Avodah Mailing List

Volume 37: Number 85

Wed, 30 Oct 2019

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Marty Bluke
Date: Fri, 25 Oct 2019 06:31:49 +0300
Re: [Avodah] Age of the Universe

These calculations are good for an instant. So he worked it out to get
13.74 billion years. The estimated age of the universe is constantly
changing. As soon as scientists find sone new evidence, etc. and come up
with a new age of the universe his calculation is wrong. Then what?
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Message: 2
From: Micha Berger
Date: Fri, 25 Oct 2019 10:14:20 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Age of the Universe

On Fri, Oct 25, 2019 at 06:31:49AM +0300, Marty Bluke via Avodah wrote:
> These calculations are good for an instant. So he worked it out to get
> 13.74 billion years. The estimated age of the universe is constantly
> changing. As soon as scientists find sone new evidence, etc. and come up
> with a new age of the universe his calculation is wrong. Then what?

This is a problem with concordism in general. Look at how well the Rambam
held up.

However, if you believe there is only one emes, and aren't ready to
simply dismiss or ignore whatever evidence we do have, then you would
feel there is a duty to keep on finding convergence. Not in the tenor
of "science finally caught up to Torah", more "see, the two needn't
contradict; you don't have to choose."


Micha Berger                 When a king dies, his power ends,
http://www.aishdas.org/asp   but when a prophet dies, his influence is just
Author: Widen Your Tent      beginning.
- https://amzn.to/2JRxnDF                  - Soren Kierkegaard

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Message: 3
From: Cantor Wolberg
Date: Sun, 27 Oct 2019 08:14:25 -0400
[Avodah] Noach

 In Parshat Noach, Ch.8 verse 2, the word "vayikalei" (and the rain from
 heaven was restrained) appears only twice in the entire Bible. The only
 other place it occurs is in Parshat Vayakhel where Moses commanded the
 Jews to contribute materials for the building of the Tabernacle. The Jews
 responded with such energy that Moses soon had more than enough material
 and he had to tell the people to cease. (We should be so lucky today). The
 people dutifully complied, as the Torah records: "And the people were
 restrained from bringing" (Exodus 36:6). 
The Baal HaTurim who pointed out the rare occurrence of this word says that
this connection reminds us that when God rains down His blessings, people
increase their level of tzedakah. But when the rain stops, so does their
generosity. (Actually, I would have thought it was just the opposite
because if God did not rain down his blessings, people would be afraid that
they've sinned and therefore would increase their level of tzedakah. But as
soon as the blessings rain down, people in their prosperity forget others
and are less generous. I would tend to think it really depends upon the
person, etc.).

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Message: 4
From: Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer
Date: Sun, 27 Oct 2019 17:06:53 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Age of the Universe

On Oct 23, 2019, 5:43 PM, at 5:43 PM, Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org> wrote:
>The following email exchange serves as a follow-up to discussions we had
>when the list was far younger of R Aryeh Kaplan's article on the Age of
>the Universe.


I don't like the Schroederian take on Evolution, but, regardless, a major discovery.

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Message: 5
From: Rich, Joel
Date: Tue, 29 Oct 2019 23:46:14 +0000
[Avodah] parnassa segula

A caterer recently told me that a segula for parnassa is to wrap leftover
bread separately for disposal. Anyone know the source (I couldn't find it)
although I'm guessing it's based on Chulin 105b (getting rid of even crumbs
directly can cause poverty - at least in certain cases). So should all
bread (food?) be treated like tashmishei mitzvah for disposal? Is bread
different from other foods (and why?) [Is kzayit a dividing line (and

Joel Rich

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Message: 6
From: Micha Berger
Date: Wed, 30 Oct 2019 22:04:56 -0400
Re: [Avodah] 15 Av

On Sun, Sep 22, 2019 at 02:09:16AM -0400, Akiva Miller via Avodah wrote:
>> And further ... if a woman converts for marriage, and the
>> marriage is assur, is there any way to say the conversion was
>> valid? I mean, there are pretty loose definitions of qabbalas
>> ol malkhus Shamayim compared to what a beis din would hope for.
>> But converting for the sake of being able to do an issur???

> These are great questions, and their answers are far above my level. But
> I'll say this: It is not at all unusual to come across a gemara that says,
> "You're not allowed to convert in this manner, but if you did, then it is
> valid." And some of those leniencies raise the exact question that RMB is
> asking, because if the gerus was done is a forbidden manner, where is the
> qabbalas ol malkhus Shamayim?

There is a significant break in the parallel you're proposing.

Someone whose geirus was done wrongly but kosher bedi'eved was converted
by a beis din who did something wrong. It doesn't necessarily disprove
the geir's qabbalas ol mitzvos, because (1) they're relying on people
who are comparatively subject matter experts, not acting on their own;
and (2) they aren't necessarily converting for the sake of being able to
sin. And if (3) it's about wondering about the convert's QOM vs ulterier
motive (like the Rambam's discussion of Shimshon's and Shelomo haMelekh's
wifes), the convert him/herself isn't wondering.

Here, you have someone converting just for the purpose of sinning. It isn't
about the conversion, where the ball or sin is in the beis din't court.

(It doesn't involve any questions of the kashrus of the geirus being
valid by circular or paradoxical reasoning -- the sin doesn't have the
self-reference nature of being in the conversion itself.)

> By the way, where did they find a Beis Din in Moav? Yes, that was a
> rhetorical question, intended to point out that if Rus and Orpah did have a
> valid conversion at the beginning of the story, the procedure must have
> involved some pretty serious leniencies.

Well, if two famous people went to where there was food, out of the whole
Jewish and Israelish peoples, there must have been at least 3 others. That
doesn't surprise me.

> Hmmm... Actually, if Rus converted at the end of the story, that is pretty
> problematic too, because even if there isn't any "conversion for the sake
> of marriage" to worry about, the Beis Din is even more surprising. (Someone
> *might* make a case that two brothers could be a Beis Din for gerus, but
> when Naami and Rus were alone they didn't have any Jewish men around at

Or again, anonymous and unmentioned bit players. Who said they were all
alone on the road? Maybe the road was better traveled than that?

Chodesh Tov!
Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger                 We are great, and our foibles are great,
http://www.aishdas.org/asp   and therefore our troubles are great --
Author: Widen Your Tent      but our consolations will also be great.
- https://amzn.to/2JRxnDF                      - Rabbi AY Kook

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Message: 7
From: Micha Berger
Date: Wed, 30 Oct 2019 22:33:32 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Adam Harishon

On Tue, Oct 22, 2019 at 09:11:18PM -0400, Cantor Wolberg via Avodah wrote:
> In chapter 2, vs.5, Rashi says Adam harishon didn't possess the evil
> inclination until he ate of the tree. If he didn't have the yetzer hara,
> then how was it he ate of the tree? ...

The Rambam (MN 1:1-2) says that until the sin, Adam and Chavah's challenge
was to decide between truth and falsehood. And the snake provided the
falsehood that they fell for.

Potentially along the same lines, R' Dessler says that until the sin
the yeitzer hara was externalized in the form of the nachash. The sin
caused the internalization of desire.

Which also depends on someone who only wants to do Hashem's Will falling
for the arguments of the externalized yh"r.

> In Ch.2, vs.7, Rashi explains: a living soul: Cattle and beasts were also
> called living souls, but this one of man is the most alive of them all,
> because he was additionally given intelligence and speech. So the
> question is if he were given intelligence and SPEECH, that would imply
> the other creatures had no ability to speak. Then how was the nachash
> able to speak and cause them to sin?

First, I think the "ruach memalela" of Unqelus that Rashi is referring
to is not the power to speak, but having an internal monolog. The
ability to "hear" one's thoughts is a critical part of assessing what
one's thinking and a necessary element of free will.

Which would explain why Koko the gorilla's (et al) skill at learning
sign language doesn't pose a question about kinds of soul. (And
could be why they didn't *invent* language.)

Pre-fruit, this world and the olam ha'emes hadn't yet split into two. (R
Kook) So Adam could have encountered the snake in a non-physical way.
The nachash might not even be the physical snake, but the satan who was
riding him (is that the Zohar or only Ben Sira?), or the angel in charge
of snakes.

Chodesh Tov!
Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger                 Here is the test to find whether your mission
http://www.aishdas.org/asp   on Earth is finished:
Author: Widen Your Tent      if you're alive, it isn't.
- https://amzn.to/2JRxnDF                      - Richard Bach

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Message: 8
From: Micha Berger
Date: Wed, 30 Oct 2019 22:13:08 -0400
Re: [Avodah] guessing at history?

On Wed, Sep 25, 2019 at 08:16:45AM +0000, Rich, Joel via Avodah wrote:
> I recently heard a shiur where the presenter described the "bad
> scholarship" of the Torah Tmimah when offering the "misread abbreviation"
> explanation (e.g. v'hazmanim really means fill in the holiday name). I
> thought it a bit unkind since ISTM the guessing about the historical
> circumstances of practices is what poskim do all the time (e.g. why some
> women have a minhag not doing mlacha on rosh chodesh)

I noticed that his father also gets very creative. The difference is,
the Arukh haShulchan's creative sevaros are always to try to figure
out how halakhah as practiced could have emerged from the texts. The TT
doesn't have that limitation.

But saying he was wrong doesn't need to be a value judgment.

For example, his theory that saying "Migdol" in (after?) bentching on
Shabbos and Yom Tov came from someone confusing "B"Sh" for "BeShemu'el B"
with "BeShabbos" is provably wrong. The Avudraham refers to the custom,
and yet predates the Christian publishing of Shemuel in two volumes.

Does that make the TT morally wrong for trying his best? Or intellectually
dishonest when he clearly warns you he is theorizing?

It is not unlike rabbanim who make other historical guess in the fact
that he too gueses. What is different is that most don't have as high
of a miss rate. Which means that you should buy into these theories with
a lot of caution and independent research.

Chodesh Tov!
Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger                 The purely righteous do not complain about evil,
http://www.aishdas.org/asp   but add justice, don't complain about heresy,
Author: Widen Your Tent      but add faith, don't complain about ignorance,
- https://amzn.to/2JRxnDF    but add wisdom.     - R AY Kook, Arpelei Tohar

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Message: 9
From: Micha Berger
Date: Wed, 30 Oct 2019 22:15:16 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Jewish burial practice

On Thu, Oct 10, 2019 at 05:18:40PM -0400, Zev Sero via Avodah wrote:
> As far as I know the old practice was necessary because EY is a rocky
> country and it's hard to dig graves in rock.  In Bavel the practice never
> existed, and in EY it changed when preserving all the arable land for
> farming became less important.

Also, when people were eating al taharas qodesh and otherwise were
keeping all those halakhos seriously, there was a stronger drive
to keep as much of Eretz Yisrael tahor as possible.

In addition to pragmatic reasons to save real estate.

Chodesh Tov!
Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger                 When faced with a decision ask yourself,
http://www.aishdas.org/asp   "How would I decide if it were Ne'ilah now,
Author: Widen Your Tent      at the closing moments of Yom Kippur?"
- https://amzn.to/2JRxnDF                          - Rav Yisrael Salanter

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Message: 10
From: Micha Berger
Date: Wed, 30 Oct 2019 22:20:03 -0400
Re: [Avodah] benefit the deceased ?

On Wed, Oct 16, 2019 at 09:35:53PM +0000, Rich, Joel via Avodah wrote:
> Does an aveil (mourner) who acts as a shatz (prayer leader) benefit the
> deceased if the minyan doesn't appreciate his doing so [he's not mrutzeh
> (e.g. he mispronounces many words, his pace differs from community
> norms...)]

How can it be? It's not like the chiyuv for the amud is really a chiyuv.
Even qaddish is minhag -- and he could say that without taking the amud.

For example, they say that R' Yisrael Salanter held that giving the amud to
the other aveil is a better zekhus for the niftar than taking it yourself.

I think that the main reason why culture so emphasizes this one ritual
for aveilus is because of the number of people for which a year of going
to shul regularly is the start of taking minyan more seriously for the
rest of their lives.
So, if we find other ways to encourage shul attendance (Qaddish is still
an issue), even that motive is addressed.

Chodesh Tov!
Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger                 "The worst thing that can happen to a
http://www.aishdas.org/asp   person is to remain asleep and untamed."
Author: Widen Your Tent             - Rabbi Simcha Zissel Ziv, Alter of Kelm
- https://amzn.to/2JRxnDF


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