Monday, March 02, 2009

Bishul Akum and the Causes of Intermarriage

There are a number of decrees that were established by Chazal in order to prevent (or reduce) assimilation and intermarriage. One of those decrees is the rule against bishul akum (food cooked by a non-Jew). There are various rules and regulations surrounding the decree as to when and how it's applied and how much involvement a Jew must have in the meal preparation.

Since this is a rabbinic decree and not a commandment from the Torah, it makes sense to take a look at it. My understanding of it (and *please*, feel free to correct me if I'm wrong) is that thousands of years ago, when the decree was enacted, eating with non-Jews could lead to assimilation and intermarriage. I would imagine a hired cook in the home or an innkeeper would probably have been the primary cases where eating such foods could lead to intermarriage and assimilation.

Of course, the world today is a different place. Unlike inns in the past, you're not likely to run across the cook in a modern hotel of any decent size. You're also unlikely to meet the chef in a restaurant or nursing home. That's not to say that the halachos surrounding bishul akum should be tossed out -- much like the laws surrounding the 2nd day of Yom Tov outside of Israel, they're here to stay. But nonetheless, in many cases, the consequences of assimilation and/or intermarriage is not present. Indeed, you'd probably have a much higher probability of intermarriage with the waitstaff at a restaurant or the person who brings around the trays at a nursing home rather than with the cook.

Yudel Shain mentions a conversation he had with R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt"l. As he puts it:

Rav Shlomo Zalman Aurbach, OB"M told me that the reason of the high rate of assimilation is because as of the kulos & heterim of de americaner Rabonim in "bihul-akum und Yayin-nesech" halachos- I asked perhaps the Heteirim are acceptable? Reb Shlomo Zalman, responded it can't be-As CHAZAL said........otherwise we wouldn't have the high rate of assimilation.
He said "if we eliminate a bishul akum in New York, it will eliminate an intermarriage in Pariz.

To me, this sounded very strange and quite unbelieveable. We all know that the intermarriage rate among Jews is very high -- in some places in the neighborhood of 50%. I'm sure that the causes of intermarriage are fairly complex and numerous, but I can probably think of half a dozen things that would influence the rate of intermarriage more than kulos (lieniences) in the halachos of bishul akum. Even if you want to limit the study to Orthodox Jews alone (who have a much lower rate - but not zero - of intermarriage), there are probably still quite a few factors that would come into play in determining the causes of intermarriage before kulos in bishul akum. I could even accept that a violation of the bishul akum laws in New York may lead to intermarriages in New York, but how would they lead to intermarriages in Paris or anywhere else on a regular enough basis to merit mention by R. Auerbach?

Since the statement was troubling to me, and since I don't think R. Auerbach was a fool, I asked for some background and an explaination. When I pressed Yudel Shain for an explaination, I was told that in manufacturing plants and mosdos (institutions) bishul akum is the norm. I don't know whether that's true or not, but for the my reply, it didn't matter. My response to that was:

But even in those cases, how often does the consumer come into contact with the cook? In how many nursing homes do the residents get to meet the cook (and in how many of those cases does it lead to marriage between a resident and the cook?!)

The same thing applies all the more so in a manufacturing plant. I have no idea who is cooking the food - and I will certainly never meet them in the context of being the cook of my food.

If the point of bishul akum is to prevent intermarriage (something I agree with), then please tell me how it applies in these situations.

Or, to put it a different way -- I think there are other causes for intermarriage and assimilation that rank MUCH higher than bishul akum does in today's society.

His response:

SORRY, YOU MISSED IT COMPLETELY!
If you are lenient in Bishul-Akum in New Jersey, that will cause intermarriage in Paris.. FAR'SHTEIST????

Later on in the thread, it was stated that R. Avigdor Miller would state that people who ask such questions are Apikorsim (heretics). Fine, whatever... so I'm an apikores for asking, but I still would like an explaination. Or do you think R. Auerbach was simply engaging in a bit of hyperbole?

The Wolf

34 comments:

J said...

He's saying that bishul akum causes intermarriage the same way that nursing from a non-Jewish woman causes timtum halev. That is, it's a magical connection as opposed to any real-life cause-and-effect explanation such as what you were asking for. I.e. don't question chazal.

Far'shteist?

Anonymous said...

Just another example of ignoring what is ridiculous in order to blindly follow something illogical becasue it comes from a "sage."

Anonymous said...

I thought that the issur of bishul akum was to prevent socailizing with the neighbors, not the cooks at resturants or the local baker.

G*3

Drew said...

Sounds like Jewish chaos theory - the bishul akum effect.

הצעיר שלמה בן רפאל לבית שריקי ס"ט said...

I don't believe Avigdor Miller would say that. I mean, he's said some wacky stuff, but you can't take anything from hear-say...

Freelance Kiruv Maniac said...

Two points:
1) I don't know about your community, but in MANY Jewish communities is it very common to have an elderly parent stay in the home (or a child's home) with part or full time non-Jewish help. The non-Jewish caregiver help often cooks food for the residents of the household and a very personal connection is made between the caregiver and the family of the elderly.
So much bishul akum is not on an institutional level.

2) To make the "bishul Akum effect" a little more rational, I would look at it like this:
Chazal (in their time) saw that non-Jewish cooking was a significant factor for intermarriage.
Using their God-given mandate to make takkanos and gezeiros, they instituted this prohibition of bishul akum for the specific purpose of arresting intermarriage.
Once this decree to stop intermarriage has the power of Jewish law behind it, it becomes a timeless spiritual influence in the world to stop intermarriage in all circumstances.

BrooklynWolf said...

FKM,

Thanks for your comments.

1) I agree with you that there are circumstances where Bishul Akum violations *can* lead to intermarriage. I understand that there are cases where people do come into contact with the cooks and that bishul akum is a problem then. My problem was the "long distance" effect that R. Auerbach posited (and the "shut up and don't ask questions" attitude of YS's commentators).

2. WADR, that's not terribly rational at all.

The Wolf

BrooklynWolf said...

J,

Thanks for your comments.

You could make the logical case for timtum halev because the forbidden food *is* directly ingested into the body. Positing a "long-distance" effect based on somewhere eating food cooked by a non-Jew to an unrelated person on a different continent is quite a bit more of a stretch.

SteveW said...

This sounds similar to the quote attributed to Rav Yisroel Salanter to the effect of ""When They Gossip In Vilna, They Desecrate The Sabbath In Paris".

Of course, that was said in regard to an issur d'oraysa not a takonas Chazal, but long distance effects are not something Rav Auerbach invented.

Troubled And Frum said...

I've always wondered about statements such as these. Thanks for enlightening me.

The Hedyot said...

Like J described it, this is what I love to call Magical Judaism. It's the same thinking that goes into ideas such as having the whole book of Tehillim said amongst a bunch of people in order to get some sort of "spiritual credit" that you can then use as a bargaining chip with god.

Freelance Kiruv Maniac said...

Hey, I didn't claim it was terribly rational, just a little more rational than the way Drew characterized it. :)
And I don't equate "rational" with "scientifically explainable". Rational means there is some logical framework to put something in. I think it qualified.

Ari said...

It's simple, really. There are chukim and mishpatim -- G-d given laws that have a an understandable rationale, and laws that don't seem to make logical sense.

Now, follow me here: We are asked to emulate Hashem; after all, we were created in his image, and we are also commanded to be kedoshim. To wit: we rest on the seventh day, just like Hashem did.

Certain ones among us (and they know who they are...and make sure we know it, too) are more G-d-like (godluss, one might say) than others. Therefore, they have been given license to issue chukim and mishpatim, just like G-d himself.

It is not our place to question the mishputim from these gentlemen (and they almost always are gentlemen). Na'aseh v'nishma, folks! No rationale required.

A freylachin Purim to all!

Sam said...

I'd rather not look at this as another "Magical Judaism" thing. I'm fairly critical when I hear that stuff as well, but I have a lot of respect for R' Auerbach and do think he is someone who certainly could have meant more here.

Perhaps he had in mind the leniency towards assimilation that laxity in bishul akum represents. In other words, if he looks at bishul akum as representing a fence preventing intermarriage, it does not seem so crazy to assert that chipping away at the practical points of the laws also chips away at people's commitments to the conceptual roots of the law. And onwards in a spiral, leading to a generally more lax attitude and more intermarriage, he might say. This would be consistent with the frequently cited idea of "achrei hapeulot nimshachim halevavot"--devoted action towards a principle can influence our commitments, even if the action does not practically make such a difference towards that principle,

That being said, I don't think I'd necessarily look at bishul akum this way or go for all this. But, I think he could certainly be interpreted that way without the jeers above.

Anonymous said...

It's a case of magical thinking, plain and simple.
http://skepdic.com/magicalthinking.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magical_thinking

TheAnswer said...

This has to do with how all Jews are interconnected on a spiritual level. The lowering of level in one part can affect other parts. And it makes sense even more if Bishul Akum is ignored, then the affected part will be intermarriage.

Obviously this in not scientific but to me it makes sense in the spiritual sense.

Sam said...

See, I really don't think it's either of the above two. I think it's just about a psychological shift in commitment based on living up to actions based on those commitments, as I wrote above.

Anonymous said...

Lets go through this and let me say I don't believe in Bishul Ackum thing in the first place it's rabbinic not from the Torah.

Even in Rabbinic law bishul ackum is only when a goy cooks for you personally as in when a goy invites you for a home cooked meal vs. in a business venue like a nursing home, restaurant, caterer, etc... Does anyone really think lighting a fire or stirring a pot changes the fact that a goy made the food???

Next marriage to goyim is and was totally Ok al pi Torah. Only the 7 forbidden nations were off limits.

The Chazal forbid all non jewish marriages and not eating Bishul Ackum was really only protecting their own prohibition that was contrary to Jewish law and tradition in the first place.

Last and most importantly if a jew doesn't have a strong identity and connection to our people in the first place eating Bishul Ackum won't mean a thing.

I believe control was the real reason for creating Bishul Ackum nothing else.

Sam said...

"Even in Rabbinic law bishul ackum is only when a goy cooks for you personally as in when a goy invites you for a home cooked meal vs. in a business venue like a nursing home, restaurant, caterer, etc..."

Er, where exactly are you getting that from? I'm fairly sure that's not the case, but please point me to a source if you have one.

Freelance Kiruv Maniac said...

And while you're looking up Sam's request, also tell us where you got this one from:
Next marriage to goyim is and was totally Ok al pi Torah. Only the 7 forbidden nations were off limits.

Is that just how the verses seem to read to you? Or do you have a real source?

Anonymous said...

......And while you're looking up Sam's request, also tell us where you got this one from:

Next marriage to goyim is and was totally Ok al pi Torah. Only the 7 forbidden nations were off limits.

Is that just how the verses seem to read to you? Or do you have a real source?......

I'm confused what better source is there than the Torah, the actual word of God???

Rabbinical law, decrees or exegesis is not a better source then Torah though many will want you to believe it's the case.

The same is true with Sam's request for a source, Bishul Achum is Rabbinic decree not a Torah prohibition this is known by everyone. There's no reason to provide a source from another Rabbi or man made law.

When we deal with these issues we must understand the Torah and then understand Rabbinical enactments and why they did it. Does the prohibition still apply or have any relevance in our times. What was appropriate in their era doesn't always translate in another era making it extremely important for each generation to decide what's best for our time and place.

I'm not a Reconstructionist Jew but Rabbi Morchai Kalpan said " Tradition has a Vote, Not A Veto, we can learn from the past but are not bound by the past".

From this we can understand Bishul Ackum may have had a reason at one point in time but does it now?

Maybe maybe not, however in my view I doubt that it really leads to rampant intermarriage and I would say a certain amount of intermarriage will take place no matter what and always will.

I feel the whole thing is fairly a mute point in any commercial cooking atmosphere, but having a non Jew cook for a jew on a personal level may lead a closeness that could make people get very familiar.

I think this is common sense approach so I may agree with the Rabbi's to a point when younger single people are involved and less when a married person who's secure in his Judaism.

Each case is different there's no cookie cutter case.

Freelance Kiruv Maniac said...

I have too much to say so I'll just say this much:

"I'm not a Reconstructionist Jew but Rabbi Morchai Kalpan said " Tradition has a Vote, Not A Veto, we can learn from the past but are not bound by the past".

That's like saying "I'm not a Catholic, but I do believe in the trinity."
If any one statement can define a non-Orthodox movement, that one qualifies.

Sam said...

"The same is true with Sam's request for a source, Bishul Achum is Rabbinic decree not a Torah prohibition this is known by everyone. There's no reason to provide a source from another Rabbi or man made law."

I'm aware the law is Rabbinic in origin--I was referring to your claim that even WITHIN the rabbinic decree as they intended it, the law does not apply outside of personal cases. That is a very different claim than the general one about rabbinic laws and your opinion on how it should be applied, which gets into a more interesting discussion.

Modeh B'Miktsas said...

I think we can apply the meaning of the already-quoted Rav Yisrael Salanter story hear too. What he meant was that in Paris the community was at that time far laxer than the community in Vilna. If people spoke lashon hara in Vilna the people in Paris -- it may be safely assumed -- were mechalel shabbos. He was telling the gossipers: "if you were to strengthen yourselves against lashon hara it gives the larger community an air of strengthening shmiras mitzvos and hopefully our brethren in Paris will strengthen themselves against chillul shabbos." Maybe that makes things a wee bit more rational?

Freelance Kiruv Maniac said...

No, Sam, you don't understand.
I had your problem, but I re-read the comment carefully and realized he left out a letter in the word "[f]or"

Anonymous addressed this objection with his response:

There's no reason to provide a source from another Rabbi [f]or man made law."

Meaning, if the law is man made, then the original intent of the rabbi who legislated it is irrelevant.
He's a man, and I'm a man. So I have just as much say in how it should apply today and the rabbi.
No sources are needed to interpret man made law!

(Did I get it right, Anonymous?)

Anonymous said...

......No, Sam, you don't understand.
I had your problem, but I re-read the comment carefully and realized he left out a letter in the word "[f]or"

Anonymous addressed this objection with his response:

There's no reason to provide a source from another Rabbi [f]or man made law."

Meaning, if the law is man made, then the original intent of the rabbi who legislated it is irrelevant.

He's a man, and I'm a man. So I have just as much say in how it should apply today and the rabbi.
No sources are needed to interpret man made law!

(Did I get it right, Anonymous?).....

Yes I'm sorry for my Type O.

Freelance, I don't believe a man made law is irrelevant per se, I think we can all agree all our society is built on man made laws and so were ancient societies.

I think some Jews have become so rigid in their perception that once a talmudic sage said something it became fixed forever. This is incorrect thinking IMO, nor do I believe this was ever the intent of God.

The Talmud or Oral Torah was never supposed to be written down and for good reason. What was written is only a snapshot of what happened in that very moment not five minutes earlier or later.

Along comes later Rabbi's read the Talmud and attempt to lock a whole nation into conceptual intellectual jail cell of the past.

No reasonable man can believe that following outdated laws is good for their society and the ones who do should not be considered our leaders because they do way too much harm then good.


Sorry for the rant, good discussion so far.

Modeh B'Miktsas said...

What does anyone think about my interpretation of the strange rabbi-quotes?

cipher said...

Wolf, I just read the thread of your "dialogue" with Yudel and his crowd.

It's the same mindset as that of the Christian fundamentalists. Reminds me of that bumper sticker - "Chazal said it, I believe it and that settles it!"

You know the answer you're going to get. You know you aren't going to change their minds. Why on earth do you bother?

Freelance Kiruv Maniac said...

Freelance, I don't believe a man made law is irrelevant per se, I think we can all agree all our society is built on man made laws and so were ancient societies.

I want to state for the record that I do not agree with anything Anonymous has said.
The foundation of all Jewish law is based on the prophecy received from God to Moshe on Mount Sinai. All Jewish scholarship till 200 years ago believed that even the interpretation of the verses in the written Torah were divinely communicated to Moshe and was passed via oral tradition to the rabbis of the Talmud.
Yes, they made many of their own decrees and legal institutions, but God Himself in the Torah (Deut. chap. 17) gave the Rabbis the authority to make them, and unfortunately, we do not posses the necessary Divine authority to annul them.

Anonymous said...

Freelance, I don't believe a man made law is irrelevant per se, I think we can all agree all our society is built on man made laws and so were ancient societies.

I want to state for the record that I do not agree with anything Anonymous has said.
The foundation of all Jewish law is based on the prophecy received from God to Moshe on Mount Sinai. All Jewish scholarship till 200 years ago believed that even the interpretation of the verses in the written Torah were divinely communicated to Moshe and was passed via oral tradition to the rabbis of the Talmud.
Yes, they made many of their own decrees and legal institutions, but God Himself in the Torah (Deut. chap. 17) gave the Rabbis the authority to make them, and unfortunately, we do not posses the necessary Divine authority to annul them......

That's incorrect, God gave Kohanim & Shoftim authority in each generation Duet. 17:8 to judge cases.

8 If cases come before your courts that are too difficult for you to judge—whether bloodshed, lawsuits or assaults—take them to the place the LORD your God will choose. 9 Go to the priests, who are Levites, and to the judge who is in office at that time. Inquire of them and they will give you the verdict. 10 You must act according to the decisions they give you at the place the LORD will choose. Be careful to do everything they direct you to do. 11 Act according to the law they teach you and the decisions they give you. Do not turn aside from what they tell you, to the right or to the left.

Rabbi's are neither mentioned or implied here or in the rest of Tanach as they first appeared in the later 2nd Temple period as we first hear of them officially in the Mishnah. Circa 200 CE

There's also disputes with Rashi & Rambam weather Moses was given everything on Sinai as some fundamentalists claim or just principles of exegesis.

Until 200 yrs ago as you say people had limitations on scholarship and therefore just followed or accepted anything Rabbi's espoused as accurate tradition with no way to verify the accuracy of what they've been told.

Modern scholarship has been able to clear up and paint a more accurate picture of the development of Judaism and time lines and all is not a the Rabbi's claim.

Freelance Kiruv Maniac said...

That's incorrect, God gave Kohanim & Shoftim authority in each generation Duet. 17:8 to judge cases...
...Rabbi's are neither mentioned or implied here or in the rest of Tanach as they first appeared in the later 2nd Temple period as we first hear of them officially in the Mishnah. Circa 200 CE


And who do you think the rabbis of the Talmud were? A brand new category? They were shoftim! Members of the Sanhedrin!
The Sanhedrin was disbanded only several years before the end of the Talmudic era. (See the citation from the Rambam below)

There's also disputes with Rashi & Rambam weather Moses was given everything on Sinai as some fundamentalists claim or just principles of exegesis.

I have to admit, I'm having a lot of fun with this.

I'll restrict myself with citing only the Rambam so as to not be accused of fundamentalism.

Pay special attention to when he mentions both interpretations from Moshe from God an the interpretations of the courts of each generation by applying principles.
Also note par. 25, 26,that all new legislation has the authority of the written Torah behind them.

I'm Skipping around to cite the most relevant parts from here:
http://www.mechon-mamre.org/e/e0000.htm

Rambam
Introduction To Mishna Torah

1 All the commandments that were given to Moshe at Sinai were given together with their interpretation, as it is written "and I will give thee the Tables of Stone, and the Law, and the Commandment" (Exodus 24,12). "Law" is the Written Law; and "Commandment" is its interpretation: We were commanded to fulfill the Law, according to the Commandment. And this Commandment is what is called the Oral Law.

4 Although the Oral Law was not written down, Moshe Our Teacher taught all of it in his court to the seventy elders; and El`azar, Pinehas, and Yehoshua, all three received it from Moshe. And to his student Yehoshua, Moshe Our Teacher passed on the Oral Law and ordered him concerning it. And so Yehoshua throughout his life taught it orally.

5 Many elders received it from Yehoshua, and Eli received it from the elders and from Pinehas; Shemuel received it from Eli and his court, and David received it from Shemuel and his court. Ahiyah the Shilonite was among those who had come out of Egypt, and was a Levite, and had heard it from Moshe, but was a child in Moshe's time; and he received it from David and his court...

... Yirmiyah received it from Tsefanyah and his court, Baruch son of Neriyah received it from Yirmiyah and his court, and Ezra and his court received it from Baruch and his court.

7 The members of Ezra's court are called the Men of the Great Assembly, and they were Haggai, Zecharyah, Mal'achi, Daniyel Hananyah Mishael and Azaryah, Nehemyah son of Hachalyah, Mordochai and Zerubavel; and many other sages were with them, numbering altogether one hundred twenty elders. The last of them was Shim`on the Righteous, who was included among the hundred twenty, and received the Oral Law from all of them; he was high priest after Ezra.

8 Antignos of Socho and his court received the Oral Law from Shim`on the Righteous and his court,...

...11 Rabban Gamliel the Elder received it from his father Rabban Shim`on, son of Hillel;...
...Rabbi Yehudah son of Rabban Shim`on is called Our Holy Teacher, and he received it from his father, and from Rabbi El`azar son of Shammua and from Rabbi Shim`on his colleague.

12 Our Holy Teacher wrote the Mishnah. From the time of Moshe to Our Holy Teacher, no one had written a work from which the Oral Law was publicly taught. Rather, in each generation, the head of the then existing court or the prophet of the time wrote down for his private use notes on the traditions he had heard from his teachers, and he taught in public from memory.

13 So too, everyone wrote down according to his ability parts of the explanation of the Torah and of its laws he heard, as well as the new matters that developed in each generation, which had not been received by oral tradition, but had been deduced by applying the Thirteen Principles for Interpreting the Torah, and had been agreed upon by the Great Rabbinical Court. Such had always been done, until the time of Our Holy Teacher.

14 He gathered together all the traditions, all the enactments, and all the explanations and interpretations that had been heard from Moshe Our Teacher or had been deduced by the courts of all the generations in all matters of the Torah; and he wrote the Book of the Mishnah from all of them. And he taught it in public, and it became known to all Israel; everyone wrote it down and taught it everywhere, so that the Oral Law would not be forgotten by Israel.

25 From them are also found the restrictive legislations enacted by the Torah scholars and prophets in each generation, to serve as a protecting fence around the Law as learned from Moshe in the interpretation of "ye shall keep my preventive measure" (Leviticus 18,30), which said take preventive measures to preserve my preventive measure.

26 From them are found as well the customs and affirmative legislations that were enacted or brought into use during the various generations as the court of each generation saw fit. For it is forbidden to deviate from them, as it is written "thou shalt not turn aside from whatever they shall declare unto thee, neither to the right hand nor to the left" (see Deuteronomy 17,11).

27 So too [from them are found] extraordinary interpretative judgments and rules that were not received from Moshe, but that the Great Rabbinical Court of its generation deduced by applying the Principles for Interpreting the Torah and the Elders judged to be appropriate, and decided that such shall be the Law. All of this, from the time of Moshe to his own time, Rav Ashe wrote in the Talmud.


32 Any court that was established in any town after the time of the Talmud and enacted legislations or enacted customs for the town's residents or for several towns' residents, its enactments did not gain the acceptance of all Israel, because of the remoteness of their settlements and the difficulties of travel, and because the members of the court of any particular town were just individuals and the Great Rabbinical Court of seventy members had ceased to exist several years before the writing of the Talmud.

34 These matters apply to rulings, enactments, and customs that arose after the Talmud had been written. But whatever is in the Babylonian Talmud is binding on all of the people of Israel; and every city and town is forced to observe all the customs observed by the Talmud's scholars and to enact their restrictive legislations and to observe their positive legislations.

35 For all those matters in the Talmud received the assent of all of Israel, and those sages who enacted the positive and negative legislations, enacted binding customs, ruled the rulings, and found that a certain understanding of the Law was correct constituted all of Israel's Torah scholars, or most of them, and it was they who received the traditions of the Oral Law concerning the fundamentals of the whole Law in unbroken succession back to Moshe Our Teacher.

Anonymous said...

Freelance

That's a lot to respond to so I'll pick a couple points.

The first thing is easy and typical mis-direction of the Rabbi's on the passak you mentioned.

Per Rambam All the commandments that were given to Moshe at Sinai were given together with their interpretation, as it is written "and I will give thee the Tables of Stone, and the Law, and the Commandment" (Exodus 24,12). "Law" is the Written Law; and "Commandment" etc...

First this is an assumtion or belief not a provable fact. The Torah doesn't make clear that Moshe received all that the Rambam claims it's rather a tenant of faith.

Second From memory:

The Torah writes in context: the Tables of Stone, and the Law, and the Commandment" for you to observe WHICH I HAVE WRITTEN in order to teach them etc...

The point is ALL law etc.. were written and no Oral transmission is mentioned or implied here.

For the record I'm not a denier of the Oral Torah but I think the Rabbi's threw the term around and had little clue of what oral tradition remained after many exiles. wars, etc...

The disput's among themselves (Hillel & Shammai etc..., the majority rules to decide Halacha is more then enough proof that Rabbi's were creating a their own system vs. keepers of an in tact oral transmission.

Avot was an attempt to give their new sect legitimacy back to Sinai where no connection ever existed.

Many modern scholars have determined the Rabbi's were a post 2nd temple sect not part of an old intact order from Sinai.

Very complicated subject to reduce to a few talking points.

Freelance Kiruv Maniac said...

First this is an assumption or belief not a provable fact. The Torah doesn't make clear that Moshe received all that the Rambam claims it's rather a tenant of faith.

Let's make one thing clear. According to you definition above, the Rambam now fits your description of a fundamentalist, correct?

Second, you've set up a false dichotomy. You seem to claim that whatever cannot be proven from a text must be a tenant of faith.
This is simply incorrect. An oral tradition can neither be proven from the text nor is it a tenant of faith.
The sad reality is that secular scholars do not recognize the validity of our oral traditions going back to Sinai and therefore many Jews like you have been convinced that most of it is a fairy tale/hoax of the rabbis. How very sad.

For the record I'm not a denier of the Oral Torah but I think the Rabbi's threw the term around and had little clue of what oral tradition remained after many exiles. wars, etc...

Any evidence for this claim? They recorded what they preserved and openly admitted to any gaps they had in the transmission. Is there any reason to believe they exaggerated about what was preserved?
By "reason" I mean actual evidence--not retro-psychoanalysis of people who lived over a thousand years ago.



The disputes among themselves (Hillel & Shammai etc..., the majority rules to decide Halacha is more then enough proof that Rabbi's were creating a their own system vs. keepers of an in tact oral transmission.


What does the oral law have to do with this?
I'm afraid the rule of following a majority of the court judges is an explicit verse in the Torah: "incline after the majority" in Exodus chapt 23 ver.2 and is invoked explicitly throughout Talmudic literature and the basis for following the majority in the rulings of Sanhedrin. Hilllel and Shamai were members of the court of the Sanhedrin


Avot was an attempt to give their new sect legitimacy back to Sinai where no connection ever existed.

Many modern scholars have determined the Rabbi's were a post 2nd temple sect not part of an old intact order from Sinai.


I claim this "determination" pure speculation.
Where is the evidence that there was no unbroken ORAL tradition from Sinai to the 2nd Temple? It is because we lack rabbinic texts from before that period?
Well, if that's the only evidence, then, um, I'm afraid these modern scholars simply don't know the meaning of the words "ORAL tradition".


Very complicated subject to reduce to a few talking points.

Well if you want to be taken seriously about what you've just said about this subject, you're going to have to do a little better.
All you've done is simply assumed that most of the Oral tradition is a fabrication of the rabbis and built an entire edifice of history and religion on that weak assumption. Ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

I read some of the comments but not all, sorry if I repeat what someone else said.

I recently was on a business trip, and went out to eat with colleagues at a dairy, non-kosher restaurant. I ordered a fish dish that included no problematic ingredients and made sure they used utensils that have not been used in the past day.

At the time, I did not worry about bishul nokhri. Looking back on it, however, I do feel that participating in the cooking process in some way would have heightened my own sense of distinctiveness from my non-Jewish colleagues. In fact, I think that a business meeting in which you meet with non-Jews on their "home turf" is exactly the type of situation in which heightening your sense of distinction can be very important.