Torah Study Notes 2-16-13

February 16, 2013
p.559 Haftarah
The related Torah portion is God instructing Moses on the construction of the Mishkan,
5:26 A description of the process of building the temple of Solomon. Herod reconstructed the Temple about 20 BCE. The text is Deuteronomic – written about 600 BCE. The author has apparently seen the building in question and is conveying an impression of a massive project. Note the three month cycle of working: one month and at home two months. This is akin to a “draft” much like forced service or conscription in the service today. In the Torah portion there is no suggestion of forced labor – just donations. CL: We have new information that casts some light on this. The new view of the building of the pyramids is that the pyramids built Egypt. The work was a cooperative effort that had a common goal. The people were better cared for and ate more meat. The need to be organized structured the society. PG: Here Solomon freed the Tyrenes but required them to lend their skills to the construction of the Temple. Note that Solomon’s rule, despite his wisdom, was a failure because immediately upon his death the kingdom broke into two – north and south – Judah and Israel. Here Solomon’s wisdom leads to pragmatic activity. The former soldiers become laborers. This is history that is shaped and spun to fit a particular line of thought.
6:1 A description of what was constructed. It sounds like an inverted pyramid so that each succeeding story is larger than the preceding. This would have been a challenging architectural and engineering feat. Compare the development of architecture in Istanbul – like Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque. The two buildings are comparable in size however the architectural skill to build the mosque is radically superior to the Hagia Sofia; notable particularly is the thickness of the walls and the use of windows that could be accomplished by the use of external buttressing. Here the central temple iof Solomon is built with very thick walls and the outer rooms are independent and not supporting the central core. When Mies van der Rohe created the Helmsley Tower in the 1950s he used a great deal of glass – which called attention to the architecture. This notion of accenting the construction is a feature of post-modernism. One could “deconstruct” the architecture – a term that worked its way into literary analysis and even now into cooking.
6:7 This was to be a house of peace where no iron tools would be used. The Midrash refers to a stone- eating worm that obeyed Solomon – who of course spoke the language of the worms.
6:11 I will keep my promise made to David and I will always be among you. One of the purposes of this Haftarah – which was written after the destruction of the Temple – was to lift up the listeners so as to eventually encourage the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem. This is a bittersweet. We have to re-imagine God – not in the Temple but in our hearts. Note that there was already a transition from the volunteerism of those early settlers described in the Torah portion to the requirements of a settled community. Jewish society itself is coercive – with rules that must be followed. But why can’t we do the right thing instinctively – from the heart? The very construction of the earth itself requires compromises and creates problems. Without creation there would be no evil. Existence itself is a pragmatic balancing of our ideals. We are forced to make compromises. We are told that forgiveness comes at Yom Kippur but one cannot then go out and willfully sin again. SF: Each individual is to be a temple – a holy structure. This requires the destruction of certain internalized patterns. It requires a great deal of work. PG: This is the description of a saint – a status rarely achieved and then only temporarily. The Lurianic Kabbalist – – call this the shattering of the spheres – moving from light to produce matter destroys and we spend our life trying to repair the world. Emmanuel Kant: One cannot be ethical unless it comes from your heart. See also: Rabbi Ibn Paquda – – about 1050 – who was influenced by Aristotle and the Greek philosophers. Maimonides also followed this path. Their notion of truth and right as ideals and ultimate’s is contra the notion of a covenant. The covenant gives us independently the ability to examine right and wrong in a dynamic way. Rosenzweig, Buber and Heschel recognize this distinction. See – – We are entitled to continuously challenge God – which means to examine life continuously and to question absolutes. This has been a long-standing process in Judaism which now is exemplified by the Reform movement. Scientific secular thought was an important part of the impetus toward this stage. Orthodoxy would stop this process and keep the outside world at bay. For a recent and important speech by Dr. Ruth Calderon in the Knesset on reconciling Orthodoxy with modern life in Israel see:

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