Thursday, June 09, 2005

Does Denying A Proof To The Torah's Divinity Make You A Kofer (Heretic)?

I've been having a "debate" with the Hasidic Rebbele over the "proofs" to the Torah that I've disucssed in the last two posts.

In the "comments" thread to this post, the Rebbele has come thisclose to calling me a kofer (heretic) and outright calls me dishonest for daring to critique the "proofs" that I did in my last two posts.

In his comments he first admonishes me to use a "disclaimer" when posting, lest I "come across as a kofer."

When I asked him if simply questioning proofs presented (not the Torah itself, mind you, just the proofs to it's divinity) makes one a kofer, he responded with:

it's what and how u write about the TSBP and the Torah itself that obviously shows u as a kofer.

He then went on to say:

u deliberately distort, miscommunicate and flaunt your ignorance intellect so proudly, for whatever reason, and u have a problem with being called a kofer?

my question is, what ARE your reasons or feelings against Hashem that u r so "mad"? why are u not man enough to just say u r mad?

Mad at Hashem? Did I ever give that impression on my blog? Does refuting some bad logic or factual errors make one "mad" at HKBH?

He then follows up with:

i have no problem with u disagreeing with anyone, if u were honest. then again, i actually have no problem if u disagree in a dishonest way either. u have that choice. but if the result ends up with u being called a kofer, take it like the "wiseguy" u r.

And he has the irony to sign it "respectfully,..."

Just to make things clear that I believed in Torah MiSinai, I presented my belief on the matter:

I believe that the Jewish nation stood at Mt. Sinai many years ago. I believe that HKBH gave the Mitzvos (not the Written Torah as we have it!) and the explainations to it (TSBP) to Moshe.

How can I say that Hashem didn't give the Written Torah as we have it? That should be fairly obvious - do you think that Moshe had advance knowledge of Korach's rebellion. Do you think he had advance knowledge of his own sin that precluded his going into EY? Do you think he knew in advance that he wouldn't know the laws of yerushah (inheritence)? Do you think that Moshe wrote in Beshalach that the B'nei Yisroel ate the Manna for 40 years even before the sin of the Meraglim that caused them to be there for 40 years to begin with? It should be fairly obvious that the Written Torah that we have today was not given at Mt. Sinai. If you want to say that it was in it's present form right after Moshe's death, however, that's certainly far more plausible.

As for TSBP, it fairly obvious that an oral explaination was provided along with the written text. As has been often pointed out, the written text for many mitzvos in the chumash do not make much sense without an oral explaination. But does that mean that the Mishna and Gemara in thier present form were given? Certainly not.

To me it sounds perfectly logical. Heck, there's a mekor for it in the Gemara - that the last eight verses were written by Yehoshua (Joshua). Obviously according to this opinion they were written right after Moshe's death!

His response (which, I'll admit, I don't fully understand - if anyone wants to take a crack at explaining it to me, please feel free to do so):

-"If you want to say that it was in it's present form right after Moshe's death, however, that's certainly far more plausible."- r u acting illogical and/or ignorant to this issue or r u actually both? r u acting dumb and/or evil to make such a dumb chakira and then end it with this sentence or r u actually both? Did u not learn the Rashi Hakodesh on the last Parsha with the Gemara on it?

So, am I missing something here? Is one a kofer for even questioning the "proofs," or am I on solid ground with my last two posts. IOW, have the last two posts consigned me to the fiery netherworld when I shuffle off this mortal coil?

The Wolf


Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

"So, am I missing something here? Is one a kofer for even questioning the "proofs,"

I take it that's a rhetorical question.

The problem is that people get locked into the idea that any thought that any rabbi who has been admitted into the canon of rabbis that have stood the test of time ever had is by definition Torah, and therefore logical and therefore one cannot question or dismiss it.

So, for example, the Kuzari proof for Sinai. Some people feel it is inviolable because R. Yehuda Ha-levi gave it, not because they've tested it and found it to be sound.

Unfortunately the effect of this kind of thinking, which is really motivated by a fine desire to respect and honor our predecessors and their learning, is that it forces you to be "mevatel your daas", e.g., put your brain on ice.

RJT said...

For what it's worth, I was called a kofer/apikorus by some of my Rabbeim in high school (a very well known, black hat Yeshiva) for asking some of the more obvious questions about God, proofs, science, etc. Instead of giving me answers that I could have dealt with (i.e., the sort of answers that Rabbi Slifkin and many others have given), I was put down by my Rabbeim and fellow classmates, and forced to look for answers on my own. It should be of no great surprise to anyone then to hear that my emunah in Hashem is hardly what it should be. The irony is that while in high school I was certainly no kofer. But being pushed aside and left to form my own conclusions, perhaps I have become one.

daat y said...

sorry rjt-stay with us and ask questions.
MFM-The worst is to
mevatel daas-daat y

Hanan said...

Your not a kofer. Certain orthodox circles have sabotaged Judaism and have attached these stupid proofs in there. If anyone God forbid questions them we are called Kofrim... Well you know what, if thats what it takes to be kofer, than I would be proud to be called kofer.

tmeishar said...

Ph...don't worry about what idiots say about you. I have learned long ago to just ignore what they say, There's no point arguing with them because they are indoctrinated not to listen to "koifrim" (being anyone who's not just like them).

I saw part of the video and those "proofs" are ludicrous. Unfortunately, it's the same thing people have been selling for way too long. It works on some people, but it's especially hazardous for the doubting thinkers. I know a certain Principal, who I respect very much, who wouldn't let Rabbi Mechanic talk in his school for precisely that reason.

Mis-nagid said...

"my question is, what ARE your reasons or feelings against Hashem that u r so "mad"? why are u not man enough to just say u r mad?"

Mad at Hashem?

Chana said...

I find it difficult to respect someone who will not even engage in the common decency of typing out his entire thought/ the gist of his argument. When one resorts to abbreviations and others sorts of typos, that makes me think either they are not really processing their comments, or they are teenagers using AIM talk. But supposing I were to take this seriously:

No. Since there are no "official" mathematical or scientific proofs, all proofs that are proferred are probably of a variety that work for some people, but not for others. Therefore, should you claim that a proof has a fallacy, you are simply showing how that proof- which a man has created, not God- is incorrect. You are making the comeback that any person would make should someone else try to "sway" them with this idea.

As for the ideas about the text- I was taught that the entire Written Torah was written with the attribute of strict judgement. Hence such commands as "an eye for an eye" and so forth. The Oral Torah was written with the attribute of mercy, and it tempers the punishments- for example, an "eye for an eye" is really the monetary damage/ payment. This is a rather logical way to understand the Torah.

You are not a kofer.

The supposed Rebbele is not doing his job as a Rebbe. Anyone who has such contorted responses cannot even be clear within his own mind as to what he's going to say. This is reminiscent of Heshy and Halfnutcase.

As for being mad at Hashem- a sidepoint- were it to be the case, this should be perfectly understandable. If we truly believe we have a relationship with God, we should be able to express any and every emotion possible- anger, love, hatred, confusion. This is our God and we are His people. We have a right to express anything- anything- to Him. People who have an "off-limits" section to God cannot have a true and trusting relationship with Him.

daat y said...

beautifully put;especially about the right to express anything to hashem.

DarkBlueHat said...

In Torah, you never have to accept a sevara that doesn't make sense to you. You may have to l'maaseh follow conclusions you disagree with, but that is another story. As a general rule though, if a Rishon gives a sevara, you should analyze it carefully and not dismiss it out of hand. Most of the questions on the Kuzari argument are ones the author could have raised on his own. Did he consider them? How would he have answered them? I would tell the person my precise questions, and then tell him that if he can't answer them, he doesn't properly understnd the proof either. He's the one who insults the depth of the Kuzari's argument by feeling the need to pull his punches when analyzing it.

Krum as a bagel said...

I think there is a basic semantic issue that is confusing your correspondent. I don't think any sane person believes that the Chumash was given at Sinai because that raises the very obvious questions about Moshe's knowledge of the future. According to Gittin 60a, the Chumash was written either entirely at the end of Moshe's life, or "scroll by scroll" throughout the course of his life. Not at Sinai. What was given at Sinai were the mitzvos.

BrooklynWolf said...

Thanks, krum. That's *exactly* what I said on the Hasidic Rebbele's blog. :)

The Wolf