[b-hebrew] daughters jacob never spoke of

Shoshanna Walker rosewalk at concentric.net
Thu Jun 22 10:34:09 EDT 2006

Dear Harold:

Abraham merited being one of our avos (forefathers).  His 2 most 
famous character traits were that of a man of FAITH and 
charity/chesed.  Hashem subjected him to 10 tests of faith, he passed 
all of them.  This abduction of Sarah by Avimelech was one of these 
tests.  He therefore was not a coward.

Mr. Boyd wouldn't know that if he didn't study Torah including Oral 
Torah.  It is not chauvanistic to say that you won't get a proper 
education or understanding if you don't learn the material.  It is a 
true thing to say, that you can't understand Torah from just the 
written text alone.

Our Sages and Commentaries learned by means of an unbroken chain of 
Oral Tradition, which is briefly outlined in Pirkei Avos in the very 
first verses.  The more I read what I am able to read (I can't read 
Aramaic, I can read Hebrew but it is faster for me to read in 
English, and there is a lot of material translated into English), the 
more I see that there is one unified body of knowledge that they are 
all imparting.  It is not thought-stultifying to learn Torah, in fact 
Torah is without limit.

There is also Torat haNistar - the "hidden" layer of Torah - which 
does teach about the mechanics of Creation, and the spiritual levels 
of the universe, and does tell us the future - since everything, 
past, present, and future is contained in the Torah, it is just a 
matter of finding, extracting and learning it, and like everything 
else, it must be by teachers.  It is fortunate that we have the 
Mishna, the Gemarra, the Zohar and all the Commentaries on those 
texts to explain and elucidate for us through thousands of years.

Learning the material does not mean coming up with your own ideas - 
just like if you were learning biology, you wouldn't tell the teacher 
that you think that metabolism really involves something else that 
was your own idea.

What I object to about the last sentence was calling Avraham a 
coward, that is completely contradictory to Torah - THAT is what is 
insulting to Avraham.  No one would argue that Avraham admitted and 
explained why he had lied, and also that he had not completely lied, 
as I wrote in a previous post - since it says so in the text.  And I 
never said anyone doubts Avraham.  There is in fact not even anything 
insulting about telling us that Avraham lied, since in Jewish 
Halacha, it is most definitely permitted to lie in certain clearly 
defined circumstances.  What Rashi was pointing out was that when one 
lies, it is preferable to tell as much of the truth as possible, and 
that Avraham was correct FIGURATIVELY, as I wrote earlier, and that's 
what he was explaining to Avimelech.

As far as archeology and increasing scientific knowledge, over and 
over again, they "discover" what Torah, including Oral Torah, and 
those who taught and wrote down Torah, taught thousands of years ago 
and extracted during that time.  I am not really that versed in all 
that literature, but I do know that Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, and 
commentaries on Sages such as the Maharal, discuss this, as do more 
modern writers as new scientific discoveries come to light, I also 
watched a program (it is on several nights a week, for 2 hours after 
midnight, and I think I was able to watch it 3 times) on cable TV in 
Israel when I was there in March, where a rabbi (I forgot his name) 
taught this, with specific examples - every program he had more - 
which he extracted from Kabbala.


HH: Here is the last sentence to which you refer:

     This double relationship suggested to Abraham the expedient that he
twice used when he lacked faith in God to protect his life and in
cowardice sought his own safety at the price of his wife's honor.


HH: The article was written in 1915 by J. Oscar Boyd. I don't know much
about him except that he wrote a number of articles for the
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. I used it because it is
available online. I have the modern edition of this encyclopedia, and
the same idea is presented by P. J. Scalise. Scalise was one of the
authors of the commentary on Jeremiah 26-52 in the Word Bible Commentary
series. I don't know why you say this sentence above shows no
understanding of the Torah. And I don't what makes your "Sages and
Commentaries" more authoritative than this sentence above. God gave his
word for people to understand, and you don't necessarily have to be
Jewish to understand it. It seems very chauvinistic to talk the way you
do about not needing anything beyond the Oral Torah and the Sages and
Commentaries. It also stultifies the progress of thought to assume that
everything correct that can be said about Scripture has already been
said. I personally don't believe that at all, and Scripture itself
indicates that some things won't be known until the end times (though it
would not relate to this point):

Dan. 12:9 And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up
and sealed till the time of the end.

HH: At any rate, with the flood of new information about ancient culture
and languages provided by archeology, we know a lot about the words of
the Bible that the Oral Torah, the Sages, and Commentaries may not have
retained. It may possibly bear on stories in Genesis. I am not saying
that this is the issue here. Really, here the issue is simply whether
Abraham is to be believed, and I see no reason to doubt him.

HH: To me it is insulting to Abraham to say it shows no understanding of
Torah to believe Abraham when he admitted and explained what's he'd
done. The sentence above to which you object simply accepts Abraham at
his word. There is no way that it cannot show understanding of the Torah.

Harold Holmyard

>HH: Do you mean you don't think the events happened? What are you
>talking about?
>The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
>    sa'-ra, sa'-ri:
>We are introduced to Sarai in Genesis 11:29. She is here mentioned as
>the wife that Abraham "took," while still in Ur of the Chaldees, that
>is, while among his kindred. It is immediately added that "Sarai was
>barren; she had no child." By this simple remark in the overture of his
>narrative, the writer sounds the motif that is to be developed in all
>the sequel. When the migration to Haran occurs, Sarai is named along
>with Abram and Lot as accompanying Terah. It has been held that the
>author (or authors) of Genesis 11 knew nothing of the relationship
>announced in 20:12. But there can be no proof of such ignorance, even on
>the assumption of diversity of authorship in the two passages.
>    Sarai's career as described in Genesis 11 was not dependent on her
>being the daughter of Terah. Terah had other descendants who did not
>accompany him. Her movements were determined by her being Abram's wife.
>It appears, however, that she was a daughter of Terah by a different
>mother from the mother of Abram. The language of 20:12 would indeed
>admit of her being Abram's niece, but the fact that there was but 10
>years' difference between his age and hers (Genesis 17:17) renders this
>hypothesis less probable. Marriage with half-sisters seems to have been
>not uncommon in antiquity (even in the Old Testament compare 2 Samuel
>    This double relationship suggested to Abraham the expedient that he
>twice used when he lacked faith in God to protect his life and in
>cowardice sought his own safety at the price of his wife's honor.
>b-hebrew mailing list
>b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org

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