Contributor Post Created with Sketch. The “Why” of the Mishkan (Tabernacle)

 

For the Lord will again delight in your well-being, as He did in that of your fathers, since you will be heeding the Lord your God and keeping his commandments and laws that are recorded in this book of the Teaching—once you return to the Lord your God with all your heart and soul.

Surely, this Instruction which I enjoin upon you this day is not too baffling for you, nor is it beyond reach. It is not in the heavens, that you should say, ‘Who among us can go up to the heavens and get it for us and impart it to us, that we may observe it?’ Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who among us can cross to the other side of the sea and get it for us and impart it to us, that we may observe it?’ No, the thing is very close to you, in your mouth and in your heart, to observe it. (Deuteronomy, 9-14)

For many of us, G-d, the Mishkan, and the Torah are obscure and inaccessible. Many observant Jews have learned from a young age that precisely observing the mitzvot is the path to holiness, the means to being a good Jew and to living an honorable life. They are also taught the symbols of Judaism and what they represent. Life is filled with holy observances, praying to G-d, and following the customs and laws.

For Jews who are at the other end of the practice spectrum, who may have only a secular identity as a Jew (for a multitude of reasons), Judaism only provides an ethnicity, sometimes an appreciation of the Ten Commandments, and perhaps a mix of practices to observe the holidays, whether they attend a Seder or go to synagogue once a year at Yom Kippur. And of course, there are many Jews within and in between these extremes who determine on their own the degree and depth to which they will live as Jews.

As different as the two extremes of observance seem to be, they have one thing in common. Few people ask one simple question: why. Why do we offer certain prayers? Why do we follow certain practices? Why do we have designated holidays? Why do we have any of the accouterments of the Jewish religion?

For example, why are there show-breads in the Mishkan? We have a commandment to provide them but seemingly no explanation. Similarly, why are we supposed to offer sacrifices? Or the ark that was built to protect the tablets of the Ten Commandments—why was the ark built as it was, and why are we instructed to put the tablets inside the ark, and not somewhere else?

We might be tempted to pull back from pursuing the “why” question for a myriad of reasons, including our assumption that we are not able to discover answers, or deserving of those answers. But, It is not in the heavens, that you should say, ‘Who among us can go up to the heavens and get it for us and impart it to us, that we may observe it?’ Isn’t that question part of the mystery of G-d? Is it appropriate to want to know the mind of G-d? Aren’t these the kinds of questions we are supposed to accept on faith?

But Moshe assures us that the “why” question is significant: (1) G-d wants us to explore these questions; (2) G-d has written the Torah so that it is not beyond our understanding; (3) An understanding of Torah is available to everyone. He says, “No, the thing is very close to you, in your mouth and in your heart, to observe it.” The words that reflect our grasp of Torah rest on our lips, ready to be articulated, and in our hearts, to be experienced. As long as we draw breath and have access to the text, the words are always available to us and can become part of our very being.

Ultimately in the book that we are writing, we will talk about the meaning of the symbols of the Mishkan, why G-d wanted us to build the Mishkan, the place where He would reside among us. But before we take that journey, let’s explore the “why” of the Mishkan and Torah and why it is so valuable.

Jewish Commandments: How Specificity of Practice Differs from “Why” We are Commanded

The Mishkan and everything it includes provides us with the opportunity to understand what G-d wants us to know, as well as how we can most fervently experience our lives, our relationship with others and our connection with G-d. Certainly, the symbolism of practices provides that connection to some degree. And the symbolism of some of these commandments is much more apparent to the casual reader than are others. For example, the Menorah, when lit, illuminates the world around it; it allows us to see the world more clearly, and reminds us that we are to be a light to the world.

But the question “why” asks us to take that understanding even further: why are we called to light the Menorah in particular? G-d provided light through Creation, and we know that He wants us to continue his creativity. So how do we use light to be creative, and what does it mean to bring light to, or enlighten, the world? Perhaps it means that we are to be instrumental in offering wisdom in a time of global depravity: we can offer hope to those who are suffering; we can teach others alternatives to evil action; we can model how to be in relationships, how to treat others, how to handle life’s difficulties, how to demonstrate resiliency. When we offer these kinds of wisdom and teachings, we are indeed shining a light within the world. We also, through our actions, remind ourselves that we are to live our own lives in these same ways.

We want to emphasize that when you ask “why,” your own answers might be entirely different than ours. Or you may identify a modest answer at first, if you are new to this process, and build on it, or refine it, over time. The key here is not to come up with the “right” or “perfect” answer: it is the process, rather than the product, that builds a relationship with G-d! Rather, we want to suggest that it is a spiritual journey in taking your practice to a deeper level. Asking “why” takes you on a path of curiosity, exploration, and learning. It enlivens your practice, allowing your observance to expand and be enriched, and will strengthen your relationship with others and with G-d. You will be fulfilling G-d’s call to be creative and to be intimate with Him, to understand your place in the world, and to pursue your life with delight and love.

The “why” question can be applied to any aspect of Judaism; remember, G-d delights in our love of learning. And since G-d argued and discussed concerns with our forefathers, G-d certainly is not surprised if we argue with him, especially if we do it in the spirit of growth. We only need to remind ourselves that we are encouraged to ask questions, not to take things, ideas or teachings for granted, but to embody them as we learn them. That kind of dedication requires us to be open, curious and willing to be surprised; we never know what we will discover! But G-d is waiting for us to show up, to be inquisitive and not be afraid. As Jews, He calls us to be present, open and available in our relationships and in our lives.

This post was co-authored by @iwe and me.

Published in Religion & Philosophy
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There are 25 comments.

  1. Mark Camp Member

    Thanks, you two.

    If Ricochet were

    …the Ricochet School, an early 21st century social and philosophical movement…

    instead of a website, and we were all scholars, instead of bloggers, this is an article that we would be discussing at our next conference*.

    *which would be held somewhere in Italy with fantastic food**, in my fantasy.

    **and at the outdoor cafe that we’d congregate at each evening, the server would look like Marion Cotillard in A Good Year. But that’s getting away from the subject, sorry.

    • #1
    • August 22, 2019, at 7:22 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  2. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    Thanks, you two.

    If Ricochet were

    …the Ricochet School, an early 21st century social and philosophical movement…

    instead of a website, and we were all scholars, instead of bloggers, this is an article that we would be discussing at our next conference*.

    *which would be held somewhere in Italy with fantastic food**, in my fantasy.

    **and at the outdoor cafe that we’d congregate at each evening, the server would look like Marion Cotillard in A Good Year. But that’s getting away from the subject, sorry.

    You’re very kind, Mark. I love the idea. Except the food will need to be kosher! ;-)

    • #2
    • August 22, 2019, at 7:24 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  3. Mark Camp Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    Thanks, you two.

    If Ricochet were

    …the Ricochet School, an early 21st century social and philosophical movement…

    instead of a website, and we were all scholars, instead of bloggers, this is an article that we would be discussing at our next conference*.

    *which would be held somewhere in Italy with fantastic food**, in my fantasy.

    **and at the outdoor cafe that we’d congregate at each evening, the server would look like Marion Cotillard in A Good Year. But that’s getting away from the subject, sorry.

    You’re very kind, Mark. I love the idea. Except the food will need to be kosher! ;-)

    I’m in. Do the Italians know how to make borscht like my landlady used to make?

    • #3
    • August 22, 2019, at 9:30 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  4. Rodin Member

    For the reasons you articulate, @susanquinn, the Torah is a supporter of Natural Law: [T]he thing is very close to you, in your mouth and in your heart, to observe it is a statement that that which is true can be discerned from the behavior and experience of mankind. This was Charles Kessler’s formulation of Natural Law as understood by our Founders. G-d is written in the DNA and both our laws and His must address the very real impulses and opportunities that humans represent.

    • #4
    • August 24, 2019, at 10:31 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  5. Mole-eye Member

    From a Christian perspective, Susan, you are echoing Jesus, in his ministry to encourage fulfillment of the spirit of the laws, beyond mere observance of the laws. I’d argue that you can’t fulfill the spirit of the laws unless you ask why they are there.

    Taking the Kashruth for example, WHY is it important to avoid “unclean” foods? Well, the health benefits are obvious, but beyond that is reverence for life. God wants his chosen to be healthy, to live life to the fullest, the better to glorify their creator, live long enough to grow spiritually and in wisdom, have and raise healthy children, etc.

    A friend commented that the ban on pork was because pigs were fed the same food as human children, and that in the region at the time, children would be often go hungry because the food they needed was diverted to the pigs.

    Leviticus has always been a slog for me, and I haven’t worked out why the fat of the kidneys has to go onto the sacrificial fire. Perhaps you will explain in your next post?

    • #5
    • August 26, 2019, at 3:24 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  6. Mark Camp Member

    Mole-eye (View Comment):
    Taking the Kashruth for example, WHY is it important to avoid “unclean” foods? Well, the health benefits are obvious,

    I don’t know of any obvious health benefits, or even any health benefits for which there is strong scientific support. Lobster, pork, and cheeseburgers are provably healthy foods, as far as science is concerned.

     

    • #6
    • August 26, 2019, at 3:20 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  7. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Mole-eye (View Comment):

    From a Christian perspective, Susan, you are echoing Jesus, in his ministry to encourage fulfillment of the spirit of the laws, beyond mere observance of the laws. I’d argue that you can’t fulfill the spirit of the laws unless you ask why they are there.

    Taking the Kashruth for example, WHY is it important to avoid “unclean” foods? Well, the health benefits are obvious, but beyond that is reverence for life. God wants his chosen to be healthy, to live life to the fullest, the better to glorify their creator, live long enough to grow spiritually and in wisdom, have and raise healthy children, etc.

    A friend commented that the ban on pork was because pigs were fed the same food as human children, and that in the region at the time, children would be often go hungry because the food they needed was diverted to the pigs.

    Leviticus has always been a slog for me, and I haven’t worked out why the fat of the kidneys has to go onto the sacrificial fire. Perhaps you will explain in your next post?

    @moleeye and @markcamp, the “why” is not always obvious (as you suggest Mark). Law on kashrut (kosher) are especially difficult to understand for me. The food to diverted to pigs sounds highly unlikely. I’m in the middle of looking into these questions myself, and I don’t think the answers are so much intellectual or rational, but more intuitive and religious, especially in relationship to G-d. Sorry I’m not more help!

    • #7
    • August 26, 2019, at 3:37 PM PST
    • Like
  8. Mark Camp Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    @moleeye and @markcamp, the “why” is not always obvious (as you suggest Mark). Law on kashrut (kosher) are especially difficult to understand for me. The food to diverted to pigs sounds highly unlikely. I’m in the middle of looking into these questions myself, and I don’t think the answers are so much intellectual or rational, but more intuitive and religious, especially in relationship to G-d. Sorry I’m not more help!

    I too think they’re hard to figure out. I rely on religious teachers.

    But I think that every law of G_d is intellectual and rational. I am absolutely certain that whenever I fail to understand the laws of the one who created me and everyone and everything else, it is not because I am too intelligent and too rational, but because he is much more intelligent and more rational than I am.

    • #8
    • August 26, 2019, at 4:52 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  9. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    @moleeye and @markcamp, the “why” is not always obvious (as you suggest Mark). Law on kashrut (kosher) are especially difficult to understand for me. The food to diverted to pigs sounds highly unlikely. I’m in the middle of looking into these questions myself, and I don’t think the answers are so much intellectual or rational, but more intuitive and religious, especially in relationship to G-d. Sorry I’m not more help!

    I too think they’re hard to figure out. I rely on religious teachers. But I think that every law of G_d is intellectual and rational.

    But I am absolutely certain that whenever I fail to understand the laws of the one who created me and everyone and everything else, it is not because I am too intelligent and too rational, but because he is much more intelligent and more rational than I am.

    I didn’t say the laws weren’t intelligent and rational, but I do think we have to get to a creative place where we move out of the limitations of our usual rational thinking to touch on the meanings. I also want to say that the work that @iwe and I are pursuing is intended to expand on the usual ways that people determine the meaning of Jewish law. Thanks for the comment, @markcamp!

    • #9
    • August 26, 2019, at 5:02 PM PST
    • Like
  10. Kay of MT Member

    Most of the forbidden foods via animals, are because they are flesh eaters, or bottom feeders. For others I don’t know. Pigs used to carry a disease, that caused folks to die before refrigeration. I lived on a rabbit farm once, and those sweet little bunnys would actually kill and eat their own newborn babies.

    • #10
    • August 26, 2019, at 5:14 PM PST
    • 1 like
  11. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Kay of MT (View Comment):

    Most of the forbidden foods via animals, are because they are flesh eaters, or bottom feeders. For others I don’t know. Pigs used to carry a disease, that caused folks to die before refrigeration. I lived on a rabbit farm once, and those sweet little bunnys would actually kill and eat their own newborn babies.

    Kay, those could be the reasons. But I want to know if there are even deeper reason that underlie the food restrictions, that apply to kashrut.

    Poor baby bunnies!

    • #11
    • August 26, 2019, at 5:29 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  12. Percival Thatcher

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    Mole-eye (View Comment):
    Taking the Kashruth for example, WHY is it important to avoid “unclean” foods? Well, the health benefits are obvious,

    I don’t know of any obvious health benefits, or even any health benefits for which there is strong scientific support. Lobster, pork, and cheeseburgers are provably healthy foods, as far as science is concerned.

     

    Well, pork can cause trichinosis if not properly prepared, i.e. being undercooked. There was a theory that this could have led to the kashrut prohibition, but there is significant doubt. There are only about 7-11 cases of trichinosis in the US annually, and you can also get it from eating game such as bear.

    • #12
    • August 26, 2019, at 5:39 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  13. Mark Camp Member

    Percival (View Comment):

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    Mole-eye (View Comment):
    Taking the Kashruth for example, WHY is it important to avoid “unclean” foods? Well, the health benefits are obvious,

    I don’t know of any obvious health benefits, or even any health benefits for which there is strong scientific support. Lobster, pork, and cheeseburgers are provably healthy foods, as far as science is concerned.

     

    Well, pork can cause trichinosis if not properly prepared, i.e. being undercooked. There was a theory that this could have led to the kashrut prohibition, but there is significant doubt. There are only about 7-11 cases of trichinosis in the US annually, and you can also get it from eating game such as bear.

    I think this trichinosis story is an old myth that was debunked many decades ago. I am surprised to hear that it is still common. In fact, every kind of flesh can cause disease if undercooked.

    • #13
    • August 26, 2019, at 6:16 PM PST
    • 1 like
  14. Percival Thatcher

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    Mole-eye (View Comment):
    Taking the Kashruth for example, WHY is it important to avoid “unclean” foods? Well, the health benefits are obvious,

    I don’t know of any obvious health benefits, or even any health benefits for which there is strong scientific support. Lobster, pork, and cheeseburgers are provably healthy foods, as far as science is concerned.

     

    Well, pork can cause trichinosis if not properly prepared, i.e. being undercooked. There was a theory that this could have led to the kashrut prohibition, but there is significant doubt. There are only about 7-11 cases of trichinosis in the US annually, and you can also get it from eating game such as bear.

    I think this trichinosis story is an old myth that was debunked many decades ago. I am surprised to hear that it is still common. In fact, every kind of flesh can cause disease if undercooked.

    It is not my area of expertise, but the issue seems to be that eating infected animal flesh is what passes the disease on. The parasite involved needs to be eaten. Cows, sheep, and goats are herbivores. Pigs, rats, and bears are omnivores. Outside of Venezuela, rat meat usually isn’t on the menu. Swine are still being checked by the FDA for infection.

    • #14
    • August 26, 2019, at 6:26 PM PST
    • 1 like
  15. Mark Camp Member

    Percival (View Comment):

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    Mole-eye (View Comment):
    Taking the Kashruth for example, WHY is it important to avoid “unclean” foods? Well, the health benefits are obvious,

    I don’t know of any obvious health benefits, or even any health benefits for which there is strong scientific support. Lobster, pork, and cheeseburgers are provably healthy foods, as far as science is concerned.

     

    Well, pork can cause trichinosis if not properly prepared, i.e. being undercooked. There was a theory that this could have led to the kashrut prohibition, but there is significant doubt. There are only about 7-11 cases of trichinosis in the US annually, and you can also get it from eating game such as bear.

    I think this trichinosis story is an old myth that was debunked many decades ago. I am surprised to hear that it is still common. In fact, every kind of flesh can cause disease if undercooked.

    It is not my area of expertise, but the issue seems to be that eating infected animal flesh is what passes the disease on. The parasite involved needs to be eaten. Cows, sheep, and goats are herbivores. Pigs, rats, and bears are omnivores. Outside of Venezuela, rat meat usually isn’t on the menu. Swine are still being checked by the FDA for infection.

    Proper cooking kills the parasites. The ancient Hebrew people presumably knew how to cook meat properly.

    • #15
    • August 26, 2019, at 7:09 PM PST
    • Like
  16. Percival Thatcher

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    Mole-eye (View Comment):
    Taking the Kashruth for example, WHY is it important to avoid “unclean” foods? Well, the health benefits are obvious,

    I don’t know of any obvious health benefits, or even any health benefits for which there is strong scientific support. Lobster, pork, and cheeseburgers are provably healthy foods, as far as science is concerned.

     

    Well, pork can cause trichinosis if not properly prepared, i.e. being undercooked. There was a theory that this could have led to the kashrut prohibition, but there is significant doubt. There are only about 7-11 cases of trichinosis in the US annually, and you can also get it from eating game such as bear.

    I think this trichinosis story is an old myth that was debunked many decades ago. I am surprised to hear that it is still common. In fact, every kind of flesh can cause disease if undercooked.

    It is not my area of expertise, but the issue seems to be that eating infected animal flesh is what passes the disease on. The parasite involved needs to be eaten. Cows, sheep, and goats are herbivores. Pigs, rats, and bears are omnivores. Outside of Venezuela, rat meat usually isn’t on the menu. Swine are still being checked by the FDA for infection.

    Proper cooking kills the parasites. The ancient Hebrew people presumably knew how to cook meat properly.

    See sentence in bold, above.

    • #16
    • August 26, 2019, at 7:26 PM PST
    • Like
  17. Front Seat Cat Member

    I thought the Bible (the Old Testament or Torah) talked about unclean foods as those animals that had a cloven hoof (pigs etc) and no seafood that didn’t have fins (such as shrimp or clams). These foods were considered unclean because the cloven animals ate slop, decayed foods etc. and the clams were the filterers of the ocean, cleaning it so both would transmit less than pure to the blood stream. This makes sense. The animals that chewed the cud were allowed, because they ate greens so it was a healthy food that created healthy blood (not so today since they feed cattle dead carcasses ground up – a theory about how Mad Cow Disease came about, plus all the antibiotics etc. unless it is organic). 

    The Jewish fellow named Jordan Ruben had Crohns Disease and was extremely ill in college. He researched the foods that were instructed by God in the Torah and created a diet based on that. He got well, when none of the many doctors and drugs could not help him. 

    http://www.makersdiet.com/

    You can count on Kosher food to be clean.

    • #17
    • August 27, 2019, at 5:03 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  18. Mark Camp Member

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):

    I thought the Bible (the Old Testament or Torah) talked about unclean foods as those animals that had a cloven hoof (pigs etc) and no seafood that didn’t have fins (such as shrimp or clams). These foods were considered unclean because the cloven animals ate slop, decayed foods etc. and the clams were the filterers of the ocean, cleaning it so both would transmit less than pure to the blood stream. This makes sense. The animals that chewed the cud were allowed, because they ate greens so it was a healthy food that created healthy blood (not so today since they feed cattle dead carcasses ground up – a theory about how Mad Cow Disease came about, plus all the antibiotics etc. unless it is organic).

    The Jewish fellow named Jordan Ruben had Crohns Disease and was extremely ill in college. He researched the foods that were instructed by God in the Torah and created a diet based on that. He got well, when none of the many doctors and drugs could not help him.

    http://www.makersdiet.com/

    You can count on Kosher food to be clean.

    I don’t agree that “this makes sense.” I think that this does not make any sense at all.

    The problem I have with your theory is that clams and pork aren’t known to science to be “unclean” in any way that is of practical meaning regarding human health.

    For example, consider a pig or a clam eating what could as a practical matter be called “unclean” food: food containing bacteria that can cause infectious disease in humans.

    The animal kills the bacteria and converts the chemicals which make it up into other chemicals, such as the proteins, carbohydrates, and fats that humans need in order to live.

    Those chemicals are not “unclean”. It is those chemicals that we are consuming when we eat the clam or pork.

    You are arbitrarily ascribing a property of “cleanliness” to some foods and not others. You are treating “cleanliness” as a magical property of chemical substances, a property which they inherit from the chemicals which reacted to create them.

    If clams and pork are unclean according to G_d, it is not because of the scientific reason you give, that “makes sense” to you, because your scientific reasoning is unsound. It is for some other reason.

    • #18
    • August 28, 2019, at 2:31 AM PST
    • 1 like
  19. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):

    I thought the Bible (the Old Testament or Torah) talked about unclean foods as those animals that had a cloven hoof (pigs etc) and no seafood that didn’t have fins (such as shrimp or clams). These foods were considered unclean because the cloven animals ate slop, decayed foods etc. and the clams were the filterers of the ocean, cleaning it so both would transmit less than pure to the blood stream. This makes sense. The animals that chewed the cud were allowed, because they ate greens so it was a healthy food that created healthy blood (not so today since they feed cattle dead carcasses ground up – a theory about how Mad Cow Disease came about, plus all the antibiotics etc. unless it is organic).

    The Jewish fellow named Jordan Ruben had Crohns Disease and was extremely ill in college. He researched the foods that were instructed by God in the Torah and created a diet based on that. He got well, when none of the many doctors and drugs could not help him.

    http://www.makersdiet.com/

    You can count on Kosher food to be clean.

    I don’t agree that “this makes sense.” I think that this does not make any sense at all.

    The problem I have with your theory is that clams and pork aren’t known to science to be “unclean” in any way that is of practical meaning regarding human health.

    For example, consider a pig or a clam eating what could as a practical matter be called “unclean” food: food containing bacteria that can cause infectious disease in humans.

    The animal kills the bacteria and converts the chemicals which make it up into other chemicals, such as the proteins, carbohydrates, and fats that humans need in order to live.

    Those chemicals are not “unclean”. It is those chemicals that we are consuming when we eat the clam or pork.

    You are arbitrarily ascribing a property of “cleanliness” to some foods and not others. You are treating “cleanliness” as a magical property of chemical substances, and property which they inherit from the chemicals which reacted to create it.

    If clams and pork are unclean according to G_d, it is not because of the scientific reason you give, that “makes sense” to you, because your scientific reasoning is unsound. It is for some other reason.

    Again, the reasons are not necessarily what seems obvious to us. I agree with your approach, @Mark Camp. 

    • #19
    • August 28, 2019, at 3:50 AM PST
    • Like
  20. Mark Camp Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    If clams and pork are unclean according to G_d, it is not because of the scientific reason you give, that “makes sense” to you, because your scientific reasoning is unsound. It is for some other reason.

    Again, the reasons are not necessarily what seems obvious to us.

    Thanks, Susan. You express perfectly what I was trying to say.

     

     * * * * * * * *

    It may not be clear to others that I believe that

    • the Lord has perfect knowledge of health science, and of all science. That he created science, if that phrase means something.
    • we humans deceive ourselves that we truly understand science at all. We have discovered a little bit, but our understanding of what we’ve discovered is deeply flawed.

      For one thing, we have discovered no Godly purpose for any scientific law: in our scientific laws, the creator of it all appears nowhere. Purpose itself appears nowhere.

      For another, we have not even discovered a single scientific law about ourselves as thinking, feeling, wondering creatures: in our scientific laws, we scientists appear nowhere.

    As a Christian I don’t understand the subject of ritual law very well at all. I think that real students of Scripture do. 

    You know that “Scripture” for me refers to more texts than it does for you. But I think that real students of “the Old Testament” who are Jews understand what those books say to a Christian better than I do.

    I think that real students of the New Testament understand what it says about ritual law, dietary law (is that a sub-category of ritual law? or is it separate?) to a Christian. Paul explains the purpose of the Law for the time before the sacrifice of Christ.

    I know a little. I do know that it says we may eat flesh sacrificed to idols. I think that a Jew believes that this is forbidden?

    • #20
    • August 28, 2019, at 5:03 AM PST
    • Like
  21. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Mark Camp (View Comment):
    I know a little. I do know that it says we may eat flesh sacrificed to idols. I think that a Jew believes that this is forbidden?

    First, I agree with you that there is still a lot we don’t know or understand, Mark. But I also believe that G-d wants us to keep striving to learn, to grow, to create and even to know Him better.

    You can assume that anything to do with idols is forbidden. When the Jews attacked or were attacked by idol worshippers and they were victorious, everything associated with idol worshipping had to be destroyed. G-d wanted to make sure that there was absolutely no chance that the Jews would be attracted to the practice. And yet we still pursued idol worship, and in someways, you could say we still do.

    • #21
    • August 28, 2019, at 5:48 AM PST
    • Like
  22. Mark Camp Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    First, I agree with you that there is still a lot we don’t know or understand, Mark. But I also believe that G-d wants us to keep striving to learn, to grow, to create and even to know Him better.

    I agree.

    I think that his plan for some of us is to strive to understand the “laws” that govern the nature that he created. Otherwise he wouldn’t have given our scientists their curiosity (I think…some would argue that ALL scientific curiosity is ungodly in origin: “Look where it’s got us!” There have been times when I thought it myself!)

    But in that quest for knowledge, one who was built with that curiosity and ability will have successes, and those will be temptations to become vain and think that by one’s successes in philosophical efforts (scientific work, in this case), one has proven that he can of his own intellectual power learn to know G_d and become his equal.

    Knowledge of G_d doesn’t require greater and greater wisdom of the world’s kind, such as scientific knowledge. It comes, at its beginning, from a crying out in need, at some point when one has abandoned all hope and all trust in one’s own powers of knowledge. Later, it comes from bowing down in awe and thankfulness in front of a person who is so glorious that one cannot look up at his face, and from the study of his word (I envy David, who loved to study the Law so much that he wrote poems about it; to study the Bible is often a task I put off, like homework, and feel guilty about not doing, rather than longing for the hour when I can return to it, as David did.)

    • #22
    • August 28, 2019, at 7:46 AM PST
    • 1 like
  23. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Mark Camp (View Comment):
    But in that quest for knowledge, one who was built with that curiosity and ability will have successes, and those will be temptations to become vain and think that by one’s successes in philosophical efforts (scientific work, in this case), one has proven that he can of his own intellectual power learn to know G_d and become his equal.

    Wonderful thoughts, @markcamp! Not being a scientist, I have to come from a different place, but I do believe that inflating one’s own ability and intellect can lead to trouble in a couple of directions. One is the one you mention, becoming G-d’s equal (although I do believe we partner with him) or that one doesn’t need G-d because one can figure it all out for himself. Either approach to can lead to further delusion or disappointment.

    • #23
    • August 28, 2019, at 9:44 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  24. Mole-eye Member

    The health benefits of kosher law in a time without refrigeration seem obvious to me, but then I had the benefit of eating room-temperature shrimp in home-made mayonnaise in a steamy, un-air-conditioned dining room during a Caribbean honeymoon. Projectile vomiting was the least of it.

    On the other hand, a Jewish friend once commented: “show me a chicken that has been seethed in the milk of its mother and I’ll refrain from eating it!”

    • #24
    • August 30, 2019, at 11:31 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  25. Mark Camp Member

    Mole-eye (View Comment):
    The health benefits of kosher law in a time without refrigeration seem obvious to me,

    Why?

    • #25
    • August 30, 2019, at 6:38 PM PST
    • Like