Avodah Mailing List

Volume 12 : Number 022

Wednesday, October 22 2003

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Wed, 22 Oct 2003 12:06:33 -0400 (EDT)
From: "Micha Berger" <micha@aishdas.org>
Subject:
Re: new birth control?


R Harry Maryles wrote:
> Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org> wrote:
>> : Evens so Zera is only half the phrase. The word Shaches (the
>> root of : Hashchasa) has only one meaning. Destruction. When there
>> is Hashchasas : Zera, something needs to be destroyed. If there is
>> only semen and no : sperm, what exactly is being destroyed?

>> Semen.

> How do you destroy an entity which in fact is not being altered in
> any way? Semen sans sperm remains nothing more than semen.

I didn't understand this until I read the below:
>> 3- That semen itself -- when properly functioning -- causes growth
>> because it contains sperm, which is enough for it to merit the
>> word by any normal use of a language root.

> ...Only if you choose to ignore the realty which understands the two
> as separate entities.

That's not the reality. The reality is that we identified which component
of semen causes fertilization. They aren't "separate entities". You're
insisting that this means we should now redefine the word "zera" to refer
only to that one component. I'm insisting that it's neither compelling
from alogical point of view (see the car engine analogy, below) nor does
it fit something my rebbe told me is a general klal.

Jumping back up a bit:
> So? I've already explained that there is a Chalos. Newly discovered
> realities require a re-examination of what is or is not the Chalos.

However we have never yet encountered anyone suggesting we do this
lequlah. RAYHKook examines new scientific data lechumrah only.

RDLifshitz rejects miscroscopic data; his sevarah applies to that which
we can't directly sense only. WRT to other new science, RDL might very
well have agreed with RAYHK.

But none of the opinions we raised in previous cycles of the subject
of microscopic data provide basis for the suggestition the lequlah,
that such a person has no issur of SZL. For that matter, I never heard
of someone saying he would be a PD and must divorce his wife.

> To say that microscopes cannot not be used to determine Halachic
> Metzius would mean that in matters of life and death we would have
> to ignore information obtained using a microscope to determine Psak
> even when a microscope clearly determines a life saving course of
> action over a course of action that might be advocated without a
> microscope that might in fact be harmful. Clearly that cannot be the
> case.

Life and death is a determination of metzi'us, not mamshus or chalos.
As your (my?) inadvertant word shift implies.

>>: One may not marry an Aylinis
>>: precisely because there is no way she can have children.

>> Which is a problem of qiyum of piryah verivyah, no one claims it's
>> SZL.

> No one claims it isnít either. One may in fact be violating both...
> two sides of the same coin.

But to use aylonis as a proof you would need proof that the problem has
anything to do with zera. Given that marrying an older woman is mutar,
it would be very hard to argue. Since you're not asserting that it is
related to zera, why mention the issur altogether?

>>: Semen is not damaged zera. Only damaged Zera is
>>: Zera.

>> If functioning semen produces children, why isn't semen "zera" in
>> just as literal of a sense? The fact that it could have its
>> critical component non-functioning or missing shouldn't change
>> that.

> Of course it does. If a car doesn't have a motor, is it still a car?

And if semen doesn't have sperm, it could still be zera!

This parallel fits with the original definition and current science,
thereby denying your whole motivation for retranslation.

>>: Zera is the "cell" that in its entirety fertilizes and creates
>>: human life. Semen has no part other than as the medium for
>>: sperm...

>> Again a blind, assertion.

> ...No, a scientific one.

Science doesn't define halachic terms. For example, science may be able
to measure death of the relevent part of the brain ever more carefully,
and the local doctor might use that definition. But if you don't buy
into the parallel to the gemara's case of someone without a mo'ach,
then death is cessation of heartbeat.

I'm not arguing as to what semen or sperm are. I'm not even arguing
about the literal translation of zera -- which we disagree on. I'm
arguing about what has a din zera, the halachic-jargon sense of the word.

What I called blind assertion was not the scientific fact, but the
assertion that it's relevent.

-mi

-- 
Micha Berger             You will never "find" time for anything.
micha@aishdas.org        If you want time, you must make it.
http://www.aishdas.org                     - Charles Buxton
Fax: (413) 403-9905


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Date: Wed, 22 Oct 2003 12:13:33 -0400
From: "Marmer, Jacob" <JMarmer@randomhouse.com>
Subject:
re: sonei matanos


From: T613K@aol.com
> I don't have sources and therefore maybe have no right to post this on
> Avodah, but I think that the pasuk about "soneh matanos yichyeh" has
> to do with receiving and accepting unearned and unreciprocated gifts.
> Mishloach manos and wedding gifts have a built-in reciprocity to them and
> involve greasing the wheels of the social fabric, to coin an exceptionally
> dysfunctional metaphor.

I was reading Jacques Derrida, he has this idea that obligatory gifts are
not really gifts - they're part of the day-today economics, exchange. I
give you shalahmones, I expect to get back shalahmones. What you're
calling the "unearned and unreciprocated" are, I suppose the prototypes
of the "real gifts" - are they forbidden (or not recommended) to take
and (to give?) based on the posuk? If anybody knows of any interesting
sources, please let me know!

Jake
jmarmer@randomhouse.com


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Date: Wed, 22 Oct 2003 12:14:45 -0400
From: "Shinnar, Meir" <Meir.Shinnar@rwjuh.edu>
Subject:
RE: Rambam and Creation


RKGM wrote> 
> 1) If Hashem did *not* create the universe "yesh me'ayin", then the
> universe is eternal.
> 2) Hashem is eternal.
> 3) "Hashem Echad" teaches that there can be only one eternity.
No, that there is only one hashem...
The rambam believed all proofs he knew of either eternity or creation were
flawed. (Kant showed that inherently such proofs are problematic)
THere were rishonim who believed in the existence of eternal matter..

WRT to RMB arguing that rambam used boreh, and that therefore creator covers
all bases..

Again, this thread started with a poster trying to posit some areas where
there is commonality of agreement in the O community.  The three common
axioms suggested were

> a) There is a Creator;
> b) The Creator created the Torah and the world
> c) The Creator passed the Torah to Moshe and Israel in 2 parts:
>     written and oral.

my original post was to suggest that in the commonly understood version of a
Creator, even this is not fully agreed upon.  Furthermore, this is somewhat
different than the rambam's version in his ikkarim and his mishne tora.   Of
course, by reinterpreting words, we can get agreement on form if not on
substance.

Meir Shinnar


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Date: Wed, 22 Oct 2003 12:16:58 -0400 (EDT)
From: "Jonathan Baker" <jjbaker@panix.com>
Subject:
Re: Rambam and creation


From: Kenneth G Miller <kennethgmiller@juno.com>
> On Mon, 20 Oct 2003, R' Meir Shinnar wrote
>> in the Mishne torah,
>> when he defines halachically required belief, he is very careful not
>> to use the language of boreh ... In the More Nevuchim, the rambam goes
>> into great lengths about different approaches to creation and eternity -
>> and is quite explicit that creation is not something that is an ikkar
>> emuna, but, if there were good logical proofs for eternity, one could
>> reinterprete parshat breshit as allegorical - and concludes that there
>> are no proofs either way.>>>

> No proofs either way? Here's the proof that I've always learned, and
> I'd like to know how the Rambam (or others) might refute it:

I think there was a thread on just this topic last year, with RYGB
maintaining (against RAF and myself and many others) that Rambam held that
Torah trumps philosophy, and the rest of us reading Rambam to say that
philosophy, if it gives a definitive proof, can trump a literal reading of
Torah, but as long as there is no such proof, the Torah view is correct.
This was over the eternity of the Universe - that is, that Rambam held
the universe to be eternal, *in the absence of a true philosophic proof
to the contrary*. See Avodah v10 numbers in the 50s and 60s.

> 1) If Hashem did *not* create the universe "yesh me'ayin", then the
> universe is eternal.
> 2) Hashem is eternal.
> 3) "Hashem Echad" teaches that there can be only one eternity.
> 4) Therefore, Hashem and the universe are the same, c"v.
> 5) Conclusion #4 must be rejected, therefore supposition #1 is mistaken,
> and it must be that Hashem *did* create the universe "yesh me'ayin".

I don't see (4) as a necessary consequence of 1..3. You feel you must
reject "conclusion 4" because it's pantheism. But what about panentheism,
such as is held by Chabad and others under the Lurianic ethos? That allows
for non-ex-nihilo creation, since the Universe is made of God-stuff,
but is not co-equal with God. Under the Chabad system, the physical
universe has no real existence anyway, but is an illusion created by
God so that we can (paradoxically) perceive ourselves as separate from
God and exercise choice over our following Him and His Torah/will.

This seems to come out somewhere in between Aristotelian eternalism
and Rambam's non-eternalism - that the matter of which the Universe is
composed is eternal, because it is identical with God, but that it was
not given the form of a physical universe until the moment of Bereshit.

I can't see Rambam agreeing with this - AFAICT, for him, the universe
has real existence separate from God.

   - jon baker    jjbaker@panix.com     <http://www.panix.com/~jjbaker> -


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Date: Wed, 22 Oct 2003 15:48:12 -0400
From: "Shinnar, Meir" <Meir.Shinnar@rwjuh.edu>
Subject:
RE: Basics for Philisophical discussions


[RMB:]
> Much of my objection to pronouncing the mabul to be an ahistorical
> allegory is that it uses an epistomology I feel inconsistant with O
> thought. Once experiment trumps mesorah WRT the mabul, it's only one's
> unwillingness to cross the line -- not reason -- that stops one from
> applying the same reasoning to yetzi'as mitzrayim or ma'amad 
> har sinai.

Why is the epistemology inconsistent with O thought? The underlying thread
here is the belief that O thought and "experiment" -eg, current scientific
thinking are inherently incompatible - and therefore O thought needs to
be protected. This line of thinking is in itself, IMHO, incompatible with
a major thread of O thought - which views itself and rational thinking as
compatible. (eg, the kuzari's statement that the torah does not require
us to accept anything rejected by reason - while the nature of what is
meant by reason is different today, the statement itself is still valid
for many of us)

While there is a core minimum of O thought that may need to be protected,
and over which we may argue the limitations of human intellect, the
question is the boundary - and to draw the boundary too broadly, therefore
limiting the impact of science and reason, fundamentally changes and
distorts O thought - even if the content seems the same, the argument
that it is incompatible with science changes the epistemology and the
nature of the thought.

> Another difference between us and them is that even if we found a
> ma'amar Chazal to be scientifically wrong we wouldn't simply dismiss it
> as ignorable. We would look to cull the meaning that made the 
> statement mesorah worthy. No?

The question that we would argue is whether all ma'amre hazal are "mesora
worthy". Thus, while issues of science raises halachic issues, the notion
that ma'amre hazal reflecting science reflect the science of their times
rather than some deeper tradition, and therefore, in a hashkafic sense,
does not need culling deeper meaning (even if the halachic issues still
need dealing with) is one with strong roots - even though the CI strongly
disagrees. It doesn't mean that we focus on the error in hazal, but we
are not obligated to delve into it.

To quote the rambam again

Moreh Nevuchim (3:14) "Do not ask me to justify everything that [Chazal]
have said concerning astronomical matters conforms to the way things
really are. For at that time science was imperfect. They did not speak in
this way becaue they had a tradition from the prophets, but rather because
in they were experts in this knowledge of their days or because they had
heard this information from experts who lived in those times. However
despite this I will not say with regard to dicta of theirs, which, as we
find, corresponds to the truth, that they are incorrect or were accurate
merely by chance. For whenever it is possible to interpret the words of
an individual in such a manner that they conform to proven reality is
preferable and the correct thing for the superior person and tzadik."

> This comes from the epistomolgy, not necessitated by our difference in
> TmS. And yet, this lack of faith in the mesorah has much to do with
> our pragmatic differences.

The question is how far to extend emunah in the mesora. Clearly,
in some sense, the unclear boundaries described do have dangers, and
the maximalist position therefore has attractions - but the maximalist
position is not the only O one, and we need to be careful in thinking
that it is.

Meir Shinnar


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Date: Wed, 22 Oct 2003 18:36:28 +0200
From: Arie Folger <afolger@aishdas.org>
Subject:
Re: Basics for Philisophical discussions


RMB wrote:
> Much of my objection to pronouncing the mabul to be an ahistorical
> allegory is that it uses an epistomology I feel inconsistant with O
> thought. Once experiment trumps mesorah WRT the mabul, it's only one's
> unwillingness to cross the line -- not reason -- that stops one from
> applying the same reasoning to yetzi'as mitzrayim or ma'amad har sinai.

An article appeared last year or the year before (I have to check at
home) either in TuM Journal or in Nachlah (YU's Tanakh journal) on
why one would not apply allegorization to Yetziat Mitzrayim or Ma'amad
Har Sinai. From teh repeated references to these seminal events, it is
clear that they form the basis for much of our covenant with G'd. If
one where to allegorize these two events, one would no longer be able to
keep the mitzvot obligatory (the article makes the case more eloquently,
read it there).

Thus, allegorization of these two seminal events is conflicting with
faithfulness to halakhah, more so than that of any other aspect of
the Torah.

The author(s) contend(s) that allegorization of verses can only be
warranted if it doesn't alter Judaism too seriously.

Now, one can make endless arguments to define what is too sensitive for
allegorization, but I believe that one can readily see what the difference
is between allegorization of the Mabul and the two abovementioned
events. No halakhot will be influenced by allegorization of the Mabul,
except if you ShA has a prohibition on allegorization of the Mabul. Same
for allegorization of creation to the point of making it compatible with
evolution. As long as G'd is in the driver seat and remains Creator,
no big change has been introduced. Not so for the two seminal events
where many mitzvot use their existence (especially YM) to justify their
being. (search for 'al ken Anochi metzavkha et hadavar hazeh).

Personally, I didn't consider the allegorization of the Mabul
too seriously, as I feel it contradicts too much of the textual
account. Yet, I must say, based on the Talmud at the end of Zva'him
(113a&b), where Rabbi Yo'hanan and Reish Laqish disagree whether the
Mabul swamped EY, that perhaps one could explain teh Mabul as a more
local phenomenon. Evidently, the gmara didn't think that kol haaretz
meant the entire globe, otherwise it could have brought Scriptural proof
that the Mabul swamped Israel, too. I am not convinced, but as I said,
this is a possible interpretation sanctioned by the gmara.

Arie Folger
 -- 
If an important person, out of humility, does not want to rely on [the Law, as 
applicable to his case], let him behave as an ascetic. However, permission 
was not granted to record this in a book, to rule this way for the future 
generations, and to be stringent of one's own accord, unless he shall bring 
clear proofs from the Talmud [to support his argument].
	paraphrase of Rabbi Asher ben Ye'hiel, as quoted by Rabbi Yoel
	Sirkis, Ba'h, Yoreh De'ah 187:9, s.v. Umah shekatav.


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Date: Wed, 22 Oct 2003 19:59:23 +0000
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Subject:
Re: Basics for Philisophical discussions


On Wed, Oct 22, 2003 at 06:36:28PM +0200, Arie Folger wrote:
: An article appeared last year or the year before...
: why one would not apply allegorization to Yetziat Mitzrayim or Ma'amad
: Har Sinai. From teh repeated references to these seminal events, it is
: clear that they form the basis for much of our covenant with G'd...

: Thus, allegorization of these two seminal events is conflicting with
: faithfulness to halakhah, more so than that of any other aspect of
: the Torah.

Mima nafshach:

Either the methodology is flawed, and there are no grounds to question
the mabul.

Or you believe the method is valid, and there are grounds to doubt
yetzi'as Mitzrayim. That you have religious objections to that doubt
has little to do with whether it's correct.

What you are offering me is a motivation for that choice, not support
for it being reasonable. You would need to give a criterion which
distinguishes the *effectiveness* of the attempt to disprove one vs that
to disprove the other.

 -mi

 -- 
Micha Berger             You will never "find" time for anything.
micha@aishdas.org        If you want time, you must make it.
http://www.aishdas.org                     - Charles Buxton
Fax: (413) 403-9905      


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Date: Wed, 22 Oct 2003 12:38:56 -0400
From: "Yosef Gavriel & Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.it.northwestern.edu>
Subject:
Re: Rambam and creation


>I don't see (4) as a necessary consequence of 1..3. You feel you must
>reject "conclusion 4" because it's pantheism. But what about panentheism,
>such as is held by Chabad and others under the Lurianic ethos? That allows
>for non-ex-nihilo creation, since the Universe is made of God-stuff,
>but is not co-equal with God. Under the Chabad system, the physical
>universe has no real existence anyway, but is an illusion created by
>God so that we can (paradoxically) perceive ourselves as separate from
>God and exercise choice over our following Him and His Torah/will.

The charge that Chabad and the Arizal are pantheistic is a
misunderstanding of the concept of nitzotzos of kedushah.

YGB 


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Date: Wed, 22 Oct 2003 20:07:52 +0000
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Subject:
Re: Rambam and creation


On Wed, Oct 22, 2003 at 12:38:56PM -0400, Yosef Gavriel & Shoshanah
M. Bechhofer wrote:
: The charge that Chabad and the Arizal are pantheistic is a
: misunderstanding of the concept of nitzotzos of kedushah.

RJJB wrote "panentheism" not "pantheism".

 From <http://www.aishdas.org/webmail/src/webmail.php>:
> Panentheism holds that the universe is a part of God or Goddess, but
> that it is not the whole of God's being. Nature is thus an aspect of
> divinity. Unlike pantheism, however, it does not say that the universe
> is identical to God; it maintains that there is more to God than just
> the universe. In panentheism God maintains a transcendent character,
> and is viewed as creator and the source of morality.

> ...

> Panentheism in Judaism

> When Hasidic Orthodox Jews first developed as a movement and as a
> theology, their theology was essentially panentheistic, even though they
> themselves never had even heard of this word. Non-Hasidic Orthodox Jews
> viewed this theology as as heretical. However, after the schism between
> Hasidic and non-Hasidic Orthodox Jews closed in the mid 1800s, panentheism
> became an accepted way of thinking in Orthodox Jewish theology. While
> not the mainstream point of view, panentheism has become more popular
> in the non-Orthodox Jewish denominations like Conservative Judaism and
> Reform Judaism through the writings of rabbis like Abraham Joshua Heschel,
> Arthur Green, Wayne Dosick, and Lawrence Kushner.

> Opposing Views

> Gnosticism holds the inverse idea of panentheism: it regards matter
> as evil and ultimately flawed, and thus not a part of God, even though
> they admit that it came about through emanations of the supreme being,
> but more of an accident than on purpose.

 -mi

 -- 
Micha Berger             You will never "find" time for anything.
micha@aishdas.org        If you want time, you must make it.
http://www.aishdas.org                     - Charles Buxton
Fax: (413) 403-9905      


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Date: Wed, 22 Oct 2003 12:55:12 -0400
From: Kenneth G Miller <kennethgmiller@juno.com>
Subject:
Re: new birth control?


R' Harry Maryles wrote <<< One may not marry an Aylinis precisely because
there is no way she can have children. >>>

Even as a second wife? Suppose he already has children. Would marriage
to an aylonis be assur even then? Just wondering...

Akiva Miller


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Date: Wed, 22 Oct 2003 18:40:26 +0200
From: Arie Folger <afolger@aishdas.org>
Subject:
Re: new birth control?


RMB wrote:
> Is that then not included in RAYHKook's view, that we're chosheid for
> changes in science -- but only lechumrah? RAYHK's instance was that of
> beitzei kinim as well.

I'll ask Rav Bleich about his position on beitzei qinim. Yet, I have a
vague feeling he differentiates between the two.

Arie


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Date: Wed, 22 Oct 2003 20:09:57 +0000
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Subject:
Re: new birth control?


On Wed, Oct 22, 2003 at 06:40:26PM +0200, Arie Folger wrote:
:> Is that then not included in RAYHKook's view, that we're chosheid for
:> changes in science -- but only lechumrah? RAYHK's instance was that of
:> beitzei kinim as well.

: I'll ask Rav Bleich about his position on beitzei qinim. Yet, I have a
: vague feeling he differentiates between the two.

Please do, I can't see where he would draw such a line without his
help. Maggot eggs are also a newly found (relative to chazal) phenomenon
that provides a new theory for how an observable event came about.

 -mi


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Date: Wed, 22 Oct 2003 16:30:22 -0400
From: "Yosef Gavriel & Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.it.northwestern.edu>
Subject:
Re: Rambam and creation


>: The charge that Chabad and the Arizal are pantheistic is a
>: misunderstanding of the concept of nitzotzos of kedushah.

>RJJB wrote "panentheism" not "pantheism".

> From <http://www.aishdas.org/webmail/src/webmail.php>:
>> Panentheism holds that the universe is a part of God or Goddess, but
>> that it is not the whole of God's being. Nature is thus an aspect of
>> divinity. Unlike pantheism, however, it does not say that the universe
>> is identical to God; it maintains that there is more to God than just
>> the universe. In panentheism God maintains a transcendent character,
>> and is viewed as creator and the source of morality.

Just as wrong. There is no source for such a doctrine in Chassidus, and, 
indeed, it would be hagshama - the antithesis of the tzimtzum as defined by 
the Tanya.

YGB 


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Date: Wed, 22 Oct 2003 16:43:46 -0400
From: "Yosef Gavriel & Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.it.northwestern.edu>
Subject:
Re: Hashgocha Pratis - finale


At 07:56 PM 10/21/2003, [RDE] wrote:
>In sum. I agree with R' Micha that the absence of discussion of HP
>in mussar, Mussar and Machshova works does not allow one to state
>with certainty whether their views were in agreement with that of the
>Rishonim. However by the same token the lack of discussion concerning the
>nature of Hp and the lack of consistency that exists in chassidic works
>[other than Chabad] make it impossible to conclude that they disagreed
>with the view of the rishonim or that there was a revolution in thought
>initiated by the Besht. Therefore unless one accepts the view of Chabad
>on the subject of HP, there is no justification for R' Bechhofer's
>criticism of Prof Levi for not citing the view of HP attributed to the
>Besht. Finally - as the Lubavitcher Rebbe himself states - it is possible
>to view that in fact there is no major dispute concerning HP but rather
>differences in emphasis and definition of terms - a point that R' Micha
>made a number of posts ago. Therefore this discussion has very little
>to do with being open minded and more to do with how you wish to express
>the concept of HP.

I am still at an utter loss to understand RDE. If I interpret him
correctly, he says that an author has the right to ignore the Chassidic
viewpoint. Any author can do as he or she pleases, and may play the
ostrich to his or her heart's content, but that is not a benchmark which
this reviewer accepts. If RDE puts out a book espousing the non-Chassidic
perspective and I am zocheh to review it, I will criticize his work in
the identical manner.

Moreover, to attribute the Chassidic viewpoint on HP to Chabad is
glib, and erroneous. A casual DBS search on HP yields august thinkers -
including the Ramchal, the Pri Ha'Aretz (if there is some contradiction
in his approach, well that too merits analysis), the Maor Va'Shemesh,
the Todos, the Beer Mayim Chaim, the Arugas Ha'Bosem,Reb Nachman (see
above re the PhA) and the Shem Me'Shmuel.

Those who ignore such sarfei kodesh do so at their own intellectual peril.

YGB 


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Date: Wed, 22 Oct 2003 13:24:33 -0700 (PDT)
From: Harry Maryles <hmaryles@yahoo.com>
Subject:
Re: new birth control?


Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org> wrote:
> That's not the reality. The reality is that we identified which component
> of semen causes fertilization. They aren't "separate entities". You're
> insisting that this means we should now redefine the word "zera" to refer
> only to that one component. 

For something to be considered a componenet in reproduction there has
to be an element within it that reproduces. This is true about sperm.
This is NOT true about semen. To call semen a component in reproduction
is the same thing as calling a jar a component in mayonaise.

> Jumping back up a bit:
>> So? I've already explained that there is a Chalos. Newly discovered
>> realities require a re-examination of what is or is not the Chalos.

> However we have never yet encountered anyone suggesting we do this
> lequlah. 

AIUI, it would be extremely rare for an individual to have no sperm
what-so-ever. Most people that are considered sterile do in fact have
sperm. But the count may be too low, or there may be low motility.

I will never forget a progam on "the new miracles of reproductive science"
hosted by Barbara Streisand's husband. There was a procedure (developed
by an Israeli scientist, IRRC) that allowed a "sterile" man to reproduce
with his fertile wife. The individual in question had almost no sperm
count and was considered completely sterile. But he did have some sperm,
useless though they were. Destruction of his Semen would include one
or two sperm (instead of the mutitude usually contained therein) and
therefore subject to Hashchasas Zera.

Side point of interest: The procedure he underwent was to find and extract
a living sperm and inject it into his wifes ovum. The Dr. retrieved a
single sperm, cut off the tail and injected it into the overy all with
moicroscopic instruments and under a microscope. A fetus was formed and
a healthy baby girl was born nine months later!

So any heter suggested by redefining Zera to fit with modern scientific
knowledge isn't really going to generate any broad based Heterim. My
entire argument is a theoretical one which I am using to illustrate my
position that new technology can and should be used to learn about facts
here-to-fore unavailable to us. Psak can then be issued more accurately
in that "new light". You seem to be denying the use of new technology
because it doesn't fit with a doctrine of only naked eye visiblity that
may no longer be entirely valid... and you insist on continuing to use
an older and broader definition of Zera as that of semen.

> RDLifshitz rejects miscroscopic data; his sevarah applies to that which
> we can't directly sense only.

That is the "bug" argument with which I agree. Sperm... as I repeatedly
keep saying is a new entity not known before the advent of the
microscope. Are you sure that RDL would not recognize my distinction
between microscopic bugs and sperm?

> But none of the opinions we raised in previous cycles of the subject
> of microscopic data provide basis for the suggestition the lequlah,
> that such a person has no issur of SZL. 

Please understand that I am trying to be Matir anything here. There
may be other Issurim involved but the idea of Hashchasas Zera must,
by definition means that there must be a destruction of the necessary
component of reproduction. If one smashes a car that has no motor,
has he destroyed a car? No.

>> To say that microscopes cannot not be used to determine Halachic
>> Metzius would mean that in matters of life and death we would have
>> to ignore information obtained using a microscope to determine Psak
>> even when a microscope clearly determines a life saving course of
>> action over a course of action that might be advocated without a
>> microscope that might in fact be harmful. Clearly that cannot be the
>> case.

> Life and death is a determination of metzi'us, not mamshus or chalos.
> As your (my?) inadvertant word shift implies.

Metzius that can be altered one way or the othjer based on microscopic
detirmination of physically existing entities that can effect a
positive outcome if utilized. For example: without a microscope we
would not know of life saving penecilin. Pre-penecillin procedures may
hev entailed staying in bed and waiting out the disease which often led
to death. Psak based on the discovery of penecilin changed the nature
of the Psak. Instead of mandating halachic Psak to stay in bed we now
mandate penecilin Halachicly. Sperm should be looked at the same way.

> If functioning semen produces children, why isn't semen "zera" in
>>> just as literal of a sense? The fact that it could have its
>>> critical component non-functioning or missing shouldn't change
>>> that.

>> Of course it does. If a car doesn't have a motor, is it still a
> car?

> And if semen doesn't have sperm, it could still be zera!

??? You're answer seems to indicate that a car is still a car even
without a motor. IMHO a car without a motor is not a car at all.

>>>>: Zera is the "cell" that in its entirety fertilizes and creates
>>>: human life. Semen has no part other than as the medium for
>>>: sperm...

>>> Again a blind, assertion.

>> ...No, a scientific one.

> Science doesn't define halachic terms. 

No, but it informs Halacha which is precisely my point.

> For example, science may be able
> to measure death of the relevent part of the brain ever more carefully,
> and the local doctor might use that definition. But if you don't buy
> into the parallel to the gemara's case of someone without a mo'ach,
> then death is cessation of heartbeat.

Although most Poskim do not believe brain death is death there is
controversy about it and at least one individual, R. Moshe Tendler,
who I believe claims to have RMF on his side feels that it IS a valid
definiton. I am not personally caliming that it is a valid definition,
But I am claiming that RMT's views demonstrates at least one knowledgeable
person's comfort with a scientific definition of death as being Halachicly
viable.

HM


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