One unaware with the ways of Rabbinic judaism would be stunned by the
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One unaware with the ways of Rabbinic judaism would be stunned by the Rabbinic literature. In this culture, the power of the Rabbis to form the law comes before the people, the Bible, and God's word. The Rabbi is the sole determining factor in deciding what conduct is appropriate. They chop up the bible, taking the pieces out of context to suit their opinion of what the scripture means. Though the Rabbis are usually protecting the needs of the Jewish people, the right of the Rabbis to make Jewish law is frightening. One would guess that there would be more David Koresh types with followers stockpiling weapons. This does not happen but for no good reason.
The authority of the Rabbis to dictate law is reflected in the story of Moses in Akiba's classroom. First we must note that God is distinctly "tying wreaths to the letters" of the Torah, so that Akiba can decipher their meaning later. Moses the writer of the document is then taken to Akiba's classroom and shown the sophistication that the Rabbis have when they interperit the Bible. Moses is put in the back of the class witht the new students as a symbol that he is not the master of the Bible. Moses was the writer. He had no say in what it meant or contained. Rather he was the first to interpret the words of God and write them. The fact that God put in the Bible, obscure text for future Rabbis is a symbol that he expected them to pick apart at even the most minute pieces of grammar. The Rabbis are expected to find what is necessary in the Bible.
The story of Elizer shows that God's word is secondary to the Rabbis' interpritation of the Bible. There are two important events in this story. First, when God says "[Jewish law] always agrees with Eliezer" and the Rabbis say that "It is not in heaven" (taking the word of the Bible out of context to refute God), we see that God's word is unimportant to the Jewish Rabbi. They truly believe that God's word is secondary to their interpritation of the Bible. The Bible being God's words told earlier. Second, the moment when God admits that "My children have defeated me". This implies that the Rabbis are just for going above God. The Rabbis thoughts have become more elaborate and now overshadow the word of God. The Rabbis are now the word of God.
If we examine the reason for Eliezer's struggle with the Rabbis, we see that he is trying to introduce a new product, which will make the clay oven obsolete. It will save the people money and be the greatest product of their time. The Rabbis refute Eliezer. This is not because they are citing the Bible or Talmud, but because they are "[protecting] the Jewish clay workers' interests" (Vizotsky 52). The idea for Eliezer's oven was thrown out along with his life. His invention was his death. All of this to protect what now would be a labor union.
The Rabbis have proven that they have more power than the word of God, that God expected them to extract what they want from the Bible, and that the intention of the Rabbis interpritations is unimportant. With this power and the fact that anyone can become a Rabbi (quoting Gregory Kaplan) we should all become Rabbis and find a passage from the Bible that tells that the Rabbis should get 80 percent of their congrigation's wealth. The Jews would have to believe us and give. Being a Rabbi would be a good living if you knew how to use it.
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Oral Torah, Orthodox Judaism, Jewish theology, Rabbinic Judaism, Torah, Rabbi, Halakha, God in Judaism, Kavod HaBriyot, Pharisees
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