Interfaith Lech-Lecha

Discussion in 'Interfaith Parsha Project' started by dauer, Nov 6, 2005.

  1. dauer

    dauer Active Member

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    This week we look at:

    Genesis 12:1 - 17:27

    It's the introduction of Avram, who I consider to by mythical ancestor to a number of religions, others might consider to be actual ancestor to a number of religions, and still others might consider to be nothing at all. There is a lot that happens in this parsha. But let's start by looking at two passages:

    YHWH said to Avram:
    Go-you-fort
    from your land,
    from your kindred,
    from your father's house,
    to the land that I will let you see.
    I will make a great nation of you
    and will give-you-blessing
    and will make your name great.
    Be a blessing!
    I will bless those who bless you,
    he who curses you, I will damn.
    All the clans of the soil will find blessing through you!

    12:1-3

    How does this compare with 13:14-17

    YHWH said to Avram, after Lot had parted from him:
    Pray lift up your eyes and see from the place where you are,
    to the north, to the Negev, to the east, to the Sea:
    indeed, all the land that you see, I give it to you
    and to your seed, for the ages.
    I will make your seed like the dust of the ground,
    so that if a man were able to measure the dust of the ground, so
    too could your seed be measured.
    Up, walk about through the land in its length and in its breadth,
    for I give it to you.

    Both translations from Fox. How does each section compare to the other? What are the differences? These are only two of a number of such passages.

    Dauer
     
  2. pohaikawahine

    pohaikawahine Elder Member

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    ok - I'm going to try a different path and look at the more conventional perspective .... these are important as ways to look at how we live our lives and the messages within the Torah ....


    "Go for yourself from your land .... to the land that I will show .... So Abraham went as God had spoken to hi m..." (Genesis 12:1-4)

    I was looking at an interpretation by Adam Lieberman called "Moving with Purpose" and I really liked it ....

    Ten generations have passed since the death of Noah and the world has held contempt for any monotheist view ... Abraham however is still certain that there is only one God and began teaching this belief to anyone who would listen. When God saw how committed Abraham was to spreading this message, he appeared before him and told him to go to the land that he would give him. We are creatures of habit and don't like to move away from things that are familiar and comfortable. God not only told Abreaham to move, he didn't eedn tell him where he would be going. When an unknown is for a higher and greater purpose, the anxiety of change is "diluted in the sea of purpose" .... and sometimes we must go forward with what we know will make this a better world, sometimes we must step into the unknown and trust there is a higher reason. So we have a combination of change and faith reflected in this passage.

    Now .... just a small side-track into my other view .... Abraham must be willing to let go of the life he has known and the comfort of "home" to walk the spiritual path (the inner path symbolically) and he (as all of us) will be given a new land when he remembers the ancient ways and finds his way to the mountaintop or the promised land .... this does not mean that he gives up living, or even gives up on his family and home .... it only means that the spiritual path requires that we walk the path of the unknown through the inner passage and we must let go of our material values to ascend the spiral staircase .... I'm glad we are on Abraham, I really like him ....

    by the way Lech-Lecha makes me think of coffee and milk .... the words almost sound spanish .... I got a new computer today, can hardly believe how fast these new things are ....maybe I'll get better at the computer .... the note on the outside says "burn, flip, burn .... lightscribe DVD drive lets you laser-etch silkscreen quality text and images directly onto CDs and DVDs" (don't even know what that means, but look forward to learning) ....

    aloha nui, poh
     
  3. dauer

    dauer Active Member

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    Poh, I often look at the idea of leaving similarly. There is a midrash about how Abraham smashed the idols in his father's house, put the mallet in the hand of the largest one, which he had saved, and blamed it on him when his father came (playing philosophical mind games with his father.) So I often take this idea of smashing idols as letting go of old paradigms. What was once a comfort, now becomes a false and even idolatrous path. The new path goes beyond the old one. There is no way to return to the old ways and have it be as it once was. When you come around on the spiral to return, you've already progressed one full circle around. And you bring all of that new experience with you.

    I'm interested, why does it say from your land, then from your kindred, then from your father's house?

    I suppose it's getting more specific each time, but is there more to it than that? Why those specific things? What's so important about his father's house?

    Dauer
     
  4. pohaikawahine

    pohaikawahine Elder Member

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    dauer - seems the parsha project is going a little slow right now and it is primarily you and I that are iteracting .... do you want to continue or go on to other threads that you might want to put more energy into .... please don't keep this going because of me, it has started me on a path that will take me much time and study and I deeply appreciate what you started .... I will continue regardless in other venues .... one question however, how does the parsha discussions actually work in a synagog setting or is this something done at home with family ....

    now to the question you posed, what's so important about his father's house .... I think it is possible that if "his father's house" in anyway represents his own body, then the need to clear the way for the spiritual walk requires that one clean up their own home first .... one cannot become a role model of spiritual behavior unless they reflect this in all aspects of their life, especially the personal family life .... we all know that there are many that attend services of different religions and appear so pious and righteous yet are not within their own souls .... this would in modern days be known as "walking the talk" .... so the first steps are to clear the way within your own body "your fathers house)(health, thinking, etc) and then clear the way in your home (your kindred) (family, relationships, etc) and then begin the walk within your community and world .(your land) .... Abraham will go through many trials and tribulations yet guidance will always be forthcoming if he wishes enough to complete the walk to the promised land .... at each step he must reassess his commitment to a balanced and good life .... it is like the search for the holy grail .... the search is important because it brings into play all that one must overcome to reach the top of the mountain or to find the treasure at the end of the rainbow path .... he hawai'i au, poh
     
  5. dauer

    dauer Active Member

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    poh, "if we build it, they will come." I want to follow the parsha, and the more we build it up hopefully the more it can attract people on google searches for different obscure things. Torah study could be done in any setting. It could be two people working in a pair together going over a text, or someone going solo, or a group. It could mean working with medieval commentators, or with midrash, or just with the text, or with modern commentary and scholarship. There's really a lot of range. myjewishlearning.com has a good variety of types of study that it presents in its weekly study. Nothing too mystical though. But since it's mainly the two of us, and hopefully bandit, and some others, I really want this to be a discussion. We can develop it that way at the root. So if you feel pulled a little forward in the text, please, move it there. If you have questions you want to hear other answers to, ask them. And Bandit or anyone else, the same goes for you.

    Let's move on. Let's look at the fighting that is followed by malchitzedek as well as the section about malchitzedek.

    Dauer
     
  6. pohaikawahine

    pohaikawahine Elder Member

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    Ok .... let's continue to build .... I also like "melchizedek" but for this one I can't help but go outside the box for meaning ....I'll continue this one tomorrow am leaving for dinner right now ....aloha nui, poh
     
  7. pohaikawahine

    pohaikawahine Elder Member

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    Melchizedek is one of the more interesting names and figures in biblical text and is to my understanding associated with a high priesthood and has come to be associated with the concept of tithing or donations .. there was a time that only the high priest was allowed into the inner sanctum of the temple ....


    if we look at the concept of the "temple built without human hands" (which I interpret to be the human head), then the inner sanctum of the temple (which is related to the limbic system) is the place to understand the term Melchizedek and what tithing may actually mean ....

    the actual breakdown of the word "melchizedek" I found in a site called hidden meanings and this is it in a nutshell ....the roots of the word refer to black or darkness (Greek, melos - black) and other parts of the word link it to the meanings of "chi" life force, the 22nd letter of the Greek alphabet etc.

    Gen 14:18 And Melchizedek King of Salem brought forth bread and wine; and he was the priest of the most high God
    Bread is nourishment to the physical and wine to the spirit or
    consciousness (you can find this same interpretation in the Rubiyat of
    Omar Khayyam)

    Gen 14:20 And blessed be the most high God which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all. (Hebrews 7:2 To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of richteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is King of peace
    This is the instruction to give 10%

    Hebrews 7:3 Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, or end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest ....
    The tithing goes to someone, or something that has no parents, no descent, no beginning or end .... it does not go to prople or man made institutions or groups ....

    The above comes from the website hidden meanings in which it is concluded that the references to Melchizedek and 10% tithing has nothing to do with giving money to an institution, but has to do with tithing that takes place when one meditates .... the "tithing" is that we give up the 10% of our own minds to receive the remainder from the universal or cosmic spirit .... this is part of the process of enlightnment .... it probably sounds a little far fetched, but it makes a lot of sense if you understand what happens in deep meditative states when one reaches that place within the brain that connects us to God .... that place where we meet him face-to-face ....or when we meditate we tithe to the King of Salem which means the King of Peace ....

    terms like "sacrafice" and "tithing" all seem linked .... in the Zohar (translation by Daniel Chanan Matt) there is a portion that states

    "So too the Holy Land:
    If she had not been given first to Canaan to control,
    she would not have become the portion, the share
    of the Blessed Holy One.

    It is all one mystery"

    the 10% tithing, the portion, the share .... seem to be connected with wholeness when one becomes the "share of the Blessed Holy One" ....
    I think it is important to look at the possibilities of the meaning of "sacrafice" in a new light ... to sacrafice is to give up something usually in return for something greater ....it could all connect to meditation ....

    in a practical sense meditation involves the three hemispheres of the brain to come together and to act as one .... the three become One .... in one passage of the Zohar 3:16a two rabbis on a mystical journey to the Garden of Eden hear a voice saying: "They are two; one is joined to them, and they are three. When they become three, they are one." there is also another reference from the trances of Edgar Cayce who said "it will take three to open the hall of records" .... the "hall of records" or "study hall" is that place in the center of the brain ....

    well I tried, but I have probably muddled this up .... but it makes sense to me.... aloha nui, poh
     
  8. dauer

    dauer Active Member

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    That is very good. I don't think it's muddled. At least I can understand what you were trying to say.

    In Hebrew, melchitzedek means righteous king. I wonder if this was written by scribes under a particular dynasty that was trying to unite the temple cult under the kingship, as if to say that a rightous king our great ancestor would come to was righteous, and so too is our current king. Maybe Solomon, because Solomon was also taxing the people heavily. That could also be why it says Shalem, to hint at Jerusalem, which should be the center for all of Israel. And it makes it look okay that he has communication with foreign kings. And then following this Avram is rewarded, so it's like a double-whammy in support of all of this.

    Dauer
     
  9. pohaikawahine

    pohaikawahine Elder Member

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    that's really interesting dauer .... in hawaiian the word for a righteous man is "pono" which also means "balanced" .... which makes me think of the Star of David and one of its many symbols, that of the perfect balance (the two intertwined triangles) ....

    Before we leave Abraham .... his story is an important link in comparative religions because he is recognized in Judiasm, Christianity and Islam .... which is why it would be wonderful if others on this forum would post some thoughts on Abraham .... he is even honored in the Roman Catholic Mass in offerings "Look with favor on these offerings and accept them as once you accepted .... the sacrifice of Abraham" .... and I understand that in the Koran Abraham is the first man to make full surrender to Allah and each of the five repeittions of deaily prayer ends with a reference to Abraham and their holy book recounts Abraham's building of the Ka'aba, the black cube that is Mecca's central shrine. He is recognized in the Festival of Sacrifice, i which a lamb or goat is offered up to same near sacrafice of a son and it is one of the holiest days on the Islamic calendar. So it is also important at some point in time to really look at the meaning of what "sacrafice" is ....as discussed previously ....

    I also mentioned previously the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam . ... Omar Khayyam was a mystic and his poetry has both inner and outer meanings .... if I'm not mistaken, his father was a tent maker (now father's that are fishermen or tent makers are important symbols also) .... the "tent" is another metaphor for the veil that covers the brain (the arachnoid .... or spider's net) .... and remember the reference to "three" which is connected to the brain .... well in the story of Abraham it says "three strangers come to Abraham's tent. He shows them great hospitality. They turn out to be divine heralds who pledge that Sarah will bear a child."

    I also read that in the Koran "the boy Abraham smashes the idols in his father Terah's shop, a precursor of his allegiance to oen God. Later Abraham asks God's forgiveness."

    The story of Abraham changed the world .... perhaps the knowledge of Abraham will bring it back together .... aloha nui, poh
     
  10. dauer

    dauer Active Member

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    Let's look at this passage where hagar is expelled and given a blessing. Chapter 16. It's a difficult chapter because of what it relates to. How is this story told in the Koran? How would you feel if you were Hagar? If you were Sarai? What is God's role through the different parts of the story?

    Dauer
     
  11. pohaikawahine

    pohaikawahine Elder Member

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    this one I have to give some thought to .... it does not come clear to me as other portions do and I don't know why .... aloha nui, poh
     
  12. pohaikawahine

    pohaikawahine Elder Member

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    I'm back to try and tackle this one .... it has been going through my head all day .... I think one almost has to look at this in the context of one's own age .... I was wondering if this was really much different from surrogate parenthood today .... women who are willing to be the vehicle for birth for another .... makes me think of a couple that I know who could not have children of their own, they arranged for a surrogate mother to give birth and then the mother changed her mind after she had already released the child to them ... they were heartsick and reacted very emotionally ....

    in The Zohar there is a section called "Openings" and it starts "He (Abraham) was sitting in the opening of the tent ... Sarah heard from the opening of the tent. (and it ends) Therefore Abraham received the good news, this sphere delivered it, as has been said for it is written: The one said, "I will return to you when life is due" .... the same verse says: 'Sarah heard'. She heard the sphere speaking with her husband; someone she had never heard before. and so it is written: 'Sarah heard the opening of the tent' who was delivering the good news: 'I will return to you when life is due and your wife Sarah will have a son."

    "The opening of the tent is the opening of Righteousness .... through this opening, all other high openings come ito view. One who attains the clarify of this opening discovers all the other oopenings, for all of them abide here. Now that Israel is in exile this openingis unknown; all the openings have abandoned Her. It is impossible to know, impossible to grasp. But when Israel comes froth from exile, all the soarig spheres will touch down upon this opening, oe by one. " This is part of the good news that Abram receives that Sarah overheard.

    So Sarah is past child bearing age and she will be "sonned" through another, namely Hagar. But Hagar flees after Sarah is angered perhaps by Hagar looking a little down on her .... but God intervenes by allowing Hagar her own vision and a promise that she will be remembered through her many descendants .... and God had said "I will return to you when life is due" and he returned and intervened and Hagar gave birth to Ismael at the well ....

    Is Abram suppose to be neshamah, the soul-breath, the spiritual essence of the human being? The sefirot are suppose to be the openings for neshamah, for the human neshamah to approach he hidden God, and openings for Neshamah of neshamah (blessed holy one) to manifest. As for now I have pushed this section to the limits of my mind, but there is something just outside the edge that I still can't grasp .... aloha nui, poh
     

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