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Embarking on a journey of faith: 

Ignite Your Curiosity: Explore a Thought-Provoking Dialogue

Delve into a profound discussion between a Jew and a Khazar:

  • Examine the concept of a chosen people amidst allegations of wrongdoing.

Unravel the Enigma of Human Nature:

  • Ponder the nature of Adam and Eve: perfect creations or the source of sin?

Trace the Legacy of Values and Traits:

  • Uncover how divine qualities and values are passed down through generations.

Confront the Paradox of Free Will and Destiny:

  • Explore the intricate interplay between human choice and predetermined fate.

Unveil the Dynamics of Divine Intervention:

  • Decipher the extent of God's involvement in the world and humanity's actions.

Embrace Curiosity and Critical Thinking:

  • Engage in stimulating discussions, challenge assumptions, and embark on a journey of intellectual exploration.

The Lineage of Chosen Ones
Seeds of Divinity: How the Divine Spark Passed Through Generations

  1. Al Khazari: Take care, O Rabbi, lest too great indulgence in the description of the superiority of thy people make thee not unbearable, causing thee to overlook what is known of their disobedience despite the revelation. I have heard that in the midst of it, they made a calf and worshipped it.
  1. The Rabbi: A sin reckoned all the heavier on account of their greatness. Great is he whose sins are counted
  1. Al Khazari: This is what makes thee tedious and makes thee appear partial to thy people. What sin could be more significant than this, and what deed could have exceeded this?
  1. The Rabbi: Bear with me a little while that I show the lofty station of the people.
    [1] Adam: A Perfect Being
    For me, it is sufficient that God chose them as His people from all nations of the world, allowed His influence to rest on all of them, and that they nearly approached being addressed by Him. It even descended on their women, among whom were prophetesses, whilst since Adam only isolated individuals had been inspired till then.
    [2] The Inheritance of Divine Influence
    Adam was perfection itself because no flaw could be found in a work of a wise and Almighty Creator, wrought from a substance chosen by Him, and fashioned according to His own design. There was no restraining influence, no fear of atavism, no question of nutrition or education during the years of childhood and growth; neither was there the influence of climate, water, or soil to consider. For He created him in the form of an adolescent, perfect in body and mind. The soul with which he was endowed was ideal; his intellect was the loftiest which it is possible for a human being to possess, and beyond this he was gifted with the divine power of such high rank, that it brought him into connexion with beings divine and spiritual, and enabled him, with slight reflection, to comprehend the great truths without instruction. We call him God's son, and we call all those who were like him also sons of God. He left many children, of whom the only one capable of taking his place was Abel, because he alone was like him. After Kain had slain him through jealousy of this privilege, it passed to his brother Seth, who also was like Adam, being [as it were] his essence and heart, whilst the others were like husks and rotten fruit. The essence of Seth, then, passed to Enosh, and in this way the divine influence was inherited by isolated individuals down to Noah. They are compared to the heart; they resembled Adam, and were styled sons of God. They were perfect outwardly and inwardly, their lives, knowledge and ability being likewise faultless. Their lives fix the chronology from Adam to Noah and from Noah to Abraham.
    [3] The Spread of the Divine Influence (To a Nation)
    There were some, however, among them who did not come under divine influence, as Terah, but his son Abraham was the disciple of his grandfather Eber, and was born in the lifetime of Noah. Thus the divine spirit descended from the grandfather to the grandchildren. Abraham represented the essence of Eber, being his disciple, and for this reason he was called Ibri. Eber represented the essence of Shem, the latter that of Noah. He inherited the temperate zone, the centre and principal part of which is Palestine, the land of prophecy. Japheth turned towards north, and Ham towards south. The essence of Abraham passed over to Isaac, to the exclusion of the other sons who were all removed from the land, the special inheritance of Isaac. The prerogative of Isaac descended on Jacob, whilst Esau was sent from the land which belonged to Jacob. The sons of the latter were all worthy of the divine influence, as well as of the country distinguished by the divine spirit. This is the first instance of the divine influence descending on many people, whereas it had previously only been vouchsafed to isolated individuals.
    [4] Egypt and the Flourishing of Chosen People
    Then God tended them in Egypt, multiplied and aggrandized them, as a tree with a sound root grows until it produces perfect fruit, resembling the first fruit from which it was planted, viz: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph and his brethren. The seed further produced Moses, Aaron and Miriam, Bezaleel, Oholiab, and the chiefs of the tribes, the seventy Elders, who were all endowed with the spirit of prophecy; then Joshua, Kaleb, Hur, and many others.
    [5] The Visible Presence of God and Imperfections
    Then they became worthy of having the divine light and providence made visible to them.
    [6] The Hidden Essence and Transmission Through Generations
    If disobedient men existed among them, they were hated, but remained, without doubt, of the essence since they were part of it on account of their descent and nature, and begat children who were of the same stamp. An ungodly man received consideration in proportion to the minuteness of the essence with which he was endowed, for it reappeared in his children and grandchildren according to the purity of their lineage. This is how we regard Terah and others in whom the divine afflatus was not visible, though, to a certain extent, it underlay his natural disposition, so that he begat a descendant filled with the essence, which was not the case with all the posterity of Ham and Japhet.
    [7] Nature as a Parallel: The Reappearance of Traits
    We perceive a similar phenomenon in nature at large. Many people do not resemble their father, but take after their grand-fathers. There cannot, consequently, be any doubt that this nature and resemblance was hidden in the father, although it did not become visible outwardly, as was the nature of Eber in his children, until it reappeared in Abraham.
  2. Al Khazari: This is the true greatness, which descended directly from Adam. He was the noblest creature on earth. Therefore you rank above all the other inhabitants of the planet.
    But what of this privilege at the time when that sin was committed?

Questions to sharpen understanding of the Text above:

  • How does the Rabbi justify the chosenness of his people despite their acknowledged failings?
  • What is the significance of Adam's creation and its connection to the argument about the chosen people?
  • How does the Rabbi use the concept of inheritance to explain the transmission of the divine influence?
  • What is the role of the analogy from nature in the Rabbi's argument?


  • Insights of this class from the Chavruta program group Zoom session: 

    As we delve into the Torah, it's crucial to understand its purpose, as it can lead to many mistakes if not approached with the right mindset. This will keep us engaged and interested in our study.

    Some mistakenly believe it opposes science and become angry at any scientific endeavor that contradicts the Torah.

    Let me share a profound truth: Torah and science are not adversaries. This is because we can interpret verses differently from their apparent meaning, as Maimonides taught us, or simply because the Torah is a book that deals with values and human desire, while science deals with precise empirical measurements. It's like trying to mix the physics department at a university with the sociology department-it's just not the same! This harmony between Torah and science should enlighten us and open our minds to new perspectives.

    This was just one example.

    In our last meeting, we studied Rabbi Yehuda Halevi's conception of the Kuzari through a passage leading up to the sin of the Golden Calf.

    "The Torah is the Creator's revelation to humanity."

    What was once called a prophecy.

    Rabbi Yehuda Halevi's innovation lies in the idea that, without prophecy, we can still perceive the Creator through the unfolding of history and the guidance provided to the people of Israel. According to this perspective, studying the books of Genesis and Exodus is crucial until the moment of complete revelation (prophecy) at Mount Sinai. The term "TOLADOT" mentioned in the Torah refers to "history," which represents a historical process aimed at fostering moral development and creating individuals capable of contributing to a functioning world rather than repeating the failures of past generations such as Cain, the people of the Flood, those involved in the Tower of Babel, and the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah.

    There is one nation - that in the course of history, after two thousand years, received the role of leading the values of truth and morality and instilling them in the whole world. This is a responsibility we should all be proud of. Blessed are those who are fortunate enough to join this nation. Blessed are you from Jerusalem.

    Ah, and it is essential to understand that this is the basis on which we can discuss next week the question of the sin of the Golden Calf and the root of the mistake of the people of Israel.

    1.  

        Unlocking UnderstandingA Step-by-Step Guide to Mastering Texts

        1. Listen and Engage: The first step is actively listening to the Text during your initial read-through. Try to understand the main topics discussed in it.

        2. Comprehend the Text: After your initial read-through, try to understand the author's main ideas. Try to capture the spirit of the Text and its underlying purpose.

        3. Imagination and Connection: Use your understanding of the Text to relate it to familiar scenarios or phenomena you know about. How do the topics discussed in the Text compare to real-life situations?

        4. Delve Deeper into the Text: Once you've grasped the essential components of the Text, revisit it. Try comprehending finer details such as numerical data, examples, and analyses that help you understand the subject matter more deeply.

        5. Reread with Purpose: After delving deeper into the Text, reread it. This time, try to understand the point at which the Text was written without focusing solely on the details. Concentrate on the main ideas and central purpose of the Text.

        With dedication and perseverance, you can unlock the secrets of any text and gain invaluable insights that will enrich your understanding of the world around you. Active engagement is crucial for achieving success in your reading endeavors. Listening attentively, understanding deeply, and connecting the Text to your experiences is essential. Take the time to delve into the finer details, and don't be afraid to ask questions or seek help when needed.

        Embrace the power of knowledge and embark on a transformative learning adventure!

        Enjoying the content? are you reading it on your own?

        "The Rabbi: The faculty of speech is to transmit the idea of the speaker into the soul of the hearer. Such intention, however, can only be carried out to perfection by means of oral communication. This is better than writing. The proverb is: 'From the mouths of scholars, but not from the mouth of books.'" (Kuzari)


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