Avodah Mailing List

Volume 10 : Number 083

Thursday, January 2 2003

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Mon, 23 Dec 2002 15:23:00 -0600
From: Elly Bachrach <ebachrach@engineeringintent.com>
Re: age of the universe

Micha Berger wrote:
> I refer you back to my survey of opinions in the archive. I like the
> Maharal's -- beri'ah is incomprehensible. Nevu'ah vechochmah, chochmah
> adif. ...                                                     In our case,
> ma'aseh bereishis is so alien that neither can capture it fully. Thus
> its inclusion in "ein doreshin". However, chochmah can still get closer.

> This requires assuming that Bereishis alef has no historical peshat.
> It also requires understanding that science may get close, but will
> never accurately describe it either.

Although some of these theories come "close", I have always been wary of
the idea that science could thoroughly explain creation. In particular
I am bothered because if one claims that the creation is and must
be explainable through the constructs used to define our universe,
doesn't one have to provide equally rational explanations for events
like the flood and migdal bavel, and for the extraordinary lengths of
people's lives?

Do any of the sources presented regarding creation posit explanations
for these parts of Breishis?


Elly Bachrach
Engineering Intent http://www.EngineeringIntent.com
Phone: (847) 676-2880
Fax: (847) 982-2304

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Date: Tue, 24 Dec 2002 19:02:52 +0200
From: Zoo Torah <zoorabbi@zootorah.com>
re: age of the universe

Yitzchok Zlochower writes:
<<Besides the suspect definition of time in his progression of creation
"days", Schroeder has not clearly drawn the connection between the
events described in the Creation story and their occurrence in earthly
time. The latter objection could also be raised against other theses
that consider a creation "day" to be an era of variable duration or
actual days following a very long prehistory.>>

To strengthen this objection, let us note that the order of events in
maase Bereishis actually directly contradicts that which we know from
paleotology, such as that Bereishis places birds before animals, whereas
the fossil record shows the opposite.

For this reason and others I have found Rav Dessler's approach to be
by far the most satisfactory. Based on Ramban, he explains that the six
days are six "concepts" that are only expressed as days to make it easy
for us to grasp. He further notes that they do not chart a chronological
time period, but rather a conceptual progression. I have explained this
approach at length, including why the Torah describes birds as preceding
animals, in my book The Science of Torah (Targum Press).

kol tuv,
Natan Slifkin (but my pseudeonym is Nosson Slifkin!)

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Date: Wed, 25 Dec 2002 18:17:50 +0000
From: Chana Luntz <Chana@KolSassoon.net>
Re: age of the universe

In message , Akiva Atwood <atwood@netvision.net.il> writes
>>: 1. Rav Avigdor Miller answers the question by saying that Hashem created
>>: a mature universe. Just as Adam Harishon was not created as a newborn
>>: but rather as a mature adult, so to Hashem created a mature world.

>> RMMS says similarly.

>This argument has serious philosophical problems:
>1) Why would HaShem *lie* about the age of the universe?

I must say I have had similar reservations. However, I was thinking
about this discussion when learning the machlokus between Rabbi Yehuda
haGlili and Rabbi Akiva on the recent daf yomi (OK, I am a bit behind)
on 90a.discussing the case of a navi sheker. Rabbi Akiva appears
to take a position similar to yours, ie chas v'shalom that HKBH would
create a miracle that would operate to support a falsehood, in this case
a navi sheker (and therefore the situation must be that the navi was
originally a true navi, and his veracity was established at that time by
way of the miracle, and then later he became a navi sheker). However,
Rabbi Akiva's response indicates that Rabbi Yehuda HaGlili disagrees -
suggesting that, accorfing to him, HQBH might indeed deliberately create
an open miracle aimed at supporting a sheker - although I confess I am
struggling to understand this position.


Chana Luntz

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Date: Mon, 23 Dec 2002 15:54:00 -0500
From: Mlevinmd@aol.com
Adon Olam

On Mon, Dec 23, 2002 at 02:42:46AM -0500, T613K@aol.com wrote:
:> Adon olam asher molach beterem kol yetzir nivrah--He reigned [was a king]
:> even before anything was created.
:> Le'eis na'asah vecheftzo kol azai Melech shemo nikrah--but only when
:> everything was actually made--le'eis na'asah vecheftzo kol--when potential
:> (His intention, plan) was actualized, only then was He actually CALLED
:> a King (azai melech shemo NIKRAH)...

[Me: -mi]
> It doesn't say "ein niqra melekh..." but rather that there is actually
> no melekh (or Melekh).

Let me take another stab at this.

Pachad Yitzhak (Rosh Hashana 11, 2 I think) sys that Malchus presupposes
that the ruler is in the same class with the subjects; otherwise he is
called a moshel. Thus, the lion is king of animals because he is also an
animal while man is moshel over animals as he is not an animal. Therefore,
Hashem can be called Melech even before the Creation because he shares
something, a tselem Elokim, with humans who will be created later. Ein
melech blo am means that there cannot be a King without subjects but
the subjects can come into existence later. M. Levin

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Date: Mon, 23 Dec 2002 18:23:02 -0500
From: "Yosef Gavriel and Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu>
Fwd: dirah batachtonim

Just to add (VAKML!!) - the Rashab deals there with the reason someone
attributed to the Ramchal - which I believe is the reason given in Etz
Chaim (beg. of Shaar Haklolim) - and explains why (in his opinion) the DT
reason is a "truer reason". Agav, the reason of DT is alluded to inTanya
perek 36.

And see LS v 6 Shmos (2) (esp. p 17-24).
and in many other places in the Rebbe's writings.

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Date: Tue, 24 Dec 2002 19:43:12 -0600 (CST)
From: gil@aishdas.org
Re: Why are we here?

I found what I was referring to. It's a passage in RYBS's Halakhic Man.
I'm also including below an interesting diyuk R' Chaim Friedlander makes
in the language of the Ramchal on this subject.

Gil Student

"The creation of the world does not inflict any 'blemish' upon the idea
of divinity, does not infringe upon infinity; on the contrary, it is the
will of God that His /Shekhinah/, His Divine Presence, should contract
and limit itself within the realm of empirical reality... The creation
of the world is, in essence, the revelation of the will of God and is
not a manifestation of His goodness and grace.

"R. Simha Zelig, the disciple and friend of R. Hayyim, related to me
the following incident: Once he and R. Hayyim visited someone's house
in Vilna. While they were waiting for their host to appear, R. Hayyim
glanced through some works of Habad Hasidism that were lying on the table.
 The books apparently discussed the question of God's motivation in
creating the world and cited two opinions: (1) God created the world for
the sake of His goodness; (2) He created it for the sake of His grace. R.
Hayyim turned to R. Simha Zelig and with utter seriousness told him:
'Both views are incorrect, the world was created neither for the sake of
His goodness, nor for the sake of His grace but for the sake of His will.'
This view, set down by Maimonides as a firm principle in the /Guide/
[III, 13, 25] and prevalent in many forms of voluntaristic religious
and metaphysical systems -- e.g., that of Solomon ibn Gabirol in /Mekor
Hayyim/ and that of Duns Scotus (who was influenced by the former) -- is
the very seal of halakhic man. The world was created in accordance with
the will of God, who wills to contract His Divine Presence in it [65]..."

"[65] It is interesting that even Habad doctrine understood creation
from a voluntaristic standpoint. /Keter/ (the Royal Crown), which is an
"intermediary" between the Emanator and the emanations, is the supernal
will. See /Likkutei Torah/, /Song of Songs/, p. 9b, and /Likkutei
Amarim/, [/Iggeret ha-Kodesh/, chap. 17, p. 125b; chap. 20, p. 130b].
But this entire matter is of exceptional profundity."

RYBS, Halakhic Man, pp. 52-53

Compare with the following:

"Our teacher similarly mentioned that once the Gra"ch was looking at a
book of Chabad Chasidus and in it was an essay that discussed the issue
of what caused God to create the world. In [this essay] were two answers
from the books of Chasidus: 1. That God wanted kingship and there is
no king without a people; 2. The nature of the good is to bestow good.
God is good and therefore it is His will to bestow good to others.
Without a world, there is no one on whom to bestow His good. When the
Gra"ch read these words he immediately closed the book, placed it down,
and commented that we cannot even ask such a question -- what caused God
to create the world? The assumption of the question is that, chalilah,
there is something lacking in God because of which He has the will to
remedy this lacking. Words like these are not given to be said.

R' Hershel Schachter, "Mipninei Rabbeinu z"l" in Beis Yitzchak Journal
vol. 30 (5758), p. 62 [presumably republished in Mipninei HaRav]

Also, note the careful wording of Ramchal in Da'as Tevunos ch. 18:

"The Intellect said: What we can understand here is the following:
The blessed Creator is the very essence of good. This is why the Lord
created men -- so that He could bestow good upon them. For where there
is no receiver, there is no bestowal of good..."

R' Chaim Friedlander in his Iyunim ad loc. 2 writes:

"'What we can understand' -- Our understanding is limited, we cannot
obtain any understanding of His infinite essence [etzem mahuso ha-ein
sofis]. Just like every creation is limited in its essence and existence,
so too its possibility of understanding is limited and [the creation]
cannot understand the unbounded infinite or even the essence of His
thoughts and the essence of His will. Therefore, [Ramchal] emphasizes
'What we can understand', i.e. what God has revealed to us according to
our understanding..."

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Date: Tue, 24 Dec 2002 08:21:06 -0500
From: "Yosef Gavriel and Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu>
Re: Continuous Creation

At 08:24 PM 12/23/02 +0000, Micha Berger wrote:
>When we say "bishvili nivra ha'olam" we're speaking of the world in which
>we live. This is the sum of our perceptions of the world. In this sense
>each person lives in their own world. (Shades of Bishop Berkley?)

>I invite RYGB to correct my understanding of the Alter's position,
>and RSC to correct what I said about Bishop Berkley.

I do not recall this from the A of N, but it's been a long time since I
learned Madreigad Ha'Adam - about 20 years!

Kol Tuv,
ygb@aishdas.org  or  ygb@yerusalmionline.org
essays, tapes and seforim at: www.aishdas.org;
on-line Yerushalmi shiurim at www.yerushalmionline.org

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Date: Tue, 24 Dec 2002 14:33:57 GMT
From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@juno.com>
Creation Every Day

From: "Gil Student" <gil@aishdas.org>
<<"Le-oseh orim gedolim ki le-olam chasdo".
Since the assiyah is in the present tense it must mean that Hashem
continuously creates the world. But look at the whole perek. It's all
in the present tense! Even the parts about Par'oh, Sichon, the Emori,
etc. Are we to believe that these are also continuously being done?>>

I believe the Ohr Gedalyahu says that, based on the contrast between
"orim gedolim" and "hama'or hagadol", the mi'ut halevana also takes
place constantly.


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Date: Fri, 27 Dec 2002 14:23:43 GMT
From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@juno.com>
Nisayon of David Hamelech

On 107a, David Hamelech says that he could have overcome his yetzer
hara but didn't want to so as not to show that HKB"H was "wrong" in
saying he couldn't. How does this fit with his asking for a nisayon,
or what the purpose of a nisayon is?


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Date: Tue, 24 Dec 2002 00:28:49 +0200
From: "Carl and Adina Sherer" <sherer@actcom.co.il>
Follow Up on Tzedaka Question

When I got home, while the mail was downloading, I opened my copy of
Nesivos Chaim on the Chafetz Chaim. He has a brief comment on the Chafetz
Chaim (Hil. Lashon Hara, Clal 6, Haga'a to s'if 11). He says that if
the beggar does not have a chazaka as an ani, then you can refrain from
giving him money until you check - that's just being choshesh (which
you're allowed to do). He distinguishes this case from the Gemara in
Ksuvos 67b in which Rav Chanina apparently was m'kabel lashon hara on an
ani from his wife by saying that either it was a milsa d'avida l'igluyey
or that he believed her k'bei trei. The CC proves elsewhere that ne'eman
k'bei trei doesn't apply today - see Hilchos Rechilus 6:5-6.

-- Carl

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Date: Tue, 24 Dec 2002 10:32:33 +0200
From: "Ira L. Jacobson" <laser@ieee.org>
Re: tzedakah

>Our shul's policy is that that the shul (as a shul not individuals)
>gives money to anyone who comes to shul or 1-2 times. After that they
>check the person out to see if he really needs the money. I don't see
>why that is Lashon Hara to check out if a person is a fraud.

I like this idea.  But how does one implement it?

Perhaps by printing up little cards, stating, "Please sir, give me your
name, address and ID number.  And the name of some references who will
vouch for your need.

"And please stick around until after Oleynu, so that we can talk."

[Email #2 -mi]

>But I think RET's problem was not with when the man came to ask but
>what he did with the money. If he asked at an appropriate time (e.g.
>during Psukei d'Zimra) I don't think that would be an issue.

The issue _then_ might be, "How come you're speaking between Borukh
she'omar and Yishtabah?"


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Date: Tue, 24 Dec 2002 23:10:55 +0200
From: S Goldstein <goldstin@netvision.net.il>
loshon hora

> On Fri, Dec 20, 2002 at 03:16:40PM +0200, Carl and Adina Sherer wrote:
RCS> : I would think that believing the social services department (to stop
> : giving him money altogether) would be Kabbolas Lashon Hara...

> But as there is a real to'eles, why not?
> Awaiting your mar'eh maqom in the CC,

Hilchos Lashon Hara Klal 6, the Haga'a at the end of s'if 11. With
thanks to my neighbor RYP who found it for me. >>

Also see end of Klal 7 for several svaros lhakel that could be applicable:
1. msiach lfi tumo [depending how the social worker was asked] this is
a tzorech iyun of CC if it is a sufficient reason, by itself, to matir
kabbalos lashon hara 2. avidei lgluyei-- here the description was of a
drunk. If he is a public drunk, this svara should apply. In CC(Klal 6)
someone merely asserts that the beggar is not poor without an accompanying
story that is easily verified

Perhaps in this case lo mara umnoseihu would also be a svara lhakel.
Even though this I did NOT find in CC, perhaps it is still true. V'ein
lomar that in the times of CC there was no such thing as a paid community
social worker, because this is Reb Chaim Brisker's definition of a rav.

Shlomo Goldstein

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Date: Thu, 26 Dec 2002 18:43:01 GMT
From: Gershon Dubin <gershon.dubin@juno.com>
double galuyos

I recently saw a statement that all our galuyos are double: Bavel/Kasdim,
Paras/Madai, Yavan/Macedon, and Edom/Yishmael. It might have been in
Ohr Gedalyahu, but I cannot locate the source their or think where else
it might be.



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Date: Tue, 24 Dec 2002 00:28:37 +0200
From: "Carl and Adina Sherer" <sherer@actcom.co.il>
Re: copyright law

On 23 Dec 2002 at 15:11, Shinnar, Meir wrote:
> If a book is out of print, are there halachic/American legal
> considerations that would prevent me froom xeroxing a book for my
> personal use (not for commercial purposes), as I am unable to properly
> purchase the book and therefore the copyright owner is not losing
> financially???

I don't know the answers, but I can tell you where to look. One of
the Weissfish clan (well known Yerushalmi family) published a sefer
on copyright law al pi halacha about six months ago.

-- 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.

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Date: Tue, 24 Dec 2002 19:02:57 +0200
From: Zoo Torah <zoorabbi@zootorah.com>
Animal suffering

Rebbetzn Toby Katz raised the question of how we explain animal suffering.
This is a very difficult problem that I have been researching for a while.
To my great surprise, it is not widely discussed in Torah literature, even
though it is far more difficult to explain than human suffering (because
most of the explanations for human suffering do not apply to animals).

R' Saadiah Gaon (in Emunos VeDayos, end of chap. 3), Rabbi Shmuel ben
Hofni (in Teshuvos HaGeonim, Harkanay edition, no. 375, p. 191), R'
Sherira Gaon and R' Gaon state that God's reward and compensation to
animals for the pain that they endure in this world is given to them in
the afterlife. However, it seems that Rambam (Moreh 3:17), and mainstream
Torah opinion, disagrees.

The Kuzari discusses the harshness of life in the animal kingdom in the
context of describing the wonder of its design:

"See how wonderfully conceived is the nature of the creatures, how many
marvelous gifts they possess which show forth the intention of an all-wise
Creator, and the will of an omniscient all-powerful Being. He has endowed
the small and the great with all necessary internal and external senses
and limbs. He gave them organs corresponding to their instincts. He gave
the hare and the stag the means of flight required by their timid nature;
endowed the lion with ferocity and with the instruments for robbing and
tearing. He who considers the formation, use, and relation of the limbs
to the animal instinct, sees wisdom in them and so perfect an arrangement
that no doubt or uncertainty can remain in his soul concerning the justice
of the Creator. When an evil thought suggests that there is injustice
in the circumstance that the hare falls prey to the lion or the wolf,
and the fly to the spider, reason warns him as follows: How can I charge
the All-Wise with injustice when I am convinced of His justice, and
that injustice is quite out of the question? If the lion's pursuit of
the hare and the spider of the fly were mere accidents, I should have to
assert the necessity of accident. I see, however, that the wise and just
Manager of the world equipped the lion with the means for hunting, with
ferocity, strength, teeth and claws; that He furnished the spider with
cunning and taught it to weave a net which it constructs without having
learned to do so; how He equipped it with the instruments required and
appointed the fly as its food, just as many fish serve other fish for
food. Can I say anything but that this is the fruit of a wisdom which
I am unable to grasp, and that I must submit to Him Who is called "The
Rock Whose doing is perfect"? " (The Kuzari, part III)

Rather than give an explanation, he states that since there is an a priori
awareness that G-d created the universe and is just, and that animals
are clearly designed to eat one another, then predation must therefore
be planned, and it must be the product of a justice that is beyond our
comprehension. Like the mystery of human suffering, the suffering of the
animal kingdom is one of the ultimate, unknowable mysteries of creation.

The Chazon Ish gives more of an explanation, although one that is
nevertheless still somewhat cryptic:

"Animals are of utility to man... They were created as different kinds and
as many species, and the food of each is different. People do not benefit
from some of them, such as predatory animals, and snakes, and vermin, and
insects; however they possess sublime necessity and benefit. Sometimes man
is punished by way of them, and sometimes man learns wisdom and ethics
from them. We are already used to their existence, and we feel that
without them the world would be lacking, and the world is not beautiful
and perfect except when there are predatory animals in it." (Emunah
U'bitachon 1:7)

Rabbi Karelitz seems to be saying that the harshness of nature,
demonstrated by predatory animals, is part and parcel of the overall
grand tapestry of creation. "We feel that without them the world would
be lacking, and the world is not beautiful and perfect except when there
are predatory animals in it." Mankind somehow intuitively understands
that it is part of a greater good.

This answer is far from satisfactory, but it's the best I came
up with. Also see R' Moshe Eisemann's commentary to Iyov (ArtScroll,
but not the usual ArtScroll!) on chapter 40. If anyone has any other
thoughts on this topic, I would love to hear them. As a zoorabbi, I get
asked this question quite often!

kol tuv,
Natan Slifkin

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Date: Tue, 24 Dec 2002 15:21:02 -0500
From: Mlevinmd@aol.com

IN regard to why the shvotim were concerned about animals.
See Rashi Bmidbar 32, 16

It seems natural to care for one's animals, especially in a pastoral
society where they are not pets but almost mambers of household.
M. Levin

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Date: Mon, 30 Dec 2002 12:47:46 -0500
From: David Riceman <dr@insight.att.com>
lab meat

See <http://www.newscientist.com/news/news.jsp?id=ns99993208> that
they're working on growing meat (after slaughter) in the lab. I can't,
at first glance, think of any halachic problems (as long as the original
shechitah was OK).

Am I missing something?

David Riceman

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Date: Thu, 2 Jan 2003 16:33:57 GMT
From: Eli Turkel <turkel@math.tau.ac.il>
R. Zilberstein

Just returned form a shiur of RZ on the case of a woman who wants to
get pregnant though it is very dangerous for her because of an illness
she has.

As usual he brings many stories 2 of which I am repeating here.

1. Once at a sight of a pigua on Jerusalem on shabbat ROY met the minister
of health (RZ didn't know which minister). He asked the minister how
he got there and the minister added he had walked a great distance. On
the spot ROY paskened that next time he should arrange for a nonJewish
driver to bring him (not outside the techum). He said that the presence
of the minister encourages both the victims and the emergency crew and
so is allowed under pikuach nefesh. RZ thought it was a very clever psak.

2. In several cases it was a question of what is classified as a
shoteh according to halacha. RZ was fairly wide in his definition but
mentioned that in many conversations R. Eliyashiv severly limited the
definition. In particular a woman with a very limited IQ who can't take
care of the house and allowed strangers into her home and was raped was
classified as a bari (as RE said not yet ready for a dayan but not a
shoteh) because she could carry on minimal tasks. In particular she has
the halachic daat to marry. Similarly a child with Downs is classified
as a bari if he can do easy shopping and knows the fundamentals of
money. Hence, he counts for a minyan and a variety of other motzvot.

There was a story of someone who blew shofar and said the beracha on
tefillin. RZ wanted to pasken that such a person would be a shoteh.
R. Eliyashiv's atitude was ,- nu so he got mixed up no big deal.

 Prof. Eli Turkel,  turkel@post.tau.ac.il on 01/02/2003
Department of Mathematics, Tel Aviv University

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Date: Tue, 24 Dec 2002 23:47:47 +0200
From: S Goldstein <goldstin@netvision.net.il>
11 on the rope

<<Eleven people are on a rope hanging out of a plane. The rope will break
if there are more than ten people hanging, killing all. What to do?>>

See Pesachim 50a harugei Lud--It is permitted, though not obligatory,
to jump to save the other Jews.

L'chora, the last guy on the rope is singled out to be pushed off by
the others. Yet this seems prohibitted as murder. See Rema YD 157:1
and Pischei Tshuva bshem Shut Panim Meiros.

Shlomo Goldstein

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Date: Wed, 25 Dec 2002 09:24:50 -0500
From: kennethgmiller@juno.com
inedible olive oil (was Re: women and neros chanukah)

In Avodah 70, R' Carl Sherer wrote: <<< This is the minhag of most
Yerushalmim (except that they use oil and this year a lot of people are
being mehader to use edible oil which is apparently based on a Chazon
Ish). >>>

And in Avodah 76: <<< There were two grades of olive oil sold here and
the difference between them (aside from the price :-) was whether they
met the CI standard. >>>

I'm trying to visualize what is meant by *inedible* olive oil. Here in
NJ, I would not know where to get olive oil other than a supermarket or
(during Kislev) seforim store. The oil in the supermarket varies widely
in price and guality, but I doubt that even the very worst would be
inedible. (If it were, I'd hope the gov't would take it off the shelves.)

The olive oil sold in USA seforim stores might be inedible, but with
prices that rival or pass the most expensive of the supermarket oils,
I've never bothered to look īnto it. Is it possible that the seforim
stores in Eretz Yisrael have been selling olive oil which is so cheap
as to be inedible?

Akiva Miller

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Date: Wed, 25 Dec 2002 17:27:31 +0000
From: Chana Luntz <Chana@KolSassoon.net>
Re: Response re Genetics

In message , sbechhof@casbah.it.northwestern.edu writes
>Here is the Rav's response:
>> Looks to me like there are slight variences in darkness and lightness of
>> shade, but not a change in color from brown to blue or blue to brown.
>> Eye color is only one method of gene detection.  There are many more
>> sophisticated methods particularly with regard to blood types etc.  The
>> general idea is the same, one can only get the genes from the parents.  If a
>> gene absent from both parents appears in her offspring, it had to come from
>> another source.

Sounds like the Rav is denying the possibility of spontaneous genetic

When you think about it, there is more than one issue raised by this

The first relates specifically to eye colour, the second relates to
whether every gene or part of a gene in a person has to be identical to
their parents and the third relates to "more sophisticated methods".

Regarding eye colour - perhaps some doctors can provide more information,
but is not albinism a known medical condition in which people (or animals)
are born with (or develop) an absence of the normal skin (fur) coloration.
I believe the condition when present at birth often goes along with blue
eyes (it certainly does in animals) regardless of the ethnic origin of
the person. If you can have a medical condition that interferes with
the production of the expected colour in a person's eyes, then I would
be sceptical about eye colour use as a test for paternity.

Regarding spontaneous mutation (or the lack of it), I don't think the
Rav will be able to find any doctor who would agree with the position
that every gene or part thereof has to be sourced from a parent.
He is also, BTW, if holding such a position, stating that my oldest
son is a mamzer. We have genetic tests that show that my son David
has a deletion at the juncture between exon 3 and exon 4 of one of his
LIS1 genes on chromosome 17, a deletion that is not found in either my
husband or myself. Deletions in the LIS1 gene of this nature are known
to cause lissencephaly, the serious brain condition that my son has.
They are, at least by the medical profession, regarded as de novo (i.e.
spontaneous, new) mutations. My son's condition is serious, and hence
it is extremely unlikely that he will be able to pass on his condition
to any children. However, just as there highly destructive new mutations,
such as my son's, there are benign forms (at least the medical profession
believes as much), - any of you could be carrying such, which nobody
is going to bother to test for or worry about. A mutation that merely
affects eye colour would seem to fall into that category and does not
sound improbable to me.

Regarding more sophisticated methods - this is what we were discussing
initially - paternity tests are based on "more sophisticated methods",
that is why they are regarded as being as accurate as they are generally
regarded, i.e. they presumably take into account the fact that there are
spontaneous mutations, but very limited ones, in looking at the overall
data. The references to paternity tests, at least in court literature,
seems to be in the form of probabilistic statements, i.e. from the test
it is one in X million (or billion or whatever small number) that Y was
not the father of Z. Presumably the more gene sequencing you do, the
more accurate that figure becomes, but I also assume that they phrase
it that way because of the remote possibility (even if it is so remote
that it can be ignored) that the situation is otherwise.


Chana Luntz

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Date: Sun, 29 Dec 2002 18:27:48 -0500
From: "Yosef Gavriel and Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <sbechhof@casbah.acns.nwu.edu>
Response re Genetics, from the respected Rav

At 12:47 PM 12/26/02 -0600 Respected Rav wrote:
>Now, I misread in haste what Chana was saying.
>Of course there are mutations.  There are even reliable statistics as to the
>rate of mutations in humans, and various species of animals.  However,
>mutations that will affect eye color (aside from albinism, which is a
>special case and which can be noted by the many other symptoms that appear
>along with the color of the eye) would need to be highly specific and of
>such little chance that it can be virtually ignored.  It would be similar to
>the chance that someone, out of nowhere, appeared on the scene with green
>color fingernails- a mutation that might happen, but is highly unlikely.
>When the chance of mutation is measure by one chance in many billions or
>trillions, and the incidence of adultery is one chance, in say, 1000, then I
>am quite sure that halacha, in other words that the chance of adultery being
>the cause of the eye color is millions of times higher than the chance of it
>being by spontaneous mutations, then I am quite certain that we would have
>to deem the child as a mamzer (unless we are permitted to take artificial
>insemination as a possibility al pi R. Moshe z"l and others who hold that
>such a child is not a mamzer).
>In cases where the only explanation for the abnormality is genetic
>mutations-such as in Chana's case, then obviously that will be the answer.
>Mutations, as a whole, do occur.
>If a case were to come up that two blue eyed parents had a brown eyed child,
>we would likely go to a geneticist to determine the chances that such an
>occurrence could be due to spontaneous mutation, and if it were to prove, as
>I understand it to be, only one chance is a billion or so, then what I said
>should stand.
>However, there are Poskim (especially in Eretz Yisroel ) who are ignorant of
>the laws of genetics and are still accepting  the Ramban (parshas v'yetze, I
>believe) that the thought of the parents at the time of conception will
>affect the appearance of the offspring.  These poskim will say that the
>thought of the parents of having a brown eyed child is the cause of the eye
>color, and they will rule that the child is not a mamzer.   I assume that
>this opinion will be the majority opinion and my views here will not count.

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