Sunday, January 19, 2020

Why We Keep Kosher.

A number of people asked me to respond to a provocative article entitled "Why Keep Kosher?" by Reform Rabbi Michael Harvey. The article bases itself off the premise that the Torah's laws of kashrut reflect zoological ignorance. The Torah describes the hare and hyrax as bringing up the cud, whereas modern zoology says otherwise. (Rabbi Harvey is apparently unfamiliar with the hyrax, referring to it with the archaic name of "daman.") To quote Rabbi Harvey: "Do I really want to follow ancient laws set out in a document that isn’t factually accurate?"

Now, I literally wrote the book on this arcane question, The Camel, The Hare & The Hyrax, which is summarized online at this link. It is true that the Torah describes hares and hyraxes as bringing up the cud, and it is also true that hares do not actually do that (whether hyraxes do it is not as clear as Rabbi Harvey believes). But the bottom line is that there are all kinds of statements in the Torah that are not scientifically accurate, whether describing the universe as being created in six days, a global flood four thousand years ago, the sun setting (as opposed to the earth rotating), dew descending, the sky being a firmament, and several verses about the heart and kidneys housing the mind. Religious people following in the approach of Rambam, Rav Hirsch and Rav Kook accept the approach that "The Torah speaks in the language of man" - that it packages its theological lessons in the worldview of the generation that received it. Others reject this as a religiously legitimate approach, or reject it a reasonable approach (if they are atheists). But the question of the Authorship of the Torah hardly rests on a single verse about the hare and hyrax.

Rabbi Harvey then segues to discussing potential reasons for keeping kosher. He spends some time dismissing the notion that kosher creatures are healthier to eat. That's something of a straw man; true, Rambam believed it, but how many people seriously argue that today?

The Torah doesn't give reasons for kashrut. But contrary to Rabbi Harvey's description of this as a "problem," it's not a bug - it's a feature. There are only two cases where the Torah gave reasons for commandments, and we know how that ended. It's much better for the Torah not to spell out the reasons for the commandments.

Rabbi Harvey writes that "If you ask the literalist (by which he appears to mean the believing Jew - N.S.), the answer is a short one: “Because God said so.” On the other hand, says Rabbi Harvey, if you keep kosher for reasons such as making oneself feel closer to God, or identifying with the Jewish nation, or connecting to Jewish tradition, or some other reasonable explanation, then you're in line with Reform Jews who keep kosher.

This is nothing less than a hijacking of the classical rationalist view of kashrut. Yes, we are obligated to keep kosher because God said so, but God said so for a reason! For centuries, rabbis have been suggesting various rational explanations for the laws of kashrut - it's not a Reform invention!

And while we might not be able to determine all the reasons with certainty, we can certainly suggest several rational possibilities. There may even be layers of reasons - one reason for having a dietary code of any sort (in terms of learning and practicing control, and/or maintaining a distinct Jewish identity), and then a secondary layer of reasons determining which animals would be permitted and which would be forbidden (which could be due to the cultural circumstances as the time of the giving of the Torah, as some Rishonim imply). And then there can be a third layer of reasons as to why people keep kosher today - in terms of connecting to Torah, to the Jewish nation, to three thousand years of tradition.

Rabbi Harvey says that his point is that Reform Jews (unlike Orthodox Jews) can make an "informed choice" as to whether they find any of the reasons adequate, and whether they wish to keep fully kosher, "kosher-style," or nothing. But Orthodox Jews can also be informed; we can be perfectly aware that hares do not bring up the cud, and we can believe that there are rational reasons for keeping kosher.

The difference is as follows. Michael Harvey, as a Reform Rabbi, believes that people are perpetually entitled to choose whether to implement their informed choice. Orthodoxy, on the other hand, means choosing to consider oneself commanded - choosing to commit.

86 comments:

  1. I wrote a response to Rabbi Harvey's column on the Times of Israel where I pointed out that according to Rabbi Harvey's opinion Reform Judaism and Orthodox Judaism are completely separate religions with zero overlap in terms of required beliefs or practices.

    As a thought experiment, I was trying to think of a statement that goes against the tenants of both Reform and Orthodox Judaism, but would be OK with other religions.

    For example, If an Orthodox Rabbi was to give a drasha saying that it is OK to light fire on Shabbat, he would almost certainly be fired. If a Reform Rabbi said that it would be acceptable.

    Alternatively, if a Reform Rabbi was to say that authentic prayer requires that men and women be physically separated, he or she would probably lose their job, but it would be OK for an Orthodox Rabbi to say that.

    If a Rabbi of any denomination was to say that theft or murder is OK, he would probably lose his job, but so would a priest or Iman.

    Can anyone think of a single statement which goes against the tenants of both Orthodox and Reform Judaism, but is not a universal value held by all religions?

    I suspect that the only overlap between Reform Judaism and Orthodox Judaism is that they both call themselves Judaism and they are both practiced by members of the Jewish Nation - but the religions themselves have zero overlap.

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    1. I have one - idolatry.
      If any denomination said it was OK for aJew to pray to Jesus or Vishnu, I think they would get fired, but those other religions would say it is OK.

      The two also share in that they both state that the Torah is their guiding religious book. Whether or not they act according to that statement is another discussion.

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    2. It is not acceptable in Islam to worship either Jesus or Vishnu.

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    3. Idolatry is rejected by all monotheistic religions, not accepting Jesus is common to all religions other than Christianity.

      Someone contacted me off line and suggested that Brit Mila may be a good candidate, both Orhodoxy and Reform religions circumcise baby boys on the 8th day, however this is not a great example as there are a minority of Reform Rabbis who have spoken out against circumcision http://intactnews.org/node/142/1327690351/progressive-rabbis-creating-jewish-covenant-without-circumcision

      Also, in the past Reform recommended a doctor perform the operation in a Hospital, although in recent years the official Reform opinion is to encourage a Mohel.


      So, can anyone come up with a better example of overlap between the Reform and Orthodox Religions?

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    4. Sorry to reply (again) to my own comment, but there is at least one obvious overlap between Reform and Orthodox Judaism which answers my question - Holidays.

      For example, the following statements would be unacceptable for a rabbi from any denomination:
      - On Passover you can replace matzah with bagels and lox
      - You can skip Yom Kippur this year and treat it as an ordinary work day
      - Instead of a Shofar on Rosh HaShana, we will stand for a minute silence to contemplate global warming

      Also Reuven's comments about the Torah as a central text is valid, a Rabbi could not say that the Torah is no more relevant to our lives than the scriptures of other religions.

      So although the basic belief system of the Orthodox and Reform religions are significantly different, there is at least some overlap between practices of both expressions of Judaism.

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  2. What are the two commandments where reasons are given ?

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    1. That a king should not amass horses, and that he should not amass wives.

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    2. 1. Driving away the mother bird from a nest before taking its eggs.
      2. Honoring your father and your mother.
      The reward for both is a long life.

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    3. Not eating from the Tree of Knowledge https://www.sefaria.org/Genesis.2.17?lang=bi&with=all&lang2=en

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    4. byrdman, a statement of the reason for something would start with "because of ...". Reward of long life is just that - a reward - but not the reason.

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    5. The 2 commandments are סוכה and ציצית. I don't think that's what R. Slifkin was referring to, though.

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    6. Observer's answer is the correct one, and the "we know how that ended" refers to Shlomo HaMelech saying that since he knew the reason, he was going to do them anyway and not falter... and then falter he did, in exactly the ways described in the passuk.

      The two mitzvos mentioned by byrdman as having rewards listed - a reward is not a reason. The passuk still does not tell us WHY we need to send away the mother bird. (And there is at least one line in the Gemara cautioning us from "limiting" this to Hashem's Compassion.)

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  3. As someone who grew up with a kosher kitchen, and who now keeps a kitchen with one set of dishes where nothing inherently non-kosher is brought in, and kosher meats are used, I find that one argument for the kashrut commandments is rarely brought up. (Confession - I have not read all the references mentioned.)

    If you are unable to go to someone's home and share a meal, there is a barrier that serves to minimize interaction with the "other". I can understand where that is coming from. Rather like not mixing milchig and fleischig, the mixing of peoples is reduced.

    Orthodox Jews, especially those immersed in Orthodox communities, who are fully kosher, also make that choice, but essentially, only once. Reform Jews who keep any level of kashrut, if not observing as the Orthodox do, make that decision repeatedly. In some ways it can make you more conscious of the issue, rather than less. That is not to say that Orthodox not living in a "cloistered" situation are not making daily decisions. Not being observant in that way, but observing at some level, requires vigilance.

    (An aside - A friend who was attempting a vegan diet ran into this issue in a Mexican restaurant. She question the waitress about the components of one dish, and the waitress asked if she were vegan. She said yes. The waitress then informed her that almost all restaurants used chicken broth in their rice. So trying to avoid animal products is not as obvious as it would seem.)

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    1. "Orthodox Jews, especially those immersed in Orthodox communities, who are fully kosher, also make that choice, but essentially, only once. Reform Jews who keep any level of kashrut, if not observing as the Orthodox do, make that decision repeatedly."

      That's a bizarre way of framing it and I think it reflects an ignorance of Orthodox life and experience, WADR. An Orthodox person encounters this choice repeatedly through his/her life, whether in business meetings or group lunches at work, private meetings with colleagues or clients, friendship with non-Orthodox Jews or with gentiles, or even relatives who are not Orthodox or not observant. The fact that most of us, as a whole, (there are I'm sure exceptions who fail to make the right choice in every instance or fail this test sometimes) are more committed to this separation doesn't take away from the fact that the choice arises over and over again in all sorts of environments for many of us, and each time we have to explain why we cannot eat.
      There are also even some Orthodox Jews who have such punctilious levels of kashrus that they will not eat at other Orthodox Jews' homes.

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  4. There is only ONE reason why people keep kosher: to stay in the club. You just can't stay in good standing with a community unless you follow the customs of that community. The beliefs and justifications for such customs always take a backseat to the practices themselves, ESPECIALLY in Orthodox Judaism, which has always emphasized PRAX over DOX.

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    1. You're dismissing those rare Jews who are observant but don't live in a community. Or even those Jews who do live in a Jewish community but have their secret stash of pork rinds.

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    2. I think he's more dismissing the (majority of) observant Jews who DON'T have a secret stash of pork rinds. If you're only doing it to fit into the community, why keep it in secret?

      If I'm by myself, nobody will ever know whether I make a bracha or not. I do it because I believe in it.

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    3. @Shimano

      It's no different then any other capital crime, but Shimom blBen-Shatach hung 80 witches in Ashkelon on one day. What's your explanation? So the gays can do whatever they want as long as there are no 2 witnesses? You realy make me laugh now. This is not only סוף כל התורה כולה, but it's the end of civilization.

      Yakov

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  5. I normally find your arguments very well constructed but have to say I don’t find it to be the case here. Equating a statement about a certain animal chewing the cud with the sun setting or the dew descending doesn’t really work. The sun appears to set to all of us; the mechanics of gestation of a specific species is something only a few people would ever investigate so it is hard to put it in the category of the Torah speaking in the language of man. Moreover, many observant Jews make exactly the type of ‘informed choices’ states to be the reserve of Reform. For instance, we are also commanded how to deal with the rebellious son but we dismiss that entirely. Orthodoxy has to posit the existence of a parallel oral law to keep itself rational but the very fact of doing so allows mysticism and irrationality to creep in. Would be better in my view to see Judaism as a wide spectrum from Reform through to Haredi without the necessity for the demarcation lines everyone insists on. Granted, this make it hard to define the borders of Judaism precisely but sometimes fuzzy borders are more appropriate than clear boundaries.

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  6. The right reason to keep kosher is because you love Torah and G-d. It's the same reason you would stone gays. This is very simple.

    Yakov

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    1. I am convinced that you do this purposely to “trigger” people here. In any event, we agree that keeping kosher is very helpful for health benefits and because G-d commanded it. As for gays, we need to respect everyone, even gays. Also, a careful reading of the Torah will show that the Torah does not want us to obey the laws of stoning gays. I could write an essay of examples if you want me to prove my point. Let me know if this would be helpful to you.

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    2. Those of us who actually read חומש know you're lying. Why do you do it?

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    3. Should I even bother asking why you're deliberately trying to offend as many people as possible here?

      If you had even the slightest clue about Judaism, you would know that in order for any court to issue a death penalty, the act must have been performed in the presence of two non-related kosher witnesses, and those witnesses must have previously warned the person that the act he is about to perform is a capital crime.

      In other words, it's not enough to just perform the act of a capital crime. You need to make a deliberate public spectacle out of it, elevating the act to an open act of rebellion against the entire legal system.

      This is very different from other religions where people are executed based on a simple accusation of a capital crime, even without any evidence.

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    4. @Turk Hill

      Yes, can be very helpful. Go ahesd.

      Yakov

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    5. @ Tyrk Hill
      'In any event, we agree that keeping kosher is very helpful for health benefits'.

      I agree to no such thing.

      Yakov.


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    6. Before I begin my set of examples for Yakov, I first want to point out that Shamino’s point about the two witnesses is sufficient as it disposes of all of his arguments and any thing else he could possibly say.

      Although it is certainly true that many people will not agree with these examples. Readers do not have to agree with each one, they can agree with everything in total or in part or none at all, but I include them because I think they are thought-provoking and they make us think.
      Now to the list.

      Is it possible that many Torah laws are now outdated and were not ideal?

      Be it as it may, it is very possible that G-d does not want people to obey all of the biblical laws. For among much else, the Bible stressed proper behavior. However, the Torah realized that it is psychologically impossible to change human nature.[1]

      For example, if the Torah told primitive slaves to give up sacrifices, for G-d does not need nor want a tabernacle or temple, they would have rejected the Torah as nonsense. It, therefore, follows that most people cannot handle the truth and feel threatened by it. Only a few, such as the prophets and Maimonides knew these things were unnecessary and wrote that G-d “allowed” these ancient practices to continue but restrained them.[2]

      For example, while the Torah allows sacrifices as a concession, it restricts them to certain animals and minimized times as a means to wean people away from the sacrificial system, for G-d does not need or want sacrifices.

      Another example is the laws of slavery. Although the Torah allows slavery, it restricts it with the intention of teaching the Israelites that slavery is wrong and must be stopped.[3] For example, the Torah’s legislation made the life of a slave (or, servant) much easier. So much so, that the rabbis later said, “he who acquires a slave secures a master over himself.”

      The same line of reasoning can and should be applied to the laws of slavery, cursing parents, captive woman, polygamy, an “eye for an eye,” stoning gays, etc.[4]

      Thus the Torah elevated and refined these practices. But these laws should be stopped once people become more sophisticated, a slippery slope? Perhaps not since historians recognized the process of allowing laws to wean people away and call the process “synchronization.”

      It, therefore, follows that G-d wanted people to learn from the Torah that they should change the Torah laws, for many laws were later changed by the rabbis for the necessities of the time. In fact, most biblical laws were concessions to human nature; never intended for ideal behavior.

      In short, the Torah expects us not to obey all its laws in which infliction was impossible; it therefore follows that these laws were never implemented.

      [1] Although G-d can change human nature, He chose not to do so.

      [2] Guide of the Perplexed 3:41.

      [3] A careful reading of the Torah shows that it is against these practices.

      [4] The parashah found in Exodus 21:19 and Targum Onkelos understands that an eye for an eye is met with payment and compensation; no injury is met with physical damage. See also Midrash Mekhilta and the Babylonian Talmud, Bava Kamma 85a. See Talmud (ibid.). Also, (4:1) makes is abundantly clear that the law is not physical damage.

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    7. The claim that part or all of biblical law was temporary is basic to Christian doctrine. Not saying that TH is a Christian, but that the debate is an old one and there is much more material on missionary and anti-missionary sites than what TH is providing, for someone to arrive at a more educated decision.

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    8. --In other words, it's not enough to just perform the act of a capital crime. You need to make a deliberate public spectacle out of it, elevating the act to an open act of rebellion against the entire legal system.--
      I would be surprised if that was the reason. To do something in public usually required a minyan like kiddush hashem. The simple reason is to make sure he did it. Newcomer

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    9. @Shimano

      It's no different then any other capital crime, but Shimom Ben-Shatach hung 80 witches in Ashkelon on one day. What's your explanation? So the gays can do whatever they want as long as there are no 2 witnesses? You realy make me laugh now. This is not only סוף כל התורה כולה, but it's the end of civilization.


      @TH

      Thanks for your response. Your argument isn't convincing to me. My Catholic freind beleives that the Paschal Lamb is really Jesus, I beleive in our religion, but we both agree on gays and many other issues. You, my freind, seem to be confused and in a state of turmoil on the fundamentals. I don't beleive that anything I might say here will make a difference. Have a wonderful day!

      Yakov

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    10. @Mom, I am an Orthodox Jew.

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    11. @Yakov

      We agree that the Paschal Lamb does not represent Jesus, though we also agree to respect the views of your Catholic friend. But I am in total bliss, opposite of what you said since I firmly believe in rational Judaism.

      Alas, the truth is impossible for many people to accept. I pray, however, that you will one day accept the truth. If not, I still respect your view. Have a nice day,

      Turk Hill

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    12. I, in my own little way, am a rational thinker myself, but up to the point that my mind can grasp. Now, I will agree that the number 80 might have been an exaggeration, nevertheless many were executed on the same day. So here you have it: witchcraft as it says כל מכשפה לא תחיו, no proper witnesses, multiple executions on the same day. I don't recollect Dovid HaMelech concerning himself with the proverbial 2 witnesses either. I think there has always been a parallel secular legal system that enabled the Jews to effectively handle real life's problems that would be impossible if the Sanhedrin were to be involved. So having witnesses is a nice thing to learn about, but before it becomes a reality many heads had to roll and are yet to roll. Just read נביאים ראשונים. Rivers of blood and false witnesses.

      I understand the uniqueness of Divid HaMelech, but I don't join in singing דוד מלך ישראל חי, חי וקיים. Those lawless times, and of course everything is explained away, aren't something that I long for.

      The point is that the 2 witnesses as a requirement to bring law and order to society is a total fiction both historically and halachically.

      Yakov

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    13. Does the Shimon Ben Shetach story end with all of the witches being killed on one day? Not just incarcerated? I have not read that Gemara recently. Let's just remember that the whole story is kinda crazy ("we walked between the raindrops!")

      Anyway: that situation was a specific instance that perhaps needed special leeway - like Public Safety, for example. SbS was related to the king, so maybe he had royal authority, which is NOT bound by Beis Din's limitations (though if it is abused, the king gets scolded, like David and Uriah/Bas-Sheva).

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  7. "But the bottom line is that there are all kinds of statements in the Torah that are not scientifically accurate, whether describing the universe as being created in six days, a global flood four thousand years ago, the sun setting (as opposed to the earth rotating), dew descending, the sky being a firmament, and several verses about the heart and kidneys housing the mind. "
    Again, Natan this is exactly why your books were banned. Making statements that the Torah makes "scientifically inaccurate" statements is nonsense. The Torah makes statements, how you so choose to interpret these statements, is apparently at odds with science. However what needs to be evaluated are your interpretations not the Torah. The truths of the Torah will remain forever and withstand the test of time.

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    1. The funny thing is that you both actually agree!

      Whether your approach of reading things differently in the Torah that isn't scientifically accurate, or,

      Slifkin's approach that 'the Torah speaks in the language of people,' (or the rishonims approach that certain things were medaphors),

      Both agree that the Torah isn't purely scientific. Because it isn't relevant to it.

      The ethics and values in the Torah are what will make it go on forever.

      If only more people would realize this. We're so quickly trapped in a false dichotomy (argument).

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    2. "Making statements that the Torah makes "scientifically inaccurate" statements is nonsense. The Torah makes statements, how you so choose to interpret these statements, is apparently at odds with science. "

      This is just surplus refuse that is discarded as having no value: The Torah statement that the world was created in seven days does not match the scientific evidence. No interpretation of the scientific evidence can reconcile with the six day of creation story. On the other hand redefining a day to mean something other than the time it takes the earth to rotate on its own axis is just sophistry

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    3. On the other hand redefining a day to mean something other than the time it takes the earth to rotate on its own axis is just sophistry

      No, it's not. There's no other rational explanation for days 1-3 (and part of 4?).

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    4. @Setting the record straight

      "this is exactly why your books were banned"

      I'd say the books were banned because those behind the ban adopt an approach to Torah that is cowardly, immature , and less intelligent. But if you are someone who identifies with that approach, then I don't expect you to see that.

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    5. Many either read the Torah literally or reject it as nonsense. I take a third approach. My own view is similar to Maimonides, who says that whoever read midrashim literally are fools, while whoever rejects midrashim out of hand are also fools. Midrashim are parables designed to teach moral lessons. People need to mine midrashim to learn about proper behavior.

      The same line of thinking can and should be applied to Torah study. The Torah never says the sun stood still for Joshua (Ralbag), and although the Torah seems to say the world was created in six days which is not real science, the Rambam explains this to be a parable.

      This is a good way to understand the Bible.

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    6. "this is exactly why your books were banned"

      Silly me, I thought that my books were banned for the reasons that the Gedolim gave - that I adopted the approach of Rambam and Rav Hirsch and others.

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    7. I have no idea what your books contain. But I understand they were banned (and if I am right I agree with them) that your books were for BTs (mainly), and one doesnt teach them this, like one doesnt start off with kabala (like chabad). The approach of the Rambam and R Hirsch (whatever that is, I have no idea)is not the approach which is accepted today (I dont know what that is either, since I dont believe in kiruv)and therefore not suitable for BTs. Newcomer.

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    8. In response to AwesomePseudonym:
      Regarding the definition of “Day” during the creation parable:

      Sophistry: The use of clever but false arguments, especially with the intention of deceiving

      The literal meaning of the word “day” is a 24 hour period. I may be wrong, but I don’t believe that anywhere in the Torah or Tanach is the word day used to mean anything other than a 24 hour period. The creation story, however, creates a problem. There is simply overwhelming physical evidence that the world emerged over eons of time. The scientific evidence simply cannot be reconciled with a literal interpretation of the creation story. To redefine “day” in the creation story to mean something other than the vernacular meaning renders the word meaningless. Simply you cannot claim a literal meaning of the torah, and simultaneously selectively alter the definition of words to suit your interpretation. Hence the sophistry.

      (The same is also true of the argument that g-d did create the world in a literal 7 day period, but the evidence of an ancient universe is simply a misdirection.)

      Recall the contentious statement is:
      “Making statements that the Torah is ‘scientifically inaccurate’ is nonsense.”
      There is no way you can reconcile the creation story with the scientific evidence of an ancient universe without resorting to sophistry.

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    9. You'd like to think that they were banned for that reason. You certainly want others to believe such. The facts are, that the Rabbi's banned your books with expressions such as "see how this one has blasphemed and degraded chazal". These comments refer to your attitude of disregard for the sacredness of the Torah and chazal. They don't at all refer to difference of view in haskafah or theology as you keep trying to assert.

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    10. Yossi 'Eleph shonim k'yom ....
      Newcomer

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    11. "I have no idea what your books contain."

      Much like most of Rabbi Slifkin's critics.

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    12. @ Setting the record straight

      It seems you haven't read his work. He just quotes the Rambam and Rav Hirsh (among others). It's people like you who consider that an "attitude of disregard the sacredness of torah." He even brings respectfully down the other side's opinions as well.

      He even makes MANY hagdamas that this is not for everyone, that some aren't comfortable with this approach (despite it being the opinion of our historical gedolim)

      It's like you have another religion. This is getting ridiculous already.

      You seem to hand no clue what the reshonim held.

      You clearly never read his book, nor his specific published ideas on his website (not blog).

      Btw my opinions are probably more charedi, but please stop acting so ignorant. Open a Rambam for goodness sakes.

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    13. For those who have any doubt about "Newcomer's" intellectual honesty, here is the quote he alludes to in context

      Tehlim, 90:4
      כִּ֚י אֶ֪לֶף שָׁנִ֡ים בְּֽעֵינֶ֗יךָ כְּי֣וֹם אֶ֖תְמוֹל כִּ֥י יַֽעֲבֹ֑ר וְאַשְׁמ֘וּרָ֥ה בַלָּֽיְלָה:
      "For a thousand years in thy site are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.

      One might think that not only have you quoted the tehilim out of context, but also omitted a key word!

      Far from suggesting that a day is anything other than a 24 hour period, the pslam is suggesting that time has no meaning to g-d - that g-d is eternal. While time is short and fleeting for individual humans, HaShem has the luxury of patience.

      (Thank you Chabad https://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/16311/jewish/Chapter-90.htm).

      "K'yom etmol" like yesterday

      "Newcomer" let me introduce you to a new word for the day - mendacious

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    14. ד כי אלף שנים בעיניך כיום אתמול כי יעבור ואשמורה בלילה. ופירש"י אלף שנים של בני אדם הם כיום אחד של הקב"ה כו' ומעט מן הלילה עמו כו' שהרי אמרת לאדה"ר ביום אכלך ממנו מות תמות וחיה תשע מאות ושלשים שנה נמצאו אלף שנים עולים ליום שלם ומעט מן הלילה עמו עכ"ל.

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    15. Rashi is 'mendacious' I also dont mind being.

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    16. Dear "Newcomer",

      I am struggling to understand your point here: Are you truly saying that Hashem physically experience time. That HaShem literally experiences a day. That HaShem exist within time, as oppose to outside time? You literally believe that 1000 years of human experience is an actual day for HaShem. You believe in a corporeal G-D?

      You comment elsewhere about people not learning Gmorro properly - in your approved style, but the fact that you cannot understand the allegorical nature of the Tehilim suggest something else entirely.

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    17. Thank you. I am not saying anything just quoting a 'mendacious' rashi. I cant help it, that rashi was not a 'rationalist'.
      I dont see why a non-corporeal G-D cannot experience time. Again this is not my subject. I would rather you tell me what your 'something else' suggestion is. Dont worry it wont upset me. But if I dont agree with you I will reply. Without knowing this I cant.
      I will add that most people, not just 'rationalists' on this blog have no idea of how to learn a gemoro properly. It is a 'law' book and since most people are not capable of being lawyers they are also not capable of learning gemoro. Most who have done the daf dont even know the first page. If I gave a short example of how to approach learning, no one on here, judging by the comments would understand anyway.

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    18. @newcomer

      "most people, not just 'rationalists' on this blog have no idea of how to learn a gemoro properly. It is a 'law' book"

      Thank you for proving Yossi's and my point. To claim that the entirety of gemara is strictly law, without even hinting to the obvious observation that gemara is filled with allegorical teachings, indicates that it is YOU who do not understand chazal. Do yourself a favor and read the Rambam's introductory remarks to perek cheilek. If you want to go the extra mile, get Chaim Saiman's book "Halakhah: The Rabbinic Idea of Law" to get yourself started on how to learn Talmud.
      There are so many unaffiliated Jews out there who have never seen a page of gemara, and in some ways that's sad. But what's even more tragic is that there are people who have been learning their entire lives and have never appreciated the greatness of chazal and the depth of learning. And what's even sadder is that they (i.e. you) believe that they are the ones who know how to learn, while others don't.

      Delete
    19. Newcomer, Honestly, I am not sure were to start:

      Perhaps you can translate "כיום אחד" for me. How do you understand the Kaf before the Yom?

      But that is not why I suggested you were being mendacious. You misquoted a Tehilim out of context, in an attempt to pervert what I think is the natural meaning. Personally, I am struggling to see why this Rashi is relevant.

      Yossi

      Delete
  8. My question to all those who dont believe in creation. Why do you keep shabbos. The same rosh hashono although the torah doesnt call it that, why does everyone call it that, wish happy new year etc. on that day.
    Why not keep January or Nissan, if nothing special happened on that day. I think the whole world keeps a seven day week and always did. The reasons given that a month is too long so they had to split it up, are not as good as the true one.
    Regarding keeping kosher. One of the reason given, is one is, what one eats. Therefore eating wild animals will make you a murderer. Similar reasons with other non-kosher birds or animals. Newcomer

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    Replies
    1. "I think the whole world keeps a seven day week and always did."

      Not exactly.

      The ancient Roman calendar had eight day "weeks" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nundinae). The seven day week came in later, under the influence of Astrology (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planetary_hours).

      The ancient Chinese calendar had ten day weeks (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_calendar#Week). So did the Egyptians (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egyptian_calendar).

      The Babylonians had seven day weeks, but they reset the count every new moon (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Week#Ancient_Near_East).

      Delete
    2. "I think the whole world keeps a seven day week and always did"
      Uh no the world uses a 7 day week because of how widespread Christianity is.
      The ancient Romans had a 8 day week, the ancient Chinese a ten day week as did the ancient Egyptians. The aztecs had 13 day weeks (ntm only 260 day years). Etc etc.

      Delete
    3. Non of you have answered my question of why you keep shabbos (and new year) if you dont believe in creation. On my previous blog I was answered that we keep what we are told to, even if we dont agree to the reason. I replied (and that is how it comes into this blog) that if a reason is given (like why we should keep shabbos) then we have to keep it for that reason and not because we were told to. I also added that your children will see the contradiction and end up not keeping shabbos. Newcomer

      Delete
    4. @Ori Pomerantz and Orion, you both make an good point.

      Delete
    5. A pity you can all make 'good' points but none can answer why you keep shabbos Newcomer.

      Delete
    6. "my question of why you keep shabbos (and new year) if you dont believe in creation. "

      Is there someone at this blog who doesn't believe in creation and is arguing with you over keeping Shabbos? Or are you posting random strawman arguments in response to Rabbi Slifkin's posts?

      Btw, it's not difficult to use the drop down menu where it says "Reply as" and choose Name/URL, and then place your moniker in the box. Really not difficult.

      Delete
    7. Of course, we ALL believe in creation. How did “creation” took place, we may differ. Be it as it may, I am convinced that G-d is transcendental, meaning that He formed the world out of pre-existing (eternal) matter, and placed in it the laws of nature. It follows that creation was not ex nihilo, because, from nothing, you get nothing.

      Does it make any difference whether G-d formed the universe out of preexisting and eternal matter instead of creation out of nothing, called creation ex nihilo? I think that it makes no difference. Even if people believe that G-d used preexisting material and that, like him, existed for all eternity, they would still believe that G-d miraculously formed the world and placed in it what the Bible calls “good” things, or what we call the laws of nature and that a person should study these laws to improve themselves and society.

      In fact, Rambam interpreted the six-day creation of the Genesis account to be allegorical, not six literal days, for He could have done so instantaneously, and that is what He did (Rambam). The universe was formed over the course of billions of years. Rambam also explained the "Garden of Eden" story to be a metaphor, a parable about morality vs intelligence and Rambam stresses for the use of the latter.

      My own view is that I think we should keep shabbat whether the idea is G-d’s or humans. Maimonides similarly taught that we should observe all of the biblical and rabbinical enactments as the rabbis explained them.

      PS
      If it would help, I could prove my view using the biblical text. Let me know if this would be helpful for you.

      Delete
    8. No this post has said they dont believe in creation as we understand it from the chumash. So I ask why do you keep shabbos. I understand that i dont have to ask first do you keep shabbos. Newcomer

      Delete
    9. ----Follow this text that I don't believe in---
      In what way is the MO regarding creation different to the reform in this. The MO is also pushing (their children) not to keep shabbos with this. And we know where that leads to.

      Delete
    10. Turk Hill
      https://www.chabad.org/media/pdf/931/uZKo9314074.pdf
      This a subject I know very little about, but it seems you are quoting a different rambam to the regular one. Newcomer

      Delete
    11. Newcomer, I do not comprehend what you write. Are you implying that the world was created in literal six-days, 5000 yrs ago, and if so, why did G-d rest?

      No one here is pushing their children not to keep Shabbat. Rational Judaism understands that Jews are obligated to obey all of the biblical enactments as the rabbis explained them.

      Delete
    12. That was not my intention. I meant that if you cant explain what the six days of creation were, in a simple manner, it is unlikely your children will accept it. Saying they are obligated wont help. I am implying that is the simple literal understanding. Your question of why it took six days have been asked before. In Pirkai Ovos very similar questions are asked. This is not a subject of which I have any idea of. I can only quote what others say. I will not reply to those who consider me and everyone else 'poor logic, immaturity, and shallowness' or 'cowardly, immature , and less intelligent'.
      This reflects on them.
      Newcomer.

      Delete
    13. Newcomer, here is more in depth reason(s) why Jews keep shabbat.

      Maimonides' Guide of the Perplexed 3:49 felt that people with intelligence can find a rationale behind every commandment and that one of their primary focuses is to wean people away from idolatry. Additionally, Maimonides understood that the focus of Shabbat is people-oriented. Needless to say, rabbi Ehrlich notes in his commentaries of the Bible that they are many reasons why Jews keep Shabbat. One of those reasons can be found in Exodus 20:10, which states that Shabbat was instituted to recall that there is a G-d, that G-d created the world, and that G-d gave the laws of the Torah. Leviticus 25:1 explains that keeping Shabbat is not optional. People need a rest.[1] People also should stop working and think about G-d, understand what G-d wants from them, and enjoy the day with good clothes and food. This is not optional; it is "G-d's day" and this is what G-d wants.

      [1] Does G-d rest? No, "rest" means "did not continue to create," G-d ceased creation on the seventh day

      Delete
    14. @newcomer

      "This is not a subject of which I have any idea of. I can only quote what others say."

      That's exactly the problem. Everything you say is robotic and lacks any thought. And it also implies that every statement you quote is to be taken literally, when clearly chazal never had that intention (see Rambam's intro to perek cheilek).

      "I will not reply to those who consider me and everyone else 'poor logic..."

      There are certain occasions where people need to be called out for what they are. Seeing that you continue to make poorly thought-out statements despite other people's comments to you implies you are simply not internalizing that your headspace cannot properly respond to people's points on RNS' site and that your bias runs too deep for you to offer logically sound arguments.

      Delete
    15. Unlike others on here I dont believe I know everything meaning also that I am capable myself of deciding which mitvot to keep and why. I therefore quote others and always say that I have no idea. To everyone on here it is considered a huge failing as someone here has pointed out with very choice words. It seems that this is the most shameful thing for anyone on here to admit not to know everything and why. That seems to be what 'rational' really means. Apparently R Slifkin allows my posts although he knows me also from elsewhere and even invited me here, and knows that I am far from being 'rational'. Also it seems being 'rational'means dogmatic, and not listening to anyone else what he has to say, unless he is also 'rational'. I am smarter than anyone else even on here and have never any difficulty in defending my posts however lacking in thought you consider them. I will also always admit if I am wrong, I am never ashamed to, although this has rarely been the case. My questions remain. As far as I know, and again it is not a subject I have studied at all, no one in midrash or kabala says it is not meant to be taken literally. Yes the gemoro says maase braishis and maase merkovo are the hardest things. I have no idea what this means but I dont think it means not to be taken literally that it took six days only, exactly what happened on these days.
      https://www.knowingfaith.co.il/%D7%AA%D7%95%D7%A8%D7%94-%D7%95%D7%9E%D7%93%D7%A2/%D7%94%D7%92%D7%99%D7%A9%D7%94-%D7%94%D7%90%D7%9C%D7%92%D7%95%D7%A8%D7%99%D7%AA-%D7%9C%D7%A4%D7%A8%D7%A9%D7%99%D7%95%D7%AA-%D7%94%D7%91%D7%A8%D7%99%D7%90%D7%94
      כי כל זה לא יובן בינה שלמה מן הכתובים.... ויספיק לאנשי התורה בלעדי הכתובים האלה, ויאמינו בכלל בנזכר בעשרת דיברות 'כי ששת ימים עשה ה' את השמים ואת הארץ'... ותישאר הידיעה ליחידים שבהם".
      I believe in this ramban that all one has to know is that it took six days and leave the rest for others (dont think he means rationalists).

      Delete
  9. Silly question (not on the topic of this specific post): How can anyone claim that "Chazal never err", if the Talmud is chock-full of arguments, most of which end up with one sage being proven wrong?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No sage is ever proven wrong. No sage can ever make a mistake in sevoro. They can make a mistake in geography or anatomy. I am referring to rishonim with that. Bais shamai were never wrong.
      Newcomer

      Delete
    2. @Gabriel

      Your point is bang on. It seems that Newcomer has never learned gemara

      Delete
    3. Anonymous: There's never "Tyuvta" in the Gemara? I'm confused...

      Delete
    4. You may have learned gemoro but with the wrong 'attitude' towards it. Thinking that all they did was making 'mistakes'. Not understand the gemoro system.
      Newcomer.

      Delete
    5. @Newcomer

      Right... based on the general poor logic, immaturity, and shallowness of your comments, I don't think you have any backbone to judge who has the right or wrong attitude to gemara. Hatzlacha

      Delete
    6. the claim is not that no sages have ever erred, but rather that the consensus of sages do not err, thus an unrefuted statement in the gemora, or the maskanah of a gemora cannot be a mistake

      Delete
  10. Newcomer,

    The Rambam writes clearly that if evidence appeared that the world existed for ever he would believe it and reinterpret pesukim as necessary.


    Shabbos would be because the forming the land into the world as we know it took seven days. As the possuk states 'eretz omadas lo'ad' or similar.

    As for a universal seven day week, of course that is based on the biblical narrative. But it is not proof of its correctness. Back then in the West it was believed. As we know from the midrash the Persians in Esther's time had a ten day week.

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    Replies
    1. Does 'forming the land' mean creation. Newcomer

      Delete
    2. Newcomer,

      No. It means taking the land and forming it into seas, forests etc.

      Delete
    3. Is that all what happened in your book of creation. I dont understand you. The same as you dont seem to believe in the rest of it why just choose this. Newcomer

      Delete
    4. Newcomer, yes, G-d formed the universe from preexisting matter, and places into it the laws of nature. That is what the Bible calls, “Very good.”.

      Delete
    5. @********* what is the source for this rambam?

      Delete
    6. @anon

      In his Guide of the Perplexed 2:25, Maimonides admits that people can either believe that G-d formed the world out of pre-existing material (which is easier), or that G-d created the world out of nothing, creatio ex nihilo (fits with miracles). Maimonides prefers the latter. However, it is possible that he is using the Plato technique, “a noble lie,” for the multitude. Furthermore, Maimonides was convinced that G-d does not interferes with the laws of nature, Aristotle ’s view.

      Delete
  11. For the love of God. One should accept his love, for without this, the rest is meaningless. One has to accept his acquittalence, for he had forgiven us. Any other answer, fails to answer what God wants of each and everyone of us, of Israel his people and for all the nations of the world.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Can we please delete fundamentalist Christian posts.

      Delete
  12. "The difference is as follows. Michael Harvey, as a Reform Rabbi, believes that people are perpetually entitled to choose whether to implement their informed choice. Orthodoxy, on the other hand, means choosing to consider oneself commanded - choosing to commit."

    There is an additional difference for the Reform rabbis. It is not just an "informed choice" but rather an informed choice whether to implement the *Discredited* requirements of a *Discredited text* into our lives. Orthodox Jews do not consider the text or its Author/authorship discredited (even those of us who accept the basic scientific facts of zoology) when we make our choice to implement it or not and be committed or not.

    This is just a continuation of the original Reform Movement efforts in America that fell on deaf ears and pushed now multiple generations of young American Jews to run away from Judaism and to intermarry. "Follow this text that I don't believe in and that you shouldn't believe in, because we are a feel-good Tribe of some sort that should stick together"
    The reply (voting with their feet) is predictable and hasn't changed over the many decades this message has rung out from the Temple speaker systems

    ReplyDelete

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