Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Talmud on Charity


[Jewish charity box]

In this post I would like to simply quote from a section of the Talmud which I recently learned as part of the Daf Yomi program. Does any other ancient book contains such noble concepts?

(Bear in mind that these comments were made at a time and place when the primary form of entertainment was brutal gladiatorial combat.)

It has been taught: R. Meir used to say: The critic [of Judaism] may bring against you the argument, 'If your God loves the poor, why does he not support them?' If so, answer him, 'So that through them we may be saved from the punishment of Gehinnom [hell].' This question was actually put by Turnus Rufus to R. Akiba: 'If your God loves the poor, why does He not support them?' He replied, 'So that we may be saved through them from the punishment of Gehinnom.' 'On the contrary,' said the other, 'it is this which condemns you to Gehinnom. I will illustrate by a parable. Suppose an earthly king was angry with his servant and put him in prison and ordered that he should be given no food or drink, and a man went and gave him food and drink. If the king heard, would he not be angry with him? And you are called "servants", as it is written, 'For unto me the children of Israel are servants.' (Leviticus 25:55) R. Akiba answered him: 'I will illustrate by another parable. Suppose an earthly king was angry with his son, and put him in prison and ordered that no food or drink should be given to him, and someone went and gave him food and drink. If the king heard of it, would he not send him a present? And we are called "sons", as it is written, 'Sons are ye to the Lord your God.' (Deut. 14:1) He said to him: 'You are called both sons and servants. When you carry out the desires of the Omnipresent you are called "sons", and when you do not carry out the desires of the Omnipresent, you are called "servants". At the present time you are not carrying out the desires of the Omnipresent. R. Akiba replied: 'The Scripture says, Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry and bring the poor that are cast out to thy house. (Isaiah 58:7) When "dost thou bring the poor who are cast out to thy house"? Now; and it says [at the same time], Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry?' [This demonstrates that even during the time of exile and atonement for sin, Jews must give charity.]

R. Judah son of R. Shalom preached as follows: In the same way as a man's earnings are determined for him from New Year, so his losses are determined for him from New Year. If he finds merit [in the sight of Heaven], then, 'deal out thy bread to the poor'; but if not, then, he will 'bring the poor that are outcast to his house.' A case in point is that of the nephews of Rabban Johanan b. Zakkai. He saw in a dream that they were to lose seven hundred dinars in that year. He accordingly forced them to give him money for charity until only seventeen dinars were left [of the seven hundred]. On the eve of the Day of Atonement the Government sent and seized them. R. Johanan b. Zakkai said to them, 'Do not fear [that you will lose any more]; you had seventeen dinars and these they have taken.' They said to him, 'How did you know that this was going to happen?' He replied, 'I saw it in a dream.' 'Then why did you not tell us?' they asked. 'Because,' he said, 'I wanted you to perform the religious precept [of giving charity] quite disinterestedly.'

As R. Papa was climbing a ladder, his foot slipped and he narrowly escaped falling. Had that happened, he said, mine enemy had been punished like Sabbath breakers and idolaters. Hiyya b. Rab from Difti said to him: Perhaps a beggar appealed to you and you did not assist him; for so it has been taught: R. Joshua b. Korhah says, Whoever turns away his eyes from [one who appeals for] charity is considered as if he were serving idols. It is written In one place, Beware that there be not a base thought in thine heart (Deut. 15:9), and in another place, Certain base fellows are gone out. (Deut.13:14) Just as in the second case the sin is that of idolatry, so in the first case the sin is equivalent to that of idolatry.

It has been taught: R. Eliezer son of R. Jose said: All the charity and deeds of kindness which Israel perform in this world [help to promote] peace and good understanding between them and their Father in heaven, as it says, Thus saith the Lord, Enter not into the house of mourning, neither go to lament, neither bemoan them, for I have taken away my peace from this people … even lovingkindness and tender mercies (Jeremiah 16:5), [where] 'lovingkindness' refers to acts of kindness, and 'tender mercies' to charity.

It has been taught: R. Judah says: Great is charity, in that it brings the redemption nearer, as it says, Thus saith the Lord, Keep ye judgment and do righteousness [zedakah], for my salvation is near to come and my righteousness to be revealed. (Isaiah 56:1) He also used to say: Ten strong things have been created in the world. The rock is hard, but the iron cleaves it. The iron is hard, but the fire softens it. The fire is hard, but the water quenches it. The water is strong, but the clouds bear it. The clouds are strong, but the wind scatters them. The wind is strong, but the body bears it. The body is strong, but fright crushes it. Fright is strong, but wine banishes it. Wine is strong, but sleep works it off. Death is stronger than all, and charity saves from death, as it is written, Righteousness [zedakah] delivereth from death. (Proverbs 10:2)

R. Dosthai son of R. Jannai preached [as follows]: Observe that the ways of God are not like the ways of flesh and blood. How does flesh and blood act? If a man brings a present to a king, it may be accepted or it may not be accepted; and even if it is accepted, it is still doubtful whether he will be admitted to the presence of the king or not. Not so God. If a man gives but a farthing to a beggar, he is deemed worthy to receive the Divine Presence, as It is written, I shall behold thy face in righteousness [zedakah], I shall be satisfied when I awake with thy likeness. R. Eleazar used to give a coin to a poor man and straightway say a prayer, because, he said, it is written, I in righteousness shall behold thy face. (Psalms 17:15)

R Johanan said: What is the meaning of the verse, He that hath pity on the poor lendeth unto the Lord. (Proverbs 19:17) Were it not written in the Scripture, one would not dare to say it: as it were, the borrower is a servant to the lender. (Proverbs 22:7)

R. Hiyya b. Abin said: R. Johanan pointed out that it is written, Riches profit not in the day of wrath, but righteousness [zedakah] delivereth from death,(Proverbs 11:4) and it is also written, Treasures of wickedness profit nothing, but righteousness [zedakah] delivereth from death. (Proverbs 10:2) Why this double mention of righteousness? — One that delivers him from an unnatural death and one that delivers him from the punishment of Gehinnom. Which is the one that delivers him from the punishment of Gehinnom? The one in connection with which the word 'wrath' is used, as it is written, A day of wrath is that day. (Zephaniah 1:15) What kind of charity is that which delivers a man from an unnatural death? When a man gives without knowing to whom he gives and the beggar receives without knowing from whom he receives. How is a man then to do this? — He should put his money into the charity box.

82 comments:

Alex said...

Some other charity quotes found in different religions:

http://www.unification.net/ws/theme141.htm

(This list was not to refute anything you said, JP.)

jewish philosopher said...

Islam and Christianity plagiarized Judaism's belief in charity.

In other parts of the world, I am not aware of any actual giving of alms to the poor.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alms

Abe said...

>>>In other parts of the world, I am not aware of any actual giving of alms to the poor.


Just one of many things of which you are not aware. A little more secular perspicacity and a little less fundamentalist true-belief would do you a world of good.

"Giving is essential to Buddhism. Giving includes charity, or giving material help to people in want... "
http://buddhism.about.com/od/basicbuddhistteachings/a/giving.htm

jewish philosopher said...

In communities which had no connection to Judaism, I am not aware of charitable institutions ever having been common place or even existing at all.

To the best of my knowledge, in sub-Saharan Africa, China and India the wealthy simply let the poor starve. In fact, I think they still do as a rule.

I believe the Asian tradition was to give alms only to priests and monks, like our terumah, not tzedakah.

Abe said...

>>>I believe the Asian tradition was to give alms only to priests and monks, like our terumah.

Perhaps so, but that narrow philantrophy evolved in both cultures to include ordinary destitute people.
Judaism was and is not the only culture to care for their their less fortuante bretheren

jewish philosopher said...

I believe altruism is an original, unique Torah concept.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2008/01/genius-of-judaism-kindness.html

Alex said...

"There is an amazing story told about Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi was on a speaking tour across India, as part of his non-violent struggle for independence from the British.

At that time, the only affordable mode of travel across the country was by rail. When there were no whites waiting for a train, the British rail company, in an effort to save the expense and time of actually stopping at the station, would have the trains slow down long enough for passengers to run along-side and hop on. (This racist policy was part of what Gandhi was struggling against...)

One day, Gandhi was running to get on a train, and as he jumped up, his shoe slipped off his foot. Though he tried to grab it, he ended up watching helplessly as it fell to the tracks. Quickly, he grabbed the other one off his foot and threw it back down the tracks towards the first rapidly disappearing shoe.

People who saw this thought perhaps Gandhi had taken leave of his senses. His response to their mystified expressions was: “At least now if a poor person finds his way across my shoe he will soon come across its mate and end up with a good pair of shoes. (For most Indians back then a pair of good shoes was equivalent to a month’s salary...)

What does it take for a person to develop his ethical instincts to such an extent? If Gandhi had waited another moment he would have lost the opportunity; what poor person would continue for miles along the tracks in search of another shoe? To have such an immediate reaction, a person has to reach such a level of ethical behavior that ethics are no longer a thought out process; they become almost instinctive. How can the average person aspire to reach such a level of human behavior?"

This story comes from an Orthodox kiruv site.

jewish philosopher said...

Gandhi combined many religions in his personal philosophy; I think he mainly mixed Hinduism and Christianity.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gandhism#Religion

Alex said...

Since all you asked was: "Does any other ancient book contains such noble concepts?", it shouldn't matter whether they plagiarized from us or not. (The Rig Veda is probably independent from the Jews.)

Anon1 said...

JP, charity is humanism.

If you're arguing the unique wisdom of Torah and the rabbis, consider the following discussion in Tractate Shabbat 110a (paraphrased):

"If a woman sees a snake and does not know whether it has turned its attention to her or not [sexually], let her remove her garments and throw them in front of it; if it winds itself around them, its mind is upon her; if not, its mind is not upon her. What can she do? She should cohabit [with her husband] in front of it. Others say, That will even strengthen its instincts. Rather she should take some of her hair and nails and throw them at it and say, 'I am menstruous'.

If a snake enters a woman, let her spread her legs and place them on two barrels; fat meat must be brought and cast on the burning coals; a basket of cress must be brought together with fragrant wine and placed there, and be well beaten together.11 They should take a pair of tongs in their hand, for when it smells the fragrance it will come out, so that it can be seized and burnt in the fire, as otherwise it will re-enter."

Very unique wisdom indeed.

jewish philosopher said...

Alex, I would just wonder if the Rig Veda actually advocates charity or if this is a somewhat creative translation. I don't believe that Hindus did or even now do give alms to the poor. Of course, I may be basing this on Slumdog Millionaire.

Anon1, many Talmudic passages are allegorical.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aggadah

Anon1 said...

"Anon1, many Talmudic passages are allegorical"

Look at the page and context and tell me if it is allegorical.

To what exactly would this be allegorical?

Anon1 said...

I find it interesting that your often quoted Talmudic references about burning excrement in hell, which awaits heretics, are considered by you to be literal. But the above passage, which is mentioned in the context of very specific remedies, is "allegorical".

As Larry David would say, INTERESTING....

Gittin 70a:
"If one does the following six things [together], he will die immediately: if he comes weary from a journey, lets blood and has a bath and drinks himself drunk and lies down to sleep on the floor and has marital intercourse. R. Johanan said: That is, if he does them in this order; Abaye said: If he does them in this order he will die; if not in this order he will fall ill. Is that so? Did not [a certain] Me'orath do three of these things to her slave and he died? — He was a weakling."

I suppose that this is allegorical, too.

jewish philosopher said...

The passage from Shabbat is presumably referring to deep mystical concepts beyond my understanding.

The passage from Gittin may be referring to medical knowledge which was accepted as valid in Talmudic times, just as a rabbi today might refer to today's science which may also sound silly in 2,000 years.

Abe said...

>>>The passage from Shabbat is presumably referring to deep mystical concepts beyond my understanding.

Who besides you conjurs mysticism in an ancient text that narrates sex between a woman and a snake? If this had been quoted from the Kama Sutra, it would have been deservedly dismissed as nothing more than an amusing curiosity. The talmud's inter-species sexual admonitions should of course be equally dismissed and no less amusing.
Stating that such concepts are beyond one's understsanding is typical of a religious fanatic's incapacity to separate fantasy from reality.

jewish philosopher said...

Abe, I think you're slipping into a couple of logical fallacies.

First of all, question begging.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Begging_the_question

Begging the question is a logical fallacy in which the proposition to be proved is assumed implicitly or explicitly in the premise.

You wish to prove that the Talmud is bogus because it contains silly stories. However the only proof you have that those stories are silly (and not profoundly mystical) is the assumption that the Talmud is bogus.

I think you're also touching on the Appeal to Ridicule.
http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/appeal-to-ridicule.html

The Appeal to Ridicule is a fallacy in which ridicule or mockery is substituted for evidence in an "argument." This sort of "reasoning" is fallacious because mocking a claim does not show that it is false.

These are a couple of the illogical arguments atheists commonly use to support their false beliefs.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2009/06/post-about-comments.html

Abe said...

>>>You wish to prove that the Talmud is bogus because it contains silly stories. However the only proof you have that those stories are silly (and not profoundly mystical) is the assumption that the Talmud is bogus.

You almost have it right but you do not follow through to the logical conclusion. The Talmud is bogus because the stories are silly, because if the talmud contained any real evidence for such supernatural tales, it wouldn't be deemed bogus. And so far, you've offered no such evidence other than the circular argument that the talmud must be correct for profoundly mystical reasons which you cannot identify.

>>>The Appeal to Ridicule is a fallacy in which ridicule or mockery is substituted for evidence in an "argument." This sort of "reasoning" is fallacious because mocking a claim does not show that it is false.

Wrong again. Appeal to ridicule in and of by itself is indeed a logical fallacy. However, when the proposition (women having sex with snakes) is devoid of any evidence whatsoever, reductio ad absurdum results. Similar beliefs in the Greek myth of Aphrodite who is born from Uranus’s genitals is is a prime example of your logical casuistry.
http://www.greeka.com/greek-mythology.htm
Ridicule becomes not the means to debunk the notion, it becomes the consequence.

Anon1 said...

"just as a rabbi today might refer to today's science which may also sound silly in 2,000 years."

I have no problem at all with a contextual/historical view of the Talmudic writings. This is obviously the case with the Gittin passage. It is in fact the case with ALL rabbinic writings. But you apply it selectively. So why not apply it to EVERYTHING the Talmudic rabbis wrote--historical, philosophical, religious, moral and metaphysical?

I wouldn't ridicule the snake thing, either, if you see the writing as a product of the times and culture. These passages prove that the rabbis possessed neither unique wisdom nor magical insights. Nobody says the Talmud is "bogus". But, you can't take anything they wrote too seriously, either, for the above reason.

Having said that, the Talmud is a great compedium of historical writing, musings, law and philosopophy of Rabbinic Judaism at a particular period of time. As such it should be studied and preserved, but not revered or accepted as authoritative for our times.

jewish philosopher said...

"if the talmud contained any real evidence for such supernatural tales, it wouldn't be deemed bogus."

The tales are often allegorical, as I've explained.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aggadah

"So why not apply it to EVERYTHING the Talmudic rabbis wrote"

Why not apply it to everything ancient Greek philosophers wrote? Because some of their beliefs were erroneous does not mean that all were. Are you trying to argue that we should not give charity because the Talmudic rabbis were not up to speed on modern science?

I think that the legal writings of the the Talmud, the Oral Law, are based on a sound and convincing tradition.

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

Anon1 said...

"Are you trying to argue that we should not give charity because the Talmudic rabbis were not up to speed on modern science?"

Not really. Its that they didn't innovate about charity any more than they did about Temple and animal sacrifice. They borrowed from civilizations around them.

The rabbis did not possess unique wisdom, and if, by virtue of our discovery and knowledge, we have more informed insights about history, human nature or any other matter, our reason would overule them, just as it does with the Greek philosophers. We don't cling to Plato's forms as "truth". He was a great thinker in his day, but not in our day.

jewish philosopher said...

"They borrowed from civilizations around them."

At their time and place the primary form of entertainment was brutal gladiatorial combat. Charity was unknown.

"The rabbis did not possess unique wisdom"

They possessed the Torah, a book of unparalleled wisdom.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2009/06/gods-wisdom.html

Hector said...

"Does any other ancient book contains such noble concepts? "

Is that a question, or is it really an answer?

We know you mean it as an answer. But you should know that this approach of "we are superior" or "our books are superior" has proven to be a gargantuan flop on your blog. It might just work at your Shabbos table, but not here. Please reconsider your approach!

jewish philosopher said...

What makes you say that?

Larry Tanner said...

"What makes you say that?"

It wasn't my comment, but I suspect the answer is that the "noble concepts" of the Talmud often refer back to a collection of texts that ultimately are false.

See "Why the Bible Is False": http://larrytanner.blogspot.com/2009/11/why-bible-is-false.html

Hector said...

Can you name a reader who was hitherto not convinced we Jews are superior in some way now convinced that we are superior?

Listen, I kinda agree that Observant Jews are superior in some ways (statistically speaking, that is), but (except for this comment) I keep it to myself.

"Mi k'amcha Yisrael" should stay in Hashem's tefillin, and in certain venues where it is receptive. Have you found it to be receptive on your blog?

jewish philosopher said...

Larry, I think you're proofs are basically just question begging

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Begging_the_question

Begging the question is a logical fallacy in which the proposition to be proved is assumed implicitly or explicitly in the premise.

You wish to prove that the Torah is bogus because it contains silly stories. However the only proof you have that those stories are silly (and did not really happen) is the assumption that the Torah is bogus.

Larry Tanner said...

"Larry, I think you're proofs are basically just question begging."

Incorrect. I have not assumed that the Torah is bogus. Instead, I have reasoned that the 20 examples I use go against physcial law and have no independent support.

Physical impossibility and lack of outside support are what make the stories "silly," to use your word, not the facile assumption that the Torah is bogus.

Physical science, biological science, anthropology, archaeology, textual studies, and historical research all independently converge to support the idea that the impossible things in the Bible probably did not in fact happen.

Now, you may pooh-pooh these multiple lines of evidence. OK, but what is your evidence? I have yet to see any evidence at all. Refuted analogies (such as the watchmaker) are not evidence in favor of the specific examples I cite. Anecdotes are not evidence. "I don't think it's possible any other way" is not evidence.

The most reasonable view by far is that the Bible asserts some things actually happened that did not. The Bible, therefore, tells lies. Unfortunately, these lies are often the central points of faith for the religious adherent, so if one doesn't accept the lies as true, then one can hardly accept the religion as true.

I should add that it's a very good thing the Bible isn't true. If it were, not even you would escape the wrath of God or Jesus or Mohammed or Vishnu or whichever demiurge was behind it all.

jewish philosopher said...

No, I'm sorry, however you are merely question begging. You're basically saying: I know there is no God. This is proven by the fact that miracles never happen. And I know that miracles never happen because there is no God.

Imagine me blogging: God wrote the Torah. This is proven because the Torah says God wrote it. And since God wrote it, this must be the truth,

Larry Tanner said...

"No, I'm sorry, however you are merely question begging. You're basically saying: I know there is no God. This is proven by the fact that miracles never happen. And I know that miracles never happen because there is no God."

I'm not 'basically' saying anything.

I don't know that there is a God. I don't know that there aren't fairies. I don't know that Mohammed didn't fly upon a winged horse.

But I know there's no significant evidence for genuine miracles.

Here's a recent story about Jesus appearing in a woman's iron: http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2009/11/28/methuen_woman_sees_likeness_of_jesus_on_iron/

I assume you accept this miracle?

"Imagine me blogging: God wrote the Torah. This is proven because the Torah says God wrote it. And since God wrote it, this must be the truth."

This is exactly what you are blogging.

jewish philosopher said...

I'm going to try this one more time:

You write:

Why the Bible Is False
Here, then, are ten impossibilities in the Hebrew Scriptures.
(2) Genesis 5:5 – Adam lived 930 years. Methuselah (Genesis 5:27) lived 969 years and holds the record. Such life spans for human beings are impossible.


In other words:

The Bible is false. I know this because Genesis 5:27 states that someone lived to be 969 years old. This would constitute a miracle. I know that miracles cannot happen because I know there is no God who could could perform miracles. Although the Bible says God does exist, I know that there is no God because the Bible is false.


This is a logical fallacy because your conclusion is based upon the conclusion itself - known as "begging the question".

This is one of many logical fallicies atheists constantly employ to support their false beliefs. It would be nice if some creative atheists could come up with some new ones.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2009/06/post-about-comments.html

"This is exactly what you are blogging. "

Where?

Anonymous said...

JP - hey aren't you the asshole that goes around picking fights with teenage girls?

I hope you enjoy boiling semen.

-Gonzo

jewish philosopher said...

Gonzo, I'm not sure but I think this may be a case of mistaken identity.

I happen to actually be a very distinguished Talmudic scholar and Jewish thinker who is devoted to promoting truth and real happiness; fighting lies and harmful addictions.

Larry Tanner said...

"The Bible is false. I know this because Genesis 5:27 states that someone lived to be 969 years old. This would constitute a miracle. I know that miracles cannot happen because I know there is no God who could could perform miracles. Although the Bible says God does exist, I know that there is no God because the Bible is false.

This is a logical fallacy because your conclusion is based upon the conclusion itself - known as 'begging the question'."

Tha fallacy you are making is mis-representing my argument.

Why should I assume that the report of Adam living 930 years is correct? Why should I entertain the very idea of a miracle when there is absolutely no evidence to support it?

Do you think I should consider a miracle in every situation just because you say so?

You think you've scored some sort of point by telling me I've ruled our "God did it" in advance. But I have not ruled "God did it" out.

There's no case for ruling it in. As soon as you rule in "God did it," then you must also rule in that Jesus had a message for that woman in Mass. If so, then now you must believe that Jesus is a real, supernatural dude. You must consider that a divine miracle happened on this woman's iron. Hallelujah!

Give some solid reasons for ruling in miracle/divinity and I'll happily add it to the checklist. But you've conveniently avoided providing any positive evidence. So again, what's your evidence for Adam or any human being living to over 900 years of age?

Just give some evidence and this all goes away. You can't, though, because you have none.

Here's how you beg the question all the time:

"The Bible is true. I know this because Genesis 5:27 states that someone lived to be 969 years old. This would constitute a miracle. I know that miracles can happen because I know there is a God who can perform miracles. The Bible says God does exist, I know that there is a God because the Bible is true."

You assume in advance that the Bible is true because God exists. And you assume that God exists because the Bible is true.

So, stop projecting your circular reasoning onto me. A text that gets its facts wrong is false. The Bible gets its facts wrong (I gave only ten from the Hebrew Scriptures, but I could have gone on and on). Therefore, the Bible is false. My syllogism has nothing to do with God.

Those noble concepts in the Talmud? They're great. Freely giving money and time to the less fortunate surely is a wonderful thing. But so what? We Jews didn't invent charity and we certainly didn't perfect it.

I think I'll be more charitable to myself and go back to ignoring this blog.

Larry Tanner said...

"I hope you enjoy boiling semen."

Lots of semen, urine and excrement in the Talmud.

jewish philosopher said...

"Tha fallacy you are making is mis-representing my argument."

No I'm not you are. Instead of:

Why the Bible Is False
Here, then, are ten impossibilities in the Hebrew Scriptures.

You should say:

Why the Bible Is Not Yet A Proven Fact
Here, then, are ten facts unproven by any external evidence in the Hebrew Scriptures.


As far as proof of the Torah goes, click on this:

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2006/12/truth-of-judaism.html

"Lots of semen, urine and excrement in the Talmud."

As in real life.

Alex said...

Larry wrote:"I should add that it's a very good thing the Bible isn't true. If it were, not even you would escape the wrath of God or Jesus or Mohammed or Vishnu or whichever demiurge was behind it all."

That's an incredibly narrow viewpoint. You mention only punishment but leave out reward. Why?

Larry Tanner said...

"That's an incredibly narrow viewpoint. You mention only punishment but leave out reward. Why?"

Well, most everyone in the world -past and present - would be punished for having been wrong. Praying to the wrong god in the wrong god in the wrong way with the wrong diet with the wrong sex and purity habits.

Indeed, if you collect all of human history going back thousands upon thousands of years, perhaps only the smallest fraction of humanity got it right. Everyone else burns.

So I don't think the viewpoint is narrow at all. It's perfectly consistent with what all religions teach to their little babes and born-atheist children.

But if you like I will mention that a small fraction of people will go to heaven and have guilt-free sex and eat pork or whatever the standard schpeel is.

But, oh by the way, I assume you have positive evidence for the existence of a realm in another dimension where immortal sould might reside?

jewish philosopher said...

"and born-atheist children"

Wrong on that, but let's not let facts get in the way of Marxist-Leninist atheistic dogma.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/religion/3512686/Children-are-born-believers-in-God-academic-claims.html

Anonymous said...

Larry:


If we are going to reject any body of literature because it contains impossible things then we are going to have to reject science. Science tells us that a universe came from nothing, and somehow fine-tuned itself to accomodate life. Then there is dark matter that nobody can see, but we know its there. Then there are particles that are both particles and waves at the same time. These particles also know when they are being watched. Then of course, there is magic soup turning into bacteria, bacteria turning into blue whales, and epidermic needles turning all by themselves into exquisite little outboard motors. A person living 969 years is nothing compared to this. And why is it impossible for someone to live that long, anyway? It doesn't happen that often, but that doesn't mean that it is impossible.

Abe said...

>>>The passage from Shabbat is presumably referring to deep mystical concepts beyond my understanding.

You still havn't explained what these deep mystical concepts in Tractate Shabbat 110a convey.
Be nice to us unschooled tamudic ignoramuses. Please enlighten us regarding the deeper allegorical meaning of the libidinous snake that had the hots for that unfortuante lady. Surely a man of your keen insight and scholarly philosophical expertise would know.
And if, by chqance, there were a trace of torah wisdom that escaped your encyclopedic knowledge, surely a man of your perspicacity must know of greater intellects to whom you can turn for that information.
Please hurry. My girlfriend refuses to enter the serpentarium at the Bronx Zoo with me until you respond.

jewish philosopher said...

"You still havn't explained what these deep mystical concepts in Tractate Shabbat 110a convey."

Torah is like science. The great thing is that although there are many mysteries, we are constantly trying to dig deeper and understand more and more.

"My girlfriend refuses to enter the serpentarium"

Then dump her. She sounds way too uncool for a man like you Abe.

Anon1 said...

"The great thing is that although there are many mysteries, we are constantly trying to dig deeper and understand more and more."

Sounds like a nice mantra, but upon a little reflection you can see that this is bunk.

Think about what this means: that the rabbis (or god) would willfully say things to people, knowing that their contemporaries as well people thousands of years later would not be able to understand them.

This is a silly and ridiculous claim. Throw this into the trash heap along with other profound claims, like that god purposefully placed fossils in the world to make it look older than it is.

So-called "scholars" of every religion are just experts in their own brand of BS, with nothing to contribute to mankind.

jewish philosopher said...

God's wisdom is infinite and there is no end to the deep mysteries hidden in the Torah.

"So-called "scholars" of every religion are just experts in their own brand of BS, with nothing to contribute to mankind."

Truer words were never spoken. Like pious atheists jabbering about worms turning into people. What bs! Lol!

Larry Tanner said...

"If we are going to reject any body of literature because it contains impossible things then we are going to have to reject science."

What a silly statement! Science makes observations and hypotheses that can be reviewed, criticized, tested, confirmed, falsified, and modified.

It is perfectly consistent with known laws of physics for the universe to have "come from nothing." Here's a link to a video lecture from a researcher whose area of study is this very question of "something from nothing": http://larrytanner.blogspot.com/2009/10/how-everything-came-from-nothing-no-god.html

Once again, you are unwilling to accept scientific hypotheses for what they are, hypotheses. You are unwilling to discuss the mathematical, physical, logical and philosophical bases of the apparently strange ideas that scientists will sometimes propose.

Yet you are so arrogant as to declare yourself right and your belief right. You reject science (which you clearly avoid studying in an unbiased fashion) even though you rely on it every day. You reject the claims of other religions (do you believe Jesus appeared on the iron? what about the Koran being written on that little child?) even though you have no less reason to believe them than you do to believe the claims of your own religion.

You uncritically accept a six-day complete creation, men living for 1000 years, the sun and moon 'stopping,' the sea suddenly parting and then returning to normal, earthquakes on demand, the ability of the dead to return to live, the existence of a realm in another dimension where immortal souls go to spend eternity, the ability of people to heal the sick with magic, the ability of people to levitate, a man-made boat containing all gazillions of kinds of life-forms on earth floating alone in a global flood that mercilessly killed everyone else, and so on. All of this bible stuff, you are fine with. That stuff is no problem at all.

Heck, you don't even mind that most of humanity and land-based life would have died in the flood. You consider it a virtue that Abraham raised not a peep to have his son saved. You say nothing about Jacob's treachery against his own brother or about God's injustice against Adam and Eve. I suspect it's because deep down you know these are but fairy tales.

Yet, you utterly reject out of hand any observation from history, archaeology, textual analysis or anthropology that points toward the idea that the bible was written by men, collected by men, interpreted and re-interpreted by men, and codified into a religion by men who quite naturally would have theorized that a god "out there, somewhere" was the author of everything, including their personal and national destines.

So, you reject everything except your own parochial vision of the world. The rest of us reject the bible because it lies. The rest of us accept that the scientific method is the best tool we have to determine a true picture of our origins and our past. Science is the best way we know to generate explanations of the universe and how it works. Science offers the best methods we have ever devised to predict consequences of natural events and of human actions.

Religion offers nothing but institutionalized and socially funded fantasy. It lies about our past and our origins, it explains nothing about how the universe works, and it allows for no predictions of any useful sort.

If you want to reject science, then go live in a cave with Osama bin Laden and stay there. Otherwise, you accept science despite your explicit protests and you tactily reject religion, which you adopt only as an egocentric tool for propping up a vain vision of yourself as a righteous and special person.

http://larrytanner.blogspot.com/2009/12/god-and-i.html

Larry Tanner said...

"Torah is like science. The great thing is that although there are many mysteries, we are constantly trying to dig deeper and understand more and more."

Actually, Torah is like a text. It is subject to interpretation. Interpretation is a funny thing because people can come up with all sorts of brilliant interpretations that rely not at all upon reality.

http://larrytanner.blogspot.com/2009/11/against-interpretation.html

Larry Tanner said...

"Worms cannot spontaneously become people."

Can you please give the specific quote, with proper context, for your source that tells you worms spontaneously turned into people?

Here's a nice image/timeline showing fossils of the human family: http://berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/2009/10/images/ardi-timelineHR.jpg

jewish philosopher said...

"Torah is like a text"

It is God's infinite wisdom distilled into a parchment scroll. Of course it can be misinterpreted. You need a teacher to guide you. (See http://www.partnersintorah.org/)

However as Avot 5:25 teaches "Ben Bag-Bag used to say of the Torah: Turn it and turn it again, for everything is in it."

http://www.shechem.org/torah/avot.html#chap5

Larry, I invite you to get started!

"Religion offers nothing but institutionalized and socially funded fantasy."

The Torah is truth. It simply teaches that there is a God and He can and sometimes has done anything.

I see no contradictions between science and Torah.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2008/10/biblical-deluge.html
http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2008/09/how-i-understand-genesis.html
http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2008/02/torah-and-archaeology.html

Evolution lies. Worms cannot spontaneously become people.

Alex said...

"So I don't think the viewpoint is narrow at all."

Nope, Larry, it's still narrow. You forget about teshuvah.

Larry Tanner said...

"You need a teacher to guide you."

Where does this teacher get her or his authority?

"It [the Torah] simply teaches that there is a God and He can and sometimes has done anything."

That's a nice hypothesis, that there is a God. But there's no credible evidence to show it's true and there are mountains of evidence that suggest it's false.

jewish philosopher said...

Larry, as far as worms go, from where do you think the first fish supposedly evolved. Be care where you walk Larry,you may be squashing your grandfather.

As far as God goes, the evidence is everywhere. There is no other plausable explanation for life.

As far as teachers are concerned, every complex subject requires one. Would you go to a self taught cardiologist?

Anonymous said...

Larry, I already talked about that video on the big bang. And, to the best of my knowledge, that person is the only person who uses that approach, with ggod reason. Other attempts to explain the big bang are banginf branes, and the ossilating universe. Both have big problems.

Did I say I reject science? I don't think so. In fact, I believe in the big bang. It isn't a problem for me that it goes against first thermodynamics because I don't have a big problem with miracles. I just expect you to be consistant.

And I think that we can differentiate between science and technology. Scienctist don't have a very ggod understanding of what radio waves are. Y'know, are they waves, particles, etc. Yet they still make cell phones.

And you seem to have a big problem wiht the Torah's morality. I'd just like to know what is your basis for saying what the Torah says is immoral. What is your basis for saying anything is immoral?

Anonymous said...

Oh, and Larry, this is the part where we insult each other? After all I'm an "egocentric person." How am I rejectiong religion when I put on tefillin everyday? And I told my supervisor I have to leave early for shabbos. And I must say that it is not very scientific of you to make personal comments without knowing me at all. Your coming to conclusions based on no evidence.

Oh, before I forget. Yo mama's so fat that last time she wore a flowered dress, people thought she was the botanical gardens.

Larry Tanner said...

Sorry, I asked for a source. Or do you just make up this stuff as you go along?

As for teachers, I asked wher the teacher gets her or his authority. or, again, do the teachers just make it up as they go along?

Perhaps you can express exactly what the God hypothesis explains about the origin of life. Is God himself/herself life? Where does God come from? What did God do to cause life and how? What makes the God hypothesis more plausible than other models? Are you even aware of other hypotheses for abiogenesis? On what scientific grounds do you dismiss these? Above all, how do you know what you claim to know and how can the rest of us test to see if you are correct?

jewish philosopher said...

About the worms check this
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/03/990322062150.htm

Teachers learn from other teachers. We have a tradition extending back to Sinai.

"Where does God come from?"

God is a transcendent being who has existed eternally.

"What makes the God hypothesis more plausible than other models?"

There are no other plausible models.

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

Anonymous said...

Larry:

The problem with the protein first model of abiogenesis is that small molecules such as amino acids are don't just form large molecules spontaneously. And it is really hard to gte them to join in a watery environment becuae protein synthesis is a dehydration process. You are adding water to water, so diffusion is working against you. And you have to get the exact right configuration of amino acids to get the right function. The odds against that are really big. In a small protein it would be something like
20^100. And proteins get their power from their shape. You have to get the ur-protein to fold exactly the right way. And the RNA first hyposthesis has all these problems as well as the fact that nucleosides are veruy big, and hard to make in a natural environment. And ribose and the nucleosides only form under different chemical conditions. And you need a lot of the nucleosides floating around in the moagic soup for the RN?A to replicate with.

Anonymous said...

And while where on the subject of the credibility of teachers, scientists have lost a great deal of credibility in recent weeks. If a whole bunch of scientists can lie about weather data, who knows what else they're lying about? I just googled "scienfic fraud." I got over 100,000 hits.

Larry Tanner said...

Nathan, In all your ranting (and lying) you missed the big question I posed to you.

How do you determine which miracles are real and which ar not. You can't prove that Jesus didn't appear on that woman's iron, and you say you're all into miracles, so when will you arrive to worship at the woman's iron? If you don't accept the miracle, then why not?

A couple over near Russia - sorry, I forget which one - claimed that verses of the Koran appeared magically inscribed in the skin of their young child. This is clearly a miracle attesting to the truth of the Koran and Mohammed, no? Why have you not gone to mosque yet?

Seriously, I'm really asking you to explain why you have no trouble with some miracles but seem to ignore others.

"God is a transcendent being who has existed eternally."

You're begging the question.

JP, you give the link to that ScienceDaily article from 1999. Here's a quote: "It has generally been thought that most bilaterians arose during a dramatic diversification of animal life (dubbed the Cambrian explosion) 540-500 million years ago. That's because the ancestors of nearly all major modern animal groups, or phyla, made an appearance in the fossil record during this period. However, evidence has been growing that there was an extended and fruitful period before the Cambrian when bilateral organisms may have arisen and diversified. The new study by Jaume Baguñà, of the University of Barcelona, and his colleagues supports this theory by identifying a group of contemporary flatworms called the Acoela as the living descendants of an early lineage from this pre-Cambrian time. (Flatworms, several of which are parasites, are only distantly related to, and much simpler than, the familiar earthworms.)"

I'm sorry, where does it say that earthworms spontaneously turned into human beings, as you like to claim?

Or were you just lying again to cover over your lack of evidence?

Abe said...

>>>God's wisdom is infinite and there is no end to the deep mysteries hidden in the Torah.


Don't you have any other useless bromides with which you can entertain us? That one is really trite and is really getting boring.
You might try "Yechi Adoneinu Moreinu v'Rabbeinu Melech haMoshiach l'olam vo'ed!"

Or, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."

Or, "Tippecanoe and Tyler too",

Maybe "First things first" or "One day at a time"

Martin Luther King Jr. undoubtedly had your kind in mind when he penned: "Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and consciencious stupidity."

jewish philosopher said...

"How do you determine which miracles are real and which ar not."

Let me put my two cents in. How do you anything happened or didn't? You consider the likelihood of it happening and the strength of the evidence that it happened. Did Tiger Woods wife really hit him with a golf club? Probably. Did the Zionists fake the Holocaust to make money? Probably not.

Let's see how the Torah looks in light of that:

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2006/12/truth-of-judaism.html

"You're begging the question."

How?

"where does it say that earthworms spontaneously turned into human beings"

The article implies that flatworms are our ancestors.

"Don't you have any other useless bromides with which you can entertain us?"


And once again, the Appeal to Ridicule. It is a fallacy in which ridicule or mockery is substituted for evidence in an "argument." This sort of "reasoning" is fallacious because mocking a claim does not show that it is false.

http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/appeal-to-ridicule.html

Larry Tanner said...

"Let me put my two cents in. How do you anything happened or didn't? You consider the likelihood of it happening and the strength of the evidence that it happened. Did Tiger Woods wife really hit him with a golf club? Probably. Did the Zionists fake the Holocaust to make money? Probably not."

But I'm talking about miracles - your concept. By definition, miracles are unlikely, are they not?

You're sure that the miracle of a man living 930 years happened. You're sure that the miracle of a 6-day complete creation occurred. You have no less evidence that Jesus appeared recently on a woman's iron and that Koran verses magically appeared on the skin of a child. Do you accept these as miracles or not? Why?

You have dodged this question long enough. Please give a direct, well-considered answer.

"The article implies that flatworms are our ancestors."

In a manner of speaking, yes. But you keep using this word "spontaneously." Upon what basis do you use this word, or have you just been lying?

jewish philosopher said...

I think my post answers the question of the Torah's likelihood.


Spontaneously means :"developing or occurring without apparent external influence, force, cause, or treatment"

You believe worms spontaneously became people; no God involved.

Larry Tanner said...

"Spontaneously means :'developing or occurring without apparent external influence, force, cause, or treatment.'"

But there was an apparent external influence, force, cause, or treatment. It's called evolution. Factors such as descent with modification, random mutation, symbioisis, competition, genetic drift, natural/enviornmental occurences, and others all have contributed to the evolution of species.

So you are incorrect to say that I "believe worms spontaneously became people." There was nothing spontaneous about evolution, according to the definition you are using.

If you insist that evolution equals "spontaneous becoming," then you are flatly and completely wrong. You must either be delusional or deliberately lying.

But you are correct on the "no God involved" part.

Glad to have this cleared up.

However, you continue to evade the question of miracles and what specific criteria you use (1) to accept a man living 930 years and a 6-day complete creation and (2) to reject that Jesus appeared on a woman's iron and that Koran verses magically appeared on the skin of a child.

I guess I can't blame you for dodging. Does this sum it up your real thinking on miracles? "I accept what I believe because that's what I believe. I reject any miracles from other religions because I don't believe them."

jewish philosopher said...

If a bunch of weeds appear in my yard, that's spontaneous because they appeared without the involvement an intelligent agent.

If a new car appears in my driveway, that is not spontaneous because someone put it there.

According to you, worms spontaneously became people.

Regarding miracles, once we accept the Watchmaker Analogy, the idea of God doing things ("miracles") becomes far more plausible. I argue that at a public revelation at some point in history is almost expectable, and this validates the Torah.

Bear in mind that all scientists were creationists until Darwin.

See this 1860 review of Origin by the New York Times.
http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=9E01E0DC133DE73ABC4051DFB566838B679FDE

Or this quote:

The Darwinian revolution was not merely the replacement of one scientific theory by another, as had been the scientific revolutions in the physical sciences, but rather the replacement of a world view, in which the supernatural was accepted as a normal and relevant explanatory principle, by a new world view in which there was no room for supernatural forces. Ernst Mayr (1904 – 2005) Professor of Zoology at Harvard University Nature March 22, 1974 p.285

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

Anonymous said...

Larry:

I accept the miracles of the Torah because

#1. The Kuzari. If the Torah is not true, then somebodywent to the entire Jewish Nation and said "You have to accept this book as your authentic history because G-d appeared to your grandparents." And the entire Jewish people accepted without asking "then why didn't my gradfather tell me?"

#2. People tell me that the fact that modern medicine works so well is proof that science is true. Well, the Torah works as intended as a guide for living a good life, so it must be true.

#3. The fact that Humans are moral, and need religion and spirituality indicates that G-d wanst us to be moral and spiritual. The best way that I know of to be a moral, spiritual person is the Torah. So it seems reasonable that G-d gave us the Torah as a guide to what He wanst from us.

#4. My father loves me, and wouldn't lie to me. He told me his father told him that the Torah is true. Same thing with my Rebbe.

I accept the miracles of science when I examine the evidence and it seems strong enough to me. Evolution doesn't pass, in my opinion.

Larry Tanner said...

Nathan,

I notice that not once do you mention accepting any of the miracles of the Torah based on anything tangible related to the events themselves.

Basically, you rely on people you arbitrarily accept as authorities.

Your logic in #3 is particularly puzzling: "Humans are moral...humans need religion...therefore (my) God."

I hope Bernie Madoff didn't speak with your father, or both you and dad surely will have been swindled.

Abe said...

>>>And once again, the Appeal to Ridicule. It is a fallacy in which ridicule or mockery is substituted for evidence in an "argument." This sort of "reasoning" is fallacious because mocking a claim does not show that it is false.

The appeal to ridicule wasn't deployed to invalidate your arguments. Ridicule here has simply become ancillary and consequential to the your arguments for god's existence. Its like enjoying a walk through a chicken coop on a hot august day. No one in their right mind would deliberately do that. The consequences are that you're definitely going to smell of manure when you get out. Arguing god's existence using fallacious logic and specious inferences leaves the advocate similarly caricatured.

jewish philosopher said...

Abe, I have more fun ridiculing Darwin. He predicted that the Nordic race would soon kill out the Inferior negro.

What color is the leader of the free world today?

Lol!

Abe said...

>>>Abe, I have more fun ridiculing Darwin. He predicted that the Nordic race would soon kill out the Inferior negro.

Lacking the basic prerequisites of scientific comprehension, its quite uncomplicated for you to deceptively advance distortions and outright lies to justify a murderous god and his dicatatorial torah.
Darwin, by the standard of his time, was quite liberal. He never not advocated extermination of other races, he just saw them as different and less advanced.

"...The persistent misidentification of evolution with economic exploitation, racism, euthanasia, eugenics, infanticide, and genocide all depend on someone's persistent confusion about the vital difference between social and scientific Darwinism, that is, between social biological determinism--not a science but a discreditable doctrine--and biological evolution--an accurate and highly reliable science. By mendaciously ignoring this vital distinction, anti-evolutionists try to discredit evolution by illogically associating it with historically disreputable ideologies..."
http://www.texscience.org/reviews/darwinism-racism.htm

jewish philosopher said...

Darwin was the founder of Fascism; a dangerous lunatic. Calling him a scientist is like calling Marx a scientist.

Abe said...

>>>Darwin was the founder of Fascism; a dangerous lunatic. Calling him a scientist is like calling Marx a scientist.

I suppose that had to be. God was Darwin's darling and idol. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

jewish philosopher said...

Darwin was probably a closet atheist.

Abe said...

>>>Darwin was probably a closet atheist.

Lies or terminal stupidity? Probably a confluence of both -- an unfortunate consequence fundamentalist chareidism.

"...Darwin however, insisted that he had never been an atheist in the sense of denying the existence of God – a point sometimes overlooked by his fundamentalist critics and his atheistic champions... He frequently confessed his conviction that this wonderful universe could not be the product of chance. But, typically, he would add a nuance. He could not think the universe the product of chance alone, but nor could he look at its many life forms and see in them evidence of design...
http://www.issr.org.uk/darwin-religion.asp

jewish philosopher said...

In darwin's time atheism was still very radical. In addition I believe he was sensitive to his devout wife.

Is there any evidence that Darwin ever prayed?

Abe said...

>>>In addition I believe he was sensitive to his devout wife.

And I beleive that sensitivity had no effect on his intelectual honesty which marshalled his circumspection in his elucidation of natural selection.

Abe said...

>>>Is there any evidence that Darwin ever prayed?

I believe he must have. Only god's approbation could have launched such a renowned scientific achievement as The Origin of the Species. I suppose this might be a defense for god's existence.
Yes, you can detect god's handiwork in Darwin's masterpiece.
Oh, the logic of it all !!

jewish philosopher said...

Darwin's beliefs were somewhat unclear.

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki?search=Charles+Darwin%27s+views+on+religion

Abe said...

>>>Darwin's beliefs were somewhat unclear.

Dan l'cav zchus. That being said, it now becomes incontrovertible that god's imprimatur is manifest in Darwin's masterpiece. It was all in god's plan and Darwin was on a mission from god. How can you be so theisticaly blind as not to see it?

jewish philosopher said...

He did not attend church after age 40.

Anonymous said...

Larry:

Larry, I said that the Torah seems to address the human need for spirtituality and morality ebtter than any other system. Humans can't seem to make somehting that works so well. That's evidence, (not proof, there's a difference) that its origin is divine.

And by tangible do you mean something external to the Torah? People accept what scientists say wihtout any external corroboration merely because scientists said it. If the Torah is divine, then it shoud be at least as credible as scientists. Though isn't saying much. And if exernal corroboration is mecessary, there's the Ipuwar papyurus, the Mycenae grave stella, the El Arish stone, etc.

Anonymous said...

Abe:

Darwin said in chapters 5 and 6 of 'The Descent of Man" that he expected the Europeans races to exterminate the less highly evolved non-Europeans. He compaped that to humans exterminating the apes. Most religious people of the Victorain age believed that all humans were descended from Adam, and that a non-European accepted Christianity, they were part of the select group. That's what the white mans burdern was all about. Now believing that a person is less highly evolved, as did Darwin, does not allow for the possibility of conversion, only extermination.

Anonymous said...

You see, if you say that people are inferior because of their religion, that still leaves open the possibility of coversion. FOr example, Christians in Europe who hated Jews were happy to accept Jewish converts. The Nazis, who hated Jews because they considered Jews genetically inferior in a Darwinian sense, did not even consider conversion. Extermination was the only logical approach, given their Darwinian thinking.

Shalmo said...

"Islam and Christianity plagiarized Judaism's belief in charity."

JP this is as absurd as it gets. What you call Judaism aka Rabbinic Judaism was developed from pharisees post Islam and took much influence from it. Quranic arabic is foundational for the Torah you use today because the masoretic torah is a 9th century invention. where does the hebrew in it come from? not from the DSS. learn a bit more on the torah's development

"In other parts of the world, I am not aware of any actual giving of alms to the poor."

EVERY religion teaches social welfare. There is not a sinlge religion that does not teach it.