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Out of the Mouths of Bar Mitzvahs

Discussion in 'Faith and Religion' started by chelloveck, Feb 7, 2014.

  1. chelloveck

    chelloveck Diabolus Causidicus

    Here are two Bar Mitzvah's reading and discussing their Torah portions. I like their Chutzpah!!


    Duncan McAlpine has the makings of a good, if not orthodox rabbinical lawyer...more power to him, and to those like him! :cool:
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2014
  2. tulianr

    tulianr Don Quixote de la Monkey

    The first youngster sounds like a young Baruch Spinoza; he has possibilities, he likes to think. It seems that he needs some direction though. If he's going to attend Jewish school, it seems that someone should work a little harder to attempt to explain what it means to him to be an observant Jew. It seems like they just tossed him the Torah to read without any attempt to explain context or how those writings can still be relevant to him in this day and age.

    The second young fellow is another thinker, and has a good point. A lot of folks like to talk about a return to that good old time religion. We call those folks the Taliban. Grabbing Biblical dictates about how to run one specific portion of our lives, without examining context, is dishonest. There's wisdom in the religious texts of old, but selecting one favorite verse with which beat your fellow man over the head, isn't an honorable use of those texts.

    Both of these young men should be encouraged to continue to attempt to figure out life, and to figure out right and wrong, and how their families' traditional beliefs can both reflect and contrast elements of a good and moral life.
    chelloveck likes this.
  3. chelloveck

    chelloveck Diabolus Causidicus

    I agree tulian, on both accounts. There are nuggets of wisdom to be found in the ancient scriptures of most faith traditions, but it doesn't require the uncritical adoption of all of the scriptural writings in a particular confession to make good use of that wisdom. Without a doubt, in the Tanakh, there is some sublimely beautiful prose and poetry, and I do enjoy and get much of value from the Book of Proverbs, but as for the supernatural elements of the Tanakh / Bible etc, etc, I discarded that decades ago as a collection of incoherent, contradictory speculation.

    If I may use an analogy...I prefer to use a roadmap to navigate my way about life...accepting the consequences of not taking the most common or popular route from A to B, than to following a mandated string-line and being threatened with burning in Hell, if I let go of the string.
    tulianr likes this.
  4. tulianr

    tulianr Don Quixote de la Monkey

    I can relate to the young fellow in the first video. I had the religious misfortune to raised in an evangelical, fundamentalist household; and was forced to choose between faith and reason. I've often thought that had I been raised with a more moderate set of beliefs, that I might never have begun to question. Being forced into a literal interpretation of stories though, which seem far-fetched even to a child, did not sit well with me, and caused me to begin my questioning very early in life. The fundamentalist insistence upon Biblical Inerrancy, and a literal interpretation of all portions of the Bible, digs quite a trap for those attempting to believe.

    Even St. Augustine, in the early fifth century, warned other Christians not to interpret all parts of the Bible literally:
    “It not infrequently happens that something about the earth, about the sky, about other elements of this world, about the motion and rotation or even the magnitude and distances of the stars, about definite eclipses of the sun and moon, about the passage of years and seasons, about the nature of animals, of fruits, of stones, and of other such things, may be known with the greatest certainty by reasoning or by experience, even by one who is not a Christian. It is too disgraceful and ruinous, though, and greatly to be avoided, that he [the non-Christian] should hear a Christian speaking so idiotically on these matters, and as if in accord with Christian writings, that he might say that he could scarcely keep from laughing when he saw how totally in error they are.”

    I have a documentary around here somewhere, in which a Rabbi talks about the stories of the Old Testament, and explores the "truth" of those stories. When looking at the story of the Exodus, and the numbers involved, he agreed that those numbers are difficult to accept. Six hundred thousand military age men leaving Egypt would result in a total number of men, women, and children somewhere in the range of two to three million people. The line of march would have stretched from the Red Sea to the Sea of Galilee. They couldn't have wandered for forty years in the Sinai without the front end of the march meeting the rear end of the march.

    Anyway, he expressed the thought that even if a story is not literally true, that it can still be true, in a figurative or symbolic manner. He said of the story of the exodus, "what if it wasn't six hundred thousand, what if it were a thousand, or even fifty, or even one? Does it really matter? It is a story of a people throwing off their bondage and seeking a home where they can live free, build homes, raise their children, worship as they see fit. It is a truth of human nature. There is truth in the story. "

    Had I heard his explanation as a child, I could have accepted that. Too bad that young fellow in the first video didn't meet up with that Rabbi.
    chelloveck likes this.
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