Saturday, November 14, 2009

Chazal's Belief in a Flat Earth

This Wednesday will be the second part of my live Internet class about Chazal's belief in a flat earth and the sun moving behind the sky at night. In this part, I will be reviewing how various authorities over the ages dealt with it. You can download the audio/ video for the first part (which will be necessary for understanding the second part) here. To register for the classes, click here. Next week, I will be moving on to the topic of geocentrism vs. heliocentrism.

By the way, there is a change of schedule for the zoology classes - they are starting next Sunday instead of this Sunday.

24 comments:

  1. I don't suppose you have notes or transcripts you could post online of your talks? My 8 year old laptop hasn't had sound in a couple of years (not to mention there may be hearing impaired people who would like to enjoy your talks). Just thought I would ask - thanks either way.

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  2. Will you remember to bring the source that explain how chazal works perfectly with modern astronomy?

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  3. "Chazal's belief in a flat earth"

    Should we interpret this blog post title as: "Chazal and the belief in a flat earth," "All of Chazal's belief in a flat earth," or "Some of Chazal's belief in a flat earth"?

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  4. I don't suppose you have notes or transcripts you could post online of your talks?

    No, sorry, but I have written an article on the topic that I plan to publish.

    Will you remember to bring the source that explain how chazal works perfectly with modern astronomy?

    You mean Maharal? Yes, I'll be discussing that too. If you have another source, please share.

    Should we interpret this blog post title as: "Chazal and the belief in a flat earth," "All of Chazal's belief in a flat earth," or "Some of Chazal's belief in a flat earth"?

    You'll have to listen to the class to find out!

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  5. "You mean Maharal? Yes, I'll be discussing that too. If you have another source, please share."

    No, I don't mean the Maharal. There are many who explain Chazal exactly as we know with the planets circulating around the sun. I'm no expert, and don't remember who says it offhand, but I'm not the one giving a shiur.

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  6. There are many who explain Chazal exactly as we know...

    There's not "many." There's not a single Rishon who explains it that way. I assume that you are thinking of Malbim, who claimed that the correct understanding of the Jewish Sages’ view is that the sun passes beneath the watery depths on the other side of the world at night, and that the dispute with the gentile scholars was regarding whether there was land on the other side of the planet or not. Yes, I will be discussing that view, too.

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  7. Jeff, I have a question for you: What do you personally make of the fact that every single Rishon, without exception, explained Chazal's view as being that the sun goes behind the sky at night, and not on the other side of the world? Do you accept that this is a viable/ likely/ correct pshat in the Gemara?

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  8. Well being that I do no believe in Yeridas Hadoros after reading Prof. Kellners bookת I i have long ago dismissed most Rishonims understanding of any Gemara as immaterial.

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  9. What does yeridas hadoros have to do with how Rishonim understood the Gemara? The reason why the Rishonim's understanding carries great weight is that they were much closer to the time that it was written, and therefore more likely to correctly understand what Chazal were talking about.

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  10. I cannot believe that with all the scientific tools available to us, and the amount of empirical evidence we have gathered ver the years that the Rishonim should actually matter to us.

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  11. So being that Chazal were closer to berias haolam they understood creation better than us?

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  12. I cannot believe that with all the scientific tools available to us, and the amount of empirical evidence we have gathered ver the years that the Rishonim should actually matter to us.

    Of course it does! Just as R. Saadiah Gaon and others used Arabic texts to understand Hebrew words.

    But I'm not clear whether you are playing Devil's advocate or not. What do YOU believe about the Rishonim?

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  13. So being that Chazal were closer to berias haolam they understood creation better than us?

    They were significantly closer to the writing of Bereishis to know the meaning of the words better than us, yes. They were not significantly closer to the actual creation of the world to understand it better than us.

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  14. they werre significantly closer to adam acc to everyone, so would the not understand his creation better?

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  15. I do not believe their word matters more than the opinion of anyone else.

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  16. they werre significantly closer to adam acc to everyone, so would the not understand his creation better?

    Does a physicist born in 1950 understand the Big Bang better than a physicist born in 1960?

    I do not believe their word matters more than the opinion of anyone else.

    Well, both academics and traditionalists would (generally) disagree with you.

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  17. um ur example has nothing to do with this-adam himself we r talking not creation

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  18. According to Gil,
    "Rav Saadia Gaon is quoted by the Ri of Barcelona in his commentary on Sefer Yetzirah (p. 254a) as saying that a minority (miktzat) of sages believed that the earth is flat." and "Bamidbar Rabbah 13:17 says that the world is like a ball. Ramban on Numbers 7:12 quotes this midrash and seems to add that the world is surrounded by water, like the third view above. "

    But something tells me you've already read Gil's essay on this topic.

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  19. Natan:
    I would love to listen to your science of torah classes but I am busy at work on Wednesdays. Is there any way to switch your classes so that the zoology and torah class be on Wednesday and the science and torah class be on Sunday? I know it might not be up to you but I figured I'll try. Thanks.

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  20. You say re heliocentricism

    "There's not "many." There's not a single Rishon who explains it that way"

    I assume this does not mean that there were no rishonim who were helicentricists

    as the meiri in hakdamah to beis habechirah was

    http://www.zootorah.com/controversy/Jewish%20Press%20Series.doc

    dovid

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  21. Meiri was NOT a heliocentrist. The quote that you refer to was misunderstood. He did not mean that the sun is in the center of the solar system; he meant that its sphere is the middle one of the seven spheres surrounding earth.

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  22. Wouldn't it be interesting to know if Chazal believed that the universe is flat, as opposed to the earth? After all, it appears (from this deepastronomy video at least) that the universe is flat:
    http://wimp.com/universeflat/

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