Discussion in 'Interfaith Parsha Project' started by dauer, Sep 18, 2005.
i think you are doing just fine, pohaikawahine
Poh, you're doing great. There are actually four levels of meaning associated with Torah so it's okay to get to the more symbolic. And you're also doing exactly what I hoped for, which is bringing your experiences and background to the text. You may find it rewarding to to explore other levels of meaning as well, for me personally I do not feel there only has to be one meaning, but do not feel pressured to do so, as whatever approach you can bring will be welcome. It is also possible to dialogue around the symbolic readings, but debate can't happen there so much, because it is so much more subjective. It's all quite subjective to me, but especially so for the symbolic, exegetical interpretations.
I was actually rethinking the curses from a modern scholarly perspective, in Wilberese I'm switching from LL to LR.
According to the majority of modern scholars, Deuteronomy, the text, was written by scribes during the reign of king Hezekiah. One of the things Hezekiah did is take all of the country folk and move them into the cities before he cut off his payments to the Assyrians and they swept in to destroy everything. Out in the boondocks, there was no Temple to go to. Instead, the people would go to their ancestral shrines, very similar to Spanish Catholics who have Mary of this and Mary of that, there was Yhwh of this and Yhwh of that. Same God but somehow a different expression, and you'd know which one to go to depending on your need. So to look at these curses:
"15. "Cursed be the man who makes any graven or molten image an abomination to the Lord, the handiwork of a craftsman and sets it up in secret! And all the people shall respond, saying, 'Amen!' "
This could be a reference to those countryfolk. Hezekiah had to make sure that they assimilated properly into city life, and gave up their old practices. So they couldn't go in secret and do this-n-that, which would be returning to their old ways.
"16. Cursed be he who degrades his father and mother. And all the people shall say, 'Amen!' "
I'm wondering if this one is actually a reference to the text itself, as if to say, "Don't forget what this text of your ancestors says."
"7. Cursed be he who moves back his neighbor's landmark. And all the people shall say, 'Amen!' "
There was a huuuuge population change in the cities because of all of the people of the land coming in. I think that the crowdedness probably gave reason to state such a law.
"18. Cursed be he who misguides a blind person on the way. And all the people shall say, 'Amen!'19. Cursed be he who perverts the judgment of the stranger, the orphan, or the widow. And all the people shall say, 'Amen!'"
I think that the stranger here is these new people coming in. And the blind person is the new people who don't know how to behave in a new society. The orphans and widows, I think this might attest to the fact that some families didn't go in entirety to the city, or it may just be a way of validating this text with an older one.
"20. Cursed be he who lies with his father's wife, thus uncovering the corner of his father's garment. And all the people shall say, 'Amen!' 21. Cursed be he who lies with any animal. And all the people shall say, 'Amen!' 22. Cursed be he who lies with his sister, his father's daughter or his mother's daughter. And all the people shall say, 'Amen!' 23. Cursed be he who lies with his mother in law. And all the people shall say, 'Amen!' "
The people coming in were really people of the land, backwater, incestual. By keeping it in the family, those items which were handed down to one person would be inherited back into the family a few generations later. And you can understand with shepherds why it's necessary to mention animals...
"24. Cursed be he who strikes his fellow in secret. And all the people shall say, 'Amen!' 25. Cursed be he who takes a bribe to put an innocent person to death. And all the people shall say, 'Amen!' "
There was probably a lot of craziness, a lot of violence and corruption, North vs South type stuff, all in these small cities. Craziness. And the whole thing during a siege! Oy...
"26. Cursed be he who does not uphold the words of this Torah, to fulfill them. And all the people shall say, 'Amen!'"
This Torah, this instruction, the instruction that was just given.
I'm wondering if the two mountains represent the South, which is where all these people are coming from, a way of including them in this thing. You know who was propheting during the time of Hezekiah? Isaiah and Micah. Crazy times. Not second Isaiah though. He came later.
And now this is starting to look more like an interfaith dialogue on the text. We have three views represented. This is good. Really good.
mahalo nui (thank you much) bandit and dauer for your words of support ...
In the book "In the Shadow of the Ladder" Introduction to Kaballah by Rabbi Ashlag translated by Mark and Yedidah Cohen who also added explantory chapters ..... there is a reference about the principle in Kabbalah that "God and the Torah are one and the same" and the Torah moves up and down through different worlds whereas "the garments in which the Torah is cloaked become ever coarser as the Torah moves downwards .... and as we move up through the worlds, the garments of the Torah become more and more pure and ethereal, until they fall away the the identity of the Torah with Divinity is fully apparent. " As an example the Torah tells us that a certain animal is permitted or forbidden to eat .... in the upper world it is really telling us that the spiritual essence of such and such an animal in the physical world is or is not appropriate to associate with. I suspect it is the same with the curses .... perhaps they are telling us about the spriitual essence of how to behave in our world .... it is also very interesting to note that there are 12 curses, perhaps associated with the 12 elders or 12 tribes in another level of meaning ....
just as the 12 elders or tribes are seperated on different mountains (one with curses and the other with blessings) we all have choices to make .... the curses tell us some of the things we should avoid or we will live in the barren land ....the blessings are the other road that we can take by living a life of balance and respect and love and we can live with blessings or in the garden of eden,the land of plenty, and we can do this if we live in accord with the teaching of the Torah .... he hawai'i au, poh (p.s. i didn't even mention the b***n once)
I think that the curses telling about a spiritual essence could be a possible reading, but these are commandments that are given somewhere else. So I almost feel like there has to be something deeper, why these are singled out. If every letter is holy as the kabbalah you're going by says, then repetition cannot be repeating the same teaching. It could be possible to say that this is to make these things emphasized, that they are more central.
That is a good point you made about the number 12. This ties into where I was going. There are 12 curses given to the 12 tribes who are divided, one on mount gerizim which sounds an awful lot like gerim or stranger, and one on mount ebal. Gerizim comes from "to cut off" and ebal means "barren." And I'll bet, I'm not good enough to know without looking up somewhere, that those tribes are divided on each mountain so the "strangers", the gerim coming from the outskirts are all situated on gerizim. And it says "this day you have become a people." Why? They had been in the wilderness all that time. I think it's because this is for a later Hezekian audience when the people of the land and the city folk were really being forced to become one people. And the ones doing the blessing are the "gerim", the foreigners, and the curse is the ones on ebal, so that would further welcome the strangers, and then all the people respond together as a community "amen", and they do it 12 times.
And the names of the two mountains, it's like saying this is what happens when you're separated, and this is how you become separated, by letting yourself be cursed by these things.
Sorry... Had an aha! moment. I might use what I just wrote as the basis for a paper. But that's a while away. Maybe I'll find something better.
i can see also that is was a preparation for a future time. glad that was mentioned.
i see this also & we can live in accord with the teaching of the Torah.
blessings or cursings is up to us.
1. And Moses called all of Israel and said to them, "You have seen all that the Lord did before your very eyes in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh, to all his servants, and to all his land; 2. the great trials which your very eyes beheld and those great signs and wonders. 3. Yet until this day, the Lord has not given you a heart to know, eyes to see and ears to hear. 4. I led you through the desert for forty years [during which time] your garments did not wear out from upon you, nor did your shoes wear out from upon your feet. 5. You neither ate bread, nor drank new wine or old wine, in order that you would know that I am the Lord, your God. 6. And then you arrived at this place. And Sihon, the king of Heshbon, and Og, the king of Bashan, came out towards us in battle, and we smote them. 7. And we took their land, and we gave it as an inheritance to the Reubenites, the Gadites, and to the half tribe of Manasseh. 8. And you shall observe the words of this covenant and fulfill them, in order that you will succeed in all that you do.
Also please feel free to bring up anything that wasn't discussed now or anything that had been brought up already but that you'd like to get into deeper.
the heart to know, eyes to see and ears to hear may be related to the spiritual heart, eyes and ears and not the physical .... the reason the garments did not wear out or the shoes is, in my view, because this takes place in the "inner landscape" and not necessarily the physical .... part of the metaphors .... same with not eathing bread or drinking wine .... it was the barren land, the desert .... like the choice between the cursings at Mt. Ebal and blessings at Mt. Gerizim ... is it probably all related to the temple not built with human hands .... which as you well know by now in my view is the human head .... in hawaiian mythology we use as the symbol of this temple a story about a god called Kamapua'a (which is literally translated as the pig because the word pua'a means pig) and he used his great snout (by the way he is a giant of a pig) to push up the walls of the cliff .... Kamapua'a is the symbol of the great uplifting force and the inner meaning of his name is 'child of the sun' because the name breaks down into the following kama=child pua=flower a=sun, the flower of the sun, or the child of the sun ....
side note: I have a sister whose hawaiian name is Pualani (meaning pua=flower, lani=heaven or heavenly flower) but my brothers use to tease her and call her Pua'alani (or heavenly pig) .... well that is what brothers do .... but she was a fighter and would battle on her own behalf, no need to worry ...
Kamapua'a is also the opposing force in the pull of opposites .... so Kamapua'a in another legend woes the volcanoe goddess Pele and there are great epics of battle, love, conquest etc .... but the inner meaning has to do with the internal struggle and is actually very similar to the stories of Jacob and Esau ....
we are always faced with battles to overcome our ego-based emotions and world of materialism .... that is life and something we will always deal with as long as we are in the material world .... but our free will allows us to make better choices in this life and when we observe the words of the covenant and give them breath or life (we fulfill them) we will be success in all that we do .... that is our inheritance, our legacy, that left to us by our ancestors or the words of god .... in hawaii-nei (old hawaii) we would say our 'aumakua' or 'our ancestors' ....everything we did was to return to a life that was 'pono' which could be translated as 'righteous' or better-yet 'balanced' ....as in the battles between the opposites, we seek balance ..... balance ..... balance .... he hawai'i au, poh
when we get to the more narrative parshiyot, the ones that tell stories, I would be grateful if you could share with us from the depth of your comparative mythological knowledge. This is going to happen soon, as we are almost through Deuteronomy.
I noticed the same thing about the Temple not built by human hands, but I took it in a much different direction. I was thinking that this was a way to reinforce that all of the people would now worship in the same place, including the people who had just arrived.
I was thinking, it says, "The Lord did before your very eyes... the great trials which your very eyes beheld and those great signs and wonders" and then it says, "Yet until this day, the Lord has not given you a heart to know, eyes to see and ears to hear." So it doesn't seem like physical eyes to me either, although I think that to read it as physical eyes would be hyper-literal anyway. A heart to know sounds almost Eastern. Heart-mind.
It sounds to me like this passage is saying that seeing all of those mindblowing miracles did not give heart to know, eyes to see, ears to hear, but that none of this was accomplished until this last event, which seems like it might be happening at a later time because Moshe calls the people together, if I'm reading this right. But why heart to know and eyes to see and ears to hear? My feeling is that this is a way of including all of the senses involved. They feel it/know it, they see with their eyes that the land is almost theirs, and they hear the speech, or something like that. Not sure. Could use something to sharpen myself against.
Kind of just going off the cuff here, but I see a kind of sandwiching here, or perhaps a jello 1-2-3. First, a remembrance of Israel's bondage in Egypt, second a kind of mystical time, an in-between time, neither old nor new, in which the Israelites survived only upon God's Providence. In the desert they were totally dependent upon God, like an infant or an unborn baby is upon her mother. And though they saw the miracles in Egypt and ate manna in the desert, it says that until this day they still did not have a heart to know, or ears to hear, or eyes to see. Newborns. Third, they are delivered. Into what? We leave our mother's womb to enter a harsh world where at times it seems all we do is battle. What saves us? Observing the words of the covenant, heeding the warnings of our mother.
mitzrayim, the word for egypt, means a tight place. There's actually some beautiful feminist midrash on the Egypt saga, but I can get into that when we get there.
yep. Israel was hidden in this like a baby in the womb. in like figure the church was hidden in Christ & deliverd into.....
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