Rabbi Dr. Bradley Shavit Artson
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Introduction to Torah and Scripture.
Leviticus…You cannot revere God if you are insulting the deaf. You cannot fashion a world where people are unsafe. “Revere” is the word “fear.” God is not the buddy who forgives your shortcomings while judging your enemies.
Isaiah 35: 5-6
At the coming redemption, everyone will be participate. But subversive, is universality equal to uniformity. Can’t imagine world in which people are who they are. Have to celebrate the vision and the text but recognize it is also oppressive.
Jeremiah 31: 8-9
Jeremiah gets it. We can level the roads, so that no one stumbles. God does that because God is our parent.
Micah 4: 6-7
In the great day of ingathering, none will be left. Out. They will be at the very center. Continuous with Jesus’s obsession with who is left out? Who is not there? With all their differences.
Zephaniah 3: 19-20: None of us will leave this earth without “special needs.” No such thing as special needs, human needs, it is just how you get those needs accommodated.
Jerusalem Talmud Pe’ah 8-9
Blind man put at head of table, being the blesser. Recurrent theme, those who are often seen as recipients of blessings, become the blessers.
Metzora: skin disease. Job of priest is regularize someone with a medical condition back into the community. Purification was to put blood behind ear and thumb. Etc. Rabbi then says that cannot be God’s intention. We do that all the time, look for the purpose, e.g., purpose of marriage. We can be who we are, and how then included with that difference.
Deaf mute: First held, those who cannot speak could not learn. Rebbe, head rabbi, allowed two guys who could not hear. It is found they have been following everything.
IEP, way for bureaucrats to torture innocent people.
Son Jacob had taught himself to read. Jacob now speaks around country. Written very insightful essays.
All time favorite Talmud story: Rebbe and rabbi (personal assistant) No actual name for the blind guy. Anonymous blind guy in some nowhere place may hold the blessing you need. If you do not go find him, you may live your life without the blessing you needed to have.
In the book meant for the powerful and ordered, people with disabilities are the anonymous people who give the blessings to the rabbi. Gospel stories exemplify rabbinic norms.
One of the ways to render someone invisible is to smother them with pity. True accommodation, here are the standards, how can we remove the impediments. They are responsible as well. Strictness of standards.
Story with the demon who knows what is right, what God knows, what will bring comfort, give him chance at eternal life. Demon helped the blind guy because he would merit the world to come. Talmudic stories that just explode normal assumptions.
One way world turns different people invisible is by turning people into oracles. We often treat people unfit or blemished. We do that with sheep, etc., but not for human beings.
Poem, challenge is not to be defined by what you cannot do, but celebrate what you can.
Living God poem
Blessing by Judith Glass
Way you become clergy now, is talent, merit, study. Call. Leviticus, it was by inheritance. Traditions do not practice what it says, changes over time. I am in no big rush to start sacrifices again. Nor rebuild temple. What does the ideal of a perfect religious leader imply?
Pity is not the worst sin. Word most often translated as pity is compassion. Arabic, compassionate one. God, the “womb-like one” Ability to see me as your child. We are faced with an onslaught on nudnics. Cloying, annoying people…surround you. If I was this person’s dad, what would I notice? Don’t look down on me, as case, but see me as a parent would. Greatest commandment, follow them, you are a good Torah Jew. If you can truly see your neighbor as your self, you can see the divine.
Thank you for challenging us to challenge our texts. Only fair, they challenge us all the time.
I am too old to worry about sexual orientation…I just want a nap.
Central metaphor of both sections of the Bible is a God who enters into relationship and you cannot enter into a relationship without change. “This time I know it wasn’t my fault
Perfect: God is eternally self-surpassing. We are called to do the same. The thing that used to be a limit can be surpassed. If God can, so can we. God never says creation is perfect, it is “awesome good.” We are invited to be really good, but perfect is the enemy of the good.
The easy OT talk: disabilities of the leaders. Moses would been shocked to receive handicapped parking stickers. Mephiboseth…greatness of character. I am motivated by more than wealth. Not born with special needs, imposed on him. David says he needs hesed elohim. Hesed is one of the words for love. Hesed is love that becomes manifest in action. If not showing the love, you are not doing hesed. I wanted your “hesed” and not your sacrifice. David says Mephiboseth deserves God’s hesed. What do you need me to do to make a world in which your humanity is clear.
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