Chavarah- Jewish Community Learning

A blog of Jewish study and traditions. Notes from classes: Torah Study with Rabbi Marder, Toledot and Shabbaton as well as other details found of interest.

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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Akidah Explored - Questions...

Akidah Explored – 7/30

Where is Mt Moriah? What does Moriah mean?
And where other events happened according to midrash – Jerusalem, David episode with threshingfloor of Ornan, where the temple is built by Solomon, where Jesus died (?), Where Muslem believe Mohamed rose (?)and a few more significant events. (some say it is where the Garden of Eden is also!)
Unsure what the meaning of the word is.. Fodder for more midrash!
Word meaning. More. Or the word relating to teaching or to show or bitterness.
Midrash when God stops him. Abraham complains that God keeps changing his mind...
All about Abraham “Misunderstanding” God’s comman.
Awesome. Vs. The place of instruction. Where light comes from.
Ve ha a lehu. To take him up there for a going up. Similar to Aliyah. Same as a burnt offering. Offering is the most common interpretation.
But it is clear by the end this might not be the case. And that God doesn't want child sacrifice.
BOOK: Fear and Trembling by Soren Kierkegaard
Question what happens from Isaacs point of view and how this effects him going forward.
Midrash. That Abraham is trying to be sure that Isaac believes in God.
It is about parenthood and authority.
Rosenzweig. Translate test with temptation.
Maybe it is a commentary against child sacrifice..

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Questioning Abraham - Clive Lawton

Clive Lawton guest teacher founder of Limmud International from England
Torah Study 7-9
Grew up in Mesopotamia and gets a command to leave and he takes his family and his nephew Lot. Lot is a "waste of space". Why did he take him?
Maybe to be his heir but he is a disappointment

He goes to Cannan. God promises land to his descendants. But the problem is that he didn't have an heir.

Did Abraham really believe in the one true God? He speculates which of the many gods in his time was the strongest? He is looking for the "ultimate organizer". The "prime mover". There is a good idea about the force of nature.

It was not remarkable to believe in one God.

Abrahams story shows his lack of faith.
When they go to Egypt. He tells Sari to tell the "lie" about their relationship.
He thinks they are on their own. God intervines.
This happens again.

Abraham has no confidence that God is going to give him a true heir.
Reinforced by the story of Hagar...
Sarah offers Hagar as a surrogate mother. But it doesn't work out that way.
That was not the promise...he was to have a son with Sarah...

Then the angels come and then Isaac is finally born.

Sodom and Gomorrah. God invests in Abraham. So tells him What He is going to do...
Plans to wipe out cities because they are evil...Abraham argues with God...

God leads Abraham down a path... Macroeconomics to be concerned about 50 good people. Negotiation tactics similar to bargaining at the shook.

Model for the similar argument tactics in the Talmud... Never come to a conclusion.

Talmud, what is the greatest line in Torah argument between Rabbis. Pick two...Love neighbors and believe in God.
Akiva says "love neighbor as self". Ben Azai says "these are the generations of Adam"
That is where the text ends.... It is an opening fir discussion... Seems like Ben Azai "wins".

Two modes of interpretation: Agadah and Hallacha. What going to do vs what is the law.
Hallacha is drive safe. Agadah is the debate about what is a safe speed. And once decided it becomes Hallacha .. Agadah is the understanding and imprecision of the complex things. We are obsessed by accuracy.

Parable. (Difference between Jews and Christians.) Christians explain what the meaning of the parable/Midrash. Jews ask what it means. Text is an invitation to analysis rather than something that should be interpreted and dictated.

Akivah says : What does “a commandment is more important mean?” It is problematic. What does "You shall love" Actually tell you to do? Who is the” neighbor”? "As self" is a relative term. As you deserve not as they deserve.

Either/Or mode vs the both end mode.
Binary system is not sufficient to allow the possibility of complex outcomes.

Ben Azai says that everyone descends from a single person. And all are equal. There is a fundamental right to be treated equal as all are in the image of God.

Why does Abraham stop at 10 in the argument with God in the story about Sodom...

The final test: Binding of Isaac. Next story. Abraham doesn't argue over Isaac like he did for the people of Sodom.

After this episode God doesn't speak to Abraham again and then Sarah dies.

The concept that God is interested in individuals is phenomenal. Abraham discovers that God cares about individuals. Difficult concept.

Abraham knows that God will not sacrifice Isaac because of God’s promise that Isaac will survive. So he knows that he will not kill his son... this is why he doesn’t argue..

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Geography Lesson

Torah study 7-2 Genesis 21:31-34

Beersheba Well Seven Oath
Origin of it's name. Phrase "from Dan to Beersheba" (see attachment thanks to Alan Warshaw)

Mentioned in Amos telling the people not to worship outside Jerusalem. But Beersheba is known as a religious place. The well has been found by archeologists .

Philistines - Ancient people at the time of Abraham listed previously. No mention of the Philistines. No mention until this point. Not
mentioned in history until much later.

Five cities in the coastal plains later noted as Philistine lands. But it may be an anachronism reflected back into the text. But they are differe
nt from the philistines in this story. Later mentions they are enemies. At this point it seems they are not enemies.
Might be different... Uncertain.
Treaty made and Avimelach is gone the Abraham plants a "tamarisk" tree (look up what plant it is.) Plant that survives in harsh conditions. Abraham previously associated with a tree. Tree is a symbol of a bridge between the earth and God.
Eschell word in Hebrew - debate on what means. Orchard. Hotel or inn. Nourish travelers. In other place in Tanach word used to mean establish rather than plant.Acrostics. Aleph shin lamed. Three activities of hospitality. Food rest and care for guests.Escorting as a mitzvah. Need to escort a visitor from your home.Reinforces Abraham's reputation for hospitality and welcoming the stranger.He called on "Adonai El Olam". There was an ancient pagan god named El. With the use of this term it seems that the Canaanite God's name is associated as a character of The God of Abraham. Midrash: When Abraham was thanked by his guests he would tell them to thank God... Thus started the practice of blessings over food.Maimonades. El Olam - Refers to the God of eternity. God is the original cause of everything. Many activities in the Bible attributes to God just leaves out the intermediate causes... Thus everything can be caused by humans who were caused by God.End of chapter. Abraham lived in the land of the Philistines for many days. Always the resident alien. Rashi. In all of his places he was always a guest. Always a provisional status.Chapter 22 Most difficult passage. Binding of Isaac. Akidah. Part of the traditional morning prayers every day.
Pierke avot chapter 5. Mishnah. Ten trials of Abraham to show his love of God.

King of Ur wanted to kill him as a child
Leave his land
Famine in Canaan
Attack of four kings
Promise of child
Despair of Sarah give Hagar to bear child
Circumcised at 99
Expel Hagar
Bind Isaac (This was the most difficult of the trials )
Bury Sarah

Many different theories about why these trials. Reflect on what the trials in our life mean to us Read this portion with "Fear and trembling."
R Moshe Lieber. On the trials. We can find our story in Abraham's story. It is also the story of the Jews through history.

22:1 God tested Abraham. Here I am.
And it was after these things. First words... How much time had past?
Reflect on the age of Isaac.. Old enough to carry wood and ask questions. Some say he is 37 years old. Know that Sarah dies after this story used to figure out the time.

Rashi. A taunting with Satan. Relating to the feast for Isaac’s weaning where there was no offering to God. Only thinking about the sin. Therefore the test to see who is more important God or his son .