Torah Study Notes 12-29-12

A NOTE TO READERS: HAPPY NEW YEAR!
December 29, 2012
p. 323
Fratricidal relations are the norm on the book of Genesis. The principal purpose of the ending is to bring these problems to an end. Consider the blessing “May you be like Ephraim and Manasseh.” http://www.chabad.org/holidays/JewishNewYear/template_cdo/aid/520258/jewish/Why-do-we-bless-our-sons-to-be-like-Ephraim-and-Manasseh.htm
2:1 This is written toward the end of the Kingdoms – Nebuchadnezzar is knocking on the door. Two things are being established: that there has been sufficient loyalty to Torah to sustain David on the throne but the continuation of the line is dependent on the continuation of that loyalty. This is an example of the ethical will – passing on the hopes and dreams of the parent to the next generation.
2: 5 Here Solomon is instructed by David to take revenge against Joab for the deaths of Abner and Amasa. Abner was a principle general in Saul’s army. But these murders were arguably done on behalf of David to promote his kingship and here he is asking Solomon take action while he has done nothing about this for his forty year reign. Note that Joab had also killed David’s son Absalom as an exercise in realpolitik when Absalom had seized the throne in a coup. So this appears to be a very Machiavellian proposal. Is it designed to insure Solomon’s place on the throne? David is a very complex figure – a singer and a warrior. Was he trying to cover up the past? Or was this related to his instruction from the first paragraph to do justice. That language was somewhat platitudinous on the surface but here we see that justice is not always mercy – it is sometimes brutal judgment. Torah is asymptotic – it cannot be “kept” only approached and considered. All rabbinic literature recognizes this in pointing out the ways that one can be forgiven for not keeping Shabbat. Or not keeping Jewish Law. Doi: I bought a new stove and in the instructions I found it had a Shabbat Function. PG: Consider a Shabbat elevator that stops at every floor. It would be considered work to push a button. The intent is to create an otherworldly experience – not to adapt to the modern world. Haredi means one who trembles before God – and is arguably a violation of Jewish law and practice. If you lead a separate life you are not trying to bring about the redemption of the world. Note: last night the sermon was about the Women and the Wall. Netanyahu has sent the issue to a committee.
2:7 “Be kind to the family of Barzillai…” LL: “You know what to do with Shim’I” sounds like a statement from The Sopranos. PG: Recognize that the rules of Torah cannot be absolute. We cannot take the Kantian view of categorical imperatives. See: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/kant-moral/
Consider Plato’s/ Socrates dialogue with Euthero. Are the acts of the Gods moral because the Gods do it? Where does morality reside? http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/moral-dilemmas/
This issue is simplified by monotheism – there is no distinction between an act of god and the ethical – they are the same. The question is how we make moral and ethical decision. Here the answer is, as a first step, to live a life of safety and security. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_ethics
LL/

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