Avodah Mailing List
Volume 14 : Number 065
Thursday, January 27 2005
Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Tue, 25 Jan 2005 19:21:26 -0500
From: "Chabad of the Space Coast" <email@example.com>
>2- Rav Shach was against the contemporary use of other known experiences
>of "practical qabbalah", citing the fascination with dibuq's for example.
>I believe goral haGra would also be excluded.
We have established the heter of using sifrei kodesh as a goral from the
Birkei Yosef, besides it being a minhag Yisroel up until recent times.
Stories from contemporary chassidim as well as litvishe yidden utilizing
the "Goral Hagra" such as Rav Yerucham Levovitz z"l, Mashgiach of Mir,
Rabbi Aryeh Levine z"l, Rav Tzvi Hirsch Levinson z"l (son in law of the
Chofetz Chaim) HaRav Yitzchok Tuviah Weiss (who today serves as Gavad
of the Eida HaChareidis) and many others are well known.
See also Sichas Shabbos Parshas Bamidbar 5749 from the Lubavitcher Rebbe
which refers clearly to the long-standing Jewish custom of clarifying
doubts regarding certain questions by opening a Chumash or other holy
text and acting on the directive one understands from that text.
(Although in the note, the Rebbe cautions the use of goral with sifrei
kodesh especially for inyonei chol, I doubt he meant the writing of
a letter to a Rebbe as he himself instructed in the minhagim for the
yahrtzeit of his father in law to place a letter in the pages of the
previous Rebbe's sefer Bosi L'gani)
>1- Many (most?) of those who consult the Igros call it "asking the rebbe"
> which would make it closer to ov veyid'oni in intent than a goral.
This objection then to "asking the Rebbe" should be directed at the
custom of placing a kvitel or letter on the grave, irrespective of
goral, in which case it is well known amongst chassidim that visiting
the grave of a tzadik is not only for the purpose of praying to Hashem
in a holy place but also to "ask of the tzadik haniftar" to be mivakesh
from Hakodosh Boruch Hu on their behalf - see Sotah 34b.
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Date: Wed, 26 Jan 2005 01:33:00 GMT
From: "firstname.lastname@example.org" <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: Torah and Science and Jewish vs. Secular chronolgy
R' Michael Poppers wrote <<< I believe Rav Schwab indicated that the
gap was _at least_ 165 but didn't specify a ceiling; >>>
Here's what I see, in Rav Shimon Schwab's "Selected Speeches":
page 260: "... we are compelled to admit that the Bayis Sheni must have
existed for no less than 586 years instead of the 420 years given by
tradition. This amounts to a discrepancy of over 165 years when compared
with our Jewish way of reckoning!"
page 261: "at least 165 years"
page 262: "165 or more years", "some 165 years"
page 269: "at least 165 years"
page 279: "168 hidden years"
page 283: "168 'missing' years"
page 284: "168 years" (twice)
It seems to me that on page 260, Rav Schwab could very easily have done
the math and written "166 years". But he was deliberately rounding,
and insisted on phrasing the 165 as an approximation, because it was not
until page 275 that he was able to pin down the exact differential. And
from that point forward, he kept using an *exact* figure of 168 years.
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Date: Wed, 26 Jan 2005 00:52:58 -0500
From: "" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: Testing a People (Was: Torah and Science - Rav Dessler)
Mon, 24 Jan 2005 From: "Yosef Gavriel & Shoshanah M. Bechhofer"
>>> 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.
>> According to some meforshim, however, Hashem allows a navvi shekker to
>> actually perform real miracles, solely as a test of our loyalty to the
>> mesorah. Not that I'm saying this is done in any other realm.
> The Torah tells you, in the parashah of navi sheker, precisely this point,
> no more, no less: Miracles prove nothing.
> Mah inyan zeh l'kahn?
People naturally reason that a miracle proves something. That's why
Hashem refers to this as a test. The test is to disregard this and
realize that the mesorah teaches us that miracles mean nothing when used
to counterract mesorah.
This is a test...only a test...If this were a real navvi, he would not
In any case, the statement,
>>> 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" needs qualification.
Zvi Lampel (Notice how my posts are getting shorter...)
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Date: Mon, 24 Jan 2005 21:55:08 -0600
From: "Steve Katz" <email@example.com>
Subject: The Erev Shabbos Jew
[The location of this quote was requested on Areivim. This reply reached
my mailbox because it was accidentally sent to the wrong address. However,
since the reply is the quote itself, and therefore a useful thing for
the world to find by Google, I'm taking the liberty of forwarding it
here rather than to Areivim. -mi]
Here it is:
Erev Shabbos Jews
Allow me, please, to make a "private confession" concerning a matter that
has caused me such loss of sleep. I am not so very old, yet I remember a
time when ninety percent of world Jewry were observant and the secularists
were a small minority at the fringes of the camp. I still remember -
it was not so long ago - when Jews were still close to G-d and lived in
an atmosphere perverted with holiness. But, today, what do we see? The
profane and the secular are in control wherever we turn.
Even in those neighborhoods made up predominantly of religious Jews one
can no longer talk of the "sanctity of the Sabbath day." True, there are
Jews in America who observe the Sabbath. The label "Sabbath observer"
has come to be used as a title of honor in our circles, just like "Harav
HaGaon" - neither really indicates anything and both testify to the lowly
state of our generation. But' it is not for the Sabbath that my heart
aches, it is for the "eve of the Sabbath." There are Sabbath-observing
Jews in America, but there are not "eve-of-the-Sabbath" Jews who go out
to greet the Sabbath with beating hearts and pulsating souls. There are
many who observe the precepts with their hands, with their feet and/or
with their mouths - but there are few, indeed, who truly know the meaning
of service of the heart! What is the percentage of religious Jews today
in contrast to the ninety percent only two generations ago? It seems to
me that religious Jewry survives today solely by force of the Name of
G-d who is there after man sins.
Otherwise we should have utterly despaired and given in to the feeling,
with which I am often overcome as I lie awake at night, that we are
building castles of sand, and any moment a wave will come and wipe
out everything. But G-d who is there after man sins does not allow
us to despair. He whispers in our ears the "Jerusalem is surrounded
by mountains" - one must do much climbing and work hard, grasp every
hand-hold and out-cropping, slide backward and try again to climb the
mountain so as to be able to reach Jerusalem. "Who shall climb the
mountain unto the Lord?" I do not believe that it is easy to return
and repent. The path of repentance, for the individual, as well as the
community, is arduous and many boulders are strewn about which can be
overcome only with supreme effort. The road is long and tortuous until
one arrives at the stage of: "Be cleansed before the Lord," the cleansing
of the Name of G-d who is there before man sins.
"Soloveitchik On Repentance", Pinchas H. Peli, Page 88-89
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Date: Tue, 25 Jan 2005 20:38:01 EST
Subject: Re: Kabbolas Ol Malchus Shamayim
> 'kabbolas ol malchus shomayim' at public gatherings
I agree with R Mordechai. Kabalas Ol malchus Shamayim is a definite
halachic term that is directly associated with the Mitzvas of reciting
either the first verse or the entire first Parsha of KS. IMO, to use
such a phrase for a public gathering that may be counterproductive
in persuading anyone to keep Shabbos is an example where the Charedi
community is engaged in verbal overkill. It reminds me a little too much
of the injudicious use of "Chilul HaShem."
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Date: Tue, 25 Jan 2005 23:21:55 EST
Subject: Re: Singular/Plural
From: Gershon Dubin <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> In Beshalach, after shevii, the complaint is heard "lama he'elisanu
> miMitzraim lehamis osi ve'es banai ve'es miknai batzomo".
> Why the switch from he'elisanu (plural) to lehamis osi etc. (singular)?
This may seem too simple and obvious to satisfy you--you may be looking
for something deeper--but it seems to me that the second part of the
sentence just specifies who "us" is--"you took /us/ out"-- that is, me,
my kids and my cattle.
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Date: Tue, 25 Jan 2005 23:26:55 EST
Subject: Re: Metronome on Shabbos?
In Avodah V14 #64 dated 1/25/2005 "Cantor Wolberg" <email@example.com>
> Would there be an issur for a ticking clock that was wound prior
> to Shabbos? I don't believe so, but I don't say that with authority.
> Would the same hold true of a metronome that was set before Shabbos? I
> leave that to a posek.
Huge difference. Clock is to tell time, the ticking is incidental.
Metronome is to tick! The tick IS its purpose! Telling time is
certainly mutar, but is ticking for ticking's sake mutar? That is the
question. To me the ticking seems very similar to a musical instrument
or any device (eg a whistle) whose only purpose is to make sounds.
Are any such mutar on Shabbos?
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Date: Wed, 26 Jan 2005 10:24:36 +0100
From: "Schoemann, Danny (Danny)** CTR **" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: 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.
I would venture to say that it's muktza machmas Chisaron Kis.
Last night my brother mentioned that one definition of muktza machmas
Chisaron Kis is anything you wouldn't give toddlers to play with, for
fear of them breaking it. A metronome would surely qualify.
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Date: Wed, 26 Jan 2005 11:28:14 -0500
From: "Yosef Gavriel & Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <email@example.com>
Subject: A of the U
The Age of the Universe has come up recently as an issue in the public
While one is certainly entitled to believe that the world is precisely
5765 years old (by our current measurment of years), no more - as this
appears to be the opinion of the Arizal (see below) - a person who holds
this way is also entitled to know that this is probably the "minority"
view amongst Chazal, the Rishonim, and perhaps even Gedolei HaAcharonim.
There are far too many sources on the topic to attempt an accurate tally.
Here is a mere sampling. Much of what follows is culled from Torah
Sheleimah Bereishis 1:1 citation #422-423.
The most explicit source is Midrash Tehillim (from ms.), cited in Torah
Sheleimah, Hashmotos to Bereishis 1:1 citation #2, in which it is stated
that there were 974 generations of evil-doing men who lived prior to
the creation of this world and were destroyed because of their wickedness.
This, then, is also the simple meaning of R' Avahu's statement in
Bereishis Rabbah 2 that HKB"H is boneh olamos u'macharivan, and the
meimrah of R' Simon cited by the Moreh (2:30) that there was a seder
zemanim prior to this creation (although the Yefei Toar on the Midrash
posits that both meimros are not to be taken literally; the Ri from
Barcelona in his commentary to Sefer Yetzirah chap. 5 asserts that the
meimros are to be taken literally, and that this was kabbolas Chazal,
generation from generation from Moshe Rabbeinu).
Now, Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan asserts in the name of R' Yitzchak of Acco that
the years prior to our cycle of existence were comprised of "G-d days" of
1000 years each, and thus each one was actually 365,000+ years according
to our reckoning. It is somewhat surprising that he does not cite the
"more mainstream" Rabbeinu Bachye [who does not take the 974 generation
literally], who writes (towards the end of his commentary on "Yehi Ohr
VaYehi Ohr") [free translation]:
"And you should realize [concerning] the time by which the Torah preceded
the world, from Bereishis until Yehi Ohr, alluded to by the word Bereishis
[an acronym for] Two Thousand [Beis] that there was first [Reishis]:
We have found in the Midrash Bereishis Rabbah (3:8): 'It is not written
*Let it be evening,* but *And it was evening,* from here that there
was an order of times [zemanim] previously.' [The plural usage '*times*
connotes that] although time [as measured by days] was itself was created,
and did not exist prior to [this cycle of Creation], time is nevertheless
mentioned in regard to those two thousand years, for those days [of those
years] were not human days, bur rather a day of those days that comprise
those years are [vast] beyond comprehension, as it is stated (Iyov 36:26):
'Behold a mighty Deity, and we do not know the number of His years and
cannot comprehend..." ayain sham (more on Rabbeinu Bachye later).
Rabbi Kaplan links the idea of longer years to the concept of multiple
cycles of existence. He was preceded in this approach (by some 50 years)
by Rabbi Kasher in the Torah Sheleimah that we are pursuing here. But
this is all from Chazal and Rishonim.
The concept of cycles is known by the Rishonim as the idea of "Shemittos"
(7000 year cycles). It is mentioned explicitly and explained at length by
Rabbeinu Bachye to Parashas Behar (25:10) in the "V"Al Derech HaKabbalah"
to "U'Kerasem Deror." It is alluded to by the Ramban there, and by the
Chinuch in mitzvah 330. It is cited in the Maareches Elokus (Rabbeinu
Peretz HaKohen of Barcelona) who states that it is not possible for us
to know precisely what cycle we are now in. Teshuvos HaRashba #423 also
mentions this approach.
Many Mekubbalim discuss the matter (and also klehrr what cycle we are now
in - but rubbam k'kullam clarify that this is definitely not the *first*
cycle), including the Sefer HaTemunah and the Sefer HaKaneh. The Ramak
(Shiur Komah #83) notes an allusion in Tikkunei Zohar #36 (cited in Torah
Sheleimah #146). Albeit, as we have mentioned, the Arizal (attacking
Sefer Livnas HaSapir) in Shaar HaPesukim (Ki Sisa and Kedoshim) and
Shaarei Maamarei Rashby rejects this approach, but far more sources -
many of great stature - accept it (see the end of citation #423 in the
Torah Sheleimah for additional sources). Thus, the Tiferes Yisroel,
who is famously assumed to be the Marah d'Shemaitsa, is but one of the
later links in the chain of a known and widely held belief.
It is thus but a minority opinion to assume the world is only 5765 years
old. Were this an halachic issue (and it is not!) we would say about a
person who believes this to be the case: "yesh lo al me lismoch."
For those who know me, you will understand readily enough the makkeh
b'patish for me: R' Tzadok HaKohen of Lublin, HaKohen HaGadol MeiEchav,
in Pri Tzaddik to Parashas Behar #7, explicitly accepts the Shemittos
[Email #2. -mi]
I forgot! The Kuzari (1:67) also mentions the Shemittos approach.
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Date: Wed, 26 Jan 2005 12:47:11 -0500
From: "Gil Student" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: Torah and Science
As an added data point, a friend showed me that R. Shalom Mordechai
Schwadron, in his Techeles Mordechai on Parashas Bereishis (#2), quotes
the Tiferes Yisrael approvingly and states that it is a sufficient
response to the "minim" who attack Torah based on archaeological findings
of dinosaur bones
[Email #2 -mi]
On my blog I gave a rundown of talmidei chachamim who have written in
advocacy or tolerance of evolution from within the Torah perspective. TCs
quoted include RSRH, RAYHK, RA Lichtenstein, RYH Henkin and RSY Weinberg. I
neglected to cite RMD Tendler which I will do when I find his article.
Gil Student, Yashar Books
Subscribe to "Sefer Ha-Hayim - Books for Life" Newsletter:
news, ideas, insights and special offers from Yashar Books
Phone: (718) 951-1254 Fax: (718) 228-5150
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Date: Wed, 26 Jan 2005 11:37:27 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Guide II:25 New Translation
There is a new translation of the Dalalat al-Ha`irin available from
T-A Univ. Press, which they have kindly posted on the Web, by Michael
Schwartz. This edition is much clearer in the chapter that Dr. MS and
RYGB have endlessly debated, and seems to come down on the DrMS side
(of course, that may be my bias speaking) - that a philosophical proof
of the Aristotelian theory of an eternal universe could in theory trump
traditional readings, but fortunately there is no such proof.
The notes are helpful as well, in clarifying the Arabic original terms
and his reasons for translating them as he does.
- jon baker email@example.com <http://www.panix.com/~jjbaker> -
[Translation: Dalalat al-Ha`irin is the Arabic title of the book we
usually call Moreh Nevuchim. -mi]
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Date: Wed, 26 Jan 2005 20:15:02 +0200
From: "D&E-H Bannett" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: Yissachar
I can't say there was popular request, but sufficient request for me to
find the posting to which I referred. It would be a bit difficult to find
in the archives as the subject of the thread was "Yishael". Here it is:
R'Mechy F wrote re: that letters that have no nikkud are not pronounced
<<ah tis true tis true. however there is one exception. and that is the
curious minhog amongst some ba'alei q'rioh (AKA bal koirais) to pronounce
the name of yisokhor as "yisos'khor" -- ...>>
This subject has been mentioned often in the Mesorah list and can be found
in the archives. This curious "minhag" has absolutely no basis. It is
against ALL of the masoretic sources. There is no question that Yissakhar
is pronounced the same way in the entire Tanakh and according to both
ben-Asher and probably ben-Naftali as well,it is pronounced Yis-sakhar.
There are two opinions as to the pronunciation. As stated in both R' Hai
Gaon and Sefer Hahilufin of R' Mishael ben Uzziel, one is Yis-sakhar,
the other is Yish-sakhar. The latter opinion was not accepted despite
the fact that is closer to what Leah said at his naming. (Re: Yish-,
There are also two opinions as to the nikkud, both with the same
pronunciation, Yis-sakhar. Ben-Asher put the kamatz under the first first
sin (shin smalit) and also a dagesh in the same sin, thus doubling it
and then put no nikkud in the second sin, thus omitting it. The second
nikkud, probably ben-Naftali, placed a sh'va nach in the first sin
and the kamatz in the second sin. Both shittot nikkud sound the same,
Yis-sakhar, with the sin pronounced as doubled
All the hilufin record minor changes in pronunciation as heard by the
different ba'alei mesorah. They note things like meteg or no meteg,
kamatz or patach, segol or tzeireh, mil'eil or milra'. As pronunciation
when reading the Torah is something Jews were very careful about,
it is obvious that none of the hilufin could show that there were two
very different sounding ways to read a word. The listed differences are
minor and not easily heard. Yissakhar and Yisaskhar (or Yisasekhar if
they learned dikduk in school) do not sound alike and it is impossible
that both readings could have existed.
It appears that, many years later, in noting the ben Naftali nikkud,
someone reversed the order of the sh'va and kamatz in the two shinim to
create a new and weird sounding name for the gentleman.
At some time around 1700, a smart Jew made a cute vort. One of Yissakhar's
sons was named Yov. In a later listing the son's name is given as
Yashuv. Why the change?
It seems that, upon arrival in Egypt, Yissakhar discovered that Yov was
the name of an Egyptian god. A nice Jewish boy shouldn't have the name
of an avodah zara, so his father changed his name from Yov to Yashuv.
But from where did he get the added shin? Just as Yehoshua got his
yud and sh'va and Avraham and Sarah got their hei's by borrowing them,
Yissakhar took the extra shin from his own name.
This story really shows that Yissakhar agreed with all the ba'alei mesora
as he accepted ben-Asher's nikkud which made an unused shin available to
him. However, before the name change, he might have used ben-Naftali's
nikkud which uses both shinim.
The letter borrowing is a cute story, but not a reason to change the
reading of the Torah from the way that was accepted as standard for well
over a thousand years (if not longer) and deviate from the decision of all
the accepted sources. Upon the appearance of the incorrect reading, the
ba'alei mesorah objected vigorously (R' Shlomo Dubno, R' Wolf Heidenheim,
R' Shlomo Netter) and it did not spread beyond very limited circles.
In the last generation or so, it has suddenly started to spread,
and mostly in litvishe yeshivas. No other eida ever heard of it. If
they were read ben-Naftali's nikkud in Vayetzei, which they wouldn't
dream of doing, nobody would notice as the pronunciation is the same.
Unfortunately, those who decided on two different k'riot adopted the
completely impossible nikkud that came about after the position switching
of the shva and kamatz under ben-Naftali's two shins.
Before somebody corrects me, I'll point out that Sefer Hahilufin and
R' Hai Gaon have slightly different version of the yichus of the two
pronunciations. Sefer Hahilufin says that ben-Naftali said Yis-sakhar and
R' Moshe ben Mocha said Yish-sakhar, Hai Gaon says that ben Naftali said
Yish- and Moshe Mocha said Yis-. Not that it matters to us, because, after
all, both were rejected and, in the entire Torah, all ba'alei mesorah
agree thatthe name is written and pronounced in all its occurrences
according to ben Asher. Or should be.
Well, I got that off my mind.
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Date: Thu, 27 Jan 2005 20:48:41 +0000
From: Chana Luntz <chana@KolSassoon.org.uk>
Subject: Re: Testing a People
>On Mon, Jan 24, 2005 at 09:45:42PM +0200, R' Akiva Blum wrote:
>: What about a novi sheker? He can do a sign which Hashem allows only
>: for the purpose of testing, even though it appears to be solid evidence.
>1- There HQBH gave man the power to lie. The navi sheqer is the liar
>using a ko'ach HQBH placed in the universe. HQBH's role was to provide
>bechirah, not sheqer.
I would say even stronger than this.
We know that there can be a navi sheker from the Torah (something that
I think has to be regarded as a chiddush ie something we would not work
out logically were it not for the Torah telling us this).
What seems to be being inferred by various posters here is that because
we can have a navi sheker, therefore we can have a sheker HKBH. Besides
the fact that we do not deduce things from a chiddush (not to mention
we do not deduce things from chol to kodesh), Hashem specifically told
Moshe by way of the 13 Middos that this is not the case, since one of
those 13 is Emes.
But what you seem to have going on here is that in order to try and
teitch the first few psukim in Breishis in a simple way, people end up
"reinterpreting" (at best) the simple pshat of the yud gimmel midos and
denying the basic essence of HKBH as it has been understood since the
Torah was given. This, it seems to me, is far more problematic than any
of the alternatives it tries to avoid.
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Date: Thu, 27 Jan 2005 16:51:22 +0200
From: "Ari Kahn" <email@example.com>
Subject: age of the U
In a number of private correspondences I have had with people on this list
it became apparent that regarding the issue of the age of the universe
there is some confusion regarding RAKaplan's translation of the writings
of RYDMA Let me preface by stating that RAK did an incredible service
in his publication of a lecture that he delivered on the Age of the
Universe however he does translate kiyum haolam as age of the universe
and not as duration of the universe.
This problem in the translation is certainly an issue, it weakens R
Kaplan's contention that the universe is billions of years old. It does
not necessarily weaken the statement that according to the Ramban and
his student who came to explain the Ramban. This may be RAK sevara in
his translation - the Ramban is speaking about the age of the universe
and the secret behind Maase Berishis. RYMDA adds that he will explain
about something that his Rebbi was reticent to explain. And proceeds to
explain that when speaking of time you need to multiply by 1000.
RAK further contends that according to RYMDA we are in the seventh
cycle therefore he says we should multiply 42,000 by 365,250 and he
arrives at an astronomical age of the universe. I invite everyone to
read a chapter in my book "Explorations" Parshat Bhar, I note there
the mistranslation, (for an excerpt see below) I also note a source
which RAK missed - namely that according to R YDA we are in the second
cycle - this is written explicitly in his commentary to sefer yetzira,
which was published from the manuscript in an academic journal KIRIAT
SEFER (published by Hebrew U). The best review of this material is the
book by Israel Wienstock "Studies in Jewish Philosophy and Mysticism"
(hebrew title, "Bimaglie Hanigla ViHanistar" )162-166
Explorations parshat Bhar - excerpt:
Furthermore, as Ramban said, belief in a G-d who created and sustains
the universe is basic to Judaism. There is a secret, unfathomable from
the verses alone, regarding creation; namely, that there may have been
cycles before ours. "In the beginning G-d created heaven and earth"
refers to the very beginning - arguably, in a previous cycle. The
mystical commentaries have traditions and/or speculate regarding
the question of which cycle we are in now: In a Kabbalistic tract
entitled Ma'arechet Ha'Elokut it says "we don't know in which cycle
we exist... however it would seem that we are not in the first.
R' Dovid ben R' Yehuda haHasid, in "Livnat Hasapir," held the opinion
that the progression of the worlds are in an ascending order within the
"S'firot" and not a descending one, hence the first cycle, rather than
the last, is "Malchut", while the last would be "Chesed". While others
believe that we are in fact in the Sefira of "Gevura" or strict judgment
(the second S'fira ). This in fact would seem to be the accepted view.
Rav Yakov b. Sheshet of Gerona, a contemporary of Ramban, believed
that we are in the cycle of "Din". A student of Ramban, Yitzchak from
Acre also felt this is the cycle of Gevura:
"This world, the Shmita (cycle) which we are in, is the S'fira of Gevura,
as we see all the punishments in this world are via fire" (Yitzchak from
Acre commentary on Sefer Yetzira) 
Rav Yitchak from Acre returns to the topic of cosmic Jubilees in another
treatise, where he states:
"I, The insignificant Yitzchak of Acco have seen fit to write a great
mystery that should be kept very well hidden. One of G-d's days is a
thousand years, as it says `For a thousand years in Your eyes are as a
day ...' Psalms 90:4 . Since one of our years is 365 1/4 days, a year
on high is 365,250 of our years... This is to refute those who believe
the duration of the world is only 49,000 years which is seven Jubilees"(
Otzar Hachaim pp.86b-87b )
The language which R' Yitzchak employs is somewhat reminiscent of
Ramban. He speaks of "a great secret which should remain very well
hidden ". He also gives a key to unlock the mystery. When we speak of
time, inevitably we speak from a human perspective. Yet this vantage
point seems unjustified, inappropriate, prior to the appearance of
humanity. The Jewish tradition, as we saw above, treats G-d's day as
if it were a thousand human years. If we were to apply R' Yitzchak's
tradition, we would find that each cycle of 7000 years is actually
2,556,750,000 years from man's perspective. We should also note that R'
Yitzchak was of the opinion that our history is not in the first cycle,
but the cycle of "Din", which is normally understood as being the second
cycle. If that is the case, when we speak of 5758 years, what we mean to
say is 2.5 billion years of prehistory, after which Adam initiates our
cycle, and our counting of time. [However, if "Din" is the 6th cycle,
as per the opinion cited above, 5 cycles of 7000 years or 35,000 years
as seen from G-d's perspective-- 12,783,750,000 years when seen from
human perspective--transpired before Adam. We must note, that aside
from a desire to approximate the current scientific understanding,
we would have no reason to assume that when R' Yitzchak says Din he
really means the 6th cycle. We should also note at this point that R'
Yitzchak is not dealing with the question of the age of the world,
rather with the duration of the world.]
There has been some misunderstanding on this point in recent years. Rabbi
Aryeh Kaplan, who had intimate knowledge of both physics and Kabbala, has
taught and written of this system in general and the understanding of R'
Yitzchak in specific. R' Kaplan, in a speech delivered to the association
of Orthodox Jewish Scientists in 1979 [keynote address, midwinter
conference February 18th, 1979] asserted that the view of R' Yitzchak
is correct and we must multiply each day by 1000. He further asserts
that the most authoritative interpretation of the Sefer HaT'muna is the
Livnat HaSapir, who believes that we are presently in the 6th cycle:
"When Adam was created the world was 42,000 years old." By multiplying
42,000 by 365,250, R' Kaplan concludes that the universe is 15 billion
years old according to this tradition .
There are a number of problems with this approach. R' Yitzchak, whose
system multiplies one day by 1,000 years, does not say we are in the 6th
cycle, rather that we are in "Din", which would seem to be the second
cycle. The Livnat HaSapir, who says we are in the 6th cycle, does not
multiply a day by 1000 years. Furthermore, even if we are in the 6th
cycle, the world has had 5 cycles pass, each of 7,000 years totaling
35,000 at the appearance of Adam and not 42,000.
Speculation was put to rest by the Ariza"l, who maintained that the cosmic
Jubilees referred to by the Sefer HaT'munah refer to spiritual upheaval
in the "S'firot" and not historical fact. Whether we adopt this view or
the alternate view of the Ramban who contends that the age of the world is
the subject of the Torah's detailed information about the Shmita cycles,
the deep theological significance of this topic of Shmita is clear.
This, then, would answer the first question we raised at the outset
regarding the great lengths to which the text goes in explaining Shmita.
Go to top.
Date: Thu, 27 Jan 2005 10:30:43 EST
Subject: Re: Alternative Medicine and AZ
In a message dated 1/23/2005 4:39:23pm EST, firstname.lastname@example.org writes:
> Bach flowers, homeopathy and chiropracty are not based on any religious
> concepts. Ignoring personal opinion about which is based on theories
> I'd rely upon, I don't see how they're halachically different than
> "mainstream" medicine.
> Accupuncture is based upon Ch'i, which (in turn) inherently screams of
> pantheism akin to buddhism. (Beqitzur: Star War's "the Force" is derived
> from the concept of chi'i. Any one liner definition of the concept will
> be about as inaccurate.) Chakra based therapies are equally problematic;
> it's also a "universal energy" mysticism but with Hindu rather than
> Buddhist derivation.
Chi is life force. It can be understodd in a pantehistic way but so
what it is not neceesary to understand it in a pantheisitc way.
Anyway who denies that our neshama provides our life force and that it is
a chelek Elokim mima'al? The attriubion to AZ is possible but lav davka.
Anyway Kabblisits understand that the universe is PanENTHEISTIC - or
that God prevades everything - as Pnatheists believe abut God also is
ablove it all.
A J-ovah's Witenss pointed out to me on my front door step that God is NOT
on this planet does NOT inhaibt my house and this that the materials used
in the House was not God. Do you agree that God is everywhere or not?
Even a dead body has existence, it is not null and void. Everytning has
life force from HKBH. This is not AZ
> But what if someone took the results without the explanation? A frum
> accupuncturist explained to me his belief. He feels that accupuncture
> caught on in China because it works. Ovedei AZ tried to explain how, and
> invoked their AZ to do so. By making the connection to AZ post-facto,
> he explained how one can use accupuncture without invoking the AZ. His
> poseiq accepted this explanation.
> Reiki has no non-ch'i (which they call by the Japanese name, "ki")
> component. It therefore is not amenable to this kind of division.
-Reiki is simply channeling the Divnie Force from above and uses energy
A Mommy comforting a baby by touching her is using a form of Reiki to
communicate maternal love by energy. She might add some movements and/or
singing but the touch itself is healing. Heaing touch goes away back.
E.g. v'nosata mehodcho - touching - as in Semicah - is a form of energy
The iea of a slave holding the thgh of a master when taking an oath is a
form of power transfer. This is basic life stuff. It isn't AZ anymoe than
modern sun-worshippers equate to aneicnt sun worhippers. Sun worshipping
today is colloquially aobut getting UV rays not about serving an idol -
although there are emotional aspects of AZ in any obsession.
Simlarly all Reiki does is transfer energy that is already outhere and
focus it to heal.
You might as well avoid Chinese herbs because it was discovered by AZ
worshippers or avoid genetics because it was discovered by a Xtian Monk.
Bottom line, there is NO intrinsic AZ in any of these practices. If the
practitioner adds AZ then of course it could be AZ.
After all is bowing AZ? it depneds to whom and how. there is nothing
INTRINSIC about bowing that is AZ.
R. Rich Wolpoe
Go to top.
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