Avodah Mailing List

Volume 15 : Number 043

Tuesday, July 5 2005

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Sat, 02 Jul 2005 21:50:11 -0400
From: Shaya Potter <spotter@yucs.org>

On Thu, 2005-06-30 at 22:53 -0400, T613K@aol.com wrote:
> In a message Avodah V15 #41dated 6/30/2005  RYGB writes:
>> "All knowledge that broadens our understanding of the social and physical
>> realities of the world gives us no little help in understanding the
>> Torah's view of man and creation."
>> Rabbi Samson  Raphael Hirsch p.  205

> p. 205 in which book?

volume 6 of the collected writings, if memory serves me correct, but
it's been a while since I looked at it. It's the volume that contains
his essays on education (I think that's mentioned on the spine).

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Date: Sun, 3 Jul 2005 00:09:28 -0400 (EDT)
From: "R Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer" <rygb@aishdas.org>

T613K@aol.com said:
> p. 205 in which book?

That's the name of the book! An Artscroll bio by Rabbi E. M. Klugmann.

Kol Tuv,
rygb@aishdas.org   www.aishdas.org/rygb

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Date: Sun, 03 Jul 2005 12:41:22 +0200
From: Daniel Eidensohn <yadmoshe@012.net.il>
Re: [Hirhurim] Pesak and Heresy

[RGStudent wrote on Hirhurim:]
>R. Hayim Elazar Shapira, the Munkaczer Rebbe in the early twentieth
>century,cautions, though:
>    But in the end of Shomer Emunim, regarding Providence, one should
>    skip [this section]. It is forbidden to read it. May [the author's]
>    Master forgive him for this stumbling block, that he made generalities
>    and details about Providence, with specifics against our belief
>    in Individual Providence from God on every single detail....
>Minhas Elazar added:
>    .... Do not be surprised, my friend, if you find similar views to
>    [the Shomer Emunim] regarding Providence in books that preceded
>    him. The tradition I received from tzaddikim and hassidim, that is
>    received from our teachers and my grandfather [the Bnei Yissaschar],
>    is that one should skip [this section]...

The above assertion that the Minchas Elazar is declaring the views of
rishonim to be heresy is a misreading.

1) The Shomer Emunim states on page 91 that :"Before all else one needs
to know that nothing - small or large - happens by accident without
G-d's providence. Rather everything is the result of providence of the
Ein Sof.... Even what we call Nature is from G-d...There is nothing not
governed by G-d's providence...Even accident is ascribed to G-d because
everything is from Him with Hashgocha Protis."

2) Then the Shomer Emunim states: "Concerning the details of Providence
and its reasons, I saw fit to divide it into 10 types according to
what I have found in the books of the Mekuballim... The first level
is hashgocha clallis for all the creatures of the world that are not
subject to reward and punishment i.e., animals, plants and minerals.
Their providence is through the intermediaries of heavenly beings which
have been placed in charge of each species."

If you look at Rav Yitzchok Stern's comments to his edition of the Shomer
Emunim page 31-33 he notes:"After the Shomer Emunim states that all is
HP he then divides HP into 10 types. In this he is following the views
of the Rambam even though he doesn't state it explicitly.... The issue
of HP is the source of dispute amongst the gedolim...Nevertheless it
is appropriate to note that the gedolei chassidus who had a favorable
view of the Shomer Emunim and praised it but they differed with him
in this matter of HP. This is so even though the Shomer Emunim says he
is basing his views on the writings of the Kabbalaists. Rav Dov Bear -
son of the Baal HaTanya rejects the views of the Rambam that HP is only
for man "In truth G-d's Providence is on all creatures even on plants
and matter.."... R' Pinchas Koretzer says, "A person must believe
that even straw resting on the ground is the result of G-d's decree
even as to how it is oriented."... R' Menachem Mendel Vitebsk stated,
"there is no dry blade of grass or stone moved except in in the precise
time and place... There is no movement great or or small that has ever
happened - except what G-d has determined." The leaders of the chassidic
movement in later generations brought the views of the Rambam and other
rishonim that contradicted this view and they brought support to the
view of the Besht in particular the Komarno.The Divrei Chaim wrote,
"It is impossible for any creature to exist without G-d sustaining it
and everything is the result of Providence even though the Rambam had a
different view. But the truth is that even a bird is not trapped with out
Providence from Above. The Minchas Elazar view is that it is prohibited
to learn or know the view of HP which contradicts the clear view of
the Besht. Therefore even though he advised the questioner to study
the Shomer Emunim...nevertheless he warns that concerning the Shomer
Emunim's views on Providence they should be skipped and it is prohibited
to read them...When the questioner apparently expressed surprise at the
rejection of the views of the rishonim he stated that he had not made up
this view but he had a tradition transmitted by tzadikim that it should
be skipped. Because everything is from G-d and there is no such thing
as chance for anything. Nevertheless the rest of the sefer is wonderful
and pleasant to study."

We have simply the assertion of the chassidim that one has to accept the
views of the Besht - even if they contradict the views of rishonim. No
where does he or any other rebbe state that it is heresy to accept the
views of the Rishonim. Therefore the Minchas Elazar's views are only
relevant for nature of authority in the chassidic world - and do not
relate to the issue of heresy.

In sum, there are two alternative ways to understand the Minchas Elazar
1) While the Shomer Emunim is the best way to start the study of Kabbala
- nevertheless his views on HP are confusing and contradictory and thus
they must be skipped for *pedagogic* reasons.
2) A chasid must accept the teachings of the Besht - whether or not
they contradict previously accepted views of rishonim. Therefore even
though the views of the rishonim are not heresy even post Besht - they
are not acceptable for a chassid to think or believe. A chassid must
have clearly defined views which are entirely those of his rebbe.

Neither of the above understandings provides a source for declaring
previously accepted views of rishonim to be heresy. However the labeling
previously acceptable views heresy or prohibited is consistent with the
tactics used in the polemical fights against the Reform movement during
the 19th century.

                   Daniel Eidensohn

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Date: Sun, 3 Jul 2005 10:03:24 -0400
From: "David Riceman" <driceman@worldnet.att.net>
Re: [Hirhurim] Pesak and Heresy

[RGStudent wrote on Hirhurim:]
>    But in the end of Shomer Emunim, regarding Providence, one should
>    skip [this section]. It is forbidden to read it.

> This is quite an astounding statement. The Minhas Elazar found a
> section in Shomer Emunim, a classic work on kabbalah (mentioned in Shem
> Ha-Gedolim), that he considered heretical.

Where does he say that is is heretical rather than mistaken?

David Riceman

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Date: Mon, 4 Jul 2005 01:49:01 +1000
From: "SBA" <sba@sba2.com>
The Galanta Rav zt'l HYD

Today [Sunday] was the Yahrzeit of the Kadosh Rav Yehoshua Buksbaum zt'l
HYD the famous Rav and RY in Galanta, Slovakia. He was revered by all who
knew him - but especially by his many talmidim who ahava and closeness
to their rebbe is legendary.
Many would mention their rebbe virtually every day of their lives,
often with tears in the eyes at their memories of this Odom Gadol.
Although he was of Ashkenaz-Oberland stock and his kehilla Galanta
Yechsekel in Shineve and spoke about it regularly.
Also as a yungerman he was part of a group of choshuv 'eidem's - mostly
chassidim -in Ujhely where they all davvened and learned in the 'klaus'.
According to the speaker most of these 'eidem's went on to become rabbonim
and RYs. He was also a chossid of the Darkei Teshuva z'l.

One famous rav described him as a RY during the week and a Chassidish
rebbe on Shabbos when he would spend hours with his talmidim singing
zemiros and saying Torah.

Although some talmidim arranged to rescue him from the Nazi onslaught,
he said that his role was to be with his Kehilla - al Kiddush Hashem.
The Yahrzeit for Galanta and surrounding kehillos is 26 Sivan.
(My maternal grandparents were deported under similar circumstances a
day later from nearby Szerdahely - known pre-war as Little Jerusalem -
a day later with their yahrzeit 27 Sivan tonight). Hashem Yinkom Domom.

The Galanta Rav had a number of talmidim here in Melbourne [sadly only
1 left]. A melava malka is held every year in honour of his yahrzeit.

Last night a speaker related an amazing story which was published recently
by the family of a talmid who lived in Denver.

This talmid was in a brutal Nazi labour camp where every day, they were
marched to exhausting physical work outside the camp.
A Galicianer Yid who was a member of this slave labour group - a TC who
remembered much of Shas baal-peh, would, as they were being marched
to the work place, recite by memory a shtikel gemoro- which they would
then discuss.

After a period of enduring this work under terrible conditions, the
Denver talmid felt that he had no strength to continue and simply gave
up on his life.
That night, his rebbe the GR, appeared to him in a dream and gave him
divrei chizuk and promised that he will survive the camp. Additionally
he taught him the sugyeh of 'Tipas Cholov' [in Chulin].
Next morning when he awoke, he remembered the dream as well as the
gemoro and he asked to give the 'shiur' that day - repeating the sugye
of Tipas Cholov, as he had heard it from his rebbe...

This  speaker also told us a pshat beshem the GR explaining the 'mesorah' of
the word 'Holoych' mentioned 4 times in Breishis:
 'Holoych Venesoya', 'Holoych Vechoseir ', 'Holoych Voshov',
'Holoych Vegodeil'.

The GR said this refers to learning Torah.
If one is Holoych Venosoya - he learns and travels on and on [without
chazoroh] he will find that he is Holoych Vechoseir - he will lose much
of it. Howeve if one is Holoych Veshov [he returns and chazers his
studies] than Holoych Vegodeil....

Midei dabri bo - I though I'd do a Google to see if the GR features on
the www.
I couldn't find much - except for a pshat from - coincidentally -
a Denver Jewish website! quoting from his sefer "Ohr Pnei Yehoshua'
on different mesorah - "Venosan li lechem le'echol uveged >>Lilbosh<<
and ">Lilbosh< es habegodim, Ayin shom:


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Date: Sun, 3 Jul 2005 15:41:41 -0700 (PDT)
From: micha <micha@aishdas.org>
[Aspaqlaria] Conflict Resolution

The first miracle disproving the claims of Korach and his followers
was when the earth opened up and swallowed them, and fire came and
killed the 250 men who tried to offer incense instead of the kohanim.
(Bamidbar 16:31-35) Now one would think that's pretty definitive, and
things would end there. However, how did the masses react? "The whole
congregation of Benei Yisrael complained about Mosheh and about Aharon,
saying: 'You have killed the nation of Hashem!'" (17:6) Mosheh and
Aharon retreat to the Ohel Mo'eid, upon which the cloud demonstrating
Hashem's Presence descended. A plague ensues. And still, the matter isn't
over. Aharon's role as kohein is demonstrated by his taking ketores and
creating a border beyond which the plague can not past. And still the
matter isn't ended.

Finally, each sheivet's leader takes a stick, writes his name on it, and
they are placed together in the Ohel Mo'ed. Only Aharon's stick buds,
flowers, and grows almonds. And finally, the masses accept Hashem's
judgment. What's the difference between the earth opening up and the
plague on one hand, and the flowering staff on the other? One striking
difference is that the first miracles aimed at vanquishing evil. However,
that didn't resolve the confrontation, not only one instead embraced
and built upon the good.

The same is true in internal conflict. When addressing a destructive
emotion or habit, one can gain a measure of success battling the midah
directly. However, in that way the war is never won; it just continues
battle after battle. Instead one has to build upon the more positive
midah whose weakness lead to the existence of the negative. Rather than
attacking a low frustration threshold, build patience; instead of trying
to whittle away one's stinginess, build generosity. The difference
is largely one of attitude, but we can create permanent change only
by building, not destroying. Particularly in our generation, one that
responds more to carrots than sticks.

The same is also true when developing our children's' personalities as
parents. As R' Shelomo Wolbe titled his book "Zeri'ah uBinyan beChinukh --
Planting and Building in Education."

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Date: Sun, 3 Jul 2005 19:11:33 EDT
From: T613K@aol.com
Re: [YGB] Lands and Personalities

In  Avodah V15 #42 dated 7/3/2005  YGB writes -- quoting from (I  think) 
Sefer Tzidkas Hatzaddik:
> ??•?ค?™?” ?ฉ?•?จ?ฉ ?—?™?•?ช?” ?›?ž?• ?ฉ??ž?จ?• (?‘?จ??ฉ?™?ช ?จ?‘?” ?™"?“, ?˜')  ?“?‘?จ?™?™?ช? 
> ?ง?จ?™?Ÿ ?œ? ?ฉ?ž?ช?
> ??•?ค?™?”, ?•?”?™?™? ?• ?ฉ?›?œ ?—?™?•?ช? ?‘?“?‘?จ ?–?” ?•?? ?™?ž? ?ข ?–?” ?ž?”? ?ž?ž?ฉ  
> ?›? ?•?˜?œ ?—?™?•?ช?:
> ?•?œ?›?Ÿ ?›?ฉ?”?—?–?™?จ ?”?ช?•?จ?” ?ข?œ ?›?œ ??•?ž?” ?•?œ?ฉ?•?Ÿ ?•?”?จ??” ?œ?›?œ ??—?ช 
> ?”??–?”?จ?•?ช  ?ฉ?›? ?’?“ ?”?›?—
> ?ฉ?”?•? ?ž?ฉ?•?ง?ข ?•?ง?‘?•?ข ?‘?• ?‘?ฉ?•?จ?ฉ?• ?œ?‘? ?™ ?™?ฉ?ž?ข??œ ?œ? ?ช? ??ฃ ?•?›?•' ?•?›?ž?•
>  ?ฉ??ž?จ?•  ?–"?œ
> (?ค???™?ง?ช? ?จ?‘?ช?™ ?ค?จ?ฉ?” ?›"?) ?œ? ?ง?™?‘?œ?•?”, ?›?™ ??™ ??ค?ฉ?จ ?œ?”? ?œ?”?ฉ?ช? ?•?ช 
> ?•?œ?ฉ? ?•?ช  ?œ?‘?

If you said this in English, I'm afraid it would be condemned as racism
and hate speech.
Did poor Rabbi Grama say something so very different or so very much

 -Toby  Katz

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Date: Mon, 04 Jul 2005 00:04:48 +0000
From: joelirich@comcast.net
zohar vs. gemara

We once discussed a statement IIRC of the Gra that the gemara and the
zohar only disagreed on 1 (IIRC) Halacha.

I was listening to a shiur which mentioned a sefer called "yesh schar"
which had 100+ pages of examples where they disagree.

Has anyone heard of this sefer?

Joel Rich

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Date: Sun, 3 Jul 2005 20:08:43 -0400
From: "S & R Coffer" <rivkyc@sympatico.ca>
RE: hashkafa and psak

On Thu, Jun 30, 2005 Micha Berger wrote:
> On Thu, Jun 30, 2005 at 01:32:34PM -0400, S & R Coffer wrote:
>:                                          Is the halacha that I cannot
>: drink kefira's wine or is the halacha that I cannot drink a koifer's wine?
>: Obviously the halacha (of haray hu kinachri) is discussing a *person*
>: maintaining shittos of kefira.

> Which is not necessarily a kofeir, agreed? 


> Therefore, declaring the beliefs
> to be kefirah is enough to make their believers' wine stam yeinam.

Disagreed. A declaration by a gadol that certain beliefs are kefira is
only enough to make their believers' wine stam yeinam if the declaration
gives the believer a chalos shem koifer and the only time a declaration
of kefira can give its believer that chalos shem is if the declaration is
universally accepted by klal yisroel. Right now the ban is relatively
fresh and therefore we have not yet experienced an "acharei rabbim
lihatos" scenario that would permanently establish it as an indispensable
component of the ikkarim thus conferring a chalos shem koifer on its
beleiver. Please see shu"t CS and the Sefer haIkkarim at the beginning.

> Even if
> we make a big deal about not implying that they are koferim because they're
> people honestly trying to understand the Torah and are using kosher sources,
> etc...

Although the above-mentioned enterprise is certainly laudable, it is not
the purpose of my approach in this issue. I honestly believe, from an
academic standpoint as mentioned above, that although you are maintaining
a shita of kefira (IMO and in the ban's opinion), you are not a koifer
and your wine is not stam yeinam. I got this shita primarily from the
Sefer haIkkarim which I personally consider the most fundamental work
on the subject.

At this point, I would like to add that I have been criticized by certain
people during the course of this thread of being overly-conciliatory
thereby implying that there is nothing essentially wrong with the shittos
found in RNS's book. I therefore want to go on record and say that I
strongly believe that many of the shittos found there are definitely
kefira and assur to believe. His assumption that the academician's
theories of evolution are correct is particularly egregious and is
in direct contradiction to the Torah's account of creation which says
that the materials of this world came into existence immediately. This
assumption has caused him to be misalef dozens of mamarey Chazal, rishonim
and acharonim and is especially unconscionable in view of the fact that
there is so much scientific material out there showing that the theories
of evolution remain unproven to date. There are many other issues with
his book but this one alone suffices IMO, to entirely exclude the entire
book from the pale of Orthodox Jewish literature.

>:> A tinoq shenishba, who does not
>:> have the din of a kofeir, still can't touch my wine.
>: Who says he doesn't have the din of a koifer? ...
> Those poseqim who count him toward a minyan.

Lovely...than those same poskim would not assur that TS's wine. I am
referring to a TS that does not have the heter of these poskim such as
one that openly declares that he is an atheist and does not believe in
any of the Torah etc. A TS of such calibre certainly has the din of a
koifer and cannot be counted as part of a minyan.

>: IIRC, this particular thread began when you questioned the idea that RYSE's
>: pesak could be binding in an aggadic matter. Rav Elyashiv paskened that an
>: old age universe is a shitas kefira and was not permissible to
> maintain....

> There were two parts to my question:
> 1- I could not believe R' Elyashiv meant kefirah in the technical sense.
> Beacause that would mean ruling that a sizable portion (quite possibly
> rov) who believe themselves to be frum believe kefirah. And even if you make
> it clear you're not calling them koferim, their wine is assur, and any
> prospective geirim that they convince would not be geirim.

And I've responded, several times already, "that if you make it clear
you're not calling them koferim", their wine is *not* assur just like R'
Hillel's wine was not assur although he was espousing a shitas kefira.

> 2- Given that he is not talking about actual laws of stam yeinam, minyan or
> anythig else that involves the concept of "one who believes in kefirah", I
> question who the pesaq could be binding. The second you're not talking about
> the pragmatics of belief, how is there a pesaq?

Many times the pragmatics of a belief is the belief itself. The pesak
is that you have to believe this way or another. Just like the first
of the asseres hadibros is a peask that a Jew must "layda ulihamin
shyesh sham matzuy rishon". If you lived in the times of R' Hilel,
his ballei plugta would have told you that you are mechuyav to believe
that R' Hillel's interpretation of the pesukim in Yeshaya are incorrect
although if you did not follow their advice, such as the talmidim of R'
Hillel who I'm sure followed their Rebbi, they would not have called
you a koifer, not assured your wine, not excluded you from a minayan or
any of the other halachic ramifications that you are referring to as
pragmatic. It is assur to believe something that is a sheker (midvar
sheker tirchak) although there may not necessarily be any "pragmatic"
consequences arising from that belief.

> Pointing to the question of "Can I own this book?" is circular. That
> quesition is a consequence of something being kefirah, not the cause.

I know but you were looking so hard for a nafka mena l'maaseh that I
pointed to the issur of owning the book as an actual physical issur
related to the opinions stated in the ban. I didn't mean to say that
owning the book is the cause of the ban. Obviously the cause is either
kefira, zilzul chachamim or other issues as outlined in the ban itself.

>: If RYSE was indeed concerned regarding the aspect of zilzul, I think it
>: would refer to other components of RNS's book such as his flippant way
>: of dismissing certain shittos of Chazal out of hand.

> And what does that have to do with the topic at hand? I'm discussing the
> notion of labeling belief in an old universe to be kefirah. Not trying to
> come up with shiruim to define how much willigness to question is "too
> flippant".

This thread is an outgrowth of your desire to understand how R' Elyashiv's
hashkafos could actually be transformed into a binding pesak. The ban's
estimation of the contents of RNS's book being kefira is only one of
the issues brought up. Even if you happen to disagree with the gedolim's
hashara regarding the kefira aspect, they have given other reasons why
the book must be banned. One of them is zilzul divrei chachamim. Thus,
their estimation of RNS's book being a zilzul divrei chachamim is merely
another reason leading them to assur (pesak) the book.

> The line between choleiq and zilzul is not well defined.
> Certainly no ridicule is involved in our maaseh.

Not in yours but in his...the Gedolim feel otherwise and guess what?

> He respectfully, although
> more frequently than made me comfortable, rejects their opinion as being
> based on classical medicine and zoology.

So do you! You write that you were uncomfortable with the frequency of his
being cholek on the divrei Chazal so much so that you continue to write

> I had this second problem with the book too, which is why I asked my son not
> to read RNS's book until we could discuss it first. 

I mean no disrespect with the following statement but I think that at this
point we can drop all pretences of having a purely academic discussion
about how the hashkafa of the gedolim can turn into pesak and tell it the
way it really is. When it came to your own son, you were apprehensive
about allowing him to read the book without guidance. But here's the
problem. Of the thousands of people that purchased/will purchase the book,
not everyone has a father who is a talmid chacham and can guide them in
what to accept and what to reject in the book. Lucky for klal yisroel, it
has gedolim who view klal yisroel as their children and are concerned for
their welfare just as you are for your own son. Thus, concerned that the
material of RNS's book may have a spiritually deleterious effect on their
"children", the gedolim banned the book, an action which is perfectly
in concert with your action of not allowing your own son to read the book.

Simcha Coffer

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Date: Sun, 3 Jul 2005 20:30:40 -0700 (PDT)
From: Harry Maryles <hmaryles@yahoo.com>
RE: hashkafa and psak

S & R Coffer <rivkyc@sympatico.ca> wrote:
> I mean no disrespect with the following statement but I think that at this
> point we can drop all pretences of having a purely academic discussion
> about how the hashkafa of the gedolim can turn into pesak and tell it the
> way it really is...Lucky for klal yisroel, it
> has gedolim who view klal yisroel as their children and are concerned for
> their welfare just as you are for your own son. Thus, concerned that the
> material of RNS's book may have a spiritually deleterious effect on their
> "children", the gedolim banned the book...

What about the "children" of the AOJS who until now had a way to reconcile
Torah and science through explanations in books like this and now will
be in danger of abandoning a Torah because of an Hashkafa that views such
reonciliations as heresy? For those poor souls who had a college education
and actually studied those sciences that bring up these difficult and
seeming contradictions to a literal reading of the sheshes yimei Bereshis,
they are left with much contradictory data such as fossils dated much
older than 6000 years only to be told "explanations are elusive" or "Fun
a Kasha Shtarb'd min Nisht"? What do you think a ban like this does to
them? And where does that leave Aryeh Kaplan who unequivically believed
the universe is 15 billion years old. Is he now considered an Apikores?


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Date: Sun, 03 Jul 2005 22:52:23 -0400
From: "Yosef Gavriel & Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <ygb@aishdas.org>
Re: [YGB] Lands and Personalities

At 07:11 PM 7/3/2005, [Rn Toby Katz] wrote:
>In  Avodah V15 #42 dated 7/3/2005  YGB writes -- quoting from (I  think)
>Sefer Tzidkas Hatzaddik:

[Deleted - it was gibberish anyway. I was not aware that I posted the
Hebrew to Avodah - it is unlikely I did so, since I know Avodah and
Hebrew don't mix. But if I did so, so I did.]

>If you said this in English, I'm afraid it would be condemned as racism 
>and hate speech.
>Did poor Rabbi Grama say something so very different or so very much worse?

I do not know if Rabbi Grama said "something so very different or so very
much worse." As far as I am concerned, I was merely quoting Reb Tzadok
on the concept of lands and personalities. I did not mean to bring to
bear any focus on his shittos on non-Jews.

Once you bring it up, however, and point it out, I must say that I
repudiate several core ideas of Reb Tzadok. In the final analysis, much
as I love his writings, he was a Chasid and I am not. And not just by
accident of birth. While I understand Reb Tzadok's choice to become a
Chasid, I have not yet made such a choice and do not anticipate doing
so. But even if I did, I would hope that core values that I believe true
by dint of personal consideration, again, not just by accident of birth,
would remain intact.

And that is why Reb Avrohom Elya remains (and, refracted through his
prism, Reb Yisroel) my role model, why his picture is sitting not a foot
away from me on my desk.

I should tell you which other pictures grace the walls of my study:

My grandfather, R' Dov Yehuda Schochet zt"l (picture taken in 1937,
from the pre-Chabad era).
My rebbe in Shaalvim, R' Shimon Zelaznik zt"l, a talmid of Reb Isser
Zalman Meltzer zt"l.
R' Simcha Zisel Broide zt"l, with whom I had significant shayachus when
he came several times to stay in Baltimore.
RSZA zt"l - who had a major impact on my life in the one time I went to
talk to him, and who to me is a model of an Adam HaShalem.


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Date: Mon, 4 Jul 2005 10:04:19 +0300
From: Danny Schoemann <doniels@gmail.com>
Jerusalem get-together

Now that the details are final, I feel comfortable posting this on
Avodah also.

All chaveirim (and their significant others) are invited to a get together
in our home, in Jerusalem, in honour of a visiting chaveirah.

Wednesday, 6 July, R"H Tammuz, from 20:00 - 22:00.

RSVP for details and directions,
- Danny & Naomi Schoemann

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Date: Mon, 4 Jul 2005 22:57:41 +0300
From: Moshe Feldman <moshe.feldman@gmail.com>
R. Aharon Feldman's article about R.N. Slifkin

My reaction to the article (found at http://ftwr.net/SLIFKIN_ARTICLE.doc):
1. Page 1: "As a result, many thoughtful, observant Jews were beset by
a crisis of confidence in the judgment of the signatories. This was an
extremely vital crisis since these authorities constitute some of the
greatest Torah leaders of our generation, authorities upon whom all of
the Jewish people rely for their most serious decisions." R. A. Feldman
now has an ulterior motive to find RNS guilty. I note the fact that it
was widely reported that RAF had traveled to R. Elyashiv to get him
to rescind the ban. Now that he was unsuccessful, the next best step
(though contradictory to the first--unless RAF simply changed his mind)
is to agree with R. Elyashiv.

2. Page 3: "Slifkin has a totally different explanation. Rather than
saying that the six days of creation were literal days, i.e. periods
of time extending from the beginning of one day to the next, which
is the position of the above explanations and of virtually every
commentary on Torah, he posits that they refer to actual 15 billion
literal years during which the world evolved from the first Big
Bang until the creation of man." As RAF cited the Leshem Shevo
V'achlama to the effect that a day may have been much longer,
why is RNS's view that the days of creation = 15 billion years
problematic, especially in light of Gerald Schroeder's suggestion
that 7 days from G-d's point of view (based on the theory of relativity)
= 15 billion years from man's point of view?

3. Page 4: "Furthermore, says Slifkin...the actual order of creation
follows the view of current scientific opinion, that the luminaries
preceded vegetation and that animals preceded birds. . . . . In support
of this theory that the actual order of creation did not follow the
order written in the Torah, Slifkin applies the principle, Eyn mukdam
u-me'uchar batorah – 'The Torah does not follow a chronological order.'
This application borders on the absurd. The Talmud employs this principle
only to explain why two separate portions of the Torah do not have to
follow a chronological order. In no way can it be employed to uproot
the plain meaning of the verses which explicitly give a specific order
for creation." I find this part of RAF's argument compelling. However,
I doubt that RNS' misapplication of ein mukdam u'me'uchar ba'torah
renders his work apikorsus, just wrong.

4. Page 4: "Slifkin goes on to posit that the Theory of Evolution in
one form or another is a fact – only mentioning in passing those eminent
scientists who have discredited this theory because the discovery of the
DNA molecule make it statistically impossible. note 15: Cf. Professor
Alvin Radkowsky, ...the probability of a simple life-form arising
spontaneously from primeval 'soup' and reproducing itself (as current
evolutionary theories have it) is zero, or impossible." Misleading.
The chances for arising spontaneously have nothing to do with *Divinely
guided* evolution.

5. Page 6: "R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach [commented that]...[R.. Avraham's
view], should be mentioned in the name of yesh omrim.' ...Rav Auerbach
responded ...he believes one source to be that it is the accepted
opinion of poskim that we rely on the medical opinion of the Sages to
violate Shabbos even though according to modern medical opinion the
cures are ineffectual and we are violating Shabbos unnecessarily. Thus,
for practical purposes we reject the view of R. Avraham." I disagree.
All RSZA was saying is that the yesh omrim view is a minority view,
not an impermissible view. Because it is a minority view, we are allowed
to rely on the majority view to violate the Shabbos to use such medical
procedures. (As an aside, I find RSZA's proof unconvincing: even if it
were the case that only a minority of poskim viewed medical opinions of
the Sages as effectual, we would still be allowed to try these procedures
on Shabbos, as that would constitute safek pikuach nefesh. ) Moreover,
the incident involving RSZA proves that it is permissible to publish the
yesh omrim view--RSZA surely would not have allowed someone to publish
a yesh omrim view that the moshiach will not come (even though this was
the view of Hillel in the gemara).

6. Page 7: "The Chazon Ish, considered by many to be the posek acharon
(final Torah authority) for our times, writes in his 'Letters' that
'our tradition' is that the shechita of someone who denies the truth
of the Sages whether in the Halacha or Aggada (the non-halachic parts)
of the Talmud is disqualified just as is someone who is a heretic."
First, outside of Israel, few consider the CI to the posek acharon.
Secondly, is it so clear that the CI considered "Aggada" to include all
non-halachic parts of the Talmud, as opposed to issues of hashkafa and
morals? Presumably, Rav Sherira Gaon and R. Shimshon Rafael Hirsch's
shechita was kosher. And if R. Dessler agreed with RNS' view in this
matter (as is asserted by R. Aryeh Carmell, editor of Michtav Me'eliyahu),
why should the CI's view be considered ipso facto correct, inasmuch as
R. Dessler is considered by many (especially followers of the Chazon Ish)
to have been the leading ba'al machshava in the 20th century.

7. Page 7: "How else could we explain numerous examples where the
Sages had scientific information which no scientist of their time had?"
The fact that Hashem revealed *some* scientific information to the Sages
does not prove that *all* scientific information written by the Sages
reflects Divine revelation.

8. Page 8: "if even regarding matters which are not related to halacha,
the Sages say, sod Hashem liyerav, 'G-d reveals the secrets of nature
to those who fear him,' then certainly there must have been siyata
dishmaya (Divine assistance) and even ruach hakodesh (a Divine spirit)
assisting the Sages in their redaction of the Oral Law. It is therefore
inconceivable, to these opinions, that G-d would have permitted falsities
to have been transmitted as Torah She-be-al-peh and not have revealed
His secrets to those who fear Him." But R. Sherira Gaon, etc. would
simply say that the amoraim who recorded these medical opinions were
not recording Torah She-be-al-peh but simply giving an eitzah tova.

9. Page 8: "One of the most powerful reasons why R. Avraham's opinion was
rejected by most opinions, is the introduction of the wisdom of Kabbalah
of the Ari Zal in the sixteenth century. This cast the Sages in another
dimension. Before then, many authorities had held that the esoteric
wisdom described in the Talmud as Ma'aseh Breyshis and Ma'aseh Hamerkava
was science and philosophy. After the introduction of Kabbalah it became
clear that these were the Sefer HaYetzira, the Zohar and the Tikkunim.
This was accepted by the overwhelming majority of Torah scholars since
then. Kabbala made it clear that when the Sages spoke, they based
themselves on their knowledge of the mysteries of creation. This would
give them an accurate knowledge of matters of natural science as well."
First, as Ma'aseh Breyshis and Ma'aseh Hamerkava are not science and
philosophy according to Kabbalah, the Sages were not interested in the
natural science aspect just in the mystical aspect. Second, even if the
majority of rabbanim believe that the Zohar is true, I cannot believe
that those who questioned its authenticity (such as R. Yaakov Emden;
or implicitly R. Saadia Gaon, who stated that the belief in gilgulim is
not a Jewish belief) are now to be branded as holding heretical beliefs.
Third, R. Dessler is claimed to have agreed with RNS (see above), and R.
Dessler's works are suffused with kabbalah.

All in all, I think that with regard to the issue of medicine reported
in the Talmud, RAF has shown that RNS' reflects a minority view, but
not that it is a heretical view.

Kol tuv,

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Date: Mon, 4 Jul 2005 23:00:18 -0400
From: "S & R Coffer" <rivkyc@sympatico.ca>
[Hirhurim] Pesak and Heresy

On July 3, 2005 Harry Maryles wrote:
> What about the "children" of the AOJS who until now had a way to
> reconcile Torah and science through explanations in books like this
> and now will be in danger of abandoning a Torah because of an
> Hashkafa that views such reonciliations as heresy? 

I doubt anyone will abandon the Torah as a result of being taught the
truth however, you do have a point. This is why I feel that the kiruv
world must be retrained with the proper approaches and be supplied with
the appropriate scientific knowledge to support these approaches. In my
own little way, I've been doing this for years now.

> For those poor
> souls who had a college education and actually studied those sciences
> that bring up these difficult and seeming contradictions to a literal
> reading of the sheshes yimei Bereshis, they are left with much
> contradictory data such as fossils dated much older than 6000 years
> only to be told "explanations are elusive" or "Fun a Kasha Shtarb'd
> min Nisht"?

These responses are obviously unacceptable and people involved in kiruv
should not be invoking them. However, there are people trained in the
proper methodologies and as I said above, we need more, much more.

Since you brought up fossils, I will illustrate the appropriate way to
respond to this issue in an upcoming post, hopefully by next week.

> And where
> does that leave Aryeh Kaplan who unequivically believed the universe
> is 15 billion years old. Is he now considered an Apikores?

Of course not. RAK was the hero of the kiruv world and has many thousands
of souls to his credit. But Moshe Rabbeinu was even greater than RAK
and had more souls to his credit. If he could err (vayishma Moshe,
vayitav bi'einav...see Rashi), so could RAK.

[Email #2.-mi]

On Thu, 30 Jun 2005 R' YG Bechhofer wrote:
>>Who says he doesn't have the din of a koifer? And if he doesn't, why
>>can't he touch your wine? There are heterim regarding tinok shenishba
>>but they all deal with circumstances. In the purest sense of the word,
>>a TS most definitely has the din of a koifer (haray hu kinachri). That
>>was precisely R' Chaim Brisker's chidush in the Rambam; nebach en apikorus
>>iz fort en apikorus.

> This is not necessarily so. Many Poskim state that there is no din of
> stam yeinam on wine with which a tinok she'nishba came into contact. See
> Nishmas Avraham YD 133:1 for a long discourse with many marei mekomos.

I don't have a Nishmas Avraham handy but I would be very surprised if
their were any sources that were matir stam yeinam, shechita or anything
else for a TS that formally announced that he did not believe in G-d. R'
Chaim didn't and neither did R' Moshe. In fact, R' Moshe holds that even
if a Jew keeps some mitzvos like hanachas tefillin, but is a michalel
Shabbos bifarhesya, his wine and shechita is still assur even though he
doesn't necessarily have the din of a koifer because we can be toleh that
he is doing it l'tayavon (he needs the parnassa). Kal vachomer if a person
had a full din of a koifer would we say that his wine is yayin nesech.

[Email #3. -mi]

On Fri, 1 Jul 2005 "Rich, Joel" wrote:
> Given our multiple discussions on possible reconciliations, I found the
> following a great tap on the shoulder to remind me what the real issue is:

> "We could find a solution of some kind to this controversy. What in fact
> is theoretically irreconcilable is the concept of man as the bearer of
> the divine image with the equaling of man and animal-plant existences.
> In other words, the ontic autonomy or heteronomy of man is the problem.
> The Bible and Greek philosophical thought separated man from the flora
> and the fauna; science brought him back to his organic co-beings."

Although there can be no question that R' Yosha Ber is 100% correct,
it is insufficient in today's climate. There are too many who, in their
zeal to reconcile scientism with Torah, are willing to compromise all
and adopt the approach that only the divine spirit of man was recently
created. Thus, I believe that the ontic autonomy or heteronomy of all
the major phyla in the taxonomic hierarchy must be adopted without
reservation if we are to be true to the account of creation in the Torah.

[Email #4. -mi]

On Fri, 1 Jul 2005 R' Gil Student wrote:
> R. Hayim Elazar Shapira, the Munkaczer Rebbe in the early twentieth
> century, was asked about studying kabbalah. He answered (Minhas Elazar
> 1:50) that in this pre-messianic era we must study it, especially one
> who desires to. However, he adds, the proper way to go about doing this
> is to first study the important introductory works such as Sha'arei Orah
> and Shomer Emunim. He cautions...
> This is quite an astounding statement. The Minhas Elazar found a
> section in Shomer Emunim, a classic work on kabbalah (mentioned in Shem
> Ha-Gedolim), that he considered heretical. However, he did not suggest
> that the book be burned or banned...

I do not think that the ME believed that the idea of hashgacha pratis
which is not al kol prat uprat was heretical. In fact, until the
advent of the Ba'al Shem Tov, it was unheard of. The Rambam states in
MN that anyone who believes that there is a specific decree from Hashem
about every prat that occurs in the world is a fool. Thus, although the
Chassidishe mesorah is to believe in HP regarding every detail, the ME
would have been hard-pressed to pasken that the other shittos were kefira.

Incidentally, I have spent much time on this sugya and I actually have a
possible approach to reconcile the Rambam with the BST's shita, at least
somewhat. Of course (for anyone who knows me), it is based on Rav Dessler.
If this thread picks up, I will post further.

On a kabbalistic level, an even more rejected approach of the Shomer
Emunim (and the Mishnas Chasidim and R' Yonasan Eybishitz) by the
Chassidishe velt (Chabad) is the idea of tzimtzum which is anything but
in "Or" and not "kipshuto". Chassidim believe that tzimtum cannot be in
"Maor" and must be "eino kipshuto" and anything else is an egregious
error, much worse, I assume, than the hashgacha pratis issue. Although
this approach is the one which I personally follow, the Chassidim
(especially Chabad) definitely got it wrong WRT the Gra's shita which
they assumed was in Maor chs'v. As this topic is primarily kabbalistic
in nature, I will heed the injunction of Chazal regarding derisha b'rabim
and sign off for now.

Simcha Coffer

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