Sunday, July 10, 2005

Sefarim we now need to ban/censor

R. Feldman writes
R. Eliashiv believes that they can be rightfully categorized as heresy (apikorsus) ... I believe this is because they diminish the honor and the acceptability of the words of the Sages, which has the status of apikorsus.
...
Rav Eliashiv added, “Even if he is one of the lamed vov tzadikim, these books may not be taken into a Jewish home.”


In other words, to say that Chazal made a mistake in science is heresy in 2005. If we take this idea to it's logical conclusion, not only can R' Slifkin's books not be taken into a Jewish home, neither can the following sefarim as they also contain the same heretical ideas. We should need to censor these sefarim.

1. Teshuvos HaGeonim 394:
Our sages were not doctors and said what they did based on experience with the diseases of their time. Therefore, there is no commandment to listen to the sages [regarding medical advice] because they only spoke from their opinion based on what they saw in their day.
2. Rambam, Moreh Nevuchim 3:14:
Do not ask of me to reconcile everything that they (Chazal) stated from science with the actual reality, for the science of those days was deficient, and they did not speak out of traditions from the prophets regarding these matters
3. Rambam Hilchos Kiddush Hachodesh where the Rambam implies clearly in a number of places that Chazal made mistakes in astronomy
4. Rabbeinu Avraham ben HaRambam, Ma'amar al Derashos Chazal:
…The great superiority of the sages of the Talmud, and their expertise in their explanations of the Torah and its details, and the truth of their sayings in the explanation of its general principles and details, nevertheless does not obligate us to defend them and uphold their views in all of their sayings in medicine, and in scientific knowledge
5. Ramban, commentary to Vayikra 12:2
"When a woman gives seed (tazria)" (Leviticus 12:2) …They said with regard to the meaning of this, "If the woman produces seed first then she will give birth to a boy..." (Talmud, Niddah 31a). And their intent was not that the child is formed from the seed of the woman, for a woman, even though she has ovaries like the testicles of a male, these either do not produce any seed, or the seed does not do anything for the fetus; but they said "produces seed" with regard to the blood of the womb that is collected at the conclusion of intercourse in the mother and attaches itself to the seed of the man, for according to their opinion the fetus is formed from the blood of the woman and from the white substance of the man, and these two together are called the "seed"… and the opinion of the doctors regarding formation is likewise. But according to the opinion of the Greek philosophers, the entire body of the fetus is formed from the woman's blood; the man contributes nothing other than the force that is known as hyuli in their language, which gives form to the substance… and if so, the word tazria is like, "[as a garden that] sprouts forth its seedlings" (Yeshayah 61:11)
The Ramban as well in Bereishis 9:12 and Vayikra 18:19.
6. Eyn Yaakov where he quotes the above letter of R' Avraham Ben HaRambam in the introduction
7. R' Hirsch
8. Pachad Yitzchak, entry “Tzeydah.”
9. Michtav M'Eliyahu p. 355 that the Sages never erred in the final halacha, although they may have erred in the reason they gave for it.
...

I am being very serious. Kefira is Kefira and according to what R' Feldman writes all of the above sefarim have kefira in them and therefore how can I keep them in my house? Did they censor these sefarm in in Ner Yisrael?

I am waiting for someone to seriously address this issue.

13 comments:

Nuch a Blog said...

Although I would love to hear R' slifkin speak, personally, I think that the way many in the blogosphere decided they are "better" and "smarter" and "understand better" then many of the people "ungenimin" as the gedolei hador.

which is a subject all in itself.. who decided who is the godol hador? the gedolei hador?

bluke said...

Speaking for myself, I don't think that I know more then the gedolim. However, that doesn't meant that I should turn my brain off. This is the Torah way, we ask questions on sevaras that we think are wrong. Talmidim in shiur ask questions on the Rebbe's sevaras and, sometimes they ask a good question. As the Mishna in Avos says m'talmiday yoser mikulan. No one is infallible. If R' Feldman writes a letter based on certain sevaras, and IMHO they seem to be wrong and/or weak, there is nothing with my saying that in a respectful way. Throughout the generations the Rishonim asked questions on the gemara the Acharonim asked questions on the Rishonim, etc. even though they knew that they were not on the same level.

In addition, on a fundamental level I am basing myself on what my rabbeim taught me, I am not saying any chiddushim here.

Anonymous said...

10. Shemiras HaGuf VeHaNefesh (quotes R S. Z. Auerbach that R. Avraham's approach is legitimate)

11. ArtScroll Gemara Chullin (references Hirsh's essay)

Nobody said...

Honestly, I have been ignoring your series of posts on this subject because I fell you are disproving a straw man. The reason for believing in the words of Chazal is because they are Torah, not because they are accurate "science" (meaning broadly some system of knowledge outside of Torah that Hashem reveiled to them seperately). So even if נשתנה הטבע the Torah is still relevant, just like halachas about the first conquest of Eretz Yiroel are still Torah, even if they will never apply again.

The Rishonim that say "Our sages were not docotors ..." etc. still would not argue that there is no obligation to say Birchas HaTorah before learning that portion of the Gemarrah. Hence the difficulty of their position.

Regardless, on the question of Kefirah, would you agree that it is Kefirah to say that Hashem literally has arms and hands? The Rambam certainly says so, even though there are Rishonim that disagree (and say that Hashem literally has arms and hands, ח"ו). The Rishonim said this before the psak halacha to the contrary was established. It would be kefirah to say it now, even though no one would ban the books of the Rishonim (which are, after all, דברי אלקים חיים) which say the opposite.

That is the same point being made about Slifkin.

That being said, the only way to make such a psak cross-community rather than each community according to its own Rav, would be to either show that Slifkin, et. al. take the opinion of Rishonim too far, and contradict things all Rishonim would agree are Torah (such as contradicting pesukim, or halacha), or that these communities themselves went away from the established psak under pressures from the Enlightenment and what came after it.

If it is his opinion that some other community is paskening like the wrong Rishonim, that isn't universally binding in other matters of Halacha, so why would that be so here?

I think often some hide behind the Kefirah charge to avoid anyone in their community examining the arguments. I'm nobody to question them on that decision. It just isn't persuation.

That being said, I do teach my children that it is Kefirah to say that any word of the gemarrah or Rishonim is anything but תורה which is דברי אלקים חיים.

bluke said...

You can add the Artscroll gemara in pesachim 94b where they quote the Geonim and R' Avraham

bluke said...

Nobody wrote
The Rishonim that say "Our sages were not docotors ..." etc. still would not argue that there is no obligation to say Birchas HaTorah before learning that portion of the Gemarrah. Hence the difficulty of their position.

The same thing would apply to any of the following:
1. A hava amina in the gemara that the gemara completely rejects
2. when the gemara calls the statement of an amora, בדותא, foolish
3. Statements that are completely not acccepted such as the statement there is no mashiach.

Whatever you hold about the above you can hold about the science in chazal. This does not make their position difficult and this is why R' Feldman did not bring this as a proof.

Regardless, on the question of Kefirah, would you agree that it is Kefirah to say that Hashem literally has arms and hands? The Rambam certainly says so, even though there are Rishonim that disagree (and say that Hashem literally has arms and hands, ח"ו). The Rishonim said this before the psak halacha to the contrary was established. It would be kefirah to say it now, even though no one would ban the books of the Rishonim (which are, after all, דברי אלקים חיים) which say the opposite.
A few points:
1. Who said? R' Marc Shapiro has a whole book disputing exactly this point
2. There is a big difference between the opinion of 1 rishon that was never accepted (and notr continued after him) and the opinion of some of the Gedolei Harishonim such as the Rambam, Ramban, etc. and Gedolei Acharonim until our day like R' Dessler. Whether you like it or not this shita has been accepted for over 1000 years.
3. How can you allow your children to read such an opinion in the rishinom, it is kefira? Maybe they will think that it is true?

That being said, I do teach my children that it is Kefirah to say that any word of the gemarrah or Rishonim is anything but תורה which is דברי אלקים חיים.

Even R' Feldman said that the Rishonim made mistakes None of these opinions apply this approach to the words of the Rishonim or Acharonim; only to the Sages.

How can you tell them on 1 hand that everything the rishonim said is torah while on the other hand state that things the rishonim wrote were kefira? Do you not see the inherent contradiction? How can kefira be part of torah?

I have a simple question, when your son or daughter learns the Ramban at the beginning of Parshas Tazria and sees that the Ramban holds that chazal could make a mistake in science what are you going to tell them?

Godol Hador said...

> R' Marc Shapiro

I agree with all you say, but I don't think Marc has semichah.

bluke said...

Really, if so my mistake. In any case R' Aryeh Kaplan clearly states that there is no psak on hashkafa based on the Rambam.

In any case, the Rambam says clearly that in questions of hashkafah or history, there is no p’sak. In other words, if an opinion is found in Chazal or in our
accepted Torah seforim, one cannot say that we do not posken like that opinion. Thus, the Rambam often takes a daas yachid (the opinion of just one person) and builds an entire hashkafah on it. He may use this opinion because it fits into his system of logic, even though it may be a minority opinion. He can do this, since the entire concept of p’sak only applies to questions of halachah and not to questions of hashkafah.

Nobody said...

"Whatever you hold about the above you can hold about the science in chazal."

I hold that they are Torah. I am not saying that you cannot answer the Rishonim. Of course you can, it just isn't so simple to say it is not Torah, and if it is Torah, it certainly Kefirah to say it is a mistake.

"Who said? R' Marc Shapiro has a whole book disputing exactly this point"

The Raivad. I'll take his word for it over R' Shapiro. I'm sure he is a very chashuve guy, although I have to admit I have never heard of him. (By literally, I should clarify that I understand that to mean in a spiritual sense, like Malachim have bodies, but still the point is the same).

"Whether you like it or not this shita has been accepted for over 1000 years."

I have no problem with that. I suspect that I am more comfortable with that than you are with Rabbeinu Tam's position on Shkiah being as widely accepted as it was.

"How can you allow your children to read such an opinion in the rishinom, it is kefira? Maybe they will think that it is true?"

The point is that it is kefirah to believe that, because the Psak Halacha is against that. Your question is no different to me than saying how can you allow your children to read the opinions that you are allowed to drink non-Cholov Yirsoel. I have no problem, I just teach them that the halcha is not that way.

That is the bottom line. It is about a Psak Halacha, not an unacceptable hava amina.

"Do you not see the inherent contradiction? How can kefira be part of torah?"

An opinion which is not the conclusion in Halacha can be part of Torah. Forget about Rishonim, I will teach them that it is Kefirah to not believe in Moshiach as a person who will become King. That doesn't mean they cannot learn Hillel's opinion to the contrary.

"I have a simple question, when your son or daughter learns the Ramban at the beginning of Parshas Tazria and sees that the Ramban holds that chazal could make a mistake in science what are you going to tell them?"

That the halcha is not like the Ramban in that (if that is indeed the Ramban's opinion there - I haven't looked it up, and your quote of it wasn't convincing, but I'll take your word for it for the sake of argument - they would hopefully see it from somewhere so the essential question is valid).

bluke said...

It certainly does, there is a big difference between learning about other halachic shitas that we don't accept and kefira. You are not allowed to learn kefira.

Nobody said...

"It certainly does, there is a big difference between learning about other halachic shitas that we don't accept and kefira. You are not allowed to learn kefira."

Although you could argue that this is the opinion (broadly speaking) of the Raivid and the Sefer HaIkkrim (who's argument against the Rambam is that Gedolim held differently than the Rambam's Ikkrim), making the conclusion that it cannot be Kefira, that is not the Rambam's view. The Rambam's view (as I have been taught it, anyway) is that you can say that believing a certain conclusion is Kefira, even if others have held differently.

So learning the Rishonim is allowed, because it was not Kefirah to say it then. Now is different, as now we have a P'sak Halacha differently.

Kind of, to draw a parallel, like paskening against the sanhedrin. The aveirah is not the p'sak per se, it is the contradicting of the sanhedrin.

So too, here. The aveira is not the opinion per se, but believing it in contradiction of the p'sak halacha to the contrary.

bluke said...

I believe that by kefira taht is not true. The Rambam writes in hilchos avoda zara (2:2-3) that you are not allowed to have any thougth that is kefira. Therefore it would seem that you would not be allowed to learn these rishonim, you are having thoughts of kefira.

Again, kefiora is different then other issurim, the avera is to think the opinion even if you don't believe it.

Nobody said...

"Therefore it would seem that you would not be allowed to learn these rishonim, you are having thoughts of kefira."

But those rishonim are Torah, as much as the conclusion. I think what I am saying is the only reasonable conclusion once you say that Kefirah is open to psak (and not just the lowest common denominator in what anyone with a valid opinion in Torah says - which would be the position of the Raivid and the Sefer HaIkkrim).

The only though of Kfirah would be that the truth is not like the halacha (in these matters, anyway).