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2 years ago  ::  Apr 11, 2012 - 2:24PM #1
vra
Posts: 6,403

Are any of you Biblical literalists?  Do any of you believe the Bible is infallible?  How about do any of you feel that Torah is totally objective versus being at least partially subjective?

If your answer is "no" to any of the above, then maybe many of the discussions going on here are irrelevant, even if they may be interesting.  What difference does it really make if Jesus existed as depicted or not-- or even existed at all?  What difference does it really make if Moshe existed as depicted or not-- or even existed at all?  the Buddha?  Vishnu?  Etc.

Unless one believes that the scriptures are objective and infallible, there's simply no way to make claims about either that goes beyond mere speculation.  Therefore, what we left with begins to sound much like the question as to "how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?".  However, going to the opposite extreme is not necessary, so one need not view scripture and the various teachings as trash, and I certainly am not suggesting they should be.     

I'm not trying to discourage discussion on such matters, but merely trying to put forth a different viewpoint-- mine. ;) 

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2 years ago  ::  Apr 11, 2012 - 3:38PM #2
rocketjsquirell
Posts: 16,040

VRA


As you know, Jews are not biblical literalists in the manner that some Christians claim to be. however, even those Christians who claim to be biblical literalists are not, you will find that they pick and choose and interpret just like the rest of us.

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2 years ago  ::  Apr 12, 2012 - 1:37AM #3
Bunsinspace
Posts: 5,922

BS"D


VRA,


Biblical literalism is roundly excoriated by our sages.  Biblical inerrancy is impossible because built into our religion is a system whereby each letter is painstakingly preserved from generation to generation yet scribal errors are acknowledged when they crop up.


Unlike either Christianity or Islam, no book is a "Jewish authority."  Torah places every authority strictly within human hands which is evinced in every mitzvo.  Without the human authority Judaism would cease to exist.  That was one of the points of Moses breaking the tablets - Torah is not written in stone nor can it be observed by robots.


But there are guidelines within the reading of Torah.  It is acknowledged to have infinite interpretations.  But four basic levels are fundamental to any rudimentary understanding:


1. Literal - one must understand the grammar and syntax and trope as written in order to begin to understand the message - that message being Torah as read by the Jewish people is a guide for Jewish life.


2. Allegorical - one must understand the basic tenets of Judaism so that one does not render Torah in an evil or restrictive way - one must be able to grasp the meaning that is conveyed by the text rather than merely the narrative in its literal fashion.  For instance the Divine is not corporeal and beyond human comprehension so what does it mean when "He" walked with Adam and Eve in the garden?


3. Comparative - one must be able to consult the entire narrative as a whole and make comparisons between what is illustrated as wrongful actions and what is illustrated as desired actions.  The comparisons may also be among the allegories.  This begins to convey the message of the narrative on its most fundamental level as a guide.  A large corpus of Jewish commentary is devoted to this level.


4. Mystical - this is the transcendent level which Nieciedo notes is frequently lacking in normal Jewish discourse on BNet.  And this is mostly because mystical interpretations have communal safeguards - one being that such matters are normally discussed face-to-face so there is less opportunity to go astray and make something into what it is not or even its exact opposite.  The mystical allows the individual Jew to have a private audience with the divine in daily prayer.  It allows one to create halakha for situations that did not exist in prior generations.  It allows one a basic framework on which to comprehend the wonders of Creation and effectively interact with it on a conscious level.


These four levels are fundamental to reading Torah.  Nevertheless Judaism allows for full participation even among those who are incapable of attaining a level of understanding beyond the literal (such as in the case of brain-damage or disease) or who are stuck at these four levels or any one of them.


Therefore the notion of the literal existence of any of the narrative characters is only an issue at the lowest level of Torah reading - for instance that of a 5-year-old child.  By the time one is an adult one learns about allegories (hopefully) and can concentrate on the message of the narrative rather than obsessing upon whether the literal characters or events are real or not.  And if one wants to explore whether the characters are real historical persons, conflations of many such persons, or pure fantasy one can make use of one's intellect to pursue any answers to anything in Creation, including the construction of the Torah narrative. 

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2 years ago  ::  Apr 12, 2012 - 1:24PM #4
vra
Posts: 6,403

Apr 12, 2012 -- 1:37AM, Bunsinspace wrote:


BS"D


VRA,


Biblical literalism is roundly excoriated by our sages.  Biblical inerrancy is impossible because built into our religion is a system whereby each letter is painstakingly preserved from generation to generation yet scribal errors are acknowledged when they crop up.


Unlike either Christianity or Islam, no book is a "Jewish authority."  Torah places every authority strictly within human hands which is evinced in every mitzvo.  Without the human authority Judaism would cease to exist.  That was one of the points of Moses breaking the tablets - Torah is not written in stone nor can it be observed by robots.


But there are guidelines within the reading of Torah.  It is acknowledged to have infinite interpretations.  But four basic levels are fundamental to any rudimentary understanding:


1. Literal - one must understand the grammar and syntax and trope as written in order to begin to understand the message - that message being Torah as read by the Jewish people is a guide for Jewish life.


2. Allegorical - one must understand the basic tenets of Judaism so that one does not render Torah in an evil or restrictive way - one must be able to grasp the meaning that is conveyed by the text rather than merely the narrative in its literal fashion.  For instance the Divine is not corporeal and beyond human comprehension so what does it mean when "He" walked with Adam and Eve in the garden?


3. Comparative - one must be able to consult the entire narrative as a whole and make comparisons between what is illustrated as wrongful actions and what is illustrated as desired actions.  The comparisons may also be among the allegories.  This begins to convey the message of the narrative on its most fundamental level as a guide.  A large corpus of Jewish commentary is devoted to this level.


4. Mystical - this is the transcendent level which Nieciedo notes is frequently lacking in normal Jewish discourse on BNet.  And this is mostly because mystical interpretations have communal safeguards - one being that such matters are normally discussed face-to-face so there is less opportunity to go astray and make something into what it is not or even its exact opposite.  The mystical allows the individual Jew to have a private audience with the divine in daily prayer.  It allows one to create halakha for situations that did not exist in prior generations.  It allows one a basic framework on which to comprehend the wonders of Creation and effectively interact with it on a conscious level.


These four levels are fundamental to reading Torah.  Nevertheless Judaism allows for full participation even among those who are incapable of attaining a level of understanding beyond the literal (such as in the case of brain-damage or disease) or who are stuck at these four levels or any one of them.


Therefore the notion of the literal existence of any of the narrative characters is only an issue at the lowest level of Torah reading - for instance that of a 5-year-old child.  By the time one is an adult one learns about allegories (hopefully) and can concentrate on the message of the narrative rather than obsessing upon whether the literal characters or events are real or not.  And if one wants to explore whether the characters are real historical persons, conflations of many such persons, or pure fantasy one can make use of one's intellect to pursue any answers to anything in Creation, including the construction of the Torah narrative. 





I agree with all of the above with maybe the "go astray" part under the "Mystical" category.  Even though I agree that we should always be humble in terms of what we think we might know, therefore seeking "peer-review" would be wise.  However, that could be pushed in the context of seeking conformity of belief, but based on what you said earlier in the above post, I have doubts that this is what you meant.   

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2 years ago  ::  Apr 12, 2012 - 8:31PM #5
Bunsinspace
Posts: 5,922

Apr 12, 2012 -- 1:24PM, vra wrote:


I agree with all of the above with maybe the "go astray" part under the "Mystical" category.  Even though I agree that we should always be humble in terms of what we think we might know, therefore seeking "peer-review" would be wise.  However, that could be pushed in the context of seeking conformity of belief, but based on what you said earlier in the above post, I have doubts that this is what you meant.   




BS"D


You are correct.  It is NOT conformity of belief but avoiding MISREPRESENTATION.  A mystic works long and hard in his/her efforts to attain a glimpse of extraordinary insight on the extreme fringes of belief.  It is part of Jewish tradition to zealously guard against this person's work from being corrupted or misused.  Every person should do their own mystical work but the sharing of insight and visions deserves careful safeguards as being at the extremes of belief it is quite possible to corrupt a mystical insight into a murderous monstrosity.  


This lesson is taught allegorically in the legend of the Golem whose creation is attributed to the MaHaRaL of Prague.  But it is no more than a more contemporary entertaining recount of the fundamental lessons of Shammai in Talmud whereby the methodology of all contemporary yeshivos are modelled.


Of course the demonstrably evil results from such misrepresentation of mysticism include:


1. Sectarian groups that actively detract from the good works of the mainstream.


2. Break-away religions that are toxic (violent) to the parent religion and its people.


3. Zealotry, racism, hatred, isolationism and murderous xenophobia based upon the same misunderstandings of the insight or vision.

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2 years ago  ::  Apr 13, 2012 - 12:36PM #6
vra
Posts: 6,403

Apr 12, 2012 -- 8:31PM, Bunsinspace wrote:


Apr 12, 2012 -- 1:24PM, vra wrote:


I agree with all of the above with maybe the "go astray" part under the "Mystical" category.  Even though I agree that we should always be humble in terms of what we think we might know, therefore seeking "peer-review" would be wise.  However, that could be pushed in the context of seeking conformity of belief, but based on what you said earlier in the above post, I have doubts that this is what you meant.   




BS"D


You are correct.  It is NOT conformity of belief but avoiding MISREPRESENTATION.  A mystic works long and hard in his/her efforts to attain a glimpse of extraordinary insight on the extreme fringes of belief.  It is part of Jewish tradition to zealously guard against this person's work from being corrupted or misused.  Every person should do their own mystical work but the sharing of insight and visions deserves careful safeguards as being at the extremes of belief it is quite possible to corrupt a mystical insight into a murderous monstrosity.  


This lesson is taught allegorically in the legend of the Golem whose creation is attributed to the MaHaRaL of Prague.  But it is no more than a more contemporary entertaining recount of the fundamental lessons of Shammai in Talmud whereby the methodology of all contemporary yeshivos are modelled.


Of course the demonstrably evil results from such misrepresentation of mysticism include:


1. Sectarian groups that actively detract from the good works of the mainstream.


2. Break-away religions that are toxic (violent) to the parent religion and its people.


3. Zealotry, racism, hatred, isolationism and murderous xenophobia based upon the same misunderstandings of the insight or vision.





Thanks Buns, I appreciate your insight on this.  And may you and all here have a ...


Shabbat shalom,


Vern

Moderated by Bunsinspace on Apr 13, 2012 - 01:40PM
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2 years ago  ::  Apr 13, 2012 - 1:18PM #7
mainecaptain
Posts: 21,783

The more I learn about Judasim, (Or at the very least the way those posting here practice and represent it), I have more and more respect for it, and for all of you.


Thank you VRA, and Buns. :)

A tyrant must put on the appearance of uncommon devotion to religion. Subjects are less apprehensive of illegal treatment from a ruler whom they consider god-fearing and pious. On the other hand, they do less easily move against him, believing that he has the gods on his side. Aristotle
Never discourage anyone...who continually makes progress, no matter how slow. Plato..
"A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives" Jackie Robinson
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2 years ago  ::  Apr 13, 2012 - 2:56PM #8
vra
Posts: 6,403

Apr 13, 2012 -- 1:18PM, mainecaptain wrote:


The more I learn about Judasim, (Or at the very least the way those posting here practice and represent it), I have more and more respect for it, and for all of you.


Thank you VRA, and Buns. :)





Thanks mc, but compared to Buns, I'm a meer novice.


Have yourself a great weekend.

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2 years ago  ::  Apr 13, 2012 - 4:11PM #9
LeahOne
Posts: 16,386

I feel blessed to have such wise heads to learn from!  It's one of the reasons I like the site : ))

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2 years ago  ::  Apr 13, 2012 - 4:17PM #10
mainecaptain
Posts: 21,783

Apr 13, 2012 -- 4:11PM, LeahOne wrote:


I feel blessed to have such wise heads to learn from!  It's one of the reasons I like the site : ))




:) I feel the same way

A tyrant must put on the appearance of uncommon devotion to religion. Subjects are less apprehensive of illegal treatment from a ruler whom they consider god-fearing and pious. On the other hand, they do less easily move against him, believing that he has the gods on his side. Aristotle
Never discourage anyone...who continually makes progress, no matter how slow. Plato..
"A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives" Jackie Robinson
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