In last week’s episode, which this post is associated with, Terry and I discuss semiotics and rehash the basics of it from our individual perspectives. We both bring up semiotics from a philosophical and religious perspective, which is similar yet different from secular semiotics.
Terry maintains a more philosophical approach to integrating semiotics, whereas I lean to a Kabbalistic understanding of semiotics. I have discussed the concept of Jewish Semiotics in prior posts on YidBrik, The Vessel being the one of note that inspired this rehash.
In the episode, I share a midrash regarding Jacob and the stones. As promised, here is the link to excellent OU article where I based my portion of the conversation. The article is definitely a great read and even expands on the topic further. Where I find the essential connection, however, is specifically in regard to using semiotics to understand the text on a deeper level.
In the comfort of Len’s home back in the first week of June 2018, Len brought up the story of the parting of the sea. From a Christian perspective, most identify with the classic Heston approach to the Red Sea – massive walls on both sides. This does no justice to history, however. Through the use of semiotics, Len helped the cohort understand the sea of reeds in a different sense, which actually is the Jewish tradition of the event: Nachshon walking further into the waters that still ran until he was submerged, at which point the water gelatinized around the Hebrews while they walked through the water, with the Egyptians attempting the same and drowning instead.
Semiotics gives additional insight. Whether that’s Terrys Sod approach, the sages’ Remez approach, or my Remez-Derash approach, the consequence is the same: being faced with a deeper understanding of biblical narrative, one that is fuller and consequently much more Jewish.
Semiotics is by no means an easy task. It requires constant effort. At the same time, it is all about perspective. We can look through our limited perspective, or we can use tools to see even farther.
What are your thoughts? Where can we make bridges? What areas seem unlikely?
Questions about religion, semiotics, Judaism, or Christianity? Maybe all of the above?