by: Mark Kirschbaum on August 22nd, 2013 | 5 Comments »
In the last few weeks there has been a nasty kerfuffle in the orthodox Jewish blogosphere, started when a Rabbi associated with the same progressive group that has been striving to create leadership roles for women within Orthodox Judaism attempted to take a balanced position on bible criticism. Shouts of heresy resounded across the internet, with one positive outcome being an excellent response on the part of Prof. Jacob Wright which is worth reading and can be found here.
After all the name calling, the question remains whether religious faith is based only upon the empirical fact of a text supposedly emanating word from word from God, or is there a deeper set of meanings for which an evolving spiritual community provides a set of answers. In this week’s reading the subject of communal response is paramount, as we encounter, for only the second time in the Bible, the unusual word “Amen”.
Curious word, this Amen. What does it mean when we respond “amen“? Its previous mention in the Torah is in the rather unpleasant episode of the sotah, related to marital infidelity. In our text, starting at verse 27:11, the context isn’t exactly positive, either; it is linked to a series of condemnations of various offenses, mostly of a sexual nature, beginning with idolatry and ending with a curse against one who “does not maintain all the words of this Torah, to do them”. Responsively, the text tells us, the people answered amen. What does this word amen mean?