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Writing Your Torah

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  • Writing Your Torah

    Mitzvah 16. That every person shall write a scroll of the Torah for himself (Deut. 31:19) (CCA15). See Torah.

    Deuteronomy 31:19 Now therefore write ye this song for you, and teach it the children of Israel: put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for me against the children of Israel.
    • Are Jews here doing this?
    • Should Christians, Muslims, and other non-Jewish believers in God do this, to define which of God's Laws they think should be observed, and which shouldn't or don't need to be, from the Jewish perspective?

    Follow-up primarily for non-Jews, although Jews may weigh in:

    • Which of the 613 Mitzvot do you feel are valid and try to follow?
    • Which do you feel are unnecessary or even abolished today?

    You can discuss and focus on as many or few as you like, why you think they are necessary, why they aren't, why they shouldn't be at all. You can list Mitzvot numbers from Judaism 101 or other sources in THIS THREAD from the Judaism area.

  • #2
    The song isn't the Torah, so I'm really puzzled at how that conclusion can be reached.

    Comment


    • #3
      I agree Writing the song is not writing the law. sort of urging people to write prose, poetry and songs.
      Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
      Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
      But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

      go with the flow the river knows . . .

      Frank

      I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Paprika View Post
        The song isn't the Torah, so I'm really puzzled at how that conclusion can be reached.
        The implication here is that the song is the Law, this is how it's interpreted in Judaism:

        Deuteronomy 31:22 Moses therefore wrote this song the same day, and taught it the children of Israel.

        Deuteronomy 31:24 And it came to pass, when Moses had made an end of writing the words of this law in a book, until they were finished,

        Deuteronomy 32:44 And Moses came and spake all the words of this song in the ears of the people, he, and Hoshea the son of Nun.

        Deuteronomy 32:45 And Moses made an end of speaking all these words to all Israel:

        Deuteronomy 32:46 And he said unto them, Set your hearts unto all the words which I testify among you this day, which ye shall command your children to observe to do, all the words of this law.
        So question for non-Jews could be, even if you think it is not commanded here, would writing your own Torah of God's Laws be helpful, to know which you think apply to you and which don't? For example from Judaism 101 many Christians may accept #1-10 right away -- to know God exists, no blasphemy, etc.

        However for #144 Not to eat the flesh of unclean beasts (Lev. 11:4) (CCN93) non-Jews may disregard that. Etc.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by JohnnyP View Post
          The implication here is that the song is the Law, this is how it's interpreted in Judaism:
          The text doesn't support it.

          “Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak,
          and let the earth hear the words of my mouth.
          May my teaching drop as the rain,
          my speech distill as the dew,
          like gentle rain upon the tender grass,
          and like showers upon the herb.
          For I will proclaim the name of the Lord;
          ascribe greatness to our God!
          “The Rock, his work is perfect,
          for all his ways are justice.
          A God of faithfulness and without iniquity,
          just and upright is he.
          They have dealt corruptly with him;
          they are no longer his children because they are blemished;
          they are a crooked and twisted generation.
          Do you thus repay the Lord,
          you foolish and senseless people?
          Is not he your father, who created you,
          who made you and established you?
          Remember the days of old;
          consider the years of many generations;
          ask your father, and he will show you,
          your elders, and they will tell you.
          When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance,
          when he divided mankind,
          he fixed the borders of the peoples
          according to the number of the sons of God.
          But the Lord's portion is his people,
          Jacob his allotted heritage.
          “He found him in a desert land,
          and in the howling waste of the wilderness;
          he encircled him, he cared for him,
          he kept him as the apple of his eye.
          Like an eagle that stirs up its nest,
          that flutters over its young,
          spreading out its wings, catching them,
          bearing them on its pinions,
          the Lord alone guided him,
          no foreign god was with him.
          He made him ride on the high places of the land,
          and he ate the produce of the field,
          and he suckled him with honey out of the rock,
          and oil out of the flinty rock.
          Curds from the herd, and milk from the flock,
          with fat of lambs,
          rams of Bashan and goats,
          with the very finest of the wheat—
          and you drank foaming wine made from the blood of the grape.
          “But Jeshurun grew fat, and kicked;
          you grew fat, stout, and sleek;
          then he forsook God who made him
          and scoffed at the Rock of his salvation.
          They stirred him to jealousy with strange gods;
          with abominations they provoked him to anger.
          They sacrificed to demons that were no gods,
          to gods they had never known,
          to new gods that had come recently,
          whom your fathers had never dreaded.
          You were unmindful of the Rock that bore you,
          and you forgot the God who gave you birth.
          “The Lord saw it and spurned them,
          because of the provocation of his sons and his daughters.
          And he said, ‘I will hide my face from them;
          I will see what their end will be,
          for they are a perverse generation,
          children in whom is no faithfulness.
          They have made me jealous with what is no god;
          they have provoked me to anger with their idols.
          So I will make them jealous with those who are no people;
          I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation.
          For a fire is kindled by my anger,
          and it burns to the depths of Sheol,
          devours the earth and its increase,
          and sets on fire the foundations of the mountains.
          “‘And I will heap disasters upon them;
          I will spend my arrows on them;
          they shall be wasted with hunger,
          and devoured by plague
          and poisonous pestilence;
          I will send the teeth of beasts against them,
          with the venom of things that crawl in the dust.
          Outdoors the sword shall bereave,
          and indoors terror,
          for young man and woman alike,
          the nursing child with the man of gray hairs.
          I would have said, “I will cut them to pieces;
          I will wipe them from human memory,”
          had I not feared provocation by the enemy,
          lest their adversaries should misunderstand,
          lest they should say, “Our hand is triumphant,
          it was not the Lord who did all this.”’
          “For they are a nation void of counsel,
          and there is no understanding in them.
          If they were wise, they would understand this;
          they would discern their latter end!
          How could one have chased a thousand,
          and two have put ten thousand to flight,
          unless their Rock had sold them,
          and the Lord had given them up?
          For their rock is not as our Rock;
          our enemies are by themselves.
          For their vine comes from the vine of Sodom
          and from the fields of Gomorrah;
          their grapes are grapes of poison;
          their clusters are bitter;
          their wine is the poison of serpents
          and the cruel venom of asps.
          “‘Is not this laid up in store with me,
          sealed up in my treasuries?
          Vengeance is mine, and recompense,
          for the time when their foot shall slip;
          for the day of their calamity is at hand,
          and their doom comes swiftly.’
          For the Lord will vindicate his people
          and have compassion on his servants,
          when he sees that their power is gone
          and there is none remaining, bond or free.
          Then he will say, ‘Where are their gods,
          the rock in which they took refuge,
          who ate the fat of their sacrifices
          and drank the wine of their drink offering?
          Let them rise up and help you;
          let them be your protection!
          “‘See now that I, even I, am he,
          and there is no god beside me;
          I kill and I make alive;
          I wound and I heal;
          and there is none that can deliver out of my hand.
          For I lift up my hand to heaven
          and swear, As I live forever,
          if I sharpen my flashing sword
          and my hand takes hold on judgment,
          I will take vengeance on my adversaries
          and will repay those who hate me.
          I will make my arrows drunk with blood,
          and my sword shall devour flesh—
          with the blood of the slain and the captives,
          from the long-haired heads of the enemy.’
          “Rejoice with him, O heavens;
          bow down to him, all gods,
          for he avenges the blood of his children
          and takes vengeance on his adversaries.
          He repays those who hate him
          and cleanses his people's land.”
          This is the song, and not the law.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Paprika View Post
            The text doesn't support it.

            This is the song, and not the law.
            At this point all of the Laws are not replicated, rather what you've cited is an accompaniment to Moses speaking the Law to the people:

            Deuteronomy 32:44 And Moses came and spake all the words of this song in the ears of the people, he, and Hoshea the son of Nun.

            Deuteronomy 32:45 And Moses made an end of speaking all these words to all Israel:

            Deuteronomy 32:46 And he said unto them, Set your hearts unto all the words which I testify among you this day, which ye shall command your children to observe to do, all the words of this law.
            What you cited isn't about commands for people to observe, but about what God does. So the Book of the Law is the same as the song, a witness.

            Deuteronomy 31:19 Now therefore write ye this song for you, and teach it the children of Israel: put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for me against the children of Israel.

            Deuteronomy 31:26 Take this book of the law, and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee.

            Comment


            • #7
              The content of the Law and the song are different. While they may share the function of being a witness, that doesn't imply identity. Moreover, the referent of 'this song' and 'this book' are not necessarily the same thing, and you have not shown that they are.
              Last edited by Paprika; 02-05-2014, 03:17 AM.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Paprika View Post
                The content of the Law and the song are different. While they may share the function of being a witness, that doesn't imply identity. Moreover, the referent of 'this song' and 'this book' are not necessarily the same thing, and you have not shown that they are.
                I have. Much of what you cited is all about Laws of idolatry anyway. It's an accompaniment to Laws, an additional admonition to remember the Law and not stray from it.

                Psalms 119:53 Horror hath taken hold upon me because of the wicked that forsake thy law.

                Psalms 119:54 Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage.

                Psalms 119:55 I have remembered thy name, O LORD, in the night, and have kept thy law.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by JohnnyP View Post
                  I have. Much of what you cited is all about Laws of idolatry anyway. It's an accompaniment to Laws, an additional admonition to remember the Law and not stray from it.
                  You have not. It is an accompaniment, yes, but it is not the Law itself.

                  Psalms 119:53 Horror hath taken hold upon me because of the wicked that forsake thy law.

                  Psalms 119:54 Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage.

                  Psalms 119:55 I have remembered thy name, O LORD, in the night, and have kept thy law.
                  The speaker is saying that his songs contains God's commandments, not that the 'song' in Deut 31 is equivalent to the Law.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Paprika View Post
                    You have not. It is an accompaniment, yes, but it is not the Law itself.

                    The speaker is saying that his songs contains God's commandments, not that the 'song' in Deut 31 is equivalent to the Law.
                    Do you expect all of God's Laws -- like much of Leviticus -- to be repeated in Deuteronomy 31, in order for them to be part of the song?

                    Once again it's implied that God's Laws are what is stated, it's not ever implied they are separate things:

                    Deuteronomy 32:44 And Moses came and spake all the words of this song in the ears of the people, he, and Hoshea the son of Nun.

                    Deuteronomy 32:45 And Moses made an end of speaking all these words to all Israel:

                    Deuteronomy 32:46 And he said unto them, Set your hearts unto all the words which I testify among you this day, which ye shall command your children to observe to do, all the words of this law.
                    I think we are just going to have to agree to disagree. Anyway one point of this thread is mainly for Gentile Christians to explore how we may really think about how some of God's Laws apply to us, how others don't, and discuss. We can still write our own Torah and reason as to why it includes some Laws and excludes others, regardless of what you think Deuteronomy 31:19 means. One goal in mind being to be more thoroughly prepared in an apologetic setting when faced with accusations of cherrypicking our favorite Laws and neglecting others out of personal desire and convenience.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by JohnnyP View Post
                      Do you expect all of God's Laws -- like much of Leviticus -- to be repeated in Deuteronomy 31, in order for them to be part of the song?

                      Once again it's implied that God's Laws are what is stated, it's not ever implied they are separate things:
                      The song contains none of the laws; it has no command or any of the Mosaic Law in its content whatsoever. Therefore it is clear that the song is neither the Law nor a synecdoche of it.

                      You're choosing to be deliberately obtuse. Taken in isolation, it is possible that the referents of "this"'s are the same, but the context rules it out.

                      We can still write our own Torah and reason as to why it includes some Laws and excludes others, regardless of what you think Deuteronomy 31:19 means. One goal in mind being to be more thoroughly prepared in an apologetic setting when faced with accusations of cherrypicking our favorite Laws and neglecting others out of personal desire and convenience.
                      Agreed. Before TWeb was reborn, I started my own exploration into the issue, and have learnt a lot through the process.
                      Last edited by Paprika; 02-06-2014, 06:34 AM.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Paprika View Post
                        The song contains none of the laws; it has no command or any of the Mosaic Law in its content whatsoever. Therefore it is clear that the song is neither the Law nor a synecdoche of it.

                        You're choosing to be deliberately obtuse. Taken in isolation, it is possible that the referents of "this"'s are the same, but the context rules it out.
                        Again, that you would expect every Law given in the Pentateuch to be restated in order for it to be included is reading it too literally. Context of "Deuteronomy 32:44 ..spake all the words of this song" and "Deuteronomy 32:46...all the words which I testify among you this day...all the words of this law" suggests Deuteronomy 32:1-43 accompanies a stating of all the Laws in those books, they are all simply not restated here which would be highly redundant. Some other commentary relating my own position:

                        ..."the rabbis regularly understood Deut 31:19...to refer not only to the specific song that follows, but to the Torah as a whole..." -Deuteronomy and Exhortation in Hebrews

                        It is a positive command incumbent on every Jewish man to write a Torah scroll for himself, as [Deuteronomy 31:19] states: "Now, write for yourselves this song." Our sages received the interpretation of this verse as: Write the entire Torah which contains this song [Ha'azinu]. -Torah.org

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          It says to speak the words in the ears of the children of Israel. This is the "Oral" part of the Torah-text. It's the cantillation that allows the letters to be broken down into words and phrases. The Oral-Torah is expressly forbidden to be "written" down. Even the cantillation, the punctuation, is not allowed to be placed on the synagogue scroll. The scroll in any synagogue is written without punctuation.

                          The written Torah-text is placed in the Ark of the Covenant, and the song, the cantillation (which transforms into punctuation) is taught verbally to Israel. The two are never to be combined in an authoritative Torah-text. In this way, the text remains open to the possibility of a new Hymn being taught, which would amount to the letters of the text being broken down differently, into different words, and different sentences, telling a different story.

                          . . . For those unfamiliar with the traditions, the Torah-text received by Moses was a consonant only text There were no vowels, and no punctuation, no breaks whatsoever. Just a long string of consonants:

                          אלחדהאוודנסנוותהתהועוהפנאותנתאהד
                          אחסוופנפואותנוותנעווסנאנתוונסאואודונ
                          דסאהפלאלפדהאפחדאלותלנפוואנתנוו

                          It would look something like that.

                          In English it would be like this:

                          mnvbghjtyrwsdvbmnbxypklqwbvnhgftypl
                          pkjhbhmncvxzwqrytghbvzxcbmnhgfdswq
                          wqynmmbmrdghcvzbcnmkjlqwpkjhdghm
                          Last edited by Xtian Rabinovich; 02-07-2014, 12:06 AM.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Xtian Rabinovich View Post
                            In this way, the text remains open to the possibility of a new Hymn being taught, which would amount to the letters of the text being broken down differently, into different words, and different sentences, telling a different story.
                            I'm glad you brought this up. Do you see a relationship to these ideas?

                            Revelation 14:3 And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.

                            Revelation 15:3 And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.
                            As to a different story, if you can clarify:

                            Does it only relate to Deuteronomy 32:1-43, or all of Torah as expressed in the Pentateuch.

                            If Torah, does it relate to changing God's Laws, or to changing application of Laws in different circumstances.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by JohnnyP View Post
                              Again, that you would expect every Law given in the Pentateuch to be restated in order for it to be included is reading it too literally. Context of "Deuteronomy 32:44 ..spake all the words of this song" and "Deuteronomy 32:46...all the words which I testify among you this day...all the words of this law" suggests Deuteronomy 32:1-43 accompanies a stating of all the Laws in those books, they are all simply not restated here which would be highly redundant.
                              A explanation which takes into account the fact that no law is found in the song would be that God asked Moses to write and speal of two separate things, the law and the book, which also have different functions.
                              “Take to heart all the words by which I am warning you today, (CI)that you may command them to your children, that they may be careful to do all the words of this law.
                              The song foretells the rebellion of Israel and God's punishment of Israel for not following the law. Thus Moses says "take to heart all the words of [the song]" so that you will know the consequences of breaking the law and command them to your children so that they will be careful to do "all the words of the law"

                              Some other commentary relating my own position:...-Deuteronomy and Exhortation in Hebrews
                              Let's see what else the book says on the same page:
                              The primary implications of the relationship between the Song and the torah are given by this arrangement, though scholars have drawn different conclusions as to the nature of their association...Alternatively, the Song has been viewed either as a torah (distinct from the torah of chapters 1-30) or as part of the torah already present in the whole book
                              So the experts disagree. When this is so just quoting one expert opinion does not suffice at all. What does the author think?
                              Either explanation is possible as both accord the song torah 'status', yet one wonders whether either fully captures the Song's torah 'scope'. Since Deut 32:44 incorporates both the singing/teaching of the Song and the giving of the law, the two are more likely treated as distinct, but complementary, parallel entities
                              Look, you can't just cherrypick one expert opinion from a source, especially when the author of the source lists other expert opinions and himself prefers one different from one you cited.

                              Comment

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