Friday, January 06, 2006

If It's Good Enough for King Solomon- The Wisest of All Men, It's Good Enough For You and I

Executive Summary:

King Solomon was called by himself and chazzal "the wisest of all men." King Solomon had very good yichus (pedigree), having been the favorite (and first born?) son of King David himself! You have to assume pretty good chinuch as well. Nevertheless, in tanach, I Kings 11, it is clear that King Shlomo engaged in idol worship. Not just subtle idol worship, mind you, but all-out idolatry with the imprimatur of the King himself. He offered sacrifices not just to one idol other than God, but he actually built ALTARS to the deities of several gods! Now, God knew about this, but didn't punish Solomon whatsoever. He allowed Solomon to reign for 40 years. He allowed Solomon's son to become the next king, albeit with a partial slap on the wrist punishment of diving the kingdom between the son and another king.


Commentary:
The point is- this extreme example poses myriad impossible to answer questions for fundamentalist Orthodox Jews and even the "rationalist" OJ's who claim halacha is binding and that God himself was fair in dispensing justice and executing his own laws.

The Source:

King Solomon worships other gods (and a goddess!)in
I Kings 11 and gets virtually no comeuppance.
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?book_id=11&chapter=11&version=9

Here are just a few of the problems raised by this (and this explains why 99% of orthodox Jews have no idea of the above, and why tanach is not taught to yeshiva students even after they've been there for 20 years!).

Here we go:

1. There is a principle that God holds high level Jews to a very high standard of observance. Thus, the story goes, that's why Moshe was kept out of Israel over a minor infraction;

2. King Solomon, King David's own son, would clearly know all of the alleged Oral Law and all halacha, as the Temple was standing in his lifetime and none of the purported transmission would have been lost;

3. There are at least a dozen admonitions under pain of death, by God himself throughout the Torah and Tanach not to engage in idol worship and not to make alters or "graven images" to deities other than Adonai/yaweh/Hashem/God/Elokim/El/Shaddai (yes that's one god). Yet, the King himself made sacrifices and actually constructed idol worshiping alters! While God shows some displeasure, he nevertheless metes out NO PUNISHMENT to Solomon! This, from the God who tells Moshe to kill a man for carrying sticks on Shabbos when even Moshe didn't know it was death to do so, and ostensibly, the guy carrying didn't as well if the godol hador didn't!);

4. This directly undercuts the Rabbis nowadays who engage in apologetics and always claim Jews from "those days" were on a much higher madrega (spiritual level) than we today;

5. This makes the entire mesechta Avoda Zara look ridiculous, since the Rabbis of the talmud claim even the slightest things can be "idolatry," e.g., bending over in front of an idol (even to tie a shoe!). And then we had the modern day brouhaha where Rav Elyashiv banned wigs that might contain hair used in an hindu religious service. You got to wonder what Rav Elyashiv would say about King Solomon!

6. The blatant idol worship and alternate deity worship of King Solomon makes it clear why in Koheles (the tanach reading for Succos) he claims "all is futility under the sun' and why he never talks about heaven or the afterlife. Then , the last line of Koheles (probably written in by someone else) says, oh, by the way the only thing that matters is doing God's mitzvohs). Riiiight. And the god of the hittites, jebusites, and on and on;

7. This essentially proves that Solomon had no oral law and did not learn it, or believe it. In the alternative, it means he simply didn't believe in God or fear him whatsoever;

8. It shows that all the nicey-nice teachings (in the talmud and the modern day Artscroll mush) about "chinuch" (educating youth) are farcical. After all, with King David for a father, and having the aptitude of being the wisest man of all, King Solomon was basically a philosopher who sacrificed to any old god and didn't believe all the nonsense we have nowadays thanks to the rabbis. After reading the quotes and thinking about it, do you really believe Solomon wore tzitit and tefillin and a yarmulke? Or that he ate kosher? How about not eating blood? Or not marrying gentiles? (He apparently married HUNDREDS of gentiles). Thus, our second greatest King, son of the Greatest King, and King of the First Temple, and the great grandfather supposedly of out future Moschiach, was an idol-worshiper.

What say all of you?

1 Kings 11
1But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites:

2Of the nations concerning which the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love.

3And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart.

4For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father.

5For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites.

6And Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and went not fully after the LORD, as did David his father.

7Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon.

8And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods.


9And the LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the LORD God of Israel, which had appeared unto him twice,

10And had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods: but he kept not that which the LORD commanded.

11Wherefore the LORD said unto Solomon, Forasmuch as this is done of thee, and thou hast not kept my covenant and my statutes, which I have commanded thee, I will surely rend the kingdom from thee, and will give it to thy servant.

12Notwithstanding in thy days I will not do it for David thy father's sake: but I will rend it out of the hand of thy son.

13Howbeit I will not rend away all the kingdom; but will give one tribe to thy son for David my servant's sake, and for Jerusalem's sake which I have chosen.

78 Comments:

Blogger Jak Black said...

BTA,

You're joking, right?

Your question is an excellent one. It simply makes no sense. That's why the sages explain that it was his wives that served the idols. The verses speak of him serving the idols because, in a certain sense, he was held responsible, as he had taken too many wives to control. (I personally have enough trouble with just one!)

Please tell me that you've heard this before, and that you're just trying to make a point.

1/07/2006 1:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just curious, did you go to Yeshiva? I can't tell from your articles, whether you just spent a few months, or several years there, just curious? YOu seem to suggest you spent years, before rejecting everything, but at the same time, some of your posts (the spelling, and lack of information) suggest you were in Yeshiva for only a few months. Thanks

1/07/2006 5:39 PM  
Blogger free-thinking lamden said...

Thanks for that.

Isn't it interesting how people like jakblack take (pretty poor) talmudic apologetics for granted? Wives indeed!!

1/07/2006 5:46 PM  
Blogger Mis-nagid said...

You should read this book. It's very uneven difficulty-wise, with popular chapters and scholarly chapters, but very much worth the effort. You'll never think of David and Solomon the same again, or your money back. ;-)

1/07/2006 6:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just curious FTL, is any answer that you don't agree with considered "apologetics"?

1/07/2006 8:01 PM  
Blogger Ben Avuyah said...

I won't answer for FTL, as I am sure he is quite capable.

Here is a starting definition of apologetics. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apologetics

In General a good guidline for knowing when you have begun using an apologetic; if there is no independant support for your answer/statement other than to justify your current system of faith, you are likely engaging in an apologetic argument.


I should also mention that I spent 4 years in yeshiva, and one in Beis Medrish, and despite the amount of time put in, traditional yeshivish orthodoxy just doesn't emphasize Nach, likely for the reasons BTA mentions. It takes alot of apologetics to make tanach work with the orthodox viewpoint.

1/07/2006 8:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the definition of apologetics. I think most of us are aware of what it means. I also think that most of us shouldn't be getting our defintions from wikipedia but that's another story.

So, your saying thatJackBlack's response is apolgetic because it was mentioned in the Talmud? Nice reasoning. Might as well shut down the whole discussion right here and now if any answer mentioned in the Talmud will simply be shooed away as apologetic.

1/07/2006 9:20 PM  
Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

I'll chime in here to say that Jak Black's comment was apologetic, because the argument of the sages is apologetic. What evidence do they have that "it was his wives that served the idols?" The verses clearly state it was him. They're just making stuff up to make Solomon look better. In other words, it's apologetic because "there is no independant support for [their] answer/statement other than to justify [their] current system of faith."

1/07/2006 9:31 PM  
Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

Imagine if a suspected terrorist's phone was tapped, and he was caught saying, "I bombed the embassy." Would you believe his lawyers if they claimed that what he really meant was that his wife bombed the embassy?

1/07/2006 9:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

JA,

Way to go comparing God's word to a terrorist. And you wonder why people can't even enter a debate with you.

1/07/2006 10:27 PM  
Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

I did no such thing.

1/07/2006 10:56 PM  
Blogger Jak Black said...

Apologetics?

You people are a riot. I mean, just look at the question. You're talking abut one of the greatest kings of Israel. He produced Mishlei, one of the greatest works of Jewish theology. Have any of you out there actually read it and seen how it is utterly brimming with love of God?

And frankly, why be merciful on Shlomo? Certainly, there were other kings who served idols and were condemned by the Sages.

The correctness of the answer of the sages can be seen in the strength of BTA's question. It simply makes no sense at all. If you're searching for apologetics, I can point a dozen subjects in Tanach, off the top of my head, that appear to be greater examples.

And anyone who knows a smidgen of history realizes that this is not the reason that Tanach was deemphasized in yeshivas. The haskala, or Enlightenment, emphasized the study of Tanach, and the yeshiva practice was a reaction of sorts.

1/08/2006 12:27 AM  
Blogger Jak Black said...

"Imagine if a suspected terrorist's phone was tapped, and he was caught saying, "I bombed the embassy." Would you believe his lawyers if they claimed that what he really meant was that his wife bombed the embassy?"

Yeah, but imagine if they caught your mother in a similar position. You simply *know* she isn't a terrorist. You've known her for 30 years, and understand her thoughts and desires. You know that she didn't do it. There must be a solution. Study Mishlei and Koheles and maybe you'll come to know just a bit about King Shlomo.

1/08/2006 1:57 AM  
Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

Regardless of your impression of Shlomo's character from Mishlei and Koheles (which, btw, Shlomo almost definitely did not write, but we're not going to get into THAT here) the fact remains that Melachim alef clearly and unambiguously states that Shlomo worshipped other gods. The fact that later sages were uncomfortable believing that doesn't change anything any more than Shir HaShirim 7:4 really refers to Moses and Aaron ("Thy two breasts are like two fawns that are twins of a gazelle.")

Read the texts yourself without the interpretation of the Rabbis sometime -- the truth is right in front of your face.

1/08/2006 3:00 AM  
Blogger Jak Black said...

I'd like you to address the second point I made. When the vast, overwhelming evidence leads us to believe one thing, and a tiny bit of information points in the opposite direction, what do we do? Throw out the main body of evidence in favor of a little factoid which suits our political agenda? Sorry, but that just doesn't wash for me.

Your problem - one you share with so many others nowadays - is that you're used to thinking on the surface. If you look into the breadth and depth of Tanach, not just a few verses in one place, you'll learn the truth. Unfortunately, it's not right in front of your face; you'll have to study for many years to find it. And I have news for you - the quest for every truth in this world is the same.

1/08/2006 3:27 AM  
Blogger free-thinking lamden said...

Oh! I hadn't realised I started a whole debate.

Jakblack said that people like me are 'thinking on the surface' because we don't take for granted talmudic interpretations of Tenach.

Well, well. Who is calling the kettle black now? Its you jak that is thinking on the surface. You are the superficial one.

I challenge you jak to take a tenach and read it from beginning to end without any 'Jewish orthodox' commentary. Do not cheat by taking a peak at the gemoras point of view each time you have a crisis of faith. You are allowed to think very, very, very, deeply while you do this reading, but you must try as hard as you can to determine what the actual text is saying. (You probably have been indocrinated for so long by a particular biased approach that it might be hard for you to do this.)

When you have finished (it should take you three to four months; maybe a little more) you might start to understand the real reason why they eschew tenach in yeshivas.

I predict that you will refuse to undertake this challenge. Please tell us why. I think your answer will be very revealing.

1/08/2006 5:32 AM  
Blogger Jak Black said...

-->Jakblack said that people like me are 'thinking on the surface' because we don't take for granted talmudic interpretations of Tenach.

No, I said that you're thinking on the surface because you don't take the overwhelming evidence of Solomon's devotion to G-d and instead focus on a few verses which seem out of step with that body of evidence. How do you expect to understand Tanach when you can't even understand a basic paragraph of a simpleton like me?

-->When you have finished...you might start to understand the real reason why they eschew tenach in yeshivas.

Tanach has only been eschewed for a relative short period of time in Jewish history (a period which matches the time since the Enlightenment.) If the problems that you suggest exist, then it shouldn't have been studied ever. Ergo, my suggestion is more logical than yours. But you'll never concede the point.

-->I predict that you will refuse to undertake this challenge.Please tell us why. I think your answer will be very revealing.

You predict wrong, but that should come as no surprise to anybody. I accept your challenge. I may post some thoughts as I go on my blog, or I may not if I don't find the time. But don't hold your breath for "crises of faith;" greater men than you have claimed that their arguments would bring me to my knees, and they all failed miserably.

And note that I'm not doing this for you - I have better things to do with my time than debate illogical heretics. I do it for myself, as I've been meaning to brush up on my Tanach.

What say you now?

1/08/2006 6:15 AM  
Blogger BTA said...

"Please tell me that you've heard this [too many wives] before, and that you're just trying to make a point."

It's in the posuk itself, not just the Talmud!

"3And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart.

4For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods"


I actually debated whether to address that or not, but now I will. I have a more radical theory.

I think the authors of the book of Kings wrote it (three times in a row) as apologetics for an embarassing historical fact about Solomon that needed explaining away. To the audience of those days, many would have already have known of Solomon's alters. This needed a religious explanation. And what better explanation than one that 1) fits the facts of Solomon's life [he did have many wives]and 2) fulfills a Torah prohibition [Parsha Shoftim, Perek 17- a king should not take
for himself too many wives and he should not own too many horses- if horses had gods, I take it they'd be mentioned in Kings as well!]

1/08/2006 6:17 AM  
Blogger BTA said...

Anonymous said: "Just curious, did you go to Yeshiva?"

Yes, but even a couple of years in a BT yeshiva is not in depth learning- I openly acknowledge that. But while you may be correct about my deficient yeshivish spelling, lack of "information" doesn't apply to this specific idea. I select ideas where I know the apologetics and simply don't accept them. I then push harder, beause when you really think about them, they should really bother you. The typical yeshiva apologetics teach you to say "good kasha, but let's go viter..." Why, because the whole thing falls apart when you "ask too many questions."

1/08/2006 6:21 AM  
Blogger BTA said...

Also, when everyone returns to this tomorrow, as I hope they will, let's just make it clear about the apologetics issue.

I used the word in the post, but it is a loaded term. True that term has a definition, but anonymous, either being deliberately obtuse or just not knowing that apologetics is not by definition pejorative, claimed the word to be an insult to chazal and Jak Blak. It's not an insult.

Let's use a different approach. The talmud has it's approach to the unfettered other god and idol worship (note the distinction) of our second greatest King- Solomon. (Btw, a cite to the gemara would be nice). But their approach cannot be said to come from a direct oral tradition. Yes, they may have an exegetical tool,etc, but let's say the book of Kings was not a Sinaitic tradition.

Later rabbis had their take as well. However, unless we are forced into a purely dogmatic approach (another loaded but effective term) we should be able to read the text anew.

I read the text and came up with several pointed questions. The questions were worded in a controversial manner to some, I'm sure. But they are *the* questions that pop into one's mind if one doesn't simply close the book after hearing the answer "it was his wives' fault."

It's been said there are two kinds of answers, those that make you ask more questions and those that end the inquiry. The "wives" answer merely begs yet more questions.

For example: If a king is misled by 1,000 wives, why did he worship so many different gods, goddesses and idols? At least 300 of his wives were mere concubines according to tanach, btw.

And, did Solomon go through the kiddushin process with all of these lucky ladies? Did he court them? Have a ketuba? Did he have a Rebbe?

It makes the halacha seems absurd, doesn't it, Jak? Does the "wives" answer really end the inquiry?

Parting question:
Why didn't God give him some minor hints if it was so bad in God's eyes, like giving a few hundred wives unfortunate accidents until Solomon got the message?

1/08/2006 7:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

BTA--
You bring up some interesting questions. I was reading your old posts, you mention you went to Machon Shlomo, did you go to any other Yeshivas? I have spent time in many Yeshivas, and each of them were a little different, so BT Yeshivas, some not.

1/08/2006 8:38 AM  
Blogger Mis-nagid said...

"Study Mishlei and Koheles and maybe you'll come to know just a bit about King Shlomo."

I stopped reading after that. Too funny!

1/08/2006 1:27 PM  
Blogger BTA said...

Anon- I choose to remain anonymous, so that's all the bio you'll be getting. I take it you went to McClone Shlomo as well? You can email me about it if you like, but it's off topic.

1/08/2006 2:33 PM  
Blogger BTA said...

"Study Mishlei and Koheles and maybe you'll come to know just a bit about King Shlomo."

"I stopped reading after that. Too funny!"

Jak- I referenced that the concluding lines of Koheles at a minimum seem to be authored by someone other than King Shlomo- what are your thoughts about that?

1/08/2006 2:35 PM  
Blogger Ben Avuyah said...

>>>Anonymous said...
Thanks for the definition of apologetics. I think most of us are aware of what it means.

You do not appear to be aware.


>>>I also think that most of us shouldn't be getting our defintions from wikipedia but that's another story.

Start somewhere, you can get picky after you have the basics down.

>>So, your saying thatJackBlack's response is apolgetic because it was mentioned in the Talmud? Nice reasoning.


Err...No. I didn't say that, you said that, I said:
"if there is no independant support for your answer/statement other than to justify your current system of faith, you are likely engaging in an apologetic argument."




>>>Might as well shut down the whole discussion right here and now if any answer mentioned in the Talmud will simply be shooed away as apologetic.

But no one said that except for you?

1/08/2006 2:37 PM  
Blogger Jak Black said...

-->I stopped reading after that. Too funny!

The sages were of the opinion that they were written by King Shlomo. I'm sated to be laughed at in the company of giants. If you've read and been convinced by the arguments of so-called Bible critics, then you're the laughable one.

1/08/2006 3:26 PM  
Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

Jak Black:

The sages were smart and learned men, but they didn't have access to the same information and methods of scholarship that more recent scholars did. Believing in the arguments of Bible critics may be something you disagree with, but to consider it laughable shows that you have no understanding of their arguments.

1/08/2006 5:44 PM  
Blogger Jak Black said...

JA,

Have you actually ever read any Bible criticism? They make the most ridiculous, tenuous arguments based on word associations and other trivialities. "Ye'esaf el amav" becomes a burial practice where the ashes of the dead are "gathered" in little boxes (possibly a minor karite practice, but certainly no "proof" of the widespread practice.) Etc, etc, etc. So what is it? Archaelogical evidence? The way some archaeological evidence is interpreted is so laughable as to hardly deserve mention.

Have you ever learned even the Malbim or Abarbanel on Tanach? Their breadth and depth of knowledge of Hebrew and Tanach certainly surpass these so-called scholars, to say nothing of Chazal themselves. You're simply a neoterist - one who believes that everything new is necessarily better than the old. If anything, Chazal, being *2000* years closer to the events, have a vast advantage over modern scholars.

1/09/2006 12:39 AM  
Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

Have you actually ever read any Bible criticism? They make the most ridiculous, tenuous arguments based on word associations and other trivialities.

That's tenuous, but interpreting:

5For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites.

6And Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and went not fully after the LORD, as did David his father.

7Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon.

As "his wives did it" is not tenuous?? Talk about being biased.

1/09/2006 12:52 AM  
Blogger Jak Black said...

It's like talking to a brick.

I'll quote myself from above:
"No, I said that you're thinking on the surface because you don't take the overwhelming evidence of Solomon's devotion to G-d and instead focus on a few verses which seem out of step with that body of evidence."

I AGREE that, on the surface, these few pesukim indicate that he served idols. But if I were to list every verse that indicates the personality of a man who would never have served idols, the list would stretch for miles. It is not irrationality or bias to accept the vast preponderance of evidence over a minor counterindication.
Even your Bible-critics would agree.

And heck, if I were a Bible critic, I'd probably say that these few verses were clearly snuck into the canon by a political enemy of King Solomon. But I'll take Chazal's version, if you please.

It never ceases to amaze me how some people have rational skepticism about everything Chazal said, but none whatsoever when it comes to certain fields, which are swallowed wholesale.

1/09/2006 1:09 AM  
Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

I have a healthy skepticism about almost everything, thank you. I don't assume the DH to be 100% true. How could it be? They're only piecing together pieces of data when the truth has long vanished into obscurity.

However, even assuming Shlomo wrote Koheles, which he didn't, it's pretty disingenuous to say that the verses "seem out of step." They don't allow for ambiguity. They are clear. Shlomo worshipped other gods. I understand that you don't want to believe it, considering what you believe you know about him otherwise, but there have been many, many people throughout history who have been great people except in one area.

There's a concept in the Gemorah of which I'm sure you're aware: ein apotropos l'arayot, which essentially means, "nobody is so great that it's guaranteed he won't stray with regard to things like sex." It's clear from the verses that Shlomo at least strayed from God's will by having hundreds of wives, so should be a relatively easy thing to believe that he strayed to other gods as well. Many great, noble men have had different theological beliefs than you. He was probably one of them.

1/09/2006 1:55 AM  
Blogger Jak Black said...

If you ever choose to address the single point I've been making, I'll reply.

But I can't help but comment on this one:

"There's a concept in the Gemorah of which I'm sure you're aware: ein apotropos l'arayot, which essentially means, "nobody is so great that it's guaranteed he won't stray with regard to things like sex." "

You mistranslated the gemara, which doesn't surprise me a bit. It does not mean "with regard to things *like* sex" but rather "with regards to sex." Your little addition allows men to stray in every area, which was never the intent of Chazal. Men tend toward sexual decadence, and therefore must constantly be on guard in sexual matters. Platonic relationships and all that.

Men do not simply "stray" for idol worship as they do with women.

And this one:

"It's clear from the verses that Shlomo at least strayed from God's will by having hundreds of wives, so should be a relatively easy thing to believe that he strayed to other gods as well."

Actually, you prove my point. The sages take Shlomo to task for this. Why not just claim it wasn't true? That 1000 wives is really a numerical hint for something, not meant to be taken literally? This clearly indicates that Chazal were not looking at Shlomo through rose-tinted lenses. Shlomo wasn't perfect, but idol worship was not one of his sins.

And finally:

"Many great, noble men have had different theological beliefs than you. He was probably one of them."

I wonder who he would have been more comforable with - you or me? At any rate, I certainly admire many great, noble men who were not Orthodox Jews, men who had extremely different theological beliefs than I (such as the founding fathers of the United States.) In fact, I respect a great many men of conviction. But I do not respect your brand of limp, heretical nonsense.

1/09/2006 2:22 AM  
Blogger BTA said...

"Shlomo wasn't perfect, but idol worship was not one of his sins."

So, your position is not to believe the plain meaning of the verse, but to go with chazzal?

Jak- I seem to recall you saying you don't hold chazzal to have been perfect on every point, correct? Maybe only in science.

But if they could be incorrect in interpretation (since they obviously weren't historians) I think this might be a good time to hold they were incorrect. It is so obvious that the perek is all about Shlomo's idol worship and building alters, etc.!

If you hold that chazal are never incorrect, why comment at all? Just quote them and rest your case, which is essentially what you doing here. You won't persuade anyone, but you'll be consistent.

1/09/2006 3:01 AM  
Blogger Jak Black said...

BTA,

You seem more rational than JA; would you please address my point about the preponderance of evidence rather?

For what it's worth, I never intend to persuade the commentators here, many of whom (as an anon in the next comment section pointed out) are obviously motivated by emotions borne of hatred and pain rather than logic. I speak to the silent masses that read this argument and see clearly the superior logic of my position.

1/09/2006 3:12 AM  
Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

Jak:

You're right about my mis-paraphrase of arayos. I did indeed let the point I was making slip into the translation itself. I admit my mistake. The point that I'm trying to make is that if even the greatest of men may stray for sexual matters, how is it so hard to believe that a great man (who has already strayed for sexual matters!) may also stray to other gods? Particularly when there are many other great men throughout history who do worship other gods? The point I'm making is that "the preponderance of evidence" (if it existed) isn't necessarily relevant.

As for whom Shlomo would have been more comfortable with between us, who knows? He was a wise man who had many dealings with non-Jews. Perhaps he would have prefered a thoughtful Jewish atheist to an Orthodox Jew who accepts uncritically whatever the rabbis say.

1/09/2006 3:28 AM  
Blogger Jak Black said...

"to an Orthodox Jew who accepts uncritically whatever the rabbis say."

That is patently false. But if you hold Shlomo's alleged idol-worship as your best example of BTA's points, you're in big trouble. If you and BTA would hit the books for a few years, you'd probably find a ton of better example to pick on. But that would also mean that you'd find pounds and pounds of fantastic, penetrating wisdom.

The problem with people who have no faith in Chazal and the gedolim is precisely that they've had little or no contact with either.

1/09/2006 3:46 AM  
Blogger BTA said...

"would you please address my point about the preponderance of evidence rather?"

Jak- you talk about "evidence," presented by the many psukim other than the ones cited inmy original post. However, the psukim in my original post can easily be harmonized with the many quotes of King Shlomo with the following reference:

"4 For it came to pass, WHEN SOLOMON WAS OLD, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods..."

This is telling us he became an idol worshiper in his old age, and this could easily have come after many years of idol-free observance.

That completely addresses your point.

Nevertheless, I find it highly ironic that you refuse to believe the plain meaning of the text. It astounds me that a simple, straightforward reading is not "evidence" to you, since chazzal gave an alternative explanation.

You are really straining to adhere to an untenable position. As I asked you above- are chazal 100% correct? If not, why not assume they got it wrong here, since there could not have been a sinaitic tradition of what Solomon would do in the future (post-Sinai)?

1/09/2006 4:48 AM  
Blogger Jak Black said...

That completely addresses your point...

...but in an illogical manner. Look, we're going in circles here. If you choose to believe that a person who devoted his entire life to service of God, who fought wars on His behalf and built the Beis Hamikdash, the wisest man ever, was suddenly convinced by a few wives to throw it all away for a block of wood, go right ahead. But please do not call that logical. It is much more logical to say that those few verses are not meant to be taken literally.

This has nothing whatsoever to do with the fallibility of the sages or lack thereof. I'm not falling back on their position and declaring, "But the sages said it!" I'm saying that the position of the sages makes the most sense.

1/09/2006 4:58 AM  
Blogger BTA said...

"obviously motivated by emotions borne of hatred and pain rather than logic."

Actually, you must agree that the plain meaning approach is purely logical. The "13 exegetical techniques" claimed to be oral traditions from Sinai are totally self-serving and are mostly consistent of fallacies.

It's a cheap way out of the debate to make myself or others sound damaged or delusional.

Especially when it's quite clear that this post poses a very stark problem for the OJ tradition, and you essentially acknowledged that from your first comment.

I'd say that OJ dogmatists are more emotionally bound to their conclusions where chazal are demonstrably spinning history and upending plain meanings, rendering Tanach text meaningless.

After all, if I conclude you are correct, not much changes in my life, if you conclude I am correct, a big piece of your puzzle falls apart. In essence, you would be admitting that chazal were heretics! (Wouldn't it be heresy to totally distort the word of God for all future generations?)

To put a fine point on it, your entire being and life history are bound up in upholding OJ dogmas and the precedence of chazal. There is no proof in the world that will cause you enough cognitive dissonance to admit the many problems with OJ dogmas and thus be forced to reevaluate your status as a rabbi in a chareidi Israeli community.

And to be clear, my aim is not to get you to "quit" your lifestyle and more than you feel the need to convince me. I do think in honesty you must admit you have far more at stake in this debate, however.

1/09/2006 5:01 AM  
Blogger free-thinking lamden said...

>The problem with people who have no faith in Chazal and the gedolim is precisely that they've had little or no contact with either.

Nonsense.

I personally spent 10 years in yeshivah & kollel. Before that I was in very ultra orthodox schools.I still am deeply enmeshed in that society. I have had enormous exposure to gedolim and the views of chazal. I would have loved to have continued my faith in chazal. But no.

One must approach chazal with the same open mind as one would approach any other ancient literature (Greek Philosophers, The New Testemant etc etc). If one dogmatically refuses to do that ('heretical' you call it)one ceratinly does not have a right to critise those that have the honesty to do so.

1/09/2006 5:11 AM  
Blogger BTA said...

"If you and BTA would hit the books for a few years, you'd probably find a ton of better example to pick on."

You're right! I was merely flipping through tanach last Shabbos during the Torah reading when I happened upon this gem.

I can't tell you how many times I'll just open up to a page and can't believe what I'm reading since it's so antithetical to the various "bedrock principles" rabbinic judaism.

I asked a serious talmud chacham what chazal's take on this was, since I figured they couldn't just leave this alone. I was unconvinced.

I also was flipping through the pages when I happened upon Nehamiah and Ezra's "finding" the Torah scroll and reading it to Jews who never heard of Succos prior.

Or in Judges where the Binyaminite men grab non-jewish women and rape the virgins (they kill the non-virgins along with the men) and "marry" them on the battlefield in contradiction of all the niceties of kiddushin, or the hilchos "woman of beautiful form."

Just a quick look on the net and I found the Skeptics Annotated bible- which is apparently built on the premise that there is so much unbelievably brutal and coarse material throughout tanach as to make it prima facie not divinely authored.

Here's the passage from judges, for example.
http://www.skepticsannotatedbible.com/jg/21.html

1/09/2006 5:19 AM  
Blogger free-thinking lamden said...

bta,

Thanks for that last comment and url. I think you should make it into a stand-alone-post.

1/09/2006 5:27 AM  
Blogger Jak Black said...

"There is no proof in the world that will cause you enough cognitive dissonance to admit the many problems with OJ dogmas and thus be forced to reevaluate your status as a rabbi in a chareidi Israeli community."

Yes, this is probably true. The mythical objective viewpoint almost certainly does not exist in human beings. Nevertheless, I stand by my statement that my position is logical, much as you do the same, despite your bias, heh.

1/09/2006 6:53 AM  
Blogger free-thinking lamden said...

jakblack,

Question for you.

What would you say if Rabbi Chaim Kanievskys wife became a Roman Catholic and put up an image of Mary on their front door?

1/09/2006 7:26 AM  
Blogger chardal said...

Are you people normal???

The psukim themselves say that he only built the alters for his wives!

אָז יִבְנֶה שְׁלֹמֹה בָּמָה, לִכְמוֹשׁ שִׁקֻּץ מוֹאָב, בָּהָר, אֲשֶׁר עַל-פְּנֵי יְרוּשָׁלִָם; וּלְמֹלֶךְ, שִׁקֻּץ בְּנֵי עַמּוֹן. וְכֵן עָשָׂה, לְכָל-נָשָׁיו הַנָּכְרִיּוֹת, מַקְטִירוֹת וּמְזַבְּחוֹת, לֵאלֹהֵיהֶן.

He built the alters for his wives. The whole context of the chapters is about how the wives led him astray. Further, the chapter itself concedes he sinned and Hashem punishes him.

I just don't see what the problem is. Is your problem that you don't like the way Shlomo is charachterised in the Yeshiva world? So what? This is supposed to be proof that Shlomo didn't have Torah? If this is true, why does G-d punish him?

1/09/2006 11:02 AM  
Blogger chardal said...

Oh,

and you missed the whole point of the chapter which is obviously meant to uphold the warning of the Torah that too many wives will lead one astray. Shlomo, who is considered so wise, felt that he could not be led astray and the chapter is out to demonstrate how even the wisest of men are susceptible to fall.

I would even venture to say that the whole chapter can ONLY be understood in the context of the Torah's warning.

1/09/2006 11:06 AM  
Blogger BTA said...

Chardal wrote:
"and you missed the whole point of the chapter which is obviously meant to uphold the warning of the Torah that too many wives will lead one astray. "

"I would even venture to say that the whole chapter can ONLY be understood in the context of the Torah's warning."

Funny, it almost seems like you think the chapter was a myth written to get across a specific message...

1/09/2006 12:20 PM  
Blogger BTA said...

"I just don't see what the problem is. Is your problem that you don't like the way Shlomo is charachterised in the Yeshiva world?"

Nope. Just read the post. The fact that the second greatest godol of all Jews was a big idol worshiper is quite a problem for the normative OJ halachic explanation of how God purportedly runs things. I enumerate all the problems this poses in the post.

"This is supposed to be proof that Shlomo didn't have Torah?"

No! This is proof that "the Torah" back then was way different than "the Torah" now, since the rabbi's took charge and wrote religious doctrine and dogma out of whole cloth, all claiming it to be divinely transmitted.

"If this is true, why does G-d punish him?"

You call that punishment? All god does is limit his son's reign somewhat. God certainly doesn't mete out the justice that is set out dozens of times in the torah, especially the 10 commandments! Death penalty is the only punishment. And did you notice that there was a pretty good eid to the idolatry- God himself who is said to "warn" Solomon?

So you see no problem that god personally warns King Solomon, the king publicly builds alters to his gentile wives' various dieties, brings sacrifices to them (even "for his wives," if you insist, and gets a slap on the wrist after the torah states he's chaiv misa and god personally warns him?! You've GOT to be kidding!

1/09/2006 12:29 PM  
Blogger chardal said...

Nope. Just read the post. The fact that the second greatest godol of all Jews was a big idol worshiper is quite a problem for the normative OJ halachic explanation of how God purportedly runs things. I enumerate all the problems this poses in the post.

Shlomo's whole chochma is characterized by chazal much more as worldly chochma than as Torah chochma. He is definitely NOT considered the "second greatest godol" in Jewish history.

No! This is proof that "the Torah" back then was way different than "the Torah" now, since the rabbi's took charge and wrote religious doctrine and dogma out of whole cloth, all claiming it to be divinely transmitted.

What are you talking about? Shlomo built avoda zara for his wives and this contradicts what in masechet avodah zara??? You are jumping to conclusions you already had based on a very weak reading of the psukim. They say explicitly that he did this for his wives. Its not apologetics to read the text.

You call that punishment? All god does is limit his son's reign somewhat.

So you are not happy with God's sentence? Why just here? There are many places where we just don't understand Hashem's judgment. See Job.

God certainly doesn't mete out the justice that is set out dozens of times in the torah, especially the 10 commandments! Death penalty is the only punishment. And did you notice that there was a pretty good eid to the idolatry- God himself who is said to "warn" Solomon?

Hello??? can we separate the punishment of beis din from heavenly punishment? They are 2 different issues. And building AZ is assur but the penalty is not death even in beis din.

So you see no problem that god personally warns King Solomon, the king publicly builds alters to his gentile wives' various deities, brings sacrifices to them (even "for his wives," if you insist, and gets a slap on the wrist after the torah states he's chaiv misa and god personally warns him?! You've GOT to be kidding!

Not kidding. I think (as chazal say) that Shlomo sinned in this passage. I also think that there is nothing in the passage that contradicts Torah law as brought down in the Gemara. It might be a problem for some to acknowledge that not every giant of the past was infallible but that is just not a problem for me. Shlomo sinned here. David sinned with Bat Sheva (either with the less serious midrash version or the more pshat oriented abarbanel explanation). This does not detract from their gadlus or from my understanding of the Torah. I also concede that I have no conception of the psychology that people had 3000 years ago vis-à-vis avodah zara. Apparently it was a very big challenge for people in ancient society so its hard to judge the severity of the sin. (judging severity of sin is usually not a good idea anyway and usually stems from gaava)

1/09/2006 1:02 PM  
Blogger chardal said...

Funny, it almost seems like you think the chapter was a myth written to get across a specific message...

Not exactly. I think that the main purpose of Nach is NOT history, but the moral message. It takes stories and uses them to teach moral lessons. In some cases, chazal see whole books as just allegory (like Job). Other times, whole passages are considered dreams (beginning of Hoshea). The main purpose of the text is to uphold the moral message of Torah. When you read it that way, you see that this whole passage can only be to show the importance of following the Law.

1/09/2006 1:10 PM  
Blogger chardal said...

this is NOT to say that there is no historical truth in Nach, just that the main purpose of the text is NOT history.

1/09/2006 1:11 PM  
Blogger Jak Black said...

What would you say if Rabbi Chaim Kanievskys wife became a Roman Catholic and put up an image of Mary on their front door?

I dunno. What would you do if you were driving on the highway, and your car fell over the edge of the world? I just never seem to get the chance to ponder the important questions of our day.

...so your point is...?

1/09/2006 3:22 PM  
Blogger BTA said...

"...so your point is...?"

C'mon Jak- you know full well what he was saying. But to put a fine point on it what if you saw Rav Elyashev and 5 other gedolim started building sacrificial alters to Molech did voodoo dances through measharim? That wouldn't disturb you?

If not, then you really are cool as a cucumber!

1/09/2006 4:58 PM  
Blogger BTA said...

"Shlomo's whole chochma is characterized by chazal much more as worldly chochma than as Torah chochma."

It's funny that you should say that, since Shlomo didn't really seem to believe in the afterlife, based on againt a plain reading of Koheles. Exactly where is the "wisest" of all men supposed to be wise?

"In some cases, chazal see whole books as just allegory (like Job)."

Exactly! Or else I would use Job, which truly demonstrates an irrational God who makes a bet with satan and unfairly torures a tzadik.

Here, chazal made no such apologetic explanation, at least they didn't say the whole thing's a moshol. Yet, the plain meaning is he was led astray by his wives and he did the idolatry. What you are saying is simply untrue. They are minimizing his actions.

The bottom line here, is that no one needs to worry about any consequence of violating halacha. Even if they believe in god.

Because, God didn't punish Shlomo really at all, and he clearly states his entire punishment. I guess I should have mentioning this in the intitial post, but therre is NO REFERENCE TO PUNISHMENT IN THE AFTERLIFE either! It's not even something God mentions to Solomon. Just another reason to doubt chazal's made up story about heaven and divine punishment. God metes out a very simple piece of justice and a very tepid one at that.

1/09/2006 5:30 PM  
Blogger BTA said...

Jak said:

"And anyone who knows a smidgen of history realizes that this is not the reason that Tanach was deemphasized in yeshivas. The haskala, or Enlightenment, emphasized the study of Tanach, and the yeshiva practice was a reaction of sorts."

This sounds like a contradiction. The haskala were pointing out contradictions between orthodox practice and actual praxis in the times of tanach. You're saying the yeshiva world omitted tanach study as a reaction to this. Thus yeshivas tried to avoid the contradictions between tanach and halacha.

What other historical information do you have about this?

It's clear that chazzal had tanach pretty much memorized along with the torah. So, it is noteworthy that yeshivas avoid it alltogether nowadays while emphasizing dikduk and endless commentaries on shas.

1/09/2006 5:42 PM  
Anonymous Holy Hyrax said...

Nowhere does it specifically say that he worshipped them. BUT, it does say he "went after" the Gods, and I believe in the whole Tanach, those words are always referring to actual worship (whether it be a single individual or the nation at large), and its always summed up by it saying that, such and such did "evil in the sight of the lord." Gotta check it out though.

1/09/2006 6:10 PM  
Blogger chardal said...

Here, chazal made no such apologetic explanation, at least they didn't say the whole thing's a moshol. Yet, the plain meaning is he was led astray by his wives and he did the idolatry. What you are saying is simply untrue. They are minimizing his actions.

Not here, it says explicitly that he did it for his wives in the psukim.

NO REFERENCE TO PUNISHMENT IN THE AFTERLIFE

Did you notice that the afterlife is missing from Nach altogether? Its absence here is not indicative of anything. You are basically darshening the psukim to make Shlomo seem worse than the psukim make him out.

1/09/2006 6:37 PM  
Blogger BTA said...

Hyrax:
"Nowhere does it specifically say that he worshipped them."

Sorry, but building an alter in Jerusalem to a god is idol worship. What, was he a general contractor?!

And what else does "went after" mean if not worship? Does it mean he followed the gods and goddesses into a restaurant or something? Saying "after you, ladies..." In any event, he sure didn't reject them and didn't destroy the places.

Ridiculous contortions of logic I'm getting here.

Chardal:

"Did you notice that the afterlife is missing from Nach altogether?"

Yes, did you? What do you make of that? yes.

"it says explicitly that he did it for his wives in the psukim."

No it doesn't. He did it, do you seriously believe a guy with 1,000 wives was so whipped that he lost his free will? If so, why would god be angry with a person who had no free will?

It's getting more and more ridiculous.

1/09/2006 6:51 PM  
Anonymous Holy Hyrax said...

Uhhhh, BTA, did you read the rest of my comment? I think I was agreeing with you.

1/09/2006 7:04 PM  
Anonymous Holy Hyrax said...

and thankyou for not making fun of some of my spelling oooopsies :)

1/09/2006 7:05 PM  
Blogger chardal said...

I'll cut and paste it again:

אָז יִבְנֶה שְׁלֹמֹה בָּמָה, לִכְמוֹשׁ שִׁקֻּץ מוֹאָב, בָּהָר, אֲשֶׁר עַל-פְּנֵי יְרוּשָׁלִָם; וּלְמֹלֶךְ, שִׁקֻּץ בְּנֵי עַמּוֹן. וְכֵן עָשָׂה, לְכָל-נָשָׁיו הַנָּכְרִיּוֹת, מַקְטִירוֹת וּמְזַבְּחוֹת, לֵאלֹהֵיהֶן

He BUILT places to worship AZ for his WIVES.

I am not even denying the possibility that he sinned and worshiped AZ, I just think that the psukim don't say it.

Even if he did, this says NOTHING about whether he was or was not aware of the halachos of Avodah Zara. Its absurd to say he was not aware of the Torah's law when the whole chapter is talking about how he sinned when he took too many wives which in itself is a Torah law.

You and I have no idea what kind of cultural pull AZ was during that time. It was a tremendous yetzer hara and your psychological analysis of Shlomo are pretty useless without understanding the context properly.

1/09/2006 8:16 PM  
Anonymous Holy Hyrax said...

Chardal

You are not quoting the whole thing. It also clearly says he went after them, not just built alters.

Also, if we keep on bringing issues of how we cant psycho analysis them, than whats the point of Torah law. Is the capital punishment for AZ only applicible to our times, when it has no hold on us. How did the beit din rule. "Well, I guess we live in a time when AZ is pretty difficult to withstand, we can go leniant on him, despite what the Torah said. We can't say they were not warned, because the Israelites have been warned over and over again regarding AZ. Whats the point to say its assur, when we are throwing out the law just cause of the cultural pull. It makes no sence. Its like saying the guy that picked up sticks in the desert should not have been stoned to death because the generation of the desert and an incredible pull to gather things, force of habit, from their days as slaves.

1/09/2006 8:49 PM  
Blogger chardal said...

HH,

The laws regarding executing someone for AZ are every bit as eternal and as strict as killing anyone for any other sin in the Torah. Nearly impossible.

Judging psychology is up to Hashem, not beis din. BTA is saying that since Hashem did not give Shlomo the punishment that beis din is supposed to give under certain circumstances, therefore the Halacha must not have existed at that time. The fallacy of that argument should be obvious.

As far as the words in the previous psukim where Shlomo is says the have "went after" avoda Zara. That term is usually reserved for kings who either allow or encourage AZ during their reign. That is why the psukim often say that one king "went after" AZ more so than a different king. If "going after" was simply the action of worship, then there is not much room for words like more or less, but rather yes and no. If we understand "going after" as meaning either the encouragement or tolerance of AZ then the whole chapter begins to make a lot of sense.

This chapter is no more indicative of the non-existence of the Laws of AZ during Shlomo's time than the story of David and Bat-Sheva is indicative of the non-existence of the laws of Arayot during David's time. In fact the whole story parallel’s the parsha of Yehuda and Tamar in Bereishis and should be understood as communicating with the text in Genesis.

1/09/2006 9:12 PM  
Blogger chardal said...

In the begining of the chapter Kings I 11:1-2 where it says:

וְהַמֶּלֶךְ שְׁלֹמֹה, אָהַב נָשִׁים נָכְרִיּוֹת רַבּוֹת--וְאֶת-בַּת-פַּרְעֹה: מוֹאֲבִיּוֹת עַמֳּנִיּוֹת אֲדֹמִיֹּת, צֵדְנִיֹּת חִתִּיֹּת. ב מִן-הַגּוֹיִם, אֲשֶׁר אָמַר-יְהוָה אֶל-בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל לֹא-תָבֹאוּ בָהֶם וְהֵם לֹא-יָבֹאוּ בָכֶם, אָכֵן יַטּוּ אֶת-לְבַבְכֶם, אַחֲרֵי אֱלֹהֵיהֶם--בָּהֶם דָּבַק שְׁלֹמֹה, לְאַהֲבָה

Where do you think the book of Kings gets this command from? The Torah!!!! This is the Law from Devarim. It’s absurd to say otherwise.

Also as for the phrase "going after," see the following places where it explicitly means causing others to sin:

Kings I 15:26
Kings I 15:34
Kings I 16:26
Kings I 22:53
Kings II 13:2

In three other places the word is used when the king actually worshiped AZ but every time it's coupled with an extra verb so that we know that the king actively worshiped AZ:

Kings I 16:31 (Ahav worships and the word VaYaavod is used, why not in the other places?)
Kings II 16:3 (Achaz worships molech and it says so explicitly using the word HeEvir)
Kings II 21:21 (Amon worships AZ, once again the word VaYaavod is used)

In other words, the MOST LIKELY explanation is that of Chazal. That Shlomo was guilty of tolerating and facilitating the AZ of his wives. This was a sin and he was punished for it. The whole post contributes nothing to the real understanding of the text, it only obscures proper methodical reading of it.

1/09/2006 11:41 PM  
Blogger BTA said...

Chardal- your form over substance hair-splitting reading is only possible from one who imitates chazzal.

Use your common sense for just a moment. Why would a King build alters "for his wives" and not for his own use? Is he big on shalom bayis? Is he their servant? Of course not! His wives led him astray and he worshiped their gods. After all, if they already were idol worshipers, they didn't need him to serve their own gods, silly! They would just go do their avodah.

This is so patently obvious and chazzal are so plainly misleading you here.

"BTA is saying that since Hashem did not give Shlomo the punishment that beis din is supposed to give under certain circumstances, therefore the Halacha must not have existed at that time."

No, that's a total distortion. The post and my comments speak for themselves.

However, one point you left out is that God is said to have warned Solomon twice not to worship idols in the perek and Solomon continues anyway. Is god warning him not to build alters anymore? That's ridiculous.

Also, my other point is in the perek re: Onan, God kills Onan for spilling his "seed" after having been commanded to reproduce with their dead brother's wife.

Somehow this is far worse than what Solomon did. Rather, it's clear that this God is totally arbitrary and evil:

38:7 And Er, Judah's firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the LORD; and the LORD slew him. [sounds merciful]

38:8 And Judah said unto Onan, Go in unto thy brother's wife, and marry her, and raise up seed to thy brother.

38:9 And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother's wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother.

38:10 And the thing which he did displeased the LORD: wherefore he slew him also.

http://www.skepticsannotatedbible.com/gen/38.html

1/10/2006 4:00 AM  
Blogger Jak Black said...

BTA,

Could you please clarify your position? It seems to me that you've said till now that you believe in the divine nature of Tanach, but that the Sages perverted it. Here, you seem to be saying that G-d Himself is evil. Or maybe you believe both?

1/10/2006 6:15 AM  
Blogger BTA said...

"Could you please clarify your position?"

When I make arguments as above, I assume for the sake of argument certain premises, but those do not reflect what I actually believe.

So, the ideas you are refering to, about tanach and god, are assuming that those books are divinely authored. From there I can demonstrate distortions by chazal or demonstrate that even if you think God wrote X or Y, these words of his are admissions of evil acts.

However, I do not in fact believe that the books are divine. I don't believe in divinity of any sort for that matter. I am simply making my case using as much common ground as possible with those I disagree with.

1/10/2006 6:43 AM  
Blogger chardal said...

Chardal- your form over substance hair-splitting reading is only possible from one who imitates chazzal.

That is the best compliment anyone ever gave me.

Did you ever consider that the books were meant to be read this way? Are you a big expert on the nature of ancient wisdom texts?

Anyway, your major beef seems to be that you don't agree with Hashem's judgment and see it as inconsistent. Well, what can I say, I don't really think any mortal can grasp Hashem's justice in this world of sheker. That still says nothing about whether or not Shlomo knew the halachas of AZ.

Use your common sense for just a moment. Why would a King build alters "for his wives" and not for his own use

Oh, I don't know, maybe because he liked them. Maybe because he was afraid of offending their fathers who he had alliances with. Could be a host of reasons that are irrelevant to the point you try and make in your post.

The Navi says explicitly whenever a king was guilty of actively worshiping AZ but does not say this regarding Shlomo. Unless you want to say that the Navi is a text with the level of exactness of readers digest, then you must account for this fact.

But like I said, even if it does mean that he actively worshiped AZ, all that would mean is that Shlomo's sin was greater than the text explicitly suggests, not that he was ignorant of some of the most fundamental halachos of the Torah.

1/10/2006 11:25 AM  
Blogger BTA said...

"Did you ever consider that the books were meant to be read this way? Are you a big expert on the nature of ancient wisdom texts?"

Have you spent as much time studying other ancient text to discern how truthful they are? Or have you looked, as many ancient text scholars have, at the many plagiarisms our torah has from other sources, such as Hammurabi's code? Or ancient mythology like the Gilgamesh tale that Noah's ark is derivative of?

How about Nimrod, have you read where he comes from prior to the tower of Babel episode.

And stop saying the text doesn't say he was worshiping idols, etc. It is clear from the context he was.

1/10/2006 12:57 PM  
Blogger chardal said...

Have you spent as much time studying other ancient text to discern how truthful they are?

I am not talking about historic truthfulness but rather genre. And yes, I have studies enough of the texts that were contemporary to the Tanach to know that the way chazal learned text was a standard approach at the time and that such reading was expected by both the author and the reader of the text. This is actually something modern scholarship claims and is more of a difficulty for the pshat oriented rishonim than for chazal.

And stop saying the text doesn't say he was worshiping idols, etc. It is clear from the context he was.

No, it isn't. You are not reading the text carefully. I will fully concede when a pshat in the psukim does not conform to chazal's interpretation (like Reuven and Bliha or David and BatSheva). This, however, is not one of those cases and chazal have the pshat in the text. "VeYelech" does not mean "worshiped" in Kings. Show me just ONE place where it is used in such a way. Quite the opposite, whenever it is used in a sentence that describes Avodah Zara, a different verb is used. Oh, and this is not what you call "form over substance hair-splitting reading that imitates chazzal." Chazal never used this methodology. This is basic language analysis that should be used for ancient texts whenever you want to know what a word means in that text. They teach this stuff in university.

1/10/2006 1:56 PM  
Blogger chardal said...

Also, the Rambam used this method often. See the first essay of Moreh Nevuchim.

1/10/2006 1:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"When you have finished (it should take you three to four months; maybe a little more) you might start to understand the real reason why they eschew tenach in yeshivas."

Kind of begs the question of why they DO teach tanach in all the beis yaakovs.
Doesn't seem to lead the girls astray.

1/12/2006 2:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"It's clear that chazzal had tanach pretty much memorized along with the torah. So, it is noteworthy that yeshivas avoid it alltogether nowadays while emphasizing dikduk and endless commentaries on shas."

not only is this not true of beis yaakovs, it's not true of yeshivot in Israel. Even charedi yeshivot in Israel produce kids who know tanach near bal peh, and certainly in mamlachti dati schools they do. Your theory that studying tanach is avoided because it would upend Orthodox Judaism needs reworking.

1/12/2006 3:07 AM  
Blogger BTA said...

"Your theory that studying tanach is avoided because it would upend Orthodox Judaism needs reworking."

I don't know where you get your data from, but they chareidi yeshiva kids most certainly do not know all of tanach. That's ridiculous. You are living in a dream world.

But here's an area that you can try to prove me wrong about.

It's interesting how many troublesome passages there are in Tanach and yet, are any of these in the haftoros?

1/12/2006 5:13 AM  
Anonymous fit2btied said...

BTA,

Gee, your rhetorical question of whether the so-called difficult sections of tanach are ever included in the haftorahs dovetails perfectly with the messianic jews' question of why the sections of tanach that they claim speak of Jesus are not included in the haftorahs.

One would hope that you would have had enough of a grasp of history to know that the reading of the haftorah was instituted when the reading of the torah portion was prohibited. As such, the chosen haftorah section contains thematic allusions to the torah portion for which it was substituted. Any messianic jew could have given you that answer, just ask Mendy Shemtov.

1/16/2006 12:50 AM  
Blogger BTA said...

fit2btied:

You seem to know an awful lot about Jews for J. I don't. What do they care about the haftoras anyway, if shabbos is no longer binding thanks to Jesus?

Proves nothing. Anyway, didn't you note I deleted Mendy's post? Were you the one who pointed out his background?

If so, shouldn't you be commending me for that? Ah well, damned if I do...

As for the allusions to the parsha, I agree. But wouldn't Ezra's reinstitution of succos be fitting for the parsha of succos itself for example?

Wouldn't Solomon's going OTD with idolatry due to his wives dovetail nicely with the Torah admonition not to have too many wives (or horses)?

It was a rhetorical question, true- but not one of such consequence. I wish we could get rid of the haftara already since, as you properly point out- it was a temporary insertion into the liturgy which now makes it that much longer and more boring.

1/16/2006 3:45 AM  
Anonymous fit2btied said...

BTA,

Yes, I was the one who had pointed out Mendy's background.

I do give you some credit for removing his post but you should have at least mentioned why you were doing so and you should have checked in to the guy before hand. (Remember: try google)
Why is it that you will heavily scrutinize and examine any word in a source that you want to detract from but won't do the simplest of checks on someone to whom you are providing your blog space? Are you that lonely from support?

The reason why it is relevant to messianic jews that none of the sections of Nach that they claim to support their claim of Jesus as the messiah are used as haftorahs is that they claim that the Jews kept these sections out of the haftorah to hide thes sections from the masses. That is the same point you are making, no? That these sections (about Shlomo) are not used in haftorahs because we don't want the masses to be exposed to these "troubling" sections.

1/16/2006 10:25 AM  
Blogger BTA said...

Fit:

"I do give you some credit for removing his post but you should have at least mentioned why you were doing so and you should have checked in to the guy before hand."

You obviously know him. I don't google anyone. I'm not the NY Times. The poster is irrelevant. You could be a monkey typing on the keyboard, but as long as you make a good, relevant point, it stays.

I posted mendy, but that was a mistake. You and S. correctly pointed out that his post was largely generalities, although he did show however difficult it is for a BT who isn't happy in yeshiva, it is much more so for a ger. That was worth noting. And should be for die-hards like you who should want gerim to succeed and not go back to jesus.

"Why is it that you will heavily scrutinize and examine any word in a source that you want to detract from but won't do the simplest of checks on someone to whom you are providing your blog space?"

You are not being very intelligent here, but I'll indulge you. Because the ones I scrutinize are called "chazal" and "the sages" and therefore have a reputation to uphold. Bloggers like you or I are of no significance in terms of reputation. We're anonymous after all.

"Are you that lonely from support?"

That's just dumb. I think you went to ohr someyach and have a vendetta against Mendy. Perhaps you have your own problems with your BT experience but are afraid to admit it. I'm not going to play therapist, but it is you who seems lonely and single-minded in your Mendy obsession.

And, that mendy post was my first after a long hiatus. As you can see, I have several posts since then, and hundreds of hits per day, and hundreds of comments from folks who have much to say.

Join in the debate if you like, but enough with the cheap personal slights.

"The reason why it is relevant to messianic jews that none of the sections of Nach that they claim to support their claim of Jesus as the messiah are used as haftorahs is that they claim that the Jews kept these sections out of the haftorah to hide thes sections from the masses."

I bet there is truth to that, but there is nothing wrong with chazal in their parochial capacity, omiting some things that might be stumbling blocks during the upsurge in interest in Christianity.

"That is the same point you are making, no? That these sections (about Shlomo) are not used in haftorahs because we don't want the masses to be exposed to these "troubling" sections."

Yes, it is a sub-point. But there's a difference between keeping jews from christianity and keeping jews from knowing truth about judaism!

Anyway, you made your point, and I disagree with the jews for jesus angle. But I'm moving on to a different topic.

1/16/2006 3:27 PM  

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