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Department
Religion
Course
RLG202Y1
Professor
Adam Green
Semester
Winter

Description
March 6, 13 Jewish Philosophy - Different schools of thought: - Kalam (Church Fathers)– Islamic theology – Western take on theology - Neo-Platonism – (Plato) – Developed by Philo and Plotinus – Allowed for the fact that the world emanates from a one (what ever that one is). The origin of everything – They believe that emanation occurs in different stages: intellect, soul, world, + one more. - Aristotelianism – (Aristotle) – He is the father of science. Most profound and serious challenge to religion. Empiricism - Philo Judeas – Forgotten by the Jews (until the 16thC) - Harry Woolfson – Theory that Western theology begin with Philo and ends with Spinozza. - Isaac Israeli – Book of Definitions and Book of Elements – Taken seriously by Christians – Maimonides denounced him. - Saadia Gaon – The Book of Beliefs and Opinions – First high point – Responded to the Karaites. - Bahya ibn Pakuda – in the Neo-platonic school – how you can use science and rational ethics to get closer to G-d. - Solomon ibn Gabirol – The Source of Life – a dialogue and treis to answer the question of emanation of the one, divine will, and neo- platonism. - Judah HaLevi – The Kuzari – Dialogue between a Kzar king and the person who converted him. - Abraham ibn Daud – Spanish – 1110 – 1180 – First one to embrace aristotilianism – The Sublime Faith - Maimonides - Levi Gersonides – Southern France – (Ralbag) – Invented certain microcscope and early cameras – wrote commentaries on commentaries of Aristotle. The Wars of Lord. – Tires to take Christian philosophy – he comes close to Deism. - Hisdai Crescas - The Light of the Lord - Critic of Maimonides – philosophy is incompatible with religion. Accepts the idea of a vacuum. - Judah Abrovanel – Dialogues on love – signals on modern times. - - Maimonides - In 1985 – UNESCO held an international conference – Celebrate the 850 anniversary of Maimonides. - 1135 – 1204 - From Moses to Moses, there‟s non like Moses – Showing how he is equivalent to Moses the prophet. - Everyone after Maimonides just argue if he was right or wrong. - Born in Cordova, Spain and died in Cairo, Egypt - Had to leave Spain because of the Almoeds – Had to choose between the exile or convert to Islam. - Became a doctor – Taken on by the Sultan of Cairo – The physician of the Sultan and his family. - No official position in the Jewish world. - 2 truth claims, philosophy/science and religion/faith – he brought both together in harmony. - Also known as Rambam (Rabbi Moses Ben Moshe) - Also known as the great eagle – Can see more, protective of young, threatens to attack. - Decisive influence on all of Jewish philosophy. - Influence in modern Judaism. - Mendelssohn, Herman Cohen, Leo Strauss, Spinoza. - Also on Arabic philosophy - Major Works: - 1) Guide of the Perplexed – Written in Judeo-Arabic – 1190 – Limited readership. A scholar in Provence, France translated it to Hebrew (Ibn Tibn). He writes this book in a format of a series of letters to his student Rabbi Joseph – He is going to write it esoterically – he also said he might contradict himself – he is deliberately trying to mislead the ignorant. Deals with the question of how to read the Bible. – They take what is on the surface to be true. 1) Anthropomorphism – one of human‟s biggest mistakes – G- d has no body – incorporeal – They read the Bible literally (outstretched arm) – anyone who reads it this way is a fool/heretic. Then 2) Critic of the Kalam – how to demonstrate the existence of G-d, what a prophet is (made and rise), famous story of Ezekiel, divine providence, question of human perfection. - 2) The Law Code – Mishnah Torah – Encompasses areas which most scholars have left out – things that have nothing to do with contemporary Judaism – included the Temple laws, agricultural laws. Turns repentance into a legal area. Deals with knowledge of both Talmudim. His book is called - A repetition of the Torah, or The Second Torah. Very bold statement. Account of messianic age – they will be free of oppression and free to peruse knowledge. His only work he wrote in Hebrew. - 3) The Book of the Commandments – He ordered them by logical ordered – not by the Torah. - 4) Medical Treatises – Wrote on depression, another on sexual intercourse, Medical aphorisms (a true physician should also be a philosopher) - 5) Scientific Treatises - 6) Massive Commentary on the Mishnah – Started when he was 23 and finished at 33 – Massive preparation of his code of law. Introduction to the section of Seeds. Wrote the 8 chapters – ethics, agreement - Introduction to the Sanhedrin – 13 principles of Jewish faith: 1) G-d exists 2) unity 3) incorporeal 4) eternity 5) G-d is the only being fitting to worship 6) Prophecy is true 7) Moses is the greatest of the prophets 8) The Entire Torah was reveled by G-d 9) The Torah is eternal 10) G-d is omniscient 11) Rewards the virtuous and punishes the wicked 12) here will be a messiah 13) There will be an end of Days – there will be a miraculous resurrection of the dead. - 7) Wrote letters – Responsa – all over the Jewish world – turned into separate books. Letter to the Jews of Yemen, Letter proving his belief in resurrection, Letters to the Rabbis of Southern France (what does he think of astrology? – He demolishes astrology – form of idolatry – the reason they lost their kingdom). A letter on martyrdom. Wrote a letter to a convert – He says that a convert is a complete equal of a Jew. - Why did he get in so much trouble? th th - Maimonidean controversy – From 12 – 17 C. - Very controversial - 1) Denounces anyone who believes that G-d is a body is a heretic. Abraham bin David wrote a reply to this – Better and wiser Jews than he that G-d has a body. He agrees that G-d doesn't have a body but you shouldn't be called a heretic if you did. - 2) Does away with all anthropomorphic views of G-d by means of the Allegorical Method – There‟s one thing on the surface and under. – Once you see what is under the surface you don't need the surface. - 3) Used philosophy – a lot of people thought it was the opposite of Judaism. - 4) If he was sincere in his belief in the resurrection of the body. – He never mentions it in the Guide to the Perplexed. - 5) In the intro of the Mishnah Torah – When you have fully studied my book you are free from studying the Talmud – people thought this was way over the line. - 6) He never cites his sources in the Guide to the Perplexed. - 7) Represented the final blow of the Babylonian/Gaon system. - Maimonides coming out of nowhere becomes the leading theologian/political leader. This was the death of the Babylonian system. You didn't need the official authority of the Babylonian community. - 8) In the GttP – Reasons for the commandments – He says because the Pagans did them – Sacrifices were the “in” thing – but in fact the sacrifice was to wean them away from Pagan gods. - 9) Blind faith is not only not the peek of religious virtue, but the sign of an idiot – faith must be an intelligent faith – following as a parrot is not intelligent faith. – For simple people its fine, but for anyone who has any level of intelligence, they must be enlightened. You must take it higher. Anyone who doesn't is an idiot. - 10) His use of esoterism – elitism – Writing for the elite and the multitude. People thought that was dismissive of the ordinary believer. Believed that intelligence comes with a moral obligation. - 11) One of his works was a failure – but very radical – he thought that Rabbis and Jewish leaders should not be paid individuals. He felt it was a corrupting thing. Religious leaders will make their sermons towards their backers. - 12) In the last 4 chapters of the GttP – The only true access to G-d is through the mind/intellect – long effort of mental discipline – it‟s not knowledge that gets you close to G-d but love – love being intertwined with intellectualism – understanding as much of G-d as we can. - 13) Gave in the commentary of the Mishnah – the 13 principle of Jewish belief – For centuries people said this is not Judaism – they don't represent the principles of Judaism – What you believe is as important as what you do. - 14) When he denounced astrology he touched a nerve – a lot of people thought it was closer to G-d. To him it embraces magic – and it has lost its way – denounces it in horrible words to bring them back to religion. March 13, 13 - What is Mysticism? - Not the same as religion – it usually appears within the context of established religions. - Some kind of individual connection with G-d - The mystic claims to have risen to a height that cant be reached from just regular religion. - Tends to be the case that mystics are inclined to aesthetic practices (usually involving, food, solitude, sex, etc… - deny themselves pleasure). - Orgiastic – Being concerned with physical things - Antinomianism – Anyone who opposes the order of things. - Connection with magic – The mystics believe the forces which operate in the universe are not observable. – Trying to get hold of the levers of how the world runs. - Oracles – the mystics often believe that there are communications from the other side which come to us. - The fate of the soul – is not tied to the ordinary forces – a concern of the mystic. - Only available to certain people. - Mysticism – elitist phenomena - Gershom Scholem - Major Trends of Jewish Mysticism - Where does mysticism appear in religion? - There are basically 3 stages in religion - 1) The mythological stage – paganism, polytheism, gods are everywhere - 2) Demythologization – de-anthropomorphism – the physical attributes are metaphorical – a great deprivation for some souls. - 3) Mystical stage – the mystic tries to bridge the abyss – to bridge the finite to the infinite. - Mysticism is about a direct experience/intuition of G-d. - This comes after religion has restricted G-d. - Starts to appear in Rabbinic texts - They start talking about things which were “unknown” - 2 Biblical texts – Maaseh Breshit – Account of beginning (Gen 1) - Maaseh Merkavah – account of chariot (Ezek 1 and 10) - Chariot has wheels within them with eyes and starts to ascend – 4 animals pulling it – lion, bull, man,… - With wings above and below – very hard to understand what‟s going on. - 1 C or 2 /3d rd Era of CE it appears - The pardes (PaRDeS) – originally from Persian – orchard – a mystical place where mystics aspire. - The four who entered the Pardes: - 1) Ben Azai – looked and died - 2) Ben zoma – looked and goes mad - 3) Akivah – went in in peace and out in peace - 4) Elisha (known as Acher [other] - heretic) – went in and became a pulled out (heretic) - When you get to the gates of pure marble do not say “water, water” because he who… - The word Kabbalah and the word Mysticism – Kabbalah doesn't appear until the common era. - The first phase of Jewish mysticism is Yordai HaMerkavah (The riders of the chariot – those who descend to the chariot) – Hechalot Mystics (palaces) - There are 7 palaces/domains/heavens. - You have to ascend - The dangerousness process - Elitist – it can lead people astray - Unio mystica – Mystical union – direct immediate contact – can they have that with G-d? - Metratron – G-d‟s “right hand man” – G-d doesn't get in to the concerns of the universe. - You can have a direct relationship with that angel, and some say that angel is G-d. - Probably appeared in the wake of the 6thC - 1) Shiur Komah - „The measurement of the body‟ (of G-d). They want to talk about G-d with having a physical body – They say, G-d has an arm but billions of miles long – too long to conceptualize. – They get around the problem of anthropomorphism. This book is a commentary of the song of songs. - 2) Sefer Yetzirah – „The book of formation/creation‟ – Doesn't really tell a story – the stream that takes the Hebrew language very seriously. Mystical commentary on the 22 letter of the Hebrew alphabet – and the numbers from the letters. They find in these letters the secrets to the world that exists – mystical periodic table. G-d made the universe out of the Hebrew letters. If you can understand those things – manipulate those letters you become an agent of the world. They call the first 10 letters – Sefirot – the 10 powers of the universe. - - Hasidai Ashkenaz – The pious of Germany - Appears in the times of the Crusades. - Pietistic Movement – concentration on piety. – protecting oneself from the forces of evil. - Sefer Hassisdim - They put their emphasis - 423 Seltzer – Summary of 6 features - 1) Emphasis Love of G-d – and man and woman but in relation to G-d. Sacrificing oneself for G-d is the extreme act – Response to the martyrness of the Jews during the Crusades. – The supreme act of love - 2) They stress the immediate presence of G-d. G-d is everywhere - 3) The powers and forces which are between worlds – kavod – glory - 4) Divine names – The divine name itself is a key to getting at G-d – great magical power if you are in control of it. Gematria – Each Hebrew word has a meaning and a numerical value – take the numerical value of one word and the same with another and find the connection. - 5) Demons – using magic against those forces. - 6) Concept of prayer – The replacement for the ancient sacrifices and it is a vehicle for the direct contact with G-d. - 7) Rigorous morality - - Phase #2 of Jewish mysticism - Kabbalah – To receive – reception – tradition - The Zohar – The book of Jewish mysticism - Written in a kind of bazar Aramaic (Neo-Aramaic) – Written by Moses de Leon – Medieval text. – Spanish Jew – Disciple of Maimonides – Mystical commentary on the Torah. - Ayn Sof – the infinite – One type of G-d - Then there is a G-d which is concealed and a G-d which is revealed. - Sefirot – Hebrew word for counting - 10 Different manifestations of G-d. - 1) The top – Keter (crown) - 2) Chochma – Wisdom (right side) - 3) Binah – Intelligence (left) - 4) Chesed – Mercy (right) - 5) Din – Justice (left) - 6) Tiferet – Beauty (center) - 7) Yesod – foundation (center) - 8) Malchut - Kingdom (center) - 9) Netzah – Endurance (right) - 10 Hod – Slander (left) - What do they represent in a totality? - Different ways of understanding them – The Cosmic Man – Each of them is a kind of the body - Saw sex as part of the divine reality. - It is also seen as a cosmic tree - And another version of it – Circles in circles in circles…. And in the center is Earth (us). - The key is that the human is a divine mirror of the divine – connected with G-d. - It is about the physical - G-d emanated out of himself different – Spiritual form of this - Why would Scholem say this is the rebirth of mythology? - Myth – stories of the life of the gods. - You could say that these are the 10 gods - Divine potencies – The way G-d expresses itself in the world. - Male and female sexuality – a connection between the divine - Everything bellow mirrors above. - They turned it into a practical doctrine - The commandments of the Torah are an instruction manual – related to one of the 10 sefirot. - Phase 4: - Wake in the expulsion of the Jews in Spain - Isaac Luria - One of the great figures of Jewish mysticism - 1534 – 1572 - Not so much a systematic thinker – a pictorial thinker – using pictures he has contrasted… - He gathers disciples - One of the great non-writing prophets of history. - His theory – basing himself off the great disaster of Spain - Cosmic Catastrophe - In Luria‟s conception there is a point to specialize G-d – Why is there anything other than G-d. - G-d had to make space within himself for non-G-d. - How? – He widthdrew from an empty spot – he contracted away from it - 1) tzimtzum – contraction – A rebirth of Gnosticism – 10 jars – G-d poured his spirit – in doing so something went wrong – the jars broke – they couldn't hold the spirituality of G-d… - 2) Shvirot hakalim – The breaking of the vessels. …they spilled down and were sparks. The jars start to form around the sparks (the lower to the higher). And that is our world. – The beginning of the world is a great catastrophe. - 3) Tikkun Olam – The restoration/repairing the world – Our challenge in our life is to restore the world to its original wholeness. - Shabtai Tzvi - Nathan of Gaza – finds a rational for the conversion – he must go to the
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