Forgive us our trespasses – Vergeef ons ons skulde

Things can be very strange in life. As most priests and clerical or spiritual persons, I have to face recurrent societal problems. Let’s say that the Ten Commandments can systematically be broken down into two series so that the two Tablets could not match or be paralleled. The order of the Commandments does not allow, according to the Jewish Tradition, to separated the divine from the moral or so-called human Commandments or rules. The proclamation of God’s unicity correpsonds to the other Tablet moral law not to kill any’one. It is difficult thus to clearly define what “unicity” of God can be announced, not heralded, but simply recognized and to determine whom should not be killed. Some have extended that to animals and this is one of the basic reasons why vegeterian rules have been in force since the early time of faith, also in Judaism and the first Christians. This is why monastics should never eat meat and satisfy their appetite with vegetables and herbs or fruits.

Morals or ethics vary and will definitely not resemble in the numerous lifestyles and countries, cultures, languages, understandings of our environments, resources, educational traditions and religious or atheistic and/or secular, if any comprehensiveness of human beings.

Two days ago the first Israeli daily “Haaretz” told about the decision of a small ultra-orthodox Jewish group to lash 39 times (compare with what Saint Paul was condemned to the same way) a young singer who had returned to the faith but “had dared” sing for a mixed group of men and women in the same hall. This is strictly forbidden by the Orthodox Jewish tradition as this separation is marked in the very Orthodox Jewish synagogues. The same week, an Iranian 40 year-old woman who had bee nconvinced of adultery was condemned by the Islamic court to be stoned to death. Both sentences are on hold for the moment, but both cope with specific regulations that other parts of humankind cannot accept and would strongly banish.

Three days ago, we discovered in Israel that we had a young 14 year-old rabbi. Is it “kosher” or illegal according to the Talmud and the Jewish tradition. No, because the young boy is an “adult” being over 13 years-old of age and thus a “bar-mitzvah”; he is considered as able to distinguish between good and evil and to direct his life. Prophet Daniel was of this age when he wisely confounded the men that accused Suzannah to be a harlot! On the other hand, some rabbis are unexpectedly imprisoned for child paedophilic abuse though they are men of faith and renown for their spiritual influence. By the same time, retired Cardinal Godefried Danneels of Brussels is accused of having tried to cover the misdeeds of the archbishop of Brugge who had for years abused little boys and his own nephew. I would never have thought, knowing Cardinal Danneels, that the old man would behave like that. It is possible to think that he got frightened as the Belgian society is by all these paedophilic shameful crimes that terribly darkens the image of Belgium and now its clergy as it is the case in Ireland, Austria. On Saturday, a former Lutheran bishop in Icelandic was convicted of adultery with many women of his diocese who had worked with him.

How can we evaluate the attitude of South Affrican President Zuma and his many wives and dancing at his last mariage? In other republics, the president can be revoked because of such misdeeds, as it happened with past President Katzav of Israel. Both Pres. Kennedy and Clinton were badly judged for their sexual behaviors.

It may be considered as bizarre in a country where multi-cultural attitudes and traditions try to intertwin in a context of general hatred and reconciliation, murder and capacity to accept the others. And as in Israel or multi-faceted areas, South Africa gathers together people who would never respect each other. Even faith and God-fearing education cannot oblige individuals and collectivity to melt into one pot… But this is the only country in modern times that accepted almost twenty years ago to go on a process of “Truth and Reconciliation”.

Sex is everywhere. The word is curiously segregative in its Latin and Greek roots “sexus = sectus = cut, separate” whilst sex is considered as promoting the union of the bodies! In Hebrew, the word does not exist and it sounds ridiculous to “make sex, have sex = la’assot seks”. On the other hand, the word “min” tracks back to the origin (“min = out of [what]), to the object of life “mah = what” and the full personality “mi[n] = who, whom”. Sex leads ot life, abuse and rape or distrust are thus considered as crimes against the soul and the body. Because acts of pleasures are pleasing and should unite what is divided for the sake of love, we should get more and more aware of the tenderness of human nature and her longing to respect.

We may often give the impression that humans are bestial, gregariously basic and narrow-minded. Jesus pronounced the Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) and the Aramaic version has retained the ancient style of the Semitic tradition: “Forgive us our trespasses and release our debts (shwoq lan lechatayn wachaybayn) as we have forgiven [past in Greek, we have already forgiven] those who trespassed by debts against us (ayqana d’shwoqan lachaybayn)! The Aramaic version induces both a moral (trespass/chatayn) and financial (debts/chaybayn) responsibilities. Ethics are rarely reconciled at that level: we are financially and spiritually responsible for our acts.

This shows the immense value of our days.

av aleksandr (in my South African blog “Cradle of the World/Wieg van die Wêreld, “”

August 30/19, 2010 – 20 Ellul 5770 – 20 RamaDHaan 1431

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