Monday, December 07, 2009

Lo Bashamayim Hee

I don't think any movement or ideology became successful by first thinking through a plan and then implementing it. Instead, it seems like people adopt an idea, run with it (either due to exhuberance or because of baser drives like power) and make it happen.

Once it is done, it is done and the winners get to write history. Ideas that are unthinkable become a fait accompli once there are "facts on the ground". This is what happened with the Rabbis who decided that their interpretation of the Torah trumps everything else.

It reminds me of the scene from Shogun, where Toranaga is yelling at Blackthorne:

"Therefore the Netherlands - your allies - are in a state of rebellion against their lawful king?"

"They're fighting against the Spaniards, yes. But - "

"Isn't that rebellion? Yes or no?"

"Yes. But there are mitigating circumstances. Serious miti-"

"There are no 'mitigating circumstances' when it comes to rebellion against a sovereign lord."

"Unless you win."


Blogger Richard said...


Your phrasing implies that the rabbis got together and decided that they wouldn't listen to anyone else's opinions. This is not the case. Rather, they were given a Torah framework in which to operate, one principle of which is that we follow the opinion of the majority. R. Eliezer maintained that the oven was tahor without convincing the majority, so we do not follow his view.

December 08, 2009 5:11 AM  

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