Torah Study Notes 6-13-15

June 13, 2015

Rabbi Paul Golomb’s final Torah class as our Rabbi.


The scouts go into the land.

14:5  Have no fear the Eternal is with us. The Israelites are the fifth personality or player in this account. We are told  what they all do – even if it was nothing.  Moses and Aaron. Joshua and Caleb are the speakers. This is transitional to the new generation of leadership. And we have not yet begun the 40 year sojourn – a term of years that is immaterial. Note that the people of the land that are there now – the Canaanites – have lost God’s favor. How and why did they have it in the first place? Is this a foreshadowing of the Babylonian Exile? Note that the writers and readers all know what the ending is so this element is obvious to them. The relationship with the land is dependent on the stewardship of the land. What is being argued is that there is no natural right to the land. Buber says that “natural rights” is usually dependant on longevity – it has no other basis. LL: This is resonant of our obligation to care for the Earth. God has said nothing so the lesson here comes from the action of the people. As said in the Psalms “The Earth is the Lords and the fullness thereof.” Consider the policies of the colonialists: They were interested in the land only in terms of what it could produce.  SF: One of the underlying messages here is recognition of human fear. They fear going into the land. They must trust in God. LL: I disagree. That is not the macro lesson of Torah. It is the movement toward that “still small voice.” Once we have internalized all of the lessons of ethics, morality, and government that have gone before. SF: I agree with you. PG: You are both right – your points are not incompatible.

14:11 “How long will this people spurn me…? Moses bargains with God to forebear – be slow to anger, kind and forgiving.  This is a recap of the arguments about the Golden Calf.  One way of reading Numbers is as a recap of the entire journey out of Egypt. Note that the faith sought here is “informed faith” not “blind faith.” There is faith in what is absent and in the future. What are the techniques that help you to have faith. We learn to have faith in absence and memory. AF: Do we place our faith in God’s Master Plan? PG: The other gods tended to be reflections of human leadership. Heidegger ( said “you cannot jump over your own shadow. “ Meaning that it is hard to understand and encompass any fundamental eschatology here. Scripture avoids this discussion.  A “plan” presumes an “end.” In Thinking, Fast and Slow”  (  it is argued that most plans are not fulfilled. Sam: Engaging with people in the most wholesome way possible is the journey to a full life. PG: Note that there is no mention of a “”Messiah” in scripture.

14:20 Those who have disobeyed me shall not see the land that I have promised. Caleb who has expressed his faith is the exception. No mention of Joshua at this point. Also, why the reference here to “Amalachites” instead of the Canaanites? They are a wondering people –how did they occupy the land? The mention of them is probably going to make the people nervous since they are a daunting enemy.  The rabbis have suggested that “the Amalachites” represent the fear that is within us.  Later they are defeated by Saul in Samuel I. But they show up again in several subsequent kings until Hezekiah where they are neutralized. Then the name appears again in the Book of Esther.

14: 26  That wicked community … muttering against me? Not one shall enter the land except Caleb, and Joshua. This is a restatement of the previous paragraph. Why? Two tribes. Judah – that survived after the Assyrian invasion – claimed Caleb as their own. Joshua, as the representative of ancient Israel was lost but not exterminated. That is the hope expressed in the second paragraph.

14: 36 “The Eternal will not be with you..” A shattering blow was struck them at Hormah. There was a time when they would have succeeded but it is past. This is also indicative of Moses’ diminishing authority over the people.

Chofetz Chaim ( )  was a famous rabbi who lived in the Pale of Settlement ( ) who frequently traveled by train. When he traveled he did not look like an esteemed Rabbi and wore rough travel garb. He as insulted for his appearance by some of  the people on the train. Upon arrival he is greeted by a great throng. When the rude travelers asked for his forgiveness’ it was denied. They had to ask the old man for forgiveness – not the esteemed Rabbi. The time for proper behavior had passed.

Late: A celebration of  Paul Golomb by the Torah Class. Presentation of guitar lessons for him as a going aways present – followed by refreshments. Rabbi’s memory: When he started there were only two people in the class: Sam Finnerman and Bunny Levinson. Now there are over a dozen “regulars.”

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