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Subject: Continuing... rss

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Moshe Callen
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A number of the regular users here have expressed interest in discussions trying to bridge the gap of understanding between Jews and Christians (to put it kindly). This post is for them. If you're a troll who hates religions or who is hell-bent on trying to "prove" I'm some kind of extremist and/or abnormality, go somewhere else.
Before going into my principal point, I'm going to quote two posts, one addressed to me and one a response by me to something else.
mafh wrote:
whac3 wrote:
The trolling in matters of religion of late in its perverse way has prompted me to try to begin to address the dormant topic of the differences between Jews and Christians understandings of things which on the surface appear to be in common but which in actuality are almost always starkly different.


You wrote a very articulate post, but I think you have misjudged your audience. It is like someone giving a lecture on Quantum Mechanics to an audience who hasn't had Physics 101 yet. The language you used is completely foreign to most Christians, and the Jewish perspective on the Torah is also foreign to most. If you want to have a productive discussion, you need to start at the beginning, using simpler language that is understandable to someone who knows very little about Judaism.

There are a few things you need to understand about how Christians view the Torah. First of all, they don't call it that. They just view it as five books that are a part of their 'Old Testament' (I think you call it Tanakh). Christians view the Old Testament to be secondary in importance to their 'New Testament' (which includes writings by contemporaries of Jesus, letters, and writings of Paul, the founder of the Christian church). Christians don't necessarily consider the books you call the Torah to be any more important than the other books in the Tanakh, though I think they do consider the one called Genesis (which I think you call Bereshit) to be one of the most important.

Second, you need to understand that Christian law (where it exists) is only slightly based on the Torah. It is based on the Ten Commandments, but Christians believe most of the rest of the law as described in the book Leviticus (which you call Vayikra) was supplanted by the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. So, they mostly view those laws as being of historical interest, but a lot of it no longer needs to be followed. Catholic and Orthodox church law is heavily influenced by post-Biblical theologians, saints, and church officials and is not much influenced by the Torah.

You also need to realize that Christianity is very fragmented and many Protestant denominations don't have any church law at all. For most Protestant Christians, the religion is not based on any law, but is based on a statement of belief that is generally expressed by the Apostle's Creed (you can Google it to read the creed, if you want). To many Protestant Christians, being a Christian is not a matter of following a law at all, it is a matter of professing this creed. Even then, among some evangelical Christians, it is not even so much about belief in the creed (though I think that is required). For them, Christianity is more about an emotional experience and connection with the divine (in these groups, this is often referred to as 'accepting Jesus into your life' or something similar).

So, hopefully you can see that Christianity is very different from Judaism, and what you wrote was probably unintelligible to many Christians.

Disclaimer: I'm not Jewish or Christian, and I might have gotten any or all of this wrong.

whac3 wrote:
I am going to fisk your post. This is not meant as disrespect but makes it easiest to answer you and to correct whatever misconceptions there are.

rayito2702 wrote:
Wow, this went off the rails pretty quick. But in the spirit of the original post...

This post was aimed at a group of regular posters here on RSP and really continues an ongoing set of discussions. Sadly the trolls are resident here too. Still, a social bond of sorts has arisen here in RSP so that many of the regulars would regard each other as on-line friends. I've not met any IRL as some of the others have but I do hang out here.
Quote:
I haven't trolled these forums in a while so maybe it's been discussed previously, but first, my assumption is that "rav" = "rabbi;

Yes and no. Rav is cognate with rabbi but the words connote something different to me. Anyone with a certain level of smicha (Jewish rabbinical training/ordination) is a rabbi. Thus a guy who is trained to supervise cooking in a kosher restaurant might be called a rabbi in normal English. Such a person would not normally be called a rav. The word rav has a few meanings depending on context. Any rabbi who can consult on basic Jewish legal advice is a rav. Most often, as I am doing here though, the term refers to a poseq, a rabbi who can both act as a counselor of Jewish Law and who also can make legal rulings relevant to individuals. (E.g., "Can I do X in such and such case in this specific context that has come up?") The rav is required to take into account a person's level of observance, personal desires and circumstances, etc., lest the person not be willing or able to abide by the ruling. The term rav can also mean a dayan who is a rabbi who sits on a Jewish court and can make binding rulings in cases of disputes involving more than one person.
Quote:
Jewish religious leader"
yes
Quote:
and "rabanim" = "a committee of rabbis".

Rabanim is just the (irregular) plural of rav. When one says "the rabanim", one refers as a group to those rabbis who make legal decisions. They don't form a council usually. In theory, they do form a single group but in practice it's far more complicated. Let's say though that rabbi X makes a legal ruling on a case. That is called a daat Torah. It is quite literally the instructions of G-d to the individual(s) involved in the case. Yet that decision is made by human beings applying human reasoning and understanding. The fact that a human is doing the deciding in no way effects that G-d is also doing it at the same time in the same act.

Nevertheless for any notable case, the rabbi will typically describe in a tshuva (written legal opinion which will is some circumstances have the names obscured) the legally relevant details and how and why he made the decision he did. Other rabbis will read the legal opinion and comment on it. Over time, a consensus develops among the legally qualified rabbis on how to rule in specific types of cases.
Quote:
I'm going to use the term "rabbi" because I'm not sure from a linguistic and culture standpoint that I understand what a "rav" is. Do you prefer that non-Jews use terms like "rav"?

Rabbi is fine but non-specific.
Quote:
Anyway, what is the difference between a rabbi and a prophet?
Jewish Law is a system of case law. Although Torah Law grew out of normal Near Eastern law, the receiving of the Torah was a formal break with that tradition. The laws the Jewish people of that generation knew were changed and also a formal legally binding agreement was made between G-d and the Jewish people that, regardless of what other people might or might not do, we the Jewish people as a nation would have these Laws throughout our generations forever. That meant though that there weren't any cases to draw on at first. A navi or prophet was someone who would not and could not necessarily make a legal judgment (unless the navi was also a rav) but who could provide the legally relevant information for deciding the case; a rav who was a navi could not judge a case where he acted as a navi, with the exception of Moshe Rebeinu. A navi was not a witness in the normal sense but somehow gave the information anyway. Every fine detail of the information that could be checked out had to be verified and it had to match precisely or the navi was judged to be false. A navi would also sometimes announce divine judgments where no court had enough evidence to make a ruling. (E.g., The court can't convict you but you ARE a murderer and therefore G-d says you'll have some horrible accident by X date.) The latter cases were rare and only applied to people who were notable for whatever reason.
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Is Moses a rabbi, prophet, or both?
Both. He is the only prophet who was not physically incapacitated when acting as a prophet and he is the only one who spoke to G-d directly so that not only did G-d answer in an audible voice but all the other people nearby heard that same voice too. He was a rav because he made legal judgments. At first he did it alone, but when his father-in-law Yitro visited, Yitro convinced him he needed to share the burden. 70 men were chosen to act as the first Sanhedrin. These men were also rabanim but Moshe Rebeinu acted as the Nasi or president of the Sanhedrin which is a council of rabbis.

In principle, all rabanim are potential members of the Sanhedrin but the Sanhedrin was disbanded and no one to date has recognized legal authority to reconvene it.
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What is the relative authority of a modern day rabbi versus Moses?

Rabanim are in principle the successors of the members of the Sanhedrin. G-d said in the Torah that the members of the Sanhedrin would have the same legal authority as Moshe Rebeinu BUT each generation is obliged by previous generations' decisions.
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In other words is a modern day rabbi or committee of rabbis viewed as fulfilling the same position in Jewish society as Moses did in his day or is there a difference?

more or less
Quote:
In my reading of the Old Testament, it appears that some prophets--Isaiah for example--received direct communication from God and wrote those things down.

They went into a trance-like state and said things which a dedicated scribe wrote down.
Quote:
Do these writings have the same value as those things revealed by God in the Torah?

No, they don't.
Quote:
If not, why and what role do they play?

The Torah is the basis of Law. Prophets gave legally relevant information but did not make legal rulings. G-d stated there would never be another navi/rav like Moshe Rebeinu because the Torah is an eternal contract between G-d and the Jewish people.
Quote:
Are there several mutually distinct committees of rabbis?

In practice yes because there is no Sanhedrin with the legal authority to reconcile the differences. The Sanhedrin can only meet within the confines of the Bayit or Temple. As per the Torah, once a permanent location was chosen, that Bayit could only be in one place. That place is what we call Har Habayit, the hill/small mountain on which currently al-Aqsa mosque sits. That location was chosen for that mosque precisely because that was formerly where the Bayit was located.
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Or is it that once one becomes a rabbi, one is automatically put into a special subset of Jews and that the position of every member of that subset must be considered when it is necessary to come to consensus regarding the interpretation of the law?

Only rabbis with legally relevant expertise are considered but in principle all rabanim everywhere come to a collective single decision. Obviously in practice that doesn't always happen and the only body which would be legally authorized to rule on the differences of opinion is the Sanhdedrin.
Quote:
How many rabbis are there at any one time?

thousands but probably only a few hundred with legal expertise on any given issue.
Quote:
Finally, feel free to disabuse me of any incorrect assumptions I have made.

I've tried.

As I have stated elsewhere, I think in order to really understand Torah from a Jewish perspective, one must learn a fundamentally different way of thinking just as if one were learning calculus, physics or a foreign language. This is part of the reason one must learn from a qualified instructor and simply cannot learn Torah on one's own without having had such instruction. In future I want to talk about the rules of interpretation previously mentioned but I think it may be instructive in this thread to try to discuss what Christians think are the key questions in such religious discussions and to talk less about the answers than the questions themselves.
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whac3 wrote:
I think in order to really understand Torah from a Jewish perspective


why must there be understanding of what is essentially 1000's of interpretations of said 'truth'?
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DrWhoWho wrote:
whac3 wrote:
I think in order to really understand Torah from a Jewish perspective


why must there be understanding of what is essentially 1000's of interpretations of said 'truth'?


Because like it or not, many people define a large portion of their self-identity by their religious faith. And while your solution is to stomp your little feet and scream "Make it all go away," that's not gonna happen any time soon. So one of the best ways to mitigate the othering that goes on among different groups of religious adherents is to increase understanding. In the process, some of the ugliness that you decry about religion starts to dissipate.

That's why.
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GameCrossing wrote:
DrWhoWho wrote:
whac3 wrote:
I think in order to really understand Torah from a Jewish perspective


why must there be understanding of what is essentially 1000's of interpretations of said 'truth'?


Because like it or not, many people define a large portion of their self-identity by their religious faith. And while your solution is to stomp your little feet and scream "Make it all go away," that's not gonna happen any time soon. So one of the best ways to mitigate the othering that goes on among different groups of religious adherents is to increase understanding. In the process, some of the ugliness that you decry about religion starts to dissipate.

That's why.
Hopefully, but I doubt it.
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slatersteven wrote:
GameCrossing wrote:
DrWhoWho wrote:
whac3 wrote:
I think in order to really understand Torah from a Jewish perspective


why must there be understanding of what is essentially 1000's of interpretations of said 'truth'?


Because like it or not, many people define a large portion of their self-identity by their religious faith. And while your solution is to stomp your little feet and scream "Make it all go away," that's not gonna happen any time soon. So one of the best ways to mitigate the othering that goes on among different groups of religious adherents is to increase understanding. In the process, some of the ugliness that you decry about religion starts to dissipate.

That's why.
Hopefully, but I doubt it.


Depends on how widely that understanding is gained. If it's just isolated pockets like us, then it won't have a broad effect. But if it could happen on a global scale, then there would still be some who resist it but I would think the effect would be astronomical.
 
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GameCrossing wrote:
slatersteven wrote:
GameCrossing wrote:
DrWhoWho wrote:
whac3 wrote:
I think in order to really understand Torah from a Jewish perspective


why must there be understanding of what is essentially 1000's of interpretations of said 'truth'?


Because like it or not, many people define a large portion of their self-identity by their religious faith. And while your solution is to stomp your little feet and scream "Make it all go away," that's not gonna happen any time soon. So one of the best ways to mitigate the othering that goes on among different groups of religious adherents is to increase understanding. In the process, some of the ugliness that you decry about religion starts to dissipate.

That's why.
Hopefully, but I doubt it.


Depends on how widely that understanding is gained. If it's just isolated pockets like us, then it won't have a broad effect. But if it could happen on a global scale, then there would still be some who resist it but I would think the effect would be astronomical.
From what I have seen the worst bigots are not the ignorant (they are just exploited by them) but it is people who do understand the differences.

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GameCrossing wrote:
DrWhoWho wrote:
whac3 wrote:
I think in order to really understand Torah from a Jewish perspective


why must there be understanding of what is essentially 1000's of interpretations of said 'truth'?


Because like it or not, many people define a large portion of their self-identity by their religious faith.

In the process, some of the ugliness that you decry about religion starts to dissipate.

That's why.


I find it not quite that way.

Deeper looks at religion only shows the pure madness of said religion(s).

Not too mention, the OP has HIS interpretation, just his(well, based on whatever his Rabbi teacher lied about). Talk to a different Rabbi, get a different interpretation. It's just all too convenient.



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I asked in the OP for you trolls to stay away.

GC:

Thanks.
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slatersteven wrote:
GameCrossing wrote:
slatersteven wrote:
GameCrossing wrote:
DrWhoWho wrote:
whac3 wrote:
I think in order to really understand Torah from a Jewish perspective


why must there be understanding of what is essentially 1000's of interpretations of said 'truth'?


Because like it or not, many people define a large portion of their self-identity by their religious faith. And while your solution is to stomp your little feet and scream "Make it all go away," that's not gonna happen any time soon. So one of the best ways to mitigate the othering that goes on among different groups of religious adherents is to increase understanding. In the process, some of the ugliness that you decry about religion starts to dissipate.

That's why.
Hopefully, but I doubt it.


Depends on how widely that understanding is gained. If it's just isolated pockets like us, then it won't have a broad effect. But if it could happen on a global scale, then there would still be some who resist it but I would think the effect would be astronomical.
From what I have seen the worst bigots are not the ignorant (they are just exploited by them) but it is people who do understand the differences.



Informed =/= understanding. Some people will look at something not to understand but to castigate. And in those cases, I would agree with you. But I would suggest that those who seek to actually understand would disavow themselves of those ugly biases.

Westboro and those like them will always find people to follow them, to find a comfortable home for their bigotry. But if the mainstream gains that understanding I talked about, then there would be fewer and fewer places that accommodate that and they will be forced further and further into the irrelevant fringes like has happened with Westboro.
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DrWhoWho wrote:



Such as a never-ending hissy fit against religion?
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GameCrossing wrote:


Such as a never-ending hissy fit against religion?


hissy fit =/= to life long folly
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galad2003 wrote:
So Moshe posts an intelligent post asking not to troll it, the first response is a anti-religion troll post and everything after that is addressing the troll.

Yup RSP as usual.


If trolls paid attention to every request for trolls to stay away, then every thread would have an anti-troll disclaimer and they'd have to leave the internet.
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whac3 wrote:
I asked in the OP for you trolls to stay away.

GC:

Thanks.
Trolls? some off us have passed no judgement of you, your faith, anyone else's faith or any of the things we have been asked not to discus.

If you want to know why understanding cannot be reached, "YOU WILL ONLY DISCUS WHAT I WANT IN THE WAY I WANT!"

The question of why faiths (and if faiths) are capable of understanding each others is a valid question.
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DrWhoWho wrote:
GameCrossing wrote:


Such as a never-ending hissy fit against religion?


hissy fit =/= to life long folly


Then you would kindly tell me what this hissy fit railing has accomplished. My guess? Not much. And that makes it sound a LOT like folly.
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GameCrossing wrote:
slatersteven wrote:
GameCrossing wrote:
slatersteven wrote:
GameCrossing wrote:
DrWhoWho wrote:
whac3 wrote:
I think in order to really understand Torah from a Jewish perspective


why must there be understanding of what is essentially 1000's of interpretations of said 'truth'?


Because like it or not, many people define a large portion of their self-identity by their religious faith. And while your solution is to stomp your little feet and scream "Make it all go away," that's not gonna happen any time soon. So one of the best ways to mitigate the othering that goes on among different groups of religious adherents is to increase understanding. In the process, some of the ugliness that you decry about religion starts to dissipate.

That's why.
Hopefully, but I doubt it.


Depends on how widely that understanding is gained. If it's just isolated pockets like us, then it won't have a broad effect. But if it could happen on a global scale, then there would still be some who resist it but I would think the effect would be astronomical.
From what I have seen the worst bigots are not the ignorant (they are just exploited by them) but it is people who do understand the differences.



Informed =/= understanding. Some people will look at something not to understand but to castigate. And in those cases, I would agree with you. But I would suggest that those who seek to actually understand would disavow themselves of those ugly biases.

Westboro and those like them will always find people to follow them, to find a comfortable home for their bigotry. But if the mainstream gains that understanding I talked about, then there would be fewer and fewer places that accommodate that and they will be forced further and further into the irrelevant fringes like has happened with Westboro.
As this is (apparently) trolling I would suggest we do not discus if understanding is possible, and just accept the premise that it is. Fro that point on the back slapping and general !well we have solved that problem" can go ahead unhindered.
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DrWhoWho wrote:
GameCrossing wrote:


Such as a never-ending hissy fit against religion?


hissy fit =/= to life long folly


Many religious people who are "devoting" simply go to church every Sunday for an hour (and not just for worshiping - there are communal and social reasons for attending).

There are some prominent atheists who will spend more than that one hour a week bashing religious people, and mocking their beliefs. No benefits to the community, most of the time very hateful.

Who's wasting more time?
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OP...why focus on the Xtian population?

Why not find accord among the Muslims and compare their nonsense with the jewish nonsense?

Considering xtains and jews walk hand in hand already.

I would think jews trying to understand the koran and vice versa seems like a more pressing issue.

after all, we are dealing with myth based on 1000's of different interpretations of the myth
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BimmyJim wrote:
No benefits to the community, most of the time very hateful.

Who's wasting more time?


religious lies are far more damaging and must be pointed out and mocked
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BimmyJim wrote:
DrWhoWho wrote:
GameCrossing wrote:


Such as a never-ending hissy fit against religion?


hissy fit =/= to life long folly


Many religious people who are "devoting" simply go to church every Sunday for an hour (and not just for worshiping - there are communal and social reasons for attending).

There are some prominent atheists who will spend more than that one hour a week bashing religious people, and mocking their beliefs. No benefits to the community, most of the time very hateful.

Who's wasting more time?


If a person's life is improved because of that devotion and the structure it provides, I would say it's not time wasted. You can argue that their devotion is to a non-existent entity, but if their life is improved in spite of that, then I still would say that millions of lives improved is far less a folly than an endless stream of "Why won't you stop?!?!?!"

Oh, and I think this forum proves that some people are devoting more than an hour a day to that pursuit. And I bet your employer would see it as folly.
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DrWhoWho wrote:
OP...why focus on the Xtian population?

Why not find accord among the Muslims and compare their nonsense with the jewish nonsense?


How many adherents to the Koran are there in this forum?
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GameCrossing wrote:
DrWhoWho wrote:
OP...why focus on the Xtian population?

Why not find accord among the Muslims and compare their nonsense with the jewish nonsense?


How many adherents to the Koran are there in this forum?
It has finally dawned on me what he means by Xtian (I assumed it was some reference to Scientology or other).
 
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To try to get this thread back on track, I'll point out that a common question I get is:
Random Christian wrote:
"but how would Torah make you right with G-d?" or "Can Torah bring you salvation?"

These assume there's a problem between G-d and people and that people need salvation. These just aren't Jewish ideas. Typically then people will point out that no one can perfectly keep the Torah. The Jewish response is to point out that nowhere does the Torah demand perfect compliance. That's why it talks so much about what to do when one violates it whether accidentally, intentionally but without understanding or intentionally and with understanding.
 
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GameCrossing wrote:
DrWhoWho wrote:
OP...why focus on the Xtian population?

Why not find accord among the Muslims and compare their nonsense with the jewish nonsense?


How many adherents to the Koran are there in this forum?


how many are adherent to the xtian bile are there on this forum?

and do they really care about the jewish version of god? which is just another interpenetration of something that does not exist?
 
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whac3 wrote:
To try to get this thread back on track, I'll point out that a common question I get is:
Random Christian wrote:
"but how would Torah make you right with G-d?" or "Can Torah bring you salvation?"

These assume there's a problem between G-d and people and that people need salvation. These just aren't Jewish ideas. Typically then people will point out that no one can perfectly keep the Torah. The Jewish response is to point out that nowhere does the Torah demand perfect compliance. That's why it talks so much about what to do when one violates it whether accidentally, intentionally but without understanding or intentionally and with understanding.
How many Christians say this too you?, I do not recall ever hearing a Christian call it the Torah. As far as I know they do not see a difference between the bible and the Torah, and so call it the bible.

Perhaps you could provide a few examples?
 
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ἄνδρα μοι ἔννεπε, μοῦσα, πολύτροπον, ὃς μάλα πολλὰ/ πλάγχθη, ἐπεὶ Τροίης ἱερὸν πτολίεθρον ἔπερσεν./...
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μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος/ οὐλομένην, ἣ μυρί᾽ Ἀχαιοῖς ἄλγε᾽ ἔθηκε,/...
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I call it the Torah and as context should have indicated those were responses to me.
 
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