…but if he did, we’re pretty sure he’d be driving his car to synagogue on the sabbath.

Holy Moses!OK, to be fair, that’s not exactly what the new edition of Encyclopedia Judaica says. In an article on Moses, Rabbi S. David Sperling, Adjunct Professor of Bible at the Jewish Theological Seminary makes some interesting assertions about Moses. According to YNet the Rabbi:

…isn’t certain that Moses even existed or, if he did, whether the Bible provides much reliable information about him… Sperling contends that if traditional accounts of the origins of Judaism had not recorded a founder, “analogy would have required postulating him; and that is probably what happened” when ancients wrote the Bible…The introduction to Moses’ life says “we cannot really reconstruct a biography of Moses. We cannot even be sure that Moses was a historical character.”

This opinion is not unique to Reform Judaism either:

Conservative Judaism’s official Torah commentary (2001) says that what should concern Jews is “not when, or even if, Moses lived, but what his life conveys in Israel’s saga.” It calls Moses a “folkloristic, national hero.”

Folkloristic? Yikes. Do most run of the mill reform Jews know that according to Reform/Conservative Judaism Moses is now a mythological character akin to Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy? How odd is it that the Koran, which mentions Moses 136 times (more than any other prophet!) and calls him the “Speaker with God” is thus more reverential towards Moses than official Reform and Conservative Judaism?

If you don’t believe in Moses then why-oh-why do you even bother with Judaism? And what the hell is up with that most goyishe of affectations – beginning your name with an initial: Rabbi S. David Sperling – ever hear of Rabbi F. Moishe Pippick? No? There’s a reason for that.

Judaism is a faith. Deal with it. I personally don’t need some crappy piece of Egyptian clay to bolster or assist my faith.

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About the author


Founder and Publisher of Jewlicious, David Abitbol lives in Jerusalem with his wife, newborn daughter and toddler son. Blogging as "ck" he's been blocked on twitter by the right and the left, so he's doing something right.


  • The fact that the Koran mentions him all those times is of no proof that he existed. It simply means that in the time when the Koran was being assembled (and yes some scholars think it was assembled from other extant works, not dictated in a trance) the Moses myth was believed to be true.

  • Nathan. I don’t need scientific proof of Moses’ existence. I noted the Koran only because it seems that our Muslim cousins, both Sunni and Shiite, seem to have more faith in the foundations of Judaism than do the streams of Judaism that most Jews follow. I mean according to Maimonides, Moses is pretty essential to both the 7th and 8th Foundations of Judaism. So if you think Moses was a myth, well… don’t ask me, ask Maimonides…

  • Can’t “reconstruct” a biography of Moshe Rabbenu? Not even sure if he existed?

    I dunno, I thought the Torah explains it pretty clea…..

    Oh, right, I forgot. The Torah is just so much hooey. If there are no goyish sources, we don’t know if he existed. My bad.

    The reason the Koran mentions Moshe so many times is because they claim him as a proto-Muslim, just like Avraham Avinu and everyone else in the Torah.

  • The question of whether Moses existed is not important. The ideas that he represents and the themes that his story tells are what is important.

    Religion, even Judaism, is not about faith — as one prior comment stated — or history. It is about ideas. If it were proven that Moses never existed, then that would not render Judaism null and void. The ideas would still exist.

  • Do you believe everything the Torah says to be literally true? What about Bilam’s donkey? What about the world being created in 7 days?

  • CB,

    I presume you’re talking to me? No, I don’t believe everything in the Torah to be literally true. Some is history, some metaphor, some allegory, some legend, some poetry.

    There is truth in all of these things, but not always literal truth.

    I don’t remember the story about Bilam’s donkey off the top of my head, but I do not think the world was created in seven days (as we know the term “day”).

  • Why would anyone continue to be Jewish (or part of any other religion) if the Torah and or its messenger (Moses) was not actually true ?

    The whole foundation of a religion is based on : The existence of G-d and the revelation of his will to certain messengers. If either of these points are missing then it is pointless to be a Jew or anything else. If these “rabbi’s” deny the existence of Moses then they are denying the existence of absolute truth and render every credo a subjective one. I recommend these individuals start all over from the basics of logic.

  • Jewnomics,

    You’re missing my point. I think the Torah is true, just not in the way that you think the Torah is true (as in, literally).

    There are many definitions of “truth.” The Creation story is metaphorically true but not literally true. What does that actually mean? Well, I believe in a God that created and guides the universe, but I don’t believe that he did it in exactly seven days. “Seven” is just a symbolic number.

    I could go on, but I hope you see my point.

  • You incorrectly transferred information from the Ynet news article to your blog. The Ynet article also contained misinterpretation of the Conservative movement’s 2001 edition of Torah and Commentary.
    You wrote that Rabbi S. David Sperling was an Adjunct Professor at the Jewish Theoogical Seminary. The Ynet article clearly states that he is at the Reform movement’s New York seminary. This is an obvious mistake that Sperling was from J.T.S. since you immediately wrote that “This opinion is not unique to Reform Judaism either.” Since if he was from J.T.S., it would not have been a Reform opinion.
    The Ynet article is off-base when attempts to interpret what is in”Etz Chaim”, 2001 edition by the Conservative movement of Torah and Commentary. In the Forward to the edition it is stated that supplementary essays were composed by a rabbi or scholar associated with the Conservative movement. The language they quoted from was in an essay written by Stephen Garfinkel called “Moses, Man of Israel, Man of God.”
    The previous sentence to the one quoted is: “We must always be aware that whatever we ‘know’ about Moses is extrapolated from religious literary sources. So the question to ask in understanding the Torah on its own terms is not when, or even if, Moses lived, but what his life, conveys in Israel’s saga.”
    The next quote in Ynet is at sentence later, starting a new paragraph. “Typical of THE [emphasis added) folkloristic, national hero, Moses successfully withstands trials to prove himself ….” Stephen Garfinkel did not say that Moses is A folkloristic, national hero. His actions (as a man) were the same as such a folkoristic, national hero.
    I believe you should correct your blog to state correctly what the Ynet article said, and what it should have said about Stephen Garfinkel’s article.

  • Sperling is in fact an adjunct professor at JTS, in addition to his position at HUC. His background, upbringing and training are in the Conservative movement. I’ve taken two courses with him and my family goes way, way back with him.

    He’s freaking brilliant, and happens to be a highly respected Biblical scholar. He’s lucky that he has been able to find a balance between the opinions of scholarship and the classical claims of Judaism, because he has yet to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Send the guy an email if you really want to understand where he’s coming from.

    By the way, Jewnomics, that’s a really sophisticated generalization of all religion. Working on a PhD over there?

  • ck:

    I don’t have the energy right now to argue with you, but Conservative Judaism very much believes in Moishe Rabbeinu. The article quotes the Etz Chaim Chumash out of context. You’re taking the word of YNet to explain the theology of the Conservative Movement. Should I rely on Ha’aretz to explain to me the theology of Sephardic orthodoxy?

  • As one of my college professors once said:
    “Even if Moses didn’t exist, he was one of the greatest people to have ever not existed.”

  • My question was really for ck, and anyone else who would be indignant about someone questiong the literal factual existence of Moshe Rabeinu. Is it really such an outrageous thing to question, when the Torah clearly records plenty of other things as fact that probably didn’t happen literally as they are told?

  • As the lack of scientific evidence for the existence of the Tooth Fairy or historical Moses seem to be no less equal, the burden of proof for the believer in either is also no less so. The whole “my myth is truer than your myth” routine is really pretty tiresome. As to the person who refers to modern biblical scholarship as “goyish” in apparent disregard, I suggest they exit the shtetl to read up on something called the “scientific method”.

  • cb: The Torah is all truth in my humble opinion. This nonetheless allows for the notion of 7 days of creation – as long as you understand that these 7 days don’t necessarily correspond to 7 days as we mere mortals understand it. Thus I don’t have to believe that all existence is under 6000 years old or that dinosaurs did in fact not roam the earth. But Moses? That’s pretty straightforward – his existence is in fact a very important article of our faith according to no less a figure than Maimonides.

    sewlow (hey buddy how ya doin?):As for the scientific method, I hold it in great regard, but it cannot measure or adequately explain everything. Can it measure ho much you love your Mom? Or how much she loves you? I coul go on and on but the point is… beginning your name with an initial is both really pretentious and as goyishe as martinis in the afternoon. Stick that in your ghetto and smoke it 🙂

  • hey ck, t’aint going too bad. whether the scientific method is in fact capable of measuring all things is a big red herring. however, where it is specifically applicable in this case regards the proof of historical existence. if a person posits the historical existence of x, he is bound with the burden of proof (otherwise it is only a personal belief, not unlike that of chanukah harry). as for my other remark, it was actually directed towards ephraim. but thanks for informing me that drinking in the afternoon is goyishe, i suppose i need to bump it up to the early mornings 🙂

  • Age of the World: I notice that the comprehensible human historical record is indeed about six thousand years old. Nobody knows what went on with people before that. Lascaux is much older, but nobody knows what it means. Also Stonehenge, and the mounds in North America. No comprehension of their cultures. Not our world.

    So even though THE world, the PLANET, is millions of years old, OUR world, culturally continuous world of fellow people, is indeed about six thousand years old. I figure that is what is meant. Our “sixty minutes in an hour” fantasy comes from the first studiable civilisation, serioiusly ancient Babylon.

    Creation and Evolution: If G-d wanted to form the biosphere, and continue to form it (ongoing Creation is fine with Chassidism) using the forces of evolution, over unimaginable time, well, that is fine with me.

    He said WHAT He did. He did not go into excruciatingly lengthy detail about exactly How He did it.

    When we get to the quantum layer and meet Chassidism offering us some tea in a glass, well, that is fun. Enough Tanya and Zohar, and you will be quite at home in the quantum layer, where effect can precede cause.

  • Sewlow, some people think a religion must contain something unproveable, or it’s not really a religion.

  • Christianity strongly affirms that Moses existed, Jesus having made reference to him on numerous occasions. Guess we’re to the right of Conservative Jews on this one.

  • Immoral graven image of Moses, courtesy of Pope Julius II and Michaelangelo (Church of St. Peter in Chains, Rome).

  • hey ck, t’aint going too bad. whether the scientific method is in fact capable of measuring all things is a big red herring.

    Amen, Sewlow! Finally someone besides Muffti is saying so!

    Muffti wants to make a statement. The Grand Muffti Believes is God from Now on Because his Wish came true. He Now Has a Million Dollars and Spent the Night with Lindsey Vuolo

    Probably some of you will scoff at this because you are asshole skeptics of the great grand muffti who don’t take the time to properly interpret what he is saying. I fyou did, you’d probably come to realize that by ‘believes’ Muffti means ‘is going’ by ‘God’ Muffti means ‘skiing in Tahoe’, by ‘from now on’ he means ‘hopefully sometime soon’, by ‘wish came true’ he meant, well, that is up for debate amongst Muffti scholars but it best translates into current language as something like ‘has nothing better to do’. By ‘he now has a million dollars’ Muffti of course was drawing on the symbolic number of a million which, of course, doesn’t mean a million but means about 32$ in his bank account (which harmonizes with the interpretations commentators have offered of ‘Muffti’ to mean ‘gets a professor’s salary’).

    ‘Spent the night with Lindsey Vuolo’ is the hardest part to square with reality, regretably. But if we convert the entire phrase into numbers, subtract the holy numbers represented by Muffti’s birthdate, take the square root and round up, we end up with many possibilities but one that seems to fit is the phrase ‘still has dreams about playboy playmates.’

    So, as you can see, Muffti was essentially telling the truth, it’s just that the literal interpretation was designed to mislead and throw off course shallow, stupid readers who don’t take the time to study Muffti’s holy words.

  • “After the patriarchs, God formed Israel as his people by freeing them from slavery in Egypt. He established with them the covenant of Mount Sinai and, through Moses, gave them his law so that they would recognize him and serve him as the one living and true God, the provident Father and just judge, and so that they would look for the promised Savior.”
    –Catechism of the Catholic Church.

  • Tom, cut it out, we can’t even prove Jesus existed and now you want to use him as evidence that Moses existed. 😆

  • Middle, we call it double hearsay in the trade. But look on the bright side: CNN and Fair-‘N-Balanced will amply document all future Moseses and Jesuses…

  • GM, you miss my point. That is certainly writing, and indictes plenty of sophistication. BUT the human conversation is not coninuous with us. We have no idea what they meant by it all. My personal guess is it meant “these batteries last longer than the others”.

    I specifically said I knew quite well that plenty, plenty of civilisations existed before the dawn of the current human conversation. But OUR world, the human conversation we are in now, is about six thousand years old. Nu?

    No, it’s not splitting hairs.

    As a fascinating young woman responded with delicately worded interest to your goings-on and you persisted in waiting for tea to float in the window by a flying professional model, well, you ask for a lot from your G-d. He doesn’t split seas every day. He made nature and likes it the way it is most of the time. He DID answer you.

  • Not only did Moshe Rabeinu exist, he wore a black hat and caftan and studied for three years at Ohr Sameach.

    But really, ck, are you saying that if Jews can’t take the leap of faith to believe in Moses’s existence, then they shouldn’t be Jews?

    Actually, that’s exactly what you’re saying.

    “If you don’t believe in Moses then why-oh-why do you even bother with Judaism”

    Thankfully — or Baruch Hashem — to most Jews, the religion is about much, much more than blind faith.

    And thankfully — or Baruch Hashem — when these Jews hear that Moses might have been a chimerical figure, they don’t quiver and lash out in jittery blog posts insisting that they’re more Jewey than the next Jew by virtue of their “faith.”

  • TM, if you are so reality based, do you know the names of all eight of your great-grandparents? If not, maybe they didn’t exist? I don’t know the names of mine.

  • Heck, I actually do know those names. But only because my grandfather wrote them down for me a little while before he passed.

  • EV, I don’t understand what you said. You obviously believe. You’re saying “Baruch Hashem”.

    I have no problem with your saying you don’t believe when you actually do.

    There are a lot of people doing that and it counts as true belief.

    It can be scary to believe, so people just say they don’t, like whistling past a graveyard.

    As for future Moseses and Jesuses, their documentation by CNN et al will only last as long as the cadmium or mercury or whatever batteries in their hard-drives and then where will we all be?

    Ask any curator or conservator. Very few materials last a long time.

  • Oh EV… I was just expressing my humble opinion. I never said I was more Jewy than anyone else. In fact, allow me to state that it is quite possible for a Jew who doesn’t profess to believe in God or Moses to still be a better Jew than I or many other believers. Judaism the way I believe in it is never black and white, thankfully, otherwise it would be quite uninteresting. My “why-o-why” comment was not rhetorical. It was a sincere question. I would really like to discuss what it is that ties people to Judaism when they reject some/most or all of its fundamental precepts. I’m not saying they shouldn’t be Jews – thats not something you can ever rid yourself of – once a Jew, always a Jew. My question is what is it then that binds them to their Jewish identity. They’re often proud to be Jewish – why? How does this pride manifest itself? I’m just curious about those people who don’t go to Aish for 3 years and wear black hats and caftans like me and my posse.

  • ck, I think we’ve discussed that question on Jewlicious a number of times.

    Why can’t one have pride in our history, culture, traditions, writings, achievements and all of the other elements that combine to make Jewish culture?

    Can one be a Jew without practicing as a Jew? Yes. There’s no question that the connection to Judaism will probably be looser for a person who doesn’t view the Torah as divine or absolutely true, but that doesn’t mean that this person cannot identify himself as a product of Jewish culture and history. That person’s sense of identity may well flow directly from his connection to his Jewish heritage and its connection, in turn, to our faith and related customs. However, he doesn’t have to believe to be or feel a part of the Jewish people. When you walk around Jerusalem today, every time you walk past a secular Israeli, you probably walk by such an individual.

  • JM,

    I say “Baruch Hashem” sarcastically, as in “I’m not shomer shabbos, Baruch Hashem.”

    I actually think Moses existed, but not in the form as we’ve mythologized him, and I definitely don’t believe he was handed the Torah from God. Baruch Hashem.


    Okay then. But just read your Mordechai Kaplan and you’ll get it. As for “I would really like to discuss what it is that ties people to Judaism when they reject some/most or all of its fundamental precepts,” that’s the problem: The existence of Moses is not an essential Jewish precept in the manner of Jewish law or ethics. In fact, if you hinge your identity on faith, you might risk losing sight of the real ethics that exist before, behind and on all sides of the faith. This is true for fundamentalist movements in every religion, and it’s why I think myth-breaking is a healthy and essential act for every religion at this point in history.

    The reason Moses is not mentioned in the Haggadah is that Jewish teachings supercede the existence of any particular leader or foundation story. The vital teaching here is that mythology leads to idolatry.

    That’s my d’var Torah for the day. Pay me now.

    – Rabbi EV

  • Terrific D’var Torah.

    People who know all about exactly what they don’t believe in, it seems to me, believe in it. Because believing is conceptualizing.

    What you are describing is an ethics standard with nobody to punish non-compliers, and, no source for it but human decision, which can be changed any time by humans. What they made, they can re-tool.

    It seems to me you have the hat on. Pat your head. It’s up there.

    I wasn’t shomer shabbos for umpteen years, and I am not mad at you at all for not being it. You are as much a Jew as anybody. The site administrator says so, so it must be true.

    You hate idolatry. Yep. That’s the hat.

  • Hey EV and TM. Please by all means feel free to believe whatever you like. I believe in Moses and I believe he was handed the Torah by God. The problem is that I’m also no fundamentalist. The Jewish tradition and ethics and values you all cherish so much are more likely to be kept alive by people who believe as I believe. Secular Jews, who are as Jewish as I am or as Jewish as the Rosh Yeshivah of Aish Hatorah are less likely to pass these cherished values and traditions to their offspring and their future generations. That’s a matter of statistical fact – one that you can confirm using your vaunted scientific method. So we don’t have Egyptian pottery shards attesting to the existence of Moses. OK, fair enough. But those of us who believe in Moses and in Torah meh Sinai are the guarantors of the continuity of the very things you love so much. In fact, you currently enjoy all your secular manifestations of Judaism thanks in large part to people who you would otherwise deride as “fundamentalists.” Aint that something! So I would thus urge you to look back, waaaay back at where it is you came from and maybe, just maybe show a little respect. Now you can pay me.

  • I take exception to the fact that this conversation has evolved to lump believing Conservative and Reform Jews as secular Jews.

    I can’t speak for Reform Judaism, but Conservative Judaism believes in Torah m’Sinai and the Torah as our people’s history. There’s never a doubt in my Masorti kehillah about our reverence for Moishe Rabbeinu. Please stop taking Ynet’s statements as Holy Writ from JTS.

    For more explanation of Conservative Judaism’s theology, try this link for starters.

  • I respect the myths — but I respect them as myths. We are not paying anything respect by building a golden calf in front of it.

    One of the traits of fundamentalists of all stripes is the tendency to look back 1,000 years and assume their beliefs and practices were exactly the same as they are today.

    I agree that where I came from and where you came from is the same place, but we interpret that place verrrrry differently. What you call “respect” I call idolatry. What I call “respect” you call derision and contempt.

    Now where do I make out this invoice to?

  • You rang?

    EV, what you call “respect” I call “belief”.

  • Tom Morrissey, art is ok.

    Especially 2-dimensional imagery.

    All art is ok – we are just not allowed to venerate it. We are allowed to think it is interesting and beautiful.

    That is a liberal view.

    But even our strictest have portraits of the great sages. I think. Chutzpah would know more.

    One of the things about the future that worries me is what is going to happen to the museums.

  • Respect?

    What that seems to mean is a pretty one-way deal: everyone whose ancestors weren’t hanging out with Rambam himself should step aside, while you spit on the devotion of thousands because of an inaccurate article interviewing one random theologian! (Who may be very good, but ya gotta remember that seminaries are where the extreme questions are batted back and forth.)

    Whyn’t you come up to my shul and tell everyone this, after you’ve seen their intensity in observing the sefer t be put back, singing about what Moshe commanded us to do.

    My “why-o-why” comment was not rhetorical. It was a sincere question. I would really like to discuss what it is that ties people to Judaism when they reject some/most or all of its fundamental precepts. I’m not saying they shouldn’t be Jews…

    Sounded more like a sincere insult– hard to resist tossing in the Santa Claus remark, was it?

    So we don’t have Egyptian pottery shards…

    Ummmm, perhaps that’s the true point of the errorful quote from Eitz Chayim? That the shards aren’t the main point?

  • EV: The Golden Calf analogy is so off. You’ve mentioned idolatry twice now. For the record I abhor idolatry, both literal and figurative. I worship only God. Not even Moses. By believing in Moses, we are not building Golden Calves. We are simply following an article of faith of a religion that gave us all, both you and I, our current Jewish identities. That I choose a set of beliefs that is most conducive with Jewish continuity, is a scientific fact. That you choose a set of beliefs that are unsustainable across several generations, is also a scientific fact. Why don’t you address that very rational argument?

    TM: The statement I made is based on a large demographic and is not meant to apply universally to every single individual case. Your response is utterly irrelevant.

    Now, will that be cash or paypal my friends?

    Lirot: I didn’t spit on anyone. I presented the facts as they were reported. If you tell me that you and your congregants do not agree with what Rabbi S. David Sperling is reported to have said then great! But he is a leading scholar who teaches at both HUC and JTS if I’m not mistaken. Sorry if I caused offense with the Santa Claus comment – but the comparison seemed apt what with the whole Moses as a mythological character thing…

  • ck,

    You keep bringing up “continuity” instead of talking about whether Jewish values can exist separate from their founding mythologies. “Continuity” is a cop-out. What matters is whether the ideas can be kept alive without a belief in myths. Can they? I think they can, but if they can’t, why is it such a good thing that Jewish tradition can flourish only in the presence of myths?

    In terms of “shared identities,” I think I’ll have to backtrack, because I think secular Diaspora Jewish culture contributed to my “identity” as much, if not more, than “article of faith/Moses” culture did. I’m more similar to a Jew in Plzen in 1830 than I am to a Jew in Tyre in 1030.

    And, to me, that’s a good thing.

  • “I can’t speak for Reform Judaism, but Conservative Judaism believes in Torah m’Sinai and the Torah as our people’s history.”

    As a 3rd year graduate student at JTS, I have to point out that the above is a gross mischaracterization of Conservative Judaism’s perspective on Biblical origin, as the movement actually validates and accepts a plurality of beliefs on the subject.

    Not a single one of the Bible courses I have taken there, and I have taken several, presented the position of Torah M’Sinai as being central to the movement’s ideology, nor as the history the Jewish people. The text is studied from the perspective of historiography and not history.

    Given the cognitive dissonance that comes with being told about this in your first Bible class at JTS, well, some people tend to freak out a bit. That’s where Neil Gillman comes in with “seconday naivete”. It’s good stuff, folks. Highly recommended.

  • ck, what’s the dropout rate from Orthodox Judaism? Why are you so confident about your next generations when, in fact, a couple of hundred years ago most Jews – Sephardic and Ashkenaz – were observant. Clearly they became less devout and many dropped their level of observance.

  • Oh EV. That little Plzen yiddle with whom you have such an affinity? Where do you think his secular Jewish culture came from? From a genuinely Jewish source that had a lot in common with that other Jew in Tyre. But for those ardent believers in what you call “mythologies” you’d have gornisht. I do not think that Judaism needs myths in order to flourish. I don’t think our beliefs are myths. Can I prove it? Well, no more than you can prove that they are indubitably mythical. But what i do know is that my faith-based Judaism has proven itself to be sustainable. Yours has left us with the great and influential works of those such as Spinoza and Kafka and Freud and Jung and Wittgenstein and Marx etc. but it hasn’t left us with a whole lot of Jews.

    So yes, Jewish values may exist without faith or belief in their sources and foundations. But they won’t exist for long, that’s for sure.

  • I’ll say this. None of us are 100% sure what is “myth” and what is “fact.” Lack of evidence is not proof of myth. Neither are logic and science unchanging and absolute.

    One day, our dying day, we WILL know whether we are slowly suffacating into darkness and non-existance, or being welcomed into the embrace of God.

    Until then, is the glass half empty or…?

  • Thanks, CK.

    It still sounds, on fourth reading, that you are taking a news article (which are always 100% accurate, right?) and treating it as an edict, and then saying that all of Reform and Conservative Judaism is, in your opinion, the faith equivalent of “I like bagels so I am Jewish”ism. (Not that the latter group are bad people, just pretty different on that faith question.)

    Your equation is not quite as bad as if I took that clever “Lazy Sunday” video (the one with the guy rising from his mistress’ bed to dance with the herring-fetisher and then have an ultra-chaste date with his shomer negiyah official girlfriend) as a position statement on Orthodox morality.

    The professor is more official than the cinematographer, but he might well be less representative, I would not know.

    random aside:

    British newspapers every few years interview some Anglican bishop who acknowledges that the details around Jesus’ birth story are pretty sketchy and not essential to the faith, just to get a catchy headline.

  • Thanks for your gracious tolerance Lirot. This is why we have civilized discussions and why the post was presented in this context – so that we can discuss it. It is clear that at least in Conservative Judaism, the whole Moses issue is subject to debate. Oyster, a devout Conservative Jew says he was taught to believe in Torah mi Sinai and Balams Donkey, a JTS student says “nuh uh…” Oh well.

    TM: Uh hello? Holocaust? Please also look at the Jewish Population Surveys. Those will provide with the answers you seek re. relative levels of intermarriage and fertility amongst Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and unaffiliated/secular Jews.

  • Forget “Orthodox, Conservative, Reform”, etc. etc. There are evidently two kinds of Judaism: Antediluvian and Postmodern. (Separated by a mere 5000ish years.)

  • EV: Well, but for his minor flirtations with the Nazis, Jung may as well have been a Jew.

    Just wanted to see if y’all were paying attention…

  • This Lirot Tov is nobody to fool with.

    Hey, LT, are you sefardi?

  • Thanks, JM =-)…

    I eat rice during Pesach, I’ve seen some of Granada’s beautiful Jewish-history-related sights, and R. Daniel ben Yehudah and Salamone Rossi rock my liturgical-music world, but I’m not from a Sephardic background. (I’m from a ger kind of background. And yes a Conservative… so for some readers I don’t count!)

    Are you (Sephardic, I mean)? Do you circle plates on Pesach?

    Being an outsider makes me all the more eager to learn a range of tunes and customs. My sub-tribe would probably be that much-lampooned bunch of other egalitarian/academic types on the Upper West Side, though I’ve not yet visited those minyans, and I have no stomach for Fouceault.

    I have definitely have a stomach for every Sephardic recipe I’ve tried from _Olive Trees and Honey_, and ditto the shakshuka recipe CK shared with the world.

    I love Ashk. “chopped lentils”, too, but I’m still learning to like cholent.

    re: Jung,

    There’s a section at the end of Hoffman’s _Way of Splendor_ speculating about why Kabbalistic influences on psychology came most openly through (the Xian) Jung rather than (the tormented and Jewish) Freud. (oh, hey, they reissued the book, groovy!)

  • I stand by my original statement, post 62.

    Do you actually cook?

  • JM, if you discover some way to turn leeks and beans into supper without cooking, please let me know… =->

    …seriously, though, I enjoy cooking, and it’s a great break from school stuff. And it allows idealistic fools like me to imagine bringing world peace closer while putting a Syrian lentil dish next to a Bukharan salad.

    Even though we might be far apart on observance and on what CK rightly identifies as big differences on scriptural authority and the place of doubt, I’m definitely into affiliating with my apartment (as you have recommended in earlier posts).

  • Truly, Moses was not a Chabadnik – he did not allow to his disciples to put posters with his face on their walls! He even did not want people to have a semi-pagan practice of pilgrimage to the grave of “our groysse Moyshe” (our great Moses)!

  • Judaism is an ecclective amalgamation of various Near Eastern cultures, legends, myths, etc. Every religion is! The Moses story is based on the earlier legend of Sargon who was saved as a child by being placed in the river in a woven basket. The Creation account in Torah is identical to the Chaldean and Etuscan narratives of six day creation myths. We could go on and on. Judaism is a form of replacement theology which in ancient times asserted a monotheistic message in contrast to ancient polytheistic beliefs and rewrote the common cosmological and mythological narratives within Israel’s own unique cultural context. http://jeffjewish.blogspot.com/

  • That is some inspirational stuff. Never knew that opinions could be this varied. Very creative, one of the nicer sites I have seen today. Keep up the great work.