Friday, January 13, 2006

The "King Solomon- The Wisest and Most Off the Derech of All Men" Series- Pt II

I realized, after doing
The 1st King Solomon Post that King Solomon was fertile territory to mine. In fact, I believe that Shlomo HaMelech more or less undermines every aspect of how frummies think "real" judaism works.

From kashrus to ketubas, from theology to theodicy, from chinuch to chassidus- King Solomon's life explodes all myths. All you need to do is a close reading and you will soon see the following:

1. Halachos of marriage, intermarriage, and adultery were irrelevant to King Solomon;
2. Halachos of idolotry were irrelevant to him (previously covered);
3. So-called "Oral Law" was unknown to Shlomo, and came long after he died,despite all the nice talmudic tales about how his father King David studied torah, including oral law;
4. Halachos of conversion;
5. That it was just fine with HaShem for a man to have concubines (in Solomon's case hundreds of them). Concubine = woman sex slave. Exactly how moral is HaShem anyway? Apparently not very, even according to the rabbis who banned this practice. Of course, we know there are many chareidim who hold of prostitution, but Rav Elyashev is too busy with banned books claiming the universe is older than 6,000 years...

Today's Topic:
"King Solomon- The Wisest Jew, Who Married Hundreds of Goyim and Whose Children Were Goyim"

We know from 1 Kings 11 that King Solomon had sex with "many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites." The next phrase says sleeping with gentiles was banned in the torah. And we know you at least can't marry a Moabite deorisa. I'm surprised this guy didn't marry an Amalekite as well.

We also know that "he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines." Notably it then says only "his wives turned away his heart," not his concubines.

We also know that "when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods."

Now, let's see how many halachos those 3 sentences undermine, shall we ...

1. Adultery- King Solomon had sex during marriage with other women.
2. Intermarriage- He married goyim. Now, whenever I would ask a Rabbi in my early BT days, how it came to be that intermarriage was banned, given that so many biblical figures intermarried, most notably Moshe, I was given the apologetic answer "well, that's simple- the women converted!"

However, as we can see here- there was absolutely NO CONVERSION of these gentile wives. They actively participated in idol worship and in Solomon's golden years, persuaded him to worship idols and gods and goddesses and to build alters to all of the above.

It is noteworthy that the perek does not claim Solomon's children were therefore gentiles because of their non-jewish mothers. In fact, one of his sons became the next King!

And, let's not forget- one of the descendants of one of these non-convert intermarriages is supposed to be the messiah! A goy will be messiah? Hmmm. This makes all the hoops the talmudists jump through to explain Esther's intermarriage (she was really just a sex slave/concubine of a Persian king) since she too is an ancestor of the moschiach, supposedly.

Let's talk about all you hear about OJ marriage. You need a chuppah, a ketuba, tanaim, yichus, the whole shebang. Then sheva brachas.

Thus, if this stuff was really Oral Law and known in Solomon's time, one would expect him to have had:

1. 1,000 ketubas
2. 1,000 shona rishonas! (simultaneously?)
3. 7,000 sheva brachas (that's 19 years of sheva brachas, again unless he did them simultaneously!!!)
4. 1,000 weddings (assuming most of his "weddings" were just sexual encounters), that's still 2.7 YEARS of weddings. Did he marry on Shabbos? It wouldn't matter to the wives, since they weren't shomer shabbos anyway.
5. No brisim for his sons, since they were gentiles.
6. No need to do Jewish chinuch for his kids since they were gentiles. Therefore, no mitzva to follow the Shema "teach these words to your children," was there if they were goyim?


It's rather absurd, this religion. The next time you hear some frummie extolling the importance of this mitzva or that, ask yourself- "what would King Shlomo do?"

50 Comments:

Blogger Mis-nagid said...

You need to read this book.

1/14/2006 6:37 PM  
Blogger BTA said...

I ordered it after your first suggestion. But, in the meantime...

Order Date: January 8, 2006
Order #:XXXXXXX
Recipient: BTA

Items:
Delivery estimate: January 17, 2006 - January 31, 2006 1 of: David's Secret Demons: Messiah, Murderer, Traitor, King (The Bible in Its World

1/15/2006 2:22 AM  
Blogger chardal said...

All of this might trouble me if I actually fell into the fallacy of believing that just because someone does something in Nach, it must of been permissible.

Your depth of analysis of the text is sophomoric. Maybe if you came to the text with a minimum level of respect, you might come to different conclusions.

Of course you ignore pskukim such as the following (Kings I 2:1-4):

Now the days of David drew nigh that he should die; and he charged Solomon his son, saying: 2 'I go the way of all the earth; be thou strong therefore, and show thyself a man; 3 and keep the charge of the LORD thy God, to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, and His commandments, and His ordinances, and His testimonies, according to that which is written in the law of Moses, that thou mayest prosper in all that thou doest, and whithersoever thou turnest thyself; 4 that the LORD may establish His word which He spoke concerning me, saying: If thy children take heed to their way, to walk before Me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul, there shall not fail thee, said He, a man on the throne of Israel.

The rest of the beginning of the book is about how Shlomo succeeded in some areas and failed in others. It is absolutely irrational to deduce from his failures what normative halacha was during his reign!

Also what part of the following verses can you interpret as the text approving of Shlomo's behavior (Kings I 11:1-2):

Now king Solomon loved many foreign women, besides the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites; 2 of the nations concerning which the LORD said unto the children of Israel: 'Ye shall not go among them, neither shall they come among you; for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods'; Solomon did cleave unto these in love.

What part of this do you see as approving of his actions???

You are doing nothing less than abusing the text!

1/15/2006 2:22 AM  
Blogger BTA said...

Surely it doesn't point out all the problems raised by solomon?

I can see David/Batsheba being discussed a lot. However, apologists can readily claim she "converted." They can't claim that about Solomon's wives.

1/15/2006 2:23 AM  
Blogger chardal said...

apologists can readily claim she "converted"

Why would a Jewish woman need to convert? The whole issue with bat-Sheva is eishet Ish. You are abusing the text. Before you read mis-nagid's kfira book, I sugget you order Peshat and Derash by prof Weiss-HaLivni and learn a little about the way chazal learned texts (and about how those texts were written in the first place). This is all of course if you are interested in learning and not just settling a vendetta with the orthodox.

1/15/2006 2:27 AM  
Blogger chardal said...

They can't claim that about Solomon's wives.

Actually chazal say he Shlomo converted them while the zekeinim (sanhedrin) disagreed and did not accept his conversions. The text shows how they were right.

1/15/2006 2:29 AM  
Anonymous lori said...

here's a good article

1/15/2006 2:30 AM  
Blogger BTA said...

"to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, and His commandments, and His ordinances, and His testimonies, according to that which is WRITTEN in the law of Moses.

Who's "abusing the text" more, me or the rabbis? David clearly says all the laws are *written in the law of Moses*, so that would at a minimum prove that David had no Oral Law.

Of course, you'll parrot the lies of the rabbis who tried to explain the myriad instances in torah/tanach that plainly imply there was only a written law long before they came up with the "oral" law.

1/15/2006 2:31 AM  
Blogger BTA said...

"Maybe if you came to the text with a minimum level of respect, you might come to different conclusions."

I wonder what you mean by "respect"? Does that mean ignoring obvious implications simply becase the "sages" said otherwise?

1/15/2006 2:32 AM  
Blogger chardal said...

bta,

there is no such thing as having "just a written law". Written law needs interpretation.

I suggest you order Weiss-HaLivni's book. You might realize that ancient texts were not written to be read as you read them.

I really do not see what you think you are accomplishing. In the last post you claimed that Shlomo did not know the laws of AZ even though they are explicit in the written law. Now you say that you are claiming that he did not know the oral law. But this does not say that at all. Nothing in the texts you sight contradict the oral laws at all.

1/15/2006 2:34 AM  
Blogger chardal said...

I wonder what you mean by "respect"? Does that mean ignoring obvious implications simply becase the "sages" said otherwise?

I mean comming to it with an attidute their neither the author's of the text nor chazal are complete idiots.

1/15/2006 2:35 AM  
Blogger chardal said...

I wonder what you mean by "respect"? Does that mean ignoring obvious implications simply becase the "sages" said otherwise?

Oh, and there are plenty of non-religious and non-Jewish scholars that do this.

1/15/2006 2:36 AM  
Blogger chardal said...

excuse the grammer and spelling errors.

1/15/2006 2:39 AM  
Blogger BTA said...

"I mean comming to it with an attidute their neither the author's of the text nor chazal are complete idiots."

That's a straw man. I never said they were "idiots." On the contrary, I think they were quite smart, but deceitful. I think they perpetrated a lie with the oral law. I think they lied all the time in their interpretations of simple stories.

They needed the oral law to give their interpretations the imprimitur of god himself. That way, when they came up with new understandings of pashut stories, they could claim their exegetical techniqes harkened back to sinai.

1/15/2006 2:39 AM  
Blogger BTA said...

"Oh, and there are plenty of non-religious and non-Jewish scholars that do this."

Please tell me about such a scholar who would read posuk you quoted and ones like it and still say there is a credible argument that David also meant "oral law."

1/15/2006 2:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you really can't have the written without the oral. The oral one explains How to do the mitzvos.

1/15/2006 2:43 AM  
Blogger chardal said...

Please tell me about such a scholar who would read posuk you quoted and ones like it and still say there is a credible argument that David also meant "oral law."

Read Weiss-HaLivni on the nature of oral law and written text.

Oh, and calling chazal deceitful is not what I meant by respect.

1/15/2006 2:45 AM  
Blogger chardal said...

you really can't have the written without the oral. The oral one explains How to do the mitzvos.

One of the few benefits of the whole deconstructionist movement is that they effectively demonstrate how you can not have any text without an oral interpretive understanding. They basically say that an oral tradition is implicit in any text.

If they are correct, (and I believe they are) then the question should be which oral tradition is the most likely to be the accurate one. Add to this some basic understanding about the history of the Oral law, its development and nature (Rav Reuven Margolios Zt"l did some wonderful work on these issues) and one starts to get a picture of what the oral law must of looked like in the days of Shlomo. It was not the same as it is today, but it was definitely the real precursor to what we have today. If you are interested you can also learn Rav Kook's "To The Process of Ideas in Israel" which was beautifully translated in "When God Becomes History" by rav Bezalel Naor.

This is of course if someone is interested in learning.

1/15/2006 2:52 AM  
Blogger BTA said...

Lori- thank's for citing that article. It was rather timely! Although it seemed a bit disorganized.

Chardal said:
"there is no such thing as having "just a written law". Written law needs interpretation."

Yes, I've heard the Darkscroll explanation. However, I'm sure you know the simple reponse to that is, it may need an explanation, but that doesn't mean the one the rabbis came up with (and claimed was given at sinai) is the original one.

No one doubts there were oral traditions around for things prior to the mishna, but they were rather divergent and it caused quite a stir when it was written down because tons of jews at the time, Sadduccees, cried foul and saw there was a power play going on. Perhaps they even though the oral law to be outright heresy since the pharisees were essentially making up new halachas and lieniencies where god himself had not.

The perfect example is their claim that the torah says one cannot "kindle" fire on shabbos, when even you must admit the wording is have fires burning in your dwellings on shabbos. That's just one of many examples.

Milk and meat would be another, when Avraham didn't mind servin' up some nice milk and meat for the angels who visited him after his bris. Maybe they were yekkes.

1/15/2006 2:52 AM  
Blogger chardal said...

good night

1/15/2006 2:54 AM  
Blogger BTA said...

"you really can't have the written without the oral. The oral one explains How to do the mitzvos."

Fine, so I made up my oral law today. Please ask me about a mitzvoh and I'll tell you how it's done (or not done).

Your point is absurd, Anon. If the oral law can't be traced back to sinai (assuming sinai and mattan torah are true for the moment) then they have no authority whatsoever.

Consider the following 2 points:

1. In the Torah, when God told Moses to come up to Mount Sinai to receive the tablets he said: "Come up to me into the mountain, and be there: and I will give thee tablets of stone, and a law, and commandments WHICH I HAVE WRITTEN;" (Ex 24,12). No mention is made of an Oral Law.


2. The Tanach reports that the written Torah was both lost and completely forgotten for over 50 years and only rediscovered by the Temple priests (2Kings 22,8; 2Chronicles 34,15). It is inconceivable that an Oral Law could have been remembered when even the written Law was forgotten!

1/15/2006 3:00 AM  
Blogger BTA said...

I should also mention, in contravention of the Kuzari as well as the oral law- if the jews didn't even remember where mount sinai WAS, how can you rely on their recollection of the oral law? Especially since it was not mentioned throughout tanach.

1/15/2006 3:05 AM  
Blogger BTA said...

"All of this might trouble me if I actually fell into the fallacy of believing that just because someone does something in Nach, it must of been permissible."

Not a fallacy for you, since you hold by darshening from psukim. Well, analyze just how many things God DIDN'T find evil about what Solomon did!

And God didn't give out the same punishments he supposedly laid out as "halacha." That doesn't bother you? It is a just and perfect legal system that protects the sons of kings and treats them leniently in circumstances where average joes would get the death penalty?

Shouldn't solomon be reviled? FIne, he wasn't punished, but why is he held out as such a great jew? Why isn't he held to be worse than Korach or Nimrod? And all this post-torah by a king. Hmmm. Even Noah got a more raw deal.

And, speaking of Noah- it seems Solomon didn't enforce the Noachide laws against his wives- since they worshipped idols throughout his marriage. Again it all makes today's standards of halacha seem quite absurd.

If you like it, fine.

1/15/2006 3:29 AM  
Blogger free-thinking lamden said...

>2. The Tanach reports that the written Torah was both lost and completely forgotten for over 50 years and only rediscovered by the Temple priests (2Kings 22,8; 2Chronicles 34,15). It is inconceivable that an Oral Law could have been remembered when even the written Law was forgotten!

Really good argument there. Wish I would have thought of it myself. I wonder how the fundies are going to answer that one?

I think they will ignore it. There is no answer.

1/15/2006 5:07 AM  
Anonymous Holy (Tired) Hyrax said...

It is inconceivable that an Oral Law could have been remembered when even the written Law was forgotten!

Inconceivable, but you can't be certain about that. That fact that every minusha is not recorded does not prove or disprove anything. The reason why the Oral law is such a sticking point is because in today's standards, it is looked upon like a seperate curriculm. Something they they start teaching the youngsters at 5th grade by sitting down in your tables and opening up the big heavey Talmud and reading every single opinion, Midrash or hocus pocus story. That was probably not the way it was thousands of years ago. The Oral law needs to be understood as something perhaps more organic. Most likely back then, the elders got together with some other elders and discussed issues of laws. No books, no big deal. This for them was the Oral law, and probably not a big deal enough (as opposed to the big hoopla WE make out of it) to mention in the scripture.

Why is it that everything in Nach is taken as actually happened? If we question Torah and all the stories and the people that encompass its stories, why is it that you take every single story of Nach to be litteraly true the way its written with no exception. Why does the skeptisism stop there. [The Torah). The fact that Shlomo sinned and not getting punished by God is no big deal. God does not carry out those sentences, the Beit Din is supposed to. The question you SHOULD be asking is, where was the Beit Din? Where were the elders? Why did they not bring him to justice for his sins? The fact of the matter, we don't really know what happened. Perhaps the Beit Din DID rebuke him and want to carry out justice. Perhaps the fact the king controlled the army made it hard for the Beit Din to do their job correctly. We do not know the reality of those days. Just because it was not recorded does not mean it did not happen. The fact that a law was not carried out does not mean it does not exist. All it means is that there was some serrious problems then, just like there are serious problems now and every century before us. It also does not mention that Solomon ever took a piss either. The next thing you know, someone is going to claim that we thought of Solomon, the way the Egyptians thought of Pharoh. That was a God that did not ever piss or ... you know. We do not know why certain things were recorded while others were not. What you want is a clearer picture. And you are taking stories from Nach and basically saying. "This is how it is! Exactly how the [human] author wrote it exactly how it happened and nothing more exists. Do not forget that even in the book of Chronicles it tells of even more books written about King Solomon that are lost to us. God (Zaboo, Chance) knows what is written there.

My point (finally) is that it is unfair to judge these ancient writtings based on our experiences today. They did not have Kollels back then, No Gmara, No Little Midrash Says. Thumbs were not swinging side to side. The Oral law is probably much more organic in its origin and nature, and did not take up such a center roll in Judaism as it does in our Litvish style yeshivot. The written material of a thousand years ago cannot always be judged on the expectations of how we would have liked it to be written.

:: Bows:: Yawns:: sleeeeeepy time.

1/15/2006 5:52 AM  
Blogger Warren Burstein said...

Adultery? Are you claiming that polygamy violates the prohibition against adultery?

1/15/2006 7:57 AM  
Anonymous Benjamin said...

One of the problems with BTA's approach is that he lacks a fundamental understanding of how to learn Jewish texts. That's for starters. He has, apparantly, an elementary school level Jewish education, probably through no fault of his own. Some of the issues he raises are interesting, and he is far from the first person to come up with these kinds of questions. All of his questions have been dealt with in books, books written in Hebrew for the most part, which he probably can not read. Another problem with BTA is a lack of precision in his analysis, which is apparent to anyone reading this blog. Lastly, he begins with an "axe to grind" against Orthodox Jews and classical Judaism. He is not really interested in finding the truth; rather he just wants to vent. I doubt that I will return to this blog as it is all really rather dull.

1/15/2006 8:27 AM  
Blogger free-thinking lamden said...

Benjamin sais that bta:

'lacks a fundamental understanding of how to learn Jewish texts'

Oh right Benjamin, so 'Jewish Texts' are fundamentally different to any other texts that have ever been written, are they?

Benjamin, I am sorry to say, but it is u who is disinterested in 'finding the truth' (your words!) It is you who has bought into the big lie that Tenach should not be read with the same critical analysis as any other text would be; that tenach is somehow 'different' and works according to different rules. It is obvious that all u had was an 'elementary school level secular education' (your words)

I suggest that u get out there and update you understanding of these texts in light of modern academic research.

1/15/2006 10:31 AM  
Anonymous Benjamin said...

Wrong. Tanach is NOT read the same way ordinary secular literature is to be read. Go deeply into it, with the commentaries, and you will see what I mean. Same is true for the aggadata of the Talmud. For an easy to understand example, read, The Juggler and the King. You state that I should revise my understanding of Tanach in the light of "modern academic research?". In fact, I have studied this stuff. I have a degree in religious studies from one of the finest universities in the country as well as a law degree. In fact, I am the President of a college. Your presumptions about my level of education are way off base. And irrelevant. Getting back to substance: The Graf Wellhausen theory, sometimes called the "documentary hypothesis" approach to critical biblical studies, is, in my opinion, gibberish created by German anti-Semites. Yes, they were anti-Semites, and they were German. Their theories have been discredited many times over.

1/15/2006 11:18 AM  
Blogger BTA said...

First of all, Ben, I agree with some of your critique, which I didn't take personally. And I can see why you'd say I have no experience. This post and the other Solomon post cry out "amateur," but only because seasoned learners don't ask these kinds of kashas. They gave up a long time ago and so did you. If they entertain any questions at all, they are apt to say things like, "All of his questions have been dealt with in books, books written in Hebrew for the most part, which he probably can not read," as you are wont to do.

However, what you are really saying is that only books written by believers count (as no skeptical books, such as the one cited by Mis-nagid in the first comment) would be written in Hebrew. Also, your point is a specious one, since even the most insignificant classical hebrew text, if extant, is available in english. And, I think we all can agree that if there were an ancient text that dealt with any of the issues I raised, it would be in english. Please point out one hebrew sefer that you have to back up your point.

Next, I opened myself up to the am haaretz attack by doing such a post. Yes, I am an am haaretz, but that is why I did a post explaining that most talmidei chachamim these days are the true ignoramuses. You seem to have gotten a healthy dose of secular education, and especially credentials in "religious studies."

Thus, you bring a lot to the table in this discussion. I didn't spend very long refining what I wrote, but I did bounce it off several experts before posting it, just to make sure there in fact were NOT any books out there with simple refutations of the points I raised.

And, in fact there are not any simple refutations. That would explain why you hid behind an old saw "oh, there are books that dealt with this and they resolve everything, unfortunately they're in hebrew and are unlearnable to BTA."

I did attend a BT yeshiva, by the way, which while it did not make me an expert, I am certainly capable of analyzing talmudic arguments, and I certainly raised issues like this with two of the most scholarly (and honest) english speaking rabbis in jerusalem.

Last- you are correct that I am not looking for "answers" anyore that would take me back to believer status, I have put a question or two out there. If you can answer it, then you've knocked down some serious stiras. If not, you'll have to just do what frummies always do- shrug your shoulders and claim there's a good answer somewhere.

And, on the topic of the documentary hypothesis, since you are a scholar, have you published anything to challenge the arguments put forth in Who Wrote the Bible (which is a summary of D.H. up to date and which is by a jew who took up the helm a century or so after the germans?)

I see a pattern here- you attack the messenger rather than the arguments. "Doc Hyp? Ignore it, it was started by germans."

1/15/2006 12:29 PM  
Blogger BTA said...

"Go deeply into it, with the commentaries, and you will see what I mean. Same is true for the aggadata of the Talmud. For an easy to understand example, read, The Juggler and the King."

That book, while not gibberish, is utterly lacking in an iota of profundity.

I can't tell you how many times I tried to see some philosophical depth in that book and found none. Each and every aggadata is essentially extolling the virtues of the pious believer over the materially successful non-believers.

Ok, ok, how many different jewish books do we have to read, from pirkei avos' exhortation to be "happy with one's lot" to Luzzato and Maharal and Dessler and all the aggadatas in Brachos do we need before we internalize the mentality of the dark ages (be happy with service of god in this life and you'll enjoy heaven all the more)?!"

If it works for you, fine, Ben- but let's be real- your beliefs in god, heaven, divine retribution, oral law, divine authorship of written torah, exodus, sinaitic revalation, are unfounded wish fulfillments, and it is you sir, who believes in and teaches as a professional, faily tales that have no objective substance to them whatsoever. Your reliance on shibboleths in hebrew texts are no excuse for dogmatic belief in a religion you were born into. For all your educational credentials, your true counterparts can be found in madrassas and monastaries around the world.

1/15/2006 12:42 PM  
Anonymous Benjamin said...

I personally don't accept the Graf-Wellhausen documentary hypothesis because its central thesis is that the texts employing the different commonly known names of God were written by different people at different times and then woven together by an editor. This theory was always very unsatisfying to me from the outset. I just don't see how it holds water. And within that school of biblical criticism, you have many streams debating and contradicting each other so that, in the end, in so-called modern academic circles, you end up with a mish mash that just, on a personal level to me now, makes no sense. I believe there is "Kedusha" (holiness) in Torah. I believe, based on experience and lots of thought, that the Jews are a holy people and the Torah is our holy book. We do not have answers to every question that can be raised in Torah, and I don't think anyone ever claimed there were pat answers to every question. Science has to be reconciled with Torah, but I don't view that as a problem, while others might. But to take the whole thing and chuck it out the window, and then bear a grudge against religous Jews, leads nowhere. The Jews have been around for thousands of years, longer than any other religious civilization. The Jews have survived against all odds. There is no comparable example in history. And even today, the whole world is focused on the Jews and Israel. It is because, in my opinion, the Jews are an intrinsically holy people, the Chosen People, and the world knows it, in different ways, and it bothers them. It is the eternal confrontation between kedusha and chol. Then again, as you write, perhaps it is all a big mythology..and there is no real spiritual meaning to the world, or to the Jews, or to our existence, who knows? I am not all knowing. But something draws me, and millions of Jews throughout history, to Torah, and the Jews have outlived, against all odds, all other peoples...there is a mystical reality at work there, to my way of thinking. Then again, perhaps it is all an illusion, an accident of fate....

1/15/2006 12:48 PM  
Blogger chardal said...

benjamin,

you illustrate beautifully how the basic assumptions a person starts out with affect his conclusions. If you start out with only an physical/empirical view of life, then everything we believe in is bunk. If however, you come from the point of view that there is a G-d who communicates with man, then your conclusions are totally different. In the end, faith is an act of will and not of the intellect. This fact is freeing to some and a burden to others.

1/15/2006 1:43 PM  
Blogger Mis-nagid said...

BTA, if you want to read about what the hebrew bible says about what the people believed at the time relative to its relationship with the rabbinic changes, read these:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0802841597/
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0801865336/
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0674091760/

It's scholarly stuff, so you'll need to put in real effort to get the most out of it, but it's exactly what you're looking for.

Finally, if you really, really, really want to know what the texts say about the laws Kings David and Solomon followed, this is the gold mine:
The Constitution of the Monarchy in Israel by Boruch Halpern.

In fact, read that one first. You'll flip.

1/15/2006 1:51 PM  
Blogger BTA said...

Ben and Chardal- well spoken for your viewpoints. I don't totally disagree with the specialness of the Jews, but I see Jews as having made intellectual contributions.

Monotheism was an intellectual contribution in the days of child sacrifice and worshiping the babylonian sun god Shamash.

We went on to win disproportionate Nobel Prizes, and succeed in the arts and sciences after enlightenment. However, that could be viewed empirically, as Chardal hints. We were a small, mobile group, with tremendous selection pressures. It recently came out that perhaps 40% of ashkenazic Jews decended from the same 4 women. Let's be honest, Ashkenazim are the jew you think of when you think of intellectual and social change and accomplishment, not sephardic Jews, by and large.

Thus, it would seem our contributions stemmed from our selection pressure engendered by anti-semitism. As for our inherent "holiness," I honestly don't see that. Perhaps that's because in my opinion our holiness was hijacked by dogmas and untenable theologies. Had we stuck to basics without the addition of oral law and the like, perhaps the religion would still be a force for change and would draw more adherents from the jew themselves.

I have to admit to speculation here as well.

1/15/2006 1:54 PM  
Blogger BTA said...

Thanks, Mis-nagid, I will order them, and try to read them, but my stack is getting up there!

Btw, I am starting to feel as if I have Mis-nagid (with horns and pitchfork) on one shoulder and Chardal (with halo) on the other!

In seriousness, thanks to all of you for posting. It is very interesting and I think confirms there is still a specialness inherent in Jews and jewish thought.

1/15/2006 1:57 PM  
Anonymous Holy Hyrax said...

Had we stuck to basics without the addition of oral law and the like, perhaps the religion would still be a force for change and would draw more adherents from the jew themselves.

I think you have it reversed. Are you saying that you want a religion based on total literal reading of the text. Thats impossible and the religion would not have survived or contributed as you say if not for the development and interpretation of the Oral Law. And what do you mean by Oral Law? Thats a very general term for such a huge body of work.

Also, I'm wondering, if you read those books from Mis-nagids book club, will you be using the same level of skeptisism that you use for other books? Chardal has told you to read Pshat and Drash. Most likely, Mis-nagid will bring a host of quotes and problems that Halivi's work has. Why is it that those books are looked upon as total truth where as books that perhaps shed some light are total bunk. Chardal has a point, that its all in the way you come into it. Mis-nagid is no more a the holder of total truth (without a pre-bias) than I am or anyone else.

1/15/2006 2:34 PM  
Blogger Mis-nagid said...

"Thanks, Mis-nagid, I will order them, and try to read them, but my stack is getting up there!"

The only way to know this stuff( and you've clearly shown your interest) is to read. A lot.

"Btw, I am starting to feel as if I have Mis-nagid (with horns and pitchfork)"

All I did was recommend a few books. At least on this topic I'm content to let the evidence speak for itself. Reading FMC or BH is an enlightening *cough* experience; you can feel your faith fade as reality comes into focus.

1/15/2006 2:36 PM  
Blogger BTA said...

I really don't have to patience to read so much about it. To me, it is obvious from the preponderance of the evidence. The theists and OJ dogmatists have the burden of proof. I have them several uncritical years, but that left me where I am now.

I do these posts to see what they can conjure up. Or what they can cite to that they think responds.

1/15/2006 3:27 PM  
Blogger happywithhislot said...

chardal
Ive tried to make the same point to BTA, but he is being Tzeduki in his ways.

He is using the tzeduki way of arguing. I think BTA is more literalist than them!

Reminder, the Tzeduki were on the losing side of history.
Sorry BTA, Are you enjoying yourself?

1/15/2006 6:02 PM  
Blogger chardal said...

I do these posts to see what they can conjure up. Or what they can cite to that they think responds.

Well, can't you have some rachmanus? I have a lot of work and it takes so much time to "reload" these issues into my RAM. :)

Seriously, I don't think its a question of "proof." Texts are not science. We bring a lot of our own baggage to them whether we are believers or skeptics. I would almost venture to say that a objective reading of any text (other than maybe a physics textbook) is impossible. That being said, you also have to concede that much of what you are posting against is one version of orthodoxy that you were exposed to. Mis-nagid does the same thing often by attacking the most right-wing versions of orthodoxy thereby creating an easy target for himself.

Also, I can tell you are a person with a keen appreciation for proper derech eretz. In your experience, do you find that believers generally have better derech eretz than skeptics? Do you feel that regardless of your historical issues, you find that Judaism is the best system for creating good people or not? I know that this is a very subjective question and irrelevant to the post but I am curious to the answer.

1/15/2006 6:25 PM  
Blogger Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

In order to discredit Orthodox Judaism BTA misunderstands and attacks the early development of rabbinic Judaism.

I will explain where he is in error when I get the chance, but suffice it to say that he makes several genre mistakes, one of which is that he confuses the national culture of Judaism for the model of a modern religion.

1/15/2006 7:09 PM  
Anonymous Holy Hyrax said...

I will explain where he is in error when I get the chance

That can take quite a while. Im still waiting for a response from you also. :)

1/15/2006 7:21 PM  
Blogger Mis-nagid said...

MFM, you're cheating more than a little. Yes, BTA's going about this completely wrong, but you correcting his method will not dispute the fact that his basic point is correct: early Israel shows almost no evidence of the "Oral Law." In fact, if he deleted these posts and replaced them with the books I recommended, he'd have said much the same thing as these posts try to do.

1/15/2006 8:24 PM  
Blogger BTA said...

"Reminder, the Tzeduki were on the losing side of history."

Not sure how you define "losing," since their absolute defiance of the oral torah set in motion an eventual takover in numbers of judaism by their heirs the conservative and reform, who would seem to therefore be on the "winning" side of history if what seems to be a numbers game to you.

1/15/2006 11:56 PM  
Blogger BTA said...

"In order to discredit Orthodox Judaism BTA misunderstands and attacks the early development of rabbinic Judaism."

I think I have a vague idea of what you are getting at. That the rabbis had authority to make changes and interpretations and these just grew organically over time.

If that is your point, then I go back to the point that they lied to get there. They came up with a concept known as the "Oral Torah" which contained the "oral law." They claimed it to be a direct transmission from Sinai. They claimed it contained the secret to understanding the written torah which admittedly was a mishmash of vagaries, contradictions and ommissions.

Their claim to have this divine "oral torah" was nothing more than a power grab in my view. They battled people who in earnest thought it heretical to add to or delete from the written torah.

And what they came up with was quite different than the written torah.


"I will explain where he is in error when I get the chance, but suffice it to say that he makes several genre mistakes, one of which is that he confuses the national culture of Judaism for the model of a modern religion."

Since you didn't say "bli neder," you have until next Yom Kippur to post... ;)

Also, confusing national culture for the model of a modern religion?

What I really like about going to tanach "fresh" is that it is like a portal in time back to before the time Oral Torah was invented. Again, I suspect you will counter that the rabbis acted under authority vested in them by the written torah itself, but I disagree and await your fleshed out take on this.

You've posted on the Karaites and have clearly read up on them. They have one, simple point that has dramatic consequences: if Oral TOrah is not from Sinai/God, then much of OJ is not binding, wrong, or outright heresy.

1/16/2006 12:06 AM  
Blogger BTA said...

"but you correcting his method will not dispute the fact that his basic point is correct: early Israel shows almost no evidence of the "Oral Law." "

What he said. ;)

As stated above, consider these examinations of tanach portals to the pre-Oral Torah era. I'm sure the scholars Halpern, etc do a better job, but taking tanach as true, arguendo, is a though experiment that either sends one in retreat for some apologetic commentary that helps one sleep, or really helps one envision just how different judaism became.

1/16/2006 12:09 AM  
Blogger dbs said...

Great blog, though, being a kofer, I’m sort of biased.

I love Shlomo’s abrupt, ignominious exit from Tanach – after many chapters of the most boring, minute detail of the building of the Mikdash and his economic success. Although I generally don’t like reading historical theories into Tanach, I have a pet theory that Shlomo became clinically depressed in his later years – hence Kohelet. (And, by the way, I really wonder about who wrote its’ last two sentences.)

1/16/2006 8:17 PM  
Blogger BTA said...

"Great blog, though, being a kofer, I’m sort of biased."

Thanks, I looked at your new blog. I'd love a long post about you, but perhaps you don't want to make it any more personal. If you look at the early days of this blog in archives, I was trying to find a way to harmonize having gone from enthusiastic BT married new family to a total heretic whose religious high point is when all the "yomim noraim" are gone for good.

I'm lucky that my wife is very understanding and flexible. Still, the more I cut out of observance (I'm still shomer shabbos and keep kosher rather strictly, but don't daven, tefilling, etc) the more the remaining parts bug me. I love Shabbos in many ways, but it really bugs me to think I'll be teaching my kids about the 39 melachas which I think are totaly nonsense. Or my kids being indoctrinated with tzitis for boys and kippahs from age 3.

And parasha sheets...

Is there a way to raise one's kids with a jewish background, keeping shabbos traditionally, without all the dogmas, and yet still keep kids away from objectively harmful TV and sex and drugs?

I'd love to hear your point of view. You could do a post on it, but it might not be important to you.

1/17/2006 12:09 AM  
Blogger Shlomo said...

Shlomo HaMelech circa 900BC

We had this debate on MisNagid's Blog. There is no archaeological evidence for the vast, wealthy, powerful, and popular kingdom of the mamzer known as Shlomo. Certainly nothing in the vicinity of Jerusalem.

It appears that the Shlomo story was contrived by Ezra to entice Jews back to Israel from parts in Persia. By creating a romanticized and glorious past, Ezra attempted to rekindle early "Zionism" and, for the most part, was successful. All this, mind you, at the behest of Cyrus.

Shlomo Hamelech is to Judaism what Elvis is to goyim. Jewish women have this romantic image of Shlomo as melech, poet, genius, wisest of all men, lover, etc. I wonder if a guy like Shlomo could even be counted for a minyan these days, let alone make a decent shidduch. I wonder which Bais Ya'akov girl would marry a man that has already slept with 1000 women!

Yet, in spite of his erotic repknown and flagrant violation of Halacha at each and every turn, Shlomo remains an icon. Just like Elvis, who liked little girls, used heroine, popped pills, and didn't write his own songs, Shlomo HaMelech gets credit for all sort of things he didn't do, and the bad stuff is conveniently overlooked. Both were marketed as the "King".

One crucial difference, however, is that Elvis was real(and might still be alive. He was spotted at 770.)

1/22/2006 10:38 AM  

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