Guest Post by Rav Yitzchak Blau: The Documentary Hypothesis and Orthodox Judaism

The Documentary Hypothesis and Orthodox Judaism

by Yitzchak Blau

The recently launched website, www.thetorah.com , includes writings of several professors and rabbis.  I think it can be fairly said that at least some of the point of the website is to argue that logic forces us to accept some version of the documentary hypothesis and that religiously committed Jews should endorse such acceptance.  I do not think that reason compels us to accept the DH nor do I think Orthodoxy can be reconciled with it.

The following brief reactions make no claim of solving all the issues raised by Bible critics but merely to show how their evidence is less overwhelming than portrayed and to provide some categories for addressing their points.  In particular, I note potential resolutions differing from that of R. Mordechai Breuer and his school.  R. Breuer affirms that different biblical passages conflict and that the conflict can only be overcome if each passage conveys an aspect of the divine message.  The categories below represent reasons for denying conflicts to begin with.

All the examples addressed here come from http://www.thetorah.com.  I admit that I have sometimes selected from the critics’ weaker arguments because these examples will encourage readers to think more critically about definitive statements emerging from the academy.  After outlining the categories, I will turn to the theological issues at hand.

 

1)    Anticipation is reasonable:  Professor Stephen Garfinkel argues that Bemidbar 9 clearly includes a later editorial addition since there would be no need to discuss someone too distant to bring the Paschal offering in the desert.  Why couldn’t there be an anticipation of entering the land where some would be too far away to bring the offering?  There is nothing illogical about that.  Furthermore, several Bemidbar passages explicitly address laws that turn relevant upon entering the land (Bemidbar 15:2, 15:17).

2)    Retelling can be partial: When a work tells a story for the second time, there is no need to repeat every detail.  In other words, a shortened version is not a contradiction.  Rabbi Zev Farber writes that according to the account in Devarim 1, Moshe initiates the addition of judges whereas in Shemot 18, Yitro suggests the idea.  This is not accurate.  Devarim does not say whose idea it was; it only focuses on implementation.  A retelling leaving out a discussion of who came up with the idea is quite understandable

3)    Context affects which details appear:  Professor Marc Brettler says that Vayikra 23 portrays Sukkot as an eight day festival whereas Devarim 16 only has a seven day celebration.  Actually, Vayikra 23 knows of a seven day Sukkot festival (see Vayikra 23:34) but also adds another celebration on day eight.  Since the Devarim passage is primarily interested in the three times a year we travel to the mikdash, there is no need to mention Shmini Azaret which does not call for another journey.

Prof. Adele Berlin writes that the Korah rebellion merges two different accounts.  One of her proofs is that Devarim 11:6 only mentions Datan and Aviram and not Korah.  However, the context there is not a full recounting of the rebellion but the affirmation that a generation that saw God’s wonders and punishing hand should adhere to the divine command.   Given the context, there is no attempt to give an exhaustive account of the rebellion and there may be good reason to highlight Datan and Aviram more than Korah (see the suggestions of Ramban, Rabbenu Bahya, Abravanel and Neziv).  For one, Datan and Aviram are the most brazen and verbally aggressive members of the rebellion in Bemidbar 16.

It should also be noted that the mere presence in Bemidbar of different factions with varying motivations in a rebellion certainly does not show a combination of different accounts.  Almost all complex political conflict involves groups with distinct motivations banding together.

4)    A second passage can add components:   R. Farber argues that in Shmeot 21, a slave goes free after six years whereas in Vayikra 25, he goes free at yovel.  In response, I note that Shemot addresses the regular laws of avdut while Vayikra discusses the laws of yovel.   In the context of the yovel discussion, we discover a new halakhic detail about slaves. This is not a contradiction.  Regarding this issue, R. Breuer provides a cogent explanation for the distinct themes of slavery in Shemot and in Vayikra.  See also R. Shalom’ Carmy’s analysis in Hebraic Political Studies Fall 2009.

5)    Contradictions that do not contradict:  Prof. Deena Grant writes that the account of the golden calf in Devarim 9 leaves out the punishment of Am Yisrael since this account understands the making of a golden calf as part of an attempt to worship God; thus, the people were not guilty of a serious transgression. This would then differ from the version in Shemot.   However, Devarim 9:19 states that God wanted to wipe out the people if not for Moshe’s pleading.  Clearly, Devarim also views the calf episode as a major transgression.

Prof. Norman Solomon writes that author of the Shemot version of the dibrot focuses on the mythic and the sacral so the reason for Shabbat is to commemorate God’s creation.  Devarim’s author is more interested in social concerns so the rationale for Shabbat becomes commemorating the exodus.  Along the same lines, shemitah takes an ethical and social turn only in Devarim 15.  Yet Shemot 20:10 already mentions the need to give slaves, animals and strangers the day off from work.  Therefore, the social component is arguably present in Shemot.   Indeed, Ibn Ezra (Shemot 20:1) views the account in Devarim as Moshe’s elucidation of Shemot.  Moshe picked up on the social theme implicit in the first version.  Moreover, while the dissolving of debt during the sabbatical year does not appear in Vayikra 25, the freeing of slaves and other ethical/social concerns run through the chapter.   Thus, Solomon’s neat split between different authors breaks down.                   

R. Farber writes that Bemidbar lists Kalev and Yehoshua as the heroes of the spies episode whereas Devarim only enumerates Kalev.  Yet as he himself notes, a verse in Bemidbar (14:24) also only mentions Kalev.  Furthermore, two verses after the singling out of Kalev in Devarim 1:36, verse 38 mentions that Yehoshua will lead the people into Israel.  Thus, there is no contradiction.

Though this essay focuses primarily on the question of contradictions, I will address one more issue.  R. Farber argues that Yaakov could not have had eleven children in seven years.   Give Yaakov’s four wives, the only possible difficulty relates to Leah having seven children during this time period.   A survey of contemporary haredi and hardali families will reveal that this can happen today even without the special connection that a patriarch and matriarch have with God.

As stated above, I am not claiming to have defeated the DH in this short presentation.  There are difficult challenges presented by biblical criticism not discussed above.  I do hope to have begun the process of showing how arguments in favor of multiple authorship are not nearly as conclusive as often stated and of providing some categories for addressing their claims.

The recent postings by Rabbi Farber have generated a significant amount of internet discussion.   Some defenders of R. Farber’s approach utilize Ibn Ezra and others as potential precedents for his views.  I believe that the problems his views carry for traditional Judaism are quite deep and cannot be minimized by citing Ibn Ezra.

1)    Sometimes quantity is quality.  If Ibn Ezra was wiling to attribute a very small group of verses to a later prophet, it does not follow that viewing the entire Torah as a hodgepodge of multiple authors is simply an extension of the same.   R. Farber’s approach challenges the notion of the Torah as the word of God in a way that Ibn Ezra does not.

2)    How does the Torah differ from other prophetic books?  Traditional Judaism views the Torah as the word of God.  Its divine message has an unmediated clarity not found in Shmuel or Yeshayahu.  That is why Jewish thought emphasizes the uniqueness of Mosaic prophecy.  How does R. Farber’s account maintain this distinction?

3)    Historical truth:  Our relationship with God is based on a covenant he made with our ancestors.  We are grateful for his providential acting in history and our bond with God was cemented in the two great events of the exodus and the covenant at Sinai.  Sinai reflects a grand revelation that will not be equaled and that assures the eternality of Torah.  Denying the historicity of the avot, the exodus, and Sinai challenges the entire edifice of our faith.

In his critique of those who take the bible as making historical truth claims, R. Farber writes that their approach “strikes me as an attempt to depict the Almighty as a news reporter.”  This is an unfair rhetorical gambit in order to knock the opposition.  Decisions we make in all walks of life, including religion, depend on what we think historically occurred.  There is no justification for criticizing those who think the reality of the exodus or Sinai matters as somehow cheapening the Torah.

4)    The Nature of Halakha: We traditionally view Halakha as a combination of a) the word of God setting up a framework and providing certain details with b) human involvement in interpreting the divine word.  In Rabbi Farber’s presentation, does the first category exist or is everything a product of human interpretation?  How will this affect our understanding of and commitment to Halakha?

For example, many Orthodox Jews struggle with halakhot we find morally troubling.   According to Rabbi Farber’s theology, we should simply attribute all such halakhot to the mistakes of human prophets and drop them.  Only those who believe in Humash as the divine word could justifiably struggle with implementing the concepts of agunot and mamzerim.  Those who see Humash as reflecting human limitations and errors would have no moral right to apply any of these halakhot.  Of course, one could view this as an advantage of R. Farber’s approach but it certainly is foreign to halakhic discourse of the last two thousand years.

5)    The DH is not just about multiple authorship:  Academic scholarship does not only differ from our tradition in that it posits multiple authors.  The dominant trend in the academic world is to portray those various authors as engaged in petty politics and trying to score points for their team.   Authors from the Aaronids are against authors representing the non-Aaronids; writers from the kingdom of Judea contest against the writers from the kingdom of Israel.  This attitude removes all sense of sanctity from the bible.   (I deal with this issue more in depth in my forthcoming critique of James Kugel’s How to Read the Bible).  R. Farber apparently does not endorse this attitude but he needs to clarify how he accepts academic arguments for multiple authorship without accepting other aspects of academic methodology.

Finally, one last ממה נפשך question about R. Farber’s approach.  We can differentiate between varying perspectives that complement each other and achieve integration and those that cannot.  An ethicist might argue that the best ethical system integrates deontological and consequentialist elements.  However, it would be harder to successfully integrate nihilism with the belief in objective morality.    If two biblical accounts in Humash reflect the understanding of different prophets, are the two accounts subject to integration?  If not, how will we maintain a sense of the divinity and truth of the Torah?  If yes, why adopt R. Farber’s approach rather than accepting R. Breuer’s claim that God wanted to teach a range of themes.  The only reason to prefer R. Farber’s approach would be the assertion that human misunderstandings permeate these biblical messages.  This returns us to the problems raised above

I would like to close with a couple of personal notes.  If someone is intellectually convinced of the DH, this does not make them evil and they are not necessarily involved in a sinister plot.  For all I know, the authors contributing to thetorah.com are very fine human beings and I have no interest in saying derogatory things about them.  Yet we can still strongly disagree with them and conclude that their views are incompatible with Orthodoxy.

Secondly, there are voices in our community obsessed with kicking left wing Modern Orthodox rabbis out of Orthodoxy.  I view this as an unhealthy and problematic obsession and I want no part of it.  However, this does not mean that those criticizing are always wrong.   In this case, I think the traditional critics of R. Farber are correct.

Finally, a word to my friends on the left.  It is the nature of things that those who feel persecuted and those who have experienced unfair criticism see all episodes in that light.  In the same way, some Jews cry anti – Semitism every time a Jew does not get a job or a Jew is censured.   Such a victim complex is extremely unhelpful and it prevents acknowledgment of real problems.   Whether or not your right wing critics are always correct or consistently fair now is the time to affirm that R. Farber’s views are incompatible with Orthodoxy.

Rabbi Yitzchak Blau teaches at Midreshet Lindenbaum and the Orayta Yeshiva and has previously taught at Yeshivat Hamivtar and at the Yeshivah of Flatbush High School. He has published articles on many areas of Jewish thought as well as a book of aggadic interpretations, “Fresh Fruit and Vintage Wine: The Ethics and Wisdom of the Aggada,” published by Ktav. Rabbi Blau has a BA in English Literature from YU, an MA in Medieval Jewish History from Revel, and semikha from RIETS. Rabbi Blau lives in Alon Shevut with his wife and four children.

 

29 Responses to Guest Post by Rav Yitzchak Blau: The Documentary Hypothesis and Orthodox Judaism

  1. Charlie Hal says:

    Thank you.

  2. Phil says:

    “R. Farber argues that Yaakov could not have had eleven children in seven years. ” — I’m not even sure the Torah itself gives any time frame. Isn’t it the midrash that gives the time frame?

  3. Phil says:

    I’d like to offer four more alternative answers to the ones presented by Rabbi Farber. I hope I don’t get accused of engaging in apologetics.
    Q1. “How could Abimelech believe Rebekah to be Isaac’s unmarried sister when the couple already has twins?”
    A1. A couple of options came to mind, and they don’t seem like a stretch: Maybe Abimelech *knew* that Isaac had sons. But maybe Isaac led Abimelech to believe that his wife had died, and that this good looking lady with him was his sister.
    Q2. “Did Edom sell Israel food and water when they wished to cross their land or did the Edomites send out their army in a show of hostility?”
    A2. I can definitely picture Israel skirt the land of Edom and still pay the Edomites for food and water. I can even imagine the Edomites sending forth messengers across the road to exchange food for money.
    Q3. “Noah: Is the flood caused by rain (Gen. 7:12) or is it the unplugging of the heavens and depths (Gen. 7:11)?”
    A3. All I can say is that when my friend unplugs the plug in his swimming pool, it takes a long time to drain out.
    Q4. “There were no Philistines in the time of Abraham.”
    A4. Sure, maybe the *great nation* of Philistines didn’t exist in the time of Abraham, but maybe a piddling community with a “king” did (that later grew into a nation). Who knows, maybe they could have fit into an apartment complex. And maybe “Philistines” was less a proper noun than a generic description of sea peoples.

  4. Rivka says:

    Thank you for a well-written and thoughtful article. I learned a lot and will keep your points in mind when examining Tanakh in the future.

    While I agree that R. Farber’s point of view is well outside current Orthodox thought, I follow facts to conclusions, not conclusions to facts. I do find the implications of his observations about the Torah to be concerning, but I’m not going to work backwards from my concern to conclude that his observations are wrong. I will conclude that his observations are wrong when I see arguments as to why they are wrong, not arguments that if they are right, it will upend my worldview.

    You have argued thoroughly and effectively against many observations made by the multiple authorship camp, but there are some big ones that still need grappling with, such as the order of creation (Plants, animals, humans in ch.1, or Humans, plants, animals in ch.2?). I am (sincerely) looking forward to hearing more from you about how Orthodoxy addresses those inconsistencies that are not readily explained away through your methods 1-5.

  5. This is the most cogent, restrained and and respectful response to the question that has appeared. It is both deeply impressive, and convincing. As I hope to make clear in my own response, I support and second both his caveats and his conclusions.

  6. […] R. Yitzchak Blau: The Documentary Hypothesis and Orthodox Judaism […]

  7. Michael says:

    The DH is a side show and anyone who spends too much time trying to debunk it misses the larger point.

    There is no evidence, whatsoever, for the historicity of the Torah (5 books). To a humanity that is growing more skeptical by the moment, it’s quite irrelevant whether the Torah was written by one person or many. As man’s understanding has moved on, more and more of the Torah has had to be viewed allegorically. We know that Adam was not the first man, there is no evidence for talking snakes, a worldwide flood never happened, there is no vessel that could have contained all the species that existed 3000 years ago, it’s genetically impossible for the current makeup of humanity to have been derived from just one family, multiple languages existed before migdal Bavel, etc. etc.

    So the difficulty becomes how do you pick out “real” historical characters from among these “stories” and when does the Torah switch from telling “stories” to telling history?

    And you can’t really insult people with the “mesorah” idea as we see historical accounts corrupt right before our eyes. (Let’s talk about the “Palestinian nation” for example.) We also know that the Torah needed to be “synched up” at least a couple of times until modern technology allowed for reliable templates. (Most recently in Tiveria with the Alleppo codex.)

    NOW, maybe, throw in the DH, or other academic approaches to the Torah and you simply have questions that cannot be addressed with anything other than blind faith.

  8. RJM says:

    Not only is this an outstanding article (as was mentioned above) it may be one of the best pieces that has ever appeared on this site. The content and the tone are both exemplary.

  9. ruvie says:

    Excellent clear and cogent post. The problem is as more orthodox jews accept parts (or whole) of biblical criticism what becomes their status? their views may be incompatible with orthodoxy but aren’t they still orthodox – or at what point are they not? From what I see, more and more orthodox jews are moving towards acceptability (for the arguments against it is not superior to many) of such opinions than 30 yrs. ago – the trend will only continue. Can there be an orthodox tweaked version of biblical criticism?

  10. Joebug says:

    A thoughtful and well intentioned post no doubt appreciated by many readers.
    However as previous commentators note, when you say:

    “I admit that I have sometimes selected from the critics’ weaker arguments because these examples will encourage readers to think more critically about definitive statements emerging from the academy. After outlining the categories, I will turn to the theological issues at hand.”

    please…this is exactly the problem with orthodox apologetics – pick some easy examples, or pick an argument that was won and illogically extend it to suggest that other bigger questions are also so eaily won…encourage critical thinking?…better encourage skepticism better..

    …pick the difficult issues – here’s two to start with….the temple proportions exactly match the proportions of many other ANE religion temples, the Yon Kippur service with the two goats for Azazel and Hashem…very closely mirrors the Bablyonian kippuru ceremony…please answer these questions without apologetics…and as previously posted, work from the evidence to the conclusions not the other way round…

  11. Meir Goldberg says:

    FWIW I have a blog that addresses many of the issues brought up by critics of Torah Misinai. truetorah.blogspot.com Some may – or may not – enjoy the answers/research provided. Meir Goldberg

  12. While this is an excellent post it hardly breaks any new ground. Cassuto, in a six volume set in Italian, exhaustively went through the Torah and showed step by step why the DH fails whenever it is challenged.
    We must look rather at the underlying motives. Wy would someone want to embrace the DH? Because of intellectual honesty? Please. Every assertion the DH makes is smashed by actually examining the text.
    The motive rather is to make the Torah into a human book, not a product of the Divine because some of its laws are “outdated” and need to be changed. If it truly is a God-given book then its values are eternal and cannot change. That would force liberals amongst us to have to make a hard choice: do I go with God or secular liberal values? It’s easier to remove the source of the conflict by chaning the author.

  13. ruvie says:

    Garnel I. – your smashing is others poor apologetics. In the end we need to understand why:
    “The editors of the Jewish Study Bible specifically sought out contributors who ascribed to critical Bible study in general, and source criticism in particular. The entire commentary on the Torah is littered with references to J, E, P and D, and the entire commentary assumes that the text of the Bible has undergone a great evolution since the time of its writing. What is fascinating is that over a quarter of the contributors to the Jewish Study Bible identify themselves as Orthodox. This level of public participation by Torah observant Jews in a project dedicated to Bible criticism represents a seismic shift in the place of such scholarship in Orthodox circles.”

    You have it backwards. Btw, Orthodoxy would not view Cassuto as acceptable today(and biblical criticism today is not the same as the 1940s).

  14. So if any of you would like to engage a Modern Orthodox Bible scholar who does “higher criticism,” I invite you to do so on my Facebook page. Some of you are already my friends. Others can find me at https://www.facebook.com/jacoblw1. And come prepared with the textual evidence, instead of prejudiced bias about our motives. In the meantime, you can read this about my work: http://thetorah.com/ten-questions-jacob-wright/

  15. Meir Goldberg says:

    @Michael, thanks for the flattering approbation. But really, the necessity of an oral component to the Torah is self evident to anyone who understands it.
    But suppose we do it your way and state that oral (and/or written) Torah was a later invention, why should we then read the Torah with any more seriousness than we do Iliad or Shakespeare? Why bother with this entire website?
    Your way has it being in the mind of several authors. In that case not only is the Torah just another ancient fairy tale, it is quite immoral. Abraham hears voices telling him to kill his son – and he is a hero? Sorry, but today, we lock such people up in mental institutions.

    And Moses instructs us to commit genocide against various nations. What makes him or David more moral than Hitler or Stalin?
    Unless of course, G-d said all of this and then there is some real value to Torah.
    Sorry Michael, but you can’t have it both ways.

    • Joe says:

      “Abraham hears voices telling him to kill his son – and he is a hero? Sorry, but today, we lock such people up in mental institutions.

      And Moses instructs us to commit genocide against various nations. What makes him or David more moral than Hitler or Stalin?”
      Times were different back then, circa 3000 BC, my friend. YOUR opinion that God sanctioned all these horrible crimes is what makes the Torah lose its values.

      • Joebug says:

        Joe expresses the point well. However is not the whole point that the Conservative movement, and Heschel, Rosenzweig, Jacobs, many at JTS, have all been grappling with these issues for a long time, and coming up with (sort of solutions). Why are we all (me included) so caught up with staying with “Orthodoxy”. Can’t we accept that Orthodoxy based on traditional TMS is incompatible with Biblical Scholarship, and just think of ourselves as Conservative? [I know there are some answers to this, but I would like to know what others think]

    • Yoni says:

      Rabbi Goldberg, agreeing with Michael’s comment and responding… I’ve pretty much come to my own personal conclusion, at the age of 50+, that the Torah is not divine, but a product of man. And like Michael said in his initial comment, the DH is a sideshow which really obfuscates the main issue.

      For someone like me, you only make the case against a divine Torah stronger. There is much immorality in the Torah and it’s circular to say that it’s not immoral if God says so. We live in a world in which the worst immoral acts are being perpetrated in the name of God. In fact, among many other things, it is davka the immorality in the Torah that has led me down this path. (One striking example is that a dear friend of mine, a pediatrician and a talmud chachom, told me point blank that he would happily allow a non-Jewish child die if saving him violated the Sabbath in a hypothetical example where any issue of Darchei Shalom was neutralized.)

      Don’t get me wrong. I think the Torah is a superb and, in some ways, a very progressive document for its time. However, it’s clear to me that even by the time of the Rabbis of the Talmud there was a realization that some items in the Torah had already become outdated and immoral. They, unlike us, had the authority to “fix” them. One of the greatest tragedies of “modern” times was the “closing” of the Talmud. We’ve still managed to find workarounds, but there are still many injustices to this day that can’t be fixed.

      I know this puts me outside your definition of orthodoxy. (Though believing fully in the “system” I practice as “frumly” as the next guy.) I think what people need to start realizing is that this is just the tip of an iceberg and that we desperately need more Rabbi Farbers to create a safe place for those of us who wish to remain a part of this endeavor regardless of our understanding of the origins of our religion and that answers like yours, while ell meaning, actually only make matters worse.

      • Meir Goldberg says:

        Yoni, I didn’t mean to push you further away, I’m sorry. I am just having a hard time understanding your logic. If G-d really is the source of everything and He gave us His Torah, don’t you think it is a little silly for a mere mortal to presume to judge his morality? Don’t you think it is possible that maybe you aren’t seeing the entire picture? That people may kill in the name of G-d is immaterial – since they made up their religion themselves. But if G-d really, factually gave a Torah, that would put Him and His Torah above you or me being able to judge Him.

      • Yoni says:

        Rabbi Golderberg, Don’t worry, you’re not pushing me away, I’m already there.🙂

        But you misunderstand. Your logic assumes, axiomatically, that God exists and that he gave the Torah to man. And of course based on that logic you must assume the Torah and all its stories and commands to be the very definition of morality. However, for those of us who do not believe the Torah is “the word of God” but a man made document then it’s easy to see how the morality of the Torah is subjectively based on the time and place in which it was written. So I’m not judging God, I’m judging a document written by men.

        As I alluded to above, it is clear that throughout the ages Rabbis have had to “fix” the morality and ethics of the Torah to adapt it as man progressed. Which is really further support, whether they believed it or not themselves, that the Torah is not really divine. Now of course, your answer is that the Talmud was really just part of the “Torah” given by God. That, from what I’ve studied, is simply historically untenable.

        I’m not sure if there is or isn’t a God. But if there is I would imagine it’s more along the lines of an “entity” the Rambam envisioned in Moreh Nevuchim and not the “KIng” common in more pedestrian lore.

  16. Anonymous says:

    You can dismiss the DH by relying on Cassuto (who is far from an orthodox view), or you can dedicate some time to actually learn what the DH is all about. I don’t mean reading “Who wrote the Bible” and claiming to be an expert. There is a reason why the vast majority of orthodox people (not “liberals” as Garnet states) who seriously study the DH come to the conclusion that the Torah was composed by multiple authors over generations. It’s not about how many kids Leah had or the name of the Philistines. For the latest on the DH I suggest looking at Joel Baden “The Composition of the Pentateuch”.
    Chazal knew of some of the conflicts and answered them. The question is can we be intellectually satisfied with some of their responses. Using Devarim as an example; Devarim says “boil” the Pesach, Chazal say it means “broil”. Devarim says the first born animal is eaten by Israel, Chazal say it means mean Kohen. Devarim says the Levi partakes in the korban , Chazal says it means Kohen. There are many others. You can accept chazal’s harmonization attempts or you are forced to consider other answers. It is intellectually difficult to accept that something means B when it says A. (see a bold Orthodox response by Tamir Granot on the VBM).
    The difference between the approaches is that each response of Chazal is different- the overarching principle is that there can be no conflict. DH is not perfect (by definition it is a human endeavor) but it has the same answer for the conflicts, doublets etc in the whole Torah. It is a theory which works pretty well for those that attempt to understand it.

  17. Mordy says:

    This type of measured response is exactly what is needed now from Orthodox leaders. Yet, there was one area the author seemed to skip over. While he starts to talk about the historical accuracy of the Torah he ignores the lack of archeological evidence which Farber discusses. Perhaps in another post Blau can address this issue?

  18. […] general and focused on dogma. For this reason, when I started reading Rabbi Blau’s response, “The Documentary Hypothesis and Orthodox Judaism”, my heart gave a shout of joy. Finally someone cares less about dogma and more about what the […]

  19. […] More links about the latest controversy over the authorship of the Torah, the American version of the “Jacobs Affair”: R Adlerstein: Living With Questions, Jewish Chronicle: Star rabbi is accused of heresy, Blau: The Documentary Hypothesis and Orthodox Judaism […]

  20. Sammy Finkelman says:

    It’s amaziong the kind oif “proofs” for the documentary hypothesis that people will come up with.

    1) Bemidbar 9 . Of course that’s for the future, as is the law of inheritance given after the daughters of Tzelofkhod ask a question. Devorim is full of laws that will only apply in the land. And there are some things that make sense only froma Mosaic point of view. Ever Hayardein refers to the western bank of the Jordan. Would Professor Stephen Garfinkel accept that as proof of when it dates from? Or would he rather say it was edited to reflect that point of view?

    2)Ttwo different versions: There is a lot of that trhroughout the Torah – Lavan searched all of the tents and then iot says he went from the tent of Leah to the tent of Rachel. With Moses in Devorim we get a retelling. You can actually figure things out by putting teh two accounts together..

    And so on. In the case of Koirach what we have here is a partial telling but it is clearer tow different groups of complainers who got together.

    These are not problems.

    If you talked about where Aaron died then you’d have an issue.

  21. […] as well as a response to Rabbi Gordimer’s and Rabbi Yitzchak Blau’s responses to it here and here. (Technically Rabbi Gordimer’s article was a response to a proto-manifesto of Zev’s, but…you […]

  22. ej says:

    Why not ask people to take a simple test…as they go through the annual cycle of Torah readings they should study to parsha two times, once with the traditional commentaries and again with the modern commentaries such as the JPS or Anchor Bible Series and decide for themselves which is more convincing. Why rely on anybody?

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