Ben Avuyah

Welcome to the Pardess.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Oy, My Mom would be so Proud !

She would too, if only she knew that I had been listed in the Rabbinical Council of America’s , “Blogs a Rabbi must follow” skeptic listing.

And while I am sure Gil Student just picked a few skeptics out of the grab bag, I bid him a heartfelt thank you, as I am honored to be mentioned, even if the RCA was just a few Rebbis who showed up for the food service. I would be thrilled if even one Rabbi comes here to read this post, and I will try not to waste the opportunity to get at the heart of what I and many others find to be the most troubling aspects of religion, orthodoxy, and faith.

Of course this blog has been evolving for over a year now (cripes ! I’ve missed my own anniversary…I guess I’ll have to take myself out for a romantic dinner.) And a good recap of my emotional and intellectual religious woes can be ascertained as they begin to make me uncomfortable as an observant Jew. Here they are as they progress take on form and solidify , although you should probably note that most of my main points of view have been expressed not on this blog but on the Godol Hador blog, where many debates involving theology have been invoked in the name of free inquiry and resulted in melee of opposing viewpoints over the past year or two.

Indeed, my blog I have mostly devoted to the “Memoirs of the yeshiva misfit”one two and three, a few posts about hair(head and and beard), one stab at Chasidic science fiction, and a bit of miscellaneous complaining about challah and the like.

But I understand that there are thousands of blogs that deal with skepticism, and I probably only have your attention for a few moments. So let me dive right into what I feel are the greatest problems with Orthodox Judaism.

I will only pause to tell you who you are talking to in everything but name. I am currently a practicing member of a Modern Orthodox synagogue. For all outward appearances I am a Modern Orthodox Jew. I might very well be the guy sitting next to you in shul!

Additionally I must add that I am torn about my early experiences in yeshiva, for although I have gone on to intellectually, “go off the derech”. Some of my fondest memories are of my Rebbim in Yeshiva, and I was impressed on many occasions as to the depth of their commitment and caring towards myself and my fellow bochurim. There were Rabbeim in my life who took my spiritual well being very personally, and I will never forget that devotion. I do not write what I write on this blog out of hate for Rabbinical Judaism, I write it out of love of honesty and truth. So please, feel welcome here, I do not hold ill will towards any of you.

In the spirit of brevity I will focus on only one topic this post, but I hope to make it the first of many, if any Rabbi's are actually reading, so let's optimisticaly call it number one !

Number 1: Science. I'd like to lead off up front with a “just say no” policy. I know you guys love to talk baseball and politics, but wen it comes to science just don’t dabble in it; don’t espouse to use it as a proof for either existence of God or other religious foibles. Just admit up front that it is not your field of expertise, and you will leave its interpretation and delivery to those who actually understand it.

There is nothing more damaging to the faith of Modern orthodox individuals, who understand science or work in the fields of medicine/research, and are familiar with statistics and evolutionary/biological science to hear Rabbis talk about science.

When I was in Yeshiva I noted the highly confusing dichotomy the yeshiva-light drew through the heart of science, and even then found it troubling. There were apparently two factions of scientists. One was a set of foul atheist marauders, who, due to their base desires to fornicate like animals, had devised a “theory” that men really are animals. In a yeshiva wide shmooze the bochurim were asked to “think” about how obviously wrong this was, as our Menahel said, “If I throw the pieces of a car off of the empire state building…. will they ever form a car on the way down?”, and that was the sum total of the Yeshiva opinion regarding evolution.

The second group of scientists, the ones who apparently made our telephones ring and our cars run, could be provisionally trusted, so long as they stuck to numbers and shied away from biology, and it was apparently only the cream of the crop of this said group, who through their greatest efforts, and in fact the culmination of Western science as we know it, had arrived at the unmitigated scientific proof of Judaism.....The Bible Codes. This was spoon fed to us at another shmooze in which the proven nature of our heritage was so obvious to the presenting “scientist” (who looked like a local Bal Habos upon whom they had surreptitiously bestowed a lab coat)that the conclusion of orthodox Judaism was nothing more or less than established fact. This fact was portrayed to be either unknown or ignored by the general masses outside the yeshiva world.

The difficulty arises, my dear Rabbis, when such young impressionable minds leave the yeshiva world, and realize that their Rabbi’s viewpoint about the “atheist agenda” suffers from every paranoid hallmark of the conspiracy theorist's.... and then some.

After a first few biology and statistics classes, not only will a former yeshiva student realize that his Rebbi was an unwitting participant in an unbelievably narrow focus of the outside world, viewing it through an ethnocentric lens of prejudice and fear, in which a totally uninvolved biologist, who may only be peripherally aware of orthodoxy, is vividly pictured as "out to get us”. But also, and even more disturbing, that their greatly respected and revered Rebbi’s opinions and arguments for debunking evolution reveal a statistical and biological knowledge that is at a pre-high school level.

Rabosai, let go of this method, it can only be maintained so long as a child is sheltered, and we don’t live in the shtetle any more, so it’s not going to happen. It is a sure recipe for failure.

Think of where you leave your pupil, he has trusted in you, yes... that’s right…trust. Judaism is not a religion of repeat experimentation to validate results. He has trusted in your character to believe the “truths” about life, relationships, and the world at large. When he realizes that at the very least your views on science are unresearched, unfounded, and often flat out wrong….well, what do you expect he will do?

But it gets worse, for your intelligent students will have to start wondering. They will start to wonder how you, their Rebbi, knew that all of the Torah and Mishna and Gemara that they accepted as Gospel from your lips, were true. They will begin to rightfully questions what instruments you have in your “toolkit” for determining reality.

If it has just been frightfully revealed that your methodology for determining the validity of subject matter and logical ventures is so verily flawed, that it has allowed you to make these bizarre judgments about science, we must then wonder if it is universally flawed; and that the eighth grade toolkit with which you attempted to dis-assemble science is one in the same as the erector set buttressing Orthodoxy’s core principles.

Now your pupil is in a bad way, for almost any objective investigation into orthodoxy is going to lead to trouble, but what choice does he have ? Now that my friends, is a subject for another post !!!


(Rabosai, if any of you actually showed up, please feel free to comment, I don't bite (usually :-) )and I am excited to begin, what orthodoxy has been missing since it's very inception, an honest conversation between heretic and believer !)

58 Comments:

At 5:32 PM, Blogger David Guttmann said...

Very well presented. I just wonder why it is so important what your rebbis thought about science and religion? I went through quite right wing Yeshivos and never had any illusions about their,never mind scientific knowledge, but even philosophy. I always saw a disconnect between their teachings and reality. I always knew I would have to find my way alone. maye it is for the best. Things you work for have more value then when they are spoon fed.

Look around shul. How many people really care? Yeras ago i was sittind at seudah Shlishit and asked a fellow mispalel the meaning of Baruch Ata? Isn't it insulting to bless God when He should be blessing me? Would you bless a Gerer Rebbe or Bobover? Wouldn't he be insulted and the chassidim would probably beat you up? He got so incensed for my questioning and "philosophy" yelling at me to leave him alone.

 
At 6:01 PM, Blogger Mis-nagid said...

Can I say Amen?

 
At 6:09 PM, Blogger Ben Avuyah said...

David, you must have had a very strong character to have realized that so young, actualy, it's quite impressive. But many of us were not so lucky and had the misfortune of a dissallusionment that leaves one wondering what is real.

That is quite a story about shalosh seudos, I typicaly keep my mouth shut when I have any opinion that I sense runs counter to the main stream. It is those opinions that have given rise to this false name and blog. I'm glad that you are brave enough to challenge things in the public sphere, but as you may have discovered, not everyone is ready to have this discussion.

 
At 8:11 PM, Blogger Ben Avuyah said...

Hey Mis-nagid, I can always use an extra Amen...now, can I hear a Halleluyah ?

 
At 7:22 AM, Blogger Big-S Skeptic said...

Great post. The problem, of course, is that ignorance breeds ignorance. Rabbis who have not had further than 6th-grade education in science are not easily convinced that there is a world out there that they know nothing about. They have never read a science magazine, let alone a textbook or journal. Their knowledge of science probably owes far more to R'Saadya than Newton or Darwin.

The problem is similar for my knowledge of Tanach. The last time I was actually awake for a Chumash class was in 8th grade. Of course, in 8th grade they fed us immature and highly-simplified interpretations of Biblical passages, which in retrospect seem primitive and ridiculous, bordering on idiotic. Oh wait, that was Rashi...

 
At 8:24 AM, Blogger Ben Avuyah said...

Hey Big S,
thanks for stopping by to comment...

>>>Rabbis who have not had further than 6th-grade education in science are not easily convinced that there is a world out there that they know nothing about.

Yes, thats certainly true, but in my overeager optimism about the power of the blogosphere I hope to impart a small glimmer of this other universe or at least point them somewhere where they can find it.

>>>Oh wait, that was Rashi...

LOL, yeah, that's true, but he had his high points too, like that Rashi where the nephilim are "nophlim meshamayim", kinda like the prelude to some bizzaro science fiction....

 
At 1:11 PM, Blogger EPA said...

Your comments does not seem to address concepts such as na'aseh v' nishmah" and a mesorah concerning things such as a religious Jew's approach to science. Both hinge upon emunah, obviously something not provable, but founded upon faith. No one will argue with you, that there is sometimes an unfortunate characterization of science by members of the religious community. But even if they COULD enunciate themselves better on this topic, let's face it, you still would not be satisfied. Parenthetically (and I do mean parenthetically), I don't think the discussions of R. Avigdor Miller, ztl, concerning the interface of science and religion were so awful. To the contrary, I found them rather inspiration. And that, my dear "Benny," is what seems to be sorely lacking with you - inspiration. It seems to me that you may benefit by (a) leaving a Modern Orthodox environment for an environment in which religion plays a more integral role, and (b) perhaps even more important - find a rov of integrity and intelligence, who could once again move you, spiritually.

 
At 2:43 PM, Anonymous Some Guy said...

I don't think the discussions of R. Avigdor Miller, ztl, concerning the interface of science and religion were so awful. To the contrary, I found them rather inspiration.

What interface? He thought scientists were immoral atheistic boobs, at best. The Avigdor Millers of the community drive educated people away from Orthodoxy, not towards it.

 
At 3:38 PM, Blogger Nice Jewish Guy said...

As someone who had the less than pleasant experience of spending time in R. Avigdor Miller's Shul (Gawd, I hated that place!), I can echo Some Guy's statements. And because I have no wish to say not nice things about people (I am Nice Jewish Guy, after all!), I'll leave it at that.

This has been a somewhat frighteningly enlightening(ly.. I'm a poet! Ha! But we knew that...) year for me; reading Godol Hador's blog and conversing with my friend smoo has really pulled up the blinds on just how narrow our religious education really was. We didn't even know what we didn't know. Everything has an alternate explanation, that often makes even more sense that the traditional pshat. If you get the rug pulled out from under enough of what you learned, it really shakes your foundations. I have felt myself sliding towards orthopraxis. After all, if davening is just a bunch of paragraphs cobbled together, changed over the years, different for every nusach, and is really a substitute for sacrifices that were themselves a substitute for pagan worship, why daven? If RSBY did not write the Zohar, and Lag Bomer and the basis of the sefira restrictions are misfounded (see Dov Bear and Jameel@the Muqata), then why keep them? If chicken was really pareve, why wait after eating it? If the Torah was really written by men (maybe)...? And you get the idea. As my ex wife was fond of saying.... when it comes to issue X, Y, or Z... does G-d really care?

I'm still hanging on to that spiritual spark of Frumkeit tho... so far.

 
At 4:12 PM, Blogger Ben Avuyah said...

Hi epa,


>>>Your comments does not seem to address concepts such as na'aseh v' nishmah" and a mesorah concerning things such as a religious Jew's approach to science

Very true, I have not gotten to the discussion of faith, and what I feel the porblems of faith are. In fact this post was just an opinionated observation of the Rabbinical view of science, and the paucity of Rabbinic education in this area.

It may very well be that Rabbi's base their objections to certain scientific discussions on faith. But in many discussions I have never heard this....never !!!

There is always a reason, always something that the Rabbi understands about science and logic that the poor scientist _just_ doesn't_get !!!

Take for example the recent debate regarding evolution in the Jewish press. There, evolution is readily critisized by many right wing adherents (I cannot say if they are Rabbis or not), but never out of faith, but out of a variety of far fetched and internally inconsistant arguments.

Indeed, let us leave the issue of faith aside for the moment and deal with the attitude right wing judaism has for science. The totally unfounded bias they attribute to biologists as atheists hungering for freedom from Godly yoke. And the gall with which they assume that their meandering rabbinic semi logic allows them to "disprove" evolution and geology, carbon dating, and organic chemistry with an twist of a talmudic thumb.

In this post what I wish to address is the severe lack of character this demonstrates about our right wing teachers and leaders. Any one who goes on to study these feilds will by default realize that the most devoutly religious people he has come in to contact with are clueless, and worse.. they have made serious decisions and condemnations on the basis of their abscence of knowledge.

This is a deal closer for many who are already questioning their beliefs....beleive me !

When you realize that the idealogy whose teat you were suckled from can at once embrace bible codes as absolutely authentic and decry evolution as a "theory" of maruading atheists, then you begin to understand that there is no honesty to the method by which religion chooses it's allies.

For a religion who claims the light of torah is truth, this is a dangerous loose end to leave hanging.

 
At 4:22 PM, Blogger Ben Avuyah said...

>>To the contrary, I found them rather inspiration. And that, my dear "Benny," is what seems to be sorely lacking with you - inspiration.

Very common ploy, Yeshiva 101 in fact, I would expect no more and no less.

Most in the frum world believe very similarly to yourself. That in order for someone to go off the derech they are missing something...defective...not properly motivated, distracted by lusts and longings...

You place my deficit at the doorstep of insipiration. I will aviod confirming or denying this so as not to be drawn into an ad hominem mud slinging contest fit for two year olds, but please understand this :

There are many of us, myself included, who have not left becuase we wanted a cheeseburger or because we were dissatisfied with a Rabbi, who couldn't like the spark.

There are powerful intellectual reasons why orthodoxy does not work, and for those who realize this, and cannot induldge in the cognitive dissonance so necassary for a working modern orthodoxy, there is only this path left.

I understand how important it is for you to blame my, and for that matter, anyones departure from your club on taivah or defective drive, and I am sorry to have you face the fact that for many people, the departure occurs secondary to the inability to tolerate intellectual dishonesty.

 
At 4:24 PM, Blogger Ben Avuyah said...

>>>find a rov of integrity and intelligence, who could once again move you, spiritually.


Once you understand why two and two make four, what amount of "spark" do you think it would take to get you to return to pretending it was three ?

 
At 4:34 PM, Blogger Ben Avuyah said...

Hi some guy, I only vaguely remeber being nauseated by Miller's stuff...

Hi Nice Jewish Guy, thanks for comming by to comment, I know how disorienting it is when you first begin to slide. Everything you knew was real now looks like a game.

I am happy for you that you can still find meaning in some of it....

I personaly find a great deal of meaning in studying the torah, just not in the divine sense :-)

 
At 5:15 PM, Blogger Ben Avuyah said...

>>To the contrary, I found them rather inspiration. And that, my dear "Benny," is what seems to be sorely lacking with you - inspiration.

You know, having not thought about it for a while, I had forgotten how important this methodolgy is to the frum world.

I mean on it's surface it's a mild condescention, a retooling of one's name indicating the approach is to be that of a adult to a child, and then a reproachful speach about what you have done wrong and what you need to do in the future to "fix" it.

I have always been familiar with this tactic, having faced it many times, over and over in fact in yeshiva. I had always recognized that the underlying philosophy is to pin any deviant opinion on a character flaw...

But I never realized what a great dodge it was.

I mean, you get to stop talking about the troubling concept and concentrate all your attention on character assasination followed by how you are going to "help" them to return to the fold.

You might as well just shout, "look over there, pink elephant!!"

I had never realized before how this methodology functions so well as a distractant from the "uncomfortable" topic the questioner has raised.

No wonder people in frum circles detect no problems with judaism, every assailent view is defacto avoided by concentrating only on percieved character flaws of the one who espoused it.

Indeed, it appears there can be no logical dilema that stands on it's own merit. All challenges must be immediatly fixed to a flesh and blood recipient who can then function as host, as said idea is destroyed through discrediting his character.

It's been a long time since yeshiva, but it's all coming back to me now.....perhaps this method of dealing with alternative opinions even deserves a post for it's amazing lack of integrity !!

 
At 9:40 PM, Blogger EPA said...

Benny,
You are being very (too?) defensive, in perceiving my prior comment as some "attack" on your character. Surely you admit to being jaded about frumkeit? And the perceived sophmoric approach of some rabbinic authorities to science is clearly bothering you. Yet ultimately, I think you do want to maintain a frum lifestyle, but for these sorts of issues which have created cognitive dissonance. There ARE competent frum individuals who could speak to you intelligently about science and religion, and I'm sure you know that. For example, I'm no expert on R. Moshe Tendler, but I suspect that he, as a biologist and rabbinical authority, might be able to resolve some of the questions you have without insulting your intelligence. So, I offer you a Leon Festinger-like suggestion to alleviate the obvious cognitive dissonance that has turned you from Ben Torah to Ben Avuyah: create that new cognition! Pick up the phone, and contact R. Tendler or some other similar pro-science rabbinic authority, and talk. Also, the same rabbis who dismiss scientists as "marauding atheists," are the ones who characterize basketball players as "a bunch a shvatzes running around in their underwear." It is these numbnuts who make you question your faith? I don't believe you. I think you are invoking these sort of individuals out of expediency.

 
At 11:04 PM, Anonymous Some Guy said...

I'm not sure why it should come down to "talk to a Rav". The questions are all out there: Questions about Biblical authorship. Questions about historicity of Biblical narrative. Questions about scientific knowledge of Chazal. Questions about origin of life. The Rabbis have made their best responses, we have read them, and were unimpressed. If some rabbi has a good argument to make, I would hope they would make it in print for everyone to see. Sad fact is that with the exception of a few kiruv people the rabbis don't discuss these issues in print, and we are left to wonder why.

 
At 5:28 AM, Blogger Ben Avuyah said...

>>>There ARE competent frum individuals who could speak to you intelligently about science and religion, and I'm sure you know that.

I actually thought that for a number of years. And I read both schroeder and slifkin. both terrible apologetics. If you want you can look at the gedolai torah and see how they have resolved these issues by hiding under a rock and scewering anyone who does manage to cognate about the contradictions on the barbeque of excomunication.

orthodox Rabbi's who become familiar with DH will whisper quietly that it is likely correct but we must say that Moshe is redactor, but they will never say this in more than a whisper to one individual at a time. Indeed the DH proponents who did acknowledge this publicly are now considered lesss than orthodox.

I am sorry to inform you of this, but there are no answers to these questions, or the answers given fall so short of standards of evidence as to be laughable.

The only purpose of going to the rabbi would serve would be to have my self primatively psychoanalysized in search of my flaws, in the Yeshiva tradition that I just detailed. I'd be more worried about the Rabbi's faith then my own.

These questions have been around for a while. The fact that we are still ignoring them...says a lot.

 
At 7:13 AM, Blogger Ben Avuyah said...

>>>It is these numbnuts who make you question your faith? I don't believe you. I think you are invoking these sort of individuals out of expediency.

They are neither the beginning or the end of what is wrong with orthodoxy. They are just what many people consider "first" when they begin to question their religion. I agree I have barely scratched the surface. Don't worry there's more :-)

 
At 11:39 AM, Blogger BaconEating AtheistJew said...

Note to Rabbis: Stop saying the earth is literally less than 6000 years old, and when it comes to evolution, at least say "I don't know" or yes, evolution is fact.
I think the Vatican is trying this method to keep their flock intact, and don't forget, the Catholics do acknowledge science sometimes.

 
At 1:55 PM, Blogger EPA said...

Ben,
You won't get satisfying answers to the Questions, if you don't want to hear them. I know, I'll once again be accused of "character assassination" - but this is true. You are electing to remain in your "cognitive dissonance mode," because for whatever reason - it's been rewarding to be that way. Heaven forfend, you wouldn't be Ben Avuyah anymore? There are intelligent people out there - far more so than you or I - who can get you at least part of the way there, and you know it. The other part is necessarily the na'aseh v'nishmah part - which is the sine qua non of our faith. That's the key - a sort of "the fault lies not within the stars, but within ourselves" thing. Because this really ain't about "the stars" i.e., science - that's a smokescreen - it's really about you, and allowing yourself to have a relationship with Hashem.

By the way - I still want your gemara skills :)

 
At 4:25 PM, Blogger Ben Avuyah said...

Hi Bacon, thanks for stopping by to comment, I have been enjoying your blog for quite some time !

HI epa,

>>>By the way - I still want your gemara skills :)


Aha, so it's you, my polar opposite :-)

>>You won't get satisfying answers to the Questions, if you don't want to hear them.

Again not true, I am open to anything that clears the very low bar of making basic sense, I apply the same standards to religion as everything else.

>>>You are electing to remain in your "cognitive dissonance mode," because for whatever reason - it's been rewarding to be that way.

Here you are confused, cognitive dissonance is what is required to remain orthodox when you begin to understand how irratinal it is. I do not suffer from the burden of orthodox idealogy....only practice !

>>Heaven forfend, you wouldn't be Ben Avuyah anymore?

I do like certain aspects of my makebelieve character but you are confusing cause and effect, I_ became_ benavuyah becuase orthodoxy doesn't make sense. It's strange of you then to comment, that the only reason I avoid orthodoxy is to remain ben avuyah. You are missing the root of the problem.

>>>There are intelligent people out there - far more so than you or I - who can get you at least part of the way there, and you know it.

NO. I know exactly the opposite. After a year of looking what I have found is the deeper you peer into the black hole of orthodox appologetics the worse the answers get.

To the contrary I was most confident when I assumed what you did. That these issues had already been neatly taken care of by our elite thinkers and my dilema's might be easily resolved when by happenchance I would open the right book.

This is wrong. The only answers I have come across are horrible Goss/nishtaneh hatevah type drashas that no honest thinking man could do more than be nauseated by.

Please, Don't take my word for it, go, find an apologetic, come back and argue it, and watch me take it to pieces. Most orthodox arguments of God and tradition were dissolved in the enlightenment. The apologetics that deal with science are even more flimsy.

>>>>The other part is necessarily the na'aseh v'nishmah part - which is the sine qua non of our faith.

Yes but first you have to figure out if you want have faith in your faith. INdeed how do you know you shouldn't have faith in christianity or the religion of the Mali Dogon. Faith can't help you choose what to have faith in, becuase it has no rhyme or reason, that is it's definition !!


>>>>it's really about you, and allowing yourself to have a relationship with Hashem.


ONce again I'll shout a NO so it can be heard even in the cheap seats. These question of science, religion, reality, and faith stand on their own. My written doubts and obervation stand of their own merit even should I spontaneously combust this instant.

I know your approach, If you can "cure" me my questions go away.....wrong!! Surely you realize that if you were to hit me over the head with a frying pan my questions would also go away....does this mean they are answered ???

You will need to seperate yourself from these primitive kiruv methodoligies if you ever want to understand _anything_ !!

 
At 5:01 AM, Blogger lakewoodyid said...

>Note to Rabbis: Stop saying the earth is literally less than 6000 years old, and when it comes to evolution, at least say "I don't know" or yes,

Why should they stop? They have been believing this for 5766 years. Why should they care what a bacon eating jew thinks?

Are you gonna stop eating meat because vegeterians think its wrong?

Aaahhh. Because its causing people to leave the fold. Put a number on this. How many people left the fold because of the Rabbi's insistence on 5766?

And how fast are the UO 5766 believers expanding? For every guy who leaves the fold, 1,000 UO kids are born?

So why should they stop??

 
At 6:46 PM, Blogger Mis-nagid said...

Tendler on evolution.

Still think he can "resolve some of the questions you have without insulting your intelligence?"

 
At 2:07 AM, Anonymous shai secunda said...

truly great post. I'm only sorry I discovered this blog so late! Hope you don't mind if i offer one friendly piece of advice to you and all of your science chums: Elisha since you're a "doctah" all you care about is this pre-modern rational stuff. How about a little intellectual ecleticism to bring yourself up to date with where the world is heading?

 
At 2:29 AM, Blogger David Guttmann said...

>orthodox Rabbi's who become familiar with DH will whisper quietly that it is likely correct but we must say that Moshe is redactor, but they will never say this in more than a whisper to one individual at a time. Indeed the DH proponents who did acknowledge this publicly are now considered lesss than orthodox.

There are some who did address it like R. Dovid Tzvi Hoffman in his pirushim on Breishis, Vaykra and devarim. It is very heavy and technical and difficult to follow unless one has a thorough understanding of DH. There has been some other weak effort.

I believe the answer lies somewhere else. I believe that there is a meaning to Torah min Hashamayim beyond the simple meaning of the words. I sense it but have not yet been able to express it coherently. When I do I will. I say that because I found as I went along that what I thought was dogma re Yesh Meayin, nevuah, miracles etc... was not what it seemed at first blush and could be understood rationally within contemporary thought. I therefore have confidence that this has an explanation too although it eludes me at the moment.

Clearly the Rabbis had something else in mind when they dubbed Torah min Hashamayim then the conventional understanding.

 
At 9:26 AM, Blogger Ben Avuyah said...

Hi David,

>>>I therefore have confidence that this has an explanation too although it eludes me at the moment.

don't worry, we'll be waiting......

 
At 9:28 AM, Blogger Ben Avuyah said...

Hi Shai Secunda, yes I do tend to avoid post modernism, and will have to some more reading in that area. But just from a cursory perusal it seems a lot like solopism....which is not a view I have much fondness for...

 
At 9:31 AM, Blogger Ben Avuyah said...

Hi Mis-nagid,
thanks for the link to Tendler "shmooze", he's worse than I thought. But the funny part is that after attempting to put a dent in evolution, he spins 180 and declares it doesn't matter if the world is 6K years old or not, just so long, "as we learn the lessons...."

Does he see impending failure and is he preparing for it ??


Baffling, really !

 
At 1:11 PM, Blogger EPA said...

Ben - Just curious regarding your answers to the following:

1) If you are not married, does it matter whether you should marry a Jewish woman, rather than whichever woman floats your cork?

2) If you are married - do you have any kids? If you do, how do you think you'd feel if one of them embraced a faith other than Judaism? Or wanted to marry a non-Jew?

3) BTW - you decry how "orthodoxy doesn't make sense." Well duh, Benny! Na'aseh v'nishmah doesn't "make sense." I bet aspects of every religion don't "make sense." Because religions are based on faith, not reason. That's why Carl Sagan disdained religion, because it lacked evidence, it wasn't founded upon reason.

You keep wanting to find global rationality and consistency in Judaism. IT AIN'T THERE. But that is not to say that you should toss aside the one true religion. To me it is so apparent that there's something "going on" w/ Jews through the centuries, that I cannot deny a Divine hand in it. Do I understand it all? Do I feel like some dumbass when I bang some willow branches on a floor at 7:30 in the morning?! Of course I do! But not understanding something does not necessarily mean that I should dump what I don't understand, especially not in the wholesale fashion that you seem to be advocating.

 
At 7:23 PM, Blogger Ben Avuyah said...

Hi epa, back again I see,

>> If you are married - do you have any kids? If you do, how do you think you'd feel if one of them embraced a faith other than Judaism? Or wanted to marry a non-Jew?


Classic appeal to consequences. This is the only method religion has and uses it shamlesly in place of logic. Sure there are a myriad of practical problems to being both a believer or a non believer. Would my road through life as a believer be simpler and less full of heartache....definately.

But I'm not discussing practicality, I'm discussing what is logicaly true and what is not !

Practicaly speaking the easiest lifestyle is charedi, you get to turn off your brain. All your decisions are prechewed for you by gedolim, and seldom must a neuron fire.



>> I bet aspects of every religion don't "make sense."

Bingo !!

>>Do I feel like some dumbass when I bang some willow branches on a floor at 7:30 in the morning?! Of course I do! But not understanding something does not necessarily mean that I should dump what I don't understand,

You can do what ever you like, but admitting you don't understand...i.e. that it doesn't make sense, is a good start.


>>you decry how "orthodoxy doesn't make sense." Well duh, Benny! Na'aseh v'nishmah doesn't "make sense."

I know...that's my point it doesn't make sense....if you want to do things on the basis of faith...great, but remember faith can't tell you what or where to worship, it is devoid of reason, someone worshipping the seven armed sea goddes of gargathia is just as justified by _faith_ as you are. Once you start bringing _reasons_ why you have faith in judaism as opposed to other religions, then you _do_ have to make sense.

You see, you have to have a reason to pick your faith. If you don't need reason at all then you have no way to promote one faith over the others.

You are using the well known ploy of the theist. When reason has you against the wall you cry "faith", when faith reveals itself to be useless in establishing which god, sect, religion to follow, you spout out your reasons. Inevitably these reasons don't make sense because they are not based on logic, rather they are justifications for the ancient laws that you feel you have to abide by.

And what happens when someone points out that these reasons don't make sense ?? Well, run and hide behind faith.

It's a game that is easily exposed and I for one enjoy doing it !!!

 
At 1:09 AM, Anonymous shai secunda said...

I'm not suggesting post-modern Nihilism, I'm suggesting ecliticism. Ways of knowing are not just about a binary rational vs. non-rational. Post-modernism seems to be pushing most of us in the latter direction. From an intellectual perspective, it will make your life much richer, even if your a hard facts guy, you will still gain.

 
At 5:25 AM, Blogger Ben Avuyah said...

>>I'm not suggesting post-modern Nihilism, I'm suggesting ecliticism. Ways of knowing are not just about a binary rational vs. non-rational. Post-modernism seems to be pushing most of us in the latter direction. From an intellectual perspective, it will make your life much richer, even if your a hard facts guy, you will still gain.

1:09 AM

Hi Shai,

I'm interested, do you have any good book recomendations ?

 
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Please remove the above post re: "free Xbox" It's a scam.

 
At 12:01 PM, Anonymous shai secunda said...

but that's exactly the point, elisha. While I do have books to recommend, my suggestion is not only about amassing new knowledge from "how-to" books (I use this term even in regard to many works of philosophy - especially post-modernism). It's primarily about experiential "knowledge" - if you can call it that. If you want a book example, take a look at Rumi's poetry - the Sufi mystic - and for God's sake, don't read it like a rationalist. For that matter - read Yehuda HaLevi - no, do not (re)read "In defense of a despised faith (aka)" read his poetry and especially his laments. These suggestions are biased, poetry expresses certain non-rational truths that happen to work for me, but ecleticism can and should include much more.

Keep up the writing - I'm waiting for the next installment of the yeshiva-misfit!

 
At 12:15 PM, Blogger rebelmo said...

Enjoy your blog alot. It is more personal than the Godol which makes it more real.

As a fellow orthoprax, I also enjoy shteiging gemara in the academic sense and as an appreciation of our heritage and the cumulative brainpower that went into it.

But when I used to sit in shiur I sort of felt sorry for the Rebbeim who are sort of like unfortunate merchants who have only 1 color to sell.

 
At 11:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I might very well be the guy sitting next to you in shul!"

Heh. You could be half the people in my shul.

So nu, when are we getting another installment in the Yeshiva misfit series?.

 
At 10:09 AM, Anonymous DNA said...

"Anonymous said...
Please remove the above post re: "free Xbox" It's a scam."

Isn't everything?

 
At 10:29 AM, Blogger Ben Avuyah said...

shai, sounds like interesting stuff, I will try and take a look sometime.

rebelmo, thanks for commenting, I didn't really have the perspective to feel sorry for my rebbim at the time, becuase I really didn't have an incling that any other "mehalech" exsisted. Even now in some way their postion seems enviable. They believe absolutely that they are saving the world with torah as well as getting "eternal life". Living in the grip of that powerful delusion may make them extremely happy.

Hi anonymous, that must be quite a shul to be half full of orthosceptics !

Hey DNA, I should probably leave that XBOX scam up as a credulity test for my readership, but the sad fact is I am about as computer savy as my grandmother, and I am actualy going to have to figure out how to erase it.

As far as the yeshiva misfit, I am once again torn. I feel like I have a great Sci Fi story to write, and I daydream about it all the time. Of course, my last SF got mixed reviews. I also have a great Memoir YM story to write, and I can't decide which one to dig into first.....

 
At 9:55 AM, Blogger Rebeljew said...

On the subject of apologetics, well roared, lion.

Yeshiva misfit and Daniel's Dilemma are simply brilliantly written.

 
At 5:31 PM, Blogger Ben Avuyah said...

Hi Rebeljew, thanks for the compliments, I've been missing your blog, I hope you come back and post some time soon !

 
At 11:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

". . . , that must be quite a shul to be half full of orthosceptics !"

That's where we differ. You see it as half full. I see it as half empty.

Actually, we have quite a few Conserva-dox I don't think it's all that uncommon for them to go to an MO shul when their only other nearby choice is a Conservative synagogue that's not traditional enough for them.

Another anon.

 
At 2:42 PM, Blogger Ben Avuyah said...

>>>That's where we differ. You see it as half full. I see it as half empty

Ahhh a pesimist, take heart, and remember your othorpractical brothers are still your brothers !

 
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