- Flawed Arguments
- Moshe Ben-Chaim
- Below is an actual dialogue.
- I will show the flaws in the "Responder's"
- Line01 Questioner:
Is there such a thing as a gilgul?
Line03 Questioner: How
do you know?
The Zohar says so
What is the translation of gilgul?
Line07 Questioner: OK
then, look at this article....
Oh I know about him,......he did say gilgulim are wrong, he
disrespected Rav Ovadiah Yosef for saying the Jews killed in WWII
Lots of reasons. I haven't seen that site in a couple of years I
think. He totally has weird ideas about Judaism
What makes you say he is wrong?
Because he makes no sense
Line12 Questioner: Why
not? Please explain
Line14 Questioner: How
he makes no sense, give me an example
He wrote how Rav Ovadiah Yosef saying Jews who were killed re:
gilgulim, when its a perfectly legitimate point of view.
He had no sources to back himself up.
Line17 Questioner: He
said Saadia Gaon calls reincarnation "absurd".
Yeah well even if we will accept that, there are others who say its
not absurd, so why isn't Rav Ovadiah allowed to follow the others?
- Mesora's Comments:
- Responder's first
error is in Line 04. He sides with a view for no other reason than it
being voiced by some source - not based on any analysis of truth. What
would he do if he found another source with the opposing view? Would
he abandon his current position? And if so, is this any reflection of
reason on his part? Certainly not. He is merely "following the
leader", and not using his mind at all. If he follows ideas based
on the fact that an authority claims such a view, he will not be able
to select a position in every area of life where disputes are found.
He will be stuck, as there are many opinions in many cases.
- "More essentially, Responder
is not selecting an opinion because
of content. Therefore, he lacks any benefit, as holding an opinion
alone does nothing for a person. Only when reasoning is engaged, do a
person's words reflect his knowledge. But if one simply mimics
another's position, he thereby attests to his complete ignorance of
reason. He is as a marionette who responds to the pulls of the
puppeteer's strings. As the marionette knows not why he makes such
movements, so also Responder
knows not why he follows others. Just as the marionette is not
applauded for his movements, so too, Responder
cannot merit anything he mimics. His views are not his, and he gains
nothing by espousing them. The only person of merit is one who arrives
at ideas based on reasoning. Then, such a person achieves conviction
of what is real in the world. Reasoning alone is the one tool with
which one learns real ideas about the nature of the world and the
Torah. Through reason, man builds fact upon fact, uncovering more and
more truths grounded solid in reality. Only this person performs the
will of God, to use what God gave him. Only this person uses his
tzelem Elokim - his intelligence. Only this person actually
- I wonder what the goal is in a person who
thinks as does Responder,
who defends an opinion without any understanding of why he should
defend it. To me, quite frankly, the person is a liar, and doesn't
know it: He wishes to imbue another person with the notion that
opinion "A" is right, but he simultaneously has no idea why.
Nonetheless, he desires that others agree with his view. This
demonstrates insecurity and falsehood.
- Responder errs
again in Line 08. He makes a claim that 'respect' must be shown. This
is proved false quite simply: If even a Rabbi tells you that God is
really two beings, and not one, you do not agree out of respect.
Reason tells us the person is wrong. Nothing else matters but reason.
Not his title as Rabbi, not his numbers of followers. Reason alone is
to be respected. As we read Lines 11 and 15, Responder
makes claims using terms as
"sense and "legitimate", but fails to provide any
intelligent argumentation. Throwing words around which have a
semblance of rational argumentation is sometimes deceiving. But we see
he does not follow up with explanations.
- Line 16 Responder
says that 'sources' is the method for arriving at truth. Here we see
his primary flaw. Responder
holds the opinion that a source alone suffices to proves something as
correct. So this means that any time any person says something, it is
true? as he now became a "source"? Responder
will of course say that the source must be a viable source. To which I
reply, "what makes a source viable?" He will be forced to
conclude that reason must be the decisive factor.
then contradicts himself. First, Responder
says sources is sufficient, but when
he is shown a source, he changes his argument in order to defend his
position. We see that the true intent of Responder
is to defend his view, and not arrive
at truth. He switches to whatever argument will safeguard him from
having to admit error.
- If we probe this point, we can deduce the
emotion driving Responder:
That is the need for acceptance. This emotion cripples all too many
people from discovering true ideas, as their desire for acceptance
outweighs their search for truth. But if Responder
thought about this, who is he trying
to be accepted by? Others with the same disease? Other people who
themselves are also following the leader? I ask, "where is the
leader?" It is pathetic.
- In Torah, the true leader is God. He created
all the reality we see. He gave us the gift of reason so we can study
these beautiful ideas. We go against His will and lose our single
chance at a true life when we abandon our minds like this, looking
over our shoulders to see what everyone else does and thinks. The
Rabbis of blessed memory didn't behave this way. They argued
vehemently on each other - as we should. Personalities, acceptance,
respect.....all these emotional considerations must not enter the
picture when we learn.
- In Line 18, Responder
feels the discussion is about
"who can follow who", as he says, "why isn't Rav
Ovadiah allowed to follow the others?" In
reality, Questioner was asking in Line 12 for explanations of
content. Questioner was not asking "who should I
follow?" Questioner sought truth, whereas Responder
was trapped in his mind set of "who can follow who".
- Yes, people need to feel they are following a
leader. At the early stages of youth, a child has no other choice, as
he has not enough knowledge or reasoning abilities to arrive at truth
independently. But once intellectually mature, the Torah requires one
to engage his own mind and arrive at his own conclusions. This is why
God endowed EACH man with intelligence. If mimicking was man's goal,
intelligence would not have been given to man.