Rabbis vs Torah


Moshe Ben Chaim


Reader: I just purchased a copy of the Tanach because I want to walk in the ways of Hashem. On your site you have very convincingly placed much emphasis on logic as opposed to blind faith, but it seems that you are having the same “blind faith” in what the Sage’s say. This seems to be more confusing (to me) when whole sections are based on what they said, as if what they said is what happened without dispute. I read in the Stone’s Edition that the Sage’s said that the day Esau sold his birthright for a bowl of pottage was the day they were all mourning for Abraham’s death, and that this even more emphasized the where Esau was, because instead of mourning he was going about life as normal. Although this makes sense, from where did they get this information? I do not doubt that they are VASTLY more knowledgeable than I - but if I blindly accept what they are saying, is that not just as much walking by faith? Thanks in advance for your thoughts.



Mesora: One must never blindly accept anything. This is of no benefit. In such a case, the mind is absent.

You are right, in that the Torah records absolutely true events. On the other hand, the Rabbis, although with no exact source in Torah, at times suggest events based on their study of the text. The Rabbis may transmit events which have been passed down, or derive their accounts from the text. In either case, if the Rabbis suggest an idea, it should be studied for the sake of arriving at their underlying opinions, as this study "of the Rabbis' words" is a study of valid ideas. If two Rabbis argue regarding an event, they cannot both be correct in an absolute sense, however, they both have ideas from which we may learn. For example, the “os” or sign given to Cain by G-d is disputed. One Rabbi suggests this sign was a dog. Another disagrees. They cannot both be correct as to this historical fact. However, they both have an idea from which we may derive an accurate idea.

Our study of the Rabbis is not a study of "absolutely, true events", where we discount the one whose opinion we disagree. No. In the study of the Rabbis' words, our goal must be to arrive at each one’s “theory”, as this affords insight into valid ideas.