Torah Study Notes 3-19-11

March 19, 2011
Today is Shabat Sahor – which precedes Purim. Shabat remembered. This portion is read in honor of Shabat Purim. Next week we will read the red heifer from the Book of Numbers and then from the Book of Exodus – introducing the new moon. This is done because of the festival “”Maftir” means a reading of a portion of the Torah in honor of the person reading the Haftarah.
p. 1334 26::17 Amalek is the desert tribe that attacked the Israelites after they had crossed the Red Sea. “Amalek” has become a metaphor for anti-Semitism. Heyman is thought to be a descendant of this tribe. To blot out the memory and “Do not forget.” Is a conundrum. The composition of this paragraph takes place well after the events described. Also, there are no archeological remains of the Amaleks – is it a literary construct? Hillel and Shamai are two noted Rabbinic commentators but the names mean praise and contempt. Are they actually literary constructs as well? We know nothing about the literary traditions of the time. Compare to a Greek play – which also often appears to be founded on actual events. See p. 447 in Exodus – the story of Amalek at 17:1. “Is the Eternal present among us or not?” And the next line is Amalek. When you question God’s presence you admit the enemy to your presence is the traditional rabbinic view. But is the enemy exterior or is it within us? This contradiction seems to plumb our inner psychological state. But without an antagonist do we fall into complacency? Is an antagonist necessary for growth? In the beginning of their journey the Israelites need the assistance of God. By the time they get to the promised land they defeat their enemies on their own.
This raises the question as to what we mean by “faithfulness” In Jewish thought it was the starting point. In Christianity per Paul and Martin Luther it is the acceptance of Jesus. How is Moses holding up his arms? Is it in compassion or victory? See Gustave Dore’s painting.
P. 690
7:11 “This is the ritual of the sacrifice of well being…” See the Reformed commentary on the three kinds of prayer. Do these connect to the equivalent sacrifice? Sam: But the prayer must be accompanied by some physical act. We go to temple and participate. PG: But actually you go to temple and hand your sacrifice to the priest – he takes it from there. Sam: Isn’t this the standard rabinnic complaint that they have to do everything? But even the priest did not have a direct relationship with god. It is only the prophets “holy fools” who have the visions. See Davorah Steinitz comment on the 613 commandments reduced to 15 by David etc. until there is only one commandment: “The righteous shall live by faith.” Compare Paul’s epistle to the Galatians quoting this same line. To Jews faith comes first and is a means of achieving a goal. In Christianity faith alone is the goal. Paul was an apocalyptic. See Eugen Weber on the Apocalypse.

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