Avodah Mailing List
Volume 16 : Number 156
Monday, March 13 2006
Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Fri, 10 Mar 2006 10:23:09 -0500
From: "David Guttmann" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Intelligent design
I have been watching some of the discussions about chazal, Torah
vs science and history partaking occasionally. I believe that the
dissue needs to be looked at from a more fundamental way, namely does
contemporary scientific theory clash with Jewish theology? If it does
not then reconciling Torah with it is only a mechanicl process like
Rambam says about interpreting Kadmus should it be proven. This is an
adaptation of something I have been working on regarding miracles. I
have not serached Avodah archives so if this has already been discussed
I appologize and please ignore. If it is new please give me your feedback.
(RMB, re our discussion of 2:25 yesterday, this addresses it partially)
Is intelligent design compatible with Judaism?
The doctrine of ID is brought up a lot in discussions of Jewish theology.
Although it seems similar to our concept of Creation, it is at heart
a fundamentalist Christian import and there is a very basic difference
between the two ideas. Intelligent design argues that we cannot explain
all of nature without pointing to an intelligent entity that planned it
all. The existence of God is dependent on His creations. Rambam in Moreh
1:71 describes a similar method used by Islamic philosophers of his time:
"They set forth the propositions which I shall describe to you, and
demonstrated by their peculiar mode of arguing that the Universe had a
beginning. The theory of the creation ex nihilo being thus established,
they asserted, as a logical consequence, that undoubtedly there must be a
Maker who created the Universe. Next they showed that this Maker is One,
and from the Unity of the Creator they deduced His Incorporeality. This
method was adopted by every Mohammedan Mutakallem in the discussion of
this subject, and by those of our co-religionists who imitated them and
walked in their footsteps"
Rambam takes strong exception to this approach. The argument he uses
sound very much like the argument used by scientist nowadays to attack ID.
"I have examined this method, and find it most objectionable. It must be
rejected, because all the proofs for the creation have weak points, and
cannot be considered as convincing except by those who do not know the
difference between a proof, a dialectical argument, and a sophism. Those
who understand the force of the different methods will clearly see that
all the proofs for the creation are questionable, because propositions
have been employed which have never been proved."
In Judaism God exists independent of the universe and its Creation. We
state it in Davening every day "ato hu ad shelo nivro haolom veato hu
meshinevro haolom". God "is" independently of the world. We are not so
concerned about the existence of God. We accept that a priori. What we
are concerned about is what God is, or rather as Rambam says what He
is not, His actions and wishes. We do this to understand His ways and
act according to them - Veholachto Bidrochov ma hu af ato. We have a
concept about how God acts that we call Rotzon and Chefetz, will and
volition. This Will is not temporal, it is there before the world was
created. And because with HKBH there is no potential, everything is in
actu, the results of that Will are already in place. In simple language
whatever happens, past present and future from our perspective,is already
happening. Just like God's omniscience does not affect anything from our
perspective, we have Bechira in spite of His knowing how we will act,
because His knowledge is different than ours so is His will different
than our will. It therefore does not affect the physical world from our
perspective. All the questions about how the physical world functions
is to be resolved from our perspective because we cannot understand what
His is. There is no contradiction between Evolution and God's will, just
as there is no contradiction between God's omniscience and our freedom
of choice. This is a very difficult concept for us humans to accept and
requires much thought and contemplation. Rambam therefore repeats this
idea many times in all his writings - it is after all what Echod means -
unique. It is also an important yesod in the machshava of Ramban and the
genuine Mekubalim. For a very thorough analysis see the Ohr Someach in
I believe that if this idea is absorbed properly many of the issues
of science versus Torah disappear. This is the deep thought behind
"We answer to all these questions: He willed it so; or, His wisdom decided
so. just as He created the world according to His will, at a certain
time, in a certain form, and as we do not understand why His will or His
wisdom decided upon that peculiar form, and upon that peculiar time,
so we do not know why His will or wisdom determined any of the things
mentioned in the preceding questions."
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Date: Fri, 10 Mar 2006 12:00:47 -0500
From: "Glasner, David" <DGLASNER@ftc.gov>
Subject: killing kinim on Shabbat
Micha Berger wrote:
> Chazal were unconcerned with the scienc; they /were/ conceerned about
> establishing the din. Thus, once they eliminated the existence of visible
> eggs, the din is established, and they had little motivation to explore
I'm sorry, but I literally do not understand what you are saying. I am
asking you to explain the meaning of the words that the Gemara "mina
hu d'mikri beitzei kinim." In the sugya Abaye is asserting, based on
the master's saying, that it has already been recognized that there are
"beitzei kinim." In answering Abaye, and positing that "beitzei kinim"
is the name of a species, does the Gemara believe that lice eggs exist or
that they don't exist? How can the Gemara possibly believe that lice eggs
exist while telling Abaye that "beitzei kinim" is the name of a species,
not a reference to lice eggs? I don't see how you can reconcile your
interpretation with the words of the sugya.
> I agree that in all probabliulity, they personally believed in
> abiogenesis. As in my old post on the evolution of astronomy in various
> statements of Chazal, Chazal consistently show acceptance of the "in"
> theory of their respective generations. (Except in naaratives
> specifically about conflict with Roman thinkers.) See
But none of this has to do with emunas chakhamim. First, because
the assertion is that to the extend that is needed for the din, the
science was correct enough. Second, because the other claims simply
aren't scientific teachings, they are teachings that simply presume
As I wrote in that post of exactly 7 years ago (7 Mar 1999):
> With the exception of computing the molad, I don't think the
> Gemara intended to share scientific data. Interestingly, when discussing
> the molad (eg: R's Gamliel I & II and R"H 10a, 11a), observations are
> described -- BUT NOT THEORY!
> They're willing to use theory to couch other ideas. But when it came to
> din, they simply quoted uninterpreted observation. Which then lead to
> what grew into my "taam and taste" theory: that halakhah is about the
> world as observed, not some attempt to ascertain objective reality.
I just don't follow what you are saying at all. On the one hand,
you say that Hazal are basing din on observation, and on the other you
say that they knew that some lice have eggs, just that those eggs are
somehow being excluded from the discussion, because they were too big,
and that, disregarding the fact that everyone knew about the big lice
eggs, the Gemara tries to understand the reference of the master to
"beitzei kinim" as not being to the lice eggs that everyone knew about,
but to a species that no one ever saw or heard of before or since. I'm
sorry, but my head is spinning.
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Date: Sat, 11 Mar 2006 20:54:23 -0500
From: Micha Berger <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: killing kinim on Shabbat
On Fri, Mar 10, 2006 at 12:00:47PM -0500, Glasner, David wrote:
: I'm sorry, but I literally do not understand what you are saying. I am
: asking you to explain the meaning of the words that the Gemara "mina
: hu d'mikri beitzei kinim." In the sugya Abaye is asserting, based on
: the master's saying, that it has already been recognized that there are
: "beitzei kinim." In answering Abaye, and positing that "beitzei kinim"
: is the name of a species, does the Gemara believe that lice eggs exist or
: that they don't exist? How can the Gemara possibly believe that lice eggs
: exist while telling Abaye that "beitzei kinim" is the name of a species,
: not a reference to lice eggs? I don't see how you can reconcile your
: interpretation with the words of the sugya.
The problem here is totally unconnected to my interpretation.
It's impossible that they did not know about louse eggs. We do, and
we have a much smaller percentage of lousy head than they did. Anyone
who combed for eggs and nits knows there are louse eggs. And in those
days, that meant everyone knew.
My comment therefore had nothing to do with that question, and set it
:> I agree that in all probabliulity, they personally believed in
:> abiogenesis. As in my old post on the evolution of astronomy in various
:> statements of Chazal, Chazal consistently show acceptance of the "in"
:> theory of their respective generations. (Except in naaratives
:> specifically about conflict with Roman thinkers.) See
: But none of this has to do with emunas chakhamim...
My comment wasn't about emunas chakhamim either. It was about the din,
and whether din changes when science does.
:> They're willing to use theory to couch other ideas. But when it came to
:> din, they simply quoted uninterpreted observation. Which then lead to
:> what grew into my "taam and taste" theory: that halakhah is about the
:> world as observed, not some attempt to ascertain objective reality.
: I just don't follow what you are saying at all. On the one hand,
: you say that Hazal are basing din on observation, and on the other you
: say that they knew that some lice have eggs, just that those eggs are
: somehow being excluded from the discussion, because they were too big,
: and that, disregarding the fact that everyone knew about the big lice
: eggs, the Gemara tries to understand the reference of the master to
: "beitzei kinim" as not being to the lice eggs that everyone knew about,
: but to a species that no one ever saw or heard of before or since. I'm
: sorry, but my head is spinning.
This paragraph actually says what I intended to, except adds that I
unfortunately caused your head to spin. I disregarded the bit about a
species named beitzei kinim, because I can't understand it no matter what
peshat I offer. The basic premise doesn't fit the evidence; well beyond
not knowing science or what was contemporary theory. It's as much science
as someone today knowing that hair grows from little holes in your skin
(which we call follicles).
Ein lah piryah verivyah could only apply to animals that reproduce
through microscopic eggs (or by budding or biogenetically, perhaps).
Eggs they didn't know about for some amazing reason didn't cross my
Micha Berger Nothing so soothes our vanity as a display of
firstname.lastname@example.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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Date: Sun, 12 Mar 2006 02:13:01 GMT
From: "Elazar M. Teitz" <email@example.com>
> Through most of the story of bringing home Rivqa, Eliezer is identified
> by name.
Not in my chumash. The Eliezer who was eved Avraham is mentioned only
once by name: "v'hinei ben meshek beisi who Damesek Eliezer." (15:2)
That the one who went to bring a bride was Eliezer is only known from
Torah sheb'al peh.
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Date: Sat, 11 Mar 2006 21:23:31 -0500
From: "Cantor Wolberg" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Fw: Ki Sisa "The Perfect Sabbath Rest Is The Attuning Of The Heart To The Comprehension Of God" Rambam, Tzavaah
31:16 V'shomru... The Children of Israel shall observe the Sabbath...it
is a sign forever that in six days God made the heaven and the earth
and on the seventh day He rested...
The six days of Creation remind us that we were created for this world.
But the Sabbath reminds us that the world was created for us. Each day
is a step closer to the ultimate realization of life's profound meaning.
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Date: Sun, 12 Mar 2006 13:32:22 +1100
From: "SBA" <email@example.com>
Subject: Megilla - Commom errors
This week's Der Yid has a full page list of common errors made by baale
kriyeh of Megillas Esther.
I have scanned it and can send.
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Date: Mon, 13 Mar 2006 09:40:07 +0200
From: "Akiva Blum" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
"Cantor Wolberg" <email@example.com> wrote:
>Interestingly, remembering Amalek is a Mitzvah d'oraita. If so, why is
>there no b'rocho made prior to reading it?
See Taz 685:2 near the end, is mashma that the oleh should be moitze
everyone in the brochos. So there is your brocho.
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Date: Sun, 12 Mar 2006 13:31:15 -0600
From: "DAVID NADOFF" <DAVID.NADOFF@bfkpn.com>
Subject: Fw: [Torat Imecha] Learning, Tefilot and Mitzvot for the Refua of Chaya Rivka Bat Sheindl Sara
From: firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com>
To: firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com>
Sent: Sun Mar 12 10:31:59 2006
Subject: [Torat Imecha] Learning, Tefilot and Mitzvot for the Refua of Chaya Rivka Bat Sheindl Sara
I had hoped to post some fresh insights from Eim Habanim Semeicha
regarding Ta'anit Esther and Purim. However, Hashgacha would have it
that I am instead immersed in the care of my daughter, Chaya Rivka Bat
Sheindel Sara, who we brought back from Eretz Yisrael just before Shabbat,
after she was diagnosed last week with a brain tumor. Her surgery may
take place as early as Purim day. Therefore, I would ask everyone who
can to please study our prior posts regarding Ta'anit Esther and Purim,
keeping Chaya in mind. Those posts can be read at:
Also, on Ta'anit Esther and Purim, please recite chapter 22 of Tehilim
(which Esther recited before she approached Achashverosh) and pray
for Chaya Rivka Bat Sheindel Sara, bearing in mind the particular
auspiciousness of those days for achieving salvation, as noted below:
In Sefer Kav HaYashar, Rav Zvi Hirsch Kaindanover (17th Century) writes
that Ta'anit Esther is an especially opportune time to petition the
Almighty for relief from distress. He recommends that one recite Tehilim
chapter 22 with kavana (devotional concentration), and then beseech the
Almighty for his assistance, in the merit of Mordechai and Esther.
We also find in Sefer Segulat Yisrael that Purim is a day when "anyone
who asks will receive," without in-depth scrutiny of the petitioner or
the petition. It is written there in the name of the Ba'al Shem Tov that
one should rise early for tefila on Purim and ask Hashem for everything
that that is needed, not only for oneself, but for others as well,
as Purim is a time of special favor, just like Yom Kippur.
Finally, please consider participating in the Purim Unity program
described below, which is very much in the spirit of Eim Habanim Semeicha.
You are encouraged to forward this e-mail to others in order to maximize
the learning, tefilot and mitzvot performed for the refua of Chaya Rivka
Bat Sheindl Sara.
For anyone interested in regular updates regarding Chaya's condition
or who would like to post a note to Chaya or our family, we will have
a web-site up and running for that purpose by the end of the day, be"H.
Please go to www.caringbridge.org/visit/chayamitchell
In firstname.lastname@example.org, akaHaddasa <akahaddasa@...> wrote:
MITZVA-PURIM UNITY BY WOMEN
Le'veeya (Lioness) - an organization of Mothers for Unity in a secure
Land of Israel - calls upon women throughout the country to unite:
We the people of Israel, presently stand at a critical juncture in our
fight for survival. The recent violent scenes of Jew versus Jew lay bare
a painful split in our nation, an illness of disintegration that must
be healed if we, as a people, are to endure. Like the people of Shushan
before us, we confront potential obliteration, but unlike in Shushan,
the enemy we now face is us.
Women of Israel: Just as Queen Esther took personal responsibility
for saving her people, we are compelled to do so today. Jewish women
have been blessed by Hashem with an incredible internal power to affect
Jewish life within our homes and without, and we are obligated to use
this power to bring about Achdut - Unity, to our nation.
Therefore, as we approach Purim this year, we urge all women of Israel,
of all factions, political affiliations, cultural backgrounds and
religiosity, to follow Queen Esther's example, to join together as one
and take action.
Specifically, we urge all women to take upon themselves the following
two mitzvot of Purim with genuine and extraordinary kavanah.
1) Taanit Esther: Like Queen Esther before us, we urge all women to make
a special effort to fast on this day, and to cry out to Hashem as Esther
did to bring the about the yeshua of Achdut which we so need right now.
We recommend recitation of Tehillim, Psalms and in particular, chapter 22,
the chapter Queen Esther recited as she risked her life to approach King
Achashverosh and plead for her people. We suggest that in communities
where this is possible, women get together for half an hour or so to
say Tehilim together.
2) Mishloach Manot: In the spirit of "venahafoch hu", we urge all women
to approach mishloah manot this year in a fundamentally different way.
Specifically, we ask you to give at least two mishloach manot to
individuals or families who are not in your usual religious, political and
or cultural sphere. They can be people you have never met, the bus driver,
the cashier at the supermarket, neighbors you have never spoken to.
Our children, too, can be encouraged to give Mishlochei Manot to children
less popular in the class or kids in a poor neighborhood or, in Israel,
the kids from Gush Katif who this Purim are not in their familiar homes
with their communities celebrating Purim the way they know.
What matters is that we use our G-d given internal powers of spirituality
and connection to bridge the gaps and try and create Ahavat Yisrael on
every level. And let us use our influence to activate others in this
drive for unity and Ahavat Yisrael all over the globe.
We urge you to send this on to at least 5 other women and any community
activists to spread the word - THIS YEAR, WE, AS WOMEN ARE GOING TO DO
OUR HISHTADLUT TO BRIDGE THE GAPS AND DO AN ACT OF AHAVAT YISRAEL TO
HEAL THE TEAR IN OUR NATION.
May Hashem hear the cries of the women of Israel this Purim holiday,
may He answer our tefillot and may He bless our efforts to restore Am
Yisrael to its glory.
The Mothers of Le'veeya
Le'veeya Purim Project - Purimachdut@...
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Date: Sat, 11 Mar 2006 21:59:29 -0500
From: "R Davidovich" <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: Eliezer eved Avraham
> Through most of the story of bringing home Rivqa, Eliezer is identified
> by name. Until pasuq 52, in which "eved Avraham" -- no name given --
> hears and accepts the offer of Rivqa for a bride.
Nowhere in the entire shidduch story in Parshas Chayei Sarah is Eliezer
mentioned by name. His only appellation is "Eved Avraham".
Go to top.
Date: Sun, 12 Mar 2006 09:52:01 +0000
From: Arie Folger <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: Amalek
Reb Cantor Wolberg wrote:
> Reb Micha gave another good answer. If you made a b'rocho
> first, you already will have fulfilled remembering. Anyone have any
> other ideas?
Then why not make the Berakhah the fulfilment, ? la kiddush for Shabbat
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Date: Sun, 12 Mar 2006 16:28:36 -0600
From: Lisa Liel <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: Eliezer eved Avraham
On Thu, 9 Mar 2006 19:20:50 -0500, Micha Berger <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
>Izzy (3rd grade) and I are doing homework, and he asked me...
>Through most of the story of bringing home Rivqa, Eliezer is
>identified by name. Until pasuq 52, in which "eved Avraham" -- no
>name given -- hears and accepts the offer of Rivqa for a bride.
I don't understand this. The only place in the entire Torah that Eliezer
is mentioned by name is when Avraham says he is "ben meshek beiti".
He isn't identified by name at all in any of the story of bringing home
Rivka. In fact, without the midrash, we would have no idea whatsoever
who the eved Avraham was who went and got Rivka.
A friend of mine was teaching in a day school in the Boston area. She got
into an argument with another teacher, who was absolutely certain that
the story of Nimrod throwing Avraham Avinu into the fiery furnace was
in the Chumash. There are some midrashim that are so integral a part
of what gets taught to kids that people have an impression that they're
actually in the Torah. This is an example of that.
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Date: Sun, 12 Mar 2006 17:13:32 +0200
From: "Danny Schoemann" <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: Simple Mishloach Manos
Last night's halocho l'ma'aseh shiur by Rav Moshe Yadler (in Ramat
Shlomo's Chazon Ish shul) was all about Purim, of course.
He reported that when Dayan Fisher zt"l was asked what constitutes
Mishloach Manos the answer was: A slice of bread and a piece of Halva.
Also RZSA wrote to him (in response to a "borer" question) that 2 pieces
of chicken constitute 2 minim, both for Shabbes and Purim.
He repeated more than once that 2 x1 kesayis is enough, both for Mishloach
Manos and for the actual se'uda. (Though somebody in the audience claimed
that the Ben Ish Chai requires 2 kebaitzim).
After being heckled by the audience about the need for something of
importance, he convinced them that 2 keseisim of "real" meat would do
the trick - even according to them.
WRT Matonos L'evyonim, he said that today a pruta is 5.5 agurot, but
since it should be a coin that people care for, one should not give less
than a 1/2 shekel. Maybe a shekel.
OTOH he reported that RSYE claims it needs to be a sum that makes the
recipient happy, guessing that 50 shekel would do the trick. Rav Yadler
asked some full-time gabbo'ai tzedoka and they all claimed that 10 shekels
was a respectable donation, and and 20 Shekels donation "made their day"
- which should be more than sufficient (x 2 of course) .
Drinking: He said the Vilna Gaon used to drink (tiny amounts) all
day long. (As RAM z"l used to say: Kel De'ot Hashem - no way He would
demand from you to loose your Da'as, even temporarily.)
Besides for a long list of common errors, he discussed at length what
is preferable: Saying the 10 sons of Homon in 1 breath, or actually
reading them word-for-word inside.
Keeping in mind that the latter would require *reading* the "Es"
belonging to the son in question (across a huge blank-space) the issue
is non-trivial (and the options nearly mutually exclusive).
Some people use a ruler to help them.
Some people fold the megilla so that the Es is next to the son's name
Many pro-readers claimed that they anyways will inadvertently say the
odd word by-heart, so may as well fulfill the minhag of one-breath,
and add a few more (inadvertent) "by hearts" to the reading.
This lead to the obvious question: If the reader realizes he didn't read
a word from inside, should he repeat it from inside? Since the listeners
are anyways Yotze (since a megilla can even have a lot of missing words
before it becomes posul), does this create a "hefsek". This ties into
the question of whether one can do a hiddur mitzva after being yotze;
like the famous "better esrog" question.
He also mentioned the 4 degrees of listening, that RSZA taught him:
1. Daydreaming: He's aware that somebody is saying something, but when
he "awakens", wouldn't have a clue what. Not Yotze.
2. In one ear out the other: He hears every word, not paying attention
to what it is. Not Yotze.
3. He's following word for word, turning the pages correctly, but not
concentrating on the story. Yotze be'dieved.
4. He's concentrating on the plot - living the megillah: Fulfilled the
mitzva as it was intended.
A freilichen and meaningful Purim
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