Sunday, November 20, 2005

The Golden Age of Judiasm.
As a Yeshiva High Scool student my religious teachers will frequently mention (or assume) how the times of the Kings and the Temple was the golden age of Judiasm. I feel that this is largely in the imagination of those talking about it. Here are my conditions for a period to be a religious golden age. A- The country must be in control of itself. This excludes most (basically all) of the Second Temple era when Israel was a puppet state of the Romans. B- The country must be in a time of wealth or at least no starving. C- The country must be largely observant of the Torah. Given that there are possibly two leaders whose time qualified for the description of "A Golden Age." One was Joshua who led the Jews into the land and presided over its capture. The other was Solomon who led the country to peace and prosperity and built the first Temple. Other leaders such as Ezra led a religious revival but the Jews had no control of the land. The Macabees for a short time gave the Jews control but didn't lead a religious revival. David might qualify but having 2 civil wars (David and Absalom) as well as an attempted coup by Adoniah within 40 years makes me leave it out as a time of prosperity. Again the modern State of Israel is an independent political entity but there hasn't been a corresponding religious revival. The second topic about the school is the holidays. For some reason the teachers at my elementary and high school refuse to make any relationship between the holidays and the seasons. It is this ignorance which leads to the question of, " If Succos is about the Succos in the desert then why is it now?" The answer obvious to one who knows about the holidays is that Succos is mainly about the harvest. Take Shavous this holiday has been completely dissociated from the calendar. In all my Shavous sppeches I have almost never heard it mentioned as Hag HaBikurim. I realize that the emphasis isn't on agriculture anymore but I still would like those reasons to be at least acknowledged.


At 12:03 AM, Blogger Tobie said...

While I agree about the importance of agriculture in the festivals, I'm not sure I'm willing to go with your "Golden Age" point. You successfully proved that Jewish history of that era was not Utopian. Ok.
Now the question is what is a Golden Age? Does it have to be when everything is wonderful or is it simply relative- the most golden age, if you will? I'm not sure, but I doubt the golden ages in other cultures were all hunky-dory either, especially if you happened to be a peasant or something like that.
That said, I actually do agree that neither of those ages were exactly wonderful, in that they were a slow descent into sin, exile, etc. BUT- the keyword there is slow. Although while reading the Navi, it sounds like there were wars or major sins every couple of years, remember that the era lasted over 400, many of which were not bad. Not bad simply does not make it into the history books.
I agree that useless nostalgia for the past is annoying, but useless condemnation of it isn't much more constructive. Let us agree that it was a decent time, but it had its fair share of problems too.

At 9:19 AM, Blogger Mike said...

The kings period was pretty much one sin after the other in the kingdom of Israel and alternating good and bad kings of Judah.

At 3:14 PM, Blogger Tobie said...

Granted, granted, but frankly, can't any period be described as one sin after another? I mean, a generation without a sin now that would be something remarkable.

At 3:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Israel is an independent nation"

What country recieves more funding from our tax dollars than any other? They are DEPENDENT on us NOT INDEPENDENT.

Israel - US = Palestine


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