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The Soncino Chumash: The Five Books of Moses with Haphtaroth

de A. Cohen, a. cohen (Editor)

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First published in 1999 First published in 1999
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  gdlemail | Oct 2, 2022 |
Growing up as an Orthodox Jew, the only thing that kept me sane sitting in shul on Shabbat was reading the dirty bits - there are lots of them if you know where to look, the laws on purity (oooh, thrill, male masturbation), the bits on lepers and how to tell if you were one. I'd go looking for the right passages in the chumash and then read the commentaries of the rabbis. There's something kind of young-teen salacious about reading how one rabbi interprets a dirty word as compared to another rabbi's idea of its meaning. A real mental wank you might say.

The rest of the bible? Well its ok I guess, goes on a bit but there are some good stories if you don't take it all as set in stone. I know that there are some people who do, and I hope they won't take offence at my disbelief of their holy book any more than I will about their credulity. As the Dalai Lama said, "I really think it is best that you try and find truth in the religion of your forebears and ancestors. It is very hard to change religion. I think it is safer not to." From [b:Holy Cow: An Indian Adventure|3858|Holy Cow An Indian Adventure|Sarah Macdonald|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1320524106s/3858.jpg|4227]

I didn't change my religion as much as go through stages of spiritual belief - I was raised not only Jewish but Catholic as we had a frustrated would-be Irish nun as a housekeeper and went to Non-Conformist schools and youth clubs. At 16 I read [a:Sartre|1466|Jean-Paul Sartre|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1207861984p2/1466.jpg] and that was it, I understood, deeply, what he was talking about, so the new label was existentialist. I never wanted to say I was either agnostic (such a sitting-on-the-fence word) or atheist. It didn't matter enough for me to want to even define myself in this sphere. I'm far too much a pragmatist to be concerned about a spiritual plane except when stoned, then I might be, depends on the music.

But recently surfing through Wikipedia as one does, I came across Apatheism. And that fit perfectly.

The Technical Bits As part of the Shabbat service a small part of the Torah, the Five Books of Moses is read (enough so that the whole set are read in one year) and a small part from the book, the Prophets, HaNevi'im. Haptorath is plural to what is generally pronounced Haftarah. So now you know why I was so bored.

The Chumash is laid out with the top half being the text and the bottom the commentary. Each as important, you could almost say as sacred, as the other. To Jews, nothing beats a good nitpicking discussion. A resolution isn't necessary (or even really desirable, one doesn't want to be dogmatic), it's the debate itself that's the thing.
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  Petra.Xs | Apr 2, 2013 |
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