18 QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
    CONCERNING THE TORAH

    by

    Aron Katsenelinboigen

                                                     

                                                 Chapter 3

A PREDISPOSITION IN THE TORAH     

The process of the creation and performance of the universe in the Torah in general is reminiscent of the positional style. At each stage God creates a predisposition for future development. Each stage contains every kind of material component (e.g., light, darkness, sky, trees, animals, human beings) that God has created. Each stage also contains some kinds of relational components (e.g., time, space, the dominance of human beings over the organic world, the inability of human beings to run the inorganic world). During the process of creation of the universe the Torah mainly emphasized on material components while during the performance the emphasize shifted to relational components. The evaluation of each stage of creation is done via beauty, and the general direction of the creation and the development of the universe could be expressed in terms of increasing beauty (negentropy).

Next, I will discuss the structure of a predisposition as it is represented in the Torah, including the way that it is evaluated via beauty, in more detail.

THE SET OF MATERIAL OBJECTS

Unknown Sources of Creation of Beings

In Chapter 1 of the book of Genesis the Torah gives the first version of the creation of the universe. In doing so, it mentions the many different kinds of inorganic and organic objects that were created in the first six days, and in particular, it talks about human beings.

Yet, among the created beings, we do not see angels and cherubim, both of which are quite similar. On the surface, wings distinguish cherubim from angels, who have no wings. Functionally, as I will soon explain, cherubim and angels overlap as safeguards. While angels are represented as living beings, cherubim are presented mainly as decorative images.  The genesis of both of these creatures is unclear. [37]We can learn from the many appearances of angels in the Torah (Genesis 16:7, 16:9, 16:10, 21:17. 22:11, 22:15, 24:7, 24:40, 31:11. 32:1, 48:16; Exodus 14:19, 23:20, 23:23, 33:2; Numbers 20:16. 22:22-27, 22:31.22:32. 22:34. 22:35; Deuteronomy 32:27) that they are basically messengers send by God to inform people about God’s decisions for the purpose of leading them in the direction assigned by God. For example,

And when the morning arose, then the angels hastened Lot, saying 'Arise, take thy wife, and thy two daughters that are here; lest thou be swept away in the iniquity of the city.'" (Genesis 19:15)

Here is another example:

Behold, I send an angel before thee, to keep thee by the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared.” (Exodus 23:20)

Only once does the Torah mention the case of an angel who fulfills the function of a guard:

And the ass saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way, with his sword drawn in his hand; and the ass turned aside out of the way, and went into the field; and Balaam smote the ass, to turn her into the way. (Numbers, 22:23)

The cherubim are mentioned several times in the Torah (Genesis 3:23-25, Exodus 25:17-22, 26:1, 26:31, 36:8, 36:35, 37:7-9, Numbers 7:89).  The Torah speaks about them primarily as images in relationship to the tabernacle and the veil. For example,

Moreover thou shalt make the tabernacle with ten curtains: of fine twined linen, and blue, and purple, and scarlet: with cherubim the work of the skillful workman shalt thou make them” (Exodus 26:1).

 In relationship to the veil, the Torah mentions them again:

And thou shalt make a veil of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen; with cherubim the work of the skilful workman shall it be made" (Exodus 26:31). 

Once the Torah mentions the cherubim in the relationship to the Garden of Eden; their role is to symbolize physically the protectors of God’s sanctuary:

So,

He drove out the man; and He placed at the east of the Garden of Eden the cherubim, and the flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life. (Genesis 3:24)

There is one more question about the set of living beings that are mentioned in the first chapter of the Torah. This question is related to the extension of this set.

The account in Genesis contrary to popular belief, does not assert the eternity or fixity of the species. On the contrary. Genesis asserts—along with modern science—the non-eternity of the species: like the entire visible universe, each species had a beginning in time. More important, there are several subtle indications in the biblical text that invite us to think that God's created order is, in fact, subject to considerable change, on its own. 

Consider, for example, the fact that God's creatures, at the start, all had their distinct place or habitat: sea, air, or land. Where, then, were the amphibious ones? Did God not make frogs and crocodiles? Could they be later creatures, evolving out of an exclusively watery niche? Since frogs and alligators were surely known to the ancient Israelites, is the text perhaps raising questions about the propriety of beings that cross boundaries and upset the distinctions that constitute the order of the world? In fact, later, in Leviticus, all such ambiguous creatures are declared unclean. 

The possibility of organic change is more strongly supported by explicit evidence from Genesis 1 itself. After the creatures have all appeared, God speaks to man about food: And God said:

Behold I have provided you with all seed-bearing plants which are on the face of all the earth, and every tree which has seed-bearing fruit; to you I have given it as food. And to every living being of the earth and to everything that creepeth upon the earth which has a living soul in it, I have given every green herb as food;' and it was so. (Genesis 29-30)

Leon Kass (2003) made the following comments to this except from the Torah:

In this subtle way, the text hints that the harmonious and ordered whole contains within it a principle—life, or, if you will, appetite, and eventually omnivorousness and freedom—that threatens any original order of the whole. Life is, in principle, destabilizing; man is so in spades. God's created order is not immune to change—indeed, as subsequent chapters relate, by the tenth generation all the earth (including the animals) has become corrupt and has erupted into violence and fury (Genesis 6:7, 11-12); the return through the flood to the watery chaos of the beginning completes the dissolution into chaos that life—and freedom—itself had wrought. (p.48-49)

Is it Possible to Create Beings Superior to Human Beings?

Leon Kass (1988) makes an interesting comment regarding the Torah with respect to the past of human beings:

Genesis 1, read with the fine print, provides this teaching as well. Man may have powers that resemble divinity, but he is also at most merely an image; man, who, quite on his own, is prone to think of himself as a god on earth and to lord it over the animals, is reminded by the biblical text that he, like the other creatures, is not divine. Though brought into being by a special creative act, man appears on the same day as the terrestrial animals; though in some respects godlike, man belongs emphatically to the world of animals, whose protective ruler he is told to be. Man is the ambiguous being, in-between, more than an animal, less than a god. This fact—and it is a fact—makes man a problem, as the Bible, even in this celebratory chapter, subtly teaches. (p.34)

An additional confirmation of Kass’s interpretation that “man belongs emphatically to the world of animals” is found in the passages of the Torah that concern the ability of animals to behave in a similar way to the way that people do. For example, animals and people can use a mutually comprehensible language to discuss certain problems. These problems may be of major importance and may touch upon God's deeds in the most direct way.

The serpent, using its ability to communicate with Man, talks Eve into breaking God's taboo against eating from the tree of good and evil, and thus God's power is diminished (Genesis 3:1-5). At the same time, by dealing with man directly, animals can play a very positive role by serving as intermediaries between God and Man. The ability to communicate with Man allowed the ass of Balaam to attract its master's attention to the angels sent to him by God (Numbers, 22:23-24).

 

     The Torah does not mention the possibility of creating a new species that is above human beings. Furthermore, it seems that the sons of God are just a special group of people: giants. Although the Torah does not mention their intellectual abilities, it states that they were born from a sexual union between common women and beings from the spirit world (Genesis 6:2,4). Such an interpretation is given in the translations of the Torah into different languages. For example, this interpretation is repeated in the King James translation into English, in the translation into Russian with commentaries issued in Vilna (1914), and in the translation in which the general editing was done by Professor Herman Branover (Jerusalem-Moscow, 1993). There is also another interpretation of the term sons of God.  According to the English version of the masoretic text of the Bible (1955), the word "giant" is given in the original Hebrew language as Nephilim. The Jewish Encyclopedia (1901-1906) associates this word with fallen angels. So, Man might very well not be the crowning or the end point of development of the universe, and just as a Man appeared, so may a new species above Man appear in the future.

     These are the thoughts articulated by Friedrich Nietzsche (1976) through Zarathustra's speech to the people:

I teach you the overman. Man is something that shall be overcome. What have you done to overcome him? All beings so far have created something beyond themselves; and do you want to be the ebb of this great flood and even go back to the beasts rather than overcome man? What is the ape to man? A laughingstock or a painful embarrassment. And man shall be just that for the overman: a laughingstock or a painful embarrassment. You have made your way from worm to man, and much in you is still worm. Once you were apes, and even now, too, man is more ape than any ape. Whoever is the wisest among you is also a mere conflict and cross between plant and ghost. But do I bid you become ghosts or plants? Be hold, I teach you the overman. The overman is the meaning of the earth. Let you will say: the overman shall be the meaning of the earth!

How can one create an "overman"?  There are at least three ways to proceed: one is by continuing the course of creation by God, the other is the biological evolution, and the third is by artificial means. Let us briefly consider the last way.

Radical ways of human evolution are possible, ways not necessarily rooted in biology. Improvements might be achieved by combining artificial and natural organs. In this respect, Man has come a long way compared to other animals. Man has created rather powerful devices to improve his extremities (arms, legs) and to be able to do things for which he lacks specialized parts, like flying, for instance. Man has also begun to create artificial devices capable of improving or even replacing certain internal organs, e.g., the kidneys or the heart. It seems that this process of substitution is boundless, and eventually, a man made up entirely of artificial internal and external parts could be created. This new type of artificial man really represents a new species, since he will reproduce himself through principles completely unlike those underlying human reproduction. One name for this new species is Kiberhomo, which is a combination of cybernetic technology and human structure.

Perhaps the most effective way to create a new species is to invent new principles completely unlike those governing human development. Such a species could be created by Man as an artificial system existing outside himself. Manmade technology could eventually become a self-developing autonomous system that is considerably more complex and more organized, and that has greater creative powers.

Two questions arise in this respect: 1) Is an artificial system capable of formulating its own goals? 2) Can Man assign goals and constraints to this system so that the side effects of its operation will not cause him too much suffering? There are no definite answers to these questions. People who possess the so-called "Western" system of values continue to develop artificial systems that are capable of being superior to Man. They assume that the point of irreversibility, in terms of the welfare of mankind, is still very remote. In this sense, the disciples of Western civilization, no matter what local benevolent goals they advocate, are following the teachings of Zarathustra in a global sense:

What is great in man is that he is a bridge and not an end: what can be loved in man is that he is an overture and a going under. (Nietzsche, 1976, p.27)

These thoughts inspired me to accept the following interpretation of the Torah: Man was created by God in order to augment God's greatness. We can further surmise that Man can increase his own power and become close to God in ability. The legend concerning the destruction of the Babylonian tower is a confirmation of God’s fear of the growing might of human beings, but here it is time to stop, for these deliberations fall far outside the scope of the Torah.

Sexes of Living Beings

The Torah mentions that human beings have two sexes (Genesis 1:27). With regard to the sexes of other living beings, nothing is mentioned in the first and second chapters of Genesis. Only later, with respect to the flood, does the Torah explicitly mention that God said to Noah,

And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep them alive with thee; they shall be male and female. (Genesis 6:19) 

The two sexes of human beings are correspondingly presented in the Torah’s two versions of the creation of the universe: Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 of Genesis. There is a great difference between the genesis of the first man and the genesis of the first woman in these two versions of creation. The first version directly assumes that both of the genders have been created simultaneously:

male and female, He created them. (Genesis 1:27)

The second version starts from the creation of a male, and a female was ceated later from the male.

The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. (Genesis 2:7)

Later, the Torah states,

He took one of his ribs, and closed up the place with flesh instead thereof. And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from the man, made He a women, and brought it unto the man.  (Genesis  21-22)

These two versions of the creation of man and woman allude to some general thoughts concerning the parallel and consequential creation of the two genders of human beings. In particular, these two versions allude to a question about who has been made from whom: Was man made from a woman, or vice versa?  My answer to this problem, as I expressed it in my book (1997b), is based upon the acceptance of the evolutionary process as a process characterized by increasing complexity: fragmentation, specialized reproductive cell (spore), two sexes: eggs and sperm that existed in one body where self-fertilization occurred (full hermaphrodite). Later, there appeared specialized bodies to hold the cells, male and female bodies that correspondingly house sperm and eggs and possess other features that accompany the reproductive process. The existence of different kinds of hermaphrodites, which were so well described by Anne Fausto-Sterling (1993), could confirm the hypothesis that states that full hermaphrodites gradually converted to separate sexes. 

Here, I would like to mention an original biblical explanation of the appearance of male and female by Robert Sacks (1979). In a very general form, it expresses the idea of a man who contains the features of both a male and a female and who is divided into two sexes.

 The attempt to find a helper from among the animals failed. Man was in need of a helper that he could see with his own eyes as being something apart from himself and standing in front of him. This would imply that Man understood himself to be alone in the sense of lacking something and in need of another. But God was able to find that other only within Man himself. Man did indeed have everything that was required and had been made perfect. Like God he was a complete whole, containing both male and female, but he was unaware of that perfection. God was forced to take something away in order to return it in a more visible form. This would explain why it was only on second thought that God decided that it was not good that man should be alone. There is a story in the Midrash to the effect that the first man was five hundred feet tall and could see from one corner of the earth to the other, or as we would say, he had a view of the whole. The Rabbis meant that the original and single Man was intended to be a complete and self-sufficient being like God Himself. (p. 56)

Meanwhile, the concept of the creation of two kinds of reproductive cells and their consequent incorporation into two kinds of bodies is not a widely accepted concept in biology. Right up until today, the aforementioned problem concerning the biblical presentation of the sequential appearance of two sexes remains open. Scholars still discuss the sequence in which males and females appeared. The following except from an article by David Crews (1994) should confirm the last statement:

Numerous studies of lower vertebrates clearly demonstrate that the organizational concept we have outlined here offers an incomplete picture of animal sexuality. I propose that a slightly broader view could encompass all vertebrates. I look beyond the kind of genetically determined sexuality encompassed in the organizational concept toward a more comprehensive, evolutionary view of sexuality. That view builds on the notion that males most certainly evolved only after the evolution of the first self-replicating (and hence female) organisms. In the organizational concept the female is the default sex and the male the organized sex, imposed on the female by the action of hormones. In my alternative scenario, the female is the ancestral sex and the male the derived sex. Consider hermaphroditic fishes. Douglas Y. Shapiro of Eastern Michigan University has found that fish species that are born male and become female nevertheless pass through a modified ovarian stage before developing testes. To me, such observations suggest that males may be more like females than females are like males. Given that every male must contain evolutionary traces of femaleness, biologists might be well served to focus less on the differences between the sexes and more in terms of the similarities. (p.114)[38]

Finally, the two sexual aspects of the creation of living beings in the Torah are very different from the presentation of sexes in the religions of surrounding countries. As Nahum Sarna mentioned in his book (1966),

This notion of creation by the divine (“Male and Female He created Them” A.K.) will presents us with yet another radical departure from paganism. In polytheistic mythologies creation is always expressed in terms of procreation. Apparently, paganism was unable to conceive of any primal creative force other than in terms of sex. It will be remembered that in Enuma Elish, Apsu and Tiamat represent respectively the male and female powers which, through the "commingling of their waters" gave birth to the first generation of gods. The sex element existed before the cosmos came into being and all the gods were themselves creatures of sex. On the other hand, the Creator in Genesis is uniquely without any female counterpart and the very association of sex with God is utterly alien to the religion of the Bible. When, in fact. Genesis (1:27; 5:2) informs us that "male and female He created them," that God Himself created sexual differentiation, it is more than likely that we are dealing with an intended protest against such pagan notions. (pp.12-13)

If the definition of sex is to be based upon the direct participation of individual participants in the act of intersection through which a zygote forms, most theories of sexual types also allow for only two sexes. The reason I emphasize this particular assumption is because it gives us a broader view of the problem of mating and the sexes. Other conditions being equal, mating is optimal for bringing about the intersection of functionally distinct organisms, because it minimizes the number of such organisms. Under mating, population size is sacrificed, relative to fragmentation.

Even so, the "quality" of the combinations that are actually produced may ultimately prove more conducive to the development of the species. That is why other mechanisms of intersection involving more than two organisms can be construed. Applying the analogy of "multi-sexual reproduction" to political systems in which the birth of a new social institution calls for a deep-wrought separation of powers, we could imagine at least three sexes. The first sex, counterpart of the legislative branch, would elaborate programs for strategic development with long-term significance.

The female's eggs have the privilege of playing this role. Through an analogy with the executive branch, the second sex would elaborate tactical programs within the framework established by the first sex. The male's sperm have the privilege of playing this. Presumably, adjustments to current conditions, i.e., “operative management,” are carried out by the organism using whatever means it has at its disposal, such as reserves, organs for adjusting to temperature fluctuations, and so on.

Finally, the third sex, the "judicial branch" in our analogy, would confirm that the programs followed by the other two sexes are in accordance with the fundamental programs of development, thus preventing the birth of organisms that violate basic precepts of development. The idea of prevention in biological development is quite plausible, because it is unlikely that "quality control" over new structures is performed exclusively by hindsight, i.e., through natural selection.

I have just now speculated on "multi-sexual reproduction," but I actually originated the "judicial function" of the third sex many years ago. In 1984, I was invited to give a talk on this subject at a "crazy ideas" seminar held at the Benjamin Franklin Research Institute in Philadelphia. In my book (1997b), I describe in detail the aforementioned speculation. Since the publication of the book, I have learned that such a third sex does exist in nature (Morell 1996). Biologist John Werren from the University of Rochester has found that the bacteria living in the guts of the females of three wasp species destroy male DNA from other species in order to keep cross-species mating from producing offspring.[39]

THE SET OF RELATIONAL COMPONENTS

The set of relational components that is expressed in the process of the creation of the universe is relatively poor. They include along with time and space the subordination of all living beings to Man. 

And God said, 'Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.' (Genesis 1:26)

The richness of relational components is mainly shown in the Torah when it speaks about the performance of the universe.  First, I will illustrate these relational components by two examples: incest and the parity between God and Man, and then I will generalize them.

Incest

The first example deals with incest. In the beginning, the Torah is not critical of incest.  Adam and Eve commit incest because Eve has been made from Adams rib. It is unclear how Cain's children appeared. It was either from his mother or from his sisters if they existed, but the Torah does not mention the existence of any sisters. In any case, it was incest.

A direct example of incest concerns Lot and his virgin daughters. Their future husbands refused to leave the city in spite of the warning that the city will be destroyed:

He (Lot) dwelt in a cave, he and his two daughters, And the first-born said unto the younger: 'Our father is old, and there is not a man in the earth to come in unto us after the manner of all the earth. Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father, And they made their father drink wine that night. And the first-born went in, and lay with her father; and he knew not when she lay down, nor when she arose. And it came to pass on the morrow, that the first-born said unto the younger: 'Behold, I lay yester-night with my father. Let us make him drink wine this night also; and go thou in, and lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father. And they made their father drink wine that night also. And the younger arose, and lay with him; and he knew not when she lay down, nor when she arose. Thus were both the daughters of Lot with child by their father. And the first-born bore a son, and called his name Moab — the same is the father .of the Moabites unto this day. And the younger, she also bore a son, and called his name Ben-ammi—the same is the father of the children of Ammon unto this day. (Genesis 19:30-38)

The Torah explicitly sets laws to prohibit any kind of intercourse with people who are closely blood-related or close relatives:

None of you shall approach to any that is near of kin to him, to uncover their nakedness; I am the Lord. The nakedness of thy father, and the nakedness of thy mother, shalt thou not uncover: she is thy mother; thou shalt not uncover her nakedness. The nakedness of thy father's wife shalt thou not uncover: it is thy father's nakedness. The nakedness of thy sister, the daughter of thy father, or the daughter of thy mother, whether born at home, or born abroad, even their nakedness thou shalt not uncover. The nakedness of thy son's daughter, or of thy daughter's daughter, even their nakedness thou shalt not uncover; for theirs is thine own nakedness. The nakedness of thy father's wife's daughter, begotten of thy father, she is thy sister, thou shalt not uncover her nakedness. Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy father's sister: she is thy father's near kinswoman, Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy mother's sister; for she is thy mother's near kinswoman. Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy father's brother, thou shalt not approach to his wife: she is thine aunt. Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy daughter-in-law: she is thy son's wife; thou shalt not un-cover her nakedness. Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy brother's wife: it is thy brother's nakedness. Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of a woman and her daughter; thou shalt not take her son's daughter, or her daughter's daughter, to uncover her nakedness: they are near kinswomen; it is lewdness. And thou shalt not take a woman to her sister, to be a rival to her, to uncover her nakedness, beside the other in her lifetime. (Leviticus 18:6-19)

 (In the books of Leviticus 21: 2-5 many of these prohibitions have been repeated in a condensed form.)

The Parity Between God and Man

I will develop this subject by making some general comments concerning certain kind of relationships between entities.[40] These relationships are about the rights and the obligations of interacting participants represented in a deductive scheme. Let me start the elaboration of this subject by setting up a deductive scheme of possible combinations of rights and obligations for one participant.

The cells of the matrix can be represented by different “protagonists’ that are mentioned in the Torah.[41] Abraham belongs to 11. At the time of God and Adam in the Garden of Eden, God belonged to 12 and Adam to 21. It means that the relation between God and Adam has been based on God’s rights without obligations and Adam’s obligations without rights. This is not said explicitly but could be assumed considering Adam’s functions in the Garden of Eden “to dress it and to keep it” (Genesis 2:15.) and God’s behavior as an ultimate landlord.

Generalizing this scheme gives us to a 4x4 matrix involving the interactions of two participants, in this case God and Man, as each of them is presented in the previous matrix.  To help the reader better understand the diversity of the relationships between God and a Man in Figure 3.2, i.e., the 16 combinations,

I would bring in the category of covenant and its expressions in the Torah. A common assumption is that the participants in a covenant have both rights and obligations, but it is not so.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines a covenant as

A mutual agreement between two or more persons to do or refrain from doing certain acts; a compact, contract, bargain; sometimes, the undertaking, pledge, or promise of one of the parties.

The Torah exactly confirms this definition of a covenant naming it ברית.[42] After the flood God said to Noah,

This is the token of the covenant, which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth. (Genesis 9:17)

The meaning of this covenant is

neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth. (Genesis 9:11.)

In this case we deal with the combination 11-12, i.e., for a covenant where only one side, in this case God, has rights and obligations, and the other party has only the right to accept retribution from God. The broader definition of a covenant embraces the combination 11-11, i.e., it assumes that both participants have rights and obligations. The Torah mentions this case describing one of the encounters between God and Abraham.

And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God. And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations.  This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. (Genesis 17: 7 -10)

The mutual rights and obligations between God and Jews have been further developed in the Torah. I will illustrate these developments by two examples.

  In the book Exodus the Torah says:

 Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: (Exodus 19:5)

 

 

                  And even more in the book Leviticus

 But if ye will not hearken unto me, and will not do all these commandments; And if ye shall despise my statutes, or if your soul abhor my judgments, so that ye will not do all my commandments, but that ye break my covenant: I also will do this unto you; I will even appoint over you terror, consumption, and the burning ague, that shall consume the eyes, and cause sorrow of heart: and ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it. (Leviticus 26: 14-16)

It seems to me that a broad understanding of a covenant brings out a richer set of potential relationships between the participants, first and foremost, that of parity in mutual criticism and mutual acceptance thereof.[43] Alan Dershowitz (2000) referring to the book Arguing with God by Anson Laytner (Northvail, NJ: Aronson, 1990) brought an interesting example in this way:

Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev, an eighteenth-century Hasidic master who actually filed a religious lawsuit (a din Torah) against God for breaking His covenant with the Jewish people.” (p.13)[44]

Further examination of this subject requires an analysis of the biological background of relationships between living beings.

In accordance with ethological investigations, for example, Konrad Lorenz's (1966), basic relational components are inherited in living beings. Among these is parity as opposed to subordination. These components can be observed among both animals and human beings. It seems that relations inherent in the Jewish mentality reflect parity between the Jew and the authorities. Presumably, Judaism is in agreement with the Jewish mentality, because it is highly probable that there is a strong correlation between the mentality of a given ethnic group and their chosen religion. It follows from the most sacred source of the Jewish faith, the Torah, that man is comparable to God as the master of the universe. I want to bring up some passages from the Torah that I believe corroborate my statement regarding the Jewish attitude toward the authorities.

The authors of the Torah conceptualized man as having been created in God's image and after God's likeness. God is presented not as a frozen force that is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent, but rather, as an evolving entity. Man, endowed with creative powers and free will, actually augments God's power. It is by the people and through the people that God carries out the development of the universe (after its creation).

In fact, the role of Man is so important that God stands apart with some chosen people and concludes a covenant with them so that they can gain mutual benefits.[45] According to the covenant, God promises to multiply the nation that is to come from Abraham, promising to make Abraham the father of many peoples; in return a Jew agrees to obey God's commandment that all Jewish men should be circumcised: And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him,

I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly. And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying,

 As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee. And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God. And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations. This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. (Genesis 17:1-10)

A sufficient condition for a genuine contract between man and God is that God acknowledges own imperfection and the greatness of man and that God recognizes man as an independent and indispensable force. Moreover, the contract becomes more credible if some kind of equality, both physical and intellectual, is established between the two parties. Under these circumstances, it may prove more expedient for the God-Creator to grant Man basic autonomy while imposing upon him only some constraints.

The following excerpts from the Torah support the presence in this document of sufficient conditions for a genuine contract between God and Man. Man's physical strength is affirmed in the legend of Jacob's struggle with God (Genesis 32:24-32). God was unable to overcome man and could only inflict a minor wound: “and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was strained” (Genesis 32:26).

 God said to Jacob,

Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel; for thou hast striven with God and with men, and hast prevailed.” (Genesis 32:30)

Jacob called the name of the place Peniel:

for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved. (Genesis 32:31)

There are disagreements between Jewish authorities concerning the nature of the being with which Jacob struggled. According to Mordecai Kaplan (1962),

The story of Jacob's wrestling, as told in the book of Genesis still has something of the primitive flavor; the mysterious being with whom Jacob wrestles is a god, an elohim, perhaps YHWH Himself. But already to Hosea (Hosea 13:4,5)[46] elohim is not a god, but an angel. (p.4)

However, even if we assume that Jacob struggled not with God but with an angel, I interpret the passage about this struggle as Man proving that he could compete physically with a heavenly force.

The authors of the Torah allude to Man's intellectual capacity in the story of Adam who becomes God's intellectual equal after tasting an apple from the Tree of Knowledge. Unlike God, Adam is mortal, and God banishes Adam from the Garden of Eden so that he will not taste from the Tree of Life and become immortal. God said,

Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever. (Genesis 3:22).

The authors of the Torah tell other stories that affirm the intellectual parity between God and Man. When God becomes enraged at the disobedience of the Jewish people during their sojourn in the dessert and decides to annihilate them and replace them with another nation that will originate from Moses, Moses argues with God and persuades God to preserve the people:

And the Lord said unto Moses: ‘How long will this people despise Me? And how long will they not believe in Me, for all the signs which I have wrought among them? I will smite them with the pestilence, and destroy them, and will make of thee a nation greater and mightier than they.’ And Moses said unto the Lord: ’When the Egyptians shall hear —for Thou broughtest up this people in Thy might from among them—they will say to the inhabitants of this land, who have heard that Thou Lord art in the midst of this people; inasmuch as Thou Lord art seen face to face, and Thy cloud standeth over them, and Thou goest before them, in a pillar of cloud by day, and in a pillar of fire by night; now if Thou shalt kill this people as one man, then the nations which have heard the fame of Thee will speak, saying: Because the Lord was not able to bring this people into the land which He swore unto them, therefore he hath slain them in the wilderness. And now, I pray Thee, let the power of the Lord be great, according as Thou hast spoken, saying: The Lord is slow to anger, and plenteous in loving kindness, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation. Pardon, I beseech thee, the iniquity of this people according unto the greatness of they mercy, and as thou hast forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now.’ And the Lord said:

I have pardoned according to thy word…(Numbers 14:11-20)

In analogous story could be found in Exodus 2:1-14. A reader interested in the development of the subject just discussed may find relevant examples and thoughts in the Neil Gillman’s book (2000) on pages 38-40.[47]

The Jewish attitude that God is an equal in a sense, the defiance expressed toward idols, and the rejection of idols — all of these things are manifested in the Torah by a very critical attitude toward the leaders of the state. In other words, this quality of the Jewish ethnos is not limited to their relationship to God, but also provides information about their attitude toward their environment, including their leaders. Evidence for this can be found in the sermons addressed to the Jews during their plight in the desert. Here is a relevant sermon about who will be the future king of the Jews after they arrive in the Promised Land:

When thou art come unto the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, and shalt possess it, and shalt dwell therein, and shalt say: “I will set a king over me, like as all the nations that are round about me”; thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom the Lord thy God shall choose; one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee; thou mayest not put a foreigner over thee, who is not thy brother. Only he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses; forasmuch as the Lord hath said unto you: “Ye shall henceforth return no more that way.” Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away; neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold. And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book, out of that which is before the priests the Levites. And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life; that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them; that his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left; to the end that he may prolong his days and his kingdom, he, and his children, in the midst of Israel. (Deuteronomy 17:14-20)

A system of values opposite to the Jewish mindset might be based upon two extremes: the subordination of man to the forces governing him (be it God, a leader, or both) and the superiority of man over the forces of the universe. Most religions and ideologies profess the first kind of attitude; in fact, I know of no other religion which claims any kind of equality between man and God. A system of values proclaiming man's superiority over the forces of nature corresponds to the communist ideology in its pure form. However, the actual implementation of communist ideals is oftentimes accompanied by the institution of an authoritarian regime, and this regime is prone to become an ideology directed at subjugating man to the forces governing him. Such an ideology is fundamentally alien to the core beliefs of the Jews.

There are several other peculiarities of Jewish mentality. For example, there is not even one case in the Torah when a Jew sacrifices his own life for the sake of any idea.

A Selected Set of Relationships in the Torah

Now, I will generalize a set of selected relational components as they are represented in the Torah by bringing together pairs of extreme relational components. I will look at them from the point of view of the tendency of a relationship to "gravitate" toward one of the extremes. Underlining it denotes the last one.

Simultaneity - successiveness. The creation of the world in six days, the many stages in which God persuades the Pharaoh to let the Jews out of Egypt.

  Divergence - convergence. God not striving to reach an ultimate goal; God constantly expands the oqn sphere of influence, for instance by the creation of many different nations, including great ones, and even a chosen nation.

  Mutuality - preponderance. God and Man are portrayed as equal partners and make a contract with each other. As far as people are concerned, the need to limit the king (Deuteronomy 17:14-20) and to stipulate the conditions when slaves are to be freed are greatly emphasized.[48]

  Inquisitiveness - traditionalism. The search for novelty involves not only finding new, more suitable land, but it also involves making new, original decisions, for example, a decision is made upon leaving Egypt to go by way of a desert rather than by the lands inhabited by the aggressive Philistines, and therefore, 40 years are spent wandering in the desert before a new generation reaches the Promised Land.

  Sensitiveness - unresponsiveness. God being sensitive to offerings and sacrifices, like those from Noah, for instance; the fortitude of the Jews in the face of hardship during their stay in the desert.

  Repetitiveness - monotonousness. The world evolves in a monotonous way for the most part, except during certain periods, like the flood or the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

  Reversibility - irreversibility. The destruction of something is followed by the creation of auspicious conditions for its revival, like the flood and the tradition of atonement on the day of Yom Kippur for sins previously committed.

  Jumpiness - smoothness. Preferring jumpiness to a smooth and slow life in one place, for instance, the  migration to Egypt during the famine and the quick exodus from Egypt

  Mobility - immobility. A constant struggle on the part of the Jews to change their status in the world.

  Replaceability - irreplaceability. Replaceability of the people, i.e., not allowing them to become immortal (specifically, the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden to prevent them from tasting the fruit from the Tree of Life); contemplating the possibility of destroying the Jewish people for their disobedience in the desert and replacing them with a new Jewish nation that would be descended from Moses.

  Proximity - remoteness. The creation of Man close to God, the pronouncement "love thy neighbour as thyself" (Leviticus, 19:18).

  Contiguity - angular contiguity. Sharing a common heritage, following the many commandments and statutes

  "Mediality" - laterality or (centrism - "edgism"). A desire to be in the heart of things, for instance, to live in places that represent the centers of civilization (Sumer, Egypt).

  Wander-loving - sedentary. A desire to live in different regions while at the same time possessing one's own land

  Versatility - one-sidedness. The ability of God and the Jewish people to adapt the environment to suit their needs, e.g. while they were in Egypt or while they wandered through the desert.

  Overabundance - exhaustibility. Showing the ability to achieve set goals, growth, and satisfaction, e.g., becoming a populous nation, achieving a successful exodus from Egypt while still maintaining enough strength for future accomplishments.

  Empathy - self-centeredness. The ability to put oneself in another's position, for example, when God intends to destroy the disobedient Jews, Moses takes into account the views of the Egyptians regarding the possible consequence of God's actions.

  Interdependence - self-sufficiency. The idea of mutual support and the combined efforts of God and Man as well as of different people.

  Cohesiveness - porosity. People being responsible for their actions, for example, rewarding and punishing the whole nation depending on whether or not it follows God's statutes (in particular, see Leviticus, 26).

  Compatibility - incompatibility. Throughout the Torah, the conditions of compatibility between God and Man (the covenant between them is one example); also, the compatibility between Jews themselves (in particular, the relationship between Joseph and his brothers) and the compatibility between Jews and other people (in particular, the Jewish migration to Egypt).

  Historicism – "markovness." ("Markovness" is a term derived from the famous mathematician Markov.  Markov assumed that in some cases, the future does not depend on the past, only the present.) Emphasis on traditions, e.g. remembering the exodus from Egypt (see Exodus13:3-16).

  Maturity - rawness ("greenness"). This refers to the emphasis on the youth of mankind. For instance, after the flood, the authors of the Torah attribute the following words to God: "for the imagination of mans heart is evil from his youth" (Genesis 8:21).

  Monopolization - impuissance. One of the main ideas in the Torah is to prevent localized monopolistic control.

   Permeability - closedness. The desire to preserve the Jewish people as a nation that is descended from Sarah and Abraham; also, very little proselytism

  Helpfulness - unhelpfulness. Helping other people, e.g., helping Egypt during the time of the famine, while at the same time, having no desire to rule the entire world, etc.

  Diversity - uniformity. An increase in the number of different nations, the appearance of new objects.

  Order - chaos. The development of the means of integrating a society.

 

EVALUATION OF A PREDISPOSITION

Now I am prepared to interpret how the Torah evaluates the stages of creation of the world. The term good (tov) is used for this purpose. According to the Torah, God pronounces the judgment good as early as the first day, while he is evaluating his work, which is the creation of light (Genesis 1:4). God does not evaluate the work performed on the second day, which is the creation of the heavens. (Genesis 1:6-8).  On the third day, God makes this judgment twice using the word good. The first time is after the creation of the land and the sea (Genesis 1:10).  The second time is after the creation of the herbs, grass, and trees (Genesis 1:12).[49] On the fourth and fifth days, God evaluates the work done on those days as good (Genesis 1:18,21). Finally, on the sixth day, God makes an independent judgment that the work done in the first half of the day, which is the creation of land animals (Genesis 1:25), is good.  The result of the second half of the day, which is the creation of Man, is not judged as such (Genesis 1:26-28). This is rectified by the overall evaluation made at the end of the sixth day of everything created so far (Genesis 1:31); very good is used in this overall evaluation (Genesis 1:31). 

With regard to the last thought, Leon Kass (1988) makes the following comment:

After nearly every act of creation. God looked at the creature and "saw that it was good." There are two striking exceptions: neither the firmament (or heavens), on Day Two, nor man, on Day Six, is said to be good. What bearing, if any, might these omissions have on the place and status of human beings? Now one might say that there is no need to see or say that man is good; after all, he is made in God's image and that might make man "better" than good. Moreover, once human beings are present, the whole is said to be very good: does this not imply that each part—man especially included—is good? Perhaps. But what if the omission were intended and meaningful? On what understanding of "good" might it be simply true that man, as created, cannot yet be said to be good? …A moment's reflection shows that man as he comes into the world is not yet good. Precisely because he is the free being, he is also the incomplete or indeterminate being. More pointedly, precisely in the sense that man is in the image of God, man is not good—not determinate, finished, complete, or perfect. It remains to be seen whether man will become good, whether he will be able to complete himself (or to be completed). Man's lack of obvious goodness, metaphysically identical with his freedom, is, of course, the basis; of man's moral ambiguity. As the being with the :greatest freedom of motion, able to change not only his path but also his way, man is capable of deviating widely from the way for which he is most suited or through which he—and the world around him – will most flourish. (p.34)

Let me elaborate on the term good as it is used in the Torah's account of creation. Generally speaking, the notion of evaluation encompasses two aspects. One reflects the need to compare the envisioned image with the actual one. The other reflects the need to establish the impact of the result upon future development. Such a two-faceted use of evaluation takes place under different styles of creation. Leon Kass (1988) expresses this meaning of good in the following way:

"Good" as used throughout Genesis 1 cannot mean morally good; when "God saw the light that it was good," He could not have seen that the light,' was honest or just or law-abiding. The meaning of "good" seems rather to embrace notions like; — the following: (1) tit to the intention; (2) fit to itself and its work, i.e., able to function for itself and in relation to the unfolding whole; and, especially, (3) complete, perfect, fully formed, clear and distinct and fully what it is. A being is good insofar as it is fully formed and fully fit to do its proper work. (p.34)

Based on the concept of a developing God, I assume that at each given moment God is limited in his creative abilities, and is therefore unable to ensure that the envisioned and actual outcomes will be equivalent. God’s evaluation is based primarily on a careful verification of the actual outcome and its subsequent endorsement with a stamp of quality. This brings to mind an analogy with quality control at a factory. Under an established technological sequence (program), each operation (or series) is followed by a quality control check to verify that it conforms to specifications, because simply knowing the quality of the materials, equipment, or the skills of the workers may not be sufficient to ensure the desired result.

The other purpose served by the judgment good is to assess the contribution of a given stage to future development. Whatever the style of creation employed, the term good reflects a positive assessment of the contribution made by some intermediate or final result of the overall process of creation. The problem here is the style of creation employed by God. If we assume that God created the universe in a combinational style, then the judgment of good is sufficient to ensure a complete and consistent link between inputs and outputs. But, if God created the world using a positional style, via the daily creation of predispositions for future development, the term good could be designated by the term beauty, which is how I interpret it.[50] This does not preclude the term good from being used to recognize an affinity between the envisioned and the actual outcomes.

As a matter of fact, “neither the Old Testament nor the New Testament has any theory of the beautiful” (Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, 1962, vol. 1, p. 371).[51]

Yehudah Abrabanel, also known as Leone Ebreo, wrote the famous book Dialoghi d'Amore. In the paper she wrote as part of her independent studies with me, Malka Rabinowitz enlarged upon the last statement:

Abrabanel tries to merge Jewish and religious ideas with the philosophy of Renaissance Platonism.  He combines the Jewish concept of love of G-d with an aesthetic idealization of the world.  "For the first time in the history of Jewish thought there was a philosopher who awarded space to aesthetic reflections (which had never played an important role in Judaism) and who set out to explicate and define the concept of beauty (Levy, 1993) " (p.38).

Jewish thinkers had probably shied away from this topic because there was a fear propagated by the Talmud that the study of aesthetics would detract from the study of Torah. Kaufmann Kohler& Enil G. Hirsh (1901) confirm the previous statements: To the speculative theory of the beautiful the Jews cannot be said to have contributed fruitful thoughts. In the economy of the humanities this field fell to the inheritance of the Greeks.[52]

I spotlight the statement concerning the interchangeability of good and beauty in the Torah. In the future, I will use the term beauty instead of good for my interpretation of the process of the creation of the world and the way it functions. The term beauty will assist me in approaching this topic from the point of view of predispositioning.

The interchangeability of good and beauty in the Torah has been mentioned by several sources. For example, the Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible (p.371) mentions several different Hebrew words related to beauty. One is the adjective “good”, which also means handsome, fair, beautiful, and goodly. The view that beauty and good are interchangeable was typical for the Greeks (Ross, 1998a).[53] The Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament by Jewish authorities, uses the word καλος (kalos), which means beauty in Greek, for the Hebrew word good.

Professor Efraim Urbach (1912-1991), former President of the Israeli Academy of Sciences and Humanities, called my attention to the possibility of interpreting the word good in the Torah as beauty. In a private letter dated July 8, 1979, which he has allowed me to publish, he wrote,

While in biblical Hebrew the word הפי stands for “beautiful,” it becomes in Mishnaic Hebrew to mean also quality and goodness. There are many examples in the Hebrew dictionary of Ben-Yehuda. In one case (Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 108a) the Greek word kalos used in the sense of a “fine argument.”

I would also like to quote from another private letter that was written to me by Herbert Wentz, a professor at the Department of Religious Studies of Southern University in Sewanee, Tennessee, USA and dated March 7, 1983.

I was very interested in your suggestion that the Hebrew word TOB in Genesis 1.4, etc. might mean 'beautiful' instead of (or in addition to) 'good', as it is usually translated. So, I began to look into a few things and came up with a couple of interesting points, which I thought I might pass along to you. First, the Septuagint translators in the 3rd century B.C. chose the Greek word KALOS for the Hebrew TOB throughout the first chapter of Genesis. I had never noticed this before and was excited by it sine the primary meaning of KALOS is 'beautiful'. I should have imagined that the Greek word AGATHOS would have been used. A colleague in our Greek Department tempered my excitement by pointing out that KALOS and AGATHOS are largely interchangeable at the time of the translation of the Septuagint and by warning that not very much by way of interpretation could be hung on the use of KALOS.

However, KALOS does not have the ethical overtones of AGATHOS or, at least in many cases, of 'good'; it (KALOS) is the word, so he said to me, that an artist might normally use in reference to a completed work of which he was proud and by which he would imply 'just what I wanted to make, 'fine', 'beautiful', and hence, in one sense of the word, 'good'.[54] Second, the Hebrew word TOB in its various uses in the Old Testament has a variety of connotations, just as 'good'. I thought I was right about this on Saturday when we talked, but I checked my sources yesterday.

The ethical flavor of 'good' can be attached to TOB but I think it would be correct to say that the ethical flavor is perhaps more often missing (as with the Greek KALOS): TOB can mean pleasant or agreeable to the senses, as in Esther 2.2,8, where Esther and other women are being described and physical beauty is the subject; it also can have the sense of 'advantageous' as in Job 13.9 or Psalm 133.1 (which, by the way, is the motto of The University of the South and can just be seen in the seal at the top of this page, in its Latin form); it has the sense of fruitful or fertile in Exodus 3.8 and the sense of valuable (as of economic value) in Leviticus 27.1 (& throughout chapter) or Proverbs 31.18.

Third, my Hebrew lexicon referred me also to the Arabic cognate, the verb TABA and a number of derived forms, all of which are related to ideas like pleasant, delightful, delicious, sweet, ripe -- e.g., largely sensuous in their connotation. (I know very little Arabic, and the point is probably irrelevant in any case; but it is nonetheless interesting that this cognate does not have the strong ethical overtones which often attach to 'good' and instead seems to be more in line with the 'beautiful' you proposed for the Hebrew word.) In summary, you are obviously on safe ground in reading TOB as at least pointing in the direction of 'beautiful'.

Some writers who accept the idea of the judgment of the stages of creation as beauty generalize this idea and treat the direction (sometimes called the purpose) of development as the attempt to increase beauty. For example, John Haught asks the question (2001) “According to process theology, what is the purpose of this evolving universe”? and he gives the following answer:

For a process to be called purposeful it must be oriented toward the realization of a value. And so, in its aiming toward beauty, which has traditionally been seen as a "transcendental" value, the universe shows itself to be purposeful. What gives significance to evolution and to this whole universe-in-the-making is that the general orientation of cosmic process has been one of bringing about aesthetic intensity, a value that needs no justification beyond itself. Certainly there is more to cosmic purpose than this. But our universe can justifiably be called purposeful if it is oriented, at least in a general way, toward actualizing instances of beauty. Today, in view of the reports we get from all of the sciences, there can be no serious doubt, at least when we take a long view of things, that the natural world has worked its way up from mere simplicity to vital complexity, from monotonous to more interesting versions of ordered novelty. Ours is a universe of emergent beauty. And even though this beauty is perishable, the fact that cosmic evolution has brought it about at all is enough to render suspect the confident modem claims that we live in a pointless universe.

We might even say that the universe is shaped by an "aesthetic cosmological principle." It is hard not to suspect that the universe has been lovingly "set up" from its beginning so as to allow for an ongoing process of emergent beauty, with all of the risk of tragedy and loss that aesthetic fragility entails. The renowned physicist Freeman Dyson has recently written that the universe follows a "principle of maximum diversity." By this he means "the laws of nature and initial conditions are such as to make the universe as interesting as possible." On the basis of Whitehead’s metaphysics we might broaden Dyson's happy intuition: the point of this evolving universe is to maximize beauty and, along with beauty, the possibility of subjective enjoyment. This is a world that can glorify and give joy to its Creator as well as to the many creatures in it. (p.140)

 

                    

Nebula

 

     As I conclude this chapter, I would like to spotlight a reciprocal relationship between two different kinds of beauty. They are the beauty that exists as the result of the activities of a creator and the beauty that exists in the creator himself. George Tavard devoted his book (1991) to a remarkable Mexican poet who went by her religious name Sor Jana Inés de la Cruz (1648-1695). In addition to being a poet, she was a playwright, a defender of women, and a theologian.  De la Cruz emphasized beauty as the major attribute of God: No one, however, before Juana Ines, had chosen beauty, the fourth transcendental, as the chief attribute of God, as the focus of thought, and as the point of view from which God should be, in the words of St. Anselm, "that than which nothing greater can be thought." (p.196) According to De la Cruz,

As the paradigm for every authentic visitation from God, the annunciation would then introduce all the faithful to a new vision of God. Only the beautiful can receive beauty. Only the beautiful can perceive beauty. Only uncreated beauty can create beauty. Artistic activity is therefore always a graced participation in the divine act of creation. Aesthetic theory and reflection are always meditations on the divine attribute of beauty. (p. 200)

The usage of this concept of beauty in the Torah will be further developed in the next chapter.  I will clarify the meaning of good and evil, and in particular, the meaning of devil's beauty.

 


NOTES:

[37]. As Nahmanides (Moses b. Nahman), one of the greatest biblical scholars, mentions in his commentaries (1960) about Genesis. If you ask about the creation of angels who are not corporeal, this is not stated explicitly in the Torah. The Rabbis have explained (Gen. R. 1.3; Midrash Thillim Ch. 24; 86 and 104. Pirge de R. Eliezer 4. See also Kasher Ch.l par. 264—The view in the Midrashim mentioned as opposed to that of R. Judah in Zohar Hadash 6, that the angels were created before heaven and earth. See also Yeçîrậh Ch.6 Mishna 12; Bahya loco) concerning them that they were created on the second day, in order that you may not say that they helped in the creation of the world. But it you will be priviledged to understand the secret of the word 'berê'shîth' and why scripture did not commence 'God created in the beginning' (in order to start the scriptures with the name of the Lord), you will know that in the way of truth (i.e., of Kabbalah, which is designated the "Teaching of Truth.") the text while recording the lower creation also hints at the higher (i.e., While speaking ostensibly of the creation hints also at the Creator.). The word  'berê'shîth' hints at (the sephirah) 'Wisdom', which is the head of all beginnings, as I have stated (Being the head of the sephiroth). Therefore it is translated in the Targum Yerushalmî behokhmetha" (in wisdom); and the word is crowned with a crown on the 'beth' ('Beth' being the second letter refers to the sephirah  ‘kệthèr,' the first of the sephiroth.). (p.36; ix)

[38]. Natalie Angier strongly insists in her article (2003) that males are derived from females.

[39]. I published this event in my paper (1997c).

[40]. These comments have been influenced by the discussions with Valery Chalidze.

[41] The cells in the matrix correspond to different type of people in their relationship with each other: 11 is an individualist (not to confuse with an egoist); 12 – an anarchist; 21- a slave; 22 – a hermit.

[42]. Vladimir Shlapentokh in a private conversation with me distinguished rights and obligations that are explicitly or implicitly mentioned in different kinds of covenants. In his opinion, even in covenants that are based on one-sided explicit obligations usual prevail implicit conditions that determine the obligations of the other side. It is a provocative point of view because it stimulates the search for hidden obligations.  

[43] The God of Genesis makes a covenant with humans, thereby obligating Himself to justify what He commands—at least most of the time. The Bible reflects the development of law from un reasoned chok to justified mishpat. Abraham's argument with God over the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah—the first instance in religious history of a human being challenging God to be just—marks an important watershed in the development of democracy. These and other stories of justice and injustice had a powerful effect on my young mind. They encouraged me to view the world in a skeptical and questioning manner. If Abraham could challenge God, surely I could challenge my teachers. When my high school principal refused me permission to take a state wide exam for a college scholarship on the ground that no one with my low grades stood a chance of winning, I challenged his action and won both the opportunity to take the test—and the scholarship itself. (Dershowitz, 2000, p.6)

[44] Allen Dershowitz in his book (2000) with a great sense of humor illustrated  the behavior of Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev.

The most famous postbiblical exemplar of chutzpah against heaven was the eighteenth-century Hasidic master Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev, who repeatedly invoked God's contract in challenging God's injustice toward his covenantal partners. On one occasion he threatened to expose God's promises as "false." On another he sued God and threatened to refuse to cooperate with plans to keep the Jewish people in exile. On one Yom Kippur, a simple tailor sought forgiveness from the great rabbi for having talked disrespectfully to God. The rabbi asked him what he had said, and the tailor told him: I declared to God: You wish me to repent of my sins, but I have committed only minor offenses: I may have kept leftover cloth, or I may have eaten in a non-Jewish home, where I worked, without washing my hands. But you, 0 Lord, have committed grievous sins: You have taken away babies from their mothers, and mothers from their babies. Let us be quits: May You forgive me, and I will forgive You. The great rabbi looked at the tailor and replied: "Why did you let God off so easily”? It is this argumentative tradition that Abraham initiated when he challenged God's justice toward the Sodomites. (pp. 74)

[45]. This kind of phenomenon is occasioned in market economies by the interactions between giant corporations and small-scale companies that are the subcontractors of the larger corporations. Theoretically, a major firm could eliminate a small enterprise either by buying it or by driving it out of business. For different reasons a major firm is sometimes better off leaving the R & D of innovations to small independent enterprises, e.g., a research effort in a multilevel hierarchical corporation must involve many levels in order to approve an innovation that could sometimes kill novelties.

[46]. This is the title of the book written by Hosea, a Hebrew prophet of the eight century B.C. A new translation of this book into English was published in 1980.

[47]. Babylonian Talmud, Baba Mezia 59a-59b tells the famous story of the relations between God and the Jews that shows the greatness of human beings:

On that day, Rabbi Eliezer used all the arguments in the world. He produced powerful arguments to justify his position that the oven should be considered unreconstructed and not susceptible to ritual impurity. But the Sages did not accept his arguments, and insisted that the oven was susceptible to ritual impurity. After Rabbi Eliezer saw that he was not able to persuade his colleagues with logical arguments, he said to them: 'If the Halakhah is in accordance with me, let this carob tree prove it.' The carob tree immediately uprooted itself and moved one hundred cubits--and some say four hundred cubits--from its original place. The Sages said to him: 'Proof cannot be brought from a carob tree.' Rabbi Eliezer then said to the Sages: 'If the Halakhah is in accordance with me, let the channel of water prove it.' The channel of water immediately flowed backward, against the direction in which it usually flowed. The sages said to him: 'Proof cannot be brought from a channel of water either.' Rabbi Eliezer then said to the Sages: 'If the Halakhah is in accordance with me, let the wall of the House of Study prove it.' The walls of the House of Study then leaned and were about to fall. Rabbi Yehoshua, one of Rabbi Eliezer's chief opponents among the Sages, rebuked the falling walls, saying to them: 'If Talmudic scholars argue with one another in their discussions about the Halakhah, what affair is it of yours?' The walls did not fall down, out of respect for Rabbi Yehoshua, nor did they straighten, out of respect for Rabbi Eliezer, and indeed those walls still remain leaning to this day. Rabbi Eliezer then said to the Sages: 'If the Halakhah is in accordance with me let it be proved directly from Heaven.' Suddenly a heavenly voice went forth and said to the Sages, 'Why are you disputing with Rabbi Eliezer? The Halakhah is in accordance with him in all circumstances!' Rabbi Yehoshua rose to his feet and quoted a portion of a verse (Deuteronomy 30:12), saying, 'The Torah is not in heaven!' The Gemara interrupts the Baraita and asks for a clarification: 'What did Rabbi Yehoshua mean when he quoted the Scriptural verse that “the Torah is not in heaven”?' Rabbi Yirmeyah said in reply: 'Since God already gave the Torah to the Jewish people on Mount Sinai, we no longer pay attention to heavenly voices that attempt to intervene in matters of Halakhah. For You, God, already wrote in the Torah at Mount Sinai (Exodus 23:2), “After the majority to incline.” From this verse we learn that Halakhic disputes must be resolved by majority vote of the Rabbis. God could not contradict His own decision to allow Torah questions to be decided by free debate and majority vote. The Gemara relates that generations later Rabbi Natan met the Prophet Elijah. (Several of the Talmudic Sages had visions of Elijah the Prophet, and discussed Halakhic questions with him.) Rabbi Natan asked Elijah about the debate between Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Yehoshua. He said to him: “What did the Holy One, blessed be He, do at that time when Rabbi Yehoshua refused to heed the heavenly voice”? In reply, Elijah said to Rabbi Natan: “God smiled and said: `My sons have defeated Me, My sons have defeated Me!” God's sons “defeated Him” with their arguments. Rabbi Yehoshua was correct in his contention that a view confirmed by majority vote must be accepted, even where God Himself holds the opposite view.

[48] Christianity (with exception of several protestants sects) emphasizes more on preponderance in the relations between God and Man and especially in civil live between a leader and subordinates.  Christianity   while setting the relations between God and Man and people themselves emphasizes more on feelings, and especially on love, than on formal regulations.  Some consequences of these approach are well expressed by John Cobb and David Griffin (1976):

Insofar as the notion that divine love is persuasive is accepted, the exercise of persuasive influence becomes intrinsically rewarding. It takes on that aura of extra importance that has too often been associated with the feeling of controlling others. This change has implications in all our relations, from one-to-one I-thou encounters to international relations. It does not mean that coercive control could be eliminated, but it does mean that such control is exercised as a last resort and with a sense of regret rather than with the thrill that comes from the sense of imitating deity. (p.54)

Meanwhile, the overemphasis on the role of feelings, taking into account the nature of human beings that contains a lot of brutality, did not prepare many Christians to prevent evil actions especially from authorities       

[49] Some original comments have been made by Richard Friedman (2001) concerning the two times evaluation of works done by God on the third day of creation of the world.

Rushi suggested that is because the task of the division of the waters was begun on the second day but not finished until the third. But, in that case, one might still ask why the task had to be thus split between two days. The reason why the second day’s work - the formation of the space, with water above and below – is not pronounced “good” may rather be that God will later choose to break this structure (in the flood story, Gen 7:11). The double notice that “it was good” on the third day may be because (1) the formation of land and (2) the land’s generation of plants are each regarded as creations worthy of notice. This explanation is based on Masoretic Text (MT). The Greek text (Septuagint), on the other hand, includes the words “And God saw that it was good” on the second day as well. It may be that these words were simply omitted from the MT by a scribe whose eye jumped from the first two letters of this line (Hebrew ױ) to the beginning of the next line (“And there was evening…”), which begins with the same two first letters (ױ). This is called haplography.

[50] As a matter of fact, the term beauty could play an essential role in meeting theology and science. The last statement became the subject of the book by Thomas Dubay (1999.)  I highly appreciate the attempt to connect theology and science via beauty. Meanwhile, I don’t discuss this book because I disagree with the author who thinks that beauty is objective. Subjectivity is critical for my concept of beauty. (See my book (2003))

[51]. Christianity, and in particular Catholicism and Orthodoxy, pay a lot of attention to the concept of beauty and its application to art. Even theism is not indifferent to this subject. Along with rational components, religious insights have sometimes been used to judge beauty in mathematics. As William Anglin (1997) mentioned:

Yet another area in which theism has implications for the philosophy of mathematics is that of mathematical beauty. One implication of theism is that a proof should be judged beautiful, not merely in terms of the various marks of beauty— brevity, unification, excitement, and so on— but also in terms of the extent to which it expresses the divine. For the theist, a proof is beautiful insofar as it leads the soul to a closer acquaintance with the Logos, or Reason, of God. Another implication of theism is that the most elegant line of research is also the most promising one. This is because God clothes with beauty only those things which also reveal his truth. There may be truth without beauty, but there is never beauty without truth. (p.187)

[52]  The application of aesthetics to theology was to a great extent developed in Christianity. (See for example the book by John Milbank, et all (2004)). Meanwhile, these developments are mainly foreign to Judaism because they concern subjects that are irrelevant to the last religion like the relation between God and a icon¸ the soul and the flesh, Christ’s beauty, etc.

[53]  Thus the well-known German philosopher Friedrich Schelling (1775-1854) said:

The universe is formed in God as an absolute work of art and in eternal beauty … beauty in which infinite intention interpenetrates infinite necessity. (1989, p. 31)

[54]. Author's footnote: This interpretation of kalos agrees with my earlier remark that during the second day of creation which ends with the creation of the Heaven, God makes no judgment of his work. But on the third day after the creation of the land and the sea God refers to his entire work when He pronounces the judgment "good".

[55] Some interesting comments concerning the meaning of good and

[56]. Christian saints always perform noble deeds or attain sainthood by overcoming evil deeds. Soviet Communist ideology, especially during Stalin's time, portrayed each man who was canonized as a saint as being absolutely virtuous, of never committing any unsightly acts or anything bad. The constellation of the saints includes, for example, Ivan the Terrible, Pushkin, Lenin, and the reigning leader himself, along with his myrmidons. (Even an ordinary instructor from Central Committee of Communist Party of the Soviet Union, as long as he was still in office, was not subject to public criticism for his past or  present actions.)

[57]. I am grateful to Professor Martin Oswald for his comments about some relations between the legends of the Jews and the Greeks.

 


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