Monday, April 10, 2006

 

Shabbos HaGadol

The Haftarah from last Shabbos was from Malachi: continuing with the theme of Leviticus being not about regulating sex but regulating how you get to use your property (with the regulations on the use of your body being a metaphor for the more important regulations on property usage, zoning rights -- zoning rites? ;) , etc. -- I guess, in this way, Leviticus also supports the pro-choice position: it views one's body as one's own property no less or more than one's land), this Prophetic portion also emphasizes the role of wealth redistribution in the ideal theocracy it envisions for the Messianic age.

Interestingly, Shabbos HaGadol falls around tax time. Perhaps those so-called Christians who are a little too obsessed with keeping the gummint's hands off their money not only need to remember to "Render unto Caesar" but also remember that wealth redistribution is a divine command.

Of course as Garry Wills pointed out in Sunday's times, Jesus was actually pretty close to Nietzsche in many ways ... and ... well, I forgot the point I wanted to make here. Anyway -- read Wills' opinion piece. I am curious -- given that the Christian Bible

Well, one point I wanted to make on the subject of Malachi: much has been made of the Christian reorganization of the Hebrew Bible into the "Old Testament" with them ending it with Malachi rather than the Priestly/Official history of the Jewish State that are the books of Chronicles.

But why did the Rabbis end our Bible with Chronicles? It's almost Pythonesque: the Hebrew Bible is a warts and all account of the Jewish people from before we even existed to the time of the Persian empire, including the warts and all Prophetic/Deuteronomic account of the history of the Kingdoms of Judah and Israel in the books of Kings (which is the warts and all account in Judges? Prophetic, Deuteronomic??? Oddly the Deuteronomic account of the conquest of Israel in Joshua is a triumphalist propaganda piece -- or maybe not so oddly given the goal of ethnic preservation of the Deuteronomists -- compared with the account in Judges). Yet, at the end of it all, there is the whitewashed account given in Chronicles -- "move along, nothing to see here". What were the Rabbis doing in ending the Hebrew Bible with this, after already spilling the beans on what the "real" history was?

And why do the Christians end the Hebrew Bible with Malachi. True -- it does promise a Messianic age in which parents and children are reconciled. But this goes against what Jesus said about bringing strife between parents and children. I ask my Christian readership: what is Jesus saying then? Is he saying he's not Elijah (whom Malachi promises will promote the reconcilliation) but rather the Messiah -- or is he disagreeing with Malachi?

So many questions -- so little time to blog through them, to borrow a few phrases and mix them up.

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