Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Fun with Talmud, continued.

I found an interesting blog today, called "The Other Side." Here I noticed something that is relevant to what I have been working on lately, and I'll cut and paste it here for you. (I recommend you read the rest of the article as well.)

"As is well known, Rashi, the brilliant and highly regarded medieval commentator, claims the existence of man-mating mermaids (what fun!); he even identifies them as siren, the name derived from Greek mythology. What do we do with an obviously mythical creature taken for genuine in our mesoreh? Why, we claim it is genuine!"

The blog goes on to relate how someone he knew fell for one of those internet urban legends, the one going around last year about how the tsunami in the pacific washed up dead mermaids and all that. It's complete and utter hogwash, but to the orthodox Jew, it was a vindication - a respite from the shame of that particular passage of Rashi's writings. One discussion on another listserve went like this:

"On Wed, Jul 07, 2004 at 05:13:58PM +1000, SBA wrote:
: And what about fishing sitting on eggs or that dolphins can mate with
: humans?
FWIW, I think the aramaic word "dolfin" means "mermaid". See Rashi (d"h "benei yamah) and Tosafos (d"h "hadalfinin") sham who have a different girsah of the Tosefta. Rashi: "There are fish in the sea whose form is half-human and half-fish." Rashi explicitly uses the word "siren" (in his laaz). The Arukh also dicuses the "sironis" found in Toras Kohanim 3:9. Which is -- by gezeiras hakasuv -- not metamei ba'ohel. I'm sure RNL promotes a different peshat, rather than saying the pasuq provides a gezeirah to cover an at-best hypothetical case. -mi"

"Promotes a different peshat," no doubt. No intelligent person can take those words at face value, so they've got to make up something farfetched and "spiritual" so people can't claim Rashi was, ummm, scientifically impaired, to put it politely.

But anyway, there you have it. These men, Rashi being one of them - the great fathers of modern Rabbinic Judaism, who were supposed to be so enlightened and filled with only the Word of God and not any worldly opinions - claims that there are half-human half-fish people out there that can mate with "real" humans.

Ohhhhhhh-Kaaaaaaay.

So maybe God was pulling his leg? Maybe had had a bit too much kiddush that day?

Who knows? But I can tell you one thing - this is pagan mythology, passed off as wisdom and fact by the Sages of Rabbinic Judaism. The same guys that wrote stuff like this wrote that it is a sin to pick up your tired, sick child in public if there isn't a bit of twine strung around the perimeter of the community. We believe that, don't we? Just like we believe in sex with half-fish persons, because Rashi said so.

Right.

And did you know the moon used to be the same size as the sun? Did you know the sun and moon were embarrassed and ashamed and in contention when they were made? That's what the Talmud says - never mind that the sun is 1000 times larger than the earth, and if the moon had ever been a solid mass that size the gravity well would have caused a black hole and the earth wouldn't even exist. Never mind that inanimate objects don't have emotions - that's a pagan belief!!!! Do you believe the moon used to be the same size as the sun? No? Why not? - the Rabbis said it was! Their knowledge and insights came straight from God, didn't they?

Hmmmmmmm.

Think about it, class. Is the Talmud God's word or not? Does God make mistakes? Is God stupid? Is God's knowledge of science and reality limited to medieval learning? No? I don't think so, either. But we'll talk about it some more later. Too much cognitive dissonance is bad for you in one day, which is why orthodox Jews today duck and run when these things are brought to their attention. Want to see an argument get reduced to ad hominem attacks almost immediately? Try fun with Talmud.

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