Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Complete Review of Sefer Chaim Be’Emunasom

I have compiled the previous dozen or so posts, with some minor revisions, into a single document which you can download in PDF format here. Please circulate it as widely as possible. If you have a way of delivering it to the rabbonim who wrote approbations for the book, that would be helpful, and especially if you can encourage them to actually read it. Anyone concerned for the rationalist legacy, or anyone concerned with the honor of the Rishonim and Acharonim whose opinions have been rewritten by R. Schmeltzer, should strive to circulate this critique and to protest this book.

39 comments:

  1. I showed this to one of the "Maskimim" and his response was "nu, az ma, ze kimo in echad amar she'hu ratza linhog rak yom echad rosh hashana, bitayneh she'ze haya minhag eretz yisroel ad shnas 4900"

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  2. What?!

    A better mashal would be that the sefer is like someone claiming that Rosh HaShanah was always two days and that nobody every said otherwise!

    Didn't he understand that this sefer is distorting the Rishonim?

    And isn't he aware that there were numerous Acharonim who also said that the Gemara contains obsolete scientific beliefs?

    And doesn't he understand the difference between intellectual history and halachic practice?

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  3. >>"And doesn't he understand the difference between intellectual history and halachic practice?"

    It seems to me that fighting for the legitimacy of the rationalist approach regarding the proper analysis of rishonim and achronim is very much an issue of acceptable halachic practice--establishing what is acceptable to believe about Chazal and what is not. I would imagine you agree that ascertaining proper beliefs also falls under the category of halachic practice.

    Your attack on this sefer is essentially a defense of your rationalist beliefs.
    To claim otherwise would be rather disingenuous.

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  4. This is a topic that I will be dealing with in my article in the next issue of Hakirah.

    You are correct that the legacy of the rationalist approach is my primary concern. However, it remains true that even if someone is not a rationalist, they still ought to be deeply disturbed at the distorting of the views of Rishonim and Acharonim in this sefer. Or is it the case that if you're not a rationalist, it's okay to make up whatever you want about what the Rishonim and Acharonim say? You think that it's okay, because "we" don't follow the Rambam, to rearrange his words in order to give them a different meaning?

    Issac, your criticisms on this blog have constantly been a transparent attempt to delegitimize me rather than a serious consideration of the issues that I raise.

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  5. >>"Issac, your criticisms on this blog have constantly been a transparent attempt to delegitimize me rather than a serious consideration of the issues that I raise."

    I'm very sorry that you have taken such a defensive posture.
    I would view my comments as an attempt to tighten your arguments against R' Schmeltzer and not let them overreach.
    If tightening them means painting him as a less devious villain and enemy of the truth, so be it. I have no stake in this matter either way.
    I asked you to establish your major claim against him at the very outset and you never complied. This made me suspect that you have an agenda to paint this book in the worst possible light.

    You claimed not to have any personal grudge against him so I can't imagine why you cannot accede to that very basic request.

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  6. Issac, if that's your goal, then fine. But I have addressed your question repeatedly and I am not going to scan the entire book! Read the posts again and see my latest comments to the previous post. Better yet, get hold of the sefer and see for yourself. It's utterly absurd to claim that the sefer is anything other than an attempt to present a comprehensive overview of THE mesorah, THE historical tradition, and a claim that no other approach ever existed.

    If you have any further comments on this aspect, please place them in the thread on the previous post, not this one.

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  7. "And doesn't he understand the difference between intellectual history and halachic practice?'

    Please elaborate.

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  8. Halachic practice today may well be very different from that of the Rishonim. This does not mean that it is acceptable to distort what the Rishonim actually said!

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  9. Yeah, like claiming that there were no rishonim that held of corporealism is a distortion of the truth. Obviously, we do not believe it today, but there were clearly rishonim that held of it. To deny this is to deny the truth.

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  10. Let's pretend I was a follower of one of the rabbis who wrote the hakdamos, and that I agree with your analysis. (I'm not, and I do, but that's not relevant.) I might start to have serious misgivings about my rabbi. I might even decline to read any more of his sefarim, or listen to his shiurim, or slip into criticizing him in front of my friends. In other words, I might over-react, instead of just react. What kind of advice would you have for me so that I don't fall into any traps, as far as emunas chachamim is concerned (something that Pirke Avos says is a good thing).

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  11. "You are correct that the legacy of the rationalist approach is my primary concern. However, it remains true that even if someone is not a rationalist, they still ought to be deeply disturbed at the distorting of the views of Rishonim and Acharonim in this sefer."

    I agree, the real issue here is not the divergence of rationalism vis-à-vis mysticism. It is the concept of truth and intellectual honesty that according to all opinions needs to be the bedrock of our Judaism. "The Seal of Hashem is Truth" is not a cute slogan but something that is profoundly meaningful and something that our Mesorah has always strived for.

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  12. My wife said what Phil said, when I described this series of threads to her. You'll never convince these people, and you shouldn't even try, because they regard this idea (distortion though it may be) as a foundation stone of their Judaism. If you could get them to doubt that, they wouldn't likely stop at rationalism, they'd more likely slide all the way through skepticism to nothing.

    Look at the blogger XGH - he seems to have fallen through openness to alternatives, to open skepticism, and fallen back into Orthopraxy. Is it enough that he still keeps the litmus test of kashrus, shabbos, taharas hamishpacha? Or is it a problem that he may be doing so in the mold of the Vilner Apikorus?

    And beyond that - the taxi drivers, and tailors, and techies in America, who were raised in the yeshivas, began to doubt, but since they had been trained to believe that Mod-O let alone C or R were total apikorsus, they didn't regard them as valid alternatives, but instead fell out of Judaism entirely.

    Yes, they're distortions, yes they shouldn't have been said lechatchilah, yes, it gives Torah a bad name in certain camps. But undermining the faith of the rank and file is a dangerous undertaking, if you can't convince the rabbeim that they themselves have a consistency problem.

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  13. I have studied every citation that you quote from the Rambam in your critique. Not one of them is support for the ‘rational’ approach that you claim is his, but instead, these citations indicate only that you do not know how to learn. (Actually, that is a much more rational possibility than your claim: that the Maskimim - among them Rav Moshe Shapiro and Rav Elya Weintraub, both of whom know every word of the Rambam backwards and forwards and claim fealty to his approach - have somehow missed the fact that you have discovered: that Rambam’s approach is different than the accepted norm).

    Though the Rambam does differentiate between different aspects of Talmudic law, this does not deny his prior statement that all of Torah SheBaalPeh is MiSinai. In the prior citation, he refers to the Source of all Torah, and all the Talmud and TorahShebaalPeh is indeed MiSinai. This is the only point that Rav Schmelczer makes. The citations that seem to indicate otherwise do not reflect anything different, but instead, are all referring to ’Hachra’ah’ - the derivation of law. Law and Halacha are not synonymous with the Gemara, which is merely the source of law. The conclusion of the Gemara is not always apparent, and not every Halacha or conclusion is MiSinai, but rather, are often in the hands of the Rabbanim, who lead the generations in a particular Hanhaga. The Rambam differentiates these types of derived laws from Halacha L’Moshe MiSinai, where the Hanhaga is determined through revelation or the equivalent, and not human derivation, but this does not warrant your conclusion. The Rambam indicates nowhere that TorahShebaalPeh itself, and the ideas and source material contained in the Gemara, are not all from Sinai – “Eilu V’Eilu”.

    Because you and other secular-trained professors misunderstand these basic ideas, which are indeed subtle, and in the absence of a rebbe build mountains on silly errors, that is not reason for Rav Shmelczer to spend time addressing your mistakes, which would only legitimate an approach that is nothing but Amhaaratzus.

    In short, you cannot cite ONE REPUTABLE SOURCE to indicate that there exists varied and diverse approaches to Judaism. You can only point to particular citations which you claim justify your approach, but where are the like-minded thinkers who understood the Torah as you do, and have adopted this idea of 'differnt schools of thought?' The Roshei Yeshiva you criticize are not ignoring the Rambam, on the contrary, they have studied the Rambam very carefully and adhere to his approach, accepting all the Ikkarim. It is only the academic pretenders, who need to find distinctions and different schools of thought that have invented this nonsense.

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  14. As I have mentioned, Rav Shlomo Wolbe zt’l, (in Alei Shur 2 – Pgs. 141-147) completely discredits the attitude that sees different schools of thought in Torah. Actually, I am reluctant to cite him here, for with no rebbe, and no Shimush Talmidei Chachamim, you only know how to read texts in Hebrew, will misunderstand these ideas, and then, in your usual cutesy manner, will cite one sentence or two (respectfully, of course), and reject that as ‘the Mussar approach”, but I mention Rav Wolbe here for the benefit of your readers.

    Please know and recognize that the leaders and scholars of the Yeshiva world who reject the ideas of Natan Slifkin, Marc Shapiro, Irving Greenberg, et al, do so not out of ignorance, nor out of blind obedience to their own rabbis, and not out of a refusal to ‘address the major questions that are raised’, but rather, they reject these ideas because they think you are silly and mistaken, and are reflective of the fact that you don’t have a living Mesorah. You are not taken seriously because you don’t know how to learn, and pretend scholarly credentials.

    It is not the Roshei Yeshiva who refuse to debate with you who are dishonest and have no courage, rather, it is you, who can only compete in a world of virtual reality, but not in the Bais Medrash. It is only on a computer screen that you actually believe that your own ideas can be equated with Maharal, Vilna Gaon, and AriZ”l, not to mention Rav Moshe Shapiro, Rav Wachtfogel, Rav Hillel, Rav Weintraub and all the others.

    “Emes MeiEretz Yitzmach"

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  15. Just to clarfiy my earlier comments - when classifying your citations of the Rambam as Hachraah L'halacha, I was referring only to your citations as evidence the quotes from Hakdama L'Mishneh Torah and Periush HaMishnayos, but not to the citations from the Moreh, in which indeed Rambam does express his thoughts in different form (but not a different school of thought). The derech of the Rambam in the Moreh differs than elsewhere, and does warrant a detailed explanation, and Rav Schmelczer does devote an entire section towards the traditional understanding of the Moreh. But, suffice it to say that the Moreh is not rejected in any form by the Roshei Yeshiva, both Rav Shapiro and Rav Weintraub cite it frequently in their lectures, and they disagree with your analysis that Moreh indicates Rambam shared a view or perspective other than the traditional Mesorah.

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  16. Eppur si muove, or as R' Sokol has taught us repeatedly, you have to read Rambam on his own terms, not through the filters of commonly-accepted ideas. His ideas on Olam Haba are completely at odds with popular conceptions. His way of moderation owes a lot to Aristotle. But a lot of the yeshivish probably ignore Hilchos Deios, as well as those parts of the Shmonah Perakim that encourage, e.g., exercise as a necessary prerequisite for his (and the Greeks') ideal of mens sana in corpore sano - that one can't learn properly if one feels awful & out of shape.

    On science, he follows Aristotle, as doe the Chasidim - four elements, etc. Do R' Schmeltzer and his leaders deny that there are 100+ elements? That oxygen is a separate element from hydrogen, and that water is a compound of both?

    The course of contemporary psak also follws developing technology. My wife has seen a teshuvah of R' DZ Hoffman about electric light bulbs that doesn't mention the Rambam's issue of heating metal till it glows. But all modern poskim address that directly. Why the difference? Because in the time of the Melamed leHoil, electric light bulb filaments were made from carbonized vegetable fibers, while today, they are made from extruded metal wire. Could modern poskim have addressed the modern light bulb without acknowledging that science and technology change with the times?

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  17. You'll never convince these people, and you shouldn't even try, because they regard this idea (distortion though it may be) as a foundation stone of their Judaism. If you could get them to doubt that, they wouldn't likely stop at rationalism, they'd more likely slide all the way through skepticism to nothing.

    Who cares???

    Can't anybody see that we already live in an open society for at least 200 years, and that putting your head in the sand doesn't change that? Whoever wants a life of materialist hefkerus will find a way to get it, and doesn't need any intellectual arguments at all.

    Why are we all so concerned about preserving Klal Yisrael, which is the Ribbono Shel Olam's responsibility, rather than worrying about pursuing truth, which is our obligation?

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  18. But undermining the faith of the rank and file is a dangerous undertaking

    If someone wants out, he'll find a way. There is no need to even step out of the Beis Midrash or take your eyes out of the Gemara. Five good "tzarich iyuns" of R. Akiva Eiger are enough to prove that the Baalei Tosafos didn't know how to learn, if that's what you want to think.

    For someone who thinks, every line of Gemara is a potential "apikorsishe kasha", if that's what he's looking for. Our emunah has to be based on something other than turning off our minds. We have to start again to base our Judaism on awareness of G-d and of our own souls.

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  19. Let's pretend I was a follower of one of the rabbis who wrote the hakdamos, and that I agree with your analysis... I might start to have serious misgivings about my rabbi.

    Phil, if you ask this rabbi, and he stands by his endorsement of this book, then the misgivings are well deserved and you probably need to find yourself a different rabbi. This is why many talmidim of Rav Moshe Shapiro have become ex-talmidim of Rav Moshe Shapiro over the last few years.

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  20. You'll never convince these people, and you shouldn't even try, because they regard this idea (distortion though it may be) as a foundation stone of their Judaism.

    Thanbo, you're right that for some people, if these Gedolim are wrong, then Judaism is wrong. But those kinds of people are never going to take my critique seriously anyway. The only people who will take it seriously are those who are able to open their minds a little - and those people will understand that there is more to Orthodox Judaism that these particular rabbonim.

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  21. a student said...
    I have studied every citation that you quote from the Rambam in your critique. Not one of them is support for the ‘rational’ approach that you claim is his, but instead, these citations indicate only that you do not know how to learn.


    Ah, the classic response! Wow, you shot me down!

    Actually, that is a much more rational possibility than your claim: that the Maskimim - among them Rav Moshe Shapiro and Rav Elya Weintraub, both of whom know every word of the Rambam backwards and forwards and claim fealty to his approach - have somehow missed the fact that you have discovered: that Rambam’s approach is different than the accepted norm)

    You think that THEIR approach is the accepted norm?! Forget about the last 800 years of scholarship, forget about Centrist Orthodoxy - even in much of the Charedi yeshivah world, the approach of this sefer is seen as being bizarre. Ask around!

    Though the Rambam does differentiate between different aspects of Talmudic law, this does not deny his prior statement that all of Torah SheBaalPeh is MiSinai.

    Of course not - because Rambam does not use the term "Torah SheBaal Peh" to refer to every word in the Vilna Shas.

    In the prior citation, he refers to the Source of all Torah, and all the Talmud and TorahShebaalPeh is indeed MiSinai. This is the only point that Rav Schmelczer makes.

    And this is false. Because Rambam says very clearly that there are several categories of statements in the Gemara that are not MiSinai.

    The citations that seem to indicate otherwise do not reflect anything different, but instead, are all referring to ’Hachra’ah’ - the derivation of law.

    Er, no. Rambam speaks about decrees that were innovated by Chazal.

    The conclusion of the Gemara is not always apparent, and not every Halacha or conclusion is MiSinai, but rather, are often in the hands of the Rabbanim, who lead the generations in a particular Hanhaga.

    So now you're saying that it's not all from Sinai? Now you're a heretic too!

    The Rambam differentiates these types of derived laws from Halacha L’Moshe MiSinai, where the Hanhaga is determined through revelation or the equivalent, and not human derivation, but this does not warrant your conclusion.

    And what "equivalent" to Sinaitic revelation would you be talking about? On the contrary, Rambam explicitly states that disputes arose because of the limitations of the human intellect, and that different decrees were enacted because of differing ideas as to what was neccessary.

    The Rambam indicates nowhere that TorahShebaalPeh itself, and the ideas and source material contained in the Gemara, are not all from Sinai

    You mean, apart from his explicit statements to that effect?
    Of course Rambam did not believe that Torah SheBaal Peh is not from Sinai - because Rambam defined Torah SheBaal Peh as that which IS from Sinai. But he explains that the Gemara contains lots of other things apart from that.

    Because you and other secular-trained professors misunderstand these basic ideas...

    Yes, along with plenty of rabbonim in the yeshivah world... why don't you go ask Rav Aharon Feldman, or better yet, Rav Elyashiv? Or just ask around in Lakewood and Mir, see if everyone learns the Rambam in the same way as you.

    that is not reason for Rav Shmelczer to spend time addressing your mistakes

    Uh-huh. And why is it neccessary for him to reverse the order of Rambam's words?

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  22. In short, you cannot cite ONE REPUTABLE SOURCE to indicate that there exists varied and diverse approaches to Judaism.

    I didn't cite one, I cited dozens. Of course, you would say that they are, by definition, not reputable! Hirsch is not from our Beis HaMidrash, Rabbeinu Avraham is a forgery, Maharam Schick and the Ruzhiner are to be ignored, Rav Herzog is a Zionist, the Rishonim on Pesachim 94b were only speaking about the chitzoniyos ha-inyan even though nobody every mentioned that before, etc.

    You can only point to particular citations which you claim justify your approach, but where are the like-minded thinkers who understood the Torah as you do, and have adopted this idea of 'differnt schools of thought?'

    Rabbeinu Avraham, Rav Hirsch, Rav Herzog, Rav Nadel, etc. Heck, I don't need even need to quote them, how about Rav Aharon Feldman and Rav Elyashiv? They fully agree that there was a different school of thought - they just say that "they could say it, we cannot."

    The Roshei Yeshiva you criticize are not ignoring the Rambam, on the contrary, they have studied the Rambam very carefully and adhere to his approach, accepting all the Ikkarim.

    I'd love to hear how they explain this Rambam according to R. Schmeltzer's approach, and how they justify REARRANGING the order of Rambam's words!

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  23. Please know and recognize that the leaders and scholars of the Yeshiva world who reject the ideas of Natan Slifkin, Marc Shapiro, Irving Greenberg, et al,

    Don't forget to include Rav Hirsch, Rav Herzog, Rav Elyshiv, Rav Shmuel Kamenetzky, and Rav Aharon Feldman, etc!

    do so not out of ignorance, nor out of blind obedience to their own rabbis, and not out of a refusal to ‘address the major questions that are raised’, but rather, they reject these ideas because they think you are silly and mistaken, and are reflective of the fact that you don’t have a living Mesorah.

    It's true, I don't have a living mesorah, Rav Aryeh Carmell died two years ago.

    You are not taken seriously because you don’t know how to learn, and pretend scholarly credentials.

    Always a great excuse not to have to actually provide arguments to back up one's position!

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  24. It is not the Roshei Yeshiva who refuse to debate with you who are dishonest and have no courage,

    Dishonest? No courage? Is this "opposite day"?

    By the way, why don't you use your real name? Lack of courage perhaps?

    rather, it is you, who can only compete in a world of virtual reality, but not in the Bais Medrash

    What is that even supposed to mean? Either you can demolish my case, or you can't.

    It is only on a computer screen that you actually believe that your own ideas can be equated with Maharal, Vilna Gaon, and AriZ”l, not to mention Rav Moshe Shapiro, Rav Wachtfogel, Rav Hillel, Rav Weintraub and all the others.

    In print, too. And it's not my own ideas, it's those of countless RIshonim and Acharonim.

    Let's pick Rav Hirsch's essay as an example. What do you say about that?

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  25. The derech of the Rambam in the Moreh differs than elsewhere, and does warrant a detailed explanation, and Rav Schmelczer does devote an entire section towards the traditional understanding of the Moreh.

    I think you meant to say "NON-traditional." The traditional way is that of R. Shmuel Ibn Tibbon, the authorized translator, and co.

    suffice it to say that the Moreh is not rejected in any form by the Roshei Yeshiva, both Rav Shapiro and Rav Weintraub cite it frequently in their lectures, and they disagree with your analysis that Moreh indicates Rambam shared a view or perspective other than the traditional Mesorah.

    You are really detached even from the Charedi reality. Standard charedi doctrine is not that the Moreh is secretly a kabbalistic work; rather, it is that it was written before the revelations of kabbalah and is now obsolete. It most certainly is rejected; Rav Elyashiv said so explicitly. Or is Rav Elyashiv also an "ignorant academic"?

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  26. In fact, I can quote from letters I received from Roshei Yeshivah in Lakewood and elsewhere, insisting that the Moreh is rejected, not that it is secretly a kabbalistic work!

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  27. By the way, Student, if you'd like to understand the Rambam in the Perush, see the comments on Hirhurim on this post: http://hirhurim.blogspot.com/2009/08/reviewing-critique.html

    I know that Lawrence Kaplan is an academic, but you hold of Rambam, so you surely hold of the principle that one should "Accept the truth from wherever it comes."

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  28. But undermining the faith of the rank and file is a dangerous undertaking

    Do the 'rank and file' really believe that Chazal knew everything about modern science (or knew better)?

    I think the opposite is the case; "Chaim b'Emunosom" is the one who is "undermining faith" of today's "simple Jew" who assumes that Judaism is compatible with the knowledge that he has of the real world.

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  29. "and the Ruzhiner are to be ignored"

    Where is this Ruzhiner?

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  30. Ephraim, good point. On my website, I have dozens of letters from people whose emunah was harmed by rebbeim insisting on the Chaim B'Emunasam- type approach.

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  31. http://hebrewbooks.org/5302

    Check out pages 8-9.

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  32. This is why many talmidim of Rav Moshe Shapiro have become ex-talmidim of Rav Moshe Shapiro over the last few years.

    I happen to be one of them, after trying to get any kind of a straight answer out of him, first in a letter an then in person. I don't know about anyone else here, but I am old enough to remember when Rav Moshe was still an accessible person who sat in the Beis Midrash with his talmidim (not like when I spoke to him a few years ago, when I had to wait outside a locked door for an 'audience' with him), and, more importantly, was intellectually honest enough to admit to mistakes, both in and out of shiur.

    I learned by him 30 years ago at Ohr Somayach, and maintained contact with him for many years afterwards, but today I cannot bring myself to take him seriously, after he has associated himself with this kind of obscurantism. Yes, he is a big genius. So what? No matter what you want to believe, you can find some genius who supports it. Character is much more important, and I have not been impressed with his recently.

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  33. Science as known to us during the last 200 years was not known to hazal. They looked at the nature and came up with ad-hoc explanations. The scientific inquiry was totally alien to the sages of old, whether they were Jews or Gentiles. Hazal discussed what they thought they knew at the time, and what they knew factually was very little or totally erroneous compared to what we know today. The attempts to rectify the conflict between modern knowledge and old writing is pathetic at best. I still hear from yeshiva bochers that the Planet Earth is fixed and the sun goes around the earth, because "shemesh b'Givon dom etc" . The same bocher, BTW uses GPS in his car! Science is a democratic-egalitarian enterprise, the conclusion of science are imposed on us. Our religion is a choice. The very thought that science will eventually "prove" divery chachmim shows very little understanding of both science and religion.
    Avishai

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  34. Ephraim is apparently full of undirected anger. I'm sorry, but there's not much I can say to that. Whatever I say will likely be dismissed.

    E.g., "Why are we all so concerned about preserving Klal Yisrael, which is the Ribbono Shel Olam's responsibility, rather than worrying about pursuing truth, which is our obligation?"

    R' Wolbe, in Alei Shur, in the section on kaas (I was just explicating this to our mussar vaad last night) speaks very strongly against this kind of defeatist attitude. (well, his point was more inner-directed, but it's similar to this situation) It leads to weakness of emunah.

    We have to each do what we can, take baby steps, if we fall down get up again and try again, and eventually succeed, with God's help. If we look at the job and either say "It's too big for me" or try to do too much too quickly and quickly fail, and then say "I give up, it's in God's hands", the goal will not be advanced.

    We have to do our shtadlonus, and not give up on ourselves. "Let Go and Let God" is a twelve-stepper idea, not a Jewish idea. Sure it's God's business, but by the same "imitatio dei" token, it's our business, through "kol yisrael areivim zeh lazeh," "lo taamod al dam rei'echa," and similar verse sentiments, to care about Klal Yisrael.

    Think Globally, Act Locally.

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  35. @Avishai: "The scientific inquiry was totally alien to the sages of old, whether they were Jews or Gentiles. "

    I generally agree with your post, but I think the above statement is overstating the case. In this article,
    http://www.aishdas.org/toratemet/en_method.html
    Gil Student argues, "What we will see is that the sages were similarly concernced with scientific reality. They conducted experiments and consulted with experts to determine how halacha should be applied. "

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  36. This entire approach leaves me very conflicted. On the one hand the approach of the Maharal seems preferable to people who claim that the Tanaim and Amoraim were completely correct about all scientific matters, but it seems like the approach of the Maharal simply isn't born out by the source texts. Regardless, Rabbi Schmeltzer's approach, claiming that the approach of the Maharal is the only valid approach, seems to be even more distasteful and outright intellectually dishonest.

    Anonymous, it might not be immediately obvious to the individual that GPS relies on so much of our understanding of astronomy. Maybe you should ask the individual if he thinks that we have have sent probes to other planets.

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  37. Ephraim is apparently full of undirected anger. I'm sorry, but there's not much I can say to that. Whatever I say will likely be dismissed.


    Thanks for the free psychoanalysis, but it's much more simple. I'm full of very directed disappointment in "Gedolim" whose knowledge of Torah and the world is much too narrow and who unfortunately refuse to admit that obvious fact.

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  38. R' Wolbe, in Alei Shur, in the section on kaas (I was just explicating this to our mussar vaad last night) speaks very strongly against this kind of defeatist attitude.

    You also misunderstood the whole point of what I wrote. I didn't say "there is nothing we can do", I said, "this is not our obligation", and I was explicitly addressing the claim of some here that we have to distort the Torah and basically lie to people so that they don't go "off the derech". Being opposed to this has nothing to do with the issue of hishtadlus, bitachon, or anything related.

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  39. @Ephraim: "I'm full of very directed disappointment in "Gedolim" whose knowledge of Torah and the world is much too narrow"

    I think you should add the words: "in the areas I deem important."

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