"What do Jews believe about the original audience of the OT, and to what degree is the OT relevant to today"
That would depend on the branch of Judaism. Orthodox Jews believe it's eternal and will always be relevant. We also believe we cannot change anything, add ir substract from it. To different extents, Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist Judaism believe certain laws can be modified or even abolished to adapt to the society they live in.
"Can the OT only be understand from the perspective of the original audience?"
Again, I can only speak from an Orthodox perspective. As I said the Torah is eternal, applicable to all times. The practical applications of the laws may change with the circumstances, but the moral principle behind them is valid regardless of social changes.
I'll give you an example. Many question why we can't turn on the light during Shabath, after all electricity didn't exist back then
at 9:35 PM on May. 3, 2012
This is really very interesting thank you for asking and answering
at 1:12 AM on May. 4, 2012
real mature, girls.
at 9:29 PM on May. 3, 2012
^yeah..i didn't take it as offensive to anyone.
at 9:40 PM on May. 3, 2012
I loved the questions as well and enjoyed answering what I could
at 11:39 AM on May. 4, 2012
And yet every single Jew has the sane tefillin, small black boxes that contain the Shema of a minimum size, with leather straps that go around the arm. Those details are in the Oral Law and the fact that different Jewish groups that actually list contact with each other at some point have the exact same tefillin, with minimal different details.
at 10:05 PM on May. 3, 2012
Great thread Eilish! Thanks for the information Sharon
at 8:20 AM on May. 4, 2012
at 8:59 PM on May. 3, 2012
But the Torah doesn't tell you you can't turn on electrical objects, or drive a car, of course. The Torah gives a list of 39 activities, called "melakhot" that cannot be done in Shabbath. From those 39 prohibitions we can know if an activity that didn't exist back then can or cannot be performed.
"Is there anything in the OT that you ignore today because it has no modern relevance?"
Only those commandments that aren't applicable today because we need a temple to observe them. But it's not that those laws aren't relevant anymore, it's a (hopefully) temporary interlude while the Temple is rebuilt.
Now, I'm not perfect and I'm still on my journey, but I do try to observe those commandments that apply to me to the best of my knowledge and ability.
at 9:49 PM on May. 3, 2012