Thursday, February 14, 2013

More about the Vaad of Toronto

This may look like a very lazy post, but really I just want you guys to see and discuss two comments left by "Guest" and "Chakira" on an old post.

In brief, neither of them think I am justified in criticizing the Vaad of Toronto for their recent decree about how all Orthodox Jews need to believe that the Torah in its entirety was transmitted by God through Moshe.

As I pointed out, (1) You can't issue a decree about a historical fact: Either it happened or it didn't happen, and no Vaad can change that; and (2) Loads of fine and famous Jews didn't believe that "the Torah in its entirety was transmitted by God through Moshe." The list includes Tannaim and Rishonim. Does the Vaad really think (to paraphrase their deathless prose) that these greats are estranged from the pale of Orthodox Judaism?

But see the whole thing after the jump:

    • Guest
      There is an interesting conversation here to be had, but this post does not foster it.
      I'd like to see the original sources, over the years they have gotten jumlbed in my head, however...
      1. There is a "halacha" which says that if someone claims that Moshe put in a word or law and not Gd then such a person can not be part of the Jewish community.  This means comments about "Joshua writing the words" is meaningless, because it's still Gd putting the words down.
      2. Yosef Tov Elum is basically saying point 1.  A prophet (not a random scribe) can be told by Gd to change a word in the Torah, because the Torah is the word of Gd not Moshe.3. The vad's letter states one thing which you claim is false, (A fundemental principle) and saying a second thing which you have not argued against (a halacha)   However, this post is claiming that the Vad treats the "fundemental principle" as a "halacha" but they don't.  The attack on the vad in this post is unwarranted.
      If you don't like the fundamental principle then argue with the Rambam, not the Vaad. 

    • DovBear Moderator 0 minutes ago in reply to Guest
      If you don't like the fundamental principle then argue with the Rambam, not the Vaad
      No the argument is with the Vaad, not the Rambam, because they have misunderstood and misapplied his principle. 
      Yosef Tov Elum is disagreeing with the claim that every word was transmitted by God through Moshe, which the Vaad says (paragraph 1) is fundamental and (paragraph 3) can not be denied by an Orthodox Jew.
      Well, lots of Jews - famous Jews, Jews we call Tannaim and Rishonim - DID deny it, which is why I mocked the Vaad for attempting to excommunicate them. 

    • Chakira 12 hours ago
      "Rabbi Yehuda and the Ibn Ezra" lived a long time ago. Its not surprising they might've turned out to be wrong on some subsequently proven points of doctrine. Do you assume that since Newton was unimpeachable as a physicist in his time that everything he said remains subsequently true? What a blinkered and pessimistic worldview. If Ibn Ezra and Rabbi Yehuda were the last word, doctrine would be stuck in the past and that would be terrible. The Rabbis aren't historians. They are reading contemporary "Hashkafa" and "Machshava" like R Moshe Shapiro and other post-R Tzadok, post-R Kook, post-Hassiduth and post-Maharal writers. These expositors are more given to inerrantist views thanks to 1) a more progressivistic view of revelation unfolding through TSBP etc 2) higher level of immanentism, and 3) commitment to hypersemic hermeneutics of Torah, to put it broadly. Contexts change and mentalities change too. 

    • DovBear Moderator 0 minutes ago in reply to Chakira
      Contexts change and mentalities change too.
      But reality doesn't change. Look (a) either EVERY word came from God through
      Moshe or (b) every word did not come from God through Moshe. There is no middle
      ground (the Vaad's use of the word "every" makes this an either/or proposition),
      and we're not ever going to know which of the two ideas is the correct idea.
      So the question becomes, "which of the two ideas is it permissible for a Jew
      to believe"
      The fact that lots of great Rabbis believed (b) every word did not come
      from God through Moshe means the Vaad has over-reached its authority by
      announcing that such a belief is "beyond the pale"
      PS Your Newton analogy is balls because we don't toss out his ideas on the basis of changes in mentality or new conceptions of piety. We toss out his ideas only when new and better arguments defeat them. The Vaad hasn't defeated the ibn Ezra with an argument. They've simply told him to shut up. 


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