Friday, March 19, 2010

Jewish Literature - Seeing The Effects of Sinai


[a page of the Talmud surrounded by commentaries]

One of the unique features of Judaism is the structure of Judaic literature.

Judaic literature was written in five primary stages with authors in the later stages never contradicting those in the earlier stages:

- The prophets; 1300 BCE to 300 BCE.
- The early rabbis; 300 BCE to 200 CE
- The Talmudic rabbis; 200 CE to 500 CE
- The Talmudic commentaries; 500 CE to 1500 CE
- The commentators on the Talmudic commentaries; 1500 CE to present.

Other religions have two stages – the founder and the commentators on the founder. There is the New Testament and canon law, the Koran and the Sharia, etc. The founder of course has special importance, however after him any great scholar is entitled to offer an opinion. In the Catholic Church, for example, Doctors of the Church continue to be added up to the present.

In Judaism, a rabbi living in 1000 CE would never have considered contradicting a rabbi who lived in 100 CE and likewise a rabbi living in 1600 CE would never contradict a rabbi living in 1000 CE. Needless to say, no one after 300 BCE claimed to have the gift of prophesy. This is why the canon of the Bible was closed. There was universal reverence for the sages of each earlier era. This is in spite of the fact that since the destruction of the First Temple, 2,400 years ago, the Jewish people have not possessed any central authority capable of declaring and enforcing a new era of Judaic literature. These eras seem to have formed spontaneously because of a universal recognition that current leaders did not possess the spiritual and academic greatness of earlier ones.

In my opinion, this is clearly proof of the great spiritual level which the Jewish people were elevated to 3,300 years ago at Mt. Sinai and from which they have been gradually descending ever since.

52 comments:

Isaac Bashevis Zinger said...


In Judaism, a rabbi living in 1000 CE would never have considered contradicting a rabbi who lived in 100 CE and likewise a rabbi living in 1600 CE would never contradict a rabbi living in 1000 CE.


That just shows how little you know. Plenty of achronim had machlakot with rishonim. Your assertion flies in the face of shivim panim L'Torah.

jewish philosopher said...

No, I don't think so.

http://www.faqs.org/faqs/judaism/FAQ/03-Torah-Halacha/section-52.html

Anonymous said...

YOURE a disgrace to the jewish people, your the ideal sterotype of say one thing and do another. your why all other jews hate orthdox jewish people.

Meir said...

You can think whatever, Mr. Stein, but Haredi Judaism today pretty much universally contradicts the Rambam (Hilchos Talmud Torah 3:10)

zy anon said...

This is a succint summary of the development of Jewish Law.

Having said that, your idealization of the ancient period, of "spiritual greatness" and central authority is a bit naive, historically speaking.

Honestly, throughout the period documented in the Bible and Talmud, Jewish life for most people was rife with violence, sectarianism, ignorance, decent into degeneracy and chaos, and tragedy. Nobody except the rabbinic/scribe elite had access to any texts, so most people were ignorant and illiterate.

The texts themselves, as well as independent sources, confirm this.

Hardly a golden period of spiritual and academic greatness. But I know that ultra-orthodox Jews love to wax romantic about the wonderful times of the past.

Furthermore, even though no rabbi will admit that he can contradict a sage from a previous generation, the need to adapt Torah and Halachah to changing times requires them to do so, so they come up with convenient loopholes and legal fictions to get around the problem.

Why not be honest and say that previous rabbis wrote for their generations, and that we are free to decide for ours? Why feel bound by an irrelevant or erroneous ruling from a thousand years ago?

zy anon said...

As a follow up to my previous post, I hereby propose the following list of changes, that if orthodox rabbis had any balls, they would enact.

We should cancel the following laws/prohibitions because of irrelevancy:

1. Shmita
2. 6-3-1 hrs between meat and milk
3. Kitniyot
4. Sacrifices and all temple matters
5. Interest on loans
6. Electricity and carrying on Shabbat
7. Yovel
8. Cancel Tish'a B'Av and other minor fasts
9. Yayin Nesech (gentile wine)
10. Distinction between Jew and Gentile regarding Shabbat laws
11. "spilling seed in vain"
12. The extra 7 cleans days of Niddah (due to confusion with Zava)
13. Considering hymenal blood as menstrual
14. Trumah and Ma'aser
15. Pidyon Ben
16. Shaving with a blade.
17. Morning blessings about not being a goy or a woman.
18. Women Rabbis
19. Requiring a "scribe" to write Torahs, Mezuzah, Tefillin.
20. Animal products for mitzvot (leather, shofar, etc)
21. Allowing conversions to Judaism without obligating observing mitzvot, but just allegiance to the Jewish people.

I'm sure many of you out there could think of others, but these are the ones that strike me as most illogical, irrelevant and/or morally embarrassing. Many of them we have loopholes for, so we don't really observe them anyway.

Personally, the above items make true orthodoxy unpalatable to me (theological issues aside)

The conservative movement has addressed some of these issues, but doesn't have the guts for others. The reform movement just throws out the baby with the bathwater.

I think that if the rabbis had the courage to make these changes, Orthodox Judaism could have been a universal religion, or we would have a billion followers instead of just 13 million.

jewish philosopher said...

Cooking up fake versions of Judaism to suit ones own tastes has been popular for thousands of years, probably since the writing of the Septuagint.

How does Christianity, in any of it's thousands of varieties, strike you? Or Islam?

zy anon said...

Perhaps world Judaism finds itself in the dismal state that its in--declining numbers, assimilation, discrimination and anti-semitism--due to its inability to adapt.

The "heredi" formula, in the perspective of history, has led to all of these things.

jewish philosopher said...

Well, true courage and honesty are rare, however I don't believe we will ever become extinct.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2010/01/eternal-jew.html

Also, I want to just explain this post a little more clearly. Jewish leaders in a later era may of course interpret the writings of leaders from an earlier era and they may also decide which opinion among earlier leaders is more correct and authoritative. However Jewish leaders in a later era will never challenge the spiritual and academic superiority of the earlier eras by completely overruling them.

To me, this is one of the most convincing proofs of the authenticity of the Sinai revelation and of the Oral Law. What else could this pattern result from, other than a gradual decline from a prior spiritual pinnacle?

ZY Anon said...

"What else could this pattern result from, other than a gradual decline from a prior spiritual pinnacle?"

From the rabbis saying so, in order to enforce compliance and resist change.

Besides, since this "decline" is an inevitable result of passage of time, isn't the whole system flawed? Could God not have foreseen this?

In other areas of human endeavor knowledge is added over time, but according to this, we get dumber.

When I was in yeshiva, this argument about the "doros are getting weaker" always struck me as idiotic and immoral-- valuing dead people above living flesh and blood.

I just read about the embarrassing Israeli government decision to move a new hospital ER away from the hospital because during construction they found some bones. The heredi Health Minister pushed for this, they disgust me. How shameful. Its like necrophilia, honoring the dead at the expense of the living.

jewish philosopher said...

"From the rabbis saying so, in order to enforce compliance and resist change."

And why is nothing similar found in other religions or cultures?

"Could God not have foreseen this?"

Sure He did. The Torah predicts the spiritual decline. Deut. 29:24

http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt0529.htm#24

Since you're such a big critic of Judaism, it's a shame you never bothered to learn much about it.

"I just read"

Don't believe everything you read.

ZY Anon said...

If god foresaw this, what kind of fackokte plan is that? Give people a "perfect" Torah, knowing that it will be forgotten and forsaken. He doesn't sound very wise, or sincere.

jewish philosopher said...

Well, maybe you have to keep reading, into Deut. 30

http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt0530.htm

ZY Anon said...

I know what it says.

Its very silly and not becoming of an all knowing and merciful god.

Besides, all of that was written later when that narrative was already happening.

The facts of the Jewish people speak for themselves.

He is a Failed God.

Let me clarify. I like being Jewish and I like Judaism. Just not yours.

ZY Anon said...

BTW the Israeli government decision about the graves is all over the Israeli media. Truly primitive, disgusting, embarrassing.

Its a good thing that Americans don't look too closely at how orthodox Jews behave when they're actually in charge of things, they would really despise us, justifiably. If I weren't Jewish I'd be an antisemite when I read stuff like this.

jewish philosopher said...

"I like being Jewish and I like Judaism."

Provided it doesn't obligate you to actually do anything.

"the Israeli government decision about the graves is all over the Israeli media"

The atheist Israeli media, which is dedicated to bashing Judaism and full of anti-Jewish rubbish.

zy anon said...

You can attack the media (which I do as well) but in this case the story is true.

What it reveals, along with many other religious issues, is that when the ultra-orthodox have their way, the country is run like the city of Chelm. Where else would you have:

1. A hospital ER not built due to ancient bones, and moved away from the hospital, at considerable expense.
2. 300,000 Israelis unable to get married because of "questionable religious status" (forcing them to go abroad to get married)
3. 300,000 Israelis, loyal citizens who serve in the army, who if killed in action can't be buried in a Jewish IDF cemetary along with their comrades.
4. Women sitting at the back of the public buses
5. Heredi politicians bringing a big supermarket chain and EL AL to their knees for operating on Shabbat.
6. tens of thousands of "kollel" students sit idly in yeshivas, unemployed, living off public money while evading army or national service.
7. Large subsidies given to families with many children (including Arab) thus encouraging and perpetuating the poverty and unemployment.
8. Once every seven years having to "sell" Israeli farms to Arabs to avoid Shmita, or, worse, buying only from Palestinians farmers.

These are but a few examples of ultra-orthodox Judaism taken to its logical conclusion. (The truth is that I don't blame the Heredim, but rather the secular for not standing up to them)

JP, don't take offense at this, but your posts and discussion reminds me of Chelm, too: While there is a certain internal logic to your arguments, the whole picture, including the premises, are completely upside down and foolish. And, like the wise men of Chelm, you are clueless as to how foolish you sound, and immune to the arguments of sober people.

I think I'll dig up my dusty old Chelm book and see what comparisons I can draw.

jewish philosopher said...

First of all, Israel is supposed to be a Jewish state, so it's not a big surprise that some laws are based on Jewish laws. Many American laws reflect Christian beliefs. I can't buy a bottle of wine on Sunday morning in New York State for example.

About the financial stuff, pork barrel is part of any democracy.

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

About neglecting medical emergencies, how do you feel about Hatzalah, the ultra-Orthodox ambulance service with a response time better than other services?

https://www.hatzalah.org/twotiered.php

zy anon said...

There is a difference between a minor inconvenience made in deference to religious sensitivities, as opposed to a major public hazard, impingement on individual rights and significant financial burden, which falls davka on other people not them.

Most of the Sunday blue laws have been repealed.

I don't claim that Heredim are bad people or do everything bad. They provide social support services, mainly to their own communities, and I don't criticise that (even though some could claim that it is a remnant of the european shtetl mentality when they couldn't trust the "goyim" for anything)

The problem is when the heredim get involved in politics and mix politics and religion. Then it becomes dirty. And since they are mostly non-zionist they don't take into consideration the needs of a state and its institutions, but just their own narrow needs.

jewish philosopher said...

I think this is what's called "lobbying"; which everyone thinks is evil unless they're doing it.

ZY Anon said...

Lobbying is OK if the underlying assumption that the state and government is legitimate, which is not true for the Heredim who are anti-Zionist. Those are the rules of the game. The Heredim cry poverty when demanding money for children and yeshivas, but suddenly there is no problem sucking up 150 million sheqels to move an ER away from a ancient graveyard. Its not their money, anyway, so why should they care?

They are truly parasites.

jewish philosopher said...

How about Israeli Arabs and Israeli Russian Orthodox and others? I guess they shouldn't vote either. Nor post-Zionist Israelis.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post-Zionism

Alex said...

ZY Anon wrote: "Perhaps world Judaism finds itself in the dismal state that its in--declining numbers, assimilation, discrimination and anti-semitism--due to its inability to adapt.

The "heredi" formula, in the perspective of history, has led to all of these things."

Aren't the people who assimilate the most the same group of people who you would say is the /most/ able to adapt?

In addition, do you have any proof behind your assertion?

jewish philosopher said...

I find that generally atheists have hormones; proof is irrelevant. ;-)

Shalmo said...

JP where did my comment go? Can you please just discuss what I said, rather than just deleting it.

And ZT Anon I actually agree with
Mr.Stein in that zionism is bad idea. For 60 years it has been a mess; it does not work for Jews, it most certainly does not work for arabs.

Israel was made due to fear of further persecutions. Well guess what, in the West at least, Jewry no longer face threats of extinction. Jews are accepted into all facets of American and Canadian life. With growing multicultural policies discrimination against any minority is decreasing in North America. If Jews need a homeland, then North America is it. Also Germany by law must facilitate Jewish immigration, which it indeed is doing and is a pulling spring for various Orthodox Jewish communities.

You are correct that intermarriage and assimilation are finishing Hitler's job for him. Which is all the more reason to encourage Israeli immigration to re-fuel the dwindling communities both in Europe and North America.

Or you can let the conflict go on for another 60 years, and watch more Jews ashamed of what the Jewish state does in their name continue to abandon their Jewish identities. Where else do you think the monumental assimilation rates come from?

I might add the haredi situation is not gonna go away. And neither is the threat of the arab take-over. Both groups have high birth-rates than the regular jewish population. In which case immigration to the West seems all the more a good idea.

Intriguingly, history shows a Jewish state has never lasted longer than 400 years without civil war, and we see much of that in the current inter-jewish conflict in Israel

jewish philosopher said...

Sorry Shalmo, but I just don't have time for every long complicated comment.

Israel will be around as long as the us permits the occupation of Palestinian territory. That maybe a long time.

zy anon said...

The viability of a zionist state is too off topic and too complicated to argue here. But it is a fact and has to be dealt with just like all modern nation states, justified or not. Many of them evolved from historical circumstances that have changed. Shall we dismantle them? You could even make your same argument against a Palestinian state. It has no purpose, since the Palestinians could easily be absorbed by 19 other Arab countries.

The original point of JP's post was to flout the "great spiritual level of the Jewish people" from which they have descended. This is just pure romanticism. Also, neither now nor in ancient times, did any other people who were familiar with the Jews see them as a "light unto the nations". In ancient times they were viewed as nothing more than another tribe, which briefly became a regional power, then faded away.


If anything I would say that Jews are seen more favorably now than in any previous time in history (at least in the West), as Shalmo pointed out.

Also, Muslims and Christians have their ancient saints and scholars for whom they have reverence, no different than Jews. The fact that Jews have chosen to "freeze" halacha is not proof of anything, other than Jews resisting change.

Alex-- regarding ability to adapt--IMHO adapting has to be consistent with remaining a distinct people and not disappearing. I realize that this middle road is a difficult formula.

jewish philosopher said...

My point was that the fact that we inexplicably find five primary stages of Judaic literature rather than merely two (Torah and commentaries on Torah) validates the claim that Jews have gradually descended from a great spiritual level 3,300 years ago at Mt. Sinai.

Just by the way, Isaiah 49:6 is apparently referring to the future Messianic era, following the degradation of exile:

And now saith the LORD that formed me from the womb to be His servant, to bring Jacob back to Him, and that Israel be gathered unto Him--for I am honourable in the eyes of the LORD, and my God is become my strength-- Yea, He saith: 'It is too light a thing that thou shouldest be My servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the offspring of Israel; I will also give thee for a light of the nations, that My salvation may be unto the end of the earth.' Thus saith the LORD, the Redeemer of Israel, his Holy One, to him who is despised of men, to him who is abhorred of nations, to a servant of rulers: kings shall see and arise, princes, and they shall prostrate themselves; because of the LORD that is faithful, even the Holy One of Israel, who hath chosen thee.

http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt1049.htm#5

zy anon said...

OK.

The critical historical approach explains those phases differently, of course.

jewish philosopher said...

I'm all ears.

zy anon said...

I accept evolution, not just of life but of religions.

The talmudic/rabbinic eras represented stages in the development of Judaism, which occurred as a result of political, economic and social changes in the Jews' environment. Rather than seeing these stages as steps in "spiritual decline", they represent adaptations of Judaism to changing conditions. Rabbinic Judaism in Babylonia bore little resemblance to the preistly Israelite religion of the bible.

I see it as advance rather than decline.

jewish philosopher said...

First of all, the Torah doesn't change.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2009/05/eternal-torah.html

Secondly, if it did, that change should depend on many factors, such as geography, culture, economics, technology etc. not only the passage of time. See for example the history of Christianity.

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

Abe said...

>>>jewish philosopher said...
My point was that the fact that we inexplicably find five primary stages of Judaic literature rather than merely two (Torah and commentaries on Torah) validates the claim that Jews have gradually descended from a great spiritual level 3,300 years ago at Mt. Sinai.<<<

Tanaim and Amoraim meeting in solemn conclaves to formulate suffocating mandates are hardly the architects of adjudicated spirituality. For all we know, Rabbi Akiva and the boys, the nation's religious panjandrums, sat around on moth-eaten carpets just shooting the breeze, thrusting papyrus airplanes at each other and generally having a grand old time before gtting down to the business at hand. This probably consisted of the boring business of communiques and edicts that vindicated the useless pronouncements of the previous conclave.
So, its amusing to see Jacob Stein, exposit his personal theories and intellectual revelationss like a phony psychic hoping to decipher something enormous out of unimportant circumstances. And all we're left with is the ususal babble to the lowborn sceptics, that the five great stages are more significant than two stages or three or ten or twenty. Its citation will have the same effect on the earth's rotation as a buddhist prayer wheel or a catholic transubstantiation wafer. The sun will rise and the moon will set, and fundies like Stein will forever believe their inconsequential catechized nonsense.

ZY Anon said...

"First of all, the Torah doesn't change."

Are you talking about the text or the meaning? Those are two different things.

Since the publication of the Masoretic text, the Torah text has remained the same. Before that period is another matter, as evidenced by the Dead Sea scrolls, the Septuagint and the like.

On the other hand the meaning--i.e. the practical interpretation--has evolved tremendously.

Proof:

Primary worship: 2500 years ago-- temple and priests. Now-- prayers, no priests, no temple, no sacrifices. (nor will there be)

Shmitta-- 2500 years ago-- shmitta. Now, no shmitta

Women-- 3000 years ago==chattle. Father could marry off or sell daughters. Now-- illegal.

Punishment for "adultery"-- burning to death. Now-- maybe he/she loses the ktuba money.

Punishment for idolatry--death. Now--nothing.

To say that "the Torah doesn't change" is meaningless (or false).

Shalmo said...

ZY Anon:

"You could even make your same argument against a Palestinian state. It has no purpose, since the Palestinians could easily be absorbed by 19 other Arab countries."

With all due respect my friend, if you wish to argue this point then let's go even further back into history when the europeans got involved and cut up the middle-east into the many arab countries, which to this day are kept divided by US and Britain sponsored dictators running those countries. As was the case with Saddam and the baathists, as well as pan-arabism which again was made in the West, and which has been the cause of arab antisemetism. If the Western powers had their dominion removed, the natural result over time would be collescing of the arab countries into a single arabia as it used to be before.

In fact we take it further. Pan-arabism is actually what is keeping the arab countries from uniting with other muslim countries. Men like the pakistani president, Zia Al Haqq, who propagate a pan-muslim unity are increasing all over the muslim world. And demands for some form of islamic union between muslim countries are growing.

Finally asking the Palestinians (not the nationality, but the people) to assimilate into the surrounding arab countries is not justifiable given that they pre-date the presence of Jews in that region.

Regardless zionism has pretty much reached its end rope. There are now more Jews emigrating from Israel then immigrating there. The entire world is now turning against the Jewish state, not for antisemetism but human right violations. The dream of having a Jewish state, is just that, a dream. It cannot be achieved, and was predicated to be a failure from the start. And I digress, that frankly Jewry now have an option to move to the West, the Palestinians do not.

A compromise on a one-state solution, or a two-state solution that eventually leads to a one-state solution is the only answer to the conflict.

jewish philosopher said...

"For all we know, Rabbi Akiva and the boys, the nation's religious panjandrums, sat around on moth-eaten carpets just shooting the breeze"

That's better than shooting each other, as your great scholars do.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2010/02/portrait-of-professor.html

"Are you talking about the text or the meaning?"

Did you bother to read my post?

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2009/05/eternal-torah.html

zy anon said...

"Did you bother to read my post?"

Yes, but you still don't explain what you mean, practically, by unchangeable.

Its like me saying that the book "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" is unchangeable. It exists, as it is, like the Torah.

Since the intepretations and implementation of the Torah do change, even though the text does not, the statement "The Torah does not change" is devoid of meaning.

Shalmo-

Having all non-Arab Israelis emigrate does not sound like a very practical solution. What, you're going to kick them out or all of them leave voluntarily? Only a minority of Israelis hold foreign citizenship. Are Western countries more likely to absorb Israelis than Arab countries absorbing the Palestinians, who share language, religion and culture?

You speak about justice, but in the scheme of the history of world, how far back do you want to go for "justice"? To the founding of Canada and America? The Roman Empire? Your obsession on "justice" and "fairness" to redress real or perceived past wrongs leads to you inpractical and uncompromising solutions. You are dealing, after all, with people (unless you don't consider Jews people) This ideological focus is true for the Israeli right as well and leads them to unrealistic answers.

Besides, Israel has a doomsday weapon and it will use it if its existence is truly threatened.

In the end, there will be 2 states. Its just a question of time. And when there is, the Pals will have to sign on the dotted line, to give up all additional claims. (and that is why they have not agreed to previous offers) Until then, everybody is just going to have to suffer, on both sides.

jewish philosopher said...

The Torah scroll itself and the Oral law given with it are unchanging and unchangeable. However Judaism does change, as I explained.

It may be a little like saying the Bill of Rights does not change however American government does.

Abe said...

"For all we know, Rabbi Akiva and the boys, the nation's religious panjandrums, sat around on moth-eaten carpets just shooting the breeze"

>>>That's better than shooting each other, as your great scholars do.<<<

I'm glad that you recognize that most of the Tanaim were just slightly more subdued than one psychopathic scholar. I suppose shooting the talmudic breeze is slightly less alarming than shooting your scientist colleague, but that's not saying much for god's holy chosen.

Abe said...

jewish philosopher said...
>>>The Torah scroll itself and the Oral law given with it are unchanging and unchangeable. However Judaism does change, as I explained.<<<

Utter drivel, the product of shallow comprhension and deliberate ignorance.

See:
http://ezinearticles.com/?True-Beliefs-vs.-Necessary-Beliefs&id=458072

...The picture becomes more complex when one takes into account the fact that there wasn't one masoretic text, but many. Furthermore, as far back as the Babylonian period when the Talmud was edited there was awareness of gross errors in the Torah text regarding spelling and orthographic notation....there were halachic discussions on what happens if the Torah text differs with that of that quoted in the Talmud, or a discrepancy between texts quoted in Talmud and that of the masoretic text. An example of this is found in the Ten Commandments. In the Talmud Yerushalmi, the first commandment spells the word "hotzesicha" without a "yud", but the masoretic text in Exodus and Deuteronomy spell it with a "yud"....Midrash Rabbah comments that the Torah texts of R. Meir differed from that of R. Akiva. In Genesis 1:31 the words Tov M'od appeared as the wording in R. Meir's text , but in R. Akiva's Tov Mavet appears in place of "Tov Me'od"....

jewish philosopher said...

"the Tanaim were just slightly more subdued than one psychopathic scholar"

What's interesting about Amy Bishop is that she apparently had a history of killing or trying to kill people over many years, however our crack law enforcement never did anything until she finally went on a public shooting spree.

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504083_162-6209793-504083.html

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2010/02/amy_bishop_was_suspect_in_1993.html

Probably if she had been a little more discreet this time, she would still be free.

"the product of shallow comprhension"

Of course the rabbis and their tradition are fallible and subject to some corruption and error over 3,000 years. That they are honest about that is proof of Judaism's truth. Judaism is self correcting, unlike science.

Abe said...

>>>jewish philosopher said...
Of course the rabbis and their tradition are fallible and subject to some corruption and error over 3,000 years.<<<

And no where as corrupt and fallible as they are today.
But those dreadful personal weaknesses are not nearly as eggregious as the flawed halachic system that deludes itself into believing that it is immutable when in fact its mercurial, fundamental texts are a testament to its dubious divine provenance.
"...Question: If it is true that the Torah, written with Divine inspiration, but not dictated word for word by God and therefore not immutable, (as evidenced by the various versions of masoretic texts and tikunei soferim, coupled with variants in texts even during the Talmudic period)than is our halachic system flawed, since its foundations do not rest on bedrock?..." The answer is of course, yes. Very flawed.

>>> That they are honest about that is proof of Judaism's truth. Judaism is self correcting, unlike science.<<<
Nonsense. If that were so, we'd see many halachos and chumros abrogated. New, halachacly fashionable, dopey chumras like kosher water and kosher shaytels are the rage. Crazy new chumros like removal of teeth braces for ladies entering a mikva are the de rigeur these days. It is self re-enforcing absurdity, not science-based self correcting .
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3848598,00.html

jewish philosopher said...

As I said, Judaism is remarkably advancing and self correcting. Unlike scientists, who haven't done much since 1950 and the only thing improving is maybe their marksmanship. (see Amy Bishop)

Anonymous said...

When the antisemites come after you, do you wonder why? Your ignorance and immorality are appalling.

jewish philosopher said...

You mean compared to anti-Semites, who are very knowledgeable and moral?

Tom Hillburgh said...

Abe, your post about science deserves reflection.

You wrote: "It is self re-enforcing absurdity, not science-based self correcting."

Now, science may self-correct itself in the sense that it had one hypothesis, but then it may correct it.

However, 'science,' or rather, scientific naturalism, believes that science is the final and absolute authority on matters of truth. Science does not 'correct' itself by stating that science is no longer the final and absolute authority. Science would never "correct" itself in such a manner.

Now, science sees human inquiry as increasing as time goes on, whereas Judaism sees the connection to G-d and absolute truth as declining as time goes on (ie. further from Sinai).

So on that basis, Judaism would say that as Jews today in 2010, we have much less knowledge and understanding of Ultimate Truth than people did in say 700BCE. So if we bicker over a halacha from the past, it's because of our disconnection to that reality (just as a person from 1200s would not understand much about modern biochemistry, for example.)

So using the scientific platform for examining and critiquing halacha is illogical, and on the same basis one could use the halachic method for critiquing the scientific method.

It is circular reasoning to assume the scientific method is the platform to use, simply because based on what the scientific method says, we know more today than in the past about a particular topic.

Shalmo said...

ZY Anon:

Often when arguing with zionists, circular debate is likely the end result which is why I will keep this as short as possible.

If history is any indication, Jews are mighty good on handling exoduses and often find salvation on the end of the said exodus, after all they got to Har Sinai after the exodus from Egypt. In which case they can handle a new Exodus from the middle-east into Europe. I support individual jewish communities who wish to remain where there are, but a Jewish state is not feasible. Demands for a two-state solution are absolutely preposterous and must be resisted precisely because everytime such a solution is constructed it always purposely leaves the arabs at a disadvantage; last time it was resisted because it isolated the arab populations from all water sources in the region. Them rejeecting the two-state solution comes from the fact that, well...they are not stupid!

Furthermore someone really needs to stop the bullshit of "there have wrongs done on both sides"; because while to an extant that is true, but it really is a lot like saying yeah individual Jews may have wronged the Nazis because overall the vast majority of the blame should go out on the Nazis for what they did.

What needs to happen is a slow, stead, and peaceful dismantling of Israel. The Brits and other Europeans started this mess, by colonizing arabia and solving their "jewish problem" by creating a state via which they could purge themselves of their own jews by shipping them into the middle-east. For justice to be served, its only fair then for these Jews to be allowed to move into the European countries that made this mess in the first place. Germany has a good stand with policies on encouraging mandatory jewish immigration. The Brits and others can join suit and encourage jewish immigration in like-minded fashion. With decreasing birth-rates in Europe, a quick boost from Jewry would be something they should welcome. And for those europeans who resist such measures, let them know that frankly Europe started this mess in the first place and cannot waltz out of it.

No I do not support mandatory removal, as I said it should be an option they have available. But you cannot have a Jewish state via removal of indigenous populations either. I will add then when given options many Jews indeed do immigrate to the West and have been doing so for quie a while, so its not like an unimaginable feat is being demanded. And indeed many Jews prefer the West over being surrounded by antisemetic arabs.

OR you can learn to live with the arabs in a one-state. But either way its high time zionism came to a close.

Anonymous said...

Abe:

I took a quick look at the Midrqsh Rabba you sited. It says BTorasi Shel Rabbi Meir Kosav Tov Meod, Tov Meso." The Mephorshim say that this refers to Rabbi Meir's book of Droshas, not his Sefer Torah.

Anonymous said...

More problems for evolution:

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20227061.300-sponge-larvae-your-unlikely-ancestors.html?full=true

Abe said...

>>>Tom Hillburgh said...

However, 'science,' or rather, scientific naturalism, believes that science is the final and absolute authority on matters of truth. Science does not 'correct' itself by stating that science is no longer the final and absolute authority. Science would never "correct" itself in such a manner...>
That is not correct. Science offers no opinion on matters that are out of its purview. For instance, there is no scientific caveat regarding capital punishment. That is a moral framework for which science is not equiped to render a position. Science is also indeterminate regarding the "truth" of God's existence. Proof is not possible either way. Accordingly it may remain an area of scientific speculation but no absolute authority pro or con.

Abe said...

>>>Anonymous said...
I took a quick look at the Midrqsh Rabba you sited. It says BTorasi Shel Rabbi Meir Kosav Tov Meod, Tov Meso." The Mephorshim say that this refers to Rabbi Meir's book of Droshas, not his Sefer Torah.<<<

Midrash Rabba does not cite to Rabbi Meir's book of Droshas. It cites his Torah.
Its not surprising that the meforshim would premptory misconstrue the Midrash Rabba to make it conform to their notion that the torah was transmitted as unaltered. Its another exegetical example of ends justifying the means.

Anonymous said...

Abe:

The Midrash says "His Torah." It does not say that this was the Girsa that he hled every Sefer torah should have. It says he had both words in his Torah. So it is prefectly reasonable to conclude that this was Rabbi Meir's personal book, and not his Girsa.