Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Herd Slifkin Speak (get it? HEARD! hahaha)

by Cousin Oliver

Recently I attended two of Rabbi Natan Slifkins lectures.

The first one I heard was "The Animal Kingdom in Jewish Thought". It was a lecture about the relationship Jews should have with animals. The lectures are to help promote books and the book corresponding to this lecture is "Man and Beast" which he was pimping nicely. Rabbi Slifkin mentioned a few animals in tanach. He explained that the reason the Tzvi is commonly translated to deer is because in Europe, where most translations and explanations occurred, the closest thing resembling the description of a Tzvi was a deer. A Tzvi actually is a gazelle. He continued with the differentiation of man and animal and the approach that Jews should take to animals. Rabbi Slifkin explained about how some organizations and activists feel that animals are equal to humans and how completely incorrect this is. Other ideas touched on were eating animals, hunting animals, wearing animals, medical research, etc. Rabbi Slifkin said that in regard to harming animals for human benefit, the benefit should outweigh the pain. For example: If hurting a monkey might find a cure for cancer, then we are saddened to pain the monkey but understand that result could be much more beneficial to the world. The major point of the lecture was that animals have their place in this world (food, for example). They should be respected for what they are. Above all else: The distinction of Jewish attitude towards animals. Instead of being kind to animals for the sake of the animal, Jews should be kind to animals because we are kind people within ourselves.

The second lecture was entitled "The Terror of Dinosaurs". It was a lecture that mirrored his book, "The Challenge of Creation". He started off by passing around pieces of dinosaur history millions of years old. Passed to me was an old egg shell. It was a very old egg shell (millions of years old). The point of the display was to show that dinosaurs existed. Once he showed they existed, he needed to explain two big problems: 1- Science tells us that dinosaurs lived millions of years ago while the Torah says the Earth was created only 5,767 years ago. 2- Dinosaurs aren't mentioned in the Torah, what gives? In order to prove that the earth is billions of year's old, dinosaurs are millions of years old, he first addressed the apparent contradiction with the Torahs 5,767 years of Earth. To do this, he took each common answer that tries to make Torah and Science mesh and explains why it is not a satisfactory answer. I got to see an entire room of people watch the six days of creation get thrown way up in the air and blown away with a bazooka. The world, our world, is billions of year's old- end of story. The dinosaurs aren't included in the Torah because there is no reason to include them. We can learn things about their existence but they have no relevance in the torah. The big point of this lecture was that: The Torah is not a book of history or science. It is a book of Theology.

I know I am being vague and I am reluctant to say any more because I think people should throw a buck his way to get his book or get him to lecture.

My overall thoughts on the lectures: They were spiced well with humor. His progression of topics and outline was good. His accent seems to be bastardized British. The material is needed to be said and spread. As a speaker: a 6 or 7 of 10. I was very pleased with the lectures. They were well thought out and enjoyable. I would recommend him to a friend.


No comments: