Avodah Mailing List

Volume 12 : Number 026

Friday, October 24 2003

< Previous Next >
Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Fri, 24 Oct 2003 18:47:25 +0000
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Basics for Philisophical discussions

RYGB wrote:
> Basically,  what you are saying is that one can allegorize anything
> that will not alter  halacha but not what does affect halacha. Huh?
> Then in essence you are only  restraining yourself at that point
> arbitrarily. Is this even intellectually  honest?

The basic problem is one of reliabilism. To translate: One has a
justified belief that something is true if, and only if, the belief is
the result of a reliable process. And therefore lehefech, once you
accept it is true, you are implicitly accepting that the process is

Accepting that the mesorah works for things that impact halakhah
implies that one considers the mesorah reliable. In which case, how
can one not accept its statements on issues that don't impact

To be frank, the only thing I heard until v12n23 from the other side
on this debate is a loyalty to halakhah and its lifestyle and
community. That would imply that one has no problem dismissing the
reliability of mesorah, because the process one is using for
justification is not mesorah but loyalty.

It is to this that RYBS is responding -- no reason has been given for
believing in yetzi'as Mitzrayim if one believes that archeology has
overhwelmingly greater weight than mesorah in determining history.

A less cynicism-inviting approach is to consider "mesorah" a homonym
that refers to two different processes. Then, one has to explain how
the two differ and when each applies.

For example Rt Shoshana L. Boublil's position:
> The distinguishing feature is the question of revelation. The mabul
> as a geographical event is described in broad strokes. The
> revelation involved is personal -- between Hashem and Noach...

> Yetzi'as Mitzrayim is a public revelation which encompassed
> thousands of humans....

It appears that to RtSLB, real mesorah is only that for which the
Kuzari proof works. Things transmitted via the same channels but were
not initially established in that way may be questioned.

BTW, we've discussed the Kuzari proof in the past. It doesn't work because
it doesn't take into account the slow growth of a story around a core of
facts (which is what most koferim believe happened to yetzi'as mitzrayim),
or the slow progression from fairy tale, to story, to legend, to history
(their take on the early parshiyos). There are also counterproofs, other
cultures that believe that their ancestors all experienced some miracle.
It is also not what the Rihal actually wrote, IMHO. (RSCarmy said he'd
took a look at it but the subject fell through the cracks.) The Kuzari
speaks in terms of tradition being superior to philosophical proof,
not turning tradition into a philosophical proof.

But back to the subject of reliabilism and mesorah... R Arie Folger
wrote in reply to RYGB's post:
> You read the text of the Torah, and see how heavily the Torah
> leans on any particular difficult passage, and see how much you
> would alter the internal coherrence by reinterpreting something.
> Perhaps I didn't do a good enough job of describing the method, but
> I don't think that it fails the intellectual honesty test.

RAF seems to take a more gradual approach rather than a yes-or-no
division with a clear line in-between. The reliability of mesorah is
imperfect, but large. Therefore, if the idea impacts much of mesorah,
the compounded effect is that of a reliable system.

I intentionally speak about "mesorah" rather than "allegorizing the
text" because to me the process is the entire Torah, TSBK and TSBP,
and therefore allegorizing the text where chazal found reason to do so
for TSBP purposes is within the process, not an adjustment or
challenge to it.

On Fri, Oct 24, 2003 at 11:29:34AM -0400, Kenneth G Miller wrote:
: What about the Chazals which state that Eretz Yisrael was not flooded?
: Doesn't this give us an opening to suggest that the story was at least
: partially allegorical? To say that perhaps other lands were spared as
: well? Or to at least say that some people were in EY and thereby survived
: the flood?

If that is why you feel comfortable taking that approach, I have no
problem. If someone feels comfortable and this is merely a post hfacto
feather in the camp, I would.

My issue is with the epistomology, not the mabul.

I also have problems with epistomologies that reject beliefs because they
will turn off people. That makes them more difficult to live with, not
necessarily less true.

Hgowever, my position is NOT to reject the archeology when it conflicts
with Torah, nor to reject the Torah (as informed by TSBP and observations
about "darsheini"). Rather, that both must be dealt with, and retreat
on either front is wrong. What I reject is that the contradiction is real.
I have full faith that I'll be shown that our understanding of one or the
other is wrong in some way, and that when properly understood there is
not contradiction.

Perhaps, as RAM points out, it's that the mesorah does allow for the
possiblity. Perhaps the archeological data is misinterpreted. For now,
I simply live with the question.


Micha Berger             "And you shall love H' your G-d with your whole
micha@aishdas.org        heart, your entire soul, and all you own."
http://www.aishdas.org   Love is not two who look at each other,
Fax: (413) 403-9905      It is two who look in the same direction.

Go to top.

Date: Fri, 24 Oct 2003 08:22:36 +0200
From: Arie Folger <afolger@aishdas.org>
Re: Contiguity in Krias Hatorah

RER wrote:
> There are good reasons for all these choices, but is the contiguity
> a coincidence?

IIRC, the reading on the holidays (we'll exclude 9 Av here) comes from
Neviim (at the latest in Ezra's tiem). The weekly reading is from much
later, especially since the 3 year cycle seems to have been common once
upon a time. Thus, yes, this seems a coincidence. (all this IMO)

Arie Folger

Go to top.

Date: Fri, 24 Oct 2003 07:58:37 -0700
From: "Newman,Saul Z" <Saul.Z.Newman@kp.org>
no samech in perek alef


Go to top.

Date: Fri, 24 Oct 2003 13:44:56 +0200 (IST)
From: eli turkel <turkel@post.tau.ac.il>
morid hagashem

In a shiur I heard today from R. Abraham Yosef he claimes that in South
America (Argentina & Brazil) Morid haTal is said all year round because
of the diffrence in seasons and the abundance of water. If a farmer needs
rain he adds it in Shomea Tefilla. Asked about Australia he claimed that
there is some overlap of seasons with Israel and so the regular set of
berachot are used.

He also mentioned a teshuva by his brother R. David Yosef (unpublished
so far) disagreeing with the psak for SA.

Anyone on the list live in these countries and know more?

kol tuv,
Eli Turkel

Go to top.

Date: Fri, 24 Oct 2003 13:47:52 +0200 (IST)
From: eli turkel <turkel@post.tau.ac.il>
Nusach Ari

In R. Avaraham Yosef's shiur he mentioned that none of the siddurin
today are truly Nusach Ari. In particular according the writings of the
ARI the nusach for Borech Olenu or Borchenu is like Nusach Sefard and
not like Nusach Askenaz or Chabad which claims to be Nusach Ari but has
ashkenaz changes to it.

Eli Turkel

Go to top.

Date: Fri, 24 Oct 2003 13:36:03 -0500 (CDT)
From: gil@aishdas.org
Re: Hashgocah Protis - Sifsei Chaim's view of Gra

Let's start over from the beginning.

HP is Hashem intervening in the world. According to the Rambam, HP exists
in a limited form. Those who do not receive HP, including any individual
animal, are left to "mikreh", a term whose standard meaning is chance.
This is not Hashem directing through indirect means but is nature, with
its rules and randomness. You can call this indirect providence but then
you have to find a new term for what I am about to describe.

According to the Gra, the world consists of direct and indirect
providence. Direct providence is Hashem using nisim geluyim to intervene
in the world. Indirect providence is Hashem using nisim nistarim,
rewarding and punishing using nature to hide miracles. There is no
"mikreh", and "teva" is not *only* based on pre-determined rules.
Hashem may use "teva" as a means through which to reward or punish. And,
importantly, this applies to both people and animals. Individual animals
receive indirect providence!

This can all be seen in the second quote from the Gra that the Sifsei
Chaim brings.

Does the Gra hold the same as the Besht? I don't know. But he does not
hold the same as the Rambam unless you interpret the Rambam in a mystical
way and say that when he refers to "mikreh" he is really referring to
the hidden hand of God (as the SC, in fact, does).

Gil Student

Go to top.

Date: Fri, 24 Oct 2003 15:30:15 +0200
From: Daniel Eidensohn <yadmoshe@012.net.il>
Re: Hashgocha Pratis - finale

The nature of what you think we are disagreeing about seems to be shifting
so I'd like to nail down what the issues are.

Pedagogic issues:
1. Is there a requirment to teach the full range of orthodox views on
a particular issue?
2. If there is such a requirement what is the basis. Is it because of
an identifiable sevora such as intellectual honesty. [see introduction to
Moreh Nevuchim]
3. Is this requirement applicable only to people like ourselves who are 
not on a high level but big people only teach what they believe?

"But I do not know mi ya'aleh lanu ha'shomyma -
who will go up for us to Heaven to ascertain if God acts accordingly!"

4. If there  is an exemption for the big people because they surely know 
what is in Heaven then shouldn't it also apply to their talmidim? If not 
why should a talmid have to teach differently then his rebbe?
5. Does a person who has a clear  mesora on a particular issue need to 
teach views he doesn't ascribe to or are not part of his mesorah. In 
other worlds does a litvak have to teach the chassidic view and does a 
chassid have to teach the litvak viewpoint. This is not dealing what a 
specific issue but rather the package that is associated with a 
particular group.
6. Why do we find a consistent and universal pattern of teachers 
presenting views that they themselves hold and that they want their 
students to accept. Where is the precedent amongst acknowledged gedolim, 
rebbe's and rosh yeshivos to teach as you require?

Hashkofa issues:
1. What is hashgocha protis? Does it apply only to man? Has G-d allowed 
an independent process known as nature, mazel or  accident?
2. Did the Baal Shem introduce a new understanding?
3. If the Besht innovated - where are the sources that state such a fact
4. If there is a clear agreement that the Besht's view is correct why do 
we find that major seforim such as Michtav M'Eliayu, Sifsei chachomim 
etc don't mention it at all?\\
5. Why do we find that even amongst chassidic seforim that supposedly 
accept the view of the Besht that they at times cite the view of the 
Rishonim without indicating there is a dispute?
6. Why is Chabad apparently the only source that clearly states that the 
Besht innovated a new understanding of HP and that this is his biggest 
7. Why - since R' Prof Levi is acknowledged by both of us as a great 
scholar and a man of strong integrity - cite the view of the Besht in 
the name of other more ancient sources. Why if the Besht's view has been 
accepted today as the understanding would R' Levi suggest his own 
alternative view of HP ?

Yosef Gavriel & Shoshanah M. Bechhofer wrote:

>RDE, because he is writing a work which ignores the Chassidic viewpoint -
>an intellectually dishonest approach, in my opinion - assumed that Rabbi
>Levi also ignored the Chassidic approach, and that I was objecting to
>the omission.

If what I am doing is intellectually dishonest - I have a lot of very 
distinguished company in that practice. On the other hand aside from you 
and the academic Jewish study programs I don't know of anyone who 
insists there is a requirement to present all views on hashkofa issues.

>I have no monopoly, but you are not a scholar or saint of sufficient
>standing (nor am I) to determine who is right, who is wrong, which view
>should be presented, which should not, nor certainly to present your
>own view.

As I have been repeatedly saying - I am not presenting my own view but 
that which I have been taught in yeshiva, heard from gedolei Torah and 
have studied in seforim such as Michtav M'Eliyahu. I am  merely a 
student  - a collector of already existing material- not a gadol or 
innovator - and have never once asserted otherwise. I simply don't 
understand how you exempt Rav Dessler from being "intellectually honest" 
and yet criticize me for accepting and repeating his teachings!

>>Why? Your telegraphic sentences are not useful in educational dialogue.
>>I am willing to be educated and be shown the error of my ways - but I
>>do have a problem with criticisms that simply keep repeating "your wrong
>>and I am right".

>I cited numerous other sources that held as Chabad does.

I have yet to see a single source that states as Chabad that the Besht 
introduced a new view, that this differed from that of the Rishonim, and 
that this innovation is now the universally accepted view of HP. Perhaps 
you should ask your uncle R' Immanuel Schochet whether there are any 
other sources that say what Chabad does about this issue.

>>>A casual DBS search on HP yields august thinkers -
>>>including the Ramchal,

>>Are you saying that the Ramchal had the view of the Besht?! His statements
>>in Derech HaShem do not support that.

>But his statement in Da'as Tevunos does...

This is a double problem - if the Besht introduced this concept - how 
could the Ramchal be holding it before him? If the Ramchal held by it 
then why does he specifically reject it in Derech HaShem?

>You are not ignorant and therefore cannot be educated. You are aware of
>other shittos and deliberately choose to ignore them. I think that is
>wrong. You think it is right. It is as simple as that.

I agree - it is as simple  as that.

                Daniel Eidensohn

Go to top.

Date: Fri, 24 Oct 2003 06:40:01 -0700 (PDT)
From: Harry Maryles <hmaryles@yahoo.com>
Re: new birth control?

Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org> wrote:
>>>> Of course it does. If a car doesn't have a motor, is it still a
>>> car?

>>> And if semen doesn't have sperm, it could still be zera!

>> ??? You're answer seems to indicate that a car is still a car even
>> without a motor. IMHO a car without a motor is not a car at all.

> I assumed you heard what you yourself wrote. If a *what* doesn't have
> a motor? Yes, we still use the word car.

OK. I used the word "car" to identify an entity that wasn't technically a
car. But that was only for lack of another term to describe that entity. A
car is a concept, not a percept defined as vehicle that has the ablity
to be driven. Without a motor that would be impossible, Hence such an
object may LOOK like a car but in fact is NOT a car. Halachic language
requires word defintions to be as precise as possible.

Your assertion that word usage is enough leaves too much room for error. I
therefore suggest that when Chazal used the word Zera, they believed
semen (which is all they saw and knew about scietificly in their day)
to be THE procreative material in its entirety. They had no idea that
it was an item contained within the substance they called Zera that was
actually the procrerative material.

It is my contention that had they known about sperm and recognized that
it is SPERM and not its medium, semen , which is the procreative material,
they would have called sperm Zera, and would have called semen... perhaps
Maya B'alma. Now if sperm could only exist while in its medium of semen,
than I might agree with you and say that since sperm requires semen to
exist, it is unreasonable to seperate the entity Halachicly. But we know
that sperm can exist outside its orignal medium of semen. Your entire
argument seems to be one of common language usage. I submit that when it
comes to Halacha language needs to be more precise and during Chazal's
era, Semen as Zera, was as precise as they knew about.

>> Science informs Halacha which is precisely my point.

> No, your point is that since science now focusses on only one part of
> semen, so ought halachah.

Which is the same thing as saying that science ought inform Halacha.
If Halacha defines Zera as that which has procreative ability then once
we have refined our knowledge of "that which has procreative ability"
so too must Halacha. It isn't science "driving" Halacha. It is refining
and applying Halacha to the newly discovered facts.

> R Akiva Miller wrote:

>> The conclusion was that only the "beginnings" of the zera is
>> capable of producing a child, and not the later drippings.

>> If the above is accurate, then it would seem that Chazal WERE aware
>> of a distinction between "zera which is capable of producing a
>> child" and "zera which is *not* capable of producing a child" --
>> even if they has no concept of the difference between "semen" and
>> "sperm".

>> If so, that would support RHM's contention as I quoted him above.

> It supports his maskanah, but not his sevrah. Thereby also avoiding
> my complaint. (Chazal's) definition is functional, not based on the
> microscopic. The chalos is on the potential for reproduction, an
> attribute of an experiencably sized entity.

...Chazal's experience. That precluded the aid of the non extant
microscope which I contend would have refined their definition of Zera.

> As a lignuistic side note: If RAM does recall correctly, it's "*zera*
> which is not cabable of producing a child". The word is used despite
> the incapacity. As the norm with words: based on usual function, not
> the actual function of this particular.

This sounds something like the "Lashan Bnei Adam" principle. I do
not think Lashan Bnei Adam is a good way to Paskin because it is too
vague. Chazal would not be that imprecise if they knew the issues
more precisely than what was the scientific knowledge of their day.
Psak Halacha demands as much precision as possible.


Go to top.

Date: Fri, 24 Oct 2003 09:05:04 -0400
From: "Shinnar, Meir" <Meir.Shinnar@rwjuh.edu>
RE: Rambam and creation

RGS cites:
> R' Yosef Qafah, Hilchos Teshuvah ch. 3 n. 35:

> "It is clear that our master's intent is against Plato's view, as he
> summarized in Moreh Nevuchim part 2 ch. 13, that the "hylic" matter was
> always in existence and its presence is logically necessary from the
> existence of God. From it He formed and made all of existence. Therefore,
> our master was careful to write "tzur", as our master defined as "the
> foundation of everything and its source" in Moreh Nevuchim part 1 ch. 16.

> In Plato's view, God is not (chalilah) a "creator" but a "former" meaning
> one who formed something from something, an outliner and establisher of
> form, as our master defined in Moreh Nevuchim part 2 ch. 30. Even more
> so are our master's words against Aristotle's view..."

WADR to rav Qafah, I found his reliance on tzur puzzling - as the
definition of tzur in the MN is perfectly consistent with the logical
causation/priority a la Aristotle or Plato - in R Qafah's translation (MN
1:16) of why hashem is called tzur "ki hu hamotza vehasiba haosa lakol ma
shezulato" - in MN 2:13 it is explicit that hashem is "sibbat metziuto"
(of the hylic substance.

Remember, that simple pshat is
1) Mishne Tora and original perush hamishnayot are consistent with any
of the 3 positions - as the rambam himself says that in his hibburim
hatalmudim he writes according to the Aristotelian viewpoint, to make
them as broadly applicable as possible

2) Moreh Nevuchim is not so clear - but clearly endorses both briah and
Platonism as acceptable, views briah as closer to mesora (therefore,
other things being equal), in some statements suggests Aristotle might
be acceptable, in others rejects him as completely unacceptable to
the mesora.

In his later gloss on the perush hamishnayot, it seems that he wants to
emphasize the latter part - that in spite of the perush hamishnayot and
the Mishne Torah written in an Aristotle friendly approach, Aristotle
is not acceptable.

> Marvin Fox, InterpretinMaimonides p. 252:

> "So strong was Maimonides' conviction on this point, **at least in the
> period of his maturity**, that he regularly reaffirmed his view that
> belief in creation out of nothing is a fundamental article of faith, and
> he treated it as a valid criterion for determining whether an individual
> should be considered a member of the religious community of Israel or not.
> He made a special point of restating this doctrine explicitly, and with
> great force, in a number of works that appeared after the Guide of the
> Perplexed. He may well have been concerned that his discussion in the
> Guide was so intricate that its true point might be missed by all but
> the most sophisticated readers. To make certain that there would be no
> error or confusion about his actual teaching, he stressed repeatedly in
> his later writings that creation is a fundamental article of faith."

R M FOx is an important opinion in support of my position - (I am truly
surprised at RGS - he must have read the entire chapter).he is very
explicit in his work that he believes that while the rambam rejected
Aristotle by himself, he remained unsettled between different options,
and combined features. HOwever, the rambam never rejected Plato, even
though he didn't embrace him, because it wasn't convincing. To cite the
end of the chapter from which the above quote appears (p 296)

Maimonides has no objection to the content of the Platonic theory.
In fact, he admits openly that it can serve both philosophy and religion

> (fourth principle)

> "Ve-da ki ha-yesod ha-gadol shel Toras Moshe Rabbeinu hu heyos ha-olam
> mechudash, yetzaro H' u-vera'o achar he-he'ader ha-muchlat. Ve-zeh
> she-tireh she-ani sovev saviv inyan kadmus ha-olam le-fi da'as
> ha-philosophim hu kedei she-yehei ha-mofes ha-muchlat al metzi'uso
> yisaleh kemo she-bi'arti u-virarti be-moreh."

WRT to the world being mechudash - see MN 2:25 - ki illu hochach hahiddush
veafilu lefi hashkafat Aplaton haya nofel ko ma sheheezu bo haphilosophim
negdenu. Vechen illu nitkayma lahem hochacha al hakadmut kefi hashkafat
aristo hayta nofelet kol hatora veya'avor hadaver lehashkafot acherot
- very consistent in language and meaning with the above. Notice that
Plato is categorized as supporting hahiddush..

Meir Shinnar

Go to top.

Date: Fri, 24 Oct 2003 11:10:17 -0400
From: Mlevinmd@aol.com

> That is the problem with those who stop abruptly at the mashal of the
> Kabbalistic model and forget that there is a nimshal behind it.

I do not believe that Chabad saw Kabbala as a moshol only. There are
three approaches to this (I follow tthe summary of the newly multilevel
published commentary on Orshos Chaim in teh introduction):

1. Ramchal, and according to some Gro: ari's writings are all a
moshol. The problem with that is that he writes about right and left
and etc and often it only makes sense if taken literally

2. We don't know what it all means but should study it exactly as
transmitted and not attempt to substitute our feeble understanding for
what the Ari actually wrote - R. Elaishiv in Leshen Shva V' Ohlima

3. What is imprtant is the Kavonos and the devotional life according to
Ari's Kavonos - Rashash.

I really do not believe that Chabad viewed things as Ramchal did. I think
that they fell more into the 2nd group but added Besht's ideas and some
of their own.

M. Levin

Go to top.

Date: Fri, 24 Oct 2003 11:28:53 -0400 (EDT)
From: "Jonathan Baker" <jjbaker@panix.com>
Re: Rambam and creation

OK, I looked at "Uncle Immanuel's" book, and if you substitute "Light of
the En Sof" for "God-stuff", you have exactly what I said.

Go to top.

Date: Fri, 24 Oct 2003 09:58:19 -0400 (EDT)
From: "Micha Berger" <micha@aishdas.org>
Rambam and Creation

(I am going to get to something Jewish, if you bear with me.)

In relational algebra, the theory behind relational dabases (the more
common sort of database in use today), there are distinct concepts of 0,
NULL and uninitialized.

Let's say I have a field called "mass". For the entry titled (ie:
primary index equals) "1 cc of vacuum", the value would be 0. For the
entry titled "Beethoven's 5th Symphony", the value would be NULL --
there is no meaningful way to discuss the mass of music in any literal
sense of the word. The entry titled "Michael D. Landis" I would have to
leave uninitialized.

(Unfortunately real relational database servers use null for both
"meaningless" and "uninitialized". Which means that you have to either
live with the ambiguity, or design really normalized by slow databases
in which things that can have mass are represented with an extra table
to hold the mass.)

Now, on to religion. I made this point recently on Avodah, where we
are discussing theories in which the universe had no begining. Yes,
there were opinions of that sort suggested by rishonim. That the week of
creation was the formation of the world from preexistant matter. In the
Tanya (Chabad's founder's magnum opus), existance is the illusion that
we are distinct entities from G-d, and creation is a kind of formation
from preexisting G-d-stuff (for want of a better word).

Aristotle believed that matter was a distinct eternal entity, external
from G-d. Maimonides rejects this theory both on religious grounds and
because if this were so, there would be no useful forms left. In modern
terms, we would say that if the universe were infinitely old, entropy
would be total.

Someone on Avodah argued that this notion of matter implied dualism;
making matter as eternal as G-d. My response, cast into the terms I just
defined, was that G-d's age is NULL, not infinite.

For similar reasons we can reject Plato's position. He believed that
G-d emanates the universe. (To define "emanate": Fire emanates light
and heat. It exudes without actively making -- as far as Plato knew.)
And, since G-d is eternal, Plato figured that meant that the universe
was. However, G-d's eternity is NULL -- G-d does not experience time at
all. The universe has a concept of time; even if eternal, it would have
to be a different kind of eternal.

Because we believe that time is itself a creation, the Qabbalistic
concept of atzilus (emanation) need not force Plato's conclusion. A finite
timeline can be emanated as much as an infinite one -- or as much as a
finite Micha.

RJJB writes to RYGB:
> OK, I looked at "Uncle Immanuel's" book, and if you substitute "Light of
> the En Sof" for "God-stuff", you have exactly what I said.

But RIS's sefer speaks of emanation, not panentheism. "The Light of",
not beAtzmo.


Micha Berger            "And you shall love H' your G-d with your whole
micha@aishdas.org       heart, your entire soul, and all you own."
http://www.aishdas.org  Love is not two who look at each other,
Fax: (413) 403-9905     It is two who look in the same direction.

Go to top.

Date: Fri, 24 Oct 2003 11:24:43 -0400
From: Kenneth G Miller <kennethgmiller@juno.com>
Re: Rambam and creation

These discussions have certainly expanded and fine-tuned my prior beliefs
a lot. Especially this "panentheism", which I seem very drawn towards.
For example:

R' Micha Berger wrote <<< 4- Time itself is a creation. Therefore,
while G-d is the First Cause, the connection between that Cause and the
universe would not be temporal. IOW, not only is Hashem outside of time,
perhaps creation also is. Hashem could have created a timeline that
extends infinitely in both directions.>>>

This seems to fit panentheism. While I used to object strongly to the
idea of an infinite timeline, I can now see that if it is all part of
Hashem anyway, there's nothing to preclude it.

If we consider our own existence to be illusory (at least from His
perspective) then so too is the flow of time, which is all very static
(again from His perspective). I find the comparison to a reel of movie
film to be *extremely* helpful in understanding this, or a least in
understanding a shadow of this Truth. We are the characters in that
movie, and from our perspective we have time, causality, and bechira,
but from His perspective it is all totally atemporal.

Akiva Miller

Go to top.

Date: Fri, 24 Oct 2003 09:13:53 -0400
From: "Michael Frankel" <michaeljfrankel@hotmail.com>
Ibn Ezra

RYGB: <<(me) as for "must beleive" it seems clear that some didn't, e.g.
(the unbowdlerized) ibn ezra peirush toi the first posuq. however, not
wishing.. RYGB: I have the Mechokekei Yehudah. Is that censored? For I saw
no indication of any acknowledgement of any eternity of matter in the IE,
only a discussion of whether "bara" is specific to ex nihilo.>>

who mentioned censorship? (actually, you did - but i didn't). as well
known ibn ezra created both a long and short form of his peirush. the
longer form is not generally printed in the usual editions of ibn ezra to
b'reishis (and in any event only survives for the first couple of p'roqim,
but may form the basis for the printed ibn ezra on sh'mos. rest is the
shorter version).

we will not actually settle this argument since people have been arguing
about ibn ezra's p'shot here almost since he wrote it. what seem clear
(from his identification of boroh with g'zeiroh) is that IE thinks that
creation of shomayim etc and all the different "stuff' recounted in
p'suqim is done from pre-existing matter, but those who rreject the
notion of IE's belief in eternal matter point out (correctly) that
this is not a slam dunk for eternal qadmus since it does not preclude
the notion that the pre-existant matter was also created ex nihilo
at some previous point (essentially RYGB's posiiton if i interpreted
his comment correctly) IE doesn't address this notion when he removes
"boroh" from any connection with ex nihilo - i.e. RYGB's summary is a
bit misleading when he notes that IE only "discusses" whether "boroh"
is an ex nihilo concept. in fact it is clear that IE rejects that notion.

Now, while reasonable men might differ on IE's posiiton (at least i'm
reasonable), i believe that added chizuq for my assertion can be found
in the longer peirush. after a lengthy discussion of when the malokhim
might have been created and whether they were subordinate or superior
to man on the spiritual pecking order, IE says that "we will not explore
whether they were created from yeish...v'hammaskil yovin". if IE followed
the standard line, this would have been a very natural point to re-affirm
his own identification with yesh me''yin instead of declaring a hands-off
as he does. (though to be fair - i'm always fair - a. lifshitz has made
an exactly inverted argument. after attempting to prove that belief in
eternal matter was actually a quite popular posiition amongst rishonim
and even chazal, lifshitz suggests that had IE also held such a poition
he would have surely felt free to articulate it, instead of hiding behind
some cutsie "v'hammaskil yovin" which actually means something else)

it is perhaps of some interest that Abarbanel- a "radical" believer in
ex nihilo (he places it as the single most important iqqor belief of
religion) dismisses IE because the latter doesn't find any mention of
ex nihilo at the beginning iof the torah - an incomprehensible position
according to abravanel - but goes further and identifies IE's position
with that of the ancient greeks - i.e. platonic eternity - rather than
RYGB's preferred peirush.

I have not cited abarvanel, or anybody else for that matter, to "prove'
a position one way or the other -(appeals to authority are not convincing
arguments) but rather tto "prove" that reasonable men have so interpreted
IE, while other reasonable men have rreached different conclusions.
But that does allow me to segue to another point, in a completely
different dispute.

In a remark , in this instance not directed at me, RYGB comments <<I have
no monopoly, but you are not a scholar or saint of sufficient standing
(nor am I) to determine who is right, who is wrong, which view should
be presented, which should not, nor certainly to present your own view.>>

Now, I have not actually met either RDE or RYGB, or just about anybody
else in this forum for that matter, and thus it would be foolish indeed
to assay a calibration of the saintliness or scholarship of either of
these presumed worthies from the odd avodah submission. But RYGB's remark
nevertheless reflects a mindset which has both larger resonances in the
broader community and which I find troubling. And that is the implicit
focus on the "authority" of the proponent rather than the substance
of the issue and its logical persuasiveness. Which is not to say that
"authority" has no place.

(Generally for p'saq. Though even here the suggestion that a rov may not
have freedom to pasqen if known "g'dolim" disagree is both fallacious
and harmful -- and violative of loa soguru mip'pnei ish. it is worth
re-reading r. chaim voloshiner on this matter). But to suggest that,
e.g. if RDE's reputation for both were somewhat higher than RYGB seems
to grant (personally, a natural caution would restrain me from assuming
that people with whom i'm not familiar are necessarily lightweights)
this would confer some authority in a matter of hashqofoh to "determine
who is right, who is wrong.." or evn to "present you own view" is an
intellectually bankrupt perspective which perhaps RYGB didn't really
mean to promulgate but are nevertheless implicit in his words. and are
certainbly reflective of too much going on in the public sphere today.

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

Go to top.


[ Distributed to the Avodah mailing list, digested version.                   ]
[ To post: mail to avodah@aishdas.org                                         ]
[ For back issues: mail "get avodah-digest vXX.nYYY" to majordomo@aishdas.org ]
[ or, the archive can be found at http://www.aishdas.org/avodah/              ]
[ For general requests: mail the word "help" to majordomo@aishdas.org         ]

< Previous Next >