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Volume 15 : Number 049

Thursday, July 14 2005

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Wed, 13 Jul 2005 05:26:24 -0700 (PDT)
From: Gil Student <simcha365@hotmail.com>
[Hirhurim - Musings] Realism and Cynicism

The Summer 2004 issue of Tradition is out and it is a Festschrift for
R. Emanuel Feldman. R. J. David Bleich has an article in which he puts
forth a proposal, based on a suggestion of R. Moshe Sofer (the Hasam
Sofer), that will prevent almost all instances of a father secretly
marrying off his daughter and refusing to reveal the name of the groom. A
few years ago, this seemed like an ominous, new way to coerce a mother
into agreeing to a divorce under extremely unfavorable terms. While the
practice has not been repeated, even one new case is too many.

R. Bleich's proposal requires a communal ban against:

    1) any person who accepts an object of value in order to effect a
    marriage with his minor daughter; 2) anyone who presents an object
    of value to a father for that purpose; 3) anyone who encourages or
    counsels such an act; 4) as well as against anyone who serves or
    agrees to serve as a witness to such an act.

But R. Bleich is no fool. He is a realist, or as some like to call a
realist -- a cynic. He concludes:

    This writer knows full well that this proposal for obviating the
    possibility of kiddushei ketanah will be dismissed as utopian. It
    is indeed utopian in nature. Since the Jewish community lacks a
    central authority such a proposal cannot be implemented unless the
    required communal edict is promulgated on a local level in each and
    every community. Only in that manner could a disgruntled husband be
    prevented from achieving his desire by arranging such a marriage in
    a locale in which the practice has not been banned. Implementation
    of the proposal is within the realm of halakhic possibility but
    would require the cooperative efforts of all segments within each
    community. Given the present splintered nature of the Jewish community
    even such ad hoc cooperation may be unachievable. Those reflections
    merely underscore the state of halakhic as well as social impotence
    that exists simply because we lack prescience and fortitude in
    instituting a kehillah system similar to that which existed in
    virtually every city and hamlet in the Europe of days gone by. As a
    result we are condemned to live with many forms of social malaise,
    not because the problems are intractable, but because we refuse to
    establish the mechanism by which they might be ameliorated.


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Date: Wed, 13 Jul 2005 06:30:47 -0700 (PDT)
From: "Rabbi Yaakov Feldman" <YFel912928@aol.com>
Der Alter: Alei Shur (1:4)

"G-d granted us a (special) skill with which to create human civilization:
the faculty of speech. It's likewise true that we not only use speech to
create human civilization, but that our very relationship to the Creator
is built on it. For regardless of whether G-d 'speaks' to us or we speak
to Him, at bottom it's all through the faculty of speech."

posted by Rabbi Yaakov Feldman at 8:43 AM

"(Despite the importance of speech,) we need to learn how to be silent
(at times), for silence is a considerable skill to have, and your having
it especially indicates that you're a thinking person."

"Man is essentially solitary, and it's his solitude that helps his
personal qualities to develop. But when he eventually stops being alone
and starts to associate with and draw close to the world around him,
it's his faculty of speech that especially helps prepare him (for that)."

"The first thing you have to do to be a true Torah scholar is to be
careful about your faculty of speech... (and to make sure that) your
words express what's in your heart just so."

posted by Rabbi Yaakov Feldman at 9:32 AM

"The Jewish Nation is essentially different from the other nations of
the world when it comes to its faculty of speech as well... (in that)
the language of Torah is the Holy Tongue. For as Rambam explains, there
are no distinct words for intercourse or for the organs of procreation
(in it, only euphemisms and allusions), and as Ramban explain (it's
holy because) it's the language through which G-d spoke to Adam,
Moses, and all the other prophets. (At bottom, though, there's no real
difference between the two opinions, since) Rambam's explanation is
pertinent to the Revealed World (i.e., is from a worldly perspective)
and Ramban's explanation is pertinent to the Hidden World (i.e., is
from an otherworldly perspective). (Hence we see that) the Holy Tongue
is infinitely holy and lofty both overtly and covertly."

posted by Rabbi Yaakov Feldman at 9:08 AM

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Date: Wed, 13 Jul 2005 13:15:27 +0100
From: Chana Luntz <Heather_Luntz@onetel.com>
re: [Hirhurim - Musings] Shaking Hands With Women

RAM writes:
> In other words #1: We may be misunderstanding the cause-and-effect
> relationship of what's going on here. We presume that contact is assur
> in order to prevent hana'ah. But perhaps it is also assur in order to
> prevent becoming desensitized.

> In other words #2: We have become desensitized, and are using this as a
> heter to allow contact. This could just be another tactic of the yetzer
> hara. What we ought to do is REsensitize ourselves by avoiding even casual
> "cold fish" contact.

I too have heard this view, but I don't think it works.

Why? Because the consequence of a such a view is that Chazal were on
a lower madraga than we are!

After all, there are numbers of references in the gemora to Chazal doing
things that indicated that they were desensitised eg:

Kesuvos 17a: Rav Acha used to take the Kala on his shoulders and dance.
The question is asked, can we do similarly? answer if she is like a log
to you yes, otherwise no.

But according to the logic above, Rav Acha is desensitised and on a lower
level than all of those who do not regard her like a log and should rather
refrain from dancing with her and train himself to be more sensitised.

And my recollection (although I haven't had a chance to do a trawl through
Shas to check) is that those who mention some sort of desensitisation
of this nature include Rav Hisda and Rav Yochanan.

If Gil is desensitised, it would seem he is in rather good company!.


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Date: Wed, 13 Jul 2005 18:25:23 +0300 (IDT)
From: Efraim Yawitz <fyawitz@actcom.co.il>
Re: RAF letter

On Wed, 13 Jul 2005, Harry Maryles wrote:
> I totally agree with your asessment but... just to be devil's advocate,
> those who say Chazal were infallible do not mean that they know what
> we know today. What they mean is that everything recorded in Shas on
> every subject is true and that it is based on the belief that Chazal
> did not record their opinions, or their understandings of the science
> of the day. They only recorded the received information ...the Mesorah
> going all the way back to Mamid Har Sinai which includes information
> on every subject discussed in Shas. This, they hold is irrefutable by
> modern science. They therefore hold that science is either wrong, or
> that we do not have a proper understnding of the Gemarah

I thought about this and I have the impression that the advocates of
infallibility don't really have a well thought out position. To take
one of Rav Feldman's examples, do they believe that Hazal had a specific
mesora about maternal transmission of the trait of hemophilia? This is
not really a fact about a specific halacha, but just a useful piece of
information relating to the general subject of pikuach nefesh, and for
complete competence in that subject one needs a comprehensive knowledge
of medicine (I suppose beyond even what we have today). Even for the
particular case of bris milah, there are numerous other conditions which
make it necessary to put off the bris, such as jaundice, prematurity, etc.
Most of the examples of scientific statements in the Gemara which relate
to halacha are like this, and the proponent of infallibility would seem
to be obligated to believe that Hazal had a full system of scientific
thought, rather than just isolated facts which in any case are rather
useless on their own. Of course, I'm just second-guessing what 'they'
think, and my real feeling is that there isn't any real 'they' who is
doing any serious thinking about the subject, and that's the central
problem, isn't it?

I'm eager to hear reactions to my point about the Gemara on hair growth
and any similar examples.

BTW, since Rav Herzog is well-known as one who held that we are not
bound to the science of Hazal, it is worth noting that Rav Elyashiv,
although perhaps not to be considered a talmid of Rav Herzog, was close
with him, and Rav Herzog got him his job as a dayyan for the Rabbanut.
My source for this information? Rav Aharon Feldman, former Rosh Yeshiva
of Ohr Somayach in Yerushalayim Ir ha-Kodesh, who seems to have been
demoted to a position in chutz la-aretz.

Kol Tuv,

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Date: Wed, 13 Jul 2005 16:31:15 GMT
From: "kennethgmiller@juno.com" <kennethgmiller@juno.com>
re: RAF letter (Torah and science)

R' Efraim Yawitz wrote <<< ...The truth is, those of us who are convinced
that Hazal did not have anything like modern scientific knowledge think
this way because it is obvious to us from the Gemara itself that Hazal
did not have anything like modern scientific knowledge. The statements
of Rav Avraham ben ha-Rambam and others only serve to make this obvious
fact less problematic for us, but it would be just as true even if no
Rishon said it. ... >>>

I totally agree.

He continues: <<< Here is one example ... The Gemara in Nazir 39a-b
discusses the question of whether hair grows from the roots or from the
ends, and brings various proofs to this question, finally deciding the
issue that the hair grows from the roots based on the fact that people
who dye their beards have undyed hair growing in at the roots. As I said,
this is a quite correct conclusion based on valid reasoning, but what
does it tell us about the level of Hazal's knowledge of physiology? >>>

Not a good example. It admits that this particular detail of biology was
not received as part of Revelation. Big deal. No one ever claimed that ALL
of biology was included in Revelation, only that some particular details
were included, such as certain injuries which cause an animal to be a
treifah, or whether lice may be killed on Shabbos. If modern science
has different views on treifos or lice, there are many approaches to
resolving that conflict, such as any of the understandings of Nishtaneh
HaTeva, as Rav Feldman explained.

OTOH, if Chazal's Revealed knowledge happens to match what Chazal said,
that is also not a big deal to me, whereas Rav Feldman does consider it
a big deal:

(In his letter, Rav Feldman wrote:) <<< How did they know that
hemophilia is transmitted by the mothers DNA, a fact discovered
relatively recently? How did they know that a drop exudes from the
brain and develops into semen without having known that the pituitary
gland, located at the base of the brain, emits a hormone which controls
the production of semen. None of this could have been discovered by
experimentation Either they had a tradition directly teaching them these
facts, or they knew them by applying principles which were part of the
Oral Torah regarding the inner workings of the world. >>>

These arguments are meaningless to me. What would have happened if
scientists felt that hemophilia is transmitted through the father, or if
at some future point the scientific view is revised to say that hemophilia
is transmitted through the father? In such a case, Rav Feldman can very
easily shrug his shoulders and say "Nishtaneh HaTeva. Chazal were correct:
It was transmitted through the mother then, but through the father
now." So if it happens to match nowadays, it carries no weight in my eyes.

I'm not sure, but I think my point is that Nishtaneh HaTeva is a very
useful tool -- a magic wand, or silver bullet of sorts -- with which
all conflicts between science and Chazal can be very neatly resolved.

I have a feeling that some posters will object to the above paragraph. It
smeels too much like the "G-d created the world in an already-completed
state" idea that R' Harry and others object to so strenuously. So be
it. Let the debate begin.

Akiva Miller

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Date: Wed, 13 Jul 2005 12:05:53 -0400
From: Eli Turkel <eliturkel@gmail.com>
yeridat hadorot

> But that brings up a question that I have sought for years and never
> been given an answer to. What is "Yeridas HaDoros"? Can anyone define
> it? What were they greater in? Intelligence? Spirituality? Such a huge
> emphasis is put upon this concept yet I've never found anyone that
> could put their finger upon what exactly yerida entails. Was the average
> Jew really so much different and greater than we are? What was greater
> about them? If so, how did that parallel throughout the world? Were the
> non-Jews also greater than now? What about rashayim? Were they greater
> than us now and really they were only rashayim on their madrega? Or was
> their rishus magnified to be more evil than rashayim now? There needs
> to be a balance if our chachamim were greater in some way, then that
> had to echo throughout the beriyah.

The question asked is actually quite controversial. At one extreme I
have heard from R. Aharon Soloveitchik and others that yeridot hadorot is
simply an expression for our distance from Sinai. As knowledge gets lost
through the years so those closer to Matan Torah had a better tradition
than those further away.

One of the strangest application of yerodat hadorot is the Nodah
BeYehudah. Given his contradiction between 2 sets of shiurim he was
left with 2 possibilities. Either our amah is bigger or our egg is
smaller. He throws out the possibility that we are physically based on
yeriday hodorot! i.e. how could be the average man in his generation be
bigger/taller than the average person in the days of chazal.

Most people however disagree and explain yeridat hodorot as only applying
to Jewish gedolim. However, this leads to some strange consequences. It
implies that a Tanna is much smarter than we are but that Greek scholars
are not smarter than contemporary scientists. In that case the debate
between R. Yehoshua and the Greek philosophers was not an argument of
relative equals which is not the feeling one gets from the gemara. There
R. yehoshua wins but it is not trivial.

By the way I have been told that in the early church there was in fact a
similar concept that they were iferior to the Greek philosophers because
of yeridat hodorot. In terms of a rasha the gemara assumes that the evil
kings from the Judean kingdom were also great people as opposed to the
wicked from their own generation.

Eli Turkel

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Date: Wed, 13 Jul 2005 18:20:20 GMT
From: "kennethgmiller@juno.com" <kennethgmiller@juno.com>
Re: tinok shenishba

R' Josh Backon wrote <<< The svara of the Chazon Ish ... is confusing. How
does he explain ... The dozens of executions by batei din in the past
1000 years of mosrim and other low life ... >>>

I don't know what he means by "other low life", but AIUI this Chazon Ish
(ie, definition of Tinok SheNishba) wouldn't affect mosrim at all. A moser
is not "executed" as punishment. Rather, we defend ourselves from him, and
if the only way to do so is by killing him, then we do so, and his status
- whether rasha or tinok shenishba or whatever - is totally irrelevant.

Or am I missing something?

Akiva Miller

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Date: Wed, 13 Jul 2005 22:29:26 +0200
From: saul mashbaum <smash52@netvision.net.il>
Re:[YGB] Daf Halachah - Shabbos 73b

RYGB wrote:
>Rav Pappa said: A person who threw a clump [of dirt] at a date-palm,
>and dates fell, is liable for two [sin-offerings], one for plucking
>and one for extracting.  Rav Ashi said: This is not the normal manner of
>plucking and this is not the normal manner of extracting. [Hence, he is
>not in violation of these melachos, and does not bring any sin offerings.]

The MinchatChinuch, in Musach HaShabbat, notes that the Rambam does
not mention Rav Ashi's din. See Yad Shabbat 8;3.

Mitzva l'yashev.

>Tosafos Chaim suggests that it is only on Shabbos, and even on Yom
>Kippur that falls on Shabbos that one may not smell the fruit attached
>to the ground lest he come to pluck it (even on Yom Kippur, since it is
>also Shabbos, we are afraid that he may forget it is also Yom Kippur,
>and come to pluck the fruit). However, on a Yom Kippur that falls on a
>weekday one is permitted to smell the fruit, for we assume he will remain
>aware of the prohibition to eat and not come to pluck the fruit.

I do not understand this at all. What is the svara that one is more
likely to forget YK if it is Shabbat than a weekday?  If we assume one
will remember the prohibition to eat on a weekday YK, why don't we
assume this on a Shabbat YK?

"we are afraid that he may forget it is also Yom Kippur" IMHO tzarich
lomar "we are afraid he may also forget it is Yom Kippur". Even with
this correction, the statment within the parenthesis is worded poorly,
and very difficult to understand.

Saul Mashbaum

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Date: Wed, 13 Jul 2005 17:37:07 +0200 (CEST)
From: phminden@arcor.de
copyright on editions

(on a topic on Areivim)

Have there been psokem concerning the copyright of editions rather than
regular original texts?

Example: You're publishing your translation or commentary on the Chumesh
and want to include the Hebrew text. The Toure is not copyrighted,
but you want to use the best text available and so you take one of the
newer edition, say R' Breuer's shlit"e. You don't reprint any foreword,
comments etc., just the text.

It's difficult to think of a halachic reason forbidding you to use the
most correct text of the Toure. (My question is about haloche, not that
it's always good to ask politely.)


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Date: Wed, 13 Jul 2005 11:14:33 -0600
From: "Brent Sims" <brent@webokay.net>
Re: The halachos of "borrowing" wireless access

I am way out of my league here so I'm not going to join in on the argument
but I thought the following may be pertinent:
> A Florida man was arrested and charged with authorized use of someone
> else's network under a Florida State law prohibits accessing a computer
> or network knowingly, willfully and without authorization.


Kol Tuv,

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Date: Wed, 13 Jul 2005 19:23:26 -0400
From: "Yosef Gavriel & Shoshanah M. Bechhofer" <ygb@aishdas.org>
Re: [YGB] Daf Halachah - Shabbos 73b

saul mashbaum wrote:
>>Tosafos Chaim suggests that it is only on Shabbos, and even on Yom
>>Kippur that falls on Shabbos that one may not smell the fruit attached
>>to the ground lest he come to pluck it (even on Yom Kippur, since it is
>>also Shabbos, we are afraid that he may forget it is also Yom Kippur,
>>and come to pluck the fruit). However, on a Yom Kippur that falls on a
>>weekday one is permitted to smell the fruit, for we assume he will remain
>>aware of the prohibition to eat and not come to pluck the fruit.

>  I do not understand this at all. What is the svara that one is more 
> likely to forget YK if it is Shabbat than a weekday?  If we assume one 
> will remember the prohibition to eat on a weekday YK, why don't we 
> assume this on a Shabbat YK?  

Try this:

/Tosafos Chaim/ suggests that it is only on Shabbos that one may not 
smell the fruit attached to the ground lest he come to pluck it. Even if 
Yom Kippur coincides with Shabbos he may not smell the fruit, as we are 
afraid that he may forget that it is also Yom Kippur, and come to pluck 
the fruit to eat it. However, when Yom Kippur falls on a weekday one is 
permitted to smell the fruit, for we assume he will remain aware of the 
prohibition to eat and not come to pluck the fruit.

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Date: Wed, 13 Jul 2005 20:51:12 -0700 (PDT)
From: YGB <rygb@aishdas.org>
[YGB] Daf Halachah - Shabbos 74b

Tying the Belt of a Sefer Torah

!-a ש-a ף ע" ע"
קשר -aר:
קשר ש  ?... ר ר -a ר ע ש
צ  קשר -aר:
רש" " קשר -aר - ש רש-a-a עש-a קשר
קשר,  קשר ק...

Where was there tying in the Mishkan?... Rava, and some say Ra Ilai said,
for the hunters of the chilazon tied and untied...

Rashi: For all nets are made of knots upon knots, and they are permanent

Since the prohibition of tying on Shabbos is only violated by tying
a permanent knot, Rema^1 permits the asingle knota with which shoes
are customarily tied, as it is meant to be temporary. Mishnah Berurah2
therefore rules that if it is made to last, such as a knot made around
a lulav, then even a single knot, may not be tied on Shabbos. The
commentaries on the Shulchan Aruch3 define amade to lasta as a knot that
is intended to last more than a full day.

Accordingly, Minchas Shabbos (80:155) writes that one must take care not
to tie the belt around the Sefer Torah after reading the Torah at Minchah
on Shabbos afternoon - even with a single knot - since the knot will
remain in place for more than a full day, until the next Torah reading,
Monday morning. Ketzos HaShulchan4 adds that if this is the case, it is
also forbidden to tie a single knot around the Sefer Torah on Thursday
morning - because any knot one may not tie on Shabbos, one also may not
untie on Shabbos - and since this knot has been in place for more than
a full day, it may not be untied for the Torah reading on Shabbos.

Ketzos HaShulchan does attempt to find a justification for those who
are not meticuluos in this area. He suggests that perhaps because this
tying is a tying for the purpose of a mitzvah, for the honor (and also
for the preservation) of the Sefer Torah, it falls into the category of a
temporary knot LaTzoreh Mitzvah, that the Shulchan Aruch earlier permitted
(however, Mishnah Berurah does not accept the leniency.5 Nimukei Orach
Chaim adds another justification of the leniency, based on Taz ( !"'ק
' ) who permits tying knots in shoes even if the knot remains intact
for much longer than a full day, because occasionally they are untied
earlier, such as when they become muddy. Similarly, although the minyan
that has just read the Torah will not open it again until the next time
they must read it several days hence, another minyan may need to read
from it, or a sofer may come to open it to check it before a full day
elapses. Thus, the knot is not definitely permanent, and its tying and
untying may be permitted.6


ר" ר  ! ש" !עף ':  פ  עש קשר


ש  רר ! ש" !"ק ":    -aר - -a
ר     -aר קשר     ק שעש
-aר   ש ע" ע  ע" קשר ע    קר
עש     ק ע     צ 
!ר עש-a קשר   ע   רש עש-a ש-a
ע -a  ע"   ש  :


ע ר  ש !"ק ".


 ש !' ק" !"ק '.


ש"ע ש !עף ': צר צ  שקשר  
שער -aר -aר קשר קשר ש  ש ק: 
ע ש  רר !"ק ": ש  ש ק -   פ
 עש . -a !פר -a ר ש שע-aק ש"ע
-aר ק צ  רק ע-a ר" ר  רש"
-a!פ-a ר ר ש צ קשר !ר !ר פ
ק צ ע"ש:


 עש ע ש"-a צץ ער " !' " ש  ק
שר-a ש-a -a פ" !עף  " ש  ר.
שר קש ר ק-a ר   ש-aש ר
ש"צ קשר.

Posted by YGB to YGB at 7/13/2005 11:48:00 PM

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Date: Thu, 14 Jul 2005 00:14:53 +0200
From: Daniel Eidensohn <yadmoshe@012.net.il>
Re: RAF letter

Efraim Yawitz wrote:
>BTW, since Rav Herzog is well-known as one who held that we are not
>bound to the science of Hazal,

This is not true. Look at Heichel Yitzchok OH #29 concerning killing
germs and lice on Shabbos: "...We see that it is permitted to kill lice
on Shabbos since they do not reproduce sexually as we see in Shabbos
107b but rather they are produced by sweat. Thus they are not considered
creatures that are prohibited to kill...However modern science according
to my understanding does not acknowledge the validity of spontaneous
generation. We in contrast concerning halacha have only the words of
Chazal. Accordingly it is definitely permitted to kill germs on Shabbos
even if they are not harmful. Especially since even science admits that
they do not reproduce sexually in the normal manner.

Daniel Eidensohn

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Date: Wed, 13 Jul 2005 18:15:03 -0700 (PDT)
From: YGB <rygb@aishdas.org>
[YGB] Interesting Question, My Question in Response

Hi Rebbe, long time no speak. I basically finished the law review article
that I had asked you some questions about and I will send it to you
shortly. On a different subject, I was wondering what you think about
whether a person would have the din of a masis (an idoltrious missionary)
if he or she is masis through a sign or website (a ksivah) as opposed to
an amirah (speech). The torah says the masis will say it and the mishnaic
example is saying, but I can't seem to find anyone hwo expounds on it
to see whether other types of incitful behaviour is included, thanks.

A din of meisis requires solicitation, and writing is at best
argumentation, no?

Posted by YGB to YGB at 7/13/2005 09:14:00 PM

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Date: Thu, 14 Jul 2005 08:30:05 -0400
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
[Aspaqlaria] The Psychological Model of Orchos Tzaddiqim

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

The Psychological Model of Orchos Tzaddiqim

The following is culled from the introduction to Orchos Tzaddiqim. Orchos
Tzaddiqim, was written anonymously some time between 1440 and 1500 CE. It
was written in Yiddish, but the earliest copies still existing are Hebrew
translations. The original title was "Seifer haMiddos". The edition I'm
using is a critical reconstruction by Rabbi Gavriel Zaloshinsky, who based
his Hebrew on that used by earlier works upon which the author built.

Orechos Tzaddiqim (OTz) starts the process speaking of our senses. Our
heart follows our senses. We wear tzitzis so that we will not "wander
after our hearts and after our eyes, which we are wont to stray
after." "The eye sees, and the heart wants." Therefore, we must use our
senses wisely.

What does it mean to use our senses wisely? Don't we simply
see what's out there -- what's the proactive element? I could
think of two possibilities, both true. First, and most simply,
we select our environments. If some temptation poses a threat
that we are not ready to handle, we can simply avoid it. Second,
there is a huge step between sensation and perception (see
<http://www.aishdas.org/asp/2005/01/free-will-and-environment.shtml>). To
a large extent, we choose what we see. What we carry with us and shapes
us is not merely the raw physical sensation, but the order and context we
impose on them. (An interesting qabbalah would be to see if you can find
each day a decision that you felt was compelled by what you experienced,
and see how much of that was experience rather than the interpretation
of the experience.)

Dei'os are created in five different ways. (1) Some are innate to us,
there since birth -- until we elect to change them. (2) Others may not
be innate, but the propensity to get them is. A person could not be born
vain, but born with everything in place for vanity to come easily to
them. (3) Some are picked up from our peers. (4) We can also reason our
way into accepting a dei'ah as proper. And, as a variation of the last,
(5) some are learned from books, seem to make sense, and accepted.

The final four, the acquiring of new middos comes from our senses. Our
interactions with our peers. How we perceive the ideas of others, and
the ideas from which we reach our conclusions.

Dei'os, though, are not a complete description. There is not only the
question of which attributes to have, but also in which proportions to
have them. Interestingly, at this point, R' Zaloshinsky's Hebrew shifts
from speaking of dei'os to middos. The word "middah" literally means
measure. OTz consistently gives examples of measuring a dei'ah in two
different directions: frequency and intensity. Someone can be egotistical
because they frequently lord over others. Someone else may not be haughty
more often than most, but when he does, he's overwhelming about it.

A healthy person is like a stew. To make a good stew you need to put in
a lot of meat, a little salt, and various amounts of other ingredients.

To know how much of each ingredient requires chokhmah, wisdom, and yir'as
Shamayim -- the awareness of the greatness and significance of the One
in heaven, and therefore of our mission. Our middos are like pearls,
and yir'as Shamayim, the strand which holds them together. Trying to
proceed without yir'ah is like trying to go into banking without knowing
which coin is worth more, which less, and which the king decommissioned
altogether. One may be able to change one's middos, but one can't identify
which ones need changing. Keeping the fact that we were created for a
particular goal and to be a particular kind of person in mind gives us a
scale by which we can assess various middos and their value to the whole.

It's interesting to contrast this with the Rambam's notion in Hilchos
Dei'os of the shevil hazahav (the Golden Mean). The Rambam describes
dei'os as the ends of a spectrum, and the Chakhom (which seems to
be only one of two ideals that he draws for us) chooses the middle
between them. In OTz, each middah is described as having more than
one dimension, therefore there is no one middle to seek. In addition,
one isn't recommended to seek the middle in all things -- some middos
are the "salt", others the "meat". Anger has its place, but since that
place is so much smaller than patience and compassion, it can be labeled
in general a middah ra'ah, a bad trait. Back to the OTz's introduction...

The next element one needs is sevunah, the ability to apply that
wisdom. The chokham without sevunah is like a paraplegic; he might be
able to see his goal, but isn't equipped to reach it.

So the progression to picking up a healthy middah is: proper use of the
senses to develop a dei'ah, and chokhmah and yir'as Shamayim to know
the right measure for that dei'ah, and then the sevunah to be able to
shape the de'iah to the desired middah.

Last is the role of hergeil, habit. Someone can be ensnared by a habit
to the point where they can't change a middah. There are times when
this is constructive; we can use hergeil to build and cement appropriate
middos. At times it's destructive, so that even the chokham can't reach
his goal.

Animals are born with instincts. They therefore are born more able than
we are, and stand and walk at much younger ages (in some animals, right
after birth), eat on their own far younger, etc... People are born as
blank slates. This means we're born weaker. However, it also means we
have the ability to write upon that slate our own personalities.

It is like a silver platter. New, it's all shiny. Bury it for a while and
dig it up, and it will require repeated polishing. Once we start setting
who we are, it's far harder to change -- the habit both blinds the chokham
from the dangers and poses a bigger problem for tevunah to surmount.

Hergeil is not a bad thing. Quite the reverse, it's our ability to
"write on the slate" that makes us independent and individual beings.

Go to top.

Date: Wed, 13 Jul 2005 18:27:36 -0700 (PDT)
From: Chaim Baker <chaimbaker@yahoo.com>
Evolution - submitted for your consideration

I haven't worked out all the angles yet but I wanted to run this by the
group and see what comes of it.

Rabbi Shimon Schwab zt"zl has a very interesting essay about the Age
of the Universe in his book, Selected Writings. He speaks about two
clocks, two passings of time. One lasts exactly 6 days (the Sheshes Y'mai
Beraishis) and the other, during that same time period, lasting as much
as 50 billion years. In this way, he tries to reconcile the Torah's Age
of the Universe with the scientfic derived age.

I double-checked last week that he says that these two clocks synced up
at exactly the end of the sixth day, when Shabbos began, and they have
been running in total sync since and will forever more.

Here's where we get to my question. We know that there s a g'marah that
describes the Creation of Adam and his life during that sixth day of
Creation. The G'marah lists activities of the final 6 hours of that day,
when Hashem began collecting the clay to make Adam, when he blew the
breath of Life into him, when he sinned, was judged, and was expelled,
etc. Now, if, as Rabbi Schwab suggests, the 6 days can also be measured
in billions of years, these last 6 hours can also be measured in millions
or hundreds of millions of years. Therefore, according to that clock,
Adam - Man - was somehow created "millions of years" before that first
Shabbos began. Perhaps, this is why we find fossils of humankind that are
'millions' of years old.

As I said, I haven't worked out minute details of this theory but I
wanted to sound it off the group and seek your opinions, refinements,
or refutations.


Go to top.


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