Thursday, December 24, 2009

Messianic Wonders and Skeptical Rationalists

In yesterday's e-shiur, I referenced my article Messianic Wonders and Skeptical Rationalists which I published in Hakirah. You can download it here, and I'll add the link to the "free resources" section on the right.


  1. I'd like to start a new thread of comments on this subject: the blatant contradiction and falsehood of calling Am Yisroel and Torat Chayim (i.e. "Aish Das") an "ism" called Judaism. Aren't isms typically things that come and go - communism, fascism, etc.? Despite this, JudaISM is that which contemporary non-Orthodox individuals have created - they have turned Torat Chayim into a religion. But it is not a religion, nor belief system. It is a Nation of Kohanim, a Treasured People. A generationally transmitted form of factual knowledge from the Source of existence, HaShem Yisborach. This idea is especially emphasized by Rav Hirsch. I have mekoros for those interested.

  2. Please post my comment urging the beginning of a new string on how Torah is not Judaism. Call it Rationalist Torah if you want.

  3. rationalism is definitely an ISM as it came and went.

  4. Ultimately, Jeff, there are limits to the rational mind. And it's quite humbling, even from a secular perspective (see David Chalmer's material). That's where emuna comes in - loyalty to the truth, rational trust, as my Rabbeim call it. For instance, one cannot prove that Torah is misinai. Or that G-d exists. As my Rosh Yeshiva once said - you use your brain, maximizing your intellectual and rational faculties, and then you are not making a leap of faith, but rather steps of faith in the *same* direction as you were moving using your rational faculties. So, rationality cannot be the ultimate final world (as I heard from a Rav in LA a few years back) - yet it is critically important, and the consequences of not using reason properly are severely dangerous.

  5. Anonymous,

    I'd like to see your mekorot, plus something you've written that goes into more depth. The reason is that I've shared these precise sentiments and am curious if our conclusions are similar.

  6. >>>> Aren't isms typically things that come and go - communism, fascism, etc.

    To anonymous (8:58): In that case, I should expect monotheism to disappear sometime soon, as well.

    -ism simply means doctrine or theory. And the term “Judaism” simply reflects the doctrine of the Jewish people. Now what you really should ask is there an authentic Judaism, i.e. only one true version of the “religion and beliefs of the Jewish people”. But I’m not sure Rabbi Slifkin would care to have this discussion on his blog.

  7. "...[He] saw ministering angels that were sitting and carving precious stones..."

    I'm wondering what the gemara intends to convey by specifying that the student saw *angels* carving the precious stones. Why didn't the gemara simply state that he came across gigantic precious stones while on the voyage? The fact that angels are involved seems (at least to me) to indicate that the student experienced a supernatural, as opposed to a natural, event. This seems to me an important detail, and I was hoping that it would be addressed by one of the mefarshim you bring in your article. Any thoughts?

  8. An ism is a belief (or system of beliefs) accepted as authoritative by some group or school (WordNet 3.0, Princeton University). By calling Torah observance Juda*ism* you are lumping together the Creator's Nation with every other ism and religion. Similarly, to call it a "doctrine" or refer the system using the phrases "religion and beliefs" reduces our Nation to the same level as any other doctrine that is studied, or any other religion, or any other set of beliefs.

    Religion - a strong belief in a supernatural power or powers that control human destiny; an institution to express belief in a divine power (WordNet 3.0, Princeton University)

    Belief - mental acceptance of and conviction in the truth, actuality, or validity of something (American Heritage Dictionary)

    Conviction - an unshakable belief in something *without need for proof or evidence* (WordNet 3.0, Princeton University)

    Religious people do not require proof or evidence for the belief according to the sheer definition of the term! Let's look at a couple passages in the Torah.

    What does the word "eidoos" mean? It is that which was handed down to Moshe on Har Sinai. It means "Evidence"! Clearly, the Torah is not a religion. If so, what is Judaism? What is the Jewish religion? It is bogus. It is not genuine. It is misleading. It's the "other side" of Torah "observance" - non-observance, Jewish religion, not Nation of Kohanim, Holy Nation, Am segulah, etc. "so that your children will know" - know, not believe. You can believe anything, if your imagination lets you. You can't know everything - that is, use the evidence to come to a logical conclusion based in probability, not possibility.

  9. For now, the mekoros: R. Hirsh on "li l'am" in shmos p. 68 (See Dayan Dr. Grunfeld's intro to Horeb, p. xlvi

  10. I cannot find your shiurim in video. What should i do?


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