Tuesday, July 17, 2007

To all my fans...

All one of you.

I'm finally updating about my third class, which was July 8.

It was by far my favorite class. It's unfortunate that Ryan couldn't go, but he had to work. (Speaking of work, my boss is considering moving me to having weekends off, which would conflict with my conversion classes. Hopefully she'll let me leave early for class. Fingers crossed.)

In class, we talked about the Torah, and I learned a lot that I never knew before. First, for novices, I should state the Torah specifically is the first five books of the Hebrew Bible and Old Testement of the Christian Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. The five books cover the creation through the entering of the Promised Land. The entire Hebrew Bible, including the Torah, is 24 books. They are broken up into three sections: Torah, Prophets and Writings. The last two books are considered lesser than and consistent with the Torah.

For example, the Christian Old Testament is arranged in a different order than the Hebrew bible. The order was set after the modern book was invented. Before that, the order was unneccessary because everything was written on individual scrolls.

In the Christian version, the Old Testement ends with Malakai. In the Hebrew bible, it ends with Chronicles II. Chronicles II ends with a direction: "Go back and build the temple." And if you go back to the beginning of the writings section, the Jews are establishing the temple. The Jews arranged it this way for it to be a cyclical story that has no beginning and no end. How different is that than the Christian version!

We also talked about Midrash, which are stories a lot of us know that don't appear in the Hebrew bible. One that the rabbi recounted that I learned at some point is the story of Abraham and the idols. Abraham's father left him to watch his idol-making shop. While his father was away, Abraham smashed all the idols but the biggest one. His father came back and yelled at Abraham. Abraham claimed the biggest idol smashed the others. Of course, Abraham's father had to admit that idol's weren't real and couldn't do that.

Another interesting difference we talked about was the concept of a high-context book versus a low-context book. The rabbi said the concept of a low-context book is tied to Protestantism. A large belief in Protestantism is that the Bible is extremely user friendly and literal more often than not. The Jews disagree with that. They consider the Torah a high context book, which requires a teacher for understanding.

We also discussed the "oral Torah." Almost all Jewish sects acknowledge laws that aren't written exclusively in the Torah but are interpreted from it. For example, the Torah tells you how to get married, but not divorced. Throughout history, rabbis have studied and determined what those oral laws are. There is a sect of Jews, called Karasites, that do not acknowledge the oral Torah. The name of the sect comes from the word meaning reading.

We talked about a lot more, but that's a (somewhat) brief recap. I don't mean to bore you with it, but I want to recount as much as I can and flesh out my notes.


I also wanted to add a little something regarding my last post about the mourner's kaddish. I don't know if I could have participated (since I'm not Jewish) had I remembered, but it occurred to me later that the 15th anniversary of my sister's death was on Wednesday. Maybe next year I'll be able to participate.

It's also my grandparents' 65th wedding anniversary this Saturday! I spent the weekend with them. My grandpa told me meeting my grandmother was the best decision he has ever made. I assumed that of course, but it means something to hear him say it. Of course, if she had heard him say it, she probably would have rolled her eyes and swatted him.

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