Torah Study Notes 2-2-13

February 2, 2013
This is the Haftarah associated with the Torah portion giving us the Ten Commandments.
Isaiah here the 1st Isaiah who lived at the time of the Syrian invasion – the mid to late 8th C prophet. 2nd Isaiah wrote during the Babylonian captivity. JB: Did the prophets know of one another? PG: Yes. It was very likely – word got out when a spectacular or influential speaker came on the scene. HF: Why were the two Isaiah’s linked by the redactor? PG: Not really known – the latter might have taken the name of the former as a form of homage but this is supposition.
6:1 to end at 9:5. (read in its entirety and then discussed.) The connection here with the Torah portion is God’s direct speech to Isaiah – as He spoke to Moses. There is also the aspect of revelation of that direct contact. This is more arguably more important than the content of the Commandments themselves. The personal experience of the divine is a central issue. This was best described in the 20th C by Martin Buber. Here God give Isaiah marching orders but not Commandments of general application. Both Muslims and Christians have systems that separate divine law from achievement of salvation. Paul thought that the age of the law was over because the kingdom of heaven was at hand. He was of the apocalyptic line of Judaism. The argument that law itself has its origins in divinity was problematic for him. LL: Compare the discussions on this topic in the new biography of Roger William. See:
Williams broke the Ten Commandments down into two tiers: the first four dealing with man’s relationship with God were personal and not the business of government. The next six – such as though shall not murder etc. were the province of government. PG: The rabbinic system calls for a constant examination of law and situational adjustments – this means that there can be tens of thousands of “rules.” EL: Do the ultra-orthodox ascribe to this notion of situational adjustments? PG: Most people don’t even think about these things. For the ultra-orthodox they defer to decisions of the rabbi. But at some point one crosses the line between individual responsibility and blind adherence to a system. We choose a system of Halakha (Hebrew: הֲלָכָה) or “the way” when we decide to be Reformed, Conservative or Orthodox. See: You are creating the kind of life that you are comfortable with. It is a question of acceptable risk level and what the individual can handle. There is an old story: Three rabbis were discussing the benefits of Rome. One said they built the roads and the aqueducts, one was silent and the other excoriated Rome’s policy on human rights. Again, what can you live with? Consider the compiler of the Mishnah, Judah Hanasi – he performed certain services for Rome. See:
Note that Isaiah has volunteered to carry God’s message knowing that no one will believe him – that his mission was doomed to failure – like Jonah. But there is always a small group who do listen. Hence the seed that springs from the stump in line 13.
CL: The lines in 9:5 are repeated and drawn upon in the New Testament as a prediction of the birth of Jesus. This is reflected in art as early as the 11th C. – at which time there was relatively little animus toward Jews. See: Isaiah at Moissac –The Abbey Church of St. Pierre.

Note: Here the “sign” that will be given to Ahaz is the birth of a child. Why is this section added on? The Haftarah stops here and has arguably been pulled out of context from the main section of Isaiah.

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