Money Or God: Pick!

Discussion in 'Belief and Spirituality' started by Pilgram, Feb 17, 2004.

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  1. bananabrain

    bananabrain awkward squadnik

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    if this is your opinion of christianity, i wonder why exactly you think it is worthwile hanging around a board like this? to "convert" people, perhaps?

    i've answered it where you asked it. and i note you have gone on to requote a large chunk of my post - without having read it, apparently. in any case, that wasn't only addressed to you.

    what i am doing is explaining the verses you referred to. to interpret them, what our tradition does is to comment. the basic commentary we start with is rashi. rashi then explains how we are to understand it, bringing together his understanding of the totality of the system. the other commentators then comment on him, sometimes agreeing, sometimes disagreeing. you may very well not see the "logic", possibly because talmudic logic is not the same as greek logic, but it is nonetheless there.

    it's not a translation. it's a commentary. i'm working from the original hebrew, as is the commentary.

    firstly, these practices do not have to be defended in logical terms, because they are religious, not mathematical or scientific. secondly, the practices as stated there are not the whole of the story.

    but you don't have the least idea of the totality of what that is. i am telling you what generations of us have agreed and you are telling me that all you can see is all that there is, which is patently not the case unless you ignore the entire oral tradition, in which case we're not talking about how judaism understands the "old testament".

    this is not a mere translation problem. there are laws for divorce in the Torah. there are no laws for marriage. yet the text says that people got married. our thousands of years of oral tradition is there to fill in the gaps. reading the pentateuchal text - even in the original - is like sitting on an engine and expecting to move without attaching steering, wheels and the like. it's not a matter of "original", "best" or "true" - it's a matter of extra information i have that you don't. accusing me of trying to change the subject when i am in fact explaining how we approach it is only confirmation of your unwillingness to have your views challenged. if you can't see that i am sticking closely to the text then frankly, i don't see the point of discussing it with you. you might as well accuse me of lying - but if i am not speaking to you in good faith then the entire point of dialogue is missed.

    b'shalom

    bananabrain
     
  2. Pilgram

    Pilgram New Member

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    You Shall Not Lend Upon Interest

    Greetings All,

    So here we are at the beginning again. I wonder how many people can read the following and not come to the conclusion that lending money at interest (usury) was forbidden by Jehovah? And if you read it differently please explain what you think these two verses say. Don’t use “experts” to guide us. Use your own reasoning and ability to read plain words.

    Deuteronomy 23

    19: "You shall not lend upon interest to your brother, interest on money, interest on victuals, interest on anything that is lent for interest.
    20: To a foreigner you may lend upon interest, but to your brother you shall not lend upon interest; that the LORD your God may bless you in all that you undertake in the land which you are entering to take possession of it.


    As you see, Jehovah made it quite clear, You SHALL NOT LEND upon interest to “your brother” (another Hebrew). It was clearly forbidden to lend “upon interest.” I don’t see an ambiguity here. Jehovah goes on to make it quite clear with a few more examples so no one would be tempted to get around the law by using something besides money. You SHALL NOT lend upon interest on money, interest on victuals (food) or ANYTHING that is LENT for INTEREST.

    Is it possible that Jehovah was really saying that one Hebrew could charge interest to another Hebrew? Or is it more likely that Jehovah was forbidding the charging of any kind of interest from Hebrews to other Hebrews?

    Then comes the really good part where Jehovah discriminates against non-Hebrews! Shocked? Don’t be. Gentiles were looked at as sub-humans throughout the Old Testament and even into the New. That is why it was okay for Jehovah to order the Hebrews to kill all the Non-Hebrew men, women and children of any land Jehovah decided that the Hebrews, his chosen people, should occupy. Jehovah was funny that way.
    Jehovah okays the charging of interest to non-Hebrews. “To a FOREIGNER you may lend UPON INTEREST, but to your brother you shall not lend upon interest…”

    Is there an ambiguity present that I failed to see? Perhaps you might say that ‘foreigner” might not mean “non-Hebrews.” Anyone?

    I can certainly understand why a Jew would not be happy about my quoting these verses from Deuteronomy. But I didn’t make them up. They are there in black and white.

    Like a lawyer who doesn’t like the law there are those who will twist and turn these two plainly stated verses until you will swear that they don’t mean what they appear to mean. But just why would you allow a lawyer (or other “expert”) to sway you from the plain meaning? Actually, in law, as well as in other fields, there is a principle called the “plain meaning” principle! Imagine that!

    If one is claiming that a verse doesn’t mean what one person is claiming it means the “plain meaning” principle comes into play. The judge or jury would have to determine if the language of the law (here Deut. 23:19, 20) makes more sense as it’s understood in its “plain meaning” or whether the lawyer’s (or other “expert” making a case against the plain meaning) “interpretation” or “commentary” makes more sense.

    Readers, what’s your verdict?


    Love and Peace,
    Pilgram
     
  3. Pilgram

    Pilgram New Member

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    Greetings All,

    bananabrain has accused me of not having read the "explanation" of the "expert" he quotes. So, to be fair, I have set out the two verses in issue and then the quotation of bananabrain where he cites his expert. You be the judge of whether or not his expert has convinced you that interest is just fine and dandy. I still have this illusion that Jehovah said YOU SHALL NOT LEND UPON INTEREST. But you be the judge.

    Deuteronomy 23

    19: "You shall not lend upon interest to your brother, interest on money, interest on victuals, interest on anything that is lent for interest.
    20: To a foreigner you may lend upon interest, but to your brother you shall not lend upon interest; that the LORD your God may bless you in all that you undertake in the land which you are entering to take possession of it.




    Bananabrain says:

    with regard to deuteronomy 23:19-20, the point is that money gained by immoral means or which involved cheating cannot be used for charitable purposes. rashi clarifies the verse from exodus, also, by saying that it's OK to make a business out of lending money, but that should not preclude 'social lending'.
    this should serve to show that reading translations of Torah verses without the benefit of the explanatory oral tradition is *totally* misleading. in fact, there are several volumes of the Talmud devoted to the promotion of ethical business behaviour, contracts and the like. the general position is that people need to earn a living, but this is not an excuse for unethical behaviour. in short, there is a middle ground between monks and enron and we are encouraged to stay in it.



    Nowhere does Deut 23: 19-20 speak of "money gained by immoral means" so what does this have to do with anything? Rashi "clarifies" something, all right. He clarifies that he is a typical lawyer that does not like what Jehovah has plainly said.

    He then goes on to talk about "cheating" and "charitible purposes." Is Rashi talking about the same two verses? There is no mention of cheating or charity!

    Then Rashi gives the businessman what he wants! "rashi clarifies the verse from exodus, also, by saying that it's OK to make a business out of lending money, but that should not preclude 'social lending."
    I don't know folks, maybe Rashi is recieving email from God. Who is he to "clarify" these two simple verses to make them go from "You shall not lend upon interest... " to "it's OK to make a business out of lending money"? Of course, Rashi means that it's okay to charge interest otherwise how could you make a business out of lending money?

    Please!

    Love and Peace,
    Pilgram


     
  4. Pilgram

    Pilgram New Member

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    Rashi, Esquire and attorney at law has spoken!

    Greetings All,

    bananabrain has accused me of not having read the "explanation" of the "expert" he quotes. So, to be fair, I have set out the two verses in issue and then the quotation of bananabrain where he cites his expert. You be the judge of whether or not his expert has convinced you that interest is just fine and dandy. I still have this illusion that Jehovah said YOU SHALL NOT LEND UPON INTEREST. But you be the judge.

    Deuteronomy 23

    19: "You shall not lend upon interest to your brother, interest on money, interest on victuals, interest on anything that is lent for interest.
    20: To a foreigner you may lend upon interest, but to your brother you shall not lend upon interest; that the LORD your God may bless you in all that you undertake in the land which you are entering to take possession of it.




    Bananabrain says:

    with regard to deuteronomy 23:19-20, the point is that money gained by immoral means or which involved cheating cannot be used for charitable purposes. rashi clarifies the verse from exodus, also, by saying that it's OK to make a business out of lending money, but that should not preclude 'social lending'.
    this should serve to show that reading translations of Torah verses without the benefit of the explanatory oral tradition is *totally* misleading. in fact, there are several volumes of the Talmud devoted to the promotion of ethical business behaviour, contracts and the like. the general position is that people need to earn a living, but this is not an excuse for unethical behaviour. in short, there is a middle ground between monks and enron and we are encouraged to stay in it.



    Nowhere does Deut 23: 19-20 speak of "money gained by immoral means" so what does this have to do with anything? Rashi "clarifies" something, all right. He clarifies that he is a typical lawyer that does not like what Jehovah has plainly said.

    He then goes on to talk about "cheating" and "charitible purposes." Is Rashi talking about the same two verses? There is no mention of cheating or charity!

    Then Rashi gives the businessman what he wants! "rashi clarifies the verse from exodus, also, by saying that it's OK to make a business out of lending money, but that should not preclude 'social lending."
    I don't know folks, maybe Rashi is recieving email from God. Who is he to "clarify" these two simple verses to make them go from "You shall not lend upon interest... " to "it's OK to make a business out of lending money"? Of course, Rashi means that it's okay to charge interest otherwise how could you make a business out of lending money?

    Please! And this is the clincher:

    "this should serve to show that reading translations of Torah verses without the benefit of the explanatory oral tradition is *totally* misleading."

    How has this shown that the two verses quoted above are "totally misleading?" Rashi doesn't even seem to be talking about the same verses!!

    Give us a break, man. Don't piss on our heads and tell us it's raining.

    Love and Peace,
    Pilgram


     
  5. Susma Rio Sep

    Susma Rio Sep New Member

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    Incisive penetration

    Note to Brian: If you have to delete this post, please send it back to me in my private message box. Thanks.

    Thanks, Pilgram, for your very enlightening posts.

    I was afraid that you would not be around longer. I had wanted to inquire from Brian in a private message, but my computer was acting up. So I decided to wait further for you to appear again.

    Glad that you are still around. Don't go away. At least I need you to clear up for me a lot of issues. Compared to you I am an infant, no, not a terrible one at all. No patronizing here, either.

    I hope Brian does not mind my being personal in a way, but I wanted to find out once whether Banana was a member of something like a kind of Jewish Defense League. There is a Catholic organization for that kind of thing.

    For my own part, I want to know the background from where people are writing. If from their convictions, well and good. If from their professional background and as a job of sorts, then also accepted; but it's useful to know in order to really understand what each is truly saying in his posts, and why.

    So, I am not really being offensive trying to delve into the personal attachments of posters here, as I deem it necessary for my own understanding of their posts. I seem to know your psychological background, and it makes for blood to run more energetically. I am anemic in a clinical sense, which accounts maybe for my peculiar psychology.

    In my posts, I feel I have to state as occasions dictate what I know to be the official teachings of the Catholic Church; but I regularly take the care to indicate somehow that I am no longer attached to the Catholic Church, for being now a postgraduate Catholic -- my own self-designation.

    If and when you are no longer around here, let me know. My email address, pachomius2000@yahoo.com.sg. I will miss you very badly...

    Susma Rio Sep
     
  6. Pilgram

    Pilgram New Member

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    Am I going away?

    Greetings Susma,

    Do you know something I don't? Am I going somewhere that you felt a need to give me your email address? Don't get me wrong, I'm honored that you have enjoyed our conversations enough to wish to stay in touch if I "disappear."

    I hadn't posted in about four or five days because of business travel but I have no intention of leaving this website without kicking and screaming. Not that I think I'll need to but you never know do you?

    You seem to think that either yourself or I might be "deleted" or turned into "non-persons." I said what I had to say to one of our hall monitors and, like most bullys, he seems to have gone away after making threatening noises and mean faces.

    Like I said at least once before, freedom of the press is limited to those who own one. And while I love the internet in general, because it functions as a real FREE PRESS for those of us who can't afford one, I am well aware that those who own this website are free to censor me or you anytime they want. There are no contractual limitations and so they may decide that vigorous debate has spilled over into personal attacks anytime they wish. I don't let that interfere with what I have to say since I believe that I argue with the idea and not the person. My conscience is clear.

    In any case, I feel that at least one of the "monitors" has been nothing but fair and kind in every place I've read his comments. Thank you, Brian if you are reading this.

    Friend, Susma, worry not yourself. If I am ever deleted or notice that you have been, I will avail myself of your email address and we will continue our debate. Thank you for understanding that you and I do not have to agree on everything in order to learn from one another. Indeed, if we did agree, we could not learn. We have, in some places, appeared to have been growling and biting to the untrained eye. I am happy to know that you realize that it is simply good healthy debate. (energized blood? is that what you called it?)

    I still owe you some answers and I promise I will do my best this week to go back and address the issues you raised that I had not the time to answer. If there is anything in particular that you wish me to clarify or answer please let me know. I realize I am not always comprehensive in addressing each and every issue in a person's post. Sometimes I only have time for the one or two I feel most moved to spout off about.

    Love and Peace,
    Pilgram
     
  7. bananabrain

    bananabrain awkward squadnik

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    good! perhaps we can actually look at the issue now.

    what you are asking for is, from my perspective, meaningless and gives no real insight. it's the equivalent of saying "here's a paragraph from a technical manual for [say] heart transplants. you're not a doctor. tell me what it means - but you're not allowed to use any medical terminology, nor are you allowed to mention christian barnard or any of the pioneers who developed techniques in this field." i mean, obviously one can attempt to understand it from one's native intelligence, but an insightful comment would be far more likely to come from someone who had a general knowledge of medicine, surgical procedure and so on. why do you assume that lack of expertise in reading translations of ancient sacred texts and, moreover, prohibiting the use of information that comes from within the cultural context of the texts in question? it suggests, to me, the arrogance of imperialism.

    your determination to preclude any reading that is not literal (and the translation issue is hardly absent here, either) seems as much of a "twisting" of the text as you seem to be accusing me of.

    we have a principle called "pshat" which is also translated as "the plain meaning". astonishingly enough, people, seem to be able to find nuances even within this - so much so that volumes have been written over the centuries on the subject. naturally you'd know all about that, though. other operating principles, however, also apply. one of these is "the Torah speaks in the language of humans" and another is "it is not in Heaven" - these principles establish that - surprise surprise - when a Divine text is hard to understand or cannot be directly applied, human interpretation is valid. in fact there's a famous Talmudic dispute on the subject where the rabbis argue a point with G!D - and they win; to which G!D Responds, *laughing*: "My children have defeated Me". but - as i have said elsewhere - this is all information which you cannot be expected to posess if you are not engaged with the Oral Law as well as the Written Law of the Torah.

    so, then if it's all so "clear" as you seem to think, we've all just been wasting our time looking at this text for the last couple of thousand years? doesn't it depend at all on what "you", "shall not", "lend", "interest" and "your brother" all mean individually or together? your opinion on that is just that - your opinion. it may be "quite clear" to you, but to deny that there is considerable scope for interpretation under different circumstances would be both fatuous and blinkered.

    UNDER CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES! how hard is that to understand? how do you *apply* this to different manifestations of this problem? to maintain that it can only occur one way quite simply beggars belief.

    are we looking at money, or are we looking at relationships between different national and ethnic groups here? now you're the one going off-subject. but since you ask, it was decided in Talmudic times that the groups referred to in unflattering terms in the Tanakh were no longer identifiable as distinct national and ethnic entities, so the rules about them could not be applied. you may also want to think about how we are supposed to "blot out the memory of amalek" at the same time as we are supposed to "remember what amalek did to you".

    btw: do *you* charge members of your family interest when you lend them things, pilgram?
    the starting point here for us is not to contrast "foreigner" and brother (the C21st subtext being "aren't you a bunch of racists") but to understand what the word nochri, translated as foreigner, means in context. it's a fairly loaded word and implies unfriendliness and alienness. in other words, it's someone you don't know, there's a risk and there's no guarantee of good faith. in that situation one is surely entitled to charge interest within an ethical framework - the bible is not anti-commerce, after all. what it *doesn't* translate into - and i've said this before - is general support for swindling non-jews.

    the focus on cheating is, according to the Oral Tradition, which rashi is familiar with and you are not, *implied* by our understanding of the word "nochri" which is explained above. in other words: "if you thought that this commandment was a general licence to swindle, think again - money gained by swindling can't be given to charity, so you would be forced to break the positive commandment to give to charity". "typical lawyer", forsooth. you seem to be out to attack judaism, pilgram.

    so are you attacking rashi's authority to clarify or are you attacking his interpretation? his authority was established by the achievement of his completing commentaries on the entire Torah and the entire Talmud, which were of such quality that they became the "standards" for the following generations. he wasn't a money-lender, as it happens, he was a wine-merchant, by the way, so he had commercial dealings with everyone, not just jews. loans were therefore not his "core business", as it were. anyway, his knowledge was encyclopaedic, drawing together stuff from all across the canon. jewish texts are hypertextual, referring to each other constantly, so it's not ever a question of just one text.

    it's funny, you know, but you seem to be the only one interested in attacking jewish texts so violently. why are you so angry with the Torah?

    hmmm. are you perhaps implying that i have to be paid to defend my sacred texts, religion and culture from vitriolic, tendentious and unwarranted attacks? wouldn't that be just typical? "imagine that, these jews, they have to pay people to argue their case".

    b'shalom

    bananabrain
     
  8. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

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    Pilgram, it is unfortunate that you perceive events as such - as it is also unfortunate that I did not keep more up to date with how events were moving.

    When a Moderator flags a post or user as not being within the original spirit of CR's founding principles, it is important not to prepare for defence or attack, but instead ask whether there is a certain hospitality that is being disrespected, whether intentionally or unintentionally.

    Faux pas and mistakes can be forgiven - we all make them. But it is important to remember that where errors are brought to light they require addressing.

    This forum is run from the UK - republican US ideals stay across the pond. Here I insist only that members give one another respect and civility.

    It is hardly a lot to ask for - I should hope that for most members it is not too much.

    On that note, I do not see how this thread can be constructively continued, so I'm closing it. Issues of Free Speech can be directed to the Politics and Society board, and questions regarding the interpretation of scriptures can be made in a new thread.
     
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