Avodah Mailing List

Volume 14 : Number 062

Sunday, January 23 2005

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Fri, 21 Jan 2005 09:55:08 -0500
From: "H G Schild" <hgschild@hotmail.com>

I saw an ad in a Jewish paper for this
<http://www.shabboswitch.com/>. They quoted Rav Miller. Claimed
that besides the bulb to unscrew that there are many LEDs. Is this a
universal opinion? Is this a change in metziyus at all? [do 20 year old
refrigerators have LEDs etc]


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Date: Fri, 21 Jan 2005 12:59:42 -0500
From: Mlevinmd@aol.com
Re: Torah and Science - Rav Dessler

Here is a site that unpacks some of what R. Dessler may have meant
in his much shorter comments. I generally do not get involved with
science religion debates. I spent enough time in scientific endeavors to
understand the provisional and contingent nature of scientific knowledge
at any particular point in time. That is not to say that there is no value
to adressing these issues for those who are concerned or troubled by them.

I do not agree with everything in the article but it does indicate a
direction in how to approach R. Dessler's comments.

M. Levin


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Date: Fri, 21 Jan 2005 13:52:43 -0500
From: "DavidZ" <dzulik@hotmail.com>
Re: Rav Schach on the Torah Codes, Mekubalim, Future Tellers, etc.

> There are people who write letters to the Lubavitcher Rebbe and then
> stick the letters randomly in one of the many anthologized volumes of his
> letters, believing that whatever is on the page the book opens to, is the
> answer to their question. I once asked my father zt'l if it's mutar to do
> this, and he said no. When a Lubavitcher BT friend of mine asked about
> this, I advised her to speak to a Lubavitcher rav in town with whom she
> could form an ongoing relationship, and not rely on this kind of "magic."

Why is this not like the Goral HaGra, the procedure established by the Vilna

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Date: Fri, 21 Jan 2005 14:04:57 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Rav Schach on the Torah Codes, Mekubalim, Future Tellers, etc.

On Fri, Jan 21, 2005 at 01:52:43PM -0500, DavidZ wrote:
: Why is this not like the Goral HaGra, the procedure established by the Vilna
: Gaon?

Perhaps because the Goral haGra (which I would only say is attributed
to the Gra, I do not know how reliable the attribution is) is a means
of consulting G-d. Putting a letter in Liqutei Sichos is described as
a means of consulting the L rebbe za"l.

It is therefore more similar to ov veyid'oni than Goral haGra is. (And
if anyone would put it on the wrong side of the line, I would be least
surprised if the rav named in the subject line did.)


Micha Berger             Man is a drop of intellect drowning in a sea
micha@aishdas.org        of instincts.
http://www.aishdas.org                         - Rav Yisrael Salanter
Fax: (270) 514-1507      

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Date: Fri, 21 Jan 2005 14:08:09 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Rav Schach on the Torah Codes, Mekubalim, Future Tellers, etc.

On Fri, Jan 21, 2005 at 01:52:43PM -0500, DavidZ wrote:
: Why is this not like the Goral HaGra, the procedure established by the Vilna
: Gaon?

Addanedum: I presume R' Shach would stear you away from that as well. He
is quoted as distinguishing between the Gra dealing with a dibuq and
his audience doing so.


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Date: Fri, 21 Jan 2005 15:04:42 -0500
From: "Yosef Gavriel & Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <ygb@aishdas.org>
Re: Testing a People (Was: Torah and Science - Rav Dessler)

In Avodah V14 #60 dated 1/20/2005 Mendel Singer <mendel@case.edu> writes:
>So the issue here, if I understand you correctly, is whether it is a
>reasonable position to say that Hashem would do something *only* for
>the purpose of testing a people.

Not quite. The issue is whether Hashem actually created the world to lead 
the vast majority of people since the middle of the nineteenth century 
astray, depriving them, perhaps, of Olam HaBa. This runs counter to the 
entire concept of "HaShomayim Mesaprim Kevod Keil," and "K'Shem 
She'ha'Beged Mei'id" etc.

>I think this is a fascinating theological question. First, do we
>agree that Hashem can do this at the individual level? Is the Akeida an
>example of Hashem "fooling" Avraham Avinu just to test him? My immediate
>inclination is to say that of course this has been done many times,
>with different individuals in Tanach. I just want to make sure we are
>in agreement, and that I am not missing something, like a side benefit.

Eino domeh l'nidon didan. In no case in Tanach does Hashem set up a nisayon 
in which He deliberaltey plants indicators that will lead the menuseh to 
erroneous conclusions. The Emes is clear.


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Date: Sun, 23 Jan 2005 00:30:21 -0500
From: "S & R Coffer" <rivkyc@sympatico.ca>
Re: Torah and Science - Rav Dessler

From: Harry Maryles <hmaryles@yahoo.com>
> I am no expert in REED, to say the least. So if all agree that this is
> the view of REED, I will certainly accept it. In short then, REED doesn't
> address the topic at hand other than dissmissing it. He is simply saying
> that the physical nature of creation is illusory and there is no real
> point in trying to comprehend it. The study of creation in the physical
> sense is thereore useless as it cannot possibly explain the complexity
> of nature created in so short a time as six days. REED instead focuses
> on the spiritual "hidden" creative process as the real creation which
> is equally beyond our grasp. Is this correct?

Absolutely not. There is obviously merit to studying the "physical nature
of creation". How do you think the computer screen you are reading at
this very moment developed? Or the car you drive to work, or the airplane
you fly etc. etc. Science has made incredible strides in a plethora of
fields, especially medicine. What Rav Dessler is saying is that when
considering the age of the universe per se, these very same scientists
can be misled because they are either unaware of, or choose to reject the
presence of an infinite Creator. Thus the endless complexity that can
be observed in our vast universe causes them to attribute eons of time
to its development. However if one assumes the presence of an infinitely
wise Designer, there is no difficulty in imagining a young universe.

hmaryles@yahoo.com continues:
> Once you are in the realm of the metaphysical, rational thinking is
> not necessary. In the world of the spiritual, there is no physical
> reality to explain. But we live in the physical world not in the
> spiritual. Apparently REED has the same difficulty that many of us do
> when we see evidence of an older universe and basicly says "don't worry
> about it" there is no way of, and no point to, trying to understanding it.

> This is an issue that must have bothered him which can be seen by the
> way he refered to the complexity of the universe being created in so
> short of a time (6 days). In the end, focusing on the spiritual side of
> creation is somewhat evasive and not a very helpful explanation, in my
> view. For those of us who see physical indications of an older universe
> the question remains and begs an explanation. As far as I am concerend,
> a respected scientist and Talmid Chacham like R. Aryeh Kaplan offers a
> far more satisfactory perspective on creation than does REED.

I disagree. But before stating my case, I would like to make an important
distinction. There are two methods by which one can (erroneously) conclude
that the universe is older than what the Torah seems to say. One is by
considering the endless wisdom and design in the universe and concluding
that it must have taken an unimaginable amount of time to evolve. The
other is by studying empirically observable evidence (e.g. fossils)
which suggest that there was a gradual unfolding of the world over
billions of years.

Rav Dessler is dealing with the first, not the second method. Thus,
when he says that "those who study the nature of our universe attribute
millions of years to its existence" he is referring to materialists
in general, including naturalists such as Plato, Aristotle and many
others down through the ages, not just modern day evolutionists. If one
keeps this in mind, Rav Dessler's approach then becomes perfectly clear
as follows.

If one studies the universe without the benefit of the awareness of a
creator, it is simply impossible to imagine that the universe unfolded
in six days. However, if one is aware of the following: 1) There is
a creator 2) He created the physical universe for a purpose 3) The
purpose is spiritual in nature and thus 4) the physical is there merely
to facilitate the realization of the Creator's purpose i.e. attainment
of the spiritual, then it logically follows that an omnipotent Creator
simply caused the physical universe to materialize instantly in order to
commence the purpose of creation immediately. It is actually illogical
to believe otherwise.

On the other hand, Rabbi Kaplan is troubled with what he terms "a great
deal of observational evidence" that seems to prove that the world is
much older than the Torah's apparent account of creation. He is obviously
relying on fields of science such as geology, palaeontology and cosmology
which are all invoked by the academic community as proof of an ancient
universe. If it were not for this evidence, Rabbi Kaplan himself admits
that a young age universe fits much better into the pesukim that describe
maaseh bereishis.

HM feels that Rabbi Kaplan offers a far more satisfactory perspective
on creation than Rav Dessler but I strongly disagree. You see, it is my
contention that in fact there is no observational evidence whatsoever
that proves the antiquity of the universe. In addition Rabbi Kaplan who,
in the beginning of his essay on the age of the universe, states that
he is looking to support his assertion using "classical" Torah sources,
actually fails to achieve this goal. I know that these statements are
highly contentious and therefore have dedicated myself to writing an
article outlining all of my views in detail. I hope to have it available
for "peer review' by the Avodah crowd in two weeks bi'ezras Hashem.

Best wishes
Simcha Coffer

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Date: Sun, 23 Jan 2005 13:11:51 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Torah and Science - Rav Dessler

On Wed, Jan 19, 2005 at 08:33:17AM -0500, S & R Coffer wrote:
: Translation:
: The concept of time exists only within the framework of our perception.[1]
: Notes:
: 1 For a full treatment of this concept, please refer to Michtav MeEliyahu
: Vol. 2, pg. 150. It is important to note here that the word "exists"
: should be taken in a modified form. The terminology that would more
: accurately represent Rav Dessler's shita in this matter is "exists for
: the purpose of", the latter being causal, the former being consequential.

No it certainly should not! Your reinterpretation is not indicated by
MmE vol IV, and runs directly counter vol II! IMHO you're turning REED's
words around to prove the opposite of what he explicitly states at length.

In MmE vol II, REED explains the causal connection between eating the eitz
hadaas and our current experience of time. He clearly states that the
current millenium is exactly the same time interval as day 6 of maaseh
bereishis. Literally. How? Being post-eitz people, we experience time
as some linear progression, but that's an artificial limitation in us,
and not inherent in time itself. We're not capable of comprehending
time's true nature.

IOW, R' Dessler really believes that tthe thing we call time literally
only exists within the framework of our perception. As opposed to block
Time, a different thing altogether.

BTW, from a recent blog entry
> Rav Dessler writes that our perception of the flow of time is a
> product of eating of the tree of knowledge. With eating the fruit,
> man's free will became centered on a progression from desire to effort
> to fulfillment or frustration. This gives our concept of time a flow,
> a direction. Rav Dessler compares our perception of time to looking at
> a map through a piece of paper with a small hole in it. One can move
> the hole from city to city along the roads. But that progression is a
> product of how we're looking at the map, not the map itself. Adam saw
> "from one end of the world to the next", an expression also used of a
> baby's soul before birth. They see the map without the paper in front;
> all of time from one end to the other.

> Rav Dessler's metaphor is akin to Paul Davies' description of Einsteinian
> spacetime <http://aca.mq.edu.au/PaulDavies/SciAm1_TimeFlow.pdf>. In
> relativistic physics, the universe is a four dimensional sculpture. We
> think of it as a 3d movie, with time having a flow that the three spatial
> dimensions do not. But that's an illusion of our perception.

On Wed, Jan 19, 2005 at 07:45:03AM -0800, Harry Maryles wrote:
: Once you are in the realm of the metaphysical, rational thinking is
: not necessary...

Why? Doesn't all of beri'ah have to be rational? Is logic a feature of the
physical? Perhaps the metaphysical uses a different system of logic, just
as the physical world does when you go down to quantum scale.

(PS: this sounds frightening close to the "fact" fallacy.)


Micha Berger             The purely righteous do not complain about evil,
micha@aishdas.org        but add justice , don't complain about heresy,
http://www.aishdas.org   but add faith, don't complain about ignorance,
Fax: (270) 514-1507      but add wisdom.     - R AY Kook, Arpilei Tohar

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Date: Fri, 21 Jan 2005 16:11:11 -0500
From: "Yosef Gavriel & Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <ygb@aishdas.org>
Re: Torah and Science and Jewish vs. Secular chronolgy

>I have followed the intricacies of the discussion on a multi billion year
>old universe vs. a 5765 year old one, but haven't seen any discussion on
>the details of what such a dating implies about more recent history. In
>particular Jewish and secular chronology are in synch only from 312 BCE.
>The 275 year period preceding 312 BCE took only 110 years according to
>Sefer Olam Rabbah based chronology. For example according to Jewish
>Chronolgy the Bais Hamikdash was destroyed in 423 BCE and Alexander
>conquered Judea in about 320/319 BCE. How do we reconcile these dates?

I do not know who Mr. RMA is, but the charges below are unsubstantiated.
The links he provides end in the webpage of a disaffected J's
Witness, where this information is not found. But a search led
to another disaffected J's Witness, whom RMA has plagarized:
[Reduced from a watchtower.observer.org URL -mi]

The citations, when viewed in the explanatory notes, are clearly seen
as interpreted to arrive at the result, and not as definitive.

(You may ask how this is relevant to disaffected JW's? It is because the
JW's claim the destruction was in 607, and this fellow, all of a tizzy,
tries to demonstrate that it is really 587.)

As to astronomy, au contraire, the Molados chart stretching to Molad
Tohu in perfect order debunks the claim. See:


(I am c'ing the masterful webmaster, Mr. Remy Landau.)


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Date: Sun, 23 Jan 2005 08:02:53 -0800 (PST)
From: Harry Maryles <hmaryles@yahoo.com>
re: Rav Schach on the Torah Codes, Mekubalim, Future Tellers, etc.

"kennethgmiller@juno.com" <kennethgmiller@juno.com> wrote:
> I don't understand your post. I would consider genuine kabbalah to
> be Torah, and therefore it is worth learning even if it is not
> practical, just like we learn about the Mishkan, or how to duchan
> (for those who aren't kohanim).

> Are you suggesting that both you and Rav Salanter don't consider
> the mitzvah of Talmud Torah unless there is some practical benefit?

Not at all ...of course, I can only speak for myself not RYS. :)

Talmud Torah is a Mitzvah. The study of Nistar thyough the medium of
Kabbalah is Torah. Hence it is a Mitzvah to learn it. I was pointing
out that in my view, choosing to learn a discipline such as the nature
of the spiritual world which is virtually impossible to understand in
the corporeral world in which we live is a poor choice of prioties in
leartning Torah. To talk of Klipos etc is meaningless to me. And there is
no benefit to my Avodas Hashem in knowing that subject matter. I instead
focus on the Nigleh, that portion of Torah that was revealed to us and
deals with the corporeal world. The Nigleh is where we earn our Olam
HaBah and learning how to interact with the physical universe through
studying and observing the Halachos mandated to us by the Nigleh... is
what is most important to me. I do not yet understand all the Nigleh
and will continue to try and understand as much of it as I can. Until
I feel that I have mastered Nigleh, I will not study Nistar.


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Date: Sat, 22 Jan 2005 19:43:23 +0000
From: Chana Luntz <chana@KolSassoon.org.uk>
Why are you sleeping?

This discussion started off as a discussion about whether it is
appropriate to try and link a particular sin that the person identifies
to a particular tragedy, specifically the recent tragedy in the far east.

I have expressed my concern elsewhere (comments on Gil's initial blog on
this on Hirrurim) that the way this has often being done today appears to
be divisive and self-serving and that the way it is put into operation
may lead to the conclusion that we are not on a level of being able to
do such soul searching today (which is the way I read RAL's comment on
the subject).

And yet, here I am about to try and do the same thing myself and offer
a suggestion to think about. And perhaps I am being contradictory in
saying I think there is and may be value in the thinking, although there
has to be due humility and awareness that touching the essence of the
matter is likely impossible.

Hashem's seal is emes (see eg shabbas 55a). And, at its root, that
is what science is about, trying to understand the emes of the natural
world. Scientists make mistakes, and are human like the rest of us, but
their pursuit is fundamentally an attempt to grapple with a level of emes.

But people are often not willing to listen to emes when it interferes
with their own concerns and communities. The scientists who monitor
earthquakes in Hawaii had an entire nights warning of the coming of
the tsunami. If they had been able to get their message across it seems
clear that very little of the loss of life that in fact occurred would
have occurred as almost everybody, in that time, could have been moved
to high ground.

But people were not interested in knowing what the scientists had to
say. They did not set up the appropriate levels of communication even
though it was truly a matter of life and death.

And even when they finally heard the warnings, the people did not want
to listen. They were worried about destroying tourism, the backbone
of their economy. They were worried that such warnings would scare the
tourists away and they would not come back. So they ignored the warnings
that could have saved many people.

And so many many lives were lost.

But, even then, if the individual people themselves had had some basic
training in science, they would have had a much better chance of saving
themselves. Many many people would have been able to save themselves
if they had merely known, as one 10 year old English girl is reported
to have known, that when the sea goes out suddenly there is a risk
of tsnuami and one needs to run to high ground. This 10 year old girl
apparently learnt this in *primary school* and saved her whole beach.

Do your kids learn such things in primary school? Israel is a coastal
strip and is very at risk of tsunami. Do your kids learn basic science
in primary school to know when to run for their lives?

You should also know that the science that the earthquake scientists
in Hawaii studied to know how to monitor earthquakes involves plate
teutonics, one of the ways in which the earth is dated under modern

Is it a co-incidence that at the same time this earthquake was brewing
in the Indian Ocean, at home among Am Yisroel an earthquake was brewing
regarding the way to interact with science, particularly the science
studied at the earthquake centre in Hawaii? That people are expressing
the fear amongst Am Yisroel that people may be driven away from their
communities, spiritually if not physically by the application of science?

I am not in a position to give answers, all I am doing is raising

[Email #2. -mi]

In message , Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org> writes
>On Wed, Jan 19, 2005 at 09:21:05PM +0000, Chana Luntz wrote:
>:>I agree with that -- and moreso, I believe that there is no suffering
>:>except for those justified by a person's own sins.

>: There is of course another side that adds further complexity to this,
>: namely schar mitzvos b'hai alma lecka...

>I don't see how that's significantly different than my invocation of tzadiq
>vera lo, rasha vetov lo. My point was that knowing their is tzidduq hadin
>doesn't explain any particular tragedy.

Tzadik v'ra lo gives rise to various other associations that are not
contained in the concept of schar mitzvos b'hai alma lecka.

- there is the concept of tzadik ben tzadik as opposed to tzadik ben
rasha which is sometimes used to explain why tzadik v'ra lo;

- there is the concept of yissurim shel ahava, something that only really
makes sense by a tzadik (ie Hashem has a particular bond with a tzadik,
it makes little sense by somebody not close to Him).

On the other hand, schar mitzvos b'hai alma lecka is a much more radical
concept, in that - take the boy who fell to his death on obeying his
father and sending away the mother bird. We know nothing more about him
except that he had just fulfilled the two mitzvos that the Torah promises
will give long life, and he didn't get it. He may or may not have been a
tzadik in any and all other ways, as may his parents. It didn't matter,
the accounting was all left to the next world. It is a radical, and in
some ways very unsettling concept (I am not trying to throw it in to the
exclusion of the others, but to add it to the intellectual stew - and the
interesting thing is it being quoted to individuals who - certainly if
you asked them would not feel very confident of being labelled tzadikim).

>To put it a really depressing way: Ein tzaddiq ba'aretz asher ya'aseh
>tov velo yechta. Therefore, everyone deserves, midinei Shamayim (din, as
>in tziduq hadin), nothing -- not even existance. The question of tragedy
>is therefore really that of the suspension of olam chesed yibaneh, not
>explaining the din of it. The pattern is beyond our ability to discern.

Is not the position you seem to be citing very close to that of Rav Ami
(Shabbas 55a) "ain misa b'lo chet v'ain yissurim b'lo avon" and this
is the one position the gemora specifically rejects (v'teufta d' R'
Ami teufta on 55b).

This does not, it seems to me obliterate a concept that there may be
times when we are obligated to try and find meaning in suffering, but
I am not sure that any one position on this is always the right one.

And of course the reason one may find may not be the correct one -
and there may be dangers in that, although I think I will leave that
discussion for another post (which I may or may not get around to

Chana Luntz

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Date: Sat, 22 Jan 2005 20:31:53 -0500
From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@juno.com>
Levels of Shabbas

From: "H G Schild" <hgschild@hotmail.com>
> Shabbas was observed first in Mitzrayim even while the Yiddin were
> slaves.
> Then they got more laws at Marah...then at Sinai.....then the Mishkan
> gave a different model...and there are several other citations of Shabbas
> in the Torah. Does anyone discuss the various levels of Shabbas as such
> systematically?

Yes, Rav Yaakov Meidan in this week's email from Yeshiva Har Etzion VBM.
I don't have it in electronic form anymore, perhaps someone else does
and can send it to you. It hasn't been put into their archives yet.

Gershon <gershon.dubin@juno.com>

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Date: Sat, 22 Jan 2005 21:26:42 EST
From: RabbiRichWolpoe@aol.com
Kli Shlishi

In a message dated 1/8/2005 10:20:53pm EST, micha@aishdas.org writes:
> Keli shelishi would work either way.

What is the earlieest source in Halachic literature that mentions
"kli shlishis"? It is not AFAIK in the Bavli.

Furthermore it is likely that without a positive definition of a new
Halachic "bria" called kli Shlishis that ANY keili after kli rishon
would be construed as just a kli sheini no matter how many keilim after
the first.

Kol Tuv,
R. Rich Wolpoe

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Date: Sun, 23 Jan 2005 09:45:37 -0500
From: "David Riceman" <driceman@worldnet.att.net>
metronome on Shabbos?

When we were putting away muktza for Shabbos my son asked why we had
to put away the metronome. My gut reaction was that it's a musical
instrument, but of course it really isn't.

Our metronome is cheap and mechanical. Is is assur to use on Shabbos? Is
it muktza? How do you know?

David Riceman 

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Date: Sun, 23 Jan 2005 10:56:18 +0100
From: "Schoemann, Danny (Danny)** CTR **" <schoemann@lucent.com>
Re: chadash

> Once the silo has chadash grain it is almost
> impossible to clean it to the extent that there is no chadash mixed with
> the present yashan grain. 

I wonder if this really is a problem.

In Terumos 11:6 the mishna says that a silo that was emptied of its
teruma contents need not be cleaned out to the last grain. Once it's
cleaned "normally" it can be used for chulin.

I don't have a Rambam handy to see if this applies to other issurim,
but I don't see why not.

- Danny

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Date: Sun, 23 Jan 2005 10:46:17 +0100
From: "Schoemann, Danny (Danny)** CTR **" <schoemann@lucent.com>
Re: Tzofnas Pa'aneach? Kamatz Rachav!

>The Rav would make the Baal Koreh say the Posuk twice (once as Yisaschar
>and once as Yissachar), just as we say Zeicher and Zecher Amalek (which
>he would make the baal koreh do every time (i.e. Ki Seitze, Zachor,
>Beshalach, and Purim)).

Did he also make you eat 2 Korech sandwiches? One Zecher l'Mikdash and
the other Zeicher l'Mikdash. :-)

- Danny

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Date: Sat, 22 Jan 2005 21:20:20 EST
From: RabbiRichWolpoe@aol.com
Re: Alternative Medicine and AZ

In a message dated 1/21/2005 12:48:31pm EST, skitevits@aol.com writes:
> Lately I've heard a lot of talk about those who believe many aspects
> of alternative medicine may be prohibited because of Avodah Zara.

I know a Ger Tzedek who claims that Jews mis-understand Hinduism.

Most Eastern Cults such as Reiki etc. are about Eastern philosophies
and are not religions. NO those philosophies might be tainted with
heretical points but that is not AZ.

Now SOME Eastern traditions do bowing to shrines etc. I would be careful
about that.

Here is a real simple way of looking at it. American Law often requires
an oath. Halachah frowns upon oaths. so we Jews -and others - choose
to affirm instead of swearing an oath.

Similarly most of the problems within those Eastern systems can be
sidestepped. Some cannot so easily. The easy way out is to be machmir
and make a gzeira agaisnt the entire system. I cannot say that this is
a bad idea. But I can say it is an over-simplification.

Now I will ask you a question. If I bunch of Jews begin dancing and grab
an icon of a Jewish 'saint" and dance with that icon - are they practicing
Avodah Zora, too? Or are they merely honiring the memory of a TzZaddik?

Kol Tuv,
R. Rich Wolpoe

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Date: Sun, 23 Jan 2005 14:50:21 EST
From: Mlevinmd@aol.com
re: Rav Schach on the Torah Codes, Mekubalim, Future Tellers, etc.

> It's interesting that Rav Yisroel Salanter's view of Kavalah was identical
> to mine. I have long wondered why anyone would desire to study something
> as incomprehensible as Kabalah. Sephiros? Klipos? I realize that there
> are some Chasidic groups, (one in particular) who advocate this study but
> I could never figure out why. The question I always asked was virtually
> identical to Rav Yisroel Salanter's: "What need do I have to know in
> which Sephirah the Sh'chena is?" This was always followed by "What's
> the point of knowing that?" I have never received a satisfactory answer,
> although those who study Kabalah have certainly tried.

There are many books written by Kabbbalists that attempt to answer this
question, including the easily accessible Derech Etz Chaim in the back
of many editions of Mesials Yesharim.

The utility fo studying Kabbala is becoming familiar and obtaining working
knowledge of its concepts, such as Malbush, HIshtalshelus etc which allows
one a totally different and profound understanding of spiritual concepts,
human psychology and society. The study of details is necessary to
learn how to apply these concepts which have the potential to completely
revolutionize one's spiritual life. As an example, realizing that human
body is an overlay of various sephiros, spiritualizes physical functioning
to an extent not found in any other system of thought. It allows a much
more profound way of perceiving the physical and enables one to remove
body-soul conflict with which one otherwise contends throughout life.

To apprecaite these words one needs to study details. BTW, there is much
evidence that R. Y. Slanter studied and was proficient in Kabbalah. See
HIllel Godberg, Did R. Y. Slanter study kabbala, in Isreal Salanter:
Text, structure, idea, Ktav, 1982. pp. 109-119.

M. Levin

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Date: Sun, 23 Jan 2005 14:54:51 EST
From: Mlevinmd@aol.com
Why are you sleeping.

Azaria Di Rossi in the first chapter of Meor Eynaim reports on the
earthquake in Ferrara in 1574 and discusses the difference between
statements of Chazal and how classical gentile writers respond to natural
disasters. I don;' have access to this work now. Can someone who does
check it and let us know what the author thought about these questions?

M. Levin

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Date: Sun, 23 Jan 2005 15:45:59 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Rav Yisrael Salanter and Kabbalah

R' Yitzchok Levine wrote:
> When Rav Yisroel Salanter was asked why he did not study Kabbalah
> he replied, "What need do I have to know in which Sephirah the Sh'chena
> is? I know that if I do not live my life according to the Torah, I will
> be punished in the World to Come. That is enough."

R' Yisra'el Salanter's approach is staunchly rationalist.

Both R' Chaim Vilozhiner in NhC and Tenu'as haMussar are built upon man's
quest for sheleimus. However, in the yeshiva movement this is understood
metarationally, that Torah provides that sheleimus. (Evidence of people
who know Torah and yet aren't ideal Jews aside.)

Rav Yisrael, however, taught sheleimus in simple terms, focusing on the
one aspect of the soul that we know, measure, and can tell is superior
-- our minds. Sheleimus in terms of making better decisions, having
better emotional reactions. Becoming the kind of person who naturally
chooses mitzvah over cheit, someone who ru'ach haMaqom veru'ach haberiyos
nochah heimenu.

It's not just that he didn't study qaballah (which I also believe wasn't
meant literally), it's that he founded a lifestyle that doesn't invoke it.


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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