Sunday, September 21, 2014

A Congregant's Reflection Regarding Torah Study

Congregant Ludwik Kowalski offered the following reflection to share following the resumption of Saturday morning Torah study the past two Saturdays:

A reflection

Quoting Abraham Geiger, in Judaism's Great Debates: Timeless Controversies from Abraham to Herzl, our Rabbi wrote: "How much longer can we continue this deceit... presenting stories from the Bible as if they were actual historical happenings?" I was thinking about this quote during our Torah study, last year. Would Geiger criticize our attempts to interpret these stories by using modern psychological (Freudian) terms? I suspect he would say that scientific terminology should not be used to analyze legendary situations.

This of course is far from obvious. Should Biblical stories be discussed in the same way as real historical events or should they be analyzed in the same way as literary fiction? Debating true social and political situations, we usually enrich our knowledge about what really happens in our world; analyzing fiction, we usually try to understand why authors invent different characters and different situations. Today was our second Torah study meeting of the year. Suppose Geiger were with us. He would probably notice that our approach was more "historical" than "fictional." Would he find this consistent with Reform Judaism?

We are happy always to share the differing views of members of our congregation here on our blog, noting that the views expressed are those of the individual congregant, and do not represent positions taken by the congregation as a whole, its leadership or clergy.

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