Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Flying Kangaroos or Damnation

What do you have to believe in, so as to be a good Jew? According to Rabbi Moshe Meiselman, flying kangaroos. Otherwise, you're a kofer.

In the past, I have detailed all kinds of problems with Rabbi Meiselman's abominable Torah, Chazal and Science. There is the omission of sources that inconveniently refute his approach, the obfuscation of clear topics, the wholesale dismissal of traditional and reasonable interpretations of the Sages' words, the intellectual contortions, and so on. In this post, I will be dealing with an aspect of his book that is a combination of bizarre and dangerous - his approach to the topic of the Deluge.

There are all kinds of challenges with a literal interpretation of the Flood story. Yet, amazingly, Rabbi Meiselman presents many challenges that the average person might not even think of! He points out that keeping many of these animals in an ark for a year is an impossible task. It would strain the resources of a zoo with a large staff and modern technology - it would simply be impossible for a single family, with limited resources, to provide the animals with all the care and food and sensitive environmental conditions that they require. 

Why would he raise such issues? Because Rabbi Meiselman wants to make the point that there is simply no way to make the account of Noah's Ark make sense from a naturalistic perspective - and therefore one must accept that it was entirely miraculous. Accordingly, one should not seek at all to try to make it fit with what is possible. "Within such a context, one does not bother counting the miracles; it makes no difference whether there were ten or a hundred." 

And so everything was a miracle. The animals were supernaturally transported from all over the world to the Ark - the kangaroos flew in from Australia, the sloths from South America. Noah moved like the Flash to be able to look after them all. The waters of the Flood came from nowhere, they were boiling hot, and destroyed all life on Earth. And the entire world - all the civilizations and all animal life - were subsequently repopulated from the occupants of the Ark, again supernaturally transported back to their original homes.

Now, the truth is that even if one were to posit such extraordinary supernatural miracles, this does not at all solve the scientific difficulties with the simple interpretation of the Flood story. After all, the challenges from science are not just that it couldn't happen in such a way; they are that it didn't happen in such a way. 

There are two sets of such challenges. One is from the various natural sciences, which do not show any tremendous turmoil 4000 years ago - there are trees older than that! Rabbi Meiselman attempts, utterly unconvincingly, to dismiss the reliability of such branches of science. He also suggests that maybe God miraculously made the geology of the world look exactly like no Flood had occurred - not to fool us, he adds, but for an unknown purpose(!). 

Then there are the challenges from human archeology and anthropology, which Rabbi Meiselman simply dismisses out of hand as unreliable, "soft" sciences. Clearly he has never remotely studied the histories of numerous ancient civilizations - Andean civilizations, Chinese civilization, Mesopotamian civilization, Egyptian civilization and others - all of which continued uninterrupted during the entire period. There is clear evidence of cultural and even genetic continuity. (And Rabbi Meiselman doesn't even attempt to say whether they all originated from Noah's descendants, or whether they existed before the Flood and subsequently Noah's descendants moved to those regions and redeveloped those exact same civilizations and genes in the exact same places.) He is arguing from a standpoint of utter ignorance.

But let's leave all this aside for now.

It's also true that Rabbi Meiselman is going against the approach of many of Chazal and the Rishonim. They did not seek to make the Flood impossible to reconcile; they sought to explain how it was practically possible (within the constraints of what they knew about the world). The Gemara details how Noah brought the right kind of food for each animal. Ramban explains that the Ark was extremely large, rather than simply miraculously containing everything, because God tries to work within nature as much as possible. Rambam explicitly stresses that one should try to reconcile Torah with the naturally possible as much as one can (a source that Rabbi Meiselman utterly distorts in a footnote on p. 555). The issue for them was not whether Hashem can break the laws of nature; it was whether he does.

But let's leave that aside for now, too. Instead, I would like to focus on a different point.

Many years ago, when I was preparing my book The Challenge Of Creation, I had an entire chapter dedicated to showing in great detail why the approaches of people such as Gerald Schroeder and Nathan Aviezer simply don't work. I explained how they are thoroughly distorting the meaning of Hebrew words, ignoring crucial aspects, and not remotely solving the conflict between Genesis and modern science. I wanted to thoroughly demolish these approaches, such that people would then be forced to accept the approach that Genesis is a theological text that is not to be reconciled with science.

However, before publishing the book, I showed the manuscript to the late Rabbi Dr. Yehuda (Leo) Levi. And he convinced me to massively cut down this section of the book. His reasoning was as follows: No matter how authentic and valid I think that my approach to Genesis is, there are many people who simply won't be able to accept it. And if I've destroyed their ability to accept the approaches of Schroeder and Aviezer, then I've left them with nothing.

These were wise words. I also implemented that approach with regard to the topic of Noah's Ark. It's an extremely challenging topic for many people. And so instead of telling people which approaches don't work and which do work, I chose instead to make a post listing a wide range of different approaches. And I've seen people at both ends of the spectrum act in the same way. I know of charedi anti-rationalist rabbinic leaders who decided not to object to rationalist approaches, because they realized that there are people who simply won't accept their approach, and those people need to have a home within Judaism.

Now, I can understand someone feeling that certain approaches simply cannot be reconciled with Judaism. And that's okay; nobody is expected to go against their convictions and say that something is compatible with Judaism if they feel otherwise. But is it really worthwhile, and is it even at all justifiable, to actively campaign to alienate people from Judaism? To make it as difficult as possible for people to believe something, just so that you can insist that it they find it hard to do so, then you can trash them as having "a mindset tainted by kefirah"?! Are you really disqualified as a Jew if you're uncomfortable with the idea that God made kangaroos fly and carefully arranged an overwhelming amount of evidence from geology, archeology, genetics, and other branches of science in order to make it look exactly like there was no Deluge - "for unknown reasons"?

The worst type of ignorant people are those who do not even realize that they are ignorant. Rabbi Meiselman dismisses all the many diverse branches of science which demonstrate that there was no global destruction of the world as being unconvincing - but he's never even studied them! And he also demands those who have studied them must be equally dismissive!

I don't know which is worse - the ignorance, the arrogance, or the plain lack of concern for people.


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132 comments:

  1. I would love to see that chapter - would there be a possibility of publishing it as a monograph?

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    1. Seconded. I was a big chasid of Aviezer when he started writing (Schroeder, not so much, for various reasons), and I have R' Slifkin to thank for showing me the problems.

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  2. Why are you still beating this dead horse?

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  3. Far more relevant: is there a Judaism for the 1-3 percent of men who are gay?

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    1. מה ענין שמיטה אצל הר סיני?

      And why is it "far more relevant"? From a simple mathematical perspective, 100% of Jews have to deal with this, and that's a lot more than 1-3.

      Oh. I think I got it.

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    2. I was thinking more about Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of human needs.

      Hunger is a more fundamental concern than freedom of conscious.

      Similarly the need for one's sexuality to be accepted is more fundamental than the need for one's theology of Genesis to be accepted.

      Sexuality is a more universal and objective attribute than theology.

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  4. Very well said.

    By the way, every time I see your building, I love how it looks like the Ark.

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  5. The Noach story is a difficult conundrum for Orthodox Judaism and the Solutions I have seen ring hollow. Why are there so many painful intractable conundrums for OJ ? My ensuing horrible cognitive dissonance was eventually relieved when I accepted a single solution to all the conundrums. ACJA

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    1. So many? How many, really, are there?

      And how is this a "painful intractable conundrum"? Even trying to reconcile the two extremes doesn't seem particularly painful, and most people (from one end or the other) don't try to do that.

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    2. Simple; The flood was local. This is supported by the text ( https://tinyurl.com/yfmxtfb4 ) and by the science ( https://tinyurl.com/533mekeu). In Zevachim 113a there is even a disagreement if the flood extended to E.Y. which may allow for this explanation. Gedalia Nadel took this approach.

      Most importantly the Bereshis contains a very specific genre called Mytho-history ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DIQIRLQTrH0 ). This sentiment is reflected by Joshua Berman as well.

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    3. Ah, the mytho-history again. That is no better than ACJA.

      As for the local flood theory, that's all fine and dandy by itself, but the 2900 BC date doesn't fit with Egyptian chronology (started 3100 BC). According to the Torah, Mitzrayim was founded well after the Mabul. So you're just back to mytho-history.

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    4. What is your method? One does not need to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

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    5. FROM D.A. See the sequence starting with http://altercockerjewishatheist.blogspot.com/2016/11/the-challenge-of-noah-part-one_3.html why ACJA rejects Local Flood or Allegory approach’s. Hope this helps

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    6. ACJA is relying mostly on bilabial language of genesis. That is addressed in the first link above.

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    7. וַיַּ֣רְא יְהֹוָ֔ה כִּ֥י רַבָּ֛ה רָעַ֥ת הָאָדָ֖ם בָּאָ֑רֶץ וְכׇל־יֵ֙צֶר֙ מַחְשְׁבֹ֣ת לִבּ֔וֹ רַ֥ק רַ֖ע כׇּל־הַיּֽוֹם׃
      וַיִּנָּ֣חֶם יְהֹוָ֔ה כִּֽי־עָשָׂ֥ה אֶת־הָֽאָדָ֖ם בָּאָ֑רֶץ וַיִּתְעַצֵּ֖ב אֶל־לִבּֽוֹ׃
      וַיֹּ֣אמֶר יְהֹוָ֗ה אֶמְחֶ֨ה אֶת־הָאָדָ֤ם אֲשֶׁר־בָּרָ֙אתִי֙ מֵעַל֙ פְּנֵ֣י הָֽאֲדָמָ֔ה מֵֽאָדָם֙ עַד־בְּהֵמָ֔ה עַד־רֶ֖מֶשׂ וְעַד־ע֣וֹף הַשָּׁמָ֑יִם כִּ֥י נִחַ֖מְתִּי כִּ֥י עֲשִׂיתִֽם׃.

      "Adam" here means "mankind". None of this fits with the "local flood" theory. Unless maybe, but this is stretching it, the Torah means only those places where people lived, but is excluding places without people. Which is the approach of R' Dovid Zvi Hoffman. But this does not remotely solve the conflict from archaeology, if one is bothered by that.

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    8. FROM D.A to BIg Mouth. ACJA is relying on much more than Tenach Language to argue the Noach flood was global, although Tenach strongly suggests global. I suggest reading ACJA more carefully.

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    9. I read it. Even actual global language doesn't indicate we are required to believe in global. The levant area was the globe from the ancient perspective:

      "The same principle of a limited universality in Gen. 41:46 also applies to the story of the Noachian Flood. The “earth” was the land (ground) as Noah knew (tilled) it and saw it “under heaven”—that is, the land under the sky in the visible horizon,13 and “all flesh” were those people and animals who had died or were perishing around the ark in the land of Mesopotamia. The language used in the scriptural narrative is thus simply that which would be natural to an eyewitness (Noah). Woolley aptly described the situation this way: “It was not a universal deluge; it was a vast flood in the valley of the Tigris and Euphrates which drowned the whole of the habitable land ... for the people who lived there that was all the world."

      (the same is true of "the sun rising", chewing cud and the firmament etc.)

      The critic of this interpretation is agreeing with the fundamentalist regarding what to expect, albeit disagreeing on it's fulfillment. This is the flaw of modern biblical discourse; the torah was given for us not to us. Why the focus on scientific empiricism which is only of value to the modern mind? This is a theological document - any other expectation is anachronistic.

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    10. Sorry, אֶמְחֶ֨ה אֶת־הָאָדָ֤ם אֲשֶׁר־בָּרָ֙אתִי֙ does not mean "the population of some small sub-region of the Levant".

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    11. Did I not just address that in my previous comment? I'm not saying that a literal interpretation implies local. I'm saying we aren't committed to literal interpretation for said reasons.

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    12. The problem is that your interpretation is not just non-literal, it is incorrect. This is simply not how non-literalism works. There is no way that אֶמְחֶ֨ה אֶת־הָאָדָ֤ם אֲשֶׁר־בָּרָ֙אתִי֙ מֵעַל֙ פְּנֵ֣י הָֽאֲדָמָ֔ה מֵֽאָדָם֙ עַד־בְּהֵמָ֔ה could mean "the population of some small sub-region of the Levant" when the text doesn't even mention the Levant at all! And the Torah was given to people who were never even in that part of the Levant! This is besides for the fact that it's completely against our tradition.

      Here is an example of non-literalism applied correctly:
      Yirmiyahu 4:23-26
      ראיתי את־הארץ והנה־תהו ובהו ואל־השמים ואין אורם
      ראיתי ההרים והנה רעשים וכל־הגבעות התקלקלו
      ראיתי והנה אין האדם וכל־עוף השמים נדדו
      ראיתי והנה הכרמל המדבר וכל־עריו נתצו מפני יהוה מפני חרון אפו   
      Here the context makes it clear it is talking about Eretz Yisrael, not the whole world. And it doesn't literally mean that the sky will darken and the mountains will shake, or that there will be no more people or birds. Rather, it means a tremendous, depopulating destruction in Eretz Yisrael. Many other examples from Neviim like this. None of them like Noach.

      As it is, your "non-literalism" is no better than saying that "flood" means a "flood of knowledge", and is referring to the spread of agriculture. Or that "Noach" means "tranquility" and "flood" is a "flood of misfortune". All of this is better than what you're saying.

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    13. @Big Mouth would you agree TENACH and ORAL TRADITION (prior to more modern scientific studies) most likely meant a actual historical global flood occurred during the time of NOACH ? ACJA

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    14. @BIG MOUTH I updated my Noach post to cite Isaiah 54:9. It makes More sense Tenach understands an actual global flood occurs. Do you have a Jewish traditional source (prior to modern science) that claimed Noach flood was local ? ACJA

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    15. From DA to Happy… IT is not just Bereshis that strongly suggests global flood. It is backed up by other pasukim in Tenach, plus tradition and reasoning as found in ACJA. One solution is Noach story was inspired by legends circulating in the ANE but modified for local theology. A mytho-history that eventually came to be believed as a true history. We now know the story is most likely a fanciful story.

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    16. Mytho-history = Torah is false. It's not a pshat, but a denial.

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    17. In general, the problem with these modern non-literal/allegorical pshatim is that they don't even try to deal with the text seriously (unlike elsewhere in Tanach where the meforshim do explain the text), they treat the text like a joke and handwave the whole thing as "non-literal". They pretend they are not doing this by selecting specific pesukim that could fit with their pshat, while ignoring the rest of the narrative and the entire context.

      One of the most obvious manifestations of this is the problem of the genealogies. The Torah specifically traces the family tree of Adam to Noach, and from Noach to Avraham and the other nations. The Torah tells exactly how many years each lived, and when they had their first-born. So it's very nice to say that the Garden of Eden was metaphorical, like the Rambam (possibly). But Adam was still a real person, and the ancestor of humanity!

      Similarly, if one says the Flood is an allegory, it's still an allegory that happened to Noach, in Noach's time (about 4000 years ago, give or take a few centuries)! And Noach was the real ancestor of Avraham and the real ancestor of Mitzrayim, the Kashdim, the Kanaanites, etc.

      One example would be this essay

      https://www.lookstein.org/professional-dev/bible/biblical-stories-creation-garden-eden-flood-history-metaphor/

      that claims the Flood is a metaphor for destruction that happened 65 million years ago. Hello?? Is he forgetting that the Flood happened to Noach?? He's not even trying!!

      Another example would be the comments below that try to claim that even the genealogies are allegorical (unlike everywhere else in Tanach) on the flimsiest, most laughable basis. Such low effort. This is what I mean by not taking the Torah seriously.

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  6. He actually writes that you HAVE to believe that the Kangaroos flew from Turkey to Australia? And if I say I don't know, that is kefira? Where in the Torah or Chazal does it say what he says????

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    1. He says that you have to believe that kangaroos and everything else in the world got there, via supernatural means. Teleportation is also an option, I guess. Or a really long swim.

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    2. So I guess he wouldn't hold much of the opinion that perhaps the Flood was only in the Middle East?

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    3. What he could be parsed as saying is that the tools you use to access objective reality aren't going to help you particularly with Genesis.

      I'm sure if pushed as to what objective reality really is, he wouldn't reject the Rabbi Dessler vort on Yaakov's lies to his father really being truths. A vort I first read in Terry Pratchett's satirical comedy 'Small Gods.'

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    4. If he is so right how come the Bible never mentions kangaroos? Isn't this an indication that the Torah does not mention kangaroos because they weren't on the ark? You have to think!

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    5. I must have missed the exhaustive list of all the names of the animals that were on the ark....

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    6. Obviously. This is the Biblical origin of Buffalo Wings.

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  7. Not defending R Meiselmans views, but not publishing something because people "won't be able to take it" seems like a foreign idea. Either it's true or not. Maximum just don't read it...

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    1. Depends who you're writing for, I guess.

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  8. "Ramban explains that the Ark was extremely large, rather than simply miraculously containing everything, because God tries to work within nature as much as possible."

    Proves the opposite of your point. Ramban says it was still a miracle, as even a large ark couldn't contain all the animals.

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    1. He is forced to say that, because he wants elephants and suchlike to fit in it. But he manages to fit it in to a category of known types of miracles - small things holding large amounts. He doesn't want to just say "miracle!" and that's it.

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    2. What is your point. He says it was miraculous. You said it was not. You are wrong.

      And BTW, a flying kangaroo would also fit into a "known category" of miracle. Medrash talks about Bilaam flying. A magical land bridge would be a known type of Miracle, it says Hashem flattened hills and straightened valleys for Bnei Yisrael. Almost any miracle you think of can be fit into a "known category".

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    3. Who says 'miracle! and that's it'?
      Simpletons, like you and the audience over here.

      The Ramban acknowledges the questions involved, and does not decide that the story never happened. And he certainly doesn't use the ridiculous claims like Chinese culture. In fact, he clearly refutes that claim.

      You are picking and choosing sentences in Rishonim. It reminds me of something, I wonder what.

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    4. Chinese culture pre-flood proves there was no global flood. Of course, there was a flood, as the Bible describes, but no global flood.

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    5. Yes, but who proved Chinese culture? And how does that stand up to the proof FOR the flood. Klal Yisroel is not some primitive tribe from the jungle. We knew and know our roots, and that was built on an entire belief system, not a collection of legends and customs. The founders of Klal Yisroel had heard first-hand about the flood.

      What do students of Chinese history have to offer in the face of that?

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    6. I have forgotten the source..but basically..

      The question is why did Noach only have children starting at 600?

      And the answer given (medrash?) is that if he had children earlier, he would have had to be 'Torach' to build multiple arks. how does that fit in with these explanations?

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    7. "Klal Yisroel is not some primitive tribe from the jungle." - neither is the Hindu religion & societies that predate Judaism, and in many ways was far more advanced than Israelite society & culture.

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    8. Meir Moses, yes Hindus were very advanced in some ways and not in others. Hindus have the oldest religion that existed pre-flood. ZD, The Pyramids in Egypt are pre-flood. That's all you need to know that there wasn't a global flood.

      Chinese history dates prior to the flood and would have recorded it if they felt it was necessary. The fact that it is silent proves that there was no global flood. Why can't you accept that it was just a local flood?

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    9. "Flying kangaroo" - have none of you heard of QANTAS? Totally plausible.

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    10. Shmuel - Occam's razor is a bias, it isn't a form of logic. It proves nothing, just allows people to ignore the full realm of possibilities before making a decision.
      But I never claimed that the kangaroos flew. If indeed a miracle occurred, your entire question is moot. I don't know how the miracle occurred, but the laws of nature are not binding, and scientific research will never understand it. That is what miracles are, by definition.
      You have to first prove why you think that the pre-flood was so similar to ours. Who told you that kangaroos were not ubiquitous at the time? Why are you limiting your imagination to what you have seen in today's world?

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    11. zichron - Occam's razor is that the simplest explanation is usually correct, but not always. It does not allow one to ignore all possibilities. Only the silly ones.

      The laws of nature are immutable, it is for all times, past, present, and the future. Surely your not ignorant when it comes to the functions of natural laws?

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    12. Who told you that the laws of nature are immutable? How are you so sure?
      I have a Torah, written by the One who created the world and its nature, that tells me that the Creator sometimes, albeit rarely, suspends the laws of nature for His purposes. Science cannot understand it, because it is above science. But it is true.

      Your blind belief in the immutability of the laws of nature notwithstanding.

      How have you 'empirically' or 'rationally' proven Occam's razor? Am I obligated to swear obsequiance to the great and holy Occam?

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    13. Occam's razor is a concept that is generally true. I don't need to prove it. The concept speaks for itself.

      Regarding natural laws, see the Rambam.

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    14. I loved that sentence 'I don't need to prove it'.
      The refuge of fundamentalists the world over.

      And your blind belief in the Rambam is also touching. But it isn't the Rambam, it is the dustcover summary of the Rambam's opinion. The Rambam certainly believed that miracles were a suspension of natural law. As they are by definition. He just didn't believe that that many miracles happened.

      But all hail Occam!

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    15. You are correct. Rambam did not believe in miracles or at least of a supernatural kind that violate the laws of nature.

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  9. "Flying Kangaroos or Damnation"

    Totally wrong, actually the opposite of his point. Saying "unknown" is not the same thing as "flying kangaroos". More accurate would be "Accepting Unknowns or Damnation". Because to be a Torah believing Jew, you must be prepared to accept unknowns. The Torah is full of them. And there are far more serious unknowns than the exact details of the Flood, such as tzadik v'ra lol, rasha v'tov lol. Anybody who tells you that he understands everything about the ways of God or the Torah is either completely ignorant or dishonest.

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    1. The kangaroo has to get from Australia to the Middle East.

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    2. Right, and his point is it is unknown how it got there. Why is this so hard to understand?

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    3. Did the obvious answer not even hit anyone here?
      Who says that kangaroos were indigenous to Australia at the time? How do you know that all animals were not ubiquitous?

      The answer is simple. Because if that were true, then one of your questions on the Mabul would not be correct. That may lead to the Torah's narrative being correct, and that is an impossibility.

      Great logic!

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    4. The only people saying that they know everything about the ways of God are the ones saying things like tragedy X was caused by women not being tznius enough.

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    5. Amazing that flying kangaroos would have the self-discipline and intelligence to remain on the Ark for all that time, rather than try their luck by winging it back to Australia (or anywhere else) once they saw the raging seas.

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    6. Those two things are completely unlike each other. Come on.

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    7. Marsupials live in Australia. Animals are suited to where they live.

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    8. @Happygoluckyperson how did the kangaroo get from Australia to the Middle East?

      A more difficult "unknown" to accept is why didn't the Torah mention kangaroos on the ark? Isn't the answer is because there weren't kangaroos on the ark? The fact that there weren't kangaroos on the ark does not delute religion at all.

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    9. Nachum - Marsupials currently live in Australia. How do you know that was always true? if you are using this claim to disprove the Torah's account, you had better be really sure of yourself. How can you be so sure?

      Shmuel - your claims get more and more ridiculous. Why should the Torah mention kangaroos? How can you prove anything from the non-mention in the Torah?

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    10. "Why should the Torah mention kangaroos? How can you prove anything from the non-mention in the Torah?" - this is a fair point but reinforces the notion that the Torah is a highly localised document rather than the universal template of heavenly knowledge it is often presented as.

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    11. If someone had a reason to want to believe that the Torah is not a repository of Divine wisdom, he would use specious 'proof' like that.
      But the proof is not the basis of the belief, it is the post fact rationalization thereof. The 'wish to believe' is the basis of such beliefs.

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    12. zichron - Fair enough, the Torah doesn't mention oranges either. On the other hand, one would expect a reasonable explanation for kangaroo migration to Australia. How else did they get there? Are we supposed to suspend our reason and imagine that flying kangaroos is a thing now? Where did their wings go? That would be ridiculous. You are opposed to Occam's razor, the simplest explanation is the truth.

      The Occam's razor is that the simplest explanation is usually correct and flying kangaroos is not the simplest explanation!

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  10. To be fair, how many Jews who already have obvious objections to the literalism of the story of Noah will either read such a book or take it remotely seriously. It's not like there are no other more rational, scientific and literary approaches to the story out there. I would imagine you would have to be a fairly ardent follower of this particular rabbi to either know about the book or to give it any real credence in the first place. In which case you probably believe what he's selling anyway.

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  11. Who said you that the kangaroos flied? They may been transported in a super-natural way such as a "way jump" (קפיצת הדרך): after all, why they were worse from Eliezer's camels? :-))

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    1. If Hashem used a miracle, then he wouldn't need a miracle. He could have had them in bubbles or something.

      "And how can this be? Because he IS the Kwisatz Hadarech!"

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  12. R.Slifkin:
    1. Assuming the Torah is the actual word of G-d (and hence true), how would you explain the Flood narrative?
    2. Assuming you did this (1), do you have any Torah authority / mefaraish that leaves room for your explanation within the parameters of Classic, Halachic, Judaism.

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    1. Iyov is also Truth. It just never happened. So is Shir HaShirim, and according to many Yonah. Mishlei and Kohelet aren't even stories, and are very true. The same for the Kuzari. You get the point.

      As to point two, define "classic." Halacha doesn't enter into it.

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    2. sure its complex, sure its a squeeze, which explains why Charedim shun science, not because the evidence is week, but rather because it constrains the possibility of Torah as literal history, and has a Chasidihe Yid I would really like it to be so, alas the evidence is much to strong so we have to fit the puzzle, it might not fit very elegantly but censoring & ignoring all the evidence is for less palatable.

      Delete
    3. The flood can be understood as allegory, in which case the lesson it teaches is a true lesson. The torah is clearly not written as an historically factual document. It can still be a "true" document.

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    4. It can't be understood as an allegory, there is an entire genealogy from Noach until Avraham! And from Avraham until the Jews! I guess the Jews are also an allegory? Maybe that explains some of the "allegorical" Jews posting here!

      Delete
    5. The genealogies are almost certainly allegorical. There are coincidentally 10 generations between each, something highly suspect. That implies it is either allegorical or shortened)abbreviated Many other ancient accounts and myths have such allegorical genealogies.

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    6. Wow, since there are 10 generation between each, this proves that the genealogy is "almost certainly allegorical"? Amazing! What a discovery! You should write a new peirush on the Torah, based on your new "method"!

      Guess what? I also made a discovery:

      Your comment was posted at 6:18, which is coincidentally the 613 mitzvos plus the 5 Chumashim. This is highly suspect. I can only conclude that your comment is almost certainly allegorical. Which is not unusual, many other people have made allegorical comments throughout history.

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    7. Try this out. Line up the genealogies of Kayin, starting one generation up with Adam, and Seth, starting one generation down with Enosh (which means the same thing as "Adam). Look at the names and all the other details, and tell me there isn't allegory there.

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    8. @Nachum, all literally true parts of the Torah have an allegorical dimension. How far will you have that,- to show that nothing is literally true?

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    9. Wow Nachum, so because there are similar names in each genealogy, that shows they are allegorical? And not only them, but the completely separate genealogy of Noach after the Mabul as well? We are reaching new, epic levels of brilliance never before imagined!

      But in all seriousness, if this is how one treats the Torah, as a joke book, then of course one will prefer archaeological guesswork or Manethos's history over the Torah.

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    10. You do realize that there is a vast ground between "every word is literally true" and "joke book," right? (Who even uses the words "joke book" anymore?) If anything, I'd say that those who take every word literally are the ones treating it as a joke book.

      One of my rebbeim, one of the frummest people I've ever known, said that we're free to say it's all allegorical until Matan Torah. He himself didn't believe that, but was basing himself on many "accepted" works of hashkafa by saying so.

      Delete
    11. You do realize that there's a vast difference between "not every word is literally true" and "I can say whatever the heck I want, wherever I want"? Your Purim Torah-esque "pshat" is an example of the second, not the first.

      I don't really care what nonsense your unnamed "frummest" rebbe spouted. If the Rambam would have written such a thing (c"v), his seforim would have been deservedly burned, and he would be remembered only as one of the many apostates in our history, like Anan. (Recall what happened when it was alleged that the Rambam denied Techias Hamaisim.) Kal v'chomer some random guy's unnamed rebbe. I am sorry to say that if her really held that way, and didn't do teshuva, he is in the good company of other extremely frum rabbis such as Abraham Geiger or Aaron Choriner.

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    12. The name was Chorin.

      The Rambam *did* write that. Oh, and in case you didn't know, the Rambam's books *were* burned.

      If you want to know where my rebbe is buried so you can take a minyan to his kever for mechila, ask.

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    13. That's why I said "deservedly"! And no, the Rambam wrote no such thing! If he did (c"v), he would not be remembered by us as the "Nesher Hagadol" but as the "Mumar Hagadol". Recall what happened when it was alleged that he denied Techias Hamaisim. Baruch Hashem he wrote that letter, and we didn't lose the Rambam!

      And I don't understand why I would need to ask mechila, according to you, it's the biggest complement that he had such "rational" opinions. Avraham Avinu never existed! Yetzias Mitzrayim never happened! Mamish the most rational of the rational!

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    14. Did you take a course in missing the point?

      Delete
    15. The point is that anybody who allegorizes the most basic ideas of our faith, such as that Hashem created the world, or that we descend from Avraham, Yitchak and Yaakov, or that Hashem took us out of Mitzrayim with אותות ומופתים, cannot in any way be called "frum". Any more than the pope can be called "frum". By definition. Without getting into the complicated halachic terms of "min", "kofer", "apikores", etc. It's just a laughable proposition to call such a person "frum", it's an oxymoron.

      However, I will assume that if this person really said that (if he existed and you're not just making this up), he did teshuva.
      אם ראית תלמיד חכם שעבר עבירה בלילה אל תהרהר אחריו ביום שמא עשה תשובה שמא סלקא דעתך אלא ודאי עשה תשובה

      Delete
    16. Never learned Perek Chelek, did ya?

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    17. Perek Chelek? Also an allegory! If Yetzias Mitzrayim is an allegory, so is everything else!

      Listen, you basically called your rebbe a kofer. Just own up to it. I am the one who was dan lekaf zechus. You are the one who should be tearfully asking mechila.

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    18. A guy who denies Yetzias Mitzrayim, trying to bring a rayah from Perek Chelek...it just ain't gonna work.

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    19. Yup, someone who's never actually learned it. I have nothing else to say to you.

      Delete
    20. Because you have no response. You deny the most basic fundamentals of the Torah. Then you quote some other anonymous person who also allegedly denied the Torah, as if that helps you (it doesn't). And then in a bizarre attempt at defending this person's denial of the Torah, you invoke Perek Chelek.

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    21. Neither I nor my rebbe ever denied anything. You assumed that, because you have bad faith.

      Delete
    22. פיך ענה בך
      "we're free to say it's all allegorical until Matan Torah." = Flat-out, straight-up denial of the most basic fundamentals of the Torah. Creation, Bris Avos, Yetzias Mitzrayim - never happened. I didn't need to assume anything.

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  13. "Clearly he has never remotely studied the histories of numerous ancient civilizations - Andean civilizations, Chinese civilization, Mesopotamian civilization, Egyptian civilization and others - all of which continued uninterrupted during the entire period."

    Clearly you have not. Their earliest written histories and king lists were only written centuries after the latest date of the Flood. Our Torah is more reliable. Everything else is exactly the soft science he's talking about.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Most of Tanach, including the entire Sefer Bereishit, was written "centuries after the fact" even by the most frum standards. Moshe lived 400 years after Avraham, and much more than that after Noach.

      The kings were also written about only centuries later.

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    2. The Ramban in Chumash writes how Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov all knew Shem the son of Noach. They had heard a firsthand account of the Mabul, and taught it to their children. Klal Yisroel was born with a second hand account of the Mabul, and they entered Mitzrayim as a nation with this story, as told to them by their living father/grandfather.

      But, as is clear from many discussions on this topic, the fact that something is written in the Torah is enough reason for some people to discount it. So Parshas Noach is another proof that the Mabul never happened.

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    3. there's nothing "soft" about carbon dating, or ring trees or DNA continuity without any bottlenecks at the time of the Mabul or any proof soft or hard about a worldwide flood, there's plenty of evidence for a worldwide ice age during Huronian and Cryogenian glaciations and mountains of evidence for a ancient universe and ancient earth for multiple disciplines accepted by all educated people worldwide, too bad you insist on reading the Torah as a history book

      Delete
    4. Clearly you never read a science book. Egypt existed before the flood. You cannot accept that because you feel science attacks your faith. It doesn't. There were many pre-civilizations before the flood. This is a fact.

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    5. zichron, I imagine you are aware that neither Avraham, nor Yitzchak, nor Yaakov wrote the Torah.

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    6. Hmmm, in case I wasn't clear enough before...

      There are no human histories from before the mabul. All human histories were written much later. All claims of an Egypt before the mabul rely on the dubious evidence of archaeology. You can believe those, or you can believe the Torah, which is definitely teaching us history with it's genealogy lists. True, the Torah was also written later, and even so, we trust it, since it is the word of God.

      And the "local flood" theory is just an ad-hoc cop-out, doesn't fit the text of the Torah at the end of parshas Bereishis, and doesn't remotely solve the alleged problem of Egypt.

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    7. Shmuel - I already explained how weak your position is in previous comments.

      You accept 'facts' on faith for some reason. One of those 'facts' is Egyptian pre-flood civilization. There is less proof of that than there is to the Torah's account of the flood. But you have no wish to disbelieve that, so it stands. It is based on your feelings, not on actual proof.

      Delete
    8. You should visit the British Museum some time.

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    9. I'm sure if I visited the British Museum, I would be totally convinced. In fact, I can almost visit it from the comfort of my home... UH OH! You ruined me! Now I have to make a trip to Ark Encounter in Kentucky to get my faith back!

      Delete
    10. "The Hat November 17, 2021 at 5:56 PM
      "You should visit the British Museum some time."

      Can't afford the airfare. What do you mean?

      Delete
    11. zichron - If I take you to Egypt and you see for yourself how old the pyramids are, then will you believe me?

      Delete
    12. How will I 'see for myself'? I can't figure it out, and any dating method is hobbled by the fact that there is no way to reproduce the experiment, a necessary component of the empirical method. If you guys, who mistakenly refer to yourselves as rationalists, who believe so much in the empirical method, were honest, you would admit that much of your methods of proving history are guesswork.

      Delete
    13. I admit it is guesswork but the pyramids seem to pre-date the flood.

      Delete
    14. Wow!
      So first the pyramids are 'proof' against the Torah's narrative of the flood. And when some anonymous guy on the internet puts your feet to the fire, you need to admit that it was mere 'guesswork'. So someone's guesses are sufficient to you to knock out the Torah.
      Wow!

      As is obvious to all, the way these questions become issues is only after the belief in the Torah has been knocked down to some fairy tale. When someone accepts Torah as Min Hashomayim and appreciates its importance, most questions become totally moot.

      Delete
    15. While it is mere guesswork, it is more likely than a global flood. The Bible never says it was a global flood. G-d would not be that foolish. It does say there was a local flood, and this has been proven.

      Delete
    16. Shmuel - your desperation is getting more and more obvious.
      The Torah says וימח את כל היקום אשר על פני האדמה - that means global.
      Your attempt at understanding G-d's mind is equally foolish. The only thing we know about G-d's mind is that which He revealed in His Torah. And he revealed that a flood came.

      I rarely argue Hashkafah, but every time I do, I am amazed at the mental laziness that is 'rationalism' and the revisionist beliefs

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    17. Rambam said that all we can know about G-d is what He created, the laws of nature. And the natural laws do not show a global flood in archaeology. Rather, there was a small, local flood. This makes sense. After all, to flood the entire earth is quite a waste of water.

      Delete
  14. It is worth noting that there is not a single element of the mabul account in the chumash that references anything outside the Middle East region (animal types, Mt. Ararat, etc.).

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    1. To be fair, the entire story mentions only two animals specifically, a raven and a dove, and only one place.

      Delete
    2. True enough. Just Mt Ararat wouldn't have been the first mountain to become uncovered, but like the 563rd.

      Delete
    3. Mt Ararat was where the ark landed.

      Delete
  15. Anti-rationalist arguments eventually come down to "Comply or die in this life and the next."

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    Replies
    1. Pseudo-rationalist arguments eventually come down to "Come on! All the cool kids/scientists believe this. Stop being obstinate and asking questions, and just accept what we all accept. Life will be easier that way."

      Delete
    2. I accept that the Rabbi Doctor is very much a Chasid of his own medical and scientific Gedolim; but there are also objective and substantive evidence to contend with as well.

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    3. "All the cool kids/scientists believe this."

      ...and yet it is science that provides the PROVEN life saving treatments we all rely upon (to name but one of many things)

      "Stop being obstinate and asking questions, and just accept what we all accept. Life will be easier that way."

      Actually -- and I think you know this - this is the methodology of religious dogma - it's immutability, its permanence, its singular truth. It is the scientific method that adapts to the realities of nature & environment in order to re-assess & reframe its approaches to providing answers & solutions. Science can admit to errors or multiple approaches. It is not a binary form of belief at all.

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    4. Not really - the goal is to have the rest of the Jewish world realize that the rationalist approach is acceptable now and was acceptable in the past. Rationalists are not opposed to anti-rationalism, we just disagree with it.

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    5. Meir Moses - I will assume you are sincere and answer you, as well as anyone else who might fall for your statements.

      Someone who trusts modern science to provide medication for his disease is precisely the person who should reject the academic historical views. Because the level of proof necessary for a medication to be considered remotely effective is many levels higher than 'accepted, settled' history. Historians get away with anything, they can make up whatever they want, and demand solid proof to disprove them. It is frightening to read what they have to sell, and how they go about assembling proof to their ideas. If someone trusts 'historians', he should be using aloe vera to treat covid. They are of equal intelligence levels.

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    6. Actually -- and I think you know this - this is the methodology of religious dogma - it's immutability, its permanence, its singular truth. It is the scientific method that adapts to the realities of nature & environment in order to re-assess & reframe its approaches to providing answers & solutions. Science can admit to errors or multiple approaches. It is not a binary form of belief at all.

      That is the caricature lazy people have placed on theology. Perhaps other religions are like that, but Torah Judaism never was. I have been in Yeshivos for all of my life, and nobody ever spoke to me like that.
      Science is not a monolithic discipline. Medications can be tweaked or fall out of favor. But the basics of science have become dogma. I don't have the inclination or time to explain my position on evolution, but I have never, in years of searching, found phenomena that is explained by evolution and inexplicable by Intelligent Design. It is just that Intelligent Design requires a person to appreciate that his own intelligence is limited, and evolutionary science can believe באמונה פשוטה ושלימה that good times are coming and all of the things they don't know today, they will tomorrow. This is dogma, and it is extremely uncool to suggest this to scientists. So those that want to be cool, don't. And all copy the cool kids.

      Delete
  16. Rabbi Meiselman runs a Yeshiva, and Professor Slifkin runs a museum. If their roles were reversed, the museum might be smaller - but the boys would no longer be Jewish.

    There have been ten thousand Professor Slifkins throughout Jewish history. All very sophisticated, knowledgeable, well-informed - you name it. And every one of them who tried to teach his methods ended up a failure. We Jews are still here today, not because of Slifkins, but in spite of them. So while he's out here calling people "ignorant" because they believe in miracles, he might want to think if maybe some of those ignoramuses' might just have a little more seichel than he.

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    Replies
    1. I didn't call Rabbi Meiselman ignorant for believing in miracles.

      Delete
    2. You are making a prudential argument--that is, we need Rabbi Meiselman's approach because otherwise, we Jews would no longer be here today. Perhaps you are right. But I hope you recognize that your argument does not strengthen the truth of RM's position. In essence, you are saying, RM may be arrogant, wrong, incorrect, shamefully ignorant, etc., but nonetheless, we need useful people to perpetuate the lies for the greater good. I kinda like it.

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    3. I've found R' Slifkin inspiring. R' Meiselman pushes a corrupt form of Judaism that is dishonest and dissociated from reality. If being Jewish required me to give up basic science and believe everything R' Meiselman wants me to believe, then I would have no part in it.

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    4. What does that even mean? If R' Meiselman and R' Slifkin switched places.

      Anyway, to address your underlying concept: there have been Slifkins before.
      One was called Herzl. One was called Ben-Gurion. One was called Eliezer Ben-Yehuda. One was called Albert Einstein. Jews who valued their heritage but specialized in something not exactly within the daled amos of the beis medrash. Without them, where would we be? How would the world be different?

      Every generation has leaders that are not Roshei Yeshiva. We need them like we need the Roshei Yeshiva. If Albert Einstein was the head of the Yeshiva of Radin in 1900 and the Chafetz Chayim was writing papers about relativity and the photoelectric effect... what would that even mean?? [tosses papers into the air]

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    5. No? Whence the Rabbi's ignorance, then? Cant read a Teisfos? No good at math? Perhaps we misunderstood - most of us are not brilliant museum directors, you know. Would you deign to make your commentary clearer for us enlightened hicks? Sure *looked* you were calling him ignorant for believing the Ark was miraculous...

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    6. He may not be ignorant for believing in miracles but he is ignorant when it comes to the functions of natural laws.

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    7. D. Joseph - I said nothing near as much as you said. Perpetuating "lies" for the greater good is a concept only people like professor Slifkin here grasp on to, to justify to themselves sticking to religion when they're married to it, raise their kids in it, and don't believe in it. Sooths the conscience, you see. Someone like RM most certainly does not think he is perpetuating a lie. (And stam in general I would note, in this age of covid and woke nonsense, half of western society believes in perpetuating lies for the greater good.

      Yosef R - are you really comparing Natan Slifkin to Herzl, Ben Gurion, and Ben Yehuda? Really?

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    8. @a Schreiber I happen to agree with you. Their is great value in fundamentalism as a tool in propagating our faith. The route slifkins takes is for us tortured intellectuals as a tool for our worship. I certainly don't hope our (rns) method becomes mainstream.

      Delete
    9. You do know that thd vast majority of Jews aren't religious, right?

      Delete
  17. "And so everything was a miracle. The animals were supernaturally transported from all over the world to the Ark - the kangaroos flew in from Australia, the sloths from South America. "

    Being unnecessarily pedantic, and completely irrelevant to the substance of the article. Technically, we don't know where the animals came from to board the ark, only where they want after disembarking from it.

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  18. Mates, we can't figure out the story of creation or the flood. Learn the various good messages from it and let it rest.

    זהֲרִאישׁ֣וֹן אָ֭דָם תִּוָּלֵ֑ד
      וְלִפְנֵ֖י גְבָע֣וֹת חוֹלָֽלְתָּ׃
    חהַבְס֣וֹד אֱל֣וֹהַּ תִּשְׁמָ֑ע
      וְתִגְרַ֖ע אֵלֶ֣יךָ חׇכְמָֽה׃

    ReplyDelete

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