All languages derive originally from HebrewIs this discussion going to be based on scholasticism or empiricism? It won't advance the discussion much if I bring sources from contemporary anthropology and linguistics, and you respond with quotes from the Talmud and the Zohar. I suspect now is the time for me to bow out, as I have no desire to cause anyone a crisis of faith.
Larry, firstly, if you bow out this conversation will likely be a lot less interesting.Secondly, if someone is basing their faith on whether Hebrew is the original language, it deserves to be shaken.Thirdly and finally, your post was interesting. I always take Torah and Talmud sources as fact and check other data against it, instead of vice-versa. Nevertheless, I am not afraid of what you have to offer. I have learned from experience that Torah can handle it.
Small point on Babel: The story is told in Biblical Hebrew of a time past in which there was one language and then God confounded it. So the original single language described within the story cannot, within the logic of the story, be the language in which the story is told. Because the story tells something that already happened.I have a feeling that the O answer to this has to do with the strange time-logic of the Jews receiving the Torah in which that very reception is described and even events that haven't happened yet were written?
I assume the story logic is that before Babel everyone spoke Hebrew, and after Babel only the descendants of Shem did.
. Aside from the actual word usage and the sense of reality it conveys, there is another layer of meaning encoded in the language, that, as far as I know does not exist in any other language. Always happy to expand someone's horizons. From The Encyclopedia of Judaism:As the term itself implies, gematria is not a Jewish invention; the technique was first used by the Greeks, Assyrians, and Babylonians. One ancient example can be found in an inscription of Sargon II (722-705 BCE), who built the Khorsabad Wall 16,283 cubits long so as to correspond to the numerical value of his name. During the Hellenistic period, gematria was likewise used by magi and dream interpreters.
Who's to say who borrowed it from whom? ;) Anyway, the question really isn't who used it, the question is which language has the concept built in.
Ruchi, this is a tactic called 'shifting the goalposts.' You said that as far as you knew, the concept didn't occur in any other language. I posted a source saying it did. So now that your original hypothesis has been disproved, you're moving on. The new question is 'which language has the concept built in.' The implication is that Hebrew, and only Hebrew, qualifies. To be honest, I don't understand the question. It seems to me that all letter based languages which have the concept of alphabetical order can be said to have the concept of gematria 'built in'. The idea is that you take the list of all the letters in order, and you map that to a list of integers. Why is that more intrinsic to Hebrew than to other languages? If it is because there is no separate number system besides the one based on letters, that characteristic also applies to Armenian. The Greeks had two numerical systems, one of which was based on the Greek letters as well.
Here's a question to Larry (and anyone else, especially observant types):No questions from me about the empirical and historical veracity of what you say. But I'm wondering what you (or others) think as a very observant Jew about what I'm calling (below) the metaphysics of Ruchi's post. Like how the truth of the Torah is seen to be truer than just a 'statement ABOUT' something. It's true (in Ruchi's O view) as in the sense of BEING reality, not just telling us about some stories. The way that God's saying and doing are one, that kind of immediate and absolute truth way beyond knowing stuff about stuff.I'm pretty secular and barely observant, so it's easy enough for *me* to not accept that metaphysical idea about the Torah. But is there a way to be very observant and yet not accept this?
Larry, I think that's unfair. As far as I was aware, I was returning to the original goalpost. I said "there is another layer of meaning encoded in the language, that, as far as I know does not exist in any other language." You brought me a proof that Greeks, Assyrians, Hellenists, and Babylonians, all of whom came after the language of Hebrew, used numerical equivalents. It's not about usage, it's about it being part and parcel of our language and texts. That's what I was doing in my response.Any examples of that in those cultures? Your source did not disprove my statement at all; in fact it can easily be understood that those cultures borrowed from the Hebrew concept of gematria for egomaniac purposes.SBW: the concept to which you refer is mentioned in the Talmud: "histakel b'oraysa u'vara alma" - He (God) looked into the Torah and then created the world. This is a kabbalistic concept (related to your other comment) that God wrote the Torah in spiritual form, like a blueprint, then "consulted" it in order to created the world. Hence, that Torah, Hebrew, and God's word are ultimate reality. This is a concept from the Talmud, so of course that opens the whole question of how do you view the Talmud? Divine, not Divine, etc. Interestingly, much of Reform Judaism depends heavily on concepts from the Talmud.
Ruchi, I didn't read your words closely enough. Sorry about that. I will probably need some examples of what you mean by 'part and parcel of our language and texts'. One of the most famous Greek Gematryiot derives the name Nero from 666, thus 'the number of the Beast' in the Book of Revelations can be read as a coded reference to the Emperor Nero. I don't know anything about Armenian - there are only so many years to one life, unfortunately, and I can't learn everything.I'm also not as convinced as you that Babylonian came after Hebrew. Certainly the link I posted above places Akkadian (early Babylonian) substantially earlier than Biblical Hebrew.
Forgiven. The commentator known as the "Baal Haturim" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacob_ben_Asher) - btw how do you hyperlink in this comment section?? - basically learns gematria lessons on nearly every verse in the Torah. Rashi, the primary commentator, mentions gematria as well. Here's an example of how gematria is built into Torah: We are commanded to give Tzedakah (charity) to the poor. The numerical value of the Hebrew word for a wealthy person, ashir, is 580 (ashir is spelled ayin, shin, yud, reish; ayin = 70, shin = 300, yud = 10, reish = 200, totaling 580). The word for a poor person is ani, which equals 130 (ani is spelled ayin, nun, yud; ayin = 70, nun = 50, yud = 10, totaling 130). The difference between them is 450, which is also the numerical value of the Hebrew word tein, which means to give (tein is spelled tuf, nun; tuf = 400, nun = 50 totaling 450). If we want to erase differences between the “haves” and the “have-nots”, we just need to open up our wallets and give.As far as Babylonian and Hebrew, it's possible there aren't written records of Hebrew until the giving of the Torah, since the only ones that spoke it were the children of Shem and eventually the children of Jacob, who numbered only 70 until the Exodus from Egypt. The Torah in written form did not appear until 3,324 years ago. You know my sources.
Here's an article about Gematria and the Koran. Here's another about Gematria and 9/11. And another about Christian Gematria. Are these less built in than Hebrew Gematriot? Why?
SBW: But is there a way to be very observant and yet not accept this? Yes.
Larry, I read the three links. (You still need to teach me how to hyperlink here.)Re: Gematria and the Koran, that was truly very interesting. I didn't know anything like that existed. Two comments: 1. the article stated that it was first used by Jews (as did the last article), although that's not really the point, and 2. I only see one example of numerological significance, and that is the number 19. I agree that it's cool and all, and it makes me wonder, but you still can't compare that the entirety of the Hebrew language in all of our ancient texts being significant numerologically in this way. Is Arabic an inherently numerologically significant language throughout its ancient texts?The second article, on 9/11, reminds me more of Bible codes, which don't impress me. First off, who is the author of this piece, and what are his credentials? Is the classic Christian thought, or is he a singular voice? Anything that you find signs for after the fact is useful only so far as motivating yourself to do what you really know you should do anyway. Find me a sign before something happens - now that's cool.Also, as far as everything adding up to 151, there are "gematria books" that people can just look up numerical values of common Jewish phrases and say "this equals that" - like in Sheva Brachos speeches or what have you. Fun, cute, but no mystical significance there, necessarily. When I taught high school, my students would say "Bah! Anyone can make up a Gematria." I challenged them to do so; no one ever took me up on it. But maybe they were just being typical teenagers.Find me Gematria by respected, classical sources throughout the Latin (where does Greek come into the picture?) version of the King James Bible, or throughout the Arabic Koran, and I will consider myself stumped.In any event, Gematria is not so much the point. As Ethics of the Fathers says (3:23): "Astronomy and Gematria are [merely] the condiments to wisdom."
The basic Arabic system of gemetrayia is called Ajad Numerals. There is a discussion of their use in Islamic numerology on ehow.com. I can't find specific references to texts, but I can't find much of the equivalent for Jewish sources either. I know of far more Jewish examples than I can find on a web search, so I'm not surprised I can't find them on the web for Islamic sources either. My one Muslim friend confirms that such things exist, but like me he isn't very interested and so doesn't know much about them. To make a link - remove the spaces from the following:< a href = "http://thelinkyouwant.com">the name you want underlined < / a >
All languages derive originally from Hebrew. The story of the Tower of Babel describes its explosion into multiple languages.I'm not aware of any evidence to support the biblical story of the tower of Babel. This discussion is supposed to be about Hebrew. Let's not open the question of the literal truth of Genesis 1-11. What would you consider a valid source for a history of human lingustics? Here's a non-techmical survey of the field of Semitic languages that might suffice to give an overview.
I don't think it matters that there isn't evidence to support it. Is there evidence to disprove it?This discussion is, very much, about Hebrew - and about its being the mother of all languages.
What would you consider evidence to disprove the tower of Babel? The earliest known human skeleton in Australia is 40.000 years old. Is that even possible in your cosmology? If so, did he live before the mabul (Flood)? Were the inhabitants of Babel miraculously scattered across the world? If not, how did human re-colonize America and Australia and why is there no trace of this in the archeological record? We have fairly continuous records of Egyptian civilization without any significant breaks during the period of that would appear to cover the Flood and the Tower of Babel.
Oy, Larry...I may as well 'fess up. I'm no historian. Sorry. This is also getting into the whole science and Torah debate and also I'm no scientist.But, I do believe in miracles.
Yes it is getting into religion/science debates.I'll confess that I'm a little afraid of finding out just how much you disregard or discount science or history. I am imagining that you believe things like that there were no dinosaurs, for instance. Part of what you say above about the layers of Torah makes it possible for me to find some non-literal truth there and so some shared ground. But literalism, especially when it goes against science, is to me hard to accept and feels like one of the big, solid lines that separates us.
Don't worry. I don't discount it at all. I might view these the same way you view Torah: I have a lot of respect for the research, and it has value, but I'm not swallowing it whole.FTR, I do believe that dinosaurs existed. I believe nearly everything can be viewed in a non-contradictory way. I also have a healthy dose of skepticism when I go to museums and see reconstructed dinosaurs with a lot of conjecture being presented as fact.
I don't think it matters that there isn't evidence to support it. Is there evidence to disprove it?From today's NY Times (in an article criticizing nutritional scientists):The British scientist and educator Thomas Huxley ... may have put it best back in 1860. “My business,” he wrote, “is to teach my aspirations to conform themselves to fact, not to try and make facts harmonize with my aspirations.”Personally I would suggest that given that science and torah come from the same Source, if there is an apparent contradiction, we don't understand the science, we don't understand the torah, or both. I suspect the difference between us is the weight given to the Mesorah (chain of traditional teachings) - when I see there is no evidence for a worldwide flood I'm willing to allegorize it. Someone who feels that since nowhere in the Mesorah is there any evidence the flood was intended to be allegorical we can't make that interpretation has to make other choices to resolve the conflict.I don't regard the age of the Hebrew language as one of the 13 ikkarim (basic principles of Judaism). So when Chazal say "Hashem looked into the Torah and created the universe" I find it very easy to allegorize that. The Torah says 'thou shalt not murder' and Hashem created a universe in which murder is immoral. The Torah of 'black fire written on white fire' is probably not the same as the Torah we received. History is not entirely pre-destined - Chazal speak of what would have happened had the Jews not listened to the words of the Meraglim (spies) for example. If that had happened, the Torah would have been written substantially differently - no 40 year stay in the wilderness, more likely than not Moshe would have led us into Israel, etc.
Don't know the reference to black/white fire and I don't know enough to understand the last few lines of the post.For me the important part here is the willingness to take Torah allegorically, or how much freedom an observant Jew has to do so and where. For Ruchi it sounds like there is more reliance on a tradition and on rabbis who have said where things are to be taken allegorically and where not. For Larry it sounds like he is comfortable deciding that himself. So one of the basic questions here is reliance on authority for the way we read. That possibility to find allegorical truth in the Torah is part of what I meant by rhetorical-literary beauty. Rhetoric is in a modern sense usually means simply persuasion, often to bad ends and by means of lies, but in an older sense it is the construction of speeches or text in such a way as to make them moving, which includes them being true, or evoking certain feelings, or using words with certain techniques to make them express better what they are 'about' (even where the words are not 'about' something but ARE the reality themselves--as in what you/Tatz have said). All of what Larry calls the allegorical possibilities are for me the attractive part here.
I take it very allegorically, and find exactly the same beauty in what you call rhetorical/literary beauty. But I also, where indicated by the chain of tradition you correctly reference, take it literally.In fact, this multi-leveled approach to understanding the text and the stories is called "pardes." It comprises four concurrently accurate explanations of the very same text: the literal storyline; the deeper understanding of what actually happened; the allegorical lessons and insights (this is the part that speaks to you; and the deep "secrets" of the world (kabbalistic concepts) that are encoded therein (this is not covered in mainstream Torah learning).I am very willing to allegorize everything. But not at the expense of the first level.
There is no clear, unitary Mesorah on the universality of the flood, the age of the Universe, the language spoken in Babel.
Does that mean that it is permitted in Orthodoxy to believe that Hebrew was NOT the language spoken before the flood? I realize that this question has more to do with what leeway people have when Mesorah is not unitary or clear but I'm still wondering what that means for Ruchi's theological claim about Hebrew being the original language.
BY: to SBW's point, can you elaborate?
I am a very orthodox Jew, I believe fully in the Truth and Divinity of the Torah.I however, do NOT believe that Hebrew was the very first language, and that all other languages come from it.Most importantly, it is crucial that Jews recognize the developments that Hebrew itself has taken. The Gemorah, (or rather the Geonim) in Messechet Sepher Torah, discuss some of the evolution and changes of the Hebrew language. Biblical Hebrew is not Mishnaic Hebrew, which is not the Hebrew that Jews spoke in Israel, which is not Rabbinic Hebrew.Not only did the words and meanings change, but the shape of the letters changed as well.Despite all I have just written, I still find Gematria meaningful, and the precision of the language is still important. Just because it changed, does not change the fact that the language is meticulous and unique.I think people just need to read the Zohar and Agadatot with a little bit less literalism, and a bit more sechel.
I am really interested in the perspective you offer, because it is what I would call Orthodox-but-historicist. And not so literalist.So is there any incompatibility in your (i.e. this Anonymous of June 8) world between accepting the historical changes in Hebrew and believing in the full truth of the Torah? I can see that Ruchi's view eliminates all contradictions, but (to me) overlooks some historical changes. Your view accepts the historical changes, but does that introduce any contradictions for you? I would love to hear more about Orthodox non-literal beliefs. Or sechel-O as you describe it?
I fully agree that the language has evolved. There's ksav ashuris and all that. However the wisdom in the Hebrew language (Rav Mattisyahu Glazerson I believe has a really nice text on the topic) is what I'm talking about and what all the primary commentaters in the Torah reference. I don't see incompatibility thus far.Anonymous, can you provide sources for your assertion that Hebrew was not the original language? As far as learning Zohar: I wouldn't know. I've never learned it and never will. Where you state that you "think people just need to read [them] with a little bit less literalism..." this is where it seems to me to veer from mesorah and enter the realm of opinion.
I am likewise a bit hesitant to respond in full and honest detail to the post, because your love and reverence for Hebrew come through so clearly.So just to offer one general thought: To me it feels like the patent love and reverence are the cart driving the horse here (cart=love and reverence, horse=actual claims listed).For instance, I have no doubt that Hebrew is *overall* like no other language, but it is not *entirely* different from other languages, e.g. it has structural features like some other languages.The idea that Hebrew is different from all other languages because it is 'the language of reality' involves a fascinating metaphysical idea of how there could even be a 'language of reality'. I think what you are saying is that Biblical Hebrew is not just 'a language' at all, it is metaphysically original, real, and true. I can see why O Jews would have to think this. I enjoy thinking about these questions and the history of how they develop, but cannot accept this idea about Hebrew.I am thrilled with the observation of how Hebrew will use more words to try to describe something less insultingly. To me (I've mentioned this before) this is part of the incredible literary and rhetorical beauty of the Torah. I know to you that's a denigration of the Torah, but to me it's as high up there as a linguistic object can be (and I realize to you the Torah is not at all, or certainly not primarily, 'a linguistic object').
:) your sensitivity is appreciated. Consider: just because someone is in love, doesn't make their affections misplaced.Agreed it isn't entirely different. If indeed it is the mother of all languages, surely similarities would be evident. For example, the English word "fruit" is remarkably similar to the Hebrew "peirot" ("P" and "F" are the same letter in Hebrew).See my other concept above as far as "the language of reality." Did you read that chapter by Rabbi Tatz? This reminds me of a question my friend asked about studying "mussar" - Jewish spirituality in character improvement - similar to the 49 days of inspiration. She asked if one could believe, learn, be inspired by those ideas without a belief in God. The answer, as I've borrowed from someone is, yes...but why would you want to?As far as the incredible literary and rhetorical beauty (what do you mean by "rhetorical"?) - I don't find that a denigration at all. I feel exactly as you do, but with an added layer on top of spiritual reality.
The idea behind the 'why would you want to' scenario pinpoints something important for me. You provide in this post and in this blog a lot of ideas as to how God and Jewish law and so forth are a foundation, a bedrock, in a way that they all fit together--Hebrew, reality, Jewish souls, Israel. These make up a very strong whole for you and O Judaism. Some of the things, in contrast, that attract me more are the 'foundationless', dispersed, contingent, aesthetic elements. Like diaspora vs. Israel; Jewish cultural identity vs. soul; literary beauty vs. reality. I guess this makes me the postmodern Jew you once referred to somewhere here. This is really abstract, I'll think about it and try again maybe.
I know exactly what you're saying. In my teaching I employ the latter far more often than the former because it is much more digestible. When I bring up ideas like this post, unless someone already believes as I do, I get a lot of challenges.People, apparently, are not very comfortable with the concept of objective truths/right and wrong. That's why nearly all the comments on this post have challenged me.My question, though, remains: why would someone want to divest spirituality of its source? I have a reason in mind. Do you?
Not sure I understood the last question, but I think--floating even further into the abstract--that my answer would be that what you are calling 'spirituality' is by definition what has its source in God and other 'bedrock' elements. It's our own personal share of those truths (if I understand you). The positive relationship *I* have to diaspora, literary beauty, the 49 days messages, et al. is not for me 'spiritual' and definitely not in the sense you mean, because it IS without a bedrock source. I am not divesting my positive experiences (that I don't think are spiritual) of their source, because for me they are not 'spiritual' in your sense, and even if they are 'experiential' they are not the experience or link to a source at all (in my view). I imagine you will say that they ARE by definition my link to that source. But that is because you have a metaphysics of source, bedrock, interlocking elements, et al. And I don't. So what's YOUR reason in mind?
I think that what you're saying is that teachings that I consider "spiritual," like moral directives on how to live life, you do not consider "spiritual" because it is sourceless.Then where did this wisdom come from?I hesitate to ask this because I think the "I'll prove to you that God exists" is a silly tactic, but I'm just trying to climb into your mind and am hoping to understand how this kind of wisdom, that I consider spiritual, is viewed by you.Not that we've ever discussed how you view God. That would be an interesting digression.
People, apparently, are not very comfortable with the concept of objective truths/right and wrong. That's why nearly all the comments on this post have challenged me.Ruchi, do you mean 'most of the comments on this post have questioned me' or 'most of the comments on this post have been difficult to answer'?
Not sure what you're getting at.
I'm puzzled by your statement. The 'people seem to have problems with objective truths/right and wrong' is a standard kiruv line to imply (or state) that people choose not to believe in God so as to be free to do what they want. If you had said that in reference to the outside discussions where you are reluctant to bring these sorts of things up, I could understand it. But you said 'that is the reason most of the comments on this post have challenged me.' But almost none of the discussion on this post has been about right and wrong. And as far as objective truths go, you and I have been discussing whether the objective truth is that Hebrew is the oldest of languages, whether the confusion of tongues and dispersion of Humanity after the Tower of Babel actually happened, whether other cultures use numerological examination of the words of their scripture to find deeper truths, whether Biblical Hebrew contains pejoratives, etc. So I don't understand how the comments on this post support the idea that the posters are uncomfortable with the notion of objective reality. We simply disagree about what the objective reality is. Your dialog with SBW might be related to this - I find it very hard to follow, frankly.
You're right. It was a stupid thing to say.Re: sbw - me too, sometimes.
Ruchi: I don't consider those things 'spiritual' because I don't believe in spirituality, at least not in the sense that a soul is connected to God. If I use the word spiritual, it means something like 'peaceful, calming, connected' but without reference to God. In my view, which is definitely unconsidered, the kinds of wisdom in the 49 days messages 'comes from' human insights.Larry and Ruchi: I think Ruchi got to the statement about objective truths and people challenging her because I compared my 'foundationless' approach to Ruchi's 'bedrock truth' approach. I'm guessing that the line about objective reality connects for Ruchi to the disagreements to her claims in this thread because for Ruchi indeed the Torah truth is objective, and the scientific truth is less so? This looks to be an inflammatory path.Definitely it's hard to follow some of the exchange. I was trying to explain how I can be more easily inspired by a foundationless perspective on some of the Jewish elements that for Ruchi are solidly founded. Got a little carried away on that, sorry.So what is your reason, Ruchi, that people want to 'divest spirituality' of its source'?
Excuse this disorganized response. Shabbos is coming and there's a lot going on.I'm getting increasingly regretful that I said anything about that. It's like telling someone, "You're in a bad mood!" Even if he is in a bad mood, he will rarely say, "Wow, you're right."But, I made my own bed, so now I'll sleep in it.1. My hypothesis is that people subconsciously reject a philosophy that will force them to follow through with uncomfortable behaviors. Nothing original here; this is cognitive dissonance. Of course, that probably sounds rather pompous of me, which is why I told Larry it was a stupid thing to say. Because if I'm right, I'm insulting you, and if I'm wrong, I'm insulting you AND I'm making a stupid mistake.My friend who became observant as an adult described the moment, sitting in a Torah class, where it hit her that possibly this stuff is true. She said it was a totally amazing and depressing moment. Depressing, because she realized she was going to have to make some changes in her life.Similarly, in the book "Climbing Jacob's Ladder" the author wishes to access Jewish spirituality and wisdom without the spiritual source. He is afraid of becoming Orthodox.2. From jewishvirtuallibrary.org on the beginnings of the Reform Movement:"Reform Judaism was born at the time of the French Revolution, a time when European Jews were recognized for the first time as citizens of the countries in which they lived. Ghettos were being abolished, special badges were no more, people could settle where they pleased, dress as they liked and follow the occupations that they wanted.Many Jews settled outside of Jewish districts, and began to live like their neighbors and speak the language of the land. They went to public schools and universities, began to neglect Jewish studies and to disregard the Shulchan Aruch.In 1815, after Napoleon's defeat, Jews lost the rights of citizenship in several countries. Many Jews became Christian to retain those rights. Thoughtful Jews were concerned about this. They realized that many of these changes took place not because of a dislike of Judaism, but to obtain better treatment."Which makes me think that the Reform movement began based on people wishing to live better. Conversely, asserting non-pluralistic thoughts, that will translate into tough realities, such as: Jews are inherently different from all other nations! The land of Israel is inherently different from all other lands! The language of Hebrew is inherently different from all other languages! flies in the face of these ideas. Those ideas make people uncomfortable. Maybe it's indeed because, as Larry said, it will force people to change their lives; who knows? I can't plumb the depths of everyone's heart. Anyway, the Reform movement began eons ago; do today's Reform Jews feel in touch with those ideas? Are those conscious choices, to move away from those ideas, which I call "spirituality"?3. When you say spirituality doesn't exist, what do you mean? Do you mean there is no God, we have no soul, there is nothing more than what we see and hear? Is that called atheism? Help me to understand.4. Tell me more about wisdom emanating from human insight. Personally, I don't intuit anything. Everything that I teach that appears to be meaningful and helpful to people originates from Torah.5. "Inflammatory": to whom? Me? You? Larry?Thanks for your continued idea exchange. I really enjoy it.
Hi Ruchi, thanks for the thoughts. You already know where I am on all this. I don't resist what you are saying, or what Torah says, because it will require me to live differently. I resist it because I don't see it as objective truth. With this thread we are sort of all appearing in our most predictable and polarized positions.After what I learned from some of those great posts on the Reform/Orthodox thread, I'm pretty sure I shouldn't speak for Reform, I'll stick with "lazy" to avoid tarnishing anyone else with the postmodern stain of my own ideas about how there is no Jewish essence or bedrock.
Cognitive disssonance goes both ways. People who follow an elaborate system of rules are often internally pressured to justify those rules by buying in to the philosophy that underlies them, because if not, "why am I doing all this hard work?"
True. So how can someone ever know if he is thinking objectively?
I don't know. Maybe we have to constantly assess ourselves.
Isn't that kind of like checking if your watch is broken by looking at your watch to see what time it is?
In fact it is always possible that our watch is broken and we didn't know it, so if we come into a situation where we suddenly realize that the world seems to be doing things it does at 9am and we think it's 8:40, it might be a good idea to check another timepiece just in case. So I guess the analogy would be here that the thing we take as reliable (the watch) might one day not be.The analogy doesn't capture your difference here, though, from Anonymous of June 3. If s/he does not believe unequivocally in the truth of Torah and the system of O rules that are taken to follow from that, then (barring the existence other foundations that for her/him might serve as objective truth) something like 'constant assessment' would be almost an ethical demand. To try and consider in a constant fashion what is true and right.The watch analogy you invoke is interesting because time of day is actually something that is 'objective' but also constructed by human systems of time measurement. It's TRUE that it's 2am, but two Saturdays a year that fact suddenly changes and it's 1am or 3am instead. Getting a little rambly here, but 'constant assessment' would be a kind of non-foundation for truth, but maybe the best that can be done if you don't believe in Torah as bedrock truth.
I'm not clear on how Biblical Hebrew does not have pejoratives. The chumash includes many negative terms: tomei, toevah, sheketz etc.
Good point. The examples you mention are technical categories that either describe temporary, technical statuses in Jewish law, or descriptions of behaviors. "sheketz" in the Torah is not used the way it is used today.In the Torah these words are not used pejoratively and never to label people or animals.
I am just not seeing this drasha as compatible with the actual chumash pesukim. Just some random examples: Bereshis 18:23: Tzadik im RashaBereishis 6:12 : V'hinei nishchasaShmos 23:1: al toshes yadcho im rashashmos 32: 9 am kshei orefvayikra 20:23 v'akootz bambamidbar 16:26 hoanoshim haroshoim hoeledevarim 17:7, 19:19 u'vearto hora m'kirbechodevarim 18:9 k'toavat hagoyim hoheimall the curses at the end of devarim- pretty negative. ben sorer u'morer- not realistic, never happened.
Hi again Anonymous,I will address your sources, but first, I think you and I are not in sync on what I meant by "ugly words." Here's my original statement: "Ugly words do not exist in Hebrew; despite its inherent conciseness, more words and syllables will be employed to describe something in a lovelier, less insulting way."Here's how Rabbi Tatz puts it in the link I posted above:(p. 87)"Hebrew is called the 'holy language' because it underlies all of manifest reality...there is another reason too: Maimonides says that Hebrew is known as holy because it has no vulgarities. All the words for unseemly things and functions, those things that in other languages are used as profanities and curses, cannot be said in Hebrew; they are all expressed as refined references only. In modern Hebrew, should you wish to utter a profanity, you would have to use a word from another language; all modern Hebrew profanity is borrowed."Will address the specific references shortly, but I'm sure that already clears a lot up.
Regarding the sources you cite, they pretty much all fall into one category: God's description of or reactions to behaviors He finds ugly - the 3 cardinal sins of idolatry, murder, and sexual immorality. The events involved are the Flood, destruction of Sedom and Amorah, Golden Calf, rebellion of Korach (here's the exception - it doesn't neatly into the three categories but is nevertheless behavior God considers ugly), sins of the non-Jewish nations that reside in Israel, and sins of this nature committed by the Jewish nation.So, yes, you are right that although the Torah goes to lengths to state things euphemistically (interesting how in modern times that's not necessarily even considered admirable), it does not mince words in making it very clear which behaviors are to be avoided at all costs and how God feels about them. Definitely an interesting observation, so thanks for fine-tuning that.
To be a bit of a "language police," about #4, doesn't the term "treif" originally come from "Tarof taraf Yosef," when Yaakov Avinu cries that Yosef must've been torn apart by a wild animal? That's what I always thought..
It does, but again, it's not an "ugly word" in the Torah. Its meaning is "torn apart" and that's what technically makes an otherwise kosher animal, non-kosher, if it's "torn apart" in the wild rather than ritually slaughtered. That's why it's used that way and has been broadened to mean non-kosher in general.Thanks for pointing that out.
You lost me at "Hebrew."
I love Biblical Hebrew so I completely share the enthusiasm here, although I don't agree with all the claims you're making about the language. Example: I think gematria is not a feature of the Biblical Hebrew language, but how we interpret a specific text in that language. There are other books written in the same kind of Hebrew, that are not included in Tanach, and we don't use gematria to learn things from those apocryphal books.
Hi Sarah,I hear you. Might it be that the numerical equivalents inherent in any Hebrew word is significant no matter where it appears, but just in the Tanach itself, each word carries eternal numerological lessons based on context, and therefore we "darshan" Tanach based on gematria?
It is my belief, after studying, that gematria is actually much more important in the Tanach than modern people realize. Or rather, when numbers are explicitly mentioned, they are being mentioned to an audience which is greatly familiar with gematria and it's concepts.Just because you impose something on the text, doesn't mean the text was not written in such a way as to inspire you to impose it.
Off topic observation: I guess I thought that O Jews would stay way out of contemporary drug culture, the way you also try to protect yourselves from exposure to vulgar language and immodest tv images and so forth. So the title of the thread surprised me.
:) A high can be achieved in many ways. "Items in mirror are more chilled than they appear."
I like the "Items in mirror..." line! :)
Just came across this, but it might be interesting for some people to hear:On Language and Leshon HaKodesh
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