Avodah Mailing List

Volume 05 : Number 114

Sunday, September 3 2000

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Fri, 1 Sep 2000 15:57:35 -0400
From: "Feldman, Mark" <MFeldman@CM-P.COM>
Re: From "Shaarei Tshuvah"

From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
> The idea isn't RY's. Berachos 5a tells us that is a person faces tzaros,
> he should look to see if he did any aveiros. If he doesn't find an aveirah
> (Rashi: of a severity to warrant such severe tzaros) he should assume
> it's for bitul Torah.

> The Gra (Olilos Ephraim) connects the mention of bitul Torah to "shigegas
> talmud olah zadon". Which is why bitul Torah can warrant severe tzaros.
> The avlah isn't just in the bitul Torah, but in the things one didn't
> do because of that ignorance.

Don't these citations imply that the yisurin are not merely reminders but
actual punishment?  Rashi said "of severity to warrant such severe tzaros."
Gra also implies that this is a punishment to fit the crime.

Kol tuv,

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Date: Sun, 3 Sep 2000 10:30:48 EDT
From: DFinchPC@aol.com
Hebrew: Past and Present

Apropos the recent Avodah discussion on Hebrew tenses, I note the
following written a few years ago by George Steiner, late of Princeton and
Cambridge, currently Lord Weidenfeld Visiting Professor of Comparative
Literature at Oxford, etc., etc., etc. (and a really smart literary
critic). Micha comments are similar to Steiner's, only more concise.

"Biblical Hebrew possesses only two 'tenses' of the verb (where
'tenses' is itself a misleading designation.) Actions are either
finished ('perfect') or unfinished ('imperfect'). Simple, passive,
reflexive, intensive and causative modes are rendered by different
forms of the verb. Again, this syntactical particularlity entails
major hermeneutic consequences. The 'time-world,' the notations of
temporality in [Scriptural] narrative, do not translate readily into
the past-present-future paradigm of English or other modern European
languages. This simple fact makes nearly inaccessible the inward
dynamics of Hebrew prophecy and remembrance. Prophecy does not bear
in any obvious sense on futurity, as it does, say, in Greek oracles
or [Xtian]-Hellenic prediction. The timeliness of G-d's utterance via
His prophets is timeless. In one sense, the foretold has already been
accomplished, as it is made 'perfect' in the divine dictum. In another,
it is eternally present. It is the 'now' which blazes with G-d's
wrath or benediction. In an third and quite untranslatable sense, the
prophecy touches also on the 'imperfect,' on the as yet unaccomplished
and therefore revocable (Jonah turns on the grammatological paradox of
an 'imperfection' housed, as it were, in the eternal absolute of G-d's
initial resolve and pronouncement)."

David Finch

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