Thursday, June 17, 2004

I go ahead and stop criticizes & attacking and write a nice simple post about what I like to read on Shabbos & those two Blogging Butler Brothers go Soloveitchik on me. (Serves me right for dropping the Hock….)
So responding to Ezra (who apparently also speaks for Menachem):
Apparently E. doesn’t get my point at all. The purpose of a liberal arts education, (and for many Torah U-Madda) is not to gain the tools to be a better academic/Wissenschaft-er, but to have a more humanistic perspective on the Torah we learn. Do you think that I can’t read the EJ also? That I don’t know about historical/literary/linguistic/textual criticism of Jewish texts?
My point about reading Plato or Rumi Jalaladin or the Tao Te Ching is that these are some of the most profound reflective foundational texts of different cultures. Sociology & psychology give you insight into how peoples & people. History about different societies & cultures past. Literature should be obvious, etc.

There are alternatives in learning Sefarim ha-Kedoshim to either naïve Traditional readings or the knives of the Academy. One can reflect upon them using the whole of one’s knowledge. One can associate using the ideas that weave a web through one’s mind, built upon our experiences & the texts we have read). And one can acknowledge cultural & historic differences, while developing these relationships. It’s not about “How Does Midrash relate to Parallel Byzantine Christian Writings”. If that’s where you’re at, man, you need to spend some time away from the Academy.
It is about reflecting upon the Chumash using the Midrash as the springboard.

OK, so as Nachum Lamm & E. pointed out, Midrash Rabbah are not a single book (as most Midrashim, with the possible exception of Tanna D’bei Eliyahu, aren’t) but a collection. And your point being? So you cant cut it up and cut it up some more & label it ad infinitum. At the end of the day, does it make your Shabbos more meaningful? Does it make your interactions with other people more spiritual or holy? I am troubled by your question about reading Midrash “correctly”. If you assume that the Wissenshaft analysis is the most “correct” understanding of the Midrash, I would disagree. If you cannot incorporate your reading of “durkheim, heidegger and donne” into your learning of Midrash, then I would have to suggest that something is lacking your Torah U-Madda education.
When I suggested that Menachem read more non-Jewish texts before reading Midrash, I was trying to make this point. Developing breadth & depth before reading Midrash (unless Midrash was about developing his breadth). I thought that MB, being young should get a wider liberal arts education before specializing so heavily in the Jewish.
Regarding the MJB question, why not ask him his opinion on this matter & then blog it?

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