Avodah Mailing List

Volume 10 : Number 054

Tuesday, November 12 2002

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Mon, 11 Nov 2002 14:08:41 -0500
From: "Shinnar, Meir" <Meir.Shinnar@rwjuh.edu>
RE: rambam's shitta

(something, BTW, we have not seen ANYWHERE to date. The R' Shmuel
ha'Nagid, Ramban, R' Avraham ben ho'Rambam etc. about Agados in Shas
refer to stories and sermons, not to statements that purport to be
factual). But the Meiri does not say that. He says Chazal had to give
in a little to prevalent superstition, even though they themselves knew
and evince elsewhere that all this is nonsense.

The argument with RYGB is quite enlightening, and gives new meaning to
the phrase of yachid bedara.

I will retract my statement about the disagreement being a RW/LW basis
- as RYGB seems (at least on avoda) to be a da'at yachid - I wonder
whether he still holds all of us who reject his opinion to be without a
shred of emunat chachamim and knowledge of rishonim. (I think that the
LW/RW debate is the extent to which the rambam's shitta can be ours -
but few outside of RYGB doubt that this is the rambam's shitta)

However, the above statement about the limitation of allegorization
is easily refutable (although the previous thread suggests that what
constitutes proof is highly questionable - the rambam in maamar techiyat
hametim addresses this issue, saying that no matter how clear he is,
he can be misunderstood, bringing the fact that Christians use the
shma as proof of the trinity) With regard to the statement above, that
limits the applicability of allegorization to stories and sermons,
not to statements that purport to be factual, the rambam himself in
maamar techiyat hameti (p 360 in the Shelat edition), he is talking
about yemot hamashiach (clearly relating to things more related to
ikkare emuna rather than past meshalim), and the nature of olam haba -
he says explicitly know that these prophecies and similar matters that
we say that they are allegorical - our word in them is not a decree,
that we did not receive a prophecy from hashem that will tell us that
it is an allegory, nor did we have a tradition for one of the sages from
the prophets who will explain that these details are allegorical.

Rather, what brought us to that is the our effort and the the effort
of every man of wisdom (of the few) - the reverse of the effort of
the multitude. That the multitude of the the followers of torah, what
is beloved of them and tasty to their folly, that they will put torah
and sechel as two opposite poles, and will derive everything separate
from the reasonable, and will say that it is a miracle, and will flee
from thngs being natural, not in what is told about what happened in
the past, nor what he will see now, nor what is said that will happen.
And our efforts our to gather between the torah and the reasonable,
and will manage all things accroding to a possible natural order,
except what is specifically explained that it is a miracle (mofet)
and it is impossible to explain it otherwise, then we will need to say
that it is a miracle (note that the rambam is not limiting himself to
the past, nor is he saying that he is basing himself on maamre hazal -
even though he earlier did bring shmuel's statement on yemot hamashiach -
that is not the reason for his statements - it is rather whether it is
possible to explain it otherwise)

let me finish with one last quote from this maamar , talking about olam
haba - (more related to ikkare emuna than to allegorizing events) (p 345)
and it is not fit that a man should dispute these pearls, that have
rational proofs backing them, with the pshat of drashot that it is fit
to say them in the ears of women and the house of mourning.

Meir Shinnar

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Date: Mon, 11 Nov 2002 14:16:05 -0500
From: "Gil Student" <gil@aishdas.org>
Re: Chazal on Astrology

GeshmakeSevara wrote:
>Avol, ha'emes yoreh darko, that the halachic Rambam (mishneh
>torah) and the philsophical Rambam (igros and moreh) maintained
>different thoughts and beliefs.

With all due respect to the geshmake listmember, I consider this approach
to be a cop-out and generally incomprehensible. I think Menachem
Kellner likes to distinguish between the Rambam and Maimonides (although
he holds that they should not be distinguished) but there is plenty of
Maimonides in the Mishneh Torah (as well as the Peirush HaMishnayos). R'
Moshe ben Maimon was a complex thinker. But, giving due credibility to
his minor changes through his life, he was remarkably consistent in his
outlook (except according those who claim that at the very end of his
life he suddenly became a mekubal - something I give no credibility).
It's just very difficult to find that consistency. If you want to
read some brilliant attempts to bring Rambam and Maimonides together,
see Marvin Fox's Interpreting Maimonides.

As to your examples, there is no contradiction between being a mekubal and
ba'al aggadah and stating that one can reject selected aggados (Ramban)
or between writing a peirush al pi peshat and accepting the derashos of
Chazal (Rashbam - see his commentary to Bereishis 1:1, 37:2).

What you are suggesting is similar to saying that Rav Soloveitchik could
reject Chazal in a lecture on philosophy but no in his Gemara shiur.
I can't imagine such a thing.

Gil Student

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Date: Mon, 11 Nov 2002 17:45:23 -0500
From: Sholom Simon <sholom@aishdas.org>
Halacha vis-a-vis Present Day War

Last night (10 Nov 02) Rabbi Yitzchok Breitowitz gave a lecture on
"Combat Morality".

This is quick summary of my notes. (Please don't ask me to defend any
positions here, the halacha is over my head -- I'm just the messenger,
and an imperfect one at that).

Basic preliminaries include that Judaism rejects pacificsm (e.g., the law
of the rodef), nevertheless we are saddened by war (note 1/2 hallel for
most of Pesach), and it harms us spiritually even when war is justified
(e.g., even though all of Dovid HaMelech's wars were just, HaShem would
not permit him to build the Temple).

Law of War vs Individual Self Defense (rodef):

War is a nationalistic expansion of the law of the rodef, but it is
larger, and some of the rules are not automatically derivable (although
there are major intersections).

Three quick examples illustrating differences, although the halacha will
be described later:

1. law of rodef does not permit killing an innocent person, and does
not permit collateral damage, while War does allow this sometimes

2. law of rodef does not permit (or require?) one to put oneself in
danger to save another, while War does allow it

3. law of rodef requires that the minimal amount of force necessary is
required to stop the rodef, while War this isn't necessarily true

Question: if terrorists are attacking a village, which law applies?
The law of the rodef, or law of War? (Halachically speaking, it is not
terribly clear)

The Halachic Construct of War (mostly derived from Rambam, Hilchos

Two types of permitted wars:
1. Milchemes mitzvah, of which there are three types:
     a.  to destroy Amalek
     b.  to destroy the 7 nations
     c.  a defensive war: to save Jews from an enemy
2. Milchemes rshus: any other campaign (economic, expansion, etc.).
Needs consent of Sanhedrin _and_ some Divine Authorization (umim v'tumin,
or the like).

Poskim say that 1a, 1b, and 2 do not exist anymore.

As to 1c, the question is: what is a defensive war?

Three views:

1. Strictest Definition: by Chazon Ish - until the enemy engages in
overt acts (e.g., fires the first shot, crosses the border first, etc.),
one can not view it as milchemet mitzvah.

2. Widest Definision: by the Lechem Mishna - even a war whose only
reason is to intimidate _others_ from attacking (e.g., attacking Jordan
to intimidate Syria) falls under milchemes mitzvah.

3. Most Common Definition, by Aruch HaShulkhan: when there is reasonable
grounds to suspect an enemy is building up resources to invade.

(Note: defensive war includes a war to defend _other_ people: e.g.,
A attacking B in order to protect the people of C).

Milchemes Mitvah permits unavoidable collateral damage.

There are four important halachic concepts which are common to all wars:

1. mitzvah of kriat shalom (even with Amalek), we that we offer peace
and opportunity for negotiation provided that the enemy recognize Jewish
sovereignty over Eretz Yisroel). Rambam also adds: the enemy must agree
to the 7 Noachide laws (note that this means a victor can impose moral
values on a loser). Ramban disagrees as to second point, and says that
recognition of Jewish sovereignty is enough.

2. lo tashschit -- prohibition of wanton destruction of resources,
one must be environmentally sensitive

3. If you lay siege to a city on three sides must leave fourth side
open, for two reasons (a) humanitarian; and (b) self-protection (if up
against the corner the enemy will fight harder).

This requires some clarification. In RYB's view this means only that
we permit non-combatants to leave, and that there is no question that
this does not mean we permit combatants to leave or to permit supplies
to enter, and that it does not mean that we literally leave one side open.

4. V'Ahavta L'Reyacha Kamocha / "Love your neighbor". We must act
kindly, to the extent possible that we can. One example, in Sanhedrin,
we learn that when we put someone to death, we can't use torture, etc.

The four rules above lead to some interesting implications.

In RYB's view, the use of nuclear weapons is halachically problematic
for up to possibly four reasons:

1. It probably violates lo tashschit
2. It kills to many non-combatants (e.g., Hiroshima. One can not
classify that as mere 'collateral' damage).
3. The fallout from radiation may constitute torture and/or at least
the violation of V'Ahavta L'Reyacha Kamocha wrt the deaths caused and
the type of death
4. Rambam/Gemara(?) prohibit actions which cause casualties to exceed
1/6 of the world's population

Does the above, then, require unilateral disarmament?

In RYB's view: no, for at least two reasons:

1. The threat of "MAD" (mutually assured destuction) is legitmate
2. Threatening is legitimate to save a life. (Even on a personal level,
one can lie to save a life: e.g., "If you don't let me go, I will kill
your children." Note: one can make that threat, but one can not carry
it out if the children are not combatants).

Exemptions from serving:

Ramban: one of the differences between optional and mandatory wars;
the torah's expemptions ((a) first year of marriage; (b) just planted
a vineyard; (c) new home), would apply only to optional wars.

So what about Yeshiva exemptions?

Some suggest that full-time torah study is desirable (note: RYB expressed
the view that it is a given that study and tefillah help the war effort).
Rambam notes the tibe of Levi was exempt from all war.

That said, RYB would suggest that, in a case where there is a real
manpower shortage, it might override this and therefore might be proper
to get the yeshiva students out fighting. But he stressed that, given
the number of folks who do not fight, that Israel today is not in a
situation where there is a real manpower shortage.

Territorial Concessions:

Ramban claims that living in EY is one of the 613 mitzvot. There are
four components to this:

1. It is a mitzvah to conquer all the territory within biblical
boundaries (RYB recognizes that it is not clear what the boundaries are).
Note that this expands beyond the 7 nations and Amelek. Territorial
concessions, then, seem to be invalid al pi Ramban.

2. It is not enough to own it, but one must cultivate, settle,
beautify it. (RYB claims that, al pi Ramban, picking up a piece of
garbage in Y'lem is engaging in this mitzvah).

3. One is not allowed to regard any other land as a homeland to the Jews
(which directly speaks to the "Uganda proposal").

4. There is an individual obligation to live in Israel.

(One might well ask: what took Ramban so long to make aliyah? Answer:
it was dangerous to travel such great distances then, and pikuach nefesh
overrides this mitzvah).

Rambam does not count living in EY as one of the 613 mitzvahs, and would
seem to permit territorial compromise as permissible for greater security.


What about War of Terrorism? (Losely defined as deliberately targeting
civilians above and beyond collateral damage).

Is is assur for a Jew to engage in terrorism.

What can be done to fight against it?

This is a halachically difficult construct -- b/c it's not fully like
a rodef situation, and also not fully like a war situation. Here are
six interesting issues regarding the war against terrorism:

1. Rescue missions (e.g., hostages): this exposes participants to great
danger, and is not required (but is permitted) under law of rodef

2. Ransom of prisoner exchanges -- i.e., can one release terrorists to
get our prisoners back?

a. R Ovadia Yosef rules yes
b. majority of poskim rule no, because
    i. releasing them encourages more hostage taking in future; and
    ii. releasing terrorists causes danger, because they can fight us tomorrow

RYB: there would seem to be a Mishna that directly supports the majority
of poskim: that in pidyon shvuyim, we do not pay excessive ransom

3. Deportation of terrorists -- halacha seems to permit. Rambam might
require, however, kriat shalom first -- that is, that they can't be
deported if they accept sovereignty of Israel first _and_ accept 7
Noahide laws, which would mean that they must reject terrorism.

4.  Blowing up houses
Note: an _object_ can be a rodef. Certainly if one can kill a person,
one can destroy an object, and/or property.

5. More interesting question: is financial compensation required?

Halacha, generally, is: if a victim destroys property to save himself
(e.g., you're in a hotel, someone is attacking you, and you pick up a vase
owned by the hotel and smash it over the attacker's head), he must pay
(he has to reimburse hotel the cost of the vase). If a 3rd party does it
(smash the vase over attacker's head to save someone else) the 3rd part
does _not_ have to pay. (Theory behind this: requirement of financial
compensation might deter a third party from saving someone; whereas a
potential victim will try to save himself and not think about the cost).

So, when IDF moves in, are they are third party -- i.e., are they acting
on behalf of the population? -- in which case they do not have to pay;
or is the IDF part of the threatened class (e.g., like Jenin) in which
case they would have to pay. (No answer given).

Rambam: the above applies if the property (like the vase) is not the
source _itself_ of the endangerment. But sometimes the property _is_ the
source of the endangerment, in which case no reimbursement is required.

Hypothetical: if there is too much luggage on a boat, which will cause
boat to sink, one can throw a suitcase overboard to save everyone.
Here, the suitcase is the rodef. Don't have to reimburse. Ra'avad,
btw, disagrees, asking the question: why is _this_ suitcase the rodef,
as opposed to everyone else's suitcase.

So, if a home is used to make a terrorist (however one might want to
define that), the _house_ can be considered a rodef, and no payment
is needed. (Extrapolating from RYB's comments, it seems that if a house
is a terrorist hideout, the house would be a rodef).

6. Collective Punishment: can not kill the family of a terrorist
-- halacha forbids it unless it is collateral damage (if they are
non-combatants). One can not deliberately single out non-combatants.
Collective punishment might be valid, but not if the collective punishment
involves killing.

RYB: For example Dresden, Hiroshima (even if one accepts the premise that
it saved tons of lives and shortened the way) seem to be against halacha.

There were great questions from the audience, unfortunately I didn't
write many down.

1. What about destroying olive trees? On one hand it violates baal
tashchit, on the other hand, if a terrorist is shooting from behind the
trees, one can view the trees as a rodef.

2. Can there be a milchemet mitzvah today? Yes. While it is true we
need a "melech" in order to declare one, Rav Kook and others say that
a Jewish government is enough.


For those who don't know Rabbi Yitzchok Breitowitz: he is (I think)
the Av Beis Din of DC, Smicha from Ner Israel; another degree from Johns
Hopkins and from Harvard Law School; Doctorate in Talmudic Law from Ner
Israel. He's the rabbi at Woodside synagogue, he's also a law professor
at U. Maryland. He's an expert on subjects ranging from US bankruptcy
and commercial law, to the Agunah, to Cloning, and Jewish medical ethics.

He spoke from the bima of a Conservative shul. The host (C) rabbi,
who introduced him, also closed by offering the bracha one gives upon
seeing a talmud chocham.

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Date: Mon, 11 Nov 2002 22:11:51 +0200
From: "Ira L. Jacobson" <laser@ieee.org>
Re: zecher/zichron

>On Sun, Nov 10, 2002 at 10:40:46AM +0200, Ira L. Jacobson wrote:
>: There is no grammatical or etymological reason to regard zeikher and
>: zekher as having different meanings...

Then RMB wrote:
>The Gra made just that distinction. His talmidim agree that one means "a
>memory / recollection" and one means "a reminder / memorial". But they
>are choleiq as to which means which....

>I would therefore require some basis for a bald and bold assertion that
>is in disagreement with the Vilna Ga'on's diqduq.

WADR, I would ask for evidence of the distinction between zekher and 
zeikher, other than that "they said so."

Examples would be welcome.


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Date: Mon, 11 Nov 2002 15:53:37 -0500
From: DFinchPC@aol.com
Re: Star Wars

In a message dated 11/11/2002 3:26:38 PM EST, geshmake sevara writes
> An even better example would be ramban. now, he was far from being a
> rationalist, and in fact accused the rambam of ultra-rationalism and
> undermining faith. The ramban, in addition to being a super-talmudist
> lent much credence to kabalah and aggadah. However, this same kabbalist
> and aggadist acted very differently when he stated -in vikuach haramban-
> that he doesn't go for agadetato! huh? yes, it's all a mattter of
> circumstances. IOW, the ramban said what he said to a christian minister
> lidechoto be'kash!

> Same here: The rambam and other rationalists had one approach when
> defending faith in a rational world, and another approach when cofifying
> halacha for future generations.

The Rambam can be understood to have treated astrology as a form of
aggadata, which, like other myths and legends of the time of Chazal,
needn't be approached legalistically. The "truth" of astrology in the
eyes of Chazal is therefore beside the point, and beside any Rambamesque
notions of rationalism.

I've followed this debate for several days now, and still can't figure
out what the issue is.

David Finch

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Date: Tue, 12 Nov 2002 1:41 +0200
Rambam and Astrology

Has anyone checked how any of the very many mefarshim on the Rambam
(Ohr Sameach, Avi Ezri, Chazon Ish, R. Chayim) deal with this ??

BTW there's an interesting Abarbanel on Dvarim 4:15 that deals with

Last but not least: about 30 years ago a professor of statistics in France
(Michel Gauquelin) who wanted to disprove astrology found that there was
a very high positive correlation between occupation and astrology. An
Italian chemist (Piccardi) found a very strong correlation between a
factor in colloid chemistry and solar activity. Solar activity also
affects a flocculation index of blood serum (Takata effect). And there
are hundreds of papers in the medical literature on ionizing winds
(affected by cosmic rays) on health.


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Date: Mon, 11 Nov 2002 18:18:28 EST
From: T613K@aol.com
Re: Avodah V10 #52--pesukim for names

> But what about those people who cannot find such a posuk?
> There are actually some names which simply cannot be matched.

> Eg, the name Klonimus has a problem as there is no posuk that
> begins with a kuf and ends with a samech.

Maybe you can find in a place in Tanach where two consecutive pesukim can be 
used--one to start with kuf, the next to end with samech?  Would that work?

Toby Katz

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Date: Tue, 12 Nov 2002 10:54:48 +1100
From: "SBA" <sba@iprimus.com.au>
What if you have more than one name?

From: "Carl M. Sherer" <cmsherer@ssgslaw.co.il>
> What if you have more than one name?

So you say 2 psukim

(Shir Hashirim asher liShlomo & Boruch ato Hashem Lamdenu Chukecho - 
which covers both 'posuk' methods -
1) begining and ending with the same letter, and
2) actually having the name in the psukim.
 [There is another posuk in Tenach
"...VeHamelech Shlomo Boruch.." - 
which is the way I prefer to be addressed...])

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Date: Mon, 11 Nov 2002 23:37:52 +0200
From: S Goldstein <goldstin@netvision.net.il>
darkei limud

> I strongly suspect that the academics in Bar Ilan and Hebrew University
> know shas and rishonim better than 99% of the people in kollel.

As has been commented recently, there is a need to distinguish between
different types of Torah study. We all know that aggada is different from
halacha. It has a different goal and purpose and also a different style
of expression. One should not expect it to be understood in the same
way as a halachic gemara. Proofs from our Sages available upon request.

So too an academic approach to Shas and Rishonim differs from a "kollel"
approach. An academic studying a halachic gemara is interested, among
other issues, in editorial style, historical setting, sociological data,
cross-culture analysis etc.

These issues are largely irrelevent to the "kollel" audience. In kollel,
a halachic gemara is studied to know the halacha on a basic level
(vos shteht) and/or to pursue the "lomdus" of the sugya at hand(ie
VIDC of RYGB). These goals are largely irrelevent to the academic.
When Dr. Ch. Soloveitchik is learning all of Meseches Trumos in depth,
is he still wearing the hat of an academic?

To paint the distinction with a story:

I once heard a Merkaz HaRavnik try to describe Rav Zvi Yehuda to a RW
who had never heard ANY Torah mishmo,

If rakika in mikdash is assur kal va chomer from kapandria, then mekhkar
on makom hamikdash(ie Ir HaKodesh vhaMikdash--R' Tukacinzky) is assur
kal va chomer from rakika--RZYK.

Shlomo Goldstein

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Date: Mon, 11 Nov 2002 19:51:21 -0500
From: "Yosef Gavriel and Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu>
RE: rambam's shitta

At 02:08 PM 11/11/02 -0500, Shinnar, Meir wrote:
>I will retract my statement about the disagreement being a RW/LW basis
>- as RYGB seems (at least on avoda) to be a da'at yachid - I wonder
>whether he still holds all of us who reject his opinion to be without a
>shred of emunat chachamim and knowledge of rishonim. (I think that the
>LW/RW debate is the extent to which the rambam's shitta can be ours -
>but few outside of RYGB doubt that this is the rambam's shitta)

Yes, I still hold that way - and so do all the individuals beyond
the list that I have discussed the contretemps with, who regard the
position bandied about here as if it had any validity as remarkable
(in the negative sense!).

The rest of your post is irrelevant.

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

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Date: Mon, 11 Nov 2002 20:00:21 -0500
From: "Yosef Gavriel and Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu>
Re: cultural bias

At 04:54 PM 11/11/02 +0000, Eli Turkel wrote:
><you do not think the Rishonim - who had the example of Chazal before
>them - were not striving for that as well?! You think they took their
>biases and induced them into Torah - cooked the data?! >

>No one here is talking of cooking the books. We are talking of
>re-interpreting gemaras to reflect our cultural/scientific knowledge.
>  There are people (I won't ascribe in R. Wolbe since I really don't
>know his position) who describe chazal and rishonim/schronim as
>if they were sitting in a bubble completely uninfluenced by their

>My position is that all people are influenced by their surroundings,
>the tannaim by Greek and Roman culture, Rishonim by aristotle etc....

>Hence, many rishonim had no problem learning gemara that the earth was
>flat and astrology was a fact. Later when a flat earh was found to be
>false and astrology out of vogue the same gemaras are used to prove
>that chazal knew the earth was round and that there must be at least
>some amoraim who knew that astrology was false.

We are not talking science - see myresponse to R' David Cohen.


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Date: Mon, 11 Nov 2002 19:59:46 -0500
From: "Yosef Gavriel and Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu>
Re: Chazal and Astrology

At 10:55 AM 11/11/02 -0500, David E Cohen wrote:
>1. Chazal were the ba'alei hamesorah, and we are to accept the accuracy of
>their statements as ba'alei hamesorah, certainly in matters of halachah.
>2. There are times that Chazal make statements which they did not receive
>as a mesorah, such as statements that clearly reflect the science of
>their times (e.g. spontaneous generation of lice).

I cannot answer as to my interlocutors hold.

I am not sure as to #2 - who am I do be machri'ah - I know there are
THOSE who hold that way.

>The crux of the dispute seems to be the dividing line between these
>two categories. RYGB seems to be assuming that anything that cannot
>be directly disproved by science must be assumed to be mesorah (and
>put in the same category as halachah with regard to the extent to which
>we accept Chazal's authority on the matter)....

>Now that I'm done with my attempt at analysis, I'll throw in my own
>two cents. As my own understanding on the matter is closer to that of
>RMF, I would like to ask RYGB for the following clarification of what
>he believes is the mainstream position:
>What is the evidence that Moshe Rabbeinu was given, for transmission
>through the mesorah chain, not just halachos, but also insight into
>the way the world works (thing like astrology)? How do we know that
>Chazal weren't simply going on their own understanding? ...

This is all very rational: Chazal were Ba'alei Ruach ha'Kodesh, they
were meshamesh b'bas kol and did aliyos neshama - while that may not tell
them anything scientific - it tells them how Hashem runs the Olamos. IF
they were wrong about astrology - all of them - then all the shayachus
they had to the Olamos Elyonim is called into question. They might as
well be what the Conservatives (afra l'pumyhu) call "G-d crazed People"
or something like that.

Furthermore, if Rambam held that ALL Chazal held of astrology - and he
still wrote the last halacha in AZ Chap. 11 - something is very wrong.

Again, there is no way to learn Rambam AZ 11 than the way I have
described. Which is the way the ALN learnt aswell, RMJF's invective

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

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Date: Tue, 12 Nov 2002 08:48:11 GMT
From: Eli Turkel <turkel@math.tau.ac.il>

<Astrology i different. This is an issue of emunos v'dai'os, not one of
nice demon stories. If Chazal did uniformly accept astrology as the way
that HKB"H designed the Beri'ah, then that means that it is fundamental
that this is one of HKB"H's tools of hashgocho and hisgalus, albeit one
that is held in negative esteem.

For the Rambam to allegedly reject this position out of hand is to impute
to him governance over the mesorah, not to the mesorah governance over
him. If he can reject astrology unilaterally, why should someone else
not reject, say, the Exodus? It is only a matter of degree, no?>

Wow!! from a debate whether Rambam rejected Chazal on astrology (or
interpreted as an allegory - essentially the same) we have elevated
astrology to one of the 13 ikkarim of the Torah on par with the ten
i.e. if someone today would take the clear position that chazal believed
in astrology and they were wrong (a position of many on this list)
they would be labeled as apikorsim and their schechita would be pasul
(good thing none of them are schochtim -).

Since I am already accused of reading academic material let me bring
another interesting claim from Grossman in Chachmei Tzarfat. He claims
that ealy chachmei ashkenaz were very favorable to those returning from
a conversion to Xtianity because it was a measure problem in a small
community with large numbers affected including the family of several
gedolim. Hence, Rashi and many other poskim of those eras stress that
one who does tshuva is fully accepted into the community and even while a
Xtian still has some rights. On the other hand Chachmei bavel and Spain
were much stricter in the geonic and early rishon era because they were
less affected by the problem.

It is interesting to note that over time the history changed. There
became fewer conversions in northern Europe while during the 1300 and
1400s a large portion of the Spanish Jewish community left Judaism.

 Eli Turkel, turkel@math.tau.ac.il on 11/12/2002

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Date: Mon, 11 Nov 2002 22:39:30 -0500
From: Arie Folger <afolger@ymail.yu.edu>
Re: Star wars

RYGB wrote:
> Your second paragraph is simply incorrect. Look again at the Moreh 2:25.
> The Rambam say he cannot interpret Bereishis metaphorically not just
> because of his OWN logic, but because that would conflict with the
> mesorah as evinced by many pesukim in Nach etc.

And just a little later he states (IIRC) that if Aristotle's logic
was impeccable in this matter, and an eternal world would have been
a logical conclusion, he would have reinterpreted those psuqim and
adjoining maamarei 'Hazal, too. You just brought a good raayah against
RYGB's position.

Ducking ...

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Date: Tue, 12 Nov 2002 14:10:52 -0500
From: "Michael Frankel" <michaeljfrankel@hotmail.com>
Mazal and Genius

A minor addendum to the recent dust up over astrology. All
participants to the dialogue, whatever daas yochid or rabbim they were
peddling, understood and employed the word mazal to refer to heavenly
bodies/constellations. However for completeness it should be pointed out
that there is a secondary usage of the word and the g'moroh sometimes
means something else when it uses this term. Thus e.g., Shabbos 53a,
Megiloh 3a and a number of other places it is clear that constellations
simply won't do, and the g'moroh means rather some personal "malokh"
appointed to watch over each individual. See rashi in megiloh "mazlyhu:
sar shel kol odom l'maaloh". I've also seen something (from TaSh'ma I
think) which connects "mazal" with "the genius" (in the classical sense)
-- i.e. a person's metaphysical/spiritual alter-ego. nothing really to
do with kokhovim u'mazalos and so one should take at least a little care
when citing sources.

Mechy Frankel				W: (703) 845-2357
michael.frankel@osd.mil			H: (301) 593-3949

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