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MISC-----the concept of eilu veilu

philo613 Posted - 13 June 2007 9:05

(This is my third attempt at posting my question, If this is also posted elsewhere, I'm sorry for my incompetence)

I have a question about the way Jewish Hashkafa works in general. I know of the concept of “Eylu V’Eylu Divrei Elokim Chaim,” and that this concept is applied to show that, while we might hold by only one opinion in terms of Halacha, the other opinion is valid, and, indeed, both can be considered the words of Hashem.

My question is: does this concept extend the Hashkafa, and if so, how? I can see why two separate opinions of Halacha are both correct, because both might be valid, albeit different approaches. Hashkafa, however, is sometimes trying to answer factual questions.

I’ll give an example to make things easier—Animal Heaven. I know that The Rambam writes that the concept is ridiculous but that Rav Saadya Gaon (I think) accepts it. This seems to be a purely factual question with no wiggle room for “Eylu V’Eylu…”. Either animals do go to heaven or they don’t—irrespective of what anybody says. This question can be extended for most debates

Note: please do not try to focus on the example given. If there is something wrong with my example, ignore it and move on to a different example.

MODERATOR Posted - 13 June 2007 21:20

philo ---

there are many answers given to this q. the simplest is that
eliu veilu means both opinions are torah, even if one opinion is factually incorrect, it still has the holiness of torah. like hava aminas of the gemora - they’re still torah because they were derived with torah due process. hava aminas were disproved but they are torah and holy.

there are

MODERATOR Posted - 13 June 2007 21:25

ps - your example is in fact incorrect but you said to ignore it.

philo613 Posted - 20 June 2007 17:07

Rabbi Moderator, can the same answer be said about history? I mean, when the gemora has an argument about historical facts, can we say that in fact, one is true and the other is false?

Also, (I know I’m violating what I said before), but can you explain to me what is wrong with my example?

MODERATOR Posted - 20 June 2007 17:15

The simple answer is yes, we pasken history like that too. However, the seforim mention that 2 different versions of history can be true, each taking place in its own "world."

So for instance, the Gemora says Yaakov avinu lo mes - Yaakov did not die. The Gemora asks that we see he died, and the Gemora answers "mikra ani doresh," i.e., the posuk says that he did not die.

The simple explanation for the Gemora is that the posuk dictates reality more than our senses, but there a re seforim that say (I saw this first quoted as "well known" in Pachad Yitzchok by Rav Hutner, and then later either in Rav Tzadok, or Chidushei HaRim - I forget which) that in the "Olam HaPeshat" - Yaakov died, but in the "Olam HaDerush", Yaakov did not die.

This is based on the idea that Istakel B'oraisa Ubara ALma - that the world, is just a reflection of what it says in the Torah. And if in the Torah there are parallel explanations, there must be parallel realities in the world as well.

So a machlokes in history does not necessarily mean one is right and the other wrong, regardless of what history "says," because of the rule that, despite what history says, in order to understand reality, you still need to know what the "mikra ani doresh" says.

MODERATOR Posted - 21 June 2007 7:57

... and now that we know that 2 mutually exclusive versions of historical facts can both be true, it is then not unreasonable to assume that two seemingly mutually exclusive versions of Hashkafic "facts" can be true as well.

Please note that I am not aware of a proof to this, and we cannot extrapolate this from the above about historical facts. However, we should not be so quick to assume that the straightforward answer that I mentioned above - that eilu v'eilu means they are both Torah but not both factual - is the only correct answer.

philo613 Posted - 22 June 2007 10:19

Rabbi Moderator, what about when there is a historical machlokes about how to interpret a pasuk (or gemorah, midrash etc.)?

For example In Lech Lecha, there is a dispute as to how long the 5 kings rebelled against the 4 kings. Rashi says they served for 13 and rebelled for 13 and chedarlaomer came in the 14th . Ibn Ezra explains that rebelled in the 13th year, not that they rebelled for 13 years.

How can what you say about Olam HaDerush and Olam Hepshat be said here when there is a dispute about the text itself? And what of “Eilu V”Eilu? Furthermore, If it could be shown through historical records that the 5 kings rebelled for only 1 year, would that evidence be admissible to show that Rashi was wrong, and vice versa for Ibn Ezra, or do we not accept such evidence?

MODERATOR Posted - 22 June 2007 10:42

As I mentioned, there are disagreements as to how ailu v'ailu works, what it means, and its scope.

However, in so many of these cases, our seforim do apply the rule of ailu v'ailu divrei elokim chaim. In such cases, they might give explanations such as, in a certain way they rebelled for 13 years but a new, more significant stage of the rebellion happened in the 13th year; or that for 13 years they rebelled in thought, but on the 13th year they started with actions; or that the "sar" of these nations in shamayim rebelled for 13 years and the people started after 13; or that the first 13 years of rebellion were half-hearted and without conviction, and that’s not considered a rebellion, but after 13 they were committed to the rebellion; etc etc etc etc

There are many examples of things like this in many seforim. The shelah, in particular, discusses such things at length.

In short, the way ailu v'ailu works according to this approach is, when Hashem gave the Torah, it contained multiple, even infinite, meanings. But the Torah contains them all and means them all. Now each Jew has a unique soul, which is attuned to certain specific meanings in the Torah, but not to others. Thus, each person will be able to deduce form the torah the meanings that correspond to his soul. This is what we mean when we say "vesain chelkeinu besorasecha" - every one if us has a part of torah destined to be understood by us, and we pray that we learn it.

This applies to areas of Torah that describe halachah as well as hashkafa and even metzius. Regarding Metzius things, such as what you mentioned, once we establish that the facts could be interpreted different ways, then we say that the posuk - the peshuto shel mikrah - can also be interpreted to mean any of those ways.

So when Rashi and ibn Ezra disagree regarding what a posuk means, both can still be true, in different ways, and the posuk, even peshuto shel mikrah, can mean both, as per the rule of shivim panim latorah.

Can a Rishon make a mistake? Of course he can. But the problem is, so can we. And so, although a Rishon can theoretically make a mistake, if we see things differently than the way a rishon did, then the only reasonable conclusion is that we are wrong, not the rishon, since his words were stated b'ruach hakodesh, and siyata dishmaya, as well as with the interpretative skills possessed by a Rishon.

Compare it to a little kid who falls and dislocates his shoulder. A doctor comes and starts to snap it into place. The kid feels the pain and refuses to allow the doctor to snap it back. The kid says, "You don’t know what you’re doing. I learned in 5th grade form my teacher who is reliable that pain is the body’s way of saying something is wrong, and if what you’re doing is causing pain that means my body says it’s wrong. You doctors aren’t infallible! I don’t believe in the Christian concept of papal infallibility! Go away!"

The kid is an idiot, of course.

And so, we understand that the Rishonim saw deep and wide and far into the Torah - and the world - in a way compared wo which, we are not even kids. This applies to all generation differences. As chazal say: "if the early ones were like angels, then we are like men; if they were like men then we are like donkeys."

So no, if a Rishon sees something in a posuk, and some historians say that their assessment of the situation is different, the only reasonable conclusion is that the Rishon is right. And if there is a disagreement among the Rishonim, then its like 2 doctors disagreeing - the fact that a 5th grader says one of them is right doesn’t help us much. And the posuk can still be subject to ailu v'ailu.

As a rule, that’s how it works.

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