User talk:Wolf2191

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Hi, I responded on the Pharisees talk page. Welcome to Wikipedia! Slrubenstein | Talk 13:38, 18 March 2007 (UTC)

Hag Sameach! Slrubenstein | Talk 11:55, 1 April 2007 (UTC)


Amber Witch[edit]

Alas, this is a pretty busy time for me (for the next two weeks especiallY) but I will definitely check out the articles you are working on and see if I have any constructive suggestions. In the meantime, keep up the good work. By the way, you may want to look over the article on "Judaism and Christianity" (which is meant to emphasize differences between the two religions, as opposed to an article on the "Judeo-Christian tradition" which emphasizes similarities). Slrubenstein | Talk 13:06, 22 April 2007 (UTC)

Okay, four quick comments: regarding this:

In the 1840s the Reverend Johann Meinhold supposedly discovered the manuscript of another minister, Abraham Schweidler among the rubbish in the choir in the old Coserow Church. This was the story of Mary Schweidler: The Amber Witch described as "the most interesting trial for witchcraft ever known".

Concerning the first sentence, I think you need to be clearer about points of view, and need provide a reference or references immediately to support the facts asserted (according to whom did Meinhold discover it in the 1840s? According to whom did he not discover it? Using the word "supposedly" is sloppy - it implies that there are at least two different views without actually telling us who Tholds which view, and without providing a source/sources). Concerning the second sentence, you need to state who has described this story as "the most interesting Witch trial" (and tell us at least a little about him/her - Clergy? Journalist? historian? Jurist? etc.) and provide a source for the quote. My third point: just consider these first two points as specific examples of how you need to be more carefull in complying with NPOV (identifying and providing fair accounts of distinct POVs - for example, instead of using the one word "supposedly" to mix up two POVs, do justice to each POV - who says "true" and who says" false")... and how you need to be more carefull in complying with our Verifiability (or ATT) policy by providing sources. My final point, about the Zohar - I actually haven't looked at the article yet but my response is to how you worded your request on my talk page. You describe your added section as being about the authenticity of the Zohar. I encourage you to think not in terms of adding a section on the Zohar but rather adding a section about a particular view of the Zohar. In other words, not that you added a section on its authenticity, but rathre a section about those people who believe it authentic. This approach will help keep you to our NPOV policy, and will also remind you to provide sources. i think that in fact you have been careful not to use Wikipedia just to express your own views - i appreciate that, that is the spirit of our policies. But I do think you can actually be more careful in complying with NPOV and V and I hope the examples above help. Slrubenstein | Talk 14:15, 22 April 2007 (UTC)

Okay I looked at the Zohar article and see that you were very careful to provide the source - thanks, and of course my above concern is obviously unnecessary. I do have two comments, one is stylistic, one is substantive, but neither have anything to do with policy. Style: I personally am not a fan of the "X number of responses" format, or even "A's responce to B". I think that the section you added would read more easily and effectively if instead you could turn it into a smooth coherent paragraph that flows on its own. Also much as I love the Talmud and its transparency about argumentation and dialectic, I do not think this is a good style for an encyclopedia article (on any topic). In other words, I think the he said, she said formula gets tedious. Specifically, instead of Scholem's view on the Zohar, and then Kasher's view of Scholem, I would have a section on Scholem's view of the Zohar and then Kasher's view of the Zohar.

Another thing: I disagree that this debate is about authenticity. It is about authorship and if you don't I will make the appropriate changes. "Authentic" does not necessarily mean "literally accurate." It has other meanings. The point is, the word "authentic" has meaning only in relation to some specific issue. When historians say that the Zohar was not written by Shimon bar Yochai but rather by Moshe de Leon, they are not saying "it is inauthentic." They are saying it is an inauthentic source for how Jews thought in the second centruy. However, they are also saying it is an authentic source for how Jews thought in the 13th century. And this is just the historian's point of view. Ther eis another point of view: that of the religious person. For a religious person the Zohar is authentic because reading it makes the Torah shine and brings them closer to God. For this person the authenticdity has nothing to do with who wrote it or when. The Zohar can have been written in the middle ages and still be an authentic path to God. Maybe there is another point of view - maybe there are different religious points of view. maybe there are some religious people who feel that if the Zohar were not written by one of the tannaim, then it cannot bring people closer to God. Okay, I can see how these people might interpret Scholem as saying the Zohar is inauthetnic. But I do not think Scholem himself believed the Zohar was inauthentic. he just believed it came out of a different historical milieu. And I think there are people who accept Scholem's dating and argument about authorship for whom the Zohar remains an authentic spiritucal classic. It is more precise to say there is a debate over authorship (we all know what authership means) but a debate over authenticity opens the can of worms that different people mean different things by "authentic." Slrubenstein | Talk 09:07, 23 April 2007 (UTC)

Okay, now i understand what you mean by authentic. I think the way the article is written will still confuse and mislead people. There are two different questions: a debate over the authenticity of a physical manuscript (where you and others are quite right to use the word "authentic") and a debate over authorship. Can you revise the articel on the Zohar to make this distinction clear? Slrubenstein | Talk 11:55, 30 April 2007 (UTC)
And you honestly do have to rewrite parts of the Amber Witch. On my talk page you wrote: "As far as the amber witch page, I meant by "supposedly" that this is what meinhold claimed but later said it was a forgery." Then do not use the word "supposedly." Be precise. Say that Meinhold first claimed it was authentic and then revealed that he had forged it. You write, "The term "most interesting trial" is more like an advertising slogan and that is how the book is always described in all the articles I saw on it" - well, advertising slogans are not really encyclopedic are they? Please read our NPOV and V policies: we include verifiable views and identify them as such. If you have read many articles that claim that it was the most interesting trial, then quote those articles and provide the sources. It is not a fact that it was the most interesting trial. It is a fact that the authors of some articles believe it was the most interesting trial. The article needs to be clear about this (and we editors as a rule need to be clear about this kind of stuff). Slrubenstein | Talk 12:00, 30 April 2007 (UTC)

On Bible Criticism[edit]

I read the article. It is well-informed. However, this account of Wellhausen:

Wellhausen wanted to prove that the Torah. and the Book of Joshua were, in large measure, "doctored" by priestly canonizers under Ezra in the lime of the Second Temple. Their purpose was to perpetuate a single falsehood: Moshe's authorship of the Torah and the central worship, first in the Tabernacle and later in the Temple. According to Wellhausen, there never was a Tabernacle and no revelation at Sinai ever took place. Moshe, if he ever existed, considered the Deity a local thunder god or mountain god. The Torah had, therefore, to be seen as a complete forgery and not as a verbal account of God's words to Moshe and the People Israel.

is wrong. Here is what Wellhausen wanted to prove: that Christianity is the most "evolved" religion. to prove this it was not enough for him to claim that Christianity was "more" evolved than Judaism, because like other Christians he saw Judaism as the antecedent to Christianity (not just that, but that Protestant Christianity is more evolved than Catholic Christianity!). So he wanted to prove that Judaism (1) was itself evolving and (2) evolving in one direction and (3) evolving in a direction the logical end result of which would be Christianity. As an example of this evolution, he claimed that at one time Jews (well, you know what I mean, B'nai Yisrael) sacrificed to God at different places; at a later stage in their evolution, they sacrificed at only one place (the logical conclusion: after the crucificxion of Jesus, there will no longer be any need for further sacrifice; the progression is many to one to zero). Wellhausen identified four sources (JEDP) and argued that these were (1) written at different times and (2) if you put them in the correct order (the order inwhich they they written) you see the general evolution of religion that inevitably leads to the New Testament and Christianity. Crucially, he considers the J source the most "primitive" and the Priestly (P) source - the one centered on sacrifice in one place - the most evolved. The crux of Wellhausen's agenda was that Judaism evolved in a specific direct and that the specific direction can be found within the Torah; therefore, evidence within the Torah proves that Christianity is what God wanted all along. This was Wellhausen's agenda.

I am sure you can come up with your own criticisms. Needless to say most Jews find his principle assumptions - not that Moses didn't author the Torah, but that the religion of Israel evolved in a direction that inevitably led to Christianity - offensive and wrong. Kaufmann like all higher critics accepts that Moses did not author the Torah, that the Torah is composed of documents written by different people at different times. But Kaufmann's main point was that Wellhausen's assumptions about the direction of "evolution" of Israelite religion was all wrong. Kaufmann argues that there is no "evolution" in the sense of a constant moving more close to the truth. Kaufman argues that the crucial idea of Israelite religion - the genious idea that is their gift to humanity, a sophisticated understanding of God and their relation to God - is found in the earliest document (J) so there is no sense in calling J "primitive." Moreover, he argues that the D(euteronomical) document was written after the P(riestly) document - in short, Wellhausen's history of the evolution of Israelite religion is dead wrong.

In this sense, Wellhausen and Kaufmann are polar opposites. But they both agree that Moses did not author the Torah. However, neither of them are concerned with characterizing the work of the authors and editors of the Torah as a fraud "doctoring" documents in order to create and perpetuate a falsehood. That just is not of interest to them. Their main aim was to recover a hidden history of the Israelite religion. If they "accused" the redactor of the Torah of anything, it was of mixing together accounts that were written at different times and that express different values, into one heterogeneous account. But is the motive to deceive people? I do not think so.

My understanding of Biblical criticism is that they think that the Torah is a palimpsest, a document that exists at different levels. Within it are single stories that, if you read them alone, have one meaning. Then there are the four sources, each of which strings together specific versions of stories to convey a different meaning. And then there is the Torah, drawing on the four sources redacted (or edited) together to create a new meaning. This meaning is different from that of earlier documents. But the fact that it is new and different does not make it false. It just expresses a different truth. Most people think that the big difference between fundamentalist or Orthodox readers of the Bible and critical scholars is, do you believe that God wrote (or dictated or immediately inspired) the Torah? I think that the big difference between non-critical and critical readers is that critical scholars think something can be written by man, men, even women, and at different times, even relatively recent, and can still express some beauty, some truth.

Also, I think the article misconstrues Walter Kaufman's point. His point is not that the DH is wrong. His point is that the DH would not help us understand a literary text, such as Faust. The analogy is this: the DH does not help us understand that work of art created by the redactor (whoever wove together the four our four+ sources) into one. His point is that you do not need to know the history of a text to appreciate it. He is right. The task of a historian is the task of a historian, but it is not the only task. A historian can argue that there was never a person named Homer and that the Iliad is the composite of many older stories. That historian may well be right. But someone edited those stories into one big one, and the one big one really is a work of art. Kaufman and others who take his view are not saying that the DH is wrong, they are saying that the DH is irrelevant if what you want to do is understand the Torah and The Bible. Look at it at the level of the Bible. The rabbis do not claim that Leviticus and Psalms and Koheleth were all written by the same people. And you can read each book by itself, and if you read each book by itself you might take away different lessons. But what happens when you put these three books together, and along with many others create a new book? Suddenly, we discover more truths and beauty in each particular book.

Cardozo writes, "The Torah is a covenantal document and is to be studied as such. It does not inform us of "facts," "history," or "anthropology."" I think most people who agree with Higher Criticism disagree and agree with him. They would say that the Torah IS a historical document, and it is an anthropological document. BUT they would certainly agree that for the pious - including whoever edited it together - it is a covenental document.

By the way, your article itself is being misleading if not fraudelent when it says in one paragraph:

Later non-Orthodox scholars, in particular Umberto Cassuto (1883-1951)[26] and Yechezkel Kaufman (1889- 1963)[27] further demolished the theory, showing that Wellhausen's observations contradicted his conclusions. Kaufman's main contribution lies in his thesis that monotheism was not, as Wellhausen and others had stated, a gradual departure from paganism, but an entirely new development. Israel's monotheism began with Moshe and was a complete revolution in religious thought.

Cassuto did indeed reject the Documentary Hypotheses in tot but Kaufman as I have explained above did not. It is true that "Kaufman's main contribution lies in his thesis that monotheism was not, as Wellhausen and others had stated, a gradual departure from paganism, but an entirely new development." It is absolutely false to suggest that Kaufman argued that "Israel's monotheism began with Moshe and was a complete revolution in religious thought." Now, Kauffman can believe the first sentence, and the author of your article can believe the second sentence. But it is disingenuous to have one follow the other because a reader may think Kaufman believed both sentences. He believed the first, but he never made any claims as to who actually first came up with the idea of monotheism - just that the key idea came much earlier than Wellhausen claimed. Does this demolish Wellhausen's theory? If by "theory" you mean the argument about the evolution of Israelite religion? yes. if by "theory" you mean the argument about the human and multiple authorship of the Torah? No, definitely not.

I agree with those authors cited in the article that Higher Criticism has exhausted itself. I suspect that whatever points it was able to make have been made. Biblical scholarship has moved on. But this does not mean that they reject the documentary hypothesis in its general or broadest form. Most scholars today reject Wellhausen's evolutionary framework in toto and question the attempt to recover any original document, or precisely date the authorship of a specific document. But believe me, they reject these things will still agreeing (I know, non-critical scholars obviously do not agree) that what we call the Torah is the result of the editing together over time of multiple sources created by different human beings at different times.

Now, you can argue against this final proposition. My only point is, you can come up with a list of a hundred scholars who reject Wellhausen, and a thousand flaws in Wellhausen's argument, and you still have not disproven this final proposition ... I know this, because I know that hundreds of scholars have found hundreds if not thousands of flaws in Wellhausn and reject his model, but they still acdept this final proposition. So to go to your comment on the Kohelet page ... I think most critical scholars today find in Wellhausen's work very smart things and very ridiculous things ... but when people refer to the DH today they do not necessarily mean to refer very narrowly to Wellhausen's hypothesis but to a much larger body of scholarly work that accepts some of Wellhausen's ideas and has long rejected others. Slrubenstein | Talk 16:41, 9 May 2007 (UTC)

By the way, Rav Breuer's ideas sound interesting. based solely on the Wikipedia article, I do not think Kaufman would have agreed with him that God wrote or dictated to Moses the Torah - but I suspect Kaufman woul dhave agreed with Breuer's theology. Put another way: for those who, while rejecting Wellhausen, accept in broad principles the DH, what R (a pun - not Moshe rabbenu but our rav nonetheless, the "redactor" who edited the four sources into one text) was trying to teach us about God is perhaps just what Breuer suggested. However, Kaufmann's main point was that what makes Israelite monotheism different from polytheism is not numbers (one god versus many) but a radically different understanding of God, a God whose primary relationship is not with other gods (as in the mythology of polytheists) but with B'nei Adam in general and B'nei Yisrael in particular. I'd like to read something by R. breuer except the article on him doesn't have a good bibliography. Slrubenstein | Talk 16:46, 10 May 2007 (UTC)

Conservative Judaism[edit]

Hi! I replied to your comment on Talk:Conservative Judaism. Best, --Shirahadasha 21:09, 20 May 2007 (UTC)

Let me reply here to your query. My take on the situation is this. If one honestly believes that the rabbis of the Talmud followed a tradition received from Moses on Mount Sinai, then one is following a similar Rabbinic process if one continues that tradition. But if one honestly believes that the Torah was written by a group of editors, and that the Rabbis made up most of the oral law themselves much later as a reaction to a historical switch from Biblical to classical and medieval condtions, than one is following a similar Rabbinic process if one makes stuff up in what one believes to be a similar fashion as a reaction to a historical switch from classical/medieval to modern conditions. Conservative Rabbi Joel Roth is the proponent of the continuing-the-tradition approach; Rabbi Gordon Tucker appears to be the proponent of the develop-new-midrash-and-then-interpret-the-Torah-midrashically-and-not-literally approach. --Shirahadasha 21:40, 21 May 2007 (UTC)

Rabbi Wolpe and the Exodus[edit]

Hi. I haven't spent a lot of time focusing on Rabbi Wolpe and what he said about the Exodus, but I read a little about it when it was big news. From what I remember, his chief argument was that there is absolutely no tangible evidence (particularly archaeological evidence) of the Exodus. I think he also said that it is unlikely that the entire People of Israel had been liberated from slavery in Egypt, but that there may have been a group of Israelites who had been, and that this had become one of the foundation myths of the Jewish people.

The ancient Egyptians were very good record-keepers, and to date we haven't found any historical mention of the escape/liberation of more than 1,000,000 slaves. Of course the historical record isn't complete; many things have been destroyed, and many remain undiscovered. It's also possible that the Pharaoh who "lost" these slaves might not have included it in a royal history. So I'm not convinced by the absence of archaeological evidence in Egypt.

But I find Wolpe's other argument intriguing. (Not necessarily convincing, but interesting.) In the US, we have the foundation myths of Plymouth Rock and Ellis Island. The ancestors of most Americans living today didn't arrive on the Mayflower, nor did they pass through Ellis Island, but those are stories that we as a country tell about ourselves; they bring us together and tell us who we are. I can believe that a group of people escaped slavery in Egypt and settled in the Land of Israel, and that their tale of liberation from slavery became the foundation myth for the people of that land, the People of Israel.

I realize that this conjecture conflicts significantly with the Biblical account of the origins of the People of Israel. But going back to the archaeological evidence, there isn't a great deal of evidence that supports the account in Joshua that the Israelites violently conquered the land. Based solely on the archaeological evidence, it appears as if the Israelites were natives of the Land of Israel who settled in cities. The idea that these people could have been brought together with a foundation myth of liberation from Egyptian slavery doesn't seem out of the realm of possibility — if one accepts that the Biblical account is not historically accurate.

Keep in mind, though, that this is based on what I read through newspaper and magazine accounts a few years ago, and what I've read in popular archaeological magazines. I don't think I've ever read anything Rabbi Wolpe himself wrote, and so I may be misrepresenting his views. — Malik Shabazz (Talk | contribs) 23:23, 21 May 2007 (UTC)

Reuvein Margolies[edit]

For the sources, would it be possible to list in a format with more of the informaition in WP:CITE? (e.g. author, title, publisher, date of publication, ISBN number). Understand a sefer isn't necessarily published like a standard publication. Having well-described sources would provide a solid foundation and enables another editor to improve from where you leaves things. Best, --Shirahadasha 04:40, 22 May 2007 (UTC)


You have to apply sources for what you add. Crvst 04:14, 27 May 2007 (UTC)


Will do, but next week - I will have very irregular internet access this week. Slrubenstein | Talk 13:19, 23 June 2007 (UTC) Well, I added one sentence to the section on The Prophets. I'd like to see the sections on other books developed - Man is not Alone is notable for providing an autobiographical account (an incident, one day, when AJH had something of an existential crisis) of how Heschel turned to the Divine. What it means to say that the Sabbath is a temple in time could be fleshed out. I personally consider God in Search of Man as his masterpiece, but where to begin? Someone once told me that this is how Heschel wrote books; he wrote distinct thoughts on index cards. When he had a huge enough stack of index cards, he sent it to his editor to have them published as a book. I certainly think any section of GISOM or MINA can be read as an independent essay - and yet, each book really does have its own unique character. I wish I could be more helpful now but i just do not have the time. Slrubenstein | Talk 14:05, 11 July 2007 (UTC)

1.Do you mind looking at my section on divine pathos in the prophet page?

Will do

2. Do you recall Heschel mentioning a dislike of the term Old Testament (implying supercessionism) in an essay in "Moral Grandeur.."? I would like to add it to the Hebrew Bible page.

I do not know this essay. It would not surprise me. I think the point is important and widely shared and I would think that there are other statements we could cite on the rejection of OT and the implication of supercessionism. I would bet that the major US organized religious movements - OU, RA/US, and whatever the Reform Organization is called, may all have statements ... worth looking for (statements by Jewish organizations may carry more weight, for some readers, than statements by individual theologians ... although another place to look would be to see if the JPS english translation of the Tanakh's introduction says anything about this). Where would I find this essay?

4. I've always thought Heschel's essay on pluralism in "No Religion is an Island" to be one of his most important works for the modern age.

Another essay i don't know! Again, where would I find it? Slrubenstein | Talk 11:59, 13 July 2007 (UTC)

Thanks! Slrubenstein | Talk 13:45, 13 July 2007 (UTC)

Thanks for the welcome[edit]

And for the advise Goeie 08:24, 13 July 2007 (UTC)


I think that as long as the other point of view comes from a verifiable source, you can add it. I think there are two more important issues: first, style - I think it is bad form when encyclopedia articles are written like debates (x said a, but y said b) - I love it in the Talmud!! but it is not good style for an encyclopedia article. Second, context: hirsch and graetz were not just two individuals who disagreed. They represented two especially prominent sides (among others) that emerged at a very particular time in jewish history - that is, the time when institutionalized religious communities (whether the Catholic Church over Christians, or the loose organization of rabbinc authorities over Jews) was collapsing, when states were no longer giving organized religion the authority it once had, and when states and universities were encouraging everyone, especially Christians but of course it effected Jews - to break from religious orthodoxy. This led some Jews to break with orthodoxy, it led others to reformulate orthodoxy (just as Catholics responded to the Reformation with the Counter Reformation and new intellectual orders like the Jesuits). NPOV is not just about providing different points of view, it is providing the context (historical, cultural, whatever) to understand why at that time people held those different views.

I think these two issues have the same solution: instead of providing contrasting views between graetz (or anyone else) and Hirsch (or anyone else) concerning a specific sugya or Tanna or whatever, lay out the major distinct ways Jews began rereading the Talmud and Jewish historical sources in the 19th century - introduce the debate, then lay out each side separately and do full justice to each. I think this organization will accommodate what you want to do, but more effectively than just going through (for example - I am not saying this is what you were intending to do necessarily) and for every claim that came from Graetz or someone similar inserting an opposing view. Does this make sense? Slrubenstein | Talk 14:04, 14 July 2007 (UTC)

I think your summary of the the difference between the two points of view is concise and accurate. I have three suggestions: first, work on a section in the Talmud article on the emergence of these two points of view. I realize there is a presumed continuity between Hirsch's view and that of scholars before the Haskalah, but Hirsche was not just arguing for one view, he was arguing against another view. I think the Talmud article needs better coverage of this debate. Second, in covering the debate in the Talmud article I would look to include other major scholars. For example, I know that in the 20th century there were Talmud scholars who basically took the view of Graetz and Fraenkel, but whose work was much more sphisticated (but I do not know their names); I assume too that in the 20th century there have ben neo-Orthodox or Modern Orthodox followers of Hirsch who shared his assumptions and yet added new insightsinto the Talmud. Third, I would include your brief summary of the debate (as you put it on my talk page) in any article you consider appropriate, with a link to the section of the Talmud article that gives a fuller account of contemporary views/conflicts over how to view the Talmud, among Jewish scholars. Slrubenstein | Talk 13:25, 15 July 2007 (UTC)

Cassuto and MA[edit]

Hi Wolf. I don't think Cassuto belongs in the MA article - he never held the opinion that Moses had any hand in the composition of the Torah, at least so far as I'm aware. His challenge to the Wellhausen Empire concerned mode of composition (a "fragmentary" model rather than a documentary one) and date, not authorship. As the Cassuto article points out, his willingness to entertain a non-documentary model has been vindicated by later developments, but his dating has not.

I think (and this is just a hunch) that what erally motivated Cassuto's opposition to Wellhausen was Wellhausen's agenda: W. was arguing that the Mosaic law was a creation of the Persian exile, and that Judaism itself was therefore contingent, i.e., came into existence because of specific and quite accidental events in history; and if the Jews were not God's chosen, but the accidental legatees of specific historical circumstances, then they could take control of their collective and individual destiny and stop being Jewish! This subtext is implicit in the Prolegomena (which is about the historical circumstances in which P was written, rather than about the identity of all four sources) and much more explicit in his contribution to the Encyclopedia Brittanica article on Israel (I think the 9th edition). Cassuto, I believe, found this deeply offensive (he should have!) and so redated the entire Torah to the Solomonic age in an attempt to show that the Jews were always Jews.

PiCo 02:29, 11 August 2007 (UTC)

If your reading of Cassuto leads you to the conclusion that he supported Mosaic authorship (in the strict sense - that Moses wrote the Torah, or was in some other way directly responsible for its present form), then by all means put it in the MA article. But this link (which seems to be somebody's lecture notes!) puts him with Kikawada and Quinn (I have no idea who they are) as "Those who do not argue for Mosaic authorship" while still totally rejecting the DH. It also lists some scholars who do argue for Mosaic authorship - you might get some more leads to follow up there.
You might also like to read this very long article by Raymond Surberg - again I've never heard of him before, but he seems very thorough - it contains a very good history of the DH before and after Wellhausen. Among other things it notes that the importance of Wellhausen lay in his secular approach to religion - this brings us to your mention of Wellhausen's so-called anti-Semitism: I think he was simply anti-religious: the Jews could stop being Jewish, the Christians could stop being Christian, because the scriptures of both were contingent on history, which is to say, on the accidents of time and events. Many secular Jews of his day held the same opinion, as did many Christians. So be careful if you wish to call him anti-Semitic - I feel it misrepresents his agenda, which was secularist rather than racist.
It was Cassuto's misfortune to make his criticims of the DH at the wrong time - a decade or two later and he would have had an impact, but in 1941 (I think it was) the time was not ripe, and so had no influence.
Thanks for telling me that others agree with my theory on Abraham's name - how nice! :).


PiCo 15:43, 14 August 2007 (UTC)


Concerning your recent edit: I am not sure if you know this, but in one of his epistles (I think) Paul puts down all Pharisees as being snakes (a verse Christian anti-Semites seixed upon). But perhaps you see this, he was actually quoting Pirke Avoth! I would modify your point that it isn't that just some individuals Pharisees really may have been hypocrites, but that Pharisees enjoyed arguing among themselves (indeed, thought that in so doing they were immitating God and Moshe in heaven) and that as a consequence could be very self-critical of themselves ... maybe this willingness to be self-critical is not a vice but a virtue! Slrubenstein | Talk 14:49, 11 August 2007 (UTC)

I misremembered. It is Avot 2:6, but it is a simile, the hiss (of the sages) is like the hiss of vipers. And it wasn't Paul (who was definitely a Pharisee until he became a Christian), it was Jesus himself in Matthew 23:3 who compares the sages to serpents. But I think my general point still stands: amidst all the honor the Pharisees had for themselves and one another was a certain skepticism (not about God or Torah, just about people, about themselves) and capapcity for self-criticism. Jesus according to the Gospels argued wtih Pharisees and criticized Pharisees. I think it is possible for a Jew who has studied Talmud and all the arguments between the house of Hillel and house of Shammai (where they often taught opposite things), and who recalls Avoth 2:6, to look at Jesus debating Pharisees and conclude, it is precisely because he debates the Pharisees that may mean he himself was a Pharisees, because sages argue with one another over Torah. But goyim who have never studied (or who do not understand) the Talmud see in argument only rejection and conclude tha Jesus was rejecting Torah and the Sages. I have no doubt that Paul believed he was still accepting Torah but was definitely rejecting the teaching of the Pharisees and Tanaaim. But Jesus (who lived over a hundred years before the Mishnah was compiled) - well, we (meaning people in general, people in the West, people brought up in Christian dominated societies) have this image of Jesus as someone who rejected the Pharisees in toto and I think that view is wrong. Christianity is a dogmatic religion and much of the history of Christianity involves disputes between orthodox Christians and heretics. Now, I know Judaism too recognizes heretics and is against heresy (minim) but I see the Talmud as a document that teaches us how to, and encourages us, to question and debate ... yes, within limits, but still wihin those limits argument is good, argument is a way of learning. I wonder if, at the time he lived, Jesus was arguing within those limits. Slrubenstein | Talk 11:07, 12 August 2007 (UTC)
Well, even if I am correct, I know I was oversimplifying - your points are well-taken. Especially, "the accuracy of the transmission of Jesus's teachings in the Gospels is dubious being as Jesus wasn't even alive when they were written." There is no way to be sure but i believe that even if Jesus debated Pharisees, his interactions were nowhere nearly as harsh as portrayed in the Gospels, whose authors had an incentive to distance Jesus as much as possible from the Pharisees. Slrubenstein | Talk 15:50, 12 August 2007 (UTC)

Cassuto and DH[edit]

I cannot answer your question about Cassuto: I know that he was critical of the documentary hypothesis and I believe that he believed in a revelation at Sinai but I do not think he was orthodox. It has been many years since I read him. He has a short book, The Documentary Hypotheses, 8 lectures I think if you read it understanding it is largely a criticism of Wellhausen and not of what today's scholars, working in that tradition, (i.e. post Y. Kauffman) believe, you might enjoy it. About Wellhausen being an anti-Semite, the best thing I can tell you is, avoid NOR and look for reliable verifiable sources. If there are well-known leaders of the Jewish community who called him an anti-semite, you can quote them but provide context. Personally (and I insist, my opinion - like yours - does not count in articles) I suspect he was as much an anti-Semite as most educated non-Jews. I do not think he ever supported any legal discrimination against Jews (but who knows I could be wrong) but I am sure he believed his religion to be better than Judaism, just as many Jews today believe their religion to be better than Wellhausen's. Slrubenstein | Talk 18:15, 14 August 2007 (UTC)

Amatlei Bas Karnebo[edit]

You mentioned that this was the name of Abraham's mother and that it had been found to be a name in Sumerian times. I am interested in following up on this as I can find no Sumerian called Amatlei Bas Karnebo (linguistically it looks very un-Sumerian too). Do you have a reference? John D. Croft 02:11, 22 August 2007 (UTC)

Happy New Year[edit]

Thank you, and a gut yontif to you too! Slrubenstein | Talk 19:17, 12 September 2007 (UTC)


Interesting stuff on the Pharisees and their critics. By the way, many people think that Yeshu in the Talmud is not Jesus, or have different interpretations of that material, see Yeshu. Slrubenstein | Talk 15:20, 24 September 2007 (UTC)

David Weiss HaLivni[edit]

If there's no other reference then by all means use the 2nd Jewish encyclopedia, although I can't imagine there wouldn't be review articles and articles discussing trends in the field and the like. Also, the current David Weiss HaLivni article says nothing at all about this; it has an "impact" section which is limited to the Jewish Theological Seminary. If you have time, perhaps you could add information (sourced, of course) about his impact on the broader world of academic Talmud scholarship and perhaps add a sentence or two to the intro paragraph summarizing what makes him important. --Shirahadasha 00:29, 26 September 2007 (UTC)

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Definitive source for HaLivni's importance[edit]

I seem to recall there is some sort of index that tracks citations. I think your point could be made quite easily by examining who is citing him and how often. Egfrank 06:59, 3 October 2007 (UTC)

I wish I remembered the name. Back when I was an undergrad (oh about 20 years ago) the Princeton librarian gave a group of us freshman a tour and pointed out a reference that tracked citation counts by author. In more recent years, some of my academic friends have been in the practice of monitoring their citation counts so I suspect there is a modern equivalent. Never being much interested in that sort of thing, I never marked the name. I try to ask around and when I find out I'll let you know. If you have a connection to a university or at least walk-in access to one, you might try asking the librarian. If you find out before me, I'd be grateful if you would pass it on. Kol tuv, Egfrank 05:21, 7 October 2007 (UTC)

Abraham Geiger[edit]

I do plan to do some work on the German Reform Movement over the next few weeks, and yes, I have sources available (Jerusalem campus of HUC, for starters, and possibily others (Hebrew University, Machon Scheter, Conservative Yeshiva on an as needed basis). However, my time is limited and the changes may be slow in the happening, so please go ahead and add whatever material you have. Egfrank 05:05, 7 October 2007 (UTC)

Louis Jacobs[edit]

Thank you for your comments. I don't think Jacobs anywhere gave any indication of which (if any) parts of the Torah he thought might have been non-Sinaiac. His argument - that revelation is revelation either way - is carefully constructed so as to be applicable whether all or none of it was delivered to Moses.Smerus 07:03, 7 October 2007 (UTC)

re: shalom[edit]

Shavua` tov. I did not intend to disparage Luzzatto, at least not too harshly. I don't regard him as authoritative on many subjects, especially where it comes to some of his criticism of the Rambam and his, in my view, undeserved, attacks against ibn Ezra. If [this particular] Luzzatto really said that Melkitzedeq was a pagan (using that word), he's pretty clearly making stuff up out of thin air, since there isn't a shred of evidence to support such an assertion. Even if he were a henotheist (an assertion for which there is equally scant evidence), describing him as a "pagan", in and of itself, calls into serious question anything else Luzzato might have to say on the subject. These personal sentiments of mine, however, have no bearing on my editing, especially not with respect to the etymology of the word shalom.

What Luzzato's views may have been regarding the personal religion of Melchizedek may perhaps make for interesting reading, but the assertion that was being made in that particular section of the "shalom" article is that the word "shalom" came from the name of the Ugaritic god "Shalim", and that the proof of this is that so-and-so thinks that the name of Jerusalem came from this same god. I think we can both agree that this "proof" is patent nonsense, and I'm inclined to suspect that Luzzatto would concur.

In any case, bickering about Luzzatto is really a side-issue, since Luzzatto never said anything about the word "shalom" originating from the name of the Ugaritic god of dusk, which is the only topic I was attempting to cover on the WP:JEW talkpage. Kol tov, Tomertalk 03:17, 21 October 2007 (UTC)

Heh. I didn't even read what you wrote in Hebrew until now, sorry. That said, I don't know that Jupiter as "papa god" really qualifies as an accurate example of henotheism. Jupiter was certainly top of the heap in terms of the hierarchy of the Roman pantheon, but worship of Jupiter was, in many brands of Roman religion, eclipsed by worship of other dieties, especially local deities. In your quote however, nor in the Shalim article, I don't see any evidence to support Luzzatto's assertion that Shalim was at the top of any pantheon (i.e., as "el `elyon"), nor do I take away from it anything but idle speculation that Shalem might have been analogous to Jupiter of the Greeks [sic] and Romans.
As for his rationale in slamming the Rambam, I think he would have better spent his time slamming the Reform for their complete dishonesty in the way they abused the Rambam's writings to justify their epikorsuth. Regarding ibn Ezra, I think a far better target of Shadal's wrath would have been Ramban, whose writings were much more obviously not the product of a scientific mind.
OK, that's enough pontification from me for one night. Kol tov, Tomertalk 04:41, 21 October 2007 (UTC)
Luzzatto was a typical Victorian Romantic, hence his preference for moving away from universalistic rationalism ("Atticism") towards authentic national tradition and emotion. In this way he was very like the medieval anti-Maimonists, and could be regarded as a precursor to Abraham Kook. Funnily enough though, he couldn't stand Kabbalah. --Sir Myles na Gopaleen (the da) 12:57, 16 November 2007 (UTC)

The Bible and history[edit]

Yes, you are right and I was wrong. Nevertheless, I'm not happy with the shape of the article. I don't think it serves any useful purpose to talk about whether any individual incident or book is historical. What the article should talk about is: (1) the origins of the bible, meaning who wrote it and when - and the answer haas to be, we don't know, really, not with certainty, but there are a range of opinions, some more widely held than others. Then (2), what can we learn from the bible about early Israel? The answer to that is more interesting: a lot about religious beliefs, about the origins of Israel as a people, about society and social change over time. To me this is far more interesting than whether David did or did not steal Bathsheba or fight Goliath. But I'm not really erady to do this yet. Someday. How are your studies going? PiCo 05:36, 21 October 2007 (UTC)

Your addition to Abraham Geiger[edit]

Can you identify your source with a footnote? Your edit comment says it is sourced and I'm sure it is, but none of us can evaluate it since we don't have a citation. Thanks, Egfrank 15:20, 21 October 2007 (UTC)

A thousand apologies but I did not realize that your 'blood libel' reference was sourced. I have been quite busy editing Geiger, Jacobson, etc. for POV and immediately thought it was a non-cited attack. Bring it back with the reference clear. Best, A Sniper 10:25, 21 October 2007 (UTC)

Geiger and Zunz[edit]

I think we have to be very careful reading the current structure of Judaism back into the time of Geiger and Zunz. Geiger too was against separatist movements, at least according to Michael Meyers reading of his personal correspondence. (see footnote in Abraham Geiger article for reference). Meyers makes the point that the 19th century saw a reforming movement that includes Samson Hirsch, Samuel Holdheim and everyone in between. Eventually these coalesced into distinct rabbinical and congregational associations, schools, scholarships, and philosophy, but that was later.

The association between thinker and "stream" of Judaism I think comes very much after the fact. Orthodox and conservatives like to claim Hirsch because he provides a way to have a philosophical dialog with modernity while still embracing Jewish particularity and tradition. American Reform Jews and UK liberals like to claim Geiger and Holdheim because they made bold moves in liturgical reform and give philosophical grounding to a radical reinvention of Judaism. As for Zunz, Jacobs, Jastrow, and others - preferences come and go. Conservative and Progressive Jews interested in Halakhah very much need Zunz and Jacobs because both (along with many others) openned the way for a structured dialog between historical criticism of text, modern sensibilities and the traditional halakhic process.

The non-halakhic re-embracing of tradition and Jewish particularity currently spreading across Reconstructionist, Renewal, and Progressive movements would also be impossible without Zunz et al. The thought of Abraham Joshua Heschel, the existentialist, and Mordechai Kaplan, the transvaluing "volkist", have both figured greatly in this non-halakhic revival. Neither could have developed their methods of assigning meaning to tradition without the critical analysis of tradition that Zunz et al. introduced. Egfrank 05:07, 26 October 2007 (UTC)

I have moved our discussion to Wikipedia:WikiProject Progressive Judaism#Abraham Geiger and Leopold Zunz so that others interested in this topic can participate. I've also notified User:A Sniper of the discussion. He was responsible for the line you wish to edit. Shavuah Tov, Egfrank 16:09, 27 October 2007 (UTC)

Help requested[edit]

A new section has been added to Progressive Judaism to discuss the intellectual history of the progressive movement. The discussion I think needs some nuanced exploration of the thinkers. Your contributions would be more than welcome. Kol tuv, Egfrank 15:13, 28 October 2007 (UTC)

Good to have you back[edit]

Hope your real world time has been fruitful. I was missing seeing your edits. Good to see you back. Egfrank 08:08, 9 November 2007 (UTC)

External Attacks on the Talmud[edit]

Do you think that we can break out this section and place it in a stand alone article? It is, in my opinion, too lengthy and somewhat awkward as is. I propose to break it out as a new article, and just leave a short paragraph linking to the new article. Alternatively, I think this whole section needs to be edited and re-thought. Before I make any changes, I hope you will let me know your thoughts.Guedalia D'Montenegro 14:54, 9 November 2007 (UTC)

Thanks for responding. I am afraid to get into a detailed discussion regarding these "criticisms" in the article itself (which is one reason I propose a seperate article). Such criticisms do exist, but I think to go through every possible one, would be lengthy, contentious, and ultimately distracting from the article itself. This article, while still having a ways to go, has gotten much better over the past year - it would be a shame to let it fall into dissaray by introducing controversy. I feel that this whole section could be made much shorter. I will work on it over the weekend and see what happens.Guedalia D'Montenegro 17:23, 9 November 2007 (UTC)

Enuma Elish[edit]

I'd be delighted if you'd join in the Enuma Elish page. The translation is not mine, of course - it's from Richard Elliott Friedman. My general understanding of the grammar of the passage comes from Harry Orlinski's notes, but Orlinski's translation (the revised JPS bible) isn't available to me. Orlinski also quotes Rashi's suggestion as follows: "At the beginning of the creation of heaven and earth, when the earth was (or the earth being) unformed and void . . .", which is very like Friedman (and, incidentally, very like Young's Literal Translation, which you might also like to turn your editing attentions to). The general sense of all of them is that verses 1 to 3 are describing the state of the world at the point when Creation began, saying in effect, This is what the heavens and earth were like when God began his work. PiCo 03:47, 11 November 2007 (UTC)

Have a good weekend. I'll be busy myself for the next month, so won't be doing too much on Wiki. Thanks for that long quote from EJ, it seems to say exactly what needs to be said on parallels between EE and the bible. I can't say I'm impressed by the Ex Nihilo Creation page, though - I don't trust arguments abt the OT based on quotes from the NT, since I don't recognise any particular authority for NT writers, and I find that particular article rather uninformed in general (e.g., it uses the word "logic"when in fact it means metaphysics). PiCo 04:23, 11 November 2007 (UTC)

Shev Shema'tata[edit]

You don't need my permission, I don't own the article!

Seriously, you are welcome to "be bold" (in Wiki-speak) and add your own summaries, provided that they can be sourced in the sefer itself and are not just speculation. Now, my own comparisons with Catholic and Muslim sources no doubt are original research! --Sir Myles na Gopaleen (the da) (talk) 10:23, 19 November 2007 (UTC)

Mosaic authorship[edit]

Yes, I want to help! I think this article, and the point of view it seeks to express are of the highest importance. Even the Christian Testament bases its authority on its specific interpretation of the eternal authority of Moses. Obviously Moses didn't write about his own death (though some have claimed even that). However, the Bible does claim Moses as author, and it's integrity in this matter can, and has, been defended on rational, not simply dogmatic lines. I have personal constraints in allocating my time at the moment. I'm sorry, but it will probably be about a month until I can assist. I will not forget, and your request for help will stay on my talk page to remind me. The main thing is building a bibliography of reliable sources that argue for Mosaic authorship. I will have access to many Christian, and some Jewish sources when I finally have time to join you. I will add the page to my watch list immediately, so there is a sympathetic editor in case of debates. Shalom, v'kol tuv. Alastair Haines (talk) 05:23, 25 November 2007 (UTC)

I've read several essays and other works by Kitchen, and trust his knowledge and stance. I've not read him on Mosaic authorship, however. :( I think you're onto a notable and reliable source with Kitchen. I'm a non-defensive conservative about the Bible, btw. In other words, I think it is important and valuable to interpretation to consider plausible alternatives, in fact, it's irresponsible not to do so; but I'm slow to accept revisions to received wisdom. A corollary of this is that I think, in Jewish-Christian dialogue, the New Testament rightly accepts responsibility to shoulder a burden of proof regarding its interpretation of the Tanakh. Historically, imo, most Christians are hopeless and many Jews are generous in such dialogue.
Anyway, I'm getting a glimpse of good work from you personally at Wiki. Please teach me and us more about reliable sources on Mosaic authorship. The Bible is very personal, names are named, sometimes for reasons that are more about personal trustworthiness than historicity (genealogies for a start, Solomon's Song in all likelihood also). But names are never given lightly, and historicity is an explicit issue in many places in the Tanakh. Jewish traditions in textual and historical transmission are simply awesome, to this very day.
I think I feel you personally weigh these things appropriately. Congratulations also on your collegiate approach to sharing knowledge. I have very limited areas of knowledge, but I love and articulate a collaborative approach to learning, if ever you think I can help, please ask, sorry in advance for any disappointment I may, however, be. Cheers. Alastair Haines (talk) 03:44, 19 May 2008 (UTC)


Wikipro.JPG The Jewish Barnstar
I saw you discussing why you reject DH on the talk page of DH. I found out from your user page that you made many edits to the zohar article showing how it was written earlier than some claim. For this I give you the Jewish barnstar --Java7837 (talk) 23:17, 9 December 2007 (UTC)

I posted a couple reasons why DH is wrong on their talk page for example the finding of a torah fragment, centuries before the time the torah was said to have been redacted according to the documentary hypothesis, dating to 600BCE though some claim 725 BCE, also the fact that Wellhausen who helped formulate the final form of DH may have had an anti-semitic bias--Java7837 (talk) 23:17, 9 December 2007 (UTC)


Please respond to Bikinibomb's comments about figs and Judaism here, thanks Slrubenstein | Talk 00:52, 1 January 2008 (UTC)

Jews and Jesus[edit]

Hey, I was out for long weekend. I am afraid i just do not have the time right now to review all the talk. I skimmed it and I think that the real issue is this: unlike Christian churches, Judaism has no central authority and so there is no real official Jewish view on anything. As a Jew I am proud of this difference, but I think non-Jews (and some Jews) just do not get it. But it means that there are only Jewish viewS of Jesus, no one official "view."

Some editors favor limiting authoritative statements about Judaism to the Talmud and Rishonim. I personally favor the inclusion of a wide array of informed jewish views even if they are voiced by someone who has no institutional authority. But i am usually on the losing side of this argument!Slrubenstein | Talk 17:54, 21 May 2008 (UTC)

WikiProject Judaism Newsletter[edit]

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Happy holidays[edit]

Glad to see you're still around. All the best with your studies and with the coming year. PiCo (talk) 04:49, 19 December 2008 (UTC)


When you have a chance, can you check out this article and i you see NPOV or NOR problems, comment as appropriate? Thanks, Slrubenstein | Talk 19:41, 27 January 2009 (UTC)

Re: Amber Witch[edit]

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Blast? (not exactly...) from the past[edit]

Greetings and Shalom! Just wanted to tell you (not knowing how you would otherwise be notified) I finally responded to your kind message of 18 May 2008.DThrax (talk) 16:55, 22 December 2009 (UTC)

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