June 30, 2008

A Short Vent and Maybe a Long Vacation

What the hell is this blog about? Hmmmm? I don't know myself. I'll tell you what though. I'm very tired. My soul is tired. I haven't been happy in quite a while. I've been blogging for 3+ years now and I tell you, I'm just tired. I can't work, I can't live, I can't focus on anything. Anything, but religion that is, and there is nothing healthy about that. I mean, how much can you think about DH and morality and God and everything else that is discussed on these blogs ad nauseam. 

I think it's obvious now. The Torah as we have it today, as we have had for at least 2,500 years is NOT all from the time of Moses. I say not all, because I think I do believe in revelation. That something was experienced and something was given (The problem is, "something" is not really going to motivate me to stop shaving with a razor). It seems when reading Tanach, an overall encompassing theme is that God took them out of Egypt and that commandments and laws were given to a man they supposedly all know and love, Moses (no, not me). The word "sefer" is used (I believe scarcely) but that can mean anything. Maybe Moses wrote a bit and things were were added here and there over centuries. Who knows? I am not really a supporter of DH, but that does not automatically make me a believer in the Sefer Torah being written all by Moses.

Everyday I come to work and blog, but it's always the same old crap. Honestly, the only blog worth anything for Jewish (historical) learning is probably On The Main Line. But I falsely deluded myself into thinking some great miracle could be found there. I also came a realization that most people are just sheep. That goes for skeptics too. Most skeptics knowledge of DH is but a "copy & paste" trick. They don't know anything. They know it exists and are eager to pass this information on.  They have no idea of what real linguistics are but are quite capable of tossing Cassutto aside. Why? Because current scholars of tossed him. I am always curious to know if they really DO believe he is outdated, or they believe he is outdated because they are told to say that. Sheep. Of course this says nothing of DH. It might all be totally true, I am merely offering my view of the nature of the beast. 

Anyways, my wife says I need to stop blogging. That if I stop blogging, I won't constantly think about about all this stuff. She might have a slight point. But nothing will change. I will probably always have this stuff in my mind. I think she will see that for herself. So, in light of that, I will be taking some time off. I will give it a month. That's a good start. I mean, honestly, what am I going to miss? If I slip up, then I slip up. It's not easy just quiting after so long after all. 

I will be checking my emails, so feel free to email me anytime you want. Those with my number can even call me. After all, I met some wonderful people here that I consider friends. If anyone has some advice for motivation to keeping halacha or some of it, I would love to hear it. As long as it's not the same ol "even if its not directly from God, the fact that we took it upon ourselves is still a reflection of his will." Sorry guys, I tried that. It doesn't work :)

June 25, 2008

Where's Shifra

Long ago, in another time, in another place there used to live a little  ol' lady. A lady, by the name of, Shifra. She was our official Blogger psychologist and  possibly had the best blog all around. Much funnier than Jameel any day of the week. In fact I would put my money on Shifra that she could easily kick Jameels ass. Anyways she has been MIA for about five months now. 
I am officially offering a reward of $100,000* for her, dead or alive.

*will be paid via a one time $10 Coffee Bean gift card 

June 24, 2008

Rabbi Joseph ben Isaac

Frumheretic has an interesting post, comparing the two accounts of the Israelites complaining to God regarding their food situation. In one case in Exodus they complain and are given Manna and in Numbers they complain and God gives them meat. To tell you the truth, I never thought about this incident so hard, but apparently Frumheretic believes this is an obvious case of two separate traditions. You can find a nice little graph on his site.

The most interesting part of that post is at the end. When doing some online sloothing, he not only found that his observation has been talked about before, but that it was brought up all the way back in the 12th century by a commentator by the name of Joseph ben Isaac, known as the Bekhor Shor, a student of Rabbenu Tam. A bit of googling led me to this file discussing biblical criticism and has a section titled "Classical rabbinical views that suggest multiple origins." This is what was said about Rabbi Joseph ben Isaac.
In the twelfth century, the commentator R. Joseph ben Isaac, known as the Bekhor Shor, noted that a number of wilderness narratives in Exodus and Numbers are very similar, in particular, the incidents of water from the rock, and the stories about manna and the quail. He theorized that both of these incidents actually happened once, but that parallel traditions about these events eventually developed, both of which made their way into the Torah.
If true, I am a bit confused as to what to make of this. Did he believe in post-Mosaic additions to the Torah? Did he simply believe that God took one incident and repeated it in the Torah for whatever reason? Did he really believe in two separate traditions regarding this part of the text? This is something I am terribly ignorant on and would like some help.

Who was this rabbi? What did he believe? Are the critics simply taking a comment of his out of context?

June 23, 2008

King Solomon Entertains a Bible Critic- From 'On The Main Line' Archives

I am sure S. won't mind me putting this up from his archives. Going through his archives is always fun. It reminds me of going through my Grandfather's garage to find any little "chachke" to look at. Anyways, this is an little piece that I thought would be interesting to share. I am sure many of the new bloggers have never see it before either.

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June 16, 2008

Friedman's "Hidden Book in the Bible"

I was curious if anyone has read Richard Friedman's Hidden Book in the Bible. From the reviews I am reading on the Amazon site, it looks as if Friedman has done a good job at reconstructing the "book of J" from the beginning of creation to the coronation of King Solomon. Any thoughts on the book?
In some interesting or surprising side news, a rabbi in my shul has informed us that he is (or will be) starting to discuss higher biblical criticism in his high school classrooms. He mentioned bringing in Cassutto which he readily admitted to being outdated, but that it is at least a starting point. I wish him luck

June 11, 2008

Other Side of the Jordan and Ruth

אֵלֶּה הַדְּבָרִים, אֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר מֹשֶׁה אֶל-כָּל-יִשְׂרָאֵל, בְּעֵבֶר, הַיַּרְדֵּן
These are the words which Moses spoke unto all Israel beyond the Jordan; in the wilderness, in the Arabah, over against Suph, between Paran and Tophel, and Laban, and Hazeroth, and Di-zahab.
Bible critics inform us that the very first pasuk suggests that it was written by someone inside Israel much later on, due to the fact that it says בְּעֵבֶר, הַיַּרְדֵּן (beyond the Jordan, or, on the other side of the Jordan). I never fully thought that this was an issue because I felt that one can easily interpret בְּעֵבֶר, הַיַּרְדֵּן as a specific location (X), regardless of it being compared to another location. Basically, being on the east bank of the Jordan was referred to as בְּעֵבֶר, הַיַּרְדֵּן because their goal in my mind is to be in Israel. While reading the book of Joshua, I found this same phrase right in the beginning.

Joshua 1:14
נְשֵׁיכֶם טַפְּכֶם, וּמִקְנֵיכֶם, יֵשְׁבוּ, בָּאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר נָתַן לָכֶם מֹשֶׁה בְּעֵבֶר הַיַּרְדֵּן; וְאַתֶּם תַּעַבְרוּ חֲמֻשִׁים לִפְנֵי אֲחֵיכֶם
Your wives, your little ones, and your cattle, shall abide in the land which Moses gave you beyond the Jordan; but ye shall pass over before your brethren armed...
Joshua uses the same phrase when stating that the women, children and cattle will stay put at their present location (בְּעֵבֶר הַיַּרְדֵּן). Clearly Joshua has not crossed the Jordan yet, where it would have matched the bible critics, instead, he uses it as a delineation of a specific location regardless of where he is currently standing.

Next Subject: Ruth

The last portion of Megillat Ruth is devoted to the geneology of Peretz to David:

Ruth 4:18

אֵלֶּה תּוֹלְדוֹת פָּרֶץ, פֶּרֶץ הוֹלִיד אֶת-חֶצְרוֹן. יט וְחֶצְרוֹן הוֹלִיד אֶת-רָם, וְרָם הוֹלִיד אֶת-עַמִּינָדָב. כ וְעַמִּינָדָב הוֹלִיד אֶת-נַחְשׁוֹן, וְנַחְשׁוֹן הוֹלִיד אֶת-שַׂלְמָה. כא וְשַׂלְמוֹן הוֹלִיד אֶת-בֹּעַז, וּבֹעַז הוֹלִיד אֶת-עוֹבֵד. כב וְעֹבֵד הוֹלִיד אֶת-יִשָׁי, וְיִשַׁי הוֹלִיד אֶת-דָּוִד
Now these are the generations of Perez: Perez begot Hezron; 19 and Hezron begot Ram, and Ram begot Amminadab; 20 and Amminadab begot Nahshon, and Nahshon begot Salmon; 21 and Salmon begot Boaz, and Boaz begot Obed; 22 and Obed begot Jesse, and Jesse begot David.
I'm not sure if anyone has mentioned this before, but I find this geneology to be a bit short. Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe a span of approximately 600-700 years pass between the birth of Perez and the birth of David. The list seems to be lacking for such a wide span of time.

If you look closely at the text you will see something interesting. In the english translation it says Nachshon begot Salmon and Salmon begot Boaz, but that is not what the hebrew says. The hebrew says Nashshon begot Salma and Salmon begot Boaz. I have a feeling most people think they are the same name (as well as those at Machon Mamre). But what if they aren't? Perhaps these are two separate people and the author was basically missing a whole slew of other names to fit in the geneology.


June 5, 2008

Kudos to Gil

Gil Student has decided to post a book review on Bondage of the Mind by R.D. Gold. But its not going to be any regular book review, he is going to be discussing this chapter by chapter. Now, I think only reason he would do this is because the book DOES in fact have some merit to its arguments. The truth is, I commend him for it. Even though its just some regular shmoe that wrote the book, its delivered in a very simple but thought provoking manner that DOES need to addressed. As Gils says:

Additionally, I am reviewing this book because I believe that it is the beginning (or middle) of a growing trend of anti-Orthodox arguments that we ignore at our own peril. After consultation with a rabbinic advisor, I have decided to publish this detailed review.

For many years we Orthodox have had the luxury of presenting any argument we want without challenge, and as long as someone was convinced (or we convinced ourselves) no one objected. We are finally being challenged and I think that it will only make us stronger.

I trust Gil is at least going to give it his best shot and hopefully be honest enough when Gold does have a point. After all, even Gil said Gold had some good arguments. At least this review won’t be anything like another “award winning blog.”I personally look forward to these next few posts of his and I recommend you don’t miss it either. So give him hell ;)

June 4, 2008

The Origins of the Magen David Revealed?

There are a few theories out there as to the origins of the Magen David. Most of them can be find right here. I recently heard of a new theory proposed that the Magen is actually the flower cups on top of the menorahs that hold the oil. Looking  down from above, you would see a Lily(?) shaped cup with 6 points. I think someone is even making a DVD about it. 
Anyways, last night I received an email with a powerpoint presentation as to the origins of the Magen David. (Disregard the orange blocks. It's just a font issue). This was a new one and actually quite creative.
1) It starts off by giving you the name of  Hashem

2) Then, it does something odd by converting the text into some lined version of the above text.

3) After that, the pieces are cut and placed together, though, as you notice, you the arrow tells you that you have to rotate it first in order for all the pieces to fit at its appropriate place. 

4) And presto, you have a Magen David

The Powerpoint presentation claims this the secret behind the Magen David. I'm sure this is going to appear in the next kiruv seminars. Actually its quite funny, because if anyone has ever been to one, and in this case, an Israeli one, you will notice the dialogue in the Powerpoint presentation of "simu lev" (pay attention) is often used in seminars when they are in front of some projector screen showing you a recently discovered proof. I could just picture a particular rabbi saying it right now :)

If anyone is interested in the Powerpoint file, just drop me an email.

June 1, 2008

A Geek Is...

Someone that goes around discussing the LOST season finale with everyone in shul, including the rabbi's wife, and then spends his Saturday night reading On The Main Line archives.

OK. Off to bed.