What the Bible Means When It Speaks of Worshipping God

Both philosophers of religion and laypeople tend to assume that prayer is a uniform activity across faiths, cultures, and denominations—even if the content, addressee, and external forms vary. But Avital Hazony Levi, by rejecting this assumption, comes to a novel approach to understanding Jewish worship and the specific activity of bowing or prostration before God:

Religions vary greatly in their conceptions of God, of man, and of the relationship between the two. By trying to define a universal archetype of worship, philosophers unwittingly overlook notions of worship that are different from their own. [Moreover], the philosophical discussion of worship has mostly focused on an individual’s attitude or emotion, thereby portraying worship as part of a one-on-one relationship between man and God that transcends a person’s other human relationships. In contrast, the Hebrew Bible’s notion of worship as bowing down, kneeling, or prostrating oneself in service of God shapes a person to carry out God’s will of bringing justice and charity to human relations.

Just as we cannot know God without referencing human experience, we also cannot learn how to relate to God without reference to human relationships. This explains why in the Hebrew Bible all verbs that direct us in our relationship with God are taken from the realm of human experience and especially from human relationships. . . . The King James Bible uses “worship” to translate the ritualized action of bowing down (hishtaḥavah) [only] when the text is referring to bowing before God, and uses “bow” to translate the very same Hebrew term when referring to bowing before a human being.

Thus worship in the biblical view is not a unique phenomenon that occurs [solely] between humans and God. . . . [It] is a term taken from the political realm of masters and servants because, like human kings, God needs servants who will accept His rule and utilize their knowledge, power, and initiative in achieving His goals.

Read more at Religious Studies

More about: Hebrew Bible, Judaism, Prayer, Religion

Universities Are in Thrall to a Constituency That Sees Israel as an Affront to Its Identity

Commenting on the hearings of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce on Tuesday about anti-Semitism on college campuses, and the dismaying testimony of three university presidents, Jonah Goldberg writes:

If some retrograde poltroon called for lynching black people or, heck, if they simply used the wrong adjective to describe black people, the all-seeing panopticon would spot it and deploy whatever resources were required to deal with the problem. If the spark of intolerance flickered even for a moment and offended the transgendered, the Muslim, the neurodivergent, or whomever, the fire-suppression systems would rain down the retardant foams of justice and enlightenment. But calls for liquidating the Jews? Those reside outside the sensory spectrum of the system.

It’s ironic that the term colorblind is “problematic” for these institutions such that the monitoring systems will spot any hint of it, in or out of the classroom (or admissions!). But actual intolerance for Jews is lathered with a kind of stealth paint that renders the same systems Jew-blind.

I can understand the predicament. The receptors on the Islamophobia sensors have been set to 11 for so long, a constituency has built up around it. This constituency—which is multi-ethnic, non-denominational, and well entrenched among students, administrators, and faculty alike—sees Israel and the non-Israeli Jews who tolerate its existence as an affront to their worldview and Muslim “identity.” . . . Blaming the Jews for all manner of evils, including the shortcomings of the people who scapegoat Jews, is protected because, at minimum, it’s a “personal truth,” and for some just the plain truth. But taking offense at such things is evidence of a mulish inability to understand the “context.”

Shocking as all that is, Goldberg goes on to argue, the anti-Semitism is merely a “symptom” of the insidious ideology that has taken over much of the universities as well as an important segment of the hard left. And Jews make the easiest targets.

Read more at Dispatch

More about: Anti-Semitism, Israel on campus, University