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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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Esau's Tears...

Torah study 3-24 Genesis 27:28-40

The blessing...Isaac gives to Jacob.
Then the discovery by Esau.
Esau begs for a blessing.

Many layers to this story...

V28 first word ...and to start the blessing implies a connection between the previous sentence but it doesn't make sense... Changes the meaning to that it is a continuous gift... "the gift that keeps on giving"
Second word "Elohim" God as judge. Rashi. Significance of the name, if worthy will receive the blessing if not no blessing... Now a conditional blessing.

Esau returns.. Isaac asks who he is... Isaac sees what happened with a violent shudder... Denotes confusion or perplexity. But Midrash says he is horrified because he sees the "gates of hell opening for him" great terror. What does that mean? He did something wrong... Some say he realized his error of judgement of Esau's character. Terror that Esau has no blessing.

Asks who was it who came to hunt? He lays out the problem... He ate all of it. Every taste wanted he got in the food. (similar to how mana tasted)

I blessed him so he must remain blessed.
Sarna - Isaac realizes that the blessing is irreversible. Power of words. Cannot be taken back.
Sages read it differently.
David Kimkee. He shall remained bless and he confirms that blessing now that he sees the truth.
Nachmanadese says nothing he can do and he can't take it back.
Hasidic. Cannot take back similar to someone who does something that keeps on making an impact even when the person is gone. Like making a window to let sun shine in...cannot undo it.

Robert Alter. Esau breaks down. And changes character. He is reduced from a strong man to a child asking for a blessing.
Tears of Esau. He desires to be a faithful matters a lot and he loves his father.
Compares this to Mordechai's outcry regarding the decree to kill the Jews in Shushan.

Gen 36:12. Descendants of Esau. Amalek ... Thus Haman descended from Esau. Generations later the wrong comes back.

In book of Esther the duel between a descendant of Saul and a descendant of egog (?)

Eli Munk. On tears of Esau. Cannot get away with doing evil. Esau shed three tears.. Right eye Left eye and one was unshed...and this explains our suffering.

"The redemption will not come until Esau's tears are dried."

Zohar. Shows Jacobs wrestling later was with the spirit of Esau. When angel blessing is made it signifies acceptance and the hatred between the brothers goes away.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spain & Jews - History Study for Trip April/May 2012

notes from class:

Before did we get there? Circumstantial evidence.

Obadiah Prophet .1:20. Sepharad mentioned not sure where this was in his time?Could be Spain or not...

Relates to the Phoenicians. -Queen Elisa ... Tyre. Took her followers and moved to Carthage...she is Diado.

Spencer Wells did genetic studies to show the relationship between these people. The Phoenicians and the Israelites.

By 2nd century CE there is certain evidence ... Was strong in representation in Spain during this time. The story of Paul shows he was going to Spain when he was killed.

66-74 CE zealots revolt ended with many escaping Jerusalem . Bar kokhba revolt repeated this and expanded their presence in Spain.

Split between Jews and Christains .. The relationship shifted back and forth over time.

Visigoths came in 5 th century. Brutal thugs. Came in and took over Spain. But they worked with the Jews.

6th century Pope Gregory ...slaves of Jews had it better than slaves of Christians.

587 King Recurad changed Spain to Roman Catholics.

King Sisebut...early 7th Century first expulsion of Jews ... Large conversion happened ...conversos...secret Jews. More change... Incoming wave of Islamic ways.

8th century Islam took over Spain. Went into France also.

Berbers brought better economic leadership and took over quickly.

Islam allowed Jews and Christians to exist as second class citizens. Jews stayed... They were educated and became partnership with the Islamic rule.

Enter into the Golden Age.

Thodomir..prince who guaranteed the safety of the populous.
Until 750 era of cultural and scientific advances...

Center moved from Baghdad to Damascus... Abd ar Rahman went to Spain.Focused on the intellectual. Concentrated this in Cordoba.

The history explains a bit of the overlap in Persian culture with that in Spain.

Ziryab..musician (789-852) went from Baghdad to cordoba influenced the future of music from the area. Significant impact.

Cordoba becomes a center of trade and influence.

Focus on intellect and culture was an advantage for the Jews...they developed positions of leadership and were welcomed by Islamic rulers.

Peak population of 100000 in the 9th century.

912 Abd Ar Rahman...becomes King... Until 961... His power was expanded via a naval force. Built massively. Later he was the victim of his success...

Building. Medinat al Zahara. (Zohar). Means radiance. Palace complex...10% excavated today. Focus on water... Muslims remember the importance of water from their own homeland. (only existed for about 40 years after his death)

Nasdaq Ibn Shaprut. (a Jew) Physician and scientist during this time. Led to an alliance with the Byzantine empire. And extended the reach into other countries..and the Jews who studied Talmud. Also fostered the poetic community and the arts.

Mosque of Cordoba.. Architectural complexity that expanded over centuries. Mezquita... Documentary. Wandering through the Mezquita.

Juderia is next door... Jewish quarter partly restored..
Casa de Sefarad. Synagogue post Rambam.. Maimonades Synagogue. Restored in 1985.

993 -1056 Islamic Spain. Samuel Ibn Nagrela a Jew ..preserved the Cordoban state...poet and the commander of their armies...

Smells, Blessings and Discovery

Torah study 3-17 Genesis 27:26-34

Smell... Blessing....
Esau finds out about the deception...

Isaac try's to be sure it is Esau... The kiss... Isaac asks for a kiss.
Different significance to kissing in the Bible.
The kiss of anointing...Saul becomes king.
The kiss of reconciliation...David kisses his son.
Kiss of valediction..of farewell...Ruth to say goodbye
Kiss of welcome...Moses
Kiss of joy...psalms
Hypocritical of songs
Kissing in Jacobs story different types of it is an uncomfortable situation...later Jacob and Rachel romantic kiss...Then Laban ... Then later with Esau when they meet... Then when he is dying..

Smell of the fields...
Sarna..says the hunter smells of the fields
Alter...points out that Rebecca knew this.
Rashi...goat skins smell bad? Zohar Midrash that the smell is the fragrance of the garden of Eden. Links Esau to Nimrod as hunters...garments inherited from Adam and Eve.

How did Isaac know this smell of the garden of Eden? Midrash ...he knew dip from when he was on the alter at Mt. Mariah. The scent of paradise.
Rashi..what is the smell? A field of apples. Kabbalah apple is significant. This is where the idea that the tree of life is apple. Holy apple orchard is symbolic of the Shehinah.
(is connected to why we eat apples and honey at Rosh Hashanah.

The Blessing...(he thinks it is Esau). First blessing is "dew"
Important for the Bible. Symbol of regeneration and abundance.
Later. Dew symbolizes life and the time of the messiah. First day of Passover there is a prayer for dew to restore the land and Jerusalem.
It is a blessing of material abundance.

Eli Munk. Link to garden of Eden...blessing is a repair of the pain in the garden of Eden.
To restore the original blessings...reverse the damage done by the serpent.

Blessing of parents to children important.
Essentials for blessing children
1. Meaningful touch
2. Words...add a personal message with the traditional blessing
3. Actions consistent with the blessing
Power..second part of blessing.

The mistake is revealed.
V30 Esau enters..
Climax of the drama...
Esau's way of saying "Sit up and eat" compared to the polite way Jacob said it...
Asks for the blessing...
Isaacs Shock "who are you?". Direct response.
Trembling of Isaac... (source of the word Haradeem orthodox) awe, fear, and his week.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Hands of Esau Voice of Jacob

Torah study 3-10 Genesis. 27:21-29

Isaac and Jacob. Feel and smell of Esau ...voice of Jacob.
Contrast between Jacob and Esau

About hunting. Field and Stream article .. William Tapply "why I hunt."

“Come closer that I may feel you”... Isaac is skeptical.
Rashi...Isaac questions because Esau doesn't typically drop the ‘name of God’ and that was out of character.
The way he spoke was like Jacob. Jacob was more gentle in his way of speaking than Esau who is a bit more abrupt and harsh.

Etz hyim. Translation doesn't show the manner of Esau's speech well ... Isaac knows that this is not Esau but goes along with the deception.
Ambiguity persists because the name is not specified in the blessing.

V22 Jacob drew close to touch him .... Jacob is afraid. Angels sent to help him.
The voice is the voice if Jacob the hands are the hands of Esau.

Much Midrash on this most from a metaphoric vantage.
Soforno... No resemblance really between human and goat skin..either a very good costume or Isaacs touch was not so keen.

Voice of Jacob cries out for what Esau has done
Hands of Esau represents the hands of Rome.

Eli Munk. Jacob’s only power is in his voice. (people Israel) Esau's power was his hands. ( rest of the world). Balem says to look at their places of worship see if filled with children... As long as the voice of Israel is heard then the "hands of Esau" will not overcome the voice.
Esau power only as far as his reach ... Jacobs words penetrate much farther.

Brad Artsen. Illusion to voice and hands. Esau symbol if others. Jacob symbol of people of Israel. Always dominated by the hands of Esau.

Reality of the relationship between Jews and Gentiles

If voice not heard then only left with brute force.

When we are true to our message then we can gain strength...otherwise under the domain of military force.

Today Israel is trying to integrate the “Hands and the Voice”.
Time to reevaluate the image of Jews as studious only... Important to have a military balance...compensation. Maybe now over compensation for previous weakness.

Tough Jews change image from meek to militant...

v23-24. Cognitive dissidence Didn't recognize him... Again this theme of disguise comes up many times in this story.
Rashi...are you really my son Esau? Answer ... I am.. It is I. He doesn't say "I am Esau".
Difficulty shown in the response.

Give me food.... Is it Esau's special cooking? Significance to the eating...reference to a sense of joy... induce good humor...or to ward off the suspicion.
Midrash re kiddush why the wine is blessed before the bread...

Big Question Here:
Where did the wine come from?
Eli Munk. Cantilation sign in this verse (only 5 times) notes that there is something else happening... The wine came from the angels...and brought on the blessings...

Next week the actual blessing.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Food / Disguise / Blessings - Rebecca's Doing

Torah Study with Rabbi Janet Marder

Genesis 27:14-29 Food focus... Disguise... Blessing...

V14. Hebrew three verbs..he went he took he brought.. Sarna says staccato shows he is nervous. Other interpretation...Midrash that Jacob is eager to do this. Doesn't include the word run..midrashm says this is significant

Different Midrash gives a different twist to this.

Clothing...Esaus clothes on Jacob. A special occasion may have been his "clean"clothes...the ones saved for his father. Esau known to be devoted to his father.
This is exemplified by this interpretation based on the clothing that Rebecca picked for Jacob to wear as a disguised.

Our best energies are often given to strangers and we are too often lax when around our family and close friends..

Clothes in her house...why? Rashi...Esau had multiple wives...he suspected his wives not really trust them (idolitors) so he kept his clothes at his mothers house...

Some people justify the deception based on the goal.

Cathexis...word about learning from parents.

She dressed her son..put his clothes on..dress child to create the image you want. Jacob allowed her to dress him showing his reluctance to do it himself...

Women's Commentary...Rebecca is in control of what happens in the family...she is in a position of authority and control.

What is the difference between birthright and blessing? Unclear.
Birthright more material and blessing more spiritual...except this particular blessing does relate to material..

She covers him with the skins of the goats and covers the smooth parts of his body..

V17. Gives the food and bread...

Robert Greek drama only two characters at a time.

V 18. One word."father" - Sarna. Jacob is afraid... Contrast to what Esau says when he arrives. Jacob can only say one word.
Kimkee a courteous way to announce himself...
Or it was a test to see if Isaac recognizes him.. He still had a chance to change his mind.

V18 response from I am ...ref to the Aikidah. Who Are you? Many interpretation....
Some translations say, "Which son are you?" This translation may gives erroneous interpretation.

Rather "who are you my son?" is asking more for an interpretation of his life. Jacob continues to think of this question for the rest of his life.

Jacobs answer, I am Esau your first born.
Rashi..I am the one who is bringing this to you...Esau is your first changing punctuation they show how Jacob is trying not to lie.

Heneni ... The word can be read that Isaac is there for both of his sons.

Theme that Isaac had blessings for both of his sons... Rebecca didn't know this.

Sit up and eat my game... Reflects that Isaac is bed ridden.

Now Isaac asks how did he got back so quickly?
Jacob lies...and he attributes this to God.

Isaac is used to God intervening..Jacob is saying that God intervenes for him as well.