Avodah Mailing List

Volume 25: Number 90

Tue, 04 Mar 2008

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Date: Tue, 4 Mar 2008 07:07:24 -0500
Re: [Avodah] History

On Mon, Mar 03, 2008 at 11:04:19PM -0500, hlampel@koshernet.com wrote:
: Of course, you can insist that every time a rishon
: cites an Aggadta he has in mind an unspoken underlying understanding
: that it is not meant historicall..

No, I'm talking about rishonim and acharonim who (primarily in haqdamos)
wrote that in this case or that, and we're talking wide sweeping rules
like "fantastical claims", one should assume the medeash is ahistoric.
And the explanation given is that it's because Chazal didn't repeat the
story for the story, but they were speaking in meshalim.

That last concept is where I get that no medrash was repeated because
it was historical fact. The explanation for why it's mutar to make such
statements tells you that the mashal is only taught for its nimshal.
Even in the cases where the mashal was lemaaseh taken from history.

My notion wasn't that none of them are historical; but that caring
is simply off topic for Torah study. Studying history is Chokhmas
Yisrael. Valuable, but a different thing. Studying science as a way to
advance our ability to enhance lives, or to know the mind of the Creator,
or... is valuable as well. Studying the lessons taken taken from history
or [other?] myth or from science [accurate or discarded theories] so as
to advance our our AYH is talmud Torah.

Which is how rishonim can take liberties deciding which midrashim are
too fantastical for them to believe historically.

: Some specific examples of
: literally-taken biographical/historical Aggados that come to mind:
: The conflicting Aggados about what age Avraham was when he discovered Hashem.

Why would a treatment of the mashal to fully understand it before
proceding to the nimshal (how to develop one's own emunah) touch the
question of historicity? Wouldn't the need to explain the meshalim be
equal either way?

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             Feeling grateful  to or appreciative of  someone
micha@aishdas.org        or something in your life actually attracts more
http://www.aishdas.org   of the things that you appreciate and value into
Fax: (270) 514-1507      your life.         - Christiane Northrup, M.D.

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Message: 2
From: "Michael Makovi" <mikewinddale@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 4 Mar 2008 14:41:23 +0200
Re: [Avodah] Torah limud: theoretical/academic versus

>  :  being an observant Jew does not mean ignoring the
>  : academic information, and being an academic doesn't mean that he
>  : doesn't believe in Sinai and keep halacha. The two can be mutually
>  : exclusive, but don't have to be.

>  Agreed.
>  However, Talmud Torah isn't about that information, it's about being a
>  part of the living fulfillment of beris Sinai, part of the flow of the
>  mesorah. The role of the Meiri in that is diminished; never mind the
>  role of contextual information.
>  So, the O Jew should be fascinated and study such info. But he shouldn't
>  confuse it with that which defines how we are to live as O Jews. Not
>  just in terms of halachic authority, but also in terms of perceptions
>  of the goals we live toward. Because, after all, the two are inseprable.
> R' Micha

And here I disagree. I don't think they are inseparable; I think they
are part and parcel. They are not the same face of the coin, but they
*are* two sides of the same coin.

What is the flow of the mesorah? A large part of it is information -
and thus, academic/objective information can be just as much a part of
the mesorah, IMO. I find myself wishing quite often, actually, that
Chazal were more interested in history per se, because I find that
even history without a lesson, but rather, just stam history for its
own sake, makes me feel connected. Moreover, it provides context to
everything else, so that even if a certain set of historical
information provides no mussar itself, it provides the necessary
backdrop for everything else. I know a rav who says that everyone who
studies Gemara ought to study Babylonian Sassanid (the reigning
Persian power during the Amoraic period) history.

I've never understood the objection, for example, to a certain Chumash
narrative being stam history. If it has a lesson, yofi, but if not,
what's the problem? Suppose there were no lessons to learn from the
Avot and Imot - do you think that then you could dispense with their
history? Do you think that you could wake up and do mitzvot if you had
no conception of where the Jewish people came from? It's a part of
self-identity - knowing where you came from is a large part of
defining who you are, even if you learned NOTHING along the way - just
knowing that Avraham existed and Yehoshua's conquests occurred, rather
than knowing only the mitzvot themselves. If I woke up tomorrow not
knowing my name or where I was where I am right now, but otherwise
knowing everything I know now, believe you me, I'd be a broken man.

So does stam history for its own sake have a value? If you ask me, you bet!

Mikha'el Makovi

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Message: 3
From: "Micha Berger" <micha@aishdas.org>
Date: Tue, 4 Mar 2008 12:12:51 -0500 (EST)
Re: [Avodah] Roast lamb

On Fri, February 29, 2008 9:47 am, RAM <kennethgmiller@juno.com> wrote:
:          Maybe there's a shiur for how much liquid is needed to
: separate tzeli from bishul? And maybe that shiur differs depending on
: situation. For example, korban pesach vs. hechsher keilim vs. brachos
: -- we could very easily use a stricter definition for one and an
: easier definition for another.

Someone recently pointed the chevrah to R Jed Lewinson's article in
the TuM Journal titled "Philosophy in Halakhah: The Case of
Intentional Action" <http://tinyurl.com/27ovz5> (from yutorah.org).

The author asks "Why, then, do we consistently ignore halakhic texts
as primary sources for Jewish philosophy?" It seems he doesn't know
about Telzher derekh and asking "fahr vas?" RJL then analyzes the
issues of meizid, shogeig and mis'aseiq in light of modern
philosophical "action theory". (Major implications for understanding
pesiq reishei as well.) What constitutes one action, what constitutes
2? What is a human action (roughly: maaseh adam) and what is accident
(eg sneezing)?

Along the way, he notices conflicting implications between REW's
implied definition of action and the masqanah of every rishon he found
to comment an another inyan. I tried squeezing definitions of the
cases into this email, and failed do so comprehensibly. The article is
32 pages (if you don't bother with the footnotes, although he makes
points, not just mar'eh meqomos in the footnotes, 40 pages in all). I
thought it was worth the time. But then, it's a synthesis of TIDE,
Telzher derekh and philosophy; how could I not?

Along the way, RJL addresses RAM's question -- how do we generalize?
See below. (Easier to append to the end than put "> " before each line.)

SheTir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             "Man wants to achieve greatness overnight,
micha@aishdas.org        and he wants to sleep well that night too."
http://www.aishdas.org     - Rav Yosef Yozel Horwitz, Alter of Novarodok
Fax: (270) 514-1507

RJL writes in the TuM Journal:

Once we realize that the Rabbis are really making claims about
action (the real thing), another question quickly arises. Don't
the standards of action differ in different sugyot? If they do,
wouldn't this be deeply problematic? Let us begin answering
this question by distinguishing between two different senses of
"standards of action." In the first sense, "action" is used
imprecisely, and the challenge, relatively benign, is that
different sugyot designate different degrees of attending
intention for prescribed (or proscribed) behavior. In some
cases, the Rabbis may be demanding a level of intention that
goes beyond what is needed, on a given account, to make the
behavior an action. In other cases, the Rabbis may hold people
responsible for behaviors that do not, on a given account, qualify
as actions. In response to this challenge, we must insist that
none of these considerations implies that there are conflicting
accounts of action at play. In many normative systems, people
are held responsible for non-actions. The primary example of this
phenomenon is wrongful omissions of action, like failure to pay
taxes, which are not even behaviors. Moreover, there is no reason
that Halakhah cannot demand, in circumstances that it deems fit,
a higher level intention than that which is needed for the behavior
to constitute an action.

In the more literal sense of "standards of action," the worry is
that different sugyot hold different accounts of action (ma'aseh
adam). I do, in fact, claim that if one can tease from a sugya that
a behavior can be a ma'aseh adam without any attending intention,
then one can raise a kushyah against R. Wasserman's position. Due
to the possibility of such a challenge, I in no place endorsed
R. Wasserman's (or the Steipler's) theory, or claimed that it is
consistent across all of Shas. I simply highlighted his position
and revealed his commitments. All that said, such kushyot are not
easily launched. Before offering any, one would have to make sure
that the sugya upon which one bases one's challenge discusses
the concept of ma'aseh adam and not some similar concept. As
the discussion in the previous paragraph indicates, it is easy
to mistakenly assume that two sugyot invoke the same concept
when they do not. Just because a sugya discusses intention and
a specific behavior, for example, does not mean it invokes the
concept of ma'aseh adam.36

Before progressing to more general claims -- and readers
uninterested in these claims will lose nothing by jumping to the
next section -- let us take careful notice of the distinction
between a concept and a word.  Words are signs, and are generally
comprised of lines on a page or sounds in the air; concepts, by
contrast, infuse the word with meaning.  Some words (e.g. "bank")
can be used to invoke multiple concepts, and many concepts can
be expressed by multiple words (synonyms, like "student" and
"pupil," or perfect translations, like "tree" and "ez.").

Regrettably, one can only write about concepts by using words;
nonetheless, it is critical to keep the difference in mind. (I will
aid the reader by using quotation marks when discussing a word.)

Armed with this distinction, we may, with caution, generalize,
and claim that whenever halakhic sources rely on a particular
analysis of a concept, they commit themselves to this analysis in
any halakhic context.  Indeed, one can detect a strong impulse in
halakhic discourse to assume that a concept invoked in multiple
halakhic spheres will have the same standards of application
throughout (universalizing principle). In more technical terms,
talmudists assume that an analysis of a concept cannot take the
irreducibly contextual form: p1 in context A or p2 in context B,
where the different contexts are different halakhic contexts
(e.g. hilkhot Shabbat or nezikin).37

This universalizing principle is particularly salient given the
Talmud's further assumption -- an assumption, it should be noted,
not merely about concepts but also about words -- that when the
same word is used in different halakhic contexts it invokes the
same concept, unless there is independent reason to think otherwise
(strong universalizing principle). An interesting yet by no means
exceptional example will, I hope, illuminate these principles.

... [End of teaser. Go see the article! -mi]

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Message: 4
From: "Jesse Abelman" <jesseabe@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 4 Mar 2008 10:09:45 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Torah limud: theoretical/academic versus

On 3/4/08, Michael Makovi <mikewinddale@gmail.com> wrote:
> >  :  being an observant Jew does not mean ignoring the
> >  : academic information, and being an academic doesn't mean that he
> >  : doesn't believe in Sinai and keep halacha. The two can be mutually
> >  : exclusive, but don't have to be.

R micha wrote:.
> >  Agreed.
> >
> >  However, Talmud Torah isn't about that information, it's about being a
> >  part of the living fulfillment of beris Sinai, part of the flow of the
> >  mesorah. The role of the Meiri in that is diminished; never mind the
> >  role of contextual information.
> >
> >  So, the O Jew should be fascinated and study such info. But he
> shouldn't
> >  confuse it with that which defines how we are to live as O Jews. Not
> >  just in terms of halachic authority, but also in terms of perceptions
> >  of the goals we live toward. Because, after all, the two are
> inseprable.
> > R' Micha

Michael Makovi wrote:

> And here I disagree. I don't think they are inseparable; I think they
> are part and parcel. They are not the same face of the coin, but they
> *are* two sides of the same coin.
> What is the flow of the mesorah? A large part of it is information -
> and thus, academic/objective information can be just as much a part of
> the mesorah, IMO.

There are other dimensions here as well.  One is that the mesorah is not
static, it shifts over time as does everything else.  Historical study
grants us the perspective to understand how those shifts occur, and frees us
from becoming the unwitting slaves of history, as opposed to the avdei
Hashem we should be.  When, for example, we study bibliography and gain a
better understanding of what the  libraries of various Rishonim did and did
not contain, what works they had access to, we can better understand what
they understood the mesorah to be, and how it differs in content
from the mesorah as we have it.
   Another way in which historical study enriches our religious lives is the
ways in which it aids us in understanding exactly what Rishonim and Achronim
were doing.  Dr. Haym Soloveitchik, in his recent article _Polemic and Art_
on the Rambam does a beautiful job of demonstrating how this works in a
discussion of the Rambam's Hilkhot Shabbat.  (Incidentally, this is a
beautiful essay which works on many levels.  It is well worth everybody's
  Historical study of Judaism is important and can and should inform our
understanding of the mesorah, of what the word "mesorah" means and how we
should relate to its content.

             Jesse A.
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Message: 5
From: "Eli Turkel" <eliturkel@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 4 Mar 2008 16:23:33 +0100
[Avodah] history

<<A refined version of your hypothesis would have to include the
caveat that some stories do come down for the purpose of teaching
something not to emulate, and would have to include a method for
identifying those stories.  One simple suggestion would be that the
only such stories are the ones with a critical component already,
but this does bring us back to the question as to when that
criticism was attached and who is able to make such criticism.>>

Again the question that was raised was not learning musar from these stories
but learning halachot.  A simple example is that if eliyahu was
Pinchas then this implies
that a Cohen gadol can resign his position and then not be bound by
all the restrictions.
Eliyahu obviously did not live in Jerusalem, left for Samaraia and
even outside of
the borders of Israel raising questions of tumah. Could eliyahu marry a widow?

On this level the original question of the status of the avot is a
little less disturbing.
The assumption was that the avot realized they were safek gerim and
acted accordingly.

Eli Turkel

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Message: 6
From: "Eli Turkel" <eliturkel@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 4 Mar 2008 16:44:44 +0100
[Avodah] ashkenaz and sefard

: The usual claim is much stronger. That ashkenaz ie German Rhineland
: Jewry actually came there from Italy and that Italian 800 CE Jews came
: there from EY.

Much of them. Not all. My understanding is that Ashkenaz is understood
to be a richer mix of EY Jews than Sepharad. Not exclusivity. This is
why RGMhG links back to the gaonim.>>

We have historical records of the request of kings of the holy Roman empire
to the kalonymus family of Lucca to move to Germany. It seems they founded
the community in Mainz. Of course it does not mean that later other Jews from
other communities did not join. It certainly does not deny possible
between the community in Mainz and the gaonite in Bavel.

I was reading a sefer recently decrying the modern ashkenazi influence
on sefardi
customs. I found the argument quite silly. All communities have had multiple
sources. Almost no community has been immune to outside influences unless
they were physically cutoff from the rest of the world. One of the
greatest sources
of modern mutusal influence is the Rosh moving to Spain. Over the next some
200 years his family's traditions affected sefardi customs and vice versa.
One interesting point is that the Rosh lists major differences between ashekenaz
and sefard. customs. He does NOT list any differences in pronunciation!

Eli Turkel

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Message: 7
From: "Micha Berger" <micha@aishdas.org>
Date: Tue, 4 Mar 2008 16:55:48 -0500 (EST)
Re: [Avodah] Does God Change His Mind?

On Mon, March 3, 2008 5:59 am, Michael Makovi wrote:
: [RRW:]
:> And what if a person wants to behave in a Divinie of "G-dly" manner.

:> To put it simply, he knows no Halcha but he is  motivated to live up
:> to his innate sprit/soul/highernature etc.

: That's another good objection, but not to Kant per se, but rather, to
: any morality sans revelation. If a person wants to be good, well and
: good, but how will he know how? Ein am haaretz chasid, the Gemara says
: regarding Avimelech....

Doesn't Hillel define morality to the geir quite simply: De'alakh
sani, lechaveirkha lo sa'avod. That's kol haTorah kulah not only in
the short time one can balance on one leg, but also the Torah is
presented as standing on that one leg.

Similarly, concepts as "qedoshim tihyu" or "ve'asisa hatov vehayashar"
presume that there is some validity to how we understand these
concepts beyond how they're spelled out in halakhah.

What you need revelation for is to understand how that one principle
maps to the complexities of real life.

See <http://www.aishdas.org/asp/2007/05/rest-is-commentary.shtml>.

: One may wish to say that Noachides must have some way of determining
: the truth by reason, for the Torah seems to demand this - only Jews
: saw Sinai, after all. To this, I'd say that Jews are to be their
: example...

I would propose the analogy: The Torah is to BY as BY is to the
nations. "Mamlekhes kohanim".

However, the Rambam requires that for someone to really be an
observant Noachide (or perhaps a geir toshav only) is that they
observe the 7 laws because they were relayed to Moshe in Sinai. That
someone who figured them out on their own is at best a chakham, not
from the chassidei umos ha'olam.

On Tue, February 26, 2008 6:49 am, Michael Makovi wrote:
: ...                            does anyone talk about whether it is
: "bad" or patur or what have you, to slaughter the calf in front of the
: mother? ...

I'm not one of Avodah's better-informed contributors, but I never
heard of such a gezeira.

We recently discussed a related topic: The base chiyuv as spelled out
in black and white, and the obligation Rav told Rabba bar bar Chanan
he had to pay the poor workers who broke his barrels.

One has an obligation "qadeish es atzmekha bema shemutar lakh", that
following the base chiyuv without ever going lifnim mishuras hadin is
insufficient. Which also implies people having some knowledge of
morality beyond the letter of spelled out halakhah so as to know what
is beyond the din in constructive ways.

The question we raised is whether there is some criterion for which of
these things motivate a derabbanan, which are just "wrong" in general
but vague ways that suggest personal chumrah.

:>  Majority view? There are only three people cited in the gemara, and
:>  they all agree on this aspect of things.

: I didn't say it; Rambam (AFAIK = I haven't seen it inside) said it was
: a minority view that it is not rachamim. AFAIK, Rambam says that
: adarabba, the majority hold mitzvot have humanly-understandable
: ta'amim like rachamim etc.

So check the Rambam inside, or give us a source. As it stands, I have
to assume something was lost in the translation.

: Anyway, despite the Bavli, the Yerushalmi, AFAIK, holds the issue
: isn't rachamim versus not rachamim, but rather shliach tzibur versus
: baal habayit.

Ditto. I can't accept a machloqes without seeing it for myself.

: I haven't seen Rambam inside, but the understanding I was given (by
: Rabbi Epstein Faith of Judaism) that Rambam basically says the
: following:
: Aristotle says two things: eternity of matter and G-d didn't create
: the world. Rabbi Epstein distinguishes these two, because he says,
: conceivably one could say that matter was eternal but G-d still shaped
: it; I recall Ralbag says something similar to this. So the two issues
: are related, but can be distinguished:
: 1) Is matter eternal or not
: 2) Did G-d involve Himself in creation, whether creating or simply
: shaping that which was eternal. Or was G-d totally uninvolved in any
: way ( = Aristotle).

As far as the Rambam knew, Aristotle did posit that Hashem caused the
universe. That matter is eternal, but only because its Cause is
eternal.  (That's really Plotinus, but the Arabic translation of
Metaphysics included the Enniads as through they were part of the
text.) There is no reason for the universe to exist now that wasn't
true trillions of years ago -- therefore, it must have existed then
too. Aristotle himself noted the law of conservation of matter; we
never find yeish mei'ayin, or ayin miyeish. So, he saw no reason to
question permanence.

Which is how the Rambam could say that if it didn't run counter to our
neviim and chakhamim, Aristotle could be fit in with the pasuq. He
takes creation outside of time rather than eliminating it. The Rambam
then has a discussion (Moreh 1:64) of the identity of the notions of
Cause and Agent in order to explain Asisto.

I therefore do not understand the Rambam in a way that makes your
following discussion meaningful.

: Regarding the first, TSBP and the pshat of TSBK says ex-nihilo, and
: since Aristotle hasn't proved eternity of matter, why should we bend
: anything to reconcile with him? BUT, hypothetically speaking, were
: Aristotle to prove beyond a doubt eternity of matter, we'd simply
: allegorize TSBK. I don't know what Rambam would do about TSBP...

Simple! He would say that it can't happen. Two reliable sources can't
contradict. It would be an illusion caused by misunderstanding the
natural philosophy or the Torah. Keep on studying to find out whether
the proof was bad or the mesorah misunderstood.

:                                                             but I'd
: wager a guess that he'd deal with it the same way he dealt with many
: scientific issues in Gemara: Chazal received their science from study
: not Sinai, and so there's no chiyuv to follow them here, whether on
: medicine or on creation ex-nihilo.

"Science" didn't exist yet. Natural philosophy is unfortunately just
that -- philosophy. Which means the line between what Chazal knew
through study of natural philosophy and what they concluded through
talmud Torah is not easily distinguishable. (Unless they told us.) And
perhaps many conclusions were collusions of postulates both that even
they didn't determine which is which.

: In other words, Rambam is content to disagree with Aristotle on things
: that are totally anti-Torah (G-d didn't create world) and things not
: proven (eternity of matter), but on EVERYTHING else, Rambam assumes
: agreement with Torah and Aristotle, and he will interpret one to agree
: with the other in whatever way is most fitting....

But not reinterpret. IOW, the Rambam would say the interpretation was
there all along; we misunderstood. Such as his shitah that mal'akhim
are only seen in nevu'ah. We all attribute it as a chidush of the
Rambam, but the Rambam himself writes that it's inherent in the shitah
of a tanna.

:>  A PART OF HIM. Exactly. Something that can disappear without the
:> other
:>  PARTS changing. Plurality. A nonessential attribute is a different
:>  piece than the essence. If Hashem can exist with or without Divine
:>  Wrath then you have to ask how the two came together to begin with,
:>  and who created the Creator.

: You seem to consider anger almost a tangible substance. I might wonder
: if this is parallel to the idea of form and matter, or the idea that
: knowledge and information have some concrete existence, etc. I don't
: hold like this. So your objection makes no sense to me - anger is not
: something independent from G-d that He and it come together; anger is
: simply something G-d would be at some point.

It needn't be tangible to be created. It's like the Euthyphro
Dilemma... If Hashem didn't invent morality, then we're implying
Hashem is subject to something rather than First Cause. But if He did
invent morality, then did we imply that His choice of "Do not murder"
had no earlier basis, that it's arbitrary that Hashem could have
equally said "Murder!"? Morality (at least as assumed in this dialog
of Plato's) is something that requires

Concepts also require creation. Unless Hashem made up the notion of
anger, there was no way you could have assumed that state. Anger is
what? Frustration plus a need to find something to blame to create a
third emotion?

No surprise... Could you sing a song that wasn't written yet without
having the ability to write it impromptu? Don't we know that any song
you sing was at some time composed -- even if it was at the time of
singing? That too is a non-substance that requires creating.

The Rambam believes the tautologically true is part of Emes, and of
Hashem's essence. The Ramchal believes that logic is a beryah, and
therefore Hashem can create something we would have considered
paradoxical. But anger? Anger would seem to be a beryah according to

: Agreed - I know I'm on the edge. But what can I do? I hold according
: to what's apparent to me.

You do more than that... You dismiss the other alternatives from
consideration. To my mind, eilu va'eilu requires having two
definitions of "right" -- what I believe, and what I believe is within
eilu va'eilu for someone else to believe.

And beyond that, even what one considers wrong can't be dismissed
without taking into consideration the likelihood it's more likely I
erred than the rishon in question. I can easily believe that X seems
right, but suspend assiming certainty because I can't believe that I
know all the facts / have the right perspective when it would mean R'
ABC (whomever) missed something compelling.

: How about this: if Levi honestly believes that if he speaks lashon
: hara, he will die. Instantly. Don't you agree Levi will be the best
: hilchot lashon hara observer ever? I wager he'll be better than the
: Chofetz Chaim! But the fact remains that his idea that he will die
: instantly, is wrong. 100% wrong. But it still strengthened his
: observance, didn't it?

I fail to see how this has anything to do with our discussion. I'm
talking about a philosophy being a Jewish one if it is consistent with
the Torah and AYH. In the Scholastic era, this means addressing the
questions that were pressing in their time -- discussing things in the
terms raised by the Greeks -- by giving answers drawn from the
mesorah. As I said: Torah's wine poured into Greek bottles.

Whether or not the Rambam is judged to have succeeded at that
challenge or whether he mutilated a square peg by hammering it into a
round hole aside. No one (that I know of) makes similar disclaimers
about the Kuzari, Meqor Chaim (by Ibn Greirol) or Milkhamos Hashem,
which are no less products of the questions of their era.

: Kant I am not learned in. But I know that of Rav Hirsch, Rabbi Elias
: in his perush takes great pains to show that of many/all of Rav
: Hirsch's supposed Kantianisms, a Chazalic parallel serves just as
: well...

Exactly! It's not a Chalazic philosophy vs the rishonim's Scholastic
philosophy vs modern Kantian philosophy. It's casting the Jewish world
view in the terms of the age. Emphasis will change as life and culture
bring different issues to the fore.

: From what I've seen, this rishon didn't hold that G-d actually is
: corporeal, but rather that He can at times inhabit a human body....

You're mistaken. Yad Hashem. Charon Apo. Etc...

: The fact that this rishon, whatever he holds, is so totally minority,
: makes me content to say that 99.9999% would hold that the chumash
: clearly precludes G-d's corporeality....

No, TSBP does. The text explicitly says otherwise. The parallel to
anger is exact. It too is presumed in Tanakh's language, not disputed
by Chazal one way or the other, and left to the rishonim to tell you
it is a turn of phrase not to be taken literally.

But to answer the question in the subject line. Time is a nivra.
Without time, change is meaningless. Change is that the state at t0 is
different than the state at t1. No time, no change.

Emotions make no sense for similar reasons. They are within the one
feeling them. And thus, not a part of His insertion of consequences
into the time stream.

:                              But I know of no one who claims
: the chumash says that G-d has no attributes; this they base on
: philosophy and logic, not explicit textual proofs.

And His purported body as well.

On Tue, February 26, 2008 6:03 pm, Cantor Wolberg wrote:
:      Kant felt that because of man's limitations of reason,
: no one could really know if there is a God and an afterlife, and
: conversely that no one could really know that there was not a God and
: an afterlife.

This snippet was quoted from wikipedia.

However, Kant gives the argument from morality. To wit:

The highest good is where happiness and morality coincide. We are
logically compelled to pursue the highest good, which implies it's
possible to obtain, which in turn implies G-d (Ominiscient, Omnipotent
and Absolute Good) and the afterlife.

: Therefore, he contended for the sake of society and morality,  people
: are reasonably justified in believing in them (God and olam haba),
: even though there was no way to know for sure. In some sense he was
: reflecting free will and suggested hedging one's bets.

It's not really Pascal's wager ("hedging one's bets"). It's more like:
Since he have to be moral beings who pursue happiness, and that's
impossible without positing Hashem and Olam haBa, we must posit them.

One can't prove G-d from first principles, but the Idea of G-d is
pragmatically necessary to make our way.

Kant's world revolved around the notion of duty (as an internal drive,
as opposed to the pre-Enlightment expectation of compulsion), and thus
one could say that to a Kantian, mitzvah implies Mitzaveh. Rather than
the Rambam's more euclidean approach from postulates of matter, form,
motion, division, etc..

More like we are wired to believe in the possibility of morality,
which means we're implicitly wired to believe in G-d. More reflecting
the concept of yeitzer hatov than free will. Yeitzer implies Yotzeir.

A new era in philosophy opened up (although Rihal touches on it when
he writes on "Anokhi H' E-lokekha asher hotzeisikha" as opposed to
"asher bara shamayim va'aretz"). And the questions the acharonim were
called upon to address and the terminology they borrow to address it
shifted as well.

SheTir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             "Man wants to achieve greatness overnight,
micha@aishdas.org        and he wants to sleep well that night too."
http://www.aishdas.org     - Rav Yosef Yozel Horwitz, Alter of Novarodok
Fax: (270) 514-1507

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Message: 8
From: David Riceman <driceman@att.net>
Date: Tue, 04 Mar 2008 19:24:32 -0500
Re: [Avodah] History

hlampel@koshernet.com wrote:
> The Shulchan Aruch simply says that one should not read books about 
> wars on Shabbos. This is because despite the page-turning, 
> can't-put-the-book-down pull that such works have, there is no 
> G-d-directed value in them. In this sense, of course, our teachers 
> held no interest in history-for-history's sake. As the Gemora says, 
> "mai d'hava, hava."
Actually it prohibits it even on weekdays.  For a more lenient view see 
Igroth RAYH I: #149 (pp. 192-197).
> But the context of the statement I was wondering about was the 
> history-related statements made by Chazal which, by definition, 
> interest Chazal and should interest us. But interest them and us in 
> what way[s]? The thesis RMB said is held by numerous rishonim is that 
> the interest Chazal had in them was solely in the lessons to be drawn, 
> and that they were not interested in, and we should not be interested 
> in, whether those statements are meant to depict actual historical 
> occurances.
I would have made a less extreme statement: Hazal weren't interested in 
history as a discipline (there are exceptions; arguably Seder Olam is an 
example of history and not just parshanut).
> In other words, regarding Scriptural historical narratives (putting 
> aside the controversial points), say the events of Yaakov Avinu's 
> life, I hope we agree Chazal and rishonim maintained that they 
> actually occurred, and for that reason those events carry whatever 
> lessons for us they do. The issue is regarding the talmudic and 
> Aggadic narratives: Did numerous rishonim maintain that for all Chazal 
> cared, they did not actually occur? And if so, my question is: which 
> rishonim and where?
I think you'd need someone with encyclopedic tendencies for an 
exhaustive answer.  One example that springs immediately to my mind is 
Rashba Hiddushei Aggadoth Berachoth 54b (it's also cited in Ein Ya'akov 
there).  But that, of course, is an extreme example.
> I don't have Rav Sheilat's edition of the Payrush HaMishnayos. Could I 
> trouble you to present what he says?
There's nothing particularly unusual about that translation.  Here goes 
(my English from RYS's Hebrew from the Rambam's Arabic): "The third 
category is crass speech [hadibbur hama'us], which is speech lacking a 
useful purpose for the human soul, and which neither obeys nor rebels 
(against God), like most popular tales, and descriptions of royal 
courts, and why certain people died, and their wealth.  The sages call 
these "idle chatter", and superior people attempt to avoid them."

This is an accurate description of (pre Ibn Khaldum) medieval historical 
writing: stories without analysis.

David Riceman


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