Scholem a heretic? Really?

From this week’s Forward:

While the Jewish community is energetic about replying to perceived slurs against Jews or the State of Israel, we are remarkably passive when it comes to answering insults against our religion or our God.

Seems like a workable presmise.

The article first take on the athiests, Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens. So far we’re good. There’s a bit about apologists and The Guide for the Perplexed:

In fact, the Mishnah makes it every Jew’s obligation to be an effective apologist, an obligation that most of us ignore nowadays: “Know how to answer an unbeliever” (Pirke Avot 2:14) — with the word for unbeliever being apikorus, a follower of Epicurus, the Greek philosopher.
Epicurus is known as a primary exponent of materialism, the belief that material reality is all there is in the universe. And materialism happens to be one of the most serious challenges that religion is up against today.

Right on! Then things take a turn:

There are other challenges, like the idea, taught in many university religion departments around the country, that the Torah is in effect a literary fraud. According to more than a few secular scholars, the Five Books of Moses weren’t authored by Moses, as the Torah claims, but rather were stitched together centuries later from works by other writers.
Richard Elliott Friedman’s book “Who Wrote the Bible?” gives a popular-level rendition of this theory. No one in academia that I’m aware of has been bold enough to directly call the Torah a fraud. But surely if we were talking about any nonsacred book, that is what the conclusions of modern biblical criticism would add up to.
The same academic viewpoint designates the Zohar, the Bible of Jewish mysticism, as a cynical medieval hoax masquerading as the more ancient work it purports to be.
….
We hardly even consider that these opinions present our faith as nothing better than, to quote Hitchens, “a plagiarism of a plagiarism of a hearsay of a hearsay, of an illusion of an illusion, extending all the way back to a fabrication of a few nonevents.”

So you’re saying Hitchens is bad news, and then you’re using his argument to support your own? I realize there is a segment of Am Yisrael that is unwilling to accept historical criticism of our sacred texts – fine. Scholem spent twenty years attempting to prove that the Zohar pre-dates medieval Spain, and couldn’t do it. Not to mention the fact that without Scholem, there would be no academic study of Jewish Mysticism. As David Solomon once explained, the academic and religious pursuits of Kaballah feed one another – the scholars are digging up old texts that we haven’t had access to for hundreds of years, which are to be found in obscure Beitei Midrash all over the world. For those of us who have yet to learn Hebrew, English translations of mystical texts (often produced in academia) can enrich our Jewish practice, are serve as a wonderful motivation to learn lashon kodesh (the holy tongue) and access the original. This of how many people have been brought closer to Hashem becuse of the work of these men.

Klinghoffer concludes:

Traditional Jews may see the problem, but they do virtually nothing to address it. The Orthodox community, to which I belong, invests generous resources in Torah for consumption by other Orthodox Jews. That’s wonderful. But we don’t see the need when it comes to defending Judaism’s honor before the world — as the future King David did in facing down Goliath, who had “disgraced the battalions of the living God” (I Samuel 17:36).
In the case of David, the other Jews were too timid to face down the blaspheming giant. But at least the young hero had the sponsorship of the king, Saul, and thus the blessing of his fellow citizens. We have no David and no Saul.
Liberal Jews may not initially see the problem. Judaism’s assailants aren’t born-again Christians, after all, and the Jewish community has been conditioned by an irrational prejudice that the primary domestic threat worth worrying about is from born-again Christians.
But the children of liberal and traditional Jews alike will grow up in a world where God is routinely dismissed in academic and media venues as a fiction and a fraud, and where these charges go unanswered in the wider public by any Jew.
We thus teach our children, implicitly, that their religion is either indefensible or not worth defending. For anyone concerned about the future of the Jews, that is an utter disaster.

Let’s be clear – I’m fine with you calling out the atheists. If you think they’re dis-respecting your religion (and I do think so), you rightly have a bone to pick. But to claim that for Scholem & Idel, and for pretty much all of Jewish Academia, Torah is “fiction and fruad” is simply unacceptable. These are men and women who have devoted their lives to understanding their spiritual heritage – doing exactly the wrestling inherent in our name – Yisrael. To claim that the only legitimate struggle takes place in the Beit Midrash is, in my mind, born of an ignorance of the scholars of whom you speak. Ask them if they agree with Dawkins and the like before you go slandering half of the Jewish people in such a public forum.

You might as well blame the Reform movement for the Shoah.

Full story.

Filed under Criticism, Opinion, Torah

46 Responses to “Scholem a heretic? Really?”

  1. Its typical haredi narrow-mindedness to see any critical thinking as blaming the authors of the text criticised of “fraud”. Its not a question of fraud, its a question of philology. For it to be fraud, someone has to want to pull the wool over our eyes.


    Amit · April 19th, 2007 at 7:50 am
  2. The fact that the best we can do is pit Dennis Pragger against Sam Harris (Pragger got his ass handed to him), speaks to the lack of theological voices able to address Harris/Dawkins point. And since The God Delusion has been a best seller for the past 4-5 months, perhaps our theologians should wake up and respond to the assault. Here’s one frum Jew who’s charging out of the gate swinging…it’s refreshing I tell ya:
    jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/


    shtreimel · April 19th, 2007 at 7:52 am
  3. The fact that Rav Moshe DeLeon wrote the Zohar shouldn’t be a problem for religious Jews. It’s been attested to since his widow admitted it in an interview back in the Middle Ages!


    Alan · April 19th, 2007 at 8:32 am
  4. what ticks me off, as a student of religion, is that people like klinghoffer and jewishphilosopher think they can separate jewish studies from the general study of religion. when one looks at the way klinghoffer and jewish “philosopher” treat issues such as what a “religion” is (gasp! there are different theories!) and how a community understands its sacred scriptures (if moshe de leon really DID write the zohar [he did], then how does that change how klinghoffer thinks he knows what he is talking about).
    what also irks me is their sheer ignorance of the scholarly material. if you went to an SBL (society of biblical literature) conference and presented on friedman’s WHO WROTE THE BIBLE or said that no contributions have been made to biblical studies after wellhausen’s PROLEGOMENA, you would get laughed out of the hotel.
    i thought that, in judaism, we encouraged people to learn first and THEN teach… guess not.


    invisible_hand · April 19th, 2007 at 8:41 am
  5. that having been said, scholem was a secular jew, often having theological arguments with the grash (gaon rabbi shaul lieberman). BUT: HaRav Lieberman (zt”l) was a scholar too!
    did you know that YU used to be a respected academic institution in Jewish Studies? They used to put out critical editions of texts, instead of relying on Artscroll’s bullshit. They used to publish actual scholarship. and now one of their only real academics, alan brill, peaced out of there. one need not wonder why.


    invisible_hand · April 19th, 2007 at 8:44 am
  6. Christopher Hitchens is an atheist? News to me. I know that he’s pretty concerned with the rise of American fascism disguised as fundamentalist Christianity, but, then, so should we all be.
    Then again I’ve been told by a Haredi regular on lists I post to that he won’t discuss Arthur Green because he is an atheist. I guess I just need to dust off my 1984 dictionary and learn some newspeak.


    Craig J. Bolton · April 19th, 2007 at 8:53 am
  7. Klinghoffer is no charedi, but he is a bit of a prick. I once picked up his book on Abraham, and put it down, 70 pages in when he simply asserted that if you are not willing to completely believe that Abraham was one, factual, historical entity, then you might as well not believe in god.

    A bit simplistic, if you ask me. Even if he’s good with big words and stuff.


    Balaam's Donkey · April 19th, 2007 at 9:19 am
  8. Even if God/Moses didn’t write the Torah, doesn’t mean it’s not a holy book.


    OJ · April 19th, 2007 at 10:37 am
  9. I think I responded to this before it happened…
    jvoices.com/2007/04/06/defending-bible-truth/

    I don’t see that there’s any conflict in believing in g-d and studying the torah simultaneously as a holy book, a historical document, and an interesting compilation of ancient literatures. In fact, I think there’s value in being able to do all of these at the same time.


    Marisa · April 19th, 2007 at 11:06 am
  10. look! new voices magazine is being attacked for “anti-israel” material! the nation covers this contraversy…see the article here:

    www.thenation.com/doc/20070430/press


    new voices magazine · April 19th, 2007 at 11:30 am
  11. here’s a cute explanation i heard about this passage from pirkei avot, “know what to answer the heretic”.
    the mishnah tells “know what to answer” but dosnt proceed to tell us what the answer is?
    rather the mishnah is implying that which he can not not write. sometimes the only way to answer the heretic is to tell him “kiss my a**”, or the like.
    the torah being written in a clean tongue couldnt write that so instead tells us “know what to answer”. kind of with a mischievious tone like “go on, you know what to answer him…”


    jacob · April 19th, 2007 at 11:42 am
  12. Yasher Koach for having the ability to read far enough into a Klinghoffer piece to pick it apart. Klinghoffer combines the haredi smugness of Avi Shafran with the knee-jerk Republicanism of the National Review.

    The real question is why is The Forward giving him that platform? If the paper was really anti-religious, I would understand it, because Klinghofferism is the best argument against Judaism and Yiddishkeith and Religion that is out there.


    Reb Yudel · April 19th, 2007 at 11:46 am
  13. So where exactly in the actual Torah does it say that Moses wrote it? Really? Moses wrote the stuff about his own death? bummer for him.

    Understanding how the written Torah came to be doesn’t devalue it at all. What unbelievable fundamentalism!


    Carly · April 19th, 2007 at 12:03 pm
  14. “Even if God/Moses didn’t write the Torah, doesn’t mean it’s not a holy book.”

    No, just one step above Oprah’s “O” magazine. Look, it’s real simple, if the Torah is a human document – say about one person’s delusions or hallucinations (think Joseph Smith) – then every traditional Jew observing halacha should be diagnosed with OCD and provided with CBT and Effexor to manage their symptoms i.e. obsessions with their particular diets, sexual practices, clothes, etc.

    As well, we should apologize to every Palestinian we’ve killed due to a concept called “Zion”…a man made creation.


    shtreimel · April 19th, 2007 at 1:49 pm
  15. I don’t normally comment, but as a yu Jewish studies major, I have to take serious issue with “invisible hand”’s comments about YU Jewish studies. He shows complete ignorance of YU’s jewish studies programs, beit midrash and (more forgivable), its internal politics.

    The YU faculty includes such eminent scholars as: Drs Richard Steiner and Barry Eichler (semitics and ancient near east), Louis Feldman (Greco-roman stuff), Moshe Bernstein (DSS and early biblical interpretation), Yakov Elman (Talmud and Rabbinics), Gra”ch Soloveitchik, David Berger, Arthur Hyman, and Ephraim Kanarfogel (medieval stuff). All are at or near the top of their fields. That’s in addition to about eight or nine younger scholars who have been hired over the past couple years who are making names for themselves, profs who are brilliant and interesting but choose not to conform to the standard academic mold like Rabbis Shalom Carmy, Hayim Angel, Elazar Hurvitz, and JJ Schachter, and Roshei Yeshiva who have advanced academic degrees in Jewish studies (Rabbis Michael Rosenswieg, Jeremy Wieder, David Horowitz, etc etc). They are also hiring three or four more, supposedly over the summer. Pound for pound, which departments at other universities are better or more impressive in your opinion?

    As for “relying on artscroll’s bullshit”, the alternative (or complement) to academic Jewish studies at YU is traditional limud hatorah in a yeshiva style. While that does not typically involve critical editions, it is a far cry from artscroll. Thankfully, YU students are plenty adept at analyzing primary sources and spend a majority of their learning time doing that rather than relying translations (how do you think the students of, oh lets say, JTS and Brandeis would compare??). If you would like to shed your invisibility and come for a visit to verify, I would be more than happy to arrange…


    Mas · April 19th, 2007 at 2:22 pm
  16. As for the Brill situation, he definitely did not “peace out” because of the artscrollization of YU. In the real world, he was denied tenure, apparently because some senior faculty members felt that his scholarship was not up to par (I have not read him and have no idea if they are right or not). The benighted fundamentalist students responded with a massive petition begging the administration to keep him. Hundreds signed.(media.www.yucommentator.com/media/storage/paper652/news/2004/05/04/EditorialsopEd/An.Open.Petition.To.The.Leadership.Of.Yeshiva.University-681549.shtml)


    Mas · April 19th, 2007 at 2:28 pm
  17. Finally, the most ridiculous part of invisible hand’s post is the very fact that he drags YU into a discussion of klinghoffer at all. Besides the fact that he is orthodox, klinghoffer has no connection to YU at all that I am aware of. Last year, he called out YU, asking why they don’t join the intelligent design movement. The public response was deafening silence, and laughter behind closed doors.

    Motzi shem ra is unbecoming any time of year, and especially during the omer.


    Mas · April 19th, 2007 at 2:33 pm
  18. shtreimel, what does Zionism have to do with the Torah?

    at any rate with
    jacob, i disagree. while i disagree with klinghoffer in that its telling us to defend our religion, i dont think “kiss my ***” is the appropriate response. but thats just me


    shmuel · April 19th, 2007 at 4:12 pm
  19. Shmuel, the word “Zionism” is derived from the word “Zion” as mentioned in the Torah. European intellectuals, from Herzl to Freud, rarely gave any credit to the The Source from which many, if not most, of thier ideas came from.

    Again, if the Torah – as Harris and Dawkins believe – is nothing more than a poorly written book of history and ethics, we’ve got a lot of apologizing to do. Hell, forget about all the killing and wars that took place due to our return to a homeland (a homeland that may have been nothing more than Abraham or Moses’ have a run-of-the-mill DSM delusion), Deuteronomy alone admits to genocide:
    www.religioustolerance.org/god_cana.htm


    shtreimel · April 19th, 2007 at 4:45 pm
  20. dude, shtreimel, you’re the only one dissing the torah. we’re just talking about who wrote it. you wrote that if you didn’t know for sure God wrote it, then respecting it and observing its precepts would require psychiatric help (veilu derakheha darkhe noam), which belies your own view of taamei mitzvot. heve dan lekaf zechut. people on this site are probably active jews who love torah and israel, even if they don’t all believe god dictated the torah to moses


    OJ · April 19th, 2007 at 5:06 pm
  21. “dissing the torah”
    I’m “dissing” our leaders who, like Klinghoffer mentions, haven’t done shit to stand up to the onslaught of atheist opinion regarding, what they feel, is the silly/infantile and dangerous things we do and believe. Not just the Charedim, but all of us. Dawkins is clear, he feels the real enemy is your average Jew sending his kid to Day School. If his book wasn’t flying off the shelves, I’d say…feh, another academic with too much time on his hands.


    shtreimel · April 19th, 2007 at 5:15 pm
  22. i don’t see the connection between atheism and academic biblical scholarship (or why atheism is a problem)


    OJ · April 19th, 2007 at 6:02 pm
  23. clearly, this discussion isn’t going well, mainly since it appears that people are starting from vastly different perspectives. which is good i guess because it means that there is dialogue… but just the same. mars, thanks for your comments, they were certainly interesting. in terms of artscroll, most modern orthodox (let alone orthodox) jews do NOT use artscroll for scholarly study other than for the hebrew since it is plainly dogmatic (incidently, no more dogmatic or obvious in viewpoint than the eitz chaim of the conservative movement). orthodox jews do, by and large, understand hebrew so this argument seems started by someone who has a bad picture indeed about how ortho jews at a scholarly level study (oh man I wish i could say the same for UJ students…)


    BearsForIsrael · April 19th, 2007 at 8:51 pm
  24. That all being said, I want to make another point. I have heard a (very modern) orthodox rabbi say in a class that he cannot refute the so called documentrary hypothesis (i got the name correct, right?). there is simply too much of a pattern of, well, contradictions, and not in a major way, and not in a way that the mefarshim can’t explain, but it’s the fact that they consistently happen. but in the end, it’s not the point. As orthodox jews, we follow the torah because we believe in G-d and we believe it to be right. to repeat: we believe that however it got here, the Torah is the word of G-d, and everything else is Shtuyot. I don’t care if there are comments that can be made about how those phrases are historically meant. i think that they are of academic value but, if not incorporated into the rabbinic teachings, are ultimately not so much of religious value. judaism (ya, even orthodox judaism) is all about an amazing ‘conversation’ that we an rabbis have over centuries. it is this conversation and its foundation, the torah that we believe in. the science of who wrote what is simply irrelevant to how (and why) i read and study and interpret the torah.


    BearsForIsrael · April 19th, 2007 at 8:56 pm
  25. Now, I know that that answer won’t be satisfying, but know that this is a growing (and, admittedly, covert) movement within the ortho movement (at least in LA). but THAT BEING SAID, it’s shouldn’t be used to wildly reinterpret the torah. it doesn’t matter that homosexuality might have meant a different thing back then. it matters how it was interpreted by the mishnah, gemera, sefer hachinuch, just to name a few random ones. this is orthodox judaism. i can understand how this all might be a profound blow to conservative and reform beliefs in the primacy of the torah, but as an orthodox jew, luckily i have so many other extensions of G-d’s words (namely the oral tradition) to carry on His will. i hope that long rant made sense to y’all in some way.


    BearsForIsrael · April 19th, 2007 at 8:59 pm
  26. crap on a stick, i meant mas, not mars. sorry.


    BearsForIsrael · April 19th, 2007 at 9:00 pm
  27. I have got to figure out a way to drop “artscrollization” into conversation…


    Marisa · April 19th, 2007 at 9:14 pm
  28. Sefer Hachinuch???


    BZ · April 19th, 2007 at 9:24 pm
  29. For reasons defying understanding, it was the third book that came to mind. I was recently learning in on laws of Beged Ish… meh. But you know what i meant.


    BearsForIsrael · April 20th, 2007 at 1:30 am
  30. this thread is definitely not artscrollized :)


    OJ · April 20th, 2007 at 9:07 am
  31. [...] to LastTrumpet from Jewschool for weighing in with a critique of David Klinghoffer’s latest Forward [...]


    Mixed Multitudes » Blog Archive » Klinghoffer Watch · April 20th, 2007 at 10:04 am
  32. mas-
    mordy is that you? hey, it’s josh.
    chillllll out, buddy.
    i was not in any way dissing the students in my comment. i never called anyone fundamentalist. please do not put words in my mouth. bad journalism, bad writing. indeed, i feel for you, because i want to study with brill some day (even if his piece on torah wmin hashamayim in meorot was a bit spotty).

    but: my point was that YU (separate from klinghoffer, but still part of the orthodox academic world) does not engage in critical text production or much publishing. how is it ridiculous to point out common threads? in fact, i will use dr brill’s notorious piece from the edah journal to prove my point: so called “torah u’madda” at YU amounts to studying the hard sciences in a modern manner. fine. however, as brill notes, what orthodox institution is making it their business to engage with current developments in the humanities and social sciences, fields which may impact on the way they see judaism? the answer, as he so correctly points out, is none. well, maybe YCT, but it seems like they’re engaging in “mekhkar hatalmud” reluctantly.

    i read your comments, and i just don’t think you knew what i was referring to. the production of critical texts is a long and painstaking process, one at which YU used to be a major contributer. however, for a while now, that has not been the case. ARTSCROLL is the exact opposite of critical text study, namely the uncritical production of texts and unscholarly commentary.here’s my question for you: who is there at YU doing critical jewish studies? can you please point out the latest critical edition YU put out? pound for pound, i would say that a number of schools have better dept.s and jewish studies faculty. JTS is one, Brandeis is another, UC Berkley… etc. i think you are out of your depth regardind academic jewish studies. i don’t think you have the correct criteria at hand.

    seeing as i am a JTS student, i take your unkind words as an insult. you should really watch what unkind things you say on the internet. (brandeis is irrelevant, but it is still an ignorant comment). seeing as i am a talmud major, i don’t rely on a translation. so suck it. i mean, it’s not to YU’s credit that they nice little yeshivah buchers. it’s the demographic they get. here’s the question that is relevant to the topic, namely the ACADEMIC study of judaism: how many of your classmates are comfortable with comparing girsa’ot? with source criticism of the talmud? with the real history of the rabbinic period?… didn’t think so.

    ps: “peace out” is a phrase those young people use to mean “leave.”


    invisible_hand · April 20th, 2007 at 12:17 pm
  33. ps: i already came for a visit last fall with aaron, and we debated already… wanna go for round two? you’re out of your depth, you old married man. BWHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!! (diabolical laugh… exeunt)


    invisible_hand · April 20th, 2007 at 12:19 pm
  34. play nice


    OJ · April 20th, 2007 at 12:31 pm
  35. Shtreimel wrote:

    >..if the Torah, as Harris and Dawkins believe, is nothing more than a poorly written book of history and ethics, we’ve got a lot of apologizing >to do.

    To me, this is an absolutely _fantastic_ reason to question the Torah’s origins. How fortunate we are that the documentary hypothesis exists, so we don’t get too sure of our right to kill people. Maybe that’s why God decided to leave evidence for it in the Torah ;)


    Yeilah · April 20th, 2007 at 1:16 pm
  36. Yeilah…

    While learning about the Doc Hypothesis at McGill University, I told my prof: “You need the same degree of faith in the hypothesis that you need for Divine Revelation”.


    shtreimel · April 20th, 2007 at 1:21 pm
  37. bearsforisrael -
    your rant made sense in this way: the meaning of torah in your life is dependent on your belief in its holiness, separate from theories of its origins. outside of your orthodox paradigm, this is a general statement that is meaningful to jews of all stripes. in a sense, i believe that is what it comes down to: whether you believe in the holiness of the torah or not.
    what did not make sense is your belief that the orthodox have a monopoly on the oral tradition. that is a fallacious statement. it’s just not true.


    invisible_hand · April 20th, 2007 at 4:09 pm
  38. Hahaha. Definitely wasn’t me posting. I don’t hold enough water for YU to come running to their defense on Jewschool – and definitely not anonymously.

    For the record: I agree about YU publishing critical texts. And while they’re revving up their publishing house, I’ve got a book idea or two I’d like to pitch them…

    Ahem. Anyway. Good luck unmasking YU’s chivalric, anonymous defender.


    Mordy · April 20th, 2007 at 4:12 pm
  39. haha
    mordy – i recant.
    and mas: if what i said to you was personally hurtful, i apologize. i made an impersonal post originally, though, and you responded personally.


    invisible_hand · April 20th, 2007 at 4:19 pm
  40. áøàùéú – ôø÷ é”á áôñå÷ 6 ø’ àáï òæøà ðàîø: “åäëðòðé àæ áàøõ”. æåäé âìåñä (äòøú ùåìééí ùçãøä ìâåó äè÷ñè) äîòéãä òì ëúéáú äñéôåø áæîï îàåçø äøáä éåúø. ëáø áîàä ä – 13 îñáéø äôøùï àáøäí àáï-òæøà (øàá”ò): “åàí àéðå ëï, éù ìå ñåã âãåì – åäîùëéì ééãåí” ëìåîø, ëáø àáï òæøà îáéï ùéù ëàï òãåú ùäñéôåø ìà ðëúá òì éãé îùä, àìà áæîï îàåçø äøáä éåúø, ëùàéï ëáø ëðòðéí áàøõ éùøàì, ëìåîø áîàä äùáéòéú ìôä”ñ ìòøê (äôøùï ø÷ øåîæ æàú, åîæäéø àú îé ùäáéï àú äøîæ ùìà ìäòáéøå äìàä).

    öôðú ôòðç
    “‘åäëðòðé àæ áàøõ’ – éúëï ùàøõ ëðòï úôùä ëðòï îéã àçø.
    ôéøåù: éãåò ëé îìú ‘àæ’ äéà øîæ òì æîï éãåò ìòúéã àå ìùòáø, åäðä ôéøåùä ëîå ‘áòú ääéà’, åòì ëï äåöøê ìôøù ùîÈìê äëðòðé áòú ääéà, ëé àæ ì÷çä îéã àçø.
    åàí àéððå ëï éù ìå ñåã åäîùëéì éãåí.
    ôéøåù: àí ìà áàä îìú ‘àæ’ ìäåãéò ùàæ úôùä îéã àçø, éäéä äôéøåù ÷ùä åñúåí åøàåé ìäòìéîå. åäåà øîæ ñåãå áäúçìú ôøùú àìä äãáøéí. åôéøåùå äåà ëé àéê àîø áëàï îìú ‘àæ’ ùîùîòä àæ äéä áä àáì òúä àéðå áä, äìà îùä ëúá àú äúåøä åáéîéå äéúä äàøõ áéã äëðòðé. åìà éúëï ùéàîø îùä ‘àæ’, ëé äãòú ðåúï ùðëúáä îìú ‘àæ’ áæîï ùìà äéä äëðòðé áàøõ, åàðçðå éãòðå ëé ìà ñø äëðòðé îùí ëé àí àçøé îåú îùä ëùëáùä éäåùò.
    åìôé æä ðøàä ùìà ëúá îùä æàú äîìä áëàï, ø÷ éäåùò àå àçã îùàø äðáéàéí ëúáåä ëàùø îöàðå áñôø îùìé ‘âí àìä îùìé ùìîä àùø äòúé÷å àðùé çæ÷éä îìê éäåãä’, ëé àçø ùùìîä çéáø äñôø ìîä ðæëø ùí çæ÷éä ùðåìã àçø ëîä ãåøåú? ø÷ äéä æä ÷áìä áéãí àéù îôé àéù îôé ùìîä, åòì ëï ëúáåäå åðçùá ëàéìå ùìîä ëúáå. åëëä áëàï äéä ÷áìä áéãé éùøàì ùáéîé àáøäí äéä äëðòðé áàøõ åëúá àåúå àçã îï äðáéàéí áëàï, åàçø ùéù ìðå ìäàîéï áãáøé ÷áìä åáãáøé ðáåàä îä ìé ùëúáå îùä àå ùëúáå ðáéà àçø äåàéì åãáøé ëåìí àîú åäí áðáåàä…
    æä äñåã àéï øàåé ìäåãéòå ìáðé àãí áòáåø ùìà éæìæå áúåøä, ëé îé ùàéððå îùëéì ìà éãò ìäôøéù áéï äôñå÷éí ùðëúáå áäí îöååú åáéï äôñå÷éí ùðëúá áäí ñéôåø ãáøéí; âí áòáåø äàåîåú ùàåîøéí ìðå úåøúëí äéúä àîú ø÷ äçìôúí àåúä åùéðéúí áä, òì ëï àîø ‘åäîùëéì éãåí’, ëé äîùëéì éåãò ëé æä ìà éæé÷, ø÷ äôúàéí éàùéîå òì ëëä. ”

    äøá ëùø (úåøä ùìîä îéìåàéí áñåó ëøê éè) îáéà øàùåï ðåñó ùôéøù ëê àú ãáøé äøàá”ò åìà îòéø òìéå – äø”î àìîåùðéðå.


    OJ · April 20th, 2007 at 4:22 pm
  41. Just for the record, Hitchens isn’t just a vociferous atheist (see his forthcoming book, God is Not Great), he’s a Jewish atheist. After his mother’s death, it was revealed that she was a Jew who had kept her Jewishness secret.


    htrouser · April 21st, 2007 at 12:12 pm
  42. and I have yet to find “Zion” in the Torah. Zionism may not unnecessarily be racism, but it is sure not synonymous with Judaism, and certainly not with Torah or halakha. Please, keep God and his holy Torah out of the occupation.


    Amit · April 21st, 2007 at 6:39 pm
  43. Shtreimel– not at all sure why that should be the case. To have the theory that people wrote the Torah doesn’t require a lot of faith. People have written most (or all) of the documents on earth. Plus there is good evidence for the documentary hypothesis from the text.


    Yeilah · April 21st, 2007 at 8:44 pm
  44. Hand- There is more to academic Jewish studies than the production of critical texts. I listed six or seven names in my first post of yu professors in Academic Jewish studies that are as prominent as any jewish academic could hope to be anywhere (I would estimate that all of them are more prominent than Brill). If you don’t know who they are, Rambi them, and then we’ll talk about who is out of their depth regarding Jewish studies (and I don’t understand how a Talmud major can somehow think that Brill is a more “real” academic than Elman). The “ACADEMIC” study of Judaism is alive and well at YU for those who want it.

    I never said that all or a majority of my classmates are big into girsaot or source criticism, although you might be surprised (I think the Brill petition was good evidence that at least a significant minority of YU students are into real academics). I just don’t think that all non-academic study of judaism should be lumped together with artscroll (ten minutes of almost any YU shiur should disabuse you of that notion). You specifically implied that YU students rely on artscroll, i.e. translations, which is just not true at all.

    I didn’t know you were a JTS student when I wrote my post, so I didn’t mean any personal insult. I just chose JTS and Brandeis as generic places with good Jewish studies programs, whose students are at a disadvantage in reading primary texts compared to YU students. I’m glad that you are confident in your ability to read gemara, but how many of your classmates have seen fifty blatt of gemara in their entire lives, let alone covered that much material in one year? And why is it that you insulting my school and my professors is just fine, but me making a parenthetical remark about yours is something I should watch???

    Mordy- I didn’t realize that being anonymous on a blog was problematic. No need to unmask me, you can just ask.

    P.S. I didn’t realize that peacing out was a synonym for being FORCED out. You said one need not wonder why Brill left. Was being denied tenure what you had in mind????


    Mas · April 21st, 2007 at 10:04 pm
  45. Hand- There is more to academic Jewish studies than the production of critical texts. I listed six or seven names in my first post of yu professors in Academic Jewish studies that are as prominent as any jewish academic could hope to be anywhere (I would estimate that all of them are more prominent than Brill). If you don’t know who they are, Rambi them, and then we’ll talk about who is out of their depth regarding Jewish studies (and I don’t understand how a Talmud major can somehow think that Brill is a more “real” academic than Elman). The “ACADEMIC” study of Judaism is alive and well at YU for those who want it.

    I never said that all or a majority of my classmates are big into girsaot or source criticism, although you might be surprised (I think the Brill petition was good evidence that at least a significant minority of YU students are into real academics). I just don’t think that all non-academic study of judaism should be lumped together with artscroll (ten minutes of almost any YU shiur should disabuse you of that notion). You specifically implied that YU students rely on artscroll, i.e. translations, which is just not true at all.

    I didn’t know you were a JTS student when I wrote my post, so I didn’t mean any personal insult. I just chose JTS and Brandeis as generic places with good Jewish studies programs, whose students are at a disadvantage in reading primary texts compared to YU students. I’m glad that you are confident in your ability to read gemara, but how many of your classmates have seen fifty blatt of gemara in their entire lives, let alone covered that much material in one year? And why is it that your insulting my school and my professors is just fine, but me making a parenthetical remark about yours is something I should watch???

    Mordy- I didn’t realize that being anonymous on a blog was problematic. No need to unmask me, you can just ask.

    P.S. I didn’t realize that peacing out was a synonym for being FORCED out. You said one need not wonder why Brill left. Was being denied tenure what you had in mind????


    Mas · April 21st, 2007 at 11:55 pm
  46. One positive note: Artscroll siddurim and haggadot feature very nice typography, best in the field I’d wager.


    Zach Fine · April 23rd, 2007 at 4:57 am

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"I may attack a certain point of view which I consider false, but I will never attack a person who preaches it. I have always a high regard for the individual who is honest and moral, even when I am not in agreement with him. Such a relation is in accord with the concept of kavod habriyot, for beloved is man for he is created in the image of God." —Rav Joseph Soloveitchik