Avodah Mailing List

Volume 02 : Number 179

Wednesday, March 3 1999

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Tue, 02 Mar 1999 23:22:14 -0800
From: Ezriel Krumbein <ezsurf@idt.net>
why is reading a book different?

> Date: Sun, 28 Feb 1999 14:02:20 -0600 (CST)
> From: "Shoshanah M. & Yosef G. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu>
> Subject: Re: When should service be paid for?
> On Fri, 26 Feb 1999, Ezriel Krumbein wrote:
> > I don't understand.  Does this mean since I can borrow my father's > > car I do not need to pay Avis rental fees? 
> > 
> Your father lending you his car is really a gift - of gas, 
> depreciation, etc. The reading of a book seems quite different.
I do not see why the reading of a book should be different,2 especially
when unlike Teffilin one is not allowed to borrow a book without

Kol Tov 

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Date: Wed, 3 Mar 1999 13:51:28 +0200 (GMT+0200)
From: Eli Turkel <turkel@math.tau.ac.il>

Subject: dafyomi and history

As long as we are discussing history I have some questions about
recent daf yomis in Yoma and history.

1. How come there are so many disagreements about the order of the
service in the Temple, the arrangement inside the Temple etc.
when the Tannaim lived within 100-150 years after the destruction.

Some disagreements such as whether there was 1 or 2 curtains
before the kadosh hakadoshim I can partly understand as most
people did not enter the Heichal (though the Gemara says that
the curtains were removed on yom tov for the people to see).
Similarly the direction of the Menorah and tables and their
number was also not readily known except to a few kohanim.
There are also many disagreements about the order of the service on 
Yom Kippur. The Gemara (Yoma 58) says that different kohanim 
gedolim had different practices of sprinking the blood on the inner 
alter. It seems hard to extend this to other parts of the service 
since the order is important even bedieved.

However, the outer alter was seen by everyone. How come it is a
major debate exactly where it stood, to the north or south. It
seems to be obvious to any observer.
There is also a debate about the number of steps in total with
R. Eliezer ben Yaakov adding an extra amah. They also debate the
height of the eastern wall to the Temple mount which again is known
to everyone. In fact, I believe, the eastern wall to Har habayit
today is the original Herodian (actually Hasmonean) wall. I assume
we could measure it. The Mount of Olives is much higher than
har habayit and so it would seem that those that burnt the bull in
fact looked over the gate rather than through the gate in
accordance with R. Eliezer ben Yaakov.

2. R. Eliezer ben Yaakov and Chaninah Sgan haKohanim both lived
during the days of the Temple (Chaninah being an active
participant). How can later taanaim disagree with them about facts?
See especially Yoma 16-17 where R. Yehuda disagrees with R. Elizer
ben Yaakov about many details of the Temple.

3. The Gemara already notes that the mishnayot of Tamid and Midot.
Josephus also disagrees with the Mishna in many details. A few 
years ago I would have been derided for quoting Josephus against a 
Mishna. However, recent archaelogy has shown that in most points 
Joesphus was right, eg the number of gates leading into the Temple. 
Instead scholars today present other ways of justifying the Mishna 
rather than dismissing Josephus. I know of at least 3 answers (the 
Mishna discusses only entrances to the "holy part" not the Herodian 
extension, the Mishna discusses another Temple e.g. Hasmonean or a 
supposed Bar Kochba Temple).

In terms of using history to discuss the Temple Artscroll always 
says that there were benches surrounding the Temple area based on 
the translation of Rashi. All modern pictues of the Temple 
(including rabbinic scholars in addition to archaelogists) show the 
Temple mount as having Roman collonades rather than benches. This 
is based on excavations of houses in the old city at the time of 
the Temple. Obviously artscroll prefers Rashi to archaelogical
proof, even though the word stoa is a recognized Latin word.

Any explanations would be greatly appreciated.

kol tuv,
Eli Turkel

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Date: Wed, 03 Mar 1999 14:56:09 +0200
From: Ben Waxman <bwaxman@foxcom.com>

For anyone interested, the OU has a very interesting on-line magazine which
deals with many different issues and questions.  Just to give an example
which is of interest no doubt to many:



Two different view points on extraditiing a Jew from Israel.

Ben Waxman
Technical Writer, Foxcom Ltd.
Telephone:  972 2 589 9822
Fax: 972 2 589 9898

Have you seen Foxcom's Website?

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Date: Wed, 3 Mar 1999 09:12:34 -0500
From: richard_wolpoe@ibi.com
Purim and Secular History

Note:  See the penultimate Possuk in the Megillo for a reference to a secualr 
It seems to say: 
1) Secular histories can be (though do not always have to be) reliable.
2) Secular histories can fill in the blanks for Tanach.
3) Tanach did not see fit to fill in all the in historical details (see melochim
ad passim.)

Rich Wolpoe

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Date: Wed, 3 Mar 1999 10:01:13 -0500
From: richard_wolpoe@ibi.com
Einstein & Avrohom Ovinu

Einstein was mechavein to the idea of a Created Universe that was orderly.

Avrohom Ovinu saw that too, and went beyond and understood a bit of the nature 
of the Creator and how to relate to Him.

In a sense, Both Avrohom and Einstein were mechavein to Ol Malchus shomayim, and
Avraham also to ol Mitzvos...

We trust that our emunoh is correct <smile>. It makes sense that others would be
meachvein to at least some of the same ideas, assuming they are perceptive and 
intellectually honest.

Is there a reason to discount something prima facie simply because the source is
suspect?  Miko Melamdei Hiskalti, virtually anyone can make a good point now and

Rich Wolpoe

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Date: Wed, 3 Mar 1999 11:12:18 -0500
From: Michael.Frankel@dtra.mil
Velikofsky?! II

References to Velikovsky's quackery evidently not being enough to scare off
RYGB (sigh) I may return to this at greater length on another occasion.
Just a quickie reaction for now re his remark that V many years ago fingered
a comet as the reason for killing off dinosaurs (i..e. long before Alvarez
became the current conventional wisdom).  To the best of my memory, V never
said anything like that.  At the most he made generalized assertions
associating ALL species extinctions with the presumed instance of
catastrophic events, but did not suggest either what their nature or
extinction mechanism might be (though he sure was partial to
extra-terrestrial explanations).  In any event his "detailed" discussions of
species extinctions all focus on events of a few thousands of years ago,
e.g. extinction of the mammoth or dire wolf (tens of thousands? - can't
remember what figure they used at the wolf display on my last visit to the
la brea tar pits, I'm a tar pit junkie and try to make it there as often as
possible on my frequent LA pass-throughs - highly recommended), rather than
the dinosaurs and comets did play a role in his catastrophic near history
scenarios. (I also remember that he associated these catastrophic events
with sudden showers of radiation - from where one couldn't say - which
produced lots of mutated DNA which jump started the appearance of new
species).    In any event the insight of Alvarez was first of  all the
recognition of physical evidence pointing to the ~60 million year ago comet
strike (the iridium distribution within the cretacious-tertiary boundary
layer) and the connection to a mechanism to accomplish the global extinction
(lofting dust/smoke above the tropopause to disrupt the annual
photosynthesis cycle).    

Mechy Frankel			michael.frankel@dtra.mil

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Date: Wed, 3 Mar 1999 11:07:09 -0500
From: Michael.Frankel@dtra.mil
Organs (the musical kind) in Shul

As a postscript to a discussion of the relative issur of playing an organ in
shul by a non-jew, it is interesting to note that this is precisely one of
the big three innovations of the Hamburg Temple in the early days of the
German reform movement.   And it was the subject of much rabbinic comment as
part of the public chavos daas protest (collected in eileh divirei habbris)
solicited by the Hamburg bais din in 1819 from their rabbinical colleagues
and intended to impress the Hamburg senate to intervene and close down the
new "sect"s Temple.  In many ways it was the impressive performance of the
Chasam Sofer in responding to this call which catapulted him into the
unquestioned first amongst equals position which he assumed only from then
on.   But the problem of the organ is in fact halachically thorny since it
surprisingly turns out there is significant precedent to specifically
mattir this practice.  There are tishuvos of rishonim which specifically
mattir the nohag of utilizing non-jews to play instrumental music on shabbos
at a seudos choson vichalloh, and the difference between that and what the
Hamburg Temple practiced does not, in a technical sense, immediately jump
out at you.   The responding rabbonim had to deal with this precedent and
they all highlighted the difference between the mitzvos of tifila b'tzibbur
and mesameach choson vichalloh as driving the halachic divergence in pisaq.
But, strange as it may sound today, an immediate slam dunk, in your face
obvious pisul it wasn't, nor was it for another of the innovations,  prayer
in german (after all, there's a bifayrusha mishnoh).  It was only the last
innovation, eliminating parts of tifiloh speaking of the redemption, that
was a no brainer issur. .

Mechy Frankel			michael.frankel@dtra.mil

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Date: Wed, 3 Mar 1999 11:12:34 -0500
From: Michael.Frankel@dtra.mil
Einstein - and the right to call people names

I will make another effort to respond to some of R. Ginsparg comments,
mostly because I think that the implied halochoh he is melameid- that it is
OK to denigrate, even slander those who are kofirim, merits either further
airing and affirmation or clear rejection by those thought to hold this.
Also because he properly protests the propagation of SHEKER.  Let's see if
we can identify some opportunities for its minimization. 

He writes:
<Yet Albert Einstein, A genious yet a kofer,  is defended because of his
genious in his subject area from criticism which is historically true (my
source is the book Fingerprint on the universe--I think page 32).> 
Bilbul haporoshiyos here.  Mah inyon shimitoh eitzel har sinai? Why on earth
raise old AE in this conversation at all, and then do so in a manner not
only inaccurate but falsely pogei'ah to his personal integrity? Yilamdeinu
rabbeinu if there's some special hetter to malshin the non-frum that I'm
unaware of.  On the substance, such as it was, Einstein was being "defended"
from a gratuitous personal smear  stemming from mis-interpretation in a
highly technical area where a layman should rightfully fear to tread. As for
the 'historically true" part, it is not, and here we have our first
opportunity to avoid insisting on sheqer.  the only thing which is true is
that AE modified the original field occasions with addition of the
cosmological constant because he felt they allowed an unphysical solution
for which there was no evidence at all (this was well before the discovery
of the red shift, the 3 deg background, or the cosmic H-He abundance. and i
shall not even touch on the currently practicing, small minority to be sure
yet respectable, academic descendents of Hoyle - such as Narlikar, who
maintain the viability of a steady state cosmos). The unwarranted
interpretational leap which represents this technical judgement as a matter
of "integrity" rather than the fact he was attempting to model a real
physical universe, applying the best of his extraordinary intuition boggles
the mind and betrays ignorance of the relationship of models to reality and
of how real physicists think. As well accuse every theoretician, including
myself, who has, for physical and not mathematical reasons, as a matter of
course "thrown away" the well known advanced solutions for the radiation
field, to be lacking in "integrity"?  I am not familiar with the
"Footprints" book you cite, assume it is something written for the popular
audience, and thus don't know whether its written by a technically
unsophisticated "milaqeit" (my guess). But in either case, if anything of
the like was written or implied there, it is flat out wrong and written by
an author who has a poor grasp on the real nature of the scientific
enterprise. Nuff said.

After having written the above yesterday, by chance I was in our local
bookstore and remembered to look up the cited work. It is indeed written by
someone who is not a professional scientist and does not have a strong grasp
of, at least, the physics material. Just in the course of a leaf-through I
noticed what I'd consider a number of critical errors in his al regel achas
discussions (and this despite the haskomos by two practicing physicists.
BTW an interesting and highly abusive expansion of haskomoh practice.  i
sure hope that such haskomoh infection doesn't spread) I also don't mean to
slam the author - a Mr Pollak - and it may well be both interesting, well
written, and informative to those unfamiliar with the subjects treated, but
some things are just wrong - or confused. I also noticed that he nowhere
characterized AE's mistake in the personally impugning terms you did, though
he did call him stubborn once. 

As long as I got sucked back in on AE I might as well comment a few more
notes.   R. Ginsparg writes: 
<RYGB and RDE have illustrated that there is no problem with the
gedolim/chazal approach to the Zohar and 420 years issue. They have
demonstrated that there is no compelling evidence to interpret facts
different then Chazal.>  
Interesting perspective, and I'm wondering if that is actually what RYGB and
RDE think they did - I thought I remembered RDE at least suggesting the
opposite - that the 420 was problematic, while RYGB simply places his trust,
until proven otherwise, in Chazal -seder olam's - declarations, but of
course they can speak for themselves. In any event I would simply disagree.
I imagine this speaks to how the poster perceives matters of historical
truth to be "demonstrated" (someone he admires, past or present era, said
so?) vs other weightings. RDE was quite close to the truth when he noted in
a separate posting that our gidolim, be they acharonim or rishonim (and
perhaps Chazal? - that it worthy of separate exploration) were simply never
much interested in exhuming historical facts since it wasn't necessarily
that important to the halachic enterprise.  And it is not surprising at all
that they may have gotten some things wrong when they reference such
matters. And it is not denigration of gidolim to notice such instances. I
notice that even the poster is no longer insisting that tos could not
possibly have so misidentified R. Eliezer haqalir.

He writes:
<What really bothers me is that Poeple(who are nothing when compared to
chazal or even achronim) can make derogatory comments about the Avos which
are based on the fanasty p'shat in ones mind, which goes against all
accepted tradition ---yet are defended and even praised for using new
techniques which Chazal didn't know about.>  

Again an irbuv inyonim but also much casual slander, but there is much
sheqer minimization potential here as well.  Is it mi'yusor to note that
nobody but the poster has connected the current conversation with
"derogatory" comments about the Ovos.  Indeed the latter topic was
thoroughly masticated in a previous thread and I had thought (obviously
incorrectly) that it was clear that most participants had al mah lismoch
ligabei approaches to poroshonus and ad hominem slanders against those who
were honestly grappling with the kosuv and ended up following a shitoh not
familiar to, and then rejected by, the poster were clearly out of place, and
that nobody was derogating ovos, but evidently that didn't take.  It is in
any event an ex machina catapulting of a hot button but quite irrelevant
issue into the midst of the discussion at hand. And far from going against
"all accepted tradition" as the poster incorrectly puts it, it was pointed
out at that time that there was indeed precedent for such poroshonus, with
all due caution and care of course, in traditional sources. Now, RYGB for
one forthrightly rejected these miqoros, being in his own perception out of
the mainstream - but at least didn't deny their existence when pointed out.
But the poster, party to those previous interactions, blithely repeats such
inaccurate characterizations as though nothing anybody said, including the
pointing to existing miqoros made any impression on him.   As for "new
techniques" if they really are such, R. Ginsparg seems quite ready to slam
them without knowing anything about them.  Does the application of
independent judgement and critical analytic skills cease when we exit the
shiur?  is that what's being taught in our educational matrices these days?

He writes:
<By the way, since I believe that Reishish Chachma
Yiras Elokim----It does give a right to comment, Al wasn't even a chacham.
With all those brains, he couldn't see HAshem. It must be Purim..>

I'm afraid the claimed connection between yiras eloqim and the right to
comment about factual matters of which one may be personally ignorant
strikes me, along with some other declarative assertions in the recent
postings, as a non-sequitor. 

<I have no desire to discuss this much further because it is clearly a waste
of time.>  I think we may have finally converged to an agreement. I'll drop
it for now.

Mechy Frankel			michael.frankel@dtra.mil

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Date: Wed, 3 Mar 1999 11:12:45 -0500
From: Michael.Frankel@dtra.mil
Validating Literary Analysis

In an earlier posting I had mentioned en passant that <Suffice it to say
that I disagree with the posters and believe that these approaches bear
excellent potential for> illuminating the narrative sections of the torah -
contributing original and
> valuable poroshonus ->

to which D. Eidensohn responded:<It would be appreciated if you explain
exactly what you mean by literary analysis. I was under the impression that
there are a number of varieties..>
fair enough, but it would probably be better to respond within the context
of a specific example - which I'm not up to today, so I will take a rain
check and respond at a later point.
He then remarks: <Of more relevance is Rabbi Bechhoffer unanswered question
- to what degree have any of these techniques been validated in a scientific

I quite frankly do not know how to answer such a question in a way which
won't offend professional practitioners of anything but the hard sciences.
Validation has a certain -quantitative - meaning to me but such concepts are
simply inapplicable to something like biblical exegesis. I'm also kinda
picky about bestowing "scientific" as an adjective to various endeavors.
From where I sit, no modern pishat approach, nor ancient ones for that
matter, is capable of being "scientifically validated" and so, no, these
techniques have not been validated, and never will be - but then neither has
R. Hirsch's peirush or the ramban for that matter. 

Mechy Frankel		michael.frankel@dtra.mil

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Date: Wed, 3 Mar 1999 11:29:11 EST
From: EDTeitz@aol.com
Re: medical information

There is a debate among Poskim what to do about a 8 month old fetus.
The Gemara states that such a fetus cannot live and one does not
violate shabbat to save such a fetus. Modern medecine considers an
8 month fetus as better than a 7th month fetus. 

I know this is not a science journal, but this point does impact on halacha.

My wife was due with our first child around Rosh HaShana, which raised
questions about fasting on Tish'a B'Av.  In discussions with her obstetrician,
he mentioned that fasting can trigger labor.  He cited studies in Israel of
increased birthos on the 11th and 12th of Tishrey.  He said, however, that,
generally, fasting does not trigger labor in the 7th month or earlier.  He did
say that in the 8th month it is dangerous to fast, as the child's lungs are
not fully developed and it is a critical time in their development.  He fully
understands the Orthodox perspective on halacha, and is not one of those
doctors who flatly rejects fasting while pregnant.  He did say, however, that
he would strongly recommend against fasting in the 8th month.

Just a bit of information for those who get asked these sorts of questions to
take into consideration.

Eliyahu Teitz
Jewish Educational Center
Elizabeth, NJ

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Date: Wed, 3 Mar 1999 12:31:23 -0500
From: "Noah Witty" <nwitty@ix.netcom.com>
Onen (rachmana litzlan) on Purim; studying hilchos aveilus

RDE is correct (of course) in his earlier post WRT onen eating meat &
drinking wine on Purim. I thank him for the tasteful correction.

As he stated, the issue is addressed at OC 696:7. It is interesting to note
that BY brings it down as "yesh mi-she-omair." On Tur OC, BY cites Orchos
Chayim. Washing before eating bread is obligatory--though also disputed: see
YD hilchos aninus in Pischei Tshuvah quoting Responsa Chamudei Daniel. The
*bracha* (al ne-tilas yadayyim) should not be recited, but if aninus on
Purim still permits one to consume meat/wine, then seems to me that washing
and benching are part of the package. Still, careful study of the Magen
Avraham at OC 696; s"k 13-16, is necessary, esp WRT issue of whether the
heter of the BY applies at night, i.e. layl Purim.

See M.A. WRT to shma, davening and mikra megilla. *Chayei* Adam takes a
position on megilla reading specifically. I do not own a Kah ha-Chayyim.

Separate but related queries: What is source not to learn hilch. availus
except when needed or on Tish'a B-av (three weeks)? I  recall a pertinent
Chasam Sofer, but do not recall which way he goes.  How can learnig
something cause a bad fate to ch"v befall one?


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Date: Wed, 3 Mar 1999 13:06:21 EST
From: Yzkd@aol.com
Re: lekoved pirim

In a message dated 3/2/99 11:11:15 PM EST, C-Maryles@neiu.edu writes:

> which my father in law borrows from me

In the purin spirit I thought there was a mitzva of Vochalto Shlal... not the
other way around <g>

Tov Lev Mishteh Tomid, Kpshutoi Ukidroshas Razal.

Yitzchok Zirkind

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Date: Wed, 3 Mar 1999 13:32:49 -0500
From: richard_wolpoe@ibi.com
Chachmei Oomos ho'olam

> Even in graduate school there were sources that were considered to be
> more valid than others. Are you asserting that all sources are viewed
> entirely by their content by a mature intellect and that only high
> school students hold that there is a hierarchy of which sources are more
> valid than others? 


Question:  About whom is the borcho shecholok meichochmoso l'vosor vodom 
applicable?  Are all educated Gentiles on the same madreigo?  Please clarify.

Rich Wolpoe

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Date: Wed, 3 Mar 1999 13:23:13 -0600 (CST)
From: "Shoshanah M. & Yosef G. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu>
Re: why is reading a book different?

On Tue, 2 Mar 1999, Ezriel Krumbein wrote:

> I do not see why the reading of a book should be different,2 especially
> when unlike Teffilin one is not allowed to borrow a book without
> permission. 

That is because of the potential for damage - not because of depreciation.
But those rules themselves are not etched in stone. One may borrow a book,
according to a psak I herad long ago b'shem RZN Goldberg - in a BM unless
it specifies elsewise.

> Kol Tov 
> Ezriel


Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer
Cong. Bais Tefila, 3555 W. Peterson Ave., Chicago, IL, 60659
ygb@aishdas.org, http://www.aishdas.org/baistefila

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Date: Wed, 3 Mar 1999 13:30:41 -0600 (CST)
From: "Shoshanah M. & Yosef G. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu>
420 Years

RMF again chides me on the use of Velikofsky, but I stick to my guns! I
read over the material I collected for my shiur on the topic, and am again
able to state without heitation that it is excrutiatingly tedious and
boring! Nevertheless, in brief, the arguments are simple:

1. Chazal are no less viable a source than Herodotus.  2. Herodotus relied
on oral traditions that often conflicted, and sorted them out al da'as
atzmo.  3. The historians have confused vassal kings with bona fide
emperors.  4. The word "Artachshastra" Persian means "king", like "Pharoh"
in Egyptian.  5. There are pesukim in Daniel (and - so far I have had no
response on this - Yechezkel 29-32) that must be deemed flat out wrong
according to the secular dating. 6. The cuneiforms are at best
inconclusive - even Mr. First's example in his letter to JA proves
nothing, based on #4 above. 7. The secular historians themselves have
proven that several of the cuneiforms are forgeries. 8. There is much more
to be said, but I assume these points are adequate for starters!


Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer
Cong. Bais Tefila, 3555 W. Peterson Ave., Chicago, IL, 60659
ygb@aishdas.org, http://www.aishdas.org/baistefila

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Date: Wed, 03 Mar 1999 15:20:52 -0500
From: David Glasner <DGLASNER@FTC.GOV>
Dor Revi'i on "na'aseh v'nishmah"

My friend and co-congregant Shlomo Katz alerted me to Rabbi Lamm's
reference in his new book on Shema to the Dor Revi'i's explanation of the
verse from this week's parasha "aseh lanu elohim asher yeilkhu l'phaneinu ki
zeh Moshe ha-ish lo yadanu meh haya lo."  The explanation is taken from his
book Shivivei Eish which was compiled in honor of his twenty-fifth
anniversary as the Chief Rabbi of Klausenburg by his students from their
recollections of his oral discourses to his Yeshiva.  Since the explanation is
quite remarkable, I thought members of the list might be interested in a quick
and dirty translation.

In the early generations when they walked in darkness instead of light, it was
the rule among all the nations to serve their kings and princes as deities. 
When they saw that these kings and princes possessed knowledge and
wisdom, they thought that they were not like ordinary people and that they
were at least godlike.  And so Hiram, king of Tyre, in his heavenly pride
proclaimed about the seven firmaments that he made in the Sea of Galilee "I
have dwelled in the abode of gods."  And Pharoh said, "The river is mine,
and I have made it."  And so they [the rulers] led the errant people to believe
in them [rulers], because only the rulers possessed any knowledge and
wisdom which they secretly studied in their own tents while denying any
knowledge and wisdom to the people so that the people would dwell in
darkness and the shadow of death and the rulers could do with them as they
wished.  This is not how Moshe Rabbeinu conducted himself with our
forefathers.  For he revealed himself to them as an ordinary person, and he
said to them I am a man not a god.  And he wanted greatly that all Israel
should listen as one to all the words of this Torah on the mountain from the
fire and that they should all learn to know Hashem in order that the whole
congregation should be holy, as it is written "Torah tzivah lanu Moshe
morasha kehilat Ya'akov."  All are equal in it and they should all receive an
equal portion, so that none should be above his brothers and the people
should be like the priests.  And also Hashem commanded them "And you
shall be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation."  And did not Moshe
also say "would that the whole nation of Hashem were prophets."

However, our forefathers in the desert were not wise, for they were a nation
that lost advice ("goi oved eitzot") and they rebelled because they were still
idolators.  And that is why they said "na-aseh" before "nishmah."  And this is
what they meant in saying "make for us gods that will go before us."  For
what they wanted was to appoint a leader who would be godlike, as was true
of all the surrounding nations, who would go before them whom they could
follow blindly.  "For this man, Moshe" who would lead us and who has said
that he is just an ordinary man, "we do not know what happened to him" why
he conducts himself with us as if he were one of us and does not want to
raise himself above us to be a god for us.

Shlomo expressed some surprise that the Dor Revi'i was willing to
interpret the words "na'aseh v'nishmah" in a pejorative way against the
apparently uniformly positive interpretation of those words by Chazal.  Any
comments?  Is anyone aware of any other interpretations of "na'aseh
v'nishmah" that don't conform to the traditional positive one?

As a footnote, I would mention that the Dor Revi'i explained Moshe's
reluctance to accept the mission to go to Egypt to deliver the Jews from
bondage as a reflection of his desire that the Jewish people not be saved
through miracles but through the normal course of events.  Without
rechecking the source (the only one I'm aware of is the oral testimony of one
of his grandsons in his introduction to volume 2 of the Dor Revi'i's responsa),
I believe this desire resulted from his belief that redemption through miracles
would be temporary not permanent.  One might speculate about the
relationship between his interpretations of these two episodes and their
relationship to R. Moshe Shmuel's Zionistic beliefs, but ein kan makom

David Glasner

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Date: Wed, 03 Mar 1999 15:28:51 -0500
From: David Glasner <DGLASNER@FTC.GOV>
Dor Revi'I on vayiten el Moshe k'khaloto l'daber ito

One more explanation from the Dor Revi'i on this week's parasha on the
verse "vayitein el Moshe k'khaloto l'daber ito"

Rashi writes: "k'khaloto is written missing [no vav after the lamed] because
the Torah was given to him as a gift like from the bride ["kalah"] to the
groom.  For he was unable to learn it all within such a short time."  In Nedarim
38b it is said that at first Moshe would learn the Torah and forget it until it was
given to him as a gift as it is written "vayitein el Moshe k'khaloto l'daber ito."

G-d gave us two Torot.  One was the Written Torah that Hashem gave to
Moshe written by the finger of G-d and an Oral Torah that was orally
transmitted from the mouth of Hashem to Moshe.  And the halachot that are
within the Oral Torah are endless.  For it is longer than the land and wider
than the sea, and no man can fully comprehend it.  Even if his head reaches
the heaven his mind will not fully grasp it to be able to enumerate it in detail.
At first Hashem wanted to teach Moshe the entire Torah -- all its laws and
statutes together, none missing, so that it would not be in his power or the
power of the Sages of every generation to innovate anything  ("l'hadesh
davar) except what was received from Sinai.  However, even the mightiest of
the shephards, the master of the prophets, could not bear all this, because
they were too many and he was too weak to carry them on the tablet of his
heart that he should always remember them.  So he kept learning and
forgetting until it was given to him as a gift.  For it was transmitted to him with
its rules, i.e., the thirteen hermeneutic rules, with a few halachot that were
transmitted to him at Sinai.  And according to these rules, he would be able to
derive the Torah and bend it as he wished, whether to bring near or to push
far, as R. Joshua cried when he was arguing with R. Eliezer "we do not listen
to a bat kol" for "it is not in heaven."  Instead it is for us to do with it as a
person does with his own property.  And therefore when the Torah was given
to him as a gift, it was in his power to receive it with the thirteen hermeneutic
rules.  And understand for these are the words of the living G-d.

See also the introduction to Dor Revi'i where this interpretation is repeated
after a similar explanation in the same vein is given of the famous Midrash on
Hashem mi-Sinai ba v'zarach mi-Seir lamo.

David Glasner

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Date: Wed, 3 Mar 1999 16:17:14 -0500
From: Michael.Frankel@dtra.mil
Girsoh references

RChaim brown wrote: <Just to note that the points M. Frenkel makes are
developed at length by R'
Mordechai Breuer in an article on this topic where he proves conclusively
(IMHO) what the girsa is.  Unfortunately, I do not have the article tachas
yadi, but for those interested in doing some library work on the topic, its
out there.- -Chaim>

For those who wish to follow R'Chaim's suggestion the article by R. Breuer
he refers to is entitled "Miqro'os She'ain Lohem Hechrea" (or something like
that, title taken from the talmudic inyon) and appeared originally in
Migodim - can't remember the specific volume.  an even better reference is
an article on the same subject by Jordan penkower which appeared in hardback
-Vol 4 of Iyyunei Something/ (miqroh?) Uforoshonus. and that's frankel with
an A. not that i'm sensitive.

Mechy FrAnkel				michael.frankel@dtra.mil

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Date: Wed, 03 Mar 1999 18:25:37 -0500
From: David Glasner <DGLASNER@FTC.GOV>
science and history

Recent postings on historical methodology and the reliability of conflicting
opinions prompt a few philosophical observations.

First, I don't think that there is any philosophical basis for distinguishing
between the methods of history and the methods of science, or for that
matter, the methods of literary analysis and the methods of science.  Every
learned discipline involves participants in a conversation in which arguments
are made on behalf of potential explanations (hypotheses) for some problem. 
The arguments are then evaluated in the light of a variety of factors.  The
only distinguishing feature of scientific disciplines is that in those disciplines
the most compelling evidence for or against an argument is whether that
argument is consistent with empirical (preferably observable) facts.  In hard
sciences like physics arguments can frequently be resolved by an appeal to
observable facts while in soft sciences like economics arguments can be
resolved by an appeal to observable facts only infrequently, if ever.  But even
in the hardest of sciences it is always possible to dispute facts and to argue
that the facts are not what they seem, have been mismeasured, or
misinterpreted.  This is especially true because facts themselves have
meaning only when interpreted in light of some theory, so that advocates of
different theories may not be able to agree on what the facts really are.

I therefore doubt very seriously that it makes any sense to appeal to some
sort of validated scientific method that can establish the truth of certain
propositions even in the face of contrary statements by or opinions of Chazal
while rejecting the unvalidated historical method that cannot overcome the
presumption in favor of the accuracy of Chazal's representations about
historical events.  There is no difference in kind, only in degree.  There is
overwhelming evidence that Chazal were wrong about a number of factual
propositions, such as the viability of an eight-month fetus, planetary motion
and astrology, and spontaneous generation to name just a few.  There is also
evidence that Chazal were wrong about historical events and chronologies. 
The evidence cannot be rejected based on some a priori distinction between
scientific and historical methodology, but only by a careful weighing of the
evidence pro and con.  The same applies to a literary analysis of the
authorship of the Zohar and other sacred books.  Now if one wishes one may
reject any scientific or other compelling arguments based on a dogmatic
belief.  It is even possible that people who do so will, in some instances, turn
out to have been right.  Indeed, the advancement of science sometimes
depends on scientists who maintain a dogmatic belief in the truth of their own
theories in the face of apparently strong arguments against them.  But how
long to cling to a dogmatic belief in the face of conflicting arguments and
evidence is a decision that each person must make for himself in light of his
own attachment to his dogmatic beliefs and the weight of contrary evidence.

Similarly, the source of a theory carries no philosophical or methodological
weight in an evaluation of its truthfulness.  An argument or an explanation or
a theory exists independently of its creator and must be evaluated
independently.  Attacking a theory based on its pedigree is a rhetorical rather
than a methodological strategy.  However, insofar as a particular explanation
is part of a larger schema that has been discredited by the available
evidence, there may well be reason to be skeptical of that particular
explanation even if it has not been specifically disproved.  How this
observation fits into the debate about Velikovsky, I leave to others, if they
wish, to sort out.  

Finally, I would make the following observation in considering the reliability of
historical observations emanating from certain sources. Assessing the
reliability of any source of historical information is always problematic.  One
criterion for assessing that reliability is the integrity and trustworthiness of the
source.  It is undeniable that not all historical sources are entirely trustworthy
and that a major task for any historian is to assess the comparative
trustworthiness of conflicting or contradictory sources.  Now I hate to say this,
but I have been frequently struck by the definition of truth, excuse me emes,
under which many of our co-religionists operate.  One would think that the
definition of truth would be fairly obvious and non-controversial.  Truth is
simply correspondence to the facts.  A statement is true if and only if it
corresponds to the facts.  The facts are what they are, so there is only one
truth.  (Of course, as I mentioned above, there may be and often is some
ambiguity in the interpretation of the facts.  But this ambiguity is rarely relevant
to most straightforward questions about historical facts.)  One would think
that the definition of truth is obvious, but one would be wrong.  Because, in
fact, truth, excuse me, emes, is not correspondence with the facts, but the
Ratzon Hashem.  There's just one problem.  The facts are what they are and
can be independtly ascertained.  But the Ratzon Hashem cannot be
independently ascertained.  It must be inferred, or better yet, communicated
to us by someone who has unique access to that very priveleged information.
 So whenever I read an historical account derived from someone who is
operating with a definition of truth, excuse me, emes, as Ratzon Hashem, I
start to reach for my wallet.  Now some may accuse me of slandering the
faithful.  However, the recent record of obvious historical distortions
emanating from the camp of the faithful is, alas, too well known to require
further documentation, though if I had to, I could myself provide a few
interesting tidbits from the history of Klausenburg and environs.

David Glasner

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