Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Is Our Torah The Exact Same As Moshe's?

In a comment on my previous post, Nate pointed to an article on Rabbi Dovid Gottlieb's website concerning the accuracy of our present-day Torahs.  The article asserts that the Torah that we have today is letter-for-letter* the same as the Torah that God gave to Moshe on Mt. Sinai.  Nate then followed the link with the words "UNDISPUTED AND 100% TRUTH."   Sadly, the point is not undisputed nor is it 100% truth.

The article actually originated on Aish HaTorah's website and can be read here.  The main points of the article are as follows:


  • Moshe wrote the Torah.
  • This Torah (or, perhaps later on, others based on this Torah scroll) were kept in the Bais HaMikdash as a model and standard.
  • New Torah scrolls that were written would be checked against this Torah.
  • Sofrim (scribes) were very careful not to add/delete/change anything since any change makes a Sefer Torah invalid.
  • The Torah has a built-in "security system" that prevents invalid Torahs from being used.
  • The end result is that, as of today, the only variant that exists of the Torah is the Yemenite Torah, which has nine minor spelling variations  from the "standard" version.  These variations are all minor spelling differences (as British spelling differs from American spelling) and do not change the meanings of any words.  Otherwise, every Torah we use today is the same letter-for-letter that God gave to Moshe.
  • This is very impressive because, compared with the Christian Bible (what is commonly called "The New Testament") the Torah is remarkably stable.  The Christian Bible has well over 200,000 variant letters.  We have nine.

Therefore, you can rely, with a high degree of confidence, that the Torah that we have today is *exactly* the same as the one that Moshe left for us at the end of his life.

The problem with all this is that most of those points are either exaggerations or just plain wrong.  Let's go through these points and examine them.

I'm going to grant the author of the article the first two points as given.  If we don't agree that Moshe wrote the Torah, then there is really no point in the rest of the article.  I am also going to assume that he did, in fact, leave a Torah as a standard.

However, it becomes clear that, at some point, that standard became corrupted.  For example, consider the event recounted in Meseches Sofrim.  In it, Reish Lakish recounts that three Sifrei Torah were found in the Bais HaMikdash:

One book was called "The Ma'on Book."  The reason it was so called was because Devraim 33:27 started out with the word "Ma'on."  In the other two, it started out with the word "M'onah."

The second book was called "The Zatutei Book."  It was so called because in it, the text of Sh'mos 24:5 says "And he sent to the  'Zatutei' (young men) of the Children of Israel..."  In the other two books, the word "Na'arei" replaced "Zatutei."

The third book was called the "Hee Book."  It was so called because it had one set of variant spellings of the word Hee in Hebrew, while the other two had a different set of spellings**.

In each case, in establishing the correct reading, the Sages followed the majority.  They rejected the reading of "Ma'on" and instituted "M'onah."  They rejected the reading of "Zatutei" and instituted "Na'arei."  The rejected the spellings in the Hee Book and accepted the spellings in the other two books.  Those readings became the standard and, indeed, are in our Sifrei Torah today.

There are several points that need to be made about this story.


  • The first point to be made is that there was no single model text that could be used to check against.  Indeed, these three texts *were* the model texts that were used.  These were the Sifrei Torah that were found in the Temple Courtyard.  If there was an alternate authoritative text, the Sages could simply have consulted it to determine the correct text for each of the three cases.  The sad fact, however, is that there was no single authoritative text to compare these to -- these *were* the authoritative texts -- and now they were at variance with one another.  As a result, the Sages had to establish the correct text and, in each case, went with the majority.
  • The second point to be made from this story is that the so-called "built-in security system" failed... and failed miserably.  It's one thing if an error creeps into a text in a backwater shul somewhere where perhaps only a few people were even capable of reading the sefer and where, if an error is found in the book, it could be isolated.  This, however, was an entirely different matter.  Here, textual variants are showing up in the model texts themselves.  And, I'd bet dollars to donuts, that these variants didn't just show up in only these three books.  I highly doubt the Sages woke up one morning and decided to check the Temple scrolls against each other just for the heck of it.  I'd be willing to bet that they were getting numerous reports of variant readings and needed to investigate.  And, furthermore, I'd be willing to bet that after an informal survey of the scrolls in their own personal libraries and in the shuls and study halls in Jerusalem (which were probably used on a daily basis), they found variant readings too -- otherwise, why start comparing the Temple scrolls against each other?  So, they went to the Temple to get the authoritative reading, and found that even there, there was no single text.  Clearly, when the authoritative texts have variants, the "security system" has failed.
  • The third, and perhaps most startling point to be made is this -- at the end of the story, we find that *none* of the three authoritative model texts was kosher!  Every single one of them was invalid.  One had a variant reading in Devarim, one had a variant in Sh'mos and one had variants in the spelling of Hu/Hee.  But *none* of the three had the text that we have today!  In other words, in the end, the standard text that we have today was based on a combination of these three texts.


You might think that this settled the matter and that, at least, from this point onward, we would have a unified standard text.  Alas, such was not the case.  There are several places in the Talmud where the Gemara quotes a different text than the one we have.  One of the more famous examples is the Gemara in Sanhedrin where one of the three reading of the word "Totafos" has an extra vav -- and that extra vav is used to help determine that there are four compartments in the Tefillin Shel Rosh.  However, in the end, even the Gemara attests to the fact that we don't necessarily have accurate spellings for all the words in the Torah.  The Gemara states that we are not expert in chasser and malei (i.e. words that have "extra" letters to represent vowels).

The Rambam, in the 12th century, famously went to view the bible today knows as the Aleppo Codex (also known as the Kesser Aram Tzovah), to determine the standard text and spacings in the Torah scrolls.  It should be noted that, obviously, the Rambam did not have a scroll at his disposal which he considered authoritative enough.

Likewise, the Rav Mair HeLeivi Abulafia (13th century) writes in the preface to his work Mesores Siyug L'Torah  that in his day there were doubts as to the correct reading.  He, like the Sages in the Temple, relied on a "majority rules" principle to establish the text which he published in his sefer.  Likewise, Yaakov ben Chayim (early 16th century), who published the first edition of the Mikraos Gedolos, noted that there were variant readings in his day.  Nonetheless, with the adoption of the Mikraos Gedolos and the invention of the printing press, a standard text was finally adopted.

But even that's not the end of the matter.  As noted above, the Yemenites have a slightly different Torah than we do.  Although the author claims that the differences are only spelling there is at least one case where the spelling does change the meaning of a word (from a singular to a plural).  Furthermore, even setting aside the Yemenite Torahs, there is still at least one textual variant extant today -- the final letter of the word "Dakah" in Devarim 23:2 is spelled in some Sifrei Torah with an aleph and in others with a Heh.  But aside from these few cases, the text that we (finally) have today has been standardized.

The article tries to make the case that we can authoritatively state that our Torahs are accurate (vis a vis the Torah gave to Moshe) because of the traditions of the scribes.  For example, the article makes the point that there was a Torah in Jerusalem that was used as the model against which others were judged.  We've already seen that the model wasn't always accurate either, but let's put that point aside for the moment and assume, for the sake of argument, that the model is 100% accurate.  There are still several assumptions that are being made by the author of the article that are not, in fact, in evidence:

The first point to be made is that a model text is only good if it's actually used.  There is no indication anywhere that in the centuries after Moshe that scribes and other people *routinely* brought their Torah scrolls to Jerusalem to check them against the model.  It's not very difficult to see how an error can creep into a sefer and stay there.  Likewise, it's not too difficult to see how an inaccurate version can be copied to other texts.  In a place where there aren't very many Sifrei Torah circulating about (as you can imagine would be the situation in Israel between the time of Joshua and the Exile), it's very easy for an inaccurate text to be copied to another one.

Just consider the three variant scrolls that were eventually found in the Temple.  Do you think that they were first scrolls to have those variations?  Or is it more likely that they were copied from other variant scrolls?  I would argue the latter -- especially if you're also going to posit that scribes were generally very careful with their work.

Another assumption that is being made by the author is that the laws regarding the writing of a Sefer Torah (i.e. pronouncing each word out loud before writing, not writing by heart, etc.) were always the same as they are today AND that those laws were universally observed.  Neither of those (and certainly not in latter) can be said to be true 100% of the time.  It's certainly not inconceivable that there might have been scribes who were less than scrupulous with their work and did, indeed, introduce errors into their work.

Lastly, the author tries to make the comparison between the accuracy of our Torahs and the Christian Bible.  He states that there are only nine spelling variants extant today, while showing that there are thousands of variants of the Christian Bible.

I'm not an expert in the Christian Bible, so I can't speak to that point directly.  But what I do know is that the author is making a false comparison.  The author, in making his point, is outright dismissing any known variant text to our Bible (Yemenite Torahs excepted).  He's conveniently forgetting that there are variations of our text that do exist -- and they're still around today.  The Samaritan Bible, the Septiguant, the Dead Sea Scrolls, et al are all still extant and can be read to this very day.  By forgetting them (or, more likely dismissing them), the author is engaging in a form of the "No True Scotsman" fallacy.  In short, he's claiming the to reject any variants he doesn't like as non-authoritative while, at the same time, holding Christians to task for all their variants.

Of course, Nate makes the very same error when he says "UNDISPUTED" regarding the article.  What he means is "undisputed by anyone who agrees with it," which, again, is a form of the No True Scotsman fallacy. But it's pretty clear that it can, indeed be disputed whether or not the Torah text we have today is a letter-for-letter copy of Moshe's.

The Wolf



* The author of the article does acknowledge that the Yemenite Torahs are different than ours in nine places.

** In later writings, the word "Hee" is written Hey-Yud-Aleph.  However, in the Torah, it is often spelled Hey-Vuv-Aleph, the same as the word "Hu."  However, there are a number of places where the Torah uses the first spelling.  The differences between the scrolls was in where the exceptional spelling was used.

140 comments:

Commenter Abbi said...

You didn't even address the issue of ashuri script vs. ancient Hebrew script.
There are so many intelligent ways to understand Torah m'sinai. I don't know why people have to write foolish articles like this.

G*3 said...

> It's certainly not inconceivable that there might have been scribes who were less than scrupulous with their work and did, indeed, introduce errors into their work.

Even the most scrupulous sofrim today make mistakes. With something the length of a sefer torah, its inevitable.

> In short, he's claiming the to reject any variants he doesn't like as non-authoritative while, at the same time, holding Christians to task for all their variants.

Are the thousands of variants he cites in the New Testament in different versions of the original Hebrew and Greek, or even Latin? Or are they in the hundreds of different translated versions? It’s disingenuous to compare word-for-word copies with variations in translations.

> But it's pretty clear that it can, indeed be disputed whether or not the Torah text we have today is a letter-for-letter copy of Moshe's.

Your post shows clearly that in fact it cannot be disputed. The Torah we have today is NOT a letter-for-letter copy of Moshe's.

As interesting as the subject is, why are you bothering responding to Nate? He’s nuts even by Charedi standards.

BrooklynWolf said...

Abbie,

There was so much material to cover. As it is, I just barely touched on the Septuigant, Dead Sea Scrolls and other variants.

G*3'

A. I've been meaning to do a post on this topic for a while anyway. Nate just gave me a reminder and a good quote to work off of.

B. It's really ore of a response to Aish than to Nate.

The Wolf

S. said...

>The second point to be made from this story is that the so-called "built-in security system" failed... and failed miserably.

Nah, it just wasn't invented yet.

Re the Christian variants, to epxand upon your point, it's unclear what he means. Is he comparing Gospel details against one another? If so, compare Kings and Chronicles, or words like Dodanim in Genesis, written as Rodanim in Chronicles. That's the same kind of variant. Is he comparing versions, Greek and non-Greek? Then there are variants in the Old Testament, too. So where does the number 200,000 come from?

Whatever, Aish needs to find a new game, because of the Google Oracle.

SQ said...

See here:
The things that you're liable to read in the Bible

ItcheSrulik said...

Here are a couple random thoughts on your piece not aiming to take any sides.

1-of the 9 places the author mentions, I only know of 2. One of them, by the way, has a rashi on it that happens to be a favorite of elementary school rebbeim.

2- You're committing a fallacy when you say that none of the authoritative books were kosher. One had to be, we just don't know which one.

3- You mention the keter. Granting the keter as the supreme textual authority, the Keter was written nearly 1000 years after the Second churban

4- The variant texts such as the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Samaritan Bible proves nothing. Rabbinic Judaism comes (or sees itself as coming from) the traditions of the Pharisees. Other sects don't count since we are talking about the transmission of our mesorah. Other sects' scribal fidelity is suspect because of their respective heresies. (not hte best argument, but a valid one from a certain perspective)

5- The septuagint and NT are out of the picture entirely. We're talking about transmitting original orthography, not translations and retranslations.

E-Man said...

You know, there are a slew of opinions in the Rishonim as to how dissimilar our Torah is from the one Moshe received. Ramban seems to say that we have the same exact Torah, but other than him most say there are either few variants, or many varients depending on the rishon.

Englishman said...

How do you account for the fact that the Torah scroll in the Ashkenazic and Sefardic world are the same, and compared to the Yemenite version has only 9 minor (mostly spelling) differences?

This considering the large divergences in the Ashkenazic and Sefardic world, and the near isolation of the Yemenite Jewry. Yet the such few and minor differences.

Englishman said...

The Samaritan Bible, the Septiguant, the Dead Sea Scrolls, et al are all irrelevant to this discussion.

The Samaritan are a corrupted people and texts in all regards. The Septiguant is too corrupted. As is the Dead Sea Scrolls.

mlevin said...

"How do you account for the fact that the Torah scroll in the Ashkenazic and Sefardic world are the same, and compared to the Yemenite version has only 9 minor (mostly spelling) differences?"

The rift which created Sefardim and Ashkenazim happened after the "FailSafe" was implemented.

S. said...

The folks who are saying that the Septuagint, etc. are out of the discussion are missing the point - you can't contrast the Hebrew Bible, with its small number of variants, with the New Testament and its large number if by "Hebrew Bible" you mean only the Masoretic Text, but by "New Testament" you mean the Greek, the Latin Vulgate, the Peshitta, the Ethiopic, etc. The number 200,000 is cooked up. Maybe the Tanach and its several versions have several thousand variations too, no? There are 6000 differences between our Torah and the Samaritan. Either we count it or we discount the widest possible count for the Christian Bible. It's no fair to pit a scenario that is convenient for us against a scenario that is supposedly inconvenient for Christians.

S. said...

>How do you account for the fact that the Torah scroll in the Ashkenazic and Sefardic world are the same, and compared to the Yemenite version has only 9 minor (mostly spelling) differences?

Assuming that's really true, the printing press and masoretic scholars who worked out the problems and were machria.

Jenny said...

Wolf -

In your critique of the substance of this ridiculous article, you are overlooking the main problem with this view. It's unnecessary. Why does Aish believe that it's important that our Torah be exactly the same as what Moshe Rabbenu received? Is it a hashkafic matter? If so, where does it come from? Or do they simply think that such a claim will impress potential baalei teshuva?

Mike S. said...

Our text is manifestly different from that of the amoraim (see the yesh im l'mikra yesh im lamasoret drashas in beginning of Sanhedrin at least one of which does not work with our sefarim) at least as regards plene and defective spellings (chaser v'yeter). And the gemara already asserts that they are no longer expert in plene and defective spellings., But of course Aish is more knowledgable than the amoraim.

E-Man said...

"2- You're committing a fallacy when you say that none of the authoritative books were kosher. One had to be, we just don't know which one."

I don't know if anyone else picked up on this bad logic, but I just need to point this out. If one of the Sefer Torah's was authoritative and completely correct then this method of using the majority rule would make every subsequent Torah have at least one false word it in. However, if all of them had at least one mistake and the majority rule was how the original Torah was, every subsequent Torah would be correct.So, I hope Wolf is not stating a fallacy or else there is no chance we have the correct Torah.

Garnel Ironheart said...

The claim that we have the same Torah, letter for letter, as Moshe Rabeinu, is only part of a bigger problem, that of historical revisionism, that is currently one of the battles within the Torah-observant world.
On one side there are those who recognize that our ancestors did not wear shrteimls at Har Sinai, might have eaten chicken cheeseburgers during First Temple times and so on. Within the framework set down by the Torah, Judaism developed over the millenia while remaining faithful to the original guiding principles.
On the other side are those who cannot imagine Judaism ever having been different from how they practice it today. In the face of contrasting evidence, they revise history. We always dressed this way. We always davened this way. We always spoke this way. And to buttress their point they make that belief the 14th principle of faith.
Focusing on something like "Has the Torah changed" is small potatoes when the historical truth of Judaism is at stake.

Nate said...

This is a perfect example of the definition of kefira.

There are no codexes, Scotsman, or any other of this drivel you talk about. The Torah that you have in shul is indisputably the exact same one that Moshe carried down from Sinai, NOT written by Moshe, but by God Himself. Daas Torah vs your kefira. Moshe sat and watched as God wrote it. He probably carried it down with a silver crown on top like we have in shul too.

Avram in MD said...

Wolf,

You are quite correct that you are not an expert in the Christian Bible. In your zeal to accuse rabbis of making false comparisons, you unfortunately have made a large one yourself.

First, the Samaritan and Septuagint texts are not variant texts, they are translations. Not even in the same language. Second, these different texts were not under the control of Pharasaic leaders, which is why they absolutely can be disregarded.

When we are talking about variants of the Christian texts, we are talking about different versions of the Greek text, not the NIV vs. the King James vs. the Vulgate. And not different Greek texts among different sects of Christianity. We're talking about differing Greek texts all within the Catholic Church in Rome.

And these variants in the Greek are not over a letter here, a letter there, which give different spellings for the same word. We're talking whole chapters with entire meanings and intents changed. Priests writing new stories in the margins of their copies, and the next priest adding it right into the text.

For us to have an equivalent in Judaism, we'd have to have sifrei Torah scrolls with midrashim thrown right in. We don't have that.

Yes, we are human. Yes, the Aish article was silly for claiming there were NO errors when in fact there are a handful of uncertain letters. But... is it possible you are making a huge mountain out of a molehill? Are we going to stop keeping Shabbos because a yud in your sefer Torah is a vav in mine? Unless you're into the "Bible code" stuff, these one-letter issues don't affect much of anything. The accuracy of the transmission of the Torah text by mainstream Judaism through the ages is nothing less than remarkable.

Garnel Ironheart said...

Now I know Nate is just a false cover for some OTD'nik interested in making frum people took bad.
Moshe wrote the Torah, God just dictated. The only parts God wrote down were on the luchos. Look it up in the Chumash.
The Torah we have today has several minor, non-significant variances with the original. Look it up in the Gemara. The Chazal were more honest than those who nowadays pretend to defend their honour.
But you know that "Nate", don't you?

Some Guy said...

Jenny said about Aish... "Or do they simply think that such a claim will impress potential baalei teshuva?"

Yes, I think they believe that baalei teshuva are highly impressed with supernatural gimmickry, spooky miracle stories, divine suspension of the natural order, mysterious messages encrypted in ancient books, and other creepy-crawly spine-tingling goodies. Luckily, most BTs who decide to stay on-board eventually outgrow all this nonsense, and find more genuine reasons to cherish Judaism. Still, I think Aish does a great disservice to Judaism by promoting such childish ideas.

Some Guy said...

Garnel, if you have read some of Nate's posts, you will realize that he doesn't actually know much of anything.

rebeljew said...

http://rebeljew.blogspot.com/2011/02/disappearing-vav.html

http://rebeljew.blogspot.com/2009_12_01_archive.html
(Re:Dishon or Dishan)

BrooklynWolf said...

You're committing a fallacy when you say that none of the authoritative books were kosher. One had to be, we just don't know which one.

Perhaps I wasn't clear. What I meant was that by the standard adopted after they resolved the issue with the three scrolls, it turns out that none of them are kosher post-facto, since none of them had what eventually became the accepted reading in all three cases.

The Wolf

BrooklynWolf said...

Focusing on something like "Has the Torah changed" is small potatoes when the historical truth of Judaism is at stake.

True, but this seems to have become a dogmatic point with others. All except the most lunatic will, when pressed, admit to you that the Jews didn't wear streimels in the wilderness. This idea, however, seems to have taken root.

Granted, there are bigger fish to fry... but there are always bigger fish to fry and I don't want to only focus on the "big" issues.

The Wolf

BrooklynWolf said...

But... is it possible you are making a huge mountain out of a molehill? Are we going to stop keeping Shabbos because a yud in your sefer Torah is a vav in mine?

No, I won't. But when Aish and other such organizations make this one of the foundations of Judaism (and they do), I cringe. Maybe I won't stop keeping Shabbos because of it, but someone else may feel terribly betrayed and used -- and may, indeed decide the whole venture is a lie.

The Wolf

BrooklynWolf said...

Now I know Nate is just a false cover for some OTD'nik interested in making frum people took bad.

Yeah, I'm beginning to suspect the same thing. :)

The Wolf

S. said...

>First, the Samaritan and Septuagint texts are not variant texts, they are translations. Not even in the same language.

>When we are talking about variants of the Christian texts, we are talking about different versions of the Greek text, not the NIV vs. the King James vs. the Vulgate.

Pardon me, Mr. Expert, but please look up what a "version" means in biblical study parlance.

Secondly, the issue is that Aish apparently *is* holding all Christian versions against the Masoretic text alone.

Thirdly, how many variants are in the Koran?

>We're talking about differing Greek texts all within the Catholic Church in Rome.

The Catholic Church in Rome uses a Greek text? Please, at least do some rudimentary homework.

S. said...

*sigh* That above comment by me was unnecessarily nasty, and I apologize to Avram for the tone.

Nate said...

Aish HaTorah is the penultimate savior of Jewish souls, and they have NEVER said anything on their site or in person that is contrary to Daas Torah.
If you think I'm just trolling and am OTD, I invite you to come to see me in person at my shul on Clarks Lane in Baltimore. I'll be the one with the tallis over my head, as is the halacha. I don't play around and don't say things to get a rise out of anyone. I speak truth only.
You guys are the only ones I have ever heard of who question the authenticity of our Torah, even a single crown on a letter is exactly as was dictated by Hashem. All the spaces and letters are precisely as Moshe himself wrote it, from beginning to end, on Sinai, NOT piecemeal and NOT over 40 years, but all at the same time on Sinai.
Anyone who disputes this is a pure kofer mamash. That includes Slifkin and his idiot cronies as well, no matter how many Rishonim he quotes. Rav Shechter told him to shut up, and he refused a direct order from a Gadol, making him a complete Rasha.
All of this heresy is a product of assimilation and the obstinance of such places as YU, pretending they are a yeshiva and teaching minor opinions that have been rejected by Gedolei Yisroel, which makes them worthless.
We do not question the accuracy of our Torah or the Mesorah that goes along with it. It is exactly what Moshe wrote and what the Bnei Yisrael learned from every day, including Mishnayos in its oral form.

BrooklynWolf said...

All the spaces and letters are precisely as Moshe himself wrote it, from beginning to end, on Sinai, NOT piecemeal and NOT over 40 years, but all at the same time on Sinai.
Anyone who disputes this is a pure kofer mamash.


So, I suppose the tanna R. Yochanan, who held the Torah wasn't completed until after the 40 years in the midbar (megillah megillah nitnah -- Gittin 60a) is a "pure kofer mamash" according to you?

The Wolf

Nate said...

You pick 1 person and from that you gather something? I suppose you are one of those who thinks that Rashi held that God had a body too? All nonsense, all kefira.

And I'll tell you something else. A few months back I had this same discussion with another blog, and took the liberty of calling the principal of 2 separate yeshiva high schools, and BOTH said that what I say is precisely what they continue to teach the kids to this day, because that is Daas Torah. They thought I was looking to send my kid there and said if I want to send them to a place where they teach kefira, call some MO school.

Jewish Atheist said...

This entire discussion is a farce. The only people who think that Moshe received the Torah are Orthodox Jews and ignorant Christian fundamentalists. Even Catholics and mainline (educated) Protestants, let alone secular scholars, accept that the Pentateuch is a collection of writings put together over centuries, finalized somewhere around Ezra's time.

Nate is ridiculous, but you're doing the same thing on this issue. You:Nate::Me:You.

Are you going to ignore this comment? :-)

BrooklynWolf said...

You pick 1 person and from that you gather something?

I'm asking you about that one person.

You said that anyone who says that the Torah was completed at the end of the 40 years is a "pure kofer mamash." I gave you an explicit source of someone who says just that. Is that person a "pure mamash kofer" or not?

The Wolf

BrooklynWolf said...

JA,

I believe I made the point in my post that the whole thing is predicated on the assumption that Moshe wrote the Torah.

If you don't agree with that, then fine -- but I did make it clear that that was the basis of the discussion.

The Wolf

Garnel Ironheart said...

Um Nate, the gemara says that by the time of Chazal they no longer knew the proper way to count words and verses. Were they kofrim?
Rashi complains of unnecessary words in the text of the Torah, words that don't appear in any scroll nowadays. Was he making it up?
By insisting on a standard that even Chazal admitted didn't exist, you just make the rest of us look ridiculous and you deny the words of Chazal.

Nate said...

Even Catholics and mainline (educated) Protestants,

What is that supposed to mean? Educated goyim are among the lowest forms of life on Earth, and a s such you can't bring any proofs from them.

And R'Yochanan was entitled to how wrong opinion, even if it is kefirah.

Nate said...

Garnel, the Mesorah is UNBROKEN. It is not "the best we can do" or "all we have left". Rav Eliashuv is today's Moshe Rabbeinu.

BrooklynWolf said...

And R'Yochanan was entitled to how wrong opinion, even if it is kefirah.

How can someone be entitled to have an opinion that is kefirah and not be a kofer?

The Wolf

Nate said...

Now let's hear all your wrong ideas about what is supposedly wrong with Aish HaTorah.
The Discovery seminar has saved gazillions of Jewish souls. The Torah codes are a proven fact, beyond a shadow of a doubt. So what's the problem? Lemme guess. Somebody from there molested a child, the usual crapola used by the kofrim to denigrate Torah true yidden.

BrooklynWolf said...

It is exactly what Moshe wrote and what the Bnei Yisrael learned from every day, including Mishnayos in its oral form.

I'm curious, Nate, is it also your opinion that the Mishnayos as they exist today were given at Sinai and transmitted down the generations as well?

The Wolf

Nate said...

How can someone be entitled to have an opinion that is kefirah and not be a kofer?

'Cuz he was Chazal, so its not really kefira, you just don't understand what he was saying. Much the same as when they supposedly said the Earth is flat, which also never happened, yet Slifkin has built an entire religion about the so-called fallibility of Chazal. Chazal are infallible and perfect. If they said something that seems otherwise, you need to learn more.

BrooklynWolf said...

'Cuz he was Chazal, so its not really kefira, you just don't understand what he was saying.

Ah, so your point is "R. Yochanan didn't really mean that, he meant something else." If that's the case, please provide some (any!) explanation of what he might have meant and still be in agreement with your position that the entire Torah was written on Sinai.

The Wolf

Nate said...

I'm curious, Nate, is it also your opinion that the Mishnayos as they exist today were given at Sinai and transmitted down the generations as well?

No, it's everyone's opinion. At least the opinion of those who matter. Mishnayos as far as what was given means the parts that do not include Rabbinic opinions, ie the law part, not the discussion part.
Example: Ohr l'arba asar, bodkin es hachametz. That's what was given on Sinai. As far as what "ohr" means, that was debated generations later when the original understanding was forgotten.

BrooklynWolf said...

No, it's everyone's opinion. At least the opinion of those who matter. Mishnayos as far as what was given means the parts that do not include Rabbinic opinions, ie the law part, not the discussion part.

Fair enough. Thank you.

The Wolf

Nate said...

Makes no difference what RY meant. The Torah itself says Hashem gave Moshe the Torah, not a piece of it to be continued at a later date.

BrooklynWolf said...

Nate,

A follow up question, if you will.

You maintain that we received the entire Torah as we have it on Sinai. All 304,805 letters, all the parsha breaks, etc., correct?

So how do you explain the parsha of daughters inheriting. Clearly that law wasn't given on Sinai. If the parsha of Tzelofchod's daughters was already given, would Moshe not already have known?

How about Moshe's sin? Are you maintaining that he knew about it in advance and yet still went ahead and did it anyway?

What about the parsha of Pesach Sheini?

What about the Parsha of Korach's rebellion? Or the spies? Did Moshe know in advance (having already received Parshas Sh'lach) that the spies would speak evil about the land and send them anyway? Did the spies themselves (since they presumably learned Torah too) know in advance that they would sin? And yet they did it anyway?

And what about the wood-gatherer where the pasuk *explicitly* states that the punishment for Sabbath violation wasn't yet specified -- and that happened after Sinai.

The Wolf

BrooklynWolf said...

Makes no difference what RY meant. The Torah itself says Hashem gave Moshe the Torah, not a piece of it to be continued at a later date.

Source, please. Where does it explicitly say in the Torah that the entire thing was given on Sinai on 6 Sivan?

The Wolf

n said...

It doesn't have to say explicitly. The fact that it doesn't say anything limiting expressly means it is not limiting, i.e. it was given completely. Just like if it says "bread", it means bread, not a bag of flour and a pot of water. Torah means Torah, not 3 out of 5 books, or 500 out of 613 laws.
Moshe knew everything before it happened. Meforshim say he even wrote his own death before it happened, with tears in his eyes. And don't try to ask why he didn't decide not to hit the rock if he knew he would be punished for it. It's irrelevant, and not for us to know. He wrote it, he did it, he was punished for it, the end. All our job is, is to accept that it happened, not to figure out the whats and why's.

BrooklynWolf said...

It doesn't have to say explicitly.

Yes it does... especially when logic tells me otherwise. A reading of the Torah itself makes it very clear that Moshe did not receive it in it's present form on 6 Sivan 2448.

Moshe knew everything before it happened. Meforshim say he even wrote his own death before it happened, with tears in his eyes. And don't try to ask why he didn't decide not to hit the rock if he knew he would be punished for it. It's irrelevant, and not for us to know.

I believe it's very relevant. Otherwise, it makes Moshe out to be a fool, something that neither you nor I believe.

And you still didn't answer my questions regarding the various parshiyos I mentioned.

The Wolf

Jewish Atheist said...

I believe I made the point in my post that the whole thing is predicated on the assumption that Moshe wrote the Torah.

That's why I called it a farce. As long as you're not willing to question your assumptions, this is all just intellectual masturbation. Moreover, it's exactly what Nate does -- he simply has many more assumptions.

BrooklynWolf said...

JA,

Fair enough. I suppose from your perspective it would be a farce. I can certainly understand that.

I suppose that's the point from where we simply have to disagree.

The Wolf

Nate said...

I addressed all the parshiyos you mentioned in 1 simple statement. He knew it all before they happened.

"especially when logic tells me otherwise."

You assume that Torah runs by your logic and human logic in general. It doesn't. The red heifer proves that. Torah is not logical, nor was it intended to be so.

"A reading of the Torah itself makes it very clear that Moshe did not receive it in it's present form on 6 Sivan 2448."

Not sure what version you're reading, but mine makes it very clear that it was given in its entirety. And our Mesorah backs it up. The people in the desert learned the same Mishnayos we learn today, albeit with no commentary because they didn't need opinions, they learned it from its Source. And it makes no indication that Moshe was a fool. He was beyond our understanding in terms of what he knew, learned, understood, etc. You think he was just some ordinary guy who happened to walk up a mountain and get some blocks of stone. He was beyond human intellect, the closest thing to God that man can be.
In the same way you can't comprehend that an animal can purify the impure and at the same time render the pure impure. Just accept it as fact and move on. That's our prime directive.

BrooklynWolf said...

He knew it all before they happened.

So why didn't he know the din of a daughter inheriting? Why didn't he know about Pesach Sheini?

And why does the pasuk *explicitly* state that the punishment for wood-gathering on Shabbos had *not yet* been specified! Obviously that law was NOT given on 6 Sivan.

The Wolf

Nate said...

And all the examples you mentioned, the Torah doesn't say Moshe didn't know the answers. He may have forgotten, he may have misunderstood some things that needed clarification. He had the references though, that is for sure. And yes, he knew all about the spies, Korach, etc ahead of time. The same way that you know that giving your child a vaccine will hurt ahead of time, but you get it done anyway, hoping it won't hurt too much.

S. said...

>That's why I called it a farce. As long as you're not willing to question your assumptions, this is all just intellectual masturbation. Moreover, it's exactly what Nate does -- he simply has many more assumptions.

At a certain point in time the Torah was more or less in its present form. Let's say the 3rd century BCE. So you can still treat the question the same way. Of course, given the Septuagint, Samaritan, Dead Sea Scrolls, and various evidences from rabbinic writings the answer is clearly, no, the Torah was not letter for letter the same now as it was then, but I don't see why the discussion changes substantially. You say Tomato, and I say the Torah is a thousand years older. Like the premise or not, but the discussion is not so different no matter how old the Torah in its completed form is.

Nate said...

nd the Children of Israel were in the desert, and they found a man gathering sticks on the day of Shabbat.

And they who found him gathering sticks brought him to Moshe, Aharon and the entire congregation.

And they placed him into a guarded place because it was unclear what to do to him.

And HaShem Said to Moshe: The man will surely die; the entire congregation is to stone him with stones outside of the encampment.


Read it again Wolf. It was UNCLEAR what to do to him. It doesn't say it had not yet been specified.

Every example you bring can be explained in a similar manner. Moshe was close to perfect, but not totally perfect, otherwise we would be able to say we are not perfect and therefore can't possibly attain such a level. Point being, now that we see even he had to do some research and consulting, so we can attain his level.


I rest my case.

BrooklynWolf said...

Read it again Wolf. It was UNCLEAR what to do to him. It doesn't say it had not yet been specified.

On the contrary... something was unspecified.

Whether it was that a Shabbos-desecrator gets stoned, or the dinim of stoning -- but clearly there was a lack of knowledge that we, today, have. Whatever that knowledge was, was clearly not given on Sinai.

And yes, he knew all about the spies, Korach, etc ahead of time.

OK, now you're heading into the land of the loopy. You do realize that according to Rashi, the sending of the spies was optional, right? So, you're telling me that Moshe sent the spies in, knowing in advance the repercussions (your analogy to a child's vaccine is patently ridiculous) resulting in 40 years in the wilderness, over 600,000 deaths and the kindling of God's wrath against Klal Yisroel is just plain nuts.

Put it this way, Nate. Your entitled to your opinion on the matter -- I just think it's bonkers.

The Wolf

Mike S. said...

Nate: Look at the gemara in Sanhedrin, I believe daf 4 but I am going from memory, where it derives halacha from the fact that "karnot" is written twice chaser (i.e. no vav before the tav) and one time malei (with a vav.) Rashi will helpfully tell you exactly where. Then go look at the sefer torah in your shul; it will have the word written chaser all 3 times. Then you might, if you are so inclined look at all the shailot and tshuvot about whether we should correct our seformim to match those of the Amoraim. The earliest one I rememeber was by the Rashb"a. You can also look up the collection of cases (a couple dozen as I recall) that R. Akiva Eiger brings (I have forgotten on which daf, but perhaps someone will helpfully supply the info.) down where the gemara has a drash from a passuk that differs from our seforim of Tanach.

Then you can explain the Gemara where the Amoraim explicitly state that they were unsure which words should be written chaser and which malei. And the Rishonim and Acharonim who derive halacha from that statement.

And then you will know that holy and learned rabbonim throughout the generations have understood that we do not possess a sefer torah that we are confident is a correct copy of Moshe Rabbeinu's.

Avram in MD said...

Nate, you wrote:

Chazal are infallible and perfect

but then you wrote:

Moshe was close to perfect, but not totally perfect

Please reconcile?

Nate, aka Daas Torah said...

Hey Wolf, check your facts again. The 40 years was punishment for the Golden Calf, not the spies. They had already been there for nearly 30 years when the spies happened.

And yes, thats precisely what I'm telling you. The same that nearly every Rav, Rebbe, and Rosh Yeshiva tells his students, and has been telling them for centuries. At least in the Orthodox circles, not the fringe circles like YU and other "enlightened" places that give smicha to women.
Much the same way as Moshe knew in advance that 6 million Jews would die in the Holocaust. He could have saved them and more by just giving up to the Amalekites. Moshe knew EVERYTHING up to and including when Mashiach will come. How so? Because the Meforshim say that when it says he saw all of Israel before he died, it means he saw all future events.
The sending of the spies was optional, of course. In the same way that you have free will, but Hashem knows and determines what you will do way in advance. It can't be reconciled in a way that will satisfy human logic, because it is far and beyond logic. Moshe had free will to hit the rock or not, but Hashem had already decided that he would. Look at it thru the eyes of Torah, not your eyes.
Did you even attend a yeshiva? Or just a 3 day a week Hebrew school supplemented by online nonsense?

Nate, aka Daas Torah said...

On the contrary... something was unspecified.

So now you dispute the translation? LOL

BrooklynWolf said...

Hey Wolf, check your facts again. The 40 years was punishment for the Golden Calf, not the spies. They had already been there for nearly 30 years when the spies happened.

Please... a parody of a parody is never any good.

The Wolf

Nate said...

Avram: Moshe was not Chazal. Moshe and Chazal were perfect in the understanding and learning they had, but memory and physical imperfections are different. Moshe didn't give a psak on the wood gatherer because he didn't know for sure. But once he did give one, as the same for Chazal, it was perfect. Chazal were not fools and idiots. They knew exactly what they were saying when they talked about lice coming spontaneously from dirt. It is us who are the idiots.

Nate said...

Please... a parody of a parody is never any good.

I don't even know what that means. You implied that the 40 years in the desert was punishment for the spies. It wasn't. Had it not been for the golden calf they would have been in Israel in 3 days.

Nate said...

Mike S. :

I asked several Rabbanim, and they said that the change in certain letters in no way affects the meaning, and therefore it can still be said that we have the same Torah as Moshe wrote. If there were ever any changes in meaning, that Torah would be invalid and pasul.

BrooklynWolf said...

I don't even know what that means.

Poor joke on my part. Never mind.

They had already been there for nearly 30 years when the spies happened.

and

You implied that the 40 years in the desert was punishment for the spies. It wasn't. Had it not been for the golden calf they would have been in Israel in 3 days.

Go learn Parshas Sh'lach and then come back. You've thoroughly discredited yourself.

The Wolf

BrooklynWolf said...

I asked several Rabbanim, and they said that the change in certain letters in no way affects the meaning, and therefore it can still be said that we have the same Torah as Moshe wrote.

Congrats. So you agree with me that the Torah we have is not *letter-for-letter* the same. You agree that there may be several spelling differences (even if they don't change the meanings of any words).

The Wolf

Avram in MD said...

S.,

Pardon me, Mr. Expert, but please look up what a "version" means in biblical study parlance.

I didn't say version, I said variant. And I'm not speaking in terms of the State University of Secular College of Divinity Studies, I'm speaking in Orthodox Jewish terms. Orthodox Jews believe that the words of the sefer Torah are Divine. Christians believe that the 4 Greek gospels (and perhaps the remainder of the NT) are divine (though some Protestants go as far as to say the King James is divine, but I'm discounting that for this discussion). I don't think it can be argued that there are a significantly larger number of variant readings in the Greek gospels than in the sefer Torah. Take, for example, the story of the woman to be stoned for adultry, of whom their false messiah famously said "let he who is without sin cast the first stone" ... when did that story get in there? It's not like we're coming across ancient Torah scrolls that are missing the Korach story, or Noach, etc. BTW, I never said I was an expert, much less with a capital E.

Secondly, the issue is that Aish apparently *is* holding all Christian versions against the Masoretic text alone.

I don't know if they are or not, and I can't verify their number of course, but their premise is correct on this one.

Thirdly, how many variants are in the Koran?

We'll probably never know. The third Caliph gathered and burned variant versions in favor of the authoritative one compiled under his reign. I also don't know if they're as concerned with down-to-the-letter accuracy as Jews are.

The Catholic Church in Rome uses a Greek text? Please, at least do some rudimentary homework.

The vast majority of the Christian world does not use a Greek text. However, most would admit that the original NT was written in Greek, even if they say that the translations are also divine.

Nate said...

Fine, if you want to quibble over such minutiae as a letter here and there, whatever. Potato with an e at the end is the same potato without one. Color is the same as colour. So it is the SAME Torah no matter how you look at it.

BTW, I believe the 40 year punishment was, in fact, for the spies, however it was the fact of the generation of the golden calf dying during those 40 years that was the real punishment, and them not being able to enter Israel. Otherwise they could have been killed all at once and still gotten there in 3 days.

Avram in MD said...

Jewish Athiest,

That's why I called it a farce. As long as you're not willing to question your assumptions

I question your assumption that the universe is purposeless.

BrooklynWolf said...

Fine, if you want to quibble over such minutiae as a letter here and there, whatever. Potato with an e at the end is the same potato without one. Color is the same as colour. So it is the SAME Torah no matter how you look at it.

No, it's not... especially when you use those extra/missing letters to darshan halachos.

BTW, I believe the 40 year punishment was, in fact, for the spies, however it was the fact of the generation of the golden calf

They were the same generation.

I'm sure the sin of the Golden Calf didn't help matters, but the pasuk makes it *very explicit* that the punishment of wandering in the wilderness is because of the spies. Had they not sinned because of the spies, they would have entered in the second year (when they arrived at the Jordan River).

The Wolf

Nate said...

They were the same generation.

I didn't mean to imply otherwise.


If those letters are being used to darshan something, then that is clear evidence that they were in the original document. We don't darshan from things not in the original because they would have been written by man.

BrooklynWolf said...

If those letters are being used to darshan something, then that is clear evidence that they were in the original document.

Right. But they're not in the Torah we have today. For example, consider the totafos example in my post. We don't have that vav in today's Torahs. Hence my argument.

The Wolf

Some Guy said...

Dear Nate, did you ask your Rabbanim whether it is appropriate for you to spend you entire day posting on blogs? Perhaps they might recommend that you spend your ample free time learning Chumash and Rashi. Better for you, better for everyone. Just a thought.

Nate said...

Actually I am sitting here compiling notes for the seder, if you must know. I can multitask. I'm also working at my job as well. Amazing, huh?

Some Guy said...

You are something special, yes.

Nate said...

Yeah, the doc said the same thing as he was giving me my thorazine.

Michael said...

I'm fascinated watching all you good folks as you let Nate the Snake slyly sliver around pulling all your chains.

It's kind of entertaining. (In a 13 car pile-up sort of way.) But, seriously, don't ya all have better things to do?

I mean even if he, bizarrely, holds these asinine views, just do what we do here in Israel with all of the wack-job fundamentalists and ignore him.

BrooklynWolf said...

Michael,

I've got to admit, with me, it's sometimes like a compulsion -- I see stupidity and I have to point it out. It's almost like picking at a scab -- I know I shouldn't do it, but, darn it, sometimes the compulsion is too much. :)

Nonetheless, I've pretty much written Nate off on this one.

The Wolf

Menachem Lipkin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nate said...

My views are Daas Torah, not asinine, and can not be written off. All these silly questions about Divine origin, authenticity, Mesorah, fallibility of Chazal, etc are what is asinine. Nobody in the Orthodox world asks such nonsense, nor do they (we) care. What are holy Rabbanim have taught us for thousands of years remains as true today as it did at Sinai. Naaseh v'nishmah, and we dont question any of it. Contrary to what the Slifkinites and the DovBear-ites say, there has never been any conflict between science and Torah or Chazal. Any appearance of same is merely due to the inability of humans to comprehend the workings of Hashem and His wonders. We believe with perfect faith, in the words of Torah, Chazal, and all the Gedolim. One need only see who is on the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah to see what we are required to believe without question. Even if 1 Medrash contradicts another, they are both correct, and Medrash is also part of what was given at Sinai. This is Daas Torah, and is undisputed, except by heretics and apikorsim. Even to the point of a Gadol saying that the calamity in Japan happened due to the arrest of the 3 innocent yidden, we are required to believe that as well, again without question. Any poo-pooing of that statement is kefirah.

BrooklynWolf said...

Nate,

You're welcome to your "shut off your brain" version of Judaism. I'll stick with thinking.

And, with that, I think we've exhausted this conversation. I think that at this point we'll just have to agree to disagree.

Unless you come with something new and worth responding to, I think we're done. I think I have enough material here for readers to determine for themselves who is correct and who isn't. I'm no longer amused verbally sparring with you.

The Wolf

HaGaon HaRav Nate said...

I'm not here to amuse you, Wolfie. On the contrary, it is you, Slifkin, DovBear, XGH, Bob, Tesyaa and Heshy Fried and the other heretics that are here to amuse me.
I'm here to deliver God's message. The message being that the Haredi way, is the only way. All others are shotim and kofrim who espouse equality for untznius women and obsess over child molesters, when they should be learning the Daf and making kugel.

BrooklynWolf said...

Yeah, okay. Whatever.

The Wolf

HaGaon HaRav Nate said...

You also need to stop thinking that everything needs to be reconciled to your satisfaction. If Gedolei Yisrael, from the time of the 1st Beis HaMikdash until now, thought that things needed reconciliation, they would have addressed it. The fact that they didn't means that your questions are non-questions, and just folly for the yetzer hara to fool you into thinking that you can have an opinion equal to any Talmid Chacham, which is impossible.
Just like Slifkin thinks he has discovered some animals that the Torah didn't know about or whatever he says, most of which is verbal fiddle faddle anyway. All questions on Torah have already been answered to frum Yidden's satisfaction. The rest is just attempts to discredit our Holy sages who are untouchable and infallible.

Ksil said...

Nate, in all seriosness, do you see how your version of life, religion, could be a turnoff to people who like to use the brains that God gave them instead of following blindly and believing that artscroll books were given to a bearded man on a mountain by the creato of the universe?

Common sense, reason and rationality are not to be pushed aside - anyone that has learned torah, gemorah etc should know that the dispute and logic is part of the journey - what you view as kefira, is simply a desire to learn, understand and poke holes and improve understanding, too bad you cant see that

Nate said...

Who said anything about Artscroll books?
All I said was that Chazal have addressed all the questions in the very arguments and Talmudic expositions you talk about. Just because something arises that has supposedly been "discovered" by modern man and modern day "experts" means absolutely nothing. All that needs to be expounded upon is how to apply what was already learned and stated to these modern ideas and technologies. Nothing new is going to change any of what our Chazal have already said. A living Torah means it is still used and interpreted to explain new things, like is writing Hashem's name on a computer screen considered actual writing insofar as can it be erased or not. But we can not say that since they had no computers in the desert that the Torah doesn't apply to computers, as some are wont to say. We don't suddenly get to eat pork because we have refrigeration now, as if kashrus has anything to do with food preservation.
We do what the Torah says to do because it says to do it, that's all, and that's the only reason, and it's good enough.
We don't need to know about the firmament and whether the sun moves or lice come from dirt or any other of the rationalists' silly questions that bog them down incessantly. Not every question or query needs an answer. As soon as an answer is given, it's right away followed with well what about this and that? It's futile and nonsensical. We can not know the mind of God. Moses couldn't, and we certainly can not. Thousands died in Japan because that's what God wanted. Millions died in Auschwitz for the same reason. A newborn baby dies for the same reason. Our job is to open a sefer and learn, that's the be all and the end all of Judaism. Aharon's sons wanted to go an extra step and do more than what was required, and died for it.
Davening with a minyan tomorrow morning is a hundred times more important than knowing why a family was murdered in Itamar or why child molesting rabbis get off the hook. Knowing why solves nothing. You do what Hashem says, you eek out your meager existence in this world and hope for the best in the next world. That's it. That's all you get.
"Liking to use their brains" is not a reason for anything, any more than liking to use my eyes to watch porn would be a reason to do it. And that is a very valid comparison, because just as there are rules regarding what you can look at, there are rules regarding what you can think about. We don't think about what came before Creation because it is forbidden to do so, and even the RamBam, whom everyone seems to think was a rationalist, says so. So when the rebbe in schools tells your child not to ask certain questions, he is doing the right thing, and your shild will have to accept it. If that causes him to go off the derech, so be it. We are about conformity. If you don't want to conform to how our Chazal said it should be, find a new religion, but don't think that because you have a different approach that it is automatically one of the 70 faces of Torah.

Nate said...

Ksil: you seem like a fairly intelligent guy, your lack of emunah not withstanding. So answer me this: Since you frequent a lot of these blogs, how can you objectively state that the sole purpose of the owners, save for a very few, such as Rabbi Harry, are not out to point fingers, disparage, denigrate, find fault, satirize, scoff, and basically destroy everything that frum Jews believe in and do in their everyday lives? NOTHING is off limits here. Not the style of dress, the manner of speaking, the belief in Chazal, Divinity, Mesorah, everything is fair game. Why on Earth should I be worried about how "my" take on Judaism may be offensive to some great thinkers here, when all I see every single day is another piece of my way of life being poked at, torn up, laughed at, and spit on?
And yet NOBODY, not a single blogger, has replied in a decent way to my challenge to tell me or us how they would do things differently. All they can do is say what they would NOT do and what they would do away with. And after they are done, there is only a skeleton of Judaism left. You know this is true because you are here every day as well. Take a guy like Heshy. Not a day goes by that this ostensibly frum guy doesn't make fun of some particular practice of frum people, from shuckling during davening to tznius, and has to constantly talk about his sexual appetites while claiming to be Orthodox. And you don't see any problems with this? Only me, who relates how frum schools/yeshivas and the teachers there give over Torah to the students.
I get that you don't have much respect for Orthodox Jews. But you also present yourself as some bastion of tolerance, yet have hatred for your own people because we are kool-aid drinkers, nonthinking automatons, child molesting Mashichists, or whatever other lame labels you (collectively) come up with. Yet, if I say that a bunch of fried chicken flicking watermelon slurping nappy head porch monkeys were driving down the street, I'd be the racist. Now you tell me who is truly messed up here?

mlevin said...

Nate - I don't have a problem with people who are willfully living in ignorance with their head in the sand. But I'd like to ask you one small thing.

You say that we should live without asking questions and wondering about how and why. Fine. But do you realize that these wonderings given birth to the comfortable life you are enjoying today? Had it not been for people asking questions about the world, people would still be living in tents with a life expectancy of 35.

Actually I think it is hypocritical to say that one should not ask questions and take things as they are, but at the same time when this same person gets sick he dials his phone to his doctor and takes medicine to cure him.

Phone - result of questioning how things work - sound waves, electricity.

Doctor - result of people learning how a human body works.

Medicine - result of people learning chemistry and biology and realizing how they effect the body.

Michael said...

Mr. Nate from Clarks Lane in Baltimore. Fortunately for you Baltimore has many true talmidei Chachamim and b'nei Torah. Why don't you avail yourself of some of their wisdom to help remove yourself from your delusional state.

Go see my friend Reb Shlomo on Hanson, try spouting this nonsense to him, he'll smack you upside the head. I don't that would help, but it would be a hoot to watch.

Some Guy said...

Nate said: "Our job is to open a sefer and learn, that's the be all and the end all of Judaism."

So why are you on these blogs all day bothering everyone?

Nate said...

First off, I never said nor implied anything about asking questions or learning about science, medicine or electricity. I'm referring ONLY to matters directly related to Torah knowledge. There is an untold plethora of books and other sources that totally and completely any and all questions regarding every single word in Torah. Only now in this age of enlightenment, with the heretical rationalists and secular humanists, a phenomena that never existed in the Torah true communities of Europe, that such nonsense has arisen. You want a better understanding of what it means that Moshe spoke to Hashem face to face? Then ask away. But don't out and start spouting heretical views about how it just can't happen because it defies logic and reason. To hell with your logic and reason. The same God that created the natural laws and break them at will, and yes He can even make a square circle. Questions about what the firmament looks like, whether there is a dome over the universe, whether there are really other animals with split hoofs but not cud chewers, and so on, are only a tool of the yetzer hara to engage us in wasting time and trying to find ways to show that our Holy Chazal could have possibly made a mistake somewhere. And if it it is even proven that this happened, then what? Then you can start questioning the entire Mesorah and all the Rabbinic learning from its inception?
NO SIR! This can not be allowed to happen! It tears away the very foundation of our life. I'm not talking about customs that have arisen such as wearing a streimel or seamed stockings in Mea Shearim. What and why they do that is their business. But when you get the chutzpah to question whether Chazal made errors in calculations, views, etc., you are playing a VERY dangerous game that has no winners at the end.
So I go back to my original statement, that this is only a ploy to destroy Yiddishkeit, and to justify someone's lack of faith and lack of performance of mitzvos. In the same way that you point fingers at criminal rabbis and use that as an excuse to not do what you are required to do, as if their hypocrisy somehow alleviates you of your responsibility.
Give me "Reb Shlomo's" last name and I will go to his house tonight, bli neder, and confront him on every issue I have spoken about. You don't scare me, and no rabbi does, especially any of them that would bend 1 inch to accommodate this apikorsis.

Nate said...

So why are you on these blogs all day bothering everyone?

I already told you I am sitting at my desk, learning, working, and responding to this as well. I'm a friggin genius.

Anonymous said...

Nate, I appreciate your posts. Please keep them coming!

Ivdu Es Hashem B'simcha.

ksil said...

Nate,

"As soon as an answer is given, it's right away followed with well what about this and that? It's futile and nonsensical" - that sounds like a sugya in baba metzia i just learned!

"Davening with a minyan tomorrow morning is a hundred times more important..." - if only this comandment was stated in the holy torah somewhere.

"child molesting rabbis get off the hook." - you mean you wonder why dozens and dozens of rabbis sweep this under the rug or hide this information from the public?

"there are rules regarding what you can think about." - i dont believe that

"when the rebbe in schools tells your child not to ask certain questions" - sounds a bit cult-like, no?

"not a single blogger, has replied in a decent way to my challenge to tell me or us how they would do things differently" - i know you are relatively new here - but that is the struggle. XGH has been trying for years to figure out how to do this

"All they can do is say what they would NOT do" - this is only becasue it is so obvious the (mostly charedi) way of doing things is NOT how things were done in our history - as is clear - so why in the world, if we are so tied to mesora - are we doing things differently?

"yet have hatred for your own people because we are kool-aid drinkers, nonthinking automatons, child molesting Mashichists" - this is not true with most of us. but i would say that we (me) are intolerant of intollerance!!

"a phenomena that never existed in the Torah true communities of Europe" - times are a changin my friend - get onboard or be left behind!

Nate said...

Well then instead of constantly berating how things are being done wrong, they should keep their mouths shut until they have a better idea.

I don't wonder anything at all about the child molesters. Crimes and tragedies happen every day, and I am immune to it emotionally. I simply turn the page or change the channel. I learned about the Holocaust in 9th grade, and I'm over it. I'm over 9-11, Itamar, and the tsunami too.

You don't have to believe it about thinking or anything else. Nobody cares about your nonbeliefs, but it is true none the less. The Rambam says it is forbidden to think about Maaseh HaMerkava too btw. Everything in our lives and bodies have rules attached.

It may be cultish, so what? As long as it's a Jewish cult it doesn't faze me.

You can't compare what goes on here with the Talmud and you know it. The Talmudic arguments and questions are for the purpose of determining points of law, not just general trivial knowledge. Go look at Slifkins blog today. More crap about what tzaraas was, whether it could really happen on a clothing garment or a house, blah blah blah. Torah says it did so it did.

ksil said...

Nate, as the wolf so eloquently put it "You're welcome to your "shut off your brain" version of Judaism..."

thats not how many of us want to live our lives and frankly, that is not how our tradition dictates we live our lives. sorry you feel ththe opposite.

"I don't wonder anything at all about the child molesters...I'm over it. I'm over 9-11, Itamar..."

that is so nice, Nate, really. but many of us want to make sure things like the holocaust or having a child molested by a trusted teacher or rebbe does not occur again...you close your eyes and ears and pretend it only happens to others? weird strategy, bro. unless you dont care if it happens again...then you are just a sick bastard.

i happen to agree 100% with you on slifkin and fully understand why his stuff is banned...the charedim need to make sure their sheep, uh, i mean followers, need to think EXACTLY AS YOU DO and not ask tough questions....otherwise, in a generation or two this whole orthodox judaism thing will be gonzo.

mlevin said...

"a phenomena that never existed in the Torah true communities of Europe, that such nonsense has arisen."
Of course not, because the Torah true communities of Europe were busy deciding which Jewish boys to kill next. I am refering to the cantonist period when rabbeim and other learned men participated in kidnapping young boys to conscript them into the Tzar's army. That's right they [Rabbeim and Learned men] kidnapped young boys as small as 5-years-old knowing full well that they will not survive a strenuous trip and will die within a few weeks. But you of course place them on the pedestal and refer to them as holy men.

"Questions about what the firmament looks like, whether there is a dome over the universe,..."
These questions is what brought about the space exploration and creation of such things in everyday use as Velcro, microwave ovens, cell phones and etc. If you use any of these things then you are a hypocrite because you are saying that people should not be questioning, but at the same time you are benefiting from their questions.

Nate said...

I didn't say I didn't care, I said i'm over it. For the same reason we only have aveilus for 30 days, becuz enough is enough. I don't see any purpose in rehashing this every single day with the molesting and the fraud and tznius and everything else. it's overload on top of overload. Over 18,000 people are dead or missing in Japan, but is it on the front page anymore? No, because nobody wants to hear it any longer.
The questions asked are not tough, they are just nonsense because he and his followers want to see everything thru the eyes of secular, non-Torah logic and reason, which is completely anathema to what Torah is. Even if Torah was full of gibberish and upside down logic in human terms, that would make no difference at all as far as our obligations. You don't need to know about electricity in order to turn on the light.
I'm not worried about any gonzo. There are way more returnees than exitors.

Nate said...

Levin: you gotta be kidding. No child or person has ever been kidnapped or died at the hand of a Rav, none. And before you go there, no rebbe ever left his community to the Nazis or handed them over either. You are off the wall with your antisemitic propaganda. Go play with the Holocaust revisionists.

Nate said...

And try to explain to me how space exploration has been a benefit to anyone. If you think figuring out what Slifkin is trying to figure out is going to lead to some massive change in the world, you're as delusional as he is. All us frummies want to do is daven, learn, and have a nice cholent & nap on Shabbos, and to be left alone by the rest of the world. That's all.

ksil said...

Nate, are you worried about the accuracy or the veracity of the Torah the way you follow it? In other words, do you ever read history and want to understand WHY these traditions were passed down and by understanding the "why" question, you can better understand HOW you should live your life, becasue ultimately the torah is a guide to HOW to live your life. if you are doing it wrong, then what the heck was the point?

if your answer is "just do whatever the bearded men that wear those strange hats" tell us - well, sorry, but that is not good enough for me and not good enough for many here (i assume).

you are yelling and screaming at us for trying to figure this out - how are we supposed to live our lives - the source for your frustrations with us are misplaced.

and like many here have suggested - why even bother with us? you just keep repeating over and over and over again the same mantra of "do what your told, dont ask questions, read artscroll books and eat chulent" this is not a satisfactory response, in my view. os you can keep saying it, but it makes no impact.

Garnel Ironheart said...

Definitely a former frummie with a hate on for those of us he left behind and hell-bent on making what we believe in look stupid.

Nate said...

Garnel, I know you're not referring to me.

ksil said...

garnel, he is legit, and i think i even know who he is - although i have been thrown off the trail a few times by some of his conflicting hints.

garnel, i know you live "out of town" but gosh, dont you know that this is how it is in monsey, flatbush, lakewood (baltimore!) boro park, etc? you living in a bubble?

A Muppet said...

"Aish HaTorah is the penultimate savior of Jewish souls, and they have NEVER said anything on their site or in person that is contrary to Daas Torah."

On the one hand it would be great if Nate bought a dictionary and stopped misusing the word penultimate. On the other, I'm looking forward to him claiming that he actually meant it here.

Nate said...

Ksil: Figuring things out is one thing. Mocking what we do is another. You're like the wicked son at the seder who says what is all this stupid stuff you're doing? You have already decided it's irrational and nonsensical, then you want to ask why we do it. It doesn't work that way. You can even check the titles of nearly all the blog posts and see that they start off in a mocking scoffing manner, like look what we wear, eat, observe, etc, and how stupid it is. You know exactly what I'm talking about.
I'm all in favor of knowledge, but this is not even about learning, its about laughing at Orthodoxy.

ksil said...

i would suggest you go back and read the wolf's posts. i rarely if never see him do that. he is very reasonable in his critique.

btw, have you ever read some of the haskamas or writings of some of your great chredi leaders? the mocking tone and scoffing nature is beyond the pale (without even going back to the chasidik/litvish fights) - with your alleigance to mesora, i am surprised you are not appreciative of our following in their footsteps. (you probably hold that they can do it, we cannot, i forgot!)

Nate said...

If they are mocking non-Torah ideas, I can certainly support it, yes. But mocking Torah ideology? Never.

mlevin said...

"Levin: you gotta be kidding. No child or person has ever been kidnapped or died at the hand of a Rav, none. And before you go there, no rebbe ever left his community to the Nazis or handed them over either. You are off the wall with your antisemitic propaganda. Go play with the Holocaust revisionists."

First I was not talking about NAZIs or WWII, I was talking about a long period of about 100 years preceding it. Go learn about cantonists and how learned men and rabbis of Europe were in charge of deciding which Jewish boys to sacrifice in order to save their own selves and their own sons.

Second, if you are going to talk about WWII, how about all those rabbis in Shtetls who decided that it is better to let Germans round up all the Jews, than to let these Jews break shabbos and run away. My grandmother told me a story how it was Shabbos and a boy from a neighboring shtetle ran in and said "NAZIs are coming and they are shooting everyone to kill. You have to run away and hide or they will kill you too." Most of the people in the Shtetle stayed and were killed. My grand uncle was one of the three families to harness the horses, take children and run away. My grandmother decided that a man is incapable of taking care of two children and joined him. The rest of their family, including parents, aunts, uncles, cousins were gone. This was happening in every single Shtetle that NAZIs came to in order to murder Jews. Are you going to defend the rabbis for this?

Third, what about the period of pogroms when mobs were attacking Jews, killing, raping, stealing, destroying. Yet the great Rabbeim that you quote and learn about decided that it's better for masses to die in Europe than to move to America.

mlevin said...

"And try to explain to me how space exploration has been a benefit to anyone."

I guess you have selective reading comprehension. I already explained above that space exploration led to such things as Velcro, Microwave ovens and cell phones among other things you are using everyday such as weather forecasts.

ksil said...

shivim panim l'toarh, nate.

torah evolves. it has to.

the winner is not the guy that screams and yells the loudest as you do (and your rabbis) but those that put forth the best and most logical arguments.

and slifkin always has chazal and rishonim backing his view points. so you cant say that is non-torah ideas.

Nate said...

Rabbanim always know best when it comes to Jewish lives and Jewish neshamas. So yes, I am going to defend it, 100%. Especially for those who escaped only to come here and toss their tefillin overboard when they got to Ellis island. Better they should have died in Europe.

A Muppet said...

Velcro was invented in 1941 and first produced in the late 50's. Nate's still an idiot.

Nate said...

Things invented FOR use in space are not the same as things invented FROM going there.
If I wanted a way to fly myself to Chicago without an airplane, Im sure someone can find a way, but that doesn't mean it's useful to go there or anywhere else for that matter. Im pretty sure we'd survive quite well without velcro and a microwave.
Slifkin has backers from everywhere. There are yesh omrim all over the place. That gives no credence to their opinions though. Slifkin thinks that Avraham ben RamBam was some big guy. He wasn't, or you would see his peirush everywhere, and Artscroll would have him in English.

A Muppet said...

"Slifkin thinks that Avraham ben RamBam was some big guy. He wasn't, or you would see his peirush everywhere, and Artscroll would have him in English."

I know I love reading my Artscroll Rif, Rambam, and Shulchan Aruch.

Nate said...

Good point, but at least you are among millions who have heard of them. Can't say the same about those he talks about.

ksil said...

sounds like yuor rabbis have done a great job at wiping out any opinion that differs from theirs.

Nate said...

Not really. Most all of them will discuss machlokisim between Rashi & Ramban, Rif & Ritva, etc. I don't think most have even heard of Rambam's son. I never heard of this rabbi named Sperber until about a month ago, when someone claimed he's the foremost Talmudic scholar of today. I'm sure he could run circles around Rav Eliashuv...LOL.

ksil said...

yea, he must wear a different head covering, or less facial hair. cant listen to those guys! even if they make sense! feh

A Muppet said...

I've also heard of Abraham Ben HaRambam, as did the three fourteen year olds (none of who would have recognized modern orthodoxy if it stole their wallet) who gave me one of his seforim 10 years ago as a gift. He's not as obscure as you think he is. Not that that's a little bit surprising.

A Muppet said...

The englishization there was a typo, not some weird scholarly tic of mine.

Nate said...

Oh I forgot about Lichtenstein (who?) too. Now there's a name you hear every day in my circles.

BrooklynWolf said...

Whether or not someone is obscure now is not necessarily a good gauge of how important their writings may or may not be.

Very few people (if any) heard of the Zohar before it's rediscovery (and, please, let's not hash that out here) and yet it's widely accepted today.

Likewise, the Meiri is widely accepted today even though he was unknown for a century or two after his death.

The Wolf

Nate said...

Just out of sheer curiosity, how come when it comes to all the secular things like science, art, etc, nobody seems to argue about who the "gedolim" are. Hawking, Einstein, Mozart, Picasso, etc. Nobody says they were just smart guys but nothing special.
But if someone says Rav Hutner was a Gadol in Torah and a leader of his generation, you all have palpitations.

A Muppet said...

You think no one says Picasso wasn't that special? And the only person here who seems to think that he's qualified to determine who is and isn't a gadol is you.

Nate said...

Not true. I have always said that if you want to know who the Gedolim are, just google the Moetzes, it's already been determined unanimously and indisputably.

A Muppet said...

So there was a vote? When? Are you suggesting anyone who isn't on the Moetzes isn't a Gadol?

Nate said...

There are a few who havent paid dues I'm sure. But by and large thats where one can find out who they are, yes. None are at or came from YU though.

BrooklynWolf said...

already been determined unanimously and indisputably

Wolf's rule of thumb (and what I started the post off with):

Whenever someone says that something is indisputable, it almost certainly is disputable.

The Wolf

A Muppet said...

Two sentences, both wrong.

The Chazon Ish, the Brisker Rav, the Steipler, the Tzitz Eliezer, R Chaim Kanievsky, off the top of my head are not gedolim according to you.

Rav JD Soloveitchik and R Scheinberg both were on the Moetzes and learned or taught at YU.

Before you insult the people you claim to respect, read a book

A Muppet said...

Wolf's rule of thumb (and what I started the post off with):

Whenever someone says that something is indisputable, it almost certainly is disputable.

Muppet's rule of thumb:

Whenever Nate uses a word with more than two syllables, he's using it wrong.

Nate said...

4 out of the 5 u mentioned are long dead, so thats a dumb statement. Rav Scheinberg, Kanievsky are on it. Every Rosh Yeshiva is on it.

ksil said...

are you seriously having this argument with nate?

moetztes: its like the academy awards - they can all go to a conference and pat each other on the back becasue their beards are so grey and long. congratulations! except most of the world, jews, orthodox jews dont care who they self appoint.

nate does tho! so let nate enjoy that

A Muppet said...

I said Rav Scheinberg is on it but he learned at RIETS.

You're just wrong about R' Chaim being on it. If the deceased were capable of being gedolim without being part of the Moetzes, why can't the living?

A Muppet said...

Ksil,

My point is that Nate's an idiot on his own terms. This isn't an argument, just my pointing out he has no idea what his own Shitah is on anything.

Nate said...

And my point is that everyone knows who the Gedolim are no matter where they are, where they learned, or what committee they belong to, and nobody gives them kavod here or on any other blog, including or especially Slifkin.
And another point is that if one of them comes out and says that all child molesters are tzadikim then we are required by LAW to adhere to that psak. Because it would not be contra to any halacha in Torah, and in fact sex with a minor is completely permitted al pi Torah. So stop denigrating our Holy infallible sages.

A Muppet said...

Also, the Tzitz Eliezer was niftar in 2006. So the vote that made the Moetzes the unanimous determiner of who is and isn't a Gadol occured some time after that. I'm glad we're getting somewhere.

A Muppet said...

No your point was to accuse people here of denigrating Gedolim, who apparently we hold in less esteem than Picasso. In the process, you made the absurd claim that to be a Gadol you have to be on the Moetzes. You even gave a lame defense of that point. Once you failed at that, you decided I was the one denigrating our sages, even though the only person I've denigrated is you (which I think is richly deserved).

BrooklynWolf said...

and in fact sex with a minor is completely permitted al pi Torah

EVEN IF this were true, it would only be true WRT opposite-gender relations AND within marriage.

To the best of my knowledge, NOT ONE child molester committed his crimes in that framework.

And with that, I think we've come to the end of this conversation. I'm going to take the rare step of closing this thread to comments, because, at this point, we've gone well past the point of lunacy.

I've made the points I wanted to make, and I've given Nate enough rope for him to show that he's either completely off his rocker or else just a troll looking to stir the post.

Either way, I think we've exhausted the possibilities of this conversation. If anyone has anything salient to add to the *original post*, please feel free to email me and I'll put it up.

The Wolf