Sunday, April 25, 2010

Jewish Texts They "Forgot" to Teach

As blogger Frum Satire pointed out, our teachers in Jewish day schools / yeshivot avoided translating any references to sex as they came up in classical Jewish texts. Why curricular decisions were made to teach chapters of tractate Kiddushin with numerous references to bi'ah shelo k'darka -- most likely anal sex, to teens in the first place, is add. But then giving them teachers who wouldn't utter the word "sex" and may not have even known the word "anal" is beyond me.

In addition to mistranslated or untranslated texts, were classical texts that never fell within the curriculum. Having been through middle school, elementary school, and post high school day schools and yeshivot, all the way through semicha / ordination, I have a pretty good sense of the texts that weren't covered. And some pretty good guesses as to why they weren't.

In the weeks ahead, this blog will share some of the more interesting texts, sometimes in their entirety, sometimes just excerpts. Why put these in one place?

They are "Torah," part of our tradition. As much as any other Jewish texts, they tell a part of the narrative of a nation - the Jewish people - in dialogues that attempts to figure out what life is about and what God wants from us.

They show points of view that are often absent from the texts that are included in most curricula: diversity of beliefs, viewpoints that were lost when the community moved from Israel or Babylonia to Christian and Moslem countries, information and stories that are just plain interesting. As one friend put it, "Really? That's in there? If I knew that, I would have paid attention in Talmud class".

So, in the weeks ahead, dive in. And feel free to hit me with the untaught texts that you've discovered.