Monday, August 16, 2010

Ki Taytzey

The Wall Street Journal had an article in this past weekend's edition entitled The Power Trip, written by Jonah Lehrer, about power and how it affects the ways in which people behave.
Please re-read last year's post about Ki Taytzay and think about what it says concerning power, lack of power, and the restrictions that can and should be placed on power.

Some things to think about:

  • Last week we read that a king of Israel, if there is to be one, should have a copy of the Torah in his possession at all times during his reign.  How is this related to this week's parasha?
  • Many of the most disturbing passages in this parasha prescribe punishment for certain acts that seem to us to be out of proportion to the acts themselves (like stoning a 'stubborn and rebellious child').  The rabbis of the Talmud and since have explained that such punishments never were used and never will be. (If you want to read a translation of the original text in the tractate Sanhedrin, go to this site and read folios 68 - 71) If this is the case, why was the Torah written as it was?  How do we answer those who say that the God of the Tanach, the God of the Jews, is a vengeful God?
  • Some of the mitzvot in this week's parasha are easy to understand - they make sense to us as moral.  Others appear arbitrary and without justification.  Pick one mitzvah which makes sense to you and explain 
    • How do you understand this mitzvah?   
    • How do you explain it to people who wonder about it?
    • What do you think about it in today's world?
  • Pick another mitzvah which seems arbitrary - that doesn't seem to have any moral basis.  Try to answer the same three questions as above.  Can you do it?  If you can, fine.  If you can't, what does that mean for how you understand Torah?

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