Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Does DovBear subscribe to Principle Number Eight?

Number eight of the Rambams (Maimonides) 13 Principles of Faith unequivocally states that one has got to believe that the Torah (the Bible) is the word of God. Every part of it. No ifs and no buts. Every verse and every word. Period.

This principle is known as ‘Torah Min Hashomayim’ or Torah is From Heaven.

Now I really like DovBear. He is a fantastic blogger and I empathise with his worldview. I am sure he is a really great guy. Today though I pose the following question; does DovBear believe in this important principle of faith? Can DovBear claim to believe in Torah Min Hashomayim? Does DovBear believe that Torah is literally the word of God? The answer to all this is absolutely, absolutely not.

I think DovBear will take umbrage at this; he tries to claim that he does believe in it. But that is patently false. Take a good look at this post, the whole thing but especially point 1. In fact I will quote point 1 verbatim here;

mabulNo idea. It could have been a local flood. It could have been a global flood. It could be moshol. Or it could have been a local myth that found its way into the Torah post-revelation during the period (see the Books of Judges and Kings) when the Jews were almsot all idol worshippers and the book Moshe recieved was largely forgotten and ignored. The burden of proof, incidently, is on those of you who say that it was a global flood. You need to explain the inconsistancies in the story, and you need to explain the absence of physical evidence. Not a slam dunk.

Let me ask you DovBear, how do you understand the principle of Torah Min Hasomayim? It certainly is nothing like the way Maimonides understood it.

Let us take a look and see what the Rambam actually says;

(The relavent Rambam is in Pirush Hamishnayos; I have abridged it. But please look it up. He says what I say. )

The eighth principle is Torah Min Hasomayim. This means that one must believe that all parts of this Torah that we have today is the Torah that was given to Moishe who got it in turn from God himself. It is as if Moishe was a scribe writing verbatim what was being read to him. There is no qualitative difference between any parts of the Torah. Every part of it is literally the word of God. If any person is of the opinion that any anecdote or date is superfluous he disbelieves that Torah is Min Hashomayim. If somebody claims that all of the Torah is the word of God, besides but one verse that is not the word of God except Moishe said it himself, such an individual is a heretic.

I say to DovBear the onus is now on you to come out and explain how you reconcile your enlightened and modern approach to the text of our Torah against that classic article of faith that proclaims that all, every word is literally the word of God.


Blogger DovBear said...

My approach may be enlightened. I'm not sure its modern.

I appreciate the question, and I'll try to answer it, but why are you asking it?

1:16 PM  
Blogger Shlomo said...

This is exactly the question I ask every believer! If the Torah/Bible was dictated to Moshe, Yoshke, or the Schneerson Mob, then how could any of it be taken figuratively? Would HaShem not say what He means and mean what He says?

And if the decision as to what is figurative or literal is left up to the reader, then it comes out that it is the READER who decides what Torah means and NOT HaShem!


I believe, however, that the RamBam (Moreh) contradicts the Peyrush you quoted here. I haven't foudn the RamBam to be very consisient, and I think that DovBear might argue the same. I'll look it up before I say anything more.

Kol Tuv

7:23 AM  
Blogger Shlomo said...

I addressed the end of the last post to the wrong person. My apologies. That was for you Yoinoson.

8:03 AM  
Blogger Leapa said...

Let's presume we're not the very smartest people on the face of the earth. (Yes, I can)

Let's further presume that a fellow like the GRA or R'Chaim Brisker have top notch intellects vis a vis even smart people.

If they made such a big deal about inconsistencies in the Rambam, is it not safe to assume we are the ones missing something if we seem to find inconsisencies?

2:27 PM  
Blogger Shlomo said...


Lemme get this right. You want us worship other human beings so much that we refuse to question them, even when they ignore what seems to be obvious to us 'lesser' beings. Oh wait! There is already a religion that does that! It's called Catholicism.

Infallibility is the realm of Papacy. Last I checked, we were required to ask questions, unless of course, one may only ask the programmed questions, and not the real ones that matter.

Even if one answers this problem, and I believe I can answer as to WHY the RamBam contradicts himself, I cannot justify the contradiction itself. The RamBam speaks to two very different audiences between the Yad and the Moreh.

I think a lot of people are reluctant to engage in discussions of the RamBam that touch on this issue because it's a HOT one. The RamBam is considered by many the 'father' of reformed Judaism, and many of his deyos are not in line with normative orthodox hashkafa. Certainly not the kind the Brisker, the Volozhiner, or the GRA would find useful.

Besides, the GRA and his talmidim were too busy putting the Chasidim in cherem and closing down their shuls to be worried about little problems like this one.

There is no hero worship here. Everything gets questioned!

Kol Tuv

12:30 AM  
Blogger Avi said...

What a difficult heading I picked. "Only the truth" Do you realize how difficult it is to dig out the truth from the mountain of lies that the truth is buried underneath. I read the comments on President George Bush. They call him a liar. So what? Bill Clinton was also a liar " I did not have sex with that woman" Does anybody tell the truth anymore. I know a rabbi ( no names mentioned) who does not know what the word truth is. Thats ok, there are plenty of preists who also dont know what truth means. One of the names of God is " Emes" which means truth. That is probably the ultimate truth. That there is a God . The world belongs to someone. The world has an owner.

9:21 PM  
Blogger cecil563anais said...

damn good blog, check out mine, comments always welcome!

11:29 AM  
Blogger Leapa said...

Het wait, SL! You're starting with infallibility. I'm starting with respect for superior intellect.

If you think there is no one with intellect superior to yourself out there, then you are the subscriber to infallibity.

If you're asking me if someone smarter than me can be inconsistent or wrong, sure.
But that's an illogical starting point.

2:35 PM  

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