Avodah Mailing List

Volume 14 : Number 077

Sunday, February 6 2005

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Sun, 06 Feb 2005 10:25:42 +0000
From: Alan Rubin <alan@rubin.org.uk>
Re: Torah and Science and Jewish vs. Secular chronology

With all this learned talk about Persian genealogies, astronomical 
dating and counting Molads can anyone explain what happened to Greek 
history. There doesn't appear to be time in SOR for the Greek-Persian 
wars, Marathon, Salamis, Platea then the Peloponnesian Wars. Since this 
period starts with a Greek war against Darius and ends with the rise of 
Alexander it appears that SOR requires us to dispense with most of 
classical Greek history.

Alan Rubin

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Date: Sun, 6 Feb 2005 12:25:35 +0200
From: M Plaut <yatedmp@yated-neeman.co.il>
RE: Age of U

I had thought that most people do not regard what you call the Sephardic
approach and the one you call the Moshol approach (which I believe is the
accepted and common approach today in non Sephardic circles) as competing
conceptions of what is the true spiritual reality, but just alternative
ways of approaching the study. That is how I understood what a friend
who had spoken with HaRav Shraya Devlitsky shlita told me in his name,
and that is even what seems to be the case from a close reading of part
of what you wrote ("three different methods of Kabbala study") though
not of other parts of your remarks.

My understanding was that they are alternative approaches to how one
studies and what one is trying to do in the course of the study. One
approach tries to understand something beyond the literal meaning of
the texts in addition to absorbing the texts themselves, and the other
suffices with just understanding the text as written without taking any
position on anything beyond the text itself. If this is correct, then
the approach favored by HaRav Hillel shlita in study does not affect
his remarks which apply to the substance of the subject.

Also, and most importantly it seems to me, you have not shown that
on the issues in question (applying Kabbalistic statements to issues
having to do with the material A of the U) there would be any difference
under the Sephardic approach. Based on your admittedly short summary
("we must study the writings of Ari literally and, if we are zoche, we
will understand them in the future world.") it seems that they would be
even less sympathetic to such an application.

If so, then again, Rav Hillel's personal approach to the study would
not be relevant to his recent remarks about applying the substance of
the kabbalistic statements to questions about the material world.

You seem to know quite a bit about these issues, and I do not mean any
disrespect. I answer in the spirit that you invoke: 'lehagdil Torah

Mordecai Plaut

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Date: Sun, 6 Feb 2005 12:51:54 +0100
From: "Schoemann, Danny (Danny)** CTR **" <schoemann@lucent.com>
Re: A of the U

> he replied that since today it is accepted that the world is
>less than 6000 years old - the alternatives are no longer legitimate.

Hmmm... how does this match up with what Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan zt"l
reports in "The Age of the Universe: A Torah True Perspective"

				      "..the Rambam says clearly
    that in questions of hashkafah or history, there is no p'sak. In
    other words, if an opinion is found in Chazal or in our accepted Torah
    seforim, one cannot say that we do not posken like that opinion. Thus,
    the Rambam often takes a daas yachid (the opinion of just one person)
    and builds an entire hashkafah on it. He may use this opinion because
    it fits into his system of logic, even though it may be a minority
    opinion. He can do this, since the entire concept of p'sak only
    applies to questions of halachah and not to questions of hashkafah."

 - Danny, learning all sorts of interesting things on Avoda.

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Date: Sun, 6 Feb 2005 12:23:48 +0100
From: "Schoemann, Danny (Danny)** CTR **" <schoemann@lucent.com>
RE: R. Mordechai Eliyahu on the reason for the tsunami

>> Where are we supposed to draw the line?

> As I said in a previous post, it seems to me that it is pretty easy to
> draw a line between ma'aseh breishis and the rest of the Torah, because
> the Torah she baal peh does, in the mishna in chaggiga.

Firstly, thanks for taking the time to respond - and in a manner I can
mostly understand. :-)

2 questions remain open, though:

1. Where does ma'aseh breishis end? Adam? Chava? Gan Eden expulsion? Who

2. We need to define TSPB. Do you include midrash? Rishonim? And again:
Who decides?

 - Danny, on a world supported by 3 pillars. :-) Torah, Avoda and G Ch.

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Date: Sun, 06 Feb 2005 04:07:52 -0500
From: Sholom Simon <sholom@aishdas.org>
Torah and Science and Jewish vs. Secular chronology

>Molad Tohu is nothing more than a convenient mathematical starting point
>for calculating the other molados. But the molad of Tishre twelve months
>later fell at precisely 8:00:00 on a Friday morning. Others can believe
>what they want, but this is too much of a coincidence for me.

Huh?  Can you explain?  Which molad was at 8:00:00 on a Friday 
morning?  How was it calculated?

 - Sholom

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Date: Sun, 6 Feb 2005 13:08:47 +0100
From: "Schoemann, Danny (Danny)** CTR **" <schoemann@lucent.com>
RE: Seudat Purim on Friday

Correction, as somebody pointed out to me off-list:
>> The Shulchan Aruch says in 695:2 that it needs to be done in 
>> the morning because of Kavod Shabbat.

>      It's not the Shulchan Aruch, it's the R'ma; and since 
> the one who posed the question is a S'faradi, it makes a difference.

True. It's a long R'ma that starts the previous page, but it's still
a R'ma.

- Danny

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Date: Sun, 6 Feb 2005 13:56:37 +0000
From: Chana Luntz <chana@KolSassoon.org.uk>
Re: A of the U

In message , Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org> writes
>And this speaks to the basic differences between the CS's case, of Rabbi
>Hillel's lack of belief in a personal messiah, and nidon didan.

All that you say is valid, but it seems to me that there is another even
more fundamental difference between the two cases.

If we don't know the nature of moshiach, then we won't know how to
recognise him when he arrives (something that is of eminent relevance
to every one of us). If the Bnei Yisroel in Mitzrayim had not kept up
the tradition of pekud pekaditi, they may well not have recognised Moshe
when he came or have believed in him.

So if there is anything that our Torah needs to do is to transmit the
concept of moshiach as he will in fact come. And moshiach will know
what to do and say because of that tradition (and HaShem will send him
in that way in the same way that Hashem transmitted to Moshe what he
needed to say)..

Thus questions of moshiach are as "lo beshamayim he" as they get,
I would have said, in contrast to nidon didan.

Chana Luntz

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Date: Sun, 6 Feb 2005 14:00:00 GMT
From: "kennethgmiller@juno.com" <kennethgmiller@juno.com>
Re: Torah and Science and Jewish vs. Secular chronology

R' Sholom Simon asked <<< Which molad was at 8:00:00 on a Friday morning?
How was it calculated? >>>

Short answer: The molad for Adar Rishon 5765 will occur this week, on
Wednesday Feb. 9, at 4:56 AM and 4 chalakim. Count backwards to Bereishis
(about 5765 years) at a rate of 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes, and 1
chelek per month, and you'll see that the molad of Tishrei in the year
that Adam HaRishon was created, was at 8 AM on a Friday morning.

Long answer: I already posted all the arithmetic in Avodah 12:14, at

Akiva Miller

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Date: Sun, 6 Feb 2005 14:39:45 GMT
From: "kennethgmiller@juno.com" <kennethgmiller@juno.com>
Re: Torah and Science and Jewish vs. Secular chronolgy

(First, a note and greeting to Lisa and anyone else who joined the group
recently: Hi! The tradition that has delevoped here at Avodah/Areivim
over several years and for several reasons, is to refer to all men
with a single title (R') and to all women with a single title (R"n),
regardless of their marital or semicha status. Not everyone is entirely
happy with this, but by consensus, we've found it to be workable.)

R"n Lisa Liel wrote <<< R' Schwab retracted that suggestion, which was
never anything more than a vague hava amina on his part to begin with. >>>

I think that "retracted" is too strong a word. As I read his essay,
he raised the idea that there are problems with the SOR's chronology,
compared it with the other chronology, and discussed the pro's and con's
of the situation.

He never actually decided that the "168 years existed but were hidden"
was the correct view, so you can't say that he retracted it. What he
did was to raise the issue and then leave it hanging.

His next-to-last paragraph (page 284-285 in "Selected Speeches") reads
as follows:

<< This may be a disappointment to some, but on the other hand I muster
the courage to belong to those who rather wish to be honest to themselves
than to be "right." I would rather leave a good question open than
risk giving a wrong answer. And I follow the teachings of Rav Shimon
(Pesachim 52b) who said, "Just as I was awarded for the research, so
shall I be awarded for the retraction." >>

I will admit that he does use the word "retraction", but I also note
that he uses it in the future tense; I choose to interpret it as meaning
that in the future, IF the chronology of the SOR is shown to be correct,
THEN he will retract these questions and suggestions, but he has not
necessarily done so yet.

Others can disagree with me on that, but I don't see any room for
interpretaion on his statement that << I would rather leave a good
question open than risk giving a wrong answer. >> He is most certainly
leaving the question open.

Going back to RLL's comment, I think that if one feels that R' Schwab
actually sided against the SOR at one point, one could say that he
retracted from that. But to say that he <<< retracted that suggestion,
which was never anything more than a vague hava amina on his part to
begin with >>> is going too far (IMO). He held on to that suggestion,
and it was much more than a vague hava amina.

Akiva Miller

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Date: Sun, 06 Feb 2005 11:23:35 -0500
From: Reuven Manber <xynetics@nyc.rr.com>
Re: Torah and Science and Jewish vs. Secular chronolgy

I think it is futile to continue to responding to the claims of either
Lisa or the Bechofer's. Anyone following the exchange between them
and MPoppers can see that any questioning of their interpretation that
SOR chronology must be accepted literally, rather than allegorically or
figuratively is guilty of a lack of emunas chachamim. Similarly, at leat
according to the bechofer's, claiming that belief in the spontaneous
generation of lice is untenable is also a lack of emunas chachamim.

In Lisa's case to these arguments is added that
> It is Tevah itself which virtually ensures that astronomical
> retrocalculations going that far back in time are unlikely to be
> accurate.

That is one can not project back astronomical data such as the sidereal
and synodic periods of the planets to the period 650 BCE - 300 BCE.

For those who don't believe that historical descriptions by Chazal
carry the authority of Halacha but are actually within the category
of Aggadata the sources I cited in my posts do a very good job of
laying out the case for conventional chronology. As the Bechofer's
pointed out (insultingly!) I accidentally give the wrong source
for the Persian temple inscriptions. The correct source is:

BTW - In order to cast doubt on a literal reading of the SOR chronolgy one
doesn't have to prove every detail of the Conventional chronology. One
simply has to show that there is a reasonably high probability that the
Persian reign extended more than 52 years and that some of the Persian
Kings in the Conventional Chronology did indeed reign before 422 BCE OR
that Nebuchadnezzer lived in the early sixth century BCE OR that there
were 20 years from Alexander's conquest of Judea to the beginning of
the Minyan Hashtarot. . One doesn't have to provide 100% proof of every
single date in the period between 586 and 311 BCE.

In particular if one has 30 pieces of evidence which point in the
direction of the conventional chronology - Then all of them must be
false to maintain the literal reading of the SOR chronology. A simple
calculation show that the probability of falseness of 30 pieces of data
is .5 then the probability that they are all false is less than one in
a billion.

However both Lisa and the Bechofer's are not convincible by any amount of
evidence - since for them doubting the literal truth of SOR is doubting
the chachamim. Thus showing that the probability of its being true is one
in a billion or one in a trillion or even 10^ -100 is immaterial. SOR
is true because its proponents say that not accepting SOR literally
is lack of emunas chachamim. SOR is not falsifiable by any amount of
probabilistically based observational or scientific data.

That is the question I was trying to understand in my opening post.

I should add that disagreeing with the literal truth of SOR or of the
Historical Aggada in the Gemara implies a lack of emunas chachamim only
in those chachamim who feel that Aggadata must be interpreted literally.

I do have one last question for the proponents of the literalness of
Rabbinic historical pronouncements
Are all of them literally true or does one have any leeway in claiming
some of these pronouncements are hyperbole or allegory or based on
knowledge which is not part of Torah min Hashamayim?
If some of these statements are not meant literally how does one determine
which are and which aren't?

In particular are all pronouncements relating to history in SOR, B.Avodah
Zara, B. Megillah, B. Gittin literally true?
If not which aren't literal and why do you say so?
What about Seder Olam Zuta?

With best regards to all

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Date: Sun, 6 Feb 2005 15:04:47 GMT
From: "kennethgmiller@juno.com" <kennethgmiller@juno.com>
Lo Sasur

On Areivim (in the thread "halakha and hashkafa") R' Yosef Blau wrote <<<
There is a dispute in the rishonim whether "lo sasur" applies when there
is no sanhedrin. >>>

Am I correct that even according to those who hold that it even applies
when there is no sanhedrin, it applies only to the psak of a true musmach,
which does not exist today?

Akiva Miller

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Date: Sun, 6 Feb 2005 11:13:16 -0500
From: "Menachem Butler" <MenachemButler@hotmail.com>
Re: Gedolim who attended college

> Rav DR. (!) Shimshon Refael Hirsch. Then there's Rav Yaakov Ettlinger
> (the Aruch Laner) who got a PhD 180 years ago from a German university. I
> only wonder when they'll start burning his sefarim. And apropos: since
> the Ramban and the RAN were both physicians (and they didn't exactly
> learn medicine in a yeshiva) I guess we'll have lots to burn this coming
> Lag Ba'Omer :-)

In R. Dr. Shnayer Z. Leiman's article in "Judaism's Encounters with Other
Culture," he writes:
    [R. Samson Raphael Hirsch's] studies at the yeshiva lasted for little
    more than a year, after which Hirsch enrolled for a year of study
    at the University of Bonn, where he studied, among other topics,
    classical languages and literature and experimental physics. This
    was clearly part of a carefully laid-out plan that would provide
    him with the education and credentials necessary to succeed in the
    German rabbinate. Like [R. Isaac] Bernays and [R. Jacob] Ettlinger,
    Hirsch did not earn a college degree." [page 183]

Email: MenachemButler@hotmail.com

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Date: Sun, 06 Feb 2005 13:42:16 -0500
From: Reuven Manber <xynetics@nyc.rr.com>
Re: Torah and Science and Jewish vs. Secular chronolgy

Since a lack of belief in the literal truth SOR is tantamount to being
a lack of emunas chachamim according to the Bechofer's and Lisa, I
(and I hope others) would be curious to understand how one interprets
the SOR chronology of the Greek Age. In particular the SOR states that
the period of Greek Rule over Judea was 180 years before the Hasmonean
dynasty and there were eight Greek kings in this period. They were:
Alexander Macedon, PYRTN, SLYMN, SLYKS, SNTRYK, ANTYOCH, Antiochus and
GSKLGS. One can possibly identify SLYMN as TLYMN which may be Ptolemy,
one can probably identify SLYKS with Seleucus Nicator and Antiochus is
clearly Antiochus IV but who are the rest of these Kings of Greece?. In
particular with whom should we identify the last pre-Hasmonian king of
Greece, GSKLGS.

Note that according to the secular historians if one begins with Alexander
there were considerably more than 8 rulers, more like 16-19. I suppose
we must assume that not only didn't the Greek know anything about Persian
rulers they also knew nothing about their own rulers.(-:)

Further on we read in SOR that from the time of the revolt [possibly war-
the Aramiac is Pulmus}] of ASVARUS to the revolt[war] of Vespasian was 80
years. What historical event took place 80 years before the Jew Revolt
against Rome which the SOR calls the revolt of ASVARUS. Note that 80
years before Vespasian's war comes out to be somewhere around 15 BCE,
about 10 years before the death of Herod.

Except for the fact that I might be accused of a lack of emunas
chachamim I would guess that the event being discussed is the revolt
after Herod's death which was suppressed by Quintillus Varus, which
Secular Historians date to 4 BCE. However that is only 70 years not 80
years before the revolt and it is a date furnished by Secular historians,
based on accounts by Roman Historians. But then again why assume the Roman
historians knew any more about Roman history than the Greek historians
knew about Greek history.(-:)

So which date is correct? What event is being referred to?

While we are analyzing the question of what a literal rendition of all
historical pronouncements by the rabbanim mean we should also analyze
how to reconcile the discussion of Roman Jewish history in Bavli. Avoda
Zara . The Gemara says (Soncino translation, but I checked the Gemara
and its translation is essentially the same)

Bavli. Avoda Zara 8b
    R. Dimi came he said: 
    Thirty-two battles did the Romans fight against the Greeks and
    could not prevail against them until the Romans made an alliance
    with the Israelites. And these were the conditions made with them:
    If the kings are [chosen] from among us, the princes should be
    chosen from your midst, and if the kings are chosen from among you,
    the princes shall come from our midst. Then the Romans sent word to
    the Greeks as follows: Hitherto we have been fighting matters out,
    now let us argue them out: Of a pearl and a precious stone which
    shall form a setting for which?6 They sent the reply: 'The pearl for
    the precious stone.' And of a precious stone and an onyx which shall
    form a setting to the other? 'The precious stone to the onyx.' was
    the reply. And of an onyx and the Book of the Law which shall serve
    as the setting for the other? 'The onyx for the Book of the Law,'
    they replied. The Romans then sent word: In that case, the Book of
    the Law is in our possession, for Israel is with us. Thereupon the
    Greeks gave in. For twenty-six years did the Romans keep faith with
    Israel, thereafter they subdued them.
    Now, it was mentioned above that Rome cast her rule over Israel
    one hundred and eighty years prior to the Destruction. Is not the
    period longer? For R. Jose b. Rabbi [9A] taught: Persian rule lasted
    thirty-four years after the building of the Temple, Greece ruled one
    hundred eighty years during the existence of the Temple, the Hasmonean
    rule lasted one hundred three years during temple times, the House of
    Herod ruled one hundred three years. Thence onward, one should go on
    counting the years as from the Destruction of the Temple. Hence we
    see that it was two hundred six years,et you say one hundred eighty
    years! - But for twenty six years the Romans kept faith with Israel2
    and did not subdue them, and therefore those years are not reckoned
    in the period during which Rome cast her dominion over Israel.

Following the dating above we learn that Rome made an alliance with
Judea in approximately 137 BCE as a result of which she was able to
subdue the Greeks and that 26 years later in approximately 111 BCE Rome
subdued Israel..

So what historical events does this account correspond to. According
to all Greek and Roman histories of the period, the battles between the
Greeks and Romans were finished by about 146 BCE when at the conclusion
of the Achaen war, Rome razed Corinth and sold all its inhabitants into
slavery. This was subsequent to the Third and Fourth Macedonian wars in
which Macedonia had been subdued.

Furthermore NO historian, Jewish,Roman or Greek says anything about any
Roman conquest of Judea in 111 BCE. The first mention of Roman Soldiers
in that part of the Near East doesn't occur for about another 40 years
and Roman didn't subdue Judea until 63 BCE NOT 11 BCE. Could the Gemara
possibly be talking in figurative terms. Could the Roman Rule refer to
spiritual rule or political influence not physical rule? Is it possibly
that we could interpret Historical statements in other than a literal
fashion? If this is possible vis a vis Rome then why not vis a vis Persia?

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Date: Sun, 6 Feb 2005 13:45:48 EST
From: Joelirich@aol.com
Responsive reading?

Quite some time ago we discussed the "proper" recitation of piyutim and
how some "minhagim" had changed and/or what was the proper approach.

I recently came across the following quote in"Echoes of the Song of the
Nightingale" by R Mozeson a talmid of R' YBS
    "During the chanting of Lcha Dodi...the cantor and congregation
    always alternated in the recital of each stanza, and at no time was
    it permitted for the cantor and congregation to sing together......
    The Rav explained to us....that what establishes the sanctity of any
    hymn chanted in the synagogue is the rendition in a form that has
    the cantor and the congregation alternating. This is based on the
    celestial principle of vnotnim rshut zeh lazeh. .....on Yom Kippur,
    the criterion for standing should not be when the Aron Kodesh
    is opened but when a hymn is recited in a manner of responsive
    reading....(of course the Rav stood for the entire chazarat hashatz)

Joel (who desperately listens in the quiet of the night for those echoes
as a partial kapparah for not hearing the song when he had the chance)

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Date: Sun, 06 Feb 2005 15:43:48 -0500
From: Reuven Manber <xynetics@nyc.rr.com>
Emunas chachamim, Torah and Science and Jewish vs. Secular chronolgy

Lately accusations have been bandied about concerning people's lack of
emunas chachomim regarding accepting the literalness of pronouncement
of Chazal on History. The crux of the issue seems to lie in whether
such statement are or are not aggadata. If one reads the Rambam it
certainly appears that he divided Torah She' Baal Peh into 2 categories.
Halacha and everything else, i.e. Aggadata. Regarding Aggadata, the
Rambam says in his Perush L'Mishenh, Intro to Perek Chalek (Translation
by Avraham Yaakov Finkel, Yeshiva Beth Moshe; )

    ...Most of the thinkers I have met personally and whose essays
    I have read or heard about belong to the first group. They take
    the aggados literally and do not attribute a figurative meaning to
    them. To them any impossible thing is possible. They believe this
    because they do not have wisdom and are ignorant of the various
    branches of knowledge. Their intellect is not sufficiently developed
    to spur them to deeper understanding, nor have they found someone
    who would stimulate them to think deeply. They believe that the
    intent of the sages in all their correct and lucid sayings is only
    what they themselves can understand and they believe that these
    sayings should be taken literally. This they assert, despite the
    fact that the words of the Sages, when taken literally, tend to
    be so slanderous and irrational that even ordinary people, and
    surely those who are learned, would be amazed enough to exclaim,
    "How is its possible that anyone in the world would think like this
    or believe that this is true, much less approve of it!"

    You should pity this group of ignoramuses who think that they are
    honoring and exalting the Sages, when, in fact, they are reducing
    them to the lowest levels. This group of thinkers destroys the
    glory of the Torah and darkens its brightness. They distort the
    meaning of the Almighty's Torah and pervert its intent so that it
    seems to say the opposite of what is intended. Hashem said in his
    perfect Torah, "For this is your wisdom and understanding in the
    eyes of the nations. They will hear all of these rules and say,
    ' This great nation is certainly a wise and understanding people'
    (Deut 4:6). But this group maintains the literal words of the Sages
    so that when the other nations hear them they say. "What a foolish
    and degraded nation is this small people." In fact these preachers
    are explaining passages that they themselves do not understand. I
    wish they would keep themselves quiet, since they neither know nor
    understand what they preach, as it is stated, "If only you would
    keep silent, it would be considered wisdom on your part." (Job 13:5)
    Or they might at least say, "we do not understand what the Sages
    meant with this statement, nor do we know how to interpret it." But
    they think that they do understand, and then try to explain their
    limited understanding but do not convey what the Sages actually said.

Recently, especially after the Chazon Ish's strong pronouncements
regarding the Sinaitic origins of Aggadata, many have claimed there
is in fact a third category - Sayings and statements which while
not precisely Halacha have to be treated as if they were Halacha and
beleived in literally rather than treated figuratively or treated within
the category of "we do not understand what the Sages meant with this
statement, nor do we know how to interpret it."

Again rather than argue what is in what category I invite the discerning
reader to closely read the words of the Rambam and decide for himself who
is lacking in Emunas Chachamim and who is part of the "group of thinkers
[that} destroys the glory of the Torah and darkens its brightness."

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Date: Sun, 6 Feb 2005 16:13:17 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Emunas chachamim, Torah and Science and Jewish vs. Secular chronolgy

On Sun, Feb 06, 2005 at 03:43:48PM -0500, Reuven Manber wrote:
: Lately accusations have been bandied about concerning people's lack of
: emunas chachomim regarding accepting the literalness of pronouncement
: of Chazal on History...

IIUC, RYGB is not insisting one MUST take it literally (although it
seems he personally does), but rather once again is asking for an
acknowledgement of the full bredth of the plurality of possible shitos.

His objection was to calling the treatment of chazal's history as literal
"untenable", which goes beyond simply disagreeing to saying it's not
even an option others might logically choose.

I think that insisting that the SOR is literal may well violate
the Rambam's guideline on insisting all aggaditos must be taken
as historical. And even if it is literal, it's one tanna's
opinion -- and on many of its assumptions, there is a machloqes
tannaim. E.g. already mentioned was the SOR saying that Rivqa was 3 when
she met Yitzchaq. Rashi, both that and a second opinion, that she was
15. (That particular machloqes does not (IIRC) go into calculating the
age of the universe, it was the simply easiest one to think of.)


Micha Berger             When faced, with a decision, ask yourself,
micha@aishdas.org        "How would I decide if it were Ne'ilah now,
http://www.aishdas.org   at the closing moments of Yom Kippur?"
Fax: (270) 514-1507                            - Rav Yisrael Salanter

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Date: Sun, 6 Feb 2005 23:29:38 -0000
From: "A Lubavitcher in London" <anonymous@aishdas.org>
The shape of the Menorah of the Temple

I found your article extremely interesting - I am part of the Chabad
community in London and have been looking into the shape of the Menorah
over the past few weeks. You may be interested in a few more useful facts:

(1) The material used for the Menorah was pure gold - this is very soft
and pliable. Having arms extending diagonally upwards would, due the
weight, cause a drooping of the arms - this would especially affect the
two outer arms.

(2) Arms formed like a part of a semicircle would have a similar problem
to the straight arms - whilst the arms probably could maintain their round
shape, it would be almost impossible to ensure that the arms remained
horizontal when initially coming away from the body of the Menorah.

Both these points will be addressed below.

(3) In general, where the Ib'n Ezra disagrees with Rashi, he says so!
With the explanation of Rashi regarding the arms, there is no such comment -
only that the arms were curved. This would imply that the Ib'n Ezra was
adding something rather than disagreeing with Rashi.

(4) Based on the last comment, combining both Rashi and the Ib'n Ezra,
the arms would have come away from the body of the Menorah and bent up
(like branches growing upwards as the Ib'n Ezra explains).

Back to the soft gold . . .

(5) Rashi was a very practical person as can be demonstrated from his
commentary on TNa'Ch and Talmud. If you have to make arms that are
pliable and heavy, the only practical way of ensuring their stability
is for the arms to come out at an angle (b'alachson) and bend upwards
(Ib'n Ezra). This fits in very neatly with the archaeological finds.

I will return to the shape below.

(6) There are those in my community who want to argue that the Menorah
of Moishe (the one being described in Chumash and by the Rambam)
was miraculous. Whilst the Midrash does speak of the Menorah being
made miraculously, there is no mention of its standing miraculously.
Furthermore, when Sh'lomo HaMelech made the additional menorahs, they
were copies of Menorahs Moishe. Josephus also describes the additional
ten menorahs to be like the Menorah of Moishe.

(7) And what did Rashi hold? I suppose it would have been really nice had
Rashi drawn diagrams as he did for Talmud. Guess what? He did! Very few
know of this and it appears that the drawings were lost very early on. The
earliest manuscripts do have drawings and maps - the next generation (so
to speak) have blank spaces where the drawings were to have appeared and
finally there are no spaces at all. When it came to printing any words
referring to diagrams are omitted entirely. There are something in the
order of 288 pieces of k'sav yad Rashi (some may even be Rashi's hand).

Rashi's shape . . .

(8) The drawings in k'sav yad Rashi may not necessarily be those of Rashi
but are from manuscripts with a hundred years of Rashi - the shape is
very much in line with my description above, with elliptical arms coming
out at an angle to the body of the Menorah. The fact that this fits in
so well with all other factors now available, it would be difficult to
argue the copier/artist messed up what Rashi intended.

I have made it quite clear to others that there is no way that I can
hold of a straight Menorah - there is too much evidence against this
(and very probably, none for the straight arms).

I also do not think that the Menorah was beaten out of a nice neat
brick shape piece of gold - it is more likely that it was cast in a
crude shape and then finished by hammering and polishing. But I stand
to be corrected on this.

I suppose the bottom line is, we will have to await the coming of
Mashiach so that all will become clear. I guess we may all be for a
number of big surprises.

May He come speedily in our days.

Go to top.

Date: Sun, 06 Feb 2005 20:51:03 -0500
From: "Yosef Gavriel & Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <ygb@aishdas.org>
Re: Emunas chachamim, Torah and Science and Jewish vs. Secular chronolgy

At 03:43 PM 2/6/2005, Reuven Manber wrote:
>Lately accusations have been bandied about concerning people's lack of
>emunas chachomim regarding accepting the literalness of pronouncement
>of Chazal on History. The crux of the issue seems to lie in whether
>such statement are or are not aggadata. If one reads the Rambam it
>certainly appears that he divided Torah She' Baal Peh into 2 categories.
>Halacha and everything else, i.e. Aggadata. Regarding Aggadata, the
>Rambam says in his Perush L'Mishenh, Intro to Perek Chalek (Translation
>by Avraham Yaakov Finkel, Yeshiva Beth Moshe; )

History is not Aggadata.


[Email #2. -mi]

At 04:13 PM 2/6/2005, [Micha] wrote:
>IIUC, RYGB is not insisting one MUST take it literally (although it
>seems he personally does), but rather once again is asking for an
>acknowledgement of the full bredth of the plurality of possible shitos.

>His objection was to calling the treatment of chazal's history as literal
>"untenable", which goes beyond simply disagreeing to saying it's not
>even an option others might logically choose.

This is an accurate description of RYGB's position.

I know because I asked him :-) .


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