Thursday, November 03, 2011

Could Rahel Imeinu Really Have Helped Soldiers During Cast Lead?

In honor of the upcoming 11 Heshvan Yahrtzeit of Rahel Imeinu, the Pahad David newsletter (from Rav David Hanania Pinto Shlit"a) answers that question on page 2 (for Hebrew speakers).

See also herehere and here.

31 Comments:

At Thu Nov 03, 07:46:00 PM 2011, Anonymous Anonymous said...

At the time, I watched the following videos on YouTube. Hear it first hand from the soldiers who experienced it and then decide.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oegNDoC1ZQw&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQ1zHH2cmo0&feature=player_embedded

 
At Thu Nov 03, 07:50:00 PM 2011, Anonymous Anonymous said...

While you're watching those, here's one more of Nisim venifla'ot during the war in Gaza. May Hashem continue to protect His people and may we always be worthy of His protection, Amen.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFVYBTvX0M4&feature=player_embedded

 
At Thu Nov 03, 09:47:00 PM 2011, Blogger joshwaxman said...

I watched it a while back, and then decided. (You can read my analysis here.)

According to both the text and the video, we have eyewitness testimony that Rachel Imeinu identified herself as such, that is, as "Rachel Imeinu". And (according to the video) that

Yet, in the earliest account, the one told over to, and then related by Rabbi Lazer Brody, she did not identify herself as "Rachel Imeinu". Rather, she was a random Arab woman. And it was Rabbi Lazer Brody's speculation that it was Rachel Imeinu. Thus, he wrote:

Who was that woman? Sounds to me like Rachel Imenu...

Only in later retellings were these words placed in the woman's mouth.

While is is remotely possible that Rabbi Brody stumbled onto the truth, not knowing of the identification, it seems that this detail is, rather, a later embellishment. But people want to believe, and will choose to ignore contrary evidence.

What about:
עקבנו קצת אחרי השמועות והסתבר שמאחוריהן עומדים אנשים. לא אחד ולא
שניים. לא אנשים חולמניים שעלולים לטעות בין דמיון למציאות. קצינים בעלי
אחריות. חיילים לוחמים. אנשים שמבדילים היטב בין מציאות לדמיון.

? No comment.

 
At Fri Nov 04, 01:25:00 AM 2011, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We are ma'aminim and bnei maaminim. This story is just one of many which enhances our Emunah and Bitachon in the Master of the World. Not everything needs to be analysed. Hodu l'Ha-Shem for all the hidden and revealed miracles in our days. Those with eyes can see. Those who have doubts because they can't shake off Western culture that places doubts in our hearts should daven to Ha'Shem to open their eyes and their hearts. Why do we read Torah blogs? Because they strengthen our Emunah!

 
At Fri Nov 04, 11:45:00 AM 2011, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rabbi Lazer Brody in later shiurim said that Rav Mordechai Eliyahu said it was Rachel Imeinu because right before he had gone to Kever Rachel to daven for the soldiers

 
At Fri Nov 04, 12:33:00 PM 2011, Blogger joshwaxman said...

"We are ma'aminim and bnei maaminim... Not everything needs to be analysed."

Such an attitude of insisting on belief when someone points out that something nowadays is sheker actually **undermines** emunah. How can I believe now in Torah miSinai? Maybe someone made it up, and when the falsehood was pointed out, the 'maaminim' tuned the objections out.

"Rabbi Lazer Brody in later shiurim said that Rav Mordechai Eliyahu said it was Rachel Imeinu because right before he had gone to Kever Rachel to daven for the soldiers"

Indeed. That was because they presented Rav Mordechai Eliyahu with the idea/story that it was Rachel Imeinu, and he agreed. This was then 'confirmation'. But the vector of this story was:

1) The incident happened, with some Arab woman.
2) Rabbi Lazer Brody decided it must be Mama Rochel, and spread it.
3) When people (including soldiers who participated in small fractions of the story) told it over, they incorporated this idea as something that the Arab woman **said**.
4) The elaborated-upon story was told to Rav Eliyahu, who 'confirmed' it.

Maybe it indeed was Mama Rochel, or maybe not. But this seems to be the truth in the details of the story and its development.

We should not fictionalize miracle stories, or any aspect of them, even if in the short-term it increases people's emunah.

kol tuv,
josh

 
At Sat Nov 05, 02:50:00 PM 2011, Blogger Mordechai Tzion said...

See Rav Aviner Shlit"a view on his blog:
http://www.ravaviner.com/2011/11/11-mar-cheshvan-rachel-imenu-yahrtzeit.html

 
At Sat Nov 05, 07:24:00 PM 2011, Blogger joshwaxman said...

Indeed, he reposted it now, but he had similar opposition to the idea back in 2009 when this was put forth. See here.

Also, a fun and insightful comment at VosIzNeias in regards to Rav Ovadia Yosef's confirmation (actually, simply retelling) of the story:

"Last week it said it was an old woman and many pointed out Rachel died young. This week the story is that it was a beautiful young woman."

kt,
josh

 
At Sun Nov 06, 09:20:00 PM 2011, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you watch the second video I posted above? It was a radio interview of a soldier who experienced it. He describes it (in Hebrew) in great detail. There's nothing about Rabbi Brody there. Please listen to it, and then analyze.

 
At Mon Nov 07, 08:08:00 AM 2011, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We rely on HaShem. The exact person or event through which He sends help is secondary.

 
At Mon Nov 07, 10:44:00 AM 2011, Blogger joshwaxman said...

Anonymous:
"Did you watch the second video I posted above? It was a radio interview of a soldier who experienced it. He describes it (in Hebrew) in great detail. There's nothing about Rabbi Brody there. Please listen to it, and then analyze."

Yes, I did. And that is precisely my point. He describes a story which is fake. (Most soldier's faces are whited out out.) It is fake in terms of the detail that she said she was Rachel Imeinu, and it is fake in that she said explicitly that the house was booby-trapped.

My point was, and is: We know the story in its earliest form. We then saw the story transform as it was told, in part based on Rabbi Lazer Brody. So when the soldiers offer this testimony, we know that they are not telling the truth as it actually occurred.

Are these soldiers liars? I don't know. If they are, they are saying it to inspire. But I don't think they are. I think that they are likely part of the brigade, and experienced part of it, and telling over the whole story, even though parts of it happened to others. As a result, they get details wrong and end up telling the urban legend, which they honestly believe happened.

Do you really think that I meant to say that they credited Rabbi Brody?!

kol tuv,
josh

 
At Mon Nov 07, 12:19:00 PM 2011, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know whether it is true or not, but I'm wondering what makes you so sure it is not true. When you use the word fake, what evidence do you use to prove it. I am not against rationalist Judaism but I'm wondering whether there is some sort of middle ground rather than having to prove everything solely from a rationalist standpoint.

 
At Mon Nov 07, 01:01:00 PM 2011, Blogger joshwaxman said...

Are you the same anonymous? Names or pseudonyms are good, as I know who I am talking.

Forget 'proof'. Think instead 'utter silliness'.

It does not make you at all **suspicious** that when Rabbi Lazer Brody told the story over, which he heard from the father of the soldiers, it was in the less 'amazing' form? That there was no explicit mention by the Arab woman that it was booby-trapped, nor that she was Rachel? Why do you think they left it out? And that Rabbi Brody **suggested** (entirely randomly) that it sounded like it was Rachel, and it went through the rumor mill; and suddenly in public stories put forth before Gedolim for 'confirmation', this was part of the story? Or that 'old woman' became 'beautiful young woman'?

Can I prove it beyond any doubt whatsoever? Of course not. But if your mind is not closed to a reasonable analysis, then it is pretty obvious what occurred. It is the same thing that happens with urban legends the world over.

I don't understand how people are not embarrassed to tell over this obviously fictionalized story.

I saw an alien spaceship land outside my house last night, and they served potato kugel to all the cats on the block. Spread the word! Now, if anyone wants to doubt this story, do they need 'proof' that it is was made up?

Rather, "exceptional claims demand exceptional evidence". And here, there is an exceptional claim, and glaring problems with the evidence. Feel free to ignore those glaring problems. But it will just make others think you are gullible.

 
At Mon Nov 07, 01:32:00 PM 2011, Blogger yaak said...

Josh, how do you explain that Rav Mordechai Eliyahu went to Kever Rahel 3 times when released from the hospital way before the war started? This seems to not have anything to do with Rabbi Brody.

How do you explain Rav Eliyahu's explanation later, in which he is not surprised by the story?

How do you explain the multiple accounts?

Open your eyes, man!

The "exceptional evidence" is there if you just open your eyes.

Is Rav Eliyahu less objective than Josh Waxman? Did he not serve as a Dayan for many years in Beer Sheva, Yerushalayim, and elsewhere? There were 2 recent books that were written about the unbelievable character and Nissim Geluyim that happened to Rav Eliyahu. I have yet to see these books come out about Josh Waxman, but when it comes out, I will be sure to look for it in my local bookstore.

Are you questioning his judgement? I'm sure not.

 
At Mon Nov 07, 01:57:00 PM 2011, Blogger joshwaxman said...

"How do you explain Rav Eliyahu's explanation later, in which he is not surprised by the story?"

Mah inyan shmitta etzel har Sinai? He surely did go beforehand. But he was told a false story, and he worked it into his worldview. That does not mean that the details of the story happened as told.

"How do you explain the multiple accounts?"
What multiple accounts? That multiple soldiers encountered this woman, and related it? Sure. I believe that. I think there is a true core to this story.

But I think that it went through the rumor mill, and each soldier assumed that one of the others was the one told 'I am Mama Rochel'.

"Is Rav Eliyahu less objective than Josh Waxman?"
Sure. Let us grant that Rav Eliyahu is as objective as Josh Waxman. But does he read the Internet? Did he hear the earlier version of the story, from Rabbi Lazer Brody's website, which Rabbi Brody heard from the father of one of the soldiers? Or was he told this fake story in modified form? The answer is that he was told the latter.

Did anyone then compare, for his benefit, the two stories? They did not. And you know it. So how is is objectivity relevant in any way?!

Therefore, his character is irrelevant. His objectivity is irrelevant. One can apply objectivity when one is exposed to the facts.

I reiterate: it is an utter embarrassment to tell over this story, when it is so obvious that it has been modified from its original form.

Rav Chaim Kanievsky, to compare, is surely a great tzaddik. And he is surely objective. But they told him a fake story about Elior Chen, and he signed a letter in defense of him. He later found out the truth and retracted.

I think this comes down to (what I consider) your off-kilter definition of Emunas Chachamim. I have faith that the Chachamim are Chachamim, and that they act in good faith. But that does not mean that they are infallible, especially if they are not fully apprised of the facts. And one should not shut off one's critical thinking faculties just because a Chacham has made a pronouncement.

kol tuv,
josh

 
At Mon Nov 07, 02:08:00 PM 2011, Blogger yaak said...

I don't consider Hachamim infallable, but Emunat Hachamim should at the very least allow for entertaining the possibility of their statement - not to reject it outright because it goes against anything you've ever heard before.

I have no objections to your not believing it. And had you said, "Rav Eliyahu holds one way while Rav Aviner holds differently and I hold like Rav Aviner because of such and such...", I would have no objections. I do object to your characterization of those who do believe it as looney, gullible people. This is where I must object.

 
At Mon Nov 07, 02:13:00 PM 2011, Blogger joshwaxman said...

Not because "because it goes against anything you've ever heard before". Because over and over, I see people butchering the sources and butchering the truth in the name of inspiration.

"while Rav Aviner"
Not just Rav Aviner. Also, Rav Yuval Cherlow. He said:

“Every intelligent person would assume that this story didn’t happen and it was invented in the head of someone who found gullible people he wanted to manipulate. The world of faith demands that a person should above all be critical and not accept fanciful stories without first investigating and verifying them.
“It’s a shame that people naively believe such stories, which destroy a person’s faculties of intelligence, and his ability to reach proper decisions. Moreover, such stories can even bring a person to a crisis in faith. For instance, why didn’t ‘she’ come to save other people?”


You may well have objections with his calling people gullible and naive as well.

 
At Mon Nov 07, 02:17:00 PM 2011, Blogger joshwaxman said...

"I do object to your characterization of those who do believe it as looney, gullible people. This is where I must object."

But please note that I never called Rav Mordechai Eliyahu looney or gullible. He was not exposed to the two stories, and the timeline of its development.

The people who are acting gullible are those who *ARE* exposed to the strong indications that these details were made up and keep themselves in the dark and labeling the considering of contrary evidence as 'rationalist'. And then those who bring as 'evidence' the statement of a rabbi who was exposed to false facts, and not to the contrary facts. It is quite possible that Rav Eliyahu himself would retract (at least that on that detail). He was, after all, objective and of good character.

 
At Mon Nov 07, 02:22:00 PM 2011, Blogger yaak said...

You may well have objections with his calling people gullible and naive as well.
Yes, in fact I do.

strong indications
evidence
Ha! You made up the whole R' Lazer Brody link which is not only not plausible, it is even more unlikely than Rahel Imeinu coming to Gaza.

 
At Mon Nov 07, 02:24:00 PM 2011, Blogger joshwaxman said...

"Ha! You made up the whole R' Lazer Brody link which is not only not plausible"

what precisely did I 'make up'? you are saying that Rabbi Lazer Brody did NOT first publicize the story, and make the suggestion that it was Rochel Imeinu?

 
At Mon Nov 07, 02:31:00 PM 2011, Blogger yaak said...

No - you made up that the whole thing came from R' Lazer Brody, which is highly unlikely.

 
At Mon Nov 07, 02:51:00 PM 2011, Blogger joshwaxman said...

what whole thing? that she said she was Rochel Imeinu? why is it "highly unlikely"? (note btw that I am not saying that Rabbi Lazer Brody acted in any way dishonestly. others misunderstood or mistransmitted him.)

I disagree with you as to likelihood. We have a story which spread via the rumor mill, and which **clearly** took more than one form, via a game of broken telephone. Do you dispute this?

 
At Mon Nov 07, 03:01:00 PM 2011, Blogger yaak said...

I dispute that R' Lazer Brody started something that soldiers would pick up on and fly with it. R' Lazer likely heard it from the soldiers themselves or second or third hand - not the other way around. To say that multiple soldiers say that it was Rahel Imeinu because of something that R' Lazer Brody said is just ridiculous.

The multiple forms can stem from the multiple instances. No Kushya there.

 
At Mon Nov 07, 03:15:00 PM 2011, Blogger joshwaxman said...

You don't understand how rumors spread and change in the telling.

And it is not 'ridiculous'. It is either deplorable or understandable. And I explained above how.

 
At Tue Nov 08, 11:10:00 AM 2011, Anonymous Shiloh said...

Yaak, you also believe in fabricated stories in the Talmud which have absoulutly been proven to be fabricated. ROFL.

 
At Tue Nov 08, 11:19:00 AM 2011, Blogger yaak said...

Shiloh, you also believe that the Oral Torah is not Divine. ROFC.

 
At Tue Nov 08, 09:15:00 PM 2011, Anonymous Shiloh said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At Wed Nov 09, 02:36:00 AM 2011, Blogger yaak said...

Shiloh, Way off topic (I know I brought it up) and not up for discussion on this blog. There are other blogs that can help you with these theological questions.

 
At Wed Nov 09, 10:27:00 PM 2011, Anonymous Shiloh said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At Fri Oct 18, 04:33:00 AM 2013, Blogger Moshe Laymore said...

There are HUNDREDS of Jewish Israeli women living in Gaza married to Arabs. If one of them saw a group of IDF soldiers in danger she and saw a way to help them without too much danger to herself, she would do so. She is not going to tell them she is Mrs. Arafet or Mrs. Saudeb for obvious reasons, so she said she is Rochel. Occam's Razor.

 
At Fri Oct 18, 09:28:00 AM 2013, Blogger yaak said...

Moshe, possible. But then again, consider this story.

 

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