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Volume 13 : Number 093

Wednesday, September 8 2004

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Tue, 7 Sep 2004 19:25:00 -0400
From: "Shinnar, Meir" <Meir.Shinnar@rwjuh.edu>
Re: Age of the Universe

>> But to allegorize the Torah is unacceptable, as we have stated here

>In your opinion. Others disagree. As stated here as well.

>If you mean other Avodah subscribers, that is correct. If you mean more
>substantive sources, it is not.

Later on
> 1. To take the pasuk k'peshuto.
> 2. To take the pasuk as describing the aliba d'shemaya aspect 
> of a deed
> (a la the sin of Chofni and Pinchas the sons of Eli).
> 3. To take the pasuk as describing the metzius, but on a 
> spiritual, not a
> physical plane (a la the Rambam's understanding of the interaction
> between humans and malachim.
> 4. To take the pasuk on one of these three levels, but also to infer
> a remez to something more profound or hidden (a la the Kabbalists'
> understanding of the eight kings of Edom).

WRT to the discussion on allegory and the Rambam:

1) Those who understand ma'asim as allegory typically understand them
as describing a spiritual metziut. It is not clear to me the difference
between saying that the malachim did not physically appear to avraham
(as the ramban explicitly understands the rambam to mean - he is unhappy
with that interpetation, but does not deny that it is the rambam's),
but the whole interaction, including the meal, etc, occurs solely on a
spiritual plane, and saying that gan eden occured on a spiritual level,
or saying that the flood occured on a spiritual level. In both cases,
the events described in the torah are understood as not occuring on
a physical plane - no one is saying that statements in the torah are
meaningless - there is agreement on a deep spiritual meaning. The question
is the dictionary - understanding the spiritual metziut being described.
What is the difference between these cases?

2) WRT to ma'ase breshit:

The rambam understands breshit as being consonant with aristotelian
physics - with the emergence of current matter from the elements -and
much of the more nevuchim is devoted to showing that there is such
agreement - with the radical reinterpretation of the pshuto shel mikra
understanding. Whether this occurs in time or not is not clear - as the
rambam understands temporal precedence in the torah to imply logical
precedence. Therefore, the rambam does use, as RYGB points out, the
temporal sequence of events in ma'ase breshit.

However, the rambam is quite clear that if forced, he would reinterprete
much of ma'ase breshit - he specifically says that if the scientific
evidence was there, much could be reinterpreted - even for an eternal
world - and he is explicit in the more that a platonic version of an
eternal world is compatible with torah - and it is that statement that is
the core - the rambam's claim of the freedom to reinterprete if necessary
(RMB has a standing disagreement on me on whether the rambam requires a
makor in hazal as well as scientific necessity - but clearly, at least in
maase breshit, the rambam feels the freedom). How do you understand the
rambam's statement and deny that the rambam believes one may allegorize
the temporal sequence in maase breshit, even if the rambam himself does
stick to the temporal sequence? Are there any mefarshim who agree with
you with that understanding?

3)  The claim is that there is no substantive sources who disagree.

In this discussion, RYGB has admitted that the Abarbanel and rav kappach
understands the rambam as allegorizing gan eden. One can also cite (as
has been done on previous discussions) rav kook who and Rav Lichtenstein,
who believe in the permissibility of extending the rambam's mode of
allegorizing (and they clearly view the rambam as permitting allegorizing)

While RYGB is free to disagree with all these positions - to suggest
that there is no substantive sources who disagree with him is quite
problematic, and can't be dismissed that kvodam bimkomo munach. I would
suggest that it is far harder to bring substantive sources who actually
agree with his understanding of the rambam - even though there are
clearly substantive sources who are against allegory, few denied the
rambam's use of it.

Meir Shinnar

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Date: Wed, 8 Sep 2004 03:53:50 -0500
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Date: Wed, 08 Sep 2004 11:54:05 +0200
From: Daniel Eidensohn <yadmoshe@012.net.il>
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Subject: Re: halcha vs agada
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S Goldstein wrote:


>>The Meiri ... doesn't analyze the gemora to show that this view is
>>wrong but simply argues from a metarule that Jews must have free will
>>and that is why he rejects this view. Rambam does the same thing in
>>rejecting the validity of any evidence against free will - which he
>>acknowledges does apparently exist in various verses. He[ the Meiri]
>>nowhere demonstrates where and how Shas rejects this view - but he says
>>instead that *he* rejects this view. Thus he is not understanding Shas
>>but has a preexisting view that prevents him from excepting certain
>>views found in Shas. Anyone taking this approach to a sugya in gemora
>>can not be said to trying to understand what the gemora is saying -
>>he knew before he opened the gemora.

>I think this is a serious distortion of the Rishonim's  positions.

This criticism does not deal with the data but simply rejects out of 
hand the possibility of what I said. I am well aware that the criticism 
is a reflection of commonly held views. However that does not make the 
data disappear. If you want to say that I misunderstood my sources, I'd 
appreciate being corrected. But to simply deny that rishonim clearly 
said what I asserted they say makes this an exercise in religious 
correctness not scholarship.

>1. Unlike RDE, the Meiri quotes Chazal that ein mazal lyisroel.

I fail to see the relevance of this. The Meiri does in fact state that 
there is a view in Chazal of "ein mazal lyisroel".  The chidush is how 
he deals with the opposing view of "yeish mazal lyisroel". He simply 
dismisses it as being from "confused scholars". How does he know that 
they are confused? Simply because he knows that this view violates the 
principle of free will. Therefore he concludes that they came to this 
incorrect view because of their direct experience of the suffering of 
tzadikim or of their own personal suffering. What would happen if you 
claimed that in a dispute between R' Yochanon and Reish Lakish that we 
should ignore Reish Lakish since he obviously came to his conclusion 
because of his guilt for being a criminal? It is obvious that the Meiri 
is dismissing the alternative rather than trying to understand it. The 
Ran on the other hand is an example of someone who faced the same issues 
as the Meiri and yet elucidated both positions.

>2. The Rambam does not believe that he is arguing with psukim. This is
>an impossibility. There is the old yeshivish joke that the yeshivaman is
>asked after 120 to state the Torah he has learned. He replies that he is
>not so good at delivery. Let Hashem say a vort and then the yeshivaman
>will shlogg it up. Of course, this is only a joke. One cannot argue with
>dvar Hashem as expressed in psukim.

You misread my assertion. I am not saying that the Rambam is arguing 
with psukim but rejecting the evidence that they present. I stated,

"Rambam does the same thing in
rejecting the validity of any evidence against free will - which he
acknowledges does apparently exist in various verses."

He is acknowledging that psukim exist which seem to contradict the 
principle of free will. He says not to pay attention to this *evidence* 
because there is an explanation of why they in fact say that man has no 
free will. The following are a number of citations from Rishonim. If you 
can provide a better interpretation of what they are saying - I would be 
grateful to hear it.

Meiri(Shabbos 55a): It is one of the foundation principles of Judaism to 
believe that all happens to a person - both the good and the bad - is 
determined by G‑d according to the person's deeds. One should not be 
confused by what seems to contradict this principle i.e., the suffering 
of the righteous and the pleasures of the wicked. It seems that the 
righteous and wicked are treated the same. In fact the nature of justice 
is hidden from us and we don't know why a particular person is punished 
or is rewarded. We do know the general principle that G?­?­â€‘d does not 
withhold the reward due to any creature- whether pleasure or 
punishment.  This principle is what our sages meant when they said, 
"There is no death without sin and there is no suffering without 
transgression".  You shouldn't be disturbed by the fact that this 
principle is apparently refuted in the gemora when it says that four 
died by the sin of the Serpent - thus indicating that death is a 
universal punishment because of the Serpent and was implanted in Nature. 
It should not be taken literally because we know that there is no one 
who hasn't sinned.  Furthermore even though the gemora appears to reject 
the principle that death and suffering is caused by sin since it uses 
the term "tiyuvta" – that conclusion is incorrect. **That is because our 
religious beliefs are not dependent upon proofs from the simple meaning 
of verses and agadata.  There is the established principle that one does 
not resolve issues entirely on the basis agadata.**  The fact is that 
even Moshe and Aaron died because of their sins so obviously so has 
everyone else.

Rambam(Hilchos Teshuva 6:1,3): There are many verses in the Torah and 
words of the prophets that appear to contradict this principle that man 
has total free will. Most people err because of this and they think that 
G‑d decrees whether man does  good or bad and that man does not have the 
ability to decide which way he wishes to go.I will therefore explain a 
major principle that will enable you to understand the meaning of all 
these verses…...3) It is possible that a person sin such a great sin or 
so many sins that Divine justice requires that… he be punished by the 
prevention of his ability to repent and he is not allowed to cease 
sinning in order that he die and be destroyed in the sins that he did….

Rambam(Teshuva #436): Question: Concerning the principle that 
“Everything is in the hands of Heaven except for Fear of Heaven 
[Berachos 33b]. Answer: This that you say that not everything that a 
person does is determined by Heaven is absolutely true. That is why a 
person receives reward if he goes in the good path and is punished if he 
goes in the bad path. All of a man’s deeds are included in the category 
of Fear of Heaven. Ultimately all actions are either mitzvos or sins. 
Therefore this expression of our sages that “Everything is in the hands 
of Heaven” is referring the events of the world and nature. For example 
the world of vegetables, animals, spirits, mazel and spheres as well as 
angels are totally controlled by Heaven. We have already discussed this 
at length in the commentary to Pirkei Avos 1:13, 3:18-19, 4:28 Shemona 
Perakim #8 as well as in Mishna Torah [Beginning of Hilchos Teshuva 
Chapter 5] . Whoever ignores my explanation based on established 
principles and instead searches amongst agadata and medrash or the words 
of the Gaonim until he finds something which seems to contradict my 
cogent exposition is committing suicide and deservedly suffers the 
consequences. This that your teacher cited from the gemora [Sotah 2a; 
Moed Koton 18b]: that a Heavenly voice announces to whom each girl will 
be married and to whom wealth will sent they were not meant to be 
understood literally and simply. This can readily be seen from the Torah 
itself where it says [Devarim 20:7] that before a war it was announced 
that whoever is engaged but has not yet married should not fight because 
he might die in battle and someone else will marry her. Or that another 
man will benefit from his newly planted vineyard. Can any intelligent 
person be in doubt as to the meaning of the words of our sages after 
reading what it says in the Torah? In fact it is correct for one who has 
understanding and his mind is straight to take the path of truth and he 
should place that which is stated openly in the Torah as the essence and 
foundation and not destroy the structure and the structure which has 
been firmly planted so that it doesn’t move. When he finds verses of the 
prophets or statements of our sages which seem to contradict the 
foundation he should examine and analyze carefully until he can properly 
reconcile them with the words of the Torah. If he fails to find a 
reconciliation he should simply say that he doesn’t understand properly 
the words of the prophet or the sage and that their words are not to be 
understood literally. For example the apparent contradiction to free 
will represented by the gemora which indicates that one’s spouse is 
predestined is to be understood as being dependent upon merit. In other 
words if this man or woman does a mitzva which gives them the merit of 
having such a spouse – then G‑d arranges that it happen that they marry 
each other. On the other hand if they so something which merits the 
punishment of having a marriage without peace and harmony- that will 
also occur…

Chovas HaLevavos (3:8): I have found in books information about Divine 
compulsion, decree, rulership, and will. They state that everything is 
controlled by G‑d from mineral, plant, animal to human beings. Tehilim 
(135:6): G‑d does whatever He wants to do in Heaven and earth…. There 
are many similar verses that teach this idea that man and other 
creatures were prepared merely to adorn the world. That they move  only 
with His permission, with His power, and with His ability. … Our sages 
had intense debates about how to reconcile Divine  compulsion and Divine 
justice… Some held man has total free will and that is why man receives 
reward and punishment. Others held the opposite that everything is 
determined by G‑d… When this latter group is asked about reward and 
punishment they respond that it is a mystery but G‑d is just in whatever 
He does… There is a third group which believes in both Divine compulsion 
and Divine justice. But they add that whoever delves into the matter 
cannot avoid sin and trouble no matter how he attempts to explain the 
matter. They claim that the best approach is to have full faith that man 
has full free will and will be rewarded and punished for his deeds… but 
at the same time to have the full trust in G‑d as one who believes that 
everything is fully determined by G‑d. Furthermore to believe that G‑d 
can make claims against man but man can not demand anything of G‑d. This 
position is closer to resolving the problem than the others. That is 
because our ignorance of G‑d’s wisdom is well known because of the 
weakness of our minds and the limited awareness. But in fact our 
ignorance is the means by which G‑d shows His kindness to us and that is 
why it is hidden from us. Because if there was any benefit in revealing 
this secret then G‑d would have revealed it to us.

>3. It is impossible to accuse the Rishonim of presenting their own
>"preconceived notions", "personal" opinions against Gemaros. A Rishon is
>a baalMesorah who helps us understand the daos of Chazal. The Rishonim
>might hold certain ideas to be dictated by svara; but they are most
>certainly trying to understand Gemaros. They might have sophisticated
>ideas or remez or allegory[which then can be radically different from
>the superficial understanding of any maamar Chazal] but certainly it is
>all an attempt to understand Chazal.

The Meiri says that the views of these sages found in the gemora should 
be ignored ie., they are wrong and are not part of the mesora. That in 
fact they arrived at these erroneous views because of overwhelming 
personal experience which made them confused. How do you read the Meiri?

When the Rambam says that astrology is wrong - he acknowledges that 
there are some of our sages who espouse this view - but they are wrong. 
When he denies the validity of the concept of yissurim shel ahava - he 
says that even though it is stated in the gemora it is fact has no basis 
and is wrong. Thus while we all agree that rishonim are the transmitters 
of our mesora, they do occasionally state that certain views found in 
chazal are wrong. Just as we occasionally say that some statements found 
in the rishonim are wrong. Therefore not every statement in chazal is 
part of the mesora ( nor is every statement made by a rishon).  You can 
of course use this principle to simply say that the Meiri was wrong in 
this issue. But I don't understand how you can deny he said what he said.

Daniel Eidensohn

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Date: Wed, 08 Sep 2004 11:56:38 -0400
From: Mlevinmd@aol.com
Literal meaning

It is interesting that the Ramban did not take this Pshat literally at
all and took it only interpretively. IOW "Bread you did not eat" ...Lav
Davka. Why was he allowed to interpret the meaning non-literally but
interpretively? Are Rishonim the only one's permitted to do this? If so,
why them and not subsequent generations? Why didn't the Ramban simply
remain with a question rather then saying the Pasuk should not be taken

I don't think the issue of precisely when exactly allegorical
interpretations of the Torah are allowed and when they are not has been
addressed. I have been following much of the "back and forth" between RNS,
RYGB, RMB, and RJO and have seen a lot of quoting of Rishonim of various
statures in trying to back up various positions WRT to allegorizing
sections of the Torah. I am a bit perplexed as to the parameters
of permissibility of allegorizing. What is allowed? How far can we
go? And who is permitted to allegorize and who not? Can I do it? Can R
Elyashiv? Or must we go back to the era of the Rishonim? Indeed if the
Rishonim can, why them? Perhaps we need to go back to the Gaonic period
or to the Amoraim or even the Tannaim? Is there indeed any Mesorah on
the subject of allegorizing? Is there any Halacha Pesuka on it in print?

It si imporatant to realize that learning proper pshat is very different from allegory. One is trying to read intelligently, the other is predicated on a Greco-Roman distinction between letter and spirit, later taken over by Chistian allegorizers. 

What the Ramban did is learn sophisticated peshat -that's all, nothing else.
An allegory is usually quite clear - one says that what is written represents or hides meaning. Learning sophisticated peshat is saying that for certain reason you think what is written actually means this or that. Allegory is actually quite rare in Rishonim, mostly regarding philosophical matters.
M. Levin
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From: "Moshe Schor" <moshe12@earthlink.net>
To: <avodah@aishdas.org>
Subject: Role of Women
Date: Wed, 8 Sep 2004 12:13:50 -0400
MIME-Version: 1.0

Rn Chana Luntz asked some powerful questions [on Areivim -mi]. I'd like
to offer some partial answers.
> But what is her role?  And where is it defined within yehadus?

> I *think* you are assuming that her role is as wife and
> mother.  That certainly is what women have been doing for the
> last umpteen centuries both Jewish and non Jewish, frum and
> non frum.
>But, and this is one of my constant recurring questions.  Why
>if that is the case, is there no mitzvah value placed on a
>woman doing those roles.  If we say that greater is one who
>is commanded and does than one who just does - why is there
>no commandment on a woman to:

>a) marry?
>b) have children?
>c) look after the husband ...?
>d) look after the children? ...

<The point being - why does a woman not have any role within
<our classic halachic sources, not even what we all define as
<the "traditional" one while men have very clearly defined
<(almost overdefined, they are supposed to be looking after
<and educating their sons while simultaneously supporting them
<and learning torah and davening and, and, and)?  The closest
<I have seen to a halachic source for a woman's role is a
<drash on the hagada!  So why is it that every single one of
<what might be considered to be, in the traditional world of
<both Jews and non Jews, the particular province of women,
<marriage, having children, educating a family, Jewish women
<are specifically exempt.  It is a desperately striking set of
<exceptions.  Why does the Torah not value what you value, by
<giving women that role definition?

The Gemara Brochos 17a writes: [Our Rabbis taught]: Greater is the promise
made by the Holy One, blessed be He, to the women than to the men; for
it says, Rise up, ye women that are at ease; ye confident daughters,
give ear unto my speech. Rab said to R. Hiyya: Whereby do women earn
merit? By making their children go to the synagogue to learn Scripture
and their husbands to the Beth Hamidrash to learn Mishnah, and waiting
for their husbands till they return from the Beth Hamidrash. The Chafetz
Chaim explains that although women have many Mitzvohs to earn merit, the
Gemara's question is based on the premise that to merit Techias Hamasim,
one must have Torah merit. (See Keubos 111b)

The Mishna in Sotah says that a Sotah who is guilty may survive for a
few years after drinking the water, if she has merit. The Gemara Sotah
21a asks what kind of merit would be so powerful to protect her. If it's
Torah study, she is not commanded & consequently her reward would not be
that great. If it's a mitzvah, that would not seem to be great enough,
since a Mitzvah is compared to a candle which is temporary while Torah
study is compared to a permanent light. One answer of the Gemara is: "
Rabina said: It is certainly merit of [the study of] Torah [which causes
the water to suspend its effect]; and when you argue that she is in the
category of one who is not commanded and fulfils, [it can be answered]
granted that women are not so commanded, still when they have their
sons taught Scripture and Mishnah and wait for their husbands until they
return from the Schools, should they not share [the merit] with them?"
This Gemara is very problematic. Why is the reward for the encouragement
to their husbands & children any greater than their own study of Torah,
which the Gemara already rejected as not being sufficient because they are
not commanded? The answer must be that one who enables & causes others to
do a Mitzva earns the same merit as those who do the Mitzvah. The woman
is therefore receiving the same Zchus as the man who is commanded & as the
children. This is similar to the Yissachar-Zevulun partnership. (Although
it would seem children are not commanded, but nevertheless their learning
has the advantage that children are pure from sin & as the Gemara in
Shabbos 119b writes the world endures in the merit of children learning
Torah for that reason.) Similarly we find that one who causes others to
give Tzedaka has even a greater merit than one who gives himself.

We can say that the same applies to marrying & having children. Although
women are not commanded,since the man can not fulfill his Mitzva without
her, she shares the merit with him & effectively has the same benefits
as one who is commanded.

As to the question why aren't women actually commanded to have children,
Rav Meir Simcha of Dvinsk suggested that since women endanger their
lives in childbirth, the Torah did not want to impose this Mitzva on them.

Kol Tuv,
Moshe Schor

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Date: Wed, 8 Sep 2004 09:00:42 -0400
From: "David Riceman" <driceman@worldnet.att.net>
Re: Ikkarim (again??)

From: "Micha Berger" <micha@aishdas.org>
> : What do you think the issur is?

> I'm sure that with some work I'll find similar chovos halvavos to believe
> in Divine Justice and our eschtology.

I specifically gave the example of the philosopher in the Kuzari since I
know the Rambam proscribes atheism and polytheism.  He [the Kuzari's
philosopher] believes in God, and does mitzvoth (if he's Jewish and living
in a Jewish area).  He doesn't beleive that prophecy is possible.  What
prohiibition is he violating?

> IOW, the Rambam holds that olam haba is a consequence of yedi'ah, which
> in turn can only be a consequence of mitzvos.

Do you have a source for that last claim?: (i) how did one get olam haba
before Moses (see, e.g., H. Avodah Zara chapter 1 and H. Teshuva chapter 10,
where Avraham Avinu, not Moshe Rabbeinu, is the star)? (ii) the Rambam
describes the mechanism of cognition a couple of times in the Guide; nowhere
does he mention mitzvos as part of the mechanism.

David Riceman

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Date: Wed, 08 Sep 2004 19:51:18 +0300
From: Zoo Torah <zoorabbi@zootorah.com>
Re: Non-literal explanations/Gan Eden

In an earlier posting, concerning whether Rambam did indeed allegorize
portions of the Gan Eden story, RYGB wrote:
>The Rambam himself, as I noted earlier, says nothing of the sort that 
>you assert those three sources to state in explanation of his position. 
>If they so assert, they are clearly in error. I have no qualms stating 
>this about the Efodi and Rav Kappach who, kevodam be'mekomam munach, 
>are not exactly great pillars of strength upon which you can base your 
>position. I feel bad about the Abarbanel, but I will assume this is a 
>misunderstanding of his position. In any event, again, kevodo be'mekomo 
>munach, but even were he to say what you assert, yesh l'hashiv, vek"m.

To prove that this is not a misunderstanding of Abarbanel, here is
the quote:

"The second method is that this story is not as its simple understanding,
and there was no such thing, but it is all imagery (tzurah) and
allegorical parable (remez hameshali); and this is the method of the
Rambam, and it is actually also the method of Ibn Ezra, and this is his
secret. And it is that of the Ralbag also, in his commentary to the
Torah..." (Abravenel proceeds to voice his own personal disagreement
with this method)

I don't know much about Efodi, other than that he was a controversial
Rishon. But I know a bit about Rav Yosef Kapach. He was a dayan on
the Beis Din HaGadol of Yerushalayim. Furthermore, he was regarded as
one of the greatest experts on Rambam. He translated many of Rambam's
writings, including Moreh Nevuchim itself, from the original Arabic,
aside from his monumental edition of Mishneh Torah which incorporated
300 commentaries. I am astonished that RYGB can state without qualms
that Rav Kapach is not exactly a great pillar of strength on which to
base my understanding of Moreh Nevuchim.

I am also astounded that RYGB apparently expects us to accept his
interpretation of Moreh Nevuchim over that of two Rishonim, a major
Acharon, and a contemporary gadol who was specifically renowned for his
expertise in Rambam.

Kol tuv,
Nosson Slifkin

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Date: Wed, 8 Sep 2004 13:07:45 -0500
From: owner-avodah@aishdas.org

From domo@aishdas.org Tue Sep  7 16:18:46 2004
Date: Wed, 08 Sep 2004 00:18:42 +0300
From: Zoo Torah <zoorabbi@zootorah.com>
Subject: RE: Non-literal explanations of Torah
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To: Avodah - High Level Torah Discussion Group <avodah@aishdas.org>
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RYGB wrote:
>Sorry, I'm not getting this here. The Spero school is of the opinion that
>entire episodes - not just specific aspects - that the Torah depicts
>as historical - with times, dates, the works - can be allegorized,
>and that this may be done at will to resolve conflicts between science
>and Torah. We understand you to be an adherent of the Spero school -
>you see precedent in the Ralbag?!

As a study of the Avodah archives will show, I wasn't citing the Ralbag
as precedent for allegorizing the Mabul, which was not the topic
of conversation at any time. I was citing it to refute your blanket
statement that to allegorize the Torah is unacceptable, which is what
we were discussing - whether allegory is *ever* acceptable. I think it
refutes it, no?

Kol tuv
Nosson Slifkin

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Date: Wed, 8 Sep 2004 13:53:32 -0400
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Ikkarim (again??)

On Wed, Sep 08, 2004 at 09:00:42AM -0400, David Riceman wrote:
: I specifically gave the example of the philosopher in the Kuzari since I
: know the Rambam proscribes atheism and polytheism.  He [the Kuzari's
: philosopher] believes in God, and does mitzvoth (if he's Jewish and living
: in a Jewish area).  He doesn't beleive that prophecy is possible.  What
: prohiibition is he violating?

#9 Lishmoa' min hanavi hamdabeir bishmo.

As for the connection between mitzvos and yedi'ah, see PhM on "lifikhah
hirba lahem Torah umitzvos". I don't have answers to your questions,
just a citation.


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Date: Tue, 7 Sep 2004 17:36:31 -0400
From: "Stein, Aryeh" <AStein@wtplaw.com>
Re: tikkun hamidot through eating and drinking

> Can anyone direct me to sources in machshava that discuss teshuva
> and/or tikkun hamidot in the area of eating and drinking? 

See the Mateh Efraim (and the Elef Hamagen) where he discusses the custom
of fasting during Elul. Specifically, I came across an Elef Hamagen who,
while discussing the benefits of fasting during Elul, brings down a Magid
Mesharim who says that a person who, while in the middle of eating -
while his desire is still strong, overcomes that desire and stops eating,
it is as if he fasted a complete day.

On a somewhat related note, while everyone knows it is important to give
tzedekah on a fast day, how much should one give? Well, the Elef Hamagen
brings down that one should give at least the value of the food/drink
that one would've eaten had today not been a fast day. This shows that
one was fasting for the right reasons and not merely to save some money.

Ayin Sham for more details.

KT and KvCT

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Date: Wed, 8 Sep 2004 17:16:51 +0300
From: eli turkel <turkel@post.tau.ac.il>
Re: Following the minhagim of the husband

Chana writes

<<Yavetz has a teshuva about women saying she-hechitanu on lighting
candles on yomtov. He personally is against it and she should listen to
the beracha during kiddush. He then concludes that his own wife does make
a beracha and he does not stop her because of shalom bayit.  It is obvious
that his wife followed the customs of her own mother and that was
prefectly acceptable. >> <But this would not seem to be a case of conflict
of the minhag of the husband versus minhag of the wife, but rather of the
husband through his learning reaching a conclusion different from the
prevailing minhag > I don't understand why a psak should be weaker than a
minhag. <<Hence, in regard to private minhagim I think people moving to a
new community kept their old customs.>> <I don't think that is true
historically (the Rosh is an interesting exception) but rather the
opposite, Sephardim moving to Lita for example adopted Lithuanian customs
and davening modes >> I think the key point is that the Rosh is not an
exception. Gedolim throughout the generations have changed, for
themselves, local customs that were accepted for generations based on
their own logic. Perhaps the most famous case if the Gra. R. Chaim
Soloveitchik did not wear tefillin on chol hamoed although the Ramah was
accepted in Lita because he was convinced that was right. His grandson
RYBS has changed parts of the tefilla for his own minyan. In particular
they use the sefard version of the avodah on yom kippur. R. Moshe
Feinstein has a teshuva about sitting for havdalah and concludes that he
hopes that all his talmidim will keep this minhag. So he clearly felt they
should give up their family customs and follow his psak. There is the
story that the kallah of R. Moshe Soloveitchik received a letter from her
future father-in-law R. Chaim that she need not fast on the day of her
wedding as in Brisk they did not fast on most fast days. She answered that
she follows the minhag of her father to fast. Though this was before she
got married I imagine she continued afterwards (BTW her son RYBS gave up
the Brisk minhag saying that modern nutrition allows one to keep all the
fasts without harm). In conclusion while I agree with Chana that sefardim
who moved to Eastern Europe changed their mode of tefilla I strongly
suspect they most of them kept private sefardi minahim in their home. Of
course over the generations these private minhagim faded. Interestingly,
while the Rosh and the Tur kept many ashkenazi minhagim in spain their are
indications that later generations became completely sefardi in their
customs. Hence, even according to RMF I see nothing wrong with a married
woman keeping her previous private customs. I think that RMF psak
is being extended to areas he did not mean.

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Date: Wed, 8 Sep 2004 10:58:13 -0700 (PDT)
From: HG Schild <hgschild@yahoo.com>
Rosh Hashanah at the End of the Year

Someone asked me this question which I also heard posed on a
tape. Logically, judgement and forgiveness for sins etc for a year
would seem to be better placed at the end of that year rather than in
the accounting for the upcoming year. Does anyone bring this svara that
Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur should be at the close of the year rather
than at the beginning of the next one?

HG Schild

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Date: Wed, 08 Sep 2004 00:18:42 +0300
From: Zoo Torah <zoorabbi@zootorah.com>
RE: Non-literal explanations of Torah

RYGB wrote:
>Sorry, I'm not getting this here. The Spero school is of the opinion that
>entire episodes - not just specific aspects - that the Torah depicts
>as historical - with times, dates, the works - can be allegorized,
>and that this may be done at will to resolve conflicts between science
>and Torah. We understand you to be an adherent of the Spero school -
>you see precedent in the Ralbag?!

As a study of the Avodah archives will show, I wasn't citing the Ralbag
as precedent for allegorizing the Mabul, which was not the topic
of conversation at any time. I was citing it to refute your blanket
statement that to allegorize the Torah is unacceptable, which is what
we were discussing - whether allegory is *ever* acceptable. I think it
refutes it, no?

Kol tuv
Nosson Slifkin

Go to top.

Date: Wed, 08 Sep 2004 14:20:53 -0400
From: "Yosef Gavriel & Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <rygb@aishdas.org>
RE: Age of the Universe

At 05:13 PM 9/7/2004, [RNS] wrote:
>RYGB tells us that he reconciles the billions of years with the Torah
>via previous cycles of history. I would appreciate some elaboration,
>as I have always found this explanation difficult to understand. When
>did the events of the six days of Bereishis occur in relation to the
>billions of years? Was the sun created 5764 years ago (as the Torah
>refers to the current cycle), or 4.5 billion years ago? Were plants
>created 5764 years ago, or 500 million years ago?

Bereishis 1:1 alludes to the pre-existing creation; the following pesukim 
describe the re-creation at the beginning of this cycle.

[Email #2. -mi]

At 07:25 PM 9/7/2004, [RMShinnar] wrote:
>While RYGB is free to disagree with all these positions - to suggest
>that there is no substantive sources who disagree with him is quite
>problematic, and can't be dismissed that kvodam bimkomo munach. I would
>suggest that it is far harder to bring substantive sources who actually
>agree with his understanding of the rambam - even though there are
>clearly substantive sources who are against allegory, few denied the
>rambam's use of it.

We've been down this road before. Ha'me'ayein yivchar. I repeat: No
reputable source allows for a chronicle in Tanach to be dismissed as
the Spero school does.


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