Avodah Mailing List
Volume 14 : Number 090
Monday, March 7 2005
Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Fri, 4 Mar 2005 08:05:47 +0100
From: Arie Folger <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: Tefillin Parshiyos and pesaq
<rising from deep, deep lurk>
RMB mentioned repeatedly the well know tefillin dating back to Qumran
and even to the 'Hashmonaim, some of which are in accordance with Rashi
and some of which with RT, while others follow a third interpretation.
RMB, could you perhaps post a link to some material on these tefillin? In
which museum can they be seen, what descriptive paper has been published
on the subject and is publicly readable on the internet? Thank you
<unfortunately likely sinking back into deep lurk for another month or so>
Go to top.
Date: Sun, 6 Mar 2005 00:54:05 -0500
From: "S & R Coffer" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: Relationship of Science to Torah
On Mon, 28 Feb 2005 11:08:58 -0500 Micha Berger wrote:
> On Sun, Feb 27, 2005 at 11:51:14AM -0500, email@example.com wrote:
>: Chagiga 12a:
>: Said Rav Yehudah in the name of Rav: Ten things were CREATED ON THE FIRST
>: DAY: Heaven and Earth, Tohu Va-Vohu, Light And Darkness, Ruach And Mayyim,
>: Middass Yom And Middas Layla.
>: I.e., From yeish meiyan, Hashem created the Heavens and Earth, from which
>: point the first day began. (The meforshim deal with how the first day's
>: time was measured, including the explanation that the heavenly spheres'
>: revolution/the earth's rotation began immediately.)...
> You realize that your conclusion is presumed in these meforeshim, not
> in the gemara itself?
Shtey teshuvos badavar, Firstly, I believe that the above statement is
incorrect. The fact is that ZL's conclusion most naturally presumes in
the Gemara itself as follows.
I ran a search on ZL's posts and turned up an excellent piece (September
9, 2004) detailing an exhaustive list of meforshim that all seem to take
ma'aseh bereishis literally. Although ZL has done us a great service by
investing so much time in researching and cataloguing all these sources,
I would like to add another dimension that I feel he either missed or
I missed in his words (probably the latter).
Chazal speak about Maaseh Bereishis (MB) in many places and nowhere
is there even an intimation that the six days are anything other than
six regular days. For instance, the Gemara in Rosh Hashanah documents
a machlokes between R' Eliezer and R' Yehoshua regarding the month
of creation. The shakla vitarya goes on for close to two blatt and in
addition to MB, several other episodes are introduced into the machlokes
such as leydas and meesas Avos, pekidas Sarah, Rachel and Chanah,
Yetzias Yoseph, Yetzias Mitzraim etc. The common denominator regarding
all these episodes is that they are all found in Tanach and all are taken
literally by the Gemara. Unlike Philo of Alexandria, the Gemara assumes
that if the Torah talks about Avraham Avinu, he is a real historical
figure and the Torah's account is to be taken literally. The same thing
applies to every one of the other episodes listed in this Gemara. Thus,
we have no right to exclude MB from this list unless Chazal inform us,
unambiguously, that MB is to be reinterpreted.
Chazal speak about MB countless of times and never do they state that
the Torah is to be taken out of context. The onus would thus lie on any
individual proposing that Chazal understood MB out of context (e.g. that
Chazal understood MB in terms of millions or billions of years) to prove
his/her contention by citing Chazal in an unambiguous manner. Absent
such proof, it can rightfully be said that Chazal, in numerous places,
support a literal six day creation.
In view of the above, ZL is conclusively illustrating from the Gemara
itself (even without the benefit of the meforshim) that the first day was
literal because in addition to Tohu (which in addition to the physical,
can also be understood as metaphysical/spiritual), midas yom va'layla
(purely material) was also created. From this we see two things. 1)
Nothing, including the purely spiritual, existed before the Torah's
account of Day One, and 2) Day One, in addition to documenting the
spiritual components of the beriah, is also literally a physical day
as evidenced from the creation of "midas yom valayla". Anyone wishing
to take the words "midas yom va'layla" out of their natural context
(literally measurement of day and measurement of night i.e. 24 hours),
would be obligated to support his contention with proofs from Chazal
and Rishonim, not the opposite.
My second "teshuva" is that if, as ZL writes, the meforshim
(i.e. Rishonim) understand the Gemara in this manner, then it *becomes*
Chazal. Who else do we have, other than the Rishonim, to explan the
meaning of the Gemara to us? There is no machlokes amongst the Rishonim
on how to interpret this Gemara. No one argues with Rashi that midas
yom means something other than 12 hours. Thus, Rashi's interpretation
becomes, for all intents and purposes, a maamar Chazal.
> The gemara is choleiq with Bereishis Rabba, which says that tohu vavohu
> is the relic of the previous olam(os).
Really? Says who? Certainly not the Rishonim. If you are referring to the
Tiferes Yisrael, you cannot bring a raayah from him or from anyone for
that matter that was influenced by the modern day scientific dogma. The
TY relied heavily on the fossil "evidence" of the evolutionary geologists
of his times and based his conclusions on these supposed findings. He
(and others) made a heroic attempt to defend the Torah against its
detractors. Perhaps his theory even served a purpose for a time but
today, his scientific evidence has become obsolete (even according to the
current day geologists) and consequently, so have his conclusions. (If
you ask me, I believe the TY would have been chozer from his shita had
he been alive today although I have no proof)
>: Rashi and Ramban have been cited before and are easily found in MIkraos
> Rav Dessler destroyed your ability to use the Ramban as a raayah.
With all due respect, indeed reverence and awe, to Rav Dessler whom
I consider one of my Rabbeim Muvhakim in hashkafah, he cannot destroy
anyone's ability to understand the Ramban. The Ramban states openly that
the six days of creation were literal. No amount of weaselling can change
that. In any case, Rav Dessler does not mean what you say he means. If
anything, what's happening here is a destruction of Rav Dessler, not of
> Nor is he, Rashi, or Rabbinu Chananel members of chazal.
What's up with the Rishonim bashing? Like I said before, if there is
unanimous agreement amongst the Rishonim regarding an opinion in Chazal
that lends itself to interpretation, it is as if a member of Chazal had
openly espoused it in the lashon of the Rishonim.
>: Sanhedrin 38:
>: 12 hours from Adam's creation to birth of two sons and banishment from
>: Gan Eden. (So the sixth day(time) was 12 hours, and the others, including
>: the first, were the same.)
>: My math: Since the sixth day's daytime was 12 hours, then the nighttime
>: was around 12 hours (including the period of "tohu va-vavohu")....
I would just like to mention that I believe this Gemara and ZL's
subsequent math provide incontrovertible evidence of Chazal's opinion
regarding the duration of MB. Yasher koach RZL.
> Rav Dessler questions the measurability of time before the eitz hadaas
We've been through this before. Nowhere does Rav Dessler question the
linear measurability of time. Rather, he deals with Adam Harishon's
*perception* of time as he states no less than four times in the maamar
you are referring to. I have already made this point on Avodah before.
Go to top.
Date: Sun, 06 Mar 2005 08:42:06 -0500
From: Yitzchok Levine <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Chesed Yomi
The recent Daf Yomi Siyum has emphasized Torah study. However, as we
all know, the world rests on three things - Torah, Avodah and Gemilas
Chasodim. Why not have a world-wide Chesed Yomi? The idea is that each
person should try to do at least one act of Chesed each day. BTW,
the Orthodox world is very much involved in Chesed already. See
"<http://personal.stevens.edu/~llevine/giving_credit.pdf> Giving Credit
Where Credit Is Due" The Hamodia Readers' Forum, September 14, 2004 Page
A 96. Nonetheless, why not have a program that encourages each person
to take stock of his actions at the end of each day and ask. "What act
of Chesed did I perform today?" It could be something as simple as,
"I greeted someone today with a friendly smile and a meaningful, 'How
Anyone interested in signing up?
Go to top.
Date: Sun, 6 Mar 2005 21:45:55 -0500
From: "S & R Coffer" <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: guided evolution
On Mon, 28 Feb 2005 14:14:47 -0500 Zev Sero <firstname.lastname@example.org wrote
> "S & R Coffer" <email@example.com> wrote:
>> 7) Since the beriah is Hashem's creation, it is illogical that he would
>> have created a beriah that looks like it was bidavka not created by a
>> Designer chs'v.
> Not illogical. "Ve'ein tzayar keilokeinu"; He is the Supreme Artist,
> and this world is His masterpiece. Artists make things appear to be
> other than they are all the time;
You are taking the Gemara entirely out of context. The Gemara does not
darshin this pasuk to show that Hashem, like other artists, creates
misleading things chs'v. The Gemara darshins this pasuk to show how
superior Hashem is to other artists lehavdil "who are only capable of
etching a form out in a wall (for instance) however the form remains
lifeless, whereas Hashem instils a ruach, a neshama, internal organs and
intestines". This is the extent of the drasha. No further parallels are
made thus your peshat is your own and as you can see, I (respectfully)
> they're not liars, because they tell
> the public what they've done. And He did so, in the Torah.
Really? Where? Where in the Torah did Hashem reveal to us that he
guided the process of evolution over billions of years? My Torah
says that he created everything in six days and everything came about
instantly..."VaYehi Chain" says the Torah...not vaYehi Chain after 4
> In general, I cannot abide arguments that start off assuming what Hashem
> "wouldn't" do. He is not human, and we cannot assume anything about what
> He would or wouldn't do.
Why not? Avraham Avinu did when he confronted Hashem about his intentions
to destroy Sedom. He assumed that because Hashem is the Shofeit kol
haaretz, he would have to do mishpat and not destroy Sedom. If you think
about it, this example is compounded by the thousands as we live with
certain assumptions about Hashem every day, some wrong and some right. The
reason we are able to make certain assumptions about Hashem is because
he imbued mankind with a certain native wisdom, a divine awareness,
(alternatively referred to as a conscience or a neshama etc.) which
makes us capable of grasping certain, though not all, mitzvos without
being told, and allows us to grasp certain ideas about Hashem without
being told. (Chovos Halevavos).
But all this is moot because I was talking about post, not pre Torah eras.
And post Torah, it is quite clear that Hashem wants us to be aware of
his presence in the context of an Almighty Creator.
[Email #2. -mi]
On Tue, 1 Mar 2005 12:44:37 Eli Turkel wrote:
>> First of all, it has been my general experience that most (though not
>> all) people who maintain this view (guided evolution) do so due to a
>> lack of knowledge regarding the Torah sources, the scientific sources,
>> or both.
> One of the fans of guided evolution is Natan Aviezer. As a professor of
> physics he certainlt knows his science. I have not given him a test in
> gemara but would classify him as knowledgable in Torah sources. He has
> spoken on these matters extensively.
I was careful to write "though not all".
Albert Einstein was not impressed with the great minds of the previous
generation that assumed that like sound, light required a medium within
which to propagate (referred to then as luminiferous ether). His rejection
of this idea led him to take what he referred to as "mind journeys"
and viola! Relativity was born!
Well, I disagree with Natan Aviezer and although I am no Einstein,
I am pursuing my own little "Theory of Relativity" Wish me luck :-)
[Email #3 -mi]
On Mon, 28 Feb 2005 14:34:26 Micha Berger wrote
> On Mon, Feb 28, 2005 at 09:44:09AM -0500, S & R Coffer wrote:
>: First of all, it has been my general experience that most (though not all)
>: people who maintain this view do so due to a lack of knowledge regarding
>: the Torah sources, the scientific sources, or both...
> Your experience is not complete. Intelligent design is supported by a
> large number of people who study evolution, geology, cosmogony, or any
> of the related sciences.
I never mentioned Intelligent Design. The subject is guided evolution.
William Dembski, one of the primary exponents of the Intelligent Design
Theory best expresses the incompatibility of "theistic (i.e. Divinely
"Design theorists are no friends of theistic evolution. As far as design
theorists are concerned, theistic evolution is American evangelicalism's
ill-conceived accommodation to Darwinism. What theistic evolution does
is take the Darwinian picture of the biological world and baptize it,
identifying this picture with the way God created life. When boiled
down to its scientific content, theistic evolution is no different from
atheistic evolution, accepting as it does only purposeless, naturalistic,
material processes for the origin and development of life.
As far as design theorists are concerned, theistic evolution is an
oxymoron, something like "purposeful purposelessness." If God purposely
created life through the means proposed by Darwin, then God's purpose was
to make it seem as though life was created without any purpose. According
to the Darwinian picture, the natural world provides no clue that a
purposeful God created life. For all we can tell, our appearance on
planet earth is an accident. If it were all to happen again, we wouldn't
be here. No, the heavens do not declare the glory of God, and no, God's
invisible attributes are not clearly seen from God's creation. This is
the upshot of theistic evolution as the design theorists construe it."
The truth is that both ID theorists and creationists use the idea of
intelligent design to promote their positions, as intelligent design is by
far the most powerful argument for the presence of a Creator/Designer. It
is however my contention that the ID movement suffers from many of the
same issues that theistic evolution does and thus ultimately fails as a
mechanism for explaining the creation of our universe. I am currently
debating this idea with a friend of mine and have not yet solidified
my maskanos regarding this subject but if someone on Avodah calls me to
task on it, I will bl'n respond in a future post.
> And, as already summed up by RYGB, it's the
> literallists who have a mi'ut al mi lismoch.
I am flabbergasted. Are you saying that all through the generations
a billion year universe was the standard way of viewing berias haolam
by our nation? Do you mean to tell me that if we asked Yeshaya hanavi,
or Ezra Hasofer, or Rebbi Akiva, or Rava and Abaye, or Rav Saadya Gaon,
or Rav Yehuda Halevi or the Gra how old the world was, they would have
answered in the billions of years!? Obviously not, as none of them were
influenced by the atheistic shekarim of the evolutionists, unlike the
Jews of the past 175 years. To say that the 'literalists" are a miyut
is a patently false statement! Even today, after the Tiferes Yisroel,
I am sure that most FFB (as opposed to those who were mikurav by Aish
that, I understand, promotes Gerald Schroeder's approach) shlomey emunei
yisroel believe in a young world. We are definitely not a miyut.
As far as RYGB goes, I had a lengthy backchannel debate with him
regarding this issue in which he agreed that his sole unambiguous source
for a billion year world/universe was Rabbeinu Bachya in Bereishis. He
brought the debate to Avodah and I responded with a long post outlining
why RB could not be used as a ra'ayah. (Please see "The A of U" at the
To date, I have not received a response. As far as I'm concerned, Shtika
> We've been debating this since last Elul.
>: countless ma'amarei Chazal which seem to indicate that Chazal understood
>: MB kipshuto, and it contradicts our collective mesorah which our nation
>: has maintained for thousands of years.
> Now we're at "countless maamarei chazal"? We can't even find one we'll
> all agree upon. There is no proof that any member of chazal thought that
> time during the six days (until Adam or the eitz hadaas) resembles time
> as we know it,
Please see my support of R' Zvi Lampel's post on "The Relation of Science
to Torah" which, I assume, will be posted to Avodah Vol 14 #90. Briefly,
I state there that since there are no mamarei Chazal that state openly
that the world is older than 5765 years, it is a tacit assertion regarding
the young age of the universe.
> some proof that members of chazal did not,
No proof, just supposition
> and much proof
> that many of them believed in a long duration between Bereishis 1:1 and
If by "duration" you mean time, you do not have even one source in Chazal
to prove this. Not even one!
> As for the mesorah, are not the Ramban, REED, RSRH, the Tif'eres
> Yisrael, and nearly every mequbal (except the Ari, who does not believe
> the pre-yom 1 shemittos were physical) baalei mesorah?
They certainly are but other than the Tiferes Yisroel, not one of
your above-quoted sources states that there were any shemittos before
the current one. And as you know, I feel that the Tiferes Yisroel was
mistaken. And regarding your statement about "nearly every mikubal",
it is simply not true. First of all, nearly every mikubal, if not all,
since the Arizal does not hold of the shemittos cycles. And even before
the Ari, there were plenty that did not hold of them (list available upon
request). In fact, the whole shemittos doctrine only first materialized
during the times of the Rishonim. We do not find it anywhere in Talmud
Bavli, Yerushalmi or medrashim.
In addition, even if you would hold like the Tiferes Yisroel, you would
only gain a 26000 year old world, not billions of years.
> The Maharal writes that Bereishis 1 can not possibly be understood, and
> you're insisting that countless maamarei chazal tell us to simplyu go
> with a literal understanding?
I have seven issues with your interpretation of the Maharal.
First of all, the Maharal does not write that. He says that MB cannot
be comprehended in Nevuah however with Chochmah, it can.
Second, he is referring not to the physical reality of MB. Rather he
is referring to how creation came about b'poel from a prior state of
Third, obviously MB can be somewhat expressed, even in Nevuah. Otherwise,
what is Bereeishis 1 doing in the Torah? The Maharal explains that Nevuah
is a level of re'eeya. Consequently (me talking now), the physical reality
of the beria is something that can be comprehended by us which is why the
Torah (which was given by Nevuah) openly discusses the physical qualities
of the unfolding of creation and only hints at its spiritual counterparts.
Fourth, the Maharal cannot argue with the Gemara. The Gemara says that
you do not darshin MB to two people but to one its o.k.
Fifth, the Maharal explains this very Gemara to mean that there are
different levels of hevdel min ha'adam which is why MB can be taught to
one and Ma'aseh merkava can not be darshined even to one as it is even
more muvdal min ha'adam than MB.
Sixth, there are countless Chazal and medrashim that interpret the pesukim
that relate to MB. Are you saying that according to the Maharal they were
all in hot pursuit of a wild goose chase as MB cannot be understood at
all on any level?
Seventh, the Maharal himself deals with Maseh Bereishis in countless
places and offers many valuable perushim on these pesukim. I'm sure he
would not have violated his own principles.
>: 2) To say that all of the complex phenomena here on earth took 3.8
>: billion years to evolve severely undermines the idea of the world being
>: the creation of an omnipotent Creator. After all, if it took so long to
>: evolve, what's so miraculous about the complexity here on earth? ...
> Lehefech! With the same results, it shows MORE artistry to reach them
> through self-imposed restrictions than without. Think, not only did He
> make man, but he did so by putting all the pieces in place biollions of
> years before such that He knew they'd all fall out correctly, with no
> intervention that violates the system.
Seems compelling at first but unfortunately, you are begging the question.
You see, once you project inconceivable amounts of time to the evolution
of the world, you no longer have any proof that the inconceivable (i.e.
material, unguided evolution) didn't actually occur. Thus, you have no
Creator to attribute this wonderful "artistry" to. (This is precisely
what the evolutionists are attempting to achieve as RMS noted in his
letter) It is only when one is confronted by the miraculous, instant
appearance of the beriah that he can be compelled to gain the awareness
of an infinitely capable Creator.
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