Monday, May 21, 2018



Exodus 24:3: The entire nation of Israel answer Moses in one voice:
“We will do (observe) --   N’[A]hSeH נעשה . עשה   GHaSeH, is to make, produce,
 like “Hacer en Mexico” (Made in Mexico) or Noah constructing an ark in Genesis 6:14.
 This is about physical performance.

Three verses later, in Exodus 24 4-7, the people add to the words above:
 “We will listen (understand) --  N’SHM[A]h   .נשמע   As in  שמע ישראל SHM[A]h YiSRA’EL  (Hear O’ Israel, Listen up… be engaged with ears  (אזני AZNeY (ears) of the people, the minds and spirits -- more than just hands-on performance. The SN/SM theme of SouNd, SeNSe and SeeM.

Saying that we will observe AND THEN understand infers that THERE ARE TWO TORAHS !
And that a first revelation can be observed but not understood. In a sense there ARE two Torahs. The Written Torah (a finite Scripture) and the Oral Torah (an infinite, ongoing commentary full of debate but rooted, ironically, in received tradition).  

There are two ways to react to this two-tier revelation. The first, more benevolent and rare way, is to say that the assemblage of Israelite newbies, new converts to what will become Judaism, are displaying extraordinary faith. They are awed by their miraculous delivery from bondage, and are committing themselves to the Lord’s mission statement -- even though the scroll they saw and heard is in puzzling shorthand, even microfiche, requiring detailed instructions from Moses and his students. HOW does one keep the Sabbath or eat kosher? Just what four species are to be taken up on Sukkot/Tabernacles?  Those first recipients of what Moses penned with automatic writing in one night (Exodus 24:4) displayed inspiring piety and humility in accepting a covenant that they knew required tremendous study by devoted sages who were far beyond their level.

Piety and humility? Hah! Even among Israelites, the democratic socialist Korah (Numbers 16) will claim that everyone is holy, and that he is equally qualified to reinterpret the Oral Torah so that he presides over a politburo.  Millennia of  Jewish reformers will also play with the Written Torah and presume the right, minus decades of study, to reshape the Oral Torah. With even more hubris and less Hebraic knowledge, non-Jewish “scholars” and theologians will twist the Written and Oral Torah to fit their foreign traditions. They have no clue that a so-called translation of the Written Torah, without extensive guidance and explanation by the sages of Oral Torah, is like  representing the Grand Canyon with a fax of a Xerox of a 1910 Brownie camera photo.  

But wouldn’t it be a lot simpler if the Written Torah included the Oral Torah?  Sure. And how many of these 30-scroll Torah sets would have survived? In present form it’s in a complex code, but it’s on one Travel Drive.   Besides, simplicity and ease, the linear, orderly progression of secular  bible translators, doesn’t seem to match the Creator’s m.o.  The Hebrew Bible text has elaborate grammar, syntax, etc.  But this is constantly being “misapplied” in order to vex the reader into additional information.
 Sorry.  The Torah (Written with Oral) is far is far from a straightforward, prosaic storybook-law code rewritten by several groups of special-interest humans. It’s not for occasional light reading when one’s TV breaks in a hotel room. Our Creator wants us to observe, to do, our 7 or 613 commandments: hands on. But also to mind our two-level revelation.  It brings us back to the Garden of Edenת which we are both to work and cultivate (Genesis 2:15), לעבדה ולשמרה