Friday, March 17, 2023

Rejecting Agada is not heresy - R SR Hirsch

 Rav S. R. Hirsch (Letter on Agada): Without doubt the greatness and loftiness of the wisdom and ethics of our Sages found in their Agada and Medrash is beyond measure. It is certain that they planted in their orchards of wisdom the knowledge and understanding that their pure spirits drew from the springs of Torah and mitzvos. That is why they glorified and praised the words of Agada which draws a person’s heart and brings him to love his Father in Heaven. In addition, since even the ordinary conversation of a Torah scholar needs to be studied, so surely this is true of the statements our Sages made with the intent of teaching and improving us. There is nothing in Agada which is meaningless and if it seems that way it is entirely because of our inability to comprehend. Nevertheless, our Sages put a great barrier between Agada and Halacha by stating that one does not learn Halacha from Agada and that Agadic statements do not have to be consistent with each other. This makes sense in my opinion since Agadic statements are not built upon Tradition from Sinai which is the basis for the covenant that was created there. They are in fact based entirely upon the individual human reasoning of wise men. It is quite obvious that any genuinely intelligent person will readily submit to each and every one of our Sages even for matters that are not from Tradition but concerning human reasoning. Furthermore, each one of our Sages is greater than all of us put together and that we are like grasshoppers in relationship to their greatness. Nevertheless, Agada is not part of our obligation to accept as Jews. Therefore, if a person’s reasoning leads him to reject any statement of Agada he is not considered as a heretic. This is especially true since the Sages themselves differ on so many issues and there is no rule whose view is authoritative as there is concerning halacha.


  1. This deflates the Meiselman Science bubble.

  2. Chazal said stuff that could not be taken literally, like talking about frogs the size of a town and then saying "I myself saw it!"
    Well no, he didn't and he very well knew that so why did he say it? Because he was, as a Torah teacher, trying to teach us. And too many of us are the kinds of folks who really believe there's a talking scorpion out there looking for a talking fish to carry him across the river.


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