Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Mesorah - questions that bother a reader

Dear Rabbi,

I like to read your blog and I also use your sefer Das Torah. I would like to ask you a few questions that bother me. They are about our Mesorah.

1) How do we know that the Mesora is True 

 The Rishonim (like Kuzari) bring down the idea of Transmission. And they say that it could not be that millions of people were deceived, and that for sure since they all saw it and heard it, they transmitted it as they saw it and heard it. But what if there was a certain (one or few) person in a certain time (when they were together as a tribe of certain people) that told to their people and convinced them to believe that this is what happened, millions of people were there, and "we got the Torah, and here it is". Like it happened in other religions - one man convincing many people to believe in something, all the more so if people in those times were very receptive to believes of different ideas of religion (for example they were very easily  lured into Avoyda Zora) and obviously (at least for me) since they were not on the same level of rational thinking as in later times (in times of Gaonim, Rishonim or our time). So how we are so convinced that the Mesorah is true?

 2) Accepting that the whole Torah was written by Moshe - except last 8 verses

Another question that bothers me is the assertion "that the Torah is written completely by Moshe Rabeinu", and the only argument is about the last eight psukim. One Tana said that Yehoshua wrote them, and Rabbi Yehoshua (I think it was Rabbi Yehoshua?) said -  "Chas v'sholom,  of course Moshe Rabeinu wrote the whole Torah, just last pesukim he wrote with his tears". But why should I believe in what Rabbi Yehoshua said? At least if he would say that it was his Mesora that Moshe wrote the whole Torah, but Rabbi Yehoshua did not say that. He just based his Pshat on the fact that it is written “that Moshe wrote all this Torah”, which in simple meaning does not prove anything - the words “all this Torah” could simply mean all the commandments. Why should I believe in something that came from human mind as his idea? And all the more so, why should I believe in what he said about this concept, when I know that many Rabbis had the intention of protecting the Torah from heretics, which is very good, but since their minds were constantly in the "protecting mode", they automatically thought in this direction - that of course Moshe wrote the whole Torah, what else is possible?! But as it seems to me, there are many places in the Torah where it seems as if the Torah was not written by one person at one time, but it is more like a collection of a few writings that were put together later on. (For example גיד הנשה - “בראשית לב:לג "על כן לא יאכלו בני ישראל את גיד הנשה", or another place - בראשית לו:לא "ואלה המלכים אשר מלכו בארץ אדום לפני מלך לבני ישראל" , and there are many other places that are indicating this.) I understand that this idea is very dangerous, but the truth is more important to me. I grew up in a communists country, with a mindset of being anti-religion, and even thought I am Shomer Torah umitzvos now, I still have this attitude that everything has to make sense, and for me “this Rabbi said this and this Rabbi said that" is like the Pope in church said this and this and this, and everybody answers “oh yes father, whatever you say”. This way of thinking absolutely foreign to me and I only accept something if it makes sense. Of course I understand that a human brain cannot comprehend everything - but that's as long as it is something that it is not possible to understand, for example בחירה. But if something looks that it is possible to understand logically, why shouldn't I attempt to do that  - to the best of my ability? And then when we don't understand, we use Emuna. And that being said, I don't see anything wrong with the idea that Moshe did not write the whole Torah, like Rabbi Yehoshua holds, since it is his personal opinion, and not the mesora, (at least it does not say that). And it is not perfectly logical to say that Moshe wrote the whole Torah, because of all of those allusions to it, like I wrote before. So basically my question to you is - what's wrong with my understanding, since I don't find any Orthodox Rabbi that holds like this? (only conservative) Or maybe this logic is correct, but Orthodox Rabbis would never accept this because it is too dangerous?

Please answer me, if you can. I specifically chose you because of your rational approach to things.

Thank you,


  1. two simple questions

    1) How would you know that an answer is correct?

    2) How would you be affected if you couldn't find answers to your questions?

    1. 1. I am ready to accept things that I can understand logically. For things that I can't - I use emunah since, like I wrote, I realize that a person is limited in his understanding. But I am weary of trusting things people say just because they are famous or considered important, if they don't give a logical explanation for what they are saying. We can look at Islam as an example of blind faith - where people do crazy things just because one guy said something. I don't want to be like that.

      2. Even if I don't get satisfactory answers to my questions, I will still believe that this world was created by the Almighty. I don't doubt it for a second, and consider anyone who doubts it an illogical person who doesn't see it because of his selfish interests. I think it's plainly obvious that this world was created by Someone, and if so, it makes sense that the Creator wants a certain order (Torah). I just think that there are many things in our Torah that are of human origin, but are now viewed as coming directly from G-d. I believe in the principles brought down by Sefer HaIkkarim, but some principles brought down by Rambam - specifically that Moshe wrote all of the Torah and that Torah will never change - raise some doubts in my mind. I don't think I am an apikores because of this - if someone says "You are an apikores because a Rabbi says so" doesn't make it true unless you can prove it.

  2. You don't need a group of sages getting together to make people believe a public event happened. Many people believe that King Arthur and the knights of the Round Table existed despite some historians claim they are legend based. Legends can transform into beliefs. Case in point: Some people believe certain stories in the Talmud are fact, while others insist they are legend. So this this scenario of someone coming from the hills and saying: Hey you know what, G-d gave to Torah before 600,000 of our ancestors, is not necessary. The story could be jogged off by a grandfather wanting to entertain the kids at bedtime.

  3. For proof of the validity of Judaism, listen to this lecture by Lawrence Kelleman

    The Jews were always known as a brilliant, stiff necked people who didn't believe or follow anyone. The idea that a few people could convince the majority of them of some fabricated tale is ludicrous.

  4. Believe it or not, there aren't very many good books or writings which give a good answer to your questions, even though your question is fundamental and addresses the whole basis of the Jewish faith.

    I think one of the reasons for this is that it is only in recent history that people have asked questions like this. This is because as time goes on, the chain of the mesora gets weaker naturally.

    I found that Rabbi Gottlieb, who was a philosophy professor at Johns Hopkins, has written the best work on this subject.

    I wrote something about Rabbi Gottlieb's work here:

  5. >>>> The idea that a few people could convince the majority of them of some fabricated tale is ludicrous.

    not quite many thousands believe that the Zohar was written by the Rashbi...and that's an idea that was introduced by one person (DeLeon).

    and one can easily lists a dozen (at least to me silly) beliefs that unfortunately too many supposedly intelligent Jews believe wholeheartedly.

    1. bad example and bad conclusion

      I assume you are familiar with Rav Moshe Chagiz and Rav Yaakov Emden's explanation of what the Rashbi's authorship means?

      We are not talking about an author typing a manuscript into a computer and emailing the files to a publisher who then prints it out.

      The issue is authorship - not who wrote it down or who redacted it or who produced the text that was actually printed.

    2. I am talking about a belief that changes your whole life and restricts you in ways that those that don't understand would consider painful or difficult. (These must be understood in the context of the wonderful wholeness of Judaism which provides a fantastic system of truth for living one's life while fulfilling its purpose and which also leads to tremendous happiness and fulfillment)

      The discussion by Rabbi Keleman deals with these issues.

    3. you missed my point. it's irrelevant who actually authored the Zohar. The fact is that one person presented it to us hundreds of years after its purported origin, and thousands aren't even aware of this fact.
      It just shows that people are gullible, or are ready to believe what "authority" claims.

    4. I am very aware of your point - and it is not an example of gullibility. See the discussion by Prof Moshe Idel regarding oral versus written transmission of information.

    5. Where might I find that discussion?

    6. Prof Moshe Idel discusses it in the introduction to his book

      Kabbalah New Perspectives

  6. One of the major issues that needs to be decided is what constitutes proof and how convincing does it need to be.

    Spinoza defined an answer as that which stops the urge to ask another question. There is nothing in this answer which describes the type of material. For some it would be logical analysis, for others a study of history, for others it would be whatever makes them feel good. The Seridei Aish - which I cite in Daas Torah has a discussion of this.

    Basically what the Kuzari is doing is presenting an argument which his contemporaries found convincing. It is less so today - not because it isn't an answer - but because many today don't lose their urge to ask additional questions from this type of argument.

    The Rashba explains that Jews are inherently sceptical people. That explanation which satisfied them in Egypt was lost at the Sea and the splitting of the Sea which satisfied them was lost when they got to the other side. The Torah is full of examples of answers which were good in a certain context that later were viewed as irrelevant.

  7. There is a website,, which approaches these questions in several ways.

    That website is ultra-rationalistic, and critical of mysticism and ultra orthodoxy. Yet, he relies on the Rishonim, and their types of philosophical proofs.

    However, there are always counter arguments to every philosophical discussion. I had a friendly discussion with Xtian believers, and they come up with really illogical arguments,but try to use emotion (and ignorance ) to prove their points.

    The writer of the letter is obviously a serious thinker, and should continue to be one. Shallow arguments can only captivate the unenquiring mind. And it is good to be skeptical. R' Schiller of Ohr Sameach says that we are to perfect our rational minds, and become critics of our leaders. Whether I agree with the enitre derech of OS is another question, but this idea is quite refreshing.

  8. We don't live in the Kuzari's worldJuly 11, 2012 at 7:42 PM

    I think the reader is making a mistake by going to the rishonim. We grew up in a society shaped by much that happened in the Western World since them. The Empiricists, the Idealists, the Kantian Revolution, etc...
    People are more cynical about proofs than they themselves realize. Proofs are just the means people use to talk themselves into believing things they already had inarticulable reasons (or just plain "want to") to believe. As per the aphorism in this email's signature. Which is why the Kuzari was write when he has the Chakham dismiss philosophy as the best Greeks can do (1:63), but inherently uncertain. Quoting 1:13:
    The Rabbi: That which you describe is religion based on speculation and system, the research of thought, but open to many doubts. Now ask the philosophers, and you will find that they do not agree on one action or one principle, since some doctrines can be established by arguments, which are only partially satisfactory, and still much less capable of being proved.
    So, when I'm faced with a kiruv situation like this one, I go transcendental. I don't keep Shabbos because I believe in Maaseh Bereishis and Maamud Har Sinai.
    I can deduce that all objects must fall at the same speed (acceleration) with a thought experiment.
    1- Picture a ball. It falls at some speed.
    2- Picture a barbell of the same weight. Given that wind drag differences are ignorable, it would fall at the same speed.
    3- Make the bar of that barbell thinner. Still falling at the same speed, right?
    4- And thinner.
    5- And now it's a rope,
    6- a string,
    7- a mere whisp...
    8- gone.
    Obviously all objects must fall at the same speed because the line between one object and two is fuzzy.
    We are willing to use mental experience to prove things to ourselves, even though we can't take it out and use it to prove the same idea to someone else.
    I keep Shabbos, or try my best to. I realize, in keeping Shabbos, that this complicated structure of avos melakhah, tolados, shevusim and outright derabbanans reflects a wisdom that can only inhere in the truth. Which then speaks to the authenticity of the halachic process which gave me that Shabbos experience. Including Maamud Har Sinai. And in fact, the text of the Torah which can be darshened as part of that process.
    Also, once I find the process reliable in giving me Shabbos, why wouldn't I come to trust it for everything else? After all my "faith" in science is also more based on trusting parents, teachers and books – sources of information -- than having done every experiment myself. Learning to trust a source, like learning to trust an experience, is standard validation technique, no less so than proof.
    I focused on Shabbos because it (1) tends to play that role lemaaseh in qiruv, and (2) is explicitly called "beini uvein Benei Yisrael, os hi le'olam". But it could be any mitzvah or limud, or the convergance of many of them.
    Thus, Shabbos is the os (among others) that convinces me of the reliability of Bereishis pereq 1's assertion that the world was created.

    1. When I began to analyze these issues, I adopted a number of axioms.

      1 - I can believe my senses.
      2 - standard human logic works
      3 - there probably is no absolute proof in terms of a deductive mathematical proof since that would contradict free will.

      There is enough logical, philosophical, historical and other forms of evidence to make the case for Orthodox Judaism overwhelming.

      Rabbi Dovid Gottlied discusses some of these.

      The theory of relativity is only a theory. There is no absolute proof for it. There are many problems and yet scientists continue to use it. There is no absolute proof for almost anything.

    2. I am curious why free will is such a central part of Jewish philosophy. In the time of neviim, there were open miracles, yet people exercised their freewill, and chose not to follow revealed nevuah.
      Why would a reasonable logical proof negate freewill?

      Rabbi Gottlieb's arguments are not as logical as some people beleive. In fact in one of his revised essays, he concedes that his own argument (that he has been using for the last 25 years) is false. But this is only since a professor at Bar Ilan impressed it on him. So does that mean that all the people who relied on his false argument have been conned?

      What is the use of saying "yes, everything I told u , and that I believed and convinced thousands of people to believe is false,but my new theory is true, and you must accept it"?

      This goes for other arguments like the computer codes etc, which are also misleading, and can be manipulated.

    3. Eddie,

      Which argument did Rabbi Gottlieb concede is false? And where can I find this?

    4. Betzalel

      his original Kuzari argument.

      There was a discussion on the OS website, where he wrote a response to a secular critique, and in a footnote he admits that his Kuzari argument is false. He then proposes a new modified Kuzari 2 argument (but this is not realyl any better)

    5. I have checked . The note I saw was about 10 years ago. The current edit has apparently changed , and the note is no longer there. He now claims that the 2 principles are consistent and not contradictory.
      The issue here is that the writer of the letter has doubts about the Mesora.

      So, whether or not some people like the Kuzari type arguments, it is up to the author of the letter to decide if it is rational.

    6. Eddie, can you please provide a link? I'm looking at but I can't find any admission by Rabbi Gottlieb that his Kuzari argument is invalid.

  9. I have dovined with rabbi gotlieb and all of the chazans repetition he is learning from a sefer , a flagrent violation of halacha... I cant learn from such a person...

    1. sorry but your knowledge of halacha is wrong. I personally observed Rav Ruderman zt"l learning from a sefer during the repetition of the chazan. He only stopped when he heard that Rav Moshe was makpid not to do it

  10. Before claiming that earlier proofs must be irrelevant (ie Kuzari), do make sure you understand them and glean whatever you can from them.

    This proof of the Kuzari does not state that somebody reported 600k saw this. Our tradition is that we all saw this ourselves. There is no other comparable tradition in the history of mankind as nobody could pull off this scale of hoax convincing all these people that they themselves saw and experienced this, to the extent that they actually report this as fact to their children for all generations.

    Similarly, see Devorim P' Va'eschonon (ch. 4) where the centrality of this experience is emphasized at the beginning of the chapter and where later this very question is asked -- if another nation had had such a revelation and lived to tell about it as we did. Apparently there is an oriental tradition of just such a type of revelation which was followed by a plague upon return and only 4 survived to tell the tale... They of course convinced everybody else of what had happened to these 4 and to all who had perished...

    1. The Kuzari itself is arguing that the historical events took place, eg Exodus from Egypt, parting of the Red Sea.

      I am not aware of Kuzari actually using this argument to prove that the entire Torah script we have today is identical to what MOses wrote. In fact, it is not. Moses wrote in ancient Hebrew text, whereas what we have is in Aramaic text.

  11. a few thoughts
    1. i think you need to ask the same question about the basis of your belief in other facts. Do you accept that the fundamental particle of the world is an atom? That atoms are comprised of quarks? I am not, of course, disputing these facts, but merely asking why YOU accept them as true. These facts are quite counterintuitive and are not confirmed by any sensory data. Even more so, the vast majority of people accept what is written in our science books without any firm basis. Now, why dont you check what your REAL de facto criterion of belief is, and apply that to these questions
    More later, time permitting

    1. As a general rule, whenever something is stated as science by scientists, nobody questions it, because people are conditioned to believe that whatever is scientific is factual.

      But if you give an argument based on reason that contradicts science, people are conditioned to reject the reasoning, because it's not scientific.

      In today's world, science trumps reason.

  12. Sorry DT there is no heter in the world, see mishna brura

    1. you can be as sorry as you want but your are wrong. Citing the Mishna Berura doesn't meant that there is no other view in the world. Rav Ruderman also knew halacha and he obviously was well aware of the Mishna Berura.

    2. מגן אברהם סימן קכד ס"ק ח

      ח (פמ"ג) (מחה"ש) יש להם לשתוק - עיין בתשו' מ"ע על האנשים שלומדי' בעת חזרת הש"ץ התפלה או אומרים תחנונים אם מכוונים לסוף הברכה לענות אמן כראוי אין למחות בידם אבל בס' ווי העמודים קרא תגר עליהם וכ"מ ממ"ש סי' צ' סי"ח:

    3. שו"ת אגרות משה אורח חיים חלק ד סימן יט

      עיון בספר בזמן חזרת הש"ץ עש"ק ד' אייר תשל"ד. מע"כ ידידי הנכבד מאד מו"ה ר' זלמן אריה הילזענראד שליט"א.

      הנה בדבר עיון בספר בזמן חזרת הש"ץ, עיין במג"א סימן קכ"ד סק"ח שהביא מתשובת מ"ע דהאנשים שלומדים בעת חזרת הש"ץ התפלה אם מכוונים לסוף הברכה לענות אמן כראוי אין למחות בידם, משמע שסובר דכל השתיקה היא רק כדי שיוכל לומר אמן שלזה סגי בכוונה לידע סוף הברכה על מה עונה אמן, שלכן סובר שליכא איסור ואין למחות בידם, אך מסיק דבספר ווי העמודים קרא תגר עליהם וציין /שו"ע או"ח/ לסימן צ' סעי' י"ח שכתב שם הרמ"א לענין אחר דאפילו מי שתורתו אומנתו שמדינא יש לו להתפלל בביהמ"ד שקבע ללמוד בו אפילו בלא עשרה דאפ"ה לא ירגיל עצמו לעשות כן שלא ילמדו עמי הארץ ממנו ויתבטלו מבית הכנסת וגם מסיק וכ"ש שלא יעסוק בתורה בבהכ"נ בזמן שהצבור אומרים סליחות ותחנונים ויליף משם גם ללמוד בזמן חזרת הש"ץ שאף שהוא עושה כדין מ"מ לא יעשה כן ומוחים בו כדי שלא ילמדו אחרים ממנו והם לא יכוונו גם לסוף הברכה, עיין במחצה"ש ובפמ"ג שפירשו כן כוונת המג"א.

      אבל לע"ד נראה דהוא רק כשאיכא עשרה ששומעין חזרת הש"ץ ולא מפסיקין כלל שלהאחרים הם סוברים שמותר מדינא ללמוד לאלו שיוכלו לכוין לסוף הברכה לענות אמן אי לאו הא דילמדו אחרים ממנו, אבל כשליכא עשרה אסור מדינא, דהא תקנת חזרת הש"ץ היתה לאלו שהיה מוציא אותם בתפלת י"ח, ומפורש כן בסעיף ג' דכתב קהל שהתפללו וכולם בקיאין בתפלה אעפ"כ ירד ש"ץ וחוזר להתפלל כדי לקיים תק"ח =תקנת חכמים=, והוא מתשובת הרמב"ם שהביא הב"י מהר"ד אבודרהם עיין שם, וא"כ הרי צריך להיות ממש כפי התקנה שתיקנו להוציא את שאינו בקי דצריך דוקא שישמעו לכל מה שאומר הש"ץ וצריך שיהיו עשרה השומעין דוקא דהא תפלת י"ח אין יכול אחד להוציא את חברו כדאיתא בירושלמי פ"ג דברכות ה"ג ר' יוסי ור' אדא בן פזי הוו מתיבין אמרו לא מסתברא בק"ש שיהא כל אחד משנן בפיו לא מסתברא בתפלה שיהא כל או"א =אחד ואחד= מבקש רחמים על עצמו והובא בר"ן סוף ר"ה ד"ה יחיד, אבל בשביל האינם בקיאין תיקנו ענין חדש דתפלה ע"י ש"ץ שהוא דוקא בעשרה ובתפלה זו יוצאין מצות תפלה האינם בקיאין, וחייבו זה לכל צבור, והארכתי בענין זה בחדושי בסוף ראש השנה, וזהו מש"כ הטור שם מתשובת הרא"ש דכשאין תשעה המכוונים בברכות ש"צ קרוב בעיני להיות ברכת ש"ץ לבטלה כי נתקנה ברכות ש"ץ לאומרם בעשרה, וזה שכתב קרוב אבל לא ממש עיין בדרישה בשם הב"י דהוא משום דאם התחילו בעשרה גומר הש"ץ אף כשיצאו מקצתן, משמע דבתחלה כשלא יכוונו עשרה לברכות הש"ץ יהיה ממש ברכה לבטלה, ואף אם לא יכוונו עשרה לשאר הברכות הרי הם ממילא לפ"ז כאילו יצאו שאיתא בירושלמי על היוצאין בפ"ד ממגילה ה"ד ועל כולם הוא אומר ועזבי ה' יכלו והובא ברי"ף וברא"ש שם, והוא דוקא כשלא הניחו עשרה כדאיתא ברמ"א /או"ח/ סימן נ"ה סעי' ב' בשם המרדכי, וא"כ הטעם הוא על שגרם שיאמר הש"ץ שאר הברכות בלא עשרה, שממילא כיון שמי שאינו מכוין להש"ץ אינו נמנה מהעשרה ומה שאינו לבטלה הוא משום דגומר גם ביצא הרי א"כ גם לענין חשיבות ועוזבי ה' נמי יש להחשיבו כיצא לכאורה. שלכן מוכרחין לומר דתשובת מ"ע הוא רק באיכא עשרה מכוונין להש"ץ סובר דאין למחות בידם אף שאין עושין כהוגן דהא כל אדם צריך לעשות עצמו כאילו אין ט' זולתו, ובמג"א מסיק בשם ווי העמודים דגם צריך למחות מטעם שילמדו ממנו, אבל כשליכא ט' אסור מדינא אף שיכול לכוין לסוף הברכה ולענות אמן ויקרא בשם ועוזבי ה', ולכן אסור ללמוד בשעת חזרת הש"ץ בכל אופן יש מדינא ויש מטעם המג"א. והנני ידידו, משה פיינשטיין.

    4. שו"ת הרמ"ע מפאנו סימן קב

      שמינית - מי שהוא בקי בתפלה והתפלל בלחש עם הצבור מהו שיעסוק בתורה בשעה ששליח צבור יורד להוציא את שאינו בקי ובלבד שיענה אמן, ואף על פי שלפעמים לא ידע על איזו ברכה הוא עונה הנפת סודרים של אלכסנדריא תוכיח.

      תשובה, רוב העולם אינם נזהרים וקורין בסדר קרבנות וכיוצא בשעה שש"צ יורד אף על גב דלא יאות עבדין ובכל כי האי גוונא איכא משום הנח להם - וכיון דגלו דעתייהו שאינן מכוונים לצאת אף על פי שיענו לפעמים ואינם יודעים על איזו ברכה אין כאן אמן יתומה כמפורש בירושלמי הביאו הרב בפרק שלשה שאכלו, ולא עוד אלא שהם פטורים מן הדין מעניית אמן שהעוסק במצוה פטור מן המצוה, ואם ענו מצוה קעבדי ובכלל מצווה ועושה נינהו דהא מצווים הם בכך אלא שדבר אחר גורם להם ליפטר לפי שעה והמה מ"מ חוטפים את המצוה ובידם שתים כאבוה של רבי יוסי בן החוטף אפרתי שנזכר במשנה דכלאים בסוף פרק ג' הנקרא כן על שם שהיה חוטף מצות מן השוק ומזכירין אותו לשבח, אבל באלכסנדריא של מצרים יודעים היו על ידי הנפת סודרין אם היא ברכה ראשונה שנייה או שלישית - ואנו מחזיקים עצמנו בקיאים להתחייב בתפלה שלא יהא ש"צ מוציא אותנו וראוי שנספק בעצמנו בבלתי בקיאים שאם לא כיוננו כל הצורך נכוין לצאת בשעה שש"צ יורד ועם זה אנו נכנסים לספק אמן יתומה, ומה טוב שלא לעסוק בדברים אחרים ולכוין ולענות אמן.

  13. Dt You are megala panim btorah... There is no other opinion... R ovodia has a 5 page responce that hashem hates this ... Even though the MB does not have smicha like u always say, he is the לשכת הגזית
    Rav ruderman made a mistKe and did tsuva

    1. you are wrong. Rav Ruderman did say he had made a mistake in his regular practice of learning during the repetition and said he was only changing a life long practice because Rav Moshe was against it. Please read the Igros Moshe and what he says about the Magen Avraham. It seems clear from the sources I cited that it was a widespread practice and the main concern was that the ignorant would learn from this not to take the repetition seriously. Don't understand how you read
      ח (פמ"ג) (מחה"ש) יש להם לשתוק - עיין בתשו' מ"ע על האנשים שלומדי' בעת חזרת הש"ץ התפלה או אומרים תחנונים אם מכוונים לסוף הברכה לענות אמן כראוי אין למחות בידם

      Especially applying this to your criticism of Rabbi Gottlieb.

      when I was in Yeshiva my rebbe told me that it was preferable to learn in a sefer then to let your mind wander.

      It could be that in the Sefardi world this was taken as a greater problem then it was in Lita. But the bottom line you assertion that there is no other view is simply wrong

    2. Isn't this how the 2nd Beis Hamikdash was destroyed? Sinas Chinam - attacks on others for not being frum enough.

      Tourist, if you want to attack a great rabbi who has done a lot for the Jewish people including myself, at least have the guts to say your real name.

  14. As i said the law is like the mishna brura. The poskim you bring are affer the fact.
    Indeed this practice is widespread. The gemora i. ברכות says tefilla stands at the top of the world and people מזלזל in this. As rav steinman said recently perhaps this is many are suffering.
    As for r gotleib shlita , as a teacher of the fundementals of yiddishkiet i feel he must מדקדק in basic mishna brura ( which is really the דין of shulhan oruch.

    1. Basically you are saying that you are not going to accept the authority or competence of anyone who goes against the Mishna Berura - that is your perogative. But to publicly criticize Rabbi Gottleib - who is a very solid talmid chachom - because he disagrees with you in this matter is very problematic - especially in light of the Magen Avraham and Igros Moshe.

      So you are really criticizing Ohr Someach, the Bostoner Rebbe zt"l and many others for welcoming him as a very successful teacher of probably many thousands through the years - because he accepts what the Magen Avraham and Igros Moshe says is the din and that one should not criticize one him?!

    2. No body is obligated to be madakdek in mishnu brura.
      You are a chasid shoteh,your opinian about anything dos not kovea Idishkait.

  15. Dt... If you would do this i woundt raise an eyebrow... They say you dovin from an i- Phone...

    1. I see you are really a letz and there is no reason to waste time on your self-righteous pronouncments

  16. The gemmora often says איש חשוב שאני . To pray from an iphone is certainly not asur but not fitting for a leader.

  17. You ממש magaleh panim in torah... TheMA says not to protest but permit.
    All rabbis forbid iPhone ok , but in public , to dovin is not a חוצפה ?

    1. tourist to be generous - you are a chasid shoteh. You are busy proclaiming who is a shegez and yet you readily accept lashon harah about me without even asking if it is true. I don't own and iphone nor do I daven from one. I only own a kosher phone. I am not publishing anymore comments of yours

    2. For an example of how legend regarding events seen by a whole nation transform into belief, the Gemara says that king og of Bashan lifted a massive boulder to throw on the entire jewish people. Hashem sent ants to bite the rock bagel shaped, it fell on his shoulders, and his teeth grew long so he could not remove it. Moshe then jumped up, hit the giant on the ankle and he died. Jews reading this gemara consider it testimony seen by 600,000 adult jews. However, the rashba on ein yaakov writes that such a story is impossible and it is only a parable. This proves you can get people to believe something 600,000 people purportedly saw.

    3. An properly educated talmid chachom does not. Those who have read the Rambam,Ramban, Hirsch Maharal, Chasam Sofer and other are well aware of the issue of Agada and don't claim that everything described must have been witnessed by 600,000.

      Thus all you are saying is that there are some people with mistaken beliefs. As I said the educated class, the leaders the baalei mesora do not insist such things and they are the one who count.

    4. The Kuzari argument claims that people would not believe something that is false, therefore if enough people believe something it must have happened. This is a fallacy.

      Some examples:

      * In 1st Temple times, majority of Klal Yisrael believed in idols, and in the actions of their false gods. The Neviim are constantly fighting these lies.

      * After the 1st Hurban, the Jews wish to go to Egypt and defy Jeremiah's prophetic instructions. They say they prefer to follow the way of their fathers (mesora) than listen to an old prophet!

      * Throughout history, people have perpetuated lies, whether about Jews or anything else, and these lies have been believed. In "islamdom" it is "well known" that the Jews and Zionists plotted to bring down the WTC on 9/11. Why would perhaps a billion people accept such a lie if the Kuzari principle was a true law of ontology, psychology, and human history?

    5. Eddie,

      The Kuzari Principle only pertains to claims in which their veracity can easily be checked. It doesn't pertain to the examples you gave.

    6. Betzalel,

      You mean the Kuzari's argument, or that espoused in his name by Rabbi Dr. Gottlieb?

      If the veracity of let's say the parting of the red sea can be checked easily, then we dont really need a Kuzari type argument, we would just consult our oracle. The same goes for all the other issues. If we can "ckeck the veracity of " Matan Torah , at Sinai, with 2 - 3 million witnesses, by scientific means, then why exactly do we need a Kuzari argument? It is a circular argument that you are making.

    7. Eddie,

      I mean Rabbi Gottlieb's formulation.

  18. Re the King Og of Bashan argument: First of all, I am not certain that every educated talmid chacham concurs with the Rashba. There are probably shitos that regard the story as true. Secondly, those who claim the belief in Sinai is something that developed from legend, are speaking of long ago times before a cadre of properly educated talmidei chachamim existed. So the argument persists: If thousands of regular people have accepted the Og story as literal truth for generations, the same could happy to a Sinai legend in days when people were less sophisticated.

  19. there is also an important point regarding the secularists and those who argue by archaeology.

    First, they often have ideological agendas, hence one Tel Aviv archaeologist called Herzog, who denies the history of the Torah, admitted on British TV that hsi motivation was advance the Palestinain statehood, by denying Israelite presence in Israel in biblical times.

    Next, there is a concept that says absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence. For example, there is no archaeological evidence of William the conqueror's conquest of England in 1066. this does not mean that the event did not take place.

    Third, there is strong archaeological evidence presented by a minority of archeologists, but the extreme left wing secularists deny their validity. So it is not a purely scientific issue, but political and ideological.

  20. There is a rabbi, Rabbi Yosef Mizrachi who deals with questions like this very effectively.

    He is probably one of the best lecturers I've ever heard on the subject of Torah. At least, I've never heard anyone better.

  21. Asher Pihem Diber ShavJuly 16, 2012 at 6:32 AM

    1) To judge a rabbi as a sinner based on him studying torah during repitition of shemona esrai, is rediculous. How judgemental are we going to be ? Not every Rabbi is on the Madregah of Moshe Rabbeinu. Let's cut our Rabbis some slack. He is thinking about torah learning for crying out loud !

    2) For those who came to the profound question that perhaps our religion is made up. That my friend is the first question that anyone who looks at any religion will ask. Reality is the Torah is the most logical of all religions, and is provable.

    3)For beginners, Our belief starts with belief in our sages. The same way an atheist, believes in the scientists as a whole, and doesn't really know too much about darwin, or evolution, he just is mevatel his daas to the scientist and based on that believes in athiesm, We as jews don't have to have all the answers or explanations to every medrash or gemara, nor the explanations to every verse of the torah and tanach. We are mevatel our Daas to our Gedolim. They include the Vilna Gaon, Rashi, Rambam, Rabbi Akiva, Hillel, and all the tzaddikim who understood the torah all that much better than us. Their words and teachings are pure. We read them and understand the purity and wisdom, Although we don't know all the answers to every explanation.

    I am really surprised at those who believe the question of "How do you know it is all real?" is so profound. It isn't. It is a simple question. The simple answer is bittul hadaas, and of course for those who are a bit above that, Daas itself. Proof does not mean that you can't say otherwise. It doesn't mean beyond a shadow of a doubt (initially). It means what makes sense vs. what doesn't make sense.

    Let's start with a few points. It makes sense that the world is the creation of God. It doesn't make sense that Mickey Mouse made the world. It makes sense that the purpose of the world is a challenge to battle the evil inclination. It doesn't make sense that the purpose of the world is to watch the Yankees/Red Sox. It makes sense that the good will be rewarded and the evil punished. It doesn't make sense that the evil will never recieve punishment nor that the good will never recieve reward. Eventually for those who seek the truth, and inquire truthfully, they will reach proof beyond a shadow of a doubt, However it isn't the initial step.

    Belief in Hashem is the beginning to our religion. Belief in the Torah and Exodus of Egypt and our nation is the second step. Mashiach and Techiyas hameisim. Belief in the Nevuah of Moshe Rabbeinu. I think the Rambam got it right. See his 13 Ani Maamins. They are the foundation.

    1. Mr. APDS

      I don’t quite understand what the point of your comment is.

      The letter writer asked “How do we know that the Mesora is True”, meaning he was looking for a good reason to believe in the validity of the contents of the Mesora and your response is “because it’s true”, and it’s true because people that I blindly trust say so.

      Not very helpful.

      You are, of course, welcome to have “emunah peshuta”, but the fact is that we live in a time when more and more people will accept or believe only in matters that can be supported by at least some reasonable evidence or with some very strong logic (and the Kuzari principle is not all that strong).

      Unfortunately, IMHO traditional Judaism is failing in its response to this challenge.

  22. I don't have anything to add to the discussion personally, but I strongly suggest you listen to Rav Aharon Lopiansky shlit"a's lectures on hashkafah. They are remarkably nuanced and thoughtful on these issues.

    KT Ariel Segal

  23. It's a bit late, but if the original person asking the question is still around I would just like to say the following.

    I know many Orthodox people and Rabbis who are more than happen to state that Joshua had his hand in the writing of the Torah.

    Here in Israel it is not uncommon for people to acknowledge that the Torah and the Book of Joshua say as much.

    You don't have to be a conservative Jew to understand that the history of the Torah we have in our hands is complex and nuanced.

    The problem with people admiting this however, is that they assume that as soon as you talk about the Torah not being 100% all of Moshe's hand writing, then they think you are talking about the Torah not being given over in the Desert at all, or are talking about a time much later than Yehoshua. So they just try to silence it and not get confused.

  24. Look at ארחות יושר chapter 30 page 104 where rav chaim k anevski says one will be punished for learning during. חזרת השץ.

  25. Sorry, this is 2 years old, but I found the source. The Kuzari principle that R' Gottlieb has been teaching for 20 years , is in his own admission false. " Once again, I would like to express my
    appreciation to Ephraim Rubin for the care and effort he took to write
    this review. My only regret is that he did not spend more time on the
    Kuzari Principle. In fact, as it is formulated in the text he reviewed,
    it is false. A professor of classics pointed this out to me, and the
    necessary changes have been made in the new version. I am sure that if Rubin had devoted more time to it, he too would have found that fault.
    Perhaps he will yet find others. I look forward to seeing his thoughts
    on this and any other matters related to Living Up to the Truth."

    scroll to bottom

    Now, although he claims his new formulation is somehow true, this is what he claimed for his original version too! A rational analysis will show the new one is equally false.


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