Monday, December 6, 2010

Incendiary Comments

On my earlier post about the drought, someone posted the following comment:

...Today in shul our Rav stressed the point that it's all in Hashem's hands. He was focusing on this rain situation. He said all the forecasting and other stuff is a bunch of nonsense. The entire idea of what we call "cause and effect" is nonsense. There is only 1 cause, and it is Hashem. If He wants it to rain, it will rain, and all the things you think you can do to bring it, conserve it, or whatever are futile...


This idea of completely negating the cause-and-effect of the natural world, and the function of physical endeavor, is entirely alien to the rationalist school of thought. Rabbi Yitzchak Adlerstein just wrote a superb post which included part of a mailing by Professor Menachem Kellner of the University of Haifa. I am also on Prof. Kellner's email list; he specializes in Maimonidean thought, and here is another extract from his latest mailing:

Rambam also made it clear that (just as traffic accidents don't just "happen," but are caused, so) most of the evil from which we suffer is the result of human stupidity and cupidity; the fires were started by stupid kids literally playing with fire, but they spread so disastrously because too many people were concerned with everything but fire prevention and fire fighting, and emergency response to challenges other than hostile attacks (earthquakes, for example - Israel sits on a major fault line). For the last several weeks the Minister of the Interior has devoted huge attention to denouncing his colleague MK Rabbi Haim Amsalem for the crime of pointing out that the Emperor was naked (=pointing out that maintaining the ideal that all men should spend all their time in yeshivot has no basis in Jewish history or law, runs against a long line of explicit legal pronouncements, and causes great suffering and pointless poverty). If some of that time and energy had been devoted to the job of overseeing the fire services and making sure they got the budgets they need, we might well be in better shape.


(By the way, check out the new "Reactions" buttons under each post. Please click whichever you think appropriate; it's useful to know how many people read this website, and how many are aligned with/ oppose my approach.)

84 comments:

  1. From R'YA's "superb" post:Do the “frum maskilim” really believe in HKBH the way we do? Are they so mired in their devotion to laws of nature, predictability, and reason that they have room left for the Hand of the Divine doing the unpredictable?
    =====================================================
    Perhaps because the view you articulate is often correlated with a conviction that "Fires only happen in a place where Shabbat is desecrated." or with a sense of thinking we understand HKB"H's calculations rather that we really don't understand a tragedy of this nature and thus we all need to ask what we could do better.
    KT
    Joel Rich

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  2. Shouldn't there be three buttons: Emes, Not emes but not kefira, and kefira.
    Just because someone disagrees with something doesn't mean that he holds it is kefira.

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  3. The commentor's rav's position we may not fully know and may be more sophisticated than it initially appears. Assuming it's just the simple straightforward position presented, then I would ask...

    Do you lock your doors and windows to protect your property or rely on Hashem (only)?

    Do you take medicine or go to the doctor or reply only upon the Healer of All Flesh?

    Do you go to work or if you run a yeshiva/shul do fundraising and put out pushkas or do you reply only upon the source of all shefa?

    Since leaving the Midbar the Jewish people have never relied solely upon miracles but have always had to "do their part". They trained soldiers but asked Hashem for victory. They build cisterns but asked Hashem for rain. They planted seeds but asked Hashem for food.

    These are not incompatible. What's incompatible is to say waste water then pray for rain, build no army and pray for safety, don't work the land then pray for food.

    This is not rationalist thought, it's gemora and traditional hashkafa! Since when did we become monks on the mountain relying solely on miracles?

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  4. If I jump out a 20th story window I will fall and almost certainly die. So I don't jump out of windows. Or touch hot stoves. Or punch police officers. Or turn my back on the ocean.

    If I want flowers or vegetables I plant the seeds at the recommended depth and mulch, water and fertilize them.

    If my blood pressure is high I take medicine designed to lower it.

    These are applications of cause-and-effect reasoning. If these are kefira I cannot imagine how Jews managed to survive this long.

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  5. Just one question for 'Poshiter Yid' (the commenter quoted in this post) and for his shul's Rav:

    When you are hungry, do you eat, or pray for Hashem to make you not hungry?

    KT,
    Hillel

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  6. I never said, nor did my Rav say, that we should rely on Hashem. The point was that hashkafa-wise, it is in His hands. Certainly there is hishtadlus, he never said there isn't, nor did I. But to think that you can solve matters and that the reason there is drought or fires is because of human acts is not how it is in reality. You have to ask WHY did the kids light a fire? Because Hashem made them. WHY is there no rain? Because Hashem doesn't want it. It's not how you say, that He made the world and then lets "nature" take its course. That is the kefira position.

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  7. The way chassidus would phrase this is ,"ubeirecha hashem b'chol asher taashe", Hashem will bless you, in other words the main and essential ingredient for anything is hashem's blessing, but there also needs to be the taaaeh , the human doing something, making a kli (vessel),in order so that Hashem's blessing have something to be manifest in.

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  8. I'm sorry, Poshiter Yid, but I think the misunderstanding here lies with you. As I understand it, rationalist Judaism is not about rationalism without Judaism, it's a meshing of the two. It is based on the Rambam's position that Hashem does, of course, run the world, but He set it up to run in various ways, and that we are meant to interact with those rules and do our best within them. He, in turn, will generally act within those rules as well. Within that structure, there is plenty of room for Him to make rain or not make rain, but since He gave us thinking, creative brains, we are definitely meant to use them to forecast the weather, cure diseases, and conserve water. Not to do so, in this view, is a kind of sin, since we are wasting His gifts and His resources -- both the gift of a thinking brain and the gifts of the natural world which He created. Yes, if we are sinning, then all natural tools will fail -- see the run-up to World War II and the reaction of all the world's governments to German re-armament if you want an example of that. And yet we are still meant to try, and we will be held accountable for the actions we take or refuse to take. The rationalist Judaism view, as I see it, is one that relies on an active and thinking Jew, who wants to do his or her part in the world, while maintaining an awareness of the fact that Hashem runs all and that He gave us the tools to live and work with this world. To give your rav the benefit of the doubt, I'm hoping he was exaggerating to make a point, but in today's climate, where people have really abandoned the idea that Hashem wants us to do things in His world with the many tools He's given us, it's a dangerous exaggeration to say everything, from forecasting to water conservation, is "nonsense." You can know ultimately that all is in Hashem's hands; that's very different from sitting on your own.

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  9. "He said all the forecasting and other stuff is a bunch of nonsense. The entire idea of what we call "cause and effect" is nonsense. "

    It seems to me that these two sentences are what others in the comments (myself included) are reacting to. There's a difference between affirming God's control and disavowing natural causality. The implication in that sentence is that one who gets sick, takes medicine and gets better got better because God chose that he should, that the medicine is irrelevant. Yet there's a reason we're not Christian Scientists, but we pray for refuah even as we look for the best medical treatment we can.

    Yes causality was put in place by God and he can suspend it if he chooses (though Rambam, I believe, disagrees with that), but it seems strange to discount the laws through which God controls the world for the purpose of emphasizing our reliance on him.

    Of course, I could be misreading the quote and the emphasis of the original was on praying for rain even after the forecast says "It will rain today" because we need to rely on God as well as science (and weather forecasting is not an exact science anyway).

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  10. Another vote for dlz's 3-buttons idea, approximately. I reason so: (1) The opposite of אמת is שקר, not כפירה; and (2) once you factor-in the thinking subject, his appropriate state is often enough "How would I know?" (dialectically neutral).

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  11. To the thikingbochur - this doing 'something' needs to be explained. What most fields of endeavor require is years of education, great efforts, long hours etc... Think of any normal profession or business. What does it mean? At what point has one done 'something' and it becomes up to Hashem?

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  12. "Do the “frum maskilim” really believe in HKBH the way we do?"

    Of course not. But that doesn't mean that "frum maskilim" have hearts of stone.

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  13. Every tragedy brings these kids of comments out of the woodwork.

    After the earthquake in Haiti I wondered why no one gave any credence to the Rambam's position on hasgacha pratis so I wrote it up on my blog.

    I think you will enjoy it: http://finkorswim.com/2010/02/04/why-the-earthquake-in-haiti-happened/

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  14. Poshiter Yid, you acknowledge the need for hishtadlut, but think the focus should be greater on bitachon. If there is a tragedy, seemingly one of the two is lacking. You can't fault people for thinking that hishtadlut needs work.

    If noticed that I was becoming unhealthy, I might examine my deeds to see how I could be more righteous and therefore deserving of better health. I could also examine my dietary and exercise habits to see if improvements in that area are needed. The latter does not demonstrate a lack of bitachon.

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  15. How does one sign up for Menachem Kellner's email list?

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  16. "most of the evil from which we suffer is the result of human stupidity and cupidity; the fires were started by stupid kids literally playing with fire, but they spread so disastrously because too many people were concerned with everything but fire prevention and fire fighting"

    Right. And the First and Second Temples were destroyed because of poor political decisions and inferior military training. Anyone who really believes that not saying birkat hatorah caused the destruction of the Temple is an anti-rationalist fool. Time to edit our Talmuds....

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  17. "the fires were started by stupid kids literally playing with fire,"

    has this been confirmed?

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  18. I believe this was originally pointed out on The Daily Show; there was a plane that had a malfunction while in flight, and through a massive coordination of efforts by the pilots, crew and firefighters and rescue workers on the ground, they managed to land the plane and get everyone out alive and unharmed.

    So on the news, what does everyone who is interviewed about the incident say? "It's a miracle!"

    http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/thu-august-4-2005/miracle-by-the-highway

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  19. Poshite Yid,
    If your philosophy is nuanced, then you are not expressing yourself well. If you call the idea of cause and effect "nonsense" then you are saying there is no bechira chofshis of any kind, period.

    If you write "WHY did the kids light a fire? Because Hashem made them", then you have adopted the position the kids had no choice in the matter. A jury should acquit them of all wrongdoing. If you don't believe this, don't write it.

    And, of course, I would also advise against calling the explicit position of the Rambam re the natural order "the kefira position." It is certainly Ramabm's belief that God "made the world and then lets "nature" take its course." You may choose to embrace whatever position you like, but it is highly disrespectful and inappropriate to call large swathes of Rishonim and other great Rabbonim (including tanaim/amoraim) kofrim, just because you disagree with their philosophy.

    KT,
    Hillel

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  20. Poshiter...

    Hmm, I'm trying to think this through in depth, help me out here....

    Should we do fire management planning and equipment preparation or trust in Hashem? Or is it that Israel not doing fire management planning and equipment preparation and then having a fire is the hand of Hashem?

    I think you're saying the latter...the coordination of an event on a national weak spot shows the hand of Hashem. (I agree with that.)

    The question is in the after case. Isn't it clear we should plan NOW? And in the case of a drought doesn't it make sense to prepare alternative water sources and educate towards serious conservation? Or do we say having a drought and suffering is the hand of Hashem, therefore we shouldn't do anything?

    That's where your rav's position encounters problems. Statistics and educated predictions have a level of understood quality level of results. Therefore we have a responsibility to use this tool developed from the gift of wisdom to humanity to improve and resolve those things it can.

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  21. "You have to ask WHY did the kids light a fire? Because Hashem made them. "

    Actually, that's not true. It is not true because they have free will like anyone else, so Hashem didn't make them do anything.

    But I think the real reason they started the fires is because they are jihadists with no concern for human life and with a malicious intent to destroy Israel. Just like the arsonists who started all the subsequent fires.

    I don't buy the "negligence" excuse because Channel 2 reported days ago that the initial fire had 3 simultaneous points of origin. The "negligence" concoction came out later, and it is the Israeli govt's attempt at damage control.

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  22. On reaching
    "
    ותרצנו, ותחזינה עינינו בשובך לנווך, לציון ברחמים, כמאז. ברוך אתה ה', המחזיר שכינתו לציון.
    "
    in מנחה, I shuddered to think that הרמב"ם would disapprove of my previous comment unless I added a caveat; viz., that the בעל הבלוג ought restrict voting to readers he certifies as belonging to the class
    "
    "כל באי העולם אשר נדבה רוחו אותו והבינו מדעו להיבדל לעמוד לפני ה' לשרתו ולעובדו לדעה את ה', והלך ישר כמו שעשהו האלוהים, ופרק מעל צווארו עול החשבונות הרבים אשר ביקשו בני האדם"
    ".
    On Rabbi Slifkin's main subject of nature/Providence, it seems to me that it is this class among humans which ought interpret השגחתו in world events for the rest of us, as would be the case in the בית המקדש.

    [It's all Dr. Menachem Kellner's fault.]

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  23. How does one sign up for Menachem Kellner's email list?

    I would imagine that e-mailing him would be a good start.

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  24. "Time to edit our Talmuds...."

    NEVER! To even think such a thing is apikorses!

    Let me make this clear again, so there is no doubt about my stance (and for that matter, the stance of most Orthodox Yidden). The best way to clarify the position is to use an example, and it seems that using a calamity like this fire, or for that matter the Holocaust, which everyone loves to bring up as the ultimate tragedy, though it wasn't:

    Hashem sets a plan in motion. There's a gezeira on a community, regardless of the individual "guilt or innocence" of certain peoples. He uses other people as His instruments to bring about whatever He has in mind. It could be a Hitler, an Eichmann, or 2 kids playing with matches. Why He choses them we don't know. This in NO WAY undermines their free will. There are ample sefarim out there that reconcile free will with predestination and Hashem's knowledge of what we will do. He doesn't get surprised by our actions. There is no past present or future for Hashem. It is all the same. Rational or not, that's how it is. He is not bound by time, so your assessment of knowing the future and free will doesnt even come into play.

    This is the problem with this rationalist approach. If you don't understand it, and it doesn't jive with current science or the way you understand the world, then it is ipso facto irrational and therefore a mistake or a fallacy. You are wrong. Even Moshe Rabbeinu didn't understand His ways, and you think you can? You think you can understand why 6 million perished, all the whys and wherefores and the concept of schar v'onesh and what those people may have done or been prevented from doing, or what a newborn baby has done to deserve to die at the age of 2 months? You will never understand it, and thats just the way it is.

    Not everything has a reason or rationale that you can begin to comprehend. To say otherwise is to say your mind is greater than a Moshe Rabbeinu. It's your own ego that is in the way because you refuse to acknowledge your own limitations. You think you can build another Tower of Babel and climb up and see Hashem. It was not the Nazis who perpetrated the events. It was G-d, pure and simple. They were merely pawns on His chess board, as were whoever started this fire.

    So yes, go ahead and conserve water, recycle your plastic bottles, etc etc. Have fun. Just keep in mind that if He wants you to die from polluted air, all the recycling in the world isnt going to amount to a hill of cholent beans.

    "Anyone who really believes that not saying birkat hatorah caused the destruction of the Temple is an anti-rationalist fool."

    You don't even begin to understand how spiritual things effect the physical realm. Yes, it is entirely possible that failure to say brachos properly can cause physical events. It is all interconnected. That doesn't mean we are scientologists. It means the 2 are not separate. It means that what HaRav Ovadiah Yosef said about chillul Shabbos causing the fire is entirely possible. Unless you think the physical world is chaotic and random and that G-d is off sending text messages with His iPhone and fiddling while Israel burns, which would certainly be apikorsis.

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  25. Poshite Yid, what you say is definitely true according to most Acharonim. However, many Rishonim thought very differently - not just Rambam, who would have completely disagreed with everything you write, but even Ramban would not be in complete agreement with you.

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  26. Rabbi Slifkin, I'm curious to hear your opinion on whether you feel that there may be a certain level of connection between one's nusach and one's choice-of-action.

    From my own personal opinion, it seems that a lot of strange, crazy, poorly thought out, or otherwise negative thought patterns tend to have an Ashkenazi origin. While I am of Ashkenazi descent myself, often I feel like distancing myself and placing my lot with the Sephardim whom are less prone to making a mess of things.

    I'm not speaking in terms of 100%s here, but, a vast majority of the frum Ashkenazi world is caught up in some sort of personal rut where they feel that making things harder for themselves and others is the best way to achieve what HaShem wanted.

    These habits would include persecuting internal movements(Misnaged vs Hasid wars), forcing traditions on places with no nusach or with more open/liberal nusachs(Slonim school crisis, the retaining of heavy fur coats in the middle of the desert by those who migrate to Israel,etc.), selective application of Pesach kashrut toward New World plants(Kitniot..Why is it okay to eat bread made from potato but not from corn when neither are wheat?), and all the illogical/irrational points you mentioned over the last few days involving understanding the natural world.

    I have seen less from the Sephardic world. It makes me wonder if there is a traceable root cause having to do with geography and demography.

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  27. A religious-rational approach to the subject might be to state that the immediate cause of the fire that ravaged the Carmel forest and lead to 42 deaths was a teen-ager carelessly dumping some glowing coals from his nargila. The more general cause of the firestorm that resulted, however, was the unusual dryness of the land and that forest due to the absence of the normal rains. The latter cause may have a 'natural' explanation - although long-term weather forecasting is hardly an exact science, but one can't disregard the aspect of divine input. After all, the torah states that eretz Yisrael is different than other lands in that "GOD's attention is constantly upon it..". In addition, we read that if we "turn aside..then GOD's anger will be kindled toward you and He will restrain the heavens so that there will be no rain". In other words, even if we believe - as does the Rambam, that GOD typically allows the laws of nature that He created, or the willfulness of people, to dictate the course of events, the weather in Israel is another matter.

    This is not to say that one can or should make judgements on the matter as to who or what is to blame for the parched land. It is far too easy - as well as non-productive, to place the blame on people outside one's community. Moreover, drought should serve as an opportunity and stimulus for a more unified response to the difficult situation. It should engender more empathy and less polarization. There is enough blame that can be laid at the doorstep of virtually all the factions in Israel. This is not the time for finger-pointing, however, but for appropriate action. The first practical step should be to sharply increase the budget and manpower for firefighting. The Interior minister also needs to be directed to accept donations of equipment from whatever source. Those of us in the diaspora should focus on the needs in Israel when we say, "v'ten tal umatar livracha" even as we may cope with the rains and snows in our own regions.

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  28. Poshiter -- sometimes it is not what is said, but how it is said.

    Even if one accepts the hashkaa as you describe in your latest post, your initial message ridiculed other views as "nonsense". You then went on to say "I don't understand why you have to be such an instigator and troublemaker."

    Why is it that you can't seem to accept discussion about other normative Jewish Rabbinic traditions and feel the need to insult those who discuss them?

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  29. Poshiter Yid,

    I was being sarcastic when I said: "Anyone who really believes that not saying birkat hatorah caused the destruction of the Temple is an anti-rationalist fool." I was actually trying to support you. (Though I no longer wish to do so. I am not too fond of accusations of apikorsis. Do you really think it is effective?)

    My point was to highlight that Kellner's comments were so simplistic as to ignore the nuance of various positions with respect to divine providence.

    Divine Providence is an issue that has been debated for millennia. The positions are nuanced and sophisticated. The Rav's comments cited at the beginning of this post are poorly worded and reflect an upbringing in which "machshava" and "hashkafa" are presented in such a completely unsophisticated manner that it is easy to make fun of them. One can sense very much the same thing in Poshiter Yid's comments. (Anyone who has ever spent any time in a hareidi yeshiva knows exactly what I am talking about.) However, the ideas that underlie his position are very rational and sophisticated. In some respects, they speak to the modern man more than the Aristotelian influenced philosophers. They should not be dismissed. Trivializing legitimate strains of Jewish thought is not a very effective means of debate.

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  30. I believe that this is related to the question of the purpose of prayer. Ostensibly, the purpose of prayer is to get our requests fulfilled. However, early Hasidism says that this is unworthy and we should only pray that the needs of the Shechinah get fulfilled, as it were. The last Lubavitcher Rebbe discussed and reconciled these two approaches in an essay published in Kehat's edition of Tzavaat Harivash. (I recently saw some quotes of Rav Kook on the purpose of prayer that point in a similar direction, and which I hope to translate soon, b'ezrat Hashem.)

    Clearly, seeming opposites can often be seen as being in alignment with each other.

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  31. "Anyone who really believes that not saying birkat hatorah caused the destruction of the Temple is an anti-rationalist fool."

    I think one needs to understand what the statement means, and not just write it off as spouting nonsense. There were 2 statements made. One that they didn't say Birkat HaTorah, and 2, it was b/c of the sins of idolatry, murder and illicit relations. I want to say that these 2 statements are related. What does it mean not saying Birkat HaTorah? It means that they might've been learning the Torah, and hearing the prophecies made by the Prophets, but they weren't taking the time to internalize the Torah's message. As a result, the corruption was rampant, with the grave sins of idolatry, murder and illicit relations being commonplace.

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  32. I think R Akiva Tatz quotes from Zohar an example of how our free will i.e. cause and effect effects events. Re the story of Joseph being put in the pit full of snakes Why was Reuvain happy to put him there surely he would die anyhow and in short answers that his brothers through G-d's gift of free will had the power to kill him even though in the natural course of events that would not have been the natural outcome but the snakes not having free will would not have killed him.
    So it seems even according to the Zohar Hasgacha is not that simple and we can influence events

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  33. It appears that people are able to vote multiple times.

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  34. Ok, I'm willing to hear this. What would the Rambam and Ramban say? I'm pretty confident they both held from hashgacha pratis as well as klalis. Wasn't it the Vilna Gao who said "If Hashem is not involved with the movement of a single blade of grass, I wish not to live."? Maybe it was someone else.

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  35. Poshiter yid, you seem to have little idea of how offensive your statements can be. I was previously only mildly annoyed at your arguments. However, this most recent citation is just going too far.

    "It was not the Nazis who perpetrated the events. It was G-d, pure and simple. They were merely pawns on His chess board, as were whoever started this fire."

    You have the temerity to ascribe to GOD the unspeakable evil done by men as if they were mere pawns. GOD, according to you, wished 2 million Jewish children to suffer as they were asphixiated with hydrogen cyanide - together with their mothers who would not leave them, or were shot and buried alive. How could a merciful GOD directly cause such large scale horror?

    While we can't understand some of GOD's ways, it is far better to state - as does the torah, that there are times when GOD is angered and 'hides his face' and appears to let evil take its course. That evil is caused by men who act against the innocent as well as the sinful, but who will suffer the consequences of their acts. The ultimate consequence is to die and turn to dust and nothingness while their innocent victims live on spiritually.

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  36. What Prof. Kellner is common. It's called blaming people with 20/20 hindsight. Oh, it's so simple that such and such would have been prevented had such and such happened... It's much more complicated than that.

    Of course planning in advance is always wise and self-evident but the idea that government can always prevent all disasters all the time is both silly and perhaps not even desirable (as taxes and government would both have to grow greatly to even attempt to accomplish this).

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  37. Poshiter Yid said...
    > It was not the Nazis who perpetrated the events. It was G-d, pure and simple. They were merely pawns on His chess board

    Poshiter Yid, I ask this in all seriousness: why would anyone want to worship the monster you describe? Nazi Germany is almost universally reviled as the most evil regime in history. For people to continue to worship a God Who stood by while the Nazis brutally murdered ten million people is difficult enough. What you’re proposing here is to replace “Nazi Germany” in the above sentence with “God.”

    > He uses other people as His instruments to bring about whatever He has in mind. It could be a Hitler, an Eichmann, or 2 kids playing with matches. Why He choses them we don't know. This in NO WAY undermines their free will. There are ample sefarim out there that reconcile free will with predestination and Hashem's knowledge of what we will do.

    There is a huge difference between the problem of how we have free will if God knows what we are going to do and how we can have free will if, as you describe, God is using us as puppets, “merely pawns on His chess board.”

    > So yes, go ahead and conserve water, recycle your plastic bottles, etc etc. Have fun. Just keep in mind that if He wants you to die from polluted air, all the recycling in the world isnt going to amount to a hill of cholent beans.

    So why bother doing anything? Whatever Hashem wants will happen. If He wants me to starve, all the food in my kitchen will rot and I won’t be able to get more. And if He wants me to eat, gourmet meals will float through the window and land on my plate.

    Do you have food in your refrigerator? Why? If Hashem wants you to starve, all the grocery shopping in the world isn’t going to amount to a hill of cholent beans.

    > It means that what HaRav Ovadiah Yosef said about chillul Shabbos causing the fire is entirely possible.

    Well, sure it’s possible. It’s also possible that my wearing a brown short that day caused the fire, and if so, I am very sorry. Unless R’ Ovadiah Yosef got a message straight from Hashem telling him what the cause of the fire was, it’s irresponsible and presumptuous to declare that X is the reason it’s happening.

    > Unless you think the physical world is chaotic and random

    Um, you’re the one supporting the statement that “The entire idea of what we call "cause and effect" is nonsense.”

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  38. The most brilliant - and hilarious - expression of Rambam's view is Rudyard Kipling's "Natural Theology":

    http://bdld.info/2010/12/07/the-spirit-he-breathed-in-man-is-free-the-theodicy-of-maimonides-and-kipling/

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  39. I accidentally hit 'return' on the previous comment (Maimonides and Kipling) before properly entering my identity.

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  40. Poshiter Yid,
    You said:
    "Ok, I'm willing to hear this. What would the Rambam and Ramban say? I'm pretty confident they both held from hashgacha pratis as well as klalis."

    You certainly are confident. But you are also wrong. I am not sure what you mean by "Hashgacha pratis".

    I am reluctant to discuss this issue because I hold unorthodox views on the subject. I dont believe that there is as much disagreement between the various shitot as most on this blog. Be that as it may, the "peshat" according to the Rambam is that most of what happens to most people is not the result of specific divine intervention. If you get stuck in traffic tomorrow it will not be punishment for a particular sin but rather the result of you choosing to drive at a time when there are too many cars on the road.

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  41. I can't believe it! Poshuter Yid is just chepening with you people and you take him seriously! LOL!

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  42. The ONLY logical way to reconcile Divine Providence with evil/suffering that happens in the world, is: Olam Habah.

    There is simply no other way.

    Even if one could say that "net" justice is served in the bigger scheme of earthly events, the problem is not solved. Since the "victim" and "punishees" have no clue as to what the wrong doing was and who did it, it has no possibility for correction (unless, as I stated, there is a world to come).

    All of the nuanced explanations about god's hiding his face, etc, evade the basic questions.

    Therefore, you have a stark choice: accept "olam habah", (or reincarnation) or reject a personal god.

    I am still puzzled by the various rabbinic figures who come out an claim that the fire was punishment for this or that. Whose to say that they're right, and not Gaza's PM Heniya who claimed that it was divine punishment for Israel's oppression of the Palestinians?

    Anybody see the "Saw" movies? If figuring out the "punishment" or purpose is no better than a coin toss, than the punishment is more like a sadistic psychopath's twisted "punishment" of his victims, for whome these is no possibility to "learning" to avoid being "bad".

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  43. Poshiter Yid said: "You have to ask WHY did the kids light a fire? Because Hashem made them."

    Oh, so they were Malachim with on bechira? Is that really what your Rabbi is saying? Let's just get the image straight here: God took this 14 yr old Druze boy by the hand, dragged him out to the forest, gave him the burning charcoal, wound up his arm and caused him to throw it. And so, by extension, we're all just marionettes and God is this masterful puppeteer just making sure the strings don't get tangled. If that's your Rabbi's religion, he can keep it.

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  44. Shouldn't there be three buttons: Emes, Not emes but not kefira, and kefira. Just because someone disagrees with something doesn't mean that he holds it is kefira.

    add a fourth button: "kefira and emes" for the hard core atheists.

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  45. Irrespective of whether Poshiter Yid was “chepening” or serious, this discussion is a good time to learn from Chazal about how we speak to each other.

    In explaining the tragedy of the destruction of our temples, in Yoma 9b, there is an interesting formulation:

    מקדש ראשון מפני מה חרב? מפני שלשה דברים שהיו בו: עבודה זרה, וגלוי עריות, ושפיכות דמים... אבל מקדש שני, שהיו עוסקין בתורה ובמצות וגמילות חסדים מפני מה חרב? מפני שהיתה בו שנאת חנם. ללמדך ששקולה שנאת חנם כנגד שלש עבירות: עבודה זרה, גלוי עריות, ושפיכות דמים

    This goes to show us that being observant is not sufficient; it is also how you treat and talk to others that counts. Words matter.

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  46. First of all, I'm not playing around at all, nor am I trying to be provocative. I believe with all my being that what I stated is the traditional Orthodox fundamental Torah view of things, without exception.

    As far as "For people to continue to worship a God Who stood by while the Nazis brutally murdered ten million people is difficult enough. What you’re proposing here is to replace “Nazi Germany” in the above sentence with “God.”, I will say this:

    If you can even think to say that God stood by, and din't cry along with us, then there is nothing more to say. The fact is, He could have stopped it at any time, so the very fact that He didn't proves that He wanted it to happen. Unless you want to say that He was powerless to stop it, which would be clear apikorsis. Nothing happens without God's say so. Do you think that when you get to Shamayim, and if you said to Him, why did you let my 2 month old baby dies, he didn't do anything, that He will have to consult His messengers and ask them for help with this question? Like He would say "Hmmm, I didn't even realize that happened, I'm so sorry."? Soory Charlie, God has His reasons, and some aren't for your feeble minds to comprehend. But rest assured nothing is left to chance, nature, or "evil men". Even the most evil of evil men are His instruments. I don't pretend to knwo the reason why there were gas chambers, but feel VERY confident that God put the idea into their heads, along with the blueprints for the crematoria and the chemical formula for Zyklon-B.
    For whatever reason, God is on top of things. And that doesn't conflict with free will at all.

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  47. Poshiter yid,

    Please take a look at my posts here for the rishonim's view of hashgacha.

    http://jewishworker.blogspot.com/2006/12/can-i-kill-innocent-person.html

    http://jewishworker.blogspot.com/2007/11/hashgocha-pratis-what-does-it-mean.html

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  48. From your blog:"There are sects among mankind who maintain that Divine providence controls all the matters of this world… that when a leaf falls from a tree, He decreed that it would fall…. This approach is far-removed from the intellect."

    I maintain my position. The last line quoted above is enough to strengthen my belief even more. WHOSE intellect? We are nothing but specks of dust, who have the chutzpah to use our "intellect" to decide what's true and what isn't? Since when does it have to make sense to us? Does the Para Adumah make sense? So let's throw that by the wayside, too! It's not about what makes sense to us. Tefillin make no sense either. But if all the Avos put them on even before matan Torah, that's enough of a reason to do it now. And don't even start in on the Avos keeping kol haTorah kulah issue, because they did.

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  49. Poshiter Yid, these are the implications of your position:

    Whereas:
    1. Your position says G-d exerts complete control over communities and nations.
    2. The Holocaust was perpetrated by the German Nation.

    If Follows:
    1. G-d, through a proxy, murdered millions upon millions of innocents in a systematic, sadistic, fashion.

    Furthermore-

    Whereas:
    1. Someone's actions reflect who they are.
    2. G-d engaged in the systematic, sadistic mass murder of millions.
    3. A good being would not engage in such behavior, but an evil being would.

    It Follows:
    1. G-d is an evil being.

    QED

    This is part of why I think your position is fallacy and apikorsos. It is far more logical to say that G-d lets man act with discretion, and violation in any form of this discretion is outside the norm, if it ever occurs at all.

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  50. Unless you want to say that He was powerless to stop it, which would be clear apikorsis.

    Hmmm. I'm not so sure about that. The idea of tzimtzum is that God constrained Himself in order to create the world. Meaning, He placed certain gedarim on Himself. This might appear from our perspective to be a limit to His power. Why would that be kefira? A parent sends a beloved child away from home to learn: the parent is "powerless" to stop bad things from happening. This is ultimately good, in order to teach the child to be independent, to make choices, to become a subject and not an object. The willing relinquishment of power involves risk -- real risk -- but the risk, at least according to my hashkafa, is worth it. (As a last resort, the parent can always drop everything to come and try to rescue the child. A last resort, because then the bechira is taken away.) After the fact, a parent can reward the child for doing well, or punish if not; but usually the results of the choices themselves will lead directly to the appropriate results; this concept of schar v' onesh is clearly within even the Rambam's view on hashgacha pratis.

    According to all this, the assertion The fact is, He could have stopped it at any time, so the very fact that He didn't proves that He wanted it to happen. is false. Perhaps He could not have stopped it because He chose not to see what was happening, preferring instead to take the risk that, in trusting him with free will, mankind would not perpetrate such an atrocity. But even with that, we can still say that He is ne'eman l'shalem schar.

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  51. Y Aharon, you wrote: "This is not to say that one can or should make judgements on the matter as to who or what is to blame for the parched land. It is far too easy - as well as non-productive, to place the blame on people outside one's community."

    How about blaming those people "outside one's community" who actually started the fires maliciously, since that is what happened? Just because these individuals (less than 10 or between 10-20, it's difficult to ascertain) are outside our community we can't blame them for committing crimes? Wow. Political Correctness taken to a whole new level.

    Then again, rationally speaking, what national motivation underlies such crimes? Uh oh, that outside community again...

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  52. The root source for the hashkafa espoused by Poshiter Yid seems to be the Zohar. I would be indebted if someone could provide a specific and confirmed mareh makom.

    This motzei shabbat is my father’s yahrzeit, which seems a fitting time to look it up in one of several versions I inherited from him.

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  53. WHOSE intellect?

    The one God gave us.

    The mitzvot do or do not make sense; we do our best. We were given the gift of Torah; it would be a chutzpah not to look into it to see what our obligations are.

    The world does or does not make sense; we do our best. We are given the gift of intelligence; it would be a chutzpah NOT to use it to make sense of the world.

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  54. Oh, Poshiter Yid

    You said the following in response to the Jewishworker's blog comment...

    " From your blog:"There are sects among mankind who maintain that Divine providence controls all the matters of this world… that when a leaf falls from a tree, He decreed that it would fall…. This approach is far-removed from the intellect."

    I maintain my position. The last line quoted above is enough to strengthen my belief even more."



    Is it, though? Perhaps you have never seen the Chinuch which states:

    Chinuch (#169): "There are some groups that believe that Providence applies to every living creature - both man and animal. There are also those who extend Providence further and say it applies to every entity in the world - living or non-living. In other words they say that the smallest entity only moves as response to G-d’s will and decrees. They go so far as to say that even when a single leaf falls off a tree that G-d decreed that it should fall. That it is impossible that its falling be delayed and advanced by an instant. However such a belief is ridiculous - extremely far from human intelligence..."

    I took this from Rabbi Eidensohn's blog, where he translated the original source. Here:
    http://daattorah.blogspot.com/2010/11/chinuch-divine-providence-applies-only.html

    I also note that I read a similar statement by the Rambam in Moreh Nevukhim where he explains that hashgaha is commensurate with intelligence level, and thus the inanimate objects do not receive any. I don't have the work on my possession right now, so I cannot give you an exact quote, but I'm sure others here can cite it, and I advise you strongly to read Moreh Nevukhim before you continue to spout what you feel is the only "traditional Orthodox fundamental Torah view of things, without exception."

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  55. Poshter yid,

    that quote is from the chinuch one of the gedei harishonim. Are you really arguing on the chinch?

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  56. Poshiter Yid, if I understand you’re position correctly, you hold that God is directly responsible for everything that happens, that He manipulates people like marionettes, that His forcing people to do His will doesn’t interfere with their free will, and that we with our limited intellects can’t even begin to understand His plans.

    I disagree, but I think I understand where you’re coming from. What I don’t understand is how you decided the Judaism is the correct religion. You say, “We are nothing but specks of dust, who have the chutzpah to use our "intellect" to decide what's true and what isn't?” You have the chutzpah to use your intellect to decide that Jesus isn’t the son of God!? That God didn’t appear to Mohamed, or an angel to Joseph Smith!? Who do you think you are to make such judgments!?

    And before you answer that you’re relying on gedolim who are far greater than yourself, tell me where you get the chutzpah to use your intellect to decide who is a gadol? Or even where Klal Yisroel collectively has the chutzpah to use our intellects to decide who’s a gadol.

    > Unless you want to say that He was powerless to stop it, which would be clear apikorsis.

    You may want to be more careful about what you call apikorsis. Any exploration of the practical implications of omnipotence will show that there must be some limits, such as the limits of what is logically possible (the classic questions, can God make a rock so heavy He can’t lift it, or can God make a square circle). The classic answer to why we have to be in this world is that we have to earn Olam Haboh in order to fully enjoy it, which suggests that it is beyond Hashem’s ability to create us in such a way that we could have fully enjoyed Olam Haboh without having earned it. Are those who proposed the above apikorsim?

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  57. "But if all the Avos put them on even before matan Torah, that's enough of a reason to do it now. And don't even start in on the Avos keeping kol haTorah kulah issue, because they did."

    I came across a chassidic maamar from the first Lubavitcher Rebbe in which he expressed his view that the notion that the Avot kept the entire Torah must be understood in non-physical terms. I will attempt to find the exact reference, though I will likely fail in the attempt, but I did not expect to encounter such a view from one of the founding fathers of chassidism. As you know emunah peshutah is also stressed amongst chassidim.

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  58. Poshuter, did they write the sefer Torah? Not so poshut don't u think? When I was in kollel my Rosh Kollel with fire and passion preached in the name of R. I. Salanter that if u buy a lottery ticket and have absolute bitochon that u will win u will win! What do u think of that? When I thought enough about it I decided to get a job. LOL!

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    Replies
    1. What (on R. I. Salanter's view) must happen when two or more ticket-buyers in one lottery EACH have that absolute faith that “I WILL WIN!”

      Delete
  59. Now you are all making leitzanus. That sill question about God making a heavy rock He can't lift is a nonsequitir.
    The question you ask about the "evil" of God is also silly because it shows you don't believe that God is merciful in what you consider evil. To Him maybe it's not evil, only to you. Again, you are applying your own limited understanding to God, and getting rankled when you fail to understand. What you consider to be innocent people may not necessarily be so. Do you pretend to know God's ways? Or do you just satisfy your lack of understanding by saying it just can't be the God I believe in, He wouldn't do such a thing. Yes, my friend, that IS apikorsis. You sound like that heretic Kushner, with his God is only about love and tenderness nonsense.
    God is evil as much as He is good, to use human terms. And that's all they are is terms we have come up with. For God, such things do not exist, there is only truth and justice, and what we call good and evil is terminology representing our limited capacities as human beings. In the end of all things, none of it is good or evil at all, just perfectly fitting pieces in the great puzzle of life. Like the old example of seeing the front and back of a needlepoint picture. We see the chaotic back, He sees the perfect picture on the front. It is only evil because YOU think it is. I believe God held the hand of every single Jew who walked into the gas chambers. Then he took them into shamayim. And I will tell you in no uncertain terms, that every single starving child in Ethiopia, and every single child in the oncology ward of a hospital, is also there because God wills it. Do you honestly think a child gets cancer because of some random occurrence? Maybe you buy the Big Bang theory too. It may be harsh and incomprehensible to you, because somehow you got the silly notion that God only does things that we think are good and pleasant. He doesn't answer to us, we answer to Him.

    And yes, God can make a square circle, too. How? Because squares, circles, and all of geometry and physics are natural laws, which He can manipulate, bend and break according to His will.

    "it is beyond Hashem’s ability to create us in such a way that we could have fully enjoyed Olam Haboh without having earned it."
    This statement alone is worthy of being labeled blasphemy and kefira. NOTHING is beyond His ability, not 1 single thing.

    By the way, I didn't "decide" anything about my religion. I'm Jewish because my mother is Jewish. If you want to know about decisions, ask a convert who choses it, not me. Had I been born Catholic I might argue on behalf of Jesus as well, although Orthodox Judaism believes such a person never existed at all, and that the entire story they tell is false from the get-go. Not a single shred of evidence to support the pagan nonsense.

    All the above is pure Daas Torah. Gedolim are Gedolim because all agree they are, or rather all those that count agree, meaning other Gedolim. If you want to know who the Gedolei Yisroel are, open a Modiah or Yated. Their pictures are in there.

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  60. P.S., I think you know quite well that I didn't mean never to use your brain or accompanying inteelect. I meant using it for such things as trying to comprehend God's ways, not man's. Hanistaros l'Hashem. Three out of the 4 greatest sages didn't make it out of the Pardes, so why do you think you can enter and survive intact?

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  61. Student V, I was not addressing the possibility of the Carmel forest fire being set deliberately by enemies of the Jewish state. I was, instead, addressing the point raised by at least one Orthodox religious leader in Israel that the fire was due to sins such as shabbat descretion. In other words, attributing the calamity to Jews from another camp.

    I also don't appreciate the sarcastic tone of your comment. You may subscribe to a conspiracy theory approach to what happens in Israel - I don't. I accepted the reports of a 14 year old Druze boy starting the fire inadvertently while smoking pot, and don't see the basis for your definite conclusion that it was deliberately set as a terror act. Terror groups usually are eager to take credit for acts that lead to mass casualties. No one, to my knowledge, has claimed such credit. Of course, you are free to believe that this, too, is being suppressed by the Israeli government which can somehow also censor what appears in Arab media.

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  62. You should add a third "Reactions" category for people who disagree with something you write without considering it kefira.

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  63. Poshiter Yid: provide mareh mekomot for your views if you want to have a serious discussion.

    From my reading of your comments, you haven't studied the sources yourself and are just parroting what someone told you (or your interpretation of what they told you).

    As an example, your aside "Orthodox Judaism believes such a person [Jesus] never existed at all" is categorically false.

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  64. Sorry Poshiter Yid, but you are walking into this one:

    Whereas:
    1. We are supposed to imitate G-d's ways (the Torah said this pretty explicitly).
    2. "G-d is evil as much as he is good"
    It follows
    1. We should be evil as much as we are good.

    Furthermore

    Whereas
    1. Being evil as much as you are good is not a Torah philosophy.
    2. Being evil as much as you are good is a corollary of your philosophy.

    It Follows
    1. Your philosophy is not a Torah philosophy.

    Furthermore

    Whereas
    1. Your philosophy is not a Torah philosophy.
    2. You claim your philosophy is a Torah philosophy.
    3. It is kefirah to claim something that is not in the Torah is.

    It Follows
    1. You are a kofer.

    QED

    This is not meant as an "ad hominem" attack, I am just following your statements to their logical conclusion to show they are fallacious.

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  65. > Now you are all making leitzanus.

    All I’m doing is pointing out the logical conclusions of your positions. If you think the results are leitzanus, don’t blame me.

    > That sill question about God making a heavy rock He can't lift is a nonsequitir.

    No, it’s a demonstration that even God’s omnipotence is limited to what is logically possible.

    > To Him maybe it's not evil, only to you.

    So you’re saying that God is directly responsible for the evil in the world, only it’s not really evil, and we would see that if only we could see the whole picture. Okay, that’s logically coherent. But only if we look at the world from a detached position. If we view evil as subjective; that is, we determine if something is evil based on the viewpoint of the person or people suffering; then Hashem causing a child to have cancer is evil.

    > Maybe you buy the Big Bang theory too.

    As a matter of fact, I do. Do you? If not, can you explain where the physicists and cosmologists went wrong? How do you account for our expanding universe, and what do you think happened when all the matter was in the same place? And surely you don’t think it’s impossible that Hashem created the world through natural means.

    > And yes, God can make a square circle, too. How? Because squares, circles, and all of geometry and physics are natural laws, which He can manipulate, bend and break according to His will.

    This is not about natural laws, geometry, or physics; it’s about logic. Squares and circles are just the examples used. The point is that it’s logically impossible for something to have two mutually exclusive attributes. If it’s a circle, it’s not a square and vice versa.

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  66. > "it is beyond Hashem’s ability to create us in such a way that we could have fully enjoyed Olam Haboh without having earned it."
    > This statement alone is worthy of being labeled blasphemy and kefira. NOTHING is beyond His ability, not 1 single thing.

    Don’t get mad at me, I didn’t write the Mesilas Yeshorim.

    > By the way, I didn't "decide" anything about my religion. I'm Jewish because my mother is Jewish.… Had I been born Catholic I might argue on behalf of Jesus as well

    So your religious epistemology is basically, turn off your brain and accept whatever you’re told. Don’t you dare question it, it’s chutzpah to think that your puny intellect could understand anything.

    Do you apply the same epistemology to the rest of your life? If so, can I interest you in a bridge?

    > Had I been born Catholic I might argue on behalf of Jesus as well, although Orthodox Judaism believes such a person never existed at all, and that the entire story they tell is false from the get-go. Not a single shred of evidence to support the pagan nonsense.

    Look at you, talking about evidence and support. What happened to, “We are nothing but specks of dust, who have the chutzpah to use our "intellect" to decide what's true and what isn't?”

    If you dismiss Jesus’ existence because of a lack of evidence, why would you expect anyone to accept your version of Judaism without evidence? You’re clearly using your intellect to dismiss Christianity. Why would you then expect people not to use their intellects in regard to Judaism?

    > Gedolim are Gedolim because all agree they are, or rather all those that count agree, meaning other Gedolim.

    You’re just moving the problem one step. Fine, if all the gedolim agree that X is a gadol, we accept him as a gadol. But how did those accepting gedolim gain their status?

    > If you want to know who the Gedolei Yisroel are, open a Modiah or Yated. Their pictures are in there.

    Do you hold that Chassidishe Rebbes are Gedolie Yisroel? Their pictures are in those papers all the time. Yet becoming a Rebbe has far more to do with politics than with piety.

    > I think you know quite well that I didn't mean never to use your brain or accompanying inteelect. I meant using it for such things as trying to comprehend God's ways, not man's.

    Good. So I’m sure you’ll agree that God sent His son to atone for our sins. Why did He erase evidence of Jesus’ life outside of the New Testament? I don’t know, but who are we to try and comprehend God's ways.

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  67. "although Orthodox Judaism believes such a person never existed at all, and that the entire story they tell is false from the get-go."

    Sources please. (A Wednesday night shmuess by your mashgiach does not count as a source.)

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  68. Am I the only one who thinks that Poshuter is chepening? By the way excellent job, Poshuter!

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  69. "1. Being evil as much as you are good is not a Torah philosophy.
    2. Being evil as much as you are good is a corollary of your philosophy."

    Look, you already have failed in your presentation because you missed the entire point. It is not "you" I am referring to, as in human beings. You keep trying to ascribe human qualities to God, and that is inherently wrong. Don't try and trip people up with your logic and fallacy and all that Philosophy 101 mumbo jumbo. Logic is only logic for US, not for God, don't you get that? He is not limited to ANYTHING we have, not space, time, logic, dimensions, none of it. The second you ascribe a single human quality to God, you immediately deny God's very existence.

    The official Orthodox position is that no such person as Jesus existed. There is no evidence at all. The person mentioned in the Talmud as Yeshu HaNotzri has been proven not to refer to him, and cannot refer to him chronologically anyway. No Jesus, no big bang, none of this ridiculousness. Until HaRav Aharon Leib Shteinman or HaRav Kanievsky says otherwise, thats how it is.

    And I will not address anyone mentioning a New Testament, dying for sins, or any other silliness which is as worthless as used toilet paper.
    Torah is truth, and you don't need to look anywhere else for it. This business about creating the world "thru natural means", you must be joking. There is no natural anything for God. He thinks it into existence (don't start about God thinking, you know what I'm saying), and it then exists. He said let there be light and poof, there it was. No protons or quarks or whatever else you scientific heretics come up with when it comes to God creating. Yesh meayin, creatio ex nihilo. Anyone, including Rishonim, Achronim, whatever who says otherwise is a complete kofer mamash.

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  70. Jack, even scholars of early Christianity have found good reason to believe that the Haploid of Nazareth was a conflation of more than one person.

    On a more general note, not directed at you, religious epistemology based on fear of punishment or the silencing of all dissenting beliefs is not not a theory of knowledge. It is obedience at the point of a gun. Such arguments are not convincing. The proper response is to acquire a weapon of one's own and use it.

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  71. I have no clue what chepening means nor do I care.

    And the point is it does not matter what your viewpoint is at all. All we have to do is very very simple, yet you have to complicate it ad infinitum, ad nauseum.

    Daven, make brachos, learn Torah, give tzedakah, keep Shabbos, and follow the rest of Taryag mitzvos as much as possible. That's all. Easy as pie. Thats all Hashem wants from us. Don't worry so much about Big Bangs and Jesus and firmaments. It's all tiflus and bitul Torah. No wonder Chazal said not to learn Kabbala until the age of 40, meaning that most in their day had finished all of shas by that time. Most today havent finished 1 mesechta by the age of 60, so no Kabbalah, no Zohar, no Maharal. Ask HaRav Kanievsky if you should venture into this stuff.

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  72. Y Aharon wrote:

    "Student V, I was not addressing the possibility of the Carmel forest fire being set deliberately by enemies of the Jewish state. I was, instead, addressing the point raised by at least one Orthodox religious leader in Israel that the fire was due to sins such as shabbat descretion. In other words, attributing the calamity to Jews from another camp."

    Wow, I completely misunderstood you. I am sorry.

    (Btw, I heard them try to claim it was a coal from a hookah, not pot). Still, whichever it was, I do not believe the "negligence" claims because even if it is negligence, it's criminal negligence to toss fire into a forest (again, I don't really believe those claims), and because Arabs start fires such as these all year long. Not only that but once the massive fire was going and reported all over the news, copycat terror attacks were committed in many places whereby in various areas of Israel, Arabs set and/or tried and failed (several were caught in the act, several succeeded in igniting new fires - ex kiryat bialik) to set additional fires which they thought could add to the growing catastrophe and add a knockout punch while many Israeli Arabs cheered.

    We can all believe what we want, I guess, but I have grown tired and weary when it comes to the claims of the Israeli govt in defense of Arab terrorists. To me, these crooks have less credibility than a pashkevil.

    I apologize for my tone with you, since apparently I didn't even read correctly what you were saying!

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  73. I have written some comments regarding this thread in a new post.

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  74. Btw - I also never claimed it was done by a group.

    You had said: "Terror groups usually are eager to take credit for acts that lead to mass casualties. No one, to my knowledge, has claimed such credit. "

    These were individuals not necessarily involved with any organized structure. But when it looks like a duck and acts like a duck, sometimes ducks are 'going it alone' and do not have membership with any known terrorist entity or handler. 14 year old arab kids can be nationalistic too, and 14 year old arab kids can be malicious too.

    And many of them certainly are when it comes to us, or else we are fooling ourselves.

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  75. > Don't try and trip people up with your logic and fallacy and all that Philosophy 101 mumbo jumbo.

    At this point, you’re just stocking your fingers in your ears and yelling, “I believe, I believe, I believe, nananannana.”

    I think we’re done.

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  76. Student V - The suspect is a Jewish kid. He's confessed. The police are satisfied at this point. Are you saying it must be Arabs because you have evidence or because you want it to be true?

    What do you know, and how do you know it?

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  77. Poshiter Yid:

    Whereas
    1. You believe "The second you ascribe a single human quality to God, you immediately deny God's very existence."
    2. Moshe ascribes human qualities to G-d in the Torah.

    It follows
    1. You believe Moshe denied the existence of G-d.
    2. The Torah is a book of kefirah.

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  78. Todd- Perhaps you don't realize that Usfiya is a Druze village?

    In any case, I read that the suspect is actually Arab and not Druze in this case, but certainly no one has claimed it was a Jew. Where do you get YOUR information from when you claim it's a Jewish suspect when they refer to him as an "Usfiya boy?!"

    And if you're actually questioning my other claims (in truth, you try to discredit me entirely by claiming I'm spreading falsehood about any aspect of what I say), I'll defend the other things I said by quoting the "centrist darling" Palestine Post, I mean, Jerusalem Post, since I'm sure you will believe what they say over what I say:

    "Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said a total of four suspects around the country had been arrested in recent days on suspicion of deliberately setting smaller fires.

    Two suspects were arrested in the Jerusalem area, and two more were arrested in Acre for alleged arson attacks.

    Rosenfeld said that “over 20 smaller fires around the country” that had broken out since Thursday were suspected to be acts of arson."

    http://www.jpost.com/NationalNews/Article.aspx?id=198271


    You read that correctly. OVER 20 arson-terror attacks while the Carmel fires still raged!

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  79. Speaking of the Jerusalem Post, they also report the following:

    "On Friday, two men in their 30s from Daliat al- Carmel were arrested on suspicion of hurling flammable materials into the Carmel forest, after reportedly being spotted by a pilot from above. But the men were released without charge on Saturday...

    On Friday, a fire broke out in Kiryat Bialik’s Tzur Shalom industrial zone, forcing the evacuation of a nearby factory. The flames were brought under control by firefighters within several hours. Police reported finding a bicycle and a bag containing a wig near the area, increasing suspicions that arson was involved.

    A blaze that broke out in Tivon was also likely the result of arson, police said.

    “There have been a number of arson attacks in the northern district,” Police Insp.-Gen. David Cohen said during an emergency press conference on Friday evening at Haifa University.

    Additional suspicious fires erupting over the weekend were seen in the following areas: near the Galilee village of Adi, at Bet Shlomo Junction by Route 70 in the vicinity of Nazareth, and near Kfar Mashad.

    A small fire erupted in Haifa’s Nave Yosef neighborhood on Friday afternoon. All the fires were out by midnight.

    “We’ve been seeing these kinds of arson attacks for many years,” Fire Service official Boaz Arkia said. "

    http://www.jpost.com/NationalNews/Article.aspx?id=198066


    Wow, he even admitted that these have been going on for years. Surprised they would openly say that to the media with such candor, but I'm sure there will be political consequences against him for doing so. So Student V didn't make this stuff up afterall... Very convenient that I can find it so easily in such a "mainstream" source! And in English no less. Baruch Hashem for that.

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  80. It seems as though the suspects may actually be druze boys since one of the fathers claims to have served in the military. Maybe one is druze and the other is Arab, I don't know. Perhaps the initial report I saw was that it was an Arab but they clarified later. Jpost looks like it wants to ignore the ethnicity of the participants so it doesn't distinguish. It doesn't make all that much difference, since these types of fires year-round are started by careless Druze as well as arabs!

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  81. Maverick: Find something more constructive to do with your time. With so much impeccable logic, which you have clearly mastered enough to distort Torah, you could achieve great things. Moshe (and us, for that matter) use human terms to describe God and His functions because human terms are all we have. But God is not corporeal, and is not limited to them. So what we call His "mouth" is not a mouth.

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  82. The view brought up by Poshuter Yid have been around for quite a while... The Medabrim in the Moreh held the same views- that everything stems from the free will of god. Hishtadlus was invented later to explain why we bother eat drink etc.
    That excuse realy shut up the mouths of hard-core rationalists- why eat? Hishtadlus. Why work? Hishtadlus. Why bother write a comment to a blog of some Epikores? Hishtadlus.
    The problem with the "poshut" Hashkafa is less with it's logic, as rationalists would also have to admit to hashem having free will, but more with it's theological implications.
    According to the "Poshut" Hashkafa, Hashem didn't want to create a world that matches his standards- a world in which a good deed leads to a tangible reward and a bad one leads to punishment. instead the world was made an ilusion, in which the "world" has one set of rules (reason), and Hashem another, and we, Jews, are asked to cover up for God and pretend the world spins on its own (via Hishtadlus), only to be rewarded for not falling for that nonsense called reason. In other words- Hashem is pulling shtik on us, and we are expected to realize that in order to get rewarded.

    We who believe Hashem to be the source of all goodness, and a Just Judge to all, must reject Poshuter Yid's view as Kfira in Hashem's true nature.

    P.S The implication of Poshuter's view appear in Iyov's complaints and are among the foundations of christian theology. We, as believing Jews reject both.

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  83. Student V, apology accepted. We aren't so far apart on this matter. I agree that there were other fires, both in the past and during the Carmel crisis, that were acts of arson. The only question is the nature of the cause of the Carmel forest conflagration. I have no problem with believing the reports that it to be due to a negligent discard of a glowing ember in the dry forest. In any case, the country must be prepared to combat such fires, whether due to negligence, arson, or shelling. The associated ministries were, indeed, negligent in failing to appropriate adequate funds and to assign adequate equipment and personnel to deal with such fires occurring simultaneously. Given the current weather pattern, the lack of peace, and the nature of the long-range weapons in the hands of enemies, the problem isn't about to go away.

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