"I recently read a book  that basically says most of the Bible is myth, having no archaeological support.  Now I'm confused and don't know what to think."

 

 

 

 

It is unreasonable to expect that archaeology will *prove* every record of history recorded in the Bible (or in any other text for that matter).  It is also intellectually dishonest to leap to the assumption that a written historical record is false simply because archaeology has not proven it.  Of course, it is also foolish to assume that something is reliable simply because it was written long ago. 

 

A person who only accepts what archaeology has verified is a person who is essentially in denial of all of human history.  Even most of relatively recent U.S. history is not archaeologically provable.  We rely on a written record of it.  Are we to think that the only people who suffered violence at the hands of slave masters are those whose bodies have been preserved to allow us to see the evidences of abuse on their bones?  Even this would not be archaeological proof.  How do we know what caused those indications of violence they suffered, apart from the written historical record? [1]  Consider forensic science:  Even in modern times with advanced technology, forensic scientists are often unable to gather enough evidence to really know what happened at a crime scene, or even link the crime to a still living criminal.  If modern forensic science can fall short of providing a clear picture of what happened in the recent past, sometimes only days before, why would ancient archaeology be any better?  And this is pretty much what forensic science really is - archaeology for modern occurrences.  Archaeology is basically forensic science for ancient events.  If oral and written evidence are given serious consideration in a court of law to fill in the blanks where forensic science fell short, should not such the same be true for ancient history?  All the more so!  And when oral or written evidence seem to conflict with the results of forensic science in a court case, are oral and written testimony then entirely thrown out the window?  No!  An attempt is made to form conclusions taking into consideration the entire body of evidence, with an aim at coming to the most logically consistent conclusion.  Very interesting that this approach is abandoned by anti-theist archaeologists when it comes to a record of history that entails moral liability.  Just a thought.

Archaeology can only give us hints of glimpses into the past, but it falls terribly short of providing a clear or full picture of any historical event.  The only tool we have for acquiring any clear picture of ancient history is the written record. [1] Does this mean it is impossible that a written record could be inadvertently in error despite the sincerity of the writer, or that a writer could even have intentionally fabricated or exaggerated an account?  Of course this is a possibility.  But to disregard a written record JUST because of this possibility is dishonest and irresponsible.  Unless a person wants to live life as though history does not exist, he MUST accept written records as true, on certain conditions, despite the possibility of errors.  It would be an even greater error not to do so.

 

In order to lessen the likelihood of being mislead by unreliable written records, one must form a logical approach whereby he can determine whether a written record is trustworthy or not.  Any person's approach will be influenced to some extent by his personal assumptions.  Those influential assumptions themselves may or may not be very logical.  So what we must do is strive to develop our criteria for regarding a text reliable, based on assumptions that themselves are most reliable. It is my understanding that the most reliable assumption is that truth is consistent with itself, and contradiction indicates either falsehood or a lack of essential information.  All this taken into account, my conclusion is that the Bible is a reliable historical record.  The only reasons I can think of that a person might dispute this would be as follows:

1) pure unwillingness to be objective about the matter due to the implication that if the Bible is reliable, then he will be liable;

2) the assumption that extraordinary occurrences in the physical world are an impossibility;

3) the assumption that there is no Creator;


The first reason is a result of emotional immaturity and the intellectual dishonesty that it causes.  The last two are a result of either a mental handicap, terrible ignorance, intellectual dishonesty due to emotional immaturity, or an irrational blind faith that contradicts everything observable in the physical word -- also due to intellectual dishonesty caused by emotional immaturity.  What atheists fail to acknowledge is that atheism is an even less substantiable faith than ANY religion that acknowledges the Creator.

Hope this helped.

 

R' Yosef Eliyah

 

 

[1]  Oral tradition is also a source of knowledge.  But written records have often survived longer than oral traditions, usually provide much more detail than oral traditions, and are usually less corrupted than oral traditions.  Note the words "often" and "usually."  Exceptions can exist.  The main point is that archaeology is inadequate for providing us any substantial knowledge of history.  It can be used to support a historical record or give indications of events that were not preserved in writing, but it would be very difficult, if not impossible, for archaeology to disprove a historical event, especially when the results of dating methods can sometimes vary greatly from test to test or from method to method, even when not giving consideration to chemical variables we're unaware of that may have occurred to the archaeological find.

Here is a short lecture on the topic by Rabbi Berel Wein,

 
 
Interlinear Humash (Law of Moses; Hebrew/ English)
 
Hirsch Humash (rational traditional commentary to the Torah)

 

 
A Reader's Hebrew Bible (Great for immersion in Biblical Hebrew) 
(CAUTION: The publishers are a Christian company.  Their other books are not kosher.)
By eliminating the need to look up definitions, the footnotes allow the user to read the Hebrew and Aramaic text more quickly, focusing on parsing and grammatical issues. A Reader’s Hebrew Bible offers the following features:
* Complete text of the Hebrew and Aramaic Bible using the Leningrad Codex (minus critical apparatus)
* Shaded Hebrew names that occur less than 100 times
* Footnoted definitions of all Hebrew words occurring 100 times or less (twenty-five or less for Aramaic words)
* Context-specific glosses
* Stem-specific glossed definitions for verb forms (Qal, Piel, Hiphil, and so forth)
* Ketib/Qere readings both noted in the text and differentiated appropriately
* Marker ribbon
 
 
Tanakh (Hebrew/English Bible)
 
Tanakh (Hebrew/English; online; free)
 
MISHNE TORAH PROJECT BOOKSTORE:   https://www.mishnetorah.com//shop/?lang=en
 
Entire English Mishne Torah (28 volumes)
 
Entire English Mishne Torah (free; online)
 
SEFER HA-MITZVOT: The 613 Commandments (free; online)
 
Mishne Torah:  Foundations of the Torah
 
Mishne Torah:  Laws of Repentance
 
Maimonides' Commentary to Pirkei Avot; The 8 Chapters; 13 Principles of Faith (1 Volume)
 
Maimonides' "Introduction to the Talmud" (same as the "Intro. to the Mishna")
 
Maimonides "Introduction to to the Mishna" 
 
 
Sefer ha-Mitzvot
 
Epistles of Maimoinides
 
Selected Letters of Maimonides
http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss/277-5378099-9170917?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&;field-keywords=Letters+of+Maimonides&x=0&y=0#/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Letters+of+Rambam&rh=n%3A266239%2Ck%3ALetters+of+Rambam
 
Guide For The Perplexed (all in one volume)
 
Guide For The Perplexed Vol. 1
 
Guide For The Perplexed Vol. 2
 
Guide To Serving God
R' Abraham son of Maimonides  http://www.amazon.com/Guide-Serving-Torah-Classics-Library/dp/1583309810/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&;ie=UTF8&qid=1339004053&sr=1-1
 
Wars Of The Lord
 
Beliefs & Opinions (Amazon)
 
Beliefs & Opinions (B&N)
 
Beliefs & Opinions Abridged (B&N)
 
Saadia Gaon's Commentary To The Book Of Creation (B&N)
 
Duties of the Heart (English)
 
Duties of the Heart (Hebrew / English)
 
 
 
 
CHRISTIANITY
 
The Mythmaker: Paul and the Invention of Christianity
 
 
From Jesus to Paul: Studies in Honour of Francis Wright Beare
 
Those Incredible Christians
Q.
Dosent "Minhag Yisrael Torah hee" (The Customs of Israel are Torah) mean that ANY custom Rabbis of today develop have the status of Torah and MUST be observed.
 
A.
No, The main reason is that Judaism cannot destroy itself, and that is exacly what it would be doing if it would allow anybody (Rabbis today only have ceremonial smicha) to create Torah at their own discrecion.
 
So what does the statement Minhag Yisrael Torah hee" (The Customs of Israel are Torah) mean?
 
 The customs that it is reffering to are the customs developed by the Sanhedrin (Hil Mamrim 1:2) which are allowed fall under the rubric of Judaism (Deut 17). (Do not stray is IE a Torah command.)
 
And anything developed after their (Sanhedrin) disbandment are only communal and cannot be said to be sanctioned by the Torah. 
 
In other words by saying that even the minhag (Custom) of Shetelech/wigs are Torah (or worse were also given at sinai) only helps uproot the foundations of Torah and falls under Baal Tosif (adding). (And allows others to introduce new Ideas developed by Jews like Christinity also under the rubric of Torah).
 
Again...
One thing we must all understad is that Judaism cannot do is destroy itself, ie allow anyone to keep redefining and changing it till ceases to look like what we started out with.
 
 
Q.
SHould I just ask my local Rabbi what are binding customs or not?
 
A.
The LAST thing you should do is ask a Rabbi for a final answer...(if you do ask for only his opinion) and then research it yourself...
Thanks to Yehuha haNassi Judaism is no longer confined to the opinions of the (Post Talmudic) Rabbis...
In other words the Oral law is accessible to any one today, you can know what is judaism and what is not.
Aseh Lecha Rav (Make for yourself a Rabbi ~Pirkei Avot)  does not mean find a middle man between you and Judaism...
 

I saw these Tzitzit on ebay, I was wondering what was halachicly wrong with them? (at least according to the Rambam)

 

Hilchot Tzitzit Chapter 2 Halacha 8

 
When a garment is entirely red, green, or any other color [besides white], its white strands should be made from the same color as the garment itself. If it is green, they should be green. If it is red, they should be red.
 
Should the garment itself be techelet, its white strands should be made from any color other than black,
for it resembles techelet. He should wind one strand of techelet around all the strands, as one does with other tzitzit that are not colored.
 

ח  טְלִית שְׁהִיא כֻּלָּהּ אֲדֻמָּה, אוֹ יְרֻקָּה, אוֹ מִשְּׁאָר צִבְעוֹנִים--עוֹשֶׂה חוּטֵי לָבָן שֶׁלָּהּ, כְּעֵין צְבָעָהּ:  אִם יְרֻקָּה, יְרֻקִּין; וְאִם אֲדֻמָּה, אֲדֻמִּין.  הָיְתָה כֻּלָּהּ תְּכֵלֶת--עוֹשֶׂה לָבָן שֶׁלָּהּ מִשְּׁאָר צִבְעוֹנִים, חוּץ מִן הַשָּׁחוֹר, מִפְּנֵי שְׁהוּא נִרְאֶה כִּתְכֵלֶת; וְכוֹרֵךְ עַל הַכֹּל חוּט אֶחָד תְּכֵלֶת, כְּדֶרֶךְ שֶׁעוֹשֶׂה בִּשְׁאָר צִיצִיּוֹת שְׁאֵינָן צְבוּעִין.

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