Monday, October 18, 2010

Lech Lecha: Between Self Identification and Self Worship

Despite his being the father of Judaism (and monotheism), the Torah tells us very little about Avraham's background. This week we focused on different ideas that seek to explain Avraham's origins and what made him 'merit' encountering God's voice.

We looked at three main ideas. One revolves around a Birah Doleket, a castle / mansion which - depending on how one translates it - could be lit up or in flames. A second view comes from the Rambam, who describes Avraham as a type of Socrates who autodidactically finds God at the age of 40. The third story is that of Avraham in his father's idol shop.

All of these readings provide an opportunity to consider how we should read sacred texts, and how we can maintain the balance between reading text through our subjective, personal ideology on the one hand, and being authentically true to what it actually 'says' on the other.

Rather than being created in the image of God, is it possible that sometimes we create God (or the text, or Avraham) in our own image?

What is the line between self-identification and self worship?

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

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