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Volume 14 : Number 098

Monday, March 21 2005

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Sun, 20 Mar 2005 00:55:00 -0500
From: Mendel Singer <mendel@case.edu>
Re: On the Akeida

At 11:40 PM 3/19/2005 +0200, [Rt Shoshana L. Boublil] wrote:
>I need help with a source. Some time during the past 2 years I read a
>D'var Torah that stated that the Akeida came (in part) to teach us and
>the world that sacrificing children is Assur.
>Does anyone know the sources for this?

Wow! I knew someone who taught part-time in a Reform hebrew school
and was told that he had to teach about the keidah without mentioning
G-d. He was told to teach it as Avraham Avinu wanted to sacrifice his
son like everyone else, but he resisted and that was what was so great
about him. What you're saying is different, but close enough to recall
that story.


Go to top.

Date: Sun, 20 Mar 2005 18:01:41 -0500
From: "S & R Coffer" <rivkyc@sympatico.ca>
conflicting opinions & elu v'elu

On Fri, 18 Mar 2005 Eli Turkel wrote
> Simcha Coffer writes
>> There can't be more than one legitimate opinion when we're dealing
>> with facts. I assume this to be true because I see no other logical
>> conclusion. Perhaps you can illustrate to me how it would be possible
>> for two factually exclusive things to be simultaneously real? (e.g. how
>> can the world be 6000 years old and also billions of years old. How is it
> > possible that at least one of these opinions is not true?) ...

> First of all Scgroeder, based on special relativity, claims that the
> world can be both 6000 years old and several billion years old depending
> on what frame of reference you are working with.

I'm embarrassed to say but I've never gone through Gerald Schroeder's
book. However, from what I've been told, he is using the *general* theory
to explain the disparity in the time factor. This would not constitute a
universe that *simultaneously* exists for 6000 years and 15 billion years;
rather, there is a framework (which is unaffected by the gravitational
forces influencing the flow of time) from which time flows at a natural,
undisturbed rate. Thus, the universe is actually billions of years
old but there is a *hypothetical* frame of reference (Hashem's) which
is illusive (and from what I understand, remains unidentified), from
which Hashem would have perceived the flow of time as six days. These
two time reckonings would not be considered inherently dichotomous
because an independent variable (gravitational force) is present in one
frame and absent in the other. As far as the tenability of GS's theory,
I cannot comment intelligently before reading the book. Consequently,
I'll reserve my remarks for a later date.

> Second, more generally the Gra claims that Elu v-elu applies even to
> factual arguments and gives the example of the machloket in the gemara
> about exactly what happened with Pilegesh Be-givah. Essentially in that
> case the truth also depended on how one viewed the case.

Actually, pilegesh bigiv'ah (PB) is the best example I can think of
that elu v'elu (EV) does *not* apply to factually exclusive arguments.
Since PG is the only place that the Gemara (G) ever says EV in a
non-halachic context, I think it might be helpful to briefly revue the
sugya so we can all be on the same page.

The G (Gitin 6:) begins discussing PG and wants to know the cause of
the Ish Levi's irritation. R' Evyasar says he found a fly in his food,
R' Yonasan says he found a hair (two opinions about where he found the
hair...please look up the sugya) The G relates that R' Evyasar encountered
Eliyahu Hanavi and asked him what Hashem was doing. Eliyahu answered
that Hashem was involved in the sugya of PB. "What does He say?" asked R'
Evyasar? "He says My son Evysar opines thus, My son Yonasan opines thus"
"How is that possible" asked R' Evyasar, "could their chs'v be a doubt
in heaven?" "No" answered Eliyahu, eylu v'eylu divrei elokim chaim".

Now, if you stop here, the G seems to be saying that although R' Evyasar
and R' Yonasan seem to be arguing on a fact, that is, what exactly did
the Ish Levi find, we can still say EV. Thus, we can prove from here that
the G holds that we say EV even in factually exclusive cases like Eli
Turkel wants to taynah. The problem with this reading of the G is that
the G never answers its question. You see, the G never asked how it was
possible for us to hold both opinions, the G asked "could their chs'v
be a doubt in heaven?" Even if for some mysterious (read: illogical)
reason we, down here, can apply EV to factually exclusive opinions,
surely Hashem knows what actually happened!?

The answer is that we (as RAK did in his book) stopped short before the
end of the G. The G actually says elu 'velu divrei elokim chaim, zvoov
matzah v'lo hikpid, neema matza v'hikpid! (both are the words of the
living G-d, he (the Ish Levi) found a fly but was not set off, he then
found the hair and was set off) This changes everything! We see from here
that the *only* time we can say EV is when the two sides of the debate
are not factually exclusive. Thus, *both* the hair and the fly had to be
found by the Ish Levi in order to be able to say EV. The Maharal goes so
far as to say that without the fly, the hair would not have triggered
the Ish Levi's anger. Thus not only do both have to be literally true,
they are both *indispensable* to understanding the Ish Levi's anger.

Thus, we see from here that the only time one is permitted to employ
the concept of EV is only when the two (or three or four) opinions are
not factually contradictory.

As far as your quote from the Gra, the Michtav Me'Eliyahu, expanding on
our above approach of EV, states that *all* disagreements in aggadita
are simply different facets of the same phenomenon. He quotes the Gra in
Even Shleima regarding the apparently contradictory opinions concerning
the times of Mashiach and concludes that even when the Gemara seems
to openly state that they are arguing such as "upliga d'Shmuel d'amar
Shmuel, ein bein olam hazah l'ymos ha'Mashiach ela shibud malchuyos
bilvad", Shmuel is actually only discussing one of the aspects of yimos
haMashaiach (i.e. what will occur at it's initial unfolding versus what
occurs as the geulah progresses in time), as opposed to the exclusion
of any other aspect.

Thus we see that the Gra *concurs* with our above interpretation of
EV. I am not familiar with the Gra that you quoted and would appreciate
a mar'eh makom from you at your earliest convenience.

> More to the point, since we don't "know" the absolute truth we have to
> give credence to a scientific theory that is the basis of thousands of
> scientific works in many different fields.

I have posted to Avodah several times regarding this issue. The theory
of evolution is not a science per se. In science, there are several
steps that must be taken before a hypothesis can finally be accepted as
scientific fact. First of all, the scientist who forms the hypothesis must
conduct several well designed experiments using dependent and independent
variables. If the results do not support his hypothesis, he must either
modify or reject it. If they do, he must publish his findings in a peer
reviewed journal and report any errors in the process. The scientists
reviewing the journal must be able to duplicate the experiments in
order to determine the viability of the hypothesis and even then it
still does not gain acceptance. Only after many successful attempts
at duplication under a variety of conditions can the hypothesis gain
statistical significance and be admitted to the general knowledge base
of science. By definition, all paleo type sciences do not fall under
this category because there are no experiments that can be conducted
(and subsequently independently duplicated) to produce the empirical
evidence science requires for a theory to become accepted as fact. What
we have here is scientism rather than science. (I can go on about this
for another 20 pages but I'll spare you the torture :-)

> <(RET) There is no psak in hashkafa ----

> Who says? How do you know this? (I've seen this quoted on Avodah several
> times)>

> R. H. Schacter says this in his speech.

Ok. Well then, I must respectfully disagree.

> As others have pointed out many achronim also discuss the issue of the
> age of the universe and also that chazal seem to have made scientific
> mistakes (based on Greek science) without calling the other side kofrim
> or toim.

Please see my comment below.

> There is an interesting article in Tradition Summer 1992 by Shnayer
> Leiman. Maharil Diskin issue a ban of learning secular studies in
> EY. E. David Friedman counters that since this issue has been debated
> for many centuries R. Diskin has no right to take one side and ban the
> other side. He is entitled to his opinion and nothing more than that.

No offence but I'm sure that R' Yehoshua Leib would have been eminently
undeterred with E. David Friedman's "counter". R' Diskin was the
undisputed Gadol Hador who's genius and piety was so incredible the Beis
Halevi was in awe of him. Whenever he would sit down to write a letter to
R' Diskin, his hand trembled so much he couldn't hold on to the pen. His
son R' Chaim asked him why he ever even bothered to attempt to write. If
R' Yehoshua Leib came out with a psak, I'm sure he had a right to do so.

> <Primarily because of the differences between sfardic and ashkenazic
> customs. Once the Rama appended his notes to Shulchan Aruch, it became
> universally accepted. >

> This is simply not true. The Rama was never completely accepted by
> Adhkenazic Jewry.
> The various commentators, Magen Avraham, Taz, Schach etc argue with
> Rama. Even in later generations there are stories of R. Chaim Soloveitchik
> and others disagreeing with the Rama.

All you've done is make my point even stronger. When R' Yosef Cairo came
out with his code, Ashkenazim felt they were unable to use it because of
the differences between Sfardee and Ashkenazi traditions. When the Rama
appended his comments, Ashkenazim then felt that they could rely on the
SA because when ever it diverged from their customs, the Rama stated what
the halacha should be. Thus, anything that the Rama did not argue on was
universally accepted by both Ashkenazim and Sfardim effectively making
SA a universally accepted code. As the generations unfolded, further
clarifications were made by Ashkenazi poskim such as the ones you quoted,
and the Ashkenzic approach to halachchah became further refined. Sometimes
they argued on the Rama and followed the Michaber's opinion and thus
the SA became even more established in ashkenazic circles. By saying above

> The various commentators, Magen Avraham, Taz, Schach etc argue with
> Rama. Even in later generations there are stories of R. Chaim Soloveitchik
> and others disagreeing with the Rama.

you are not mitigating the acceptance of the SA; on the contrary, you
are firmly establishing it!

> Certainly, I see no grounds for any posek today to make decisions on
> hasgacha issues on behalf of other communties and to call them kofrom
> or toim. As R. Schacter points out the job of a posek is to defend his
> own position and not to attack others.

> Unless you wish to throw out of the fold all religious scientists I
> strongly suggest we be more inclusive in what we accept. World wide known
> religious physicists are not going to be swayed from all the physical
> evidence of a billion year old universe by calling them names.
> Galileo was threatened with much more by the church and never truly
> changed his beliefs.
> I see the present stands as replaying the middle age struggle between
> the church and science which science won. The only difference is that
> the rabbis don't have the power that the church had.

> As Gil Student has stated clearly he checked with gedolim before taking
> on Slifkin's books and these gedolim stressed the difference between
> various communities and the inability of one community to impose its
> will on other communties.

R' Eli, I feel compelled to say something here that has bothered me
since I have joined Avodah. There seems to be a certain angst pervading
some of the posts to Avodah by certain posters, which sometimes has
led me to respond in an "undiplomatic" fashion. I have pondered this
phenomenon and have concluded that it is probably due to the ban on
Rav Nosson Slifkin's book. I therefore wish to state my position for
the record. As long as one is a shomer torah umitzvos, whether you're a
black hatter, brown hatter, srugi man, white man, black man (converted)
or any other color man, YU man, Torah U'mada man or any other kind of man
(no Martians please), you fall under the category of v'ahavta l'reyacha
kamocha and I would relate to you within that context. I believe the word
kofer is bandied around much too frequently and would rarely (if ever)
use it against another frum Jew.

This debate began innocuously enough. We began with an academic discussion
regarding the dynamics of dispute; whether two people debating a subject
implied that the other was a toeh, and the parameters of elu v'elu. It
has now descended into "wishing to throw out of the fold all religious
scientists" the necessity of me being "more inclusive" and calling
other whole communities kofrim and toim (chs'v). This tone makes me
very uncomfortable. I'm a good Jew who, in addition to relishing a good
pastrami sandwich, also enjoys a geshmacka argument. That's all! At the
end of the argument you can still hold your way (even though you're
wrong :-) and I can hold my way, we can both go our separate ways,
and come back to Avodah tomorrow for another good argument. No kofer
shmofer business need be introduced.

> I have no doubt that if I went to R. Elyashiv then my sons would not
> have gone to hesder yeshivot and to university. 

And this is a bad thing? :-)

> Bottom line is that
> when it comes to haskafa I listen to other viewpoints which I consider
> authentic Judaism.

In view of your remonstrations above about being more inclusive, I'm
sure you don't mean that you are eliminating the other side as authentic,

Very best wishes
Simcha Coffer

Go to top.

Date: Sun, 20 Mar 2005 10:46:59 -0500
From: "David Riceman" <driceman@worldnet.att.net>
Re: Relationship of Science to Torah

I'm going to respond to RZL in reverse order.

> Rambam uses his "they're-not-ready-for-it"
> sevara to explain mitzvos ma'assios" such as korbonnos and davvening. For
> the theological issue of anthropomorphisms, his explanation is "dibra
> Torah k'lashom b'nei adam."

According to the Rambam someone who believes that God has a body is
a kofer. The problem, of course, is that the Torah, read literally,
says that God has body parts. One can ask two questions about this: 1)
how are we to interpret these passages? and 2) why does the Torah use
this misleading terminology?

The Rambam answers 1) with "dibrah Torah k'lashon bnei adam" (e.g.,
in Maamar Tehiyath HaMeithim, ed. Sheilath, p. 347, cf. H. Yesodei
HaTorah 1:9).

The Rambam merely implies an answer to 2). On pp. 345-346 he explains
that the masses are capable of predicating existence only of a body
or of something associated with a body. On pp. 368-369 he explains
that the Sabians believed that God is the soul of the outermost sphere.
That is, they believed that God is necessarily attached to a body! The
strong implication is that they are to be numbered among those fools who
are incapable of predicating existence of something not associated with
a body, that therefore if the Bible had described God accurately they
would have denied that He exists. That explains why the Bible needs to
use anthropomorphic language.

Now RZL's first point:
> I think RDR misunderstood what I wrote.

> I was responding to the proposal that Hashem withheld the information
> that the world is billions of years old because the Jews at the time of
> Mattan Torah would not be able to handle it, and would thereupon reject
> everything. Presumably the people of those days were unable to grasp
> that things can take long times, beyond common experiences. I therefore
> disagreed by pointing out several examples of where Hashem reported to
> those people that things in the past took place over periods of time that
> in their common experience were extraodinary--either exraordinarily long
> or extraordinarily short--such as the report "that the ancients lived
> lifespans of hundreds of years (even beyond 900 years!); that the first
> man and woman came into existence, had children, went through the entire
> experience leading to their banishment from Gan Eden all in one day;
> that Noach was 600 years old when he had all the animals of the world
> in his ark and that the world experienced a 40-day long global flood."

I did misunderstand your point, and I will reexplain my own response,
since I think it is important. The Rambam claims (pp. 368-369) that the
two doctrines of the Sabians which required immediate correction (and the
Ramban understands the Rambam to mean that these are really aspects of one
doctrine) is that God created the world and that God can perform miracles.

The Rambam held that these doctrines were of such overwhelming importance
that the Torah emphasised them, and at best hinted at the falsity of
other doctrines which are also very important. My example of such another
doctrine was incorporeality, whose denial the Rambm held is a form of
heresy, but which is nonetheless apparently denied by a naive reading
of the Biblical text.

Now everything you listed is, according to the Rambam, a miracle (of
course you recall that the Ramban takes exception to the Rambam's claim
that the extended age of certain antedeluvians was miraculous and was
restricted to those people explicitly listed in Humash).

It seems to me that the doctrine we are disputing is not the specific
number of years the world has existed (incidentally how would you say
"millions" or "billions" in Biblical Hebrew?), it is whether the world,
as created, looked like it looks today, or whether God set processes
in motion which would eventually result in the world we see today.
The latter is a belief contrary to that of the Sabians (listed on
pp. 368-369 - eternity of the world is code for a static world), and it
is not even an ikkar hadas. If God was unwilling to emphasise the ikkar
hadas that He is incorporeal because it conflicts with the beliefs of
the Sabians and interferes with teaching more important concepts, than
a fortiori He would have been unwilling to emphasise that the world is
in a state of transition.

David Riceman 

Go to top.

Date: Sun, 20 Mar 2005 11:31:12 -0500
From: "" <hlampel@thejnet.com>
Relationship of Science to Torah

Simon Montagu <simon.montagu@gmail.com> posted on 15 Mar 2005: 
>On Mon, 14 Mar 2005 21:57:52 +0200, Saul Mashbaum
><smash52@netvision.net.il> wrote:
>> I would like some
>> indication from any rabbinic source that chazal believed that God was
>> incorporeal. If we conclude that they "must have" believed this because
>> our reason says that this is true, we can probably attribute to chazal
>> many other positions as well.)

> The use of "kiveyachol" to qualify anthropomorphic images strongly
> suggests this, e.g. in Mishna Sanhedrin 6, 5.

To wit:
Meggilah (21a:) "And you, stand here with Me (Devarim 5:)"—Said
Rabbi Avahu, "This would be impossible to say, if the posuk wasn't
written! As if (k'v'yachol) even Hakadosh Baruch Hu was in a standing
position!" (Rashi: As if it were posible to talk about HKBH as if he
were a man!)

Also, in Moreh Nevuchim, Book One, Chapter 46, the Rambam explains that
incorporeality was obvious to all Jews, and for this reason the Sages
spoke metaphorically about G-d themselves, without fear that it would
be misunderstood. They express this assumption in Breishis Rabba (27:1)
when they remark about the boldness of the prophets in speaking of Hashem
as if he appeared like a man:

"Our Sages made an overall general statement that rejects the literal
sense of the physical attributes of G-d mentioned by the prophets. This
statement clearly proves that the thought that G-d is corporeal never
occurred at all to our Sages, and that they did not think any person
capable of such a misunderstanding, or of entertaining any doubt about it.

"For this reason they themselves employ in the Talmud and the Midrashim
phrases similar to those contained in the prophecies, without any
circumlocution. For they knew that there could not be any doubt about
their metaphorical character, or any danger whatever of their being
misunderstood; and that all such expressions would be understood as
figurative [language], employed to guide one's thoughts that there is
an Existant....

"The general principle alluded to above is contained in the following
saying of our Sages, mentioned in Bereshith Rabba (27:1.), "Great was the
power of the Prophets who liken a form to its Former. For it is written,
'And Upon the likeness of the Throne was a likeness with the appearance
of a man '" (Ezek. i. 26)....How pregnant is the expression," Great is
their boldness!" By this they indicated that they themselves found it
very remarkable; for they used that phrase whenever they perceived a
word or act difficult to explain, or apparently objectionable They say,
as it were, How serious was the thing that the prophets were driven to
do, by teaching about the essence of G-d by means of the created things
that He created..."

(Translation based on Friedlander with editing by me based upon the
Pines translation and Kakpach's)

[Email #3 -mi]

micha@aishdas.org posted on: Mar 18, 2005, 1:32 PM
> hlampel@thejnet.com wrote:
>> Because there is no reason to think the Jews at the time of mattan
>> Torah were incapable of accepting the idea of a multi-billion-year age
>> of this earth (or the evolution of life) were it stated in the Torah
>> as true....

> Actually, I have a hard time believing that people who saw more than
> Yechezqeil ben Buzi and then received an even greater revelation during
> the first two diberos (and a very relevent message to our topic) couldn't
> comprehend a non-corporeal G-d.

I think that you are agreeing with me in this p'rat, in which case you
are correct--as can be seen in Rambam's words:

(Moreh Nevuchim I:35)
"Do not think that what we have laid down in the preceding chapters
on the importance, obscurity, and difficulty of the subject, and
its unsuitableness for communication to ordinary persons, includes
the doctrine of God's incorporeality and His exemption from all
affections. This is not the case. For in the same way as all people must
be informed--and even children must be trained in the belief--that God is
One, and that none besides Him is to be worshipped, so must all be taught
by simple authority that God is incorporeal; that there is no similarity
in any way whatsoever between Him and His creatures; that His existence
is not like the existence of His creatures, His life not like that of
any living being, His wisdom not like the wisdom of the wisest of men;
and that the difference between Him and His creatures is not merely
quantitative, but absolute..."

What Rambam considers "advanced" knowledge to be saved for the
intellectually advanced are the more formidable details about Hashem's
attributes and behaviors, and how they connect to the words of the

"... But the question concerning the attributes of God, their
inadmissibility, and the meaning of those attributes which are ascribed
to Him; concerning His creation of that which He created, the method
of His Providence, His knowledge of all that He knows, concerning the
notion of prophecy and how it works in its various degrees: concerning
the meaning of His names which imply the idea of unity, though they are
more than one--all these things are very difficult problems, the true
"Secrets of the Law" the "secrets" mentioned so frequently in the books
of the Prophets, and in the words of our Teachers, the subjects of which
we should only mention the headings of the chapters, as we have already
stated, and only in the presence of a person satisfying the above-named

"...When persons have received this doctrine, and have been trained in
this belief, and are in consequence at a loss to reconcile it with the
writings of the Prophets, the meaning of the latter must be made dear
and explained to them by pointing out the homonymity and the figurative
application of certain terms discussed in this part of the work. Their
belief in the unity of God and in the words of the Prophets will then
be a true and perfect belief.

"Those who are not sufficiently intelligent to comprehend the true
interpretation of these passages in the Bible, or to understand that the
same term admits of two different interpretations, may simply be told
that the scriptural passage is clearly understood by the wise, but that
they should content themselves with knowing that God is incorporeal,
that He is never subject to external influence, as passivity implies a
change, while God is entirely free from all change, that He cannot be
compared to anything besides Himself, that no definition includes Him
together with any other being, that the words of the Prophets are true,
and that difficulties met with may be explained on this principle. This
may suffice for that class of persons, and it is not proper to leave
them in the belief that God is corporeal, or that He has any of the
properties of material objects, just as there is no need to leave them
in the belief that God does not exist, that there are more Gods than one,
or that any other being may be worshipped."

What the Rambam "laid down in the preceding chapters" regarding the
necessity for gradual education is regarding the teaching of metaphysical
matters. Not anything to do with dinosaurs, swamps and amoeba, or even
aeons of Creation time, all ideas allegedly (by some--not you, RMB)
ungraspable by past generations:


"You must know that it is very injurious to begin with this branch of
philosophy, viz., Metaphysics. It is likewise harmful to reveal the
true sense of the similes occurring in prophecies, and interpret the
metaphors which abound in the writings of the Prophets. On the contrary,
it is necessary to initiate the young and to instruct the less intelligent
according to their comprehension:...

"This also is the reason why 'the Torah speaks the language of man,'
as we have explained, for it is the object of the Torah to serve as
a guide for the instruction of the young, of women, and of the common
people; and as all of them are incapable to comprehend the true sense
of the words, tradition was considered sufficient to convey all truths
which were to be established; and as regards ideals, only such remarks
were made as would lead towards a knowledge of their existence, though
not to a comprehension of their true essence...

End of citation.

According to Rambam, "Dibrah Torah k'lashon b'nei adam" means the Torah
speaks in terms that make Hashem's actions easier to grasp. But still
the fact of Hashem's incorporeality was never to be obfuscated. And the
basic concept of Hashem's incorporeality is graspable by children as well
as by adults, and should be taught to children at the earliest stages.

And so, as RMB observes, our 8-year old are not necessarily genuises
for understanding
> ...for years that the RSO doesn't
> look like a person, or have a look at all. I'm sure his understanding is
> not as complete as yours or mine, but he doesn't need "Yad H'" to aid
> his comprehension. Adults in those days weren't stupid and there was
> a lot less qitun hadoros. They could understand a non-corporeal G-d,
> but they had no opportunity to develop the idea of the alternative.

And this makes unnecessary RMB's teirutz:
> My guess is that we're speaking about the
> ability of their children, grandchildren or maybe slightly beyond. Not
> "the time of matan Torah" itself.

Besides, the Mechilta has those saying "Zeh Kayli V'anVayhu" at krias
Yam Suf as those who had been children in Mitzrayim, now recognizing
the same G-d they saw then.

[Email #3 -mi]

Yitzchok Brandriss [ibrandriss@aol.com] posted on: Mar 17, 2005: 
> Re the opponents of the Rambam and whether they took the anthropomorphisms
> in the Torah literally:

> ...Rav Reuven Margolios's biography of Rabbi Avraham ben HaRambam...
> writes that although some
> Maimonideans charged the opponents of the Rambam with belief in hagshama,
> Rabbenu Shlomo min haHar, who was one of the chief opponents (together
> with his talmidim, Rabbenu Yonah and Rav David bar Shaul), declared
> that this belief never crossed their minds.

Y'yashar kochacha. (And I really like your translation of "lo alah al
halev"!) Indeed, Rabbeynu Avraham ben HaRambam in Milchamos Hashem himself
concedes that his opponents strongly denied belief in corporeality,
although he still accused them (apparently from hearsay) of believing in a
physical Throne of Glory. Rav Margolios cites several sefarim which might
shed light on whether even this was true--I wonder if any are available.

Bottom line: As far as can be determined, all recognized rishonim held
that Hashem is incorporeal, and this was not an issue over which Rambam's
sefarim were criticized or burnt.

Zvi Lampel

Go to top.

Date: Sun, 20 Mar 2005 18:58:13 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: R. Elchanan and college

On Wed, Mar 16, 2005 at 11:20:34AM +0200, Danny Schoemann wrote:
: RSW sets down 3 conditions for non-Torah study:
: 	1. No reading Sifrei Minus - heretical literature.
: 	2. No socialising with Goyim
: 	3. Must be parnoso related. Directly.
: So he seems to allow - under certain conditions - going to college,
: but he probably didn't like the idea of it being called *Yeshiva* :-)
: even though it meets his 3 conditions in the best of ways, I assume.

I don't think YU meets the "directly" you included in the third
criterion. At least in my day, YU had a broader spectrum of requirements
outside of one's major than most other colleges. The philosophy (of
the administration, if not the students) is one of producing a well
rounded adult.


Micha Berger             A person lives with himself for seventy years,
micha@aishdas.org        and after it is all over, he still does not
http://www.aishdas.org   know himself.
Fax: (270) 514-1507                            - Rav Yisrael Salanter

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Date: Sun, 20 Mar 2005 20:03:36 -0500
From: "Cantor Wolberg" <cantorwolberg@cox.net>
Date: Sun, 20 Mar 2005 20:03:36 -0500

> The issur of dying hair is that of beged ishah (Yoreh Deah 182:6) and
> beged ishah is permitted on Purim if done in the spirit of holiday joy
> (Orach Chaim 696:8).

What if you have no hair?


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Date: Mon, 21 Mar 2005 04:27:57 GMT
From: "kennethgmiller@juno.com" <kennethgmiller@juno.com>
Re: men dying hair

R' Harry Maryles wrote:
> The Rama (AC: at the end of 696) writes men who wears women's clothing
> on Purim are permitted to do so as it done for purposes of Simcha. But
> the Bach argues and Assurs it even on Purim or any other time such as
> Simchas Chasan V'Kallah. So as to R. Saul Mashbaum's original Kasha I
> would say that clearly the issue of dying his beard on Purim is tied to
> the Issur of Lo Yilbash Gever Simlas Isha. If one Paskins like the Rama
> than it appears that it would be permitted. If one Paskins like the Bach,
> then it would appear that it is Assur.

Let's be careful with the language. I suggest the following phrasing: If
one Paskins like the Rama than it appears that it would be permitted, but
only if done for purposes of Simcha. If one Paskins like the Bach, then
it would appear that it is Assur, even if done for purposes of Simcha.

The next step is to consider the details of the case to which this
halacha will be applied.

Specifically, in Areivim Digest 14:248, R' Saul Mashbaum wrote:
> I'm considering coloring my beard black this Purim. Chadesh yameinu
> k'kedem.

Because of his use of the words <<< Chadesh yameinu k'kedem >>>,
I wondered whether this dying is done for purposes of Simcha. For
example, if his plan is to have a Purim costume, modeled after a specific
individual who has a black beard, then this Rama/Bach machlokes will be
very relevant. But if the intent is simply to look as he did years ago,
this is a more private simcha, and I don't know if even the Rama would
sanction it.

As I wrote R' Saul offline, the question of what his exact intention was,
is a question for him and/or his posek, and we of Avodah should steer
clear of it. OTOH, the question of how much simcha is needed to make
use of the Rama's heter is a valid topic of public discussion.

Akiva Miller

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Date: Mon, 21 Mar 2005 10:22:36 +0200
From: Eli Turkel <eliturkel@gmail.com>
psak in haskafa

Micha writes
>> That does not make them toim.

> In the eyes of the one who believes the other tzad of a historical
> matter, their tzad is in error, a ta'us. Therefore they are to'im.

Let me qualify my position. Certainly many individual rabbanim have issued
their opinions in areas of haskafa. Certainly the most famous being the
Maimonean controversy followed by the Chassidic/migtagnic controversy
and on a lower level the arguments about Musar. My point is that in all
these areas there is no equivalent to the Shulchan Arukh that binds all
Jews. This is because the gemara and later the SA were accepted by the
entire Jewish people.

Basically the upshot of the haskafa controversies was that each side went
there own way. In the Rambam conroversy both Ramban and Rashba attempted
compromises which were not accepted by the two sides. In more modern days
there were attempts to ban the learning of secular subjects especially in
EY. Again, in practice this was accepted by the talmidim of these rabbis
a nd not by others. Just as I have a university degree against the psak
of some gedolim so also I have different opinions about maaseh bereshit.
Since these issues are not discussed in SA I have a legitimate right to
follow my rabbis .

As to "toim" this has been applied to every area of halacha. We have all
the expressions that women who wear sheitels will go to "gehinom". I was
in a deasha were a known rabbi said that anyone in Bnei Brak who lights
Chanukah candles downstairs of the apartment beginning (as is the psak
of CI) is a "toeh" and has not kept the mitzvah of candle lighting in
his life and will be punished for it in Heaven.

However, in spite of these statements I believe in Elu V'elu which implies
that if one listens to the psak of a major rabbi then it will be accepted
in Heaven. As the gemara says the community of R. Eliezer followed his
psak even though we do not pasken that way. There is a major discussion
whether Elu v'elu implies several possible "truths" or is just a practical
guide to halacha. Either way it says that G-d will not judge us by the
ultimate truth but by what is accepted by a significant portion of Jewry.

This applies to both historical arguments (length of Bayit Sheni,
ktav Ashurit/Ivri, Pilagesh Be-givah etc.) as well as to science vs
Torah issues as well as to philosophy/Kabbalah issues and of course
"straight" halacha.

In summary as we have brought some rabbis (eg RMF, RSZA, RYBS) take a more
inclusive view and do not insist that everyone follow their individual
opinions and piskei halacha. They recognize that there is a range of
viewpoints. Other poskim label everyone to doesn't follow their psak as a

Eli Turkel

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Date: Sun, 20 Mar 2005 20:21:56 -0500
From: Gil Student <gil.student@gmail.com>
Re: Is Yahadus a "religion"?

>According to the chassidish fork, Yahadus *is about the Human-G-d
>connection. Even mitzvos bein adam lachaveiro are about deveiqus.
>Would chassidisher derakhim qualify as "religion"?

The point of the catchy title is that religion is generally assumed
to be about Human-God connection. However, R. Feldman is arguing that
Judaism is also about the Human-Human connection, which might imply that
Judaism is not just a religion, or at least not as the term is normally

>The Bartenura has a much more ready answer, I'm surprised 
>the Bartenura himself didn't give it. Leshitaso, the name of the 
>mesechtah comes from avos as in "avos melakhah"; it's not 
>Chapters of Our Forefathers, but Chapters of Categories / 
>Principles. In which case, the origin of the mesorah is on topic.

The Bartenura on Avos is largely a kitzur-Rashbatz, which explains
why the Bartenura does not answer le-shitaso. He was just summarizing
the Rashbatz.

Gil Student,          Yashar Books
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