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על דעת אמת - Impressions and Expressions of Ijon
July 30th, 2004
12:34 am

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על דעת אמת
כבר כמה שנים שקיימת פעילות מרתקת בשם "דעת אמת". מדובר בקונטרסים, מאמרים, ודיונים שמטרתם ניתוח ההלכה היהודית האורתודוקסית בכלים מדעיים והומניסטיים, ובמיוחד הוקעה של המסורות הרבניות והפרשניות במקום שהן סותרות את השכל הישר או את הידע המדעי.

הטקסטים כתובים בלשון שמיועדת לתלמידי ישיבות, ע"י בוגר(י) ישיבות, והם אתגר מענין ביותר לאברכים שמוכנים להקשיב. לדעתי, זה מפעל ברוך וחשוב, והוא מציל נפשות מחשכת הדת המאובנת.

היום גיליתי שיש אדם בשם דב שטיין שמנסח תשובות אורתודוקסיות לחומר של "דעת אמת". זה ממש מצוין בעיני: בעצם הויכוח הוא עושה שירות גדול לענין הרציונלי (ואולי שירות דב לקהילתו), ואני שמח על כך שאברך שסקרנותו התעוררה ושרוצה להכריע אם כך או כך יזכה לקרוא ניסוחים ענייניים משני הצדדים ולהחליט בעצמו.

ואם כבר בזה עסקינן, בעמותת הל"ל עושים מלאכת קודש ממש.


P.S. I'd love this entry to appear in English as well. Does anyone volunteer to translate it?

Current Mood: happy
Current Music: Philip Glass -- Metamorphosis One

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From:or_dromi
Date:July 30th, 2004 03:08 pm (UTC)

נשים חוזרות בשאלה

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ובאותו עניין, מה ידוע על שיעורן של נשים היוצאות לשאלה?
נדמה לי שאצלן העסק סבוך וכאוב פי כמה:
ראשית, הן מקבלות פחות השכלה ושנית, הן נחשפות פחות לעולם החופשי
ושלישית, נראה לי שאפילו מראש הן מקבלות חינוך דל יותר מינקותן.
(אין אני אומרת דברים אלו מתוך סטיגמה, אלא על סמך היכרות ממקור ראשון עם משפחות חרדיות.)
לכן, היציאה לשאלה בעבורן היא הרבה פעמים "לא אופציה"- משום שאינן מעלות אותה כלל על הדעת ולכן, לצערי, הן נדונות הרבה פעמים לחיים קשים מאוד מתוך בורותן שלהן (נישואין וילודה בכפייה, למשל).
אין להן מגן, אין שום עמותה או ארגון שדואג להסביר להן את זכויותיהן הבסיסיות והן נרמסות, לפיכך באופן בלתי נסבל!
סליחה, IJON, שכתבתי כ"כ הרבה...)

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From:atzmi
Date:July 30th, 2004 08:01 pm (UTC)

Re: נשים חוזרות בשאלה

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למעשה, לנשים שיוצאות בשאלה יש לפעמים יותר כלים "להסתדר" בעולם החילוני. הכוונה בעיקר לכך שיש להן הכשרה מקצועית כלשהי - הן אמורות הרי לפרנס, בעוד הבעל יושב בכולל ולומד גמרא מבוקר עד ערב. מצד שני, שומרים עליהן בשבע עיניים שלא יצליחו לצאת משם, הרבה יותר מאשר על הנערים - ולכן מעטות כל כך מצליחות לצאת בשאלה. כמובן שעבור רובן זו אכן "לא אופציה" כי מצליחים לסגור אותן לגמרי מהשפעות העולם החיצוני עד שהן נשואות, ואז כבר בהרבה מקרים מאוחר מדי.
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From:atzmi
Date:July 30th, 2004 08:34 pm (UTC)

English translation

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For quite some years, there exists an exciting initiative called "Daat Emet" ("Knowledge of the Truth"). It consists of essays and discussions whose purpose is analysing the Jewish Orthodox Halachaic law using scientific humanistic tools, and especially denouncing Rabbinical traditions and interpretations where they contradict common sense or scientific knowledge.

The texts are written in a language targeted at Yeshiva students, by Yeshiva graduates, and pose an extremely interesting challenge to Orthodox youths who are willing to listen. In my opinion, this is a worthy and important project, which saves souls from the darkness of the fossilized religion.

Today I discovered that there is a man named Dov Stein, who puts together the Orthodox responses to Daat Emet's material. I find this really excellent. In his mere arguing, he is making a great service for the rationalist cause (and perhaps a bad service for his community), and I'm please that an Orthodox youth whose curiousity was aroused, and who wants to decide whether this way or that, could read the to-the-point writings of both parties, and make his own mind.

And speaking of which, Hillel are actually doing holy work.

עד כאן התרגום.
חוץ מזה, כחבר בדעת אמת מזה 5 שנים, רציתי להוסיף שהארגון שלנו נתקל גם בקשיים מסויימים בהפצת החומר בקרב הציבור החרדי. לא ממש נותנים לנו לפרסם מודעות ב"יתד נאמן". לכן, יצא לי כבר כמה פעמים להסתובב בבני ברק באישון לילה ולהשאיר את הקונטרסים הנ"ל בתיבות דואר בבני ברק, ובעיקר להיכנס לישיבות ולהשאיר בהן קונטרסים ועלונים שלנו. לפני כשנה וחצי, נעצרו כמה מחבריי לארגון בגלל הפעולות האלה, וכעת מתנהל נגדם משפט פלילי באשמת "הסגת גבול לשם פגיעה ברגשות דת".

בעיה נוספת בפעילותה של דעת אמת היא היחס מצד הציבור החילוני, שחלק ניכר ממנו רואה בפעולותינו "פרובוקציה", ולא מבין מה יש לנו לחפש בבני-ברק, ולמה אנחנו מפריעים את שגרת חייהם של האנשים הצדיקים והתמימים האלה...
From:(Anonymous)
Date:September 15th, 2004 08:31 pm (UTC)

Re: English translation

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Daat Emet quotes what suites it and omits what doesn't. As an AntiReligion Religion its got its own version of science and history and its own picture of what it means by "Rabbis," "Religious," "Secular," "Apostates," "Zealots," "Heretics," "Idolaters," and "Halacha."
Yisrael Asper
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From:atzmi
Date:July 30th, 2004 09:28 pm (UTC)

עוד הערה

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פרט לתשובותיו של דב שטיין, יש גם תשובות של הרב סג"ל לקונטרסים של דעת אמת. לא תשובותיו של זה ולא של האחר מפגינות גישה "עניינית" במיוחד.
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From:themoniker
Date:July 30th, 2004 09:29 pm (UTC)

Translation

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[ my remarks are in square brackets; Note that word choice and even sentence structure were guided by my own laziness, rather than trying to emulate Ijon's zealous Hebrew).

For years there's been a fascinating activity called "Daat Emet" [Knowledge of the Truth or True Opinion, take your pic - dd]. It revolves around pamphlets, articles and discussions aimed at analyzing Jewish Halacha [religious law - dd] with scientific and humanist tools, and in particular skewering Rabbanical tradition and interpretation where it conflicts with common sense or scientific knowledge.

The texts are written in language aimed at Yeshiva students, by (a) Yeshiva graduate(s), and are a very interesting challenge for Evrachs [young Ultra orthodox men -dd] who are willing to listen. In my opinion, this is a welcome and important project, and it saves souls from the darkness of ossified religion.

Today I learned that a man named Dov Stein composes orthodox answers to the materials of "Daat Emet". This is really excellent in my view: In actually arguing he does a great service to the rational cause (and perhaps a disservice to his own community), and I am glad that an Everech whose curiosity is piqued and who would like to decide between the two positions will be able to read specific arguments from both sides and to decide for himself.

And if we're already discussing this issue, in the H"LL NPO does veritable holy work.
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From:themoniker
Date:July 30th, 2004 09:32 pm (UTC)

Sigh. Why do I bother.

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Start the message, take a break to catch a movie, and ...
From:(Anonymous)
Date:August 2nd, 2004 06:25 am (UTC)

Re: Sigh. Why do I bother.

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Daat Emet quotes what suites it and omits what doesn't. As an AntiReligion Religion its got its own version of science and history and its own picture of what it means by "Rabbis," "Religious," "Secular," "Apostates," "Zealots," "Heretics," "Idolaters," and "Halacha."

Below is an example of how he works: "http://www.daatemet.org.il/questions/index.cfm?MESSAGEID=1500
Answer: Publication date: 28-07-2004
Title: A prostitute who rules by analogy from minor to major while she is being bedded
Content: Dear Uriel,

It is very difficult to deal with a general complaint with no specifics or details. Therefore we will try to present you with "deep Talmudic issues" and try to explain to the readers just how deep they really are. The Gemara discusses whether a woman who has had sexual intercourse with an animal is forbidden to marry a kohen due to being a woman of loose morals. As proof of the permission for her to do so the Gemara brings an incident which once happened: "Once in Haitalu a young woman was sweeping the floor and a village dog came up to her from the rear and penetrated her. When the matter was brought to Rabbi Judah the Nasi, he permitted her to marry a kohen" (Yevamot 59b).
This is a story of a most doubtful incident, from which the sages extract practical halacha through sophistry.

Come see how our rabbis explain the name of the harlot wife of the prophet Hosea. "Gomer the daughter of Diblaim. Gomer for all would gomer [climax] within her, Diblaim, for all would thrash within her like a fig" (Pesachim 87a-b). This style of speech is that of reckless and empty people.
If this were not enough, here is a story that could embarrass any normal person: "It was said of Rabbi Eleazar the son of Dordia that he did not miss using any prostitute in the world. Once, on hearing that there was a certain prostitute in one of the towns by the sea who accepted a purse of denarii as payment, he took a purse of denarii and crossed seven rivers for her sake. While he was having sex with her, she broke wind and said: As this broken wind will not return to its place, so will Eleazar the son of Dordia never be received in repentance" (Avodah Zara 17a).

Think a little how you would react if they told stories about the head of your yeshiva, saying he had been with a prostitute who "had ruled such a strange analogy from minor to major while she was being bedded." How would you react?

Sincerely,

Daat Emet"

Yisrael Asper
From:(Anonymous)
Date:August 2nd, 2004 06:27 am (UTC)

Re: Sigh. Why do I bother.

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Daat Emet doesn't quote further that Rabbi Eleazar the son of Dordia was called Rabbi through his repentance and his former going with prostitutes was condemned. The actual text says:"It was said of R. Eleazar b. Dordia that he did not leave out any harlot in the world without coming to her. Once, on hearing that there was a certain harlot in one of the towns by the sea who accepted a purse of denarii for her hire, he took a purse of denarii and crossed seven rivers for her sake. As he was with her, she blew forth breath and said: As this blown breath will not return to its place, so will Eleazar b. Dordia never be received in repentance. He thereupon went, sat between two hills and mountains and exclaimed:

O, ye hills and mountains, plead for mercy for me! They replied: How shall we pray for thee? We stand in need of it ourselves, for it is said, For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed! So he exclaimed: Heaven and earth, plead ye for mercy for me! They, too, replied: How shall we pray for thee? We stand in need of it ourselves, for it is said, For the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment. He then exclaimed: Sun and moon, plead ye for mercy for me! But they also replied: How shall we pray for thee? We stand in need of it ourselves, for it is said, Then the moon shall be confounded and the sun ashamed. He exclaimed: Ye stars and constellations, plead ye for mercy for me! Said they: How shall we pray for thee? We stand in need of it ourselves, for it is said, And all the hosts of heaven shall moulder away. Said he: The matter then depends upon me alone! Having placed his head between his knees, he wept aloud until his soul departed. Then a bath-kol was heard proclaiming: 'Rabbi Eleazar b. Dordai is destined for the life of the world to come!' Now, here was a case of a sin [other than minuth] and yet he did die! — In that case, too, since he was so much addicted to immorality it is as [if he had been guilty of] minuth. Rabbi [on hearing of it] wept and said: One may acquire eternal life after many years, another in one hour! Rabbi also said: Repentants are not alone accepted, they are even called 'Rabbi'!"

Yisrael Asper
From:(Anonymous)
Date:August 2nd, 2004 06:28 am (UTC)

Re: Sigh. Why do I bother.

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His piece "The body of G-d" is another example.

G-d wearing Tephilin does not imply what he should look like or that he should have physicality. And from Daat Emet's description it seems Maimonides did not see G-d's lack of a body as a problem of interpretation of verses at least not entirely. All anyone has to do is open up a Kitzur Shulchan Aruch and see on the very first chapter on it's very first paragraph it quoting from Yirmiyahu "Can a man hide himself in secret places that I can't see him? says G-d. Don't I fill the heavens and the earth?" Yirmiyahu 23:24. Furthermore Onkelos who was converted by the Tannaim and was a Tanna himself in his Translation which is the Official translation is careful to remove Anthropomorphisms about G-d. Talmudic day Midrashim and Rabbis through the ages did exactly that before Maimonides. Like Saadia Gaon, Rabbeinu Chananel and others. Daat Emet though says that Maimonides had no one to rely on and that the Tannaim and Amoraim all believed that G-d has a body. And in the Tanach G-d saying that the earth is my footstool is no evidence for saying G-d has a body. On the contrary it can suggest also that G-d doesn't as since G-d is represented as being in heaven what does it mean. G-d is also represented as going down to see if Sdom and Amora really were guilty according to the crying he heard. And if he is so far distant and yet heard of the wickedness before, further evidence is provided for saying G-d has no body. Further if G-d is represented as having a body what does it mean when it says in the Torah that "the spirit of G-d moved over the face of the waters" Bereishit 1:2. There is plenty of figurative speech used about G-d in the Bible and Rabbinical literature. The Ten Commandments written with the finger of G-d is analogous to saying someone writes email with one finger. Saying G-d is angry or happy is something anyone can say and people will not be able to know how literal they are. What Maimonides had trouble with was that the Bible doesn't specifically say as we hardly would have expected it to say to an ancient people that the universe was created out of nothing. The inconsistency of descriptions of G-d, visions rightly explained by the Rabbis as being according to the levels of being able to apprehend him and the boldness with which he is described in anthropomorphic terms is not surprising coming from the ancient East where strictly organized codification was not to be excepted and more extravagant, simple as well as higher and poetic ways of talking abounded.
For sites for the other side see http://www.aishdas.org/toratemet/ and http://www.angelfire.com/mt/talmud/
For showing about Shechita as opposed to his supposed science and omitted material see http://www.kosherquest.org/bookhtml/SHECHITA_THROUGH_BUTCHER.htm

Yisrael Asper
From:(Anonymous)
Date:August 6th, 2004 04:43 pm (UTC)

Re: Sigh. Why do I bother.

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P.S. Does anyone volunteer to translate this into Hebrew?
Yisrael Asper
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From:atzmi
Date:September 19th, 2004 09:49 am (UTC)

body of God

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What do you say, then, about the following citation from Bereishit 5:1 (the image of god), or Shmot 33:23 (refers to the face, palm and buttom of God)? There are also others.
And regarding God wearing Tephilin: he is said to wear them on his arm, which implies he has one.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:September 22nd, 2004 03:05 pm (UTC)

Re: body of God

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The image of G-d for a person is definitely something that can be taken as an analogy. People don't look alike and it says that G-d created man male and female. I am not aware of it being said specifically that G-d wears Tefillin on his arm only that he wears them and it being based on the Bible mentioning His strong arm. It being said that He wears Tefillin is not taken in the academic world as implying that he has an arm as you still are not having him described bodily otherwise. It certainly is boldly anthropomorphic language but coming from the Ancient East it fits in well with how they would put things. When the Bible speaks of the hand of G-d or the arm of G-d and therefore also the strong arm of G-d it's as figurative as what we say when we say the arm of the law. It's very difficult if not impossible to find in the Bible and Talmud physical descriptions of G-d that cannot be explained as just being a figure of speech. Exodus 33:22 through Exodus 33:23 shows an answer to your question concerning Exodus 33:23 that I never thought of until now. Exodus 33:22 says "...I will cover My palm over you until I have passed by." Then Exodus 33:23 says "And I will take away my palm and you will see My back and My face will not be seen." It sounds figurative and startlingly evidence for figurativeness as if G-d has passed by shouldn't his palm have gone with him. That's not really then passing by. He removes his palm after passing by and Moses only sees G-d's back? What about that palm?
Yisrael
From:(Anonymous)
Date:August 6th, 2004 04:40 pm (UTC)

Re: Sigh. Why do I bother.

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P.S. Does anyone volunteer to translate this into Hebrew?
Yisrael Asper
From:(Anonymous)
Date:August 6th, 2004 04:39 pm (UTC)

Re: Sigh. Why do I bother.

(Link)
P.S. Does anyone volunteer to translate this into Hebrew?
Yisrael Asper
From:(Anonymous)
Date:August 11th, 2004 03:52 am (UTC)

Re: Sigh. Why do I bother.

(Link)
http://www.biu.ac.il/Spokesman/Stories/jul_14_2002.htm
Daat Emet whose real name is Yaron Yadan's face is missing and the article about him "The Heretic" is not free anymore. It is a good article as it reveals the early him and the private him so you can see he how evolved. If you would ask him how he came to change his views he would talk impersonally. How long he has he been supposedly an atheist? A good clue is in the article.
Yisrael Asper
From:(Anonymous)
Date:August 11th, 2004 04:20 am (UTC)

Re: Sigh. Why do I bother.

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ירון ידען הוא דעת אמת בלבד
Yisrael Asper
From:(Anonymous)
Date:August 11th, 2004 04:22 am (UTC)

Re: Sigh. Why do I bother.

(Link)
ירון ידען הוא דעת אמת בלבד

http://www.biu.ac.il/Spokesman/Stories/jul_14_2002.htm
Yisrael Asper
From:(Anonymous)
Date:August 27th, 2004 11:57 pm (UTC)

Re: Sigh. Why do I bother.

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The short end of all this is that Daat Emet is not a site of serious scholarship. It is a hate site that would not be tolerated in a Diaspora Jewish community along with its only head and teacher Yaron Yadan. Try having him on a university campus. He just tries to have everything be called wrong no matter what. If the Orthodox interpret the Bible in a manner that makes it more beautiful they are criticized by him. The Bible he considers based on racism though he doesn't realize that racism in the modern sense didn't exist in those days. King David's greatgrandmother was a Moabite by birth for instance. He keeps talking of the French Revolutionary ideas so much that a 1950's edition of an Encyclopedia seems state of the art. He feels that the Orthodox should be restricted in religion to the extent they cannot practice Orthodoxy. He slanders the community by innuendo and more. He keeps harping on the idea that if the rabbis were wrong about lets say what a mouse does it destroys Judaism. This despite the fact that Orthodoxy does not claim scientific infallibility for its rabbis as he himself says. He says what Jewish Law should be and then attacks it. He does not understand democracy seeing it rather as something that is meant to uphold a set of supposedly enlightened views. He is purposely confusing so much so that one site refers to him as an UltraOrthodox Rabbi. This is because as a hate site it is not meant to enlighten but propagandize. He considers UltraOrthodoxy as defined by him to be the true Judaism and then attacks it while welcoming Reform Judaism to a questioner. If one is to be charitable to him, interpreting him in a good way even if it doesn't fit in well one cannot at the same time be hard on the Orthodox. Whether he is answered well or not is irrelevant. A foolish challenge is still a foolish challenge whether answered back foolishly or wisely.
Yisrael Asper
From:(Anonymous)
Date:September 27th, 2004 08:05 am (UTC)

Re: Sigh. Why do I bother.

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http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/2527/press35.htm
http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/2527/listantid.htm
http://www.meforum.org/article/469
http://www.jewishmediaresources.com/article/42/
http://info.jpost.com/1998/Supplements/Rabin/3.html
http://www.daat.ac.il/daat/ezrachut/english/gordon2.htm
There's also an old Jerusalem Report article that you can pay money for to read.
These are good places to look at dealing with ideas and methods similar to Daat Emet which is now altering answers previously written in its Questions and Answers section that make it appear not to be attacking the Jewish religion as much. In the past it specifically referred to paraphrase him the "wicked Jewish religion" for sure.
Yisrael Asper
From:(Anonymous)
Date:October 5th, 2004 09:51 pm (UTC)

Re: Sigh. Why do I bother.

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An interesting aside is that he takes the death penalty and makes it practical when in reality two thousand years ago in the days of the Talmud the death penalty was interpreted by the Rabbis in such a way as to make it almost if not entirely impossible. Yet now he is trying to use more moderate language in his latest replies in the Questions and Answers section as if he is making the distinction that he previously vehemently did not make between the Bible and the Talmud to the denouncing of the Talmud. The Bible itself shows remarkable advancement over its time and place as well so that even kings showed mercy by nature unless prodded by circumstance to go beyond their habits. He knows there are no more death penalties and no sacrifices. He knows that reference to them is only used when it is understood that it is for legalistic inferences. And yet he talks as if this is the reality. Go tell someone to make sacrifices today. You will be told that sacrifices are prohibited nowadays. He knows likewise that the world envisioned for the future is one of peace. He doesn't present anything except in a way that will be negative. So you whenever you post a positive challenge you know he will give a negative response. If you want a serious response you have to look elsewhere.
Yisrael Asper
From:(Anonymous)
Date:August 26th, 2004 03:52 pm (UTC)

Torat Emet

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www.ToratEmet.org
From:(Anonymous)
Date:October 4th, 2004 04:25 pm (UTC)

Re: Torat Emet

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This another site that repsonds to Daat Emet.
Yisrael Asper
From:(Anonymous)
Date:December 22nd, 2004 02:59 pm (UTC)

Re: Torat Emet

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Where Daat Emet contradicts itself and declares itself inferior by far to an Orthodox thinker is at
http://www.daatemet.co.il/questions/index.cfm?MESSAGEID=1840

"Prof. Leibowitz OBM was one of the greatest thinkers who ever arose in the State of Israel, a world-class intellectual with a well-thought out doctrine on current questions of Judaism, the Jewish people, and the State of Israel. The very question of our opinion of Yeshayahu Leibowitz is a great compliment to us, for he is head and shoulders above us and we can only give an opinion as a student does of his teacher.
Prof. Leibowitz was born in 1903 (in Riga), was given a religious education, and observed the Torah and the commandments.
He was editor of the Encyclopedia Hebraica from 1956-1972, and was famous in the Israeli and Jewish societies as a "raging prophet."
He was graced with many rare qualities; he was intellectually honest and did not white-wash the facts. He came out against both academics and rabbis: about the former he said "Theoreticians tend to fall into the error of ignoring what is readily apparent" and about the latter he customarily quoted Chazal, "Any sage who does not have wisdom--a dead animal is better than he" (Vayikra Rabbah [Vilna] parasha 1]).
To understand where Daat Emet breaks away from Prof. Leibowitz's approach we will present his doctrine in brief.
According to him, as a basic, factual principle Man's life is inconsequential "and man has no preference over the animal." Man is not capable of understanding the reason for his existence and the purpose of his life; man's mind cannot grasp creation ex nihilo and is incapable of comprehending eternity. Man does not know and is not capable of knowing from whence he comes and where he is going; he only knows that through no cause of his own he is alive.
This reality forces man, as a social and conscious creature, to accept a supreme value (with no rational explanation, for his life is, after all, worthless) upon which axis his social and political laws will revolve.
There are those who accepted the state as the supreme value, those who accepted the earth as the supreme value, those who accepted Man as the supreme value, and those who accepted the worship of G-d as the supreme value. Accepting this or that value has no logical explanation, but man is prepared to die for his values. There are those willing to sacrifice their lives for Greater Israel, those willing to sacrifice their lives for human dignity and liberties, and those willing to die for G-d (following the precepts which one should die sooner than transgress).
Prof. Leibowitz OBM accepted the value of "worship of G-d" above even the value of Man. Leibowitz was not a humanist nor moral; he fulfilled the commandments as worship of G-d. Daat Emet accepts Man as the supreme value and does not accept "worship of G-d" -- to be more precise, Daat Emet rejects the worship of G-d. It is precisely on this point that Daat Emet disagrees with Leibowitz's doctrine, and the two even face each other off in a cultural war. To support our words we will cite him: "Religion and ethics do not match each other, for all follows intention: man's decision making is religious if his intention in this decision is for the sake of heaven and ethical if his intention is for man's sake. One of the two intentions must necessarily get pushed aside by the other; in this sense only an atheist can be an 'ethical' person while one who accepts upon himself the yoke of heaven recognizes the commandment and not the ethical command (Judaism, the Jewish nation, and the State of Israel, pg. 294)..."


Yisrael Asper


From:(Anonymous)
Date:December 29th, 2004 10:41 pm (UTC)

Re: Torat Emet

(Link)
Exceptrs from the article "The Heretic" in the Jerusalem Report
"...[Yaron Yadan]"I had the respect of my community,
felt God loved me, and had all those beautiful kids," he says.
But he had also begun to feel plagued by theological doubts - to
question whether the Talmud, the source of halakhic law, was indeed
the literal word of God as passed down by sages through the
generations, as he had been taught by his ultra-Orthodox rabbis.
Rather, he wondered, was it written by ordinary if very learned men,
with no direct line to the Almighty. If the answer was the former,
Yadan reckoned, then Talmudic knowledge, particularly in areas
requiring understanding of human and animal biology, would surely
stand up to modern scientific scrutiny. On the other hand, if God
played no role in inspiring the writing of the Talmud, then why view
halakhah as holy and make it the fulcrum of one's life?...In an
attempt to resolve his doubts, Yadan had three private meetings with
maverick Orthodox philosopher Yeshayahu Leibowitz, himself a rabbi
and a scientist, who died in 1994. By Yadan's telling, Leibowitz
asserted the Talmud was not the word of God and that despite that,
"it didn't alter his beliefs."
But for Yadan, whose knowledge of Judaism was acquired in the narrow,
doctrinaire confines of ultra-Orthodoxy, there was no wiggle room...
Halakhah, Yadan finally declared to his startled wife one day in 1994,
was based on man-made "nonsense"...In time, he would also come
to reject the divinity of the Torah itself and embrace the Spinozan
view that while there is a divine force in the universe, it is
unrelated to any moral system or organized religion...Though initially
reluctant, his wife went along with him...But in the end the marriage
went the way of everything else associated with their ultra-Orthodox
past."

Yisrael Asper
From:(Anonymous)
Date:December 29th, 2004 11:00 pm (UTC)

Re: Torat Emet

(Link)
Further on excerpts from the article "The Heretic" in the Jerusalem Report
"...Yadan's crusading spirit didn't ebb, however. These days Yadan, a
pleasant, mild-mannered man, runs Da'at Emet (True Wisdom), an
organization he founded in 1998, but which is now stepping up its
activities, and is currently staffed by 15 volunteers - working out of
his living room...Imbued with the same zeal which once characterized
his efforts to convince others to become ultra-Orthodox (he managed to
persuade one of his brothers, who has remained so), Yadan now works
hard in the opposite direction, trying to get the ultra-Orthodox to
"see the light and liberate themselves." He also sits on the Central
Committee of the Shinui political party - embracing its assault on
ultra-Orthodox political power. But his is a far wider struggle -
essentially against all religious Judaism, including what he regards
as the absurd and untenable "traditional" practices followed by
non-Orthodox Jews, such as fasting on Yom Kippur. "The commandment to
do so is based on fairy tales, myths," he scoffs, adding that he
advocates a "democratic, culturally Jewish, secular Israel."...a
relentless battle is played out in modern Israel between those
recruiting new adherents to ultra-Orthodoxy and those leading a
movement away from it...he is now at the forefront of the
struggle against it - an absolutist who was first attracted to
profound Orthodoxy, and now to profound secularism.
And his modus operandi, now that he has "changed sides," is highly
original - aggressively challenging ultra-Orthodox thinkers on their
own turf. Four times a year, Yadan mass-mails tens of thousands of
pamphlets to ultra-Orthodox households and yeshivot across Israel -
pamphlets which are filled with his controversial, and by his
target-community's standards, heretical ideas. Since 1998, he's
printed and mailed about 500,000.
The literary format is significant. Skinny, pastel or plain
white-covered, the pamphlets are identical in design to those used by
rabbinic scholars to publish legal opinions and original theological
interpretations of halakhah. And, just like the real thing, they
feature arcane flowery language and are filled with a dizzying amount
of textual sources designed to demonstrate the author's
knowledge.
Indeed for the ultra-Orthodox reader, encountering a Yadan pamphlet is
akin to an anti-porn campaigner picking up a tract headlined "Stop
Immorality" and discovering he's looking at Penthouse: It takes a
moment, but just a moment, to realize that Yadan's are not quite the
real thing...There is also plenty of insider ribbing. On his covers, Yadan mockingly asks readers, in authentic ultra-Orthodox style, to "protect the sanctity" of his brochures by treating them with respect, and only cites the Hebrew calendar date - even though one of his pamphlets rejects the Hebrew calendar as hopelessly flawed.
Similarly Yadan's faux flowery imitation drips with sarcasm. "Now
come and see," gleefully exhorts one pamphlet which discusses the
scholars' purported lack of knowledge about maritime life, "how the
sages' complete lack of familiarity with fish species caused our
early rabbis, like [medieval commentator Rashi's grandson] Rabbenu
Tam to eat non-kosher fish!"
By Yadan's telling, his pamphlets are a resounding success. He has
received, he says, countless responses from the ultra-Orthodox world,
both attempting to counter his arguments and endorsing them. "Some of
them quite astute. I am being read in all the yeshivot. The rabbis
are scared. We are making a difference."
The claim is difficult to substantiate or disprove. Scholars in the
ultra-Orthodox community are reluctant to speak on the record about
Yadan's work."

Yisrael Asper
From:(Anonymous)
Date:December 29th, 2004 11:06 pm (UTC)

Re: Torat Emet

(Link)
Even further on excerpts from the article "The Heretic" in the Jerusalem Report

"Yadan is not the first ultra-Orthodox dropout to tread the activist
path. Key activists in groups such as Hillel, which says it assists
hundreds of ultra-Orthodox Israelis who leave their community
annually, have also come from that world. But while Yadan works with
Hillel and Hofesh, a secular rights group, he says these are not
really effective. "In a closed society, the attack has to come from
within, from an insider like me who talks the talk. That's how you
fight a cult."
Even further on excerpts from the article "The Heretic" in the Jerusalem Report
"...apparently echoing the prevailing view, one insider said flatly,
"He's an apostate" who won't have much influence. The danger to
ultra-Orthodox society today is "from the street influences" - the
attractions of the modern Western lifestyle - not an intellectual
assault...Agudat Yisrael's Hamodia flatly accused Da'at Emet of being
funded by Christian missionaries, a charge Yadan denies...Still, for
a crusader, Yadan is rather circumspect. He does not sign his name on
the pamphlets or identify himself on the website, yet he does exhort
readers to contact him at a Da'at Emet answerphone or via its website
- although to what end is not clear.
He's similarly tight-lipped about funding. His non-profit
organization spends about 1 million shekels ($200,000) a year. He
does not, he insists, take a salary, supporting himself, he says
vaguely, by doing "some talmudic research," although he declines to
say for whom, and lecturing. All he will say about money is that
it comes from "a few wealthy high-tech people who agree with what I
am doing."
In a sense Yaron Yadan's turnaround is a homecoming of sorts. He was
raised in a working-class, secular Sephardi home in Tiberias, the
fifth of seven children.
His parents had traveled the familiar route of many
Middle Eastern Jews, immigrating here from North Africa at age 14,
being sent to a non-religious kibbutz where they met, serving in the
army and marrying. Yadan says his late, Tunisian-born father was
"totally secular and didn't fast on Yom Kippur"; his Moroccan-born mother,
however, was influenced by her father, Rabbi Shlomo Hadida, a known figure in
Casablanca, and continued to observe "fasting on Yom Kippur and lighting Friday
night candles."

In 1978, Yadan dropped out of high school and drifted to Tel Aviv, where the
return-to-religion movement was just taking hold, and soon found himself
attending
classes at a small ultra-Orthodox returnee yeshivah of the Lithuanian school.
"Suddenly my life had meaning and purpose," he recalls. "I liked the rhythm and
structure of ultra-Orthodoxy. I felt God's presence. At least that's what I
thought." In retrospect, Yadan says, he thinks that those outreach pioneers
understood that "most of us returnees were there because the yeshivah and the
community answered our emotional needs."...
Yadan retains a measured view of his ultra-Orthodox years, and says
he admires the respect the community has for the written word, and
misses the warmth of the society. "We were happy in a kind of deep,
mystical way," he says..."

Yisrael Asper
From:(Anonymous)
Date:January 17th, 2005 09:20 pm (UTC)

Re: Torat Emet

(Link)
Daat Emet says:
http://www.daatemet.org.il/questions/ask.cfm?MESSAGEID=1901
"As to your question of whether we believe in G-d: we have written many times that there is no difference between one who believes in G-d and one who rejects Him. Both freely admit that the world is a riddle which cannot be solved. The one who believes in G-d -- a G-d who has no beginning nor end, no body or form -- says, in other words, "I believe in something whose nature I do not know and therefore I cannot relate to Him," which is the same conclusion as the atheist's.

There is no difference between one who says "I believe in the existence of a god whom I do not know and recognize" and the one who says "I do not believe in the existence of a G-d who I do not know."

I replied:
"So what is the basis of science? And what are you railing against belief in G-d? Science operates under the assumption that the universe is not a riddle which cannot be solved.
Yisrael Asper"
From:(Anonymous)
Date:January 18th, 2005 10:37 am (UTC)

Re: Torat Emet

(Link)
מדעת אמת
http://www.daatemet.org.il/questions/index.cfm?MESSAGEID=1858
"תאריך פרסום: 06-12-2004
כותרת: אבולוציה ואלוהים
תוכן: שלום אבינועם
עיין בתשובתינו לנושא "אבולוציה".
תגובתך לחוזר בתשובה תוכל לנסחה כפי שניסחנו בתשובתינו: "אמונה בקיומו של אלהים":
המונח "אלהים" אינו אלא פתרון מילולי גרידא חסר משמעות בעבורנו, והאומר "אני מאמין בקיום האלוהים" אמר במילים פשוטות "אני מאמין בקיום מוגבלות שכלנו ואיני יודע כלום".

בברכה
דעת- אמת

http://www.daatemet.org.il/questions/index.cfm?MESSAGEID=1892
...לגבי שאלתך האם אנחנו מאמינים באלהים, כבר כתבנו פעמים רבות שאין הבדל בין המאמין באלהים לכופר בו. שניהם כאחד מודים בפה מלא, שהעולם הוא חידה בלתי ניתנת לפתרון. המאמין באלהים – אלהים שאין לו תחילה ואין לו סוף, אינו גוף ולא דמות הגוף… - אומר במילים אחרות אני מאמין במשהו שאיני יודע מהו ולכן איני יכול להתיחס אליו, בדיוק כפי מסקנתו של האתאיסט.
כלומר אין הבדל בין האומר אני מאמין בקיומו של אלהים שאיני יודע ומכיר אותו לבין האומר אינני מאמין בקיומו של אלהים שאיני יודע אותו.

בברכה
דעת - אמת"
ישראל אספר
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