Sunday, January 15, 2006

'Ancient' Man, The Mabul, Migdal Bavel and The 'Ancient' World(s)
I'm going to be childish and just let your minds (all 1-4 of them...), mull over the fonts and punctuations in the title line for a bit (twoish weeks) while I get all my "Flood" related material together. I will be relying heavily on the Rabbinic/Kabbalistic works that discuss Shemitot (Sabbatical Cycles of Creation), the 974 generations before Adam HaRishon for a discussion of the "ancient" world, and the worlds that preceded 'it'. There'll be discussion of what makes for Mankind then and now, what animal species are known to be capable of (as well as the human potential to "lose humanity" in absence of civilizing imperatives/imposition), the Mabul as a potentially regional event, the "mythic" functions of Torah with Shubert Spero's essay, catastrophism and anomalous archeological finds as evidencing earlier 'worlds' and their destruction), bicameral mind stuff, Divine "minim" and scientific taxonomies, rise of languages, the extreme longevity in Torah and other ancient sources, remaining problems and possible resolutions, etc, etc. I will try to offer as many links as possible to material available on the Net.

For Old Times Sake.

Here's an hysterical but absolutely amazing breakdancing video done for Skinny Puppy's recentish song "Protest" (they're not remotely a hiphop oriented band); a group of breakdancers have a danceoff with a group of rivetheads (a generic term for fans of Industrial Music) I first heard Skinny Puppy in 8th grade. Their tactfully dark, allusive, textured, multi-layered, multi-media music was absolutely seminal in any "youthful awakenings" that happened in my youth.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The Seride Esh on Personal Interests in Torah

Hopefully more to come in time; more on the Mabul, how ideas get into peoples heads (the role of insightful dreams in scientific innovation, The Pri Tzaddik and how Torah and knowledge come into the world), some images, ab workout tips, etc. Now to The Seride Esh; [bold emphasis mine]

"I recall how often he [R. Yechiel Yakob Weinberg, zt'l] pointed out to us the psychological pitfalls around which especially the religious jew had to pick his way; A "word" which I heard from him many years ago has been gaining more and more contemporary significance with every year that passes; I believe it was not his own. If I am mistaken, he told it to us in the name of his teacher, Rabbi Nathan Zvi Finkel, ztz'l, the Mashgiach of Slobodka. It was based on the well-known Talmudical saying:"Jerusalem was destroyed because they based their words on the words of the Torah". The Talmud, of course, asks the question:"But what else should they have done?" How can the basing of one's word on the Torah be considered a sin so grievous that, because of it, Jerusalem was destroyed? The Talmud does give an answer. But the Mashgiach of Slobodka explained it differently. He emphasized the expression divreihem in the original. Davar is not only "word" in Hebrew, but also "thing", "interest", etc. Divreihem were their interests, matters that concerned them personally, their own affairs. The people of Jerusalem based their own personal interest on the words of the Torah; they justified their own selfish pursuits with the words of the Torah; they identified their own concerns with the concerns of the Torah. They said Torah, but meant themselves. This, explained Rabbi Weinberg, is the greatest of all sins: the falsification of the truth; the disguise of the lie in the garb of the truth. This is the greatest sin against the Torah. It well deserved the greatest punishment, the destruction of Jerusalem".

Berkovits, Eliezer. "Rabbi Yechiel Yakob Weinberg, zt'l My teacher and Master".
Tradition, vol. 8:2, Summer, 1966.

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