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Go Back   Spiritual Forums > Religions & Faiths > Judaism

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  #1  
Old 06-07-2012, 01:43 AM
RonPrice
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THE OLD TESTAMENT and ME

The Hebrew Bible, called The Old Testament by Christians, is an extraordinarily difficult sequence of books.1 This difficulty, too easily underestimated, is greater now than it ever was, partly because no contemporary reader, however specialized, shares in the psychology of the original readers and writers of The Bible. The first millennium in which anyone read any of the words in any of the books from 1000 B.C. to the time of Christ or, perhaps more accurately, 600 B.C. to 400 A.D.(2)

My first memories of The Old Testament come from Bible readings in grade six when I was 11 and my mother reading passages from little booklets from the Unity School of Christianity as early as the mid-1950s. Although some of the quotations had a broad ethical appeal to me even as a boy in my late childhood and early teens, I found the stories abstruse and distant: goats, sheep, tribes, and curious names like Balthazar and Nebuchadnezzar. They all occupied another universe far removed from my little town of 5000 in Ontario in that post-WW2 world of the 1950s. This distance existed then, as it does now, nearly 60 years later.
My individual understanding of The Bible, my biblical interpretations, rely primarily at the age of nearly 70 on my experience of nearly 60 years of intimate association with the Baha’i Faith. My interpretations and those of the Baha’i teachings are provocative, if nothing else. But I have always found there to be a vast distance from the psychic universe of the biblical writers beginning as early as, say, 900 B.C.2 and the contemporary society that is my world. I know I have lots of company; indeed I rarely meet anyone who actually reads The Old Testament any more.

However abstruse the language of biblical prophecy and eschatology, the prophets of The Old Testament, I believe, were given a foreknowledge of the events of our times in their visions, visions which I’m sure they hardly understood themselves. Still, there lies a sure presentation of the times we are living-through, as long as one does not take those prophecies literally.

Yahweh's choice of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and their descendants as part of the Chosen People story was a permanent decision, intended to prevail into a time without boundaries, into our time.-Ron Price with thanks to (1)Harold Bloom, “Prose and Poetry,” in The New York Times, 17 October, 1982: a review of Dan Jacobson’s THE STORY OF THE STORIES: The Chosen People and Its God, and (2) the final editor, or redactor, after the return from the Babylonian Exile in the 6th century BC, put all the books of The Old Testament into something like their present form.3

When this review appeared in1
The New York Times I had just
arrived in Australia’s Northern
Territory & the heat of summer
was just beginning to make me
run for cover to air-conditioning
in my office, my home & the cool
air of the car....The Old Testament
was on my universe’s far-periphery.

There it had always been in heat and
cold since those first stories when I
was in grade six in that little town in
Ontario’s Golden Horseshoe where
everyone I knew was Catholic or Jew
or Protestant, or nothing; yes, mostly
nothing and there they have remained
with that Old Testament far removed
from everyone’s everyday life. Still…

I have time now to try to get into it in
this the evening of my life; however
complex and abstruse it may be, I want
to make-up for the decades when it had
to remain far out on my life’s periphery.

1 Harold Bloom, “Prose and Poetry,” in The New York Times, 17 October, 1982: a review of Dan Jacobson’s THE STORY OF THE STORIES: The Chosen People and Its God.
3 See Frank Kermode, “God Speaks Through His Women,” in The New York Times, 23 September 1990: a review of Harold Bloom’s The Book of J.

Ron Price
5 July 2012
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  #2  
Old 06-07-2012, 08:22 AM
Yamah
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That is a wonderful realization, thank you for sharing.

The Original Testament is an amazing text filled with many great truths that have yet to be uncovered. In religious Jewish schools Tanach is actually only taught very sparingly, being taught to children with the commentaries of Rashi, then set aside in favor of Gemara (texts discussing Jewish Law and Philosophy). After the age of Bar Mitzvah most religious Jews, especially Chareidi, only learn Tanach once a week when it is read in public on Shabbat - and even then probably sleep through it or go over what they were learning in Gemara.

There was one sage, The Vilna Gaon (the genius of Vilna), who lived in the 18th century. Throughout his life he studied everything, both Jewish and Secular. He was a master of Gemara, Kabbalah, Mathematics, Astronomy and Geography. He learned from great masters and his students became great masters after he passed. In his old age he stopped writing and turned away all his students to focus on learning Tanach exclusively. Scribbling notes remain which were assembled into a commentary with elucidations by his son. The Jewish Community was shocked, and still is, by his decision to turn back to Tanach instead of Gemara, making excuses for him such as stating that he knew Gemara so well he could review all of Gemara within the original texts... but truly that is not the reason for him doing so. Tanach, especially in its original language of Hebrew, is such a deep and wonderful text with many subtle nuances that only age and wisdom can reveal (so I am told anyways... I believe I have a larger than average amount of wisdom but I don't yet have age).

I would highly recommend you look into some Jewish commentaries as you read the Torah. There are many passages that can be misunderstood or worse yet misapplied if not learned correctly (which, I'm sorry to say, christians love to do). The commentary of Rashi, as I mentioned, is the most traditional and basic - though it should be understood that although he mentions at the beginning that he is dealing with the literal interpretation a lot of his comments are drawing from the Midrash which is an allegorical interpretation and should in no way be taken literally. The commentaries of the Vilna Gaon would be on the opposite side of the spectrum - noting briefly certain depths and nuances that most cannot understand or appreciate.

And if you have any questions about any passages feel free to either post them on this forum or IM me directly. Though I am not always the most knowledgeable I have access to vast libraries and great rabbinic minds and would be more than happy to research any passage for you.
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  #3  
Old 06-07-2012, 02:15 PM
7luminaries 7luminaries is offline
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Hey now...I do actually read the parsha (weekly reading from the Tanakh) and the commentary on parsha when I go to services...and it never fails to bring a wealth of insight and spiritual light into my mind and heart...much of it having to do with the ethics of the day and of the ideals of honour, integrity and spiritual purity that they sought to live by. (Yes, I agree much of that insight is lost or unavailable without a proper contextual interpretation)

The tanakh documents some of our earliest struggles to evolve in spirit and consciousness at the individual level, to ground God within humanity and to elevate humanity within God. To know and commune and receive inspiration and guidance from the Divine.
To bring God/Spirit into our lives and to aspire to our higher selves in this world, in what we think and do and say here on earth.

There is a purity reflected in these texts, describing this direct connection between humankind and the Divine.
A connection which we are learning to inhabit and embody ever more.

Peace & blessings,
7L
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Bound by conventions, people tend to reach for what is easy.

Here we must be unafraid of what is difficult.

For all living beings in nature must unfold in their particular way

and become themselves despite all opposition.

-- Rainer Maria Rilke
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  #4  
Old 25-09-2012, 11:20 PM
Morpheus Morpheus is offline
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Location: The Matrix
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I was viewing last night a video made by a Jew who had an NDE.
Died and returned. He was secuar minded before, but after the experience, is a religious and practicing Jew.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=c0Ns3D6Tpfs
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"I believe there are two sides to the phenomena known as death. This side where we live, and the other side, where we shall continue to live.
Eternity does not start with death.
We are in eternity now." - Norman Vincent Peale

"There is no place in this new kind of physics for both the field and matter, for the field is the only reality." - A. Einstein
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  #5  
Old 28-12-2013, 09:29 AM
RonPrice
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After Nearly 3 Years....

After Nearly 3 Years....I return to this thread and see some of the comments. After all this time, I think I will leave this thread as it is. Life is busy even in retirement from a 50 year student and employment life, 1949 to 1999.-Ron Price, Australia
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