Sunday, March 19, 2006

Migillah Meme

Chana has tagged me with the megillah meme.

I'm not sure what the rules of the game are, so I guess I'll just follow my flow of consciousness and see how it goes.

This Purim, I thought about:


My oldest daughter, who is studying in Israel, and the fact that she will be celebrating Shushan Purim. Which got me thinking about...

...how complicated the discussion in the Talmud is about which cities read the Megillah on which days. Which got me thinking about a weird thing in the discussion where...

... in trying to figure out if Tiberius was walled during the time of Joshua, the Talmud says: "ומי פשיטא ליה דטבריא מוקפת חומה מימות יהושע בן נון והא חזקיה קרי בטבריא בארביסר ובחמיסר", that Hezekia read the Megillah there on both days, proving that it was in doubt. (Megillah 5b). Which is very strange, since Hezekiah lived at least 200 years before Purim. (Has anyone seen any discussions on this?) Which got me thinking about...

...how strange it is that there is such a long discussion of Purim, but only about half a page on Channukah in Shabbos. Which got me thinking about...

...Whether Chazal (the Rabbis of the Talmud) really had it in for the Hashmonaem, who were very likely Sadduceas, or at least had the ambition of a Priestly monarchy. (Which Chazal would not approve of, since they are not from the tribe of Juda.) Which would help explain why 'Esther' was accepted into the Canon, while 'Macabeas' didn't make the cut. Which got me thinking about...

... how it always seems to me that Judaism during the Second Temple period was splitting into two religion's; one based on the Temple, sacrifices and priests and one based on study and prayer. And that ultimately, with the loss of the Temple, that former branch of the religion was wiped out, which ended up being a good thing for Judaism, since a pagan-like religion could not have been sustained. Which got me thinking about about...

...how it even seems to me that the Torah itself contains two very different religions; one centering on animal sacrifices, Priestly rituals, ritual purity and kohanic gifts, and the other based on the formula of the Ten commandments and the establishment of Civil law and moral codes of conduct. And thought about how it makes sense to me...

...that the story line really is that Moses envisioned a much less pagan-like religion, and tried to do away with all of the pagan rituals which had been adopted in Egypt and Canaan. And that, perhaps, when the incident of the Golden Calf occurred, he realized that he would not be able to pull it off. So, he appointed his own family priests and selectively adopted pagan rituals. (A little Parshas Parah drasha.) And that, actually....

...this isn't completely different from some of the ideas in Chazal that the Tabernacle/red heifer, etc.. Are 'atonement' for the sin of the Golden Calf. And that...

...Orthodox Jews pray so feverntly for the restoration of the temple and the sacrifices, but that they have no idea how bizzare those practices would be in modern times. One thing that Chazal got right was prohibiting the re-building of the Temple by human means. They, at least, understood that the world had moved past paganism. And, that made me think again how...

...to me, this is just one more case of fitting a bunch of square pegs in round holes, and how a relatively small change in thinking can make such a vast difference in outlook Which got me thinking about...

...ow huge the gulf in mind-set is between believers and non-believers. Which of course, got me thinking about...

...My daughter, and how much I love her and miss her and my other children.

May these days be transformed "מִיָּגוֹן לְשִׂמְחָה, וּמֵאֵבֶל לְיוֹם טוֹב ", "from grief to joy, from mourning to celebration" for all of us.

Happy Purim

8 Comments:

Blogger BarbaraFromCalifornia said...

Amen....

Missing a child who goes abroad to study is difficult. My son went to Sydney Australia, and then to Isreal. Now, he lives in Hawaii. Thankfully, there are telephones and the internet!

You are a great encyclopedia of Talmudic knowledge! Please see my latest post, and if you have any relevant Talmudic passages, I would appreciate your input.

March 19, 2006 4:40 PM  
Blogger the sabra said...

interesting

March 21, 2006 8:10 AM  
Blogger Foilwoman said...

This is such a closed world to an outsider. Interesting, but hard to comprehend.

March 21, 2006 10:06 AM  
Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

No mention of the Documentary Hypothesis with all this priestly vs. non-priestly stuff?

:-) Good post, though.

March 22, 2006 9:10 PM  
Blogger Der Alter from YU said...

The Hezekiah on Megilla 5b is Hezekiah the Amora, not Hezekiah the king. See Gittin 53a for another reference to him, where he disagrees with Rav Yochanan.

March 26, 2006 10:33 PM  
Blogger dbs said...

alter,

Thanks. My faith is restored. :)

March 27, 2006 10:46 AM  
Blogger Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

Very interesting post!

But this is a little inaccurate:

>One thing that Chazal got right was prohibiting the re-building of the Temple by human means.

There were at least two attempts to do just that. Obviously the Bar Kokhba rebellion, but there was also a later attempt in the 4th century. The Roman emperor Jvlian the Apostate (to paganism) granted the Jews permission to rebuild the Temple (to stick it to the Christians) and the Jews mounted a worldwide collection campaign to do this. They absolutely were going to rebuild the Temple, but Julian died and the next emperor was Christian and nixed it.

April 04, 2006 8:58 AM  
Blogger dbs said...

Fred,

You know, I always assumed that the saying "b'aish tichorev u'b'aish taitid livneh" (or something like that) was talmudic. I've been looking for it and have no idea (Medrash Rabah?) where it's from.

In any case, you are right. With Bar Kochbah (or prior), I guess there would have been a strong concesus to rebuild. With Julian (which I had no idea about until I saw your comment) there seems to already be much contraversy among chazal, although the enthusiasm of the people would probably have won the day.

I'm very out of my depth here and a little intimidated. I've never even really learned much yerushalmi.

April 04, 2006 4:11 PM  

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