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Volume 16 : Number 072

Sunday, December 25 2005

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Fri, 23 Dec 2005 11:10:40 -0500 (EST)
From: "Micha Berger" <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Logic difference between Shem and Yefes

R Russell Levy wrote:
> A is true implies NOT(A) is false, and A is false implies NOT(A) is true.
> Meaning, both A and NOT(A) cannot be true at the same time.

Aristotle's Law of Contradiction.

> According to some shittas (RTK mentioned a shitta where the following
> is not true), Torah logic does not contain that axiom. As an aside,
> neither does Quantum Mechanics.

Neither do most systems for modeling uncertainty from Bayesian statistics
to fuzzy logic (used in some computer software of a type called "expert
systems"). In Martin Gardner's book on multivalent logics (logical
systems that have values other than true or false), he shows that a
system based on "true / false / neither" and one based on "true / false
/ both" produce identical definitions for AND and OR. IOW, the law of
contradiction isn't a given in any multivalent logic.

The question of logic and halakhah comes up in two very different ways:
1- resolving EvE, 2- the laws of birur metzi'us.

I think that to understand halakhah's notion of logical connectives, one
should explore the concept of sefeiq sefeiqa. We seem to have 5 logical
states: mutar (including mi'uta demi'uta of issur), mi'ut, safeiq, rov,
assur (including ruba deruba). Questions like "mi'ut bemaqom safeiq" and
"sefeiq sefeiqa de'eina mis-hapeches" are machloqesin about the nature
of our connectives.

Not that these states exist in all situations. In cases of qavu'ah, any
doubt is kemechtza al mechtza. It seems to be boolean, ie the classical
true / false. And therefore if we can't establish one or the other we
can't procede.

See <http://www.aishdas.org/bookA.pdf> as well as
<http://www.aishdas.org/asp/shoftim.shtml>. In these essays, particularly
the second (and much shorter) one, I tie the use of multivalent logic
on the idea that halakhah addresses the world as experienced rather than
the world as it may exist objectively. Therefore, a pesaq could be on an
experienced metzi'us of "unknown". However, once the matter is qavu'ah,
reality was once determined, and therefore the question has a boolean

However, in response to RML's earlier postings on Semitic vs Yefetic
worldviews, I came up with a second theory, that we do not individuate
facts, and therefore the whole concept of subject-predicate doesn't map
very well. IOW, where Yefes would reduce things to a single subject,
which then either has or doesn't have a property, Sheim has a nexus of
relationships, not an individual, and therefore could have a range of
answers instead of one. See our discussions in v12n116 - n126.

Loosely related is the question whether logic is inherent in
emes, or a nivra that HQBH can therefore violate at will. See
<http://www.aishdas.org/asp/2005/07/hashem-and-logic.shtml>. Also,
even if eilu va'eilu mean that they're both emes, one could follow the
Maharal that they're different olam hazeh shadows of something that
only seems to contradict because we're looking at shadows, not the fully
dimensional Truth.

mlevinmd@aol.com wrote to Midrash and Method:
> Explaining the 13 rules as logic presents a difficulty in that they do
> not appear to follow classic rules of logic....

My own difficulty is that we seem to put derashah and sevarah in
different categories. Qal vachomer seems to be an exceptional case, in
that it seems to be a variant on a fortiori. It also is unique in that
it alone does not require being launched off of a pasuq. Kelal uperat,
gezeirah shavah, ribui umi'ut, obviously the binyan av *mikasuv* echad,
etc... are all exegetical in nature.

> The thirteen principles are precisely such tools. What they attempt
> to do is to establish sufficient similarity between categories that an
> aspect of one is transferable to the other, without, however, changing
> the actual nature of either category....

And they specifically do so WRT the pesuqim themselves.

> It might be instructive to compare Kal V'Chomer and syllogism in
> its so-called a-fortiori form. Whereas syllogism deals with names and
> predicates, kal v'chomer deals with sentences. It is not concerned with
> relationships of classes. Syllogism apply terms such as 'all' and, 'every'
> but kal v"chomer employs juxtapositions - if an aspect of a law is found
> in the minor case, so much so must it be present in the major case. In
> fact, kal v"chomer works just as well for transferring leniencies as
> stringencies, an aspect not found in syllogism. Kal v'chomer argues that
> if a lenient aspect is found in the stricter case, it should also pertain
> in a less strict case. Conversely, if there is strict aspect to a lenient
> case, we should expect that it should also exist in a stricter case.

Actually, qal vachomer could be phrased in predicate calculus.

 From the qal (Q) to the chomer (P):
    For any act x: Assur-in-Q(x) IMPLIES Assur-in-P(x)
    Assur-in-P(a). QED

 From the chomer (Q) to the qal (P):
    For any act x: NOT Assur-in-Q(x) IMPLIES NOT Assur-in-P(x)
    NOT Assur-in-Q(a)
    NOT Assur-in-P(a). QED

Actually, the two versions are equivalent by the law of contrapositives.

(Replace "assur" to "chiyuv" as necessary. Similarly one can change x
to be a cheftzah rather than a pe'ulah.)

Rather, I believe what makes qal vachomer a derashah is not the syllogism --
that I believe is a textbook syllogism. Rather, it's the rule that we
can call P or Q the chomer or qal from the given cases, rather than
needing the "For any act..." stated explicitly. That if we are not to
reason inductively from a few cases, we are guaranteed that the Torah
will give us a counterexample to break the trend.

This eliminates my first problem, about why it's derashah and not sevarah,
as well as my second, why QvC is considered sufficiently about pesuqim
to qualify as derashah.

But all in all, I am more comfortable with:
> Let us restate the traditional majority opinion about the 13 rule. It
> is that that the thirteen principles are themselves received at Sinai
> [4]. In this view, the Divine Author intentionally encrypted multiple
> meanings in his Torah and also provided the keys with which they may be
> comprehended or decoded. In addition, certain limitations on how these
> rules work, such as that an individual may not derive a gzeirah shava
> on his own, or that principle of D'yo for a Kal V'Chomer, fit best with
> this approach. There should be no limitations on use of pure logic,
> if that is what the 13 rules are.


Micha Berger             It is a glorious thing to be indifferent to
micha@aishdas.org        suffering, but only to one's own suffering.
http://www.aishdas.org                 -Robert Lynd, writer (1879-1949)
Fax: (270) 514-1507

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Date: Fri, 23 Dec 2005 13:55:15 -0500
From: "Menachem Butler" <menachembutler@hotmail.com>
Sources on learning on Nittel Nach...

For sources on learning on Nittel Nach, see Dr. Marc B. Shapiro's article
"Torah Study on Christmas Eve," Journal of Jewish Thought and Philosophy
8 (1999), 319-353. For a much shorter article on the same subject, see
Shapiro's "A Letter of R. Eleazar Fleckeles Concerning Torah Study on
Christmas Eve," Or Yisrael 30 (2002), 165-168 (in Hebrew). My rebbe,
R. Daniel Z. Feldman has a shiur entitled "Nitle Nach," delivered
this past year at Yeshiva University, available at www.YUTorah.org


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Date: Fri, 23 Dec 2005 14:39:13 -0500
From: "Zvi Lampel" <hlampel@thejnet.com>
Joseph and His Father

The Ramban (Miketz 42:8) asks why Joseph did not contact his mourning
father for 22 years, being a mere 6 days distance from Egypt to
Hebron. Some mefarshim find his explanation difficult. I thought of
another explanation in the 1970's, based upon peshat (and supported by
Midrashim) which basically proposes that Joseph thought his father was
"in it" together with his brothers, and had no interest in knowing his
situation. I carried this chiddush around with me for about 10 years,
when I finally found someone who said it before: Looking through the
front and back material of the Talmud Yerushalmi, I came across a work
called "HaSh'mattas Mi-HaYerushalmi, by Shmuel Shraga Feigenson (where he
quotes passages from sefarim that quote passages of the Yerushalmi that
we don't have in our editions). At the end of this work, he is left with
a half page of blank paper, and says that in order not to waste space,
he will fill it with two of his chiddushim, one of which is the mehalach
I have given for why Joseph did not inform his father he was alive. He
closes by wondering why no of the "ba'aley ha-peshat" have suggested it!

In earlier Avodah posts, I have seen RYGB and others refer to R. Shmuel
David Luzzatto's commentary which also gives this explanation. (I have
yet to see it.) Shadal lived 1800-1865, and R. Shmuel Shraga Feivelson
dated his work 1917.)

[See the rest of the devar Torah at
<http://www.aishdas.org/articles/josephAndHisFather.shtml> -mi]

Zvi Lampel

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Date: Fri, 23 Dec 2005 14:41:15 -0500
From: "Zvi Lampel" <hlampel@thejnet.com>
Re: Length of Maaseh Breshis has no impact on halacha

MPoppers@kayescholer.com [MPoppers@kayescholer.com] Sent: 12/22/2005
> In Avodah V16 #70, RZL responded to Micha: 
> ... Emunos V'Dei'os ...3:8..... says that if a prophet "...would say
> ... He created the Heavens and the Earth in the duration ("meshech"
> -- KPH) of a year, literally -- we should not seek a miracle from him
> [to prove he is a true prophet], since he called us to something which
> is not possible, neither through seichel nor mesorah."

> Precisely: if someone claims to know precisely how long the "shaishes 
> yamim" of MB is, he's disqualified himself. Couldn't have said it better 
> myself.

You must be aware that your statement does not follow in any way from
RSG's position?

Also: "Precisely how long the "shaishes yamim" of MB is"? Um, you've
got to admit that between 15 billion, or 13 billion years -- whatever
the latest claim is -- and 6 rotations of the earth, is not a matter of
miniscule precision.

> BTW, why are all youse guys working so hard over "shaishes yamim" anyway -- 
> don't y'all know that the main focus of the week should be on Shabbos?

And the purpose of Shabbos (if you accept the assress hadibros and
Ramban's take on it -- not to exclude any other ba'al mesora's opinion)
is to be mei-id that Hashem created the world in six days. In a short
time. ("ki os hi, beyni u-vaine B'nay Yosroel, ki shayshess yamim asssa
Hshem es HaShamayim v'ess ha-aretz...") So the Jew comes before the
judge, in the presence of the ancient philosophers and modern acedemia,
and proclaims: "I hereby testify that I have an unbroken tradition from
The Creator Himself, passed down throughout the generations, that He
created the world in six days."

"Very nice," says the judge. "What do you mean by 'days?'"

"I actually have no idea," says the Jew. "It might mean regular days,
or seasons, or epochs, or whatever..."

"So what exactly is it that you're trying to tell us?" asks the judge.

"That it definnitely was created in six /somethings./"

"I see you're saying it was created, but what's this stuff about six
'somethings." If you have no idea as to what you're testifying to,
what are you testifying to?"

"Uhhh, scrap that part about six days."

"We've done that long, long ago."

> Forgive the interruption. We now return you to our regular schedule of 
> contra-Maseches-Chagiga programming....

You spelled contra-Mesorah wrong. (Hold off, Micha, I'm just answering
flippantly, in kind!)

Good Shabbos. Enjoy your chulent.

[Email #2 -mi]

Thu, 22 Dec 2005 YGB <avodah@aishdas.org> posted:
>  Aderaba, it can be interpreted just as well to mean (As RMP 
> stated) that anyone who believes MB is k'peshuto as stated in Chumash is 
> clearly a buffoon.

RSG is not referring to a person's personal opinion, but to someone
who claims Hashem told him how long MB took. This does not indicate any
buffoonery, unless if for some inexplicable reason you think RSG holds
it is impossible that Hashem would tell a prophet this information. His
point is that someone saying something that contradicts the Torah is
a navi shekker, and RSG chooses as his examples the claims that Hashem
commanded us to commit z'nus or theft, that Hashem would bring another
flood to the world (something He promised Noach He would not do), or
that He created the world in a year (as opposed to six days).

Furthermore, do you think it irrelevant that RSG utilized the example of
a "year," and not "six days" (which would more appropriately illustrate
your suggestion, although it still would not fit the context)?

Have you seen RSG's Chumash commentary, where he explains "ki sheshes
yamim bara..." as "ki b'sheshes yamim bara..." and nowhere, in any of
his writings, indicates it means anything but kep'shuto?

Have you seen the Tseyda B'Derech's take or paraphrase of RSG's shitta?

Zvi Lampel

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Date: Fri, 23 Dec 2005 15:35:52 -0500
From: Russell Levy <russlevy@gmail.com>
Re: Logic difference between Shem and Yefes

On 12/23/05, Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org> wrote:
> See <http://www.aishdas.org/bookA.pdf> as well as
> <http://www.aishdas.org/asp/shoftim.shtml>. In these essays, particularly
> the second (and much shorter) one, I tie the use of multivalent logic
> on the idea that halakhah addresses the world as experienced rather than
> the world as it may exist objectively...

The link http://www.aishdas.org/bookA.pdf doesn't work.

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Date: Sun, 25 Dec 2005 09:16:30 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Logic difference between Shem and Yefes

On Fri, Dec 23, 2005 at 03:35:52PM -0500, Russell Levy wrote:
: The link http://www.aishdas.org/bookA.pdf doesn't work.

Sorry. Try <http://www.aishdas.org/book/bookA.pdf>


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Date: Fri, 23 Dec 2005 16:12:45 -0500
From: Zev Sero <zev@sero.name>
Re: Bugs

"Rich, Joel" <JRich@Segalco.com> wrote:
> Am I understanding this correctly - the Star K would say that if the lettuce
> is mixed in with other veggies for a salad so that the bugs would be less
> than 10% then it's OK? If I take the same lettuce and make a pure lettuce
> salad then the OK says that it's not OK. Why then isn't this mvatel issur
> lchatchila?

No. They're not talking about mixing the lettuce with anything else.
They're talking about how much lettuce we consider when calculating
the 10%. The point here is that a serving of lettuce is a lot smaller
than an entire head. Suppose there is a 10% chance that each head of
lettuce contains up to three bugs. But a serving is only 1/4 of a head.
So the chance of any one serving having a bug is only 7.5%. The general
position is to require checking, but the Star-K position is not to.

Zev Sero

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Date: Sat, 24 Dec 2005 22:10:04 -0800 (PST)
From: Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer <rygb@aishdas.org>
From my friend Reb Aaron: Source of emuna in today's day and age?

I know we don't encourage cross-posting with blogs, but this is not my
own personal post but that of my friend Reb Aaron (a mutual acquaintance
of Reb Micha and myself, but not an Aishdas member).

Blog: YGB - ??"?
Post: From my friend Reb Aaron: Source of emuna in today's day and age
Link: http://rygb.blogspot.com/2005/12/from-my-friend-reb-aaron-source-of.html

Powered by Blogger

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Date: Sun, 25 Dec 2005 03:47:57 +1100
From: "SBA" <sba@sba2.com>

From: "S & R Coffer" <>
> ...perhaps it's like the Gemara says about Tehilim..."makom heinichu
> lo min hashamayim lihisgadel..."

Shouldn't that be 'lehisgader' ?

SBA  [not really following this debate...]

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Date: Sat, 24 Dec 2005 23:21:13 -0500
From: "S & R Coffer" <rivkyc@sympatico.ca>
RE: lihisgadel

On December 24, 2005, SBA wrote:
> From: "S & R Coffer" <>
>> ...perhaps it's like the Gemara says about Tehilim..."makom heinichu
>> lo min hashamayim lihisgadel..."

> Shouldn't that be 'lehisgader' ?

Yes, you're right...as usual. I think they should appoint you the head
of the grammar police :-) BTY, the implication is the same...I simply
happened to be off by one letter but thanks for pointing it out.


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Date: Sun, 25 Dec 2005 12:00:47 EST
From: T613K@aol.com
a person who is in the "wrong body"

I was asked the following question/series of questions off-list and I
wonder what this chevra would answer. My sense is that what is talked
about here must be assur, but what about ex post facto, what would be
the status of this person?


I was wondering about a theoretical situation in which a man is not
just gay, but convinced that he is really a woman in a man's body.
Such a person is moved by his conviction to have a sex-change operation.

How would the halakha and the Jewish community look upon such an act?
Would it be regarded as self-mutilation and hence forbidden? Would it
matter whether or not the man has fathered children before the operation?

Now, after the operation, how would the halakha view a monogamous
relationship between such a person and a man? Between such a person
and a woman? Would such a person be eligible for huppa and qiddushin?
In which case?


I would ask further whether, between bnai Noach and Jews, the halachic
answers to these questions would be the same or different.

 --Toby  Katz

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Date: Sun, 25 Dec 2005 10:23:14 -0500
From: "Rich, Joel" <JRich@Segalco.com>
Upasku anshei amanah(emunah?)

The Mishna in sotah 48a lists men of belief as having disappeared after
the churban. Rashi on 48b describes these as individuals who "lvatter
mamonam lnoyei hiddur mitzvah ultzedaka ulhotzaot shabbatot vyamim tovim".

I've been devising various theories as to what is special about these
3 categories so that there is a common thread yet all 3 needed to be
listed to define anshei amanah. Any theories?

Extra credit-why does Rashi define this category somewhat differently
in the Mishna as "botchim bhakadosh baruch hu vsomchin alav laasot tov
vein doagin lchisaron"

Joel Rich

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Date: Sun, 25 Dec 2005 17:59:40 -0500
From: "S & R Coffer" <rivkyc@sympatico.ca>
RE: Length of Maaseh Breshis has no impact on halacha (science of origins is speculative and suspect)

On December 23, 2005, Micha Berger wrote:
> R Jonathan Ostroff wrote some things that IMHO reflect a lack of
> understanding of some basics of the underlying science. I'm assuming
> here a position of "science is wrong", not "pre-aged universe" or
> "science is accurate" positions.

You assumption is incorrect. The point RJO is making is that nothing in
*operational* science necessarily contradicts MB as depicted in the Torah.
Thus, what you refer to as science and what he refers to science are two
different things. Origins science (as per the subject heading) is based
on foundational assumptions that are inherently un-testable and thus,
by definition, do not carry as much weight as operational science.

> > If it is admitted in the published scientific literature that fundamental
> > laws and constants could have been different in the early universe,
> > on what basis can one assert with conviction that nuclear fission was
> > always constant?

> Because we can watch the fusion of many years ago occuring in stars whose
> light first reaches us today. I know your objection, hold on a second...

> Ah, but you will answer that the light isn't from billions of years
> ago, but rather it moved faster than it does today? Well, then you have
> pretty much every fundamental constant changing value so that everything
> is decelerating in sync in order for the light to have been faster and
> yet stars, quasars, galaxies to still work just as they do with later
> physicses. 

Why? Why can't we say that time, for instance, was constant whilst
photonic activity was accelerated? Chazal say as much about the gestation
period of Kayin and Hevel.

> And, while I'm violating my self-imposed silence, there is a clear ra'ayah
> from those from within the young universe camps that an old universe can
> be supported by mesorah. As R' Elyashiv recently told R' Aharon Feldman,
> "They can say it, but we can't." (Trans. R' Feldman) He doesn't deny that
> there were rishonim and acharonim found support for an old universe from
> within mesorah. Rather, he pasqens that that derekh is no longer mutar.

I am not aware of the "pesak" you are referring to but I'm sure it's
misrepresented. R' Elyashiv does not hold that at one time an old-age
universe was mutar to maintain as opposed to now. Just because you
find some acharonim (no Rishonim) that flirted with the idea of an
old-age universe does not make it mainstream, does not mean that it
was accepted as a valid shita in our mesorah, and does not mean that it
was mutar then as opposed to now. 'Mesorah' is a real phenomenon; it is
based on our collective traditions from Har Sinai. Throughout history,
as various shittos are advanced, the "masoretic entity", after time,
either adopts them or rejects them. This sounds like the heebie-jeebies
to one who is not accustomed to the concept of mesorah but it is, in fact,
a very real in phenomenon in Yiddishkeit.

> So the entire question of whether the idea is tenable isn't really on
> the table amongst the gedolei haposeqim. The question they were asking
> is whether or not it's mutar -- theoretically supportable is a given.

I am firmly opposed to this characterization. Many of the above-noted
'gedolim' are not even poskim. They are expressing what, to them, is
antithetical to our mesorah; not something that can be openly demonstrated
as contravening halacha. (Although in essence, any belief that is contrary
to mesorah is necessarily contrary to halacha as per, for instance,
*Hilchos* Milachim 11 which states that mashiach is definitely coming
despite shittos to the contrary) As it happens, I personally believe that
I can demonstrate their conclusions from open Chazal and Rishonim and
lend support from current academic enterprise. But even if I couldn't,
that wouldn't diminish the importance of their message.

One note of hisnatzlus: My usual modus operandi is to discuss issues
based on their own merits. I seldom argue from the standpoint of mesorah;
I believe all of Torah is empirically sound, a derech I adopted from
my Rabbeim. The above paragraph is merely my take on the phenomenon of
mesorah; not my recourse to same for support of my opinions.

Simcha Coffer  

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