ITS Text #!. Agaddah from Taanit Bavli 20a-b presented by Dauer

Discussion in 'Interfaith Text Study' started by dauer, Nov 10, 2006.

  1. pohaikawahine

    pohaikawahine Elder Member

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2005
    Messages:
    660
    Likes Received:
    0
    so now we are at:

    The Rabbis learned: A person should always be soft like a reed and not hard like a cedar. A story: R'Eliezer son of Shimon came from the tower of Gador from the house of his teacher, he was riding on a donkey and traveling on the bank of a river and he was very happy ....

    riding on a donkey - the symbolism of the donkey (or chamor) (named for the reddish color of this donkey) usually refers to "humility" but is also important because isn't it said that one of the symbols of the return of the mosiach will be that he will be riding on a donkey .... so the donkey is important .... I also remember that in the story of the garden of eden, there is a talking donkey and something about how he (the donkey) forgot his name and Adam had to pull on his ears to remind him .... just random thoughts about the donkey,but it seems that the donkey is important...

    traveling on the bank of a river (the water's edge) or the river could be a stream .... when Rabbi Shimon and his son Elazar fled to the cave in the northern region of Israel, a miracle occurrred and a carob tree sprouted in the cave, along with a stream of water .... after leaving the cave and encountering people involved in mundane worldly pursuits, Rabbi Shimon turned to his son and said "Now I see the power of a Jew and his mitzvot" (Shabbat is a day within the pysical world which bridges the gap to the transcendent dimensions) .... is the stream of water related to the stream of consciousness? (I went and did some further research on bb's comment about the cave)

    The Zohar (3:291b) describes "Rabbi Shimon spent the entire day in a prophetic stream of consciousness, revealing the deepest mystical secrets of the Torah"

    and here is another (small differences) version of the story

    "The rabbis taught: A man should always be soft (i.e., pliable, yielding) as a reed, and not hard as a cedar-tree. It once happened that R. Elazar ben R. Simeon (should be R. Simeon ben Elazar) went from the tower of Gador, where resided his Master, riding on an ass. He rode leisurely on the banks of the river, being greatly rejoiced and feeling very proud on account of the wealth of knowledge he had accumulated from his Master."

    the tower of Gador, where resided his master .... this is an interesting reference and I'm wondering if it has any relevance to the "dwelling place" of great spiritual knowledge and insight .... I'm not familiar with Gador and could only find references to a tower somewhere in Spain .... need to keep looking ....

    all this to say it appears that we may be moving toward an understanding of how to access the stream of consciousness .... remaining flexible, able to flow and remember to stay humble in our thoughts and our actions .... aloha nui, poh
     
  2. dauer

    dauer New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2004
    Messages:
    3,103
    Likes Received:
    0
    Poh,

    All of that is beautiful, and it's also an excellent example of the method often used by people when they approach agaddah, which is to get exceedingly drashy and interpretive. For example, we'll see later that there's an ugly man. Someone might read ugly man, and then say, "Ah, an ugly man. R. Joshua ben Hananiah was ugly. This must be talking about him." But the text itself never alludes to anything but an ugly man, as we'll see later.

    There are times when there are very clear references to biblical stories, for example, there is another very well known story in which we find the walls of a building collapsing for R. Joshua. But that is something that's very blatant. And in reference to that same story, there are also those who would relate different parts of the story to aspects of the psyche, all of which on close examination I don't think are necessary to understand the message the authors were trying to convey. The attempt of the method which I am presenting is to get away from that and stay closer to the text, which I admit can be a lot harder sometimes, because it is limiting. But as we add more pieces there will be more room to stretch.

    It's in part the risk of becoming too interpretive that is why I try to caution so much about thinking that any of the words I'm suggesting are being used as allusions are actually allusions, because some are bound to be coincidence and some are allusion. We do know that all forms of wordplay abound in this type of lit, and certainly the people who put this down would have known the words that are either related, sound very similar, or share roots, and so would their audience.

    Dauer
     
  3. dauer

    dauer New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2004
    Messages:
    3,103
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hi all. :)

    I'm going to add another line which will give us the whole first scene, if you will.

    Poh,

    there's a phrase in the text and your translation, by being a bit looser, I think addresses it a bit better in English. Our translation say "and he was very haughty (d'aato gasa) because he learned much Torah. Da'at some of you might recognize is the word for knowledge, and this type of haughtiness relates specifically to feeling proud or superior or big or full of yourself because of your knowledge, because of what you've learned, so from Poh's translation the phrase "feeling very proud on account of the wealth of knowledge he had accumulated" addresses that well. gasa refers to gluttony, so you get this idea of a knowledge glutton who has gorged on knowledge. So a review:

    First we get a teaching that a person (adam used here) should be soft like a reed, not hard like a cedar. Then it jumps to the story. We have a guy whose name could mean God is my help son of listening coming from a tower whose name suggests the idea of something fenced off where he's been studying/worshipping with his teacher. He's riding on a donkey, which might be/might not be an allusion to the spiritual highs attained while studying and he's on the bank of the river, he's on the edge. He's really feeling happy and he's da'ato gasa because of all the Torah he's been learning.

    I'd like to stop adding new lines of text until Monday. But I'd like to continue the conversation. So if you could rewrite this, maybe less terse and using more contemporary storytelling methods, how would you tell this scene? Are there any other questions that have been asked that we can add to based on the new information available in this line? Is there anything else you see in the text that you can add?

    I want to clarify because Poh, when I mentioned your post, I don't think I was all that clear. Agaddah can be symbolic, but when it does it tends to give us arrows pointing to the symbolism, so the symbols can actually be found in the text without having to leave it and find something else outside (the exception being allusions to biblical stories, which are generally pretty blunt.) You found one of those arrows in your first post, but we won't get to what it's pointing to until we're quite a bit deeper into the story, if not at the end.

    The allusions that I'm pulling up based on the language aren't so flexible that I could bend them to mean anything. I'm making available the potential wordplay that I can see, so that everyone taking part can decide whether or not it is significant as we continue to move forward. And it is possible some will seem significant or insignificant, only to appear differently as we progress and get more information about the storyline.

    Also, the stories aren't really connected linearly. If you take a look at the gemara, what you see is halachah(which is legal material) agadah (nonlegal material) halachahagadahhalachagadah etc etc. And if you were to extract all of the non-legal material in order, it would not, as does the Torah, form something that's organized based on time. It's a little bit more like there's a running dialogue and as it goes on people are recalling conversations. Sometimes it's easy to see that they are relevant, and sometimes it's hard to see why they appear where they do at all. But that other story for example, is its own story itself. It may be easier to understand it if you think of the legends of some of the frontiersmen in America. We have stories that do relate, for example, to when they were young. But then we have other stories and, oh, here's a story about Daniel Boone, here's a story about Davey Crockett. But then to take those stories and try and put them in exact order or to smoothly relate them all to one another, as if they're all one connected tale about the individual, would be very difficult, and imo would probably be getting away from the gyst of things a little bit.

    Dauer
     
  4. Quahom1

    Quahom1 What was the question?

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2003
    Messages:
    9,906
    Likes Received:
    5
    What good is "knowledge" if we don't know when to use it? He was full of knowledge, but when the time came to practice it, he missed the cue. A "simple" man brought that weakness to his attention. Fortunately he was wise enough to recognize his mistake, and I think kicked himself in the backside because of it. But the simple man emphasised the grieviousness of his error due to pride, and made it clear that he must reconcile with the master over this issue...see, God don't make junk. And too late, the "knowledgable, haughty" man considered one "junk". To sin against a servant, is to sin against the servant's master.

    v/r

    Joshua
     
  5. lunamoth

    lunamoth Episcopalian

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2004
    Messages:
    3,915
    Likes Received:
    0
    5. and his mind was haughty (D'aato Gasa) because he learned much Torah


    Intellectual pride. An easy one to fall into.

    luna
     
  6. pohaikawahine

    pohaikawahine Elder Member

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2005
    Messages:
    660
    Likes Received:
    0
    aloha e dauer - just a quick note to find out where we are at on this dialogue .... aloha nui, poh
     
  7. dauer

    dauer New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2004
    Messages:
    3,103
    Likes Received:
    0
    poh,

    Sorry. It didn't seem like there was a lot of interest in continuing this. As of yet nobody has applied to lead a text study and, leaving out my fellow moderators (who I specifically requested to try and participate a little here to try and encourage others to take part) very few seem to be participating.

    There's something that the piacezna rebbe, Reb Kalonymus Kalman Shapira, who died in the Shoah, says in his book A Student's Obligation, which was recovered along with the rest of his writings during construction after WWII. He had an amazing understanding of the human mind and one of the things he says is if you take a farmer, and you send him into a full field to cut down grain, he will swing and swing and swing, and he will go quite a while before he gets tired. But if you take that same person and send him into an empty field and tell him to swing, he won't last so long.

    It feels like I am in a field that may not be empty, but it's not very populated either. If there is interest I would love to continue. It did seem like a number of people were viewing this thread and not adding to it, but I really don't want this to be a lecture or talk instead of a led discussion. This section of the board was really meant as a place where people could engage in more serious text study together by approaching one text at a time and allowing for a little more structure, and leaving out the different types of one-ups and apologetics and proofs and disproofs that can come up elsewhere, focusing instead on what texts say, and how we understand them.

    If enough people say they are interested I would like to continue, but right now it really feels like there hasn't been much interest in what I'm proposing.

    Dauer
     
  8. pohaikawahine

    pohaikawahine Elder Member

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2005
    Messages:
    660
    Likes Received:
    0
    Dear Dauer .... the field is not empty and while it may seem a little sparce, you stand out like a beautiful rose in its center .... you've had wonderful ideas about interfaith dialogues and I don't understand myself why there isn't more participation .... I and Bandit tried very hard to keep that dialogue going on the last interfaith parsha, but it ended up being primarily "us" and no one else (although a lot of people checked it out) .... I never really knew if we had "highjacked" the discussion and turned others off from participating or what happened as I had always hoped that others would join in if we just kept it going .... so I didn't want to do the same thing to this new dialogue, but I did want to participate .... I do wish others would jump in here and share their views on what is happening .... in the meantime, I would like to see you take this text to its logical conclusion (if there is such a thing) because my interested in sparked in where you were going with those "arrows" or insights into the text .... aloha nui, poh
     
  9. InLove

    InLove at peace

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2005
    Messages:
    3,267
    Likes Received:
    2
    Hey Everyone--

    I don't know why, but these types of threads seem to get buried a lot. I am interested, but sometimes I just don't understand what to do or say. Maybe I think I don't have anything to contribute--but really I know that is not true.

    I have dropped the ball on the Parsha project, but then I've had some things happening that took me away from being able to study. And believe me, some of the stuff you guys offer takes a lot of study for some of us. Nevertheless, when I have time (or make the time) I learn, and I enjoy it so much.

    I say that I have an interfaith heart--well, I guess I am not owning up to that, at least not here. :eek: I will try to be a little better about this in the future. And I will take time, God willing, in the next few days to read back through some of the interfaith studies, both on this thread and elsewhere. Keep in mind that I tend to be a poky reader. In the meantime, I have bumped this onto the front page again--can't guarantee that it will stay there very long.

    InPeace,
    InLove
     
  10. InLove

    InLove at peace

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2005
    Messages:
    3,267
    Likes Received:
    2
    Hi and Peace--

    dauer and all--

    I went back to the beginning of the thread. What I am doing is playing around with the line breaks--the "scenes". I think there may be something quite revealing in the arrangement of things and how we look at the account.

    2c for now--catching up (as usual)

    InPeace,
    InLove
     
  11. dauer

    dauer New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2004
    Messages:
    3,103
    Likes Received:
    0
    InLove,

    Just an fyi, there are no visually present line breaks or scene breaks in the original text. If they are there, it is only contextually. You could break things up differently if it seemed to make more sense to go that way.

    Dauer
     
  12. InLove

    InLove at peace

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2005
    Messages:
    3,267
    Likes Received:
    2
    Hey dauer--thanks! Yeah, I am aware. That is what makes it so interesting. If you break it up one way, it looks different than if you break it up another way. I think that as one puts it all back together again, the meaning becomes clearer, yet the same as the original. Perhaps the very reason for the way it was "put together" in the first place. :) I'll get back to ya on this one.

    InPeace,
    InLove
     
  13. InLove

    InLove at peace

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2005
    Messages:
    3,267
    Likes Received:
    2
    Hi All--Peace--

    I just thought I'd let you know that even though I printed the story out and left it by my reading chair to review on a regular basis, I am not so sure I have anything to offer yet beyond the observations that are already here. So I just wanted to drop in and let you know I am still studying and looking forward to whatever comes next. I don't want to hold up the class. :)

    LOL--I may be one of those students that needs an extra credit op. :D

    It's not like I don't have some ideas; it's just that I don't know if they are appropriate at this time or even if they would actually be all that relevant. Please do continue...I find it quite intriguing.

    InPeace,
    InLove
     
  14. pohaikawahine

    pohaikawahine Elder Member

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2005
    Messages:
    660
    Likes Received:
    0
    quote from dauer "I want to clarify because Poh, when I mentioned your post, I don't think I was all that clear. Agaddah can be symbolic, but when it does it tends to give us arrows pointing to the symbolism, so the symbols can actually be found in the text without having to leave it and find something else outside (the exception being allusions to biblical stories, which are generally pretty blunt.) You found one of those arrows in your first post, but we won't get to what it's pointing to until we're quite a bit deeper into the story, if not at the end."

    Ok dauer - I agree with in-love .... I may also not be exactly on the right track and sometimes an not too sure about what direction to go in .... so lets get deeper into the story because I'm not sure what arrow I found, but am interested to know more.... on one of your last posts you said you would have more to say after the weekend .... so let's continue and see where we all go .... aloha nui, poh
     

Share This Page