Friday, March 11, 2011

Sex and the Drop Outs


[a gathering place of the evil]

Some people think that I'm being a little bit harsh when I claim that the primary motive of Orthodox Jews who convert to atheism is greater sexual freedom.

However, when I read articles like this, it sounds like I'm probably about on target. The covert apostate in this article seems to have no interest in discussing philosophy and science however he does have a desperate need to be introduced to secular women whom he's certain will be impressed by his handsome appearance. (Sure, man, the girls will be all over you.)

I've noticed a great similarity between White Supremacists and ex-Orthodox. Compare for example Failed Messiah and Stormfront. Both spend a lot of time bashing Jews. (There is actually a film depicted an ex-Orthodox Jew becoming a neo-Nazi - not far from the truth.) However I give the White Supremacists more credit on one point. However perverted their beliefs are, they do believe in something, and are not merely mindless hedonists.

146 comments:

Anonymous said...

I actually went to the links you posted, Failed Messiah and Stormfront. They did not resemble each other at all. You Really are a lunatic!

jewish philosopher said...

Weekly Crimes And Misbehaviors Blotter: Crimes, misdemeanors, and generally bad behavior from members of the tribe. Sadly, it's been a very busy week, folks.

http://failedmessiah.typepad.com/failed_messiahcom/2011/03/weekly-crimes-and-misbehaviors-blotter-678.html

Everyone knew the inherent bad character of the Jews and no one doubted they were foreigners... Let the 'enlighteners' stop defaming the Gentiles by blaming them for what is wrong with the Jews. Their conduct is their own fault.

http://www.stormfront.org/jewish/antisemite.html

jewish philosopher said...

This article could have been cut and pasted from any ex-orthodox blog. Maybe it was.

http://www.stormfront.org/jewish/tribal.html

JRKmommy said...

It would be interesting to do a sociological study on the differences between men and women who go "off the derech". From what I've read, some of the dynamics seem to be quite different (and may broadly reflect general differences between genders on this issue).

jewish philosopher said...

I believe that there are far fewer females, however the process is similar: trauma causing depression followed by self medication with pornography (for females that is usually literary not graphic), continuing to sexual promiscuity and then denial of responsibility with atheism.

JRKmommy said...

Trauma and depression are likely factors. I'm not sure about the pornography and promiscuity.

Each person is different, of course, but some traumas are related to spousal violence or other forms of abuse, and some of the depression takes the form of failing to assert oneself even to the point of not actively protesting against things in the marriage. [Men leaving may also have marital problems, but with women the problem is compounded because men will often have more Torah education and closer connections to the rabbis, so it is easier for women who have received bad advice or bad treatment to confuse this with genuine Jewish teachings.]

In general, survivals of spousal violence or sexual abuse tend to have one of two reactions: some have an aversion to anything sexual, while others may act out sexually for a variety of reasons that are usually not related to simple pleasure.

In other words - if a woman who goes "off the derech" then happens to be promiscuous for a period of time, she may not have left Jewish observance because she wanted to be promiscuous, but may have become promiscuous due to the other factors that caused her to leave.

The only general impact of pornography that I have seen with women is the problems caused by husbands with pornography addictions, particularly if those husbands hide their addiction and tend to over-compensate by berating wives for lack of strict observance in other areas. Nobody respects a hypocrite.

jewish philosopher said...

Obviously no one ever admits the real reason why they apostasize. Typically, people claim that science proved to them that there is no God and evolutuon created us and they also realized that atheists are so much kinder, more honest, etc than observant Jews.

By the way, my analysis pertains to ultra-orthodox. Modern orthodox may be somewhat different since these are partially atheists to begin with. The conversion to atheism may be less dramatic.

I have (online) met one man who seemed to have dropped out because of financial reasons - the only good job he could find was enlisting in the US military. I think that's very rare today.

Anonymous said...

I used to teach in a Yeshiva for at risk teenagers Every student in the school was suffering from some combination of depression, ADHD or soem learning disability. I kept in touch with some of my students. They are all now frum functioning adults.

JRKmommy said...

That's part of the reason that it's more productive to compassionately address those at risk instead of having a harsh reaction which can drive them further away.

The one other trend that I've noticed in the treatment of skepticism or questions. Individuals in the "questioning" phase haven't necessarily decided to abandon Judaism - they often just never received decent answers in their education. Again, this is more common in some communities than others.

jewish philosopher said...

My personal opinion is that the moment someone who has had an orthodox education declares "the Torah is bogus" he (or she) has passed the point of no return. The priority from that point is to remove that individual from the orthodox community. The yeshiva and synagogue should expel him and his family should disown him. I believe that historically this has been standard practice with apostates.

If the individual is legally a minor he should be shunned however his parents will have to continue to support him in a boarding school setting until age 18.

ksil said...

"the moment someone who has had an orthodox education declares "the Torah is bogus" he (or she) has passed the point of no return."

funny what happens when you see the truth, finally. when you realize you have been brainwashed. when you realize your parents and teachers have been lying to you all these years.

jewish philosopher said...

Exactly my point. Someone with this mindset must be expelled from our community. The tricky part is catching people who covertly are atheists. In those cases I recommend lie detector testing, in addition to electronic surveillance such as Internet use monitoring.

Anonymous said...

Ksil:

That's close to the feeliong i got when I read S.J. Gould's article in Natural History Magazine about how evolutionists used Haeckle's faked embryo drawings in a century's worth of textbooks. But now, I'm used to seeing fraud commited by scientists, so it doesn't bother me so much.

ksil said...

anon, yes! you are right! its all a big scientific conspiracy! thousands and thousands of scientists have colluded to trick us all! muahahahahah!

but the rabbis? they are telling the emes....yea, right

LOL

jewish philosopher said...

Ksil, maybe you can tell me how you know that you were brainwashed and your parents and teachers lied to you. How do you know I wasn't brainwashed and my parents and teachers lied to me??? LOL

ksil said...

dude, are you serious?

they admit it! they indoctranate us! they get us married early, they dont let us read or learn about the world, they limit our sexual conduct (typical) they force us (under the threat of excommunication) to follow their crazy arcane laws! they dont let us use birth control - so we are stuck with 5, 6, 10! kids of our own before we hit 35 yrs old!

wake up and smell the coffe jacob

(i cant LOL that one, i am literally in tears after such reflection)

jewish philosopher said...

My adopted parents also made sure I was taught evolution and made sure that I heard how evil Jews were, especially the Orthodox. When I was 12, my adopted mom drove me around New Square to show me how crazy these people are. Now that's besides sending me to school with girls, mixed dances, etc.

dude, are you serious? they admit it! wake up and smell the coffe

LOL!!

ksil said...

ok. mazel tov - your parents are abusive SOBs too - whats your point?

(sending you to schoold with girls?!?!?! oh the horror!)

jewish philosopher said...

The point is exactly what I said:

Who says Orthodox Jews are lied to and brainwashed by their parents? Maybe atheists are lied to and brainwashed by their parents?

The answer is obvious of course: It's hard to be a Jew. It's easy to be an atheist. So you're deciding the easy one is true.

ksil said...

you sound like my firend's parents - who are moermans!

why would one WANT to live a hard life anyway - you only go through one time....enjoy it.

jewish philosopher said...

So let's be honest for once. Jewish skeptics/atheists/drop outs whatever you want to call yourselves are really after only one thing: not truth, not kindness, not honesty, just mindless pleasure seeking.

ROFLOL.

ksil said...

i didnt say i only want one thing, but a life full of pleasure does not sound to shabby, thank you very much.

excuse me while i go daven mincha - when you go to shul, look over your shoulder - i am standing right behind you.

Anonymous said...

Ksil:

At least the Rabbis aren't knowingly perpetrating a fraud on the public.

Anonymous said...

Ksil:

My children learn about evolution in their Yeshivas. But the public school I teach in does not allow me to talked about religion. So who is brainwashing?

jewish philosopher said...

"but a life full of pleasure does not sound to shabby"

Like Charlie Sheen with his goddesses?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlie_Sheen#Personal_life

Nate said...

Finally I have found a blog that makes sense. Too bad some of the anti-Torah heretics who claim to be Jews have found it as well.

ksil said...

welcome home nate, welcome home.

NC said...

JP, most of your comments, as well as those of your detractors in this post, are using black and white thinking. Either religion is all evil and atheism is all good or vice versa.

The truth is is the middle, and each community and system has its pros and cons. And I admit this as a skeptic atheist.

Your failure to see this really discredits all of your arguments, since you insist on seeing things as all or nothing, and thus remain blind to any valid points being made by your opponents. It also fails to acknowledge that in the imperfect world of human decision making, a person's world view is highly subjective and subtle and is not a matter of all-or-nothing objective truth or falsehood.

This furthermore leaves you (and some of the skeptic commentors) without empathy and with no ability to actually understand other people and why they believe as they do.

I am not usually the social worker type, but when I read the thread of comments, to me it looked like a dialog of the deaf.

JP, you made your conversion at a stormy and volatile stage in your life. That, perhaps with your personality tendency to see things in an all or nothing fashion, led you to make the choice you made. Perhaps if circumstances were different, or at an older age, you might not have done the same thing.

This is mere speculation, but my point is that you pretend that religious belief is some "black box" in which you can just input data and out pops the one and only truth. This is clearly fallacious. The same could be said for atheists. I don't pretend to hold a monopoly on the truth. I simply stopped believing because it stopped making sense to me.

NC said...

Why I became a skeptic, in 7 sentences:

1. The Oral Law is clearly a rabbinic invention from the second temple era, and the Talmud acknowledges this as such.

2. I feel that obeying rabbis from 2000 years ago serves no cosmic purpose, God or no God.

3. There may or may not have been a revelation at Sinai. But I see this as an ethnic/tribal identity issue, not relevant to morality today.

4. The orthodox obsession with minutiae seems silly, trivial and embarrassing.

5. I see orthodoxy being played out at a national level in Israel, and it leads to immorality rather than morality. I see a single-minded obsession with sexual "morality" (meaning separation of the sexes), with evil, selfish and regressive policies on social, environmental and national issues.

6. My common sense tells me that the Torah appears flawed, contradictory and extremely human. Kind of like your "duck test", JP. I therefore reject the assertion of TMS, in favor of it being the creation of many people from different times.

7. There appears to be no justice in the world. Once again, JP, the duck test.

Having said that, I recognize the value that faith and practice plays in people's lives and I don't disrespect or denigrate it.

jewish philosopher said...

"Either religion is all evil and atheism is all good or vice versa."

I cite modern Orthodoxy as a mixture.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2010/03/modern-orthodoxy-is-it-ok.html

I admit that orthodox criminals exist

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

As well as decent atheists

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2008/01/chandra-good-atheist.html

"The Oral Law is clearly a rabbinic invention from the second temple era"

How do you explain the structure of rabbinical literature?

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2010/03/jewish-literature-seeing-effects-of.html

"I feel that obeying rabbis from 2000 years ago serves no cosmic purpose, God or no God."

Wishing doesn't change reality.

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

"There may or may not have been a revelation at Sinai. But I see this as an ethnic/tribal identity issue, not relevant to morality today."

There is no expiration date.

"Neither with you only do I make this covenant and this oath; but with him that standeth here with us this day before the LORD our God, and also with him that is not here with us this day--" Deuteronomy 29:13-14

http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt0529.htm#13

"The orthodox obsession with minutiae seems silly, trivial and embarrassing."

Wishing doesn't change reality.

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

"I see orthodoxy being played out at a national level in Israel, and it leads to immorality rather than morality."

You mean in comparison to the elevated morality of the non-Orthodox Israeli leadership?

"On 30 December 2010, Katsav was unanimously found guilty of "rape, sexual harassment, committing an indecent act while using force, harassing a witness and obstruction of justice" by a three judge panel."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moshe_Katsav#Trial_and_conviction

"My common sense tells me that the Torah appears flawed, contradictory and extremely human."

Or maybe you fail to recognize its perfection because you are flawed, contradictory and extremely human.

"There appears to be no justice in the world."

Judaism never claims that there would be immediate physical reward and punishment. Just to pull out a random Biblical example, the longest reigning Biblical king was Manasseh of Judah

http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt09b21.htm#1

He was also the most evil

http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt09b21.htm#11

But sooner or later, God will get you. He has plenty of time and many ways and means.

JRKmommy said...

NC's comment at 1:22 makes the most sense.

As for the subsequent post - these are not uncommon questions. The infusion of political power into religion in Israel has exposed it to the toxic effects of corruption. The question of justice is a long-standing one in Judaism - the answers are not easy and trite. My approach would be to treat them as being serious and sincere, and to provide the resources to explore the answers in depth. I don't think that's possible in the space of a short post or comment. In general, if someone is teetering on the edge of a cliff, I don't want to push them off.

http://jrkmommy-personalandpolitical.blogspot.com/2010/12/two-approaches.html

jewish philosopher said...

I don't think that anyone claims, and I certainly don't, that all Orthodox Jews are perfect. I do claim, and I can provide proof to support this, that Orthodox Jews are on the average happier, kinder, more peaceful, more chaste and more sober than atheists or just about anyone else.

Regarding my own intolerance of apostates from Orthodox Judaism, this doesn't imply that I believe every person or group to be either totally good or evil.

And I think that most people have certain beliefs which they consider to be basically unquestionable and sacrosanct and those beliefs usually solidify in young adulthood. I don't see how I'm unusual in that respect. If you don't believe me, try sitting down with any neighbor or coworker and suggest to him that his entire worldview may be false. Watch the clock and see if that conversation goes beyond about three minutes.   

Incidentally, mommy, regarding your post, where do you see Tova Schreiber asking any questions? Did I miss a post?

http://righteousrasha.blogspot.com/

Frankly, I think I'm a model of open mindedness, courtesy and tolerance compared to her and her henchmen in the dropout crowd.  

Nate said...

Amazing how people find some kind of irrational silliness in the minutiae of Torah & halacha, but when it comes to everything else (money, education, stocks & bonds, and whatever their job requires), they have no difficulty fulfilling all the required minutiae at all. They staple this paper to that paper, without question, because that's just how we do it here at Goldman-Sachs. But Torah???

ksil said...

Nate, you forgot your pills this morning!

you staple the paper so you can get a paycheck and LIVE - you wear a 4 cornered garment with fringes on it so you can...well, nothing really - just part of the irational, man made, silly minutae

Nate said...

Ha! And you think that your "boss" controls your income? Sorry, I answer to the real Boss. If I refuse to staple the paper, and I get fired, it's because Hashem wants me to find another job, and He will provide for me in the meantime.

jewish philosopher said...

Wear titzis and you get eternal paradise.

http://judaism.about.com/library/3_askrabbi_o/bl_simmons_afterlife.htm

Do your job, get paid, buy a hamburger, eat it and it's gone. LOL.

ksil said...

It's like I am having a discussion with pre-schoolers.

Let's try this again: If you do not staple, you lose job. nothing to do with some magic man in the sky pulling the strings.

absurd

jewish philosopher said...

Wonderful, now we're doing the appeal to ridicule, in which ridicule or mockery is substituted for evidence in an "argument." 

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

What's next? An ad hominem? A straw man? 

ksil said...

"What's next? An ad hominem? A straw man?"

I leave that to you - you are the pro.

is scientology absurd? is mormanism absurd? is amish absurd?

jewish philosopher said...

Is evolution absurd? Sure.

jewish philosopher said...

Just back to Mommy for a second:

"NC's comment at 1:22 makes the most sense.

As for the subsequent post - these are not uncommon questions. "

There are no question marks in that post.

I'm still baffled by why you insist on imagining positive things about apostates which just aren't there. I would be curious to know more about you because there must be something in your personal life which is causing you to imagine hardened criminals (from a Torah point of view) to be tortured, questioning, innocent lost souls in need of redemption.

Do you have similar ideas about civil criminals - that they are merely underprivileged victims of society crying out for rehabilitation?

http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/criminals-are-not-victims-of-society-717731.html

Very 1960ish. I'm guessing you graduated college about 1970 or 1975.

Anonymous said...

Ksil:

When my children make me stuff for Father's Day, they make sure that every trivial detail is just right. When my wife makes me a birhtday party, she pays attention to the detail of the room, the cake, how she wraps the presents, etc. This is doen to show love. Same thing with the minutia of Halacha. Its shows our love of G-d.
When King's dine, their people make sure that the table is set just right, and everyone acts with precise etiquette and protocol. Attention to trivial details shows respect for the King. The King of Kings should be entitled to the same respect.

JRKmommy said...

Graduated law school in 1994. I'm not THAT old.

I don't have time to read Tova's entire blog, nor do I feel comfortable discussing her when she's not part of the conversation. However, since her blog is public and you want to know specifically about my viewpoint, I'd say that from the bit that I've read, I would view her as someone who was very young, who was questioning various things both on a personal level and an intellectual level, and who had never had her questions answered in her Bais Yaacov education.

As for my mindset, it's fairly simple:

1. I have been strongly influenced by general Chabad teachings as they relate to ahavas yisroel, and specifically by the teachings of Rabbi Mendel Kaplan. Rabbi Kaplan has made it explicitly clear that NO JEW can be entirely written off, even specific individuals who have gone off the derech to the point of either harming the Jewish community in general or attacking him in particular. [Yes, I know that Rabbi Avigdor Miller may have had a different approach, although he himself benefited greatly from a Lubavitch tutor who provided his services free of charge. I'm just explaining MY views.]

2. I have never met anyone who changed their ways because they were treated in the manner that you suggest.

3. While it doesn't happen with everyone, I have seen examples of people who embraced Jewish observance after previously rejecting it when they finally encountered the right rav with the right approach.

4. As I've mentioned before, there was a point in my life when I had some anger toward Orthodoxy as a result of a few things including a bad personal experience with a fanatic, and the fact that I am frum today is largely due to Rabbi Spiro of the Minsker shul.

5. The best parenting book that I ever read was written by an ultra-Orthodox rabbi, Rabbi Noach Orlowek. One of the points that he makes in Raising Roses Among the Thorns is that a child must feel the parent's unconditional love. He gives an example of a child from a frum family in Europe who had gone to a secular Zionist meeting, had someone report this fact to her father, and overheard him respond that he knew that she would never do such a thing. Hearing the father's degree of trust in her made her resolve that she would never go again.

6. I've always questioned things. It's a sign of being intellectually alive. There have been a number of issues in Orthodox Judaism where I did struggle, where a bad explanation actually made it worse, and where I was finally satisfied by a much better response. It therefore seems logical to me that someone who thinks that they have lost faith in Judaism may never have been given an accurate view of it at all, and might respond differently with a deeper understanding.

NC said...

"I'm still baffled by why you insist on imagining positive things about apostates which just aren't there."

Because we use our brains to figure out what is moral and right, not what a rabbi said 2000 years ago. Not that there is anything wrong with what the rabbi said in the Talmud. But I don't accept it on authority, but rather put it into the context of the human society and political environment in which they were living.

I consider, for example, equality to be a higher moral standard than the Talmud's view about women or other types of people.

So its not imagined, JP, but real positive things about us. And the freedom that you enjoy to blog is a product of this liberalism.

Nate said...

I consider, for example, equality to be a higher moral standard than the Talmud's view about women or other types of people.

Exactly---"I consider". Judaism is not based on what you consider, how you feel, or what bothers you or makes you happy. It's not even about you at all, believe it or not. It's about God and what God wants. Your opinion isn't even secondary. It's completely irrelevant. Remember Abraham & Isaac? I'm pretty sure he didn't feel comfy when he raised the knife over his son's throat.

jewish philosopher said...

"I would view her as someone who was very young"

12 is the age of majority in Judaism.

"who was questioning various things both on a personal level and an intellectual level"

Correct me if I'm wrong, however she has never said that. You're making excuses for the inexcusable. Why?

I know nothing about Rabbi Kaplan, however first of all he may not be as liberal as you think.

http://www.gaymeup.com/police-rabbi-mendel-kaplan-delivers-homophobic-sermon/

Secondly, Lubavitch seems to be disproportionately the source of dropouts and even vehement anti-Orthodox Jews, such as Shmarya Rosenberg

http://failedmessiah.typepad.com/failed_messiahcom/about-me.html

and Malkie Schwartz

http://www.footstepsorg.org/lspress.php

Perhaps their approach could use some fine tuning.

"he himself benefited greatly from a Lubavitch tutor"

Lubavitch in the 1920's was entirely different than in more recent years. The Rebbe until 1920 was an extremely distinguished rabbi.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sholom_Dovber_Schneersohn#Leadership

No Mitzvah Tanks or Tefillin Campaigns or messianic stuff.

"I have never met anyone who changed their ways because they were treated in the manner that you suggest."

I'm trying to protect those who aren't yet changed. Remember this fiasco, for example?

http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/monsey-shaken-by-chicken-scandal-1.196986

I'm not going to discuss your age; a lady's age is far too controversial for me to touch. However your attitude toward bad behavior seems perhaps locked in 1969: there are no bad boys, drop outs are not guilty, they are underprivileged victims of Orthodox society. They merely need our help and sympathy.

That concept regarding criminals was dropped decades ago in American politics.

"Because we use our brains to figure out what is moral and right, not what a rabbi said 2000 years ago."

Sure, so did Reinhard Heydrich, Stalin, Mao, Jeff Dahmer, Jim Jones, etc etc. Keep using those great God free brains. When the last living human staggers out of a gay bar and drops dead in the gutter with a heroin overdose, perhaps then atheists would admit that just like you can't fly a plane without reading the instructions, you can't live successfully without the instructions God has given us.

onionsoupmix said...

I'm off the derech and you are full of BS. No trauma, no depression, no sexual acting out or porn or whatever it is that you do that you project on those around you. Stop making crap up.

ksil said...

Nate,

"It's not even about you at all, believe it or not. It's about God and what God wants. Your opinion isn't even secondary. It's completely irrelevant. "

you sound just like a moerman - or a muslim, or a christian - whatevs, they are all the same.

Its just mindboggling how someone (millions of people!) would adhere to such a lifestyle and continue such old and ridiculous customs - based on not a shred of evidence - just indoctranation.

why does JP keep bringing up evolution?

jewish philosopher said...

"Stop making crap up."

Of course darling. Just like Charlie Sheen doesn't use drugs.

http://www.usmagazine.com/healthylifestyle/news/charlie-sheen-um-duh-im-clean-and-sober-2011282

Duh.

"Its just mindboggling how someone (millions of people!) would adhere to such a lifestyle"

That's what I say about atheism. After half of Europe killed off the other half between 1914 and 1954, the survivors are disappearing and being replaced by Muslims.

"why does JP keep bringing up evolution?"

It's the god of atheism.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7dW-bt_1LzY

ksil said...

you are an athiest too.

you dont believe in a lot of widely believed in gods

your arguements are flawed

but have fun fasting tomorrow for no good reason

jewish philosopher said...

I'm actually a rock star from Mars.

onionsoupmix said...

what? Your best comeback is something about some moron celebrity on drugs? Nothing about how I must be fat and ugly? What's wrong Jacob? Not feeling up to your usual insults today?

I don't need to prove that I'm not traumatised, depressed, self-medicated or sexually messed up just because I don't believe the same things you do about the afterlife or whatever.

But you, on the other hand, would do everyone a big favor if you would post the results of your most recent psychiatric evaluation.

ksil said...

martian rockstar and god of abraham

zelba zach

santa claus, zeus....long list of bull$hit on your blog

jewish philosopher said...

"I don't need to prove that I'm not traumatised, depressed, self-medicated or sexually messed up"

You don't, won't and never will because you can't.

"But you, on the other hand, would do everyone a big favor if you would post the results of your most recent psychiatric evaluation."

Results: Winner.

Nate said...

JP--
if u are ever in the Baltimore area, I want you at my Shabbos table! what a breath of fresh air you are!

jewish philosopher said...

"long list of bull$hit on your blog"

I'm waiting for you to enlighten me.

Anonymous said...

NC:

What is your basis, beyond your own opinion for saying your morality is better than the Torah's. What is your basis for saying that youur morality is better than Hitler's, or Stalin's.

JRKmommy said...

Just correcting some misinformation about Rabbi Kaplan. Since Rabbi Kaplan is obviously an observant Jew, I would respectfully request that you carefully consider the laws regarding loshon hara (negative speech). Repeating allegations is not permissible simply because they are published elsewhere, unless you can be sure of the reliability of the source. I don't think a gay activist blog qualifies according to the Chofetz Chaim.

There was an anonymous complaint by one person to Kulanu, which in turn asked the police about his role as chaplain. No one from Kulanu actually heard the sermon. Those who did hear it, including myself, were adamant that it in no way promoted hatred or intolerance. Rabbi Kaplan is very clear about what the Torah says, and he is also very clear that the Torah may prohibit various behaviors but it does not define Jews by those behaviors. A Jew is a Jew, period, and there is no need to categorize as gay, straight or anything else.

http://www.jewishtribune.ca/TribuneV2/201102093986/Rabbi-vindicated-after-detailed-York-police-investigation.html (I know the author of the article and the research that she did)

Rabbi Kaplan also made it clear during a subsequent farbrengen that he does not hate the person from Kulanu who made the complaint, and demonstrated ahavas yisroel to her despite the fact that she threatened his job.

I'm not going to comment further about any other person or organization, as a precaution against sparking any loshon hara in a response.

NC said...

Nate-
" It's about God and what God wants."

Or, more accurately, what men imagine that god wants.

NC said...

"Sure, so did Reinhard Heydrich, Stalin, Mao, Jeff Dahmer, Jim Jones, etc etc."
Red herring alert.

"What is your basis, beyond your own opinion for saying your morality is better than the Torah's. What is your basis for saying that youur morality is better than Hitler's, or Stalin's.

Another red herring alert.

That's right guys. When you can't actually debate the point on its own merits, you degenerate into ad hitlerum (or ad Stalinum or whatever) arguments. Change the subject, what could be better?

I am making a claim that exercising one's own moral judgement is often a reason people reject orthodoxy.

So why do you use Hitler and psychopaths to refute that? It actually reinforces my point--don't accept somebody else's moral authority!

The old debate about whether religious morality is responsible for more or less suffering is a very tiresome and I'm not in the mood to debate it again.

Just keep to the subject.

jewish philosopher said...

"A Jew is a Jew, period, and there is no need to categorize as gay, straight or anything else."

I also agree with that by the way. In my own case as well, some people deliberately distort my statements to mean "JP wants to kill gays". No. I want to criminalize male to male anal intercourse. There are people who identify as a gay who do not engage in anal and likewise many people who identify as straight, and may be married with kids etc, who do sometimes practice sodomy with other men. It's not really a gay/straight thing. It's not a hatred thing either. I don't necessarily hate burglers, but they should be punished.

NC, my point is very simple. Using our brains (rather than learning Torah) to figure out what is moral and right is a recipe for global disaster. That's been proven innumerable times. It's like trying to fly a 747 "using your brain" rather than reading the Boeing instruction manual. See how well that goes.

And by the way, I deliberately didn't mention Hitler (to the avoid the issue of "Hitler wasn't really an atheist") but I've never understood what's wrong with doing so. "He who forgets history is doomed to repeat it", George Santayana

http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Who_said_'He_who_forgets_history_will_live_to_repeat_it'

NC said...

"Using our brains (rather than learning Torah) to figure out what is moral and right is a recipe for global disaster."

Our brains have also been responsible for democracy, emancipation, liberty, and many other good things.

That is part of being a mature adult. Taking responsibility, whereby your decisions may bring good or harm. I think that you would agree that independently making decisions is a higher level of maturity than simply obeying.

""He who forgets history is doomed to repeat it", George Santayana "

This BTW is an arguably incorrect statement. Maybe an interesting subject for another post...

" but I've never understood what's wrong with doing so. "

I think that this is worthy of a considered response. The reason is simple, JP. The Nazis were such an extraordinary and extreme phenomenon. This makes them an exception rather than the rule. The fact is that for centuries the Europeans were slaughtering each other. The Nazis just combined extreme nationalism with a modern industrialized economy, and it made for a terrible confluence.

The other reason is because the ad hitlerum is basically slippery slope argument. This is an informal logical fallacy. Since most reasonable men, religious or atheist, would agree that Nazism is bad, you cannot show that an atheist belief leads to Nazism or Stalinism or any other form of mass murder.

Example is the weakest form of proof. Since inductive reasoning is being employed,a clear pattern with multiple data points and logical connection must be made.

You like to bring your examples of a jealous husband who kills his cheating wife, as an analogy of how to prove something by inference. In that example, however, you are able to make conclusions only because of prior experience from similar cases.

Anonymous said...

NC:

I didn't make any assertions. I asked a question. You said that your morality was better than the Torah's. I asked what is your basis for saying that in logic, reason, science or anything beyond your own intuition. No red herrings. Just a simple question.

jewish philosopher said...

NC, it's clear that humans are not naturally inclined to be peaceful, kind, chaste and honest.

Look at the behavior of primitive societies

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_Before_Civilization
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cannibalism#Early_history
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infanticide#Paleolithic_and_Neolithic

Or among the animals most similar to us

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/style/longterm/books/chap1/demonicmales.htm

Human nature is pretty bad.

The only solution is a belief in God and in a humanitarian God given law.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2008/10/god-save-king-why-we-need-both.html

NC said...

"The only solution is a belief in God and in a humanitarian God given law."

That it may be a solution does not make it true.

"I asked what is your basis for saying that in logic, reason, science or anything beyond your own intuition."

I'll answer you with 3 simple yes/no questions.

* is stoning a adulterer moral?
* is burning a prostitute moral?
* is forceably selling off your minor daughter into slavery moral?

Please answer the above questions yes or no. No buts, please.

If the answer is yes, at least your are not a liar, just an idiot.

If the answer is no, then you acknoweledge that the human sense of morality has a basis and in fact superceded torah morality.

Nate said...

"Our brains have also been responsible for democracy, emancipation, liberty, and many other good things."

Who says they are good? Torah determines what is good, not the US Constitution. Apparently you have bought the American dream, like the rest of the Yidden who think Galus is over because they have US citizenship.
Let's take a look at how good democracy is, shall we?
Gay marriage, no prayers allowed in schools, baseball players make 10 million while a teacher makes 35,000 if she's lucky, a man can kill 100 people in front of 50 police offers, yet he can claim insanity and serve no time in jail, and the list goes on and on.
I'll take a theocracy any day, along with martial law and tznius police.

jewish philosopher said...

"If the answer is no, then you acknoweledge that the human sense of morality has a basis and in fact superceded torah morality."

No rabbi in 2,000 years has permitted anyone to do any of those things.

Atheists however condone everything. As we write this, the atheist North Korean government is murdering tens of thousands, including children.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_rights_in_North_Korea#Internment_camps_for_political_prisoners

This is not surprising; it's just the natural atheistic mind.

Nate said...

*is stoning a adulterer moral?
* is burning a prostitute moral?
* is forceably selling off your minor daughter into slavery moral?

Yes to all the above. Why? Because God says it is. What you think is moral is not always in concert with what He says is moral, and vice versa.

eg:

* Is buggering a man moral?
* Is allowing a woman to serve in the army moral?

NC, you lose. Nothing supercedes God's law. Nothing.

JP, as an aside, we do believe that when the Sanhedrin is reestablished, all the accompanying laws & punishments will be back in force as well. So yes, a mechallel Shabbos will be stoned, etc.

ksil said...

"Who says they are good?"

people do. quality of life attests to it. compare today with 200 years ago, or 1 thousand years ago.

"Torah determines what is good, not the US Constitution."

sharia law for all!! you would love saudi arabia or iran.

Gay marriage ((great!), no prayers allowed in schools (thank god!), baseball players make 10 million while a teacher makes 35,000 if she's lucky (you dont believe in capitalism?), a man can kill 100 people in front of 50 police offers, yet he can claim insanity and serve no time in jail (but he would be removed from society forever)

NC said...

JP- "No rabbi in 2,000 years has permitted anyone to do any of those things."

Correct. And why is that? Could it be that the rabbis saw something beyond torah morality?

And nobody today would permit many of the things that were permitted by rabbis 2000 years ago. For example, allowing physician not to treat a gentile on Shabbat.

Why?

Because our morality has progressed. No thanks to Torah or New Testament or Quran.

"NC, you lose. Nothing supercedes God's law. Nothing."

No, you lose, Nate. Because in that case there are over a billion Muslims who think that god said something different, especially about the Jews, and they are listening to Him.

Your opinion about god, versus that of a billion angry and devout Muslims, just as certain as you are about God. Good luck, sucker!

Nate said...

What other heathens believe is of no concern to me. I am responsible to God, myself, and other Jews.
The only reason the things haven't been done for over 2000 years is not due to any morality at all. It is due solely to the fact that we no longer have a Temple or a Sanhedrin. We mourn for its loss, and pray for its rebuilding and reinstatement every day. Not just for the building, but for the laws, courts, sacrifices, and punishments as well. The only difference will probably be that the stonings and burnings will be televised on cable.

NC said...

"Yes to all the above. Why? Because God says it is. "

Although I am anonymous, out of respect for JP I am exercising restraint in my comments, as though you had my name and address.

Let us say that given that morality is relative and subjective, I choose to identify with a moral system that is different from yours.

There are some things in this world that are fairly objective. For example, there are very few dissenters to the idea that the earth is round or that a virus causes a cold.

On the other hand, there is remarkable little consensus on what god's word is. Yet every little Nate seems to know for himself what god says. The only problem is, of course, that everybody says something different.

So you are welcome to your opinions as to what is right and wrong, but your obvious pretense that it is the one and only god's word is arrogant and silly, given the divergent opinions on the matter and lack of objective evidence.

Not to mention, of course, that there may be no such thing as god's word altogether, unless you make something up (which people obviously do).

jewish philosopher said...

NC, I think what you're missing is that first of all the Talmud sometimes contradicts and supersedes the Pentateuch. Secondly, Judaism changes with time, although the Torah itself doesn't.

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

About the doctor and Sabbath thing, has there ever been a documented case of a gentile dying because a Jewish doctor refused to travel to treat him on the sabbath? Can't a gentile usually find at least one gentile doctor in an emergency? While atheists can and do murder millions, you desperately hunt for some crumb of criminality in Orthodox Judaism.

About morality progressing, I know of no statistics indicating that the global per capita homicide rate has been falling over let's say the past 500 years, when you include wars, concentration camps, etc. To the best of my knowledge we're drastically regressing. 

Anonymous said...

NC:

But how do yuo konw any of those things are moral or immoral beyond your own personal moral sense. I happen to think that selling your daughtet into slavery is immoral. But I can'r prove it. And if the alternative is starvation, then maybe it is the lesser of two evils. But I can't prove that it is immoral. And I think that it might be a good idea to stine adulterers. But that is only myu opinion and completely irrelevant. Now, you have not answered the question. What is your basis for saying that your morality is superior.

Anonymous said...

As far as moral progress in concerned, we have a higher percentgae of people in jail than at any other time in US history. Drug abuse is rampant. Public schools have day care centers to accomomdate the children of the teenage mothers. According to a recent report 25% of teenage girls have an STD. Lots of men thnk it is okay to abandon their wives and children to persue a younger woman, a "trophy wife." Every time I pick up a newspaper, I read about a politician getting arrested. I don't see any real progress.

Nate said...

"Let us say that given that morality is relative and subjective, I choose to identify with a moral system that is different from yours."

No, I'm not going to say that at all, because it's patently false to me. Torah defines what is moral, and no man with his limited brain function can decide differently. You have made man into an avodah zara.

ksil said...

"has there ever been a documented case of a gentile dying because a Jewish doctor refused to travel to treat him on the sabbath? "

all of a sudden, JP wants prrof of an assertation.

your entore blog, nay, your entire life is lived off of an assertation that hos ZERO proof

Nate said...

Assertation? LOL

Ksil, learn English before you start tryna conversate dat nonsense.

JP, you rule!

jewish philosopher said...

Ksil, no proof?? ROTFLMAO!!! Baby, I'll  bury you under proof of Judaism:

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2006/12/truth-of-judaism.html
http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2010/05/torahs-amazing-honesty.html
http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2009/06/holocaust-clear-evidence-of-gods-hand.html
http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2010/03/jewish-literature-seeing-effects-of.html
http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2009/06/gods-wisdom.html

NC said...

"About morality progressing, I know of no statistics indicating .... To the best of my knowledge we're drastically regressing."

JP, I'll bet you don't consider Steve Pinker to be an authority, but he gave a good lecture on the subject of the history of violence. Check out his TED talk
http://www.ted.com/talks/steven_pinker_on_the_myth_of_violence.html

Do you have better statistics?

Nathan-
"What is your basis for saying that your morality is superior?"

Since all morality, even religious morality, is relative, I get to pick the criteria. Therefore your opinion IS RELEVANT, because that is all we have. And I pick anything that promotes equality, and lessens suffering of living beings.

You pick a different morality, but it is also subjective, based on your preferences, sensitivities, personality. There is no objective criterion for morality.

And as I previously proved with my questions, Jewish morality is also relative and subjective. Despite "Nate"'s assertion otherwise, Torah morality was contextual, changing and subject to rabbinic modification.

JP, when you say that Judaism changes but the Torah doesn't change, I agree with you. And it is precisely my point. The Torah has become obsolete. Since we don't follow it any more it has become a relic and historical document.

ksil said...

JP, I literally just won 20 bucks from the guys sitting next to me.

Thank you, i will give ma'aser to the gay and lesbian causes in your honor.

(the bet was you would just link me to a bunch of old nonsense from you your blog!)

Nate, thanks for correcting my grammar, spelling errors etc- - i didnt think you were one of those guys - but i stand corrected.

(surprised you didnt say anything about my capital letters, or lack theof)

davidsbro said...

nate, fyi

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/assertation

Anonymous said...

NC:

The Rabbi's made their Gezeras to preserve Torah observance. As the genbrations deteriorated, they saw that people stricter rules. So they made the Gerzeras. The Torah gave the Rabbi's the license to do this. The basic rules of Torah morality still apply. They only tinkered with the details. We still have shabbos, kashrus, taharas hamishpocha, the Yomtovim, tzedaka, chesed, etc. etc. etc. All the basic concept have remained the same.

And my ability to choose might be subjective. But the Torah's morality is objective.

Anonymous said...

NC:

You said that you pick a morality that lessens suffering of living beings. Y'know, the Torah is big on that. Tzar Baalei Chaim, all that Chesed. So the Torah's morality might be more moral, according to yuour ouwnb criterion than your own. Maybe you should look into that.

Nate said...

"Since we don't follow it any more"

Who is "we"? You mean YOU. I follow it, JP follows it, nearly everyone I know follows it, literally and unquestionably. Find a nicer crowd to hang out with. Preferably one that has morals based on something other than the US Constitution and the whims and fly-by-night fancies of the secular world. Morality does not, and can not exist, independent of Torah, and it has never changed via any Rabbis, nor can you substantiate that opinion. My morality is not based on anything that I have chosen or have preferences about. If hypothetically, the Torah said it's moral to walk around with an apple on my head, I'd do it, regardless of what I think of it. Because God knows better than me, you, or anyone else.

ksil said...

"The Torah gave the Rabbi's the license to do this"

really now.

which rabbis?

let me guess - the one's that you follow!

LOL

ksil said...

Ksil, ....your brain has melted ....

projecting?

Nate, "it has never changed via any Rabbis"

from the mouth of babes! do some research, willya

jewish philosopher said...

"Ksil, ....your brain has melted ... projecting?"

No, just reading your LOLs instead of any kind of facts.

NC said...

JP, my point in bringing up Pinker's lecture is not to prove atheist morality. I was only addressing your assertion about man regressing.

"And my ability to choose might be subjective. But the Torah's morality is objective"

Of course its not. Proof? OK. The Torah says not to murder. Fine, sounds pretty objective. And alot of other religious codes have the same rule. OK. Now please define murder, who is a murderer, and who is a victim of murder. It all depends on your point of view, your context and your interpretation. Which of course is all man made and subjective. The same killing to one man will be cold blooded murder but to another will be self defense and to another will be a legal execution, and to another will be fulfilling divine will.

So it makes no difference that you THINK that your morality is objective. It is not. It is no more objective than the US constitution or the federal penal code. Just one more code in the jumble of legal codes, subject to manipulation and interpretation.

That the rabbis were given the "right" by the torah to change it is the rabbi's claim, of course, to be able to explain away the changes that they found necessary.

Nate, you don't observe the Torah. You don't bring sacrifices, observe laws of impurity, bring tithes, perform levirate marriages, puncture slaves ears, observe the prohibition on interest, or forgive loans in the Jubilee year. Along with a variety of other obsolete laws. And, YOU NEVER WILL. (I'll stick my neck out for that prediction). That you can't or don't want to observe them is of no interest. A law book that cannot be observed is obsolete. Period.

Orthodox Jews observe laws that the rabbis thought were important. BTW, I don't have any problem with JP's essential assertion that orthodox Judaism is really Talmudic/Rabbinic Judaism, not Torah Judaism. Where we differ is their authority and source of it. I claim that the rabbis reinvented Judaism from the dying biblical Hebrew religion, and he claims that they got it from Sinai.

jewish philosopher said...

NC, I wrote:

"About morality progressing, I know of no statistics indicating that the global per capita homicide rate has been falling over let's say the past 500 years, when you include wars, concentration camps, etc. To the best of my knowledge we're drastically regressing."

I don't think Pinker disagrees.

From the lecture:

"The criminologist Manuel Eisner scoured all of the historical records across Europe for homicide rates in any village, hamlet, town, county that he could find, and he supplemented them with national data when nations started keeping statistics. He plotted on a logarithmic scale, going from 100 deaths per 100,000 people per year, which was approximately the rate of homicide in the Middle Ages."

That sounds a tad high - one person in a thousand was murdered each year, but OK. Today, the rate globally is 7.6 per 100,000.

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

I would guess that in medieval Europe there wasn't really much law enforcement, people commonly settled disputes by brawling and so you had some homicides; today people bring lawsuits. So that's an improvement.

"The red bars correspond to the likelihood that a man will die at the hands of another man, as opposed to passing away of natural causes, in a variety of foraging societies in the New Guinea Highlands and the Amazon Rainforest. And they range from a rate of almost a 60 percent chance that a man will die at the hands of another man to, in the case of the Gebusi, only a 15 percent chance. The tiny little blue bar in the lower left hand corner plots the corresponding statistic from United States and Europe in the 20th century, and includes all the deaths of both World Wars."

Stone age people are even more murderous on the average than 20th century Europeans. OK.

It probably just indicates that modern governments are better than anarchy, which I would agree.

And the Torah remains the same. The changes to Judaism, as I think I make clear, are made merely to reinforce Torah observance.

NC said...

" The changes to judaism, as i think i make clear, are made merely to reinforce Torah observance."

That does not seem to be the case. Heter Iska "reinforces" the prohibition of usury? Prusbul "strengthens" the laws of the Jubilee year? Herem of R Gershom reinforces the mitzvah of levirate marriage? Eruv tekhumin? mechiras chametz?

I know that many other rabbinic decrees increased stringency, like those of kashruth and niddah. However, these were also adaptations to contemporary times. ketuba is another good example.

My point is that many of the rabbinic changes were geared to mitigate and modify Torah standards to later times to relieve suffering and to make it more palatable.

One of my beefs is that we are still stuck with these rabbinic rulings that cause much suffering, such as the cases of aguna. The rabbis could change this if they wanted to, but most of them just don't care because they want to protect men's power.

jewish philosopher said...

"Heter Iska "reinforces" the prohibition of usury?"

That's a Biblical loophole, not rabbinic.

"Prusbul "strengthens" the laws of the Jubilee year?"

The Sabbitical is only rabbinical since the exile of the Ten Tribes, so the rabbis allowed this leniancy.

"Herem of R Gershom reinforces the mitzvah of levirate marriage?"

What has that got to do with it?

"Eruv tekhumin?"

The tekhum is also just rabbinical.

"mechiras chametz?"

Since you make bittul, the sale is only required rabbinically.

"such as the cases of aguna"

Where are there cases of aguna? How many Orthodox women do you think there are who are separated from their husbands for over two years, who could actually find someone else, but can't because the husband won't give a get?

Anonymous said...

NC:

The Torah defines who a murderer is, so that not subjective.

Anonymous said...

ksil:

The Torah gave the license to make gerzeras to the Rabbis who got smicha from their Rabbis all the way back to Moshe. Its called the Mesora.

NC said...

"Where are there cases of aguna? "
I don't care how many there are, even if there is just one, it is too many, if it is for a stupid reason.

"Herem of R Gershom reinforces the mitzvah of levirate marriage?"

What has that got to do with it?"

It means that we do chalitza and never Yibum. Even in the sefardi communities yibum stopped in the 1700s.

"The tekhum is also just rabbinical."

I mean reshus harabim, in essense, doesn't exist anymore. Everything is considered carmalit and you can put an eruv around it.

"to the Rabbis who got smicha from their Rabbis all the way back to Moshe."

Sure, if you believe that.

The way I see it, JP, is that the Torah was like the constitution, and the rabbis were like the courts, interpreting and reinterpreting the law to fit society. No US judge claims to have a direct tradition going back to the founding fathers. So they use creativity and common sense to apply it. Rabbis claims to have direct Sinaitic tradition is simply poppycock and not credible, given the technology of the time. It is also counter to the evidence.

My point is that while the Torah cannot be amended, it can be creatively reinterpreted, or ignored, as needed. All of the examples that you commented on are proof of that.

I will venture again and make a prediction, howl as much as you want.

The Temple will NEVER be rebuilt. Animal sacrifices will NEVER be re-instituted.
Priests will NEVER assume their former roles.
Yovel will NEVER return.
The sanhedrin will NEVER be reconsitituted to administered death penalties for religious crimes.
Idolatrous cities will NEVER be burned to the ground.
Slavery will NEVER be restored.

Prove me wrong.

What does this mean? That the Torah is a very human document.

NC said...

Perhaps I am being misunderstood, and my position is being misrepresented.

I do not claim (nor do I believe) that Judaism or Torah is immoral.

The Talmud and Halachic system is exquisitely sensitive to moral issues and has been for thousands of years. I am proud of what Judaism has contributed to civilization.

But it is a subjective system, like all systems, so I do not see it as morally or legally binding in the context of modern world. Just as I can disagree with a Muslim or Christian ethical stance on some issue, and can disagree with the orthodox view.

jewish philosopher said...

NC, just by the way, I prefer not to get into technical Talmudic discussions in this blog because it's going to go over the head of readers with no experience in Talmudic studies. So let me just apologize to anyone out there who has no idea what we're talking about.

"It means that we do chalitza and never Yibum."

The Torah itself explicitly provides that option. I suspect that in more recent times, women are not so happy about just randomly marrying their brothers-in-law in order to produce offspring in the name of their deceased husband. Of course there may be a few exceptions to that.

http://www.amazon.com/Bobby-Jackie-C-David-Heymann/dp/1416556249

Anyhow, yes pretty much all those things like making an eruv, selling chometz, etc are in fact if you look into them loopholes which the rabbis created in their own rabbinical decrees. They never approach a Biblical law and say "You know, pork does really taste good, so we'll let people eat if they sprinkle some holy water on it first."

If the Talmudic law is bogus, I don't understand why Jewish literature would be stratified in the unique way that it is.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2010/03/jewish-literature-seeing-effects-of.html

Besides that the Talmudic interpretation of the Torah is the one accept by the vast majority of Jews since time immemorial. I am not certain that at the present moment there is any Torah observant community which is not Talmudic. (Karaites and Samaritans do exist, however I am not certain there still exists any observant community of them. I am not aware of any Karaite or Samaritan school systems for example.)

"I will venture again and make a prediction"

Simply fantasy and wishful thinking.

About the agunas, most divorces are initiated by the wife

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divorce#Gender_and_divorce

However, following a divorce, women and children suffer more than the husband.

http://health.howstuffworks.com/relationships/marriage/debunking-divorce-myths4.htm

http://health.howstuffworks.com/relationships/marriage/debunking-divorce-myths5.htm

While couples who stick out bad patches often end up doing well in the long run.

http://health.howstuffworks.com/relationships/marriage/debunking-divorce-myths8.htm

The Torah gives to the husband a veto power over divorce in order to decrease the number of impulsive divorces which the wife herself will later deeply regret. It sounds remarkably insightful to me.

Friday, March 18, 2011 3:57:00 AM

NC said...

I'm not sure I understand your point about the stratified structure of Jewish literature being a proof of something. I read the post but I don't understand the logic of proof.

I don't think Talmud is bogus. I might have minor quibbles with your dates about the end of prophecy, but I agree that prophecy ended sometime around the beginning of the second temple. Your period of "early rabbis" I assume you mean "zugot" or nasi. In any case we have remarkably little literature from this time. The Talmud was written much later and references to the second temple period are retrojections and distant memories. We have the apocrypha which give very scant insight as to the nature of Judaism at that time. For example, what was Judaism like at the time of Purim?

It is during this "gap" that rabbinic Judaism as we know it formed. Some time during that period "totafot" came to mean "tefillin". And "pre etz hadar" became "etrog", "shacharit" became morning prayer. Etc, etc. The rabbis then authenticated their innovations by tying them to traditions and biblical verses, as rabbis often do today. (Don't go mixed swimming because of לא תטורו אחרי עיניכםfor example)

"The Torah gives to the husband a veto power over divorce in order to decrease the number of impulsive divorces which the wife herself will later deeply regret."

Why couldn't the same be said for the reverse? Because for the man its no problem. He's not an "agun", he can have sex without it being adultery, and his children won't be mamzerim. Besides, R Gershom's herem expired and thus theoretically he could marry another woman without the divorce. (although probably no rabbi would agree to this)

jewish philosopher said...

If the torah was fabricated by Ezra, then we would expect to find some commentaries on the Torah and that's it. The layers of tannaim, amorraim, rishonim and achronim indicate a gradual spiritual decline from Sinai.

I don't think there was a gap. The Hebrew bible goes right up to the eve of the Greek invasion of Palestine and the Mishnah picks right up with shimon hatzaddik (see avos 1).

"Why couldn't the same be said for the reverse?"

The typical divorce scenario is the woman gets mad and walks out, only to regret it a few years later. The Torah prevents this to some degree by allowing the husband to postpone the final divorce proceedings.

NC said...

You're using self-referential (circular) logic here, JP.

1.The books were written they way they were because of TMS and a great spiritual decline,

2.We know of TMS and spiritual decline because the books say so.

Said another way, a set of assertions cannot prove their own truth.

"The typical divorce scenario is the woman gets mad and walks out, only to regret it a few years later. "

Kind of a strange observation. Do you have any data for that (other than perhaps personal experience)?

"I don't think there was a gap. The Hebrew bible goes right up to the eve of the Greek invasion of Palestine and the Mishnah picks right up with shimon hatzaddik (see avos 1)."

The gap is in contemporaneous writings. The Talmud talks about what happened at Sinai too but its not a contemporaneous source. Since Avos was compiled and written at least 600 years later than the end of the biblical period, they couldn't possibly know how Jews lived 600 years prior. The earliest biblical manuscripts also only go back as far as the Talmudic period, so we also don't know what texts they used prior to that.

"then we would expect to find some commentaries on the Torah and that's it. "

Why? With judicial interpretation of the constitution we've had layers upon layers of interpretations as well albeit for a much shorter history. And the Muslims have an analogous system.

"The layers of tannaim, amorraim, rishonim and achronim indicate a gradual spiritual decline from Sinai."

That is one possible interpretation that the rabbis themselves assert. The more likely one is that life got more complex, and literacy increased, and therefore more commentary was needed and produced, to deal with new realities. One couldn't possible just refer to the torah itself in dealing with a complicated medical halachic questions, for example. This is similar when dealing with contemporary legal issues, which would be impossible without reference to prior case law, statutes, and other earlier sources, besides the constitution.

We don't say that because law libraries are filled with books, this proves a "spiritual" decline from the constitutional period.

jewish philosopher said...

"Kind of a strange observation. Do you have any data for that (other than perhaps personal experience)?"

Most divorces are initiated by the wife.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divorce#Gender_and_divorce

However, following a divorce, women and children suffer more than the husband.

http://health.howstuffworks.com/relationships/marriage/debunking-divorce-myths4.htm

http://health.howstuffworks.com/relationships/marriage/debunking-divorce-myths5.htm

As far as I know Islam (nor anyone else) is comparable to Judaism. Mohammad is the sole authority. The Koran was dictated by him, the Hadith record his personal life and teachings and that's Islam. Any iman today can then teach straight from that. Christianity is similar.

In Judaism, why did the tannaim declare prophesy over 200 bce? Why did the amoraim declare that the ability to make original legal interpretations of the prophets ended in 200 ce? Why did the rishonim declare that the ability to make original legal interpretations of the tannaim ended in 500 ce? Why did the achronim declare that the ability to make original legal interpretations of the amoraim ended in 1500 ce?

The Jews have a tradition going continuously from Adam until today. During certain eras it was oral, not written.

NC said...

"However, following a divorce, women and children suffer more than the husband."

So depriving a woman of her freedom is actually protecting her. I get it.
I suppose that slaves should have been grateful, too.

There are plenty of alternative mechanisms for helping people avoid impulsive decisions. Coercion is not one of them.

"...Why did the achronim declare that the ability to make original legal interpretations of the amoraim ended in 1500 ce?"

I don't deny that what you say is the narrative. But I still do not understand how you see it as evidence. It is internally consistent, but how does that validate its truth? Islam is internally consistent, but that doesn't prove its truth.

"The Jews have a tradition going continuously from Adam until today. During certain eras it was oral, not written."

We only have evidence that this tradition existed from the second temple period.

Because something makes sense internally doesn't make it true. Every religion could make the same claim.

jewish philosopher said...

"So depriving a woman of her freedom is actually protecting her. I get it."

Like the freedom to be poor and alone the rest of her life; maybe.

"There are plenty of alternative mechanisms for helping people avoid impulsive decisions."

Such as? Legislating against divorce? Who says that's going to be better?

"But I still do not understand how you see it as evidence"

Why would Jewish leaders repeatedly abdicate their authority, unless the Torah was really given at sinai and later generations were gradually declining spiritually from that pinnacle.

"We only have evidence that this tradition existed from the second temple period."

What constitutes evidence? Evidence of Judaism supports this tradition.

NC said...

"Such as?" A cooling down period.

Is she better off married to somebody she hates, or as an aguna?

"Why would Jewish leaders repeatedly abdicate their authority, ..."

They aren't abdicating. Quite the opposite. They are the guardians of the tradition. Like in other religions.

JP you repeatedly use the same circular logic, a claim proving its own truth. "A says X. A is correct, because X must be true because otherwise A would not say X. ". Not only is this a logical fallacy, it is used by other religions as well. BTW it is the same logical fallacy as the Kuzari argument. Or your argument based on the Torah reporting the Jewish peoples flaws.

"What constitutes evidence?"
Written records from the time, from independent sources.

ksil said...

NC, in all seriousness - why do you bother?

its like banging your head against a wall.

religion is like a sickness - JP, you have the cancer

jewish philosopher said...

I think that in many areas of life, the Torah wisely advises moderation

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2008/11/genius-of-judaism-pleasure-with-balance.html

I think the same is true about divorce. We don't say that divorce is prohibited

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05054c.htm

We also don't say that a man can unilaterally kick his wife out on a whim

http://www.ehow.com/how_2313204_divorce-islam.html

And we don't say if you're not too happy, divorce is the best solution for everyone.

http://articles.cnn.com/2009-07-02/living/sears.family.divorce_1_no-fault-divorce-tommy-marriage?_s=PM:LIVING

Instead we say that if after counseling and careful consideration, both parties adamantly wish to end the marriage they can do so.

http://www.religionfacts.com/judaism/cycle/divorce.htm

Regarding, my logic, it's not circular, it's perfectly valid. "since we know A happened, therefore B must have happened."

If you are going to require numerous, multinational sources to establish any historic event, then you probably can't establish that anything happened before 1500.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2009/07/is-history-bunk.html

jewish philosopher said...

Ksil, I'm doing great. Hitchens has cancer.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2010/12/end-of-hitchens.html

Nate said...

JP you should have a radio show. A guten Shabbos and a freilechen Purim!

jewish philosopher said...

Maybe I could be the Jewish Rush Limbaugh

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

Nate said...

That would be beyond amazing! Please come visit Baltimore soon!

Nate said...

do you have any idea what this is and where it comes from?

http://www.sacred-texts.com/bib/apo/aes.htm

jewish philosopher said...

I found this

http://earlyjewishwritings.com/addesther.html

Nate said...

do we lend any credence to this stuff?

JRKmommy said...

Re the divorce/agunah issue:

Please, please, please let's avoid confusing any of our OWN explanations for a Jewish law with those that are explicitly stated (or not) in halacha.

Just as keeping kosher isn't necessarily related to food safety and keeping niddah isn't necessarily about keeping the marital spark alive (although these "explanations" are common, there is no real basis for them and the laws apply regardless of whether they make food safer or marriages better), to the best of my knowledge this explanation doesn't exist in the original sources.

Now, there are things that rabbis and civil governments can do to avoid the threat of withholding a get to be used as a weapon in divorce negotiations. In the past, there was a ruling that a recalcitrant husband could be beaten until he said "I give this get voluntarily". Obviously, we don't do that today, but combinations of communal pressure and lobbying for civil laws preventing anyone from benefitting from get extortion have been somewhat successful.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Get_%28conflict%29#Canada

As a Canadian lawyer, it's part of my standard practice to ensure that there is a Get in place before we finish a divorce, and to explicitly tell both parties exactly who to call.

jewish philosopher said...

"do we lend any credence to this stuff?"

I don't believe it is part of Jewish tradition.

Mommy, all the commandments are for our benefit, as the Torah states

And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that He might preserve us alive, as it is at this day. Deut. 6:24

http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt0506.htm#24

Where possible, we should try to discover some of these benefits, although surely we will never fully comprehend God's kindness and wisdom.

Anyway, if for example an orthodox man turned atheist and refused to give a get out of spite, wouldn't you recommend just giving him some delicious chicken soup and discussing with him lovingly what his questions are? That's got to work, right?  We wouldn't want to resort to any harsh comments, let alone violence. ;-)

ksil said...

"Hitchens has cancer"

you have spiritual cancer

jewish philosopher said...

I have tiger blood. LOL.

JRKmommy said...

Right, exploring aspects of halacha and possible benefits or societal context is fine....as long as we are very clear OUR reasons aren't necessarily THE reason. I think we may agree (for once) about this. I've spoken to rabbis and rebbetzins who get frustrated about some over-enthusiastic kiruv (outreach) efforts to "sell" mitzvot (commandments). Their point is that the ultimate reason behind a commandment is simply that it is commanded, and that we need to be honest about the fact that while observance is ultimately best for the soul in the grand cosmic scheme of things, it won't always be easy or have obvious benefits.

The Get issue effects others, and where I live it is also a civil legal issue (see my link about Canadian law). I tell my clients straight out: Yes, you need to get a Get now. No, I don't care what your mother and her rabbi say, you cannot use a Reform rabbi to do it because that won't remove ALL religious barriers to remarriage. Yes, I understand that you don't care what Orthodox Judaism says about this. No, I can't have you swear the Affidavit for Divorce until you have a proper Orthodox Get.

jewish philosopher said...

If the marriage was not orthodox, a get may not be required

Orthodox Judaism does not recognize Reform weddings because, if they did, the children of a Reform woman who remarried would be considered mamzerim, the children of an adulterous relationship, a personal status that does not allow a person to marry a non-mamzer. This allows Reform Jews to become, and marry, Orthodox Jews should they choose to.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_views_on_marriage#Divorce

Nate said...

This is true. My wife was married before and it was by a conservative rabbi. The orthodox rabbi who performed our wedding said she does not need a get because the marriage was invalid from the start, because of the rabbi and because the witnesses were not shomer Shabbos.

NC said...

"Regarding, my logic, it's not circular, it's perfectly valid. "since we know A happened, therefore B must have happened."

That is not a logical argument that I know of, unless A and B have been associated with each other by prior proof or evidence. I don't believe that you have other examples of such an association. So formally, you are making an assertion, not a logical argument. To be correct you would have to argue:

A is X. All X's are B. A therefore B.

It is also self referential.
Layered literature ==> spiritual "decline".
But decline is contingent upon a spiritual "peak", which we only know about from the literature itself.

It is also an argument by special pleading: other religious literature is based on bogus claims. My literature is an exception because X, but without showing why X-like religious literature is not bogus.

Just to set the record straight....

jewish philosopher said...

If indeed the Torah was simply fabricated by Ezra, then why is Jewish literature structured the way that it is?

NC said...

"If indeed the Torah was simply fabricated by Ezra, then why is Jewish literature structured the way that it is?"

Why is any literature structured the way it is? Because of naturalistic, historical reasons.

Can you not understand the scenario, whereby writings and traditions are built upon those of previous generations, including their myths?

That rabbinic literature assumes a decline-- well that is part of the myth. JP, there is no way you can use a claim to prove itself.

You might find the following article of interest:

http://cs.anu.edu.au/~bdm/dilugim/CohenArt/

Anonymous said...

I've seen a number of posts on various Orthodox blogs that vilify Reform, Conservative and religious Zionist Jews on a regular basis. Following your logic- those blogs are equivalent to Stormfront.

jewish philosopher said...

Why would rabbis 300 years ago unanimously claim to have Talmudic knowledge far inferior to rabbis of 800 years ago, if they really didn't? Karaites or Samaritan leaders have no such concept.

Does any orthodox blog have a special feature cataloguing each week the crimes of reform rabbis? I haven't heard about it.

NC said...

"Why would rabbis 300 years ago unanimously claim to have Talmudic knowledge far inferior to rabbis of 800 years ago, if they really didn't? Karaites or Samaritan leaders have no such concept."

I'm not sure I understand the question. Are you asking, "why would somebody say something that is incorrect?"

People say incorrect things for many reasons, JP. Sometimes because of misinformation, sometimes for other reasons.

Karaites and Samaritans don't say this because they don't believe in the rabbis in the first place. That's supposed to prove the rabbis are correct?

Have a little too much to drink on Purim?

Nate said...

Does any orthodox blog have a special feature cataloguing each week the crimes of reform rabbis?

LOL, maybe because the very existence of these "factions" are crimes in themselves!

JRKmommy said...

It's tricky with non-Orthodox marriages. We've asked shaylot (specific questions to rabbis for a ruling), and received different answers, which sometimes hinge on small details. If there were 2 shomer shabbos men at the wedding who saw the giving of the ring, some rabbis would hold that the marriage was valid, which could in turn cause issues if there was no get. [The strangest example I heard involved a play with a wedding scene - the "Be thou consecrated unto me..." phrase was said, a ring was given, kosher witnesses were present, and whoops!] My view is to error on the side of caution and tell any Jewish couple that a proper get is required.

NC said...

Happy Purim!

jewish philosopher said...

"Are you asking, "why would somebody say something that is incorrect?""

More like: Why would all rabbis globally conspire to lie about something when that lie diminishes their authority rather than enhances it? The Karaites and Samaritans made up no such stories concerning their own leaderships, nor do the leaderships of any other religion to my knowledge.

"My view is to error on the side of caution and tell any Jewish couple that a proper get is required."

I guess that's preferable if it can be arranged.

NC said...

"Why would all rabbis globally conspire to lie about something when that lie diminishes their authority rather than enhances it?"

Your question speaks to logic:

1. Can ANY assertion prove its own truth (however reasonable), without using outside evidence?

2. "all rabbis"-- well, all orthodox rabbis. In other words the ones who believe it. The rest of the "rabbis" or other Jews who don't believe it are not 'conspiring'. So you can't use a self-selected group to prove anything, as though it were a universal claim. Its like saying "every single Catholic clergyman claims that Jesus was resurrected, so it must be true"

3. And even the orthodox rabbis-- they aren't lying or conspiring because they really believe that their idea is true. You are not conspiring. Any more than priests or imams are conspiring. Its part of the theology, like Catholic clergy diminishing their own authority in deference to the vatican. What's so strange?

JP I'm really having a hard time understanding your argument. Am I missing something?

Every faith could make an argument from uniqueness, to "prove" its own truth. Isn't the story of Jesus unique in many ways? His birth? His miracles? His teachings Why would all of Christianity's founding fathers "lie" to tell such a story if it weren't true? And why would their current clergy "conspire" to perpetuate such a story?

JP, you need to demonstrate theory of mind here. Take notice of how you think, and imagine other people thinking the same way. Think of how motivations and biases affect human reason.

BTW I don't pretend to be objective or to claim a unique insight into truth. You just use a different standard than I, and I am calling you out on that.

jewish philosopher said...

"Can ANY assertion prove its own truth (however reasonable), without using outside evidence?"

Why not? Thousands of people are sitting in prison after having plead guilty to a crime.

"they aren't lying or conspiring because they really believe that their idea is true."

Exactly. And they believed that because it was true - the Jewish people have been gradually declining spiritually from the pinnacle at Mount Sinai.

NC said...

"Why not? Thousands of people are sitting in prison after having plead guilty to a crime."

There is always some supporting evidence of the crime. A person does not confess in a vacuum. Often there are ulterior motives for a confession and prosecutors investigate for that.

If I walk into a police station one day and tell them that I held up a bank, yet there was no report of a bank robbery and no witnesses to a crime, they are more likely to send me for a psychiatric evaluation than to jail.

jewish philosopher said...

We know of Aristotle, Alexander the great and the pelliponesian war only because of a few ancient Greek manuscripts. No one seems to be bothered by that.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2009/07/is-history-bunk.html

NC said...

OK. Now you tell me. What is the difference between say, those documents (and relics) that tell about Alexander the Great, and the New Testament's account of Jesus?

Tell me, what is the difference, between the accounts of the crusades, and, the Quran's accounts of Mohammed?

jewish philosopher said...

Well, I can tell you why Judaism is entirely different from Christianity or Islam.

http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2011/01/does-ezra-jesus.html

Nate said...

NC:

For 1 thing, all agree that the gospels account is nearly 400 yrs after the actual events. The Torah's accounts are as they happened.

NC said...

JP-- my questions relates to your comment about the knowledge of Aristotle, that ancient documents are reliable sources of history. I was simply asking about what YOUR criteria is for an ancient document to be reliable.

Nate-- how do you know that? The earliest known manuscripts are the dead sea scrolls and the Septuagint, which are dated about 2 or 3rd centure BCE. Much later than the events depicted in the Bible. Most texts are written in past tense and appear to be retrojections.

jewish philosopher said...

In regards to anything we have to compare the plausiblity of the claim and the strength of the evidence, as I explain here.

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

Nate said...

The earliest known manuscript is the Torah itself. It proves itself, and does not need any other supporting documents. I suspect that even if some archaeologist uncovered a Torah that he dates to the exact day of Shavuos in that exact year, you would find another reply to say its not authentic.

NC said...

"The earliest known manuscript is the Torah itself. It proves itself, "

This is not supported by either archeological findings or reason itself.

As any logician knows, a claim cannot prove itself.

There are no known complete manuscripts of the Bible before the Septuagint. (which as you knows, differs slightly from the Hebrew version). The earliest complete Hebrew manuscript is post Talmudic. All "masoretic" text we use now is based on codexes dating much later than the biblical period, using later scripts as well.

Nate said...

The Septuagint differs purposely, but I'm sure you know that already.

nc said...

"The Septuagint differs purposely, but I'm sure you know that already."

OK, and?

Don't you find it interesting, that the most important book of the Hebrews, being their founding book from 1000 years prior, there no written copies in Hebrew have been found, only Greek? And the Hebrew texts that were found, at Qumran, consists of several variations of holy texts? What does that mean to you?

Nate said...

It means as much as saying we haven't found any evidence of life on other planets, so therefore there is no life on other planets. In other words, bupkes.

NC said...

"It means as much as saying we haven't found any evidence of life on other planets, so therefore there is no life on other planets."

But we DON'T assert that there IS life on other planets. (Except for scientologists...) As far as we know, there isn't. Maybe there is, and we'll discover it one day. But until then, I would never claim that there is such life. The burden of proof would be on he who claims there is.

You, on the other hand, seem to be sure about lots of things that can't be confirmed, and in fact are not believed by most individuals who actually study the subject. I call that dogma.

JRKmommy said...

NC - why is it so surprising?

The Qumran texts survived due to their particular environment (cave in a hyper-arid climate next to the Dead Sea).

In terms of a secular, academic approach to ancient Israelite history, we occasionally find things that can be objectively corrolated with external evidence - the Mesha stele, Assyrian inscriptions and records, an inscription from Hezekiah's water tunnel, etc. Older evidence is more speculative. As my history professor put it, "a small group of people wandering around a desert don't leave much for archaeologists to find". External references increase after the establishment of the kingdom.

There is some potential evidence of the Exodus, Ark of the Covenant and even the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, but it is newer and more speculative (google "Exodus Decoded").