Monday, August 8, 2022

Judaism on One Leg- Bein Adam l'Chavero-Between Human and Human


 Aug 6 2022


 For access to the video:

The metaphor of the 10 Commandments:

The rules Bein Adam Lamakom Between Human and the Eternal One - all arrayed on one side. Beyn Adam Lechavero- Between Human and Human--all arrayed on the other side.) Honoring Parents-is on the God side)

Here is Charleton Heston, AKA Moses, holding the 10 Commandments. (Note the use of the ancient Israelite script.) On his left arm, the commandments "Bein Adam La Makom"- Between Human and Divine-and on the right arm, the commandments " Bein Adam L'Chavero"-Between Human and Human( his companion}.50-50 split in obligations ( but actually 60-40 human/divine as the command to honor parents is on the divinity side!)



Old Rabbinic Premise:

Derech Eretz Kadmah Latorah-

Literally- The Way of the World Predates the Torah.

As understood- Derech Eretz, the actual workings of daily life, of producing our needs, and of working with fellow human beings is a prerequisite to religion or Torah.

Derech Eretz-Productive Labor—B zeat apecha= by the sweat of your brow.

Derech Eretz- Proper behavior towards one’s fellow.


אמר רבי ישמעאל בר רב נחמן: עשרים וששה דורות קדמה דרך ארץ את התורה, הדא הוא דכתיב (=זהו שכתוב) "לשמֹר את דרך עץ החיים"[2]. "דרך" - זו דרך ארץ ואחר כך "עץ החיים" - זו תורה.

— מדרש רבה ויקרא פרשה ט', פסקה ג', וכן פרשה ל"ה, פסקה ו'

R. Ishamel b Nachman: 26 generations proceed with the actions of Derech Ertez before the giving of the Torah, == it is based on a play of the story of the exit from Eden, the Angel guards the way (derech) to “ etz HaChayim( Tree of life-Torah). Thus,”derech”( work/human relations) precedes Etz Chayim- Torah.

 PS This is a rabbinic negation of teh concept" The way of the world is too much withus."

Numerous Rabbinic dicta in this same vein:

Hillel- Kol HaTorah al Regel Achat-


That which is hateful to you do not do to another; that is the entire Torah, and the rest is its interpretation. Go study.

דעלך סני לחברך לא תעביד. זו היא כל התורה כולה, ואידך פירושה הואץ זיל גמור.

This is negative phrasing of the Golden Rule attributed to Jesus in Christian scriptures. Both formulas exist in earlier Jewish sources.


Similarly- Rabbi Akiba is asked=klal Gadol batorah:

ספרא ב׳:ט״ז:י״א

"וְאָֽהַבְתָּ֥ לְרֵעֲךָ֖ כָּמ֑וֹךָ אֲנִ֖י יי." ר' עקיבא אומר זה כלל גדול בתורה.

Rabbi Akiba States: The Great Prinicpal of the Torah is : Love Your Neighbor as Yourself.

Note-Also, in Christian Scriptures, together with “ V’ahavta”,( Mark 12) attributed to a question by a Scribe/teacher, but in another version,( Luke 10) he asks a scholar of the law what it is, and he states it to Jesus.

Similar position in the Talmud-what was actually commanded to us at Sinai:

How many commandments do we have?Talmud Makkot 23b

[THEREFORE GAVE HE THEM TORAH (TEACHINGS) AND MANY COMMANDMENTS . . . ] R. Simlai when preaching said: Six hundred and thirteen precepts were communicated to Moses, three hundred and sixty-five negative precepts, corresponding to the number of solar days [in the year], and two hundred and forty-eight positive precepts, corresponding to the number of the members of man's body …


David came and reduced them to eleven [principles], as it is written, A Psalm of David(15). Lord, who shall sojourn in Thy tabernacle? Who shall dwell in Thy holy mountain? — [i] He that walketh uprightly, and [ii] worketh righteousness, and [iii] speaketh truth in his heart; that [iv] hath no slander upon his tongue, [v] nor doeth evil to his fellow, [vi] nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour, [vii] in whose eyes a vile person is despised, but [viii] he honoureth them that fear the Lord, [ix] He sweareth to his own hurt and changeth not, [x] He putteth not out his money on interest, [xi] nor taketh a bribe against the innocent. He that doeth these things shall never be moved. ‘

Isaiah came and reduced them to six [principles], as it is written(33:15), [i] He that walketh righteously, and [ii] speaketh uprightly, [iii] He that despiseth the gain of oppressions, [iv] that shaketh his hand from holding of bribes, [v] that stoppeth his ear from hearing of blood, [vi] and shutteth his eyes from looking upon evil; he shall dwell on high”

Micah came and reduced them to three [principles],(6:8) as it is written, It hath been told thee, O man, what is good, and what the Lord doth require of thee: [i] only to do justly, and [ii] to love mercy and [iii] to walk humbly before thy God.

Again came Isaiah (56:1) and reduced them to two [principles], as it is said, Thus saith the Lord, [i] Keep ye justice and [ii] do righteousness [etc.]

Amos came and reduced them to one [principle], (5:4) as it is said, For thus saith the Lord unto the house of Israel, Seek ye Me and live… But it is Habakuk who came and based them all on one [principle], as it is said, But the righteous shall live by his faith.(2:4)

Better: But the righteous man is rewarded with life
For his fidelity. [ Luther founded Protestant Reformation on this verse, basing on Emunah-faith-not Hebrew-loyalty (per Buber :
Jewish faith -Hebrew Emunah-and Christian belief -Greek Pistis]


What is our largest source text:

The same source as “ Love Your Neighbor”-Lev 19-The Holiness Code.

for text

all highlighted” I am the Lord”


The obligation to be walk in God’s path: walking in all His ways” (Deuteronomy 11:22).

כִּי֩ אִם־שָׁמֹ֨ר תִּשְׁמְר֜וּן אֶת־כׇּל־הַמִּצְוָ֣ה הַזֹּ֗את אֲשֶׁ֧ר אָנֹכִ֛י מְצַוֶּ֥ה אֶתְכֶ֖ם לַעֲשֹׂתָ֑הּ לְאַהֲבָ֞ה אֶת־יְהֹוָ֧ה אֱלֹהֵיכֶ֛ם לָלֶ֥כֶת בְּכׇל־

 דְּרָכָ֖יו וּלְדׇבְקָה־בֽוֹ׃ If, then, you faithfully keep all this Instruction that I command you, loving your God יהוה, walking in all God’s ways, and holding fast to [God],



How it is possible to walk “in all His ways”: “As He is merciful and gracious, so be you merciful and gracious. As He is righteous so be you righteous. As He is holy, strive to be holy” (Sifre Deuteronomy 85a).


(Devarim 11:22) "to walk in His ways": Which are the ways of the Holy One Blessed be He? (Shemoth 34:6-7) "The L-rd, the L-rd, G-d of mercy and grace, slow to wrath and abundant in mercy and truth, keeping lovingkindness for thousands, forgiving transgression, offense, and sin, and cleansing …" And it is written (Yoel 3:5) "All who will be called by the name of the L-rd will escape": Now how is it possible for a man to be called by the name of the Holy One Blessed be He? But, (the intent is) just as the L-rd is called "merciful and gracious," you, too, be merciful and gracious, and give gratuitously to all. Just as the Holy One Blessed be He is called "righteous," viz. (Psalms 145:17) "Righteous is the L-rd in all His ways and saintly in all His acts" — you, too, be righteous. Just as the Holy One Blessed be He is called "saintly," — you, too, be saintly.


Critical distinction- We are not a religion of generalities- general guidelines are only that-

We ask for concrete application.


Hence- text of Bible- has specific guidelines for just functioning of society—

Exodus: mishpatim .


Shoftim-Establishment of judicial authority

Limits on the power of the powerful:

Equal justice law—in civil and criminal cases-

Limits on power of King-


Theme continues into Mishnah and followed through in Talmud:

Seder Nezikin(Damages)

Bava Kamma

Liability and compensation for damages inflicted on people or property.

Bava Metzia

Disputed property, returning lost objects, guarding, renting, borrowing, and responsibilities of workers and employers.

Bava Batra

Relationships between neighbors, land ownership, sales, and inheritance.


The judicial system, forming the court, accepting testimony, and executing capital punishment.


Court-administered lashing, false witnesses, and cities of refuge for inadvertent murderers.


Oaths and the process of atoning for entering the Temple or eating from a sacrifice while impure.


The only tractate without a unified subject, organized as collections of laws on various topics.

Avodah Zarah

Disassociating from idolatry, regulations on business interactions between Jews and idolaters.

Pirkei Avot

Short statements of advice, ethics, and wisdom.


Atoning for erroneous rulings of the court and inadvertent sins of leaders.


And on to Mishneh Torah of Rambam- Extensive on all areas of jurisprudence, civil, criminal, and political.

Shulkhan Arukh- 2 of 4 are interpersonal and social,

Orach Chayim

Daily ritual observance: prayer, Tefillin, Tzitzit, Shabbat, and holidays.

Yoreh De'ah

Ritual slaughter, kashrut, conversion, mourning, niddah, tzedakah, and laws applicable in Israel.

Even HaEzer

Family law: marriage, divorce, sexual conduct.

Choshen Mishpat

Interpersonal laws; financial disputes, damages, courts, and witnesses.


Into the modern State of Israel-

I worked for a short while with the Deputy Attorney General of Israel, Prof Nachum Rakover, whose task was to find precedent in Jewish law for contemporary civil issues. Objective was to find precedent in Jewish law(Mishpat Ivri- Hebrew Jurisprudence, to distinguish from Halakhah)


Example of his work. You can easily see how many contemporary issues were addressed by the sages centuries and centuries ago.









Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Judaism on One Leg: What is Adam/Human Part 2


For July 30 Part 2

For a link to the video discussion:


Some More on Male /Female

Again, go back to my earlier discussion: We can’t understand Adam and Eve without understanding the pagans.


The image of woman in Judaism can only be understood in the context of the attitude of ancient societies, especially in the Middle East, towards women. This, in turn, is rooted in the philosophy of the world.


Forget the myth of the original matriarchal society in which women ruled fairly and justly. It is just that- a myth.


The ancient gods were humans expanded and writ large- male and female, bound up in sex, heterosexual, transsexual, transspecies, anything and everything was seen in this binary of the universe.


From this perspective, we see how males, in writing their interpretations of the world, look at females.


Go back to these Greeks, and how the gods punish man by creating Pandora:


…and golden Aphrodite to shed grace upon her head and cruel longing and cares that weary the limbs. And he charged Hermes the guide, the Slayer of Argus, to put in her a shameless mind and a deceitful nature.  .. For ere this the tribes of men lived on earth remote and free from ills and hard toil and heavy sickness... But the woman took off the great lid of the jar with her hands and scattered all these and her thought caused sorrow and mischief to men.


Hindu sources:

From a classic Text, Mahabharata, Hindu cvilizations greatest epic, compiled around the same time as Hesiod, and the same time as the first of the Biblical Prophets.


How women were created by the Grandsire Brahman . . .There is no creature more sinful, O son, than women. Woman is a blazing fire. …She is the sharp edge of the razor. She is poison. She is a snake. She is fire. She is, verily, all these united together

The puissant Grand sire( Brahama) having ascertained what was in the hearts of the deities, created women. . .  Those, however, that sprang from this creation by Brahman with the aid of an illusion became sinful. The grandsire bestowed upon them the desire of enjoyment, all kinds of carnal pleasure. Tempted by the desire of enjoyment, they began to pursue persons of the other sex. The puissant lord of the deities created Wrath as the companion of Lust. Persons of the male sex, yielding to the power of Lust and Wrath, sought the companionship of women… they are living lies.




As for our neighbors, and closest relatives, the Canaanites:

Ancient Semitic female deities were just tough: Here is Anath ( a name that appears in the Bible “ Shamgar ben Anath”, a great hero like Samson. She appears in Egypt, in the Jewish settlement of Elephantine, as the consort of God!

Don’t mess with her: Tale of Aqhat

Anath gluts Her liver with laughter.
Her heart is filled with joy,
For Anath's hand is victory.
For knee-deep She plunges in the blood of soldiery,
Up to the neck in the gore of troops.. . ..
She washes Her hands in the blood of soldiery,
Her fingers in the gore of troops.

 This image is identified as " Asherah", Anath's counterpart in the Canaanite Myrths.  Look at the skulls

Let’s put first things first.

 The Bible’s Israelite/Hebrew women are all righteous, but the men- not so. On the other hand, the trouble makers are pagans- but some of the saints are also!


( Admittedly, Amos is upset at the wives of the wealthy, “Parot HaBashan, Cows of the Bashan ( over-fed) who oppress the poor and destroy the needy, and Ezekiel complains about the women who mourn the pagan Tammuz, but that’s the exception).


Some Biblical premises:

Understand it is not our concept of equality- can’t read 21st century concepts into the past-but we can extrapolate from past principles to the future:

1)   Ezer Kenegdo

2)   Men and women jointly bound in the covenant at Sinai

3)   Civil and criminal laws apply to both, with an understanding that the male has the economic poser and with it, the economic obligation.

4)   Filial Piety- to both parents- Honor father mother; Fear mother father

5)   From Proverbs -image of wisdom as female, as the first creation, mother as source of Torah and teaching, just as father is. Eshet Chayil- woman as provider and strength of household.


In Rabbinic thought, contrary to Christian, sex is not the original sin. It precedes it:


Rabbi Yoanan bar anina says: Daytime is twelve hours long, and the day Adam the first man was created was divided as follows: …. In the seventh, Eve was paired with him. In the eighth, they arose to the bed two, and descended four, i.e., Cain and Abel were immediately born. In the ninth, he was commanded not to eat of the Tree of Knowledge. In the tenth, he sinned. …(Sanhedrin 38b)



Unity of all humanity:

Various creation myths:

Greek- after the flood- the equivalent to Noah and his wife throw stones over their backs as they walk, and humans are created out of the individual stones—no inherent relation from stone to stone. Thessalian Greek origin myth—they are created out of ants to be fierce warriors.

Rabbinic dictate on commonality and uniqueness of each human being

Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5

How did they admonish witnesses in capital cases? …Therefore but a single person was created in the world, to teach that if any man has caused a single life to perish from Israel, he is deemed by Scripture as if he had caused a whole world to perish; and anyone who saves a single soul from Israel, he is deemed by Scripture as if he had saved a whole world.

 [in some texts, which may be older, it does not have “ from Israel”. The admonition here is because the court had the right to judge only Jews, not non-Jews ( prerogative of the Roman government), hence specifying Israel.]

Again [but a single person was created] for the sake of peace among humankind, that one should not say to another, “My father was greater than your father”.

Again, [but a single person was created] against the heretics so they should not say, “There are many ruling powers in heaven”.

Again [but a single person was created] to proclaim the greatness of the Holy Blessed One; for humans stamp many coins with one seal and they are all like one another; but the King of kings, the Holy Blessed One, has stamped every human with the seal of the first man, yet not one of them are like another.

Therefore everyone must say, “For my sake was the world created.”

Text in Quran: Following story of Cain & Abel, which reflects a Rabbinic midrash:

That is why We ordained for the Children of Israel that whoever takes a life—unless as a punishment for murder or mischief in the land—it will be as if they killed all of humanity; and whoever saves a life, it will be as if they saved all of humanity.)Al  Maida 5 32).

All humanity share a common moral obligation-7 Mitzvoth Bnai Noach- 7 Noachide Laws.

תנו רבנן שבע מצות נצטוו בני נח

 דינין וברכת השם ע"ז גילוי עריות ושפיכות דמים וגזל ואבר מן החי

The Sages taught in a baraita: The descendants of Noah, i.e., all of humanity, were commanded to observe seven mitzvot: The mitzva of establishing courts of judgment; and the prohibition against blessing, i.e., cursing, the name of God; and the prohibition of idol worship; and the prohibition against forbidden sexual relations; and the prohibition of bloodshed; and the prohibition of robbery; and the prohibition against eating a limb from a living animal.

Commentary of the Meiri on Sanhendrin 47

Any Noahide that we have seen has accepted upon himself the seven Noahide laws is one of the righteous people of the world and is included in the category of "religous people" and has a share in the world to come


Mishneh Torah, Repentance 3:5


(ה) וכן חסידי אומות העולם, יש להם חלק לעולם הבא.

(5) The righteous of the non-Jews also have a portion in the World to Come


Even on idolatry, we do not forcibly stop them:

אין רוב עובדי כוכבים מינין סבר לה כי הא דאמר ר' חייא בר אבא א"ר יוחנן נכרים שבחוצה לארץ לאו עובדי עבודת כוכבים הן אלא מנהג אבותיהן בידיהן

Chulin 13b

The Gemara asks: But don’t we see that there are? The Gemara answers: Say the majority of the people of the nations of the world are not heretics, and with regard to slaughter[referring to shechitah=who may be a shchet] one follows the majority. The Gemara notes: Rabba bar Avuh holds in accordance with that which Rabbi Ḥiyya bar Abba says that Rabbi Yoḥanan says: The status of gentiles outside of Eretz Yisrael is not that of idol worshippers, as their worship is not motivated by faith and devotion. Rather, it is a traditional custom of their ancestors that was transmitted to them.



Nature of the Human Being:

An old teacher of mine told me his father’s explanation of Jacob’s ladder: Sulam mutzvav artza- The ladder is stuck in the ground, but rosho magai hasmayma- The head reaches up to the heavens.

Turn between two lovers- oy li meyitzri voy lli me yotzri.

Freud- tri=partite human mind- id- ego-superrgo- transposition into modern language of

“ yester hatov”- the good inclination, and “ Yezter hara” sitting on each shoulder, with the self in the middle.

The concept of freedom of choice: God to Cain, when he is upset: Chet rovetzet tachat

If you do well, shalt you not be accepted? and if you do not well, sin crouches at the door, and to you shall be its desire. Yet you may/will rule over him.

(Timshel- key word in Steinbeck-East of Eden)

U bacharta bachayim- You shall/can choose life(Deut 30:19)

Hakol tzafui -ve;hareshut nitnah

הַכֹּל צָפוּי,

 וְהָרְשׁוּת נְתוּנָה

, וּבְטוֹב הָעוֹלָם נִדּוֹן.

 וְהַכֹּל לְפִי רֹב הַמַּעֲשֶׂה

Avot 3:15

Everything is foreseen yet freedom of choice is granted, And the world is judged with goodness; And everything is in accordance with the preponderance of works.

[alternate reading- Hakol Tazun- Everything is hidden]


Kabbalistic concept- the human being, as manifested in the Jew, is responsible to bring redemption by tikkun, by raising the Nitzotzot Hakosh- the sparks of holiness, that are buried in the physicality of the universe. Each mitzvah raises that redeems that spark and returns it to God. This is the concept of the human being created for a higher purpose.