Q&A with Rabbi Fohrman
Your Questions Answered on Aleph Beta’s Approach and Methodology
Rabbi David Fohrman
Founder and Lead Scholar
Join Rabbi Fohrman as he answers fans' questions about his approach to learning, his unique methodology and his response to some of today's most pressing challenges to faith.
Topics covered include:
- The origins of Rabbi Fohrman's Tanach methodology and how others can apply this type of analysis in their own learning.
- Relying on sources
- Academic Biblical Criticism
- Responding to challenges of faith, especially when it comes to offering guidance to young people
Facilitator: …like to hear what Rabbi Fohrman will respond to many of your insightful questions.
Just an administrative note, throughout the webinar you can certainly leave your thoughts or questions on the side there, there should be a tab for questions, and we'll be monitoring that throughout.
Before we get to the questions, I just wanted to throw it over to Rabbi Fohrman, for just an opportunity to say hi to everyone.
Rabbi Fohrman: Hi everybody, it's nice seeing you, and now and then I may kind of ask you a question and turn the tables on you. If I do that you'll see those little Questions tab, you can just write your answers in the Question tab, which I guess sounds counterintuitive, but you can do it anyway. Feel free to interact, and even during the course of things if you have comments, you can read those, and [David 0:44] who is playing moderator will pay attention to those, and maybe we can sprinkle some of that in too. So looking forward to conversing with you guys tonight.
Facilitator: Without any further ado let's just jump right in, I'm going to ask the question that you have submitted and then I'll shift the focus literally to Rabbi Fohrman and we will continue in that way. So let's begin.
Does Rabbi Fohrman really read all of the comments written, or is there a staff that reads them and then reports to him. Rabbi Fohrman [unclear 1:17]…
Rabbi Fohrman: What a skeptical question. Is there a staff? Well the truth is we actually do have a staff at Aleph Beta but the good news is that I do read the questions as well. I do pay pretty keen attention to the comments. I really do value hearing from you guys and understanding how you folks are responding to a video.
One of the beautiful things about teaching that I always find is - one of the reasons why I like teaching a lot, is that it actually is a research process for me. A research and development process. When I'm recording a video it's not like I'm just going through a checklist of what it is that I'm going to say, I tend to sort of think on my feet and there's a certain kind of extemporaneous energy that gets involved in it also.
There was a time when - in terms of our production - we were thinking about me just writing scripts and that way we would have it down and I would just read the script and try to act it out. We tried it, it didn't really work that well, and part of the reason why is because part of the fun is the extemporaneous energy of putting ideas together really as you talk. That's part of the energy of teaching, part of the way that you learn - that one learns, I think - as a teacher.
But the other way one learns is because you're talking to people and whenever you talk to people you learn. I remember way back in the olden days when I was teaching at Johns Hopkins University so I came in with a lesson plan and [ideas of 2:50] what I was going to talk about. Invariably by the time the course was done just the material that I was talking about had grown to twice or three times the size and the next time I taught it, it grew as well. What I found is, it was really the interaction with people. It was the incisive questioning and the Socratic dialogue and going back and forth, that really opened up new avenues of thought for me.
In a way, now that I'm doing a lot of this online and through these videos, it's valuable and it's even more valuable in a way than doing it in person. In my mind it has something to do with - I was in Palo Alto not too long ago, just a couple of nights ago, and I was sitting - [I had a 3:32] chance to meet the CEO of a great app called Glide. Glide is an asynchronous video texting platform. So what happens is - you can all download it onto your apps and it's a lot of fun, you can put me in as a friend and we can video, text each other. But basically what happens is, is that instead of being in a video chat live, you can just video text to your phone and then - and send this little thing to your friend. Then they'll see it and when they have a chance they'll reply.
It's sort of gives you the chance to think. A lot of times when you're in an in-person class you don't really have a chance to think, you're just responding as the student off the cuff without a real chance to think about it. Then the teacher has to respond off the cuff. But what if both sides can really think? That's one of the beautiful things about, I think, the way that we're doing the videos and the comments. Is that I get a chance to think about what I want to say, and then kind of say it. Then you guys have a chance to look at it and respond thoughtfully and respond. Then I can look at your responses, and your responses, whether or not I write a response, enriches my thinking on it going forward. Occasionally I do respond, but don't get a chance obviously to respond to everybody in writing.
So yes, I generally read almost all of the comments. Our staff [as well 4:44] is reading the comments also. Maybe in another question I'll talk a little bit about our staff. I think there's a little bit of a misnomer about the size of the staff in Aleph Beta, I think a lot of you guys think it's big, a lot of you guys think it's small. Actually if you get a chance in your comments over here, I'd be curious to think how big do you think the staff is at Aleph Beta - just give me a number. How big do you think the staff is at Aleph Beta? Just use your little Questions comments there as David reads of the next question. I'm curious to hear your answers to that.
Dave, you're on.
Facilitator: Some answers coming in here, a few people have 10, 5, 10, 5. Those seem to be the hot numbers right now, so we'll see whether that changes.
You guys really should check out our office, you can come and visit, it's a lot of fun as we read the comments and kind of interact with you guys.
Let's continue with the next question here.
Where did Rabbi Fohrman learn his Tanach methodology? How does one learn this type of analysis in order to make one's own insights into the Torah? So a general question Rabbi Fohrman, where did you develop your methodology?
Rabbi Fohrman: Okay so really the truth is I could spend the rest of this webinar really just talking about an answer to this question. But I'm not going to do that, so I'll try to give you a sort of a quickie answer to that question.
All right, I guess I'll start with a story. The two earlier steps for me in terms of developing the methodology in my own life had to do with - I'm going to go back to when I was about 12 years old. So I was preparing my Bar Mitzvah Drasha with the Rabbi of our local Shul Yosef Leibowitz who lives in Kfar Saba now in Israel. I grew up in Berkeley, California. When I was doing that it was Parshat Noach actually, which is this week's Parsha video. He took an interesting stab at it and a lot of times a father or a Rabbi will simply write a Pshetl - as it were - for a kid and the kid will say it. What he did with me is he said, look I want you to read the text of the Bible here, it's your Bar Mitzvah Parsha, and I want you to come back to me with the two or three big questions that trouble you, that you're struggling with to understand in this text.
I thought that that was just so liberating, just to do that, to be able to just look at the text and really open your mind and have the freedom to ask what bothers you. To have that as the beginning of learning, I thought was just such a fascinating way to learn. It was so different than anything I had learnt at school to that point.
To me that's kind of a cornerstone of the methodology that I bring to the table now as an adult many years later. Which is, I think, the first thing I try to do - and you sort of see it on the videos - is look, let's just read the text and then, what are the questions that come to mind? It's so easy to not think of those questions, to be inured to those questions and to not see them.
I talk a lot about the lullaby effect. If you haven't seen Genesis Unveiled in our Feasts section, I recommend you go take a look at that. Right at the beginning in there - and also my book, The Beast that Crouches at the Door, I talk in the beginning about the lullaby effect, which is our tendency to really get kind of suckered into almost like a lullaby, not even listening to the words anymore. We know the story really well, we know where it's going to go and we fail to even be surprised at what happens in the story and we almost fall asleep. The same way a kid can listen to rock-a-bye baby on the treetop and when the wind blows the cradle will rock, when the bough - it's a horrific thing and nobody ever asks a question about it, you just go to sleep. It's because you're not listening to the words.
So the first really freeing aspect - and I think where you really have to start is to just be able to forget everything you know about this, go back to the text and read it. Just let the text speak to you and you begin to ask the questions that are so obvious. A lot of times people will say to me when they listen to the videos, that oh those are such obvious questions, I'm kicking myself for never having asked them. I think it's really the lullaby effect. It's just giving yourself the permission to sort of forget everything you know and just look at this for the very first time and ask questions about it. That itself is a very freeing kind of thing.
It's empowering also in a way that I think one of the things which I think intimidates us a lot about the Bible, is that it's the Bible, you know? Capital B. Sometimes when you read the Bible, you read it in King James and it's thee, thou and thus and it sounds so archaic and scary and that's intimidating. Or if you're an Observant Jew and you've gone to Yeshiva and you've learned Rashi and the Ramban and the Seforno and the Ha'Emek Davar and all that. So you think, here all these really smart people that lived over the ages, and what's the best that I can understand? Maybe I could possibly understand the Mizrachi's understanding of Rashi and how it differs in the Ramban. But I can never really understand the text.
One of the really empowering things is, it's almost like a meditative thing, which is to just let everything go, clear your mind, like one of the things they say in meditation - the first thing is just a blank slate and the serenity of the blank slate. Then to go and just engage the text and then the text kind of enters you and you just kind of let it talk to you and say - and whisper its questions to you. It's just a matter of picking up what's already there, I think.
So that's really the first step and it's something which I learned when I was about 12.
I guess the second step in my methodological development or development of a kind of [macent 10:36] methodology, was I guess a morning in about Eleventh Grade or so, Tenth Grade, in school, where I was going to school in Ner Yisrael in Baltimore. I remember this moment where - I'd come from Berkley and then I'd sort of switched into East Coast mode, coming to Baltimore. Typically in East Coast Yeshivos you spend a lot of time learning Gemara. I couldn't figure out why - for - as important as Gemara was, why it was that everyone was sort of ignoring Bible and Chumash. It just seemed to me it was G-d's word and why weren't we paying more attention to it?
I remember just sitting there with a Sefer Shemot, the Book of Exodus, and - on the grass and reading it and thinking, you know, G-d's pretty smart, there's stuff in here that's really supposed to be talking to us, and I don't know how to access it. I just don't have the tools. I really want those tools. I know that there's a way to do this, I just don't know how. I started reading and trying to do it, and I found myself hitting a brick wall. But I had a sense that it was there in the words. A kind of confidence that it was there.
I guess that kind of thing, a sense that it had to be there, at those deeper levels of meaning, was something that began to motivate me as well.
The third thing, it happened a little bit later, post high school, when I was in higher-level classes in Ner Yisrael. I was in Rabbi Tzvi Berkowitz's Shiur, [Ezra Neuberger's 12:06] Chabura; these are people if you've been to Ner Yisrael you know who they are, if not, you don't. One of the interesting things that happened was in a very sort of advanced Talmud Shiur, there were certain very innovative kinds of methodological techniques that the Rebbe, Reb Tzvi Berkowitz, was using, which I found very, very fascinating in the world of the Talmud.
Just to share one with you. Really the [most one 12:33]. This was sort of the notion that pieces that did not seem to be unified were really unified. You'd look at a tractate and there would be so many different parts of that, and there were just these moving parts, and you - it just looked all disconnected. My mind didn't do very good at remembering disconnected things, I have an awful memory for that sort of thing. What I found in his Shiur, in his classes, was that he had a way of developing these themes that were just underneath the surface of the text, that were implied by the commentators. Then wending them through the entire tractate.
He would show you how these disconnected pieces of text, the way a given commentator like the Ramban would approach them, that the Ramban would have a consistent approach to all these disconnected texts. It was from a sort of certain basic philosophical assumption that he was making.
I found that very, very fascinating and it opened me up to the idea of kind of a subterranean level of meaning in Jewish text, which you could access if you were able to see the text as a unified kind of thing. That one of the challenges was connecting the pieces. I think that became a very important thing for me.
So maybe I'll kind of stop here in terms of how I developed the methodology with that little bit of history, those three things. Back when my Rabbi Yosef Leibowitz was one influence, that morning on the lawn was another influence, my experience with Rabbi Tzvi Berkowitz was another influence.
I haven't really gotten to the core of the methodology really, and some of the literary things, and maybe I'll save that for a venue when we have more time. I will say that we have a methodology course, which we're looking to prepare and we've had a lot of requests about that, which is what I do in the videos is I kind of give you a finished kind of thing, it almost seems like magic, like gee how did you come up with that? But it's not magic and it's not just because have some sort of magical way of looking at the world. It's - there's actually a methodology behind it and it begins with clearing the lullaby effect and clearing your mind and asking the questions.
But that's just the beginning. There's a methodology that goes beyond that and it's something that can be learned. I analogize it as shoes. If you're a shoemaker so there's 13 steps to making shoes and it's not just the 13 steps, it's how you put those 13 steps together, how you're able to integrate the different kinds of disciplines and the practice that you have with doing it.
So there's a kind of methodology to doing what I'm doing as well, that can be learned, and that people have learned. I'd like to actually build a methodology course which is explicit about what those steps are and examples of it. I think teachers will have a lot of fun with it, with kids, because I think teachers and kids can actually work on any given step in the classroom. I think adults will have a lot of fun with it as well. I hope it will be useful to folks.
In the meantime I think that what a lot of you can get if you're looking to get the kind of methodology and do it yourself with text, you can. I've just touched just the bare crust of the Bible, I mean there's so much more. It's like the internet, it's a huge web of interconnected information with almost limitless, infinite wisdom. It's there for the taking, I mean, you can do this. There's so many things that I haven't touched and even stuff that I have touched, there's so much more that can be done with it. So I do encourage you to do it.
In the meantime, reverse engineer the videos. Which is to say, watch the videos and ask yourself, what was he doing there? He was - he keeps on coming up with the stuff, he's calling it - which one of these things is not like the other? I see that's a tool. That's what you're supposed to do. You look at these four things and one of them doesn't seem to fit. The answer to which one of these things is not like the other, is always that it doesn't seem to fit this one, but it really does fit if you can figure out how - that there's a larger theme that you're missing. In which case it all kind of comes together.
So you'll be able to see what those ideas are if you pay attention to the videos. You will reverse engineer it. Even if you don't try to do it, I think you'll end up doing it sort of - you'll just end up doing it by osmosis. I think that a lot of the teachers in classrooms - we've 160 schools that are using Aleph Beta materials, which is really exciting and which I want to talk to you about that one day. Just talk about that, I find it really - I'm really very proud of that, it's just really working out beautifully. I think that's what's happening. A lot of the teachers and students are reverse engineering it and being able to see what are the tools and beginning to use it themselves.
So that's my short answer to a question that really deserves many hours of answer.
Dave, back to you.
Facilitator: I'll actually just add on, when we're in the office we actually get a lot of emails from people who send in actual documents. They send in files and say, hey this is something I've been working on using a very similar methodology that Rabbi Fohrman uses, I just wanted to show it to Rabbi Fohrman and see what he thinks. There's kind of that excitement just by watching the video, as Rabbi Fohrman mentioned, you start to realize that you really can start to attack these texts and analyze them on your own. We love seeing those; when people start to apply that methodology on their own, it's very exciting.
Rabbi Fohrman: David you know, I would say one of my dreams is to build a forum where we can really have that kind of interaction and foster other responsible practitioners of this methodology. It's an exciting thing. One fellow who has been with me for a while, a dermatologist in California, by the name of [Barry Waldman 18:24]. Sent me a huge manuscript on Tzara'at - leprosy. As a dermatologist he had particular interest in it. But he was really using many aspects of this kind of methodology, coming to some very interesting kinds of conclusions.
So we do welcome that stuff and one day maybe we'll create the institute that can be there to more formally bring this methodology to people and facilitate other purveyors of it.
Facilitator: We will start working on that and now you guys can follow up with this.
As you were speaking actually, someone asked - somebody really made a point and said, this is what I found so refreshing about Judaism - I think it was when you were talking about the lullaby effect and being able to ask questions as you read the text. That what I find so refreshing about Judaism that questions are not forbidden, they're not automatic signs of a lack of faith. I think that's a really interesting segue into our next question here.
Someone asked the question, the beginning of the question was a little bit more content specific. But in general the question is, is that, as - Rabbi Fohrman, as you highlight textual parallels and intertextuality in your videos and in your insights. The questioner here pointed out that not a single one of the classic Parshonim makes that connection, so how are we - that means the classic commentators, they seem not to make the same connections that - or at least not explicitly that you are. So how are we, as students supposed to take your material if you have no sources? That's the [core 20:03] of the question. What do we do about sources?
Rabbi Fohrman: Okay so I guess I've got a couple of answers to that. But first to your point about what's refreshing about Judaism is the ability to ask questions. I remember I was in Ohr Somayach once, listening to Rabbi Dovid Gottlieb speak. I think it was the first time I listened to him and that also struck me as very refreshing. He said, you know, other people are threatened by questions. In Europe the good teachers would - if you had a good answer it was like, eh, you had a good answer, but if you had a good question, that's what it was all about, you can ask a good question.
I think the Jewish attitude to questions is an interesting one. We're known as a kind of people that can bicker a little bit and be very question-oriented and have many, many questions. [There is 20:53] a bad side to that I suppose, but there's a good side as well. It's kind of a healthy dose of skepticism. In Yeshiva it carries through. In Yeshiva we prize questions.
But we also have a very interesting attitude towards questions. I remember that moment in Baltimore where a Rebbe of mine in Ner Yisrael - I thought I had asked this wonderful question that completely destroyed this great edifice that he had built in a Talmud class. He thinks about it, strokes his beard for five - for a minute or so - and says [speaking in Yiddish: Nu shtark nisht fun a kasha] and walks away. Which is Yiddish for, you don't die from a question. I thought that's ridiculous, what do you mean you don't die from the question? I just asked you this question that destroys your whole edifice. His idea was, you know you have to understand that there are questions and that's life and questions are okay. We don't get a world which is obvious and which is clear and which there aren't questions.
So just some thoughts on - in response to you who were talking about that, about questions.
Onto the question that David just posed about my methodology. So I will refer you actually to a blog post. There's actually a blog that I haven't been writing much lately, but I do have some entries from a little while ago that I want to point you to on our site, where I actually address this. So maybe I'll actually just kind of take one or two points from that blog post.
First of all, in terms of methodology, some of the methodology I'm doing seems new, and perhaps is new. Some of it though isn't so new, it's actually pretty old. In particular, the intertextual references is actually pretty old. The reason why people say they haven't seen that much of it, is because sort of modern - and by modern I really mean over the last 500 to 1000 years, which is modern in Jewish life. So modern commentators don't really make use of it much but ancient commentators, the Rabbis of the Medrash, do.
By intertextuality of course I'm talking about the propensity of the Torah to sort of quote itself, [to - that really 23:02] strange words or phrases and they'll appear in one text and - you'll see that I'll do this a lot in the videos. That those strange words or phrases will appear in another text and it's not just one word, that strange word or phrase that appears here appears over there. You keep on reading Story B and there's another strange word or phrase and lo and behold it appears in Story A, and then there's another strange word or phrase. It happens like 10 or 12 times and you say to yourself, that can't be a coincidence.
So the Medrash deals with that. The Medrash does that all the time, and Rashi will quote it, you'll see it. Look at the Medrash in the beginning of Chapter 38 that Rashi quotes on Yehuda and Tamar, you'll see it there. Often, by the way, the Medrash will do it and it will do tip of the iceberg work. So in other words the Medrash will point out one or two of the connections and it's kind of like a wink and a nod, and if you figure it out, you'll see the rest.
Look in Chapter 38 the entire theory of the Book of Genesis. Look at the entire theory that Rashi constructs based upon the Medrash about the relationship of the story of Yehuda and Tamar to Joseph based upon intertextual connections of the word Vayeired. You'll find that the Medrash is alluding seemingly to a - and Vayeired and Haker Nah - recognize please. The Medrash is alluding to a whole slough underneath the iceberg of 15 other intertextual parallels, that it's not talking about.
Sometimes the Medrash just talks about a couple of them and sometimes it talks about all of them. But there's no way to [read 24:31] the conclusions that the Rabbis came to without sort of having a very strong suspicion that they saw the rest but didn't really tell you that.
Another example is this upcoming week's Parsha, Lech Lecha. One of the Rabbis makes a comment that everything that happened to Abraham in - when he went down to Egypt with his wife Sarah to escape the famine, happened to the Jews later on when they were enslaved in Egypt. The Medrash goes through 15 intertextual parallels between those.
So that's what the Medrash does. The Medrash will do it consistently. Again, sometimes it tells you about it, sometimes it doesn't tell you [about it 25:14]. Sometimes it does even worse; sometimes it will just give you a conclusion without even telling you where it got this conclusion. If you sniff around a little bit, you'll see that the conclusion are all based on intertextual parallels. That they come up with this crazy statements seemingly and where they're coming from seems to be intertextual parallels.
For an example of that, you can look at the Vayakhel video which is really one of my favorite ones. Sniff around in the Medrash there, you'll see the Rabbis of the Medrash came to the same conclusion I came to. They allude to it with a wink and a nod, there's intertextual parallels. There's no way they could have come to that conclusion without those parallels, otherwise there's just no edifice for it.
So in a way really what I'm doing with a lot of this methodological stuff that seems very new, is not new it's just that different ages go through different phases. Like if you go to the Aleph Beta office you will see - I kid you not - all of our furniture is from the '70s. Now my staff tells me that this is really in. But to me it feels like The Brady Bunch, I just can't handle it. But that's the way it works. In fashion things go in fashion and out of fashion, but for the last 500 or 1000 years it was out of fashion, it's not the way the Medieval Commentators thought.
So in school what do you learn? You learn the Medieval Commentators, so you learn the Ramban, you learn the Seforno, you learn the Ha'Emek Davar, that's not what they were doing. But if you learn the Medrash that is what they were doing. If you learn the Gemara it is what they were doing. But they were doing it with a wink and a nod behind the scenes.
Now you'll say, well if they were doing it Rabbi Fohrman, why weren't they more explicit? Why didn't they tell us about it? How come we have to go digging around? How come they only tell us the top of iceberg and not the bottom of the iceberg? I don't know the answer to that, it would have been nice if they were more explicit about it. But I think I can prove to you that there's a bottom of the iceberg there.
I can speculate to you about why they talk about the type of top of the iceberg and not the bottom of the iceberg. My speculation is, one of the traditional ideas that you find a lot in later commentators, talking about Medrash, is that the Rabbis were dealing with very deep secrets and they felt that these were not good to publicize to everyone. Therefore they spoke about them obliquely. What they did is, they spoke about them in a way which if you were smart and you did your research, you could figure out what they were getting at, and otherwise it would just look like fairytales.
Again, we do a lot of this in the videos. So if you look at our Shemos video, our Shemot video, the beginning of the Book of Exodus, you'll find the - we talk about Medrashim - you'll find this is what I'm doing when I'm talking about Medrash. The Medrash of the hand of the daughter of Pharaoh extending, where that came from. The Medrashim about Miriam. All of those are based upon very, very strong and copious intertextual parallels.
So why indeed do the Rabbis not talk about them? I kind of analogize it sometimes, I don't know, I'm just giving you a theory here. It's like you take your car to the mechanic, right? So - and he fixes the tailpipe. So you say, what was wrong? He says, the tailpipe was broken. So you say, well how did you diagnose that? He says, well we have a computer. But how did the computer know? How do you really know? What was wrong with the tailpipe? At a certain point he's going to lose patience with you and says, look, you know, I'm not taking you to mechanics school. If you want to go to mechanics school, go to mechanics school, but I'm just telling you, your tailpipe was broken.
The question is, what were the Rabbis trying to do with Medrash? Were they trying to teach you their methodology? They definitely had a methodology, were they trying to teach it to you or were they trying to give you their conclusions? They may have been trying to give you their conclusions based upon the methodology; you want to learn the methodology, okay look a little deeper and you can learn the methodology. It's there. You can reverse engineer it.
So a lot of what I'm doing, I think the Rabbis were doing, they just weren't explicit about it. The Rabbis of the Medrash, going way back.
That's true with chiastic structure also, which is [ADBASH 29:15] structure, which is something that I deal with as well. I remember I spoke to Rabbi Feldman in Baltimore, one of - the current Rosh Yeshiva of Baltimore, I showed a very beautiful chiastic structure and he was very taken by it. He never had seen anything like that before. He said, it's certain that Chazal saw that, I mean they must have dealt with that. [We just have to 29:36] figure out where. But that was his immediate response. This is something the Rabbis in the Medrash were dealing with, that their kind of thing, we just have to find it, it's there.
So the methodology seems perhaps more innovative than it is, I think it's resuscitating something which has been around for a while.
That having been said, I will say one other thing, which is that one of the mistakes I think people make is that they - we grow up and a lot of us who have been Observant Jews, we've been educated with the Talmud and Gemara. In Talmud and Gemara which is a legal text there is a tradition which exists in the secular world too, called legal precedent, which is you don't overturn legal precedent so quickly. So if in 1831 a circuit court ruled X, Y, and Z so we take that into account as that's a precedent, it has to be overturned if we're going - or dealt with, and you deal with it.
It's the same thing in Jewish law, precedent matters. So you don't just argue with something that the Medieval Commentator is saying. Medieval Commentators don't just argue with something that Amoraim said 700 years before that. Amoraim don't argue with what Tannaim said 400 years before that.
What that - but that's in legal studies, right? When you get out of the legal realm, those presumptions no longer hold. So for example, if you look at how Bible is studied by the Medieval Commentators you'll see that there is no attention whatsoever paid to precedent when it comes to philosophical understanding of what the Abraham stories mean, what was going on in the Joseph story. Everyone argues with everybody. The Ramban is very happy to argue with the Rabbis of the Talmud 700 years before that, he has no compunctions. This is the same Ramban who would never dare argue in legal matters with a previous source.
This is true with everything. It's true with Hirsch later on, and the - in the Nineteenth Century, it's true with the Ha'Emek Davar in the Nineteenth Century, with the Malbim. All these people, they are entirely new, they're innovative.
I think that there is a misconception that we sometimes come to where we apply the methodology and how we approach Talmud and Jewish legal studies to understanding Bible. When you understand Bible [unclear 31:50] understand Talmud, your first job is to be a reader. Reading comprehension, it's the first thing they test, you're supposed to learn it at age 5. Every one of us as a reader has a responsibility to make sense of the words.
G-d gave this book, He gave us words, there's nothing else. What are we going to do, divorce ourselves from that? Say, we don't have a right to think about it, we don't have a right to see the patterns? The patterns are there, the evidence is there, you can argue with my theory, but you have to deal with the evidence. I mean, what are you going to say about the evidence? Because no one else saw that, that you can't find someone else who saw it. I'm a reader just like you, I'm showing you something, are you going to ignore this? What are you going to do with this?
There's no refutation to that. You have to - the first obligation is to be an intelligent reader. Everyone was an intelligent reader. The Ramban was an intelligent reader, everyone read as they read it and understood it as they read it. It more so in the past 50 years or so where we've gotten into the sense - at least in Jewish circles - that we can't really say anything new. It's very narrow and constricting. So we'll go to the store and we'll buy all these pious books but it's really they're just anthologies, and there's no original thought in that. Then there are these huge anthologies of what people before said, but the sort of subliminal message to all of that is you can't think, all you can do is anthologize what people said, you can't actually approach this text and ask [what you want to say 33:14].
But that actually is not the traditional Jewish way. That's innovative. The traditional Jewish way is no, you have to look, you have to think, you have to question. So I don't think I'm really doing something new in that, I think I'm doing something old.
David, back to you.
Facilitator: I'll just push on that, just very, very briefly if possible. When all of us are learning a text on our own and we do come up with something that seems to be innovative and no one else says it, how do we know, how do we go about making sure that what we're saying is compelling, could be true? Are we meant to - should we be dissuaded perhaps from the fact that no one else says it? How do we prove it to ourselves [unclear 33:14] or that what we're saying is really true or compelling?
Rabbi Fohrman: So again, the question is why is no one else saying it? Is it because everyone has been using your techniques and your methodology and no one came up with it? Or is it because you're using a new kind of methodology? If you're using a new kind of methodology, you have a right to be somewhat less suspicious of your conclusions than if you've been using a kind of technique that people have been using for 500 years and no one saw it. At that point, just a rational person would have to ask themselves, hey, if everybody else has been doing the same thing I've been doing, has been scouring this text using the same tools that I've been using for 500 years and not come up with this conclusion, maybe I'm making a mistake, let me check my math. So that is one of the first things you do.
I remember Ezra Neuberger one of my mentors, would say this to me even in Gemara. He would say, you have the right to argue with Rashi, you have the right to argue with Ramban even in Gemara. But if you're using their methodology, they were pretty smart, you really have to check your math before you're going to argue. Just - there probably is a reason why they didn't come up with that.
That having been said, if you're using new tools, using new tools you'll find new things. I spoke to - I remember Rabbi [unclear 35:05] a Rabbi here in Lawrence, one of the Agudah-type Shuls here. He once - the congregants after listening to one of my talks were actually concerned, they had this question, how could he say this? We don't find this anywhere, but it seems so true, the evidence is there, what do we make of that? He said, the real answer is that the previous commentators didn't have these tools, they didn't have this methodology. This is a new methodology, and with a new methodology you're going to find new things. That's just the way it is. He says, that's the truth.
So that's my short answer.
That having been said, you have to distinguish when you say when you find something new, what is it that you mean? There's two different things. One thing is evidence and the other thing is the theory that you devised based upon that evidence. If you look at any one of those videos you can divide any one of my videos up into both of those things. There is the evidence that I'm assembling; typically the first six or seven minutes of the video, and there are the conclusions that I'm coming to on the basis of those evidence.
Now at that - right, so the evidence is really pretty objective. In other words, is the evidence there or isn't it there? Have I misread the verses? Have I misrepresented a connection? Have I - right? But if the evidence is there, if it's compelling, if I'm making a case to you based upon text, so evidence is evidence, questions are questions, observations are observations. If the stuff is there in the text, you have to deal with that. If I can show you that there are 15 ways in which Text A is mimicked by Text B and seven of those 15 ways are unique, that the only phrases that ever appear in the Torah appear in both of these texts, you can't tell me that that's a coincidence. I mean you can, but the odds statistically of that being true are 500,000 to one. So if you want to take that bet you can take that bet, but you can't argue with that. What you can argue is the conclusion.
Typically what I will - and that's really the art. There's an art and a science to this. The art is the conclusion. Now here too, you know in Yeshiva there's a kind of misnomer that we often talk about, the misnomer is the Chiddush. Right? When you're a young kid you want to say a Chiddush. A Chiddush is just Hebrew for something new. You want to come up with something innovative, your way of looking at things. Everyone has a - we're told, drummed, beaten into ourselves from a young age, everyone has a Chelek in Torah, you have your own way of looking at things and you should come and say your Chiddush.
I would beg to differ with that. I would say, if what you're saying is really a Chiddush, if that's what it is, that is your way of looking at things, then it's probably wrong. In the final analysis what you really should be trying to do is you're not trying to make something up, you're not trying to come with mental gymnastics to devise this great theory, so everybody can clap and see how brilliant you are, that's not what it's about. It's about not creating something. It's about discovering what's there, what is the Bible actually saying?
So it's laying out this evidence and then the question you have to ask yourself is not what's the most innovative way of understanding that evidence, what's the least innovative way of understanding that evidence? What is the most conservative interpretation that you can muster for that evidence? That the simplest, most basic, straightforward way of understanding why those texts would be parallel would be X, so what are the implications of X?
Now there you can argue. You can come to me and say, Fohrman, I don't think that's the simplest explanation of the evidence you've assembled. I think that 13 of your 15 points are correct, but still I think that - I'm not arguing with you so much on that, or I am, but - I'm tweaking it a little bit. But my argument is with your conclusions. I think that the simpler conclusion is Q. So look, I have no way of understanding - of monopoly on the truth and neither do you. We have to have some real humility when you come up with these things and understanding that you yourself may see it differently a few weeks from now or a few years from now.
None of this is written in stone, it's not Torah Mi'Sinai, it's simply - it's really a scientific endeavor. It's almost like scientific methodology, which is what you do in science is you observe what's there, you make observations and then you try to come to the most conservative interpretation of that data, to try to get a handle on what the world is like. That, I think, is what we're trying to do with the Torah.
Facilitator: Let's move on, and this one, everyone can buckle their seatbelts for, is an exciting one. What does - this one is from [Noah 39:45] - what does Rabbi Fohrman think of academic biblical criticism?
Rabbi Fohrman: What does Rabbi Fohrman think about academic biblical criticism? I think…
Rabbi Fohrman: What I think of academic biblical criticism, well we can spend a whole, long time talking about that. But I suppose what we're talking about here is the Documentary Hypothesis. Basically the notion that the Bible was cobbled together by a bunch of different authors in different time periods, and what is it that I have to say about that?
I'm not a believer in that, I do believe that the author behind the Torah really is G-d and yet - so [what would I say about that 40:45?] [Unclear] - so I will give you this short [unclear]. The way academic biblical criticism kind of works is it says, well, [unclear] make a [unclear] analysis of the Bible and comes to the conclusion that there were different [unclear 41:09] that were woven together, kind of thrown together, [unclear] which does believe in academic biblical criticism.
So say Chapter 38, which is Yehuda and Tamar, is a good example of multiple authorships in the Torah. It is an egregious violation of the flow of the Joseph story. The Joseph story begins with Chapter 37 and takes you through the entire rest of the book of Genesis. Chapter 38 is an inexcusable digression into the life of a side character, Yehuda, which has nothing to do with the broader story.
Obviously then, it was interpolated later by a Judah-ite. You see there's the Judah part of the kingdom and then there's the Israelite part of the kingdom. So the Israelite part of the kingdom, they were very happy [with Genesis 42:01] because they're from Joseph. But the Judah-ites wanted to have a place in the Book of Genesis too, so they made this whole thing about their ancestor Judah and then later on they put it in there and it got all mushed together by the redactor, but clearly it doesn't really belong. Because otherwise why else was it there?
Now how would you respond to that? So there's really two ways you would respond - three ways you could respond. You could accept that or you could reject it. Now one way you could reject it, is you could [unclear 42:32] for why it's there. I think it's there - and then you can come up with any number of reasonably creative reasons for why you think Chapter 38 is there. That's one way of responding.
By the way, if you look at commentators, commentators will do that. You could look through the classic Medieval Commentators and you'll have the Ramban's reason for why it's there, you'll have Rashi's reason for why it's there. So it wasn't like they were blindsided by this. It wasn't like Medieval Commentators who accepted the Divinity of the Torah weren't aware that Chapter 38 was different than Chapter 37 and Chapter 39.
That's one of the things you can do.
The problem with that is that really all you're doing is playing defense. So you could play defense with biblical criticism and say, look you have your way of interpreting this, you have your way of interpreting what Chapter 38 was doing there, it was interpolated by a later author. I have my way of interpreting what Chapter 38 was doing there, it's there to teach you X, Y and Z. The problem is at the end of the day all you've done is play defense. You really don't have a counterargument, you're just saying here's how you understand it, and here's how I understand it.
I think what's powerful actually about the methodology which we've been working with here with these videos at Aleph Beta, is that it actually provides you with a framework for playing offense. I remember back - and I'll get to Chapter 38 in a moment. For those of you who really want to understand what I'm talking about, and I'm just going to allude to certain ideas, but you can look at our - in again, in our Feasts section - I don't know, by the way, how many of you know that there is a Feasts section to our site. We don't just do Parsha videos. If you click library at the top of our site, so when you click library you actually get to see everything we do, so it's a lot more than just the Parsha videos.
At the bottom, if you scroll all the way down, there's something called Feasts. Right? There's Snacks, Meals and Feasts. So if you go to the Feasts section there are these really long, wonderful things. I just tell you, that I have a bias towards Feasts, I think in Feasts - it's hard for me to condense what I'm talking about in 10 minutes. A feast is a whole mass of 10-minute videos, which is creating a large, epic view on something. So one of those Feasts is actually on the Joseph story and wouldn't you know it, one of the units in those Feasts deals with Yehuda and Tamar.
So if you're really interested in Yehuda and Tamar and an actual response to biblical criticism within the context of Chapter 38, look at my stuff on Yehuda and Tamar, it's actually one of the oldest pieces I put together right when I was developing this methodology 15 years ago. It was one of the first pieces that I really put together that I liked. It - I think it's still very nice. So I would urge you to go take a look at Chapter 38. I will get back to Chapter 38 in a moment.
But one of the stories I want to tell you is that when I was…
Rabbi Fohrman: When I was teaching in Johns Hopkins a number of years ago, so I remember I was doing a class in Genesis and look, I'm teaching at Johns Hopkins, right? So I'm an Orthodox Rabbi, I have my theological beliefs about the Bible, but I'm doing a very basic - I'm doing a pretty academic class and I'm not really talking about authorship, it's a subject which I studiously avoid. Then lo and behold on the sixteenth class, wouldn't you know it, but a guy by the name of [Gerry 45:45] a professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine has been avidly listening to the whole class. So he raises his hand toward the end of the last session and says, Rabbi, will you mind saying a word about authorship? Who wrote this text?
So I was very defensive, because what am I going to say in Johns Hopkins University? So I said, well what do you mean? He says, well I don't know, it's just like - I always thought that the Bible was thrown together by a bunch of different authors and a redactor kind of stitched it all together. But I have to tell you that in this course I just don't see that. Everything is woven together, there's all these different layers and meaning and all these textual nuances and text that appears here is reappearing here and it's reappearing here. There's reasons for that, there's themes that emerge from all of that and that it's so woven together, I just don't see how more than one author could have possibly put that together over hundreds of different years. Could you explain how that worked?
So I said - like I didn't pay him to say that, [laughs], like, that it's not my belief that it was more than one author.
That's really going on offense. Going on offense is that if you can show that what looks like fragments isn't fragments - and it gets to what I was talking about before with the Talmud, that moment in Tzvi Berkowitz's class, where I saw that there was this tractate but it was a unified tractate, and it was deeply unified. Those are very sublime moments and when you see that in the Bible, it's powerful and it's also evidence. That doesn't happen easily with five different authors who lived in different time periods, that were thrown together by a redactor who just wanted to quickly make it work. That's really a tough thing to do.
I think what you see in these classes is that there are layers of meaning. The intertextuality and the questions, they take you somewhere and it's evidence-based, it's not something which is just you pull out of your hat. The reason why you should believe something I say is not because I whiten my beard and it's not because I have credentials and not because I can put all the plaques up on my wall of all my degrees. You believe because I'm assembling evidence and you believe the evidence or you don't believe the evidence, and the conclusion rings true to you or it doesn't ring true to you. It's - and so you - again you have to grapple with the evidence.
So going back to Chapter 38, what if I show you and you can see [unclear 47:53] this in the feast, that what seems like a digression, actually borrows 17 different textual evidence from Chapter 37 and another 19 from Chapter 39. Now what? You really think that's an interpolation? You really think it just dropped out of the sky and just happened to correlate, intertextually? Once you see those intertextual corollaries there's theories that begin to emerge that - just organically - from those particular language connections as to what Chapter 38 is doing there.
It's giving you an entire [completely 48:27] newly spin on the perpetrator of the sale of Joseph. Because how does the sale of Joseph end? It ends with Yehuda - Judah - being the one who orchestrates what happens to Joseph, and the very next story is about him. It's about the chickens coming home to roost. It's about what happens when you're the orchestrator of the sale of Joseph.
The Torah has some very serious things to say about that, if you're willing to pay attention. If - and if you're not, you can just glaze right over it, the Rabbis with a wink and a nod, they'll point you to it, with Medrash and say, here's what's going on. If you want to take a look, it's here, if you want to ignore it, go ignore it. Want to believe biblical criticism, whatever you want to believe, believe it, but there's meaning there beneath the surface and the Torah tells its meaning to us in different kinds of ways that we aren't often used to.
You know, western texts are very linear, you start with A and you go to B and you go to C. Rabbi Leibowitz - again that mentor I mentioned back in Berkley - he used to say that the Torah is not a western text, you can start anywhere and be equally lost. It's one, big constellation and it's all a web and it all relates - it's the original internet, it's Google. That's its power, its interconnectivity.
But you know until the internet no one thought that way. It's interesting if you look at Crash Course from John Green and Hank Green, one of the arguments they make in Big History is about if you want to look at the large sweep of history, the large sweep of history is about humankind slowly becoming more and more complex and more interconnected. It wasn't just the internet, it was - it began with trade routes established thousands of years ago between the Americas and between Asia and South America. That began to create interconnectedness between these worlds.
It accelerated with the Agrarian Revolution when people could settle down and then they could be in cities and establish trade. It accelerated more in the Industrial Revolution and it accelerated even more in the Information Revolution. It accelerated even more last night when I read a review in The New York Times about Apple. That Apple's - the co-existence of all the different Apple systems. With Yosemite the new Apple iOS operating system, all the - everything is integrated. What happens on your desktop is what happens on your phone, they look the same. It wasn't always that way with Apple, your desktop was one thing, your phone was the other thing.
So slowly, over time, we've begun to see the power of interconnectivity. We've begun to see it but the Torah always had it. The Torah is interconnectivity. It's G-d's word interconnected. So if you're too linear to see that, then you end up with, well [are you 51:12] fragment things and you see it as just a bunch of fragments, because you're fragmented. Or, you can be willing to perceive its unity and the evidence for its unity and then things look a little different.
Dave, back to you.
Facilitator: You should just know, as you were talking about the Feasts and [Chris 51:32] pointed out, thank you for the Feasts, definitely my favorite. So Chris you just earned a very special spot in Rabbi Fohrman's heart.
Rabbi Fohrman: [Unclear]. By the way we're going to come up with these badges and things and so we're going to give you guys badges and stars and all sorts of things to - so you can stand out with distinction on our [unclear 51:49]. So Chris you just earned your star.
We have very little time left, but I do want to ask this question and perhaps we can have a more condensed answer than we would prefer because of the time, but I do want to present the question.
That is from [Ruthie 52:05]. She said, how can you prove G-d effectively to a young person who has been driven away from belief in G-d, and religion, through such questions for which no one seems to have an answer? For which most Rabbis I've consulted give the formulaic answer that if you are thinking about dropping your belief these questions are really just the camouflage of your desire to smoke on Shabbat or break some other Halacha - Jewish law.
Rabbi Fohrman: Okay so I think the end of that question is very telling. Listen to the kind of responses that Ruthie is talking about getting from Rabbis. The Rabbis are threatened, right? I mean, why else are you giving a response like that - the only reason why you're asking this question is because you probably want to smoke on Shabbat, so why don't you just come down to what you really want to talk about? Let's talk about smoking on Shabbat, you don't care about the philosophy. That's really very demeaning. I remember when people would say that, but it's just demeaning. Maybe you could convince 20-year-old me of that, but you can't convince me now of that. I think it's just not a nice thing to say to someone, it betrays your own insecurity.
Unfortunately, there's a lot of that around. I remember my own daughter told me something which would have been a Purim skit and silly if it weren't so painfully true. She had this teacher who - I guess from Europe - who was talking to them, she was like - girls - in class once. This is what she said. [Speaking in Yiddish accent] Girls, today I vant to talk about vat is an Apikoros. Right? An Apikoros is a heretic. Vat is an Apikoros. So she says, an Apikoros is some-vun who asks hard qvestions. [Laughs]. She says, you know what a hard qvestion is, like vy did the holocaust happen, this a hard qvestion. Somebody asks a qvestion like this, they are an Apikoros.
So [Shalva 53:54] timidly raises her hand - my daughter - and says, but maybe they really want to know? Right? Like how do you know they're trying to spite you, maybe they just want to know? There was dead silence in the room, the teacher thinks for a little bit and she says, [Spoken in Yiddish accent], you, you're asking a hard qvestion, see girls, this is a hard qvestion, this is what I mean ven I talk about Apikoros. So it's like - this is the sort of camouflage kind of response.
So the first thing I would say in terms of talking with a kid about proving G-d, is you don't have to prove G-d. You know, G-d didn't make it so easy, there's a lot of grey in the world, we've got to live with grey, everybody lives with grey. Find me the person who lives with great certainty with regarding any of the big questions of life. The things in life that are really worth knowing are grey, you just have to struggle with them. What's the meaning of your life? You know the answer of that? Let's say G-d exists, why were you put here, do you know? Do you really know? Can you prove it? So - but it's the most important question in the world, yet you have to live with the grey, that's the whole point, G-d wants you to live with the grey.
There's that sense that G-d says yeah - read Heschel, when Heschel talks about this. Heschel talks about that - the Ineffable - which is what he calls G-d - is the tangent to the curve of human existence. That's really it. You can get this sense, like in the sunset, the sense of the Ineffable G-d out there. But G-d is out of the game, if the game is the world, G-d is Milton Bradley, G-d is Parker Brothers, you don't see Parker Brothers in the world. One of the things you can say is, that that's where G-d is. We talked about this. You go back to our Parsha videos, show your kids Vayakhel and Pekudei that kind of talk about this. About where is G-d. The Kabbalistic notion of Tzimtsum is that G-d is outside, G-d is the author of the game. You know, if you're playing Monopoly you don't see G-d on the board.
I often talk about - I think it's in the Parsha videos, my kind of facetious theory about the little hat, little shoe on their way around the board. So little hat says to little shoe, you know, do you believe in Parker? So little shoe says, what are you talking about? So he says, well right over there on the side of the board, it says made by Parker Brothers, so do you believe in Parker? So he says, well what do you mean, of course [I believe 56:12] in Parker. He says, well I have to tell you something and I've been around this board many, many times, I've seen everything. I've seen Tennessee Avenue, Park Place, Chance, Reading Railroad, and I've just never seen Parker. I collect my $200 every week, I've seen jail, where is Parker?
So you know, what's the answer to that? The answer is, you idiot, Parker is not on the board, right? Parker made the board, you're not going to find Parker in the board. We're the fish in the fishbowl, you're not going to find the maker of the fishbowl in the fishbowl. If he made the fishbowl, he's out of the fishbowl. So he may relate to the fishbowl but you're not going to find him right here, right?
Miracles they happen now and then, you pray for them, but it's not like they're - you know, where's all the miracles? G-d made a world, right and there's miracles, otherwise there's no world left anymore, there's no dependable environment in which these human beings can exist, because every day this is happening, every day that's happening. The whole idea of Shabbos is that look I stopped creating the world, this is the world, now live in it. I'm not going to do miracles all the time, otherwise I violate my covenant with you.
So one of the things is setting expectations, so what is your expectation for G-d? Part of that is understanding that G-d is not like you and me that I can hug and see in that kind of way.
But another thing you can do is an emotional thing, a non-intellectual thing, and that's really - we just have a minute or so left. But that's really I think to honor the question. One of the - you know I was just reading a book last night here on my little Kindle over here, it's the Freakonomics book, the folks behind Freakonomics. How to Think Like a Freak. One of the guys over here, they're writing and - let me just share this with you and I'm going to invite you in our last couple of minutes to just respond here with Your Questions - you can write in your answers to that. But I'm going to read you a little something and I want to see your answers to it.
Imagine you were asked to listen to a simple story and then answer a few questions about it. Here's the story. So I'm going to read you a story now, it's only a couple of lines long, and I want you to answer these questions. A little girl named Mary goes to the beach with her mother and brother, they drive there in a red car. At the beach they swim, they eat some ice cream, they play in the sand, and they have sandwiches for lunch.
Now the questions. Question number 1 - and I want you to give me your answers, ready? Question number 1, what color was the car? What color was the car? Give me your answers.
Question number 2, did they have fish and chips for lunch or not? Did they have fish and chips for lunch or not?
Question number 3, did they listen to music in the car? Question number 3, did they listen to music in the car?
Question number 4, did they drink lemonade with lunch? Did they drink lemonade with lunch?
Okay, now let's go back to the story. So many of you got this right, but some of you didn't. The first two questions you know, red - it was red; no, that's correct. But the second two questions the correct answer is we don't know. We do not know whether they drank lemonade for lunch, right? We just don't know the answers to those - whether there was music in the car, it was neither yes nor no. But a lot of the answers - which people gave over here - is the initial human response is, when I don't know instead of saying I don't know, I say, no. It's hard for us to learn to say I don't know. I give a lot of credit to the folks who were able to say, I don't know, when you really don't know.
I think that's the first thing to become conscious of that impulse and to be able to relax and meditate it and to be able to say, hey, things can be grey, it's okay to say, I don't know. So you're struggling with G-d, I struggle with G-d sometimes too. Sometimes I just don't know, let me share with you personally where I come from with G-d. It doesn't have to be that you're writing the treatise on G-d, but you can share personally where some of your own belief comes from and your own struggles.
But don't go and retreat into the - being so threatened by the question that you browbeat the kid. Because then emotionally you're destroying him and you're pushing him away. So if it's like, you're an Apikoros, or if it's no, I know you just want to smoke on Shabbos, so I'm trying to intimidate you, I'm fighting against you. Don't. Why? Because the answer is you really don't know, you're just not willing to say you don't know. You're not willing to confess your own doubt [that there's 60:53] things you don't know about the meaning of life. You don't know really about exactly the proof of G-d. You can share where your faith comes from.
I think teaching kids that that's okay, that you can say I don't know with integrity and relate to them as a human being and honor the question, and share and struggle and come to some sort of shared understanding and relate to the kid on that field of grey. I think is pretty empowering.
So I'm going to end with that. David I'm going to throw it to you to kind of close this up. But this is a lot of fun, we should do this again.
Facilitator: Thank you Rabbi Fohrman so much for sharing your time and really being candid with all your answers. It was very insightful and a lot of fun.
So before we go I just want to let everyone know that a recording of this webinar will be posted on our site in the library, it's in the Feasts section. So you can check out…
Rabbi Fohrman: Take care to watch those Feasts, guys. They're there for you to watch [and browse 61:51] - this is - click that library tab, click down to the bottom, and enjoy.
Facilitator: So yes, when you're in the Feasts section, you'll see under Premium Webinars, so if you'd like to catch anything again that Rabbi Fohrman mentioned tonight, you can certainly check that out. We also encourage you to share it with anyone who may have missed this, really - our Premium members who may have missed this. We'd really encourage you to do that.
Everyone, thank you again so much for joining us, and for submitting your thoughtful questions, and really thank you especially for being such important members of the Aleph Beta Family. We say this a lot but it's true, we really couldn't do everything we do here, without you. So thank you and we really look forward to seeing and hearing from all of you very soon.
Rabbi Fohrman: Have a good night folks.