Well, hello there. My name is David Fass, and I am an occasional Wikipedia contributor. When I am not busy making Wikipedia articles, I spend my time trying to be the best postdoc that I can possibly be. My long term goals are to have a job.
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Other Interesting Facts About Me
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Jewish Encyclopedia Articles
I am adding a bunch of articles from the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia, now in the public domain. Although I occasionally ask myself whether this is worthwhile (since they are already online at Jewish Encyclopedia), I can make the following arguments in favor of this activity:
- It's fun.
- I'm learning a lot, and my estimation of classical and modern Jewish scholarship has already increased about a thousand-fold.
- It is possible to cross-link articles much more thoroughly (e.g., to people, countries, events, institutions, etc.) in Wikipedia than in any other online venue.
- There is the hope that articles which need updating will eventually be updated, as more people read them. Presumably, the articles at Jewish Encyclopedia will be forever frozen in their 1906 glory. (But they are indeed glorious, many of them.)
- Wikipedia has vastly better search capability than does the online Jewish Encyclopedia. I figure if it takes me 15 minutes to find an article in Jewish Encyclopedia (and I've been doing this regularly!), then for all intents and purposes that article cannot yet be said to exist online, so by adding it to Wikipedia I am really giving it its first online life.
- The Jewish Encyclopedia is for some reason situated on a very fragile server, and it is often found to be inaccessible. By contrast, downtime on Wikipedia is infrequent and generally limited to the early-morning hours (say, 1am–5am ET), as far as I can discern.
- Wikipedians will add many Redirects to the article using variant spellings of Hebrew names and Hebrew book titles. This will dramatically increase the article's accessibility. The Jewish Encyclopedia uses a scholarly transliteration style with spellings that no-one would ever guess, using accented letters (like ḥ and ṭ) that are essentially untypable and unsearchable.
- Wikipedia articles can employ Hebrew text which is machine searchable, thus making these Hebrew terms visible to Google search, for example.
- Lastly, but not leastly, I need these articles for my Jewish Intellectual Timeline to link to. So there.
Having thus vindicated myself, I will now eat lunch and watch football.
Oy Yay Oy, my poor resurgent poor Eagles...
Although purported to have the same author as Ecclesiastes, the beliefs on afterlife are significantly different. Chapter II in particular seems to be in direct response to the futilism of Ecclesiastes: "For they (the ungodly, in KJV) said within themselves, reasoning not aright, Short and sorrowful is our life; And there is no remedy when a man cometh to his end" (Wis. 2:1). Compare this, for example, with Ecclesiastes 4:12, "For who knoweth what is good for man in this life, all the days of his vain life which he spendeth as a shadow? for who can tell a man what shall be after him under the sun." It is clear that if not a direct response to the text of Ecclesiastes, the Book of Wisdom is at least taking issue with the philosophy of uncertainty and despair that Koheleth appears to preach.
In its place, Book of Wisdom offers the much more traditional and pious philosophy that trust and fear of God provide the path to redemption, e.g., "But the righteous live for evermore; their reward also is with the Lord, and the care of them is with the most High" (Wis. 5:15). This is not the only such rejection of Koheleth's philosophy to be found in the Apocrypha. Ben Sira offers a direct rebuttal to the intellectualism of Koheleth's quest to "seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven" (Ecc. 1:13). Ben Sira writes "Seek not out the things that are too hard for thee, neither search the things that are above thy strength. But what is commanded thee, think upon with reverence; for it is not needful for thee to see with thine eyes the things that are in secret. Be not curious in unnecessary matters: for more things are shewed unto thee than men understand" (Ben Sirah 3:21-23). (See also Proverbs 3:5)