Zionism

Zionism

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Do you know the moral to the story of the tortoise and the hare? Is it slow and steady wins the race? Or is it that cockiness gets you nowhere? They are both correct but this is a good example of how a children’s fable, like interpretations of the bible, can easily be different from one another. Interpretations of the bible vary and occasionally get the message wrong, but this variation can be attributed differences of opinion in interpretation. Whether motivated by politics, social presuppositions, or theological differences the variation can paint a contrasting picture of Biblical information. Time plays a very large part in the variations of Biblical interpretation. The interpretation according to the rabbinic midrash is very different than interpretations according to modern Zionism or for that matter modern Feminism.
     Classic midrash served an important purpose for the authors of the Torah. It allowed them to create a way to make the Torah an intimate part of the lives of Jews. The result of transforming Biblical stories in to more compelling and interesting stories gave the writers of the Torah a way to connect with the Jewish people on a more personal level. The writers of the Torah realized that the Jewish people could connect with the Biblical stories more if they could relate the stories to everyday life. What the authors of the Torah failed to realize is that by transforming the stories, they had now added the opinions and beliefs of the time into their stories. This is the cause for many revisions to come.
     Rabbis during the seventh and eighth centuries developed a distinct branch of Jewish mysticism. The Kabala interprets the Scriptures as an esoteric manner, and seeks answers to the divine mysteries. Kabala required intense meditation and preparatory rites that lead to a mystical union with God. The presiding factor at hand is the idea of faith. It is faith in the experience is what allowed the rabbis to interpret the Scripture. Here again we see and example of the ways in which Biblical information is interpreted.
     The Zionist movement brought with it the desire to create a national identity for the Jewish people. In order to accomplish this Herzl thought that Jewish people should move to an area where they could escape the anti-Semitism in Germany. The basis for ideals of Zionism is to establish a national identity for the Jewish community.

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This is once again another example of why interpretations are formed and how they reflect the life and times in which they are formed.
     Modern Feminism is a combination of feminist rich interpretations of traditional texts combined with the exploration of historical women’s religious practices. This has created a new spirituality with new rituals and beliefs. The contemporary haggadot focuses to incorporate historical personalities of both women and men, who have been involved in freedom struggles throughout Jewish history.
     The interpretations of Biblical information have changed throughout the course of history. Like the children’s fable the moral of the story is still the same, although the original moral is harder to find. It seems to me the main reason for the changing of the interpretations of Biblical scriptures is not always to help connect people with their religion. I feel that personal agendas as well as the stresses of war and conflict had a profound impact on the direction of Biblical interpretation. No matter what the interpretation is today there is no telling what the future holds. Situations will arise and Judaism will contort and shape itself to the given situation.
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