Avodah Mailing List

Volume 14 : Number 002

Tuesday, September 21 2004

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Sat, 18 Sep 2004 23:08:59 EDT
From: Zeliglaw@aol.com
Re: Torah as Allegory

RMS wrote in part:
> RDE cited RYBS as holding that the traditional Jewish position does not

However, if you look at RYBS's written record so far, the conflict between
Torah and science did not appear to be one of his major concerns. I would
suggest that once we have RYBS's letters in published form ( due to be
published by the end of the current secular year) that we may have more
evidence on this and many other issues re the views of RYBS.

[Email #2. -mi]

RDE posted a series of quotes from footnotes of RYBS re Torah and science.
WADR to RMS , these posts were from RYBS's philosophical writings in
which RYBS was underscoring and emphasizing the eternal relevance of
the halachic system, as opposed to any other competing philosophical or
scientific system. WADR, the footnotes cited by RDE support the conclusion
that RYBS was not concerned with the conflict because of his view of
the supremacy and sweep of halacha, as opposed to any other competing
philosophical and contemporary value. OTOH, I am looking forward to
RYBS's letters on this and many other issues for further enlightenment.

Steve Brizel

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Date: Sun, 19 Sep 2004 01:47:35 EDT
From: RabbiRichWolpoe@aol.com
Re: halcha vs agada

In a message dated 07/09/2004 16:20:24 EDT, goldstin@netvision.net.il writes:
> 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.

True but as I posted recently on another post - Meforshim tend to impose
"filters" and apply it to any given passuk. This is true of Onkelos
and Rambam re: anthropomorphic passages but it is true in many other
instances as well.

Gmar Chasima Tova!
Rich Wolpoe

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Date: Sun, 19 Sep 2004 01:53:59 EDT
From: RabbiRichWolpoe@aol.com
Re: halcha vs agada

In a message dated 05/09/2004 20:00:25 EDT, yadmoshe@012.net.il writes:
> The Meiri acknowledges that there is a view in the gemora Shabbos 156a 
> that Jews are influenced by Mazal. He doesn't analyze the gemora to show 
> that this view is wrong [as we find in Shabbos 55a concerning sin and 
> suffering] 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. Similarly Meiri 
> acknowledges that the gemora that "lifespan, children, and livelihood 
> are determined by mazal not merit -- means what it says. He simply says 
> that view is wrong. The view that mazal is determinant is expressed all 
> through Shas. He 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.

And I'll bet that the average Jew who recites the "unesanneh Tokef"
will presume that "bnai maron" refers to sheep even though this is only
1 of 3 possible explanations offered by the Gmara!

Gmar Chasima Tova!
Rich Wolpoe

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Date: Sun, 19 Sep 2004 07:55:31 EDT
From: T613K@aol.com
Re: R' Aqiva and the rock

In Avodah V14 #1dated 9/18/2004 "Samuel P Groner" _spg28@cornell.edu_ 
(mailto:spg28@cornell.edu)  writes:
> I've  never seen any of this written up, but I'm sure I'm not the first
> one to  see these -- transformative moment, at an even with a be'er,
> from talmid  chacham to shepherd or vice versa, in order to marry Rachel,
> by two men  with strikingly similar names.

The parallels are interesting and would make a nice paper, but IIRC
R' Akiva's rock was in a river, at the bottom of a waterfall--not at
a be'er. But with some tweaking, you still have your theme--water,
a rock, a man and a maid.

However--where does this lead? You need to invoke some common meaning,
lesson, moral--or all you have is a lit. paper for an English class.

 -Toby  Katz

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Date: Sun, 19 Sep 2004 01:39:22 EDT
From: RabbiRichWolpoe@aol.com
Re: Age of the Universe (Maharal, Rambam, Ramban)

In a message dated 09/09/2004 17:17:34 EDT, hlampel@thejnet.com writes:
> RMB:
>> I personally agree with the Maharal, that ma'aseh bereishis as a 
>> historical event is totally incomprehensible. To think that either 
>> nevu'ah or chokhmah can capture it is a mistake. 

>> Notice that the Maharal is has no problem with the idea that Bereishis 
>>  is allegory. (Of course, he would think that science is also only 
>> apable of approximating the truth.) Nor did the Rambam.

> 1. Maharal
> 2. The Rambam:

> Sforno:

> Ibn Ezra:
> Rashbam:

This informative thread can teach us things at several levels - 
First we get a masterful survey of the perspectices of the great
meforshim, etc.

Second the meta- level.

Some Meforshim take one pasuk or passage at a tiem. However, many have
a presumptive hashkafa that filters everything FIRST and then imposes
this filter onto the text.

EG the Rambam - and Onkelos - filter ALL anthopomorhisms of HKBH as
non-literal. In fact, if you choose to read these anthorpomorphic psukkim
more literally, the Rambam would probably consider you out of the pale!

However there are more subtle filters used by others. Crossing threads
... according to R. Mark Angel Ashkenazim are more focused upon the
synagogue .... You could also extrapolate that since Ashkenazim are
more exposed to Xtianity that they therefore might tend to be more
Messianically oriented - or are they?

If you subscribe to critical analysis you have to have these things
in mind. For example an Ashkenazi poseik might object to the Custom
of Kitniyot, but once you realize that this poseik has also been hihgly
exposed to Sephardic tradition, you might tend to disregard that poseik's
objectivity on this matter. EG the Chacham Tzvi.

Or let's say community X opposes putting up an Eruv, and then you find
out that this community has had a tradition going back ovedr 100 years
pfof opposing eruv's in the old country, you might tend to disregard
their objections to the eruv at hand.

True intellectual honesty not only requires one to be objective, but
also to factor in one's own presmises, pre-suppositions etc.

Gmar Chasima Tova!
Rich Wolpoe

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Date: Sun, 19 Sep 2004 08:54:30 -0700 (PDT)
From: Harry Maryles <hmaryles@yahoo.com>
Re: Age of the Universe (Maharal, Rambam, Ramban)

RabbiRichWolpoe@aol.com wrote:
> True intellectual honesty not only requires one to be objective, but
> also to factor in one's own presmises, pre-suppositions etc.

I disagree. Pre-supositions not based on objectivity biases one's
conclusions unscientificly.

If one wants to be subjective, fine. One may... in fact one SHOULD...
trust our Mesorah, but that is a subjective bias that pre-supposes facts
not in evidence. Intellectual honesty requires one to admit the bias.


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Date: Sun, 19 Sep 2004 18:07:38 +0200
From: Arie Folger <afolger@aishdas.org>
Re: Admitting question is unanswered vs apologetics

RDE wrote:
> R' Shimon Schwab (Jewish Chronology): It is because of all these gnawing
> doubts that I have decided to put a big question mark after the words
> "Jewish Chronology." Let somebody with greater knowledge come and pick up
> the threads where I left off. Our traditional, universally accepted Jewish
> way of counting the years [from creation] is sacred territory which only
> fools do not fear to tread upon. This may be a disappointment to some,
> but on the other hand I muster the courage to belong to those who rather
> wish to be honest to themselves than to be "right". I would rather leave a
> good question open than risk giving a wrong answer...Just as I was awarded
> for the research, so shall I be awarded for the retraction." The historic
> material which I have assembled may still be somehow useful, even for
> those who will doubt whether there can ever be a Jewish chronology which
> would satisfy the non believer in the wisdom of our Sages...And to me
> "from Creation" means what it meant to our fathers. It is as simple as
> that. And while we may keep on searching for the answers, we pray that
> Hashem may enlighten our eyes.

As I once posted on list, I was told by a respected TC who is RSS's
cousin, that when RSS came to stay over at his home, the TC asked
RSS whether the retraction was geniune, as there were rumors that the
retraction had been included only to placate some critics, while others
maintained RSS's retraction was a statement of what he really felt.

RSS told that TC (whom I know fairly well, BTW) that the retraction was
there only to placate critics; he really believed what he had written
in his essay. While we may wonder how RSS felt he could write such a
clear retraction when he didn't mean it, I must say that when I read the
article and afterwards the retraction, I didn't feel that the retraction
was serious, although I can't quite pinpoint why. Having been told by a
most honest and reputable individual (who would have been far happier had
RSS told him the reatraction was real) what RSS told him in a private
conversation, considering who this TC is, I no longer have any doubts
as to RSS's true conviction in this matter.

Thus, while humility is an important trait, and one can see humility
in this particular quote of RSS, one can hardly learn what RDE wants to
demonstrate from it, namely, that one needs to learn to leave questions
open, as the question wasn't open in the mind of RSS. Then again, if RSS
was willing to write a retraction, even a half-hearted one, that must
mean that he felt that having left some questions not fully answered
for his readership was an acceptable way to teach them.

Caveat emptor.

However, I do not dispute the idea that we ought to learn to appreciate
unanswered questions, too.

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, 19 Sep 2004 22:24:39 +0200
From: Daniel Eidensohn <yadmoshe@012.net.il>
Re: Admitting question is unanswered vs apologetics

Arie Folger wrote:
>However, I do not dispute the idea that we ought to learn to appreciate 
>unanswered questions, too.

It is nice to know that we are in agreement about somethings -even though
there are other issues we disagree about

The issue of R' Schwab's intellectual honesty is an issue we
have disagreed about before and is available in the archives.

>Thus, while humility is an important trait, and one can see humility in this 
>particular quote of RSS, one can hardly learn what RDE wants to demonstrate 
>from it, namely, that one needs to learn to leave questions open, as the 
>question wasn't open in the mind of RSS. Then again, if RSS was willing to 
>write a retraction, even a half-hearted one, that must mean that he felt that 
>having left some questions not fully answered for his readership was an 
>acceptable way to teach them.

For those whose memories don't go back so far

"I received the following reply when I forwarded the comments made about
R' Schwab to R' Schwab's son. He gave me permission to post it.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: <Mlssure@aol.com>
To: <yadmoshe@012.net.il>
Sent: Friday, June 20, 2003 7:40 PM
Subject: Re: Rabbi Shimon Schwab zt"l and Persian chronology

It is an absolute insult to my father's memory to say that the thoughts
expressed in his "epilogue," or any of his writings, were promulgated
as a result of any "pressure." His investigation of this entire matter
was motivated simply by his deep-seated Emunas Chachomim coupled with a
quest for "Emes." His final word on the matter was to leave the question
open, not because of any "pressure" - he never bowed to pressure in his
writings or opinions, to him this would have been patently dishonest and
anethma. Rather, like any honest scholar seeking the truth, he recognized
the validity of certain questions which were raised about his theory -
and it is only a theory- and opted therefore to leave the question open ,
analogous to the Tzarich Iyun Gadol of a Rabbi Akiva Eiger, or others, who
accepted a fact of Torah - notwithstanding unaswered questions about it.

With regard to the corresondent's remarks about the Anshe Knesses Hagedola
(among whom were many Neviim) , see "Rav Schwab on Prayer", Intro. by
Author, page xxviii, for some enlightenment on this subject. By the way,
RSS's theory was not an " elaborate coverup," this language is demeaning
to the AKH.

Moshe Schwab"

Daniel Eidensohn

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Date: Sun, 19 Sep 2004 14:25:45 -0400
From: "David Cohen" <ddcohen@verizon.net>
Is this the only opportunity for teshuvah?

One of the selichot that we recited this morning, "Imanta Me-az" by R'
Binyamin ben Zerach (#49 in minhag Lita and #45 in minhag Polin), has
a somewhat surprising assertion. It seems to be saying that while a
community can do teshuvah any time of year, an individual is only able
to do teshuvah during the 10 Days of Repentance, and any attempt at
teshuvah during the rest of the year is futile.

This certainly seems to go against R' Eliezer's advice to "repent one day
before your death" (Avot 2:10), and against what we said on Rosh Hashanah,
"im tashuv, miyad tekabelo" -- if one repents, You will immediately
accept him.

Are there any sources in Chazal that support the view of this paytan,
or any other rishonim who explicitly espouse it?

Gemar tov,

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Date: Sun, 19 Sep 2004 21:25:07 +0200
From: Minden <phminden@arcor.de>
linguistic norm

Dear all,

I have a very principal question that's been bothering me for a while:
What is the haloche lemaase considering the whole complex of baale mesoure
vs. later grammarians? After all, the baale mesoure defined the nekudes
etc. and the rules of interpreting them. Are the opinions and written
rules of the later baale dikduk equivalent to a psak? Or are there poskim
who explicitly rule that the din is according to Seifer dikduk plouni?

Probably the most eye- and ear-catching difference is that according to
the mesoure, in the vast majority of "tenue gedoule followed by rofe
consonant with shevo" cases, the shevo is nach, closing the phonetic
syllable, with or without a ga-ye accompanying the tenue gedoule (e.g.
veshomru, not veshomeru). The (groups of) exceptions are more or less
exhaustively defined.

Best, and a good chsimetouve,
Lipman Phillip Minden
[ 8~)

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Date: Mon, 20 Sep 2004 15:54:04 GMT
From: "Gershon Dubin" <gershon.dubin@juno.com>
additions for Aseres Yemei Teshuva

Does anyone have any thoughts on the four (non-"Hamelech") additions to
Shemone Esrei during AYT?

Specifically why, in Zochreinu, we ask only for chayim, for ourselves.

In mi chamocha, we ask again only for chayim, for all creations, and
with the added "berachamim", while in uchesov, we ask for chayim tovim,
but only for Jews.

Finally in besefer, we ask for a long string of requests, for ourselves
primarily and only afterwards for "kol amcha beis Yisrael"


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Date: Mon, 20 Sep 2004 09:31:47 -0700
From: "Newman,Saul Z" <Saul.Z.Newman@kp.org>

i am not a big kamatz kattan mayven. is the word in yamim noraim amida
shalton, sholtan, sholton , or shaltan for those who prounounce kamatz
katan differently thean gadol?

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Date: Sun, 19 Sep 2004 18:47:59 -0700 (PDT)
From: Harry Maryles <hmaryles@yahoo.com>
It's Raining... It's Pouring...

I do not recall whether this issue has been discussed in the past
(altough I kind of have an inklig that it has) but as the holiday of
Tabernacles approaches there is a question that has bothered me in the
past and as of yet I have not seen (or do not recall) any answers.

There is a Chasidic group that eats in the Sukkah even when it rains.
Now, the Halacha is that on the first night one is supposed to wait
until it stops but even if it doesn't, one is still required to eat at
least a Kezayis in the Sukkah.

However, on subsequent nights one is NOT supposed to eat in the Sukkah
if it is raining hard enough so that it spoils your food. The Gemmarah
in Brachos(Yerushalmi) states that anyone who does so, is considered
a Hedyot. In fact this is brought down as Halacha L'Maaseh in Rabbi
Karo's Code of Jewish Law. In the context it is used here, Hedyot
here means Yuhara (showing off one's Frumkeit" for purposes of self
aggrandizement). Other sources cite the term Hedyot as meaning a "Chasid
Shotah" a term which also denotes a sort of Yuhara...but of a stupid sort.

Now there are many instances whereby a person performs a Mitzvah even
when not required and is to be praised for his piety but this is only in
cases where at least others are required to do the Mitzvah and for some
reason a particular individual is exempted and yet, still does it. But in
a case where everyone is exempted... such as we all are when it rains on
Sukkos, then such a person is called a Hedyot. The reason given as to why
this is so specifically in the case of a Sukkah is that it is as though a
servant (an obidientnt Jew) comes and pours a drink for his Master (God)
and then his Master (God) takes it and splashes it in his face! In other
words the Master (God) is obviously telling us that he doesn't want us
there at that particular moment (for reasons known only to Him).

Rabbi M. Isserles in his glosses to the Code of Jewish Law clearly states
that the Jewish law is as the Gemmarah states: that one who refuses to
leave the Sukkah when he is Patur from being there is nothing more than
a Hedyot (in the most negative connotation of the word). Furthermore
if one insists on going into the Sukkah when it rains and makes the
benediction on the bread and the benediction on "sitting" in the Sukkah,
one violates the prohibition of making a Bracha L'Vatalah... even if he
ends up eating an entire meal there.

So I re-iterate... why the insistence by this group of Chasidim ...you
know who you are :)...on violating this clear Jewish Law? What possible
permissibilty is there to do so?


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Date: Mon, 20 Sep 2004 14:20:12 +1000
From: "SBA" <sba@sba2.com>
Hilchos Arba Minim, Sukka and Yeshivas Sukka

A Gerrer chossid friend has emailed me a 3 scanned sheets of Hilchos
Arba Minim, Sukka and Yeshivas Sukka [in LHK] from the Gerrer Dayan in
Ashdod - Rav Gross.

Email me if you want a copy.


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Date: Mon, 20 Sep 2004 14:09:24 -0400
From: "Shinnar, Meir" <Meir.Shinnar@rwjuh.edu>
Re: Torah as allegory

WRT the claim that allegory requires a specific makor in hazal, let
me cite (previously cited, but never refuted) the rambam himself, in
ma'amar techiyat hametim, my translation from shilat edition

    know that these prophecies and similar matters that we say that
    they are allegorical - our word in them is not a decree, that we did
    not receive a prophecy from hashem that will tell us that it is an
    allegory, nor did we have a tradition for one of the sages from the
    prophets who will explain that these details are allegorical.

    Rather, what brought us to that is the our effort and the the effort
    of every man of wisdom (of the few) - the reverse of the effort of
    the multitude. That the multitude of the the followers of torah, what
    is beloved of them and tasty to their folly, that they will put torah
    and sechel as two opposite poles, and will derive everything separate
    from the reasonable, and will say that it is a miracle, and will flee
    from thngs being natural, not in what is told about what happened in
    the past, nor what he will see now, nor what is said that will happen.
    And our efforts our to gather between the torah and the reasonable,
    and will manage all things accroding to a possible natural order,
    except what is specifically explained that it is a miracle (mofet)
    and it is impossible to explain it otherwise, then we will need
    to say that it is a miracle (end quotation) allegories justified -
    including about events in the past - if contradict sechel - without
    any other makor in hazal - the makor in hazal being that the torah
    and sechel should be concordant...

Meir Shinnar

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Date: Tue, 21 Sep 2004 15:52:20 -0400
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Torah as allegory

On Mon, Sep 20, 2004 at 02:09:24PM -0400, Shinnar, Meir wrote:
: WRT the claim that allegory requires a specific makor in hazal, let
: me cite ....

This isn't my position, nor R' Eliyahu Gerstel's, who writes:
> IIUC the Rambam's opinion is that there can not be an argument on any
> principles of the mesorah and if there is a machloket among the baalei
> meshorah such is a proof that those particulars of the issue under debate
> are not part of the mesorah and are open to analysis. Given the areas of
> disagreement among Chazal as to particulars of haskafah, notwithstanding
> that a significant majority might tend towards a particular opinion,
> there is still much possible theoretical leeway.

Both the Ma'amar Techiyas haMeisim and the texts in dispute in the Moreh
indicate that while the Rambam would allegorize in some situations where
Chazal did not, he would not do so in contradiction to the mesorah.

REG most cleanly explains this, and it dovetails well with the Rambam's
position that there are no machloqesin on halachos lemosheh misinai.


Micha Berger             When you come to a place of darkness,
micha@aishdas.org        you don't chase out the darkness with a broom.
http://www.aishdas.org   You light a candle.
Fax: (270) 514-1507        - R' Yekusiel Halberstam of Klausenberg zt"l

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Date: Mon, 20 Sep 2004 16:00:21 -0400
From: "Stein, Aryeh" <AStein@wtplaw.com>
Re: Non-literal explanations/ Gan Eden

I have been following this discussion with great interest, and I have
been quite content to let others (such as RYGB, RJO, RZS, RTL and others)
speak for me.

However, my frustration with some comments has reached the point where I
can no longer keep silent. (Disclaimer: I have no scientific background,
and this is something that I am now very grateful about, as it apparently
makes it that much easier to believe what is written in Bereishis.
(I can hear the jokes now: "If ignorance is bliss, he must be a very happy
person....") I have discussed this topic with several other "laypeople,"
and they agree with what I write below.

> The idea that the days are literal and the physical universe is less 
> than 6000 years old is refuted by evidence from many different fields
> of science.

I assume that all observant Jews believe that the very creation of the
world was a neis. If one accepts that, than why is it so hard to believe
that, one of the RBSO's nissim was the very fact that, while He created
a world ex nihilo 5765 years ago, the world appears to be older than that
(i.e., that He created a mature world).

Also, the same way that (I assume that) many "scientifically proven"
theories that existed in 1500 a.d. were ultimately disproven in 2000
a.d., who's to say that today's "scientifically proven" theories won't
ultimately disproven in 2500 a.d.? Will we then re-interpret the Torah's
words once again to fit in with what scientists' claim is the "factual
truth" in 2500 a.d.? (I realize that I am not saying anything that hasn't
been said much more eloquently than RYGB, RJO, RZS, RTL and others,
but I suppose I am writing only to vent my frustration.)

> The cause for taking this approach is the impossibility of 
> reconciling the order in Bereishis with the order of events that has 
> been scientifically proven to the satisfaction of the overwhelming 
> majority of scientists, both religious and secular, in a broad range 
> of disciplines. (E.g. the sun being 4 billion years before plants, 
> terrestrial creatures being before birds and flying insects.)

I have absolutely no problem in believing that vegetation was created
before the sun was put in its place (not "created", since "light" was
created on day one, not day four) or that terrestrial creatures were
created after birds and flying insects.  The "fossil record" means
nothing to me, since it seems to disregard the effects of the Mabul
(which, in my simple-minded view of things, really did happen in a
literal, physical, non-spiritual, non-prophetic kind of way.)   

> ...Rav Nadel z"l raises this point and explains that the Rishonim did
> not have to deal with the incontrovertible scientific evidence for a 
> universe that is billions of years old.....

It is statements like this that caused me to post. While I have no problem
with believing that the time period described in the second pasuk of
Bereishis ("The earth was unformed and desolate, and darkness covered the
surface of the abyss. The breath of El-him hovered above the surface of
the water") was a period of billions of years (or even that the six days
of creation were not necessarily 24 hour days but something different),
whenever I see the term "incontrovertible scientific evidence," I can't
help but laugh out loud. In 1500 a.d., I am sure that there were other
theories that had "incontrovertible scientific evidence" to support them
but are now looked at by today's scientists as primitive. As smart as we
think we are today, who's to say that in five hundred years from now,
the scientists living in 2500 a.d. won't be looking at the scientists
living in 2000 a.d. as primitive and laugh at the "scientific conclusions"
arrived at by today's scientists.

> Personally, I would add to Rav Nadel's "sufficient cause" of
> prehistoric man. Having (somewhat) studied human anatomy, there are
> many aspects of it that do not make much sense if man was
> independently designed and created from earth, but which make a lot
> more sense if his body was adapted from an animal.

I am at a loss for words. What's wrong with believing that man was
independently designed and created from earth and that the same Creator
created other living beings, i.e., animals, with a similar anatomical

> I also don't like it, and I don't think Rav Nadel did, either. But
> when faced with overwhelming cause, and given a license to do so by
> the Rishonim and others, there isn't a choice.

But there is a choice!!! (See above for my simple-minded way of dealing
with the "incontrovertible scientific evidence.")

> First, there is no evidence to justify believing that it was not
> historical.

IIRC, a prominent conservative rabbi wrote that yetziyas mitzrayim
did not literally happen because there is no evidence of this mass
journey of from Egypt to Israel. If we are ultimately presented with
"incontrovertible scientific evidence" that this journey could not
have actually occurred, would any of us on Avodah begin to espouse that
yetziyas mitzrayim did not happen in a literal, physical way, but rather
was only an allegory? I certainly hope not. I don't think that an "an
akeida of the intellect" would be required. Rather, a dismissal of the
"incontrovertible scientific evidence" would be preferred.

(Just to clarify, I don't doubt that the great advances in medicine and
many other fields has been wrought by scientists. I am amazed at what
science has accomplished in eradicating disease, etc.. It is only when
scientists claim to know, with any degree of certainty, about events
that happened thousands of years ago - events that everyone on this list
agrees were miraculous. Once we concede that miracles were involved, how
can we then say that today's scientists can make scientific calculations
about these events?!?)

KT and GCT

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Date: Tue, 21 Sep 2004 14:48:14 -0400
From: "MYG" <mslatfatf@access4less.net>
Re: Torah as Allegory

I'm sorry for the delay in responding...

I wrote:
> R' HM what would you rather your teachers offered you - happiness and
> kiyum hatorah, or honesty and the possibility of p'rikas oyl?

And R' Joel Rich answered:
> 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.

In case everyone forgot, this was referring to a quote, "Brainwashing is
okay - as long as you use kosher soap." I didn't say it. Now, I agree that
"Emes k'neh v'al timkor," but in an hypothetical equation where the only
possible answers are "happiness and kiyum hatorah, or honesty and the
possibility of p'rikas oyl" what is the proper mehalech?

R' David Riceman writes:
> I am puzzled, however, why you need any arguments at all? Why not say
> "What Hazal said is good enough for me," and avoid any argument rather
> than adopt one you suspect of being erronous?

That is a very good question. The answer is, that when I was young what
Chazal said was not good enough for me. After reading R' AM's seforim,
I was able to rely on Chazal, to the degree that I am now not bothered
by the questions on R' AM's proofs.

RDR quoted me:
> I stand by my contention that the Rambam is, "talking about an
> inadvertant lack of seichel in the context of doing aveiros."

To which he responded:
> You have made the error (surprising in a Talmudist) of confusing a din
> with the motivation for the din. The prohibition in the Mishnah is
> abusing one's intellect. The reasons for the prohibition may be to
> reduce your chance of doing aveiros or aquiring false beliefs. 

You are right. I stand corrected as to p'shat in the Rambam. As to your
original contention that my belief system would fall under this mishna's
din, I'm not so sure that this would be considered not "being protective
of the honor of the creator"! If anything, the opposite.

G'mar chasima tova,
Moshe Yehuda Gluck

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Date: Tue, 21 Sep 2004 16:06:26 -0400
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Non-literal explanations/Gan Eden

On Sun, Sep 12, 2004 at 11:32:59AM -0400, Shaya Potter wrote:
:> The line is drawn between events that involve interaction between the 
:> material and spiritual and events that are material.

: and as someone else brought up, how does this fit w/ the story of sdom
: that follows this "prophetic dream"

That's the Ramban's qushya on the Rambam, which is addressed by the
Abarbanel. The issue has been discussed here, and the conclusions I
reached during that discussion made it to MmD.

The Abarbanel understands the Rambam to hold that nevu'ah is a vision
of things that happen on a higher plane of existance. It's not a "dream".
RYGB invoked this idea to say that the Rambam's shitah is fundamentally
different than allegorization.

The Ramban understands nevu'ah to be a dream granted by Hashem to convey
some truth.

Which fits leshitasam WRT how to understand the "Man" riding the merkavah.
The Rambam has to say it's a kavod nivra, as seeing Hashem even in
a vision would mean that in the higher plane, G-d could be seen. The
Ramban, however, has no such problem, and sees it as the Shechinah,
which leshitaso is a sheim H'.


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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