Avodah Mailing List

Volume 14 : Number 066

Sunday, January 30 2005

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Wed, 26 Jan 2005 16:05:12 -0500
From: "David Riceman" <driceman@worldnet.att.net>
Re: Metronome on Shabbos?

From: "Schoemann, Danny (Danny)** CTR **" <schoemann@lucent.com>
> I would venture to say that it's muktza machmas Chisaron Kis.

Aren't you assuming your conclusion? How do you know it's assur to use?

David Riceman

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Date: Thu, 27 Jan 2005 23:33:55 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Torah and Science - Rav Dessler

I think that in order to understand REED's position about the nature
of time during ma'aseh bereishis one needs to start with MmE vol II pp
150-154, aptly titled "Yemei Bereishis veYemai Olam". Comments of my own
that I feel can't wait for the end of the maamar are in square brackets.

REED opens by defining the nature of time-as-we-know-it. In the first two
paragraph he establishes the connection between time and free will. The
flow of past to future is that of desire to fulfilment.

In the section "Havchanas haZeman", REED points out that time passes
as a function of the number of experiences we have. When we have more
experiences, we have more opportunities for choice, for fulfilling

But while man's choice now revolves around many issues, Adam qodem hacheit
[AQH] had only one choice, and therefore didn't have the same connection
to the flow of time. [pg. 151] We can not understand what time was like
to AQH.

The next section is "Zeman Sheishes Yemei Bereishis". It opens with the
assertion that since the 6 days of bereishis were before the completion
of creation, the havchanas hazeman was different. The six days are
"dibrah Torah kelashon benei adam", that the Torah's discussion of
ma'aseh bereishis is like explaining something to a blind person by
drawing parallels to touch.

[Does that qualify as justifying allegorization altogether? His phrase
is "bederekh dimyon". But at least WRT time, REED is saying the Torah's
terminology is one of dimyon, not literalness.]

REED quotes the Ramban (1:3) who explains that the 6 days were literal
days of hours and minutes, and also the 6 sephiros from Chased to
Hod. According to REED this means that to our havchanah it would be 6
literal days, but the etzem ha'inyan is that of 6 sephiros. The Bahir says
that this is why the pasuq says "ki BEsheishes yamim" -- through the aegis
of these 6 days, 6 sephiros -- "asah H' es hashamayim ve'es ha'aretz..."

[pg 152] REED then again quotes the Ramban (2:3) who draws parallels
between the 6 days and the subsequent 6 millenia. The Ramban sometimes
says that one is "romeiz" the other, sometimes "kenegdo", and sometimes
the actual identification -- that the day "hu" the millenium. From
this REED concludes that the Ramban identifies the two -- the current
millenium is the same thing as the Friday of creation. Which seems to
us to be a remez or keneged it.

The Gra identifies the 6 days with the subsequent 6 millenia, and [pg
153] had Adam not eaten from the eitz, the world would have only lasted
those 6 days, and the first Shabbos would have been olam haba. And in
acharis hayamim everything will return to their maqor. And (emph REED's or
REED understands the Gra to mean that the six millenia we're living
through is a post-cheit perception.

The last section "Zeman: Qevi'as Mahuso" takes it's name from the mahus of
the person. With each moment and each impression, some of the potential
of the person is actualized. People think of themselves as stable,
and the world moves around them. But this is an error.

It says in Nidah 30b that a baby before birth sees "misof ha'olam
ad sofo". But when he's born, he enters hesteir hazeman, the unity
of creation speaking the Unity of the Creator is concealed, and only
the present seems real. In olam ha'asiyah, every moment is fixed by
the asiyah. [pg 154] Every moment following the Torah adds some light
to his mahus, and similarly ch"v in the reverse. Through his bechirah
[thus connecting this definition of the time to the one in the opening
of the lecture] he is qovei'ah his mahus, thereby giving a flow of time.

REED compares our perception of time to looking at a map through a piece
of paper with a small hole in it. One can move the hole from city to city
along the roads. But that progression is a product of how we're looking
at the map, not the map itself. After death, the paper is removed,
and one can see the entirety not as a progression.

Hashem is "mabit ad sof kol hadoros" because He can see the whole.
REED closes with an exhortation to learn Torah, do mitzvos, cling to the
truth, to rise beyond seeing the world through a little hole in the paper.

Some more of my own thoughts:

Rav Dessler holds that time-as-we-know-it flows, time-as-AQH-knew-it
barely flowed, and time before AQH didn't flow at all. Because the
concept of a flow from past to future is so central to what people think
of when they read the word "time", I have been using the word "time"
to mean the after-the-eitz-hadaas version and qualified the other uses,
calling it either "'Time'" (capitalized in the style of Platonic ideal,
but in quotes) or "block time".

Why "block time"? It's Paul Davies' term. Davies is a philosopher in
Australia who published some popular books on science and philosophy,
one of them titled "Time's Arrow" about where the flow from past to
future comes from. (His Scientific American article on the subject is
at <http://aca.mq.edu.au/PaulDavies/SciAm1_TimeFlow.pdf>.)

In relativity, the universe is not so much a 3D movie as a 4D
sculpture. The flow of time isn't inherent in relativity, and it's
difficult to explain why time is experienced so differently than the
3 dimensions of space. This 4D "block" lead to the term "block time".
This sculpture sounds much like REED's "seeing the entirety", so I think
the use of his term is meaningful.

It is interesting to follow the parallel between REED's mashal and Davies'
to explore how REED's position compares to R' Yaakov ("Gerald") Shroeder's
resolution of the time of creation issue. To start: both dismiss the
notion that 6 days does not rule out it also being something else.


Micha Berger             Like a bird, man can reach undreamed-of
micha@aishdas.org        heights as long as he works his wings.
http://www.aishdas.org   But if he relaxes them for but one minute,
Fax: (270) 514-1507      he plummets downward.   - Rav Yisrael Salanter

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Date: Thu, 27 Jan 2005 18:01:41 -0500 (EST)
From: "Micha Berger" <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Torah and Science and Jewish vs. Secular chronolgy

MPoppers@kayescholer.com wrote:
> In Avodah V14 #63, RYGB responded:
>> If there was a 165 year gap, then the molados cheshbon would need be
>> compensated accordingly.

> For the sake of argument, what if the gap was a multiple of 19, e.g. 171?

If I didn't know you better, I'd think you were confusing molad with
ibur hashanah. The multiple of 19 is an ibbur hashanah issue, not an
ibbur hachodesh issue.

Molados are based on an approximation, therefore there is an error from
the first molad to now. EYGB is citing Remy Landau who does the math
and shows that our current count is off by exactly the right slippage
for a 5765 year old universe.

The problem is that he's computing from molad tohu, and yes, then the
error is correct. However, molad tohu is not an experimental number. No
one was there. (Issues of whether there was a "there" there yet and
whether time was time aside.) And the chumash seems to indicate Hashem
gave us not molad tohu, but the molad of Nissan of the year of yetzi'as
Mitzrayim. ("Hachodesh *hazeh*...")

So, how did we get molad tohu? Someone took a known molad and did the math
backward. IOW, molad tohu may have been calculated after the begining of
bayis sheini, based on the SOR and the then-current molad. In which case,
all Mr Landau has shown was that the person who did the math to project
backward to before ma'aseh bereishis did so correctly.


Micha Berger             You will never "find" time for anything.
micha@aishdas.org        If you want time, you must make it.
http://www.aishdas.org                     - Charles Buxton
Fax: (270) 514-1507

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Date: Thu, 27 Jan 2005 18:13:18 -0500 (EST)
From: "Micha Berger" <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Guide II:25 New Translation

jjbaker@panix.com wrote:
> There is a new translation of the Dalalat al-Ha`irin...
> This edition is much clearer in the chapter that Dr. MS and
> RYGB have endlessly debated, and seems to come down on the DrMS side...

I dunno about RMS and RYGB's endless debates on that pereq, but my proofs
as used in my own endless debates on it with RMS are still there.

My position is that there's a 2nd criterion the Rambam requires before
he's willing to accept an allegorization:

The first criterion, about which we both agree, is that the philosophical
argument must be airtight.

The second criterion, in this new translation's words is that:
Hasibah hasheniyah hi she'emunah shehaE-loka eino guf eina horeses lanu

As I read it: It's okay to allegorize G-d's "Hand", because only fools
think that's what the pasuq means. Intelligent people, including baalei
mesorah does not take that position.

See also the last two paragraphs in that edition of the pereq. Only
someone who isn't a "bar da'as" would think they're literal. And if
Aristotle were shown to be correct conclusively, the Rambam conludes
"haTorah kulah haysah mevateles, vehayu misqablos dei'os acheiros." The
Torah can stand on a historical issue so strongly that disproving the
claim would disprove the Torah. Of course, such claims would never be
disproven, the eventuality would never occur -- emes is emes.


Micha Berger             You will never "find" time for anything.
micha@aishdas.org        If you want time, you must make it.
http://www.aishdas.org                     - Charles Buxton
Fax: (270) 514-1507

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Date: Thu, 27 Jan 2005 18:12:23 -0500
From: Mendel Singer <mendel@case.edu>
Re: Testing a People

At 08:48 PM 1/27/2005 +0000, RnCL wrote:
>We know that there can be a navi sheker from the Torah (something that
>I think has to be regarded as a chiddush ie something we would not work
>out logically were it not for the Torah telling us this).

>What seems to be being inferred by various posters here is that because
>we can have a navi sheker, therefore we can have a sheker HKBH.

No, I wouldn't say sheker HKBH. I would say that just as Hashem can do
miracles for a navi sheker for the purpose of testing, so to He could
create a prehistory (bones in the ground) for the purpose of testing. It
isn't sheker - it's more a question if Hashem is placing a stumbling block
by doing something where people would be likely to err. In the case of
miracles for a navi sheker, there was an overriding reason. perhaps it
isn't testing us, but rather to create bechira. Still, there would be a
likelihood of people being led astray by how things appear on the surface.
In the case of prehistory, if it were a valid theory, then there should
be some overriding reason why Hashem would create such a test (with no
other primary reason apparent). Perhaps our recent generations,including
ours, need this merit.

A tangential point would be the issue of emes, and what is emes. When
Yaakov used "deception" to secure the brochas, was this sheker? Reb Tzadok
HaKohen (IIRC, Divrei Sofrim 28-29?) explains he was acting on the real
emes, Hashem's Emes, which is that Yaakov was the real bechor. This is
in the context of explaining the Izhbitzer's concept of birur, which
literally means the clarification of a middah, but is used in the sense
of perfection of a middah. This was an example of birur in the middah
of emes. Birur is achieved when the person can act in a situation in
a way that on the surface would seem to be the opposite of the middah,
but in that case is actually the proper application. The behavior Yaakov
displayed in this episode would usually be thought of as sheker, but
was really the application of true emes, Hashem's emes.


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Date: Fri, 28 Jan 2005 07:33:48 +0200
From: "David Eisen" <davide@arnon.co.il>
Singing in the Shower

This is a multi-part message in MIME format.

Content-Type: text/plain;
Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable

It was announced this week that RM Eliyahu prohibits singing in the
bathroom (ostensibly the problem is limited to singing in Hebrew and
humming is permissible as long as one does not think about the words,
though it is not clear from the article what is the actual issur; see
<http://www.nrg.co.il/online/11/ART/860/085.html>). It is reported in
the article that the reasoning behind the prohibition is that there is
"Ruah Ra'ah" in bathrooms (I assume that this is limited to bathrooms
in which there is also a toilet, though this was not clear either)
and that this practice is immodest. It emerges from the article that
RME rules that R"R exists in all bathrooms; however, my Rav poskened
that R"R no longer exists in modern bathrooms which are generally clean
and do not have the status of the Bet Hakise as discussed in the 3rd
Pereq of Berakhot (although he ruled that public restrooms, as opposed
to bathrooms in private homes, should be deemed to have R"R since they
are generally unclean). I saw that R. Yaaqov Ariel similarly quotes
R. Betzalel Stern in B'tzel HaHokhma that R"R no longer prevalent in our
bathrooms - <http://www.yeshiva.org.il/ask/print.asp?id=3D7312>. Is RME
expressing the normative psak?

FYI - there is an exchange between myself and another reader in #5
in the readers feedback below the NRG Yahadut article (though I would
not recommend reading most of the other comments as they are extremely
inappropriate and disrespectful).

B'virkat HaTorah,
David  Eisen

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Date: Fri, 28 Jan 2005 00:46:53 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Alternative Medicine and AZ

On Thu, Jan 27, 2005 at 10:30:43AM -0500, RabbiRichWolpoe@aol.com wrote:
: Chi is life force. It can be understodd in a pantehistic way but so
: what it is not neceesary to understand it in a pantheisitc way.

: Anyway who denies that our neshama provides our life force and that it is
: a chelek Elokim mima'al? The attriubion to AZ is possible but lav davka.
: Anyway Kabblisits understand that the universe is PanENTHEISTIC ..

Yes ki could be reinterpreted to be non-pantheistic. But not in your
rationalist approch to Reiki. Ki is described as a universal force, and
the Reiki practitioner is guiding that force's flow in, out and within
the person.

The O'Sensei of Aikido (roughly: the founding teacher of the martial
art whose name means "The Way of Harmony of Key) Morihei Ueshiba, is the
subject of wonder stories in many Aikido dojos about his use of ki to do
the miraculous. E.g. They tell of things like an was ability to see sword
blades or even bullets coming at him from behind or while blindfolded
in time to dodge them. (Very much like Luke Skywalker folding up his
scanner and relying on the Force. Or learning blindfolded swordfighting.)

This isn't a rationalist concept. It's tapping into a pantheistic god.

I said it could be reinterpreted, because that's not the understanding
from which it and Reiki emerged. Reiki emerged from pantheism, and
therefore can be arguably be described as a pantheistic ritual.

A big part of the problem is that the line between religion and philsophy
is clearer in the west than in the areas we're speaking of.


Micha Berger             Man is equipped with such far-reaching vision,
micha@aishdas.org        yet the smallest coin can obstruct his view.
http://www.aishdas.org                         - Rav Yisrael Salanter
Fax: (270) 514-1507      

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Date: Fri, 28 Jan 2005 00:50:37 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Torah and Science

One thing I don't understand, the position posted by more than one of the
chevrah, that while they could accept an old universe and even evolution
in general, they could not accept the evolution of man.

Once you reject the evolution of man, you're asserting that paleontological
archeology is flawed, and its proofs are not muchrach. So what's the
reason for accepting any of evolution?

 From the opposite direction, what's significantly worse about the
evolution of man? Need Hashem's making clay from afar min ha'adah rule
out that the process was the evoution of homo sapiens, and into one homo
sapien He breathed a ru'ach memalela?


Micha Berger             It isn't what you have, or who you are, or where
micha@aishdas.org        you are,  or what you are doing,  that makes you
http://www.aishdas.org   happy or unhappy. It's what you think about.
Fax: (270) 514-1507                        - Dale Carnegie

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Date: Fri, 28 Jan 2005 08:44:28 -0500
From: "Yosef Gavriel & Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <ygb@aishdas.org>
A of the U

From: "Ari Kahn" <ari@biu.013.net.il>
>In a number of private correspondences I have had with people on this list
>it became apparent that regarding the issue of the age of the universe
>there is some confusion regarding RAKaplan's translation of the writings
>of RYDMA Let me preface by stating that RAK did an incredible service
>in his publication of a lecture that he delivered on the Age of the
>Universe however he does translate kiyum haolam as age of the universe
>and not as duration of the universe.

>This problem in the translation is certainly an issue, it weakens R
>Kaplan's contention that the universe is billions of years old. It does
>not necessarily weaken the statement that according to the Ramban and
>his student who came to explain the Ramban. This may be RAK sevara in
>his translation - the Ramban is speaking about the age of the universe
>and the secret behind Maase Berishis. RYMDA adds that he will explain
>about something that his Rebbi was reticent to explain. And proceeds to
>explain that when speaking of time you need to multiply by 1000.

>RAK further contends that according to RYMDA we are in the seventh
>cycle therefore he says we should multiply 42,000 by 365,250 and he
>arrives at an astronomical age of the universe. I invite everyone to
>read a chapter in my book "Explorations" Parshat Bhar, I note there
>the mistranslation, (for an excerpt see below) I also note a source
>which RAK missed - namely that according to R YDA we are in the second
>cycle - this is written explicitly in his commentary to sefer yetzira,
>which was published from the manuscript in an academic journal KIRIAT
>SEFER (published by Hebrew U). The best review of this material is the
>book by Israel Wienstock "Studies in Jewish Philosophy and Mysticism"
>(hebrew title, "Bimaglie Hanigla ViHanistar" )162-166

Let me note that my last post merely came to prove that according to
most opinions the world is older than 5765 years. I am not necessarily
advocating the position that it is billions of years old. However, those
who do advocate such a position need not find in Chazal or the Rishonim
a source that says that the world is billions of years old. Those who
maintain that position are of the opinion that the Beriah itself, as
chosamo shel HKB"H emes, makes that point. All we need to prove is that
it is tenable to say the world is billions of years old, as it is not
in contradiction to Chazal or the Rishonim, and then, BINGO!

In fact, in this vein, that RAKaplan did not mistranslate the RYdmA. I
am sure he was cognizant of RAKahn's reading, and that the RYmA is not
unambiguous. All he needed to provide is a source that MAY mean the
world is billions of years old.

And, in this regard, while RAKahn asserts that being in the cycle of
gevurah means the second cycle (a position RAKaplan mentions as one
possiblity), it may well be that the sefiros in this system are me'l'matah
l'ma'alah - and thus, we are now, in fact, in the sixth cycle!...


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Date: Fri, 28 Jan 2005 09:14:12 -0500
From: "kahnar@mail.biu.ac.il" <kahnar@mail.biu.ac.il>
RE: A of the U

RYGB wrote:
> In fact, in this vein, that RAKaplan did not mistranslate the RYdmA. I
> am sure he was cognizant of RAKahn's reading, and that the RYmA is not
> unambiguous. All he needed to provide is a source that MAY mean the
> world is billions of years old.

> And, in this regard, while RAKahn asserts that being in the cycle of
> gevurah means the second cycle (a position RAKaplan mentions as one
> possiblity), it may well be that the sefiros in this system are me'l'matah
> l'ma'alah - and thus, we are now, in fact, in the sixth cycle!...

I did make both of those points in my post.

What I would stress while it is possible that we are in the 6th cycle we
are not in the 7th according to RYMA as RAK contended.

I also wrote -- perhaps too cryptically -- that to understand RYMA you
need to compare his writing with all the writings of his rebbe the Ramban
on this topic. That is what I wrote about in my book. That analysis
would generally support the contention of RAK that we are talking about
the past.

However the past would be either one or 5 cycles

Ari Kahn

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Date: Fri, 28 Jan 2005 11:47:50 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: A of the U

On Fri, Jan 28, 2005 at 08:44:28AM -0500, RYGB wrote:
: In fact, in this vein, that RAKaplan did not mistranslate the RYdmA. I
: am sure he was cognizant of RAKahn's reading, and that the RYmA is not
: unambiguous. All he needed to provide is a source that MAY mean the
: world is billions of years old.

: And, in this regard, while RAKahn asserts that being in the cycle of
: gevurah means the second cycle (a position RAKaplan mentions as one
: possiblity), it may well be that the sefiros in this system are me'l'matah
: l'ma'alah - and thus, we are now, in fact, in the sixth cycle!...

If RYGB's underestanding of RAK's motivation is correct, then had he
written the essay since 1999, RAK would have favored a peshat which
placed us in the 6th cycle.

In 1998 the Hubble Telescope found data which lead to the publication of
results in 1999 (eg see <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/352563.stm>)
of an estimate of a 12 billion year old universe.

Meanwhile, current *tentative* advances in quantum mechanics (M-Brane
Theory, the most popular variant of String Theory) reduces the estimate
of the emount of energy at which particles and forces become distinct.

As I've already posted, R' Dr Morris Engleson (lurker R' Shlomo
Argoman's father) did the math for the then-current estimate for
each, and showed that at that energy level (energy = mass, therefore
we're talking gravitational field and relativity) R' Yaakov ("Gerald")
Shroeder's suggestion that 6 days = 15 billion years in a gravity well
works mathematically.

By my math, the same is true for the new estimates.


Micha Berger             A sick person never rejects a healing procedure
micha@aishdas.org        as "unbefitting." Why, then, do we care what
http://www.aishdas.org   other people think when dealing with spiritual
Fax: (270) 514-1507      matters?              - Rav Yisrael Salanter

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Date: Fri, 28 Jan 2005 09:24:42 EST
From: Phyllostac@aol.com
Goral HaGR"A - redux

In response to the mention of the 'goral haGR"A' in the discussion about
the practice of some Lubavitchers to seek counsel through the igros of
the Rebbe once again -

I want to reiterate what I posted here a number of months ago (see
<http://www.aishdas.org/avodah/vol13/v13n044.shtml>), that the matter
of the 'goral haGR"A' is not as simple as some people think.

In the sefer 'HaGaon' by Rav Dov Eliach there is a chapter devoted to it
(chapter 33, volume 3). It is stated there that it should only be used
in extreme circumstances, that we don't have direct testimony from the
GR"A about it, and that some Litvisher gedolim have opposed it's use,
based on 'tomim tihiyeh im Hashem Elokecho'.

Ayim shom ba'arichus.

So it is clear that it is not the same as the practice with the igros
of the Rebbe under discussion.


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Date: Fri, 28 Jan 2005 13:45:51 +0100
From: Minden <phminden@arcor.de>
Re: Singing in the Shower

Is it about ruach or reiach, and is it about bathrooms (USA) only or
does it include bathrooms (UK)?
Both questions are serious: I very faintly remember learning a remark
about the ruach/reiach question in connection to netilas yodayim somwhere,
and in (toilet-free) bathrooms there is still the issue of being naked,
for instance.


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Date: Fri, 28 Jan 2005 09:29:00 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Singing in the Shower

On Fri, Jan 28, 2005 at 01:45:51PM +0100, Minden wrote:
: Is it about ruach or reiach, and is it about bathrooms (USA) only or
: does it include bathrooms (UK)?

One LOR (who happens to also be a dayan and a rebbe-chaveir) holds that
me'ikkar hadin it's only outhouses and portapotties. That the flush
toilet reduced the inyan to lifnim mishuras hadin status.

BTW, in the winter, most people had a chamber pot, and yet woke up, said
Modeh Ani, washed neigl vasr and continued the early morning tefilos in
that room.


Micha Berger             One doesn't learn mussar to be a tzaddik,
micha@aishdas.org        but to become a tzaddik.
http://www.aishdas.org                         - Rav Yisrael Salanter
Fax: (270) 514-1507      

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Date: Sat, 29 Jan 2005 23:05:31 -0500
From: Russell Levy <russlevy@gmail.com>
Electricity on Shabbat

I am trying to understand the issur of electricity on shabbat, and I
will construct a hypothetical case to illustrate my confusion.

Many electronic devices today have buttons that will only perform the
desired if the button is pressed for a certain amount of time. For
example, when a modern PC freezes, holding down the power button for 3
seconds will turn it completely off (don't try this until you reply to
my e-mail!). This is usually done by starting a timer when the button
is pressed, and to only perform the action if the timer gets to 5
seconds. So, pushing the button for 2 seconds will close some circuits
and cause others to get going, but there will be no perceived end
result. Is pushing the button for 2 seconds assur? I would think it
is, but I could be wrong :)

The reason I ask this is for a much more practical question. My
building has a shabbos elevator which has sensors (I assume infrared)
to ensure the door doesn't close on people. The delay from the time
the door opens until it starts to close is (let's say) 5 seconds. If
you walk through the door during those five seconds, it does not reset
the "stay open" timer; it is only reset if the sensor goes off while
the door is in the "closing" state -- if you walk through the door at
3 seconds, it will still close at 5 seconds from the start.
For some reason, the elevator was changed two weeks ago to beep
whenever the sensor was being set off -- it beeped whenever you walked
through the doors, before or after the 5 seconds. When the elevator
was on shabbos mode, it was also beeping, which means the shabbos mode
does not turn off this action of the sensor. This beeping has since
been removed (probably in large part to another member of this list),
but now I know the sensor is being activated whenever one walks
through the door; the sound was only a sign to what happens normally.

This seems to me to be analogous to the theoretical case I mentioned
above; the difference here is that there is psik reisha involved.
However, assuming that the sensor's activities after 5 seconds (when
you will keep the door open) cannot be separated from its actions
before 5 seconds (when walking through seems to do nothing), and one
would surely not want an elevator door to close on them if s/he
tripped and fell in the doorway of the elevator (the purpose for which
these sensors were invented), it would seem to be a psik reisha
d'nicha lei case.

To summarize, the following are my assumptions:
1) Electricity is assur on shabbos, even if there is no perceived result
2) Walking through a sensor will cause an issur to be performed (I
think that's what RMF means in YD(1):173 in the last paragraph).
3) Setting off a sensor when one wants the sensor to be "on" for other
reasons (assuming it was not shabbat of course) is psik reisha d'nicha

And my conclusion is,
In normal situations, use of this elevator would be prohibited
(ignoring all other possible problems with using a shabbos elevator).

I don't think it really matters for this if electricity is assur
d'oraita or d'rabbanan. Is there a mistake in my reasoning?


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Date: Sun, 30 Jan 2005 12:02:32 +0100
From: "Schoemann, Danny (Danny)** CTR **" <schoemann@lucent.com>
RE: R. Mordechai Eliyahu on the reason for the tsunami

> Taking this farther... If Rav Mordechai Eliahu shlit'a can say why 200,000 
> were killed because of the tsunami, what is to stop someone from going to 
> the bais avel of a terrorist victim and stating why that person was killed?

I think this may belong on Avoda already - so I'll post it there.

[I removed the name of the person you're quoting, as they wrote in a
private forum and perhaps would not put their name to these words in
public. -mi

To put it mildly, you are comparing apples and oranges.

A tsunami is aptly classified as force majeure - this was clearly the RBSO
"meddling" in the flow of things. Consider: A tsunami isn't a natural
occurrence like a solar eclipse. It cannot be predicted (except by a
few minutes, maybe). Since we believe in Hashgocho (Divine Providence)
we can assert that anybody killed was "hand picked" by Hashem. For
Yidden this would be on the individual level (Hashgocho Protis -
Individual Divine Providence) and for goyim it may be more general;
"anybody in the area". (IIRC there's an Avoda thread on this issue,
debating the specifics.) Either way, Hashem decided in advance that a
quarter million people would perish very suddenly and very tragically.
Assuming He did this for no reason is absurd - it would be equivalent
to saying He did it for the "fun of it", chalilo. Assuming He did
this for a reason, but we are not supposed to guess at that reason,
essentially means He did it for no reason. Conclusion: He did it for a
reason, and we're supposed to make an educated guess as to what it is,
and try learn something from it.

A terrorist victim was the victim of a Homo Sapiens. (I can't get myself
to write "human", or even "person".) This is a completely different
category. As the siddur says before tachanun, (quoting Nach, but I don't
have time to find the exact source) King Dovid asked Hashem to fall in
His hand and not in a person's hand.

People have the ability to cut other people's lives short. I have just
finished hearing 3-4 hours of (taped) lectures on this and cannot
efficiently summarise it in a few lines - though I'm sure others
could. (RMB has a special knack for doing this.)

In brief, Rav Einhorn's approach, based on classic sources is: Before
you were born you were given a quota of Kiddush Hashem to fulfil. You
were shown various paths that will get you there, (and you agreed). When
your path intersects that of a terrorist then your life may end, and your
quota of Kiddush Hashem is filled by the Kiddush Hashem your "punishment"
caused, or the KH of the terrorist's punishment, or the KH your memorial
service generates, etc.

(Then again, you may be miraculously saved, based on some heavenly
calculation, e.g. like a special mitzva you did.)

However, it's up to the terrorist's "free will" to decide if the
intersection of your paths will end with a (potentially fatal) bang
or otherwise.

So, all you can say about a terrorist (or holocaust) victim is that
maybe he didn't have a special merit to survive. Even that is a MAYBE.

I think we can now reconcile the two. In both cases we need to understand
why Hashem caused something to happen. Why did he bring a tsunami and why
did he put that specific evil (or reckless in the case of a car accident)
idea into somebody's head.

In both cases it's not up to us to decide why specific individual's
perished. Maybe they were evil, maybe their death is causing a specific
KH, maybe their time was up.

So, specific countries were punished with a tsunami because of some
reason we can (and are supposed to) guess at. Some communities were wiped
out by a holocaust because of some reason we can guess at. We need to
investigate and guess at these reasons and act upon our discoveries to
become better people.

However, a lot of individuals were killed in tsunamis and the holocaust
- for reasons only known to Hashem. Their "purpose in this world" =
"their quota of KH" was filled by the KH of the reaction to their deaths,
or else their murderer's punishment (in the case of the holocaust).

(Personally I believe it would be beneficial to guess at a reason why a
specific person was chosen, especially if some misdeed of the deceased is
well know. (E.g. he was a reckless driver.) I believe it's an iluy neshomo
that I behave better knowing that my neighbour - who also did aveiro X -
died young. However, this opinion is extremely unpopular in arvm circles.)

Now, when you say
> They are both equally heartless, and I think wrong.

Actually the RAMBAM (in Hil. Teshuva IIRC) states that treating tragedies
as natural happenings - is heartless. The Kitzur SA in 127:1 clearly
states that a person should not say that a tragedy was a "fluke" but
he should use it as a catalyst to do tshuva. (I don't have any other
relevant sources here.)

BTW: In the past 2 weeks there has been nearly a daily occurrence of
parents sitting shiva for their kids (in Jerusalem) - from babies, to
teenagers to a 70 year old. (Based on levaya notices on the walls.) Surely
the RBSO is trying to tell us something? What a waste of lives if we
are too scared to try figure it out. Anybody got any ideas?

I'm sure the above is somewhat confusing, and surely somebody can state
it clearer.

I'm also sure that there are other opinions on the subject, which doesn't
necessarily invalidate the above approach.

- Danny

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