, who were ruling the land at that time. The British were limitting the immigration of Jews, disregarding the mandate given them to create a Jewish Homeland.

The Lehi and the Etzel declared war against the British. During World War II, the Etzel put down their arms in order to join the British in the war against Nazi Germany. The Lehi refused to do so, for the British were continuing to block the shores of the Holy Land, sentencing the Jews that were trying to escape Europe to death at the hands of the Nazis and their helpers.

It is hard for me to say which group I would have joined if I had lived at that time.

7 Cosmic X  Tue, May 15, 2012 5:28:05am

Bob,

I am going to be offline for the remainder of the day. Have a good one!

8 Romantic Heretic  Tue, May 15, 2012 6:21:10am

Somehow, Cosmic X is comforting.

One of the biggest assumptions of anti-semitism is that Jews are not human. That they think and believe differently.

His posts show that Jews are just as capable as the rest of us of taking a body of thought meant to guide us to wisdom and subverting it into an excuse for their belief system.

Well done, sir.

9 Mostly sane, most of the time.  Tue, May 15, 2012 10:11:08am

May I point out that for those of us who haven't read the Talmud, the addition of something we haven't previously heard is valuable?

10 Mostly sane, most of the time.  Tue, May 15, 2012 10:11:40am

Oh, and this American is going out to change the band saw blade. That's where she's going.

Wish me luck.

11 Obdicut  Tue, May 15, 2012 10:21:33am

re: #8 Romantic Heretic

His previous posts advocating stoning to death homosexuals.

12 CuriousLurker  Tue, May 15, 2012 10:45:45am

re: #11 Obdicut

His previous posts advocating stoning to death homosexuals.

Yeah, and he says he's not a Kahanist. Here are the Google results for "kahane" search on his blog.

He apparently even considers Kahane to be a superhero. The link in his blog post goes to the site with the superhero comic book. That Cosmic X states he wants to pick up a copy of such trash for his youngest son speaks volumes about his mindset.

13 Obdicut  Tue, May 15, 2012 11:04:29am

re: #12 CuriousLurker

Yep. He may not call himself a Kahanist, but if he thinks Kahane was fucking awesome, I don't give a shit. He's a trogdolytic fundamentalist psycho.

14 Bob Levin  Tue, May 15, 2012 11:55:59am

re: #6 Cosmic X

It is hard for me to say which group I would have joined if I had lived at that time.

Compared to the episodes in the Torah, those recent events are simple. However, you chose to see the Torah events as good/bad, which is the first step to misinterpreting the text. Take a position, what would you have done. Otherwise, you are seeing everything at arm's length, as opposed to taking it to heart.

So the questions still stand.

15 Bob Levin  Tue, May 15, 2012 11:59:57am

re: #6 Cosmic X

And yes, the questions are indeed difficult. They shouldn't impede you, or do they?

16 Michael McBacon  Tue, May 15, 2012 2:52:44pm

re: #12 CuriousLurker

Thanks for your research, CL.

17 CuriousLurker  Tue, May 15, 2012 3:01:06pm

re: #16 Michael McBacon

Thanks for your research, CL.

You're welcome. I'm with Obdicut regarding Cosmic X.

18 Cosmic X  Tue, May 15, 2012 11:06:11pm

re: #14 Bob Levin

However, you chose to see the Torah events as good/bad, which is the first step to misinterpreting the text. Take a position, what would you have done. Otherwise, you are seeing everything at arm's length, as opposed to taking it to heart.

I disagree with you here, Bob. My approach is backed up by Nachmanides, as he states in his famous letter:

Torah should always be learned diligently, so you will be able to fulfill it's commands. When you arise from your learning reflect carefully on what you have studied, in order to see what in it that you can be put into practice.

19 Bob Levin  Tue, May 15, 2012 11:24:52pm

re: #18 Cosmic X

That would back up my approach, not yours. You're memorizing quotes, or at least you have a fine index. I asked you reflective questions, which you haven't answered.

20 Cosmic X  Wed, May 16, 2012 1:30:11am

re: #19 Bob Levin

Bob, if you feel that your technique of analyzing the text by jumping into it increases your fear of Heaven and your performance of the commndments (I am assuming that you are Jewish), I say, "all the more power to you."

If it is just for the intelectual experience, I think that you are missing the point. Like the Ramban said, "When you arise from your learning reflect carefully on what you have studied, in order to see what in it that you can be put into practice."

I am not holding the Torah at arms length. I am embracing it entirely. The learning has to enter the heart as you said, but from there it has to enter the rest of the body, i.e. observance of the commandments.

21 Bob Levin  Wed, May 16, 2012 5:49:44am

re: #20 Cosmic X

Bob, if you feel that your technique of analyzing the text by jumping into it increases your fear of Heaven and your performance of the commndments (I am assuming that you are Jewish), I say, "all the more power to you."

It's more than a feeling, my feeling, it's a how to analyze the text. It's what constitutes a Talmudic discussion, by jumping into the opposing point of view to truly understand the position, in the Midrash, by jumping fully into the story to find more details than the gloss of the Torah, in the Shema when our 'talking about it' is actually arguing about it--it's about the intensity of the experience, from which we can derive wisdom. Without that intensity, observant people just go through the motions, and they will admit this is what they must struggle against. There are prophets warning against such emotional complacency. It's more than just my feeling. I have a library standing behind me.

If you think your practice can be buttressed by your memorization of quotes, I have a surprise for you. Try practicing lit up with the kind of intensity we are supposed to develop (cavanah). It won't happen overnight, since you've got to fight through your own emotional blockages--and this takes time. But the burden is placed squarely on your own shoulders, and blaming others has no place in this method.

It's worth it. And it's the way we are supposed to be doing things.

Another proof of how much more powerful the proper technique is--you've been avoiding my questions. Avoidance is a defense mechanism, a popular one at that. If you're stuck fearing my questions, you're off your focus.

22 Cosmic X  Wed, May 16, 2012 7:17:44am

re: #21 Bob Levin

Shalom Bob.

Just writing to let you know that I saw your last comment.
I thought that I answered your questions(apparently not to your satisfaction).
I agree with your comment that we have to have to serve God with intensity and kavannah, which is not always easy.

I got to go babysit my granddaughter now. Sei gesund!

23 Bob Levin  Wed, May 16, 2012 11:54:31am

re: #22 Cosmic X

No problem. You answered my questions by saying that they were too difficult. Except that there are no right or wrong answers, only honest ones. And that honesty is the first steps towards proper cavanah.

Okay, so what would you do? You know the questions.


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