Avodah Mailing List

Volume 14 : Number 045

Tuesday, December 21 2004

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Sun, 19 Dec 2004 16:10:58 +0200
From: Eli Turkel <turkel@post.tau.ac.il>

Micha writes
> Another answer for Chanukah's omission from the mishnah. More derashah
> than anything I'd personally find historically convincing, but a nice
> thought.

I agree that it is not historically convincing. It is not at all clear
that the Saducees existed before Chanukah. In any case they were not the
enemy. The true enemy were the "mitavnim" among the Jews. These people
did not distinguish between the oral and written law. On the contrary
they were out to destroy shabbat, Brit Milah and even have idol worship.

kol tuv,
Eli Turkel

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Date: Mon, 20 Dec 2004 21:08:05 +0200
From: Saul Mashbaum <smash52@netvision.net.il>
Ono in Hallel

In Avodah V14 #40, Danny Schoemann schoemann@lucent.com asked about Ono
in Hallel

Without answering the question, I wish to repeat a story I heard from
Rav Asher Weiss.

A rebbe mentioned to his chassidim at the end of a fahrbrengen that it
is particularly important to say "Ono Hashem..." which was to be said the
next morning in Hallel, with kavana. After the rebbe left, the chassidim
discussed among themselves whether the rebbe meant "Ono Hashem hoshia na"
or "Ono Hashem hatzlicha na". The next morning there was no opportunity
to ask the rebbe which he meant before Hallel, so some had particular
kavana while reciting the first verse, and some while reciting the second.
When asked after davening which "Ono" he was referring to, the rebbe said
"Neither. The main thing is 'Ono Hashem ki ani avdecha...' Once a person
realizes that he is an eved Hashem, other things fall in place."

Supplication is important, but even more essential is the sense of
confrontation with, and subjugation to, the Divine.

Saul Mashbaum

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Date: Sun, 19 Dec 2004 08:46:34 -0500
From: Chaim G Steinmetz <cgsteinmetz@juno.com>

From: brian.m.gopin@jpmorgan.com
> DISCUSSION: Several contemporary poskim address this issue and the
> consensus is that it is not permitted. They explain that the mitzvah of
> lighting Chanukah candles was instituted specifically to be performed in
> one's home or in a place where one is residing temporarily. Reciting the
> blessings over candles lit outside of one's home may be a brachah
> l'vatalah.(10)

> 10 Minchas Yitzchak 6:65; Harav S.Z. Auerbach (quoted in Az Nidberu
> 6:75); Shevet ha-Levi 4:65; Teshuvos v'Hanhagos 1:398.

As in every such issue, there are other opinions, see Yabia Omer v
7 OH # 57:6 who permits it, see also abovementioned Oz Nidberu who
permits it if it is outdoors (but is hesitant to permit indoors), see
also abovementioned Shevet Halevi who even though he is against it,
attests that there were places ("medinos") who used to make brochos at
such gatherings, but he doesn't know if "ruach chachomim noche mehem".

Bottom line - 2 opinions on the matter.

Chaim Gershon Steinmetz

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Date: Sun, 19 Dec 2004 14:16:08 -0500
From: "Leonid Portnoy" <leonid.portnoy@verizon.net>
RE: Torah and Science

On Wed, 15 Dec 2004, Meir.Shinnar@rwjuh.edu wrote:
> To the extent that G-d can
>do as he wishes, he has the freedom to act, and he could have created
>the world yesterday, or 5800 years ago, to look as if it is very old.
>(Leo Strauss has argued this as to why science poses no real problem
>to religion)

>While no scientific proof can disprove this, this position has the
>following problem - because it implies something about hashem and the
>world. It means that 1) I can't rely on any deduction and observation
>that I make about the world

That's not correct. It only implies that you can not use current
observations to extrapolate backwards into the past. You can, however,
use current observations to exrapolate into the future. Real science
(physics) is technically only about this: create testable theories
based on empirical data, then either falsify these theories or verify
(not prove [see Popper]) them. The theories should be of the form that
takes currently observed state of some system as input, and predicts what
the observed state will be some time t from that time. That is the only
form open to falsification. 'Theories' which predict the past instead
of the future are not falsifiable.

This, essentially, is the extent of physics - "tell me what is now, and
I'll predict the future". All else is metaphysics and speculation. As
far as relying on these scientific predictions - that is each person's
individual choice. Obviously it simplifies life greatly to rely on laws
of thermodynamics and mechanics (for example) when operating a car. You
might even entrust your life to what these laws predict. But that is
no guarantee that they apply universally (e.g. in another galaxy, or a
million years from now). The view that the world was created old 5800
years ago does not change this situation in any way.

>2) hashem created the world in a fashion
>that would lead us, if we would use our own minds in the best possible
>fashion, but independently on mesora, to wrong conclusions.

You make the assumptions that :

1. To use our minds in accordance with the scientific method and the
mathematical (logical) apparatus developed over the past 300 years is
considered "using our minds in the best possible fashion".

2. To extrapolate backwards in time based on current observations is the
'best' our minds can do.

We should not get too arrogant about the science that we have today. To
a higher being, our scientific theories might be as laughable as the
theories of 3000 years ago are to us. Someone living back then might
have said that "the Earth sits on the back of a giant whale" is the
best he could come up with while using his mind in the 'best possible
fashion'. Indeed, the best possible use of his mind during that time
would yield incorrect conclusions - the same might apply in our times. And
just as we view it as perfectly normal for people to have reached wrong
conclusions back then (even while using the best knowledge that they
had), it is perfectly normal for that to happen now. Why should make
complaints to G-d about this?


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Date: Sat, 18 Dec 2004 22:13:37 EST
From: Mlevinmd@aol.com
Eshes Pinchas

When Yakov says "Whoever stole the teraphim, he will not live," I.E. says
that means, "I, Yakov, will put him to death." As stated above, this
seems to be the correct penalty for geneivah.

I.E. then mentions another opinion, only to dismiss it. "Some say this
was a tefillah (i.e., may he die) and that's why Rochel died." He then
adds sarcastically, "If so, who will inform us who davened for the wife
of Pinchas [to die]?--Mi hispallel al eshes Pinchas?"

He seems to be saying that Eshes Pinchas died for no stated reason--no one
prayed for her death or wished it on her. And therefore he's suggesting
that a man's wife can die just because. But--what's the story on Eshes
Pinchas? Where do we see in Tanach or other sources anything about
Eshes Pinchas?

I think that he means the wife of Pinchas ben Eli as described in Shmuel
I:4,20. Her husband stole sacrificial portions and he dies in the war
with Plishtim, and she dies in childbirth.

M. Levin

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Date: Sat, 18 Dec 2004 19:44:14 +0200
From: Daniel Eidensohn <yadmoshe@012.net.il>
Re: Authenticity of Zohar

Moshe Feldman wrote:
>I came across an article in the Jewish Encyclopedia (edited during
>1901-1906), available online at
>in which the following statement is made regarding the Zohar:

>> After the death of Moses de Leon, it is related, a rich man of
>> Avila, named Joseph, offered the widow, who had been left without
>> means, a large sum of money for the original from which her husband
>> had made the copy; and she then confessed that her husband himself was
>> the author of the work...

The following is from R' Aryeh Kaplan's Meditation and Kabbalah page 29:

"There has always been some question as to the authenticity of the Zonar,
especially among secular historians and opponents of the Kabbalah. Some
even claim that Rabbi Moshe de Leon was its actual author. The main basis
of this allegation is an account by another prominent Kabbalist of the
time, Rabbi Isaac of Acco. He writes that he went to visit Rabbi Moshe to
see the original manuscripts of the Zohar, but by the time he arrived,
he found that Rabbi Moshe had passed away. He was informed that the
manuscripts had never existed, and that Rabbi Moshe himself was the actual
author of the Zohar. It is upon this account that most of the speculation
regarding medieval authorship of the Zohar is based. There are, however,
strong questions regarding the veracity of the story told to Rabbi
Isaac. It is well known that the ignorant often destroyed manuscripts,
or on occasion, sold them so that the parchment could be reused. It
is quite possible that the wife did this, and then embarrassed at not
having them, claimed that they never existed. What is most important,
however, is the fact that Rabbi Isaac of Acco investigated the matter,
determined to ascertain the truth. Although the exact results of his
investigation are not known, it is obvious that he eventually accepted
the authenticity of the Zohar. This will be discussed at greater length
in the section on Rabbi Isaac of Acco."

Daniel Eidensohn

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Date: Sat, 18 Dec 2004 22:04:41 EST
From: Mlevinmd@aol.com
Re: Authenticity of Zohar

Posted by: moshe.feldman@gmail.com
> I came across an article in the Jewish Encyclopedia (edited during
> 1901-1906), available online at
> <http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=142&letter=Z&search=zohar>,
> in which the following statement is made regarding the Zohar:
>> After the death of Moses de Leon, it is related, a rich man of Avila,
>> named Joseph, offered the widow, who had been left without means, a large
>> sum of money for the original from which her husband had made the copy;
>> and she then confessed that her husband himselfwas the author of the
>> work. She had asked him several times, she said, why he had chosen
>> to credit his own teachings to another, and he had always answered
>> that doctrines put into the mouth of the miracle-working Simeon ben
>> Yochai would be a rich source of profit (see "Sefer ha-Yuchasin,"
>> ed. Filipowski, p. 89).

Does anyone know about the credibility of this story?  Can anyone provide
background information with regard to the Sefer ha_Yuchasin?

R. Arye Kaplan in Meditation and Kabbala suggests that she may have been
embarassed about selling such an important work for scrap parchment. He
also points out that the only contemporary to have personally investigated
the issue and spoken to this widow, came away apparently with the
conclusion that Zohar was authentic.

M. Levin

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Date: Mon, 20 Dec 2004 08:06:20 -0500
From: Zev Sero <zev@sero.name>
Re: Authenticity of Zohar

From: Moshe Feldman <moshe.feldman@gmail.com>
> Does anyone know about the credibility of this story? 

The key words here are "it is related". This claim was certainly made,
by one David di PanCorbo, but there is no way to know whether he was
telling the truth. The only record we have of R Yitzchak of Ako's
investigation is the excerpt reproduced in Sefer Hayuchsin, and that
excerpt ends in the middle. We don't know what evidence, pro or con,
is in the missing portion, or what reasoning he used in considering the
evidence he had amassed. But after concluding his investigation he to
have gone on accepting the Zohar, so presumably he ended up rejecting
this story.

See http://tinyurl.com/5uf2a

(I note without comment that this is the second Avodah thread in which
R Yitzchak of Ako makes an appearance.)

> Can anyone
> provide background information with regard to the Sefer ha_Yu?‘?¸?¥asin?

Sefer HaYuchasin is by R Avraham Zacuto, one of the exiles from Spain
and Portugal. He was a famous astronomer, whose charts were used
by Columbus and by Vasco da Gama. A biography can be found here:

Zev Sero

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Date: Mon, 20 Dec 2004 08:06:24 -0500
From: Zev Sero <zev@sero.name>
Re: Three angels real or a vision?

"David Riceman" <driceman@worldnet.att.net>
> My recollection is that the Abarbanel held that according to the Rambam
> the entire maaseh Sdom was part of Avraham's nevuah, which only ended the
> following morning when "vayashkem [signifying the end of the vision] ...
> vayashkef ... v'hinei laha kitor haaretz [signifying that the portion of
> the vision indicating that Sdom would be destroyed had been fulfilled]".
> How is Avraham's incapacity during that time a kasha on the Abarbanel?

The question isn't about Avraham, it's about Lot. For the Rambam's
opinion - that angels cannot manifest themselves physically, and therefore
that humans cannot interact with them except through nevuah - to work,
Lot would have to be popping in and out of trances in a manner that
strains credulity past the breaking point.

Remember, we're only talking about angels, not Hashem Himself; everyone
agrees that nobody except Moshe can see Hashem without going into a
nevuah-trance. That's why I suggested that even those who generally
understand angel stories as happening on the physical plane might agree
that *Avraham's* meeting with the angels did not, because it begins with
Hashem appearing to him, which *has* to have been in a vision.

Zev Sero

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Date: Mon, 20 Dec 2004 09:40:48 -0500
From: Zev Sero <zev@sero.name>
Re: Three angels real or a vision?

"Yosef Gavriel & Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <ygb@aishdas.org>
> RABHARAMBAM specifically notes how the nevuah of Yaakov was at such a high
> level that it and the tangible world were one seamless reality. Evidently,
> in the case of the Avos the normal limitations were transcended...

He does? The piece that was faxed in recently doesn't indicate that
at all. On the contrary, he compares Yaacov's fight with the angel to
an ordinary dream, and explains the fact that Yaacov woke up with an
injured thigh by referring to ordinary people waking from vivid dreams
and feeling pain that they had suffered in the dream. In other words,
he says the story did *not* take place on the physical plane, and the
injury was psychosomatic.

Are you referring to a different quote?

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Date: Mon, 20 Dec 2004 10:30:35 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Three angels real or a vision?

On Wed, Dec 15, 2004 at 08:34:26AM -0500, David Riceman wrote:
: My recollection is that the Abarbanel held that according to the Rambam
: the entire maaseh Sdom was part of Avraham's nevuah, which only ended the
: following morning when "vayashkem [signifying the end of the vision] ...
: vayashkef ... v'hinei laha kitor haaretz [signifying that the portion of
: the vision indicating that Sdom would be destroyed had been fulfilled]".
: How is Avraham's incapacity during that time a kasha on the Abarbanel?

The Abarbanel explains the Rambam as asserting both
(1) The nevu'ah runs until (velo ad bichlal) "vayashqeim..."; and
(2) The events in the nevu'ah actually occured. Nevu'ah is not a
constructed message from G-d, but a glimpse into shamayim. IOW, he saw
the actual events in shamayim related to the destruction of Sedom.

If Avraham's nevu'ah is understood as a vision of what actual mal'achim
were actually doing, but the navi couldn't actually respond, the
effectiveness of Abarbanel's answer is greatly reduced.

As I noted in the aforementioned MmD vort, this would explain the
machloqes about the kavod nivra and the Shechinah lishitasam. According
to the Rambam, the "Man" in the merkavah was a created entity which
Yechezkeil saw. According to the Ramban, it was Hashem's way of telling
Yechezkeil about His own Presence immanently going into galus with
Kelal Yisra'el.


Micha Berger             None of us will leave this place alive.
micha@aishdas.org        All that is left to us is
http://www.aishdas.org   to be as human as possible while we are here.
Fax: (270) 514-1507            - anyonyous Dr, while a Nazi prisoner

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Date: Mon, 20 Dec 2004 11:08:22 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Three angels real or a vision?

On Wed, Dec 15, 2004 at 05:42:14PM -0500, T613K@aol.com wrote:
: However, if you want to say they were just visions, there is a possible
: answer to this kushya, and it's in Rashi on Bereishis 16:13. Rashi
: compares Hagar's equanimity after seeing no fewer than four angels with
: Manoach's discomposure after seeing just one, and concludes that Hagar
: was accustomed to seeing angels in Avraham's house. The same must have
: been true of everyone in Avraham's household, including the servants and
: Lot. They would not be trembling and fainting when receiving a prophetic
: vision (IF all angels ARE prophetic visions) because they were used
: to it. Later nevi'im would be more discombobulated because nevuah was
: more rare.

This seems to be a possible sevarah embellishing RYGB's answer.

: But to repeat, I don't think it was just a vision...

Neither do I. But I am not sure enough of that to dismiss attempts to try
to understand rishonim like the Rambam, his son, or the Abarbanel. The
Abarbanel seems to say it was nevu'ah, but that doesn't mean it was
"just a vision". I thought that was the position under discussion.


Micha Berger             Here is the test to find whether your mission
micha@aishdas.org        on Earth is finished:
http://www.aishdas.org   if you're alive, it isn't.
Fax: (270) 514-1507                        - Richard Bach

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Date: Mon, 20 Dec 2004 11:10:44 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Kabbalah and Ikkarim

On Wed, Dec 15, 2004 at 11:59:31PM -0500, MPoppers@kayescholer.com wrote:
:> Examples: Brich shmei and ana v'koach were taken out.

: Taken out, or never added?! Re any Zoharic passages, seems to me there
: was an element of respect for, not of disdain for or rejection of,
: Qabbalah in not bringing passages like "brich shmai" into the davening.

We've discussed this before in terms of nafqa mina lehalakhah:

Say a Yekke comes to a minyan in which Berikh Shemei was said. If he
simply has no minhag to say it, perishah min hatzibur issues might argue
that he should say it with this minyan. However, if they bedavqa have
a minhag that it ought not be said, ie it was consciously taken out,
then it's better he doesn't.

On Wed, Dec 15, 2004 at 07:25:56PM -0500, Shinnar, Meir wrote:
: As a scientist, I accept from scientists what is good science - not
: everything that is called science. Different fields have different levels
: of validity - many physical scientists and mathematicians, for example,
: do not view the social sciences as science (some may recall a major fight
: in the late 1970s, when the Institute of Advanced Study in Princeton
: wanted to start a new sociology section, and the mathematicians publicly
: revolted). In psychology, one has to differentiate between experimental
: psychology and Freudian and related fields, etc. Therefore, the notion
: that there exists something called science, and anything that goes by
: that name is automatically correct is anathema to any real scientist.
: However, that is unrelated to our discussion. The age of the universe
: being (much, much) greater than 6000 is something that every serious
: scientist knows (not believes) to be true - the data is overwhelming.

I think you're using the word "knows" in a vague way that doesn't convey
anything beyond "belief" except your own conviction in its truth.

Knowledge is a true, justified, belief. Yes, they have justification.
And they believe it. But is it true? As I've written in the past,
the problem is really one of epistomology. What qualifies as the more
convincing proof?

The L Rebbe argues that once Chazal explored the idea of a pre-aged
universe, none of the scientific proofs of age can disprove the notion
of a 7 millenium old universe. Or, to take R Avigdor Miller's position,
since scientists once "knew" that velocities add linearly, and "knew"
that heat was conveyed by a fluid, and "knew" that electromagnatism were
waves in the ever-present ether, why do you assume that today's theory
is known rather than merely "known"?

Unlike RZL's presentation, Chazal do not say the universe was created old;
it's a machloqes tana'im. Note that in either side of this (seemingly
endless) debate, it requires selection of which ma'amarim to pay attention
to. OTOH, neither is soseir "everyone".

So, I find both extremes worrisome. I have major problems with an
epistomology that places scientific proof on such a pedestal that the role
of mesorah reduced to the gaps in our scientific understanding. That's
the pagan role of religion, to explain the scary not-yet-understood world
around them. It's the notion of religion one would find charicatured in
places like Scientific America's "The Skeptic" column.

However, I'm also bothered the equal and opposite reaction. The mesorah
does support options other than saying science is exploring a false
history, or that it's simply wrong. The full spectrum of Torah throught on
the subject is far more complex and subtle. Taking a simple and extreme
stand may be a comforting way to deal with challenge, but digging in
one heels when unnnecessary won't produce emes.

To put it another way: If one truly gives weight to both sets of data
that HQBH gave us, both the world and his Torah, the science isn't mucrach
that the universe is less than 7,000 years old, nor is the Torah muchrach
that it is. Taking either side is actually dismissing one of His "Books"
for the sake of the other.

Simply teaching children "there are many approaches, and I am not
certain which to take" teaches them not try to hide their limitations,
that there are questions that are beyond human ken, and that we needn't
dismiss either means of finding truth in order to show that there is
one Author of both.

I do not think it is inferior to the "science is wrong" approach fosters
emunah peshutah. (Which is why I didn't go for II.)


Micha Berger             A person must be very patient
micha@aishdas.org        even with himself.
http://www.aishdas.org         - attributed to R' Nachman of Breslov
Fax: (270) 514-1507      

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Date: Mon, 20 Dec 2004 16:09:26 +0200
From: "Prof. Aryeh A. Frimer" <frimea@mail.biu.ac.il>
Torah and Science

R. Moshe Turetsky  (Shu"t Yashiv Moshe YD Hilkhot Sakana,  no. 1 p. 158)
writes in the name of HaRav Elyoshiv shlita, that smoking is o.k. for Jews.
This is because most of the research in the health dangers of smoking was
done on non Jewish bodies, so it may not be dangerous for Jews. However he
wants to say, that this applies only to Jews that eat kosher food, but the
bodies of Jews that eat non kosher food, are the same as the bodies of non

Any thoughts?

Dr. Aryeh A. Frimer
Ethel and David Resnick Professor
   of Active Oxygen Chemistry
Chemistry Dept., Bar-Ilan University
E-mail: FrimeA@mail.biu.ac.il

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Date: Mon, 20 Dec 2004 10:15:48 -0500
From: Zev Sero <zev@sero.name>
1 day = 1000 years

> No; if the posuk (Tehillim 90:4) says a year is a thousand years,

This is often quoted as if the pasuk means to give a literal ratio,
but I've never seen anyone go on to the next phrase in the pasuk: 'for
a thousand years is in Your eyes like yesterday's day when it passes,
*or like a watch in the night*'. We know from gemara brachot that
a watch is either 3 or 4 hours, so the seifa of the pasuk gives us a
ratio of 1 day = 6000 or 8000 years. Why doesn't anyone run with that?
And why doesn't anyone explain the apparent 'contradiction' between the
two parts of the same pasuk? Of course, the 'stira' goes away if you
don't read either part as giving a literal ratio, but rather as comparing
a long time to a very short time.

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Date: Mon, 20 Dec 2004 12:55:13 -0500
From: "David Riceman" <driceman@worldnet.att.net>
Re: Three angels real or a vision?

From: "Zev Sero" <zev@sero.name>
> The question isn't about Avraham, it's about Lot. For the Rambam's
> opinion - that angels cannot manifest themselves physically, and therefore
> that humans cannot interact with them except through nevuah - to work,
> Lot would have to be popping in and out of trances in a manner that
> strains credulity past the breaking point.

No. According to the Rambam's opinion as understood by the Abarbanel
we know nothing of what Lot experienced. We know that Avraham saw a
prophetic vision which included scenes of Lot interacting with angels.
How to interpret such a prophetic vision is a major subject of the MN,
but I think it's clear that the Rambam would not have expected each
detail of Avraham's vision to be reenacted literally in Lot's life.
Avraham, not Lot, saw angels.

David Riceman 

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Date: Tue, 21 Dec 2004 12:39:43 EST
From: T613K@aol.com
Re: Akeidas Yitzchak [was: Torah as Allegory]

I am sorry to be sending this so late, but just came across this in my
stack of stuff. I meant to post it Rosh Hashana time. If I wait
until next Rosh Hashana, I will just forget it altogether, so here it is.

In a message dated 9/13/2004 mslatfatf@access4less.net writes:
>> One might say it is part of what made the Akeidah such a difficult
>> test--the necessity of acting with emunah peshutah while aware at some
>> intellectual level that "this just doesn't make sense." [--old TK]

> Please see RDE's recent post in which he quoted many sources for this
> concept of emunah being a step past rationality. However, in response
> to RnTK, it seems to me that the difficulty in the Akeidah was the
> emotional aspect - how can I sacrifice my own son? I would think that
> someone who has reached the level of emunah peshutah is not bothered
> at any "intellectual level" that it "doesn't make sense." Think
> of it as II. (Can I assume that people remember the acronyms I
> invent? Nah. Informed ignorance.) Once someone has made that decision
> then questions don't bother him. A listmember emailed me off-list that
> I probably sleep well at night. I do. In my opinion, so did Avrohom
> Avinu. The test was that even if you don't have any questions, and you
> accept that it is the ratzon Hashem, it is still nearly impossible to
> kill your own child.

> Moshe Yehuda Gluck
> mgluck@gmail.com

I do not agree that the test was only emotional--"It is nearly impossible
to kill your own child." We see that people kill their own children
every day, and I'm sure I'm not the only mother who gives her kids extra
hugs and kisses and thanks G-d they're safe, every time yet another
such brutal murder hits the news. In the past many parents gave their
children to the Molech, and in our own day Moslem parents teach their
children that nothing would make Mommy and Daddy happier than for their
precious kinderlach to blow themselves up on an Israeli bus.

The nisayon was intellectual, spiritual AND emotional, all wrapped
up in one complex package. Yes, a man who had waited so long for
this precious, beloved son would have an intense emotional reaction
to the idea of sacrificing him--but that emotion would only be one
factor in the test. It would be natural for him to enlist emotion
alongside of reason as mutually reinforcing reasons to disregard G-d's
[incomprehensible] command to sacrifice his child.

What gives the Akeidah such tremendous dramatic force when we read this
parsha anew every year? Why does it stand as zechus for us even now,
so many generations later? And why has it been a model and paradigm
that enabled Jewish parents to face death together with their children in
times of gezeiros shmad, to see their children dead rather than baptized,
for example, in the times of the Crusades?

I think what gives the Akeidah its force for all time is precisely
the fact that Avraham had to take TWO things that characterize Am
Yisrael--intellect and emotion--and sacrifice them both.

Here we are the am chacham venavon, people known throughout history for
our intelligence, and yet above all, we have to act on faith even when
we do not understand.

 -Toby  Katz

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Date: Tue, 21 Dec 2004 11:23:58 EST
From: Joelirich@aol.com
Parsha question

Once Yosef had given his word to bury Yaakov, why does Yaakov (according
to Rashi/medrash) need to tell Yosef why he buried Rachel where he did?
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Joel Rich

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Date: Mon, 20 Dec 2004 18:40:38 -0500
From: "Esti Witty" <ewitty@worldnet.att.net>
makom kavu'a

I am looking for mar-ei mekomos on the subject of makom kavu'a.
Berachos 6b and O"H 90:19 are known to me. I'm looking for any (more)
contemporary teshuvos about the parameters of chazaka of a makom kavu'a
and who determines those parameters, mispallelim, sheva' tuvai ha'ir,
mora d'asra.

I do not have any of the searchable CD-ROMS etc. with Sh"UT, seforim, etc.

Please reply to me off-list.
Thank you.
Noach Witty

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Date: Mon, 20 Dec 2004 15:01:42 -0500
From: "Jonathan Ostroff" <jonathan@yorku.ca>
Re: Torah and Science (a challenge)

>> Of course, if I am wrong, RHM should at the very least be able to produce
>> quality repeatable observable experimental evidence that unintelligent
>> natural processes can create the wondrous complexity of plan and purpose
>> found in nature. [But see the " Sudden Origins" quote below first].

> You are using a bait and switch tactic and it isn't going to work. I
> wasn't arguing about the creation of man. In my mind that is an open
> question. I have no clue as to the method God used in his creation.
> "Afar min haadama" does not necessarily mean instantaneous "afar min
> haadama". But I remain unconvinced by current evolutionaty theory.

I am pleasantly surprised and pleased that we are in agreement. I am
likewise unconvinced by current theories of evolution.

> My question was about THE AGE OF THE UNIVERSE, not the evolution of
> man. The evidence for that is far more compelling.

Please do provide the compelling evidence which you suggest exists! But,
please also identify any assumptions, extrapolations, deep theory involving
hypothetical and unobservable entities and stubborn anomalies in which
various dating systems conflict with each other as done in the reference

[1] http://ca.geocities.com/torah@rogers.com/science/big-bang.pdf

A practicing scientist [RYZ] had made the claim on Avodah that there was
no reason to doubt the 14 GY age of the universe via Big Bang Cosmology
(BBC). RHM participated in those discussions surrounding [1] and
should therefore be aware of the more than five major reasons to doubt
the claimed age -- some of these reasons or concerns were described by
famous cosmologists as hanging like a "dark cloud" over BBC [1]. I did
not see a refutation from RHM of any of these concerns and consider his
claims of "compelling evidence" unsubstantiated until the promissory
notes are delivered and detailed as done in [1].

Being that I am not an expert in the area, I am sure that if I am headed
in the wrong direction, practicing scientists on Avodah, who are much
more qualified than I am, will set me right. I am cc'ing some of these
scientists (with this post) who have participated in the discussion, so
as to give the above concerns the widest possible opportunity of being
refuted. Of course any refutation should provide the appropriate backup
from the professional literature.

It is interesting that up to 70 years ago the age of the universe was
thought to be t = -\infinity, and then there was a remarkable switch
from a static eternal universe to a finite age of t = 14 GY.

I have not heard a satisfying answer on Avodah as to how such a dating
error of infinite proportions was made based on the best science of the
day (a good answer, that explains how many deeply held theories are now
on the junk heap, is provided in [1]).

Some posts have indicated that we now know much more now. True! But we
still invoke the same kinds assumptions, extrapolations, deep theory
involving hypothetical and unobservable entities and stubborn anomalies
in which various dating systems conflict with each other, that made t =
-\infinity vulnerable to experimental disconfirmation.

These same concerns exist today, and I present some of them one more
time below. When you see what is involved in getting at the 14 GY value,
statements such as "compelling evidence" or "incontrovertible evidence"
are pretty much meaningless in my opinion, unless clear evidence to the
contrary can be produced.


(Note that alternative theories to BBC may return to an eternal universe
or other unacceptable possibilities, but until these alternative theories
become the dominant paradigm we need not investigate further for now.)

On May 17th, 2004, Alan Guth of MIT made a presentation at ICCS'04 in
which his slides state that "We have never had a model of the universe
that works so well" (p17), referring to the current inflationary hot
big bang model.

[2] http://www-ctp.mit.edu/~guth/iccs/iccs-guth.pdf

As a major piece of evidence for his claim, he stated that "Latest
Observations by WMAP Satellite: \Omega = 1.02 +-.02." (p8) which matched
the BBC prediction of \Omega = 1.000000000000000.


However, on the 22nd of May, 2004, thirty three scientists signed a letter
stating that BBC had already been refuted by experimental observation --
see [1] for the reference.

Confused? Of course. At least I am. As a layman, I usually rely on the
experts. But if the experts argue or omit relevant data, then we need
to investigate for ourselves especially on matters that contradict
our mesora.

What Alan Guth omitted to make clear in his slides is the following:

1. The big bang horizon problem forced Guth and other cosmologists to
postulate inflation.

2. Inflation has never been directly confirmed experimentally.

3. With inflation, the model predicts \Omega = 1.0.

4. This means that there has to be vast amounts of matter in the universe
 -- but current observed and predicted values are an order of magnitude

5. To solve this problem cosmologists hypothesize that there is some
missing matter called "dark matter". This missing and unobservable matter
makes up most of the mass of the universe. (Guth puts \Omega_dark =
.73 which allows him to fudge \Omega = 1.02).

6. Dark matter has never been directly experimentally observed in the
over 20 years since it was first postulated.

7. Such a large amount of dark matter would make the universe at most 8
GY old considerably less than the oldest stars (12 GY). This is because
the gravity of the extra mass would slow the expansion.

8. Therefore Guth needs an unconfirmed dark energy field (based on a
cosmological constant) to speed up the expansion.

9. The WMAP data quoted by Guth for his value of \Omega was based on
curve fitting involving seven adjustable parameters -- even so the fit
was not good with the probability of the curve actually fitting the data
being less than 5%.

"In no other field of physics would the introduction of three hypothetical
entities, each unconfirmed by experimental evidence, be allowed to save
a theory. In addition, the hypothetical dark energy field violates
one of the best-tested laws of physics-the conservation of energy
and matter-since the field produces energy at a titanic rate out of
nothingness." [3]

As support for the above I quote below Eric Lerner (one of the 33
scientists) in the professional archival literature. Notice the quote
right at the end -- an amazing statement to appear in a peer-reviewed
journal. He is not the only one making such accusationss.

[3] Lerner, E.J. Two World Systems Revisited: A Comparison of Plasma
Cosmology and the Big Bang. IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science, 31(6), p.
1268-1275, 2003.

==== Some quotes from [3]


The Big Bang theory requires three hypothetical entities-the inflation
field, nonbaryonic (dark) matter, and the dark energy field-to overcome
gross contradictions between theory and observation. Yet no evidence has
ever confirmed the existence of any of these three hypothetical entities.

In each of these cases, the hypothetical entities were introduced without
any physical justification purely to address contradictions with
observations that would have otherwise led to the rejection of the Big Bang
theory. The inflation field, which causes a super-rapid expansion of the
early universe, was introduced after it was realized that the "horizon
problem" prevented parts of the universe that are currently more than a few
degrees apart on the sky from coming to the same equilibrium temperature,
and thus producing the same temperature background radiation, as observed.
Without this field, the Big Bang does not predict an isotropic CBR. 

But the inflation hypothesis predicted a matter-energy density
for the universe equal to the critical closure density, \Omega
= 1.0. Unfortunately, Big Bang nucleosynthesis predictions of the
abundance of ordinary baryonic matter predicts [approximately] \Omega <
.05, a gross self-contradiction. The idea of nonbaryonic (dark) matter
was introduced to overcome this contradiction. By this hypothesis, 95%
of the matter in the universe did not participate in the reactions that
formed the light elements.

However, such a large amount of matter would cause a marked deceleration
of the expansion of the universe and led to predictions that the age of
the universe was less than 10 GY, considerably less that the age of the
oldest globular clusters in the Milky Way. To overcome this problem, as
well as growing evidence that there could not be anywhere near this much
gravitating matter, cosmologists introduced the cosmological constant
and the corresponding dark energy field, which would account for 70%
of the matter-energy in the universe, accelerate expansion, and increase
the predicted age of the universe to 14 GY.

In no other field of physics would the introduction of three hypothetical
entities, each unconfirmed by experimental evidence, be allowed to save
a theory. In addition, the hypothetical dark energy field violates
one of the best-tested laws of physics-the conservation of energy
and matter-since the field produces energy at a titanic rate out of
nothingness. No evidence has ever indicated the existence of nonbaryonic
matter. Indeed, there have been many lab experiments over the past 23
years that have searched for nonbaryonic matter, all with negative results
[15]. Continued discovery of more ordinary matter in the form of white
dwarfs [16] and diffuse plasma clouds [17] has further decreased the
ability of theorists to claim that there is far more matter detected by
gravitational attraction than can be accounted for by ordinary matter.

Moreover, the Big Bang theory relies fundamentally on the violation of
another very well-confirmed conservation law-conservation of baryon
number. This law dictates that baryons and antibaryons are always
produced from energy in equal numbers, and has been confirmed up to
Tev energies. Yet an equal mixture of baryons and antibaryons at high
density as in the Big Bang would result in an extremely dilute universe
[1], so the Big Bang requires baryon nonconservation, in conflict with
all existing observations. Such baryon nonconservation also implies
a finite lifetime for the proton, a prediction also contradicted by
extensive experiments unsuccessfully seeking proton decay.



All the basic predictions of the Big Bang theory have been repeatedly
refuted by observation. The plasma cosmology approach has been supported
by thousands of times less resources than has the Big Bang, but it has
presented alternative explanations for many of the basic phenomena of
the universe, has predicted new phenomena, and has not been contradicted
by any evidence. Yet the Big Bang remains by far the domain cosmological
model. It is appropriate to ask why this is so.

Even the most blunt contradictions of theory and observation are viewed
by Big Bang advocates as, at most, the indications of "new physics,"
never a refutation of the theory. For example, Peebles, in considering
the void phenomenon, admits that there is an "apparent inconsistency
between theory and observation," but does not conclude that theory is in
any way imperiled [48], rather only that an "adjustment of the model" may
be necessary. Similarly, Cyburt et al. [15] agree that there are "clear
contradictions" between BBN predictions and light element abundances,
but conclude that "systematic uncertainties have been underestimated,"
not that the theory is wrong. Consistently new observations have led
to new parameters, such as dark matter and dark energy, so that the
number of adjustable parameters in cosmological theories has increased
exponentially with time, approximately doubling each decade.

Four hundred years ago, a similar situation existed, at least in Catholic
countries. Sixty years after the formulation of Copernican hypothesis,
the Ptolemaic view of the solar system remained the dominant one among
Continental astronomers. Galileo's elegant comparison of the Copernican
and Ptolemaic systems, his Dialog on Two World Systems, should have ended
any scientific doubt as to the validity of the Copernican approach. Yet
many additional decades would pass before the Copernican system, already
accepted at that time in England, would be accepted in the Catholic
areas of Europe.

There is no mystery as to why this was so in the 16th century. The
Ptolemaic theory was a state-supported scientific theory. The Catholic
Church's advocacy of this theory would not have much mattered if the
Catholic states had not given the Church the power to enforce, with state
backing, its ideological edicts. Galileo, for his pro-Copernican writing,
was subject to a civil penalty-house arrest-and famously forced to recant
under threat of far worse penalties.

Today, the situation is similar, although the penalties for dissent are
milder: loss of funding rather than loss of liberty or life. The Big
Bang survives not because of its scientific merits, but overwhelmingly
because it has effectively become a state supported theory. Funds for
astronomical research and time on astronomical satellites are allocated
almost exclusively by various governmental bodies, such as the National
Science Foundation (NSF) and National Aeronautics and Space Administration
(NASA) in the United States. The review committees that allocate these
funds are controlled tightly by advocates of the Big Bang theory who
refuse to fund anything that calls their work into question. It is no
secret that, today, no one who pursues research that questions the Big
Bang, who develops alternatives to the Big Bang, or, for the most part,
who even investigates evidence that contradicts the Big Bang, will
receive funding. As a result, with very few exceptions, those who want
to make a career in cosmology are constrained to work within the Big
Bang framework-to do otherwise is to risk being cut off from funding,
and, if a junior researcher, from tenure.

It is beyond the scope of this review to discuss how the Big Bang
came to be state-supported theory (see [49] for a more detailed
treatment). However, as long as such bias in the funding process
continues, it will be extremely difficult for cosmology to extricate
itself from the dead-end of the Big Bang.

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