Who Cares

Who Cares
So there has been much ado about the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale (HIR) having a woman lead Kabbalas Shabbos. In a pithy phrase of many wise men, who cares? HIR is a modern Orthodox shul in the way that the phrase used to mean; in the way that moniker was embraced by those accepting the challenges and complexities that come with living in the modern age. HIR is the same institution that famously ordained a rabba (woman rabbi with a different name). So, if Cross-Currents and Rabbi Adelstein get all worked up and trot out a bunch of right wingers and classic right-wing arguments using the same reductive and faulty analysis that continues to lead them astray, who cares? Would they ever go to HIR? What is Cross-Currents going to do, threaten them with a non-existent cherem? Have Avi Shafran write another inane apologia in The New York Times explaining as only he could how a woman davening for the ammud for a portion on Friday night presents a clear and present danger to the future of Orthodox Judaism? No, as certain as someone from New York acting more frum in order to marry off their daughter, they are going to yell and scream “the world is coming to end, the end of orthodoxy is nigh” and in a week the world will, surprisingly enough, still be here and Cross-Currents will have moved on to arguing that a convicted murderer should have his life spared solely because he is Jewish.

Moreover, it’s Kabbalas Shabbos people. Kabbalas Shabbos itself is a rather recent innovation, and presumably that too runs afoul of the inane trope “chadash assur min haTorah.” So that innovation is OK, but to have a woman participate more meaningfully in Kabbalas Shabbos is beyond the pale? As Dovbear and Gideon Slifkin have aptly demonstrated—and anyone with a hint of curiosity or desire to understand our religion and our rituals could just as easily discover—the entire composition of Kabbalas Shabbos is an innovation, and some of the same are hymns to Baal, which is more than somewhat noteworthy.

Do the people who write for Cross-Currents (and similar sites) ever go to HIR? If someone came into to one of their shuls and did something that was more halalchically observant but was new and innovative, would they mind and shout and object? Or would they rush to slavishly follow the stringency du jour in order to demonstrate their charedi bonifides, without a care or concern for the all-important, Why? Do the protectors of Orthodox virtue at Cross-Currents remember that each rabbi has the right to govern his shul as he sees fit? (See Shu’t Rivash no. 271). Each rabbi is allowed to make halachic decisions for their own congregation, and that is precisely what happened here. HIR and R. Weiss aren’t telling Lakewood to have a woman lead Kabbalas Shabbos, so why should anyone else care? Of course, the standard argument – “it is a breach in the walls of Orthodoxy; this is merely the first step in allowing gender equality in Judaism.” First, what’s so terrible about gender equality within halalchically permitted bounds? Second, just about everything has been decried using the same argument. Bat Mitzvahs seem to have worked out ok, even though they were started by R. Kaplan. So women participate a bit more. Who cares?

Something that is worth noting is the recent proclamation that demonstrates an attitude shift regarding homosexuals. An incredibly powerful document, it demonstrated a sea change in the approach of orthodoxy towards the issue of homosexuality in our community and demonstrates quite clearly that we can be more accepting of homosexuals while still maintaining the strictures of halacha. Much like Orthopraxy and its adherents, we can be understanding and aware while still being in touch with ourselves, and not shut out our convoluted nature and the ability to change that defines our existence.

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244 Responses to Who Cares

  1. Lisa says:

    Speaking as an Orthodox lesbian myself, your support is neither requested nor desired. God forbid anyone should associate us with you.

    • David says:

      Lisa–
      Bit testy today, are we?

      • Lisa says:

        I have a knee jerk reaction to being “supported” by someone who is only going to encourage some of the worst stereotypes about us. I hate it when Steve Greenberg is treated as representative of Orthodox gays and lesbians, and I hate it when the Atheist Rabbi (I think he misunderstands the term “Orthoprax”) does it.

    • Dov Kramer says:

      Lisa,

      It is highly doubtful that he is who he says he is. This post pretty much confirms which anonymous blogger it is.

      • Lisa says:

        So who is it? XGH? Orthoprax? Ben Avuyah?

      • Dov Kramer says:

        >>So who is it?<<

        Does it really matter?

        If it does, follow the clues.

      • Or will you say that is only male homosexuals not lesbians?

      • Sarah says:

        Well I did notice the same material elsewhere. But I must be guessing wrong, since on that blog the guy writes content, while consistently this one doesn’t. Hey maybe this blog is done by his wife….

      • Dov Kramer says:

        Sarah,

        If he’s trying to pretend he’s somebody else, obviously he will try writing them differently.

        But the overlap of topics (and consistancy of the take on them) is very telling. (Of course now that I’ve revealed one of the clues to his identity he will likely try putting different takes on them in both places just to try throwing e/o off!)

      • Rabban Gamliel says:

        Dov and Lisa one thing which further makes it doubtful he is who he claims to be is that if he claims to be upholding innovation within the canons of Orthodoxy, shouldn’t he already be a known and even controversial figure in Orthodoxy if he supposedly wrote for an Orthodox Torah journal or even within his congregation if it is so relatively (and in caricature form) fundamentalist as he presents it? Is he claiming to be having a secret Orthodox view in addition to a secret Orthopraxy? He sounds like Candyman a lot. In reality as perhaps you have seen, there are more subtle views and fears concerning Rabbi Avi Weiss that would make for a more interesting analysis. Truth is more complicated than fiction and boundary lines more blurred in reality which of course is not presented here on this site.

    • Philo says:

      Lisa, do you realize you are in a community that hates you because of the way you were born?

      • Philo says:

        Actually let me rephrase that since I can already see Holy Hyrax’s future comment. NOT EVERYONE hates you in the community, but they believe you are an abomination who will not join with them when the Messiah comes.

      • Lisa says:

        Gosh, no. Really? Because I’ve been wondering what that’s all about. I’m so glad you’re here to inform me.

        Those who believe I’m an “abomination” are amei ha-aretz who don’t know the halakha. Those who think… what’s that joining with them nonsense? Honestly, I never heard of such a thing. Which is probably why I don’t care.

        But if I get the gist of what you’re saying, I should abandon the Torah, metaphorically spit in God’s eye, and embrace the “support” of atheists and posers… because there are people out there who are mean? Really?

      • >Those who believe I’m an “abomination” are amei ha-aretz who don’t know the halakha.

        Or maybe they know Rav Moshe Feinstein better than you?

        Rav Moshe says (OC:4:115)

        אבל למשכב זכור
        ליכא שום תאוה מצד הבריאה וכל התאו ה לזה הוא רק
        תועה מהטבע לדרך אחר אשר גם רשעים בעלי תאוה
        שלא נמנעין מצד חטא ועון אין הולכין לשם שיצר הרע
        זה אינו אלא מ ח מת שהוא דבר אסור שהוא כמו להכעיס
        ח״ו,

        But homosexuality (granted he is only discussing male homosexuality but I think we can agree that he would say the same thing about lesbianism) there is no natural desire for it and all the desire for it is a perversion from nature, even the most evil Baalei Ta’ava do not follow THAT yetzer hara, and it is only (the desire for homosexuality) because it is assur (in other words people who desire homosexulaity only do so because it’s “forbidden fruit”) and it is a sin l’hachis (a sin committed to ANGER GOD)

        Rav Moshe who is acknowledged by all of Orthodoxy as a posek halacha clearly says that homosexuality is not a “real” thing and only really evil people who want to anger God even have the desire to do it.

      • Or will you say that is only male homosexuals not lesbians

      • Lisa says:

        Well, hell yes, I’m going to say that that applies only to gay men. Just because western culture conflates things into “homosexuality” as a general category which is the same for men and women doesn’t mean the halakha does. That’s what I mean by amei ha-aretz who don’t know the halakha. I just hadn’t realized that you were one of them.

        That said, Rav Moshe’s comment about no men actually having a tayvah for gay sex was simply ignorant. He wasn’t omniscient, and he shouldn’t have spoken about something without getting informed. Even Moshe Rabbenu made mistakes, so it shouldn’t come as such a huge shock that Moshe Feinstein did.

      • >That’s what I mean by amei ha-aretz who don’t know the halakha. I just hadn’t realized that you were one of them.

        Just wondering who do you consider REAL halacha? (Just for the record I don’t consider most of Rav Moshe REAL halacha just bringing him to play devil’s advocate)

        >Even Moshe Rabbenu made mistakes, so it shouldn’t come as such a huge shock that Moshe Feinstein did.

        Maybe he added that verse about “toeva” by mistake ;)

      • Lisa says:

        Hmm… not the worst question in the world, even given your bad intent. But it would take quite a while to answer it fully, and I’m not sure your attention span is up to it. It’s a lot easier to say what *isn’t* halakha. Going from “Mishkav zachor is called toeiva in the Torah” to “Anal sex between males falls into the category of toeiva” to “Homosexuality is toeiva” to “Homosexuals are toeiva” to “Lisa is a toeiva” is an example of extreme ignorance of how halakha works. Words mean what they mean. Bad translations are not a valid halakhic input.

        I consider halakha arrived at by educated Jews, who arrive at it through the process defined by halakha (yes, it’s recursive, but not tautological — think it through before you say something else dumb) to be provisionally real halakha. There are other things involved, such as requisite authority, knowledge of a field (for example, Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan identifies certain Pharaohs by name in The Living Torah, but he wasn’t an Egyptologist and merely relied on what he was told was a reliable source, so I have no qualms about saying that he didn’t know what he was talking about when it comes to the identification of those Pharaohs), and not being philosophically opposed to Judaism. That last was a gratuitous swipe at both you and the owner of this blog.

        As far as the obnoxious comment about “Maybe he added that verse about ‘toeva’ by mistake” is concerned (despite the smiley), Moshe didn’t author the Torah. God did.

      • >But it would take quite a while to answer it fully, and I’m not sure your attention span is up to it.

        I’ve got all day, spill the beans! Explain to me my egregious ignorance of the halachic process.

        >and not being philosophically opposed to Judaism.

        Um what does that even mean? Philosophically opposed to Orthodoxy, philosophically opposed to YOUR version of Orthodoxy? Judaism is not a monolith.

        >I consider halakha arrived at by educated Jews, who arrive at it through the process defined by halakha (yes, it’s recursive, but not tautological — think it through before you say something else dumb)

        Can you name us some educated Jews who arrived at it through the process defined by halacha. And at the expense of being called dumb explain how such a “recursive” system works.

      • Philo says:

        Lisa, it matters not what the factual fact is. By the most liberal translation, the Torah prohibits gay and lesbian sex. However, it is obscene to assume the Orthodox community (95% of it–Holy Hyrax, who I am surprised has not intervened yet.) accepts gay and lesbian attraction and love either. They think it can “be fixed”. Why don’t you google “JONAH organization” and see what those sick fucks do.

        No one is telling you to be an atheist. But you would be much better off in Conservative Judaism, where they would at least not thing you are eternally damned.

      • Philo,

        Sorry just nitpicking…

        The Torah (the written Torah) does not prohibit lesbian sex it is at most a Rabbinic prohibition.

        Also I don’t think you’re really considered “damned” in Orthodox Judaism unless you actually have homosexual sex.

      • Philo says:

        Shilton,

        Go to your local Orthodox shul and klap on the beimah and say in broken yiddish “I’m a hamasexeshuval” and see what happens.

      • Lisa says:

        Philo wrote:
        Lisa, it matters not what the factual fact is. By the most liberal translation, the Torah prohibits gay and lesbian sex.

        Philo, just because you don’t like Orthodox Judaism and want to besmirch it doesn’t mean that your ridiculous characterizations are correct. The verses which refer to mishkav zachor absolutely do not refer to women. Period. According to every single talmid chacham and posek who has ever lived. The only people who think it includes women are Christians and ignorant Jews.

        Is there something that’s assur for two women to do together? Yes, there is. Is it d’Orayta? It’s a machloket, but I think it is. The Rambam certainly holds that it is (are you listening, Shilton HaSechel?). Is it properly translated as “lesbianism” or even “lesbian sex”? I don’t think so. No more than chazir is properly translated as “meat”.

        I know about JONAH. What are you, a child? Who do you think you’re talking to? Some benighted dyke who wandered in off the street and doesn’t know a thing about Judaism? I’ve been around this block for longer than the subject has probably even occurred to you.

        I grew up Conservative. Went to Ramah in Wisconsin for 4 summers as a camper, 4 summers on staff, and one summer in Israel. Almost went to JTS undergrad. I also know more about the Conservative movement than you do, and no, I would not be better off there, because I’m not Orthodox for the community. I’m Orthodox because I inadvertantly learned enough when I was in college that I grew convinced that it’s true, and the only way I can respect myself is to do what I think is right. If I were to try and be Conservative just because it’s easier socially, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself.

        I feel sorry for people whose self-esteem is so damaged that they’re willing to swap their values out in exchange for more Shabbat invitations. It’s pathetic. I don’t change my values or convictions to suit the situation.

        And we don’t have eternal damnation in Judaism. I think you’re confusing us for Catholicism.

        Lastly, everyone at my shul knows that my partner and I are lesbians. Our daughter calling us Ima and Mommy is kind of a giveaway. It isn’t a haredi shul, but it sure isn’t an Avi Weiss, YCT, JOFA, Open Orthodox, LLLLLLLLWMO shul either. Maybe you need to get out more.

      • Lisa,

        I was just about to ask you about the Rambam ;)

        Okay so let’s get this straight just so we’re all clear.

        1. You think that it is halachically permissible to be a practicing lesbian.

        Okay but it’s sort of based on the interpretation of an obscure word in the Gemara and the Rambam so I wouldn’t say that EVERYONE accepts the permissibility of lesbian sex. But you seem to be well versed in the literature so can you bring a source which expressly permits lesbian sex? I would be most interested. (I’ll try to overcome my “short attention span”)

        2. You don’t think of this as some sort of innovation or reform in halacha but rather something which has NEVER been forbidden in classical Judaism and is completely consistent with PREVAILING Orthodoxy.

        I understand your point but I think that MOST Orthodox people will disagree. Although you might have the Jewish texts on your side you do not have the hearts of the masses of Orthodoxy. Is this amhaaratzus? Probably but it still exists and it still is a huge problem. The shul you describe sounds like an amazing place and if they accept you and your partner then you are extremely fortunate. Unfortunately I fear the majority (or at least a large part) of Orthodoxy is not quite as open and accepting.

      • G*3 says:

        > That said, Rav Moshe’s comment about no men actually having a tayvah for gay sex was simply ignorant. He wasn’t omniscient, and he shouldn’t have spoken about something without getting informed.

        Apikorsis!

      • Lisa says:

        That was to the G * 3 person. And the <yawn> didn’t come through, unfortunately.

        Shilton, this is what I think about the issue of being a lesbian in terms of halakha. No, I haven’t found a rabbi who paskens this way. But at the same time, I haven’t found a rabbi who has been able to poke holes in it.

        Part of the problem, of course, is that this subject is unique in halakha. It’s the one subject that no rabbi — no man — has any knowledge about. Any connection. Niddah affects a husband. This… well, it’s completely out of the possible experience of men. And somehow, I have a hard time imagining a posek inviting a bunch of dykes in to ask, “So, what do you actually do together?”

        On the other hand, can you bring me a source which expressly forbids lesbian sex? I mean, other than nashim ha-mesollelot, which I agree is assur. And English translations that beg the question by translating NM as “lesbianism” or “lesbian sex” don’t count.

      • G*3 says:

        > Seriously?

        Of course not. You’re new around here, no?

        You really should dial the hostility down a bit.

        > On the other hand, can you bring me a source which expressly forbids lesbian sex?

        Interesting. Would you agree that there is nothing wrong with a woman leading Kabalas Shabbos because there is no source which expressly forbids it?

      • >On the other hand, can you bring me a source which expressly forbids lesbian sex?

        Well since this is obviously a very important topic I think the least I can ask for is a teshuva from a respectable Orthodox Rabbi if we are to establish the “official” Orthodox opinion on the matter. A teshuva would be useful if only to allay the doubts of the amhharatzim who “don’t know halacha” as you say.

    • Jackson says:

      Orthodox & Lesbian….a bit oxymoronic in my book. (My book is the Torah)

  2. Ephraim says:

    “it demonstrated a sea change in the approach of orthodoxy towards the issue of homosexuality in our community and demonstrates quite clearly that we can be more accepting of homosexuals while still maintaining the strictures of halacha.”

    Sea change? Hardly. Read Norman Lamm’s essay- from Tradition journal in 1970. (The same (similar?) essay appears in an Encyclopedia Judaica yearbook from the 70’s.

  3. Shades of Gray says:

    1) Regarding the good folks at Cross Currents, I like them on a personal basis(I’ve spoken to some of them) and I respect their right to any right-of-center opinion on this and on any issue(the Kabbolas Shabbos issue is probably agreed upon by many in the Left as well as inappropriate).

    To quote what’s been ( mis)attributed to Voltaire “I [may] disagree with what you have to say, but will fight to the death to protect your right to say it.”

    2) Regarding the recent homosexuality statement, while I personally like openness and discussion of issues, there are arguments to be made against aspects of the statement(see link below of one of those who signed it).

    3) The real issue for any community is to actually deal with the homosexual issue in an other-than-public way.

    To pick a different issue(see second link), not everyone in the community might choose to use Sarah Diament’s book(which has prestigious approbations). But there is no question that parent’s must relate to their children’s fears and questions on the topic of sexuality. People are entitled to have different ways of dealing with the same issue, which should be respected.

    So too, with homosexuality. Even if it’s not dealt with in a public statement, schuls and communities have to deal with the same issue with sensitivity, somehow–just perhaps not in a public way with such a statement.

    http://rechovot.blogspot.com/2010/07/statement-of-principles-on-place-of.html

    http://www.torahparenting.com/

  4. Jacob Stein says:

    From an atheistic perspective, why care about anything? We are all merely worthless, soulless bags of chemicals which will quickly decompose and disappear.

  5. Dov Kramer says:

    The issue of WTGs and sanctioning them within the walls of a shul may be a valid discussion, but guess what? YOU cannot take part in the discussion. YOU are Orthoprax. YOU don’t believe that the guidelines as to what should or should not be allowed or preferred are divine. Therefore, you have no business telling those that that are trying to live their lives and maintain a communal structure that is consistant with divine will, and who believe that our classic, traditional sources are the first place to turn to figure out what that divine will, what conclusion(s) THEY should reach.

    I won’t go into your house and tell you how to arrange the furniture; don’t tell me how I should arrange mine.

    • You can argue hypothetically. You can say: although I personally do not believe in Orthodoxy I believe that such and such is CONSISTENT with Orthodoxy etc.

      >I won’t go into your house and tell you how to arrange the furniture; don’t tell me how I should arrange mine.

      Um… it’s his opinion.. stop getting your nickers in a knot

      • Dov Kramer says:

        Without the “divine” part of the equation, a true judgement of what is appropriate and what is not cannot be made.

        This is true of an OP rabbi giving advice to his congregants as well, but it seems this “OPR” has gotten past the “inner turmoil” of (pretending to be) one, and moved on to regular OP blog stuff (meaning of davening, gender equality).

      • “Without the ‘divine’ part of the equatinon, a true judgement of what is appropriate and what is not cannot be made.” That is just silly. Who gets to decide what the divinity said – humans. So, at base, it is all human intelligence that determines right and wrong.

      • >Without the “divine” part of the equation, a true judgement of what is appropriate and what is not cannot be made.

        Logic is logic whether it comes from a believer or not. Unless of course you’re appealing to non-logic or “what I like” in which case a discussion is pointless since that is ultimately a subjective question. (However if you’re appealing to emotion/”what I like” then you have no right to impose your own subjective views on others)

      • Dov Kramer says:

        >>Who gets to decide what the divinity said – humans<<

        Not decide, but try to figure out. And if you don't believe in divinity, you can't claim to be trying to figure it out.

        I'm all for being welcoming to OPs. But they have to keep in mind that they are now guests at our table, not partners.

      • Dov Kramer says:

        >>Logic is logic whether it comes from a believer or not.<<

        If you are going to insert possible motivations (i.e. what people like), I would submit that OPs are the ones with ulterior motives. After all, they don't believe in the "system," but choose to live within it anyway. But if the "system" were adjusted, then an OP can still be seen as being "frum" while structure has changed to be more to his/her liking.

        Again, trying to figure out what G-d wants through the halachic system is not the same as examining the halachic system and figuring out what would not be inconsistant with it.

      • >If you are going to insert possible motivations (i.e. what people like), I would submit that OPs are the ones with ulterior motives.

        We’re all biased and you know it don’t pretend otherwise. Therefore one cannot object to an argument based on who said it because every argument comes from an inherently biased person. Rather we should judge each individual argument on its own merits and not on the merits of the speaker. So don’t disqualify anything OPR says JUST because of who he says he is. That’s just silly. Once again logic is logic, if something OPR says does not make sense point it out INSTEAD of continuing to harp about who he is and what he does.

        >Again, trying to figure out what G-d wants through the halachic system is not the same as examining the halachic system and figuring out what would not be inconsistant with it.

        Explain the difference.

      • G*3 says:

        > Without the “divine” part of the equation, a true judgement of what is appropriate and what is not cannot be made.

        Why not? Fans of fictional works have these kinds of discussions all the time.

        Sure, we all know Star Trek was made up by a bunch of writers working for Paramount, but if it was real…

        Sure, we all know Tanach is probably ancient Israelite mythology and rabbinic Judaism is the accretion of millennia of commentaries, social norms/practices, and legal responsa, but if it was real…

      • Dov Kramer says:

        >>>Again, trying to figure out what G-d wants through the halachic system is not the same as examining the halachic system and figuring out what would not be inconsistant with it.

        Explain the difference.<<

        There may be multiple possible options that would not be inconsistant with already established halacha. Nevertheless, one of those options would be the best option to choose for the situation/circumstances, and the deciding factors are which would help be/become more spiritual and which brings one closer to G-d.

        If one does not believe in the existance of either "spirituality" or "G-d," it can't be properly taken into account when deciding which of the options that would be consistant with previously established halacha is the most appropriate one.

      • >If one does not believe in the existance of either “spirituality” or “G-d,”

        It’s not that I don’t believe in spirituality it’s just that no one can tell me what it is. It’s just a word. Define what it means to become “more spiritual”.

      • Dov Kramer says:

        >> Define what it means to become “more spiritual”.<<

        Focusing more on the intellect (and its needs for growth) than on the body (and its needs).

      • Rabban Gamliel says:

        theorthopraxrabbi says:”“Without the ‘divine’ part of the equatinon, a true judgement of what is appropriate and what is not cannot be made.” That is just silly. Who gets to decide what the divinity said – humans. So, at base, it is all human intelligence that determines right and wrong.”

        That’s a silly argument on your part. He knows humans can come up with ideas of right and wrong. He’s arguing about what makes right and wrong binding. One strange thing is that if you indeed wrote for Torah journals and have such a background in learning, how is it that the best you can contribute to conversations are the musings of ordinary bloggers and indeed contribute the same type of material?

      • >Focusing more on the intellect (and its needs for growth) than on the body (and its needs).

        How do Jewish rituals affect one’s intellect? More importantly what does a woman leading kabbalat shabbat have ANYTHING to do with one’s intellect?

        And finally how does a religion which discourages challenges to (not questions but challenges) to accepted dogma a good system to foster a growth of intellect? Isn’t accepting something without allowing it to be criticized the opposite of intellectual. Or maybe we just have different definitions of intellectual.

      • Dov Kramer says:

        ShS,

        All good discussion points; I’ll try my best to do it justice.

        I used the word “intellect” instead of the word “soul” because I didn’t think “soul” would/could resonate with those questioning the existance of divinity/spirituality. Spiritually growing means to focus more on the soul than the body. Since there are some Rishonim (e.g. Rambam, Ralbag) that understand the soul to be the intellect, with developing the intellect instead of feeding the body (not just food) being the point of our existance, I used the word intellect instead of soul.

        ShS:- “How do Jewish rituals affect one’s intellect?”

        Each one has a different aspect. If you go through the Ralbag’s commentary on Chumash he goes through this in detail. He even explains how the specific rituals involved in karbanos impact it, including how the differences between the karbanos accomplish different things.

        For those who want a more general idea on a very basic level, keeping kashrus trains us to think before we put anything into our mouths. For those who want more detailed descriptions, GO STUDY!

        ShS- “More importantly what does a woman leading kabbalat shabbat have ANYTHING to do with one’s intellect?”

        I haven’t discussed this issue, so you’re putting me in the position of defending a position I may not feel that strongly about (kind of like an athiest paskening halacha!). However, my understanding is that this relates more with gender roles than anything else.

        ShS- “And finally how does a religion which discourages challenges to (not questions but challenges) to accepted dogma a good system to foster a growth of intellect?”

        I’m not sure I agree with your assessment here. At what age do you think these challanges should be raised? It can’t be when their young, before the intellect has developed enough to give such issues a real going through, and by the time they are old enough to try to tackle them, those whose intellect has developed properly will do so.

        Which takes us to another major aspect often missing from these types of discussions. My understanding is that it is not assumed that most people will successfully develop their intellect. There are *individuals* that might, but not the “hamon am.” We therefore have to distinguish between what the structure provides for the masses and what it provides for those individuals who can/will fulfill the purpose of creation.

        This is a major topic, much more complex than a comment on the blog of a fraud, but hopefulling raising the issue here is enough of a starting point.

      • If you mean intellect in the Jewish Aristotelian sense then we’re no closer to any understanding. (Because the “intellect” described by the medieval theologians is just as “ethereal” and metaphysical as the term “soul”)

        Where is the soul/intellect? Is it the brain? Is it floating around like a halo? How is it independent of the body? How can it be observed? Is it in another “metaphysical dimension’? If so how does it connect with the physical? (Mind body problem)

        We can’t discuss something which is undefined. (I mean so far the only definition is spirituality = improving soul = improving intellect. I still don’t know what a soul/intellect is though.)

      • Dov Kramer says:

        >>Where is the soul/intellect? Is it the brain? <<

        "she'haneshama she'be'mochi" seems to indicate as much.

      • So the soul is an invisible things which sits in my brain? Why does physical damage to the brain affect one’s personality etc. Why is brain dead = no consciousness. How does physically damaging the brain affect the “neshama”?

      • Dov Kramer says:

        ShS-

        Sorry, I can’t help you. (And chances are if I ever get to the point where I delve into kabbalah enough to understand these things, I won’t be commenting on blogs!)

        Understand, though, that by definition the existance of the soul cannot be be proven through scientific experimentation, and if that is what is required, there’s no way to do it.

        Those who “believe” or have concluded that something exists beyond our physical world have done so because our physical doesn’t (and probably can’t) provide enough answers. Trying to bring those aphysical things into physical restraints is self-defeating, and pointless.

      • Rabban Gamliel says:

        Shilton HaSechel said”So the soul is an invisible things which sits in my brain? Why does physical damage to the brain affect one’s personality etc. Why is brain dead = no consciousness. How does physically damaging the brain affect the “neshama”?

        Well you yourself talk of something intangible, personality. If it is all brain why does personality and mood affect the brain? Why does mood and attitude and personality affect health both to hurt and heal?

      • Dov Kramer,
        >Understand, though, that by definition the existance of the soul cannot be be proven through scientific experimentation

        Obviously – but I don’t understand how you can discuss details of “improving ones soul” without any sort of clear definition.

        Rabban Gamliel,
        >Why does mood and attitude and personality affect health both to hurt and heal?

        Because, like any doctor knows, mind and body are one.

      • Rabban Gamliel says:

        Shilton HaSechel said”Rabban Gamliel,
        >Why does mood and attitude and personality affect health both to hurt and heal?

        Because, like any doctor knows, mind and body are one.”

        What any doctor knows is that they affect one another.

      • zen jew says:

        What confounds me about this thread is the obvious platonic/christian influence in imagining the soul as split from/higher than the body/nature or physical world. This sort of thinking only represents one western tradition for thinking about the spirit that is plainly rationalist and intellectualist. Fortunately, jewish practice and tradition challenge these sorts of static categories and allows for more phenomenological and experiential forms of spirituality that may be, in fact, entirely mystical and irrational.

      • Dov Kramer says:

        >>I don’t understand how you can discuss details of “improving ones soul” without any sort of clear definition. <<

        Which is why we lean on/rely on the traditional literature for guidance.

      • Rabban Gamliel
        >What any doctor knows is that they affect one another.

        lol Because they are one

        Zen Jew,
        >What confounds me about this thread is the obvious platonic/christian influence in imagining the soul as split from/higher than the body/nature or physical world.

        That tradition has a long history in Judaism also. One of the many objections to Aristotelianism by some Jews in the Middle Ages was precisely that he defined the soul not as a separate entity but as a form or entelechy of the body. I would say that most Jewish traditions have believed in a duality of soul and body but of course there are exceptions.

        >Fortunately, jewish practice and tradition challenge these sorts of static categories and allows for more phenomenological and experiential forms of spirituality that may be, in fact, entirely mystical and irrational.

        Who are you thinking of exactly?

      • Dov Kramer,
        >Which is why we lean on/rely on the traditional literature for guidance.

        Ah my good friend Dov we have come full circle! If you remember the original question was if you, the believer, are any more qualified to discuss and interpret Jewish traditions than the non-believer. Your justification was you have a better appreciation of the soul and spirituality than the non-believer which informs your decisions while we have less lofty goals. However you yourself admit that you haven’t the slightest idea what a soul or spirituality is any more than me or OPR. Therefore I ask again : what is the difference between the believer’s interpretation of Judaism and the Orthopraxers interpretation when neither of them have any clear understanding of what spirituality or the soul is.

      • Dov Kramer says:

        ShS,

        Although I am glad you consider me a friend…

        “we have come full circle!”

        Not quite. There is a difference between the literature that would inform us about how to grow spiritually (thereby helping us better understand what the “soul” is) and the halachic literature. There is, of course, some overlap, but you know as well as anyone here the difference between the halachic literature and the aggadic literature. It is the latter that forms the basis of the musser movement, and is used in “inspirational” speeches, and helps us set the spiritual goals that the halacha is the structure within which to try to atain them.

        When new “guidelines” for the halachic structure must be defined, they must be informed by the spiritual goals set by that other section (if you will) of the traditional literature. Those that aren’t “gorais” (don’t acknowledge) the spiritual aspect can therefore not be part of the conversation when defining the structure within which to reach those spiritual goals.

        “However you yourself admit that you haven’t the slightest idea what a soul or spirituality is any more than me or OPR.”

        Never said that. I said it was difficult to define in words if the reference point had to be something physical, something that you can touch (etc.). But despite my (futile) attempts at modesty, I would say I have a much better “idea” or understanding of the soul that those who don’t believe in one.

      • >When new “guidelines” for the halachic structure must be defined, they must be informed by the spiritual goals set by that other section (if you will) of the traditional literature.

        Fine the spiritual goals are set by the agadata and what are those goals?
        ….
        …….

        spiritual improvement ?

        And what’s spiritual improvement?

        It looks like we’re going in a bit of a circle no?

        >Never said that. I said it was difficult to define in words if the reference point had to be something physical, something that you can touch (etc.). But despite my (futile) attempts at modesty, I would say I have a much better “idea” or understanding of the soul that those who don’t believe in one.

        Well if you can’t (or it’s difficult to) describe it in words who described it to you in the first place ;)

        Or did you have a religious experience?

        Nu give it a shot! Try explaining it despite the difficulty! I’m all ears.

      • Dov Kramer says:

        >>did you have a religious experience?<<

        Yes. It's called years of learning. Dedication to Torah and mitzvos. Thinking things through. Speaking them over with those who know more and whose judgement I trust. And more learning. And learning the right things.

        A picture emerges of how we are supposed to refine ourselves, how to identify things that create separation and things that remove separators.

        And doing a scholarly review of the halachic literature on a topic will not be able to incorporate this into figuring out which way is best to shape the structure that will help others get closer (attach themselves) to their Source.

      • >Yes. It’s called years of learning.

        I hate to me dismissive but I too learned for years (probably not as long as you) and got no closer to understanding any of it. I guess you’re just lucky. Either way PLEASE share with us what you’ve learned about the soul. Even if its hard to describe.

        >A picture emerges of how we are supposed to refine ourselves, how to identify things that create separation and things that remove separators.

        Please paint the picture for us.

      • Rabban Gamliel says:

        Shilton HaSechelsaid:”Rabban Gamliel
        >What any doctor knows is that they affect one another.

        lol Because they are one”

        You don’t know that. Is it that the brain is really conscienceness or that consciuounss is somehow matter and what does that say about the nature of matter; or are you trying to argue that consciousness as we think of it, is an illusion and we are not having a debate. Are we not having an argument but rather our brains are having us “think” and write what we do? I don’t see machines engaged in debate about their ontological status.

      • Dov Kramer says:

        “I hate to me dismissive but I too learned for years (probably not as long as you) and got no closer to understanding any of it.”

        I don’t know what kind of learning you did, and I don’t want to (and can’t) characterize your learning, but in a Beis Midrash full of bucherim (students), each one is still (believe it or not) an individual, and approaches their learning differently. Most do not partake in Musser Seder; as the old joke goes, on the first day of the z’man in Lakewood, during “chavrusa tumul” (when everybody huddles and has mini-gatherings trying to arrange study partners for the three sedarim), which to an outsider looks like just standing around “shmoozing,” the custodian asked whether there was Musser seder all say.

        There were guys that enjoyed “winning arguments” more than trying to understand G-d’s mind, or were there because they felt they had to be in yeshiva.

        Again, I;m trying to say you were one of those guys, only to point out that not all learning is the same.

        “PLEASE share with us what you’ve learned about the soul. Even if its hard to describe.

        Please paint the picture for us.”

        “Paint?” Picture?” You are still asking for a description in a language (physicality) that does not really recognize the concept.

        The soul is the divine part of the human being, but then you will ask for a definition of “divine.” The soul is the part that connects with G-d, but now you’ll ask me to define “G-d.” I’m not sure I could define “consciousness” properly either, nor am I sure that it is not connected to the soul.

        I do know that excessive phyical pleasure clouds the soul, and that refraining from physicality allows it to come more into focus. It allows the “self” to disappear and see things from a more objective perspective. I’m not sure what else I could do to describe it. But I couldn’t describe the way chocolate tastes either; one would have to taste it themselves to understand it.

      • So would you say that the idea of a soul in inherently incommunicable and you have to try it to get it? Sort of like (l’havdil) describing sight to a blind person

      • Dov Kramer says:

        “So would you say that the idea of a soul in inherently incommunicable and you have to try it to get it? Sort of like (l’havdil) describing sight to a blind person”

        I’m not fully comfortable with the analogy, as it implies that those who don’t recognize the existance of the soul don’t have one, but otherwise it is a fair way to describe it.

    • Shades of Gray says:

      The key towards being empathic towards one with Orthoprax proclivities(exacerbating any problem is that they label themselves as such), much like towards Jews with homosexual tendencies, is how well they themselves relate to, and care about the rest of the Orthodox community.

      If one with Orthoprax proclivities, indeed has a ” feeling of deep connection to and identification with the Jewish people and its traditions”(see link below), this needs to be demonstrated, and I encourage the Bal Hablog to do so. If he did, he might be in a better position to comment on what should be considered conventional Orthodox practices(though one might still disagree, if it’s being argued from a prospective of disbelief).

      From The Commentator:

      “With this background, some policy questions can be considered. The first is the stance to adopt towards the individual Orthoprax Jew; it should be self-evident that he is not to be despised for his beliefs. On the contrary, in many cases, the decision to remain observant rather than depart for a less demanding environment, whether Reform Judaism or humanism, demonstrates a profound appreciation for the social, intellectual, and psychological aspects of Orthodoxy. Some even remain Orthoprax out of a feeling of deep connection to and identification with the Jewish people and its traditions, for which they deserve naught but our admiration. In sum, the Orthoprax serve as living disproof to the oft-cited contention that the truth of Orthodoxy is so obvious that its denial arises solely from the desire to follow one’s base impulses unencumbered by its self-denying regulation”

      http://www.yucommentator.com/kol-hamevaser/the-modern-orthodox-response-to-orthopraxy-1.863560#5

      • Good point, affilation and emphathy can be more important than practice.

      • Shades of Gray says:

        “Good point, affilation and emphathy can be more important than practice”

        He’s discussing two cases of those who practice mitzvos(“Prax”), and seems to value those who have a “deep connection to and identification” over “social, intellectual, and psychological aspects of observance”. Ie, connection towards the Jewish people and tradition+ mitzvah observance, is greater than having a mere psychological( non-belief inspired) appreciation for Mitzvos, the latter, still being good. This seems to p’shat in his evaluating the two cases.

        I would say that the key in all of this is “the light of Torah” brings one back to the better, and the more refined the “s’hlo lishmah”, the better it is.

    • So would you say that the idea of a soul in inherently incommunicable and you have to try it to get it? Sort of like (l’havdil) describing sight to a blind person?

    • zen jew says:

      shilton:

      true, most traditions of the “spirit” in judaism are dualistic: body/soul, god/world, etc. this is fundamentally platonic and reinforced through the spread of classical and medieval christianity.

      to elaborate, though, on some of the more radical thinkers in our tradition:
      1. r. avraham ben harambam: read his sefer hamaspik, especially when he draws on sufi (non-dual islamic) teaching.
      2. b. spinoza: pantheist or panentheist (depending on how you read him). baal shem tov’s traditions sound much like his.
      3. r. nachman of breslov: not at all rational or intellectualist: creative, associative, negatively theological.

      also, daniel boyarin makes a strong case in his “intertextuality and reading of midrash” that the pre-christian midrashists saw the torah (and the world) as a closed system and self-referential–i.e., the torah didn’t mean anything outside of itself, there is nothing beyond (spirit, whatever) the torah.

      granted, these are radical ways of rethinking our theology, and are all certain thinkers i hope to explore on my own blog. but they offer a language to thinkers who are critical of magical thinking of signification, or of fetishizing (that is, locking into static meaning) our traditions and rituals. all of these, one might say, is avodah zarah.

  6. Abe says:

    “As far as the obnoxious comment about “Maybe he added that verse about ‘toeva’ by mistake” is concerned (despite the smiley), Moshe didn’t author the Torah. God did.”

    Wow, a fundamentalist lesbian. Who would have thought?

    • Lisa says:

      Oh, seriously, Abe. Grow up. Labeling someone fundamentalist just because they haven’t jettisoned Judaism is childish.

    • Lisa,
      You’re being labeled fundamentalist because you take every single word of the Torah as divine. (As far as I can see but correct me if I’m wrong) That is the DEFINITION of fundamentalism.

      You seem to be taking an all or nothing approach in other words “either God wrote the Torah word for word” or Judaism is a load of crap. Don’t you think that’s a bit of a false dichotomy. Do you think all the denominations between Orthodox Judaism and atheism have “jettisoned Judaism”. You need not believe that every last letter of the Torah is divine to be Jewish.

      • Lisa says:

        Really, Shilton? Is that what it means? Huh. Because Dictionary.com doesn’t seem to agree. Aside from a particular Christian group, it gives “strict adherence to any set of basic ideas or principles”. Well hell, Shilton, I would hope that any Jew would be a fundamentalist in that sense. In fact, you appear to be a fundamentalist yourself. The basic ideas or principles just don’t happen to be those of Judaism.

        Now… if you’d said “biblical literalist”, or something like that, I could have just laughed at you and pointed out that I’m not a Karaite. But you don’t, so I can’t.

        I think it’s kind of sad that Jews who haven’t “gone over to the dark side” get called fundamentalists by those who have. I wonder if it’s because deep down you have bitter regrets about what you’ve lost.

        In all honesty, I’d rather never have learned about Judaism. I’m a science fiction fan, and the idea of a mechanistic universe that’s understandable without God really appeals to me, emotionally. That, and I hate being told what to do. But I go by what I think is right. Call that fundamentalism or extremism or fanaticism (I kind of like fanaticism) or whatever you like. Just don’t think that you’ve actually demonstrated anything about me or Judaism by your use of pejoratively intended terms.

      • Lisa says:

        I forgot to add that you don’t have to believe in anything to be Jewish. But you do in order to be doing Judaism. The Conservative and Reform (and Reconstructionist and Renewal and Humanistic and Messianic) movements are not forms of Judaism. Those of their adherents who are Jewish are Jews. Jews who are affiliated with heterodox movements which are not forms of Judaism. So yes, I think they’ve jettisoned Judaism.

        And yes, if the Torah wasn’t given by God at Sinai (using the term Sinai to also include the 40 years in the desert), the whole thing is a bunch of hooey. I don’t get you. What possible reason could there be to create one more division between us and them other than “God said so”? What, because we have an ethical tradition? Are you saying that non-Jews can’t be ethical?

      • Fine if we are to be very technical you believe in the infallibility and immutability of the Bible – something which I cannot accept.

        >I forgot to add that you don’t have to believe in anything to be Jewish.

        That is indeed the opinion of some but it is not so simple.

        >And yes, if the Torah wasn’t given by God at Sinai (using the term Sinai to also include the 40 years in the desert), the whole thing is a bunch of hooey.

        Firstly that contradicts what you said about not needing to believe anything but w/e.
        Lol better tell that to Louis Jacobs and Avraham Yehoshua Heschel. Do you think they jettisoned Judaism? God doesn’t have to speak ONE (or a few times over 40 years) for the Torah to have value. The Conservative movement as I’m sure you’re well aware believes that the Torah was compiled over many generations by men inspired by God. So yes they believe God said so without it being at Sinai.

      • Sorry correction:

        Re:
        >>I forgot to add that you don’t have to believe in anything to be Jewish.
        >Firstly that contradicts what you said about not needing to believe anything but w/e.

        Oh sorry I thought you were referring to Mendelssohn’s rational religion but you were just referring to the Am Hayehudi. My bad.

      • Lisa says:

        What’s w/e?

        Also, the idea that God inspired people to write that God gave us the Torah supposes a dishonest God that I’m not particularly interested in. Like I said, I grew up Conservative, and I’ve heard all the cute little rationalizations.

      • >Also, the idea that God inspired people to write that God gave us the Torah supposes a dishonest God that I’m not particularly interested in.

        Lol instead you believe that God wanted people to mercilessly slaughter women and children in a religiously inspired genocide and that he wanted people stoned to death for breaking minor rituals. I’m not particularly interested in ascribing all those things to God. I know this old OTD rhetoric but it had to be said.

        But seriously. The Pentateuch never says that God wrote the Pentateuch. It says that Moshe wrote certain bits and pieces (such as Haazinu) but it never says that he wrote the book we have. Therefore God committed no lie.

        You can believe in Sinai as an event but still believe that the book WE HAVE was not necessarily a product of that event.

        Also the Conservative Idea of Divine Inspiration as I’m sure you’re well aware posits that some human input is involved which would explain any errors or inconsistencies.

      • G*3 says:

        > Also, the idea that God inspired people to write that God gave us the Torah supposes a dishonest God that I’m not particularly interested in.

        But you said that you’re Orthodox because you became convinced of the truth of Orthodoxy. If it is true that God inspired people to write that God gave us the Torah, then that should be accepted. That you don’t like God’s dishonesty is irrelevant.

      • Dov Kramer says:

        >>you believe in the infallibility and immutability of the Bible – something which I cannot accept. <<

        There's a huge difference between "cannot" and "do not."

      • >There’s a huge difference between “cannot” and “do not.”

        Um .. maybe you can teach me how to force myself to believe something.

      • Dov Kramer says:

        >>The Pentateuch never says that God wrote the Pentateuch. It says that Moshe wrote certain bits and pieces (such as Haazinu) but it never says that he wrote the book we have. <<

        There are two different terms used, "shira" and "sefer."

        The former refers to the "song" of Haazinu.

        The latter refers to a document that contained more than just that.

      • Dov Kramer says:

        >>maybe you can teach me how to force myself to believe something.<<

        "Cannot" means unable to, not now, not then, not ever.

        "Do not" refers a current state, but not not necessarily rule out it ever changing.

      • Re: Cannot do not

        I can agree to that distinction.

        If I find out that I’ve been thinking everything all wrong then I’ll happily go back to believing. I keep my ears and eyes open but I must admit that I have little faith that anything will convince me otherwise.

  7. Bernie says:

    Finally a orthodox shul for him and HIR.

  8. Lisa says:

    Shilton HaSechel wrote:
    Fine if we are to be very technical you believe in the infallibility and immutability of the Bible – something which I cannot accept.

    Can I ask why? If you’d rather not answer here, you can email me at lisa at starways dot net.

    • To rehash the old arguments:

      I personally can’t accept that God mandated some of the rather brutal things present in the Pentateuch. Nor would I want to worship a God like that. It goes against my moral compass.

      And I also personally believe that Mosaic authorship is untenable for historical and literary reasons.

      Therefore while I don’t object to the idea that there is SOME divinity in the Pentateuch I cannot accept that it is COMPLETELY word for word from God.

      If you want details just ask.

  9. Lisa I respect you for doing what you think is right, but it breaks my heart that you think it’s right. That’s how I feel about Orthodox gays and lesbians, not that anybody asked. :-)

    • Lisa says:

      So you can probably understand how I feel. I wish I had the words to convince you that you’re wrong, but I don’t. And it’s frustrating, because I’m not bad with words. But I think you’re trapped, and nothing I say is going to make any difference. I’m truly sorry about that.

      • Orielle says:

        JewishAtheist, I second.

        Lisa, I wish you didnt get r defensive by replies with questions, ideas that are intended on not changing you, but are dialogue. You seem to have a really good perspective to show some readers, but you don’t seem to want to listen. And the belittlement doesn’t help.

        Growing up in orthodox communities, I’ve been very close with several people that identified as gay and most of them, although reluctant to leave ritual behind (among many important aspects), left communities because of a strong dissonance they could not handle. Bravo, you can handle it. You have reconciled it with your interpretation of halacha. Many people can’t. This seems like a beautiful (and treacherous) journey you’ve gone through and will remain in. You sound like you’re putting down the people that disagree with your conclusion + don’t choose as you do, based on *your halachic belief system* and that’s what is a shame.

        I’m curious: Have you considered how your current halachic belief system would be challenged or differ if you were a gay male?

      • You’re almost certainly right that you couldn’t convince me, but that’s because I’ve heard all the words, and they’re not convincing. I think even a lot of believers would have to admit that atheists tend to “win” the arguments, just because our case is so much easier.

        For example, Orthodox Judaism teaches that God wrote the Torah by dictating it to Moshe. Are you telling me you honestly believe that an intelligent, all-powerful, compassionate and loving deity wrote the words of Leviticus 18:22? He wrote that a man sleeping with a man is a toevah and they should be KILLED?

        Seriously?

      • Dov Kramer says:

        >>an intelligent, all-powerful, compassionate and loving deity wrote the words of Leviticus 18:22? He wrote that a man sleeping with a man is a toevah and they should be KILLED?

        Seriously?<<

        1) Clarification of Biblical intent: Should be killed if two witnesses issued a warning that if they don't refrain they could be prosecuted and killed, and they respond with "yes, we know, are are doing it anyway." And even then, the court will try everything they can to find a loophole not to convict. In other words, the death penalty is meant to inform us about the seriousness of the sin, not a guideline as to what should actually be done to/with the sinner.

        2) "To'eiva" (abomination) is used to describe numerous sins. It should not be hard to understand why functions designed to procreate the species used for other purposes is not recommended by a moral guide to spiritual growth.

      • >1) Clarification of Biblical intent:

        All of that is in the Gemara but nowhere in the Bible and if you think that the Gemara represents the Bible’s original intent well then this discussion is rather pointless.

      • Dov Kramer says:

        >>if you think that the Gemara represents the Bible’s original intent well then this discussion is rather pointless.<<

        I fully agree that the Written Law is untenable without the Oral Law.

        You cannot argue against the possibility of the divine origin of the Written Law as understood by the Oral Law by removing the latter and claiming the former alone cannot be divine.

      • Lisa says:

        Actually, it isn’t so much a matter of whether the Gemara reflects Biblical intent or not. It does, but that isn’t the issue. What we received at Sinai was the Torah shebichtav and the Torah sheb’al peh. The latter is the primary source of Torah law.

        Is the Gemara the same thing as the Torah sheb’al peh? Of course not. The Gemara is written down, so by definition it isn’t. It contains Torah sheb’al peh, but not all of it.

        God gave us a corpus of law and lore, and He gave us a system with which to use it. Do you think that “an eye for an eye” ever actually meant literal lex talionis? Not in the Torah, it didn’t.

      • G*3 says:

        > Clarification of Biblical intent: Should be killed if two witnesses issued a warning that if they don’t refrain they could be prosecuted and killed, and they respond with “yes, we know, are are doing it anyway.” And even then, the court will try everything they can to find a loophole not to convict.

        So wrote the compilers of the gemara, in a time and place when a beis din no longer had the authority to carry out capital punishments. The chumash says to kill him. Heaven forbid that anyone should mistakenly think that it means what it says.
        > In other words, the death penalty is meant to inform us about the seriousness of the sin, not a guideline as to what should actually be done to/with the sinner.

        Are you suggesting that after with eidim and hasraah and a conviction, the beis din would tell the gay lovers, “We’ve convicted you of a capital offense, but it was only assigned capital punishment to show us how serious it is. God didn’t really mean that we should kill you. Go home now and be good boys.”

        Or would they execute them?

        Come on. Of course it’s a sentencing guidline.

        > It should not be hard to understand why functions designed to procreate the species used for other purposes is not recommended by a moral guide to spiritual growth.

        “Other purposes”? Like recreation, or creating feelings of closeness between partners? When did it become assur for pregnant or post-menopausal women to have sex?

        If you’re criticizing the off-label use of body parts, well, as noses weren’t meant for supporting glasses, feet weren’t meant for pushing pedals, our digestive tracts weren’t meant for absorbing medications, our fingers weren’t meant for typing…

        Yes, those examples are silly, but so is the claim that sex organs should be used only for procreation.

        And why is sex singled out as a morally-loaded drive? I can eat an extra piece of desert without anyone calling me immoral, even though that piece of cake was not necessary to sustain me. In fact, I can eat any kind of dessert I like, and no one will think anything of it. Why is sex any different?

      • Dov Kramer says:

        >>Why is sex any different?<<

        1) Because the Torah labeled it as such. (I know this means nothing to non-believers, but since it has been suggested that non-believers can objectively understand how believers should believe, they have to understand how this informs the believer.)

        2) Because it is a means for us to become partners with G-d in "creating," and abusing that special privilege is more serious than abusing the means to sustain our bodies.

        3) Because it is so powerful that it can more easily take over a person's life. I don't know many overeaters that surf for pictures of deserts, or go "desert-watching" rather than, ahem, "bird-watching."

      • Dov Kramer says:

        >>beis din no longer had the authority to carry out capital punishments<<

        If so, there would be no reason to label any beis din as a "murdering one," as they couldn't execute anyone anyway. And I guess all that's written about whether the Sanhedrin convicted Yushka is worthless, as they couldn't have.

        The process of being accused of a crime punishable by death, having the accusations made publicly, and waiting to see how things turned out, could not have been pleasant. Even if the courts (almost) always) found a technicality to prevent conviction.

      • Shades of Gray says:

        “And why is sex singled out as a morally-loaded drive?”

        Other acts are also mentioned in Chaigah(16a) as animalistic:

        “People are similar to angels in three ways and are similar to animals in three ways They have wisdom, walk upright and converse in Lashon ha’Kodesh, just like angels. They eat and drink, reproduce, and defecate, just like animals.”

        Sexuality is perhaps singled out because:

        A) Kabbalistic reasons

        B) It involves the mind and heart in an act which has the potential to be animalistic, and thus must be sanctified and elevated more than eating which does not involve the mind and heart.

        From a psychological perspective, it is probably also important not to have excessive shame regarding the animal component.

      • Lisa – I respect your passion but your frustration is misplaced. You and I are actually quite similar, though while I know I would be grateful for that company, it would seem you are loathe to accept it. We both struggle with what we are and reconciling that with what we think we know. You are trying to squeeze your life and your choices into normative orthodoxy—a lonely place for you—as I am trying to squeeze my career and my life and my knowledge into my work as a Rabbi. It is surprising but not dissapoitning that you would not want the support of some one like me, but I believe our goals and worldviews are far more attuned than you would like to admit. You and your partner would be welcome in my house—with open arms—and I understand your pain of exclusion. And I also think you misunderstand the term, Orthoprax, like much of the commentators. I am orthopraxy in the sense that I practice and particicpate in the mitvot and rituals—much like you do—but I hardly believe in them the way you do. That is the very definition of orthopraxy and the fact that I have a problem believing in God does not remove the fact that I practice and participate in the all the orthodox rituals and provide guidance to my congregation.

      • Dov Kramer:

        I know that the Rabbis made it almost impossible to implement the punishment described in the pasuk. I know all about how they transformed the religion into something completely new and different over the centuries.

        That’s really irrelevant to my question though. My question is if Lisa honestly believes that the all-powerful, all-knowing, all-good creator of the universe wrote that pasuk. Even if he told Moshe to tell the sages to tell the other sages that he really didn’t mean it except in ridiculously narrow circumstances (but don’t write it down!) it still sounds more like something an Afghani Muslim cleric would write than something a wonderful, loving God would write.

      • G*3 says:

        > Because the Torah labeled it as such.

        That’s actually not too bad an answer. The next question would be: Why?

        > Because it is a means for us to become partners with G-d in “creating,”

        You should make it, “creating life.”

        > Because it is so powerful that it can more easily take over a person’s life. I don’t know many overeaters that surf for pictures of deserts, or go “desert-watching” rather than, ahem, “bird-watching.”

        This one is kind of silly. Of course overeaters don’t look at pictures of food – pictures of food provide very little stimulation. It’s not a valid analogy.

        > If so, there would be no reason to label any beis din as a “murdering one,” as they couldn’t execute anyone anyway. And I guess all that’s written about whether the Sanhedrin convicted Yushka is worthless, as they couldn’t have.

        Don’t conflate historical periods. By the time the gemara was written, the Sanhedrin no longer existed. We don’t know how often batie din carried out capital punishments. All we have are the gemara’s claims, madwe long after the fact, that capital punishments were rarely carried out. A claim which may well have been a way of saying, “It’s not really a big deal that we can’t execute anyone these days, because it was almost never done anyway.”

      • Lisa says:

        Hayyim,

        In your intro post, you wrote “I personally don’t keep much of any of Jewish law.” You keep using the word Orthoprax; I don’t think it means what you think it means. Because it really doesn’t mean an atheist who personally doesn’t keep much of any of Jewish law. You know that, right? You realize that you’re using the term Orthoprax because calling yourself the OTD Rabbi or the Frei Rabbi or the Sham Rabbi wouldn’t have gotten you nearly as much attention, right?

        Saying now that “I practice and participate in the all the orthodox rituals and provide guidance to my congregation” is not very convincing in light of your original post.

        Look, you’re probably a really nice person in real life. But what you’re doing is wrong. And I do resent you comparing yourself to me. I don’t lie and say that I’m straight. In particular, I don’t do so for money. Do you really not get how I (and others) see that as reprehensible?

      • You are correct I was inexact in my initial post. I practice most of Jewish law and ritual. By stating “I don’t keep much of Jewish law” I was speaking more in the abstract, the theology not the practice. I have no problem if you want to refer to me as OTD Rabbi or Frie or the Sham Rabbi, nor was I looking for attention. Indeed, I had posted my initial post (on a whim) and then almost forgotten about it until some time later it was “discovered.” This, in part, is why I haven’t quite figured out what I am hoping to accomplish here, it really is a journey of sorts.
        I do understand that not everyone is going to accept my positions and that is fine. I do hope, however, that they will at least listen with an open mind.

      • Rabban Gamliel says:

        theorthopraxrabbi says:”You are correct I was inexact in my initial post. I practice most of Jewish law and ritual. By stating “I don’t keep much of Jewish law” I was speaking more in the abstract, the theology not the practice.”

        You contradict yourself. See http://theorthopraxrabbi.wordpress.com/2010/06/17/about-me/#comments

        Yaakov Yoseif says:
        July 7, 2010 at 10:32 pm
        Actually, although my sympathies ultimately lie with the Rabbi, Larry makes a good point. Since I stopped caring so much about all the minutiae that frum people have to worry about a million times a day, I’ve actually forgotten a lot of the “smaller” halachos– especially in hilchos shabbos. This despite the fact that I spent like 15 years in yeshiva (counting grade school– which was still intense), and many of my friends ask me to “paskin” their sheilos. If you want to break shabbos in private, Rabbi, you’re gonna have to keep on your toes. I recommend you stick to halacha despite your beliefs, and just charge the congregation for the overtime hours worked.

        theorthopraxrabbi says:
        July 8, 2010 at 3:46 pm
        I agree that is a potential problem, but irrespective of my own practices, I constantly get asked questions and thus can’t forget the halachot.

  10. Holy Hyrax says:

    >As Dovbear and Gideon Slifkin have aptly demonstrated—and anyone with a hint of curiosity or desire to understand our religion and our rituals could just as easily discover—the entire composition of Kabbalas Shabbos is an innovation, and some of the same are hymns to Baal, which is more than somewhat noteworthy.

    I don’t understand. Isen’t EVERYTHING some sort of innovation composed at some point or another? This isn’t really an argument.

    • Actually it is. The crowd screaming from the rafters about the non-changing nature of Judaism simply cannot have it both ways. Either we accept the fact that the torah and our approach to it has changed and that we have incorporated rituals and remade them “in our own image” or we haven’t’. And when we made those changes, did those changes happen organically, by fiat, by evolution, or by osmosis? And, why and when did that process suddenly stop? For example, I have been a number of wedding recently and I have been struck that it seems rote at this point for there to be a few songs, one after the chosson walks down the aisle, one after the kallah walks down, maybe even another one, and certainly a form of im ish Kochech. That certainly wasn’t the case when I got married, but it seems the norm now, and I wonder if in a generation or two, it will seem “beyond the pale” to not include those elements in a chassana? My point is that our religion is evolving, continuously and furiously, every day, in front of our eyes…

      • Shades of Gray says:

        “Either we accept the fact that the torah and our approach to it has changed and that we have incorporated rituals and remade them “in our own image” or we haven’t’.”

        Conceptually speaking, I would say that Orthodoxy accepts the fact that, to a degree, aspects related to religion change, but draws the line where(eg, the line at aspects and principles of halacha passed down, as summarized by Rambam in preface to Mishnayos, or any other accepted source; other basic hashkafos in the Talmud and Nach).

        Moreover, one can say that the changes involves hashgacha, or Divine guidance, as Rav Dessler( Michtav MeiEliyahu IV pgs. 354-355) mentions as a possibility regarding the Radak, referred to earlier(see comment to RDK’s post on Kri Uksiv, first link, below).

        Even basic sociological attitudes towards aspects of education on matters of sexuality, may change from generation to generation; or put differently, the circumstances change, involving new educational responses(yes, it’s hard to get away from the topic : ) ) . For example, see the beginning of the following letter by R. AJ Twerski regarding Sarah Diament’s book(see second link).

        http://rabbidmk.posterous.com/parashas-eikev-5770#comment

        http://www.torahparenting.com/RavTwerski.pdf

      • Orielle says:

        A song here, a shabbos oven there, yes, Orthodox Judaism changes (because I believe this is what you speak to specifically). But–I don’t mean this an attack, I really just don’t comprehend– how can an Orthodox rabbi feel OK with welcoming gay couples to his shabbos table but reject performing the wedding? How can you believe that the change in a community is a welcomed one and not work towards it? or take a risk for it?
        I can’t help but think that a rabbi that welcomes a couple for dinner but won’t do the wedding is falling for a scare tactic and that he is muddling himself with a narrow view of technicalities when there is a clear incompatibility here. And my assumption is that you’re aware of this, too; it’s the struggle of practice with questions of belief. But the above comment on “change” really takes a shallow view of the matter.

      • Lisa says:

        Orielle wrote:
        how can an Orthodox rabbi feel OK with welcoming gay couples to his shabbos table but reject performing the wedding?

        I don’t think that’s a legitimate question. Marriage in Judaism is defined as a union between a man and a woman. Kiddushin and nesuin are only relevant to a man and a woman. Kiddushin for a same-sex couple is like niddah for men. It just isn’t applicable. There’s no discrimination in that.

        Now. If you ask about things like civil marriage, that’s something else entirely. Even commitment ceremonies are different. They wouldn’t have any halakhic implications of change of status, but celebrating happy occasions isn’t a bad thing. A Bar Mitzvah party (or Bat Mitzvah party) doesn’t create any halakhic reality, but they’re still nice events.

        Why do you think that being nice to someone requires abandoning what Judaism says?

      • Rabban Gamliel says:

        Orthoprax rabbi said:”For example, I have been a number of wedding recently and I have been struck that it seems rote at this point for there to be a few songs, one after the chosson walks down the aisle, one after the kallah walks down, maybe even another one, and certainly a form of im ish Kochech.”

        It sounds like you haven’t been performing weddings if you seem surprised by a practice that you would have otherwise it seems encountered in weddings you would have performed. If you have performed weddings and did not encounter the practice, you would have to explain how what you have seen all this time was not a part of your estimate of practices at weddings.

        “That certainly wasn’t the case when I got married, but it seems the norm now,”

        When were you married? Well you don’t seem to be Candyman if you are married.

      • Rabban Gamliel says:

        Orthoprax rabbi said:”For example, I have been a number of wedding recently and I have been struck that it seems rote at this point for there to be a few songs, one after the chosson walks down the aisle, one after the kallah walks down, maybe even another one, and certainly a form of im ish Kochech.”

        It sounds like you haven’t been performing weddings if you seem surprised by a practice that you would have otherwise it seems encountered in weddings you would have performed. If you have performed weddings and did not encounter the practice, you would have to explain how what you have seen all this time was not a part of your estimate of practices at weddings.

        “That certainly wasn’t the case when I got married, but it seems the norm now,”

        When were you married? Well you don’t seem to be Candyman if you are married.

      • Lisa says:

        “im ish Kochech”? Seriously? You’re a rabbi, and you don’t know that it’s “im eshkochech”? Not “Your strength is with a man”, but “If I forget thee.”

      • Lisa says:

        Who is Candyman?

      • Rabban Gamliel says:

        Lisa said:”Who is Candyman?”

        He was on Lubabnomore added as a fellow poster. The only one I can think of to be “Orthoprax Rabbi” is him.

  11. Shades of Gray says:

    By the way, my comment above about “change” is no “chiddush”, novel concept at all. The only key to acceptability of change is A) to what degree, and B) how the changes are made, ie, by Divine guidance as Rav Dessler mentions, and/or coming from accepted Torah leaders of the generation.

    Another example of some degree of major change in Jewish thought and hashkafic belief from generation to generation, would be the turn away from the rational Rishonim, to the more mystical approach, considered by many to be a turn back to the original, accurate approach. As Rav Aharon Feldman writes:

    “One of the most powerful reasons why R. Avraham’s opinion was rejected by most opinions, is the introduction of the wisdom of Kabbalah of the Ari Zal in the sixteenth century. This cast the Sages in another dimension. Before then, many authorities had held that the esoteric wisdom described in the Talmud as Ma’aseh Breyshis and Ma’aseh Hamerkava was science and philosophy. After the introduction of Kabbalah it became clear that these were the Sefer HaYetzira, the Zohar and the Tikkunim. This was accepted by the overwhelming majority of Torah scholars since then. Kabbala made it clear that when the Sages spoke, they based themselves on their knowledge of the mysteries of creation. This would give them an accurate knowledge of matters of natural science as well.”

    • Curious says:

      I believe Rabbi Feldman is being a bit naive here when he says that knowledge of the mysteries of creation gave the Chachamim accurate knowledge of matters of natural sciences as well. This could very well have give them insight, but R’ S.R. Hirsch clearly states in a teshuvah to one R’ Pinchas Wechsler (published in Light Magazine, 1978, numbers 191-195) that our Chachomim accepted the science of the day. The entire letter, characteristic of the gaon’s work, is fascinating, bold, and logical. I urge you to read this one in particular as it gives order and clarity to the study of Aggadah and our approach to the science stated in the Gemara.

  12. happywithhislot says:

    Dov

    I cannot beliueve that bilaams donkey talked and I cannot believe an 18 inch pharoh had an 18 inch shmeckel.

    Can u? or don’t u want to?

    • Lisa says:

      Bilaam’s donkey is in Chumash. And it may have been a vision. But the other thing is midrash, and perhaps you know what R’ Avraham ben haRambam said about people who take every midrash literally.

      • happywithhislot says:

        Lisa
        Thats one point of view. Im curious where Dov Kramer falls out.
        For example, 90% of lakewood believe bilaams donkey actually talked. My 9th grade rebbi believed pharoh was literally 18 inches tall.

        their philosphy is where do you draw the line? did manna fall from heaven? did moshe split the yam suf?
        Your philosphy is im too intelligent and rational for that. You think yam suf is more rational than a talking donkey.
        seems reasonable. Im sure you will have all sorts of reasons.

        I bet all the mass genocidal wars moshe commanded makes rational sense as well.

        the list never ends.

    • Dov Kramer says:

      Happy-

      There are Rishonim who understand the “talking donkey” story (including Bilam not being with any messangers and then somehow catching up with them, and other plot anomolies) to be a dream/vision he had before starting on the journey. There are others that understand it to have really taken place, and explain the donkey being ridden by a “malach” (similar to Satan riding the snake in the Garden of Eden, or the angels that took over the bodies of humans before visiting Avraham).

      Since you asked what “I” believe- I don’t have a problem with either approach, but prefer the latter for two main reasons. (1) Chazal discuss the “mouth of the donkey” as being one of the “magical” things created right before the first Shabbos started, which would be meaningless if the whole thing only happened in Bilam’s head (I don’t think this type of Chazal fits into the category I will discuss below), and (2) I am uncomfortable with things described in the Torah being a dream sequence or only allegorical without there being a hint or warning about it (and there are times where we are told that things are dreams).

      Much has been written about how we should treat aggadic midrashim, and Rambam (and his son) write very clearly that if a midrash defies rationality, not only are you not required to trust the midrash as telling the literal truth, but you would be foolish to do so.

      It is sometimes quite difficult to distinguish between midrashim that should be seen as trying to convey a deeper message and not to be taken literally and those that are conveying what Chazal (or at least that member of Chazal) really believed happened. The very nature of a G-d that can do anything and gets involved to help the righteous makes it hard to dismiss almost anything from being possible.

      Regarding my personal belief about the physical nature of that Paro, obviously I never met him, so can’t know for sure, but if I had to guess I would say that he had a physical abnormality (perhaps he was short, especially for royalty), which may have been exaggerated to make a point. IIRC, there are (historical) indications of a son of a Pharaoh that would have been in line to take the throne, but was bypassed or they attempteed to bypass (with the throne going to a younger sibling from a secondary wife) because of his physical shortcomings.

      Except for trying to figure out what message Chazal were trying to send, I’m not sure how important it is to figure out.

      (I hope I answered your question.)

      • happywithhislot says:

        lisa

        your welcome to discuss your beliefs with Dov.

        Im not surprised by Dovs beliefs.

  13. Yitz says:

    ““im ish Kochech”? Seriously? You’re a rabbi, and you don’t know that it’s “im eshkochech”? Not “Your strength is with a man”, but “If I forget thee.””

    Seriously? You’re a fundamentalist and don’t know that it’s assur for women to have sex (cf hilchos isurei biyah 21;8)? You can’t have your cake and eat her too.

  14. Abe says:

    ““im ish Kochech”? Seriously? You’re a rabbi, and you don’t know that it’s “im eshkochech”? Not “Your strength is with a man”, but “If I forget thee.””

    Seriously? You’re a fundamentalist and don’t know that it’s assur for women to have sex (cf hilchos isurei biyah 21;8)?

    • Lisa says:

      Seriously? You know English and don’t know the meaning of the word “fundamentalist”?

      Seriously, you know enough to cite the Rambam and don’t know that he doesn’t say what you claim he says?

      • Abe says:

        You absolutely are a fundamentalist, except in the area of lesbianism where you all of a sudden become liberal. Hypocritical fundamentalist would be more appropriate.

      • Lisa says:

        Oh, bite me. Why don’t you go look up the word. Here: Fundamentalism. Let me know if you have trouble reading a dictionary entry. I’m happy to help.

  15. Ephraim says:

    “My point is that our religion is evolving, continuously and furiously, every day, in front of our eyes…”

    All agree that Man has not evolved much in the past two hundred years. But his clothing has changed continuously and furiously….

    What kind a rabbi can say such a thing? How much of the Shulchah Aruch has been overruled? How much of the Tur? How much of the Rambam (esp. for S’fardim)? How much of the Rif?
    I think you’re seeing change because you want to see it. It fits your agenda. You claim a “sea change” in attitudes towards gays, but if you look at the (scant) literature from the past forty years, you’ll see little has changed.

  16. Philo says:

    Lisa, you should stop defending Orthodox community, because the vast majority of them would not defend you. And that is a fact. The Orthodox Union released a statement just now saying they were disappointed that your fellow gays and lesbians were finally given their constitutional right to marriage (Loving vs. Virginia. Marriage is a constitutional right) in California.

    It matters not what the halacha actually is. But it matters what the Orthodox community thinks it is. You, the Orthoprax Rabbi, and I are all in the same boat in terms of being accepted by the Orthodox community. The Orthoprax Rabbi and I for being atheists, and you for being a lesbian. Either we would be rejected from the community, or they would want us to stay so they can attempt “to save us”. Sure there are exceptions, maybe the place you go to is, I doubt it, but I will not say anything for certain.

    No one is saying you should not follow halacha how you see fit. However, don’t be an apologist to a community that probably hates you.

    • Lisa says:

      Philo, are you really unable to separate defending the religion and defending the community? Do you really think I’ve been defending the community? If so, you need to either learn how to read more accurately, or just try reading without that chip on your shoulder.

      When I was in high school, we got a new principle senior year, who immediately started pushing a more religious agenda on the school (this was a co-ed Orthodox Jewish day school). My cousin, who was Conservative, but kept kosher and was leaning towards Orthodoxy, hated this new principle so much that he deliberately ate trayf. He said, “How can Judaism be true with someone like that as a rabbi?” And while his feelings were genuine, he was being infantile. What does one thing have to do with the other?

      • Lisa says:

        Maybe it’s because I’m not such a social person. But if someone doesn’t like me, I don’t have a problem saying “screw ‘em”. I’m not dumb enough to consider everyone who doesn’t like me a representative of Judaism.

      • Philo says:

        Sorry if I interpreted you wrong. But stop the insults.

      • Curious says:

        You seem so intellectually honest, I feel compelled to ask why you attempt to justify your position as a lesbian and female Rabbi within the framework of Halacha and Mesorah.
        I’m not judging the choices you make, but it takes a whole lot of hair-splitting to have the Halachah agree with you.

      • Lisa says:

        Curious, who says I like what the halakha says about this subject? I don’t. Just because not everything is assur doesn’t mean that nothing is assur. And the fact remains, and will always remain, that Judaism is built around opposite sex unions. People like me are always going to be in the minority. We’re always going to be “not as good as” in some ways. It sucks. And believe me, there are plenty of people to the left of me who are all like, “How can you accept all that?” But I’m used to the left telling me I’m too right and the right telling me I’m too left. I can’t live my life according to their judgements.

        Now… “female Rabbi”? What? I’m nothing of the sort. There’s no such thing as an Orthodox female rabbi. Where’d you get the idea that I consider myself to be one?

      • offthedwannab says:

        Hey it’s “Curious”. I created a username for this blog.
        Lisa-
        I’m sorry. For some reason I got the impression you were a Rabbi. As to your explanation of your outlook, you seem to approach it very rationally. I got the wrong impression on that too. Won’t be the last time I do that. I think that it’s just so rare to find Frum people who aren’t exactly within the parameters of “normal” who don’t try to justify their position to everyone.
        It’s such a sick model. There is this one perfect standard that about three people in the whole world fit into, and everyone else feels they have to somehow shtup themselves in there. And they’re not wrong to do so. Because the Frum world will chew you up and spit you out if you don’t toe the line.
        I respect you Lisa.

  17. MalachHamovies says:

    Thats one point of view. Im curious where Dov Kramer falls out.
    For example, 90% of lakewood believe bilaams donkey actually talked. My 9th grade rebbi believed pharoh was literally 18 inches tall.

    I love this one. It says in the chumash that Pharoh harnessed his own chariot – this kings chariot !!! Rashi on that posuk says that he did it himself !! A king’s chariot is huge with at least 6 huge horses – not something from Toys R” US. If Pharoh was 18 inches tall how in heavens name DID HE HARNESS SUCH A HUGE CHARIOT HIMSELF !!!

    Any answers !!

    • Lisa says:

      MalachHamovies, you’re right that there’s a huge problem with ignorant Jews taking midrashim literally. I would guess that as many of them believe that Pharaoh’s daughter had superpowers and could stretch her arm out like Reed Richards in the Fantastic Four. So what? I think Bil’am’s donkey did speak, but maybe it was just a vision. I do not think Pharaoh’s daughter had a stretchy arm, and I do not think that an 18 inch Pharaoh existed.

      Using these kind of ignorant beliefs to tar all Orthodox Jews is childish.

      • happywithhislot says:

        Dov
        Do you feel these are IGNORANT beliefs?

      • Dov Kramer says:

        >>Do you feel these are IGNORANT beliefs?<<

        Why are my feelings so important to you?

        But, if you care so much, yes, I think insisting that that Paro was only 18 inches tall is based on ignorance.

  18. MalachHamovies says:

    DID HE HARNESS SUCH A HUGE CHARIOT HIMSELF !!!

    I Meant By himself !!

    So who is correct over here. Chumash And Rashi Or Chazal?

    • Dov Kramer says:

      I’m not sure why this midrash is of such importance that understanding it at face value is so important, but if it means that much to you, bli neder I will look into it.

      I don’t have any seferim with me now, but the first thing to check is whether Rashi (and/or the Chazal he is based on) mean that he did it all by himself or that he was so eager to go that he did whatever he could.

      Again, though, even if “90% of Lakewood” and most high school rabbeim take it literally, that doesn’t mean we have to. Remember, it’s the truth that’s important (and searching for it as honestly and objectively as possible). We don’t care that most of the worl believes in Yushka or Moterrorismad, why should “we” care (as far as our search for truth) if our conclusion regarding the literalness of any particular midrash is the same as theirs?

      Nevertheless, if you want me to try to reconcile it literally in order to be “melamed zechus” on the “hamon am,” I will bli neder try (although I probably won’t be able to get to it till late tonight).

      • happywithhislot says:

        Dov
        The ability to melamud zchus would be ok if this was a one off.
        But dont you find yourself forever being melamud zchus on thousands of issues, contradictions, and non sensical statements?

      • Dov Kramer says:

        Actually, I don’t feel the need to be melamed zechus at all, and have no desire to try to “reconcile” one midrash with another, unless Rashi quotes both. (Others don’t even feel the need to reconcile conflicting midrashim even when Rashi quotes both, btw.) I don’t recall Rashi saying Paro was only an amah tall, and don’t recall Rshi insisting that Paro had no help with his chariot. If Rashi says both of those things, I would look into it. Otherwise, I would only do it if you wanted me to.

        As far as how many things I have tried to reconcile (most of them successfully, I might add), taking a closer look at both of the things that seem to conflict with each other brings me to a deeper understanding of both of them. It is a very important device in adding depth to our knowledge, as it forces us to move past a surface understanding. This brings greater appreciation of our texts (and commentaries), at least for me.

        Case in point is what I wrote this week, trying to reconcile Moshe sometimes saying that G-d “gave” them the land (past tense) and other times saying the G-d is “giving” them the land (present or future tense). A skeptic would say “see- it makes no sense.” A silly skeptic would shout “DH,” even though the two tennses appear just two verses apart.

        I prefer to think about the issue, and research it. You may not like what I came up with, but you can take a look if you dare…

        http://rabbidmk.posterous.com/parashas-reay-5770

      • Rabban Gamliel says:

        happywithhislot said”Dov
        The ability to melamud zchus would be ok if this was a one off.
        But dont you find yourself forever being melamud zchus on thousands of issues, contradictions, and non sensical statements?”

        The issue is at the very least that your side has no objection to that tactic. It is just that your side demands of of your opposition a standard it doesn’t adhere to.

    • offthedwannab says:

      Malach Hamovies-
      I think your anger is misplaced. The frum world may be majorly corrupt today, but our teachers throughout the generations have explained your textual concerns. I recommend the sefer “Be’er Hagolah” by the Maharal. It has been translated into English and given an index as well, so you don’t have to sift through the sefer or learn the Maharal’s particularly difficult style of writing. He answers your question about Pharaoh specifically. It’s too detailed to get into here, but it isn’t taken literally, and it isn’t apologetic. True to form, the Maharal is bold, logical and, to me, seems to follow the original intention of the Aggadah and Midrashim.
      Another person you’d probably find interesting is R. Shamshon Raphael Hirsch. One letter in particular that comes to mind, is one written by R’ S.R. Hirsch to a R’ Pinchas Wechsler (translated into English and published in Light Magazine, 1978, numbers 191-195) about the nature of Aggadah and Talmudic science.

  19. Curious says:

    Orthoprax Rabbi: Could you provide sources for some of your more outrageous claims? I mean you quote a shaalos u’tshuvos about some random minhag, but absolutely nothing when positing a theory about Tehillim written to Ba’al.
    Doing this is not scholarly and is dishonest.
    You come across as being bitter. Even if this feeling is justifiable, the hard-won intellectual freedom you mentioned in a previous blog is thrown into question when expressing your opinions emotionally, and frankly, amateurishly.

    • see the links I provided they both do a good job of explaining the ba’al issue.

      • Lisa says:

        He’s referring to inscriptions that were found which look very similar to certain perakim in Tehillim. Conventional wisdom is that we cribbed from them. Which if true, would not make them hymns to Baal at all, any more than any adaptation of a cultural element is necessarily identical to its inspiration.

        But conventional wisdom is wrong. This is one area where I’m the one with the expertise, and the cribbing was in the other direction.

      • >This is one area where I’m the one with the expertise, and the cribbing was in the other direction.

        Lol is there anything you’re not an expert in? So far we have Jewish sexuality, philosophy of halacha, Ancient Hebrew poetry, Biblical studies, and Ancient Ugarit poetry. Not bad. Not bad at all.

        awaiting another one of your little diatribes ;)

      • Lisa says:

        Feisty, aren’t you.

        I’m not an expert in Jewish sexuality; just one small subset of it. Nor am I an expert in the philosophy of halakha, though I’m not ignorant about it, either. I do, however, have a background in Assyriology (unfinished masters at Hebrew U) and Ancient Semitic Studies. Sorry if that irks you.

      • >Sorry if that irks you.

        Why would it irk me?

        Nu so tell us how you know who copied from whom. I’d love to know!

      • Curious says:

        Thanks. I can’t find where those links are. Could you point me to them or hyperlink it?
        And Lisa does make a good point if that’s what you’re basing this on. Colloquial and artistic phraseology is frequently borrowed if an author feels it expresses the correct feeling or mood. In fact, the entire study of etiology supports this, i.e. the evolutionary process of language.
        And I don’t think this in any way diminishes David’s work. There is a clear precedent in the Chumash for using other languages to express ideas. To cite some examples: R’ Yishmael and R’ Akiva argue the derasha of “totafos”, with R’ Akiva’s opinion being that it is a combination of two words from 2 different African languages, each meaning “two” forming an idea of a doubled pair, or a single box of 4 segments. In another debate over exegeses of redundancies of the word “Karess” in Perek Arbah Misos in Sanhedrin it is R’ Yishmael who cites the famous Talmudic dictum of “The Torah speaks like the language of people” to counter R’ Akiva’s opinion and discount a drasha he makes from an extra usage of that word. We can see that even Halachos can be overridden by application of this principle (Of course it would take a man of R’ Yishmael’s stature to do this, a man who codified the 13 midos that the Torah is interpreted by.)
        Clearly, the Torah has no problem in using foreign phraseology or words.

  20. Suzanne says:

    I’m sorry to get in on the game so late. But how does someone know with such certainty that it was God who wrote the torah? I am very bothered by the tone in many of these comments, which suggest that being a non-believer is an immoral choice, not “doing the right thing”? I believe in right and wrong, and that I am using my intellect, even my soul, to make the best possible choices that I can. I feel sad that one would reject other streams of Judaism, as not truly Judaism, simply because they are not expecting one to follow every dot and tittle of what was supposedly mandated by God. Is there really a true Judaism?

    • Dov Kramer says:

      >>Is there really a true Judaism?<<

      If it is to have any real value, there must be.

      • Suzanne says:

        Why? And perhaps reform Judaism is the true Judaism (I heard this belief expressed by a reform rabbi).

      • >If it is to have any real value, there must be.
        Eilu V’Eilu?

      • Dov Kramer says:

        >>perhaps reform Judaism is the true Judaism <<

        Perhaps. We can discuss why it might or might not be, or you can try figuring it out yourself. *Which* stream is the "real" one is not relevant to whether or not there is a "real Judaism." Only that since the beliefs of each stream are mutually exclusive, if any of them is to have any real value (and truth as one of its primary values), no more than one can be "real."

      • Dov Kramer says:

        >>Eilu V’Eilu?<<

        Apples and oranges.

      • >Apples and oranges.

        Who gets to decide when we’ve crossed into apple and oranges territory?

      • Dov Kramer says:

        >>Who gets to decide when we’ve crossed into apple and oranges territory?<<

        When it comes to mutually exclusive possibilities, the "facts" can't be "eilu v'eilu." When it comes to approaches to understanding things and concepts, it can be.

        Yorah u'Madah and Torah only can be "eilu v'eilu," Public Revelation and religious myth of same cannot be.

      • >When it comes to mutually exclusive possibilities, the “facts” can’t be “eilu v’eilu.”

        There a plenty of Rabbinical machlokot about “facts” which are mutually exclusive and also opinions about halakha which are mutually exclusive.

        I would say Eilu V’Eilu doesn’t mean they’re BOTH true rather it means they’re both legitimate. (I know some Achronim understood it in the former sense but I humbly disagree)

    • Dov Kramer says:

      “There a plenty of Rabbinical machlokot about “facts” which are mutually exclusive and also opinions about halakha which are mutually exclusive.”

      Correct. The two opinions about historical facts can’t both be right, so can’t both be the “words of the true Living G-d.” The lessons learned from the perspective may be of extreme value, and be “the words of the true Living G-d,” but the opinions about the actual facts can’t both be.

      Halachah is more forward thinking, so can both be “true” approaches.

  21. Lisa says:

    “Dot and tittle”, Suzanne? See, Jews tend to quote from the Bible, but that isn’t from what we call the Bible.

    The heterodox movements are not “streams of Judaism”. They are attempts to give structure to an abandonment of Judaism, to one degree or another. Just because members are Jewish (and not even all of them) doesn’t make it Judaism.

    • Ditto this whole discussion is all well and good but how do you justify belief in TMS despite what I would consider a lack of evidence.

      • Dov Kramer says:

        >> how do you justify belief in TMS despite what I would consider a lack of evidence.<<

        You're asking Lisa how she justifies HER belief based on what YOU consider a lack of evidence?

      • Maybe she thinks there is evidence

      • Lisa says:

        Short of going back in a time machine with a video camera, I’m not sure what kind of evidence you’d want. I can give you a couple of things that just might make you question the DH.

        1. The Samaritans and the Redactor

        For a long time, DH supporters held that the so-called Redactor, who did the final Frankenstein job of stitching all those legends and stories together, either lived at the time of Ezra, or was Ezra himself. More recently, you have people like Neal Asher Silberman, who argues that the Torah was created at the time of King Josiah. But the Samaritans make it really hard to take that seriously.

        First of all, forget about the Samaritans and try and imagine Ezra going up to the stage and saying, “Hey, you guys. Guess what? Not only is this Torah from God, but we’ve always known that it was from God. Your fathers, and your father’s fathers, all the way back, have had this Torah thing.”

        And not one Orthoprax Rabbi stood up and called BS on them. The entire Jewish nation stood there like sheep and said, “Yes, Ezra… of course, Ezra… tell us more about what we’ve always known, Ezra… Baaaa.” Or maybe there were objections, but Ezra was so Nixonly good at coverups that he managed to hide any mention of any debate over it.

        I have a hard time imagining that Jews were less argumentative in Ezra’s time, and I don’t think history really supports the idea that we were. But then add to this, the fact that our biggest enemy, our nemesis, our Lex Luthor, the Samaritans, who hated us to death (and the feeling was mutual), came up and said, “Hell, yeah! We’re with Ezra! We’re going to adopt this Torah thing as well.” Honestly, that makes sense to you?

        Or if you’re a Silbermanian, and you think it got patched together in Josiah’s day, when the Samaritan tribes had been in the north for a century, century and a half, and Josiah had just campaigned into their territory and committed major damage (look it up), are you really okay with the picture of those same Samaritans saying, “Whoa, those a-holes who just invaded us have this Torah thing. We should definitely get a copy!”

        2. Jerusalem

        So find Jerusalem in the Torah. Just once. And Shalem doesn’t count, because it isn’t explicit. And I don’t think I need to say that “the place where Hashem will put His Name” doesn’t count, either.

        So if you’re a Silbermanian and you think the Torah was cobbled together out of fairy wings and duct tape when Josiah was king, you have to imagine that this king, who went around destroying bamot (cultic sites other than the Temple) and making sure everyone knew that you can only offer sacrifices to God in Jerusalem… didn’t bother inserting the name “Jerusalem” into the nifty new Torah. Not even once. What, did everyone who lived before the Enlightenment have brain damage?

        And Ezra, all about building up the Temple and Jerusalem, if he was the mysterious Redactor, he also didn’t bother mentioning Jerusalem in the entire patchwork monstrosity of the Torah?

        I don’t get how any intelligent person, given half a historical perspective, can take the DH seriously. It doesn’t work. It requires you to assume that any parallelism or apparent contradiction cannot be there by intent. And that just makes no sense at all. Even human authors use such techniques in order to convey information without stating it outright.

      • Lisa,
        Re 1.

        A. This is very important. You seem to imply that the only two possibilities are DH or divine Mosaic authorship. I believe that is a false dichotomy. I have said this many a time on this blog and others that even if you don’t like the DH , single authorship is unlikely, and if you deny THAT, Mosaic authorship is still untenable, and even if you deny THAT how does ANY of this point to God.

        So even if you “debunk” the DH you’re still a long way away from getting to God through Moshe.

        B. >>>First of all, forget about the Samaritans and try and imagine Ezra going up to the stage and saying, “Hey, you guys. Guess what? Not only is this Torah from God, but we’ve always known that it was from God. Your fathers, and your father’s fathers, all the way back, have had this Torah thing.”

        Notice the Pentateuch never says “everything in THIS book is from God.” So you’ve set up a strawman. Whoever originally compiled the Torah probably did not say that it was ad verbatim from God. That was a later development. The Torah was originally meant to be a record of the events of Sinai and the Exodus not the “word of God” (although it often quotes the word of God.)

        Defenders of TMS often set up the case as a sudden innovation out of nowhere which is not even what Bible critics say. They understand the Torah as a gradual development culminating in a final redaction. Not a sort of *pop* out of nowhere Torah.

        C. >And not one Orthoprax Rabbi stood up and called BS on them. The entire Jewish nation stood there like sheep and said, “Yes, Ezra… of course, Ezra… tell us more about what we’ve always known, Ezra… Baaaa.”

        You’re imputing our modern sense of skepticism to Ancient Times when people were much less skeptical. Also people were not as historically aware as we are nowadays so very few people would even be able to say “well history says such and such”.

        D. The compiling attributed by many to Ezra also wouldn’t have been out of nowhere. The DH says that the redactor took a bunch of texts and used them to compile the Pentateuch. Who’s to say those texts weren’t authoritative and everybody accepted the redacted version because it relied on other accepted texts.

        >>was cobbled together out of fairy wings and duct tape when Josiah was king,

        Typical strawman just saying

        Re 2. Jerusalem

        E. Conversely, as I’m sure your well aware, there are place names which are a bit out of place were the Torah written in time of Moshe. (Dan is the most famous as well as Gilgal)

        >>It requires you to assume that any parallelism or apparent contradiction cannot be there by intent.

        F. Lol how many books do you know that openly contradict themselves FREQUENTLY and employ different language in parallelisms.

        I suppose you’ll just invoke the TSBP to solve all contradictions But the truth is you can really do that with any work. (e.g. the Christians and the NT)

      • Lisa says:

        This blog and others? Do you have a blog of your own? So why do you think single authorship is unlikely? Why do you think Mosaic authorship is untenable? I assume, btw, that when you say Mosaic authorship, you don’t mean that literally, because you realize that I don’t think Moshe authored the Torah; he just transcribed it.

        And why do you rule out TSBP? That seems kind of arbitrary. And why do you think Dan or Gilgal are problematic? Both are very simple names that exist in all ancient semitic names. Danu is Akkadian for “strong”, and there are names of people and places all over the ancient near east that have both “dan” and “gal” in their names.

        What “different language in parallelisms” are you referring to? And again, the “contradiction” thing is part and parcel of the methodology that we see throughout our history.

      • Here are some posts I wrote on the issue they’re not exactly examples of scholarly erudition but I do develop my ideas a little further there (forgive my polemical style I’m less um…. civil on my blog than I am here)

        http://shiltonhasechel.blogspot.com/2010/07/dh-vstms-false-dichotomy.html

        http://shiltonhasechel.blogspot.com/2010/07/this-pretty-much-sums-up-my-main-issues.html

        http://shiltonhasechel.blogspot.com/2010/05/how-to-read-bible-no-not-book.html

        >>>I assume, btw, that when you say Mosaic authorship, you don’t mean that literally, because you realize that I don’t think Moshe authored the Torah; he just transcribed it.

        Of course but I think you can’t logically jump from DH = false straight to divine hand of God. You need to work your way up and the stage before hand of God is Moshe wrote it by himself.

        >>>And why do you rule out TSBP? That seems kind of arbitrary.

        I only rule it out because the same methodology can be applied to any contradiction in any piece of literature. If I was so inclined I could probably reconcile Rousseau and Voltaire with a bit of filling in the blanks and so forth. Then I could call it a “Philosophy B’Al Peh”

        >>>Both are very simple names that exist in all ancient semitic names. Danu is Akkadian for “strong”, and there are names of people and places all over the ancient near east that have both “dan” and “gal” in their names.

        Except that the Gilgal described in the Torah is where the Gilgal in Yehoshua is supposed to be i.e. pretty near Har Grizim and Har Eval. As for Dan my understanding (though I’d need to check) is both the Torah and Shoftim are referring to a place in Northern Israel. Could tehy be different places? I supposed, but again tzarich iyun.

        >>>And again, the “contradiction” thing is part and parcel of the methodology that we see throughout our history.

        I’m sorry what does that mean?

      • Whoaa… why is my comment awaiting moderation? It never does that!

      • Lisa says:

        You’re being moderated? Odd. I’d think he’d put me on moderation before you.

      • I think its automatic because I posted links to my blog

      • Lisa says:

        Annoying. So send it to me via Facebook.

      • OTD says:

        Lisa, I also once bought the Kuzari lie hook line and sinker. I hope you have the fortitude to manage when the rug is pulled right from under you.

        The pasuk in Navi clearly says they hadn’t celebrated Succos or Passover for hundreds of years, before the Torah was “found.” You can imagine that the tradition goes back to 1300BC or that this “unbroken chain” nonsense goes back very far, but that doesn’t make it true.

        Read up, for Pete’s sake.

      • Lisa says:

        OTD, please. It doesn’t say anything of the sort. But in terms of time, consider: Josiah didn’t start his reforms until his 18th year. Can we agree on that? His father Amon reigned for 2 years, and Amon’s father Menashe reigned for 55 years. Can we agree on that? If it seems like a long time, remember that Ashurbanipal, who lived around this time, reigned about the same length of time. So did Ramses II in Egypt. It isn’t unknown.

        So we’re talking a minimum of 75 years after Menashe came to the throne. And you find it strange that Josiah wasn’t familiar with the Torah? Have you met any Jews from the former Soviet Union? The USSR did about the same thing that Menashe did in terms of the Torah, for about 70 years. And look at the results. And that’s despite shlichim sneaking books and stuff in. And here, we’re talking about Jerusalem, the center of Menashe’s kingdom. If the Torah was maintained in the kingdom, it would have been in outlying areas, and not next door to a king who’d kill you for it.

        You don’t want it to be true. So you find excuses for it to be untrue. But they’re fog, OTD. They fall apart the moment you touch them.

      • Lisa says:

        OTD, I looked at your link, and it was pathetic.

        From the words of our Sages it is also obvious they had never heard testimony about the Sinai Revelation as a historic event from their fathers. In the Gemara (Shabbat 86b) two opinions of the Tannaim are brought: the Sages said that the Sinai Revelation happened on the 6th of Sivan, and Rabbi Yossi said on the 7th of Sivan. Then the Gemara brings three pages of discussion by Amoraim on when the Sinai Revelation really did occur. In all this lengthy discussion nobody brings arguments based on what he received through tradition (which would be quite expectable, had these Amoraim heard their fathers’ testimony about the event). The only arguments they use are Scriptural verses and Tannaic statements, which are, in turn, nothing more than creative homilies on Scriptural verses.

        Their tradition (and ours) was that the Torah was given on Shavuot, 6 weeks after we left Egypt. The dispute over the precise date was a dispute over the lengths of the months, and there’s no reason why that would necessarily have been a mesorah.

    • OTD says:

      Lisa, it’s fine to say the Jews, nebach, forgot the Torah. After all the oppression from Menashe, etc. But how does that jive with your earlier comment of , “’Hey, you guys. Guess what? Not only is this Torah from God, but we’ve always known that it was from God. Your fathers, and your father’s fathers, all the way back, have had this Torah thing.’” If they were so hopelessly ignorant of the Torah (through no fault of their own, of course), how could they be expected to tell truth from falsehood when it came to spiritual truths? And don’t you think they would be highly vulnerable to persuasion after such a long period of religious persecution?

      Your claim that Ezra claimed it went all the way back is ridiculous. You’re assuming that the same arrogance displayed bypost-Holocaustian kiruv klowns was displayed by Ezra. Why would he have had to to claim such a strong tradition of TMS (again, he’s not a kiruv pro trying to con a few gullible reform kids at the kotel into joining his cult). Maybe he could have just made mystical eyes, and said this is a very very holy spiritual book that he thinks they would like very much, and if they follow him, they get an extra carob. People were more humble back then, you know.

      >OTD, I looked at your link, and it was pathetic.

      Well, the sections you quoted aren’t my favorite parts either. Here’s the relevant stuff: “The Scripture itself admits that for long periods the Torah’s tradition was forgotten by the Jewish masses:

      “And Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the scribe: ‘I have found the Book of the Torah in the Temple of the Lord. And he gave the book to Shaphan, who read it… Then Shaphan the scribe told the king: ‘Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.’ And Shaphan read it before the king. When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his garments… And the king gave this order to the whole people: ‘Celebrate the Passover to the Lord your G-d, as it is written in this Book of the Covenant.’ For such a Passover had never been observed since the days of the judges who judged Israel, nor throughout the days of the kings of Israel and the kings of Judah.”

      (II Kings 22:8-23:22)

      “And on the second day, the heads of all the families, along with the priests and the Levites, gathered around Ezra the scribe to learn the words of the Torah. And they found written in the Torah, which the Lord had commanded through Moses, that the Israelites were to live in booths during the feast of the seventh month… So the people went out, and brought [branches], and built themselves booths, each on his roof, and in their courtyards, and in the courtyards of the house of G-d, and on the street by the Water Gate and on the street by the Gate of Ephraim. The whole congregation that had returned from exile built booths and lived in them. From the days of Joshua son of Nun until that day, the Israelites had not celebrated it this way. And their joy was very great.”

      (Nechemiah 8:13-17) ”

      I think the verses speak for themselves. All that emotionally-charged hot air by the Kuzari about a non-broken chain of transmission is contradicted by various sources within the Bible itself. Not only did they forget the Torah during Menashe’s reign, they “forgot” Succos and Pesach since the time of Joshua. I don’t know about you, but that blew my mind. Pesach and Succos are clearly mentioned in Exodus. If the Navi is dumb enough to admit they were clueless about those for hundreds of years, when they were supposedly as holy as could be, how on earth can I be expected to believe in a reliable tradition of TMS? Maybe this doesn’t bother you, but it pretty much shattered my faith in TMS.

      >You don’t want it to be true. So you find excuses for it to be untrue.

      Oooh snap!

      You have no business assuming my intentions. I don’t go around accusing those who joined Orthodoxy later in life to have joined because their lives were so pathetic and they accepted suppositions out of emotional weakness and bias. Kindly extend me the same courtesy.

      • Lisa says:

        OTD, that’s a lot of things to correct.

        1) The word is jibe. Jive means something else entirely.

        2) Just because the details of the Torah were forgotten in Jerusalem, and in particular by the royal house, doesn’t mean it was forgotten period. Josiah grew up in the palace, presumably, and who exactly do you think taught him Torah, hmm? His father Amon? His grandfather Menashe?

        3) I always get a kick out of people who think human nature has changed so much over the years. People are people. Stubborn, suspicious, willful… these aren’t new things. My daughter is always amazed to hear that I did things as a kid that she’s doing now. She always figured things were so different then. And dude, read the book of Ezra and see what he actually said. Why make something up?

        4) For such a Passover had never been observed since the days of the judges who judged Israel, nor throughout the days of the kings of Israel and the kings of Judah. Well, sure. I know some people like to downplay it, but the law that you can’t offer sacrifices except in Jerusalem was violated all the time throughout most of biblical history in Israel. That’s what the “high places” were. Bamot were altars outside of Jerusalem. Or in Jerusalem but not on the Temple Mount. Even good kings, like Jehoshaphat and Hezekiah, weren’t able to (or didn’t care to) stop this practice. There was just too much public pressure against it. This was the first Passover where the korban pesach was brought only in Jerusalem, the way it was supposed to be. It doesn’t say “Passover had never been observed.” It says “Such a Passover had never been observed.”

        5) Honestly, OTD, do you think you’re the first person in over 2000 years to notice that verse? You’re such an adolescent. I’ll tell you a secret. On Sukkot? I eat in the Sukkah, but I definitely don’t spend all my time in it, and I certainly don’t sleep in it. Then again, I live in Chicago, and that would be a little crazy most years. Though maybe with global warming, it might get easier. The sad truth is that I didn’t sleep in the Sukkah when I lived in Israel, either. And neither do most people, even though we’re supposed to. But guess what? Everyone in Jerusalem spent their days and nights living in Sukkot that year.

        6) So you want me to believe that you were a good little frummie until you came across those two passages, and then BOOM, your mind was blown and you went OTD? How old were you when your mind got blown? If you were an adult and two passages that are very clear in historical context were enough to throw you OTD, then if it hadn’t been for those passages, it would have been something else.

      • Rabban Gamliel says:

        “Well, the sections you quoted aren’t my favorite parts either. Here’s the relevant stuff: “The Scripture itself admits that for long periods the Torah’s tradition was forgotten by the Jewish masses:
        “And Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the scribe: ‘I have found the Book of the Torah in the Temple of the Lord. And he gave the book to Shaphan, who read it… Then Shaphan the scribe told the king: ‘Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.’ And Shaphan read it before the king. When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his garments… And the king gave this order to the whole people: ‘Celebrate the Passover to the Lord your G-d, as it is written in this Book of the Covenant.’ For such a Passover had never been observed since the days of the judges who judged Israel, nor throughout the days of the kings of Israel and the kings of Judah.”

        (II Kings 22:8-23:22)

        “And on the second day, the heads of all the families, along with the priests and the Levites, gathered around Ezra the scribe to learn the words of the Torah. And they found written in the Torah, which the Lord had commanded through Moses, that the Israelites were to live in booths during the feast of the seventh month… So the people went out, and brought [branches], and built themselves booths, each on his roof, and in their courtyards, and in the courtyards of the house of G-d, and on the street by the Water Gate and on the street by the Gate of Ephraim. The whole congregation that had returned from exile built booths and lived in them. From the days of Joshua son of Nun until that day, the Israelites had not celebrated it this way. And their joy was very great.”

        (Nechemiah 8:13-17)”

        What you forget is that the priests were observing Judaism by definition if they were priests. The people therefore were having Judaism practiced and fully by some always. By definition Judaism was obviously preserved by some to have continued to exist. Further Passover and SUkkos were observed earlier than you indicate too. Here are passages showing observance earler for Pesach and also passages showing observance earler for Sukkos than you mention. If all the details were being created later what were they observing earlier?
        Sukkos

        Kings I Chapter 8
        1. Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel, and all the heads of the tribes, the chief of the fathers of the people of Israel, before king Solomon in Jerusalem, that they might bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord from the city of David, which is Zion.
        2. And all the men of Israel assembled themselves to king Solomon at the feast in the month Ethanim, which is the seventh month.
        3. And all the elders of Israel came, and the priests took up the ark.
        4. And they brought up the ark of the Lord, and the tabernacle of the congregation, and all the holy utensils that were in the tabernacle, those did the priests and the Levites bring up.
        5. And king Solomon, and all the congregation of Israel, who were assembled before him, were with him before the ark, sacrificing sheep and oxen, that could not be told nor numbered for multitude.
        6. And the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the Lord to his place, to the sanctuary of the house, to the most holy place, under the wings of the kerubim.
        7. For the kerubim spread out their two wings over the place of the ark, and the kerubim covered the ark and its poles above.
        8. And they drew out the poles, so that the ends of the poles were seen out in the holy place before the sanctuary, and they were not seen outside; and there they are to this day.
        9. There was nothing in the ark save the two tablets of stone, which Moses put there at Horeb, when the Lord made a covenant with the people of Israel, when they came out of the land of Egypt.
        10. And it came to pass, when the priests came out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the Lord,
        11. And that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of the Lord.
        12. Then spoke Solomon, The Lord said that he would dwell in the thick darkness.
        13. I have surely built you a house to dwell in, a settled place for you to abide in forever.
        14. And the king turned his face around, and blessed all the congregation of Israel; and all the congregation of Israel stood;
        15. And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, who spoke with his mouth to David my father, and has with his hand fulfilled it, saying,
        16. Since the day when I brought forth my people Israel out of Egypt, I chose no city from all the tribes of Israel to build a house, that my name might be in there; but I chose David to be over my people Israel.
        17. And it was in the heart of David my father to build a house for the name of the Lord God of Israel.
        18. And the Lord said to David my father, Because it was in your heart to build a house to my name, you did well that it was in your heart.
        19. Nevertheless you shall not build the house; but your son who shall come forth from your loins, he shall build the house to my name.
        20. And the Lord has performed his word that he spoke, and I have risen in place of David my father, and I sit on the throne of Israel, as the Lord promised, and I have built a house for the name of the Lord God of Israel.
        21. And I have set there a place for the ark, where the covenant of the Lord is, which he made with our fathers, when he brought them out of the land of Egypt.
        22. And Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in the presence of all the congregation of Israel, and spread out his hands toward heaven;
        23. And he said, Lord God of Israel, there is no God like you, in heaven above, or on earth beneath, who keeps covenant and mercy with your servants who walk before you with all their heart;
        24. Who have kept with your servant David my father what you promised him; you spoke also with your mouth, and have fulfilled it with your hand, as it is this day.
        25. Therefore now, Lord God of Israel, keep with your servant David my father what you promised him, saying, There shall not fail you a man in my sight to sit on the throne of Israel; so that your children take heed to their way, that they walk before me as you have walked before me.
        26. And now, O God of Israel, let your word, I pray you, be confirmed, which you spoke to your servant David my father.
        27. But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built?
        28. Yet have regard for the prayer of your servant, and for his supplication, O Lord my God, to listen to the cry and to the prayer, which your servant prays before you today;
        29. That your eyes may be open toward this house night and day, toward the place of which you have said, My name shall be there; that you may listen to the prayer which your servant shall make toward this place.
        30. And listen to the supplication of your servant, and of your people Israel, when they shall pray toward this place; and hear you in heaven your dwelling place; and when you hear, forgive.
        31. If any man trespasses against his neighbor, and an oath is laid upon him to cause him to swear, and the oath comes before your altar in this house;
        32. Then hear you in heaven, and do, and judge your servants, condemning the wicked, to bring his way upon his head; and justifying the righteous, to give him according to his righteousness.
        33. When your people Israel are stuck down before the enemy, because they have sinned against you, and shall turn again to you, and confess your name, and pray, and make supplication to you in this house;
        34. Then hear you in heaven, and forgive the sin of your people Israel, and bring them again to the land which you gave to their fathers.
        35. When heaven is closed, and there is no rain, because they have sinned against you; if they pray toward this place, and acknowledge your name, and turn from their sin, when you afflict them;
        36. Then hear you in heaven, and forgive the sin of your servants, and of your people Israel, and teach them the good way where they should walk, and give rain upon your land, which you have given to your people for an inheritance.
        37. If there is in the land famine, if there is pestilence, blasting, mildew, locust, or if there is caterpillar; if their enemy besiege them in the land of their cities; whatever plague, whatever sickness there might be;
        38. Whatever prayer and supplication is made by any man, or by all your people Israel, who shall know every man the plague of his own heart, and spread out his hands toward this house;
        39. Then hear you in heaven your dwelling place, and forgive, and do, and give to every man according to his ways, whose heart you know; for you, you only, know the hearts of all the children of men;
        40. That they may fear you all the days that they live in the land which you gave to our fathers.
        41. And also concerning a stranger, who is not of your people Israel, but comes from a far country for your name’s sake;
        42. For they shall hear of your great name, and of your strong hand, and of your stretched out arm; when he shall come and pray toward this house;
        43. Hear you in heaven your dwelling place, and do according to all that the stranger calls to you for; that all people of the earth may know your name, to fear you, as do your people Israel; and that they may know that this house, which I have built, is called by your name.
        44. If your people go out to battle against their enemy, wherever you shall send them, and shall pray to the Lord toward the city which you have chosen, and toward the house that I have built for your name;
        45. Then hear you in heaven their prayer and their supplication, and maintain their cause.
        46. If they sin against you, for there is no man who does not sin, and you are angry with them, and deliver them to the enemy, so that they carry them away captive to the land of the enemy, far or near;
        47. Yet if they take thought in the land where they were carried captive, and repent, and make supplication to you in the land of them that carried them captive, saying, We have sinned, and have done perversely, we have committed wickedness;
        48. And so return to you with all their heart, and with all their soul, in the land of their enemies, who led them away captive, and pray to you toward their land, which you gave to their fathers, the city which you have chosen, and the house which I have built for your name;
        49. Then hear you their prayer and their supplication in heaven your dwelling place, and maintain their cause,
        50. And forgive your people who have sinned against you, and all their transgressions where they have transgressed against you, and give them compassion before those who carried them captive, that they may have compassion on them;
        51. For they are your people, and your inheritance, whom you brought forth out of Egypt, from the midst of the furnace of iron;
        52. That your eyes may be open to the supplication of your servant, and to the supplication of your people Israel, to listen to them in all that they call for to you.
        53. For you did set them apart from among all the people of the earth, to be your inheritance, as you spoke by the hand of Moses your servant, when you brought our fathers out of Egypt, O Lord God.
        54. And it was so, that when Solomon had finished praying all this prayer and supplication to the Lord, he arose from before the altar of the Lord, from kneeling on his knees with his hands spread up to heaven.
        55. And he stood, and blessed all the congregation of Israel with a loud voice, saying,
        56. Blessed be the Lord, who has given rest to his people Israel, according to all that he promised; there has not failed one word of all his good promise, which he promised by the hand of Moses his servant.
        57. The Lord our God be with us, as he was with our fathers; let him not leave us, nor forsake us;
        58. That he may incline our hearts to him, to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, and his statutes, and his judgments, which he commanded our fathers.
        59. And let these my words, with which I have made supplication before the Lord, be near to the Lord our God day and night, that he maintain the cause of his servant, and the cause of his people Israel at all times, as each day may require;
        60. That all the people of the earth may know that the Lord is God, and that there is no one else.
        61. Let your heart therefore be perfect with the Lord our God, to walk in his statutes, and to keep his commandments, as at this day.
        62. And the king, and all Israel with him, offered sacrifice before the Lord.
        63. And Solomon offered a sacrifice of peace offerings, which he offered to the Lord, twenty two thousand oxen, and a hundred and twenty thousand sheep. And the king and all the people of Israel dedicated the house of the Lord.
        64. The same day did the king hallow the middle of the court that was before the house of the Lord for there he offered burnt offerings, and meal offerings, and the fat of the peace offerings; because the bronze altar that was before the Lord was too small to receive the burnt offerings, and meal offerings, and the fat of the peace offerings.
        65. And at that time Solomon held a feast, and all Israel with him, a great congregation, from the entrance to Hamath to the brook of Egypt, before the Lord our God, seven days and seven days, fourteen days.
        66. On the eighth day he sent the people away; and they blessed the king, and went to their tents joyful and glad of heart for all the goodness that the Lord had done for David his servant, and for Israel his people.

        Chronicles II Chapter 5
        1. Thus all the work that Solomon made for the house of the Lord was finished; and Solomon brought in all the things that David his father had consecrated; and the silver, and the gold, and all the instruments, put he among the treasures of the house of God.
        2. Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel, and all the heads of the tribes, the heads of the fathers’ houses of the people of Israel, to Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord from the city of David, which is Zion.
        3. And all the people of Israel assembled themselves before the king at the feast which is in the seventh month.
        4. And all the elders of Israel came; and the Levites took up the ark.
        5. And they brought up the ark, and the Tent of Meeting, and all the holy utensils that were in the tabernacle, these did the priests and the Levites bring up.
        6. Also king Solomon, and all the congregation of Israel who were assembled to him before the ark, sacrificed sheep and oxen, which could not be told nor numbered for multitude.
        7. And the priests brought the ark of the covenant of the Lord to his place, to the inner sanctuary of the house, into the most holy place, under the wings of the kerubim;
        8. For the kerubim spread out their wings over the place of the ark, and the kerubim covered the ark and its poles above.
        9. And they drew out the poles of the ark, so that the ends of the poles were seen from the ark before the inner sanctuary; but they were not seen outside. And there it is till this day.
        10. There was nothing in the ark save the two tablets which Moses put in at Horeb, when the Lord made a covenant with the people of Israel, when they came from Egypt.
        11. And it came to pass, when the priests came out of the holy place; for all the priests who were present were sanctified, and did not then keep to their duty watches;
        12. Also the Levites who were the singers, all of them of Asaph, of Heman, of Jeduthun, with their sons and their brothers, clothed in white linen, having cymbals and lyres and harps, stood at the east end of the altar, and with them a hundred and twenty priests sounding with trumpets;
        13. It came to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, sounding a note in unison, in praise and thanksgiving to the Lord, lifting their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, praising the Lord, saying, For he is good, for his loving kindness endures forever, that then the house, the house of the Lord, was filled with a cloud;
        14. And the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of God.

        Chronicles II Chapter 6
        1. Then said Solomon, The Lord has said that he would dwell in the thick darkness.
        2. And I have built a house of habitation for you, and a place for your dwelling forever.
        3. And the king turned his face, and blessed the whole congregation of Israel; and all the congregation of Israel stood.
        4. And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, who has with his hands fulfilled that which he spoke with his mouth to my father David, saying,
        5. Since the day that I brought forth my people from the land of Egypt I chose no city among all the tribes of Israel to build a house in, that my name might be there; nor did I choose any man to be a ruler over my people Israel;
        6. And I have chosen Jerusalem, that my name might be there; and have chosen David to be over my people Israel.
        7. And it was in the heart of David my father to build a house for the name of the Lord God of Israel.
        8. And the Lord said to David my father, Whereas it was in your heart to build a house for my name, you did well in that it was in your heart;
        9. Nevertheless you shall not build the house; but your son who shall come forth from your loins, he shall build the house for my name.
        10. The Lord therefore has performed his word that he has spoken; for I am risen up in the place of David my father, and am set on the throne of Israel, as the Lord promised, and have built the house for the name of the Lord God of Israel.
        11. And in it have I put the ark, where inside is the covenant of the Lord, that he made with the people of Israel.
        12. And he stood before the altar of the Lord in the presence of all the congregation of Israel, and stretched out his hands;
        13. For Solomon had made a bronze scaffold, of five cubits long, and five cubits broad, and three cubits high, and had set it in the midst of the court; and upon it he stood, and kneeled down upon his knees before all the congregation of Israel, and stretched out his hands toward heaven,
        14. And said, O Lord God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven or in earth; who keeps the covenant, and shows loving kindness to your servants, who walk before you with all their hearts;
        15. You who have kept with your servant David my father that which you had promised him; and have spoken with your mouth, and have fulfilled it with your hand, as it is this day.
        16. Now therefore, O Lord God of Israel, keep with your servant David my father that which you have promised him, saying, There shall not fail you a man in my sight to sit upon the throne of Israel, if only your children would take heed to their way, to walk in my Torah, as you have walked before me.
        17. Now then, O Lord God of Israel, let your word be confirmed, which you have spoken to your servant David.
        18. Will God indeed dwell with men on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain you; how much less this house which I have built!
        19. Have regard therefore to the prayer of your servant, and to his supplication, O Lord my God, to listen to the cry and the prayer which your servant prays before you;
        20. That your eyes may be open upon this house day and night, upon the place about which you have said that you would put your name there; to listen to the prayer which your servant prays toward this place.
        21. Listen to the supplications of your servant, and of your people Israel, which they shall make toward this place; hear from your dwelling place, from heaven; and when you hear, forgive.
        22. If a man sins against his neighbor, and an oath is laid upon him to make him swear, and the oath comes before your altar in this house;
        23. Then hear you from heaven, and do, and judge your servants, by requiting the wicked, by rewarding his way upon his own head; and by justifying the righteous, by giving him according to his righteousness.
        24. And if your people Israel are defeated by the enemy, because they have sinned against you; and shall return and confess your name, and pray and make supplication before you in this house;
        25. Then hear you from the heavens, and forgive the sin of your people Israel, and bring them back to the land which you gave to them and to their fathers.
        26. When the heaven is shut up, and there is no rain, because they have sinned against you; yet if they would pray toward this place, and confess your name, and turn from their sin, when you afflict them;
        27. Then hear you in heaven, and forgive the sin of your servants, your people Israel, when you have taught them the good way, in which they should walk; and send rain upon your land, which you have given to your people as an inheritance.
        28. If there should be famine in the land, if there should be pestilence, if there should be blight, or mildew, locusts, or caterpillars; if if their enemies should besiege them in the cities of their land; whatever plague, whatever sickness should be;
        29. Then whatever prayer, whatever supplication, shall be made by any man, or by all your people Israel, when every one shall know his own affliction and his own grief, and shall stretch out his hands in this house;
        30. Then hear from heaven your dwelling place, and forgive, and render to every man according to all his ways, whose heart you know; for only you know the hearts of the sons of men;
        31. That they may fear you, to walk in your ways, that they should live in the land which you gave to our fathers.
        32. And also, concerning the foreigner, who is not of your people Israel, but has come from a far country for your great name’s sake, and your mighty hand, and your stretched out arm; if they come and pray in this house;
        33. Then hear you from the heavens, from your dwelling place, and do according to all that the foreigner calls to you for; that all the peoples of the earth may know your name, and fear you, as does your people Israel, and may know that this house which I have built is called by your name.
        34. If your people go out to war against their enemies by the way that you shall send them, and they pray to you toward this city which you have chosen, and the house which I have built for your name;
        35. Then hear you from the heavens their prayer and their supplication, and maintain their cause.
        36. If they sin against you, for there is no man who does not sin, and you are angry with them, and deliver them over before their enemies, and they carry them away captives to a land far or near;
        37. Yet if they take thought in the land where they are carried captive, and turn and pray to you in the land of their captivity; saying, We have sinned, we have done amiss, and have dealt wickedly;
        38. If they return to you with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their captivity, where they have carried them captives, and pray toward their land, which you gave to their fathers, and toward the city which you have chosen, and toward the house which I have built for your name;
        39. Then hear you from the heavens, from your dwelling place, their prayer and their supplications, and maintain their cause, and forgive your people who have sinned against you.
        40. Now, my God, let, I beseech you, your eyes be open, and let your ears be attentive to the prayer that is made in this place.
        41. Now therefore arise, O Lord God, into your resting place, you, and the ark of your strength; let your priests, O Lord God, be clothed with salvation, and let your pious ones rejoice in goodness.
        42. O Lord God, turn not away the face of your anointed; remember the mercies of David your servant.

        Chronicles II Chapter 7
        1. Now when Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the Lord filled the house.
        2. And the priests could not enter into the house of the Lord, because the glory of the Lord had filled the Lord’s house.
        3. And when all the people of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the Lord upon the house, they bowed with their faces to the ground upon the pavement, and worshipped, and praised the Lord, saying, For he is good; for his loving kindness endures forever.
        4. Then the king and all the people offered sacrifices before the Lord.
        5. And king Solomon offered a sacrifice of twenty two thousand oxen, and a hundred and twenty thousand sheep; and the king and all the people consecrated the house of God.
        6. And the priests stood at their posts; the Levites also with instruments of music of the Lord, which David the king had made to praise the Lord, because his loving kindness endures forever, with the praises of David in their hands; and the priests sounded trumpets before them, and all Israel stood.
        7. And Solomon consecrated the middle of the court that was before the house of the Lord; for there he offered burnt offerings, and the fat of the peace offerings, because the bronze altar which Solomon had made could not hold the burnt offerings, and the meal offerings, and the fat.
        8. Also at the same time Solomon kept the feast seven days, and all Israel with him, a very great congregation, from the entrance to Hamath as far as the river of Egypt.
        9. And in the eighth day they made a solemn assembly; for they kept the dedication of the altar seven days, and the feast seven days.
        10. And on the twenty third day of the seventh month he sent the people away to their tents, glad and merry in heart for the goodness that the Lord had shown to David, and to Solomon, and to Israel his people…

        Passover

        Chronicles II Chapter 30
        1. And Hezekiah sent to all Israel and Judah, and wrote letters also to Ephraim and Manasseh, that they should come to the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, to keep the Passover to the Lord God of Israel.
        2. For the king had taken counsel, and his princes, and all the congregation in Jerusalem, to keep the Passover in the second month.
        3. For they could not keep it in its time, because the priests had not sanctified themselves sufficiently, nor had the people gathered themselves together to Jerusalem.
        4. And the thing pleased the king and all the congregation.
        5. And they established a decree to proclaim throughout all Israel, from Beersheba to Dan, that they should come to keep the Passover to the Lord God of Israel at Jerusalem; for they had not done it for a long time as it was prescribed.
        6. And the couriers went with the letters from the king and his princes throughout all Israel and Judah, and according to the commandment of the king, saying, People of Israel, turn back to the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, and he will return to the remnant of you, who have escaped from the hand of the kings of Assyria.
        7. And do not be like your fathers, and like your brothers, who trespassed against the Lord God of their fathers, who therefore made them a desolation, as you see.
        8. Do not be stiff-necked, as your fathers were, but yield yourselves to the Lord, and enter into his sanctuary, which he has sanctified forever; and serve the Lord your God, so that his fierce wrath may turn away from you.
        9. For if you return to the Lord, your brothers and your children shall find compassion with those who led them away captive, so that they shall return to this land; for the Lord your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn away his face from you, if you return to him.
        10. And the couriers passed from city to city through the country of Ephraim and Manasseh as far as Zebulun; but they laughed them to scorn, and mocked them.
        11. Only a few men of Asher and Manasseh and of Zebulun humbled themselves, and came to Jerusalem.
        12. The hand of God was also upon Judah to give them one heart to do what the king and the princes commanded by the word of the Lord.
        13. And many people assembled at Jerusalem to keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread in the second month, a very great congregation.
        14. And they arose and took away the altars that were in Jerusalem, and all the altars for incense they took away, and threw them into the brook Kidron.
        15. And they slaughtered the paschal lamb on the fourteenth day of the second month; and the priests and the Levites were ashamed, and sanctified themselves, and brought the burnt offerings into the house of the Lord.
        16. And they stood in their place according to the form prescribed for them, according to the Torah of Moses the man of God; the priests sprinkled the blood, which they received from the hand of the Levites.
        17. For there were many in the congregation who were not sanctified; therefore the Levites slaughtered the paschal lamb for every one who was not clean, to sanctify them to the Lord.
        18. For a multitude of the people, many of them from Ephraim, and Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun, had not cleansed themselves, so that they ate the paschal lamb otherwise than what it was prescribed. But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, The good Lord pardon every one
        19. Who prepares his heart to seek God, the Lord God of his fathers, even though he is not cleansed according to the purification of the sanctuary.
        20. And the Lord listened to Hezekiah, and healed the people.
        21. And the people of Israel who were present at Jerusalem kept the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days with great gladness; and the Levites and the priests praised the Lord day by day, singing with loud instruments to the Lord.
        22. And Hezekiah spoke encouragingly to all the Levites who showed good skill in the service of the Lord; and they ate the food of the feast for seven days, offering peace offerings, and making confession to the Lord God of their fathers.
        23. And the whole assembly took counsel to keep another seven days; and they kept another seven days with gladness.
        24. For Hezekiah king of Judah gave to the congregation a thousand bulls and seven thousand sheep; and the princes gave to the congregation a thousand bulls and ten thousand sheep; and a great number of priests sanctified themselves.
        25. And all the congregation of Judah, with the priests and the Levites, and all the congregation that came from Israel, and the foreigners who came from the land of Israel, and who lived in Judah, rejoiced.
        26. And there was great joy in Jerusalem; for since the time of Solomon the son of David king of Israel there had been nothing like this in Jerusalem.
        27. Then the priests the Levites arose and blessed the people; and their voice was heard, and their prayer came up to his holy dwelling place, to heaven.

      • OTD says:

        RG, your last comment was 6,522 words long. This is your final warning. If you can’t write normal-sized comments, I WILL REFUSE TO READ THEM.

        >the priests were observing Judaism by definition if they were priests.

        SOURCE???

        Your proofs were quite lame, by the way. Your verses about Passover are from the same time frame I’m talking about, saying they hadn’t observed it properly for a long time. Yes, I guess that somewhat implies it was observed to an extent before, but it’s still far from clear. The sources about Succos are even worse, because it doesn’t say anything about Succos or huts. The most it says is a feast in the month of Ethanim, which for all we know, could be a feast for some idols…

      • Rabban Gamliel says:

        OTD said
        “>the priests were observing Judaism by definition if they were priests.

        SOURCE???”

        Well they were priests of Judaism. They were not priests looking to put themselves out of business. No one has suggested they were priests of another faith.

        “Your proofs were quite lame, by the way. Your verses about Passover are from the same time frame I’m talking about, saying they hadn’t observed it properly for a long time.”

        They could have been from the same time period and it would have meant still the same argument for my side. Remember you are saying Pesach was not observed before and that then they are inventing it. So if I show it was observed before then they by defintion could not have been inventing it. The time period though I am dealing with is that of King Josiah’s great grandfather King Hezekiah. That was not exactly the day before King Josiah’s reign. If you want an earler time frame look in the Book of Joshua.

        “Yes, I guess that somewhat implies it was observed to an extent before, but it’s still far from clear.”

        What’s clear is you are speculating based on verses and I am quoting them. If you are so skeptical forget the verses and say there was no kingdom and further Jews hadn’t bothered to write or even pass down anything on themselves. Then what a strange story for a people. We came from the moon and only others can be trusted to tell of themselves and others history.

        “The sources about Succos are even worse, because it doesn’t say anything about Succos or huts. The most it says is a feast in the month of Ethanim, which for all we know, could be a feast for some idols…”

        Then King Solomon and the other Israelites were observing the feast for the wrong god in the story. Logic like yours would say how can we trust if it says they were observing the feast of the first month that it was talking of Pesach?

        Ethanim is the month of Tishrei. It was what the Israelites called it. Tishrei and the other names for the months are of Babylonian exile origin.

        Further it spells it out in the quote I gave in verse 2. “And all the men of Israel assembled themselves to king Solomon at the feast in the month Ethanim, which is the seventh month.”

        Now let’s see what is the seventh month? Well in the earlier part of the Bible before the exile the seventh month is consistently Tishrei because the first month is Nisan. So your argument that “The most it says is a feast in the month of Ethanim, which for all we know, could be a feast for some idols…”
        makes no sense because it is flatly wrong. You are I see willing to create a whole new calendar and pagan holiday when it suits you. Further if someone does not know what Ethanim is, it would behoove them to see what scholars say about it. I don’t know of any scholar religious or secular who claims that Ethanim is some God only knows month from some God only knows calendar. The one with the lame arguments here are you.

      • OTD says:

        >Well they were priests of Judaism. They were not priests looking to put themselves out of business. No one has suggested they were priests of another faith.

        You said they were obviously practicing Judaism, because they were priests of Judaism. I never said they were practicing non-Judaism, but what is unclear is what Judaism was. I will concede that Judaism for the last two thousand years or so has been some form of Rabbinic Judaism and I agree that Reform, Conservative, and really any religion post-Enlightenment is pretty far from the original. Not that I’m a big fan of the way things were done in the olden days. If you want to still live in outhouses, by all means! The point is, maybe Rabbinic Judaism doesn’t go much farther back than Ezra? Maybe not even any farther than the Mishna. Just because Judaism has been around for a long time, that does not mean Rabbinic Judaim has been the norm for its entire history. So assuming Rabbinic Judaism goes back to the times of Adam is all fine and good, but I’m a bissel a skeptic, y’know?

        >Further it spells it out in the quote I gave in verse 2. “And all the men of Israel assembled themselves to king Solomon at the feast in the month Ethanim, which is the seventh month.”

        Fine, Ethanim is Tishrei. But read the words again: “feast in the month of Tishrei.” What does a feast have to do with building huts and shaking lulav? Succos =/= feast. Succos is supposed to be a whole lot more than that.

        Contrast that with the verse I quoted: “the whole congregation that had returned from exile built booths and lived in them. From the days of Joshua son of Nun until that day, the Israelites had not celebrated it this way.” Leviticus 23:42 states mefurash, “You will dwell in booths for seven days; all natives of Israel shall dwell in booths.” It also mentions lulav and esrog there (or should I say pri eitz hadar) too. Pretty effing clear, dontcha think?

      • Rabban Gamliel says:

        OTD said:”Lisa, it’s fine to say the Jews, nebach, forgot the Torah. After all the oppression from Menashe, etc. But how does that jive with your earlier comment of , “’Hey, you guys. Guess what? Not only is this Torah from God, but we’ve always known that it was from God. Your fathers, and your father’s [...]”

        Well the priests had it passed down. They didn’t say we found a book called the Torah. They said we have found the Torah and to the king (who was not a Levite) they said this. There is a difference between saying a generalization that most Jews or many were not loyal as opposed to claiming it means all.

        “>Well they were priests of Judaism. They were not priests looking to put themselves out of business. No one has suggested they were priests of another faith.

        You said they were obviously practicing Judaism, because they were priests of Judaism. I never said they were practicing non-Judaism, but what is unclear is what Judaism was. I will concede that Judaism for the last two thousand years or so has been some form of Rabbinic Judaism and I agree that Reform, Conservative, and really any religion post-Enlightenment is pretty far from the original. Not that I’m a big fan of the way things were done in the olden days. If you want to still live in outhouses, by all means! The point is, maybe Rabbinic Judaism doesn’t go much farther back than Ezra? Maybe not even any farther than the Mishna. Just because Judaism has been around for a long time, that does not mean Rabbinic Judaim has been the norm for its entire history. So assuming Rabbinic Judaism goes back to the times of Adam is all fine and good, but I’m a bissel a skeptic, y’know?”

        That wasn’t what we were discussing. The priests would have remembered practices the people may not because they were the priests of Judaism, the religious functionaries.

        >Further it spells it out in the quote I gave in verse 2. “And all the men of Israel assembled themselves to king Solomon at the feast in the month Ethanim, which is the seventh month.”

        Fine, Ethanim is Tishrei. But read the words again: “feast in the month of Tishrei.” What does a feast have to do with building huts and shaking lulav? Succos =/= feast. Succos is supposed to be a whole lot more than that.”

        It doesn’t say that they shook the Lulav in the story there. It says they used components of what we would called Lulavim for their Sukkah coverings along with other material. Are we to say shaking the Lulav was still not observed because it wasn’t mentioned? I will quote you to disprove you altogether. You wrote that it is written in the same chapter in Nechemia “And on the second day, the heads of all the families, along with the priests and the Levites, gathered around Ezra the scribe to learn the words of the Torah. And they found written in the Torah, which the Lord had commanded through Moses, that the Israelites were to live in booths during the feast of the seventh month…” It is therefore enough to say the Feast of the Seventh Month and know the Bible means Sukkos. In both cases in my quote and in yours they dwell on aspects other than feasting but who has to describe completely a festival to let one know what festival one is talking about?

        “Contrast that with the verse I quoted: “the whole congregation that had returned from exile built booths and lived in them. From the days of Joshua son of Nun until that day, the Israelites had not celebrated it this way.” Leviticus 23:42 states mefurash, “You will dwell in booths for seven days; all natives of Israel shall dwell in booths.” It also mentions lulav and esrog there (or should I say pri eitz hadar) too. Pretty effing clear, dontcha think?”

        Not so. It says in Ezra 3:4 “And they kept the Feast of Tabernacles, as it is written and offered the daily burnt offerings by number, according to the ordinance, as the duty of every day required.” This was before the Second Temple’s foundation was laid down and also before the incident in Nechemia that you mention. In the incident in Ezra they had just returned to Israel. Further in neither quote does it mention an “esrog there (or should I say pri eitz hadar).” Further in my quote on King Solomon it mentions the feast as being celebrated for seven days. That sure sounds like Sukkos. Further it says in Ezra 3:1-4 “1 When the seventh month came and the Children of Israel had settled in their towns, the people assembled as one man to Jerusalem. 2 Then stood up Jeshua son of Jozadak and his fellow brethren the priests and Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and his brethren and built the altar of the God of Israel to sacrifice burnt offerings on it, in accordance with what is written in the Law of Moses the man of God. 3 And they set the altar upon its bases; for fear was upon them because of the people of the countries, and they offered burnt offerings on it to the LORD, burnt offerings morning and evening. And they kept the Feast of Tabernacles, as it is written and offered the daily burnt offerings by number, according to the ordinance, as the duty of every day required.”

        So it was already claimed that the Torah of Moses said you have to observe Sukkos before the incident in Nechemia.

  22. Suzanne says:

    Lisa, can you share with me how you know what is truly Judaism? I do not understand how you “know” that God wrote the Torah. When I say dot and tittle I mean each and every detail, it is just a figure of speech.

  23. Lisa says:

    Seriously, Suzanne? For thousands of years, we’re going along, doing our Jew thing, and suddenly, the lovely Europeans decide that maybe they don’t have to murder us all the time. So they say, “Hey, clean yourselves up and we can maybe be friends.” So a lot of Jews, some of whom are eager to go and be friends with the goyim and others of whom aren’t so eager, but figure that if they don’t go make friends with them, they’re going to change their minds and start in with the burnings and other fun and games, run out and try to fit in.

    But kashrut is a drag. How can you be friends and refuse to eat at their houses? It’s not like the goyim can run out to the store and find stuff with a hechsher on it, even if they wanted to. And Shabbat? Seriously? A whole day where you’re stuck in a kilometer wide swath around your town? Doesn’t make for great social intercourse (or any other sort). So you start blowing things off, little by little. You’re still a Jew, of course, and you know what Judaism is, just like we always have, but you make exceptions for yourself, because the social pressure doesn’t leave you a lot of choice.

    But you feel guilty about it. It bites, believing one thing and doing another. And that guilt is a demand which, as always, creates a supply. Inevitably, someone gets up and says, “You know, maybe the whole thing was a crock from the get go.” And you’re shocked, just like everyone else, but then you realize that if this guy is right, you don’t have to feel guilty any more. It’s like a get out of jail free card. And the floodgates really open.

    See, for thousands of years, Jews have gone off the derech. Drip, drip, drip. But they always knew that they were going off the derech. If they made excuses for themselves, to themselves, it was a private thing. But suddenly, there’s a whole bunch of snake oil salesman (I’m being a little harsh here; I’m sure their conscious intent wasn’t to deceive, but it was snake oil anyway) who are talking with one another and coming up with consensus snake oil. And you buy it. Because it soothes the heartburn, releases the tension, and basically makes you feel a lot better.

    And that’s the origin of Reform. Like Christianity and Karaism, it has a major weakness. Which is that it came out of Judaism, and can only be judged in that context. I know there are a lot of Jews today who believe in the Baskin Robbins theory of Judaism. That there’s always been a choice between chocolate, vanilla and strawberry. “I’ll have a scoop of Conservative with some Reconstructionist topping.” But it isn’t so. Just because a couple of centuries have come and gone since Reform started doesn’t mean they don’t still have a burden of proof to carry. They do. And they’ve never managed it, and now they don’t even care to.

    Conservatives, btw, have a dual origin. Some of them were Reformers who got nervous at the speed with which Reform was running away from Judaism. Look up the “treifa banquet” if you want to know what really precipitated the creation of the Conservative movement. But at the same time, there were Orthodox rabbis who had started to adopt the German historical school of thought. And they made a critical mistake. They forgot that the Torah isn’t just words on a blatt of Gemara. That it includes its own system, and that using a foreign system to understand those words is like trying to use the Mac OS on a PC. And they realized pretty quickly that they could find excuses for just about anything. A daat yachid (lone opinion) here, a b’dieved (post facto) law there. You can always ignore context and find a kula (leniency). And remember, they weren’t finding these kulas for themselves. They hung out their shingles and offered them to whomever wanted them. And these poor souls who’d lost sight of the original Torah operating system joined with the Reformers who had cold feet, and they created the Conservative movement.

    What’s most interesting to me is that the Orthoprax, Post-Orthodox, Open Orthodox, Morethodox, whatever you want to call them of YCT, JOFA, HIR, etc. are very much like the left wing Orthodox who created the Conservative movement with the Reformers. And meanwhile, there are Conservative Jews who are feeling uncomfortable about how far their movement has moved away from the halakha. They’ve completely abrogated the prohibition of a Kohen marrying a divorcee. Most Conservative Jews don’t keep kashrut or Shabbat. Most of them have never even heard of Taharat HaMishpacha. So maybe history will repeat itself.

    “[P]erhaps reform Judaism is the true Judaism.” Honestly, Suzanne, learn a little history.

    • Shades of Gray says:

      “What’s most interesting to me is that the Orthoprax, Post-Orthodox, Open Orthodox, Morethodox, whatever you want to call them of YCT, JOFA, HIR, etc. are very much like the left wing Orthodox who created the Conservative movement with the Reformers.”

      My question is how to acheive balance in a polarized world.

      Part of the Right is adopting an extremist approach to matters of recreation and any underlying issues of sexuality, to the extent of making harsh threats against those who attend music concerts, a suppression of individuality. From Haaretz(see link):

      “We have the photos in our possession. Here and there are Haredim in lovely pictures, with a woman to their right and one on their left. And then they will come and ask why their children are not accepted into particular schools….
      The public understands the educational issue, and if they don’t they’ll get into trouble.”

      Then you have the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals which writes the following on its website(see “Become a Member” section on link):

      “will take satisfaction in doing something constructive to stem the tide of religious extremism, fanaticism and obscurantism within Orthodox Jewish life”

      Yeshivat Choveivei Torah says the following as its mission(see link):

      “Encouraging intellectual openness, questioning, and critical thinking as essential components of one’s full service to God (avodat Hashem). ”

      The issue, as I see it, is finding the right balance. I am not a supporter of the Left of Orthodoxy nor of Orthopraxy, but I understand why people are drawn to critical thinking, and I am concerned with religious extremism. On the positive side, I think that there is a large Center in the Torah world, but the Left brings up issues which speak to people, and thus, their attraction.

      http://www.jewishideas.org/

      http://www.yctorah.org/content/view/1/49/

      http://www.haaretz.com/misc/article-print-page/august-offers-much-strictly-kosher-fun-for-haredim-1.306079?trailingPath=2.169%2C2.225%2C2.226%2C

    • Orielle says:

      oy. Best of luck to you, Lisa.

    • How does this answer her whole question? How do you know God wrote the Torah?

    • Suzanne says:

      It’s been very interesting to read all your comments. I think we all start from the same place, wanting to do the right thing, and I’m happy for those who have found a system that makes sense to them. I wish you all the best. Gut Shabbes!

    • offthedwannab says:

      Lisa, I think you’d enjoy K.A Kitchen’s “On the historicity of the Old Testament”.
      Not only is the archeological findings impressive, but he devotes an entire section in which he destroys the basis of modern Biblical criticism. This is not an apologetic work. Kitchen doesn’t come across as someone with an axe to grind, just a man interested in the truth (and possibly tenure :). It focuses on actual data recovered archeologically (of which field Kitchen is a noted expert), and doesn’t rely on theory. It is really a breath of fresh air to anyone familiar with classic biblical critique.

      • Lisa says:

        I’ve read Kitchen’s The Third Intermediate Period in Egypt. It’s interesting. He wouldn’t agree with my conclusions, but he does do some good scholarship.

  24. The Way says:

    Lisa,

    Lucky for you we don’t live in a torah true society: not because you’re a lesbian but because you are a woman. You are property. So while it is all nice and cute that you think you know some torah and some other stuff, and its so clever of you to spout on the blog with righteous indignation, the fact is, in a torah true society you could be raped in a field, your dad will be paid a fine for having his property damaged, and you would be sent with your rainbow bedroll to the tent of your rapist; lesbian or not.

    So go enjoy the love and guidance and peace you get from praying to your misogynistic genocidal imaginary friend: or stop talking when the men are talking.

    • Rabban Gamliel says:

      The Way said:”Lisa,

      Lucky for you we don’t live in a torah true society: not because you’re a lesbian but because you are a woman. You are property.”

      No she is not property in a Torah true society. Talmudic law does not consider them property. This is something you would learn in Yeshiva from your rebbe.

      “So while it is all nice and cute that you think you know some torah and some other stuff, and its so clever of you to spout on the blog with righteous indignation, the fact is, in a torah true society you could be raped in a field, your dad will be paid a fine for having his property damaged, and you would be sent with your rainbow bedroll to the tent of your rapist; lesbian or not.”

      She did not have to marry him. He had to marry her. It was up to her.

      “So go enjoy the love and guidance and peace you get from praying to your misogynistic genocidal imaginary friend: or stop talking when the men are talking.”

      Genocide was never committed by us either or else the Midianites would not have attacked us beyond the days of Moshe and the Amalekites beyond the days of King Shaul. King David still had to deal with them. We were constantly dealing with Canaanites and are even descended from them

  25. Lisa says:

    “The Way”, you are a gibbering idiot. Go and vent your fury against Judaism somewhere else. Not, of course, that this is my blog, but I say that just as I’d say it to you if, God forbid, I were ever to run into you in real life.

    You’re reading your hatred into others. It’s pathetic.

  26. The Way says:

    its not hatred lisa, its incredulity. I am amazed that you miss the irony of arguing for a true mesorah when you are a public lesbian who talks about torah and other intellectual topics. Are there many women quoted in the gemara? You think Jews and Judaism haven’t/shouldn’t change? In what era before now would your voice be allowed? When would you even have been allowed to learn and discuss the torah at the level you have?

    And I love how everyone wants to pilpul and nuance the book to death. If it is hatred to point out that the book treats women like property and the book demands genocide and baby killing; the hatred is not mine. I am mostly indifferent.

    (I said like not as, there is a difference between a metaphor and a simile so you caught me there Rg, she is not exactly property, just one step above. As for the rest of your responses, Rg: all i can say is: really?)

    Belief is gravity. You don’t wake up wondering if you are going to float away. It is an unseen force in which we all have total faith. All of these mental gymnastics, to chalk me up as a hater or debate a nuance to death, are a game to play because you don’t really believe, its just a better game than the last.

    • Rabban Gamliel says:

      Way you make grand pronouncements on things that you know ever so little about. No women are not just a little higher than property. They are not considered property at all because they are considered human. As far as the rest that I said. Yes really or don’t you have a Bible to read at least?

  27. The Way says:

    Yes Rg, they must be human, which is why they have the choice whether or not to marry their rapist. Its so obvious now, what a fool am I.

    • Rabban Gamliel says:

      You would learn in Yeshiva from a rebbe that a woman is a person in Jewish Law. There I spelled it out. If you really were not filled with hate as you told Lisa you wouldn’t show off your ignorance with word games in place of real argument. You are really are a hateful ignorant bigot.

  28. The Way says:

    Im not sure what response all the name calling is intended to elicit. A bit of sarcasm instead of pilpul isn’t exactly hate-mongering or bigotry.

    What I learned in Yeshiva was sloppy half hearted responses to these issues that take huge leaps of intellectual dishonesty to swallow. Like when you say its up to the rape victim to marry their rapist its a logical argument but when I repeat that it becomes hate and bigotry.

    But lets throw out a few more examples of the general tone with which the good and kind almighty treats women and “others.”

    So a woman doesn’t call out in the field and its not rape.
    A woman can inherit but only until she can submit her yerusha back to a man in her tribe.
    Its been a while so remind me, what kind of witness is a woman?
    I also like the stories of hiding sarah in a box.
    Men can have multiple wives and women can only have 1 husband.
    Funny how the torah blames lot’s daughters for getting him drunk to the point where he slept with both of them and impregnated them both. How long was he drunk in the cave with those bad bad daughters?
    Men marry off the women, trade for them, etc.
    Accuse a women and she has to drink the potion, sort of like salem witch trial logic.
    Its a worse punishment to rape a sheep than a woman.

    Now we can also go back to the command to enter a land, waving our god as a banner and force the others to convert or leave or die.

    The fact that you can’t find an amaleki doesn’t remove god’s command to kill those babies if you could find them.

    An one of my all time favorites is from rashi: and yes he is a much later commentator but he is so popular and this is a great line, Cham is cursed by being made dark.

    Yes, Rg, clearly I am the hater for pointing these issues out, it couldn’t at all be the book. Nothing the book wrote was actually intended in fact or demeanor. And in Yeshiva, and in the many years since, I have received the same answers over and over again, vainglorious attempts by good people to reconcile their belief in the above examples with the realities of the world thousands of years removed.

    There is a reason psychology is so intertwined with our people. When most people hear voices and almost kill their child and at the last moment kill an animal and mutilate their sexual organ, they call that schizophrenia, we make it holy.

    • Rabban Gamliel says:

      The Way said:”Im not sure what response all the name calling is intended to elicit. A bit of sarcasm instead of pilpul isn’t exactly hate-mongering or bigotry.

      What I learned in Yeshiva was sloppy half hearted responses to these issues that take huge leaps of intellectual dishonesty to swallow. Like when you say its up to the rape victim to marry their rapist its a logical argument but when I repeat that it becomes hate and bigotry.”

      You did not simply repeat it.

      “But lets throw out a few more examples of the general tone with which the good and kind almighty treats women and “others.”

      So a woman doesn’t call out in the field and its not rape.”

      If you know anything of Bible and Talmud you would know it uses general examples that would cover a wide enough range of cases. Here you are putting cause and affect in reverse. She is not calling out because it is not rape. If it would be rape but for some reason she still did not cry out for help it would still be rape. You don’t know Talmud.

      “A woman can inherit but only until she can submit her yerusha back to a man in her tribe.”

      No you are mixing up issues. She was restricted for a time to her tribe by Moshe in order to prevent the tribes from losing their territory. That was from the male side.

      “Its been a while so remind me, what kind of witness is a woman?”

      Under certain circumstances a witness.

      “I also like the stories of hiding sarah in a box.”

      Never heard of it but my mother in the Holocaust hid behind a couch as a little girl.

      “Men can have multiple wives and women can only have 1 husband.”

      Men can still? No. Jewish men usually did not have more than one wife even in Biblical times. In any event it sure makes it easier to know who the father is in the absence of DNA tests if the women are not having more than one husband at a time.

      “Funny how the torah blames lot’s daughters for getting him drunk to the point where he slept with both of them and impregnated them both. How long was he drunk in the cave with those bad bad daughters?”

      The Torah gives their reasoning. It doesn’t in that passage get into blame. Indeed the rabbis tend to put the blame on Lot and spare his daughters.

      “Men marry off the women, trade for them, etc.”

      The women can do likewise. Mothers can marry off their sons and promise things in exchange.

      “Accuse a women and she has to drink the potion, sort of like salem witch trial logic.”

      And imagine that by drinking she is proven Innocent to her husband. Also we are not the ones to make her drink. Her husband is making the accusations and wanting her to prove herself so this shuts him up.

      “Now we can also go back to the command to enter a land, waving our god as a banner and force the others to convert or leave or die.”

      It doesn’t say about conversion.

      “The fact that you can’t find an amaleki doesn’t remove god’s command to kill those babies if you could find them.”

      I repeat King David dealt with the Amalekites also after King Shaul. He was only condemned for sparing King Agag. We did not do genocides.

      What you do is collect a whole bunch of repeated stuff half ignorant at best and then say “see what Jews are like.” Under the Talmud torture was useless to extract confessions as people could not incriminate themselves and the death penalty frankly would take a miracle it seems to impose. If you are interested in truth you would then present things that even someone as ignorant as you could notice as positive but no doubt it is hard for you to find on the internet sites that are both hateful and presenting a full picture nor are you interested.

      “Yes, Rg, clearly I am the hater for pointing these issues out, it couldn’t at all be the book. Nothing the book wrote was actually intended in fact or demeanor. And in Yeshiva, and in the many years since, I have received the same answers over and over again, vainglorious attempts by good people to reconcile their belief in the above examples with the realities of the world thousands of years removed.”

      Frankly I do not believe an ignorant person like you was in Yeshiva and learning or knowing how to at the same time. Your ignorance is simply too great for you to have been in Yeshiva, learning at least unless you were very dumb with Talmud. There are no two ways about it. You appear woefully ignorant about Judaism and Jewish life.

      “There is a reason psychology is so intertwined with our people. When most people hear voices and almost kill their child and at the last moment kill an animal and mutilate their sexual organ, they call that schizophrenia, we make it holy.”

      So much for your saying you are not hateful. You are such an ignorant, ugly, hateful and stupid person. Circumcision is healthy. And the story of Avraham involves him not hearing voices but experiencing God. In this case he is given a contradiction. He was told to believe fully that his son would father the Jewish people and he does not sacrifice people and still he was told to sacrifice. He knows there must be an answer and he sees it. If you think by repeating every Antisemitic comment on the internet you read you will be spared by Antisemites you are a fool and in their eyes too.

  29. Bernie says:

    The Way,

    You reminded me of Rashi’s comment in connection with the woman who drinks the potion: if she’s proven innocent, she will be ‘blessed’ with white offspring in place of the black ones she gave birth to up until this point.

  30. The Way says:

    Again with the name calling Rg? That you can pick out one word of a sentence and then call me a name doesn’t mean much in the big scheme of things. I used polygamy as an example and you focus on the word “can” and make a big deal about that. Yes we can argue about the cherem drabenu gershom and when and how and what came before and why, but in general terms (y’know to cover lesser examples like the talmud does) we can discuss the biblical jews who had more than 1 wife. As for dna, I didn’t know you had to be married to have dna questions, after all, isn’t that why they made judaism travel by the mom, to avoid issues of who the dad really is?
    (although they kept the cohen/levi/yisrael by the dad even though we still may not know who the dad really is)

    You don’t even address the rashi quote.

    As for circumcision being healthy, yes in the days pre-plumbing and poor personal hygiene, a case may have been made for its benefits, but in todays world while you might find doctors with a religious bias who say it is healthy thats like finding a religious scientist who disputes evolution. The reputable doctor organizations like the ama and association of pediatric doctors and others have all come out to varying degrees with statements either against or at least labeling it medically unnecessary.
    But the bris has zip to do with health, again a false argument to balance mutilation with the commandment to mutilate, so it has to be healthy. Who cares if its healthy or not, you have to do it. All the doctors and statistics could say no but thats not the point, which is my point.

    Or I say that we entered a land and told the natives to leave convert or die and because you say that conversion wasn’t an option it negates the claim of genocide.

    I don’t need to trot out my family’s holocaust experiences to win points on a blog, sort of makes it all cheap.

    But lets continue, because your arguments thus far have really made orthodoxy come off looking so good and reasoned and harmonious.

    So why, in a book that finds time to ban wool and linen, can it not find the words to actually say, thou shalt not rape? instead the punishment is under a property claim or general claim of mazik (damage)

    Or if all these examples are to threatening lets do a little pilpul dance. The blog originally started on the topic of evolution within the orthodox religion, so lets take a completely non threatening topic, like making kiddush on shabat.

    The gemara talks about how silver become the metal to be used for a kos. Now aside from the anti-oxidant properties, the main claim was that it transmitted the least of the metals in use at the time. There was an evolution of what the best kos was, over time it went from clay to metals like brass, gold, copper until they settled on silver.

    And despite that origional evolution of the kos, orthodox judaism has been stuck using silver for 2000 years. Guess what. We have glass nowadays. Every wine aficionado in the world will tell you that glass is best. Here you are making a bracha on wine, which has a special status, and instead of using glass you make kiddush like some medieval monk on a silver goblet which leaches oxidation into the wine. Is that anyway to honor god? Is that not debasing this holy wine? To say nothing of the fact that you can’t see the wine through a silver kos, which we know from pesach is important to honor the wine. So instead of continuing the evolution the rabbis began of the best kos for the job, judaism got stuck in the dark ages where replication of using the same cup as your fore bearers became more important than adapting and evolving in a logical sane manner to better honor and appreciate the wine.

    So I doubt you will find the above question about the evolution of a segment of judaism on any internet hate sites. As for being dumb on the talmud, well I wasn’t as dumb as the followers of the rabbis of the gemara who massacred the followers of opposing rabbis.

    But the real problem is, when you need to believe in something, any answer is good enough, but that does not make it a good answer. So then you resort to name calling. I wonder if your mom would feel better about her experiences knowing that you call a fellow jew an anti-semite simply because I am horrified by the ancient but very human aspects of the torah while you think there is a being who after creating time, decided to write a book that certainly can at least mislead people into genocide and misogyny. For an omniscient being you’d think the book would be a bit clearer on those things, dontcha?

    (p.s. I can give you the orthodox halachik answer about the glass kos, but I think it would behoove you to research the issue yourself and not take my word. I can direct you to rabbis (aside from the chazon ish) who touch on the topic)

    • Rabban Gamliel says:

      The Way said:”Again with the name calling Rg? That you can pick out one word of a sentence and then call me a name doesn’t mean much in the big scheme of things. I used polygamy as an example and you focus on the word “can” and make a big deal about that. Yes we can argue about the cherem drabenu gershom and when and how and what came before and why, but in general terms (y’know to cover lesser examples like the talmud does) we can discuss the biblical jews who had more than 1 wife.”

      I had said that at all times in Jewish history having more than one wife was a minority practice.

      “I had said that in As for dna, I didn’t know you had to be married to have dna questions, after all, isn’t that why they made judaism travel by the mom, to avoid issues of who the dad really is?
      (although they kept the cohen/levi/yisrael by the dad even though we still may not know who the dad really is)”

      Well it sure reduces by far DNA questions if a woman is not having relations with several men.

      “You don’t even address the rashi quote.”

      So what am I to do with it? As for race which is what you were implying Judaism does not have any laws recognizing race.

      “As for circumcision being healthy, yes in the days pre-plumbing and poor personal hygiene, a case may have been made for its benefits, but in todays world while you might find doctors with a religious bias who say it is healthy thats like finding a religious scientist who disputes evolution. The reputable doctor organizations like the ama and association of pediatric doctors and others have all come out to varying degrees with statements either against or at least labeling it medically unnecessary.
      But the bris has zip to do with health, again a false argument to balance mutilation with the commandment to mutilate, so it has to be healthy. Who cares if its healthy or not, you have to do it. All the doctors and statistics could say no but thats not the point, which is my point.”

      You are ignorant. By now if you read science magazines you get study after study saying it is healthy to prevent diseases like AIDS. It may be inconvenient for you but science and reality are not going to be changed to suite your hate.

      “Or I say that we entered a land and told the natives to leave convert or die and because you say that conversion wasn’t an option it negates the claim of genocide.”

      No I did not say that. I said there was no genocide as you can see if you would read the Bible’s history of Canaanites down to the days of the kings.

      “I don’t need to trot out my family’s holocaust experiences to win points on a blog, sort of makes it all cheap.”

      You stupid jackass. I did not do that. You did right now. You stupid insensitive son of a bitch.

      “But lets continue, because your arguments thus far have really made orthodoxy come off looking so good and reasoned and harmonious.

      So why, in a book that finds time to ban wool and linen, can it not find the words to actually say, thou shalt not rape? instead the punishment is under a property claim or general claim of mazik (damage)”

      Why does it say not to oppress the stranger because you know the heart of a stranger? Why does it say to help the widow and her orphans? You cherry pick and make cases when you can’t.

      “Or if all these examples are to threatening lets do a little pilpul dance. The blog originally started on the topic of evolution within the orthodox religion, so lets take a completely non threatening topic, like making kiddush on shabat.

      The gemara talks about how silver become the metal to be used for a kos. Now aside from the anti-oxidant properties, the main claim was that it transmitted the least of the metals in use at the time. There was an evolution of what the best kos was, over time it went from clay to metals like brass, gold, copper until they settled on silver.

      And despite that origional evolution of the kos, orthodox judaism has been stuck using silver for 2000 years. Guess what. We have glass nowadays. Every wine aficionado in the world will tell you that glass is best. Here you are making a bracha on wine, which has a special status, and instead of using glass you make kiddush like some medieval monk on a silver goblet which leaches oxidation into the wine. Is that anyway to honor god? Is that not debasing this holy wine? To say nothing of the fact that you can’t see the wine through a silver kos, which we know from pesach is important to honor the wine. So instead of continuing the evolution the rabbis began of the best kos for the job, judaism got stuck in the dark ages where replication of using the same cup as your fore bearers became more important than adapting and evolving in a logical sane manner to better honor and appreciate the wine.”

      Your argument is silly. What’s worth more silver or glass? In any event there is no law that says it has to be silver or glass.

      “So I doubt you will find the above question about the evolution of a segment of judaism on any internet hate sites.”

      That is no proof of you being learned. You show so much stupidity on real topics and on this you make a big deal. Also this is an issue on the internet.

      “As for being dumb on the talmud, well I wasn’t as dumb as the followers of the rabbis of the gemara who massacred the followers of opposing rabbis.”

      No they didn’t you Antisemite. You make stupid wild comments and then you wish to be taken seriously.

      “But the real problem is, when you need to believe in something, any answer is good enough, but that does not make it a good answer.”

      Take your own advice.

      “So then you resort to name calling.”

      Yeah because you are an outrageous ignorant bigot.

      “I wonder if your mom would feel better about her experiences knowing that you call a fellow jew an anti-semite simply because I am horrified by the ancient but very human aspects of the torah while you think there is a being who after creating time, decided to write a book that certainly can at least mislead people into genocide and misogyny. For an omniscient being you’d think the book would be a bit clearer on those things, dontcha?”

      With the way you try and make only bad with us and are too afraid to say anything good, you are not horrified by anything except being Jewish. All of a sudden you want to be considered a fellow Jew when you are someone who would have been an aid to Nazi propaganda. If you don’t keep quite I am going to give the site of the Jewish Encyclopedia online by topics to have readers of this blog read it and make a fool of you.

  31. tayqoo says:

    the way,
    don’t waste your time on rg. he’s a certified lunatic, as you can probably tell from his foaming at the mouth. maybe if he is ignored he’ll get his jollies elsewhere. the original rabban gamliel must be spinning, like a top, in his grave.

    • Rabban Gamliel says:

      Tayqoo
      If you don’t shut up your stupid mouth which you have amply demonstrated as foaming and idiotic already then I will post from the online Jewish Encyclopedia stuff you don’t want posted on this blog exactly as I threatened The Way. You are no less of an Antisemitic loon.

  32. Don says:

    tayqoo,

    It’s a kind of lunacy that is by no means unique to him, but is a pervasive trait among kiruv clowns everywhere who deal with these issues.

  33. Lisa says:

    RG, you’re seriously wasting your time on this ignoramus. Taking his points seriously enough to respond to only gratifies him. Why are you bothering to wade in his filth?

    • Rabban Gamliel says:

      Sometimes Antisemites get to me. It’s enough we have loons who aren’t Jewish going against us. Here we have morons like Tayqoo and the way.

  34. The Way says:

    Yes lisa, I am the ignorant fool. I bring up the subject of sotah as an issue and Rg’s response is, its fair to the woman cuz it shuts the man up. It doesn’t even enter his mind that women don’t get to be shut up by making the men take the potion. Just, its to shut up the man’s complaints of adultery. And because you guys are orthodox and any answer is good enough, that answer is an answer.

    I bring up that the torah in word and tenor treat women as a step above property, an example I used was rape. Rg’s answer was, women are treated as equals because the rape victim gets to choose whether or not to be married to her attacker. Yes, how crazy of me to disagree.

    Asking questions about judaic law and lore without any name-calling somehow makes me and anti-semetic nazi sympathizer.

    Not falling down and crying when RG brings his mom’s holocaust experience into the mix makes me a filth laden bigot. What his mom hiding from nazis has to do with feminine inequality in the torah is beyond me, but Im the insensitive bigot for missing his point on that one.

    is this the beauty of orthodox judaism? childish attempts at intimidation and name calling. It is possible to disagree without being disagreeable.

    You guys are so smart and everyone else who doesn’t see it your way is either dumb or hate filled or both: except the vast majority of both Jews and the rest of the world completely disagree with your understandings and explanations. So it must be a dark and angry place where you two live.

    I hope you both find the internal peace you both so desperately need. I know, pray for it. That’ll help.

    • Rabban Gamliel says:

      Way you misrepresent what I was saying. Also it is apparent you find it too much to have any mention of the Holocaust. You stupidly complained saying Sarah was hidden in a box so I said my mother was hidden behind a couch. I’m supposed to shut up about the Holocaust because you find it inconvenient because it would arouse sympathy for Jews?! You’re an idiot. You can’t say anything positive about Jews and Judaism. Go to hell. If you talk one more time I will carry out my threat about posting from the Jewish Encyclopedia online immediately.

  35. Rabban Gamliel says:

    Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakai was hidden in a coffin. I suppose we had it in for him too.

  36. The Way says:

    Rg, You’re words are there in black and white, I have no need to misrepresent you, you do a fine job of expressing the orthodox explanations. I don’t expect you to hear my questions and arguments and change your mind, you can’t, you and lisa obviously have way to much invested in your current lifestyle to change. I think the orthoprax rabbi was right Lisa, you and he have more in common than you think.

    As for the holocaust, I find it was more than just an inconvenience Rg. I don’t care for it being brought up out of left field because I think it was much more than an an inconvenience and should not be cheapened by being used in a blog debate on the torah’s tenor of misogyny.

    As for being positive about Jews and Judaism, I love being Jewish and I love my people and my history and culture. I also love having the freedom to jettison the unhealthy parts of my people’s history. As a formerly orthodox I get to keep the beauty of a family day of rest for example and I get to reject the genocide and women hatred as a part of human history that should remain history and not part of a present god’s demands.

    I don’t go on and on praising my fellow jews and Judaism because that wasn’t the topic here. I don’t understand why staying on topic is anti-semetic: but just to counter, my people have done some awesome stuff.

    As for Lisa, since bringing up the mention of the torah’s treatment of women is apparently my hatefully ignorant bigotry, lets wade into your topic of knowledge: Egyptology. I assume in your time in Aretz you took a trip down to Timna and the keturah area. When our people supposedly left egypt they had all those trees which (according to our racist friend rashi) Jacob planted hundred of years ahead of time for his children’s benefit. I assume you know that those trees grow wild in the desert? And that a vintner in medieval france might not know the biology of the desert. So even if you can dismiss rashi’s racisim, do you think he was right about jacob planting those trees? or did your studies just focus on pyramids and Isis and ignore or how much of egypts gods and philosophy made it into early Judaism?

    • Rabban Gamliel says:

      First of all it is not cheapening the Holocaust if I mention it and it wasn’t out of left field to mention that people can be hidden when being hidden is what you brought up in making it a bad thing for Sarah. You are using the Holocaust, cheapening it, not me. You claim you are really positive and yet you are being only negative all over the place beyond what you even claim are the topics at hand. Second I am giving my explanations. You are the one is the parrot and has an emotional investment in your views. Here is an article on Gentiles http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=142&letter=G&search=gentiles If you continue to talk I’ll add more ones from the encyclopedia.

    • Dov Kramer says:

      “I get to reject the genocide and women hatred as a part of human history that should remain history and not part of a present god’s demands.”

      There are no current genocide demands. They were only part of our “history” when a nation threatened our ability to fulfill our mission, and there was a specific divine communication about it.

      “I assume you [RG] know that those trees grow wild in the desert?”

      Have you seen Ibn Ezra’s comments on the issue? (And BTW, no one is claiming that every midrashic aggada is historically accurate. The fact that some are mutually exclusive kind of eliminates that possibility.)

    • Dov Kramer says:

      As far as your accusations of “woman hatred,” That is a much more complicated topic.

      One of the reasons it’s complicated is that I agree that there are quite a few religious Jews that use Jewish law as a means to treat women poorly. But that doesn’t mean the actual laws reflect any “hatred.”

      Another reason it’s complicated is that anytime a mention of gender differences is made in a discussion of why Judaism promotes different roles for each gender, it generates so much noise that a real discussion is hard to have.

      One thing to consider, though (and this applies to the slavery issue as well), is context. If you think about the way people were treated at the time the Torah was given, there were concepts introduced then that turned the tide and put humanity on course to treating others much more appropriately.

      Those changes couldn’t occur overnight, and if the Torah insisted they did it would have been counterproductive (not just for these issues, but for the other things the Torah tried to accomplish).

  37. tayqoo says:

    Rabban Gamliel says:
    August 8, 2010 at 3:07 pm
    Tayqoo
    If you don’t shut up your stupid mouth which you have amply demonstrated as foaming and idiotic already then I will post from the online Jewish Encyclopedia stuff you don’t want posted on this blog exactly as I threatened The Way. You are no less of an Antisemitic loon.
    *************************
    ooooooooooy, i’m terrified.
    by the way, is anyone that disagrees with your bebbling an anti-semite?
    in a way, i feel sorry for you. get some help, pronto.

    • Rabban Gamliel says:

      Tayqoo you’re an idiot. I’ve had lots of disagreements and Antisemite is reserved for those who exhibit it. The best a mental case like you can contribute to a conversation is insult based on what you want to be true because of your hangups. I have posted already on Judaism and Gentiles. Shut up before I post more.

      • tayqoo says:

        being called an idiot by a moron really qualify as an insult.
        what is it about the jewish encylopedia that is supposed to be so frightening?
        getv help before you go postal.

  38. offthedwannab says:

    As fun as it is to hear you guys dis each other, may I request that we end this? I’m subscribed to this post and keep getting emails on my phone. And since I’m really just interested in any replies to my posts, the unending righteous indignation is fast becoming an annoyance.

    • tayqoo says:

      i’m sorry. you are right. i will control myself. it really was beneath me and i should not have played this game.

      • Rabban Gamliel says:

        tayqoo said:i’m sorry. you are right. i will control myself. it really was beneath me and i should not have played this game. In response to offthedwannab who said: “As fun as it is to hear you guys dis each other, may I request that we end this? I’m subscribed to this post and keep getting emails on my phone. And since I’m really just interested in any replies to my posts, the unending righteous indignation is fast becoming an annoyance.”

        I am willing to start from ground zero. When you you have a beef with me or someone else describe what it is. The way kept on upping the anti. You got bent out of shape over less in your day. There was no reason for you and I to get at it. You don’t seem to make everything bad about the Jews as far as I have been able to recall but since you were so much with the way so I thought well if an encyclopedia showing good things about the Jews is so much a counter to him it must be to you too. If not then great. Except when someone gets Antisemitic or too mean I am amiable and do deserve better than to have been quickly insulted by you. If I had agreed with you you would have reacted differently.

  39. Rabban Gamliel says:

    tayqoo said:”being called an idiot by a moron really qualify as an insult.”

    My sentiments exactly about you. You don’t agree with someone and then if they are angry you call them a moron. You really are a lowlife idiot moron. The best you can do is insult since you don’t have a response that could stand up to a brain. You started to insult because that’s the best you can do you insecure, miserable, hateful person.

    “what is it about the jewish encylopedia that is supposed to be so frightening?”

    The encyclopedia gives a scholarly review. Maybe if you actually paid attention to the conversation between me and the way you would get it. The way was interpreting everything as bad about Judaism. He even said the rabbis killed each others followers.

    If you can get past bias and learn to think independent of your emotions maybe you could figure out how not to join a side based on your convenience.

    As for you the way, do you not know that by you naively accepting every canard you are validating the Arabs against Israel?

  40. tayqoo says:

    lisa,
    i started reading your blog (lamrot hakol) from the beginning and find it interesting. i just can’t figure out (yet) why you need to be so abrasive.

    • Rabban Gamliel says:

      I wonder that about you. You have been insulting rather than address issues. You are so much into personality that you have pride determining what you should say. I only insulted when you did me. I by contrast am someone who apologizes despite pride and is quick to forgive and forget.

      Lisa was responding to the overtop charges of the way against Judaism.

      • Lisa says:

        Rabban Gamliel, even though I agree with you in general terms, you’ve been as bad, if not worse, than tayqoo and The Way when it comes to going berserk.

  41. Rabban Gamliel says:

    Lisa there’s so much Antisemitism and the way was just hell bent on canard after canard.It escalated all night long. I happened to be up and so did for some reason the way.Then Tayqoo comes along and makes ad hominems about me without any explanations. He was just being infantile and he is too immature to apologize to me.
    I would accept his apology and be conciliatory but he seems to be stubborn.

  42. The Way says:

    I am not sure what articles from some encyclopedia have to do with anything. Although I’ve never seen that encyclopedia before it looks interesting. That being said, few ideas in the world are cut from a new cloth. While concepts I’ve brought up may have been brought up before by others in the last few thousand years, and even if these ideas have been used by anti-semites, does not invalidate either the concepts or my use of those questions. I can assure you, every idea I mentioned, not canards but actual issues, were developed through years of orthodoxy.

    I didn’t need some website to make me horrified that every rabbi answered similar to you Rg, that a women is like a man because she gets to choose whether or not to go marry her rapist. I don’t see how that issue is a canard, that issues is psukim in the torah.

    I also liked the part in the gemara where the rabbis discuss what is permitted sexually with one’s wife, the rabbi says, if you buy a fish from a fish monger you can do with it what you want.

    That being said, rather than trying to tackle the large issues of misogyny and genocide in the torah, lets bring it back to the blogs original post of who cares:

    In the blog orthoprax discusses weiss’s shul which has a side service led by a woman. Isn’t that similar to the outcry when schools like Stern started to teach gemara to women? After all, we all know what the rabbis say about women learning gemara.

    Which leads into a side point. All the left leaning changes that occurred in the orthodox community, such as: bat mitzvah, women learning gemara, openly homosexual religious groups, education for girls and on and on, only came about because religious people went “off the derech.”

    Those changes did not arise internally from the rabbi’s, but they were a response to the changes in time and the demands of the left. So if you prefer the way orthodoxy was run pre-world war, where a lesbian would live in the shtetl in secret and be forced to marry and mother, if you prefer the opportunity for women to learn gemara in a place like stern, and now an orthoshul lets a women run a fri night service: you should have some hakorat hatov to those left jews who forced orthodoxy to adapt.

    • Rabban Gamliel says:

      “I didn’t need some website to make me horrified that every rabbi answered similar to you Rg, that a women is like a man because she gets to choose whether or not to go marry her rapist.”

      That’s not what I said. What I said was that a woman in Jewish law is not considered property. She is considered a person. This is not because of this or that law. This is because that is the principle in Jewish law. I have failed to hear of any rabbi saying what you thought I said. As for the rest I will comment later as I’m busy now. I have seen your website. It seems you are proIsrael. That’s good.

      • The Way says:

        Not only am I pro-Israel, my family and I are making aliyah with NBN in 9 days.

        Separately, people say all sorts of things. Just because a rabbi says that a women is a person does not negate the manner in which women are treated or the tenor with which they are described; typically, actions and attitude are more important.

    • Rabban Gamliel says:

      The way womens’ education outside the home enmasse came because of people going off the derech but this was prewar. The rest was from internal pressure from those who stayed loyal but wanted modernity. Those who left are not the ones who are learning in general at least.

      For all I condemned you I wished you well. Now that you are going to Israel you must choose. If you bash Judaism as evil you give aid and comfort to the Pro-Arab camp. They are the ones providing all the material against Judaism on the internet and elsewhere and they support all demonization of Jewish life and practice including circumcision. You will be out of place to both be a solid Israeli supporter down to bashing the Arab side and having your foot in the AntiJudaism side. No one will accept you then in Israel. Also in Israel you can meet real Orthodox Jews and it is harder to demonize and stereotype flesh and blood.

  43. Rabban Gamliel says:

    The way said:”Just because a rabbi says that a women is a person does not negate the manner in which women are treated or the tenor with which they are described; typically, actions and attitude are more important.”

    Well then a woman is surely a person for Orthodox Jews. My Chassidic grandfather hardly thought of his wife as a piece of furniture.

  44. The Way says:

    I meant the manner and tenor from the torah and gemara not, anecdotally, yours or mine chasidic grandparents.

    • Rabban Gamliel says:

      The Way said:”I meant the manner and tenor from the torah and gemara not, anecdotally, yours or mine chasidic grandparents.”

      Then it surely allows for nuances. While perhaps there are Orthodox communities which conform more to stereotypes than what would usually be encountered in real life the Gemara and Torah surely have plenty of nuances. The Gemara is not even from one era or place. Frankly some of it’s different layers it seems to me would even have been shared by less than Rabbinic Pharasees. To be further fair to the Rabbinic Jews, which is the group that won out, the Talmud is seen through the lens of the the Rabbis, not through the lens of the many anonymous statements in the Talmud without commentary, any more than the Bible is seen through the lens of literal interpretation.

  45. tayqoo says:

    The Way says:
    August 9, 2010 at 2:18 pm
    Not only am I pro-Israel, my family and I are making aliyah with NBN in 9 days
    *******************
    bruchim haba’m, vehatzlacha rabba.

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