Kentucky Christians vs. Modern Charedim on Noah's Ark
Amazing stuff. The Rishonim like Ramban have no problem ascribing things to miracles (let alone the other Rishonim who were mysteriously left unmentioned here who have no problem with unstressed miracles throughout Tanach; eg. Yocheved giving birth at 130 was, as some rishonim say, 'not such a big deal that it had to be mentioned', et al.).
However: if they'd be alive today they'd agree with Natan. Why? Cuz he says so. And he's an authority on these matters, you see.
Maybe if the Ran would be alive today and see that his theory doesn't fit scientifically he'd agree with Ramban? Nah. Natan doesn't say so.
Or maybe almost nothing actually observable has changed since the time of the Rishonim as far as the viability of the story? They couldn't think of the question of ventilation? Or of how they survived in the conditions? Ah, the primitive Ramban didn't chap that animals tend to have different habitats. After all, he thought elephants can jump so maybe he assumed they, like, took turns with the other animals keeping their feet on the floor. Thank god (or whomever) for zoologists.
The myth of the Rebbe who embarrassed a teen for asking questions is a canard invented by otds seeking to justify themselves.
Most Rebbeim will answer "I don't know the answer, and it's best if you don't think too much about this". They don't embarrass a teen for asking questions on emuna at all.
If someone interrupts the shiur on Bava Kama with an emuna question and refuses to back down, he may be embarrassed. And he may misrepresent the story as having been embarrassed for asking a question. But that would not be the truth.
"Your honor, of course I went to the bathroom. Everyone goes to the bathroom, it's a natural function of life".
"Yes, but not in the middle of a dance floor at a wedding".
He punished me for going to the bathroom!
Well, well, well, look who's feeling oh-so-noble with their fancy introduction. After snarkily attacking Charedim for not having their own Genesis and Great Flood museums, your arguments were completely demolished by HGL https://irrationalistmodoxism.substack.com/p/part-3-the-intellectually-challenged and Rational Traditionalist https://irrationalistmodoxism.substack.com/p/natan-and-the-cavemen,
So now you've moved on to sulking about those crazy rigid fundamentalists who are not tolerant enough to allow others who are not as fundamental as them a place in Judaism. We should rename you Natan the Chameleon.
Well, if all you'd do is open a Gateways or Arachim seminar, that would be one thing. But you feel the need to go and consistently attack the Charedim for following the traditional approach by understanding that Genesis is from the deepest secrets of the Torah and far beyond our comprehension, as it is described by Chazal.
And let's not forget your proposed solutions that completely disregard the framework of Torah. As HGL so aptly pointed out, the Torah is not some malleable lump of silly putty that you can just mold to fit your own agenda. If you have a solution that works within traditional parameters and doesn't involve saying that the Torah is fabricated or other flat-out heresy, that would be fine. Unless, of course, you're willing to throw out the whole thing and declare parts of the Torah a complete fabrication. You know, like those early Reformers who ended up turning Judaism into a watered-down mess. Great idea, champ.
"It’s easy for them to just disqualify approaches that they consider theologically problematic, without having to actually deal with the challenges that the people in the aforementioned category are grappling with."
You don't have to answer all the challenges in Judaism, especially when your "solution" is worse than the challenge. See that part of my essay here "Will this question kill you?"
"I would hope that they would recognize this and keep their opinions to themselves, unless they are comfortable with making people feel that they cannot be part of the religious Jewish community."
People with the attitude that such questions are a deal breaker for Judaism are already not part of the Jewish religious community. Certainly I don't consider you as that.
"There is no mention whatsoever of all the extraordinary miracles - far greater than that of Kriyas Yam Suf - which Rabbi Meiselman’s approach requires."
Meaningless nonsense. What does it mean for a miracle to be greater or lesser than והמים להם חומה מימינם ומשמאלם? The Mabul was also a much greater scale than Kriyas Yam Suf. Chazal add a whole bunch of miracles that the pasuk doesn't mention, both with the Mabul and Kriyas Yam Suf. Let us just say this objection... doesn't hold water!!🥁
"And they describe the extreme difficulties involved in managing so large a task, rather than saying that Noach had supernatural assistance."
Yeah but they still agree the Mabul was supernatural, and even add miracles that the Torah doesn't mention. The idea that they would be ideologically opposed to more miracles, if necessary, is just ludicrous.
"Rambam does not discuss the logistics of the Ark, but with his general strong preference to minimize the supernatural, it’s safe to assume that he would not have been willing to say that such miracles occurred with the Ark."
Only if there is a better solution. Your preferred solution is worse.
"Ramban, on the other hand, famously asks that the Ark could not have been big enough to hold all the animals, especially including such things as elephants, and answers that this was a miracle. ... Second, he doesn’t simply wave it off as being all miracles, but rather fits it into a previous known category of miracles in which something small can encompass something large."
What is "known category of miracles"??? You just made up that concept on the spot!!! 😂😂 Also, who told you about מיעוט מחזיק את הרובה in the first place? There is absolutely no mention in the pesukim of that, it is an interpretation of Chazal and is to answer the challenge from מציאות. Just like the Ramban and all those who add miracles to the Mabul are doing.
"And more recent rabbinic authorities, such as my own mentor Rav Aryeh Carmell ztz”l, preferred to see the story as being designed to impart powerful theological messages."
This doesn't solve any of the challenges, unless (as is likely the case) you are willing to say the Mabul is fictional, like you said with Bereishis in TCOC.
"We can see that they did not want to just write everything off as being miraculous, and they would have been especially opposed to miracles that are designed to mislead."
And your solution is that the Torah was designed to mislead.
“This is a magnificent life-size reproduction of Noah’s Ark and is the largest timber frame structure in the USA. Interpreting a cubit as 20 inches rather than 18, it’s over five hundred feet long!”
It’s amusing to learn some people are under the impression (I assume you’re quoting Ark Adventure propaganda) this is the largest timber frame structure in the US. I can assure you that is incorrect. Your Ark would look pretty puny if situated next to the real largest structure in the US (and possibly the world) which is TRESTLE -also about 12 stories tall. (We used to use it to simulate the effects of nuclear EMP on large strategic bombers in flight, and needed a platform without any metal that might deform the impinging free field electromagnetic wave. Lack of metal extended to joints and connectors and the whole contraption was held together with glue.) TRESTLE was decommissioned after the fall of the Soviet Union (when, sadly, other really cool activities in US western deserts were abruptly canceled), and I haven’t been back to Kirtland AFB is some years, but I believe it’s still standing. Because what after all, were you going to do with the thing.
"This post was written for those who are committed to the tenets of Judaism"
Which tenets of Judaism? Charity? Ohhh, you mean *Orthodox* Judaism. Most Judaism isn't Orthodox, so you should be more specific. The majority of Judaism is not challenged by the fact that the Torah contains a flood myth (well, two, kinda).
"unless they are comfortable with making people feel that they cannot be part of the religious Jewish community"
Plenty of religious Jews welcome those who understand the Torah that way: they're called non-fundamentalists. You meant the *Orthodox* Jewish community.
I think everybody, including Reb Noson, and Rabbi Meiselman (and even the Kentucky Christians) can support their positions from Tanach, Chazal and/or reason. However, in reality, in a sense, they are all barking up the wrong tree. I have written an English language Torah thesis entitled, Creation and Divine Providence (subtitled: Four Treatises that Explain and Elucidate the Subjects from the Torah Rational Logical Approach). It is composed of pieces from my Sefer Nachal Chaim, translated (from Hebrew) and rewritten. It is available for download (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The point that you make in the last paragraph is excellent! (Not to detract from the article itself).
Why does Ark encounter depice the ark streamlined like a ship? It was a box. It didn't have to go anywhere. It just had to float.
I think the reticence of the modern Chareidi approach in dealing with the technicalities of the mabul/ark is
1. The focus is mostly on the lesson of the flood. Thus while they may think that the whole earth was flooded and they take all the midrashim literally, it ultimately doesn't make much difference whether the flood encompassed the entire earth or just the Middle East - the lesson is the same.
2. Deep down, Chareidim know it is ridiculous to rewrite history like the Fundamentalist Christians do, and therefore would not explicitly do so.
My two cents.
I don't see a problem with RNS explanation or the Ark Encounter as both work for some people. Charedi approach is more evolitionary sound for the survival of the group as it keeps more people within the fold and avoids greater confusion by exposing people to theories which more often then not lead to the denial of כל התורה כולה. If Torah is of primary importance to you and you want to see בנים ובני בנים עוסקים בתורה ובמיצוות charedi way is the way to go. There is no better alternative with all the shortcomings notwithstanding, or at least this is what I think.
Charedim are practicing the עשו סייג לתורה, which is what enabled our survival for 2,500 years since this principal had been established. From the evolutionary perspective they have done better then any other approach and I don't understand why this blog, written by an evolutionist, keeps beating a dead horse.
You've told us what you believe is the "approach" that "Charedim" - all hundreds of thousands of them, apparently - have on the Ark. What do you think is the "approach" of the MO? Or of the Yeshiva world generally (unless you view this world as "charedim", which would be news to those in America.) What are their "approaches"? Is it any different than Charedim? Are you again letting your biases cloud your thinking? Maybe pretty much all orthodox Jews in their millions, of whatever stripe, have the same approach, and it is only you, Professor Slifkin, and a few others, that think otherwise?
When a person has a Question, it is usually a product of a lot of questions. If the person asking the questions has a basis in Judaism, and understands that לא מחשבותי מחשבותיכם and it is a feature of G-d's actions in this world that they will not be fully understandable by the limited human logic, he will often find answers and his questions will not lead him to kefira. It is when those questions are treated like life and death questions, telling the teen that he does not need to follow that which his puny mind does not understand, that the questions become Questions.
And there is no answer to Questions. They will eventually kill a person. When I hear or read them from people I sometimes am shocked by the frivolity of the questioner, about how little appreciation they have for the abstract, and how limited their thought processes are. But once they have told themselves that their own understanding is the only thing that counts, as foolish as this opinion is, there is no way back.
Of course, this is a dishonest way to live. Nobody needs to understand engineering to enter a building or drive across a bridge. Yet, when it comes to Yiddishkeit, it is insufficient that really really wise people, like the Chafetz Chaim, Rabbi Akiva Eger and the Ramban, all dedicated their lives to Torah uMitzvos. Without their own understanding, there is nothing to go with. This is dishonest and people should recognize it as such.
Coming from someone who trusts "modern scientists" with a proven agenda of falsifying facts....... more than Chazal.....
Not aware of an answer to the Mabul question that is both intellectually honest and consistent with Torah. Local flood approach or Myth/Allegory/Metaphor approaches are full of holes and will sink. I consider the Mabul a major challenge to Orthodox Judaism. ACJA