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TORAH SHEBALPEH------emunas chachomim

n-g Posted - 18 October 2001 14:51

How do you respond to someone who says that nowadays we are just as smart as the people who lived in the days of the Gemora.

Therefore, our interpretation of certain matters (aside from Halacha l'moshe misinai) should be just as valid.

Is there any proof that the earlier generations (not necessarily as far back as Talmudic times) were more knowledgeable and therefore more legitimate than anything we can come up with nowadays?

MODERATOR Posted - 18 October 2001 16:48

The Torah works differently than other "sciences", l'havdil. Other sciences are discovered, little by little, and every further discovery adds and compounds the previous.

Not so by Torah. Hashem gave Moshe the Torah on Har Sinai. Hashem was the best teacher ever, knew more Torah than humanly possible, and gave this to Moshe in a supernatural manner, so that Moshe knew more than humanly possible.

From there, things got handed down orally and we know that the generations got lower and lower. First there were prophets. Then no more prophets. There used to be open miracles, then no more.

People constantly went down in level. Knowing Torah is not merely an intellectual. its a spiritual accomplishment that involves levels of siyata d'shamaya. Being smart isn’t enough. The validity of a person's Torah is dependent on their connection to Hashem, not merely their IQ. A Sefer Torah that an Apikores writes gets burned. Even with Hashem’s names. Its worth nothing. The great ancients were so close to Hashem, there Torah was proportionately valid.

The smallest of Chazal could resurrect the dead. Can we? They lived their lives on a level that we cannot imagine, and were also closer to the revelation on Har Sinai chronologically than we are. Their Torah was on the same level as they were - everyone’s Torah is on the level that they are.

Since it is obvious based on what we know about Chazal's levels of holiness that we can see from their lives, its obvious we can't compare ourselves to them.

Plus. Plus, it doesn’t say anywhere in the Torah when we should end a "tekufah" and at what point we say "OK, we cant argue with the previous generations". The way this happens is, the generation itself sees that it is no longer able to match the Torah quality of the previous generation, answering their questions or matching their skills. And there is a universal acceptance that we are in a new Tekufah.

That’s what happened between the Rishonim and Achronim, Tanaim and Amoraim, etc. So those great Torah giants who knew Chazal unanimously conceded that they are unable to match them in Torah skill. Even though nobody told them this, or forced this on them. Klall Yisroel decided unanimously that Chazal has ended and we are, relatively, just plain people.

It makes zero sense, after all that, for us, nowadays to say we know better than those who were there.

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