Shai Held on Reading the Bible Selectively and Morally

Darrell Pursiful shared excerpts from and a link to an article by Shai Held on the use of the Bible in Judaism. The same points could be made for any religious tradition with a sacred text of key importance. Here’s a sample:

The world is not divided between those who read selectively and those who don’t. It is more accurate to say that the real division is between those who acknowledge that they read selectively, and those who do not – or who, given their assumptions, simply cannot. If contemporary Jews want to accentuate those voices in Torah that stand for the ontological superiority of Jews over Gentiles, voices that often end up demeaning the other, we can do so. If, on the other hand, we want to focus on those sources that insist upon the shared dignity of every human being created in the image of God, and upon God’s concern with the widow, the orphan, and the stranger, we can do that, too. If we want to be responsible heirs of Torah, we will have to decide – either explicitly or implicitly, either consciously or unconsciously – what to read in light of what.

All religious traditions contain the raw material to generate and cultivate lives of enormous beauty and moral sensitivity, and the raw material to generate and cultivate unspeakable ugliness and moral obtuseness.

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  • Anonymous

    Morality concerns behavior which is defined by laws, while ethics is defined by liberty, where all can make their claim on “right” and “honor”. Holy has nothing to do with it!!!

    Nations are defned by laws that protect their boundaries, and civilized cultures limit the “tribe’s right” over the individual or minority. This is what makes our country great as “all are equal under the law”.

    Practically speaking, one cannot “love humanity”, or embrace “the world”, they can only do what they can where they are and what they choose to do….

    I am sick of morality being used to hammer another because of some perceived “righteousness”! I think it is better to be an unbeliever because then one doesn’t have to “worry about stepping over another’s “holy place” or “holy belief”!!


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