Friday, August 7, 2015

The Only Reason Why People Go Off The Derech!

Why do people go off the derech?

I got into a somewhat heated discussion about this last night. After my presentation at a wonderful shul, K'hal Bnei Torah in Brooklyn, a very yeshivishe gentleman came over to me. He complimented me on my talk, which was about the animal kingdom in Jewish thought, but asked me why I had to publish my books on Torah-science issues. He didn't dispute that there are Rishonim and Acharonim who take the rationalist approach, but he argued that it is too dangerous to write about such things. He complained that a talmid of his is going off the derech because of my books, saying that "if Chazal could be wrong about science, then they could be wrong about everything!"

In response, I told him that I fully acknowledge that the approach presented in my books is potentially dangerous. However, I continued, I believe that the more conservative approach is at least as dangerous, if not more so. Telling people that everything in the Gemara is absolutely correct, and that you're an apikores if you think otherwise, turns many people off Judaism. As Faranak Margolese writes in her insightful book Off The Derech, when people are rebuffed for their questions, they feel disenfranchised from the community.

The gentleman responded that he has learned in all the top yeshivos, and he has never heard of rebbeim telling their talmidim that they are apikorsim if they don't believe that everything in the Gemara is true. Furthermore, he continued, he firmly rejects the notion that anyone goes off the derech because of such a thing.

"There is only one reason why people go off the derech," he stated firmly. "Tayveh!"

I was so horrified at this that I could not continue the discussion any longer. But later, it occurred to me that I missed a chance for a perfect rejoinder. If people only go off the derech because of tayveh, then my books are not making anyone go off the derech!

(In other news: Stay tuned for some extraordinary things that I discovered in New York, which I hope to post about in the next few days. Also, this Shabbos I am speaking at Young Israel of Lawrence/Cedarhurst, and I will be doing a book signing there on Sunday morning.)

158 comments:

  1. "He has never heard of rebbeim telling their talmidim that they are apikorsim if they don't believe that everything in the Gemara is true." - In my 11 years in the observant world, I've heard more than one haredi Rabbi refer to "every word" of the Gemara being "kadosh kadoshim." I always assumed (perhaps incorrectly?) that if I believed otherwise, according to their definition, I was an apikorsis. So when I read your books and discovered a great many Rabbis understood the Gemara differently, it reinforced my faith that authentic Judaism isn't opposed to what is rational (for example, when I came across problematic language in the Gemara discussing spontaneous generation, etc.). For me, that was REALLY important, and helped me grow in my relationship with G-d and Judaism.

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  2. Well, I do think negi'os (subconscious ulterior motives) have more to do with these descisions than reason. Whether we're talking about someone going OTD or someone becoming a BT.

    In your example, I would posit that it is the insulting treatment of having one's questions not taken seriously that does more damage than the implied message that the questions lack an answer.

    It is one's negi'os that decide for you how hard to search for flaws in the logic, and which questions are insurmountable disproofs, and which are interesting things to keep around for when you find an answer.

    Religion is too emotionally charged of a topic for reason to stay in charge. And too complicated of a topic for everyone to agree about which arguments are sound.

    "The Chaver: That which you are describing is religion based on speculation and system, the research of thought, but open to many doubts. Now ask the philosophers, and you will find that they do not agree on one action or one principle, since some doctrines can be established by arguments, which are only partially satisfactory, and still much less capable of being proved." -- Kuzari 1:13

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    1. > Well, I do think negi'os (subconscious ulterior motives) have more to do with these descisions than reason. Whether we're talking about someone going OTD or someone becoming a BT.

      Or staying frum, for someone born into it.

      > In your example, I would posit that it is the insulting treatment of having one's questions not taken seriously that does more damage than the implied message that the questions lack an answer.

      Yes. That, and the implication that there's something wrong with you if you ask such questions.

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  3. What does the word tayveh mean,please?

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    1. "Lust,," for a hedonistic lifestyle.

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    2. Thank you! I was actually about to look that up myself. It's a shame people are still blaming your books for others going off the derech. In fact, your books helped get me back on the derech and I pray that those that criticize you someday realize the benefit you have provided to Jewish thought in this day and age.

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    3. It is a Yiddish-isation of the Hebrew word תאווה

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    4. Thanks. I was pretty sure it was toevah yiddisheized.

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    5. Actually, it's "ta'avah" ("desire" or "lust", as R' Slifkin explained) yiddishized.

      Though I'd probably transliterate it "taivah" (or perhaps "taiveh", if you wanted to really capture that Yiddish flavor). "Tayveh" made me think of Noah's ark (as another commenter noted).

      When I first read it, I thought for a second R' Slifkin was trying to yiddishize "teva" (i.e., "nature"), and that what this gentleman was suggesting was that the only reason folks go "off the derech" is because they come to understand nature, as through R' Slifkin's books. That would be a stretch indeed...

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    6. It's funny, a google search for "Tayveh" loops right back to this page

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  4. I would posit that religion is both too emotionally loaded of a topic and its lines of reasoning too complex for reason to really be the deciding factor.

    So, while it's not all reducible to desire, I think it is reducible to what the Baalei Mussar call negi'os -- subconscious ulterior motives. All religious decisions. Not just why people go OTD, but also why others become BTs. Why a Hindu might become Moslem.

    It is one's negi'os that motivate the search for problems, and that determine whether a question is perceived as a solid disproof, or an interesting side issue that you'll hopefully resolve someday. It is negi'os that decide which first principles / postulates are self-evident, and which you'll question.

    Because end the end of the day, there is no way to prove that a proof is airtight.

    "The Chaver: That which you describe is religion based on speculation and system, the research of thought, but open to many doubts. Now ask the philosophers, and you will find that they do not agree on one rule of behavior or one principle, since some doctrines can be established by arguments, which are only partially satisfactory, and still much less capable of being proved." -R' Yehudah haLevi, Kuzari 1:13

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  5. For the same reason, when a teacher refuses to answer a question, or even insults a student for asking, it's the emotional response that has more impact than the implied message that there is no answer. If the same teacher had said "I don't know", do you think the comparable damage was done to the student's faith?

    Again, it has more to do with the need to fit in socially and feel treated with dignity more than ideas.

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  6. Tayveh? I agree. The problems regarding the traditional interpretation of Noah's ark and the flood are really hard to reconcile and do indeed push many people off the derech!

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    1. LOL, it took me a few minutes to get that! Must be tired.

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  7. I was wondering how the lead character in Fiddler would cause OTD

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  8. If tayveh is the only reason people go OTD, they can find their excuse anywhere. Meanwhile, emes is the only good reason to get ON the derech. Keep up the good work.

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    1. except if you realize that the emes is that all "movements" (including reform) are intellectual failures.

      tuv

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    2. Huh? Who is talking about movements? I'm saying that even if people use emes as an excuse to do as they please, that is still no good reason not to say it.

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    3. interesting how "emes" is "the" thing to bring people "on" the derech its just one big closing your eyes and having emuna and bitachon it doesnt have to do with emes we realy dont know the emes
      emes is in the world to come

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  9. Why did the student read your books in the first place? Obviously the problem existed before your books. And the books didn't quash the doubts. And here comes the Rebbe blaming the "bandaid" of a "wound".
    Cause and effect.

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  10. I am not sure why you were so horrified. I think for a great deal of people, the motivating factor is indeed, "tayvah," or "having fun." Sure, there are intellectual and/or emotional problems that may make leaving easier, but what exactly about the outside world draws people today if not girls, movies, etc.? Just look at the way OTD kids dress. They're not exactly wearing suits and ties and running to become intellectuals. Naturally, there are exceptions, but the great majority of them in my mind are indeed attracted to the outside world by "fun" above all else. (Rabbi Mayer Schiller made a similar point years ago.)

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    1. I can't see people leaving their whole family structure behind just to have fun! People usually leave any generic movement when they are disillusioned with it or feel alienated from it.

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    2. Intellectuals in suits and ties comes from another century. The geniuses building our modern technological world wear jeans and t shirts, and in the summer, shorts.

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    3. @Makk I can't see people leaving their whole family structure behind just to have fun!

      I guess you did not see many YU graduates who come there frum and leave barely observant.

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  11. There is only one reason why people go off the derech Tayveh/(yetzar harah); this a reason provided by many Orthodox Jews. Other very popular reasons I have heard was some form of childhood abuse/mental illness. Those reasons may may be true for some OTDs, but not all. It also shows utter ignorance for the truly troubling issues regarding the claims of Orthodox Judaism, nor does it address them.

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    1. they won't be addressing the claims anytime soon. cowards that they are.
      tuv

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    2. interesting to know who the cowards that you mentioned are?
      there are plenty of books that try and some succeed in explaining yiddishkeit to the poeple with questions, and even though there are plenty more issues
      not every question deserves a book to answer it.

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  12. Regarding the discomfort some people have in saying "I don't know"....., I have an anecdote from another culture that may shed some light on the matter that made an impression on me:..
    During the time of the American occupation of Baghdad after the ousting of Saddam Hussein, the New York Times had an article about the culture shock American troops had in coming in contact with Iraqi Arabs. The Americans would say "all Arabs are liars". Why? Because they would ask directions in the street from some Arab passerby and they would discover that the directions were wrong. The New York Times, being politically correct said that this wasn't because the Arabs were "liars", but rather in their "shame/honor' culture, it is humiliating to admit that one doesn't know something, so they make up an answer to get out of the situation. According to the Times, Americans should understand that this is NOT "lying". Well, to me, lies are told in order to benefit the one who is telling them in some way, and this is what the Baghdadians are doing, telling an untruth for their own benefit.

    Back to our situation here....apparently a teacher who gives a student knowingly wrong information rather than admitting he doesn't know something is doing the same thing....his honor as a supposedly knowledgeable teacher is threatened by saying he doesn't know something, so it is better in his eyes to push off the student with some non-sensicle answer.

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    1. I never had a rebbe say, "I don't know," but I also never had one who lied to me. Instead I was told that it's better not to think about such things, or that it wasn't important, or that surely the great rabbonim had thought of these things and still stayed frum.

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  13. There is a fundamental misconception that people who go off OTD have succumbed to Tayveh and were pulled away from Torah by the forbidden pleasures of the outside world. The man who argued that Tayveh is the reason that people go OTD has fundamentally misunderstood what is actually happening.

    This is a multi-faceted problem and the reasons that people go OTD are many and complex but if there is one word which sums up why people go OTD it is "Pain" or "Suffering". People are not pulled away from Torah by the outside world - they are pushed out from within due to pain they associate with learning and/or keeping Torah. This suffering can take many forms, for example: abuse of a physical or sexual nature, being forced to learn Torah and being pilloried or rejected for failing to do so, not being able to express legitimate talents or interests because they do not conform with societal norms (art, music, sports etc), associating Torah with punishment (my son's Rebbe routinely punishes the boys in his class by requiring them to write out Mishnayos or chapters of Tehillim which in my opinion is utterly inappropriate and just plain wrong)

    If there is one piece of advice that I could give parents who want to protect their children from going OTD, it would be this: never allow your children to associate Torah or Mitzvos with suffering - do not force them to learn if they are struggling to do so, do not force them to go to Shul if they do not want to, do not prevent them from expressing their individuality and NEVER use Torah as a punishment. The logic is simple - if your children do not associate Torah with pain and negativity, they will never have a reason to rebel against it.

    (Incidentally, I suspect that if R'Noson had responded that if Tayveh really was the cause for people going OTD then his book could not really be blamed, the response would probably have been that Tayveh is the real reason but that people who were looking for an excuse to 'throw off the yoke of Torah' would use his book as the excuse to justify their actions to themselves)

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    1. Excellent comment ישר כחך

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    2. > If there is one piece of advice that I could give parents who want to protect their children from going OTD, it would be this: never allow your children to associate Torah or Mitzvos with suffering

      Ironically, I think that my own lack of belief is making it more likely that my children will stay frum. I don't care nearly enough to make my kids do things they really don't like. So, for example, while my experience of going to shul Shabbos morning as a kid was hours sitting next to my father and getting reprimanded if I violated shul etiquette, their experience is playing with their friends and getting candy.

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    3. R' Horowitz estimates that 80% of the boys he works with have dyslexia and ADD and therefore find a system in which success is so heavily dependent on book knowledge. Not only does this mean that Judaism until now has been very associated with frustrating levels of boredum (for the AD[H]D) or just plain frustration (for the dyslexic), it also means they're getting the message that they will never be more than 2nd rate. So of course such boys want to leave the system.

      Similarly, a large number of the OTD are victims of misteatment by rebbes or moros, they associate the religion they left behind with anything from a string of religious figures who browbeated them to actually hit them to criminal levels of physical or sexual abuse.

      (Notice all of these are about whether they feel the religion is working for them, not abstract reason.)

      So much of whether or not "children to associate Torah or Mitzvos with suffering" is out of parental control.

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  14. Frankly, I don't quite understand the whole "why do people go OTD" question, at least the way that it is framed today. It presupposes that the most natural thing in the world is that people will practice Orthodox Judaism and there must be something unusual stopping them. But the vast majority of Jews don't practice Orthodox Judaism, let alone the vaster majority of non-Jews exposed to Judaism (meaning that they don't believe that there is any real value in Jews refraining from consuming bacon cheeseburgers).

    It also ignores the larger context of the reduction in belief in religion in the Western world. Is it a coincidence that the enlightenment/haskala emerged at the same time as the decline in religion?

    The obvious reason to avoid buying into any system is that the system is not convincing. The counterarguments to this thesis are quite weak:

    Sure, there are intellectual and/or emotional problems that may make leaving easier, but what exactly about the outside world draws people today if not girls, movies, etc.? Just look at the way OTD kids dress. They're not exactly wearing suits and ties and running to become intellectuals. Naturally, there are exceptions, but the great majority of them in my mind are indeed attracted to the outside world by "fun" above all else.

    1) The Pythagoreans were averse to eating beans. If you were an OTD Pythagorean and consumed beans, does that mean that you were swayed by the unchecked desire to eat beans?

    2) Intellectuals go the beach too, and they don't wear their suits and ties. If you are not Orthodox, why would you not dress and act as others dress and act?

    3) If I doubt astrology, does that mean that I have to run to become an astronomer? Can't I just think that it makes no sense, so that I need not pay any mind to it?

    The intellectual aspect is in fact overwhelming in its importance.

    To answer my own question, I think that when people talk about OTD, they are probably dealing with specifically with the margins (i.e. how to reduce the number of people leaving, increase the number of people entering). It is entirely possible that, at the margins, there is little that we can do to increase or decrease the extent to which people buy into the system intellectually. For the most part, the people that don't buy it never will. Therefore it makes sense to concentrate on the peripherals like making people feel generally good about Judaism.

    But if that is true, when people say that the problem is not an intellectual one, what they really mean is that they don't have much to offer to help convince people intellectually. Stated another way, if Sefer Breishis contained even a simplified but clear description of evolution or even elliptical orbits, then the approach would be completely different.

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    1. "Frankly, I don't quite understand the whole "why do people go OTD" question, at least the way that it is framed today. It presupposes that the most natural thing in the world is that people will practice Orthodox Judaism and there must be something unusual stopping them. But the vast majority of Jews don't practice Orthodox Judaism, let alone the vaster majority of non-Jews exposed to Judaism (meaning that they don't believe that there is any real value in Jews refraining from consuming bacon cheeseburgers)."

      We don't expect that every single reform or conservative Jew come to Orthodoxy since, as you said, the majority of Jews are not Orthodox. People use the term OTD for someone who started in Orthodoxy, and then moved away from it. If one was brought up in certain type of lifestyle and culture (which has been the tradition in the family for a long time), then it is in fact unnatural to veer from it, that's why people use the term OTD. Lihavdil, if an American family has been living in Boston for many generations and has a long history of being Red Sox fans, is it not very natural that the next generation also be Red Sox fans, even though most people in the world following baseball are not Red Sox fans?

      "when people say that the problem is not an intellectual one, what they really mean is that they don't have much to offer to help convince people intellectually"

      I think that when people say that the problem is not intellectual it usually means that there are fine answers, but the problem is that this "intellectually troubled" teen is not interested in carrying the burdens of observance (R'Slifkin--it's not only tayveh, but also time and effort consuming actions that move people away). It's only masked in intellectual problems that don't actually bother him that much

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    2. It doesn't presuppose that "the most natural thing in the world is that people will practice Orthodox Judaism", just that the most natural thing is for people to continue the way they were raised. Which, for those raised in a practicing Orthodox home, would be to practice Orthodox Judaism.

      I also fail to see that "[t]he intellectual aspect is in fact overwhelming in its importance." Since you are entering into a machloqes between R' Saadia Gaon and the Rambam on one side and R Yehudah haLevi, and Rabbeinu Yonah on the other (as well as many others on both sides), not to mention running counter the entire field of psychology since they dismissed Socates' theory of akrasia (which is likely R Yisrael Salanter, some 60 years before Freud) and posited the concept of unconscious thought (which is definitely RYS's), I don't think the claim should be made without proof.

      In terms of evidence, as I said, neither among those that come to the community (BTs) nor those that leave do we find a significant number people who don't also have emotional reasons for doing so. And if psychologists are correct, even they are merely out of touch with those emotions, but not any less motivated by them.

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    3. OMG, Shmuel, I agree with someone!

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    4. > It presupposes that the most natural thing in the world is that people will practice Orthodox Judaism and there must be something unusual stopping them.

      It is assumed that it is obvious that OJ is true. After all, Avraham Avinu realized the truth of Hashem's sovereignty as a three-year-old alone in a cave. It is also assumed that OJ provides the best possible life. Given those two premises, why would anyone not be frum? It must be that their desire to do things forbidden by halacha has motivated them to pretend to believe, or maybe even convince themselves, that Yiddishkeit is not true.

      > the vast majority of Jews don't practice Orthodox Judaism, let alone the vaster majority of non-Jews exposed to Judaism

      Because they are ruled by their tavios, or because they don't know any better. There is a pervasive belief that those outside the frum community are wallowing in an immoral morass of hedonism.

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  15. I honestly don't see what was so horrifying about the man's reason for people going off the derech. In fact to me, it actually seems pretty accurate. I also don't think he was being contradictory with his simultaneous criticism of your book and claiming lust as the reason for why people go off the derech: there is a constant pull of people toward a hedonistic lifestyle, and thus any reason people find to disregard Judaism, will pull them more in that non-religious, hedonistic direction -- e.g. your book, at least according to this man.

    You also haven't addressed his testimony that none of the rabbeim in his Yeshivot said that people are apikorsim if they don't believe everything Chazal said was true. Certainly, this "very yeshivishe gentleman" does not believe so.

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    1. > claiming lust as the reason for why people go off the derech: there is a constant pull of people toward a hedonistic lifestyle,

      Why don't I ever get invited to the orgies that OTD people are apparently having? I've part of that circle, at least online, for six or seven years now. And yet, instead of invitations to hedonistic parties, all I've ever done with my fellow malcontents is discuss the merits of things like Biblical scholarship, ANE cultures, aspects of frum culture, and similar intellectual topics. So what am I doing wrong? Do I come across as so boring that no one wants to invite me?

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    2. "So what am I doing wrong? Do I come across as so boring that no one wants to invite me?"

      Could be, I don't know you.

      But I'm not referring to orgies when I say hedonistic lifestyle. I use the word based on a comment by Rabbi Slifkin defining the word "tayveh," and the word doesn't necessarily have to mean anything crazy like that. Simply, there are many materialistic things that Judaism forbids, and going off the derech opens up the doors to experience those things. It's not an innovative concept I'm talking about here.

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    3. > It's not an innovative concept I'm talking about here.

      I wish it were. No, what it is is a defense of people's faith. If people were going OTD for intellectual reasons, then frum people would be forced to examine their own beliefs. On teh other hand, if people go OTD because they can't control their taivos, then there's no need for frum people to examine their beliefs. After all, even those who are OTD really would agree that OJ is truth, they just can't control themselves.

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    4. First, the practical effect of people going OTD for a certain reason is totally unrelated to the reality of why people actually go OTD.

      Second, I believe that frum people can and should still examine their beliefs, even if the reason for going OTD is tayveh. Tayveh could be the underlying reason and the intellectual reasons could be excuses. But if frum people would reexamine their beliefs, they could get rid of many of the intellectual excuses to go OTD.

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  16. By observing the correlation between leaving yiddishkeit and chasing tayvah (as defined by yiddishkeit), it is misleading to draw the conclusion that the underlying motive is tayvah. Because do you really mean to imply that if for whatever reason YOU came to disbelieve the tenets of Orthodox Judaism you would not modify your behavior accordingly? Would you continue to go to shul three times a day, avoid maacholos assuros and observe Shabbos if you did not honestly believe? That is not to say that there are no emotional factors that come into play. But by dismissing intellectuality because OTDers 'discard the tie and enjoy girls, movies, etc' is bad logic. As a matter of fact, it is way more difficult to understand people who lose their faith yet who do not go OTD.

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  17. The man's claim that your books can push people Off the Derech is at least partially true.

    The biggest challenge to my faith was when your books were "banned" - the approach that the Charedi world took to your books and to you personally made me reassess my whole understanding (and ultimately reject) the concept of "Daas Torah".
    Although i still define myself as a believing Jew committed to Halacha, the period after the "Slifikin Scandal" was the closest I every came to going Off the Derech".

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  18. Blaming Taiveh for changing ones lifestyle is as much a Taiveh'dig response by those who cannot deal with the rational faults in religion.

    You can at most say that "for aome", it might be the initial driver to make them question their socially accepted truths. But that's it.

    In fact, those who turn BT, are more likely to "lust" for for a certain lifestyle rather than finding logical reason in them. And even than, they are ignoring major moral and practical issues that high highly problematic, in favour of the social aspects on offer for them or their families. It's a valid choice.

    Going otd Otoh, it's true that many do so for Negi'os, and those can also be returned by counter Negi'os such as breslev does lately. But a great many are either pushed into it by rational thought, or their initial triggers lead them there. At that point, you better have rational solutions if you don't want to be seen as a bunch charlatans leading innocent people astray with outdated stone age ideas. Negi'os are just an infuriating cop-out. Infuriating because it replaces reason with guilt tripping. Either you answer to the point or you admit that you cannot substantiate your position. At this point it justly becomes a כל בואה לא ישורון.

    In essence, hunkering down on Negi'os is wilfully ignoring the absolute need for reason for a great many human minds. To us, this is an admission that the emperor really has no clothes on.

    Most of us have lost to much because of that need and find guilt tripping very offensive

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    1. guilt tripping is the best weapon these costumed gentlemen have. that or fear of hell. it is the weapon of the religious totalitarian. It distracts them from the fact that all movements (from reform to orthodoxy) are intellectual failures. It is pretty disgusting stuff. well put.
      tuv

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  19. I have met people who survived the horrors of the Holocaust who came from religious families and then gave it up as a result of what they went through. (I also have met those who came through it and remained religious). I don't think you can use the "ta'avot"/lust argument in their case.

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  20. And now my two cents:
    If the entire world was orthodox jewish (oj), and a kid decides one day to no longer follow that belief system, then yes, we would look for something abnormal that occurred in his/her childhood or adolescence to precipitate such a drastic decision. Because yes, most people live the way they were indoctrinated/educated. The big factor that's different in our world, however, is that the overwhelming majority of the world does not ascribe to the oj belief system, and so at one point or another in life, the oj kid/adolescent will have to confront that 'other' world and realize that there is an alternative 'life narrative.' That's why from the time of the enlightenment and on, when the walls if the ghetto/shtetl were breached, defections from oj have been massive, and will continue to be so.

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  21. The point is probably that your books give people an excuse to succumb to tayvoh.

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  22. The entirety of the exchange is why people go off the derech. The hubris of the individual stating a single reason why people go off the derech, as if the human condition is homogeneous. Coupled with him contradicted his earlier statement, crystallizes why people go off the derech and by extension the Yeshiva world. This line of reasoning is a common theme in the Yeshiva world, e.g., my Rebbe would state that every word in Rashi is "min h'shamayim", and then we would come across a Rashi where he states "I don't know the meaning of this passage"; what happened? did Rashi briefly switched mobile carriers from Verizon to T-Mobile??? Another example, "Halacha, Esuv soney es Yakov", the chasedim love that one; I naively thought they banned Shindler's List for the nudity.

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  23. Yeah, that very yeshivishe gentleman is correct.
    It starts with its sister, a specific "toeyvah" for modern informational technology of computers, televisions and smartphones and terminates in spiritual debauchery. Just tell your compliant doctrinaires that everything other than your hashkafah/true belief is evil and "lust" for a hedonistic lifestyle becomes the provenance of the folks gone OTD.
    This hilarious ad is the confession of the chareidi true believer. Everything else be damned.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1zJxyPPK8c

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  24. How is "derech" defined? There is a true derech and there is a not so true derech. Everyone that has gone to an average orthodox yeshiva knows that when a student expressed his lack of faith in the Gemara, not only would they have heard "apikorsim" but would have also heard "kefira" and maybe "you are talking like a shaygetz" and even a lecture, e.g. "how dare you even think that you are anywhere near the levels of the rabbonim that you can question them, etc".
    So this gentleman claiming to never have heard of rabbonim telling their talmidim that they are apikorsim or the like, if they don't believe that everything in the Gemara is true. Either, 1) Went to yeshivos that were so "top" with extremely sincere true God fearing Rabbis (which these days only exist in our wishful thinking imaginations) or, 2) The intimidation tactics were so strong, that no one would dare question the Gemara's validity. or, 3) Did not attend yeshiva on those days when a student would express his lack of faith, or, 4) Is an outright liar.
    If the derech that is being left, is that of the one this gentleman is on, after making such an unrealistic statement. Than we all must run off this derech like running from a fire.

    Just as one cannot have another eat and sleep for them, so too one cannot have another learn Torah for them. The premise of this derech is that the level of the rabbonim were so great that contrary to true reality, their wisdom surpasses all, will not lead one to complete Torah Emet.
    As much as we all like to believe and to take pride in our rabbonim for always having the right answers. The truth is still the truth and truth is what we are obligated to seek. As Torah learning Jews and as intelligent human beings, we must give allegiance to our god-given intellect. With all the confidence that one can muster, know that the true answers lie within each and every one of us.
    o

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  25. There are many reasons that people go OTD just as there are many reasons others remain "kiruv-proof".
    Torah Judaism demands a person develop a personal relationship with God, the kind where you feel you can talk to Him and He's listening even if He doesn't answer back. Most people who aren't interested in that relationship or have no personal need for it won't get anything out of the frum lifestyle after a while or want to pick it up.
    We should be teaching people how to connect, not just what to do with the connection they don't really have.

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    1. "Torah Judaism demands a person develop a personal relationship with God..." Agreed that Torah Judaism does. I do not agree with the implication that Orthodox Judaism makes the same demand.

      If this were a significant motive,you would have more people going through the motions in hopes they magicically create a relationship. Like the chumerah-of-the-month people do. Not people leaving Orthodoxy.

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    2. A related thought.... All these people who go "OTD" aren't really going off the derekh. They are giving up observance. But the vast majority weren't actually given a derekh in order to speak of them leaving it.

      Halakhah is, quite literally, the art of walking. (Check the root of the word!) So we teach kids a lot about how to walk, but only vague platitudes about where to end up, but nothing solid. How many people realize that being taught that mitzvos give us a way to get close to G-d and that mitzvos give us a way to become whole creates a conflict of values? If I cannot daven on time with kavanah, do I refine my sense of order and pray on time, or do I connect to G-d by delaying until I'm awake enough to think about what I'm saying?

      And we CERTAINLY do next to nothing to teach kids how to use that halakhah to actually get there. A derekh is a path. Do we help kids plan a route from where they are to Judaism's goals as each person perceives them?

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  26. Sociologists discuss the maintenance of ethnic identity in terms of "push" (external) and "pull" (internal) factors. In the medieval European society idolized by the Haredim, there were powerful "push" factors: assimilation did not exist because the world outside did not permit it. Your choices were to remain within the Jewish community, subject to its rules and private enforcement, or to convert to Christianity. In other words, isolationism was not a choice; it was imposed from without.
    In the Haredi rewriting of 19th-century Jewish history, Jews who abandoned traditional Judaism did so because they were misled by the haskalah and reform movements. In reality, people left because the "push" factors greatly diminished, and traditional Judaism failed to respond to their needs and the reality of modernity.
    This perverted thought process continues today. If people leave Orthodoxy, it couldn't possibly be because Orthodoxy is doing something wrong, so they must have personal problems.
    Today the Haredim attempt to impose isolationism from within, which is a very different thing. They are forced to raise their children on lies: lies about science and history, lies about the amorality and innate hostility of the non-Haredi world, lies about the goodness and wisdom of Haredi leaders. When those lies are exposed, children have three choices.
    1. Continue to live in denial.
    2. Maintain outward Haredism with inner cynicism.
    3. Leave.
    Only the last choice has integrity. And since they have been taught contempt for non-Haredi forms of Judaism, they leave altogether.

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  27. The rather contradictory arguments raised by the rebbe reveals more about his inadequacy and that of those like him than anything wrong with the books in question. If they wouldn't teach that the sages were correct in all their pronouncements and that to suggest fallibility is heresy, then their students wouldn't face some crises in belief once they realized the truth of the matter. This rebbe is totally wrong about the militant attitude towards Talmudic fallibility adopted by Hareidi religious figures. As an example, R' Uren Reich, a Lakewood rosh yeshiva and son-in-law of the late Rav Shneur Kotler, declared in an address at an Agudah convention that everything that Chazal stated was true even if contradicted by what can be seen. Another example is the book on the subject by Rav Moshe Meiselman. The controversy generated by Hareidic religious figures against the Slifkin books put the potential conflict between acceptance of Talmudic statements at face value vs. scientific evidence into focus. However, the issue was not initiated by R' Natan, nor are his books the only source for the view that there are areas of conflict between the understanding of the sages and scientists on how the world operates. Anyone with internet connectivity can easily find other sources with good information on matters like the age of the earth and universe, evolution, lack of physical evidence of a global flood, etc. This is in addition to issues of fallibility in matters of biology, history, or mathematics (geometry).

    Y. Aharon.

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  28. I think a distinction ought to be made: Tayveh is the reason why people who are orthodox don't keep halacha as well as they should (especially in Modern Orthodox circles), but "intellectual arguments" are the reasons why people leave orthodoxy completely

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    1. Can't speak for anyone else but I went off the derekh coz I didn't want to be part of the group of orthodox Jews any more. I found their ideas on many topics to be simplistic or worse stupid. Their leadership had too many racists and not enough good people shutting the racism down.

      It just didn't feel like a group I wanted to be a part of or associated with any more.

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    2. > Tayveh is the reason why people who are orthodox don't keep halacha as well as they should (especially in Modern Orthodox circles), but "intellectual arguments" are the reasons why people leave orthodoxy completely

      I think that there's a little of both, and lot of other things, too. People's motivations are complex.

      For those frum people who "don't keep halacha as well as they should," I think a lot of that is that people do what they do because they do. They find a level of observance that's comfortable, and stay there without thinking about it too often. It's not that they believe that there's some ideal, but they fall short because they can't control their desires. It's that most people see what they do as "normal," and everyone else is lax or crazy.

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    3. I claim victory for my theory by anonymous anecdote! :)

      (Fozziebear: this is a joke on myself and not you. As it happens, I feel the same way about the racism, but there are actually lots of Orthodox who feel the same way, especially the younger ones. And obviously it gets better as you go to the "left".)

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    4. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    5. Thanks. I still stay in the gold on the left as it were but each day I have to ask myself why I bother. Alas I live in a right wing neighbourhood / asylum. :-D this doesn't help :-D:-D

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    6. @ Fozzibear (I love that name): It seems that you don't have a problem with Jewish tradition or source texts (even though there are statements in the Gemara that would offend non-Jews), just with the way people practice Judaism and their views.

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  29. I think that many go "off the derech" because they don't believe in the rationalist and non rationalist explanations. In the more yeshivish world, I think that OTD is more related to a lack of accomplishment in learning (for boys.) For girls, it is often the unfair shiduch situation which ultimately leads the older girls to modernize or go OTD.

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  30. Another reason is homosexual tendencies. Many youngsters can't reconcile their desires with an infallible religion which villifies it.
    I wrote this and my previous comment with a great deal of experience in the field.

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  31. There are many reasons that people go OTD just as there are many reasons others remain "kiruv-proof".
    Torah Judaism demands a person develop a personal relationship with God, the kind where you feel you can talk to Him and He's listening even if He doesn't answer back. Most people who aren't interested in that relationship or have no personal need for it won't get anything out of the frum lifestyle after a while or want to pick it up.


    I sense a contradiction between your first sentence and the rest of your comment :). Do you really have to have a personal relationship with God of the sort that you speak of to enjoy Shabbos?

    Shmuel
    We don't expect that every single reform or conservative Jew come to Orthodoxy since, as you said, the majority of Jews are not Orthodox.


    This seems to be a tautology. We don't expect them to accept Orthodoxy because they aren't Orthodox. But why not? The answer for most is that they don't buy it.

    People use the term OTD for someone who started in Orthodoxy, and then moved away from it. If one was brought up in certain type of lifestyle and culture (which has been the tradition in the family for a long time), then it is in fact unnatural to veer from it, that's why people use the term OTD.

    I think that you are mostly right. The problem with using that definition Kiruv and OTD are the same thing! Do people who are Chozer Be'Tshuva have an emotional issue? It seems to me that they come back because they accept the system. Also this would apply to all other religions and atheism as well.

    Lihavdil, if an American family has been living in Boston for many generations and has a long history of being Red Sox fans, is it not very natural that the next generation also be Red Sox fans, even though most people in the world following baseball are not Red Sox fans?

    But being Red Sox fans has nothing to do with belief or acceptance of any truth. I don't think that the analogy is very good.

    "when people say that the problem is not an intellectual one, what they really mean is that they don't have much to offer to help convince people intellectually"

    I think that when people say that the problem is not intellectual it usually means that there are fine answers, but the problem is that this "intellectually troubled" teen is not interested in carrying the burdens of observance (R'Slifkin--it's not only tayveh, but also time and effort consuming actions that move people away). It's only masked in intellectual problems that don't actually bother him that much


    You are right that this is the claim, but it is not particularly convincing in any area to say that your argument is good, but you just can't hear. Especially when the majority can't hear.

    I also fail to see that "[t]he intellectual aspect is in fact overwhelming in its importance." Since you are entering into a machloqes between R' Saadia Gaon and the Rambam on one side and R Yehudah haLevi, and Rabbeinu Yonah on the other (as well as many others on both sides),

    You are more expert than me on this, but I think that all these authorities accepted the basic truth of the system and debated the importance of an intellectual theology vs a more simple acceptance via tradition.

    not to mention running counter the entire field of psychology since they dismissed Socates' theory of akrasia (which is likely R Yisrael Salanter, some 60 years before Freud) and posited the concept of unconscious thought (which is definitely RYS's), I don't think the claim should be made without proof.

    I think that you are going far afield here. Leaving aside Freud's controversial (at least) theories, you are correct that people often do thing that they know are bad for them for various reasons. But we're not talking here about people who accept orthodoxy and then don't do everything they think that they should. They simply don't buy into the thing to begin with.

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    1. It seems you didn't see where I suggested just that -- that the dynamic that motivates the typical BT is the same as the one that motivates the OTD. Although not that that dynamic is "emotional"; it's more about looking to have one's needs met. Not just ta'avos, also need for fitting in to a social group, need for meaning, need to feel like a success (which a dyslexic boy told to head to kollel probably won't), etc...

      To quote my opening words: "Well, I do think negi'os (subconscious ulterior motives) have more to do with these decisions than [does] reason. Whether we're talking about someone going OTD or someone becoming a BT."

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    2. Apologies for not reading carefully enough. But, then the question is, how did we get from default Jew=traditional/observant to default Jew=secular. It seems to me that this can only be explained by the intellectual/buy-in component. At the margins, you have emotional pull. But on average, you have buy-in.

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    3. Didn't it happen when we went from "no other choice" to the enlightenment and the ghetto walls falling? IOW, it was about wanting to make the most of opportunity, not reason.

      As I said, my theory isn't just mine and the Kuzari's, it's pretty fundamental Psych 101. People are need/derire driven, not idea driven. Not all of those desires are reducible to "ta'avah", but they aren't the head either.

      Which is why Mussar was described by R' Elya Lopian as the job of carrying an idea a distance of a single ammah -- from the head to the heart. Things we know in our heads don't drive our decisions. If they did, who would cheat on their diet, sin, or ignore the surgeon general's warning on a pack of cigarettes?

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    4. Didn't it happen when we went from "no other choice" to the enlightenment and the ghetto walls falling? IOW, it was about wanting to make the most of opportunity, not reason.

      Yes, when the ghetto walls fell, people had a choice, just like today. So why didn't they follow their parents?

      I think that you are mixing up two things. Yes, the things that we want are based on desire. The question, though, is how you get there. I go to the refrigerator when I'm hungry because I know that it will help. If I thought the refrigerator was empty, I wouldn't go. Hunger results in desire, but action requires some knowledge, at least implicit, for most human action.

      If they did, who would cheat on their diet, sin, or ignore the surgeon general's warning on a pack of cigarettes?

      We're going in circles here. Of course, people don't always do what they know makes sense in the long run. That doesn't mean that every decision that you disagree with is of that form. Sometimes they just disagree. People who don't vaccinate their children on principle really believe their false vision of the world.

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    5. What I was saying is more about human irrationality. On complicated subjects like religion or philosophy, and in high-stakes subjects in terms of lifestyle, like religion, our ability to decide what is rational isn't strong enough to be a determining factor. That's R' Yehudah haLevi's observation about philosophers, and R' Yisrael Salanter's about religious stances.

      That's why Mussar treats emunah as a middah rather than a cognitive state. They did (do?) not define it as knowing about G-d, as the Rambam would. They define it in terms of having a relationship with G-d; a different kind of knowing altogether. Because intellectual knowledge doesn't motivate decisions, middos and negi'os motivate our choosing to consider something "known".

      But yes, we do not share common postulates about human character. I just have some immature need to get in a last word summarizing my own position. Perhaps now that I admitted to it, you can say your piece without my knee-jerking another trip around the circle.

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  32. I suppose that *tayveh* might be *a* reason (one of very, very many) why some frummies go OTD. While it's certainly possible for some, it isn't for me. I'm 52 & very happily married (to the same wonderful woman for 26+ years, thank God). Just as there are all sorts of variations & shades of what it is we are rejecting/can no longer accept (push), there are also all sorts of variations and shades of what we are drawn to (pull). We are *not* all cut from the same cloth.

    But please let me clear one thing up. For alot of us, I think, it's not that we haven't learned enough or been loved enough, or that we've been bribed, bamboozled or brainwashed. Those who are inclined to think so shouldn't flatter themselves.

    In the first chapter of his book "Faith and Doubt", Rav Norman Lamm writes:

    "...A doubt is spurious if it does not issue from a quest for truth. A genuine doubt must be a question that arises from a quest, not a specious excuse that spares the doubter the need to commit himself. It must be critical not only of the object of its concerns, but of itself as well, lest it be no more than an irresponsible evasion of the need to take a stand...

    ...The emet which cognitive emunah affirms is not given to us for the price of mere assent; it is the prize for which we must engage in a fierce intellectual struggle. Doubt, so conceived, becomes not an impediment, but a goad to reinvestigate and deepen cognitive faith assertions. Out of the agony of a faith which must constantly wrestle with doubt may emerge an emunah of far greater vision, scope, and attainment...This is, of course, a dangerous and risky kind of faith. But, as someone so rightly said, you cannot open your mind to truth without risking the entrance of falsehood; and you cannot close your mind to falsehood without risking the exclusion of truth. The only way to avoid cognitive doubt is to ignore it; worse yet, to abandon the enterprise of cognition, or daat Hashem. The path to the knowledge of God is strewn with the rocks and boulders of doubt; he who would despair of the journey because of the fear of doubt, must resign himself forever from attaining the greatest prize known to man..."

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  33. Shmuel
    David Ohsie:"We don't expect that every single reform or conservative Jew come to Orthodoxy since, as you said, the majority of Jews are not Orthodox.

    This seems to be a tautology. We don't expect them to accept Orthodoxy because they aren't Orthodox. But why not? The answer for most is that they don't buy it."

    David Ohsie you can't buy or not buy what you don't know. It's yet a big deal in their minds to change and they think that their rabbis are just having a difference of interpretation as opposed to going against Jewish Tradition. If they would have the choice of buying or not buying it, their young people in general would have a connection with Israel and Judaism. Instead Israel lands up being more like France or some other thing country at best, a criminal state at worst and their children will be Gentile.

    YA

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  34. Shmuel
    David Ohsie:"We don't expect that every single reform or conservative Jew come to Orthodoxy since, as you said, the majority of Jews are not Orthodox.

    This seems to be a tautology. We don't expect them to accept Orthodoxy because they aren't Orthodox. But why not? The answer for most is that they don't buy it."

    David Ohsie you can't buy or not buy what you don't know. It's yet a big deal in their minds to change and they think that their rabbis are just having a difference of interpretation as opposed to going against Jewish Tradition. If they would have the choice of buying or not buying it, their young people in general would have a connection with Israel and Judaism. Instead Israel lands up being more like France or some other thing country at best, a criminal state at worst and their children will be Gentile.

    YA


    I agree that most non-Orthodox are pretty ignorant of what Orthodoxy is. But I think that if you get at some fundamentals like "Was the Torah handed to Moses on Mt Sinai or developed by people over time?" then they will not give the Orthodox answer.

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  35. Any answer by now is trivial and irrelevant. From too many of them I'm afraid the biggest nachas for us would come from hearing they've still heard of Moses, the Torah or Sinai. It's a different mindset.


    YA

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  37. It is insulting how many people here misunderstand the mind of an OTD because of assumptions they make. Virtually every proof for the divinity of Torah has been thoroughly disproven (mass revelation, continuous mesora, shalit Hashem beolamo, etc.). Then when you are confronted with that, and you have logic (occams razor is not to be understated) people find religion constricting. Yes, when I thought it all made sense I found it all riveting, but when I realized how irrationall it is I could no longer do it. I'm not the only one. I didn't leave because of "fun". But after I no longer found purpose in denying myself the "fun" I indulged. Leaving orthodoxy was painful and difficult. You think it's easy to let your family down? To go from role model to pariah? But at some point I decided I won't let a 3,000 year old lie I don't believe in dictate my life. But if I could CHOOSE to believe it, I'd do it in an instant.
    Shame on you. If you believe it wholeheartedly, good for you. Don't try to put other people down. Believe it or not we are just as intelligent as you, and we are driven by more than just carnal desires.
    As for tayva, the social pressure in the religious community is to be observant. Therefore the community selects for religiosity, so who's to say that ya'll aren't motivated by carnal desires to be religious? And considering that communal support is often offered only to those on the inside the "negios" to stay religious far outweigh the "negios" to leave.
    We live in an age that it is easy to stay in the fold and do the wrong thing, in fact, many do. People don't leave to do those things. They leave because something on the inside is pushing them away. Either understanding the logical flaws or a bad experience. Maybe if Orthodoxy understood that and began addressing the real issue it would do better with keeping people in the fold.

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    1. I hate to argue with someone who aligns with my confirmation bias, but let me ask the following:

      You say: "Maybe if Orthodoxy understood that and began addressing the real issue it would do better with keeping people in the fold." If the problem is as you see it, then what addressing could be done that would make a difference to you.

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    2. Something might have gone wrong with my response.
      My response is that first of all pointing the finger to the wrong place is damaging in its own right. Second of all branding a person will only discourage then from searching out the truth. My experience was that of asking questions anonymously, I was afraid of the stigma. Many people that I've met never bothered because of the stigma . If I was still religious I would find that unacceptable. I find it unacceptable for other reasons, namely that it causes many people a great deal of emotional distress.
      I wish my parents could accept me. But they are stuck in the stigma. They think that their religious son that spent so much time learning and that avoided co-Ed events (and was makpid on negiaa) for as long as they can remember just snapped. They can't comprehend that maybe his dedication to the truth drove him away. When I thought Torah was the truth I was committed to it. My commitment died when I saw the falasy. They think it was my desire to let loose. Because that's what they grew up with as the prime reason. I'm not alone. A thousand times over. My best friend and I went through the same process individually and we were to afraid to tell each other until a while down the road. That is why the stigma bothers me. Not because it pushes people away from God, because I don't believe in him. But because it pushes people away from each other. And the worst part is, that it's in their heads.

      That is only as far people with intellectual problems. As far as people that suffered, there the problem of pointing the finger in the wrong direction is far more obvious. I mean if anyone thinks that telling a kid that his carnal desires are behind his desire to run away from his distress they are severely lacking in the common sense department.

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    3. @Riz: Ms. Margolese, in her book "Off the Derech", wrote that once a teacher of hers started the lesson by saying that he was going to bring all the proofs for G-d's existence. She was of course very excited. But then, by the end of the lecture, she realized that the "proofs" were more like "arguments" that G-d exists, and that there always is a counter-argument. The typical answer is that, if it were so easy to prove the truth of the Torah, or G-d's existence, or any other dogma of Judaism, it wouldn't leave any room for free will anymore. She writes rhetorically: "If G-d granted Man free will, why should we deny it to our children or students?" (I'm paraphrasing--I can always look for the exact quotes in the book.)

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    4. Riz: Now I get your point. Thank you for explaining it.

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  38. On R' Gil Student's blog today:

    http://www.torahmusings.com/2015/08/why-are-young-people-leaving-religion/

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    1. Tangent: Torah Musings is really more of an e-zine than a blog. It has an editorial board of 3, and R Gil is not the author of the majority of its articles.

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    2. Yes, I agree, just using it as a short-hand. I should have pointed out that R' Gil Student is not the author of the piece I linked to.

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  39. Rabbi Slifkin,

    Was this the extent of your conversation with this person, or was there more? I am curious, because I suspect I'm the "talmid" that this person was referring to.

    No, I am not going off because of "tayveh". I am happily married, and will remain happily married, no matter my religious beliefs.

    I read Rabbi Slifkin's books because I was bothered by the age of the universe, and was looking for answers. The book did put things in perspective, but didn't fully answer my questions.

    As an aside, this is how my Rebbi found out I was "going off the derech":

    At the time, my wife was employed by a frum school that lies to the government and steals taxpayer money, and she insisted that she doesn't want to be involved, so they fired her. When I told my "Rebbi" that my wife lost her job because she refused to steal from the government, his reaction was, "But if al pi halacha its mutar, she should have stayed at the job and steal."

    The rest of the conversation went something like this:

    Me: "My wife doesn't want to steal from goyim."
    Him: "There is nothing wrong with it, as Chazal have stated that goyim are animals."
    Me: "Chazal made a mistake."
    Him: "How do you have the chutzpah to think you're smarter than Chazal?"
    Me: "Chazal were clearly wrong with science."
    Him: "You lost your mind. The Vilna Gaon said that every word from Chazal was perfect and kodesh kadashim, etc. Do you think you're smarter?!"
    Me: "See Rabbi Slifkin's essay where he shows Chazal were mistaken regarding science."

    I haven't heard back from him yet......

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    1. Ah, so you're going OTD because you prefer to believe your rebbe teaches Torah than to know that the Torah can't be that immoral and find a new rebbe. Why would you choose that interpretation of the exchange?

      (BTW, he isn't only wrong on Torah, he's wrong on the Vilna Gaon in particular.)

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    2. I am not going "off the derech". My beliefs changed, irrrespective of anything this rebbi said or didn't say. As I stated earlier, I was having questions which led me to Rabbi Slifkin's book.

      Because I believe that Chazal made mistakes, my Rebbi feels that I'm going off the derech, I forgot to mention that during the above conversation, he got so frustrated and blurted out, "You probably have your eyes on a shiksa - that's why you're talking this way."

      I am, and plan on remaining, happily married.

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    3. IMO, the correct response to your Rebbi was "these are not the Talmud's Gentiles". There are many poskim that will tell you today should/must return lost objects etc. When I was younger I thought that I might have gotten an extra week of pay from my corporate employer and I asked whether I had to return it and the answer was "yes" (as it turns out there was no error). I'll chalk it up to youth that I even asked the question.

      Besides the fact that since you are talking about the governmental, this is a question of Dina D'Malchusa which always applied.

      BTW, this is probably what your "rebbi" heard:

      Goyim are just like us.

      Chazal are wrong.

      Chazal were wrong.

      Rabbi Slifkin.

      :)

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    4. Once you realize that Chazal are wrong about something (after all, infallibility is a Catholic doctrine, and a rather recent one), you begin to wonder what else they're wrong about. Once you've climbed over the fence & the snake has bitten you, you can never go back.

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    5. Idk about you, but I've been informed by Rabbis that today "people are more immoral than ever..... People never used to be gay... Or atheists. Oh and people are not going off for intellectual reasons like in Europe. Nobody has questions, just excuses." The modern society demonization rhetoric can't then end logically with "goyim today are better". That would be absurd. As for the meiri in gittin, well don't worry about him. The Baal hatanya as well many other kabalistically inclined authorities tell us otherwise. To quote the Tanya: "the goyim are made from the klipos hatumha and have no good in them at all". In my religious days I gave a shiur on the subject, presenting both sides. And there are two sides, both great in size.

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    6. Riz, this is the problem with having Rabbis who know a lot of Torah (or of one branch), but little else. Maybe the more modern are the more "authentic"?

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    7. Well, I think it /is/ true that while people in the past believed in both morality and ethics, the "live and let live" ethic has grown to the point where current western culture looks down at morality.

      To define terms as I am using them:

      Ethics is a literal take on the law of empathy: That which is hateful to you, do not do to another. (Or whatever other form some tradition pushes -- Christianity's Golden Rule, the law of Karma, etc...)

      Morality includes the idea that people are supposed to be something. That we not only have license to do whatever we want as long as it's not at the expense of others, but that some wants are more noble than others.

      As little in historical terms as 50 years ago, "An ye harm none, do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law" was considered something Alister Crowley would put in a "Satanists Bible" (Book of the Law 1:4).

      But today, anyone who has a moral code to live by is presumed to be judgmental and wronging those who fail to live by it. Just by having the opinion they are "haters", even if they do not actually express any hate or even judgment of people rather than acts.

      This is why LGBT went so rapidly from being ostracized to being acceptable to beic heroic. (As in the lionization of Caitlyn Jenner.)

      The same inability to decide moral right is biting Israel, BTW. Once everybody is supposed to live to their own narrative, without anyone assessing a true vs false or constructive vs destructive narrative, no one has the power to distinguish the Israeli narrative from the PA one. And all that's left is blaming the one who has the power to enforce their narrative, as that imposes on the other. Never mind the other is homicidal, because by their story they are the cornered victims...

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    8. @david I am talking about MO rabbis as well. I experienced the whole spectrum, but mainly MO since HS. There is a demonization of modern society based on a lack of focus on context. Yes, society is less sexually constricting, but that is due to a bechira chofshis approach if you will. There is a great focus on caring about more people. Sadly, many rabbis get caught in a romanticization of the "Alter Hime" and lose sight. It isn't helping them, nor their students. Judaism needs to start confronting sexuality better. The lack of sufficient sex ed is literally dangerous. Most products of the Yeshiva system know very little about STDs, consent, and safe sex. What about those that don't end up waiting for marriage? I'm not exclusively talking about those that leave the fold, but even those that "mess around" and then "straighten out". Homosexuality is a very real part of the modern reality, and yet there is no proper framework for them in the orthodox world. I'm not talking about "fixing" them, I'm talking abut healthy dialogue to protect them from harmful rhetoric and bullying. MO was about accepting modernity, it has become about accepting the modernity of 200 years ago+ internet and TV. I'm not saying: "let's work on a hater for homosexual sex", that is against the Torah. But right now, nothing is being done and that is absolutely woeful.
      @micha western culture doesn't "look down on morality" it just doesn't have an objective one. neither does Judaism. Morality is subject to change. the moral Backbone of Judaism is the Torah; modern society looks to Humanism.

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    9. @Riz: It think that you are going a few steps too far.

      1) On homosexuality, I agree to some degree, but the changes in secular society were quite rapid and religion is conservative so it takes time to catch up. The very left of Orthodoxy has been pretty much on top of this, and the American Orthodox at least has rapidly converged to a position where the former utter contempt disgust that was once the only viewpoint is now viewed negatively.

      2) With regard to sexual mores in general, the move towards great freedom has, IMO, been quite devastating for the lower income segments of society in terms of the number of children raised by single parents (who can't afford to do it and don't have the proper support) as well as STD rates. For the rest, the cost is, in part, birth control via abortion which not ideal. You might or might not be right about the need for some additional education, but is it really true that the orthodox education method currently used results in worse outcomes overall? And if not, then you don't know whether or not your tweaks would make things better or worse, because, lets face it, extreme sheltering does work, albeit imperfectly. This is especially true given that overall high parent involvement in orthodox society: if a parent sees that their child needs more, they can supply it, unlike in the general society where a greater number of parents are simply not equipped to properly educate.

      3) I think that another place where Western society has really started to fall down is on end-of-life issues. The notion that otherwise healthy people can go to doctors and ask to be killed and then actually get what they want rather than being treated for depression is quite horrifying. (I will admit that there are lots of Orthodox who (contrary to halacha) seem to feel that you need to try every useless and pain-extending procedure for people who are truly ill.)

      Anyhow, I think that our experiences are different for a number of reasons. I came from an Orthodox day school, but a Conservative Kosher home, so my I am a "volunteer" and not a "conscript". As such, I'm too naive to think that I need to listen to anything that is simply wrong or immoral said in the name of Torah. Also, I was similarly naive in my desire to explore the things not allowed; even in my one year (12th grade) of public school, I couldn't get into any kind of trouble, even if I wanted to, so I didn't have much to rebel against. Probably the same naivete that leads me to post non-anonymously.

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    10. I wouldn't look at it as a moral degradation of society. It isn't that society is viewing something as evil and disregards it. Rather society's view on sex has evolved and become more accepting. It comes with side effects; such as: rape culture, the rise of pornography, etc. but society is becoming more accepting, not less caring. As for sex Ed, it is directly proportional to decreased STDs and teen pregnancies. Christian opposition to it has caused untold damaged in the U.S. and even more so in Africa. The poor tend to be religious, and it is often religion that prevents them from recieving proper sex Ed. More secular states tend to have better sex Ed and lower rates of STDs and teen pregnancies. That isn't a fault of the evolving view on sex, but on religious opposition to accommodate for it.

      I should have been more clear with my reasons to be upset for the lack of sex Ed in orthodoxy. Kids don't have a choice where they go to school, but they deserve to know how to effectively protect their health. Yes, I think that more problems will begin to show with time. But that is the main thing.

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    11. I wouldn't look at it as a moral degradation of society. It isn't that society is viewing something as evil and disregards it. Rather society's view on sex has evolved and become more accepting.

      I'm making any statements about why it was accepted; I'm just saying that the moral standard is inferior because bad things result, especially to the worst off in society. If I wanted to be more cynical, I would say that people are aiming for a platonic ideal of "liberality" and ignore what affect the standard has on people, since these are people that they don't know and barely come in contact with.

      As for sex Ed, it is directly proportional to decreased STDs and teen pregnancies.

      Assuming that correlation implies some causation here, it doesn't answer the question. The questions is: in the schools where the sheltering method actually has some impact, would this kind of education help done in a mass way. I don't see the evidence for that.

      Put another way, does the average single sex orthodox school have lower or higher rates of pregnancy/STD than the US average (or average controlling for education/income, etc)?

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    12. 1) I guess we'll agree to disagree. Especially considering that the results have more factors to them than the new approach.
      2) When it comes to the social sciences correlation is generally the best we can do.
      3) single sex education is an entirely different discussion.

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  40. Riz:" ... if I could CHOOSE to believe it, I'd do it in an instant."

    Rightly or wrongly people do not share beliefs en mass through its logic just coincidentally making sense to them all. You decided because of whatever pull it had on you to believe in what just happens to be popular secular lay American beliefs and perceptions however accurately or inaccurately it reflects what academics actually say or do. There is every reason on the grand scale to look for causes in people's decisions that are rooted in motivation. It happens after elections or if a business doesn't get enough customers. Advertising couldn't work if there were no principles of how people on the grand scale would react to information. Maybe you happened to be different but on the grand scale it can't be as simple as all these all these people just happened to see the light.

    YA

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    1. Do people believe in the germ theory of disease and heliocentrism because of good advertising?

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    2. To be honest I didn't fully comprehend your comment. If you could explain it in layman's term i will gladly respond.

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    3. YA is asserting that there is no real intellectual component here. It is just cultural belief. So I asked if any of the widely accepted scientific theories are just accepted because of such belief.

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    4. By that logic wouldn't the same be true by emunah?

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    5. Also are you saying that scientific facts are not observable? Or just the historical and scientific contradictions to Torah.
      I was merely saying that I would take the proverbial "blue pill".

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    7. Ritz and David Ohsie, thanks for your replies. I'm not saying scientific facts aren't real or observable. I am saying that once an idea is taught to so many people it becomes a cultural influence. An individual can be intellectual also but there is a cultural pull that may sway him.

      YA

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    8. And I am asking you if the same isn't true for (the unobservable) emunah?

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    9. It's the same for unobservable anything including your (unobservable) reasoning and lack of emunah and your (unobservable) emunah in whatever happens to be believed in your time and place.

      YA

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    10. you keep dodging the question. I am asking you if the Torah is in the same boat, and you won't answer. Perhaps because you are aware that even more than scientific evidence it is believed because of social pressure.
      So why should it be believed (when it makes wrong claims) over science?

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    11. I didn't dodge the question. I said all and that means all. Yes it is in the same boat. Science is just as much believed because of social pressure. Second you are talking as if how people are coming to believe something is the same as establishing the truth of that belief. So according to you the universe needed people to have jobs as scientists in order to have science.

      YA

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    12. 1) science is also believed because it has produced unprecedented results. Mankind's power has increased exponentially since its dedication to science.
      2) the logical progression you made is lacking. I am saying that science has brought enough results to the table to merit trust. Furthermore I have gotten to observe many scientific claims myself.

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    13. I repeat science's truth is a separate discussion from its acceptance by the masses. Its acceptance by the masses can be influenced by varying facts. I am not arguing with you on its merits. I agree with you on them. One difference between you and I seems to be that you feel science had to earn our trust like it is something that is just to be seen a certain percentage of time making correct predictions. By contrast I view science as having to explain natural phenomena. If an individual theory can't explain something by making a correct prediction then it has to be altered or abandoned and a new one made. You seem by contrast to be thinking that science is a set of predictions that a group of scientists make and if their predictions hold up that proves that science works. By definition science works because you alter predictions until they fit what you see. Also scientists come up with models that explain and predict data. Merely noting data anyone can do and is not science without linking it with a theory or the hope of one to explain it.

      If the majority of doctors say something and your doctor says something else who would you go according to? If the majority of scientists say something but not others who would you go according to? The answer you give will show your model of how science works.

      YA

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    14. Science is NOT a set of predictions. It is a method of studying and observing. This analysis could, at times, lead to predictions. However, it is imperative that we understand that at its core science is about observation and analysis.

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    15. Observation is simply a prediction that didn't have to be made because it happened to have been observed. If a scientific theory cannot predict either phenomena observed or phenomena not yet observed it is not a scientific theory. Science is not a set of predictions. Science is a method of predicting. The scientific method is: 1. Study phenomena. 2. Come up with a hypothesis that would explain what was observed. 3. Test the hypothesis by testing its predictions against any observations that we encounter.

      YA

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    16. Actually, one could argue the reverse: Science is a collection of not-yet-disproven predictions. You observe, form a hypothesis, and then test its predictions. If we fail to disprove the hypothesis enough times, we call it a theory, and then -- a law. This is true to the extent that any hypothesis that fails to produce predictions that can be tested isn't considered scientific.

      That is "the scientific method", and I think YA described it quite well.

      And the truth is, as Karl Popper noted (Wikipedia coverage here), nothing positive is ever entirely proven, the scientific method rules out what cannot be. Which is why theories are repeatedly being replaced by ones that make more precise predictions. Even Newton's Law of Gravity, accepted to be more than just theory, was found to be an approximation that in the long run was ruled out by experiment. And replaced with a hypothesis with a very different explanation, but only slightly different in most outcomes -- General Relativity.

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    17. "What, then, are the philosophic influences of the theory of relativity? If we limit ourselves to influences in the sense of what kind of new ideas and suggestions are made to the physicist by the principle of relativity, we could describe some of them as follows. The first discovery is, essentially, that even those ideas which have been held for a very long time and which have been very accurately verified might be wrong. It was a shocking discovery, of course, that Newton’s laws are wrong, after all the years in which they seemed to be accurate. Of course it is clear, not that the experiments were wrong, but that they were done over only a limited range of velocities, so small that the relativistic effects would not have been evident. But nevertheless, we now have a much more humble point of view of our physical laws—everything can be wrong!"

      Feynman Lectures on Physics

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    18. Science is not staring at data and recording it. Any idiot does that everyday. Science is also not simply trying to predict the future behavior of matter and energy. Science is about experimenting to learn what the universe is like assuming the scientific method is accepted apriori. The scientific method is the method of science, not the point of science.

      YA

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    19. What I meant was that science is anchored by observation. Scientists don't just say "We think X will happen"; they say that only after findings indicate that X should happen.

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    20. But science doesn't just say X will happen. Science says X happens because of Y. The point of science is to posit something. Something gives a clue. But the fact is you have to believe their is something for the observation to be telling us. We are trying to make a model. For instance the theory of relativity posits spacetime but we could counter we don't see spacetime. We see space and time as separate things. Multiverse theory posits other universes but we don't see them. We could always argue that all we have are observations.

      Here atheism shows one of its weaknesses. Science says the universe looks like it was set up to be existing on an incredible balance of forces too coincidental to be coincidental. So theories are made trying to explain it all away with a multiverse. If you say how about having an intelligence behind it all instead? or who created the multiverse if there is one? all of a sudden the answer is well why not just say the universe or the multiverse is just there. Why does the universe need a multiverse that is just there with all of its very complicated processes but not just having an intelligence that is just there which would be the simpler hypothesis, Occam's razor thus being used? All of sudden the answer is it needs something to create that intelligence. Why especially since it would collapse the wave function of the universe and any multiverse endowing them with reality after their previous status as waves of probability in Quantum theory? And why does the universe not need an explanation for its origin only when an intelligence seems like the answer. Why stop there then? Why not just say anything just happens?

      These are all just examples of how science doesn't just record data but uses it to posit ideas which we can accept or not based on our views of reality. There is also the fact that science can introduce questions that it by definition may not even in theory be able to be used to answer them.

      In other words the question may be scientific to ask but no scientific method even in theory may be available to answer it. For instance if we travel through time do we create a new timeline or not. There may be no way even in theory to answer the question scientifically but you've either altered history or not, so there is an answer. The very positing of the multiverse raises questions posed by scientists as to whether it is scientific to posit it at all. It would certainly possibly make much if not all of science quite meaningless if as it is being posited as a supposed answer for the origin of the universe, that you have bunch of universes that have arbitrary values and ours just happens to by the laws of probability be just right. As pointed out by scientists we would be reduced to using probability to tell us how our universe aught to be a universe with certain properties. The problem is all those other universes would also exist with other properties so how do we posit which universe we are in, in a case in which we could be in either? If someone would be in that universe why wouldn't that one be entitled to come up with the properties of his universe also based on the probability of so many universes? But if every universe one could find oneself in is like that then we are back to square one not being able to explain our universe's properties being so exact.

      YA

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    21. 1) science does indeed make predictions, but they are based off of observations. That was my point.
      2) because then you need to explain where the creator came from.
      3) the multiverse is far from a standard accepted theory. It is currently something that is out there. It is far from inductive of all atheists. I personally prefer the singularity model being that it is based on a phenomenon found in black holes.
      4) as far as talking about advanced physics this isn't the forum.
      5) if it is a debate you want I warn you that it won't be productive. I went to great lengths to try to maintain my belief in God. I spoke with a rabbi from aish. Read countless defense articles, and watched/listened to many hours of shiurim. I highly doubt that you will bring me some new proof I've never seen.

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    22. "1) science does indeed make predictions, but they are based off of observations. That was my point."

      Yes.

      Ritz:"2) because then you need to explain where the creator came from."

      But Ritz you would than have to explain where anything came from. At a certain point you have to stop. What do you think Hashem is some man in the sky? What Hashem is is reality devoid of anything external. That's what you would get in any explanation, a reality with certain properties that just are there. You're taking an argument from exChristians and talking as if it is a brilliant argument against Judaism.

      "3) the multiverse is far from a standard accepted theory. It is currently something that is out there. It is far from inductive of all atheists. I personally prefer the singularity model being that it is based on a phenomenon found in black holes."

      Because the multiverse theory hasn't been able to be established as the answer is precisely the problem! It's being advanced to address a problem that the singularity theory introduces as one part of the problem, a universe that starts with values too coincidental to be coincidental and yet are needed to not have the universe at least quite instantly be destroyed after its creation. The problem is there and you act as if the lack of acceptance of the theory means the problem it was set up to address is now solved. You're embracing the problem theory as the answer to the problem!

      A real singularity as the origin of the universe in accordance with Relativity Theory is not the standard accepted theory because of Quantum Mechanics. The problem is both theories appear to be true to physicists but one of them has to be just approximately true as they contradict one another. The problem to be addressed for our argument is that that means you still have close to a singularity to work with.

      "4) as far as talking about advanced physics this isn't the forum."

      Whatever challenges your statements or supports them is proper for the forum.

      "5) if it is a debate you want I warn you that it won't be productive. I went to great lengths to try to maintain my belief in God. I spoke with a rabbi from aish. Read countless defense articles, and watched/listened to many hours of shiurim. I highly doubt that you will bring me some new proof I've never seen."

      Totally unimpresses me and leaves me totally unconvinced by your bluster and on the contrary you have made me feel just the opposite would be the case.You gave me weak responses that leave my challenges, challenges.

      In particular #2 is just repeating what I was attacking and not answering my attack. It seems that you don't have faith because you naively believe whatever the other side says because they look impressive to you but without you actually challenging them. All you did so far is just repeat whatever one side says. You saying the multiverse theory is far from standard accepted theory which I already knew, doesn't address the problems it is being used to try to solve. You still haven't answered even the questions I put to you on an earlier comment whereas as I have addressed everyone one of your challenges. I am willing and able to have a debate with you. I am not convinced you are. Prove me wrong.

      YA

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    23. 1. Ad hominem, really?
      2. At the end of the day there are models for an always existing universe before the Big Bang. The singularity is one of them. Kraus has another model. The multiverse theory is not something I'm well versed in. In all honesty I doubt that you are as well. I find it unconvincing to claim an exception for God. However, I'll humor you and accept your "God of the gaps/holes" argument for God. Since my problem was never about accepting the imaginary friend. My problems were more about the lack of proof for Judaism, inconsistencies, and obvious misinformation spread by chazal to further an agenda.
      3. It isn't the forum since most, if not all, of us aren't advanced physicsists. I am, personally, unqualified for such a discussion. But once again that wasn't the part that was difficult for me with Judaism. Which for all of its extraordinary claims hasn't even the slightest of proof. Then there is the matter of obvious contradiction, editing of tanach, historical mistakes and fallacies by chazal, etc.. my belief in Judaism wasn't damaged by beginning of the universe questions. Do look above where I actually addressed that. So even if I was to accept that there is a God (and I don't), I wouldn't accept that as a proof for Judaism.

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    24. Part 1

      RizAugust

      "1. Ad hominem, really?" Really.

      "2. At the end of the day there are models for an always existing universe before the Big Bang. The singularity is one of them."

      A singularity implies a universe that started in a big bang with no time or space in existence before ie. the universe would not have always existed.

      "Kraus has another model."

      Krauss has no special model. He just says there can be a multiverse and the fact that nothing is something makes him say therefore we can't ask how something can come from nothing which is just a counter philosophy not science. He's just being polemical and apologetic.

      "The multiverse theory is not something I'm well versed in. In all honesty I doubt that you are as well"

      Wrong.

      "I find it unconvincing to claim an exception for God. However, I'll humor you and accept your "God of the gaps/holes" argument for God."

      I had made no such argument or God of the gaps argument. God is not an exception and you could know that if you weren't naively believing a bunch of ignorant people arguing philosophy with just as much background as any old layman. If they reject nonempirical talk they shouldn't make their arguments. They are from a Christian background. You are from a Jewish background. Isn't your background to believe in a God who is simply reality devoid of anything that was created? You are willing to believe that the universe or a multiverse has certain properties that just were there and yet when the nothing that was there is given certain properties that we then call God all of a sudden you speak of the God of the gaps. You are the one fitting in gaps every time you are cornered. My God is the controller of everything as you should know with a Jewish background. Whereas a God of the gaps is where control is narrowed for him. You say you would humor but I've been humoring you. Also I land up repeating to you answers.


      YA

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    25. Part 2

      Riz

      "My problems were more about the lack of proof for Judaism, inconsistencies, and obvious misinformation spread by chazal to further an agenda...But once again that wasn't the part that was difficult for me with Judaism. Which for all of its extraordinary claims hasn't even the slightest of proof. Which for all of its extraordinary claims hasn't even the slightest of proof. Then there is the matter of obvious contradiction, editing of tanach, historical mistakes and fallacies by chazal, etc.. my belief in Judaism wasn't damaged by beginning of the universe questions. Do look above where I actually addressed that. So even if I was to accept that there is a God (and I don't), I wouldn't accept that as a proof for Judaism.."

      First of all how can it be that if Judaism says there is a God and you supposedly could not be convinced then that was not a difficult part for you? Second according to you we should believe that the Jews passed down nothing of their history until centuries later whereas other peoples did of their own history, based on old has-been theories meant to show Christianity as the top of the evolutionary chain. Archaeologists constantly have been digging up things that the Bible said much to the chagrin of the revisionists. You would naively believe negative assertions which anyone can make. Supposedly the Israelites did not have a powerful kingdom and supposedly no Davidic dynasty and then archaeology shows otherwise leaving the revisionists squirming. Words in the Torah have been found in Ancient Egyptian. The laws of the Jews have been out of time and place. Joseph's price as a slave is accurate for his time and place. The Jews have been scattered around the world and have influenced the whole world. Any religion arguing that there is an absolute reality that causes there to be one truth rather than multiple truths got it from Judaism. Traditionally each people's religion was considered a real faith for that people to follow. In all this you just blithely repeat with Atheists who have no background in philosophy, logic or history, just made up statements that anyone can make. It's just apologetics a word they're afraid of. I haven't learned from you any argument I haven't already already encountered. The problem for you is your side leaves you totally unprepared for arguments with our side. It just makes straw men of our side and hopes you will not encounter the real arguments of ours. You though naively thought that your side is really as confident as they presented themselves to you to be. In reality they are as out of their element as you. It's the weak and fearful leading the weak and fearful. Their arrogance is meant to stifle debate because otherwise doubt will be entertained because of their obvious contradictions, historical mistakes and fallacies, inconsistencies, and obvious misinformation to further an agenda etc.

      "It isn't the forum since most, if not all, of us aren't advanced physicsists. I am, personally, unqualified for such a discussion."

      This is precisely the forum for this discussion. You bring things up. I reply.

      YA

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    26. An app crash (twice) is the reason for my late response.
      Your response was awfully long so do forgive me if my response is out of order.
      1. I would expect the argument (as futile as it may be) to be done civilly. If you continue to resort to ad hominem I will not respond. Either we're adults or we're children, it can't go both ways. So if you disrespect my intelligence by presenting ad hominem as an argument I'm simply going to dismiss you.
      2. Hawkins, the man that came up with the singularity model explained it otherwise. So I'll take his word over yours as to what the model suggests.
      3. Again, even if that did prove there was a God it wouldn't prove any religion.
      4. Kraus does have a model- and it's based on particles coming in and out of existence.
      5. It's "God of the gaps" since your claim is "since you don't know X it must be God" as opposed to "since X is observed then God"
      6. Your claim that Judaism has a concerte idea of God is ridiculous. The Raavad argues very strongly against the Rambams claim that saying God has no physical shape is heresy since "many greater than he" felt that he was.
      7. Also what is your backing to that? And how does that avoid the problem? How would that not still lead to the question of what created God? Why does God get the pass for the question you ask on the universe? Since at the moment science only has theoretical models, but nothing concerte, we can't claim to know what was before the Big Bang. But it is evident that there was a before since the Big Bang happened and that is what happened 13.7 billion years ago. But there is nothing to suggest that that state didn't exist eternally.
      8. You may answer the questions above but I'm not going to respond on this topic as it has exhausted itself, but more importantly it just doesn't matter. Those questions didn't bother me. Like I said earlier my belief in God only fell apart AFTER my faith in Torah. I don't feel that beginning of the universe discussion challenges/prove God. They add nothing to the discussion. When I was religious I believed in God by virtue of believing that he contacted mankind. Only once I no longer believed in that did I stop believing in God.

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    27. Part 2
      9. I never said that the Jews didn't pass down their history, just that they did so without great accuracy and while mixing legend. Like most ancient people.
      10. There are direct historical/archeological contradictions to tanach/chazal. It's more evident by chazal/later biblical books being that more of that history was preserved.
      11. Those finding do not lead to any logical progression that ends with "therefore all of tanach, and more importantly it's direct and accurate tradition is true" it only means that those aspects were true. The divinity of Torah would require proof to the time that prophecies were made, but more importantly proof of the giving of the Torah in mount Sinai/exodus both of which were, despite great efforts yield no evidence despite the extraordinary events they describe. For Rabbinic Jews it would also help if Torah shbeal pe could be documented backwards. Conveniently, it can't. Not to mention how the numbers don't work out. Noach, etc. etc..
      12. I love when religious Jews talk about Jewish influence despite it being done by, predominantly, irreligious Jews that often couldn't care less about religion.
      13. You say that I haven't said anything you haven't heard before, yet the same is true for all of your claims.
      14. Once again you resort to ad hominem, ironically after calling "my side" for ad hominem and straw men. The shoemaker walks barefoot indeed.
      15. I still think this isn't the forum for a discussion in advanced physics. It's disingenuous to claim that I brought physics into the discussion when you did, I only mentioned it in passing during a response.
      16. I noticed that I left one of your earlier arguments unaccounted for. You claimed that using Occam's Razor one should arrive at the "simple" conclusion that God created the universe. First of all if it was indeed a simpler solution, only the part about an intelligent God would be a simpler solution, the point about him being the God of Judaism would not be. Second of all a being even more ancient and complex than the universe (infinitely so!) could not be considered a simple solution. Why that claim is a... "leap of faith"!

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    28. I am going to reply but one thing. I wasn't being Ad Hominem. I was making observations. These observations were not my arguments against your theses or even against you personally. I was however responding to your tone. You were very condescending and and dismissive. Be patient and I will answer everyone of your points in the afternoon when I have a little time to kill.
      YA

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    29. I'll accept that it wasn't you intent, but I will protest that it was I who was being disrespectful.

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    30. Part 1

      Riz:

      "2. Hawkins, the man that came up with the singularity model explained it otherwise. So I'll take his word over yours as to what the model suggests."

      On the contrary. He said flat out that it means a beginning in time. He came up with a different model against a singularity for the universe. Besides scientists say the universe had a beginning in time. They are just trying to explain it.

      "3. Again, even if that did prove there was a God it wouldn't prove any religion."

      Of course not.

      "4. Kraus does have a model- and it's based on particles coming in and out of existence. "

      That's not a model of the universe's origins. He's just claiming that if particle's come out of a vacuum and we call it nothing so the universe being something can come out of nothing. Which is just him redefining the word nothing to mean something. He doesn't have a physics model explaining the universe's origins. He's just arguing at best philosophy.

      "5. It's "God of the gaps" since your claim is "since you don't know X it must be God" as opposed to "since X is observed then God""

      On the contrary I do not say since you don't know X it must be God. I say since X is observed then God. I don't say where science or any other explanation is, God isn't. God runs it all.

      YA

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    31. Part 2

      Riz:

      "6. Your claim that Judaism has a concerte idea of God is ridiculous. The Raavad argues very strongly against the Rambams claim that saying God has no physical shape is heresy since "many greater than he" felt that he was."

      The Raavad did not believe God has a body. He only said it wasn't heresy. Further allowing for a belief to be believed is not the same as the religion saying that this is the belief that has to be believed.

      "7. Also what is your backing to that? And how does that avoid the problem? How would that not still lead to the question of what created God? Why does God get the pass for the question you ask on the universe?"

      Hold it below you say the universe could have existed eternally with nothing before it and yet God needs something before him? Second I answered your question. The universe everyone says needs an explanation for its origin. There has to have been some reality that existed by definition without having to be created. If you eliminate everything what you have left is ultimate reality. This ultimate reality if it is to be a reality has to have some properties by definition or else you lack anything including an original reality. God is according to the noncorporealistic rabbis what you have when you eliminate everything. In other words as I was trying to say God is not some being somewhere. God is reality minus anything he created. You are picturing instead a God who existed with something else probably a space. If God created everything he had to have existed without a space. He was alone. It wasn't him existing in a reality. He was reality. Why according to you does the universe get a pass that it could have always existed while you demand an explanation for everything else's existence?

      "? Since at the moment science only has theoretical models, but nothing concerte, we can't claim to know what was before the Big Bang. But it is evident that there was a before since the Big Bang happened and that is what happened 13.7 billion years ago. But there is nothing to suggest that that state didn't exist eternally."

      Standard physics on the contrary says there was no "before" the big bang. Space and time started at the big bang according to the standard model. Some are trying to have a different theory but it is not orthodox physics. According to Judaism there was no before God created anything. When does "before" begin in an eternal past? Instead God created time. We use human language and say God existed before he created anything. In reality there was no before or after until God created them.

      "8. You may answer the questions above but I'm not going to respond on this topic as it has exhausted itself, but more importantly it just doesn't matter. Those questions didn't bother me. Like I said earlier my belief in God only fell apart AFTER my faith in Torah. I don't feel that beginning of the universe discussion challenges/prove God. They add nothing to the discussion. When I was religious I believed in God by virtue of believing that he contacted mankind. Only once I no longer believed in that did I stop believing in God."

      But if what you said adds nothing to the discussion indeed adds nothing to it either to challenge or prove God then you have contradicted yourself. You gave me the above challenges and now you say they are not even challenges.

      "9. I never said that the Jews didn't pass down their history, just that they did so without great accuracy and while mixing legend. Like most ancient people.

      10. There are direct historical/archeological contradictions to tanach/chazal. It's more evident by chazal/later biblical books being that more of that history was preserved."

      I said you are relying on people who say Jews did not pass down their history until later. You are relying on them for what you say.

      YA

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    32. Part 3

      Riz:

      "11. Those finding do not lead to any logical progression that ends with "therefore all of tanach, and more importantly it's direct and accurate tradition is true" it only means that those aspects were true. The divinity of Torah would require proof to the time that prophecies were made, but more importantly proof of the giving of the Torah in mount Sinai/exodus both of which were, despite great efforts yield no evidence despite the extraordinary events they describe. For Rabbinic Jews it would also help if Torah shbeal pe could be documented backwards. Conveniently, it can't. Not to mention how the numbers don't work out. Noach, etc. etc.."

      I said "Words in the Torah have been found in Ancient Egyptian. The laws of the Jews have been out of time and place. Joseph's price as a slave is accurate for his time and place." The Prophets said you know you were in Egypt and that you were taken to Sinai. It's in the Psalms, in the Prophets. It's all over the place. As for Torah She BeAl Peh the fact is unless there was one then you can't explain why the Torah was never observed in the Tanach according to a strictly literal interpretation. On the contrary a newly made up Torah should have been presented in the Tanach according to a strictly literal interpretation if it is just made up with no time to evolve. There are interpretations on Tanach but you insist on a literalism.

      "12. I love when religious Jews talk about Jewish influence despite it being done by, predominantly, irreligious Jews that often couldn't care less about religion."

      That statement makes no logical sense. Religious Jews show more Jewish influence than anyone else. As only an influence by definition it has to be by people who are not religious and more importantly I was referring to the influence on NonJews.

      "13. You say that I haven't said anything you haven't heard before, yet the same is true for all of your claims."

      Then you should have addressed answers to my questions that would have preempted me from presenting them.

      "14. Once again you resort to ad hominem, ironically after calling "my side" for ad hominem and straw men. The shoemaker walks barefoot indeed."

      No you were constantly putting down my side's intelligence. Besides I was pointing out what I feel is fact and not calling you stupid or something. You wrote:"Your claim that Judaism has a concerte idea of God is ridiculous." Well if you can talk like that without expecting me to take iot personally why can't I?

      YA
      "15. I still think this isn't the forum for a discussion in advanced physics. It's disingenuous to claim that I brought physics into the discussion when you did, I only mentioned it in passing during a response."

      I don't remember but I disagree that it's not the forum for it.

      YA

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    33. Last Part

      Riz:


      "16. I noticed that I left one of your earlier arguments unaccounted for. You claimed that using Occam's Razor one should arrive at the "simple" conclusion that God created the universe. First of all if it was indeed a simpler solution, only the part about an intelligent God would be a simpler solution, the point about him being the God of Judaism would not be."

      Well the simplest solution is to have no expalnation for anything except to say things just happen with no cause. Occams razor is not meant to pick the simplest statement but rather to say that we should take the simplest explanation that can explain something.

      "Second of all a being even more ancient and complex than the universe (infinitely so!) could not be considered a simple solution. Why that claim is a... "leap of faith"!"

      Oh a whole multiverse as a solution is fine and doesn't need to be a simple solution but God does? Second God is the most simple of antyhthing. Think of a law of nature described by a single equation. Complexitity exists in descringing the law only in the sense that we are having to go beyond our experience. If what gives rise to complexity has to be morecomplicated than what it explaimns how do we explain anything? We see depth as we explore but we see the underlying simplicity. Richard Dawkins in making argument #16's second arguement was demonstrating his lak of phiolfsophivcal and logical training. Besides if he claims to onlt accept science and not philosophy then let him stick yto statements that can be verified by scientific experiments.

      YA

      Delete
    34. 1. I know I said I wouldn't respond, but I'm not perfect.
      2. Hawking, judging by his self narrated documentary biography, explained it as a state in which the universe existed before time. The singularity therefore preceded time.
      3. Kraus, from my understanding, explains that matter can come out of a matter-less vacuum. You want to argue that that's not "nothing"? That's fine. I'd even agree with you.
      4. I'm glad that we agree that that proves nothing to the truthfulness of any one religion. I absolutely hated it when people attempted to use that as proof. While I'm praising you, let me note that you didn't use the dreaded Pascal's wager.
      5. I must disagree. Your argument is that the universe prior to the Big Bang needs a beginning (something I do not know to be true), and that that beginning is an intellectual reality devoid of creation which you call God. There is an extra step you are taking. What is observed is "universe as we know it had a beginning", what you conclude is "God". That isn't a natural logical progression and it is entirely based on the lack of any other explanation.
      6. My point with the Raavad was that he speaks of other Rishonim who held that God IS physical.
      7. I apologize if my language was strong, and at the time of writing I did think if I should publish it. But at the end I thought it was clear that I meant only the content of the claim, not the one making the claim.
      8. My point was that if you can say that God is eternal, why can't the same be true for the pre-big bang universe? Why can God be eternal but not the universe?
      8. My point is I didn't believe in God because of beginning of the universe questions, nor do I disbelieve in him now because of them. None of my points about the beginning of the universe contradict God. None of your points convince me. It's a fun discussion, but it doesn't challenge either position greatly.

      Delete
    35. I keep writing responses to have them messed up by accidentally swiping right/left. So frustrating. So since the first part of my response has already been sent to moderation I don't know where I left off. I'm so frustrated right now. I think I left off after the physics part. So I'll continue from there at what I think was point 9

      Delete
    36. 9. I am not knocking out chazal because historians/bible scholars/archeologists say so. It's just that they offered a more plausible explanation of history than chazal/Torah did. The questions that arise against Torah/chazal are too great to ignore.
      10. But the Torah was given after the exodus...... Wouldn't that be, if anything, a proof that the Torah is a collection of traditions that evolved and combined over time to become Torah? Even if it didn't, how does this prove the extraordinary claims of the Exodus (not to mention the midrashim concerning it)?
      11. "The Torah needs a non literal interpretation" does not lead to "therefore Torah shebeal pe is accurate". As a matter of fact there were alternative external traditions (tzdukim, Essenes, etc.). Who's to say they weren't most accurate? Additionally, the Torah shows signs of editing/evolving. We simply don't know what other instructions were there. But even if we did it wouldn't prove the Rabbinic tradition.
      12. My point was that most of the success/influence that the Jewish people had on the world was through secular Jews (that was meant as a counter to "the Jews have been scattered around the whole world and have influenced the whole world").
      13. I was merely pointing out that we are both making points that are well known. Neither one of us had used something new here. אין חדש תחת השמש.
      14. I was referring to the end of your 2nd post responding to my 3 point post earlier. Specifically the part from "in all of this.... Further an agenda etc.". You can't fault me for responding, especially since I have been much kinder than you in my expressions than you have towards me.
      15. I maintain that it isn't the forum since it isn't really the area of expertise for most of us. Most of us know pop science/ bare bones science when it comes to physics. It's a mockery for me to pretend that I fully understand it.
      16. I never used the multiverse! By using Occam's razor I went from saying "I don't know if there is a God since I no longer believe in the Torah" to "I highly doubt that there is a god since there isn't anything pointing in that direction". I wasn't choosing between "God" and "multiverse".
      17. I didn't get the point from Dawkins. I was unaware that he even made it.
      18. But again, my point was that "God" isn't the simplest of solutions since he himself would be highly complex.

      Delete
    37. Riz I apologize if I was too harsh with you. I will respond but I am going to have to do this at a more leisurely time and perhaps divide this up more.

      YA

      Delete
    38. I'm sorry for the two point 8's and the subsequent misnumbering that resulted.
      I'd like to point that point 11 refers to the Ancient Egyptian Torah that you spoke of.

      Delete
    39. Sorry if I was too harsh. I'll get back to you.
      YA

      Delete
    40. Riz:
      "1. I know I said I wouldn't respond, but I'm not perfect."
      Neither am I. Sorry if I was too harsh.
      " 2. Hawking, judging by his self narrated documentary biography, explained it as a state in which the universe existed before time. The singularity therefore preceded time."
      Actually what he had shown was that if all you have is the Theory of Relativity then you have a singularity, what he himself said was a beginning in time for the universe. By definition the universe can not have existed before time you can't have something existing before something else without time defining it as having existed before. We can loosely talk of things outside the universe as existing before time because we can mean they're state of existence was built into the reality at the outset. Similarly we can say at first the universe was in a state of singularity and then afterwards exploded starting off time. We can talk loosely this way as we are just describing what the universe looked like at time 0. Similarly God had no time he began so there was no before and after for him but we can loosely say that he existed before the universe and really just mean he was outside of time.
      "3. Kraus, from my understanding, explains that matter can come out of a matter-less vacuum. You want to argue that that's not "nothing"? That's fine. I'd even agree with you."
      Then we disagree with Krauss.
      "5. I must disagree. Your argument is that the universe prior to the Big Bang needs a beginning (something I do not know to be true), and that that beginning is an intellectual reality devoid of creation which you call God. There is an extra step you are taking. What is observed is "universe as we know it had a beginning", what you conclude is "God". That isn't a natural logical progression and it is entirely based on the lack of any other explanation."
      Any explanation is going to be an extra step unless you say the universe just is. I was leaving out why the beginning has an intellectual reality. Really however it is a simplification to talk that way. The beginning reality is above all categories. It's not just how something can come from nothing. It's what is something or nothing? What is an I and what is a you? What is existence and what is nonexistence? What is the nature of reality?
      "6. My point with the Raavad was that he speaks of other Rishonim who held that God IS physical."
      That doesn't affect the truth of Judaism to allow room for such a belief.
      " 7. I apologize if my language was strong, and at the time of writing I did think if I should publish it. But at the end I thought it was clear that I meant only the content of the claim, not the one making the claim."
      Yes. I guess I was just annoyed. I forgive.
      "8. My point was that if you can say that God is eternal, why can't the same be true for the pre-big bang universe? Why can God be eternal but not the universe?"
      Why stop then there if the prebig bang universe requires no explanation, no universe does, nor does anything. Science looks for causes. God can be eternal if he is the precreation state of reality. There has to be some ultimate state. Second again God is not posited by Judaism to be eternal in the past in the sense of existing in an eternally uncreated past. He would be rather above time and we would be using human language in saying he is eternal from the past.
      " 8. My point is I didn't believe in God because of beginning of the universe questions, nor do I disbelieve in him now because of them. None of my points about the beginning of the universe contradict God. None of your points convince me. It's a fun discussion, but it doesn't challenge either position greatly."
      I fail to see why they shouldn't be challenges to you. They are propositions either true or not and you have to explain how they should not affect the question of God's existence one way or another.

      Delete
    41. Part 2
      Riz:
      "9. I am not knocking out chazal because historians/bible scholars/archeologists say so. It's just that they offered a more plausible explanation of history than chazal/Torah did. The questions that arise against Torah/chazal are too great to ignore."
      You can reconcile if you want. It's not like the other side just sees the truth coming at them. They try to interpret according to their theories even if they are forced to believe in things that seem to contradict data. There are problems in both camps. The Torah at least has the plausibility that comes from having been believed. By contrast the Bible critics come up with theories no one has seen before and find the Bible plausible when they can setup there revisionist theories from it but to take its word otherwise it argues "how can you believe it?" The same applies to the revisionist historians and archaeologists.
      "10. But the Torah was given after the exodus...... Wouldn't that be, if anything, a proof that the Torah is a collection of traditions that evolved and combined over time to become Torah?"
      The Torah was given shortly after the Exodus and it doesn't fit as an anachronism from centuries later. Also how do you explain the Egyptianisms in the Torah?
      "Even if it didn't, how does this prove the extraordinary claims of the Exodus (not to mention the midrashim concerning it)?"
      You can reconcile if you want. The other side does it no matter how stretched it looks.
      "11. "The Torah needs a non literal interpretation" does not lead to "therefore Torah shebeal pe is accurate". As a matter of fact there were alternative external traditions (tzdukim, Essenes, etc.). Who's to say they weren't most accurate? Additionally, the Torah shows signs of editing/evolving. We simply don't know what other instructions were there. But even if we did it wouldn't prove the Rabbinic tradition."
      Look you have to pick a worldview. Richard Dawkins' worldview is essentially really nonrationalistic. He claims that anything extraordinary or miraculous could be but he assigns a low probability to it. Essentially he ups the existential status of the tooth fairy. By contrast I take a stand believing in a rational universe that can include the miraculous. On an ultimate level everything looks miraculous and everything is natural, a matter of law.

      Delete
    42. Part 3

      Riz:

      "12. My point was that most of the success/influence that the Jewish people had on the world was through secular Jews (that was meant as a counter to "the Jews have been scattered around the whole world and have influenced the whole world")."
      Most of it was not through secular Jews. Second if not for the Jewish religion's attitude towards learning and critical thinking the secular Jews would not be having that success and influence. The Jewish influence and success in the world was always far in proportion to their numbers. It always required an explanation.
      "14. I was referring to the end of your 2nd post responding to my 3 point post earlier. Specifically the part from "in all of this.... Further an agenda etc.". You can't fault me for responding, especially since I have been much kinder than you in my expressions than you have towards me."
      I really have not been attacking you rather your positions and the basis of how you arrive at them. If there had been an air of mutual willingness to see an argument not to simply be dismissed out of hand I would have written with the present tone.
      "15. I maintain that it isn't the forum since it isn't really the area of expertise for most of us. Most of us know pop science/ bare bones science when it comes to physics. It's a mockery for me to pretend that I fully understand it."
      Understood but it is my strength and if I can prove things on my side from it I choose to do so.
      "16. I never used the multiverse! By using Occam's razor I went from saying "I don't know if there is a God since I no longer believe in the Torah" to "I highly doubt that there is a god since there isn't anything pointing in that direction". I wasn't choosing between "God" and "multiverse"."
      I wasn't saying you were. You have to understand though that the reason why the multiverse is explored is precisely because things are too fined tuned to be coincidental. Unfortunately the multiverse used as a statistical explanation in which our universe's properties just happen to be right after so many universe's so far is projected to produce a universe whose properties would be explained on the basis of so many universe's having popped up but could possibly be wrong as we could be in a statistically improbable universe instead. It would be one of the other universes meant to explain our own. In other words we could be left with little science in the sense of proving anything.
      "17. I didn't get the point from Dawkins. I was unaware that he even made it.
      18. But again, my point was that "God" isn't the simplest of solutions since he himself would be highly complex."
      No he wouldn't be. Any ultimate reality is going to be superficially looking complicated but really represents ultimate simplicity reality as it really is. Think of how the laws of nature are simple really but seem complicated. Out of that simplicity comes everything in the universe. Dawkins fails to remember that out of simplicity comes complication and makes the statement that that God would have to be having all the complication of what he creates and thus would require an explanation for his origin. He is hardly a logician or philosopher and there are no experiments for him to prove his argument about God.
      YA

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    43. First of all I shall apologize if I had at any point offended you.
      1. Once again, I'll try to stick to the order, but I might not always be completely synchronized.
      2. Beginning of the universe problems don't challenge/prove anything as far as I'm concerned reguarding any specific religion. Whether there is a God or not isn't something really provable/not provable. At the end of the day we have to result to talking "logically it shows that....". No empirical data to go by.
      3. I'm not really a Dawkins Chassid. I like the way he explains evolution. He really illustrates it very well. I enjoyed watching Christopher Hitchens, but he never convinced me one way or another. To accept/reject religion based on these kind of debates is for the truly superficial. It's almost like "coming back" because of an Aish speech.

      Delete
    44. 4. I'm not a Kraus chassid either. I was merely pointing out that there are many theories out there being that we know so little. It is really a mark of our great ignorance.
      5. My point with the raavad was that it isn't a hallmark claim of Judaism (nor then my upbringing).
      6. However way you want to slice it; a self aware, creative, intentional, and personal God isn't what I'd consider a "simple" explaination. Regarding your point about simplicity baring complexity, that is usually a claim against God. Our universe may be finely tuned and ordered, but that wasn't a master designer of infinite conplexity, but perhaps simple mindless nature.
      7. When I say it isn't the forum for physics, I mean that we aren't actually talking about the science behind them. Both of us, to this point, merely spoke about the theories without talking about the math/science behind them. This has been a very shallow discussion scientifically speaking.

      Delete
    45. My response was lost again. So I'm unsure of where I was. I'll continue when my responses post.
      Shabbat Shalom!

      Delete
    46. Dear Riz,

      Apologies well accepted. Your statements deserve thoughtful replies so I'll reply but it probably will be after Yontif.

      Good Yontif!

      YA

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    47. Let me point out that even though I am not observant, I do not violate Halacha to post on this blog, as that would be disrespectful to R' Slifkin and any religious readers. In my time zones it is currently not yet yom tov.
      8. There is s great deal of oversimplification when it comes to time. We don't know what causes time, how it works, why it works, or even if it isn't more than a construct of our perception. There is a concept that I know nothing about called "timeless physics". The idea of time therefore is just to complex to make any definitive statements that come from human logic. Since again this whole discussion isn't anchored in empirical but rather in logic. I hope this isn't coming across as a cop out.
      9. My problem with the extra step is that there is no reason to say it. It's more that you take the extra step and retroactively say "that makes sense". But at the moment of making the logical progression nothing leads to it.
      10. I don't know if I was clear, but let me explain it as such. I don't know if there is a god. My reason to believe in him when I was religious was my conviction that the Torah is of divine origin, and thus a proof of his existence. Since I'm no lover convinced of that I am no longer convinced of his existence. I can't say definitively that he doesn't exist, but I find no compelling reason to assume that.
      11. I don't believe in miracles; what Dawkins believes is his problem.
      12. I rather like the explanation that the Israelites had amongst them a group of former Egyptian slaves that escaped. That society then evolved over time.
      Even if you don't buy that, Egypt did control ancient Canaan at the time, so Egyptian influence makes a lot of sense.
      13. I didn't really understand your answer to my question. How is the requirement of a non literal interpretation necessitating the truth of the rabbinic one?
      14. I think any historian would admit that they don't have an exact reality. They have theories. I am not claiming to have a true understanding of the past. However, Chazal are. They are reporting what happened/is happening and sadly many of those reports are simply not true. Order of Persian kings, the missing century, prominence of certain figures etc. Can I give you a "true" model of history? No. That would be preposterous for me to claim, but that doesn't mean that I should therefore accept an explanation that is proven to be wrong as truth.
      15. Part of my problem with religion was that I kept having to find creative and twisted ways to keep it logical. At some point I realized that I wouldn't be giving the same slack to any other religion. You can't keep twisting the literal meaning. What you end up is creating a God in your image. And taking the literalist approach is an affront to logic. I remember the days following that realization. I was in Yeshiva and I remember thinking "if a kid was late to davening every day, and he had a good excuse every time, eventually he would get the sideways look. But all of us are accepting bad explainations for Chazal/Torah".

      Delete
    48. 16. When we talk about the "great influence" are we not usually talking about noble prizes, secular literature/thought, scientific discoveries, financial success, political influence, media, Zionism, etc.? Are those not accomplishments that are more significantly tied to secular Jews? And as far as that goes, do we need an explanation for the disproportionate success of atheists in many of those same fields? I never found that as a compelling proof for the divinity of Torah.
      17. I would like to apologize for using strong language and condescending remarks. I commend you for being the bigger person and being the first to take action to stop the mudslinging.
      18. May we all have a great year!

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  41. David Ohsie:

    "Do people believe in the germ theory of disease and heliocentrism because of good advertising?"

    Yeah. People believe those theories and others tend towards them because they have been taught them. Do you think alternative theories in other times and places don't and won't seem to make sense to those who live with them? You think truth just spills unto people. Somehow they are able to figure out how great truths aught to be true and yet still are capable of saying they just don't have the head for heavy topics?

    YA

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    Replies
    1. Unless you dovhe experiment yourself, you are accepting science based on the reliabilitty or authority of your source. The cultural pressures that impact whether or not to believe a report is more a faxtor than its truth, since you didn't independently verify whether it is true.

      Delete
    2. Yes, personal observation, experimentation, and deduction may not be possible without specialized (and expensive) equipment and training. But acceptance on faith in such matters is a matter of everyday experience. We have faith that this multi-ton metal contraption in which we sit is actually capable of take-off, flight, and landing despite the 'opposition' of gravity. That's because such flight is exhibited every hour of every day. Similarly, a heliocentric model of the solar system can be accepted because of the many flights to various places in the solar system that have been made using that model, despite the detailed calculation of the intended orbital path necessary to achieve such visits. The age of the earth and solar system is based on the ratios of parent and daughter isotopes in various radioactive decay processes in the oldest rocks (mostly meteorites). The associated decay rates have been found to be constant regardless of temperature or other environmental factors. Thus, it is credible that the earth is, indeed, some 4.5 billion years old rather than the miniscule 6 millennia that a traditional reckoning would give. Such evidence is, of course, of more modern origin, and those living prior to the establishment of the new evidence can't be really faulted for accepting the more traditional geocentric, young earth model. We no longer have such a luxury if we are to look at the world rationally. Still, not everything of a scientific nature (if not most things) making the headlines needs to accepted on faith. The media simply don't have a critical eye on such matters, and people tend to promote their hypotheses and conjectures as 'established' truth.

      Y. Aharon

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    3. Adding to what Y. Aharon said, there is a difference between culture pressure and cultural knowledge.

      To make this clearer, and avoid the issue of personal scientific ignorance: why do you believe that George Washington was the first president of the United States? Is it cultural pressure?

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    4. Actually, I can go one better. Why do you believe that Barak Obama is the current president of the Unites States? Or that there are 50 states? You've not personally verified any of those facts.

      Delete
    5. No but you verify the reliability of the source. That however is not what I am talking about. I'm saying that there is pressure to believe that Barak Obama is the current president of the Unites States or that there are 50 states. The pressure is towards professing statements independent of a moment's reflection on the reliability of the source. Barak Obama got reportedly the number of States wrong.

      YA

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  42. Some decent research on why people go off the derach with - you know - data! see http://nishmaresearch.com/social-research.html

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    Replies
    1. Although some have argued that the issues are so complex that you need a survey of psychologists of those who went OTD, not a survey of those who went OTD themselves. After all, changing from the values one was raised with requires a strong self-justification mechanism. Can we be sure the person is in touch with their true motives, rather than the rationales by which they adjusted to that change?

      (Similar questions would have to be asked of a survey purporting to explain why people became BT, converted from any religion to any other, etc...)

      Delete

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