Sunday, June 04, 2006


Readings from Shavuos

Habakkuk, Ch. 3, the Ten Commandments and the standard festival readings from Deuteronomy and Numbers.

I am not sure if I am up to discussing Habakkuk now, but it is a fascinating short little book (why do we read from it on Shavuos? that might make an interesting discussion ...). What I will mention now are two things:

(1) Some of the 10 commandments are longer than the one sentance commandments people are used to seeing. In particular, the commandment about Sabbath observence, in the version in Deuteronomy, emphasizes our captivity in Mitzraim. Do those who are so keen to place the 10 commandments everywhere treat their employees properly? Do they give them adaquate vacation time, sick leave, etc? If not, then they are hardly observing the 10 commandments, nu? Also the two version of the 4th commandment link our memory of creation with keeping a rest to commemorate our liberation. Do those who are so keen on "Intelligent Design" remember God's rest as the final act of creation? Do they remember to liberate themselves and their employees through rest and relaxation? If not, then they fail to observe the 10 commandments.

(2) The festivals are intimately linked in Torah with the laws of release. Co-equal with ritual religious observance is release from debt (both from sins as debts to God and monetary debts between people) and liberation. Cf. Isaiah (?) on "is this the fast I seek?". Again, those who are so keen on instituting public, "Biblical" religious observances should ask whether they are really willing to do that -- since part and parcel of the Biblical system of public religiosity was the forgiveness of debts in the Sabbatical year and the proclaimation of liberty unto the land and its inhabitants in the Jubbilee (link to Shavuos, nu?) year. Public religious observance in a Biblical theocracy is vain (and hence violates one of the 10 commandments in as much as the name of the Lord would be invoked at such observances) without the observance of the laws of the Sabbatical and Jubbilee years. So why do so many of those who so claim to treasure the 10 commandments and "Old Testament" morality want to impliment it in a way in which they will cause us all to be guilty of violating it? Of course, such people are championing a morality they themselves feel is futile to observe anyway -- so what gives?

Maybe after thinking about certain peoples' mishugas enough, I'll be in the mood to right about Habbakuk?
I am sure if I think about neo-cons some, I might come to being on Habbakuk's side!

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