Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Ya'akov Menken The Making of a Kiruv Comrade



{Revised} 12/8/2005- I may have to take down this post if R. Menken keeps it up. It appears that he is actually beginning to allow dissenting viewpoints on cross-currents! And in the context of the Documentary Hypothesis, no less! And, when he replies, he is not snotty at all, but rather treats the commenters with respect! I will continue to monitor this situation, but for the time being, kudos to R. Menken for doing tshuva and changing his tone and approach while staying true to his mission. Could I have had anything to do with it? Doubt I'll ever know...

I am now going to turn to the writings of a major Kiruv Comrade. A Kiruv Comrade is a mutation of a Kiruv Clown, in that he doesn't just put forth "fast food answers to gourmet questions," he also tries to suppress dialogue while pretending to be open to all viewpoints before selecting the correct one.

Thus, this isn't just a personal attack on Menken, but rather against all Kiruv Comrades of his ilk. He is just a template. However, he wrote the book on Kiruv Doublespeak as will be made manifestly clear.You'll soon see that Menken's book, the "Everything Torah Book," is better titled "Everything Torah Bunk."

Menken liberally employs his post-modern kiruv approach throughout the book. He makes it look like he isn't afraid to tackle any subject and thus there should be no doubts that his orthodoxy is closed-minded or fundamentalist. However, beneath the veneer of reasonableness, you have a fundamentalist who is so intellectually dishonest and so misleading about true science, that he must corrected in public, since he won't allow honest debate on his blog, Cross-currents.

First, as a case study, let's take a Menken post called "Go After the Majority." I suppose this is an amusing reference to the majority rule in halacha. However, it's scary to see a grownup reason the way Menken does. A link to the post is:

http://www.cross-currents.com/archives/2005/10/24/go-after-the-majority

My response to the post and Menken's comments goes like this:

"Rabbi Menken, you state in the comments above:

"One cannot dismiss or ignore evidence because it leads in uncomfortable directions." When I recorded that the generation of life is “simply too complex to be the result of happenstance,” that wasn’t some sort of vague feeling. Gerald Schroeder’s work with the numbers is one example of an extremely rigorous analysis, and he concludes that it would take a bunch of random monkeys 100 billion years to type a simple sentence by coincidence—far less complex than the most basic of life forms.” Your statement of the generation of life, while perhaps not the result of a vague feeling, most certainly was NOT the result of a scientific inquiry, which after all is the theme of Intelligent design. Schroeder’s work is far from “rigorous.”

I and many others are tired of Rabbis trotting out Schroeder’s books and statements and peddling them as scientific justification for your religious stances. Schroeder may have a PhD at the end of his name, but his quasi-religious arguments bear no relation to what he did as a geologist. Has anything he’s written with respect to “intelligent design” been peer-reviewed by scientists (as opposed to Rabbi peer-review)? Has he published on these topics in any respected scientific journal or even magazine? Of course not. This is because his work has been totally discredited as unscientific bunk.

With all due respect, your assessment of Schroeder’s work (which has been regurgitated in countless iterations by Aish, Kelemen, and Slifkin, et al.) as “rigorous” is off the mark and irrelevant. Let’s hear about Schroeder when he gets published after peer review by scientists."

Now, in full kiruv distortion mode he responds to the above as follows:

"What is curious is the number of prominent secular scientists who have, after achieving the pinnacle of their profession, adopted belief in G-d besides Gerald Schroeder, another notable example is Arno Penzias, who shared the Nobel Prize for discovery of the Big Bang. "

Let's first note the fallacy here, that of appeal to authority. Because these 2 scientists believe something (undefinably vague statement of belief in "God") we should not even evaluate the question, but should just stipulate they are correct. Of course, he omits the obvious; that 90% of eminent scientists don't believe in God. Should we just defer to them and call it a day,
R. Menken?

Now, addressing this point, which itself is misdirection, Schroeder is certainly NOT at the pinnacle of his profession, which incidentally is not even astrophysics. He's a geologist. He was never a Professor at MIT, as some like to claim. So he got back to his roots, moved to Israel, and wrote a few pop books for parnassa- that's the "pinnacle?" The books are considered bunk by any scientist and incidentally I'm sure by Rabbi Adlerstein as well.

As for Penzias, he truly is a top scientist and physicist. He won the Nobel prize in physics not (as Menken incorrectly states) for "discovery of the Big Bang," but rather for locating a radiofrequency artifact constituting evidence of the Big Bang, known as the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB). (Hubble discovered the Big Bang.)

More to the point is that, in his Torah for Dummies book, Mencken claims:
"Dr. Arno Penzias... adopted observance of the Torah after making his discovery! So, does the age of the universe contradict the Torah? Few are better qualified to answer than Professor Arno Penzias and his answer is somewhat obvious."

Well, news flash, Rabbi Mencken- why not be responsible when making such specious assertions about a person's faith and check your facts? Didn't you get the memo?: Penzias is NOT orthodox and is not shomer shabbos. Dr. Penzias received an honorary doctorate from the Reform bastion, the Hebrew Union College. http://www.huc.edu/news/grad.html His daughter is a reform Rabbi ordained by HUC. http://www.shirhadash.org/sermons/show.cgi?id=040828-immigrants http://www.tdhs-nw.org/about_us/index.php3 I guess the answer isn't "somewhat obvious," after all.

Menken goes on to take some cheap shots and to demonstrate his profound ignorance about science and the very process of peer review:


"[BTA] has not merely confused my book with that of some other author, but has apparently also confused the chemistry and math departments (or two different offices in the physics department). Peer review is done when one conducts an experiment which produces data, leading to results and conclusions. Others must replicate the experiment and emerge with similar data in order to confirm the results. No one has suggested a structured peer review of 1+1=2, or even a far more complex series of mathematical equations—since any knowledgeable individual can do it at home." [wrong! See the peer-reviewed Journal of the American Mathematical Society http://www.ams.org/journals/tran/]

First of all, he's intentionally evading my point (that Schroeder gets his credibility supposedly from being a scientist, yet his ideas are NOT SCIENTIFIC!) Perhaps Rabbi Mencken didn't have his coffee that day. However, it's pretty clear he was being deliberately obtuse.

Second: His definition of peer review is all wrong, based on pure ignorance. But not knowing something shouldn't stop us from making condescending statements about it, eh R. Mencken? Peer review is done for theoretical scientific research, not just experiments. See the table of contents of one of the oldest and most respected peer-reviewed journals, Nature:
http://www.nature.com/nphys/index.html The majority of the articles discuss theory. And here's a definition for peer review for next time, Rabbi: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_journal


What Schroeder posits is a theory, thus making it subject to peer review. He didn't get it published, as it was not worthy of publishing. End of discussion. Now, wasn't that easy?

Third, Schroeder's theory is deeply flawed. There is no such thing as a universal "sphere" or "time;" such ideas are completely meaningless in General Relativity. Why not cite Ptolemy for truly mathematically "cute" cosmology instead of a former MIT Teaching Assistant-geologist?

My comments continue:
"Also you are guilty of "picking and choosing" when it comes to Schroeder. To my understanding he is only addressing the likelihood of initial amino acids in the early earth's soupy atmosphere evolving into the complex life forms we see today with his Million Monkey examples. (Or as Dennis Prager says "bacteria to Bach"). However, Schroeder accepts evolution in principle, he just seems to think something "extra" is necessary. "

As far as I'm aware, Schroeder has no problem with humans evolving from apes, for example; he just claims that there must have been a push along the way to accelerate progress. Of course, his model is based on incomplete evidence, as this field is constantly progressing. In the most recent Scientific American, November issue, for example, new evidence is discussed for Earth cooling hundreds of millions, if not billions, of years earlier than previously thought.
Thus, with a cooler earth earlier, amino acids could have coalesced even sooner into primitive life forms. And- you guessed it- with all that extra time, the calculations become a lot more appealing in terms of the probability that life evolved in the time frame given. I think you said it best: "One cannot dismiss or ignore evidence because it leads in uncomfortable directions."

R. Menken disregards the reference to recent research about a cooler early earth, because of its uncomfortable implications, no doubt. However, in response to the "bacteria to Bach" topic he says with an apparent straight face:

And what is most important is that no one in the field challenges the accuracy of his conclusion they realize it is almost inconceivable that it happened by chance, but fall back on this anyway, since there is no other "natural" explanation of how we got here.

Oh really? See Dawkins' "The Blind Watchmaker." Therein, he shows how his home computer reproduces whole sentences in microseconds! http://www.simonyi.ox.ac.uk/dawkins/writings/blindwatchmaker.shtml

It should be noted that Mencken devotes 4 sentences to the theory of evolution in his Everything Torah Bunk book. Despite having just spent 5 pages on the documentary hypothesis and 3 pages on the Big Bang, Rabbi Mencken states anemically:

"The topic of this book is Torah, not evolutionary theory- we needn't enter the debate about the evidence pro or con. For our purposes [meaning "Kiruv Comrades"] it is enough to understand that physical evidence for evolution can be reconciled in simiilar ways as the Age of the Universe." ETB, pg. 201.

Methinks R. Mencken knew he could not even address Dawkins' proofs. Perhaps instead of poking around for a Jewish scientist or two to validate his belief system, he should just stick to discussing the beliefs themselves.

Let's just sum up here. Kiruv Comrade Mencken (KCM) has been shown for what he is. His his obfuscation are no match for the power of the internet and the power of the blog.

We can now see why KCM would have such a vested interest in running his "blog" Cross- currents like the Stalinists run Pravda. I think he should just acknowledge that the scientific conflict-related questions are unanswerable, if he really wants to be true to the Torah.

Potential BT's: Please have this type of nonsense in mind the next time a Kiruv Clown Rabbi (not all kiruv rabbis are clowns) subtly transorms into a Kiruv Comrade when you ask tough questions. The bullet point outline of their tricks and tactics:

  • Employ misdirection, especially appeal to authority, e.g. "Rashi didn't have a problem with it and you're a snail in comparison..." or "Drs. Penzias and Schroeder observe the Torah, so the "Torah" must be as I say it is;
  • They distort your question to begin with and answer a different question, e.g. "this book is about Torah, not evolution..."
  • They are deliberately vague when it suits their purposes, e.g. saying "The 'Torah' is true." or (from above) Dr. Penzias adopted observance of 'the Torah' or "Does the age of the universe contradict 'the Torah?'" In these examples, what does "observe" mean? Can it be reform as well? What does "the Torah" mean? Does it mean being orthodox written and oral torah? What does he mean when he says "contradict the Torah?" Of course he means does it contradict the first few days of creation, not all the other stuff in the Torah! It's notable that he says "few are better qualified to answer than Dr. Penzias! I agree that Nobel Prize winning astrophysicists have far more credibility than hack geologists, but don't rabbis have a say in whether there's a contradiction, Rabbi Mencken? Hareidi Judge/Dayan Rav Moshe Sternbuch seems to have an opinion, and that opinion is that 7 days = 7 days and all that Schroeder stuff is bunk! http://www.zootorah.com/controversy/RavSternbuchEnglish.pdf So it looks like R. Mencken is in between a rock and a hard place: both scientists and Rabbis of much higher stature than he say all that Schroeder stuff is bunk- Everything Torah Bunk, that is.
  • The Big One: They act dimissive of the question you have as if it is of little of no consequence, e.g. "the answer is somewhat obvious..."

Well, there you have it. I hope all the critics can now see why it important to call out an overexposed Kiruv Comrade. He is doing more harm than good, but he thinks the end (getting Jews to say they're frum) justifies the means (employing dirty tricks and possibly totally misconstruing the true essence of frumkeit- emunah pshutah).

P.S.- There's a lot more to Menken than I ever dreamed. Check out this account of how he defamed a guy named Rosenblatt while defending sexual predator rabbis. http://jewishwhistleblower.blogspot.com/2004/12/rabbi-yaakov-menken-commits-mozi-shem.html

Isn't is interesting the writing style Menken uses to bash a good samaritan- just like his snide comments on cross-currents.

74 Comments:

Blogger BTA said...

I know the formatting's messed up. But it's fine after 1/2 way through.

Also, don't comment on the stuff at the end, it just bears consideration, not comments since there's a whole investigation involved.

11/17/2005 3:48 AM  
Blogger The Hedyot said...

Good stuff. But your tone is a bit too rabid. It detracts from your credibility.

11/17/2005 5:39 AM  
Blogger B. Spinoza said...

Hedyot,

it worked for GH

11/17/2005 10:29 AM  
Anonymous Holy Hyrax said...

cripes man, Ill have to read this whole post on my lunch brake.

And I totally agree with B. Spinoza. The only difference is GH came at it to reform the kiruv clowns(comrades). BTA is basically saying everything is just bullshit.

Cant wait to read it though :)

11/17/2005 12:12 PM  
Anonymous Holy Hyrax said...

anyways, none of this nonsence is important.:) GODOL HADOR IS BACK

11/17/2005 12:27 PM  
Blogger Ezzie said...

I don't know about most of what you wrote... but physicists believe in God at an extremely high rate.

Sorry to criticize, but you have to clean up the formatting - it's too hard to read. If you're writing on blogger, you can insert links into words themselves - highlight a word, and click on the little hyperlink button. The lines are messed up as well...

11/17/2005 2:16 PM  
Blogger Anonymousette said...

is your blog going to just be kiruv bashing? i hope not.

11/17/2005 4:55 PM  
Anonymous Holy Hyrax said...

anonymousette

Kiruv organizations (not all of them) need a good ass kicking for them to realize where they are going wrong. Just recently, I got a brochure from Arachim. Their itinerary contained no science or bible codes classes. Perhaps, I hope, they are learning the fallacies of bringing people into Judaism with these "proofs."

This is in no way my opinion of Menkens book as I don't know anything about it. But from other books that I read, I don't see why this book should be any different.

11/17/2005 5:17 PM  
Blogger BTA said...

"BTA is basically saying everything is just b-shit."

First of all, don't make me censor you!

Second of all, I didn't say that. If I thought that, I wouldn't blog, I wouldn't care. There's a lot that has added meaning to my life.

Cross-currents is basically BS and the techniques employed by Menken have been used by sooo many kiruv clowns that I want to innoculate BT's against self-doubt in certain areas. I don't claim to have all the answers, but I'm a rationalist and I put a lot of stock that which can be proven or explained through logic and empirical fact.

11/17/2005 8:27 PM  
Blogger BTA said...

"but physicists believe in God at an extremely high rate."

First of all, "believe" in some benign sense, perhaps. Einstein had some sort of quotes but he clearly didn't beleive in God in any way shape or form that you do.
It's really a meaningless statement.

Now, if most physicists were orthodox Jews and Jewish converts based on their studies, that might be relevant.

In sum, and this is well-trodden ground, the vast majority don't beleive in the God of the Torah, not HaShem.

If some believe in krishna, some in allah (meaning he gives arabs special treatment) and Jesus' father-God, they all believe in different gods. So exactly how relevant is it to you or to Jews as a whole?

The formatting is just screwed up. I almost deleted the whole post by accident, which would have lead to my leaping from the nearest high rise!

Fortunately, you can read the messed up lines just by reading the cross currents blog.

11/17/2005 8:32 PM  
Blogger BTA said...

"I hope, they [at Arachim] are learning the fallacies of bringing people into Judaism with these "proofs."

They aren't. They probably just leave it out of the brochures. Call and ask if science e.g. evolution, age of the universe stuff.

Also, if you're right and they don't touch it, it's for a much worse reason- because these ideas were banned by the gedolim!

That's right, you just can't win!

11/17/2005 8:35 PM  
Anonymous AYKR said...

The Ribono Shel Olam runs the world.

11/17/2005 8:40 PM  
Blogger BTA said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11/17/2005 9:03 PM  
Blogger BTA said...

"The Ribono Shel Olam runs the world."

In addition to being a redundant statement, you've really given me such solace. It would be nice if he'd stop by once in a while, though. You know, like the old days when he sent whales and parted seas and spoke from bushes and the like.

Would it be so much to ask for a "State of the Olam" address?! Say, on a Thursday night a 9pm.

11/17/2005 9:18 PM  
Blogger BTA said...

"Anonymousette said...
is your blog going to just be kiruv bashing? i hope not."

One of the primary functions of this site is to bash kiruv clowns and kiruv comrades.

You can just go to other sites for other things. It's really rather effortless.

This is not "my diary." One day soon, I'll stop posting and just maintain the blog as I say allude to in the mission statement, as a "buoy" in a sea of sheker.

A lot of BT's feel short-changed and confused by the tactics employed by unethical kiruv pros.

The kiruv guys have training and talk shop about their prospects. They use them for marketing and fundraising and thus have all kinds of conflicts of interest.

It's great you're happy with your lot. That's why perhaps "happy with his lot" is a more fitting blog for you. I've said that previously.

I am more than happy to give guest blogs to anyone remotely on topic, and that goes for you.

11/17/2005 9:23 PM  
Blogger chardal said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11/17/2005 9:28 PM  
Blogger BTA said...

"I can tell you that in Israel, I have heard of many instances when beit din put severe communal restrictions on individuals who were accused of wrongdoing."

Do you have to bring Slifkin into this? ;)

11/17/2005 9:35 PM  
Blogger BTA said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11/17/2005 9:37 PM  
Blogger BTA said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11/17/2005 9:45 PM  
Blogger BTA said...

"anyways, none of this nonsence is important.:) GODOL HADOR IS BACK"

DOH!! I know. I was actually disappointed to see him back. Isn't that strange? Also, he stole my thunder on my latest tomes.

11/17/2005 9:50 PM  
Blogger BTA said...

the Everything Torah Bunk picture's funny, isn't it? huh? isn't it??? in a funny sorta way??

:P

11/17/2005 9:50 PM  
Blogger Ezzie said...

One of the primary functions of this site is to bash kiruv clowns and kiruv comrades.

A shame. That was not what you stated originally. Not that you can't change it at your will; but it wasn't that long ago. You had said this blog would detail issues potential BT's face; and would give over the stories of BT's (or others) who have/had trouble with different issues that came up in Orthodox Judaism. Not "bash Kiruv clowns". If you want to address specific issues, that falls under the scope of what you said originally. Going after Mencken as overboard as you have is somewhat sad.

11/17/2005 9:55 PM  
Blogger BTA said...

"Going after Mencken as overboard as you have is somewhat sad."

Ezz, there is something very Wiesenthal Center about your comments, like you are trying to change me from the outside in. The tzaddik posts are getting old.

I really, r-e-a-l-l-y don't care if it offends some people. You have your head buried in the sand. You said you know nothing about Menken in a previous post. You don't know cross currents, then you don't know the issues.

I'm glad you are so pure, but I'm not changing a thing. I think it's sad that you feel like you have so few personal thoughts that you not only have to post your name and identity, but even your wedding picture.

That epitomizes the kind of goody 2 shoes stuff I dislike in OJ.

Can't you have a private hobby?
Do you have to have to posts blogs that kiss up to your father in law? Does he read the blog too?!

None of this is said to criticize you- I just can't fathom your viewpoint. I feel things too strongly for some, sometimes. However, I know these posts hit the spot for some.

What ever happened to pashtus?

Menken's a kiruv clown. End of story.

11/17/2005 10:30 PM  
Blogger BTA said...

Chardal- better?

11/17/2005 10:48 PM  
Blogger happywithhislot said...

BTA
As Ive been blogging ive come to better understand what my concerns are.

My big issue is skpetics trying to turn rabbinic judiasm into sadducee judiasm.

Other than that, ive said many times, do you what you want, its none of my business. That doesnt stop me from enjoying to read what you write.

I might of previously thought for some mistaken reason that was your agenda. But its clear it is not.

I do have some questions for you as Ive been reading your posts lately.

Can you explain the difference between a kiruv clown, and a good kiruv person?

(im tempted to write more, but i will be disciplined, and wait for your response!)

11/17/2005 11:30 PM  
Anonymous Holy Hyrax said...

Wow, hot topic huh?... I mean't the book cover. BABOOM BOOM.

Anyway, I think we went drastically off topic with Menkens personal life here. Let get back on topic

Second of all, I didn't say that. If I thought that, I wouldn't blog, I wouldn't care. There's a lot that has added meaning to my life.

You do a whole lot of blogging but you rarely share the "added meaning" part. My feeling is and I may be wrong, that you blog for the same reason all us skeptics blog, cause we are unhappy at our current stage and we are dying for someone to show us a rock that says "moses was here." All this "added meaning" stuff is bunk (if I may borrow your term). Once something happens you will forget about the "good feelings" you get from Shabbat and how you and your family can sit down together for a nice meal. I tried that, it does not work. Once your kids come home with some homework (if you decide to send them to a religious school), the only feeling you will be getting is a headache from beating your head against the wall.

If some believe in krishna, some in allah (meaning he gives arabs special treatment) and Jesus' father-God, they all believe in different gods. So exactly how relevant is it to you or to Jews as a whole?

If this was true, than it would be relevant to everyone. It would show that scientist do believe in a higher power and that it does not contrdict science. You think its irrelevant to Jews because its not our God, and therefore contridicts torah. But we are not talking about Torah, we are only talking about the existance of God and that scientists also would believe in a higher power.

Would it be so much to ask for a "State of the Olam" address?! Say, on a Thursday night a 9pm.

I know thats sarcasm (or is it, hey, its almost 9pm now), but in that statement lies something profound. Do you honostly think God will reveal himself to you. You are a rationalist, so what kind of proof do you want? When you used to be frum, you new God did not operate this way anymore, and you accepted it. So what happened now? Its probably cause you believe the Torah is no more devine than tonights Simpson episode and you constintly associate a belief in God with the Torah being from him. That is total carmel baloney. If there is anything I hope to accomplish in my lifetime,it is for you to understand that part of the problem is that you were atheist before, and that it does cause a certain bias inside you once the torah claim proved false, and.... also, that a notion of the existance of God is independent of a Torah and that a scientific equation will never find him.

With that said, I actually want to read his book and judge for myself. Yes BTA you did a nice job on the cover. (Someone give BTA here a nice cookey wookey) :). Now I must flee, my wife is giving me that look. You all know, the look

11/17/2005 11:53 PM  
Blogger BTA said...

Hyrax- Pleeeeeease don't buy the book! It is so stupid. I'll send you my copy. Don't encourage this jackass. There is so much more I could write about it. It's like shooting fish in a barrel.

As for your theme, I'm sure it's not bias. Rather, I think I missed out on a lot of indoctrination that would have made it more likely for me to believe, that's for sure.

When I look at my children, I realize I could mould them into anything at least during their early years. They could be hassidishce, or atheist, christian, you name it.

That power and responsibility is really why I started this blog- to get answers. I just haven't gotten any.

I'm not waiting around for god to appear, my point was simply if he wants us to believe, he can accomplish that quite easily. It doesn't have to be through our own burning bush, but something between the Kuzari Principle and the burning bush would be nice.

Yes, I started on blogs to get my skeptical ideas validated. I started my blog (when you copped out) to do 2 things: figure out a comfortable path and put a strong bunch of essays out there for potential BT's to be equipped.

I don't know what's best. As I think about it as I'm writing in this journal like format- perhaps I have a responsibility to those potential BT's as well as my children. Of course, a lower level, but I could shape them as well. I really can't say how good it is to have blind faith. That's my bias.

If I could believe, I would. But the middle ground is purgatory.

We'll have to see.

Let's get one

11/18/2005 2:28 AM  
Blogger BTA said...

Happy, thanks for the nice words.

To answer your question: "Can you explain the difference between a kiruv clown, and a good kiruv person?"

First off, I must admit I am a bit too entrenched in the attacking of the clowns and it has a carry over effect.

However, let's start with the basics: Anyone can do kiruv. You don't have to be trained "pro."

In fact, the ones who do it for a living have too many conflicts of interest in my opinion to avoid clown status.

That being said, some people just do torah things and show the appeal of yiddishkeit. Others show that you don't have to have all the answers.

As for Rabbis, I truly dislike any organization or rabbi that uses sophistry. I don't like the quasi-scientific proofs. I don't like aish, schroder and a lot of others. But their common thread is pretending to have all the answers.

Then, you have someone like nathan lopes cardozo. I like his books and web posts. Even Berel Wein is good.

Basically it's a fine line ever since the gedolim came along. They drew a pretty clear line in the sand and kiruv folks are falling on one side or the other.

Also, it makes no sense to ask me since I'm unclear what I want from people jewish-wise.

This month's jewish journal has a cover article about kiruv on college campuses. Now, when I see that I figure there's tons of clowniness going on, but I'm pretty glad if these college kids marry jewish and if they became shomer shabbos, then great!

So, in essence, I'm confused. I probably will vacillate for a while.

11/18/2005 2:42 AM  
Anonymous Holy Hyrax said...

my point was simply if he wants us to believe, he can accomplish that quite easily. It doesn't have to be through our own burning bush, but something between the Kuzari Principle and the burning bush would be nice.

aaaaaaaah my friend, don't we all, don't we all. But perhaps thats not the way it goes. Maybe its for the best God does not show himself. One thing I learned from R' Adlerstein is, that we are here (on earth, not this blog) to be happy. Not upset, not angry, but to be happy. You gotta find your happiness. God does not need you to believe in him, but perhaps he says "there IS happiness in the world without me, but the ultimate happiness will always be through me." (that was my dvar Toirah for the night, please, please, no need for your applause). Read Richard Friedman's book "The Hidden Face of God" its probably one of my favorite books (that I lost). He deals with the way, as Gods hides himself slowly from Bereshit to the last book of Tanahk, man seems to gain more and more freedom. More control of his own desinty. If you believe in DH than you will most likely take his explanation for this phenomenon. Regardless, its a great book that, in my opinion, gives more credit towards traditional Judaism than not.

Yes, I started on blogs to get my skeptical ideas validated

Don't you mean, INvalidated? Like myself for instance.

By the way, I think you were a bit tough on Ezzie. His blog is HIS blog and it suits his needs. Steg also puts his pic on his blog and Gil certainly does not hide his identity. (ya, i know there are differences in content). He is a great guy that has been here from the beginning.

That epitomizes the kind of goody 2 shoes stuff I dislike in OJ

Is it dislike, or is it jealousy? On my guest post, I myself admitted to being jealous of the OJ at times. If you think about it rationally, there is no reason to dislike a goody 2 shoes.

I started my blog (when you copped out)

Thats cause yo last paycheck fo my post bounced, pawtna ;)

11/18/2005 3:19 AM  
Anonymous Holy Hyrax said...

Oh, by the way, I don't want to be a jerk and Im not sure if this has been called to your attention...but the formatting of this last post...was all skrewy. Im sure noone noticed. Tee hee.

11/18/2005 3:35 AM  
Blogger happywithhislot said...

bta
"So, in essence, I'm confused. I probably will vacillate for a while."

I will continue to read, as you work it out.

I agree with holy, you wont see signs of hashem unless you want to. As an example, I was at a shabbos lunch with some BT couples (i am FFB). The conversation turned to those who saw "the Hand of hashem" moments in life.

Each couple had another story that to them was amazing and showed them "the hand of Hashem". Either it was a mekubal who cryptically said something that came true or a rebbe that hinted at something that led to a confluence of events, etc.

Then they turned to me and my wife. We looked at each other, and couldnt come up with anything amazing (we never have gone to a rebbe or mekubal).

Talked about it with my wife later, and we did have some bashert moments, like the timing of this event or that, but nothing like "the hand of Hashem" stuff.

Is it that I dont see "the hand of Hashem" or is it that I dont need to and those couples needed to. The rationalist side of me says, they wanted to connect the mekubal to the event, because they needed it to be so.
Im not sure why.
Im perfectly happy believing in hashem without mekubalim. I have friends who always say that when they stretch themselves for tzedakkah, somehow later they are able to absorb it. Hand of Hashem?
Not sure what my point is, after rereading above, but i'll leave it in.

I made a point in some other blog that im not sure there should be active "chasing" kiruv outreach. I think you may be onto something regarding the "doing it for a living issue".

finally, I dont daven there, but ive heard him speak, i was wondering what you thought of Rabbi Moish Weinberger, of Aish Kodesh Institute, the Woodmerer Rebbe?
http://www.aishkodesh.org/aboutus_today.html
also check out his biography.

11/18/2005 8:41 AM  
Anonymous Holy Hyrax said...

vacillate:-
1. To sway from one side to the other; oscillate.

and here I thought it had something to do with vasaline. Me and my damn head slaps myself on the forhead

11/18/2005 2:20 PM  
Blogger BTA said...

Happy- great post. That really says it all. That's a big sticking point for me, my BT friends who are always seeing kabbalistic connections for good things in their lives (having kids, etc) and bad things in others' lives (tsunamis and hurricanes).

Because you've grown up with yiddishkeit you have a comfort level.

To answer your question, I'm not into Rebbes, but I haven't heard of that particular one. From the website, it seems strange you would suggest that place for me.

There are a lot of BT's turning to chassidus (not just chabad). I think it's interesting phenomenon, since it entirely avoids a lot of areas of conversation that would tap into their perhaps skeptical pasts.

Chassidus allows these folks to tap into just the spirituality and jewish tradition if that's all they want.

As a kiruv thing, I agree with you, there probably shouldn't be these organized outreach organizations. However, if the chassdic groups just do outreach by being warm and inviting to BT's without the usual push to yeshiva, I think it's fine.

Rebel jew posted about this and has a lot of perspective. I think it's a complex issue, because intelligent, educated BT's are fighting the stigma of becoming "backward." Hence they start out partly diving into all the exciting new thoughts and rituals of OJ, but at the same time, go for guys like Akiva Tatz (note to self- do a post on him even though he's not a clown, he uses a lot of smoke and mirrors) Schroeder, and Kelemen.

Then the clowning begins. So, I think you hit onto something interesting. If intelligent, educated BT's could just get into OJ without all the pretense, acknowledge that their approach is essentially a mystical one that is not scientific per se, that would be healthier.

As for me, maybe I would have been totally different if I'd started off more in the chassidic thing. But I doubt my skeptical side would have prevailed. Also, the talmud and oral law, etc are still so prominently featured that I don't know if I would have stomached it.

I do know I really enjoy Shabbos, the more signing the better, and I like to be around people that aren't dressed and acting like they're at a morgue.

Good Shabbos, my friend.

11/18/2005 3:01 PM  
Blogger BTA said...

Ezzie- sorry about my post. I got carried away, but many of my true thoughts are there. Since hyrax posted some interesting comments about it, I'll leave it there. Anyway, I see you have more to deal with with DovBear. ;)

Good Shabbos to you and Holy Hyrax.

11/18/2005 3:07 PM  
Blogger Ezzie said...

LOL. I actually didn't take offense... I do realize my own comment was a bit haughty sounding, and was going to apologize. Do I still have to? Okay... Sorry.

And I dealt with DB: Click.

Apology accepted. Thanks for reformatting the post (though can you make links into the post, not seperate? Please?).

I am able to post non-anonymously because I honestly don't care if anybody agrees with me or not, nor what they think. My wife had an excellent line when we started going out: "Be yourself, because the people who care don't matter, and the people who matter don't care." That said, I don't usually post about my personal life, for a variety of reasons; and I tend to avoid Torah subjects, because I honestly don't know enough to do so.

In that regard, I guess I'm better in your book than Menken. :) I just didn't like the tone of the post: I got very little out of it other than "BTA hates Menken, partly because Menken blocks comments he doesn't like." Though the second half (directed to potential BT's) was actually quite good.

Oh yeah - if you check, you'll see I have NEVER written about my father-in-law on my blog. And no, he doesn't read it. :)

11/19/2005 6:44 PM  
Blogger Freelance Kiruv Maniac said...

This taken from Hirhurim regarding peer review of Schroeder's book:
From:http://hirhurim.blogspot.com/2005/01/banned-iii-age-of-universe.html
"Let me now add the voice of one of the leading American roshei yeshiva of the twentieth century, R. Shmuel Ya’akov Weinberg. The following is a (lightly edited) excerpt from an open letter by R. Ari Kahn of Aish HaTorah and Bar Ilan University about the process of his hiring Dr. Gerald Schroeder who, in his book Genesis and the Big Bang, promotes the view that the six days of Creation were really billions of years long:

"Many years ago, in my capacity of educational director of Aleynu (Aish HaTorah's outreach arm), I hired Dr. Gerald (Yaakov, as he prefers to be called) Schroeder. When I first heard his material, I was impressed with the novel approach. He then delivered a lecture to senior staff including myself, Rav Motty Berger and Rav Shmuel Veffer. In order to protect Aish from the type of attack it is experiencing now, I introduced Dr. Shroeder to Rav Yitzchak Berkovitz, and then Rav Noach Weinberg. Neither had objections to his basic approach. Later, when his first book came out, we gave a copy to Rav Yaakov Weinberg, and then arranged a meeting. I was there together with Rav Yaakov Weinberg and Dr. Schroeder. Anticipating that one day people will claim that Rav Yaakov Weinberg never could have approved his approach, I came armed with a tape recorder. Somewhere in my house I have a tape of the meeting.

Rav Yaakov's first concern was that the science was valid -- while he was extremely well read and conversant in science, Rav Yakov was humble enough to feel that he could not judge the book scientifically and wanted to know that the science was indeed acceptable. Dr. Schroeder assured him that the book went through scientific peer review at Bantam books . Rav Yaakov was satisfied. Rav Yaakov then gave some guidelines and advice."


Maybe you should write Bantam books and ask them what kind of peer review was made before any further accusations?

11/19/2005 7:34 PM  
Blogger BTA said...

"scientific peer review at Bantam books"

FKM- even if the above is 100% true, that is not peer review. Peer review is done be the journal sending the paper or study out to anonymous reviewers.

Whoever the "scientific" reviewers were at bantam, they are not true peer review.

All R. Yaakov needs to do is ask any professor of physics in any of the top schools in the US or Europe whether Schroeder's theory adds up. I assure you not one would endorse his book.

Also, don't take my word for it, just look at Schroeder's own web page. He has only 2 reviews and both basically say they are unconvinced and the second recommends two DIFFERENT books! What a joke.
http://www.geraldschroeder.com/gbb.html

Also, give me a break with your "accusations" admonitions. I'll make any accusations I like of this hack. And that sad-ass rabbi was totally duped. He took Mr. Charlatan Schroeder's word for the scientific peer review- big mistake.

11/19/2005 10:47 PM  
Blogger BTA said...

Hey, Ezz, great to see your post.

"though can you make links into the post, not seperate? Please?"

How do you do that in html?

11/19/2005 10:52 PM  
Blogger BTA said...

"I hired Dr. Gerald (Yaakov, as he prefers to be called) Schroeder"

Oh pleeeeeaze! Bantam can't spell yaakov? Why not put that on his books?

Oh, and i guess yaakovschroeder.com was already taken as well, so he had to go with grealschroeder?

This guy is such a clown it gets my blood pressure rising!

11/20/2005 12:21 AM  
Blogger Ezzie said...

I'll email you.

11/20/2005 4:44 AM  
Blogger happywithhislot said...

bta
"But I doubt my skeptical side wouldnt have prevailed. Also, the talmud and oral law, etc are still so prominently featured that I don't know if I would have stomached it."
Obviously, here is where i disagree. This makes it sound that the talmud and oral law are disgusting. Is there no way for you to say, i simply dont agree with them? (i think its a big difference, but let me know if i misunderstood what you meant).

11/20/2005 12:31 PM  
Blogger BTA said...

Thanks, Ezz. You really take The Cake

11/20/2005 2:39 PM  
Blogger BTA said...

Happy- no, of course it's not disgusting. I should have said I couldn't "swallow" the oral law, which would have been funnier anyway, metaphor-wise.

But, all I mean is when I read:
"Moses received the Torah from Sinai and transmitted it Joshua. Joshua transmitted it to the Elders, the Elders to the Prophets, and the Prophets transmitted it to the Men of the Great Assembly. They [the Men of the Great Assembly] said three things: Be deliberate in judgment, raise many students, and make a protective fence for the Torah."

My "gut" reaction is what mythological nonsense and what a power-grab by the rabbis. If I weren't an atheist, I'd call them heretics adding to the torah. Seriously.

11/20/2005 2:44 PM  
Blogger BTA said...

Specifically- the fences became as exalted as purportedly divine intruction. see the famous claim in brachos that whomever disobeys a rabbinic commandment is chiuv misa.

11/20/2005 2:47 PM  
Blogger happywithhislot said...

BTA
the same rabbinic decrees can be overriden for kovod habrius, even on shabbos.
So it doesnt mean simply disobeying a rabbinic decree. Its the intention of the transgressor.

secondly, i agree this is rabbinic judiasm. You look at it as power grab, i look at it as the group whose mesorah won in the court of public opinion of their day (the sadduccess had the semblance of power - the kehuna - but went down in the dust bin of history.).

Respect them for that. Their insight, had judiasm survive. I see this as divine, you see it as ..... what?

11/20/2005 6:14 PM  
Blogger BTA said...

"Respect them for that. Their insight, had judiasm survive."

"I see this as divine, you see it as ..... what?"

I actually see rabbinic judaism as a combination of religion and evolution/natural selection.

I agree the rabbis had some incredible insights into human nature. I also think they set up a system with tons and tons of loopholes and that adaptability became both a good and bad aspect. On one hand, we could be reasonable and adapt. ON the other hand, whenever it was deemed "out of the questions" to adapt the mitzvahs, it just seemed arbitrary.

Take the biggest loophole of all- eruvin. Literally and figuratively.

11/20/2005 9:10 PM  
Blogger happywithhislot said...

BTA
Im no scholar, and my only knowledge of eruvin is daf yomi, and artscroll translation.

So what is the loophole of eruvin?

11/20/2005 11:39 PM  
Blogger BTA said...

well you know far more than I. All I meant is the idea of a string around an entire city allowing one to carry on shabbos is a huge loophole in more ways than one.

11/21/2005 12:38 AM  
Blogger happywithhislot said...

why?

11/21/2005 9:54 AM  
Blogger Needsabetterjob said...

Because the issue is, are you allowed to carry something, and why not? If not, then accept it as a no. But what happens is people push for changing this NO, bec. it is too difficult. So the masses decide what they want and the Rabbi's provide a mechanism to do so. I find it hypocritical, not saying horrible and offensive, every system has hypocracy in it, let's at least admit that Judaism is not perfect.

11/21/2005 12:27 PM  
Blogger happywithhislot said...

NABJ
Oh, i see, so the masses got tired of getting their eyes poked out so they forced the rabbis to come up with a reason not to.

The gemera in shabbos actually talks about gezeiros they wanted to implement that they saw were too difficult for masses to accept.
So they were honest enough to write about that, but they were lieing about all the other gezeros.

I dont buy it.

As to wether judiasm is perfect, lets admit that jews are not perfect, and i believe where most of the problem lies. before we give fodder to antisemites, lets also add that humans in general are not perfect.

And lets admit that those who want to change the torah for the current social issues that bother them, are not perfect as well.

As ive said before, only those who want gay rights are the tzaddikim of our time.

11/21/2005 12:39 PM  
Blogger BTA said...

"The gemera in shabbos actually talks about gezeiros they wanted to implement that they saw were too difficult for masses to accept.
So they were honest enough to write about that, but they were lieing about all the other gezeros."

Happy, you're not thinking this through. In fact, if what you say occurs in the gemara is true, it proves the point. It proves they took into consideration what people could or couldn't (or wouldn't) accept!

And they knew people wouldn't accept not carrying on shabbos in their times. Hence, the eruv.

Now, keep in mind, the basic rabbinical principle is that they can make leiniencies in any prohibitions that were rabbinic in nature. The 39 melachos, though they call them d'orisa, are really rabbinic. And the prohibition on carrying even small things that don't require hard labor is rabbinic as well.

It would seem a good place for hashem to introduce the concept of eruv is where Moshe asks hashem what to do with the poor slob caught carrying sticks on shabbos.
Hashem could have said "kill him, but fyi- put a string around the town for future carriers, and no problemo!" But no, that would be too helpful. Better to take up half the torah to go in detail about temple sacrifices that would be of no use for the majority of our history as a people. Or how many shekels this one or that is worth, etc.

11/21/2005 2:34 PM  
Blogger BTA said...

I'll as Mississippi Fred as well, but I'll throw the question out here. Did the diaspora rabbis in Bavil just after the 2nd temple was destroyed make use of the death penalty?

I assume they were given full jurisdiction over their own people and that included criminal jurisdiction.

Today, people say there's no death penalty because there's no sanhedrin. I really wonder if that's historically true or not.

However, the answer (and I don't think either way, the gemara's a reliable history book by itself) would be very instructive on the issue of evruvin and many others.

For example, perhaps the rabbis in Bavil were mostly concerned with keeping the jews together, and not assimilating with the locals or adopting their idolotrous ways.

They would have limited power to force complete compliance on torah rule while at the same time keeping jews jewish.

I think it is during this time that you would find the rabbis created many loopholes and modifications of the torah laws. Eruvin would be the big example of this, but there is so much more. You'd also find adoption of the less onerous babylonian religious practices.

11/21/2005 2:49 PM  
Blogger happywithhislot said...

BTA
I disagree (obviously).
First of all, the suggestion that there were gezeros the rabbanan took back, was related to protecting against being oiver a doraisah. It doesnt prove youre point that they created rabbinic rules to override what the torah says. (no matter how many times you repeat that its all rabbinic anyway)

I go back to the eye for an eye. Is this one of those laws that the people (after constantly poking each others eyes out) just got fed up with, and forced the rabbanan to change? Do you have any evidence that jews ever practiced literal eye for an eye?

As to why the torah didnt write this or that, these are all addressed by many meforshim, which you choose not to accept.

Id like to see your torah, with the complete mishna berurah/shulchan orech embedded in it. Hmmm. That is what we have the oral law for.

11/21/2005 5:13 PM  
Blogger BTA said...

"I go back to the eye for an eye."

I noticed.

"Is this one of those laws that the people (after constantly poking each others eyes out) just got fed up with, and forced the rabbanan to change?"

Perhaps, or perhaps like Hammurabi's Code (or Suadi Arabia) it just means capital punishment. But don't lose sight of the point here. The Torah read literally is quite primitive and not worth following. The Rabbi's did their best to change all that. Unfortunately, they got carried away with their legislative power.

So, tell me, why not say the value of an eye or a limb, since the torah spells out what "good condition" men women, children and slaves are worth in shekels (without figuring in for inflation)?

What exactly was the monetary value of an eye that makes this so enlightened and divine of an approach? 1 shekel?

Also, we know the torah allowed for a life for a life, because, in order to avoid being killed by a family member for killing their relative, you had to go run and hid in a city of refuge. Thus, there was "life for a life" back then.

If you really want to consider how much the rabbi's altered judaism to make it more palatable, just imagine what it would have been like to be frum in biblical times! Getting killed for carrying sticks on shabbos. Being sold into slavery. Women being captured in battle and raped into being wives. (read yehoshua and judges). Slavery in general, plural marriage, child marriage and so on.
It was like saudi arabia or worse

"Do you have any evidence that jews ever practiced literal eye for an eye?"

It's difficult to produce an "eyewitness account" of that for obvious reasons.

But seriously, eye for an eye is figurative for corporeal punishment as I said above. And a life for a life was clearly the norm back then no matter what B.S. apologetics you hear about the sanhedrin being limited to one death penalty every 7 years, etc.

11/21/2005 6:05 PM  
Blogger BTA said...

"As to why the torah didnt write this or that, these are all addressed by many meforshim, which you choose not to accept."

They are just taking shots in the dark is my only point. All this just goes to the fact that the torah's not divine, not that I should read or not read commentaries on it.

"Id like to see your torah, with the complete mishna berurah/shulchan orech embedded in it. Hmmm. That is what we have the oral law for."

Precisely! They made up the oral law to explain this otherwise primitive mesopotamian document. A document so full of holes. A document incorporating myths like the flood, adam and eve, and the tower of babel from other cultures. A document that taken at face value, advocates, slavery, murder for murder, child marriage, and on and on. It takes holidays and law from Babylon, like New Moon worship and even the names of the months are from Babylon.

The mishna and talmud were latter day attempts to hellenize the torah and make it more reasonable and sane.

Of course we disagree, but this isn't getting anywhere. And the persons to debate about this are those who at least beleive some of it such as godol hador or on the main line, or dov bear.

I personally hold that you can open any page of the torah and see a bunch of lies and made up events.

11/21/2005 6:11 PM  
Blogger Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

>I go back to the eye for an eye. Is this one of those laws that the people (after constantly poking each others eyes out) just got fed up with, and forced the rabbanan to change? Do you have any evidence that jews ever practiced literal eye for an eye?

The "evidence" would be that the Sadduccees took it literally.

Also, R. Eliezer ben Hyrcanus says its literal.

Let me repeat, R. Eliezer ben Hyrcanus says its literal.

The point: when the Tannaim were discussing it it was an academic point. The facts are that at the time they were discussing it was understood as monetary compensation. The question is only if this was the original meaning. The shitta of R. Eliezer at least ALLOWS for this possibility.

11/21/2005 10:19 PM  
Blogger happywithhislot said...

BTA and mississipi
Let me continue on the eye for an eye topic. I understand this is BTA blog, and BTA can shut this line of inquiry if BTA feels its been exhausted. Please indulge me.

Ok, so BTA says that maybe eye for an eye didnt mean a literal eye but a life. I find that fascinating because here you dont want to attribute literal meaning to the posuk, which to me possibly means acceptance of an oral tradition. Doesnt it? Missip. will say the saducees did see it as an eye, and what? Is missip saying that the sadducees were in power from ezra to the tannaim who were the rebels?

Furthermore, the problem is the posuk going on about other limbs etc. Why repeat all of them if it meant the same thing. So i dont think it meant a life.

Now if compensation was already understood by the time of the tanaaim as not an eye, as Missip. points out, who made that up? If your supposition was right that the torah is written sometime in ezra, then from what point forward did the eye exchange to money? Youre talking about over the period of the 2nd temple, a period of 300 years. Is that really likely?

Missip: can you point me the reference where R' Eliezer Ben H. says what you quoted (i dont doubt it, i just want to look it up to see the context in the gemera).

Again, BTA, thanks for letting me continue on this specific line of questioning.

11/21/2005 10:35 PM  
Blogger Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

I think its a Beraisa cited in bava kama 84.

11/21/2005 11:14 PM  
Blogger BTA said...

Happy, please continue it's much more interesting to listen to you and mississippi fred converse.

However, you missed the thrust of my point. The verse eye for an eye is also talking about a life for a life literally. I wasn't saying an "eye for a life"

I think it would be instructive to look at the 3 verses. Now, I have a link that lays them out nicely, but it's from a christian site, so ignore the last quote about turning the other cheek, etc.

Exodus 21:22
If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman's husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.
23 And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life,
24 Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,
25 Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

Now, clearly the context is 2 guys fighting and one causing the other guy's wife to miscarry. At that point, the compensation is monetary only.

However, "mischief following" is a condition precedent to inflicting actual punishment against the fighter. As you can see, there was life for a life awarded.

Also, if you really applied formal logic to this torah example, it would be very rare indeed that a man would put out another man's eye after having caused that same man's wife to miscarry!

In fact, all of the above eye, tooth, limb, and life are only taken from the mischievious offender subsequent to the victim's wife's miscarriage.

So, take it away from there. and See the 2 other "eye for an eye" psukim from Leviticus and Dvarim. And ignore the christian part, obviously. It's laid out very well here.

http://www.topical-bible-studies.org/31-0016.htm

11/22/2005 2:17 AM  
Blogger BTA said...

Also, look at the eidim zomamim example from Dvarim. There, the false witness would have to lose a life or an eye or whatever would have befallen the victim of his false testimony. This becomes circular to some extent, since the punishment to be meted out, al pi the gemara would only be monetary.

11/22/2005 2:19 AM  
Blogger BTA said...

Btw, the gemara may deal with this, but how wise is the money damages example even if true? After all, most people weren't too rich, so what kind of money are talking about here? Five bucks for an eye?

And if the person who owes money is penniless or just poor, he gets aways scot-free! Not too divine a legal system there. Also, how do you enforce the judgment? What if the person doing it is just a passerby?

I think it's clear that eye for an eye is lex talonis (law of revenge) which makes sense for those days, but which is clearly not very god-like.

Also, keep in mind that the "new testament" clearly mocked this form of justice with the "turn the other cheek" story. In this context, the mishna and the gemara were written hundreds of years later, when christianity was really taking hold, and of course the Rabbis had every motive to re-write the rules, which is exactly how this line of argument got started.

I'm interested in what you and Miss Fred have to say.

11/22/2005 2:32 AM  
Anonymous Chana said...

That doesn't justify you quoting Jewish Whistleblower about him, whom I (and others, based on th e comments) know to have been wrong about several people.

11/22/2005 7:50 AM  
Blogger Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

>Also, keep in mind that the "new testament" clearly mocked this form of justice with the "turn the other cheek" story. In this context, the mishna and the gemara were written hundreds of years later, when christianity was really taking hold, and of course the Rabbis had every motive to re-write the rules, which is exactly how this line of argument got started.

Well not exactly. The Mishna was put into writing circa 200. That's not centuries later, especially when you consider that scholars date the material of the Mishna earlier. The Mishna isn't the record of the minutes of the yeshivoth in the year 199-200. The Mishna was the final form of what had been in formation for at least two centuries, parts are earlier, parts are later.

At most you can say that the NT's critique of a literal eye for an eye was contemporaneous with the treatment by the Tannaim, which proves only that 1st century Judaism tended to interpret that non-literally. As far as I know, no one suggests that the humane interpretations of the rabbis were spurred on by Christianity.

11/22/2005 8:36 AM  
Blogger happywithhislot said...

BTA
first of all, the whole premise of your argument is looking at the morality of that period through the prism of todays morality.

Can you even call our society moral in any sense? Our societies laws and policies are not based on morals, but based on money.
(Please dont tell me you are looking at it through the eyes of humanism.;)

Now the life for a life is perfectly fine. I believe in death penalty. Is that immoral?

I think you also got the eidim zommimim thing wrong. It is not only money, there is malkus involved as well. And believe me, that is no fun.

You also mention people getting away scott free. Who said? There were jails, and there was makkos as well.

I also note that you start with a premise that the rabbis made this stuff up, and therefore it proves your arguments when you talk about christianity. BUt what if you dont start with that supposition?

furthermore, saying that eye for an eye is lex talonis, and that its clear to you, doesnt make it so. Its not clear to me. Does it make not so?

You also want to attribute your values to hashem. If you believe its not god like to be against acts of homosexuality, my god will never match your morals.

Also, the issue of carrying twigs on shabbos is not as simple as you make it. There is a system of warning and witnesses. Its not that the guy simply walks with some twigs. Its that there two witnesses who warned him, and informed him of the halachah.

I know it sounds like talibanism.
It sounds like it because the people of our world are corrupt. But what if you had a society where the intention is not to suppress but to uplift? You cant accept that possibility, so you see talibanism in everything.

Missip. addresses the when of christiantiy vs mishna. Im not expert enough to speak to it.

11/22/2005 12:40 PM  
Blogger happywithhislot said...

let me rephrase that last point.
Im no expert in anything! Im just pontificating.

11/22/2005 12:47 PM  
Blogger happywithhislot said...

BTA
I looked up the gemera in bava kama 84. It starts with r' shimon bar yochi saying how could eye for an eye work. the torahs says one justice for all.
How could that work if someone is blind and pokes someones eye out.

The reference to r' elizer is in fact in terms of incredulaty that you could understand he meant literally eye for an eye. The gemera explains it means to use the maziks eyes to determine value, not the injured.
Is this really different than our system of laws were the jury rewards damages based on compensation?

11/22/2005 2:51 PM  
Blogger BTA said...

"That doesn't justify you quoting Jewish Whistleblower about him,"


Chana I know you're talking about Menken, but what is "that"?

The jewish whistleblower account is supported by luke ford's site, which has several emails from Menken himself.

He clearly supported a criminal sexual abuser. Don't tell me now it's your turn.

11/22/2005 8:59 PM  
Blogger BTA said...

Happy- you aren't reading what I say too closely and you are posting rhetoric.

I may have been unclear, but let me say it as concisely as I can.

Eye for an eye-type law is prevalent throughout the torah. The eidim zomamim are a great example of meting out corporal punishment for corporal punishment. (lashes for lashes in your example).

You ask how it would work. I raised one point which was that it probably never came up, due to the limiting condition precedent (that for eye for an eye to be triggered, first two men must have been fighting and then one hit the other's wife and caused a miscarriage.

On the other hand, pehaps "eye for an eye" was a saying back then, given there are several examples in the Torah of this.

Also, you are correct, the gemara system is verrry similar to our civil tort system- an impressive fact.

11/22/2005 9:05 PM  
Blogger happywithhislot said...

bta
Rhetoric:
"Rhetoric can be described as a persuasive way in which one relates a theme or idea in an effort to convince. However, both the terms "rhetoric" and "sophistry" can be used today in a pejorative or dismissive sense, when someone wants to denigrate certain verbal reasoning as spurious."

Spurious:
"Not proceeding from the true or claimed source; not genuine; false."

When you say im posting rhetoric, do you mean the former or latter meaning?

If its the latter, its your website, so i shouldnt complain if you feel something doesnt meet your test of reasoning because you feel im being spurious. But i assure you im being genuine.

Anyway, our argument doesnt work, because i believe in oral law and you believe the torah was meant to be understood without it.

I hope youre ok with me still interjecting from time to time when you claim this or that is immoral or youre teitch seems off, etc.

I found the eye for eye thing enlightening, you ended up doing a mitzvah because i actually learned something today!

11/22/2005 9:52 PM  
Anonymous Confusadox said...

Yo Mr. BTA meister. Have you read the new book "Off the Derech"? I'm reading it and would like have a place to discuss it. Please blog on it to get the ball rolling. Thank you!

12/06/2005 2:45 PM  
Blogger BTA said...

Confusadox, I haven't, but Da'as Hedyot has a review.

I think the book's perspective is "how do we get these people back or prevent them from going OTD."

Thus, it didn't interest me. I think I know why. People are either underwhelmed by the claims of amazing revelation of Torah's truth, or they lack the ability to give up activities that are ossur. And so on.

I'd like to read it, but it's depressing stuff. We'll see. You could read it and do a guest post if you like. Or, just do a guest post! Why are you confused? What are your likes/dislikes? WHere do you see yourself going? Where are you holding right now?

12/06/2005 6:55 PM  
Anonymous SS said...

But he still hasn't posted my comment (which also appears on GH), and I noted there that he also took removed his statement that you need a kosher Torah to copy from when writing a new Torah.

12/08/2005 9:11 AM  
Blogger Jewish Survivors Of Sexual Violence said...

http://jewishsurvivors.blogspot.com/2006/11/call-to-action-awareness-center-is.html

CALL TO ACTION: The Awareness Center is asking that Rabbi Shumel Rabbi Shmuel Kaminetzky make a public statement regarding the confession of Rabbi Yaakov Menken.

The Awareness Center, Inc. - November 19, 2006

It is not often The Awareness Center puts out a warning regarding an individual who is also rabbi. Due to the seriousness of the allegations, the time has come for action to be taken regarding the case of Rabbi Yaakov Menken.

The Awareness Center has recently learned that Rabbi Menken has created two new organizations associated with "Project Genisis". He has began a Kiruv organization called 'e-Kiruv". He is also involved with an organization called Oz Nidberu. There are also rumors floating around that he may be involved in the development of a new counter-missionary organization.

We all have to be aware that it is not uncommon for Kiruv workers and counter-missionaries to be involved with individuals who are experiencing a personal crisis in their lives. These crisis's includes a death in the family, illness of a loved one, trying to sort out unresolved issues, and even individuals who have been traumatized (victim or witness to a violent crime, survivors of childhood abuse, survivors of sexual assault, etc.). Individuals who are experiencing a life crisis are often in a vulnerable state, and are more susceptible to being manipulated by sexual predator.

Over the last few years Rabbi Yaakov Menkin was accused of both sexual harassment and professional sexual misconduct. At one point Rabbi Menken had a discussion with Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetzky regarding the allegations made by one of the women he counseled. The conversation included a confession by Yaakov Menken of having sexual contact with the woman. Rabbi Menken basically blamed the survivor stating "she manipulated him." Rabbi Menken was nearly forty at the time. The young, haredi woman was hardly out of her teens.

Because of the serious and complicated allegations made, the word needs to get out that young, single adult women could be at risk of harm if they share information about their personal lives with Rabbi Yaakov Menkin, especially if the woman is experiencing any sort of life crisis.

Due to the sensitivity of the situation and for reasons of confidentiality we are limited in what we can share with you about the case. What we can share is on The Awareness Center's site on Rabbi Yaakov Menken.

If you need more information regarding Rabbi Menken's confession please contact Rabbi Shmuel Kaminetzky.

The Awareness Center, Inc. is also asking that everyone contact Rabbi Kaminetzki requesting that he make a public statement regarding the confession made by Rabbi Yaakov Menken. Contact information for Rabbi Kamenetzky is provided below.

Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people; neither shalt thou stand idly by the blood of thy neighbor" (Leviticus 19:16).

Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetzky
Talmudical Yeshiva of Philadelphia
6063 Drexel Road
Philadelphia, PA 19131
Telephone: (215) 473-1212 Fax: (215) 477-5065

If you or someone you know has had similar experiences, please contact your local rape crisis center and or The Awareness Center, Inc. 443-857-5560
*****************

Welcome to Oz Nidberu
http://oznidberu.com/index.php

Contact: domains@capalon.com

Domain name: EKIRUV.COM

Registrant Contact:
Project Genesis
Project Genesis (office@torah.org)
+1.4106021350
Fax:
122 Slade Avenue, Suite 250
Baltimore, MD 21208
US

Administrative Contact:
Project Genesis
Project Genesis (office@torah.org)
+1.4106021350
Fax:
122 Slade Avenue, Suite 250
Baltimore, MD 21208
US

Technical Contact:
Capalon.com
Hosting Services (hosting@capalon.com)
+1.4103589800
Fax:
122 Slade Avenue, Suite 250
Baltimore, MD 21208

11/20/2006 8:16 AM  

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