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Re: orion List Moderator

At 15:08 27/07/97 -0700, Martin Jaffee wrote:
>not halakhah lemosheh misinai): The terms "Oral Torah" and "Written
>Torah" are juriprudential concepts native to rabbinic Judaism, whereby

I thought this had been ended.  Clearly not.  An end applies to everyone

"Whereby"s notwithstanding, Jaffee's definition de convenance of 'Written
Torah" as a concept "native to rabbinic Judaism," fails in that it implies
that the rest of Judaism either didn't have written Torah or had some
different written Torah for which there is no evidence, no substantiation,
and no precedence.

Acknowledging the existence of what he calls an "interpretive tradition" --
which I've been calling Torah sheba'al peh / Oral Torah, *explicitly*
specifying this did NOT equate to the rabbinic halakhah -- Jaffee has yet to
grasp that he has made the point I've been trying to make for a long while.

As for his definitions, he should listen to Baumgarten, someone who HAS
grasped the problem I've been trying to convey.  Jaffee can offer no
substantiation that his "rabbinic Oral Torah" was non-existent until dreamed
up in rabbinic Judaism mutually exclusive of what he terms "interpretive
tradition."  Can he substantiate for us that there was no connection between
the 'Oral Torah' of the rabbis and the wider, earlier, and more general
'Oral Torah' he prefers to call "interpretive tradition"?  Or does he imply,
and would then demonstrate, that "interpretive tradition" derives from
non-Torah origins?  "Interpretive tradition" of what?  Pyramid glyphs?  So
it's Torah tradition.  And it's unwritten.  Since Jaffee insists it can't be
"Oral Torah" perhaps he thinks it's Torah shesemaphor -- "Semaphore Torah"?
Perhaps he would substantiate for us the existence of the Hebrew basis he
insists can only be understood as "interpretive tradition" which is neither
written nor unwritten and was mutually exclusive of the Hebrew terms in the
historical record?  Surely if he argues that "Oral Torah" cannot be
retrojected because it's anachronistic, how much moreso is a 1990s English
phrase anachronistic and, unsubstantiated from any Hebrew derivation.  The
bottom line is that he acknowledges that "interpretive tradition" existed
among all of these sects, while failing to grasp that's what I've been
arguing from the start.

>century or so) it was claimed that this OT was Sinaitic in origin and

Please substantiate for us the alternative origin you argue -- mutually
exclusive from Har Sinai -- for what you prefer to call "interpretive

>	It is in my view anachronistic to retroject either OT or WT back
>into Secondd Temple times. 

I fully understand what Jaffee communicates by his definitions.  I wouldn't
retroject anachronistically either.  But neither would I mangle definitions
and logic to accomplish this.  Despite the superficial technical look he has
engendered by the terminology, logically speaking there's nothing remotely
advanced, much less difficult, about it.  (By contrast, he has demonstrated
that he hasn't remotely grasped what I've been writing.)  Jaffee's
tunnel-like definitions are neither substantiated nor defensible.  While the
rabbis significantly filtered what they accepted as Torah sheba'al peh
through their own perspective, as did the other two sects through their
respective perspectives, that doesn't justify imposing definitions which
exclude ANY of the three versions of Torah sheba'al peh from the earlier and
more general tradition, or Torah shebikhtav their predecessors shared
anymore than one can exclude horses from animals.  It doesn't get any more
rudimentary than this.  Until Jaffee can substantiate from the historical
record his Hebrew basis corresponding to his "interpretive tradition" there
is no justification for even *beginning* to define "oral law" as mutually
exclusive from the "interpretive tradition" he acknowledges.

>There is no evidence anywhere in that period
>of: 1. the idea of a Sinaitic unwritten revelation; 

A) "So ALL Second Temple Jewish groups would have had Scripture and
tradition as an interactive complex."  Thank you Dr. Jaffee, for the point
I've been trying to make for weeks.  So *an* unwritten "interpretive
supplement" existed.  Then...
B) Since the written complement specifies Sinaitic origin, the onus is
therefore on Jaffee to demonstrate (not merely suggest, assert or insist) a
different and mutually exclusive origin for the "interpretive complement"
(or both), explaining why it would contradict the written complement
regarding its origins.  And since he holds that the "interpretive
complement" isn't related to Sinai like the written complement specifies,
this includes demonstrating, in contradiction to his own definitions, either
that at Sinai no "interpretive complement" accompanied the written
complement or, that the "interpretive complement" from Sinai is mutually
exclusive from the "interpretive tradition" he acknowledges.  In other
words, Jaffee's definitions de convenance are inherently oxymoronic and
nothing more than illogical obfuscation giving an excuse to argue that the
"oral law" didn't exist while avoiding, by the ploy of a different term, his
own acknowledgement that it did.  "Oral Law" didn't exist, but <unwritten
interpretation of the Law> did exist.  Back to "Semaphore Law."  Also
contrary to Dr. Jaffee's remarks, I have never represented or in any way
implied (I stated explicitly to the contrary, in fact), that the rabbinic
interpretation of this body of unwritten interpretation he doesn't want us
to associate with Torah of Har Sinai *equates* to the earlier and broader
"interpretive supplement."
C) There is no contradictory evidence of any alternative origin other than
Har Sinai.

>2. the notion that
>oral traditions such as certainly existed (as they would by necessity in
>any legal/scriptural system) needed to me memorized verbatim. Hence what
>the Rabbis called OT did not exist in ST times, even though all Jewish
>groups would have had their own oral traditions. 

This is a simple non sequitur.  I'm surprised that Jaffee would suggest that
the premise <no evidence that the interpretive complement *needed* to be
memorized verbatim> implies that "Hence what the Rabbis called OT did not
exist in ST times."  I would expect better logic from a freshman.  This,
like his excluding horses from the animal kingdom, is butter.

>and is, in fact, transmitted as tradition. So ALL Second Temple Jewish
>groups would have had Scripture and tradition as an interactive complex.
>What they fought about is: 1. who had the right collection of Scripture
>and 2. who had the right interpretive tradition.

This is precisely what I've been trying to have acknowledged for weeks.
Thank you for finally making my point.  Too bad it was accompanied by undue

>	All of this is perfectly intelligble historically without
>shlepping in rabbinic technical terminology and muddying perfectly placid 

So you assert.  But if some of the rabbinic terms derive from "interpretive
supplements" of that period (that's different than equating rabbinic terms
to "interpretive supplements," for those obviously unable to grapple with
the logic involved), or even describe them better than Jaffee does, then
certainly it seems to me that those terms are more authentic than the
"Semaphore Torah" which Jaffee's 20th century definitions lead to.

>	These are my views as best I can express them. I ask not to be
>pestered off-list by people riding various hobby-horses about Sadduceean

It's clear to everyone that all you needed have said -- in response to
either of my TWO messages -- was 'Please don't bother me."  It's a logical
conclusion, therefore, since it is no secret to whom you refer, that your
intent was deliberately to offend and embarrass. The same is corroborated by
your ad hominem "hobby-horse" remark -- both inappropriate, unjustified as
it turns out, and unscholarly to be charitable.

>or Essene views of Oral Torah. I suggested to one such person that he
>read a few things. He said he couldn't afford to buy books. That 's a
>perfectly acceptible response: but it should also translate into a
>respect for the limits of one's own knowledge, a curiosity about the
>views of others who may have studied more, and, finally, the modesty to
>refrain from holding iron-clad judgments. 

The truth of the matter is that I was being kind.  Since he failed to grasp
this as well I'll explain that the reason I don't want his books is that his
inability to grasp what I've been talking about, coupled with his
demonstrated limitations in the realm of logic make his books uninteresting
to me.  I need to explain rudimentary logic to yet another person about yet
another book like I need a toothache.  As to limitations of knowledge, that
would include not presuming to be superior when, in fact, he's failed to
grasp the problem, not making iron-clad judgments when, in fact, he has
misread and misrepresented what's been written creating a straw man, and
recognizing that logic is a necessary part of that knowledge and that logic
does NOT include ad hominem.  Logic is a great equalizer and no respecter of
persons.  Physician, heal thyself.

I hope I've succeeded in filtering out any anger resulting from the
misrepresentation and ad hominem directed at me (it seems to be the fashion)
and that I've managed to focus on the polite, the gentle, and the logical.
Yirmiyahu Ben-David
Paqid 16, Qehilat Ha-Netzarim (Nazarene Jews)
Ra'anana, Israel