Thursday, July 28, 2016

Is medical research a good thing for humanity? R' Dessler's opinion on hishtadlus and hashgacha

The answer seems obvious, of course it is. After all, medical research helps finds cures for diseases and saves lives.

However, according to R' Dessler medical research is actually a bad thing for humanity for the following reason.

R' Dessler holds that there is no cause and effect in this world, everything is from Hashem. Man cannot do anything in this world, what looks like cause and effect is actually a test for man. Man is supposed to see through cause and effect and recognise that Hashem is actually the only cause and effect. Hishtadlus/man's effort, is only a tax. It has no effect, it is simply there so that the charade is kept up. According to R' Dessler, a person should do the minimum hishtadlus that is required because it doesn't help anyway. Anything more then the minimum is simply a waste of time and effort and if the person thinks that it helps is actually kefira. Therefore, medical research not only doesn't help, no one is cured by medicine, they are cured by Hashem, but it makes things worse. Medicine is just another test from Hashem and since medicine makes it look like there is cause and effect, it takes away from peoples emuna and causes more kefira in the world. Additionally, now that medicine has become common and accepted, everyone must do it to fulfill their minimum hishtadlus. In other words, nowadays, we have to waste time and money on medicine that doesn't work anyway because it has become accepted and therefore falls under hishtadlus. In other words, every time we come up with a new medical procedure, we are in essence increasing our hishtadlus tax.

If we think hard about R' Dessler's opinion it is essentially absurd.

Life expectancy until about 1850 was between 35-40 in Europe. Since 1850, life expectancy has gone up to about 80 (see The explanation would seem to be quite simple. Modernization and industrialisation (especially the advances in medicine) improved the health of the population dramatically and caused the dramatic rise in life expectancy.

However, according to R' Dessler how can we explain this dramatic increase in life expectancy? If modern medicine has no effect and it's just a charade/tax and everything is only from Hashem why the change? When you couple this with the idea of yeridos hadoros, that every generation declines spiritually and is on a lower level then the previous generation, the question gets even stronger. Why should our generation which is on a lower spiritual level then the generations a few hundred years ago live so much longer?

Additionally, according to R' Dessler, there really is no such thing as an expert in anything other then Torah. The reason is very simple, mans actions have no effect on the real world. The only thing that affects the world is Hashem. The expert surgeon saves no one with his skill, rather Hashem does, its all just a facade, Hashem is saving the person. So in essence, the experts success proves nothing since there is no cause and effect.

In fact, even the Charedi world doesn't seem to hold like R' Dessler all the time.  The Jewish Worker pointed out when R' Elyashiv needed heart surgery, they flew in the top cardiac/blood vessel surgeon from Cleveland (a religious Catholic) to do the surgery. According to R' Dessler bringing the top surgeon from America should be considered too much השתדלות and a lack of בטחון. After all, Hashem is doing the healing not the surgeon and once we have done our השתדלות, going to the doctor and having the surgery, why should it matter whether the surgeon is the best in the world or simply Joe surgeon who is competent? As long as we do our השתדלות to avoid requiring a נס, the rest is a גזירה מן השמים. If the גזירה is that the surgery will be successful, then it will be successful even if done by the average surgeon, and if the גזירה is that it won't be successful then it won't help that you have the best surgeon.

Another example is when government funding to the yeshivas was cut. Everyone in the Charedi world blamed Yair Lapid and the government for taking the money away from the Yeshivas. And yet, according to R' Dessler, that is kefira. Money like everything else comes from Hashem and if Hashem wanted the Yeshivas to get the money they would get it no matter what Yair Lapid wanted.

On the other hand when it suits them, the Charedi world adopts R' Dessler's opinion. For example, the Charedi take on Iron Dome during the war with Gaza was it's not "Iron Dome [saving us] it's Hashem". This went so far that a columnist on the Charedi site Kikar Hashabbat wrote a column bemoaning the fact that all we hear about in the news is praise for Iron Dome and that no one gets up and says that we are being saved by Hashem in the merit of our Torah learning and mitzvos.

The hypocrisy is unbelievable, but it also shows how even on fundamental issues like how does the world run, Judaism has no real answer. When it really affects them (health issues, money issues) people instinctively understand that the world works on cause and effect and therefore act that way. On the other hand, to justify their hashkafa of no army and torah only, they use R' Dessler's hashkafa.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Hashgocha Pratis, drawing some conclusions

In my previous post, I detailed the various opinions about what Hashgocha Pratis means. Now, I would like to draw some conclusions based on that. To summarise there are 2 basic contradictory approaches to Hashgocha Pratis:

  1. Absolute Hashgocha - A leaf doesn't fall without it being decreed in Heaven
  2. Variable Hashgocha with no Hashgocha on non-humans and little to no hashgocha on most people
I was always taught in Yeshiva that the biggest goal and life was to try and understand Hashem as best as we can. Torah learning is supposed to give us an insight into Hashem because it's his torah. The most fundamental thing that Hashem does is run the world. You would think that Judaism would at least have a clear model of how God runs the world and yet, we have 2 wildly conflicting models. This is not only a philosophical question, this question is critical to how we should live our lives. If we go with the first approach then our actions are basically meaningless and we should do as little as possible. For example, in Shu"t Mishne Halachos he is against Genetic testing (Dor Yesharim) because everything is based on Hashgacha anyway. On the other hand with approach 2 our actions are very meaningful and we absolutely have to do as much as we can. So what is a person to do?

To sum up, there is a fundamental dispute about how Hashem runs the world which has very real world implications as to how we should live our lives. How can it be that Judaism doesn't have a clear answer to this most fundamental question of how does Hashem run the world?  How can this be the source of a huge dispute?

Monday, July 18, 2016

Hashgocha Pratis, what does it really mean?

The popular current view especially in the Charedi world of Hashgacha Pratis is that everything is a gezera from heaven and a leaf doesn't fall without it being decreed in heaven. 

However, the fact is that this is not the traditional view of the Rishonim and in Chazal we find some statements that seem to point to everything is under hashgacha (for example the Gemara in Chullin 7b "אין אדם נוקף אצבעו מלמטה אלא אם כן מכריזין עליו מלמעלה") while there are other statements that explicitly state that there are things not under hashgacha (for example Bava Basra 144b אמר ר' חנינא: הכול בידי שמים, חוץ מצינים פחים, whatever that means or Moed Katan 28a חיי, בני ומזוני, לא בזכותא תליא מילתא, אלא במזלא תליא מילתא).

Some of the greatest Rishonim, the Ramban and the Rambam both write explicitly that Hashgacha is nowhere near absolute and there is no Hashgacha whatsoever on animals. Other Rishonim (Ran, Rashba, Meiri) as well agree that hashgacha is not absolute. In fact, it is hard to find any Rishonim who hold like the common (mis)conception that even a leaf falling is under hashgacha. The Chinuch for example is very unclear what he holds about people, but he writes sharply that it makes no sense to think that there is hashgacha on non-human beings (he writes in Mitzva 169 There are sects among mankind who maintain that Divine providence controls all the matters of this world… that when a leaf falls from a tree, He decreed that it would fall…. This approach is far-removed from the intellect.). The Chovos Halevovos may hold that there is Hashgacha on everything but he is certainly in the minority if not a דעת יחיד.

A number of acharonim explain the story of Yosef and the pit in Parshas Vayeshev based on this. When the brothers are planning on killing Yosef, Reuven saves him by suggesting throwing him into the pit. The mefarshim ask what did Reuven accomplish, the pit was very dangerous (full of snakes, etc.), even life threatening. The אור החיים and the אלשיך both answer as follows. A person has בחירה חפשית and therefore the brothers could kill Yosef even if he was not supposed to die. However, animals since they have no בחירה חפשית cannot kill someone if he is not supposed to die. In other words, בחירה חפשית trumps hashgocha pratis. The Netziv gives this answer as well, however he qualifies it by saying that this only applies to someone who is not a צדיק גמור, but a צדיק גמור cannot be harmed even through בחירה חפשית.

We see an amazing point here, not only is Hashgacha not absolute but free will can trump hashgacha. A person could have been judged on Rosh Hashanah for life and yet, still die that year because another person used their free will to kill him. 

We have to ask a number of questions:
1. How can it be that the Charedi world has adopted a position regarding Hashgacha that is against almost all the Rishonim and many Acharonim?
2. How can anyone really believe this?

I think that the answer to question 1 is as follows. We see that the Charedi world has moved away from a rationalistic position and has fully adopted a Kabbalistic/Mystical position. Within a kabalistic/mystical world where mitzvos create spiritual energy which affects the physical world and things like mezuzos act like shields, it makes a lot of sense to adopt the position that the physical world is meaningless and everything happens based on Hashgacha. It is also fits the current Charedi worldview of Torah only. If everything is anyway from Hashem then why bother working, it is meaningless anyway. 

Question 2 has really bothered me for many years. According to current Charedi thought best expressed by R' Dessler and the Chazon Ish, hishtadlus is completely ineffectual and is just a tax. A person should do the minimum hishtadlus possible because it doesn't work anyway. 

I found this hashkafa to be completely untenable. I could not accept that the whole world is one big fake and nothing that human beings do has any purpose or meaning. And the truth is, the Charedi world doesn't believe it either. When R' Elyashiv needed to have heart surgery, they flew in the top cardiac/blood vessel surgeon from Cleveland (a religious Catholic) to do the surgery. This completely contradicts R' Desslers view. After all, Hashem is doing the healing not the surgeon and once we have done our השתדלות, going to the doctor and having the surgery, why should it matter whether the surgeon is the best in the world or simply Joe surgeon who is competent? As long as we do our השתדלות to avoid requiring a נס, the rest is a גזירה מן השמים. If the גזירה is that the surgery will be successful, then it will be successful even if done by the average surgeon, and if the גזירה is that it won't be successful then it won't help that you have the best surgeon. The same goes for politics and government money. The Charedi press and people got apoplectic when Lapid cut the budget for the Yeshivas. They blamed him personally, Yet, according to their hashkafa, it's not him, it's hashem. He has no power to do anything. The money doesn't come from him it comes from hashem, so why get upset?

In fact, what does it actually mean that someone is considered the best surgeon? After all, הכל בידי שמים, our success is actually an illusion to make it look like it is our skill. In fact, our success in worldly matters is simply a גזירה מן השמים so the fact that he successfully operated is not due to his skill but due to the גזירה מן השמים. So when you really think about it, there are no experts, it is all an illusion, no doctor is better then any other doctor, Lionel Messi is not better then Joe soccer player, it's all an illusion and it's only because Hashem wills it that Messi scores a goal.

When you put it that way, it sounds absolutely ridiculous. but that really is the logical conclusion of this hashkafa. 

Th bottom line is that no one really believes that everything is under hashgacha because everyone looks at the world and sees cause and effect.

The next post will draw additional conclusions from this dispute.


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Did the Jews wear tefillin in the Midbar?

I have to say honestly that I never really thought about the question. I just assumed that after the Jews got the Torah of course they started wearing tefillin, after all it is one of the 613 mitzvos. However, it is not so simple.

Tefillin have to have the 4 parshiyos from the Torah placed within them. The Malbim makes the following fascinating point. There is a dispute between R' Yochanan and Resh Lakish whether the Torah was given Megilla Megilla or תורה חתומה ניתנה. Rashi explains that megilla, megilla means that as soon as an event happened Moshe would write it down and after 40 years in the Midbar he put them all together and made a sefer torah. The other opinion is that the Torah was only written down after 40 years in the midbar when it was finished (this requires a post of it's own).  The Malbim says that according to Resh Lakish who holds that תורה חתומה ניתנה they didn't put on tefillin all 40 years because they didn't have the parshiyos while according to R' Yochanan they did once the 4 parshiyos were written. However, the חבצלת השרון  points out that there is an explicit medrash in Shir Hashirim that states that the Jews wore tefillin in the midbar and he discusses additional sources relating to this question.

Someone pointed this חבצלת השרון out to me to show me that traditional sources deal with historical/mesora questions. The problem I have is that yes they deal with it on a halachic level, explaining the halachic dispute, but they don't deal with the underlying issue, WHERE IS THE MESORA? How can there be a dispute whether the Jews wore tefillin in the midbar? More importantly, how can the Gemara have a machlokes R' Yochanan and Resh Lakish about how the Torah was given? How can it be that we don't know how Torah was transmitted in the midbar?

Why am I discussing internal questions?

Before I answer this I need to define what are internal questions and what are external questions.

External Questions

External questions are questions that come from sources outside Torah. The classic external questions are 
  1. The Torah says that the world is 5676 years old but science says the world is billions of years old
  2. The Torah says that there was a global flood some 4500 years ago, geology, archeology, etc.  say that there was no global flood
  3. ...

Internal Questions

Internal questions are questions that come from within the Torah like the questions that I have been asking. 

There are a number of reasons why I am starting with internal questions:
  1. External questions have been dealt with by many, I don't feel that I have that much to contribute
  2. Internal questions on the other hand have not been dealt with that extensively because they require a greater knowledge of Gemara, Medrash etc. which many of the skeptics don't have.
  3. There is little room for discussion of external questions, believers simply dismiss them, "what do scientists know?" Internal questions on the other hand are much harder to dismiss because they come from within Torah sources.


I know that I probably sound like a broken record but my constant question is where is the mesora? How can it be that basic things like what was given at Har Sinai are not known and are disputed? It was drilled into my head in Yeshiva that Chazal had a mesora for everything even the structure of a Yeshiva (see R' Shach's writings). What internal questions show is that there is no mesora on so many things it calls into question the whole idea of Chazal having a mesora. If they didn't know when matan torah was and they didn't know what the beis hamikdash looked like and they didn't know what ksav the Torah was given in and what ksav was used in the period of the first Beis Hamikdash then what did they know? Why should we assume that anything they say has any basis in tradition? Of course, once mesora falls away then the so does the whole edifice of Torah Shebaal Peh.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Questions about the Luchos

The luchos are another fascinating topic that I would like to discuss.

I. What was written on the Luchos

The Medrash Rabba on שיר השירים has a fascinating discussion about this with 4 distinct opinions:

1.רבי מנחמא בשם ר' אבון אמר: וחצובין מגלגל חמה היו. כיצד
היו כתובין חמישה על לוח זה וחמשה על לוח זה, על שם שנאמר: ידיו גלילי זהב כדברי רבי חנינא בן גמליאל, הדא הוא דכתיב: (דברים ד') ויכתבם על שני לוחות אבנים.
This is the traditional view of 5 dibros on one table and 5 on the other
2. ורבנן אמרי: 
עשרה על לוח זה ועשרה על לוח זה, שנאמר: (שם) ויגד לכם את בריתו אשר ציווה אתכם עשרת הדברים ויכתבם על שני לוחות אבנים.
The Rabanan say that all 10 were written on each tablet.
3.רבי שמעון בן יוחאי אמר: 
עשרים על לוח זה ועשרים על לוח זה, שנאמר: ויכתבם על שני לוחות אבנים עשרים על לוח זה ועשרים על לוח זה.
Rav Shimon Bar Yochai goes even further and says that each dibra was written twice on each tablet, 20 on each.
The Mefarshim on the Medrash understand that he holds that all 10 were written on both sides
4. ר' סימאי אומר: 
ארבעים על לוח זה וארבעים על לוח זה, שנאמר: (שמות ל"ב) לוחות כתובים משני עבריהם מזה ומזה טטרוגא:
R' Simai says 40 on each tablet. The Mefarshim explain that he holds that all 10 were written on all 4 sides of each tablet.

II. Were the second luchos identical to the first

The Gemara in Bava Kama (54b-55a) has the following story:
R' Chanina ben Agil asked R' Chiya bar Abba why in the first dibros it doesn't say tov and in the second dibros it does? R' Chiya answered, you ask why it says tov, I don't even know if it does say tov and he sent him to ask R' Tanchum who explained that since the first luchos were broken they didn't say tov.

Many acharonim ask the obvious question, how could R' Chiya not know if it says tov in the dibros? Interestingly enough Tosafos in Bava Basra 113a writes that they weren't בקיאים  in the pesukim which is a fascinating answer that requires it's own post. 

A number of Acharonim (Pnei Yehoshua, Rif, on the Eyn Yaakov and others) explain the Gemara as follows. The discussion between the 2 was about the luchos (as we see from the Gemaras answer). R'
Chanina assumed that what was written on the first luchos corresponded to the first dibros and what was written on the second luchos corresponded to the second dibros. R' Chiya answered him, I don't know what was written on the luchos, go ask R' Tanchum. R' Tanchum validated R' Chanina's
assumption and explained the difference in the luchos explaining that since the first luchos were broken tov was not written on them. Now we can understand R' Chiya, of course he knew the pesukim in Chumash, but he didn't know what exactly what was written on the luchos. We see according to these acharonim that the maskana of the Gemara was that tov was written on the second luchos but not the first. 

As I posted here there is a machlokes what ksav was used for the luchos, ivris or ashuris. The Radvaz posits that the first luchos were written in ashuris and the second in ivris.


I probably sound like a broken record already, but I will make the same point that I have made many times. The luchos are a major element of Jewish history and tradition, and in fact were supposed to be preserved in the aron for just this reason. Yet, we find that we have major disputes about just about every aspect of the luchos. 

Monday, July 4, 2016

What כתב was the Torah given in?

The Gemara in Sanhedrin (21b-22a) has a 3 way dispute.

  1. R' Yosi says that the Torah was given in כתב עברית and at the time of Ezra the כתב was changed to אשורית which is what we have now.
  2. Rebbe says that the torah was given in כתב אשורית but after the Jewish people sinned during the time of the first Beis Hamikdash the כתב was changed to כתב עברית and at the time of Ezra the כתב was changed back to אשורית which is what we have now.
  3. R' Elazar Hamodai says that the כתב never changed and the torah was given in כתב אשורית and remained in כתב אשורית.
Before getting into any lomdus, lets think about the implications of this dispute. According to Chazal the second Beis Hamikdash lasted 420 years and the Tannaim lived a little before and after the destruction of the second Beis Hamikdash. In other words, the dispute in the Gemara in Sanhedrin took place no more then 550 years after Ezra and yet they have no idea what really happened at the time of Ezra, did he change the כתב or not. This is not some minor dispute, this is a major dispute with huge historical ramifications. According to R' Elazar Hamodai all Sta"m from matan torah on were written in כתב אשורית. According to R' Yosi all Sta"m during from the time of Matan Torah through the period of the first Beis Hamikdash were written in כתב עברית and only at the time of Ezra the כתב was changed to אשורית. How could a dispute of this magnitude not be known? How could they not know what כתב was used 500 years before? According to R' Yosi there was a huge disruption, the כתב was  changed, how could that not be a well known event? R' Chaim Kanievsky claims that when Ezra changed the כתב all Sta"m written in כתב עברית became פסול. Think about that, at the time of Ezra every Sefer Torah, Tefillin and Mezuza had to be rewritten according to R' Yosi and Rebbe. Wouldn't such a change be remembered very clearly? How can R' Elazar Hamodai disagree? Of course, the disagreement is not based on historical sources, but rather each side brings pesukim further confirming the notion that they had no mesora/tradition on this at all.

The Ritva at the beginning of Megilla (and many Achronim) asks a very obvious question. How could R' Yosi say that the Torah was given in כתב עברית we know that there are so many halachos related to כתב אשורית and how to write a Sefer Torah? He brings a proof from the famous Gemara (Shabbos and the places) which states that the mem and samech of the luchos were בנס. He points out that that only works with כתב אשורית not כתב עברית. Therefore he says that it must be that even R' Yosi holds that the luchos were given in כתב אשורית which was then נגנז. 

The Radvaz points out that the Yerushalmi in Megilla contradicts the Ritva and states that according to R' Yosi the ע in the luchos was בנס because they were כתב עברית.

The Geonim, R' Chananel and others understand R' Yosi כפשוטו and pasken like R' Elazar Hamodai. According to the Geonim the Ritvas question certainly stands, how could it be that there are so many halachos related to כתב אשורית and so many mystical things when it wasn't even the כתב that the Torah was given in according to R' Yosi?

To summarise, the fact that there is a dispute whether the כתב changed shows that the mesora was basically non-existent. The Tannaim did not know critical religious/historical facts from only 500 years before. 

Sunday, July 3, 2016

How can there be machlokes if Moshe got the whole Torah from Sinai?

This is one of the most basic and obvious questions that are asked. If as Rashi says at the beginning of Parshas behar מה ענין שמיטה אצל הר סיני to teach us that every mitzva was given at Sinai with all of its details, then why is the Gemara full of Machlokes?

This question can be asked on 2 levels, the theoretical and the practical.

On the theoretical level there is in fact a fundamental dispute about this very point. There seem to be a number of distinct opinions about why there is Machlokes (see Halbertal for a full discussion):

1. Geonim, Rashi and others - Retrieval view -  Moshe received the entire written and oral Law, and at its source, tradition was complete and perfect. The entire halachah was revealed and transmitted to us through a continuous unbroken chain of scholars who received from one another. Through time, forgetfulness and carelessness (due also to harsh political circumstances) this knowledge eroded. Machlokes arises because of the students, who did not clarify the complete details of all the rules from their teachers, and therefore are to blame for the crisis in the transmission of tradition and for the rise of controversy
2. Rambam - Accumulative - Moshe received a subset of Torah Shebaal Peh at Har Sinai plus the principles (13 middos) necessary to derive additional halachos.  Alongside the received tradition from Moshe, Chazal introduced new interpretations of the Torah of their own invention based on the middos. The halakhic process in the Rambams' eyes, is therefore accumulative, each generation adding substantive norms derived by their own reasoning to the given, revealed body of knowledge. The sages, equipped with rules of derivation, deduce from the given material of revelation - both oral and written- new norms which in turn become part of the accumulative material of halakhic knowledge. Only in relation to the newly derived halakhos controversy emerges, since these hermeneutical inferences are not strictly logical inferences where a deduction necessarily follows from given premises. In the received normative material transmitted by the sages of each generation controversy according to Rambam never occurs. In his view, the phenomenon of controversy is therefore restricted to the normative material which is newly derived by hermeneutical inferences. In fact the Rambam strongly criticises the Geonims position:
"But the opinion of one who thought that also the laws wherein there is disagreement are received from Moses, and that disagreement took place due to an error in receiving the tradition or due to frightfulness, i. e., that one [disputant] is correct in his tradition and the second errs in his tradition, or he forgot or he did not hear from his teacher all that he should have; and he [who holds this opinion] offers as evidence for this what they said, "When the disciples [of Shammai and Hillel who had insufficiently studied, increased in number, disputes multiplied in Israel and the Torah became as two Torot" . Behold this, as God knows, is a despicable and very strange position, and it is an incorrect matter and not compatible to principles. And he {who holds this position] suspects people from whom we received the Torah and this is falsehood.".
3. The Ramban, Ran, Ritva are somewhere in the middle. They explained as follows: When Moshe ascended to heaven to receive that Torha they have shown him forty nine reasons for prohibition and forty nine reasons for permission concerning each rule. He asked God about this and God answered that the matter will be given to the sages of Israel in each generation and the ruling will be as they decide.

These are 3 fundamentally different approaches to machlokes but even more importantly to what was given on Har Sinai. If we think about this each shita has a completely different view of what was given to Moshe.

According to the Geonim Moshe got all of the knowledge, period. However, according to the Rambam Moshe only received a subset. According to the Ran Moshe got all the information but not all of the decisions. How can there be a dispute about this fundamental point? How can we not know what was given to Moshe at Har Sinai?

On a practical level we can ask (these are just examples)

1. Bnei Yisrael received the mitzva of tefillin at Har Sinai and presumably started to make hundreds of thousands of pairs of tefillin to wear and Moshe Rabenu presumably instructed them exactly how to make the tefillin including the order of the parshiyos. After that initial period, everyone who became Bar Mitzva needed a pair of tefillin and you would think that they would simply copy/pattern an existing pair. So how could there ever evolve a different order of parshiyos, unless there was a period of time when people stopped wearing tefillin and the mesora was lost. What other answer can you suggest?
2.  The Rambam himself writes in Hilchos Shofar (Perek 3) based on the Gemara (RH 34a)
that Bnei Yisrael forgot what sound a terua is because of all the trials and tribulations of Galus and therefore R' Avahu was mesaken to blow all 3 (shevarim, terua, and shevarim-terua).This is very difficult, my 5 year old son knows the difference between a shevarim and a terua and can make the different sounds and it is a public mitzva done in front of everyone. How can it be that everyone forgot the sound unless there was a long period when the mitzva was not observed.
3. it is very obvious that the Tannaim and Amoraim were missing major pieces of information regarding the set up of the Beis Hamikdash, the daily avoda, and the Yom Kippur Avoda. There are disputes galore in the Gemara Yoma about historical facts, some examples that pop into my head, there is a machlokes Tannaim  was there 1 curtain separating the kodesh hakodashim from the Heichal or 2. There is a 3 way machlokes about the path that the Kohen Gadol took to go to the Kodesh Hakodishim, there are various disputes about the order of the Avoda and how the Kohen Gadol did the Avodas Haketores on Yom Kippur. We see clearly that the Tannaim and Amoraim had no mesora on these issues and were trying to recreate the facts based on sevara and pesukim.

If this is the case regarding the Avoda why would it no apply to other parts of Torah as well. Take for example the medrashim about the Avos. Why should we think that Chazal had a better mesora about the Avos then they did about the beis Hamikdash? Of course the same could be said about other halachos as well. The bottom line is that we see from the Gemara itself how fragile the mesora was and how much was lost so why should we believe in any mesora at all?

In fact, the Navi in a number of places states that Bnei Yisrael completely forgot the Torah. Rhe Ramban al Hatorah says this (במדבר ט"ו:כ"ב) when talking about how the entire Jewish people could sin בשוגג. He writes:

In our sinfulness, this has already happened in the days of the evil kings of Israel, such as Jeroboam, that most of the nation completely forgot Torah and the commandments, and the instance in the book of Ezra about the people of the Second Temple. 

The Ramban writes that in the times of the first Beis Hamikdash as well as the time of Ezra most of the Jewish people completely forgot the Torah. In other words, most of the people had no mesora whatsoever. If so, why should we believe what the chcachamim say in the Mishna/Gemara is the mesora?