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Isn't it pretty?

Friday, February 06, 2004

Bible Discussions

The Great Books Foundation has a section on Judaism. I am in the middle of a back and forth e-mail discussion about the following question: Why does G-d cause the tree of knowledge of good and evil to grow in Eden, but tell Adam and Eve not to eat of it? The challenge is that I have to use ONLY the text presented (though I can use my own translation) and no outside information or sources. The story of Adam and Eve I know has a lot of embellishments, and it is so hard to not bring them in. The person with whom I am discussing this with has never heard the embellishments (he is not Jewish), he calls me on them extremely quickly. As with all my reading, trying to answer one question just leads to about 8,000 more questions. At this point, I am not sure we are even talking about the initial question at all. But maybe it all relates. My shul, Shomrei Emunah has started a book club and the next book that they are reading is One People, Two Worlds: A Reform Rabbi and an Orthodox Rabbi Explore the Issues That Divide Them. I find this interesting, because I know that a lot of rabbis urged people not to read the book, arguing that it legitimized Reform Judaism. I have to applaud the efforts of Shomrei to keep an open mind and discuss these issues in an open forum. I feel that you can learn so much by learning about other views. I told a friend that I was going to have this Torah discussion with someone who wasn't Jewish and her response was, "Don't do it." Why not? I think you can sometimes learn more from someone who doesn't agree with you than from someone who does. And I definitely think it gives you cause to dig into your beliefs, and find a foundation for them, rather than accepting them because you are supposed to. I think at the end of a discussion like this, you come out with a much stronger basis that you went in with. I don't think that we should be afraid to be questioned. I acknowledge that I don't know everything, but at least this will give me the impetus to learn more.

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