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Author Topic: Ornery U: Judaism 101
Paladine
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Also, you said that Jews were supposed to be teachers for the rest of us. I don't really see that happening much (outside of here, of course), and I live in the midst of one of the world's biggest Orthodox communities. Is there any kind of form this instruction is supposed to take? Are non-Jews supposed to attend religious services (not sure what you call them) and learn about your religion, or just follow the rules laid out for us?

You had also mentioned that when a Jew isn't observant he hurts the entire world in that he takes it farther from God's will. Are you also hurt if we don't follow the rules established for us, or are you only "connected" in that way to other Jews?

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RickyB
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Pal - that she's been over before [Smile] Lesibanism is frowned upon by most Orthodox Jews, but there is no "abomination" and "kill whoever does such" verses like there is about putting one's willy in a man's behind or mouth (or letting it be put). So it's possible to construct a water-holding rationale where it's not an actual no-no, and therefore permissible.
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RickyB
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BTW - as I pointed out, the Jewish concept of the endtimes explicitly involves all humanity accepting the leadership of god and the temple. It's right there in Isaiah, and I believe Jeremiah echoes him.

I don't want to usurp Lisa's class, but if you bring this issue of proselytizing over to History of Judaism and we can discuss the actual history of it.

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Paladine
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Want to consider it over there? I'd certainly be very interested to hear your perspective too. And I think it's way cool that you guys are doing this. [Smile] Very interesting stuff.
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starLisa
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quote:
Originally posted by hobsen:
While I have never heard of any Jews practicing polygyny, and while there is undoubtedly a strong custom against it, the statement that it is illegal and against the law of the land has considerable wiggle room. In fact nobody has attempted to enforce such laws since the 1950s, except in connection with different crimes such as forced or underage marriages, and thousands of such marriages exist in the United States today. I am sure counterparts of the ingenious rabbis who justified King David could provide an argument that those laws had fallen into disuse, as with a lot of other statutes which are still on the books but no longer enforced. And they would in general be right: maybe that particular law still holds after only fifty years, but it is ridiculous to say laws which have not been enforced for three or four hundred years are still the law of the land. They may never have been repealed or challenged, but they cannot reasonably be called current legal practice.

Um, people have been tried and convicted for bigamy even in the past decade.
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starLisa
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quote:
Originally posted by Paladine:
Also, you said that Jews were supposed to be teachers for the rest of us. I don't really see that happening much (outside of here, of course), and I live in the midst of one of the world's biggest Orthodox communities. Is there any kind of form this instruction is supposed to take? Are non-Jews supposed to attend religious services (not sure what you call them) and learn about your religion, or just follow the rules laid out for us?

Getting our own house in order takes precedence over teaching others. Jews as the teachers of the world is the ultimate goal, but it's not really a current task.

quote:
Originally posted by Paladine:
You had also mentioned that when a Jew isn't observant he hurts the entire world in that he takes it farther from God's will. Are you also hurt if we don't follow the rules established for us, or are you only "connected" in that way to other Jews?

I would imagine that it's not just Jews. That non-Jews violating Noachide laws has the same deleterious effect on the world and on humanity.
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hobsen
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You are certainly right, starLisa, about convictions for bigamy. But I suspect those are cases prosecuted essentially as fraud, in that one wife did not know of the existence of the other. Certainly I should have mentioned such prosecutions, along with those for underage marriages and such. And there is a lot I do not know, so I shall certainly have a look for any prosecutions of freely consenting adults for bigamy. But as I recall my newspaper printed an article some years ago asserting there were 50,000 such families in California who were not being prosecuted - they particularly mentioned one man south of San Francisco with I think four wives and 46 children. The county was reluctant to prosecute because they were afraid all those children would end up on welfare; he was supporting them adequately at the time. And there are well-known Mormon splinter groups scattered all over the West which practice polygamy, plus allegedly a lot of members of the LDS Church who do so clandestinely. California also has an unrelated problem with polygamous immigrants from Asia who continue to live that way in the United States; some of these are being prosecuted for marriages of ten-year-olds and so forth, but not for bigamy in cases where all involved are adults.

In any case, this is a digression from the subject matter of Judaism.

[ February 29, 2008, 08:25 AM: Message edited by: hobsen ]

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hobsen
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Maimonides is supposed to have said that observance of the Noachide laws counts as righteousness only when a person not a Jew following these laws does so because he believes they were ordained by the God of the Jews. This would seem to have excluded at the time most of the world's population, who had never heard of Judaism, regardless of their practices. Is this accurate, or is the question too vague to be intelligible?
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starLisa
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quote:
Originally posted by hobsen:
Maimonides is supposed to have said that observance of the Noachide laws counts as righteousness only when a person not a Jew following these laws does so because he believes they were ordained by the God of the Jews. This would seem to have excluded at the time most of the world's population, who had never heard of Judaism, regardless of their practices. Is this accurate, or is the question too vague to be intelligible?

I could be mistaken, but I'm fairly sure that Rambam is talking there specifically about the status of ger toshav, which is a Noachide who is allowed to live in the land of Israel.
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RickyB
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Ah, a new rationale for not tolerating the foreigner [Smile] (not new, I know...)

Care to expound on yod-chet davar, Lisa?

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starLisa
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quote:
Originally posted by RickyB:
Ah, a new rationale for not tolerating the foreigner [Smile] (not new, I know...)

Care to expound on yod-chet davar, Lisa?

I don't understand any of this.
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RickyB
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I was quipping that what you said about the Rambam can be interpreted as a new excuse to be against the continued presence of the Arabs, as they may refrain from idolatry, but not out of deference to the "right god".

As for yod-chet davar - You really don't know? Shammay's anti-contact with outsiders rules?

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starLisa
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quote:
Originally posted by RickyB:
I was quipping that what you said about the Rambam can be interpreted as a new excuse to be against the continued presence of the Arabs, as they may refrain from idolatry, but not out of deference to the "right god".

It's hardly new, Ricky. You know I'm a Kachnik.

quote:
Originally posted by RickyB:
As for yod-chet davar - You really don't know? Shammay's anti-contact with outsiders rules?

Doesn't ring a bell.
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RickyB
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Series of 18 rules passed by the pupils of Shammay (probably right at the turn of the common era, right after Hillel died) severely limiting all possible contact with foreigners. They didn't invent it, and this guy, who mentions it, shows some of the prohibitions go back to the 2nd century BCE in some form or effect.

However, the yod-chet davar were a major factor in fostering an attitude that reduced the ability of many Jews to get along with other populations, and the sages seem to recognize it. After all, the great revolt didn't happen cause we couldn't stand the Romans anymore - it happened cause we and the hellenic gentiles couldn't get along anymore.

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Pete at Home
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quote:
plus allegedly a lot of members of the LDS Church who do so clandestinely
Those sorts of "allegations" come from the same sects that until 35 years ago used to tell their congregations that mormons had horns.

To my knowledge I have never met an LDS plig in my entire life. I have not met but know of one (and only one) guy that's lived within a congregation that I lived in, who did take a plig wife on the sly, and the church found out about it and excommunicated him immediately.

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hobsen
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quote:
the church found out about it and excommunicated him immediately.
No argument on that, at least if the LDS Church excommunicates people. Anyway, he was out.

No, the allegations I have heard came from persons claiming to be practicing polygamists or members of sects permitting polygamy, and mostly from Internet sites. Plus a bit of confirmation from a Mormon friend - not a polygamist - on the faculty of a college in Utah. They say the LDS Church publicly denounces polygamy, but local leaders often wink at it in private. And that they know of many LDS members who share the practice, passing off a second wife as a sister or whatever. My guess would be that these overestimate the prevalence, as an LDS polygamist would be more likely to talk candidly with someone he knew to be himself in a plural marriage, but they do know some. And that the frequency probably varies enormously in different areas, so unless someone had travelled all over, he could really not say much. I certainly do not know myself. But the allegations were not from those condemning Mormon beliefs in general, or expressing more than mild annoyance at the LDS Church condemning so loudly something often practiced by its own members.

As an afterthought, if I were an LDS polygamist, I would sure not talk to you about it.

[ February 29, 2008, 12:53 PM: Message edited by: hobsen ]

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Pete at Home
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quote:
They say the LDS Church publicly denounces polygamy, but local leaders often wink at it in private.
I suspect that your friends are lying, or repeating a rumor that they've heard. There's an inconsistency here, hobsen. If they are exing the people that get caught doing it, then how could they be "winking" at it?

quote:
And that they know of many LDS members who share the practice, passing off a second wife as a sister or whatever.
I doubt that they know "many" such folks. I've never heard of anyone other than Abraham doing that, but on reflection that would be a good way of carrying off the plig lifestyle in plain sight without getting caught. And if the leaders don't know about it, they can't ex anyone.

Even back in the days that the church practiced plural marriage, to plig on the sly, without knowledge of the church, would have been excommunicable. It was a very different practice than the modern pligs. I had two female ancestors who were in plural marriages, but no male plig ancestors. The reason for that is simple -- they were widows with children (my ancestors) *before* they became plural wives. That's not how it always worked, but that's how it usually worked. In the harsh frontier day that was simply the best way of seeing that widows and orphans were provided for.

But we're really getting off the topic here ...

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starLisa
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quote:
Originally posted by RickyB:
Series of 18 rules passed by the pupils of Shammay (probably right at the turn of the common era, right after Hillel died) severely limiting all possible contact with foreigners. They didn't invent it, and this guy, who mentions it, shows some of the prohibitions go back to the 2nd century BCE in some form or effect.

However, the yod-chet davar were a major factor in fostering an attitude that reduced the ability of many Jews to get along with other populations, and the sages seem to recognize it. After all, the great revolt didn't happen cause we couldn't stand the Romans anymore - it happened cause we and the hellenic gentiles couldn't get along anymore.

Um... it happened because they were occupying our land. For someone who has so much sympathy for the poor Palestinians, you don't seem to be willing to cut our own people as much slack.
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RickyB
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"Um... it happened because they were occupying our land. For someone who has so much sympathy for the poor Palestinians, you don't seem to be willing to cut our own people as much slack."

I understand fully. However, reality was such that we had to get along, and those rules made the people who took them to heart far less capable of doing so. As for "occupying" - It took more than 400 years for Jews to become anything near a majority in the land, following the return from Babylon.

I have sympathy for the poor Palestinians. Doesn't stop me from thinking that their "no compromise, no coexistence" attitude was stupid and self destructive, or that those Palestinians who espouse and disseminate such attitudes are as culpable in the misery of their people as anyone else.

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RickyB
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BTW - the Hellenic gentiles were an incited, ignorant murderous mob, more often than not. Just wanted to mention that.
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hobsen
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So what did cause the Great Revolt? My guess would be that Rome was demanding ever more money from its possessions, and the later Emperors were demanding to be worshipped as gods. In addition the Jews had the very dangerous tradition that the Maccabees had successfully revolted and established their own kingdom, allegedly with lots of help from God; and the rebels did not anticipate the Romans would prove much tougher, and God would not help enough. Anyway the Great Revolt and the Bar-Kokhba Revolt demonstrated the impossibility of a new Jewish kingdom at the time, although I believe substantial numbers of Jews remained in the general area at least until the Muslims swept over everything nearby.
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RickyB
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Nope. I'll get into it tonight.
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hobsen
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[Smile]
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RickyB
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Answered you here
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Jesse
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Hey, Lisa?

I was wondering, no offense intended, how literally the Orthodox read Genesis.

Do you believe that there was a world wide flood which reshaped the earth? That folks used to live for hundreds of years?

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starLisa
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Orthodox Judaism holds that yes, there was a world wide flood, and yes, those ages in Genesis are correct. There are a relatively small number of Orthodox Jews who make attempts every now and then to read the flood as though it were local, but it never lasts, because it just doesn't stand up.

As far as the age of the earth is concerned (you didn't ask, but I thought I'd toss it in), there are some who hold that it is 5768 years old. Others say that we don't know how long each "day" of creation was. There was a rabbi in the middle ages who calculated the age of the universe at about 15.4 billion years.

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mdgann
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Always anxious to hear the definition of a "Jew". And the difference between a Jew and an Israelite? Are any of the other tribes of Jacob recognized as having a place in todays "Jewish" religion? Are all others disinherited except Judah? Love the discussion so far. Thanks
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RickyB
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Israelite is a correct way to refer to a person of the Hebrew nation after (ed to correct: the death of Jacob) but before say the Persian era.

In later 2nd temple times, when distinguishing between residents of central current day Israel and Northerners, it is customary to use "Judean" (as opposed to Galilean). Romans often failed to make this distinction and called all of us Judeans, because the center was arund Jerusalem, in Judea.

So, when referring to a resident of the biblical Kingdom of Judah, I try to use Judahite, but it sounds awful [Smile]

[ March 06, 2008, 04:52 PM: Message edited by: RickyB ]

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RickyB
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What do you believe, Lisa? About the age? [Smile]
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starLisa
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quote:
Originally posted by RickyB:
Israelite is a correct way to refer to a person of the Hebrew nation after (ed to correct: the death of Jacob) but before say the Persian era.

In later 2nd temple times, when distinguishing between residents of central current day Israel and Northerners, it is customary to use "Judean" (as opposed to Galilean). Romans often failed to make this distinction and called all of us Judeans, because the center was arund Jerusalem, in Judea.

So, when referring to a resident of the biblical Kingdom of Judah, I try to use Judahite, but it sounds awful [Smile]

I do that as well, but you're right about how it sounds. Still, it's the main way to distinguish between people from the kingdom of Judah before the Babylonian destruction and people from the province of Judea after it. Even though in Hebrew, as you know, there's no distinction between Judahite, Judean and Jew. Same thing with Israelite and Israeli.

But a Jew is not necessarily a member of the tribe of Judah. Converts have no tribe, but they're Jews as well. I might be from the tribe of Issachar, for all I know. In the book of Esther, Mordechai, who is of the tribe of Benjamin, is called a Jew. It's generic for all of our people.

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starLisa
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quote:
Originally posted by RickyB:
What do you believe, Lisa? About the age? [Smile]

The world is definitely 5768-ish years old. It's also, probably, several billion years old. All depends on how you look at it.
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RickyB
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Nice equivocation. Homo Sapiens. How old? [Smile]
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RickyB
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"In the book of Esther, Mordechai, who is of the tribe of Benjamin, is called a Jew. It's generic for all of our people."

Yah, that's the earliest peg on the moniker as applies to the entire nation, regarldess of geography.

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by RickyB:
Nice equivocation.

That's not an equivocation. In fact, that's the exact opposite of an equivocation -- she made a highly articulate distinction that sheds light on the discussion rather than obfuscating.
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Pete at Home
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How old is America, Ricky? [Big Grin] How old is Israel? Judaism? All depends on how you look at it.
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RickyB
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Sorry, but it doesn't work. I've yet to see anything in scientific finding that could indicate anything "first" about anywhere around 6K years ago. Not for the physical world. Civilization? Sure. Works fine for that. [Smile] Even though there were... human societies much before that too.

Does one, or does one not, accept that there were human beings, homo sapiens, with whom you Lisa and I could produce fertile offspring, who made tools and had language, far longer ago than 6 thousand years?

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RickyB
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"How old is America, Ricky? [Big Grin] How old is Israel? Judaism? All depends on how you look at it."

Sure [Smile] But that's irrelevant for the mindset I'm specifically talking about here. A literal reading of the bible can get away with the days of creation, but it's still 6 thousand years give or take since then (catholics count a little differently and place creation at 4002 BCE, from what I gather). Meaning that you can't have homo sapiens in 8,000 BCE, let alone 40,000 BCE, when man is supposed to have reached Australia.

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Pete at Home
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Hmm. Not speaking from my own beliefs here, but just thinking about possibilities ...

Are all homo sapiens in history the descendants of Adam? Or only those living on earth today? Could there have once been a homo sapiens creature without a human spirit? I see no reason why a spirit would be locked to genetics.

There is after all that curious statement about the sons of God marrying the daughters of men ... is that part any more clear in Hebrew?

God created man from the dust of the earth, but we don't know how many intermediate stages there were.

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Pete at Home
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Is there any biblical evidence that the clock starts ticking on 5768 years at the time of the creation, as opposed to after Adam and Eve took the fruit and fell?

Is there any scriptural reason that they could not have lived in the Garden of Eden for thousands of years?

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starLisa
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quote:
Originally posted by RickyB:
Nice equivocation. Homo Sapiens. How old? [Smile]

Homo Sapiens. It'll be 5767 years at sundown on Sunday, September 28, 2008.

And maybe longer, too.

And no, I'm not equivocating.

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