Rabbi Avi Weinstein

Archive for April 24th, 2009|Daily archive page

Hatikva in a faux Talmud Page

In Hatikva, Israel, Yehuda Amichai on April 24, 2009 at 6:55 pm

Hatikva is an anthem of yearning that like the Haggada is more concerned with the journey than the destination. Israel is a young country. This faux Talmud page tries to capture the old new land that inspires so much affection and provokes so much anger. Choni HaMa’agel, the rainmaker looks over to Yehuda Amichai as he drives through the Arava desert and notes:

Ein Yahav
A night drive to Ein
Yahav in the Arava
Desert,
a drive in the rain. Yes, in
the rain
There I met people who
grow date palms,
there I saw tamarisk
trees and risk trees,
there I saw hope barbed
as barbed wire.
And I said to myself:
That’s true, hope needs
to be like barbed wire to
keep out despair,
hope must be a mine
field.

For the whole Talmud Page click here

A.D. Gordon and Rav Kook Muse on the Importance of a Place

In Uncategorized on April 24, 2009 at 4:12 pm

And the place is Eretz Yisrael. Two mystics, one religious and one avowedly secular have more in common than one might think:

A. D. Gordon:
We are told that it is national sentiment that prevents the Jews from assimilating. But what is this national sentiment? What strange kind of nationality is ours, which is not alive but yet will not die? Wherein lies its strength? We have no country of our own, we have no living national language, but instead a number of vernaculars borrowed from others… What, then, is that elusive, unique, and persistent force that will not die and will not let us die?

It seems that every one of us can answer this question if he is really himself free of all foreign influences and if he is not ashamed to face the matter squarely and be honest with himself. That answer is that there is a primal force within every one of us, which is fighting for its own life, which seeks its own realization. This is our ethnic self, the cosmic element, which combined with the historic element, forms one of the basic ingredients of the personality of each and every one of us. The ethnic self may be described as a peculiar national pattern of mental and physical forces, which affects the personality of every individual member of the ethnic group. It is like the musical scale, which every composer uses in his own way.

Rav Kook:
DEEP IN THE HEART of every Jew, in its purest and holiest recesses, there blazes the fire of Israel. There can be no mistaking its demands for an organic and indivisible bond between life and all of God’s commandments; for the pouring of the spirit of the Lord, the spirit of Israel which completely permeates the soul of the Jew, into all the vessels which were created for this particular purpose; and for expressing the word of Israel fully and precisely in the realms of action and ideas.

Both in their own words and contexts express the unified notion that collective creativity is most vital when rooted in the Land of Israel. For a fuller exposition of these two thinkers, click here.

The Most Mistranslated of Mishnahs!

In Uncategorized on April 24, 2009 at 11:59 am

I have added a file on the famous statement of Hillel, that gives a plausible explanation for how the Mishnah has come to be the clarion call for Jewish communal institutions throughout the country. It is interesting that phrases like Tikkun Olam, and Hillel’s famous statement of balancing self interest with the needs of others are not necessarily reflective of what these phrases actually meant. Stay tuned for another “light unto the nations” (NOT exactly)