Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Some Good Words

Aryeh Cohen in March/April 2010 TIKKUN:

The practice of Talmud -- the documentation and interrogation, reading and constructing of legal difference and distinction -- is not mythic storytelling, but it is grounded in this mythos. This practice, which splits hairs and has caused the hair-pulling of many mystics, is exactly what Akiva taught. The practice is grounded not only in the mythic encounter of Moses with God and Akiva but in Creation itself. Creation is separation and distinction -- light from darkness, upper waters from lower waters, land from sea. This is the practice of law -- distinguishing categories, creating new categories, creating the world of pure and impure, forbidden and permitted, just and unjust. It is in the practice of the shakla ve-tarya(the give and take of legal and intellectual discourse) that the Kingdom of Heaven, the province of the just and The Just, is created. The God of a talmudist, or at least this talmudist, is the God that generates and is claimed by law, the God that is implicated in and is therefore open to be judged by the categories of law writ large.

The God of the Talmud is also God in Exile -- mourning, unable to end the Exile, living in the brokenness. God's absence is very present. It is in this space that justice can happen -- that people can act justly and create just societies. These are the four cubits of the law. This is the space within which one not only responds to the Other in front of one, but also in which, with the mediation of the institutions of law, one responds to the call of the Stranger whom one has never actually met.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


My review is up at