December 23, 2010 9:32 pm at 9:32 pm #593703myfriendMember
This is a quick reference guide for the “rationalist”, when stumped on questions regarding Judaism:
Didn’t happen as described in the Bible. Irrational.
Didn’t happen as described in the Bible. Irrational.
Abraham Surviving The Oven
Didn’t happen. Irrational.
No such thing. Irrational.
The Ten Plagues
Didn’t happen as described in the Bible. Irrational.
Didn’t happen as described in the Bible. Irrational.
Splitting The Sea
Didn’t happen. Irrational.
Mount Sinai Covering The Jews
Didn’t happen. Irrational.
G-d Giving The Torah At Mount Sinai
Didn’t happen as described. Irrational.December 23, 2010 9:34 pm at 9:34 pm #721714klachMember
what about saul and the witch in naviDecember 23, 2010 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm #721715
Your point?December 24, 2010 12:56 am at 12:56 am #721716
His point is to equate the first with the rest.
WARNING: You continue this conversation and the thread gets closed.December 24, 2010 2:17 am at 2:17 am #721717WolfishMusingsParticipant
Forget it… I changed my mind. It’s not even worth responding to.
The WolfDecember 24, 2010 4:23 am at 4:23 am #721718
“Abraham Surviving The Oven”
“Mount Sinai Covering The Jews”
These aren’t in the Torah but in aggadata, and there is no chiyuv to believe their literal truth (or the literal truth of any particular aggadata).December 24, 2010 4:25 am at 4:25 am #721719
Didn’t happen as described in the Bible.”
Chazal also say it didn’t happen as described in the Bible. The Bible says that the flood covered the entire world. The gemara says that it didn’t cover Eretz Yisrael.December 24, 2010 5:16 am at 5:16 am #721720mosheemes2Member
I wish I was secure enough about my Cheilek in Olam Haba to be able to do something like mock the Rambam’s views on the existence of sorcery in a public forum.December 24, 2010 6:12 am at 6:12 am #72172110-LuchosParticipant
3 hours and you already need to use another username?
How many you planning on using my helpful friend?December 24, 2010 6:49 am at 6:49 am #721722
charlie, although this should be a discussion all of its own, I’ll say this here: That many Aggados are not to be taken for their literal, translated meaning is indisputable. However, we must draw from the context to discern if it was indeed meant to be taken as a physical story. Many times, the Aggada is relating an actual story, while some details are conveying something other than its basic meaning. To say a blanketing, Aggada isn’t to be taken for its literal meaning, is in many instances a dismissive statement used as an excuse.
The fact that you would apply it to more places than I would cannot be held against you, but I can say that I disagree. The Medrash about Avraham is clearly being said as a fact, a Nisayon, a danger and a Ness. On the other hand, the Medrash about Kafa Aleihem Har Kegigis (holding the mountain over their head) does have the sound of meaning more than an uprooted mountain suspended in the air.
You actualy did not make it clear if you do indeed take the above mentioned Medrashim literaly or not. I understand that you were trying to make a certain point — a point that you mention often. I am addressing that point. Again, not to argue with your premise, in general, but to say that you are supposed to read into it to see when it is meant to be taken literaly.
An example, is when you applied this to a Gemara that condemed some behavior as Chayav Misa (if I remember correctly). That is not a story, where you can say that Chazal were giving you an emotional picture of what in essence took place. They are telling you how they look at something, and how bad it is. Even if you won’t take the Misa part so literally, but you do understand that it is actually that bad. (and so on)December 24, 2010 1:48 pm at 1:48 pm #721724
there is no chiyuv to believe their literal truth (or the literal truth of any particular aggadata).
this is not true. some are literal, some arent. which are which are told to us by Chazal. those they tell us are literal we have an absolute chiyuv to believe.December 24, 2010 1:49 pm at 1:49 pm #721725
i believe that the Ur Casdim inyan we are told is literal. the har c’gigis may not be.
im not certain about thisDecember 24, 2010 1:58 pm at 1:58 pm #721726SJSinNYCMember
Wolf, I started a few posts like that too 🙂December 24, 2010 2:48 pm at 2:48 pm #721727AinOhdMilvadoParticipant
After pogroms, inquisitions, holocausts, and massacres too numerous to count…
The Jewish People still surviving in 5771 and even having their own “state” (such as it is) is extremely irrational.
And yet… it HAS happened!December 24, 2010 7:48 pm at 7:48 pm #721728
” those they tell us are literal we have an absolute chiyuv to believe. “
Rambam, Ramban, and Rabbi Avraham ben HaRambam all appear to disagree with you on this one.December 24, 2010 7:53 pm at 7:53 pm #721729
as we all know: “appearances can be deceiving” 😉December 25, 2010 4:10 pm at 4:10 pm #721730
AOM: That’s not to be taken literally.December 26, 2010 12:12 am at 12:12 am #721731
Add to Charliehall’s list R’ Hai Gaon and R’ Shreira Gaon in Otzar HaGeonim Chagigah pp. 59-60.
One can find the Rambam’s words on this in Perek Chelek, but he most poignantly expresses his view in Teshuvos HaRambam (Jerusalem: Mekize Nirdamim, 1989) p. 739, where he writes: “We do not pose difficulties in the Aggadah. Are they words of Tradition or expressions of reason? Rather each individual considers their explanation as it seems fit to him. In this [Aggadah]
The Ramban openly expresses this view in his vikuach which can be found in the Chavel Kisvei HaRamban, Vol. 1, p. 308. See R’ Chavel’s note on the bottom.
There are more sources, but it is quite clear that at least in the times of the geonim and the rishonim it was not considered kefirah to believe that aggados are not meant to be taken literally or even to deny things which are found within them.December 26, 2010 12:41 am at 12:41 am #721732mw13Participant
Didn’t happen as described in the Bible. Irrational.”
What?! Creation by a Higher Power is the most rational theory of how the universe came to be, far more logical then saying “it just appeared in a big bang”.
In general, I really don’t like this attitude towards reason. The only religions that require one to check their brains at the door are those who need to hide from the truth. We, on the other hand, have nothing to hide – we have the truth, and we can prove it. Therefore, Judaism has never advocated its followers to stop thinking. Just the opposite – one of the loftiest goals of Judaisim has always been the intellectual, rational study and comprehension of all the Torah’s complex laws, and of the reasons behind them.
The Chovos HaLevavos, one of the earliest Mussar/Hashkafa seforim we have today (written by one of the earliest Rishonim) says that “Nefesh” that Hashem gave to humans which distinguishes us from the animals, is actually the intellect, the power of reason. It is through the intellect that we grow closer to Hashem.
The Rambam, the Chovos HaLevavos, and many, many others proved intellectually that a Higher Power created the world, and that He gave us the Torah. They were all avowed rationalists, and they proved beyond a doubt that Judaisim is quite rational.December 26, 2010 1:40 am at 1:40 am #721733bezalelParticipant
The Rambam, the Chovos HaLevavos, and many, many others proved intellectually that a Higher Power created the world, and that He gave us the Torah. They were all avowed rationalists, and they proved beyond a doubt that Judaisim is quite rational.
But they were attempting to prove that judaism is rational, they weren’t attempting to determine whether judaism is rational.December 26, 2010 4:05 am at 4:05 am #721734
Betzalel, are you?December 26, 2010 4:57 am at 4:57 am #721735
“at least in the times of the geonim and the rishonim”
Or today. Rabbi Avraham ben HaRambam’s essay on how to understand aggadata is used as the introduction to the Ein Yaakov collection of aggadata.
Furthermore it should be noted that the classical commentaries often bring down interpretations that stray far from the pshat of the text. (I’ve already mentioned the example of the flood not covering the entire world.) While pshat is very important, we are not permitted to dismiss these commentaries chas v’shalom! Judaism has never been exclusively literalist in its biblical interpretation.December 26, 2010 5:02 am at 5:02 am #721736hudiParticipant
I don’t thinks it matters whether these events are rational or not. Rationality comes from the human mind. It comes when there is doubt that something is true or evem happened. A person rationalizes to feel comfortable with his wrong decision, to make him feel like he is right even though deep down he knows he is wrong. A person who says these events are not rational only sees things in black and white. He has tried (maybe subconsiously) to come up with some reason how such events have occured, but he is not able to, because there is no reason that is within the regular laws of nature for the occurence of these events, so he regards them as irrational.
This person will only accept these events as true if he trancends his rationality. One way is to accept the Torah, which describes these events, as divine.December 26, 2010 5:14 am at 5:14 am #721737
im sorry…what is the point of this thread?December 26, 2010 5:33 am at 5:33 am #721738mexipalParticipant
once you come to terms with the fact that hashem created the world and gave us the torah its not so hard to believe in everything else. after all the creator wrote itDecember 26, 2010 6:13 am at 6:13 am #721739
its not very irrational once you grant god as a variable. science works based on a specific set of variables. mainstream science does not accept god as a variable. we do. once you grant god it makes perfect sense. apparently you don’t grant god…December 26, 2010 6:20 am at 6:20 am #721740metrodriverMember
myfriend: I would answer the so-called rational non-believers in Hashem and His creations, by juxtaposing the theories of evolution by that Shoiteh Darwin; 1) That the world and the entire universe came about through a “Big Bang”, an explosion, as the silly followers of him believe; 2) that the universe (including our world is Billions of Years old. Then why do we only have recorded history that goes back a little more than 5,000 Years?!; 3) that Human beings evolved out of monkeys: Now. Mr. or Ms. Rationalist. Which is more “Rational” or logical. Darwin’s stupid theories or L”H Hashem created the Universe and everything in it by a brilliantly designed plan?!December 26, 2010 8:59 am at 8:59 am #721741
erasmus darwin perhaps, not charles darwin…December 26, 2010 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm #721742
Science does not object to God. It just describes and predicts natural phenomena. If you could predict God’s actions, you would be either (1) a prophet, which we don’t have today, or (2) God Himself.
The Big Bang was conclusively proven by the discovery of the cosmic background radiation by Penzias and Wilson in the 1960s. (This had nothing to do with Darwin who lived a century earlier.) That discovery also gave a proof of the approximate age of the universe: 14 billion years. There is also a lot of evidence for evolution and no competing theory explains as many facts and predicts as many observations; Darwin was not stupid but a careful observational scientist. It is not rational to dismiss empirical facts.
Furthermore, empirical observation can neither prove nor disprove the existence of God or of His Torah. That is why there is no contradiction between accepting the results of science and believing in God, including the fact that He created the universe.December 26, 2010 3:15 pm at 3:15 pm #721743
The Rambam, the Chovos HaLevavos, and many, many others proved intellectually that a Higher Power created the world, and that He gave us the Torah.
Actually the Rambam never proved this. He says in the Guide (don’t have it offhand but if you want a source I will gladly find it for you) that we believe it and have good reason to believe it, but he also says that one who does not have the tradition that we do can sit all his life honestly trying to figure it out but he may never figure out beyond a shadow of a doubt that God created the world.
Another notable quote of the Rambam is in Teshuvos HaRambam (Jerusalem: Mekize Nirdamim, 1989) p. 488:December 26, 2010 3:23 pm at 3:23 pm #721744
Charlie, You cannot apply the Aggadaic rule to the Torah. It might be uncomfortable for someone like you, who identifies with science. However, the Torah is not a book found in a hole, waiting to be deciphered. The Torah was given to us by Hashem. You connot say that the Bria described in it is a Mashal. The Ri Migash explains when we learn the Pasuk literally and when we understand it as a metaphor. When it is an obvious exaggeration, as in towers in the sky, we don’t take it literally. Otherwise, if it can be understood literally, that is what it means.
Had there been science around 3000 years ago, when the Torah was given, you would have an argument that the description was not meant to be taken literally. Now it’s too late. The Torah was given to be understood, and it was understood a certain way for 3000 years. It’s just too late to come and say that Hashem meant something else, that nobody knew, all these years.
How to reconcile the Torah’s description with science’s findings is up to you. The universe could very well have started out at one spot, something that used to bother atheists, and it might have started with a bang. Perhaps you like Rabbi Kaplan’s explanation of old worlds. There are many reconciliation theories out there. Some are silly and some are clever, but there is one invariable: the Torah. This is what the Creator told us. Hashem took us out of Egypt in a grand way, which proved to us that He rules the world. There, He told us that He created the universe in six days, and that we should keep Shabbos in rememberance of that. My Emuna doesn’t have to wait for a theory that explains a six day creation, my science can.December 26, 2010 3:46 pm at 3:46 pm #721745
“Charlie, You cannot apply the Aggadaic rule to the Torah.”
I never said to do so!
“The Torah was given to be understood, and it was understood a certain way for 3000 years.”
This is misleading. Rishonim came up with novel understandings that had no precedent in Chazal. Even some Acharonim came up with novel understandings.
“How to reconcile the Torah’s description with science’s findings is up to you.”
This is correct; there is no chiyuv to believe any particular reconciliation. Reconciliation is not something that particularly troubles me.December 26, 2010 4:01 pm at 4:01 pm #721746Trying my bestMember
Science is not something that particularly troubles me.
Otherwise we would have been troubled every time scientists changed their mind.
And would have to find to excuses to reinterpret the Torah when scientists will change their minds again next time.December 26, 2010 4:21 pm at 4:21 pm #721747
You cannot apply the Aggadaic rule to the Torah.
There are two rules in question: 1) That Aggados are not always meant to be taken literally; and 2) That one may disregard something found in an Aggadic passage if it does not accord with how he sees the world. The second rule, strange as it may sound to you, is explicit in all the sources Charlie and I mentioned.
It is only the latter rule that we do not apply to the Torah, because we believe that Torah is min hashamayim, so obviously one cannot disregard what is contained therein. However, the first rule does apply even to pesukim, at least according to the Rambam who in many cases diverts from the accepted pshat because in his mind it is not ‘rational’ (Probably most notable of this is his position that the whole parsha of the malachim and Avraham Avinu was just a dream), and many other “Pashtanim”, such as Ibn Ezra, who will openly and explicitly argue on a gemara’s explanation of a pasuk because he doesn’t believe it makes sense.
When it is an obvious exaggeration, as in towers in the sky, we don’t take it literally.
Many disagree. And a rationalist could simply respond that to anyone who knows science well, many things are obviously not meant to be taken literally, even though a simple minded person doesn’t realize the strangeness of the statements. This the Rambam says openly in his introduction to the Guide, about Bereishis, and he writes that is was written the way it was, so that simple minded people would have a nice story to read, but someone well-versed in science and philosophy will and should realize that nothing in Maaseh Bereishis is to be taken literally. The Rambam says this in many places.December 26, 2010 4:33 pm at 4:33 pm #721748
By the way, the Rambam I quoted before is in the Guide, 1:34. It reads as follows:
???? ?? ??? ??? ??? ?? ?? ????? ???? ????, ??? ???????? ?? ??? ????, ??? ??????? ????? ???? ?????? ???????, ??????? ??? ????? ?? ?????? ?????, ??? ?? ???? ??? ??? ?????? ??????; ??? ???? ?? ???? ??? ?????? ??? ?? ???? ??? ???-? ????? ?? ??? ???-?, ?? ??? ?????? ?? ??? ?? ????? ???? ?????.
This idea is also found in Emunos V’deos of R’ Saadya Gaon, in Chapter 6 of the introduction, and in the Sefer Ha’ikkarim of R’ Yosef Albo, 1:2.December 26, 2010 4:35 pm at 4:35 pm #721750
Charlie, Actually what you say now is truly misleading and you seem to be playing around with semantics. The Rishonim give many new explanations, but they don’t change what the Torah is telling us. Most often, they are just adding another reading into the Pasuk. Nobody can tell us that the Torah was always misunderstood, even if we can argue about certain translations and phrasings.December 26, 2010 4:36 pm at 4:36 pm #721751metrodriverMember
Charlie Hall; I never attributed the Big Bang theory to Darwin. I merely enumerated it among the other “Non-sequiturs”. Now. the theory of Evolution per se is no contradiction to the theory of Creation. Even “Creationists” will concede that there is a certain degree of Evolution both, among the species and Earth itself. Statements along those lines are found in the Talmud. But in the form of the Darwin theory that they evolved over Billions of Years is wrong. Indeed, Rabbi Jonathan of Eibschutz has a theory that goes in the opposite direction. Namely. That as punishment for participating in the building of the Tower of Babel (or, Babble.) Hashem turned some people into monkeys (of various species). Hence, the similarity between Humans and apes. Especially, Chimpanzees. In other words. There is more than a kernel of truth to Darwin’s observations, but he went wrong in his conclusions.December 26, 2010 5:09 pm at 5:09 pm #721754
the big bang is an absolute scientific fact..IF and ONLY IF you do not grant god a variable. the age attributed to the universe is such because of scientists calculations of the shifting of the cosmos. they reached the conclusion that based on that shift the earth must have originated from a “big bang” (which was not the term originally used, it was actually a term coined to discredit the theory) and they calculated the distance traveled and the time it must have taken.
now ill grant that it seems to be the most rational and sensible theory in existence, UNLESS you grant a supernatural being as a possible variable. this supernatural being could have created the cosmos as they were and set them to shift thus skewing those calculations. the speed of the shifts set forward by this supernatural being would in fact mislead one to believe that the universe was older than it actually is, thus leading to the more rational theory of the big bang.
but here is the flaw in the argument, and where you have to decide where you stand. if it’s rational to the core you’re looking for then then youre at odds with faith. faith is not and cannot be rational. no matter how much logic you use to explain religion there comes a point where you hit a brick wall. that brick wall being blind faith. so yes, to accept an alternate, logical explanation of the origins of teh world you do in fact have to be a bit irrational in its foundation. but that is the question…do you in fact believe?
PS: for the sake of disambiguation…i am not talking about deism here, only theism. more specifically judaism as practiced by the orthodox. i dont need anyone here taking what i said out of context.December 26, 2010 6:10 pm at 6:10 pm #721755
RuffRuff, please see my above post. It took a while till it went up, but it’s a response to your argument with Charlie.December 26, 2010 6:56 pm at 6:56 pm #721756
“a supernatural being as a possible variable. this supernatural being could have created the cosmos as they were and set them to shift thus skewing those calculations”
A supernatural being of course could have done that. But there is nothing within our mesorah that indicates that is what happened.December 26, 2010 7:05 pm at 7:05 pm #721757
“Nobody can tell us that the Torah was always misunderstood, even if we can argue about certain translations and phrasings. “
As yitayningwut points out, some of our classical commentators DO say that the previous understandings are misunderstandings. You can’t get around the fact that Rambam and Ibn Ezra insisted on certain interpretations that Chazal did not suggest.December 26, 2010 7:26 pm at 7:26 pm #721758
Here you go again, confusing Chazal and the Pasuk. By the way, the Ibn Ezra was frowned upon by many for just that reason. However, you can see the Maharal in his Be’er Hagola, where he explains where the Ibn Ezra and others where coming from, although he himself disagreed with that approach. He says that they are merely explaining the flow and the simple reading of the Pasuk.December 26, 2010 7:47 pm at 7:47 pm #721759
Does a rationalist seriously reject the flood narrative? I heard scientists claim there was no flood.
Do rationalists also reject the exodus naarative including the splitting of the sea? Splitting the sea is not a rational occurance.December 26, 2010 7:54 pm at 7:54 pm #721760
“A supernatural being of course could have done that. But there is nothing within our mesorah that indicates that is what happened.”
based on belief and observation…do you have any other alternatives?December 26, 2010 8:52 pm at 8:52 pm #721761
The facts are that
a) the earth is 5,771 years old
b) the universe was created with 6 days of the earth
c) the expansion of space suggest a 14 billion year old universe
In addition chazal tell us: Hashem is called Sha-kai -she’amar la’olam dai, which suggests that there was a universal expansion that Hashem halted.
I think that 5,771 years ago Hashem created the physical universe by rapidly expanding the initial singularity. Then at some point He said ‘dai’ and that expansion slowed to a crawl.
Voila: Old looking Universe, Young Earth Creationist.December 27, 2010 12:26 am at 12:26 am #721762Sam l AmMember
Rambam was not like the crazy so-called rationalists of today who deny the mabul and kriyas yam suf.December 27, 2010 2:33 am at 2:33 am #721763
“do you have any other alternatives? “
There are sources within our mesorah that took an allegorical approach to Bereshit. There is nothing in our mesorah that would preclude HaShem from setting up evolutionary biology.
“I think that 5,771 years ago Hashem created the physical universe by rapidly expanding the initial singularity. Then at some point He said ‘dai’ and that expansion slowed to a crawl.”
You can think that, but there is no Tanna, Amora, Gaon, or Rishon who suggested it. The idea of a young universe looking old originiated with Christians in the 19th century. I get my hashkafah from Chazal and Rishonim, not modern Christians.
“I heard scientists claim there was no flood.”
There is absolutely no evidence that Mount Everest was ever under water, so this is a problem if you are a biblical literalist like some Christians. But Chazal say that the flood did not cover the entire world, so this is not a problem for us. Furthermore, there are flood narratives from different cultures all over the world that had no contact each other until modern times. Finally, there is absolutely overwhelming scientific evidence that sea levels worldwide rose by hundreds of feet about 11,000 years ago, and some evidence of other significant rises in bodies of water such as the Black Sea.
“Splitting the sea is not a rational occurance. “
Why not? There are places in Canada where tides regularly retreat 17 meters — vertically! Why could something like that not have happened at the sea at the time described in Sefer Shemot?December 27, 2010 3:48 am at 3:48 am #721764
A rationalist can’t believe the flood or the splitting the sea happened, since by definition such events are irrational. If they believe in that, they are no longer rationalist.December 27, 2010 4:25 am at 4:25 am #721765
The sea split for a long time while thousands of Jews walked through it on dry sea, after Moshe hit the water. As soon as the last Jew crossed the sea flooded the Egyptians.
That isn’t a rational belief. If you believe the splitting the sea narative as relayed in the Torah, then you are not a rationalist.December 27, 2010 5:38 am at 5:38 am #721766
I’m not sure if I missed a crucial post but you seem to be suggesting that the age of the universe/the evolution of man (and everything else) is as the scientists suggest they are.
This is problematic in my opinion as “ein hamikra yotzei midei pshuto”. The Torah describes a 7 day creation that began right before the creation of man 5,771 years ago. While it is true that there are psukim that are understood on an allegorical level that doesn’t negate its poshut pshat.
While I have no problem with micro-evolution, the Gemarah itself even brings cases of it (ie the story with Hillel on Friday). Macro-evolution is problematic in my opinion. The speciation that scientists have recorded are not recognized from a Torah perspective as we don’t differentiate between ‘the orange toad’ and ‘the purple toad’. This also would require billions of years that science needs for us to reach our modern incarnation.
I did not know that a ‘young universe looking old” originated by goyim as I came up with it on my own. That fact that goyim came up with something doesn’t rule out its ability to be correct.
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