I sit here on the floor of the main sanctuary at the Stephen S. Wise temple in Los Angeles, waiting for Rabbi M to start talking. Just had dinner with a few of the people from the temple — good looking dinner, wish I’d been hungry. Now the talk. Surprise overflow of people has brought us to the main sanctuary instead of the small room we’d originally been supposed to use.
Much talk and hum from the people all around — a busy and interested bunch of people. Eventually, I will get tired of remarking upon the big new world that I’m part of now — full of people, traditions, stories that I hadn’t suspected the existence of.
Oh brave new world and I am in the middle of it, sitting here in the back with my laptop on my lap.
— lecture notes —
“When words lose their meaning, culture collapses.” — Thucydides
We need to reclaim not just the meaning of the words, but their rhythms and melodies and resonances. The Vilna Gaon said that each passage of the Talmud has not just its own literal meaning, but its own niggun/song as well.
The Fundamentalists attack the bible by claiming sole right to it. The outright requests for funding don’t help a bit either. They demand that we give up science and independent thought. And so, they’ve hijacked the bible.
Joseph Campbell believed that the bible killed The Goddess, whomever she may be.
Who claims today to hear the word of God? Bin Laden. Saddam Hussein. It’s all fanatics who make such a claim.
You must take responsibility for what you hear the voice of God say to you. The God-voice cannot usurp human responsibility. My own deepest voice is the God-voice. You cannot give responsibility for your own actions to God.
Mitzvah: commandment, but also the experience of intimacy with your God-voice.