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Volume 13 : Number 100

Sunday, September 12 2004

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Sun, 12 Sep 2004 01:51:39 +0200
From: Daniel Eidensohn <yadmoshe@012.net.il>
Re: Following the minhagim of the husband

Chana Luntz wrote:
>Given that the specific point I referred to vis a vis the RMF and ROY
>psak was changing the nusach of tefilla, I do not see on what basis you
>can state that:

>>I think that RMF psak is being extended to areas he did not mean.

To reinforce this comment, my mechutan told me that Rav Moshe Feinstein
told him that a women who insisted on keeping her nusach - which is
different than her husband's - her prayers are not accepted. On the
other hand I was also told by a close talmid of R' Eliyashiv that R'
Eliyahsiv see nothing wrong with women retaining their original nusach.

Daniel Eidensohn

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Date: Sat, 11 Sep 2004 21:56:48 -0400
From: "Yosef Gavriel & Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <rygb@aishdas.org>
Re: Age of the Universe/ Non-literal explanations

At 03:37 PM 9/11/2004, you wrote:
>First, while I accept what I have heard from people widely considered as
>talmidei chachamim, that allegorization of the mabul is within acceptable
>Torah opinion, I do not believe that this is necessarily the only viable

Kol od you do not reject it as a non-viable solution it means that you
have an affinity with the Spero School I doubt Rabbi Spero asserts that
his approach is the "only" viable approach.

>Second, my rejection of the literal order of Maase Bereishis came way
>before I had even begun thinking about the mabul.

Sofo hochiach al techilaso.

>Third, many people who reject allegorizing the mabul nevertheless accept
>allegorizing aspects of maase Bereishis, which is a much more limited

I do not see a nafka mina. That is, if we are defining allegory the same
way - viz., the Torah's description has nothing to do with the Beri'ah
but with some moral or ethical (etc.) teaching that is reflected in
this parable.

>Fourth, referring to the approach of allegory as "the Spero school" is
>to characterize it by its most extreme adherents, which is appallingly
>misleading; it would be comparable to characterizing RYGB's literal
>approach as "the Sadducee school."

Don't agree, but cute.

>Fifth, the specific reference by RYGB to the Spero school that we are
>discussing came in response to my citation of the Ralbag, which was
>not being cited to justify allegorizing the order of Bereishis (and
>certainly not the mabul), merely to refute RYGB's position that there
>are no substantive sources that permit allegory.

I apologize for not making the reference earlier :-)

>So I repeat that for RYGB to respond to my citation of Ralbag by saying
>that this does not justify the approach of the Spero school is a wholly
>inappropriate response that blurs the topic under discussion and has false
>(and perhaps derogatory) innuendo. We are not talking about my global
>approach, my approach to the Mabul taken after I developed an approach
>to maase Bereishis, or my approach to the identity of the nesher. If RYGB
>wishes to discuss these things, we can do so in a separate discussion. We
>are only talking about the existence of substantive sources that permit
>allegory with respect to my position on the six days.

So far we have *none*. The Ralbag refers to Gan Eden.

>RYGB then writes:
> >The point is: The episode with the nachash occurred - the nachash in
> >this case being the yetzer ho'ra, etc. I think the Ralbag is wrong and
> >has no right to say what he says, but it is a far cry from taking
> >aspects of an episode allegorically to unilaterally declaring that the
> >order of Ma'aseh Bereishis is some (hithertoo unkown!) allegory because
> >of the credence given to the fossil record.

>Actually Ralbag states that entire episode with the nachash did not
>occur in the literal sense - not just the nature of the snake itself,
>but also the conversations, the Tree of Knowledge, the eating of the
>fruit, etc. This is not merely aspects - this is the majority of the
>episode. The only thing that he takes as literal is that there is a lush
>area that is a representation of Gan Eden.

What about Adam, Chava and the cheit?

>RYGB may feel that this is still different from saying that the order of
>maase Bereishis is allegorical, although I think Ralbag is going much
>further with Gan Eden than I do with the six days. However the point
>under discussion (I will cite the previous posts if necessary, but I
>would rather not bore everyone with it again) is whether there is *any*
>precedent for allegory. RYGB earlier stated that there are no substantive
>sources for allegory and it is unacceptable. I cited the Ralbag to refute
>this view, but it seems that RYGB nevertheless dismisses this because
>Ralbag's view is unnacceptable (this seems to be somewhat circular to
>me - there are no acceptable sources because sources that say such thing
>become ipso facto unnacceptable).

No, besides not accepting the Ralbag I also noted that the Ralbag's
allegorization (I think, actually, the better term is "abstraction,"
which highlights the difference between the Ralbag and Rabbi Slifkin's

>I also want to point out again that it is not just a matter of the fossil
>record. In Bereishis, the sun was made (or put in place or whatever)
>*after* plants appear. According to modern science, the sun appeared
>about four BILLION years *before* the first plants.

That you find difficult? The answer is "ah efehner" Rashi! Bereishis
2:5 d.h. V'kol eisev.

>I'm not sure what RYGB means by saying that R' Nadel is not a demonstrable
>link in the chain of mesorah and what the significance of that is. Rav
>Nadel gives a view of Torah and mesorah that is different to that of
>RYGB. RYGB may feel that Rav Nadel was not following the mesorah, but
>Rav Nadel felt that he was - he felt that the mesorah was as to the
>principles, not as to the application. With all due respect to RYGB
>shlita who is known as a talmid chacham of standing, Rav Nadel z"l was
>certainly of much greater authority.

No one in our dor has ex-cathedra authority. To be part of the mesorah
requires a demonstrable link to Chazal, Rishonim or Gedolei HoAcharonim.
Hence, any assertion by Rabbi Nadel without such support is not
necessarily acceptable.

>I do not accept that Ralbag only has validity if backed up by Chazal,
>and Ralbag apparently didn't think so either. Rav Nadel's position
>is that Rambam (and, by the same token, Ralbag) give us a license to
>allegorize when there is necessary cause, such as overwhelming scientific
>evidence. My specific allegory in my sefer has haskamos from Rav Aryeh
>Carmell, Rav Sholom Kamenetzky, and Rav Mordechai Kornfeld, shlita.

Ba'zman ha'zeh, haskamos rarely speak to the intricacies of the book's 

There is no doubt in my mind that many Rishonim felt they were not
meshu'abad in matters of pshat to Chazal (although REED in vol. 4, IIRC
in the same piece about lice says otherwise). But they did not change
pshat to allegory.

>The topic under discussion is whether there are substantive sources that
>permit allegory.

>My position is that there are several sources that permit allegory -
>Rav Saadia Gaon, Rambam - as explained by Ralbag, Abarbanel, Efodi,
>and Rav Kapach, and Ralbag. (Amongst later sources, I would add Rav
>Hirsch and Rav Nadel, but this is still under discussion - I did not
>yet mention the source in Rav Hirsch).

>RYGB's position is that there are no substantive sources that permit
>allegory. He disputes my understanding of Rav Saadia Gaon, and the
>understanding of Rambam given by Ralbag, Abarbanel, Efodi, and Rav Kapach.
>As for Ralbag himself, RYGB feels that he had no right to allegorize
>and one may not take him as precedent for doing so.

Agreed, except for the last line, which I would rewrite:

As for the Ralbag, RYGB feels he had no right to abstract (in the absence
of a source in Chazal) and that in any event one may not take him as
precedent for allegorization.


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Date: Sat, 11 Sep 2004 23:05:40 -0400
From: Gil Student <gil.student@gmail.com>
RE: Age of the Universe

It seems to me that from the discussion on Rosh Hashanah 31a of the
shir shel yom for each day that the assumption is that each day of
Creation actually happened on that day of the week
(<http://www.e-daf.com/daf.asp?mesechta=9&daf=31a>). According to
Schroeder et al., that from at least one perspective it actually did,
nicha. But according to RA Kaplan, it doesn't really work that way and
you have to kvetch your way out of that Gemara. It can be done, but
not smoothly.

Gil Student

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Date: Sun, 12 Sep 2004 01:03:00 -0400
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Age of the Universe

On Sat, Sep 11, 2004 at 11:05:40PM -0400, Gil Student wrote:
: It seems to me that from the discussion on Rosh Hashanah 31a of the
: shir shel yom for each day that the assumption is that each day of
: Creation actually happened on that day of the week. According to
: Schroeder et al., that from at least one perspective it actually did,
: nicha. But according to RA Kaplan, it doesn't really work that way and
: you have to kvetch your way out of that Gemara. It can be done, but
: not smoothly.

This problem exists even without referring to the gemara.

RAK invokes RYmA to insert time before the 6 days. He then identifies
this time with the time science requires. But that places the yetzirah
of objects ahead of day one! The Ramban (and therefore presumably RYmA)
would not set the formation of currently existing tzurah before the 6
days, that being the definition of the pereq.

According to REED, the Ramban holds that time during the 6 days was
totally unlike the linear progression we now know. That the 6 days and
the subsequent 6 millenia don't merely correspond to each other but are
actually one and the same. The Ramban therefore speaks of six literal
days, but we have no idea what that means or how to scientifically
interpret experimental evidence from that period. Or even if, from within
time as we currently experience it, the six days aren't also identical
to the time before them. (Thus allowing for RAK.)

WADR to RZL, who understands both the Ramban and REED as insisting on
a literal 6 days with no room for kevetching, I don't see how this is
possible. REED compares our understanding of how the 6 days were days to
the understanding of sight by a blind man after being given description
by comparison to touch and sound. And then he explicitly quotes the
Ramban as a raya'ah that those days are the same as these millenia,
in a manner we're too blind to understand.

So, far from a literal understanding of bereishis, he asserts the
history is incomprehensible. It is to be read literally, but there is
no understanding on a historical level. REED directs you to trying to
understand on a spherotic one instead, that being a more producting
level of explanation.

I trust REED's understanding of the Ramban's shitah far more than RZL's.
In addition, RZL writes:
: The Ramban, too, explains what aspect of Maaseh B'raishis he considers
: "unfathomable" through the p'sukim. It's not any reinterpretation of "six
: days."...

No one said the Ramban reinterpreted the six days, but that he inserted
time between beri'ah and the current yetzirah. Which would fit his peirush
as well as eliminate any reason to assume an undocumented machloqes with
his student.

:                          nnecessary. "For," states Ramban, (specifically
: in reference to Creation, which he declares to be shoresh ha'emunah,
: in opposition to the idea of an olom kadmon) "it would be sufficient
: to state that Hashem created the world..." and Ramban does not end his
: sentence there. He writes, "It would be sufficient to state that Hashem
: created the world in six days. There is no need, he explains, to give the
: details of "what was created the first day, and what was made/perfected
: the second day, nor to elaborate, as the Torah does, on Adam and Eve
: and their sin and punishment and Gan Eden and their banishment from
: it." Why not? Because all of these things cannot be fully understood
: from the p'sukim. Not because the section on Creation took place over
: any other time than that which is stated: six days. "It is sufficient
: for Torah-people," says Ramban, "without these verses. They will (know
: to) believe in the general idea, (when it is) mentioned in the Asseress
: HaDibros, 'For six days Hashem created the Heavens and the Earth..."

Similarly, I do not understand how RZL understands the Maharal.
: The Maharal, (Gevuros Hashem, Hakdama Rishonah), like the Rambam,
: is bothered by the concept of Ex Nihilo....

Not quite. While yes, the Maharal uses the incomprehensibility of yeish
mei'ayin as an *example* of the general incomprehensibility of ma'aseh
bereishis, he refers to ma'aseh bereishis as a whole, the subject of
the mishnah which warns "ein doreshin". In fact, his understanding of
yesod arayos -- which is also ein doreshin, and therefore we can not
fully comprehend -- to be about how the created items are supposed to
interact and not interact, which he associates with the end of the last
day of beri'ah. So, far from incomprehensibility of how the world came
to be being about yeish mei'ayin alone, it reaches well beyond ma'aseh

(BTW, I just realized something: perhaps the Maharal is tying in yesod
arayos to Friday night for reasons related to the human manifestation
of that yesod...)

Now, on to the Rambam:
: On the contrary, the Rambam says, specifically regarding ma'aseh
: b'raishis, that unless absolutely forced to say otherwise by clear proofs,
: we should follow the pashtus ha'kra...

I agree with RZL about the Rambam, but only because we agree that another
philosophically sound answer to the scientific evidence exists. However,
to those who believe it does not, the Rambam WOULD permit them to take
ma'aseh bereishis figuratively.

I (unlike RMShinnar) understand the Rambam to permit this because
he believes that Chazal allowed for the possibility. That since such
allegorization, in the case of ma'aseh bereishis, does not go against
the clear word of "our prophets and sages", it would be permissable in
this case.

According to my understanding of the Rambam, this criterion is a statement
that he saw allegorization of ma'aseh bereishis implied in ma'amarei

The alternative, that the Rambam gives blanket reshus for allegorization
in the face of overwhelming philsophical argument (which I can't see in
his words at all), would probably be even less palatable to RZL.

: First, a Gemora:
: Chagiga 12a:
: Said Rav Yehudah in the name of Rav: Ten things were CREATED ON THE FIRST
: DAY: Heaven and Earth, TOHU VA-VOHU, Light and Darkness, Ruach and Mayyim,
: MIDDASS YOM AND MIDDAS LAYLA. (I.e., "tohu va-vohu" did not precede Day
: One, but were part of it. And how long was day one?--)

: Rashi: MIDDASS YOM AND MIDDAS LAYLA--The length of day and the length
: of night: 24 HOURS COMBINED.

Yes, Rashi was a literalist. Although that doesn't eliminate Schroeder's
approach (see below), he was why I said "rov" rather than "all". Rashi
is the only clear literalist amongst the rishonim I've seen.

But aside from Rashi's explicit statement, any reference to yemei
bereishis obviously means the word "yemei" the same way the Torah
does, and can't be used to show that either they or the Torah meant it
literally. So, the Torah Temimah, Rabbeiny Bechaya, etc... don't really
tell us anything.

In another bit of his post that I do not comprehend, RZL quotes a
number of rishonim that understand 1:1 as being a haqdamah rather than
a separate event. Nu? So there's a machloqes the Abarbanel and the
Ramban as to whether 1:1 refers to a previous beri'ah. What does that
have to do with taking a non-literal approach to the 6 days?

: Notice how all the meforshim speak plainly, if not pointedly, of six days
: in a natural sense....

First, not all of your quoted rishonim speak of 6 days at all at or
near your quote. Second, it's your own projection that they meant
them in some particular sense. You're presuming your conclusion.

: Rabbaynu Saadia Gaon (Sefer Emunah V'haDeyoss, end of first chapter):
: "And the third opinion, the opinion of the k'sillim... And perhaps one [of
: them] will say, 'How can the intellect accept that THE WORLD HAS EXISTED
: for only 4,693 years?'And we will answer that once we believe that the
: world was created, it is impossible that it had no beginning. Don't you
: see: if we, the created, were in the year 100 from the creation of the
: world, would we be astounded and deny this? All the less should we deny
: [the truth of] this period [of 4,693 years]."

RSG, as RZL later noted, is talking about a finite history vs a
universe that was always there, never created. Not really relevent to
our discussion.

As for the Kuzari, he speaks also in terms of the 6 days, which still
proves nothing, and of the time between Adam haRishon and Moshe Rabbeinu.
Our subject isn't touched.

: The Khazar King:...And what will you say of the philosophers (read:
: scientists--ZL), who, as a result of their careful researches, agree
: that the world is without beginning, and here it does not concern tens
: of thousands, or millions, of years, but something that has no beginning
: at all?
: The Rabbi: The philosophers--we can't blame them. Being Grecians, they
: did not inherit wisdom nor Torah....

But who said R' Yehudah haLevi thought that the Torah contradicts our
equivalent of "Greek wisdom"? Yes, given RZL's assumption that the two
contradict, Riyhal would have us give greater value to mesorah than
our ability to deduce. But since the question before us is whether the
mesorah actually says one thing or another, I again fail to see relevence.

RZL states as part of his closing statement about the alleged universality
of a literal treatment of bereishis aleph:
: It seems to me that Rabbaynu Yehudah HaLevy's more pronounced skepticism
: of current wisdom has been proven by history to be more correct than the
: Rambam's more conciliatory approach. I already noted that even the best
: meforshim get into trouble when (as is of course natural) they explain
: p'sukim using the wisdom of their day as a reference. I find it ironic
: when the Malbim rejects Abarbanel's explanation of "shammayim"--because
: it is based on the old view of a calestial sphere revolving around
: the earth--only to replace it with the "modern," "now we know" "fact"
: of... ether!

Thus siding with RAM, in contrast to RMMS who finds the science a
solid analysis of planted evidence. So even amongst those who call for
a rejection of any scientificly derived conclusions on the subject,
this interpolation into the Rihal's words isn't universally necessary.

There are a number of alternatives given to assuming time began 5765
years and one day ago.

The Maharal and REED speak of the six days being incomprehensible.

RYmA speaks of time before the 6 days -- that is part of this world.

If both are correct and explaining the Ramban, then the Ramban wouldn't
set the same starting point for time as RAvigdorM or RMMS for both

Schroeder believes in six literal days, but invokes modern ideas about
how relative time is. Thus, he says they're both right. His peshat
in bereishis 1 doesn't say anything Rashi didn't say. He just invokes
relativity to farenfer scientific dating. The only thing he could use
a maqor for is his counting dinosaurs as birds (which are the closest
descendent to them) even though they didn't start out flying.

The Rambam allows for allegorization of bereishis 1 -- if one feels the
philosophy (which in his terminology would include "natural philosophy",
what we today call science) is muchrach. And, as I understand the Rambam,
he states that this is because Chazal entertained the possibility of its
allegorization. Thus implying some maqor in Chazal exists, although he
doesn't cite what it is. (Perhaps the Maharal's mishnah?)


Micha Berger             Here is the test to find whether your mission
micha@aishdas.org        on Earth is finished:
http://www.aishdas.org   if you're alive, it isn't.
Fax: (270) 514-1507                        - Richard Bach

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Date: Sat, 11 Sep 2004 23:01:00 -0400
From: Gil Student <gil.student@gmail.com>
Re: Calendar

Gershon Dubin wrote:
>I believe it was Rabbi Reisman (quoting someone?) who said that 
>this is the reason we write "leminyan she'anu monim" since the 
>way we count is dependent on minhag.

The Rashbatz in a teshuvah (3:301) beat R. Reisman to this explanation.
For a full explanation of the issues, see She'arim Metzuyanim BaHalachah
to AZ 9b.

Gil Student

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Date: Sat, 11 Sep 2004 23:09:45 -0400
From: Gil Student <gil.student@gmail.com>
Re: halcha vs agada

RD Eidensohn wrote:
>I think your reading is forced and the rishonim did in fact 
>*reject* views of Chazal that they felt were wrong.

Yes, the Ramban writes that explicitly in his vikuach. RD Chavel there
quotes other sources, including a Shiltei Giborim in the first perek of
AZ. But also see the Sdei Chemed he cites in which acharonim struggle
with this concept. It seems to me, though, that the rishonim had no
such struggle.

Gil Student

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Date: Sun, 12 Sep 2004 05:11:20 -0400
From: "MYG" <mslatfatf@access4less.net>
Re: Torah as Allegory

I want to share my feelings about this Torah as Allegory issue.
Additionally, I would like to address the antipathy I've seen to the R'
Avigdor Miller Mehalech (RAMM). Here goes...


Many people as they grow up, mainly in their teen years, are confronted
with the classic questions that we've all thought about: Where did I
come from? Where did the world come from? What was before the world?
What happens after I die?

Jews, Orthodox ones specifically, have more questions: What is Hashem?
Who made Hashem? Is the Torah true? Will Moshiach come? What is Olam
Haba? Do I have to worry about S'char v'onesh? How do I deal with the
hypocrisy of the world?

In my opinion, generally, the way a teenager deals with these questions
will have an impact in the following ways:

a) The teenager cannot figure out the answers, and either rebels or
"hangs in there" hoping to find answers later on. In either case, later
on in life, this former teenager can be convinced of the validity of the
Torah Mehalech, because he has not solidified his views on these subjects.

b) The teenager does figure out answers. I don't say THE answers, because
nobody knows The answers. However, the answers that he has may or may
not be consistent with the Torah Mehalech.

I contend that the first time our hypothetical teenager finds answers
to his questions that he is comfortable with, the views this teenager
has will remain the basis for his hashkafas hachayim for the rest of
his life, and 99% of the time will be almost unchangeable.

Now, what happens if the views our hypothetical teenager has developed
are generally in line with the mehalech of the Torah? He's lucky, in
that he will have a life generally free of internal religious conflict.


Many people find fault with R' Avigdor Miller's Mehalech (RAMM). They
claim that it is an unscientific, unbalanced look at a world he was
unfamiliar with. They claim that he made errors of fact, and that in many
cases his "proofs" are based upon marginal views, not representative of
current scientific thought. Many frum scientists today, disagree with
RAMM, and feel that it is an incorrect one.

Nevertheless, R' Avigdor Miller's works are still in high demand, and his
tapes are listened to all over the world! His followers have an almost
fanatical regard for his words, and there are more of them everyday. How
do we reconcile the stature of R' Avigdor Miller with his works? How do we
understand RAMM's following in the face of much evidence to the contrary?

I would suggest that R' Avigdor Miller's followers have the following
common denomenator: He got there first. Whether in one's teenage years,
or later on in life, RAMM took hold because there was no other mehalech
available that answered all the questions in a nonapologetic, vigorous
way. When later on, one of these followers of RAMM may come upon one
of the other mehalchim out there, (such as RNS's, for example) it is
thoroughly vetted by the concepts already accepted as truth that are
established in his mind. It seems, that every other mehalech would not be
accepted by an adherant of RAMM, because the fundamentals of every other
mehalech are at odds with RAMM's fundamentals. To one who already accepted
RAMM as true, there would be an enormous amount of cognitive dissonance
produced, trying, for example, to accept any sort of evolutionary process,
or any redating of the universe.

Possibly, RAMM is - to a certain type of seeker - unsophisticated to
the point of unacceptance. In such a case, the person will hopefully
continue his search until he finds a mehalech that is consistent with
his intellectual makeup.


The previous two sections lead us to ask: Is there something wrong with
having a mehalech hachayim that may be fundamentally wrong, and yet
consistent with the Torah Mehalech as expressed by one of the leaders
of merican Orthodox Jewry?

To answer this I would like to coin a phrase: Informed ignorance
(henceforth, II). That is, knowing that what one believe's in is
incorrect, and making a value judgement to continue to believe in it
anyway. (This is not cult-like behavior - the decision is not made
for him.)

I believe that those who espouse RAMM, when pressed into a corner, may
admit to problems with their mehalech. On the other hand, it is so much
easier to deal with RAMM than it is to deal with the religioscientific
establishment's mehalech, they will continue to believe in RAMM.
At first glance this seems a bit hypocritical. I think that we can look
at it differently. To the layman, it would take years of work to deal
with all the evidence that is necessary to judge the validity of any
religioscientific mehalech. For one thing, one would have to become
conversant in quite a few scientific disciplines. Another thing, he
would have to figure out how to reconcile any mehalech with the pesukim
of TANACH, Gemara, and the words of Chazal to this day. He would have
to be a scholar, philosopher, researcher and scientist, all rolled into
one. Presumably, he would also have to deal with all the demands of
day-to-day living at the same time. There are very few yechidei segulah
who are capable of this. (Of course, we may have some here on Avodah
:-) .)

Some might feel that intellectual honesty requires them to trod that
path. Others may feel that there may be another way to deal with this.

Their reasoning would go like this: The Torah requires me to believe
in Hashem. The Torah requires me to believe in its' truth. The Torah
requires me to believe in Mashiach. I do. Does it matter if I cannot
defend my beliefs? Does it matter if my beliefs are based upon erroneous
foundations? The Torah requires me to believe; I do. I personally am not
bothered by these questions - because I want to believe! With RAMM, I can
believe, and thus fulfill my obligations in avodas Hashem. Thus, informed
ignorance. II not as a cop-out - but as an act of religious expression.

(I am reminded of a quote: "Brainwashing is okay - as long as you use
kosher soap." - R' Shaya Cohen of Priority-1, in a public forum.)


This brings us to the topic of Torah as an allegory. It is much easier
to take anything at face value. To one who believes the Torah is true,
it is fundamentally difficult to wrap one's mind around the concept that
it may not be literal. Imagine - if I give you a duck - it looks like a
duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck - and I tell you it is
actually a rare Nigerian species of chicken. I may eventually be able
to prove it to your satisfaction, however, until then, my instinct will
be reject your "clearly" false statement.

Similarly, to someone who is convinced the Torah is literally true,
it is difficult to come to terms with concepts such as a 16 billion
year old world, or that Adam wasn't formed from the ground. Thus,
most of us are "programmed" to accept RAMM much more easily than a
religioscientific mehalech. Coupled with the difficulties in evaluating
any religioscientific theory (as discussed in the previous section) the
result is many, many adherents of RAMM, and a rejection of allegorical
interpretations of the the Torah, that are not already mentioned by
"mainstream" Chazal.

So, to conclude: RAMM may very well be an act of II, and rather than
condescending to such a mehalech, perhaps we can respect it as a genuine
effort of Avodas Hashem and Chizuk Ha'emunah - both of which are hard
to do in these difficult days.

I hope I made myself reasonably clear. RNS and RYGB, I think that this
just about sums up my personal feeling of not being bothered by the
questions that bother both of you - which you answer in completely
different ways - and why it took me a while to understand why this
discussion was taking place. RHM, although I was planning to write this
for a while, it was your recent post that spurred me to do it now. You
wrote: "So, I find myself in a theologically untenable situation. I cannot
believe as does RZL that the world was created to look old and that all
evidence proving an old universe is then just swept away. I cannot believe
that God would fool us in this way. OTOH neither can I accept the approach
that we can simply wash away any Torah narrative that is challlenged
by new scientific discovery, because of the slippery slope argument of
ultimately needing to allegorize the entirety of the Torah narrative."

I don't care whether the world was created to look old or not. I don't
care if science conflicts with my view of the world, or with the literal
interpretation of the Torah. I'll take the Torah at face value. I'm
not going to lose sleep about fossils and strata, about numbers higher
than 5764, or about the possibility of my ancestors being apes. I have
my beliefs, I recognize the problems in the arguments supporting them,
and I don't care - because my raison d'etre is based upon the beliefs -
which I have.

To my mind, informed ignorance is best.

K'siva v'chasima tova, and ah gut yohr to all Avodites, and gantz k'lal
Moshe Yehuda Gluck

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Date: Sun, 12 Sep 2004 08:57:28 +0200
From: Arie Folger <afolger@aishdas.org>
Re: Torah and science

RSMashbaum wrote:
> Mazal tov and much nachat to new zaide Gershon Dubin
> <gershon.dubin@juno.com> who wrote (about my posting on molad v"yd and
> molad b"hrd):
>> I believe it was Rabbi Reisman (quoting someone?) who said that this is
>> the reason we write "leminyan she'anu monim" since the way we count is
>> dependent on minhag.

First: I second the mazel tov.

2: sorry for all the sim'hot I missed and for which I didn't wish the ba'al 
sim'hah well, something I am usually do.

3: the source is Rav Shimon Schwab in his famous chronology essay

4: while I have neither the time nor desire to significantly contribute to
this Torah and science thread (personally, I find most of it boils down
to philosophy, not science. The mabul is a much more difficult episode,
as I posted last year on that topic), I wish to point out that I find the
arguments based on when we count the molad from and what year we are in
according to Seder Olam to be the least convincing of arguments, because:

A: we have the well known Babylonian/Persian gap, on which Rav Azariah
di Rossi started a thread 500 years ago, a thread Rav Shimon Schwab
picked up approvingly in his Jewish Chronology essay. I did some desk
research on the archaeological and contemporary literature record, and
the evidence *seems* (I didn't yet reach a firm conclusion) solid. Thus,
the year count may be off anyway.

B: even without the gap, such accredited authorities like Ramban claimed
that we definitely spent more than 210 years in Egypt. His preferred
number is close to 240 years, again showing that our calendar year count
may be off by quite some years, and it didn't bother him.

Considering the pressures of this period, I will go back to lurking.

One concluding statement: Avodah has had more worthwhile content in
the last two weeks than in many cybereons. I often clip Avodah posts
and keep them in a database, to save the most important contributions,
so as to make it easier to prepare shiurim on certain topics. I hope
one day to post this on Aishdas. I have had to keep almost the entire
digests #94-96 and more. Keep up the good work.

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: Sun, 12 Sep 2004 03:04:17 EDT
From: T613K@aol.com
Re: Non-literal explanations/Gan Eden

In Avodah V13 #98 dated 9/10/2004 4:18:49 PM EDT, Shaya Potter
<spotter@yucs.org> writes:
>>>Nonsense --  there are Rishonim who hold the visit of the 3 malachim ONLY
>>>took  place in a dream. They obviously don't agree that "events must be
>>>taken literally".

>> A prophetic dream is reality. We've been  through this before too.

>then why can't one claim the text of bereishis in regards to creation
>and the mabul (and anything else that seems extraordinary) was just a
>prophetic dream of some sorts? i.e. where's the line b/w "allegory"
>and "prophetic dream"

In the Avraham parshah the pasuk says he was engaged in conversation with
Hashem, and then suddenly these three angels show up. (Rashi comments
it's to show how important the mitzva of hachnasas orchim is--he left
Hashem in the middle of the conversation to go take care of the guests.)
So the context certainly allows for the possibility that the angels
were a vision or dream dreamt by Avraham.

But obviously, wherever anything in the Chumash is a dream--there has
to be a dreamer. If the angels Hagar saw weren't real--then Hagar was
the dreamer at that point. In the case of Yakov and the angels going up
and down the ladder, the pasuk states explicitly that it was a dream.
That tells you it's possible to see angels in dreams, but doesn't
necessitate (nor obviate) the possibility that all angels appear only
in dreams. In the case of Yakov's encounter with the angel who caused
him an actual, physical injury, you'd have to say that was QUITE a dream,
but IIRC the pasuk there never calls the angel a malach but refers to
him as a man. A TOTALLY dreamwork angel could not inflict physical
injury, I'm guessing.

But now to your question. How do we know the whole Torah was not
a dream? Well, who was the dreamer? If Moshe Rabbeinu--what, he was
real and everybody else just a vision? Who did he teach the Torah TO?

Personally I am unmoved by the view that the angels were just visions
or dreams, because it leaves so much of the ensuing narrative in doubt.
To me it seems that they were real, that Avraham served them food, etc.
But then OTOH you have to ask what IS an angel if not a vision?
They have no physical body at all! How is it even possible for
physical humans to interact with angels at all? So at SOME level, the
perception of angels must be more similar to dreaming than to actual
physical seeing.

--Toby  Katz

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