Saturday, September 20, 2008

Was Rashi a Fool?????!!!!!!!!!

Early in my makeover process, before I fully verbalized my doubts to my family, I was having a conversation with my brother, and he said something that knocked me clear off my feet. I was just hinting at my inquiries, and he asked me "was Rashi a fool?" He wasn't screaming, he wasn't angry, he was just asking me in genuine interest, if I thought all the brilliant Rabonim that we look up to, of the past three thousand years were wrong. But to me it was a roundhouse kick to the jaw, I was speechless!

For days all I could think about were those words, they reverberated in my head over and over again, "was Rashi a fool?" Maybe I was wrong after all, how could I be smarter than the Rishonim?! It wasn't a revolutionary concept, but the simplicity and starkness of the the question, made it seem like a huge hurdle.

I came to understand though, that the fact that Rashi and everybody else we see as giants, believed in what we now know to be superstition and fairy-tales, doesn't diminish their greatness. If a huge number of Americans, in the 21st century (!) can believe in the impending Rapture, how can we judge people hundreds and thousands of years ago for believing what they did. Science? Science Shmience! If the Pope can go to Africa and declare that condoms don't lower the chances of spreading AIDS/HIV, how can we not forgive people in the Bronze Age, for thinking thunder and lightening was a pissed-off, old man in the heavens.

But that begs the real question, the Pope or for that matter any thinking religious person, should see right through the hog-wash, is it all a huge conspiracy, or just willful ignorance.




16 comments:

David said...

That's exactly the kind of non-argument one gets so much of in frum Judaism. There's very little effort to bother with the merits of a particular proposition-- it's simpy right because Rashi (or someone like that) said it was right.

This kind of stuff drives me crazy. A proposition is true or false based on what it contains, not on who said it. We don't accept gravity because Newton was a gadol, we accept it because we can all prove that it works.

Elisha said...

If you like Apikorsut and bucking the authorarian religious power establishment, check out the new "I Hate Rav Bina" Blog at http://ihateravbina.blogspot.com. He is the Rosh Yeshiva at a yeshiva in Old City of Jerusalem where I studied, and I could not have had a worse educational/spiritual experience largely due to him and his influence. I've got plenty of material, so check the blog regularly.

The purpose of the blog is 1) to act as a forum for people who had terrible religious experiences in the year in Israel between high school and college; and 2) to caution kids going to Israel about the dangers of oversubscribing to religious authority.

If you went to Hakotel/Netiv Aryeh and you have similar feelings, feel free to email me at elisha.moshe@gmail.com and I'd be happy to consider adding you as a co-blogger/guest blogger.

E-Man said...

I think the idea about Rashi being a fool is deeper than what David is implying. The whole "someone who is considered greater than you believes something so believe it" approach is not what is meant if you think about it. Rashi went through ALL of the Gemorah, ALL of Chumash, ALL of the Midrashim and so on. He knew everything there is to know about Judaism. That means he knew and understood ALL the different opinions.

Now, I understand if someone says you have to be this kind of orthodox Jew. You must believe abc and d, that in this situation one could be compelled to leave Judaism. The reason is that the person is saying believe what I believe or don't be Jewish. However, this person and you are both ignoring the fact that you don't know everything about Judaism. There may very well be dissenting opinions about the subject that turned you off of Judaism.

This is what should be pulled away from the idea of was Rashi a fool. He learned everything and was able to find a logical answer for everything. You are willing to leave Judaism without even researching 1/100 of what Rashi did. However, if you just think that you are either Jewish in one way and if that way doesn't work then you are going to leave then there is no comparison to yourself and Rashi. For, you no longer wanted to believe in G-D. Or am I wrong, did you research as much as Rashi and then decide to leave?

Shaya Getzel said...

E-man;
First of all, I wouldn't dare equate myself with Rashi. Secondly as I say here, Rashi was not privy to the understanding of science that we have the privilege of having today.
Lastly I did do research, I spoke to many "professionals" who tried to talk sense back into me, and prove how wrong I was. But all I got was the run around, nobody had anything I hadn't heard before, or anything compelling beyond "believe and you will see".

E-Man said...

So you think modern science is what contradicts Judaism? I think that whole believe and you will see is garbage also just btw.

Shaya Getzel said...

Uuuuhhh whaaa?

E-Man said...

I was asking if the reason you left Judaism was because you thought it was irreconcilable with Judaism. Then I made a point to say that the psychologists or Rabbis that told you to "believe in Judaism and then you will see the answers" is balony. We need something with answers not just fluff.

E-Man said...

It being science

Shaya Getzel said...

Judaism is completely irreconcilable with science, do we not agree on this?

E-Man said...

Nope, have you ever read the Ralbag or Rambam. They were very big into reconciling science with Judaism. I think the charaidi way of Judaism might be irreconcilable with science, but I don't think that is the only form of orthodox Judaism. There is centrist like YU. However, I can agree with you that I think the orthodox Juaism that you came from, chassidish, is irreconcilable withe science.

Shaya Getzel said...

The basic tenets of Judaism, wether Chassidish, YU, or any other form, all accept the existence of a supernatural being, who - to one extent or another - brought about this earth. No matter how much you twist the Torah into pretzels, (which is what the Rambam tried to do) it does not match what we know to be true, thanks to modern science.
If you don't agree with that, then you need to educate yourself about science, Darwinian evolution, the age of the universe, and so on...

E-Man said...

Your statements say that,basically, science can prove that there was no creator. This statement is not true. Scientists will tell you they can not disprove G-D at all. Evolution and the big bang do not disprove G-D in any way my friend. Evolution and the big bang both describe processes. If you believe in G-D you can also believe in the big bang and evolution.

Shaya Getzel said...

Your right we can't prove a negative, but science has made god at the very least redundant.

Anonymous said...

Science hasn't made G-d redundant - science really doesn't prove or disprove anything about G-d.

And whether or not OJ is right (Rashi included), has little bearing on whether G-d exists.

I don't think Rashi was a fool - but he did believe in the premise that G-d is the creator and the Torah is true. From that point on, he found logical or somewhat plausible conclusions to the problems. Whether he is right I don't know.

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Anonymous said...

I also had questions, and read a very good book, "Beyond a Reasonable Doubt" by Shmuel Waldman. Available in Jewish bookstores. Helped me tremendously.

Read it