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Volume 16 : Number 060

Thursday, December 15 2005

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Thu, 15 Dec 2005 15:14:49 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Rishonim and Chazal (was One Opinion)

On Thu, Dec 15, 2005 at 03:52:59PM +0200, Daniel Eidensohn wrote:
:>Thus, the Ramban is NOT rejecting the view of Chazal. He is rejecting
:>the historicity of the mashal. There is no indication that the Ramban
:>questions the nimshal, which is the thesis of the maamar.

: I don't understand what you are saying. There is a difference between
: saying that Pharaoh existed - but was not literally an amah tall and
: that it was only a metaphor for his being a moral midget and saying that
: the Egyptian exile in fact took place or the Ark in fact came to rest on
: on the 17th of the month but it did not happen at the time Chazal said....

What's the line between them? Isn't the Ramban qualified to decide whether
the landing date of the teiva or the first rainbow were given as historical
statements that have moral/hashkafic content or as meshalim?

I am therefore trying to argue that phrasing it as "the Ramban rejects
the view of chazal" is overly harsh. It's perhaps more accurate to say
that he classifies the view as a non-historical mashal.

Given the Ramchal's notion of the purpose of aggadita, chazal weren't
trying to make historical statements. They probably repeated these ideas
with no concern one way or the other about hystoricity. (The focus on
separated history from myth wasn't a concern of their contemporaries,

: However when the Ramban says the Rainbow prexisted the Flood historically
: and Chazal say it was a miraculous occurence that appeared only after
: the Flood - they are in fact saying mutually exclusive statements. Thus
: it is a rejection of the view of Chazal. Not every aggadic statment is
: a metaphor - some of them were meant literally. The examples I cited
: were where the Ramban is disagreeing with statements of Chazal which
: were meant to be understood literally.

I disagree. All were meant metaphorically. Some might happen to also be
history, some not. Above I argue it from the Ramchal, I could otherwise
show it from Peirush haMishnayos lehaRambam, pereq Cheileq.

Chazal never worried about separating history from myth, because that's so
far from the point of the story. Even if the tanna who made the statement
happened to believe that historically, the first rainbow was after the
mabul, that had nothing to do with what he was trying to impart to the
mesorah. Nor would he have given this historcal belief much import.

And so, one can't really say the historical aspect of the claim is a
"maamar chazal".


Micha Berger             The Maharal of Prague created a golem, and
micha@aishdas.org        this was a great wonder. But it is much more
http://www.aishdas.org   wonderful to transform a corporeal person into a
Fax: (270) 514-1507      "mensch"!     -Rabbi Israel Salanter

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Date: Thu, 15 Dec 2005 09:47:08 -0500
From: "Shinnar, Meir" <Meir.Shinnar@rwjuh.edu>
RE: Rambam, Plato, kadmut

Going back to the debate.

Originally, someone claimed
> 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.

RSC then wrote 
> No such Rambam....we definitely must interpret MB in terms of chidush
> regardless of our personal opinions.

Now he writes
> because, as you state above, Plato's shita is perfectly in concert with
> all of the Torah's dictates other than yesh mayayin.

Therefore, I take it that RSC agrees that the issue of eternal existence
is something that is compatible with the torah. The issue of the nature
of eternal existence - Platonic vs Aristotelian - is a different issue for
us, whose physics is quite different than the rambam's, and therefore the
logical relationship he saw between an aristotelian version of kadmut and
the denial of the possibility of divine intervention - is quite different
than our current issues, and therefore the rambam would clearly permit
reinterpreting MB in terms of current science - as modern science does not
necessarily lead to a rejection of the possibility of divine intervention
- and whether he would require such reinterpretation depends on one's
assessment of the strength of the logical basis of modern science.

BTW, the issue of what happens if aristotelian kadmut is logically proven
is,in the rambam, not so clear,- what he actually says is that if this
was proven, then nafla kol hatora kula - because his standard method
of reinterpreting would lead to an understanding that was ridiculous -
and one was therefore left with an unresolvable conflict.

Also some mefarshim (including ibn tibbon) held that the rambam actually
held from aristotelian kadmut

The rambam also is quite explicit elsewhere that the fact that there
are ma'amre hazal that contradict his position is irrelevant, because
either we misunderstand the ma'amar, or that is a da'at yachid that is
rejected - quite different than current positions.

WRT to RSC's question about the rambam and plato 
> And they [these philosophers] do not claim that this substance possesses
> the same level of reality as Hashem but rather He is the cause of
> its existence and it is, for example, like material in the hands of a
> craftsman..." This seems to negate the idea of kadmus in Plato's words,

This is a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of causality -
the fact that A is the cause of B does not mean (in Aristotelian, and
also Platonic logic)that A temporally precedes B - there are multiple
different types of causes. There is a whole chapter in the rambam about
the difference between rishon and reshit - where reshit means either
logical or temporal precedence, and rishon means temporal precedence.

The rambam is saying that here that whether or not there is a notion of
hiddush kadmut, hashem remains the cause of the world - which remains
dependent on hashem for its existence. He is separating out the notion of
temporal creation from the notion of hashem being the cause of the world.

Meir Shinnar

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Date: Thu, 15 Dec 2005 09:43:09 EST
From: Yzkd@aol.com
Re: Being exposed to minus

In a message dated 12/14/2005 10:21:15pm EST, rivkyc@sympatico.ca writes:
> Did the Torah anticipate future Kisvei Kodesh?

Apparently so.

> Where do we see this in the pesukim?

Don't know. Will try and do some research bl'n See Megila 7a and MaHaRaTZ
Chayos there.

Kol Tuv,
Yitzchok Zirkind

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Date: Thu, 15 Dec 2005 09:05:14 EST
From: Yzkd@aol.com
Re: Dovor Sheyesh Lo Mattirin

In a message dated 12/14/2005 10:22:39pm EST, meirabi@optusnet.com.au writes:
> How can it be a DSLM because he MAY rule it is muttar? I suppose we might
> speculate that even before Moshiach comes we might find some Poskim who
> will be Mattir or B"Din may change its Pesak.

The issue is Eliyohu coming, and "some Poskim" does not answer your
question how can a MAYBE be considered DSLM, however the Darkei Tshuva
Al Asar Y"D 102 ois 36 infers from this NKH"K that in such a case even
a maybe is a DSLM.

Kol Tuv,
Yitzchok Zirkind

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Date: Thu, 15 Dec 2005 15:50:04 +0200
From: saul mashbaum <smash52@netvision.net.il>
Looking for a comment by the Torah Temima

The Be'er Hagola on SA at one point, in addition to pointing out the
source of the SA, makes a rather long comment. When the SA says one may
not deceive or cheat a non-Jew, the Be'er Hagola elaborates, explaining
how fundamental and important this prohibition is.

The TT quotes this BH, and notes that this comment is remarkable in
light of the BH's personal history. The BH lived at a time when the Jews
were cruelly persecuted by non-Jews, and the BH suffered bitterly on
a personal level from this persecution. The fact that the BH made the
comment he did shows his extraordinary nobility of character.

Where does the TT make this comment?

Saul Mashbaum

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Date: Thu, 15 Dec 2005 12:24:33 -0500
From: mlevinmd@aol.com
RE: Plato (was Rambam on reinterpreting ma'aseh breshit)

Since we are on the topic of Plato, I'd like to express a question I
have always had on the wording of the Rambam. In perek 13, the Rambam
deals with the three different shittos. Here's my translation of
his explanation of Plato's shita. "And therefore they [Plato and the
philosophers which follow his approach] conclude that there exists an
eternal substance, eternal like Hashem, which doesn't exist without Him
and He doesn't exist without it". So far so good; this is unapologetic
Platonic kadmus. But then the Rambam contradicts himself. He goes on
and says as follows: "And they [these philosophers] do not claim that
this substance possesses the same level of reality as Hashem but rather
He is the cause of its existence and it is, for example, like material
in the hands of a craftsman..." This seems to negate the idea of kadmus
in Plato's words, especially the "cause of its existence" line in the
Rambam. I have never had a satisfactory answer for this question.

This gives me an opportunity to mention that we have started a weekly
shiur in Moreh Nevukhim in the Monsey area. In fact, we learned this
chapter this week. Those interested, please email me for more information.

Now to the question.

Aristotle believes that causality cannot not have an end. That means that
ultimately there must be the first cause which is coexistent eternally
with the the end product of that cause. This end product is chomer and
tsurah (and as in I ch. 17 also he'eder) which together define all
objects in the universe. Time is an accident (a property of matter,
or more accurately motion), however, so it is possible for time not to
have a beginning and for the world to be eternal vis-a-vis time.

Plato holds of the same idea of causality except that the First Cause
causes matter to come into being but the provision of tsurah to shape and
specify this matter into objects took place at some defined, discreet
point in time. That is what he calls Creation out of pre-existent
matter. I think you will find that this is the correct interpetation of
these words. In any case, I invite comments.

M. Levin

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Date: Thu, 15 Dec 2005 16:26:12 +0200
From: Daniel Eidensohn <yadmoshe@012.net.il>
Re: Being exposed to minus

Micha Berger wrote:
>There are up to four people (living in different centuries) called Yeishu
>that the consors removed from our gemara. Are any of them actually the
>one they deified?

>Last, when were the ma'amarim in the gemara in relation to when they
>decided he was not only messiah, but also deity? Perhaps the words we're
>reading simply predate his being made into an AZ?

You are simply disagreeing with the Gra YD 147:3.

BTW my original statement in the name of the Gra was incorrect. There
is no mention of a distinction of before and after death.

Daniel Eidensohn

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Date: Thu, 15 Dec 2005 15:13:46 -0500
From: "Rich, Joel" <JRich@Segalco.com>
RE: Let's talk Tuna

> 3) an offline comment saying that such matters don't require a halachic
> decision - use you common sense

Hmmm- I thought our common sense is the distillation of the broad
definition of halacha?

> My question was, at what point does a report that comes out go beyond
> common sense and become halacha? I'm sure that when cigarettes first came
> out, they were *recommended* to relieve tension. Then reports started
> trickling out about their dangers. Somewhere in the middle, there must
> have been the naysayers who thought it's silly to stop. Eventually Rav
> Moshe Feinstein wrote a Teshuva giving his ruling...

AIUI in an oversimplified form it's when it moves from something that is
dash bo rabbim (i.e. generally accepted by society) to something that's
viewed by society as inherently dangerous(or that the danger outweighs
any benefits)

Joel Rich

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Date: Thu, 15 Dec 2005 15:07:34 -0500
From: "Rich, Joel" <JRich@Segalco.com>
RE: Jewish clothes

: My father said that wearing Jewish clothes could mean wearing the clothes
: specific to one's Jewish group -- eg chassidish garb -- but it didn't
: necessarily mean wearing some specific type of garment.
: He said that dressing Jewishly is dressing in the most conservative, formal
: clothes of one's society... you would call "business dress"...

Did he state a source for this approach? I'm also curious as to why
"formalwear" for important occasions (e.g. wedding, siyum) is not
practiced in Charedi community?

Joel Rich

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Date: Thu, 15 Dec 2005 12:28:47 -0800 (PST)
From: Lawrence Teitelman <lteitelman@yahoo.com>
Oter Yisrael Betifara

R. Simcha Coffer wrote:
>As it happens, we make a bracha on a hat every day..."oter Yisrael b'sifara"..

R. Shalom L. Kohn replied:
>My recollection of the gemara is that this has reference to the
> Tefillin shel Rosh. Oy vey if we give the [black] hat the chashivus of
> tefillin....

The Gemara in Berakhot 60b says that one utters this berakha "ki paris
sudar al reisheh." A sudar (scarf? shawl?), while neither a hat nor
tefillin, is clearly more similar to the former.

Nonetheless, IIRC, the Rosh (i.e. the Rishon) writes that he had the
practice to say this berakha in conjunction with tefillin shel rosh
(perhaps as per the Gemara on 11a and elsewhere which refers to tefillin
as pe'er).

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Date: Thu, 15 Dec 2005 15:55:51 -0500
From: Gil Student <gil.student@gmail.com>
RE: TIDE and TuM

Simcha Coffer wrote:
>The Rambam then goes on to say that it is assur to wear a begged
>that is *miyuchad* to goyim.

Yes, but see how the Maharik (no. 88) understood that Rambam. On that,
see Jeffrey Woolf's article in the 2000/2001 issue of AJS Review.

And see the Rema (YD 178:1) and Melamed Le-Ho'il 1:OC:18.

Someone wrote:
> Also, there are colours, such as black, that are inherently Jewish due
> to their modest nature.

To which REMT wrote:
>Since when?

The above author was probably thinking of the Shach in YD 178.

Gil Student,          Yashar Books
Subscribe to "Sefer Ha-Hayim - Books for Life" Newsletter:
news, ideas, insights and special offers from Yashar Books

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Date: Thu, 15 Dec 2005 15:58:15 -0500
From: "S & R Coffer" <rivkyc@sympatico.ca>
RE: Length of Maaseh Breshis has no impact on halacha

On December 14, 2005, Micha Berger wrote:
> On Mon, Dec 12, 2005 at 10:12:37PM -0500, Zvi Lampel wrote:
>:> One would think that with the explicit passuk KI SHESHET YAMIM ASAH
>:> one would be required to believe in a literal 144 (human) hour length
>:> of MB.

>: Certainly; especially since the Ramban emphasizes that the 7 days of
>: creation were 24 hour days...

> But nearly everyone (pace RCS, but I trust the meivi la'or's opinion
> over yours, doubly so since it matches my naive reading) reads REED as
> somehow asserting that that's only part of the Ramban's story.

Nearly everyone? In any case, even if everyone read Rav Dessler that way,
it would simply make Rav Dessler wrong. The Ramban couldn't be clearer
than he is about the literalness of 6 24 hour days; I don't see the
possibility of interpreting the Ramban any differently than RZL.

> But the Ramban, like most mequbalim, holds that there was time between
> Bereishis 1:1 and 1:2. So he too agrees there was an extended process;
> the Ramban simply disagrees about how that fits the pesuqim.

I don't know of any mikubalim that hold that there was physical time
between 1:1 and 1:2. Kindly illustrate your assertion with sources please.

>: believe is concerned, we don't need all the details in Braishis, only
>: the fact stated in the Asseress HaDibros that the world was created IN
>: SIX DAYS....

> Six yamim. And I've already argued that "yom" has other literal
> definitions.

I ran a search in Tanach and the word yamim appears 292 times. There are
two connotations: 1) Days 2) Seas. That's it! So even if you do come up
with an alternate pshat for the word yamim in Asseres haDibbros, what RZL
mentions in the second half of his post is very much applicable. Just as
we would not say that Bereishis bara elohim means that angels created the
universe, so too, the burden of proof would rest on anyone who would want
to be motzee the pasuk in the Asseres haDibbros meeday pishuto. And the
burden is quite great. 292 times is not a small number of times for this
word to appear and the overwhelming number of times is a reference to
regular days. The only other reference is bodies of water. BTY, what is
your alternate pshat for the word yamim and where can this usage be found?

>:                         ...  And the Rambam says the first day as well
>: as the following ones was timed by one revolution of the sphere. And
>: many other rishonim also obviously assume that a day is a day, not a
>: tekufah. Not one suggests it was a tekufah. In a previous post I showed
>: that Rashi, Ramban, Rambam, R. Saadia Gaon (who says that a professed navi
>: who claims that Hashem took ONE YEAR, rather than six days, to create the
>: world, is a navi shekker)...

> But that was argued as being about the navi sheqer's sevarah, not the
> maskanah.

Huh? How can his sevara be positively established as being wrong such that
he is put to death if, according to you, we have no clue what period of time
six days represents?

> And who said the spheres moved at the same speed, or even at a constant
> speed? Perhaps yom = one revolution, but it was revolving REALLY slowly?

But the Rambam compares the revolutions on the first three days to the ones
on the subsequent days. The mashmaus is that all of them were uniform in
time. And since there is no reason to impute to the Rambam that he imagined
that day #four was any longer than 24 hours from sunrise to sunrise, the
same should apply to the first three days.

> We've been through this before. The only rishon who explicitly connects
> yom to hours and minutes of the normal sort is the Ramban -- as addressed
> in two different ways above.

And Rashi (midas yom umidas layla = 24 hours in Chagiga). And the Rashbam
(ad loc.) And the Radak (ad loc.) And others. I will post soon bl'n.

>:                   But please see R. J. Ostrov's ecxellent posts showing
>: that the evidence, by admission of the proponents of old-world theories
>: themselves, is not really compelling. The evolutionists won't agree to a
>: young world, of course; but neither did the Aristotelean world reverse
>: its opinions upon publication of Moreh Nevuchim. The Rambam, you see,
>: merely proposed a fringe, scientifically un-mainstream approach.

> It's not just evolution, nor just geology, it's the starlight problem,
> red shifting, carbon dating and similar schemes using other elements,
> vechulu... It's dozens of theories in different disciplines producing
> common results.

I don't know what you mean by dozens of theories. You list three above and
then you go on to say 
> The history of life,

Which is evolution and carbon dating

> of the planet,


> of the solar system,
> of the galaxy and visible universe, etc... 


It's the same three branches of science and all of them have already been
addressed. The truth is, I myself would have been highly suspicious of
anyone dismissing the findings of science. B"H I had the benefit of being
associated with Rav Avigdor Miller who demonstrated clearly and lucidly the
inaccuracies of scientists in the fields of origins. Because there are
several questions from various scientific sources, I will illustrate just
one response for now and if a future poster brings up one of the other
issues mentioned above, we can start a new thread. 

You mention carbon dating. But carbon dating is only good for organic
material, not sediment layers. So, the only thing that can be dated with
this method is fossils. Thus, you can not project millions of years of age
onto any fossil using this method. Carbon dating is becoming more and more
accurate and as it does, the half life of Carbon 14 is becoming smaller and
smaller, so to speak (it's not actually becoming smaller; the technicians
are just becoming more aware). I think by now most dating laboratories will
tell you that the Carbon dating method cannot be accurate to any greater
degree than 20,000 years with a very small + - ratio. Thus, anyone telling
you that they've dated fossils in the millions of years with this method is
telling you bubba masos.

There is another issue that Rav Avigdor Miller brings up. The dating methods
all assume certain parent-daughter ratios for their calculations but they
have no proof that these ratios existed at the beginning of time. Just as
Hashem created a fully mature world with advanced biological processes
already in place, he may very well have created elements with partial ratios
of various isotopes for whatever reason. Thus, you cannot prove an ancient
universe using these methods.

A third point is the flood. The Malbim states that in addition to the
enormous pressure that existed from the inundation of the earth, there was
also tremendous heat. He uses this to demonstrate the inaccuracies of
geological dating but in addition, it can easily be used to understand how
parent-daughter ratios are entirely inaccurate. The Christians are big on
this and do an admirable job proving what affects the flood would have on
dating methods.

> To translate RJO's transcription of RSEM's position:
>     The intent of what I wrote "the properties of time" is that the laws
>     of nature were entirely different during the 6 days of bereishis from
>     what exists now. And everything Dr. Schroeder wrote is about the
>     laws of nature which act now, and therefore there is no similarity
>     from what I wrote to what the above chakham wrote.

> Once you presume that the current physics didn't apply, neither did the
> current notion of time. Time without formulas mapping various behaviors
> to the same t is just meaningless. Brains run at different speeds,
> experiencing the time as different. Bodies age at different speeds. If
> there were clocks, they would have run at different speeds and the
> one clock from one moment to the next. 

Why? The watch on your hand marks the passage of time when you observe it
(your behaviour). What if you took your watch off your wrist and locked it
up in a safe for two hours. No human observer would have access to it and it
could not be calibrated with any human enterprise whatsoever. Do you imagine
that when you take it out of the safe it will record anything different than
two hours of the regular passage of time?

Simcha Coffer

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