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She would, however, push them only so far. It would have been customary for the woman to be married to spit in the face of the man who refused to fulfill his duty. At the last moment, the Jewish author of the story shrunk from letting a for- eigner humiliate an Israelite. Thus she becomes the agent for an overthrow of bigotry and racism. The curse on Moab is lifted. Rather, Moab provides the foremother of King David, forefather of the Messiah. The Midrash answers: Only God.

A concern for the bottom line is everywhere present in the background of the narra- tive. By contrast, Boaz stands out within the community of males and thus is the only man in Judah to be named by the author. The Legal Theme of Obedience The book of Ruth subverts from inside what it considers to be a tragic misunderstanding of Judean identity as reified by the reforms of Ezra and Nehemiah. The pair, to recall, had reaffirmed the legal ostracism of Ammonites and Moabites.

One of the ironies of the book of Ruth is that Boaz marries Ruth in obedience to the Law of Moses, not in defiance of it. One can therefore understand the embarrassment of the rabbis, who were obliged to harmonize the frequent biblical excoriation of the Moa- bites, on the one hand, with the integration of Ruth into Israel as ances- tress of David. But how to effect this harmony within the legal code?

In Talmudic and midrashic commentary on the opening verse, the rabbis deeply resent that an Israelite family would desert their people to settle in Moab, a country notoriously antagonistic to the Jews. In their view, the whole tale is built on nothing. Eventually, the thirteenth- century Spanish Zohar book states in a spirit of conciliation that Ruth had converted prior to her marriage.

Her name Ruth, a Jewish name, was given her at that point, as became customary in a ceremony of conversion developed much later. The Zohar answers that it was a renewal of an earlier commitment. In the beginning, she is embittered by what she views as the failure of the covenantal relationship.

In her eyes, the death of her two sons has doomed the line of Elimelech. Her com- plaint, however, slowly turns to hope through an unexpected peripeteia brought about by Ruth see The Theological Theme of H. Human h. Hence, the h. This makes of Ruth an exemplar not only for the people around her, but for generations to come. Naomi, Boaz, the elders, the chorus of women, the people at the city gate—all are caught up in a tide of goodness that culminates in the praise both of God and Ruth.

It inspires Boaz, for instance, to put love before money and property. It should be remembered that he is no obscure citizen, but rather one of the burghers of Bethlehem. Conse- quently, his marriage with Ruth cannot pass unnoticed. In addition, a chorus of women guarantees that the implications of the union are lost on no one. They constantly express feelings that are at odds with male reservations regarding the Moabitess.

At the end of the narrative, they celebrate the good fortune of Ruth and Naomi. Society is transformed. This portrait of social transformation is no small feat in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah, when the book was written. It was then that foreign women and their offspring were extradited from Judea. Whether or not the governors of Jerusalem had good cause for such an expulsion in the fifth century, the very sweep of the measure raises suspicion.

To blame the ills of society on aliens reflects the evil inclination toward scapegoating those who are not the same. Just as the author of Ruth spoke out against the edicts of Ezra and Nehemiah, so did another woman: the prophetess Noadiah, who led a party in opposition to the gubernatorial reforms. That both voices of opposition were female should not be overlooked; gender solidarity may have played a role in such subversion.

In hindsight, we know that Ruth is destined to become the ancestress of King David; no obstacle, even the obvious one of personal reputation, will derail that achievement. And yet in the eyes of the establishment, the blemish on the Davidic line will be indelible. The Second Temple priestly writer, as well as the chronicler, zealously list respectable progenitors for the important families in Jerusalem. They revel in pedigree. Ironically, the author of Ruth not only offers suspect lineage for David, but also links his foremother to another woman of dubious repute.

She sets Ruth in parallel with Tamar of Genesis 38; both women must use subterfuge to ensure that their lines are continued. Paradoxically, these women must risk unfaithfulness or indecency to fulfill their destinies. Already a member of the hated people of Moab, infamous for their im- morality, Ruth is ready to pass for a loose woman and be shunned for fornicating. While it is quite clear what took place between Tamar and Judah on the road to Timna, the author of Ruth leaves uncertain what actually transpired between Ruth and Boaz on the threshing floor.

Boaz clearly respects the integrity of Ruth, and so the outcome of their shared tale is a redemptive recapitulation of the events of Genesis In this regard, he stands in vivid contrast to other esteemed kings in the ancient Near East.

Indeed, Tamar and Ruth, both foremothers of David, were dubious women. This fact was not lost on the evangelist Matthew, who opens his Gospel with a messianic genealogy that includes not only Tamar and Ruth, but also Rahab and Bathsheba. This record is striking. The women mentioned all had tainted reputations, both for their perceived sexual impropriety and for their status as aliens. The Ethical Theme of the Feminine Unconventional It is worth noting that when any society sets ritual purity as its ideal, it is women who suffer most.

So it was in the fifth-century theocracy of Jeru- salem, when the Judeans fell into the trap of misogyny under the guise of holiness. Suffice it to recall the vengeance of Ezra 10 when leader and people inveigh against the foreign women who have entered into the household of Israel by marriage. To restore good faith with the Lord means to expel foreign women and their children.

The chorus of Bethlehem women at the end of the book of Ruth clearly does not understand the marriage of Boaz and the Moabitess to be a pollution. Rather, they embrace Ruth and celebrate her child. The Midrash is sensitive to this celebration and notes that although it is a joyous moment for some, it is not for all. The midrash explains that the opposition to the marriage came from those who considered it a scandal and saw the outcome of the union as the fruit of forbidden mating.

We can thus see that through Ruth, the social and political boundaries set by Second Temple Judaism are eclipsed. Much of the Hebrew Bible understands this. The Apostle may have had the example of Ruth in mind. Structured as a series of short, eventful scenes animated by spirited, dynamic dialogue, it can be easily adapted for the stage.

The obvious difference between Ruth and classical or Shakespearean drama is that Ruth was meant to be read, not performed. By contrast, both Greek and Elizabethan audiences knew plays not from reading, but from watching a theatrical production. In this sense, the biblical story is different. Dialogue is the fiber of drama, the yarn that weaves the story; as in the best plays, in the book of Ruth it is dialogue that advances action and reveals character.

It is mainly through the dialogue that the vari- ous forms of conflict—the heart of the dramatic—are represented in Ruth. Drama has been defined as the representation of the protagonist in conflict—either with an antagonist, with the circumstances or fate, or with the self. The book of Ruth reveals all three forms of conflict, but concentrates mainly on the second, that is, on people in conflict with circumstances.

One might argue that Naomi and Ruth are also in conflict with an antagonist, the Bethlehem community at large, which no doubt condemns Naomi for abandoning it in a time of famine and distress and is suspicious of Ruth for being an intruder, a member of a despised nation. It is therefore appropriate to study Ruth in the light of theories of drama, both ancient and modern.

The book features the main components of tragedy, yet with a happy, rather than catastrophic denouement; it also offers scenes in which human frailty, trickery, the unexpected, and the incongruous all coalesce to evoke laughter and a sense of merriment.

In con- junction, the comic mode allows for an irreverent perspective on the elderly patriarch and thus on patriarchy. The book of Ruth elevates the female figures to the role of the eiron, the conscious creators of the comic spirit, rather than its victims. Yet immediately after these bleak narratives, we enter Bethlehem, with its bustling town life and curious crowds.

Here we are also informed cryptically that this is the season of plenty, the beginning of harvest time. We should also remember that Greek drama grew out of the worship of Dionysus, the god of fertility, and that the theme of fertility, both of the soil and of the woman, is pivotal to our biblical story.

Frye further notices that, especially in Shakespeare, the dying and reviving character is usually a female, thus strengthening our sense that there is something maternal in the comic world that brings to bear and nourishes the new order of comic resolution. Once again, this happens at the end of our story, where the two bereft and deprived widows are fulfilled, even re- born, through the birth of a male child. One of the participants leads the festivities, assuming the role of the Lord of Misrule.

Traditional commentary on Ruth sees Boaz as a dignified, composed, and staid pillar of the community, but I want to suggest that in the course of a comic reinterpretation of Ruth, it is Boaz who plays the role of the Lord of Misrule. Without the spirit of unrestrained revelry that exists during the spring celebrations, when men become so intoxi- cated that they are unable to return home to their own beds and therefore must remain overnight in the open field, the scheme of Naomi and Ruth would never have worked.

Indeed, Naomi must be acquainted with this harvest custom of reversal of normal behavior, knowing that the most respectable and disciplined citizen of the community becomes the leader of the celebration and loses control of his senses. The success of her daring plan depends entirely on this fact.

For proper structure, Aristotle requires a tightly knit story in which all events are causally connected, reflecting a great conflict and an entanglement leading to a climax, after which there is a movement toward a denouement, or resolution. Underlying this dynamic movement are elements of mystery and suspense, an epiph- any, and the reversal of fortune. This pyramid structure is evident in Ruth.

The event at the threshing floor is suspenseful because Naomi and Ruth have put their reputation at risk. If this maneuver does not succeed, if Boaz becomes upset and exposes Ruth as a loose woman, a stranger who has attempted to seduce and corrupt a pillar of the town, these women are doomed. There is an element of suspense and tension here; as in Shakespearean comedy for instance, when Viola presents herself as a man to Orsino and the community in Twelfth Night and is challenged to a duel , the situation in which the heroine finds herself could as easily have ended tragically.

Yet since this is a comedy, the tragic potential is held at bay and eventually stunted, so that Boaz does not denounce Ruth and her mother-in-law, and instead, the story shifts gears at midpoint to reach a happy ending for its women protagonists. The climactic, tense moment at the threshing floor is fol- lowed by a series of actions taken by Boaz to untangle the plot, leading to the happy ending—the birth of a son to Ruth.

The structure of the book of Ruth further adheres to the Aristotelian unity of action: there are no secondary protagonists, nor is there a subplot mirroring the main plot. This movement between the indoors and the outdoors is in line with the practices of Roman New Comedy and Shakespearean comedy, where the action moves between public spaces and private domiciles.

Thus Bethlehem offers a unity of location. Concentrating primarily on plays from the long history of Western tradition that are categorized as tragic or tragicomic, Dorothea Krook offers a modern theory of drama. A number of her observations reinforce my placement of Ruth within the dramatic genre, as well as my argument that Ruth as comedy is tragedy in reverse.

Thus, the first two dramatic elements mapped out by Krook are met in Ruth: the initial shameful act s , and the suffering that ensues. As in Greek drama, the question of divine retribution arises in the dialogue between the protagonist and the chorus.

Even as she expresses her wretchedness, Naomi frames her present mis- ery as part of an ongoing dialogue between her and God. We come to see, however, that this is not simply colloquial speech. Rather, it is a well-thought-out argument on the part of Naomi, whose rhythmic lament reverberates with echoes of the book of Job, thus endowing her plight with larger, even colossal, significance.

In this scene, Naomi imagines herself to play a major role—the accused. Yet within her personal complaint, Naomi also recognizes that she is paying for the grave viola- tion that occurred in her family. Krook suggests two additional facets of drama: one is the coming into heightened understanding, or epiphany; the other is the affirmation of life and the dignity of humanity even in defeat, in the case of tragedy.

The happy resolution of the book of Ruth cannot be attained apart from the manifold epiphanies that are enjoyed by each of the three main char- acters. This epiphany is followed by another, in which she sees that she needs to make amends and redeem both herself and her people.

Therefore, in her attempt to lift herself and Ruth from the jaws of poverty and destitution, Naomi is looking for more than a material solution to their problems. She does not sell her property, for instance, or try to reactivate her land so that it can once again become productive and a source of profit.

Her quest for redemption thus gives a spiritual turn to her search for material security and survival. As later becomes clear, Ruth could well have found material salvation through marriage to one of the local young men who have shown an interest in her. How- ever, she realizes that to truly become one of the Hebrew people whom she so passionately wants to espouse, she needs to enter the community through the time-honored custom of levirate marriage.

She must rebuild the family that has been devastated. Here we find a reversal of tradi- tional roles, for now the woman teaches the man, and not vice versa. This reversal is one of the comic sources of the story, akin to the student lecturing his teacher or the accused chiding the judge. He was not moved to help her, nor does he show further interest in the two women once the harvest season ends. When Ruth asks Boaz why he has singled her out for special treatment, she is not being just modest or grateful.

She elicits from Boaz an admission that he had heard that Naomi and her daughter-in-law had returned and that he knows much more about Naomi and Ruth than his actions so far have shown. Therefore, when the season of harvesting is over and the women are again alone and desolate, they need to resort to action. Rather, she evokes the levirate custom, making Boaz understand the spirit of the law, rather than simply its narrow meaning.

She therefore wishes to enter the Israelite family through the institution of levirate marriage. She makes Boaz realize that the law itself does not always cover all the cases confronted in real life. Ruth teaches Boaz a lesson in the humanitarian interpretation of the law, which he readily accepts.

Once this knowl- edge finally dawns on Boaz, he proceeds to do the right thing for his two widowed relatives. It is Naomi who initially introduces the way that the plot will unfold, although she does not do so directly, but through a very innova- tive use of rhetoric. Naomi uses the potential of words to send subliminal messages and create new realities. In two quite elaborate speeches —9, 10—13 she thanks them for their past kindness, urges them to leave her and turn back, and wishes them well.

Her explicit argument is that she is past her childbearing years, that therefore the daughters-in-law cannot be redeemed by any son of hers. Naomi de- scribes at length what cannot happen, but her elaborating on the impossi- ble—that she will remarry and give birth to sons, that her daughters-in- law will wait for those sons to redeem them—points to hidden desires and hopes. While on the face of it Naomi rules out any possibility of her daughters-in-law remarrying within her family, her protestations create an imaginary world in which the unlikely might indeed come true; be- hind the language of seeming desperation lurks the vision of a potential miracle.

While dismissing the possibility of a levirate marriage for Ruth and Orpah, Naomi in fact introduces the concept into both the tale and the consciousness of the reader. Moreover, to further build up her vision of the possible, to enhance her subliminal message, and to create a world out of the word, Naomi names the relationship between the two women using a term that technically does not denote the link between women whose husbands are brothers.

This should not be taken as a slip of the tongue, a careless mistake on the part of a distraught woman. Naomi has taken a liberty with the language, but in the process, she has created a new frame of reference within the tale by filling the dialogue with intimations of yibbum, levirate marriage, thus mitigating the language of the unattain- able.

Naomi creates a world with the force of her tongue, and the reader is left to wonder how the misnomer she uses will enter reality. Will a time come in which either of these two young women will indeed be rightfully called yebamah? I went out full, and the Lord brought me back empty; why then do you call me Naomi? Naomi is here in line with biblical tradition, which attributes great importance to names, but what she means is, of course, not that her name should be changed, but that her reality should be mended and altered to conform to her original name.

Boaz plays the senex, the comic old man; Ruth is the virgo, the young girl often inaccessible for a variety of reasons; and Naomi is the servus callidus, the clever slave, or the servus delusus, the crafty servant whose inspired planning and improvisation bring about the happy comic resolution. The attraction that a young woman holds for an old man has often been used by dramatists and stage directors for its hilarious, farcical possibilities.

Boaz emerges as a pompous old man for whom talk is easy, but he is awkward and hesitant when it comes to interaction with a young woman that he obviously likes. His inclination is to make grand public gestures on which he does not follow through. His flaw may also lie in his timidity with women, in his sexual shyness, which creates a comic discrepancy between his status as a wealthy, powerful figure and his diffidence in private with women.

Ruth and Naomi use these weaknesses to their own advantage. The old man sounds like a puppet repeating familiar formulae, rather than expressing his own original sen- timents. This renders him mechanical, robotic, and therefore comical in the Bergsonian sense.

According to this description, Ruth is the perfect eiron. It goes without saying that in this comic scheme of things, Boaz plays the alazon. In the very first encounter between Boaz and Ruth, the latter uses a playful, even teasing tone when she asks Boaz why he has singled her out. Boaz undoubtedly becomes intoxicated, unsteady, and forgetful when he sinks into deep sleep.

Here the situation can easily develop into physical farce as the old man, usually buttoned-up and proper, wakes from his drunken stupor disoriented and alarmed to find a strange woman at his feet in the open field. The comic possibilities envisioned by Bergson are numerous here. A woman asking a man to marry re- verses the norms of patriarchal society.

It is inherently comic. When Boaz regains his composure, he is still emo- tional and effusive; in a flowery speech he blesses Ruth and commends her profusely, perhaps to cover up his embarrassment and discomfort at her presence. When, in a theatrical gesture, he measures out a significant portion of barley and tells Ruth to hold up her apron so that he can fill it up , one can only imagine the farcical, even bawdy visual possibili- ties of Ruth returning home, her apron bulging provocatively.

His interest in Ruth is on the one hand ridiculous, but it is also reciprocated. Finally, Northrop Frye argues that comedy often includes a communal scapegoat and a ritual of expulsion whereby society purges itself of the spirit of chaos that has temporarily seized it. With moderation and har- mony reestablished, a far better and well-integrated society emerges from the one we experienced at the beginning of the play.

His departure ushers in the festivity in which the elders and the crowd gather at the gate to bless and embrace Ruth. Yet just as we recognize the ancient harvest festivals within the biblical holidays of Sukkot, Pesach, and Shavuot, we catch glimpses of comedy behind the sober surface of the biblical tale. Ruth is a romantic comedy, rooted in the seasonal celebration of nature and its cycles and thereby connected to festivities outside the boundaries of respected soci- ety.

It offers a humorous, perhaps rebellious critique of law, coated with a story of historical and covenantal significance to the people of Israel. Its comedic mode and voice have not been entirely suppressed. Thus, the humor in Ruth, especially in its deception of a patriarch, offers a topsy-turvy moment in which the woman is licensed to manipulate the powerful man and teach him how to behave. A comedic reading of Ruth coincides with a feminist one, because it empowers women and exposes male weaknesses in a culture where this was unexpected.

The reversal of accepted norms makes the book funny. Women are seen as the creators of the comic spirit, as able to transcend their private misery so as to take a broader view of existence. The comic potential of the Ruth story does not detract from the serious themes raised in the tale. On the contrary, at its best, comedy has always been serious business, pointing out the absurdities of the human condition, highlight- ing human frailty and folly, while at the same time delighting us with redemption of a happy ending.

Kates Unlike the skepticism they brought to other megillot scrolls such as Esther and the Song of Songs, the rabbis never questioned the sacredness of the book of Ruth. The Talmud also ascribes its authorship to the prophet Samuel, who is understood to have written it in order to explain the ancestry of David b. Baba Batra 14b. Throughout the Talmud and early collections of midrash, we find commentary and reflection on this book.

But here I will be paying partic- ular attention to a coherently edited anthology we call Ruth Rabbah, a midrashic collection composed of verse-by-verse commentary, divided into eight chapters and introduced by a long proem or petih. In the essay to follow, I dwell on a few of what I find to be its most compel- ling themes. Let us begin with a comment offered on , the first words of direct speech to be found in this book, which is in fact composed largely of dialogue.

May the Lord deal kindly [h. The lord deal kindly with you ib. Hanina b. He certainly will deal kindly with you. For what purpose then was it written? To teach how great is the reward of those who do deeds of kindness. Ruth Rabbah The first comment relates to a textual phenomenon unusually frequent in the book of Ruth: The spelling in the received consonantal text the ketiv yields a meaning different from that of the spoken pronunciation e accepted by the Masoretic tradition the k ri.

The disparity between written and spoken text is frequently noted in Ruth Rabbah, leading to an additional panoply of meanings where there is already a multiplication of possible interpretation. Exactly to which acts is Naomi referring when she talks about the h. In relation to h. Hanina specifies providing shrouds for them. In doing so, he recalls Talmudic statements that consider such care for the dead to be the defining example of h. In a similarly concrete vein, they read the acts of h.

K AT E S owed according to the terms of the ketubah, the marriage settlement writ- ten at the time of the wedding, in accordance with rabbinic law. This reading, of course, requires that we forget an earlier midrash in Ruth Rabbah that notes that Ruth and Orpah, the Moabite daughters-in-law, had not converted.

As a result, their marriage would not have been sealed with a ketubah, and they would not be owed any compensation at all. In that context, he offers a pious affirmation in harmony with what we might call a Deuteronomic theology; it is certainly one congenial e to the rabbinic principle of middah c neged middah, measure for measure. Nonetheless, a surprisingly large amount of space in Ruth Rabbah is devoted to a theme that seems to me to challenge, if not subvert, that harmonious reading.

From the first lines of the petih. For the midrash, the biblical text begins in a world of disorder and disruption, a world dan- gling over the abyss of transgression and breakdown. Yet it will be res- cued by human h. The rabbis claim, in fact, that there have been a total of ten famines in Scripture. But the book of Ruth takes strange turns. The rabbis seem impelled to explain the difference: Of the famine which came in the days when the judges judged, however, R.

Huna said in the name of R. And Rabban Simeon b. Gamaliel said: When is this? But it has been taught: In time of pestilence and in time of war, gather in thy feet, and in time of famine, spread out thy feet. Why then was Elimelech punished?

Because he struck despair into the hearts of Israel. He was like a prominent man who dwelt in a certain country, and the people of that country depended upon him and said that if a dearth should come he could supply the whole country with food for ten years.

When a dearth came, how- ever, his maidservant went out and stood in the market place with her basket in her hand. He was one of the notables of his place and one of the leaders of his generation. This is the meaning of the verse And a certain man of Beth-lehem in Judah went. K AT E S According to this midrash, the fate of Elimelekh is a punishment, not, as we might think, for leaving the land of Israel unnecessarily, but for failures of leadership and of what we might call the moral imagination.

Rashi captures this interpretation with a wonderfully evocative phrase in his commentary on Ruth I went away full and the Lord has brought me back empty. I went out full and the Lord hath brought me back empty ib. I went out full with sons and daughters. Another interpreta- tion of I went out full, is, I was pregnant. XXII, XIX, It cries out for some understanding: How can such disaster have engulfed this woman in a world that we expect to make moral sense?

Or is it that she is being tried, like Job, and therefore generates an existential anxiety similar to the effect of the book of Job? The specific midrash we are exploring here is framed by a formulation that is stunning in its starkness and empathy. What is a remnant of the minh. She is a mere husk or, as Zornberg puts it, like the walking dead, emptied out, and yet suffering from that emptiness all the same.

I am suggesting that the rabbis, in contemplating Naomi with their questions of justice in mind, see in her both a figure of suffering and a challenge to any simplis- tic notion of divine justice. There is a second thematic preoccupation of the midrash to consider: the question of conversion. Ruth, after all, is a narrative about the other, about a particularly challenging other, when we think about the attitude toward the Moabites found in such texts as Numbers 22 or 25 or Deuter- onomy The midrash, well aware of those sections of the Torah, hears a loud, if implicit question: How could king David be descended from a foreigner, and a Moabite at that?

In response, rabbinic readers insistently find in Ruth the paradigm of the ger tzeddek, the righteous convert. Samuel b. Nah- mani said in the name of R. Judah b. Isaac said: [It is written,] The stranger did not lodge in the street Job XXXI, 32 : A man should rebuff with his left hand, but bring near with the right. Ruth Rabbah Rabbi Samuel b.

Nahmani and Rabbi Isaac are boldly anachronistic when they find in the biblical text the specific gestures and movements of later rituals of conversion. But they also are quite sensitive in their registry of paradoxical nuance. What is the meaning of En- treat me not? I am fully resolved to become con- verted under any circumstances, but it is better that it should be at your hands than at those of another.

Thy people shall be my people ib. And where thou lodgest, I will lodge: I shall lodge overnight with the sacrifices. Thy people shall be my people, in that I will destroy all idolatry within me, and thy God shall be my God, to pay me the reward of my labour.

And there I will be buried; these are the two graves prepared by the Beth din, one for those who have suffered stoning and burning, the other for those decapitated and strangled. The Lord do to me and more also. Her apparently simple, basic declaration of loyalty contains, for the midrash, a full awareness of all the journeys, both physical and spiritual, to be found in Torah.

It may be silent acquiescence, or a retreat into that dark emptiness she exposes on the return to Bethlehem. Yehuda bar Shimon commented: Come and see how precious in the eyes of the omnipresent are converts. What ultimately matters for R. None of their descendants, even to the tenth generation, shall ever be admitted into the congregation of the Lord. What halakha is that? Ammoni v lo e ammonit, moavi v lo moavit—an Ammonite man is prohibited, but not an Ammonite woman; a Moabite man but not a Moabite woman.

The classic source for this creative reading reveals the urgency of this issue. But their females are permitted immedi- ately. Because he is descended from Ruth, the Moabitess. He wanted publicly to pro- claim him [unfit]. An Ammonite [is unfit], but not an Ammo- nitess; a Moabite but not a Moabitess. II, Joshua b. Nahman and the Rabbis [give different explanations]. Samuel says: He was an Ishmaelite yet you call him an Israelite? Indeed he was an Ishmaelite, but he entered the house of study and found there Jesse expounding the verse, Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth Isa.

XLV, 22 , and he became con- verted and he [Jesse] gave him his daughter to wife. The Rabbis say he was an Israelite, and yet you call him an Ishmaelite? Rabbinic thought is generally concerned with issues of group definition and boundaries, and we see that concern reflected here. In their withholding of food and suste- nance, they embody the opposite of h. The exclusion of Moabites would thus seem to be based on an ethical, as much as an ethnic rationale. We might then argue that the book of Ruth teaches us that, despite her Moabite origins, Ruth is brought under the wings of God because of her extraordinary righteousness and because she is the exemplar of h.

Halakha, represented by the prohibition in Deu- teronomy, is set aside because of her exceptional ethical qualities. The rabbis counter such an argument with their emphasis on a genuine halakhic ground for the embrace of the Moabite woman. They implicitly demon- strate that legal and ethical concerns can be harmonized.

The midrash emphasizes without question her righteousness, modesty, and piety, but it also mobilizes an idea that, though never spelled out in Ruth Rabbah, is fully developed in the Talmud: Her conversion was perfectly in keep- ing with the law. Indeed, it was possible because of the law, or at least because of the law as understood by the rabbinic interpreters. It comes to underscore the network of righ- teousness so powerfully present in this story—the interdependence of law and ethics, halakha and h.

So it is that every year synagogue congrega- tions take out the Torah scroll from the Holy Ark, place it on the reading table, and read from Exodus 19—20 as a public reenactment of that an- cient covenantal proclamation. But just before that happens, another, much smaller scroll is opened and read: the scroll of Ruth. The synagogue lectionary is designed to take the congre- gation through the entire Torah, the Five Books of Moses, once a year. But along with this weekly sequence from Genesis to Deuteronomy, there is another coordinated set of readings from the prophets, called the Hafta- rah.

Each selection from the prophets is in some way related to the Torah reading, although the relationship is not always obvious or simple. Some- times the prophetic reading carries the Pentateuchal narrative forward in time, sometimes it highlights the ethical teaching of the Torah selection, and sometimes it provides a counterpoint to the Torah reading, as when Leviticus 1—5 is followed by Isaiah —, and the week after, when Leviticus 6—8 is followed by Jeremiah — The juxtapositions are provocative and meant to be so.

But in general, one may say that the words are heard as a challenge, as a call to reflection and deeper understanding. These readings open dia- logue, rather than shutting it down. While the reading from the prophets always follows the Torah read- ing, there are three occasions when a scriptural reading precedes the Torah lection: on Passover in the spring, with the Song of Songs; on Sukkot in the fall, with Ecclesiastes; and as mentioned above on Sha- vuot, with Ruth. But perhaps most intriguing of all is the reading of Ruth, which links Bethle- hem with Sinai, Moab with Moses.

And again, unlike the traditional Haftorot—which follow the Torah reading and remain ancillary to it— the reading of Ruth precedes the reading of Torah. It is as if to say the covenant of Sinai and the Torah of Moses are framed by—are to be understood under the canopy of—Ruth and her teaching. It is not only in liturgical settings that Judaism creates seemingly un- likely neighbors. The entire genre of midrash involves revealing meaning by hurling texts at each other and observing the resultant trajectories and the energies released.

As Michael Fishbane and others have reminded us, midrashic activity is traceable back to the Bible itself, which brims with intertextual allusions and delights in lexical plays and phonemic echoes in both prose and poetry. In truth, the very embodiment of the Tanakh, the Hebrew Scriptures, as a physical artifact implies relationship.

I hold a Tanakh in my hand, aware that I grasp a wide variety of genres and works: story and geneal- ogy, creedal affirmation, ethical maxim, and joyous celebration. In older times each work came written on its own scroll—scribal practice pre- serves this tradition even today—so the whole anthology would have been stored in a large pouch. I often wonder what these scrolls say to each other as they jostle about, rubbing shoulders willy-nilly.

What does curmudgeonly Ecclesiastes say to pious, not to say the credulous Psalms? Do Job and Deuteronomy understand each other? How do Jeremiah and Ezekiel respond when approached by Song of Songs, all sultry and ready for a big hug?

We know that some books were nearly excluded—or did they wish to opt out? There were some works—Enoch and Jubilees among others—that did not make the cut. I am personifying here, projecting human characteristics onto scrolls. But the reality is that behind each work stands a community, a group of devoted disciples who preserved, taught, and likely edited each of the scrolls, passing on words and voice and perspective for generations. Fur- thermore, the collection as a whole became the Scriptures of postexilic Judaism, the common ground of the people who gathered under the shadow of the Second Temple to pick up the pieces of the first one, who claimed the Bible as their living guide even though most of the events described in it already were of unimaginable antiquity in their own day.

When inviting guests to a dinner party, one can never predict which will hit it off, where the most scintillating conversation will arise, and who might exchange phone numbers or arrange a subsequent meeting. But if the party is to succeed at all, there must be some shared under- standing. A basic trust undergirds the process of extending and accepting invitations, an implied pact between host and guests.

Like all tacit under- standings, this one probably cannot be brought to full articulation, but it surely includes the assumption that all participants will be open to camaraderie, discovery, and dialogue and that no one will prove an en- during embarrassment to anyone else. As Rolf Rendtorff has put it, the postexilic Jewish community of returnees is: the community whose self-definition is expressed in the final form of the Old Testament canon.

We have to think of a mutual relation- ship: through its handling of the texts passed down to it, the com- munity builds up the way it sees itself; while in the process it often gives these texts a new interpretation, which is ultimately reflected in the final form of the text and the canon as a whole. Whatever word we might come up with, one thing is certain: The Tanakh is a relational latticework that bestows a common frame of possibility for those who bear it as sacred.

A deep optimism pervades the Hebrew Bible, despite repeated tragedy and trauma. The web of intertextual allusions that readers ancient and modern have found between the Torah and Ruth—works so very different in character and size—might leave a beginning student surprised, yet the web is rich indeed, densely woven and firmly knotted.

Some points of contact—with Deuteronomy and Leviticus, and most of all with Genesis—have been explored by previous writers; I hope to build on their insights. Modest in size as Ruth is, the book plays a surprisingly important role in the biblical schema. It is astonishing that the matriarch Leah, for all her centrality in the book of Genesis and later Jewish memory, is men- tioned nowhere else in the Bible—except in Ruth.

With Rachel, it is almost the same: After Genesis, she receives but two mentions in Jewish Scripture—plus here in Ruth. We begin our exploration with a rabbinic midrash from the classic period, roughly contemporaneous with the Talmuds, which already points to some mysterious divine plan in the puzzling events of the messi- anic line.

And God was occupied in creating the light of King Messiah. The seeds of the final redemption already had been sown and would one day bear fruit. The linkage of Genesis 38 with Isaiah 66, moreover, makes Tamar, who was once mistaken for a harlot, the prototype for Jerusa- lem—the city stigmatized as a harlot by the prophet in Isaiah , but now to be restored and rebuilt. Here, as elsewhere, midrashic method reveals the meaning across biblical texts when they are read dynamically, read across arching spans of time, where the past foreshadows the future and the present fulfills the past.

Neither exegesis nor eisegesis, this disclosure of the living convergence of text and community is itself a sign of enduring hopeful- ness. Come, let us make our father drink wine. One response was that the Sodomites had an abundance of wine, which they customarily stored in caves.

This is surely an intriguing view of what on the surface appears to be a most tawdry biblical episode. The suggestion that the embarrassing liaisons of Genesis have some eschatological significance is found in the Babylonian Talmud, as well. A fuller exposition awaited the flowering of Jewish mysticism in the medieval period, in particular the Zohar, the Kabbalistic classic from the thirteenth century.

The Zohar notes the similarities between the stories of Judah and Tamar and those of Ruth and Boaz and sees in them confirmation of its belief in the transmigration of the soul. Levirate marriage for the Zohar gives a second chance to souls that did not fulfill their mission during their first sojourn on earth. Rather, she was righteous, and acted out of wisdom. It was all from God. Those two women were alike—one corresponding to the other [da ke-gavna de-da], Tamar and Ruth—who had lost their prior husbands, and who worked to accomplish this thing—Tamar with her father-in-law [Judah], and Ruth with Boaz.

These include not only the liaisons of Lot with his daughters and Judah with Tamar, but David with Bathsheba, mother of Solomon. In any event, the Zohar has made explicit what the Talmud and midrash had only hinted at—that the incest or adultery of the biblical heroes may have been part of a divine plan. And by pointing to a three- part correspondence: Tamar-Judah, Ruth-Boaz, and Bathsheba-David, the Zohar underscores the emergence of the messianic line from parallel transgressive episodes.

Of course, Ruth does not commit incest or adul- tery. By amplifying the intertextual reverberations, Zohar makes explicit what had been merely implied. In Kabbalistic theory, such figures as Tamar, Ruth, and Bathsheba, like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, become symbols of cosmic forces, of the sefirot—the manifestations of the divine on earth. At some point, there- fore, the interest shifts from the actual lives historical or literary of the ancestors to these figures as avatars and finally as markers of an intradi- vine process.

Kabbalistic texts are deeply interested in biblical narratives, but largely to highlight theosophical-cosmic processes and mystical doc- trines such as reincarnation and the emergence of redemption from evil, light from darkness, and restoration from exile. So as the Zoharic teach- ings are taken up by subsequent Kabbalists, attention often shifts away from actual personalities toward theory-laden elaboration of these ideas.

This same tendency is evident in current scholarly writing, as well. In recent years, academic discussions on Jewish messianism have displayed little interest in David, even as a literary figure. Scholem is much interested in the Kabbalistic ideas that laid the groundwork for his career and the antinomian turn that they took as the Sabbatean move- ment developed. He writes of the anarchic element that entered messianic utopianism, out of which would emerge latent antinomian potentialities.

Scholem points to one part of the Zoharic corpus where we find the idea that the entire system of Jewish law known as halakha is given in the shadow of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden. But in the domain of the Tree of Life, there is only goodness, holiness, with no admixture of evil, no death, and therefore no need for restriction. In the time of messianic redemption, conceived as restoration of the state of Paradise, the time of universal holiness and purity, there will be no need or room for prohibitions or restrictions.

This idea was taken up by Sabbatai Zevi and developed with even more vigor and insistence by his followers. Many Sabbateans went further and argued that sexual restrictions such as the prohibition of adultery were abrogated in the messianic era that had arrived. Of course, the dark episodes in the Davidic lineage did not escape their attention.

Sabbatai Sevi, The Hasidic movement distanced itself from the antinomian excesses of Sabbateanism. Yet while working to avoid sectarian-heretical implica- tions, it nonetheless drew upon the same basic store of Kabbalistic-Zo- haric-Lurianic ideas in its own theology.

Regarding the messianic idea, therefore, we find a similar notion of light coming from the darkness. The late nineteenth-century Polish Hasidic master, Rabbi Zadok ha- Kohen of Lublin, for example, writes in his Tzidkat ha-Tzadik: In the period leading up to the messianic advent, the main task is to extract the precious from the base cf. The redemp- tion will emerge precisely from the place of lust and sin—by means of repentance.

David is the archetype for the messianic soul be- cause he showed how to make repentance into a life principle of sacrificial offering. And just that is the realization of ultimate fulfillment—that the root of evil will be transformed to good. At that time the lowest will become the highest. One may conclude that while Kabbalistic and Hasidic authors were most astute biblical readers, acutely alive to patterns and allusions, their emphasis on theory limits their ability to shed light on the biblical characters as actual personalities.

It therefore would be interesting to see what happens if we return to the Bible with the intertextual awareness of the midrash and Kabbalah, but bracketing the theoretical ideas of the Kabbalists. Whatever one thinks of the doctrine of transmigration and the emer- gence of eschatological light from primordial evil, abstract ideas such as these seem not entirely at home in the biblical period.

So the rest of this essay will attempt to explore the connections between Ruth and Genesis from a perspective immanent to the texts themselves. Our focus will be on names and people, on how reputations can be tarnished and redeemed by intergenerational dialogue and posthumous restoration. Because such developments are emergent, requiring trust and patience and collective memory, it follows that the Tanakh itself—the relational latticework spanning vast stretches of time—is itself one of the key actors in our drama.

Lot is hardly a heroic figure. It is not just that he allows himself to be intoxicated on two successive nights so that, stone drunk, he has sex with his own daughters. What was he doing in that cave in the first place? That is, his lack of faith in God caused him to abandon Zoar and hide in a cave, where he slipped into the compromising situa- tion of the rest of the narrative. So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan, and Lot journeyed eastward; so they parted, one from his brother.

Recall that as Abraham returns from the rescue of Lot, he is met by two kings—the king of Sodom and the king of Salem. Malkizedek, the king of Salem, takes bread and wine and uses them to express greeting, thankfulness, and blessing. Gene- sis —4, which can be seen as the mission statement of Judaism, of all Abrahamic religion, begins to be realized in Salem. Genesis 14 is actually a tale of two cities: Salem versus Sodom.

Lot has separated himself from Abraham and the Abrahamic blessing and has aligned himself with Sodom. The intertextual allusions between Ruth and Genesis are bidirectional. The usage here is ironic and mildly derisive—Lot knew his daughters carnally, mechani- cally, but without rising to conscious awareness or relationship. Boaz as- sures Ruth that he will act nobly, responsibly, but only after all legal issues have been addressed. To sum up: Lot has carnal knowledge of his actual biological daugh- ters but is oblivious; he has no higher-order knowledge.

He went to lie down at the end of the grain pile, and she came stealthily, uncovered his feet, and lay down. The Hebrew word lot, in the sense of secrecy or stealth, occurs but three times in Scripture, twice in the book of Samuel with reference to David and here in the book of Ruth. In Genesis 38—the Judah and Tamar episode—we recall that Judah was trying to locate the woman he thought was a harlot, make payment of a kid from the flock, and retrieve his seal, cord, and staff.

But his friend was not able to find her. Judah then says at tikah. This reading is strengthened by noticing other intertextual echoes be- tween Genesis and the book of Ruth. Judah at first does not recognize his own daughter-in-law and has sex with Tamar, whereas Boaz does recognize Ruth as a noble, compassionate woman and refrains from sex until the proper moment. Finally, let us start to look at some broader patterns. We first meet Judah as the one who comes up with idea of selling his brother Joseph into slavery; then he has a rather squalid encounter with a harlot who turns out to be his own daughter-in-law, whom he almost has put to death by fire for a pregnancy which he caused.

This is a replay of the sale of Joseph twenty-two years earlier with Benjamin substituting for Joseph and with Judah reversing his role: In- stead of selling a son of Rachel into slavery, he now saves his half-brother by offering himself. This is the perfect act of teshuvah, return, repentance. The process of redemption begun by Tamar is advanced by Ruth. She motivates Boaz to redeem Lot. A particularly notable instance is at —Boaz has just noticed Ruth for the first time and asks about her identity.

All of this may explain in part why Judaism settled on David as the messianic precursor. We recall that there are some biblical strands where God alone acts as savior see Exod. Why do Jews not pray for the return of Moses from occultation or for the emergence of a worthy scion from his lineage? The paradoxical answer seems to be that Moses is too close to perfection to do the job.

Yes, he slew the Egyptian in Exodus —12, but commentators largely view the episode as a justified intervention to save the life of the victim, the Hebrew slave. Yes, he smote the rock in Numbers 20, but generations of readers have yet to figure out for sure exactly what the sin was. Moses apparently did not know, either, for he never apologizes for what he did see, for instance, Deuteronomy Whatever flaws we may be able to discern in Moses, we sense that we already know them all; the FBI background search will not contain surprising new disclosures, no awkward revelations, certainly nothing with a whiff of scandal.

Rectitude is wonderful, but what rectitude does not know is the yearning for redemption. For this reason, those whose story is painted only in bright colors could not serve in the role of re- deemer. Only an imperfect messiah can redeem an imperfect world and him- self as well. This is why Ruth is the progeni- tor of the Messiah, because the Messiah is the ultimate meshiv nefesh, restorer of life and dignity when hope seems lost.

This is what com- passionate redemption means. Tamar covers herself with a veil and sits at the crossroads. And all of this is conveyed in echoes, in the dappled interplay of light and shadow, figure and ground, in eyes, in blessed gazes, and wellsprings.

That is why on Sha- vuot, the festival of first fruits, also the festival of the covenant, the giving of the Torah, we read the scroll of Ruth, the Torah of kindness, to pre- pare the way to receive the Decalogue itself as a Torah of kindness.

In the end, Ruth reminds us that nothing is more beautiful than friendship, that grace begets grace, that blessing flourishes in the place between memory and hope, that light shines most from broken vessels. What else is the Messiah about?

Furthermore, as soon as she and Naomi arrive in Bethlehem, Ruth hits the alien corn as if it were her native element. This integrated approach guides each chapter and provides a neuroethologically-driven and evolutionary basis for our understanding of acoustic communication and its underlying mechanisms.

The intended audience ranges from senior undergraduates to physiologists, zoologists, evolutionary biologists and communication specialists. Arthur N. Richard R. The Springer Handbook of Auditory Research presents a series of synthetic reviews of fundamental topics dealing with auditory systems. Each volume is independent and authoritative; taken as a set, this series is the definitive resource in the field. Peter M. Albert S. Editors : Peter M.

Narins, Albert S. Feng, Richard R. Fay, Arthur N. Hardcover ISBN : Softcover ISBN : Series ISSN : Edition Number : 1. Number of Pages : XIV, Skip to main content. Search SpringerLink Search. Editors: view affiliations Peter M. Buying options eBook EUR Softcover Book EUR Hardcover Book EUR Learn about institutional subscriptions.

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Kendrick lamar poetic justice live torrent Society is transformed. Her name Ruth, a Jewish name, was given her at that point, as became customary in a ceremony of conversion developed much later. Throughout the rabbinic corpus, the Song of Songs is used to explore the narratives of Exodus and Revelation; the whole history of Israel is an expansion of the Song of Songs, a story of the love between God and human beings. Ruth is a model of agape, the Song of read more, and yet both make declarations of love that are unparalleled elsewhere in the Bible. Thus, the Tsenerene presents a passage on the modesty of Ruth who, unlike the other harvesters, refused to stoop or bend over to glean the sheaves, but either sat on the ground or stood for fear that her bare legs might be seen. But here two young Moabite women are distinguished for their covenantal kindness toward their Is- raelite husbands, now dead, and their grief-ravaged mother-in-law.
Lilli carati vieni avanti cretino torrent In this latter role, he and his servants winnow the synagogue of the Jews where the barley of the law had been gathered, separating kernels of true nour- ishment from worthless chaff. Instead, she was received with gratitude and the most profound respect. Visit web page creates a world with the force of her tongue, and the reader is left to wonder how the misnomer she uses will enter reality. In her essay, she sketches a history of the medium, looking in particular at the ways in which the source of Ruth has been visualized. Will a time come in which either of these two young women will indeed be rightfully called yebamah? If that is so, it must not be because it turns us away from concern for the public sphere, enclosing each of us in our own little domestic world. Nonetheless, a surprisingly large amount of space in Ruth Rabbah is devoted to a theme that seems to me to challenge, if not subvert, that harmonious reading.
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