[b-hebrew] Language, migration and Jewish identity

K Randolph kwrandolph at gmail.com
Mon Nov 5 11:30:34 EST 2007


On 11/3/07, ג'ייסון הייר <jaihare at gmail.com> wrote:
> Karl:
> Thanks for your your response. However, I'm also hoping to get the
> bibliographical data for writings on both sides of the fence. I'm in the
> middle of an *annoying* debate (one in which my opponent is one of those who
> likes to throw out things that are debatable as if they are absolute and
> then say "prove me wrong!"). So, I am hoping for resources on both sides.

The problem in a "debate' like this is that there is no way to prove
or disprove either side. All that we have is written historical data
which he obviously rejects, speculation on the other side, and the
treatment of the speculation as true because it was done by
"scholars". Further, he is not putting all his cards on the table. I
doubt that a bibliography, even one that is quite extensive, would do
much to resolve the issue.

The reason I mentioned to question him when he thinks Torah was
written is to try to ascertain motive, make him say where he is coming
from. If he admits to an ideological source for his arguments, you can
then get out of the argument, pointing out that those who don't agree
with that ideology are not restricted by that ideology as to what they
may think. No amount of bibliography will convince an ideologically
based opponent. Then you can bow out, agree to disagree, showing that
there is no way he can win while not forcing a victory for your side,
because there is no way that you can win an ideological debate while
fighting on the battlefield of history.

I'm assuming that he is not making logical errors.

> Why do we allow ourselves to get into these situations? ;)
Because we are pedants who like to cross every t and dot every i.
Sometimes for reasons of brevity (after all, we are in a debate, not
writing a dissertation), we will simplify, possibly oversimplify,
where we expect others to recognize that we are simplifying what is
widely known to be a more complex picture. And in that simplification
others may attribute motives to our statements where none such exists.
But we tend to focus on the question directly, head on, not
recognizing that the solution may be found by coming at the question
from a different angle.

Then there are two debating techniques that I have learned on this
list, aside from learning more about Hebrew itself: the silent answer
and the indirect response. I am not a master of these yet, still
learning. The silent answer is to frame your last response such that
if you do not respond again, then your silence is in itself an answer.
That allows the other person to have the final word, but it is empty.
And the indirect response is where another person makes personal
attacks and along with them issues that deserve a reply, instead of
stooping down to the level of answering the message directly, look for
another message to respond to where the issues that deserve a response
may be addressed without demeaning yourself by replying to the
personal slights.

> Yours,
> Jason
I hope these help.

Yours, Karl W. Randolph.

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