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Freedom in Hebrew refers to the absence of enslavement and subservience. The Torah gave us a formula for avoiding this kind of tyranny. It showed us that it is possible to remain free forever. If we follow the instructions of the Torah, we will never lose our freedom.
Keeping the Torah led to rebellions, idolatry, falling by the wayside
The Hebrew Bible warns against idolatry and other forms of worship. These include child sacrifice, the worship of the sun, moon and stars, and prostitution. Often, these practices were applied to all religions in biblical times. However, the ancient rabbis did not view the sun and moon as intrinsically unholy. Instead, they believed that the dust of idols could become fertilizer.
When Abraham rejected idolatry, he was regarded as the father of the Jewish nation. Many ancient kings of Israel also fell victim to the temptation of idolatrous practices during the Temple period.
Yahwism emerged from a coexistence of the ancient Canaanites and the early Jewish people. Later, Yahwism rejected the older Canaanite gods and became focused on YHWH.
In the end, though, it was the Israelites who kept the Torah. This is evident in the words of Jeremiah. He states that the Israelites followed the Torah because God had given it to them.
A verse in the book of Exodus states that the Israelites should not make foreign gods their god. The prophet also warned against national conceit. This is a type of fascism that seeks to homogenize society for economic efficiency and national greatness.
According to the rabbinic tradition, the primary commandment in Judaism is to reject foreign worship. It should not be understood as a prohibition against all non-Jewish worship. But, rather, it is a rejection of idolatry and other forms of foreign worship.
Idolatry refers to the worship of any object or person that is in addition to God. It includes the worship of celestial bodies, such as the sun, moon and stars, and inanimate objects such as the animal kingdom.
According to the Bible, the worship of Ba’al and other Canaanite gods was forbidden. Eventually, idolatry was viewed as a misguided form of worship and foreign gods were eliminated.
As the rabbinic tradition evolved, a new word was invented: freedom. Throughout the tractate of the Talmud, idolatry is dealt with. One talmudic rule is that if anyone encounters an idol, they should grind it to dust. Another talmudic rule is that all dealings with idol worshippers should be banned before festivals.
Absence of subservience
A look at Hebrew plays produced after the founding of the State of Israel will reveal a significant increase in the number of women on stage. Plays written before the State’s founding generally did not feature women, a rarity in Israeli drama. This lack of women in the limelight reflects changing social values in Israeli society.
The lack of female protagonists in Hebrew drama is a symptom of a larger problem. For one thing, male playwrights often created their characters based on their ability to empathize with women. Consequently, women’s characters were often silent subservient creatures.
Fortunately, some talented and savvy women have fought to break the shackles of gender and genre to produce works of art that speak to their experiences. Among the best are a handful of notable Hebrew playwrights. These include Sarah Barenblat, Leila Ben-David, and Issac Horowitz. Their efforts have had a profound impact on the Hebrew theater.
The most important accomplishment of these women was highlighting the significance of women in Hebrew literature. As such, their work is a keystone to achieving a more inclusive society. It is also worth noting that their achievements in the realm of literature are only part of the overall puzzle. Women have been integral to Jewish culture since the beginning of time, and their contributions have been more numerous than their number. Throughout the ages, women have played an active role in the sacrificial tradition, and in many cases, have been credited with a greater part of the credit for the development of Israeli culture.
There is much more to the world of Hebrew plays than simply putting women on stage. In addition to being the best known playwrights, the names of many lesser-known artists also have the honor of being the best known. Despite their lack of visibility, they have had a huge effect on the Hebrew theater. With the influx of talented female playwrights, it is now more than just a matter of time before female voices make it into the lexicon. So, next time you go to the theater, watch out for the female sex.
Absence of enslavement
The Hebrew Bible contains two sets of laws governing the treatment of slaves. One set is found in the Torah, while the other is found in the Shulchan Aruch.
While the Torah gives guidelines to slave owners, there is no explicit rule that all non-Jewish slaves are free. Nevertheless, many wealthy Jews have owned non-Jewish slaves, wherever slavery is recognized. In the Diaspora, some wealthy Jews have even own non-Jewish slaves in countries that do not recognize the Jewish religion.
Slavery was a fundamental part of life in the Roman Empire. A semi-industrialized North forced its laws on the agrarian South. However, the Jewish people did not become oppressors when they left Egypt.
The Hebrew Bible refers to Hebrew servants and handmaids, but does not mention the word “slave”. Handmaids were considered limited time servants. They were treated in legal and ethical bearings.
If a Hebrew is sold into service, he is bound for a period of six years. After the six-year period, he is free. He may renew the indenture for another six-year period.
Another biblical reference states that a person’s hands can be cut off for breaking a vessel. It may also be the case that a man who sells himself to pay for a theft is still a hired laborer.
In addition, an Israelite may redeem his slaves. An Israelite can redeem his own Hebrew, but not a non-Israelite.
As for non-Jewish slaves, the rules are similar to those imposed on the Hebrew. For example, a Canaanite slave is guaranteed a weekly day of rest. Non-Jewish slaves are not subject to ona’ah, a law that obligates slaves to be circumcised.
There is an incident in the First Temple period that is mentioned in the Bible. In this incident, a man named Eleazar was trusted to find a wife for Isaac. If Ishmael and Isaac had not been born, Eleazar would have been the heir to everything.
The Hebrew Bible has laws governing the treatment of Hebrew servants and handmaids. These laws are not intended to condemn the Jewish people. Instead, they are meant to guide them in their rightful place.