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Volume 13 : Number 075

Friday, August 20 2004

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Thu, 19 Aug 2004 14:44:56 -0400
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Rights and Responsibilities

On Tue, Aug 17, 2004 at 10:54:27PM -0400, Kenneth G Miller wrote:
: It has been said that the Torah does not speak about rights, but about
: responsibilities.

I've never argued anything that extreme. I have said that the Torah
is a duty-based ethic as opposed to the rights-based ethic currently
in vogue in the west.

: Nevertheless, there is a difference, and the difference is that of focus:
: Is our top priority to worry about what I have coming to me, or what I
: must do for others?

I pointed out that the rights-based ethic is flawed in that it must
always devolve to a culture of entitlement for this very reason.

: With this in mind, it occured to me that there *is* a place where the
: Torah seems to put the emphasis on the "rights". Namely, in Shemos 21:10:
: "sh'erah, k'susa, v'onasa lo yigra".

There are other things that halakhah described in terms of ownership, other
than your example and owning objects. Gezel shinah and geneivas da'as
also imply rights.

And also the topic RAM raises:
: Just wanted to share those thoughts. Any comments? For example, is
: terumah our obligation or the kohen's entitlement? I don't remember.

The ba'al owns the right to choose which kohein to give it to. It's
therefore his duty, this detail of which is his right.

I suggest we both revisit my post (a thread of size 1) at
<http://www.aishdas.org/avodah/vol04/v04n395.shtml#10> (25-Feb-2000)
before we end up repeating ourselves further.


Micha Berger             "Fortunate indeed, is the man who takes
micha@aishdas.org        exactly the right measure of himself,  and
http://www.aishdas.org   holds a just balance between what he can
Fax: (270) 514-1507      acquire and what he can use." - Peter Latham

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Date: Thu, 19 Aug 2004 14:48:06 -0400
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Tikun Olam

On Tue, Aug 17, 2004 at 10:46:49PM +0100, Chana Luntz wrote:
: I guess what I find strange about this whole discussion is that
: goyim have a total of seven mitzvos, and only one of those seven is
: positive, and that positive mitzvah is to set up courts of justice.
: And if setting up courts of justice is not tikun olam, then what is?

Tiqun olam is a qabbalistic key phrase, not something that simply
matches the literal translation.

It has to do with repairing shattered vessels, whatever that means.

I would think that setting up a just society allows G-dliness to shine
through, and therefore clarifies and/or removes qelipos. But that's
a very rationalistic view of these things, and not provably identical.

> Kiddush Hashem seems to me to be something quite different. Kiddush
> Hashem, is, as the name states, about sanctifying G-d's name, so that
> people will see what is done and be drawn to bless Hashem.

Is it different? The phrase in Al Kein is "lesaqein olam bemalkhus
Shakai". Is there a tiqun olam without getting people to accept
G-d as King? I dunno.

To add to my confusion, is the "lesaqein olam" attributed to Achan
(thus the initialism of the first three words) between the time he took
property from Yericho and the time of his execution already a technical
use of the phrase?

>                                                            Clearly that
> will only happen if there is an association between the people doing the
> actions and Hashem, ie with Jews. So anybody (Jewish or non Jewish) who
> sees a Jew doing something (which may well include tikun olam) *because*
> they are following the commandments of Hashem, will be inclined to bless
> HaShem, giving the result. Non Jews are not identified with Hashem and
> hence is not capable of (and certainly cannot be commanded to engage in)
> kiddush Hashem.

I would think a non-Jew who doesn't observe the 7MBN would view one
who is observant as someone he identifies with Hashem.


Micha Berger             "The most prevalent illness of our generation is
micha@aishdas.org        excessive anxiety....  Emunah decreases anxiety:
http://www.aishdas.org   'The Almighty is my source of salvation;  I will
Fax: (270) 514-1507      trust and not be afraid.'" (Isa 12) -Shalhevesya

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Date: Thu, 19 Aug 2004 15:34:25 -0400
From: "Zev Sero" <zev@sero.name>
Re: Lice

Daniel Eidensohn <yadmoshe@012.net.il> wrote:
> BTW I just came across the Meshech Chochma's (Bereishis 9:9-10) that
> since lice don't reproduce sexually they were not taken on the Ark. This
> is the reason that it is permitted to kill them on Shabbos because no
> bris was ever made with them. 

Then why can't we kill fish on Shabbos?

Zev Sero

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Date: Thu, 19 Aug 2004 20:42:05 GMT
From: "kennethgmiller@juno.com" <kennethgmiller@juno.com>
Literal meanings

I am somewhat amused by the current conversations. In one thread, we
have a discussion about Maaseh Bereshis, which (for at least one point
of view) can be seen as a discussion about the meaning of the word
"yom" in Bereshis Chapter 1 -- did it literally mean a 24-hour day,
or some other figurative period of time.

In another thread, we are discussing... hmm... let me get the words exact:

R' Zev Sero wrote: <<< the Tosefot in Eruvin, where the gemara is emphatic
that pi is exactly 3.000000, with no approximation at all. >>>

R' Daniel Eidensohn wrote: <<< Tosfos and the Tashbatz do not simply
say that that if Chazal said pi = 3.000 I must accept it literally. >>>

R' Jonathan Ostroff wrote: <<< Tosefos HaRosh (Eruvin 14a) specifically
states that the value of Pi is not in disagreement with Chazal. >>>

Come on, people, how can anyone possibly argue about the value of pi?

It's like arguing about the value of seven!!!!

Rather, ALL participants in this discussion have implicitly agreed,
and accepted without complaint or comment -- and to be honest, without
even realizing it -- that when we use the phrase "the value of pi"
(or equivalent phrases) what we *mean* is "the ratio of a circle's
circumference to its diameter".

I just wanted to bring this to everyone's attention. The next time you see
a word or term and you are confused about it being used in a non-literal
sense, think back to this conversation, and remember that meanings often
change according to the context and situation. If "ayin tachas ayin"
seems to be an odd way to phrase financial penalties, perhaps it is only
because we are so far removed from it, in so many different ways.

Akiva Miller

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Date: Fri, 20 Aug 2004 01:15:11 +0200
From: "Simi Peters" <familyp2@netvision.net.il>
tikkun hamidot through eating and drinking

Can anyone direct me to sources in machshava that discuss teshuva and/or
tikkun hamidot in the area of eating and drinking? I am particularly
interested in sources from the Middle Ages or earlier, including Chazal
(on one hand), and Chassidut (on the other). Sources from Mussar would
also be of interest, but I have generally found Mussar to be depressing
rather than uplifting. (Sorry, R' Micha...and I'd be happy to be persuaded
that I'm missing something.)

I am not looking for sources that deal with: (a) how to do teshuva for
eating maachalot assurot or without bracha (i.e., averot in this area);
(b) asceticism as an ideal generally; or (c) discussions of venishmartem
me'od lenafshoseichem. What I am trying to understand is how a Jew should
relate to food and eating beyond the level of issur ve'heter.

Kol tuv,
Simi Peters

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Date: Fri, 20 Aug 2004 02:06:54 +0200
From: Daniel Eidensohn <yadmoshe@012.net.il>
Re: tikkun hamidot through eating and drinking

Simi Peters wrote:
>Can anyone direct me to sources in machshava that discuss teshuva and/or
>tikkun hamidot in the area of eating and drinking? I am particularly
>interested in sources from the Middle Ages or earlier, including Chazal
>(on one hand), and Chassidut (on the other)....
>                       What I am trying to understand is how a Jew should
>relate to food and eating beyond the level of issur ve'heter.

Two sources

1) Rabbi Doctor Aaron Wertheim - Halachos v'halichos b'Chassidus:
Chapter 5 eating on Shabbos
Chapter 6 Table of the tzadik, sherayim,
Chapter 9 drinking wine and l'chaim, smoking tobbaco and snuff.

2) Rav Yosef Lerner - Shmiras Haguf vihanfesh pages 1-156

Daniel Eidensohn

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Date: Fri, 20 Aug 2004 00:31:41 +0200
From: Daniel Eidensohn <yadmoshe@012.net.il>
Re: lice and change of nature

Moshe Schor wrote:
>RDE wrote," I am looking for contemporary poskim who 1) acknowledge the
>scientific reality 2) acknowledge that it apparently contradicts Chazal
>3) state that because the reality is not in accord with chazal therefore
>so the halacha has changed.

>Although Rav Moshe's position is equivocal regarding a pregnant woman
>where relying on change of nature would be a Kula, he is not equivocal
>regarding a nursing woman that nowadays we should be machmir. So there
>you have a Posek that does the three criteria you were looking for. Even
>regarding a pregnant woman, the editor writes in parenthesis in Igros
>Moshe YD 4,number 17, that when Rav Moshe was asked orally he would pasken
>leniently relying on Nishtanyu Hativim. It was only because of the fact
>that he was responding to Rav Eider for guidance in what to write in an
>English sefer that Rav Moshe did not want to publicize his heter

Rav Moshe did in fact posken based on change in nature - because of
pressing need. Such an understanding is found in his discussion of biopsy
for the sake of having children.

>RDE wrote, "In fact the disparity will generally be ignored [i.e., it
>is of no interest to the posek unless it is mentioned in the rishonim
>or early achronim and unless there is some major consequence."

>Did you mean that it will be ignored unless both of your conditions are
>met, or either one?

usually both but in circumstances of great - need only one. Obviously
this is not an absolute rule. My point was simply that there is not
a simple evaluation of nature as it is - through the eyes of halacha.
Whenever the current science disagrees with that of chazal these two
factors increase the likelihood that metzius will be utilitzed. If
neither of these factors exist it is not likely.

>What do you consider a major consequence?

Something like having to divorce one's wife upon having a prostate
operation. Inability to determine reason for infertility and thus no
kids. Possibility of violating hilchos nida. Unable to remarry because
according to Chazal she will be damaging her child by not nursing for
two years.

Daniel Eidensohn

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Date: Thu, 19 Aug 2004 17:36:44 -0400
From: Gil Student <gil.student@gmail.com>
RE: lice and change of nature

Also, the Piskei Teshuvos seems to pasken like the Shevet HaKehasi -
that nishtaneh ha-teva so killing lice is prohibited.

[Email #2. -mi]

>3. Halacha is a legal system. A law that is legislated properly 
>is valid, regardless of the "reality." It may later be repealed or 
>amended, but until that is done, it remains the law. The same 
>is true concerning a judgment of a court - it is valid, so long as 
>it is based on the law in effect at the time. Even if the reality is 
>proven otherwise, as long as the law is not repealed or 
>amended it remains the law.

I assume that RYGB holds that the teva did not change but if it did
then nishtaneh ha-teva would be valid here like it is in other places.
Unless RYGB invalidates all cases of nishtaneh ha-teva.

Regarding gezeiros, many poskim hold (and I believe this is normative)
that when the reason no longer applies the gezeirah still applies UNLESS
the original gezeirah was issued together with the reason. In that case,
if the reason no longer applies then neither does the gezeirah.

I would tentatively suggest that the case of killing lice on Shabbos
is sufficiently similar to that of a gezeirah that was issued with
its reason.

Gil Student
Yashar Books Inc.

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Date: Fri, 20 Aug 2004 01:50:56 +0200
From: Daniel Eidensohn <yadmoshe@012.net.il>
Re: Lice

Yosef Gavriel & Shoshanah M. Bechhofer wrote:
>> RYGB asserts: What chazal say is correct by definition. Even if
>> objectively it is wrong - it becomes reality because they said it.
>> Therefore even though R' Eliezar had correctly reported the halacha as
>> given at Sinai - since Chazal disagreed with him - the Torah was changed
>> to be in accord with Chazal. Consequently if they say that lice don't
>> reproduce sexually - that creates a metzius that they don't reproduce
>> sexually. If they say that it is permitted to kill lice on Shabbos -

> Nope. They may well still reproduce sexually. Halachic reality is not
> necessarily congruent with physical reality. To put it crudely and
> oversimplistically, Halachic reality does nor define natural processes,
> but whether an act will land you in Olam Ha'Bo or Gehinnom.

Thank you for your clarification that Chazal's statements about physical 
reality are not binding and are  not necessarily correct -  but their 
halachic views always are.. But you still need to bear with me as I try 
to understand your position.

Your position seems to be identical with that of Rav Dessler as 
expressed by R' Carmel in Michtav M'Eliyahu Vol 4 note 4 page 355.  
"When Rav Dessler was asked concerning  certain halachos that the reason 
that had been given for them is not in accord with modern science... (3) 
This that it is permitted to kill lice because they don't reproduce 
sexually (Shabbos 107b. Rav Dessler stated that concerning these and 
those like them - the halacha never changes even though the reason 
doesn't make sense to us. We are to hold on to the halacha with two 
hands whether to be machmir or meikal [not like the Pachad Yitzchok]. 
The reason for this is that the halacha was known to Chazal by tradition 
through the generations and they also knew things through experience.... 
The important point is that the reasoning they gave did not create the 
halacha but rather the reverse was true - the halacha created the 
reasoning. The reasoning given in the gemora is not the only possible 
explanation. If they happened to give explanations on occasion which 
were only true according to the science of their day - we have an 
obligation to search out alternative explanations that will justify the 
halacha according to modern science.... Even if one can not find a 
convincing explanation - we must still believe with perfect faith that 
the halacha is still true and we hope that G-d will enlighten us with an 
appropriate explanation.

Assuming that the above is your position - it follows that the halacha
is not in fact based upon reasoning because the reasoning is just a
rationalization after the fact. Furthermore it follows that Chazal could
be wrong about the nature of scientific facts - but that does not change
the halacha which was not generated by the facts.

>> Now come and see how far the view of the Rambam is from that of the
>> Rashba in his responsum 98 in which he seeks to deny, on the strength
>> of the tradition of Hazal, the reality that is evident to everyone.
>> But the Rambam had a different view when he said that since it had been
>> accepted in Jewish courts that these injuries and diseases were treiphot,
>> and through the redaction of the Talmud that acceptance had been preserved
>> for the generations, we have only what the Sages enumerated whether
>> it be for leniency or stringency. And the proof is that concerning a
>> murderer we judge him based on the evaluation of the physicians whether
>> it be for leniency or stringency, and we do not consider the tradition
>> of Hazal concerning the treiphot of an animal.

It seems from the above quote however there is at least a dispute amongst
the Rishonim as to whether this is the way to understand the issue. Rambam
is purported to assert that for the sake of preserving the authority of
the system - physical reality is irrelevant. Rashba obvious felt that
reasoning of chazal was in fact the basis of the halacha. I must add that
in fact the Rashba felt this was necessary only when halacha l' Moshe
m'Sinai was involved. R' Cohen also asserts in his article that R' Moshe
also felt that where halacha l'Moshe m'Sinai one could not change the
halacha . Rashba did accept the concept of nishtana hateva in other cases.

What I am getting at is that the idea of nishtane hateva does not seem
to work according to your theory. Or rather why should we care if teva
has changed since the halacha is independent of teva?

>> So it obvious that if Hazal were deciding then according to the current
>> state of scientific knowledge, knowing that all living creature procreate,
>> they would not have allowed the killing of a louse on the Sabbath or to
>> eat wormy cheese just because the preceding generations had believed
>> that these living creatures are generated spontaneously

Thus there can not be any posek who would permit killing lice - for any
reason - but there are!

>> However, all this was possible only as long as the tradition and the
>> interpretation was not written down and sealed with an iron pen and a
>> secure nail. But once it came to pass that there was an overwhelming
>> necessity to ensure the survival for generations of the Oral Law, we
>> have no authority to change even the end of a "yod" in what they agreed
>> to and what they decided upon whether it concerns the interpretation of
>> Scripture or it concerns scientific understanding. For all their Torah
>> is holy for us, and we may not depart from it, just as the Rambam wrote
>> in hilkhot shehitah, as I quoted earlier.

Contrary to your assertion - the DR above states we can not disagree
with chazal even when it comes to scientific explanation - since the
Oral Law has been put in writing. I think we need to assume at this
point that you are not in fact following the position of the DR

>> to agree with their statements? Rav Yosef Karo was wrong when he said
>> the authority of the Talmud comes about because it had been accepted by
>> Klall Yisroel. He should have said the Talmud is authoritative because
>> Chazal composed it. The Rambam similarly was mistaken because in his
>> introduction to Mishneh Torah he likewise fails to give your reason for
>> the authority of Chazal?

> We have discussed this here in the past - the acceptance is the flip side
> of the coin of their capacity to determine Halachic reality ba'elyonim.
> Their capacity to be po'eil ba'elyonim is the reason why there was
> universal acceptance.

The Chazon Ish criticized Rav Yosef Karo for not stating that the
authority of Chazal derived from their superiority. The fact remains
that neither Rav Yosef Karo or the Rambam seem to agree with Chazon Ish
- as we have discussed in the past. From the quote you have provided of
the DR - he doesn't either. As a minimum we can agree that there is no
citation of either Rav Yosef Karo or the Rambam which clearly supports
the view of the Chazon Ish and what they do say seems to indicate they
reject it. Consequently you are assuming to be universally accepted
as true that which is being disputed. According to the DR one can not
question Chazal - after they were written down - simply because it
undermines their authority. You assert that they can not be questioned
because they are transcendentally superior in understanding halacha.

>> Furthermore those poskim who assert that today one in fact should not
>> not kill kinim because lice today do reproduce sexually - Rav Eliyashiv,
>> Rav Nissan Karellitz (according to R' Jonathan Ostroff's posting) and
>> Rav Kapach - are apparently unaware of your principle?!

> Nope. RYSE stated quite clearly that he is choshesh that our lice are not
> the same lice that Chazal considered. Lu yitzuyar that you could convinve
> RYSE that our lice are ben achar ben :-) the same lice that Chazal had,
> then ipso facto he would be mattir killing the lice.

I am completely baffled by this statement. You assert that halacha
is independent of explanation. Thus it is absolutely true that it is
permitted to kill them on Shabbos. Now you say that Chazal's lice are
different than ours. Chazal's lice reproduced asexually and that is why
they can be killed.

> I hope I have clarified that you did not understand what I was asserting.

Yes you have convinced me that I don't understand what you are
asserting. If you have the patience please explain the following 1) Is
the halacha absolutely independent of the explanation and the physical
facts? 2) How do you justify concepts of change in nature - when nature
does not create the halacha in the first place 3) Are you in agreement
with the DR that once TSP is written we can not disagree with either the
halacha or the scientific explanation because that would undermine their
authority? 4) Do you acknowledge - like Rav Dessler - that the scientific
explanations of Chazal might be in error? 4) Why does it make a difference
whether the lice of today are the same as those of Chazal? 5) Do you have
a single citation of either the Rambam and Rav Yosef Karo that indicates
that the halachic authority of Chazal was because of their superiority?

Daniel Eidensohn

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Date: Thu, 19 Aug 2004 18:01:30 -0400
From: "Zev Sero" <zev@sero.name>
RE: Pi

"Jonathan Ostroff" <jonathan@yorku.ca> wrote:
> Tosefos HaRosh (Eruvin 14a) specifically states that the value of Pi is
> not in disagreement with Chazal. When the Talmud says "mena hani mili"
> it means:

> (A) How do we have a licence to record Pi as 3, i.e. as an
> appoximation. The Talmud anwers that the licence is from Scripture
> (i.e. Solomon's pool where it is also recorded approximately).

and Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org> wrote:
> I must have had a rebbe who explained this gemara according to the
> Tosafos haRosh. I understood the gemara to mean that one can hold pi
> is three, and not a closer approximation, and didn't realize that 
> wasn't the most naive read until this thread forced me to reopen the
> gemara.

I don't understand how the gemara can be read that way at all. The gemara
seems convinced that the dimensions of the yam shel shlomo were exact
without even a tiny bit of inaccuracy, and insists on accounting for the
thickness of the walls, even after declaring that they were extremely
thin. None of the commentaries on the Tanach, or on the mishna that the
gemara is commenting on, seem to have this concern, they're all happy to
say that the numbers in both places are rounded (i.e. the true diameter
of the yam was between 9.5 and 30.5/pi, and the true circumference was
between 9.5*pi and 30.5). The Tosefos Harosh could learn the mishna very
easily that way. But how can he learn the gemara that way?

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Date: Thu, 19 Aug 2004 18:48:21 -0400
From: "" <hlampel@thejnet.com>
Age of the Universe and Creation

On Tue, 17 Aug 2004 , Harry Maryles <hmaryles@yahoo.com> posted:
> The Torah was not meant as an explanation of how God created the world.
> He told us WHAT He did, Not HOW he did it,... 

It tells us how He did it to some extent, which could use explanation to 
be expanded upon and have details filled in. But not to contradict it. 

> How DID He do it? I don't see that anywhere in the P'sukim. Would you 
> care to expound?

Sure. First, on day one, after creating the heavens and the earth, and
the earth was void and without form, He said, "Let there be Light." There
was morning and evening, and then came the second day. On that day, He
had the earth bring forth vegetation, and on the following five days he
placed the celestial bodies in the sky, had the waters swarm with aquatic
creatures and the sky with flying creatures. Finally, on the sixth day, He
had the earth (not, incidentally, the fish or birds) bring forth animals
and, independently, the first human being. But I'm sure you knew all this.

If you're asking how Hashem created physical objects out of nothingness,
which has been considered by many a philosophical impossibility, that
has long been recognized as a deep mystery. But the Torah leaves no
mystery about the fact that humans are not descendants of animals,
which are not descendents of fish or birds. And it leaves no mystery
about the basic length of time Hashem took to do it. It even goes out
of its way to restate several times that it was done in six days.

If you're asking for further details in the creation process, the
midrashim (often in esoteric, symbolical language beyond my understanding)
and meforshim supply some of them. But they do not veer from the facts
as stated.

> It says six days. Where do you see 5764 (to be exact) years ago?

Add up the years the Torah gives for the lives of Adam and his
descendents, and you'll get your answer, give or take six days.

> ...and [the Torah in B'raishis] used terminology that we could
> understand...at many different levels: Lashon Bnei Adam.

> What would be hard to understand about "In the Beginning, G-d created
> the earth over a very long time," or "...over billions of years," or
> over a period of six epochs?"

> ... it isn't a question of being hard to understand.

So what did you mean by "...and used terminology that we could
understand...at many different levels: Lashon Bnei Adam"? I thought you
were implying that the simpletons of past generations could not handle
the concept of a creation taking place through guided evolution over a
period of a ka-zillion years, and therefore Hashem had to present it in
terms of one week. (Wasn't the fact of a six-day creation the subject of
discussion?)That's why I responded, "Do you think people who can deal
with the original human life spans of upwards of 900 years could not
deal with this?"

> ... All we know is that we start counting at some point after Brias
> HaOlam and the count began 5764 years ago.

AT SOME POINT?? See above. And below.

> If you want to say that we start the count at the moment of the creation
> that's up to you. But I do not believe that we are required to believe
> that. If you have a source in the Gemora or Rishonim that requires us
> to count that way I'd like to see it.

Chazal's counting is from the year "-1" or "0" from the creation of
Adam. People who know about the Jewish calendar can give more detail. As
for other Rishonic sources, I'm planning to post them in response to
RMB's challenge, but as a preview, consider these two:

Rabbaynu Saadia Gaon, Sefer Emunah V'haDeyoss, end of first chapter:
"And the third opinion, the opinion of the k'sillim... And perhaps one [of
them] will say, 'How can the intellect accept that the world has existed
for only 4,693 years?' And we will answer that once we believe that the
world was created, it is impossible that it had no beginning. Don't you
see: if we, the created, were in the year 100 from the creation of the
world, would we be astounded and deny this? All the less should we deny
[the truth of] this period [of 4,693 years]."

Rabbaynu Yehudah HaLevy, Sefer HaKuzari, Part One, par. 43ff:

The Rabbi:... "Moses told them that which is [otherwise] hidden, and
told them how the world was created... and the years of the world from
Adam until now."

The Khazar King: "This too is an astounding thing, if you have a clear
count from the beginning of the world!"

The Rabbi: "With it we count. And there is no disagreement between any
two Jews [about this] from Hodu to Cush!"

The Khazar King: And what is your count today?"

The Rabbi: "5,400 years." 

> Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki explains that... he actually created the sun
> and its luminaries then [on the first, not fourth, day]as well...

> Rashi is citing a medrash, not subjecting the Torah to his own theories, 
> and, as others have pointed out, is dealing with conforming otherwise 
> conflicting p'sukim. 

> Rashi is quoting the Gemora in Chaggigah 12A. There is no contradiction.
> The existence of light is not dependant on our sun. It is an independent
> creation. In fact the heavens and the earth created on the first day,
> were created from fire (which by its nature emits light) and water proving
> that light was created before the sun. So, where's the contradiction?

I like your p'shat; you were m'kavven to the the Rambam, Ramban,
Abarbanel, Malbim and Rav Avigdor Miller, z"l. But Rashi's p'shat,
as you point out, is a citation from Chaggiga 12A, which reads: "And
was Light created on the first day? But it is written, 'And G-d placed
them in the sky... on the fourth day"! The Sages answer: These were the
very lights that were created on the first day, but were not positioned
[in the heavens] until the fourth day."

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Date: Thu, 19 Aug 2004 19:17:06 -0400
From: "Zev Sero" <zev@sero.name>
RE: WAS Evolution and Creationism

Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org> wrote:
> You can ask the same thing about the difference between parashas Emor
> and avodas Yom haKippurim. TSBP doesn't insist on literalness, why do
> you?

Please expand on this. I thought the description in Emor was literal,
just not complete.

> Are the dual creationists, the Ramban (and his talmid R' Yitzchaq
> mei'Aqqo), the Zohar, the Tif'eres Yisrael, outside the realm of the
> mesorah?

I thought the AriZal says they don't mean physical creations.

> On Sun, Aug 15, 2004 at 05:23:31PM -0400, Zev Sero wrote:
>> Rather, He was like an artist depicting a scene that only exists
>> in his imagination, and depicting it with complete thoroughness 
>> that a viewer could imagine himself there, and very easily believe
>> it to be true, if he didn't know otherwise.

> I don't see how this answers the question. All your saying is that
> once Hashem strove to create a natural-looking universe, He would
> of course do a thorough and perfect job.

> It doesn't answer why he would choose to make that scene.

Because Hashem is a Realist artist?

> G-d could have given certain parts of the world control over the 
> fuel supply myriads of other ways. I think that's RHM's point about
> the dinosaurs being redundant, but made more broadly.

The prevailing theory is that petroleum and coal come from
fossilised plants and animals, but that theory is being challenged.
See http://www.gasresources.net. I don't know nearly enough to decide
whether this is plausible or obvious crackpottery.

> Another problem with using science to explain Torah is raised by a post
> of RZS. On Mon, Aug 16, 2004 at 12:46:25PM -0400, Zev Sero wrote:
>> Only if you view randomness as something that 'just happens'. 
>> Quantum mechanics may give us a clue to the real meaning of hashgacha
>> pratit: the big puzzle of QM is how it actually works...

> Unless it turns out that Afshar's experiment is real, and really
> disproves the non-determinism of the Copenhagen Interpretation of QM. 
> As he writes it "may give us a clue", but then, it may not.

Precisely, and whenever I present this idea I make sure to qualify it in
this way. So long as the current understanding of QM holds up, my idea
can be tentatively advanced, but it doesn't pay to get too invested in
it, because the science may shift.

To extend my art analogy: no matter how realistic a painting is, when
you examine it sufficiently closely the realism breaks down. Eventually
you get it down to individual pixels, and you can see the artist's hand.
Perhaps the quantum level is where even the perfect work of art that is
this world breaks down, and you can see the Yad Hashem. Or perhaps we
will discover a perfectly rational (i.e. teva-based) explanation for QM,
which would mean that if the Yad Hashem can be seen at all, it will at
a deeper level yet, or not at all.

Go to top.

Date: Thu, 19 Aug 2004 18:57:19 -0700 (PDT)
From: Harry Maryles <hmaryles@yahoo.com>
Re: Age of the Universe and Creation

<hlampel@thejnet.com> wrote:
> On Tue, 17 Aug 2004 , Harry Maryles <hmaryles@yahoo.com> posted:
>> How DID He do it (create the universe)? 
> First, on day one, after creating the heavens and the earth, and
> the earth was void and without form, He said, "Let there be Light." There
> was morning and evening, and then came the second day... 

> ...I'm sure you knew all this.

All this tells us is what, not how.

> If you're asking how Hashem created physical objects out of
> nothingness,

I believe that currently, most scientists, even atheists, believe in the
Yesh MeAyin of the Big Bang. Yesh MeAyin is not exclusively the Torah
point of view.

> But the Torah leaves no
> mystery about the fact that humans are not descendants of animals,
> which are not descendents of fish or birds.

I am not disputing that man is an independent creation, although
I believe there is room for interpretation there as well. AIUI, Dr.
Gerald Schroeder believes that Adam's creation was quite possibly that
moment in evolutionary history that he was given the ability to think
rationally. Incidentally, evolution does not say that man descended from
animals but that all present day biological organisms, whether paramecium
or man, descended from a common single celled ancestor and... that later
along the evolutionary line, both man and ape descended from a common
"apelike" ancestor. No scientist whether atheist or religious has ever
stated that man descended from an ape.

> And it leaves no mystery
> about the basic length of time Hashem took to do it. It even goes out
> of its way to restate several times that it was done in six days.

...if you prefer the literal interpretation as you do.

> If you're asking for further details in the creation process, the
> midrashim (often in esoteric, symbolical language beyond my understanding)
> and meforshim supply some of them. But they do not veer from the facts
> as stated.

The difference between your beliefs and mine is that you absolutely
refuse to see or accept any scientific data as valid, the minute it
suggests departure from a literal interpretaion of Bereishis.

> I thought you
> were implying that the simpletons of past generations could not handle
> the concept of a creation taking place through guided evolution over a
> period of a ka-zillion years, and therefore Hashem had to present it in
> terms of one week. 

I said nothing of the kind. Why must you assume that I am God forbid
disparaging previous generations? They were giants. I hold no less of
their greatness than you do. What I ..DO.. believe is that they did
not have the massive amounts of scientific data nor the technology and
instrumentation we have today to discover, accumulate, and analyze that
data. (...such as carbon dating, radio-telescopes, computer technology...
just to mention an infinitesimal fraction of what we have, compared to
what all of mankind had just a mere 200 years ago) If they had, maybe
they would be saying some of the same things I and others are saying.


Go to top.


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