Torah Study Notes 1-30-16

January 30, 2016
Rabbi Paul Golomb filing in for Rabbi Lean Berkowitz.
In the Hebrew (right side of the Plaut text) there are two sets of cantellation marks. One is used for private readings and the other for public. Note the half tone page. The term “Decalogue” means ten utterances. Not “commandments.” Or even obligations. Protestants and Catholic versions of the Decalogue start with “you shall have no other gods before me” whereas here it is “I am the Eternal your God.” The former is clearly a commandment whereas the latter is a statement. Note the way this is broken up into ten statements but they do not comport with the verses. Normally at the end of a verse in a printed text there is a colon. See verses three through six – no colon until the end of six – effectively turning it all into a separate statement. Verse thirteen has four colons – turning it into four statements. In the Hebrew there is a colon at the end of every verse – which creates an ending for the listener. Making a statement conjunctive or disjunctive can make for different meanings.
26: 1 The use of the word “shall” is a commandment. LL See Freud’s book “Moses and Monotheism.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moses_and_Monotheism wherein it is posited that Hebraic monotheism is derivative of Akhenaton’s monotheism. PG: Freud is very interested in what is retained – here he is assuming that the notion of monotheism was retained by the Hebrews. Scripture is designed to unfold and is sensitive to the learning process. Medieval commentators were concerned about the process of moving a group of individuals who were living in one polity and theopolitics into a new one. See: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/maimonides/
26:4 No sculptured images – the third and forth generations shall be punished for violations. The fear of G is basic here but consider who is being addressed – these are a people who are new to these notions and hence the use of hyperbole. A more carefully reasoned explanation would come later. Recall that G spoke to Moses from the burning bush by saying “I am the G of your ancestors.” Abraham Isaac and Jacob are mere abstractions at this point to these people. Here they are reminded that this is the G who brought them out of Egypt.
26: 7 You shall not swear falsely. LL This is foundational to having a system of government and justice that is predicated on laws. PG It also makes clear that one cannot swear by any other authority.
26:8 Keep the Sabbath day holy and do not work. The definition of “work” has proved problematic. Most of Jewish practice comes from the Talmud where there is extensive discussion about what constitutes work. The Orthodox have a principle that the well being of the individual comes first so the rule can be bent. Shabbat in an absolute sense is unobtainable. The best we can do is try to adhere to the law. Consider the Shabbat elevator which stops at every floor. Compare the information in 26:11 to the opening lines of Genesis. Are these words familiar to the people? We as the readers are privy to this information because we have read Genesis. Note the use of the seven day cycle which becomes intrinsic to society.
26:12 Honor your father and your mother. What connects this with remaining long on the land? Could you be disinherited? What does the word “honor” mean here? This is not obedience. It is more suggestive of maintaining continuity. Hannan Brichto (sp? Not found.) – said that they should be cared for in old age and then by preserving their graves. Typically, burial took place on the land. Consider the sweeping of the graves in Chinese culture and Rosh Hashanah – honoring of the dead. This became important when the Jews were wondering and landless. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honour_thy_father_and_thy_mother

26:13 You shall not murder, commit adultery, steal, bear false witness. The half tones in the Hebrew denote spaces between each of these sins.
26: Do not covet your neighbors house etc. or anything that is your neighbors. But isn’t this an emotional reaction? And therefore unavoidable? But we cannot translate this emotion into action.
Note that the commandment as to Shabbat is out of step with the others. The others are immediately obvious and learned in kindergarten. All of this is somewhat banal except keeping the Sabbath holy. This is the only piece of revelation that is truly revelatory.
26:15 Thunder and lightening. Be not afraid but let the fear of god be forever with you so you do not go astray. See footnote suggesting that this parsha may be out of place. Note that we have moved from a direct experience of G and tablets written by Him to an indirect experience via Moses. Jacques Derrida said that very few gifts are true gifts – they are given in exchange. See: http://www.academia.edu/6141439/Marions_and_Derridas_Philosophy_of_the_Gift

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