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Again, what lawlessnes are you referring to?

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Aug 23, 2023·edited Aug 23, 2023

When I was in the Yeshiva, my chavrusa coined a pharase to describe Rabbi Hirsh's approach: Judaism with a human face. As an appologist for religion he presents a picture palatable to his times and tries to avoid problems. I prefer to let the text speak for itself.

We are awaiting the coming of the Moshiach and the restoration of the Davidic dynasty as the ideal of perfection. Does monarchy represent a transparent and just rule of law or does it have a history of being arbitrary and capricious? ד' אמר עלי בני אתה אני היום יולדתיך שאל ממני ואתנה גוים נחלתך. Here Dovid Hamelech refers to himself as a son of G-d who is given the dominance over other nations. In the hisorical context this is how the ancient rulers saw themselves, but what is special about this? What is here, considering the historical record, to hope for?

Incidentally, the incident with Batsheva I explain as Dovid Hamelech seeing himself as the son of G-d and being above the law. This explains why when rebuked by Gad Hanovi he immidiately accepted the verdict. All alone he understood that the parable of a poor man's sheep was meant for him and held that he was in the right but when confronted by the prophet he submitted. Is death a just verdict for a robbery of a sheep? Who sleeps with a sheep? Dovid understood and spoke in indignation at the assault on his divine royal rights. All other explanations that I have seen so far are nothing but appologetics.

I'm still waiting for examples of the just and transparent laws that the world can learn from us.

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That's a reasonable approach to the Batsheva story. As it happens, I presented some serious alternatives around 25 years ago as part of my book on Shmuel: https://marbitz.com/the-royal-prophet/david-and-bas-sheva/

I won't argue with you and claim that Jewish monarchies have all be wonderful. And we'd certainly hope that a "perfect system" should succeed in producing perfect outcomes at least most of the time.

As for R' Hirsch, my sense is that he's far less of an apologist for Torah than nearly anyone else I can think of. Sure, he wrote within a philosophical context, but he also consciously and energetically struggled to let the Torah speak for itself over and over again.

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I've read your piece. It's a nice summary of the appologetic appoaches, but Dovid Hamelech had a disfunctional family and his son Shlomo Hamelech had failed in transfering the power to the right heir. Historically it was a disaster, all the midrashim notwithstanding. Not the times that one would want to live in.

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I'm not sure I would call it an apologetic piece. There are certainly alternative interpretations of the David and Batsheva narrative out there, but this one (based mostly on the Daas Sofrim) is a pretty close and coherent reading of the text of Tanach itself.

And, for all the chaos and setbacks, the national self-image and aspirations David helped define have easily outlived any other peer culture. So it wasn't anything close to a complete failure.

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Every nation has and needs a heroic self-image and we are no exception to this rule. The select few try to understand the historical events regardless of what they may turn out to be. Dovid Hamelech initialy believed that Avshalom had killed all his brothers because those were the mores of the times. Instead of admitting the disfunction of his household, it is presented as a self-pronounced punishment. It's fine for the masses, but is not very convincing.

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Well... say a Gentile taks a deeper look at the teaching of the Torah and learns that שור של ישראל שהרג נוכרי פטור, אין מחללים את השבת להצלת חיי נכרי, ישראל שהרג את הנכרי פטור ,אשה מעוברת נהרגת בב"ד, וכול'...צ will he be impressed, will he comtinue learning and want to adapt what exactly?

To appreciate Torah we have to look at it in its historical perspectve, othereise we have big problems.

Incidentally, the same things can be said about Islam and probably many other religions.

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Maybe that's part of the reason that - according to my way of understanding it - the influence is supposed to be focused specifically on addressing lawlessness. There may well be some limited systemic bias, but that doesn't take away from the transparency and fairness of the system itself (nor would it forbid other nations from creating their own biased systems).

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Aug 22, 2023·edited Aug 22, 2023

Other nations have created their own systems both biased and unbiased.

If Titanic carried 2,000 orthodox Jews, all the ltalmidei chacomim, cohanim and leviim would have to save themselves first, then men, women, children and Gentiles. This order of preference can be understood in historical and cultural context, but would not resonate well today.

Where do you find superior fairness or transparency in Judaism?

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Well first of all, I'm not convinced that "women and children first" is any more or less moral than "cohanim and leviim first". We can, perhaps, think of the Torah version as an arbitrary rule that has authority only because it's God's.

But by "fair and transparent" I mean rules that are public, unchanging, and evenly applied. I can't independently prove that Torah laws are all "superior" in some measurable way, but I do believe that, when they're applied honestly (which, historically, has not be guaranteed) they create a fair and healthy system that - to my knowledge - hasn't been replicated.

Your next question - which I can't answer - is which generation of Jews has ever perfectly observed this system...

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Both 'women and children first' and 'talmidei chachomim, kohanim, leviim first' can be understood in their historical and cultural context. The rule isn't stated in the Torah.

I don't expect perfect observance because it's impossible, just reasonable observance and morality that is not in too sharp a l conflict with the natural law.

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I'm not sure the rule isn't a דאורייתא. After all, considering the parallel rule: אין דוחין נפש בפני נפש (transgression of which is treated as full murder), it would seem Chazal would never have codified the hierarchy without justification.

But I haven't found proof for that yet. It's interesting enough that if I do find something substantial, that I might turn it into its own post.

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The natural law is that parents protect their offspring and put them first. Our tradition puts them last, but the transmiters and creators of the tradition first. צריך עיון.

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