The WFBC Interfaith Dialogues Class — where our faith meets others . . .

Rabbi Andrew Ettin returns to the Interfaith Dialogues Class this Sunday, March 29, to continue a discussion of spirituality and mysticism in Judaism. You are invited and welcome to join us at 9:45AM in 202 Wingate Hall, adjacent to Wait Chapel.

Andrew Vogel Ettin is the rabbi of Temple Israel in Salisbury since 1990, and is Professor Emeritus of English at Wake Forest University.  Before his recent retirement from teaching, Dr. Ettin was a professor at Cornell University, and served on the Wake Forest University faculty for thirty-six years.

In addition to his responsibilities in the English Department at Wake Forest, he has taught courses on rabbinic and contemporary Judaism, mysticism and spirituality in the School of Divinity and the Department of Religion. Dr. Ettin is an active participant in interfaith and political activities, and is also an experienced actor and singer, talents he has shared in a variety of community settings, including the Piedmont Opera.

An alumnus of Rutgers College (A.B.), Washington University (Ph.D.) and Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies (M.S.J.S.), Dr. Ettin was ordained as a rabbi by Aleph:  Alliance for Jewish Renewal. He has authored several books, including The Service of Beauty: Discovering Art and Ethics in Jewish Worship (BookSurge/Amazon), Literature and the Pastoral (Yale), Betrayals of the Body Politic: The Literary Commitments of Nadine Gordimer and Speaking Silences: Stillness and Voice in Modern Thought and Jewish Tradition (both published by University of Virginia Press), as well as numerous articles and reviews. He contributed a chapter entitled “That Troublesome Cousin” to Beatrice Bruteau’s 2001 book, Jesus through Jewish Eyes: Rabbis and Scholars Engage an Ancient Brother in a new Conversation.

In preparing for this Sunday’s class discussion, you will find helpful the following readings from Genesis, Exodus, Isaiah and Ezekiel:

Gen. 28

  1. And Jacob left Beersheba, and headed toward Haran.
  2. And he came to a certain place and stopped there for the night because the sun was going down; and he took from among the stones of that place to make his headrest, and lay down in that place.
  3. And he dreamed, and behold a ladder was set up on the ground, and the top of it reached to heaven; and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.
  4. And, behold, the Boundless God stood above it, and said, I the Boundless am the god of Abraham your father and the god of Isaac; the land on which you are lying I will give to you and to your descendents.
  5. And your descendents shall be as the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and east and north and south; and in you and in your descendents shall all the families of the earth be blessed.
  6. And, behold, I am with you, and will protect you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have fulfilled my promise to you.
  7. And Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, Surely the Boundless is in this place; and I did not know it.
  8. And he was afraid, and said, How awesome is this place! this is no other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.
  9. And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had placed for his headrest, and set it up as a monument, and poured oil upon its top.
  10. And he called that place Beth-El; but originally the name of that town was Luz.
  11. And Jacob made a vow, saying, If God will be with me and protect me on the way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and clothes to wear,
  12. and I return to my father’s house in peace; then shall the Boundless be my God;
  13. And this stone that I have set for a monument shall be God’s house; and of all that you shall give me I will surely give the tenth to you.

Exodus 3

  1. And Moses tended the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian; and he led the flock far away into the wilderness, and came to the mountain of God, to Horeb.
  2. And an angel of the Boundless appeared to him in a fiery flame from a bush; and he stared and, behold, the bush was flaming but not consumed.
  3. And Moses said, I will turn aside and see this remarkable sight, why the bush does not burn up.
  4. And when the Boundless saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from amid the bush, saying, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.
  5. And he said, Do not come any closer; take your shoes from your feet, for the place on which you stand is holy ground.
  6. And he said, I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.

Exodus 24

1. And he [God] said to Moses, Come up to the Boundless, you, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel; and worship from far away.

2. And Moses alone shall come near the Boundless; but they shall not come near; nor shall the people go up with him.

3. And Moses went and told the people all the words of the Boundless, and all the laws; and all the people answered with one voice and said, All that the Boundless has said, we we do.

4. And Moses wrote all the words of the Boundless, and rose up early in the morning, and built an altar under the hill, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel.

5. And he sent young men of the people of Israel, who offered burnt offerings, and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen to the Boundless.

6. And Moses took half of the blood, and put it in basins; and half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar.

7. And he took the Book of the Covenant, and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, All that the Boundless has said will we do and obey.

8. And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which the Boundless has made with you concerning all these words.

9. Then Moses, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel ascended;

10. And they saw the God of Israel; and under God’s feet a kind of paved work of a sapphire stone, even like the sky in clarity.

11. But not a hand was raised against the leaders of the people of Israel; they saw God, and ate and drank.

12. And the Boundless said to Moses, Come up to me into the mount, and be there; and I will give you tablets of stone, and the Torah and commandments which I have written; that you may teach them.

13. And Moses rose with his aide Joshua; and Moses went up into the mount of God.

14. And he said to the elders, Wait here for us, until we come again to you; and, behold, Aaron and Hur are with you; if anyone needs advice, go to them.

15. And Moses went up the mountain, and a cloud covered it.

16. And the glory of the Boundless dwelt upon Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days; and the seventh day [God] called to Moses from the midst of the cloud.

17. And in the eyes of the people of Israel, the sight of the glory of the Boundless was like a devouring fire on the top of the mount.

18. And Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and ascended the mountain; and Moses stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights.

Exodus 33

18. And he [Moses] said, I beg you, reveal to me your glory.

  1. And [God] replied, I will make all my goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim before you the name of the Boundless, being gracious to whom I will be gracious and merciful toward whom I will show mercy,
  2. but [God] said, You cannot see my face; for no person can see me and live.
  3. And the Boundless said, Behold, there is a place near me, and you shall stand upon a rock;
  4. And while my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft of the rock and shield you with my hand while I pass by;
  5. And I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back; but my face shall not be seen.

Exodus 34

28. And he was there with the Boundless forty days and forty nights; he did not eat bread nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tablets the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.

29. And when Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of Testimony in his hand, Moses was unaware that the skin of his face shone from talking with God.

30. And when Aaron and all the people of Israel saw Moses, his face radiant, they were afraid to come closer to him.

31. Yet Moses called to them; so Aaron and all the leaders of the assembly returned to him; and Moses talked to them.

32. And afterward all the people of Israel came near; and he gave them in commandment all that the Boundless had spoken with him in Mount Sinai.

33. And when Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil on his face.

34. But when Moses went in before the Boundless to speak with him, he took the veil off, until he came out. And he came out, and spoke to the people of Israel that which he was commanded.

35. And the people of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face shone; and Moses put the veil upon his face again, until he went in to speak with God

Isaiah 6

1. In the year that king Uzziah died I saw my Lord sitting on a tall exalted throne, and the train of His garment filled the temple.

  1. Above it stood the seraphim; each one with six wings; with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he would fly.
  2. And one would call to another, saying, Holy, holy, holy, is the Boundless Lord of hosts; the whole earth is filled by his glory.
  3. And the doorposts shook at the voice of the one who called out, and the house was filled with smoke.
  4. Then said I, Woe is me! I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell amid a people of unclean lips; but my eyes have seen the King, the Boundless Lord of hosts.
  5. Then one of the seraphim flew to me, in his hand a live coal that he had taken from the altar with tongs;
  6. And he put it to my mouth, and said, Behold, this has touched your lips; and your guilt is taken away, and your sin purged.
  7. Also I heard the voice of the Boundless, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.
  8. And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear, yes, hear, but do not understand, and see, indeed see, but do not perceive.

Ezekiel 1

1. It was in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I was among the exiles by the Kevar Canal, that the heavens opened and I saw visions of God.

  1. In the fifth day of the month, which was the fifth year of king Jehoiachin’s exile,
  2. The word of the Boundless came to Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans, by the Kevar Canal; and the hand of the Boundless was upon him there.
  3. And I looked, and, behold, a stormy wind came from the north, a great cloud, and a flaring fire, and a radiance around it, and from its midst a shining like amber, out of the midst of the fire.
  4. Also out of its midst came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance: they had the likeness of a human being.
  5. But every one had four faces, and every one had four wings.
  6. And their legs were single; and the sole of their feet was like the sole of a calf’s foot; and they sparkled like the color of burnished bronze.
  7. And they had the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides; and the four had their faces and their wings thus,
  8. Their wings were joined one to another; they did not turn when they moved; they each went straight forward in the direction of one face.
  9. As for the appearance of their faces, each of the four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side; and the four had the face of an ox on the left side; the four also had the face of an eagle.

. . . .

26. And above the firmament over their heads was the likeness of a throne, in appearance like lapis lazuli; and upon the likeness of the throne was a likeness of a human being.

  1. And I saw something like amber, enclosed with the semblance of surrounding fire, from what appeared to be his loins upward; and from what appeared to be his loins downward, I saw what appeared to be fire, and it had brightness around it.
  2. Like the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the surrounding brightness. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one speaking.

2:  1. And he said to me, Creature of the earth, get up on your feet and I will speak to you.