Arnold Williams (notebuyer) wrote,
Arnold Williams
notebuyer

The Omission

There it is, or isn't: in the first description of the job that humans are to do. We are to have dominion over " the fish, the fowl and over the cattle". Nowhere on that list does it say "other men". TO the literalist, who views this as something said in a story with only two human beings, this doesn't seem extraordinary, but for those of us who subscribe to the idea that the Bible was addressed by its author to us, its readers, that is not a limitation that can apply. Abraham Block summarized this by saying: "Any act which disregards the rights of other people constitutes an unlawful exercise of dominion."

What implications would that have for my behavior?

This thought courtesy of my latest book A Code of Jewish Ethics Vol 1, by a Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, which has proved a fascinating read, though it is not usually the kind of thing I pick up in the bookstore (see, friends recommendations DO count, and I mean you, Dennis!). My favorite quote so far: "When I was young I admired clever people. Now that I am older, I admire kind people." Connects to one of my favorite movies, Harvey with James Stewart, who, as a genial drunk, attempts to explain things to a young couple: "Years ago my mother used to say to me, she'd say, "In this world, Elwood, you must be" - she always called me Elwood - "In this world, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant." Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. And you may quote me."
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