[b-hebrew] Fwd: Re: YHWH

Yitzhak Sapir yitzhaksapir at gmail.com
Wed Jul 27 07:32:21 EDT 2005

Shoshanna Walker wrote:
> So you have missed the entire point of the Torah and YOU are the one
> who has not studied it, because it cannot be understood properly
> without the Oral Torah - which you admit you don't care about.

This all discussion began because you said that the different names of God
in the Bible are due to recognizing different attributes.  This is, essentially,
the ancient Rabbinic answer to the question, why are there multiple names
of God used in different accounts of the Torah.  It is quite clear that modern
Biblical analysis has proposed alternative answers, and these answers were
even hinted at by some of the great commentators including Rashi and Ibn

Nothing can be done to "prove" to you that the Torah or Bible or any 
specific manuscript or Onkelos or Rashi or the Mishna or the Talmud or 
the Declaration of Independence is not divine.  If you assume it is divine,
anything is possible.  God could have given his wisdom to Thomas 
Jefferson or God could have magically replaced the document that he 
wrote, or Thomas Jefferson could have found a paper magically inscribed
with the text.  We simply can't prove that the Declaration of Independence
is not divine, just like we can't prove that any specific text of the Bible or
"Oral Torah" or any text is not divine.  The divine is out of the realm of
scientific proof.

However, that also means that we can assume anything is divine, and,
that once assumed that one text is divine, we are severely limited in our
capability to analyze text.  What if one commentator is more divinely 
inspired than another, and yet his commentary on some verse is less
convincing than that less inspired commentary?  Say, Rashi vs. Malbim?
This should be something that is made clear to you because no matter
how much Jim West or Lisbeth Fried or anyone else on this forum might
logically argue that, for example, in many books of the Hebrew Bible,
God accepts the existence of other gods, you will never accept that. 
No matter
how logical or convincing their arguments are, you will always have the "Oral
Torah" that says this is not so (where does it say that, by the way?)  So it is
of no use to argue to you or logically prove to you that other gods' existence
is acknowledged.  In order for such an argument to be meaningful, you must
accept the basic proposition that a proof either way can be produced by 
reference to the verses alone.  We must be able to accept that one book
of the Bible acknowledges them and another does not.  And that perhaps
the Bible acknowledges and the Mishah or Talmud do not.  

If we want to get anywhere in analyzing the text, we must try to assume
nothing extraneous to the text.  Not that the text is divine.  Not that two
paragraphs are necessarily originally part of the same composed
document.  Not that the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy was written by 
Moses and inspired by God (which is something the Torah never says, by the 
way), nor that the Torah can only be properly understood with the aid of the 
Divine Oral Torah.

And don't for one moment think that you are the only person on this list
who is Jewish or is representative of Israel.  Biblical Israel has technically
been conquered since 720 BCE.  Any one else who took up its identity,
Judea, Essenes, Pharisees, Sadducees, Zealots, Christians, Muslims, 
etc. has done so only because of the grandeur that this kingdom had left 
upon its neighbors while it existed, with its palaces of ivory and powerful 
kings.  You are not anymore a representative of Israel than Jim West. But
even if "Jews" were, there are several other Jews on this list, so I suggest
you don't speak for all Jews.

There is one thing the Oral Torah does say, and something you should keep
in mind: Who is a Wise Person? The one who learns from any person
(Avoth 4:1)  It's in the Oral Torah, and even if it may not be divine,
it's always
a good idea.

Yitzhak Sapir

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