Monday, July 26, 2004

Can on Make a Sacred History

Rabbi Josh Yuter links to his discussion aboutyear The Historical Meaning of Tish'a B'av (9 Av).  I agree with him that we should not distort the past to create meaning & the role of Tisha B'Av as a day of Jewish mourning for all tragedies overshadows what happened or did not happen on this day.
 
I do, politely, disagree with him & Jacob Neusner that bad history created bad theology.  As I have been some quite good & meaningful theology come from bad history. 

 
A related question though is whether one can treat the study of history as a sacred activity.  In recent times, notable Professor Jeffrey Woolf has argued, based upon the Maharitz Chijos, that Jewish History should be studied as a sacred act, an extension of Maimonides ascribing to science & math sacred status.  This was possibly the sentiment of Woolf's teacher, Professor Isadore Twersky, the Talner Rebbe (though perhaps not).

I have not found this in my studies.  But perhaps, I am not studying history with the proper perspective.  Some late Achronim have said that one can see God's Hand through the study of history. 

I often find myself thinking about Jewish history during the three weeks.  Can one create an Orthodox Jewish History?  I don't have the tools to do so.  Many who do, are afraid of being not taken seriously by academia so they do not even try.  Perhaps one can study Jewish history in a sophisticated fashion while seeing God weave his way through its currents.

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