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"For Instruction shall come forth from Zion, The word of the L-rd from Jerusalem." -- Isaiah 2:3

Jerusalem

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GENESIS — 1:26 likeness

(Continued from Deuteronomy 10:19 stranger COHON 207-8). It is in the Priestly Code that the brotherhood of man may be said to have attained the status of a fundamental conviction. Here it appears in its characteristic form as corollary to monotheistic belief. The Divine process of creation reached its climax in Adam, whom G-d fashioned in His own likeness, and who became the father of the entire human race [this verse ff.; 5:1 ff). When in consequence of their corruption, his descendants were swept away by the destructive flood, the righteous Noah and his sons were spared to become the progenitors of the new humanity. Shem, Ham and Japhet are presented as the fathers of all the nations of antiquity (Genesis 10:1 ff). Consequently all men of whatever race, color or speech are basically brothers. The priestly genealogist seeks further to establish the bonds of kinship between Israel and the neighboring Semitic peoples, the Aramaeans, the sons of Keturah, the descendants of Ishmael, the offspring of Lot and the Edomites (Genesis 22:20-24; 25:1-18; 36). In addition the covenant relationships of the Patriarchs with a non-Semitic Philistines are stressed (Genesis 21:22-23; 26:26-31).  COHON 207-8
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GENESIS — 1:31 and

It is the long rather than the short view of history that reveals the workings of G-d. Through suffering and judgment man moves toward the Messianic goal of triumphant righteousness and perfect felicity. The rabbis, as we’ve indicated above, found further comfort in the belief that the injustices of this life will be righted in the next. The doctrine of otherworldly compensation in a heaven and hell is largely derived from the human craving for a final balance. Accordingly Rabbi Simeon ben Lakish interpreted the Divine approbation of creation in the words “Behold, it is very good” [this verse] as applying to this world, and the additional conjunction “and” which precedes these words (“and behold, it is very good”) as referring to the hereafter. G-d beheld both worlds at one glance. The present order is completed by the next. In the words of Robert Browning: “Here, a broken arc, there a perfect whole.” R. Meir interpreted the same text, “And behold, it is very good” as applying to death. Other masters applied it to the evil inclination, to suffering, to Gehenna and to retribution. Genesis Rabbah 9:5-13 Seemingly evil, they all serve useful purposes in the Divine order. “No evil comes from above.”  Genesis Rabbah 51:3; Tanhuma, Buber, Vayera 18. Nahum of Gimzo’s moto, “This too is for the best” – gam zu letobah, Taanit 21a expresses the optimistic note in Judaism. R. Akiba teaches similarly, “Whatever G-d does is for the best.” Berachot 60b  It forms part of the Divine law of compensation. “There is no death without sin, and no suffering without iniquity.” Shabbat 55a  While coming as punishments, both have atoning power. The pious prized suffering because it purges men of sin.  The afflictions of the righteous are but blessings in disguise. They are the chastisements of love, visiting man in this life that he may be purified of the effects of evil and prepared for the bliss of the hereafter. Kiddushin 40a, b; also Berachot 5b; Sifre, Deuteronomy 307. COHON 56-7
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GENESIS — 1:31 very good

As the ethics of a religion that strives after sanctification of life rather than its suppression, Jewish Ethics does not set itself up in invariable opposition to nature. Much that is natural and material is good. Indeed, according to the Genesis account, the whole of creation was appraised by the Creator as very good [this verse]. Nature’s laws are viewed as divinely implanted. The laws that control heaven and earth, sun, moon and stars, the sea and the deep operate also in the lives of men.  The laws of the Torah have their counterpart in the laws of nature.  Such, for example, is the law of retribution. Genesis Rabbah I:1. Leviticus Rabbah, Behukkotai, ch. 35:1ff; Tanhuma, Genesis I,1.   At the same time, the rabbis recognized that the moral laws cannot always be identified with the laws of nature. A man steals a measure of wheat and sows in his field. From the standpoint of the moral law, the wheat should not grow, but nature pursues its own course in total oblivion of the legitimate or illegitimate ways in which the grain was secured. Avodah Zarah 54b Furthermore nature has to be curbed before it serves the purposes of man. It is cruel, destructive and wasteful of life. The typhoon and the earthquake, the tiger and the python are parts of nature as well as man. The laws governing them obviously cannot apply to human beings. Human life itself is torn between conflicting tendencies. Savage instincts are no less real than good impulses. Cannibalism, murder and bestiality are matched by self-sacrifice, charity and humanity. Egotism, avarice and lechery exist by the side of altruism, generosity and self-discipline. Tendencies of destruction thwart the dependencies of construction. The passions, while neither good nor evil in themselves, may be employed as instruments of either godly or satanic ends. In other words, morality is the creation of man and represents the flower of his reason, conscience and religious spirit.  While for analytical purposes ethics is content with the study of the springs of human behavior and their expression, for practical ends of directing the lives of men, it is more exacting. Not what is being done, but what ought to be done constitutes its measure of value. Whereas science speaks in the indicative mood, religion uses the imperative. Its characteristic expressions take the form of commands and prohibitions, thou shalts and thou shalt nots. COHON 108
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GENESIS — 2:7 living

(Continued from Leviticus 6:11 guilt SOHON 161-2). R. Jose teaches that “An individual is not allowed to afflict himself by fasting, for he might become dependent upon the public [by reason of incapacity for work] and find no mercy on their part.” The biblical grounds for his opinion is found in [this verse] "'And man became a living soul’; the Torah means to say, keep alive the soul which G-d gave you.” Taanit 22b, Tosafot Taanit 2:12  Fasting on the Sabbath was condemned as sinful. A fast day other than Yom Kippur which occurs on the Sabbath is postponed to Sunday.  The leaders of Hasidism fought excessive asceticism as a species of melancholy. The discipline which Judaism recommends must enhance and enrich life. Anything that blights life and its joys possesses no religious value.  COHON 162
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GENESIS — 2:15 till

The exploitation of man by man in the form of slavery deprived the ancient nations of the true nobility and joy of work. Even so highly gifted a people as the Greeks failed to discover the true meaning of labor as the means of human self-realization. Its philosophers and poets no less than its masses rated work beneath the dignity of free men. Not only rough common and hard toil, but all handicrafts and even the works of art, which lend so much luster to the name of Greece, were relegated to slaves. Freemen, supposedly made of finer clay, were destined for leisure, pleasure and revelry. The only occupations worthy of them were hunting and fighting. The Germanic nations, too, were more attracted to the sword and the spear than the plow and the sickle. Leaving their work to the women and slaves, the heroic Teutons engaged in the chase and in battle. Of all the nations of antiquity, Israel alone recognized that labor holds the secret springs of joy, and emphasized the greater dignity of labor than of warfare. Work alone is truly honorable. The monition “choose life” (Deuteronomy 30:19) means: choose a handicraft.  “Love labor and hate lordship” is the text of rabbinic teaching. The most offensive labor is not as degrading as idleness. It is better for a man to flay a carcass in the public square than to become a public charge.  Jer. Peah 1:1; Avot 1:10; Avot de Rabbi Natan, ed. Schechter, A; B, 21; Bava Batra 110a  Work, no matter of what nature, provided it be honest and legitimate, exalts and dignifies a man, and renders him a true child of G-d, who Himself is pictured as a Master-Worker. The father of the human race, according to the legend of Genesis, was placed in the Garden of Eden not for idle play but for the purpose of tilling and caring for the Garden [this verse]. As a child of G-d, he was to assist in G-d’s work. It is only when Adam was lured into sin that labor lost its charm and became a curse. But even this curse the rabbis viewed as a blessing. They said that when Adam heard the words of G-d announcing the ground would yield thorns and thistles and that he would have to “eat the herb of the field,” he cried: “What! Shall I and my cattle eat from the same manger?” Adam was relieved and blessed the hallowing power of labor, whereby he would be able to rise above the brute world.  Pesachim 113a; Kiddushin 82a.  COHON 177-9
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GENESIS — 2:15 till

Work alone makes life meaningful and blessed. The joy that comes from it is contagious. It increases the happiness of the world. To translate the ideal of cooperation with G-d into a life of industry in cooperation with one’s fellow men has been one of the chief ethical goals of Judaism.  The conception of man as co-worker of G-d furnishes the key to the Jewish attitude toward labor.  Work is the vocation of man, the chief instrumentality of his joy and salvation. It is not only the joy of labor but its pain that is sounded in Jewish literature. The second chapter of Genesis reechoes the cry of the weary that labor is a curse.  The tillers of the soil in southern Palestine, who struggled against a desert influence and against thorns and thistles that overcrowded their arid land, naturally felt the bitterness of their toil. The Biblical author, voicing their sentiments, explained labor as the consequence of Divine displeasure. Due to a grave sin on the part of the father of the human race, the soil was cursed and man was made to wrest bread from it through the sweat of his brow. COHON 174-5
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GENESIS — 2:18 helper

Marriage must be based not only upon physiological instinct but also upon psychic factors, such as the desire for companionship, affection and love.  In a polygamist age, the wife was spoken of as a man’s helpmate [this verse].  The marriage relation is referred to in Proverbs 2:17 as a Divine covenant. C.H. Toy comments: “The old polygamy or bigamy (The rule up to the Exile) is ignored; monogamy is assumed as the established custom.  The husband is the trusted friend; the marriage-tie has a Divine sanction (cf. Malachi 2:14). The expression covenant of G-d may refer simply to the general idea of sacredness involved, or it may possibly allude to the religious marriage ceremony.” The primary meaning of the rabbinic term for marriage, Kiddushin, is setting the wife apart for the husband alone, rendering her tabu to any other man. Kiddushin 2b. COHON 164-5
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GENESIS — 2:18 helper

The attitude of Judaism toward sex well illustrates its idea of sanctity. Condemning both libertinism and morbid asceticism, it does not regard the sex instinct as an evil. Only when abused and debased as an instrument of lust and vice, does it lead to human corruption and degradation. As the natural means for the preservation of the race, it has the benediction of the Torah. Marriage is treated not as a mere concession to the flesh, (Cf. Paul’s view in 1 Corinthians 7:1ff) but as a divinely established institution [this verse]. The command, “Increase, multiply, and fill the earth” Genesis 1:28 was construed by the rabbis as the first of the 613 Pentateuchal commandments.  While the chief aim of marriage is procreation of offspring, sexual gratification was likewise recognized as one of its aims. Woman was to be not merely a child-bearer but also a sex-partner. Far from enjoining abstention from legitimate cohabitation, the Halachah orders both the man and wife to respect each other’s conjugal rights. However, sanity and consideration must characterize the relations. Hilchut Ishut 14 The highest interest of the race demand that the wellsprings of life be kept pure and undefiled. Hence Judaism sanctions sexual relations only between husband and wife. Any other form of sex experience constitutes Zenut, lewdness or immorality. Irregular relationships unsettled the foundations of the family and of the social order. Prostitution, in particular, menaces human well-being. Aside from its danger to health, its unfortunate victims are reduced to the status of slaves, serving as the mere tools of lust. COHON 163-4
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GENESIS — 3:10 afraid

The wage motive of righteousness is fed by the twin psychological roots of expectancy of reward and of fear of punishment. The fear grows out of the certainty of G-d’s avenging wrath for evil doing. In the words of the sage: “The wicked flee when no one pursueth; but the righteous are secure as a young lion” (Proverbs 28:1). Conscience plagues the wicked. They dread the effects of their misdeeds [this verse]. [See also “avoid” 4:14.] COHON 125
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GENESIS — 4:5 heed

The nature of Jewish prayer is partly disclosed by the terms employed in Hebrew for prayer. The most general word is Tephillah, from the root palal (Psalm 106:30), to intervene, to interpose, connoting also the idea of arbitration and judgment as well as of intercession in prayer. Goldziher accordingly took the original meaning of Tephillah to be “Invocation of G-d as judge.” Hastings’ Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, X, p. 191. It is a form of judgment to which a person subjects himself in the presence of G-d. This meaning may be accounted for by the circumstance that the earliest prayers of Israel were offered in conjunction with the sacrifices, the acceptance of which was deemed to conditional, depending upon the worthiness, purity, and guiltlessness of the worshipper.  Cain’s sacrifice was rejected [this verse].   COHON 317
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