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Volume 16 : Number 048

Tuesday, December 6 2005

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Tue, 6 Dec 2005 12:43:59 -0500
From: "S & R Coffer" <rivkyc@sympatico.ca>
RE: Rabbinical comments on R. Slifkin's Science of Torah

On December 4, 2005, Daniel Eidensohn wrote:
> Just wanted to post some background information regarding the latest
> round of letters.

Which he does in his characteristically meticulous fashion. But then he
diverges and writes as follows:

> We thus have the problem of an ehrliche talmid chachom - R' Slifkin -
> who has been lauded for years for his success in kiruv being attacked
> for different reasons by different groups. Much of the attacks have not
> conformed with halachic guidelines. The attacks are being done by the
> godolim who define contemporary yiddishkeit. Even more problematic is that
> there is a significant element of the English speaking Chareidi world who
> do not understand either the reason for the attacks or the methods being
> used. All the above has led to a debacle in which rabbinic authority is
> being ridiculed both for what it says and how it says it . It has also
> become a spectator sport in which the secular press - and the Jewish blogs
> - have had a field day talking about the medieval ultra-orthodox Jews who
> are afraid of Science. There seems to be no obvious resolution because
> the issues involved transcend the writings and person of R' Slifkin.

I have several issues with the above paragraph.

1) RDE claims that the bans compromised halachic guidelines yet neglects
to illustrate his point.
2) If one Rav or Rosh Yeshiva signed the ban, I might be comfortable
with the above statement. But since a large number of Gedolim signed
the ban, the allegation of halachic impropriety seems audacious. 
3) There is an implication that contemporary yiddishkeit should not be
defined by gedolim. I find this idea problematic.
4) There is an implication that the only time a ban may be issued is
if the entire frum world understands the motivating factors of the ban,
an obvious impossibility. There will always be dissenters.
5) There is an implication that because rabbinic authority is being
denigrated, the Rabbis should not have issued the ban. I find this
viewpoint problematic. "ki yisharim darchei Hashem, v'tzadidkim yeilchu
6) There is an implication that the secular press and cyberspace babble
needs to affect the decisions of gedolim when they feel they are fighting
for the salvation of their nation, an idea that, once again, I take issue
7) There is an implication that the current "tumel" has transcended the
actual issue at hand, a comment that I take under advisement although
I am not fully prepared to concur with, yet.

Simcha Coffer

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Date: Mon, 05 Dec 2005 15:10:15 -0500
From: "M. Press" <mpress8@optonline.net>

Despite R Micha's sense that this issue has been beaten to death, there
a number of points that might still be discussed.

1. One recent poster has raised the issue of "Lo sosur" with regard
to the opinion of the banners. As has been said before, essentially
all the rishonim say that "Lo sosur" applies only to Sanhedrin. At the
moment the only exception I can recall is the Chinuch, though I seem to
think that I have seen one or two others. It should be clear to anyone
familiar with Halacha that "Lo sosur" has not been cited extensively in
Halachic controversy for almost 2000 years.

2. Statements by Talmidei Chachomim not on Sanhedrin are not sacramentally
binding (that is a Roman Catholic belief) but binding based on their
rationality. Anyone capable of understanding has a right to expect a
Rov to explain the bases of his psak and to debate those bases if he is
so capable. Anyone capable of learning a sugya is entitled to debate
the greatest rosh yeshiva in the latter's understanding of the sugya
(he may be foolish to do so, but that is another matter). Any yeshiva
talmid has had the experience of hearing his rebbi asked a question
which necessitated the revision or abandonment of the rebbi's preferred
approach to an issue. Anyone who has reached the level of learning where
he can be confident in the outcome of his own understanding of the psak
can pasken against the greatest of authorities if he wishes (again, he
may be unwise). Rav Feivel Cohen once told my son-in-law that if he had
learned the sugya many times and was convinced that the Mishna Brura was
in error then my s-i-l should pasken according to his own understanding.
Obviously, disagreement with a talmid chochom should be respectful.

3. We should stop using the term Godol as a blanket authorization to have
an opinion in all areas of Torah. Many of those signed on recent issurim
are people to whom one would never ask a shaila about a chicken, never
show a mar'eh, never expect to be mesader a get, never ask a question in
dikduk, etc. Great knowledge of limited areas remains great knowledge
of limited areas. It is not obvious that many of the prominent osrim
are more expert in Hilchos Deos than they are in Dam or Melicha. I once
overheard a great rosh yeshiva beg off paskenen a shaila in Yoreh Deah
by saying he had never learned Yoreh Deah. One can be a great lamdan
without being fit to sit in Sanhedrin.

4. Not every error is kefirah. One can be wrong and not be an apikorus.
And one can be very learned and be a kofer.

5. Those who demand respect for the current rabbonim should think twice
before speaking contemptuously of geonim and rishonim. To say that
the words of Rav Sherira are apikorsus if uttered today surely requires
strong evidence.

Melech Press
M. Press, Ph.D., Chair, Psychology Dept., Touro College
melechp@touro.edu or mpress8@optonline.net 

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Date: Tue, 6 Dec 2005 17:23:11 -0500
From: "herbert basser" <basserh@post.queensu.ca>
Re: Rabbinical comments on R. Slifkin's Science of Torah

I think the point has to be made that while the haredi world considers the
13 articles of faith as stated by maimonides to define ultraorthodoxy--the
rambam himself states that if he thought the world was never created at
all but always existed he would not hesitate to interpret the bible in
such a way. Clearly, maimonides-- whose articles of faith define right
wing orthodoxy-- supports slifkin's rght to interpret as he thinks
right in regards to the age of the world. How then can RNS be a kofer,
apikoros and rasha? Any ideas??

zvi basser 

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Date: Tue, 6 Dec 2005 13:34:50 -0500
From: "S & R Coffer" <rivkyc@sympatico.ca>
RE: Rishonim and Chazal (was One Opinion)

On November 29, 2005 Daniel Eidensohn wrote:
>>>>[2] The Rishonim believe that Peshat is a legitimate derech fully
>>>>authorized by Chazal, even where the Peshat is not only different from
>>>>the Derush, but even asserts what appears to be the opposite. In this
>>>>case, the Rishon merely reveals one of the Shivim Panim of Torah given
>>>>to Moshe Rabbenu at Har Sinai.

>>>View #2 above represents a new type of rational for the reality that
>>>Rishonim sometimes rejected the views of Chazal. From my research this
>>>distinction was first mentioned by the Maharal....

>>Actually, the Ramban states this approach openly in parshas Noach,
>>(8:4) when diverging from an aggadas Chazal in BR. If you read the
>>Ramban closely you will notice that 1) the Ramban feels like he needs
>>to take rishus from Rashi to be miyashev the pasuk al pi pishuto when
>>it apparently conflicts with a Medrash aggada 2) he mentions that Rashi
>>had a right to do so because of shiviim panim latorah 3) there are many
>>"medrashim chalukim" amongst Chazal themselves...

> Ramban is not utilizing View #2. View #2 requires that there be an
> apparent conflict between chazal and the rishon which is reconciled by
> saying that chazal is medrash while the rishon represents pshat.

I should have read #2 more carefully before posting however I believe
RJO meant to extend his klal to all apparent disputes between Chazal
and Rishonim. IOW, regardless whether the apparent dispute involved
conflicting interpretations in pshat, or a conflict in drush, or one
side was pshat and the other drush, principle #2 would apply. That is
why I feel this Ramban is a perfect example of this principle although
the way it is stated above, your following statement

> There is no such thing is this Ramban.

Is correct.

> In addition his statement regarding Rashi - is not taking permission
> from Rashi. He is simply speaking in a very respectful tone saying just
> as Rashi can produce an analysis which differs from a particular medrash
> so can he.

You're nitpicking. Besides, here's *your* translation from Shevel "But
since in certain places Rashi minutely examines Midrashic traditions and
for the same verses also takes the trouble to explain the simple meanings
of Scripture, he has thus given us permission to do likewise". I said
exactly the same thing.

 Simcha Coffer

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Date: Tue, 6 Dec 2005 03:49:00 -0800 (PST)
From: Harry Maryles <hmaryles@yahoo.com>
Re: Fossil Fuels and exploding stars

Ezra Wax <ezrawax@gmail.com> wrote:
> When Hashem created the world, he didn't create it instantly. Just
> like an explosion happens very quickly, but still takes time, so too,
> the creation of the world. In the process of creation, things that
> scientists have decided had to take a lot of time, could have happened
> much more quickly. It wouldn't be an artificial creation that things
> were made to look old, it would be a necessary part of the process.

So when we see an exploding star today that was 100 million light
years away from earth, we are seeing something that never really
happened? Because as you know the speed of light is constant. That means
the "explosion" that we see from a planet that never existed is only
light that was created to look like an exploding star that from 100
million years ago? And this fake exposion wasa created only 5766 years
ago? at a distance of 5766 light years away?

This makes more sense to you than to say the star was 100 million light
years away from earth?


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Date: Tue, 6 Dec 2005 04:00:38 -0800 (PST)
From: Harry Maryles <hmaryles@yahoo.com>
RE: TIDE and TuM

S & R Coffer <rivkyc@sympatico.ca> wrote:
> Nobody is denying anything. But it's as you say, gentile culture *seeped*
> in; it wasn't allowed in and certainly wasn't encouraged. 

Do you wear a suit? a Tie? Did R. Moshe?

Do you think R Moshe would have worn a tie if there was even a taint of
Issur invloved... historical or otherwise? ...just because it seeped in?

A tie is absolutly a convention of modern "gentile" society and definitely
not a Jewish one. It became Jewish because this is the way men dress
up... ALL (or most) men, not just Jews and not just non-Jews. You still
think all non-Jewish Culture isn't "allowed"?


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Date: Tue, 6 Dec 2005 22:13:54 +0200
From: Eli Turkel <eliturkel@gmail.com>

I am looking for source material on opinions whether the Jewish neshamah
is intrinsically diffrent from that of the non-Jew. The early sources
are Kuzari and Rambam and I would appreciate other people that discuss
the issue

Eli Turkel

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Date: Tue, 6 Dec 2005 15:21:55 -0500
From: Ezra Wax <ezrawax@gmail.com>
Moshiach is coming today


According to certain authorities we have to believe that Moshiach is
coming today.

The difficulty many have with that idea is how can one believe that
Moshiach will come today if he didn't come yesterday and the day
before. These people will say that it is ridiculous to believe something
like that.

I want to propose that if you truly believed that Moshiach will come
today he would come today. And it is because of this reason that we have
to believe that he will come today. And the reason why he didn't come
yesterda= y is because absolutely nobody in the world believed that he
would beleiv sholeim.

It is my opinion that nobody can truly believe anything that is not
true. It is therefore impossible for anybody to have believed that
Moshiach would come yesterday, because otherwise he would be here.

The Gemara brings down that Moshiach said he will come hayom im bekolo
sishmau. So we see that all it takes is shemia to Hakodosh Baruch Hu.

Rav Yisrael Salanter said that Bitul Torah in Vilna causes Chilul Shabbos
in Berlin. I would like to say that likewise, a hirhur teshuva by one
person causes a hirhur teshuva by everyone else. And if the hirhur teshuva
is deep enough, then there will be a complete hirhur teshuva by everyone
else. And then everybody will believe that Moshiach will come today and
he will, because we will all be shomeia bekolo.

So all it takes is one person to bring Moshiach. The Rambam says in his
introduction to the Peirush Mishnayos that the whole world was created
for one person. Be that person. Kol Yisrael Areivim zeh lozeh.

Shkoiach for listening.

Kol Tuv,

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Date: Mon, 5 Dec 2005 22:28:42 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: On minds and brains

On Sun, Dec 04, 2005 at 03:43:52PM -0500, T613K@aol.com wrote:
: IMO this paragraph about multiverses has nothing to do with the rest
: of your excellent posting about minds, brains and souls...

You're right. I spoke about two things -- 1- questioning whether QM
necessitates a special role for the observer; 2- a different resolution
of the mind-body problem.

: There IS a philosophical reason for them to WANT multiverses, of course:
: if there are an infinite number of universes with an infinite number
: of possibilites of how things can work out, then our universe, with its
: mysterious intelligent life, looks less like a miracle and more like
: an inevitibility. Scientists really really hate miracles.

At least, the kind of scientists who feel a need to posit a multiverse
in order to justify the anthropic principle do.

The notion of an infinite number of universes is in fact a theology. One
is just replacing the concept of an Absolute Personal Deity with a
different infinity that could never be accessed empirically. It's
an impersonal, non-purposive religion. Similar to what RnTK writes,
it's just away to get around the implication that we were designed,
and therefore have a purpose and moral duties.


Micha Berger             One who kills his inclination is as though he
micha@aishdas.org        brought an offering. But to bring an offering,
http://www.aishdas.org   you must know where to slaughter and what
Fax: (270) 514-1507      parts to offer.        - R' Simcha Zissel Ziv

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Date: Mon, 5 Dec 2005 23:31:01 -0500
From: "S & R Coffer" <rivkyc@sympatico.ca>
RE: Just curious...

On December 5, 2005 RYGB wrote:
>> Similar R' Tzadok says that because of the revelation of Kabbala
>> the views of the Rishonim regarding Hashgocha protis and Yichud HaShem -
>> now have the status of kefirah.

> where does Reb Tzadok say this?

He doesn't. He only calls the Yichud Hashem part kefira. The mareh makom
is Sefer haZichronos, mitvah #3

Simcha Coffer

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Date: Tue, 6 Dec 2005 14:51:10 +0200
From: "Shoshana L. Boublil" <toramada@bezeqint.net>
Re: Q on Parshas Shemos

From: "S & R Coffer" <rivkyc@sympatico.ca>
> On December 4, 2005, Rivka S asked,
>> The teacher told them that Moshe Rabbeinu spent 7 days debating with
>> HKB"H before agreeing to go to Par'oh (I presume it's a medrash).
>> She asks, "Who was watching his sheep?"

> The same people who watched them for the next 40 years. When Moshe didn't
> return to the sheep, I'm sure his father-in-law hired new sheppards.

I'm sorry, but I beg to disagree. Rivka S's daughter asked a wonderful
question. She has shown herself to be a true compassionate daughter
of Israel.

As to the answer it's simple, and it is written in the Torah. Before
Moshe came, Yitro's daughters watched the sheep.

I'm sure once Moshe Rabeinu became busy with Tzorchei Tzibbur, Yitro's
daughters, including Tzippora, and their children took over the job.

For those living outside Israel, you may find it interesting that
the Bedouin tribes in the Negev and Sinai send their young daughters
(starting at 3 yrs. old) to watch the sheep.

Shoshana L. Boublil

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Date: Tue, 06 Dec 2005 14:51:43 +0200
From: "Tzvi Harris, Halacha Yomit" <tzvi@halachayomit.com>
R" Akiva and Yaakov Avinu

I am helping my son, Akiva Yisrael, prepare a bar-mitzvah drasha.
While thinking about his name, I was struck by the parallels between
Yaakov and Akiva (the name, Rachel, the water, the shepherd issue,
the father-in-law problems etc). I did a search and found that this
was discussed on Avodah over a year ago, but I wasn't able to see that
it lead anywhere. When googling the names Akiva and Yaakov I found a
shiur given at the Gush by Rabbi Yaakov Fisher (anyone know details?) that
appears in the yeshiva's newsletter. This shiur carries the parallels in
the direction of AKV- which is the root of ikviut, being consistent, of
caring for the small details (pachim ketanim, and the Chashmonaim's pach
katan), and of being able to see the summit of kedusha and geulah from the
depths (ekev- heel) as Rabbi Akiva did- from a shepherd to a great TC.
Seeing the geulah from the destruction of the Mikdash, and seeing the
holiness of Sefer Shir Hashirim (kodesh kodashim) where others saw chulin.

Forgive my English, I'm aware that I butchered the above sentences. 

If anyone has something to add, I'll be happy to here about. 


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Date: Tue, 6 Dec 2005 08:01:13 -0500
From: "David Riceman" <driceman@worldnet.att.net>
Re: Being exposed to minus

From: "S & R Coffer" <rivkyc@sympatico.ca>
> Perhaps the answer is that at the time these AZ initially appeared, it was
> takka assur to speak their names but once they entered the canon they 
> became
> mutar.

Often the name found in Tanach is not, in fact, the name recorded in 
contemporary documents, but a nasty pun based on the name.

David Riceman 

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Date: Tue, 6 Dec 2005 12:27:33 -0500
From: "Feldhamer, Stuart" <Stuart.Feldhamer@us.cibc.com>
Re: Being exposed to minus

From: Daniel Eidensohn <yadmoshe@012.net.il>
> We find the term Yeshu mentioned in the rishonim. The Gra poskens that a
> person who became an AZ and died - it is permissible to mention his name.

Yeshu is even mentioned in the Talmud Bavli...


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Date: Tue, 6 Dec 2005 14:40:13 EST
From: Yzkd@aol.com
Re: Being exposed to minus

On December 4, 2005 Daniel Eidensohn wrote:
> We find the term Yeshu mentioned in the rishonim. The Gra poskens that a
> person who became an AZ and died - it is permissible to mention his name.

1) Not only in Rishonim but Shaas, see the GR"A  (Y"D 147 [3]).
2) where is the GR"A about dying?

On December 4, 2005, Akiva Miller wrote:
> I see a gigantic difference between these these two answers: RSC alerts
> us to the fact that there are some AZs whose names appear in Navi
> which had not appeared in Chumash. Some examples appear in Melachim 2,
> 17:30-31. Surely these names were not merely written by the Navi, but
> have also been spoken by Jews in the process of learning those pesukim
> over the centuries. But these names are *not* ones which had appeared
> in Chumash, and so should have been assur to pronounce!

I never intended to defrentiate between Chumash and Nach, I rather used
"Loshon Chachomim" of the S"A Y"D 147:4.

> So, if it is clear that people in the days of the neviim pronounced the
> names of the local idols, then (1) why shouldn't we be able to do so? and
> (2) how do we understand the pasuk brought by RSBA?

See Rashi Bamidbar 32:38, so what evidence is there that they used their
names, during the time of Issur. WRT a Novie it is understood it has the
Geder of HoRo'oh and Rabon Shel Kol haNvi'im Moshe RA"H said baal peor.

Umisaymin Btov.
Kol Tuv,
Yitzchok Zirkind

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Date: Tue, 6 Dec 2005 18:39:00 -0500
From: Ezra Wax <ezrawax@gmail.com>
Re: Fossil Fuels and exploding stars

On 12/6/05, Harry Maryles <hmaryles@yahoo.com> wrote:
> So when we see an exploding star today that was 100 million light
> years away from earth, we are seeing something that never really
> happened?

It happened during the sheishes yemei bereishis, when the laws of nature
were different.

> Because as you know the speed of light is constant.

There are scientists who want to say the speed of light has changed.

Kol Tuv,

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Date: Tue, 6 Dec 2005 23:07:46 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Fossil Fuels and exploding stars

On Tue, Dec 06, 2005 at 06:39:00PM -0500, Ezra Wax wrote:
: It happened during the sheishes yemei bereishis, when the laws of nature
: were different.

Actually, did they exist at all?

:> Because as you know the speed of light is constant.

: There are scientists who want to say the speed of light has changed.

Only if you take their words naively. Relativisticly, space and time
are a single thing. Thus, the speed of light should be represented as
a unit-less number. The size of an interval is x^2 + y^2 + z^2 - t^2.
Thus implying, that c = i (i.e. sqrt(-1)).

Dirac's statement about c changing over time is really about the events
which take time changing. Later, this was explained in terms of alpha;
IOW, the proportion between c and other constants.

As I posted before, if uncertainty (as measured by h-bar) was greater
during creation, effectivelyh, time will be slower.


Micha Berger             Nothing so soothes our vanity as a display of
micha@aishdas.org        greater vanity in others; it makes us vain,
http://www.aishdas.org   in fact, of our modesty.
Fax: (270) 514-1507              -Louis Kronenberger, writer (1904-1980)

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