On Reading: Culture, Texts and Jewish Hermeneutics:
I wrote this blog a little while ago as I began thinking about a course I was teaching and its central Talmud text of the ‘Oven of Akhnai’ – teaching which has now concluded. At the same time, I finished teaching a Midrash course that began with the 13 Hermeneutical Rules of Rabbi Ishmael.
I had in mind also, when members of the Jewish community are accused of being hypersensitive to antisemitism or antisemitic ‘tropes’ or the ‘unintential’ juxtaposition of ideas that could be construed as antisemitic, bigoted or racist.
The following was (mostly) written a while ago after reflecting on a particular incident, the specifics of which are not irrelevant in general, but is now not germane to the reflections.
Allow me to briefly reflect on a Jewish hermeneutics: The way some Jews have interpreted texts and culture. I do not claim to present the authoritative view of all Jews and Judaism, but a view of Judaism from the perspective as a congregational rabbi and researcher.
For more than two millennia the Jewish people has been immersed in culture that mixed oral traditions and literature. The interpretative communities have been sensitive to what is said, what is written and the blank spaces in between.
When the rabbinic sages, some 1500-2000 years ago, read and talked about texts, they regarded the juxtaposition of ideas as just as important as the discrete elements. This was the beauty of the Hebrew Bible…
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