Shimon

I have a congregant, let’s call him Shimon. Shimon is a BT (used to be Steve). Shimon is a quality person, has a good job and a nice family. Fairly typical and clichéd, at least in my community. Shimon and his wife met in college, and at the time neither was orthodox. While in college, Shimon’s wife attended a Discovery seminar and eventually dragged Shimon along. Both were impressed by the seminar and through college and afterwards moved to becoming more and more observant. They became fully orthodox about a year before getting married and subsequently settled in our community. They now have three great kids, all of whom go to a black hat yeshiva. Because Shimon was originally attracted to orthodoxy through the Discovery seminar (I will refer to this type of material as Discovery seminar material with the realization that the Discovery seminar doesn’t have a monopoly on this understanding), he takes the authenticity of the Torah quite seriously. He needed to, he had to; the Torah’s authenticity was what had drawn him into the fold, and its centrality to his orthodoxy did not diminish over time. Of course, most orthodox take the authenticity and the supposed unchanged nature of the Torah seriously, but Shimon was incredibly taken by this concept and unlike some of us, it was ideas, and not ritual, that animated him.

During a recent parsha class, we were discussing Devarim and touched upon the idea that parts of Devarim are repititions from the rest of the Torah and some of that repetition differs from the other sources. In the class, our focus was upon the traditional commentaries and how they account for these discrepancies. Nothing earth shattering.

Shimon, however, approached me after the class. He was troubled because he had recently read that some prominent scholars and the like discount the interpretations we discussed, and instead posit that Devarim is a distinct book written by a different author than the rest of the Torah. This too is not all the earth shattering as anyone who has even the most basic understanding of the Documentary Hypothesis is aware of this position. But Shimon hadn’t heard or considered this possibility before—even as it stared him directly in the face—and it troubled him. He wanted to discuss.
Personally, while I understand and respect the traditional attempts to reconcile Devarim with the rest of the Torah, I find the arguments for a separate author more convincing. But, that isn’t the answer that Shimon wanted to hear, and Shimon isn’t alone. Moreover, I understood that this was no small issue for Shimon, as different authors or differing time periods eviscerates the entire premise of the Discovery seminar and undercuts the basis of how he is organizing his life. There are some who can be confronted with these somewhat heretical ideas and simply move on, dismissing its relevance to their lives and in their religious practice. Shimon, having committed his life to an idea now under assault, turned to me for advice.

So what to do? I explained that there are two distinct approaches, an orthodox perspective and the Documentary Hypothesis perspective, though there are multitudes in between. I laid out the reasons and arguments for each and then explained that, in reality, the two approaches are coming from entirely different angles. The orthodox approach assumes a single author – God, while the other makes no such assumption. That being the case, it is unremarkable that two entirely different conclusions are reached. This satisfied Shimon, his life and ideals and choices beginning to make sense again. With great difficulty, I restrained myself, wanting to ask him the basic question that if the orthodox position assumes God as the author, is it really all that surprising that Discovery would marshal proofs which ended up with the same conclusion as the initial assumption? That is, what is so attractive about Discovery is that it appears to be scientific, a verifiable method of showing the torah to be true. But, if the entire exercise is predicated on a false assumption, then the entire house of cards falls. Or, if they were honest, these seminars could acknowledge they are employing this assumption to reach its conclusion.

Indeed, such criticisms are appropriate not only for Discovery but to many of the interpretations that are taught throughout orthodoxy. What is amazing is that the so many can go on blissfully unaware, much as I did. For example, the well-known passage in the Gemara Kiddushin concedes that from Talmudic times, at the very least, the Torah is a flawed document. The Gemera explains that we are unsure which words should be written with or without a vav or the like. Again, this by itself may be unremarkable but it doesn’t appear to then prompt anyone to ask the obvious question regarding various proofs or the authenticity of the Torah. Or, where did the idea of keri and ketiv begin? How can we have, in some instances, one word appear in the text but when we verbalize the text an entirely different word is employed? Doesn’t this indicate a dispute regarding the text of the Torah? In our everyday lives, if someone handed you a document that was written one way but then told you when you read it aloud you insert different words, would that sound plausible? The simple answer is that there are and were conflicting texts and these are desperate and ingenious attempts to harmonize the disparate texts.

As I watched Shimon walk away, happy, secure and satisfied with all that had transpired, I was hoping he would turn back and ask, finally and simply, why? Why is there this massive repetition, much of which is not aligned with the previous version? Why are there two versions of the Ten Commandments? Why do we need a revelation, a divine, perfect, unchanging Torah? Why do we need myths and fairytales and hokum to keep us orthodox?
Discovery and Aish and similar programs will continue to peddle their wares to and fro, gathering the ignorant and the weak and the confused, preying on all that makes us frail and vulnerable, all the while gathering up souls like so much a cattle rancher. And then they come to me, to ask, to be certain, and to receive confirmation that whatever questions they are confronted with are simply small speed bumps in their long and dedicated service to Hashem. And, I give it to them, all of them, all the while hoping that they begin to question all that I have just taught them. That is my struggle.

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161 Responses to Shimon

    • Jim Kraft says:

      The statement in this essay

      “What can be said with certainty is that honest Bible scholars no longer maintain that the Torah is the result of different fragments edited and reedited.”

      is false. (Unless he defines “honest Bible scholars” to be people who agree with him.) In fact the opposite is true – are there any Bible scholars who don’t believe in some variation of the DH?
      It’s also a bit disingenuous to buttress the argument with quotes from Robert Alter, Umberto Cassuto and Walter Kaufmann (to name just three) when none of them believed that the Torah had a single author.

      Jim

    • Am HaAretz says:

      @Shades of Grey,

      I appreciate your reference to simpletoremember, but this website is loaded with sophistry and its purpose is to intentionally mislead Jewish souls into Orthodox observance. This is kiruv: start the kids/sheeple with pantheism and then eventually make the jump to celestial dictatorship.

      One day the deceptive practices of evangelism and their proselytizing organizations will be made illegal and punishable with severe monetary fines.

      • Shades of Gray says:

        “I appreciate your reference to simpletoremember, but…”

        Whatever happened to “accept the truth from whomever says it”? Oops, that’s Maimonides, and perhaps inadmissible here.

        Still, a Socratic search for truth should allow quotes from “Simple to Remember”, although one is free to debate it.

    • David says:

      The article is a crock of kiruv and (as suggested by Jim Kraft) isn’t even honest. The author states that William Albright somehow put the DH to rest once and for all. In fact, he didn’t and many of his own views are now considered rather passe. Moreover, Albright himself accepted that Judaism evolved from Canaanite religion.

  1. Miami Al says:

    And Shimon and his wife, by virtue of their education, are able to live an upper middle class life as a Modern Orthodox BT family, where they keep their connections, relationships, and values from before becoming observant, and keeping Mitzvot that are connected to something that seemed “True” to them in their early 20s.

    Their children will NOT attend Universities, will NOT have those opportunities available to them, and will live a life of sponging off mom and dad.

    That’s not Teshuva, that’s pulling the ladder up behind them.

    • Holy Hyrax says:

      If they are living a modern orthodox life, then why wouldn’t their kids attend university. I have yet to meet a MO family that does not push for university.

      • tesyaa says:

        um, they go to a black hat yeshiva. Most BH yeshivas not only discourage college, they do their best to prevent it by offering a minimal level of secular education, esp. for boys

      • Holy Hyrax says:

        >um, they go to a black hat yeshiva. Most BH yeshivas not only discourage college, they do their best to prevent it by offering a minimal level of secular education, esp. for boys

        MO’s send to black hat yeshivot? Not in my experience…but ok.

  2. Shades of the Past says:

    Maybe you should tell Shimon that what he has been taught is a farce and mockery of authentic Judaism. The traditional approaches are those rishonim that you taught. Pseudo-scientific presentations are not our tradition and should be rejected as ziuf Hatorah. Maybe the Discovery approach is only as valid as any heterodox movement? If you did that then you would really and truly be serving as an educator. If the believers in the Discovery method leave orthodox Judaism and form a sect close to Judaism called AIsh Hatorah then fine.
    If this BT were still quoting his Reform rabbi of his youth – you would correct him.
    Instead, you are making this innovation into the norm for orthodoxy and thereby losing your own faith. You are more comfortable calling this BT with his Bible codes hyrex, and ways to happiness as orthodoxy and thereby alienating yourself from what you teach.
    You should have said that there are four approaches. The orthodox approach that dies not ask questions of Dvarim, the orthodox approach that finds the liberal rishonim, the DH approach, and the absurd newly created Discovery approach.

  3. mahla says:

    I wish I knew enough about the Jewish canon to understand plainly what was discussed here. However, I think I understood enough.

    The reason my own Mom began to question Christianity was, she began to read higher critical theories on the authorship of the Gospels & was horrified to read that not only did ‘some’ Christian thinkers believe that (for example) Luke didn’t write Luke, Matthew didn’t write Matthew, etc., etc. … but that, indeed, this had been pretty much accepted by mainstream Christian thinkers for decades. She went and asked her own minister about this.

    He told her matter-of-factly that yes, this is what some — including himself — believed. He then took it one step further and calmly told her that the reason he maintained the ‘legal fiction’ of literal authorship in what he spoke about from the pulpit was that to do otherwise just would put doubts in people’s heads. What REALLY put doubt in her head was him telling her this.

    You have a lot of responsibility in what you tell these congregants of yours in moments like the one you described here, Rabbi. These seemingly small asides with them will have reverberations not only in their own private lives, but also for their families, down through the generations.

    What my Mom was told changed life for my brother and myself indelibly, forever. I’m not saying I’m sorry it happened.

    What I AM saying is, I am glad this responsibility is something you give real thought to and that you weigh the implications of what you tell them sincerely.

  4. Accidential Korach says:

    I don’t know how to respond to this.

    On the one hand – peddling apologetics is not good for your ‘soul’.

    On the other – you need a job.

    I presume you are considering other career options?

  5. That’s terrible that this guy was pulled into Judaism by “Discovery tactics”Most BT’s don’t do it for “intellectual” reasons so Discovery’s stupid little arguments are not very harmful just redundant – but in this case Discovery might have actually contributed to really screwing with this poor folk’s life – after all will he really be able to maintain faith if his faith is based on such an unsteady base? – I doubt it but I hope he resolves his problems.

    My heart goes out to him.

  6. Jacob Stein says:

    Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hithchens and similar people will continue to peddle their wares to and fro, gathering the ignorant and the weak and the confused, preying on all that makes us frail and vulnerable, all the while gathering up souls like so much a cattle rancher. And then they come to me, to ask, and I will reveal to them the truth of Torah from Sinai.

    • David says:

      And when they fail to acknowledge the “truth” of your views, you’ll tell them that they’re sexual degenerates. Kind of an established pattern with you.

    • Mahla says:

      Dawkins and Hitchens aren’t out there peddling arguments about the authorship of Devarim, though, so I don’t think anything that they have done was troubling Shimon.

  7. shim (Shimon) says:

    Incidentally I would like to officially object to the unauthorized use of my name. 🙂 (jk for anyone who couldn’t tell)

  8. Someone says:

    I agree that the shattering of the myth that is taught at these seminars can really challenge a person’s emunah. That is because they make it look so logical and black and white when in reality the evidence is gray. The mistake Baalei Tshuva, or their handlers, are making is not growing more sophisticated in their emunah. For example, while the letters of the Torah are clearly not exactly as they are given, so what? It is still no less important or binding, just flawed due to human copy errors. And yes the could have influenced the halacha in some cases when based on slightly erroneous text, but so what? On the whole one who follows the halacha, however defined, is doing the best s/he can and God doesn’t expect more than that.

    • >The evidence is gray
      Lol what evidence?

    • Miami Al says:

      Because the assumption is that the BT Generation is irrelevant. They don’t care about their growth. The theory appears to be, get them in, get them to break ties with their family in a cult-like manner, quickly married and pregnant. Once the family is “in the system,” it gets hard to leave. Even if you lack faith, you own a house in an Orthodox neighborhood, your friends are Orthodox Jews, your children grew up in an Orthodox home (just as you taught them Shabbat, you’d have to teach them “not-Shabbat”)… the barriers to exit are severe.

      Aish doesn’t worry if the BT’s develop a “mature Emunah,” because by the time they think about it, they’ve produced 3-4 FFB frummies, and the mission is accomplished.

      • tesyaa says:

        At least your description ascribes sincerity to the kiruv-meisters. Some would say that they are in it for the money. Don’t baalai tshuva have real careers and deep pockets?

  9. Abe Silberstein says:

    It’s a shame that these organizations can use pseudoscience and dialectical tricks (cough, cough KUZARI) to fool people.

  10. Dov Kramer says:

    >>if the orthodox position assumes God as the author, is it really all that surprising that Discovery would marshal proofs which ended up with the same conclusion as the initial assumption?<<

    You can try taking apart the arguments if you wish, but this indicates you really don't understand the arguments in the first place.

  11. Dov Kramer says:

    >> this by itself may be unremarkable but it doesn’t appear to then prompt anyone to ask the obvious question regarding various proofs or the authenticity of the Torah.<<

    Because it is, on the whole, irrelevent to the authenticity of the Torah.

    About the only thing you got right here was that for those who already believed in the Torah's divinity, the differences between how Moshe worded it in the 4th year in the desert and how G-d worded it in the first and second do not affect their belief, while for those who believe it was not divinely authored, these difference indicate multiple authors.

  12. Dan says:

    Very interesting story. Thanks for sharing it with us. I’m curious, rabbi, how you personally feel about the writings of Franz Rosenzweig. I don’t agree with everything Rosenzweig said, but so much of what he wrote makes so much sense to me. For those–like me–who just can’t quite accept the traditional view of Revelation, the Rosenzweig approach really “clicks.” My personal Jewish “foundation” is much stronger after studying Rosenzweig.

  13. Ephraim says:

    Did this story actually happen? Or is this “Shimon” actually you? More likely, the story never happened. Why? Because as you’ve written earlier, you’ve taken steps to protect your anonymity. Why would you then provide so many details?
    1) You just gave a parsha shiur
    2) The parsha shiur dealt with traditional interpretations of Devarim regarding apparent repetitions
    3) “Shimon” is a BT who was influenced by Discovery
    4) He met his wife in college
    5) She is a BT as well
    6) They became fully observant a year before they were married
    7) They have three kids
    8) The kids go to a black hat school
    9) Shimon had just discovered the Documentary Hypothesis (can someone confirm whether Discovery covers the DH?) and discussed it with you.

    That’s quite a bit of detail, enough to identify the persons in the story- or at the very very least cast suspicion. It seems that anyone in your shul, and certainly “Shimon” himself, can use the information in this post to “out” you. Any anonymous blogger with a little intelligence, would take care not to write anything to blow his cover. Yet that’s exactly what you’ve done here- you’ve risked identifying yourself. Why? Because you’re not concerned about being “outed”. You were never “in” to begin with.

    • Am HaAretz says:

      @Ephraim – Who wants to be “in” with Bible Thumpers stuck in the Bronze Age anyway? Bible Thumpers know deep down they are peddling snake oil, but acknowledging this would be too catastrophic to their fragile egos.

      I also think it is humorous how you incessantly badger the blogger about his authenticity.

      Perhaps the Orthoprax Rabbi is an Aish Rabbi?!?!?

      @Rabban Gamliel – Good work hurling approbations at me full of casuistry. I apologize if I pinched a nerve. I wish you all the best in your academic studies.

      • Rabban Gamliel says:

        Am HaAretz said:”@Rabban Gamliel – Good work hurling approbations at me full of casuistry. I apologize if I pinched a nerve. I wish you all the best in your academic studies.”

        Oh of course I forgive you and thanks. I now feel bad about all the hostile words I gave you except for the funny you’re so ugly jokes. I frankly never realized I could make put down jokes. I did crack me up and I hope I did make you laugh as well.

      • Ephraim says:

        Bible-thumpers, who ever they may be are certainly not from the Bronze Age. The Bronze Age preceded the Torah.

        “I also think it is humorous how you incessantly badger the blogger about his authenticity.”
        Do share more of what you find funny.

    • tayqoo says:

      ephraim,
      what exactly is your point? what have you contributed to the conversation here? if you think that our baalhablog is a fraud what are you doing here besides being a pain in the ass?
      shabat shalom.

      • Rabban Gamliel says:

        The rabbi’s either a fraud or not.

      • Dov Kramer says:

        >>The rabbi’s either a fraud or not.<<

        He's definately a fraud.

        Whether he's a fraud because he's the rabbi of an Orthodox shul despite not being Orthodox, or a fraud because he says he is bit he's not, is beside the point.

        Either way, he's a fraud.

      • Ephraim says:

        The blogger sets the agenda here by posting whatever material he wants. Any content that he posts is subject to discussion and debate. Among the content he posted is the claim that he’s a well educated rabbi who studied Jewish Thought extensively and found all of it wanting. He brought it up, and I’m challenging it.

        “what have you contributed to the conversation here?”
        Note that I have discussed other things other than our fraudulent blogger.

        “even if the rabbi is not who he says he is, he’s not asking for your advice or opinion. ”
        He writes a blog and allows comments, and you claim he’s not asking for opinions? And when have I given his advice? And did I ask for your advice and opinion?

        “why would anyone in there right mind continue to participate heree if they are convinced that the whole premise is a fraud?”
        Please provide citations from peer-reviewed journals and other standard texts on psychology/psychiatry that indicate that such blog participation that you describe is symptomatic of mental illness. On the other the complete lack of skepticism in regards to incredible claims of an anonymous blogger who claims are belied by the blog’s content, while not indicative of a deviant mind, do dovetail with naive faith, gullibility and the personality type prone to the sort of unsophisticated neo-revivalism so prevalent in what passes for today’s religious dialogue.

    • Mahla says:

      But perhaps the Rabbi is sensibly telling a story that happened last week, or three years ago, as though it happened recently. Perhaps they have four kids in a black hat yeshiva instead of three, and “Shimon” met his wife just after graduation instead of in college.

      If he is wise, he is altering minor details so he will not be “outed” using just the methods Ephraim’s described.

      • Ephraim says:

        He gave no indication that he subtly changed the facts to hide his identity. He told the story as a matter-of-fact only deviating when he writes, “let’s call him Shimon”. Any claim that our blogger changed the facts is pure speculation.

        “If he is wise”- there is not one bit of evidence of any wisdom from our blogger. Nothing indicates that he has what it takes to receive ordination, let alone publish scholarly works in journals.

      • Rabban Gamliel says:

        Ephraim said:”But perhaps the Rabbi is sensibly telling a story that happened last week, or three years ago, as though it happened recently. Perhaps they have four kids in a black hat yeshiva instead of three, and “Shimon” met his wife just after graduation instead of in college. If he is wise, he is altering minor […]

        He gave no indication that he subtly changed the facts to hide his identity. He told the story as a matter-of-fact only deviating when he writes, “let’s call him Shimon”. Any claim that our blogger changed the facts is pure speculation.”

        If the rabbi is a rabbi then Steve if he exists can blow his cover. I wonder what Steve’s Hebrew name is if it’s not Shimon…hm…Maybe Shmuel. People where he lives seem to be very satisfied with answers where the answer states what the listener already knows. Not just Shimon but also the rabbi’s son in wanting to know how God could make both the Sun and the Moon and then the rabbi tells him God can do anything, which is what he already heard from his rebbe.

  14. Rabban Gamliel says:

    You tell Shimon that one approach assumes God. Shimon already knows that. You say the other side doesn’t assume that. Essentially you yet claimed the other side makes no assumptions and Shimon is satisfied? You must have an easy job.

    • tayqoo says:

      rg, r u related to ephraim?

    • FriedFalafel says:

      Would’ve worked on me and my entire congregation in my early days. All that’s really required is the feeling that there is an answer and that someone has it. The answer in this case, feeble as it is, is that there’s a giant anti-G-d conspiracy among scientists that prevents them from assuming the obvious, ie. that G-d wrote the Torah. On a believing mind, this argument works wonders.

      • Rabban Gamliel says:

        “FriedFalafel said:

        Would’ve worked on me and my entire congregation in my early days. All that’s really required is the feeling that there is an answer and that someone has it. The answer in this case, feeble as it is, is that there’s a giant anti-G-d conspiracy among scientists that prevents them from assuming the obvious, ie. that G-d wrote the Torah. On a believing mind, this argument works wonders.”

        It works wonders on nonbelievers all the time. They don’t know the arguments in enough detail to say the least, but they are told there is a giant religious conspiracy and it is enough for them to feel there must be an answer for their side. In any event what you said is not what the “rabbi” said. My objection was that his answer just repeated in essence the question. Your version by contrast would have had the rabbi give an answer that wasn’t simply a repetition of the question.

        Considering I’m recovering from picnic food today the name FriedFelafel is not the amusing name I usually find it.

  15. Shades of Gray says:

    “Discovery and Aish and similar programs will continue to peddle their wares to and fro, gathering the ignorant and the weak and the confused, preying on all that makes us frail and vulnerable, all the while gathering up souls like so much a cattle rancher.”

    I don’t see why you see this as negative, if you think that Orthodox Judaism is a force for good in the world.

    A sincere and thoughtful person has the right to question Discovery or any other kiruv method, and may long for the days when there was R. Chaim Heller, R. Yechiel Yakov Weinberg, R. Yitzchak Halevi, and others who could compete with the Maskilim of the nineteenth century. However, Aish does excellent work, since Orthodox Judaism is a force for good in the world, and people who became Orthodox may eventually seek the sophistication and brilliance of a Rabbi Chaim Heller.

    As far as caring for lost sheep, this is Imitatio dei at its best, as God is the ultimate “cattle rancher” and is not embaraased by it(Ezekiel 36):

    “Thus saith the Lord GOD: I will yet for this be inquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them; I will increase them with men like a flock. As the flock for sacrifice, as the flock of Jerusalem in her appointed seasons, so shall the waste cities be filled with flocks of men; and they shall know that I am the LORD.’

    • joel rich says:

      So if you knew the argument was flawed, you would present it as airtight (i.e. the ends justify the means?)
      KT

      • Am HaAretz says:

        Kiruv and honesty are mutually exclusive concepts. The end absolutely justifies the means if you are a Bible Thumper concerned about longevity and survival of Judaism. God knows the Charedim do not work for a living, and the wise Charedim realize they require charity to put food on the Shabbos table. God is not keeping the Jewish People going. The Charedim are ensuring Jewish survival by producing 1000 offspring in 3 generations (see HaDinosaur HaRav Y.S. Elyashiv). The Charedim breed like rats, like mice, like rodents. Disease, poverty, ignorance, and religion seem to be in symbiosis.

        These people are a disease and Orthodox Judaism ultimately is an evil in the world. I invite everyone to throw off the yoke of an imaginary God that does not exist, and discard our Bronze Age remnants that so parasitically cling to our minds.

    • HaMasorti says:

      What makes OJ such a force for good in the world? Is it the pedophilia or the white collar crime?

      Sure, there are some out there who actually care about doing mitzvot bein adam l’chavero. But so? There are plenty of atheists who care too, and I’m guessing you don’t go around calling them “a force for good in the world.”

      • Am HaAretz says:

        Pedophilia and white-collar crime is ubiquitous and is not only in the Orthodox world. It is part of the hedonistic human condition.

        What is surprising is that the Gemara sanctions pedophilic marriages (see Niddah 45a and I included the link http://www.halakhah.com/niddah/niddah_45.html). The translation of the Babylonian Talmud that I linked was put together by two of the Chief Rabbis of the United Kingdom, one of whom was a Mason for you conspiracy theorists out there. To the point, once a girl reaches 3 years and one day of age, she is fair game to be married off by her father, and intercourse with her is permissible. If someone else who is not married to this 3 yr old has intercourse with her, then this man must be stoned to death. It seems to me that the father and the man that marries the 3 yr old should also be stone to death. What do you think?

      • Eli says:

        I’ve seen that passage about the three year olds. But what is the context?

  16. Shades of Gray says:

    I see you are trying to drum up business for your recent post on Hirhurim, where you ask for examples of “ends vs. means” 🙂

    I don’t know much about Aish, and as above, I’m not out to criticize them, rather to say that most productive thing is for others, perhaps, to also deal with those who need a different approach.

    • joel rich says:

      No-I would’ve posted a link 🙂

      but I do wonder about this specific example the most when I think about the issue.

      KT

  17. tayqoo says:

    tayqoo says:
    July 23, 2010 at 1:57 pm
    ephraim,
    what exactly is your point? what have you contributed to the conversation here? if you think that our baalhablog is a fraud what are you doing here besides being a pain in the ass?
    shabat shalom.

    Reply
    Rabban Gamliel says:
    July 23, 2010 at 3:00 pm
    The rabbi’s either a fraud or not
    **********************
    rg, r u responding for ephraim?
    even if the rabbi is not who he says he is, he’s not asking for your advice or opinion. why would anyone in there right mind continue to participate heree if they are convinced that the whole premise is a fraud?

    • Rabban Gamliel says:

      tayqoo said:
      “Rabban Gamliel says:
      The rabbi’s either a fraud or not
      **********************
      rg, r u responding for ephraim?
      even if the rabbi is not who he says he is, he’s not asking for your advice or opinion. why would anyone in there right mind continue to participate heree if they are convinced that the whole premise is a fraud?”

      Comments are made here so everyone can participate. Also if the rabbi’s a fraud I think the atheists here would not appreciate it.

      • Am HaAretz says:

        Who cares if he/she is a fraud or not? It does not change the metzius, it does not change anything. This person belongs in the Reform/Reconstructionist arena of Judaism. He/she sounds like a less sophisticated David Wolpe.

  18. YC says:

    To the Rabbi/Blogger and all Shimons out there

    If Shimon does ask for more- Please introduce him R Mordechai Breuer or if he needs simpler and in English Rabbi Hayyim Angel

    PS Everyone says Devarim is different than the first four books. And the classic commentators had recognized and no problem with the “same” story appearing a few times. I know you know this, the BTs you refer to need to learn more not less.

    • >Everyone says Devarim is different than the first four books

      Ah but ’tis rather incongruous of Devarim to explicitly contradict the rest of the Torah in both narrative and in law

      But apologetics can reconcile even the most blatant contradictions so no worries

  19. Chaviva says:

    The Documentary Hypothesis is dead.

    • Philo says:

      Actually TMS is the one that makes no sense at all, and no promoter of DH claims they have a perfect timeline, but it definitely holds up better than TMS any day.

    • Am HaAretz says:

      @Chaviva
      Do you intend to backup your claim? The DH might not necessarily be dead, but I can assure you that 6 million are dead from the hands of the fuhrer z”tl.

      • Rabban Gamliel says:

        Am HaAretz said:@Chaviva
        “Do you intend to backup your claim? The DH might not necessarily be dead, but I can assure you that 6 million are dead from the hands of the fuhrer z”tl.”

        z”tl (ie. zecher tzadik livracha-the memory of the righteous is for a blessing) on the fuhrer?

    • >The Documentary Hypothesis is dead.

      A whole field of scholarship utterly destroyed in one succinct statement

      Rather ambitious no?

      ’tis perhaps a coincidence that only Orthodox Jews and Fundie Christians still maintain Mosaic authorship

      • Rabban Gamliel says:

        Instead of seeing who believes in DH why not see the evidence and decide the issue afresh with your own mind? If DH is wrong it would not be the first time people propose texual theories for the Bible that are really just their theories.

      • >why not see the evidence and decide the issue afresh with your own mind?
        Been there done that but I’d be happy to discuss it.

        But still without even analyzing the evidence is it not rather strange that NOT ONE secular Biblical scholar believes in unified authorship. (forget DH – it is completely untenable to believe it was written by one person)

        I guess it’s a conspiracy.

      • Rabban Gamliel says:

        Shilton HaSechel:”>The Documentary Hypothesis is dead. A whole field of scholarship utterly destroyed in one succinct statement Rather ambitious no? ’tis perhaps a coincidence that only Orthodox Jews and Fundie Christians still maintain Mosaic authorship

        >why not see the evidence and decide the issue afresh with your own mind?
        Been there done that but I’d be happy to discuss it.

        But still without even analyzing the evidence is it not rather strange that NOT ONE secular Biblical scholar believes in unified authorship.”

        Maybe you are right. Maybe you are wrong but it is never a good argument in and of itself as it can easily be bias. Scientist after scientist rejected black holes just because it was emotionally too much for them. If DH is true a lay person could be able to make an argument that would by itself be able to be called true but it is just a discipline for its theorists. Only what a theorist says will be considered a part of DH. It is a mass of stories from its practitioners. First you have the theory and then you try however you can to fit it in the data. We are told to be skeptical about Biblical stories that at least were believed and in many cases is not in a story style but just sounds like a collection of data. Meanwhile hypotheses of DH based on interpreting Biblical data and speculation often overthrown by archeology and linguistic studies and without any tradition or archaeological discovery of any such documents are considered what we should believe in. All this despite the fact that the texts are strung together from disconnected places in order to uphold the theory. DH is by now so complicated and haphazard that discovery of any books it postulates would be like making a novel and finding it was written before you and was dug up. What drove DH: repetitions, various names of God etc. are now seen to have parallels in other ancient texts that are explainable in terms of different usage of language rather than various authorships.Freedman a DH scholar, himself says this much.

        “(forget DH – it is completely untenable to believe it was written by one person)”

        The secular data does not preclude the material being only basically from one person, indeed their is a traditional religious viewpoint also only saying basic authorship is from one. Authorship did not include all it does today.

      • Rabban Gamliel,
        >We are told to be skeptical about Biblical stories that at least were believed and in many cases is not in a story style but just sounds like a collection of data.

        What does that mean skeptical?

        >often overthrown by archeology and linguistic studies and without any tradition or archaeological discovery of any such documents are considered what we should believe in

        1. No Torah scrolls AT ALL have been found from the period so by your logic the Torah also did not exist back then.

        2. I would not resort to absence of evidence is evidence of absence when you must say EXACTLY the opposite if you wish to maintain a belief in an Exodus. Classic case of cognitive dissonance I’m afraid.

        There are many reasons to think that

        A. The Pentateuch was not written in the time of Moshe

        Read Baruch Spinoza’s Theologico-Political Treatise (Part II i think) for starter’s where he sums up some of the major problems. I’m not appealing to authority judge his arguments for yourself.

        B. That it was not written by one person

        The Torah constantly contradicts itself in both law and narrative – traditional interpretations manage to “reconcile” these differences but not very convincingly and it is much more likely that these come from different sources. However if you are convinced of unitary authorship you will make any excuse out there to “explain” things. But at the end of the day you have to ask yourself if you’re being honest with yourself and if you are perhaps using forced explanations to maintain a cherished belief. When there are so many blatant self contradictions which follow a rather regular pattern – something is fishy.

        Forget the details of the DH and the JEPD divisions which I agree can be argued this way or that.

        Even if one rejects the DH – only a convinced believer could ever say that it was written in the times of Moshe or that it was written by one person. Stop attacking the theory – look at the text itself and if you have an open mind it will become apparent that it wasn’t written by one person. Truth be told you don’t need any Bible scholar to tell you this rather obvious truth.

        I assure you I understand your position because I was once there – but eventually one stops seeking what what wants to believe and starts seeking the truth. I find it rather irksome when people cavalierly reject Bible scholarship – when I myself struggled for years with a raging inner conflict on this very issue – only to finally conclude that Mosaic authorship was untenable.

      • Rabban Gamliel says:

        Shilton HaSechel said:
        “>The Documentary Hypothesis is dead. A whole field of scholarship utterly destroyed in one succinct statement Rather ambitious no? ’tis perhaps a coincidence that only Orthodox Jews and Fundie Christians still maintain Mosaic authorship

        Rabban Gamliel,
        >We are told to be skeptical about Biblical stories that at least were believed and in many cases is not in a story style but just sounds like a collection of data.

        What does that mean skeptical?”

        Well to deny them.

        “>often overthrown by archeology and linguistic studies and without any tradition or archaeological discovery of any such documents are considered what we should believe in

        1. No Torah scrolls AT ALL have been found from the period so by your logic the Torah also did not exist back then.”

        No. The fact that the Torah scrolls exist points to them having been composed some time. By contrast we have no DH scrolls dug up. According to your logic we should accept absence of evidence as evidence for something having been.

        “2. I would not resort to absence of evidence is evidence of absence when you must say EXACTLY the opposite if you wish to maintain a belief in an Exodus. Classic case of cognitive dissonance I’m afraid.”

        You did not pay attention to what I said or else do not understand what it fully means to say absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. What I said was that DH is so much a patchwork of disconnected verses and parts of books that it would be incredible to dig it up. I said it would be like if someone wrote a whole novel only to discover it had been written earlier and was dug up somewhere. In this case absence of evidence is just backing up the claim of a lack of a miraculous find.
        I also don’t have cognitive dissonance about it because I do not feel the need to believe in the traditional account only if the secular data points to tradition. To a great extent it does. It certainly makes sense that it does. It is amazing to say that the Jews made up there history so much that they were not writing or passing down their early history at all. They destroyed so fast their early history, just in time for the Torah or every time a DH book was written earlier records and traditions of history were destroyed never to be dug up. It is quite incredible to say that and deserves skepticism. Denial is easy and cheap and absence of evidence is indeed not evidence of absence unless the process of failing to find evidence contains positive evidence.

        You have in point number 1 gone against absence of evidence being evidence of absence in order to uphold DH. You appear to need to have cognitive dissonance. You appear to need emotionally to have Jewish history be revised. The revisionists time and again have had to eat their words by discoveries of for instance references to King David`s dynasty, to evidence of Jerusalem being a royal and also a major city etc. Further to deny Jewish origins from whatever place leaves the Jews as coming from nowhere unless you can replace their history with some successfully replaced story. The fact is never do we see the prophets say explain it as new information that there’s something called the Torah or that the Jews came out of Egypt. They say right from the very beginning of prophetic history “you know and yet you go against God. Jesus and Mohamed never were able to say our nation believed in us or in our faith in the past. The reaction would have been you liars. You can only forge such a history if you would have the religion making the claim sometime in the far future after the switch to the new faith. If the prophets are claimed to have been living at the time of the formation of the Torah they were in no position to make the above claims if they lacked truth. You can tell people that George Washington had gone to a city he never went to but a big enough claim like the U.S. rebelled against France rather than say that it was against Britain, would be a claim that would be rejected. The Exodus occurred in the desert. The Egyptians recorded victories and only defeats if it led to victory. These mitigate against finding evidence for the Exodus although the Hebrews of which we were a part are indeed listed as slaves in Egypt. William Chomsky the father of Noam Chomsky points to the names of Aharon and Moshe as Egyptian. He points to Egyptian words in Hebrew.

        “There are many reasons to think that

        A. The Pentateuch was not written in the time of Moshe

        Read Baruch Spinoza’s Theologico-Political Treatise (Part II i think) for starter’s where he sums up some of the major problems. I’m not appealing to authority judge his arguments for yourself.”

        Joseph is described as being sold at a price that fits in with his time as opposed to centuries late. William Chomsky and Freedman himself note the Torah’s written in earlier Hebrew. I have read DH arguments. They seem weak and incredible.

        “B. That it was not written by one person”

        What you actually get from the secular data and also from some rabbis from the past ideas is the idea that it was written as a unitary work with some later additions. This is all that is traditionally meant by authorship in ancient times. For instance the view that says that Moshe wrote most of the Torah with a little written by Yehoshua still says Moshe wrote the Torah. There were no copyrights in those days so the concept of authorship was a bit different.

        “The Torah constantly contradicts itself in both law and narrative – traditional interpretations manage to “reconcile” these differences but not very convincingly and it is much more likely that these come from different sources. However if you are convinced of unitary authorship you will make any excuse out there to “explain” things. But at the end of the day you have to ask yourself if you’re being honest with yourself and if you are perhaps using forced explanations to maintain a cherished belief. When there are so many blatant self contradictions which follow a rather regular pattern – something is fishy.”

        DH makes loads of contradictions for the Bible by breaking apart apart the text, by declaring contradictions hastily and by not understanding ancient writing styles. We see the same things in other peoples ancient texts as we see in Biblical texts and they are not declared separate texts. Also if you see contradictions in a text you can say maybe there are typos and that we see what was actually meant by the context. Certainly with ancient writing styles and language if one is ignorant enough as DH theorists were one can see contradictions more easily that are not there instead of saying the texts are, assuming you see context. For instance in really ancient Hebrew seen in the Torah the present tense can be used with determination of present and future tense from context. The Talmud is written in another style that depends greatly on context if one wishes to get its literal meaning or the meanings ascribed to it by the rabbis.

        “Forget the details of the DH and the JEPD divisions which I agree can be argued this way or that.”

        Most of the arguments you need for your case depend on DH and the JEPD divisions.

        “I assure you I understand your position because I was once there – but eventually one stops seeking what what wants to believe and starts seeking the truth.”

        It seems you are emotionally attached to not believing in the unity of the Torah. You do not understand my position because I am willing to say that the secular data does not fully support the traditional view. You are the one who appears to be biased. I would suggest to do as I have done. Read both sides with an open mind as to what the secular evidence would conclude.

      • I was going to respond but since you used a sort of Kuzari argument I realized it was a waste of time.

        Also you’re petty ad hominem accusations that “I’m emotionally attached to not believing in the unity of the Torah.” show that you’re not interested in a discussion. I actually find that quite offensive since I literally struggled to maintain belief in the unity of the Torah and after weighing the evidence sadly concluded what I did. I’m always HAPPY to be proven wrong but you’re clearly not in a position to even have a basic argument.

      • Rabban Gamliel says:

        Shilton HaSechel:”I was going to respond but since you used a sort of Kuzari argument I realized it was a waste of time.”

        Label an argument and then ignore it.

        “Also you’re petty ad hominem accusations that “I’m emotionally attached to not believing in the unity of the Torah.” show that you’re not interested in a discussion. I actually find that quite offensive since I literally struggled to maintain belief in the unity of the Torah and after weighing the evidence sadly concluded what I did.”

        I said you probably are emotionally attached. But you were the one telling me I am being emotionally attached. I too have done reading and weighed the evidence and you assumed I was not.

        “I’m always HAPPY to be proven wrong but you’re clearly not in a position to even have a basic argument.”

        You are giving an ad hominem argument rather than address point after point I raised including mentioning William Chomsky and Freedman. You still nonetheless want me to think you are interested in truth.

      • Firstly if you still think the Kuzari argument is good then you clearly have not been paying attention to the J-blogosphere for the last 5 years.

        There is TONS of material against it. I unfortunately don’t have the patience to rehash all of it. If you want links then just ask.

        If you want to do this POINT BY POINT then email me shiltonhasechel@gmail.com, I will try my best to address everything you raise but you have to want to know the TRUTH and not have any a priori convictions as to what the truth is.

      • Miami Al says:

        Can’t both be “true?”

        The DH doesn’t undermine the central claim of Judaism, that Moshe, an Egyptian Prince, let (some) Israelites out of Egyptian slavery and into a nation in Canaan and establishing the Jewish narrative.

        The different narratives in the Torah, pulled apart in DH, are pretty minor in the scheme of things, the general story is the same.

        Even if the Torah started unified, it easily could have diverged to different chunks of the Israelite nation and been recombined.

        Either the Torah dates back a a pre-
        Fist Jewish Commonwealth era or it does not. If Ezra created the Torah and invested the religion, it would have a unified authorship. The idea that over the centuries, Judah, Israel, and the Kohanim would have slightly different Torah’s in slightly different language isn’t terrible absurd, assuming the system of scribal copying is a later invention.

        Indeed if the Israelites all maintained a unified “Legend of Moshe” in their own dialect that was then recombined, I fail to see how that undermines, in any real sense of the word, Judaism and it’s Halachic core.

        I mean, most American Jews won’t eat Peanuts on Pesach because over the past 30 years people have claimed that they are “Kitniyot,” based on a Franco-German food storage issue a few hundred years ago.

        A redacted 2200 year old Torah, a unified 2500 or 3500 Torah, what’s really the difference? I’m not sure that it matters other than “bragging” rights over the Christians being reduced to a 500 year edge instead of 800 or 1000 years.

        The most extreme claim: even if the Israelite tribes worshiped different gods and all claimed that it was the G-d of Israel and creator of the universe, how does that really matter? They were all claiming to worship the G-d of Israel that Moshe served, so isn’t really different names for the same God, even if they fought wars over the differences?

      • Rabban Gamliel says:

        Shilton HaSechel said:”Firstly if you still think the Kuzari argument is good then you clearly have not been paying attention to the J-blogosphere for the last 5 years.

        There is TONS of material against it. I unfortunately don’t have the patience to rehash all of it. If you want links then just ask.”

        I wasn’t making at least what the area of the J-blogosphere you refer to calls the Kuzari argument.

        “If you want to do this POINT BY POINT then email me shiltonhasechel@gmail.com, I will try my best to address everything you raise but you have to want to know the TRUTH and not have any a priori convictions as to what the truth is.”

        I would say this of you rather.

      • >i would say this of you rather

        Except that I have no reason to accept any truth as a priori true while you might possibly fear being forced intellectually to give up cherished beliefs. So which of us is more biased…

        But like I said if you want to do this properly email me….

      • Rabban Gamliel says:

        >i would say this of you rather
        Except that I have no reason to accept any truth as a prior”

        Wrong you have your cherished beliefs. It is a need on your part to be identified with the opposite side and it would be too much for you to have an open mind. This is apparent by your emotional behavior, dismismivedodging behavior.

        “while you might possibly fear being forced intellectually to give up cherished beliefs.”

        I already explained that I do not mind and even say that the secular data points partially against the religous view of texual history.

        “So which of us is more biased…”

        You.

      • I already explained that I’m not DISMISSING your arguments but rather feel that they have been dealt with adequately but PLEASE by all means let’s have a rational discussion about it.

        So for argument’s sake FINE neither of us is biased or we’re both biased etc. Let’s leave behind all ad hominem accusations/assertions and start with a clean slate.

        It is my personal conclusion after many years of thought (and after being raised to believe in TMS) that Orthodox TMS is untenable (Whether the alternative is the detailed Documentary Hypothesis is a completely different question)

        If you would like to discuss THAT let’s go…

      • Rabban Gamliel says:

        Shilton HaSechel:”I already explained that I’m not DISMISSING your arguments but rather feel that they have been dealt with adequately but PLEASE by all means let’s have a rational discussion about it.

        So for argument’s sake FINE neither of us is biased or we’re both biased etc. Let’s leave behind all ad hominem accusations/assertions and start with a clean slate.

        It is my personal conclusion after many years of thought (and after being raised to believe in TMS) that Orthodox TMS is untenable (Whether the alternative is the detailed Documentary Hypothesis is a completely different question)

        If you would like to discuss THAT let’s go…”

        Ok I appreciate starting from ground zero. As for emailing maybe I will do it some day when I have more time.

      • Looking forward 😉

    • David says:

      Finish the sentence, Chaviva… “The Documentary Hypothesis is dead”
      …because that’s what they told me at Aish.
      …because the Kuzari just “feels” nicer to me.
      …because it has been soundly refuted by [fill in the blank]
      …because the Orthodox don’t believe it, and nobody else counts.
      …?

      • Rabban Gamliel says:

        David said:”Finish the sentence, Chaviva… “The Documentary Hypothesis is dead”
        …because that’s what they told me at Aish.
        …because the Kuzari just “feels” nicer to me.
        …because it has been soundly refuted by [fill in the blank]
        …because the Orthodox don’t believe it, and nobody else counts.
        …?”

        A strawman argument gives to your opponents a weak argument. They can do the same with you.

  20. JG says:

    Did you know that “AISH HATORAH DISCOVERY SEMINAR” can be anagrammed to “AHA! IN–DISCOVER A HORSESH*T ARMY”

    No conclusions. Just an observation.

    • JG says:

      (The asterisk is not part of the original anagram, of course, which is a perfect one.)

      • mahla says:

        I’m totally unfamiliar with Discovery and I wish I had a better knowledge of their “tactics” etc. Wikipedia avails me of nothing. :^( Will anyone explain what exactly they’re doing?

      • Mahla,
        It’s a seminar which presents the same old AishHatorah/Rabbi Gottlieb crap using Kuzari proof-type sophistry

        this kind of stuff:
        http://www.simpletoremember.com/
        http://www.dovidgottlieb.com/

      • Dov Kramer says:

        Mahla,

        Aish HaTorah runs “Discovery” seminars (and other “kiruv” organizations, organizations that try to bring Jews back to their heritage run similar programs) that use what they consider rational, logical, and even disproof-proof arguments to convince them that traditional Judaism makes more sense than any other belief (or non-belief) system.

  21. Alex says:

    Dear Rabbi,

    Thanks for your post.

    As an Eastern Orthodox Christian, one thing I am glad about is that we are not afraid of affirming the human element in the creation of the Holy Scriptures. That means accepting all sorts of things, including the human limitations surrounding each particular author. It is totally possible to affirm the human element of authorship while also affirming the Divine authorship, if you see the Holy Scriptures as the testimony of those who have seen and walked with God.

    I kind of feel like this idea to ‘prove’ that the Torah is divine (ex. Kuzari principle) is rooted in insecurity.

  22. tayqoo says:

    Rabban Gamliel says:
    July 23, 2010 at 3:00 pm
    The rabbi’s either a fraud or not.

    Dov Kramer says:
    July 23, 2010 at 5:39 pm
    >>The rabbi’s either a fraud or not.<<

    He's definately a fraud.

    Whether he's a fraud because he's the rabbi of an Orthodox shul despite not being Orthodox, or a fraud because he says he is bit he's not, is beside the point.

    Either way, he's a fraud.
    ************************************
    what's with this obssession with his being a fraud?
    he is or he isn't.
    if he is, then what is your interest in being here? are you trying to protect the blogosphere from fraudulant atheist rabbis? your time would be better spent chasing down real fraudulant non-atheist rabbis. unfortunately, there are more than enough of those around.
    if he isn't, then there are many very real important and interesting issues to discuss.

    • Rabban Gamliel says:

      If every fielde can have frauds and it doesn’t matter then we should concentrate on other things. If someone was pretending to be an atheist, would you care?

    • Dov Kramer says:

      Tayqoo-

      I was just responding to RG’s wondering if he’s a fraud, and pointing out that either way, he is.

      I find it fascinating that many here have alluded to reasons why they don’t/can’t accept traditional Judaism, but have yet to see any specifics. I’m hanging around to see if that changes. Yes, I’ve seen/read references to “discrepencies,” but nothing specific.

      Hmmm. I wonder why.

  23. tayqoo says:

    Ephraim says:
    July 24, 2010 at 7:57 pm
    The blogger sets the agenda here by posting whatever material he wants. Any content that he posts is subject to discussion and debate. Among the content he posted is the claim that he’s a well educated rabbi who studied Jewish Thought extensively and found all of it wanting. He brought it up, and I’m challenging it.

    “what have you contributed to the conversation here?”
    Note that I have discussed other things other than our fraudulent blogger.

    “even if the rabbi is not who he says he is, he’s not asking for your advice or opinion. ”
    He writes a blog and allows comments, and you claim he’s not asking for opinions? And when have I given his advice? And did I ask for your advice and opinion?

    “why would anyone in there right mind continue to participate heree if they areconvinced that the whole premise is a fraud?”
    Please provide citations from peer-reviewed journals and other standard texts on psychology/psychiatry that indicate that such blog participation that you describe is symptomatic of mental illness. On the other the complete lack of skepticism in regards to incredible claims of an anonymous blogger who claims are belied by the blog’s content, while not indicative of a deviant mind, do dovetail with naive faith, gullibility and the personality type prone to the sort of unsophisticated neo-revivalism so prevalent in what passes for today’s religious dialogue.
    *******************************
    shavua tov ephraim,
    i didn’t realize that you are a ‘lontzmon’.
    technically you are right. it’s an open blog and unless he moderates the comments you are free to say anything you want. i could be wrong but i don’t think that baalhablog’s purpose in starting the blog was to discuss his career options. someone starts off his adult life with a certain set of beliefs and goals and, suddenly for some and more slowly for others, comes to the conclusion that they have been sold a ‘bill of goods’. that’s very painful. how to deal with that pain is a serious existential question. is any of that ‘bill of goods’ salvagable? is it so hard to believe that there may be rabbis out there that are too afraid to come out of the closet? i myself suspect that i know a few after speaking to them about my own scepticism.
    i’m not really interested in getting into a pissing contest with you but i don’t remember your contributing much to the discussion here except your incessant comments about how the baalhablog is fraud . i heard you loud and clear, you are convinced that he is a fraud. you said that more than once in no uncertain terms. so what!
    as far as my providing you with citations from peer reviewed journals regarding your symptoms of mental illness i’ll go with my gut feeling.
    wishing you a hachlama mehira and a shavua tov.

    • Ephraim says:

      “but i don’t think that baalhablog’s purpose in starting the blog was to discuss his career options. ”

      What career options? What career? We know nothing about the blogger! How can we attribute his motivation if we don’t know who he is?

      “but i don’t remember your contributing much to the discussion here”
      Then go back and read the previous comments. Don’t assume when you can easily verify the fact yourself.

      “is it so hard to believe that there may be rabbis out there that are too afraid to come out of the closet? ”

      Again, please go back and reread the earlier comments: I’ve said it before here, and I’ll say it again. That there could be such rabbis out there, is beyond a doubt. I have second hand knowledge of such a case. Historically, all you have to do is study the uncensored (or rather unromanticized) history of the major 19th century yeshivas and you’ll find more.
      I’ve said it before here, and I’ll say it again. I believe the blogger is a fraud, because he hasn’t displayed the erudition he claim. This latest post is further evidence since it provides information that would lead back to him- if he actually exists. And yet, in an earlier post, our blogger claims he has taken steps to hide his identity. And now he tells a revealing tale with the only disclaimer that “Shimon” is an assumed name. Only someone who has no fear of exposure would expose himself like that.

  24. bob says:

    What commentators did you teach that say devarim had a separate author?

    certainly not an orthodox one! probably a name not heard in an orthodox shul..

    was it a secular commentator?

    if you’re teaching in an orthodox shul, there are certain ssumptions you make. You don’t teach DH! Anyhow, the explanations offered by DH or traditional, are very speculative. Neither may be good enough to be convincing, But DH make a whole amendment to theological understanding out of it.

  25. tayqoo says:

    rg,
    so are you pestering the baalhablog as a public service for the atheists?

    • Rabban Gamliel says:

      tayqoo said:”rg,
      so are you pestering the baalhablog as a public service for the atheists?”

      It appears asking for proof when it doesn’t suit you is pestering. I have a feeling you do not want to have him exposed as anything other than what he says he is. I am doing what I am doing because I feel like it without any grand schemes but even if I did it doesn’t change facts. You though seem to have an emotional need to believe him so whoever introduces skepticism has to be silenced.

  26. tayqoo says:

    Rabban Gamliel says:
    July 25, 2010 at 4:06 am
    If every fielde can have frauds and it doesn’t matter then we should concentrate on other things. If someone was pretending to be an atheist, would you care?
    ***********************
    let’s say that he is the pope, why should i care?
    i’m not accepting his hashkafa because of who he claims he is or isn’t.
    i can identify with his situation which why this blog could be interesting (in only the jackals would stop nipping all the time).

    • Rabban Gamliel says:

      So he could be lying to you and you don’t mind. Well I do. Yes I am doing it for the atheists as well.

      • OTD says:

        I wouldn’t give a crap if he’s a fraud.

        But he isn’t.

      • Rabban Gamliel says:

        OTD added a new comment to the post Shimon.

        RG said:”So he could be lying to you and you don’t mind. Well I do. Yes I am doing it for the atheists as well.”

        OTD said:”I wouldn’t give a crap if he’s a fraud.

        But he isn’t.”

        Based on what do you say that despite us skeptics objections and the perhaps doubts of those who say they don’t care?

      • Dov Kramer says:

        OTD,

        You don’t think being the religious leader of a congregation while not believing in the religion is fraudulent?

      • Rabban Gamliel says:

        Dov Kramer said:”In response to Rabban Gamliel “So he could be lying to you and you don’t mind. Well I do. Yes I am doing it for the atheists as well.”

        “OTD,

        You don’t think being the religious leader of a congregation while not believing in the religion is fraudulent?”

        I do think it is fraudulent.

    • Dov Kramer says:

      >>i can identify with his situation which why this blog could be interesting (in only the jackals would stop nipping all the time).<<

      If I understand you correctly, you are/were hoping that this blog would not be a discussion about the merits of Orthopraxy, but about how to deal with being Orthoprax. And those questioning the underlying notion of acting one way while believing another is getting in the way of having such a discussion.

      While this dischotomy is certainly a part of this blog, it is not the only part. Allusions to why he has this dicotomy indicate that this is part of the discussion (although I suspect other motives at work here).

      The fact that the "baalhablog" asked me to restate the Aish argument he claimed was dependant on the assumption of G-d's existance and/or dictating the Torah strongly indicates that he either wants, or is okay with, discussing the underlying assumptions s/o who is Orthoprax makes.

  27. tayqoo says:

    I find it fascinating that many here have alluded to reasons why they don’t/can’t accept traditional Judaism, but have yet to see any specifics. I’m hanging around to see if that changes. Yes, I’ve seen/read references to “discrepencies,” but nothing specific.

    Hmmm. I wonder why.
    ************************
    dov,
    you can stop wondering. it’s for the same reason that i cannot accept scientology, mormonism, voodoo, islam and christianity to name a few. they all make claims that are incredible unless you want to believe the incredible claims.
    the last thing that i want to do is convince you or anyone not to be frum. we all choose a way of life that “floats our boat”. we just should be careful that we don’t float our boat by sinking someone else’s. that’s the koontz.

    • Dov Kramer says:

      >>we just should be careful that we don’t float our boat by sinking someone else’s.<<

      That's very commendable, and explains why you won't (although I think you have my email address, if you want to discuss it privately).

      Many, if not most OPs or OTDs that comment here are very vocal about tradional Judaism being problematic. I don't sense that they share this concern.

  28. tayqoo says:

    Rabban Gamliel says:
    July 25, 2010 at 9:37 am
    tayqoo said:”rg,
    so are you pestering the baalhablog as a public service for the atheists?”

    It appears asking for proof when it doesn’t suit you is pestering. I have a feeling you do not want to have him exposed as anything other than what he says he is. I am doing what I am doing because I feel like it without any grand schemes but even if I did it doesn’t change facts. You though seem to have an emotional need to believe him so whoever introduces skepticism has to be silenced.
    ********************
    rg,
    why do you need proof? what’s wrong with a leap of faith? i, personally don’t care if he is an atheist rabbi or the pope.
    you used to pull the same crap with other bloggers (xgh, baalhabos) to the extent that you were banned.

    • Rabban Gamliel says:

      I did not say people were fake. Also I was only banned by XGH and that was because he wasn’t fond of critiques and would ban dissenters. In any event we patched things up. He’s not going to be nasty to commentators. At least that’s his plan. As for a leap of faith we have our leaps of faith based on what feels true to us. You have what you will leap for and I have what I will leap for.

  29. tayqoo says:

    Dov Kramer says:
    July 25, 2010 at 12:52 pm
    >>i can identify with his situation which why this blog could be interesting (in only the jackals would stop nipping all the time).<<

    If I understand you correctly, you are/were hoping that this blog would not be a discussion about the merits of Orthopraxy, but about how to deal with being Orthoprax. And those questioning the underlying notion of acting one way while believing another is getting in the way of having such a discussion.

    *********************
    dov,
    i don't know how you came to that understanding. i'm not interested in the merits of orthopraxy one way or the other or how to deal with being orthoprax.

    i have a love hate relationship with yiddishkeit. i've been surprised by the number of people that i've met on the internet and in person on the same journey. i suspect that our "rabbi" is also in this predicament. i may be wrong and may be projecting but it seems that the underlying thread of each of his posts has been this reality and how to deal with it. i don't know how to make it more clear…i want to be seduced into a happy marraige with yiddishkeit not browbeaten (raped) into one.

    as an aside the comment system we are using is very inconvenient (in my opinion). i have to go through every comment to see if anything new was posted. the email follow-up only has a blurb of the original comment in the email so unless you have a great memory you have to search for the old complete comment to capture the context.
    one solution is to copy and paste the complete comment so we can get the context and and enter the comment at the end so you have to check for unread new comments at the end.

    • Dov Kramer says:

      Tayqoo, re: difficulty in following the conversation-

      Copying the entire comment being responded to (and perhaps the entire thread of comments) would certainly make it easier to follow when just seeing the added comment. However, it makes scrolloing through comments rather tedious.

      I try to put enough in my responses to jar the memory re: what I was responding to, but otherwise try to keep in mind that there are those that will be reading the comments on the blog (not in email).

  30. tayqoo says:

    Ephraim says:
    July 25, 2010 at 5:10 pm
    “but i don’t think that baalhablog’s purpose in starting the blog was to discuss his career options. ”

    What career options? What career? We know nothing about the blogger! How can we attribute his motivation if we don’t know who he is?

    “but i don’t remember your contributing much to the discussion here”
    Then go back and read the previous comments. Don’t assume when you can easily verify the fact yourself.

    “is it so hard to believe that there may be rabbis out there that are too afraid to come out of the closet? ”

    Again, please go back and reread the earlier comments: I’ve said it before here, and I’ll say it again. That there could be such rabbis out there, is beyond a doubt. I have second hand knowledge of such a case. Historically, all you have to do is study the uncensored (or rather unromanticized) history of the major 19th century yeshivas and you’ll find more.
    I’ve said it before here, and I’ll say it again. I believe the blogger is a fraud, because he hasn’t displayed the erudition he claim. This latest post is further evidence since it provides information that would lead back to him- if he actually exists. And yet, in an earlier post, our blogger claims he has taken steps to hide his identity. And now he tells a revealing tale with the only disclaimer that “Shimon” is an assumed name. Only someone who has no fear of exposure would expose himself like that.
    ************************
    ephraim,
    what does any of the above mean?
    what differance does it make what he says he is? maybe he’s plumber posing as a rabbi. what if he was an atheist shochet? what if he was an atheist mohel? what if he was an atheist mashgiach? would you expect him to present his credentials to you? you can bet your bippy that is not gonna happen.

    as far as your comments are concerned…i’m sorry but they didn’t make an impression one way or the other.

    you obviosly believe that it is possible that there are atheist rabbi’s out there so what’s your problem with this one? why don’t you read these blog entries as a midrash, stories not necessarily true but yet springboards for discussion.

    • Am HaAretz says:

      @tayqoo

      Once again I am impressed by your responses. Chazaka u’varuch.

    • Dov Kramer says:

      >>what differance does it make what he says he is? maybe he’s plumber posing as a rabbi.<<

      Or maybe he's an experienced OP blogger trying to legitimize OP by pretending to be a rabbi.

  31. Wakeen says:

    What is Simple Faith?

    We hear the notion mentioned and praised all the time. When we face troubles in our lives we tell each other, “You just need to have emunah pshutah—simple faith.” The Chasid Yaavetz writes about those Jews who converted to Christianity during the Spanish Inquisition that they lacked emunah pshutah. Only the simple Jews who contained within themselves unsophisticated faith were able to withstand the terrible tortures of the Spanish Inquisitors, sacrificing and sanctifying their lives and dying al Kiddush Hashem. The Jews who studied philosophy and appeared to have a more profound understanding of G-d were the ones who caved in to the horrible and tortuous demands.

    So, we’re supposed to work on attaining a simple faith. What does that mean? We are not supposed to think about why we believe in Hashem? Are we not obligated to prove to ourselves that Hashem exists, that if we know that the essay you are reading had a designer, then all the more so a million times, the world has a Designer (as the Chovos HaLevovos writes as an example of evidence)? Are we not commanded to know, not only believe, that Hashem created the world, as the Rambam writes? How can you know something if you don’t think deeply about it?

    Are we not responsible to prove to the best of our ability that the Torah’s description of the events at Sinai happened with 100% certainty, as the Rambam, Chinuch, and Ramban write—how the claim of G-d appearing before three million people, giving the Torah, and saying that Moshe is a true prophet, is a claim that is virtually impossible to fabricate? The fact is that besides Judaism, every religion the world has to offer began with the necessity to trust one man or a small group with a claim that G-d communicated with them, but Torah at Sinai is based on national revelation! All this we need to know and think deeply about. What then is meant by emunah pshutah—simple faith?

    SOPHISTICATED YET UNCOMPLICATED

    Rav Shimshon Pincus in Tiferes Torah, in his very first piece in the sefer, on Bereishis, asks the question this way: if emunah pshutah means to simply accept the traditions and beliefs passed down from the previous generations, why is that valuable? Mishlei (14:15) says, ‘pesi ya’amin lechol davar—only fools believe everything!’ In fact, non-Jews who are viewed by their fellow people as good Christians or Moslems also accept their traditions with simple faith. If Jews are to accept things with emunah pshutah, a leap of faith, and this is a value, how is it different than Christianity or Islam?

    Rav Pincus explains that we are indeed, of course, supposed to think deeply into why we believe in Hashem, why we accept the Torah as being true, and why the other religions are false, as the Rishonim write. What then does emunah pshutah mean? Why is it exceptional to have simple faith? Says Rav Pincus, simple faith does not mean to accept things simply without thought; rather, it is defined as once someone has thought deeply into why he believes what he believes, he then accepts his beliefs with emunah pshutah, with no questions, doubts or complications. He sees the truth before him with his intellect, and doesn’t explore illogical or outlandish scenarios and possibilities.

    For example, if you see a building in front of you, you might ask, “Why did they build it this way and not a different way?” But you wouldn’t ask, “Who says they built it? Maybe it came together on its own?”

    If we wanted to be foolish, we could make every fact and every thing that we consider reality into a discussion and investigation. We could ask, “Perhaps I’m really a star and the star is really me? Perhaps I don’t really exist? Or perhaps Moshe tricked the Jewish people into thinking Hashem spoke to them and it was really Martians from outer space?”

    Someone whose intellect is straightforward accepts with certainty that which is clear and logical to him. Emunah pshutah—simple faith means to accept simply all that is true and clear to us. All of the fundamentals that comprise Torah are logical, simple, and clear once they are delved into and understood. Just like the sun exists, the Torah’s truths exist.

    This is what the Chasid Yaavetz meant. The Jews who were willing to sacrifice their lives in Spain during the 1400’s or who were willing to be exiled, were Jews who knew the Torah’s truths like they knew two plus two equals four. The so-called philosophical Jews never really came to the truths clearly—they always had doubts as a result of their constant inquiries into farfetched possibilities. But if we but spend the time to think deeply, it is natural to establish a deep emunah pshutah within ourselves.

  32. mahla says:

    I don’t know Judaism well enough to pick up on stuff you guys who doubt the authenticity of the Rabbi might be picking up on. I had to look up “Devarim,” LOL. :^) But what could be his motivation in posting all of this stuff if he’s not real? It’s not like he has tons of ads up and is making money off this blog.

    • Am HaAretz says:

      I think it is completely inconsequential if he is real or not. Who cares?

      • mahla says:

        Who cares? People care! They care enough that they argue about it here endlessly. I don’t denigrate their doing so, either.

        Honestly, it does not matter to me one bit, because even if he is NOT real in his disbelief, there are religious leaders out there who are ENTIRELY real in their disbelief!

        Some skeptics have even made their skepticism and disbelief a cornerstone of their faith … see Marcus Borg for the Christian poster child of what I am describing there ….

        I have not heard of any Orthodox Jews following the Marcus Borg path, but that might just be a function of my ignorance vis-a-vis Jewish pluralism ….

    • Rabban Gamliel says:

      mahla said:”I don’t know Judaism well enough to pick up on stuff you guys who doubt the authenticity of the Rabbi might be picking up on. I had to look up “Devarim,” LOL. :^) But what could be his motivation in posting all of this stuff if he’s not real? It’s not like he has tons of ads up and is making money off this blog.”

      If he is fake it means in his mind he can undermine Judaism.

    • Dov Kramer says:

      Mahla,

      >>what could be his motivation in posting all of this stuff if he’s not real? It’s not like he has tons of ads up and is making money off this blog.<<

      His motivation could be the acceptance of Orthopraxy within OJ circles. It currently only exists underground, or on blogs. He may want it to be able to move out from the shadows.

      Unfortunately, the result will probably become a schism in the community instead, with concepts such as "eid echad ne'eman bisurin" (i.e. trusting others regarding kashrus) no longer used, and any idea or action that seems non-conformist bringing about accusations of OPism.

  33. Am HaAretz says:

    @tayqoo

    Beautiful comment, “I want to be seduced into a happy marriage with yiddishkeit not browbeaten (raped) into one.”

    Brilliant comment. This is the journey most of us are on that are Orthoprax. The problem is, most frumsters are not mentally strong enough and have no sensitivity to other people’s struggles and are useless in providing any support. Too many, not everyone Thank God, of the Orthodox are too concerned about bain adam l’makom instead of bain adam l’chavero. In other words, they are much better at offending me, living selfish lives, and “serving God”, which is obviously not serving God, but in fact they are emboldening Jewish and non-Jewish anti-semitism.

    • Dov Kramer says:

      >>most frumsters are not mentally strong enough and have no sensitivity to other people’s struggles and are useless in providing any support<<

      You are 100% correct about most not being mentally strong enough and I would add not confident enough in their own beliefs. You are also (unfortunately) correct about their shortcomings in sensitivity.

      I am not sure, though, how they could be expected to show "support." I would also add another factor: Any existing guilt (even if purely emotionally based) may add to feeling "pressured," perhaps making it seem as if that pressure is originating externally (or that the full amount of pressure is external), rather than (at least partially) being internal.

    • Shades of Gray says:

      “Too many, not everyone Thank God, of the Orthodox are too concerned about bain adam l’makom instead of bain adam l’chavero. In other words, they are much better at offending me”

      You, too, offend others with your remarks.

      I am all for showing empathy for Orthopraxers, and I also don’t think some Frum people are confident or knowledgeable enough to deal with Orthopraxers, and for all I know, have their own unresolved emunah issues!

      However, like life in general, there are shades of gray in the frum community at large, and it is wrong to generalize, and only focus on the negative.

  34. Zen Jew says:

    Thanks to all of James Kugel’s simple (yet profound) work in simply differentiating between the text and the assumptions the “fundamentalist” reader brings to the text (it is fundamentally whole, coherent, interpretable, etc.), I am well beyond this “issue”…

    Already, there are rishonim (Ibn Ezra) who note the lacunae and historical issues in the biblical texts; to be “orthodox” as having to believe in this tenet is ludicrous. Spinoza (as mentioned in a comment above) ran with Ibn Ezra’s early work and expanded his philological critique in his oft-cited “Theological Political Treatise”.

    I prefer the Rambam’s extremely humanist perspective on revelation: Moses (and all prophets) acheived pure intellect–something close to what Aristotle strove for. Revelation did not come from *without*, it came from *within*. Some of the more radical hasidic masters capitalized on this philosophy, trumping an immanent God over a transcendent God.

    Thus, to admit to a flawed document is certainly within the realm of a traditional response. It is unfortunate that the contemporary right-wing B”T movements go to lengths to mask this glaring fact; most rishonim would disagree with the necessity of such a tenet, and would, instead, value the Torah for its tradition of an inherent human wisdom.

    • Puzzled says:

      So if I turn my concentration inward enough, I come up with stories about killing a nation because the women slept with Jews consentually?

      • Dov Kramer says:

        >>stories about killing a nation because the women slept with Jews consentually?<<

        That's not the full story. It was a scheme designed to undermine Judaism, and they would have kept scheming if they were given the chance.

      • Suzanne says:

        That is my main problem with divine authorship.

      • Dov Kramer says:

        Suzanne,

        If I understand you correctly, it is the content that bothers you, not the concept (of divine authorship).

        Is that correct?

    • Dov Kramer says:

      >>I prefer the Rambam’s extremely humanist perspective on revelation: Moses (and all prophets) acheived pure intellect–something close to what Aristotle strove for. Revelation did not come from *without*, it came from *within*. <<

      This couldn't explain public revelation, an event mentioned numerous times by Moshe in his addresses to the nation included in Sefer Devarim.

    • Suzanne says:

      I have this idea of Moses as more of a philosopher, who thought deeply about the problems of his day.

  35. tayqoo says:

    rg/joe mcarthy,
    if he is fake it means in his mind he can undermine Judaism.
    **********************
    i get it. you are going to protect judaism from his mind. you should have said so in the first place.
    by the way, if he is not fake, does he lose the ability to undermine judaism? exactly how does that work?

    • Rabban Gamliel says:

      tayqoo said:”rg/joe mcarthy,
      if he is fake it means in his mind he can undermine Judaism.
      **********************
      i get it. you are going to protect judaism from his mind. you should have said so in the first place.
      by the way, if he is not fake, does he lose the ability to undermine judaism? exactly how does that work?”

      I was describing what is making sense to him. If he’s a fake he thinks it’s important to pretend so he can undermine Judaism as an Orthodox rabbi an authority on Judaism. It doesn’t make sense as I said in an earlier post on this site if he would know enough about the Orthodox he would know that as anonymous rabbi, real or not it will not have an impact without people knowing if he’s for real.

  36. Shades of Gray says:

    “The Charedim breed like rats, like mice, like rodents. Disease, poverty, ignorance, and religion seem to be in symbiosis.”

    In this week’s Torah portion, Rabbi Akivah says that “You shall fear Hashem your God”, includes Torah scholars.

    Rabbi Chaim Ickovits of Wolozin(1749-1821), also known as R. Chaim of Voloshin(quoted in Shulchan Govaah) notes that this is the same Rabbi Akivah who said that as an am ha’aretz, an ignorant person, his hatred of Torah scholars was so great that he used to boast “Who will deliver to me a talmid chacham, that I may bite him — i.e. destroy him — as would a donkey/dog”. R Chaim of Voloshin notes that Torah scholars were of no value, that only if they actually came to him, would he bite them, otherwise they were not even worth the effort of exertion!

    Yet, says R. Chaim of Voloshin, Rabbi Akivah eventually went on to say that “You shall fear Hashem your God”, includes Torah scholars. This, I believe, also shows the potential for greatness in people, and is as relevant today, as it was in Talmudic time.

  37. tayqoo says:

    rg,
    Rabban Gamliel says:
    July 26, 2010 at 2:46 pm
    tayqoo said:”rg/joe mcarthy,
    if he is fake it means in his mind he can undermine Judaism.
    **********************
    i get it. you are going to protect judaism from his mind. you should have said so in the first place.
    by the way, if he is not fake, does he lose the ability to undermine judaism? exactly how does that work?”

    I was describing what is making sense to him. If he’s a fake he thinks it’s important to pretend so he can undermine Judaism as an Orthodox rabbi an authority on Judaism. It doesn’t make sense as I said in an earlier post on this site if he would know enough about the Orthodox he would know that as anonymous rabbi, real or not it will not have an impact without people knowing if he’s for real.
    **********************
    i read what you wrote a few times. i can’t make any sense of it so i’m just going to give up trying.
    i hope that we don’t run into eachother again. hatzlacha with your life.

    • Rabban Gamliel says:

      tayqoo said:

      rg says:tayqoo said:”rg/joe mcarthy,
      if he is fake it means in his mind he can undermine Judaism.
      **********************
      i get it. you are going to protect judaism from his mind. you should have said so in the first place.
      by the way, if he is not fake, does he lose the ability to undermine judaism? exactly how does that work?”

      I was describing what is making sense to him. If he’s a fake he thinks it’s important to pretend so he can undermine Judaism as an Orthodox rabbi an authority on Judaism. It doesn’t make sense as I said in an earlier post on this site if he would know enough about the Orthodox he would know that as anonymous rabbi, real or not it will not have an impact without people knowing if he’s for real.
      **********************
      i read what you wrote a few times. i can’t make any sense of it so i’m just going to give up trying.”

      Well if the asker understands that’s what counts unless you tell her she shouldn’t understand it in the way she does.

      “hatzlacha with your life.”

      With yours as well.

  38. avraham says:

    My own opinion is to tell the truth. I have a set of beliefs that comes from finding the good in different religions and philosophies. So I am not embarrassed to say that I think good things about Jesus or that the Talmud is a great book. Though to many people these may be to be contradictions. The reason is to most people religion is package deal. Either everything is right or wrong. But still I believe in telling the truth and accepting the consequences.

  39. Moish says:

    I’ve been reading this blog since it’s inception and like many was skeptical whether the blogger really is a rabbi but was beginning to accept it. After this post though I’m beginning to have strong doubts. This sentence did it for me:

    “As I watched Shimon walk away, happy, secure and satisfied with all that had transpired, I was hoping he would turn back and ask, finally and simply, why? ”

    If you were really a rabbi wouldn’t you hope that he WONT turn around to question what you just told him? What would you answer if he did? Would you reveal your true beliefs? That of course would not be feasible unless you trust him with your job. Would you admit ignorance?
    Something just doesn’t ring true about this.

    • Rabban Gamliel says:

      Moish said:”I’ve been reading this blog since it’s inception and like many was skeptical whether the blogger really is a rabbi but was beginning to accept it. After this post though I’m beginning to have strong doubts. This sentence did it for me:

      “As I watched Shimon walk away, happy, secure and satisfied with all that had transpired, I was hoping he would turn back and ask, finally and simply, why? ”

      If you were really a rabbi wouldn’t you hope that he WONT turn around to question what you just told him? What would you answer if he did? Would you reveal your true beliefs? That of course would not be feasible unless you trust him with your job. Would you admit ignorance?
      Something just doesn’t ring true about this.”

      My God, Moish, you’re right! I did not notice. Perhaps it required just someone who expressed at some point less skepticism but an open mind to notice that. It would mean he did want his cover blown.

  40. tayqoo says:

    Shilton HaSechel says:
    July 26, 2010 at 6:57 pm
    Looking forward
    ****************
    don’t hold your breath.

    • Rabban Gamliel says:

      tayqoo said:”HaSechel says:
      Looking forward
      ****************
      don’t hold your breath.”

      One more word from you and I’ll email him today. Ad hominems are not a sign of strength.

  41. tayqoo says:

    His motivation could be the acceptance of Orthopraxy within OJ circles. It currently only exists underground, or on blogs. He may want it to be able to move out from the shadows.
    **********************
    sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.
    is this paranoia?

    • Rabban Gamliel says:

      tayqoo said:”

      His motivation could be the acceptance of Orthopraxy within OJ circles. It currently only exists underground, or on blogs. He may want it to be able to move out from the shadows.
      **********************
      sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.
      is this paranoia?”

      You tell conspiracy theories on us and so also claim that we are engaged in paranoia. Not mature or secure.

  42. tayqoo says:

    i’ve got the feeling that the loonies have taken control of the asylum.
    i’m going into lurking mode until moshiach comes.

  43. David says:

    RG–
    I asked a question. I used no “straw man” arguments. Either Chaviva can back up her dogmatic statement about the DH, or she can’t. If she can, I’m willing to be shown that I’m wrong in thinking that there is no truth to the DH. If you’re wrong, are you willing to be shown that there is truth to it?

    • David says:

      Oops. I screwed up that last sentence. It should read: “I’m willing to be shown that I’m wrong in thinking that there IS truth to the DH. If you’re wrong, are you willing to be shown that the DH is correct?”

    • Rabban Gamliel says:

      David said:”RG–
      I asked a question. I used no “straw man” arguments. Either Chaviva can back up her dogmatic statement about the DH, or she can’t. If she can, I’m willing to be shown that I’m wrong in thinking that there is no truth to the DH.”

      The choices you gave her were weak.

      “If you’re wrong, are you willing to be shown that there is truth to it?”

      Yeah. I could even maintain both my present belief and DH.

      • David says:

        No, RG, that argument doesn’t even rise to the level of a “straw man.” I did not limit Chaviva’s choices in defending her (wholly unsupported) statement. I merely tossed out (as a rhetorical device) a few options that came to mind. You’ll note that the last one was simply “…?” Is it your position that I was supposed to challenge her statement and then attempt to seriously make her argument on her behalf? It’s not my job to defend other peoples’ asinine statements.

      • Rabban Gamliel says:

        David said:”RG– I asked a question. I used no “straw man” arguments. Either Chaviva can back up her dogmatic statement about the DH, or she can’t. If she can, I’m willing to be shown that I’m wrong in thinking that there is no truth to the DH.” The choices you gave her were weak. “If […]

        No, RG, that argument doesn’t even rise to the level of a “straw man.” I did not limit Chaviva’s choices in defending her (wholly unsupported) statement. I merely tossed out (as a rhetorical device) a few options that came to mind. You’ll note that the last one was simply “…?” Is it your position that I was supposed to challenge her statement and then attempt to seriously make her argument on her behalf? It’s not my job to defend other peoples’ asinine statements.”

        Hogwash. Your choices given were indeed strawman arguments:”Finish the sentence, Chaviva… “The Documentary Hypothesis is dead”
        …because that’s what they told me at Aish.
        …because the Kuzari just “feels” nicer to me.
        …because it has been soundly refuted by [fill in the blank]
        …because the Orthodox don’t believe it, and nobody else counts.
        …?”

        You could have made arguments on her behalf and then attacked them on your grounds. You take the trouble supposedly to come up with arguments for her, so to ask that you take the time to really come up with what she could have said that wouldn’t look like they are just the weakest arguments is not asking too much. The arguments you give her if they are supposed to be real arguments that you could think of for her as you claim, make you look stupid then. She said “The Documentary Hypothesis is dead.” That makes the argument involve something you seem very much to fear, the opinions and problems of experts in the field. Instead you come up with childish reasons for her that don’t address your question because they are not arguments on her behalf. You really did not bother to come up with arguments for her. They are just statements that take no moment’s reflection. They were strawman arguments. Strawman arguments are meant for those who are insecure in their beliefs.

        You talk about dogmatic. You are absolutely dogmatic. She just made a statement and you say seemingly not to allow someone a moment to think against your idea “her (wholly unsupported) statement” “I merely tossed out (as a rhetorical device) a few options” as part of your dogmatism you said her statement was asinine without you knowing why she said it. You are accusing her of dogmatism simply for saying it. You seem so insecure and if anyone looks asinine here, it’s you.

        For making such an ass of yourself to her you owe her an apology…now!

  44. Shades of Gray says:

    “Says Rav Pincus, simple faith does not mean to accept things simply without thought; rather, it is defined as once someone has thought deeply into why he believes what he believes, he then accepts his beliefs with emunah pshutah, with no questions, doubts or complications. He sees the truth before him with his intellect, and doesn’t explore illogical or outlandish scenarios and possibilities. ”

    Rav Wolbe says a similar thing in Alei Shur II(beginning of Vad 1 on Emunah, appx. pg 248).

    I should note that some have emphasized experiential aspects of Judaism as “emunah peshutah”(Michtav Meliyahu Vol. III on “Minus V’Shlo Lishmah, Derech Emunah Ubitachon on Beshalach, by Rav CP Sheinberg; I don’t think they are negating logical aspects, though, rather emphasizing the experiential components).

    I personally try to work with the experiential in combination with patience that there is a lifetime’s room for of study of sophisticated works such as Doros HaRishonim, and many others who could “dish it out” right back to the Maskilim of the Nineteenth Century, with rigorous methodology.

    I think, however, that for Kiruv to hold out as being able to compete with the critical methods of Haskalah, “simple faith” is enough. “Simple Faith” gives basic answers as in the first link below(“Ask the Rabbi”) on the Chronology issue.

    I am not disputing what’s linked, only noting, that it is “simplified” and I don’t think it is dealt with in the Kiruv Seminars, though I believe it would affect the Kuzari argument. Note, however, that Dr. Chaim S. Heifetz feels comfortable with revising Greek records to align with Talmudic ones, and that would certainly be a more rigorous “hakirah” of Rishonim, or “non-simplified” faith.

    http://www.asktherabbi.org/DisplayQuestion.asp?ID=1883
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Missing_years

    This is what Rabbi Gil Student of Hirhurim had to say(“A Modern Orthodox View of History”, 5/27/10), about a Orthodox history book which I would like to see written, rather than only “simple faith”, or the Kiruv-seminar methods.

    “In a Modern Orthodox survey of this nature, an expert historian would write a history that summarizes and simplifies based on a deep understanding of the events and issues. It would avoid cliche and superficiality yet embrace an Orthodox Jewish interpretation of history. It would defer to tradition but within a framework of modern historical methods”

    As above, I try to make use of the experiential aspects of Jewish living and Torah study(as noted by Michtav Meliyahu, above), and I hope for a return to the sophistication of Doros Harishonim, etc, as embraced as recently by R. Shraga Feivel Mendelowitz.

  45. Suzanne says:

    I went to a discovery seminar, while doing post-highschool religious studies in Israel. Although I was brought up orthodox, the seminar did nothing to allay my growing doubts about the existence of God, let alone the truth of Judaism. I found the arguments to be rather simplistic and even fantastical. Why believe in the divine authorship of the Torah because of Bible codes and because the reports of 600,000 people can’t be false? I was looking for a deeper answer to my quandries, but never found one.

    • Dov Kramer says:

      Suzanne,

      What were your quandries?

    • Suzanne,

      I was pretty much in the same situation. When I was in high school my parents made me go to seminars from arachim, JHC, aish…etc because of my doubts regarding the kuzari argument. This is without mentioning the countless rabbis they called for a good ole one on one meeting.

      Much later I realized that not only the years I wasted discoursing and analyzing my beliefs, searching for the same old “Ohh, that rabbi doesn’t know what he’s talking about, but THIS rabbi, you have to meet him!” could have been spend doing much more productive things.

      The two years I spent analyzing my beliefs and arguing with kiruv rabbis could have been better spent studying important subjects(science, math..etc), having fun, hitting the gym, or pretty much anything other than sitting your ass down for many hours and arguing with someone.

      It’s frustrating, when someone pompously and arrogant makes statements that reveal their ignorance of chemistry, virology, ecological dynamics, evolutionary biology, or even what logical fallacies are. It almost feels frustrating; the burning desire to call them out and thoroughly explain just how wrong they are.

      But really it’s all a waste of your time. They will have their beliefs, and there is usually little that can be done to change that regardless if they are wrong or not.

      Now that I look back to my experiences, it is not surprising that you did not find the answers to your quandaries, and if you are still searching, you most likely never will.

      If you have not already done so, then I encourage you to abandon this endeavor and just live life instead.

      • Shades of Gray says:

        “The two years I spent analyzing my beliefs and arguing with kiruv rabbis could have been better spent studying important subjects(science, math..etc), having fun, hitting the gym…”

        “It almost feels frustrating; the burning desire to call them out and thoroughly explain just how wrong they are…”

        I agree from that perspective it’s a waste of time, which could better be put into living(eg, from a purely secular perspective, ACT, or “Acceptance and Committment Therapy” encourages “valued living” as the best way to live a fulfilled life; in theory, this need not contradict Torah Judaism, and could even enhance it).

        My perspective, perhaps due to a stronger Torah background than other here, is that there is a wealth of depth in traditional Torah learning , living, belief, and emotions, which I am not willing to give up.

        If I am criticized from the Left, I respond that I think deeply about issues the same way they do, and I try to be very open about all intellectual sides of things, perhaps even more than they do!

        To the Right, if I would be attacked, I respond with the Tanya Chapter 27, (“v’asei li mata’ amim k’ asher a’havti”), that God also wants people who struggle; I would add that in theory, at least, such Avodas Hashem, could have it’s own unique depth as well, and has the benefit of thinking deeply about issues, and not “sweeping them under the carpet”.

        On that note, Rabbi Seth Farber was quoted in YNet, regarding a contemporary social issue(homosexuality), that “Modern-Orthodoxy doesn’t sweep things under the rug but rather holds serious, basic, and transparent debates”; my caveats are:

        (1) I am not referring at all to the particular issue he mentions, just to the broad concept of analyzing something completely, and that there is no need to feel ashamed for doing so

        (2)I realize that dealing privately with issues can be superior at times to the opposite approach

        (3) I am not out to attack others; to the contrary, I try to see positive in those people or groups who think differently and who are wiser than me.

  46. avraham says:

    My opinion is there are no questions in yidishkeit. You cant have questions about things that make zero sence. There are five great books and the most of the rest you can throw out because they are all trash.
    The five great books are (1) Tanach (2) Talmud (3) Rambam (4) writtings of isaac luria (5) lekutai moharan.

  47. Daniel Zev says:

    Maybe I missed this on one of the comments, but i’m pretty sure according to the “orthodox tradition” the book of Davarim was written by Moshe with a lower form of prophesy, so it would make sense that it would look different. (maybe someone could source that for me)

  48. David says:

    RG,
    Yes, I “could have made arguments on her behalf,” if I thought there were any good ones to be made. I didn’t, so I challenged her to make one. What you fail to explain is the reason that I should be held responsible for maintaining both sides of this argument. Is it your contention that Chaviva is simply not up to the task of defending her own opinions? Perhaps you got the impression that I’m so much smarter than Chaviva that I need to give her some kind of handicap in an argument.
    The bottom line, RG, is that Chaviva made a statement attacking a particular theory. She declined to offer any support for her assertion that the theory in question is “dead.” I challenged her to offer one. Thus far, she has not bothered to do so. You, however, are willing to accept her unsupported statement as perfectly adequate, but unwilling to accept my challenge as fair, apparently on the grounds that I did not offer her sufficient arguments from which to choose in defending her (as yet undefended) point. So, in short, I did not even express an opinion on this subject. And yet, somehow, you’ve decided that I’m the dogmatic one.

    I’d say you owe me (and the other readers) an apology for the insult to our intelligence by your strained and sophomoric attempts at an argument, but, on the assumption that your apologies are as transparently hollow as your attempts at forming logical arguments (or perhaps you’re just trying to get an actual female to like you?), I won’t waste my time.

    • Rabban Gamliel says:

      David said:RG,
      Yes, I “could have made arguments on her behalf,” if I thought there were any good ones to be made. I didn’t, so I challenged her to make one. What you fail to explain is the reason that I should be held responsible for maintaining both sides of this argument. Is it your contention that Chaviva is simply not up to the task of defending her own opinions? Perhaps you got the impression that I’m so much smarter than Chaviva that I need to give her some kind of handicap in an argument.”

      You claimed to have come up with arguments on her behalf and so I called them strawmen attacks. Now you admit that they were indeed no arguments. You come up with contradictory statements.

      “The bottom line, RG, is that Chaviva made a statement attacking a particular theory. She declined to offer any support for her assertion that the theory in question is “dead.” I challenged her to offer one. Thus far, she has not bothered to do so. You, however, are willing to accept her unsupported statement as perfectly adequate, but unwilling to accept my challenge as fair, apparently on the grounds that I did not offer her sufficient arguments from which to choose in defending her (as yet undefended) point. So, in short, I did not even express an opinion on this subject.”

      Sure you offered an opinion on the subject. Do you think we thought you were undecided?

      “I’d say you owe me (and the other readers) an apology for the insult to our intelligence by your strained and sophomoric attempts at an argument,”

      You are describing yourself, not me. You are so full of it.

      “but, on the assumption that your apologies are as transparently hollow as your attempts at forming logical arguments”

      You are again describing yourself, not me.

      “(or perhaps you’re just trying to get an actual female to like you?),”

      If I needed any more proof of you being an immature jerk I needn’t look any further.

  49. Rabban Gamliel says:

    Avi Bitterman said:

    RG, I thought you weren’t up and at it?”

    School life is not consistent for energy use as I assume you may know.

  50. happywithhislot says:

    How does shimon feel about bilaams talking donkey or pharohs 18 inch shmeckel?

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