Thursday, September 6, 2012

Hebraic Literature, more observations

[ Originally written and posted on MySpace on July 19, 2009 ]

Hebraic Literature is one of the volumes in the "Universal Classics Library," published in 1901 by M. W. Dunne in various editions.  Single volumes from the set of 30 are frequently held by public libraries.  The volume Hebraic Literature was edited and annotated by Maurice H. Harris, a Reform rabbi, and includes selections from the Talmud, Midrashim, and Kabbala.

Many passages here and there provoke thought.  For example, on page 57, we are told of the four types of persons who, according to the Talmud, are " intolerable ."  One of these is " a poor man who is proud. "  This seems to be directly contradictory to the teaching of Christ.

On page 138, we are told of the 45 righteous men whose existence keeps the earth in existence.  Thirty of them live outside Israel and 15 within its boundaries.  (Has this legend of the righteous or just men any connection to the League of the Just who commissioned Karl Marx to write the Communist Manifesto?)

On page 141, we are told that " If a man remain unmarried after the age of twenty, his life is a constant transgression.  The Holy One -- blessed be He! -- waits until that period to see if one enters the matrimonial estate, and curses his bones if he remain single. "  

Obviously, Christ was not a dutiful Jew according to this standard.  Some speculate that he was a member of the sect of the Essenes, a party of Jews who were celibate and who lived in a monastic community.    The Talmud, of course, teaches Judaism as interpreted by the Pharisees, who were all that remained of Jewry after the Dispersion of 70 A.D.

On page 196 we are told that " In the future God will assign to each righteous man three hundred and ten worlds as an inheritance; for it is said (Prov. viii, 21), ' That I may cause those that love me to inherit substance, and I will fill their treasures. '   By Gematria equals three hundred and ten. "

It makes little sense to interpret these 310 worlds as other planets.  It is more likely that each person is a world unto himself.  Since there are now in the world approximately 310 gentiles for every Jew, perhaps this prefigures a New Jerusalem in which there are 310 gentiles to serve every Jew.   (Something like this vision, without the numbers, the " gematria, " appears in the book of Isaiah.)

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