« A New Provider Of Kosher Free Range Chickens | Main | National Jewish Child Abuse Prevention Week »

August 25, 2010

Rabbi Dovid Orlofsky Blames Bloggers For Causing His Anti-Modern Orthodox Remarks

Rabbi David Orlofsky "When the Slifkin debacle was taking place, I was being sent on a daily basis entry after entry attacking gedolei Torah.…terrible attacks on gedolei Torah being perpetrated by the “bloggers”…These people had always existed of course, but they were usually relegated to the back of the shul or the mikva, where they would share their witticisms and attacks on Torah among themselves."

The following letter was purportedly written by Rabbi David Orlofsky in response to my post on his anti-Modern Orthodox rantings. It was shared with me by a person who found this letter to be an inadequate apology, and Rabbi Shimon Kurland's acceptance of it troubling. Rabbi Kurland is the co-founder of Darchei Binah and a YU graduate:

Rabbi Shimon Kurland Thank you for your email regarding Rabbi Orlofsky. The clip you heard on the internet was from a shiur Rabbi Orlofsky gave over five years ago to
a group of Kollel students in the Ohr Lagolah program. I spoke to Rabbi Orlofsky about the recording since I was obviously disturbed to hear the
clip. Rabbi Orlofsky has spoken to Rabbi Weinreb and apologized. Rabbi Weinreb has been mochel. I attach a general letter that Rabbi Orlofsky has written in response to this recent release of his shiur. Hopefully
we can all learn a lesson about speech and be as magnanimous as Rabbi Weinreb and forgive Rabbi Orlofsky for his indiscretion. He is trulyremorseful.

Rabbi Orlofsky has been an effective Rabbi to hundreds if not thousands of students over the years. In Darchei Binah he gives selflessly of his time to each student. I encourage you to accept the fact that he made a mistake as we are unfortunately all capable of doing. I believe his remorse is genuine and that this is sufficient punishment for anyone to endure.

Wishing you a kesiva vechasima tova,

Rabbi Shimon Kurland

The Orlofsky letter:

Dear Friends,

Rabbi David Orlofsky As I recover from my initial shock, of hearing the harsh recording of myself from 51/2 years ago blaring at me, I feel I need to get some perspective for myself and for the people who know me well.

I am a pretty open person. I don’t have a lot to hide. I can’t think of a time when I refused a request to record any of my shiurim, public or private. In truth I have a style that has been described as humorous although also with an edge. As I get older I have gotten better at striking a balance between the two and not coming on too harsh. But there have definitely been times that I have lost control and gone overboard. I regret those times.

When the Slifkin debacle was taking place, I was being sent on a daily basis entry after entry attacking gedolei Torah. My view on gedolei Torah is clear – Klal Yisroel has always turned to their Torah authorities for guidance and direction. There have been legitimate disagreements which gadol to follow, but as long as everyone felt bound by Torah and halacha, that was legitimate.

What is not legitimate were the terrible attacks on gedolei Torah being perpetrated by the “bloggers”, a term I was not familiar with at the time. These people had always existed of course, but they were usually relegated to the back of the shul or the mikva, where they would share their witticisms and attacks on Torah among themselves.

Today, anyone can set up a weblog and say anything they want, no matter how nasty or unsubstantiated it may be, and many people will flock to read it. These are people who no one pays attention to in real life, but they take on an anonymous identity and can be as outrageous as they want, without having to take responsibility for their words.

I was told at the time, that my opinion, koton that I am (or maybe because I am a koton), would make a difference to a lot of people who were confused by the disinformation that was going around. As one yeshiva guy put it “Orlofsky is such a cynic, if he believes the gedolim on this, it must be true! So I tried to draft a letter on the subject, to defend the gedolim who had signed the kol koreh against Slifkin’s books.

No one authorized me to do so, since why would they? Who am I? As I told one person who thought I was acting on behalf of Reb Moshe Shapiro, do you really think if he wants to get a message out to the world, he would choose the guy sitting in the back taking notes who doesn’t really understand everything that well? He has doctors and scientists and big talmidei chachamim in his shiurim – why would he pick me?

I sent the draft to a friend for his thoughts and he mistakenly sent it to someone else. Soon the bloggers had it. They decided to declare open season on me. Unfortunately, although I can be accused of being a loudmouth, fifty years of clean living didn’t leave them much to work with. They were reduced to calling me stupid (I’ve been called that by better people) or “a third rate seminary teacher” (which I said is not an insult, it’s a job description) and “kiruv clown”.

The personal insults didn’t bother me, I was upset though, that somehow I had been propelled into controversy, when I had managed to avoid this kind of thing my whole life. But can I remain silent when I see great people being maligned? There comes a time in everyone’s life when you have to choose between playing it safe and maintaining your integrity. I was given my chance “to take a bullet for the president”.

In the middle of this maelstrom I was told that there were people in the Ohr LaGolah class I was teaching who were being affected by all the bashing. Now these are not Ohr Someach students; these are Rabbonim who are part of a separate program and supposed to be people who share common values. One of those values is allegiance to the concept of following gedolei Torah. To hear the views of the bloggers coming out of the mouths of these people was very upsetting.

And so I lost it. I did not prepare a well thought out presentation to give on the subject; that I did in my Har Nof shiur. Here I allowed myself to lose control and speak in an unacceptable manner.

I have already written to Rabbi Weinreb, a man I have a lot of respect for and have spoken with in the past, to beg for forgiveness. The mench that he is, wrote me back:

machul lach, machul lach, machul lach. Kesiva v'chasima tovah to you and yours. THW

which is frankly more than I deserve because of the harsh way I spoke about him. But he is a better man than I.

Rabbi Nissel, who has been close to Rabbi Weinreb for many years on a personal level, was shocked to see that he was being dragged into this mess. He shared that story about Rabbi Weinreb, to show his gadlus; how he had an appreciation for the gedolei Torah. It was I that used it to create a contrast between that and what I felt was infidelity to them. It was not a point I made in any other forum but in this class I allowed my emotions to get the better of me.

The shiur lasted an hour. I am relieved that at my worst, the bloggers could only find 2 minutes worth of material to use to humiliate me. So I guess at my worst, I am okay 98% of the time.

The second clip, cut immediately at the words “Modern Orthodox” was obviously a slip of the tongue. I said “Conservative” several times; that was my point. Conservative Judaism accepts the concept of “Catholic Israel” developed by Solomon Shechter that klal Yisroel and not the Rabbonim are the ultimate deciders of Jewish tradition.

Modern Orthodox (and that is an amorphous term) does not reject that concept to the best of my knowledge. HaRav Lichtenstein from the Gush once bemoaned the fact that there was no Moetzis Gedolei Torah for the Dati Leumi. I don’t know what comes next in the recording; I don’t have a copy, but it could be that I clarify this point in the next minute.

So that’s the story. The bloggers who have had it out for me for years, found a class from 51/2 years ago where I said some harsh things. There are hundreds, possibly thousands of hours of recordings of me around. If this is the best they can do, at least I have more control than I realize.

I don’t know how these things come to a close, but if there is anything to learn from it, it’s the lesson I learnt from Pirkei Avos “there is an eye that sees and an ear that hears and everything is written in a book”.


Ksiva VaChasima Tova

Sincerely,

Dovid Orlofsky

The Audio Clips Rabbi Orlofsky Refers To In The Above Letter.

Rabbi David Orlofsky's Letters Against Rabbi Natan Slifkin: 1, 2.

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

"And the nun. She is clumsy. It is her fault she fall backwards on my knife."

This is not the first time Orlovsky got caught. There is another class of his with vicious attacks on Chabad (Shmaya would love it) that became public. When Orlovsky was confronted with it he wrote a vicious letter against Chabad. That class was full of false allegations and lies. Orlovsky does not belong teaching Bali Teshuvah. If Ohr Sameach had some integrity they would put out an public statement distancing themselves from the his perspective of others in the frum world

"There comes a time in everyone’s life when you have to choose between playing it safe and maintaining your integrity. I was given my chance “to take a bullet for the president”.

Unbelievable! He claims that he attacked Rav Weinreb as a heroic act of self-sacrifice to maintain his integrity!

And he STILL claims that Rav Weinreb was showing "infidelity" to the Gedolim! So what exactly is he apologizing for? Being too harsh in his condemnation? Getting caught?

Besides, his whole excuse is that he had to defend the Gedolim against "terrible attacks on Gedolim Torah." But Rav Weinreb aired polite disagreement, not "terrible attacks"! So is one allowed to politely disagree with the Gedolim, or not?

Other lies:

"The shiur lasted an hour. I am relieved that at my worst, the bloggers could only find 2 minutes worth of material to use to
humiliate me. So I guess at my worst, I am okay 98% of the time. "

In fact, the entire rest of the shiur is a vicious attack against R. Slifkin and those who accept modern science, including some appalling personal slander against R. Slifkin. Note that even in this apology,
he refers to "Slifkin" rather than "Rabbi Slifkin."

"I sent the draft to a friend for his thoughts and he mistakenly sent it to
someone else. Soon the bloggers had it. They decided to declare open season on me. Unfortunately, although I can be accused of being a loudmouth, fifty years of clean living didn’t leave them much to work with."

In fact it was Rabbi Orlofsky who declared "open season" on Rabbi Slifkin and all those who accept modern science. He declared them all to be heretics! And contrary to his claim of the bloggers "not having much to work with," his letter was full of disgusting ad hominem attacks and slander against R. Slifkin.

As for his clarification about what he said about the Modern Orthodox - it's incomprehensible. In his lecture he clearly says that MO reject the Gedolim and are therefore not frum Jews. He does not retract that claim.

How Rabbi Kurland believes Rabbi Orlofsky to be showing "genuine remorse" is beyond me. It's obvious that the only thing that he is genuinely remorseful about is getting caught.

I am surprised why no one is mentioning the persistent rumors that Orlovsky dates gullible Neve girls and has his way with them.

There's enough unarguable facts to bury him without having to resort to rumor.

I think that this arrogant, uncouth and sneering "apology" is worse than the "shiur". What a totally unpleasant person he is. Lacking any common manners. Is this really the "Torah community"???? Any educational -let alone religious - organisation that employs him should shudder.

Well, I must say I was outraged by his comments, but he seems to be sincerely regretting them and gives esteem to Rabbi Weinreb here. I'm not going to say something negative about this man. It's for Hashem to judge. And the rabbi he insulted gave forgiveness, so what is left for any of us to say?

But Rav Weinreb aired polite disagreement, not "terrible attacks"! So is one allowed to politely disagree with the Gedolim, or not?

Of course not. To disagree with the Great Old Ones is to disagree with God Himself.

I guess the public apology to Rabbi Slifkin must be the next step. Together with this, that would be a powerful example of teshuvah.

Hey Orlofsky

Tell us again how the modern Hebrew script used today was formed by Ha-Shem on Mount Sinai

[The Mount Sinai script look quite alike to the ancient Phoenician script. The modern script or (square letters) came after the first exile]

As a true and bonified neurotic Rabbi Dovid Orlofsky rises to the occasion by blames bloggers for causing his anti-modern orthodox remarks.

There is no regret, remorse or contrition whatsover in his tone.
If anything he remains defiant.

Further, as "Rabbi" and mature adult who in is contact with the youth of America on a daily basis he prefers to play the blame game as most children do.

He refuses to 'man up' and act as an adult by accept responsiblity for his thoughts and actions by playing the 'victim'.

My sympathies go out to the children and their parents he helps 'educate".

Let us all do an extra mitzvah, give tzedakah, layn a blettel ghemoyreh etc. in order to rise above this.

This reminds me a little bit of when Ashlee Simpson was caught lip syncing on Saturday Night Live and nervously danced a little jig and ran offstage. The next say she blamed it all on acid reflux.

Failed-

Why did you not tell Rabbi Kurland the following:

It is all well and nice to be mochel, however, someone who is willing to lose his temper when he is upset is UNFIT to be teaching such young and impressionable girls. These girls need guidance from calm, cool and clearheaded Rebbeim not sarcastic and foolhardy ones. It is very troublesome that you would keep someone on staff that is willing to call one of the great Rabbis among us "A MORON, A KAL and so on." Who cares that he apologized? He is unfit to teach!

I nominate Menachem Mendel III for moshiach, and OCR for Chief Rabbi.

Orlofsky not only has problem to keep his mouth close he also has problem keeping his zipper close... וד'ל

@ S August 25, 2010 at 06:20 PM

Don't forget (al kes Kah) what happend to your buddy Milli Vanilli's Rob Pilatus.

The longer the apology, the less sincere it is. Something like "I was a shvantz for saying it and I'm really sorry" would have been sufficient

I nominate myself for Kohen Hagadol. XD

He was a manipulative pathetic individual back in his NCSY days, and apparently is no better now.
His whole argument now is that the only legitimacy one has is through faith in the gedolim, and he is a total supporter of the gedolim, hence he is legitimate. That's a cheap route to legitimacy, and as mentioned here, he has some well known reasons to be suspect.

Here's my take - if the guy billed himself as a comedian - fine. But when you call yourself rabbi and give speeches that are all joke and zero content, that's not right.

And had he attacked the chareidim caught stealing from the government and/or molesting, fine. At least there would be consistency. But in his world, as long as your hat is black enough you get a free pass. Disgusting.

moshe- nice post.

"He has doctors and scientists and big talmidei chachamim in his shiurim – why would he pick me?"

Oh, we know how much Orlofsky looks up to scientists!

clearly orlofsky does not disavow anything significant from his rant. he just wishes he could have made his point without mentioning specific names he would have to apologize to later.
but at least one should give him credit for being in favor of a consistent approach regarding science and torah. the slifkin issue is perhaps the single best to highlight the terrible bind modern-orths find themselves in, though most are blind to it. MO's like to imagine they can be full halachic jews who follow the halachic mesorah and current gedolim and poskim, while also accepting all that science has taught us regarding the age of the universe and the origin of man.
this canNOT be done. to follow halacha as MO's do requires a complete belief in the rabbis interperetation of the torah. they must trust that the rebbeim who decided that -- 'v'hayu letotaphot bein einecha' inexplicably referred to tefillin, and that they be worn atop the head,--- knew what they were talking about when parsing god's intended meaning and desires for this mitzvah along with so many others.
to accept the truth of science ,as most would like to do,when it conflicts with prior interperetations of the torah taught to us by these same sources and rabbis requires the polar opposite stance. if rashi didnt know that the creation story and mabul couldnt have happened in the literal sense described in bereishis, then how can one possibly trust his analysis of anything else in the torah?
so the haredi position on slifkin, the age of the world, creation etc., as ignorant and laughably backwards as it is, is actually more intelectually honest than the MO position. they are well aware that once you allow science to dictate and modify your understanding of the torah, you have exposed the myth which is rabbinic torah judaism and the next logical step is to reject full rabbinical authority and to move closer philosophically to the conservative and reform branches of judaism, at least so far as the fundamentalist literalist view of the bible is concerned.

Because it's a pet peeve of mine:

Kurland is described, on the site of the school he runs, as having:

"Rabbinic Ordination; BA Yeshivah University; JD Cordoza School of Law"

First, you get your ordination at YU (if you go for it) only after your BA.

Second, it's "Yeshiva."

Third, it's "Cardozo."

Anyone who went there would have known this.

The longer the apology, the less sincere it is. Something like "I was a shvantz for saying it and I'm really sorry" would have been sufficient

Posted by: Garnel Ironheart | August 25, 2010 at 07:46 PM

So simple, Garnel, and yet so profound.

Orlofsky has not had "51 1/2 years of blameless living", but has been interlarding his teachings with imprudent and gratuitously nasty comments for over a decade (of which I have documentation).

As to the likelihood of his seducing his female studentws, have you SEEN the guy? Unlikely, and for so many reasons.

But sex is not everything. There is something particularly pernicious about attacking, say, Rav Weinreb, in terms and tones that ought to be reserved for Shabtai Zvi. The situation is not, as Orlofsky would have it, "Taking a bullet for the gedolim", but a persistent track record of verbal viciousness and mocking towards those with whom he merely disagrees.

This is what chazal mean when they criticize "ליצנות". They are not referring merely to a witty style or the use of humor.

This is the most defensive and pathetic excuse for an "apology" that I have ever seen.

There is so much that is pathetic about this letter, that I don't even know where to start pointing it out.

First - Orlofsky says he was upset at bloggers, and therefore attacked Rav Weinreb. If he was upset at bloggers, then why didn't he attack the bloggers?

Then he says:

The shiur lasted an hour. I am relieved that at my worst, the bloggers could only find 2 minutes worth of material to use to humiliate me. So I guess at my worst, I am okay 98% of the time.

That is like someone caught shoplifting saying "I was in the store for an hour, but only shoplifted for 2 minutes. So I guess at my worst, I am okay 98% of the time."

Huh?

And his saying:
... the bloggers could only find 2 minutes worth of material to use to humiliate me.

That's like "the police could only find 2 stores where I shoplifted to use to arrest and humiliate me."

And why is the focus on what "the bloggers could find" and not on what comes out of his own mouth?

The bloggers who have had it out for me for years, found a class from 5 1/2 years ago... If this is the best they can do, at least I have more control than I realize.

That's like "The security cameras who have it out for me for years could only find these 2 incidents of my shoplifting. If this is the best they can do, at least I have more control than I realize."

Nowhere does he say that he fully retracts and regrets everything he said. Because he clearly does NOT fully retract all that he said.

Also, he could only say that he regrets his attacks on Rabbi Weinreb, because he does not at all regret or retract his equating Modern Orthodoxy with Conservative - he defends that statement as "a slip of the tongue". But he then goes on to try to prove how Modern Orthodoxy agrees with Conservative.

And nowhere does he apologize for his slander and attacks on Rabbi Slifkin.

He defends the letter he wrote as a "draft" that was mistakenly spread by a friend of his, and then seems to blame the bloggers for getting hold of it. It's the bloggers fault and not his friend's fault for forwarding it. And it's the bloggers fault for attacking him for what was in the letter, and not his fault for what he wrote in the letter. Nowhere does he retract what he wrote in the letter, or apologize for it.

After blaming the bloggers for spreading his letter, (instead of his friend who did so), he goes on to write:
But can I remain silent when I see great people being maligned?

So, did he or did he not mean for the letter to be publicized?

And if Orlofsky doesn't think he should remain silent when he "sees great people being maligned" so too the bloggers, who could not remain silent when they saw Rabbi Slifkin being maligned, and then Rav Weinreb being maligned.

I could go on and on.

This letter is pathetic. It is way too defensive, arrogant, and lacking in regret and retractions to pass as an apology letter.

Why does Rabbi Kurland accept this letter as an apology and "believe his remorse is genuine" when it clearly is not so?

By the way, 58 out of 60 is not "98%." It's 96 and 2/3.

His apology is pathetic. :-(

Skylab Skylab Skylab
Please don't fall on me;
Please don't fall on me,
Fall on Orlofsky

Orlofsky:
You've apologized to Rabbi Weinreb. Now apologize to Rabbi Nosson Slifkin. And apologize in a public shiur in your yeshiva and in the shul you daven in every day.

Apologize. Immediately.

Ah-pee-chorus wrote:

"MO's like to imagine they can be full halachic jews who follow the halachic mesorah and current gedolim and poskim, while also accepting all that science has taught us regarding the age of the universe and the origin of man.
this canNOT be done. to follow halacha as MO's do requires a complete belief in the rabbis interperetation of the torah."

Ah-pee, this is the similar straw-man argument you trot out here all the time, and I can tell that you do so because this straw-man forms a foundation of your belief system. However, it's untrue (it being a straw-man and all).

Do you think "Slifkin" invented a theory because he doesn't like what the rabbis said? Rabbi Slifkin pointed out other approaches that are possible to take WITHIN THE SOURCES, and he backs up his writings with what was said by prior authorities, rishonim, gaonim, etc. So one would have to be blind to accept the false dichotomy you set up between his approach and "the rabbis interpretations." Let alone the fact that you conflate hashkafa and halacha, what I said above is true even without getting into that.

Nobody, science and revealed religion, any revealed religion, are fundamentally incompatible. I wish it were otherwise. There's really no getting around it.

Nobody - followers of the bible believed in a geocentric model prior to science showing that it is heliocentric. the six days of creation were understood to be literal (there even being a gemara which discusses what exactly was done each moment of those days) until science showed how laughable a 6000 year old world is. so don't try to tell me that there are sources for what was later seen to be the reality. in fact there are many today who still maintain a literal 6000 year age. when science shows the torah to be wrong, THEN and only then do rabbis endeavor to make that science fit into the words of the torah by assigning metaphorical and allegorical meanings to what was once considered literal. and THAT is wholly inconsistent with the belief that rabbis have or had any kind of superior knowledge as to the author of the torah's intended meanings. if they couldnt even tell us that the earth is billions of years old and that we evolved from great apes as we spin around the sun, then how can they be assumed to know what part of the 'shema' is meant to be literal -v'hoyu letotafot- versus what is metaphor-v'hohu ....al levavecha'-?

either the mephorshim knew how to interperet, or they didn't. science has shown us that they didn't and don't. therefore, any branch of judaism which claims a literal torah and a mesorah, is irrational and incorrect.

ah-pee-chorus, there is a fundamental difference between interpreting the words of the creation story in Genesis and words which have an action connotation. The former may have been translated literally in the ancient past since no one knew then that the earth was incredibly ancient. However, the sages also recognized that the text of the story contained allusions to secrets. The medrash cited by both Rashi and the Ramban states, "Describing the power of His deeds to flesh and blood is impossible. Therefore, scripture glosses over (the events by stating)'In the beginning GOD created heaven and earth'." Now we have a far better idea of the age of the earth and universe, and must therefore reinterpret those biblical verses.

In contrast, actions like putting on tefilin are of very ancient lineage. There is no reason to believe that those objects were something invented wholly by the sages. Rather, the sages were merely reflecting and concretizing a very ancient practice.

A. Nuran, science and revealed religion aren't incompatible - only their methodologies. Surely, you will admit that there is more to life than scientific inquiry and methodology. Then set aside for scientific investigation what falls into its province, and leave the rest as the arena for faith, love, a world view. If your premise were correct, how do you account for the fact that some of the greatest scientific minds such as Newton and Faraday were deeply religious people? Clearly they didn't believe that religious truths must also be subject to mathematical analysis and experimentation.

Y. Aharon - unfortunately for those that believe god was the author of the bible, the mistakes therein are hardly limited to the story of creation. noahs ark was lifted almost verbatim from the epic of gilgamesh which preceeded the torah by many hundreds of years. the name(s) of god were copied from the ugaritic texts . the enslavement and exodus from egypt could not and did not take place. cities named in tanach couldnt have been named as stated at the time they were supposedly written since some were named after rulers that hadnt ruled yet. the same for the names of coins.
the sources were wrong even on halachic issues. in the gemara regarding whether a louse may be killed on shabbos, the decision was that they may, since they do not procreate. 4 opinions are offered as to their origin ranging from sweat to dirt. another gemara claims girls can get pregnant only upon reaching the precise age of 12 and a day. so to claim that the rabbinical shortcomings in explaining the torah are limited to the creation is untrue. and even in that area, to claim there is any way to fit evolution into the creation story -even permitting allegorical leeway - is just not possible.

therefore, a claim that science and torah are compatible but that they operate in different arenas is nonsense.
lastly, an attempt to bolster your view by pointing to some scientists who lived long ago and before the benefit of darwin, is silly. the overwhelming majority of scientists today reject completely any literal belief in the bible. but even if that werent true, cognitive dissonance is employed by many of the smartest people, especially in the arena of religion as it is quite difficult to reject that which your ancestors believed in, and hundreds of years ago any such claim could result in death.

In contrast, actions like putting on tefilin are of very ancient lineage. There is no reason to believe that those objects were something invented wholly by the sages. Rather, the sages were merely reflecting and concretizing a very ancient practice.

This does not seem to be the truth.

No truly ancient tefillin have ever been found, and no ancient pictorial depictions of them exist. And, on top of that, no one in all of Tanakh is ever portrayed as wearing a pair.

All the evidence points to the early rabbis (i.e., circa 100 BCE), initiated the practice.

20 years ago when I was in seminary, Rabbi Kurland made clear statements that he had moved away from the YU hashkafa and environment where he had studied. Perhaps his perspective has broadened since then, but I don't think he'd ever want to be considered a card-carrying MO rabbi.

Shmarya, I didn't allude to evidence that tefilin wearing existed prior to talmudic times. I merely stated that there is no reason to believe otherwise. I note that the Talmud (Menachot) treats various aspects of the physical form of tefilin as ancient tradition (halacha leMoshe miSinai) such as their blackness. Now, the talmudic sages could have given one of their imaginative readings of the biblical text as the basis for the blackness requirement. "I am black and comely", a phrase from Shir Hashirim, could have been used to allude to the black tefilin boxes and straps. Instead, it's labeled as an ancient tradition. That is the type of reasoning that can be used to defend the ancient tradition thesis.

The fact that no tefilin much older than 2 millenia have been found is not a counter-argument. Animal remains, even in the form of tanned hide simply don't last that long. Those tefilin found in Masada were preserved for 2 millenia because of the very arid conditions there. No depictions of ancient tefilin may have been found since depictions of any sort are scarce in ancient Jewish practice. The menorah is found depicted in ancient synagogues since the menorah was prominent in the temple which served as a kind of prototype for the synagogue. As to the lack of an explicit mention in Tanach, there are many everyday things not mentioned such as food and dress. The stories in Tanach deal with words and actions rather than what the speaker or actor was wearing and eating - unless a point is being made about the latter.

In sum - to use the popular expression, absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence. What justifies your comment, "all the evidence points to the early rabbis (i.e. circa 100 BCE) initiated the practice"?

You're throwing the dart first and then drawing a circle around it after it lands.

We have many positive descriptions of Jewish life 2000 years ago.

None of them, whether of Jewish or non-Jewish origin, mentions tefillin.

Shmarya, I highly doubt that you have read all the "positive descriptions of Jewish life 2000 years ago" to conclude, "none of them, whether of Jewish or non-Jewish origin mentions tefilin". Consider this, if tefilin were an invention of early Tana'im (Pharisees), why wouldn't it have been a noted point of difference between the Pharisees and Saducees?

Ask Lawrence Schiffman or any other professor of ancient Israel history – no tefillin found, depicted or described.


why wouldn't it have been a noted point of difference between the Pharisees and Saducees?

Perhaps because the tefillin of that era were amulets.

ah-pee-chorus, your chorus of arguments against traditional Jewish teachings provides no detail, so that I can only remark that you're wrong on all counts. Reading a few popular anti-traditional works (or blogs) doesn't give you standing to draw sweeping conclusions. You also changed your argument. First you said the science and revealed religion were incompatible. When I pointed to 2 religious founders of the science of mechanics, optics (Newton) and electromagnetism (Faraday), you switched to an argument about evolution. As if believers in a revealed religion must reject evolution theory. That is not the case. Dr. Collins, a leader in unraveling the human genome is a religious man. There is a professor Pollock who occupies a Chair in Biology at Columbia Univ. who is an Orthodox Jew. These men certainly accept the Darwinian concept of common descent and of variations in genetic makeup that leads to varying survival potential. In order words, they don't accept the inherent conflict that you suggest. In general, unsupported statements about the supposed inherent conflict between religion and science from people without serious knowledge of either is not very convincing.

Y. Aharon - there was no change to my argument, just a complete inability on your part to understand it.

++First you said the science and revealed religion were incompatible. ++

i didnt use those words. that was from a.nuran, and while i do in fact maintain a similar position, my comments were specific to mod. orth. belief in the torah as accepted by MO's and haredim is incompatible with science. and by 'science' it's pretty clear i mean the entire range of scientific knowledge. obviously one can accept bits and pieces of science which dont pose a problem. you can accept the theory of gravity in its simplest form without rejecting the torah.
so your trotting out 2 scientists from hunmdreds of years ago who believed in their interperetation of the bible is ridiculously meaningless. it was in response to that that i made clear which fields of science are significant to the topic, namely cosmology and evolution.
furthermore, when you claim i said -
++ As if believers in a revealed religion must reject evolution theory. ++ i said no such thing. if one is willing to accept that man has no ability to understand the bible and one is willing to keep changing the meaning they ascribe to the bible, even to the point of claiming that evolution over hundreds of millions of years from the most simple bacterialike organisms through man having evolved from apes as fitting into the story of creation, then that can be done. but what cannot be done is to claim that we know exactly what each letter means through torah lmoshe mesinai , while also claiming that the torah is compatible with a 3 billion year old earth and evolution. the rabbinical sources of the MO and haredi understood no such thing.ergo to do so is the height of intellectual dishonesty.
and your pathetic attempt to justify this indefensible inconsistency by naming a couple of scientists willing to play this game is silly. there are certainly going to be scientists who practice cognitive dissonance in this area. there are also MANY MORE who do not. and there are many rabbis who agree with me completely and know that these concepts are incompatible such as m.feinstein, rev elyoshiv, and the many signatories to the slifkin ban. they knew that accepting evolution would mean denying their understanding of the torah. that is why it was assured to even own a book that contained evolution. at least they were consistent. you ....are not.

ah-pee-chorus, I can do without the insults from someone who has a far lesser understanding of both science and torah than I. For your information, the earth and solar system is some 4.5 billion years old, not 3 billion. Fossil evidence also exists for very primitive single celled life forms as old as 3.5 billion years, not just "hundreds of millions of years from the most simple bacterialike organisms". While these points aren't essential to your thesis, they do display a lack of knowledge that belies your sweeping assertion about how science is incompatible with torah. Having said that, I admit that I conflated your view with the somewhat similar view of A. Nuran whose comment immediately preceded yours. His tone is, however, much different than your displayed and unsupported arrogance.

Getting back to the issue. I never said nor do I believe that the sages or classical commentators had the keys to the meaning of the torah verses including the narrative portions. Orthodox Jews have traditionally felt free to innovate their own understanding of the torah's narratives as long as one didn't deride the biblical heroes or show disrespect for the divine role. Thus, the classical commentators such as Rashi, Rashbam, Ibn Ezra, Ramban will take issue with a talmudic or midrashic interpretation of such a verse. Later commentators such as Malbim, S.R. Hirsch, and even the Ohr Hachayim will do likewise. In other words, there is no presumption that an intact mesorah exists for every verse in the torah. Your argument is therefore based on a strawman. If your argument has any merit, it should be directed narrowly against current Hareidi ideology which, contrary to the past, does posit some canonical interpretation of everything in the torah. I reject that viewpoint regardless of who preaches it and who signed on to the Slifkin ban. Direct your complaints to the proper parties, and don't attempt to tar me and other MO people with the same brush.

Shmarya, I was mistaken in an earlier post when I cited the gemara in Menachot as attributing the blackness of the tefilin boxes to halacha l'Moshe MiSinai. It does so for the blackness of the tefilin retzuot, not the boxes - whose color is not even mentioned. According to the ba'alei Tosafot, the black color of the batim that is always found is not merely an old custom but is also halacha l'Moshe MiSinai.

shame on me. a 15 second google search would have refreshed my memory as to the age of the earth. whats quite telling, however, is that you would like to be able to discredit me for being off by one third as to this number. and yet when the author of the torah is off by a factor of OVER 250 BILLION (6 days until man vs. over 4 billion years till his appearance) you have no problem. god is not permitted mistakes.he is inerrant. a single error eliminates the possibility of his authorship. further, no matter how much leeway, twisting, and poeticizing is applied to the creation account(s), they are in fact NOT compatible with what we know to be the facts. all water creatures and birds were not created before land animals. whales evolved from land animals and birds from reptiles. case closed.(and i'm not even going to get into the conflicting account in which adam was created before anything else.)
you still have provided no defense outside of an ad hominem attack to the point that MO's want to have their cake and eat it too. how convenient that their knowledge is considered complete and perfect in areas which cannot ever be proven correct or incorrect, and yet in areas which science has shown their understanding to be wrong, they are permitted to claim whatever meaning they need to at the time to maintain the torahs inerrancy.
the haredi position you disavow is more honest than MO. they admit that accepting evolution negates and contradicts the intellectual integrity of their halachic positions as well. so they simply reject evolution and ban slifkin. MO desperately want to believe that science and evolution is compatible with their fundamentalist haredi-like reliance on TML , but it just isnt so. if the author got the most basic order of creation wrong, he isnt inerrant.

ah-pee-chorus, one of the many differences between us is that you write confidently about subjects of which you know little. I didn't have to Google the age of the earth or the oldest fossils, I knew them from reading the scientific literature. You, however, didn't even take the trouble to scan appropriate Wikipedia articles before spouting supposed scientific facts.

More importantly, you still show no insight as to purpose of the torah. It is certainly not a science text, but a guide to Jewish life. It also treats history only as a backdrop to detailing the relationship between GOD and the family that would evolve to become the Jewish people. Why would the torah write of an earth that was billions of years old before Adam existed? Who would have accepted such a notion during the biblical period and for millenia afterwards? Instead, the torah writes of creation days since the Hebrew, 'yom' can refer to a 24 hour day or a larger unit of time such as a year. With the knowledge that we have today, we are justified in interpreting a creation day as an epoch. Your argument about land animals preceding whales or birds in reverse of the apparent order in the creation story is valid, but has an answer. Unfortunately, a proper answer would require a more extensive explanation than is feasible now - and I have set out such an explanation in the blogworld (see, for example, my old postings on "Origins" in the defunct "Godol Hador" blog). In brief, I view the creation story as a poetic description of the evolution of the earth following the devastating asteroidal impact 65 million years ago. The gradual recovery, albeit with new dominant animate life forms, first became noticeable in the seas, followed by land creatures - primarily mammals. Birds are mentioned earlier than the latter because I believe that they first arose on islands. It took a longer time for the surviving small burrowing mammals to proliferate on the surface of the land.

: Y. Aharon - one clear difference between us is that while you claim to be an expert in science you deny the most basic principles of the scientific method. rather than beginning your analysis of the authorship of the torah with the 'null hypothesis', as any scientist would do, you begin with the conclusion that god dictated it and then try to fit the evidence to match your conclusion.
that is why you are forced to make the comical assertions you have just made in your attempt to make the words of breishis fit with the known order of the evolution of animals. they just dont match.
if you possessed even the slightest bit of intellectual honesty to go with your claimed expertise in science , you would admit that having reached your position with no regard to the evidence, you have been forced to support it using the very unscientific 'non-falsifiability' game.

ah-pee-chorus, I haven't explicitly claimed expertise in science - I just implied it. Actually, I am a working research scientist with a Ph.D. in chemical physics from an Ivy League university. I note that you throw out words and epithets without hesitation or knowledge. A null hypothesis isn't an required scientific approach to questions of torah authenticity or accuracy. Rather, it is limited in use for the statistical evaluation of 2 sets of data to see if they reflect true differences, or not. In any case, I had argued originally that such questions about the torah don't lend themselves to scientific methodology, nor are other important areas of life such as trust, love, and world outlook dependent on such methods. You can deride my views as much as you wish without it having any effect on my viewpoint. Moreover, I doubt that readers not fully committed to an anti-torah stance will be impressed with your pronouncements. I freely admit to a biased approach to the torah. Your approach is equally biased in the opposite direction.

i put the term 'null hypothesis' in quotes so that it would be understood that it shouldn't be taken literally. but clearly you understood exactly the point i was making and chose to engage in another attack rather than dispute the point.
there have been billions and billions of items written throughout history, and apart from the one under dispute, there is little debate that they were all written by man. so when someone makes a claim that the torah is different than each of the billions of written works which came before and after , and was dictated directly by something called god, the correct scientific approach would be to assume a default position of man being the author. this is similar to the null hypothesis concept, as you well know. in order to move from the default pos. one should require evidence to support the monumental shift.
since you have none to offer, you choose to employ many tactics of avoidance. ad-hominems, the unsupported claim that for some reason the authorship of the torah shouldn't be subject to any scientific or critical evaluation, and the ever-changing interperetations required to have the torah mesh with known facts. this non-falsifiability is (or should be) a sign that there is no real unbiased search for truth going on, rather a desire to maintain belief in a conclusion reached prior to an examination of the evidence.and that is wholly unscientific.

+++. I freely admit to a biased approach to the torah. Your approach is equally biased in the opposite direction.+++

you can admit to your unscientific and irrational bias, but don't try to minimize the significance of said bias by tarring others with an opposing view with the same brush. i have no such bias. i began with a complete belief in gods torah until i saw the overwhelming evidence in another direction. if the evidence had been there to support it, or would be presented now, i would follow the evidence.
you acknowledge your bias and choose to practice cognitive dissonance.

ah-pee-chorus, I will let the readers decide if your charge of ad-hominem attacks by me is justified or not. I merely claimed that your arrogant stance is not supported by evidence of real knowledge or either science or torah. I even suggested that I had superior knowledge of both. In the course of this debate I had occasion to cite specific scientific facts (to correct your mistakes) and an appropriate midrash - all from memory. That, too, proves little, but it's at least an indication of knowledge. Instead of refuting my claim with citations from your background you simply accuse me of ad-hominem attacks. Of course, you have been free with such compliments as "silly, ridiculously meaningless, intellectually dishonest, and pathetic". Your intemperate language belies your claim of a lack of bias. Merely citing that you once were a believer (When? In elementary/high school?) demonstrates nothing. I attempted to give an example of a new understanding of the creation story in Genesis which is consistent with modern scientific findings and avoids the problems you alluded to, but you casually derided it. I attempted to explain why the torah had to be written in a way that was comprehensible to the biblical generation who first received it, with no reaction from you other than sarcasm.

It seems pointless to continue this debate. I hope that you find that your life is now happier or more meaningful now that you have discovered the "truth". As a famous broadcaster used to sign off, "Good night and good luck".

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

----------------------

FailedMessiah.com is a reader supported website.

Thank you for your generous support!

----------------------

----------------------

----------------------

Please Scroll Down Toward The Bottom Of This Page For More Search Options, For A List Of Recent Posts, And For Comments Rules

----------------------

----------------------

Recent Posts

----------------------

Tip Jar

Gelt Is Good!

Tip Jar

FailedMessiah.com is a reader supported website. Please click the Donate button now to contribute.

Thank you for your generous support!

Tip Jar

Gelt Is Good!

Tip Jar

-------------------------

Comment Rules

  • 1. No anonymous comments.

    2. Use only one name or alias and stick with that.

    3. Do not use anyone else's name or alias.

    4. Do not sockpuppet.

    5. Try to argue using facts and logic.

    6. Do not lie.

    7. No name-calling, please.

    8. Do not post entire articles or long article excerpts.

    ***Violation of these rules may lead to the violator's comments being edited or his future comments being banned.***

Older Posts Complete Archives

Search FailedMessiah

Lijit Search

----------------------

FailedMessiah.com is a reader supported website.

Thank you for your generous support!

----------------------

----------------------

----------------------

FailedMessiah.com in the Media

RSS Feed

Blog Widget by LinkWithin