Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Interesting Posts and Articles #308

  1. Haveil Havalim #306 is hosted at Frume Sarah's World.
  2. At Mi Yodeya, a question on whether Rashi is really peshat.
  3. See the comic from Nickyitis to the right, titled "Circumstantial evidence". In terms of the actual Biblical story, of course, Moshe Rabbenu did not think the Israelites would believe him, and he received various signs (pakod pakadti, and turning the staff to a snake, becoming leprous on command, and turning water to blood). I suppose we need to see modern day examples of believers vs. skeptics making use of such circumstantial evidence. Still, a cute comic.
  4. Rabbi Gil Student on the Hirhurim blog about deference:
    In a nutshell: Rabbis are fallible and, if they lack adequate information, may rule incorrectly. If after discussion and investigation I honestly believe they have ruled based on wrong information, I will ignore their conclusions.
    But if it is an issue of interpretation or judgment, I defer to those with greater experience and expertise, those who have devoted more hours to diligently plumbing the depths of Torah than I have or ever will, those more brilliant and wise than I am or ever will be.
    Rabbi Natan Slifkin, on the Rationalist Judaism blog, about deference, in response:
    But how can one have the audacity to dispute those who are vastly greater in scholarship and wisdom? Isn't it absurd to think that one's view has any credibility?

    Not at all. This is not like a first-year college student disputing Einstein. It's more like an average person having different political views than a professor of political studies. In Torah, interpretation is not solely based upon stored facts. Rather, there is an enormous amount of sevara - subjective reasoning and personal judgment. These can be improved with more study and experience, but there will inevitably always be differences between different people. It's not just between different schools of thought, such as with rationalism versus mysticism, that differences come to the fore. Every person is different - as Chazal say, "Just as their faces are different, so too are their thoughts different." Assuming that someone possesses basic competence in Torah, and is not missing any relevant facts or sources, there is no a priori reason why his analysis of a topic should not be superior to that of someone else who is more learned.
    These are excerpts, so read it in full. Also, this post by Ezzie.
  5. Also at Hirhurim, a sympostion on the ethics of brain death and organ donation. See these posts: intro, I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IXX)
  6. At Wired Magazine, helpful mutations didn't sweep through early humans, as previously thought.
  7. The Rebbetzin's Husband wants a Modern Orthodox Talmud. And thoughts on tznius and Modern Orthodoxy.
  8. SerAndEz about agenda-driven data.
  9. At Global Yeshiva, a discussion of women shoichets and Eldad Hadani.
  10. Here on parshablog, Ibn Ezra and a theory of memory and as a follow-up, Another Ibn Ezra on brain anatomy. Also, a scientific and halachic perspective on sleeping on the right or the left side. Also, compete for an Oh Nuts gift certificate, on parshablog and at Emes veEmunah.

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