Do you agree that “there’s nothing new under the sun”? In Walden, Thoreau “went to the woods to front only the essential facts of life.” Thousands of years earlier, King Solomon asked, “What is the purpose of the human being?” in Ecclesiastes, which is annually chanted in Hebrew on the Jewish holiday of Sukkot.
Walden and Ecclesiastes are both records of experiments, in which each author tries to get to the bottom of the human condition and all its contradictions. In the course of these experiments they discuss shelter; economy; trust; nature; society; friendship; politics; agriculture; the weather; justice; suffering, satisfaction; pleasure; aging; food; the sun; simplicity; and joy.
In both cases, the questions and experiments ultimately lead to the “enigmas” of Time, Death, and God. Intriguingly, Walden starts with the first half of a verse from Ecclesiastes and ends with the other half of the same verse.
This talk will examine Walden and Ecclesiastes to discover what they teach about finding the joy in impermanence. What is wisdom? What makes life meaningful? Why is “vapor” a better translation from the Hebrew than “vanity”? Was King Solomon a Transcendentalist? Did Thoreau plagiarize the Bible? Was the famous cabin at Walden Pond really a sukkah?
Free and open to the public.
Please RSVP to rosalie (at) keremshalom (dot) org
- More Cerulean Than the Sky Itself (thoreaussukkah.wordpress.com)
- 9/11 at Walden Pond
- Do you keep a journal? (thoreaussukkah.wordpress.com)
- Sensual Walden Pond (thoreaussukkah.wordpress.com)