Course Points

THE MYTH OF THE GOLEM OR THE FEAR OF THE HUMAN DEMIURGE

GolThe Golem is a creature of religious origin which today belongs to the collective Western Subconscious. This myth, with originated from Jewish mysticism, designates a manlike animate creature, composed of inanimate matter, most usually mud or clay. The world golem derived from the ancient Hebrew word gelem, which means “raw material" or "Materia Prima”. In the sacred textsit the word had many nearly related meanings. It first occured in the Psalms of David, with the meaning of shapeless form. In the Kabala, it designates inchoate matter, matter without any definite form. 

 As in the Talmud the golem is a previous state of Adam, the greatest of God's creatures, the creator of a Golem in fact imitates God's power to create life. That is why, in the medieval Jewish imagination, the latter was considered to be a very holy and wise person, having taken on something of God’s power.Tales about the Golem are legion. In medieval narratives, the Golem was most often created by a prominent rabbi, in order to become his servant. He was animated by the means of a magical inscription, with either one of the names of God written on its body, or a sacred incantation on a parchment rolled up and placed in its mouth. The word Emet, which means "truth" in Hebrew and which is one of the names of God, was often employed, being written on its forehead. The Golem could be deactivated by erasing the first letter of the word Emet, leaving the word Met, which simply meant “Dead”.

The most famous Golem story concerns the Golem created in Prague by Rabbi Yehuda Loew, the Maharal of Prague, in the 16th century. In one version of the legend, Rabbi Loew created the golem to protect the Jewish community from blood libel and harmful pogroms. It is said that the deactivated body of the Golem is still hidden in the attic of the Old synagogue, and miraculously escaped the destructions of the Second World War.   

Read more: THE MYTH OF THE GOLEM OR THE FEAR OF THE HUMAN DEMIURGE

The emergence of new religions in Japan (or to what extent do religions in Japan coexist) ?

Jap 1In contradistinction to many European countries, and to some other areas of the West, where we see relatively high levels of at least nominal religious affiliation, coupled with low levels of participation in religious rites, religion in Japan is characterized by almost universal participation in certain rites and customs, but low levels of self-acknowledged affiliation to any religious group. It is today commonplace to observe that the Japanese are born Shintô, marry as Christians, and die Buddhists. Nearly 90% of the Japanese observe the custom of annual visits to ancestral graves, and 75% have either a Buddhist or Shintô altar in their home. However, only 30% of the population identify themselves as belonging to one of the religions currently active in Japan, despite the fact that these religions themselves claim an overall total membership of nearly twice the actual population of 126 millions.

Read more: The emergence of new religions in Japan (or to what extent do religions in Japan coexist) ?

Dossier (6): Questions d’actualité : Rites d’Antiquité, rites contestés (la Circoncision)

 Circon 2This Course Point is adapted from Jean-Marc Chouraqui’s (Institut Interuniversitaire d’Etudes et de Culture Juives) class on circumcision, its history, its meanings and the issues related to its practice in Judaism. It provides a case study on multicultural public policies.

Ce texte est issu du séminaire de Jean-Marc Chouraqui dans le cadre de l’Institut Interuniversitaire d’Etudes et de Culture Juives durant les mois de novembre et décembre 2012. Il est ici retranscrit à partir d’un enregistrement et adapté avec son aimable accord.

Introduction

Ce qui a inspiré ce séminaire, ce sont deux faits d’actualité. D’une part, l’année dernière, durant la campagne électorale, M. Fillon, Premier ministre à l’époque, avait tenu des propos qui avaient fait plus que débat, en disant que les religions antiques, anciennes, devaient peut-être penser à se moderniser, par rapport aux rites alimentaires. D’autre part, comme vous le savez, en Allemagne, un tribunal, en appel, a interdit la pratique de la circoncision, suite à un accident qui avait touché un jeune musulman, qui avait été blessé.

Read more: Dossier (6): Questions d’actualité : Rites d’Antiquité, rites contestés (la Circoncision)

Should the Politicos be telling us how to teach History?

If we tell the truth about the past, then we shall be capable of telling the truth about the present” - Statement by Ken LOACH at the Cannes Film Festival during the presentation of his film “The wind that shakes the Barley”, based on the Irish war of Independence.

Is there any such a thing as “magical” causality, as Carl GUSTAV JUNG once hinted? In any case, something of the sort seems to me to be applicable to two apparently unrelated events: the French no vote at the European referendum and the debate concerning the “Lois mémorielles” (recent acts of France’s Parliament regulating historical commemoration).

Read more: Should the Politicos be telling us how to teach History?

Les Grandes Questions Juives

liens_logo-iecjSéminaire de Monsieur Jean-Marc Chouraqui, Professeur à l'Université de la Méditerranée.

Synthèse

Les grandes questions juives:

L'idée du questionnement est au coeur de l'identité juive. L'importance de la capacité à se poser des questions chez les Juifs peut se comprendre,selon leur tradition, par le fait que les Hébreux seraient un peuple sorti de l'esclavage d'après le récit biblique. Par conséquent, une fois libres, ils auraient le devoir de se poser des questions car la liberté est la capacité de s'exprimer, de poser et de se poser des questions.De nombreux textes de la tradition étayent ce point.
M. Chouraqui aborde trois grandes questions au cours de ses séminaires:

Peuple élu, peuple d'élite?
Terre Promise, Terre permise?
Attendre le messie, est-ce une question juive?

Nous avons assisté aux trois premières séances relatives à la notion souvent source de malentendus de Peuple élu .
Cette notion pose question comme deux autres induites par le concept de monothéisme.

Read more: Les Grandes Questions Juives