Torah Study Notes 9-21-13

September 21, 2013

 NOTICE TO READERS OF THESE TORAH STUDYPOSTS: The text submitted here is unedited. Corrections and comments are welcome. Generally, the initials shown are an attempt to credit the individual who made a particular point or responded to it. “PG” is Rabbi Paul Golomb. Page references are to Plaut. It is assumed that the reader is familiar with the text but these notes will be more intelligible if read in conjunction with the cited passages.

p. 1443 Haftarah for Sukkoth – Zechariah
The meaning of Sukkoth. It is logical that the Israelite’s would build temporary quarters during their travels. This notion resonates more than the tradition of harvests. The idea of a harvest has been romanticized – part of nostalgia for an agrarian past that was not generally available to the Jews during the Diaspora. Passover is the winter wheat harvest. The Haftarah portions relate to exile and return. This portion contrasts the horror of the future that is predicted with the serenity of the harvest.
38:13 A predication of cataclysm. An apocalypse. It recalls the Assyrian and Babylonian invasions. What God has created He can destroy. But this is different from Noah and the flood. It is as if the earth itself is responding to attack.
38:21 Victory over the forces of Gog is predicted. Q. Why do references to Noah generally disappear after Exodus? It was likely a wide-spread and well-known piece of Israelite lore. There is little or no reference to the first exile in Jeremiah and Ezekiel. Was this well known? Note that if there is a theme here it was in the mind of the redactor; it is not explicitly set forth in any portion of the whole. It was not until Thucydides that a writer asserted that his reports were fact based. Yet there are extensive speeches included in Thucydides accounts. This suggests reconstruction in order to give meaning. DC: What we are reading may be “true” but nevertheless not historically accurate. PG: See the book “Resisting History” by David Myers
which outlines the tensions between the two approaches to history – evidence based or filling in the gaps. Making connections means not having all of the evidence. SF: Here the challenge is to figure out what Ezekiel had in mind.
39:1 More of the same. But who are the enemies here? Magog is a metaphor for any oppressor. AF: Who the Oppressors are is often in the minds of the “oppressed.” PG: This is the notion of relativism where any group can create a justification for their actions. Consider the comments by each side in the film The Longest Day “Sometimes I wonder whose side God is on.”
39:6 LLant: Why is Adonoi in pale half-tone Hebrew letters? PG: It has to do with the Masoretic texts – indicating pronunciation. Early Christians who were interested in making connection between various sections of the text promoted the development of the Codex – the modern book – in order to easily flip back and forth between sections. Succoth has become harvest focused, in part, in America because of the desire to connect to Thanksgiving.

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