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A Story of Salvation from Forks and Maps - jonahrank
A Story of Salvation from Forks and Maps
For a long time, I have wanted to blog about some of the Jewish teachings I like that I have come across in my studies: whether it be the studies I conduct on my own, or when I study with friends.

There is more truth in the world than I will ever know, but I would like to share the few and brief truths that I do learn.

I don't know how often I can show my findings here, but I'd like to do so whenever I have something worthwhile to share.

In Massekhet Sotah (מסכת סוטה) of the Babylonian Talmud (תלמוד בבלי) Page 21 Side A (כא:א), there is a story of a man traveling insecurely:
משל לאדם שהיה מהלך באישון לילה ואפילה ומתיירא מן הקוצים ומן הפחתים ומן הברקנים ומחיה רעה ומן הליסטין ואינו יודע באיזה דרך מהלך
A story of a person who was walking during the slumber hours of night and darkness, and he was afraid of thorns, of pits, of thistles, of nasty wildlife, and of thieves, and he didn't which way he was going:

נזדמנה לו אבוקה של אור ניצל מן הקוצים ומן הפחתים ומן הברקנים ועדיין מתיירא מחיה רעה ומן הליסטין ואינו יודע באיזה דרך מהלך
A ray of light appeared for him, and he was saved from the thorns, from the pits, and from the thistles; however, he was still afraid of nasty wildlife and of thieves, and he didn't know which way he was going!

כיון שעלה עמוד השחר ניצל מחיה רעה ומן הלסטין ועדיין אינו יודע באיזה דרך מהלך
When dawn came, he was saved from nasty wildlife and from thieves; however, he didn't know which way he was going!

הגיע לפרשת דרכים ניצל מכולם
He arrived at a parashat derakhim, and he was saved from everything!
The question that the medieval commentator Rashi (רש"י), the Talmud, my study partner Gabe Seed and I all had in common next was this: what does parashat derakhim mean?

Gabe's immediate thought was that parashat derakhim should be translated as "the splitting of the paths," or "crossroads," or "a fork in the road."

But, the root of the word parashat (פרש) can mean, aside from "separation" or "splitting," "explanation." So, I read this differently and said that parashat derakhim meant "an explanation of the paths" or "a map."

Rashi and the Talmud do not have a clear answer to the question, but they entertain multiple answers, each having to do with either observing or studying Torah: truth.

In short, the Talmud here teaches that we can find all sorts of benefits in nature to ease our worries about the physical world. But, when it comes down to finding direction in the world, we can only save ourselves by approaching the fork in the road, or by approaching the map. When we do not know where we are, our only answer is either a question or an answer.

Will we save ourselves by asking questions, or will we save ourselves by finding answers?

I say that we must do both.
4 comments or Leave a comment
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 25th, 2011 07:41 am (UTC) (Link)
תודה על שהקדשת מזמנך כדי הדיון הזה , אני מרגיש מאוד על כך אוהב ללמוד עוד על הנושא הזה . אם אפשרי , כפי שאתה לצבור ניסיון , יהיה לך מחשבות עדכון הבלוג שלך עם מידע נוסף ? זה יכול להיות שימושי מאוד עבורי.
jonahrank From: jonahrank Date: August 31st, 2011 10:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
רב תודות... רוב עדכוני בלוג שלי עכשיו הם מתרחשים ב
From: (Anonymous) Date: September 22nd, 2011 08:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
פייַן אינפֿאָרמאַציע,) דאַנק פֿאַר דיין צייַט ...;)
jonahrank From: jonahrank Date: September 22nd, 2011 08:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
No problem!
4 comments or Leave a comment