Friday, March 05, 2010

Chazzal and Social Sciences
Can a Judaism that claims to result from Rabbinic Judaism - have an anthropology, have a view of humanity at large, if the Rabbis did not have something we can call an anthropology? the closest we have to a description of humanity after Tanach is nowhere near a thorough, empirical science; there is Jew and non-Jew ("Jewish Identity in Early Rabbinic Writings", by R. Dr. Sacha Stern). As such, in the Jewish Canon after Tanach, there are very few instances of discretion between different ethnic and cultural groups, other than Jews and Gentiles, Us and Them. As Stern discusses, there is clear disregard (III.5.B), of the parameters of empirical observation in this, the closest we have to a Jewish social science from them - where at least in the hard sciences we could argue following Rambam, Avraham ben Rambam et al (as is done in the "Rabbi Slifkin" rationalist camp). Here, evaluation is base on the passing down of parameters that are fixed, as the non-Jews around them change - from the 2nd Temple period, changing in good part due to Jewish presence in the world, a 'science' that relied more on Mesorah than on verification. Phrased in that way, how dissimilar is it to the many pseudo-sciences lambasted by "Science and Torah" advocates? How might they respond?

Perhaps we should treat this situation like many want to treat the "Hard Sciences" of the Rabbis - discount their "social" sciences as well. Would this reduce "Halachic" Judaisms to mere language games? But of course, as apologists are want to say regarding incongruity between facts and halacha;

"DON'T WORRY... all halachic decisions deriving from this cultural language game are abrogated by current legal decision, they're not learned, let alone lived...and are definitely set aside in terms of pikuach nefesh"...

Excepting of course when it requires that Jews must live certain charades of the Rabbinic hard and soft sciences to their own neurotic relationships with empirical reality. Note how much this process and response has brought Observant Jewry to a footing shared with classical Conservative Judaism! This religion is definitely not for everyone.


At 3/18/2010 4:54 PM, Blogger Drew said...

You asked on my blog why I did not cite the souse of the FRav Ovadia Tshuva on the Masorti conversion.

You also suggested answering off-line.

I have no way to answer off line as I do not have your email.

The Tshuvah was published 12 days ago in a Torah journal called Beit Hillel.

The story was repoted in HaAretz and on the nightly news.

I may spin things in my blog but I NEVER alter facts. The editor requires verification of any information or quotes.

Rav Andy Sacks

At 3/18/2010 5:55 PM, Blogger Pierre Sogol said...

I only ASKED for the citation! I accused no one of a spin! You confuse me with someone else! I assumed the online newspaper would give you the email of commentors, since I needed to give it to comment! My email is And I'm not sure how you came to my blog to begin with.

At 3/18/2010 5:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I linked to it in the article...OK, so that's how...


Post a Comment

<< Home

<< List
Jewish Bloggers
Join >>