Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Halacha != Aggada.

Yus is starting to bore me. Our favorite sputterer of unsupported assertions is hard at work here (Scroll up. Scroll down. He is everywhere) confusing agaada with halacha. Like most overly pius fools, he presumes that they are one and the same, and that disagreeing with one is categorically the same as disagreeing with the other. A choice comment:

My acceptance of Chazal in all areas is based on my rock-solid trust and respect for their statements in both the arena of Agad'ta and Halacha. Statements which are based on a continuous chain of Mesorah.
Big words, but mostly bogus. Let's unpack it shall we?

1 - Acceptance of chazal in all areas? All areas? Including science? Well, no. Yus is quick to make a distinction: "Aside from science, you cannot pick and choose what you will accept and what you won't" So when he says he accepts chazal in "all" areas he means "every area except those areas in which they have been shown to be incorrect." That's a useful rule to remember. Unfortunately, for Yussy, its not limited to science, as their history, in places, has been found to be spotty, too.

2 - Rock solid trust and respect for for their statements in both the arena of Agad'ta and Halacha? That sounds swell, I suppose, but where the rubber hits the road its bogus. Unless Yus is insane, which I concede is a possibility, he doesn't actually believe every last one of the many tall tales recorded in the Talmud. And unless he is the most chumredik Jew in the history of the world, he doesn't actually obey every last one of the halachic statements found in the Talmud. Like the rest of us, he follows the majority and/or accepts the precedant. So when he says he treats the words of the Sages with"rock solid trust and respect" he means it academically, or maybe in the PC way in which certain liberals "respect" foreign cultural practices they themselves would never dream of following. All that is super, and way to go Yus, but honestly no different from how I - or any of the others on the thread - regard the disregarded statements of Chazal.

3 - Statements which are based on a continuous chain of Mesorah? Ok, I am going to say something important so I shall bold it and express it using large text: Halacha != Aggada. They are categorically different. One (ie halacha) is religiously binding; the other (ie aggada) is not. Additionally, as anyone who cares to think about it has realized, aggadic statements are NOT based on a continuous chain of Mesorah. How could they be when almost all of them describe events that occurred long after Sinai? How could they be when we have been given outright and explicit permission by more than one rishon to pick and choose among aggadic statements and even to reject them outright? (See Mvo L'Talmud, Maamar al haagadot, the Rashbam the Ran, SRH, the Ramban, and countless others) Previous generations understood the difference between law and exegesis, and did not confuse the two.

Oy meh hoya lonu.

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