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Volume 14 : Number 093

Sunday, March 13 2005

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Sun, 13 Mar 2005 02:18:43 GMT
From: "kennethgmiller@juno.com" <kennethgmiller@juno.com>
re: sheitels

R' Mendel Singer asked
> I have been puzzled about the role of sheitels for hair covering. ... I
> am wondering about human hair sheitels: 1. Why are they permitted by
> Ashkenazim? This ties in with the reason for hair covering. I thought it
> was erva. ... 2. Why are they considered tznius? R Aryeh Stein replied in
> Areivim that i was because it is a 100% hair covering. Still, considering
> that among the chareidim and chassidim sheitels are the preferred method,
> and most are not only human hair, but many are nicer than the hair
> underneath...

THe answer which I heard many years ago went like this. (Please note
that I have not seen this inside any sefer, nor do I remember where
I heard it, so I could be totally off-base, and would appreciate any
corrections that the chevra would offer.)

The key to this conundrum is that hair is a different sort of erva
than other parts of a woman's body. This can be seen and proven by the
different status of girl's hair (even above bas mitzvah age), versus a
married woman's hair. The married woman must cover her hair, the single
girl does not.

This is true even for the shitos which limit the married woman's
requirement to certain circumstances (away from home, presence of other
women, whatever). It is also true even for the shitos which have certain
requirements for a single girl's hair style (braided, whatever).

As it was explained to me, the above facts prove that the "erva-ness"
of a woman's hair is a simple gezeras hakasuv, unlike the very rational
"distraction" category which applies to other parts of her body. This is a
requirement that she has to comply with. She has to cover her hair, and if
the thing she covers it with also happens to be hair, it doesn't matter.

Akiva Miller

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Date: Sun, 13 Mar 2005 18:08:13 +0000
From: Chana Luntz <chana@KolSassoon.org.uk>
Head Covering

This topic seems to have moved to Avodah, so I am sending this here
(note I have not identified the person I to whom I was responding (but
I have also misplaced their identity, so I have not asked whether they
mind me transferring this to Avodah - do you think we need to, if so we
had better not post this).

Subject:    Head Covering
To:         areivim@aishdas.org
From:       Chana Luntz <chana@KolSassoon.org.uk>
Date:       Sat, 12 Mar 2005 23:04:02 +0000

In message <200503111434.j2BEYE421374@heras.host4u.net>,
areivim-owner@aishdas.org writes:
>Who says not showing a single hair is preferred?

The Zohar.

If you look in Orech Chaim Siman 75 si'if 2 you will see that the Rema
puts the hair that women regularly show from beneath their covering in
the same category as the hair of unmarried women.

However, you will also note that the Magen Avraham and others note that
that the Zohar, in contrast to this Rema, is extremely machmir that
one should not see even one hair of a woman and the Magen Avraham adds
that this is the way it is proper to behave . Note however that the
Magen Avraham himself quotes others who hold that in if one goes from
a place whether the custom is to cover all the hair to a place where
the custom is not to, you can adopt the more lenient position so long
as the woman does not have the intention to return, treating it like a
straight question of minhag.

So, this gets us into the whole question of the extent to which we
follow the Zohar over other sources of halacha (something I think we
have discussed, inter alia, in relation to levayas - Yerushalmi custom
versus others etc).

>It might be trivial, but I'm afraid there are not only legal reasons,
>but also psychological and sociological factors. Among them: Wearing a
>shaitl is specific to Jews, today more so than 30 years ago, when many
>gentile women had one or more wigs. So wearing one makes you (look or
>feel) more Jewish, independent of the din, rather arbitrarily. Add peer
>pressure and competition.

Wearing snoods and tichels in the way that we wear them (as oppose to
the way the Moslems tie their tichels) is also specific to Jews. The big
advantage of shaitels (and I don't tend to wear them) is that they allow
you to pass in goyishe society, because goyim do not necessarily pick
up that one is wearing them - even I think in the old days, at least
casually in the street, whereas the others are obvious. Muslim women
suffer immense social pressure due to being so visible, and the shaitel
avoids that.

In England, so, up to a point, does the snood (strangely enough,
considering that it is a traditional English middle ages design - the
only people who know what it is are middle ages scholars - I had one stop
me in Cambridge who identified it immediately). And while the people in
my office know I wear them for religious reasons, and I reckon my clients
guess, it is not that obvious because they don't know any others - but
that is because all the other female, frum, married, lawyers in the city
(city of London that is) that I know of wear shaitels, so nobody has run
into this snood thing before. Truth is, I bought a shaitel originally,
thinking I would wear it for clients, but I think it wore it for one
transaction, and it became too much of a headache changing in the toilets
before meetings (and it was too uncomfortable for me to even think about
wearing it when I might be pulling an all nighter in the office).

But I do get people stopping me in the street to ask me where I got it,
and they sound most disappointed when I tell them Israel.

>Another factor is, wearing a shaitl is more of a sacrifice:

So I don't necessarily agree with this, it depends which is more important
to you, looking (being) normal and fitting in or comfort. And different
women fall into different categories in this regard. For example, I
never wore high heeled shoes, because I always put comfort over looking
nice. But many women take a different approach, certainly at simchas,
just look around.

Make up is another area - I never wore make-up, except perhaps the
occasional bit of lipstick at a black tie event, and then I married a
man who really likes make up. Sods law, isn't it. So now I do make up
occasionally, - despite it, IMHO, wasting so much time when you could
be doing something more valuable - if I was a serious make-up wearer,
it would kill the time I would prefer to spend learning, not to mention
the cost, you can buy a pretty serious s'farim library with what one
needs to spend to stay seriously made up day after day. But the social
pressures to make up are often huge, and teenage girls are particularly
susceptible to feeling inadequate if they can't do what their peers
do, or what society is telling them they ought to be doing. That is
normal behaviour. Being a lone wolf and having one's head in the Guide
to the Perplexed at 14 rather than making up is NOT normal, it's weird
(even if you don't tell people what you are snuffling out of the library
and certainly not what is going on in your head - and you don't want to
know what other apikorsus I was reading from my local libraries).

But that is why questions of tznius and questions of peer pressure are
a complicated mix. Some people define tznius as not standing out from
the crowd, which, if you follow that definition through means that it
is tznius to do whatever it is that your peers are doing, whether it
is making up or wearing high heels or wearing sheitels or whatever.
It almost doesn't matter what the whatever is, just so long as you don'
t stand out. And that makes sheitels very tznius. Because you don't
go around parading your religiosity on your head like the Muslims do, it
is an internal "Jewish code" thing that only somebody who lives amongst
shaitels knows how to pick. The only thing you want is not to have a
more glamorous sheitel than the next woman and you are there.

Other people have alternative definitions of tznius. Sometimes those
definitions relating to showiness in general, sometimes they focus on
displays of sexuality in particular. Chazal use the term "tznios" (ie
women who are tznius), as opposed to the pritzos, in very interesting
ways, but which are rather different again. (although, I think it
fair to say that like so many amorphous words, people drift from one
understanding to another often without realising it - people giving
talks on tznius, in my experience, will often shift their underlying
definition several times within the talk without appearing to realise
that there may be contradictions).

So bringing questions of tznius into the equation, where we don't even
really have a clear halachic definition, don't lets talk about what
flows from it (as opposed to discussing head covering or leg covering,
which at least has got clearer halachic parameters) has a tendency to
desperately muddy the waters.

Chana Luntz

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Date: Sat, 12 Mar 2005 22:28:28 -0600
From: "Shalom L. Kohn" <slkohn@comcast.net>
Age of the Universe

R. Simcha Coffer wrote in response to my first post:
> Actually, the Gemara does not say that the Torah was created 974
> generations before the Creation. The Gemara (Chagigah) states that 974
> *generations* were *supposed* to be created before the beriah in order
> to satisfy the pasuk of "davar tziva" which is understood to mean that
> ideally, mankind should have lived for a thousand generations before
> being fit to receive the Torah. However, Hashem saw that the world would
> not be able to exist so long without the Torah so he "jumped the gun"
> and gave it after only 26 generations.

Standing alone, the gemarah in Chagiah 13b-14a MIGHT sustain that
interpretation, but one needs to take into account the gemarah in Shabbat
88b (with cognate medrashim) that when Moshe went to receive the torah,
the angels said to Hashem "A hidden treasure (chemdah genuzah) that was
hidden (she-genuzah) before You for 974 generations before the Creation
of the world, You want to give to flesh and blood?" (Zevachim 116b has
the same phrase.). Unless the Torah was created 974 generations before
Creation, it could not have been described as such a hidden treasure.

R. Coffer continues:
> What you are referring to is a medrash (numerous places in MR) which 
> states that the Torah was kadma to the Beriah 2000 years. 

Rabbeinu Bachya (end of pasuk gimmel in Bereishis 1) and others state
that the kedimas Torah is not in literal "time" years so there is no
proof from that medrash that there was any time before creation.

Actually, what R. Bachaya seems to be saying is attempting to
reconcile the medrash of 2000 years (based on an interpretation of the
word Beraysit) and the above gemarot, because 2000 years are clearly
less than 974 generations. So, he says that the 2000 years are not
in literal time, and therefore can be aligned with 974 generations.
(By the way, the explanation of the gemara in Chagigah is that because
Hashem saw that the world could not survive for that long without Torah,
He eliminated 974 generations that would have lived, because the people
would have been evil, and (the gemarah in Chagigah continues) those
reshayim were spread among all the subsequent generations. This is not
"jumping the gun" as R. Coffer suggests, but skipping 974 generational
chapters in history of the world.

None of this, of course, answers the question of the age of the PHYSICAL
universe, but it does seem to undermine R. Coffer's original suggestion
that before Creation there was nothing either physical nor spiritual.


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Date: Sun, 13 Mar 2005 07:32:15 -0500
From: "Yosef Gavriel & Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <ygb@aishdas.org>
Re: Age of the Universe and guided evolution

At 03:59 PM 3/10/2005, [Micha] wrote:
>: RZL asked whether our mesorah allows for "evolution... as asserted by
>: current science." I assume that means that all human beings - including
>: Adam haRishon - evolved. I believe this is not allowed for by our mesorah.

>See RGS's blog Hirhurim "Banned IV - Evolution"
><http://hirhurim.blogspot.com/2005/01/banned-iv-evolution.html>. I don't
>think R' Kook discussed the evolution of Adam, but RGS cited RMKasher
>(Torah Sheleimah Bereishis 738) and RYHenkin (Chibah Yeseirah Ber' 1:26,
>in the back of Benei Banim vol 2), as well as a rumor of a reference
>in Ma'ayan Beish haShoei'vah (RSSchwab) that RGS couldn't find. There's
>also an RSRH quote about evolution in general.

I have seen the one in Orot HaKodesh quite a few times - have used
it in shiurim - and it is not relevant. It is a metaphysical (and,
unfortunately, probably incorrect) application of the concept of evolution
to the spiritual development of civilization. I just looked up the quote
from the Igrot (#91). It is not relevant. It is significant that RAYHK
there promotes the TY's approach as the "*Halachah* [!!!!!] Rovachat" and
"Mefursam *b'Kol* haMekubbalim haKadmonim." But in terms of evolution,
he first dismisses it peremptorily, and only then notes that even were
one to say evolution of *species* took place it would not contradict
the Torah - but nowhere does he sanction, much less suggest - that Adam
HaRishon "Yetzir Kapav shel HKB"H" evolved!"

OTOH, a fellow listmember sent me two intriguing mareh mekomos in the
Sforno: See the Sforno to Bereishis 1:26 and 2:7. I say intriguing,
but certainly not conclusive...


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Date: Sun, 13 Mar 2005 10:47:25 -0500
From: "David Riceman" <driceman@worldnet.att.net>
Re: Relationship of Science to Torah

From: "S & R Coffer" <rivkyc@sympatico.ca>
> 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.

I would like to draw an analogy here. Tanach and Hazal speak in many
places about God having body parts (hands, legs, eyes, etc.). Now almost
all rishonim agree that God doesn't have a body. In fact the Rambam
maintains that someone who thinks that God has body parts is a heretic.
Why then is this metaphor so common?

Luckily for us this is a question that the rishonim deal with, and I
know of two major answers:

1. The Rambam (in maamar t'hiyas hameisim) says that at the time they
received the Torah many Jews were incapable of accepting the concept of
an immaterial God. If God had presented that concept to them directly
they would have rejected Judaism. Instead, God presented a corpus which
would, when read superficially, conform to their prejudices, but which,
when studied carefully, would induce them to abandon those prejudices.

2. Many mekubbalim say that in fact the things mentioned as body parts
are allusions to spiritual things. We train ourselves as youths to read
these passages according to the Rambam's metaphoric approach, but as we
aquire a more sophisticated understanding of God we realize that in fact
pashut pshat is also true. Paradoxically then, pashut pshat is esoteric,
and the metaphoric explanation favored by the Rambam is exoteric.

Does RSC accept (one of) these explanations for this problem? If so, why
doesn't the analogous explanation apply to the age of the universe? If not
why do Tanach and Hazal leave us with the impression that God has a body?

David Riceman 

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Date: Sun, 13 Mar 2005 01:15:01 EST
From: RabbiRichWolpoe@aol.com
Re: It recently became kefira

In a message dated 2/14/2005 9:32:39pm EST, kennethgmiller@juno.com writes:
> At one extreme, I don't know how an authoritative halacha can exist
> without nimnu. (I'm open to suggestions!) At the other extreme, if there
> is no authoritative halacha, then everyone can follow whoever they want.

Perhaps our terms need to be defined better. I would suggest that we do
not have any people or group which has the authority to declare that
"the halacha is such-and-such". Nevertheless, there *is* a level of
observance which HaShem expects me to reach.

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

> I don't know how ANYONE can make that determination We CAN determine
> here on earth what HALACHAH considers a valid Krias Shma, but I don't
> know how anyone on this plane can speak for Hashem on that matter.

Remember the Ba'al Shem Tov stories of the boy who whistled and the boy who 
recited the aleph-bes, etc.? 

If beis din shel mato could really speak for Hashem - expeically in
areas of bein adam lamoakom then wh bother with a beis din shel ma'aloh?

Kol Tuv,
R. Rich Wolpoe

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Date: Sun, 13 Mar 2005 01:24:07 EST
From: RabbiRichWolpoe@aol.com
Re: It recently became kefira

In a message dated 2/17/2005 4:47:43pm EST, micha@aishdas.org writes:
>: Beis Shammai's shitos were specifcally rejected by the Gmara, while
>: Rabeinu Tam's shita was not been rejected by the Gmara. So you have to
>: answer the question: Why is one NOT yotzei following the shita of Rabbeinu
>: Tam since after all Rabeinu Tam's shita is NOT in conflict with the Gmara!

> Other than the Darda'i Teimanim, who said pesaq ended with the gemara?
> 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?

> We have discussed the models of the Maharetz Chayes, the CI, and the
> Dor Revi'i. And R' Chaim Brisker and RSShkop on the chaqira between
> acharei rabim and azlinan basar ruba

I am NOT saying that halacha CANNOT be normative after the Gmara What
I am ASKING is how can you tell for sure that a specific Halachah is
normative after the Gmara. IOW what is YOUR RAYA that Rashi is normative
and Rabbeinu Tam is not?

and if your answer is itself a machlokes, then how can you make a case
for normative BELIEFS that are post-Talmudic since they too might be
subject to the same Machlokes

I am not calling for POSSIBLE paradigms, I am calling for a DEFINITIVE 

Kol Tuv,
R. Rich Wolpoe

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Date: Sun, 13 Mar 2005 15:58:45 -0500
From: "S & R Coffer" <rivkyc@sympatico.ca>
Re: Relationship of Science to Torah

On Wed, 9 Mar 2005 Micha Berger micha@aishdas.org wrote:
:> 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....

> Did you seem to turn up my reply? For that matter, why couldn't you
> similarly find RYGB and my posts of lists of meforashim?

Who says I didn't? (This is only one of several assumptions you have
made about me in your post)

First of all, as your baal plugta, you must be aware that I am
dissatisfied with your responses, which is why I am arguing with you. I
am sorry to say but I do not think that any of your replies to RZL's
above-mentioned list are satisfactory.

Second, you are definitely aware that I had a long debate with RYGB about
this issue where many of his sources surfaced during the course of the
debate (you were CC'ed a copy of every communication) and therefore you
KNOW that I am aware of much of his material. In light of this, your
comment "For that matter, why couldn't you similarly find RYGB... lists
of meforashim?" is puzzling.

Third, you are missing the point entirely. I did not bring up RZL's
previous post in order to prove my point as is evidenced by the fact
that I did not quote even a single one of his sources. I certainly did
not mention his post in order to offer him kudos as RZL certainly does
not require my haskama. What I meant to say is that I thought he was
making a mistake by jumping directly into the Rishonim and not pressing
the point on the merit of the Gemara itself (without the necessity of
relying on meforshim). Thus when RZL stated

"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.)..."

I thought he was leading with his chin by falling into the trap of
immediately relying on the meforshim thereby allowing you to claim
that it was not presumed in the Gemara itself. And although he had a
very long post detailing his shita back in September, I believe he may
have made the same error there. That is the only reason I mentioned
that post. (BTY, when I say that RZL made an error, it is a lashon
'sagi nehor". I actually agree with practically everything he says;
I was just trying to show that his argument can be made directly in
Chazal as you originally requested from him)

> In general, you're working under a major disadvantage. This discussion
> started last Elul. It was about to die down a couple of months ago,
> but then the inyan reemerged in current events. You're now attempting
> what is the third round of the same subject. 

I have a couple of comments to make. Fist of all, these subjects that we
are debating are fundamental to the Ikarei HaEmunah and encompass many
ma'amarei Chazal, Rishonim and Acharonim. They are certainly worth the
effort invested in their review. Bais Shammai and Beis Hillel argued about
"noach lo li'adam" for two and a half years before they finally agreed
on a maskana. Accordingly, it would seem that we still have another
two years before a fully comprehensive due diligence is performed on
this subject.

Second of all, you are misrepresenting the facts. This shakla v'tarya
began with you, not me, and I quote

From: "Micha Berger" <micha@aishdas.org>
> (Still waiting for that ma'amar Chazal that assumes 6 days from yeish
> mei'ayin to Adam...)

That *was* you wasn't it? Why are you waiting for a ma'amar Chazal
regarding a subject that, from your perspective, is already fait accompli?

RZL took you seriously and responded with his post. You debated him on
his post and only after three posts did I join the fray. Get your facts
straight before pointing an accusatory finger.

> Not only don't most of the posters on the subject want to repeat
> themselves, 

Sounds rather presumptuous. What, did you take a poll?

> I'm reluctant to even
> expend the effort to dig up my old posts -- it's a bit of a needle in
> a haystack problem and a bit of not really wanting to deal with your
> reply and getting to the same point a third time.

I never forced you to reply. It's your choice. Do as you wish. (It would
seem that this particular subject is a sore spot for you.)

> You therefore can't jump to the assumption that RYGB's shetiqah is
> hoda'ah, since those of us who were here for the conversation from the
> begining already saw he had an answer to your question of:
:> 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
:> following site:)
:> http://www.aishdas.org/avodah/vol14/v14n076.shtml

Wrong. He had no answer other than to say that he couldn't convince me
and I couldn't convince him regarding RB in Bereishis 1,3. Incidentally,
RYGB admitted openly (I still have the e-mails saved) that the only
unambiguous source he had for a universe older than 5765 years is this
RB, unlike the way you are wont to represent him as having a long list
of unambiguous meforshim.

In RYGB's own lashon "I believe the evidence - both in Chazal and
Rishonim and in nature indicates that the world (or universe) is older
than 5765 years." The operative word here is "indicates" not that the
evidence is conclusive. So, he tyches one way, while someone else can
tytch another way. Besides, older than 5765 can mean 5766. If you ask
RYGB, I bet he will tell you Chazal cannot be used as conclusive proof
that the world is billions of years old and in fact, I doubt he himself
believes it. At the very least, he will tell you (as he has written to
me) that he doesn't know nor does he care.

In addition, he is obviously in disagreement with you regarding what is
and what is not acceptable by the standards of our mesorah as he believes
that evolution is incompatible with our mesorah and you do not. He
refers to anyone maintaining this position a toeh thus, according to
RYGB, you are a toeh (for maintaining that evolution is compatible with
our mesorah).

The upshot of all this is that, in my opinion, our exchanges would best
be served if you stuck to a point by point counter-argument to my points
without resorting to general statements such as "those of us who were
here... saw he had an answer to your question"

> For another example, your comment to RZSero:
:>On Mon, 28 Feb 2005 14:14:47 -0500 Zev Sero <zev@sero.name wrote
:>> "S & R Coffer" <rivkyc@sympatico.ca> wrote:
:>>> 7) Since the beriah is Hashem's creation, it is illogical that he
:>>> 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...

> But RZS isn't referring to the gemara, he's giving a thumbnail reference
> to a point he already made. The argument is more one of sevarah,
> understanding Hashem's motivation by using the model of an artists,
> than a ra'ayah from the gemara. (Personally I think the argument is
> circular, but that's a different issue.)

RZS may not be referring to the Gemara but the idea of comparing Hashem
to an artist (and obviously the place that RZS got it from) was this
Gemara. My point simply is that the Gemara is only making the analogy
in order to show the *superiority* of Hashem over people and thus,
you cannot use the Gemara, or the idea the Gemara represents, to make a
direct analogy equating Hashem and people (regarding artistry) regardless
of whether you are saying it directly in the Gemara or not. And besides,
I simply disagree with the sevara of it. I cannot fathom that Hashem
would create a monumentally misleading beriah and than tell us that it
is not so. It just doesn't make sense (to me).

> ...
:> 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....

> Nor is there an intimation that they are 6 regular days, either.

Last I checked sheish was a number identifying a quantity, that number
being identified as one unit higher than chamaish and one unit lower than
sheva, and yom meant one 24 hour (shaos zmanyos) period. It is used in
this context all across Shas. Why should it mean anything different here?

> Chazal don't speak about time until Adam, whether it's counting the event
> of the hours from his beri'ah to Shabbos,

What happened to RZL'S Gemara in Chagiga of midas yom and midas layla? How
are you tytching that Gemara? Rashi tytches it as 24 hours and none of
the Rishonim disagree. If you have a different tytch in that Gemara, (or
if you adamantly refuse to accept the Rishonim's pshat) it is invalidated
based on the fact that there is a unanimous agreement amongst the Rishonim
regarding its meaning.

> or whether ma'aseh bereishis
> is in Nissan or in Tishrei -- note that whether it's in Elul is NOT the
> discussion, but rather Tishrei, the end of beri'ah. 

Well, as it happens, there are several sources in Chazal that our R'
Eliezer here holds that MB began six days earlier on the 25th of
Elul. (See for instance, Pesikta, (23) and Vayikra Rabbah #39) QED!

> Look at how everyone from the Rambam to the Ari to the Maharasha tell you
> to treat the stories in aggadita. Chazal are concerned with being good
> Jews, not history. 

Ridiculous. The Gemara is full of history. The only way to be a good
Jew is by knowing history. There are several books written by the Neveim
and Chazal that deal exclusively with history.

> If they are silent on whether something is historical, one can't simply
> assume they mean that it is.

Why not? 

I made a point in my post which you apparently overlooked. Chazal (in Rosh
Hashana) talk about MB in the same context as other historical facts that
occurred. Are you saying that because the Gemara was silent regarding the
historical validity of say, Avraham Avinu, that we "can't simply assume
that they mean it is"? Was Philo of Alexandria right? Or have we perhaps
descended into a surreal world where words no longer mean anything, where
one can read (or not read) what he wishes to into the words of Chazal as
long as they conform with his preconceived notions? The entire Gemara
is discussing patently historical episodes; what right do you have to
be motzee the Gemara meeday pishuto?

> But that gets us
> back to the Maharal and "ein doreshin". To explain where we diverge on
> the Maharal, I need to point your attention to the gap between "doreshin"
> and peshat. 

There is no difference between peshat and dorshin in the context that
the Gemara in Chagiga uses it here as we shall see shortly.

:> To go to your 7 objections:
:> First of all, the Maharal does not write that. He says that MB cannot
:> be comprehended in Nevuah however with Chochmah, it can.

> You realize that this would place science on stronger footing than
> reading the Torah literally?

Not today's science. Any of the paleo type sciences are not real science
and are certainly far from the chochmah that the Maharal was referring
to. A true unbiased examination of the beriah would yield the conclusion
that there is an infinitely wise, kindly and omnipotent creator. This
determination is diametrically opposed to the conclusions evolutionary
theories and the like have engendered in the overwhelming majority of
their adherents. Anyone with two eyes can see this. Thus, these "sciences"
don't qualify as chochmah. In fact, they are just the opposite. Chochmah
is revalation, evolution is concealment. The reishis of all chochmah is
"Yiras" (an awareness, from the root word Ra'oh, to see) Hashem. These
savants don't see Hashem, they deny him.

:> 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
:> non-existence.

> He doesn't make this chaqirah, you do in order not to have him as a
> raayah against you. 

There you go again with your assumptions. This is the third one so far.

> The closest he comes to this is using yeish mei'ayin
> as a ra'ayah that MB is totally unlike current experience. Not that "ein
> doreshin" only applies to the word "bara" in Ber' 1:1!

I never said that ein doreshin applies only to the word bara. (Stop
misquoting me for heavens sake.) It applies equally to the entire MB as
will be explained shortly. And besides, I wasn't even talking about ein
doreshin in my second issue. I was addressing your assertion that MB is
entirely incomprehensible. The Maharal rejects this idea before he even
brings up the Gemara of ein dorshin.

I believe you may have been too hasty in your learrning of the
Maharal. For the benefit of the readers of this post, I will quote the
Maharal chapter and verse.

The Maharal in Gevuras Hashem (Hakdama Rishona) begins the sefer by
shtelling zich on the pasuk "Kvod Elokim haster davar, kvod milachim
chakor davar" (the honouring of Hashem warrants one to conceal things,
whereas the honour of kings warrants an investigation of things)

Regarding this pasuk, the medrash states as follows: From Bereishis
to VaYechulu is "kvod Elokim haster davar", from then and on is "kvod
milachim chakor davar"

This medrash prompts the Maharal to launch into an epistemological
description of hasaga. He states as follows:

1) The hasaga (conceptual attainment or grasp) of man, inasmuch as it
relates to him (he means, due to the fact that his own life experiences
are all he can draw upon to form a concept in his mind) for they are his,
(as opposed to another perhaps more elevated creature), it follows that
the davar hamusag cannot be entirely nivdal from him because then it
would not qualify as an attainable hasaga. (he means that something that
is muvdal min haadam ligamrei is entirely outside his frame of reference
and thus cannot possibly be attained by him conceptually.)

2) The Maharal then goes on to say that as a consequence of the above
description, Olam Haba and the immortality of the soul are not mentioned
openly in the Torah. (This will be explained shortly in #4). The Torah is
not like a set of rules issued by a king where one could expect to find,
openly stated, the rewards for obeying the king. The Torah was given
by nevua and thus anything found in it must be able to be comprehended
utilizing the medium of nevuah.

The Maharal now launches into a description of the difference between
nevua and chochmah

3) Nevua is akin to the sense of sight. Just as sight is a medium which is
used to bring an object which is outside of one's self to his awareness,
thus "binding" the perceivers mind to the object, so too nevua is a
medium that is used to bind the navi's awareness to the (spiritual)
concept that is being transmitted to him. Thus, a navi is referred to as
a seer, for he grasps the concept being portrayed to him in a similar
fashion that one would grasp, or be aware of an object that is outside
of him (as all objects are) and is bound to that object via the medium
of nevua. Not so chochmah which uses the (pre-existing) sechel of the
perceiver from which he can draw conclusions from within himself without
requiring a medium to perceive and thus he can entertain (in his mind)
certain concepts that are "ne'elamim v'nistarim" (For a comprehensive
and lucid explanation of the Maharal's shita regarding the distinction
between nevua and chochmah, please see Rav Dessler Michtav II pg. 115)

The Maharal now drives home his point regarding Olam Haba (OH) and

4) Thus, OH cannot possibly be portrayed in nevua due to the fact that
its essence is altogether removed from (the experience) of mankind and
thus nevua, which as we said is akin to sight, cannot "see" (i.e. grasp)
OH and thus is unable to act as a medium to "bind" the navi to his nevua.
Consequently, OH cannot be portrayed in the Torah because Torah is
nevuas Moshe Rabbeinu (and although Moshe was the greatest of neve'im,
even he was incapable of being masig OH as it truly is) Similarily, we
find that the Gemara in berachos says, "all the neve'im were nis'navei
regading yemos hamashiach but regarding OH, 'no eye can see it other
than Hashem's' etc."

The Maharal goes on for a while on this thread, then he entertains
another possible answer for the lack of OH in the Torah, rejects it,
and then concludes his original point as follows:

5) And therefore, although through the medium of sechel it is possible
to entertain lofty ideas that are essentially "removed from a person"
it is not befitting that he do so because hasaga is a form of chibur
(cleaving) and tziruf (binding) to that which is being musag (conceptually
attained) and man has no business being michaber himself to something that
is essentially nivdal from him, thus (and here is the point we have all
been waiting for) the appearance of the world into actual existence is
(conceptually) "removed from the world" in relation to the fact of the
world after it has already appeared into existence. For something in a
state of "havaya" (process of coming into existence) has no connection
to its state after the assumption of existence and therefore, the
hasaga of something that is coming into existence (i.e. yesh meyayin)
and exactly how it happened, pertains to the world before it existed
and is thus totally removed from man that exists within (and relates to)
his world post existence.

The Maharal now introduces the Mishna in Chagiga 11: about ein dorshin
but it is too long to get into. The bottom line is that it is clear that
the word dorshin there means to teach and not that there is a distinction
between pshat and drasha like you wanted to make above.

:> Third, obviously MB can be somewhat expressed, even in Nevuah.  Otherwise,
:> what is Bereeishis 1 doing in the Torah? ...

> Why is any of Ber' in the Torah? We find two reasons: 1- To prove H'
> has the authority to give us EY, and 2- to give us examples from eisanim
> to emulate. 

Once again you have misunderstood the Maharal. If you remember, the
Maharal states that OH does not appear in the Torah at all because it
is ungraspable through nevua. I can think of a thousand good reasons why
OH should appear in the Torah, not least of which that it is one of the
ikray haemunah according to almost everyone. But despite that it does not
appear because it *can't* appear. The Maharal then says exactly the same
about MB (see my #5 above). If he was talking about the purely physical
phenomenon (of which time is a component) of the beriah, then it would
be impossible for Bereishis 1 to appear in the Chumash. Obviously he is
not talking about the physicality of the beriah which is quite graspable
by us and thus was included in the Torah openly. Rather he is discussing
the spiritual forces, the creative effluences that were enacted to bring
the various components of the beriah into existence during the sheishes
yimey bireishis as we stated above.

:> 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...

:> Sixth, there are countless Chazal and medrashim that interpret the
:> that relate to MB. Are you saying that according to the Maharal they
:> 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.

> Issues 3-7 all revolve around derashah. Not taking peshuto shel miqra
> as history. The Maharal says we can't understand the history.

I believe I have refuted you and have nothing more to say on this subject.

I am skipping from  
> This is a critical distinction that your posts don't make...
> To stick to #2 for a while...

because you jump around a lot and I am not confident that I have grasped
your meaning in several places.

> To stick to #2 for a while, I'll skip ahead in your post:
:>> 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...

> Since our "being through it before", I gave a paragraph by
> paragraph summary of the maamar, and where he says it. But that's
> irrelevent. 

Actually its not. You are correct. You *did* give a very nice synopsis
of that ma'amar (way better than RAC if you ask me) but I was just
getting over a bad flu and did not have time to read it properly as I
was seriously backed up at work. My impression from the cursory glance
that I gave your translation was that there really wasn't anything there
that I disagreed with so I never bothered responding. If you are saying
that your translation portrays Rav Dessler differently than I have,
I will look at it again and respond as soon as I can. If you would do
a needle in the haystack search for me and send me the hyperlink to the
appropriate archive I would be grateful.

> RACarmel's paper was cited (with URL) since -- your
> understanding of REED is not that of the meivi la'or.

At the risk of sounding irreverent, too bad. No one is forced to go with
my translation (unless you want the truth :-)

I'm skipping again due to my not understanding several of your issues.

:>> Nor is he, Rashi, or Rabbinu Chananel members of chazal.

:> What's up with the Rishonim bashing? ...

> What bashing? 

I was taught in Yeshiva that Chazal could only be understood through
the prism of the Rishonim. It just seems to me that, in this post,
you are too dismissive of their opinions.

> (In general, you're taking a very combative stance. 

Look who's talking!

> You have
> an entire rebuttal to something RZSero wrote which is actually in support
> of the literalist view, but you seem not to notice that. 

And I still don't. Why don't you let R' Sero defend himself?

> You even ask him
> "Where in the Torah did Hashem reveal to us that he guided the process
> of evolution over billions of years?" on a post where he explains why
> scientific evidence of evolution would be falsified.)

Am I missing something? Let's start again. I posted re guided evolution
which I defined as evolution over billions of years which was guided by
Hashem. I rejected it for seven reasons one of which was that if Hashem
wanted us to know that he was the creator, he shouldn't have allowed
the world to have evolved over 4 billion years thus making the world
look like it was not created. R' Sero replied that in his opinion, it
was OK for Hashem to do this because like artists that create things
that are misleading and then inform people what their real intention
was in their art, Hashem informed us that he actually created the world
(I assume R'Sero means in the Torah) and we should not be misled. Now
in what way do you see RZS explaining " why scientific evidence of
evolution would be falsified"? On the contrary, all the evidence is
perfectly correct. It's just the*conclusion* that the evolutionists draw
from their theories that is incorrect. Like I said above, let RZS reply
if he thinks I misunderstood him.

> I asked you to provide proof that chazal understood Ber' 1 as literal
> history. You didn't quote chazal, you quoted three rishonim, and of the
> three, only the Ramban looks to me like it should be a ra'ayah but REED
> understanding him differently. Therefore, the ra'ayah (not the Ramban)
> is destroyed. Thus, I didn't see a raayah nor chazal's position.

I have no idea what you're talking about. You never asked me to provide
anything and I certainly never provided you any Rishonim. I think you're
confusing me with RZL.

> BTW, your objection to the REED's shitah would make sense if he were
> asserting that yom means a different time span. However, he writes that
> yom means something other than time-as-we-know-it. 

HE DOES NOT! This is a blatant misrepresentation, one which you have made
on several occasions in the past. Rav Dessler writes that in ADDITION
(not in contradiction) to yom meaning 6 literal days, it also has a
deeper, more penimiusdic connotation, meaning the sefiros (which he
associates with the real essence of creation), not "other than time as
we know it" which would be in direct contradiction to a literal six days
and would obviously make absolutely no sense at all. This particular
misrepresentation is actually the reason I joined Avodah in order to
present Rav Dessler's true meaning in this ma'amar.

:> 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
:> guided) evolution".

> Dembski doesn't want to be lumped together with people who use the word
> "evolution", 

Wrong. Dembski *believes* in evolution. He just believes that in
addition to the world evolving, there are phenomenon that are too
complex to have evolved and thus must have been designed. Actually,
Dembski doesn't want to be lumped with the people who use the word
"theistic" (what I call "guided") Please see his entire article at

:> 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....

> A strong need for macha'ah. What a sever condomnation of RSRH, RAYKook,
> the Torah Sheleimah, RACarmel, RAKaplan, R' Breur and numerous others.

You may be mocheh all you want. It doesn't change the fact that these
gedolim were responding to what they thought was irrefutable scientific
evidence and thus, their conclusions are necessarily biased.

> But then you are "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."

> I'm glad you're so sure. Are you sure you don't simply have contact
> with a preskewed population? (Or are you cyclically defining "shelomei
> emuneah?) 

Ahhh...so now the truth comes out. Anyone who does not believe in Michah
Berger's interpretation of MB is pre-skewed. We don't actually have a
valid point of view. Anyone who believes in a literal 6 day creation is
a close-minded fundamentalist. Did I get it right?

[No, I said your statistics are preskewed: Ie that since you tend to
meet people from your own kehillah, you tend to encounter those people
who agree with you. You did not get it right, you're simply showing
the oppositional tone I wrote of last email, and really see no point
debating you. -mi]

My friend, you are seriously misinformed. I have had contact with the
widest range of Judaism possible. First of all, almost all Chasidim
(I am not even aware of any exceptions) believe in a literal 6 day
creation. This already makes us a rov, and you a miyut. In addition,
every mainstream Orthodox Jew that I have come in contact with believes
the same. I have been associated with a dozen different Yeshivos
(including Telz, St. Louis, Lakewood, Mir, Torah Vadaas, Chaim Berlin
and even Mikdash Melech (sfardi) for good measure. All of them are
literalists. Your position is actually a miyut shebimiyut. (not that
this invalidates your shita but lets get the facts straight)

:>> and much proof
:>> that many of them believed in a long duration between Bereishis 1:1 and
:>> 1:2.

:> If by "duration" you mean time, you do not have even one source in Chazal
:> to prove this. Not even one!

> See Bereishis Rabba 1:9. Rabban Gamliel ends up with a beri'ah yeish
> mei'ayin before aretz, tohu, vohu, choshech, and tehom. This is a straight
> naive read of the medrash, not just aliba deTY.

Actually, this medrash seems to be saying precisely the opposite. The
philosopher argued that these items you listed already were in existence
and Hashem just manipulated them into a world and R' Gamliel responded
that Hashem actually created these items, yesh mey'ayin. I do not see
how you are using this medrash.

>  Then there's the other
> ra'ayos brought by RYGB's list of meqoros. (Or do you believe that qabalah
> post-dates chazal?)


:> In addition, even if you would hold like the Tiferes Yisroel, you would
:> only gain a 26000 year old world, not billions of years.

> No, it would give you 20000 years of tohu vavohu AFTER the most recent
> previous world.

Once again, I have no idea what you are talking about. I think you need
to read the TY again.

:>> 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....

> Only if you think there is enough time to explain away the artistry. That
> somehow time can explain how the ratio of strength of gravity to
> electromagnetism was just perfect to create stable starts, that weak and
> strong forces were just so for those stars to produce the more complicated
> elements from which our bodies are composed, a planet to form, etc...

Which is precisely what all of the academicians in almost all of the
universities claim! This is what you do not understand. Evolution
and (earth based and stellar) is simply another term for kefira and
apikorsus. These people are highly intelligent and have huge resources
at their disposal. They are capable of concocting the most complicated
sounding theories to back what they are saying and regularly do so. Once
you say something took 15 billion years, anything *sounds* possible,
regardless how far-fetched.

> Otherwise, give me Bach over Beethoven any day. (See
> <http://tinyurl.com/6l6wa> about Bach, halakhah, and the beauty of
> creating within a framework of rules.)

I hate classical music.

> On Mon, Mar 07, 2005 at 03:50:25PM -0500, RYGB wrote:
:>> This discussion began with the issue of whether our mesorah allows for (a)
:>> evolution and/or (b) the age of the universe as asserted by current
:>> science, whose conclusions are, after all, interwined with, and whose
:>> conclusions use as evidence, alleged physical evidence of an evolving
:>> development of the heavenly bodies, of the earth and of its inhabitants,
:>> including man, over those billions of years. The sources mentioned above
:>> (even if one were to accept their meaning to be as suggested by the above
:>> posters) do not support such an allowance, and indeed speak against it.

> RYGB replied:
:> Our mesorah does not allow for (a) but allows for (b).

> This comes dangerously close to a declaration that those who disagree
> with you have an untenable position (as per last month's discussion of
> the inadvisability of using that word). RSRH's or RAYKook's (et al,
> as per the abovementioned list) position must be viewed as tenable,
> even if you disagree.

RSRH, in the article that I saw, never claimed to believe in evolution. He
just said that even if evolution and millions of years were true, it
wouldn't undermine our Torah HaKidosha. Besides, the fact that a few
gedolim thought that evolution was compatible with the Torah, does not
make it so. Look, you must take a stand. According to the gedolim that
hold that evolution is kefira, they obviously feel that evolution is
not compatible with our mesorah. Either it is, or it isn't but someone
has to be wrong. Its ok even for a gadol to err; it doesn't make him
ois gadol. Like RYGB said, they were not kofrim chs'v, just toim.

Simcha Coffer

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