Click this link for TOPICAL INDEX OF POSTS

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.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Kuzari argument Part 19 plus some Critique Rabbi Kelemen's Book of Permission To Receive

Updated thru 7/28/2018

Continued from Kuzari Argument Part One

Permission to Receive (PTR) 1996 by Rabbi Kelemen  (RK) 

RK seems to explain on page 21 that his book assumes the existence of G-d and builds on that premise. If you need intellectual comforting for that premise, RK  mentions his other book Permission to Believe: Four Rational Approaches To God’s Existence. In other words, he seems to be of the opinion that his version of Kuzari argument does not ‘prove’ the existence G-d. 

If so what is RK arguing for ? The Divine Origin for the Torah, assuming G-d already exists. 

1) RK critiques many other religions because RK claims their credibility rests on one or two founders. For example, per RK “Islam is another religion rooted entirely in the experiences of one man, Muhammad.” Page 54. 

I am going to apply RK’s  reasoning to the origins of the Torah. 

If there was a revelation at Sinai, the Israelites did not hear much of the Torah. Some say they heard the first two of the 10 commandments, others say the first 10, others say they heard no Torah at all just noise. Except for that, Moshe  was the translator/interpreter/messenger between G-d and the people.  It was Moshe that gave the Torah, not G-d.  {ETA April 8, 2018 - If you read my other Kuzari posts I have sourced this paragraph. For example See Chapter Thirty Three in The Guide For the Perplexed by Rambam:  "Furthermore, the words, ' In order that the people hear when I speak with thee' (Exod. xix. 9), show that God spoke to Moses, and the people only heard the mighty sound, not distinct words." ..."It was only Moses that heard the words, and he reported them to the people. This is apparent from Scripture, and from the utterances of our Sages in general. There is, however, an opinion of our Sages frequently expressed in the Midrashim, and found also in the Talmud, to this effect : The Israelites heard the first and
the second commandments from God, i.e., they learnt the truth of the principles contained in these two commandments in the same, manner as Moses, and not through Moses." For more details read the Guide. Also see for example Intro/Forward of Ramban's commentary on the Torah - that Moshe wrote recorded the words of G-d when writing the Torah.  Also see for example Deut 5: 19 "The Lord spoke those words [referring to 10 commandments] -those and no more to your whole congregation at the mountain, with a mighty voice out of the fire and the dense clouds.” }

So how is Judaism any different from other religions ? In other words, Judaism’s Torah credibility rests on a single person, Moshe who translated/copied/transcribed/was messenger of  G-d’s words.  

Thus, using RK own criteria,  RK fails to prove the Torah’s divine origin.  

2) On page 82- RK writes an author that makes up details or mistakenly reports events cannot be relied on. If we detect one or more inaccuracies in a document we have reason to suspect the entire text. 

Lets apply RK’s criteria the Torah.

Here is a short list some very likely Torah inaccuracies.

Genesis and Evolution

Genesis and Big Bang 

World Wide Biblical Proportion Flood

No 600000  plus males/a couple million people in the Exodus See for example Kuzari Argument Part Two and many of my other Kuzari posts for additional documentation. 

Again, applying RK’s criteria  we should suspect the Torah is not of divine origin.

3) It may help to read my post Proof of God from Morality now. On page 125 RK writes the Torah seems to be a virtuous document. And beginning on page 36 RK argues the Torah is ethical system. The ten commandments.. . The Torah is an exceptionally ethical document. [RK writes all this is to support the notion that a good G-d would give a moral document of instruction, and the Torah is such a document.] [For more on the 10 commandments and the Torah Laws in general see my addendum.]

It seems RK is NOT using Divine Command Theory. Thus it seems RK is assuming there is some external standard independent of G-d that determines what is ethical or moral. Per RK, the Torah prohibits taking revenge, lying  and manslaughter etc: Per RK the Torah instructs to pay wages on time, and love your neighbor as yourself etc:  RK seems to understand those prohibitions and instructions to be inherently moral and  ethical guidelines.

I suppose RK would argue a document that advocates immoral or unethical behavior would be grounds to deny that a good G-d gave that document.  I will apply such a criteria to the Torah. You decide how ethical and moral the Torah is after reading just some of the Torah:

Cut Off In the Bible

Statute Forever In the Bible 

The Bible, the Brother, and the Widow  

Suspected Adultery and the Bible Remedy  

The Bible, The Priests, The Female and the Disabled 

Wasteful animal sacrifices. (Lets ignore that Yahweh likes the scent of burnt flesh).

Stones Homosexuals

Stones Adulterer

Condones Slavery 

Capital Punishment blasphemy (Lev. 24:16), Witchcraft 

Also see Numbers 31:17 Now, therefore, slay every male among the children, and slay also every woman who has known a man
carnally; 18 But spare every young woman who has not
had carnal relations with a man.

Also see Deut 21:10 When you take the field against your enemies, and the LorD your God delivers them into your power and you
take some of them captive, 11 and you see among the captives
a beautiful woman and you desire her and would
take her to wife...

Some of the Torah’s instructions seem unethical or immoral to me and would not fall within common ethical systems. Recall RK can not now resort to Divine Command Theory and argue for example that stoning of Sabbath breakers or Homosexuals is ethical because G-d says you should. If RK argues that then his argument falls apart.  Meaning the Torah is not really ethical, but we say it is ethical because G-d commands it.

Since the Torah does not seem all that ethical, we may apply RK style criteria and argue the Torah is not from G-d. 


Using RK's criteria to determine if a book is divine, we need not accept the divinity of the Torah. Moreover a good case can be made it is not divine.

One response to my critique is to argue G-d would ensure a accurate transmission of the Torah thru Moshe. But how does the Theologian know this ?  Is not G-d the great mystery ?  That is what I am told when I raise 'questions'.  Theologians can not have it both ways. 

Addendum On The Ten Commandments  

From the book Ancient Texts For The Study of The Hebrew Bible - Kenton Sparks 2005 Page 430 "The form and content of Hebrew laws are similar and sometimes include provisions that are nearly identical to their Near East counterparts."

From the Bible and the Ancient Near East by Gordon and Rendsburg 4th edition page 88 "The Ugaritic tablets confront us with so many striking parallels to the Hebrew Bible that is is universally recognized that  the two literatures are variants of one Canaanite tradition."

Scholars have found the likely influence of other ancient near east cultures on the 10 commandments and the Torah. Maybe those other cultures should get some of the credit and not the Torah.

The Ten Commandments

1) Thou shalt have no other gods before me
2) Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image
3) Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain
4) Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy
5) Honor thy father and thy mother
6) Thou shalt not kill
7) Thou shalt not commit adultery
8) Thou shalt not steal
9) Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor
10)Thou shalt not covet neighbor's house, neighbor's wife, neighbor's servants, animals, or anything else.

#1-#4 Can hardly be considered ethical or moral imperative. Other cultures have their own gods and ways to worship them. Why must they worship Yahweh and why with #2,#3,#4  ?  One may argue #4 is not ethical as it restricts your use of time and what work you may do on the Sabbath.  

#5 Seems reasonable, as long as the parents deserve it. Should you honor abusive parent(s) ? 

#6,#8, #9 seem almost necessary for a society to function. 

#7 - Depends on the culture. In some cultures sharing ones wife with somebody can be seen as an act of friendship. On the other hand if adultery is committed that violates a spouses trust or contract that can be considered unethical.  It is important to note adultery applies to the wife, not the husband as long as the male engages with a non married women. Thus #7 is really a double standard and does not seem ethical. 

#10 Hardly seems like an ethical imperative. Coveting in thought is more or less harmless and almost impossible to control. 

Side Note - Exactly what some the 10 commandments were meant to convey is tricky. #5 may have related to ancestor worship. #3 may have related to using a god’s name while soothsaying and such.

Continued Kuzari Argument Part 20 Rabbi Kelemen Incunabular Argument Permission To Receive

No comments: