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Volume 20: Number 5

Fri, 06 Oct 2006

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Date: Thu, 5 Oct 2006 21:15:12 -0400
[Avodah] Hisbonenus

[I see the bottom of my email didn't make it through the first time.
Take II.   -mi]

The use of visual imagery used to be a central part of many derakhim in
Yahadus. Such meditation was one of the core elements of Chassidus. In
Novarhadok, it was used to shape middos. An emotional experience is
more powerful at changing the self than words; and thus generating one
internally is a useful skill.

 From RYGB's talk on "shevisi Hashem..." it seems evident that many (most?)
understood this in terms of actually visualizing the four letters before
you "tamid".

As for today, it's socially stigmatized in the frum world as as "weird"
and not practiced much AFAIK. Breslov perhaps.

Here's one that I find helps my kavanah with berakhos, when the NhC's
kavanah is in tune with my current mood. (As opposed to a Hirschian,
Soloveitchikian, or some other peshat.)

Picture light coming from infinitely far off. While RYGB cited someone
(forgot who) who allowed one to be someich on the Ra'avad that one may
imagine the Source of the light, I don't. It's infinitely far off --
it doesn't enter the mental picture. This light is the Berekhah as
the Cause of my existence. It is personal, the beam is entering me in
particular. Thus I can say "Barukh atah H'", taking sheim havayah as
the causative conjugation of "hayah". Take some time to fully develop
the picture. To feel the "chiyus" coming in with this shefa.

Once there, then realize that in truth, the light does fill -- and in
fact *is* -- everything around you as well. E-lokeinu, Melekh ha'Olam.

In the case of birkhas avos, the one berakhah I am most likely to
say at a pace slow enough to have such kavanos (thanks to R' Aryeh
Kaplan), the progression of the berakhah is from that personal light,
to the light that fills all ("E-lokeinu") to the realization that the
light that fills all fills each item personally. And that a person must
aspire to the madreiga where he doesn't live his life by natural law,
having G-d as E-lokeinu, but by moral law -- E-lokei avoseinu.

How does one do that? By blending the archetypes of Avraham, Yitzchaq
and Ya'aqov...

Another, more mussar-dik example.

Picture a drop of water. You're out in nature, and water drips over a
precipice. It falls onto a rock. Don't just learn about Rabbi Akiva's
experience, spend time imagining the scene exactly. Try not to let any
extraneous thoughts enter, but if they do -- don't actively fight them
or get frustrated, just return to the image. Then, once you can smell
the fresh mountain spring water and feel that rock realize -- you're
the rock, and the water -- Torah. It can make an emotional impression.
Enough impressions, and your emotional, preconscious, relationship to
Torah is changed. And what could be more valuable than being more able
to be shaped by the Torah one learns?

At the most recent Shabbaton, RYGB discussed shitos that understand
"shevisi Hashem..." in terms of visualizing the letters of the sheim
havayah or other sheimos.

Does anyone have first-hand experience in this area that they would like
to share? Anyone have knowledge of the mesorah on this subject? Want
to learn?

Tir'u beTov!

Micha Berger             It isn't what you have, or who you are, or where
micha@aishdas.org        you are,  or what you are doing,  that makes you
http://www.aishdas.org   happy or unhappy. It's what you think about.
Fax: (270) 514-1507                        - Dale Carnegie

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Message: 2
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Date: Thu, 5 Oct 2006 21:45:42 -0400
Re: [Avodah] R' Keller's JO article on evolution

On Mon, 26 Jun 2006 07:20:06 -0700 (PDT), R Gershon Seif <gershonseif@yahoo.com> posted (and didn't reach the list until v2n13):
: On page 16 of the recent JO, Rav Keller brings proofs that when the Torah
: says a day in Mayseh Beraishis, it is literal. In one of the footnotes
: he quotes Rab Schwab, but it appeared as if it was longer.

It is interesting that R' Keller would quote R' Schwab. RSS has an essay
in Challenge 164-174. The thesis seems to be that RSS doesn't believe
that science has actually proven the theory of antiquity BUT even
if it had, it's irrelevant. RSS writes about ma'aseh bereishis being
measured by multiple clocks, clocks that need not run in sync. And in
fact explicitly states that 6 days could also be 15 billion (or 13.8 bn,
as per the theory de jour).

A quote (pg 69):
> Even if science could ever sustantiate its theory of longevity, it could
> never be construed as a contradiction to the Torah. /Billions of/
> /years during the era of creation are equal to 6 regular days today.
> [italics RSS's -mi]  If this statement seems startling, we may
> excercise our patience and withhold our objections until the end of
> the discussion...

This is a "the two are descriptions of the same duration" position similar
to REED's peshat in the Ramban, as opposed to Schroeder's variant.

: 1. Ein mikra yotzai midai pshuto. Since the Torah has definite lines of
: demarcation of time and evolution assumes one long continuum, it would
: be against this basic rule of learning Torah to twist mayseh Bereishis
: into an evolving creation.

Actually, current theories of evolution are not continuus. To learn more
about the subject, google the words "punctuated equilibrium".

: 2. The Ramban, Bereishis 1:3, and the Rashbam Bereishi 1:4 take this
: literaly.

This has been argued here at length. REED would not agree that the
Ramban's literal days excludes the time it also being something else. The
Rashbam (whose shitah we didn't belabor to death) is a pashtan to the
point of giving teitch even where he himself would say it contradicts
mesorah ("vayehi erev vayehi boker" meaning that days start at dawn is
an example that leaps to mind). So the Rashbam wouldn't try to explain
idiomatic or nimshal meaning.

On Sun, Oct 01, 2006 at 07:42:49AM -0400, Jonathan Baker wrote:
:> 8. Shulchan Aruch (OC 229:2) is m'chayaiv us to recite birkas hachamo
:> once every 28 years, and it is on Wednesday, the day the sun ws created.

:                    ...  We also say Hayom harat olam, we also theorize that
: Rosh Hashanah was the first Shabbos, rather than the beginning of creation,
: we also theorize that the world was created in Nissan - there are lots of
: competing theories as to the correspondence of the calendar to the "moment
: of Creation" - none of which seem exclusively binding.

Actually, Tosafos ask this question. Beqitzur nimratz "haras" means
conception, not birth. So, we do not assert beri'ah in Tishrei.

:>  - He also writes that the Rambam agrees with a 6 day creation. He
:> writes the Rambam has beenmisquoted. All the now famous Rambam in MN
:> meant was that there are sodos of Kaballah that are lying behind the
:> simple meaning of the words.

:                                   ....  THE RAMBAM DIDN'T KNOW KABBALAH.
: All the "proofs" that he did were forgeries and wishful thinking, compared
: with his own statement in the Moreh that as far as he knew, the original
: esoteric meaning of maaseh bereshit was lost....

Not that it changes your point, but it's equally consistent to say the
Rambam knew enough Qabbalah to reject it.

On Tue, Oct 03, 2006 at 05:53:24PM -0400, Meir Shinnar wrote:
: 2)  there is a strong tradition (even amongst literalists like the kuzari)
: that, even if one does not argue for the rationality of torah, torah does
: not contradict reason - eg, the kuzari argues that there is no good, solid
: evidence for a world older than 5000 years (his time) - but admits that if
: there was such evidence, the position and argument would have to be
: rethought - because nothing in the torah can contradict reason.

Actually, the statement is that the two could never contradict. Period.
The Kuzari and Rambam probably didn't entertain the possibility that
their shitos in Torah would need to be rethought. And if they did face the
apparant contradiction, it can not be proven that they would reinterpret
the pasuq rather than question the philosophical grounds of using science
to understand origins.

As for RZL's use of seifer ha'iqarim... I have no idea why one would
assume that the rules for understanding people would necessarily be the
same as the rules for understanding pasuq. Can you do a gezeira shava
or ribui umi'ut on the text of "Oliver Twist"? In contemporary idiom,
yom means day. In navi, Yom Yerushalayim wasn't just a day. Nu, meaning
changed impacting din. And if a person says in eidus "the day after the
Shabbos" do we assume he might mean the first day of chol hamo'eid?
And when eidim talk of hands, that don't mean it poetically, like
Yad Hashem.

Saying that a pasuq doesn't leave peshuto because eidus does not doesn't
necessitate that both have the same means of determining peshat. He
is speaking against pure allegorization -- ie saying that a pasuq
is ahistorical mashal -- but not necessarily idiom. (And even that
weaker position is subject to machloqes with the Meiri, who allows for
ahistorical allegory IFF we have a mesorah for it.)

Tir'u beTov!

Micha Berger             May it be His Will that Yosef Shelomo b' Devorah micha@aishdas.org        - among all our soldiers and all the residents of http://www.aishdas.org   northern Israel - return home soon, healthy in Fax: (270) 514-1507      spirit and body, to peace and security.

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Message: 3
From: JoshHoff@aol.com
Date: Thu, 5 Oct 2006 19:05:04 EDT
Re: [Avodah] Avodah Digest, Vol 3, Issue 4

In a message dated 10/5/2006 6:48:43 PM Eastern Daylight Time, 
avodah-request@lists.aishdas.org writes:

> This practice is Halachicly incorrect. One is supposed to eat before
> making Kiddush Levana. It is only out of expedience that many shuls
> do so.

In 1972, on Motzaei Yom Kippur, I asked Rav Ahron Soloveichik zt'l  if there 
is a requirement to eat before Kidush Levanah that night. He asked, "Who 
says?, "
so I said that we do this on Motzaei Tisha B'Av so that we will say Kiddush 
Levanah b'simcha. Rav Ahron replied, " Yom Kippur is over- that's the biggest 
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Message: 4
From: "Michael B. Nechamkin" <mnechamkin@octagoncredit.com>
Date: Wed Oct 04 22:20:44 2006
[Avodah] Sukkos machshavah question

Does anyone have a thought to explain the difference between the 2
mitzvos of sukkos?
The gemarah adds to the mitzvah of sukkah many new halachos but they
are mostly kulos (I.e. Dofen akumah, rov, levud,etc). Conversely, lulav
and esrog also have many halachos, but they are chumrohs (chaser,
chazazis, etc). For example, the gemarah tells us we only need rov
schach/tzel for a kosher sukkah, but if even a mashahu is missing from
an esrog, it is pasul.

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Message: 5
From: saul mashbaum <smash52@netvision.net.il>
Date: Thu, 05 Oct 2006 23:57:42 +0200
[Avodah] RE; Ushpizin and Sheva Berakhos

RMBerger  wrote:

>This may sound silly but...

>Can one count the Ushpizin as panim chadashos for 7 berakhos?

At this point I don't see why one would consider such a possibilty. Are you in doubt as to whether the  Ushpizin count for a minyan? A mezuman? Do they affect issur yichud? I rather imagine the answer is "of course not". I don't know of any basis for thinking that panim chadashot is any different.

It is true that there is one non-corporal entity which counts as panim chadashot: Shabbat. AFAIK, this is the only such case. Do you have sources that indicate otherwise?

Saul Mashbaum

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Message: 6
From: saul mashbaum <smash52@netvision.net.il>
Date: Fri, 06 Oct 2006 00:22:19 +0200
Re: [Avodah] Agag

RISober wrote

>I definitely recall hearing that Agag - in the brief interval after Shaul spared him and before Shmuel killed him - found a shifcha >through whom he was able to continue his line of descent. But I can't find the source for this! Does anyone know the source?
This is the idea of  the statement in the gemara Megilla 13a that Haman HaAgagi (a descendant of Agag) was born as a result of  Shaul's sparing of Agag.
We say this in the piyyut "Asher heini" said after the megilla reading (which ends with the familiar stanza "Shoshanat Yaakov"):
"Velo zachar [Haman] rachamei Shaul, ki b'chemlato al Agag nolad oyev". The Eitz Yosef in Otzar HaTefillot there mentions the story of the shifcha RIS cites.

Saul Mashbaum

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Message: 7
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Date: Fri, 6 Oct 2006 06:18:41 -0400
Re: [Avodah] RE; Ushpizin and Sheva Berakhos

On Thu, Oct 05, 2006 at 11:57:42PM +0200, saul mashbaum wrote:
:>Can one count the Ushpizin as panim chadashos for 7 berakhos?

: At this point I don't see why one would consider such a possibilty.
: It is true that there is one non-corporal entity which counts as
: panim chadashot: Shabbat. AFAIK, this is the only such case. Do you have
: sources that indicate otherwise?

So you do see why I would consider it. Once one says that Shabbas
haMalkah can serve, why not the Ushpizin? What sevara would distinguish
one from the other?

(No I do not have sources; that's what I was asking for!)


Micha Berger             For a mitzvah is a lamp,
micha@aishdas.org        And the Torah, its light.
http://www.aishdas.org                   - based on Mishlei 6:2
Fax: (270) 514-1507      

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Message: 8
From: "David Riceman" <driceman@worldnet.att.net>
Date: Fri, 6 Oct 2006 08:23:39 -0400
Re: [Avodah] yom kippur drasha

From: "Micha Berger" <micha@aishdas.org>

>> A Melech need not impose His will in the same way that a Mosheil does.

See Ez. 20:33.

> Not the antithesis of yir'ah as RAEK understand the concept. See
> Be'iqvos haYir'ah <http://www.aishdas.org/raek/yirah.pdf>.
> ... Vayir'u ha'am es Hashem, vaya'aminu Bashem uvMosheh avdo. Az
> Yashir ...

But the midrash explicitly says that consequently "afilu malachim barhu 

David Riceman 

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Message: 9
From: "Dov Kay" <dov_kay@hotmail.co.uk>
Date: Fri, 06 Oct 2006 11:58:45 +0000
[Avodah] Kiddush Levanah on Motzoei YK

<<Mitzvah haba leyadkha al tachmitzenah is invoked as a chiyuv. I do not
understand why we aren't all zerizim maqdimim.>>

The Levush, who maintains that it should be recited before YK, argue on the 
basis that we need as many z'chuyos as we can get before YK, not z'rizim 

As R Saul Mashbaum points out, it may depend on how one prioritizes hiddur 
vs z'rizus.  On the other hand, it might be that being in a state of joy 
when reciting KL is a part of the mitzva, if not an essential one, which 
precludes its being said when a person experiences eimas hadin during AYT.

Living in Manchester, I have adopted the AhS's custom of making KL as soon 
as possible, even in Tishre and Av, because the moon is seldom visible in 
this city.

Kol tuv
Dov Kay

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Message: 10
From: "Yisrael Medad" <yisrael.medad@gmail.com>
Date: Fri, 6 Oct 2006 14:04:13 +0200
[Avodah] Learning during Chazarat HaShatz

From: "Joel Rich" <JRich@Segalco.com>
Is anyone aware of any written sources that allow learning during chazarat
hashatz?Gtjoel rich
Joel, look at the ArtScroll edition (or is it Mesorah?) of Rav Moshe
Feinstein's life and I think you'l find he brought up a sefer of Mishneh
Brurah (?) with him when he had an Aliyah so as not to waste any time in
between the Aliyot.

And don't pursue this too much otherwse where would I find the time to read
about Chassidut or others would read the new RJB machzor for YK!

Yisrael Medad
Mobile Post Efraim 44830
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Message: 11
From: "Dov Kay" <dov_kay@hotmail.co.uk>
Date: Fri, 06 Oct 2006 12:06:33 +0000
[Avodah] 12 Step Programs

Quite aside from the specifics of the individual 12 steps, I think equally 
problematic is the copying of a non-Jewish mode of religious practice.   It 
is recorded in Nefesh HaRav that the Rav suggested that this was the basis 
of the Arizal's recorded opposition to the recital of Yigdal in shul - it 
smacks too much of the Christian catechism.  We may not serve G-d the way 
they serve their deities.  This argument is also raised with respect to the 
question of bas mitzva - is this just a copy of the Confirmation ceremony or 
not? I am exceedingly leery of the 12 steps, although I appreciate that 
Rabbi Dr Twerski has no doubt helped many using them.

Gut erev YT
Dov Kay

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Message: 12
From: "Micha Berger" <micha@aishdas.org>
Date: Fri, 6 Oct 2006 09:18:30 -0400 (EDT)
Re: [Avodah] Timtum Halev

On Tue, October 3, 2006 8:39 pm, SBA forwarded from R "AAW":
: This is for Teshuva, but not for Timtum Halev, that is not associated with
: the Isur.

RAAW is mistaken.

"Tanna deVei Rav Yishmael, 'AVEIRA mitamtemes libo shel adam'" (Yuma 39a)
[Just to state the obivous: emphasis added.]

Which could lead us back to the question in the reverse -- following all of
hilkhos mezuzah but not having a kosher mezuzah. If anyone really wants to go
back there again.

Tir'u beTov!

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Message: 13
From: "Micha Berger" <micha@aishdas.org>
Date: Fri, 6 Oct 2006 10:13:34 -0400 (EDT)
Re: [Avodah] 12 Step Programs

On Wed, October 4, 2006 9:32 pm, R Moshe Yehuda Gluck quoted me and my list of
steps and wrote:
:>> 1.   We admitted we were powerless over our addiction - that our lives
:>> had become unmanageable

> Don't we believe that a person can master his actions? And, if it's past
> our nekudas habechirah, then aren't we not responsible?

(More on this in a moment.)

Quote #2:
:>> 6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character
:>> 7. Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings

To which I commented:
:> It just smells Xian. Something about turning to a deity for salvation
:> rather than one redeeming oneself. Hakol biydei Shamayim chutz meyir'as
:> Shamayim. We could and should ask for Hashem's help... But to ask Him
:> to do it for us?

: Ayin Maharsha Berachos 10a, s.v. Chatai'im K'siv, who seems to say that
: asking Hashem to return one's self in teshuvah is part of Ha'rotzeh L'Taher
: M'sayin Oso. Ayin sham.

AISI, the Maharsha speaks of assistance -- "mesayin", not of "letting go and
letting G-d".

I find it interesting that I was not bothered by #1, but no.s 6 & 7 hit me the
wrong way, but RYMG responded in the reverse. To return to what RMYG wrote on
> Don't we believe that a person can master his actions? And, if it's past
> our nekudas habechirah, then aren't we not responsible?

The first question is simply another version what I asked on no.s 6 and 7. Li
nireh it is one thing to say we lost control over something, and saying that
we have no control over anything. After all, being addicted should
definitionally mean that the person's nequdas habechirah is nowhere near the
issue. That's why to me #1 is less problematic.

And why is someone not responsible for something past one's nequdas
habechirah? Isn't he responsible for where the nequdah is? Does a ganef not
have to stop his geneivah, even if it's a kind of theft that he was raised
thinking "doen't really count" and "everyone does it"?

(Although really lehefech: Isn't the point of shemiras hamitzvos to move the
nequdah which in and of itself is the cause of sechar?)

Juming back:
:>> 5. Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact
:>> nature of our wrongs

:> And who would think I would complain about a cheshbon hanefesh or vidui?
:> Vidui to Hashem and ourselves is A-OK. But vidui to another human being is
:> not - on an Avierah not publicly known - ayin OC 607:2 and the MB there.

On Thu, October 5, 2006 6:02 am, R Mike Miller wrote about the same step:
: Then at least limit it to known aveiros. I suppose there are two ways...
: or, more likely IMHO, as a way to make sure the person actually does it,
: and does so seriously....

My thought when I wrote my remark:
Part of asking mechilah is admitting to the person verbally that you realize
you wronged them. The CC and RYSalanter are choleiq about whether this
includes telling them of wrongs that they don't already know about that might
bother them more than their ignorance. But the basic idea of verbally
confessing to the person you wronged isn't under debate, AFAIK. That's what I
thought it meant.

Turns out though, RMM was closer to correct. The following is from "The Big
Book", quoted at <http://www.12step.org/steps/step5.php>:
> How it Works

> This is perhaps difficult, especially discussing our defects with another
> person. We think we have done well enough in admitting these things to
> ourselves. There is doubt about that. In actual practice, we usually find
> a solitary self-appraisal insufficient. Many of us thought it necessary to
> go much further. We will be more reconciled to discussing ourselves with
> another person when we see good reasons why we should do so. The best
> reason first: If we skip this vital step, we may not overcome drinking.
> Time after time newcomers have tried to keep to themselves certain facts
> about their lives. Trying to avoid this humbling experience, they have
> turned to easier methods. Almost invariably they got drunk. Having
> persevered with the rest of the program, they wondered why they fell. We
> think the reason is that they never completed their housecleaning. They
> took inventory all right, but hung on to some of the worst items in stock.
> They only thought they had lost their egoism and fear; they only thought
> they had humbled themselves. But they had not learned enough of humility,
> fearlessness and honesty, in the sense we find it necessary, until they
> told someone else all their life story.
> -A.A. Big Book p.72-73

IOW, o chavrusa o misusa. The Novhardok "bursa" comes to mind. It would also
be part of the function of a Slabodka style va'ad, but ve'adim are chaburah
size, not chavrusa, and also formulate qabbalos to try as a group.

Not, as per RMYG's objection or RMM's first (deleted) possibility, the role of
"father confessor". (Totally off topic, but JPII renamed "confession" to
"reconciliation", and priests are encouraged to take this kind of role when
hearing it. "Reconciliation" is even a plausible translation of teshuvah. But
enough AZ for one post.)

On Fri, October 6, 2006 8:06 am, R Dov Kay wrote:
: Quite aside from the specifics of the individual 12 steps, I think equally
: problematic is the copying of a non-Jewish mode of religious practice....

If there were some actual issur, rather than aggadic problems, obviously
RATwersky knows why it doesn't apply. It is arguably not derekh Emori, as they
aren't tying this to a specific non-Jewish religion.

I too am uncomfortable with the notion of fitting one's hashkafah to an
outside value. This is what I meant by referring to my position on ordaining
women. There too one might work around any halachic issues, but the bottom
line is that one is modifying one's avodas Hashem in significant ways for
reasons other than "it says so in the Torah".

Tir'u beTov, & :-)BB|^^|ii!

PS: The emoticon above made me wonder: Does anyone else have a minhag to use
round challos until Hoshana Rabba, so that I should have had
:-)@@|^^|ii!   ?

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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Message: 14
From: "Micha Berger" <micha@aishdas.org>
Date: Fri, 6 Oct 2006 10:24:00 -0400 (EDT)
Re: [Avodah] Rav Keller's JO article on evolution

On Thu, October 5, 2006 4:03 pm, Zvi Lampel wrote:
:      The sugya in Pesachim is dealing with accepting testimony that is
: possibly imprecise, given the factor of innocent human error, attempting to
: understand what the witness really means. This contrasts with the opposite
: idea in Rav Yosef Albo's piece: There, precision is not the issue, but the
: normal meaning of words. In such cases, we do not reinterpret someone's
: testimony to mean something we really know is different from what he really
: meant.

But that's just it, WRT people, we empathize and as fellow human beings, can
deduce what people mean when they say something, e.g. the word "yom". WRT the
Torah, we have rules of derashah and sevara for such things, we have a mesorah
to clear things up, and we have unanswered questions. But we do not have the
same means of deciding what "He really meant". So I think your comparison
fails at the step before, not at the rineterpretting, but at the "we really

BTW, I had a chance to look over RSS's essay at length on the way into work
this morning. He posits that there are two clocks -- that of the Light and
Dark of the Light created on Yom 1, and the clock of nature. With the
"vayeqadeish oso" of Shabbos, sacred time and physical time were set in sync.
But before then, one could go through a yom at a very different pace and in
fact irregularly, compared to the other. If all physical processes move very
rapidly, there is no physical way of knowing. People detached from the
spiritual would simply experience more time as their minds ran the same extra
speed as their pulse, objects coming at them, the bonds in their atoms, etc...
Only through awareness of the holy can one detect time as per the or haganuz
latzadiqim. And thus, scientists looking at the empirical will never see a
young universe, but we who have access to the path to tzidqus are told in its
first chapter about time on another clock.

Tir'u beTov!

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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End of Avodah Digest, Vol 3, Issue 5

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