Archive for September, 2013|Monthly archive page
Maybe you have been in the Paperlessworld before. Maybe you have read about the Akdedah. What has never been brought up until now is the connection of Noah to the story. Oh, there has been mention of who was Abraham, as well as who was Sarah.
“Welcome to the Dormady Academy of Detection. This semester we will be using as text The Lost by Daniel Mendelsohn. As your will read, Mendelsohn is fond of quoting a twelfth century rabbi, on the meaning of the Book of Genesis. ‘The key issue for Rashi is that the wrong reading suggests an incorrect chronology of Creation: That God created the heavens and then the earth, then light, and so forth. But this is not how it happened, Rashi says. If you get the small details wrong, the big picture will be wrong too.’” https://paperlessworld.wordpress.com/2013/09/20/noahs-wife/
It is Daniel Mendelsohn who observes, “The story which began with Creation which is and was the story of the acts of distinguishing one thing from another, but ends by alluding to the… distinction between a man and a woman knowing God.” This is the most crucial distinction of all.
To unquestioningly buy it: war, slavery, religion, if not God. And so the Akedah in which the real main character is Isaac. The story begins with Creation which is the story of the acts of distinguishing. When we inherit and accept things, and eventually one day our sons and daughters quit the act of distinguishing.
And so the story of Abraham, when who is gonna remember another death, like Isaac’s? And why would you make this stuff up? With God somehow sharing in Abraham’s suffering. When in the words of Gene Tiffany, discerning the dignity of suffering, as suffering delivers us to a new place, and suffering is never below a creature of God.
When suffering brought its own dignity, even to a nomad like me. Note all the things which allow a nomad to travel, not unlike the things which allow a man to retire: money, food, wheels, or some form of transport. And so Abraham, the descendant of Noah. So who was Noah? What do you know about Noah?
Daniel Mendelsohn adds much to the picture of Noah, by reviewing each and every word of the story.
Marked. Noah’s wife. Abraham. The connection of self-esteem to work,or the lack thereof. The connection to slavery. The sweat of the brow, and the suffering.
There was a recognized everyday need, when you were marked, by what others saw. With all the seem-to-be ends in the stories… of Cain. Or of Noah’s world. Not much different than the moments when the Akedah story seems about to present the end of Isaac, if not of God, as revealed to Abraham.
Was there not a missing interest, by the majority of other folk alive at the time, in the God of Abraham? And was this not a threat to the future, in the apathy in a world when everybody spanked their kids?
The seen and the unseen. Like a ghost stealing your consciousness, the clouds really did get in the way of a spiritual journalist.
Most surprises are negative. Creation and the always differences between what you set out to make and what you make. Ask a parent. It cannot be all in technique. You gotta try to say something.
Recognizing the theme in the first chapter of Genesis “to separate,” note from the stories how heroes attempt to separate “my creation” from the rest of creation? And thus the developing concept of “CHOSEN” from all the rest. If there had not been a need for a connection to Cain, was there a need in the stories for a connection to Noah’s wife who was the one descendant after the story of the second creation connected back to Cain? In a world where most surprises are negative, did you ever wonder if Cain got spanked?
Note the marked fertility. Why had Abraham marked his slaves, Hagar’s son, and Sarah’s son? Just like Cain had been marked. And just liked Noah’s wife had been marked on her forehead which was the first thing any stranger would remember about her. So had the real appeal of Noah, to God, been in his wife? Or had the over-powering appeal of Noah to God been, as the just man of his generation, connected to whom he had chosen as his wife? And at this point, there was not enough attention to the story, at least by Christians like me who had embezzled the story of Noah, but had never thought enough about the inside meaning in the story.
“Noah, if you want to do mankind a greater service, tell funnier jokes.” Because Noah sure comes across as rather bland.
Somehow that line is connected to Allen Konigsberg. But hadn’t it been Noah’s wife who first asked Noah why the chicken had crossed the road?
A nomad who had been born of Noah’s nameless wife, without laws and commandments, but only norms. The movement in the story of a man without borders, moving amid strangers with danger. Note the insiders and the outsiders in the story of migrant nomads, after the ark landed, in a world without borders. Trace the connection of blood to bonds. The sons of Noah’s wife all had names. And so much like her forefather, Cain, it is said that the wife of Noah had a large distinguishing mark on her forehead, since the time of birth. Like Gorbachov? But in times of greater illiteracy and belief in luck, did the neighbors believe — with group thinking and collective behavior — this was some kind of mark of a witch?
And so the story of Noah’s wife, when who is gonna remember another birth, or the mother’s over-powering pain of childbirth, unknown, unreflected upon? The unreflected upon pain of over-powering sacrifice which seemed to cross the line, if not the road which perhaps Abraham had so quietly inherited, from the nameless wife of Noah?
The seen and the unseen. To be marked just a little more invisibly. And so the connection of the two – between a distinguishing past and a future of the WORLD – of the nameless wife of Noah to not only Abram but to Sarai.
Was it about what was fashionable at the time? Maybe if you had attended the Dormady Academy of Detection you would also have recognized the blood associated of Noah’s wife to Sarai, whose name after all would come to mean “laughing” — or her son’s name did. With a great need maybe for funnier jokes.
Did you note the nameless wife of Noah, who had outlived the nasty neighbors, knew why the chickens were crossing the road. Because it was gonna rain like hell.
Copyright © 2013.
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bring them all to the Lord:
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Rosh Hashanah in 2013 is a celebration of that kind of deep inter-connectedness and inter-dependence which begins in New York City in about five minutes, and where I live in 60 minutes. In a modern story of conversion, Rosh Hashanah was a day of remembrance, much more important than the day coming up in seven days, about what happened in 2001. The themes of both dates seem to be the inter-connectedness of sacrifice to annihilation, involving the future and my personal fertility.
I think it fair to deduce that those brought up in a Universal church were supposed to believe in Universal law. For everyone. This was the theology of the Catholic church that many Catholics had a hard time swallowing — social justice for everyone. Who would be paying for it? There are various degrees in belief, like in Sharia law, if you believed in the eye-for-an-eye justice — who was paying for it — like for Syria, whether there should be punishment for everyone within their borders for having waged their own Civil War, between the Sunnis and the Shiites, now with chemical weapons; with germ warfare. Sacrificing more Syrians for the death of the innocent.
After the story begins with Creation which is the story of the acts of distinguishing one thing from another, here now is Abraham as THE heroic human figure in the Bible, after the Second Creation. It is of note that God uses story to communicate from age to age, from east to west. So on another Rosh Hashanah –the Jewish new Year — what exactly had Abraham ever really given up in the story of The Akedah? In his entire life, what had Abraham really ever given up? Here was a man so concerned with the purity of his lineage, before he ever had kids, who had gone looking within his father’s home for a bride. Why had he moved away from home in the first place? Clearly movement was part of his life – the prime part of his life. So at one point he wanted his own homeland? For what? For what reason?
To have to write it all down: the sequence, in a modern story of conversion, that your reach should exceed your grasp. Abraham and his lost control, like mine? Not unlike the spirituality of bees, there were homes and homelands as well as nomads like me who never wanted be weighed down. That was the inner struggle of a nomad — until you had a girl, who might have told you she was pregnant. There was the pain to be alone with your fertility. Is’t it funny how talkative women want to live with contemplative men?
“Why do you really care who my God is, Sarah?”
So by the end of this Akedah story, Isaac is saved. With how my contemplation has gone over the past four years, Rosh Hashanah asks the question once again, that Abraham always seemed to be asking his sons, WHAT are YOU doing with MY tradition? Are you saving it,or sharing it, or letting it die? As your interest in the past is supplanted by your fascination with the future — Abraham surgically removing foreskin on all his slaves as well as his sons — which you made claim to through fertility, which Abraham made claim to through his son, with both of his sons. Like God made claim to, if you were Christian, through His son. And the followers of Mohammud considered all of us infidels, unless you prayed like the descendants of Ishmael. So did you believe that morality was universal, or did you believe, like I believe, that morality was relative – maybe that salvation was mostly relative – passed down through generations, like in the stories of the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament)? Here now is the father of faith, Abraham, as THE heroic human figure in the Bible. And I wonder what he thinks about how all of his sons got along in human history, distinguishing one son from another, in a modern story of conversion. Making people pay, as Isaac was gonna pay, maybe like for Obamacare, in a story concerning private belief and public policy.
You can look at how my contemplation has gone over the past four years, about how private deceit led to public shame when Abraham got home. And the story has been passed down ever since. To be born as a descendant of Noah and Noah’s wife, in a world in need of saving, was there a fair amount of shame to claim that his God had led him to Mount Moriah to sacrifice his son, in this story read on Rosh Hashanah — about one father, one son and one woman — a loving wife and mother:
In the need to get the message out, in the need for the story to be spread to people with more and more leisure time, food, travel, education, there was the packaging … conveniently instead of with suffering, in a story. Everything was more convenient than what a nomad had to live with. Maybe except for love, and its formation. Note the suffering between a husband and his wife that came out of a relationship with an Egyptian servant girl had grown into the suffering between a father and his son (Abraham-Isaac), or over his two sons. Until finally the suffering between a father and his family that came out of a relationship with a woman from another tribe had grown into the suffering between a father and his sons (Isaac-Jacob),or over his two sons. Until this suffering between a father and a son had grown into suffering between a father and his family, until finally the story grew into, has grown into suffering between a father and all people. Between Christians and Jews, between the Judeo-Christian world and the Muslim one.
And so the Atonement, for Abraham. Over your realization of how much Hagar and Ishmael hated you — or about Sarah, who you had almost an incestral relationship as your wife— passing on everything in an arrangement that she had planned about your family. Did you recognize God in all of the deep suffering, in these stories? Did you see the human deception in the arrangements, with a need to hold onto something. The things in a modern story of conversion which affect perspective: speed, the distance, and all the senses that perceive.
Did you recognize the deep anguish in the story? It used to be more evident in my life with the way the day Friday was distinguished from all the rest. It was due to more and more convenience that the world lost a connection to the deep anguish. The suffering between a father and a son (Abraham-Isaac) had grown into suffering between a father and son (Jacob and Joseph) over the loss of a mother/wife. Note the slight evolution in the perspective in the stories, between generations. In a story after story about ‘something’ missing between one father, one son and one loving wife and mother. So how would the descendants deal with missing rain, or missing food? And always the movement in the story of the descendants of nomads. The threat to all the tribe, if you learned how to diagram the sentences, seemed to be about a missing love.
Rosh Hashanah in 2013. To have to write it all down, in story of the celebration of a kind of old deep inter-connectedness and inter-dependence, but much more about a personal anguish. So hear once again this story and feel the deep anguish in the story, as the world tries to decide what to do about Syria, and a war that seemed to be starting in about five minutes in New York, or maybe in an hour where I live.
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Being secure in one’s ‘papers’ in a paperless world