Supplement to Response to Charles
Since I did not respond to all of Soper’s arguments in my previous articles I felt that I should perhaps elaborate.
I addressed all of Soper’s arguments concerning the validity of the Oral Law in “The Council of My Nation” and in “Supplement to Contra Brown, Volume 5.” Soper has not provided an explanation for the testimonial commandments according to his theology. If the Jewish people are not supposed to look at the observances of their parents as a repository for divine truth then what is the point of the testimonial observances?
Soper explained that he accepts Scripture because he believes that God preserved the Scripture among His people despite their sins. Soper provided a reference from the Psalms (12:7) to prove this point. The problem with Soper’s reference is that it refers to the words of God without limiting them to written words. The passage in the Psalms speaks of God’s utterances, both those preserved in writing and those preserved in the heart of the people (Isaiah 51:7).
Soper seems to reject the notion that the prophets of Israel were validated by their conformance to Israel’s perception of God that was acquired through the exodus and Sinai experiences. But that is precisely what Moses taught us to do. That is to reject any prophet who encourages devotion or speaks in the name of a god we do not know (Deuteronomy 13:2-6; 18:20).
Soper asks why it is that Orthodox teachers do not speak publicly against the theory of evolution. The fact is that our community is primarily focused on teaching our own children and we teach them creation and not evolution. Some prominent teachers in our community wrote books against the theory of evolution (such as Rabbi Avigdor Miller). Others in our community believe that some of the basic concepts of evolution do not contradict the Biblical account of creation and have written books explaining their position (such as Gerald Schroeder).
The relevance of the creation story to our lives is reflected in the teachings and practices of the Orthodox Jewish community. And that is the recognition that every facet of existence owes its being to the One Creator of all. The Christian community on the other hand, with all of its protests against evolution, has missed the point of creation. By pointing to one man and elevating him to the status of an object of worship, Christianity has denied the lesson of creation. God created everything, even Jesus. And your heart belongs to its Creator and you are not master to choose to whom to direct your devotion.
As for Usury; the Bible does not prohibit gentiles from lending or borrowing with interest. So I am not sure why Soper expects our community to decry the practice of Usury amongst non-Jews.
I will close by thanking Soper for challenging my words. It is through discussions such as these that we can all move closer to the truth.
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal