Visions of Paradise, Watchtower Style:
Paradise? Was it?
For those wondering what the Jewish and the general academic critical take on Gan Eden is:
The Garden of Eden (Gan Eden) is modeled on the lush gardens of the Babylonians, most closed off to the public, protected by armed guard.
Gan Eden is allegorically Solomon's Temple. Gan Eden is described as a floorplan, much like the Tabernacle and Jewish Temples in the Bible.
Like Solomon's Temple which first had a large basin to wash in, Gan Eden is described with a prelude, beginning with river water (Ge 2:10; 1 Ki 7:23); immediately gold and precious jewels are mentioned, as if the land is laden with them, much like the Temple was (Ge 2:11, 12; 1 Ki 6:22); there are fruit trees there as there were carved into Solomon's Temple (Ge 2:9; 1 Ki 6:29), and the angel that holds the sword is a cherubim to guard the entry as was used heavily in the art of the Temple (Ge 3:24; 1 Ki 6:29).
The Most Holy was symbolized by the place in Gan Eden where Adam and Eve could speak to God during "the breazy time of the day,"* (Ge 3:8) meaning Evening Prayer at the Temple when a new day would begin. The Jews believed they lost their Temple and their King and Promised Land becaused they failed to keep the Law, especially the Sabbath, stealing from God what was not theirs, trying to be like God in a sense by doing even what God did not do, that is go beyond their own limits (symbolized in God "resting" on the Seventh Day).--Ge 2:1-3.
While Adam and Eve (who symbolized the nation of Israel) therefore lost admission to Gan Eden, their precious Temple, God still cared for them outside (see Ge 3:21). This symbolized the hope that Israel would one day be redeemed from captivity to Babylon, restored to their land and would one day rebuild their precious Temple again.
*--This phrase in Hebrew refers to the late afternoon when the day would cool off with the setting of the sun. This is also when one Jewish day ends and the next day begins and Jewish evening prayer starts.
Not to be argumentative...
How do we read the mind of a writer long since dust and ashes in the mists of time?
Whose hands (and how many) have touched the malleable narratives and with what motives? Toward what end?
Uknown merely, or unknowable?
Priests are gatekeepers who hands are outstretched for payment of services rendered. On whose behalf? God? Their own spoils of unending doctrinal battles?
Litigating for pay as all duty bound attorneys to this day, in service of some blind lady holding a set of scales, the Pharisee listens, cogitates, interprets, and adjudicates eternal "truth"--we hope.
How is a transcendent being so needy of being served or of having 'needs'?
Why entrust any eternal purpose to a scrofulous finite creature of narrow intelligence such as a priest?
And yet, all holy writ has the amanuensis (tampering?), blunting, editing, shaping away like a blind sculptor with a chisel in hand and---motives so pure?
We know not.
All of which to say, finally, rabbinical traditions (oral Torah) are all we really have like "Homer's" eternal heroes and villains, dancing across history fully imagined as indelible moral touchstones of eras bygone and crumbling.
Each new generation re-re-re-re interprets this little jot and that pesky tiddle toward some fresh application, accretion by accretion ever onward, (seldom upward)--one size fits all.
How do we know what THEY imagined is not purely human entirely and irrevocably?
Counterfeit bills are easily "spent" as long as nobody calls the cops.
How do YOU know what we Jews have is not worth anything?
Because you believe what you do or feel what you do or have experienced and researched what you have, are you saying I should just give up my Jewish culture and leave it all behind, not light my candles for Shabbat this evening, not go to Temple?
Should I let those who tried to smash the Jewish people into nothing during the Holocaust win?
Should I just let it all disappear like those from the KKK who littered my neighborhood with flyers the other day that read "THE ONLY GOOD JEW IS A DEAD JEW" want?
It's all just Tom Foolery to you, right?
So what if the Catholic Church tortured my family during the Spanish Inquisition and chased my family out of Spain and into Dutch Africa and across the Atlantic and later tried to murder each one of us when we reached Mexico? I should just listen to you, right, and give it up because of how you feel, right?
It's all just hooey. You have it right, correct? You know what you're talking about.
Let's let the Neo-Nazis win, and the bigots and the people who spray painted a swastika on my door have their way. At least I won't have to worry about those 12 bomb threats my Jewish Community Center got this past year or my Temple because now I will follow your fine example and just give it all up, because you have all the answers.
If you are so sure about the way you are living your life right now, then advise me to live my life just like yours, to give up everything generations of my family have fought to preserve. If it's all just crap, if it's all just imagined, and you're so sure, surely you would have no problem recommending me, pleading me to give it all up.
The lives of all my family in the concentration camps, the people who walked to Israel across Europe after the war, family members who gave their lives to save family members, sacred Torah scrolls, our culture, our way of life...fine it means nothing to you.
How can I be so sure?
How can YOU be so sure? Where are the generations and generations and generations and generations and generations of family and blood supporting your views and your standards and what you are cherishing right now?
I will show you the shoulders of everyone I stand on to show you why I am so sure. You show me yours.
My last marriage lasted 18 years. I married into a Jewish family. Nobody in that family had ever married outside of the "chosen":)
I found these particular Jews to be among the finest human beings I have ever met as far as their attitude toward family and others. Their private efforts toward helping non-Jews, ordinary people, anonymously shocked me. I suppose because JW's are exceedingly non-charitable (in my experience.)
Tikkun olam (world repair) is not only extraordinarily practical, it is more genuinely spiritual in that it applies human efforts toward humanity rather than wasting effort on impressing an already perfectly whole super being.
The big difference between JW's and JEW's is the missing "E" which is empathy.
Also, the fact Jews are not evangelical is remarkable. They are not selling Judaism like a retail business with brokers and it only illustrates to me more clearly how feckless Christian aggrandizement has become.
My association with Jews and Judaism, as isolated a sampling as it was, left me with only positive opinions.
I think, in the end, we are born with only so much capacity to love the invisible.
I squandered my full measure by the age of 23. It's sort of like virginity. Once it is gone--it is gone forever.
Then you should know very much where I am coming from. Why argue with me?
And if you know enough about Judaism to remember Tikkun Olam, then you should also remember that God is not actually invisible, not to us.
Every encounter with everyone and everything good, every action of redemption, every mitzvah that produces one facet more of Tikkun Olam is Divine. You can touch it, feel it, see it, sometimes taste and eat it if it is something practical like the food someone desperately needs.
That is besides the point. I am not your enemy. Regardless of how you feel, regardless of how spent and done you are with anything spiritual and with God, you let Jehovah's Witnesses win every time you focus your negativity on someone like me. They hope ex-JWs will become hateful and negative.
I'm already the subject of a lot of hatred, prejudice, bigotry, misunderstanding, negativity, and you're just adding to it. Why? Because of what life did to you? I'll bet I got more abuse, raped worse, been the subject of more of bullying, received more death threats, had to run for my life more times that you ever did.
Like I said, just this year alone I had to endure 12 bomb threats, a swastika painted on my front door, my neighborhood covered with flyers last week by the KKK (during Sukkot, I might add) saying Jews should be shot in the head, had family graves turned over and ruined three times, been hit in the head with produce, and told by friends not to go to their homes any more because they had just realized I was a "filthy Jew."
That was just this year alone! You want the whole story of the last 50?
Spent or not, you don't have any reason to make me the target of your emptiness. I am what I am. Apparently you should know better.
I don't think that we are only born with so much capacity to "love the invisible," as you say. If that were so, then I would have given up a long time ago.
Please, move on to someone else if you have the need to pick on someone for accepting the reality of the God of Abraham. It seems it Jehovah's Witnesses are good at one thing, it's making former members persecutors of religious people.
And by the way, the story says that Adam went around naming animals. What language did Adam speak to be able to name them?
And why name them, if Jellohoba then created a bunch of different languages, during the tower of Babel fairytale?
Expressing opposite and divergent views in question form towards me but merely saying it is "not argumentative" does not magically make something not argumentative.
That's like putting poison in my drink and saying "there's no poison in it." Merely saying the words doesn't magically make it so and take the poison away.
You were argumentative, regardless.
Whatever you call it, if it looks like a duck, and walks like a duck and quacks like a duck...
I thought you no longer believed in things invisible. Hmmm. Seems to me you do. Looks like you believe in something that doesn't exist--the fact that you were not arguing with me. Belief in the unreal is still alive and kicking in you, but it is just coming out when you find it convenient. Whatever.
It's your life, and who am I to judge?
I'm finished with this thread however.