Thursday, June 19, 2008

A Dispute About Ignorance

I read an article I wished to comment on in Haaretz.

So, I wrote this letter:

One can ignore Michael Handelzalts' agnosticism but not his ignorance. In making use of the Brady-Drummond dialogue regarding where did Mrs. Cain come from, as part of his knocking the Biblical account ("She doesn't look Jewish at all", June 13), he contradicts his own acceptance of that narrative as one "being a work in progress".

While Christianity may have difficulty answering the question, any religious Jewish 8-year old could have informed Handelzalts that Rashi, based on Midrashic interpretation, states that the triple use of the Hebrew word et in the verse of Genesis 4:1 indicates that twin siblings were born with Cain and Abel, one sister and then two sisters, respectively.

Handelzalts is free to disbelieve. Not to know is another realm altogether.

Yisrael Medad


Michael Handelzalts responded:

One can ignore Yisrael Medads' impertinence, but not his misreading and misrepresenting the printed text.

When I wrote about the Bible being a "work in progress" I meant that the text as we know it, signed at Yamnia, was written, edited and reedited until that date. The Rashi interpretation of Genesis 4;1, based on Midrashic interpretation may have been known to all religious Jewish 8-year olds (although there is, possibly, somwhere in israel one child who is not aware of it). The interpretation, ingenious as it may be, it is rather belaboured, and the third "et" possibly could have also been a scribe's error. Were we to accept it, Cain and Abel would be marrying their next of kin, which - I believe - is not recommended by the Scriptures.

Medad is free to disrespect me amd my views. To assume my ignorance on the basis of a misreading an\or misunderstanding is another realm altogether.

מיכאל הנדלזלץ
Michael Handelzalts
HaAretz הארץ


But if he wasn't "ignorant", why did he not at least mention the Rashi interpretation in his original piece and argue with it there - instead of with me here?

1 comment:

Jerry said...

Rashi Vayikra 20:17