Monday, May 25, 2009

The Unchanging Torah


[The Western Wall]

One thing which I am sometimes asked is "Doesn't the Torah change over time?" The answer is a little confusing: The Torah does not change, however Judaism does change.

The way it works is like this. The Torah is a collection of five books, the Five Books of Moses or the Pentateuch. These five books, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy were dictated to Moses by God at Mount Sinai and will never change. In addition to that, Moses was given by God an oral explanation of the Torah. This explanation is included in the Talmud. Usually, it contains details about how the Torah's commandments must be performed - for example how phylacteries are to be made. In some cases, the oral law contradicts and supersedes the written Torah. For example, the written Torah says "an eye for an eye" while the oral law explains that money needs to be paid by the damager. Similarly, the Torah imposes a death penalty for many crimes, while the oral law makes applying the death penalty so difficult that offenders were rarely executed.

In any case, the written Torah and its Talmudic explanation are eternal and unchangeable.

Judaism - the actual practice of Judaism - does change.

First of all, certain commandments may at times be impossible to fulfill. For example, everything connected with the Temple cannot be fulfilled at present because the Temple was destroyed in 70 CE.

In addition to that, certain Jewish practices have been instituted by the rabbis during the centuries since the Torah was given at Mount Sinai. These practices are meant to reinforce and strengthen the observance of the Torah. For example, prayer is a Torah commandment. Praying three times a day is a rabbinical commandment. Not marrying a gentile is a Torah commandment. Not drinking wine handled by a gentile is a rabbinical commandment. In ancient times, the rabbis determined that certain new laws had to be enacted to safeguard the observance of the Torah. These are not part of Torah and they may someday be abolished, following the coming of the Messiah and reinstitution of the Sanhredrin. These rabbinical enactments are also recorded in the Talmud.

Many things associated with Judaism, like black hats, bagels and lox and so on are simply part of the fashion and culture of certain Jewish communities and do not involve any religious obligation at all.

44 comments:

hector said...

" In some cases, the oral law contradicts and supersedes the written Torah. For example, the written Torah says "an eye for an eye" while the oral law explains that money needs to be paid by the damager."

Wouldn't some argue that the word "contradict" doesn't really apply in this case?

DrJ said...

This is a fairly accurate summary of orthodox theology.

Unfortunately, of course, it is total fantasy, and contradicts common sense and all scholarship.

Why are the Jewish months named after Babylonian and Greek Gods? Why are Tefillin called Tefillin, an aramaic word? Why are kosher torah and tefillin scrolls only to be written with Assyrian Hebrew script (used in the talmudic period, as opposed to the earlier Phoenecian Hebrew, used in biblical times)?

The bible itself seems to be unaware of this "oral law". For example what we now call Rosh Hashanna in biblical times was a trumpet day having nothing to do with judgement day. Of this Ezra reads to the people in Nehemia and tells the people to go and celebrate and rejoice (for one day). Then he tells them of the torah commandment to of succot to build booths with myrtle and palm branches. No mention of "etrog" or "lulav". All of these things were later rabbinic inventions.

SJ said...

So in the Talmud, is the hillel school and the shammai school mutually unchangeable? or is one changeable?

Shalmo said...

One does not need to turn to secular scholarship or textual variants, we can go directly to the rabbinical authorities themselves and see what they have to say about the preservation of their scriptures.

What do we do if there are discrepancies between all the TORAH scrolls.

Here is rabbinical insight on the subject:

Maimonides (Rambam), Hilkhot Sefer Torah 8, 4:
Since I have seen great confusion in all the scrolls [of the Law] in these matters, and also the Masoretes who wrote [special works] to make known [which sections are] "open" and "closed" contradict each other, according to the books on which they based themselves, I took it upon myself to set down here all the sections of the Law, and the forms of the Songs [i.e. Ex.15, Deut.32], so as to correct the scrolls accordingly. The copy on which we based ourselves in these matters is the one known in Egypt, which contains the whole Bible, which was formerly in Jerusalem [serving to correct copies according to it]. Everybody accepted it as authoritative, for Ben Asher corrected it many times. And I used it as the basis for the copy of the Torah Scroll which I wrote according to the Halakha.

If you think Maimonides' testimony was grim, wait 'til you read the rest:

RaMaH (R. Meir Ben Todros HaLevi) in his introduction to Masoret Seyag LaTorah:
...All the more so now that due to our sins, the following verse has been fulfilled amongst us, "Therefore, behold, I will again do a marvelous work among this people, Even a marvelous work and a wonder; And the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, And the prudence of their prudent men shall be hid"(Is. 29:14). If we seek to rely on the proofread scrolls in our possession, they are also in great disaccord. Were it not for the Masorah which serves as a fence around the Torah, almost no one would find his way in the controversies between the scrolls. Even the Masorah is not free from dispute, and there are several instances disputed [among the Masorah manuscripts], but not as many as among the scrolls. If a man wishes to write a halakhically "kosher" scroll, he will stumble on the plene and defective spellings and grope like a blind man through a fog of controversy; he will not succeed. Even if he seeks the aid of someone knowledgeable, he will not find such a one. When I, R. Meir HaLevi Ben Todros of Spain, saw what had befallen the scrolls, the Masorah lists, and the plene and defective spelling traditions, due to the ravages of time, I felt the need to search after the most precise and proofread codices and the most reliable Masoretic traditions, to resolve the conflicts. The newly-produced scrolls should be abandoned in favor of older, more faithful ones and among these the majority of texts should be followed as commanded in the Torah to decide any controversy, as it is written: "After the multitude to do..."(Ex. 23:2).

Shalmo said...

It gets darker:

R. Yom Tov Lippman Milhausen, in his work Tikkun Sefer Torah:
Because of our many sins, the Torah has been forgotten and we can not find a kosher Torah scroll; the scribes are ignoramuses and the scholars pay no attention in this matter. Therefore I have toiled to find a Torah scroll with the proper letters, open and closed passages, but I have found none, not to mention a scroll which is accurate as to the plene and defective spellings, a subject completely lost to our entire generation. In all these matters we have no choice [i.e. we are halakhically considered anusim]; but how to write the correct forms of the letters we do know and their laws are like that of tefillin. Thus if we allow the ignorant scribes to continue to follow their usual practices [in shaping the letters], here we sin on purpose [mezidin].

Don't really think so. Who knows what Maimonides and the two other Rabbis didn't disclose to the general public? Maimonides, in fact, when writing to the Jews of Yemen, lied to them by saying that there exist no discrepancies at all between all the Torah scrolls of the world, not even in vowelization. Obviously, this was to keep their faith up. Disclosing what he knew to them could've really shaken their faith. Do you know why he said that there existed no differences even in vowelization? It is because the Yemenite Jews were exposed to the polemics of the Muslims regarding the Torah's authenticity.

And this is ignoring how I have already shown you MASSIVE discrepancies (more than just a few vowels, words or phrases) between the Masoretic version, Dead Sea Scrolls, Septuagint and Samaritan Torah

In fact the Samaritan Torah is the most well-preserved of all them because it more philisopphically, theological, grammatically consistent than all the other Torahs we have today. Certainly a far neater piece than the masoretic version you use today:

http://web.meson.org/religion/torahcompare.php

jewish philosopher said...

These variations are trivial and would have no effect on Jewish practices.

jewish philosopher said...

DrJ, what's wrong with people during the Second Temple who spoke Aramaic using Aramaic words? And the oral law is unmentioned in the written law because it was oral.

Daniel prayed three times a day, as per rabbinical custom.

http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt3406.htm#11

jewish philosopher said...

SJ, Hillel and Shammai had different interpretations of the oral law. Don't different Supreme Court justices have different interpretations of the Constitution?

DrJ said...

"DrJ, what's wrong with people during the Second Temple who spoke Aramaic using Aramaic words?"

Nothing is wrong with it. (although its a little strange for the rabbis to use idol god's names, like Tammuz, in their Jewish calendar...) It just shows that Judaism formed during that period, as distinct from the biblical Hebrew religion.


"And the oral law is unmentioned in the written law because it was oral."

Its not only that its not mentioned. Its contradicted (as in the example I gave)

"SJ, Hillel and Shammai had different interpretations of the oral law. Don't different Supreme Court justices have different interpretations of the Constitution?"

No problem if you just see it as "interpretation". But they were supposed to be the carriers of the unbroken chain of oral law.

How can Rashi, and his grandson Rabbeinu Tam, in the 11th century, argue over how tefillin are supposed to be made? If tefillin was indeed continuously practiced from the oral law at Sinai, how could Rashi and RT have such a fundamental disagreement? (unless they are making things up...)

jewish philosopher said...

DrJ, most people in my synagogue call today's day of the week "Wednesday". Does that mean that Judaism began with northern Germanic pagans ("Wednesday"
meaning the day of the Germanic god Wodan)?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Week-day_names#Northern_Europe

"How can Rashi, and his grandson Rabbeinu Tam, in the 11th century, argue over how tefillin"

Apparently what has happening is that in the intervening several thousand years, certain details of the oral law have become uncertain.

"Its contradicted (as in the example I gave)"

Where?

Anonymous said...

Many of the differences in opinion are in the D'rabonon's. These are man made laws that the Rabbis instituted to preserve Torah law. It is expected that people would differ over exactly how to create these laws. Some of the differences are over the best way to do a mitzva, but everyone agrees that the other way is acceptable.

DrJ said...

In Nehemia, when ezra reads about the succot festival.

jewish philosopher said...

14 And they found written in the Law, how that the LORD had commanded by Moses, that the children of Israel should dwell in booths in the feast of the seventh month; 15 and that they should publish and proclaim in all their cities, and in Jerusalem, saying: 'Go forth unto the mount, and fetch olive branches, and branches of wild olive, and myrtle branches, and palm branches, and branches of thick trees, to make booths, as it is written.'

http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt35b08.htm#14

This perfects validates the oral law, according to which the booths are made from branches.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sukkah#S.27chach

I don't see a problem.

DrJ said...

"Apparently what has happening is that in the intervening several thousand years, certain details of the oral law have become uncertain."

Then what were they practicing until Rashi and RT came along?
(A book I read by Akiva Sternberg claims, based on evidence in the Rishonim, that most people didn't put on tefillin, so it was mostly obscure until then)

"DrJ, most people in my synagogue call today's day of the week "Wednesday". Does that mean that Judaism began with northern Germanic pagans ("Wednesday"
meaning the day of the Germanic god Wodan)?"

Good try, JP. Your example is for the English language, it is not in the adopted holy tongue of the Rabbis (and latter tanach), which Aramaic is. We don't say "Wednesday" when we say shir shel yom, but we do say "Tammuz".

DrJ said...

A plain reading indicates that they thought that the torah commanded that palm and myrtle branches were for building booths, not for the "lulav" (another foreign word) and curously no mention of etrog either.

A few psukim later astoundingly it says that they didn't practice this since the time of Joshua...So much for an oral tradition.

jewish philosopher said...

"Then what were they practicing until Rashi and RT came along?"

We don't know.

"it is not in the adopted holy tongue of the Rabbis"

Neither is Aramaic.

"they thought that the torah commanded that palm and myrtle branches were for building booths"

You can make a sukkah from palm and myrtle branches. According to the oral law, that's fine. The written Torah doesn't explain anything about the sukkah.

"they didn't practice this since the time of Joshua"

Since they were visitors who were traveling to perform a commandment, Jews in the first temple period did not need to build sukkos in Jerusalem.

All this is very interesting DrJ, however first of all, there is no reason to believe that the Torah is false. The fossils do not prove that it is false.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2008/09/how-i-understand-genesis.html

In addition to that, Jewish history validates its authenticity.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2006/10/judaic-literature-providing-proof-of.html

DrJ said...

1. Aramaic IS considered holy and is used extensively in prayers, such as in kaddish, blessings, etc. And when we bless the month we say "Tammuz", not the "tenth month" or "August".

2. Sure you can build a succah out of leaves (although it probably wouldn't be considered kosher today), but its interesting that the Nehemia passage refers to the very same materials that are mentioned in the Torah ("as it is written") which the oral law says is a lulav and etrog, Furthermore in Nehemia it implies that anaf etz avot and hadass are two different things, although the rabbis say they are the same.

3. The explanation about Jersulamites not having to build succot is pretty lame. Ezra was clearly telling them about something they ("the children of israel") didn't know and were not doing, but started doing now that they "discovered" the commandment.

4. I don't think the Torah is false, just fallible and inaccurate because it was written by men.

jewish philosopher said...

Aramaic is not holy, any more than English is. No Jew ever said it was.

"just fallible and inaccurate because it was written by men"

DrJ, anonymous trolls like you keep leaving this comment, or parts of it, in endless variations, several times daily:

"It is obvious that religion is irrational. Religion causes nothing but hatred and violence. If you do not realize this then you are insane."

This is the Gospel According to Richard Dawkins.

I have not been brainwashed to believe this gospel. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

DrJ:

A few posukim earlier the Posuk tlaks about "Ha'levi'im hamevinim es ha'am", "the levites who made the nation understand." So there was a core of people who knew the Torah. It was the masses who "found" the mitzva of succos. They might have forgotten due to the tribulations of Golus, or they might have temporarily forgotten the Succos was approaching, and they were reminded. I do the same thing, until I check the luach.

And Rashi says that "from the days of Hoshea (not Yehoshua, so it might be refering to another person altogether) ben Nun" refers to the joy with which they performed the mitzva, which does fit the context.

And a succah made of leaves might be posul, but I understood the posuk to be refering to branches, whihc is kosher for a succah.

alex said...

DR J: "The bible itself seems to be unaware of this "oral law". "

The famous example used in kiruv work is the verse that says "You shall kill these animals in the way that I showed you." However, there's no mention of this in the Written Torah, hinting to the Oral Torah. I'd be curious to hear your rebuttal.

Torah said...

Torah is the power!

DrJ said...

"from the days of Hoshea (not Yehoshua, so it might be refering to another person altogether) ben Nun" refers to the joy with which they performed the mitzva, which does fit the context."

Hoshea Ben Nun is the name used in the torah (bamidbar 13:8).

If you want to go against the plain meaning of the text, fine. Then you can say whatever you want, but that is apologetics. You then have to ask yourself-- do you begin with a predetermined outcome and try to make the evidence "fit", or are you trying to discover the truth based on the evidence.

""You shall kill these animals in the way that I showed you." However, there's no mention of this in the Written Torah, hinting to the Oral Torah"

Obviously, there were existing practices and modes of behavior for which the langauge of the torah had meaning-- for the people to whom the Torah was addressed. So when it says totafot or tzitzit or nazir or cohen they knew what that meant. There indeed probably were non-written traditions, which served as a context for the torah.

But it is a very big and illogical jump to them claim that all of the various minutae derived in the talmud 1000 years later were transmitted at Sinai. The talmudic rabbis attempted to imbue their ruling with the authority of the Torah, but it would be an extreme stretch of the imagination to say that the contemporaries of the torah knew about what we call lulav or etrog or tefillin or eruv or even hebrew writing as we know it now.

jewish philosopher said...

I feel that the rabbinical tradition is validated by two things.

First of all, it has been accepted by the vast majority of Jews since time immemorial. It seems to me hypercritical to suggest that the phylacteries or the plants taken on sukkos are something different than what nearly all Jews have always claimed that they are.

Secondly, there is the unique pattern of rabbinical literature which validates its authenticity.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2006/10/judaic-literature-providing-proof-of.html

DrJ said...

Your using circular reasoning-- the claim's assertion proves its own truth.
Jews believe in the truth of the rabbinic tradition, which is true because Jews believed in it.

Pretty lame logic, you woudn't win any awards in a debating contest.

At most you can say that there is a certain degree of internal consistency to the claim, but it says nothing about its truth.

jewish philosopher said...

"Jews believe in the truth of the rabbinic tradition, which is true because Jews believed in it."

No, that's not what I wrote in that post about rabbinical literature.

Shalmo said...

JP there were countless sects in second temple judea

you simply follow the sect that survived aka pharisees

at this point there is no way to prove the pharisees were the right ones, especially considering most other sects opposed their so-called oral torah; likely because they were aware of the zorastrian plagarism going on in it

the word "pharisee" comes from the word "parsi"; which is the original farsi word for Zoroastrians. The Pharisees were the zorastrian/persian influenced party, which is why so much of the levitical code is a match for match for the Avenastan Venedad.

The Essenes were also heavily influenced by them. Their vast and complex angelology for example is pure copy of zorastrian heavenly hierarchy.

Some people argue that in fact when Ezra came from persia that's when the original zorastrian infestation began, and considering even orthodox tradition records Ezra as introducing new characters into the Torah and changing it from israelite script to hebrew script, so its likely thats then when the transfer of ideas happened.

The concept of a messiah and messianic age for instance is not present in the Torah at all. It only appears in the prophetic writings leading critical scholars to conclude its a latter inclusion into Judaism. And I believe its the zorastrian idea of messiah and regenerated world that has made its way into the prophetic books.

This isn't surprising. The vast majority of the jewish stories comes from better stories taken from sumerians, babylonians, greeks, hittites, cannanites, egyptians, assyrians, etc etc.

The greeks had Hercules and the Nameon lion, and jews made up Samson who first trial was battling a lion. The babylonians had enmerker and the tower of arrata, so the jews came up with the tower of babel.

Other stories like say the book of Esther, which is the source for Purim, is a common polemical story that fits a pattern in Jewish mythology where stories are invented so the Jewish people can sing the "they persecuted us and now look what happened to them". Where as we know that all the clearly documented records from persia show there never was a Queen Esther nor such a mass slaughter of iranians. The book is pure fiction.

This is why we need contemporary verification to see which stories are true and which are fake, and since the vast majority of Israeli archaeology has already shown that the history recorded in the Torah is little more than the political propaganda of Judea's kings, then really what do you have left to defend?

Even if you could prove evolution wrong (which I don't think you will), you most certainly can never prove the Torah is right in stating the world is 6000 years old, and the rest of the world's records are wrong

Have you considered that maybe the reason all these jews are apostatizing is because maybe Judaism is just not true?

Anonymous said...

from the days of Hoshea (not Yehoshua, so it might be refering to another person altogether) ben Nun" refers to the joy with which they performed the mitzva, which does fit the context."

Hoshea Ben Nun is the name used in the torah (bamidbar 13:8).

If you want to go against the plain meaning of the text, fine. Then you can say whatever you want, but that is apologetics. You then have to ask yourself-- do you begin with a predetermined outcome and try to make the evidence "fit", or are you trying to discover the truth based on the evidence."

I'm sorry, I made a, mistake, it says Yoshua, not Hoshea. So it could be another person. inthe time of Chizikiahu, they made a big pesach celebration. In the days of Yoshia, they made a bigger celebration. The celebration in the dyas of Yoshia was described as having not being seen since the days of the judges. But it can't mena that they didn't celebarte Pesach at all, because they celebarted it imn the days of Chizkiyahu. So it has to refer to the way they celebrated.
Saying that Nechemia is descrining the way the celebration of Sukkos was performed just fits the pattern of the Novi.

And the posuk says "Lo Asu Kein Mimey Yehoshua. They didn't do like this." Saying it refers to the way t was celebrated fits the plain meaning fine.

jewish philosopher said...

Shalmo, of course evolution is false.


http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2008/03/evolution-science-hijacked-by-atheism.html

Anonymous said...

Shalmo:

I was always under the impression that the word "farsi" was Persian for "persian". Well, you live and learn.

And the word Pharisees was dervied from the Hebrew P'rushim, which means they separatd themselves from worldy concerns. This is to contrast them to the contemporary Tzdukim, who were concerned only with wordly things.

And Zoroastrianism has at its core the belief in two gods, ahriman, a bad god, and Ahura Mazda, a nice one. This is totally foreign top Juidaism, which is strictly monothesitic. And it is vry likly that the silmilariets between Zoroastrianism and Judaism are the result of Zoroaster borrowing from Judaism, not the other way around. After all, Judaism did come first. There are parallels between Judaims and Islam, e.g. kosher and halal, but who borrowed from whom?

And the "scholars" say that the messianic visions in the prophets are later insertions? These wouldn't by any chance be the same scientists who in a recent study I sited on a nother thread admit to all kinds of fraud ands other misconduct? Just wondering?

Shalmo said...

^^Anonymous:

I said "parsi" not "farsi". Its true that in hebrew mythology they claim that's where the pharisee word comes from, but to the rest of us its not coincidence they took on such a name. It was to signify who they were

Furthermore you do not seem to be aware of how much Zorastrianism has changed. Contrary to your post, Zorastrians are VERY much monotheists. Ahriman is a later invention. The original religion of Zoraster was purely monotheistic.

Zoraster lived 6000 BC, how many years is that before Sinai? And even if you could prove Judaism is older (which you cannot), that in no way implies influence went the other way

As I have shown you have two major points of interest. You have Ezra, who we know had power to edict the Torah and came from persia. And you have the pharisee (persian party) sect.

As for Judaism and Islam, well this is an interesting topic. You see often since Judaism has "claims" of being older people assume it was Judaism that influenced muslims, when critical scholarship has shown that in fact influence went the other way.

Many of midrash/Talmud match the islamic stories because they were taken from them in the first place:

Here are a few examples of such plagarisms:

http://www.islamic-awareness.org/Quran/Sources/BBnumb.html

http://www.islamic-awareness.org/Quran/Sources/BByalkut.html

http://www.islamic-awareness.org/Quran/Sources/BBrabbah.html

http://www.islamic-awareness.org/Quran/Sources/BBsheba.html

http://www.islamic-awareness.org/Quran/Sources/BBCandA.html

http://www.islamic-awareness.org/Quran/Sources/BBsamari.html

If you examine each of those links you will see why there are similarities between the midrash and the Sunnah, its because the midrash was copied from the Sunnah, as each of those specific midrash was made AFTER the Sunnah. Jews thrived in the muslim lands, ,it was islamic Spain that gave Jews Maimonides the best sage Jewry have ever had

However, Maimonides is also where much of the islamic influence comes from. He took scores of sufi ideas from islam and incorporated them into Judaism to give the legalistic religion a spirituality. This is because his entire family was converting to Islam hence he needed a way to keep Jews tied to Judaism

The Torah is filled with descriptions of an anthropormorphic Zeus type god called Yahweh. Heck in Job 26 rather than creating the universe ex-nihilo, Yahweh fashioned the earth in conflict with the dragon sea god Rahab. Similarly second temple Judea was enomored with the story of god ridding a shining chariot in the vision of Ezekial. So the concept of absolute monotheism is a much later inclusion into Judaism, as the texts clearly show a Zeus/Odin type tribal god, so where did absolute monotheism come from?

Maimonides is the answer. HE felt the anthropomorphic god of the midrash was kefirah if you read his work. This is where he took the islamic concept of absolute monotheism and incorporated it into Judaism. If you follow the history books you will see this as well. this is no surprise since the Rambam plagiarized much from the works of muslims like Ibn Rushd. Again if you follow history it all makes sense since this is also the time when Judaism rejected traditionalism for the Rambam's rationalistic re-imagining of Judaism

In truth the religion of the Torah and the religion to Talmud are two very different religion, and post holocaust orthodoxy might even be considered a third

Anonymous said...

Whast I read is that Zoroaster lived ~570 B.C. Around the time of the Exile. I'm textbook in my hands that says exactly this. And it also syas that Zoroaster taught that there were two gods, a concept foregn to Judaism.

And to the best of my knowledge, the sages were called Prushim centuries after the end of the exile, when the Tzdukim started becoming active. Again to show the contrast, the timing fits my explanation. And the fact that it sounds liek Prushim sounds kinda like Parsi is no more significant thatn it sound like Paris, the capital of France. Are you going to say that Judaism borrowed from the French?

Shalmo said...

I don't which books you have read but the official date for Zoraster is 6000 BC. Oh and books can be wrong.

Are you sure or are simply making up facts that suit your presuppositions?

It must be a very unscholarly book if it says the original zorastrian religion taught about two gods. Often western books are completely clueless about the religions they talk about

You should not learn about a religion from moronic orientalists, who 90% of the time don't know what they are talking about. In fact in Britain they have shut down the field because it was obvious they were spreading ignorace about other cultures and faiths

Furthermore Judaism itself is an evolving phenomenon. The original religion of the bible is in fact henotheism. The 10 commandments say Yahweh brought Jewry out of Egypt so that they would stop worshipping other gods ("ye shall have no gods but me" NOT others gods don't exist"). Jewish literature is filled with reference to the other gods. In Job 26 Yahweh rather than creating the universe ex-nihilo fashions it in conflict with the dragon sea god Rahab

Finally you are purposely distorting my points. I did not say that the reason pharisee were zorastrian influeced is because of the name. The name only adds to the evidence. When you compare the complex angelology of the Essenes, or the concept of an afterlife in Judaism, or the messiah/messianic age in the prophetic books and compare them with zorastrian books then you see lots of plagarisms going on

Second temple Judea was an era of messianic zealotry and excessive spiritual intoxication. A perfect breeding ground for incorporation of spiritual ideas from all over the place.

This is why the other sects whether sadduccess, zealots, karaites, etc etc were all opposed to the pharisee sect because of the excessive persian ideas being brought by the so-called oral Torah.

Its extremely unbelievable that 2000-2500 years laters after Sinai Jews decide to codify an "oral Torah". What is even more suspicious is that only the pharisees (the persian party) did it, while all other sects were opposed to it.

The argument that Jews were being killed of so they have to redact their oral torah makes no sense because they have been persecuted way more even before second temple judea. Why not codify the oral Torah then?

If we use occam's razor we can deduce that the reason this massive literature of the pharisseees came out of no where post 2000 years on Sinai is because this sect took Zorastrian ideas and then gave the religion of the Torah an extension

When we examine the religion of the torah and the religion of the Talmud, by all intents and purposes they are two very different religions

Without the temple Jews didn't have much of a religion anymore, so is it any wonder they would use zorastrianism to re-invent the religion into something that could survive into the foreseable future.

Anonymous said...

Shalmo:

Should I believe you or the books I've read. And If I should niot believe books, then why should I believe books that questions the torah aand Talmud? Its all so confusing. And the parallels between Zoroastraism and may very well bey the reuslts of Zoroaster borrowing from the Judaism.


"The argument that Jews were being killed of so they have to redact their oral torah makes no sense because they have been persecuted way more even before second temple judea. Why not codify the oral Torah then?"

I was alwsy under teh impression that the Ora law was written becasue people began to forget it. The persecutions coupled with the normal deterioration of each generation caused the forgetting.

"Without the temple Jews didn't have much of a religion anymore, so is it any wonder they would use zorastrianism to re-invent the religion into something that could survive into the foreseable future."

But the Pharesees were active for centuries before the Temple was destroyed. And all the Rabbinic decreed were klong established before the Temple was destroyed.

Anonymous said...

And I did some quick research. The 6000 B.C. date for Zoroaster was speculation on the part of some ancient Greek historians. Modern scholars don't take it seriously. Some date his brtih to arouind 1000 B.C. which is several centuries after the origin of Judaism.

Shalmo said...

Anonymous I have already given you a lecture about learning about other religion by what western orientalists say. WOULD YOU BE OK IF I LEARNED ABOUT JUDAISM THE SAME WAY?

Zorastrianism originally was monotheistic, and repeating a lie no matter how many times won't make it true. Ahriman is a much later invention in the religion

And again it doesn't matter even if Zorastrianism came later, because the influence still went into judaism through Ezra and through the pharisees. A religion doesn't have to be older for influence to go the other way. Islam came after Judaism, but I have already discussed Islam massive contribution to Jewish midrash, as well as changing Jewish beliefs on an anthropormorphic Zeus type tribal god to ABSOLUTE MONOTHEISM which Judaism adheres to today

Where did the complex heavenly hierarchy of the Essenes comes from? Where did the pharisse ideas that set them apart from the other sects come from? These are not dated to Sinai, they come from second temple judea. Where did the spiritual intoxication in this region come from? It all came from pervading Zorastrian ideas.

Since you didn't even address the question of the oral law, I copy and paste my previous argument; This is why the other sects whether sadduccess, zealots, karaites, etc etc were all opposed to the pharisee sect because of the excessive persian ideas being brought by the so-called oral Torah.

Its extremely unbelievable that 2000-2500 years laters after Sinai Jews decide to codify an "oral Torah". What is even more suspicious is that only the pharisees (the persian party) did it, while all other sects were opposed to it.

The argument that Jews were being killed of so they have to redact their oral torah makes no sense because they have been persecuted way more even before second temple judea. Why not codify the oral Torah then?

Oh and you are wrong about rabbinical judaism. Don't confuse rabbinical judaism with pharisees.

Rabbinical Judaism was created AFTER the destruction of the second temple. In fact Islam was the reason rabbinical judaism was created in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Shalmo:

Do you have any evidence for what you are saying? When I site evidence from scholars, you tell me to disregard it. Should I believe you over them?

And now you are saying the Pharisees weer not the Rabbis. I'm confused. Josephus says that the Pharisees were the mainstream, that the majority of the people followed them, and that they were honest and virtuous. The Saducees showed up much latter, centuries after the return from Babylonia, so how could they be a reaction to the corruption of Judaism from Zoroastrainism? And they were primarily interested in power, not keeping the Religion pure. Josephus again. Now, the Greeks did have a corrupting influence on Judaism. The Rabbis reacted by fighting the Hellnizers in a major war to keep Judaism pure. That where we get Chanuka. So the Rabbis were allowing Zoroastrianism to corrupt Judaism, but fight to the death to prevent Greek corruption? I'm confused.

And the Essenes were never mainstream. They were aqlways a minor cult that died out eventually. Maybe they were corrupted by zoroaster, or maybe it was the other way around.
I don't know, but it nothing to do with us. There are messianic Jews today who were influenced by Chirtianity. Whaty does that have to do with us.

And all the major Rabbinic decreed like muktza onb shabbos, havdala, thrice daily prayer, etc. etc, were already in place centuries before the destruction of the Second Temple.

And the

Anonymous said...

The Oal law was written down because, due to the normal deterioration, and the persecutions, people began to forget it. Also, the situation was different. Before the Babylonian exile, the leaders were sent taken to Babylonia, where they set up akk the culturak institutions to keep Jewish life going. See the Books of Kings and Chronicles. The Romans were sending people to all parts of the Empire, where there were no institutions. It makes perfect sense that then they would begin to forget.

Anonymous said...

And Shalmo

Where are you learning about Judaism from? I'm just curious.

Shalmo said...

No you have not cited any scholars at all. you keep saying you read something in some mysterious book so I have no way of knowing whether or not you are just making stuff up

The Pharisees were NOT rabbis. You are confused. Modern rabbinical judaism descends from the pharisees. That is true. But when the pharisees began its wasn't rabbinical judaism. That happened much later post Islam

We don't know who the original Jews were; whether they were pharisses, saduccess, essenes or any of the other countless groups that sprang up. We have no way of knowing who they were

Calling Essenes a cult is a non-sequitar because they could just as well say the same about the pharissees

I hope you are not suggesting that just because a group is not popular, that automatically makes it wrong.

And for the umpteenth time; its extremely unbelievable that 2000-2500 years later after Sinai Jews decide to codify an "oral Torah". What is even more suspicious is that only the pharisees (the persian party) did it, while all other sects were opposed to it.

The argument that Jews were being killed of so they have to redact their oral torah makes no sense because they have been persecuted way more even before second temple judea. Why not codify the oral Torah then?

If we use occam's razor we can deduce that the reason this massive literature of the pharisseees came out of no where post 2000 years on Sinai is because this sect took Zorastrian ideas and then gave the religion of the Torah an extension to make up what they lost with the temple

After the loss of the temple only pharisees were left and they needed a way to keep Judaism, a religion based on the temple, alive. But without the temple they needed to reinvent the religion to be able to function without the temple. This is where the zorastrian ideas were used (even though zorastrian ideas were coming into judaism way before that), after the temple's destruction specifically they used zorastrian ideas to replace what they lost (prayers instead of sacrifice, etc). Judaism continued to "develop", until pharisse judaism became rabbinical judaism post islam where they took ideas from the Sunnah, through which the modern form of Judaism was born. Do you get it now?

If you want sources and are interested in learning about this matter further then please let me know

Anonymous said...

Shalmo:

Didn't i mention Josephus. And all the information I provided about Zoroaster I found by googling, or the book "World History" by King and Lewinski. Whom should I believe?

And the Essenses lived by in monastaries in the desert, isolated from the rest of society. They weer celibate for mos t of their history, so they couldn't even pass their teachings on to their children.

Josephus mentions the use of the esrog on succosd during the reign of the Hasmoneans. Archaeologists found tfillin dating to Temple times. So all this Rabbinic stuff was in place before the destruction.

And I still don't understand why the pharisees\rabbis would fight Greek influence to the death, but fight to bring in Zoroastrainism influence.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jewish Philosopher:
Could you discuss more the references Shalmo made (in the comments):

[Maimonides (Rambam), Hilkhot Sefer Torah 8, 4; RaMaH (R. Meir Ben Todros HaLevi) in his introduction to Masoret Seyag LaTora; R. Yom Tov Lippman Milhausen, in his work Tikkun Sefer Torah]

I am Jewishly interested -- so I study these things. I am confused by the passages that Shalmo cites.

Basically, how can this square with the ikkurim of Rambam -- the one that says this is the Torah exactly as we received it from Moses at Mt. Sinai (or words to that effect.)

I wondered if you could comment on the ikkur on this, how it can be pshat true if the above citations are also accurate?

Thanks,
Tuvia in NYC

jewish philosopher said...

Well, I think that's summed up here:

Haredi Jews generally believe that the Torah today is no different from what was received from God to Moses, with only the most minor of scribal errors. Many other Orthodox Jews suggest that over the millennia, some scribal errors have crept into the Torah's text. They note that the Masoretes (7th to 10th centuries) compared all known Torah variations in order to create a definitive text. However, even according to this position that the scrolls that Jews possess today are not letter-perfect, the Torah scrolls are certainly the word-perfect textus receptus that was divinely revealed to Moses. Indeed, the consensus of Orthodox rabbinic authority posits this belief in the word-perfect nature of the Torah scroll as representing a non-negotiable prerequisite for Orthodox Jewish membership

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_principles_of_faith#The_origin_of_the_Torah

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the straighforward answer. first a comment, then another question i have.
First, I want to say thank you (again) for being clear and concise. I try to read frum blogs, and stuff from places like YU, and I am often frustrated by the use of jargon (Hebrew frequently), which I don't know how to translate. You avoid that mainly. But also, you are very plain spoken -- i mean that as a compliment. You say things straight. Often I read academically oriented Rabbis, and it can bring me to tears almost, trying to get through their essays. They over-load every sentence it seems, and it just leaves me -- it is just a pain.

I know you get a lot of criticism out there in the blogosphere for your manner -- but (whether I agree with all of your views or not), I enjoy your manner -- your straight approach. Everyone knows where you stand!

Now the question. Are gentiles (either at a particular time, or at all times) to be seen as animals, or something like that?

Professor Marc Shapiro wrote a pretty clear essay at the YU site, that was a plain translation of letters from a Rav Weinberg (a very big Rabbi I understand) to a reform rabbi friend of his. In the letters, he at one point, laments the Jewish view of Gentiles, but, he also accepts it as halachic truth.

http://www.yutorah.org/lectures/lecture.cfm/704650/Professor_Marc_B._Shapiro/Scholars_and_Friends:_R%27_Yechiel_Ya%27akov_Weinberg_and_Prof._Samuel_Atlas

wondering if you have any comments on this essay/translation. particularly the part where the Rabbi laments the view of gentiles in halachah.

In truth, I think the Rabbi Weinberg sounds like he is in a lot of emotional pain in many of the letters in this translation.

But any comments you have would be appreciated. maybe even a post?

I find the orthodox world -- even though I know many orthodox -- to be scary. I pray orthodox, and I know many orthodox who are just terrific in many ways. i am at home with orthodox. I feel that.

But when I read things -- so many things about masorah, child predators who go ignored, these letters from an esteemed rav which are pretty depressing, so many controversies today it feels like -- I just don't know if i could ever "dive in" to orthodoxy. It scares me.

my cousins are very black hat b'al t'chuvah, and got me involved.

i love them, but even they scare me somewhat!

I guess i am looking for perfection. and I don't know for sure if religion provides it.

Thanks, all the best,
Tuvia

jewish philosopher said...

First of all, thank you very much for the positive feedback. I do have a few critics as you've noticed.

Regarding the status of Gentiles, I think this post may answer that.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2010/07/are-jews-race.html

Regarding orthodox Jewish crime, this may be interesting.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2008/09/orthodox-jewish-crime.html