o 1312 BCE
o Story of Joseph/Moses and the jew’s fleeing Egypt
Should the jewish people serve the pharaoh or god??
o Moses asks the Pharoah to let his people go, the Pharoah says no
o There are then 10 plagues, and the Jewish people are able to flee with God’s guidance through moses
(commemorated by passover)
o Moses leads the people back to the promised land, however, they do not believe they can defend themselves against
the enemies who are occupying the land (Ninth ofAv)
Couldn’t trust in god’s power
God was disappointed that they failed to have faith
o Moses then gives the “revelations at Sinai”
o Diaspora of Jews from the land of Jerusalem
o Began in 6 century BCE with the Babylonian exile
o Many jews were deported to Babylon
o Jerusalem falls to Nebuchadnezzar and Solomon's Templedestroyed (Ninth ofAv)
• Song of Miriam[sister of moses] (Exodus 15):
o Victory song
o About being rescued from bondage is Egypt – very important in tradition
o Exodus – comprises many stories
o Moses, leaves Egypt, because recognizes himself as a Hebrew and that they are being mistreated
o Goes back to liberate the people
o 10 plagues, formulaic, shaped memory of the past, paradigm for other enslavements
o Continual power of the exodus story
o Giving of the law – who will they serve, the Pharaoh, or God? Narrative power of the Passover
o Idea that they will serve god by obeying the law that Moses gave at Sinai – committed to people that liberated them
o Worship of a national god – this one God, worship god that liberated them from slavery
o Time of trauma, loss – not everyone in exile
• Covenant of David (2 Samuel 7):
o Blessings are promised to the family and posterity of David. These promises relate to Solomon, David's immediate
successor, and the royal line of Judah. But they also relate to Christ, who is often called David and the Son of David. To him God gave all power in heaven and earth, with authority to execute judgment. He was to build the
gospel temple, a house for God's name; the spiritual temple of true believers, to be a habitation of God through the
Spirit. The establishing of his house, his throne, and his kingdom for ever, can be applied to no other than to Christ
and his kingdom: David's house and kingdom long since came to an end. The committing iniquity cannot be
applied to the Messiah himself, but to his spiritual seed; true believers have infirmities, for which they must expect
to be corrected, though they are not cast off. (2Sa 7:18-29)
Two Houses for David
• Moves capital of Israel to Jerusalem
• David is in Jerusalem and he has a prophet (Nathan)
o Being addressed by God
• Eternal covenant made with David in David’s house (two houses)
• Dynasty of King David
o One of his descendants would always be the king
• The temple
o Solomon would build the temple (David’s son)
• These would be established for ever and God would live in the temple
• Would establish Messiahism
• Procedure where they poured oil over the head (anointing)
o Mashiah▯ messiah, is created with this anointing
o God is going to make good on this covenant
o One of the foundational guarantees (Sinai covenant and Covenant of David)
o Zion covenant, Zion theology
o Isaiah is a book that unveils the full dimensions of God’s judgment and salvation. God is “the Holy One of Israel”
(see 1:4; 6:1 and notes) who must punish his rebellious people (1:2) but will afterward redeem them (41:14,16).
Israel is a nation blind and deaf (6:9–10; 42:7), a vineyard that will be trampled (5:1–7), a people devoid of justice
or righteousness (5:7; 10:1–2). The awful judgment that will be unleashed upon Israel and all the nations that defy
God is called “the day of the Lord.”Although Israel has a foretaste of that day (5:30; 42:25), the nations bear its
full power (see 2:11,17,20 and note). It is a day associated in the NT with Christ’s second coming and the
accompanying judgment (see 24:1,21; 34:1–2 and notes). Throughout the book, God’s judgment is referred to as
“fire” (see 1:31; 30:33 and notes). He is the “Sovereign Lord” (see note on 25:8), far above all nations and rulers
o Yet God will have compassion on his people (14:1–2) and will rescue them from both political and spiritual
oppression. Their restoration is like a new exodus (43:2,16–19; 52:10–12) as God redeems them (see 35:9; 41:14
and notes) and saves them (see 43:3; 49:8 and notes). Israel’s mighty Creator (40:21–22; 48:13) will make streams
spring up in the desert (32:2) as he graciously leads them home. The theme of a highway for the return of exiles is a
prominent one (see 11:16; 40:3 and notes) in both major parts of the book. The Lord raises a banner to summon the
nations to bring Israel home (see 5:26 and note).
o Peace and safety mark this new Messianic age (11:6–9). Aking descended from David will reign in righteousness
(9:7; 32:1), and all nations will stream to the holy mountain of Jerusalem (see 2:2–4 and note). God’s people will
no longer be oppressed by wicked rulers (11:14; 45:14), and Jerusalem will truly be the “City of the Lord” (60:14).
o The Lord calls the Messianic King “my servant” in chs. 42–53, a term also applied to Israel as a nation (see 41:8–9;
42:1 and notes). It is through the suffering of the servant that salvation in its fullest sense is achieved. Cyrus was
God’s instrument to deliver Israel from Babylon (41:2), but Christ delivered humankind from the prison of sin
(52:13—53:12). He became a “light for the Gentiles” (42:6), so that those nations that faced judgment (chs. 13–23) could find salvation (55:4–5). These Gentiles also became “servants of the Lord” (see 54:17 and note).
o The Lord’s kingdom on earth, with its righteous Ruler and his righteous subjects, is the goal toward which the book
of Isaiah steadily moves. The restored earth and the restored people will then conform to the divine ideal, and all
will result in the praise and glory of the Holy One of Israel for what he has accomplished.
• Lament of Rachel:
o Rachel was a widow and a mother
o In Jeremiah 31:15, the prophet speaks of 'Rachel weeping for her children' (KJV). This is interpreted in Judaism as
Rachel crying for an end to her descendants' sufferings and exiles following the destruction by the Babylonians of
the First Temple in ancient Jerusalem. According to the Midrash, Rachel spoke before God: "If I, a mere mortal,
was prepared not to humiliate my sister and was willing to take a rival into my home, how could You, the eternal,
compassionate God, be jealous of idols, which have no true existence, that were brought into Your home (the
Temple in Jerusalem)? Will You cause my children to be exiled on this account?" God accepted her plea and
promised that, eventually, the exile would end and the Jews would return to their land.
o Jewish rebel army who took back control of Judea
o Reasserted Jewish religion
o Reduced influence of Hellenism
o Tied to the celebration of Hanukkah (rededication of the temple)
Only had enough oil for one day, but it miraculously burned for 8
• Judith and the New Exodus:
o The nature of God. In Chapter 8 Judith rebukes the town officials for trying to make God in their own image It's a
remarkable description of what God is and is not.
o Making the best of what you've got. Judith was not a soldier, but she killed a fearsome warrior of the ancient
world. She did this by using the gifts she had: beauty, intelligence, and ruthless cunning.
o Ingenuity (and faith in God) are better than brute strength. Judith's story is a variant on the David and Goliath
story, where a seemingly weak person triumphs over a person of superior strength.
o She is a symbol of the Jewish people, who relied on God's help and their own abilities to overcome their enemies.
They were surrounded throughout their history by huge and fearsome kingdoms, but God stood by them when they
called on his help.
• Bontcshe the Silent (Peretz)
o "Bontsche" is the story of an extremely meek and modest man, downtrodden on earth but exalted in heaven for his
modesty, who, offered any heavenly reward, chooses one as modest as the way he had lived. While the story can be
read as praise of this meekness, there is also an ambiguity in the ending, which can be read as showing contempt for
someone who cannot even imagine receiving more.
o He lived unknown and in silence, and in silence he died
o In loneliness he lived and in loneliness he died
o When he died two angles brought him a golden throne as well as a crown and jewels
He was silent with fear
He figured this was either a dream or a mistake
o Bontsche became a coach man, and he was no longer poor
o He has always suffered and he has always remained silent
o No one understands him
o His silence had never been rewarded, but it was in paradise
This breaks his silence
• Gimpl the Fool (Singer)
o Tells the story of Gimpl, a simple bread maker who is the butt of many of his town's jokes. o “Anything is possible “
o “Ah, You’re kidding”
Two sayings Gimpl believed in
o Other people made fun on him for this, and took advantage of him
o He wanted to leave and go to another town
But a matchmaker found him a match, a women who was pure, but who took care of her small brother (ELKA)
o Rabbi asked if bride was a widow, or divorced,
She answered both a widow and divorced, but Gimpl didn’t run away from under the marriage canopy
o His wife would not let him near her, he waited…four months later his wife gave birth
He asked how he could be his, she said he was pre-mature,
“Isn’t he a little too premature?”
Elka insisted that the child was his
The Rabbi said that belief is beneficial, a good man lives by his faith
Better to be a fool all your days than be evil for one hour
o Gimpl began to forget his sorrow, he loved the child and the child loved him
o Gimpl lived 20 years with his wife, and they had 6 children
o All sorts of things happened that he didn’t see or hear…he believed, and that was all
o Suddenly, Elka got sick, before she died, she said “forgive me Gimpl”, he asked what there was to forgive… she said
“it was ugly how I deceived you all those years”
o She said that the children were not his
o The way she deceived Gimpl was the meaning of her short life
o The spirit of evil told Gimpl that the whole world deceived him and that he should deceive them, Gimpl was worried
about the world to come, evil said there is not world to come and that there is no god
o Gimpl cried, “what is there then??”
He didn’t know what to do…
So he left the children and wandered the land
• He stayed with families and told his story to the children
“it is an imaginary world, but it is only once removed from the true world”
moral of the story= what is the good in not believing?
• Gimpl has dreams..
o 1 dream he learns that he cannot be all believing
o 2 dream he learns that he can no longer be naïve
o the result is that he finds a balance between embracing truth, but not falling for falsehoods
he looks towards a more simple and truthful afterlife
this has a correlation with God and the covenants with the Jewish people (like book of Issiah)
• Zeidel the Pope (Singer)
o Singer explores what happens when someone who seems to be staying well within the faith, can be tempted by the Evil
One who wants to take him away from his beliefs: beliefs that the evil narrator calls into question, and though we may
not be happy with siding with the Evil One, the values Zeidel possesses and the life he practises seem hardly condoned
by the narrative.
o Zeidel “possessed such intensity that all his surroundings acquired his character. Though a servant took care of his
rooms, the furniture was always covered with dust.”
o Even when Zeidel marries a “beauty”, even though “untroubled by passions or the need to make a living”, the narrative
appears unsympathetic towards him. Yet isn’t the narrator and narrative one and the same here; doesn’t the first person
narrative voice create the story, give it the context for its telling? Perhaps usually, but not always, otherwise why
would we bother having the term an unreliable narrator unless a gap was created between the narrator and the
narrative? There is no necessary link between a first person narrator and the narrative being told, and in this instance what Singer gives us is a tale with an unsympathetic narrator and an unsympathetic central character, and we find the
value in the space in between.
o Though there is Singer’s double rectitude in the moral tale contained by religion, it doesn’t at all lead to a smooth
moral affirmation, but a strangely perplexing one. Here the narrator admits that he wants to destroy a man, but we also
realize that maybe the man needs to be destroyed because he lives too narrowly for spiritual growth, no matter his
mastering of the religious texts, and possession of a brilliant mind.
o “Are you aware that you outshine all other grammarians in your knowledge of Hebrew?…”, the devil tells him. “Are
you aware that you know more of the Cabala than was divulged to Reb Chaim Vital? Do you know that you are a
greater philosopher than Maimondes?”
o Yet this is not the same thing as spiritual development; it is in his destruction that Zeidel becomes an object lesson for
o As Zeidel gets tempted by pride, as the Evil One insists he can get the respect he deserves if he converts to
Catholicism, so Zeidel gives up his goods and property and divorces his wife.
o All potential signs of profound virtuousness, but of course the Evil One knows that he has appealed to Zeidel’s pride:
the moral of the story is contained by the questionable religiosity of the character, who, versed in theology, initially
Judaism and then Catholicism, loses his soul instead of finding it.
o As the Evil One says near the end of the story, “Drawing my sword I finished him off, took hold of his soul and,
accompanied by a band of demons, flew to the nether world.”
• Kabbalists (Peretz)
set in a school, it used to have a lot of pupils but now there is only the elderly teacher and one pupil. The
community it drew it students from has fallen on hard times and people can no longer afford to send their sons to
• The master and student are dressed in very old clothes and survive on small food donations.
• The student refuses to quit as all his peers did, he had a deep faith that his master's teachings
will lead him to unity with God.
• The teacher was focused on discovering hidden meanings in the words of David. He is attempting to
listen to the music of a choir ofAngels. It is easy to wonder if this does not come from the Platonic notion
of the music of the spheres, from medieval Neo Platonists doctrines.
• The student cries out in death at the end of the story and the teacher says the Devine
choir needed another singer. The villagers all wish for such a glorious death.
• Soviet Jewish Experience
• Russian empire – 1917 – Bolshevik Revolution – replacement of the Russian monarchy by socialist terrorists.
Pronounced elections are not needed – totalitarian power of the workers instead of democracy
o Idea that Bolsheviks know what’ best
o Were also not going to honour debts to borrowers, lenders
o Civil war from 1918-1920 – taking place where jewish population lives
o Change of national boundaries, etc.
o 1919 – 5 million jews in Russian empire.Are in the middle of the battle – also making choices – who and what
do they support? The white army or the revolution?
o Chose the red army – jews participating in socialist movements
• Bolshevik policies – no more private property, no private business – idea about sharing wealth o The church no longer has any legal power. Was richest institutions in Russia – much gold, jewels in icons and
architecture, big and rich – church as an escape
• Also practising muslims, catholics, protestants, buddist, jewish – were interested in fighting all of the religions of the
• Judaism – is a tribal religion – if you practice it, you are a Jew, even if not practicing it – are still a Jew – becoming a
member of the tribe. Either are, or aren’t
• Judaism – religious practice is only a part of being a Jew. In order to have a jewish life, must maintain Kosher, need to
be circumcised, follow the commandments, keep Sabbath – commandments, rules
• Kosher – no mixing meat and milk, can only eat certain types of meat, fish, birds. Needs to be slaughtered in a ritual
• Idea of corruption in religious leaders in Russia – government encouraging this, introducing fierce and effective fights
against religion. Much anti religious propaganda
• No more ritual slaughtering of meat for jews – thus slaughtering goes underground, or stop eating meat.
• Jewish circumcision – same people who were slaughtering animals – much attachment in community – kosher,
circumcision, synagogues, weddings, stopped.
• Idea of free love spread – no marriages, fighting everything old
• Freedom from family, old institutions, etc.
• Much change during this time – much violence, vulnerability, gang violence, destruction of property, ethnic hatred, rape
– children from free love – country filled with children form violence, rape – many children being abandoned,
orphaned. Many orphans – estimates of around 2 million
• Special orphanages made to rear perfect soviet people
• Much anti-jewish violence – riots, rapes, looting, both red and white army attacking jewish population
o Red army officers – purposefully stressed that they were not anti-Semitic
o Thus, jewish sided with red army because Red army has better propaganda for the jews. Shifted alliances to
Jews under Bolsheviks
• Good things – Pale Settlement* - settlement where jews from west had to live – but not allowed to settle in large
centres – was closed.
• Before revolution, could not have land – thus could be self sufficient, thus jews forced to take other occupations in
craft, skill work, money lending all restrictions lifted. Jews encouraged to settle on land, could live where they want • Certain percentage could not enter university – thus jews trained abroad, many became doctors because no program
there – many took advantage of going abroad to study
• Women, granted equal rights, citizens, including jewish men and women
• Young jewish people eagar to get out of pale settlement, and embrace new opportunities outside of Russia
• Women view point as traditional in jewish community – specific rights and obligations for women. Usually literate, but
also encouraged to educate them
• People who are going away to study – alienated from their culture, traditions. Thus choice, could stay in settlement,
maintain lifestyle, or can go and be a doctor and will not go back to rules of Judaism - must decide between the two
• However, majority of jews did not resist the soviet policies against the jews. Jewish community not always just
embracing religion – saying goodbye to Judaism in favour of social mobility, rebellion, enjoyed new message of
freedom from Judaism**
• Choice between union and community
• However, soviets created alternative mode of Jewishness – took religion out, left them with Yiddish language as a way
to Jewish – needed anyway to teach them about values of Soviets in jewish – opened soviet jewish schools, but also
learned why Judaism is no longer needed in their life, not relevant for them – creation of a ‘free’ jew, need to be a
citizen that speaks Yiddish
• Encouragement from Russia to have Yiddish authors come back to teach, lead community – government provides
money for funding, high artistic value
• Government paying Jewish culture development
• Land, shared past, and language – what makes Jews, opposed with finding this
• Zionist movement – emphasis on finding land – idea of jews developing their own land and protecting themselves.
Gaining support for jewish settlement in Palestine
• Soviet Union – decides to give jews the land in North part of Black Sea – jewish agricultural settlements there – would
live and build settlements there
• American jews – excited – looks like state is supportive
• Joint Distribution Committee – sending agricultural equipment in mid 1920s, go to teach on how to run agriculture
• However, jews met with hostility, harassment – government had to close the project.
• Decided to give them the land that no one wants because the idea was so popular – “Soviet Zion”. Far from the pale
o Called BIRO BIJAN o However, horrible climate – people left. Many black flies
o Yet still exists – is Yiddish, but are not jewish
• Idea of a jewish land, sponsored by the state – very popular
o Neighbors (Jan T Gross)
"The centerpiece of the story I am about to present in this little volume falls to my mind, utterly out of scale: one
day, in July 1941, half of the population of a small East European town murdered the other half—some 1,600 men,
women and children" (p. 7). What happened in this tiny Polish village 40 miles west of Bialystok is an horrific
story which Gross offers in