just sit right down and you’ll hear a tale…the tale of some shipwrecked jews? was it a gilligan’s island scenario?
one of the first syndicated television show was gilligan’s island and is part of american culture. generations of kids, at a time when there was only network tv, consumed countless hours of the show along with the brady bunch and i love lucy.
the show was absurd. castaways lost on an island. all they went for was a three hour tour…a three hour tour. the seven people on the boat, the skipper, gilligan, the professor, the movie star, and millionaire and his wife and maryann, made the best of what they had.
shipwrecks, ironically played a role in the establishment of at least two jewish communities. there is the legend of the seven lemba men whose ship broke in half and stranded them on the african coast. likewise, there were the seven couples who were shipwrecked off of an indian coast.
fleeing the greek occupation of judea approximately 2200, years ago, the bnei israel of india shipwrecked. there were lives lost and religous texts. a community without a torah. they made their best efforts to maintain their religion in india. they reportedly observed the sabbath, kept kosher and practiced circumcision. they flourished. most of them eventually immigrated to the modern state of israel.
history tells that after a period in which they did not have access to jewish texts, they re-connected with the outside jewish community and they were able to bring in texts and update their religious practice.
during this period of the lack of texts, was there ten commandments awareness? one would believe that orally that the ten commandments could be passed on from generation to generation. those who write about religious observance often do not touch on the issue of ten commandments’ awareness in the community.
when looking at the practices they maintained, there are some things that become obvious. the fact that it was couples who had arrived, there was a likelihood that within the group, there were individuals with expertise in maintaining a kosher home. this practices could easily be passed down from to children who most likely assisted in the preparation and cooking of food. further, circumcision, at the time of the greek occupation of judea, was something likely practiced. since circumcision only happened once in a while, the birth of a male child, such a practice would not be so demanding. further, around the time of the jewish-greek revolt, texts evidenced that circumcision was a known practice. the last ritual maintained was the sabbath.
why did they keep the sabbath? was it because the master of the universe created the world in six days and rested on the seventh? was their sabbath observance connected to some part of the torah? if so, was it the fact that sabbath observance was one of the ten commandments?
if the basis for sabbath observance was the ten commandments, were the the ten commandments well known within the community?
in sum, there is a mystery as to how much of the torah can be transmitted from generation to generation without having one. this issue is not as much of predicament in modern times. smaller jewish communities throughout the world as known and there are efforts to provide them religious texts. some have even been provided torahs. likewise, the internet can serve to provide ample amounts of information to communities in need. finally, there is some strange connection to shipwrecks and the number 7. this too is a mystery of some sort.
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