[b-hebrew] yorenu (teach US)

Gabe Eisenstein gabe at cascadeaccess.com
Mon Jun 30 17:10:18 EDT 2008


Your reading seems to be the standard one, in thinking that the point is 
just to illustrate the unrepentant and defiant nature of the Israelites 
(that's us!). And if that's all there is to it, you are right that 
there's no need to translate R.b.b.Hana's yorenu as "teach us" rather 
than "teach him" (as we agree to translate it in Isaiah). Nonetheless 
Soncino saw fit to translate "teach us" -- why?

I find myself unsympathetic to the standard reading, because it seems to 
me that the Talmudic context is to some extent describing the virtue of 
"talking back" to tradition,  rather than demanding meek obeisance. In 
the Sanhedrin context, the larger question concerns whether God or 
humans get to decide the fate of the Mishnah's three bad kings with 
regard to the world to come; and Rab has already described one of the 
Israelite "answers" to "the prophet" as a "victorious answer". Therefore 
I think "teach US" here emphasizes the positive side of the Israelite 

Your point that the Israelites might not like the manner of their 
"instruction" is reflected in the immediately preceding statement of R. 
Nahman, "Even with such fury let the Merciful rage against us, but that 
He redeem us."

> Gabe,
> I think Isaac makes a good point because 
> the speaker can be summarizing the whole 
> dynamic between the prophet and the 
> Israelites. They could ironically take 
> Isaiah's statement that God teaches the 
> farmer and defiantly gives it back to 
> Isaiah about their unwillingness to repent.
> Of course Isaiah himself was using the 
> whole farming illustration to discuss 
> divine discipline in the first place. So 
> there is no doubt that God would teach 
> the Israelites to repent, but they would 
> not like the way he taught them. That is 
> part of Isaiah's point, although he 
> moderates it by adding that the divine 
> discipline would not go on forever.
> Rabbah b. bar Hana can be reflecting the 
>   unrepentant attitude of Israel by 
> creatively inventing a dialogue that 
> borrows from Isaiah. It does not 
> necessarily mean that he translated the 
> verse that way.
> Yours,
> Harold Holmyard

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