I am Virtuoso. Jewish * Democratic Socialist * Aspie. AMA

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David
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Ask me anything :) 

Especially interested in questions related to Judaism and politics. 
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What was your DDO name?

What do you think of the US-Israel relationship?

What should Western nations do about the Syrian regime?

Where do you source your news?


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Hi Smithereens!

What was your DDO name
ThinkBig

What do you think of the US-Israel relationship?

This is a complex question that is hard to answer in a few paragraphs. In short, I think US-Israel relationships are good. However, I think US needs to recognize Palestine, should not have recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital, should move the embassy back to Tel Aviv, and should stop giving them billions of dollars in aid.   

What should Western nations do about the Syrian regime?

Leave it alone.

Where do you source your news?
I read a variety of news sources on the web and read a healthy amount of various opinions. I read both conservative and liberal leaning news outlets and try to get a healthy balance of opinions. 
Castin
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Hello and welcome. 😉

Most of my biggest disagreements with the Christian Bible concern the Old Testament. Does the Hebrew Bible differ from it significantly? What do you think of the Hebrew Bible?
David
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If you're reading the Hebrew Bible from a Christian perspective, you'll get an entirely different interpretation than you would from a Jewish perspective. Jews believe in an Oral Torah as well as a written Torah. The Oral Torah helps explain the meaning of the mitzvot and how they are done.

Example: An eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth. 

One may erroneously assume that if I poke out someone's eye then my eye would be poked out also. However, the Oral Torah explains that this is a fine and not to be taken hyper literal. 

Another example regards the death penalty. In actuality, the death penalty is extremely difficult to carry out. The Talmud notes that a beit din (court) that puts someone to death once in every 70 years is considered to be a bloodthirsty court. 
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Do you think Israel is an "occupying force?" On Palestinian land?
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No, Hamas is. Israel is.being forced to be the bad guy due to Hamas. PLO is being disallowed to negotiate by behind the scenes blackmailed from Hamas and that is that.
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What sect of Jew are you? I personally am Reform, and as a follow up, how do you view sects of Judaism other than your own?

8 days later

David
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I am a conservative Jew officially, but currently attend a reform temple and kinda am more observing reform than conservative. 
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The Oral Torah 

Your couple explanations regarding the Oral Torah sounds a little bit like some explanations ive heard on OT stuff, like Deuteronomy 21:18. Stuff like that is def interesting cause it sheds nuance that shows the laws weren't really as brutal as it facially seems. And kinda make the actual books like the Torah, OT, NT, seem like kind of a cliffnotes type thing.

Was the Oral Torah developed in unison with the written, or post? 🤔


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The Talmud notes that a beit din (court) that puts someone to death once in every 70 years is considered to be a bloodthirsty court. 

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-Is Sheol in Judaism equivalent to Hell in Christianity?
-What is the purpose of man? For what was he created?
-Is there an end of days in Judaism? Or do Jews merely look forward to the eternal continued existence of the nation of Israel? Do Jews believe that their nation is destined to one day assume some kind of superpower status? Do Jews believe that eventually the rest of the world shall look to their success and adopt their faith in G-d?
-What is the orthodox Jewish position on the Messiah?
-How would Judaism handle modern issues with no equivalent in the Torah? Can the writings of, say, Isaiah be used to help establish precedent? Or is the Mosaic Law the only thing that can be reliably drawn upon? Are there books in the Christian Old Testament that are no longer considered canon in mainstream Judaism today?
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Why are Jews rich?
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Why are Jews rich?

Hard hitting question, gonna start calling you Geraldo 👏🔥
Castin
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If you're reading the Hebrew Bible from a Christian perspective, you'll get an entirely different interpretation than you would from a Jewish perspective. Jews believe in an Oral Torah as well as a written Torah. The Oral Torah helps explain the meaning of the mitzvot and how they are done.

Example: An eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth. 

One may erroneously assume that if I poke out someone's eye then my eye would be poked out also. However, the Oral Torah explains that this is a fine and not to be taken hyper literal. 

Another example regards the death penalty. In actuality, the death penalty is extremely difficult to carry out. The Talmud notes that a beit din (court) that puts someone to death once in every 70 years is considered to be a bloodthirsty court. 
Looks like I forgot to respond and thank you for your answer. 🙂

Isn't there great potential for distortion, re-imagining, and human error in oral traditions? How do you know the teachings of these traditions are the word of God if it doesn't say so in a written document regarded as holy?

P.S. Your profile picture looks familiar to me for some reason. Is it from something I might have seen or read?
David
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-Is Sheol in Judaism equivalent to Hell in Christianity?
-What is the purpose of man? For what was he created?
-Is there an end of days in Judaism? Or do Jews merely look forward to the eternal continued existence of the nation of Israel? Do Jews believe that their nation is destined to one day assume some kind of superpower status? Do Jews believe that eventually the rest of the world shall look to their success and adopt their faith in G-d?
-What is the orthodox Jewish position on the Messiah?
-How would Judaism handle modern issues with no equivalent in the Torah? Can the writings of, say, Isaiah be used to help establish precedent? Or is the Mosaic Law the only thing that can be reliably drawn upon? Are there books in the Christian Old Testament that are no longer considered canon in mainstream Judaism today?

1) The afterlife really is not that well developed in Judaism. Sheol is basically the grave. Jews believe in Gehenna, which is more akin to the Catholic purgatory than to the Christian version of hell.
2) Shlomo HaMelech (King Solomon) wrote in Sefer Kohtelet: "Ultimately, all is known; fear G–d, and observe His commandments; for this is the whole purpose of man." 
3) The end of days in Judaism is the messianic era. When the (real) Messiah comes, he will setup an earthly kingdom in Eretz Israel, gather the entire Jewish people to Israel, rebuild the temple, establish world peace, and the whole earth shall know Hashem is God.
4) See above. He's a righteous king. He's a human who is a direct descendant of King David through Solomon.
5) Excellent question! There's a whole body of literature dedicated to contemporary halachic issues. You can view part of it of it here
David
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Isn't there great potential for distortion, re-imagining, and human error in oral traditions? How do you know the teachings of these traditions are the word of God if it doesn't say so in a written document regarded as holy? 

P.S. Your profile picture looks familiar to me for some reason. Is it from something I might have seen or read? 

My profile picture is Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the Holy Lubavitcher Rebbe. 

Jews believe that the Torah and the Oral Torah were given by God at Har Sinai. Eventually the Oral Torah was codified and written down in fear of it being lost in the exile. 
David
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Was the Oral Torah developed in unison with the written, or post?

As explained above, the Oral Torah was given with the Torah. Obviously the Oral Torah has developed over the past several thousand years. There are basically two types of halachic laws; D'orata (Laws from the Torah) and d'rabbanan (laws given by the Rabbis/prophets). Halacha LeMoshe MiSinai (the laws of Moshe from Sinai), are halachic tradition whose source is not from a verse or from an interpretation of a verse, but rather was transmitted orally by G-d to Moses. 
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What is your opinion on the state of Israel, and the rights of Palestinians/Muslims/Christians in the land?

What's your rationale for rejecting Jesus as the messiah? 

Can anybody become Jewish, or is it tied with ethnicity?

David
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What is your opinion on the state of Israel, and the rights of Palestinians/Muslims/Christians in the land?

What's your rationale for rejecting Jesus as the messiah? 

Can anybody become Jewish, or is it tied with ethnicity?

1) I have mixed feelings on the State of Israel. My personal view is that there needs to be a two state solution with mutual respect and recognition of each other. Israel needs to guarantee the rights of non-Jewish and non-Orthodox Jewish citizens. Israel also needs to stop building illegal settlements. 
2) Jesus is not the Messiah because he failed to usher in the messianic era and did not fulfill one prophecy. Jesus claimed to be God, which is utter blasphemy
3) Anyone can become Jewish via the conversion process
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Also, do you believe there was a "divine role" in the situation which Israel and the Jews have faced throughout history?

For a while, they were unusually oppressed and despised by powerful empires after their freeing from Babylon: Persians, Greeks, Romans, Caliphates/Arabs, Crusaders, Ottomans, etc.

What would be your explanation for this? Thoughts by some Christians have suggested that the oppression of Israel and the Jews were based upon their failure to align with God's will. 
David
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Also, do you believe there was a "divine role" in the situation which Israel and the Jews have faced throughout history?

For a while, they were unusually oppressed and despised by powerful empires after their freeing from Babylon: Persians, Greeks, Romans, Caliphates/Arabs, Crusaders, Ottomans, etc.

What would be your explanation for this? Thoughts by some Christians have suggested that the oppression of Israel and the Jews were based upon their failure to align with God's will. 

The oppression of Israel and the exile are a result of disobedience to the commandments. Deuteronomy 28 talks about the blessings and the curses that will come if we obey or disobey the Torah.
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In regards to post #22, however, the Jews are not recorded as having committed idolatry since their return from the Babylonian Captivity. Likewise, they were not recorded as having slacked off significantly in regards to the Mosaic Law. Likewise, there were no new prophets who came along and condemned their practices; probably the only exception would be Jesus, who condemned them for rejecting Him. If anything, they remained faithful to G-d over the course of the nearly 1900 year diaspora, and of course throughout the Second Temple Period. So what did they do that G-d should punish them with the Holocaust? The Medieval and early modern pogroms? Or were these meant to try to spur them to return to Israel?
Likewise, Jews today are almost certainly less likely to be observant and more likely to, say, be promiscuous than the Jews who lived 200 years ago. Heck, a lot of ethnic and cultural Jews today are in fact atheists. And yet those Jews today enjoy political independence and sovereignty in Israel (or at least have the possible option of moving to Israel) whereas the Jews 200 years ago did not.

Finally, I would like to add that Jews today appear to be more prosperous on average in the West, where they're vastly underrepresented among lawyers, economists, artists, political theorists and philosophers, etc, than in Israel, where GDP per capita is only about $40,000, though this could be skewed by a large, poor Arab population.
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*overrepresented

137 days later

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Can you change your profile image to