Sunday, February 12, 2006

The Eternal Torah

I am not very qualified to expound on religious topics, however...

The Torah readings this past week and the coming week really touch my heart because, all theology aside, they show how eternal our humanity is.

First in Beshalach. Mise-en-scene: The Jews just came out of Egypt and are travelling through the desert. They look behind them and see the Egyptian chariots barreling straight at them. They are terrified, but there is still time for bitter sarcasm:
Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us out to die in the wilderness? (Exodus 14:11)

Then in Yitro, Moses' father-in-law comes to visit having heard of all the miracles. Moses is exhausted. He spends his entire day adjudicating and resolving disputes according to G-d's law.
His father-in-law takes him aside and says "What are you doing? You can't keep going like this, you're going to collapse. You gotta take care of yourself, son!" Then he tells him to delegate. There, the Torah is also a three thousand year old management book.

I don't know why, these scenes or regular people, is something that makes the Torah feel so right - much more than the description of the amazing miracles.


Blogger dbs said...

A great point. Also, the Torah has many moments of brilliant moral and human insights, which are as relevant today as ever. Most powerful, perhaps, are the epic moments of human drama. The bible is a masterpiece. I just don’t think that it was written by god.

February 12, 2006 10:33 AM  
Blogger Irina Tsukerman said...

I think you'd like "Born to Kvetch", a new book about the history of Jewish griping, which came out recently!

February 12, 2006 11:34 AM  
Blogger Chana said...

I think it's the humanism that touches us. The idea that these are human people, and they are very close to us. They aren't superhuman, more-than-mortal, in some way beyond and above us, angels living in another realm. They were people, first and foremost, people frightened by God even while he was their saviour (consider Matan Torah), people desirous of food and water (and meat), who did not fully seem to trust their leader ("A little more and they will stone me!") A nation, trying to unlearn the slave mentality that had been engrained in them. And a leader, the former prince of Egypt, suddenly dealing with so many mental "slaves" who were asserting their rights for possibly the first time...

February 12, 2006 12:41 PM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...

what's with the lack of capitalization? Are you trying to make a point? :)

My shul is going to be looking for a new Rabbi, so if I need to hear kvetching I just go there.

You and I are on the same page here. This is why I like to keep the miracles to a minimum and pretty much why I can't stand Midrash. People seem to take these miracles so literally that they seem to miss the allegory, which to me is like missing the forest for the trees.

February 12, 2006 8:02 PM  
Blogger dbs said...


February 12, 2006 9:58 PM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...



February 13, 2006 7:15 AM  

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