Saturday, January 15, 2011

reflection from Tuscon:When

Here is my article from today's Island Packet.

1 comment:

Rabbi Arthur Segal said...

Shalom again my dear chaverli R'Brad and rfua shlema:

There is an interesting anology in play with parasha Yitro for this Shabbat of 1/21-22/11 and what happened with Congress yesterday.

When rabbinic talmudic judiasm was being developed in Babylon, from the ashes of Solomon's Temple and Hebraism, the rabbis were very careful, when they politically usurped the cult of the priesthood, to make sure that their new path was considered to be of equal status to Torah Law. In fact, they taught that the Oral Law, ie Mishna, (from the same root as Shana, as 'years' repeat and so do oral teachings), was given to Moshe on Sinai along with the written law.

Of course any reading of the Mishna, with disagreements in the very text, shows that these are works of humans, intoxicated with Ha Shem and with the survival of our people in Galut, diaspora.

So there are two midrashim that emphasise this continuity from this week's Yitro. There are 620 words in the Ten Utterances (commandments), and the gematria for the word Keter, crown, is also 620.

The rabbis posit that the lesson here is that not just 613 mitzvoth were given at Sinai, but 620. The extra 7 are talmudic rabbinic laws.

These Mitzvoth d'Rabbanan are:
To recite a blessing for each enjoyment.
To ritually wash the hands before eating.
To prepare lights in advance of Shabbat.
To construct an Eruv to permit carrying to and within public areas on Shabbat.
To recite the Hallel psalms on holy days.
To light the Hanukkah lights.
To read the Scroll of Esther on Purim.

Of course for those of us who are Jews, and not Karaites, Talmudic Rabbinic edicts make up 95% of Judaism.

Kabbalistically, the meaning "crown" corresponds, in particular, to "the head of nothingness," the source of Divine pleasure in the soul. The "crown" symbolizes the spiritual power to receive and integrate into one's consciousness the pleasure of Divine revelation, as our sages express with regard to the world to come: "the righteous sit with their crowns on their heads and receive pleasure from the radiance of the Divine Presence" (Tractate Kalah Rabati 2:3). And we get to this level by doing these 620 mitzvoth.

The rabbis built a fence around Torah laws, to protect them, even though they did away with many, like the death penalty. However, they always did it with respect to Torah, even though they may have used 'legal fictions.'

Contrast this to the tearing down of laws passed last year, in Congress' first weeks in session. There is no respect for their predecessors , and nothing is built up to replace what is subtracted. These 'heads of nothingness' have no relationship to the Zohar's spiritual definition.

Shalom uvracha v'ahavah:
Your Chaver:
Rabbi Arthur Segal