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יום שלישי, 11 באוגוסט 2009

about this Blog

Since much of the JBlogosphere is occurring in English (see the blogs referenced in the side bar). I decided to translate some of the posts, should someone stumble upon this blog.
The blog heading cites a Talmudic discussion (Baba Kama 46b):
the Sages say that the burden of proof is upon the plaintiff.
Said R. Shmuel b. Na'hmani: Whence is this rule deduced? From [Exodus 24]: "Whoever may have any cause to be decided, let him come unto them." That means, he shall produce proof before them.
R. Ashi opposed: Why is a verse necessary? Is it not common-sense…
The Sages ruled that whoever has a claim (money or property) on his fellow man, has to produce proof to substantiate that claim (that's the burden of proof).
Rabbi Shmuel bar Na'hmani tries to bring support for that principle by quoting a Torah verse.
Rav Ashi assaults the very approach that common-sense principles even require any proof from scripture.
Literally R. Ashi said: "why do I require scripture? It is common-sense!".
In Hebrew: lama li kra? sevarah hu! (hence the blog's name)
This concise Talmudic passage captures, in my opinion, the constant tension within Judaism between the two sources of knowledge: Revelation (scripture –"kra") and human reasoning or intelligence ("sevarah").
Throughout the ages Jews have asked:
  • What is a revelation and what is its purpose?
  • Is revelation still relevant today?
  • Does revelation make reason redundant?
  • What is the difference between revelation and any other human experience?
  • Can the Torah and its Commandments be understood via human intelligence?
In the last generation I saw that Rabbi Eliezer Berkovits (REB) has tackled these questions. Much of what is written in this blog is inspired by his writings.

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וְהַחָכְמָה, מֵאַיִן תִּמָּצֵא; וְאֵי זֶה, מְקוֹם בִּינָה.
אֱלֹהִים, הֵבִין דַּרְכָּהּ; וְהוּא, יָדַע אֶת-מְקוֹמָהּ.
אָז רָאָהּ, וַיְסַפְּרָהּ; הֱכִינָהּ, וְגַם-חֲקָרָהּ.
וַיֹּאמֶר, לָאָדָם--הֵן יִרְאַת אֲדֹנָי, הִיא חָכְמָה; וְסוּר מֵרָע בִּינָה. (איוב כח')