Sunday, August 28, 2011

Four entered in a Pardes...An interpretation of Chagiga 14b

Four men entered, in a field:

Rabbi Akiva warned them: When you get to the white marble, don't say "Water! Water!"

They went in.

One man died.

One man went mad.

One man cut the shoots.

Rabbi Akiva came out unharmed.

One made died:

He said: "I have lived my life with the belief that reason would lead me to my God. Now I see it does not. I cannot live." His soul departed, and we learn that God holds dear the passing of His righteous ones.

One man went mad:

He went running through the night, holding a lantern in his hand and asking strangers: Have you seen Him? Have you seen God?" They laughed a nervous laugh. Then he jumped into their midst and pierced them with his eyes. "I will tell you!" he cried "We have killed him -- you and I. All of us are his murderers!" He threw his lantern on the ground, and it broke into pieces and went out.

One man cut the shoots:

He said: I will live only by that which can be demonstrated. That which cannot, I will disregard. Hope will come from within.

We therefore say he cut the shoots.

But Rabbi Akiva came out unharmed:

For he had remembered to remain silent.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

My Tisha Be Av Reading

1. Emil Fackenheim's "To Mend The World"

2. Emil Fckenheim's "God's Presence in History"

3. Simon Sebag Monifiore's "Jerusalem"

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Lonely man of faith on approaching God through nature, and through his involvement in the world.

"As a matter of fact, at the level of his cosmic confrontation with God, man is faced with an exasperating paradox. On the onehand, he beholds God in every nook and corner of creation, in the flowering of the plant, in the rushing of the tide, and in the movement of his own muscle, as if God were at hand close to and beside man, engaging him in a friendly dialogue. And yet the verymoment man turns his face to God, he finds Him remote, unapproachable, enveloped in transcendence and mystery....[]... resides in every infinitesimal particle of creation and the whole universe is replete with His glory[] In short, the cosmic experience is antithetic and tantalizing. It exhausts itself in the awesome dichotomy of God's involvement in the drama of creation, and His exaltedness above and remoteness from this very drama. This dichotomy cancels the intimacy and immediacy from one's relationship with God and renders the personal approach to God complicated and difficult. God, as the cosmic ruler,is beheld in His boundless majesty reigning supreme over creation,His will crystallized in the natural law, His word determining the behavioral patterns of nature. He is everywhere but at the same time above and outside of everything. When man who just beheld God's presence turns around to address himself to the Master of creation in the intimate accents of the "Thou", he finds the Master and Creator gone, enveloped in the cloud of mystery, winking to him from the awesome "beyond." Therefore, the man of faith,in order to redeem himself from his loneliness and misery, must meet God at a personal covenantal level, where he can be near Him and feel free in His presence."