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April 11th, 2005


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03:19 pm - Your daddy is who?

I remember walking on the boardwalk with hoppie looking for a place to cross-over to the beach. I don't knwo where he wanted to go, but on the other side of a short bridge just to our left, was a ramp down to the beach.
The next thing I remember, I was in a craft store, or a Hallmark store or something looking for materials for this set of gifts I was making. I was looking at a set of paper slot gift cards which I was thinking were amazingly cute. There were two different varieties. One was called "Wheel of Fortune" and the other was just called "Slot Machine". I was on the fence about getting them, because while they were adorable, they were expensive and I needed a bunch. While I was thinking about, I saw a container on top of display stand holding a set of long-handled cocktail umbrellas, that were pretty and decorated enough to be called long-handled cocktail parasols. I started to take enough for my presents, making sure I had at least one of every color when this group of women in traditional Islamic garb clustered around them. They were no longer the parasols now they were pipe-cleaner women garbed in brightly colored robes and veils in mostly solid colors. I exchanged some of the ones I held for the prettier ones. I listened to them talk about how the pipe-cleaner women were the ensorcelled (yes, that's the word they used, "ensorcelled") princess and her court. I was pretty sure I knew which one was the princess, and it was one of the ones I held, a purple pipecleaner women, wearing a blue dress with gold trim.
I quickly moved to the register, unsure how I would get them restored to themselves, but sure I would find a way. A man accosted me at the register as I took the bag of dolls from the cashier and said, "You can't touch them!" He called over a guard who tried to take them from me, but he couldn't. I completed my purchase and the guard yelled at the man saying that he should have known better to say things like that with so much magic in the air. Now no one could touch the bag or the contents unless I let go. (which I had no intention of doing until I knew they'd be safe.)
I walked out of the mall and out one of the backdoors. I was singing a soothing song to the girls, not knowing if they could hear me, but wanting them to know I would do what I can to help them, when the guard caught up with me. To make my position a little more clear, I switched to singing a hebrew love song to them. I was surprised when he sang an Arabic version of the same song along with me. I looked more closely at him. He was very handsome, strong and commanding. I felt a little fluttery, but assured myself that he had no interest in me, just the princess, and I still wasn't sure what that interest was.
He led me past a courtyard where some of my friends were taught by someone I didn't recognize. He led me out into the desert and to a settlement made of stone rising 3 stories. We walked up to the porch level, and there were my friends again still sitting there learning. I couldn't figure out how they be in both places at once. I went over to them, and told them I'd thought I'd seen them back at school in town. Then I recognized the teacher as my friend's husband "David" (Not his name in real life). "David" and I exchanged light-hearted and probably slightly flirtatious greetings, as is our wont and I continued.
My guard was furious and asked me what I meant by making such a public spectacle of myself, throwing myself so shamelessly at the teacher, and behaving with such an appalling lack of decency and decorum.
I explained angrily that David and I are old friends, I wasn't shamelessly flirting with a stranger or a teacher, I was teasing a friend, who by the way, was married to my best friend, and I did absolutely nothing to be embarassed by.
Then I make a demand against the magic that I not be killed or compelled to give up the dolls without being assured of their safety or mine. I didn't know if it would work, but the guard and I ascended up a level and entered a large room. I took a seat off to the side. There were some of the people from the shop there, and the King was there. One of the women who'd been at the shop seemed relieved to see me. She looked like one of my coworkers, although she wasn't. She told me she'd tried to catch me to explain that they were coming to save the princess, not do anything worse, and she'd been scared when I ran off.
The began disenchanting the pipeclearner women I didn't have. The first one was a maid of the princess. When she was restored, she was dressed appropriately, but there was no hair on her head.
The second woman was wearing a thong, but her father was "ponched" (rich) so it was okay.
The next restored doll was "the grey man and his steed Arabella" who I "recognized" from the literary effort The Horse and his Boy (although in real life, those characters do not exist in that story).
The last person I saw restored before I woke up was Lord Q(something, Quincy, maybe or Quentin) Pellinor. I saw a scroll out of the corner of my eyes, which I was couldn't help reading. It was written in fancy scrolllike text and it was the cover story for why Lord Pellinore went missing from The Once and Future King for a couple of chapters, because he was stuck in the shop as a pipecleaner doll.
And then I woke up.


Haggadah class VIII - Baruch Shomer (Blessed are you…who keeps His promises)

So far we've had: Talmudic discourse: 1st day vs. 15th day. Then last week's paragraph: forefathers were idolaters, and then he brought the Jews down to Egypt, and now: Baruch shomer: (G-d keeps his promises)
Is this about keeping the promise to bring them down to Egypt?
Why are we thanking G-d for bringing us to Egypt? Do we really feel that was important or necessary? Wouldn't we have been even happier if He hadn't kept his promise?
The paragraph in our Haggadah reads Blessed is G-d who [..] calculated the end of the Exile.
But other Haggadahs (such as the RAMBAM's) read differently following different commentaries.
Those Haggadahs have "calculated" in the present tense, alluding to the final redemption.
Simple language is past history. In normal structural design, this is a logical construction.
The RAMBAM uses the present tense to indicate that G-d will keep his promise in the future because he is calculating how to redeem the Jews in the present.
Why does the RAMBAM go away from the common to change the discussion?

Another issue: Rashi and his grandson bring Shlomo Yischaki's comment - "We have to bless G-d when our forefathers descended into Egypt because, just like you say thank you when he does something good, you're obligated to say thank you when bad happens too." We appreciate and understand G-d in good moments and even when the moment doesn't seem so good. The first thing the mourner in loss is praise G-d. The faith in G-d has to be based on the premise that G-d still exists regardless of what the circumstances around you.

Rashi's grandson differs with this opinion, saying: it's not a conclusion to the previous paragraph, it's the beginning to the next paragraph, and we're blessing G-d for redeeming us. This is the introduction to redemption "The fact that G-d pledged to Abraham to redeem you". Rashi's grandson doesn't want to talk about the thank you having to do with the negativity of going to Egypt. Should we praise G-d in a state of negativity?

The Abarbinel (Spain) says We thank G-d for having multiplied Abraham's descendants and blessing Israel and not Abraham's other offspring.

Shibolei Haleket quotes the Rashi, thanking G-d amidst misfortune.

The paragraph ends with the quote from Genesis about becoming strangers, and going out with great wealth.
Was it important that they came out wealthy?
It's not important to redeemed out of a hell "wealthy." The redemption itself is enough for the enslaved. People in the Holocaust didn't care if they went out with great wealth, as long as they got out with their lives.
So first we have 400 years of slavery after which they go out wealthy, is that a good deal?
Talmud (Sanhedrin) says: The Egyptians came down to the Roman empire and demanded reparation for the gold and silver that the Jews took from Egypt and never returned. The language is such that they "borrowed" the wealth of the land. [They were rebuffed by a request for the wages of a nation for 400 years.]
The wealth that the Jews took out of Egypt, despite being promised by G-d to Abraham came back to haunt us.
Not just in Roman time as mentioned, but also the Talmud says in Pesachim - explaining the Babylonian exile: that three things returned to their original source: Israel (where Abraham was from), the wealth of Egypt (And in the 5th year of the Rechavam, that Shishak, king of Egypt ascended against Jerusalem - to reclaim the wealth) and the writing of the tablets.

Talmud in Sotah says - about Joseph being removed from Egypt. Moshe occupied himself with Joseph's body on his way out of Egypt. He took time off from his leading the people to get Joseph and redeem the promise the Jewish people had made.
The language of Egypt is that while the Jews were occupied with gathering the wealth of Egypt, Moshe was involved with Mitzvot, he was occupied with gathering up Joseph.
But the wealth of Egypt the Jews were gathering was also G-d's desire. Why isn't the gathering of the wealth a Mitzvah since G-d promised the Jews would leave wealthy? G-d invested a miracle to help Moshe get Joseph's body. Moshe desired so much to fulfill Joseph's will, G-d helped him. There would have been no Halachic problem leaving him there, because he wasn't worshiped by the Egyptians since no one knew exactly where his body was resting.

Midrash Rabbah on King Solomon reads "We will make thee circlets of gold" adorned "with studs of silver". "Circlets of Gold" signifies the spoil of the Red sea and "studs of silver" signifies the spoil of Egypt." The wealth G-d gave them at the Red Sea far outstripped the paltry sums they picked up in Egypt, so they shouldn't have been concerned with gathering from Egypt, when G-d had greater wealth planned. And they could have avoided later conflicts over stripping the wealth of Egypt.

However, the Talmud in Berachos - says that G-d says to Moshe speak please to the Jewish people and say let each man request of his fellow and each woman from her fellow, his silver and gold.
This was so Abraham wouldn't have any complaints about leaving without wealth. When Moshe came to the Jews, they wanted to go out, they didn't care about the money. For example, a person who is in prison - "tomorrow they will release him and give him money." And the prisoner says, "Take me out today, I don't want the money."
And Moshe begged the Jews to collect the wealth.

In order for the story to be complete, the Jews must have the wealth, regardless of the individual needs of the moment; therefore G-d requests of the Jews that they get the wealth of Egypt to fulfill his promise, even if it means delaying their desire for freedom.

Can we throw light onto a dark moment, by looking at the bigger picture? Because the completion needs to done a certain way, there's a certain delayed gratification, even though you're stuck in a dark moment, it will ultimately bring out good.
The Jews didn't want to collect, they had no attachment to the act of collecting. There wasn't even the ultimate prize in the collecting they did, since they get higher value from the Red Sea.
What does wealth have to do with the greater destiny? What great good is served by depleting Egypt? You have to buy into the destiny and see the bigger picture. Spend another 3 days in Egypt for the sake of Abraham and the fulfillment of prophesy.

Midrash Rabbah says: And also the nation, who you will serve, I shall judge. Instead of "that nation" Why? Because this Exile represents multiple exiles; the great four Exiles. In this Exile, is the reality of all the exiles of the Jews. The reality is the enslavement and redemption of the Jews is history; and what the Jews accomplished in Egypt is what gives them the strength and energy to struggle through the other exiles that they suffer.

The Rebbe (Menachem Mendel Schneerson): says: the acquisition of the wealth of Egypt was one of the purposes of dwelling in Egypt.
By taking the wealth of Egypt and using it in service of G-d, they elevated the land in which they were exiled. Using material substances and elevating them is the purpose of the exile; releasing the holiness in the mundane into the world.
The Jews are invested with the power to glean the good in each of their environments. And that is the great wealth they leave Egypt with. This becomes the floor-plan or blue-print of how the Jews will survive every exile, and that's the purpose of every exile.

So returning to our original question, are we talking about the history of the Jews in Egypt, or all history?

The ultimate goal of Judaism is to go through all these exiles and return with elevated spirituality.
We are grateful for the blessing that allows us to go into Diaspora and reveal G-d's holiness, and ultimately bring about the coming of the Moshiach.


4/3/05 - Haggadah class IX "And G-d took us out of Egypt not by means of an emissary, not by means of Seraph, nor by means of agent…"
Next Sunday will be the last class.

"And Hashem took us out of Egypt with a strong hand..."
For the first time in this series, we will follow a Talmudic discussion of the verse: How does a verse breakdown in the Talmudic mind?
First we have Exodus the live, original coverage of the event.
Then there is the account in Deuteronomy, the synopsis and recap of Moshe with some of his comments.
The Rabbis try to align the two events: An example of there they don't coincide, just to bring a familiar example in before we delve deeper is when talking in the 10 commands about the Shabbat; Exodus uses the word "zachor" remember (which is a command to do something) and in the recap Moshe uses the word "shamor" protect (which is a command to refrain from doing the wrong thing. Don't violate.) Are we proactive, doing something for the Shabbat, or do we just guard ourselves to avoid doing the wrong thing.
The sages mix in Deut with Ex. and come out with a combination of both accounts, as if they were said in one breath.
So we're looking at the phrase "Not by means of angel, seraph…" etc.
First the Rabbi's site the verse in Deut. that says, when G-d took us out, he didn't use an agent based on Moshe's "G-d took us out…" language.
Then it supports that with the verse in Exodus, "I will pass through..." etc.
The Rabbis start out with the verse in Deut. and reinforce it with Exodus. But the two verses aren't talking about the same thing. They don't cover the same topic: The first verse talks about leaving Egypt, and the second one talks about what G-d does to Egyptians on that last night.
Is this a statement that the plagues and Exodus had the same truths even though they are different concepts and events?
Why do the Rabbis align these two separate incidents and relate them together as if they corroborate each other.
When we talk about G-d's bodily parts, traditionally we refer to a specific expression of G-d. (left hand is chessed (kindness). Right is gevurah (severity), etc.)
The verse in Exodus speaks in personal language. It establishes the point, that G-d acted, but the verse in Deut, could actually be referring to an agent of G-d that He sent out.
The RAMBAM's haggadah cuts out the Deut. verse only quoting the first three words "G-d brought out of Egypt"...it was the Holy One, blessed be He; He himself, in honor.
Why? Let's back up and look at the whole picture using language elsewhere in the Torah.
In the Torah, where the Shema prayer comes from, the line "Shema Yisrael..."(Hear o' Israel, the L-rd is our G-d. The L-rd is one.) is "followed immediately by the "v'ahavta".(love) statements. This shows that internalizing the concept of G-d's oneness in the Shema brings you immediately to loving G-d. Why, then, in the prayers, do we break it up "Baruch kivodo".
Because the Rabbis say that unity that leads to love transcends the ability of humanity to comprehend or experience. It's impossible to achieve. Gulled by the illusion that there is something other than G-d, like self, it's beyond the ability of Humans to comprehend that everything is just G-d. Adding the "blessing G-d's honor" allows us to view a picture of G-d we can relate to. Like we relate to a judge with the phrase "Your honor" we relate to "his honor" as the position, not the person. We don't have an intimate relationship with the judge, we only understand his public persona. The unity we can relate to is how G-d has divested himself into creation. The essence of G-d in his oneness is beyond our comprehension.
The word "Kavod" (honour) reflects an identity of G-d, rather than the essence. Our Haggadah, using the word "b'atzmo" relates to the essence of G-d, looking for the source.
This quotes the verse of Exodus, but he doesn't break it down to show that it's nothing but the essential G-d.

The verse after the one we're looking at in Exodus: talks about placing the blood on the doorposts. If there is no one else doing the work, why mark the doors? G-d can't make a mistake, but maybe an agent could. If the first born son of Egypt dies unnaturally and it won't happen to the Jews, why do we have to worry about these forces of destruction, with G-d acting alone? If there were released forces, angels to carry out G-d's will, maybe they would need some type of control in place, like the blood, to provide them direction, but if it's G-d alone, it's not necessary.
This shows why RAMBAM is a bit uncomfortable with this explanation.
In Numbers, 20-15: ...and he sent an emissary (v'yishlach malach) to take us out of Egypt.
Some commentaries say the emissary was Moshe. But, if we're talking about G-d not using an emissary, that precludes that. Also Moshe is never referred to as an angel (malach) anywhere else.

In 2nd Kings 19:35 it says, "the angel of the L-rd went forth, and smote..."

Rabbeinu Bachaya (100 years after…) quotes Nachmanides (Nachmanides left Spain and wrote in Israel during the inquisition period.) on verse 12: G-d is expressing supremacy - This decision is made and there is no countermanding it, and this is what it means by saying "I myself…"There will be no external interference.
Rabbeinu Bachaya goes on to modify that slightly, saying that had G-d any assistance, the plague would have occurred with an intensified aspect of justice, and Jews would not have been spared, since they might not have been judged worthy. (like Kai in Stan's judgment).
This is why G-d had no option but to do it Himself. The Shechina carried out the judgment (with a combination of mercy and justice).

(Avram) Iben Ezrah says, talking about the verse "I will go through the land," G-d's might and power went through the land, so it's as if G-d Himself went through the land. (Effectively siding with the RAMBAM).
The use of G-d's name here is to define the mindset of G-d in action.

Vilna Gaon addresses this problem in yet another place in Exodus 12:23 "He will not allow the Destroyer to enter your houses to smite." This implies the existence of a second force, the Destroyer. He answers by saying that the plague was delivered by G-d, Himself, but G-d did not allow the angel of death (destroyer) to kill anyone that night so the Egyptians couldn't say "they are dying just like us."
Estimating approximately 35 million Jews in Egypt, figure about 14,000 could have died of various natural deaths. So the issue that the Haggadah is addressing is less that G-d is smiting personally, and more the unnatural quality of the deaths on that night, by showing that the natural order of death was suspended.

R. Meir Shaperio (Who pioneered the Daf Yomi program, and 100 years ago built a great yeshiva in Lublin, that the Germans liked so much, they used it for their HQ) wrote a commentary on the Haggadah - and he brings the Midrashic commentary on the verse, "The water turned red, and then all the other drinking liquids turned red." The Midrash said this is because G-d first smites the gods of Egypt and then Egypt itself, and this is to make them afraid. The account in Deuteronomy has the same premise.
On a spiritual level, G-d is the only one who can handle the problem. The physical level can be left to agents. R. Meir's commentary is that, any spiritual attack on the Egyptian gods was handled directly by G-d, and the physical smiting could easily be handled by agents.

Sefer hachinuk (book of education - author unknown) took each Parsha and isolated the mitzvahs on each Parsha discussed. About Parshat Bechukothai, he comments on the vow that results in you bringing a pledge to the temple which goes to the Kohains, saying: the Jews are directly under the rule of G-d without any intermediary angels or constellation (astrology) and you see that G-d handles the Jewish business himself, as we read in the Passover Haggadah.

Going back to a previous class, where we talked about how before Abraham, the people honored the laws of nature and how that transformed into worshipping nature, but the principle of what they did wasn't wrong. G-d says to the Jews, that even though we're part of the natural and should be subject to the natural laws, we're not, because G-d removed us from the laws of nature to be his people. And therefore angels, constellations and the other natural ruling forces in the universe don't hold sway over us.
Our obligation is to represent G-dliness beyond the normal laws of morality and ethics that the other nations have.

The RAMBAM's interpretation directly challenges the Haggadah interpretation. There is no way to resolve this debate quickly. We're going to put it aside and move on to a mystical approach.

The Alte Rebbe in Likutai Amarim (Tanya) quotes the Hagaddah, and then brings a different verse from Torah to talk about. The initial discussion follows G-d giving the Torah to the Jew. "G-d forsakes the higher and lover creatures and chose none of them, but the Jewish people, and he brought them out of Egypt, a place of filth and impurity, not with angel or a seraph, but only H'KBH with his glory and Himself, descended into Egypt to bring them out as it is says "I have come down to deliver them" this verse cited is from Numbers.
Why does he bring a different verse to justify his position?
The Alte Rebbe, points out that in order to bring him near to Him, G-d descended to achieve true closeness.

G-d created the world and the phasing of how infinity translates into finite at 4 levels. We live in the finite world of action (Asiah). The world of Yitzira (thought) is the 3rd world, the second world is Briyah, (creation- that's where G-d says let there be light); and the highest word is Atzilut the world of emanation, where everything is the oneness of G-d, it has no independence. How far can a person in a conscience state reach? Between ideas and action, we can reach Yitzira.
In the world of Atzilut, our souls would have no sense of separation from G-d.

Although some souls can achieve Atzilut or Breyiah; these are unique instances which their entire perception is difference.

The Vilna Gaon says in his commentary on the verse in Exodus: "Not by means of a Sheliach, or a Malach" Sheliach is the human being Moshe, and when the verse says it will not do it through an emissary, this refers to the world of action), and when it says, not by an angel, it refers to the world of thought, and when it says not by means of Seraph it refers to the world of creation. The essential part of redemption does not come from any of these worlds. None of the elements of contraction could redeem the Jews. The mechanism of how the word is established could not bring forth redemption. The method of taking the Jews out could not be done by the world in its natural order, at any level.

Therefore an angel trying to redeem the Jews, for example, would have been destroyed. It would have been beyond its powers. Only the unlimitedness of G-d could have accomplished the exodus.
The Rebbe (MMS l'z) says that the forces of evil present in Egypt were so powerful that an angel attempting to redeem the Jews would have been destroyed.

The Alte Rebbe says The Haggadah when it talks about G-d needing to redeem them is because of the evil surrounding them. The evil was at such a level there was no way even for a spiritual truth to redeem them. The Evilness of Egypt didn't allow spiritual truth to take hold of the Jews in Egypt.

The story of the Haggadah is focused on the evil of Egypt. The oneness and closeness to G-d has nothing to do with the Hagaddah and, that's why he's using a different supporting verse, the one from Numbers.

The Haggadah is struggling with the depth of evil concept. The Haggadah says that yes, that the evil can reach so far that only G-d can redeem us. Taking them from the depth of Egypt required G-d to personally uplift them.

The RAMBAM isn't sure he believes that evil has such force that the only way out is for G-d to redeem us. He isn't comfortable believing that the evilness can reach so close to G-d that only G-d can countermand it. For example, during the Holocaust, there was an expression of goodness in the natural world that overtook the NAZIs and overthrew them.

This then is the essence of their disagreement. To what degree do you believe that evil takes over from truths?

RED SOX! RED SOX! RED SOX!!
SQUEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Ring ceremony, beautiful.
Touching.
Wow.
Wakefield: First pitch, first out. This is how we do it.
Current Mood: dreamy
Current Music: 10cc - The Things We Do For Love

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Comments:


[User Picture]
From:thecomedian
Date:April 13th, 2005 09:49 pm (UTC)
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Jewish?

Friended you back.
[User Picture]
From:mdyesowitch
Date:April 14th, 2005 02:59 pm (UTC)
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And a democrat.
-m
[User Picture]
From:thecomedian
Date:April 14th, 2005 03:08 pm (UTC)
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Even better.

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