Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Rambam on the Definition of Torah from Sinai

Rewriting Jewish Intellectual History: A Review of Sefer Chaim Be’Emunasom
Part 2: Rambam on the Definition of Torah from Sinai


In the very first paragraph of the introduction to the work, where R. Schmeltzer explains that the goal of the work is to demonstrate the sanctity in every single statement of Chazal, he enlists the support of Rambam, with the following quotation regarding the words of Chazal:
...שהעתיקו איש מפי איש, מפי משה רבינו מסיני... נמצא, שכולם מה' אלקי ישראל
(רמב"ם יד החזקה - הקדמה לספר יד החזקה)

R. Schmeltzer uses Rambam’s words in reference to his claim that every single statement of Chazal was transmitted to Moshe by Hashem. But when Rambam says that “they are all from God,” he is not referring to every statement of Chazal! This is abundantly clear without having to cite Rambam’s statements in the Moreh about how Chazal sometimes erred in science and other such statements by Rambam. One only needs to look at the sentence immediately preceding this quote, in which Rambam notes that the Gemara also includes laws that were innovated by Batei Din subsequent to Sinai:
וענין שני הגמרות הוא, פירוש דברי המשניות, וביאור עמקותיה, ודברים שנתחדשו בכל בית דין ובית דין, מימות רבינו הקדוש ועד חיבור הגמרא. ומשני הגמרות, ומן התוספתות, ומספרא וספרי, מכולם יתבאר האסור והמותר, הטמא והטהור, החיוב והפטור, הפסול והכשר, כמו שהעתיקו איש מפי איש, מפי משה רבינו מסיני:

Even worse is when this source is cited again in the first chapter. The introductory paragraph to the chapter (p. 21) explains that the purpose of the chapter is:
to demonstrate that all the words of Chazal, including halachos and aggados, and that which does not include laws, was received “man from man, from Moshe Rabbeinu at Sinai” (quotes are in original)

The quoted text is from Rambam’s introduction to the Mishneh Torah, indicating that in the view of Rambam, even aggados were received from Sinai – which has no basis whatsoever in the writings of Rambam. The citation from Rambam appears on the next page, as the second quote enlisted in support of the chapter’s thesis, as follows:
וענין שני הגמרות הוא, פירוש דברי המשניות, וביאור עמקותיה, ודברים שנתחדשו בכל בית דין ובית דין, מימות רבינו הקדוש ועד חיבור הגמרא. ומשני הגמרות, ומן התוספתות, ומספרא וספרי, מכולם יתבאר האסור והמותר כו' כמו שהעתיקו איש מפי איש מפי משה רבינו מסיני וכו' נמצא מרב אשי עד משה רבינו עליו השלום, ארבעים דורות. ואלו הן... ומשה רבינו מפי הגבורה. נמצא, שכולם מה' אלקי ישראל:

From R. Schmeltzer’s citation, it seems that after discussing the contents of the Gemara, Rambam concludes that it is all from God, transmitted to Moshe at Sinai. But upon checking this in the original, I was stunned to see that R. Schmeltzer has inverted the order of the text of Rambam! Here is the original citation, with the text that was quoted by R. Schmeltzer in bold:
...נמצא, מרב אשי עד משה רבינו עליו השלום, ארבעים דורות. ואלו הן... ומשה רבינו מפי הגבורה. נמצא, שכולם מה' אלקי ישראל:
כל אלו החכמים הנזכרים, הם גדולי הדורות. מהם ראשי ישיבות, ומהם ראשי גליות, ומהם סנהדרי גדולה. ועמהם בכל דור ודור, אלפים ורבבות, ששמעו מהם ועמהם. רבינא ורב אשי, הם סוף חכמי הגמרא. ורב אשי, הוא שחיבר הגמרא הבבלית, בארץ שנער, אחר שחיבר ר' יוחנן הגמרא ירושלמית, בכמו מאה שנה. וענין שני הגמרות הוא, פירוש דברי המשניות, וביאור עמקותיה, ודברים שנתחדשו בכל בית דין ובית דין, מימות רבינו הקדוש ועד חיבור הגמרא. ומשני הגמרות, ומן התוספתות, ומספרא וספרי, מכולם יתבאר האסור והמותר, הטמא והטהור, החיוב והפטור, הפסול והכשר, כמו שהעתיקו איש מפי איש, מפי משה רבינו מסיני:
גם יתבאר מהם דברים, שגזרו חכמים ונביאים שבכל דור ודור, לעשות סיג לתורה, כמו ששמעו ממשה בפירוש, שנאמר (ויקרא יח, ל) ושמרתם את משמרתי, עשו משמרת למשמרתי (מועד קטן ה' ע"א). וכן יתבאר מהם, המנהגות והתקנות, שהתקינו או שנהגו, בכל דור ודור, כמו שראו בית דין של אותו הדור...

In the original text, Rambam first discusses the explanation of the mitzvos, which is how he defines Torah SheBe’al Peh. He then describes the transmission of this through the generations, and concludes that section by saying that “they are all from God.” After this, Rambam states that the Gemara also includes matters that were innovated after Sinai. Rambam does not say that these are from God! And it is perfectly clear that he would not include Aggadata in this category either. But R. Schmeltzer has reversed the order of Rambam’s sentences, placing his statement that “they are all from God” at the end, so as to make it seem as though Rambam is saying that everything printed in the Gemara is from Sinai!

54 comments:

  1. Rabbi Slifkin,

    This sefer sounds like it will stimulate interesting debate. In fact that's what *should* have happened, IMO, instead of bans, but it's happening now. I see nothing wrong with such discussion as long as there is the required element of "modeh al ha'emes".

    Here is a comment by R. Yosef Blau on the Hirhurim post of "Thank God for the Modern Orthodox World"( December 07, 2005):

    Dear Gil,
    Your initial comments are excellent. The meaning of our belief that Torah She B'al Peh was given at Sinai is subject to many interpretations. See for example the introduction of the Rambam to his perush on Mishniot,Igeres of Rav Shrira Gaon, and Chidushei Haritva Eiruvin 13B. There are also a variety of views about the level of scientific knowledge of Chazal. The key question is whether there is a definitive pesak on these matters similar to one on a specific halachic issue. The notion that there is only one acceptable opinion, which is determined by a group of rabbis declared as the gedolim, is a recent one.
    Personally, my learning daf yomi, particularly masechtot Nidda with respect to science, Shabbat with respect to medicine and Eiruvin with respect to Math has led me to follow the opinion of the Rambam as described by his son, that Chazal had a mesora in halakha but not in science.
    Yosef Blau
    Yosef Blau | 12.08.05 - 3:46 pm | #

    (Not having read Chaim Be’Emunasom, I can't critique it, but I would add that one good reference for the topic of Mesorah is Schimmel's the "Oral Law" with R. Simcha Wasserman's notes.)

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  2. The Rambam also holds that the Sages created new halakhos: link

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  3. " The quoted text is from Rambam’s introduction to the Mishneh Torah, indicating that in the view of Rambam, even aggados were received from Sinai – which has no basis whatsoever in the writings of Rambam."

    ---
    In the language of Rabbi Slifkin and other posters at this blog, "surely the Rambam has read Menachos 29b."

    I look forward to seeing how you propose Rambam interpreted the story in Menachos 29b (and I think I can safely assume you already considered this source):

    "Hash-m put Moshe in the eighth row in R. Akiva's class. Moshe could not understand the class (dealing with crowns on letters), he felt weak. A question was asked, and R. Akiva's only answer was 'We know this from a tradition from Moshe from Sinai'; Moshe felt better."

    The implication is, I suppose??, that a teaching could be both new (in Akiva's time) AND from Sinai at the same time. Sounds odd, but I'm sure many writers have tried to reconcile it. I'm curious how Rambam deals with this story.

    (Eagerly looking forward to the rest of your posts.)

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  4. Rabbi Slifkin:

    Quoting out of order is indded unacceptable.

    BUT, is it not possible that the Rambam is saying that EVEN the laws that were created by future Batei DIn were still also given to Moshe at Sinai? Isn't that the traditional understanding of Chazal who say even what future students were already "mechadesh" was also given at Sinai prior to their being Mecahedesh?

    If so, while you make some decent points here -- isn't your proof from the words of the Rambam really no proof at all??

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  5. is it not possible that the Rambam is saying that EVEN the laws that were created by future Batei DIn were still also given to Moshe at Sinai?

    No. Rambam is not saying that, since his words "they were all said to Moshe at Sinai" are written in connection with a specific component of the Gemara which does not include those later innovations. You might want to say that he nevertheless held that way. But he does NOT say it.

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  6. Every true Chidush is MiSinai, and that tells you, if you dare to be honest, what MiSinai means.

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  7. Rabbi Slifkin:

    I am not sure I understand. In the text of the Rambam he says two thing "They were all from God" and "They were all given to Moshe at Sinai" -- no although you are correct that it is completely unacceptable to reverse the order of the Rambam -- but still -- the END of the Rambam DOES say that they were all from Sinai! In what way is that fundamentally different than saying they were all from "Elokey Yisrael"?

    Again, no excuse to change the order & I can hear an argument that saying they were from Elokey Yisrael is stronger than from Sinai -- but I am not sure why a strong argument cannot be made that the Rambam is indeed saying they were all from Sinai.

    I don't see you being on such strong ground here.

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  8. "Isn't that the traditional understanding of Chazal who say even what future students were already "mechadesh" was also given at Sinai prior to their being Mecahedesh? "

    besides Rambam not saying it, the book is not saying that, but that these opinions were received “man from man, from Moshe Rabbeinu at Sinai”. surely the chiddush that future students are mechadesh was not transmitted to them until they were "mechadesh" it.

    kt,
    josh

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  9. but still -- the END of the Rambam DOES say that they were all from Sinai!- Yitzi

    Yitzi, no it doesn't! the MIDDLE of Rambam says that it was all from Sinai - referring to the previously discussed category. But not to the next category!

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  10. Why dont you post the pertinent pages for to see for ourselves exactly what shmeltzer was impling and what he wasn't. I suspect you are reading way to much into his quotes. It is perfectly normal, acceptable, and common to bring a stronger quote first before second quote from earlier.

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  11. Moshe, I quoted it exactly as written. It's fine to bring a stronger quote first before a second quote from earlier, but not to reverse them in a single paragraph so as to make it look as though the earlier quote was written in reference to the later quote!

    How about this: "God preserves... all the wicked... And all the righteous... He destroys." All the same words, just a different order!

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  12. A hiddush was given at Sinai in the sense that it was implicit in the content of the Torah given at Sinai and only discovered by a later generation. So Rabbi Aqiva traced back his shiur to a principle that was handed down Misinai - in other words, he may have been the the first to infer these particular ideas from the Sinaitic content, but they were "given at Sinai", implicitly, nonetheless.

    The laws of physics also came into existence at the moment of creation even though the process of unraveling them is still ongoing.

    Much of the depth and nuance of certain scientific theories or formula is fleshed out over many generations, and oftentimes it is realized that concepts introduced centuries ago lead to fascinating implications and applications that would be unrecognizable to those who initially proposed the concepts.

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  13. Rabbi Slifkin (& Rabbi Waxman) -- I finally looked inside & ultimately you are correct & what R. Schmeltzer did is pretty sneaky & incorrect.

    But Rabbi Slifkin (& Rabbi Waxman)-- I don't think the proof is from the part you quote. In the part you quote the Rambam says "Devarim Shenischadshu" & in theory it could be possible to say the conclusion 'mipi Moshe MiSinai" could go on that as well. And Rabbi Waxman's point could be disputed.

    You should rather quote later in the Rambam where he explicitly writes "Vecheyn Mishpatim Vidinim Pelaim SHELO KIBLU OSAN MIMOSHE"

    That proves your point much clearer.

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  14. ""Hash-m put Moshe in the eighth row in R. Akiva's class. Moshe could not understand the class (dealing with crowns on letters), he felt weak. A question was asked, and R. Akiva's only answer was 'We know this from a tradition from Moshe from Sinai'; Moshe felt better."

    The implication is, I suppose??, that a teaching could be both new (in Akiva's time) AND from Sinai at the same time. Sounds odd, but I'm sure many writers have tried to reconcile it. I'm curious how Rambam deals with this story."

    If your translation is 100% accurate, that is not how I would read that story at all.

    Moshe was taken to Rabbi Akiva's class, where he was teaching something that Moshe knew nothing about. And so he felt weak that all his work was lost, and the people abandoned G-d's way.

    But then, somebody asked a question on some slightly related issue to which R. Akiva could only answer "moshe m'Sinai", and so Moshe felt better that the core was still intact and it was only these new things which were added and derived.

    This type of experience to me was common place when I had my artwork critiqued by fellow classmates. I was amazed that they could see things in my work that I did not realize I had put there, but indeed there it was!

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  15. Yitzi - your charitable interpretation vis-a-vis d'varim shenischadshu simply doesn't work with Rambam's entire point with the categorization here. But thanks for your further reference, which makes R. Schmeltzer's distortion of Rambam even more blatant.

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  16. "You should rather quote later in the Rambam where he explicitly writes "Vecheyn Mishpatim Vidinim Pelaim SHELO KIBLU OSAN MIMOSHE"

    I think that the best approach is to see R. Schmeltzer's sefer "inside" and in context.

    From what I recall, the Rambam clearly says when explaining "talmidim of Beis Shammai shlo shimsu kol tzarcham" and elsewhere in the Hakdama to Mishnayos, that certain halachos were passed down and certain ones were not.

    For example, he says that "ayin tachas ayin" and the identity of Esrog which are explanations of Torah Shbksav(and I think affect basic Jew life) was always in place. Emunah in basic mesorah, which differs from maskilic history, is to assert that there was an unbroken chain of Jewish communities who followed certain basic principles of interpretation of Torah S'hbal Peh.

    However, from what I recall, the Rambam clearly says that not everything was passed down.

    There is also the issue of Ruach Hakodesh, behind the chiddush of new dinnim. This is disscused in Schimmel's "The Oral Law" I mentioned.

    Again, I would like to see the full context of R. Schmeltzer's sefer to see how he deals with all sources. What about Doros Harishonim? What about R. Dovid Zvi Hoffman( which RSRH critiqued strongly in private)?

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  17. How do you know that there was any connection between the laws that R Akiva was deriving from the crowns, and the law that he said was halachah l'Moshe miSinai?

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  18. (My question was addressed to Daganev and especially Phil)

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  19. Shades - I will be later discussing R. Schmeltzer's approach to opinions which differ from that which he declares the sole legitimate approach; or you can take a look at the sefer yourself, chapter 60, and see what he does with them. It's mind-boggling.

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  20. "I will be later discussing R. Schmeltzer's approach to opinions which differ from that which he declares the sole legitimate approach"

    I'll wait for your discussion.

    Parethetically, I believe "S" of On the Main Line has discussed RSRH's criticism of Mar Shmuel.

    It's relevant I think, because we see how RSRH z'l dealt with it(whose views interestingly, are now the subject of criticism !).

    R. Klugman in his biography notes that RSRH heaped withering criticism in a *private* letter on "Mar Shmuel" because he felt that German Orthodoxy could not afford a public split. This was different from how he dealt with Orthodox supporters of Austritt, or his public criticism of S. Rappoport's defense of Zachariah Frankel.

    I would like to know what "Mar Shmuel" said, because after all, R. Hoffman held it was legitimate. Either way, RSRH did not publicly ban it, and that could have been the approach today as well regarding Chazal/Science, etc.

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  21. forget shmezler, you had plenty of time since printing of the precursor to chaim biemunosm "likut kedushas hatorah" to collect your own set of sources, do you have anything to show for it? him being wrong doesn't make you right, never yet has an alternative view been comprehensively presented.

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  22. It's off-topic, but let me just mention a reference :

    "The following is from Mordechai Breuer, "Modernity Within Tradition," re the Mar Samuel affair:

    "Hirsch... took issue with Hoffmann's scholarly manner of writing. Hoffmann had written about 'new laws' introduced by the teachers of Mishnah and Talmud under certain historical circumstances, about 'new theories' in the area of legal doctrine, and about Mar Samuel's 'humanitarianism,' which was supposed to have led to certain halakhic decisions... But what Hirsch found unforgivable was the manner in which Hoffmann had cited the writings -- and thus given the appearance of endorsing the authority -- of leading scholars of Wissenschaft des Judentums who denied the divine origin of tradition... Hoffmann determinedly refused to do penance before Hirsch. His dogmatic propositions coincided in every point with those of Hirsch, and his view of Jewish scholarship corresponded perfectly with [R. Esriel] Hildesheimer's." (pp. 185-186).
    Breuer goes on to note that "nothing at all about the Mar Samuel affair" reached the public. "Orthodox Jewry kept its internal differences to itself as much as possible. All circles were agreed on the desire to avoid hillul ha-shem" (p. 188).
    Dan | 09.11.06 - 3:13 pm | #


    http://www.haloscan.com/comments/onthemainline/115790887657101120/#262561

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  23. never yet has an alternative view been comprehensively presented.

    Um...
    Mysterious Creatures
    Hishtanus HaTeviim by R. Nuria Gutel
    The Science in Torah by R. Leo Levi
    Sacred Monsters

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  24. Um...
    Mysterious Creatures
    Hishtanus HaTeviim by R. Nuria Gutel
    The Science in Torah by R. Leo Levi
    Sacred Monsters


    I'm looking for a collection of sources that speak for themselves. Sort of like what Shmelzer did.

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  25. I don't get at all what you are saying. If R. Schmeltzer had merely collected sources that speak for themselves, I wouldn't be critiquing his work! And if you are looking for a comprehensive presentation of the other perspective, then why would sources+analysis be worse than sources alone? Still, if you are looking for sources alone, you have torahandscience.blogspot.com

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  26. I found this link on YU Online("The Transmission of Torah MiSinai") which summarizes basic views, and is based on a paper called “The Process of Transmission and the Emergence of Controversy in Jewish Law” by a Rabbi Koll.

    http://www.yutorah.org/togo/5769/shavuot/articles/Shavuot_To-Go_-_5769_Mrs_Kahan.pdf

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  27. Bea, good point.
    My understanding of the story as written here is that there was no direct connection. However, I would find it hard to believe that a question was asked and answered that had nothing to do with the topic at hand, even tangentially. If it was, I would think that fact would be part of the story.

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  28. An even better place to start would be R. Chaim Eisen's essay on Aggedata:
    http://www.hakirah.org/Vol%204%20Eisen.pdf

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  29. "I don't get at all what you are saying."

    I think A Fan is looking for an essay / book which gives a bunch of sources which explain why your approach is the correct approach.

    For example:
    "Pesachim 94b:

    The sages of Israel say: "The sphere (Earth) remains fixed and the constellations revolve," while the sages of the nations say: "The sphere revolves and the constellations remain fixed."...the sages of Israel say: "during the day the sun moves below the canopy (sky) and at night above the canopy," while the sages of the nations say: "during the day the sun moves below the canopy and at night below the ground." Rebbi said: "Their words seem more correct than ours..." "

    But with more sources like that, which combined can't be persuasively refuted by R. Schmeltzer as a legitimate path.

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  30. Um...
    Mysterious Creatures
    Hishtanus HaTeviim by R. Nuria Gutel
    The Science in Torah by R. Leo Levi
    Sacred Monsters

    Um... isn't listing Mysterious Creatures and Sacred Monsters as two works a bit... well, at least misleading?

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  31. . אדם-אברהם קAugust 21, 2009 at 2:34 AM

    Menachos 29b

    אמר רב יהודה אמר רב בשעה שעלה משה למרום מצאו להקב"ה שיושב וקושר כתרים לאותיות אמר לפניו רבש"ע מי מעכב על ידך אמר לו אדם אחד יש שעתיד להיות בסוף כמה דורות ועקיבא בן יוסף שמו שעתיד לדרוש על כל קוץ וקוץ תילין תילין של הלכות אמר לפניו רבש"ע הראהו לי אמר לו חזור לאחורך הלך וישב בסוף שמונה שורות ולא היה יודע מה הן אומרים תשש כחו כיון שהגיע לדבר אחד אמרו לו תלמידיו רבי מנין לך אמר להן הלכה למשה מסיני נתיישבה דעתו חזר ובא לפני הקב"ה אמר לפניו רבונו של עולם יש לך אדם כזה ואתה נותן תורה ע"י אמר לו שתוק כך עלה במחשבה לפני אמר לפניו רבונו של עולם הראיתני תורתו הראני שכרו אמר לו חזור [לאחורך] חזר לאחוריו ראה ששוקלין בשרו במקולין אמר לפניו רבש"ע זו תורה וזו שכרה א"ל שתוק כך עלה במחשבה לפני

    Rav Yehudah said in the name of Rav, when Moshe ascended on high he found HKB"H, engaged in affixing coronets to the letters [of the Torah]. Said Moshe, ‘Ribbono Shel Olam, who stays Your hand?’ [i.e. who/what compels you to do this] He answered, ‘There will arise a man, at the end of many generations, Akiva b. Yoseph by name, who will expound upon each tittle heaps and heaps of laws’. ‘Ribbono Shel Olam’, said Moshe; ‘permit me to see him’. He replied, ‘Turn yourself round’. Moshe went and sat down behind eight rows [and listened to the discourses]. Not being able to follow their arguments he was ill at ease, but when they came to a certain subject and the disciples said to the master ‘from where do you know it?’ and he [R. Akiva] said to them ‘It is a law given to Moshe from Sinai’ he [Moshe] was comforted. Thereupon he returned to HKB"H, and said, ‘Ribbono Shel Olam, You have such a man and [yet] You give the Torah by me!’ He replied, ‘Be silent, for such is My decree’. Then said Moshe, ‘Ribbono Shel Olam, You have shown me his Torah, show me his reward’. ‘Turn yourself round’, said He; and Moshe turned round and saw them weighing out his [R. Akiva's] flesh at the market-stalls. ‘Ribbono Shel Olam’, cried Moshe, ‘such Torah, and such a reward!’ He replied, ‘Be silent, for such is My decree’.

    ____
    ____

    The above quote from Menachos is rather dramatic and of course teaches many things. However, it does not teach that the non-legal material that would eventually be taught by Chazal stems from Sinai. Note that the content of Rabbi Akiva's discourse was legal and as such he responds that it is "הלכה למשה מסיני" - "it is a LAW given to Moshe from Sinai". Furthermore this is not a contradiction of the plain reading of the Rambam cited by Rabbi Slifkin. This passage does not necessarily imply that the particular law was literally transmitted from Sinai by Moshe, but rather that, as Rabbi Maroof suggests, it is implicit within the revelation of the laws received at Sinai. At Sinai a system was transmitted, and therefore that which emerges guided by the principles of that system can similarly be said to have been so transmitted. Or if you prefer, the law Rabbi Akiva taught is a specie that reflects the genus הלכה למשה מסיני.

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  32. In the spirit of man disani lach lichavrech lo savod, did you bother to call shmelcer and ask him about this? I don't know if he would've listen, I certainly would've sent him a letter by certified mail first. There may be a very innocent explanation for his mistake? It could have easily been a bad cut and paste, or some other copyists mistake. The Rambam might have been saved to a file, and not been properly proof-read. You are definably required to give him the benefit of the doubt. Did he make the same mistake in the first edition of the sefer? One letter is all it would have taken. Would have believed him? There is more than enough in there to support his view without the need to blatantly twist a rambam, more than that it would be foolish to think someone wouldn't notice it on the first page!!!

    This is not to say you need to contact him about any critique of his style or inferences, but something like this that looks more like an error than an underhanded presentation should certainly be clarified first.

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  33. @Bea: "How do you know that there was any connection between the laws that R Akiva was deriving from the crowns, and the law that he said was halachah l'Moshe miSinai?"

    Actually, I don't claim to know, but it did seem like the natural interpretation (and of course I always stop after first glances), Daganev's other interesting interpretation notwithstanding. By the way, the "translation" I gave might not be a translation, since it came from the "Point by point summary" section of dafyomi.co.il

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  34. In the spirit of man disani lach lichavrech lo savod, did you bother to call shmelcer and ask him about this?

    Shmeel - I have no objection to people publicly critiquing my work! That's part and parcel of the publishing process. But a critique is very, very different from a ban.

    There may be a very innocent explanation for his mistake? It could have easily been a bad cut and paste, or some other copyists mistake.

    When you see the next ten posts that I have on this sefer, you'll realize that it is part of his methodology, not an innocent error.

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  35. Um... isn't listing Mysterious Creatures and Sacred Monsters as two works a bit... well, at least misleading?

    I can see why you might see it that way, but have you read the two? In Sacred Monsters, not only did I rewrite virtually everything from Mysterious Creatures, I also added about 40,000 words of new material.

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  36. I think A Fan is looking for an essay / book which gives a bunch of sources which explain why your approach is the correct approach.

    Again, if it's a long list of sources that you are looking for, see the superb collection meticulously put together by my friend DES at torahandscience.blogspot.com

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  37. Shmeel - I have no objection to people publicly critiquing my work! That's part and parcel of the publishing process. But a critique is very, very different from a ban.

    This is not an intellectual critique, this is calling him a fraudist, he is entitled to the benefit of doubt.

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  38. I've seen the Science and Torah blog, while there is much info there, it narrowly focuses on one topic, and many of the sources of less than %100. I'm looking for someone to compile a list of sources documenting all the general shitos of Rationalist Judaism, in a point by point rapid-fire way, just like Shmezler. From parts of the Torah being a Moshol to the scientific nature of miracles to Nevuah being influenced by culture, to modern scientific conflicts, and it's halachik implications. Most I've what I've seen, have been articles with a lot talk, but little sources, with complicated readings and analysis. One thing Shmelzer did very well, is present the sources and let them speak for themselves. Nothing was presented as "it just has to be", "fits in to a general worldview", "can't imagine he could possibly hold that". I wouldn't mind if someone used Shmelzer's chapters as a format, and presented alternative views for everything he quoted. What am I going to give my kids when they come home from yeshiva holding Shmelzer's sefer as required reading?

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  39. There is absolutely no realistic possibility that this was an innocent copyist error. Even a cursory look at this Rambam reveals that he is clearly not saying that everything in the Gemara is from Sinai, which is what R. Schmelzer claims he is saying. And when you see all my posts (over a dozen), you'll realize how distorting Rambam's position on this is a fundamental part of his methodology.

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  40. "A Fan," I personally prefer to present these topics in detail, rather than just briefly list sources. Several of the issues you mention are discussed in my book The Challenge Of Creation. And I hope to include in this website a comprehensive collection of resources and links. But if you want to make something more concise and kid-friendly, go for it!

    One thing Shmelzer did very well, is present the sources and let them speak for themselves.

    If only he would have done that!

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  41. "I can see why you might see it that way, but have you read the two? In Sacred Monsters, not only did I rewrite virtually everything from Mysterious Creatures, I also added about 40,000 words of new material."

    But the flip side of that is does MC include anything which is not in SM, such that it should be included in addition. Not that I really think it matters.

    :)

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  42. and in r gutels sefer im sure u resd the haskama from r nevenzahl, which for some reason u ignore

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  43. Eh? In what way do I ignore it? It's not as though I deny that there are those who deem evolution heretical!

    By the way, please write proper English. I let this comment through, but in future I will not allow comments written in web slang.

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  44. You ignored the fact that he is very adamant regarding r shlomo zalmans shita and how he has been misrepresented

    And let us not forget that you chose to ignore as well is quotes from r kook regarding science

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  45. lopar, I have the sefer in front of me, and I have absolutely no idea what you are talking about.

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  46. r kook saying science means nothing "because they always change their mind" sounds charedi now does he not?

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  47. I doubt that Rav Kook said that. And I certainly did not "choose to ignore it," as you claimed; I have never heard of it!

    And if someone were to say that science means absolutely nothing, they would be wrong.

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  48. i do not have the sefer in front of me but it is there and the author brings r kook re evolution as well and discusses the seeming contradiction

    this further magnifies the point that you quote figures such as rav kook, r hirsch and the like without an iota of knowledge or understanding of the weltanschauung of either of these giants

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  49. Well, all I can find is him quoting Rav Kook about how evolution is compatible with kabbalah.

    I am sure that if you ever have an actual source contradicting my citations of Rav Kook and Rav Hirsch, you will post them. Meanwhile, I'll have to be skeptical about your claims of my misrepresenting them.

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  50. R. Slifkin--

    I have read one of your books and it had some interesting things to say and my understanding is that you have had a positive impact on many from a Torah point of view with your writings. Therefore I ask you in a spirit of friendliness, why waste your time with this --your talents are going to waste with this critique because (1) to those who think that the "maskimim" Rabbis are infallible they won't listen to you and (2) its hard for me to believe that anyone else takes a book like this very seriously. In other words I am encouraging you not to worry about this and go back to the work you've been so good at and had such a positive influence through.

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  51. RNS: I can see why you might see it that way, but have you read the two? In Sacred Monsters, not only did I rewrite virtually everything from Mysterious Creatures, I also added about 40,000 words of new material.

    I read them both (years apart).

    1. I've seen many books going from 200 pages to 500 in later editions. They never changed the name completely. That only would confuse the customers and make the authors bibliography artificially longer.

    2. If they are two separate books, than SM is stealing large parts of MC without quoting it properly.

    3. Would you tell us what is the value of reading them both today?

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  52. Seeing the full context from Menachos of the story, I'm further inclined to believe that my initial understanding of that was correct. It all brings back so many memories from my days at Shalhevet now.

    re Rav Kook: I've read numerous times that Rav Kook took science seriously. I think it's R. Miller who says that it doesn't count cause it's always changing it's mind.

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  53. Pops - you raise an excellent point, which I had already given a lot of thought to. I plan to write a whole post on it.

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  54. Shimon, I advertise SM as a thoroughly revised and vastly expanded edition of MC.

    MC has a small amount of material that is not in SM and will be in a future work. It also has a subtle but huge methodological error throughout the work which has so far gone unnoticed by everyone and which I plan to write about.

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