Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Abraham Gordiner on Yaakov avinu lo mes

Here is Abraham Gordiner on Yaakov avinu lo mes:

"This is the meaning of Chazal's statement that "Yaakov Avinu lo mes" - "Yaakov our father has not died", for the optimism and inspiration instilled by Yaakov Avinu eternally sustains the Jewish nation, giving it the courage to continue and prepare for God's future redemption".

This can't be right but before I explain why he is wrong let's first acknowledge that the leader of the Inquisition against Open Orthodoxy is plainly and openly disagreeing with Rashi, who says that the Yaakov actually continues to live. Such nerve!

Anyway this interpretation can't be right. We are provided on Taanis 5b with the origins of this drash and we can see it has nothing to do with something so trite and ordinary as Jacob's eternal optimism.

The drash is based on a verse in Jeremiah where a hekesh, attributed to R Yitzchak, reveals that just as Israel will return from captivity, Jacob will also return from captivity and just as returning Israel will be alive, returning Jacob will also be alive.

Now you can allegorize this, of course, but not by ignoring the hekesh! (We can guess that Abraham Gordimer neglected to look at the drash "inside" because he attributes the statement to "Chazal" rather than to it's actual author, R' Yitzchak) 

If you allegorize the drasha without ignoring the hekesh the drash is about the survival and continuity of Israel, and the authenticity of the returnees, not the optimism of the forefather.

(Yes I am also disagreeing with Rashi but I am not a staunch traditionalist.)

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