Avodah Mailing List

Volume 13 : Number 103

Tuesday, September 14 2004

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Mon, 13 Sep 2004 16:06:37 -0400
From: "Shinnar, Meir" <Meir.Shinnar@rwjuh.edu>
RE: Age of the Universe

> 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.
In matters that the mesora regarded as normative, yes.
However, I would argue that the above blanket statement is what is
problematic - the statements about the scientific knowledge of hazal
by the rambam etc inherently imply that many statements about metziut
(and the age of the universe, etc is a statement about metziut) can be
made without without a source or link to chazal, rishonim, or gedole
hoacharonim. Their value in a halachic context may be problematic -
but in a hashkafic context, far less so. The link to chazal an the
rishonim by rav nadel and the others is precisely a deeper understanding
of their methodology.

eg, age of the universe - in the Kuzari, RYHL, one of the more
pshat oriented, when asked about the age of the world, based on Hindu
traditions extending beyond 5000 years, said that the problem was that
the traditions were not reliable - but if they were solidly reliable,
we would understand ma'ase breshit differently. THe issue is the value of
the contrary evidence - not the issue of a source in hazal. He also says,
as a matter of principle, that the torah does not require us to believe
anything against our reason. Furthermore, he specifically endorses as
acceptable (even if not preferred) a belief in the eternity of the world -
as long as belief in gan eden.

RYGB prefers to focus on the specific difficulties confronted by the
rishonim - rather than the methodological issues and approaches of
the rishonim - and, as they did not face our difficulties, they don't
specifically address them. Every rishon and acharon cited who disagrees
and does extend a nonpshat approach gets placed outside the mesora -
leaving his list of ba'ale mesora narrow indeed...

Meir Shinnar

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Date: Sun, 12 Sep 2004 10:41:31 -0400
From: "Yosef Gavriel & Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.it.northwestern.edu>
Re: location of Gan Eden

At 04:14 AM 9/12/2004, [RnTK] wrote:
>In  Avodah V13 #99 dated 9/11/2004 RYGB writes:
>> We have a pretty good idea where it *was* - it is in the vicinity of
>> present day Pakistan. The Shu"t Bnei Zion bases his shittah on the
>> Halachic International Dateline (which it seems is the shittah that
>> the Lubavitcher Rebbe championed) on the location of Gan Eden.

>I thought Gan Eden was in present-day Iraq. Four rivers came out of
>Eden: the Pishon, which Rashi identifies as the Nile. The Gichon,
>unidentified. The Chidekel is the Tigris River, and the Peras is
>the Euphrates. Of the three we can identify, none are anywhere near

OK, there's some kookiness in the following article, but strip the
kookiness and it becomes interesting and informative - kinda like Avodah
and Areivim :-)


[If you're skipping, there is more material after this. -mi]

From: http://itis.volta.alessandria.it/episteme/ep7/ep7-eden.htm

Geography and Numerics of Eden, Kharsag
and Paradise: Sumerian and Enochian Sources
Versus the Genesis Tale

(Emilio Spedicato)

Abstract - In two papers [1,2] we have analyzed the geographical data
referring to the Garden of Eden, the place where according to Genesis the
"first" human couple of Adam and Eve was "created". We concluded that
the biblical data were satisfied by identifying the Garden of Eden with
the Hunza valley in northern Pakistan. In this paper we consider the
geographical information in Genesis concerning the place of "creation"
in Sumerian sources and in the books of Enoch. We conclude that such
data are
consistent with our previous identification, extending moreover the
information pertaining to the region around the Hunza valley and providing
a new interpretation of what the mythical underworld might have been. We
end with a review of possible meanings of the "gods" and "creation"
stories, within the catastrophic quantavolutionary view of the evolution of
the solar system and of mankind in the period circa 12.000 BC to circa 700
BC, given by Velikovsky [3], De Grazia [4], De Grazia and Milton [5] and
Ackerman [7,8].

... [60k of material snipped for logistic reasons. -mi]

> [1] E. Spedicato, Eden revisited: geography, numerics and other tales,
> Report DMSIA Miscellanea 1/01, University of Bergamo, 2001 (see also
> Episteme N. 6, Part I, only in Italian)

> [2] E. Spedicato, Eden revisited: geography, numerics and other tales
> (revised version), preprint, 2003

> [3] I. Velikovsky, Worlds in Collision, Doubleday, 1950

> [4] A. De Grazia, Chaos and Creation, an Introduction to Quantavolution
> in Human and Natural History, Metron, Princeton, 1981

> [5] A. De Grazia, Divine Succession, a Science of Gods Old and New,
> Metron, Princeton, 1983

> [6] A. De Grazia and E.R. Milton, Solaria Binaria, Origins and History
> of the Solar System, Metron, Princeton, 1984

> [7] J. Ackerman, Firmament, in
> <http://www.firmament-chaos.com/>www.firmament-chaos.com, 1996

> [8] J. Ackerman, Chaos, in
> <http://www.firmament-chaos.com/>www.firmament-chaos.com, 1996

[Email #2. -mi]

Other interesting GE location sites:


 From list member RZS in an MJ post:

>From: Zev Sero <zev.sero@encodasystems.com>
>Date: Wed, 9 Oct 2002 16:21:24 -0400
>Subject: <http://www.ottmall.com/mj_ht_arch/v37/index.html#VCK>Re: 
>Halachik Date Line

>Dani Wassner <dani@moit.gov.il> wrote:

>> Essentially there are two main opinions observed today. [the Chazon
>> Ish and R Tukachinsky]

>Actually, as I understand it, at the Jerusalem conference in 1942(?)
>where the issue was officially had out, and where the psak was issued
>that the Jews in Japan should keep Yom Kippur like China rather than
>America, the participants were most influenced by the opinion of R David
>Shapiro, in ShuT Bnai Tzion Vol 1 (Jerusalem 5690).  According to this
>opinion, the dateline starts at about 175E at the equator, and curves to
>the east as it approaches the poles.  The genius of this view, at least
>as R Shapiro presented it to the conference, was that it corresponds
>almost exactly to the international dateline, thus providing a halachic
>justification for current practise in every existing community.  It even
>threads itself neatly through the Bering Strait, putting all of Siberia
>on the Asian side and all of Alaska on the American side.  As I
>understand it, the conference decided that since on one side of the Bnai
>Tzion's line, he and the Chazon Ish made up a majority against R
>Tukachinsky, and on the other side he and R Tukachinsky made up a
>majority against the Chazon Ish, they would accept his line as the
>official halachic one.

>Actually, it's a bit more complicated than that, because according to
>the Bnai Tzion the dateline isn't a line but a wide zone covering the
>entire area between 170E and the curving line.  According to him this
>zone has a halachic status of unresolvable safek, just like bein

>His opinion is based on a midrash that the sun was set in the sky at
>9am, Israel Local Time.  He argues that at that moment it must have been
>Wednesday all over the planet, because the Torah calls it Yom Revi'i.
>At that moment, at 170E it was sunset, and at a curving line 4.5+
>degrees east of that it was Tzet Hakochavim; east of that curving line
>it was night, and that must have been Tuesday night rather than
>Wednesday night, or the Torah could not have called it Yom Revi'i.  So
>the dateline must follow that curving line, being the eastern edge of
>the Twilight Zone, when the sun is over the equator, at 80E of Greenwich
>(he brings another midrash indicating that that is the location of the
>physical Gan Eden; at present that spot is under water).

>Zev Sero

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Date: Tue, 14 Sep 2004 14:37:37 -0400 (EDT)
From: "Micha Berger" <micha@aishdas.org>
R' Aqiva and the rock

This email is from R' Zvi Miller, who recently completed a 30 year
edition to translate Or Yisrael. (So far there is only an English-only
copy.) This email is day 20 of a 30 day (Elul) teshuvah program.

I wanted to share R' Yisrael's take on the story of R' Aqiva seeing the
water cut the stone. Based on the impression formed when I was a kid,
I thought R' Aqiva didn't have an observant history before being off the
derekh, and that the story was of R' Aqiva's initial decision to learn,
not at a time afterward. But I recall when learning Or Yisrael that this
made more sense, aside from being more loyal to the literal words.


 ----------------------------- Original Message ------------------------------
Subject: Stepping Stones to Repentance - 20
From:    "The Salant Foundation" <miler23@netvision.net.il>
Date:    Tue, September 14, 2004 3:53 am

L'zecher nishmas Rav Yochanon Motel ben Rav Ephraim and Moras Esther
Leah bas Rav Yehudah Yoseph B"H

Mussar - The Wisdom of Personal Growth


"Chazal state that Rabbi Akiva 'returned' to study. This implies
that Rabbi Akiva had stopped learning Torah because of a problem he
experienced in his studies. His difficulty was that he thought his Torah
study made no impression on his soul and he did not see himself growing
spiritually. At that point, he was convinced that it was hopeless for him
to continue. The example of the water that had carved deep into the stone,
made him realize the flaw in his thinking and his feelings of despair. He
then returned to his studies. The actual process of the altering of the
stone is not discernible to the senses. The scientists explain that the
flow of water makes an impression which is imperceptible to man." (Ohr
Yisrael, Letter Ten, p. 211)

What insight did Rabbi Akiva have from seeing the long term effect of
the water flowing over the rock that so inspired him?

When Rebe Akiva first began to study Torah he expected to experience
rapid change within himself. However, after a short period of study he
realized that he had not changed his character traits, nor did he sense
an awe of Hashem. He assumed that his situation was hopeless and that
he had begun too late in life to be affected by his learning. Therefore
he abandoned his Torah studies in frustration.

However, when he saw the groove that the water had carved into the rock,
he had a life altering insight: Each second and every word of Torah
learned makes an imperceptible subconscious impression. Just as the
water running over the rock is not expected to make an instantaneous
deep groove, so too the learning of Torah does not render instantaneous
healing of the soul.

However, the continuous study of Torah over time will bring about
a thorough healing of the soul. Every word of Torah that one learns
makes a subconscious impression. With each Mussar session, more and
more impressions are made in the heart. Ultimately, these impressions
accumulate and render a change in nature. The soul is healed, and the
subject is transformed to a "different" person.

Therefore, we should be greatly encouraged and inspired that there is
an easy treatment that we can apply on a regular basis which results in
dramatic spiritual development. In the next segment we will illustrate
how the procedure of this method engenders transformation.

Implementation: Consider that just as the insight of the water changing
the rock inspired Rabbi Akiva to attain the ultimate levels of Torah
and holiness, it can inspire you to great spiritual attainment as well.

Shalom Chevrah,
The Salant Foundation sends Stepping Stones to Repentance free of
charge. Many people have inquired about sponsorship opportunities towards
the program. Therefore, we are suggesting a donation of $18 to cover
operation costs. Checks should be made out to:
The Salant Foundation, 1330 NE 172 St, North Miami Beach, Fla., 33162.

Thank you for your consideration!
The Salant Foundation

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Date: Tue, 14 Sep 2004 06:24:51 -0700 (PDT)
From: Hakhel Bulletin <hakhelusa@yahoo.com>
Unformatted for the aishdas list


Reviewed by HaRav Yisroel Belsky, Shlita
Special Edition - Elul 5764

This year, haba oleinu l'tovah, we B'EH will be making an Eruv
Tavshilin before (1) Rosh Hashana, (2) Sukkos, and (3) Shemini Atzeres.
We accordingly provide the following:


1. The Ramo (Orach Chayim 527:1) explains that an Eruv Tavshilin works
by the "eruv" (mixing or combining) of food that was cooked and baked
on Erev Yom Tov for Shabbos with food cooked or baked for Shabbos on
Yom Tov itself, when Yom Tov falls on Erev Shabbos.

2. On Erev Yom Tov, one must take one cooked food, with a minimum shiur
of a k'zayis, and pas (bread) with a minimum shiur of a k'beyah (egg --
2-3 ounces) (Orach Chayim 527:2). The Mishne Berurah (Orach Chayim 527,
seif katon 8) writes that it is a hiddur mitzvah to use a Lechem Sholem (a
whole challah) and a piece of meat or choshuv fish (not herring, because
it is not cooked -- Mishne Berurah, seif katon 13). If not meat or fish,
the cooked item must at the very least be an item which is eaten with
bread, such as an egg. If using an egg, it should be unpeeled as there
is danger in leaving an egg unpeeled overnight. Items not usually eaten
with bread, such as cooked cereal, "arbis" (chick peas) or the like
cannot be used. The Mishne Berurah (seif katon 11) brings the Maharil
who would place the meat on a dish and not directly on the bread, as
the bread would become ma'us (not palatable).

3. It is l'chatchila a mitzva min hamuvhcar to cook the item l'shem Eruv
(for the sake of the Eruv) (Biur Halacha, dibur hamaschil "Adashim"). This
item should l'chatchila be cooked on Erev Yom Tov, and not before then
(Biur Halacha, dibur hamaschil "L'chatchila"). B'dieved the Eruv is kosher
even if not cooked l'shem Eruv, and even if not cooked on Erev Yom Tov.

4. Your Eruv includes the members of your household (Mishne Berurah,
seif katon 56). If you wish to be mezakeh for others in the community,
it is preferable that a third party (not a member of your household)
be zoche for them by picking up the Eruv the minimum height of a tefach
(3-4 inches) (Orach Chayim 527:11). The Baal Habayis then takes the Eruv
back and makes the brocha of Al Mitzvas Eruv.

5. The Eruv should preferably be held in the right hand when making the
brocha (Orach Chayim 206:4). Immediately after making the brocha, recite
the "Badein Yehei Shoro", which explains what the Eruv accomplishes
(Orach Chayim 527:12). If one does not understand the Aramaic, he must
recite the translation in the language he understands (Mishne Berurah,
seif katon 40).

6. A hotel guest who is being served meals, or extended family staying
over for Yom Tov, can rely on the Baal Habayis' Eruv.

7. The Eruv permits melacha to be done for Shabbos only on Erev Shabbos,
and not on Thursday (the first day of Yom Tov this year) for Shabbos
(Orach Chayim 527:13).

8. If one forgot to make an Eruv Tavshilin, he must consult his Rav
as to what he should do, as these halachos are complex (Orach Chayim
527:19). This is true even if his wife does not intend to cook or bake
on Yom Tov for Shabbos, for the Eruv Tavshilin also covers borer, candle
lighting and carrying, provided that they are related to food preparation
or food usage (Orach Chayim 527:12). As for utilizing an Eruv Tavshilin
for non-food related purposes, such as carrying a Talis or sefer to shul
for Shabbos, one should consult with his Rav.

9. It is questionable if one makes a brocha over an Eruv if no member of
the household will actually be cooking or baking, even though someone
will be lighting candles or carrying food. One should consult his Rav
(see Igros Moshe, Orach Chayim 5:20:26).

10. If the Eruv has been lost, destroyed or eaten, it may no longer be
relied upon, unless a k'zayis of the cooked food is left (Orach Chayim
527:15). Accordingly, the Eruv should be placed in a secure location,
and refrigerated, if necessary.

11. L'chatchila, one should use the bread of the Eruv as the second
challah for lechem mishne in the first two Shabbos meals, and then eat
the challah of the Eruv at Sholosh Seudos (Mishne Berurah, seif katon
48). The cooked item should similarly be eaten on Shabbos.

- - - - - - - - - - - - -
Hakhel - MIS

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Date: Mon, 13 Sep 2004 22:58:28 EDT
From: Phyllostac@aol.com
Re: (Ashkenazic) nusach of kaddish

From: MPoppers@kayescholer.com
> In Avodah V13 #94, Mordechai replied:
>> If we look through our davening, we will see that Hashem is depicted
>> as 'residing' in shomayim (kivayochol - so to speak)....If elsewhere in
>> davening Hashem is described as being in shomayim, why should there be
>> a deviation from this depiction in kaddish ?

> For another example, see "Alainu" ("...bashomayim mima'al...b'govhai 
> m'romim"); for a counterexample, see "Alainu" (D'vorim 4:39) :-).

I am not that certain that Devorim 4:39 is a counterexample. It can be
understood as 'You should know.....that Hashem is the Elokim - Elokim,
IIRC, means 'baal hakochos kulom' - IOW he is the power - in heaven
and earth - but that doesn't state that he (kivayochol - so to speak)
'resides' on earth. He can 'reside' in shomayim and still be the power
on earth.

Truthfully, I hesitate to get into such matters which are not simple. But
I felt a need to try to point out that there seems to be a solid rationale
and precedent for the nusach we are discussing.

>> in general, most of the time, nusach Ashkenaz is more concise

> Quite true. That said, given that Qaddish d'Rabbanan is a
> relatively-recent phenomenon and that it refers to physical places and
> needs, adding that hKbH is also "avuhon d'ar-a" doesn't seem like too
> great a sin.

Traditionally, I believe the Ashkenazim were quite conservative re
making additions such as the ones under discussion. Various reasons
can be given. I can think of the following
1) If we add something that the miyasdei hanusach didn't include,
that can be seen/interpreted as implying that they missed something
and that we know better than they do. If we believe that those who
composed the nusach so many years ago were much, much greater than us,
as many (if not all) of us do, it seems problematic to assume that they
missed something and that we know better and therefore can feel free to
make changes / additions.
2) Some of the nusach may have been, at least partially, based on
certain amounts of words. If you look in the peirush on tefilloh of the
Rokeach, e.g., IIRC, you will see that the amount of words in various
tefillos are counted and are assumed to have meaning. If you change the
amount of words in a tefilloh by changing the nusach, you may throw it
'out of whack'.
3) Once you open the door to making changes, it can go beyond what
you expected and get out of hand. As an example, IIRC, the Munkatcher
Hassidim, in their siddur include 've'ara' even in the 'tiskabal' section
of the kaddish (not only in kaddish dirabbonon). Presumably they figured
- hey - if it's added in kaddish dirabbanan, why not by tiskabal too ?
After all, it's the same Ribbono shel olom !
4) This may also be related to the question of tzimtzum and how it
is understood.


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Date: Tue, 14 Sep 2004 09:35:19 +0200
From: S Goldstein <goldstin@netvision.net.il>
Re:halacha vs

>You might look at Rav Shlomo Fischer's sefer Beis Yishai chapter 16
>page 112. "Concerning agada we see that Rishonim argued with Chazal and
>all of Rashi and the Ramban are full of examples of this. This is also
>found in the Ohr HaChaim on Bereishis and other places..." page 113
>"...even regarding halacha there are those who hold that it is possible
>to resolve disputes found in the gemora but not to directly argue with
>the gemora. All this depends on what the authorities accepted...However
>in those circumstances where there is no difference in halacha everybody
>agrees that it is possible to disagree with the reasons given in the

Now I have read his shtikel. The last sentence is supported by a Tos Yom
Tov in Nazir 5:5 who says that just like one can explain a passuk not
like Chazal if you don't create any new halachos; so too may one do so
in Mishna. The BY extends this to Gemara. Note that even the BY will NOT
create new halachos. In spite of RGS' Ramban in vikuach (and the hearos
from RChavel) who says that *agada* can be rejected by Rishonim, I still
find zero support for RDE's original claim that a Meiri on Shas can be
understood as rejecting Chazal. The Ramban in vikuach clearly says he
rejects Chazal, I see no reason to interpret a Meiri as rejecting any
further than what he explicitly states. I still feel that to do so is
to distort the words of Rishonim.

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Date: Tue, 14 Sep 2004 11:57:58 +0200
From: Daniel Eidensohn <yadmoshe@012.net.il>
Re: halacha vs agada

S Goldstein wrote:
> Now I have read his shtikel.  The last sentence is supported by a Tos 
> Yom Tov in Nazir 5:5 who says that just like one can explain a passuk 
> not like Chazal if you don't create any new halachos; so too may one 
> do so in Mishna.  The BY extends this to Gemara.  Note that even the 
> BY will NOT create new halachos.  In spite of RGS' Ramban in vikuach 
> (and the hearos from RChavel) who says that *agada* can be rejected by 
> Rishonim, I still find zero support for RDE's original claim that a 
> Meiri on Shas can be understood as rejecting Chazal.  The Ramban in 
> vikuach clearly says he rejects Chazal, I see no reason to interpret a 
> Meiri as rejecting any further than what he explicitly states.  I 
> still feel that to do so is to distort the words of Rishonim.

When the Meiri says that one of two positions found is chazal is correct
and the other is to be rejected as mistaken - that doesn't mean he
is rejecting Chazal but that- he is only rejecting certain views
expressed by Chazal. This is the view of the Rambam, Ramban, R Hai
Gaon, R' Sherira Gaon, R' Shmuel HaNagid, Chasam Sofer, R' Fischer. I
simply don't understand how you can fail to accept the words as they are
written. We are in agreement that rishonim do on occasion reject views
found in chazal. Our disagreement seems to be when the Meiri says in fact
"ain mazel l'Yisroel" and "don't pay any attention to the opposing view" -
is he rejecting the opposing view.

Daniel Eidensohn

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Date: Tue, 14 Sep 2004 10:10:43 EDT
From: RabbiRichWolpoe@aol.com
Re: Psak for hashkafa

In a message dated 9/2/2004 10:23:22 AM EDT, gil.student@gmail.com writes:
> As to the Rambam, and this is a point I make in my essay (thank you Micha
> for the mention and the link), the fact that he lists 13 fundamental
> principles that all Jews are required to believe and then, on the next
> Mishnah and on what must have been the very same page, states that
> in matters that have no practical ramifications there is no deciding
> between opinions. ... The 13 fundamental principles have practical
> ramifications (who is a kofer and what is kefirah?) and therefore there
> is a need to decide among beliefs. Regarding other issues, that have no
> practical ramifications, there is no need - and therefore no process to
> - decide among beliefs. As I have always understood it, the 13 ikkarim
> judge who is outside the pale as oposed to who is in the pale. Remember
> Yisrael af al pi shechata Yisrael hu, but if a jw is oved a"z or is
> mechalle shabbes he crosses a line and loses his "privliges" as Jew

Simlarly I think the Rambam's ikkarim outlines which emunos cross the
line and enter the realm of

Other emunoshaskafos MIGHT have practical ramifications too. but they
are no more serious than any run-of-the-mill aveira.

EG: What if someone were to believe that shechita done by a Moslem (i.e
hallal) is Kosher Schechita? Certainly it is WRONG to believe this and
it might have practical ramifications - like would yo uhire this guy to
be a mashgiach?!
 But it crosses no ikkar. He is probably just ocheil neveilos beshoggeg
karov lemeizid or something like that

K'siva vaChasima Tova!
Rich Wolpoe

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Date: Tue, 14 Sep 2004 10:34:05 -0400
From: Mlevinmd@aol.com
Following the minhagim of the husband

> Any sources anywhere for a tefila "not being accepted" because of a nusach
> (Ashkenaz/Sepharad/Romainian/Hungarian/Yekke). How would one know?

I don't know a source but my wife suggested that wife's mazal follows
the husband as is stated in Tanchuma to Mattos (nkeiva+ nakiah ba,
zakhar=ze kar). It would follow that her mailbox is labeled with his
name and that her missives must be accordingly formatted as well.

M. Levin

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Date: Mon, 13 Sep 2004 21:56:45 -0400
From: "Yosef Gavriel & Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.it.northwestern.edu>
RE: Non-literal explanations/Gan Eden

At 11:32 AM 9/12/2004, you wrote:
>and as someone else brought up, how does this fit w/ the story of sdom
>that follows this "prophetic dream"

Ask the Rambam.


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Date: Mon, 13 Sep 2004 22:08:08 EDT
From: Joelirich@aol.com
Re: Torah as Allegory

In a message dated 09/13/2004 9:26:08 PM EDT, mslatfatf@access4less.net writes:
> R' HM what would you rather your teachers offered you - happiness and
> kiyum hatorah, or honesty and the possibility of p'rikas oyl?

To Paraphrase R' P Paretsky ZT"L (Rosh Yeshiva at RIETS) - I can't
conceive of a world where HKB"H would allow lack of honesty to yield a
better result than honesty. I'm not proposing that these issues must
be taught to everyone (i.e., don't tell if not asked) but to base
"happiness and kiyum hatorah" on perceived sheker seems contradictory.

On a separate issue, I have no problem with those who wish to follow
R'AMs derech of emunah pshutah, I do have a problem with the derogatory
dismissal of science where it is perceived to differ from chazal's
understanding. If the chazal listened and sometimes were modeh to the
scientists of their day, how can we who don't reach their ankles be
so sure?

Joel Rich

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Date: Mon, 13 Sep 2004 19:07:55 -0700 (PDT)
From: Harry Maryles <hmaryles@yahoo.com>
Re: Torah as Allegory

Daniel Eidensohn <yadmoshe@012.net.il> wrote:
> Someone once asked Rav Sternbuch about Dr. Schroeder's defense of
> the faith. He expressed irritation with it. He did not agree that the
> traditional Jewish position needed to be defended against science.

If Rav Sternbuch said in any context that the traditional Jewish position
did not need to be defended against science than I submit he doesn't
understand the nature of science. Science is not an antagonist of the
Jewish position. Science is nothing more than the objective study of
nature in a highly organized and systemized fashion. It is the method
by which one can learn and reach conclusions about the nature of the
universe through its collection and study of verifiable data. As such
it cannot possibly conflict with Torah Judaism. The only thing that
may be said is that sometimes even the best of scientific minds reach
the wrong conclusions and wrong conclusions are ultimately rejected
by the scientific community itself when new data is discovered or more
sophisticated means of analyzing data is developed.


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Date: Mon, 13 Sep 2004 23:44:01 -0400
From: "MYG" <mslatfatf@access4less.net>
Re: Torah as Allegory

RDE wrote:
> I have not come across any source which recommends accepting explanations
> that you feel are false in order to justify beliefs that you
> accept as true. It is permitted in chinuch to present a distorted
> or truncated rationale to students because that is a necessary bridge
> to better understanding. However it is only a temporary matter which
> will replaced as the student advances. For example the various
> stories of Hillel (Shabbos 31a).

> In other words I reject your approach!

I believe that we are talking about two different situations. I believe
you understood me to mean that one could read R' Avigdor Miller's seforim,
all the while knowing the objections to his proofs, and then believing
in all the ikkarei ha'emunah based on those flawed proofs. I agree with
you that that would not be recommended! I am talking about someone who
read RAM's seforim, was not aware of the problems with his arguments
and based his hashkofas hachayim on RAMM. Now, a month or a decade
later he starts reading Avodah, and becomes aware that there are strong
reasons not to accept RAM's arguments. I contend that it is possible to
continue with full belief in all the ikkarei ha'emunah as defined by RAM
(such as literalism, anti-evolution, etc.), and not be bothered by the
(admittedly) serious objections to the proofs of his mehalech. Do you
still reject my approach?

K'siva v'chasima tova,
Moshe Yehuda Gluck

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Date: Tue, 14 Sep 2004 00:11:18 EDT
From: T613K@aol.com
Re: Historicity of the Mabul [was: Age of the Universe]

In  Avodah V13 #101 dated 9/13/2004  RHM writes:
>> I didn't just mean that no evidence has been  found;
>> I mean that the evidence shows that such catastrophic  events did not
>> take place. [--Zoo Torah]

> There is  "proof" that there was no flood, not just complete lack of
> evidence? You  can prove a negative?

I don't know if the "fact" that the Mabul never took place has ever been
proven, but in certain cases yes, you can prove a negative. It is possible
to prove, for example, that a certain girl never had relations with a
man; from physical evidence, one can prove that something did not take
place. It's possible to prove that grass never grew at the North Pole,
too--there's nothing but water under the ice cap.

So at least in principle a non-occurence can sometimes be proven. However,
in the case of the evidence that the Mabul never took place--I frankly
doubt that its non-occurence has in fact been "proven."

--Toby  Katz

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Date: Tue, 14 Sep 2004 11:23:54 +0200
From: Daniel Eidensohn <yadmoshe@012.net.il>
Re: Torah as Allegory

MYG wrote:
>I believe that we are talking about two different situations. I believe
>you understood me to mean that one could read R' Avigdor Miller's
>seforim, all the while knowing the objections to his proofs, and then
>believing in all the ikkarei ha'emunah based on those flawed proofs. I
>agree with you that that would not be recommended! I am talking about
>someone who read RAM's seforim, was not aware of the problems with his
>arguments and based his hashkofas hachayim on RAMM. Now, a month or a
>decade later he starts reading Avodah, and becomes aware that there are
>strong reasons not to accept RAM's arguments. I contend that it is
>possible to continue with full belief in all the ikkarei ha'emunah as
>defined by RAM (such as literalism, anti-evolution, etc.), and not be
>bothered by the (admittedly) serious objections to the proofs of his
>mehalech. Do you still reject my approach?

I don't understand your chidush. If a person's emuna is not based on
the proofs and he keeps his emuna after the proofs have been seriously
questioned I see no problem. As I stated previously - not everyone's
emuna is based on proofs. In fact the Seridei Aish in his hesped for
the Alter of Slabodka asserts that the emuna of the tzadikim is based
upon intuition and not proofs.

Seridei Aish(L'Perakim #26): ... I want to note that I am concerned
with the genuine concept of emuna and not the emuna of the philosopher
that is not deserving of the name. It is known that there were Rishonim
who attacked the Rambam and his supporters who had tried to "prove"
emuna with logical philosophical proofs. These Rishonim claimed
that emuna does not require justification from philosophy which is
an inherently flawed and inadequate support. It is quite clear that
"emuna" which is based upon proofs and logical rationalization is in
fact not included in the concept that we call emuna. The factor of
logical proof inherently takes it out of the realm of emuna. Simply put
one who bases his faith on philosophical proofs ceases to be a believer
and becomes a thinker or intellectual. After emuna dies from the heart
of a person it begins to be in the thoughts. ... Emuna and kefira are
in essence not issues of thought and recognition but are psychological
visions. The sharp scalpel of intellectual analysis is not appropriate
to deal with them.... A psychologist is equipped to deal with them and
not a philosopher of logic. ...Emuna and kefirah are revealed ... when a
person wants to establish... the relationship between himself and other
individuals, between himself and society as well as all that exists
outside himself... This is something which is inherently not limited
to religious issues ... but includes all that enters into the realm
of his innate personal feelings. ... Emuna and kefira expressed in the
language of psychology is the acceptance and integration of something
into the inner world of the person or its rejections and expulsion. A
very simple example will clarify our words. Reuven claimed that that
it rained in another city. Shimon believed him while Levi was doubtful.
What does it mean to say he believed? It means that that which he heard
with his ears from the mouth of another was admitted into his private
inner world as clear knowledge.... Thus his hearing of the information
was the same as if he had seen it himself. This type of comprehension
is what we call emuna and it is dependent upon a number of factors. 1)
The nature of the speaker. If the listener loves the speaker and holds
him in high esteem, then he might believe the speaker simply because of
these positive feelings as if he had himself seen it with his own eyes.
Also if the speaker knows how to describe things graphically and
eloquently or with persuasive sincerity and charisma his words might
also be believed. 2) The nature of the listener. If the listener is
naturally gullible and believes whatever he is told, i.e., if he is
readily influenced by others who are more forceful or very pleasant
or friendly. In most cases the ready belief is not due to a lack in
critical thinking or logical thought but rather is the consequence of
the vivid imagination. Such a listener knows how to readily picture in
his mind that which he hears with convincing realism as if he sees it
in front of him. Thus he readily accepts that which he hears as if he
had actually seen it. 3) The nature of the issue. When the issue is not
distant from what is typical and known. In other words it doesn't appear
bizarre or contradict the world as the person knows it. The kofer -
is one who rejects that which he has been told. ....

Seridei Aish(L'Perakim #26): If we are going to utilize the psychological
analysis to describe the nature of religious emuna then we would say
that just as the nature of people vary and are different - also the
characteristics of emuna vary. 1) The usual image of plain emuna is a
person of sincere piety who has unquestioningly accepted the deeds of his
forefathers and their thoughts. By this obedient acceptance of tradition
he has disavowed his own perception. Such a person perceives that his
intellect is inadequate to the task of wandering widely and ascending
to the heavens of the world of religious issues. He therefore chooses
the safe ground of traditional faith which is the established well trod
path of the generations that preceded him. Knowing full well his personal
inadequacies to strike out on his own, he leans on the shoulder of the
generations. 2) On the other hand there is another type of traditional
emuna which reflects confident certainty. He is fully confident in his
forefathers and his teachers that they would not tell him lies. He fully
believes their words and their stories because he knows that they only
speak the historical truth. Emuna therefore is a traditional awareness of
historical reality which is simply beyond doubt. 3) Emuna is sometimes
the result of the psychological need not to be separated from the way
things have always been done in the past. It is very difficult for him
to travel alone on a separate path and therefore he clings to the ways
of his community. 4) Alternatively he might have a deep love for his
ancestors and wants to be like them in that he follows the traditional
ways and spiritual life. He views himself as a link in the family chain
which he doesn't want to destroy. 5) There is also mystical emuna. The
mystics penetrating eyes see through the murky darkness which covers
the material world. ... He wants to elevate himself above the narrow
confines of the world.... He craves freedom from the iron crucible -
from the illusions of life. He sees the events of life as a child's game
and he wants to grow and transcend it... 6) The ethical sensibilities
of a person can also be the basis of emuna. He wants a wants a world
of righteousness. He is certain that that this can only be accomplished
through the Creator and Leader of the world. He is sure that sometime in
the future G-d will produce a righteous world. 7) Perfect emuna - that
which is characteristic of great religious people in every generation
is the source of their creativity and greatness - is entirely different
than that which has been described so far. It is a type of internal
vision whose power is much greater than that of physical senses. Its
power comes from its ability to penetrate into the thing itself. It is
what is called intuition. It is an ability to see into the true nature
of things which are concealed by their surface appearance.

However if the emuna is based on these proofs and he now finds the proofs
unsatisfactory - why shouldn't be bothered? It sounds like someone who
wants to deny reality as he understands it because he is concerned with
having to alter his world. I would not label what he has as emuna - but
rather fear of loss. To put it more bluntly. If a person claims that his
religion is based on his open intellectual understanding of reality -
then it is legitimate to ask what would it take for him to take off his
kipah. If he responds that it is impossible that anything could refute
his "intellectually based faith" then it is not an "intellectually based
faith". If it is based on the other reasons listed by the Seridei Aish
then it is not really critical what the data shows since his faith is
independent of the data. Such a person might be uncomfortable that he
can't answer these questions but I don't see that is is really a question
of emuna.

Daniel Eidensohn

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