Avodah Mailing List

Volume 13 : Number 061

Sunday, August 8 2004

< Previous Next >
Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Fri, 06 Aug 2004 08:26:53 +0200
From: Saul Mashbaum <smash52@netvision.net.il>
Re:tfillin not worn

RMB responded to my claim that not having t'cheilet is not being
oqer mitzva b'yadayim, since hatcheilet eino meaqev et halavan.
>Tzitzis is an odd case, in that one can fulfil lavan or techeiles alone,
>even though they only count as one of the 613. But the "einha me'aqeves"
>means you're yotzei lavan, it doesn't mean you don't need to fulfil
>techeiles whenever possible. 
>Something along these lines has been going through the rumor mill
>attributed to R' Herschel Schachter. I am not sure RHS actually said
>it, though.

After reflection, I fully accept RMB's formulation.

Some of the things which are not meaqev ze et ze are two separate mitzvot,
like t'fillinshel yad and tfillin shel rosh, or tmidim and musafim.
Others are components of one mitzva, like the parim, eilim and kvasim of
musafim. Obviously, one who can put on tfillin shel rosh but does not
do so has been mevatel a mitzva d'oraita, even though it is not meaqev
the tfillin shel yad.

Similarly, if parim are available but those responsible do not offer
them, they have failed to fulfill an obligation the Torah imposed upon
them, even though the parim are not meaqev the rest of the korbanot.
True t'cheilet in tzitzit is like the parim of musafim.

In the recently-published shiurim of RYBS on tzitzit, he discusses
this very point in some detail in siman 22, note 3, p.145. He quotes
the Rambam, sefer hamitzvot, mitzvah ash 14, "as has been explained,
even things whose lack does not disqualify one other (eino meaqev ze et
ze) may be part of one commandment". The whole siman is on t'cheilet,
and is full of profound insights, k'darco bakodesh. Ayen sham.

Why don't I wear t'cheilet? For the same reason most people do not,
which if the truth be told is basically inertia -- *not* laziness, but
rather just continuing to do things as they've always been done, even
though circumstances may have changed. Almost everyone who does not wear
t'cheilet feels that "if lavan alone was good enough for my father and
my rebbeim, it's good enough for me". This is not exactly a compelling
halachic argument, but it is how most people feel about the subject.
(I have it on excellent authority that Avodah puts an emphasis on
discussing the places where halacha and hargasha meet).

When the authenticity of a particular type of t'cheilet will be
established beyond a doubt to the satisfaction of most poskim, and
they themselves wear t'cheilet, most people will come around. Halevai
shenizke l'cach.

Saul Mashbaum

Go to top.

Date: Fri, 6 Aug 2004 00:35:08 -0400
From: "" <hlampel@thejnet.com>
Re: Sanhedrin

hlampel@thejnet.com wrote:
> [In] Bava Metsia 54b ... Abbaye [an Amora!] solves an ibaya through a gezeyra
> shavva. Uh oh ... a gezeyra shavva?! Okay, maybe this indicates he had a
> kabballa from Sanhaedrin. Need to find another example...

"Micha Berger" replied Wed, 4 Aug 2004:
> This is a problem regardless of this debate. We're told in a beraisa
> already that no new gezeiros shava can be accepted, they must come from
> mesorah. So regardless of whether other forms of derashah could still
> have been created at the time of that beraisa, it was impossible for
> the g"sh to have been Abayei's invention.

responds: That's what my "uh-oh" is all about: the principle of "ayn adam
dan gezeyra shavva may-atsmo, eleh im yaish lo kabballah may-rabbo." Some
(e.g., Doros HaRishonim) say this kabbala doesn't mean back to Moshe
Rabbeynu (because the Gemoros don't work out well that way), but back
to a Sanhedrin Gedolah b'Lishkas HaGazis, which alone had the authority
to use gezeyra shavva to create halachic details.

Go to top.

Date: Fri, 6 Aug 2004 14:51:03 +1000
From: "SBA" <sba@iprimus.com.au>
Baruch Sheamar

From: Joelirich@aol.com
The M"B brings down (51:1) that this was a takannah of anshei knesset
hagdola based on a petek from shamyim. I always assumed this was a well
known medrash but am unable to find a trace of it. The yichaveh daat
has a tshuva (3:3) which seems to imply disagreement as to who was even
mtaken baruch sheamar.

Anyone have any info on this or where the M"B got it from?

[Complimnts BI cd]
The Sh'ut Maharalbach 74 quotes sefer Heicholos

[... Hebrew sadly deleted. -mi]

Go to top.

Date: Fri, 6 Aug 2004 15:53:03 +0200
From: "Avi Burstein" <avi@tenagurot.com>
RE: Height of people in chumash

> Upon which Rav Svei, shlita and, libadel may'chayyim l'chayyim,
> Rav Pam zt"l (and also maybe Rav Henoch Leibowitz,zt"l)...

ZT"L?! R' Henoch Leibowitz is alive and well, baruch haShem, and should
live to be 120 years old. (His Rebbetzin passed away 2 months ago though.)

Avi Burstein

Go to top.

Date: Fri, 6 Aug 2004 09:39:29 EDT
From: Joelirich@aol.com
Re: Baruch Sheamar

In a message dated 8/6/2004 7:05:17 AM EDT, sba@iprimus.com.au writes:
>> The M"B brings down (51:1) that this was a takannah of anshei knesset
>> hagdola based on a petek from shamyim...           The yichaveh daat
>> has a tshuva (3:3) which seems to imply disagreement as to who was even
>> mtaken baruch sheamar.

> [Complimnts BI cd]
> The Sh'ut Maharalbach 74 quotes sefer Heicholos

Sorry I didn't articulate myself clearly enough. I had seen this as well
but the specifics of "anshei knesset hagedola" and the "petek" are under
the category aiui of "vod raiti catuv" w/o specific attribution. Am I
incorrect in assuming that such an event would have been recorded in
the gemora (as there are a few other "petek min shamayim" stories in
the gemora - one assumes that this type of event even in the time of
ac"g was noteworthy?)

Joel Rich

Go to top.

Date: Fri, 6 Aug 2004 09:48:35 EDT
From: Zeliglaw@aol.com
Re: Tisha B Av and Teshuvah

> "I believe RYBS once said that even though a piyut on asarah haregu
> malchut is said on both tisha ba-av and yom kippur they are intrinsically
> different. On Tisha Ba-av it is said as avelut like the other piyutim
> on destructions. On yom kippur it it is said as misah of tzaddikim is
> a kapparah."

ZZG. R M Rosenszweig quoted RYBS to this effect in his shiurim on Kinos
this last Tisha Bav

Steve Brizel

Go to top.

Date: Fri, 06 Aug 2004 11:21:56 -0400
From: Zev Sero <zev@sero.name>
Re: Height of people in chumash

"Noah Witty" <ewitty@worldnet.att.net>
> I am thankful to HKB"H to have enabled me to see another pshat in Og's
> eres. There are Rishonim on the verse who interpret the word " 'arso"
> to mean "his fortress."

His fortress was only 4 amot wide?

Zev Sero

Go to top.

Date: Fri, 06 Aug 2004 11:29:16 -0400
From: Zev Sero <zev@sero.name>
Re: Sanhedrin

Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>

> It seems like you assume the bas qol ended the plurality of schools.
> However, Rav Eliezer's opinion is dismissed because he's a Shamuti in
> the tanur shel achna'i story. IOW, he was a Shamuti AFTER eilu va'eilu
> made it clear that third parties should not to hold like his school.

I think you're mixing up two things.  In tanur shel achnai, his view
isn't dismissed because he's a shamuti, it's dismissed because he was
in the minority.  In *another* place, his view on a different matter
is dismissed because he's 'shamuti', and two explanations are given
for this word: one is that he is from BS, and therefore all his
opinions can be assumed to be of that school, while those of his
opponents are of BH, and therefore correct; the *other* explanation
is that the word refers to the outcome of the tanur story, and that
*after* that story, his opinions are no longer to be accepted.

Go to top.

Date: Fri, 6 Aug 2004 11:40:00 -0400
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Sanhedrin

On Fri, Aug 06, 2004 at 11:29:16AM -0400, Zev Sero wrote:
: >It seems like you assume the bas qol ended the plurality of schools.
: >However, Rav Eliezer's opinion is dismissed because he's a Shamuti in
: >the tanur shel achna'i story. IOW, he was a Shamuti AFTER eilu va'eilu
: >made it clear that third parties should not to hold like his school.

: I think you're mixing up two things.  In tanur shel achnai, his view
: isn't dismissed because he's a shamuti, it's dismissed because he was
: in the minority....

It's Tosafos who say it's rejected because he's a shamuti. They hold
hainu hach -- BS was rejected because they're in the minority. (Which
in turn was because BH gave kavod, I presume.)

Kindly see the Encylopedia Talmudit article "bas qol", referred to


Micha Berger             "I hear, then I forget; I see, then I remember;
micha@aishdas.org        I do, then I understand." - Confucius
http://www.aishdas.org   "Hearing doesn't compare to seeing." - Mechilta
Fax: (270) 514-1507      "We will do and we will listen." - Israelites

Go to top.

Date: Fri, 6 Aug 2004 13:27:37 -0400
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Nisyonos

On Fri, Aug 06, 2004 at 09:57:22AM -0400, DovGoldie@cs.com wrote:
: Are you suggesting that my approach of the test "also" serving to inform
: the nivchan is really what the Sefornu and Chizkuni meant?

Well, it is a necessary implication. It isn't fair for someone not to
get what they deserve just because their deservingness is only known
to themselves and G-d. Therefore, Middas haDin, the pure Ideal of Din,
CAN NOT require proof. Similarly Ideal Rachamim would be based on need,
not proof of need.

So there has to be a step in between, some kind of mechanics of the point
of "proof". I suggested one.

: I would think they would so so more directly....

I'm proposing that they're giving peshat to the notion of
"others". They're not giving a philosophical treatise. It's fine in that
context to deal with non-overanalyzed anthropomorphications. Just as it
is in tefillah (where the point is emotional content over analysis.)

:                                               (Besides the issue of the
: "test" itself, which refers to those "others," now refering to the same
: thing as the "knowing what is in your heart," although the latter point
: can easily be brushed aside by claiming that this pasuk is meant to
: explain the "test" in all cases.)

Both have to refer to the nisayon, as the pasuq is about explaining the
need for 40 years in the desert -- a nisayon.

I would say something quite similar, but not identical, to your brush
aside: Moshe is giving two consequences of the same action in reverse
causal order. "To test you" because that is what allows Middas haDin and
Middas haRachamim to better sever your needs. How? "To know what is in
your heart" -- because by your knowing, you prove it to them.


Micha Berger             Until he extends the circle of his compassion
micha@aishdas.org        to all living things,
http://www.aishdas.org   man will not himself find peace.
Fax: (270) 514-1507                        - Albert Schweitzer

Go to top.

Date: Fri, 6 Aug 2004 09:57:22 -0400 (EDT)
From: DovGoldie@cs.com
RE: Nisyonos

>> Therefore, informing the nivchan will itself change his relationship to
>> din and rachamim. It "awakens" din or rachamim, Gavri'el or Micha'el, as
>> appropriate. I would think that's the informing of which Sefornu and the
>> Chizkuni speak, even if they don't take it to the second step and say so.

Are you suggesting that my approach of the test "also" serving to inform
the nivchan is really what the Sefornu and Chizkuni meant?

I would think they would so so more directly. (Besides the issue of the
"test" itself, which refers to those "others," now refering to the same
thing as the "knowing what is in your heart," although the latter point
can easily be brushed aside by claiming that this pasuk is meant to
explain the "test" in all cases.)


Go to top.

Date: Fri, 6 Aug 2004 13:37:32 -0400
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Height of people in chumash

On Fri, Aug 06, 2004 at 11:21:56AM -0400, Zev Sero wrote:
: His fortress was only 4 amot wide?

If we're speaking of standard amos, that would proabably refer to the
width of the wall.

If we're speaking of his amos, Og's ankle was 30 amos off the floor.
That means that roughly 1-1/2 Og-etzba'os = 30 amos, or that everything
must be scaled up by a factor of around 480.

4 amos would be roughly techum Shabbos!


Micha Berger                 Life is complex.
micha@aishdas.org                Decisions are complex.
http://www.aishdas.org               The Torah is complex.
Fax: (270) 514-1507                                - R' Binyamin Hecht

Go to top.

Date: Sat, 07 Aug 2004 23:04:51 +0200
From: S Goldstein <goldstin@netvision.net.il>
kiddush hachodesh

>One of the interesting things that I learned from RYGB's article is
>that R' Sa`adyah Ga'on actually had a third approach to this question.
>He held that the fixed calendar was really halakhah le-Mosheh mi-Sinai,
>and that the practice of "confirming" it with witnesses was just
>a takanah in reaction to the Tzedukim, who doubted the astronomical
>accuracy of the mesorah. How exactly this jives with "ben bi-zemanan,
>ben shelo vi-zemanan, en li mo`adot ela elu" (Mishnah Rosh ha-Shanah 2:9),

See similar idea by Rabbeinu Bachaye on the passuk ha-Chodesh hazeh lachem
in Chumash Shmos in the name of Rabbeinu Chananel.  There he is maarich how
this IS pshat bin Maseches Rosh HaShana.

Go to top.

Date: Sat, 7 Aug 2004 23:25:50 -0400
From: Kenneth G Miller <kennethgmiller@juno.com>
Re: Height of people in chumash

R' Nosson Slifkin asked <<< Every person is approximately four cubits
tall, in his own cubits. ... I have difficulty understanding why so many
sources state that an average person is three cubits tall. >>>

(Please note: I wrote most of this PRIOR to reading that so many sources
say that these 3 amos don't include the head. Had I seen that, I wouldn't
have written this. But I did write it, so I am posting it just in case
there are view who argue against that Tosfos, and say that the 3 amos
do include the head.)

My guess if that the 3-cubit height comes from the minimum size of a
mikveh, which is 3 cubic amos. This may have led some to think that a
typical person is 3 amos tall. And in fact, I was among them until I
got involved in writing this post.

But such a conclusion would be an error, I think, because when a person
enters that mikveh, the water level will rise. It might even reach 4
amos from the floor, as RNS suggests.

Let's do the math: If we take a cubit to be 18 inches, or 45 cm, the one
cubic amah of water would fill 91125 cc, or over 91 liters. That would
weigh 91 kg, or about 200 pounds.

Now we'll do the physics: When a person is floating in the water, his body
displaces an amount of water equal to that person's weight. Therefore,
let's take the example of a mikveh whose floor is one square amah, and
is filled with 3 vertical amos of water. If a 200 lb. person is floating
in it, his body will push the water level up to a point 4 amos from the
floor. When he submerges, that will push the water level even higher
than four amos, and he'll have no trouble fitting into it, especially
since the preferred position for toveling is in a crouched position.

Granted that most people are smaller than 200 pounds, but they'll be
correspondingly shorter, and with the crouching should also have no
trouble fitting into that mikveh.

Some may argue against my choice of using an 18-inch amah for these
calculations. But this is a classic "mimah nafshach" -- if you pick a
longer amah, it increases the chance that the average person really *is*
3 amos tall. For example, with Rav Moshe Feinstein's amah (21.25 inches),
3 amos tall comes to 5 feet 3.25 inches. Anyone wanna know how tall the
Chazon Ish's 3 amos come to? :-)

Akiva Miller

Go to top.

Date: Sun, 8 Aug 2004 13:51:44 +1000
From: "SBA" <sba@sba2.com>
Re: Height of people in chumash

From: Zoo Torah zoorabbi@zootorah.com
> There is an oft-cited Gemara (Berachos 54b) which states that Moshe was
> ten cubits (approximately fifteen feet) tall. This is difficult to accept
> at face value for several reasons:

> First, it is physically impossible....it is physiologically
> impossible due to the constraints of the human body.

Neither is Krias Yam Suf and the earth swallowing up Korach and his gang
"physically possible"...
What about the 10 makkos in Mitzrayim? Or Sarah Imeinu giving birth at
90 or Yocheved giving birth etc etc.
And what about Moshe Rabeinu going up to heaven and staying there 40
days and nights [and not eating and drinking]?
And the whole parsha of Mattan Torah?
I could go on, but I am sure you get my drift.

I think you overlook the fact that we are talking about 'abnormal'
zemanim and times - when 'ro'aso shifcho al hayom....'

> the same Gemara continues to state that Moshe had a spear that was ten
> cubits long, and when he leapt ten cubits in the air, he could stretch
> out his spear and hit Og's ankle. This places Og's ankle at a height of
> 30 cubits above the ground, which makes his total height many hundreds
> of cubits - the height of a tall skyscraper. This becomes even more
> biologically absurd, for many reasons....
> For a person hundreds of feet tall, even big ears wouldn't help!

Hashem created him [and the other giants] as a 'freak' - [as I saw one
of the meforshim say], so we can leave it to Him to ensure that that he
had everything needed to survive. After all, there is a midrash that Og
survived the Mabul - meaning he lived for a thousand years plus. If you
start analysing this medically and physiologically, you would also say
that his body parts and equipment should have worn out a long time ago -
but we see he was still leading battles against Bnei Yisroel at the end
of his long life.

> what do we think the Gemara is - The Guinness Book of Records? Who
> cares how tall these people were? Surely the Gemara wants to teach us
> something more profound.

Of course it does an I am sure that there are plenty of Midroshim and
gemoros gleaning lessons from all this.
But on a simple pshat level couldn't it be that we are being told of
the great nissim that Hashem did in helping Bnei Yisroel defeat such a
mammoth giant?

Why do you think this is documented in Hallel Hagadol -
"Lesichon Melech Ho'emori ulOg Melech haboshon"??
Obviously beating these monsters in battleis worthy of a specialy mention
together with the nissim of Yetzias Mitzrayim.

Reducing Og to just another king - would beg the question why he gets
such a high 'billing'?...

> So, bearing all this in mind, it comes as no surprise to discover
> that Rashba at
> http://dafyomi.shemayisrael.co.il/parsha/archives/chukat58.htm.

The Rashba may explain a few curiosities but if you want to nitpick,
there are plenty of unanswered questions left - including the above
point that he lived 1000+ years..

I haven't seen the Rashba inside - and rely on RM Kornfeld's page, but
could it be that the Rashba is giving us drush rather than plain pshat?

> But if Og wasn't several hundred cubits tall, how tall was he? The Torah
> states that his bed measured nine cubits long. Rashi states that these
> were nine of Og's cubits. The commentaries on Rashi explain that Rashi
> is saying this to reconcile the verse with the Gemara. But a person who
> is nine of his own cubits tall would be hideously disproportionate -
> his arms would stretch only as far as the elbows are on a normally
> proportioned person!

So what? Og was definitely not your average baalebos.
He was obviously disproportionate.

> So, as Rambam in Moreh Nevuchim (2:42) concludes, we must take the nine
> cubits of Og's bed as being measured by the cubits of an ordinary person.
> This would still place Og as being about fourteen feet tall, which is too
> much to accept....The only remaining difficulty with all this is why Rashi
> and other commentaries seem to take the Talmud in Berachos 
> quite literally.

The answer to that is quite obvious.
Because that is how they were mekabel from their rebbes -
all the way back to Moshe Kibel Torah MiSinai.

The Ramban and Rashbam accept it literally.
[The peirush HaRosh quotes the gemoro in Niddah 24b describing Sichon

And finally the fact that - AFAIK - this is the only place in the Torah
where we are told of the location of an item.
It actually tells us where Og's bed [or rather cradle] is - [according to
Targum Yonoson it was preserved in the archives [as one sefer translates -
museum] in Rabbas BneiAmmon.

Why are we being given the exact details?

Maybe Moshe Rabeinu knew that there will be 'doubters' about Og's size -
so he gave us the location of the 'proof'... [Bederech Efshar]


Go to top.

Date: Sun, 8 Aug 2004 00:13:28 -0400
From: "Moshe & Ilana Sober" <sober@pathcom.com>
Height of people in chumash

The Malbim has an interesting pshat:

Arso refers to arisa - a cradle or crib. When Og was a baby, they couldn't
leave him in an ordinary wooden crib because he was so strong he would
break it. They had to make him a special iron crib - and he was so big
that it was 9x4 amot in amat ish - grownup amot.

My kids love this perush, and anything else they hear about Og - the
more fantastic the better.

Shavua tov,

Go to top.

Date: Sun, 08 Aug 2004 12:05:03 +0300
From: Zoo Torah <zoorabbi@zootorah.com>
Re: Height of people in chumash

Thanks for those who pointed out the Tosafos that people are 3 amos
without the head. The problem is, it still doesn't seem to be true, at
least not according to my measurements. Also, Rambam doesn't appear to
hold that way, as he says that Og was 6 amos, about twice the height of
a normal person, and only two-thirds the length of his bed - it doesn't
sound like he's not including the head.

R' Zev Sero quoted the other Gemara about Moshe being tall, based on
his being able to spread the paroches over the Mishkan. I agree that the
Mishkan was literally 10 amos tall, but that Gemara (it's Nedarim 38a)
still can't be taken at face value. For example, it proves that he was
rich because he had the residual material from which the luchos were
made. What on earth is that supposed to mean?

R' Zev then wrote concerning the disprportionate size of someone nine of
his own amos tall: <<Yes, this is obvious. But why is it a problem? If
one accepts the premise of a person of such abnormal height, why would
one assume that he was normally proportioned? Indeed, it's always
been my understanding that Og was not human, that he and his race, the
Nefilim/Refaim, were not descended of Adam and Chava. Perhaps they were
of extraterrestrial origin, but in any case I see no reason to assume
that they had human proportions, or indeed looked at all like humans.>>

Well, Rambam raises this as an objection, so I'm in good company. But
I guess there is a certain logic to saying that if you can accept
extraordinarily far-fetched things, such as people 15 feet tall, and
the Nefilim being extra-terrestrials, then you can accept giants with
tiny arms. Beam me up, Scottie!

<In any case, as I pointed out earlier in this thread, who says his bed
has any relation at all to his size? Perhaps the point is that he had
an enormous bed even after taking his size into account. IOW the pasuk
is saying that not only was Og well known to be a giant, but he had a
bed which was more than twice as long as he was tall.>

Why such a big bed? In any case, the passuk is rather strange. Why
doesn't it state his height - why the length of his bed? Maybe that's
how people spoke in those days, but it seems difficult.

I accept the correction about people in the past not being significantly
shorter than they are today (although I haven't researched it yet.

<<But Rashi in chumash doesn't do agadah, unless it's necessary to the
simple meaning. If he says beamat ish means Og's amot, he must mean it
literally, and be forced to this translation by a difficulty with the
pshat, not by following some allegory in the gemara, that the 5-year-old
he's writing for hasn't learned yet.>>

I am rather uncomfortable saying that Rashi really thought that Og was a
several hundred foot tall, hideously disproportioned giant, rather than
simply learning like Rashba. Rambam has very harsh words for such people.

Kol tuv
Nosson Slifkin

Go to top.

Date: Sat, 7 Aug 2004 23:02:42 -0400
From: Kenneth G Miller <kennethgmiller@juno.com>
Re: Cleaning up the world

I thank R' Micha Berger for sharing his epiphany, that <<< It's not just
that a non-Jew can be a Noach. It's that Noach, by choosing to only be
concerned for himself, could not have been the first of the avos. Avraham
merited a beris beyond that of Noach because he showed himself to posess
this critical middah. >>>

And not just Noach. Suddenly, I now understand Shem and Ever much better
as well. They were genuine tzadikim with genuine spiritual knowledge (can
I call it "Torah"?) which Yaakov Avinu spent 14 years learning. But Yaakov
had to go to them; they did no kiruv, no outreach, the way Avraham Avinu
did. Had they chosen to reach out, they too could have been the avos.

Akiva Miller

Go to top.

Date: Sun, 8 Aug 2004 01:29:34 EDT
From: RabbiRichWolpoe@aol.com
Re: Shiv'im pa'nim la'torah

I haven't researched this but the question is why 70 and not some other
number like 100 or 10 etc.

Well is it a co-incidence that there are 70 members of Sanhedrin?

And that Rambam says that BD Hagadol is Ikkar TSBP = {mamrim 1:1)

Hypothesis: {unresearched} there are 70 faces of 70 members of BD Hagadol
expounding Torah or pshat etc.

 Or let's rephrase this,
There CAN BE up to 70 legitimate authoritative interpretations of any
particular passuk or case

Now it is possible that LATER ON that this metaphor was used in other 
contexts and that its meaning evolved.  

Kol Tuv;
Rich Wolpoe

Go to top.

Date: Sun, 8 Aug 2004 01:30:53 EDT
From: RabbiRichWolpoe@aol.com
Re: Who saw the Luchos?

In a message dated 8/2/2004 2:24:58 PM EDT, ykaganoff@yahoo.com writes:
> Over Shabbos a question came up regarding the Luchos? Who, besides
> Moshe, saw either the Luchos Rishonos or Shniyos? If they were put away
> immediately after they were carved, did anyone, in Moshe's generation
> or later, ever see them?

for sure at least Yehoshua saw the first set before Moshe smashed

Kol Tuv;
Rich Wolpoe

Go to top.

Date: Sun, 8 Aug 2004 01:54:04 EDT
From: RabbiRichWolpoe@aol.com
Re: mirrors

In a message dated 7/29/2004 9:20:58 PM EDT, Rebelkrim@aol.com writes:
> I heard that Rav Soloveitchik zt'l felt that the notion of covering
> mirrors during aveilus, which is not mentioned in Shas, is a modern day
> substitute for the halacha of k'fiyas hamita, which is not practiced
> today.

lich'ora sitting on a low chair or on the floor is the actaul substitute
for kfiyas hamitta

Remember RRW Insight #1
We often know WHAT to do

re: Mirrors at a Shiva house I heard several theories.

but we often forget WHY we do it!

1) Since Shiva is a place for Minyan, therefore mirros must be covered
for davening.
This would mean other pictures should be covered, too, but mirrors in
bathrooms need not...

2)  Sone kind of Sheidim problem 

2B) the Sheidim are really a metaphor for "Ego" I.e. one should not
look at oneself {a form of vanity} rather one focused upon mourning
the deceased. Mirrors would be a distraction.

Kol Tuv;
Rich Wolpoe

Go to top.

Date: Sun, 8 Aug 2004 03:20:10 EDT
From: T613K@aol.com
Re: Evolution [was: National geographic]

In Areivim Digest V13 #211 dated 7/11/04  Eli Turkel <turkel@post.tau.ac.il> 
>> National Geographic special doesn't contain any naked people like
>> the magazine does.  Even if the show is entirely about animals, you 
>> would still have to worry about evolutionary kefira. [--Ploni]

> OTOH I would rather my children learn their science from National 
> Geographic and not Rav Miller.  I am not sure what you mean by 
> evolutionary kefira but almost all religious scientists I know believe 
> that the world is billions of years old.... 

> I am currently writing an article on the attitude of the charedi world 
> towards conflicts between science and Talmud (mainly Chullin) and 
> there are many changes with the realization that there are conflicts 
> that cannot be easily explained by just assuming that science is 
> wrong. 

You made a very common segue from the "evolutionary kefira" alluded to
by a poster, to "the world is billions of years old." The age of the
universe and the origin of life are two distinct issues, though the two
are often conflated.

If the world is very young, evolution would not have had enough time
to work its magic and create all the species we see. So an old world
is a necessary condition for evolution. But it is hardly a sufficient

The naive believer, if he could prove that the world is only 6000 years
old, would have disproven Darwin. But the sophisticated skeptic, if
he can prove that the world is actually billions of years old, has NOT
thereby *proven* Darwin!

The evidence for a very old universe is very strong, and I myself do
not imagine that the seven days of Creation were literally 24-hour days.
The fact that the sun and the moon were only put in place on Wednesday
would seem to make it impossible to measure the passage of time during the
first three days, even retrospectively (as we can measure the movements
of constellations and the occurrence of solar eclipses retrospectively,
by projecting backwards the cycles that we know today).

Sefer Bereishis actually says very little about EITHER the age of the
universe OR the method of creation of the inanimate and animate objects
in the universe. What it does say, unequivocally, is that the world and
everything in it was CREATED--did not arise spontaneously. Right there we
have an irreconcilable conflict with science* as currently constituted,
which absolutely rejects ANY role for a Being outside the system, even
at the moment of the Big Bang. [*Science-R, to be defined below]

Our very sophisticated Avodah readers and writers esteem scientists, but
that esteem is not mutual. In the eyes of the scientific establishment,
a person who believes that G-d created the Big Bang and then set the
universe in motion--after which all unfolded by scientific laws, with
no further Divine involvement; or a person who believes in "guided
evolution"--such people are self-del uded fools, no wiser and no more
"scientific" than the most fundamentalist Millerite who believes in a
literal six-day creation.

You can bang on their doors begging for acceptance, but the Asimovs, the
Goulds and the Sagans do not and will not recognize you as a member of
their august fraternity. Like anti-Semites who can't tell the difference
between old cultured Jewish money and tattered refugees from the shtetel,
scientists do not distinguish between intellectual, sophisticated
religious believers and primitive, ignorant religious believers.

We differ from the scientists at three vital points:

1. the origin of the universe

2.  the origin of life

3.  the development of different species 

1. Science itself has shown that the universe started at one point in time
and space--the Big Bang--and has not existed in a steady state, eternally,
as scientists previously believed. But they still reject--as a matter of
faith, since there is no way to prove it one or another--the notion that
the universe was "created." Instead, they choose to believe that it just
popped into being for no reason, and this is considered more "scientific."

2. No one has any clue how life could have gotten started
spontaneously. Spontaneous generation has been rejected by scientists
for centuries--EXCEPT for this one special case, the origin of life,
where the alternative is to believe that life was created. Scientists
take it on FAITH that there was no creation and therefore, improbable
as it may be, life MUST have arisen spontaneously.

One of the reasons, BTW, that scientists are so sure there must be life
elsewhere in the universe, and are always anxiously looking for it, is
that something that happened only once in the vastness of time and space
has the look of a miracle to it, whereas if it can be shown that life
is actually common in the universe, then it's just part of the natural
law and nothing to worry about. An actual miracle IS something to worry
about, because it shakes the scientist's faith in his religion--the
religion of no-religion.

3. Evolution has taken place, does take place, and will continue to
take place--that is a fact. Before our eyes, in real time, we see white
moths changing to black moths when pollution turns the trees black.
We see a new species of grass resulting from the mating of two parent
species of grass ("species" here defined as able to reproduce its own
kind, and not reproducing with either of its parent species). We see
the Galapagos finches on different islands developing beaks that can
crack open the nuts or seeds peculiar to their own islands. We see that
Jews who carry the Tay-Sachs gene have some immunity to tuberculosis,
and therefore the percentage of T-S carriers rises in the crowded ghetto
(but we also see that mathematically, the percentage of T-S carriers in
the larger population seems destined to eventually go back down to zero).

What we do NOT see in the fossil record or in real life is one species
evolving into another, except when you define "species" very narrowly--as
in the hybrid grass mentioned above--which involved no random mutations
and no addition of genetic information, but just a rescrambling of
genetic information inherited from both parents. It is still grass.

The *fact* of evolution as it occurs, and the *theory* of evolution
(Darwinism or neo-Darwinism) as a supposed explanation for the existence
of all species, are two different things. Like Reform Judaism and Orthodox
Judaism--use the same word to describe two entirely different things.

So I am going to give evolution two names, to clarify things. Evolution-R
is the theory that by random mutation, survival of the fittest and the
passage of millions of years, all the species on earth developed out of
one original life form that arose spontaneously out of the primordial

Evolution-O is the fact that within a species, small changes may occur
from one generation to another, due to the random recombination of
pre-existing genetic information inherited from parents. This type of
variation, however, has never yet been shown to result in a new species,
unless the word "species" is narrowly defined. Furthermore, we know of no
random genetic mutation in which new information is ADDED, but rather,
all mutations we know of result in LOSS of information and usually,
defects and disease in the offspring.

The moths ALWAYS had some black and some white offspring, so there was
no new mutation or new genetic information that arose in response to
the Industrial Revolution and pollution in England.

The only thing that changed was the proportion of white offspring that
survived. That may support one tiny piece of Darwin's theory--that some
offspring are more likely to survive than others--but when England
cleaned up its pollution, the moth reverted to its previous ratio of
black to white offspring.

There was no new moth species nor even a new ratio in the colors of the
offspring. This, after the moths had given birth to many, many generations
of baby moths under the old regime of pollution. And a random mutation
affecting a single moth is supposed to give such a survival advantage
that it will eventually give rise to a whole new species?

The moths are subject to Evolution-O, clearly.

The new species of grass which contains old genes is likewise an example
of Evolution-O. No random mutations, no new genetic information, just
reshuffling of the old.

There are numerous examples of Evolution-O in the textbooks, and by
the magic use of the WORD "evolution," these are taken to *prove*
that evolution explains the existence and variety of all the species
on earth! But Evolution-O CANNOT prove anything about Evolution-R!
Any more than Reform Judaism proves anything about what Orthodox Jews
do or believe--despite the common word "Judaism"!

I should mention that "science" and "scientist" are also words with
multiple meanings, often confused. They too, come in O and R definitions.
The scientist-O does all kinds of observations and experiments and writes
up his results in learned journals. The scientist-R has a certain belief
system and engages in speculation dressed up as fact. Science-R is the
belief that THERE IS NO GOD. That is its only Ani Maamin, alpha and
omega of its learning and its morality.

Asimov, Gould and Sagan are all exemplars of this kind of scientist,
one who borrows the prestige earned by the intellect and hard work of
science-O to buttress his faith in science-R. His *faith.* [And it's no
coincidence they're all Yiddelach, sigh.]

My own personal belief is that the sheshes yemei bereshis were six eras
rather than six literal 24-hour days, and that some species may have given
rise to other species in the passage of time--but G-d created the world
and everything in it. HOW, exactly, the world and all its species came
to be--the Torah does not say. What it does say is that Hashem created
us all, and that is what I believe. How He did it and how long it took,
we cannot know.

The typical Avodah denizen has a nuanced, highly sophisticated belief
in "evolution" which in fact, does not differ all that much from my
naive belief in "creation." Not if we all share a belief that there
was and is a Creator. The Orthodox sophisticate may pride himself on
his intellectual superiority--but the "scientists" do not share his
high opinion of himself. We are all--all Orthodox Jews, all religious
believers--all tarred with the same brush.

So my feeling is--in for a penny, in for a pound. If you are already going
to postulate a supernatural interference in the course of the universe,
why not go all the way and postulate the there was a separate creation
for each species or at least for every major class?

The fossil record seems to support just that! What is "punctuated
equilibrium"? It is only a pseudo-scientific term [classic science-R]
meant to obfuscate a tacit acknowledgment that most new species arise
in the fossil record with no predecessors, apparently created ex nihilo.

 -Toby Katz

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 >