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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Sky's the limit?

Technology is apocalyptic.

This is a snag torah remix. I can't even find the original anymore, nor where I stole it from. All I have is the piece I sampled around a year ago, when I was thinking about the tower of Babel, and here it is, mixed into depth.

Rav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld explains that the fact that, for the builders of the tower of Babel, the fact that they were using bricks was a tremendous thing in itself. It signified a great technological breakthrough; for the first time ever, people could create their own building materials if none were available.

This led to a general feeling of power and control over their own fate.

The Dor Haflaga (generation of the Tower) were so carried away in this power trip
that they believed they were able to do anything,
including defeating Hashem. Nitzchuni Banai!

Rav Sonnenfeld adds to his point by noting that the second Pasuk in the Perek states that the Dor Haflaga
lived in “a valley in the land of Shinar.”

It seems that if they wanted to build a tower as high as possible
they would have started from a very tall place.

they felt that they should start from a low place in order to accomplish their feat entirely on their own,
without any help.

Had they built on a mountaintop,
they would have been utilizing a “contribution” of height from Hashem
who created the mountain.

Once they had developed such overconfidence, they became wholly dedicated to their cause.

The Brisker Rav notes the extent to which the people became carried away by pointing to the Rashi’s comment that

when the languages were confused
the people still tried to continue building.

However, their confusion led to frustration and eventually murder. The Brisker Rav says that the reason for this is the inherent nature of man’s evil.

Once one has resolved to sin,
nothing will deter him even when his original means fail.

Thus, those involved in the construction
were so set on the completion of their project
that they did not think about abandoning it.

Instead, they acted irrationally and started to kill each other.

(Rabbeinu Heshy Shnitzler once was giving over something very deep, that is already known in the world.
"Why be consistent? Play by different rules, understand and relate to things different all the time. Loose like the Reed, and you can't be knocked down."

This is the level of the criminal Messiah David as opposed to Joseph, the Messiah of consistency and principle, of capital and control. Joseph's investment in grainaries echoes the building of the Tower of Babel, as does the building of bricks echo the harshest demand put on the Hebrew slaves, that they build their own bricks, and do it twice as quick.)

In addition,
even the murders themselves did not halt their work,
and Hashem had to disperse everyone.

(This is a reference to the only tradition we have to justify G-d's smashing of the Tower of Babel.
That the builders valued bricks above humans,
so much so
that if a brick fell,
people would be terribly distressed,
but people fall all the time, fuck 'em, we've got more.)

This episode shows the spiritual depths to which a person can sink once his mind is made up to sin
and the lack of thought and consideration that is possible when one sins.

This point is also made by R’ Yehonatan Eibeschutz, who asks

how it is possible that these people thought they could reach the heavens?

He answers that

the people expected to build a tower high enough to pass the Earth’s gravity,
making them weightless
and allowing them to fly up
to confront Hashem.

It is amazing that they did not bother to consider important things like the time and effort required to make such a tower, the possibility that they would not be able to survive in space,
or the impossibility involved in defeating an all-powerful being.

The lack of forethought demonstrates that they were so set on rebellion
that they did not consider the outcome.
Similarly, any action that we do can have unexpected consequences.

R Yonasan Eibshutz is not sorry for trying, or hoping. Just try not to be offended by the unexpected?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your openess and courage are an inspiration.

I too am fascinated by shamanic references in Torah. I highly recommend Clark Heinrich's 'Strange Fruit'.

A republished and much cheaper version is 'Magic Mushrooms in Religion and Alchemy'. it contains the same information.

Heinrich gives his insights into the Exodus Story, and The Red Serpents Attacking the Children of Israel in the Desert.

I know it's not directly related to this blog entry, but I am posting it here hoping you won't miss it.

You had asked earlier for shamanic references so here you go. No, it's not Gemara, or even Aggadah.

If you are familiar with Amanita Muscaria so much the better. It grows abundantly here (Rocky Mountains) as well as throughout the world.

I also beleive that the Kykeon 'plant' cited in Yonah is the very same Kykeon beverage served up as an inebrient at the Temple in Eleusius (Ref: 'The Road to Eluesius').

I have never heard of anyone stating this or researching this, but the connection is compelling.

The light just went on for me over Hi Ho's this year, but forays investigating this have yielded nothing. The odd spelling with two Qophs is remarkable and unusual in itself. Perhaps you have methods of further inquiry?

May Hashem blessings your endeavors with abundant koach.

2:44 AM

Anonymous Devin said...

And....the modern version!
not that it's in the works or anything, but people are still thinking about it

3:54 AM

Blogger Yoseph Leib said...

The kikayon thing is interesting, isn't it? I've heard that before, what is Kikayon? Most scholars say Henbane, right? not the most romantic plant, more of a deliriant that a psychedelic, rather harsh and negatively associated.

The two qoofs, i'm glad you brought that up. qouf is the letter for adar, meaning both "monkey" and the back of the head. What does it all mean?

Does anyone identify the kikayon with any other plant? acacia might be interesting. there's a fair amount of tehillim and other places talking about the atzei shittim accacia, who's leaves are jammed packed with dMT, though it's not clear to Us anymore how to maybe extract it.

5:49 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kikayon is the Greek name for the inebreating beverage served in a gourd cup at the Eluesian Temple continuousy for about two thousand years until the temple's destruction at the hands of the Crusaders around 400CE. Yonah was probably written about 400BCE so the timeline is consistent. The Elysian Rite was a pilgramage undertaken at least once by many learned men of the times. After drinking the beverage a ritual descent into the underworld was taken with full theatre. The actual beverage recipe was a fiercely guarded secret. Although, it was probably ergot fungus (claviseps paspilli)from wild grass, or cultivated grain (read LSD). You are correct that henbane, and it's variants are principally deleriants, and not much fun recreationally. Too much dimensional distortion, and severe consequences for ODing - like having your internal organs shut down one by one. Although, the midwives would have used it for their art.
It is unlikey that castor bean was the plant in question either. Aside from it being big and shady, and somewhat toxic. When G-d chastises Yonah it is specifically for finding comfort for one day in something that shrivels and is gone. It seems likely to me that the story is speaking polemically of the folly in seeking Divine Presence in drug trips like the Elusian Mystery.
Acacia: Yes. Some variants are chock-full of DMT, and yes people do indeed extract it. It's not even that hard to do. It can't be ruled out. Much of the ancient pharmacopia is completely lost, but I do believe there are still hints in the texts. Rabbis are loathe to comment on these passages, and I don't blame them one bit.
The double Qouf may have just been a convenient way of NOT associating the unusual word with anything else in the lexicon.
I have never heard anyone publicly make this connection between Yonah and Eluesius, but I bet our ancestors did.

6:01 AM


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