Ben Shapiro’s Incestaphobia

From the people who brought you same sex romance and transgender children, their next experiment, no, not the return of polygamy, but incest friendly entertainment!

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22 thoughts on “Ben Shapiro’s Incestaphobia

  1. Gotta love Ben Shapiro- I don’t always agree with him, but I really like his work!! As for the subject matter- it’s kind of concerning that the very same people who argue “it’s not like changing x will lead to y” are nearly always lying through their teeth, cos in every single case changing x has led to y. But obviously if the purpose is to dismantle societal norms piece by piece, then it’s so easy to predict their next move: hard leftists are already on the road to normalising incest and paedophilia. What’s disturbing to note about this story in particular is that I first heard about it in a left-wing news source and they were genuinely arguing that this was a-okay cos they were adults. Needless to say, it was a massive wake up call for how mad the left has become. Sorry for the rant- guess I’m just a bigot too!

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    • I’ve always loved the longer messages, especially when they’re so on target. Sounds like you’re rightly describing the old “That’s the slippery slope argument” argument, after which people feel comfortable blocking/ignoring/dismissing their conversation partner. However, if the shoe fits, why not wear it? It’s slippery, slippery as an eel, and whenever, wherever activists are allowed to bulldoze their way through the arguments by thinly veiled taunting they overreach. For example, consider the case of “civil partnerships” in the UK, which was an idea spearheaded by both liberals and conservatives so to placate the raging gay activists.

      They said to themselves “If we give gay people legal protection, the sort which is no different from marriage on paper, then they’ll stop demanding we redefine marriage to include their same sex relations.” That’s reasonable, if you’re dealing with reasonable activists, which they weren’t. After getting civil partnership that only enraged and emboldened gay terrorists further, and soon thereafter came “gay marriage.” The dominoes were falling, the slopes slippery, and leftist just repeat the process for their next social experiment.

      You’re 100% correct, it’s evidenced in that paedophile groups have a long history of cooperation with the gay activist community, and that’s not even to mention the new darling of liberals, polyamory! Why stop at just two people? If love and consent are the deciding factors, who’s to say love can be contained to just two people?! It takes a village to raise a child and so on (you can just hear their shrill ramblings now).

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      • Yeah exactly- they may wish to dismiss these arguments as “slippery slope” fallacy- but if the left will continue to slide down that slippery slope- then it seems to me it’s a fair argument to make.
        With regard to the gay marriage issue in the UK, I’m very much with Peter Hitchens in this- it was a non-issue that affected 0.2% of the population, done by an opportunistic government that just wanted to score brownie points with the hard left (a bit pathetic considering the conservatives that voted for them didn’t actually agree). Regardless how libertarian I am on the issue- it does have consequences that were brushed under the carpet at the time. One argument at the time was religious institutions wouldn’t be forced to allow gay marriage- but, of course, even as laws were being put in place to protect religious freedoms, the gay and leftist lobbies were working hard to undermine it. Again, you’re right, it’s not some fallacious slippery slope argument if it’s actually happening. Everything about this debate can actually be found here (the smarmy liberal in the pink shirt that speaks first is Will Self):

        Well, what concerns me is that they’ve decided to start giving paedophiles a voice- they believe it’s fine to normalise it and let them spread their views. Ultimately the left really, really does not care about child abuse. Recently in the UK religious parents had their child taken away because they didn’t think their child should transition before they were 18. And on the other side of the argument, social services did not intervene when a boy’s parents tried to raise him as gender neutral, despite him identifying as a boy- the judge eventually ruled that the boy was put under extreme mental stress by his parent’s behaviour.
        Oh yes, as you said, there’s no end to their nonsense

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      • Hmm, Smarmy begins by first insisting “Whatever they may be” with regards to male and female distinctions, was he perhaps unsure of the reality of chromosomal differences, as if they’re not aware of how such genetic markers are responsible for male and female differences (e.g. bone density, muscle mass, even chemical make-up in the brain). For me to write they were unsure, that would mean they probably weren’t forming their conclusions upon overly solid grounds. After which they go into Mark, of every Bible book, why Mark’s Gospel? Not because they were accurately representing the other side, I’d guess. Mark’s simply the reiteration of Genesis 2:24, as is also found word for word in Matthew, Paul’s letters and elsewhere. It’s not that believers would point to an individual verse, but rather, an overarching theme of the entirety of Scripture.

        ‘Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness. . . When God created mankind, he made them in the likeness of God. He created them male and female and blessed them. And he named them “Mankind” when they were created. . . .That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.’ (A combo of Genesis 1:26, Genesis 5:2 & Genesis 2:24).

        The gold standard of discipleship isn’t about taking literally everything in the pages of the Bible, it’s about Bible literacy, about reading Psalms as songs (how it’s intended), and the Gospels as biographies, just how they’ve been intended. Some of the older blokes I speak to don’t watch sky sports news for the romance, nor the horror, because it’s not intended to be understood as romantic or frightening, it’s sports news. The writer of Ecclesiastes, for example, begins their book by writing “Everything is meaningless”, yet within the course of their thought, they come to the conclusion that certain ideas and behaviours are indeed meaningful. Why “be literal” and not nuanced? Be literal where literals are intended.

        Smarmy Will, Bible expert, 😛 ends by their belief that “just about anybody should be allowed to get married to anybody else.” Totally unreal, and very dangerous. As always Peter in the 13th minute demystifies the entire subject, the ridicule they’re met by (while in mid sentence no less) goes to show how fearful and undisciplined the pro-gay panellists were. They confirmed the man’s entire point by their jeering and sneering. No wonder I loved their “The Rage against God” book so much.

        I’d like to grab onto an incidental comment you made though, for you explained how you don’t always agree with Ben Shapiro (blasphemy!), and it’s a bit of an interest of mine to listen to or read from an intelligent person’s honest criticism of another intelligent person’s viewpoint. Could you go into how you two differ? In their “The Myth of the Tiny Radical Muslim Minority” I myself found my first point of contention with Shapiro (albeit they might clarify later), since they began by explaining “There’s plenty of violence in the Old and New Testament too.”

        Ben pointed out there’s violent material in both collections of writings, however, they insist, Christians and Jewish believers in orthodox Judaism aren’t (unlike in the case of Muslims) beheading journalists, flying planes into buildings etcetera. Yet, by way of correction, or just clarification, both the Torah and New Testament “violence” is of the descriptive variety. I’d have to reply: “There’s lots of violence in the New Testament, the vast majority of which word for word and pound for pound gets committed against Christ.” Similarly, much of the Torah focuses upon descriptive acts of historic violence, not proscriptive commands to do violence in the present.

        Qur’an chapter nine verse twenty-nine, now that’s proscriptive, that’s an actual command to do violence in the modern day. Muhammad’s command in the traditions to expel Jews and Christians from the Arabian peninsula, again, that’s proscriptive, that’s commanding certain sorts of violent/coercive behaviour. Similarly, the death penalty for apostates, that’s not descriptive, that’s instructive.

        Meaning whenever believers in Judaism, or believers in Christianity, attempt to commit violence in Joshua’s name or Paul’s name, I’m equipped by their own teachings against their antics. My peaceful Muslim friends don’t have the same advantage. Even in conversations not of a life-threatening nature, like in the case of the Jehovah’s witnesses, just an amateur grasp of Greek grammatical structures would be enough to correct their misuse of various sentence clauses. So, my question, whereabouts do you give Ben an A-? 🙂

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      • Hahaha yes Smary’s introduction made me laugh out loud when I watched it. It’s just straight up ridiculous. He always looks daft and I’ll be honest, I personally dislike him for his egotistical “reworking” of Picture of Dorian Gray, into a much lousier novel- but that’s neither here nor there. His arguments are basically just resorting to ad hominem attacks of anyone that disagrees with him as “homophobic”. And like you said, Peter demystifies and provides for some actual insight into the issue. Naturally, they do not have the maturity to debate him.
        Ah my incidental comment- haha, you caught that did you? Well the truth is no one agrees with everyone all the time- but in my case I find myself in a peculiar position being agreeing with many of Shapiro’s arguments, as I’m not actually in political alignment with him- he’s a right wing libertarian, I’m a centrist with libertarian leanings (who believes in realpolitik if you want to get technical)- so naturally there will be areas I disagree with him on (usually his more partisan economic policies). Plus I’m a Brit- and he’s not always correct about what works and does not work over here (all I’ll say is never get between a Brit and the NHS!)
        As for his comment on that video, I do agree with you and I found it curious that Shapiro made that comment given that in the Bible it is more descriptive than prescriptive. But I had to assume that he was using the technique of predicting his opponent’s arguments in order to deflect it, in a short space of time. Plus, to be pedantic, there are some examples of descriptive incidents of violence in Islamic religious texts. And likewise there are prescriptive laws in the Old Testament, such as stoning for working on the Sabbath, which are no longer put into practice (given the evolution of both Christianity and Judaism). His follow up that Christians and Jews not ramming planes into towers (etc) somewhat hints that there is an underlying issue with Islam, though this video does not actually go into the “whys” of that at all (again, I can assume that comes down to wanting to be concise and time constraints). I also think one of the reasons he didn’t go into the theological debate over violence in the Bible is because Shapiro specifically avoids using religious arguments because he knows this will not appeal to irreligious people.
        Given that Shapiro is a pretty non-violent person with his libertarian attitudes, I’d guess he probably has a similar view of the Bible being descriptive- as evidenced less by what he says and more by what he practices.
        So I guess I’d still give Ben an A for the clarity of his argument. In this instance he did not expand on his points, but I have seen him do it in other places (such as when he’s questioned by an audience member at his events). And even if I disagree with him on things, it doesn’t take away from the fact that I think he’s a very skilled commentator.

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      • I’ve really developed an interest in Oscar Wilde, thanks in no small part to “Sense and sensuality”, again neither here nor there nor anywhere. They were an excellent writer, very clever, their early observation in Dorian Gray about how great thinkers are a lot of “forehead and nose” made for me to laugh. Ah, homophobia, much like Islamophobia, it’s a real condition don’t you know, if I’m within 6 feet of a gay man I break out in hives, same for Muslim believers, and don’t even get me started on gay Muslims! My phobias are gonna send me catatonic.

        So, Ben, economically writing, would be a sort of protectionist, due to which you would butt heads? And please get technical (heaven knows I’m going to be later in my reply), just so long as you’re enjoying our exchange any clarification would be perfect. Realpolitik, from my slim research, could be caricatured as amoral politics, for example, in the book “Make Room! Make Room!” humanity embraces various forms of birth control exactly because of constraints upon resources, they’re coming to their conclusions “based primarily on considerations of given circumstances and factors”, how Realpolitik has (either rightly or wrongly) been defined. I defer to your expert view on the subject. 🙂

        The descriptive violence found in Islamic religious material wouldn’t really be of bother to me, like how (though not selfsame) Lot offered up their daughters to an angry mob. They’re curious materials, not unlike how people are curious in general. For anybody who doubts the above, give evangelizing a go, you’d be amazed at the sorts of people you meet. Concerning prescriptive commands to do violence in Old Testament books however, such as stoning, I’d like to add several thoughts.

        1st. My reading of prescriptive commands as found in the Bible separates God’s demands of us (specifically Israel in places) into several categories. They’re ceremonial, dietary, to do with Israel’s inheritance and personal holiness (you mentioned personal holiness).

        2nd. Commands to do with ceremonial law, dietary restrictions and holiness (in many cases) weren’t made in relation to a micro picture at the expense of a macro one. Rather the opposite would be true. God made Israel (corporately writing) the apple of Their eye, so to ultimately bring healing to every nation (Genesis 22:18). It’s with a mind to worldwide healing that God commanded various laws to do with Sabbath labour, diet, ceremony and conduct, lest Israel had been absorbed into an alien nation and their largely dangerous polytheistic traditions. To be more to the point with regards to the Sabbath, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath” comes to mind. It’s about men not making labourers of one another. Our conversation would be very much like the discussion of slippery slopes, by which I mean to write, there’s no fallacious reasoning just so long as people are REALLY in the habit of slip sliding. Similarly, just so long as God’s macro picture were an actual part of the formation of Israel’s early national purpose, there’s no real problem.

        ##########
        UPDATE

        To really make the distinction, I’d have to write, in the case of the three Islamic injunctions to violence I’ve mentioned, they’re both prescriptive and active in the present. Whereas, in terms of Jewish beliefs, we’re writing on injections only active so long as the nation of Israel lived as a theocratic state with God as the head. The Jewish people were happy to belong to the state led by God as a pillar of fire and smoke, in spite of certain crimes being worthy of capital punishment. However, that’s not to write an Israeli government today could behave in such a way, no without God as their head of state (an idea they’d scoff at considering their secularity).
        ############
        Not too shabby a defence of my Jewish neighbours, if I do write so myself. 😉

        You’ve explained how Shapiro wisely avoids argument based within Scripture, doing so because such an argument holds no weight insofar as an irreligious viewer would be concern/unconcerned. That’s both very considered and effective in communicating their point, however, from my experience, Ben appears to be more of a political commentator anyways. Meaning theories such as political realism would more readily resonate not just to their audience, but to himself also. Which leads into another question of mine, let’s pretend Ben began forwarding arguments grounded in the authority of the sages and their interpretation of the Torah, would they resonant so far as you’re concerned?

        I’ve found for my studies that much of Judaism’s evolution would be down to coercive outside forces, be they hostile nations, foreign captivity, even the destruction of the second Temple. The newly imagined sacrificial system, which today gets described as “Our (meaning believers in Judaism) words”, had been caused not by God’s command to begin word/charitable sacrifice as our main means of atoning, but rather owing to the nation being deprived of their primary place of worship. “Let our words be a sacrifice” is an expression of the sages, who, with want to defend their ways in light of various occurrences (70AD etcetera) “evolved” other means by which to worship. That’s an actual change in mainline Judaism. Not to mention various offshoots of Judaic faith (an offshoot wouldn’t be fairly counted as an addition or evolution to mainline tradition however). Wouldn’t an evolution with regards to Christianity be of the latter sort and not the former, as most definitely many offshoots and atypical expressions of “Christian” belief have came about. Nonetheless, beliefs and practices of first century Christians in the mainline appear fairly unchanged.

        Pliny the Younger, in their letter to the Emperor Trajan, outlined early Christian practises and beliefs rather excellently when they composed: “They asserted, however, that the sum and substance of their fault or error had been that they were accustomed to meet on a fixed day before dawn and sing responsively a hymn to Christ as to a god, and to bind themselves by oath, not to some crime, but not to commit fraud, theft, or adultery, not falsify their trust, nor to refuse to return a trust when called upon to do so. When this was over, it was their custom to depart and to assemble again to partake of food–but ordinary and innocent food. Even this, they affirmed, they had ceased to do after my edict by which, in accordance with your instructions, I had forbidden political associations. Accordingly, I judged it all the more necessary to find out what the truth was by torturing two female slaves who were called deaconesses. But I discovered nothing else but depraved, excessive superstition.”

        Wouldn’t many unbelievers have similar criticism/descriptions of Christian believers nowadays?

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      • Haha yes, we all have something fundamentally wrong with us if we dare disagree with something- I myself have been “diagnosed” with all the phobias 😉
        Haha well it’s not quite like that (that is a fictional representation after all). It’s simply a more pragmatic approach to politics- the best example is Bismarck, who achieved the unification of Germany in 1871 and then kept peace in Europe for 30 years (and in my opinion would have prevented WW1 if the warmongering Kaiser hadn’t fired him in 1898). It is both impossible and inadvisable to be without morals entirely in politics and- such as with Shapiro- morality will always be a guiding force, but unlike the feminist mantra, the personal does not have to be political. Sometimes the best solution is to put aside personal biases in politics (a good example is Theresa May’s current stance on Brexit- though she was on the side of Remain, she has put aside her own views in order to implement the country’s mandate, because to do otherwise would have sent the UK into chaos and caused a constitutional crisis). Also, the biggest difference with the example you gave is that it’s a way of practicing politics- not a goal in its own right. There’s no view to creating some amoral utilitarian utopia- at least not from where I’m standing! I just believe that sometimes you can get the most out of politics with a pragmatic approach. And I’m always happy to go into more detail if you need more clarification!
        Yeah of course I agree with you that the prescriptive verses of the Bible aren’t problematic- especially as, like you said, they are a formation of Israel’s early national purpose/identity. I don’t think there’s any reason to take offence at historical laws. Haha yes, not shabby at all!
        Hmm that’s an interesting question- if the logic resonated and was well reasoned, then it should not matter what the sources are. There are many lessons to be learned from the Torah and the Bible and I am not so biased that I would dismiss them out of hand. In Shapiro’s own words “facts don’t care about your feelings”- if it’s factually true, it’s true- it does not matter who said it. If he veered off facts, he’d lose my attention at some point however. Plus, I’m sure that if he did that the debate would get derailed very quickly into some pretty technical discussions- because one thing is certain- Jews never agree on anything. There are, as they say “70 faces of the Torah”- there is no way we’d be on the same page all the time, even if I were religious.
        Yes, that’s true about the evolution of Judaism (an important thing about Judaism to note is the importance of rabbinic authority and oral law- making it always in a state of flux and constant reinterpretation- even if the principles remain the same). Certainly I would put Christianity in that category.
        True, very true- a lot about Christianity has remained the same. Fundamentally, even after the reformation, the beliefs have remained consistent.

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      • Considering how leftist activists have gotten things done, writing historically, they’re very often guilty of declassifying actual disorders, while concocting imaginary mental illnesses (or phobias) so to silent perfectly healthy people.

        Realpolitik, which in my opinion you explained most attractively by writing “it’s a way of practising politics-not a goal in its own right” sounds as if it’s pure method. It’s helpful in that I’ve been funnelling Realpolitik (as best able) through ideas such as economic interest. “The personal is political” simply comes across as an excuse to take everything personally, which goes a long way to explaining why third wave feminists are such narky sods. I don’t necessarily hate a person’s guts merely because I disapprove of their budget.

        I’m curious however, as I’m unsure by what justification could an advocate of realpolitik vote in favour of Britain exiting the European union (if they could). Wouldn’t their ballot box be scored in light of the nation’s shared economic interest? In spite of an economic beef on the side of many brexiteers who’d felt left behind, much of my experience around brexit was to do with people risking a vote against their economic interests (so sayeth THE EXPERTS from on high). People voted at their supposed peril for an identity they’d felt wasn’t being honoured.

        Are you and Ben absolutely CERTAIN facts don’t care about my feelings. Perhaps facts may rearrange themselves so to accommodate my precious emotions. 😛

        Doesn’t it appear however that the pragmatic approach of your politics would be in sharp opposition to traditions which teach a kind of Hydra approach to religion? I hope my wording isn’t offensive. The pragmatic approach would mean there’s method, understanding, something to be truly grasped, that and not a free for all. Whereas the charge of having 70 faces almost makes Scripture monstrous. No method, or methods are equally valid. No understanding, or that your ways of reading are no finer than my own. That’s not to write believers need to have uniformity upon every jot of ink, but rather, that God’s Word be sufficiently clear in our major contentions.

        “even if” you were “religious”, meaning to say you don’t consider yourself particularly religion oriented (interesting). Perhaps I’ve read too much into “even if.” 🙂

        I’m wondering how our principles could remain unchanged while bringing about an environment of constant reinterpretation/flex. Hermeneutics, good hermeneutics, if adopted as our principle, would curtail such an environment. My study of Orthodox Judaism would inform me of how there’s supposed to have been an undisclosed, secret oral tradition imparted to Moses upon mount Sinai (whereby the Torah can be properly understood). Not only am I sceptical of such claims because they’re not alluded to in either Torah books or our other earliest contemporary materials, they’re also the kinds of argument whereby my Catholic friends argue their organization alone is the interpreter of Scripture. To Catholics I can only ask, before their organization ever emerged, when Yeshua said “Is it not written” to Their fellow Jews, why did He presuppose they had the ability to judge right by God’s word to humanity? Surely if they had an ability, some kind of accurate reasoning from God’s word, Catholic arguments to being our sole interpretative authority are unfounded.

        If, as the saying goes, there are “70 faces to the Torah”, there’s (sadly to write) no less than 700 heads to what’s described as “Christianity.” JW, Mormons, Christian Science, gurus are everywhere offering up their unschooled, private misconceptions about Scripture as God’s word to humanity. In fact, I’ve just gotten through listening to an individual groomed to be “the world teacher” by yet another religious cult (only around seven minutes of their talk would make my point).

        To my surprise, despite supposedly being candidate for a teacher of worlds, J. Krishnamuri hadn’t come to grips with simple logic errors such as the genetic fallacy.

        An array of gurus, even (un)holy holy men, have their viewpoints about who such and such are (God included), yet, their ideas wouldn’t change God’s truth, if indeed They have stooped down and handed us Their identity. The fact of God’s freewill choice to make Himself known doesn’t care about the gurus’ feelings. How is it then that the sages, as wise or foolish as they might be on a case by case individual basis, can appear to be so relativistic in total, or, are there perhaps even such difference amidst their ranks that there are rabbis who teach God decisively found within their Torah, and an individual reading which majors in the majors and minors in the minors? How do you yourself describe your faith?

        “flux and constant reinterpretation” As you’ve explained, wouldn’t be applicable to the actual books of Psalms, Exodus, Isaiah or Deuteronomy, but rather flux and reinterpretation would be to do with modern culture and our (often anachronistic) ideas of history past. It’s not that “In the beginning” changed, but rather you mean to write how the sages and people in general interoperate the documents change. Would my understanding be fair?

        If so, if my understanding is an accurate one, wouldn’t the pragmatist in us both utterly repudiate that taken any further (or given more attention than needs be at the expense of authorial intention) as an example of the sages treating Scripture as an evergreen documents? To agree to have any document treated as a living document, or dynamic document (they’re synonymous things in reality), would be to give way to reformers who in politics, areas of “reproductive health” and law, tirelessness work to consign documents like the declaration of independence, law and even the Scriptures into a nebulous mulch of putty to be worked and reworked independently of the author’s original intent.

        How else could people insert “gay marriage” into American law without “the living documents” in which judges can “discover” same sex unions to be affirmed. Air quotations everywhere!

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      • Yes, very true.
        Yes, I would view it that way. A lot of people practice it without realising it. Yes, that’s what I find- haha very true! I wish people could be a tad more objective about politics.
        Well that’s very easy to answer, as I’m a staunch Brexiteer. To put it simply, the question being asked came down to certain (or as certain as you can be) economic stability vs sovereignty and democracy- sovereignty and democracy is more important, ergo I voted for Brexit.
        Hahaha well that’s certainly what liberals tend to believe.
        It’s not offensive at all. Perhaps I haven’t explained it very well. It’s more that there are levels of interpretation. It’s that within every verse there are several levels of meaning coexisting simultaneously.
        Haha it’s fine, I’m not religious, just come from a religious background- I’m more “culturally” minded these days.
        The oral law is the room for interpretation and how to put actual Judaism into practice- it’s not so oral anymore- as it basically consists of the gemarah and mishnah that were written down by Ezra and Nehemiah in c500 BCE. So it’s not so secret… 😉 Funnily enough, there are Jews that don’t believe in oral law (called karaites) but to explain fully why and how there is an oral tradition, I hope you don’t mind me putting a link to somewhere that can give a better explanation than I can:
        http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/725026/jewish/What-If-I-Believe-in-Only-the-Written-Text-of-the-Torah.htm
        It should also help to shed some light on the notion of interpretation within Judaism.
        Yes that’s a very fair understanding.
        Haha there is always room for interpretation- yes. However, if factually speaking it is correct to say “the sky is blue” no matter how long you argue, you won’t be able to prove that it is in fact yellow. So while there may be room for reformation and reinterpretation, it doesn’t mean that people can reinterpret it however they like. Interestingly enough this is an area of frustration for me in the way that amateurs interpret literature in general, saying “read between the lines” whenever they wish to create an interpretation that is wholly inaccurate and without evidence. So no matter how “alive” a document is, people can still be wrong when they try to reinterpret things. Being alive does not mean individuals get to kill off the bits they don’t like to make way for their own feelings.

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      • Sovereignty and democracy also informed my vote, for which we’re yet again in agreement (it’s an “I agree with Nick” situation). Perhaps I myself am an unwitting practitioner of realpolitik, albeit that too would be something of a by product of my faith, as the saying “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and to God the things which are God’s.” would attest. One being an expression of practicality, and another of deeply held religious conviction, both satisfied just so long as our modern Caesar doesn’t intrude upon the things of God. When you share how there are several levels of meaning within Torah, even various meanings which can coexist simultaneously, I’m reminded of these types and shadows which are outlined in my New Testament! For example, in the book of Zechariah, specifically chapter six, verses eleven until thirteen, the prophet is commanded to crown the head of Joshua, the son of Josedech, the high priest, they’re then described as a forerunner to the Branch (a name universally recognized as belonging to the Messiah). A priestly king, Joshua, described as “the Branch”, in light of the Gospel biographies, reads as an event that’s multi layered, having significance in the moment and within the greater macro picture which God had planned for His people and the entire world (beautifully marrying both of our perspectives).

        When you share how Gemara, in addition to the Mishnah, have their origins in 500 BC, wouldn’t their composition, if accurate in the orthodox Jewish perspective, be an attempt at preserving Moses’ oral tradition which they had received upon Mount Sinai (somewhere between 1400 BC until 1200 BC). However, by my own cursory study of the material of the available sources, the Mishnah, our earliest of the pair, wasn’t consigned to the pages of history until around of beginning of the third century, when, according to the Talmud, persecution of the Jewish people had reached such an unbearable amount that their very oral tradition had been in danger of total destruction. The fact of its composition having been done in part in Aramaic (owing to the dispersion) would lend itself better to the early AD/early 500’s BC than nearer Moses’ forty year sojourn in the desert. Although, for you and I to punt Talmud material into Nehemiah’s era, that’s plausible just insofar as often goes preservation practices in the ancient world.

        I’ve actually just purchased a book on Karaitism, as I said to myself, I’m exchanging messages with this very intelligent, wordy young writer, a writer who even read from the Torah in the original Hebrew, and wouldn’t it be a wasted opportunity if I didn’t pick their brains on the subject of their intriguing faith. Due to which I’ve wondered, you’re not from my understanding a proscriber to the karaite outlook, and to write you were would mean a kind of demotion for the Talmud, not an extinction or eradication, but perhaps something of a revision. Your article by rabbi Freeman goes an awfully long way so to further my understanding of your position, however, after interacting with their material briefly, I’d like to ask for your viewpoint today.

        Much of rabbi Freeman’s article explained how due to perplexities, or perhaps unexplained divine injunctions/rituals or commands, an orthodox Jew’s claim to having an authoritative oral tradition is an accurate and/or essentially necessary addition to the Scriptures. They outlined how to believe in Israel means believing in Scripture, for which, undecided people can’t want Scripture while not also embracing the auxiliary tradition of the Israelites who carefully guarded Torah material for thousands of years. The rabbi concludes by way of writing “make yourself part of the Jewish people, and have a little faith in us. After all, if it weren’t for us, where would that little book be?” Having read my positions in various conversations, you can imagine me having a religionist fishhook eye twitch at how rabbi Tzvi elevated their people above God’s safeguarding of Scripture. Karaitism, in comparison, appears more as if belonging to the category of reformation, an attempt at regathering God centric theology (or even “Sola Scriptura” in Christian lingo).

        To answer their claim, hopefully by an answer you find compelling, my reply would be to write I don’t ground my trust in God’s revelation to humanity based upon Israel straight, that’s an untrue claim to make, writing Biblically, rather, my belief would be grounded in the righteous remnant of Israel (even a remnant of one). Shammai might chase people away, Hillel however, their lesson would lead for me to reply “men and women are either with or without principles, they’re either worthy or unworthy of my trust, which are you, Hillel sir?”

        “Written symbols on a scroll are meaningless without context.” Rabbi Freeman explained, with which their thought concluded “without an oral tradition, there’s no written Torah.” With a mind to our exchange about living documents, amateur exegetes, neither of us can allow the claim to slide that those “symbols on a scroll” aren’t themselves context builders. To write we have no idea of what an entire book of sentences means without an auxiliary oral tradition or commentary on the sentences cannot be accepted as accurate, in reality, to believe as does the rabbi, that would mean Jewish believers in orthodox Judaism might just need an auxiliary commentary of the auxiliary commentaries. Why not, aren’t there perplexities (even apparent contradictions) in the Talmud, for which believers need my commentaries, they’re just letters, content without context without something more.

        Rabbi Tzvi wrote something rather funny hereafter: “The Torah says to rest on the seventh day. I once met a man who told me that he tried to keep the Sabbath as written in the Torah, but it was too hard—by four in the afternoon he just had to get up out of bed!” They’re witty, humorous, nonetheless, they’re also making an argument, they’re insisting readers aren’t equipped by Torah books to reason things through. Yet, let’s open our copies of the Torah together (Exodus chapter twenty):

        “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labour and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth,the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”

        People can add further context to the above, they could explain by way of Genesis, or yet another portion of Exodus, nonetheless, people can’t write not having an exhaustive description of some command warrants their claim to an oral tradition, nor can they write how Scripture contains no meaning as just symbols. The omission or ignoring of Scriptural material in the fashion found above reminds me of Ray Bevan’s sermon style for Hillsong London, which I visited earlier in the month of January. They began by a joke, another funny one, they referenced Moses’ dashing of the ten commandment tablets, after which Ray said “We each break the ten commandments, but not all ten at the same time!” The idea of a man bumblingly attempting to commit adultery, while constructing an idol, while coveting their neighbour’s house, ass and ox just made for me to laugh (not appropriate). Ray, the rocker turned pastor (you’d “love” him), taught afterwards how Jesus, appearing again to Their disciples, asked Peter “Do you love me, mate?” their vernacular aside, pastor Ray said “Jesus didn’t remind Peter of their mistakes, they didn’t say ‘Hey, Peter. Remember when you denied me?’ No! Jesus asked simply, do you love me NOW?” And everybody (almost everybody) raises in applause.

        Rabbi Tzvi, Ray Bevan, I’m not holding them to a standard defined by a thing they don’t agree with, as in I’m not citing the book of Mormon so that they learn their lesson, instead, I’m simply bringing their words to their source of authority so that I’m able to judge the accuracy of their claims. During Ray’s very lecture, they claimed Jesus didn’t care about Peter’s sin, not their “mistake” or error, but their sin, yet, I didn’t even need to look up my references or anything of the sort, rather I knew directly from memory that what Ray said was so contrary to the material, so wrong, that it didn’t even require any extra homework. Pastor Bevan taught how Jesus cooked Their disciples “breakfast on the beach” and asked about love, having no interest in the past denial of Peter (That’s Ray’s point). Let’s read where they grabbed their claim from:

        Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee. It happened this way: Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

        Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” “No,” they answered. He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.

        Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.

        When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”

        “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”

        Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

        Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

        He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

        Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

        The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

        Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?”

        He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”

        Why would Christ’s words cause Peter “hurt”, because, according to the author, Christ asked “the third time.” Three times their rabbi asked “Do you love me?” That’s teaching something, for which, remaining in John’s Gospel, as that’s how best practise hermeneutics are done, let’s continue back into chapter thirteen, verse thirty-four, as Christ begins by teaching: ‘“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.” Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!”’

        “Three times!” Ray totally misappropriated John’s material to teach something unscriptural, even going so far as to contradict Jesus’ teaching, that’s not to write rabbi Freeman was in error so badly, however, their errors are cousins, they’re related. Both men have set Scripture in a corner, and nobody puts Scripture in the corner! (Just realized I’ve (mis)quoted Patrick Swayze).

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  2. Haha yes. And yes, there are many, many examples of multi-layered meaning. One interpretation doesn’t take away from another- only enhances it.
    Yes, that’s the basic idea. It’s the tradition that wasn’t able to be maintained orally under persecution. Hence being written down while Jews were in exile (and so a lot is written in Aramaic)
    That’s interesting! Haha thanks! No- I’m not a Karaite, nor do I have a Karaite background and yes it’s quite a different outlook. I’m not sure I could answer on the Karaite position as I’m not very familiar with it. Though I will say a little of what I know.
    Karaitism isn’t really about “going back to basics” as so much of Judaism is grounded in oral law. It really would be impossible to understand Judaism without the oral law- for instance there are places in the Torah when Moses is told things like “slaughter the animal like I have shown you”. Without the oral law this would be a completely meaningless statement. The Scripture and the stories of the Old Testament are only the starting point for Jews. I asked my brother how to explain it and he said “the Torah is the body and the oral law is the soul”.
    Furthermore, there is a long standing tradition in Judaism of debating and discussing the laws as laid down in the text. No one is quite in agreement of how best to practice the religion. And no Jew truly believes that they have all the answers (hence all the debate). But one thing I can clarify- Jews believe that everyone has their own purpose in life, and you don’t have to be Jewish in order to achieve it. Tzvi’s remark is less about elevating some priestly class, and more a light-hearted way of addressing the concerns of the people likely to be reading this (aka Jews who are disillusioned by the concept of Rabbinic Law)- and as he said immediately after that questions are encouraged. No one is supposed to take everything they hear literally or unchallenged. He is actually defending the concept of freethought and debate- which is so central to Judaism and is rooted in the idea of oral law.
    Also to clarify, Jews don’t believe that everyone has to be Jewish in order to fulfil their purpose on Earth- it’s actually easier to not be Jewish and get into heaven according to the Jewish tradition, cos you don’t have to keep all the Jewish laws, just the Noachide ones.
    I’m afraid that’s exactly what it means. A common example I would give is the Sacrifice of Isaac which for some reason I find misinterpreted everywhere. To take it merely at face value it is a test of God’s faith of Abraham. But that is merely the starting point- one of the principle messages of the story is that at the time child (or adult, as if you do the calculations correctly, you’ll find Isaac is 37) sacrifice was commonplace, and this story is an elaborate way of symbolising that *human sacrifice is not okay*. (This is bizarrely taken to mean the opposite by atheists today who use this story as evidence of a bloodthirsty god). Anyway, sorry for being long winded there, hope that clarifies things a little. The context in that case could be unravelled quite easily by a little interrogation of the text- without the help of a teacher- because it is basic literary interpretation. Even for books like the Iliad, you can’t just take things at face value- to give an example there, there is a story in book 1 about Theristes- who challenges Agamemnon and is beaten for it. On face value, this would seem unfair, as he only did the exact same thing as Achilles, so a modern reader might see this as an example of Homer pointing out the injustices of a society. However, that interpretation would be incorrect, as in reality, it points out Theristes was low born unlike Achilles, so the message is instead that he should have known his place. Context is important- try reading Roman Satire without it- I can tell you from experience you have to study a lot of background material in order to get a single joke.
    It’s less about ignoring Scripture and more about understanding it fully. And it’s certainly not to say there’s no meaning in the Scripture- just that it does need to be extrapolated further. The example you gave of the verse on the Sabbath is actually a really good example- because a single word in that- “sanctify”- actually opens up a debate. Because what in actuality doesy that mean- it does not specify in any way how you would go about doing that. And nor does it tell you what would constitute “work”- hence the 39 laws (known as melachot) to explain this. And hence his joke about the man assuming not working means lying down all day. I hope that clarifies things a little.
    I respect the very different traditions of Christianity, which are more Scripturally based- however Freeman was not wrong in that what he was arguing is the foundation of Judaism and the Judaic tradition.
    (Also for the sake of clarity Karaites diverged from Judaism around the 1st-2nd centuries BCE- so this divergence is not new)
    (And sorry- I think this will come up as a new comment I think)

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    • To begin my reply, I’d like to write just so long as you enjoy writing as much as I enjoy reading and replying, please be as long winded as you’d like. Besides, my replies aren’t shrinking violets, and I’ve always believed people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. 🙂 I realize replying might be rather taxing, I’ve just happened upon a lot of free time too (beware internet infidels). I’ll wait if replies are delayed, or even stopped altogether, as we’re often so busy.

      The discovery of multi layered fulfilment/meaning would only be a “discovery” so long as our exegetical footwork serves to illuminate something intended in the material by her original author, otherwise, wouldn’t a reader’s attempt at finding things in the text or deriving poetic observation just be an exercise in inventiveness? “Read between the lines” can only be valid if between the lines there’s something which the original author would want read. An example of my point, and yours, can be found in an Islamic injunction, one which reads: “if any one slew a person … it would be as if he slew the whole humanity: and if any one saved a person, it would be as if he saved the whole humanity”.

      “Just a second !” My friends educated in Talmud might interrupt, “To get at the original author’s meaning to that quote, you might wanna set down your Qur’an, then pick up my Talmud!”

      Of course, no amount of commentary, however entertaining and skilful, would do me such good as reading an original context as provided by he who authored the quotation. Many Muslim believers, and non Muslims who are eager to come to the defence of Muslims/Islam use the “if any one slew a person” verse not merely without a greater literary context, rather they neglect an immediate context. Firstly, they omit words sandwiched right in the middle of the Qur’an quote, which read “unless it be in retaliation for murder or for spreading mischief in the land” (mischief to mean religion other than Islam, uncovered hair, rebuilding your church after it’s destroyed, etcetera). Secondly, readers sympathetic to Islam/Muslim believers ignore how such an Islamic injunction isn’t upon Muslims but rather Jews. The entire quote reads “We ordained for the Children of Israel that if anyone slew a person – unless it be in retaliation for murder or for spreading mischief in the land – it would be as if he slew all mankind: and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all humanity.”

      Thirdly (again omitted by readers who repost in defence of Islam), however uncomfortable, to read on and handle the material responsibly, would have meant adding the words immediately thereafter, which in my Qur’an reads “The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger, and strive with might and make for mischief through the land is: execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land: that is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the Hereafter; Except for those who repent before they fall into your power: in that case, know that Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.” Qur’an 5:33-34

      Western liberals and Muslims aren’t only misguided in that they’ve misrepresented Talmud tradition as an original of Qur’anic origin, rather by misquoting and wrongly contextualizing they have by their error misrepresented BOTH Talmud and Qur’an narratives. They’re exhausting ideas of Muslim humanitarianism, when in reality no such ideas had been intended. Is this ever a danger in the Talmud?

      God is described as the “author” of the Bible not simply on account of having been quoted, instead He authored Scripture in that by Their wisdom He superintended revelation. How else could an immaterial, transcendent, perfectly just judge make Himself known without overawing humanity so that they might trust in Him, by revealing Himself through righteous believers and Scripture. The original writers and codifiers of the Qur’an also made an error in that they included “We ordained for the Children of Israel” before the above Qur’anic quotation, which makes their borrowed Talmud quote as if it’s from Allah (“We”, “Our”, Allah’s always referred to in the third person). Studied believers would reply “Aha! You quote from sages and rabbis as if they’re God.” Would their complaint stand in the eyes of a believers in Orthodox Judaism? Does Talmud material have a “thus sayeth the Lord” structure, predictive prophecy and other telltale signs of having been superintended by God? Or are you and I describing an oral commentary about God’s words by later sages? One albeit rich in creativity, insight and even some tradition. For example, Talmud material concerning Christ, as people have noted, isn’t accurate. The authors ascribe two modes of death to Jesus, the second of which is inaccurate according to Christian and secular sources, in addition to misplacing Jesus’ famous entry into Jerusalem, which, I’d have to argue bluntly, was done to absolve guilt/possible blame. Not necessarily blame with regards to a judicial murder (in Christian viewpoint), rather guilt/blame concerning the illegality of conducting a trial for life by night. Moreover, Rome by Pilate had (so say our earliest sources) already made an effort to distance their hand from the entire affair. My copy of “Who moved the stone” might be useful.

      “That Pilate had come down to the audience chamber intending formally to ratify the Jewish sentence seems to me certain. Before the deputation arrived, however, something happened which caused him to change his mind. But not only so. Psychological states have the peculiarity when suddenly challenged of swinging to their opposite extremes, and Pilate throughout his dealings with the Jews on this particular morning seems to have had one concern only – to shift responsibility for the affair to others. This fact is ineradicable from the pages of the narrative.

      We find it in his initial attempt to get the Jews to carry out their own sentence. We find it in the thrice proclaimed public acquittal of the prisoner; we find it in the remission to Herod; we find it supremely in that tense moment, when, unable any longer to make himself heard above the tumult, he washed his hands as a sign that he would have no part or lot in it. So in a member of Pilate’s own household we discover the fourth factor in the psychological parallelogram of personal forces which brought about the death of Christ. The influence of Jesus upon the women of His day was profound, and of surpassing interest.” (Who moved the stone p. 59).

      Frank Morison’s final observation was to do with Matthew chapter twenty seven, within which Pilate’s wife sends word how she’d “suffered a great deal today in a dream” over Jesus, so much so she wrote: “Don’t have anything to do with that just man.” Their material, which I’d have to write I disagree with on certain points, works with logic, argumentation and relevant sources, often giving an open air hearing to opinions of the contrary. Almost like a Talmud without claim to ancientness. I wouldn’t consider it a thus says the Lord book however.

      You’re very right in that, as rabbi Freeman explained, to sacrifice an animal “just as” or “like how” God commanded wouldn’t be of use to you and I. Especially so if A). No context can be found within Scripture to help. Yet, in the case of Sabbath, not in total, but in contradiction to rabbi Freeman and their joke about when to rest, Scripture remains perfectly clear (debate about other terms aside). And B). There wasn’t any alternative purpose for God’s injunctions about sacrifice. Yet, is it fair to write there’s no meaning for us today in spite of not knowing practises down to the letter? For clarification, God’s revelation to do with Their desire for sacrifice, without an oral tradition, isn’t meaningless, right? “slaughter the animal like I have shown you” only might appear without meaning because “like I have shown” received a microscope, whereas God’s statement, which above anything else stresses value in sacrifice, goes into our secondary concerns. My question can only be does God’s word of “slaughter the animal like I have shown you” lose meaning without the second temple? I’d write no way. God’s command doesn’t faint or lose meaning upon our lack of temples, auxiliary tradition or priesthoods. To believe and understand God’s word, which contains timeless allusions to Their divine prerogatives, could be done even in spite of an absent institution, context in the minutia or equipment, to write we couldn’t believe or understand doesn’t appear fair to conclude. Their word wouldn’t be without meaning just so long as they served a function, once for ancient Jewish believers, and yet another for people today. That purpose being to stress the importance of sacrificial substation, restoration by the shedding of blood.

      You shared how rabbi Freeman may have been intending their words to be read by Jewish believers in Orthodox Judaism, those who have become disillusioned, and I agree, though I’m also curious, where do you feel those disillusionments come from? I know, more so from study than anything else, that many Jewish people aren’t believers in God’s promises to Abraham. Where does their dissatisfaction come from?

      Isn’t agreeing to disagree, or simply to be in a state of double speak/debate, always very expedient? I don’t write that from study, but experience. I understand, historically writing, how Jewish believers in Judaism, often had to agree to disagree, or reply “All good answers!” Much of the time this reply was made under the threat of violence from the “Christian” authorities. I appreciate their once dire situation as much as a distant non Jewish viewer down the corridors of history can. However, isn’t debate often unproductive, and isn’t conversation often unproductive, just so long as people have come to the conclusion which drives debate for debates sake or sharing narratives simply so to hear narratives. How often I’ve spoken to people who offer one reply, a reply I quickly show in error, to which they then fire back “We could do this all day!” or “Nobody has the answer!” Believers in the soul of the Torah, as it’s been described, might entertain debate, yet entertainment would be just how it is if it contradicts the Talmud (Correct?). When the Torah appears to contradict the Talmud, isn’t the latter judge over the former? I appreciate “free thought” (not the leftist variety) and debate in the spirit of understanding and/or teaching, not however so to conclude as I began. People who I have met who truly think free conclude that contradictions correspond to reality, or nobody can know God. Yet, Moses spoke to God as does two friends, Abraham even washed God’s feet and ate with Him. Which of the two does the oral tradition practise in general? My experience from Talmud studies lead to me finding a story of two men falling down a chimney, and as interesting and witty as these stories are, they’re not prophetic, they’re not read like how we read from Moses in Exodus. Have you read the Talmud? (I know that’s a lot to ask considering its massive size).

      Id imagine it’s far easier in Judaic thought for certain sorts of non Jew to get into heaven, although, isn’t it true to write nobody, no matter their ancestry, can keep the law?

      Years ago I had a sneaking suspicion Isaac was far older than people gave credit when reading in Genesis 22: “Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac,” (how dare you make your baby child carry an alter of wood!).

      Wouldn’t it also be fair to write Isaac was Abraham’s child of promise. Their gift from God and who would receive great things, due to which Abraham couldn’t doubt Their promises. Opening my copy of Hebrews, chapter eleven:
      *******
      ‘All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

      By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.”’
      *********
      Abraham even answered Isaac’s question of “where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” by saying “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” Later we read of Abraham sacrificing “a ram” caught in the ticket, of course, it’s the Christian contention that God did provide that spotless lamb. If you knew where they were readily available, I’d love to read the rabbis’ commentaries on certain verses like the above.

      Concerning merely human sacrifices, just jump with me to Jeremiah: “They built high places for Baal in the Valley of Ben Hinnom to sacrifice their sons and daughters to Molek, though I never commanded—nor did it enter my mind—that they should do such a detestable thing and so make Judah sin.” God teaches “it never entered my mind” or Their intention, to have such painful practices carried out.

      Insofar as reading Roman satire and context goes, I actually read Dante’s inferno without any background knowledge of either history or religion (such a wasted effort!). I can’t imagine how amazing it would read to a more knowledgeable person. Every other word I was like “Who’s this guy? Why do they hate each other?” #simpleton#

      Lastly, with regards to the origins of the Karaites, surely to be enslaved by a lie is the worst kind of slavery. Meaning either Karaites predate the central claims to authority which uphold oral tradition, or oral tradition (and thus Orthodox Judaism) predated and birthed the Karaite movement. I’d like to accept at face value your point about Karaites coming about in or around 1st-2nd centuries BCE, however, I’d also like to ask how you’ve come to the conclusion that what went into the Talmud predated their arrival. From my studies, in spite of a possibility of many aspects of oral traditions existing before 200 AD/300 AD, in fact, you can read vestiges of such in the Gospel of Mark, I’m unsure how to go about proving the assumption of super ancient historical origins. Can people show definitively how the Talmud existed long before being codified?

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      • Awesome 🙂 same goes for me 🙂
        Yes that’s very true- and I was aware of that strange defence of the Quran before and knew that it was a Jewish idea that was plagiarised from the Mishnah (except, as you said, in the Mishnah it doesn’t give permission to kill people who are “corrupting the world” (rather a broad term).
        As a Christian, I think you probably know the answer to that question- there isn’t justification in the Old Testament for killing enemies in the same manner it is given in the Quran- and the Talmud does not justify violence that is not in self-defence. The wars in the Old Testament are historic and the instructions that remain are about non-offensive war (ie only war in self-defence) and humanitarian tactics and laws of engagement (ie no wanton vandalism and minimisation of violence). If anything the oral law softens what is in the Old Testament.
        No the Gemara and the Mishnah does not have that structure. The Mishnah seems to be compiled of a lot of pithy statements (much like the one you read, and includes other ideas such as “Who is rich? He who is happy with what he has”) and Gemarah (which is a complex discussion of law- including marital, festivals, dietary laws) has a structure of debate, so it’s a lot of “Reb Hillel said….” But “Reb Shammai said…”. Ultimately, the people that wrote it are fallible and that’s why debate is ongoing. Of course one would argue over what a particular rabbi said in the same way any academic would argue over what a scholar or scientist said, but that is not in any way the same as saying “so-and-so said it therefore it’s true”.
        To clarify, that verse doesn’t refer to slaughter of an animal just for sacrifice, but in general- ie the laws of shechita (slaughtering an animal humanely)- but there are no instructions in the Torah directly about this. So it doesn’t lose its meaning, but rather provokes the question “how?” All of these are designed to make you ask questions- you won’t just get the answer from the text alone. So there is still no answer from the Torah directly about what constitutes work on the Sabbath, how you make a day holy, what are the logistics of slaughtering an animal etc. You’re a hundred percent right that the meaning- in the sense of the weight behind it- is not lost, but the practicalities are.
        Haha I’m going to be blunt- a lot of Jews would like Orthodox rabbis to support them driving their cars on Saturdays 😉 (I kid you not- I had a discussion about this with someone recently, to which my response was “you know if you want to drive your car, no one cares, do what you want)
        Haha that’s true- but “all good answers” doesn’t just mean “agree to disagree” it can be “you’re both right”- for instance I mentioned Shammai and Hillel earlier- who make up a substantial amount of debate in the Gemarah- however we tend to use Hillel’s answers as the more practical, because they are more lenient- whereas Shammai is often seen as too exacting. As I said, this is more about practicalities- there’s no sudden contradiction in the oral law that says “oh and by the way you can worship idols now”
        Yes, but the difference being free debate for the sake of it (as is the case in a lot of Universities where moral relativism is the prevailing feature and pointless discussions abound) the discussion is always for a purpose and for the sake of finding the truth (of which Jews believe exists- primarily in the existence of one god). And it’s not like the law of the Torah is overturned by oral law, it’s more like an addition. Haha my knowledge of Mishnah and Gemarah is very limited- it’s hundreds of books and I have barely touched the surface- my education was more restricted to the Tenach (the 5 books of the torah and the nach)
        Do you mean that no one can keep the Noachide laws? They’re pretty basic: I believe the idea is more that everyone can keep them.
        Yes it’s true as well. As I said, it’s more of a “both interpretations are right” than “agree to disagree”. It’s about additional levels of meaning. And if you are interested in commentaries- the most accessible (and arguably most important) is Rashi.
        Haha Dante’s inferno is a lot later- I was referring more to poets like Horace (1st Century BCE). I’d probably know very little about Dante’s world too 😉
        Sure, that’s actually a really interesting subject, because of where the evidence comes from. So for instance, the proof of oral law can be traced to things like archaeology in discoveries of ancient phylacteries, which resemble modern day ones in their similarity. And also I would say in the practices and customs of Ethiopian Jews, who are one of the lost tribes of Israel, as they lived in Israel rather than Judea, which was conquered earlier than the Babylonian exile, and *crucially* separated from the rest of Jewish tradition before the oral law was written down. What is strange and surprising is that while they don’t celebrate the festivals that were introduced later (like Chanukah and Purim) their practices are actually much the same.

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      • Well, surely even our conversation online, having been so measured, informed and considered upon both sides, would be an absolute offence to an early Muslim writer, total corruption AND mischief making in the land. You especially have been a very poor Muslim, you’ve shared several messages without threatening my life, insulting my views or proclaiming a painful chastisement in either this life or the next! (shame on you).

        To briefly clarify, by “super ancient”, in addition to “either Karaites predate the central claims to authority which uphold oral tradition”, my previous message isn’t wanting that an orthodox Jew share third century or even first century evidence, although if that’s our finest evidence for Sinaitic origins that’s alright. Also my purpose in asking for evidence of super ancient historicity wouldn’t be satisfied by ongoing traditions which have survived from previous generations until present day Jewish practises. An example of something awesome would be in our discovery of the great Isaiah manuscript, which removed by over 1000 years from our nearest other Isaiah manuscripts showed 99% preservation of the wordage (only varying in notions such as whether they spelt light as “light or “lite”). Po-ta-to, po-tat-o. That’s “definitive” proof of a culture in which textual preservation was prided, in my opinion. Jewish scriptural preservation practises had been vindicated.

        However, as in the case of the great Isaiah document, our earliest evidence for phylacteries (also found in the region of the Qumran caverns), which you appear to have mentioned as proof of a super ancient oral tradition, wouldn’t punt so far back as people might want. That’s especially unfortunate considering how hardware, as in stones, jars, boxes, phylacteries, are far more likely to predate papyrus fragments as in the case of the book of Isaiah. Yet, they haven’t. Phylacteries, which are from my brief study leather boxes within which portions of Scriptures and Talmud are included, can be dated by twenty five leather “tefillin castings” found in the Qumran region, and had been used in the first century. Phylacteries of the first century can’t be so easily punted into the era of Ezra, not to mention pushed back into Moses’ 1200BC (over one thousand years prior). Believers in the authority of the oral tradition present for my reading four verses from the Torah in defence of their tradition accurately having been preserved from Moses’ mount Sinai covenant, and they are Exodus 13:9, Exodus 13:16, Deuteronomy 6:8, Deuteronomy 11:18. Even rabbi Freeman used an argument of the same sort when they wrote: “The Torah says that “these words should be totafot between your eyes.” What on earth are totafot? Where is “between your eyes”? When do you wear them, and how?”

        Rabbi Freeman appears to be writing our Talmudic traditions are accurately (not anachronistically) drawing from the Torah verses in the above, and in the days of Moses he himself wore some kind of an item between their eyes, by my first impressions however, we’re not in the material reading some kind of command, but an idiom, an expression. An example of the material which Freeman and others are attempting to use to drive back the date in which phylacteries had been introduced to Israel would be Exodus the thirteenth chapter: “This observance will be for you like a sign on your hand and a reminder on your forehead that this law of the Lord is to be on your lips. For the Lord brought you out of Egypt with his mighty hand. You must keep this ordinance at the appointed time year after year.” Almost instantly I’m struck by how “forehead” and “hand” (whereon phylacteries are displayed) is straight away followed by “this law” of the Lord upon “lips” of the faithful believers. “The law of the Lord upon one’s lips” clearly isn’t to be understood as having Torah literally set upon one’s mouth, and yet, rabbis in the second Temple period had committed the portion proceeding this clear metaphor into physical practise (wearing leather boxes upon the hand and head). In my experience, people make general rules based not upon unclear verses, but rather clear ones, and the above, appearing in merely four places, doesn’t appear to have caused phylacteries in most Jewish communities, and certainly doesn’t strike most as a material oriented injunction. In fact, from another article in which we’re given fuller an explanation, the author writes how to describe God’s revelation figuratively as upon one’s forehead, arm, neck or throat, as if fine jewellery, wasn’t uncommon in the Torah.

        “Listen my son to the teaching of your father and do not abandon the Torah of your mother; because it is a beautiful wreath for your head and a necklace upon your throat” (Prv 1,8-9)

        “Do net let truth and righteousness leave you; tie them upon your throat, write them upon the tablet of your heart.” (Prv 3,3)

        “Keep my son the Mitzvot of your father and do not abandon the Torah of your mother; Tie them upon you heart always, don them upon your throat” (Prv 6,20-21)

        Writers continued by explaining even Rashi’s grandson interoperated rabbi Freeman’s Torah quotes as metaphor, which in reality teach how Torah books are to be treasured in the way in which other people value jewellery (as we’ve touched upon they’re debaters!). Unsurprisingly Karaites also read as figurative the material which rabbi Freeman reads as literal, with which, they might present Hellenist-Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria (circa 25BC to 50AD) for our appraisal:

        “The law says it is proper to lay up justice in one’s heart, and to fasten it as a sign upon one’s head, and as frontlets before one’s eyes, figuratively intimating by the former expression that one ought to commit the precepts of justice, not to one’s ears, which are not trustworthy, for there is no credit due to the ears, but that most important and dominant part, stamping and impressing them on the most excellent of all offerings, a well approved seal; and by the second expression, that is is necessary not only to form proper conceptions of what is right, but also to do what one has decided upon without delay. For the hand is the symbol of actions, to which Moses here commands the people to attach and fasten justice, saying that it shall be a sign, of what indeed he has not expressly stated, because it is not a sign as I conceive of one particular thing, but of many, and I may also say, of everything with which the life of man is concerned. And by the third expression, he implies that justice is discerned everywhere as being close to the eyes.

        Moreover he says that these things must have a certain motion; not one that shall be light and unsteady, but such as by its agitation may rouse the sight of the spectacle manifest before it; for motion is calculated to attract the sight, inasmuch as it excites and rouses it; of, I might rather say inasmuch as it renders the eyes awake and sleepless. Moreover, he ordains that those who have written out these things should afterwards affix them to every house belonging to a friend, and to the gates which are in their walls; that all people, whether coming in or going out, whether citizens or strangers, reading the writing thus fixed on pillars before the gates, may have an unceasing recollection of all that ought to be said or that ought to be done; and that every one may take care neither to do nor to suffer injury; and that all persons, whether going into their houses or going out of them, men and women, children and servants, may do all that is proper and becoming to one another and to themselves.”

        Rabbi Freedman and others imagine an “eyes and arm” idiom to be literal by use of Deuteronomy, however, after reading one of the four verses which are used (Deuteronomy chap 6), alongside of Philo of Alexandria’s material, the context makes perfect sense: “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” Rabbi Freedman also uses Numbers chapter eleven and Deuteronomy chapter seventeen so to prove, to their satisfaction, how an oral Torah had been spoken by some seventy elders, which again, like in the use of the four verses, I’m straining to see in the text (straining at a gnat so that I might swallow the camel).

        Philo reaffirms figurativeness to the hands/forehead idiom, whereas literality to the houses, gates and doorpost quotation appears to have been supposed (like how Deuteronomy reads), Josephus however (circa 37 CE to 100 CE) appears to presuppose an actual physical practise, which would be in harmony with the physical remains found in the Qumran region. How much further into history past orthodox believers could inch an oral tradition appears to be settled, insofar as phylacteries are concerned. You’re very right in that whoever spoke certain portions of the Talmud weren’t infallible, with which they made or allowed for faulty info about rabbi Yeshua into their narrative, although, you’ve not touched on my observation. You’re worried about offending me? 😉

        The most uncontroversial of these Talmud traditions reads: “It was taught: On the day before the Passover they hanged Jesus (mode of death one). A herald went before him for forty days (proclaiming), “He will be stoned (possible mode of death two), because he practised magic and enticed Israel to go astray. Let anyone who knows anything in his favour come forward and plead for him.” But nothing was found in his favour, and they hanged him on the day before the Passover. (b. Sanhedrin 43a)

        Despite our talk of Talmud narratives often being of the back and forth variety, which undoubtedly they are, there’s no alternative viewpoint insofar as rabbinic verdicts of Yeshua would be concerned, correct? Would the above and subsequent opinions formed about Jesus be an example of Talmudic fallibility? The material certainly isn’t accurate, for which fallibility isn’t my problem, however, claims to super ancient historicity wouldn’t be discomforted by the above either, in fact, if I were an orthodox rabbi, I’d reply “My ancestors not having flawless recall with regards to dates, or certain details, that doesn’t disprove our oral tradition having been first began upon mount Sinai. Obviously we’re involved in an ever evolving situation, for which much of the material doesn’t reach so far back as Moses.” Nevertheless, from the articles I’ve read about tefillin, accuracy would be an underlining issue there too, one commentator studying from out of Jerusalem remarked “If tomorrow, archaeologists discovered a bag containing a set of talit and tefillin with Joshua bin Nun’s name stitched on the cover, I’d be pleased, in fact I’d be ecstatic.” Adding furthermore “[however] do I believe that Moses, Joshua, King David, etc. wore tefillin?” Their conclusion, “no.” Their reply doesn’t appear inaccurate, in spite of first century practises. If I can drive the material back to around the first century AD, that would mean the claim to an authoritative oral tradition comes around about 1200 years too late.

        Of course that’s why this conversation can be so insightful, because, as in the case of Isaiah, we’re on to an awesomely accurate, supernaturally preserved, authoritative tradition, one written, whereas, an oral tradition could be brought into question as some sort of a canard. Perplexities in the written Scriptures don’t grant an oral Torah an authoritative history so far back as Moses, nor would ancient artefacts which corresponded to an injunction in the written Torah prove an oral tradition went back any further than our best testimony explained (which they appear not to do). Rather what would be proved is that an oral tradition drew from more ancient a source in formulating their practices or form of dress. Could there perhaps be something more substantial? I’m also curious, have you had an opportunity (or even an interest) in watching my recent upload of Dr. Brown and rabbi Singer’s conversation? I’d enjoy your views on the dialogue.

        Shammai would be considered exacting? Well, in the story they did chase that poor gentile away with a broom, I’m imagining a broom involved. Moreover, how can you write ‘there’s no sudden contradiction in the oral law that says “oh and by the way you can worship idols now”’ when you haven’t read your one billion word long tradition?! Very bad student #lame gotcha moment#

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      • Many thanks to you too, you’ve inspired me to reply less to the angry and belligerent people I often am tempted to poke with a stick online. 😉 Our conversation has been very rewarding (still have to research your point with regards to an Ethiopian tribe also). I’ve listened to a lot of videos and debates from “the (black) Hebrew Israelites”, very angry, young militant men who try to steal (the only fitting word) Israel’s history. Oh gosh….you’re not one are you?! Quick, where was the original land of Israel located (if the reply is Africa I’m gotta start blocking people). Due to which when I read about a lost Ethiopian tribe my first thoughts were no way, there’s gotta be something in the small print. Still, you’ve made really good points thus far. I’ll look forward to replies in the future.

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      • Oh thank you too- it was nice to have a civil discussion 🙂 Huh I’d never heard of that group before- had to look it up- the Ethiopian tribe is something completely different. haha no I have old school ashkenazi and sephardi heritage. And, since you asked, Israel is located in Israel- specifically historic Judea- and Palestine is just the Greek word for Israel 😉

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    • Thank you for contributing, Anna. It’s a sad mess when people on the left are so twisted as to defend every kind of abuse of people under the sun, from murdering their children in the womb to using and abusing the kids they do have.

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