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24 History

24.1 Government

We hold these truths to be self-evident: “All men are created equal...”[2549] It would be difficult to establish a good government without careful reason such as the democracy of the United States of America. Unfortunately most religious do not hold with the truth that all men are created equal. From the Torah we have a stigma about those born from illicit relationships as prohibited from entering the Temple, but is the child responsible and hence culpable?

Text 24-1: Thomas Jefferson
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed;

The Torah describes the establishment of courts. It also describes a democracy in the selection of leaders by the tribes of Israel. This original government consisted of priesthood leadership, religious courts, and kings that execute the law. There was a fourth branch consisting of the prophets who monitored the status quo and revolted against injustice. The religious courts were both judicial and legislative. In periods without a king the courts also included police officers.

Overall, the Torah is filled with ideas on how to establish an effective government while innately insufficient in the details for this establishment. We know that the concept of a human king was not ideal in the eyes of G-d. The Torah describes an informal cooperative style of government with limited taxation for maintaining a king and priesthood. Taxation to maintain the religious courts is not described.

Nevertheless, how then would the Torah view the Jeffersonian principal, “we hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.”[2550] For the status of a mamzer prohibited from marrying in the Jewish people, could this be legitimate? Injustice against all is injustice. Hence the Oral Torah must apply the written law.

24.2 Proof of G-d

History reveals the Hand of God. After 2000 years, the reestablishment of the nation of Israel points to the existence of God. And what is our role in this world?
Text 24-2: Purpose of Life
“We’re here to get close to G-d and to bring others closer to G-d.”[2551]

Text 24-3: Proof of God
“What is the proof of God’s existence? This is the Passover with all of its dots and details. Why else would the Jews have all these rules? People naturally detest rules. Thus, there is a G-d.”[2552]

The story of the Exodus is proof of God’s existence. People that were once wealthy become slaves, than they obtain wealth again in leaving Egypt and fall to a golden calf, only to find G-d once again in the wanderings of the desert. There is a duality here too, a cycling between false successes and true failures that are the greater roads back to G-d. Being “plain” is important.[2553] To speak with people in a plain manner so that they understand even difficult concepts is the right way. For example, what is the purpose of the curtain[2554] separating men and women during prayer? The veil prevents single people from becoming embarrassed during services, since without the separation families would sit together, and the singles in the community would realize they are alone. “Why were the Jews chosen to receive the Torah? They are a scholarly people who need the Torah to focus their energy so they don’t go astray. Like a noisy child in a classroom, when the teacher gives him or her something interesting to study, she will become an angel.”[2555]

We cannot know for sure if G-d exists, but we have an innate conviction that He does, and that we long to be close.[2556] How to achieve this transforming closeness is a valuable struggle.

24.3 Timeline

The early history of the biblical timeline is long with spread out events. The period of the Book of Judges and Kings is about 200 years each. The Prophetic period was about 400 years and encompassed two exiles.

24.3.1 Biblical Dates

Table 24-1: Biblical Dates
Hebrew Year
Common Era (CA)
Civilization Begins
3760 BCE
Sumerian Cuneiform writing in southern Mesopotamia

3100 BCE
Death of Adam
2830 BCE
Birth of Noah
2704 BCE
Sargon of Akkad and first large Mesopotamia empire

2360-2180 BCE
Birth of Abraham
2166-1812 BCE
Amorites and barbarians settle in Mesopotamia and Canaan

2100-1900 BCE
Hyksos Asiatic control in Egypt

1720-1570 BCE
Jacob marries Rebekah
1672 BCE
Israel goes down to Egypt

1650 BCE
Exodus from Egypt (210 Yrs later)
1286 BCE
Deborah the Judge
1170 BCE
Samuel the Last Judge
1095 BCE
King Saul

1025 BCE
King David
998 BCE
King Solomon

928 BCE
Solomon builds 1st Temple

900 BCE

870 BCE
770 BCE
Assyria conquers Northern Tribes of Israel

722 BCE
Jonah warns Nineveh

700 BCE
Babylon, Egypt, and Media conquer Assyria

609 BCE
Judah submits to Babylonian control

604 BCE
Babylonians destroy 1st Temple

587 BCE
Babylon conquers Jerusalem and Babylonian exile begins

586 BCE
Babylonian exile

586 – 537 BCE
Media conquers Babylon

CA 559 BCE
Persian period

537 – 332 BCE
Darius of Persia permits 2nd Temple Rebuilding

519 BCE

457 BCE
Ezra Nehemiah and the Scribe period

420 – 300 BCE
Ptolemy I of Macedonia conquers Israel

323 BCE
Hellenistic Period

332 – 63 BCE
Pompey of Rome conquers Jerusalem

63 BCE
Roman Period

63 BCE – 476 CE
Romans destroy 2nd Temple

70 CE
Sanhedren starts

70 CE
Masoretic Text and Tanach with vowels finalized

100 CE
End of Paganism

100 – 200 CE
Jewish Christian sect begins under James the Lesser

100 – 200 CE
Jews go to Spain, France, and Italy...

130 – 250 CE
Christianity spreads

200 – 300 CE

200 – 215 CE

200 – 500 CE
Christian church council canonizes theology

312 CE
Byzantine Rule

324 – 640 CE

Several events in history parallel biblical events. The Asian Hyksos dynasty takes over in Egypt, CA 17th-15th BCE. This would be during the time of Jacob’s family. Archeological evidence indicates that the Hyksos had the same material culture as the Canaanites. They were merchants. In addition, they possessed horses and chariots. They knew how to shoot arrows from horseback suggesting they had mastered the development of the composite bow. In all likelihood the Hyksos were Canaanites who had collected additional know how and horses from traders. In the bible we read how Jacob sent his sons to Egypt to purchase grain. Here Jacob’s family exhibits merchant qualities. Joseph’s rise to power in Egypt would have been more difficult under a pre/post Hyksos xenophobic dynasty. A Hyksos pharaoh would have been predisposed to Joseph who was from the land of Canaan. The Hyksos dynasty falls in the 15th century BCE to a ‘native’ Egyptian dynasty. The ‘old’ xenophobic Egyptian Rulership returns, enslaving the Israelites who were then living in the lush, lower Nile delta of Goshen. In 13th century BCE, G-d sends Moses a Jew, who Pharaoh’s daughter had adopted, to bring His people back home to Israel.

In 721 BCE the Assyrians conquered the Northern Tribes of Israel. The Assyrians uprooted identity by relocating them evenly throughout the empire leading to assimilation. They relocated other peoples into the Samaria region. The indigenous Samaritans intermarried or converted the newcomers, over time, but remained the predominant culture, possibly more like the biblical Israelites then Cyrus’s returning exiles in 538 BCE. Nevertheless, Ezra rejected their offer to assist in the rebuilding of the temple, leading to a schism. Chronicles 2:30:1-2:31:6 confirms their story; that not all of the Israelites were taken into captivity. There seems to be evidence that the Samaritans are descendents from the tribes of Ephraim and Menasha as well. Pockets of pre-Talmudic Jews are found throughout the world, whether they are descendents of the long tribes is conjecture. Often they maintain the same rituals such as lighting candles to begin the Shabbat as well as the Torah.

Isaiah prophesied that Judah under the leadership of the righteous King Hezekiah would not fall.[2557] The Assyrians reach the hills around Jerusalem and 140,000 die by an angel defending the city. Babylon with Egypt and Media (Persia) conquer Nineveh capital of Assyria in 609 BCE. The Babylonians go on to conquer Israel in 589 BCE and the Temple in Jerusalem falls in 586 BCE. 130 years after the prophecy of Isaiah, 559 BCE, King Cyrus the Great leads the Medes or Persians under the walls of Babylon via the Euphrates river which he had dammed and captures the capital, overthrowing King Nebuchadnezzar. This fulfils Isaiah’s prophecy of the fall of Babylon and the prophecy of Daniel who was in the service of the King Nebuchadnezzar. Darius of Persia permits the Jews to start rebuilding their temple in 519 BCE. The Hellenistic empire under Ptolemy I takes control of Israel in 323 BCE. Pompey of the Romans captures Jerusalem in 63 BCE. Herod the Great expands the second temple in 29 BCE. There are Jewish revolts against the Romans in 70 CE, 115 CE, and 132 CE. The Byzantine Empire takes over with Julian the Apostate in 330 CE. The Arabs conquer Jerusalem in 638 CE. The Moslems build the Dome of the Rock in 691 CE.

24.3.2 Antediluvium, Diluge, and Postdiluvium Periods

The Bering Strait was crossable from 25000 BCE to 10000 BCE, reaching its zenith at 18000 BCE at the peak of the ice age. The ice soaked up 100 meters of ocean water revealing many land bridges. There is evidence of people crossing Beringna during Wisconsin at 11000 BCE. When the land bridge closed these folks developed on their own evolutionary patterns. Nevertheless, there are similarities between American Indian culture and Asian. The use of herbal medicines prevails. The end of the ice age began around 10000 BCE suggesting that large flooding occurred around 9000 BCE. The story of the flooding of the world is found even amongst S. American Indians. This would move the pre-Abraham Genesis stories into an earlier time. The life spans may indicate a period of civilization instead of an individual. Also, different races of people may have evolved from separate groups of homo sapiens long before civilization. One view is to move Adam back before this time. Another is to consider Adam a spiritually descendent being at the same time. In terms of Noah, if there are peoples already disbursed throughout the world during the Diluge, then Noah can only represent the survival of one race in one region. If the story is metaphorical, it does not seem to explain the origin of American Indians, Pacific Islanders, and Australian Aborigines.

I prefer the spiritual antecedent idea of humankind from Adam while the sons of man existed and married into the so-called “sons of G-d.” One other interesting point is that even before the dawn of civilization; fully developed religious ideas existed in oral tradition. We cannot discount the earliest humans as mere savages. In all likelihood, they bared most of what we consider the soul of man today.

24.4 Biblical Truth

The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the oldest material biblical texts, raised questions on the accuracy of the modern day text. However, the variations found in the scrolls are almost always of additional material. For example, Psalm 145 in the DSS contains a verse for the letter Nun. Interestingly the verse is inspiring and an excellent fit. Furthermore the DSS Psalm 145 fragment is older than the earliest physical copy of the canonized biblical text. Nevertheless, it would be wrong to infer that this version of Psalm 145 represents David’s original writing. The nature of being a scribe in Israel was not necessarily to copy a holy text identically, but to occasionally improve on style, correct spelling, and to add notes or to the text in inspired manner. This was not the case outside of Israel, where the rabbis said prophecy did not exist. Hence the Masorites, who canonized the Hebrew bible, selected earlier preserved biblical texts from those amongst the Israelites that returned from the Babylonian exile. The shorter the text the less likely explanatory editing had crept in.

Editors, scribes, biblical redactors and interpreters were often the same folk in the biblical period. The Truth of the Bible is that it is unified and meaningful because of the contributions of both prophets and interpreters. To ignore the interpreters in the pursuit of the pure intention of the original text is to deny the essence of the Bible, which is a collection of texts that the interpreters selected based on inspired judgment. In reference to biblical scholarship or criticism, James Kugel said, “What is, as I say, naïve about this view (the denial of interpretation) is its failure to take into account the crucial role played by ancient interpreters in the very emergence of the Bible.”[2558] Interestingly, the same folks who selected the biblical texts, the Masorites, led in their interpretation.

Nevertheless, there is a danger that an interpreter may use a biblical text for his own agenda and hence abuse the intention of the prophet. For the scholar, the proper balance is to pursue the contextual truth of the biblical text with an inspired interpretation. The New Testament is an example of a text interpreting the Old Testament for its own fulfillment. Newer interpretations often contradict older interpretations closer to the original prophets’ intentions.

Overall, interpretation is beneficial if we find moral and spiritual meaning in the text that improves our closeness to G-d and each other. That an interpretation may be obtuse becomes irrelevant if it suits better the purpose of the bible.

To question the veracity of the bible, but to believe in G-d requires one to define or ignore the truth.

Text 24-4: Veracity of the Bible
The Bible is the will of G-d in the context of the people,
Not necessarily the intention of G-d.[2559]

Often, G-d condescends to the requests of the people. When the people ask for a king, G-d proclaims that the people have forsaken Him, but relents and permits kingship, which evolves into the messianic hope. Another condescending is the High Priest being able to place the sins of the people on the head of a goat, ‘transference of sins’. After a stray scapegoat returns to town the people decide that the goat must be thrown over a cliff on Yom Kippur instead of simply led into the wilderness.

Text 24-5: The Scapegoat Who Returned to Town
An ancient Hebrew legend says that one time the abandoned scapegoat somehow found its way back to Jerusalem much to the horror of the people. Consequently, it was deemed that all future scapegoats would be taken to a particular cliff in the wilderness and thrown down insuring its death.[2560]

The Almighty’s condescension to letting Israel have a human king led to messianic movements estranged from Judaism. Some of these movements canonized their conflict with the Jews in religious texts leading to persecutions ad-infinitum. Yet, the hope for messiah lives and Jewish folklore teaches that G-d created the messiah before the creation of the world.

The Ribono Shalom foresaw that Israel would request a leader other than himSelf and provided that such leadership would enter Israel to direct the people back to G-d.

24.5 Canonization of anti-Semitism

In the ancient near east, almost all nations recorded history and religious texts as propaganda about the greatness of their leaders and peoples. The one exception to this rule was the Jewish people who recorded religious texts chastising their peoples and leaders. One would think the consequence of this honesty would be a greater respect for such a people. On the contrary, we have seen that other nations have taken these writings and jumped on the accusatory bandwagon, degrading the Jewish people while overlooking their own faults.

Both the Old and New Testaments are scripture written by Jews. They contain reprimands and criticisms for the Jewish people to help them improve. Other nations have adopted these texts as their canon. One might think that these nations would apply these scriptures examining their own lives in their light. Instead, many have taken to stereotyping Jews for all time, believing the prophets accusations eternal prophecy. Consequently, nations who have adopted the Jewish testaments continuously attack them, judging them according to a double standard, while exempting their own behavior.

While other nations protected their reputations by not recording negative historical events about their own peoples, the Jewish bible is very open about the virtues and vices of the Jewish nation. Religions such as Christianity and Islam adopting the Old Testament become prejudiced by these teachings instead of seeing them as applying to themselves. The New Testament taking after the trend of the prophets applies criticism towards the Jewish people. The negative examples of Jewish people in the New Testament are a major historical cause of anti-Semitism.

In the story of the Horbon Bayit Rishon, Destruction of the First House of Israel,[2561] Rabbi Nachman of Breslov taught that Mezuzaraden, the chief butcher, led the armies into Jerusalem. In Jerusalem he killed nine hundred and forty thousand Jews. In a valley outside of a Jerusalem he killed two million and one hundred thousand Jews. He noticed that the blood ran like a river into an area touching the blood of where the prophet Zechariah had died. He noticed that the blood was boiling in that area like there was a fire. He asked the Jews about this. They were afraid to admit, “He was a prophet amongst us, who was speaking the word of G-d, who told us that our sins would lead to this destruction. We refused to listen to him and we killed him.” After a few tests to try to appease the blood, Mezuzarden realized the truth and said, “I will take up the part and avenge this prophet.” He asked his soldiers to bring all the chief rabbis of the Sanhedren. Speaking to the blood he said, “I am going to appease you by killing all these chief rabbis, myself.” Still, the blood kept boiling so he asked that all the youth, the young boys and girls be brought before him and he killed them. Still, the blood kept boiling so he asked all the children be brought before him as well and he slew them. He called out to the blood, “Zechariah, Zechariah, I have killed the best of your people, do you want me to kill every last living Jewish person?” Finally the blood stopped boiling. He then became very pensive. “If all of this bearly satisfied the death of one person, how can I make amends for all the people I have killed?” He was aware of one Jewish principle, that of tshuvah. He took off his general’s clothes, converted, repented and began studying Torah and became a devout Jew.

Rabbi Nachman teaches that this happened with many famous people or their children. The children of Haman studied Torah in B’nai Brak in Israel. The children of Sisera enemy of Israel, whose head Yael nailed to a rock, taught classes to children in Jerusalem. Shemayah and Avtalyon, the fourth pair heading the Sanhedrin at the end of the Hasmonean era, were proselytes descendent from Sanheriv, the Assyrian, who had conquered the Middle East.

From here we learn that G-d may use the wicked against the Jewish people, because of our sins, but even they can atone for their sins if they or the descendents turn completely around. So much the more so, we should all know that there is not a sin to great that G-d cannot forgive us. The prophets intended their message to the people they chastise not to a third nation to stereotype with hatred. When the Christians see themselves as Jews in the year 6000, Christian anti-Semitism will end.

Self-hatred has led to a particular breed of anti-Semitism fostered by Jews against Jews. Types include fanatic loathing and spitting on other Jews, denial of the state of Israel, and generalizations and criticism of fiduciary responsibility. In the last case the manipulations on Wall Street and bank trading are excessively criticized in association with Jews. In the first place it is not clear that investment houses do not serve a benefit in society in making cash available to worthwhile businesses and in restructuring. And second, such businesses are not necessarily run by Jews and not necessarily corrupt although manipulative. Vilification of such businesses may be the result of the impression of societal anti-Semitism.

24.6 Primary Sources

When G-d speaks with a prophet, He manifests within the symbols and knowledge that the prophet has acquired. Most wrongly conceive that G-d speaks to a prophet as an outside source divested of the background, language, and knowledge of the prophet. In essence, G-d is an inside source for the prophet revealing the past, present, and future within his or hers background for understanding. Hence, improving ones knowledge improves the dimensions of ones prophecy. Moshe, for instance was familiar with the ideas of several religions. He may have possessed scrolls or oral tradition containing family trees or historical texts that prepared him for the Torah prophecy. Knowledge doesn’t detract from the significance of prophecy. Knowledge enables the prophet to ask the right questions and understand the answers in context.

Other religions have parallels to Jewish mysticism.[2562] In Zoroastrianism there is a dualist cosmology in which the conflict between the forces of good and evil is played out. On the good side stood Ahura Mazda who is the source of the good angels and on the evil side stood Angra Mainy, the Destructive Spirit, and his demonic hordes. The demonic hordes evolved from the Indian devas in the Veda idea. There are Intelligences and other classifications of angels here. The Essenes who believed in a battle between the Sons of Light and the Sons of Darkness were following a similar idea with a concept of angels and fallen angels. Nevertheless, the Jewish idea is that there is only one G-d. The actions of angels are only a reflection of the action of men below. That every nation has a counterpart guardian angel and the battles between men are reflected in the battles between angels is a Kabbalistic idea.

The concept of the sefirot is only remotely similar to the Gnostic idea of aeons.[2563] Gnosticism posited far more than ten aeons, and they referred to planes of existence with a plane ruler. There is a diminishment of the spiritual force in each descending aeon, until one finally reaches the physical world, which is ‘evil’ in Gnosticism. The Sefirot on the other hand relate to the attributes of G-d manifesting in this world. There is however the common idea that the shefa, bounty of G-d’s energy, descends through the sefirot to our world. “When the Gnostics viewed the night sky they saw the stars as angels who had erred, the heavens as a vault barring them from their soul’s home.”[2564] In Jewish Kabbalah the stars have an associated angel but not an angel that has “erred.” G-d supports his creation continuously with angels.

The Zohar is an example of a work written in the name of an earlier author. Religious Jews identified the author with Shimon bar Yochai. Critics claim the author is Moses de Leon. Historically, many of the ideas in the Zohar are of later origin than the first century, the time Shimon bar Yochai lived. Nevertheless, the text stands on its own merit, even with an unknown author. To those who claim it bears Platonic, Pythagorean, Gnostic, or Zorastrian ideas and deny its value on this regard, I will say that unique Jewish interpretations make the text very useful.

To benefit from a text like the Zohar, one places ones mind in a state pursuing the symbolisms of the author. Amazement reveals new pathways to G-d. The historical authorship becomes less significant when one realizes that crediting an earlier sage is an act of humility. Also within the spiritual realm, G-d provides a Maggid or speaker who transmits ideas from the perspective of an earlier sage. In this manner, the Zohar is a diving board of ideas. One must swim deeply in these ideas before one resurfaces with visionary and spiritual experiences.

Enoch 1, 2, and 3 contain writings claimed to be from Hanoch. Enoch 1 consists of Babylonian inspired ideas of angels while Enoch 3, which is Sefer Hekhalot is Merkavah Mysticism. The ideas in these texts are not outside of Judaism. In fact the books of Enoch are sources for many biblical commentaries on the Torah. In a similar manner, the Book of Yashar is a source text for much of the Midrash Rabbah.[2565]

“What distinguishes a pseudepigraphic work from a biblical work is that pseudepigraphy answers questions and a biblical work raises them.”[2566]

24.7 Torah is not in Heaven

Text 24-6: Deuteronomy 30
10. If you shall listen to the voice of the Lord your God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which are written in this book of the Torah, and if you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul.
11. For this commandment which I command you this day, is not hidden from you, nor is it far off.
12. It is not in heaven, that you should say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it to us, that we may hear it, and do it?
13. Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it to us, that we may hear it, and do it?
14. But the word is very near to you, in your mouth, and in your heart, that you may do it.
15. See, I have set before you this day life and good, and death and evil;
16. In that I command you this day to love the Lord your God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the Lord your God shall bless you in the land which you are entering to possess.

Text 24-7: Talmud Mas. T’mura 16a on Recovering the Torah
‘Rab Judah reported in the name of Samuel:[2567] Three thousand traditional laws were forgotten during the period of mourning for Moses’. They said to Joshua: ‘Ask’;[2568] (that they be revealed from heaven) he replied: It is not in heaven.[2569] They [the Israelites] said to Samuel: ‘Ask’; he replied: [Scripture says:] These are the commandments,[2570] implying [that since the promulgation of these commandments] no prophet has now the right to introduce anything new.

Said R. Isaac the Smith: Also the law relating to a sin-offering whose owners have died was forgotten during the period of mourning for Moses. They [the Israelites] said to Phinehas: ‘Ask’; he replied to them: ‘It is not in heaven’. They said to Eleazar: ‘Ask’. He replied: ‘These are the commandments’, implying [that since the promulgation of these commandments] no prophet has now the right to introduce anything new.

G-d creates truth. Man forms reality.[2571] The word—logos, reforms reality continuously. In science, our concept of the Universe evolves with each new empirical observation changing reality.[2572] The past exists only in memories and recordings of history. We determine the reality of the past by our present memory and our focus on what existed.

Prophetic revelation is the gateway to truth. Hence, the Written Torah is entirely revelation of truth revealed to Moses on Mt. Sinai.[2573] On the other hand, the Oral Torah, which includes Mishnah, Midrash, and Gemara, is a mixture of G-d’s truth and man’s reality. Within the Gemara, there is Agadah (story), Halakhah (law), and Kabbalah (received mysticism). When a sage writes with Ruach Hakodesh (holy spirit), he reveals truth. When he writes with dialectic[2574] legal questioning and answering (Pilpul) or hermeneutical[2575] exposition (Rules), he forms reality.[2576] In the Midrash, there is Drash, explanation, based on conjecture and there is Drash based on Ruach Hakodesh as well. The Oral Torah sections on Halakhah are based on Rabbi Ishmael’s hermeneutical rules interpreting the Written Torah to form new reality. For this reason these sections are not found in heaven.[2577]

Text 24-8: Talmud Mas. T’mura 16a on Moshe’s Departure from the World
Rab Judah reported in the name of Rav: When Moses departed [this world] for the Garden of Eden he said to Joshua: ‘Ask me concerning all the doubts you have’. He replied to him: ‘My Master, have I ever left you for one hour and gone elsewhere? Did you not write concerning me in the Torah: But his servant Joshua the son of Nun departed not out of the tabernacle? Immediately the strength [of Moses] weakened and [Joshua] forgot three hundred laws and there arose [in his mind] seven hundred doubts [concerning laws]. Then all the Israelites rose up to kill him. The Holy One, blessed be He, then said to him [Joshua]: ‘It is not possible to tell you. Go and occupy their attention in war, as it says: Now after the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, it came to pass that the Lord spake; and it further says; [Prepare you victuals for within three days, etc.].

It has been taught: A thousand and seven hundred kal vechomer and gezerah shavah and specifications of the Scribes were forgotten during the period of mourning for Moses. Said R. Abbuha: Nevertheless Othniel the son of Kenaz restored [these forgotten teachings] as a result of his dialectics,[2578] as it says: And Othniel the son of Kenaz, the brother of Caleb, took it; and he gave him Achsah his daughter to wife.

The Oral Law is not in heaven. We cannot be sure that the conclusions or explanations were in fact G-d’s true intention or meaning. Reality is formed by man. Interestingly, rabbis hold their principles, their decided laws, higher than the will of G-d when faced with revelation:[2579]

R. Helbo said: One must always observe the honour due to his wife, because blessings rest on a man's home only on account of his wife, for it is written, And he treated Abram well for her sake. And thus did Raba say to the townspeople of Mahuza, Honour your wives, that ye may be enriched.

We learnt elsewhere: If he cut it into separate tiles, placing sand between each tile: R. Eliezer declared it clean, and the Sages declared it unclean; (end of 59a)
and this was the oven of ‘Aknai. Why [the oven of] ‘Aknai? — Said Rab Judah in Samuel's name: [It means] that they encompassed it with arguments as a snake, and proved it unclean. It has been taught: On that day R. Eliezer brought forward every imaginable argument, but they did not accept them. Said he to them: ‘If the Halakhah agrees with me, let this carob-tree prove it!’ Thereupon the carob-tree was torn a hundred cubits out of its place — others affirm, four hundred cubits. ‘No proof can be brought from a carob-tree,’ they retorted. Again he said to them: ‘If the Halakhah agrees with me, let the stream of water prove it!’ Whereupon the stream of water flowed backwards — ‘No proof can be brought from a stream of water,’ they rejoined. Again he urged: ‘If the Halakhah agrees with me, let the walls of the schoolhouse prove it,’ whereupon the walls inclined to fall. But R. Joshua rebuked them, saying: ‘When scholars are engaged in a halachic dispute, what have ye to interfere?’ Hence they did not fall, in honour of R. Joshua, nor did they resume the upright, in honour of R. Eliezer; and they are still standing thus inclined. Again he said to them: ‘If the Halakhah agrees with me, let it be proved from Heaven!’ Whereupon a Heavenly Voice cried out: ‘Why do ye dispute with R. Eliezer, seeing that in all matters the Halakhah agrees with him!’ But R. Joshua arose and exclaimed: ‘It is not in heaven.’ What did he mean by this? — Said R. Jeremiah: That the Torah had already been given at Mount Sinai; we pay no attention to a Heavenly Voice, because Thou hast long since written in the Torah at Mount Sinai, After the majority must one incline.

R. Nathan met Elijah and asked him: What did the Holy One, Blessed be He, do in that hour? — He laughed [with joy], he replied, saying, ‘My sons have defeated Me, My sons have defeated Me.’ It was said: On that day all objects which R. Eliezer had declared clean were brought and burnt in fire. Then they took a vote and blessed him off.[2580] Said they, ‘Who shall go and inform him?’ ‘I will go,’ answered R. Akiba, ‘lest an unsuitable person go and inform him, and thus destroy the whole world.’[2581] What did R. Akiba do? He donned black garments and wrapped himself in black, and sat at a distance of four cubits from him. ‘Akiba,’ said R. Eliezer to him, ‘what has particularly happened to-day?’ ‘Master,’ he replied, ‘it appears to me that thy companions hold aloof from thee.’ Thereupon he too rent his garments, put off his shoes, removed [his seat] and sat on the earth, whilst tears streamed from his eyes. The world was then smitten: a third of the olive crop, a third of the wheat, and a third of the barley crop. Some say, the dough in women's hands swelled up.

Hashem like a parent takes pleasure in the new works of His children. “Defeated Me” is as if to say, “my children have become smarter than me.”

A Tanna taught: Great was the calamity that befell that day, for everything at which R. Eliezer cast his eyes was burned up. R. Gamaliel[2582] too was traveling in a ship, when a huge wave arose to drown him. ‘It appears to me,’ he reflected, ‘that this is on account of none other but R. Eliezer b. Hyrcanus.’ Thereupon he arose and exclaimed, ‘Sovereign of the Universe! Thou knowest full well that I have not acted for my honour, nor for the honour of my paternal house, but for Thine, so that strife may not multiply in Israel! ‘At that the raging sea subsided.

Ima Shalom was R. Eliezer's wife, and sister to R. Gamaliel. From the time of this incident onwards she did not permit him to fall upon his face in the Tachnun prayer.[2583] Now a certain day happened to be New Moon, but she mistook a full month for a defective one. Others say, a poor man came and stood at the door, and she took out some bread to him. [On her return] she found him fallen on his face. ‘Arise,’ she cried out to him, ‘thou hast slain my brother.’ In the meanwhile an announcement was made from the house of Rabban Gamaliel that he had died. ‘Whence dost thou know it?’ he questioned her. ‘I have this tradition from my father's house: All gates are locked, excepting the gates of wounded feelings.’

Rabbi Gamaliel held views similar to that of Shamai in terms of strictness. The following viewpoint was in contradiction to the teaching of Avos 1:1 to “educate many disciples.”[2584]

For Rabban Gamaliel had issued a proclamation [saying]. No disciple whose character does not correspond to his exterior may enter the Beth ha-Midrash.

Rabbi Gamaliel also instituted the 19th blessing of the Amidah that cursed unbelievers, the Sadduces, and heretics in his time. Later, the blessing referred to Christian persecutors or to secular scoffers. For example, in the year 1400 a baptized Jew spread the slander that the words “for they bow to void and vanity and pray to a god who does not help”[2585] in the Alenu prayer referred to the founder of Christianity. Hence, today the blessing or curse begins, “And for the slanders let there be no hope.” The first word beginning with a vav, “And”, combines the blessing with the previous blessing in order to maintain the eighteen blessing limitation of the Amidah according to the Mishnah, “RABBAN GAMALIEL SAYS: EVERY DAY A MAN SHOULD SAY THE EIGHTEEN BENEDICTIONS.” [2586] Nevertheless, the Gemara explains the intention is that we recite the name of G-d specifically eighteen times to metaphorically compose the Great Name (the Seventy-two Letter Name). [2587] With the 19th benediction, this is no longer the case!

Our Rabbis taught: He who wounds the feelings of a proselyte transgresses three negative injunctions, and he who oppresses him infringes two. Wherein does wronging differ? Because three negative injunctions are stated: Viz., Thou shalt not wrong a stranger [i.e., a proselyte], And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not wrong him, and ye shall not therefore wrong each his fellowman, a proselyte being included in ‘fellowman.’ But for ‘oppression’ also three are written, viz., and thou shalt not oppress him, Also thou shalt not oppress a stranger, and [If thou lend money to any of my people that is poor by thee,] thou shalt not be to him as a usurer which includes a proselyte! — But [say] both [are forbidden] by three [injunctions].

It has been taught: R. Eliezer the Great said: Why did the Torah warn against [the wronging of] a proselyte in thirty-six, or as others say, in forty-six, places? Because he has a strong inclination to evil.[2588] What is the meaning of the verse, Thou shalt neither wrong a stranger, nor oppress him; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt? It has been taught: R. Nathan said: Do not taunt your neighbour with the blemish you yourself have. And thus the proverb runs: If there is a case of hanging in a man's family record, say not to him, ‘Hang this fish up for me.’

Rabbi Gamaliel teaches, “so that strife may not multiply in Israel!” the decree of the majority is upheld indifferent to the will of heaven. A legitimate question is whether strife multiplies when a minority with the truth is disregarded for the majority.[2589] The Karite movement disregarded the entire Oral Law and formed its own people, because they did not believe the Oral Torah was authentic revelation. The Reform movement broke from Orthodox Judaism because they set out on their own search for the Truth. One man plus the Truth is greater than then the majority.[2590]

The Torah sets out the role of the elders/judges to try cases with the “spirit of G-d.”

NUM 11:16 And the LORD said unto Moses, Gather unto me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom thou knowest to be the elders of the people, and officers over them; and bring them unto the tabernacle of the congregation, that they may stand there with thee.

NUM 11:17 And I will come down and talk with thee there: and I will take of the spirit which is upon thee, and will put it upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with thee, that thou bear it not thyself alone.

The officers operated in the gates of the city, attempting to judge correctly with the spirit of G-d. To protect against biased influences, G-d forbids them from accepting gifts.

DEU 16:18 Judges and officers shalt thou make thee in all thy gates, which the LORD thy God giveth thee, throughout thy tribes: and they shall judge the people with just judgment.

DEU 16:19 Thou shalt not wrest judgment; thou shalt not respect persons, neither take a gift: for a gift doth blind the eyes of the wise, and pervert the words of the righteous.

DEU 16:20 That which is altogether just shalt thou follow, that thou mayest live, and inherit the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

The 70 elders would constitute the court of the Sanhedren with Moses serving as the President, Nasi. With the High Priest this is 72 and they parallel the 72 names of G-d.[2591] The 70 elders represent 70 higher angels guiding 70 nations of the world. The Sanhedren served to clarify and unify the law of Israel, the Oral Law as well as to hear cases.


Text 24-9: Shamai and Hillel later divisions
The Law, intended to make of the Jewish people a “kingdom of priests and a holy nation,” was too rigorous for universal observance. People living at a distance from Jerusalem could not resort to the Temple for purification every time they attended a funeral. ... The rules applied only, the provincials argued, to people who frequented the sanctuary. They were quite willing to “purify” themselves when about to go on a pilgrimage; but otherwise they practically ignored the law.[2598]

The pietists of Jerusalem could not accept this lenient interpretation. ... To emphasize the equality of the two groups within Pharisaism, a system of dual leadership was arranged, giving each equal representation. If the first sage (later called the Nasi or president) was a patrician, the second or associate sage (later called Ab Bet Din, or head of the court) had to be a plebian and vice versa.

24.8 Torah Coding, Gematria, and Biblical Criticism

Yeshiva Aish HaTorah[2599] has recently popularized the idea of Torah codes. These are words formed by laying out the Torah into various two dimensional tables and searching for names horizontally, vertically, and diagonally. Torah coding like Gematria is a form of kabbalistic meditation. In Torah codes, while some names, places, and events exist; others do not exist. In Gematria, one selects those equivalences that one finds inspirational. There are also words that are clearly connected in meaning that do not connect with Gematria. While computers are useful for pulling out patterns of words or computing the Gematria of all words and sorting them, a person must apply his or her inspiration in selecting those patterns or equivalences that have meaning. Overall these are techniques of meditation.

Torah coding assumes that the Torah is a mystical text delivered verbatim by G-d to Moses on Mt. Sinai without space between words or punctuation. By this approach, words exist in the Torah by reading in different directions or partitioning groups of letters different than the spacing. Those who are most enthused by this technique hold that the Torah we have today is letter for letter the same as given on Mt. Sinai. One must certainly hold that the Torah text is sacred to progress in this form of study.

There is great concern from those studying Torah codes that the Torah should not exist in other versions with even a single letter of difference. To this end the Masorites canonized the Tanach, the version we use today. The Masoretic Torah, letter for letter represents the oldest most accurate form of the Five Books of Moses. Patrick W. Skehan, a biblical scholar of Qumran said:

Text 24-10: Patrick Skehan on exceptionally good Torah text
If this be a fair estimate of the evidence, what of the sound, tightly organized, unexpanded text of the Torah that stands in our Bibles? How has it not undergone the kind of development present in varying degrees in other witnesses? Cross, in the article referred to, would root the Masoretic text of the Torah in a conservative Babylonian tradition, as he does for the books of Samuel. In any case, the received Hebrew text of the Torah appears again as an exceptional text, but this time, as an exceptionally good text.[2600]

Frank Cross had this to say at the dedication of the Shrine of the Book holding the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1965:

Text 24-11: Frank Cross on the non-expansionist Masoretic Pentateuch
In contrast to these expansionistic texts, however, the Masoretic text of the Pentateuch was remarkably short and conservative.[2601]
While haplography[2602] also produces short readings, and the text of Samuel is demonstrably defective by reason of extensive haplography, there can be no denying that the received text of the Pentateuch is a marvelously compact and well-preserved text, from the point of view of the modern textual critic. The difficulty arises when we look at the received text outside the Pentateuch and the Former Prophets.

The Masorites were careful to select the oldest most compact forms of the scrolls existing in their day to identify the original Torah. The Masorites may have relied on scrolls that left Israel in the second exile and returned later over those at the Dead Sea. The Bible in Israel was more of a living entity with perhaps key commentary and editorial improvements occasionally finding their way into the scrolls. This applies far more to texts of the prophets and later works than to the Torah. Most supposition amongst biblical critics is that the same process was done on the Torah centuries earlier. There are no alternate texts to prove this. Nevertheless if this would be the case, it would not in any way hinder our belief that the Torah we have today is divinely given and the form intended by G-d.

G-d prefers an ongoing relationship with mankind as opposed to a single happening. The Torah is part of this relationship. G-d gave the Torah to his children. The love of the Torah by his children caused them to add spaces between words to show their understanding to their father. Perhaps Ezra selected Assyrian shapes for the letters magnifying their boldness, improving readability. Rabbi Akiva added crowns to the Torah letters to decorate them with the greatness he saw in them. Others recorded vowel points to preserve the correct pronunciation of the words, as G-d may have prophetically revealed them again in their generation. Still others developed musical notes so that they could pass on the great song of the Torah that they discovered in their generation.

24.9 Holocaust

The Dominican Republic under Rafael Trujillo prepared an agricultural community for Jews to resettle during the Holocaust. Only 1000 Jews managed to get to the Dominican Republic at this time. The benevolent dictator stated that his country would be willing to except 100,000 Jews.[2603] Trujillo led his country from 1930-1961 at which time he was assassinated.[2604]

The Damascus Affair or libel was a blood libel against the Jews in the mid 1800’s perpetrated by the Damascus community.[2605] German Jews, thought possessing considerable influence at this time, did not come to the aid of the Damascus community.

Text 24-12: First they came...
First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.

Then they came for the socialists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the jews,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for the catholics,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a catholic.

Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.[2606]

Today there is a Holocaust or a loss in the number of Jewish people that is blamed on intermarriage, but actually stems from the insidiousness of restricting the definition of who is a Jew far beyond the d’raissa Torah pragmatic definition of the Ger, who living amongst you shall keep the Jewish law.

Text 24-13: First they came
First they came for Ishmael and Hagar
And sent them away creating the Ishmaelites

Then they came for Esau’s wives
And alienated him creating Edom

Then they came for Moshe’s wife
And decried her unfitness

Then they came for Ruth and King David
And the legitimacy of the messianic line stood on a hair’s width

Then they came for the descendents of Ammonites and Moabites
And questioned their right to become Jews

Then they came for the wives of Babylonian Jews
And told their husbands to cast off their families

Then they came for the Samaritans
And said they were unqualified to help rebuild the temple

Then they came for the Falashas
And forced them to go through another circumcision to be considered a Jew

Then they came for the Russians
And wouldn’t allow them to marry

Then they came for the Reform
And denied their conversions

Then they came for the Conservatives
And denied their conversions

Then they came for the Orthodox
And denied their conversions

Today they come for me
And there is no one left to speak for me.

24.10 Politics

Presidents prefer to have advisors with contrary viewpoints to help them make the best decision. Such was the case with Schultz and Casper Weinberger during the Reagan and Bush Senior administrations as is the case between Rumsfeld and Powell in the Bush Junior administration.[2607] This important lesson teaches the strengths of democracy which is that we have a nation of multiple viewpoints. This permits us to generate a larger domain of solutions to a problem set and hopefully find one that works.

While one viewpoint may be predominantly right and another predominantly wrong, this does not negate the advantage of alternative viewpoints in the democratic process. What is important is that wrong viewpoints do not attempt to override the views of society, but that the percolation of views continues with the right viewpoint eventually rising to the top in public policy decision-making.

For an astute knowledge of world politics, one should read the New York Times.[2608] ‘The Law of Small Numbers in Politics’ is when a vocal minority is diminishing in relative number in a society than its influence is diminishing as well. The corollary of this rule is that when a vocal minority represents an insignificant number in the population, then it is insignificant for all practical purposes.

24.11 Coin Collection

Franklin Mint Bicentennial Coin – ¾ ounce sterling silver (92%)

24.12 Stamp Collection


Judaica Two Old KKL JNF Label Stamps
Probably both used, but Max Nordau not postmarked.
Theodor Herzl stamp with rare cds Sveti Janez (ob Bohinju) - Kingdom of Yugoslavia. Post office was in hotel Sveti Janez on lake Bohinj (today: Slovenia)

United States, "Zionist Organization of America" Palestine land development promotional stamps, circa. 1948-50: block of x6 undenominated labels, mint never hinged:


24.13 Second Languages

Text 24-14: Think in a Foreign Language to Make Better Decisions

Everyone makes at least a couple risky decisions a day. It might be as complex as an expensive purchase, or as simple as picking between a Hot Pocket and a salad for lunch. Either way, you have a decision making bias based on years of experience that's going to make you more likely to take a bad risk. However, a new study published in the journal Psychological Science suggests one way to decrease that risk is to think through the decision in another language.[2609]

Researchers conducted several studies with students to test their decision-making biases. In each test a subset of students had to think about decisions ranging from how much money to bet away to how to rationally fight a disease. The researchers found that when you think through a decision in a foreign language you can reduce the framing effect that alters your bias. Thinking in a foreign language also increases the likelihood of taking a low-loss, high-gain bet because it alters your perception of loss and lets you see a bigger picture.

In the end, the researchers believe that thinking in a second language provides a kind of cognitive distance that promotes analytical thought and reduces emotion. It operates like a screen door in your decision-making, giving you enough time to pause and consider deeper ramifications and remove emotional reaction from a choice. We know that ignoring your prejudices helps you make better decisions and provided you can speak at least one foreign language (and if not here are a few suggestions for learning a language) this could prove to be an important facet of your decision making toolkit.

24.13.1 Hebrew

Hebrew is the language of creation as well as teaching the Truth. Each day that one studies a little Hebrew will sharpen the mind and remove bias in thinking. The relations of spelling reveal the interconnections of meaning; even the numerical values of Hebrew words are significant.

24.13.2 Korean

Korean Panga – meet and Hebrew Pagash – meet are related.
Korean Apa – father and Hebrew Aba – father

24.14 Tree of Life

In the early dawn of mankind, a World Tree was regarded as the source of creation.[2610]

Text 24-15: Bahir 22 – Gersholm Sholem translation
It is I who have planted this "tree" that the whole world may delight
in it and with it I have spanned the All, called it "All," for on it
depends the All and from it emanates the All; all things need it and
look upon it and yearn for it, and it is from it that all souls fly forth.
I was alone when I made it and no angel can raise himelf above it and
say: I was there before thee, for when I spanned my earth, when I
planted and rooted this tree and caused them to take delight in each
other [the tree and the earth] and myself delighted in them—who was
there with me to whom I would have confided this secret?

Scholem comments, “A vestige of this idea of the tree of life as a cosmic tree that grows between the celestial Garden of Eden and the terrestrial paradise and on which the souls of the righteous ascend and descend as on a ladder has also been preserved in the Midrash Konen, which reflects many ancient Merkabah and bereshith speculations. In the Bahir, this same motif is apparently utilized in later passages as well (sections 71 and 104); but the passage in section 14 goes much further, containing, as it does, the undisguised image of the tree of souls. It therefore seems clear that among the sources upon which the final redaction of the Bahir was based there were old fragments of a boldly mythical character.”[2611]

This parallels the idea of an upper Garden of Eden in Tiferet and the lower in our world Malchut and the Tree of Life connecting the two. Hence the Tree of Life is a pathway to immortality where man lived in the Upper Garden before he ate from the Tree of Knowledge and had skin placed on his immortal soul. Also the Tree as the carrier of souls can be seen here. Moreover, the trees draw their nutrients from those who have passed away in the ground; hence they are thought to carry their souls. Hence, the mitzvah to be buried directly in the ground may allude to regrowth into a tree. Also in synagogues the memory plaque boards are sometimes shaped in the form of a tree and referred to as a tree of life memorial foundation. Sometimes they are in columns more like the kabbalistic tree of life arrangement. When returning the Torah to the ark, we say the Etz Chaim, Tree of Life prayer. Her words are as follows:

Text 24-16: Etz Chaim prayer
Eits chayim hi lamachazikim ba,
Vetomecheha me-ushar.

Deracheha - d'rechei no-am,
Vechol netivotecha shalom...

Hashiveinu Adonai eilecha v'nashuva

Chadeish chadeish yameinu k'kedem
Chadeish chadeish yameinu k'kedem...
She is a tree of life to those who hold fast to it,
and all who cling to it find happiness.

Its ways are ways of pleasantness,
and all its paths are peace.

Return us Lord to you and we will be repentant. (Alternative interpretive: Help us and guide us, inspire us and provide us with the wisdom Your Torah can show.)
Cause us to learn, renew and return,
Just as in days of old.

‘The Tree of Life is a universal symbol found in many spiritual traditions around the world. It symbolizes life itself, with its branches joining “Father Sky” in the heavens and its roots with “Mother Earth.”’[2612] The waters have their source in heaven; hence sometimes it is depicted inverted with its roots drawing nourishment from above.

Text 24-17: Bahir 22 – Aryeh Kaplan translation
All agree that none were created on the first day. It should therefore not be said that
Michael drew out the heaven at the south, and Gabriel drew it out at the north, while God
arranged things in the middle.

It is thus written (Isaiah 44:24), "I am God, I make all, I stretch out the heavens alone, the
earth is spread out before Me." [Even though we read the verse "from Me" (May-iti), it can
also be read] Mi iti -- "Who was with Me?"

I am the One who planted this tree in order that all the world should delight in it. And in it, I
spread All.

I called it All because all depend upon it, all emanate from it, and all need it. To it they look,
for it they wait, and from it, souls fly in joy.

Alone was I when I made it. Let no angel rise above it and say, "I was before you."
I was also alone when I spread out My earth, in which I planted and rooted this tree. I made
them rejoice together, and I rejoiced in them.

"Who was with Me?" To whom have I revealed this mystery?
Kaplan’s orthodox commentary demythasizes the aeon, ‘The Tree here refers to the entire array of Sefirot (see 6, 119). It especially alludes to the final seven Sefirot. “All” refers to the Sefirah of Yesod-Foundation. The final seven Sefirot are alluded to in the verse, “Yours, O God, are the Greatness, the Strength, the Beauty, the Victory and the Splendor, for All in heven and earth, Yours O God is the Kingdom ...” (I Chronicles 29:11). This verse names the Sefirot, and here, Yesod-Foundation is referred to as “All.” (Also see 78). This Sefirah is called All, since through it must flow all spiritual sustenance. This Sefirah also parallels the sexual organ in man. It is through the sex act that new human beings are born, and souls transmitted to the world. Yesod-Foundation parallels this function insofar as it is the source of all souls (see 180).’[2613] In Hasidic thought, G-d’s first creation is the Torah, which is the blueprint for the rest of creation.

In Jewish Kabbalah the Tree of Life has three crowns: Keter, Hochmah, and Binah. In the world of Atzulut – Emanation, the Tree is viewed with its roots on high and its branches extending below.

Figure 24-1: Inverted Kabbalistic Tree of Life

In China, it is called Po and has 9 suns with the 10th atop in a chariot drawn by dragons. In Egypt the Tree of Life provided food for the gods, thus keeping them alive. The Egyptians took the idea of the Tree of Life from the Sumerians who seem to have brought it from the East. They set the tree in their paradise. Early humans regarded the Tree as the storehouse of the sun’s fire.[2614] That wood produced fire drew the connection between the Sun and the Tree. Sunshine is the source of life in the world, which the wood of the tree was seen to store up. The ten deities of Egypt corresponded to ten locations of the World Tree.

Text 24-18: Alexander Holub on the Tree of Life
The Tree of Life is the World Tree: the tree from which the world is made. It is
the growth from the seed, to sprout and roots, to trunk and branches, leaves, flowers, and
fruit which characterizes the entire universal process of growth that the World Tree, the
Tree of Life represents. In Tibet, the Tree of Life is seen as having 3 summits and 6
branches with a bird laying an egg on each branch. In China it is called “po” or Hollow
Mulberry. It has 9 suns in its lower branches and the 10th climbs to the top taking its
place in a chariot drawn by dragons. But from where did these concepts have their roots?

Well, if we go into probably the oldest of the spiritual systems, from India, that is,
the Indus valley where many consider the actual cradle of civilization to be, we can begin
to see the nativity of this idea. In one of the Upanishads it states that the Tree of Life is
“...the ancient Tree, whose roots grow upward, and whose branches grow
downward...that is called Brahman...All worlds are contained in it, and no one goes
beyond.”[2615] If we go even further back, back into prehistory, we find that the tree itself was
regarded as the storehouse of the sun’s fire by the early humans. After all, what do you get
when you rub two sticks together? Fire! Also, don’t forget that the sun gives life to
everything on the earth.

So, then, it looks like the Tree of Life concept, with which we have most
familiarity, came out of India. From there it spread through the Fertile Crescent, through
ancient Sumer and the Middle East. From Sumer, the Egyptians took up the idea. We
know this because, historically, Sumer was the oldest of the western civilizations.
Mythologically, we can also find many counterparts in the Egyptian system to the
Sumerian system.

Figure 24-2: Brahman and three devas ancient tree

Text 24-19: Wikipedia Inverted Tree of Life
Another form, the inverted Tree, represents spiritual growth, as well as the human nervous system. This tree, with its roots in heaven, and its branches growing downward, is most commonly found in Kabbalistic imagery. A similar tree is mentioned in the Vedic Bhagavad Gita: “The banyan tree with its roots above, and its branches below, is imperishable.” In Jewish Kabbalah, the inverted tree represents the nervous system as well- the ‘root’ in the cranial nerves, with the branches spreading throughout the body; it also represents the cosmic tree- rooted in heaven, the branches all of manifest creation.
Figure 24-3: Peace sign as an inverted tree


Overall it would appear odd that a large tree would be a symbol for a desert people where so few if any such trees would be found. Hence the motifs in the story of the Garden of Eden and ultimately the kabbalistic idea of the Tree of Life hold a secret of historical development from another land.

Figure 24-4: Inverted tree with the Magician

Here the Inverted Tree is shown with the Magician.

Text 24-20: Kuzari 93
Then God tended them in Egypt, multiplied and aggrandised them, as a tree with a sound root grows until it produces perfect fruit, resembling the first fruit from which it was planted, viz. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph and his brethren. The seed further produced Moses, Aaron and Miriam, Bezaleel, Oholiab, and the chiefs of the tribes, the seventy Elders, who were all endowed with the spirit of prophecy; then Joshua, Kaleb, Hur, and many others.
The first fruit is the messianic image of Adam Kadmon, the Tree of Life, and the Torah.

[2549] Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson.
[2550] See Text 24-1: Thomas Jefferson p.1029
[2551] Michael Walton z”l, Purim 5762.
[2552] Terry
[2553] Ibid
[2554] Mehitzah
[2555] Based on Terry’s ideas on Purim 5762.
[2556] See Text 22-7
[2557] Ramban considered Hezekiah the messiah.
[2558] The Bible As It Was, James Kugel, Harvard Press, 1997, page 558.
[2559] Meditative answer to whether sin transfer occurs with the high priest confessing the sins of Israel and ‘giving’ the sins to the head of the goat.
[2561] Aryeh Rosenfeld, Breslov, Lecture Gittin (divorce) 56A
[2562] see also the Chapter on Religions.
[2563] In Gnosticism, there are 365 of these with the highest one ruled by the angel Abraxas.
[2564] Encyclopedia of Angels, Rosemary Ellen Guiley, Facts on File, 1996, page 71.
[2565] A text quoted in the Bible itself containing a retelling of the story of Genesis.
[2566] Michael Walton, 1/20/02.
[2567] Soncino Talmud, Mas. T’mura 16a
[2568] Soncino Talmud note: Through the holy spirit, that these forgotten laws should be taught anew (R. Gershom).
[2569] Ibid: Deut. XXX, 12. The whole Torah has already been given.
[2570] Ibid: Num. XXXVI, 13
[2571] Form is at the level of Yetzirah as opposed to create, which is at the level of Beriyah.
[2572] The finite Universe is now ever expanding from the Big Bang into eventual desolate space.
[2573] Written Torah composed of the Five Books of Moses, the Prophets, and Writings
[2574] Dialectic – Proposed Answer (thesis), follow up questions and analysis (antithesis), solution (synthesis). Suggestion, questioning, and answering approach found throughout the Talmud in halachic derivation.
[2575] Hermeneutical – Explanatory, expository, interpretive, illustrative. For example, Rabbi Ishmael’s rules for expounding the Torah are hermeneutical rules. “Gadamer argues that a historian’s own situation plays a role in determining the content of his interpretation of a historical event, i.e., a historian’s own “prejudices” constitute necessary conditions for historical understanding.”
[2576] Yacov Neuman, Salt Lake City, Utah, (801) 581-9269. Yacov holds that there is only truth when there is doubt. Every great theory holds a counter theory. see Britannica Talmud and Midrash Article
[2577] Soncino Talmud, Mas. T’mura 16a
[2578] Pilpul in the Aramaic, a type of reasoning by example
[2579] Soncino Talmud – Mas. Baba Metzia 59a-59b
[2580] This word in Aramaic, וברכוהו, means they excommunicated him.
[2581] Soncino Talmud note: I.e., commit a great wrong by informing him tactlessly and brutally.
[2582] Soncino Talmud note: The Nasi and the prime mover in the ban against R. Eliezer.
[2583] Soncino Talmud note: Ima Shalom feared that her husband might pour out his grief and feeling of injury in these prayers, and that God, listening to them, would punish R. Gamaliel, her brother.
[2584] Berachot 28A
[2585] Isaiah 30:7 and 45:20.
[2586] Berachot 28B
[2587] see Compound Number 18, Amidah
[2588] Soncino Talmud note: So Rashi in Hor. 13a. Jast.: because his original character is bad — into which evil treatment might cause him to relapse.
[2589] In those cases where they differ
[2590] The motto of the Las Vegas Jewish News
[2591] see 72 Letter Name
[2592] Soncino Talmud note: Scripture and its complementary Oral Instruction, with special reference to the latter.
[2593] Ibid: ‘Joshua received from Moses’. The transmission and reception were done orally. All evidence goes to show that there was a continuous succession of ‘schools’ headed by the Elders, prophets and scribes of their respective generations, which maintained and developed the theoretical study and practical application of the Torah. For a full examination of the terms Mussar (transmitted) and Kabbalah (received) v. Bacher, Tradition und Tradenten, p. 1.
[2594] Ibid: The Elders that outlived Joshua, Judges II, 7. ‘Elders’ in this Mishnah includes the Judges.
[2595] Ibid: Kenesseth hagedolah: A body of 120 men founded by the leaders of the Jews who returned from the Babylonian captivity.
[2596] Ibid: Whereby reverence for, the knowledge of, and the inviolability of the Torah might be secured (cf. Rashi).
[2597] Ibid: The Torah is conceived as a garden and its precepts as precious plants. Such a garden is fenced round for the purpose of obviating wilful or even unintended damage. Likewise, the precepts of the Torah were to be ‘fenced’ round with additional inhibitions that should have the effect of preserving the original commandments from trespass.
[2598] Akiba, Scholar Saint and Martyr, Louis Finkelstein, p.40, 43
[2599] Jerusalem, Israel – ‘Fire of the Torah’
[2600] QUMRAN and the HISTORY of the BIBLICAL TEXT, article “Biblical Scrolls of Qumran”, Patrick W. Skehan, ed. Frank Moore Cross and Shemaryahu Talmon, Harvard Press, page 277
[2601] QUMRAN and the HISTORY of the BIBLICAL TEXT, article “Contribution of the Qumran Discoveries”, Frank Cross, ed. Frank Moore Cross and Shemaryahu Talmon, p. 280
[2602] Same as syncope – the removing, loss, or abbreviation of a syllable from the center of a word,
[2603] Herman Spiegel, 1/1/04 at SLC Chabad.
[2604] Encyclopedia Britannica 1998.
[2605] Yossi Mendel of SLC Chabad explained that the German Jewish community which had moved toward reform secularism felt little affinity for the Damascus Jewish community at the time.
[2607] Senator Joseph Biden’s interview on KSL.
[2608] My father’s explanation to me on why I do not understand world politics well is because I do not read this paper carefully. I agree, maybe I will one day.
[2610] Translated in Origins of Kabbalah, Gersholm Sholem, p.71
[2611] Ibid.
[2612] Source uncertain
[2613] Bahir, Aryey Kaplan, Part 2, p.101
[2614] Alexander Holub, Origins of Kabbalah
[2615] See Messiah and Snake p.1106 on deva that is divine.

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