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Basics of Emunah #7: Can an Intelligent Person Believe the Oral Tradition is Divine?

How Judaism Developed Over the Ages

1 hr 22 min

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Basics of Emunah #7

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  • M

    Moshe -5 years ago

    There are few things in nature as beautiful as a field of fresh flowers in full bloom. The colors, the fragrance, etc., exquisite. Alive, growing, thriving.  

    That's  Torah true yiddishkeit. 
     
    But cutting those flowers  from their roots nd bringing them indoors  is more  convenient. They still  look and smell good. They look alive, but they're  dying from the moment they're  cut. 
    That's  conservative Judaism. 
    Then there are dried flowers, potpourri.  They still have the DNA of flowers.  But  the smell and color are gone, they're all dried up. 
     
    That's reform.

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  • Y

    Yisroel -6 years ago

    Can an intelligent person believe the Oral Tradition is Divine?

    I heard you talk about, on more than one occasion, in your many classes that one of the proofs of Torah Shebaal Peh is that there are so many unclarified subjects in the written Torah that anyone can see that there must be an oral companion.

     This is clear.

     As an example to this, you often cite the posuk about tefilin והיו לזכרון בין עינך

    What does this mean?

    What should be placed “between the eyes”?

    Where, color, boxes?

    This proves that there had to have been an explanation given along the with the text.

    (I love the explanation that the text is in fact cliff-notes of the oral shiur that MR gave. I have used that explanation in my own shiurim here in Pasadean.)

     Here is my comment:

    While there are many good quotes from Torah Shebicsav to prove that the text is unfinished, this one about tefilin in particular is not a good one.

     A simple understanding can be that “these words which I command you today” you should remember them “vividly” (between the eyes).

    Just as when it says that they “shall be upon your heart” we understand them to mean “hold them dear and close, cherish them,” so too with reminder between your eyes.

     In fact, as you know, in the hakdama of tanya the AR uses this same expression, b’shinuy lashon (borrowed from the posuk) to mean just that.

     I’m not questioning the concept and point in general that you’re making about torah shebaak peh, and that the text points to an oral explanation in so many cases. My comment is only only with regards to the use of this particular posuk to prove the point. I think it is a poor choice and quite weak (if you would be in a debate with someone who isn’t preconditioned to think that this means black boxes and tefilin).

    I would like to hear what you think.

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    • Anonymous -6 years ago

      I do not agree.
      since it says a line before, "tie it on your hands," how can you say "between your eyes" is a parable?
      when you say to tie on your hand it means something has to be on your hand, so obviously the next words means you need to put something between your eyes!
      Plus, it says "totafos," it does not say "put these words between your eyes," it says a strange word "totafos." what does THAT mean? without the oral explanation, we are clueless. 

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    • RY

      Rabbi YY -6 years ago

      I do not agree.
      since it says a line before, "tie it on your hands," how can you say "between your eyes" is a parable?
      when you say to tie on your hand it means something has to be on your hand, so obviously the next words means you need to put something between your eyes!
      Plus, it says "totafos," it does not say "put these words between your eyes," it says a strange word "totafos." what does THAT mean? without the oral explanation, we are clueless. 

       

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      • Y

        Yisroel -6 years ago

        1. Tie it on your hands - good proof.
        2. "totafos" -- good proof
        3. לזכרון בין עינך not a good proof and it is that expression that the AR barrows in the hakdomo from Tanya.

         As to the point of how can you say that “tie it on your hand” is actual, and “reminder between your eyes” is allegorical, on the contrary, when reading the posuk simply, it is understood just so. For the hand it uses the “tie” or “bind” verb, while for the “between your eyes” it says “they should be” implying that it’s not something you should do, but rather more similar to “shall be upon your heart”. 

        And it does say, "and these words which I command you today...

        -       shall be upon your heart (i.e. take it to heart, seriously, meaningfully)

        -       teach them to your children (c’pshuto)

        -       speak of them when you sit at home, walk on the road, lie down, and get up (i.e. make it your conversation all the time)

        -       bind them as a sign on your hand (good proof, but can also be understood, but as a stretch, to mean "practically")

        -       place them as "totafos" or "zicaron" between your eyes. (totafos needs explaining, good proof, zicaron can be understood "vividly")

         On a very simple level the entire parsha can be explained literally without oral commentary.

        All this, is if you take a step back and read the paragraph making as if you never heard or studied it before. It would be an interesting experiment if you can ask someone who’s never seed the parsha, and has never heard of any of the mitzvos, to read it objectively. Take such as survey. You might be surprised by the results.

         My point was only the "reminder between your eyes" should not be the main proof since it can be (and is) used to mean vividly, always in front of you

        Take a look at the Rashbam, who is a pashtan (arguably more than Rashi). לפי עומק פשוטו, יהי' לך לזכרון תמיד כאילו כתוב על ידך. ...

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  • Y

    Yakov -8 years ago

    It is a very far-fetched Doichek to say that the Gemoro already knew of the unsettled controversy regarding the order of the Parshios. Because 3 lines after the Gemoro says the order of the Parshios, the Gemoro states that if one changes the order and puts an outside Parsha inside, (which is exactly the Machlokes between Rashi & R"T) the Tefilin are posul. How could the Gemoro ignore the this controversy when its Mammash Posul.
    The Gemoro definitely did not envision that this might ever be a problem. The question only started in the times of Tosfos. The fact that the Zohar mentions this controversy is just another clear proof that the Zohar was actually written after the days of Rashi.
    I would concur with the commenter, that in the days of Tosfos there were no Teflin around. Just see the wording of Tosfos; he talks about this subject as something abstract, as if it would be an Avoide in the Bais Hamikdosh.

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  • T

    Tuvia -8 years ago

    Regarding the Machlokes of the Rabeinu Taam Tefilin, It is clear that this Machlokes did not exist in the time of the Gemoroh. Because their Machlokes is based on an argument, "What exactly did the Gemoro mean with those specific words". That mans that the Gemoro had no question, and it also means that the Gemoro didn't even suspect that there might be an unresolved question one day.

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    • RYJ

      Rabbi YY Jacobson -8 years ago

      Then you have the question, how did the argument begin in the first place, when each generation of Jews put on Tefilin? Rashi could look at his father’s tefiln, and Rabanu Tam can look at his father’s tefilin, and so all the way back!

      Three great rabbis of the last generation have suggested and I think proven that the argument goes back to the days of Moshe himself! See Shaalos Uteshuvos min Hashmayim ch. 3 and in the footnotes by Rabbi Reuven Margaleyos. Os Chaim V’sholim by the Munkatcher Rebbe Laws of Tefilin section 34. Torah Shlamah by Rabbi Kasher Milueim to Parshas Bo (vol. 12) section 44 and all of his references there.

      As far as your question: Rashi and Rabanu Tam are using the terminology of the Gemarah to prove their position. The Gemarah itself is discussing a different question, yet Rashi sees in the language employed by the Gemarah proof to his position, and the same with Rabanu Tam. This does not mean that the argument did not exist in Talmudic times. It may be that Abaye held like Rashi or Rabanu Tam, and others did not, or it can be that Abaye himself was unsure.

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      • T

        Tuvia -8 years ago

        "...It may be that Abaye held like Rashi or Rabanu Tam, and others did not, or it can be that Abaye himself was unsure...."
        Then how could Rashi bring a proof from the words of Abaye, when everybody knows that there are other Amoroim that disagree, and those are the basis of Rashi's baal Plukta ?
        If its a Machlokes since Moish Rabbeinu, why is it so important what Abaye held when Abaye was not even focusing on that.
        And if Abaye was himself unsure, how could you bring a proof from his wording, to be so sure about Rashi's Shita.
        It's not easy to say, but it seems like Toisfos clearly says in M Shabbos, that the Yidden in his times did not put on Tefillin because of Choileh Mayim (stomach problems). So, there weren't any Tefillin around.

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