Sunday, November 25, 2012
One of my personally favorite foods is the banana.
A banana is inexpensive, nutritious (a good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin C, Potassium and Manganese, and a very good source of Vitamin B6), tastes good and comes in its own attractive, easily removed wrapper, which is biodegradable and environmentally friendly. It requires no cooking or seasoning.
Atheists will argue that actually the original, wild banana was not that perfect. The wild banana is just a few inches long and consists of 80% edible pulp and 20% seeds while our bananas, thanks to thousands of years of selective breeding, consist of about 96% pulp and 4% seeds.
This echos the argument made nearly 2,000 years ago by the governor of Judaea Quintus Tineius Rufus to Rabbi Akiva ben Joseph, at that time the elderly rabbi emeritus of the Jews, approximately in the year 130 CE.This conversation may have taken place while Rabbi Akiva was in prison, condemned to death by Tineius Rufus for the "crime" of teaching Torah. Apparently Tineius Rufus was interested in matching wits with the condemned prisoner, perhaps assuming that the Jewish scholar would be somewhat docile under the circumstances.
Midrash Tanchuma (Tazria, 5) recounts:
"Once the evil [Roman governor] Turnus Rufus asked Rabbi Akiva, 'Whose deeds are greater - God's or man's?' He replied, 'Man's deeds are greater.' Turnus Rufus asked him, 'Is man then capable of creating heaven and earth, or anything like them?' Rabbi Akiva replied, 'I was not referring to the sphere beyond man's ability, over which he has no control. I refer to those creations of which man is capable.' He then asked, 'Why do you circumcise yourselves?' Rabbi Akiva replied, 'I knew that that was the point of your question, and therefore I answered in the first place that man's deeds are greater than God's.' Rabbi Akiva brought him grains of wheat and some bread, and said: 'These grains of wheat are God's handiwork, and the bread is the handiwork of man. Is the latter not greater than the former?' Turnus Rufus answered him, 'If God wanted you to perform circumcision, why did He not create the child already circumcised while still in the womb?' Rabbi Akiva answered, 'Why do you not ask the same question concerning the umbilical cord, which remains attached to him and which his mother must cut? In response to your question - the reason why he does not emerge already circumcised is because God gave Israel the commandments in order that they would be purified by performing them. Therefore David wrote, 'Every word of God is pure (or, purified).'"
In any case, we see that in many cases God has allowed man to put the finishing touches on a divine masterpiece, and the same is true of the banana.
Let's take a moment and thank God for this gift.
Posted by jewish philosopher at 2:44 PM