Stators argument that, “the Rabbis creatively rework or even subvert biblical Ideal” (Stator, “Creating Judaism,” 141 1, Is one that I unquestionably agree with. By that statement, I believe he means that the Rabbis have made changes to, and even undermined the power and authority of, the biblical texts and the ideas they present. Based on past rabbinic literature readings that I have done, I would have to say that yes, I do agree with Stator’s statement. That’s because there are many instances throughout the readings where the Rabbis seem to be challenging or not being impolitely accepting of what the bible says.
Their interpretations vary, and they don’t accept the literal meaning of things, for example the “eye for an eye” case or even the Cain and Able story. Not everyone accepts the statements in the Bible as they are told, and Instead they adjust and modify them to better suit more contemporary times, whether It be modernizing laws or molding a story to make It more appealing and comprehensible. “When men fight and one of them pushes a pregnant women and a miscarriage results, but no other damage ensues, the one responsible shall be fined…
But if other damage ensues, the penalty shall be life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise. ” Those are the exact words from Exodus 21 found in the Bible. When the Rabbis were discussing that passage, they ended up with a different idea. An idea involving financial compensation rather than literal, physical punishment. Of course, there were other Rabbis who would agree with my point, saying “Why [pay compensation]? Does the divine Law not say Eye for eye? Why not take this literally? Rabbinic Discussion of Exodus 21) That example proves to show that the Rabbis did rework biblical Ideals. How they decided that their way of looking at things was better Is beyond me. It Is confusing to even try to Imagine their motive of wanting to change that ‘law so drastically, and It Just seems wrong to do so. My question is, what makes them think that they can do such things? Of course, someone objecting my ideas would probably respond by saying that the Rabbis are basically experts when it comes to the Hebrew Bible, that they are ere knowledgeable, so of course they know how to best interpret such things.
However, as knowledgeable as one may be, I don’t think it’s correct to assume that one can know so much as to change the words and mandates of God. Another example that I’d like to present, which serves to prove that, like Stator stated, “the Rabbis rework… Biblical ideal”, is the discussion about the Cain and Able story. While some Rabbis might Genesis 4:9-4:10 says, ‘When they were in the field, Cain set upon his brother Able and killed him. The Lord said to Cain, Where Is your brother Able? And he said, ‘l do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper? ‘, Then He said, What have you done?
Hark, your brothers blood cries out to me from the ground! ” Several interpretations are recorded from various Rabbis, and they all seem to have different angry at God for allowing Cain to kill him, saying “If the king wants they can be separated, but he did not want them separated”(Rabbinic Discussion from Genesis Arabia), and now Able wants someone to revenge God, since God didn’t prevent his death. On the other hand, there is another Rabbi who thinks that Cain was blaming God, saying “l [Cain] killed him, true, but You created me with the evil urge in me. You watch over everything and you let me kill him! You killed him! (Rabbinic Discussion from Midribs Tantrum). Clearly, these two Rabbis pose different views to the Cain and Able story, making it evident that they ‘creatively alter biblical ideal in order for them to maybe make more sense to the public. Even though someone criticizing my point here might say that they Rabbis aren’t necessarily ‘reworking the ideal, that they are simply discussing a further explanation, I would have to say that the Rabbis me to be very comfortable with their points, making them look assured of what they are saying, even if that means creating a dialogue that never existed, at least not for sure.
Through my evidence found in Rabbinic passages and the Hebrew Bible, it is palpable that Stators statement, “the Rabbis creatively rework or even subvert biblical ideal”, holds true. From the “eye for eye” case to the story of Cain and Able, one can get a good idea that the Rabbis didn’t always agree with each other, therefore modifying and altering their interpretations of passages found in the Bible.