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About Me

No longer take comments. Post's 'labels' are unreliable for linking or searching. Use the INDEX OF POSTS instead. A fairly accurate, but incomplete INDEX of Posts & good overview and understanding of this blog READ SOME REASONS TO REJECT ORTHODOX JUDAISM my April 2014 post or click link above. Born into an Orthodox Jewish family (1950's) and went to Orthodox Yeshiva from kindergarten thru High School plus some Beis Medrash.Became an agnostic in my 20's and an atheist later on. My blog will discuss the arguments for god and Orthodox Judaism and will provide counter arguments. I no longer take comments. My blog uses academic sources, the Torah, Talmud and commentators to justify my assertions. The posts get updated. IF YOU GET A MESSAGE THAT THE POST IS MISSING - LOOK FOR IT IN THE INDEX or search or the date is found in the address.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Challenge Of Creation - Rabbi Slifkin - Part Three

It would be helpful to at least skim The Challenge Of Creation - Rabbi Slifkin - Part One and then Part 2

Part Three-Evolution

Page 253 RS writes the Nazis claimed Evolution as the basis for their evil beliefs, and that has nothing to do with if Evolution is true. Just because some use the Bible as a basis for their evil action has nothing to do with if the Bible is true.

IMHO - Evolution does not directly or indirectly teach us how we ought to behave. (But maybe there are some who claim they can ‘deduce’ or ‘infer’ indirectly from Evolution  how we ought to behave).  However, the Bible does tell us directly how we ought to behave.  If the Bible advocates evil actions and if it is claimed G-d authored the Bible then the advocacy for evil  is a legitimate basis to question the truth of the Bible - this under the assumption G-d has certain commonly accepted attributes.

Page 260 RS - If the laws of nature are such that life will emerge, then this points to the laws having a designer.

I assume RS thinks G-d. I am not sure why the laws of nature can not just be.  Why do we need to add another layer of complexity by invoking G-d ?

See  Proof of God from Origin of Life

Page 270 Previously RS has all but written Genesis is not science, it is not meant to teach accurate history. [In short, Genesis is factually wrong].  RS is opposed to reading Genesis as science , yet on page 270 he begins to find Evolution (meaning science)  in Genesis ! Specifically Gradualism and Transformation.   For example he cites Rabbi Nissin and the Arbarbanel to support ‘transformation’ in Genesis.

In addition, the quotes he provides from those Rabbis all but treat Genesis as actual history.

Page 285 If I understand RS’s book (not just this section) correctly, RS sees evidence of G-d because physical laws point to a law giver, a designer. Also, G-d designed physical laws which were used in creating and operating the world. Maybe even those laws were designed by G-d so that life would arise. But RS can’t quite be a Deist with G-d making the laws and then walking way. Rather, RS also wants a G-d that interferes in the world - maybe (by outright open miracles ? or by)  tweaking things in a way that we don’t notice. Say thru Quantum Theory or Chaos Theory or perhaps some other way.  RS also claims ‘we’ see G-d’s hand in the day to day running of the world notwithstanding the scientific explanation.

For the law giver argument see See Kalam Cosmological Proof of God - Premises and Conclusion repudiated.  For the Chaos and Quantum tweaking see my notes in Part One for  page 72. 

Moreover, I have never seen any evidence of G-d’s involvement in the world. If RS means by this physical laws something like the birth of a baby why must any of that be attributed to G-d ? 

Maybe RS is referring to some historical events that he sees as a hidden or open miracle. There is absolutely no evidence for any open miracle. If RS is referring to hidden miracle they are so well hidden as to be essentially invisible and non existent. See Proof of God from Miracles or Kuzari Argument Part 9

If RS is referring to miracle of Prophecy or miracles involving Israel or Jewish people see Proof of God From Prophecy , Proof of God via Jewish Survival, Jewish Suffering, and the Bible Predictor (Part One) and part two, Proof of God from Israel 

Page 287 RS - Atheists understand that astronomy does not score points against religion.

I think it does. Some examples: It shattered an Earth and man centered universe. It showed the falsehood of  the notion ‘G-d in Heaven’. It taught us that likely no G-d was directly involved in the creation of planet Earth, that no supernatural being or ‘intelligences’ are required for planets to orbit...

Page 289 RS attempts to explain why religious people oppose naturalistic Evolution. One reason he provides that it is hard even for intelligent people to understand that scientific explanation do not rule out G-d’s role.

G-d becomes superfluous once science has an explanation. Evolution operates with no supernatural intervention; with no ultimate goal species.

Page 290 RS - Naturalistic explanation does not paint G-d out of the picture.

The explanations may not disprove the existence of G-d, but they keep limiting his roles.

Page 294 RS - G-d works thru science.

What evidence does RS have for the existence of G-d ? That he works thru science ? Scientific explanations have been painting G-d out of the picture and teaching us Genesis is wrong.  

Page 295 - RS writes it is impossible to determine if something is truly random. RS thinks he is finding a flaw in the blind watchmaker - i.e Evolution. That we really can not prove anything 
is random and that would include Evolution. 

If the data passes all the tests for randomness then for all practical purposes the data is random.  We never ‘truly’ 100%  know anything. One can always invent explanations - witness the cargo cults or the mountains of religious apologetics written. But the main flaw in RS’s flaw is this. If  nature appears to us as random, then the most reasonable conclusion is it is probably random. We have no reason to think otherwise.  

Lets assume  nature appears random,  but it really is not. That would imply G-d is deceiving us.     

RS also seems to argue random environmental changes that may give rise to certain creatures appear to us random because we are ignorant. I assume he would argue a meteorite wiping out a certain animal group may not have been really random, there was a guiding watchmaker. 

We have to ask ourselves does the data support the G-d hypothesis or not. Apparent randomness (even if we can not 100% prove it is truly random) is a strike against the G-d hypothesis, even if RS can come up with all sorts of apologetics. 

Page 297 RS discusses Numbers 26:52-56 where land is to be allotted to the Israelite tribes by a lottery.  But despite the seeming randomness of the process it was just a guise for Divine decision which had already predestined the allotments. 

See this post Who Wrote the Bible Part One where I discussed this very section. 

Page 304 RS - argues since there is complexity present in living creatures we have to invoke a designer to make the laws of nature and the world that would result in the evolution of the creature or make the creature directly.

We seem be back to the arguments of: Design; Fine Tuning; Where did the Laws of Nature Come From; where did complexity come from.

See Proof of God from Design ; Proof of God From Fine Tuning  ; Kalam Cosmological Proof of God - Premises and Conclusion repudiated

Page 307 and footnote 1 - RS cites  Futuyama who wrote: the natural world does not conform to our expectations of what an omnipotent, omniscient and truthful creator would have created. To Creationist who explain but the ways of G-d is a mystery is thus admitting creationism can predict nothing and so cannot be science. RS writes responds: the lack of predictability might disqualify it from being science but it does not disqualify it from being true !

Science is about truth seeking. One of it’s principles is a hypothesis should  be able to make predictions so we can test if the hypotheses is true !  In general, a hypothesis that makes no predictions is a strike against that hypothesis. We are less confident about it’s truth. 

Page 326 - RS injects a spiritual element into the creation of man. Man has a spiritual aspect that animals do not have. This soul differentiates man and animal.  But then on page 327 RS writes  man’s “spiritual/intellectual” nature is the key.  Then he writes man’s spiritual nature not his physical body is the fundamental man quality.

Does RS mean there is actually a non physical soul that exists ?  If so what evidence exists for this. It would also mean some spiritual thing is interacting with physical things. But how ? Also natural laws need to be modified to allow this to happen and would mean our physics, biology, chemistry is wrong. 

Does RS think intelligence is not the result of our physical body’s output ? That our intelligence needs something beyond the physical realm ? An intelligence of the gaps. I would argue that would be unlikely. Scientists are now able to watch us think thru MRI type equipment, suggesting thought process, feelings.... are in our biology.

Some animals are pretty good problem solvers. Do they also have some sort of ‘spiritual/intellectual’ nature. And if not how would RS explain their abilities ? 

Even if man’s intelligence is different in ‘kind’ from animals, it does not mean intelligence was not a product of Evolution. Is this the soul of the gaps argument ? 

See Proof of God from Life; Genesis 2:7

See Proof of God from Free Will, Justice, Consciousness, BLANK

Page 329 RS- claims  Ramban (Genesis 2:7 commentary) mentions a notion that man derived from a lower being. 

Ramban never remotely suggests man’s body evolved from any non human animal. Rather G-d formed mans body from clay and made him a mobile being.  G-d also gave a special type of soul to that man. This has nothing to do with the evolution of man from prior hominids and primates or that man's physical body has changed from a prior primate into a modern human.

RS advocates Genesis is not really science, but then he seems to keep trying to find science in Genesis !

See Proof of God from Life; Genesis 2:7

For what Ramban was intending see  The Science of God Schroeder Part 4

Page 331 RS - Man’s unique spiritual component sets him apart from animals. 

In contradiction to this RS on page 332 gives an example  based on Mishna Kelayim 8:5 where apes also posses certain  human like “spiritual” aspects !

Page 338 RS notes that Genesis 2:7 G-d creates man from dust contradicts science. RS proposes it could be a metaphor/allegory/parable. Or maybe it was easy for people to grasp. Or it is an abstraction of some deeper concept of man’s nature.

See See Proof of God from Life; Genesis 2:7

This is how all problems go away if any Torah verse contradicts science. Call them metaphors/allegory/parable. Or say the Torah lied because it was easier for people to grasp.  Is this intellectual honesty ? Nothing in the Torah  means anything.

What problems ? The problems being discussed by RS, but also other 'problems' found in this post: Some Reasons To Reject Orthodox Judaism

But maybe all these ‘problems’ have the simplest solution of all. The Torah was written by people who did not know factual reality. Such a solution is supported by all the data and also because occam's razor.

What religious people fail to grasp that all these ‘problems’ are strikes against the Torah being divine, and strikes against the plausibility of the Orthodox Jewish narrative. This is true even if Orthodox Jews have apologetic answers to the problems. 


Page 346 RS Six days of creation are not historical. It is a conceptual account.

Page 350 RS Genesis is best understood not as a scientific account but rather as theological cosmology.

Those two sentences are the crux of RS's solutions to the challenges of Creation.

Yet the Torah and Oral Tradition indicate Genesis was giving actual history.  For example Genesis 1:28 - G-d blesses man.   Genesis 1:28 - G-d tells them be fruitful and multiply - this is one of mitzvos/precepts/commandments.  Genesis 1:29 - G-d tells man what to eat.

As I complete this non exhaustive review of RS’s book there are several more points to discuss. 

First, RS occasionally resorts to very similar apologetics found in Rambam. The following posts are  relevant to repudiating some of such apologetics.  Cut Off in the Bible,  Statute Forever in the Bible,  Explanations of Pagan Customs in Judaism with some notes on Maimonides 

Second, RS may have written an apologetic for Cosmology and Evolution, but the Noah story may present an even greater challenge  - see The Challenge of Noah .

Third, If the Orthodox Jewish narrative is true why are there so many ‘problems’ with it ? Why do the non Orthodox Jewish solutions to the problems seem more likely; more reasonable;  more consistent with everything we know about science, history, archaeology, ancient near east, language, the evolution of religion, the history of Judaism, the Torah text  etc:  than the Orthodox Jewish solutions ? 

Fourth, the careful reader will notice I have brought attention to some of the inconsistencies, logical or otherwise found  RS's book.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

The Challenge Of Creation - Rabbi Slifkin - Part Two

Updated thru 11/22/2016

Please at least skim The Challenge of Creation - Rabbi Slifkin Part One.

Part Two - Cosmology 

Page 176  RS- The Lubabvitch Rebbe claims that Rabbi Lipschitz wrote certain apologetics to enhance Judaism in the eyes of the secular world, but that Rabbi Lipschitz himself  did not believe that apologetics himself. Rabbi Kanievsky claims Rabbi Lipschitz wrote it for the sake of people distanced from Judaism.  

When reading some Kiruv (outreach) material or having discussions with some Kiruv workers or some Orthodox  Jews I have been perplexed if the authors or those individuals believe what they pontificate.  If  Orthodox Judaism is true why would any Orthodox Jew have to engage in deceptions ?  

See the The Tenacity Of Unreasonable Beliefs 

Page 188 RS discredits the reconciliation of science and Genesis found in Schroeder’s book The Science of God and corrects a few of Schroeder misinterpretations, translations of the Torah and some holy commentators. 

RS was not writing a review of Schroeder's book so RS’s critique is very limited. For a more thorough  review of most of the Schroeder book see the sequence begun here The Science of God -Schroeder - Chapter 9  and here The Science of God - Schroeder which reviews Chapter 1 thru 4

Page 191 Here we come to one of RS's resolutions. The order in creation is not physical reality, but a conceptual order.

But the Torah could have informed this thus not misleading us in so many ways.  

Page 198 RS explains why the Torah does not give accurate information for the development of the Universe. It was meant to have layers of meaning. It was written for men, women and children of all ages in different time periods and cultures. Also, each generation provides new insights and new meanings.

But surely a knowledgeable person, let alone an omniscient G-d can do all that with out providing misleading and false information.  Information we find out is false millennium after the Torah was written.

The apologetic that  each generation  provides new insights and new meanings seems to be a religious way of writing that past generations understood the Torah incorrectly.  Now we know better. It is also a way the ‘committed’ believers can bury themselves in an impenetrable coffin of non falsifiability. 

Orthodox  Jews claim they have special insight to understand the Torah thru an alleged Oral Tradition back to Mount Sinai.  If the old meanings were wrong, then exactly what are the special insights going back to Mount Sinai ? And how can these new insights and new meanings be valid as Oral Tradition ? They are new, and thus not part of oral tradition. Religious may then begin a debate on what ‘oral tradition’ consists of picking and choosing what to include. They may claim XYZ is part of Oral Tradition, but not ABC. This becomes another way to make the Torah and Oral Tradition non falsifiable and or undefinable. 

Page 200 Rs - The account has to be presented so as to be grasped by young and simple minds thru the generations.. 

But surely a knowledgeable person, let alone an omniscient G-d can do all that without providing misleading and false information.  Information we find out is false millennium after the Torah was written.

Page 200 RS- Also there are hidden secrets in the Torah.

What sort of secrets ? Scientific secrets ? Mystical secrets ? Are these secrets really just imaginative speculations ?  Retroactive  readings ? 

I don’t find RS's apologetics compelling.

See Proof of God From Secrets in Holy Texts

Page 200 - RS - Torah had to be suitable for the generation leaving Egypt.

The Torah still could have presented true facts, even in a simplified form.

Page 207 RS - If the Torah told people the truth about the development of the Universe [that people occupy an infinitesimal portion of the Universe and we only came around about 14 billion years after the Big Bang]  people would have difficulty retaining the concept of the pre-eminence of man. 

But surely a knowledgeable person, let alone an omniscient G-d can do all that without providing misleading and false information.

Also per Rambam the world was not created for man - see Proof of God From Fine Tuning.

The development of the Universe is quite suggestive to the insignificance of man.

Page 209 RS - The small times scale of Genesis (6 days) provides the message the universe  was created for man. 

But surely a knowledgeable person, let alone an omniscient G-d can do all that without providing misleading and false information.

Also per Rambam the world not created for man, not withstanding the short time scale of Genesis !  Also see my post Proof of God From Fine Tuning.

Page 209 RS - Why did not G-d create the Universe in 6 actual days ? RS answers because G-d wants to work thru natural processes and this takes billions of years.

Yet if it was all via natural process - then there is no need for an active G-d in the creation. G-d would have only made the natural laws !

RS may respond G-d has to tweak natural laws now and then. That would imply  G-d is not really working thru natural laws. 

Also, an omnipotent G-d could have designed different laws of physics that gave rise to man in 6 actual days.

Page 209 RS - G-d created an immense Universe to humble man.

But what if people never discovered this immensity ? It is certain many people in ancient times would thus not be humbled. 

How did the Torah know people would ever discover the true immensity of the Universe and thus humble man ? I guess the religious would respond an omniscient G-d would know the future. It is very difficult for ‘committed believers’ to remain ‘rational’. Even the ‘rational’ believers will resort to the ‘get out of jail free’ card: G-d is a mystery, works in hidden ways, can do miracles, is omniscient, all powerful, knows the future... making all problems disappear. 

Page 211 RS implies the scientific findings are a revelation to man.

Does RS mean a divine revelation ? Does RS have any evidence for such an audacious claim ? 

Page 225 RS - “Again, one must remember that Genesis is visibly not science at all. It speaks of six days rather than billions of years. There is no pretense of it being a scientific account.”

Today we know Genesis is not accurate science. But when it was authored it may well have been understood as ‘science’ or the history of the Universe. Just because Genesis got the science wrong does not at all imply it was not understood a true history.  

Devout Orthodox Jews can not admit the Torah is false. Anything in the Torah that appears false has to be reinterpreted, rationalized, excused so that they can still claim the Torah is true. This is the non falsifiability game. The Torah is never false. Either we have been misunderstanding the Torah all along or every single academic finding that may contradict the Torah is wrong. 

Page 225 RS - notes the second Genesis creation story sequence contradicts the first creation story and this is evidence Genesis first account is not science.

Actually the most likely reason is the Torah redactors were retaining disparate written and or oral traditions regarding the creation story. Out of respect or perhaps other reasons both stories get recorded. There is ancient  precedent for such a practice. 

{ETA 11/22/2016 Regarding Genesis 1-11 myths: Creation Traditions, Flood, Babel. There are two different compositions. Duplications are not a surprise in light of near east evidence - with native variations of the basic myths of creation, flood,cosmic conflict. It is unsurprising the final edition of the Pentateuch juxtaposes these two accounts since near east scribes often combined 'contradictory' myths and traditions. For example Horus myths from Edfu. See page 339 Ancient Texts For The Study of The Hebrew Bible - Kenton Sparks 2005 }

Page 226 RS - The Torah falsely reports the order of creation putting plants before the sun to teach the power of G-d and to down play sun worship.

Surely a knowledgeable person let alone an omnipotent G-d could accomplish those goals without resorting to falsehoods. Moreover, the goals will fail when ancient people discovered by accident or otherwise that plants need the sun and so the sun most likely came first.  The Torah would be at risk of ridicule by those ancient people. 

Implicit in RS's explanation is that ancient people would know plants need the Sun to grow. I am not sure we can make such an assumption. It is possible the people who were involved with the development of  Genesis One were not aware of the importance of the Sun for plant growth.  In addition, although we know the Sun makes the heavens light, we can not assume this was ancient man's conception. See Genesis and the Big Bang 

Page 243 RS - “The account of creation is a Divine adaptation of the historical occurrences, presented in a form most suited to teaching fundamental theological truths of creation.”

In other words, the Genesis creation story is not true, it is not accurate history.  It is like a parable/allegory/metaphor to teach theology. 

There is no evidence whatsoever that Genesis is divine. Besides, if Genesis  was authored by a knowledgeable person, let alone an omniscient G-d he could have accomplished those theological goals even while writing true history.

Continued The Challenge Of Creation - Rabbi Slifkin - Part Three

Saturday, November 19, 2016

The Challenge Of Creation - Rabbi Slifkin - Part One


There are thousands pages of commentary on the Torah, is it any wonder that by accident some ideas related to ‘science’ may be found within those commentators by coincidence.

The Torah was most likely authored by people;  just like Torah commentary was. Many of these individuals observed the world around them and knew of the ‘science’ of the day. So some accurate observations would seep into the Torah and commentary. 

Once people begin to interpret the Torah and tell us what it ‘really’ means they can come up with all sorts of notions. Some of those notions may even later be discovered to be true by science. Here are some possible inventions ‘deduced’ from  Genesis 1:27 And G-d created man in his image, the image of G-d he created him; male and female he created them.

Man was first created in two halves, one female and one male  that were then separated.

G-d has male and female attributes. 

Man is in the image of G-d, but not women. In the image of G-d he created him, but it does not write that about females. 

Change of gender operations are against G-d’s wish. Male and Female he created them and one should not go against G-d’s creation.. 

Male and female are supposed to have distinct roles.

Male and female although distinct, share certain characteristics.

Males came first then females.

Males are more important and superior. Male was first created this must mean he is more important.

Heterosexual sex is good and should be enjoyed because G-d made males and females.

Sex is to be tolerated because we are supposed to emulate  G-d who does not have sex.

Homosexuality is bad because male and female sex was the intention.

G-d is corporeal since man is in his image. An incorporeal thing can not have an image. 

G-d is not corporeal since man is only in his image. Image is meant to exclude corporeal. 

Some of the above ‘interpretations’  have actually been suggested in Torah commentary !

In short, the Torah becomes a meaningless book for people to interpret as they see fit. 

I had never read Rabbi Slifkin’s (RS) book The Challenge of Creation. Nor was I aware of his  ‘solutions’ to the challenges posed by science to the first three chapters of Genesis, which will be referred  to as Genesis. In some conversations, his name came up and I was encouraged to read his book, so I have now read his 2008 second edition. I understand there may be new editions but I do not think the essentials have changed. 

My review is not a complete check or a complete analysis of  the book. My silence regarding any portion of the book is not an admission of my agreement (or disagreement) with that portion. 

For the most part RS solutions are not novel to me, since I recollect essentially similar ones at least  4 decades ago from some orthodox Jews, including ‘reputable’ Rabbis !  The core method of his solutions date back at least to Philo.  Lest I be accused of diminishing RS contributions,  he admits on page 20 that not a single significant Idea in the book is of his own creation. 

When I specify page numbers like Page ### , read it as beginning on Page ###. Usually I  will summarize RS’s position, hopefully accurately,  and then provide counter points. 

These RS posts will most often not be about the correct  interpretation of Genesis or this or that commentator, nor the theological acceptability of RS’s sources or interpretation of those sources. Nor will I tend to cite Torah verses or theological sources that may disagree with anything in RS’s book. That his book was banned by some Orthodox Rabbis indicates that likely there is some dispute with RS’s theology , interpretations etc:. Nevertheless, sometimes I will dispute ‘theology’, and  especially if you read some of the links to my posts. 

The first page of the book (actually is page 10) begins “This book was written for those who are committed to the tenets of Judaism,...”;  this gave me pause and a chuckle. 

Since I probably do not qualify  as ‘committed to the tenets of Judaism’ perhaps I should not be reading the book. 

Here in the USA there was/is a saying  ‘He ought to be committed’ which means  to an insane asylum.  I can not help but begin to think religions are a sort virus damaging intellectual honesty, free inquiry,  and critical thinking skills. 

What does committed mean ? Intellectually honest, rational people and truth seekers  should not be committed to any particular religion or for that matter any belief. Rather, they should examine the data and as new data comes in they should be willing to update their beliefs if needed.

What are the tenets of Judaism ? That would require a book or two and at the end of the day Jews, even Orthodox Jews would disagree with each other. For example there may be a wide, (but not a 100% consensus) that XYZ is a tenet of Judaism, but as soon as you try to get an explanation  of what XYZ really means all hope evaporates.  Religions in general, including Judaism are amorphous and not well defined. That is strike against the religion. How can somebody evaluate the truth of an ill defined religion ?  

My labels Part One, Part Two, Part Three Correspond to RS’s book’s three parts.

As I skimmed the book it appeared RS is probably too scientifically literate and  intellectually honest to: 1) dismiss the science; 2) distort our holy sage commentators , Talmud and the Genesis by twisting Genesis into science; 3) accept other popular apologetic explanations that he discusses (and dismisses for some valid reasons). With great suspense and anticipation I plowed on to read the details of RS’ solutions. 

All my previous blog posts were written prior to my reading RS’s book,  nevertheless many of them address his book and I post links to my recalled relevant posts.

Part One  - Science 

Page 46 - RS thinks the universe was designed with man as it’s purpose. 

RS has provided no compelling reason for this assertion. Moreover, one of  RS’s champions the Rambam disagrees with such a notion -  see Proof of God From Fine Tuning.

Page 53 RS - Complexity, Order, Symmetry , Beauty point to a designer. I think RS means G-d as the designer. 

See Proof of God from DesignProof of God From Fine Tuning

RS dismisses the Multiverse idea because there is no evidence of other Universes.  However, the Multiverse idea was motivated by other evidence based science and as a solution to some problems in modern science. The Multiverse idea was not developed because scientists wanted to deny supernatural being(s).  Since RS is so keen on evidence based reasoning does he have even one iota of evidence for supernatural being(s) ? 

Page 72-73 RS   suggests perhaps G-d can change the course of nature without breaking the laws of nature - based on Chaos Theory and or Quantum Theory.

Actually these are no help. Chaos theory is simply the notion that small changes in inputs can have major changes in outputs.  G-d making the changes in the inputs would be a violation of the laws of nature, even if we did not notice the change being made.  In some interpretation of Quantum theory  the outcomes of experiments are probabilistic. The odds are calculated according to certain equations. Again, God monkeying around with the probabilities of the outcomes is still a violation of the laws of nature, even if we may not notice it occurring. There is no evidence whatsoever of any of the laws of nature ever being violated - at least in the vicinity of planet Earth.

Page 77 First Cause Argument - A chain of causes back to the beginning. Presumably the first cause being G-d. 

Modern science tends not to write of causes. Rather, the universe evolves from one state to the next.  {ETA 11/21/2016 - Some interpretations of Quantum Theory explain outcomes of experiments are probabilistic. This could complicate the notion of the evolution of the states.} Anyway, modern science can trace the Universe’s history back to a Big Bang. What was there before the Big Bang is unknown. However, some cosmologist believe a quantum fluctuation eventually gave rise to the Big Bang. I am not sure how RS deduces a G-d from this. 

The fact that man has been able to mathematically model the Universe is not indicative of any Prime Mover/Causer/Designer/Creator of the Universe.  

See Proof of God From Big Bang, Kalam Cosmological Proof of God Premises and Conclusions Repudiated

Page 86 - RS - The Big Bang confirms the Universe had a beginning, just like Judaism claims.   

The Torah may not be advocating creation ex-nihilo or the Universe having a beginning.   See Kalam Cosmological Proof of God Repudiated by Theology

Also, either the Universe/it's building blocks always existed or they did not always exist. Even if the Torah ‘wrote’ the correct scientific history, (a scientific history we are still not sure of) it is unimpressive since there is a  50-50 chance of getting the correct choice.

Page 94 RS - "Free inquiry can lead to problems, but so can the suppression of free inquiry. The best solution to this difficult problem would appear to be measured rational inquiry.”

The problem with free inquiry according many religious people is it can lead to people abandoning Judaism.  RS’s  comment is tantamount to advocating intellectual dishonesty. Truth seeking  needs to be unfettered regardless to where it may lead; otherwise the individual will be uninformed and could reach incorrect conclusions.  

Page 98 - RS For many hundreds of years Torah scholars have engaged in reconciling Torah and the wisdom of the day.

The  Torah has been reconciled with the wisdom/science of the day by someone someplace going back at least to Philo. What is really going on is interpreting and reinterpreting the Torah text and or holy commentators until they are reconciled. This makes the Torah non-falsifiable. In other words ‘committed’ believers always have a solution to any verse(s) causing a ‘problem’.  Just ‘translate’, ‘reinterpret’, ‘interpret’, quote mine the false verse away. Thus, the Torah has no meaning, but rather it has a meaning imposed on it.

As I end this Part One review another related post is Proof Of God From Free Will, Justice, Consciousness, BLANK

 Continued The Challenge Of Creation - Rabbi Slifkin - Part Two 

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Jewish Oral Law Part 4, Demons

Continued from Jewish Oral Law Part 3, Treatment of Heretics 

Oral Tradition writes about evil spirits and demons.

Here is a sampling just from Talmud and Midrash Genesis Rabbah.

Sanhedrin 101a Demons may not be consulted on Sabbath.

Chagigah 16a “Our Rabbis taught: Six things are said
concerning demons:  in regard to three, they
are like the ministering angels; and in regard
to three, like human beings. ‘In regard to
three they are like the ministering angels’:
they have wings like the ministering angels;
and they fly from one end of the world to the
other like the ministering angels; and they
know what will happen like the ministering

Pesachim 112b “ ‘And do not go out alone at night’, for it was taught: One should not go out alone at night, i.e., on
the nights of neither Wednesday nor Sabbaths, because Igrath the daughter of Mahalath [queen of demons]  she and one hundred eighty thousand destroying angels go forth, and each has permission to wreak destruction independently.”

Berachoth 6a If one wants to discover them [the foot print of demons], let him take sifted ashes and sprinkle around his bed, and in the morning he will see something like the footprints of a cock. If one wishes to see them, let him take the after-birth of a black she-cat, the offspring of a black she-cat, the first-born of a first-born, let him roast it in fire and grind it to powder, and then let him put some into his eye, and he will see them.

Nidah 24b - Rab Judah citing Samuel ruled: If an abortion had the likeness of Lilith  its mother is unclean by reason of the birth, for it is a child, but it has wings. The notes explain Lilith - A female demon of the night, reputed to have wings and a human face.

Gittin 68b Ashmedai is the prince of the demons. This Talmud also discusses some supernatural events involving  this demon. 

Sabbath 151b R. Hanina said: One may not sleep in a house alone, and whoever sleeps in a house alone is seized by Lilith.

Genesis Rabbah 7 - G-d created the souls of the demons, but did not complete their bodies on account of G-d resting on Sabbath. Thus the demons remained without body.

Genesis Rabbah 9 R. Phinehas said : In the sixth [day of creation] He [G-d] created six things: Adam, Eve, creeping things, cattle, beasts, and demons. 

The Encyclopedia of Judaism - 1989 Editor in Chief Geoffrey Wigoder

Page 202 - The Pseudepigrapha, Midrash and Talmud contain a highly developed demonology.  “The Talmud records various incantations and adjurations against demons.”  Hillel and Johanan Ben Takkai understood the speech of demons. 

In the middle ages belief in their existence and potency for harm was commonly accepted among Jews. Judah Halevi and the Ramban argued they existed. The Shulchan Aruch contains a few laws that reflect a belief in demons. Ibn Ezra and Rambam denounced believers in demons as sinners. 

[There is no evidence for the existence of demons. Moreover, we have the laws of physics and they operate without the intervention of any demons. If somebody claims there are demons that interact with the world that is tantamount to claiming the suspension of known physical laws. 

It is much more likely demons don’t exist. They were  the inventions of ancient ignorant superstitious peoples.]

Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Challenge of Noah, Part Two

Updated thru 11/4/2016 - added commentary from JPS

Please at least skim The Challenge of Noah, Part 1 first.

This post will be devoted to sinking the Apologetic that the Noah story is an allegory/metaphor/parable. Religious people who advocate this approach probably acknowledge there was no world wide deluge, yet the Tenach and Oral Tradition is most likely describing a global deluge as I explained in part one. 

We will see that the Tenach and Oral Tradition almost certainly did not consider the Noah story an allegory, but rather as actual history. 

We will see the story provides the basis for actual commandments (see below). It would be odd to base commandments on a fictional story. Also, for example the Noahide laws apply to all mankind. They are called Noahide laws because the children of Noah were given seven laws and accepted them. But if all mankind did not descend from Noah, the laws would only apply to Noah descendants and not the rest of mankind.

Finally, if the Noah story is fictional which parts are fictional ? It is a slippery slope. “Genesis 9:18 And the sons of Noah, that went forth from the ark, were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth; and Ham is the father of Canaan. 19 These three were the sons of Noah, and of these was the whole earth overspread.”
Note these verses imply all mankind descend from Noah and it refers to the flood story. But if the flood story is fictional maybe the Torah genealogies are fiction. The genealogies leading up to Avarahum Avinu (Abraham our father) could be fictional. Then maybe Avrahum is also fictional and so the  Israelites would not be descendants of Abraham. 

The Tenach

The Tenach most likely meant the Noah story as actual history. Here are some examples.

Genesis 9:11 And I will establish My covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of the flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.

Note - Establishing a covenant based on a parable makes no sense.

Genesis 9:18 And the sons of Noah, that went forth from the ark, were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth; and Ham is the father of Canaan. 19 These three were the sons of Noah, and of these was the whole earth overspread.

Note these verses imply all mankind descend from Noah.

Genesis 9:18  "And the sons of Noah, that went forth from the ark, were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth; and Ham is the father of Canaan. 19 These three were the sons of Noah, and of these was the whole earth overspread. 20 And Noah the husbandman began, and planted a vineyard. 21 And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent. 22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without. 23 And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father's nakedness. 24 And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his youngest son had done unto him. 25 And he said: Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. 26 And he said: Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem; and let Canaan be their servant. 27 God enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and let Canaan be their servant. 28 And Noah lived after the flood three hundred and fifty years. 29 And all the days of Noah were nine hundred and fifty years; and he died. 10:1 Now these are the generations of the sons of Noah: Shem, Ham, and Japheth; and unto them were sons born after the flood. 2 The sons of Japheth...

Verse 18 writes Noah and sons leave the Ark-an event-period-marker, Noah plants the vine yard after which various blessings and cursings and then in verse 28 we are back to the flood - an event-period-marker and writing Noah lived after the flood. It makes no sense that Noah lived 350 years after a parable. Verse 10:1 again used the flood-event-period marker and it makes no sense to write about people being born after a parable. 

Psalms 104:5 Who didst establish the earth upon its foundations, that it should not be moved for ever and ever; 6 Thou didst cover it with the deep as with a vesture; the waters stood above the mountains..

Psalms 29:10 The LORD sat enthroned at the flood; yea, the LORD sitteth as King for ever.

Psalms 104 and 29 recalls the flood.

Isaiah 54:9 For this is as the waters of Noah unto Me; for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth, so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee. 

Isaiah is treating the flood as an actual event.

Oral Tradition 

I am aware of no traditional sources advocating that the flood is an allegory.  My Orthodox Yeshivas taught the flood as a real event. In addition, if the story is an allegory why does the Talmud, Midrash, traditional commentators all provide additional real world information, details, miracles and facts about the flood ?

Here is sampling where it is self evident Oral tradition treats the flood as a real world event and sometimes it has legal implications.

1) Rambam - Guide to the Perplexed Part 3 Chapter 50

“It is one of the fundamental principles of the Law that the Universe has been created ex nihilo, and that of the human race, one individual being, Adam, was created. As the time which elapsed from Adam to Moses was not more than about two thousand five hundred years, people would have
doubted the truth of that statement if no other information had been added, seeing that the human race was spread over all parts of the earth in different families and with different languages, very unlike the one to the other. In order to remove this doubt the Law gives the genealogy of the nations (Gen. v. and x.), and the manner how they branched off from a common root. It names those of them who were well known, and tells who their fathers were, how long and where they lived. It describes also the cause that led to the dispersion of men over all parts of the earth, and to the formation of
their different languages, after they had lived for a long time in one place, and spoken one language (ibid, xi.), as would be natural for descendants of one person. The accounts of the flood (ibid, vi.-viii.) and of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (ibid, xix.), serve as an illustration of the doctrine that “Verily there is a reward for the righteous ; verily He is a God that judgeth in the earth” (Ps. IVIII. 12).

I have highlighted some very informative Rambam commentary. Let me explain. Rambam cites  Genesis X which begins with 10:1 Now these are the generations of the sons of Noah: Shem, Ham, and Japheth; and unto them were sons born after the “flood”

Rambam is advocating the genealogy as history. Notice people are being born after the “flood”. Would it not be odd that a history lesson’s first sentence involves an allegory ? It makes more sense the sons are born after the flood is being understood as history. 

The accounts of the flood (ibid, vi.-viii.) and of the destruction
of Sodom and Gomorrah (ibid, xix.), serve as an illustration of the doctrine that “Verily there is a reward for the righteous ; verily He is a God that judgeth in the earth” (Ps. Iviii. 12).

Rambam is writing the flood and Sodom and Gomorrah are  illustrating a doctrine. How would fictional stories illustrate a reward for righteous or judgment ?  

2) Ramban commentary on

Genesis VI - Ramban asks how did the Ark space accommodate the many large animals ? And answers is was a miracle.

[It make no sense for G-d to provide a miracle in a fictional event.] [A reading of Ramban’s Noah story commentary makes clear he understood the flood as a real event.]

3) Rashi commentary on

Genesis VII:11 Rashi cites a dispute among the ancient Rabbis regarding which month the flood starts.

4) Genesis Rabbah 

28.8 - The earth acted lewdly; wheat was sown and it
produced pseudo-wheat, for the pseudo-wheat we now
find came from the age of the deluge. [Thus the flood is considered a real event]

28.8 Judgement of the flood generation lasts twelve months. [Talmud explains they also had no portion in the world to come.]

34.11 Discusses if the planets functioned during the flood. [Why the discussion if the flood was an allegory ?]

5) Talmud

The Talmud almost certainly is treating the Flood as a real world event and using the Noah story  to deduce actual law. Here are some examples. 

In Sanhedrin 56b, the Talmud tries to deduce halacha (oral law) from Genesis 9:6. 

Sanhendrin 59a “Our Rabbis taught: But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat, [Genesis9:4] this prohibits flesh cut from the living animal. R. Hanina b. Gamaliel said: It also prohibits blood drawn from a living animal....” [A halacha embedded in a fictional event ?]

Zevachim 113a - It seems halacha depends on  whether the holy land was flooded or not. How could a halacha depend on a fictional event ?

Sanhedrin 108a “Our Rabbis taught: The generation of the flood have no portion in the world to come, as it is written, And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground and every living substance was destroyed refers to this world; which was upon the face of the ground...”

Berachoth 59a 
“For at the time when the Holy One, blessed be He, wanted to bring a flood upon the world, He took two stars from Kimah and brought a flood upon the world.”

Roah Hashona 11b “ ‘In the sixth hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month.’ [Genesis 7:11]  R. Joshua said: That day was the seventeenth day of Iyar, when the constellation of Pleiades sets at daybreak and the fountains begin to dry up, and because they [mankind] perverted their ways, the Holy One, blessed be He, changed for them the work of creation and made the constellation of Pleiades rise at daybreak and took two stars from the Pleiades and brought a flood on the world.”

Rosh Hashona 12a “Our Rabbis taught: ‘The wise men of Israel follow R. Eliezer in dating the Flood and R. Joshua in dating the annual cycles, while the scholars of other peoples follow R. Joshua in dating the Flood.”

6) Stone edition commentary

Page 14 - The flood begins in the year 1656 from creation.

Page 19 Be fruitful and multiply found in Genesis 9:7 is a command (Rashi).  Genesis  9:3 G-d now givess man permission to eat meat.  Genesis 9:5 G-d places another limitation on man’s right to take life. An accounting from one who spills his own blood.

Regarding Genesis 9:18-27  - Noah was humiliated resulting in blessing and curses. And regarding 9:25-27 Rav Hirsch calls them the most far reaching prophecy ever uttered.

[Can all the above based on an allegorical story ? ]

{ETA 11/4/2016 (7)  JPS - Jewish Publication Society The Jewish Study Bible - Berlin and Brettler Editors 2004

Page 25 In the Talmud,  Genesis 9:5  is interpreted as a prohibition against suicide (Talmud Bava Kama 91b).  And verse 6 is cited as support against abortion (Talmud Sanh. 57b). Regarding verses verses 8-17: "In the talmud, it is taught the 'descendents of Noah'   - that is universal humanity - are obligated by seven commandments:..."

[Notice all humanity descends from Noah. This must mean all other people had been wiped out in an actual flood. Also odd indeed for the Torah to embed laws within a fictional narrative. ] }

{eta 12/22/2019  (8) Sefer Kuzari I, 67  - written by Judah Halevi. He mentions Prophetic traditions of Adam and Noah. [In other words they were real people who provided traditions.] }

The Challenge of Noah, Part One

11/4/2016 Updated for a correction regarding Talmud Sanhedrin 108
Updated 11/19/2021 to cite Isaiah 54:9

The story of Noah and the Deluge encapsulates many of the major problems with the Orthodox Jewish narrative. The story conflicts with Biology, Genetics,  Geology,  Archaeology,  History, and Modern Bible scholarship. It has logistical impossibilities, and has pagan parallels. 

The focus of my Noah posts will be to show Orthodox Judaism has no intellectually honest responses to the challenges posed by the Noah story.

No modern scientific text advocates a worldwide deluge of the Biblical scale within the past 6000 years, and for very valid reasons. We may accept that it is almost certain it did not occur.

Apologetic responses have advocated a local flood or the Noah story is an allegory/metaphor/parable. Another approach is to accept a Biblical world wide flood and to make the flood fit with modern academic knowledge, typically by distorting modern academic knowledge or ignoring certain incongruities. When all else fails, cite miracles galore.

This post will torpedo the local flood approach and sink it.

Religious people who advocate this approach probably acknowledge there was no world wide deluge. It is a post hoc rationalization to force fit the Torah to modern science.  

The Tenach and Oral tradition are almost certainly describing a global flood.

The Tenach

I will quote some but not all chapters and verses supporting a worldwide flood.

Genesis 6:17 And I, behold, I do bring the flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; every thing that is in the earth shall perish.

Note the text “all flesh...under heaven”

Genesis 7:4 For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living substance that I have made will I blot out from off the face of the earth.'

Note the text “every living thing that I have made”

Genesis 7:19-20 And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high mountains that were under the whole heaven were covered. 

Note the text “all the high mountains that were under the whole heaven were covered. “

Genesis 7:23 And He blotted out every living substance which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and creeping thing, and fowl of the heaven; and they were blotted out from the earth; and Noah only was left, and they that were with him in the ark. 

Note the text - “Only Noah was left”

Genesis 9:11 And I will establish My covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of the flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.

Note - If the Torah deluge was a local  G-d’s promise makes no sense. There have been many local floods. What the text means is there will be no more world wide floods.

Isaiah 54:9 
“To me this is like the days of Noah,when I swore that the waters of Noah would never again cover the earth.”

This implies Noach was a global flood, because there have been many local floods.

Genesis 9:13 I have set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between Me and the earth. 14 And it shall come to pass, when I bring clouds over the earth, and the bow is seen in the cloud, 15 that I will remember My covenant, which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.

Note verse 15 “all flesh”. 

{ETA 11/3/2016 Genesis 9:18 And the sons of Noah, that went forth from the ark, were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth; and Ham is the father of Canaan. 19 These three were the sons of Noah, and of these was the whole earth overspread.

Note these verses imply all mankind descend from Noah and so ther must have been a global flood destroying all mankind.}

Psalms 104:5 Who didst establish the earth upon its foundations, that it should not be moved for ever and ever;
6 Thou didst cover it with the deep as with a vesture; the waters stood above the mountains.

Note verse 6 “cover it [the earth] and verse 5 it is referring to the entire earth not a local portion. 

I came across this in Commentary on the Torah by Richard Friedman 2001 - 

Page 35 [Regarding Genesis 6:11 And the earth was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.] The book explains here the Hebrew word Eretz (translated as earth) refers to all the earth. 

Page 37 Regarding Genesis 7:11 “It is far more than an ordinary rain. It is a cosmic crisis, in which the very structure of the Universe is endangered.”

Oral Tradition understood the Flood to be Worldwide

I am aware of no traditional sources advocating a local flood.  My Orthodox Yeshivas taught a global flood.

Here is sampling of traditional understanding.

A) Radak Commentary 

On Genesis 7:11 - he explains the surface of the globe was flooded.

On Genesis 7:21 he explains 15 cubits of water covered even the tallest mountains making it impossible for ANY person to survive. [My caps].

On Genesis 8:17 - only very few of each species left the ark. They were told once more they would be numerous. [It seems to me this implies a global flood. If the flood was only local, they were already numerous]

B) Ramban  Commentary 

Ramban explains - The Ararat mountains are among the highest under the heavens per all commentators. [Also see Genesis 7:19-20 And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high mountains that were under the whole heaven were covered.] 

On Genesis 8:2 - Water spread over the WHOLE EARTH. [My caps].

C) The Stone Edition Tenach - Rabbi:Blinder, Gold, Zlotowitz, Scherman 1996 Edition.

Page 14 Regarding Genesis 7:10-24 “The flood inundates the world”

D) Leviticus Midrash Rabbah 5.1 explains that after the flood the world was reconstructed from one man [Noah].

E) The Hirsch Chumash - Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch 2002 Translated by Daniel Habarman.

He writes beginning on page 172 - that the flood decayed bones and flesh and this would explain why no Antediluvian remains of man have been found. [This implies a world wide flood, because otherwise his explanation makes no sense.]

The Rav writes “Thus a whole generation went to its ruin because of its sin”; The whole generation was condemned to extermination, except Noach. “After 1,600 years of Human history, one man and his family stand alone and God continues to build his world upon this one man.”

Page 176 A new humanity descends from 3 ancestors.

Page 193 In the days of the Catastrophe a new world was formed.

Page 195 “Everything came to pass exactly as had been previously announced.”

F) Talmud 

Sanhedrin 108

“R. Johanan said: The corruption of the generation of the Flood is characterised as great, and their punishment is characterised as great. Their corruption is characterised as great, as it is written, And
God saw that the wickedness of man, was great in the earth; and their punishment is characterised as great, as it is written, All the fountains of the great deep. R. Johanan said: Three of those [hot
fountains] were left, the gulf of Gaddor, the hot-springs of Tiberias, and the great well of Biram.”

{It seems to me that “All the fountains of the great deep” are opened except three implies more, a lot more than a local flood. ETA 11/4/2016 - I think the talmud means to say all the fountains were closed after the flood except three.}

“Our Rabbis taught: The generation of the flood have no portion in the world to come, as it is written, And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground and every living substance was destroyed refers to this world; which was upon the face of the ground to the next....”

{It seems to me the term ‘generation of the flood’  is used without ‘local’ qualifiers thru out the Talmud and Rabbinic literature, meaning the entire generation of the flood, not just a local portion of the generation of the flood.}

Berachoth 59a 

“For at the time when the Holy One, blessed be He, wanted to bring a flood upon the world, He took two stars from Kimah and brought a flood upon the world.”

[It seems to me the terms “upon the world” implies non locality.]

Some Apologetics mislead by claiming there is a Talmud section that writes the flood was local. There is discussion in Talmud Zevachim 113a about whether the holy land was flooded or not. One master says yes, another no. Neither cite any other region that may not have been flooded. 

Continued Part 2

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Jewish Oral Law Part 3, Treatment of Heretics

Continued from Jewish Oral Tradition Part 2, Treatment of Women

The Jewish Oral law is discriminatory, intolerant (and worse) towards Jews or Israelites who act as non believers or are non believers - the laws I believe are referring to Jewish people like me, someone who was born into a Jewish family and taught 'traditional Judaism'. I do not think the laws were meant to apply to children born into non religious households and grow up to be non believers. 

Many in the Orthodox Jewish community behave consistent with the gestalt of these laws. This would include for example shunning,  family cutting off relations with the 'heretic', financial pressure and all sorts of tactics to bring the heretic in line. 

As if these laws are not outrageous enough, people like me are threatened by Oral Law and Tradition with suffering greatly after death and losing my share of the world to come. 

1) Kitzur Schulchan Aruch 1927 Rabbi Solomon Ganzfried - Translated by Hyman Goldin. From Volume IV, Chapter CCI : Apostates, Denouncers, Heretics when they die their brothers should eat, drink and rejoice.

2) The Code Of Maimonides Book 14, The Book of Judges - Translated by Abraham M. Hershman 1949, 1947

From Chapter III - One who publicly repudiated the Oral Law is put to death. These are classed as epicurens and any person has the right to put them to death.

Heretics, Apostates, those who deny the divine origin of scriptures are excommunicated. Whoever puts them to death fulfills a great precept. (On page 314 Epicuran means one who denies the reality of prophecy or Moses prophecy or maintains G-d has no knowledge of the deeds of man.)

The law regarding those who reject the Oral Law would not apply to those born into say a Karaite family. 

3) The Code Of Miamondies Book 11, The Book of Torts - Translated by Hymen Klein 1954, 1982

Chapter IV. At one time it was meritorious to kill apostates (and sectarians see below): Israelites who worship Idols; provocatively does sinful things; wears mingled clothing; eats carrion;

(Sectarians - Deny the authenticity of the Torah or prophecy. If you have the power, slay them publicly by the sword. Otherwise plot to bring about their death. Thus, if they fell in a well remove the ladder saying I need it for my son and will bring it back later.)

4) Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah  § 158, 2 - One who does not believe in the divine origin of the Law and in prophecy may be killed directly, or his death may be caused indirectly.

5) A heretic's testimony was not admitted in evidence in Jewish courts (Choshen Mishpat, 34, 22)

6) If an Israelite found an object belonging to a heretic, he was forbidden to return it to him. (Choshen Mishpat 266, 2).

Continued Jewish Oral Law Part 4, Demons

Friday, September 16, 2016

Who Wrote The Bible Part Three

Updated 10/26/2016 for typos. 

Continued from Who Wrote The Bible Part Two

After the Israelites leave Egypt they wander in the desert and eat manna. But when did the manna cease and when did they stop eating it  ? The answer is found in Joshua. 

In Joshua 3 The Israelites pass over to the west side of Jordan river.

Then  Joshua 4 

Joshua  4:19 And the people came up out of the Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and encamped in Gilgal, on the east border of Jericho.

And in Joshua 5 

5:10 And the children of Israel encamped in Gilgal; and they kept the passover on the fourteenth day of the month at even in the plains of Jericho. 11 And they did eat of the produce of the land on the morrow after the passover, unleavened cakes and parched corn, in the selfsame day. 12 And the manna ceased on the morrow, after they had eaten of the produce of the land; neither had the children of Israel manna any more; but they did eat of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year. 

In 5:12 manna ceases after the Israelites are on the west side of the Jordan. Also after they are on the west side of the Jordan they no longer eat manna.

Lets read Exodus 16

Exodus 16:35 And the children of Israel did eat the manna forty years, until they came to a land inhabited; they did eat the manna, until they came unto the borders of the land of Canaan.

Exodus 16 explains the Israelites ate manna “until they came to a land inhabited; they did eat the manna, until they came unto the borders of the land of Canaan.”

It follows Exodus 16:35 must have been written after the Israelites had already crossed over to the west side of Jordan. How else could the Exodus author know when the manna would no longer be eaten ?

Moses did not cross over to the west of the Jordan, nor was he alive when the Israelites did so. It follows it seems very likely Exodus 16:35 could not have been authored while Moses was alive.

One response may be Exodus 16:35 is a  prophecy. Yet, the Exodus 16:35 does not write as if it is a prophecy. It does not write ‘manna will cease to be eaten when...’ rather it is writing as a matter of fact manna did cease to be eaten.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Jewish Oral Tradition Part 2, Treatment of Women

Updated thru 9/11/2016

Continued From Jewish Oral Tradition - Part 1 - Introduction

Some of my previous posts explained that the written Torah unfairly discriminates based on gender. 

We see this even in the 10 commandments.

Exodus 20:13 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house; thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his man-servant, nor his maid-servant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's. 

Notice how a man's wife is lumped in with man's possessions such as a house, servants, oxen and asses. ( The Torah is not referring to the gluteus maximus here.)

Under Oral Tradition, women’s inferior status is ubiquitous. This post is only a tiny tip of the ice berg.

Women Can Not Be Witnesses, Women Can Not Contribute to Prayer Quorum, Women Ineligible To Judge; {ETA 9/11/2016 Women Ineligible To Be King Or In Authority.}

Rambam's Hilcot Edot Section 9 - Women may not serve as witnesses. Nor can servants; minors;  mentally or emotionally unstable individuals; deaf-mutes; the blind; the wicked debased individuals; relatives; and  androgynus are also unacceptable - for there is an unresolved doubt whether they are considered as women.

Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 55 - A minyan ( the number of congregants required for certain prayers) requires at least 10 males. Women don't count.

Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat 7 A women is not eligible to Judge.

{ETA 9/11/2016 Rambam's Melachim uMilchamot  Chapter 1 Paragraph 5 - A women may not be appointed King. This also applies to all positions of authority in Israel.}

Only Male Polygamy is Allowed

Rambam's Hilcot Ishut - 14 -  A man can have numerous wives, and his wife may not object to this. [However  the Ashkanaz Jews later instituted a ban for Ashkanaz Jews, no doubt because of the surrounding Christian culture which prohibited polygamy.  I believe that ban was to last until a certain date, a date which I think has passed.] 

Marriage and Divorce Ala Oral Tradition

Talmud Gittin 90a Mishnah. Beth Shammai say: a man should not divorce his wife unless he has found her guilty of some unseemly conduct, as it says, because he hath found some unseemly thing in her. Beth Hillel, however, say (that he may divorce her) even if she has merely spoilt his food, since it says,  because he hath found some unseemly thing in her. Rav Akiba says, (he may divorce her) even if he finds another woman more beautiful than she is, as it says, it cometh to pass, if she find no favour in his eyes.

So per Oral Tradition what are the grounds for divorce ? They really did not know and made things up based on 'deductions' of Torah verse. 

Until about 1000 years ago - under oral law the male was able to divorce his wife without her consent.  European Jews thereafter required her consent. They just invented laws. 

Unlike the male, the wife can not issue a divorce. Rambam's Hilcot Gerushin 1 explains The man must voluntarily initiate the divorce. However, Gerushin 2 explains there are some limited circumstances where the man can be compelled to issue a divorce. 

Sometimes the man withholds giving divorce papers creating problems for the spouse; because she can not marry without them. 
{ETA 9/9/2016 Sometimes the man has vanished for one reason or another and this leaves the women unable to remarry.  These are called the Agunot Problems for more see }

The point is Divorce Oral Tradition style was and still is biased in favor of males. It unfairly discriminates based on gender. 

Only Males can initiate marriage. Talmud Kiddushin 2a -  A women is 'acquired'  in one of three ways: money or contract or sex. Kiddushin 5b But if she gives him (money or its equivalent)
and says ‘Behold, I am consecrated unto thee,’ ‘I am betrothed unto thee,’ ‘I am a wife unto thee,’ she is not betrothed.

Women's Mind

Talmud Yoma 66 - A wise woman asked R. Eliezer: Since with regard to the offence with the golden calf all were evenly associated, why was not the penalty of death the same? He answered her: There is no wisdom in woman except with the distaff. Thus also does Scripture say: And all the women that were wise-hearted did spin with their hands.

Talmud Avot - Chapter 1 Mishna 5 Engage not in too much conversation with women. They said this with regard
to one's own wife, how much more (does the rule apply) with regard to another man's wife.

Talmud Kiddushin 49b Ten Kabs [measures] of gossip descended to the world: nine were taken by women.


A compelling case can be made Oral Law and Tradition unfairly discriminates against women and holds man superior despite some modern day Rabbinic apologetics. 

P.S. Many Orthodox Jews today may not be sexist, but that is besides the point. The historical Oral Law and Tradition was sexist. Even if Oral Tradition may sometimes write complimentary things about women, it does not change the actual halacha - the oral law.

Continued Jewish Oral Tradition Part 3, Treatment of Heretics