Monday, November 17, 2008

Evil Justice, Benign Evil

As the Kedushin tractate finishes its first chapter (which at 40 pages was itself longer than some full tractates), it wanders off into theological discussions of good and bad, why the just sometime suffer and the evil succeed, and so on. One of the passages deals with two verses in Isaiah chapter 3, verses 10-11. Now I've just gone through a variety of online translations, from King James onwards, and none of them seem to translate the original Hebrew in the way the Talmud understands it (and the Talmud's understanding seems quite plausible to me). This happens more often than you'd think, by the way, that Hebrew readers of the original Tanach find themselves reading a version that somehow doesn't make it into the translations. Anyway, the Talmud's reading of these two verses has them talking about just people who are good, and evil people who are bad, prompting the Gemarah to ask the obvious question: is it possible for a just person not to be good, or an evil person not to be bad?

Well, yes, is the answer. A just person who concentrates only on the religious precepts (i.e. the precepts that serve God) can be bad, while an evil person who concentrates on transgressing the religious precepts alone, may still be good. The issue is how a person relates to the social precepts.

Kidushin 40a

As you know, this thread started here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


According to Martin Buber you can't train the mind. God, he said, resides in everyone's heart. Too bad, most people don't know how to find love, in general. And, this love, in particular.

Still, Buber said the translation of what Moses heard at the burning bush, was wrong. It's not "I am who I am." Or "what I am." Or, even spam I am.

It's not in "naming." But in showing that faith is IRRATIONAL. Good that modern man can also learn about the universe of irrational numbers. Numbers sitting outside the usual frame of reference.

Buber said he thought trying to intellectualize faith, just gave you phony people. God's not there!

Why does this stuff keep showing up? Well, first of all you'd have to know a lot more about Judaism; and, its twists and turns through it's European journeys.

You'd have to know "why" Ben Gurion thought he could toss out real learning, and favor only the orthodox. Ben Gurion wasn't orthodox!

And, little did he know the t'zuris his moves would bring.

In the beginning? (Tindal really supplied the English version of the Biblical text. And, he died at the stake for his efforts. See? You didn't cross the powers that were held by Popes. Unless you were willing to sacrifice your life.)

But politics changed ... Just to digress a bit. And, the Catholic King, Henry VIII ... crossed swords with the Pope, who wouldn't give him a divorce. Let alone a roomful of divorces!

So England "broke away." Not all of England. No one bothered to ask the PEOPLE! Heck, it's even been stipulated that Shakespeare, who grew up a Catholic, because that was the church sanctioned by the Kings of England ... Found himself "abandoned."

Lots of Jews are now also "abandoned." They're not seeing Israel embracing wise goverments, or even embracing what passes for Judaism in America. Here, at least a woman can dream of becoming a rabbi. Just to show you one difference, where there are many.

But the biggest difference goes to what happened in Jerusalem. After much bloodshed and celebration; Jews see a city that went backwards.

Following WW2, there were destroyed cities in Europe that had to rebuild.

Jerusalem? Nothing doing! You've rebuilt, instead, the "shtetl." Those pockets in Europe where Jews lived in Ghettos. And, men couldn't leave to go to work. Because the goyim set those rules!

For Jews? It helped that the men didn't turn to alcohol. But to "study." While the women, seeing children that needed to be fed, grew strong.

Alas, in Jerusalem, without the pressures of having to work; the men, instead, turned to taxpayers. And, hold ups. They were gonna feed families on the backs of others. They were going to create more than one generation of men so weak they couldn't pick up a tool, to do a day's work.

You could ask, how will this affect the future? You've got ancient texts. And, so, too, do other people.

If you looked at the King James bible, for intance, you'd see it was 80% Tindal's translation. And, you'd see Tindale still doesn't get any credit.

And, King James, coming on the throne after Queen Elizabeth the First, needed to anchor the new church into a better division between itself, and the Catholics.

Sure. There was plenty of blood shed. For religion? People kill each other. (That's why America's Founding Fathers said that for a good Constitution, you needed to separate Church from State.) But I digress.

The real eyesore now is what happened to Jerusalem. A city stiffled by religious fanatics. And, if they let go? Then, the whole house of cards, falls.

Not too many people are that enamored of the "ancients." When they see with their eyes what was bypassed.

When will Judaism learn?

Well, you can still buy Flavius Josephus's text. He was the reporter on the scene, in Jerusalem, when the religious fanatics went nuts and took on Rome.

Good and Evil always gets measured in OUTCOMES. And, who knows what they are? When they can take a long time to appear?

All you know is that according to Shakespeare, life's a STAGE.

The curtain went up on Ben Gurion, as the master in charge. Whatever script he used, he was hooked on Marx. And, on Europe. And, he saw that Europe, after WW2, on the road to recovery, embraced the idea that displaced Jews could go to Palestine.

When you wake up, you see the reality.

Too bad such an ancient city, as Jerusalem is, isn't a better teacher of what went on. What caused the past to hold so many nightmares.

And, why is it that people always go back to remember their wars? Good times? Don't amount to a hill of beans.

And, there's more to Judaism in people's hearts; than you can guess at. It's irrational. Has nothing to do with "texts."

Leadership on the other hand, is either there. Or it's lacking.