Friday, October 12, 1984
THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS
Under .a Succah of peace
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BY ED GREENSTEIN
Special to The Jewish News
The Book of Leviticus, 23:42-43,
says: "In sukkot you shall dwell
seven days . . . so that your de-
scendants will know that in suk-
kot I had the Israelites dwell
when I had them go out from the
Land of Egypt — I, the Lord your
Would it ever occur to anyone
that the sukkot being referred to
were anything but manufactured
constructions, temporary houses,
booths? Unsurprisingly, this is
precisely how Rabbi Akiba under-
stood it. The Talmud, however,
attributes a wildly contrary in-
terpretation to Akiba's contem-
porary, Rabbi Eliezer (Tractate
Sukkah 11b). To him the Torah's
sukkot were ananei kavod —
"clouds of the divine-presence,"
metaphysical cushions protecting
the fledgling nation of Israel.
More significant than Rabbi
Eliezer's idiosyncratic, non-
literal reading is the Talmud's
unabashed citation of such an ex-
tremely heterodox view. Yet it is
the way of classical Jewish tradi-
tion to recognize, respect, and re-
nder legitimacy, at least in
theory, to diverse opinions on
matters of theology, and even law.
Rabbinic tradition may strive for
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A DIVISION OF JOSEPH E. ERLICH, INC.
Ed Greenstein teaches Bible at
the Jewish Theological
ultimate consensus; it may settlE
for majority vote; but it honors thi
validity of differing viewpoints.
The Mishnah, the first Jewisii
lawcode, citex minority opinions
not to patronize losers in the de.11
bate but to mark the conflicting
views of respected authorities
One senses a sadness that botl
the majority and the minority
views could not be practice
Difference in thinking and al
proach characterizes the perer,
nial pluralism within Jewish tic
dition. The standard Jewish Bibl
edition, Mikra'ot Gedolot, place
side by side the opposing commer
taries of various Medieval schol
ars. The divergent "voices" on th
page generate a cacophony of can
troversy over what the Bibl
means. A standard edition of th
Talmud pits the critical "Tosafot
commentaries over against th
explanations by Rashi.
Whoever would imagine
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