Re: The Sacrifice of Isaac

Andy Kohlenberg (akohl@netmedia.net.il)
Sun, 08 Dec 1996 20:15:55

In response to Saul Oresky's thoughtful comments about the Akeyda (binding
of Isaac) Yosey Goldstein (tf 94) wrote:
>I have made this statement many times in earlier postings in this forum,
>but it needs repeating. While it is true that one may honestly and
>earnestly question any topic in the Torah, to offer answers, viewpoints and
>opinions based on just a reading of the text and without having read through
>the basic commentaries on the Chumash, is not the path to real
>understanding.......

I disagree quite strongly with what Yosey Goldstein is saying here.

I say that reading and working out the meaning of the narratives of the
Torah, Prophets and Writings without reference to the commentaries is
most definitely the first leg of "the PATH to real understanding".

Only someone who has first read the Torah carefully, with close attention
to its details and its themes, and with great emotional receptivity to
its values and sentiments will truly appreciate the genius of scriptures and
the great commentators like Rashi.

After one has read "mikra", scriptures, he should then turn his attention
to "mishna" the teachings of the Rabbis, including their interpretations of
scriptures (Pirkey Avot 5:21). The first step on the path to Torah knowledge
is a direct encounter with the scriptures. This makes scriptures meaningful
on a subjective level It also prepares him to be able to understand the
great wisdom of the Sages including their brilliant commentary on scriptures.

Yosey Goldstien continues:

>The Torah is not a story. It is not even History. It is
>Hashem teaching us his divine will and the ONLY way to understand what he
>meant to convey to us is be learning the explanations of the Torah.

I take exception to this comment as well.

Of course the Torah contains stories! Of course the Torah contains
historical narratives! Story telling in particular is one of the Torah's
most effective media for transmitting its brilliant teachings to its readers!

Therefore, is seems to me that the best way for beginners to begin to learn
how to understand the Torah's brilliant teachings is to learn how to read
stories, which is exactly what Torah Forum readers like Saul Oresky are
trying to do.

Kol Hakavod!

Andy & Roochie Kohlenberg
akohl@netmedia.net.il