Monday, July 23, 2007

RWAC Talks Back To God

As part of my belief that God is a trickster deity, I believe that God throws challenges our way not so that we will put up and shut up and just try and make it through, but so that we will fight back and challenge the righteousness of the universe. It's our job to stand up to God, as God's contract-mates, and say what in Your world do You think You're doing?

In that spirit, the Rabbi Without A Cause does not go softly into the burning night.

Something to think about, while sitting on the floor.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Could you elaborate a little further on the trickster deity thing? I know you've discussed it before, but I don't remember a definitive post.

7/23/2007 2:24 PM  
Blogger thanbo said...

>challenges ... so that we will fight back ...

There's a Reform guy on another email list (OCR-Jewish) who believes that Avraham failed the test at the Akeidah. Just as he argued at the destruction of Sdom, he should have argued against the sacrifice of his son. Instead, he goes quietly and does what God says. He supports this by noting that God never speaks directly to Avraham again - he only gets messages from angels.

The traditional explanation was that regarding Sdom, Avraham was a third party, but at the Akeidah, he was directly commanded.

Alternatively, this was *a* correct outcome; but not the *best* outcome. He gets a 'C', so he only gets angelic messages from then on; had he argued back, he would have gotten an 'A'.

7/23/2007 3:40 PM  
Blogger The back of the hill said...

Tzom kal lachem u lechol beis Yisroel.

7/23/2007 9:44 PM  
Anonymous Greg said...

Avraham's arguing at Sdom didn't change anything.

7/24/2007 7:37 PM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...


i'll try and write a post about it soon


i've heard that Ahad Haam had the same interpretation about Avraham failing the test




sometimes ya gotta take a stand even if it doesn't end up changing anything

7/24/2007 7:48 PM  
Blogger Lipman said...

Avrohm evine failing the test - that's a chasidic peiresh. Unfortunately, I always forget which rebbe said it. (Chances are the last time I asked my source, I wrote it in some comment or on A/A.)

7/25/2007 6:07 AM  
Anonymous Mar Gavriel said...

Kotzker, no?

But it already appears in a piyyut by Qallir. See Professoressa Elizur's article החטא אברהם אבינו בעקדו את יצחק? in עקדת יצחק לזרעו (תשסג).

7/25/2007 11:02 AM  
Blogger Lipman said...

Thanks, I didn't know about the article (and the piyyut).

7/26/2007 5:10 AM  
Anonymous Elie said...

Two points. First, I have a very different understanding of the akeida, which I posted about here. In a nutshell, I see the akeida not as a test of Abraham's obedience, but of his trust in God and his response to loss, which from his POV had already occurred as soon as the order was given.

In terms of the post you linked, the lines quoted from Chazon are one of many such prophesies, by several different prophets, condemning insincere worship. Some modern analogies could be:

1) Nasty, obnoxious "machers" who lord it over, embarrass and humiliate any Jew not in their little club, but who give big donations to the shul/yeshiva.

2) Frumly-dressed, allegedly chareidi men who barely ever look/talk with their wives, but visit hookers.

3) People who cheat on their taxes or do insider trading, get sent to jail and ask for kosher food there.

I'm sure you can think of your own favorite examples.

Should God's rejection of the outward, show religiosity of incredible hypocrites like these, as noted by Yishayahu, really be a cause for anger on our parts? Quite the contrary, I think his point is to make us share the Divine disgust with such people, and strive to avoid such hypocrisy ourselves.

7/30/2007 11:48 AM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...


I also had problems with the context of the quote, because it's obvious that what Yesha‘yahu is complaining about is serious.

But i liked the way RWAC dealt with it after taking it out of context.

7/30/2007 3:36 PM  
Blogger Elie said...

Agree - I'm not offended by the concept of challenging God. I definitely have a few questions of my own...

7/30/2007 10:02 PM  
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