Monday, January 07, 2008

Two Stories

or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Rabbis.

Story 1 (from aishdas)

The Oral Law Written by Gil Student

The existence of an oral law that was given to Moses at Mt. Sinai is a fundamental concept in Judaism. However, the lack of a clear reference to an oral law in the biblical text has led some to deny its existence. In response to these deniers, a literature has developed to try to prove the existence of an oral law.

Theoretical Proofs

1. R. Yosef Albo [Sefer HaIkkarim, 3:23] offers the following philosophical proof for the existence of an oral law. R. Albo states that a perfect text must, by definition, be totally unambiguous and not require any additional information to be understood. Since the Torah is called perfect [Psalms 19:8], the Torah must not have any ambiguities. However, it does have ambiguities. For example, the verse [Deut. 6:4] "Hear O Israel! The L-rd is our G-d, the L-rd is one" is understood by Jews to imply absolute monotheism while it is understood by Christians to imply a trinity. How can a perfect Torah contain ambiguity? Only if the Torah includes an oral explanation that clarifies all ambiguities can it be called perfect [cf. Maimonides, Moreh Nevuchim, 1:71]. Therefore, R. Albo states, there must have been an oral tradition transmitted along with the written Torah.

Story 2 (from the wise men of Chelm)
There was once a Jew who was passing through Chelm and went to daven with their Chassidim. After davening, the Chassidim told the visitor that their saintly Rebbe speaks directly with none other than God Himself. When the man asked how they knew this, the Chassidim answered - "It is simple. Our master and teacher, the Rebbe himself tells us this." When the visitor asked how they knew that their Rebbe wasn't lying to them, they answered - "That's even simpler. The Holy One, Blessed be He would never speak with a liar!"

7 Comments:

Blogger Lubab No More said...

Hilarious!

January 07, 2008 9:32 AM  
Blogger -suitepotato- said...

Fine post.

One wonders what had crept into the oral law by the time of the writing of it on physical media and what might have been put into it by human interest as opposed to any revelations from G-d.

I also see that the copious writings since then that are so far and wide as being nearly holding the weight of the Torah itself never mind the oral law seem to point to our collective need to make G-d's word fit us, rather than the other way around.

Who knows? Maybe G-d intended that very thing as an act of self-discovery and growth to reveal new things to us ongoing. One then wonders if anyone is paying attention of learning anything. The news on the television doesn't seem to speak in favor of that unfortunately.

January 07, 2008 10:21 AM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...

>One wonders what had crept into the oral law by the time of the writing of it on physical media and what might have been put into it by human interest as opposed to any revelations from G-d.

Yes, that is the crux of it, isn't it!!

January 07, 2008 11:04 AM  
Blogger XGH said...

Getting a little skeptical, eh?!

January 08, 2008 5:32 AM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...

>Getting a little skeptical, eh?!

More like depressed. Why would Gil list this nonsense as a theoretical proof?

January 08, 2008 7:23 AM  
Blogger -suitepotato- said...

I think the important thing isn't things set in stone or on scrolls, but what is in the human heart. We tend to be negative and dubious as a species and overlook our subtle more hopeful signs. We grouchily go over the Torah and select which level of interpretation fits us, as opposed to another which may be equally valid but not fitting our mood of the moment or long term temperament.

I think there's an implication missed: even writing it down in the first place says we assumed a world in the future to be there to read it and learn from it. That says something positive about us.

January 08, 2008 12:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

> Why would Gil list this nonsense as a theoretical proof?

I think Gil was a little more fundie in his aishdas days.

January 08, 2008 5:30 PM  

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