Monday, December 24, 2007

On J-Blogosphere Epistemology

Making Gedolim out of K'tanim


It’s been quite a fortnight here at DovBear. Yours truly taking "the legends" of the Septuagint and the origins of Targum Onkelos more or less at face value (I’m in good company). The Ba’al Hablog implying that Khazal are a group of no-nothing, myth-making and believing ahistorical morons. Rav Elkhonon Wasserman accused of shoveling BS because he is skeptical of the human capacity for objectivity in the pursuit of the truth and Little Foxling taking deep, “you’ve cut me to the bone”, offense at same. The Ba’al Hablog believing the veracity of a patently obvious spoof. The Ba’al HaBlog pillorying Rabbi Yitzchak Adlerstein for positing that some Hashqofos are beyond the pale while no doubt sharing that conviction but desiring to allocate to himself the authority for who determines the boundaries of “the pale”. A learned debate about whether or not airing noxious or dangerous ideas are analogous to drug dealing.

In a word, it’s been a time when we’ve been debating, perhaps a bit more vigorously than usual, what is truth, whom/what to believe, who’s proposals even deserve serious consideration and how our vested interests color and skew our organization of reality.

IMHuO the only human being who processed the truth with 100% clarity was Moshe Rabenu. It’s no accident that he was preeminent both in humility (ג וְהָאִישׁ מֹשֶׁה, עָנָו מְאֹד--מִכֹּל, הָאָדָם, אֲשֶׁר, עַל-פְּנֵי הָאֲדָמָה. ) and in prophecy(ו וַיֹּאמֶר, שִׁמְעוּ-נָא דְבָרָי; אִם-יִהְיֶה, נְבִיאֲכֶם--יְהוָה בַּמַּרְאָה אֵלָיו אֶתְוַדָּע, בַּחֲלוֹם אֲדַבֶּר-בּוֹ
ז לֹא-כֵן, עַבְדִּי מֹשֶׁה: בְּכָל-בֵּיתִי, נֶאֱמָן הוּא) =G-d-knowledge = reality comprehension. He achieved utter self-abnegation. Being ego-less, lacking self-importance, he had no self-interest and was able to let the truth and reality chips fall where they may. This is what Khazal may have meant when they said that he prophesied באספקלרי-ה המאירה. For the balance of human history people have been filtering their perceptions through the prism of their own personalities, experieneces, psychological baggage and agendas. So we are all subjective. We all want to shoot our arrows first and paint our bulls-eyes later. So what hope do poor subjective beings have of apprehending any objective truth? I think our best shot is to have the “right” self-interests (bringing us back to RYA). And which self-interests are the “right” ones? Those that lead us towards being talmidim= disciples of the first and last objective human being who WAS objective., Moshe Rabenu. IOW by plugging oneself into Torah U’Mesorah, the chain that leads us back to Sinai.

In today’s NY post the caption below the Picture contains a quote by the pseudonymous artist of the hoax “photo” IronKite; “Sometimes people seem so desperate to believe in something that they lie to themselves.” I couldn’t agree more.

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