Avodah Mailing List

Volume 14 : Number 031

Monday, November 22 2004

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Sat, 20 Nov 2004 20:00:12 -0700
From: "Jonathan Zuess" <jgzuessmd@cox.net>
Re: An Orthodox Conservative Rabbi?

MYG said:
>My gut feeling is that these days, with conservative judaism being not
>merely "Orthodox Lite" (as it may have been considered fifty years ago),
>but an inconsistant blob of contradictory beliefs, of which every member
>is free to choose as he/she wishes, any rabbi associating with it is
>cutting himself off from Klal Yisroel. I don't have a proof to this
>contention, which is why I put it out to y'all.

It seems to me that if we are going to have biases in our feelings and
reasoning, they should be toward kindness and giving people the benefit
of the doubt, rather than searching for justifications for excluding
them from Judaism.

>...an inconsistant blob of contradictory beliefs, of which every member
>is free to choose as he/she wishes,...

Conservatism holds that members must follow the rulings of their local

>...any rabbi associating with it is cutting himself off from Klal

Who is trying to cut who off from Klal Yisroel here? 


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Date: Sat, 20 Nov 2004 19:48:50 -0500
From: "Yosef Gavriel & Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <ygb@aishdas.org>
Re: Asking questions

The entire story purportedly in the name of Reb Chaim is preposterous
(and I am great fan of Rav Zevin!). I think it is assur to believe that it
is true. R' Yosef Engel in the Tziyunim la'Torah has a very nice siman
on what we do with shnei kesuvim ha'machishim zeh es zeh when there
is no kasuv ha'shelishi le'hachria beinehem - such as Pesachim 68 with
La'Hashem and Lachem.


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Date: Sat, 20 Nov 2004 21:36:54 -0500
From: "MYG" <mslatfatf@access4less.net>
Re: An Orthodox Conservative Rabbi?

R' Jonathan Zuess:
> We should not assume he denies Torah min hashamayim. A range of positions
> on revelation are espoused by Conservative thinkers; see for example "Emet
> Ve-Emunah: Statement of Principles of Conservative Judaism." Generally,
> right-wing Conservatism holds views that are the same as some Orthodox
> positions.

> The "in some form" refered to the fact that few of us believe in the
> ikkarim the way the Rambam meant them. And none of us (AFAIK) hold that
> one must believe in them exactly as presented by the Rambam in order to
> be within the fold.
> We all believe in the ikkarim only in "some form". It's a matter of
> pesaq to define the limits of that form. Just as with many other
> mitzvos, even if the core din is accepted by all, there are gray areas
> around the edge.

Granted - but, let's put it this way: Conservative judaism believes that
a wide spectrum of beliefs (many - possibly most - incompatible with
O Judaism) are legitimate. (For many examples, see "Emet Ve-Emunah:
Statement of Principles of Conservative Judaism.") Is a rabbi who
idenifies with this movement out of the pale? Notwithstanding his own
(possible) belief in Torah min hashamayim and some form of the 13 ikkarim
(or R' Yosef Albo's version of the ikkarim, etc.)? Are we obligated to
judge him favorably - that he does believe in the 13 ikkarim, etc. -
because he considers himself O? I think not. It seems to me that the
fact that he legitimizes conservative judaism - which as a movement is
antithetical to the 13 ikkarim - shows that he does not believe in the
13 ikkarim, irrespective of his professed Orthodoxy.

Kol tuv,
Moshe Y. Gluck

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Date: Sat, 20 Nov 2004 23:39:06 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Choni HaMagel vs. Musar masters

On Wed, Nov 17, 2004 at 01:34:58PM -0500, Avroham Yakov wrote:
: In the gemora about Choni HaMagel, he awakes after a 70 years slumber,
: finds he has no friends, then states: Chevrusa o'Mesusa.

: There are stories of Hasidic and musar masters who all they wanted was
: solitude to learn.

: Choni was at least as great as those people, so why would Choni want
: to die?

I would propose an answer similar, but not identical to, RDE's brothers.

One approach to neziros is that it's a useful means, but not an ideal
state. Thus the qorban chatas brought by the nazir at the end of his

In the ideal, the person learns how to properly use the item, making
it a tool rather than something he needs to avoid.

In this perspective, asceticism for a short time can be useful in
disentangling oneself from things that pose challenges one isn't
ready for. This is also Mesilas Yesharim's approach to perishus.

Choni haMagal's aloneness had no end. It was not a finite period of
clarity in preparation for returning to face the issue anew.

Gut Voch!

Micha Berger             I slept and dreamt that life was joy.
micha@aishdas.org        I awoke and found that life was duty.
http://www.aishdas.org   I worked and, behold -- duty is joy.
Fax: (270) 514-1507                        - Rabindranath Tagore

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Date: Sat, 20 Nov 2004 22:08:41 -0700
From: "Jonathan Zuess" <jgzuessmd@cox.net>
Re: An Orthodox Conservative Rabbi?

>Are we obligated to judge him favorably - that he does believe in the 13
>ikkarim, etc. - because he considers himself O?

It seems to me we are obligated to judge him favorably, in any case. We do
not know what he believes, and there is clearly room for the possibility
of assuming it is favorable. I would also point out that even if we
assume he is an apikorus, we actually don't have permission to speak
about our negative judgments publicly. The permissibility to speak
against an apikorus applies if one heard words of heresy directly from an
individual. However, if he heard the heresy second hand, he is forbidden
to speak against the person, whether in his presence or behind his
back. Rather, he should suspect the person as an apikorus, and also warn
others to stay away from him until the matter is clarified. Further, he
should not believe in his heart that the information is true, according to
the laws against accepting Lashon Hara. (Thanks to Torah.org's adaptation
of Chafetz Chaim)

Shavuah Tov,

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Date: Sun, 21 Nov 2004 11:29:25 -0500
From: Mlevinmd@aol.com
An Orthodox Conservative Rabbi?

I once saw a discussion somewhere that tried to relate the question
of whether it is permitted for an O scholar to teach in the JTS to the
question and historical precedents of Austritt. The claim was that if
you follow the model that it is OK to belong to a diverse comunity that
honors O needs, as per Wutzburger Rov, R. E. Hildesheimer etc, it is OK
to teach in the seminary, which is a communal insitution.

I think that the argument is disingenuious. It seems to me that even
l'shitosom, the issue depends on the amount and clarity of kfirah in
the constitution or bylaws of the shul or seminary. I would think that
even an appearance of belonging to a group that not only tolerates but
actually identifies with k'firah is forbidden. The issue of Austritt is
different - is it permitted to belong to a community that specifically
does not identify with a particular ideology, including teh correct one.

M. Levin

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Date: Sun, 21 Nov 2004 04:35:41 -0800 (PST)
From: Harry Maryles <hmaryles@yahoo.com>
Re: Torah and Science

Akiva Atwood <akiva.atwood@gmail.com> wrote:
> From: Harry Maryles <hmaryles@yahoo.com>
>> This definition comes closer to what I have been saying. Something
>> known to have happened. But where do you see "facts" mentioned in this
>> definition? It isn't. One can "know" something happened without empirical
>> facts. The Mabul comes to mind. Perhaps someday we will be able to prove
>> through the discovery of facts that it happened but presently the facts
>> seem to point in the opposite direction. Yet we still know it is true.

> That's not "knowing" -- that's "believing".
> The two are not the same.

This sounds like a whole new thread. Is believing the same as knowing
or not? Is there a difference theologically between knowing and
believing? If, as you indicate, they are not the same... does that mean
that a "believer" is less of a Maamin than a "knower". Or is it OK to
say that one does not know the He exists but believes "B'Emunah Shelaima
that He does? Is Emunah Shelaimah the same as knowing?


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Date: Sun, 21 Nov 2004 15:26:33 +0100
From: "Schoemann, Danny (Danny)** CTR **" <schoemann@lucent.com>
Re: Two observations in a beis olam

From: "Zev Sero" <zev@sero.name>
> I assume the same arrangement would also allow someone to carry in the
> street on shabbat. At least, I know the human mechitzah works on shabbat,
> and offhand I can't think of a reason why the box wouldn't work; driving
> is obviously not a practical solution.

1. A human mechitza is discussed in OC 362:5, 6 and 7.
It can be done, though ALL the people involved must be unaware that they
are being used as walls.
The RMO doesn't like it except in emergencies, to the extent he prefers
using a koton to carry rather than creating a human mechitza. (See the MB
44 ibid for major restrictions, as using a koton is highly problematic.)

2. I can't see how a box would be good for Shabbat, since you'd be
doing akira and hanacha every time you lifted and put down the box. (See
OC 347.)
In 345:6 it clearly says that inside a box (4 x 4 amos) is a reshus
hayachid. Nobody seems to mention moving a box while inside it.

 - Danny

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Date: Sun, 21 Nov 2004 10:01:30 -0500
From: Shaya Potter <spotter@yucs.org>
Re: Torah and science

On Fri, 2004-11-19 at 14:58 -0500, Zev Sero wrote:
> At the risk of boring everyone, let me repeat myself. As I see it, the
> key insight here is "ve'ein tzayar keilokeinu". G-d is an artist, and
> this world is a work of art. What's more, I posit that He is a realist,
> and thus made a plausible world, a world that not only runs by certain
> physical laws, but appears in every way consistent with those laws.
> The Supreme Artist bothered to make everything look real, not just on the
> surface but everywhere, and put in convincing details to add to the sense
> of realism. And then He told us what He did, and signed His Name to His
> work, 3314.5 years ago at Mt Sinai (and before that, in visions He granted
> to Adam, Noach, the Avot, etc.), so it is unfair to call Him a liar, any
> more than an actor is a liar for not breaking character while on stage.

again, this argument is lacking. The only reason this is realistic to us,
is because it exists. If it didn't exist, it would be just as realistic
to us.

or to put it bluntly, the world must have been very non realistic to
people who didnt know about fossils.

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Date: Sun, 21 Nov 2004 12:40:42 EST
From: Zeliglaw@aol.com
Re: Requesting this list to list machshava classics

> Requesting this List to List Machshava Classics

FWIW, here are a few suggestions:
1) Ramban on Chumash
2) Sefer HaChinuch
3) Nefesh HaChaim, especially Shaar Daled
4) Rambam, Hakdamah LiMishneh Torah, Shemoneh Prakim and Hakdamah
LePerush HaMishnah and Sefer Mada of Mishna Torah
5) Hakdamah of Netziv to HaEmek Shelaeh- re fluid nature of TSBP,
portions of Meshech Chachmah
6) Haggadah Shel Pesach
7) Pirkei Avos
8) Sifre Chasidus- Nesivos Shalom
9) Sifrei Mussar- Alei Shor
10) Essays and articles by RYBS, R Hutner , RAYHK and REED

Steve Brizel

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Date: Sun, 21 Nov 2004 12:54:22 -0500
From: "Yosef Gavriel & Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <ygb@aishdas.org>
Re: An Orthodox Conservative Rabbi?

At 12:08 AM 11/21/2004, [R' Jonathan Zuess] wrote:
>> Are we obligated to judge him favorably - that he does believe in the 13
>> ikkarim, etc. - because he considers himself O?

>It seems to me we are obligated to judge him favorably, in any case. We do
>not know what he believes, and there is clearly room for the possibility
>of assuming it is favorable. I would also point out that even if we
>assume he is an apikorus, we actually don't have permission to speak
>about our negative judgments publicly....

I doubt there is a *chiyuv* to be dan a rabbi who is currently
serving in a conservative temple l'kaf zechus - kol ha'mechubar
l'tamei tamei. A good place to find this evinced is in Conservative
Rabbi Jeremy Kalmanofsky's analysis of the status of CR's at:
entitled: "Amen and amen: blessings of a heretic - like me"

for example, note 30:

(30.) For instance, see the stinging comments of the recently deceased
Rabbi Aaron Soloveitchik, "On the Matter of Conservative Weddings,"
HaPardes 61.2, #5, pp. 8-19. R. Soloveitchik, scion of the great
Lithuanian scholarly family and brother of modem Orthodox giant R. Joseph
Soloveitchik, takes a more nuanced approach than R. Feinstein, yet arrives
at similar conclusions. "If one were a Conservative Rabbi who believed in
the Written Torah and Oral Torah with complete faith and kept all mitzvot
with precision, both the major and the minor (if we can posit that such
a strange thing is possible) and if he were a great scholar and expert
in Talmud and Codes; since he is a rabbi of a Conservative synagogue,
and a member of the Conservative movement, even this person would be
unfit to judge and to be a member of a rabbinical court, such as for
conversion" (p.18). Rabbi Soloveitchik bases this unforgiving ruling on
B. Sanhedrin 26a, where it is stated that one who joins "a confederation
of the wicked" cannot judge . "Even if a Conservative rabbi is a great
scholar and keeper of mitzvot and exemplar of proper ethical conduct,
he is part of a confederation of traitors," he concludes.


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Date: Sun, 21 Nov 2004 14:14:52 -0500
From: "Yosef Gavriel & Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <ygb@aishdas.org>
Re: Requesting this list to list machshava classics

At 12:40 PM 11/21/2004, [R' Steve Brizel <Zeliglaw@aol.com>] wrote:
>> Requesting this List to List Machshava Classics
>FWIW, here are a few suggestions:
>3) Nefesh HaChaim, especially Shaar Daled
>10) Essays and articles by RYBS, R Hutner , RAYHK and REED

I do not think works by RYBS can be classified as machashava, and most
works by RAYHK are practically unintelligible to the uninitiated.

MME and Ohr Gedalyahu are the best basic machashava tracts; ultimately,
however, there is no excuse not to get to Reb Tzadok and the Maharal. The
greatest ba'al machashava alive today is probably R' Shlomo Fischer.

[Email #2. -mi]

Oh, one more thing - the fourth shaar of NhC is a waste of time,
machashava wise - it's all about how great it is to learn and be
mechaddesh, period. It's the first three she'arim that are actually
true machashava.


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Date: Sun, 21 Nov 2004 23:16:13 -0500
From: Russell Levy <russlevy@gmail.com>
Orthodox rabbis, Conservative shuls

I was personally told by a rabbi who sits on the Toronto beis din
that he will accept geirus of a man (enough to perform an O chasunah)
performed by certain C rabbis in the city (who have C ordination from
JTS in the past 20 years). He claimed he was able to because he knew how
the rabbis live their personal lives. I didn't really understand this,
since just before that he was telling many stories about the Rav and
his non-acceptance of the C movement.

He was unable to answer me to give me any sort of clear answer how he
could he consider these C rabbis be kosher if they talk into a microphone,
officiate at one, and daven in it, while still use the Rav's view of
the C movement.

L'ma'aseh, here in Toronto there are O rabbis who find some C rabbis
'acceptable' despite having only C ordination.

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Date: Mon, 22 Nov 2004 03:58:58 -0800 (PST)
From: Harry Maryles <hmaryles@yahoo.com>
Re: An Orthodox Conservative Rabbi?

I think it should be stated at this point that eventhough RAS condemend
even the "Frummest and "most knowledgeable" of Jews as being apostate
even by their mere connnection as official rabbis in the C movement,
he did not apply that standard to the "Tradional movement" rabbi
who held pulpits that did not have Mechitzos and used microphones on
Shabbos. Additionally RAS had very good relationships with some C rabbis.


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Date: Mon, 22 Nov 2004 09:21:09 -0500
From: "Shinnar, Meir" <Meir.Shinnar@rwjuh.edu>
Re: Orthodox Conservative Rabbi

It is well known that Rav Moshe Feinstein was vehemently opposed to the
Conservative movement, and to their rabbis. Furthermore, he ruled that
weddings done by Conservative rabbishave the hazaka of not being kosher,
and thus not requiring, at least bdiavad, if not lecatchila, a get.
However, it has also been documented here that when confronted with
an individual case where the Conservative rabbi was known to be shomer
mitzvot, he viewed the wedding as valid, and therefore requiring a get.
Therefore, at least RMF seemed to hold of the possibility of non trafe
Conservative rabbis. I would add that being a rav of a Conservative shul
implies anything else about hashkafa and psak other than that certain
practices are at the least muttar bdiavad is empirically wrong - the
spectrum of belief and practice ranges all over the place.

WRT to the place of ikkarim, I ran across a citation from the chatam
sofer where he disputes that the principle of emunah in mashiach should
be an ikkar - it is in hazal, and therefore we should believe it, but it
shouldn't be considered an ikkar. I will try to get the precise citation.

Meir Shinnar

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Date: Mon, 22 Nov 2004 10:18:51 -0500
From: "" <hlampel@thejnet.com>
Sanhedrin Stuff

chi-mer-i-cal (kahy mer'i kl-) 
[[CHIMER(A) + -ICAL]] 
1	imaginary; fantastic; unreal 
2	absurd; impossible 
3	indulging in unrealistic fancies; visionary Also chi-mer'ic 

(Webster's New World Dictionary and Thesaurus)

R. Mechy Frankel asserted, 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 within the yavneh era."

The Talmud and Megillas Taanis with its scholion mention no such
phenonenon. During the time that the Sanhedrin was not abolished by Rome
(Sota 48a) there were two occurences of a Saducee-usurped Sanhedrin--one
in the days of Shimon ben Shetach (scholion of Megilllas Taanis:
"and not one of yisrael sat with them"), and one near the days of the
churban (Sanhedrin 52b, "it was a Saducee sanhedrin,"--not, as claimed,
a Saducee "dominated" Sanhedrin), but never of a Sanhedrin whose 71
or so members consisted of both Pharisees and Saducees, except for
during the period that Shimon ben Shetach was strategically replacing
the Saducees with chochmei Yisroel (during which time we can be certain
that no Torah-matters were decided upon.)

When I asked Mechy for clear evidence for the weird scenario of our
Chochmei HaTorah participating with Saducees in determining and voting
on the ratzon Hashem, for fulfilling Toras Moshe and its mitzvos, he
originally replied that since the Saducee-Hashmonaim were in charge,
there is "no reason to think otherwise." When I pressed him for real
evidence from a braiisa or mishna or gemora (or Josephus, etc.),
R. Frankel responded (11 Nov. 2004):
> Oh. well, if Josephus is OK, consider Antiquities XX200... 

So I look up Antiquities XX199-XX200, which reads,
"but this younger Ananus, who, as we have told you already, took the high
priesthood, was a bold man in his temper, and very insolent; he was also
of the sect of the Sadduccees, who are very rigid in judging offenders
above all the rest of the Jews, as we have already observed. When,
therefore, Ananus was of this disposition, he thought he had now a proper
opportunity: Festus [the previous Roman procurator--ZL] was dead, and
Albinus [the newly appointed one--ZL] was but on the road [and not yet in
the area, to stop him from his plans--ZL]. So he assembled the sanhedrin
of judges, and...when he had formed an accusation against the [men he
wished to punish] as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned"

This passage R. Frankel characterizes as:
"Antiquities XX200, where it is explicit that Josephus is describing a
sanhedrin convened by a saducee cohen," to prove that the judges of the
Torah Sanhedrin consisted of both Pharisees and Saducees.

Huh? Hyrcanus, the Saducee High Priest, arranges for a sanhedrin
to convene; therefore the sanhedrin was made up of Pharisees and
Saducees?? And if Herod would have convened a sanhedrin, would that
indicate that the sandedrin included Edomeans?

R. Frankel offers a second source from Josephus that forces him to
abandon the traditional, talmudic scenario, to say instead that the
Sanhedrin consisted of Pharisees sitting together with the despised and
doctrinally opposed Saducees: Antiquities XIV175.

So I look up Antiquities XIV175, which reads,
"...when Herod had received the kingdom, he slew all the members of this
sanhedrin, and Hyrcanus himself [the Saducee High Priest, who under popular
pressure brought Herod to trial], also, excepting Sameas [Shammai (although
some say Shemaya)--ZL].

This passage, R. Frankel says, 
"recounts herod's murder of all members of the sanhedrin with the
exception of one pharisee--implying the existence of non-pharisee members"

Again, huh? Had the passage at least mentioned the word "pharisee" in
describing Shammai, there may be some excuse for such a "diyyuk." But
as it stands, there is not a scintilla of evidence for the conclusion
that even one Saducee sat in this court with Shammai--as if Shammai,
with all we know of his degree of tolerance for deniers of the Oral Law,
and who in this very passage demonstrates his abhorrence of timidity in
carrying out justice--would sit together in judgement with any of them.

The third Josephus passage R. Frankel brings as evidence is “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.”

Forty-five Saducee members of the 71 (or 72) members of the Sanhedrin
would put them in the /majority/ of the Sanhedrin. Quite an interesting
assemblage to determine our mesorah. One wonders why they didn't nullify
the practice of nissuch hamayyim there and then.--Hyrcanus could even
have had his cronies vote out the essrog as the "pri eitz haddar,"
substituting some softer fruit, to save himself from future pain. So I
look up that passage. The sentences beofre it (Ant. XV2-5) read:

"And since Herod now had the government of all Judea put into his hands,
he...never left off avenging and punishing every day those that had
chosen to be of the party of his enemies [the Chasmonaim and then (Bava
Bassra 3b) the Torah Sages--ZL], but Pollio the Pharisee, and Sameas,
a disciple of his, were honored by him above all the rest; for when
Jerusalem was beseiged, they advised the citizens to receive Herod;
for which advice they were well requited."

R. Frankel's passage, Ant. XV6 continues:
"...He[rod] also slew forty-five of the principal men of Antigonus's

So, how does one conclude that Josephus says "the sanhederin members
killed were fourty-five members of antigonus' party"?

So, honest thinker that I am, I figure, Mechy must have another girsa
of Josephus than I. So, fortunate enough to have been connected up
by R. M. Feldman with his father, Dr. Louis H. Feldman, I query the
expert. (Dr. Louis H. Feldman is professor of classics and literature at
Yeshiva University, author of 164 articles and eleven books, including
Josephus and Modern Scholarship, 1937-1980 (1984), Jew and Gentile in
the Ancient World [Princeton University Press, 1993] and Josephus's
Interpretation of the Bible [University of California Press, 1998], and
is the recipient of the 2003 Cultural Achievement Award for Scholarship
in Textual Studies from the National Foundation for Jewish Culture.--He
also earns my respect because he supports my position.)

I write Dr. Feldman,

Antiquities XIV 175 has been cited as saying that Herod murdered all the
members of the Sanhedrin "with the exception of one Pharisee"--implying
the existence of non-Pharisee members. The Whiston translation reads only,
"...he slew all the members of this sanhedrin, and Hycanus also, excepting
Sameas," which, of course, does not make the implication claimed.

Similarly, Ant. XV 6 was cited to show that the 45 members of Antigonus'
party murdered by Herod were members of the sanhedrin, whereas Whiston's
translation reads only, "He also slew forty-five of the principal men
of Antigonus's party..." with no mention of the Sanhedrin.

Would Whiston, a Christian-turned Arian, who supported the Jesus passages
in Josephus, have any interest in censoring mention of a simultaneous
Saducee membership with Pharisees in the Sanhedrin? Or some other editor
of this translation published by Thomas Nelson Publishers? So, maybe
there are shinui nuscha'os in the Greek? [(I had asked Dr. Feldman this
also in connection to Josephus' calling an essrog a "perseia," which I
hope to talk about in another posting)]

To which Dr. Feldman replied,

The correct translation of Ant. 14.175 is " For Herod, having assumed
the kingship, killed all those in the Sanhedrin, and Hyrcanus himself,
except for Samaios." There is no mention of the word "Pharisee." There
is no alternate reading containing the word "Pharisee."

The correct translation of Ant. 15.6 is He [i.e. Herod] killed 45 of
the leading men of Antigonus' party [the Greek word is hairesis, which
means a sect, school, faction, or party: elsewhere Josephus in Ant. 13.171
refers to the 3 sects of the Jews and names them:Pharisees, Sadducees, and
Essenes; in Bell. 2.162 he refers to the Pharisees as the leading sect of
the Jews; in Ant. 13.288 he refers to the Pharisees as one of the Jewish
sects; he also refers to the Pharisees as a sect in his autobiography
12, 191, and 197; he also refers to the Sadducees as a Jewish sect in
Ant. 13.293 and 20.199. There is no mention in Ant. 15.6 of the Sanhedrin.

There are no alternate readings of manuscripts for the passages that you
cite in Ant. 14.175 and 15.6, though I am relying for this information on
the edition by B. Niese, which has come to be regarded as the most careful
edition of the Greek text of Josephus and which always lists the chief
alternate readings for all of Josephus. [End of quote from Dr. Feldman]


All three Josephus passages brought by MF join together with

The irrelevant citation of the fact that Kohanim sat together with
Leviyyim and Yisraelim in the Sanhedrin, and

The citation of Sanhedrin 52b which states that there was a Saduccee
(not "Saducee dominated") Sanhedrin

to "suggest" that the Chochmei Yisrael sat together with Saducees in
the Sanhedrin.

I will not in this post get into the evidence that more than suggests
the traditional (and halachically obligatory) scenario that the Chochmei
HaTorah never sat with Saducees in the Sanhedrin (except during the
transitionary period in which Shimon ben Shetach gradually replaced the
members of the Saducee-usurped Sanhedrin), nor with the other issues that
have been raised, so as not to distract from the fact that the passages
brought from Josephus have been misrepresented. Apparently R. Frankel
has placed too much trust in the authors he studied, assuming that their
representations of Josephus were honest,in lieu of sources such as the
Doros HaRishonim, which he describes as having "approached material with
the bias that the received tradition was almost always accurate history."

Zvi Lampel

P.S. In the future, when citing chapter and verse, it would be beneficial
for all if participants in this (or any) discussion to quote the passage
as well.

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Date: Sun, 21 Nov 2004 21:04:15 -0500
From: "" <hlampel@thejnet.com>
Torah and science

Isaac A Zlochower <zlochoia@bellatlantic.net posted on 19 Nov 2004
> I have greater difficulties, however, with the idea proclaimed by Zvi
> and others that Hashem created an old appearing world replete with
> fossils of creatures and plants that never lived, and whose rocks
> contained artificial compositions of radioisotopes and their nuclear
> decay products. Are we to believe that there is divine delight taken in
> fooling us or in some odd sense of divine aesthetics?

R. Zlochower, please re-read my post more carefully. I directly addressed
each of your objections. (I do not maintain that the fossils are of
creatures that never lived.) Further clarification will be found in my
previous posts.

Zvi Lampel

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Date: Mon, 22 Nov 2004 00:40:15 -0500
From: "Jonathan Ostroff" <jonathan@yorku.ca>
RE: Torah and science

R. Yitzchok Zlochower wrote:
> Another reader seems to feel that treating the 6 days of creation as 6 of
> the more recent eras in the very ancient history of the world is contrary
> to the Rambam in his Moreh (citation, please). 

Please quote the reader's words as we need to be precise when discussing
this Rambam. You may want to look at past archives including

> What of it? Why would we
> need to conform to the ideas about nature of *any* of the classical
> sources?

Perhaps I misunderstand RYZ, but it seems to me that this type of remark
belongs more on talk.origins than Avodah. Do "classic sources" include
the written and oral Torah as transmitted to us by Chazal? The gemora in
Chulin (5a) says that one who desecrates Shabbat denies the whole Torah
for he says false testimony against the fact that G-d created the world
in six days and rested on the 7th. The shechita of such a renegade is
neveilah and his edus is possul. Here we have fundamental halacha and
mitzvah dependent on a fact of nature.

> It would take the most powerful arguments and counter-demonstrations
> to convince us otherwise. The constancy in the speed of light (c)
> regardless of time or reference frame is one such rule that lies at the
> heart of Einstein's Special theory of relativity which has been amply
> verified in numerous careful experiments.

Newton's theories were verified in numerous careful experiments. Nobel
prize winners were declaring the end of physics. Yet Newton's theories
of absolute time, space and reference frames were invalidated by
Einstein. Bohr (in his Copenhagen interpretation of QM) invalidated
the carefully constructed Newtonian determinism of Laplace. Friedmann
invalidated the eternally old universe of all (non religious) scientists
from Aristotle to Newton. Notice how the age of the universe changed from
the deeply held t = -\infinity to t = 14 billion years! In fact, creation
ex nihilo was considered unscientific because of conservation laws
constructed from numerous careful experiments. The Copernican principle
invalidated Ptolemy and GR invalidated the Copernican principle etc.

So yes, many scientists now think that Einstein's theories may need to
be changed. Again, wherever there are repeatable observable results,
the new theories will agree with relativity. Wherever extrapolation and
deep theory involving hypothetical entities were used, the new theories
will be different.

> Jonathan's citation
> of some speculation by a few theorists of a much different value of c at
> some time in the past is of little consequence. 

I fully agree that VSL theories are speculative in the same way that the
hypothetical inflaton, and dark energy and matter are speculative and
needed to prop up the 14 billion year big bang quoted by RYZ. Without
these (currently) hypothetical and unverified entities the universe
would be 8by old, much younger than some galaxies by other dating means.

Variable Speed of Light (VSL) papers by the cosmologist John Moffat
(at the University of Toronto) were rejected by PLD in 1992 as being
outlandish. Papers of the same kind are now standard in PLD and
other archival journals of record. RYZ needs to explain why the VSL
vs. inflationary big bang theories is now described as a "simmering
debate" (see my earlier post for the references). VSL theories are now
being applied to cosmology, quantum gravity and experiment/observation,
and they do indeed make fundamental changes to Einstein's theories.

> Besides, Jonathan's value for c in the 4th, 5th, and 6th day of
> creation would need to be 10^12 (a quadrillion) times the value that
> which we have measured over the last 2 centuries if the 10 billion
> year light from distant reaches of the universe really took only 5760+
> years to reach us. Such an enormous difference from the historical value
> implies a universe with much different properties than what we observe.
> Life on earth is consdered to be rather sensitive to the incident
> energy and the properties of matter. How could life have arisen and been
> sustained in Jonathan's creation week? Only by a miracle! Why, however,
> create unnecessary miracles?

As stated in my earlier post, many of the published VSL theories are
looking at light faster by 60 orders of magnitude (10^60) and a very
different kind of universe! -- 12 orders of magnitude are conservative
by contrast.

But please realize that I do not provide any models for, as the Rambam
tells us, the laws of nature were not fixed until later and one cannot
reliably extrapolate backwards from what we see now. I merely state that
you cannot make the usual unifomitarian assumptions.

"It is usually assumed that the laws of nature have always been the
same as they are now. There is no justification for this. The laws may
be changing, and in particular quantities which are considered to be
constants of nature may be varying with cosmological time. Such variations
would completely upset the model makers." (Nobel Prize winner, Paul Dirac,
"On methods in theoretical physics", June 1968, Trieste.)

> [In fact, one can demonstrate that Jonathan's c value for the 3 days of
> creation since the appearance of the heavenly illuminants i.e. the sun
> and other stars is not consistent with astronomical observations of the
> 1987A supernova in the large Magellanic cloud galaxy. ...
>  Assuming that the ring consisted of previously ejected material that
> was now lit up by energetic photons from the supernova explosion, one
> could calculate the diameter of the ring. Using that value based on
> the historical value for c and measuring the small angle subtended on
> earth by the ring gave a value for the distance to the ring of 166,000
> light years. If Jonathan were correct then that correspondance with the
> Cepheid data should not have occurred.]

Can RYZ please explain what the inconsistency is for non-experts like me,
without making uniformitarian assumptions or committing us unnecessarily
to methodological naturalism. Please also provide the necessary references
for any facts (rather than hypothetical extrapolations).

In am under the impression that Cepheids are distance indicators based
on extrapolations from their PL charts that need to be calibrated before
they can be used with accuracy. Various indirect methods were used to
obtain a distance to the LMC Cepheids needed for calibration for the
cosmological scale. Various attempts gave discordant results that were
incompatible with each other. SN1987A provided a way to get a more direct
distance indicator which is then used to do the Cepheid calibration. It
appears to me that the distance calculation used in the calibration will
not be affected by a changing speed of light.


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