Mark 7:11

you say ‘If a person says to their father or mother “Whatever of mine might have been of service to you is Corban”’ (which means ‘Set apart for God’) –

random luck
warps thinking
toward greed
justifying same
validating vanity

playing Peter
against Paul
robs both
delays not
our comeuppance

cute strategies
fool none
cover deceit
break covenant
unintendeds guaranteed

false gifts
promise falsely
on-going relationship
uncaring care
mines saddness

Every system that ends in a rule set against another rule is easily subverted into war against the other. The more difficult task is to see what in this tension best fits this occasion and to adjust one or the other or both to be more merciful. This note from the JANT74 reminds us that every authority has a way within it to modify or evolve itself in light of changing conditions.

The controversy here involves both the determination of which part of Torah, honoring parents or keeping vows, supersedes the other, and also whether a vow can be repudiated. In the Mishnah (m. Ned. 9.1) there is a discussion of “opening the way” to repentance (i.e., of allowing one who has vowed something to be released from the vow if it leads to conflict with something more important). Corban, Heb (“korban”) for a gift to God. When something had been declared devoted to God, it was generally not permitted for the giver to take back the gift. Rabbinic tradition, as noted above, also allowed release from “korban” when it deprived parents of their due.

Here both sides appear locked into their battle stance and are not able to find a release from the grip of the other. It is as if they are joined at the hip in their self-definition by the picture drawn by the other. Repentance or mercy gets left in the dust when a battle royale captures our imagination and we look for a final victor between the written and oral religions and various cultural perspectives (primarily Greek and Roman here).

We have no idea about the frequency with which Corban was applied. Was it as widespread as its contemporary version of health care where money is promised to the Market and cannot be released to extend compassion to the elderly, widows, and children?

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