Thursday, June 30, 2005

What *exactly* is a Chillul Lubavitch?

Every once in a while, I visit the ChabadTalk message boards. No, I'm not Lubavitch, but it does give me an insight into another segment of the frum community.

In any event, I've seen on more than one occasion, the term "Chillul Lubavitch."

I don't think any other sect of Judaism has such a term (i.e. I don't think Satmars go about complaining that someone is making a "Chillul Satmar," for example). It's obviously a take off of the term "Chillul HaShem."

Seeing this term, I have several questions:
  • When did this term first get started?
  • Is it commonly used in the Lubavitch community, or is it just a messageboard phenomenon.
  • And, lastly, what, precisely, is it? One person (linked to above), states that a yeshiva bochur wearing jeans is a CL. Is it really? How is it different from a Chillul HaShem? Is Lubavitch's honor any more precious than HaShem.

(BTW, I'm not looking to attack Lubavitch in this post -- I'm really just hoping someone [maybe an insider] can give me more of an insight into this confusing terminology.)

Normally, I'd ask there directly, but it seems that there is a problem with my account... :)

The Wolf

Rabbi Slifkin's Shiur in Brooklyn

I attended Rabbi Slifkin's Shiur in Brooklyn this past evening. Overall, I had an enjoyable time as I got to meet Rabbi Slifkin (and got to see Gil, who hosted the event).

The topic at hand was dinosaurs and how they fit in with the Torah and it's accounts. He presented several ideas (God planting the evidence there, the non-24-hour day, Dr. Schroder's solution) gave explainations as to why these theories can't reconcile the differences between the current scientific understanding of the age of the universe and the Torah account. In the end, the approach that he liked the best was the one from Rav Dressler, as he stated in his sefer Michtav Me-Eliyahu.

An interesting part of the evening was when he passed around a dinosaur tooth and a fragment from a dinosaur egg. He asked us to keep the tooth in the case, as at a past event, someone dropped it and it broke, requiring him to glue it back together ("Can you imagine, it survived intact for 100 million years, only to break...").

It's a shame, though, that the turnout was very low. Apparently, fliers were put up around the neighborhood, but were torn down nearly as quickly as they were put up.

There will be other events in the New York area where people can meet and greet Rabbi Slifkin and listen to his lectures on various topics. There will be a walking tour of the Bronx Zoo this Sunday and two all-day lecture events in Kew Garden Hills next Tuesday and Thursday. Details are available on his website (click on Regional Programs from the menu at left).

So, were there any other bloggers at the event?

The Wolf

Sunday, June 26, 2005

On Rememmmmmmmmbering

I have always wondered why it is that otherwise perfectly rational and sane people sometimes feel the need to overdo the most minor things.

This past week's parsha contains the last paragraph of Sh'ma. In it is the verse "lma'an tizk'ru..." (So that you should remember - Numbers 15:40. The commentaries (rightly) point out that when saying the Sh'ma, one should not rush through it, lest one replace the zayin sound (z) with a s sound, and change the meaning.

However, there are some days that when you listen to Sh'ma being said in shul, you'd think that there was a swarm of bees in the room. Not content with simply making sure to enunciate the z sound, they completely go overboard, and loudly proclaim lma'an tizzzzzzkru. (And did you ever notice that those two words are said louder than any other words in the paragraph -- it's as if they're trying to prove to everyone else that they said it correctly!) It's really not necessary. I've been laining for seventeen years every week. Every year, when we come to Parshas Sh'lach (last week's Parsha), I always lain it "tizk'ru" without over-enunciating it, and never once has the Rav of the shul come over to me afterwards and said "Wolf, you should enunciate the zayin better."

I'm all for observing halacha, and I can even understand wanting to take on additional chumros if you so feel like it (although some of them seem silly to me - but that's another post, I suppose). But this imitation of bees during davening is just a bit too much.

The Wolf

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Off Topic: Are "Lisa" and "Heshy" one and the same?

It would seem so based on their tone and comments.

Oh, yes, and their email address.

See the address "Heshy" has on my previous post and the address "Lisa" has on the comments to this post of DovBear's.

The Wolf

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

On Yeshivos and One's Free Time

This is an incident that happened to me a long time ago in Yeshiva. You'd think I'd have gotten over it by now, especially since I'm a fairly easy-going person, but apparently I haven't. Maybe airing it out will do the job.

I went (as I have mentioned on this blog before) to a fairly RW Chareidi school. Back in the 80s, when I went (and probably today, I guess), there were several things that were taboo, for one reason or another. TV, of course, was one. Movies, too. Many secular books as well. And, for some odd reason, baseball cards. And that leads me to the story.

The time was 1986, and I was in high school. High school consisted of a full-day, from the Shacharis minyan at 7:30 in the morning until the Ma'ariv minyan at 9:15. During the day, there was a half-hour for breakfast, an hour for lunch and an hour for dinner (and a fifteen minute break for recess in the morning).

Now, I have always been a big baseball fan. Ever since I was a wee kid, I would always grab the paper in the morning and open it to the sports section to see how my beloved Yankees did the night before.

It was the summer of 1985 that I discovered Strat-O-Matic baseball. For those of you who are unaware, Strat-O-Matic baseball is a game whereby you can play baseball games using the abilities of real-life major leaguers. Each player has a card, and the managers assemble the lineups, roll the dice and consult the cards to determine what happened on that particular play. I played a few games with some friends during the summer and, while I wouldn't say that I was hooked, I certainly came to enjoy the game immensely.

The following spring, the new player cards came out (a new set is released each year based on the players' performances from the previous year). Armed with my new game and no one to play with, I quickly thought up a plan. I gathered up three friends whom I knew were underground baseball fans, such as myself. After explaining the game to them, we quickly set up a league. Each of us would draft a team and play during lunch. We found an unused dorm room and during our next meeting began to draft players.

Well, we were a few rounds into the draft when my legs were getting a little cramped from sitting down. So, I got up and began to walk around the room. I noticed on a shelf a large roll of bookbinder's tape. This wasn't so unusual -- boys were forever re-binding seforim that were worn out from use. However, what *was* unusual was that there was a small red light in the roll. Moving closer to it, I saw that the red light was attached to a tape recorder... we were being taped!

It didn't take very long to figure out who'se tape recorder it was... it was the Rosh Yeshiva's son's. I took the tape out and disbanded our little meeting. (As an aside, it was far easier to figure out to whom the recorder belonged than to figure out which one of my three "friends" betrayed me.)

I was confronted by the RY's son later when he had the nerve to demand the return of his tape. I politely informed him that I was keeping the tape, as he had no right to do as he did. I even told him I'd buy him a new tape (boy, wasn't I a sucker!) but that under no circumstances would I return the tape in question. He blustered, he threatened. He told me that I was a ganav (thief) and that I had no right taking the possessions of innocents (I guess he should have considered himself lucky that I didn't keep the recorder). He threatened to have me expelled.

None of that happened. I doubt he ended up telling his father what happened, as I have little doubt that had he known, I would have heard about it from the RY directly. Maybe he was secretly ashamed at what he did? I doubt it. But who knows?

In the days following, while waiting for the axe to fall, I spent a fair amount of time trying to come up with my defense. My first line of thought was that if there was a rule against possessing baseball cards then I certainly wasn't in violation of it. These weren't baseball cards, they were game cards. Of course, I began to realize that such a defense would fall flat, simply because the RY wouldn't know what a baseball card was. The game had cards, it was about baseball... ergo, they were baseball cards.

This happened almost twenty years ago. I sometimes wonder if things have changed (for the better) in some yeshivos. I don't know if this sort of story is atypical (i.e. I just happened to have a snooty, holier-than-thou, ready-to-stoop-to-any-level RY's son in the same school) or if this sort of thing goes on all the time. I certainly hope not.

The Wolf

Thursday, June 16, 2005

On The Validity Of Historical Events And Their Effect On Our Observances

Rachack, in a recent post, made the following statement:

At a certain point, an intellectually honest person arrives at the conclusion that no matter how many inconsistencies he sees in yiddishkeit or our community, it is, (as Winston Churchill said about democracy) 'the worst system except for any other'.

This statement is often made regarding the United States (in that, it may not be perfect, but it's the best system designed so far). However, there is a big difference between accepting Yiddishkeit because it's the "worst system than any other" and accepting a secular governmental system for the same reason.

A few years ago, I was discussing religion (in general) with a co-worker of mine. He posed the following question:

If it was found that the central event of a religion's founding or theology was found to have been false, does that invalidate the religion? His main concern was regarding the Crucifixion and Resurection of Jesus, but the same question could equally be applied to Mattan Torah. Hypothetically speaking, if Mattan Torah did not occur, does that invalidate Judaism as a religion?

Of course, it's hard to argue against not killing, not stealing and loving your neighbor regardless of whether or not certain historical events actually occured. But does keeping Shabbos or kashrus make sense if Mattan Torah is found to have never happened?

On the other hand, a governmental system isn't like that. If we find out that the American Revolution never happened; that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were just myths, etc., it still wouldn't be any reason to overturn the current system of government we have. In other words, our government (or the British one, to harken back to Churchill's quote) stands independent of the historical events that created them. You could pull those historical underpinnings away, and the edifice still stands.

That's not true, however, with regard to a religion. Judaism is predicated upon two major events - Creation and the Exodus/Mattan Torah. One could (theoretically) strip away the Patriarchs, the Flood, David, Samuel, Mordechai, the Prophets, etc. and the edifice of Judaism would still stand. But once you strip away Creation or the Exodus/Mattan Torah, it all crumbles. There really isn't a point to avoiding Shaatnez if God didn't command it at Sinai. Why fast on Yom Kippur if God didn't command it? As such, one cannot accept Judaism simply because it's the best system available. That may be fine for some secular governmental system; but the Torah needs more.

The Wolf

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

On Blog Readership...

I always wonder just how wide of an audience we bloggers really have. Sure, I can get a rough idea by how many visits I have, and how many comments my posts receive, but that's not really the end of it. No doubt, some of our ideas get passed on to others in conversations as well. And that's what brings me to this post.

Two times, during Yom Tov, in different settings, people (without my prompting) brought up the concept that the best form of tuition control is birth control. What makes this interesting, of course, is that this was the talk on several of the Jewish blogs last week (including a wonderful piece of artwork by AirTime that made it's way on to The Knish.

This is not the type of thing that people would pick up from other "popular" Jewish sources (HaModia, Jewish Press, Yated, etc.) or even from a rabbi. The fact that people seem to talking about it makes me believe that we, as bloggers, are making an impact in the Jewish community. I just wish I had a more reliable way to guage how much of an impact we are making.

The Wolf

Thursday, June 09, 2005

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

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

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

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

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

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

He then went on to say:

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

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

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

He then follows up with:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Wolf

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

On More Bad Reasoning and Bad Proofs...

I caught a posting by Hasidic Rebbele who happened to catch the same site (Hidabroot) that I found. While I found some articles, he found a video on that site which claims to prove that the Torah is divine. I expressed on his site that I would look at the video, but I hoped that the proofs contained therein were better than the proofs in the article.

I hoped in vain.

I only watched the first thirty five minutes of the video. Perhaps later on I'll go back and look at the rest.

The "proofs" he presented are as follows:

1. Fins and scales - the statement of the Mishna that all fish that have scales have fins. So far, to the best of my knowledge, this has found to be true. However, this is hardly proof of the divinity of the Torah (or the Mishna). After all, if one has encountered numerous fish, and found that in every case where there are scales there are also fins, one may be comfortable enough formulate a general rule. This is hardly proof of divinity.

Consider: I'm stating today that there are no cold-blooded mammals. Now, if a thousand years from now we never find a cold-blooded mammal, does that make my statement (or me) divine? Of course not. I simply took what I found and extrapolated a general rule.

2. The nature of the earth (round and rotating): He states that it was Galileo (?) who discovered that the earth was round. (I'm pretty sure that Columbus, sailing a hundred years before Galileo knew it and Magellan's crew, which finished their trip around the world 40 years before Galileo's birth certainly knew it). In any event, the fact that the earth was round was not unknown in Galileo's time or even Columbus time. The earth's roundness was discovered long before by the Greek's who observed the shape that the Earth's shadow cast on the moon during a lunar eclipse.

The author tries to pass off the Zohar as part of TSBP and having been given at Mt. Sinai, without any proof to that statement.

In addition, he brings a proof from the Zohar which states that there is a place on earth where it is light all day except for one hour. The author then tries to sell to us that this "one place" is the North Pole.

As a matter of fact, at the North Pole you do have 24 hours of daylight, not 23. Secondly, there is a second place where this happens as well - the South Pole - but that seems to have escaped the authors of the Zohar. Thirdly, there are places even distant from the poles that have at least one day of complete light per year - any place north of the Arctic Circle and any place south of the Antarctic Circle will have at least one of complete light per year (with the number of days increasing as you get closer to the pole). Lastly, the Zohar seems to miss the fact that in these places there is also an extended period of darkness.

3. Revolutionary period of the moon. The Gemara is quoted as mentioning that the period of the moon is 29.5 days and 793/1080 hours. This is a well known Gemara. The Gemara is correct - to a point. The author of the video states that this is how long it takes the moon to revolve around the earth. In this, he is wrong. The time is takes for the moon to revolve around the earth is actually only about 27 and a half days. So, then, what's 29.5 + 793/1080? That's the synodic period of the moon. If you don't want to click on the Wikipedia link, I'll explain it briefly. The revolutionary period is how long it takes for the moon to revolve around the earth. The synodic period is how long it takes for any given object to return to the same spot in the sky relative to the Sun (as viewed from Earth). Since this period is *based* on observation, it is not terribly difficult to measure it and is hardly proof of divinity.

4. History of Germany - The author quotes the Gemara in Megillah which states that if Germany is allowed to exist, it will destroy the world. Obviously, this is in error as Germany as a nation has existed and yet the world continues to exist. While it is true that they brought devestation on a continent in two wars, this hardly equals destroying the world. The author tries to cover this up by translating the term "destroy the world" as "want to destroy the world."

He then brings the Gemara which states that there are 300 crown princes in Germany. He shows us that in the Peace of Westphalia, 300 princes came together to form the nation. Well, the actual number was closer to 360, but I suppose I can let that slide. However, it is far more logical to state that the Amora was simply describing the state of Germany as it existed back in his time (the Gemara is in present tense anyway). In the Germanic area at the time, there were any number of small tribes in the area.

Lastly, the author claims that the date of Germany's formation was foretold, but never actually produces this.

5. Number of stars. The author brings the Gemara in Berachos (32b) which states that there are 1,604,340,000,000,000,000 stars in the universe. He states that only God could have provided such a number. I will agree with the assessment that only God can provide an exact number to the number of stars. This sounds like an estimate to me. In any event, even if it is an estimate, it's off - current understanding is that there are 70 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 stars in the observable universe. And if (as I predict they would) someone will say "well, how do you know you're estimate is right?" I would just as easily turn the question back and say "how do you know the Gemara is right?" In short, the proof that the Gemara is divine is that there are that many stars because the Gemara says there are that many stars. That's not a proof that's circular reasoning.

The last bit I caught was when he said (at 20:43 in the video) that it was "only very recently" that it was discovered "that the stars are formed in constellations." I'm not sure what he means by this meaningless sentence. Does he mean that only recently we've discovered constellations? That, of course, is nonsense - the constellations were well known even before Mattan Torah. Does he mean that the stars are formed as parts of constellations?" That's nonsense as well, since they only appear to us that way from Earth, because we lack "depth perception" into space. Is he misusing "constellations" for "galaxies?" Maybe - but the existence of galaxies isn't new news either.

6. Life after Death. In order to prove that there is life after death, he presents some people who have had Near Death Experiences. Hardly proof of anything. There are plenty of people who have had NDEs and seen Jesus. Would the author of the video accept their testimony as well?

7. Predestination - The author then tries to prove that everything (one's income, lifespan, etc.) is predetermined by God. How does he prove this? By observing that some people succeed in life with little effort, while others grind away at the millstone their entire lives and never get out of poverty. Some people with college educations make very little while others who have no college education go on to make fortunes. Some people in terrible shape live long lives, while some professional athletes get cut down in the primes of their lives due to heart attacks, etc.

Of course, this is not proof at all. Firstly, in any large sample, you are bound to have exceptions. But it's not the exception to the rule that proves it - it's the rule itself. If you place all the people with college educations on a bell curve, and all those without college educations on a bell curve, you'll find that as a whole, the people who go to college *do* earn more. If you put healty people in a bell curve (in determining the length of their lives) and non-healthy people, you'll find that, as a whole, the healthier people *do* live longer. That Statistics 101, which the author of the video doesn't seem to grasp.

8. The rest of the video (from 39:40 on) doesn't prove anything.

I'm no scientist, and yet I know enough to see that these proofs are shams. I wish people would not present proofs unless they actually prove something.

The Wolf

Friday, June 03, 2005

On Bad Reasoning and "Proofs" to the Torah

Someone pointed me to a site called HaDibrot. There is a section on this site concerning Judaism and Science. Since this is a topic that interests me, I decided to take a look.

Oy vey.

I sampled a few articles and here is what I found.

In the article entitled Flat or Round, Rabbi Zamir Cohen tries to prove that Jewish sages were light-years ahead of their non-Jewish contemporaries with regard to science. The example in this article is whether the earth is flat or round. He starts by stating some of the popular mythologies of the ancients (the world was flat, on the backs of whales or elephants [has he been reading Terry Pratchett?], etc.) He then goes on to state that some ancient Greeks made the claim that the earth was round but that they were largely ignored until Copernicus.

He writes:

Around 1514 a Spanish atronomer named Copernicus wrote a small book called the Little Commentary. In it he maintained that the earth is round and rotating. Influenced by Copernicus’ ideas, Columbus attempted to find a westward route from Portugal to Asia, in order to shorten the lengthy eastward route pursued at that time.

Never mind the fact that Columbus died in 1506. Columbus already knew the world was round before Copernicus. That was the whole point of his trip - to prove that it could be done (side point: Columbus had no idea of the size of the world. He badly underestimated it. Had the Americas not been there, he and his crew would have starved to death long before reaching the Orient). No intellectuals in Columbus' time seriously doubted that the world was round. The people who thought the world was flat at that time were the ignorant masses - the type who believe that aliens are currently abducting people and performing experiments on them in their ships.

He then goes on to state that (of course) Judaism had it right all along. To prove it, he quotes the Zohar (claiming that the Zohar is 2000 years old - yet another area to argue on). Of course, the fact that the Greeks knew it even before the Zohar was supposedly written conveniently gets forgotten between the first paragraph and the last one.

In another article, titled Don't Buy A Forgery, El Hamekorot presents an article on the accuracy of the Jewish Calendar. First, he (rightly) mentions the inaccuracies of the Julian calendar. This inaccuracy, of course, led Pope Gregory XIII to establish the Gregorian calendar. Of course, while the Gregorian calendar is a vast improvement over the Julian, it, too, is not perfect and needs adjustments of a second or two from time to time.

He then goes on to describe the accuracy of the Jewish calendar. He states that the famous Gemara in Rosh HaShanna that the lunar month is 29.5 days and 793/1080 hours long. Of course, Mr. Hamekorot conviently leaves out the fact that the Jewish calendar *does* undergo calendrical drift and that it has drifted about 6 days or so in the last thousand years.

The next article I perused was titled The Atmosphere: A Perfect Balance by somebody with the pen name Arachim. In it, he (?) goes on to show that the world had to be created by an Intellegent Being because there is just enough oxygen in the atmosphere to support life. If there was less we wouldn't be able to exist and if there was more, fires would have devestated the planet long ago.

Setting aside the factuality of his claims as to whether or not more or less oxygen in the atmosphere would have that effect, there is the simple fact that this proof is no proof at all. All it proves is that (a) God created the world OR (b) it just happened that way and the proof of it is that we exist.

In Did God Speak On Mount Sinai? an anonymous author presents the familiar "proof" of the histirocity of the Sinatic revelation by the fact that there were many people there. He states:

On this basis, let us examine the Giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai — the most widely witnessed event of all times. This event was witnessed by six million people who described it to those of their children who were born after the event. These children in turn passed that information to their progeny in a direct, unbroken chain that stretches until our times.

Firstly, I'd argue with his assertion that the Giving of the Torah was the most widely witnessed event of all times. I'm pretty sure that every Superbowl for the last thirty years had more than six million viewers.

While we're at it, where did he come up with the six million number? Does the author really think that for every male between 20 and 60 there were *nine* others at Mount Sinai? I think even two million is pushing it, but six?

In any event, this proof is no proof anyway. Christian mythology states that the dead came walking out of their graves when Jesus entered Jerusalem. That was certainly witnessed by many people. The fall of Troy was certainly witnessed by many, many people - should we believe that the Greek gods were involved in that affair (if it even happened at all)? In short, there are any number of legends in the world that state that they were witnessed by large groups of people. While it may certainly be a point in thier favor over the claim of a lone revelation (such as Gabriel's appearing to Mohammed in Islam or Jesus' rising from the tomb in Christianity), it certainly isn't any form of "proof."

Personally, I've seen any number of "proofs" to the veracity of the Torah. And each time I see such a "proof" it inevitably falls flat. Personally, I think that trying to offer "proofs" to the Torah really just misses the point anyway. I don't keep Shabbos because I'm convinced the world was created in six 24-hour days and that God was tuckered out so He took a nap on the seventh. I don't keep kosher because I have "proof" that God doesn't want us to get trichinosis. I keep Shabbos because I believe God commanded it, and because I believe it is beneficial to have a day apart from the others. I keep kashrus because I believe that God commanded us to. I don't keep the mitzvos because I think the rabbis were scientifically ahead of everyone else... I keep them because I believe that God commanded us to and because I believe that they are beneficial to me.

Of course, the key word here is "believe." The word implies knowledge without proof. If one is going to believe, then one should do so without proofs, especially bad ones.

The Wolf