I feel like I'm sleeping and then I suddenly wake up. But when I've woken up I look at everything from an intensely clear but intensely frightening point of view and I don't know what to do about it. I can try to turn it off but that won't answer my questions, that will only make me angrier and more frustrated. And I think I have a right to be frustrated because I never get answers, only sidepoints and sidestepping.
We're sitting in class, for instance, and we touch on something that seems to be an interesting topic- the fact that the Besamim Rosh is a forgery. But Rabbi Akiva Eiger quoted from that forgery, so halakhically, what do we do? Then we touch on the idea that the Tosfos that many sages used in their decisions and halakhic rulings was quite possibly missing major portions or otherwise flawed. But nevertheless, Rabbi Moshe Feinstein issued a halakhic ruling stating that we follow these decisions and we don't look at recently discovered texts or manuscripts to see how they would impact these rulings.
And I don't understand, because despite seeming to have it thrown into my face over and over again that it isn't so, I still think that Judaism is about looking for truth. And I don't understand why we would accept rulings that people made because certain sources weren't available to them and not question them. For that matter, I don't understand the very episodes in the Gemara where the sages overrule God, overrule the very Bas Kol issuing from the heavens declaring a certain sage to be right and simply claim "The Torah is not in heaven!" How can you do that? Why would you do that? And why does God give in and laugh so pleasantly, simply saying, "My children have conquered me?"
I also don't understand the commentaries! How am I supposed to accept the commentaries as being part of the Torah tradition when they looked at everything through the lens of their historical time period and if they had only been living someplace else, they would ostensibly have written something else? Assume a commentary interprets Ishmael in the blackest terms possible because he's living under Muslim rule. And if he had been living in a Christian establishment, he might not have written that at all! And still we take his words and interpretation as being part of the Torah- how can we? And for that matter, what of the Sages? What of the Sages whose very views comprise the Oral Law? Weren't they biased in terms of their viewpoints, since we're suddenly ascribing such human qualities to everyone?
So what is Judaism about? What is this concept that once the Sages said so, it has to be set in stone- even when different texts and manuscripts turn up, theoretically even if a sage were quoting, in good faith of course, from a text that turns out to be a forgery? But that's not true! If halakha is based on things that aren't true; if we're accepting rulings in halakha based on people who didn't have all the sources at their disposal or who had sources that were marred and flawed, who might even have been quoting from forgeries, then what are we doing? Aren't we supposed to look for the truth, search for the truth? Isn't Judaism about truth?
No! The answer I keep on finding is the answer no and that's at odds with everything I think and believe and it throws me and I can't figure out a way to deal with it so I push it back and try to avoid it but I want someone to help me here...explain to me why we accept these rulings and follow these laws that were laid down by people who didn't have all the texts at their disposal. I understand that we can't have people changing laws all over the place, but surely if new material comes to light, if new manuscripts and texts come to light, they're important in terms of halakha? And if not, why aren't they? Why don't we care about whether things are true in addition to having been laid down as halakha?
I've touched on this before but it's bothering me very much...how can we possibly follow a religion that isn't interested in what is true? Why does the law carry so much more weight than the truth? Why does the reasoning of the sages outweigh God's bas kol?
What is going on here?