Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Do proofs (for or against) matter?

I was reading an article the other day about that was advising Jews on how to properly combat Christian missionaries on college campuses. It said that the best thing to do is avoid getting into the conversation at all since it is fruitless. It stated that you can discredit one of their proofs and they will say something along the lines of "well, that may not be true, but what about . . . " and then move on to the next proof.

Is that really any different than Orthodox Judaism? Take the following issues the trouble many skeptics; Creation, The Exodus, The Flood. You have scientific/geological issues with 6 days of creation. You have archeological/historical issues with The Exodus. You have geological/zoological issues with The Flood. So how does OJ answer? Well it says so in the torah and therefore it must be true.

So in the end, it doesn't really matter how you argue against anything in the Torah if you believe in the divinity of the Torah because it can't be wrong . On the flip side, is there hope of convincing an affirmed athiest (or skeptic) that the Torah is indeed divine?

While it is possible to convince people to move from one camp to the other, I think that once we are educated enough to make these arguments and back them up, we are pretty entrenched in our ways.

I would like to think that if someone showed me a side of Judaism that actually spoke to me that I would be open to it, but I just don't know that I am. I openly admit that I am looking harder for the proofs to back up my skeptic thoughts than ones that support the opposing view.

Monday, September 1, 2008

TSBP/Oral Torah issues Part II

I am still looking through the issues raised in the previous post, but I think my issue stems from a very basic question:

Why have the Oral Torah at all?

What is the point of having all these additional rules that are not specifically included in the most popular rule book in the history of the world, The Torah (Written Torah, aka 5 books of Moses)?

It can't be, as some suggest, that then the Torah would would be ambiguous, because the Oral Torah has just as much of a chance of being ambiguous. Plus you then have the issue of why God can't write an unambiguous book.

If it was to keep it from the general world population by passing it from person to person, then you have to wonder why God wanted these parts hidden from the non-Jewish population while sharing the Torah. If that is the reason, why not just make the entire Torah inaccessible to non-Jews? Are we hiding something?

Like the old kids party game of telephone, you know the message is going to get screwed up over the years. So it was inevitable that at some point the Oral Torah was written down since the Jews were losing the details. Couldn't God foresee this and just forget the whole Oral Torah idea and write it all down?

Finally, by having a chunk of the rules passed down through word of mouth, you increase the chances of some Jews keeping different rules than others. Wouldn't God want us all following the same set of rules?

If we are worried about the length of the Torah if all the rules are included, couldn't we just get rid of all the geneology stuff that seems pretty superfluous? Or maybe we could get rid of things that are repeated more than once.