Author Topic: Prof Israel Drazin and rationalism.  (Read 57 times)

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Offline Sof Sof

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Prof Israel Drazin and rationalism.
« on: November 07, 2017, 05:15:08 AM »
Shalom Echad Vekulam,

I have studied the  Torah with the Onkelos Edition of Prof Drazin, and I really enjoyed his approach to the text and its meaning under the umbrella of Interpretations by Rashi and of Course Rambam and some very good "think about it" approaches.

I went to see if he had written anymore on the Torah or Judaism other then just Onkelos. I found that he has written many books about the Torah and what he finds to be misinterpretations by our Chazal and Minhag. For example. Succot, he writes here

http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/the-unusual-view-of-ehrlich-about-the-origin-of-sukkot/

People who pay attention to what they read realize, as I describe in detail in my book “Mysteries of Judaism,” that none of the Jewish holidays are practiced today as the Torah mandates. The rabbis made extensive changes in Torah laws because of changes in human circumstances. What do we know about Sukkot? The following is the unusual answer by the sage Arnold B. Ehrlich (1848-1919).

"What do we know about Sukkot?[1]

The fall holiday of Sukkot begins on the fifteenth day of the seventh Jewish month and lasts for seven days. It generally occurs in September or October. The biblical rules of Sukkot are mentioned in five places: Exodus 23:16, 34:22; Leviticus 23:23-43; Numbers 29:12-39; Deuteronomy 16:13-15. Leviticus 23:40 states that the Israelites should take four species on the first day and “rejoice before the Lord your God seven days.” While the Hebrew words used for the four species are obscure, the JPS 1960 translation defines them as “the fruit of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook.” An apparently separate command in verse 42 states “Ye shall dwell in booths seven days.” But is it separate?

The first biblical description of the implementation of this or these biblical command(s) is in Nehemiah. It is entirely different than the way the holiday is celebrated today. It is as if the author of Nehemiah who states he read the law in the Torah, had a different text. The holiday is not called Sukkot but Hag, the holiday. Not four but five items are taken and at least three of the five, and perhaps four, seem unlike the four mentioned in Leviticus. And most startlingly, the people were told to use the five items as the materials to build sukkot.[2]

Scholars differ when Nehemiah lived and when the book carrying his name was edited. Many agree that these events occurred about a century after some Judeans returned to Judea after the Babylonian exile. He may have lived around 440 BCE, but perhaps later. The book states in 8:17, that the holiday had not been observed since the days of Joshua.[3] In 8:14, the book records that the Judeans “found written in the Torah how the Lord had commanded Moses that the Israelites should dwell in booths (sukkot) in the holiday (chag) of the seventh month [and should proclaim] ‘Go to the mountain and fetch olive branches (zayit), and branches of wild olive (eitz shemen), and myrtle (hadas) branches, and palm (temarim) branches, and branches of thick trees (eitz abot) to make booths (sukkot).’”

The fact that the holiday is not called Sukkot in Nehemiah, but Hag, the practice of taking four species is not mentioned, and the key practice was to build a sukkah made of five species, seems to support the view that the holiday was named Sukkot after 440 BCE when its practices and significance were changed and that the biblical mandates were placed in the Torah during this later period."


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Now Prof Drazin, received Smicha at Ner Israel Yeshiva, his educational background is incredible. What is troubling me is  what if what he posits is true,  and what of the other ideas he posits, such as that David did not kill Goliath there are other holidays and events in the Torah that he reduces to the lowest common denominator. In other words, I see it as a type of Ultra Orthodoxy, only that it is governed almost completely by rationalism to explaining most occurrences by natural or supernatural means.

Has anybody read any of his published books about the Torah. I understand where he is coming from, but since he received actually 2 Smichas at Ner Israel, its hard to fathom such a  hard line approach to the Torah. It seems that if you follow the Rationalist school of thought to its ultimate conclusion. There would be no reason for Prof Drazin to open a Sefer on Torah of any kind, since according to his viewpoint, most of the Tanach is incorrectly interpeted. To what purpose his Smicha then?

I ask here because I would like to know what exactly he does practice as a Jew, with an Orthodox Smicha who challenges all he knows and studied and read about the faith. I give them man credit for his attaining the education he has, his service to the United States army  and I wonder if anybody here has an opinion on his teachings or maybe even has spoken to him or debated with him, who, being a believer in the Kabbalah and  Pardes, I only see a Jew who follows the curriculum of the school of the  Documentary Hypothesis of the Torah, in being a late work, the holidays are not what is claimed and most of everything is made up. Thats what I get from his article.

How does one debate this vast difference in Hashgacha. I stand on the side of Pardes when it comes to the Torah.  Kabbalah to me is rational, as it was to the Rav I dearly wish missing the honour of being his student Hagaon Harav Chaim Zimmerman. Who had no problem with rationalism and Mysticism sharing a place in the observance of Torah and understanding the underlying  brilliance of what Hashem has given us.

Thank You.

P.S. As an aside, I suffer from A.A.D.D. so if my sentence structuring seems frantic please excuse me. Sometimes the mind works faster then the fingers on the Keyboard, just so you know. I find reading posts in JTF. that people here seem to have a lot of Derech Eretz towards everyone else even when not agreeing. Which is why this board is so outstanding. So again excuse my bad grammar.

Offline Israel Chai

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Re: Prof Israel Drazin and rationalism.
« Reply #1 on: November 09, 2017, 08:14:49 PM »
Something is off here. He has smicha from Ner, which is a great yeshiva, and he says professor? The chief Rabbi of England would put Rabbi before Lord, and everyone considers that the most serious title. I know other Rabbis who are professors, and everyone calls them Rabbi and not prof and they call themselves that too, I've never seen something like that, not sure.

All of this seems to rest on the author knowing what's going on better than prophet Nehemiah.

By the time you get to the sources, you see what's happening here:

"The Sadducees, Samaritans, and Karaites also understood the Leviticus command to construct the sukkah of these items. Each is arguably reflecting the ancient practice. Rabbi Yehudah in the Babylonian Talmud, Sukkah 36b, said “The sukkah must be constructed of the same four species as the lulov,” although Rabbi Meir ruled that the sukkah can be made of any material. Rabbi Yehudah’s view may reflect some recollection of the ancient practice."

What break-off cults that die out understand or decide is of no consequence. This prof decided he wants to debate the Rabbis of Talmud, whereas if they were here he wouldn't be important enough to speak in the courtyard of where one was.|

"This may mean that the holiday was not observed in this manner in the past, but was observed as a harvest festival."

Maybe it's a lucky guess, maybe he just makes things up. My money's on the latter.

"When did the holiday called Sukkot, in contrast to the harvest holiday chag, begin? Ehrlich imagines that in ancient times the Israelite pilgrims coming to the then-small Jerusalem city to celebrate chag were unable to find lodging and had to make do with hastily constructed booths (Hebrew, sukkot). This was so onerous that many pilgrims stayed home. To counteract this “strike,” Israelite leadership, most likely the priests of the Second Temple period (520 BCE-70 CE), mandated that all Israelites dwell in sukkot during chag as a way of joining the pilgrims who had traveled to Jerusalem. The priestly plan worked. Since the Israelites had to dwell in sukkot wherever they were located, they resumed coming to the temple during chag and the holiday assumed the name of its new main practice. The prophet Zechariah, who lived at this time, reflected the failure of many Jews coming to Jerusalem. He called the holiday Sukkot, and threatened the people that if they do not travel to Jerusalem for this holiday “there shall be no rain” (14:17). He does not mention Passover or Shavuot.[4]"


4"Ehrlich states that some Israelites objected to the new requirement to dwell in huts for seven days. He theorizes  that these resisters inserted into Genesis 33:17 that when the patriarch Jacob returned to Canaan he built a house for himself and sukkot for his cattle, for sukkot are only fit for animals."

So who was this scholar who was so great he can debate the Rabbis and the Prophets? He helped translate the Phony Testament into Hebrew. His opinions aren't halacha, and his imagination, while it would make a pretty entertaining hollywood movie to make Judaism look like it was tribal nonsense that the Rabbis changes, is dumb.

"The case of Arnold B. Ehrlich, author of Bible commentary מקרא כפשוטו, influencer on young Mordecai Kaplan, is interesting. Having converted to Christianity at a young age, he assisted (or perhaps ghost-wrote) Franz Delitzsch in his Hebrew translation of the New Testament."
The fear of the L-rd is the beginning of knowledge