Human psychological nature allows for intrinsic contradictions between one's beliefs. For example, "I love Daddy the most" vs "I love Mammy the most", or "Shabbos is G-d's greatest gift to the Jews", "Torah is the greatest gift to the Jews".

Numerous verses in Tanac"h and their interpretations contradict each other, numerous Halochos contradict each other, Poskim contradict themselves in their writings. But we feel that it has to be resolved and seek for numerous Tirutzim to do so.

Where does the need to reconcile come from - is it our curiosity alone or G-d's commandment and why this is so important in Judaism?

  • 2
    Why don’t you see a problem with the Torah contradicting itself? Hashem isn’t bound by human psychology. Why don’t you see a problem with Poskim contradicting themselves? If they still hold of their previous opinions, how can they now pasken differently - and saying their opinion changed over time is a valid answer, one the Gemara itself uses, but we try not to use it. If your question is why we presume that their opinion didn’t change, you should be asking that instead. (I didn’t downvote, but I suspect something to this effect is why those who did, did.)
    – DonielF
    Oct 24, 2019 at 23:36
  • Exaggeration is not contradiction.
    – Rafael
    Oct 24, 2019 at 23:48
  • What's with people downvoting this question? Seems like a pretty good question to me.
    – Aaron
    Oct 25, 2019 at 0:33
  • see intro to SMAG
    – Dr. Shmuel
    Oct 31, 2019 at 21:44

2 Answers 2

  1. Practical contradictions need to be resolved, otherwise, we would not know what to do.

  2. We try to resolve theoretical contradictions, because that is how we discover deeper levels of understanding. The resolution of the contradiction is almost always by drawing some new distinction and noting that one rule applies in one instance, while the other side of the contradiction applies in the other variation. This clarifies both rules, and gives us a new perspective.

  3. Sometimes, especially in matters of Psak, maybe the resolution is that one opinion is wrong. Its always good to reach such a resolution (if indeed one opnion is wrong) because then we have cleared up an incorrect idea.

  4. If resolving a contradiction will not make a difference practically and we do not expect it to add any insight (e.g. different minhagim) then we generally would not care about resolving it.

  • Writing about resolving contradictory minhagim reminded me of this sefer from the Meiri: beta.hebrewbooks.org/8902.
    – simyou
    Oct 25, 2019 at 10:43
  • Thank you, very insightful. How about relying on some sources? Where does this need come from - our curiosity or G-d's commandment. 1. THere's nothing wrong with letting people follow different Halachic approaches. We will know that both ways are legit and we could do either way. 3. An opinion can seldom be wrong as nothing can be truly proved in Halachah.
    – Al Berko
    Oct 25, 2019 at 11:32

I will try to answer this question because I feel it's important. I don't mean to answer every question you post, but the content is intriguing, so you could see that as a compliment if you like. I will make this a short answer for that reason.

The Rambam contradicts himself in the Guide. Is it because of Athens vs Jerusalem or, is it secrets, an esoteric Maimonides? Must we know the secrets to life in order to live a good, properly moral, decent life? It appears that they are many contradictions in the Tnanch and in our own life. Perhaps part of the answer can be found in Rabbi Ishmael's statement dibra torahk’lashon b’nei adam. He felt that “The Torah speaks in the language of people.” Since Rabbi Ishmael felt that “the Torah [which is intended for humans] speaks in human language," it follows that the Torah is filled with repetitions for clarity, it is often flowery or poetic and full of symbolism.

Rabbi Akiva takes the opposite approach and claims that each letter of the Torah bears some kind of significance. Because the Torah is perfect, nothing can be superfluous. Everything is explicit and has a lesson to be learned. Rashi tries to contend with the apparent contradictions found in the Torah using the Akivian method.

Could it be that there is a strong urge to remove contradictions in the Torah because we have a wrong assumption about G-d and His Torah? For example, do we keep the mitzvot because G-d commanded it or is it as Rambam said because the Torah helps improve the individual and society? If we do it for G-d, does G-d change? Does G-d have emotions? Is this a contradiction?

In the first chapter of his Mishneh Torah, the Rambam wrote that since G-d does not speak the Torah is a great human achievement but nonetheless a human achievement. But it is still divine.

It was written by divine inspiration. Moshe wrote the whole Torah by studying G-d’s word written in nature. G-d, who is divine, created the divine laws of nature. Since the Torah copied these divine laws, G-d’s laws, the Torah is divine. A mdirash says that Abraham discovered G-d by studying the heavens and G-d came to him. There's another midrash which states that G-d looked into the Torah and created the world. Could it be fliped in this scenario? That Moshe looked into nature and produced the Torah?

Are you bothered if the event was natural? How does this make you feel? Revelation. What exactly is “revelation”? Does G-d speak? Is it possible that a person can hear G-d’s voice? If G-d did not speak, was it inspiration or insight—but nevertheless an act he was uncertain about. If it was G-d’s voice as the Bible implies, was it a small still voice as with Elijah or was it fiery thunder as with the people at Sinai? If this is the case, does contradiction really matter? Maybe we think in clarity when we are confused?


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