Wednesday, November 28, 2007

More on Lavan

On the other mailing list, four interpretations of Lavan's apparent ignoring of God's command to leave Yaakov alone, emerged:

  • I: Never underestimate the human will to be stupid and worship AZ in the teeth of the evidence.
  • II: Hashem was only first among equals, so the message was only one factor in Lavan's actions.
  • III: Anthropological: terafim were symbols of household power, so keep them with the major family unit.
  • IV: Magickal: fortune-telling talking head would give away their position.
On yet another mailing list, the following uncensored comment of Efodi to Maimonides' Guide 2:46 was mentioned (from the Sabbioneta 1553 edition of the Guide, courtesy of Jewish National University Library):

In it, Efodi maintains that Maimonides' theory of visionary experiences extends also to major events, such as the Akeidah and Jonah in the Whale.

The difficulty with Lavan was raised because, how could he ignore the power of God's message? Avraham Avinu didn't ignore it at the Akeidah. But if the Akeidah was visionary, then there has to be another factor at play besides simple power of the message. I suggest that Avraham did what he did because he was attuned to God. Lavan, however, was a polytheist. Whether he recognized God's message or not, it was either not important to him (I), or only one factor to be counted in the theological equation (II) of figuring out what to do.

If the [non-Mosaic] revelation to Lavan was visionary, he could easily discount it, since he wasn't attuned to God-talk. This might be a fifth reading, or a support to the first two.

2 comments:

Ha-historion said...

Interesting observations.

micha said...

Ummm.... Jon, the idea was that Avodah is in the public eye, and therefore citing it shouldn't betray public trust. It's only Areivim where people might say things not expecting them to get around.

But I was impressed with the first half of this entry when it appeared there. Good summation.

But I still don't get this 5th reading you mention in the last paragraph.

-micha