Avodah Mailing List
Volume 14 : Number 025
Friday, November 12 2004
Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Tue, 9 Nov 2004 05:33:44 -0500
From: Micha Berger <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: LECTURE #3: TORAH AND SCIENCE -- Rambam, methodological naturalism, and the starlight problem
On Thu, Nov 04, 2004 at 02:51:26PM -0500, Jonathan Ostroff wrote:
: This does not accord with Chazal or the meforshim who do take the
: historicity of the Torah seriously, even with respect to maaseh beraishis
: as discussed in the thread on the age of the universe and evolution.
The question is not whether the VBM article runs counter to many of chazal
and rishonim, but rather whether it shtims with any. The claim is not that
he's giving the only approach found to TSBP, but that it's a viable one.
I don't see how this weaker claim can be made either, but I want to
clarify the parameters.
RJO and I understand the Rambam (MN II ch 25) similarly (albeit not
identically), so I agree with his denial that the Rambam can be cited
About the variability of the speed of light, RJO writes:
: For example, in , Magueijo calculates that the speed of light must have
: been 60 orders of magnitude faster than the current value in the early
: history of the universe! This would be needed to save the big bang theory
: from various "pirchas" and as an alternative to the inflation hypothesis.
: Note that Magueijo is working within the normal uniformatarian assumptions
: of methodological naturalism that natural law always prevailed and that
: what we observe now gives us sound and reliable evidence for what was.
: Nevertheless, it is instructive that yesterday's "heresy" is today's
: Physical Review D.
: All that we need for the starlight problem to disappear is a much more
: conservative 9 orders of magnitude during maaseh beraishis.
No surprise there. As I mentioned in the past, Dirac, famous for the
idea of antimatter, proposed a decreasing c. And in all the years since,
the majority of scientists did not see a compeling argument. That new
data might point in that direction (or might not) is intruiging, but
not the first intimation of the idea.
Saying that light had any consistant speed, that the speed decreased in
some measurable and studyable way, is aloready taking a less extreme
position than the Rambam's. One is still projecting data about the
universe after creation onto the universe during it.
A fluctuating c is simply a more complex rule of nature, not a
statement that nature didn't yet fully exist. Now, a decreasing
h-bar, the measure of quantum uncertainty, OTOH, would show that the
domain of lawlessness was once absolute and then shrank to its current
negligability. (Negligable in day-to-day life, excluding chip manufaturers
and the like, at least.)
: Contra the VBM article, there is no "clash between the plain sense
: of Scripture and modern scientific findings" when science is done
: responsibly and assumptions are clearly identified. Rather, the clash
: is between scripture and scientism, i.e. the unwarranted assumption of
: methodological naturalism.
What I don't understand is how the Rambam and yourself can stop there. If
reality during ma'aseh bereishis was so far from our experience, why do
you assume (contra Maharal) that we are capable of making sense of the
pasuq's description either?
It would seem to me that once you deny scientific study, the same grounds
force you to deny any comprehension of ma'aseh bereishis as history.
Regardless of how much assistance on gets from the Torah.
Micha Berger It isn't what you have, or who you are, or where
firstname.lastname@example.org you are, or what you are doing, that makes you
http://www.aishdas.org happy or unhappy. It's what you think about.
Fax: (270) 514-1507 - Dale Carnegie
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Date: Tue, 9 Nov 2004 14:11:16 +1100
From: "Meir Rabi" <email@example.com>
Subject: Lifney Iveyr
In both Siman 163 and 169 O"Ch the prohibition of Lifney Iveyr is
163, the Rema prohibits feeding another who has not washed Netilas
Yodayim. (btw the attribution to Rabbenu Yona seems to be misplaced)
169 the Mechaber prohibits giving food unless sure that the recipient
will make a Beracha. The Rema adds that some are lenient if it is given
to a pauper, as Tzedaka.
The source of these is Chulin 107b, "One may not place bread in the mouth
of the waiter unless he knows the waiter has washed Netilas Yodayim."
Why does the Mechaber 169, not quote the Gemara's Halacha but a modified
Is it not noteworthy that the Mechaber 163 seems to be quoting the RaMBaM
(Berachos 6; 18) word for word (Tur's wording is different) yet omits
the next Halacha of the RaMBaM, which is quoted more or less by the Rema?
What is the Sevoro of Rabbenu Yona to permit the aveiro when intending
to do a mitzvah?
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Date: Tue, 9 Nov 2004 12:51:43 +0000
From: Shayna Korb <firstname.lastname@example.org>
from M. Levin:
> There are 3 ways to set price, as per marketing textbooks:
> 1. Cost + a designated price which depends of the field. F.E. a
> supermarket may determine its cost and then add a 30% surcharge.
> 2. Survey the market and set prices in the same range as other sellers
> 3. Survey buyers ands set the price based on what they are willing
> to pay.
> It seems that onaah cannot apply for #1 and 3. How would onaah be
> relevant for the modern price setting methods?
So first lets understand "price-setting" in an ideal economic setting.
Say we had a perfect market- buyers and sellers both have perfect
information about the quality of the good and its availability at prices
throughout, etc... and no one firm has any "market power," meaning if
it tries to sell its good at one pence more than the market equilibrium
value, it will have no buyers, and however much it can produce at the
market equilibrium, there will be demand. In this case, marginal cost
will intersect marginal demand- the cost it makes to produce each good
(this is economic cost, not accounting cost, so it takes into account the
opportunity cost of invested money as well as labour) will be the price,
set by the interaction of supply and demand.
So- the methods you describe above are really all methods of getting at
that market equilibrium price for an entering producer. (the "cost" in
1 is accounting cost, not economic cost) The entering producer doesn't
necessarily have the same production curve (of costs of producing)
as an old hat- so in order to be competitive, they look to the market.
What about a monopoly? (some of the above assumptions fail) Since a
monopolist necessarily faces the entire demand, he faces a downward
sloping demand curve. This means that if the firm wishes to increase
sales it must lower price. (the other firms can sell however much they
want at the market price, cause remember- they aren't big enough to flood
the market) If it wishes to sell less it must raise price. As it turns
out this means that, for a firm facing a normal demand curve, marginal
revenue is different from market price. The firm still produces at MC=MR
(the demand line is above that). So the monopolist can't choose any
price he wants, he chooses the P of where MC=MR. (for an illustration,
check out <http://www.econweb.com/Sample/Monopoly/ProfitMax10.html>)
But onaah in general can to apply to cases where firms have some kind
of monopolistic power over the consumer, but are not the only firm. So
there is a game theoretical model of who sets price first, etc... If
you move on to better marketing books, you'll get to that.
But I think the crux of the onaah thing is that you aren't allowed to
choose a price higher than one sixth of the market equilibrium price,
even if you feasibly can. And if there are transaction costs involved,
one can add those to the cost of the good (they are directly part of
marginal cost, no question)
London School of Economics
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Date: Tue, 09 Nov 2004 13:17:51 +0200
From: Daniel Eidensohn <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: Asking Questions
Micha Berger wrote:
>>*Rav Chaim Brisker****(MeAtiki Shemuah): *Some ask how it is possible to
>>ask question about the Torah? They answer that in fact one can not ask
>>critical questions but can only raise questions rhetorically in order to
>>present the answers...
>R' Chaim actually writes about "qushyos al haTorah", questioning the
>Torah, not asking about the Torah.
>The topic on hand was curiosity, which is more about questions that
>request information, as in "ibai lehu" than qushyos.
>> However if the
>>question is not itself Torah than in truth it is prohibited to ask the
>>question since the material is written in the Torah and therefore one
>>must accept what is written without any questions.
>It would seem RCS rules out asking qushyos from science on Torah.
>But notice he's still speaking about accepting vs questioning. It's very
>much about the danger of qushyos getting in the way of acceptance.
I agree with what you have noted in translating the Hebrew literally.
However noting the context alters the understanding. R' Chaim had asked
why Avraham did not object to the Akeidah. So while you can transpose this
to mean why I - the reader of the story can not question the Akeidah -
it clearly means that Avraham did not even have a question until it was
possible to have an answer.
I think that R' Chaim was actually making both points. One can not
in fact question the Torah from logic or Science unless there is an
available answer. Therefore Torah is a closed system. The discussions
in the Torah itself need to conform to this principle of not asking or
challenging but rather clarifying.
This issue came up a few years ago. R Moshe Tendler had heard from Rav
YB Soloveitchik that R Chaim had said that a great leader is one who
raises questions as we see with Moshe Rabbeinu. Sanhedrin (111a).
I raised the question from this citation of R'Chaim which seems to be
a direct contradiction. Rabbi Tenlder did not know how to reconcile the
two statements of R' Chaim.
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Date: Tue, 9 Nov 2004 03:58:53 -0800 (PST)
From: Harry Maryles <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: Asking Questions
Micha Berger <email@example.com> wrote:
> R' Chaim actually writes about "qushyos al haTorah", questioning the
> Torah, not asking about the Torah.
> As I understand R' Chaim, he is talking exclusively about qushyos, which
> are particularly dangerous since someone who doesn't find a teirutz might
> conclude that one does not exist, that ch"v he actually found an upshlug...
> It would seem RCS rules out asking qushyos from science on Torah.
> But notice he's still speaking about accepting vs questioning. It's
> very much about the danger of qushyos getting in the way of acceptance.
RCS is very much in line with what I recall about his grandson's
attitude. RAS never asked but always tried to explain scientific questions
in a reconciling matter. Mazikin as bacteria comes to mind. According
to RAS Talmudic science is as Emes as Haklachic or Hashkafic. It is for
us to understand rather than to question.
But the problem with forbidding questions is the impossibilty of the
mind to deny a question when it is raised. So such Issurim as the
one attributed to RCS do not make any sense to me, unless one is only
talking about raising the question "out loud". But the question remains
in the mind in any case. So the fear about raising doubt in the mind
of a believer is not eliminated merely by denying it's expression. In
fact the impermissiblity to even ask the question makes the likelihood
of doubt increaes.
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Date: Wed, 10 Nov 2004 11:46:15 -0500
From: "" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Reasoning With G-d
The recent discussion of curiousity, which led to the points about
asking shaylos, kushyos, or questioning the Torah, prompts me to share
with a drasha I presented recently. I wrote it up and it's entitled,
"Reasoning With G-d."
[See <http://www.aishdas.org/articles/reasoningWGd.htm>. -mi]
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Date: Wed, 10 Nov 2004 21:42:52 +0200
From: Daniel Eidensohn <email@example.com>
Subject: Questioning G-d
[R Zvi Lampel] firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
>The recent discussion of curiousity, which led to the points about
>asking shaylos, kushyos, or questioning the Torah, prompts me to share
>with a drasha I presented recently. I wrote it up and it's entitled,
>"Reasoning With G-d."
>[See <http://www.aishdas.org/articles/reasoningWGd.htm>. -mi]
The attitude of non questioning -- passive acceptance -- is curiously
absent in early sources such as Tanach (Akeida does present a problem).
In fact Tanach and medrashim seem more characterized by tzadikim
questioning and challenging G-d. It would seem that those who have a
genuine relationship with G-d will complain why Tattee is hurting them.
People who have a more distant relationship have learned to accept the
decree without complaining.
Taanis (23a): During a period of drought people asked Choni HaMagel
to pray for rain. He prayed and yet no rain fell. He then drew a circle
and stood within it in the same way that the prophet Chavakuk had done.
He said to G-d: Master of the Universe, Your children have come to me
because I am like a member of Your household. I swear by Your great name
that I will not move from here until You have mercy on Your children! A
small amount of rain started to fall. His students said to him: We look
to you to save us from death and this rain is only enough to release you
from your oath. Choni then proclaimed: This is not what I asked for ג"
I wanted rain strong enough to fill the cisterns, ditches and caves! A
violent rainstorm began with each drop the size of opening of a barrel...
His students said: We turned to you to save us from death but we think
that this rain will destroy the world. Choni then said to G-d: I didn't
ask for this type of rain but rather rain of blessing and bounty. Then
the rain started falling normally until all the Jews in Yerushalayim
were forced to go on the Temple mount because of the rain. His students
then said: Master, just as you prayed for rain to fall you should pray
for the rain to stop... He said to G-d: Master of the Universe: Your
people Whom You redeemed from Egypt are not able to endure either too
much good or too much bad... May it be Your will that the rain stop and
that there be relief for the world. Immediately the wind started to blow
and dispersed the clouds and the sun shone... R' Shimon ben Shetach sent
him a message. "If you weren't Choni, I would have placed you under the
ban... But what can I do to you since your relationship to G-d is like
a spoiled child before his father who grants all his wishes... The verse
of גLet your father and mother be glad and she that gave birth to you
rejoice' ג" applies to you.
Bereishis Rabbah (22:9): /The voice of your brother's blood cries to
Me from the ground/... R' Shimon bar Yochai said: The meaning of this
verse is difficult to say and the mouth can't state it clearly. It is
analogous to two athletes who were wrestling before the king. The king had
the power to separate them but he didn't and so one killed the other. The
victim cried out before he died "My cause should be pleaded before the
king." Thus the verse means that the blood cries out against G-d./
Ramban (Koheles page 193): The third issue implicit in Shlomo's
comments about the vanities of this world is the difficult matter which
is the source both of rebellion and faith. It was a major issue for
wise men of all nations and languages and it still a problem today. It
is the problem of the suffering of the righteous and the prosperity
of the wicked. Shlomo (Koheles 2:14-15): "But when I see the same fate
occurs to everyone I sometimes find it exceeding difficult... And I said
in my heart that which happens to the fool will also happen to me ג"
in what sense was I more wise and then I said in my heart this is also
vanities." In other words he had bad thoughts concerning this matter.
Shlomo continued to note how great a problem this was for him. Koheles
2:15): So I hated life because all effort seemed useless. This very same
issue was mentioned by his father Dovid or by Asaph in Tehilim(73:1):
/Surely G-d is good to Israel, even to such as are pure in heart.
/However he continues (Tehilim 73:2-3): /but as for me my feet were
almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped. For I was envious of the
arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. /This refers to the
problem of the wicked person who has tranquility. This also indicates
that he was bothered by the issue of why the righteous suffer. This can
be seen by his statement "I was envious of the arrogant". His envy of
the tranquility of the wicked was only because he was a tzadik and yet
he suffered greatly. When he states "my feet were almost gone", he is
indicated that the almost lost his faith in believing that G-d is good
to Israel. We see then that his contemplation led him to the verge of
two heresies...denial of the omniscience of G-d and denial of Divine
Providence for the individual...
Sanhedrin (44b) : When G-d said to Yechezkeil: Go and say to the
Jewish people your father was an Emorite and your mother was a Chittie,
an intercessory spirit [Gavriel] objected and said to G-d: "If Avraham
and Sarah came and stood before You would You say this to them and
embarrass them? You should chastise the Jews directly and not reveal
another's secret!" But does Gavriel have the right to be so insolent to
G-d? Yes. Gavriel has three names Pisakon, Itamon, and Sigaron. He is
called Pisakon because he argues against G-d; Itamon because he hides
the sins of the Jews and Sigaron because once he closes a matter no one
can open it.
Shoftim (6:1-14): And the people of Israel did evil in the eyes of
G-d and therefore He gave them into the hands of Midian for seven years.
... And the Jews were extremely destitute because of Midian and they cried
out to G-d. Because they cried out to G-d He sent a prophet to them. The
prophet said: This is what G-d said, "I brought you out of Egypt and I
delivered you from the house of slavery. I saved you from the hand of
the Egyptians and from the hand of those who oppressed you and I drove
them out before you and I gave you their land. I told you then that I am
the L-rd your G-d and you should not fear the gods of the Emori in whose
land you dwell -- but you have not listened to Me." Then an angel of G-d
came and sat under the terebinth...and Gidon was threshing wheat by the
winepress to hide it from the Midianites. The angel of G-d appeared to
him and said: "G-d is with you mighty man of valor". Gidon said to him:
"If G-d is with us then why has all this bad happened to us? Where are
all His miracles which our forefathers told us about? Didn't G-d take
us out of Egypt? But now He has deserted us and left us in the grasp of
Midian." And G-d looked at him and said: "Go in this your might and you
will save Israel from the hand of Midian ג" have I not sent you?"
Rashi (Shoftim 6:14): /And G-d looked upon him/. G-d himself. /With
this your might / With the might resulting from this merit that
you defended My children (the Jewish people).
Shalo h (Shemos Derech Chaim): G-d spoke harshly with Moshe because
he had criticized G-d by saying: Why have You made it worse by sending
me? That shows he questioned G-d's conduct. In response G-d said: It is
a shame about the loss of those that have not been forgotten (referring
to the Patriarchs who did not speak this way). Rashi expounds on this
issue. Therefore it is necessary for a person to be very careful not to
question G-d's actions concerning the good or bad He sends us. That is
because G-d is the true tzadik. Sometimes man thinks that something is
bad when in fact G-d thinks it is good.
Bamidbar Rabbah (18:12): Moshe said: This is the way you can know that
G-d has sent me...If these men die a natural death.. then G-d has not
sent me (Bamidbar 16:29). This verse can be understood with a parable. The
wedding assistant to the king's daughter had evidence that the bride was
a virgin. One of the wedding guests stood up and cursed the assistant
and said the king's daughter was not a virgin. The assistant went to
the king and told him: If you don't take care of this insult against you
and have this man executed publicly ג" then I will also say [believe]
that it is definite that the king's daughter was not a virgin. The king
then decided that is would better to execute the accuser than that the
assistant should slander his daughter. Korach challenged Moshe and said
that Moshe made up all the things that he had said. Moshe then said to
G-d: If these people die a natural death...then I will also become a
heretic and say that G-d has not sent me and that I made up everything
myself. There were three prophets who spoke in this manner -- Eliyahu,
Micha, and Moshe. Eliyahu said "Answer me G-d answer me so that the
people will know that You are G-d and if You don't answer me then I
will say that You are the one that corrupted them. Micha said to Achab:
If you return in peace even I will say that I am a false prophet.
Eicha Rabbah (3:13) :...why does a living man complain (Shmuel 2 3:39)?
It should be sufficient for him that he is alive.... This verse should
be understood as: Why is man complaining against G-d whose existence is
eternal. If a man wants to complain let him complain about his sins. R'
Yehuda HaNasi said: Jews are the descendants of complainers. G-d said
that after all the favors I showed to Adom he complained to Me and said
(Bereishis 3:12): This woman that You gave to me made me eat forbid
fruit of the tree. This is true also about Yaakov. I worked to make
his son the king of Egypt and yet he complained about Me saying: My
way is hid from G-d (Yeshaya 40:27). His descendants also acted the
same way. I worked to provide them a healthy diet so that none would
be troubled by indigestion and diarrhea. Nevertheless they complained
to Me about the manna and said (Bamidbar 21:5): Our soul is disgusted
with the unpleasant bread. Even Zion behaved this way (Yeshaya 49:14)
saying: G-d has forsaken me and G-d has forgotten me.
Rav Tzadok (Resisei HaLayla #49):.... Amalek is the manifestation of
chutzpah like a dog. They were not dissuaded even by the miracles of the
splitting of the Sea and the power of the Jewish people and insisted on
attacking them... This particular attribute of chutzpah was also implanted
in the Jewish people because it would not have survived without it.
However they only utilized it according to the will of G-d. While the
power of chutzpah is said to work against Heaven (Sanhedrin 105a) as we
find with Bilaam (who is also Amalek) ג" but this is only a temporary
effect in the mundane world. Just as we find that Bilaam through his
chutzpah was allowed to travel. However in the end it didn't help him
at all -- in fact it was to his detriment -- and he was forced to bless
the Jews. However while this is not a genuine benefit but there is still
such a power as long as Amalek exists. While it might appear that chutzpah
towards Heaven might have a genuine impact as we see (Moed Koton 16b) that
a tzadik can nullify G-d's decree and there are those who were impudent
towards Heaven (Berachos 31b) ג" it is really not so. In reality in
relationship to Jews there is actually no chutzpah because G-d in fact
desires to be defeated by His children. Tzadikim in fact rely on this
fact when they act "insolently" because it is only the appearance of
insolence but in fact G-d desires and longs for the appropriate tzadik to
nullify His decrees and to defeat Him in every manner possible. This is
not true concerning the nations of the world since their chutzpah is in
fact the opposite of G-d's actual will. Thus their behavior constitutes
genuine chutzpah against G-d and it doesn't contain any good at all in
contrast to what is implanted in the heart of Israel...
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Date: Thu, 11 Nov 2004 00:49:55 -0500
From: "Michael Frankel" <email@example.com>
Subject: Re Sanhedrin Stuff
R' Zvi Lampel:
> Sorry (and embarrassed) about my loose and lazy usage of "Talmud" to
> refer to the passage in Megillas Ta'anis. Megillas Ta'anis (10) reads:
> "On the 28th of Teves the Gathering [in the Lishkas HaGazis] returned to
> its proper standard (yasiva b'knishta al deenah). ["Gemora":] For when
> the Saducees were sitting...Shimon ben Shetach said to them, 'Whoever can
> bring a proof from the Torah will be fit to sit in the Sanhedrin... the
> next day he was too embarrassed to come, and Shimon ben Shetach replaced
> him with one of his [(Shimon's)] talmidim. Thus he would do day in and
> day out, until they [the Saducees] were all removed,...And that day they
> made a yom tov."
> You write,
>> It is only mentioned in the "gemora" to an otherwise obscure
>> reference in mgilas taanis composed at least 600 years after the events in
>> question... -- though the elaborated tale describing how shimon b. shetach
>> set them a task which they failed etc. is undoubtedly an embellishment.
>> "Obscure"? Why? Reads quite clearly, in my opinion. Obscure in the sense
>> of not widely known? Why, even I knew about it! "Composed 600 years after
>> the event"? So? All events and statements from Mattan Torah until then
>> took place an even longer time before their having been recorded in the
>> tannaitic works! Is this supposed to cast an aspersion on the record in
>> Megillas Ta'anis, a source the Talmud holds in high...
You misunderstand. It is not the scholion ("g'moroh') to ta'anis which
is obscure -- that indeed is quite clear. It is Ta'anis itself that
is obscure -- indeed uninterpretable in this instance without this 600
year later expansion. And while ta'anis is indeed held in high regard
-- after all we wouldn't have chanukoh or purim without it -- there is
no similar endorsement from chazal for the post-chazal "g'moroh", so
to talk of "talmudically accepted tannaitic/amoraic records of events"
is to reference that which simply doesn't exist.
[R' Zvi Lampel:]
> "Nevertheless... undoubtedly true... undoubtedly an embellishment"? What
> kind of talk is this regarding talmudically accepted tannaitic/amoraic
> records of events?
as I have already pointed out -- this is NOT a talmudic/amoraic statement
or record. However even if it were you would still be wrong for at least
two different reasons. the first is methodological. it is simply not true
that a talmudic record of events must be accepted as religious obligation
to be factually incontestable. chazal had little interest in history per
se and talmud was never meant to be an accurate history book. examples
abound, starting with the "missing" 165 years in chazalic historiography,
to midrashic and aggadic expositions and assertions. it is reasonable
to suppose that statements made by chazal that don't conform to other
evidence or reason are either misunderstood, or may simply be repetitions
of then common wisdom, challengeable by future generations -- somewhat
like their medical pronouncements per R. Hai Gaon's understanding.
the second reason is more specific to this particular issue. even if we
accept that shimon b. shetach managed to rid the sanhedrin of tz'duqim
on that occasion (i do. it's reasonable given the new queen's political
lean towards p'rushim), there is no talmudic record at all, i.e. both the
talmud and ta'anis simply doesn't address the permanence of that eviction,
while political leanings and realities of later hashmonoian rulers --
and external references -- would suggest they returned quite speedily.
as for the details of the expulsion -- the extended story of the saducees
voluntarily quitting one by one out of intellectual inadequacy -- lacks
internal credibility to me and appears in no talmudic source, but you
are free to believe the tale if you wish, while i shall consider it an
R' Zvi Lampel:
> You continue,
>> But bain kakh uvain kakh, there is absolutely no reason to think that
>> their estrangement from the Sanhedrin was anything but temporary,... And
>> there is reason to think otherwise.
> I had asked for evidence for your assertion, phrased as plain fact, that
> the Sanhedrin "had representation from groups other than the A-team,
> notably including Saducees, who only disappear as an organized element
> in the Sanhedrin and elsewhere with in the yavneh era." A clear passage
> from a braiisa or mishna or gemora (or Josephus, etc.) would be examples
> of evidence. "No reason to think otherwise," without such support,
> is not evidence.
Oh. well, if Josephus is OK, consider Antiquities XX200 (sorry, not
Whiston. i think Loeb) where it is explicit that Josephus is describing
a sanhedrin convened by a saducee cohen, or Antiquities XIV175 which
recounts herod's murder of all members of the sanhedrin with the exception
of one pharisee -- implying the existence of non-pharisee members, or the
parallel account in XV6 where the sanhederin members killed were fourty
five members of antigonus' party. the latter party known for tz"duqi
membership and in any event a separate grouping than the pharisees.
R' Zvi Lampel:
> Until hard evidence is brought, the suggestion that the Sanhedrins of
> Sh'maya and Avtalyon, and Hillel and Shammai, as well as any preceding
> or later ones, would sit together in judgement on dinei d'oraissa
> and dinei d'rabbanon, Torah sheh-bichsav and Torah sheh-b'ahl peh,
> with the despised and doctrinatedly-opposed Saducees, discussing and
> voting with them as equals of the 71-member body, is weird enough "to
> think otherwise." Indeed, a scholarly ben Torah's proclivity should be
> to seek unweird ways to understand any sources that may seem to suggest
> such an idea, and/or scrutinize them carefully.
It is indeed a bit weird to consider thsat saducees participated with
pharisees in settling machloqes, especially regarding a torah she'b'al
peh in which they didn't believe. i have no solid answer to this. perhaps
these religious matters were handled solely by a pharisee sub-committee,
or perhaps the saducees were forced to defer in such religious matters
to the pharisees because of the support of the populace -- much as
we know did occur with regards to the temple service executed by the
saducees. but i really don't know, this is just conjecture on my part.
R' Zvi Lampel
> There is no good reason to conjecture, not to mention concoct,
> sensationalist and grotesque understandings of things when an orthodox
> way of explaining them is plausible, not to mention probable.
As I have explained there is in fact good reason to so conjecture. And
I repeat the reasons below. I doubt that I will convince anyone who will
dismissively reject evidence that doesn't suit pre -- conceptions. I.e. we
shall never be able to achieve the standard of "hard" evidence.
R' Zvi Lampel
>> Allon notes various "hints" in Talmudic memory of the presence of
>> saducess -- e.g Sanhedrin 52 which records an incident where a woman
>> was put to death according to the saducee interpretation of the arboh
>> misos bais din..
> Sanhedrin 52b does not refer to a "Saducee DOMINATED bes din," ..It
> speaks of a Saducee bes din .. There were Roman government courts,
> and Saducees set up theirown courts (twice usurping the locale of the
> Sanhdrin), and when they had the power they inflicted their decisions on
> unfortunate women and others--.. The often corrupt, government-appointed
> High Priest might have headed the Roman government's Supreme Court of
> over the Land of Israel, which promulgated state (not Torah) decisions,
> and Pharisees might have participated in these courts-
I'm afraid that's just making stuff up. the Roman govt's supreme
court over the land of israel in which pharisees and saducees did sit
together which no one else has heard about, rather than the sanhedrin
which everyone has heard about and which external sources populate with
both pharisees and saducees? think occam's razor here.
R' Zvi Lampel
> -much as Rav Shamshon Raphael Hirsch participated in the Austrian
> Parliament--but these were not the Torah courts that determined the
> mesorah of Sinai and were kovei'a halachah for Am Yisroel l'doray
> doros. In other words, the Sanhedrin b'm'komo was either 100 per cent
> Saducee (twice in history) or 100 per cent Chochmei Torah, except for
> the period in which Shimon ben Shetach was strategically replacing the
> Saducees, one by one, with chochmei Torah.
RSRH didn't participate in the austrian parliament. for that matter
he didn't participate in the german parliament either which might have
been more feasible since he lived in germany and was a german citizen.
the notion that the sanhedrin was either 100% saducee, precisely twice,
or 100% pharisee the rest of the time, is simply an unfounded assertion.
R' Zvi Lampel
> There is every reason to repudiate the idea that the Tannaim was
> participate in Saducee-membered courts if such courts would claim to be
> Torah courts. (See R. R. Margolios, Y'sod HaMishnah V'Arichasah, p. 9 note
> 9, and the chapter of R. Y.I. HaLevy Rabinowitz's Doros HaRishonim.)
I do not know why you've mentioned R. Margolis, since he sheds little
light on any of this. the footnote to which you refer (which BTW is
found on p.7, not p.9) discusses shimon hatz'Tzadiq, and the anshei
kneses haggidoloh, not shimon b. shetach and the sanhedrin. i don't
have a doros horishonim handy to check his discussion of this matter. he
was certainly a serious historian, but in an apologetic mode - i.e. he
was the only historian acceptable to the yeshiva crowd and looked on
as their anti-Graetz, and approached material with the bias that the
received tradition was almost always accurate history. he's also a bit
out of date around a century later. however, he was probably also the
last serious charedi historian.
But as long as you mention historians, let me mention the practically
universal consensus amongst professional historians that pharisees and
saducees did sit together in sanhedrin (yes, after SBS "expelled" them).
while i realize that counts for very little with some, especially
since the vast majority are non-frum (or non-jewish) and thus ab initio
ignorable, a quick search did unearth at least one frum historian -L
Schiffman - who also asserts the same thing (in a book "From Text to
Tradition A History of 2nd temple and Rabbinic Judaism: " though hre
doesn't articulate his reasons for such a conclusion. presumably they
are the same as everyone else's.
R' Zvi Lampel:
>> ...that references to a cohen representation does not automatically
>> mean saducees, but it is nevertheless suggestive.
>It is suggestive of > Allon being very chimerical
R' Zvi Lampel:
> but ignorant of theTorah's recommendation for the Sanhedrin to include
> Kohanim and Leviim asmembers of the Sanhedrin (Sifray Parshas Shoftim,
> 10): "'And you ..Unless Allon maintains that the Sifray requires a
> Saduceepresence in the Sanhedrin!
It is amusing to read the suggestion in this forum that Allon --
a talmid of slabodka in its glory who, as a historian, was justly
celebrated for his command of talmudic halochoh and its application to
historical research -- was "ignorant of the Torah's recommendation for
the Sanhedrin to contain Kohanim..". it is rather Allon's understanding
that the sifrei is remembering an earlier composition of the Sanhedrin.
R' Zvi Lampel:
>> But beyond the Talmud, there are also ..references to saducees in
>> .. Sanhedrin in both josephus and early Christian literature.
> Cite sources, please, with quotes (with those from Josephus preferablyfrom
> Whiston translation). If they are the ones the Doros HaRishonimquotes
> Sherer, Konen, et al as citing (e.g., Josephus stating thatHyrcanus
> attended Herodus' trial, or Christian sources using the term"Sanhedrin"
> loosely--sort of like calling Megillas Ta'anis part of theTalmud), they
> are, R. Rabinowitz shows, as feeble as Allon's "suggestive""evidence"
> from the tosefta about Kohanim and Leviim.
I've already cited Josephus source above, and no, I didn't bother citing
the source describing Herod's trial before the sanhedrin. There is a
methodological divide here that I doubt will be bridged, but let me lay
out the issue anyway. I have already referenced Josephus above. while I
don't know which Christian sources HalLevy cites, Christian references to
the sanhedrin are quite famous. but the methodological question is what
to do with them. Your answer (and HalLevi's?) -- based, at least so it
seems to me, on the congeniality of the result -- is that such sources
use the term "loosely". I.e. sure they described a different Sanhedrin
reality then you expect, and therefore it must be they are talking about
Let me briefly summarize the reasons for thinking that S&P served
simultaneously in Sanhedrin for much of its pre-Churbon history (after
which the Ss disappear from history's stage).
2. Non-jewish- christian - external sources explicitly describe that to
be the case.
3. The Talmud contains numerous references to Kohanic activity in bais din
-- this is suggestive rather than explicit and traditional commentary
has other means of explaining such references. But in context with
the previous points it is consistent.
4. a jewish source -- the scholion m'gilas ta'anis -- explicitly records
a tradition of saducees in Sanhedrin at some point.
5. no jewish source -- including the scholion to ta'anis which celebrates
their one time removal -- suggests that saducees were not part of the
Sanhedrin. they are rather ignored.
So -- you've got explicit references by contemporary eyewitnesses
to their inclusion. The eyewitnesses have few axes to grind (the
christians probably despised the p'rushim as much as the tz'duqim) in
this matter and trhe references are kind of in the maisiach l'fi sumo
mode which enhances their intrinsic credibility. You've got nothing at
all contradicting that -- except outrage that the facts could be as this
line of reaaoning suggests.
that's a little long, but now i'm outta here.
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