Avodah Mailing List

Volume 28: Number 203

Mon, 10 Oct 2011

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Daniel Eidensohn <yadmo...@gmail.com>
Date: Sun, 09 Oct 2011 19:56:24 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Malachim & mistakes

On 10/9/2011 3:28 PM, Zev Sero wrote:
> On 7/10/2011 12:11 PM, Prof. Levine wrote:
>> There is an attitude that one often hears today, "Everything is in 
>> the Torah."  When I hear someone say this, I ask, "Where do you find 
>> the Pythagorean Theorem in the Torah?"  This is always met with silence.
>> We are told that there is Chochma amongst the gentiles, but they do 
>> not have Torah.  If so, then Chochma, it seems to me, is not Torah 
>> and hence not in the Torah.  Therefore, it seems to me that 
>> everything is not to be found in the Torah.  YL
> "Istakel be'oraisa uvera alma".  Therefore everything in the world must
> be in the Torah.
I once asked this question to Rabbi Freifeld - he responded, "Everything 
is in the Torah but there is no one today who can find everything in it."

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Message: 2
From: "Moshe Y. Gluck" <mgl...@gmail.com>
Date: Sun, 9 Oct 2011 22:27:50 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Yurt for a Sukkah

R'n SLB:
A friend is going to be taking a course during Sukkot. The dwellings there
are a dome and a yurt (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yurt).

They asked if they could use the yurt for a Sukkah, and if not - what would
they have to do to make it kosher?

yurt anymore! I'm no expert, but after reading the wikipedia article, it
seems that they would have to - at minimum - remove the roof (which seems to
be one big piece of felt, which also covers the walls), which would reduce
its structural integrity, and replace it with Schach. But it would also
depend on how the particular yurt is constructed, something which there
seems to be quite a few variations on. They could also remove part of the
roof, enough so that there is 7 x 7 square of tefachim enclosed by walls,
but then they'd have to worry about Dofen Akumah. Might be best if they just
bring their own sukkah along...


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Message: 3
From: "Moshe Y. Gluck" <mgl...@gmail.com>
Date: Sun, 9 Oct 2011 22:31:11 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Some thoughts on a recent book "Knocking on

R' Joel Rich (in middle of a long exposition): Maimonides is famous for
saying that he believes in creation ex-nihilo but should science prove that
this was not the case, he would reinterpret scripture to be consistent with
the scientific evidence (i.e., there is only one truth and reason and
revelation will converge to it).


Where did Maimonides say this?




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Message: 4
From: Joseph Kaplan <jkap...@tenzerlunin.com>
Date: Sun, 9 Oct 2011 22:18:22 -0400
[Avodah] Malachim & mistakes

""Istakel be'oraisa uvera alma".  Therefore everything in the world must
be in the Torah."

But that just raises the question of what "oraita"/"Torah" means in that
context.  Did God look in a chumash, Tanach, mishana, Talmud, Rishonim,
achronim, Tradition, Avodah....?  Or is some metaphor being employed here?
I think a similar question can be asked about the statement "everything is
found in the Torah."  I therefore think that taking either of these
statements literally misses their point.

Joseph Kaplan

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Message: 5
From: Meir Rabi <meir...@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 10 Oct 2011 13:04:17 +1100
[Avodah] what do Malachim know and what do Torah Sages know?

Of course the universe is created for Torah and the Jews, so EVERYTHING in
the WWW (Whole Wide World) serves this purpose and therefore EVERYTHING is
in the Torah.

Does that mean that Malachim know it all?
Does that mean that Torah Sages know it all?
Did those TS who were in their times, engaged in socially acceptable habits,
know that such habits were unhealthy?
The fellow who famously spent RH night in the cemetery and overheard the
gossip of the recently departed young ladies about the forthcoming weather
conditions and who accordingly planted his crop successfully whereas all the
other locals timed it wrong and lost their crops; where the LOR aware of
these portents for the future but decided they should not mix in?

Probably yes; it just depends on your point of View. We have mostly made up
our minds in advance and are usually just going through the motions:
cheering for our team and supporting our flag. And rendering translations
and interpretations that reinforce our perspective and trashing (with
dignity and sometimes only in the privacy of our own mind) the other

But I am sure that all this is built into the Torah. As Gd created us He too
created the T with the intention of it embracing all these perspectives.

So where do we draw the line? But that too is built into the T.


Meir G. Rabi
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Message: 6
From: Meir Rabi <meir...@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 10 Oct 2011 12:42:07 +1100
[Avodah] When Was The World Created - When do we say Birchas

So, if the world is created on RH or on RCh Nissan, why is the timing of
Bichas HaChama, apparently not synchronised with this benchmark?

I am sure this has been addressed before - but I have not found it


Meir G. Rabi
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Message: 7
From: T6...@aol.com
Date: Mon, 10 Oct 2011 02:55:19 EDT
Re: [Avodah] Some thoughts on a recent book "Knocking on

From:  "Rich, Joel" <JR...@sibson.com>
Subject: [Avodah] Some thoughts  on a recent book "Knocking on Heaven's
Door: How Physics and  Scientific Thinking Illuminate the Universe and
the Modern  World" by Lisa Randall

>>I  sent the email below to the author after seeing her interviewed on TV 
(see  second review here: 
comment-42399)   . Am interested in any discussion, other 
than about my run on sentences  (be nice-it's still not yet hoshana rabbah 
Joel  Rich
Dear Dr. Randall:
I finished part one of  "Knocking on Heaven's Door," which I believe has 
the material  on religion that you referenced.


I  wanted to put a few thoughts on paper, perhaps inarticulately, to give 
you  some sense of my reaction. ....

On  page 56, you discussed external (e.g. God) influences that would have 
to be  transmitted by a mechanism. [snip]
However, there are those rationalists who believe that  science and 
religion do not conflict  [snip]


Why couldn't the creator of the universe  create the universe in such a way 
that the scientific rules you study are  the rules the creator embedded in 
the universe?

I'd also point out that Rabbi J.B. Soloveitchik understood  Genesis 1:28 
("and subdue it") as a religious requirement to harness the  forces of nature 
for the betterment of all  mankind.

Keep  up the good work!
Joel  Rich

Keep up what good work?  The work of famous atheist writers like  Hitchens 
and Dawkins?
The Torah (in itself, and as mediated through Judaism's daughter religions) 
 underlies all of modern science.  Without the Bible, there would never 
have  been western civilization, there would never have been an idea of a 
knowable  universe with predictable rules and so on.  In a way, what  you quote  
in the name of RYBS highlights this fact.  The Torah pointed humanity  on 
the road to modern scientific discovery.
HOWEVER, it is a fool's mission to try to persuade someone like Lisa  
Randall of this.  
You asked her, 

"Why couldn't the creator of the universe  create the universe in such a 
way that the scientific rules you study are the  rules the creator embedded in 
the universe?"

She is too arrogant and too enmeshed in the ideology  of "scientism" to 
even give a moment's consideration to such a  possibility. 

I went to the hirhurim link you provided and from there to her  interview 
with Charlie Rose    
She is unquestionably a genius in her field -- physics.  In the  interview 
she talks about particle physics and cosmology, fascinating  stuff.  She's 
also an excellent writer and popularizer, a professor who is  well-liked by 
her students and an attractive media personality.
All of that leads her to imagine that she has some kind of special  
knowledge and insight into fields in which she is in fact entirely ignorant:  
theology, politics, history, economics, and scientific fields other than  
physics.  Her authority as a Harvard physicist and writer gives her  standing to 
babble on about things she literally knows nothing about.
In the Oct 3 issue of TIME magazine she has a full page article which is  
enough to tell you that any book she has written about the interface between  
science and religion is not worth reading.  She imagines that science has  
somehow proven that there is no G-d.  She's like that famous 19th century  
French scientist Laplace, who, when asked by Napoleon why his book about the  
universe contained no mention of G-d, replied, "I have no need of that  
In her article she makes fun of one of the current Republican presidential  
candidates because he prayed for rain when his state faced a terrible 
series of  wildfires.  She says snidely that by praying, "he is displaying the 
danger  of replacing rational approaches with religion."  In other words, in 
her  book, if you pray, you are not rational and you are anti-science.  I 
don't  care if you are a Democrat or a Republican, but can any Orthodox Jew 
maintain  that a person who prays is not rational -- and ipso facto unworthy of 
holding  public office?
She talks about those who believe in divine creation (even if they  also 
believe in evolution and "billions of years") as if such a belief is  
synonymous with a war on science, and then she also makes such accusations  against 
anyone who would cast doubt on the current liberal avodah zarah of  global 
warming.  But she is not a paleontologist or an archaeologist, she  is not a 
climatologist, she knows no more about these subjects than the average  
well-read layman.  Whence comes her certainty that the world could not have  had 
a Creator?  Not from anything she has studied in science.  It's  her BELIEF 
system.  In fact in that Charlie Rose interview, she laughingly  admits 
(about her own field of expertise, particle physics) that there is a lot  that 
scientists still don't know and a lot of  "fudging" -- her word.
She concludes her TIME article by saying that in matters of public policy  
--"in the economy, in the environment, in our health and well-being" -- 
rational  thought and science are needed more than ever.   And adds that "the  
Obama Administration has made basic science a focal point after years of  
antiscientific policies by the Bush Administration."  Avodah is not the  place 
to show that this is the exact OPPOSITE of the truth, but this should be  
enough for an intelligent and well-informed person to know that this Lisa  
Randall is just one of that "herd of independent thinkers" in the Ivy League  
that William F. Buckley derided  -- the people who all think and talk  
exactly alike and pride themselves on their intellectual independence.
Anyone who is religious and who tries to engage her in correspondence is  
only going to elicit from her a condescending, patronizing smirk.  This is  
the woman who said, ?The scientists I know don't believe in an  afterlife but 
there actually are religious scientists?.which I always find  very 
She is very interesting when she talks about the scientific work she  does 
and totally stupid and useless when she talks about religion.  You  have to 
distinguish between genuine science -- the arena of mathematics,  
observation and experiment -- and "scientism" -- the religion that exalts man  and 
denies G-d, assuming a mantle of unearned authority because of the prestige  in 
which genuine scientists are rightly held.

Quoting Rav Soloveitchik to such a person will not increase the prestige of 
 Torah in her eyes, but will cause him to be denigrated in her  eyes, just 
another religious crank.  Just another rabbi she never  heard of.  She 
doesn't need rabbis.  She is just so, so  smart.  
 We religious Jews do not need to be overly impressed and we certainly  
don't need to be intimidated.  There are religious Jews who, unlike Lisa  
Randall, actually know science AND Torah.   Oh and political science  and history 
and economics, too.
Anything this woman has to say about religion is not worth the grass she  
tramples under her feet as she strides across Harvard Yard in all her  
pompous arrogance and ignorance.


--Toby  Katz


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Message: 8
From: "Rich, Joel" <JR...@sibson.com>
Date: Mon, 10 Oct 2011 05:41:43 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Some thoughts on a recent book "Knocking on

R' Joel Rich (in middle of a long exposition): Maimonides is famous for
saying that he believes in creation ex-nihilo but should science prove that
this was not the case, he would reinterpret scripture to be consistent with
the scientific evidence (i.e., there is only one truth and reason and
revelation will converge to it).

moreh nevuchim 2:25
Joel Rich
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Message: 9
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Mon, 10 Oct 2011 06:17:03 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Some thoughts on a recent book "Knocking on

On Mon, Oct 10, 2011 at 05:41:43AM -0400, Rich, R Joel continued an
exchange with RMYG:
:> R' Joel Rich (in middle of a long exposition): Maimonides is famous
:> for saying that he believes in creation ex-nihilo but should science
:> prove that this was not the case, he would reinterpret scripture to be
:> consistent with the scientific evidence (i.e., there is only one truth
:> and reason and revelation will converge to it).

:> Where did Maimonides say this?

: moreh nevuchim 2:25

Except that the Rambam says it in a "if my grandmother had wheels she
would be a trolly" sense.

In 2:25 the Rambam explains the difference between taking pesuqim as
anthropomorphication, and taking the fact of creation (if not the details
in the chumash) literally. He mentions that the text itself admits such
allegoriation, but there are two reasons one wouldn't:

1- Aristotle doesn't prove his point. His arguments on the eternity
of matter (a) assume the laws of physics cannot be violated even by
G-d, disallowing miracles of all sorts and (b) that the world in its
"gestation" would be similar to the world after it was made. Neither
are true.

2- It would defy all of Torah (particularly because of 1a).

The Rambam holds there is only one truth, not reparate
revalatory/religious and philosophical truths. Therefore, a contradiction
of the sort RJR speaks of is impossible. The Rambam's (2) means he didn't
seriously consider the hypothetical of needing to reinterpret scripture
to be possible.

R' Dr Shinnar and I have argued whether (2) is specifically something
that overturns the entire Torah (RMS) or anything that would defy TSBK
as understood by TSBP. I required bringing in other sources to prove the
latter. But that's off topic here, since we're talking about the same
case the Rambam did. (Whereas RMS and I were arguing about the mabul.)

Summation: the Rambam says such a retranslation is possible, but denies
that the situation could possibly come up. Since maaseh bereishis is
essential to Yahadus, there cannot ever be a good proof against it.

BTW, while the Rambam denies Aristotilian qadmus, his positrion on
Platonic qadmus is less clear. He might hold of it, or (more likely
IMHO) believe it's a wrong but permissable belief.

Aristo: the universe always existed because what we today call the
law of Conservation of Matter doesn't allow for new matter to come
out of nowhere. Matter changed forms, but never increases or
decreases, so he concludes it must always have been.

Plato: G-d causes the rest of existence. Since G-d always was, the
universe always had a cause, and must therefore always have been.
If having a universe is a good idea now, there was nothing to
keep it from being a good idea an arbitrarily long time ago.

This makes Hashem the Creator in the sense of causing the universe,
but doesn't give maaseh bereishis a moment (or week) in time. Recall
from other discussions that in MN 2:30 the Rambam says the 6 "days"
of creation are causal steps, not in time. IMHO, ch 30 says that MB
is in time, but took a single moment. But some do argue, including
rishonim, that the Rambam meant something more platonic.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             One who kills his inclination is as though he
mi...@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: 10
From: Saul.Z.New...@kp.org
Date: Sun, 9 Oct 2011 21:38:13 -0700
[Avodah] fasting/tfila/tshuva

it is clear that the chiyuv of YK is such that given the ability to either 
pray or fast [ ie one will eg be reduced to spending the fast laying in 
bed], one must fast. 
while clearly this is the chiyuv hayom,  what has the individual 
accomplished when he has spent  the time conceivably incoherent, neither 
confessing his sins , nor  inspired to tshuva. is somehow the koach of 
this inui nefesh a replacement for tshuva? 

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Message: 11
From: "kennethgmil...@juno.com" <kennethgmil...@juno.com>
Date: Mon, 10 Oct 2011 06:52:49 GMT
Re: [Avodah] losing 'nishba' status

R' Daniel Eidensohn quoted Igros Moshe Even HaEzer 1:82 (pp 215-216):

> Nevertheless as long as they haven't repented and remain in 
> their mistaken ways they are not superior in general to non-Jews
> since we see that heretics are considered to have left the Jewish
> people since they are not observing the Jewish religion. Therefore
> as long as they continue their mistaken understanding and behavior
> they are not included in the Jewish people.

This logic applies to a Jew who has chosen to consider himself a non-Jew. I
do not see how it would apply to a Jew who continues to consider himself as
part of the Jewish people, but simply does not understand the concept of
being obligated to do the mitzvos.

> Therefore even if you consider them to be tinok shenishba
> amongst the non-Jews because of the heresy which has become
> widespread in the world -- G-d save us -- and they are just
> being influenced by their environment- nevertheless they are
> invalid witnesses because they are not better than non-Jews.

This does not bother me at all. In order to be a valid witness, it is not
sufficient that one happens to be Jewish; he must also be trustworthy, and
I have no problem with allowing this presumption for a G-d-fearing Shomer
Mitzvos, and denying it for someone who is not G-d-fearing.

> In fact, however it is reasonable to say that these children of
> heretics are not considered in the category of tinok shenishba
> amongst the non-Jews since they live in places where religiously
> observant Jews are found and also because their ancestors believed
> in G-d and His Torah and they were influenced to follow in the
> mistaken ways of their parents.

With all due respect to Rav Moshe and RDE, this is an assertion, not an
explanation. Just because one's "ancestors believed in G-d and His Torah",
why should that affect whether or not the descendant is a Tinok sheNishba?
In fact, even in the classical case of a baby who was actually captured by
non-Jews, isn't it true that his "ancestors believed in G-d and His Torah"
as well?

> In fact they had the option of following in the influence of
> the religiously observant and their ancestors and a son is more
> influenced by his ancestors. If so they are in effect freely
> choosing the bad path and they through their evil thoughts are
> caught up in evil and they have misled themselves.

This is really the crux of it all. How can this possibly be a "free choice", when one side never got a fair hearing?

Imagine the following court case: Side A can tell the judge whatever he
wants. Side B can say nothing directly to the judge; if the judge hears
anything of Side B's arguments at all, it will be censored and filtered and
presented by Side A. Would anyone consider this fair?

"They have misled themselves" -- This is a valid translation. (It's the
last three words on pg 215: "V'havi to'eh atzmo.") But I do not understand
how he can say this. It is NOT they themselves who did the misleading, as I
see it. It is parents and the society who did the misleading.

> And I saw in the Rambam (Hilchos Mamrim 3:3) that he writes, "And
> what is our case that the person is considered a full heretic and
> should be killed? It is a person who follows after his lightheaded
> thoughts and after the desires of his heart and denies the Oral
> Torah just as Tzadok and Baysos did first and similarly all those
> who mistakenly followed after them."

But the people we are talking about did NOT deny the Oral Torah. They couldn't! They never heard of it!

> Thus we see that even those who mistakenly followed after Tzadok
> and Baysos even though they themselves were not heretics. However
> after they were captured by the words of Tzadok and Baysos and
> followed after them and did not follow after the good observant
> Jews - they are considered as those who initiated heresy. The
> reason is simple because they also saw righteous and observant
> people and they were able to follow after them and nevertheless
> they went after the wicked and therefore they are considered as
> having deliberately sinned.

I'm sorry that I cannot comment on this, because I'm not sufficiently
familiar with the stories of Tzadok and Baysos. (Although I am smart enough
to figure out that this is where we get the terms Tziduki and Baitusi

> Thus is it with our present case. These people also see righteous
> and observant people and they are able to follow after them.
> Nevertheless they are caught to go after the wicked and are thus
> intentional sinners and are like those who initially denied the
> Torah and therefore they are included amongst those who should be
> lowered into a pit and not rescued and are therefore worse than
> non-Jews and they are invalid as witnesses as I have explained.

Just because they are ABLE to follow after the righteous and observant Jews, how does that turn them into intentional sinners?

If I see a righteous person from a non-Jewish religion, does that obligate
me to investigate his religion? No? Then why should I be obligated to do so
if he is from a Jewish religion, but one which is of a different sort than

Akiva Miller

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