Avodah Mailing List

Volume 08 : Number 048

Thursday, November 15 2001

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Wed, 14 Nov 2001 16:16:46 -0500
From: "Yosef Gavriel and Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu>
RE:Herzl and zt"l

At 11:18 AM 11/14/01 -0500, Shinnar, Meir wrote:
>I had suggested that because Herzl did an act of trascendent goodness
>(trying to save millions of am yisrael), he could be classified as a
>tzaddik, in spite of his utter lack of personal observance. This clearly
>pushed some emotional buttons. However, I still find RYGB's answers
>strange, as rather than being a reductio ad absurdum, they are absurd
>as applied.


>To refute my position, he cites cases where individuals do great evil,
>and the question is whether some attendant good to the evil that they
>do excuses the evil. To wit, in some logical order
>1) Baruch Goldstein and Osama - do evil in the name of doing good
>(?how relevant)
>2) Pnina and Satan - do evil hoping that good will come out of it (again,
>not relevant)
>3) Finally, and most controversially, Haman and (a real stretch) Hitler
>- have no intention of doing good, intend purely to do evil, but some
>unintended good arises
>These cases are in no way related to my position - over someone who
>intentionally does great good - not someone who does evil to which there
>may be some positive aspect, unless RYGB wishes to posit that Zionism
>itself was a great evil, with which I would take isue. I never claimed
>that merely because there is some inherent good, it justifies the action.

Excuse me, please, let me spell it out. I am amazed that you do not see
the equation:

#1, we agree, teaches us that individuals are not necessarily tzaddikim
even if they have good intentions (we are, of course, not at all sure
that Herzl did have "good" intentions.)

#2, we agree, teaches us that even when we know the individual has "good"
intentions the deed - even if has positive ramifications! - does not
make a person a tzaddik - if those ramifications are a byproduct of a
faulty deed.

#3, we agree, teaches us that generating good does not equal generation
of tzaddik status.

Herzl may have precipitated good, but we know nothing of any lishma on
his part, nothing about whether the positive ramifications are direct
results or the byproducts of a faulty deed, and we know that generating
good does not bestow tzaddik status.

>(By the way, RYGB's argument does relate to a related issue - how do we
>judge those who told people to stay behind in Europe or opposed Zionism,
>which might have led to a political haven. clearly, like Baruch and Osama,
>they meant it leshem shamayim, but great evil resulted, although I doubt
>RYGB would want to proceed with this argument)

Indeed, I do - because I believe that *you* have a position on this
matter, as well, that normative Orthodox Jewish thught should regard
as untenable.

>Micha argues a different argument (which I think is at the heart of
>RYGB's objection too) - that the term zaddik needs to be reserved, and
>that Herzl's personal foibles and lack of personal observance make him
>unsuitable I wonder the textual basis for this, although I understand
>the emotional basis.

You need texts?!

You do not know that a tzaddik is one who fights his yetzer ho'ra and 
overcomes it?!

>First, the citation from the Dor Revii by R David Glasner would suggest
>that this appreciation of Herzl is not quite so outre as RMB and RYGB
>would think, and that an editorial board might need to take greater care
>before "explaining why they are not acceptable normative positions for
>The Aishdas Society." (in RYGB's phrase)( I would add that I did not
>invent the reference to Herzl by zt"l, although I could not find last
>night my sources - od hazon lemoed.)

Check into the writings of R' Dovid Ben Gurion zt"l ;-) (Sorry, could not 

>However, it goes to a different issue - the very notion of a zaddik.
>RMB brings as the paradigmatic zaddik R Aryeh Levin (with which I
>wholeheartedly agree), and says that Herzl can not be placed in the same
>madrega.... Clearly, Herzl reflects very different spiritual values
>and accomplishments than R Aryeh. However, that does not mean that the
>term zaddik is necessarily limited to that represented by R Aryeh. In
>the hesped of Herzl by RAYK, he raises the issue of two separate streams
>necessary - the national/material redemption and the purely spiritual one,
>and that mashiach ben yosef represents the national/material aspect which
>is necessary. There are zaddikim elyonim who incorporate both aspects, but
>most people only can incorporate one....

There is no precedent in the entirety of Torah for the application of the 
term "tzaddik" to non-observers (I do not even know if Herzl was a ma'amin, 
but we do not have to go that far).

The application is even more preposterous when we recall the adoption of 
the infamous '"davar ein la'tziyonut im ha'dat" clause under Herzl's auspices.

>What makes this whole discussion far more vexing, is that while one might
>choose to reserve the term zaddik for pure zaddikim such as R Aryeh levin,
>the whole notion of zt"l has been cheapened by popular use to apply to
>almost any religious functionary. As such, the recognition of the positive
>aspects of Herzl's accomplishments would seem far less controversial.

And, so, rather than work to limit its use, you expand it to questionable 
applications. Hmm...

>Lastly, we do have the notion that one particular action can redeem an
>individual - koneh olamo bsha'a echat. Furthermore, when we have the
>discussion of those martyred al kiddush hashem, we refer to them as
>kdoshim without investigating their whole lifestyle or indeed, if the
>martyrdom was purely leshem shamayim or forced upon them. While one can
>find differences, still, it seems that the hypersensitivity displayed
>is misplaced.

In your judgment. Not mine. I do not see it as hypersensitivity at all. I 
see it as pursuit of Amittah shel Torah.

Kol Tuv,
ygb@aishdas.org      http://www.aishdas.org/rygb

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Date: Wed, 14 Nov 2001 16:11:58 -0500
From: Stuart Klagsbrun <SKlagsbrun@agtnet.com>
RE: Herzl not zt"l

On Wednesday, November 14, 2001 3:49 PM, Yosef Gavriel and Shoshanah
M. Bechhofer <sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu> wrote:
> I am startled.
> Did you see the term "tzaddik" in that remark by the DR?!

Irrelevant to my point. You are still trying to assert that you understand the DR better than someone else who took it at face value. 



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Date: Wed, 14 Nov 2001 22:38 +0200
Re: astronomy in the Jewish / religious community

When we learned Rosh Hashana in daf yomi, we all bought a small paperback
book (60 pp) called KUNTRES DI SHMAYA (written by R. Alexander Shotz from
Kiryat Sefer) on astronony for dummies :-) The sefer has haskamot from
Rav Shmuel Auerbach, Rav Zilber and others and comes with very valuable
diagrams and explantions.


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Date: Wed, 14 Nov 2001 16:57:28 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Herzl zt"l

On Wed, Nov 14, 2001 at 09:53:23AM -0500, Joelirich@aol.com wrote:
: Question-does anyone have mekorot defining in more detail tzaddikim
: and yesharim?

What about the quote from Emunos veDeios that I went on and on about
last Av?

R Saadia Gaon defines a yashar as one who sees the underlying truth.
Which is why he is samei'ach. And if he percieves it suddenly, he
may be moved to tzechoq.


Micha Berger                 "The most prevalent illness of our generation is
micha@aishdas.org            excessive anxiety....  Emunah decreases anxiety:
http://www.aishdas.org       'The Almighty is my source of salvation;  I will
Fax: (413) 403-9905          trust and not be afraid.'" (Isa 12) -Shalhevesya

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Date: Wed, 14 Nov 2001 23:17:21 +0100
From: "Markowitz, Chaim" <CMarkowitz@scor.com>
Ikkarim as Halakha?

I have avoided this whole issue but I just thought I'd throw my 2 cents
in. I recently heard a shiur from Rav Meir Stern in which he made the
following points.

1) There is a nafka minah l'halacha over whether someone believes in
the ikkarim or not. As RGS and others have pointed out one of these
nafka mina is l'gabei moridin v'lo maalin.

2) I asked him how we pasken bzman hazeh in regards to what is an ikkar
and he said although he is not a poseik he feels that it is clear from
the siddur (yigdal) that we pasken like the Rambam.

3)Rav Elchanan brings the "famous" statement of Rav Chaim that
"nebech an apikorus is still an apikorus". To this Rav Elchanan asks
several kashes. One is from a gemara in Cheilek in which R' Hillel
felt moshiach came already in the form of Chizkiyahu Hamelech. Acc. to
Rav Chaim, why isn't R' Hillel an apikorus? To this Rav Stern answered
that since R' Hillel was a bar plugtah with the other Amoraim, he had
a right to argue. However, once the halacha was paskened not like R'
Hillel, subsequent generations can't argue. Rav Stern compared this to
any machlokes in halacha. We only go basar rov (Yachid V'Rabim halacha
K'rabim) if one doesn't know what the halacha is, but the yachid himself
doesn't have to go basar rov since he is a bar plugtah.

L'chorah this line of reasoning should apply to any rishon who argues on
the Rambam. Since they are a bar plugtah with the Rambam they could argue.
However, if one would assume that we pasken like the Rambam then one
would be an apikorus if one doesn't believe in any of the 13 Ikkarim.

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Date: Wed, 14 Nov 2001 17:29:03 -0500
From: "Kenneth Miller" <kennethgmiller@juno.com>
Re: Ikkarim as Halakha?

R' Avi Kadish asked <<< I'd appreciate it very much if the people who
hold the "ikkarim as part of halakha" position would take the time write
up a careful list of halakhic areas where ikkarim seem to be relevant, >>>

Offhand, my guess is that any situation where a *mere* Mechalel Shabbos
B'farhesya loses his status and privileges of being a Jew, then Kal
Vachomer a heretic loses them in such situations as well. This would

    counting in a minyan
    acceptability of testimony
    touching their wine
    eating their shechita
    using their sta"m
    using their matzos or tzitzis
    cooking for them on yom tov
    using them as a shaliach
    answering amen to them

I'm confident that there are many more. Try the Encyclopedia Talmudit
under "apikores", perhaps.

Akiva Miller

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Date: Wed, 14 Nov 2001 17:01:25 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Herzl zt"l

On Tue, Nov 13, 2001 at 06:06:30PM -0500, David Glasner wrote:
: What the Dor Revi'i said about Herzl was that he hoped that it in the olam
: ha-emet he (the Dor Revi'i) would be worthy of being Herzl's footstool.
: Given this remark, I don't see how one could say that Dr. Shinnar is out
: of bounds in attaching the honorific zt"l to Herzl's name.

Someone who is a tinoq shenishba, nebech an apiqoreis, a chotei who only
failed in the face unique nisyonos or whatnot may have a wonderful place
in olam haba.

But he is not a tzaddiq.

I am not claiming Herzl in particular is any of the above in particular.
I am just trying to establish the idea that zechus and tzidqus need not
be identical.

On Wed, Nov 14, 2001 at 09:17:49AM -0500, Stuart Klagsbrun wrote:
: Being that people objected so fiercely it is obvious that our respect for 
: tzaddikim is still very much intact.

But will that remain true if we silence the protest?

On Wed, Nov 14, 2001 at 11:18:50AM -0500, Shinnar, Meir wrote:
: Micha argues a different argument (which I think is at the heart of
: RYGB's objection too) - that the term zaddik needs to be reserved, and
: that Herzl's personal foibles and lack of personal observance make him
: unsuitable I wonder the textual basis for this, although I understand
: the emotional basis.

The textual basis? What about simple translation of the word. Did the
man stand for giving others and HQBH their due? The answers are yes and
no, respectively.

: Lastly, we do have the notion that one particular action can redeem an
: individual - koneh olamo bsha'a echat.

Actually, that does not quite work here. Koneh olamo besaah achat means
that a person, in a single life-changing moment, can earn olam haba. It
is not about an act, no matter how laudable, that did not have that
lifechanging effect. A person who in a moment become an ehrlicher human
being did, at the end of everything, end up ehrlich ba'asher hu sham.

Besides, I would not 2nd guess the Dor Revii as to whether or not Herzl
has a nice spot in olam haba. The question is his tzidqus.


Micha Berger                 "The most prevalent illness of our generation is
micha@aishdas.org            excessive anxiety....  Emunah decreases anxiety:
http://www.aishdas.org       'The Almighty is my source of salvation;  I will
Fax: (413) 403-9905          trust and not be afraid.'" (Isa 12) -Shalhevesya

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Date: Wed, 14 Nov 2001 17:16:03 -0500 (EST)
From: "Jonathan Baker" <jjbaker@panix.com>
Herzl zt"l

Dr. Shinnar's other point seems to have gotten lost in the ultimately
political question of being pro- and anti-Herzl. Does anyone else
notice a parallel between the Herzl/zt"l argument and the NYTimes
Article argument?

In both cases there was a terrifically good act, and in both cases
there was evidence of personal failings/lesser observance/nonobservance.
Setting aside the political question (is that possible where Herzl is
concerned? where YU/Stern is concerned?), does the argument boil down to:

Do the failings of the individual taint the act, or are the act and the
individual to be considered separately? Or, alternatively, does the
act elevate the individual above hir own failings/inadequacies?

-jon baker    jjbaker@panix.com     <http://www.panix.com/~jjbaker>-

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Date: Wed, 14 Nov 2001 19:34:46 -0500
From: "Yosef Gavriel and Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu>
RE: Herzl not zt"l

At 04:11 PM 11/14/01 -0500, Stuart Klagsbrun wrote:
>> I am startled.
>> Did you see the term "tzaddik" in that remark by the DR?!

>Irrelevant to my point. You are still trying to assert that you understand 
>the DR better than someone else who took it at face value.

Remain amazed and baffled. I *am* taking the remark at face value!!!

Kol Tuv,
ygb@aishdas.org      http://www.aishdas.org/rygb

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Date: Wed, 14 Nov 2001 19:39:45 -0500
From: "Yosef Gavriel and Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu>
Re: Herzl zt"l

At 05:16 PM 11/14/01 -0500, Jonathan Baker wrote:
>Dr. Shinnar's other point seems to have gotten lost in the ultimately
>political question of being pro- and anti-Herzl. Does anyone else
>notice a parallel between the Herzl/zt"l argument and the NYTimes
>Article argument?

Not the case at all. Aderaba - Dr. Shinnar and I (and he knows that I know
that he knows this) are not at all arguing pro- or anti-Herzl. That is
certainly not the case in point. The issue is defining the term "Tzaddik"
and how to categorize someone as one, or not.

Kol Tuv,
ygb@aishdas.org      http://www.aishdas.org/rygb

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Date: Thu, 15 Nov 2001 12:22:09 +1100
From: "SBA" <sba@blaze.net.au>
re Herzl zt"l, NY Times, and limud zchut vs dilatoria

From: Chidekel@aol.com
> In Shir Hashirim rabba perek1, on the pasuk al tiruni she'ani
> sheharhoret, it says rabbi abahu and resh lakish were going to the country
> of kesarin. Rabbi Abahu said to rab shimon bar lakish for what did we
> enter a land of of heruf and gidduf.

(I couldn't find it. Perek 1 is quite long, can you give more details?)

> ..... He asked him why and he answered that the kadosh baruch hu does
> not like those who speak evil (dilatoria) on Israel. Note that the issue
> is not the truth of what Abahu says, merely that criticism of Israel .

BH these days we have a SA for these dinim - the Chofetz Chaim. I think
you will find that in spite of all his warnings against LH, their isn't
one against Herzl and his ilk. (Aderaba...)

> but the fact that it is dilatoria on Israel.

Herzl is israel!?

And when someone attacks Aharon Barak or Prof Shahak or the countless
other sonei and machrivei Torah, it is also a 'dilatoria on Israel'?


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Date: Wed, 14 Nov 2001 21:41:39 EST
From: DFinchPC@aol.com
Re: Avodah V8 #47

[Micha Berger:]
> The Rambam identifies the
> ideal happiness as that of recieving Divine Goodness, Ziv haShechinah;
> a purely recieving phenomenon.

> So then why were we not created that way? Why have this notion of life
> and struggle, of the need to do mitzvos, to self-perfect, to provide for
> others, to build a relationship with HQBH? ...

What's the value of sitting in Gan Eden if you don't understand its 
unsurpassable beauty? How would you understand such beauty if you don't 
understand the struggle the underlies it? How would you understand the 
struggle if you aren't a part of it, if you don't have to live it every day? 
Beauty is product of struggle (or as the poet said, death is the mother of 

David Finch

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Date: Wed, 14 Nov 2001 15:54:52 -0800
From: "Eli Turkel" <Eli.Turkel@colorado.edu>

> The rishonim agree that astronomy is part of basic Jewish education,
> but almost no one I have ever explained these things to has ever learned
> even basic material. Part is the US educational system. Nothing more
> than rudimentary astronomy is required in public schools, and the
> yeshivas certainly won't give any more than that. But they should.
> Basic astronomy does not have to be a full year course and talk about
> quasars and neutron stars and black holes, although all of that is
> good for a Jew to know. But an hour a week for a couple of months is
> all it would take to get yir'ei haShem to look hashomaymo and say mo
> rabbu ma'asekha.
How about the Raavad in hilchot kidush hachodesh who implies he did not know
astronomy and was not particular interested in learning.

Eli Turkel

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Date: Thu, 15 Nov 2001 01:14:25 +0200
From: "Carl and Adina Sherer" <sherer@actcom.co.il>
Re: astronomy in the Jewish / religious community

On 14 Nov 01, at 20:47, Seth Mandel wrote:

> I try to do my part: in my shiurim, about every 18 months, I bring up
> some basic subject in astronomy and explain the Torah connected to it.

Maybe you could post some of your shiur notes once in a while? 

-- Carl

Please daven and learn for a Refuah Shleima for our son,
Baruch Yosef ben Adina Batya among the sick of Israel.  
Thank you very much.

Carl and Adina Sherer

See pictures of Israel. Point your browser to:


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Date: Thu, 15 Nov 2001 12:17:57 +0200
From: "Avi Burstein" <a_burstein@hotmail.com>
Re: astronomy in the Jewish / religious community

There is an excellent book for beginners in this subject entitled
"Understanding the Jewish Calendar" by Nathan Bushwick. It's available at
Amazon.com here: <http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0940118173/aishdas>

Once we're on the topic of relevant Jewish subjects that are often
neglected, how about agricultural ideas? Many of the Jewish holidays and
many halachot revolve around agricultural phases (harvest time, gathering
time, etc.). How many students understand all the different aspects and
processes related to that area of knowledge? (I know I didn't.)

Avi Burstein

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Date: Wed, 14 Nov 2001 17:01:48 -0600
From: "Amihai & Tamara Bannett" <atban@inter.net.il>
Tal Umatar

Joey Mosseri forwarded me this very good and interesting article about
this subject, written by Rabbi Moshe Shama of the Sepharadic Institute
in Brooklyn

Amihai Bannett

Regarding the Yearly Date to Begin Reciting Tal Umatar

During musaf of Shemini Asseret we begin mentioning rain in our formal
prayers - mashib haru'ah u'morid hageshem -in the second berakha of the
amida until the first day of Pesah. As Shemini Asseret (Tishri 22) falls
about the time when rain is required in Israel, the rabbis established
it as the appropriate occasion to begin mentioning rain. However, this
is not a `request' for rain. Recital of the `request' prayer for rain,
- veten tal u'matar librakha - incorporated in the ninth berakha of the
weekday amida, Barekh Alenu, was deferred two weeks until Marheshvan
7 to allow those who came to Jerusalem for Succot to reach their homes
before everybody began requesting rain. This is in Israel. Although the
reasons do not apply in our days, the proclamation to begin this prayer
on Marheshvan 7 remains.

In the Diaspora, which didn't require rain as early as Israel, the
taqana was to begin requesting rain sixty days after the "Tekufa" (The
Fall Equinox). Although in Talmudic times `the Diaspora' was primarily
Babylonia and nearby lands, a number of posqim, followed by Shulhan Arukh,
apply the sixty day regulation even to distant lands (*). In their view
the proclamation took into account the difference between Israel and the
Diaspora, but was not sensitive to all the possible variations in the
Diaspora. According to the Bet Yosef, in the Diaspora the Equinox day
is counted as day one and we begin Tal Umatar in arbit of the 60th day.

The Fall Equinox, dependent on the solar cycle, occurs September
23rd on our civil calendars except during leap years, when it occurs
September 22nd. Were a precise calendar used for halakhic purposes,
Tal Umatar would usually begin November 21st. However, for purposes of
calculating seasons, the formula given by the third century Talmudic
sage Shemuel is used, notwithstanding the fact that most halakhic
calendrical calculations are based on a more precise formula of another
third century Talmudic sage, Rab Adda. Shemuel stated that there are 91
days and 7 1/2 hours between one season and another. This equals exactly
one fourth of a year comprised of 365 days and 6 hours. Rab Adda's solar
year comprises 365 days 5 hours 55 minutes and 25 seconds. The actual
value, determined centuries later, is 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and
46 seconds. The annual discrepancy between the longer halakhic solar year
of Shemuel and the precise astronomical year is 11 minutes 14 seconds,
which yields approximately 13 1/2 extra days (~) since Shemuel's time
in the mid-third century until today.

11.233 min x 1740 yrs = 19545 min / 1440 min per day = 13.57 days

Thus, in the 20th Century, faithfully following Shemuel's figures
(which very possibly were intended merely as a rule-of-thumb guideline,
not intended for use as a long-term regulation), we begin reciting Tal
Umatar December 4th at night (except for once every four years when we
begin December 5th at night as will be explained shortly.)

In Halakhic works written before 1582, whenever a Western civil calendar
date was provided for Tal Umatar, the date given is many days earlier
than the dates we use today. About 1555, the Bet Yosef Orah Hayim 117
quoted Rabbi David Abudirham, from a work he published in 1340, that
for three out of each four years we begin reciting Tal Umatar November
22nd at night and each fourth year November 23rd. To explain this it is
necessary to describe the difference between the civil calendar which
was in use during the Bet Yosef's time, who passed away in 1575, and
the one in use today.

Until 1582, the Julian Calendar was in use throughout most of the
Western World. It was based on a 365 1/4 day solar year, identical with
Shemuel's calculations. The Julian Calendar provided one extra day each
fourth year (a leap year) to reflect the four quarter days. It was widely
recognized that this calendar was `lengthening' the year in comparison
to the actual year, retarding the start of new years by about one day
every 128 years. This was acknowledged by the Church as a major problem,
as its festival calendar established in 325 was dependent on the Spring
Equinox. In that year the Equinox was correctly observed as occurring
March 21st. By 1582, a ten day discrepancy had set in. In that year,
Pope Gregory XIII corrected for the previous 1257 years by changing
the date of the day after October 4, 1582, calling it October 15th, thus
compensating for the ten day cumulative error. Additionally, Pope Gregory
provided a calendar refinement for the future. As the discrepancy was one
day every 128 years, or three days every 384 years, the new Gregorian
calendar eliminated three leap years every 400 years. Each fourth year
was to remain a leap year as previously (year numbers divisible by four)
except for century years not divisible by 400, which would be regular
years. (Years 1700, 1800 and 1900 were thus not leap years.) This calendar
was still not perfect, but the discrepancy was reduced to merely one
day every 3,300 years.

Back to the Bet Yosef. In 1555, before the Gregorian Calendar was
established, civil calendar dates used by the Jewish community, which were
merely convenience applications of our ritual calendar, were ten days
earlier than after October 1582. Thus, the November 22/23 dates of R.
Abudirham become December 2/3. 1600 was a leap year in the Gregorian
calendar so no further adjustment was necessary. However, 1700, 1800
and 1900 were not leap years. They must be accounted for in our usage
of civil dates by adding a compensatory day for each to the Gregorian
date. This yields December 5/6 as the primary date for Tal U'matar in the
20th Century according to R. Abudirham and apparently also according to
the Bet Yosef who cites him authoritatively. This is one day later than
the widely-accepted practice of December 4/5. Some contemporary sources
do consider the later dates as authoritative, but they are a minority (!).

It is not clear exactly how this one day difference came about. Perhaps
the Bet Yosef did indeed advocate November 22/23 in his days and would now
advocate December 5/6 and our present-day practice is not in accordance
with him, unusual as that may be. Perhaps a textual error set in. Or
perhaps he cited R. Abudirham's dates without comment as he was not very
familiar with the non- Jewish civil calendar. The dates were very close
and looked correct so he relied on them, but had he carefully looked
into them he would have disagreed with them by one day. The latter is a
strong possibility as will now be shown. In a passage not quoted by the
Bet Yosef, R. Abudirham specifically states "the 60th day is considered
as before 60". In other words,

Tal Umatar is not recited until the following day. This statement, found
in present editions of R. Abudirham and in the 1740 Amsterdam edition,
is not in accordance with the latest decision recorded in the relevant
Talmudic passage (Taanit 10a) which clearly states that the 60th day
is considered after 60. (Perhaps R. Abudirham had a different text of
that Talmudic passage.) The Bet Yosef, in a separate paragraph, citing
the Talmud, counts the 60th day as after 60, notwithstanding his citing
without comment the civil date as given by R. Abudirham!

In any event, following our Talmudic text, our practice has been to
begin Tal Umatar one day prior to the civil date given by R. Abudirham.

The considerations involved in beginning Tal Umatar one day later
each fourth year, just for that one year, follow. In accordance with
the tradition of Rabbi Yehoshu`a (T.B. Rosh Hashana 11a), we consider
Creation as having occurred in Nissan and the first Spring Equinox as
having occurred with the creation of the sun at the beginning of the
fourth day. On the day of the Spring Equinox, day and night are equal. As
halakhic days begin from the evening, we consider the creation of the sun
as having occurred Tuesday evening 6 p.m. That was in Year One. Counting
twice 91 days 7 1/2 hours, in accordance with Shemuel's formula, to arrive
at the Fall Equinox (Tishri), brings us 182 days 15 hours later. The
time of day of that Tishri Equinox would be 9 a.m. Although we consider
Creation occurring in Nissan, our practice is to count years from Tishri
according to the tradition of Rabbi Eliezer. The 9 a.m. Tishri Equinox, as
far as the count of years is concerned, is in Year Two. The six hours each
solar cycle possesses beyond the 365 whole days now comes into play. This
creates a six hour yearly movement advancing the time of day when the sun
and earth return to the identical relationship of the previous year. Thus,
in Year Three the Fall Equinox is considered as having occurred at 3 p.m.,
in Year Four at 9 p.m. and so on. Since every Year Four the Equinox
falls after nightfall, Tal Umatar is moved to the next day in the solar
cycle. This may be called the "Tal Umatar Leap Year", which adds one day
for the four quarter days of four years. It always occurs in Hebrew years
whose number is divisible by four. As the civil calendar in use today
has a leap year several months following our moving to the next day,
we return to the earlier date for the next three years.

Regarding the discrepancy between our calculations and the true solar
year: The Talmudic sages who established our calendar were probably
aware that a discrepancy of several minutes per year might exist. Just
as previously the rabbis had corrected problems in their solar-lunar
calibrations by direct observation, they undoubtedly expected any
significant discrepancy to be corrected by direct observation. They were
clearly committed to Halakha remaining harmonized with reality.

Of course the problems are much more far-reaching than the Tal Umatar
date. For purposes of intercalating the lunar and solar cycles and
establishing festival dates we use the less inaccurate calendar of Rab
Adda, but nonetheless problems exist. Pesah is slowly drifting away from
the month in which the Spring Equinox occurs toward the second month
of Spring. Undoubtedly, a national Bet Din will one day, hopefully soon,
make adjustments based on accurate astronomical observation.


(*) How communities in countries which have need for rain before sixty
days should conduct has been a topic of lively discussion through
the centuries. A number of leading authorities, most notably the Rosh
(13th C.) tried but failed to align the practice with reality.

(~) Although a thirteen day delay in reciting the classic prayer for rain
is significant, particularly in regions where rain is desperately required
earlier, and although it is uncomfortable to be out of alignment with
reality to such a degree, the prevailing opinion has been that without
a national Bet Din this halakhic adjustment also cannot be made.

(!) See Encyclopedia Judaica v. 5 p. 47; Rabbi Adin Steinzalt's "Eeyunim"
to Taanit 10.

(**) If it transpires that the `before 60' text in R. Abudirham is
a scribal error, it may be that he began counting the 60 days after
the Equinox, according to the simple and apparently straightforward
translation of the Talmud "60 days after the Equinox", not counting the
Equinox day as one as the Bet Yosef does.

(!!) Commenting on the Biblical verse `for it is your wisdom and insight
in the eyes of the nations' (Debarim 4:6), a Talmudic sage (Shabbat
75a) states that this refers to the knowledge of astronomy, deriving
therefrom a misvah to calculate seasons and constellations. Considering
the importance attached to astronomy in the Talmud, and the formidable
involvement in it by rabbis throughout the centuries, it is a bit
surprising that it doesn't presently play a more prominent role than it
does in the traditional Jewish curriculum.

Go to top.

Date: Wed, 14 Nov 2001 22:07:34 EST
From: RabbiRichWolpoe@aol.com
Re: Talmud and science

In a message dated 11/14/01 3:15:49pm EST, gil_student@hotmail.com writes:
> I think he means that at the initial time of creation all of the animals 
> were created fully grown and developed.  Therefore, they could not have 
> evolved from lower organisms.  This does not negate the possibility of 
> FUTURE evolution, not that crossbreeding is evolution.

I Believe my orignal statement said evolution can occur WITHIN Speices
but NOT from Specie to specie Evolutoin in this case is ADAPTATION.
IT is not crossing the specie border to mutation. Jews who developed
Eurpoean features are a case in point.

> R. Avraham ben HaRambam suggests that "shachteih" means that Rabbah
> injured R. Zeirah and "achyeih" means that R. Zeira's wound healed.
> Not allegorical, but not a seemingly mythical story either.

so nu how come Rava invited R. Zeira back evn though he ONLY wounded him?
That part of the story is STILL fantastic - Kein nir'eh LFAD...

Regards and Kol Tuv,

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