Bits and Pieces: Jewish Studies


So as part of my journey towards Judaism, I’m attending these “Judaism by Choice” classes conducted by a very cool ultra hip L.A. based Rabbi and the most recent class centered around Biblical Studies.  This particular class was a bit of an overview (historical and overall) of the Tanakh, which is the Torah (Five Books of Moses), Nevi’im (The Prohopets) and Kethuvim (The Writings) combined.


Pic of Tanakh. It’s a Hebrew-English version, so it goes  from right to left. 

So here’s what I learned…or rather the tidbits that I found to be the most interesting or just my misguided interpretation of things:

*The word for God in Hebrew is ELOHIM

* I’m much more suited to Judaism because it allows you to challenge God, in fact it’s encouraged. Some religions expect you to be submissive to God, others expect you to operate on blind faith…or delusion (depending on how far removed you become from logic as a result), but Judaism is all about your “wrestle with God.” Yisrael actually means “one who wrestles (struggles) with God.”

* There was some dude named Potiphat who has one hell of a crazy story. He became a dream interpreter after being locked in a dungeon for not having an affair with Joseph’s wife. She set him up because she was that obsessed with having sexual relations with him and he refused because he was loyal to Joseph (I think they worked together or something, so it’d kind of be like sleeping with your boss’s wife). Anyway, she was that cray that when he wouldn’t sleep with her, she just lied about it and the poor guy ended up in a dungeon. I think her name was Rachel, but I could be wrong cause I kind of got lost in the field of names and all the mixed marriages that occurred. I mean, I can’t even keep up with my own life, if ya know what I mean. But whoever Joseph’s wife was, was a bit of a hussy manipulator.

* Here’s an interesting one for the Christians: There are no records of Jesus outside the New Testament. Like there were Roman records and other records kept…and he’s nowhere to be found, but maybe Jesus just wasn’t that famous back then. Who knows?

* There are mistranslations in the Bible, for instance with the parting of the Red Sea. Firstly, it wasn’t the Red Sea, it was the Sea of Reeds (Gulf of Suez). Secondly, the whole parting miracle may not have happened. Like the Israelites crossed during the Low Tide and by the time the Egyptians came around, the High Tide set in, so they drowned as a result of nature…as opposed to magic. Also, in regards to the 10 commandments, the “do not kill” one, is supposed to be “do not murder,” because killing is permitted if it’s an act of self defense…or war, I suppose. I’m not into war, but George Bush was…and he was also very Christian…so it’s all contradictory.

* Abortion is not taboo in Judaism. In Judaism life does not begin until the baby has come through the mother’s womb. A fetus is just a fetus.

* Here’s a random one: Saul went through great bouts of depression and the only way to soothe him was through music. See, it’s not just you…or me.

* Judaism has very strong female figures like Sarah, Rebecca. I’m not motivated enough to write out their backstories, but if you’re interested then  I suggest Wikipedia it.

* The Adam and Eve story. She did not eat an apple. Apparently, it was a fig from a fig tree. And Genesis, otherwise first 11 chapters — it’s all myth. Fiction, not fact. Metaphor, not reality.

* Torah means “to shoot” derived from archery. The association is that it’s a book of direction and guidance on how to live a fuller more meaningful life.

* Oh, this is from a different class, but Judaism doesn’t put any emphasis on the afterlife, it’s all about finding heaven on earth through living a full complete awesome life…and I guess if you make that your focus, you might just find yourself living a fuller more complete heaven-like existence.

* According to the Rabbi, firstly, we are commanded to be fruitful and multiply. Secondly, to take care of the earth. I told my boyfriend, “Hmm, God mentioned nothing about women in the corporate workplace. Funny that, isn’t it?” I’m trying to use this info as a way of never working again. Wish me luck!

So that’s it! My kibitz for the week…and Shalom!

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