Sunday, March 28, 2010

Many words that appear in the Torah are synonyms, or at least approximate synonyms. For example, sakal and ragam or amar and diber. Many people have observed that synonym choices tend to be correlated, so that, for example, in a parsha in which sakal appears one is more likely to find amar, while in a parsha in which ragam appears one is more likely to find diber. In fact, there seem to be certain broad patterns of such correlations, the details of which are not crucial at the moment.

Consider now the following hypothetical reactions to such observations.

A acknowledges such correlations provided that the medrash and/or the classical meforshim already did so for purposes of drush or parshanut.

B acknowledges them and is willing to use them as the basis for new speculative drush and parshanut.

C observes that the overall picture of such correlations suggest different "layers" of texts and speculates about the meaning of such distinct layers, but draws no conclusions from this about authorship.

D notes to himself that careful analysis of the "layers" seems to suggest multiple authorship, but is not disturbed by this because there is no reason that a Divinely authored document could not look like the product of multiple authorship.

E is convinced intellectually that the evidence points to multiple authorship but remains emotionally in the grip of the standard frum perspective he has always held and intends to continue to hold.

F is no longer in the emotional grip of the frum perspective regarding authorship of the Torah but retains enough emotional attachment to the overall frum narrative that he continues to live a frum life and to educate his children accordingly.

G is emotionally detached from the whole frum narrative but continues to live a frum life and to educate his kids accordingly out of respect, allegiance and the conviction that it is a good way to live.

H is emotionally detached from the frum narrative but stays frum in order to be better able to be meisis umadiach by spreading the gospel of higher Biblical criticism among the youth.

There is obviously a bright red line between some consecutive pair of these. Where would you put that line? (If you have a hard time answering a different question -- which letter you are -- the answer is that you are the letter right above the place you put the red line.)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

It has been a busy time. From what little I remember the Purim tish was fun. I recall dramatic readings from the Satmarer Rov's Al HaGeulah ve-al HaTemurah to Stairway to Heaven. I guess you had to be there.

All that is way in the past, though, because since then I sent off my second son to the army. Yes, him. Not easy. (For me, that is; he seems fine with it.) Hashem yishmor tzeito u-vo'o.

It seems sacrilegious to discuss mundane matters when my head is elsewhere, but it's all connected. I mean, of course, this spat we're having with Obama. A few thoughts about that. First, it is becoming more and more clear that Obama is a genuine third-worlder. He has abandoned Honduras, Iranian dissidents, Poland and the Czech Republic and Israel. He has appointed (or attempted to appoint) genuine U.S.-hating wingnuts like Van Jones and Jennifer Daskal to sensitive positions. This is not Carter-style weakness. This is an administration that has embraced the vision of the anointed big-time and seeks to create a new world order in which the West is significantly weakened.

The current kerfuffle is not peevishness. It is carefully orchestrated. Mitchell has promised the Palestinians that the outcome of the proximity talks will be an imposed solution that, inter alia, divides Jerusalem. The silly spectacle we have witnessed for the past week is designed to cow Israel and to signal the Arabs that the U.S. will deliver on its promise.

In the days ahead, we will find out if Democrats are prepared to defy Obama on this issue or not. If not, and support for Israel officially becomes a partisan Republican issue, we are screwed.

As for Israel's response to all this, we are much better off avoiding proximity talks now than having to defy an American diktat a year from now.