The Definition of a Miracle

Discussion in 'Judaism' started by Ben Masada, Dec 6, 2011.

  1. Saltmeister

    Saltmeister The Dangerous Dinner

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    Everyone who reads the Bible brings their biases and prejudices with them. Every interpretation must be judged on the merits of the reasoning and arguments it uses. The more educated the interpreter, the more likely the interpretation is to be accurate. There is no right interpretation, but better education leads to more accurate interpretations.
     
  2. Saltmeister

    Saltmeister The Dangerous Dinner

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    It depends whether you more knowledgeable, experienced or qualified than the teacher on the topic at hand. I won't assume that a so-called teacher is always better equipped than you. But if the teacher is wrong, you have to prove that they are wrong. You also have to prove that the "teacher" isn't worth the respect most people give them. If the teacher is wrong, challenge the teacher.

    That's not entirely true. I think many of these "sheeple" aren't actually smart enough to challenge the reasoning of their teachers. That's why they submit.

    To think for ourselves we need both knowledge and teachers. The trouble with many of these "half-assed teachers" is that they are not " true educators." They don't actually teach people to think. They don't educate. They don't train or guide you on the art of using knowledge to gain insights. Their students don't really learn anything because what they receive is indoctrination. They only learn the official ideology, not the opposing views or alternatives and without those you cannot compare or make judgments which is what true education teaches you.

    I think it depends on the level on which you want to be thinking on, and how important it makes you think you are about your apparent understand of the text.

    As someone with a Protestant background, I used to think the text alone was sufficient (ie. the Calvinist doctrine of sola scriptura), but I have discovered that there are many things that the text doesn't explain. The original context has been lost. To rediscover the original context, you need to pay attention to research from biblical scholars.

    Going back to my first paragraph in this part of my post, fundamentalist Christians think they know all they need to know about the Bible when they don't. They don't pay attention to the research of biblical scholars. That's a bit arrogant isn't it? I wish they would be humble enough to admit that there are people in the world who know the Bible better than they do and can speak on more important issues and that these fundies really don't have the right to preach about their moral superiority because they aren't knowledgeable enough to even talk about those "important issues."

    For simple issues, the Bible can be easily read, but not on more important issues. Important issues should be left to those who do the research.

    I don't think elitism is always wrong because when it comes to important issues you really need this "elite" to explain the problem, the situation and the solution.

    That's what I think the difference is between an ordinary Jew and a rabbi. The ordinary Jew doesn't have time to think about the important issues and when he does need to solve them, he has to consult a rabbi.
     
  3. Dream

    Dream Well-Known Member

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    To clarify what I've said: "The Bible should not have been translated to be read plainly by the uneducated," many millions are introduced to the Bible as a survival kit/ inflatable raft. Others think its arcane literature like Shakespeare. There is not a general awareness of its learning level. Anybody can be an expert in five days and have people lining up for classes.
     
  4. bananabrain

    bananabrain awkward squadnik

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    well, my question stands. now i don't know much about science, but as i remember there's no way we evolved our brain cases and jaws without being carnivorous. as for wearing clothes due to increasing hairlessness, i presume that has other perfectly good evolutionary reasons. i don't see how the article can possibly assert the things it does. and, lest we forget, it also has nothing to do with the genesis text.

    to be fair, we don't either, although there is quite a lot of speculation by the sages as to why G!D didn't Choose someone else like the egyptians, for example. more to the point, it wasn't about "majorities" - initially, G!D Chose abraham and his descendants, but obviously a number of tests were carried out on the people concerned to ensure that we were up to the job, which we didn't always pass, but then again perhaps we didn't understand what was being tested. furthermore, there are clearly problems with your assertion that "the majority were illiterate and uneducated" compared to china - i don't see how that can be substantiated; besides, you have to start somewhere, with someone - and, clearly the fact that we remain the only surviving diaspora culture that dates back to the ancient world is somewhat convincing that the choice was correct. similarly, one of the things that G!D Said to abraham was that "through you all the peoples of the earth will be blessed"; i think there's a certain amount of evidence that the planet is a better place because of jewish people being jewish people, or at least i certainly hope that is the case.

    if you take the year counting system as being literal and equivalent to our years, which, strictly speaking, one shouldn't.

    yeah, that must be why nobody ever took any notice of us and why we have never affected human society as a whole. sheesh.

    an unwarranted generalisation. i love it when people call us "inferior", you have to wonder what rulebook they're using and what exactly they mean by it.

    i agree with all of this, with the proviso that certain interpretations are "righter" than others.

    whereas we jews have never, ever done anything like that. nor have we ever developed, say, a life-long learning culture based on close questioning and peer-reviewed textual analysis of every aspect of a statement. oh, hang on....

    that's really a practicality; our actual obligation is to know enough so that consulting a rabbi is not necessary except in the case of a conflict, although unfortunately there is a trend at present of disempowering the individual and professionalising and institutionalising rabbiic decision-making in all areas which i really, really object to.

    well, not in judaism they can't.

    b'shalom

    bananabrain
     
  5. Dream

    Dream Well-Known Member

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    I feel a little out of my element in this forum, but the way I now see it is the Bible is part of a whole system like sugar is part of a pie. This pie though has many other expensive ingredients. In response to your question "why would a teacher's interpretation (subject to their particular biases) be any better for me than my own interpretation?" Neither would be sufficient alone, and you'd need more than that besides. I'm saying you can't hand strangers a Bible and expect them to live their lives by it, just like you cannot give chefs only sugar and expect them to make a pie out of it. A Bible on its own is like a ladder with only two rungs and its like a citizen who has no rights.
     
  6. bananabrain

    bananabrain awkward squadnik

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    *claps loudly for dream*

    b'shalom

    bananabrain
     
  7. radarmark

    radarmark Quaker-in-the-Making

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    Perhaps the truth is somewhere in between. One can read the Word and comprehend what the words mean. The deeper interpretation comes about by looking at tradition--how people have interpreted in the past. I include such hypothetical interpretations as the "Early Jesus People" of Mack, the "Scribes" of Ehrman, and the many non-cannonical works (Thomas, Shepard).

    Think of it as a scientific experiment. One can take a gyroscope or top and spin it up and pretty much see and feel the effects of centripedal force. Fine, that is like reading the Word (in translation and depending on translators). To understand inertia, Newton's Bucket and Mach's Principal one must go deeper. One must refer to written texts (like looking up the tradition). Finally one works out the math on their own. This final step is like interpreting the text on one's own in light of tradition and other commentary. Does it fit? Does it make sense in tems of the foundation?
     
  8. Ben Masada

    Ben Masada Well-Known Member

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    Does it mean that Mark Twain was such a stupid moron as to write the following essay about the Jews, if they were such a stupid People as you imply them to be?

    The Essay of Mark Twain About the Jews.

    "If the statistics are right, the Jews constitute but one percent of the human race. It suggests a nebulous dim puff of star dust lost in the blaze of the Milky Way.

    Properly the Jew ought hardly to be heard of, but he is heard of, has always been heard of. He is as prominent on the planet as any other people, and his commercial importance is extravagantly out of proportion to the smallness of his bulk.

    His contributions to the world's list of great names in literature, science, art, music, finance, medicine, and abstruse learning are also way out of proportion to the weakness of his numbers.

    He has made a marvellous fight in the world, in all the ages; and has done it with his hands tied behind him. He could be vain of himself, and be excused for it.

    The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greek and the Roman followed, and made a vast noise, and they are gone; other peoples have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now, or have vanished.

    The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind. All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?

    Mark Twain
     
  9. Ben Masada

    Ben Masada Well-Known Member

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    The serpent, metaphorically, was an emissary of God Himself trying to convince Adam and Eve to take possession of the attribute of knowledge, which was there for the take, and they had misunderstood God's Word about it. As the attribute of freewill was in the choice that was up to them to use in the decision to go for it. But the attribute of eternal life was not for them; although, symbolized by the tree of life, it was also in the middle of the Garden. Since Adam and Eve had taken the so-called prohibition too seriously, they had never approached the tree of knowledge. Hence, the tree of life had never been touched either for being in the same area of the Garden. As they finally ate of the tree of knowledge and acquired the attribute of an intellect with the potential to evolve, the tree of life was in line. That's why they were banned before that happened. But all metaphorically, in terms of what attribute was to be granted and what was not to.
    Ben
     
  10. Etu Malku

    Etu Malku Mercuræn

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    Mark Twain's true opinion of the Jews is probably the best kept secret in American literary history. Immediately after his death, his eccentric daughter Ckara married a Jewish piano player, Otto Gabriilowitsch.


    Twain's publishers were given speedy instructions to delete "Concerning the Jews" from the collected works, where it had appeared in the Book THE MAN THAT CORRUPTED HADLEYBURG AND OTHERS STORIES. The following is taken from Harper's Monthly Magazine, September 1899, as quoted in William Grimstad's ANTI-ZION:
    *********************************************************************

    Please don't put words in my mouth, I never said Jews were stupid people.
     
  11. Ben Masada

    Ben Masada Well-Known Member

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    Good point! A derailed thread would wobble without direction and eventually lose the target it meant to point to. It has happened here quite too often.
    Ben
     
  12. Ben Masada

    Ben Masada Well-Known Member

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    That's a fantastic essay, this one of "Concerning the Jews" by Mark Twain. I had never read it before. Believe it or not, it made me feel rather no less proud of being Jewish. If Mark Twain is not somehow exaggerating a little, nothing said was or is against the law. It only shows how smart this people have been throughout their history in this world since Joseph, and even before, with his father Jacob in Padan Aram, if you had read a little further back. Thanks for the wonderful info. Nothing in my thoughtful attitude about Mark Twain's memory has changed.
    Ben
     
  13. bananabrain

    bananabrain awkward squadnik

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    so, if i understand this correctly, you're saying that in activating the "choice" module, that thereby brought the tree of life into the firing line, but the "eternal life" module was not available in the way the tree of knowledge was? remember, we still cling to the "tree of life" outside eden, namely, the Torah. perhaps the tree of life that was in the garden was the "primordial Torah" - that too cannot be grasped with a human mind, only the Torah of the lower worlds?

    i'm a little confused by this; are you saying that the "aren't the jews great" opinion is true, or the "jews are money-grabbing bloodsuckers" opinion is true? the second seems to predate the first and then get hastily concealed once his daughter marries a jew. which is his "true" opinion, do you think? is he changing his mind or concealing his real views? can you clarify and what is it based on? i'm not sure i like the sound of william grimstad.

    well, you certainly weren't being complimentary, calling us illiterate and uncultured. i can assure you that both our all-encompassing cleverness and our global villainy are equally ill-conceived, stereotypical and prejudiced notions. i find both essays by mark twain equally cringe-inducing in their apparent lack of perspective.

    b'shalom

    bananabrain
     
  14. Etu Malku

    Etu Malku Mercuræn

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    bananabrain:
    I think the point I'm making is that what Mark Twain thought about the Jewish was contradictory and confusing in and of itself.
     
  15. ilmawaqa

    ilmawaqa Active Member

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    nice post ben. You start conTRIBUTE for atTRIBUTE of the knowledge of salvation. Ancients make suchTRIBUTE by building pyramids , megaliths ,temples etc.
    G D bless you.
     
  16. seattlegal

    seattlegal Mercuræn Buddhist

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    My humble opinion is that Abraham lived in an area where they were practicing human sacrifice, AND he also had a conscience! He could tune into both the "spirit" that lead people to sacrifice their children, AND he also didn't "tune out" his conscience that said it was wrong. He implemented the substitution of animals for sacrifice for humans, which was a big step. Later, the animal sacrifices were confined to the temple, rather than being widespread throughout the land. Another big step! Next step: giving the Law, and the conscious contemplation over the logic employed in the Law. Next step: integrating the logic with the conscience: still a work in progress. Still, much progress has been made over the people of the land practicing human sacrifice all over the place!

    Just my humble opinion.
     
  17. Ben Masada

    Ben Masada Well-Known Member

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    BB, of course, I am sure you know that there is nothing literal about the Genesis account of Creation. There was no such a thing as tree of knowledge or tree of life. Trees were thought of just to symbolize the granting of attributes to men and not to animals. The eternal life module was never to be available to man; although the tree of life was there but only to be the reason for the awareness to be implanted in man's intellect that eternal life was not an attribute to be granted. Perhaps to remind man that to be like God, knowing good from evil, did not include to live forever.
    And yes, I agree with you about being Torah the tree of life for those who live by it; but while they live. Once they die, the Torah has ceased to be their tree of life. Isn't God the God of the living and not of the dead? There!
    Ben
     
  18. Ben Masada

    Ben Masada Well-Known Member

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    Thank you, and God bless you too from Yerushalaim.
    Ben
     
  19. Ben Masada

    Ben Masada Well-Known Member

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    And a very wise one.
    Ben
     
  20. bananabrain

    bananabrain awkward squadnik

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    *claps loudly for seattlegal, who as usual gets it*

    aha, now i understand; thanks for clarifying. a reasonable point and, i think illustrates that both extreme praise and extreme condemnation are not all that helpful when you're trying to understand something in a measured, reasonable way.

    dude - for me, the ma'aseh bereisheeth is a text of astonishing profundity, anagogical richness and terseness which underpins an entire substitious structure. the concepts described are of enormous significance to both our literal reality as humans and our philosophical and spiritual frameworks. now this might be so much "word salad" to some, but let us dispense with the idea that we need to debate whether it is "literal" or not; i leave that to those weasels who are pushing so-called "creation science" - which is neither Creation nor science; a sterile battle of no interest.

    what's the basis for this statement in the text?

    perhaps. i don't see, however, what your basis is for assuming that the "tree of life" is about "eternal life"? remember, theologically speaking, if one believes in the idea that one's soul continues after death, that is not really at issue. perhaps unusually unlike the greeks, egyptians, assyrians and babylonians, i am not aware that we have ever considered immortality to be something to aspire to; i just don't think that's in our culture.

    on the contrary - if G!D Is G!D, then G!D Is G!D of all - remember, in G!DSpace, to my way of thinking, there's no time, so life and death cannot be separate; plus, of course, there is considerable Talmudic source material that describes stuff the moses got up to with G!D after his death, including studying Torah, so clearly by that logic the Torah continues to be the "tree of life" after death; but, again, this is just opinion-based casuistry, we have no way of actually *knowing* this stuff.

    b'shalom

    bananabrain
     

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