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18.4.12

Some of the pluses about Gemara [Talmud] and some of the negatives.
The good things are an infinity, painstaking, rigorous, logical approach to the Bible. Of course no gentiles can see this because if they ever pick up the Gemara at all, it is a translation. Not that I am against translations. but -you really can't see the profundity of the Talmud without Tosphot [commentary on the side of the page of the Talmud] and the Maharsha [a later commentary located as an index in the back of the Talmud], and about a week of work on one Tosphot [comments on the side of page of the Talmud]. The only way to ever see this is to get to a point where you see some question on Tosphot that seems to make it make no sense, but then by faith you keep on plugging away until you reach the next level and see how Tosphot answered the question with some slight change of wording and was hinting to some great deep idea. Few people are aware of this in the Talmud, so they never understand its importance.

Another positive thing is that it does not try to derive morality from a small number of principles. This is a trap that all moral philosophers fell into for the last 2000 years, and there are plenty of counter examples to all of them.
Another great thing about Torah and the Talmud is that we can exercise a certain amount of control over how we are forming beliefs. It is up to us, for example, whether we believe whatever we hear on television, and we can choose to suspend judgment rather than accept conclusions according to a certain method.
Since we are primates, we need a way of getting through our desires and animal nature to perceive moral values. It does not happen automatically.



We need some method of forming beliefs that is systematically directed at the truth -- in other words, a method such that, in general, when you use it you will probably acquire a true belief rather than a false one. For if we don't apply such a method, then we will probably have false beliefs, and we don't want that,  for obvious reasons. E.g. something will happen to us when we leave this world. If it is true that there is a hell, then it is better for people not to end up there by doing things they think are good deeds like blowing up Jews or other such misinformed actions.] Now, it could be doubted whether there are any such methods.
And that is my complaint. The Talmud is fallible. It does automatically lead to true beliefs about moral values. It is good, but not perfect. And as a system, it can be abused by those willing to abuse it. Many fall into this trap of assuming their interests and ideas  are the interests and ideas of the Talmud.