Thursday, December 22, 2011

Wisdom VS Torah

Rabbi Rami Shapiro is a religious relativist, not a fan of halakah, and tends to exist on the margins of Jewish thought and ideas, a place he seems extremely comfortable to dwell.

This shows in his translation and annotation of the book of Proverbs. Shapiro is very loose in this translation (as he is in all of his translations) and this is purposefully so; he seeks to shift the emphasis on certain words and phrases to advance his non-dualist view of Judaism. He does this along the line of Jewish translators who produced "targums" translations in Aramaic that expressed the agenda of the translators and their community.

Shapiro also shows us, in this work and others, how varied views of God and reality are in the canonical books of the Hebrew bible. The Bible is not a unified book, but an anthology about God, human beings, and the world. As such, Proverbs is not overly fixated on God. It is a practical book of ethics, meant to guide people not through mitzvot or divine intervention, but through the application of their own minds and actions. 

Shapiro sees this as a universal mode of seeking, common to many cultures. It is a way to be a good person without the specific injunctions of the Torah. However, he does say that the Torah accomplishes much the same goal, but only in the more limited world of the Jews.

This in itself is an interesting idea, and I hope Rabbi Shapiro explores it more in the future.

No comments:

Post a Comment