Sunday, January 23, 2005

Mordecai Plaut: Hypocrite & Liar

Mordecai Plaut believes that the world is billions of years old. How can I be sure of this? Answer: because he says so himself in this article. I shall summarise his ideas for you. Here goes;

Plaut attempts to clear up a discrepancy. Torah tells us that the world was created in six days. In addition if one follows the Torah chronology from creation to our present day we arrive at a total of 5765 years. The problem is that science tells us that the universe is an odd 15 billion years old.

Along comes Plaut and tells us that there is no contradiction. One must not start counting 5765 from the beggining of creation. We get the 5765 total by counting from Adams terrestrial arrival. The world was there billions of years before that, according to Plaut. Don’t ask, continues Plaut, that the Torah says the world was created in six days (sheishes yomim). That’s not a prob. The Torah does not mean actual days (yomim) as we would understand it. In the first few verses of the Torah ‘days (yomim)’ are metaphorical. They refer to a given unit of time. The world was made with six of these units (yomim). Each unit can be made out of billions of days.

So there we have it. Plaut is of the opinion that the world is millions and millions of years old.

The problem I have is that Plaut is also the editor of Dei'ah Vedibbur which is basically the Yated on line. As you will already be aware the Yated is in the forefront of the campaign to ruin Nosson Slifkins life . Read the article that Plaut put out here. What is Slifkins crime? Well the crime mentioned in the announcement is that in Slifkin holds the heretical view that the world is older than 5765 years (afrah lepumei). In other words Slifkin agrees with Plaut.

So there we have it. I have scientifically proven that Plaut is a hypocrite.

Now take a look at the last few posts on this great site. Pay carefull attention to this post . Look at the comments. Can you see one from Plaut. Read it. I think you will agree with me that Plaut is not only a hypocrite but a liar as well.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

The Slifkin Affair - My Pennies Worth

A blogger commenting on an ongoing story can only speculate whether a particular event will have any long-term significance. It is for historians to decide whether the blogger was right or had totally misread what was happening.

So I stick my neck out and declare that in my opinion the ‘Slifkin-Affair’ is a very big story. A story that will have long-term repercussions. A story that will redefine the parameters within which Torah can be interpreted to fit into to current scientific knowledge. A story that will sow seeds of doubt in many a mind.

Are our Gedolim really worldly-wise or are they just a bunch of reactionary clerics? Do Gedolim always behave in a less than professional manner (signing declarations before having read the books et al) or is this an unfortunate aberration. Can science and Rabbinic Judaism coexist or are they after all mutually exclusive?

Slifkin is not an eccentric absent-minded professor sitting on the margins of Chareidi Jewry. Slifkin is one of us. He went to the same black-hated Yeshivos as we did. We learned with him ‘bechavrusah’. We can’t recall anything about his behaviour that would foretell a future career as a heretic poisoning the mind of the Torah-true masses. Is it possible that many of those other heretics whom we have been taught to hate, and appear in our minds eye as a cross between a devil and a gangster were really just soft-spoken intellectuals sorts?

How is the ‘kiruv’ industry that relies so much on Slifkin and Slifkin-types going to cope? How are all the black-hatters that feel compelled to find a way of interpreting Torah according to science but at the same time feel compelled to conform to daas-Torah going to manage? Is Artscroll going to pretend that Slifkin did not have a major input in many of their flagship projects?

These and others big questions are significant because they expose to rational introspection extremely delicate areas of the whole ‘charedi’ belief system. Reading some of the blogs over the last week I think the process has began. Only time will tell how all this will pan out.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

A Tale of Two Conversations

I had two conversations last week with two people I know from my yeshivah days. Both have brains and both use them. One of them is more courageous in where he allows his brain to take him. Although I had considered both of them friends, since last weeks’s conversation I have demoted my relationship with one of them to a mere acquaintance.

Anyway here is a report of the conversations and I will let you decide with whom I had to alter my level of friendship.

One of them is training to be a Rov. As I said he is clever and uses his time well. He understands what he learns and has already begun taking on a rabbinic role. We were speaking about the tsunami. He said to me that he doesn’t begin to understand why some people ask how Hashem could allow this. It is obvious he says, almost all goyim deserve to be killed anyway. Any goy, he assured me, who doesn’t keep the seven Nohadic laws is punishable by death, and since few goyim keep the seven Nohadic laws they all deserve to die. So I asked him if he thought that the goyim of our neighbourhood deserve to die and he said yes. So I asked him if he would support the killing of all people that don’t keep the above mentioned laws and he said yes but he couldn’t see how it would be practical at present. So I asked him in what way was he different to Osamah-Bin-Laden, the Taleban and suicide bombers. He answered me that there was a massive difference; they were wrong – they only had to think logically and they would realise that they were wrong. So I asked him how he knew he was right. At that point he got upset. Of course he was right. Anybody who thought that he was wrong was a heretic. End of conversation number one.

In the second conversation with a second colleague, the tsunami came up again. My second friend made what I think was a very pertinent comment. He said that if people in the chareidi community would have televisions and would actually see bloated bodies on the beaches, would actually see the mass graves, would actually see the crying fathers, would actually see the wailing mothers, would actually see the orphaned children, would actually see the enormity of the collective suffering and pain, would actually the see the great destruction – having seen this they would no longer be able to continue claiming that Hashem allowed this to happen due to the peoples deviancy and idol worship. As it is so many of these fundamentalists don’t even listen to the radio. Many get their current affairs updated in the mikvah changing room. And that brings me to the end of conversation number two.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

A Generation of Reincarnated Pre-Deluvians

The Torah informs us that God brought the great flood (mabul) because of robbery (Genesis 6:13). The Rabbis in their infinite wisdom know that the Torah doesn’t really mean robbery. Rather the Torah means sexual sins.

Having grown up in a chassidish/yeshivish world I am always conscious that the generation I live in is synonymous with the ‘doir hamabul’ - the generation of the flood. Isn't it obvious to an objective observer? The ‘doir hamabul’ were sexual deviants – God snapped and wiped them out. What are the peoples who inhabit the world today if not sexual deviants? After all just take a walk down the high street on a summer’s day and see how woman of our generation dress.

It is clear that the only reason why God hasn’t brought another ‘mabul’ is because he has promised not to destroy the whole world again (Genesis 9:11). He could certainly destroy part of the world. He hasn’t promised not to do that.

For a long time I davened in a nice chasidisher shtiebel. The tunes were good and the herring was good. Our Rov returned to this, his favourite theme on countless occasions. Sometimes he would recount the following story;

Once when the Baal Shem Tov ascended to a higher spiritual world he found them to be building an enormous container. The Baal Shem wanted to know what it was all about? The heavenly answer given was thus:

The world was closing in on the Messianic era. The time had come to allow the souls that had inhabited the ‘Doir Hamabul’ a second chance and they would be reborn into the coming generation. It was their last opportunity to correct their ways. Many would not pass the test and would make the same mistakes. On dying their souls would be tossed into this new structure that was being built.

The generation of the 'mabul' has been reborn into the present one. We are the 'doir hamabul'. We are being tested again. Are we going to make the same mistakes as our last terrestrial sojourn?

Last week that mini flood happened. I think many a Rov will say 'I told you so'. And so they did. We all know why it happened. The beaches of Asia are the very places were some of the worst deviancies take place. Have you ever heard of a rave? Do you have any idea how these reincarnated pre-deluvians sit on the beach?

I shall leave you with a quote. It's the last paragraph of the main Tsunami article in our very own (UK) chareidi newspaper:

Hashem in his kindness has sent us a warning from a far away land that does not directly affect us, in the hope that he does not have to bring the warning closer to home. Are we listening?