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Volume 12 : Number 122

Thursday, March 18 2004

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Wed, 17 Mar 2004 20:18:38 -0500
From: "Shinnar, Meir" <Meir.Shinnar@rwjuh.edu>
RE: Rambam, Torah and philosophy

>> Yes. However, the Moreh is proceeding from the assumption that philosophy
>> has proven certan things - and therefore the onus is to understand how torah
>> can be reconciled....

> I see this as putting the cart before the horse.

> We are trying to describe how the Rambam decides whether it's the philosophy
> or the Torah which is being misunderstood. That includes his means for
> deciding whether philosophy has solidly concluded the point in question. He
> therefore can't take the solidity of the proof as a given -- it's the thing
> being decided!

No where in the More Nevuchim does the rambam ever take issue with a point
that has been philosophically conclusively decided. His entire approach
(which is not congenial to many) assumes the essential harmony of what
is proven by reason and Torah. TO use Torah to determine whether reason
is correct is counter to his whole enterprise. As (at least partially)
a rationalist, he believes in what has been proven by reason. Never in the
moreh do you ever find a statement that this is counter to torah, so it
must not have been proven - you find only that this has not been proven,
so we can choose among the positions the one most congenial to torah.
What has been proven by reason is always judged only by the criteria
of reason. THe rambam could have stated it your way - but he doesn't.

> I, OTOH, would say that the reason why the Rambam knew that the eternity of
> matter was in doubt was because it contradicted mesorah. That's the point of
> his second clause.

When things apparently contradict mesora, they get analyzed closely -
but the rambam doesn't say that the eternity was in doubt because it
contradicted mesora, and therefore there was a logical problem - his line
of reasoning is different. He is quite careful to say "vechova behechlet
levaer kol ma shepshato neged hahochacha" - if some thing is proven, one
is obligated to reinterprete any mesora whose pshat is against the proof.

WRT to the second point - the rambam is not actually saying that he
would reject aristo, if it was proven - he is saying that if such a
contradiction arises- it would require extremely drastic reinterpretation
of the entire fabric of the mesora (rather than of some psukim or some
ma'amre hazal) - which puts the entire issue of concordance between
reason and mesora to the test - so that such conflicts are best avoided.
As he concludes the perek (II:25)

vechen ilu nitkayma lahem hochacha al hakadmut kefi hashkafat aristo
hayta nofelet kol hatora veya'avor hadavar lehashkafot acherot.

not - ilu nitkayma we would then reject the proof of reason - but hayta
nofelet kol hatora.

It is possible to imagine that aristo's position was proven - and then
logical consequences would have to be followed. He specifically does
not say then that he would reject what is proven by reason - or what he
would do - but the entire edifice would collapse. Belief in a torah which
contradicts what is proven by reason is something that is inherently
different than belief in a torah that does not contradict reason.

>> Let me define better reinterprete. The rambam would probably have argued
>> that he was explicating the true meaning of the TSBP (and TSBK) - which has
>> been misunderstood by the vast majority of his rabbinic colleagues - and
>> rather than a reinterpretation, he was going back to original intent.
> Which only works when there's room to do so. To insist it's always possible
> goes beyond the Rambam's position.

> ...
>>>> Secondly, our belief in the Incorporeality of God is not contrary to any
>>>> of the fundamental principles of our religion: it is not contrary to the
>>>> words of any prophet.

>>> Reinterpretation works for TSBK, but not to actual tenets of religion.

You are not quoting the rambam fully. To finish the quote it is not
contrary to to the words of any prophet, and there there isonly what the
fools imagine that there is in it against the text but it isn't against
it, as we explained, but it is the intention of the text.

The reason that incorporality does not contradict the text is that we
reinterpreted (or, as I said, interpreted according to what we believe
is the original intent - which has to agree with the truth - rather than
the simple pshat) the text..

>> There is, however, a different point. The question arises what the
>> "fundamental principles of our religion". There is a fundamental belief
>> that there is a concordance between those fundamental principles and
>> philosophical truths. What those fundamental principles are is a
>> different issue...

> No, they are THE issue. As the Rambam writes, these include belief in the
> statements made by the nevi'im and chachmei mesorah.

The rambam specifically says that he would have no problem reinterpreting
ktuvim (both torah and divre neviim) and chachme mesora (who are below
neviim) if he felt that it was proven - ikkare emuna refers to something
far more fundamental. There is a fundamental belief that those statements
of neviim and chachme mesora are correct - and therefore they must be
interpreted in light of the truth... You are bringing a very different
bias than the rambam

> It's your placement of other knowledge on more certain terms than Torah
> knowledge, as though apparant conflict must always mean clarifying TSBP in
> new ways, that gets me sufficiently motivated to repeatedly chase 
> this thread.

THis is what the rambam says - eg, that if creation (especially in
the platonic sense) was proven, he would reinterprete. Similarly, in
ma'amar techiyat hametim, he says that his interpretation is not based
on a mesora.

The belief that the torah is fundamentally rational (or, at the very
least, not irrational) is an ikkar emuna to the rambam - and therefore
mandates that one interprete the torah in light of reason. To do
otherwise is to denigrate the torah.

> Is there nothing you believe about the Torah so certainly that you simply just
> await scientific theory to correct itself? Didn't you write many many digests
> ago (back in the days of the flood, or at least the 1st flood debate) that
> yetzi'as Mitzrayim is one such inviolate belief? If you could decide that
> archeologist consensus is wrong because yetzi'as Mitzrayim had to occur, why
> can't you believe the Rambam would say the same about 
> Aristotilian philosophy?

What I believe is one thing (of interest to me, to be sure). What the
rambam believed is another - and is quite explicit in his writings -
which many find problematic.

I believe that the torah is true - and that hashem created the world so
that it doesn't trick us. The belief that the world was created in such a
fashion so that rational thought and actions would lead us against tora
as a trial of faith (eg, the belief that dinosaurs are such a trial) is
(IMHO) a denigration of torah.

My emuna is therefore precisely the one not dependent on scientific
theory - while your emuna requires constantly changing things to explain
why one's pshat does not agree with current science.

Meir Shinnar

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Date: Wed, 17 Mar 2004 20:51:09 -0500
From: Kenneth G Miller <kennethgmiller@juno.com>
Re: Marc Shapiro's New Book

As I wrote before, it is important for us to define our terms.

For example, the term "melacha" has one definition for Shabbos, another
for Chol Hamoed, another for Choshen Mishpat.

Similarly, the term "Torah" has a definition for that which men are
required to learn, and might have a different definition for Niskatnu
HaDoros. This is a critical point.

R' Micha Berger wrote <<< I also doubt Moshe Rabbeinu knew the halachos of
thermostats on Shabbos. He knew everything possible for him to pasqen on
such a metzi'us -- if MRAH would ever have learned the details of such
a metzi'us. For that matter, future history played a major role in the
evolution of pesaq since Moshe. Did he know that we would some day hold
like Beis Hillel over Beis Shammai because of the middos of that future
school? Or even that two such different perspective of the same basic
truth that Moshe brought us would emerge because they failed to perform
proper shimush? Does not our knowing that from a Hillelian perspective
one would hold X whereas a Shamuti would hold Y constitute our knowing
Torah that Moshe Rabbeinu did not?>>>

In other words, does knowledge of these things fit the definition of
Torah for the topic of Niskatnu HaDoros?

Here's an even simpler example: Hilchos Purim: Did MRAH know that one
must give two foods for Mishloach Manos? If the answer is yes, then
one might reasonably state that MRAH knew *quantitatively* more Torah
than anyone else ever would. But if not, then we must either exclude
this halacha from the definition of "Torah l'gabei Niskatnu HaDoros",
or we must define Niskatnu HaDoros as referring to something other than
the *quantity* of knowledge.

Akiva Miller

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Date: Wed, 17 Mar 2004 20:32:42 -0500
From: "David Riceman" <driceman@worldnet.att.net>
Re: Ikkarim of Dwarves/ Marc Shapiro's New Book

From: "Gil Student" <gil@aishdas.org>
> OK, maybe not an observant atheist. But how about an observant Jew who
> does not believe in Moshiach?
> I cannot imagine that the Hazon Ish would eat from such a person's
> shechitah and might not even allow him to receive an aliyah to the
> Torah.

But don't forget he needs a rational proof of his belief. I can accept
that the Hazon Ish would accept the rationality of atheism, denial of
prophecy, or denial of the validity of Torah shebichsav or Torah sheb'al
peh, but I doubt that he'd accept the rationality of someone who rejects
fragments of Torah sheb'al peh.

David Riceman

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Date: Wed, 17 Mar 2004 20:40:47 -0500
From: "Shinnar, Meir" <Meir.Shinnar@rwjuh.edu>
FW: Ikkarim of Dwarves/ Marc Shapiro's New Book

> Mechy Frankel wrote:
>>...one can always fantasize what rambam would
>>have thought of RGS's exposition of the state of
>>his iqqorim...
> Yes, halacha has developed in the past 800 years beyond what 
> the Rambam himself held.
>>...the "mechanical" theory of the role of correct
>>beliefs in producing olom habboh, if indeed people
>>were truly aware of them...
> I cannot say what will and what will not produce olam ha-ba. 
> All I am discussing is what places
> someone in the halachic category of a heretic. That, I 
> believe, follows the complex rules of the
> halachic process.

The problem with the above is that the complex rules of the halachic
process have never (outside of the polemical use by the chatam sofer)
been used in this way. In all the discussions of the issues of ikkarim,
almost all (rishonim and acharonim) cite previous authorities that held
by their position as proof that it couldn't be kfira (the case of rav
hillel and mashiach is unique in that the gmara explicitly rejects that
with shari lan - and the question is whether that rises to kfira.)

RGS's notion of evolving standards would say that all those rishonim
and acharonim who debated what the ibn ezra or abarbanel, or hazal,
actually said as part of deciding what is acceptable were wrong - after
all, regardless of what they said, the issue is what we decide is kfira.
This might be convenient - but is a tremendous hiddush. eg, all the
debate about what rashi (Or abarbanel) really meant by tikkun sofrim -
or about rav yehuda hachasid's perush to torah (where he suggests textual
revision) is now irrelevant (something that clearly rav moshe Feinstein
didn't think) - at worst, rashi or rav yehuda hachasid were wrong, even
though that view is now epikorsut. No problem to ascribe a view now
heretical to a previous gadol - just as no problem to ascribe a rejected
halachic view to a previous gadol. etc, etc, etc

Part of the whole debate over the original Marc Schapiro article was
precisely that much of the community did not take the position of the
chatam sofer - but held that the ikkarim were always universally accepted
except for a few isolated cases who were never accepted the community
and should be viewed as heretics. THis was done by either ignorance or
reinterpretation of the sources - and what Marc Schapiro did was marshall
the evidence that there wasn't this universal acceptance. The notion that
this is irrelevant - because we decide what is kfira - is truly stunning.

Meir Shinnar

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Date: Wed, 17 Mar 2004 21:12:12 -0500
From: "Michael Frankel" <michaeljfrankel@hotmail.com>
Re: Marc Shapiro's New Book

>: perhaps the moderator simply reports facts known to him by other means?
> You seem to be unaware that the author stated his position on These
> "pages". See v8n29 <http://www.aishdas.org/avodah/vol08/v08n029.shtml#03>
> and onward. So yes, I am basing my opinion not on hearsay about the book,
> but on previous dialogue with the author on this subject and comments
> made ...

I was indeed unaware, or perhaps have forgotten, that shapiro had
participated on list in a previous go-round. but I remind our moderator
that the subject here is his own claim that 1. "Dr. Shapiro wants a
Judaism defined as "halakhah and the minimal set of beliefs necessary
to support it"." 2. Shapiro's work supported "othopraxy", 3. he was
"unabashedly" supporting that position.

If you look at RMicha's URL pointing to shapiro's comments you will
find absolutely nothing at all related to any of these assertions. Or
indeed about any of shapiro's internal preferences. it's instead a
brief iteration that rishonim (not shapiro) expressed non-rambamical
positions. also a brief exposition of rambam's position (not shapiro's)
that correct beliefs were required to enable olom habboh, while
performance of mitzvos without the requisite philosophical underpinnings
was not "rewarded" with olom habboh. But nothing to be found on either
the subject of orthopraxy or "wanting' a Judaism with a minimal set of
beliefs. So I fall back on RMicha's telepathic powers.

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

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Date: Wed, 17 Mar 2004 21:43:53 EST
From: Zeliglaw@aol.com
Re:Talking during davening

Instead of such lofty ideas as a Tannis Dibur, why not organize shiurim
on SA: OC and the hashkafa of tefila? RYBS once commented that if we
studied Tefila seriously, we would treat the davening for every day as

Steve Brizel

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Date: Wed, 17 Mar 2004 23:40:50 EST
From: T613K@aol.com
Re: talking during davening - taanis analogies

In Avodah V12 #121 dated 3/17/04  Phyllostac@aol.com writes:
> One was
> telling the other about a new minyan he had recently visited in which
> they were very much makpid about / nizhar against talking during
> davening. He thought out loud that such may be not be advisable and
> could be counterproductive to the desideratum of 'building a chevrah'....

> I interjected and said that people can talk after davening....
>  talking ('shmoozing') after being
> quiet through an extended davening is like eating after a taanis - it
> is more geshmak (pleasurable) ! ....

Building a chevrah is a desideratum, but it cannot take priority over
halacha! Where you are not allowed to talk, you are not allowed to talk.

The question arises, I suppose, regarding parts of the davening where
maybe you are allowed to talk. But then it is still disrespectful to the
One you came to daven to, as well as to other people around you who want
to daven, to shmooze during services. Saying, as justification, "But
I came on purpose to shmooze! To build chevra, to make friends!"--only
compounds the sin.

Don't run away right after shul. Stay and talk to people for a couple
of minutes. That seems right and friendly to me.

I know well what you mean about the unnaturalness of not talking to your
friends, and the geshmak of talking again after enforced silence, because
I'm on the chevra kadisha. The hardest and most unnatural thing about
doing a tahara is being in a room with three other women (not counting
the nifteres!) for an hour and a half--and not making conversation!

I often think that the task would be pleasanter and go faster if we could
shmooze while we work, or listen to the radio. But that would be highly
disrespectful to the nifteres, whom we intend to honor by our work.
I would say, in shul, al achas kama vekama.

 -Toby Katz

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Date: Wed, 17 Mar 2004 21:51:51 EST
From: Zeliglaw@aol.com
Re: Rishonim -Psak

> The authority of Taanaim vs Amoraim vs Rishonim vs Achronim and the

See R Elchanan re Rav Tana UPalig in Kesuvos. Amoraim could but rarely
dissagreed withTanaim. A Tana and an Amora were on the same level because
they both learned from purely oral sources. An Achron can dissagree
with a Rishon . RHS elaborates on this issue at length in his shiur on
whether TSBP is dynamic or static in nature.

Steve Brizel

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Date: Thu, 18 Mar 2004 03:52:02 +0000
From: simchag@att.net (SimchaG)
Re: rishonim - psak

From: Eli Turkel <turkel@post.tau.ac.il>
> CI seems to equate authority in psak with greatness (as RDE quoted)
> but this is not universally accepted. Other theories are offered by
> others. Even CI seems to bring his theory for Amoraim vs Taanaim. It
> is not clear he would give the same explanation as to why we don't
> disagree with Rishonim. In fact some rishonim like Meiri seem to have
> "less" authority and CI has a different theory for that not connectness
> with greatness.

FWIW...b'negoih the CI view on the rishoinim and their p'sokim, i would
like to be maatik a loshon of the CI in his kuntres yud ches sho'ois on
the subject of the Halachic International Date Line.

after taking issue with R' Yechiel Michal Tucatzinsky z"l views in his
sefer HaYomam Bekadur HaAretz b'noigeiah the kav hataarich...he writes
as follows (this is from the section called 'sikum')

'vchol divrei horishoinim ne'emonim oleinu k'nesinoson m'sinai, v'im omnom
chayovim a'nachnu l'hafoich b'hein ul'hakshois mah sh'yeish l'hakshois,
loi l'inyan ikur hadin ehlo k'dei l'hovin divreihem hakdoishim...

a'd kahn l'shoinoi hakodoish

Simcha G
the kuntres from the CI is readily available...
Rav Tucatzinsky's sefer, is out-of-print and rare, BUT can be found
on www.seforimonline.org (it was scanned from a copy that i posses in
my library)

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Date: Thu, 18 Mar 2004 10:53:06 +0200
From: Eli Turkel <turkel@post.tau.ac.il>
Re: rishonim - psak

>from CI
> 'vchol divrei horishoinim ne'emonim oleinu k'nesinoson m'sinai,
> v'im omnom chayovim a'nachnu l'hafoich b'hein ul'hakshois mah
> sh'yeish l'hakshois, loi l'inyan ikur hadin ehlo k'dei l'hovin
> divreihem hakdoishim...
> a'd kahn l'shoinoi hakodoish

Similar (same) language appears in his collected letters. 
Nevertheless, there are places where he seems to argue with rishonim.
Just to stress everything agrees that that we must study carefully
rishonim "hafoich b'hein ul'hakshois mah sh'yeish l'hakshois"
The question is whether everything one can disagree and base on a
minority opinion.

The example we brought was that after Rabbenu Tam most rishonim seem to
accept the second shekia and yet almost no one today accepts this except
as a chumrah.
For example, according to SA that "shekia" starts 72 minutes after sunset
one is not allowed to accept shabbat before plag which is 75 minutes
before shekia. Hence, according to SA no one today accepts shabbat at
an acceptable time.
Similar dinim apply to chanukah candles where many poskim advise
lechatchila to light candles shortly after physical sunset which is too
early according SA (Rabbenu Tam and many other rishonim).

CI also seems to disagree with many (again not all) rishonim with his
chumra of not allowing schach that leans on wood poles that lean on
metal poles. Interestingly here the Brisk shitah is almost exactly the 
opposite le-kula.

Prof. Eli Turkel,  turkel@post.tau.ac.il on 3/18/2004
Department of Mathematics, Tel Aviv University

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Date: Wed, 17 Mar 2004 22:10:51 -0500
From: Kenneth G Miller <kennethgmiller@juno.com>
Re: Ikarim of dwarves

I wrote <<< But now, in the post-chazal era, we lack the ability or
permission to come up with anything new >>>

R' Steve Brizel asked <<< How do you understand the statements in BM that
state "Rebi and Rav Nasan-sof hamishna, Ravina and Rav Ashi-Sof Horaah"?

When I wrote that, it was in the context of whether or not Rabbi Akiva
knew more or less Torah than Moshe Rabenu, and whether or not today's
gedolim know more or less Torah than the Rishonim, and so on. The only
point I was making was that the *quantity* of Torah which exists today
cannot possibly be more than existed in the days of the Rishonim, because
no real chidushim have been made in the past thousand years. At least,
there haven't been any chidushim which are relevant to the concept of
Niskatnu HaDoros. (So I don't see any contradiction to RSB's quotes.)

What I mean is that when you see something which seems to be a new piece
of Torah, it is merely a new way to understand a piece of Torah which
had already been in existence.

This is very different than the new pieces of Torah which came into
existence when new halachos (such as Purim or Muktzeh) were instituted.
It is also very different than the new pieces of Torah which came into
existence by using certain principles which we are no longer able to use
(such as in certain interpretations of the story of Moshe Rabenu in R'
Akiva's beis medrash).

I hope this explains my feelings adequately. I must stress that this
is merely my way of understanding the concept of Niskatnu HaDoros in a
quantitative manner. That's why I've used the phrase "piece of Torah".
Those who understand Niskatnu HaDoros as relating to the *quality*
of the Torah of a generation will probably disagree with all this,
and that's okay.

Akiva Miller

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Date: Wed, 17 Mar 2004 22:34:08 -0500
From: "Michael Frankel" <michaeljfrankel@hotmail.com>
Decline of Generations

RDEidensohn itemized the following categories of generational decline
as follows:
<< The issues of the decline of the generations and progressive revelation
and progressive knowledge are not so easy to summarize . In particular was
the decline in intellect, knowledge, spirituality, or clarity of Torah?
Are we superior in knowledge..>>

one addendum. hisdard'rus haddoros as a concept may also encompass a
physical vector. "ho'idnoh d'cholush almoh"(horoyos), or the assertion
that people could stand for longer periods of time until the days
of r. gamaliel (megiloh 21), and of course the decline in life span
from biblical times. now, whether one has any obligation to believe in
some/all forms of hisdard'rus is a different issue.

Mechy Frankel

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Date: Wed, 17 Mar 2004 23:13:55 EST
From: T613K@aol.com
Re: Ikkarim of Dwarves/ Marc Shapiro's New Book

In Avodah V12 #121 dated 3/17/04 "David Riceman"
<driceman@worldnet.att.net> writes:
>  If someone has, by rational examination,
> convinced himself that God does not exist he would not be a heretic.
> That at least is the psak of the Hazon Ish. 

That is far too radical a statement to pass without a footnote.
Citation, please?

-Toby Katz

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Date: Thu, 18 Mar 2004 11:36:34 +0200
From: Daniel Eidensohn <yadmoshe@012.net.il>
Re: Ikkarim of Dwarves/ Marc Shapiro's New Book

David Riceman wrote:
>>>Pashtus is that he was excommunicated for teaching


Encyclopedia Britannica:

"His studies so far had been mainly Jewish, but he was an independent
thinker and had found more than enough in his Jewish studies to wean
him from orthodox doctrines and interpretations of Scripture; moreover,
the tendency to revolt against tradition and authority was much in the
air in the 17th century. But the Jewish religious leaders in Amsterdam
were fearful that heresies (which were no less anti-Christian than
anti-Jewish) might give offense in a country that did not yet regard the
Jews as citizens. Spinoza soon incurred the disapproval of the synagogue
authorities. In conversations with other students,[list of his heresies
deleted]... The Jewish authorities, after trying vainly to silence Spinoza
with bribes and threats, excommunicated him in July 1656, and he was
banished from Amsterdam for a short period by the civil authorities.
There is no evidence that he had really wanted to break away from
the Jewish community, and indeed the scanty knowledge available would
suggest the opposite. On Dec. 5, 1655, for example, he had attended the
synagogue and made an offering that, in view of his poverty, must have
been a rare event for him, and, about the time of his excommunication,
he had addressed a defense of his views to the synagogue."

Daniel Eidensohn

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Date: Thu, 18 Mar 2004 03:59:47 +0000
From: simchag@att.net (SimchaG)
Re: why chabad is eruvless

> It is the nature of people that once they become accustomed to
> carrying on Shabbos, announcements and/or notifications that the Eruv
> is pasul will not be heeded and hence stop them from carrying. 

so..are we trying to outsmart Shloimeh Hamelech?

Simcha G

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Date: Thu, 18 Mar 2004 13:47:59 +0000
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
The Semitic Perspective

On Sun, Mar 14, 2004 at 11:15:02AM -0500, Sholem Berger wrote:
: In the context of this claim, how would you define "objective,"
: "subjective," and "accurate"?

I'll give what I was thinking of, which is apparantly not the same
as RML's.

Greek thought was focused on reductionism. To understand a phenomenon,
break it down into smaller pieces, and try to undersand each peice.
This is typical of the Yefetic perspective.

(I'll try to use "perspective" only to refer to these basic ways of
thinking that underly many worldviews and schools of thought.)

A second but related issue is that the west never formalized the notion
of reality having gray areas. Something is either true or false; it could
never be both true and false, nor could it be neither. This seems so
self-evident to us, one wonders how other positions could exist. However,
had we grown up in the far east, we wouldn't be so Yefetic.

As opposed to the first mishnah. The reisha of the mishnah could have said
that the zeman for evening shema is from sheki'ah until 1/3 the night. But
instead it involves kehunah, taharah and ashmores. Not to confuse the
issue, but because from the Semitic perspective the key to understanding
one mitzvah is from its connections to everything else. Wholism rather
than reductionism.

And from this comes the possibility of recognizing that antinomies and
dialectics are not human projections into the world, but fundamental to
understanding the world itself.

: Who is representative of the Semitic worldview? Chazal, or other people as
: well? Who is representative of the YGW worldview? Aristotle, or others
: as well?

Pretty much any western thinker works within Yefetic perspective. The
issue is one more fundamental even than the differences between Socrates
and Derrida. Socrates gets his victim to make a chakirah and show how
neither tzad works. Derrida also presumes that objective truth must be
reducible into simple yes/no questions -- and since the world doesn't
fit that, he focusses on the role of texts and social construct in how
we see the world.

That is why, when RAF wrote:
:>: How do you explain that if there is *no* Jewish notion of an objective
:>: reading of a text (although we may disagree what that objective notion
:>: is)?

I felt compelled to reply:
:> I think RML was not so much denying the notion of an objective truth
:> as much as denying the notion that objectivity necessitates uniqueness.

RAF thought I was quibbling:
: Call it what you want. My argument was that major commentaries do not accept 
: the lack of uniqueness of interpretation.

I wasn't. The idea that gray area must be a product of human ignorance
or the imposition of multiple human models on a yes/no reductionist
universe is *exactly* what I was trying to contrast our perspective

Similarly, other descendents of Sheim share the Semitic perspective.
The Torah is only one set of Semitic hashkafos; there is plenty of
Semitic kefirah and AZ too.

But note how Semitic AZ is not about polytheistic people-gods, *reducing*
godhood to an easily understandable super powerful person. it's about
notions that seem to us far blurier. Buddha nature. Hinduism's single
Divine that has 3.3 million expressions called "gods". Christianity
started on this road when it adopted trinitarianism, but at some point
the church got to western to be able to attempt to understand it. Until
you get to Tertullian, who insists that he believed it because it's absurd
(which in Latin also means self-contradictory).

In short:
Yefes: reductionism, isolating parts, assigning definite values to each
Sheim: the world is about the interaction, and therefore realizing each
part plays multiple roles and has multiple equally real objective values


Micha Berger             When you come to a place of darkness,
micha@aishdas.org        you don't chase out the darkness with a broom.
http://www.aishdas.org   You light a candle.
Fax: (413) 403-9905        - R' Yekusiel Halberstam of Klausenberg zt"l

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Date: Thu, 18 Mar 2004 08:51:58 -0500
From: "Yosef Gavriel & Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <rygb@aishdas.org>
Re: rishonim - psak

At 03:53 AM 3/18/2004, you wrote:
>The example we brought was that after Rabbenu Tam most rishonim seem to
>accept the second shekia and yet almost no one today accepts this except
>as a chumrah.
>For example, according to SA that "shekia" starts 72 minutes after sunset
>one is not allowed to accept shabbat before plag which is 75 minutes
>before shekia. Hence, according to SA no one today accepts shabbat at
>an acceptable time.

1. There are many shittos in RT's sheki'ah, but measured in millim
the *first* shekiah is 3&1/4 mil after our astronomical sunset and the
*second* sheki'ah is four mil after our sunset.

In general, this case is poor proof as:
1. The issue is one of metzi'us.
2. There was pre-existing Shittas Ha'Geonim that is in line with the
Gra and Baal HaTanya.

The Maharam Alshakar makes these points and rejects RT much earlier than
the Gra and Baal HaTanya.

A more instructive example is RT's psak that b'omeres ma'us alai we are
not kofeh a get shema eineha nasna b'acher. This is a case where pt. #2
is demonstrably true while pt. #2 is not. In this case, no Ashkenazic
acharon (I do not know if there are any Sefaradim either, but there nay
be) has ever dared to contradict RT.


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Date: Thu, 18 Mar 2004 13:57:03 -0500
From: "Gil Student" <gil@aishdas.org>
Re: Ikkarim of Dwarves/ Marc Shapiro's New Book

David Riceman wrote:
>But don't forget he needs a rational proof of his belief.
>I can accept that the Hazon Ish would accept the rationality
>of atheism, denial of prophecy, or denial of the validity of
>Torah shebichsav or Torah sheb'al peh, but I doubt that
>he'd accept the rationality of someone who rejects fragments
>of Torah sheb'al peh.

I apologize for misunderstanding you. We seem to be talking about two
different things. I am talking about what is heresy and who is a heretic,
while you are talking about whether an indvertent heretic is really a
heretic. These are two very different discussions. I will be modeh that
the Hazon Ish might have held like the the rishonim who held that one
is not liable for inadvertent heresy. But that is a separate parashah.

Gil Student

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