Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Jerusalem Shiur: Avraham and the Birah Doleket

What happens the moment immediately before God speaks to Avraham for the first time, and tells him to leave his land. What is it that Avraham sees or does that convinces God to enter into dialogue with him? Does it provide us with any clues as to how we can encounter the divine in our own lives?

The Midrash in Bereshit Rabbah brings an analogy of a man who sees a Birah (castle or palace) Doleket, and curiously wonders who the person responsible for it is. Following this question, the owner of the building makes himself known to the man.

The key to understanding the meaning of the story revolves around the word Doleket. Does it mean illuminated or in flames (or something else entirely)?
And how do the different options related to different theological or philosophical ways of encountering transcendence?

The discussion included ideas from Rambam, Jonathan Sacks (Judaism does not begin with an answer, but a question, not harmony but dissonance), Dean Hamer (the God gene), Richard Rubenstein (God is dead) and Abraham Joshua Heschel (God in search of man)

Click here for the source sheet, here for the audio recording.

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