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TORAH & SCIENCE-----r saadiah and allegory

MODERATOR Posted - 24 July 2006 13:57

I understand why the Rambam and his son's statements don’t apply to science and torah issue today but what about Rav Sadia Gaon, he said you can allegorize pesukim is science says its not true so why cant we allegorize Bereishis

Rav Sadiah never said such a thing. That's a distortion of his position. See it inside. What Rav Sadiah did say has no bearing on any of the issues we are discussing.

Rav Sadiah did not say all methods of direct and indirect proofs are sufficient to reinterpret the Torah. And surely he did not say scientific evidence is reason.

Neither Rav Saadiah or anybody else ever said such a thing. Your senses are what you can feel and taste and touch such that it becomes impossible for it not to be so.

Scientific evidence is not that. There is a margin of error in these things that has been proven time and time again in the past.

Especially since there are other explanations, such as the "world was created old" idea that explains things just fine.

Never mind that more often than not, the "proofs" start with the assumption that the world was NOT created by a creator.

Take, as an example, the “proof” to evolution of "vestigial" organs found in animals.

This proof is based on the assumption that the scientists already have uncovered sufficient knowledge of science such that if they cannot find a reason for an organ, the reason does not exist.

Not only has this assumption not been proven, it has been disproved in the past. Whale fins (and other organs) were once upon a time served up as evidence of vestigial limbs by scientists only later to discover that they indeed did not realize that they have in fact an important purpose.

That is a far, far, far cry from the touch-and-taste first-hand sensory intuitive proof that Rav Saadiah mentioned.

So Rav Saadiah’s statement clearly does not apply here. On the contrary - from the narrow scope of Rav Sadiah's flexibility, it indicates clearly that anything outside of the scope of black and white logic and intuition can not be used to reinterpret a Posuk.

In addition, Rav Saadiah never said that your senses are the only factor involved in assessing the acceptability of your interpretation.

Rav Saadiah was a rishon, and he was talking about interpreting the Torah in an acceptable, reasonable manner, using all the yegiah and ameilus that one uses to interpret any difficult passage.

He is saying that your senses can be invoked to determine correct pshat in the Torah but he did not say that satisfying your senses is the only requirement for an acceptable pshat.

Rav Saadiah did not say that you can interpret the Torah - allegorically or literally - in a way that contradicts our Torah shebal peh, Mesorah, or the Halachah, for instance, just because you cannot think of a pshat that agrees with the Mesorah.

So even if theoretically something in the Torah would go against our senses, we would have to interpret the Torah according to the halachic and Hashkafic due process. If we are unable to think of a pshat that squares with torah shebal peh, then we simply do not know the pshat. Not a big deal.

There are a lot of difficult passages in the Torah. And as Rav Chaim Brisker said: "It is better to remain with a good question than to give a bad answer."

So even if someone had seen Hashem create the world with the mammals first and fish later, which is what he would have to do to meet Rav Saadiah’s criteria, he would still not be entitled to answer by saying the Torah “doesn’t really mean it.” He would have to say "I don’t know what the Torah means here."

Plus, if you notice, Rav Saadiah said not only that you may reinterpret a posuk if it contradicts simple logic and intuition, which is not justification for reinterpreting the Torah here, Rav Sadiah also says that license to reinterpret comes if the posuk seems to contradict rabbinic tradition.

So avoiding an absolute logical and intuitive impossibility is one reason to reinterpret, but contradicting rabbinic tradition is another.

So even if you have a posuk that meets Rav Sadiah’s criterion of being against basic logic and sensory facts, by reinterpreting it in a way that contradicts rabbinic tradition you have not followed Rav Sadiah. All you have done is traded one impossibility for another, which is not what Rav Saadiah is allowing.

To fulfill Rav Sadiah, you’d have to reinterpret the posuk in a way that squares with Rabbinic tradition. If you cant, then you simply must say "I don’t know."

To take scientific evidence and theories – which is NOT within the scope of Rav Saadiah's criteria –and reinterpreted pesukim to make them contradict Rabbinic tradition, is not only outside of the scope of what Rav Sadiah said was permitted, but, according to Rav Sadiah’s statement, it is making things much worse than they were before.

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