from Sinai,and passed it on to Joshua;
and Joshua to the elders,
and the elders to the prophets;
and the prophets passed it on to
men of the Great Assembly.
Discussion Guide [1:1].
The stories we tell about our own past and the past of people we identify with helps us to define
who we are, and give meaning to our lives.
What stories has your family told about the past around the dinner table?
What stories about your own past would you tell to others who would want to understand who you really are?
Philosopher Karl Popper used to say: "If we only knew what Adam knew, we would not be able to get
further than Adam did."
How much do we rely on past science and technology?
How much do we rely on past social innovation, such as on law and representative democracy?
How much do we on spiritual and ethical insights from past prophets and sages?
Within Judaism today some say Jews have to keep all the traditional Jewish law—halacha.
We can add rulings concerning modern conditions, but change no past ruling (Orthodox).
Some say that it is for each individual to choose what rituals are personally meaningful,
while all should accept ethical principles (Reform). Others say that we can change past halacha
to meet modern conditions, but only with agreement by community leaders (Conservative), or
agreement within each synagogue (Reconstructionist).
Under what conditions should a tradition be changed?
Who should make the changes, and how?