Monday, August 20, 2007


Not an existential question – more a rhetorical device explaining, in part, why I infest worthwhile J-blogs.

Should Torah be taken literally? Of course not – that would defy reason. Which I can do very well indeed, but I refuse to chuck science and the scientific method out the window. Does the Torah even need in any way to be taken as the unalloyed and unvarnished truth, or should we better see it as preambular to a weltanschauung and a foundation for an intellectual methodology?

[Both that weltanschaung and that intellectual methodology find splendid expression in the Talmudic literature; throughout, divergent opinions suggest that rigid and singular monolithmus of ideology is neither natural nor desirable. Certainly this is quite different from the thought-world of certain other ‘Abrahamic’ belief-systems.]

Do either the Torah or RSO actually benefit from our belief? Or are either better served by our doubt and consequent need to argue these matters? Better to ask how such conviction even serves us. In the same way that a convinced disbeliever has already given up the battle, a firm believer makes no progress either, and a literalist may be moving backward. Fine good, you’ve accepted the Torah word for word as the precise truth, this is davka how it happened, Hashem is our/your god, Hashem is one..... what on earth is your mind actually doing here? Are any synapses actually firing, or is there a slow process of mental decay taking place?

Such certainty cannot be good. It does not challenge, and it does not lead to change. Even Moses questioned and wondered till the end of his days. The tension and the dynamic of debate and disagreement is what keeps faith alive and on the surface. You have been blessed with more intelligent and more informed heretics than other religions.

Please, discuss among yourselves.

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