The Temple

The Temple

The Temple. It was always referred to a beis ha-mikdash. As a Rabbi, I know my role is to mourn, to commemorate and to remind my congregants of what we lost on Tisha B’Av, and all that we have to gain upon the beis hamikdash being rebuilt. But should we yearn for its reconstruction and do the majority of orthodox Jews really understand what that would entail? Even when I was younger,  I really wanted to feel the loss but could not. After high school, when I was in Yeshiva in Israel, every Shabbos afternoon I would forego the afternoon nap and walk to the Kotel for Mincha and then study mishnayos related to beis ha-mikdash or the karbonos. I would do this every week without fail. Eventually, I even went to a Yeshiva to study Seder Kodshim. Around Yom Kippur time, I would review the avodah section of the mussaf teffilah, both the Ashkenaz and Seferad versions so I could fully appreciate the Yom Kippur service. But, when Tisha be-Av came around I could never feel truly sad about the loss of the beis ha-mikdah. I would hear stories about great rabbis who would cry over the loss of the beis ha-mikdash but never witnessed any. No matter how hard I tried, I never felt a sense of loss.

In thinking about beis ha-mikdash the question that we must ask is do any of us really want a return of the beis ha-mikdash? Do we really want to return to a time where we offer sacrifices. Think about it. You may be ok with a mincha offering of flour but do you want to kill a cow and offer it up on an alter? Would that be fulfilling? Do you want to have special classes of people, so that if you are a non-kohen you don’t sit in the same section as the kohen and levi? Forget high holiday seats, you aren’t even allowed in the same section as your friend Reuven the kohen. (See Dovbear‘s similar observation.)

Would standing around all day on Yom Kippur watching (more likely you wouldn’t see anything, and, at least according to chazal, at most you saw only a small part of the avodah), the kohen perform his duties really be satisfying? There would be no singing of piyyutim, so throw out all of your favorites and substitute sending a goat out to the wilderness and throwing it off a cliff and killing the another goat and sprinkling its blood. Then the kohen goes back to a room that no one can see all the while you are standing about, hoping and praying that the Kohen does the job correctly, all participation and autonomy stripped away and sequestered behind a wall of exclusion.

Some will say, “well the Rambam in Moreh, indicates that sacrifices will be abolished in the messianic era.” True, but our teffilos don’t seem to reflect that. We daven daily for the reinstitution of the sacrifices. Regarding the Rambam himself, his position in Yad is that karbonos will remain a central component of the service even in the messianic era. I know that there have been attempts to reconcile the two, but, again, in reality, our everyday actions, the teffilos indicate we think sacrifices will return.

Perhaps this is why most rush through the avodah section on Yom Kippur, they really don’t want that, they want the songs and the participation. I want those as well. The songs, the community all together, not seperated by kohen, levi or yisrael, all sitting together, singing, that is what makes davening, davening. But karbonos? Do we anticipate their return? How many comments have accused me of being dishonest, but are we really honest with ourselves about the beis ha-mikdash and karbonos?

The above understanding is reflected in my own speeches on Tisha be-Av. Rather than focus exclusively on the beis ha-mikdash, I focus on loss more generally. On persecution and perspective, overcoming and being overwhelmed. I speak about moral improvement, improving our interpersonal relationships, and on finding our own inner service that can connect us. Those are ideas and actions that will allow for us to become the type of people and nation we have always aspired to be—the kind of nation that world has always expected us to be—not by throwing a goat off a cliff.

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120 Responses to The Temple

  1. Miami Al says:

    When the Rabbis want a change in behavior, they find leniency to permit things that seem prohibited (like taking money from gentiles via welfare to learn full time). When Rabbis want to discourage things, they add Chumrot.

    The Temple Mount was liberated 43 years ago. The Rabbis have ruled stringently, including keeping Jews from even walking on the Temple Mount.

  2. rebecca says:

    “Then the kohen goes back to a room that no one can see all the while you are standing about, hoping and praying that the Kohen does the job correctly, all participation and autonomy stripped away and sequestered behind a wall of exclusion.”

    might i interest you in some seats in the women’s section? ; )

  3. joel rich says:

    I focus on loss more generally.
    ============================
    How about the loss of the close relationship to HKB”H?
    KT

  4. G*3 says:

    > You may be ok with a mincha offering of flour but do you want to kill a cow and offer it up on an alter?

    Why would I be ok with the mincha but have a problem with killing the cow? Steaks are delicious.

    > Would that be fulfilling?

    As opposed to mumbling hours and hours worth of repetitive prayers in a language I only understand if I concentrate, telling God what a miserable, disgusting thing I am and begging Him to provide me with the basic necessities of life? At least in the Beis HaMikdash, the kohen does most of the work, and afterwards we have a barbeque.

    That said, I was taught as a little kid that the third Beis HaMikdash will be built by Hashem and will descend from shomayim on a bed flames. So I think we don’t really have to worry about what things would be like if the Beis HaMikdash was standing again.

    • Bernie says:

      The temple is just one of the many goodies to be restored with the coming of Moshiach. I, for example, could hardly wait for the reinstitution of the Sotah ceremony that would finally confirm my suspicion that my wife’s been carrying on a decade’s -long affair, and the satisfaction I’ll derive from seeing her entrails burst.

    • mahla says:

      G*3, steaks are indeed delicious, but do you slaughter your own animals and then cut up your own meat for the family table? :^0 Or do you rely on someone else to do this for you, purchasing your steaks in careful, sterile packages at the local grocery store?

      I think that many cheerful omnivores here in the West would quickly turn vegetarian if they were required to slaughter and butcher their own meat. And I think what the Rabbi is saying here is that, likewise, many Orthodox Jews might reconsider the depth of their own commitment to literally rebuilding the Temple if they had to really follow through on the ramifications.

      • G*3 says:

        I don’t slaughter my own meat because I don’t have the means or the skill, but I would have no problem doing so were the opportunity to present itself.

        On the other hand, I’ve noticed that some people get squeamish when I call meat “cow.”

  5. farblunjit says:

    my kind of rabbi.

  6. AccidentalKorach says:

    I agree wholeheartedly – the idea of sacrificing animals is abhorent.

    I could never have returned to Judaism without the Rambam’s (and Rav Kook’s) statements to the effect that animal sacrifice will not be present in the 3rd Temple.

    Again I agree with the Orthoprax Rabbi – I do not mourn the loss of Temple ritual – but still grieve for the destruction of Germanic Jewry during the Crusades, the public burning of the Talmud across Europe, Spanish Jewry of 1492 or the destruction of European Jewry in WWII etc. Our collective loss is mourned on this day.

    Also – we can focus on the sinat chinam (baseless hatred) that led to the destruction of the Temple and improving relations amongst our bretheren.

    • mahla says:

      Yes, that’s another question that’s important. How legitimate is it to ask for a restoration of the Temple while demurring about a return to animal sacrifice? As far as I know some Jews have called for this, so it’s do-able, right?

      • Teef says:

        I pray for the restoration of the temple more as a symbol of national unity and sovreignty, even as a central religious place of center of worship, just without the ancient sacrificial rites.

    • Dov Kramer says:

      A. Korach-

      Have you ever read the Ralbag’s understanding of karbanos?

      • Accidential Korach says:

        No – is it available on the Web? Or at the back of a standard Shas? I can read the text in Hebrew.

      • Dov Kramer says:

        I’m not sure if it is. He wrote a wonderful commentary on Chumash that consists of three parts: understanding the language, understanding the story and/or concepts, and the “take home” points.

        The third part, which he categorizes (IIRC) as lessons in character traits, lessons in practical observance, and lessons in theology, and has been printed separately (“To-elios HaRalbag”). Although it is the best part, and his full commentary can be quite long, the “lessons” are somewhat out of context without seeing how he explains the text itself.

        The original printing of the Ralbag on Chumash was/is very hard to read. There are 2 or 3 more recent editions (one is in the Bar Ilan Chumash, so isn’t complete). There is a newer (full version) that I think has a green cover, but I couldn’t justify buying another version after buying the relatively recent version put out by Mosad HaRav Kook. The text is fine, but the notes/comments are very disappointing, especially compared to what they usually put out.

        Although I can’t really do it justice, I’ll try to paraphrase (from memory) what he writes. Bear in mind that Ralbag was coming from a perspective very similar to Rambam, in that our mission in life is to develop the intellect, and that our connection to the Creator is made through the intellect.

        Since sin is the result of giving the body priority over the intellect, part of the process of atoning/repenting is to reprioritize, devaluing the physical and focusing on the intellectual.

        The human being is made up of three basic components, the soul (neshama- which resides in the intellect), the body (guf), and the life force (nefesh). The “nefesh” can either elevate the “guf” to help the “neshama,” or bring down the “neshama” by trying to satisfy the “guf.” By placing one’s sins on he animal to be offered, one is attributing his sins to the parts that he shares with the animal, the “guf” and the “nefesh ha’behamis.” By slaughtering the animal and burning it on the altar, the worthlessness of those two aspects are highlighted, thereby elevating the status of the intellect.

        This idea applies to “olah” offerings too, which are not (primarily) brought to atone for sin, but to “come closer” to G-d. By demonstrating and internalizing how little value the body and nefesh-be’hamis have, a stronger connection is made between the intellect and G-d, which is why Adam, Noach, the Avos and even Bilam brought animal offerings when trying to connect to G-d.

        I realize that these words (even if I have explained the Ralbag appropriately) have little meaning to those that do not share the same “beliefs” as traditional Judaism, but hopefully everyone can be objective enough to understand them from the context of traditional Jewish thought and belief.

      • shim (Shimon) says:

        many texts are available online at hebrewbooks.org

      • Dov Kramer says:

        Shim-

        As far as I can tell, only the ones that arte very hard to read are there. And when the text is afew hundred pages, it becomes (at least for me) a real “tircha” (takes a lot of time/effort), and I didn’t think it was fair to make him try to find it.

        Additionally, the Ralbag has a lot in Parashas Vayikra and Parashas Rzav, and references what he wrote by Bilam, Adam, Noach and the Avos. I thought summarizing what I recalled of his approach was more appropriate.

        If he wants to see it inside, I could (bli neder) scan them, and post them for all to see inside.

      • shim (Shimon) says:

        That is true the quality is sometimes shoddy, but I would be extremely grateful if you would post those excerpts. It would gratify me to see the text you are referring to as well since I have not the means nor the current time constraints to go through all the commentaries on everything 😉

      • Dov Kramer says:

        http://www.hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=19168&st=&pgnum=38&hilite=

        (Toeles #10 on Parashas Noach. He goes through the individual karbanos at the end of Parashios Vaykra and Tzav.)

  7. Interesting post. I am not a woman, but I know there is a difference. Try as I might, if I wanted to be a woman I can’t. I can’t go into a woman’s place and have children, but that does not make me jealous, makes me glad someone else has to go through that, LOL!! I think people look at things like someone having a special place and being jealous without seeing themselves for being really special. The Temple, to me is a sigil to Hashem from us that we finally “get it”. We are no longer “missing the mark” and we will not point the finger of accusation and reject our Eve anymore, then we can walk into the garden.
    Just my humble opinion.
    I really like your blog.

  8. Ephraim says:

    It is telling that the only references in this post are a single Chazal, a reference to a well known (due to its controversy) statements by the Rambam, and an esoteric post by a scholar named DovBear. Much of the post is the kind of questions my classmates and I would ask our rebbe’im back in high school. This post could have been written by a sixteen year old, certainly not a published scholar.

    • David says:

      Ad hominem.

      Do you have anything to say about the content of his thoughts or simply want to hate him?

      • Ephraim says:

        An “ad hominem” argument attacks the person, not his words. Now, given that we don’t know anything about our blogger, it’s quite impossible to attack him with ‘ad hominems’. What we do have is a series of posts, which are on an intellectual level far below that we would expect from a well educated rabbi. If I critique a book because it doesn’t have footnotes, that’s not an ad hominem. If I bash a survey of English literature for not referring to Shakespeare, that’s not ad hominem. If I attack a blogger who claims highbrow credencials without displaying any of them, that not ad hominem either.
        Here we have a blog, the anonymous author claims to have studied Torah extensively, to have written articles for journals, and to have surveyed the vast field of Jewish thought and found all of it wanting. Yet nothing in his posts would indicate that he has that educational background.
        Indeed the most telling comment is where he describes his erudition:
        “Indeed, the commentators who assert that somehow I missed some philosophical point or another assume that I hadn’t consider such points before. To the contrary, remember I am a rabbi, I do this for a living, so yes, I have gone through the Kuzari, Moreh, Pesach Kron, Aish, take your pick.”
        A truly unremarkable list, one that reeks of amatuerism. Note the absense of any work that has not been translated into English.
        And he believe that this list runs the gamut of Jewish thought, or is somehow representative? And why is the esteemed Pesach Krohn on the list?

    • Dov Kramer says:

      Ephraim-

      DovBear is no scholar. He’s an anonymous blogger who doesn’t even have the guts to admit he’s Orthoprax.

      He may qualify as a maysis u-maydiach as well.

  9. ADDeRabbi says:

    “Rather than focus exclusively on the beis ha-mikdash”
    Eikha does not focus exclusively on the Beit Ha-Mikdash.
    The Kinot do not focus exclusively on the Beit Ha-Mikdash.
    And I think that many who observe TB would agree that they’re not focusing exclusively, or even marginally, on the Beit Ha-Mikdash. You’re beating up a straw man.

    BTW, if you read my post, you’d see that the issue is not dishonesty. We’re all dishonest and hypocritical about certain things. Most of us just aren’t so damn proud of it.

    • I hope I don’t come across as proud, while I understand this is a public forum, at the same time I am merely sharing my own inner struggle and where it took me. I am make no attempt to flaunt my position.
      Regarding the Kinot, it is correct that they don’t focus upon the beis ha-mikdash, and one can find material that isn’t so beis ha-mikdash centric, but Tisha be-Av, ultimately, is about the beis ha-mikdash. As I mention I attempt to focus on the non-beis ha-mikdash aspects as I find that more meaningful.

  10. Yehuda says:

    Personally I dont enjoy davening all that much. I often find it fairly boring and repetitive. And the Yom Kippur davening? As they say, fagedaboutit. It loses its magic after the first couple of hours (if that long).
    I find the idea of a cow being slaughtered, whether on a daily basis or just on YK, far more interesting than than having to daven.
    And who says everybody has to show up in the beis hamikdash to try to watch?? stay home, say your vidui, and relax the rest of the day while the KG does his business in the mikdash..
    when we had the Temple, all this prayer stuff was mostly non-existent. I look forward to the day we go back to korbanos and skip these boring prayers.

    • David says:

      If you are serious, would you look into the poor cows eyes before you kill him?

      It is a vile double transfer of supposed mystical energy. The transferring of the sins of the Jew onto the animal, and the transferring of the virtues of the animal onto the Jew. it is plain immoral to outsource the redeeming of ones errors onto another living being, asking them to pay with their life so you can feel absolved of your sins or be purified. It is a lack of responsibility to deal with ones own consequences personally.

      • Yehuda says:

        I have. I have slaughtered cows. and sheep. and chickens. far more interesting than sitting in shul for 2-3 hours (let alone a whole day on yom kippur). And I looked them in the eye first. I spoke to them before I shechted them. And I thanked them, and blessed them, for what they were about to be sacrificed for.

        you talk about morality. The post talks about an interesting experience.

    • Daniel Schwartz says:

      People often feel this way about davening becuase it is presented in a boring unsophisticated fashion. Were ba’alei tefilah to know and understand nussach and have a firm grounding in the history of our prayer music, the services would be far more interesting. A good chazzan, is like a rabbi. He interprets the text of the liturgy via the hermeutics of nussach.

  11. A Friend in Deed says:

    I just started reading your posts, and they really hit home to me. I have been a quasi-closeted atheist for some time now, and have been leading High Holiday services throughout. Fortunately, I am not tied to the religion professionally, and have the freedom to do as I please. My heart goes out to you. First, I totally understand why you continue to do what you do, and I echo your sentiment – it’s what you know, a community you probably love – even if not always, a base of friends, employment, and I bet you still find moments in the shul to be meaningful. My question to you is, how long will it last? You mentioned in an earlier post that a piece of you dies every time you hide something. Can you live your life in chains forever? When will your need for truth burst through and overcome the frustrations that come along with having to put up a front, having to present a picture of a person that is not the real you? And will you look back after some years and question whether it was worthwhile? A Rabbi’s work is so meaningful, and I imagine you get a lot of pleasure from many of the things that you do. But at what cost to yourself?
    Regardless, I wish there was a way I could come pray at your shul. I’m looking for a place with a rabbi I see eye to eye with ideologically. I wish you strength on your journey, and I hope you keep posting. I’m sure it is helpful for you and eye-opening to others.

    • Only a Jew says:

      “I have been a quasi-closeted atheist for some time now…wish there was a way I could come pray at your shul. I’m looking for a place with a rabbi I see eye to eye with ideologically.”

      And what would that ideaology be exactly…s shul praying to no G-d…an interesting take….

      • A Friend in Deed says:

        You don’t have to believe in God to recognize that there is often something special to prayer.

  12. David says:

    I sincerely believe this entire blog story is a hoax. You do not right like a scholar who has written in Torah journals at all. Not at all. Your vocabulary, style and knowledge is not sophisticated in the slightest.

    You may be an atheist but you are not a rabbi and certainly not a shul rabbi.

    (Though atheists cannot exist by definition. You can’t know there is no G-d. At best, you are an agnostic-you question G-d, but you cazn’t know there’s no G-d.)

    So, what made you an atheist? Forget Torah for the moment, how can you possibly believe that the incredibly complex design of the world and universe was all an accident??

    • mahla says:

      David, even if he is indeed not a Rabbi, much less a shul Rabbi, this whole blog is still such a crazy interesting thought exercise. I myself had happened upon “atheist but Jewish” blogs, but certainly never considered the ramifications of an atheist Rabbi before coming across this space. :^O

      Even if the Orthoprax Rabbi is not real, and I’m not convinced he’s fake, but anyway … nevertheless, there are really strange moral questions to be pondered here. And surely there must be Orthoprax Rabbis out there.

      • shim (Shimon) says:

        Thank you mahla for finally saying what needs to be said- it doesn’t matter if he is lying or not the discussion is important and enlightening

    • G*3 says:

      > Though atheists cannot exist by definition. You can’t know there is no G-d. At best, you are an agnostic-you question G-d, but you cazn’t know there’s no G-d.

      You can’t know with absolute certainty that there is a God. Guess that makes you an agnostic too.

      A theist is one who has faith that there is a God.
      An atheist is someone who does not have faith that there is a God.
      A gnostic is someone who knows with certainty that X is true.
      An agnostic is someone who doesn’t know with certainty that X is true.
      Most religious people are gnostic theists.
      Most non-believers are agnostic atheists.

      > Forget Torah for the moment, how can you possibly believe that the incredibly complex design of the world and universe was all an accident??

      The argument from, “WOW.” It never gets old.

    • Eli says:

      The universe can be intelligent without being sentient. “Mind” and “intelligence”
      are not synonyms; they are two different things.
      Btw, why is their so much misspelling in these comments? Some are shear torcher to reed.

    • Accidential Korach says:

      write

      • shim (Shimon) says:

        Haha it is at times like these that I wish we had a “Like” function on these forums

  13. YH says:

    Where does the Rambam say that korbanos will not be practiced in the time of moshiach? I have never seen that. You can find sources that do say that but not simply after moshiach, later on (Rav Kook in the kevatzim).

    • Only a Jew says:

      The Rambam actually argues exactly the opposite-they we will have karbonos… which is a major problem for him if you know the reason why he holds we had them in the first place.

      • Dov Kramer says:

        Have you seen the Abarbanel’s explanation of the Rambam’s position in the Moreh?

        He says that Rambam didn’t mean there was no purpose for animal offerings except to wean them from idol worship, rather that the main purpose is accomplished much more efficiently through prayer. The reason why prayer wasn’t commanded as the primary mode of worship was to wean them off of avoda zara, but (according to Abarbanel) Rambam agrees there are other reasons why animals are offered.

  14. So so true. Every word agreed. If I could believe in Moshiach I’d hope he’d stay away!

    • Eli says:

      The messiah will only come when there is the greatest possible individuality of faith here on earth, that is, only when he’s no longer needed. I think Rabbi Kafka said that.

  15. Jay says:

    I have often wondered why I am glued to these orthoprax type blogs and the commenters and now I have the answer. I speak for myself only but I suspect that many of us share these sentiments. And that is we are no longer observant but have chosen to remain living in their world

    • Am HaAretz says:

      Agreed. As I am making a seudah to commemorate the destruction of the beis hamikdash, I am pondering why I am still living in their world.

      • Dov Kramer says:

        >> As I am making a seudah to commemorate the destruction of the beis hamikdash, I am pondering why I am still living in their world.<<

        Perhaps it is because "their world" offers more than just a faith system.

  16. Daniel Schwartz says:

    The service in Temple was not quite as you describe it. Thee was a Torah serice, there was the shira of the Leviim, accompanied by the orchestra. I would imagine there was quite a bit of pomp and circumstance accompanying the sacrificial rite. The “falling korim” must have been ana amazing experience, as described in the liturgy. Imagine what it must have been like to see the red thread turn white and then encounter the Koen Gadol emerge from the Sanctus Sanctorum intact and “know” that G-d forgave your sins? No, I’m quite sure the service in the Temple was quite an experience.

  17. ClooJew says:

    Reducing the Messianic era to “throwing a goat off a cliff” may sound clever, and assuage whatever angst you may feel in your struggle with Judaism, but it is not an intellectually honest comment.

    While mourning the Churban is difficult, lulei demistafina, for all of us, considering the comforts of America and the rejuvenation of the State of Israel, our goal is to understand that with Mashiach we will achieve world peace and unify the Jewish Nation.

  18. Ben says:

    Daniel,

    Do you know of any historical record of that ever happening?

    • Daniel Schwartz says:

      Read the Mishne in Yoma. It spells out how the Avodah was done quite clearly. Moereover, the Talmud in various places describes the Shira. The Mishne in Avot describes how the bowing went.

      • Ben says:

        Sorry, let me clarify. Do you know of any historical record from anyone who was ever there, or even lived at the same time as anyone who was ever there?

      • Daniel Schwartz says:

        I know of no such record.

  19. David says:

    Did God Speak at Sinai?

    by Rabbi Nechemia Coopersmith and Rabbi Moshe Zeldman

    What support is there for the claim that God spoke to all the Jewish people at the foot of Mount Sinai?

    Who did God give the Torah to at Mount Sinai? Most people reply, “God gave the Torah to Moses.”

    And what were the Jewish people doing while Moses was receiving the Torah? “Worshipping the Golden Calf.”

    Correct answers — but NOT according to the Bible.

    The above answers come from Cecil B. DeMille’s classic film, “The Ten Commandments.” Amazing the impact one movie can have on the Jewish education of generations of Jews. It’s a great film, but DeMille should have read the original.

    The version found in the Torah is quite different. The Torah’s claim is that the entire people heard God speak at Mount Sinai, experiencing national revelation. God did not just appear to Moses in a private rendezvous; He appeared to everyone, some 3 million people. This claim is mentioned many times in the Torah.

    [Moses told the Israelites]: ‘Only beware for yourself and greatly beware for your soul, lest you forget the things that your eyes have beheld. Do not remove this memory from your heart all the days of your life. Teach your children and your children’s children about the day that you stood before the Lord your God at Horev [Mount Sinai]…

    God spoke to you from the midst of the fire, you were hearing the sound of words, but you were not seeing a form, only a sound. He told you of His covenant, instructing you to keep the Ten Commandments, and He inscribed them on two stone tablets.’ (Deut.4:9-13)

    ‘You have been shown in order to know that God, He is the Supreme Being. There is none besides Him. From heaven he let you hear His voice in order to teach you, and on earth He showed you His great fire, and you heard His words amid the fire.’ (Deut. 4:32-36)

    Moses called all of Israel and said to them: ‘Hear, O Israel, the decrees and the ordinances that I speak in your ears today — learn them, and be careful to perform them. The Lord your God sealed a covenant with us at Horev [Mount Sinai]. Not with our forefathers did God seal this covenant, but with us — we who are here, all of us alive today. Face to face did God speak with you on the mountain from amid the fire.’ (Deut. 5:1-4)

    The Torah claims that the entire Jewish nation heard God speak at Sinai, an assertion that has been accepted as part of their nation’s history for over 3,000 years.

    DeMille’s mistake is such a big deal because the Jewish claim of national revelation, as opposed to individual revelation, is the central defining event that makes Judaism different than every other religion in the world.

    How so?

    HISTORY AND LEGENDS

    Two types of stories are part of any national heritage.

    The first kind is legends. Included in this category is George Washington’s admission to chopping down the cherry tree, along with his statement, “I cannot tell a lie.” Johnny Appleseed planting apple trees across America with his discarded apple cores is another legend.

    Then there is history. For example, George Washington was the first president of the United States. William the Conqueror led the Battle of Hastings in 1066 in which Harold, King of England, was killed. The Jews of Spain were expelled from their country in 1492, the year Christopher Columbus set sail.

    What is the difference between legend and history?

    A legend is an unverified story. By their very nature legends are unverifiable because they have very few eyewitnesses. Perhaps little George did chop down the cherry tree. We can’t know if it happened. This does not mean that the legend is necessarily false, only that it is unverifiable. No one thinks legends are facts, therefore they are not accepted as reliable history.

    History, however, is comprised of events we know actually happened. It is reliable because we can determine if the claimed event is true or false through a number of ways. One key to verification is the assertion that large numbers of eyewitnesses observed the specific event.

    Why is the number of claimed original witnesses a principal determining factor in making historical accounts reliable? This can be understood through looking at the nature of the following series of claims and weighing their levels of credibility. The nature of the claim itself can often determine its degree of believability.

    THE BELIEVABILITY GAME

    Gauge the level of credibility of the following scenarios.

    Some claims are inherently unverifiable. For example, would you believe me if I told you the following:

    Scenario #1:

    “Last week after dinner, I went for a walk through the forest near my house. Suddenly everything was awash in a tremendous light and God appeared to me, designating me as His prophet. He told me to announce this revelation to you at this time.”

    Believable?

    In theory this could have happened. It doesn’t seem likely, but you don’t know I’m lying. Would you choose to believe me?

    Without any substantiating evidence, why choose to believe me? A foolish move, indeed.

    Scenario #2:

    Would you believe me if I told you the following:

    “Last night while I was eating dinner with my family, the room started to suddenly shake and God’s booming voice was heard by all of us. He designated me as His prophet and commanded me to announce this revelation.”

    Believable?

    This could have happened too. If I were to bring in my family to confirm the story it would be more believable than the first story. You certainly don’t know if I’m lying.

    Would you believe me? Would you fork over $10,000 dollars if I told you God commanded you to do so?

    No way. There is still not enough evidence to trust my claim — because it is very possible that my family is lying.

    Scenario #3:

    There is another type of claim that you can know is false. For example, would you believe me if I told you this:

    “Do you remember what happened 10 minutes ago just as you began reading this article? Remember how the room started shaking, then the ceiling opened up to the skies, and you and I together heard God’s booming voice come down and say ‘Thou shalt hearken to the voice of Nechemia Coopersmith for he is my prophet!’ And then the room went back to normal and you continued reading. You remember that, don’t you?”

    Is this believable?

    This kind of claim is completely different. The two previous scenarios at least had the possibility of being true. You chose not to accept them because they were unverifiable. However this third scenario is impossible to believe. I’m claiming something happened to you that you know did not happen. Since you didn’t experience it, you know I’m lying. I cannot convince you of something that you yourself know didn’t happen.

    This first type of claim — that something happened to someone else — is unverifiable, because you do not know for certain that the claim is a lie. Therefore it is possible for a person to decide to accept the claim as true if he really wanted to and take that leap of faith.

    However, the other type of claim — that something happened to you — you know if it is inherently false. People do not accept patently false assertions, especially those that carry significant consequences.

    SINAI: AN IMPOSSIBLE HOAX

    So far we have seen two types of claims — one is unverifiable and the other is inherently false.

    Could the revelation at Sinai have been a brilliant hoax, duping millions of people into believing that God spoke to them?

    Let’s imagine the scene. Moses comes down the mountain and claims, “We all today heard God speak, all of you heard the God’s voice from the fire…”

    Assuming Moses is making it up, how would the people respond to his story?

    “Moses! What are you talking about?! Boy, you sure had us going there for awhile. We may have even believed you if you came down and claimed that God appeared to you personally. But now you blew it! Now we know you’re lying because you’re claiming an event happened to us that we know didn’t happen! We did not hear God speak to us from any fire!”

    If the revelation at Sinai did not occur, then Moses is claiming an event everyone immediately knows is an outright lie, since they know that they never heard God speak. It is preposterous to think Moses can get away with a claim that everyone knows is lie.

    REVELATION CLAIMED LATER IN HISTORY

    Perhaps a hoax such as this could have been attempted at a later period in history. Perhaps the claim of national revelation did not originate at Sinai, but began, for example, 1,000 years after the event was said to have occurred. Perhaps the leader Ezra, for example, appears on the scene, introducing a book purported to be written by God and given to a people who stood at Sinai a long time ago.

    Could someone get away with this kind of hoax? For example, would you believe the following:

    “I want to let you in on a very little-known, but true fact. In 1794 over 200 years ago, from May until August, the entire continent of North America mysteriously sank under the sea. For those four months, the whole continent was submerged and somehow all animal, plant and human life managed to adapt to these bizarre conditions. Then, on August 31, the entire continent suddenly floated up to the surface and life resumed to normal.”

    Is there a possibility that I’m telling the truth? Do you know for a fact that it is a lie? After all, it happened so long ago, how do you know it didn’t happen? Maybe you learned about in school and just forgot about it.

    You know North America did not sink hundreds of years ago for one simple reason: If it did, you would have heard about it. An event so unique and amazing, witnessed by multitudes of people would have been known, discussed, and passed down, becoming a part of history. The fact that no one has heard of it up until now means you know the story is not true, making it impossible to accept.

    An event of great significance with a large number of eyewitnesses cannot be perpetuated as a hoax. If it did not happen, everyone would realize it is false since no one ever heard about it before. Thus, if such an event was indeed accepted as part of history, the only way to understand its acceptance is that the event actually happened.

    INTRODUCED LATER?

    Let’s assume for the moment that the revelation at Mount Sinai is really a hoax; God did not write the Torah. How did the revelation at Sinai become accepted for thousands of years as part of our nation’s history?

    Imagine someone trying to pull off such a hoax. An Ezra figure shows up one day holding a scroll.

    “Hey Ezra – what are you holding there?”
    “This is the Torah.”
    “The Torah? What’s that?”
    “It’s an amazing book filled with laws, history and stories. Here, take a look at it.”
    Very nice, Ezra. Where did you get this?”
    “Open up the book and see what it says. This book was given thousands of years ago to your ancestors. Three million of them stood at Mount Sinai and heard God speak! God appeared to everyone, giving His law and instruction.”

    How would you respond to such a claim?

    The people give Ezra a quizzical look and say,

    “Wait a second, Ezra. Something is a little fishy here. Why haven’t we ever heard of this before? You’re describing one of the most momentous events that could ever happen, claiming that it happened to our ancestors – and we never heard about it?”

    “Sure. It was along time ago. Of course you never heard about it.”

    “C’mon Ezra! It’s impossible that our grandparents or great-grandparents would not have passed down the most significant event in our nation’s history to some of the people! How could it be that no one has heard about this up until now?! You’re claiming all my ancestors, the entire nation, 3 million people heard God speak and received a set of instructions called the Torah, and none of us have heard about it?! You must be lying.”

    If one cannot pull off a hoax with regard to a continent sinking, so too one cannot pull off a hoax to convince an entire people that their ancestors experienced the most unique event in all of human history.

    Everyone would know it’s a lie.

    For thousands of years, Sinai was accepted as central to Jewish history. How else can this be explained?

    Given that people will not fall for a hoax they know is a lie, how could national revelation have been not only accepted — but faithfully followed with great sacrifice by the vast majority of Jews?

    The only way a people would accept such a claim is if it really happened. If Sinai did not happen, everyone would know it’s a lie and it would never have been accepted. The only way one can ever claim a nation experienced revelation and have it accepted is if it is true.

    SINAI: THE ONLY CLAIM OF NATIONAL REVELATION

    Throughout history, tens of thousands of religions have been started by individuals, attempting to convince people that God spoke to him or her. All religions that base themselves on some type of revelation share essentially the same beginning: a holy person goes into solitude, comes back to his people, and announces that he has experienced a personal revelation where God appointed him to be His prophet.

    Would you believe someone who claims to have received a personal communication from God appointing him or her as God’s new prophet?

    Maybe He did. Then again, maybe He didn’t. One can never know. The claim is inherently unverifiable.

    Personal revelation is an extremely weak basis for a religion since one can never know if it is indeed true. Even if the individual claiming personal revelation performs miracles, there is still no verification that he is a genuine prophet. Miracles do not prove anything. All they show — assuming they are genuine — is that he has certain powers. It has nothing to do with his claim of prophecy.

    Maimonides writes:

    Israel did not believe in Moses, our teacher, on account of the miracles he performed. For when one’s faith is based on miracles, doubt remains in the mind that these miracles may have been done through the occult and witchcraft…

    What then were the grounds of believing him? The revelation on Sinai which we saw with our own eyes, and heard with our own ears, not having to depend on the testimony of others… (Mishna Torah – Foundations of Torah 8:1)

    A BOLD PREDICTION

    There are 15,000 known religions in all of recorded history. Given this inherent weakness, why do all of them base their claim on personal revelation? If someone wanted their religion to be accepted, why wouldn’t they present the strongest, most believable claim possible — i.e. national revelation! It’s far more credible. No one has to take a leap of faith and blindly trust just one person’s word. It is qualitatively better to claim that God came to everyone, telling the entire group that so-and-so is His prophet.

    Why would God establish His entire relationship with a nation through one man, without any possibility of verification, and still expect this nation to obediently follow an entire system of instructions, based only on blind faith?

    Yet, Judaism is the only religion in the annals of history that makes the best of all claims — that everyone heard God speak. No other religion claims the experience of national revelation. Why?

    Furthermore, the author of the Torah predicts that there will never be another claim of national revelation throughout history!

    ‘You might inquire about times long past, from the day that God created man on earth, and from one end of heaven to the other: Has there ever been anything like this great thing or has anything like it been heard? Has a people ever heard the voice of God speaking from the midst of the fires as you have heard and survived?’ (Deut. 4:32-33)

    Let’s consider the option that God did not write the Torah, and its author successfully convinced a group of people to accept a false claim of national revelation. In this book, the author writes a prediction that over the course of history no one will ever make a similar claim. That means if such a claim is ever made at some future time, the prediction will end up being false and his religion is finished.

    How could the author include in the book he is passing off as a hoax the prediction that no other person will ever attempt to perpetuate the same hoax when he just made that exact claim? If he could do it, he can be certain that others will too, especially since it is the best possible claim to make. If you are making up a religion, you do not write something you know you cannot predict and whose outcome you would think is guaranteed to be exactly the opposite.

    However, aside from the Jewish claim of Mount Sinai, it is a fact that no other nation has ever claimed such a similar national revelation.

    Let’s summarize two primary questions:

    1. Out of 15,000 known religions in recorded history, why is Judaism the only one that claims national revelation, the best of all claims? Why do all other religions base themselves on the inherently weak assertion of personal revelation?

    2. If Judaism’s claim is indeed an example of a successful hoax that falsely asserts national revelation, the author just got away with passing off the best possible claim, and others will certainly follow suit. Why then would he predict that no one else will ever make a similar claim, a prediction he knows he cannot foresee, and whose outcome is likely to be the exact opposite?

    There is one simple answer to both questions. A national revelation — as opposed to personal revelation — is the one lie you cannot get away with. It is one event you cannot fabricate. The only way to make this claim is if it actually happened.

    If the claim is true, the people will believe it because they are agreeing to something they already know. Either they personally witnessed it, or their ancestors collectively passed down the account as part of their nation’s accepted history.

    If the claim is false, it’s like trying to convince you that God spoke to you or your parents and somehow you never heard of it. No one would ever accept such a claim.

    Therefore no other religion has ever made the best of all claims, because it is the one claim that can only be made if it is true. One cannot pass national revelation off as a hoax.

    When inventing a religion, the originator must resort to personal revelation, despite its inherent weakness, since it is a claim that is unverifiable. The originator can hope to find adherents willing to take a leap of faith and accept his or her religion. After all, no one can ever know it is a lie. [Of course, no one can know if it’s true either.] This simply cannot work with national revelation since it’s the one claim that everyone will know is a lie.

    Only Judaism can claim national revelation since the Jewish people is the only nation in the history of mankind who ever experienced it.

    Furthermore, it is interesting to note that the other major religions of the world both accept the Jewish revelation at Sinai, including the Five Books of Moses in their Bible, and hold the Sinai revelation as a key component of their religion.

    When starting their own religions, why did they build upon the Jewish claim? Why didn’t they just deny the revelation ever happened?

    The answer is that they knew that if national revelation can never be fabricated; so too, its validity can therefore never be denied.

    Now it is understandable how the Author of the Torah can confidently predict that there will never be another claim of national revelation in history.

    Because only God knew it would happen only once, as it did — at Sinai over 3,000 years ago.

    • Miami Al says:

      The ONLY problem with this assertion format is that Jewish history demonstrates that it is ABSOLUTELY possible to introduce such a revalation.

      The Zohar was “revealed” via solitude, and written much later, yet generally accepted as normative. It came about with a similar story to personal revelation, yet is not considered a fabrication.

      Ba’alei Teshuvot, either individually or in large numbers — modern Russian immigration, Khazaria, etc., have allowed large numbers to adopt such a narrative without trouble. Indeed, even the acceptance of the Talmud, with the Babylonian version holding sway over the Judean/Palestinian version, including in modern Israel, demonstrates a willingness to adopt works as normative without such a tradition and everyone accepting them.

      Revelation at Sinai describes a monumental event, but not proof of the divinity of Torah.

      I mean, the entire earth witnessed the descendants of the exiled Jewish people reclaiming the land promised them 62 years ago, but nobody considers that a religious proof, since the religious scholars opposed the effort, and given the choice between accepting proof of Jewish divine claims but rejecting the current scholars, or ignoring it and accepting current scholars, we chose the latter.

      • Dov Kramer says:

        Al,

        I’m not a “Zohar” expert, but introducing a document about kabbalistic concepts that is consistant with the larger system (and likely consisant with the known kabalistic concepts) is not the same.

        I do agree that the one real possibility is “somehow” omitted; a legend accepted before the document was introduced. I don’t accept this either (for various reasons), but it cannot be described as an “impossibility.”

      • Only a Jew says:

        “the entire earth witnessed the descendants of the exiled Jewish people reclaiming the land promised them 62 years ago, but nobody considers that a religious proof”

        Except the prediction by the prophet Jeremiah (among others) that Judah will be desolate and Jerusalem uninhabitable. That is an 1800 year old prophecy that has so baffled the world that on Jewish return to the land, the entire catholic religion had to ask for a do over vis a vi the jews. The claim of uninhabitable and unproductive land is backed up by the history of the middle ages, Twain, the fact that no conquering army could ever settle people in “the fertile crescent” because the land would not produce for them-exactly as the Torah had said. So despite what you say, that is a historical fact and whether secular “scholars” want to acknowledge that, notwithstanding the anti G-d biases, this is a historical fact predicted in various places in Torah.

    • JG says:

      Yawn. Assumes strawmen as the only possible options. Leaves out possibilities of myth development over time. Also assumes a modern rationalist standpoint to accepting claims. Ignores reality of how information spread and was accepted in the ancient world.

    • Eli says:

      What difference does it make if G-d did or did not speak aloud at Sinai? Doesn’t the Torah speak directly to you in G-d’s voice when you read it today? Don’t you hear G-d when the words flow through your mind? Isn’t that more telling? I don’t remember Sinai although I assume I was there. I do feel G-d’s presence when I open the Tanakh, …

    • Shalmo says:

      Ah the kuzari argument!

      this has been refuted a thousand times over. Judaism is NOT the only religion with a national revelation.

      All the hindu gods reveal themselves through national revelation. The aztec gods also reveal themselves through national revelation. The rabbis who made this claim were just clueless on history and comparative religion

      • Rabban Gamliel says:

        Shalmo:”Judaism is NOT the only religion with a national revelation.

        All the hindu gods reveal themselves through national revelation. The aztec gods also reveal themselves through national revelation. The rabbis who made this claim were just clueless on history and comparative religion”

        Hindus do not claim nor did the Aztecs claim they had a national revelation. If a god spoke and whoever from the nation would hear and spread the word it is not a claim of a national revelation. Mohammed and Jesus simply did not claim they were accepted or had their revelations revealed to the whole nation when the others would say they did not.

  20. David says:

    The Design Argument
    by Rabbi Nechemia Coopersmith
    Does the intricate design of the universe serve as evidence for the existence of God?

    Imagine walking in the desert and coming across two small stones in close proximity to each other. Most probably, you would think nothing of it. Two stones randomly sitting beside each other is no big deal.

    You continue your walk in the desert and stumble upon three rows of stones piled up in a brick-layer fashion. Chances are you would quickly surmise that someone was here and arranged these stones in this manner. It didn’t just happen.

    You continue your walk and happen to find a watch lying in the middle of the desert. Would you suspect that a windstorm somehow threw these pieces together and randomly created a watch?

    Somebody made that watch. It didn’t just happen. Design implies designer.

    DID THE UNIVERSE HAVE A DESIGNER?

    The intricacy of design in our world is staggering — infinitely more complex than a simple brick wall or a watch. Dr. Michael Denton, in his book “Evolution: A Theory in Crisis” describes the intricate organization of nerve cells in the brain [pp. 330 – 331].

    There are 10 billion nerve cells in the brain. Each of the 10 billion cells sprouts between 10,000 to 100,000 fibers to contact other nerve cells in the brain, creating approximately 1,000 million million connections, or, 10 to the 15th power.

    It is hard to imagine the multitude that 1015 represents. Take half of the United States, which is 1 million square miles, and imagine it being covered by forest, with 10,000 trees per square mile. On each of the 10,000 trees, which are on each of the one million square miles, there are 100,000 leaves. That’s how many connections are crammed inside your brain. And they’re not just haphazardly thrown together. They form an incredibly intricate network system that has no parallel in the industrial world.

    Imagine walking by that in the desert! The natural response when perceiving design of such mind-boggling complexity is to conclude that there must be a designer behind everything who created it. None of this just happened.

    RANDOM WRITING SAMPLE

    Rabbeinu Bachya, in his major philosophical work “The Duties of the Heart” [10th century] presents this argument in the following manner:

    Do you not realize that if ink were poured out accidentally on a blank sheet of paper, it would be impossible that proper writing should result, legible lines that are written with a pen? Imagine a person bringing a sheet of handwriting that could only have been composed with a pen. He claims that ink spilled on the paper and these written characters had accidentally emerged. We would charge him to his face with falsehood, for we could feel certain that this result could not have happened without an intelligent person’s purpose.

    Since this seems impossible in the case of letters whose formation is conventional, how can one assert that something far subtler in its design and which manifests in its fashioning a depth and complexity infinitely beyond our comprehension could have happened without the purpose, power, and wisdom of a wise and mighty designer? (“The Duties of the Heart,” The Gate of Oneness, Chapter 6)

    The two most common objections to this argument go as follows:

    The argument is too simple. There seems to be a big jump from concluding that someone must have made rock formations in the desert to concluding that there is a Creator who must have made the universe.

    What about evolution? Over a very long period of time everything could have come about as a random occurrence! With millions of years to play around with, isn’t it possible for some kind of order to emerge just by chance?

    Let’s address these two objections.

    ADDRESSING ARGUMENT NUMBER ONE

    The principle “design implies designer” applies across the board, whether the designer is a Bedouin nomad piling rocks in the desert or the Infinite Source of all existence. Intellectually it is the same logical process. In fact, there is more reason to assume a designer in the latter case since the level of design is much higher.

    Simplicity is not an inherent fault in an argument. Perhaps the reason why some people take issue with this application of logic is due to the accompanying consequences.

    Since the Bedouin doesn’t make any moral demands on our life, there is no resistance to drawing the logical conclusion that someone designed that rock formation. But when the conclusion points to God, cognitive dissonance kicks in, creating an instinctive opposition to what one perceives to be threatening. [See the previous article in this series: “Seeing the Elephant”

    When the interference of cognitive dissonance is removed, what is the objective standard of design that we need to see in order to conclude something was created? What we need is a control experiment that determines this threshold of design in a case that has no threatening consequences. “The Obvious Proof”, a book by Gershon Robinson and Mordechai Steinman, delivers a compelling presentation of the design argument, and describes such a control experiment involving millions of people concluding the necessity of a designer.

    The laboratory consisted of theaters across the globe that showed the film “2001: A Space Odyssey.” In the film, American scientists living in a colony on the moon discover during a dig the first evidence that intelligent life exists on other planets. What did they find? A simple monolith — a smooth, rectangular slab of rock. The Americans keep this significant discovery secret, afraid of the widespread culture shock and social ramifications this would have without proper preparation.

    Thousands of film critics and millions of moviegoers went along with the film’s basic assertion, agreeing that intelligent creatures other than man must have created this smooth, rectangular monolith. It didn’t just randomly appear. Free from all emotional and intellectual bias, in the comfort of darkened theaters with popcorn in hand, people unanimously agreed that a simple, smooth slab with a few right angles was conclusive proof of intelligence.

    When the conclusion does not point to God, everyone realizes that the simplest object can serve as the threshold of design, the point at which one concludes an object could not have come into existence by random accident. The universe, infinitely more complex than a monolith, had to have been created.

    WHAT ABOUT RANDOM EVOLUTION?

    Given enough tries over a long period of time, isn’t it possible for complex structures to emerge randomly? After all, with sufficient trials even improbable events eventually become likely.

    Robert Shapiro, a professor of chemistry at New York University, uses a national lottery to illustrate this point [“Origins”, Bantam, p.121]. The odds of winning the lottery may be 10 million to one. Winning would be incredibly lucky. But if we were to buy a lottery ticket every day for the next thirty thousand years, a win would become probable, (albeit very expensive).

    But what are the odds of life coming about by sheer chance? Let’s take a look at two examples to get a sense of the odds involved in random evolution.

    Physicist Stephen Hawking, writes in his book “A Brief History of Time”:

    It is a bit like the well-known horde of monkeys hammering away on typewriters — most of what they write will be garbage, but very occasionally by pure chance they will type out one of Shakespeare’s sonnets. Similarly, in the case of the universe, could it be that we are living in a region that just happens by chance to be smooth and uniform?

    Well could it be?

    In response to Hawking, Dr. Gerald Schroeder, a physicist, calculated the odds of monkeys randomly typing an average Shakespearean Sonnet in his book “Genesis and the Big Bang.” He chose the one that opens, “Shall I compare you to a summer’s day?”

    There are 488 letters in the sonnet … The chance of randomly typing the 488 letters to produce this one sonnet is one in 26 to the 488th power, or one in 10 to the 690th power. The number 10690 is a one followed by 690 zero’s! The immense scale of this number is hinted at when one considers that since the Big Bang, 15 billion years ago, there have been only 10 to the 18th power number of seconds, which have ticked away.

    To write by random one of Shakespeare’s sonnets would take all the monkeys, plus every other animal on earth, typing away on typewriters made from all the iron in the universe, over a period of time that exceeds all time since the Big Bang, and still the probability of a sonnet appearing would be vanishingly small. At one random try per second, with even a simple sentence having only 16 letters, it would take 2 million billion years (the universe has existed for about 15 billion years) to exhaust all possible combinations.

    Robert Shapiro cites Nobel laureate Sir Fred Hoyle’s calculation of the odds of a bacterium spontaneously generating [p.127]. At first Hoyle and his colleague, N. C. Wickramasinghe, endorsed spontaneous generation, but reversed their position once they calculated the odds.

    A typical bacterium, which is the simplest of cells, is made up of 2,000 enzymes. Hoyle and Wickramasinghe took the probability of randomly assembling one enzyme and multiplied that number by itself 2,000 times to calculate the odds of a single bacterium randomly coming together. Those odds are 1 in 1040,000. Hoyle said the likelihood of this happening is comparable to the chance that “a tornado sweeping through a junk-yard might assemble a Boeing 747 from the materials therein.”

    These are the odds of just a single, simple cell, without which evolution cannot even get started. Never mind the odds of more advanced compounds like an organ or all the enzymes in a human being.

    Shapiro writes:

    The improbability involved in generating even one bacterium is so large that it reduces all considerations of time and space to nothingness. Given such odds, the time until the black holes evaporate and the space to the ends of the universe would make no difference at all. If we were to wait, we would truly be waiting for a miracle.

    For all intents and purposes, an event with the probability of 1 in 1040,000 qualifies in real-world terms as impossible.

    SOME THINGS ARE IMPOSSIBLE

    Imagine you are the presiding judge over a murder trial. Ballistic tests match perfectly with a gun found in the possession of the accused. The odds of another gun firing the bullet that killed the victim are let’s say one in a billion.

    The defendant claims that it is a sheer fluke that his gun happens to match the ballistics tests and that there must be another gun out there that is the real murder weapon. “After all,” he says, “it is a possibility.”

    The defendant’s fingerprints are found all over the victim’s body. He claims there must be another person out there who happens to have astonishingly similar fingerprints. Again, it is possible.

    There are also eyewitnesses who testify to seeing a man gunning down the victim who looks just like the defendant. The defendant claims there must be another person out there in this big world who looks just like him, and that man is the real murderer. After all — it’s not impossible.

    You are the judge, and you need to make a decision. What do you decide?

    In the pragmatic world of decision-making, odds this high are called impossible. One needs to weigh the evidence and come to the most reasonable conclusion.

    Does the universe have a Creator? Look at the design, look at the odds and look honestly within. Where does the more rational conclusion lie?

    • Accidential Korach says:

      Boring.

      Please read Richard Dawkins – The Witch Blondemaker (The Blind Watchmaker).

      And please answer – who made God. Or is it a mystery too complex for humans to understand?

    • G*3 says:

      David, do you really imagine that we’ve never heard of the Kuzari, the silly strawman that evolution is a random process, the tortured statistical calculations, the watchmaker argument, etc.?

      You’re quoted articles even cite the ridiculous “tornado in a junkyard producing a 747” creationist argument.

      Now I’m trying to decide if it’s worth the trouble of fisking your quotes. It might make for some entertaining if wholly unoriginal posts.

    • JG says:

      Wait, wait– is the writer actually presenting the odds of monkeys typing a sonnet as an argument against a real life scenario, because a popular science book makes a comparison between the two? Oy. I would think one would have to try to be that asinine.

      In any case, yes, read a book. The Blind Watchmaker is an excellent introduction to this sort of thing.

  21. David says:

    “I had motives for not wanting the world to have meaning, consequently assumed it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption. The philosopher who finds no meaning in the world is not concerned exclusively with a problem in pure metaphysics; he is … Read Morealso concerned to prove there is no valid reason why he personally should not do as he wants to do. For myself, as no doubt for most of my contemporaries, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation. The liberation we desired was simultaneously liberation from a certain political and economic system and liberation from a certain system of morality. We objected to the morality because it interfered with our freedom.”
    —*Aldous Huxley, “Confessions of a Professed Atheist,” Report: Perspective on the News, Vol. 3, June 1966

    “For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.”
    (Robert Jastrow, God and the Astronomers, W.W. Norton, New York, 1978, p. 116)

    “Our willingness to accept scientific claims against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and … Read Morelife, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to naturalism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow com-pel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we can not allow a Divine Foot in the door.
    (Richard Lewontin, “Billions and Billions of Demons,” The New York Review, January 9, 1997

    Once we see, however, that the probability of life originating at random is so utterly miniscule as to make the random concept absurd, it becomes sensible to think that the favourable properties of physics on which life depends, are in every respect deliberate… It is therefore almost inevitable that our own measure of intelligence must reflect in a valid way the higher intelligences…even to the extreme idealized limit of God.”
    (Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe, Evolution from Space,

    ‘The chance that higher life forms have emerged in this way is comparable with the chance that a tornado sweeping through a junk-yard might assemble a Boeing 747 from the materials therein.
    (Fred Hoyle, “Hoyle on Evolution,” Nature, November 12, 19″81, 294[5837]:105)

    “Once we see, however, that the probability of life originating at random is so utterly miniscule as to make the random concept absurd, it becomes sensible to think that the favourable properties of physics on which life depends, are in every respect deliberate… It is therefore almost inevitable that our own measure of intelligence must reflect in a valid way the higher intelligences…even to the extreme idealized limit of G-d.”
    (Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe, Evolution from Space, J.M. Dent, London, 1981, pp. 141,144,)

    • JG says:

      Ah, two quotes from Hoyle. You might want to read this before you post from him again:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoyle%27s_fallacy

      Hoyle’s claims and calculations have been roundly rejected by evolutionary biologists for getting natural selection wrong, and for getting the statistics wrong.

      In any case, do you really think a handful of quote mining exercises means much?

  22. David says:

    Antony Garrard Newton Flew (11 February 1923 – 8 April 2010 was a British philosopher. Belonging to the analytic and evidentialist schools of thought, he was notable for his works on the philosophy of religion.

    Flew was a strong advocate of atheism, however, in 2004 he stated an allegiance to deism and later wrote the book There is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind, with contributions from Roy Abraham Varghese.

    • G*3 says:

      Flew was suffering from dementia and the book was written by his coauthor, who’s” contributions” to the book was everything except Flew’s name on the jacket.

      Anyway, this and your above comments are attempts to make arguments from authority. I’ve read Flew’s stated reasons for becoming a theist (and even then, it was only a sort of weak deism) and they are utterly unconvincing. That the man was in his prime a respected philosopher and prominent atheist doesn’t make bad arguments into good ones by attaching his name to them.

      I was curious, so I googled Fred Hoyle. The man was an accomplished astronomer, certainly an impressive achievement, but one that gives him no more authority in the field of biology than any other person.

      Science is not a single field of study and being a scientist doesn’t make someone an expert on everything. That would be like expecting a major-league baseball player to be an expert boxer because baseball and boxing are both sports.

      This is getting ridiculous. If you’re going to make an argument, make one. In your own words. By all means, if you want to cite articles to support your position, that’s great. Provide us all with links. But dumping blocks of text in the comment box doesn’t show anything other than your ability to cut and paste.

  23. David says:

    Comments on The Blind Watchmaker

    Dawkins is so eager to disprove a designer that he’s willing to leave behind science to do it. He rejects the existence of a designer not using the scientific method on truth-seeking evidential grounds but rather on philosophical grounds. “To explain the origin of the DNA/protein machine by invoking a supernatural Designer is to explain precisely nothing, for it leaves unexplained the origin of the Designer.” (p.141) “The same applies to the odds against the spontaneous existence of any fully fashioned, perfect and whole beings, including – I see no way of avoiding the conclusion – deities.” (p. 317)

    At this point, the argument reaches a fork in the road. Along one path, it could go forward seeking truth no matter whether we can explain everything or not. The Blind Watchmaker takes the other path, accepting as true only those things that can be explained. A key point to notice is that if the universe had a Designer with both the power and the knowledge to construct it, it does not seem likely that a subset of the creation (mankind) can ever come to posses the knowledge of how the Designer came to be — and quite possibly not even the whole of the design of which we are a part.

    In the end, the statement that universe was not designed rests on this choice of direction. The case of a creating and designing God is discarded as philosophically unpleasant because Dawkins doesn’t want to believe in a Designer.

    • JG says:

      So now, once again, you are quoting a computer scientist/physicist/ astronomer from UNC to do your work for you. You’re not going to be able to play this game well if you haven’t read or thought about what you’re posting about.

      You know the real problem with yeshiva education? People develop the notion of “relying” on an opinion in halacha. So then they think that if someone somewhere wrote a critique of a book, they can “rely” on that opinion and do no work themselves thinking about it.

      >He rejects the existence of a designer not using the scientific method on truth-seeking evidential grounds but rather on philosophical grounds.

      No, he demonstrates that it’s entirely unnecessary. That’s the fundamental point of the book, which tears apart the other lengthy texts you copy and paste, and I don’t understand how someone could miss that. In the section quoted, Dawkins notes as a side point that positing “an intelligence,” as IDers want to do on “scientific” grounds, doesn’t actually offer an explanation of complexity, which is what we are out to understand; it just posits it. As such, it’s weak and unsatisfying as a scientific explanation. All of this, though, is as an introduction to the meat of the argument, which shows why a designer would be totally unnecessary.

  24. David says:

    Ephraim:

    Better learn to spell “credentials” before you attack someone else’s!

  25. YC says:

    Yes on 9th of Av we mourn the destruction of a building. The building was destroyed because our relationship with each other was in ruins, hence a relationship with God was destroyed (even before one wall was toppled.)

    Is it is a day of sasam tefillasi. A day to yearn for that repair (hashivenu!!): repair our relationship to God.

  26. David says:

    “why a designer would be totally unnecessary.”

    Where did the first materials come from?

    You rely on Dawkins who I think makes no sense at all.

    I understand and agree with the things I copy and paste. Why re-invent the wheel when comprenehsive solid info is readily available to copy and paste?

    Every singl atheist I have ever met had a major tragedy happen to them. Nobody becomes an atheist because it makes sense. It really doesn’t. The entire world came by accident? That is so nuts.

    Atheism is not logical. It’s illogical.

    Science can only deal with what we see in the material world. Torah deals with beyond the material world. No contradiction.

    • G*3 says:

      > Where did the first materials come from?

      I have no idea. Where did God come from?

      > Every singl atheist I have ever met had a major tragedy happen to them.

      Next time you’re in New York, let’s have lunch (preferably someplace not too expensive). Then you can say you met an atheist who never had a major tragedy happen to him. Or any tragedy, come to think of it.

      > The entire world came by accident? That is so nuts.

      Creation by magic pixies, on the other hand, is perfectly sane.

      > Science can only deal with what we see in the material world. Torah deals with beyond the material world.

      What reason do you have to think that there is anything “beyond the material world”?

      • JG says:

        >Next time you’re in New York, let’s have lunch (preferably someplace not too expensive). Then you can say you met an atheist who never had a major tragedy happen to him. Or any tragedy, come to think of it.

        Ooh–I’d like in on that offer!

      • Dov Kramer says:

        >>Ooh–I’d like in on that offer!<<

        Is there a "tweet-up" version for those who comment on blogs? 😉

    • JG says:

      >Nobody becomes an atheist because it makes sense. It really doesn’t. The entire world came by accident? That is so nuts.

      >Atheism is not logical. It’s illogical.

      I would submit that I think you are mistaking “counter-intuitive” for “illogical.”

      (On a related note, “by accident” is a term that would need clarification.)

    • JG says:

      >Where did the first materials come from?

      That would be the argument from first cause, not the argument from design, which is the one we were discussing and the one Dawkins is concerned with in the book cited above. The argument from design is about explaining the emergence of complexity. First materials aren’t particularly complex in the way living things are, so–as you phrase it–the question is where they came from, not how they were designed.

  27. Holy Hyrax says:

    >Do you want to have special classes of people, so that if you are a non-kohen you don’t sit in the same section as the kohen and levi? Forget high holiday seats, you aren’t even allowed in the same section as your friend Reuven the kohen.

    Well this is the egalitarian argument for woman’s right in rituals You seem to be starting from the premise of entitlement. You feel offended that Reuven has an extra ritual therefor you DESERVE that ritual as well. OK, so Reuven has another job to do. Ok, so?

    • Am HaAretz says:

      When did this thread get hijacked by those brainwashed by Aish HaTorah?

      Judaism is the most asinine man-made religion in existence. I prefer to back up assertions with logical support. Therefore I highly recommend http://www.daatemet.org.il

      Proving or disproving God does not change the Reality of all religion originating from the minds of mortal men.

      • Holy Hyrax says:

        what does this have to do with aish? What does this have to do with daat emet? Do you know me to even make an absurd comment that I (of all people) have been brainwashed by Aish? If you prefer logic, then read what I wrote. It has nothing to do with truth, validity or anything. It has to do with people feeling somehow “less than” if they are not don’t do exactly the same (in our case, ritual) as their neighbor. Its nonsense. It comes from some sense of entitlement.

      • Gornishte Rebbe says:

        Holy Hyrax,
        Relax bro, I believe Am HaAretz mistakenly replied to your comment when his comment was addressed to the thread in general. It’s not personal.

        I was brainwashed by Aish I have to admit and Rabbi Zeldman was my teacher. I wanted to help them make films proving God and Torah and started looking for evidence to use. After a year of searching high and low it dawned on me that the reason I couldn’t find any proof was because there was none.

        Your comment about entitlement is highly ironic. Judaism is very hierarchical, paternal and nepotistic. It is precisely the sense of entitlement that Reuven the kohen feels as justifying why he gets a more important job, because he was born into it rather than any personal development of skill or ethics itself. There is no career progression from nobody to levite to kohen.

        On a side point I was fascinated to learn that a son of a Kohen who marries a non jew is not a kohen, even after he completes a halachic conversion. He misses out because he gets a new jewish soul when he converts.

        On another tangent have you seen the youtube video Palestinians of Jewish Origin which gives evidence that some palestinians have the cohen gene!

      • Am HaAretz says:

        @holy hyrax
        The Gornishte Rebbe was correct. I was not replying to you directly. Sorry for the confusion. I was particularly referring to those using this as a forum to proselytize on behalf of Aish Hatorah.

      • Only a Jew says:

        onlyajew.blogspot.com

  28. “Am HaAretz says:
    Judaism is the most asinine man-made religion in existence. I prefer to back up assertions with logical support. Therefore I highly recommend http://www.daatemet.org.il

    Subjective nonsense. You happen to be Jewish so you say that. An exmember of another faith would say you are being too nice to their faith.

    Daat Emet is not a serious site. If it really would be serious its accusations would be taken up by real scholars instead of racist sites with his support. He is a classic antisemitic Jew who is willing to denounce in every concievable way his fellow Jews. All Daat Emet is is the work of a Jew who had become a baal teshuvah and then left and now will say whatever he will to interpret things in a negative light and hope no one questions him. He is a fanatic mediocre mind who wants everyone to think exactly him. Before it was for Judaism and now against. He shows ignorance of science and history as well and relies on Antisemites and AntiIsrael people, Instead of relying on him try http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com

    • Gornishte Rebbe says:

      Subjective nonsense yourself Mr Gamliel!

      Please provide 1 or 2 examples of Yaron Yadan’s ignorance on the Daat Emet website? How is he ignorant of science and history?

      Some rabbis have tried to respond to his claims. The problem is their response, like yours, centers around ad hominem personality assassination on Yaron himself rather than the content of his arguments, for which they do not have much to say.

      He is obviously a smart scholar as he was head of a kollel for a few years. How is he any more fanatic than any haredi rabbi? He is doing a great service by encouraging independent thought and trying to stop the slide into greater fundamentalism.

    • Gornishte Rebbe says:

      Reb Gamliel, have you heard of loshon hara? Or does that not apply to heretics?

      Provide evidence for your baseless emotionally charged defamatory assertions or withdraw them. Otherwise you may need to add it to the list of sins to repent for this Yom Kippur.

      • shim (Shimon) says:

        Again it seems the attack is on the current incarnation of Judaism, that is to say Jews and their behavior, not Judaism itself as a practical philosophy based on a theological argument

  29. “G*3 says:
    July 19, 2010 at 10:53 pm
    > Where did the first materials come from?

    I have no idea. Where did God come from?”

    Perhaps you are not concerned where the first materials came from but scientists are and it will avail you nothing to say well where did what it came from come from?

    • G*3 says:

      Not the point.

      The implied argument in the question, “Where did the first materials come from?” is that if we can’t explain where they come from, we must invoke God to explain their origins.

      My point is that invoking God leaves you with the exact same problem. In fact it’s even worse: while we know that the material world exists, we have no evidence that an immaterial or spiritual world exists. So why posit the existence of a supernatural Being who’s origin is unknown to explain the existence of the first materials?

      Why not be satisfied for now with the answer “I don’t know” to the question, “Where did the first materials come from?” instead of adding a superfluous Creator to explain their origins, and then being satisfied with, “I don’t know” as an answer for His origin?

      That scientists are interested in where the first materials came from is irrelevant.

      • Dov Kramer says:

        G*3-

        >>Why not be satisfied for now with the answer “I don’t know” to the question, “Where did the first materials come from?” instead of adding a superfluous Creator to explain their origins, and then being satisfied with, “I don’t know” as an answer for His origin?<<

        For one the answer is "I don't know;" for the other the answer is "I can't know."

  30. Example of science error:Thinking that parthenogenesis is sexual reproduction.
    Example of history error:Mixes up Ptolemies.
    Further rabbia have responded to his claims also by saying that he doesn’t understand what he is talking about on many an occasion. It is a seperate art to be a learner of Jewish material on a secular basis and he doesn’t have what it takes. Further I gave a website, the Jewish Encyclopedia that contradicts his assertions. Don’t give me your emotional ad hominems and then tell me I’m doing that. Your playing games here. He has his site and I gave a site and it doesn’t take much to verify anything. Further he is so not into freedom of thought that he always avoids publishing critical comments that would be a challenge to him and in the past deleted them. He gets scared of challenges.

  31. Oh yeah that comment was at Gortnishte Rebbe.

    • Am HaAretz says:

      Rabban Gamliel,
      Perhaps the founder of http://www.daatemet.org.il was in fact a baal teshuva at one point. Regardless, he knows much more Torah than our alleged Orthoprax Rabbi, and certainly much more than I do. He also backs up his points with Torah. The Torah is one of the most bigoted, racist, and hateful documents ever put together. Do not take my word for it. Read it yourself. Yes, there are some incredibly meaningful and brilliantly wise Torah teachings, then there are brutal, animalistic, savage, bigoted, and sexist teachings as well.

      For example (I could bring 1000 more, but in the interest of time, I will only bring one), read what the Rambam says about secular Jews in the Mishne Torah:
      http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/1181882/jewish/Chapter-1.htm

      This is just one of thousands of examples where people other than “Torah True” Jews are put down, degraded, and made to be inferior.

  32. Walter Benjamin says:

    To correct and add to Eli’s Kakfa reference above:

    “The Coming of the Messiah” by Franz Kafka

    (in honor of today’s mourning and yearning)

    “The Messiah will come as soon as the most unbridled individualism of faith becomes possible–when there is no one to destroy this possibility and no one to suffer its destruction; hence the graves will open themselves. This, perhaps, is Christian doctrine too, applying as much to the actual presentation of the example to be emulated, which is an individualistic example, as to the symbolic presentation of the resurrection of the Mediator in the single individual.

    The Messiah will come only when he is no longer necessary; he will come only on the day after his arrival; he will come, not on the last day, but on the very last.”

    Our prayer today: May this year’s 9 of Av be the very last. May our Messiah arrive when he is no longer necessary. May our national exilic mind dissolve into the garden of Eden that is always and already present.

    • Gornishte Rebbe says:

      May we stop waiting for Superman to come save us and be our own savior!

      “May our national exilic mind dissolve into the garden of Eden that is always and already present.”
      or if you were buddhist…
      “May our delusional mind dissolve into the Nirvana that is always and already present.”

  33. Rabban Gamliel says:

    Hello Am Haaretz. Thank you for trying to address my points constructively.
    You say secular Jews but that is not the distinction the Rambam used. The Rambam even distinguished between how people were raised. These distinctions Daat Emet is not interested in presenting. That is an example of what I mean.

    The reference site I recommend presents data Daat Emet will never present like:http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=142&letter=G&search=Gentiles

    In college I learnt to check the bias of a site and its credentials. His credentials in theory could serve him well to present how an orthodox Jew will learn his sources but the bias of the site betrays his lack of having credentials beyond his ability to learn in a traditional way, a way that he no longer uses. He will say what he feels should be the ruling, not always what Orthodox Jews say and will then condemn on that basis.

    • Gornishte Rebbe says:

      RG, Thanks for the reply. I don’t have the knowledge to can’t comment on your claims about Daat Emet.
      I agree the fact he doesn’t allow commenting on his site hints that he wants to control the message he presents to the world in a biased way.
      If they are not prepared to be proved wrong on your assertions then that is a definate flaw in their credibility.
      Regardless of this, I still say they do good work in exposing some of the vile hypocrisies of the Torah world.

      Who would be an example of a secular scholar of Jewish material that has credibility in your eyes?

      • Am HaAretz says:

        Rabban Gamliel,
        You did not address my primary concern. Not once did I mention goyim. I glossed over the website you listed and I did not find anything substantial addressing SECULAR JEWS, the topic of the Rambam’s mishna. In the world of debate, this is called obscurantism.

        I looked at the primary sources quoted on http://www.daatemet.co.il and the primary sources backed up very well what the author was saying.

        Please view the 2nd Perek 10th Mishna from Maseches Evel Rabbati of the Minor Tractates. This spells out in plain Mishnaic Hebrew the bigotry and hostility towards Secular Jews that no longer wish to be Torah Jews.

        The list continues ad nauseum with clear, irrefutable examples of bigotry and unbridled naurishkeit. As I previously stated. View the primary sources for yourself.

        How do you deal with this treatise?
        http://www.daatemet.org.il/articles/article.cfm?article_id=121&lang=en#intro1

    • Am HaAretz says:

      Rabban Gamliel,
      You did not address my primary concern. Not once did I mention goyim. I glossed over the website you listed and I did not find anything substantial addressing SECULAR JEWS, the topic of the Rambam’s mishna. In the world of debate, this is called obscurantism.

      I looked at the primary sources quoted on http://www.daatemet.co.il and the primary sources backed up very well what the author was saying.

      Please view the 2nd Perek 10th Mishna from Maseches Evel Rabbati of the Minor Tractates. This spells out in plain Mishnaic Hebrew the bigotry and hostility towards Secular Jews that no longer wish to be Torah Jews.

      The list continues ad nauseum with clear, irrefutable examples of bigotry and unbridled naurishkeit. As I previously stated. View the primary sources for yourself.

      How do you deal with this treatise?
      http://www.daatemet.org.il/articles/article.cfm?article_id=121&lang=en#intro1

  34. Rabban Gamliel says:

    Well any that are not revisionist for sure. William Chomsky was a great linguist. His son Noam maybe a brilliant linguist but is biased against Israel and so presents ideas that are the reverse of his father’s.

  35. Rabban Gamliel says:

    I see Gornishte Rebbe that you are Am Haaretz.

    • Gornishte Rebbe says:

      I’m not Am Haaretz but would love to have a beer with him!

      So you would say that a credible academic is one who seeks to be as objective as possible. I agree that Noam Chomsky is biased against Israel but would hazard a guess that you are biased towards Israel. It seems like true objectivity is a razor thin tightrope, if it exists at all. I guess even if it is impossible it is a worthy ideal to strive for.

      • Am HaAretz says:

        GR,

        Perhaps RG was responding to you sarcastically since you were replying to RG’s response instead of me.

        RG still has much explaining to do if he is to dig himself out of the massive theological hole he now finds himself in.

  36. Rabban Gamliel says:

    I am not biased so as to no not see another point of view but it does involve me looking past bias. Another thing Daat Emet fails to do is to distinguish between theory and practice.

  37. Rabban Gamliel says:

    “GR,

    Perhaps RG was responding to you sarcastically since you were replying to RG’s response instead of me.”

    No it was not sarcastic.

    “RG still has much explaining to do if he is to dig himself out of the massive theological hole he now finds himself in.”

    Unless you tell what it is, I won’t know. Just because you find something compelling or difficult doesn’t mean someone else does especially in this case because you seem very insecure. Instead of addressing issues you yet make ad hominems.

  38. Rabban Gamliel says:

    Am Haaretz neither the Rambam nor the Mishnah label secular Jews heretics only Daat Emet does that as far as I know so it is no wonder you could not find it in the encyclopedia. Check out other labels like heretic in the encyclopedia. Further one man’s heretic has been another’s frum Jew. There is no Vatican to declare anyone a heretic under Jewish law. So simply calling someone a heretic in halacha is only a simple matter for Daat Emet because he wants you to think it is that easy. He counts on people being ignorant and naive like you to not look critically that maybe his site is too hostile and ignorant to have any serious secular look at the sources. I did address earlier on secular Jews and the Rambam.

  39. Rabban Gamliel says:

    Am Haaretz here’s what I wrote:July 20, 2010 at 1:18 pm
    Hello Am Haaretz. Thank you for trying to address my points constructively.
    You say secular Jews but that is not the distinction the Rambam used. The Rambam even distinguished between how people were raised. These distinctions Daat Emet is not interested in presenting. That is an example of what I mean.

    The reference site I recommend presents data Daat Emet will never present like:http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=142&letter=G&search=Gentiles

    In college I learnt to check the bias of a site and its credentials. His credentials in theory could serve him well to present how an orthodox Jew will learn his sources but the bias of the site betrays his lack of having credentials beyond his ability to learn in a traditional way, a way that he no longer uses. He will say what he feels should be the ruling, not always what Orthodox Jews say and will then condemn on that basis.

  40. Rabban Gamliel says:

    “G*3 says: July 19, 2010 at 10:53 pm > Where did the first materials come from? I have no idea. Where did God come from?” RG says: “Perhaps you are not concerned where the first materials came from but scientists are and it will avail you nothing to say well where did what it came from come […]”

    “Not the point.

    The implied argument in the question, “Where did the first materials come from?” is that if we can’t explain where they come from, we must invoke God to explain their origins.”

    No that is Dawkins’ argument I believe as to the religious argument. The real argument is that God must be behind what exists in the universe whether its origin is explicable in scientific terms or not.

    “My point is that invoking God leaves you with the exact same problem. In fact it’s even worse: while we know that the material world exists, we have no evidence that an immaterial or spiritual world exists.”

    We invoke it all the time if you include science positing things beyond our universe. All philosophy and religion do is also take a crack at it. Science does not and cannot claim that nothing exists outside of itself. Whatever you consider as existing necessarily as the answer as to where all came from, is the first cause. God is for me simply what you get if you see all in its totality.If you see things partially though you have a world. This is certainly the Chassidic idea. Dawkins is thinking more from a Christian background so he is picturing an old man in the sky more, certainly the Trinity more.

    “Why not be satisfied for now with the answer “I don’t know” to the question, “Where did the first materials come from?””

    No one should be satisfied with that. The mind cannot arbitrarily be called smart enough to come up with theories to explain all but be told it is too dumb to explain the origin. It is arbitrary thinking to say that.

    “instead of adding a superfluous Creator to explain their origins, and then being satisfied with, “I don’t know” as an answer for His origin?”

    But you are assuming He is superfluous only because you deny His necessity. If you believe in Him He is by definition not superfluous. Further it is not that we don’t know His origin. It is rather He is the absolute reality. We cannot picture absolute reality and in that looser sense we don’t know its origin but that is a limitation of our minds. An ant can’t picture a universe like us but it would be wrong to think what it cannot picture is not there.

    “That scientists are interested in where the first materials came from is irrelevant.”

    No it is very relevant.Otherwise you can say “Why say exists what any human being can say is outside of our experience in any sense and so should be forgotten? While we know that the material world exists, why say this previous state existed? Why not be satisfied with the answer “I don’t know” to the question, “Where did the first materials come from? In fact why not say that since we must say we don’t know and ask how can we prove such a thing to every ones satisfaction as to what the mind should allow itself to consider provable, the question is wrong to ask.”

  41. Am HaAretz says:

    Snore…snore…snore…
    Accusing me of making ad hominems does not obscure the truth. The Mishne Torah is available in English on Chabad’s website. If Torah is taken literally, then secular Jews are labeled as heretics. Most people do not read the Torah literally, because any thinking person knows in the back of their mind that this is all man-made. Thus since most frum Jews are in fact heretics and fakes, they are tolerant of others with similar views.

    • Rabban Gamliel says:

      Am Haaretz said “Most people do not read the Torah literally, because any thinking person knows in the back of their mind that this is all man-made.”

      You appear to need to feel this way because of insecurity of belief on your part. All needs to be obvious to you so you can be a know it all it seems.

  42. Am HaAretz says:

    Most people are bothered by those passages in Scripture which they cannot understand; but as for me, I always noticed that the passages in Scripture which trouble me most are those that I do understand.
    -Mark Twain

    • Rabban Gamliel says:

      “Am HaAretz says:
      Snore…snore…snore…
      Accusing me of making ad hominems does not obscure the truth. The Mishne Torah is available in English on Chabad’s website. If Torah is taken literally, then secular Jews are labeled as heretics. Most people do not read the Torah literally, because any thinking person knows in the back of their mind that this is all man-made.”

      That is your belief, not one any scholar has proposed or that makes any historical sense.

      “Thus since most frum Jews are in fact heretics and fakes, they are tolerant of others with similar views.”

      Snore, snore, snore. The Mishne Torah does not say nor does the Mishnah or Talmud that secular Jews are heretics. I suggest you actually read the original instead of behaving imaturely like a fake who needs to be bombastic because you don’t really feel secure in your beliefs.

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