Continuation of Discussion on R' Slifkin and Weiss from Manchester Eiruv Thread

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    rob: Ikkarei Emunah is not a straw man. It’s important here. The Rambam says that we cannot Pasken disputes in things that have no Halachic relevance (what you call Aggadita). Ikkarei Emunah are Halachically relevant and therefore can be Paskened.

    And there is a tremendous difference between saying “We can’t Pasken disputes in Aggada” and “we can’t Pasken by Aggada”. Namely, the difference is that one is Mach’chish Magideha and one isn’t.


    Charlie Hall:

    Have you read “The Rav: Thinking Aloud” by R’ Holzer? The serious inconsistencies (noted by Professor Kaplan himself in his essay “Revisionism and the Rav Revisited”) throw a wrench in the mix. It is no longer simply Professor Kaplan versus the right-wingers.

    Prof. Kaplan addresses them in a way he sees fit there. Personally, I feel that the correct approach lies along the difference between the way one feels about an issue and the way he relates to others regarding it. This difference is apparent all the time–we choose how to deal with different people based on a myriad of factors, only one of which is our personal views on the matter. (For example, although I may be highly critical of many things heavily associated with Mizrachi, I honestly think I can–and would, if appropriate–give an even more Zionistic speech than most American Zionists would. Why? Because I’m more interested in serving G-d than having silly, fruitless arguments. It would not lie at all, I would simply highlight the congruent areas and build upon them.) In other words, I think R’ Soloveitchik, because he saw a good cause, chose to motivate them and highlight those positives and keep his reservations out of the public sphere.

    But no matter how you feel they should be addresse]d, simply saying that “Prof. Kaplan has caught R’ Meiselman” distorting the truth belies the reality of the matter.

    Drey kup

    Slifkin, on his blog, is constantly and consistently attacking and being mevaze many rabbonim. Sometimes individually by name and oftentimes large groups of rabbonim without specifying all the individualy rabbonim but being clear which large groups of rabbonim he is attacking. And not just criticizing, but ferociously attacking.


    Drey Kop: So? He is defending his positions forcefully. I have never seen him “being mevazeh” rabbonim of any kind. Why can’t one “attack ferociously” if the arguments are right? BTW- I have also never see him doing even what you are saying.

    Drey kup

    Then you don’t read his stuff often. He is constantly engaged in just that. He bashes plain frum Jews too.

    Ben Levi


    However misrepresenting positions of Rishonim to try and advance your agenda is at the very least gross dishonesty.

    So since you have disputed what the meaning of the Rambam in Peirush HaMishnayos (that I linked to earlier is) I will provide a literal English Translation.

    The Following is the Rmabma in Peirush Hamishnayos, the introduction to Chelek where he discusses Aggadita.

    The second group and they are many as well are the ones who see the words of the sages or hear them and think they mean only the simple meaning. And they think that Wise Men had no intention other then what the simple MEaning indicates.

    And they come to belittle and put forth “Dibah” on what has no “dibah” and they laugh at the words of the Wise Men.

    They think their knowledge is more refined then theirs and that the Wise Men did not know the reality’s and did not comprehend matters of wisdom.

    The majority of those people are Doctor’s and Astologers, BEcause they think that with their great thoughts they are wiser in their own eyesand their philosophy is sharp.

    How far are these people they from mankind when compared to those who were really wise and philosophersof truth.

    However this second group is better then the first hover many of them are fools and they are cursed because they ansewer on those who are far greater then them and men whos were considered Wise by Wise Men.

    And if these fools would actually toil and work until they would actually know how it is proper to write the Wisdom of G-d for both the general public as well as wise men so they can know the practical from the philosophy then they would actually understand the wisdom of the Wise Men ect..”

    Now how you ROB came to the conclusion that the Rambam is talking about PEsukim I have no idea.


    Drey kup: The best Pshat in that is that he was badly hurt by the Chareidi community and is lashing out. That’s why I ignore his criticisms of them.

    Drey kup

    Sam2, I’m sorry, but that does not in any way justify his constant being mevaze talmidei chachomim.


    Ben levi: As I said, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. You quote (incorrectly, I may point out)only a section of the Rambam. Why don’t you continue and quote the “third group” (the so-called wise men) and see what the Rambam writes about what they do know? You will see that the Rambam clearly is talking about how to interpret Pesukim and Sifrei tenach.not science or mundane matters.

    Patur Aval Assur

    And what justifies people constantly being mevazeh him?


    The Rambam is pretty clear:

    In More Nevuchim (3:14)

    “Do not ask me to reconcile everything that they (i.e. Chazal) mentioned regarding astronomy with what is reality, for the sciences in those days were lacking, and they did not speak about them through traditions from the prophets, but rather on their own independent knowledge or what was obtained from contemporary scientists.”

    Like was pointed out earlier, Rabbi Slifkin never says that his opponents views are not valid opinions.

    In either case I never quite understood the argument that the Rambam is a daas yochid so we can’t Pasken like him.

    We are talking about a Mitzius, if the mitzius is that he is correct (That Chazal’s science was based on that of the scientists of their times and was not given to them via the Mesorah) then it doesn’t matter who argued with him-because he was right!

    The argument HAS to be about the proofs that exist for what scientists say vs the proofs to what Chazal say in scientific matters; Arguing that we can’t or don’t “Pasken” like someone is missing the point.

    Ben Levi

    ROB I really don’t know how you can claim I am qouting “incorrectly” when all I am doing is providing a virtual word for word translation without offering any of my own “interpetations”.

    However you asked for the ‘Third Group”.

    Here goes.

    “The Third goup,and they are so small they are so few it is hardly fitting to call them a group, rather a type. And they are those to whom it is understood the greatness of the “Wise Men” and the goodness of their knowledge from what is found within their words that point to things that are true in a deep way.

    And even though these things are few and are scattered throughout in places of their works they point to the “completeness” and that they comprenhended the truth and realized what was things that caused things to stop and what was reality that had to be.

    And all that they say do not say idle words.

    And it is understood by this group that words of the Wise Men have a plain meaning and a deeper meaning and when they spoke about things that are impossibe they spoke in riddles and this is the way of the Wise Men.

    And this is why the Wisest of all Men began his book by stating it is “To understand allegories the words of the Wise Men and their Riddles”

    It goes on but I think I’ve written enough.

    Of course if you can provide any examples of what I am “not understanding” or what I am not “translating correctly”, please feel free.

    Ben Levi


    If one wants to understand the Moreh NEvuchim in anextremly literal sense then it’s not that the Rambam was aDa’as Yuchid, it’s that all the Rishonim very forcefull argued and condemned the approach of Moreh Nevuchim including Rabbeinu Yonah, The Rashba, The Rivash,The Ramban, the Mahral and the achronim till out times.

    The basis for the forceful condemnation of the Moreh Nevuchim is because the “metzius”was that the Rambam did not learn Kabbolah (See the Chida in Shem HaGedolim for an interesting reason why) and as such was limited in explaining certain concepts of Chazal.

    Based on this the Rishonim and Achronim in virtual unison forcefully condemned the approach taken (Again see the last of The Nineteen Letters of Rav Shamshon R. Hirsh zt”l for an extremly forceful essay against Moreh Nevuchim.

    As such many Gedolim have stated that Slifkin is basically taking an approach that was excoriated by the Gedolei Yisroel for over 1000 plus years as being “outside the pale” See Ramban on Chumash Parshas VaYeira for ex.) and stating it should be given legitamcy.

    Ben Levi

    As for the qoute that was 00646 provided from MN.

    I admit that I am not entirey familiar with MN as opposed to the Rambam’s other writing since I was told by my Rabbeim that the Mesorah was not learn it without a Rebbi.

    However I would offer that I do not think that it’s a contradiction since the Ramchall in Mamar Al Aggadita states that at times the main purpose of Chazal were to write “Sodos” so they woud not be forgotten.

    However since they could not write this openly they used the “language” of their time to write things so that it would not harm those who did not understand the true meaning while it would be there for those on a sufficient level to understand the real intention.

    Based on this it would seem to me that the Rambam you are qouting in MN is merely stating that when Chazal wrote things at times they only wrote according to what was the science of their day, since their intention was not to write things from MEsorah.

    However in reality Chazal knew far more then what was scientifically known in their day, which is basicaly the position of the Rambam in Chelek and what is explained in detail by the Ramchal.

    Ben Levi

    I just wanted to add that I ch”v am not trying to give my opinions on the Rambam’s approach to anything.

    All am I am doing is stating what the opinions of the Gedolei Yisroel were on such matter’s and what the Mesorah throughout the Doros has been.

    Again ch”v for me to give personal opinions on such matters when they have been discussed by all Gedolei Yisroel.

    I also would like to point out that the Rishonim and Achronim did not condemn the Rambam ch”v and the perfect proof is RSRH whose sefer Chorev is actually based on the Rambam’s style, they did condemn and write against the approach of Moreh NEvuchim if it is to be understood a certain way.

    There were of course Gedolei Yisroel who had different approaches to understanding the Moreh Nevuchim and in fact RAbbi MEiselmann in his book spends considerable time attempting to prove from the totality of the Rambam’s writing on such matter’s that they in fact were correct in their approach to the Moreh Nevuchim.

    Such Gedolei Yisroel include the Rogatchver and Rav Elchonon Wasserman zt”l.

    The sum total is that their is a “memuh nifshach” if one accepts the Moreh Nevuchim at face value and understands it in a literal sense then it was forcefully disputed and pushed away by the Rishonim starting from about 30 years after the Rambam’s petirah (according to the Chidah) until modern time


    If one wishes to point to the fact that there were in fact Gedolim who did accept Moreh Nevuchim, well if one would look a tad deeper they would see that they invariably understood the Moreh Nevuchim differently then the literal meaning i.e he couched certain Torah concepts in greek termininology to reach certain individuals.

    Patur Aval Assur

    I see from the recent comments that people did not take my advice so I’ll offer it again:

    I think that anyone interested in the truth in this matter should extensively read the following list of sources before saying anything else on this matter. Google “torah science et al”

    Click on the top option

    Click on the link which says Sources indicating that Chazal did not…(inserted per user request)


    Ben Levi,

    My point was simply that when discussing if Chazal erred in science the discussion has to be about the proofs to Chazal’s science vs the Proofs to Modern Scientific statements. Even if EVREY SINGLE talmud chachom who lived after the Rambam argued on him; if the Mitzius is that he was correct then he was correct. Doesn’t matter who argued.

    To say that the Moreh Nevuchim is not meant to be read literally is a very difficult statement. As the rambam did not write it for talmidie chachomim only- he wrote it in Arabic so even common people could read it.

    Ben Levi


    As for whether the Rambam wrote it for everybody to understand it.

    Well the Rambam wrote it as a private letter to a talmid and was pretty clear that it discussed matters that were not able to be understood by the general public.

    I think that’s pretty clear.

    As for scientific proofs, I think I must not have been clear enough.

    One of the “mainstrea” positions, and the one I personally was taight as being that of the Ramchal is that of course there are various statments in Chazal that are not in line with conventional science.

    However that is not because Chazal were limited only to the knowledge that science had in thier day. Rather Chazal knew far more based on Mesorah and Missed on their deep understanding of Torah and the way the world works “Hafuch Buh V’Hsfuch Buh Dkuloh Buh”.

    However when Chazal wrote what appears to be simple scientific facts in most instances they did really care if what they were writing was in actuallity the case, rather the intent was the information that was “encoded within” What the Vilna Gaon says are the “all the secrets of the Torah”.

    Writing it in such away meant that it would not harm people that are incapabe of properly understanding SOdos but they would be preserved for those who reached the level where they could understand Pardes.

    And while the Rambam may not have learnt Kabbola in the piece I qouted He seems to be taking a similar approach based on the fact that the Rambam feels it is readily apparent from places in Chazal thatthey were far ahead of their times.

    Again when it comes to Metzius, what has been virtually unanimously accepted since Rav Moshe Leon and the discovery of Zohar and more importantly from when the Ramban was exiled from Spain and spent time with the Raavad who proved to him the truth of the Zohar and the Pardes within is the esoteric leve of the Torah.


    Ben Levi,

    I have a question for you (and those who take a similar approach)

    Lets rewind time Suppose we lived as the Gemara was written down, and I were to say to you wow the chachamim are realy up to date on modern science they even discuss halachos relating to the well known phenomena of spontaneus generation such as mud turning to dirt, killing lice on shabbos etc…

    Would you have replied: well not quite, chazal dont actually accept modern science “when Chazal wrote what appears to be simple scientific facts in most instances they did really care if what they were writing was in actuallity the case, rather the intent was the information that was “encoded within”


    Ben Levi: If anyone can understand what you are writing,please elucidate me! The contortions you have to go through to make any sense to support your shittah shows how untenable it is to normal people. You keep on saying that just anything chazal (and the Rambam) said concerning science and the natural sciences is a “SOD”- a secret! Well ,it must such a great secret because no one knows what your are talking about! You know perfectly well that,even in torah, we have a klal “ein mikro jotzei midei peshuto”. Why should we read the Rambam other than what he actually meant to write? And what secrets did chazal hide in some of their sayings about natural sciences that have been proven worng? Sorry but I prefer to be logical.

    As far as the pirush Hamishnayos,why don’t you read a few lines further that you quoted? If I have time, I’ll write the translation.

    Ben Levi


    I really have no idea what I would have told you.

    Depends on what I would have been.

    Patur Aval Assur

    Ok. I see that I am actually going to have to post some of the sources from the afforementioned link since no one wants to check it out themselves. So for starters, I think this is apropos for the recent comments:

    ??? ?? ????? ????? ?????? ???? ??”? ?????? ?????, ?? ?? ?????? ??????? ?????, ??? ?? ?????? ???? ????? ??????? ???, ??? ??? ?’ ????? ??? ?? ????”? ?????? ????? ?? ???? ?????, ???? ??”?, ???”? ?????? ????? ?”? ??????? ???????, ??? ?? ?? ???? ?? ???? ??”? ???? ??? ??????? ?????, ??? ???”? ?”? ?? ???? ?????? ??????? ????? ?????? ??? ?? ????? ???? ??? ???? ??? ??????? ????? ???? ????? ??”? ????? ????? ???????? ????? ????, ??? ?? ??? ??????? ????? ?’ ???? ??? ????????, ???? ?????? ?? ?????? ??? ?????? –


    Ben Levi,

    1.) The Rambam clearly writes in the beginning of the Moreh that he is writing it for anyone who struggles with the apparent contradictions between the science of his time and the Torah. He does not say anything that even seems to hint that he is writing the book for any other reason or in some sort of code….

    2.)The Ramabam clearly says that Chazal based their science on the science of their times and not Mesorah. I provided the quote two comments ago

    3.)Furthermore the Rambam makes it quite clear in the Moreh 2:25 that he did not reject the idea that the Universe is eternal (as Aristotle believed)because the Torah seems to say that it wasn’t around forever. He says

    “We do not reject the Eternity of the Universe, because certain passages in Scripture confirm the Creation; for such passages are not more numerous than those in which God is represented as a corporeal being; nor is it impossible or difficult to find for them a suitable interpretation.” (here’s the Marah Makom again Moreh 2:25)

    He goes on to say that the reason he rejected an eternal universe was because Aristotle failed to prove that the universe was eternal.

    4.)Simply saying that anyone that argues with your position was speaking in “Sod” is not a good or even remotely logical argument and frankly seems a bit infantile.

    5.)In either case if (and we are not discussing if this is the case) the Metzius has proven that modern scientists statements are the truth, then that itself would prove that the Rambam meant his statement literally-because it is literally true!

    6.)Again, if the Metzius has proven the Rambam correct (that Chazal’s science was based on the science of their times and is not infallible) then it wouldn’t make a difference even if EVERY SINGLE Talmud Chachom that lived after him argued on him. This is a discussion about Metzius. If he was correct then he was correct, doesn’t matter who said or says otherwise.

    In summation the argument always has to be about the proofs to Chazal’s science vs the proofs to the statements of modern scientists or you are missing the point.

    Ben Levi

    patur Avul Assur

    Tha mains source that is qouted there is Rav Avrohom Ben HaRambam and while it seems to indicate that there is “ksav yad” that’s actualy not the case the Ksav Yad has the part nefore and the part after but not the one where that “shitto” is written.

    For a full anaysis of the section indicated please see Torah, Chazal, and Science.

    Ben Levi

    1) The Rambam did state that he w2as writing it for anyone struggling with emunah and if I recall correctly he also stated he was discussing things that he considered “Maseh Merkava” and therefore cannot be distributed widley nor can they be understood by everyone.

    2) Actualy the opinion of many is not that Chazal did not write down many things based on the science of their time, rather it is whether they knew that was wrong and merely intended to use it to encrypt “Pardes”.

    3) As for why the Rambam rejected Aristotle’s notion’s of the universe and where the Rambam felt one can use allegory please see Torah, Chazal and Science.

    4)I do not know what you are referrring to.

    If you mean to tell me that saying the Rambam was deliberatley writing in a “conceaed manner” is something that is “infantile. Well then according to you the Remah, The Rogatchover Gaon, The Radziner, Rav Elchono Wasserman, and Rav Yerucham levovitz all took an infantile position.

    I hope for your saake you don’t mean to say that.

    If you yourself mean to say that it is infantile to understand Chazal as referring to esoteric concepts and deliberatley writing in allegorical form is “infantile”.

    Well the Rambam states that someone who believes so is a “fool” and “cursed” (I qouted the Rambam word for word earlier and provided a link).

    5) and 6) I really don’t think you understand my point.

    In summation.

    True the many took the Moreh Nevuchim at face value.

    And since they took it at face value they argued forcefull against it and stated that the Rambam for what ever reason was not able to learn Kabboloh (again see the Chida in Shem HaGedolim for an intersting reason why) and wrote cerain things.

    This included the Ramban, Rabbeinu Yonah, The Rivash, The Rashba, The Chasid Yaavetz, The Vilna Gaon, Rav Shamshon R. Hirsh and a host of others.

    The Chida also brings down severel Gedolei yisroel who stated that the Moreh Nevuchim was a forgerythough the Chidah himself disputes that.

    There were those Gedolei yisroel who stated the Moreh Nevuchim is not to be taken at face value and therefore accepted it that include the Rogatchover, Rav Elchono Wasserman.

    To give you an idea about how forceful the opposition was Rav Shamshon R. Hirsh wrote that MN did more damage to Klal Yisroel then Moses Mendelsohn, this is the work that Slifkin advances as “mainstream”.

    (Again I am always afraid to write on these things since I am afraid someone may miinterpet what I am saying as giving my own opinions or rendering judgment ch”v.

    Far be it for me to give opinions on thse things. But also far be it for me when people seem to feel taht they have the right to distort and misrepresent our Mesorah.)

    Ben Levi


    I eagerly await any translation you can provide.

    Ben Levi

    I would add as a side note.

    It seems to me that the whoe discusion here confirms much of what Rav Shamshon R. Hirsh writes in the beginning of the Nineteen Letters.

    RSRH writes that if one learns the Torah properly then they will come to understand the Mitzvos and much of their questions will be resolved.

    However RSRH say’s there is one qualification.

    One who learns Torah must do so from within the Torah, it is only by learning Torah from within that one can come and understand the Torah. But if one approaches the Torah from without then they wi become hoplessly confused.

    I think that RSRH has been proven more then accurate when we can see those whose true “vocation” true love so to speak secular knowledge attempting to then go and interpet Torah in a way that is consistent with their “outside knowledge”.

    All one see’s is hopeless confusion, misunderstandings, and mis-interpeting and result that is inherehntly contridictory.

    (An Ex. is Slifkin using RSRH letter on Aggadita to justify stating Chazal only knew the science of their times and then turning around and stating because of that we shoud adopt MN when RSRH himself wrote one of the most forceful condemnations of MN ever put in print by an Achron in a letter that was directed at Reform Jews!)

    If one wants to really undestand Aggadita and what Chaza meant when they undertook to transcribe Torah Shel Ba’al Peh and included within it 1/7 that were seemingly stoies and observances of nature as well as seemingly fantastic tales.

    Well then that person has to actually learn Chaza and the Gedolei Meforshei Aggadita such as the Mahrsha, Ben Yehoyadah, the Maharal and Ramchal on their own terms.


    Ben levi Im asking based whatever you are today

    Ben Levi

    Based on what I am today I would like to think that I would have understood he intentions of Chazal.

    Just as in the time of Purim I would have liked to think I would have had the courage to follow Mordechai, even though a great many of our brethern did not.

    Just as in the times of Chanuka I would like to think that I would have joined the Chashmonoim and not the Hellenists.

    Just as in the Eygpt in the time’s of the Rambam I hop eI would have had the courage to follow the Rambam and not the Karaites when the Rambam virtually single handidly led the War against them.

    Just as I would have hoped in the time of the Spanish Inquistion I would have had the courage to follow the Abarbenel out of Spain though many of our brethern did not.

    Just as in the time of RSRH I would like to think I would have joined with RSRH in Frankfurt, though the vast majority of our brethern did not.

    Just as in the time when “ism’s” were sweeping through Russia I would like to think I would have joined Novardok,or other Yeshivah movements, though many of our brethern sadly did not.

    Just as after the War, I would like to think I would have followed Rav Aaron and the Satmer Rebbe in America and the Chazon ish in Eretz Yisorel though the vast majority of our brethern sadly did not.

    You see I cannot judge.

    Who am I? What am I? Do I know if I would have had the courage to stand up against the YEtzer Horah throughout History?

    Cetainly I don’t.

    But I hope I would have.

    I hope I would have had the courage to be from the few that always stayed true to a “Torah-centric” Hashkofa, but again I don’t know.

    I do know if from the time of the Rambam until ours the Mesorah and approach to Aggadita has been virtually unchanged in a broad aspect (Of course like everything, there is disagreements but they are narrow one’s not over the broad approach)even though it’s been centuries and our Nation has weathered alot, and been attacked alot.

    And that means on a Intellectual basis.

    Well then, that means that the approach to Aggadita will not change.

    The Ramban and the Rashbah, the Mahral and the Ramchal, the Mahrshah and the Ben Yehoyadah and the rest of the Meforshei Aggadita. The Gedolei Yisroel who’s approach and explanations make up the Mesorah we have today will remain what is learnt and what is understood.

    And I do know is that if I would have ch’v been from those “on the other side” I would have been wrong. And history would have shown me to be wrong.

    Just as Slifkin’s convulted “Rationlist Judaisim” approach will probably grow a drop more and then evaporate and join the dustbin of history along with all the other convulted approaches to Judaisim out there.


    Ben Levi,

    The opinion that when Chazal said scientific statements they meant something else entirely, and the statements are not necessarily accurate scientifically is really not relevant to this discussion. We are discussing if Chazal knew science and if their scientific statements should be taken over those of modern scientists when they contradict each other. If Chazal’s scientific statements were not meant to be taken literally the conversation ends there, (As we can all agree that modern scientific statements are meant to be taken literally)

    As far as the position that Moreh Nevuchim is not to be taken at face value and the Rambam was writing some sort of “Sod” in code. I stand by what I said earlier. Unless you have some sort of proof that the Rambam did not in fact mean what he wrote (independent of the fact that what he wrote disagrees with your ideas of how things should be) it is silly to say that he didn’t in fact mean them. He was quite clear what he said and even goes through why he said them at length.

    You did not address points 5 and 6 of my above post and keep on listing the people who agreed that the Rambam meant what he wrote but came out against him. I will rewrite the point:

    Again, if the Metzius has proven the Rambam correct (that Chazal’s science was based on the science of their times and is not infallible) then it wouldn’t make a difference even if EVERY SINGLE Talmud Chachom that lived after him argued on him. This is a discussion about Metzius. If he was correct then he was correct, doesn’t matter who said or says otherwise.

    Ben Levi

    Regarding proof of the Rambam’s positions on matter’s again I am far from qualified to offer opinions however the Rogatchover and other’s who take this view do. If you would like to see “proof” I suggest you see Torah,Chazal,and Sciuence by Rabbi Meiselmann. The book is around 900 pages long and a good portion of it is devoted to the Rambam’s opinion.

    Rabbi Meiselmann takes the view that the Rambam was using certain language’s to discuss Torah concepts and he marshals a great deal of proof from the entire gamut of the Rambam’s writing’s.

    He also makes apoint of not asking the reader to rely on his “interpetation” of the Rambam, rather he provides the exact word’s of the Rambam whenever qouted, along with where they are taken from.

    Ben Levi


    I am not really certain that you comprehend the approacch that Slifkin calls “Rational Judaisim”.

    Slifkin takes the approach that every word that Chazal said they meant literally and since there are certain things Chazal said that do not hold up to modern day science we therefore can disprove them and state Chazal only Knew the Science of their times.

    The traditional Mesorah has been that Chazal knew far more then the science of their times both from a Mesorah on certain things from Sinai as well as a deep Kabbilistic understanding that taught them about the makeup of the world.

    That is the discussion.

    Did Chazal know a great deal more then what the scientists of their day knew?

    The traditional opinion is yes.

    Slifkin disputes it, The Rambam that I qouted you from Chelek states that anyone who thinks Chazal were limited to the knowledge of their day is a fool.

    Now a consequenc of this is as follows.

    If one feels Chazal knew more then the Science of their days then when they say things that have been proven wrong the question is whether or not we simply dismiss it by stating that they were wrong ch”v.

    Or rather do we state that Chazal knew the truth and were trying to conceal sodos (The Ramchal, and Vilna Gaon’s approach amongst others).

    Slifkin says Chazal thought what they thought we know they were wrong.

    The Rambam says Slifkin is a fool. (Again I provided the translation).

    Now what was the intention of Chazal at times was? Well at times it was not to be taken literally, according to us.

    According to Slifkin;.

    Well he thinks it was to be taken literally.

    This is just one area of dispute.

    There are many.


    Ben levi: writing ultra long entries and quoting totally irrelevant sources does not make you right. It is absurd to say that the rambam or even chazal wrote everything in “sod” and we, simple ignorant people, just cannot know anything. If, indeed, everything is “sod” who knows the real truth ? Maybe our enemies are right, how would you know? ” ein ledayan elo ma she-einov roi-os”. We can only judge what our eyes see. As I said many times, we are bound by halacha, we are not bound by non-halachic sayings, especially if reality shows otherwise.


    Ben levi, I ‘ll have the pirush hamishnayos for you tomorrow iyh


    Ben Levi,

    Rabbi Slifkin’s main point is that just because Chazal said a scientific statement doesn’t mean that it must be considered true; and that when modern Science has proven a scientific statement of Chazal wrong there is nothing wrong with saying that Chazal’s statement is not scientifically accurate.

    This point stands wether the scientific statement was not meant to be accurate because it was hinting at some sort of “Sod” or it was simply wrong.


    Now you still haven’t addressed my point that the best way to ascertain if Chazal’s scientific statements were accurate in a scientific sense would be by looking at the proofs that support Chazal’s statements vs the Proofs supporting those of modern Scientists. If Chazal’s scientific statements are not scientifically accurate you are left with two choices:


    1.) Chazal didn’t intend to make a scientific statement but were hinting at some sort of “Sod”


    2.)Chazal where wrong.

    Whichever the case is; ignoring or pretending that modern science is silly (as was the Derech of Rabbi Miller and most other mainstream Rabbonim for a long time) is a very, very difficult position. This is the main position that Rabbi Slifkin takes issue with.


    Ben levi, you are avoiding my question (purposely?)

    In chazal’s time the general public beleived that lice were generated fom sweat, that there was a solid dome covering the earth etc etc.

    I would have said (based on my view today no childish but we dont know hwere i wouldeve been yada yad)Something along the lines of “wow chazal are really up to date on science, they discuss the most modern issues including mud-mice.”

    If you are being consistent with your approach you should reply “not quite chazal dont beleive in mud-mice even though they talk about them they are reffering to some secret sod that nobody can decipher.”

    what would you say (based on your view TODAY)


    Ben Levi: There is a tremendous middle ground. I think Slifkin believes that Chazal knew more than their contemporary scientists. However, he believes that Chazal relied on the scientists for things and therefore, the same way that those scientists were wrong, Chazal could have followed their error. Just like modern-day Poskim ask engineers and electricians before Paskening on things involving electricity, so too Chazal asked their contemporary experts how things worked before Paskening. I really don’t see why people call that Mehalach Kefirah.

    Drey kup

    Slifkin does not believe Chazal knew more than their contemporary scientists. He frequently mocks that belief and those that believe that.


    drey kop: I have read his website and he does take issue with those who maintain that chazal cannot be wrong under any circumstances but I have not seen him mock anyone.

    However, to me, the whole debate is topsy-turvy. Whether chazal knew more in scientific terms than their contemporaries is irrelevant. For the life of me, I don’t understand why chazal must know every scientific fact. What does this have to do with their holiness, their erudition and,of course, their authority in halachic matters? Just because they may not have known about the solar system does not invalidate their absolute authority in halachic matters. To assert that they knew everything, you have to go to some contorted extrapolation of their many sayings- just see what Zben levi had to concoct to make this shittah beleievable! There are plenty of rishonim who maintain otherwise. You can choose which path to follow but it surely behooves everyone to follow his own path.

    Ben Levi


    Iunderstand that you have this caricature of what Rabbonim believe. However if you would like to understand what is the actual position from the source than why don’t you get a copy of the Mamar Al Aggadita from the Ramchal (author of Mesilas Yeshorim and Derech HaShem).

    Ben Levi


    I did not avoid your question, you just did’nt like my ansewer.

    What I would have thought Chazal mean’s makes no difference the question is what they actualy meant. The Rishonim and Achronim make clear what it was.

    See Even Shlaima where the GRa speks harshly against those that dismiss Aggadita “For they contain all thesecrets of the Torah”.

    Ben Levi

    Sam 2

    You are entitled to “beleive” what you wish, however Slifkin has made clear that in his opinion Chazal knew no more then contemporary scientists when it came to scientific matters and in one of the books I read from him he theorizes that they derived their knowledge from Pliny the Elder.


    Ben Levi,

    It’s no “caricature”. I have read all of Rabbi Millers material on the subject and his view has been the mainstream view in Yeshivish circles for quite some time now. He clearly wrote and said that all modern science that contradicts Chazal’s scientific statements are “Hoaxes” and “Insanity”. ( I remember listening to a tape of his years ago called “The Hoax Of Geology” where he claims to disrove all of the findings of modern geology that contradict the simple meaning of Chazal’s statements)

    Ben Levi


    You claimed that you had some sort of translation of PEirush HaMishnayos that did not state your opinion was one of “fools”.

    Can you provide it?

    Patur Aval Assur

    Ben Levi:

    I have indeed read the chapter in Torah Chazal and Science where he discusses R’ Avraham ben Harambam. He points out that there is no extant manuscript that contains that specific part. This does not mean that it is a forgery. It means that we can’t say for sure that R’ Avraham ben Harambam actually held this. However, the point is that all the people who subsequently quoted it, obviously didn’t think it was “against the mesorah”. But if you’re still not happy let’s look at another source:

    ???? ????? ????? ?? ??? ???????? ????? ??????? ????? ??????? ????? ???? ????? ????? ??? ??? ?? ???? ?? ????? ??? ?? ?????? ??? ?? ?????? ?????? ?????? ?”? ???? ???? ???? ??? ??? ????? ?? ????? ??? ???? ??? ????? ???? ???? ???? ????. ????? ??? ????? ??? ????? ???? ????? ????? ???”? ????? ????? ??????? ??? ????? ???? ???? ????

    (?’ ???? ????????, ??? ????, “????”)

    Patur Aval Assur

    Or how about:

    ????? ????? ??? ?? ?????? ?????? ???”? ?? ????”? ??”? ?????? ?? ????? ????? ????? ??????? ?????? ??? ???? ??? ??????? ?????? ????? ????? ?????? ????????, ???? ?? ??? ???? ?? ?????? ????? ???? ?????? “??? ?????? ???? ??? ???”. ???? ??????? ?????? ??: (?) ?? ??? ????? ????? ??? ????, ?????? ?????? ??? ???? ?????? ???? ??? ???????? ???? (????? ??.); (?) ?? ???? ???? ????? ??? ???? ????, ????? ???? ??????? (??’ ??”? ??’ ??”? ??”? ??”?) ??? ?????? ???? ????? ??? ???? ???? ?? ???????? ?????? (????? ??:); (?) ?? ????? ????? ???? ???? ???? ?????? ???? ??? ???? (??? ??:). ???? ????”? ??”? ????? ??????? ???? ????? ??? ???? ????? ?? ??????? ???? ???? ???? ???; ??? ?? ????? ???? ???? ???? ??? ?????? ??? ????? (???? ????? ??”? ???????? ?”? ???? ???? ??? ???? ?????, ???? ?????? ??? ????? ???? ???? ???? ?????? ????? ??? ??? ??? ?????? ???? ????? ?”? ??? ????? ??? ??? ???? ????; ?”?). ?????, ??? ????”? ??”? ?? ?? ????? ???? ??”? ????? ????? ?????, ??? ???? ?? ??????, ????, ?????? ????? ????? ???? ???? ???? ????? ????, ?????? ??????? ?? ??????? ????? ???? ????. ??? ????? ??????? ???????, ?? ????? ????? ?? ???? ??? ?????, ???? ????? ????, ????? ?????? ????? ???? ???? ?????? ?????? ?????, ??? ?????? ???? ?????? ??? ??? ????? ???? ??????? ???? ????? ???? ?????? ????? ???? ?????? ???? ?? ????? ??? ?????? ???? ???????.

    (???? ??????, ??? ?, ???? 355, ???? 4)

    Patur Aval Assur

    Or how about:

    ???????? ?????? ???? ??? ?????? ??? ????? ???????? ?? ?? ?????? ?? ????? ????????, ???? ??????? ??????? ????? ?????. ?????? ??? ????? ???? ????? ??? ????? ????? ?????? ????? ??????? ???????? ???? ?? ????? ??????? ???? ???? ???? ????? ????? ?? ?????? ?? ???? ????? ????? ????? ?????? ????? ??? ??? ?????? ???? ????? ???? ?????? ?????? ????? ????? ?? ????? ?? ????? ????? ????? ???? ????. ????? ????? ???? ????? ??? ???? ???? ????? ??? ????? ?? ????? ????? ??? ??? ?????? ???? ????? ???? ??? ????? ????? ??? ???? ??? ????. ?????? ???? ?? ??????? ???????? ????? ???? ????????? ??? ???? ??????? ?????? ?????? ???

    Patur Aval Assur

    And some more sources:

    ??? ?????? ???? ?? ?? ????? ?????? ?????? ?? ???? ??? ????, ??? ??????? ????? ???? ??? ?????, ??? ???? ??? ???? ??? ??? ????? ????? ?????? ?? ???????, ??? ??? ??? ????? ???? ?????? ????? ????????, ?? ????? ?????? ???? ??????

    (???”?, ???? ?????? ?, ??)

    ???? ??? ????? ????? ????? ?? ???? ????? ????? ??? ???? ??? ????? (????? ?????) ????? ??? ??”? ???? ?? ??? ?”? ????? ??? ????? ?? ???? ???? ??? [??? ???? ???????] ???? ????? ??????? ?? ???? ??? ???? ??????? ??? ??? ????? ?? ????? ??? ??? ????? (???) ????? ??? ??? ???? ????? ????? ???? ??? ???? ???? ????? ???? ????? ??? ???? ?????? ?????? ?? ??? ???? ?????? ??? ??? ?? ?????? ??? ??? ?? ?????? ????? ??????? ?? ???? ???? ??? ?? ??? ???? ?????? ?? ???? ?????

    (.??? ??)

    ????? ?? ????? ??? ????? ????? ??? ???? ???? ???? ???? ??? ???? ????? ??? ????

    (:??????? ?.-?)

    ??? ??????: ??? ????? ??? ????? ???? ?????? ????? ??? ???? ????? ????? ????? ??? ???? ????? ???? ????? ???? ???? ????? ??? ????? ????? ???? ??? ???? ??? ????? ?? ??? ?? ???? ??? ???? ????? ????? ????? ????? ????? ????? ?? ??? ??? ???? ?????? ?????? ???? ???? ????? ???????? ???? ????? ?? ??? ??? ??????? ??? ??? ?? ???? ????? ???? ?????? ???? ???? ????

    (.????? ??)


    Ben Levi: Fine. As I’ve said before, I don’t care what Slifkin himself believes. Talking about an individual borders on Lashon Hara. I’m more interested in the theories he puts forth. So whether he personally believes that they knew nothing more than contemporaries or slightly more than contemporaries is irrelevant to this discussion. What is wrong with the connection to modern day from the end of my post?

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