Sunday, December 5, 2010

Prophets and Dialectics

It's very difficult to have a meaningful discussion with prophets, who aren't. Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz put it best, and now that I've had to lean on his wise words a half dozen times in the last month alone, I've decided to archive them here, for easy future reference and universal posterity:
"When you learn Bible year after year, everybody becomes a minor prophet. And that is the way people in Israel are talking. They are not discussing things, they are telling you what the truth is. It is very hard when you have prophets shouting at each other; they can’t get anywhere,” he said.

“Being a prophet is a one-sided thing. But learning Talmud is learning a world of discussion, of dialectics. If people would be trained in dealing with matters in a dialectical way, with two or three opinions, and the Talmud is in so many cases not finished, it leaves an argument afloat – this is the kind of training for seeing and perceiving a different world.

“I’m surely not against the prophets, I’m really very much for them, and not only because of theological reasons. I’m just saying that it’s a matter of being one-sided.”
You want to be a more interesting human being and a better rounded Jew? Learn Talmud. Good advice to start the week.

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