Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Interesting Posts and Articles #50

  1. Via Pravda Neeman, a very cute video. I think there is a message in there of living normally Jewishly, and in that trying to fulfill artificial goals, people can sometimes miss the point.

  2. Shirat Devorah tells over how a gilgul finds its tikkun. One interesting point:
    The Rebbe then picked up the second book and the same thing happened. After drawing a line on one of the first few pages, he went through the rest of it from start to finish. 'Here again you've constructed a beautiful edifice. But look at what you've written...' The Rebbe pointed to the page he had marked off. 'This sentence contradicts what our Sages tell us about the juncture of veins in the body. As our Sages are undoubtedly right, the entire treatise is based on an untruth.'
    Yet this idea that Chazal are infallible in matters of science is, at the very least, a machloket. Chazal relied on the science of their times and at times could get it wrong. How do we deal with the earthmouse, which is half dirt and half mouse? And how do we deal with Chazal's explanation of a needle inside the liver getting there through the digestive tract (see here in Chullin Illuminated), something which we now know cannot be, as a result of modern medical knowledge? This could of course simply be the Rebbe's take and in this instance, in terms of actual science, he was right, but that does not seem to be the message behind this particular part. Rather, it stakes such a claim, and the maskil seems to adopt it without fuss.

  3. ADDeRabbi reviews Shaul Magid's review of Flipping Out. And then provides his own take.

  4. ThanBook discusses reading like the Netziv by summarizing a lecture from Rabbi Dr. Gil Perl. Contrary to a maaseh, the Netziv learned grammar by reading books - e.g. by studying Eshkol HaKofer, written by a Karaite. He read works of maskilim, Karaites, Mendelsohn, etc. And so did others.

  5. The New York Times discusses a stone tablet, referring to a Jewish messiah who was pre-Jesus, who would arise from the dead after three days. And if he saw his shadow... six more weeks of winter!

    In Mr. Knohl’s interpretation, the specific messianic figure embodied on the stone could be a man named Simon who was slain by a commander in the Herodian army, according to the first-century historian Josephus. The writers of the stone’s passages were probably Simon’s followers, Mr. Knohl contends.

    The slaying of Simon, or any case of the suffering messiah, is seen as a necessary step toward national salvation, he says, pointing to lines 19 through 21 of the tablet — “In three days you will know that evil will be defeated by justice” — and other lines that speak of blood and slaughter as pathways to justice.


    Two more hard-to-read words come later, and Mr. Knohl said he believed that he had deciphered them as well, so that the line reads, “In three days you shall live, I, Gabriel, command you.”

    If true -- and there is debate on the matter -- it is unsurprising to me. It seems likely to me, at least, that this sort of detail could be derived from some sort of farfetched derash (upon which pasuk, I am not sure, though as one example, Matthew makes the connection to Yonah three days in the whale [which, I would add, was equated by the pasuk as beten sheol] ) and would applied to various false / unsuccessful mashiachs after their passing, as the followers could not cope with this setback.


Anonymous said...


The only problem that you had with the Shiras Devorah post was that the Rebbe thought Chazal to be infallible on science?

How about *knowing* that the young man was a Gilgul - and knowing who he was a gilgul of!

Additionally, the name of this young genius professor is conveniently left out, so that it cannot be shown to be false.

Lastly, if someone believes in such a Judaism (of magical Rebbes and the infallibility of Chazal etc..), I can fully understand why the young man was drawn to Haskala.

joshwaxman said...

True, this was not my only issue with the story. This was the point that was most easily challenged ("falsifiable", though not exactly so) and so I asked on that point under a principle of tafasta meruba lo tafasta.


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