Avodah Mailing List

Volume 12 : Number 031

Monday, October 27 2003

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Mon, 27 Oct 2003 11:52:07 EST
From: T613K@aol.com
Subject:
Re: literalism and allegory


In Avodah V12 #29 dated 10/27/03   Akiva Atwood <akiva@atwood.co.il> writes:
>>> Does someone who allegorizes the first chapter in Bereshis ALSO
>>> qualify as "ketanei amanah"?

>> Yes. Although with some little effort they may qualify as Apikorsim :-) .

> So where does "intellectually honesty" (of which you are a proponent)
> enter into the picture?

> What does one do when *facts* (not theories) contradict (or rule out)
> a literal reading of Chumash?

RAA:
>> Does someone who allegorizes the first chapter in Bereshis ALSO
qualify as "ketanei amanah"? <<

Ploni: > Yes. Although with some little effort they may qualify as
Apikorsim :-) . <

RAA: >>So where does "intellectually honesty" (of which you are a
proponent) enter into the picture?

What does one do when *facts* (not theories) contradict (or rule out)
a literal reading of Chumash?<<

Your two alternatives are way too extreme. It is not EITHER a literal
reading, OR an allegorical reading.

You can take Bereishis to mean what it says, that Hashem created the world
in six days, without assuming that those days were the same 24-hour days
we have now. In fact, you actually HAVE to do so, because the length of
a day now is determined by sunset and sunrise, but the sun wasn't even
"placed" in the sky until the fourth day (whatever that means, and I do
not know what it means).

An allegory would be something like a story that ab initio is not meant to
be understood literally, like pesukim calling Israel G-d's son. We know
he did not mate with a woman and have a half-god son, the way pagans
used to imagine their gods behaved, or the way Christians understand
where the man they worship came from.

We are LIKE a son to G-d. Or in another common allegory, we are LIKE a
wife and Matan Torah was LIKE a wedding. That's an allegory.

But vis a vis the world, G-d is not LIKE a Creator, He IS the Creator.
We ARE creatures, created beings. We are not merely LIKE creatures.

So in that sense the Creation perakim are not allegorical.. They are the
record of events that actually occurred. Nevertheless those events need
not be understood as having occurred literally in the exact way that a
simple reading would suggest. Again, the most obvious point that can be
understood non-literally is the length of the six days, which the Torah
itself seems to indicate was measured in time increments different from
those which we are accustomed to.

I suppose you could say "creation" is not allegorical but "day" is.
I would reject even that formulation, though, because the word "day"
can mean "era" as in "in this day and age" or "there's a new day dawning"
or "in my day...."

Anyway, literalism and allegory are not the only alternatives here.

 -Toby Katz


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Date: Mon, 27 Oct 2003 12:07:49 EST
From: T613K@aol.com
Subject:
literalism and allegory - the Mabul


The fact that we do not have physical evidence of there having been a
world wide flood proves nothing one way or another.

However, it is quite possible that what R' Arie Folger suggests is what
actually happened, namely, that the Mabul covered a large area, but not
the entire globe. Nothing in the pesukim forces the conclusion that the
enire planet was flooded at the same time.

That would also aid in the understanding of something else that is
difficult to picture, namely, that every species in the world was
represented in the ark. It would not have been necessary to save animals
from the other side of the planet, if the flood did not threaten them.

One might then go on and say that it was not necessary in that case
to save ANY of the animals on the ark, as G-d could have just sent
representatives of every species to a dry area.

But then we would not have known some important things that we do learn
from the ark, including the fact that He cares about the animals and wants
species diversity preserved, if not each and every individual jaguar and
lemur; that the entire earth and all its living creatures were in danger,
and WOULD have been destroyed, had it not been for a special act of Divine
Providence; that Noah--man--was meant to be the steward of life on earth.

For all the above speculation I have no sources and therefore readily
defer to anyone who can point to sources indicating that I am reading
the whole story wrong.

BTW my own private belief is more woman- and child-like, in that I think
the whole world WAS likely submerged. But I recognize that the pesukim
recounting the history of the Mabul do not force such an understanding.

Once again I find myself pointing out that literal and allegorical
understandings of the Torah are not the only two alternatives.

 -Toby Katz


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Date: Mon, 27 Oct 2003 12:18:15 -0500
From: "Shinnar, Meir" <Meir.Shinnar@rwjuh.edu>
Subject:
RE: Basics for Philisophical discussions


RYGB
>>Why not just admit that that section must be taken allegorically, not
> We have gone through this before. If Noach was an allegory, who is to
> say that the Avos are not? And if the Avos are an allegory, who is to
> say that the makkos are not? And if the makkos are an allegory, who
> is to say that kerias yam suf is not. Please not that I am not arguing
> "slippery slope." I am arguing that the moment we allegorize something
> that Chazal did not we are already deep inside the pit.

The Rambam explicitly says that he allegorizes something that chazal didn't,
and that it wasn't based on mesora - but purely on rational considerations.

Was the Rambam inside the pit??   What is the basis for the distinction,
outside of your own sense that  nitkatnu hadorot has a practical application
here?  The issue isn't comparing ourselves to the rambam - but that the idea
that allegorization not explicit in hazal (and perhaps some selected
rishonim??) is inherently pasul, when the rambam gives it explicit sanction,
requires some proof.  According to the rambam, not allegorizing things that
are contradictory to reason is itself problematic, and being mevaza chazal
and the torah... 

Meir Shinnar


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Date: Mon, 27 Oct 2003 18:46:38 +0100
From: Arie Folger <afolger@aishdas.org>
Subject:
Re: literalism and allegory - the Mabul


On Monday 27 October 2003 18:07, T613K@aol.com wrote:
> The fact that we do not have physical evidence of there having been a world
> wide flood proves nothing one way or another.

Actually, that is arguable. There is a big difference between the lack
of evidence for the Exodus, where we may convincingly argue that the
archaeologist are not looking at the right place, and perhaps that there
is anyway very little expected to be found in the traces of a nomadic
group that was all over the place for 40 years (perhaps Qodêsh Barne'a
is the place where to look), and the lack of evidence that is supposed
to be everywhere. If an event as catastrophic as the flood would leave
sediments (which is arguable), one would expect to find them everywhere.

Furthermore, there are numerous difficulties with the popular account of
the flood. Thus, one wonders how come that there is continuity of culture
before and after the flood (i.e., the pottery and other art that is from
20 years before the Mabul resembles exactly the same as that from 20
years after, in many places. To deny this, you'd have to maintain that
all archaeologists are entirely wrong about their dating techniques. So
wrong, that even adjacent periods are not properly dated.), there is the
difficulty of understanding how water could rise so quickly and disappear
so quickly, and there is the difficulty of fitting so many animals into
the little ark, there is the difficulty of the genetic diversity of any
specie that could hardly have developed in 4000 years. I am sure that
we can find many more issues.

All the above issues can be explained by positing that the Mabul was
a series of miracles. Yet, one only needs to consult Ralbag and Malbim
on the passage in Yehôshu'a regarding the temporary cessation of the
waters of the Jordan River, to see that there is merit in trying to
explain the verses such that we need not resort to a large number of
supernatural events.

(Those who wonder about my reference to Ralbag and Malbim: they both try
to explain "scientifically" how the nes happened, so that it wouldn't
be supernatural, or at least limit the amount of "miracle power"
involved. The scientific explanatinos of those two giants is irrelvant
to our discussion. What is relevant is that they attempted to reconcile
Torah with science by quite liberally adding speculative details to the
prophetic account to support a natural hypothesis.)

> However, it is quite possible that what R' Arie Folger suggests is what
> actually happened, namely, that the Mabul covered a large area, but not the
> entire globe.  Nothing in the pesukim forces the conclusion that the enire
> planet was flooded at the same time.

I only suggest that this is a possible explanation. As I posted on Avodah
(it didn't appear yet), I wasn't there, and neither were you guys, so I
am only suggesting that such speculation is kosher, somewhat plausible,
and definitely doesn't brand one who believes in it a miqtanei emunoh.

> That would also aid in the understanding of something else that is
> difficult to picture, namely, that every species in the world was
> represented in the ark.  It would not have been necessary to save animals
> from the other side of the planet, if the flood did not threaten them.

Hah, you are starting to sound like the two authorities I quoted above
(in style, not in substance regarding the Flood.).

> One might then go on and say that it was not necessary in that case to save
> ANY of the animals on the ark, as G-d could have just sent representatives
> of every species to a dry area.

> But then we would not have known some  important things that we do learn
> from the ark, including the fact that He cares about the animals and wants
> species diversity preserved, if not each and every individual jaguar and
> lemur; that the entire earth and all its living creatures were in danger,
> and WOULD have been destroyed, had it not been for a special act of Divine
> Providence; that Noah--man--was meant to be the steward of life on earth.

Now you argue exactly what Ralbag argues when commenting on when the
Nation of Israel was between the handlebars of the Ark. He explains that
miracles aren't there to impress on the outsider, nor are they there
to make something that is otherwoise impossible happen. G'd's creation
isn't deficient that it should need fixing to save the Jews. Instead,
he argues that miracles are there to teach us - the believers - values.

> For all the above speculation I have no sources and therefore readily defer
> to anyone who can point to sources indicating that I am reading the whole
> story wrong.

The text is difficult, regardless what way one tries to explain it. Then
again, who said that Tôroh is easy to understand? Im beĥukôsai
telêkhu, shetihyu 'amelim baTôroh.

BTW, how do you like my new transliteration scheme, utilizing the accent
circonflex ^ to produce a ĥôlom or a ĥes? (now I still need a way to
distinguish between a samaĥ, sin and sof, and between a tes and tof.
Unfortunately, I am constrained by what ASCII includes, because otherwise
some list members won't be able to read it, and I will have to remap
my keyboard to produce the odder characters, such as the h with a dot
under it, which I can't even find in my Unicode table, although it should
be there.)

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: Mon, 27 Oct 2003 09:24:45 -0500
From: "Yosef Gavriel & Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.it.northwestern.edu>
Subject:
Re: Hashkofa and Authority


>I looked through R' Tzuriels Beis Yechezkel,his 3 volume Otzros Gedolei
>Yisroel and his latest work 2 volumes Otzros HaMusar. There is no
>mention of the Beshht's view of H...

In Beis Yechezkel/Otzaros HaMussar he does not deal with Hashgocho. Look,
however, at Shaar HaBitachon and you will see a broad discussion of all
the shittos.

>Thus you have only a single work - that of R' Shaul Yisraeli which
>receives your approval. The work of R' Tzuriel, Michtav MEliayahu,
>Sifsei Chaim, R' Aryeh Kaplan's 2 volume handbook of Jewish Through, R'
>Levi violate your principle....

I see you still don't get it. Rabbi Levi did NOT violate the RYGBHP. He
brought down both sides. It was the hachro'oh that bothered the reviewer.

As to the other works you cite, MME was not written by REED so it is
not the same type of work.

R' Tzuriel does present all sides.

I am not sufficiently familiar with RAK's work to comment.

[Email #2. -mi]

>RYGB asserts that "no one except Chazal has the right to decree
>allegorizations." I assume that he means to also include the Rishonim? But
>what is his source for this declaration? (I checked the previous discussion
>on this in the archives, and all that I could find offered is his sevara.)
>Who gave them the "right" to do this? Who denies us that "right"? You need
>not accept someone's allegorical interpretation of something, but on what
>grounds does he not have a "right" to interpret it that way? RYGB writes
>that he is sure that present company is not qualified to do so. Not
>qualified in whose opinion? RYGB's opinion? Hashem's opinion?

I strongly urge you to read in the Otzaros HaMussar the section on the 
status of Chazal and Emunas Chachomim. The right to declare something 
allegory is only possessed by Ba'alei Mesorah. Some Rishonim (not all) were 
Ba'alei Mesorah. Other than that, our mesorah counterindicates any further 
allegorization.

>Actually, if someone feels that one needs to have a sufficiently qualified
>authority upon which to rely for the allegorization of the Mabul, then I can
>provide one. It's a more authorititive source than the Rishonim. More
>authoritative even than Chazal. It's the Metziyus. Hashem's "diary of
>history," the physical world, states that there was no global Flood. I think
>that Hashem is a reliable source (unless, of course, He was deliberately
>deceiving us...). There is only one metziyus. On the other hand, there are
>different ways of understanding the Torah.

There is no comprehensive "metziyus" record. Every day new data, new 
interpretations are offered. Retrospective analysis of sediment layers and 
allied areas is extrapolated guesswork at best. If anything, although I am 
not very familiar with the comparative sources, the parallel epics in other 
historical sources of a Great Flood provide far more verification than 
sediment layers provoke consternation.

In the final analysis, if you (and I) are willing to give credence to such 
speculative sciences it must be only with a healthy dollop of skepticism.

YGB 


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Date: Mon, 27 Oct 2003 09:41:55 -0500
From: "Yosef Gavriel & Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.it.northwestern.edu>
Subject:
Re: passing judgement


>I for one prefer to vote with RAL

That is your prerogative.

It is an utterly disingenuous understanding of my position to state that
it consists of a principle that one cannot reject shittos. I think you
are intelligent enough to realize that and am dismayed at the contortion
of my position that you presented to subject to mockery.

YGB 


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Date: Mon, 27 Oct 2003 17:02:00 +0200
From: Eli Turkel <turkel@post.tau.ac.il>
Subject:
rishonim


RYGB writes
"The Baal Shem Tov put it that all the great mechabrim until the Maharasho
were blessed with ruach ha'kodesh. We can be more "rational" about it, but
the reality is that they were holier and greater than we are, by far, and
that is why they are called Rishonim. I know of no "corners" in which one
becomes painted by following Chazal, Rishonim and Gedolei HoAcharonim."

I know of several shitot by R. Elchanan Wasserman, CI, R. Fisher and
others on why amoraim can't disagree with rishonim. Not even CI uses
the languages "that they were holier". I know of no shitah that we can't
disagree with rishonim because ther were holier. Did this holiness drop
suddenly at some magic point in history?

In fact in many areas such as parshanut on the Torah acharonim indeed
do disagree with rishonim just as the rishonim disagreed with Chazal.
It did not extend to psak halacha for other reasons having nothing to
do with holiness.

However, now that we have gotten this far - indeed who gives the Besht
permission to disagree about HP with Rambam, Ramban and Ran?

In terms of allegorization is RYGB stating that we must accept that the
earth is literally 5764 years old? After all it is clear that is chazal's
viewpoint and all the recent answers from Tifferet Yisrael and on should
be thrown out because who are we to disagree with Chazal.

 - 
Prof. Eli Turkel,  turkel@post.tau.ac.il on 27/10/2003
Department of Mathematics, Tel Aviv University


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Date: Mon, 27 Oct 2003 12:09:46 EST
From: T613K@aol.com
Subject:
Re: Hashqofoh and Authority


In Avodah V12 #29 on Sun, 26 Oct 2003 "Michael Frankel"
<michaeljfrankel@hotmail.com> wrote:
>> Now, I've previously had occasion to remark the mind reading skills
of some posters to this forum (more usually demonstrated on topics such
as WTG's and such like where the inner spiritual states of complete
strangers are invariably described with unfailing confidence by our
cadre of avodah psi-adepts)...<<

I would just like to say that no mind reading was necessary. When you
have read enough of their books and articles, heard enough of their
lectures, and met enough Orthodox feminists, you reach a point where the
shoe is on the other foot. The one who claims that her motives for going
to the WTG are all leshem shomayim -- well, excuse me, aleha harai'ah.
The motivation of the WTG founders and machers were most assuredly not
leshem Shomayim, but leshem politics.

Also when the little gray men kidnapped me in Roswell, they told me what
the ladies at the WTG's were thinking.

 -Toby Katz


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Date: Mon, 27 Oct 2003 19:39:33 +0200
From: eli turkel <turkel@post.tau.ac.il>
Subject:
Re: rishonim


RYGB writes

> Holiness. A factor that only is relevant in issues that at the core require
> "me ya'aleh lanu ha'shomyma."

source please   = is the Besht as holy as Rambam, Ramban, Ran
that he can disagree with Rambam, Ramban, Ran

> Chazal say the earth is older than 5764 years. I have no idea why you think
> Chazal say differently. They say this cycle has been 5764 years.

what happened 5764 years ago that began this cycle?

this is your allegorization of chazal. It certainly is not
simple pshat whether the world was created in Nissan or Tishre
or that we add an extra year to the calendar because the world
was really created on 25 Elul and only man was created on RH.

We all know that in fact there are several attempts to explain
the difference between chazal and modern science of which this is
only one possibility.

kol tuv,
Eli Turkel


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Date: Mon, 27 Oct 2003 13:14:24 -0500
From: "Yosef Gavriel & Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.it.northwestern.edu>
Subject:
Re: rishonim


>RYGB writes

>> Holiness. A factor that only is relevant in issues that at the core require
>> "me ya'aleh lanu ha'shomyma."

>source please   = is the Besht as holy as Rambam, Ramban, Ran
>that he can disagree with Rambam, Ramban, Ran

The Besht himself writes about his aliyas neshomo. And the term Baal Shem 
has a specific connotation.

>> Chazal say the earth is older than 5764 years. I have no idea why you think
>> Chazal say differently. They say this cycle has been 5764 years.

>what happened 5764 years ago that began this cycle?

Is this a trick question? Chazal say he destroyed the previous world
"mipnei ro'ah malaleihem" - the Torah Sheleimah in the back of vol. 1
brings several ma'amarei Chazal to that effect. No allegorization of
Chazal. Efener zachin.

YGB 


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Date: Mon, 27 Oct 2003 16:39:14 +0200
From: eli turkel <turkel@post.tau.ac.il>
Subject:
leaf falling


So we are left with: Either G-d Himself caused the leaf to fall, or some
non-bechira tool of His caused the leaf to fall.>>

i.e. either G-d "personally" decreed for the leaf to fall or else G-d
set up a set of physical laws which determine which leaf should fall
when. This is precisely the argument between the shitot. No one disagrees
that creation of the world includes the laws of physics.

Interestingly within physics there is a debate if the present laws of
physics preceded the big bang or came into existence with the big bang.
 From a Torah viewpoint both were created by G-d and it is irrelevant
as to the specific order.

Eli Turkel


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Date: Mon, 27 Oct 2003 10:40:40 -0500 (EST)
From: "Micha Berger" <micha@aishdas.org>
Subject:
Re: Hashgocah Protis


RAM:
> If a leaf falls in a distant forest and does not affect a person,
> then either G-d caused that it to fall, or something else caused it
> to fall.

> If it was "something else" which caused it to fall, then that other
> thing either had some degree of independent decision making (such as
> to cause this leaf to fall before or after another leaf), or it had
> no degree of independence at all.

> If one says that it had some degree of independence, that would be
> polytheistic, no? After all, if it has some degree of independence,
> why not daven to it?

Does the existance of bechirah chafshi in humans imply polytheism and
the worthiness of praying to these independent beings?

> So we are left with: Either G-d Himself caused the leaf to fall, or
> some non-bechira tool of His caused the leaf to fall.

The Kuzari 5:20 explicitly defines HP as being the more direct action,
while teva is via a chain of causes.

AISI, the problem is still with our definition of hashgachah.

RGS writes:
> HP is Hashem intervening in the world....

I think this is still too vague.

First, hashgachah is some form of intervention. The word "peratis" has
to do with the scale on which the event impacts, not the kind of event.
The problem is really "what kind"?

1- As we've seen (eg as cited by RAK from Rav Nachman), "hashgachah"
could mean Divine aid. That's not all intervention, unless you start
operating on the "kol de'avad rachmanah" level; all hashgachah is from
H' therefore it's all good. But in which case, speaking of aid vs harm
would have been meaningless.

2- Another definition is suggested by the Rambam (Moreh 1:17-18) where
he contrasts those subject to HP vs those who are left to teva. As I've
asked already, as had RAM before he started drifting from this definition
to another, does this work with today's non-deterministic physics?

Also, both the Gra and REED *must* hold of universal HP of this sort.
According to them, teva is merely an illusion. Therefore, nothing could
be left to be buffeted by the winds of teva and mazal -- they don't
really exist.

3- By parallel to REED vs CI on bitachon, we can suggest a corresponding
shitah to #1. Hashgachah means an experience that fits Hashem's plan in
a manner more specific than Hashem's wanting someone to be abandoned to
his natural fate.

This is not the same as saying non-teva (#2). Teva could have been so
well designed such that for every combination of human decisions, its
effects are exactly what Hashem would want the person to experience.
It's a denial of chance; ie a meaning of miqreh other than the Kuzari's.

In fact, if one doesn't accept this definition of hashgachah, one either
needs a non-deterministic definition of teva, or one has to address
why HQBH set up a system that requires hashgachah minis, ie one that
is flawed enough to need His intervention to protect minim. After all,
the existance of HM is universally accepted.

OTOH, if one does accept it, then no event is unplanned, leaving HUGE
theodicical problems. One can no longer blame the holocaust only on
people, one also has to address why Hashem chose their bechirah over
our survival. These issues too can be addressed.

 -mi

 - 
Micha Berger             When you come to a place of darkness,
micha@aishdas.org        you don't chase out the darkness with a broom.
http://www.aishdas.org   You light a candle.
Fax: (413) 403-9905        - R' Yekusiel Halberstam of Klausenberg zt"l


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Date: Mon, 27 Oct 2003 12:03:08 -0500
From: "David Riceman" <driceman@worldnet.att.net>
Subject:
Re: Avodah Zara and Independent Agents


From: "Kenneth G Miller" <kennethgmiller@juno.com>
> Can someone give me a kitzur of how they resolve Hilchos Avodah Zara
> with the belief that these agents have independence? Is it okay to
> believe in such agents as long as we don't pray to them? How limited
> does their degree of independence need to be to allow this belief; for
> example, must we believe that Hashem always has the ability to override
> the agent's decision (i.e., use Hashgacha Pratis), or might the agent
> have an independence which can even override Hashem on occasion? (which
> sounds assur to me, but that's why I'm asking)

See H. Avodah Zara 2:1 and 2:6 (you won't understand 2:1 unless you've
skimmed chapter 1).  If you side with those who believe magic is real (e.g.
the Ramban) you have to disagree with 2:6 but 2:1 still gives the general
rule.

David Riceman


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Date: Mon, 27 Oct 2003 12:18:32 EST
From: Ohrchama@aol.com
Subject:
HP


Kenneth Miller wrote:
R' Eli Turkel wrote about two opposing viewpoints: <<< ... even though
G-d, in general, does not concern himself with individual animals or
leaves. I understood the Besht as claiming that every leaf that falls
in a forest without any effect on any human still falls only because
G-d decrees it. >>>

<It seems to me that the difference between these two is mostly semantic.

<If a leaf falls in a distant forest and does not affect a person, then
<either G-d caused that it to fall, or something else caused it to fall.

<If it was "something else" which caused it to fall, then that other thing
<either had some degree of independent decision making (such as to cause
<this leaf to fall before or after another leaf), or it had no degree of
<independence at all.

<If one says that it had some degree of independence, that would be
<polytheistic, no? After all, if it has some degree of independence,
<why not daven to it?

<So we are left with: Either G-d Himself caused the leaf to fall, or some
<non-bechira tool of His caused the leaf to fall.

<To me, this sounds like arguing whether *I* put the food in my mouth, or
<whether my *fork* put the food in my mouth. Is this what the discussion
<is about, or am I missing something?

The difference is that if G-d is using a non-bechira tool called "Teva"
that works with certain laws, then we do not postulate that there was
a specific reason why each time one leaf falls as opposed to another
or whether one wildebeest is eaten by a lion as opposed to another or
whether G-d specifically wanted any leaf to fall or any wildebeest to
be eaten at this time.

Kol Tuv,
Yaakov Goldstein


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Date: Mon, 27 Oct 2003 12:20:00 EST
From: Ohrchama@aol.com
Subject:
Question to the Besht


I would like to pose a question to the Besht or those who want to answer
for him. If I have my computer play Monopoly or Risk Games, one Computer
player against another, is G-d decreeing which computer player should
win each game? If yes, why would G-d care?


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Date: Mon, 27 Oct 2003 10:13:07 -0500 (EST)
From: "Micha Berger" <micha@aishdas.org>
Subject:
Re: Creation as an Ikkar


RMLevin wrote:
> The Ralbag in Milchamos Hashem defends this theory
> philosophically(Wars of the Lord, transl. by JPS, available on their
> site). Also Ibn Ezra on Breishis 1....

RML's post prodded me to look over the rishonim.

First, let's note that we're discussing whether beri'ah yeish mei'ayin is
an ikkar, not creation as a broad concept. The latter is unquestionably
so.

Second, in Bereishis Rabba 1:9, Rabban Gamliel is challenged on this
very point by a Hellinist, who complimented G-d's artistry but then
claims that the Torah tells us G-d made the universe from "tohu", "bohu",
"choshech", "ru'ach", "mayim" and "tehom". Rabban Gamliel then defends
the concept of yeish mei'ayin by bringing a pasuq showing the creation
of each of the items mentioned in Ber' 1:2.

Of the rishonim themselves...

The Ralbag speaks of "geshem bilti shomer temunato", interestingly
avoiding the words "chomer" or "tzurah". And, as far as I can tell, this
GBST neither fully exist nor fully not-exist, but resides ontologically
somewhere in between. I have no idea what this means. Also, the Ralbag
clearly considers time a nivra, and therefore the past is finite (while
the future may not be). So, while there is some kind of quasi-existance
to the GBST, it is NOT eternal.

The Ralbag's peshat resolves the problem of "tohu vavohu" (chaotic and
empty). If there is nothing there, what is chaotic? This is why Rashi has
to say "one would have been confused by the total emptiness". However,
according to the Ralbag, a chaotic GBST not-quite-existed.

This is an interesting contrast to the Ramban. The Ramban has a dual
creation. He speaks of "hayuli", ie "hyle", the Greek for "chomer" in
"chomer vetzurah", as the yeish mei'ayin implied by the word "bara"
in Bereishis 1:1. The other pesuqim describe the embuing of tzurah to
the chomer.

Rashi also seems to indicate that Ber' 1:1 involves missing undescribed
steps of creation. (Which seems to be muchrach from the Medrash Rabba I
mentioned above, anyway.) The Rashbam says that even pasuq aleph picks
up midstory, after the creation of an empty shamayim va'aretz.

So, when we turn to the IE, it's not as easy as I thought coming into
this to see what he means. The IE denies that (at least bepeshuto) the
word "bara" means yeish mei'ayin. He relates it to "barah" (with a hei),
"to cut into form, to set a limit". (Sounds like "Shakkai", LAD.) So,
he has no pesuqim that speak of yeish mei'ayin. However, given the above
about the incompleteness of the story given in the pasuq, either before
1:1 (Rashbam) or between 1:1 and 1:2 (Ramban), that doesn't mean IE
denies yeish mei'ayin occured.

According to RYKafeh, the Rambam also held that "beri'ah" had to do with
giving tzurah to chomer. However, since RYK has the Rambam attribute
the concept of yeish mei'ayin to the name "Tzur" the idea itself is
certainly asserted.

 -mi

 - 
Micha Berger             When you come to a place of darkness,
micha@aishdas.org        you don't chase out the darkness with a broom.
http://www.aishdas.org   You light a candle.
Fax: (413) 403-9905        - R' Yekusiel Halberstam of Klausenberg zt"l


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Date: Mon, 27 Oct 2003 11:05:07 -0500 (EST)
From: "Micha Berger" <micha@aishdas.org>
Subject:
Emanation and Panentheism


RAM wrote:
> R' Micha Berger wrote <<< 4- Time itself is a creation. Therefore,
> while G-d is the First Cause, the connection between that Cause and
> the universe would not be temporal. IOW, not only is Hashem outside
> of time, perhaps creation also is. Hashem could have created a
> timeline that extends infinitely in both directions.>>>

> This seems to fit panentheism. While I used to object strongly to
> the idea of an infinite timeline, I can now see that if it is all
> part of Hashem anyway, there's nothing to preclude it.

It's consistant with panentheism. It is not 1:1 either way.

A panentheist could argue that time is not a beryah. Since G-d is eternal,
the universe is eternal. Parallel to Plato's assertion about emanation.

Also, someone could argue that the universe is an external manufacture
made by G-d, including time. Much like a sculpturer making a 3D object,
Hashem made a 4D one. Hashem could have made a 4D "sculpture" of infinite
"length" along the time axis.

RYGB wrote:
>>Atzilus means that the universe is caused by Hashem but not through
>> an maker-made relationship.

>>Panentheism means the universe is, at least very deep down, made of
>> G-d.

> You are defining panenthesim your own way, then. This is the only
> definition of it that I found.

Even if I were, that shouldn't be a problem. The discussion is about
the ideas, not about English. As you yourself pointed out, the choice
of wording is of little value. We just need some tool to be clear as
to our distinctions. As saying G-d emanates the beri'ah is different
in meaning than saying the beri'ah is simply that of Him which is
subject to the illusion that it isn't, having distinct words is
useful.

In any case, yours is an odd response, I quoted wickipedia's
definition. I didn't give my own. The following is from another
reference I have found useful, the Internet Encylopedia of Philosophy
<http://www.utm.edu/research/iep/f/faith-re.htm>:
> Hegel's thoroughgoing rationalism ultimate yields a form of
> panentheism in which all finite beings, though distinct from natural
> necessity, have no existence independent from it. "There is only one
> Being and things by their very nature form part of it." ...

> In any event, the Tanya does not say the universe is made of G-d and
> it is heretical to say so.

Then what do you do with the begining of the Sha'ar haEmunah
vehaBitachon that I cited? Or, for that matter, numerous other
examples from the first 7 or 8 chapters?

RAYKook seems to say something similar, but I always find his writings
too opaque for unequivical statements on my part. He seems to talk
about the process of history being one back to the primary Unity (cap
intentional) that we have this illusion is a plurality.

 -mi

 - 
Micha Berger             When you come to a place of darkness,
micha@aishdas.org        you don't chase out the darkness with a broom.
http://www.aishdas.org   You light a candle.
Fax: (413) 403-9905        - R' Yekusiel Halberstam of Klausenberg zt"l


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