Here’s another post about the “The Return of The Kosher Pig.” (TROTKP)
From the onset let me make it clear that these posts are not for the purpose of debating the conclusions the author of TROTKP has come to with regards to a divine messiah.
The sole purpose is to bring to light the elementary mistakes made by the author of TROTKP.
A separate review will be published to demonstrate the complete idiocy of the totality of the book.
“Splitting” is a psychological term used to describe a the behavior of someone who attempts to stabilize their sense of self positively in order to preserve their self-esteem, by perceiving themselves as purely upright or admirable and others who do not conform to their will or values as wicked or contemptible. It also implies the use of other related defense mechanisms, namely alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation.
We will unfortunately encounter a lot of “splitting” in the book TROTKP.
When the author of TROTKP concludes that a rabbinic author supports his thesis, that rabbinic author becomes highly respected in the eyes of the author of TROTKP. When, however, the author of TROTKP disagrees with that same rabbinic author, then that rabbinic author becomes the target of shameless character assassination.
Let me provide one example.
On page 53 the author singles out Rashi to be among the 7 rabbis (to be mentioned by name) from who he has “gained much understanding” and has “grown to love the words” of, and whom he considers to be “precious” and a “rabbinic giant”.
I have no doubt that the author truly feels this way about Rashi (when he believes that Rashi helps his case.)
However, in cases where the author of TROTKP disagrees with Rashi the author misrepresents Rashi and, in effect, portrays Rashi in a bad light to his readers.
(This doesn’t only occur with Rashi, this is common practice in TROTKP.)
What amazes me is that after consistently accusing the rabbis of intellectual dishonesty and accusing them of having “elected to go against the words of the Torah itself and the Prophets” the author STILL believes that he has tremendous respect for Chazal!)
On page 45 the author of TROTKP writes:
“In the Talmud we read the following account in Brachot 28b:
Our Rabbis taught: When R. Eliezer fell ill, his disciples went in to visit him. They said to him: Master, teach us the paths of life so that we may through them win the life of the future world. He said to them: Be solicitous for the honor of your colleagues, and keep your children from meditation.”
The author continues “In his commentary on this passage, the great Jewish commentator Rashi explains, to our great surprise, that the reading of the Hebrew Scriptures is “not a good habit.” In essence, Rashi is stating here that there is a negative impact to being immersed in the Word of God. He states that were not to give our children too much of the Scriptures!”
Hoping to preempt any suggestions that the author of TROTKP misunderstood Rashi’s comment, he continues to write “Since Rashi uses the word mikrah here, he is clearly referring to the Hebrew Scriptures and not to any other foreign documents.” (In other words, Rashi emphatically advocates against “being immersed in Scripture.”)
Now, the author of TROTKP would have his readers believe 1. That he understood the passage in the Talmud. 2. That he understood Rashi’s comments. 3. That he is presenting the reader with an accurate presentation of both the account that appears in the Talmud and Rashi’s commentary on it. And thus 4. That he is correct in asserting that the rabbis quoted here have a “negative tone against the Holy Tanach” (making them enemies of the Tanach).
In this post I will be cross-examining all 4 points.
I hope to provide the reader with a correct understanding of the sources that were misquoted in TROTKP and thereby show how incredibly inept the author of TROTKP is in quoting from Rabbinic sources.
Please remember that to disprove a claim takes more time than to make one, and for the sake of the reader I have tried to break it down as much as possible so that everyone can understand, so please forgive me for the length of this post.
1. Ignoring the fact that author of TROTKP uses an inferior translation of the talmud, the author of TROTKP fails to quote the FULL account of what appears in the Talmud! As the saying goes “half a truth is a whole lie!” as I hope to demonstrate.
2. In note 78 on page 45 the author attempts to quote the Rashi in the Hebrew. When going to the original, however, one will discover that author does NOT quote rashi in FULL.
Note 78 reads as follows:
“His (Rashi’s) exact words לא תרגילום במקרא יותר include the word “Mikrah,” which refers to the Scriptures.”
Shockingly, the quote of Rashi as it appears in note 78 literally means “do not accustom them in Scripture any more” which completely CHANGES what Rashi ACTUALLY says! Like I said before “half a truth is a whole lie!”
Rashi’s comment appears in the original as follows:
לא תרגילום במקרא יותר מדאי משום דמשכא, which I will translate and explain shortly.
The context in which this talmudic passage appears, is a discussion about the extreme concern of the sages that no mishap (with regard to studying and teaching of Torah) come about through them.
In this context the Talmud brings a number of incidences in which we find great sages speaking with their students and (among other things) giving them practical advice on how to prevent potential pitfalls (with regards to the studying and teaching of Torah) and thus meriting a place in the world to come.
The Talmud thus relates, that when his students came to visit him asking him to teach them the “paths of life” so that they may merit the world to come, R’ Eliezer felt it necessary to warn them of the following things:
1. Be very careful with the honor of your colleagues.
2. Restrain your children from “Higayon” (you will soon see what this means)
3. Place them “between the knees” of Torah Scholars.
4. When you pray, know before Whom you stand.
Understanding Rashi’s Function
In order to appreciate Rashi’s commentary to the Talmud one must understand the function it serves.
In a broad sense Rashi attempts to “fill in the gaps” where he feels the student may find it hard to understand the meaning of the text.
Rashi quotes the word/words that need clarifying and offers his understanding of that quote as a possible explanation.
Back to our Passage
In this case Rashi quotes the word “Higayon” that appears in the second teaching of R’ Eliezer and interprets R’ Elizer’s comment “prevent your children from “Higayon” to mean that (and here I will provide you with a correct translation of Rashi) “one should not accustom children with the recitation of Scripture more than appropriate, since it can draw them [the children]” [away from studying the Oral Torah which requires more effort to understand due to it’s complex nature.]
Accordingly, R’ Eliezer is teaching his students that it would be a mistake to allow children to preoccupy ALL of their time with the study of Scripture ALONE.
You see, Judaism teaches that in order to live as G-d wants, one cannot suffice themselves with studying Scripture ALONE as it would not provide enough detailed instruction for daily living. The study of Scripture must be accompanied with it’s oral interpretation as well as learning from the lives and conduct of the revered and righteous members of the Jewish community.
(I don’t intend to debate whether this is correct or not, I’m merely stating this to help the reader understand what the Talmud and Rashi are ACTUALLY saying here.)
After reading all of this you hopefully understand WHY it is crucial to quote the full account that details what R’ Eliezer taught his student. Failure to do so is a complete misrepresentation.
R’Eliezer did NOT stop where the author of TROTKP ends his quote from the Talmud. R’ Eliezer actually goes on to recommend that the child’s time be dedicated to having them sit at the feet of Torah Scholars.
Once you are presented with the FULL context you will hopefully see that both R’ Eliezer AND Rashi are NOT saying that “the reading of the Hebrew Scriptures is “not a good habit.” or that “there is a negative impact to being immersed in the Word of God.”
Thus we can conclude that the author of TROTKP has 1. Misunderstood the passage in the Talmud. 2. Misunderstood Rashi’s comments. and as a result 3. misrepresented both R’ Eliezer and Rashi as having a negative attitude towards Scripture when IN CONTEXT they are speaking about the possible pitfalls of being immersed in Scripture ALONE without any other accompanying study.
Hopefully, people with a bit of common sense will recognize that Rashi didn’t invest himself in writing and publishing a detailed commentary to Tanach only to suggest that no one should immerse themselves in the study of Tanach! In fact, Rashi in Kiddushin 30a explicitly teaches that one should dedicate a third of ones Torah study time to studying the Scriptures!
To disagree with Rashi is not a crime, but to misquote and misrepresent Rashi and thus portray him in a negative light is!