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Volume 14 : Number 076

Sunday, February 6 2005

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Sat, 5 Feb 2005 23:01:29 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Mezuzah

On Fri, Feb 04, 2005 at 07:24:31AM -0500, Cantor Wolberg wrote:
: I cannot emphasize enough the importance that you read the following
: article on Mezuzah. It is probably one of the best essays on this subject
: and will disavow many of erroneous thinking.
: <http://www.atranet.co.il/gordon/mezuza.pdf>

I don't think R' Dr MLG succeeds in proving that the point is eronious.
(I wish he did, I asserted that it was false!)

First, near the begining he concedes that Seifer Raziel haMalakh does
ascribe protective power to the mezuzah itself. And while he may discuss
SRhM in a paragraph about medieval sources, it's not treated as one
halachically. (Either because we believe the attribution, or because the
attribution is accepted by people who know chazal's opinion well enough
to know what's consistant with it.)

Second, the majority of the article is based on a confusion. Proving
that chazal give protective power to the mitzvah of mezuzah doesn't
prove that they do not also give power to the object itself. And in
fact, one would not expect statements one way or the other about such
metaphysical causality in sifrei nigleh. It is the norm for shas to
only of the nigleh half of the issue in shas, while the same tannaim and
amoraim are elsewhere quoted believing in a 2nd, nistar, level as well.

For the same reason, he quotes Menachos 33b as though there was a
machloqes between the Chachamim, who hold the reason for putting the
mezuzah within 1 tefach of the doorway is so that you encounter it
when entering and exiting, and R' Chanina of Sura who says that it
better protects the house that way. He then dismisses the suggestion
that the mezuzah as an object causally protects the house as a daas
yachid. However, there is no indication that the Chachamim wouldn't
agree with his reason in addition to their own!

The famous Y-mi in Pei'ah, in which Rebbi gave the Parthian King Artavan
a mezuzah and explained that his gift protects the recipient seems to
support the causal position, but the author shows from the seifa that
it doesn't. Rebbe quotes Mishlei 6:22 to prove his point, "When you walk
it shall lead you, when you lie down it will watch over you..." Rebbe is
speaking of shemiras hamitzvos, not the mezuzah itself. Does the mezuzah
lead you when you travel?

The only source he found from Chazal that assumes a lack of causal link
is the Mekhilta, which contrasts the blood on the doorway of yetzi'as
Mitzrayim with the mitzvah of mezuzah. The Mekhilta asks: the blood
provided protection we do not see in our mezuzah-ed homes. And yet,
mitzvas mezuzah is the greater mitzvah because it's ledoros! The
maskanah is that it's our sins. If the protection were also causal,
then we couldn't simply assume the protection matches the significance
of the mitzvah.

Two last points I appreciated. First, besheim R' Hillel Herz (17th cent),
a lack of "arichas yamim" is not the same as qitzur. Not meriting
a lengthened life means getting a normal-length one -- lo yirbu
velo yiqatzru. No implication that poor mezuzos cause tragedy and a
shorter-than-planned life. And in fact, such a punishment for violating
an asei without performing a ma'aseh would be unique.

Second, he echos a general problem I raised here in years past:
> A serious ideological difficulty plagues the protective view namely, its
> corrosive implications for the quality of the God-man relationship. While
> the material experiences of our lives involve us in an impersonal
> cause-and-effect -- the inexorable necessity of natural law, the spiritual
> dimension of life transcends mechanical causation.

Metaphysical cause-and-effect introduces something other than "letav
avad" and sechar va'onesh into how HQBH treats us. It also dehumanizes
what should be a personal relationship with the Borei. Yes, the same
is true of nature. But we need physical causality to be able to choose
actions. According the Ramchal, that's the whole reason for physical
existance; an arena for human choice. But why add to that?

Gut Voch!

Micha Berger             The mind is a wonderful organ
micha@aishdas.org        for justifying decisions
http://www.aishdas.org   the heart already reached.
Fax: (270) 514-1507      

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Date: Sat, 05 Feb 2005 22:21:26 -0600
From: Lisa Liel <lisa@starways.net>
Re: Torah and Science and Jewish vs. Secular chronolgy

At 08:23 PM 2/5/05, Yosef Gavriel & Shoshanah M. Bechhofer wrote:
>At 08:45 PM 2/5/2005, MPoppers@kayescholer.com wrote:
>>CHaZaL didn't insist that the chronological gap doesn't exist.  In a work
>>(SOR) not meant to fill in every chronological tittle, gaps are part of the
>>fabric -- for you to say they held there is no gap is entirely another
>>issue, and for me to disagree with you is unrelated to my emunas chachomim,
>>but thanks anyway for your concern.

>You missed my remark in my last post. It is Chazal in BB 3a that state 
>that Bayis Sheni stood for 420 years is my main concern, and to deny the 
>veracity of that remark is the point I find most objectionable.

Chazal also say that Megillat Esther takes place before the building of
Bayit Sheni, which would mean that Achashverosh reigned before Darius the
Persian. That doesn't fit with anything in conventional history books.
The 420 year framework is explicit, and you're completely right in saying
that it's impossible to reject that, but that's only one element of an
entire framework which Chazal are completely clear about.

And I don't really understand why it's so hard for some people to imagine
that the conventional view might be wrong. The basis of that view is Greek
accounts of the period, which were gathered as folklore from all over,
often by word of mouth from word of mouth from word of mouth. Those kind
of stories grow with the telling, and they mutate faster than fruitflies.

Contrariwise, the view of Chazal is the view of people who lived where
those events actually happened. It was local. It was a part of the history
of a people who have always preserved history as a sacred obligation.

Looking at it objectively, there's no question in the world but that
the view of Chazal should be seen as more reliable. And bringing modern
archaeology to dispute it is full of pitfalls. Any data that doesn't
fit by a large margin is invariable disposed of. It happens with carbon
dating and it happens with other fields of knowledge as well.

I had a friend who was learning in the Assyriology Department at Hebrew
U a few years after I was there. She was doing some grad work for one
of the professors there, which included working on the tablets found
at Hazor. You may or may not remember this, but in the late 80s, they
decided that they'd figured out where the library at Hazor would likely
be, and they were full of optimism about finding thousands upon thousands
of tablets that would shed light on that period.

The period in question was Bronze IIA. Conventionally speaking,
that's the time of the Avot. I think it was actually the period of the
Shoftim. So I told my friend Jennifer some things that I expected to be
in those tablets. Some advance predicitions... you understand. I told
her that about the only things they'd find that were publishable would
be references to Kenizites and Kenites, because those names appeared in
both periods. That turned out to be true. I also told her that they would
clamp down on the tablets shortly after they started translating them,
because they'd be completely unusable from the POV of the conventional
chronology. That happened as well. There was a big announcement one
day about a huge trove of tablets being found, and then... deafening
silence. Heh.

It'll be interesting to some day check those tablets against the rest
of my predictions.

Anyway, the only information you're likely to read about that has anything
to do with the period in question is going to be information that fits
the conventional view. That's just how the field works.


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Date: Sat, 05 Feb 2005 23:39:20 -0500
From: "Yosef Gavriel & Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <ygb@aishdas.org>
Re: Torah and Science and Jewish vs. Secular chronolgy

At 10:24 PM 2/5/2005, MPoppers@kayescholer.com wrote:
>>It is Chazal in BB 3a that state that
>>Bayis Sheni stood for 420 years is my main concern, and to deny the
>>veracity of that remark is the point I find most objectionable.

>I don't deny the veracity of "Bayis Rishon amad 410 [shanim] uBayis Shaini
>[amad] 420 [shanim]" (first RaShY on BB 3b) -- neither did RSSchwab when he
>proposed a timeline which explained what he saw at the time as a gap in the
>period before Bayis Shaini was completed -- and never said I did, nor do I
>recall that chronology coming up in this discussion. The issue is the

You are not quite correct on that account. In order to be in sync with
the 420 year count Rabbi Schwab must (and does) conclude that the Temple
actually stood for 585 years, but that the number was truncated to 420,
for some unknowable reason - indeed, for some counterintuitive reason,
as 585 would qualify as much more "gadol yihyeh kavod habayis hazeh" than
the 410 of bayis rishon! (see "Jewish History in Conflict" p. 69). Seder
Olam gives quite a simple reason for the 420 number - it was actually
420 years! Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that Seder Olam,
which is presented as history, not as aggadah, is the chronology behind
BB 3a. Rabbi Schwab's explanation is not reasonable. It is gratifying
that Rabbi Schwab later realized his error and retracted the original
suggestion, as it contradicted Chazal. As Rabbi Schwab himself wrote,
the chronology of Chazal: is sacred territory which only fools do not
fear to tread upon" (JHiC p. 66).

> minimalist chronology of SOR and whether it is contradicted by independent
> evidence, and I for one would appreciate our sticking to that topic. I
> agree with Lisa that there is much within the Heifetz article she
> mentioned with which to concur (FTR, I was a YRSRH student of Rav
> Danziger's [see that article's note 4] who received his wisdom on the
> matter, and I don't believe there's any question that "Achashvairosh" was
> a title rather than a name), I already noted other articles (found on the
> WWW) which question the conventional chronology, and I am an interested
> observer of and, quite frankly, a grasshopper re any discussion on the
> legitimacy of evidence which establishes the Persian period as far longer
> than can be extracted

Then, pray tell, why did you dismiss Chazal's chronology as "untenable?"

> from NaCH. Now, since I have your critical "emunas chachomim" eye,
> RYGB et al., here's another example of minimalist SOR chronology that
> IMHO one can debate the need to understand literally: was Rivqah really
> no more than 3 years old when Yitzchaq married her (RaShY on B'raishis
> 25:20), meaning that she was no older and may have been younger (note
> the language of RaShY: "himtin lah") when she came out to a well with
> a pitcher, filled it from a well, and spoke so properly to Eliezer and
> assertively to her mother and brother (24:15-58)? The reason for this
> chronology is the medrash which ties the Aqaidah event to B'raishis
> 22:20, but that begs the question: need we understand that Rivqah was
> born precisely at that time rather than understand the words of CHaZaL,
> quoted by RaShY ad loc as "bisro hQbH," as saying that Avraham found out
> about Rivqah then but she actually was born before then? If the latter,
> we don't know how long before the Aqaidah she was born, and it apparently
> doesn't really matter (given that the Torah doesn't explicate), but we
> do know that SOR acted minimally in saying she was born then because
> of the lack of Torah information on the topic and that fitting such an
> age into her chapter-24 actions and words is tangential to what we are
> meant to learn from the Torah.

Please understand: One is entitled to state one does not understand
Chazal, or to blieb shverr. But to state that a position taken by Chazal
is "untenable" is to be mal'ig al divrei chachamim. V'hu ha'din b'nidon
didan: If you want to say: "Well, it is tenable to say that Rivka was
three, but since Ibn Ezra did not accept Chazal on this point, yesh
li ilan gadol l'hitalos bo," nicha. And even if you say: "Well, it is
tenable to say that she was three, but perhaps, in fact, Chazal had a
more allegorical or mystical implication in the use of the age of three
and did not mean it as pashut pshat," also nicha. But, once Rashi et al
endorse the pshat in Chazal k'peshuto, to state that such a perspective is
"untenable" is a lack of emunas chachamim.


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Date: Sat, 05 Feb 2005 23:49:39 -0500
From: "Yosef Gavriel & Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <ygb@aishdas.org>
Re: Torah and Science and Jewish vs. Secular chronolgy

At 11:00 PM 2/5/2005, Lisa Liel wrote:
>>WADR, I think that only a complete lack of emunas chachamim would lead 
>>someone to consider the position of Chazal on ANYTHING "an UNTENABLE option."

>Um... lice?  Just for an example.  Sometimes it is necessary to do some 
>fairly creative twisting and turning to rescue certain statements of Chazal.

>But in any case, "complete lack of emunat chachamim" seems to be fairly 
>prevalent these days.  The Steinsaltz edition of Ketubot has a historical 
>note which accepts the view of Josephus that the later Herodians were 
>descended from Miriam HaChasmonait, despite the fact that Chazal say 
>otherwise.  R' Aryeh Kaplan's "The Living Torah" has footnotes identifying 
>the various Egyptian kings in the Torah as specific historical figures.  I 
>think every one of those identifications is wrong.  I was told by a woman 
>I know that R' Aryeh Kaplan would never have included those notes unless 
>he knew them to be correct, and that it was offensive for me to disagree.

>I think Judaism is a bit different from, say, Christianity.  We don't have 
>things that we can't "consider".  We're entitled to use our minds, and if 
>it were to turn out that there is no tenable way to support Chazal's 
>chronology, then we'd have to deal with that.  But it's not the case, so 
>that's moot.

Lice is a very good example.

It is indeed a lack of emunas chachamim to say Chazal's position on lice is 


>adj : (of theories etc) incapable of being defended or justified [syn: 

>WordNet  2.0,  2003 Princeton University

Thus, "untenable" is worse than "incorrect." A position  may be tenable, 
yet incorrect - an untenable position is so utterly incorrect as to be 
indefensible and beyond justification. This is patently untrue of the 
position of Chazal on lice. It is eminently defensible and eminently 
subject to justification. Indeed, I think I have mentioned here in the past 
that R' Aharon Soloveitchik told me (and RHM heard from him in shiur as 
well), that were he alive at the time of R' Yitzchak Lampornati, the 
"Pachad Yitzchak," he would have put him in cherem for suggesting Chazal 
were mistaken in their dispensation to kill lice on Shabbos - and that was 
for suggesting Chazal were mistaken, which is much less derogatory that 
asserting their position to be untenable. And, we know that REED and R' 
Dovid Lifshitz, both quoted here in the past, presented very cogent 
explanations of the ruling of Chazal.

Thus, yes, it is indeed a lack of emunas chachamim to say Chazal's
position on lice is "untenable."

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Date: Sun, 6 Feb 2005 00:13:21 -0500
From: MPoppers@kayescholer.com
Re: Torah and Science and Jewish vs. Secular chronolgy

RYGB replied:
> Then, pray tell, why did you dismiss Chazal's chronology as "untenable?"
> I never used that word.  In fact, given such a point-blank accusation and
> an unwillingness to rely on my Swiss-cheese memory, I powered my home PC on
> and checked my mail database -- the only person who used that word is YOU,
> tonight.  Withdraw your question and stop reading your thoughts into
> others' words.

>> ...here's another example of minimalist SOR chronology that IMHO one can
>> debate the need to understand literally: was Rivqah really no more than 3
>> years old when Yitzchaq married her (RaShY on B'raishis 25:20)

> once Rashi et al endorse the pshat in
> Chazal k'peshuto, to state that such a perspective is "untenable" is a lack
> of emunas chachamim

I won't repeat what I already wrote, now or in my previous post. Suffice
it to say that Tos'fos ad loc (see Da'as Z'qainim) disagree with RaShY,
ayin sham.

All the best from
 - Michael Poppers via RIM pager

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Date: Sun, 06 Feb 2005 00:30:20 -0500
From: "Yosef Gavriel & Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <ygb@aishdas.org>
Re: Torah and Science and Jewish vs. Secular chronolgy

At 12:13 AM 2/6/2005, MPoppers@kayescholer.com wrote:
>RYGB replied:
> > Then, pray tell, why did you dismiss Chazal's chronology as "untenable?"
>I never used that word.  In fact, given such a point-blank accusation and
>an unwillingness to rely on my Swiss-cheese memory, I powered my home PC on
>and checked my mail database -- the only person who used that word is YOU,
>tonight.  Withdraw your question and stop reading your thoughts into
>others' words.

Thanks for your quick response. That "you have to assume that Seder Olam
is not historical" is precisely what I'm getting at, and precisely why
I object to the RYGB "there is no gap!" position. RSSchwab posited one
way of explaining SOR and the reason for the gap, and there surely can
be more than one explanation, but ignoring that gap or insisting it
doesn't exist ***doesn't seem like a tenable option***.

All the best from
  - Michael Poppers via RIM pager

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Date: Sun, 6 Feb 2005 01:29:37 -0500
From: "S & R Coffer" <rivkyc@sympatico.ca>
RE: The A of the U

Below is a partial representation of an ongoing discussion between
RYGB and I. It is difficult to comment on much of the material in a
comprehensive manner; our original dialogue was very lengthy containing
much more information then what appears below. To facilitate a proper
representation of both sides of the debate, I have added some information
that RYGB has omitted. I also added headings before the quotes in order
to make it more readable. I hope the post is not too lengthy.

RYGB wrote 
: A backchannel correspondence has been going on for some time on the A of
: the U. This is my correspondent's latest post and my response. I hope it
: will clear up some issues. (I have omitted his name. I leave it to him to
: decide if and when he will be identified.)

My name is Simcha Coffer. 

: 1. We have been discussing the approach of Rabbeinu Bachye (RB) at the
: beginning of his peirush al haTorah, where he seems to indicate that large
: amounts of time transpired between Bereishis and Yehi Ohr.

I am not aware of any place in RB that "seems to indicate that large
amounts of time transpired between Bereishis and Yehi Ohr"

: My correspondent assumes that this is figurative or spiritual time, and
: his evidence is primarily in that RB states that the 974 generations
: mentioned in Chazal were only oleh b'machashavah, not actually
: created. I wrote in my last email that obviously I cannot convince him,
: to which he respnded:

My (SC) original quote 
> You haven't tried. I (as you requested) pointed you to where RB states
> openly that the 974 generations were only b'machshava, not b'poel...no
> response. I pointed you to where RB says that there was no time before Yehi
> Or...no response. Since this RB is your primary source (as you stated in
> your last e-mail), I would have liked to have seen some further elucidation
> from your side regarding this RB.

RYGB responded 
: I would like to explain my position: In order for there to be room to
: assume the world to be billions of years old, there need not be human
: beings on earth for that long - or even any amount of time prior to Adam
: HaRishon. There needs to be matter. And since it seems evident from RB that
: matter (the tehom, a combination of afar and mayim) existed prior to Yehi
: Ohr, it is possible to posit this A of the U according to RB. But in any
: event, the RB certainly seems to indicate that *something* existed prior to
: 5765 years ago.

I don't even know where to begin. First of all, if RYGB would like for
there to be "room to assume the world to be billions of years old" then
obviously time must exist "prior to Adam HaRishon". Otherwise, how could
the world be billions of years (a temporal measurement) old? He then
goes on to say that all we need is matter (not time or human beings)
in order to obtain the aforementioned duration (billions of years). Is
it me, or does this statement seem incoherent?

First of all, why would you only need matter in order to obtain his
"billions of years"? Second of all, this is in direct contradiction to
all the known properties of our physical universe. Time may not be able
to be measured absolutely (special theory of Relativity) its flow may
be affected by gravitational forces acting upon matter (general theory)
or by the speed of mass (special theory) but one thing is certain;
time necessarily exists with and simultaneously to matter. If so,
what does RYGB mean when he says "In order for there to be room to
assume the world to be billions of years old, there need not be human
beings on earth for that long - or even any amount of time prior to Adam
HaRishon. There needs to be matter". To me this statement seems to be
hopelessly self-contradictory.

RYGB continues "And since it seems evident from RB that matter (the
tehom, a combination of afar and mayim) existed prior to Yehi Ohr, it
is possible to posit this A of the U according to RB. But in any event,
the RB certainly seems to indicate that *something* existed prior to
5765 years ago".

In our original correspondence, I responded to this at length. In order
to conserve space, I will respond in an abbreviated form.

RB speaks extensively about the kabbalistic connotations of the unfolding
of the Beriah and focuses on the first two pesukim of Bereishis in this
regard. There is no question that in addition to the spiritual creation
of our universe, the first two pesukim *also* describe certain physical
properties of our beriah. In fact, RB follows the Ramban's approach that
the four primordial elements of the beriah are described in the first two
pesukim. However, RB goes on to say that the actual creation of these
elements in a physical way *did not begin* until the third pasuk (the
second maamar - Yehi Or) and thus, pre Yehi Or, no physical properties
existed at all including time. This is not my chiddush. Rabbeinu Bachya
*states this openly*. See pg 26 in RB (Mosad HaRav Kook edition).

Thus Rabbeinu Bachya is able to reconcile maamarei Chazal that seem to
be contradictory to this approach by stating that any maamaar Chazal
that seems to imply that something existed before the physical unfolding
of the beriah is to be understood in a conceptual/spiritual manner and
is represented in the first two pesukim in the Torah. He states openly
that although Chazal state that the Torah was "kadma" to the beriah
2000 years, these years are not to be understood in the sense that we
understand them i.e. time as relates to man. He says the same regarding
the 974 generations that Chazal inserted before the beriah.

RYGB says that "RB certainly seems to indicate that *something* existed
prior to 5765 years ago". Anyone trained in klalei hamachshava knows that
when using the terminology "kodem" ("prior") when referring to things
that were created before the world (Torah, Gan Eden, Teshuva etc.), it
is not a temporal assignment; rather, it is a description that applies
to the *importance* of the item, its connection to the incipient world in
terms of a shoresh, a source from which the world "subsequently" unfolds.

(For a treatment of the maamar Chazal regarding the 2000 years of
Kadimas HaTorah, see the maamar "eesa bimedrash tillim" by Rabbi Sholom
Ber of Lubavitch. Briefly, he explains that the word alpayim is not a
numerical description. Rather, it comes from the word 'aalfcha" I shall
teach you. The Torah is thus above the midos (chabadspeak for the zayin
sefiros tachtonos) and finds its source in the two sefiros of Chochmah
and Binah from which the subsequent midos flow)

RYGB continues
: 2. Later in my last email, I stated: I have no idea how old the world is -
: and don't really care. My interest is in making as many shittos as possible
: legitimate options within Orthodox dogma.

: To which my correspondent answered:

SC original quote 
>Why? Don't you care to know the truth? Do you not think that when
>considering the ancillary properties of one of the ikray ha'emunah, one
>should strive to reach the absolute truth without compromise? IMO, when
>pursuing Torah subjects, one should be animated by one desire alone; to
>reach the amita shel Torah. Not to make as many shittos as possible
>legitimate: for two reasons.

>First of all, this approach is dangerous because it can cause its adherents
>to read things into Chazal and Rishonim that are not there in order to
>satisfy their mandate of legitimizing. And second, we follow our great
>teachers in their approach to milchamto shel Torah. When it comes to
>legitimizing, Rashi and Tosafos didn't do it. They fought tooth and nail.
>Rava and Abaye didn't do it. R' Meir and R' Yehuda didn't do it. Beis
>Shammai and Bais Hillel didn't do it. Neither should we.

RYGB responded 
: So, I must say that I disagree vociferously with this approach. I have
: written an essay on Eilu va'Eilu, which is at:
: www.aishdas.org/rygb/eilu.htm that lays out my position that there are
: multiple potentially legitimate approaches.

This in no way justifies a blatant disregard for pursuing the truth in
Torah. On the contrary, eilu v'eilu is a statement about the absolute
truthfulness of *both* (or all three or four etc.) positions stated
in the gemmara. When the two positions are factually exclusive, it is
*impossible* to apply the klal of eilu v'eilu. And in our case, the two
positions are mutually exclusive because one holds that the universe is
5765 years old and the other attributes billions of years to its history.

: Moreover, in this area, in
: which there is no nafka mina l'hilchasa, and no possible way to ascertain
: "emes l'amita" short of revelation min hashomayim, there is no need to lock
: into a certain position.

We *have* a revelation min hashomayim. Like the Torah says, "min
hashomayim heeshmiacha ess kolo etc." The Torah is quite clear about
maaseh bereishis and the time it took. If you do not have any Chazal or
Rishonim to take the Torah out of context, you have absolutely *no right*
to do so.

: So long as one believes the Beriah was created by
: Hashem Yisborach and that the account in the Chumash describes the process,
: one is in line with normative Jewish belief.

If by "normative" you mean standard, you are obviously incorrect as the
standard Jewish perception of maaseh bereishis for thousands of years
has been within the parameters of a young age universe. This old age
nonsense is just a relatively recent infiltration into our nation and
is due primarily to the need of some to reconcile the false ideologies
of academia with the infinite truthfulness of the Torah. The truth is,
*nothing* in science contradicts the Torah.

: My correspondent's subsequent statement...

At this point I wish to insert something that RYGB left out here which
appeared in our original communication. My quote below is actually a
response to RYGB'S following statement:

: I believe the evidence - both in Chazal and Rishonim and in nature
: indicates that the world (or universe) is older than 5765 years.

SC original quote in response to the above-stated belief:  
>There is no Chazal that state openly that the world IS older than 5765
>years. Thus, when you say "evidence", I assume that you mean that to your
>mind, several of the maamarei Chazal can be understood (and perhaps seem to
>say) that the world or universe is older than 5765 years. Perhaps the reason
>you choose to be noteh towards this interpretation is because, as you state,
>nature seems to indicate that the world or universe is older than 5765. It
>might then be helpful to discuss exactly what "evidence" you see in the
>world that indicates an older beria. If the scientific evidence can be dealt
>with, perhaps the necessity to lean towards interpretations of Chazal in
>this manner would also fall away. Just a suggestion.

RYGB responded 
: ...is thus rendered moot, as it is of no concern to me to ascertain who is
: "correct."

Is *not* rendered moot as my response was directed at RYGB'S stated belief
that the universe is older than 5765 years.

RYGB continues
: 3. I then wrote that while I reject evolution, I believe the Beriah
: indicates a progression (which cannot be explained but by yad Hashem). To
: which my correspondent replied (here I am including some exchanges):

SC original quote 
>Incorrect. I have dozens of quotes from leading palaeontologists and are all
>modeh that there is not even a single continuous sequence of fossils
>demonstrating the theory of progression as stated above. For instance: "The
>facts are that many species and genera, indeed the majority, do appear
>suddenly in the record, differing sharply and in many ways from any earlier
>group, and that this appearance of discontinuity becomes more common the
>higher the level, until it is virtually universal as regards orders and all
>higher steps in the taxonomic hierarchy" (G.G. Simpson Tempo and Mode in
>Evolution pg. 99) Now, if you've studied evolutionary theory at all, you
>would know that George Gaylord Simpson is no yingel. In fact, he is from the
>gedolei acharonim in evolution. I have much much more to say on this topic,
>but suffice to say that "I" am not the one that "says so".

RYGB'S original quote
> You may be right that it does not exist, but it is not relevant.

SC original response
> That is the biggest error you can make. Of course it's relevant. A lack of
>fossil evidence showing a gradual descent from less complex, less advanced,
>imperfect forms, to more perfect and adapted forms is the biggest proof THAT
>IT NEVER HAPPENED. Otherwise, where are the fossils to prove it?! The TY
>relied heavily on what he thought was strong scientific evidence to support
>his thesis as is patently evident from the paragraphs I quoted to you.

RYGB'S original statement 
> There is no reason NOT to say that a PROGRESSION occurred.

SC original response
> Of course there is! Open a chumash. No where does it state that Hashem
> created less perfect forms, and then progressed to more perfect forms.
> Hashem said "let it be" and millions of perfectly adapted perfectly
> functioning cows, trees plants etc. instantly came into existence. They
> didn't progress.

> So saith the Malbim explicitly.

> Where?

RYGB responds 
: So, let me clarify that progression does not need to be "a single
: continuous sequence of fossils." Aderaba, we would expect a progression
: that is the product of yad Hashem to davka be punctuated and discontinuous.
: And so it is.

There obviously seems to be some confusion here. Allow me to
clarify. There are two components to evolution, a) the theory and b)
the purported evidence. Both the TY and the geologists of the time
were referring to the same evidence. TY quotes the geologists "facts"
that there are four geologic columns, that there are larger, more
imperfect fossils in the lower columns and that as we advance up the
columns, the creatures become smaller and more perfect. The difference
between the geologists and TY is simply in the interpretation of this
"evidence". According to the geologists, organic entities evolved from
lower less perfect organic entities in an unguided fashion, and according
to the TY, Hashem created less perfect beings in the beginning and then
advanced to higher and higher levels of perfection. In both cases, fossil
evidence showing some kind of continuous progression from lower, less
perfect forms to higher, more perfect forms is necessary to demonstrate
their respective theories and in both cases, this fossil evidence is
missing as GG Simpson states.

> The Malbim is in Bereishis 1:20.

The malbim is not talking about our subject at all. He is referring
to the well known categories of domem, tzomeach, chai and midaber and
states that maaseh bereishis unfolded in that order. He says nothing
of imperfect beings that progressed to subsequent levels of perfection
etc. You are comparing apples and oranges.

> I then asserted that even were one to accept the theory of evolution, one
> might still be a maamin (a classic example of this approach is to be found
> in the Appendix to the Hertz chumash). I wrote that I doubted that the
> agenda of evolution was to do away with G-d, saying:

>>> I doubt it was with the agenda you assume. Darwin himself was a maamin.

> ...to which my correspondent responded:

>> You are sorely mistaken. Darwin was an apikorus of the highest order. I do
>> not have time to discuss his life with you but you apparently know nothing
>> about him or his theories. (actually, a good thing)

> Perhaps. But perhaps not ;-) - see
> http://www.wood-tang.com/2004/07/religious-themes-in-darwins-theories-of-
> evolution/

The upshot of this entire interchange is that, in my opinion, RYGB has no
right to believe in a world that is billions of years old. I know that this
statement will not go unchallenged however, due to my busy schedule, I
apologize if I am unable to respond in a timely fashion.

Gut voch
Simcha Coffer

Go to top.

Date: Sun, 06 Feb 2005 02:48:27 -0500
From: Lisa Liel <lisa@starways.net>
Re: Torah and Science and Jewish vs. Secular chronolgy

RMA <xynetics@nyc.rr.com> wrote:
>VAT4956 is one of many such artifacts. "very, very few" is true compared 
>to say artifacts we have of the US Civil War, but there are over 10,000 
>cuneiform tablets which were found in the ruins of Babylon and relate to 
>the period between about 650 to 312. In addition there are many 
>inscriptions on Persian antiquities, Persian Royal Palaces etc. which help 
>establish the number and order of Persian Kings.
>2. One also has numerous inscriptions, found in Persian palaces in
>Hamadan, Susa and Persepolis which establish the existence of a Persian
>Regnal order consisting of
>Cyrus, Cambyses ,Bardiya, Darius [I], Xerxes (Ahasuerus), Artaxerxes [I] , 
>Darius [II] , Artaxerxes [II] ,Artaxerxes [III],
>,Arses, Darius [III].
>For example one has the following second inscription found on the western
>staircase, which was added on to of the "Palace of Darius" in Persepolis

>(SEE http://www.livius.org/aa-ac/achaemenians/inscriptions.text)

>    A great god is Ahuramazda, who created this earth, who created yonder
>    heaven, who created happiness for man, who made Artaxerxes king. One
>    king for many, one leader of many.

>    The great king Artaxerxes, the king of kings, the king of countries,
>    the king of this earth, says: I am the son of king Artaxerxes [II
>    Mnemon]. Artaxerxes was the son of king Darius [II Nothus]. Darius
>    was the son of king Artaxerxes [I]. Artaxerxes was the son king
>    Xerxes. Xerxes was the son of king Darius [the Great]. Darius was
>    the son of a man named Hystaspes. Hystaspes was a son of a man named
>    Arsames, the Achaemenid.

You say "numerous", but the one you just cited is the only one that
gives all that. And you have to bear in mind that some of the later
(post-Alexandrian) Persian dynasties claimed to have been descended from
the Achaeamenids, and used the same names as the kings in that dynasty.
Ardashir, for example, is just Artaxerxes in a later dialect of Persian.
The bracketed information in the above inscription is an interpretation.
It's not actually in the inscription, which could have been written
by Persian pretenders after Alexander's conquest. After all, there
were Babylonian pretenders during the reign of Darius the Great.
Nebuchadnezzar III and IV, for instance.

>In a future post I will consider some additional problems with the SOR 
>chronology relating to the Greek and Roman periods.

How about the problems with the Greek chronology relating to Jewish


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