Friday, April 24, 2020

"Torah Leadership" Is Not What You Think

This week I was privileged to be mentioned, though unfortunately not by name, in the Forward. The article was written by Rabbi Avi Shafran, director of public affairs and spokesman for Agudath Israel of America. Rabbi Shafran describes how many years ago, he got into trouble with the Novominsker Rebbe and others for an article that he published in the Jewish Observer about Moses Mendelssohn, which wasn't derogatory enough about him. Rabbi Shafran proudly describes how he respected the Gedolim's critique:
I could have taken the reproach as a personal insult. Another Orthodox writer, when things he wrote were criticized by some rabbinic leaders, did just that, responding with antipathy toward his critics and letting a thin skin prevent him from thereafter contributing his talents to the mainstream Orthodox world.

But I knew something important that the writer apparently wasn’t ready to consider. We might think that great men are mistaken but not only can we be wrong, even if we’re convinced that we’re right, those luminaries are still no less great, no less worthy of our veneration.

Judaism has no equivalent to the Catholic doctrine of papal infallibility. There is an entire tractate of the Talmud, Horiut, predicated on the assumption that even members of the ancient Sanhedrin were capable of erring, even in halachic matters.

But it is nonetheless a principle of Jewish thought that those most imbued with Torah-knowledge and who have internalized a large degree of the perfection of values and refinement of character that the Torah idealizes are thereby rendered most qualified to offer an authentic Jewish perspective on matters of import to Jews. Expert doctors, too, even if they are fallible, as they must be, are still the most qualified people to offer medical advice.

Torah leaders, like parents may seem to children, might seem unreasonable at times. But, just as parents always remain parents, Torah leaders remain Torah leaders.
Tragically, Rabbi Shafran is making several mistakes. I'm not going into a detailed explanation of why I myself had no reason to listen to the Torah leaders who banned my books, insisting that there was no age of dinosaurs and that the Talmud was correct in referring to spontaneous generation - I've already written a list of reasons on this page as to why I didn't need to listen to them. (In brief: They didn't understand modern science, they didn't know about rabbinic scholarship on these issues, they didn't know what my books actually said, they didn't know what the purpose of the books was, they were misinformed about the effects of the books, and they were ignorant of, or rejected, the entire rationalist school of thought.) Instead, I'd like to make more general points that are more broadly applicable.

First, "Torah" is simply too vague a term. There is Tanach and Talmud and Halachah and Kabbalah and Machshavah and Theology. Those who are renowned as expert Talmudists are often not expert theologians. There are plenty of matters of import to Jews that Talmudists and Halachists simply know very little about.

Second, although devout adherents of modern mystical doctrines of Daas Torah believe that single-minded dedication to Torah gives one divine insight into areas outside of Torah, classical Judaism maintains that being secluded from the world gives one less expertise, not more. Adherents of modern mystical Daas Torah believe that Rav Chaim Kanievsky, entirely isolated in his Bnei Brak apartment, is all the more qualified to provide leadership on communal issues - the rest of us strongly disagree.

Third, two people can study exactly the same sources and have diametrically opposed approaches to them, because they have completely different worldviews. Rambam believed in naturalizing miracles - others see that as heretical. There is no reason why the leadership of a "great Torah authority" who is entirely locked into a particular worldview should be accepted by someone with an entirely different worldview. There is no comparison to "expert doctors"; it's more like saying that an average, scientifically-educated Western person should submit to an "expert healer" in China. It's a completely different system of thought. 

Fourth, it is simply not the case that a great Torah sage is a great leader. Leadership is much more complicated than that. I've quoted Rav Eliezer Melamed on this many times before, but it is worth quoting him again: "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."

Fifth, expertise in Torah does not even necessarily make one wise. The Sages themselves pointed out that one can be a Torah scholar (by their standards!) and yet lack da'at - and they described such a person as being worse than a putrid carcass! On this point, it is crucial to read Rav Aharon Lichtenstein's essay, "If There Is No “Da’at,” How Can We Have Leadership?".

Sixth, the "the perfection of values and refinement of character that the Torah idealizes" that Rabbi Shafran idealizes is somewhat of a pipe-dream. No matter how selfless and kind a person is, people have biases, as well as limitations on understanding new concerns. None other than Chaim Dovid Zweibel, Executive Vice-President of Agudath Israel of America, conceded that the Council of Torah Sages of Agudath Israel of America dropped the ball on dealing with abuse and molestation in yeshivos, and that the issue only started to be taken seriously after bloggers kept pushing it.

As further examples of the above points, one could point to how most of Rabbi Shafran's revered "Torah leaders" supported Leib Tropper's takeover of conversions worldwide, even though it was apparent to many people (including myself) that this would be a terrible mistake - as they were later forced to admit. And the Council of Torah Sages of Agudath Israel of America - the body for which Rabbi Shafran is a spokesman - could not even issue guidance for people to vaccinate their children, since three of the members of the Council are themselves anti-vaxxers!

Finally, while Rabbi Shafran would like to believe that the leaders of Agudas Yisroel are the leaders of Klal Yisroel, that's simply not the case. His so-called "Torah leaders" are not the leaders of all Torah-observant Jews. They are not the leaders of Religious Zionism or Modern Orthodoxy or countless Chassidic sects. Even many "black-hat" communities also have a completely different model of rabbinic authority, which empowers rabbis on a local level, rather than claiming that there are a few "Gedolim" which everyone has to follow.

So, Rabbi Shafran, you are welcome - perhaps even obligated - to follow the "Gedolei Torah" that you select as your leaders, whether they are young-earthers or anti-vaxxers. But the rest of us "Torah Jews" are under no obligation whatsoever to respect their leadership. Fortunately, we have plenty of wonderful rabbinic leaders of our own.

(If you'd like to subscribe to this blog via email, use the form on the right of the page, or send me an email and I will add you.)

86 comments:

  1. I love how the chareidi American world call themselves chareidi and instead refer to themselves as the "mainstream Orthodox world." As if the YU/Modox world is some side sect with no relevance to "mainstream Orthodoxy."

    ReplyDelete
  2. I remember that article. It was rebuffed by R. Schwab in the JO with the quotes from Mendelssohn's works proving that Shafran was ignorant on the subject. No Daas Torah was required for Shafran to admit he was wrong- only the intellectual honesty.

    Yakov

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Was the Maharam Shick similarly ignorant on the subject (per his teshuvah cited in leiman's article "the hatam Sofer and his attitude towards Mendelssohn's About")? He says he read through the entire biur and found nothing wrong. Even if you "hold" like the CS (kimat a Daas yochid at the time), the opposing views surely isn't "ignorant."

      Delete
    2. "Was the Maharam Shick..."

      Irony warning: The Maharam Schick was opposed to Daas Torah- he wrote:
      ‫מה‬ ‫שאמרנו‬ ‫שצריכין‬ ‫לבטל‬ ‫דעתו‬ ‫היינו‬ ‫נגד‬ ‬הבורא‬ ב״ה ‫אבל‬ ‫נגד‬ ‫בני‬ ‫אדם‬ ‫אפי׳‬ ‫אם‬ ‫רואה‬ ‫‬‫מת״ח ‫אפי׳‬ ‫אם‬ ‫רואה‬ ‫מרבו‬ ‫דבר‬ ‫שהוא‬ ‫נגד‬ ‫שכלו‬ ‫ודעתו‬ ‫אסור‬ ‫לעשות‬‫ כן‬

      Delete
    3. Ephraim,
      I'm not arguing for daas torah, just for plausibility of a specific perspective on MM.

      Delete
    4. Great quote, where is it from?

      Delete
    5. מהר"ם שיק על התורה
      Beginning of בשלח

      Delete
    6. R Schwab did not make any argument whatsoever for the view that Ramad was an apikores. He made some assertions, and then he provided some passages out of context, without any indication of what he took the passages to mean or how they supported his assertions. Among the passages is a rumour from a newspaper that R Raphael ha-Cohen of Altona had banned Ramad's translation -- a rumour that turned out to be false. Also included is Ramad's support for the rationalist view that only time-bound truths concerning the personal relationship between Am Yisrael and HKBH are peculiar to Judaism, while all eternal truths -- truths of logic, mathematics, physics, metaphysics and morality -- are equally accessible to all people. This is a rationalist view, but it is a major tradition within Judaism and could not be rejected as apikorsus without serious consequences, as R Slifkin repeatedly points out. Moreover, R Schwab did not mention R Hirsch's acknowledged debt to Ramad. In the 18th letter, R Hirsch criticises both Rambam and Ramad for failing to adequately synthesize Torah and derekh eretz, but he also notes in a footnote that things might have been otherwise if Ramad had developed the hints about the symbolism of Jewish practice given in Jerusalem. It is not hard to see that Horeb is exactly R Hirsch's attempt to complete Ramad's unfinished project. Moreover, R Hirsch repeatedly cites Ramad's colleague, R Naftali Hertz Wessely/Weisel -- who actually was put under a virtual herem, unlike Ramad himself -- in his commentary on Vayikra. The attitude towards Ramad in, say, Galicia and Hungary, was very different from the attitude towards him in Germany, Lithuania and Bohemia-Moravia, where he was regarded as a forerunner of Torah im derekh eretz. In the Jewish Observer affair, the Galician-Hungarian Orthodox antipathy towards Ramad, which was formed long after his death and on the basis of almost total ignorance of his writings, was affirmed as the official party line of Agudah, and the traditional German-Lithuanian view was swept aside as if it had never existed.

      Delete
  3. Among the errors is the example of R Shafran's that you quote. Moses Mendelsohn was not a navi. He kept the four chilqei Shulchan Arukh. His Bi'ur was kosher -- it was even utilized in Volozhin! (See HaYeshivah haLiva'it beHithavahh, Dr Shaul Shtampfer, pg 213.)

    That critique of his article not being harsh enough pits the Novominsker zt"l against the opinion of the Netziv. Which one better studied Jewish History?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yonatan Eyebeschutz was also an admirer of MM. So was the הכתב והקבלה.
      Still, it seems to be unacceptable to discus these truths of history to the masses.

      Delete
    2. I will add that Moses Mendelssohn, who was a rationalist, helped bring the Rambam Guide to recognition.

      Delete
  4. There is no such thing as 'daas torah'. We have a written torah (even the baal peh one)and if it isnt there it isnt daas torah.The Satmar Rebbe whether you agree with him or not didnt rely on his daas torah but wrote and proved whatever he said, from his understanding of the torah. No rov has ever written a tshuva saying this is daas torah without proving it. That is why I am on the internet which I believe does more good than harm. For instance in niddah, the rabbonim who dont use it pasken wrongly and are mattir an issur doraysah which carries the penalty of kores. The same with shabbos and many other things. Even amongst chareidim many are on the internet and smartphones. I am certainly not alone.I think you are wrong, chareidim dont trust daas torah anymore than you or I do. Of course it is hard to go against a godol, the problem today is they dont know their limitations. Once they are acclaimed 'godol' that automatically means they know everything. There is not much one can do about it.

    ReplyDelete
  5. "Rabbi" Avi Shafran is the Baghdad Bob of the Charedi world. (Please, please, hold your applause until the end of the show...)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Interesting essay. In short, I agree with the rabbi that rational Jews are not obligated to follow the Chassidic leadership. I will add that Moses Mendelssohn was a rationalist who helped bring the Guide to recognition.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I just listed to a 55 second audio clip from the Stoliner Rebbe.
    He really nailed it.
    https://matzav.com/listen-stoliner-rebbe-chadorim-must-not-open-yet-we-must-maintain-vigilance/

    ReplyDelete
  8. "Judaism has no equivalent to the Catholic doctrine of papal infallibility. There is an entire tractate of the Talmud, Horiut, predicated on the assumption that even members of the ancient Sanhedrin were capable of erring, even in halachic matters."

    Yes, there is the famed Talmudic quote which says: “If the early scholars were sons of angels, we are sons of men; and if the earlier scholars were sons of men, we are like asses.” But some have argued that this should be read as saying: “my teacher was a very wise man” or “I am really not as wise as my teacher.” They should be read as statements of humility.

    Interestingly enough, but to the surprise of many, Maimonides did not believe in the theory of the decline of the generations. There is much that could be said here. Indeed, Menachem Kellner dedicated a whole book to it. As the quote [Shafran] above shockingly suggests, the early rabbis could even be wrong in halakhic decisions. In contrast, Maimonides felt that Jews do not have to accept rabbinic writing in non-halakhic matters, but must do so in halakhah. Coming back to the decline of generations, scientists today accept the idea that science progresses. IQs are always rising. Even Maimonides admitted that people will know more science than he does.

    More importantly, Maimonides felt that the talmudic rabbis were not experts in science, working only with the primitive science of their day, and as a result, were had frequently wrong. Thus, it is no surprise that they were in error in matters of science. (Guide to the Perplexed, III:14) In contrast, some, especially Chassidic adherents to modern mystical Daas Tora, have gone so far to accept what rabbis say without question, even on non-halakhic matters.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Fourth, it is simply not the case that a great Torah sage is a great leader.

    More importantly, one need not be a Torah scholar to be a good leader. In our tradition, Moshe was the greatest leader we have ever had, and he was chosen long before he learned any Torah, never mind all of it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Long before he learned any Torah"? Really? He only knew how to kill people by uttering Divine names - but no Torah. He understood that it could be the Lashon Hara that prevented the geulah - but no Torah. Etc. etc.

      Delete
    2. Midrash with only a tenuous basis in the text is the opinion of its author. There is no obligation to believe or accept any of it. What we know is that he was raised in the palace and he had no tolerance for persecutors of helpless people.

      It's interesting that you think he knew any Torah before it had even been given.

      Delete
  10. Where some of the gedolim of yesteryear, such as the chazon ish the chofetz chaim or r chaim brisker, not entitled to that moniker because they were not engaged with the world and spent most of their time cloistered in their homes learning? Were they not entitled to decry the maskilim as such because they did not dabble in theology?

    ReplyDelete
  11. RDNS,

    You don't like when people complain about the tone you sometimes use when writing about Chazal or the charedi Gdoley Torah. But sometimes you let the words slip out.

    Maybe you'll justify your words or say you misspoke, but I think it was a Freudian slip. You wrote "But the rest of us 'Torah Jews' are under no obligation whatsoever to respect their leadership." Perhaps you meant to say that you "are under no obligation whatsoever to FOLLOW their leadership". But I think that the halachah does require you to respect their leadership.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Can you define exactly what you mean by "respect their leadership"?

      Delete
    2. You said it first. What did you mean? I think the simple understanding is: Respect their leadership. Perhaps you meant respect it as the leadership which you follow, and you meant that you are not required to respect them as your own leader - but that wasn't clear.

      I meant that they need to be respected as leaders of a Torah community whether you follow them or not. And that includes respecting their Torah even if you disagree with it. It's the Torah and it's agents that are to be respected.

      Delete
    3. "I meant that they need to be respected as leaders of a Torah community whether you follow them or not. And that includes respecting their Torah even if you disagree with it. It's the Torah and it's agents that are to be respected."

      Again, what does that mean? Is one allowed to critique their statements?

      Delete
    4. RNS, Perhaps the rashi in the beginning of bechukosai is informative להפרכם את בריתי. כּוֹפֵר בָּעִקָּר; הֲרֵי שֶׁבַע עֲבֵרוֹת, הָרִאשׁוֹנָה גוֹרֶרֶת הַשְּׁנִיָּה, וְכֵן עַד הַשְּׁבִיעִית, וְאֵלּוּ הֵן: לֹא לָמַד, וְלֹא עָשָׂה, מוֹאֵס בַּאֲחֵרִים הָעוֹשִׂים, שׂוֹנֵא אֶת הַחֲכָמִים, מוֹנֵעַ אֶת הָאֲחֵרִים, כּוֹפֵר בַּמִּצְווֹת, כּוֹפֵר בָּעִקָּר:

      Delete
    5. You're saying that the Gedolim fall into this category because of how they condemn the approach of many Rishonim?

      Delete
    6. But I think that the halachah does require you to respect their leadership.

      I'm sure they and their followers think so, too. But that doesn't make it correct.

      Delete
    7. Don't be facetious you know what I mean. I hope you are not up to number 4 on the list

      Delete
    8. RDNS,

      "Again, what does that mean? Is one allowed to critique their statements?"

      Let's leave "allowed" out of it for now. Does a guy fresh out of engineering school revere somebody who has been studying engineering for 60+ years (including theory *and* case studies) even if he never built a bridge? Even if the fresh-out-of-school guy would have some novel information that the old guy hasn't seen yet, he would fill him in and "respect" his opinion an authoritative one about how engineering relates to that field. And even if that old guy really didn't know much about that other field, that still doesn't mean the the fresh-out-of-school guy knows enough engineering to judge the old guy's opinion. (I suspect that you will find a reason to discount this analogy.)

      (Note: I also happen to think that this analogy is not so accurate, but for a very different reason than you might. But I thought it's one you might relate to.)

      Delete
    9. RDNS,

      "Yeah, the analogy is *totally* off."

      Would you explain how you think so?

      Delete
    10. Does a guy fresh out of engineering school revere somebody who has been studying engineering for 60+ years (including theory *and* case studies) even if he never built a bridge?

      Not likely.

      Even if the fresh-out-of-school guy would have some novel information that the old guy hasn't seen yet, he would fill him in and "respect" his opinion an authoritative one about how engineering relates to that field.

      That's not an example of reverence.

      And even if that old guy really didn't know much about that other field, that still doesn't mean the the fresh-out-of-school guy knows enough engineering to judge the old guy's opinion.

      And it doesn't mean that the new guy doesn't. I think one of the issues you have with criticism is that you automatically discount anyone who has less experience or knowledge. But you don't need a vast repository of knowledge to point out a mistake. You only need to know enough to know it's a mistake.

      Delete
    11. "Does a guy fresh out of engineering school revere somebody who has been studying engineering for 60+ years (including theory *and* case studies) even if he never built a bridge?"

      The Gedolim have not studied classical rationalist perspectives to Torah/science conflicts for even five minutes, let alone 60 years.

      Delete
    12. Science (real science) is subject to tests that are falsifiable. Engineering is a science-rooted discipline. There is no analogy to jewish law regarding something that is testable, repeatable, **falsifiable**, etc. Using this as a comparison says more about the person who says it than it does contribute to a logical argument.

      Delete
    13. RDNS,
      "The Gedolim have not studied classical rationalist perspectives to Torah/science conflicts for even five minutes, let alone 60 years."

      First of all, you don't know that.

      Secondly, they understand Torah better than us such that *in* *the* *context* *of* *the* *Torah*, they understand it with far less study than you and I.

      Thirdly (and related to secondly), why can't you accept the possibility that they disagree with you? Why must it be that they don't understand? (My guess is that if they don't understand then you can be correct; but if they disagree, then you are worried that everybody will side with those who know so much more Torah. That leaves you little choice but to (a) be humble or (b) trash the talmidey chachamim that disagree with you.

      Delete
    14. "Does a guy fresh out of engineering school revere somebody who has been studying engineering for 60+ years (including theory *and* case studies) even if he never built a bridge? "

      Absolutely NOT if that engineer insists on preaching on topics far from his area of study, like law, medicine, or economics.

      Delete
    15. **************

      Don't be silly. When the lawyer wants to know about the car crash in his case, he asks the engineer. When the doctor wants to design an artificial heart, he consults the bio-engineer and takes his word very seriously. Etc. etc.

      The Torah does have what to say about science. If you would rather believe your eyes than G-d's word, that is up to you. And if you want to say that the Torah does not always speak literally, it is up to the greatest Torah experts to say when the Torah meant something literally or not.

      In the grand scheme of things, science keeps changing its conclusions. So how can you be so sure that what the scientists say today "disproves" that what the Torah says is not literal. Even the Rambam wrote that the Torah does not speak literally when it is proven that the literal meaning can not be true - but who are you to say what constitutes actaal proof. The scientific proof of many things from 200 years ago are no longer valid. Perhaps there are methods *within* Torah to determine what is and isn't literal. But you wouldn't be interested in even hearing about it let alone considering it - because rationalists hold modern science as the indicator of truth.

      This is avodah zarah and kochi v'otzem yadi at it's strongest. "I will believe what the Torah says so long as I can shtup it into what my limited human mind can contain," instead of, "I will try to expand my mind past the limits of the physical world by trying to understand the word of G-d as revealed in the Torah." This is the crux of the matter, that rationalists don't want to recognize the greatness of the Torah and that it is a Divine revelation, and that a Divine revelation can be perfect as is written "The Torah of HaShem is complete/perfect. The testimony of HaShem is reliable and wisens the fool." Rationalists do not believe this.

      Delete
    16. So why do you believe that the earth goes around the sun, or that the kidneys do not house the mind and can be transplanted? After all, the pesukim state clearly otherwise, and the early authorities insisted that the pesukim are true and science can't be relied upon.

      Delete
    17. Waterman,

      What you responded to me has nothing to do with the moshol or the nimshal you used.

      It's a totally different point.

      In any event, Where does the TORAH 'have what to say on science'? Are you confusing the torah with midrash, talmud Rishonim or Acharonim maybe?



      Anyway the gemoroh states clearly in times of mageifoh shut the doors and stay indoors. RCK originally didn't even follow that! So where in torah was his pesak written?

      Delete
    18. "So why do you believe that the earth goes around the sun,"

      You will laugh at me when I tell you this, but there is no proof that the earth goes around the sun. If you study the history of both sides of the argument and the accompanying experiments of the last 200 years, you will see that there was a stalemate and neither side was able to be proven correct. The convention went with the heliocentrists but the scientific argument was not won.

      So why do you believe that ... the kidneys do not house the mind?

      Do the kidneys not house the mind? Let me ask you, so you know what a mind is? You think that the mind is a function of the brain. But their are many levels of "mind", and no matter what your scientific definition of mind is, you do not know what Chazal meant when they said mind until you study what "mind" means to them with all its parts, which evidently you have not.

      There is a whole world that you are unaware of because you force a physical interpretation of everything and in Skinnerian fashion ignore that which you can not measure with your different instruments. By your own methods you can not argue against the reductionists who say that everything is physical and ultimately you are soul-less. Whatever you will argument you bring against them can be refuted with what you argue against what you call the "mystics" of Judaism.

      Quick question. Do you think you know as much about kabbalah as the gdolim know about science? (It's a trick question.)

      Delete
    19. Thanks for acting the clown waterman. I'm embarrassed I took you as seriously as I did in the earlier thread.
      Quick question: the guy who r"l has no kidneys but is kept alive on dialysis, is he out of his mind?

      Delete
    20. You will laugh at me when I tell you this, but there is no proof that the earth goes around the sun.

      Thank you for summing up your ignorance so neatly. There is indeed proof that the Earth orbits the Sun. The best kind of proof known to humans -- empirical. We have built systems that cannot work unless the Earth orbits the Sun, and they do in fact work.

      If you study the history of both sides of the argument and the accompanying experiments of the last 200 years, you will see that there was a stalemate and neither side was able to be proven correct.

      In the past 200 years, there hasn't been a single scientist who believed the Earth does not orbit the Sun. You have also demonstrated that you don't understand science by mentioning proof. Science doesn't prove. Science determines the best explanation to explain natural phenomena. Engineers then use science to design systems. That the systems work may prove the science to be correct, if there are no countervailing theories that could explain the workings.

      You argue like a flat-Earther, and likely smell like one, too.

      Delete
    21. Sammy,

      I noticed that you call me names but never answer my comments directly. That makes you the letz.

      You can ask kushyot but can not deal with the answers (even to ask me back on my answers). You pretend that my words did not say anything (as on the article you and I have been discussing).

      Check out the "axis of evil". I look forward to your comments about the inconclusiveness of heliocentrism.

      And do you know as much kabbalah as the Gdolim know about science?

      And the dyalysis-man you mentioned is not out of his mind. You did not consider what I said that there are levels of the mind -you did not study what Chazal mean when they say mind. Interestingly though, you should believe that all people are out of their minds because science can not prove the existence of the mind, only a brain.

      I answer you with meaningful answers that you ignore. You do not have meaningful answers for me. It is you who are acting the clown.

      Delete
    22. Avi,

      Do you think that science has some sort of immunity to dogma? There are plenty of things you can dig up in respectable scientific journals and books that you will never find taught in a classroom or university because it doesn't fit with the conclusions they feed you. It is not all as cut and dry as you would like to think.

      You can also check out the cosmological "axis of evil", and I look forward to your comments on it.

      And do you understand all the things Chazal refer to in their "science" and m'shalim, and have a deep knowledge of what the Torah means literally and not? When/where did you learn it, and how long did you spend on it?

      Delete
    23. If you are referring to arbitrary frames of reference (I have no idea what you are referring to but I'll assume it's that) then technically you are correct that one could just as easily say the sun revolves around the Earth as the other way around.
      This would make some physics problem treacherously difficult to solve, but there's no "truth" here , just a matter of perspective.

      Delete
    24. oy waterman, waterman,
      When the Ramban doesn't meant what he says (just cuz, y'know?), and "mind" doesn't mean "mind," (just cuz, y'know?) what more is there to say? White is black, wrong is right, there can be no dialogue. Sure, let's mix kabbalah in here, why not? Nothing is fixed for you, except what you'd like to say. It is literally (and I mean do "literally") impossible to present a useful argument against such willful blindness.

      Delete
    25. oy Sammy, Sammy,

      You must be right. Chazal were a bunch of old fools who thought that what *you* call a mind is in the kidneys.

      And for the second time, I never said that the Ramban doesn't mean what he said; I said that in different places he is speaking from two different perspectives, and that (if you're not sensitive enough to make that distinction) can make his words in one place seem to contradict his words in another place. That explanation works consistently for this sort of stirah. By the way, what was you're intelligent answer to the stirot in the Ramban?

      If with the things I've said on this page all you have to come at me with is straw man arguments, you're in really bad shape.

      And as for willful blindness, you have not made a single or any argument yet. You only ask questions, ignore the answers, and pretend that I said things that I didn't say.

      In the other article we were discussing, you suspected that *I* wasn't following the discussion?!

      Delete
    26. The Lub rebbe talks about how geocentrism is just another frame of reference. And yes, if it has metaphysical benefit to view the universe that way, then it would be right for Chazal to do so.

      But they aren't equal in terms of physics.

      Side-note, geocentrism is less an alternative to the earth going around the sun as an alternative to the earth spinning. You are saying the universe spins the other way.

      And then the sun goes in a one-year epicycle within the daily orbit around the earth. And so do the other planets and the field of stars. Not the moon, the moon simply goes around the earth at a slightly slower speed, completing only 29-1/2 orbits in 30-1/2 days.

      In any case, yes, it's fair to view the universe as spinning around the earth. But that's not an inertial frame. So, the equivalence isn't under Special Relativity, but General Relativity -- and involves gravity. So now your universe has an as-yet unexplained circular gravitational field that causes that spinning.

      The math gets more complicated very quickly.

      So, from a physics point of view -- all frames of reference are valid. But heliocentrism isn't an arbitrary choice -- it's the simplest math for modeling how the solar system works. Just as it pays to see the sun as traveling around the Milky Way if you want to keep your astronomy managable, etc...

      Delete
    27. There are plenty of things you can dig up in respectable scientific journals and books that you will never find taught in a classroom or university because it doesn't fit with the conclusions they feed you.

      Perhaps the reasons such things are not taught is because they are not science. Not everything a scientist might say is valid science. Not every hypothesis that is put forth stands up to scrutiny.

      You can also check out the cosmological "axis of evil", and I look forward to your comments on it.

      Interesting, but not particularly relevant. For one, we have no equivalent measurements from anywhere else, so we don't know if what we're looking at is truly unique to our location.

      And do you understand all the things Chazal refer to in their "science" and m'shalim, and have a deep knowledge of what the Torah means literally and not? When/where did you learn it, and how long did you spend on it?

      There are two approaches one can take to pronouncements about the natural world. Either they were meant literally and are sometimes wrong, or they were meant metaphorically and were not intended to reflect reality, and thus their congruence with reality is simply unimportant.

      In order to salvage CHaZaL's reputation, the MaHaRaL goes with the latter approach. In order to salvage the Torah's reputation (so to speak), the Rambam applies that approach to Torah, but he chose to apply the former to CHaZaL.

      Taking the Rambam's approach, I can state that yes, I do understand CHaZaL's statements about the natural world. None of them are more complex than what we might call High School-level science today.

      Delete
    28. "You must be right. Chazal were a bunch of old fools who thought that what *you* call a mind is in the kidneys."

      And there you see exactly where Waterman613 goes wrong. He believes that if Chazal mistakenly thought that the mind is housed in the kidneys, it would mean that they were "a bunch of old fools."

      Delete
    29. RDNS,

      I'm not even talking about whether or not Chazal passed down mistakes to us. I'm talking about how you guys don't know how to understand Chazal at all.

      I'm still not talking about whether Chazal passed down mistakes to us, but for you to think that they made this kind of a mistake shows how little you think of them and how little you think of Torah.

      You say that we are making a pshat dachuk to "save" Chazal (which is not true); but you thrust on Chazal a false pshat so absurd (i.e., that what we today call "the mind" they thought is in the kidneys) to make them look bad, you really should should be ashamed.

      Delete
    30. RDNS,

      I don't know if the British have this experession, but Americans can be heard saying that they know something because they have a "gut" feeling or a "gut" instinct.

      Would you be so uncharitable as to say that American are mistaken and think that feelings, instincts, and (at least some) knowledge come from the stomach or intestines?

      With friends like you....

      Delete
    31. Waterman613, I'm guessing that you haven't seen all the sources from Chazal and the Rishonim on this topic.

      Delete
    32. And if you think that it's "absurd" for Chazal to think that the mind was housed in the heart and kidneys, you haven't seen medical writings from antiquity, either.

      Delete
    33. Do any of you notice that there is little conversation happening here. Everybody says whatever they want without actually addressing what the other person is saying.

      Questions left unanswered:

      1. "The Gedolim have not studied classical rationalist perspectives to Torah/science conflicts for even five minutes, let alone 60 years."
      You don't know that.
      Well, do you? How?

      2. why can't you accept the possibility that the Gdolim disagree with you? Why must it be that they don't understand?

      3. What do you say about the cosmological "axis of evil" and uncertainty it casts on heliocentrism?

      4. Does science have an immunity to dogma?

      5. Would you say that Americans are mistaken and think that feelings, instincts, and (at least some) knowledge come from the stomach or intestines?

      6. Do Chazal not also say that the mind is in the head/brain? So when Chazal say the mind is in the kidneys, how do you know that they are refering to what you call "the mind"?

      Delete
    34. Questions left unanswered:

      Well, do you? How?

      We can determine this through inference. As those Rabbis who have studied such things support Rabbi Slifkin, we can infer that those who did not support him are ignorant of his source. Not proof, I grant, but a good assumption based on simple logic.

      2. why can't you accept the possibility that the Gdolim disagree with you? Why must it be that they don't understand?

      Those are not mutually-exclusive options.


      3. What do you say about the cosmological "axis of evil" and uncertainty it casts on heliocentrism?


      It says nothing at all about it. Or rather, it points to the entire Universe being heliocentric, and not just the objects in our solar system. Of course, since you don't understand science, you don't understand why this one anomaly, which may not be an anomaly, has not overturned 1000+ years of astronomic observations.

      4. Does science have an immunity to dogma?

      Science does. Scientists don't. Can you answer why you think this is relevant to the discussion?


      5. Would you say that Americans are mistaken and think that feelings, instincts, and (at least some) knowledge come from the stomach or intestines?


      Absolutely. It's just a saying. And it seems that everyone familiar with the phrase knows that. Except you.

      6. Do Chazal not also say that the mind is in the head/brain? So when Chazal say the mind is in the kidneys, how do you know that they are refering to what you call "the mind"?

      If they weren't talking about what we call the mind their statements about it are entirely useless and can be ignored. Since literally no one knows what they were talking about to begin with.

      Delete
    35. @Waterman613

      Please stop talking about science. You clearly have little to know idea as to what you are talking about.

      Delete
    36. This thread is quite well stocked, but there may always be a newbie reading this.

      The issue of disagreement with the Gedolim has always been - and Rabbi Slifkin has long held this position - that 1) it's not a bizayon to say that Chazal did not know modern science and 2) it's OK "by us" for Chareidim to disagree and hold a different position with regard to science and religion, but it's not OK "by them" that rationalists do; ie for Chareidim, "eilu v'eilu divrei Elokim chayyim" gets replaced with "No, that's kefirah!"

      Therefore, from, the rationalist side, all of the yelling and arm waving is not to convince the nonrationalists of the correctness of the rationalist position, but of the PERMISSIVITY of that position. And arguing against THAT pushes them into a corner where they have to deny science, which is terribly unfortunate and frankly, in today's world, ridiculous.

      Delete
    37. This thread is quite well stocked, but there may always be a newbie reading this...

      Rabbi Slifkin,

      You should save Yosef R's response and be ready to paste it wherever relevant. It sums up the argument quite succinctly, and really homes in on the point: Charedim want to exclude anyone who doesn't follow their narrow path, and everyone else is willing to agree to disagree.

      Delete
    38. Let's take a step back from talking about Chazal's science, since science wasn't invented yet. Intead, we're looking at Natural Philosphy. And so the question becomes why did Chazal buy into the general belief that the mind's functions ought to be split between brain (moach), heart and kidneys.

      Brain -- they couldn't escape. People with head injuries get brain injuries. The ancients noticed. But also, it's on top. Where you would naturally put the ruler, the "loftiest".

      The heart is at the center of the body geometrically. And thus both Hebrew and English use "heart" that way.

      Kidneys are at the center of gravity. I don't know if Chazal knew that they filter unwanted from wanted, and thus make a good parallel to decision-making. And isn't a shoteh defined as someone who can't choose the nut over the shell?

      So, I have a feeling that regardless of the science, the metaphors of moach, leiv and kelayos would still be in use.

      More than that, personally I would follow the Ramchal's suggestion that these things made it into our writings not because of their scientific value, but because of that metaphoric religious value.

      Delete
    39. “You will laugh at me when I tell you this, but there is no proof that the earth goes around the sun.”

      Here’s some advice. Never say that in public, because the scientific community will laugh at you. Even the famed Rebbe, Menachem Schneerson said the earth rotated around the sun when Jews sinned and not the other way around. Look, I am seriously struggling to take you seriously. You need to open a science textbook and get educated, with all respect.

      Delete
    40. What do you make of empirical evidence that the earth does, in fact, orbit the sun? I am talking about the NASA images that you see on google. Is it reasonable that NASA would spend billions of dollars on textbooks, telling lies?

      No, I am convinced that the heliocentric model is correct. Also, see Ralbag.

      Delete
    41. In regards to the sage and kidneys, Maimonides had this to say about Chazal and science:

      "Do not ask of me to show that everything they have said regarding astronomical matters conforms to the way things really are. For at that time, mathematics was imperfect." (Guide, 3:14)

      According to the Rambam, the talmudic rabbis were not experts in science, working only with the primitive science of their day, and as a result, were frequently wrong. Thus, it is no surprise that they were in error in matters of science.

      Make no mistake, Rambam throughout his Guide points to scientific errors in the Talmud. Unlike you, and many others, Maimonides did not wish to sacrifice his intellectual honesty to save the credibility of Chazal in regards to science. Is it belittling Chazal to present the facts? Is Chazal like the state, a communist system that is perfect in every way and can never err. Is Chazal like G-d?


      No, I do not think it dilutes respect for Chazal at all. Even the patriarchs were human who made mistakes. Abraham, Jacob, David, just to name a few. Even Moses rabbeinu, who the Rambam said achieved the greatest human cognitive achievement in human history, who received revelation, who G-d alone spoke face-to-face, made mistakes. Does this mean that we should throw the baby with the bath water? Absolutely not.

      Delete
    42. Let me point out the highlights of this well stocked thred.

      Chazal say the sun goes around the earth and do not mention anywhere that the earth goes around the sun.

      Isaac mentioned in his comment above that "one could just as easily say the sun revolves around the Earth as the other way around" meaning that Chazal has not been shown by science to be wrong - and nobody responded negatively to Isaacs comment.

      And RDNS believes that the earth goes around the sun -contrary to Chazal- even though there is not (enough) evidence to *soundly* conclude that the earth goes around the sun.

      It would be nice to know when we are allowed to disbelieve Chazal - I thought that it is (at least according to RDNS and perhaps the Rambam) only when our observation *clearly* demonstrates so.

      Delete
    43. It is a well-known fact that the scientific community largely accepts the heliocentric model over the Geocentric theory and that any argument to the contrary is like disputing Isaac Newton's works on gravity or Einstein's theory of relativity. When one disregards the labors of science, one might as well be inclined to embrace creationism or some other absurdity. Needless to say, you will admit that the earth is round, won't' you? In that event, what will you make of the sage's dispute in the Talmud regarding the number of pillars erected to carry the earth? Surely you will concede that they were mistaken on this point, or are you going to ignore the question entirely?

      Again, the Rambam clearly shown that the early sages could hold erroneous views in matters of science. But you would be mistaken to toss the baby out with the bathwater. Nobody's perfect. Even the patriarchs were human. How much more so the sages!

      Delete
    44. When someone begins to question the established evidence that the earth revolves around the sun and not the other way around, it is obvious that no amount of evidence can ever be "clearly demonstrated" enough to suggest the contrary.

      Delete
    45. Turk Hill: I agree with your thesis, sort of. I believe the early sages could hold erroneous views on matters of Natural Philosophy. BUT, because it's not science, these things also speak to how the philosopher believes the world ought to work, not only how it does. And much can be gleaned from Chazal's statements in that regard. (As I wrote in very different framing yesterday at 9:50pm.)

      But you're wrong about geocentricity. When people are thinking in General Relativistic terms, they're both right. It's a matter of which models the universe in a way that yields simpler math. Just as if we needed to do the math for something that spans multiple solar systems, heliocentricity would go out the window for something centered on Sagittarius A*. (For that matter, heliocentrism is less often used than the very slightly different barycentrism (using the solar system's center of mass.)

      They're all correct, just not all equally simple and useful. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geocentric_model#Relativity for more explanation.

      Delete
    46. I agree with what you wrote about relativity, that our observances rely on perspective, which is relative, depending on where you are standing in space-time. However, looking from space generally and observing the paths of the earth we can empirically observe that the world revolves around the sun and not the other way around (Copernicus). In contrast, waterman613's basis for his arguments, as I understand it, is weak and has little to do with this theory. But good of you to mention.

      Delete
    47. RDNS,

      Y'lamdenu Rabbenu:

      If Reuven is m'kadesh Rachel al t'nai that the EARTH orbits the SUN, and then Rachel is m'zaneh with Shimon and gives birth to Levi in such a way that it's clear that Shimon is Levi's father, then:

      1) If this happened in the times of Chazal, would Chazal have paskened that Levi is a mamzer, not a mamzer, or safek mamzer? And why?

      2) If this happened today, should we pasken that Levi is a mamzer, not a mazer, or a safek mamzer? And why?

      3) If the answers to question 1 and 2 differ, then were Chazal wrong about Levi's mamzer-status?

      Delete
    48. The geocentric model cannot explain the observation of stellar parallax -- which was one of the phenomena that finally convinced the last serious naysayers in the 1800s.

      The "cosmological axis of evil" is about the CMB and doesn't say anything about whether the Sun or the Earth lies at the centre of our solar system.

      I find in general that non-scientists massively inflate the importance of "dogma" and "entrenched positions" in science. Extraordinary claims do require extraordinary evidence, but once that evidence is provided, the claims are accepted. The the imagined controversies and cover-ups either don't exist, or when they do, are far more "niche" and narrow in scope than non-experts would be led to believe.

      Delete
    49. @waterman613

      I thought that betrothals made with conditions that are outside of the betrother's control are a priori invalid? (I think this is on Kiddushin 62a -- which I happen to have learned recently)

      Delete
    50. @waterman613

      The Talmud speaks about the seven heavens. One of these heavens is Vilon (velum in Latin) which renews the work of creation daily; as it is said, "That stretcheth out the heaven as a curtain and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in" (Is.Xl. 22). This certainly contradicts what science teaches. It is also rather strange. Heaven is 'a curtain.' Its purpose is to cover the light of the sun during the night and is withdrawn at daybreak.

      According to this model, both the sun and earth are fixed. Now, do you really believe a 'curtain' blocks the sun's rays at night? Or, can the sage be mistaken in scientific matters? (Guide, 3:14)

      Delete
    51. Joe Q.,
      Stellar parallax is not a proof of heliocentrism. If the cosmos orbit the sun and the sun orbits the earth, then a stellar parallax would still be observed. And while you may think it is a wild claim to say that everything orbits the sun and the sun orbits the earth, it is correct by all standards of Torah to accept that Chazal's words are k'pshutan unless there is reason to interpret them otherwise. And there is no scientific evidence that makes this an unreasonable model. See Isaac's comment above.

      Delete
    52. Waterman -- The system you describe (Sun orbiting the Earth and everything else in turn orbiting the Sun) AFAIK is not found in Hazal, but rather comes from Tycho Brahe in the 1500s.

      So far as I know, Hazal's model was a straight Ptolemaic model, which cannot explain basic phenomena like the phases of Venus (easily observable by anyone with a cheap telescope).

      Setting aside its other flaws, you're right there is a way to make Tycho's system consistent with the observation of stellar parallax. But this requires you to posit that the Earth is enormously greater in mass than the rest of the Universe, which (because we know the size and properties of the Sun) in turn requires you to posit that the Sun is not a typical star, despite all the spectroscopic evidence to the contrary.

      This is taking aside other evidence besides stellar parallax (aberration, Newtonian gravitational motion, etc.) that disproves the Tychonic model.

      Delete
    53. As for "there is no scientific evidence that makes this an unreasonable model", I think you may have misunderstood Isaac's comment. He is correct that in principle, all frames of reference are mathematically valid, but you can't ignore his point that the mathematics becomes horrendously complex, very quickly, and becomes a tough stretch when a Keplerian system of elliptical orbits centered on the Sun is just as explanatory in a much simpler system.

      Unless you believe that the nature of gravity varies massively throughout the solar system, adhering to the Ptolemaic or Tychonian model of the solar system requires all kinds of machinations, such as (as per Micha Berger) the existence of an unknown circular gravitational field, or of massive undiscovered planets that created the epicycles needed to explain the apparent motion of Mars, etc.

      The fact that we can accurately send spacecraft to other planetary bodies, often via multiple planet interactions (gravitational slingshot) using solely the heliocentric model demonstrates its validity vs. the assumptions required for geocentrism.

      Delete
  12. As someone who knew the Novominsker Rebbe zt"l personally, I can attest that he was definitely an Adam Godol. He is definitely worthy of respect. (That doesn't mean you need to follow all his shittos, but he does deserve some respect.)

    ReplyDelete
  13. Chaim from Far RockApril 26, 2020 at 3:21 PM

    Its sad. This website is sad. "The paths of G-d are straight, the Righteous will go in them, the wicked will stumble" . This website had different paths to go on. It was a website that had 2 fold potential. One of exploring in a real and deep way the perspectives of the more rational medieval commentators that have been largely ignored for the more mystical ones. As well, and even more exciting, the potential to explore the animal world in the sea of the Talmud. Today, when in the daf yomi that thousands learn daily, Rashi explained that the dove "protects" with its wings in a different way then other birds do, I thought about how amazing this website could've been, as it could have explored Rashis statement in light of modern scientific zoological information. But this website has none of these worthwhile endeavors. It just recycles some old Talmudic related articles here and there to put up a zoology/research front. And indeed "it has stumbled" .....into an anti-mystic, anti people that subscribe to more mystic, and in turn an anti "charaidie", hate mongering website with only hating purpose. Just sad. I don't think it's too late for this pathetic soulless website but it would need a major revamp and refresh to get back on track to its original purpose. I am 56 and took a non charaidie path since 9th grade despite having charaidie Rabbeim. So I am decades ahead of this websites author in terms of appreciation of the ills of a charaidie welfare state, which seemingly took the author into late adulthood before understanding the issues. But I have also learned what good people the charaidim are and how many beautiful attributes they have. And I work on loving them as much as I work on critiquing them. The one good left in this website? That as far as I know it doesn't censor criticisms of it. So atleast I hope that this critique will not be taken down. Hoping to one day see a quality, education and loving website....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sorry, what? You expect a rationalist, scientific, modern zoological approach to a passage in Ms. Shabbas and a an associated literary explanation in Rashi that is clearly using a poetic artform? In order to logically explain a mystical event? Aren't we just.... mixing our metaphors a bit too much? With this much mixing of domains and arm waving, you'll easily get yourself into a straight jacket.

      Delete
    2. Chaim for Far RockApril 26, 2020 at 8:20 PM

      You didn't look up the reference. Rashi shabbos 49a divrei hamaskil "kenafos magina aleha". Rashi explaining the natural behavior of the "yona" to explain in greater depth the poetry of Israel being compared to the "yona". Right up the alley of this website/organizations true purpose. To research exactly what the yona is and how accurate rashis behavioral description is. Nothing complicated in that sentence I wrote. (But anyway that wasnt my larger point, but ok, just responding to what you wrote) .

      Delete
    3. Hi, Chaim.

      For fascinating essays on the realia in Daf HaYomi, chek out the Talmudology blog.
      http://www.talmudology.com/

      Delete
    4. I think it would be nice if a blog called Rationalist Judaism written by someone with the nickname (and email address ZooRabbi) spent more time discussing a rationalist perpective on Judaism and/or Zooology and rabbinic writings than on attacking people who disagree, he can't change, and don't read this medium.

      Seems to me that much of this blog is a place for RNS to vent all the things he would not say but wishes he could to chareidi visitors of the museum. Must be frustrating to intentionally ignore part of what you're trying to teach because the listening will just hear "TREIF" and dismiss even things that wouldn't challenge their beliefs.

      Delete
  14. RDNS,

    You wrote: "I've already written a list of reasons on this page [link] as to why I didn't need to listen to them. (In brief: They didn't understand..., they didn't know..., they didn't know..., they didn't know..., they were misinformed..., and they were ignorant of or rejected....)"

    In your list of 6 things about them, 4 of them were "didn't know/understand", and one was "was ignorant or rejected". If they rejected, their Torah expertise entitles them to do so; if they were ignorant, then the tally of "didn't know/understand" stands at 5.

    If you think that they are (a) so unaware of what things they need to know to make their decision and (b) so unaware of what they know and don't know, then you must really think that they are a bunch of old fools.

    (By the way, this may not have occurred to you but they didn't necessarily reject the entire rationalist school of thought; they might be rejecting *your interpretation* of it.)

    ReplyDelete
  15. The problem is that Gadol is a term that is automatically conflated with "Gadol Hador" or Poseik. One can be a Gadol in many areas of Torah, in fact an undisputed genius in them. But that does not make him a "leader" or otherwise an authority in practical terms whose purview is outside of the theoretical pilpul of the Beis Medrish or sefarim that he writes. Being a leader is a different training and experiential track altogether. Leadership or being a Gadol Hador requires an additional skill set as well as a direct channel to facts-on-the-ground. It also comes with responsibility, access, and accountability. Honorific titles like "Hagaon" are freely thrown around, sometimes appearing only posthumously ("acharei mos-kedoshim-emor"). Some titles are in fact fabricated and have only be copyrighted recently. But, such titles are totally subjective and not necessarily connected to leadership or expertise of relevance. The nomenclature is confusing and has misled many, certainly when factors such as religious ideology, identification, and validation are at stake.

    ReplyDelete
  16. @Waterman, please allow me to repeat what others are saying, just from a different angle. That is, from the rationalist perspective, you have too much respect for scientific information.

    Try this: take a piece of paper and make two columns. In one write such things as being musical, athletic, artistic, skilled in chess, skilled in the kitchen etc. In the other column write such things as knowing Shas, being selfless, kind, considerate, having and sharing great life-wisdom, Hasmadah, being energetic in Avodas Hashem etc.

    Now take "scientific information/knowledge". In which column does it belong? You put it too close to the second column. "Scientific information/knowledge" is a pleasant bonus or luxury that's great to have, but it isn't essential. Knowing Shas- that's greatness, as are the other things in the second column. Science? Who cares about science?! I've met and read about great people, blown away by them sometimes, who don't know science in an advanced way at all. How does this interfere with their greatness?

    Two of the most influential rabbis of the past 200 years were known not to be musical. Hundreds of people energetically study their sefarim every day. I would give everything to be able to spend time with them.

    There are many people utterly and sincerely devoted to studying Shas in depth who are clueless of certain scientific difficulties that people such as RDNS have raised. They have an exalted degree of Shleimus. Science is just frills for those who know it. Check with RDNS; he may agree that for these people at this stage of their lives, reading his writings is a plain waste of time. Perhaps at the right time they should advance to the next level. Till then it's sufficient for Shas to be internally consistent. We need to understand the views of the Baalei Hashas and no more.

    This is the underlying idea of Chazal not knowing science. We respect them for achieving that which important. We don't care about trivialities like advanced undiscovered science.

    (You might object that this can't be the case, because then certain Halachos would be based on incorrect science, but actually that's no problem. I can elaborate on that if you want.)

    KT.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "There are many people utterly and sincerely devoted to studying Shas in depth who are clueless of certain scientific difficulties.... They have an exalted degree of Shleimus. Science is just frills for those who know it.... This is the underlying idea of Chazal not knowing science. We respect them for achieving that which important. We don't care about trivialities like advanced undiscovered science."

      I am not trying to say that Chazal new all the science that we know today. I am saying that we should not be so quick to say that what Chazal said contradicts science, because many hypotheses and theories which are accepted and "pushed" onto the public as fact do not hold up to the scientific standards of testing.

      Furthermore, in the Torah world, there is something called a "dchiah", by which another's conclusion is rejected because there is another reasonable explanation (the dchiah) which has not been proven false. So when scientists "show" that something is a fact, we should not discount or alter the meaning of Chazal's words until all other known reasonable explanations have been disproven. We should not be dazzled out or the true Torah and Chazal by our wonderment at science. But so-called "rationalist" Jews are more excited by science than by Torah, so they are willing to drop parts of Torah so they can accept and play with exciting new scientific discoveries.

      Delete
  17. For me, your article is very informative. I study the culture and traditions of the Jewish people, it is very interestingly written. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete

Comments for this blog are moderated. Please see this post about the comments policy for details. ANONYMOUS COMMENTS WILL NOT BE POSTED - please use either your real name or a pseudonym.

The Noah's Ark Challenge

Question: Which home of Biblical creatures measures 100 cubits in length, 50 cubits in width and 30 cubits in height? The most common wrong ...