Friday, April 17, 2020

"If They Only Knew How Much Torah Protects From Coronavirus..."

The big news in the charedi community today is a statement from Rav Chaim Kanievsky, printed in the Yated Neeman:
"The Torah commanded us to look after ourselves long before they (the Zionist government) came up with their rules. But if they were to know how much Torah protects and saves, they would find a solution for us to successfully (reopen the yeshivos) without entering into danger."

(He also reiterated his position that anyone disregarding the laws about restrictions should be reported to the police, describing them as rodfim. I'm not sure how to square this with the fact that there has been a regular minyan taking place in his apartment.)

Now, first of all, it's rather ironic that he puts down the rules of the government and claims that "Torah was there first." Because, as is well known, it is precisely the Torah leadership of Rav Chaim Kanievsky that was late to the game and which closed the yeshivos and schools several crucial days after everything else in the country was already closed.

Regarding finding a solution, it is true that there is a lot to be said regarding the inconsistency of how it is legal in Israel to gather for a protest, but not for prayer. And indeed, this was an argument submitted in a government discussion yesterday, with the result that prayer in open spaces with distancing will probably be soon permitted.

(I should add at this point that some of the non-charedi leadership has also been severely disappointing. In particular, President Rivlin's spending the first day of his chag with his children, at a time when many elderly people were told to be alone, was utterly disgraceful. However, he did apologize and express deep regret for his mistake, which virtually never happens with a charedi Gadol.)

Still, while one can certainly marshal a powerful argument for opening schools, shuls and yeshivos based on the primacy of Torah study in Judaism, that is not the argument that Rav Chaim presents. Instead, he uses the argument that Torah will protect against coronavirus.

Needless to say, this is the exact same argument that he used to stop the closure of the yeshivos and shuls to begin with. Which is in part the reason why Bnei Brak has by far the highest rate of infection in Israel. And the alleged "protective value" of Torah has not exactly been impressive in the US or UK, where countless Torah scholars have tragically died.

I'm even more bothered by the phraseology of Rav Chaim's statement. "If they were to know how much Torah protects and saves..." Well, how much does Torah protect and save? I don't even need an exact answer - just something approximate will suffice, as long as it has actual practical significance. Doctors can give statistics as to the efficacy of various remedies, the army can describe the efficacy of various forms of defense, so why can't anyone describe the efficacy of the protective power of Torah? Of course, no charedi rabbi will ever, ever try to give an actual meaningful answer to that question.

The idea of "Torah protecting" has absolutely zero significance in a practical sense. (As for how to understand classical sources on this topic, see my posts "Torah Against Terror?" and "Practically Speaking, Torah Does Not Protect.") When charedi apologists try to defend this concept, they end up twisting themselves into pretzels.

In a previous post, I mentioned a rabbi with whom I had an argument about Torah supposedly protecting from coronavirus. The argument has been steadily ongoing, as I try to show him the inconsistency of his position. This rabbi insists that Torah does indeed protect, but also maintains that one is halachically required to listen to doctors, and that if the doctors say that it is dangerous to continue shuls and yeshivos, ignoring them would be a prohibition of ain somchin al ha-nes, one may not rely on miracles. Accordingly, he said that it was indeed correct to listen to the doctors to close the shuls and yeshivos - but up until that point Torah was indeed protecting, and it was therefore a pity that we had to lose that protective power.

I pointed out that according to his logic, why on earth should one listen to doctors? After all, they are basing their guidance on the situation in the general population, and are not taking into account the supposed protective powers of Torah! Or to put it another way - the doctors don't only say that's bad for people to get together now - they say that it was retroactively always bad, and that what was done in the past led to the present situation. If he believes that they are right about what we should do now, then why are they wrong in what they believe about the cause? And there are all kinds of other questions to ask, which is that since every pandemic starts off as a regular contagious disease like the annual flu, at which point does gathering to study Torah suddenly stop protecting significantly and become harmful?

A more rationalist explanation of the concept of the Torah's protection can be found in the commentary of Meiri (to Sotah 21a). He explains: “Torah protects the world – i.e., that the Torah scholar influences others, and his wisdom enables society to endure.” In his view, the meaning of the statement that "Torah protects" is simply that Torah scholars, with their wisdom, influence society for the better, thereby enabling it to thrive.

Alas, it would seem that not every person known as a Torah scholar influences society in this way. But that leads in turn to the question of "Who Is A Gadol?", which has been forcefully answered by Rav Eliezer Melamed:
"Gadlut beTorah necessitates an all-embracing, fully accountable handling of serious issues facing the generation, including: the attitude towards Am Yisrael in all its diversity and various levels – both religious, and non-religious; the attitude towards mitzvoth of yishuv haaretz (settling the Land) and the on-going war which has surrounded it for over a century; the attitude towards science and work, and the contemporary social and economic questions."
It's sometimes pretty clear where such gadlut can, and cannot, be found.

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The yeshivos might be closed, but we are still teaching Torah live online from the Biblical Museum of Natural History! See our schedule at www.BiblicalNaturalHistory.org/live

53 comments:

  1. Just for the record, it is common knowledge that these statements are not penned by R. Chaim. They do not reflect his style of writing, or, apparently, thinking. Some "writer" puts it together and they have him sign it. Doesn't make much of a difference but worth recognizing.

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    1. Does that include the cryptic statements to donate to those tzedakah funds that claim his name? (rhetorical)

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    2. We hear this rationaization many times to defend these rediculous statements coming from him. What it means is that he is not a gadol "ha'dor" if he is not able to use modes of communication the way the "dor" actually uses. If my Rav were to be misquoted by someone, I would know about it very clearly and in a timely fashion through email, whatsapp, twitter, etc. Because we never know what he is actually thinking and saying, makes him very unqualified to lead outside his immediate primitive circle.

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  2. "But if they were to know how much Torah protects and saves, they would find a solution for us to successfully (reopen the yeshivos) without entering into danger."

    There is such a solution. It's called Otzar Hachochmah (which opened to the public for free) + Zoom. It doesn't work on Shabbos and Yom Tov and isn't the same as being together in person with a physical sefer, but it works.

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    1. I argued this but much of the Charedi community shunned this. good essay btw.

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    2. Apparently, the Charedi rabbis fail to note their contradictions. They feel that if they give in to the notion that the Torah does indeed protect as explained by Meiri but not in the sense that it protects one against coronavirus, they fear they will lose the support of the majority. There's is a practical reason why they will not admit their mistakes or prefer not to.

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    3. Actually the argument is more subtle.The Haredim (or some Haredim) are suggesting that learning Torah TOGETHER will protect, or will protect more than learning in ISOLATION or even with larger groups using technology. It would be easy enough to follow the rules and stay at home and learn and satisfy the demands of both the government and the Gedolim. But this does not seem to be good enough. Why? I think there are a number of reasons. First, by allowing / following the government dictates, you might be passively acknowledging / legitimizing their authority along with the authority of the Gedolim's authority. That isn't allowed in the Haredi worldview. Second, it is easier to influence people by gathering them around you on a face to face, daily basis. That loss of power to influence them could spread to a whole host of other issues, which threatens the power structure in the Haredi world. The Gedolim must be seen to be in control even if we are seeing that some in the Haredi world are angry or at least confused by the mixed messages they received, especially at the beginning of the crisis. This latest statement by Rav Kanievsky, highlighted in Rav Slifkin's article shows that there is still confusion. Some of the Haredim are being painted into a corner.

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    4. Yes, JD, I agree with what you wrote.

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  3. The Torah protects and saves ( “saves and protects” on Yom Tov) only in its absence. Why anyone who claims to be rational remains in this cult is a mystery to me.

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    1. I would like the Zoo Rabbi to answer this post. From where does he actually see a rational thread that follows a tradition that yields the religion that we have nowadays.

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  4. JPost: R' Gershon Edelstein has spoken against opening schools because it's too dangerous.
    Why do we need to ask any rabbi these questions?
    הנשאל הרי זה מגונה והשואל הרי זה שופך דמים

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    1. Because Torah may have a higher standard of פיקוח נפש. The government is ready to open, but R. Edelstein thinks we should wait longer. Not an irrational position.

      Yakov

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    2. Yeah, that is simply ludicrous. See, these are the people who separate their fish forks from their main course, because someone 2000 years ago said something that has been misread and misinterpreted to mean "I need a separate fish fork!" because of an alleged SAKANA (see M"A). But when it comes to things that we can prove are a real sakana now, Judaism seems slow, sluggish in response, or just plain clueless.

      Stop putting your eggs in the metal box in the back of that religious pick-up truck.

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    3. Let us be clear, as we are on a rationalist website. "Torah" doesn't keep "Jews together for an [anything]". That which is being practiced is a filtered-distilled-evolved rabbinic judaism that has little to do with the past. You think that Rabbi Akiva himself would avoid listening to music randomly before or after a sefira date that was non-existent at the time he lived?

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    4. "You think that Rabbi Akiva himself would avoid listening to music randomly before or after a sefira date that was non-existent at the time he lived?"
      I'm sorry--I don't understand your point. Certainly, the fact that 24,000 of his students died during the Sefirah period would be cause for mourning. And the fact that the plague stopped on a certain date would be cause for celebration (or at least no longer mourning).

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  5. First quantify thisApril 18, 2020 at 9:57 PM

    איגרת תחית המתים
    וכבר זכר בתורה שהוא מופת מתמיד, רצוני לומר, תקון הענינים עם העבודה והפסדם עם המרי, אמר (דברים כ"ח מ"ו): "והיו בך לאות ולמופת ובזרעך עד עולם". ומפני זה אמרו (נדרים ל"ג): אין מזל לישראל! רצונם לומר, שתקונם והפסדם אינם לסבה טבעית ולא על מנהג המציאות, אלא נתלים בעבודה ובמרי, וזה אות יותר גדול מכל אות. וכבר בארנו שזה בדין צבור ובדין יחיד, כמו שיראה מן המעשה ההוא והוא נאות לאומרו "ובזרעך עד עולם", ומן המאמר המפורסם באומה (ברכות ה' א'): ראה אדם יסורים באים עליו יפשפש במעשיו. והוא הענין בעצמו הוא המכון גם כן באמרו (דברים י"ד י"ט): "אשר חלק ה' אלהיך אותם לכל העמים תחת כל השמים ואתכם לקח ה'", רצונו לומר, שעניניהם אינם נוהגים ענין מנהג שאר האומות אבל יחדם השם בזה המופת הגדול שיהיו פעולותיהם תמיד נקשרות בתקון עניניהם או בהפסדם.

    Maimonides' Epistle on Resurrection
    The Torah has already mentioned that it is a constant wonder; I mean to say, matters going well with service [of God] and their not going well with rebellion, as it says: And they shall be for you as a sign and wonder, and in your descendants, forever and ever. And that is why [the Sages] said: There is no mazal for Israel! They mean that their fortune and misfortune are not due to natural cause and not [dependent] on normal reality, but depend on service and rebellion, and this is the sign that is greater than any sign. And we have already explained this is for the public and for the individual, as seen from that incident, and that is befitting that which it says, "And in your descendants forever." And from the statement that is well-known in the nation: If a person sees suffering befall him he should search his deeds. And this very matter is what is meant in that which it says: That Hashem, your G-d, has given to all the nations under all the heavens, but Hashem has taken you," which means that their matters are not conducted in the manner of the other nations, but Hashem has set them apart with this great wonder, that their deeds are always linked to their affairs going well or not going well.

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  6. Meiri, Provencial 13th century Jewish scholarApril 18, 2020 at 10:58 PM

    Rabbi Slifkin, shame on you!
    I already clarified in an earlier post:
    http://www.rationalistjudaism.com/2017/06/another-view-on-how-torah-protects.html?showComment=1498115060171#c566742682240295038

    The Torah protects the general world in natural ways and protects Jews in supernatural ways.
    You are still shamelessly ignoring my commentary to Maseches Makkos daf yud!

    בית הבחירה למאירי מסכת מכות דף י עמוד א
    חביבין דברי תורה מכל שאר דברים אפי' מהקרבת קרבנות הוא שאמר הקדוש ברוך הוא לדוד טוב לי יום בחצריך מאלף טוב יום אחד שאתה עוסק בתורה לפני מאלף עולות שעתיד שלמה בנך להקריב לפנ וזכותה עומד לאדם יותר על כל שאר מצות דרשו רבותינו עומדות היו רגלינו בשעריך ירושלים מה גרם לנו שעמדו רגלינו במלחמת שערי ירושלים שהיו עוסקים בהם בתורה:

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    1. Let's enter into this again fresh.

      You recognize that the interpretation of the Meiri with regard to the protection of Torah is in seeming conflict between the passage in Sotah and the passage in Makkot. To resolve this, you have created a distinction (which, as far as I can tell, is stated nowhere explicitly in the Meiri's writings, the only hint to it being through this contradiction):

      1. Sotah refers to protecting the world through Torah, Meiri sees that as a natural protection through wisdom

      2. Makkot refers to the war to defend Jerusalem as being protected by Torah - this is only for the Jews, who get a supernatural protection through Torah.

      In the previous conversation we had, I suggested a simpler solution was at hand.

      1. Sotah says Torah is a protection - Meiri says because of the wisdom it represents.

      2. Makkot says it is a protection in war. Surely this could just as easily be referring to the wisdom the Torah grants to fight wars (strategy), and having a well-run society.

      Of the two possibilities, the second seems to me the simplest. Occam's razor?

      You responded (condescendingly) that if the Meiri does not explain what it means that through the merit of Torah the gates of Jerusalem were protected, he must take it literally, and therefore there must be a distinction. However, having done some research into the Meiri's position, it turns out we are both correct, but I am more correct.

      In Meiri's commentary to Psalms on the verse עומדות היו רגלינו, he actually writes that the merit of Torah to protect the gates of Jerusalem is: 1) through its quality guidance 2) through its merit.

      So which one is it? And what does he mean by its merit?

      Meiri refers to Yoma 38b, where it states based on a verse in Samuel that the righteous are the pillars of the world - Meiri in Psalms takes this to mean that without those who engage in Torah, all would crumble. Certainly, that seems to be referring to the entire world, not to the Jewish people, unlike your distinction.

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    2. @Aryeh:
      Even with your approach, you are conceding that Meiri ascribes wisdom and insight to Torah scholars into realms beyond Torah--like war strategy and proper functioning of society--derived from their knowledge of Torah.
      Sounds like the classic definition of Daas Torah to me...(leaving aside the specific issue of who qualifies as possessing Daas Torah)

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    3. @Jewish Observer

      "Torah", as Meiri makes very clear time and time again, refers to rational wisdom. See his commentary to the words "Torat Imecha" in Mishlei.

      Also see, for example, in his commentary to Avot, where he says that when Shimon HaTzaddik declares the Torah upon which the world stands: והוא הנרמז במילת תורה כלומר דבר שיש עליו מצד השכל

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    4. @Aryeh is correct. Rambam says that observing Torah does three things: teach truths about G-d and helps improves people and society. The Torah does not, however, protect people from coronavirus unless you use the wisdom of the Torah (as I have shown in previous excursus) to follow its rules about social distancing, eat healthy, exercise, etc.

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    5. Why should lend credence to Meiri or anyone else regarding the unknowable and unfalsifiable. Here is RaLBaG (Gersonides) who claims that Hadhem’s omniscience is limited. Who is right and who is wrong? Or is it more likely that both of them are wrong.

      "The view that God does not have foreknowledge of moral decisions which was advanced by ibn Daud and Gersonides (Levi ben Gershom) is not quite as isolated as Rabbi Bleich indicates, and it enjoys the support of two highly respected Acharonim, Rabbi Yeshayahu Horowitz (Shelah haKadosh) and Rabbi Chaim ibn Attar (Or haHayim haKadosh). The former takes the views that God cannot know which moral choices people will make, but this does not impair His perfection. The latter considers that God could know the future if He wished, but deliberately refrains from using this ability in order to avoid the conflict with free will."[7]

      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gersonides#Views_on_God_and_omniscience

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    6. You raise an interesting point. Yes, Ralbag, as you write, felt that G-d does not know people as individuals. These wise Jews, like Gersonides, Maimonides and ibn Ezra felt this was correct. For example, Abraham ibn Ezra felt that G-d knows generalities, the laws of nature or the existence of the human species, but not the particular details, the man or people as individuals, for example. Thus, G-d may not be all-knowing.

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    7. @Aryeh:
      The point still stands: When he equates Torah with rational wisdom, he isn't excluding Torah knowledge from that category! So he is still saying that Torah is a rational wisdom which confers correct insights into realms beyond the specific expertise of Torah knowledge.

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    8. @Jewish Observer

      No, he means that the word "Torah" is code for "all knowledge". The Torah itself, i.e. Torah alone, is not all knowledge.

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    9. @Aryeh:
      That's really twisting the Meiri into pretzels to avoid an uncomfortable conclusion.

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    10. Maimonides believed God knows particulars.
      The usual YA

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  7. You put a loaded phrase, "the Zionist government", into the blocked off quote, as though that was what the Yated had written. You put it in parentheses, not brackets.
    The actual words - assuming that the second=hand source you cite from is correct - is התורה ציוותה עלינו לשמור על עצמנו עוד לפני שהם המציאו את החוקים שלהם. You see anything in there about "the Zionist Government"?

    So disappointing that you continue to do this.

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    1. And who is the "they" in that sentence?
      Please.
      Stop muddying the waters / lying.

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    2. Fozziebear - if an amharetz wants to believe that "they" can be translated as "the Zionist government", that's his business. Of if an amaharetz is too ignorant to understand how fabricating a phrase like "the Zionist government" is intended to make the portrayed speaker sound backward and benighted, that also his business.

      But RNS is not such a fool. He writes the language well, and he understands salesmanship. He wanted to get people's attention, and he did - by a false quote. He gets high kudos for not shying away from tough criticism, which too many others, in our world or without, refuse to face. At the same time, he has a history of false, or at best, badly exaggerated attributions. Because I support the overall programme of rationalism (though not the nastiness and personal sniping often masquerading for it), I feel it a shame that an intelligent exponent of it like RNS harms his credibility with such irresponsible claims.

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    3. You didn't answer the question, DF.

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    4. @DF

      Not sure what your issue is. If it’s that RNS used parentheses instead of brackets then yes, a technically correct point, but this is done in casual writing the whole time (not to mention that in the context of the quotes it’s pretty obvious that the parenthetical part is an explanation by the quoter”.

      If your point is that “the Zionist government” is a poor explanation for the “they” I strongly disagree. It’s an decent explanation. An alternative like “the government” would not bring out the nuance of the “they” / “their” language. It’s clearly a “that government” with “their laws” so “the Zionist” government is about as decent as you could come up with. To substantiate your point you would need to come up with a better alternative that still captures that nuance. Even if you could it’s hardly a strong point as RNS’ one works fine. At best it’s criticism of a very subtle error.

      It’s pretty clear to anyone that has followed this blog for any reasonable period of time that RNS has a chip on his shoulder vis a vis the haredi system. We also all know why. Not a subject that RNS has exactly shied away from. If there were some alternative “objective observers” willing to call out, right in the open without pulling any punches, the disaster that is haredi society then you may have a point that it is best left to them. But to my knowledge there is none (or none that write in English and from a religious perspective) so maybe it takes someone with a chip on their shoulder to do a decent job of it.

      If your intention really is to improve the nuance in RNS approach you’d be far better off suggesting an alternative and coming across less confrontational (“a better interpretation of ‘them’ would be... and brackets are technically more appropriate than parentheses for...).

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    5. yoni2,

      while it may not be your main point, you statement "or none that write in English and from a religious perspective" shows an underlying assumption that is neither justified nor true.

      while the name of the blog is "rationalist judaism", and the term rational is frequently used, it is in fact a misnomer. the positions that NS takes are no more or less rational than those he opposes. both positions are equally rational if you accept their underlying assumptions about the nature of reality. it is the underlying assumptions that are being disputed, and such assumptions are not subject to being evaluated by "reason", but are rather either axiomatically true or false.

      what NS is actually arguing for is not a rationalist judaism, but rather a secularized judaism. and this is because his underlying assumptions about the nature of reality are essentially secular. (if you are not familiar with the difference between secular vs religious views of the nature of reality, i would be happy to discuss it with you, but this is not the forum).

      this is very blatant in the case of how NS views RMBM. for the first few hundred years after RMBM appeared on the scene of jewish thought, he was seen by both his supporters and detractors as a religious figure. his words were understood, accepted, disputed, all within the context of a fundamentally religious worldview.
      benedict spinoza was the first philosopher to argue that in fact RMBM was a secular thinker, and that any allusions that he made to a religious world view were in fact insincere. of course spinoza and his later cohorts had an explicit agenda to secularize judaism, and therefore found it useful to portray RMBM in this way. later secular scholars such as leo strauss and those who came after him in academia adapted this perspective.

      i am uncertain as to whether or not NS is familiar with the history of these ideas, nor does it matter. the key point is that he has accepted the secular perspective and it is at the very root of both his arguments and his view of them being supported by RMBM.

      one need not take a position on whether NS is correct or not, but it is a fundamental error to think that it is just another "religious perspective". to think that way is to miss his entire point.

      a neighbor and friend

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    6. @ neighbour / friend (although not friendly enough to share your name apparently. While on that point, neighbour is an interesting term to use right now).

      You raise some interesting points. Before I start I would note that my assumptions were so far as I am aware both justified and true. I was using the term religious in a practical not philosophical sense. Ultimately RNS is not advocating for a secular way of life. You may believe that the natural outcome of his thought process should lead there, but that is not the perspective he is writing from. My point is that there are no shortage of writers who openly attach the charedi system placing a secular approach (practice) as the natural alternative. RNS does not do this and stands more or less alone (in my knowledge) in his willingness to be open about that perspective.

      To your historical points. I find them very interesting and thought provoking. Unfortunately I am not well inough informed of the historical context to reply in detail. However it does seem to me that likely RMBM was writing in a world where there was far less differentiation between a secular and religious perspective to knowledge, nature etc. He was, after all, writing in the pre-scientific era. Thus the later split in what perspective he was taking is somewhat irrelevant from his perspective.

      Back in the clasical period it was possible to take what would currently be seen as a "secular" perspective and justify a religious worldview without making any jumps in logic. It seems to me that this is no longer possible. However no one really takes a "fully" secular or religious approach as there is not enough data for the former (nor will there ever be) and taking purely the latter would just end up too impractical therefore everyone ends up being somewhere in between, the question is where. Therefore your assertion that RNS is taking a "secular" worldview while his detractors are taking a "religious" one is, to my view, manufactured. Certainly RNS is taking a "more" secular approach, but that is not so far as I am aware under question.

      Happy to chat this through. Presumably you have my number!

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  8. I will reiterate what I wrote in a previous comment. Rav Chaim Kanievksy and Gershon Edelstein said the “Torah Protects” and that “canceling yeshivah is more dangerous than coronavirus.” This is not true. The Torah does not protect Jews from the Coronavirus epidemic. The Torah does, however, bind Jews together for a millennium. Thankfully, the rabbis ruled Chareidi communities to close yeshivahs, shuls, and street minyan (following rules of social distancing) due to coronavirus.

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  9. A very important article addressing a very serious issue:

    https://www.timesofisrael.com/cabinet-approves-easing-of-restrictions-including-outdoor-prayers-for-up-to-19/

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    1. Rabbi Slifkin - what do you think about the recent guidelines? Will you join the street minyanim?

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  10. " but up until that point Torah was indeed protecting, and it was therefore a pity that we had to lose that protective power."

    Would he care to explain to the victims and their families who contracted this disease before the doctors ordered the yeshivas to shut down, why the Torah did not protect them, and why they died either before or after the doctors' orders were complied with?

    " “Torah protects the world – i.e., that the Torah scholar influences others, and his wisdom enables society to endure.” In his view, the meaning of the statement that "Torah protects" is simply that Torah scholars, with their wisdom, influence society for the better, thereby enabling it to thrive."

    Regardless of how literally you take this statement of Meiri (seems to me like it's just a general statement that good Torah scholars are a positive force in the world), regardless of interpretation it is clear that temporarily closing yeshivas and shuls does not make Torah scholars magically empty their brains of Torah knowledge. It doesn't even prevent them from learning more if they are diligent enough and resourceful enough to study on their own (or with a chevrusa through zoom or phone). If a man only begrudgingly learns because he is forced to show up to the yeshiva and be on its schedule - what value does his learning have in the first place? Are we really losing something by cutting him off from the yeshiva or are we actually GAINING from that excision?

    Now that the Daas Govt allows prayer again, how soon until new outbreaks occur?
    Will we be in "Torah is Protecting" mode, or "Torah is no longer protecting because of doctors' orders" mode? I want to know ahead of time so no one can use hindsight bias to make their arguments later when outbreaks happen again God forbid.

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  11. Who do you think he's referring to with the words, "she-heim himtzi-u et hachukim shelahem"?

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  12. This virus is new and the data available up to now are difficult to interpret, because there where different amounts of tests at different times and in different populations.
    However, are there any statistics about fatalities for example from flu, which show the cases in the Haredi world compared to the let's say secular (Dati Leumi also has Yeshivas and Synagoges?

    Could not find anything, however, the data should exist.

    That would be a good striking argument for a Yeshiva shut-down or opening.

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  13. If you think that Rav Chaim has any idea of what is being said in his name or currently has the mental facility to understand what people are asking him, see this, from several months ago. Of course, the question is what it says about a culture that exploits (and ultimately dishonors) him and why people still choose to believe that he, rather than his devious handlers, are guiding them.

    https://youtu.be/mJ39mccHEOM?t=13212

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. YouTube link not working.

      Delete
    2. את רבם דקרו

      Yakov

      Delete
    3. Youtube link is plain text. Therefore, copy and paste it into your browser.

      Delete
  14. Notice that the organizers in the Dirshu video, knowing full well what his actual condition is, do not even allow Rav Chaim to address the crowd. (Yet, this obviously infirm man is promoted as being a functioning "leader," even when it comes to complex issues that are obviously beyond his ability to grasp.)

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  15. Well, how much does Torah protect and save?
    You don't know, Rabbi? How about Dvarim 28: And it will be, if you do not obey the Lord, your God, to observe to fulfill all His commandments and statutes which I am commanding you this day, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you... The Lord will strike you with consumption, fever, illnesses with burning fevers, a disease which causes unquenchable thirst, with the sword, with blast, and with yellowing...

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    Replies
    1. Are you implying that we can't observe and fulfill all His commandments and statutes if yeshivas are closed?

      Delete
    2. Seems my inquiry from above is best directed at you, Lazar.

      Temporarily closing yeshivas and shuls does not make Torah scholars magically empty their brains of Torah knowledge. It doesn't even prevent them from learning more if they are diligent enough and resourceful enough to study on their own (or with a chevrusa through zoom or phone). If a man only begrudgingly learns because he is forced to show up to the yeshiva and be on its schedule - what value does his learning have in the first place? Are we really losing something by cutting him off from the yeshiva or are we actually GAINING from that excision?

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    3. Note that Israeli Yeshiva students by and large don't have Internet, ZOOM, etc to learn with teachers, chavrusa, etc. Anyway, the question was if the Torah protects.

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    4. So maybe they need to start getting internet so that if there's ever another emergency they'll have the tools they need to do mitzvot. When Sukkot comes, you get a lulav. When Purim comes, you get a megillah.

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    5. Lazar, you cited a pasuk that calls on Jews to observe the commandments.
      Closing the yeshivot doesn't prevent anyone from observing the commandment of Talmud Torah.

      Pikuach Nefesh is among Hashem's commandments and statutes which we must observe. So how is the study of Torah set apart by this pasuk as protecting us specifically? Citing this verse would make an argument that all commandments protect us. If we go by the oral Torah in how they are delineated by the rabbis, then it would appear that pikuach nefesh takes precedent to fulfill this verse that you cited. NOT Talmud Torah.

      Delete
  16. What does "eilah vaRechev v'Eileh Basoosim" mean if not that we rely at least in part on G-d?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're missing a vital distinction.
      G-d protects. We pray to Him, and we attribute our successes (and failures) to Him.
      We know this to be true precisely because it says so in the Torah (and the rest of Nach), very explicitly.

      However, nowhere does it say that learning Torah in and of itself protects.

      Even David HaMelech's ode to Torah, Tehillim 119, does not say that.

      Learning Torah gives meaning to our lives, it helps us through challenges, but it does not offer physical protection.

      Delete

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