Avodah Mailing List

Volume 14 : Number 085

Monday, February 21 2005

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Fri, 18 Feb 2005 12:38:26 -0500 (EST)
From: "Micha Berger" <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: New Insight on Seudat Purim

R JosephMosseri wrote:
> Now I recently found in ... VaYaan Shemouel.... The author is Rabbi Shemouel
> Marssiano... [O]n page 18 siman 29 he discusses the situation at
> hand and first he quotes the Baer Hateb (by Rabbi Yehoudah Ashkenazi)
> siman 695 seif qatan 6 "and I found written in the Mordekhi, that
> he would eat seoudat Pourim on Ereb Shabbat , pray arbit, spread a
> tablecloth, make qidoush, and say al hanisim in birkat hamazon." He then
> continues and says that others wrote that no he did not pray arbit at
> that point, for if he did, he would not be able to say al hanisim in
> birkat hamazon. Maharil wrote therefore it seems to me that he should
> say birkat hamazon first then pray arbit in order that he shouldn't
> run into any problems. Now Maran in siman 271 seif 4 writes that it is
> forbidden to even taste anything even water before qidoush, if he began
> prior to shabat he must stop, spread a tablecloth and say qidoush. There
> the Baer Heteb in seif qatan 5 writes that obviously he need not pray
> arbit yet since he is spreading the cloth and saying qidoush, because
> he has begun with something permissible. Maran also writes in the same
> place that if they were drinking wine before hand they must still make
> qidoush but not birkat hayayin (bore feri hagefen) and then say birkat
> hamossi. And see Baer Heteb seif qatan 7 on that. From all he wrote in
> this teshoubah it would seem that he also agrees with Nehar Missrayim
> and Mahariqash to make Seoudat Pourim close to Seoudat Shabbat, saying
> Qidoush in the middle of the meal , saying birkat hamazon with both al
> hanisim and resseh, and praying arbit after birkat hamazon is over.

Because one can begin Shabbos any time between pelag and right before
sheqi'ah (tosefes from Fri is a chiyuv, IIRC, but perhaps the shi'ur is
only tokh kedei dibur), I'm wondering when all this happens. Does one
start eating before pelag, eat up to sheqi'ah, and make qiddush before
eating further? (Better watch the time!) Or does one make qiddush any
time within that interval.

Also, how does one have both Purim and Shabbos at the same time if we're
not talking about tosefes Shabbos? We have the whole problem with Shemini
Atzeres "stealing" from Sukkos, or Shavu'os eliminating the temimus of
the 49th day of omer because being meqadeish one day causes the previous
one to end. (There is even a shtikl Brisker Torah about Tosefes Sh"A.)


Micha Berger             "And you shall love H' your G-d with your whole
micha@aishdas.org        heart, your entire soul, and all you own."
http://www.aishdas.org   Love is not two who look at each other,
Fax: (270) 514-1507      It is two who look in the same direction.

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Date: Fri, 18 Feb 2005 12:25:08 -0500 (EST)
From: "Micha Berger" <micha@aishdas.org>
RE: Bein Adam and Whom?

R Sholom Simon wrote:
>                           What if you learn that what you thought was
> the correct action bein adam lachaveiro was not halachically acceptable.
> And so you change your behavior al pi halacha. In that case, one has in
> mind, both, the shoreshei hamitzvah and avodas H'.

That simply proves that people are capable of ambivalence, that we're
beings of dialectic and antinomy, and have no problem embracing both
sides of a conflict at once. I still feel there is a tension here.

When someone changes their norm in response to learning more halakhah
their reasons could vary on a spectrum between pure obedience to
halakhah causing them to do something that feels less ethical, or to
redefine their ethic. The former would be avodas Hashem at the expence
of building a feeling of areivus. The latter would be developing one's
areivus, and therefore not place Hashem in the middle of a bein adam
lachaveiro interaction. The tension is there, different people will be
pulled to different points.


Micha Berger             "And you shall love H' your G-d with your whole
micha@aishdas.org        heart, your entire soul, and all you own."
http://www.aishdas.org   Love is not two who look at each other,
Fax: (270) 514-1507      It is two who look in the same direction.

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Date: Fri, 18 Feb 2005 08:28:38 -0500
From: "David Riceman" <driceman@worldnet.att.net>
Re: tumas mashkin

From: <remt@juno.com>
> Tumas mashkin was one of the yud-ches davar, in the time of Beis Shammai
> and Beis Hillel.... Since achorayim only applies to tumas mashkin
> (P'sachim 17b), it could not have come earlier; since it is not listed
> among the yud-ches davar, it apparently came later.

Now the 18 things were in the generation predating hurban habayis, as
were the people mentioned in the mishna at the end of the 2nd perek of
Hagigah illustrating bigdei X midras l'Y. If I understand correctly
the cumulative effect of all these gzeiros is to stratify meals: you
may eat only with a (near) adult who observes an equal amount of tohoroh
than you do.

Why then? What happened a generation before the hurban that made Hazal
want to make it harder to dine with your neighbors?

David Riceman 

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Date: Fri, 18 Feb 2005 14:55:54 -0500
From: bdcohen@optonline.net
It recently became kefira

RMB wrote:
> The flaws in the parallel:
> 1- The RT wearer does not do so instead, but as a
> chumrah beyond the din.

> 2- If the question is tefillin, then one can ask about being yotzei
> tefillin. It would only be a question of kefirah is one is following a
> rejected version of a pesaq in kefirah.

I understand your chiluk, and it makes sense. Yet I persist. If following
a rejected (or non-normative opinion) cab be termed kefirah, then isn't
the very act of following the rejected opinion, even if it is done in
conjunction or in addition to following the accepted opinion, an act
of kefirah?

Furthermore, if relying on rejected opinions in amtters of machshava
becomes kefira, how much more so where by ones very actions he is
demonstrating his acceptance of the rejected.

If we return to my R. Tam tefillin example, is not the act of using those
tefilin even after using rashi tefilin a statement that I personally do
not 100% hold like the majority of poskim, and "to be on the safe side"
i.e. to cover myself just in case the psak is wrong. In this formulation
doesn't that cut to the very essence of the halachik process? It would
seem to me that once we posit that the following of a rejected but
formerly valid opinion is kefirah, then many a chumrah can fall into
that category. IMHO, you can't have it both ways, (or IOW pick and choose
your kefirah vs. your chumrah)

Shabbat shalom
David I. Cohen

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Date: Fri, 18 Feb 2005 15:02:29 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: It recently became kefira

On Fri, Feb 18, 2005 at 02:55:54PM -0500, bdcohen@optonline.net wrote:
: I understand your chiluk, and it makes sense. Yet I persist. If following
: a rejected (or non-normative opinion) cab be termed kefirah, then isn't
: the very act of following the rejected opinion, even if it is done in
: conjunction or in addition to following the accepted opinion, an act
: of kefirah?

1- How is it following if one is saying the other is din, but I want
to also... It's accepting the pesaq! I question your use of the word
"following" when one isn't claiming it's din.

2- It's not the act of following a rejected opinion that is necessarily
being called kefirah. It is following a rejected opinion about what is
kefirah that is being considered kefillah. (Definitionally true from
the word "rejected".)


Micha Berger             With the "Echad" of the Shema, the Jew crowns
micha@aishdas.org        G-d as King of the entire cosmos and all four
http://www.aishdas.org   corners of the world, but sometimes he forgets
Fax: (270) 514-1507      to include himself.     - Rav Yisrael Salanter

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Date: Fri, 18 Feb 2005 20:33:24 GMT
From: "kennethgmiller@juno.com" <kennethgmiller@juno.com>
Re: Torah and Science and Jewish vs. Secular chronolgy

R' Micha Berger asked <<< I wondered about the propriety of writing the
article, assuming it is accurate. After all, if Anshei Keneses haGedolah
intentionally hid 168 years, how can we assume it is okay to reveal
them? >>>

Rav Schwab addreses this on pages 270-271, which says, in part:

"... - we still could not have the audacity to unveil a mystery which
was so carefully hidden by our forebears, unless the mystery had become
unveiled all by itself. This has occurred not through our own doing,
but through the archeological discoveries made during the last century
and a half... "

Akiva Miller

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Date: Fri, 18 Feb 2005 15:41:19 EST
From: Emesliameto@aol.com
It recently became kefira

In the letter from Rabbi Sternbuch towards the end, he writes "Simple
calculations from the Bible concerning the generations from Adam lead
to the clear conclusion that the world is less than 6,000 years old".
AFAIK the amount of years from Adam was never contested, only those
before Adam. The definition of the first six "days" is the issue.

All the best,
Yisroel Felder

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Date: Fri, 18 Feb 2005 20:50:53 GMT
From: "kennethgmiller@juno.com" <kennethgmiller@juno.com>
Re: It recently became kefira

R' Micha Berger wrote <<< Do we want to revisit the various models
for pesaq without a Sanhedrin, and whether the mechanism that gives
authority to the mishnah applies to the gemara and if so, to the SA W/
nosei keilim? >>>

Yes. Unfortunately, I don't remember the conclusions/ideas we came up
with there.

<<< See <http://www.aishdas.org/avodah/vol06/v06n090.shtml#17>
by RGS. Also, because there were too many
other posts to point to, my attempted recap at
<http://www.aishdas.org/avodah/vol06/v06n118.shtml#13>. Oddly, none
of which seem to conform to RAMiller's description of RAFeldman's
position. >>>

Almost all of those posts related to conflicts between two
Sanhedrins. Regarding psak WITHOUT a Sanhedrin, all I saw was the
suggestion (at the end of the second of those cites)

<<< that the authority of Sanhedrin derives from the consensus of the
kahal. That the Sanhedrin's role WRT din is the same as their role WRT
purchasing korbanos hatzibbur or kiddush levanah -- they are acting as
representatives of the kahal. I would like to add now that this would
imply that without a Sanhedrin the matter devolves back to the tzibbur,
and that a p'sak backed by consensus DOES have the same authority of
that made by a Sanhedrin. >>>

Really? I always thought that the Chumash described the court system
pretty well. See, for example Devarim 17:8-11. Isn't *that* where "the
authority of Sanhedrin derives from"?

I wrote <<< To give a concrete example, there is a certain time in the
morning, after which HaShem will consider my Krias Shema invalid... >>>

RMB answered <<< Not if eilu va'eilu is literal. Then H' gave us different
mahalakhim that we (in a creative partnership with Him) choose from. This
notion that kelapei Shemaya galyah that one is right and the other not
doesn't fit them both being "divrei E-lokim Chaim". >>>

My understanding of Eilu V'Eilu is that one shita can be right for me
and the other for you. We can both say Shma together, and HaShem will
be satisfied with one of us and upset at the other. In that sense, both
shitos are "right". Is that the same as your understanding, or do you
have a different explanation?

Akiva Miller

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Date: Fri, 18 Feb 2005 17:26:21 EST
From: Emesliameto@aol.com
Rabbi Sternbuch's letter-correction

Rabbi Sternbuch writes "Furthermore these people mistakenly think
they have found support for their views amongst our traditional
sources. In fact, however, we are obligated to always give precedent
to Daas Torah. These are the accepted mainstream Torah views expressed
in the Talmud as well as the writings of the great rabbis through the
ages. Only those views which have been widely accepted are valid and
not minority views that have been rejected or ignored. ..." We know
from the Rambam (Perush Hamishneh San.10:3)that there is no psak in
Agada. R' Daniel Eidensohn in Vol. 14 #73 tried to explain the reasoning
of this idea based on statements of Chasam Sofer. In his Teshuvot he
writes r egarding the view of Hillel that there will not be a personal
Moshiach. "In fact someone today who asserted that there will be no
Moshiach because he accepts R' Hillel's view is in deny the principle of
the Torah to follow the majority position. Since the overwhelming majority
of sages have rejected this view no one has the right to go against that
majority and insist on accepting the sole dissenting view of R' Hillel."
I don't see how this is similar to here. We may not follow the view of
Hillel because the Gemara rejected his view & according to Rambam it is
an Ikar in Emunah, which makes it into a question of Halacha. However in
our case,first of all who says the age of the universe is an Ikar? Even if
we would consider this debate as one in the realm of Halacha, we did not
have a gathering of all the Chachmei Yisroel to debate the topics. If so
the halacha to follow the Rov is only for one who has a sofek. As is well
known a Posek or a Beis Din may pasken against the majority who preceded
them, because they have no sofek. (See Rambam Mamrim Chapter 2 & CM 25.)
R' Eidensohn quotes another statement of Chasam Sofer in his Chidushim
on Beitzah 5A. Chasam Sofer is trying to explain Rambam's statement that
there are no arguments regarding Halacha L'Moshe M'Sinai, which is clearly
not literaly true."However the basis of the Rambam's assertion might
be that in a particular generation the sages gathered together and the
majority agreed with one of the disputants that a certain halacha was in
fact Halacha L'Moshe M'Sinai. Consequently the opposing position became
a minority opinion that was discarded. In subsequent generations it was
not permitted to revive the dispute and rely on the rejected minority
opinion. That is because these matters are not dependent upon logic
but only on the Mesorah. Since the previous generation had decided by
majority vote which view was the correct Mesorah, no subsequent generation
has the right to dispute this majority. This suggestion seems to be
very reasonable unless someone can find evidence against it". Again,
there has not been a convention of all Chachmei Yisroel to debate these
issues, as was done regarding the Halacha L'Moshe M'Sinai's that Chasam
Sofer was discussing. For many people the issues involved in the Slifkin
controversy are not a matter of Sofek. Many people are convinced that the
universe is older than 6000 years & also that Chazal have made mistakes
in science. The reasons to believe so are issues that involve logic,
rather than merely Mesora. I therefore do not think the reasoning of
Chasam Sofer can be applied to this situation.

All the best,
Yisroel Felder

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Date: Sat, 19 Feb 2005 19:17:17 +0200
From: Daniel Eidensohn <yadmoshe@012.net.il>
Re: HaRav M. Sternbuch shlita - Relationship of Science to Torah

David Riceman wrote:
>> <http://www.aishdas.org/avodah/faxes/sternbuchScienceToTorah.pdf>

> I'm having trouble understanding one sentence. In the next-to-last
> paragraph RMS says "I do not know whether all of those who accept the
> view of the scientists - that the world is very ancient - are heretics.
> Howver I do know that only heretics have such views against our Sages -
> who are fully accepted by us."

> Clearly "against our Sages" modifies the second sentence, otherwise
> this would be self contradictory: if only heretics have such views then
> all who hold such views are heretics. I have no idea what the phrase
> "against our Sages" means in this context.

I asked this question to Rav Sternbuch Friday night. He answered that
he was conveying the message that he is declaring that these views are
kefira but he is not saying anything about the persons who holds these
views whether they are to be viewed as kofrim. In this he said he is
following the views of the Raavad that unintentional kefirah doesn't make
the person a kofer. Rav Sternbuch's primary concern is to categorically
assert that the view that the world is more than 6000 years old is kefira
- as is any view that has been rejected from the mainstream.

Daniel Eidensohn

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Date: Sat, 19 Feb 2005 23:19:23 +0000
From: Chana Luntz <chana@KolSassoon.org.uk>
Re: Was kefira or Age of U. or something along those lines.

In message , Mendel Singer <mendel@case.edu> writes
>However, it appears to me that your reading of Adam and Chava is merely a
>reflection of your own issues.

Actually, this is the reading of R Y Henkin, shlita, not of the poster.

>If you have a classical source to support
>this thesis of Adam's sexist behavior, please cite it, otherwise consider
>the following simpler explanations.

>1. Adam tells her not to touch the tree. Why is this treating her like
>a child? he employs a standard approach in halacha that we have myriad
>examples of today, building fence around the Torah. One could just as
>easily argue that he told her this out of love, that he so desperately
>wanted to make sure she came to no harm, that he told her not to touch
>it so she wouldn't come to eat from it and lose his soulmate. As we are
>not privy to many details of the communications between Adam and Chava
>we must be careful about how much we read into the few written lines.

Um, nice try, flat contradiction to Rashi and Chazal though. Rashi states
there on the posuk "lo tigu" "by adding onto the command she therefore
came to diminish it and on this it is said "do not add onto his words"
Mishlay (30:6)" (see also Breishit Raba 19,3, Sanhedrin 29a).

The question should actually be turned on its head - please provide
sources to back up your reading, because my impression is that our sources
pretty much agree that adding in the no touching was a violation of baal
tosif and did not constitute a legitimate fence around the torah.

What Rav Henkin adds to this is not the basic that it was wrong for
Adam to do this, that is pretty uncontroversial from our sources, but an
attempt to understand why Adam did what he did. In that he is actually
not that that far from what you are saying - one loves one's child, that
is precisely why one tries to protect them even if at times that may mean
overprotecting them in ways that may ultimately be to their detriment.

>2. You seem to imply that Chava did not know the name of the tree because
>she described it rather than name it to the serpent. I think it is just
>as easy to say that she did not know if the serpent would know the tree
>by the name Adam knew. Instead, she was more specific, and described it.

But how would that describe it to the serpent? Earlier (Breishis 2:9)
it is specifically the eitz hachayim which is described as being "b'toch
hagan". So if one just refers to the tree b'toch hagan it would seem
most likely that the eitz hachayim is the one meant.

And while like Seforno  (see 2:17) it seems likely that the eitz tov 
v'ra was nearby,  calling it haeitz asher b'toch hagan,  is still 
clearly not a unique identifier given what we know from the earlier 
psukim about the eitz hachaim, so it seems an extremely odd way to 
identify it to the serpent when it has a name of its own which does 
distinguish it from the eitz hachayim.

>There is much, much more to say about this, and the commentaries are
>extensive, and I'm sure others here will be able to do a much better
>job than I in answering this off the top of their heads. I just find
>the whole approach here one of looking to find sexism, when there are
>such simple answers to the contrary.

I think you will have to do better than that if you are going to take
on a talmid chacham of the stature of R' Henkin (I was going to use
the term gadol, but I realise that these days that often seems to be
used only to define somebody on the Aguda moetzes - and since in other
contexts gadol has become a word that has become impossible to define
and using it gets into whose gadol is a gadol debates, lets stick with
talmid chacham, about which there is absolutely no shiala) .

At the very least answers to the contrary need to be in accordance with
the classical meforshim and the psukim themselves.

Shavuah tov
Chana Luntz

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Date: Sat, 19 Feb 2005 20:10:40 +0200
From: Daniel Eidensohn <yadmoshe@012.net.il>
Re: Meor Einayim

Ohrchama@aol.com wrote:
>Gil Student:
>>FWIW, the Netziv also quotes the Me'or Einayim many times.

>Can you please tell us where he quotes him?

Just noticed in this weeks parsha Shemos(28:36) "And we see the image
of the tzitz in the sefer Meor Ainayim who actually saw it with his own
eyes". The words Meor Ainayim are in the new edition of the Netziv. The
older version has just mem ayin. However a brief attempt to find other
examples by computer search on DBS turned up nothing.

Meor Ainyaim was also cited by Tzemach Dovid - student of the Maharal and
Rema - though he criticises him for deviating from the views of chazal.

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Date: Sat, 19 Feb 2005 21:14:56 +0200
From: "Akiva Blum" <ydamyb@actcom.net.il>
Re:Bikurim ("First Fruit") issues

"Schoemann, Danny (Danny)** CTR **" <schoemann@lucent.com> wrote:
> 2. Shvi'is
> This morning somebody asked me if Bikurim applies during shmitta.
> I have no idea. The mishna doesn't seem to talk about it, nor does
> the RaMBaM.
> Can anybody bring a proof either way?
> I thought I could prove something from the 2nd perek of Bikurim where
> it contrasts Bikurim with Teruma & Maaser, but I was unsuccessful.

> 3. Nowadays

> A few years ago I asked R' Dovid Morgenstern shlyt"a if one can fulfil
> the mitzva of Bikurim nowadays (not realising that it didn't apply to
> my Esrog tree).
> He told me to make sure to NOT try make Bikurim, as that would create
> fruit that needed to be brought to the Beis haMikdash - an issue I didn't
> want to have to deal with, (yet).
> From this I gather that when the mishna in Bikurim 2:3 states that
> Bikurim doesn't apply if there's no Beis hamikdash, it means that one
> doesn't/shouldn't do it. However, if one did, the fruit would be Bikurim
> (and a headache.)

1) Rashi in Parshas Mishpotim says that Bikurim apply during shmitto. The
commentries on Rashi all say this is a mistake. Ohr Hachaim in Parshas
Ki Sovo says there is no bikurim during shmitto. See Minchas Chinuch 91.

2) Rav Chaim Kanievsky in Derech Emuno (bikurim chap. 2) quotes the
Chazon Ish based on the Yerushalmi that even if one were to declare his
fruits bikurim nowdays, they would not be bikurim. I'm suprised that R'
Dovid Morgenstern would say otherwise.

Akiva B.

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Date: Sun, 20 Feb 2005 05:12:41 GMT
From: "kennethgmiller@juno.com" <kennethgmiller@juno.com>
70 and 70

Over Shabbos, a friend noted that the same number (70) is used for
the number of nations of the world, and also for the number of Yaakov
Avinu's descendants who entered Mitzrayim. He wondered if anyone draws
a connection from one to the other, possibly along the lines of our
responsibility towards non-Jews, or something like that.

Anyone ever hear of anything like this? Thanks.

Akiva Miller

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Date: Sun, 20 Feb 2005 09:16:38 EST
From: Yzkd@aol.com
Re: Bikurim ("First Fruit") issues

Further to the issue of Bikurim of Peiros Shvi'is enclosed is copy of
footnotes in the new edition of the Minchas Chinuch.

Kol Tuv,
Yitzchok Zirkind

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Date: Sun, 20 Feb 2005 20:53:18 +0200
From: Simon Montagu <simon.montagu@gmail.com>
Re: hamotzi

On Thu, 17 Feb 2005 11:15:23 -0500, Mlevinmd@aol.com <Mlevinmd@aol.com> wrote:
> My minhag is to uncover htme. I think that theit is based on the other
> explanation of why the challos are covered - because it is a busha for
> bread when Kiddush is made on wine and not bread.

I know everybody learns this explanation in cheder, but what is the source
for it? RTK's shita is a Gemara, in perek Kol Kitvei if memory serves.

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Date: Fri, 18 Feb 2005 02:01:07 -0500
From: "Moshe Y. Gluck" <mslatfatf@access4less.net>
RE: Gedolim

R' DC(old):
>> I might concede that initially because of a perceived imminent 
>> danger, a short statement could be issued for immediate 
>> implementation, but it must be followed up with a well reasoned 
>> teshuva supporting the original.

MYG (old):
> I'm sure it will eventually happen in this situation as well.

R' DC:
> I hope that you are correct. I do take issue, specifically where 
> issues of basic emunah are concerned with "eventually".

I understand your point, but I admit that I have mixed feelings about
it. There is so much of Yiddishkeit that is dependent on unreasoned
faith - does it make so much of a difference to a believing Jew if
there is, temporarily, another question? Does anyone have any thoughts
on the matter?

KT and GS,

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Date: Sun, 20 Feb 2005 09:34:43 -0500
From: "David Riceman" <driceman@worldnet.att.net>
Re: HaRav M. Sternbuch shlita - Relationship of Science to Torah

From: "Daniel Eidensohn" <yadmoshe@012.net.il>
> HaRav Moshe Sternbuch, shlita asked me to translate and disseminate his
> letter concerning the relationship of Science to Torah. Please forward
> it to all those who are interested in this issue.
> It has been posted to
> <http://www.aishdas.org/avodah/faxes/sternbuchScienceToTorah.pdf>

I read Rabbi Sternbuch's letter, which Rabbi Eidensohn translated and
disseminated. I feel obliged to demur in deference to the Rambam's honor,
since Rabbi Sternbuch disparaged his opinions. Rabbi Sternbuch cited our
sages (Breishis Rabba 8:8, ed. Theodor Albeck, p. 61, citing R. Yonasan),
who say that a great person ought to take advice even from a lesser
person. I take that to mean that he encourages critical responses to
his letter.

Rabbi Sternbuch cites the Ramban who says that "a person does not have
a portion in the Torah of Moshe unless he believes that everything that
happens in this world is miraculous." (Ex. 13:16, cf. "Drashath Torath
HaShem Temimah" in Kithvei Ramban, ed. Chavel, vol. 1, pp. 153-155)
Rabbi Sternbuch implies that the Ramban was disputing with heretics.
In fact, as the Ramban himself makes clear, he was disputing with the
Rambam (ibid. p. 154). Nonetheless the Ramban himself was far from
considering the Rambam a heretic. Not only did he revere him greatly,
he wrote an encomium praising his piety, scholarship, and, indeed,
his attempt to harmonize Torah and science ("Terem E'eneh Ani Shogeig"
in Kithvei Ramban, vol. 1, ed. Chavel, pp. 336-351).

Rabbi Sternbuch accuses heretical "scientists" of trying to minimize
divine miracles. In his words, "their concern is to make even
the miraculous as close to nature as possible." In fact this is the
methodology of the Rambam, as he himself says clearly in "Ma'amar Tehiyyas
HaMeisim" (Igros HaRambam, ed. Sheilat, pp. 360-361, cf. pp. 371-374).
There he says:

We try to harmonize Torah and science, and to explain everything as
following the laws of nature whenever possible, except when it is
explicitly described as miraculous and it can be interpreted in no
other way.

Rabbi Sternbuch argues that denying a popular belief is a form of heresy
using the following logic: The Rambam (Mamrim 2:2) says that a Sanhedrin
can overrule a custom instituted by a previous Sanhedrin only if it is
greater in number and wisdom. Rabbi Sternbuch draws an analogy between
denying a popular belief and disobeying such a custom. He draws a second
analogy between disobeying the Sanhedrin and being guilty of heresy.
He concludes from these analogies that accepting that the universe is
older than 6000 years is, ipso facto, sufficient reason to be suspected
of heresy.

In fact the opinion of the Rambam is that a person is guilty of heresy
if he denies even one of the thirteen iqqarim. These include the fact
that God created the universe, but they do not include the date on
which God created it. Someone who accepts all thirteen principles is
not a heretic, he is a normal Jew. That is the opinion of the Rambam,
and it is the normative halacha.

I wonder to whom Rabbi Sternbuch addressed his letter. Certainly he
would not have intended the above argument for bnei Torah. Yet Rabbi
Sternbuch's letter is equally unlikely to appeal to scientists.
Rabbi Sternbuch appears to believe that the main impetus to believe
the world is older than 6000 years is evolutionary biology; in fact it
is from several other fields, including geology, physical chemistry,
and astronomy. Rabbi Sternbuch appears to believe that the theory of
relativity is related to biology. I have no idea how he can possibly
believe that. Rabbi Sternbuch argues that the continuous revolution of
the earth proves the existence of God. This argument is the Rambam's
(Yesodei HaTorah 1:5, Avodah Zarah 1:3). The Rambam himself (Moreh
Nevuchim 1:71, ed. Even Shmuel, p. 157) says that it is based on the
false hypothesis that the world is eternal. Certainly modern scientists
have had an adequate explanation, based on Newton's laws, for more than
300 years.

Rabbi Sternbuch describes the Rambam's opinions, which he rejects as
heretical, as "minority views which have been rejected or ignored".
I am aghast at this ignominious description. As far as I know these
opinions are held by a substantial majority of observant American Jews
as well as a majority of observant Israeli Jews.

At the start of my essay I mentioned the Ramban's letter "Terem E'eneh
Ani Shogeig". He wrote that letter to attempt to stop other gedolei
Torah from banning the works of the Rambam. Tragically he failed, and the
controversy eventually resulted in the public burning of the Talmud in the
streets of Paris. Rabbi Sternbuch is intent on reigniting those flames.
I fear that they may burn farther than he intends.

David Riceman

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Date: Mon, 21 Feb 2005 11:48:50 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: R' Elyashuv against prenups

On Thu, Feb 17, 2005 at 04:34:45PM -0500, Shaya Potter wrote:
: so to answer some of my questions. the language of ketubah explicitly
: states that it's "delo keasmachta".
: the prenup language doesn't include that. If the ketubah can include it,
: why not the prenup?

To my mind, the real question is the value of writing "delo ke'asmachta"
on the kesuvah. Saying "nisht Shabbos geret" doesn't stop the rest of
the sentence from being hachanah; and an asmachta can say "I'm not an
asmachta" if the person really doesn't believe he will need to pay.


Micha Berger             "I hear, then I forget; I see, then I remember;
micha@aishdas.org        I do, then I understand." - Confucius
http://www.aishdas.org   "Hearing doesn't compare to seeing." - Mechilta
Fax: (270) 514-1507      "We will do and we will listen." - Israelites

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