Thursday, November 11, 2010

I,i - Thoughts on Vayeitzei And and and

I'm giving myself ten minutes to post - but I have extra time. That's a teacher's joke, which is not a joke. As I type, Hillary Hillary Clinton is talking on NPR about how Israeli's and Palestinians need to not undermine trust. This came right after a story about trauma suffered but US was veterans. I want to hear more about that report (no offense to Michelle Kelemen). I think we as individuals and a country would be better off if we took this day more seriously: moments of silence, public gatherings, etc...

A dear friend, back in 1991, sent me G-d was in this Place & I, i did not know: Finding SELF, SPIRITUALITY, and ULTIMATE MEANING. I wanted to tell you about this book, but I used up most of my time replicating the title. The book was new back then and my friend mailed it to me with this inscription: "I believe that you will enjoy this immensely. I wanted it to be a Chanukah gift, but it was back-ordered and I just received it. Take Care, Jeff."

It's a book by Lawrence Kushner, dedicated to his brother Steven. According to the acknowledments "this book grew from a short essay by the late Alexander Altman of Brandeis University, 'G-d and the Self in Jewish Mysticism' that appeared in Judaism, 1954." In a broad, poetic, creative, amorphous way the book looks from different angles at the words that Ya'akov says after his dream.

Kushner writes, "Jacob's words sound simple enough. A man lies down in what he considers a G-d-forsaken place and unexpectedly has one of the great visions of the Hebrew Bible. The next morning he says what any normal person might say after such an encounter. Indeed his words are so reasonable that, were it not for the sustained attention of generations of teachers from second-generation Palestine to eighteenth century Russia, we might even ignore them. Real human beings who ate breakfast, caught colds, and had to earn a living, they all shared the biblical text and therefore (in some mysterious way, I believe) a conversation with Jacob that has been faithfully handed down to us."

I wonder why, as meticulous as he seems to be in the translation of this line, Lawrence Kushner left out the first word of the sentence: "achen - surely." The Ohr HaChayim HaKadosh raises the question of why Yaakov starts with this word which seems to say that something hidden was revealed to him. Also, the Ohr HaChayim wonders why it sounds like - in saying, "and I didn't know" - that Ya'akov assumes that he expected to know all secrets.

What are your thoughts on this line,or on anything else?


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