Aspaqlaria Blog

1

Interpretations of Probability

At “Casting Lots” I tried to use the relationship between the field of statistics and Divine Providence as a means of looking at the verse “Hipil pur hu hagoral — he cast a pur, that is a goral” (Esther 3:7). I asked: Which raises the more general question as to whether the Believer’s lexicon even has meaning for the word...

3

Casting Lots

Regardless of what one believes about Creation and the origin of the species, we have evolution since then. In order to even entertain the possibility of evolution as the origin of the species, one would have to understand that “random mutation” is not random, but Divinely guided. So that in addition to the filtering effects of “survival of the fittest”...

0

Midgets on the Shoulders of Giants

Someone recently (when I first wrote an earlier version of this post, Feb 2007) asked me about nisqatnu hadoros, the decline over time from one generation to the next. How is this possible, given that we now have universal education, and the masses know more Torah than any other generation in millennia? Pigmaei gigantum humeris impositi plusquam ipsi gigantes vident....

2

Shaarei Yosher: Chapter Headings

An outline, according to how I presented it: Life’s Mission Making ourselves in the “image” of the Creator. The “image” of the Creator is to bestow good on others — because creation had to be for our benefit, as He has no needs. We therefore must commit ourselves, sanctify all we have, to the mission of bestowing good to others....

0

Shaarei Yosher, sec. 6: Refinement – Conclusion

To my mind, one can use this idea to elaborate what our sages explained in Nedarim (folio 38[a]) on the verse “carve for yourself”. Moses didn’t get rich except through the extras of the Tablets. This is an amazing idea – [is it possible that] Hashem couldn’t find any way to make Moses wealthy except through the extras of the...

0

Shaarei Yosher, sec. 6: Refinement – Part 4

The beginning of the receiving of the Torah through Moses was a symbol and sign for all of the Jewish people who receive the Torah [since]. Just as Hashem told Moses, “Carve for yourself two stone Tablets”, so too it is advice for all who receive the Torah. Each must prepare Tablets for himself, to write upon them the word...

0

Shaarei Yosher, sec. 6: Refinement – Part 3

The first Tablets were made by G-d, like the body of writing as explained in the Torah. The latter Tablets were made by man [Moses], as it says “Carve for yourself two stone tablets.” (Exodus 34:1) Tablets are things which cause standing and existence, that it’s not “letters fluttering in the air.” Since they were made by Hashem, they would...

0

For the Good

אמר רבי אבהו כתיב (תהילים ד:ב) “בְּקָרְאִי עֲנֵנִי אֱ-לֹהֵי צִדְקִי, בַּצָּר הִרְחַבְתָּ לִּי[; חָנֵּנִי, וּשְׁמַע תְּפִלָּתִי].” אמר דוד לפני הקדוש ברוך הוא, “רבון העולמים! כל צרה שהייתי נכנס לה, אתה הייתה מרחיבה לי. נכנסתי לצרתה של בת שבע, ונתת לי את שלמה. נכנסתי לצרתן של ישראל ונתת לי את בית המקדש:” Rabbi Avohu said: It says, “When I called, You...

0

Fast for the Sinners

תני כשם שמתריעים עליהן בשאר ימי שבוע כך מתריעין עליהן בשביעית מפני פרנסת אחרים מהו מפני פרנסת אחרים חברייא אמרי מפני פרנסת עכו”ם… A beraisa: Just as we blow shofar [and make a fast day] for [a lack of rain] on the other days of the seven-year cycle, so too we blow shofar for them during shemittah for the income...

2

Who fed the Egyptians?

During the second 3 days of choshekh in which the darkness was tangible and the Mitzriim could not move, how did they eat? After all, an oath not to eat for 3 days is considered suspect, and we wait in expectation that the person will need to violate it. (Which is less suspect than if the oath were three days...

0

Shaarei Yosher, sec. 6: Refinement – Part 2

One can use this to explain the whole notion of breaking the [first] Tablets, for which I have not found an explanation. At first glance, understanding seems closed off. Is it possible that Moses our teacher would think that because the Jews made the [Golden] Calf they should be left without the Torah? He should have just waited to teach...

0

Precondition for a Fast

דלמא: ר’ בא בר זבדא, ורבי תנחום בר עילאי, ור’ יאשיה נפקוי לתעניתא. דרש ר’ בא בר זבדא (איכה ג:מא) “נִשָּׂא לְבָבֵנוּ אֶל כַּפָּיִם, [אֶל אֵ-ל בַּשָּׁמָיִם.].” “נשא לבבנו אל כפים” — ואיפשר כן” אית בר נש דנסב ליביה ויהיב גו ידיה? אלא, מהו נשא? נשוי ליבינן לכך ידינן, ואחר כך “אל א-ל בשמים.” כך אם יהיו השרץ בידו של...

0

If I am here…

תניא: אמרו עליו על הלל הזקן, כשהיה שמח בשמחת בית השואבה אמר כן: “אם אני כאן, הכל כאן. ואם איני כאן. מי כאן?” A beraisa: They said about Hillel the Elder, when he was happy during Simchas Beis haShoeivah would say like this: If I am here, then all are here. And if I am not here, who is here?...

0

Shaarei Yosher, sec. 6: Refinement – Part 1

AS A BEGINNING OF this preparation, so that one is ready to acquire Torah, the Torah requires specific conditions. The first condition is toil and contemplation, as our sages explain “‘If in my statues you go’ (Vayiqra 26:3) … that you should be toiling in the Torah.” (Rashi ad loc, quoting Sifra 26:2) And other things required for acquiring Torah....

0

Shaarei Yosher, sec. 5: Sharing – Conclusion

This is also how it works with the emanation/assistance, the dew of heaven, of acquiring wisdom. Every person is worthy of grace from the One above some increase in wisdom, to take root in his soul some deep root. This attainment would not be given for he himself, only to be like a disburser to distribute it to every person...

0

Shaarei Yosher, sec. 5: Sharing – Part 3

WITH THIS it is possible to get a feeling for the idea that is told in the Talmud in an amazing story about the holy man Nachum ish Gam Zu. One time he did not fulfill the mitzvah of charity as he felt he should. He decreed upon himself that his eyes go blind, his hands whither, and his feet...

2

A Physics Metaphor for Coming to Terms with Theodicy

As I’ve mentioned in the past, Aristotle believed that motion was caused by an intellect imparting impetus to an object, which then moved until the impetus ran out. Newton replaced this model of physics with his three laws, including: Law I: Every body persists in its state of being at rest or of moving uniformly straight forward, except insofar as...

7

When a Paradox is not a Disproof

The central theme of religion is whether the values, ritual, and system of thought work. The issues of genesis, the flood, or the tower of Babel are tangential, and out the outskirts of the Torah as a “theory” of meaning and purpose in life. It’s like studying modern physics. We currently have two systems: quantum mechanics (QM) which was born...

0

Shaarei Yosher, sec. 5: Sharing – Part 2

With this idea one can understand how charity has the effect of enriching the one who performs it, as the sages say on the verse “‘aseir ta’aseir – you shall surely tithe’ – tithe, so that you shall become rich – shetis’asheir” . Someone who is appointed over a small part of the national treasury who does a good job...

1

Malki-Tzedeq and Birkhas Avos

Compare these two snippets. I added color to highlight my point. First, Bereishis 14:19-20. A massive regional war just completed, and Avraham joins the kings he fought with. Malki-Tzedeq the king of Shaleim (the future Jerusalem) and priest of the Kel Elyon (most high G-d) serves food and blesses him: וַיְבָרְכֵהוּ וַיֹּאמַר: “בָּרוּךְ אַבְרָם לְאֵ-ל עֶלְיוֹן קֹנֵה שָׁמַיִם וָאָרֶץ. וּבָרוּךְ...

0

Shaarei Yosher, sec. 5: Sharing – part 1

Similarly it is appropriate to think about all the gifts of heaven “from the dew of the heavens and the fat of the land” (Bereishis 27:38) that they are given to the Jewish people as a whole. Their allotment to individuals is only in their role as caretakers until they divide it to those who need it, to each according...

4

Shaarei Yosher, sec. 4: Connecting – Conclusion

In my opinion, this idea is hinted at in Hillel’s words, as he used to say, “If I am [not] for me, who will be for me? And when I am for myself, what am I?” It is fitting for each person to strive to be concerned for himself. But with this, he must also strive to understand that “I...

0

Shaarei Yosher, sec. 4: Connecting – part 4

And there are more levels in this of a person who is whole, who can connect his soul to feel that all of the world and worlds are his “I”, and he himself is only one small limb in all of creation. Then, his self-love helps him love all of the Jewish people and [even] all of creation. ועוד יש...

1

Shaarei Yosher, sec. 4: Connecting – part 3

… And above him is someone who can include in his “I” all of his household and family. Someone who walks according to the way of the Torah, his “I” includes the whole Jewish people, since in truth every Jewish person is only like a limb of the body of the nation of Israel …ולמעלה מזה מי שמכניס לה״אני״ שלו...