Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Who is entitled to an opinion about Torah issues?

Why is it that most people would never offer an opinion on a complicated medical issue, legal issue, physics issue, etc. because they understand that they just have no clue, while on complicated halachic and hashkafic issues every Joe Yid feels that he has the right to offer an opinion even though in reality he has no clue? Just like we understand that it takes years to master physics it takes years to master torah.

I recently saw a post on a blog discussing miracles, techiyas hameisim and other related topics. With all due respect to the posters there, they are discussing deep issues which require years of learning to understand, and have a myriad of sources that they have never seen. What makes them think that they are competent to discuss something like techiyas hameisim? Have these people even learned shas once?

Let's imagine instead of techiyas hameisim we were discussing quantum physics, bio-chemistry, particle physics, etc. Would you offer an opinion about whether something that Stephen Hawkings (pick your expert) said is correct or not? I would venture to say no, because you realize that you really have no clue about the subject and what seems illogical/impossible to you from your laymans/ignoramus perspective may be perfectly logical and correct to someone who has devoted to their life to this.

The same applies to Torah. Most people are layman who have not spent years learning Shas (bavli and yerushalmi), poskim, medrashim, zohar, etc. The GRA, Beis Yosef, Rambam, Ramban, etc. did. Therefore most people are not qualified to offer an opinion on these torah issues just like they are not qualified to offer an opinion about quantum physics. Imagine if you went to Stephen Hawkings and told him that you believe or don't believe in black holes because you it sounds logical to you, would he take you seriously? He would laugh you out the door, what do you know about black holes? The same applies to some Joe Yid making a similar statement about techiyas hameisim, miracles, sheydim, etc. In fact, it applies more to Torah because to really understand Torah a person has to be ממית עצמו and needs siyata dishmaya.

What about this blog? After all I post about halachic and hashkafic issues, why am I entitled to an opinion? The answer is that I only post things that I have heard from my Rabbeim or are basic halachos. I learned in YU (and in the Morasha Kollel) for a good number of years and picked up my derech in learning as well as my hashkafos from my Rebbeim, R' Willig and R' Shachter. Basically what I write on this blog relating to Torah is based on what I learned from them.


Godol Hador said...

You can mention or link to my blog. It wouldn't kill you. The distinction is simple. Scientific theories are based on years of research, facts and figures. Hashkafah theories are all man made inventions. I may not be as great as the Rambam, but I can make stuff up just as well.

bluke said...

That is where you are wrong. Hashkafa is based on years of research as well as having a mesora. If you don't know the basic sources how can you claim to speak intelligently?

Godol Hador said...

I don't agree. When did the Rambam come up with all his philosophy ? When he was young. He wasn't the Rambam yet. What did he base it on ? Aristotelian concepts. He made it all up. He did not have a mesorah, don't be ridiculous. I am not the Rambam, but I can make stuff up just as well.

dave said...

No, Godol, you can't.

Godol Hador said...

Can too.

Shmuel said...

Doesn't Gadol make a point? After all, at least regarding the Rambam, he did indeed adopt a worldview that was absolutely Aristotelian, and my understanding is that he attempted to explain the Torah through its categories and insights. Was that some sort of Jewish mesorah I never heard about? Did you learn Aristotelianism at YU and the Morahsa Kollel? Did Rabbis Willig and Schachter teach you that? Did anyone learn and teach Aristotle in the great Jewish academies of Bavel? No, no and no. So who on earth gave Rambam the right to adopt that hashkafah ---a foreign idea system if there ever was one --- and apply it to the Torah?
If Rambam could adopt Aristotle as his philosophical mentor --and that's exactly what he did, don't fool yourself --- why can't Gadol adopt a non-Jewish source as his? Or does the goy have to be as great an adom gadol as Aristotle?

Brandon said...

yeah man I'm digging it. I just started reading you guys yesterday after seeing the child abuse stuff in New York Metro. Does the Jewish Worker or GadolHador have an rss feed? I'm in China and I have to surf you through a proxy. PeaceFire.org So it would be bomb to add you to netvibes and google reader to keep up. If you don't have rss can you figure out how to get an rss for blogspot. It's probably right on your profile page and I'm just not seeing it. Oh yeah. The Abrahamoff pics on Salon.com. I want a hat. Where's a good place to buy one? I found the Gladhatter on Ebay. What grade of felt do I need. How much should I pay. Anyway I have enjoyed reading. Esp. the one about the guy taking his tie off to make a belt but that made him less fully dressed, really made me think.

Charlie said...

Your questions about felt and hats may be better answered at the hat forum www.gladhatter.com/forum .


Charlie / aka Gladhatter