Torah Study Notes 9-7-13

September 7, 2013
The Haftarah on page 1395 doesn’t really exist in the traditional reading sequence. Nitzorim is always the Torah portion between Roshashana and Yom Kipper. There is no occasion for a Haftarah for Vayeilech. These reading arise as a matter of tradition established about 1200 years ago. The Haftarah is designed to react to the frame of mind we are supposed to be in during this interval.
P. 1436
14:2 Hosea is the prophet in the North at the end of the Kingdom of Israel. This passage deals with repentance but holds out hope for survival. The Assyrians were overrunning all of the kingdoms in the Near East and were on route to Egypt. Micah was saying much the same in Judah in the south which did survive. See the extensive footnotes. Note that the Northern Kingdom had no established pattern of succession whereas in the South the king would always be a member of the Davidic family. ML: Why didn’t the two Kingdoms join? PG: There is no evidence that they ever took arm against one another – they occasionally cooperated. LLant: What caused the split? PG: Differences as to Solomon’s rule and with his successor. There were also doctrinal differences as a result of the two forms of priesthood with origins in Hebron and Shiloh. LL: the story of the two woman and Solomon dividing the baby could be read as a metaphor for, and an argument against, the division of the two kingdoms.
14:5 These are words of consolation – an identified and known poetic form. There was barely twenty years from the death of Jeroboam to the annihilation of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. This speaks to the people in the synagogue who are feeling anxiety and uncertainty about their circumstances. This also speaks to a period of retrospection about the lives we wanted to live and raises the question of forgiveness. SF: But in order to be forgiven by God we must first forgive ourselves. PG: Consider Kafka in his novel “The Castle.”
“One interpretation of K.’s struggle to contact the castle is that it represents a man’s search for salvation.[16] According to Mark Harman, translator of a recent edition of The Castle, this was the interpretation favored by the original translators Willa and Edwin Muir, who produced the first English volume in 1925. Harman feels he has removed the bias in the translations toward this view, but many still feel this is the point of the book.
Fueling the biblical interpretations of the novel are the various names and situations. For example, the official Galater (the German word for Galatians), one of the initial regions to develop a strong Christian following from the work of Apostle Paul and his assistant Barnabas. The name of the messenger, Barnabas, for the same reason. Even the Critical Editions naming of the beginning chapter, “Arrival”, among other things liken K. to an Old Testament messiah.”[9]
Kafka argued that there were only two fundamental sins: Pride and Impatience. Or perhaps there is really only one sin – impatience. AF: How does the community get forgiven? PG: This is part of having two apparently antithetical points: The righteousness of the individual can be swept away with the entire community. LL: This would be the lesson of Sodom and Gomorrah. Voltaire argued that all we need to do is tend our own garden. But we actually have a responsibility beyond our own garden.
7:18 Micah is in Jerusalem. SF: This seems to suggest that God will first take us back out of love and subdue our sins. Many teaching argue that the individual must first change, PG: In Hosea the dynamic is that if you try you will be forgiven. But if the individual does not have the strength they will be forgiven for the sake of the community. This is the message of Micah. LL: Are their implications here for our criminal justice system? PG: Issues of justice always involve subjective determinations as to punishment. The discussion here is about immorality – not illegality. Immorality in the sense of not being responsible.
2:15 Joel is also a Southern prophet. Here the emphasis is on amends/atonement by the community – acting communally whereas the natural reaction might be “every man for himself.” The atonement of the individual is bolstered by the presence of others doing the same thing.
2:18 What makes Joel memorable is his prediction of the failure of the Assyrian army in their siege of Jerusalem. This recalls the stench of many dead bodies – perhaps fallen from disease.

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