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Volume 16 : Number 070

Wednesday, December 21 2005

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Wed, 21 Dec 2005 09:19:20 +0200
From: Daniel Eidensohn <yadmoshe@012.net.il>
Re: Rav Shmuel Kaminetsky and Length of Maaseh Breshis

Samuel Svarc wrote:
>Bearing the above in mind I think I can answer your original question:
>"Rav Shmuel Kaminetsky has categorically stated... While it is obvious
>that others disagree. - where are the sources that one is required to
>accept the belief in a younger than 6000 year old universe? ...[W]hy is
>this issue causing so much agitation?"
>Even those who might have been told of this statement of RSK, i.e.
>people who read Avodah, might legitimately wonder if their hearing the
>statement as it was said....
>     People are inclined to doubt the veracity of such things, especially
>when there are unequivocal authenticated statements to contrary from
>Gedolie Yisroel who are TC m'fulagim.

You are right of courrse. Simple solution would be for others to ask Rav 
Kaminetsky the same question - "Is it required to believe that the world 
is less than 6000 years old?"

Daniel Eidensohn

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Date: Wed, 21 Dec 2005 11:08:29 -0500
From: "Zvi Lampel" <hlampel@thejnet.com>
Re: Length of Maaseh Breshis has no impact on halacha

: According to the Ramban, as far as what we must
: believe is concerned, we don't need all the details in Braishis, only
: the fact stated in the Asseress HaDibros that the world was created IN
: SIX DAYS....

R. Micha Berger (Wed, 14 Dec 2005): 
> Six yamim. And I've already argued that "yom" has other literal
> definitions.

I know that's your position, I know. But I was responding to someone
else who I did not suspect had your take on the Ramban or your unique
methodology in interpreting rishonim's words.

:... R. Saadia Gaon... says that a professed navi
: who claims that Hashem took ONE YEAR, rather than six days, to create
: the world, is a navi shekker)...

> But that was argued as being about the navi sheqer's sevarah, not the
> maskanah.

I don't have a clue what you mean. Perhaps the erroneous citation I gave
led you to this comment. Rather than Emunos V'Dei'os 3:6, my source was
3:8. And the subject is nothing but how to establish the authenticity of
a person claiming to be a prophet. And he says that if a prophet says
something that cannot be ("mah sheh-lo yi'ta'chein" -- KPH) such as
"if he would say my G-d commanded you to commit z'nus [Ibn Tibbon has:
adultery -- ZL] and to steal, or inform you that he will bring a [global]
flood of water, or inform you that He created the Heavens and the Earth in
the duration ("meshech" -- KPH) of a year, literally -- we should not seek
a miracle from him [to prove he is a true prophet], since he called us
to something which is not possible, neither through seichel nor mesorah."

What can be plainer? And also note that the only allegorizing RSG
entertains regarding the duration of Creation would be on the /prophet's/
part, to allegorize his statement about it taking a year rather than six
days. (And needless to say, if, according to RSG, six creation days can
mean six epochs or six pairs of months, why would he consdier this poor
man a navi shekker?)

> And who said the spheres moved at the same speed, or even at a constant
> speed? Perhaps yom = one revolution, but it was revolving REALLY slowly?

Do you really think that's what R. Josh meant, not to mention the
Rambam, who is explaining how the days were measured before the sun was
positioned? If the Rambam had any notion that the day's length in hours
was not the way it is now, don't you think he would have mentioned this
tidbit of information?

> We've been through this before...

Yes, and you've already agreed that academia's latest version of the
world's development, in terms of how species developed and in what
order, is at odds with the Torah's version. (And I've already admitted
that the rishonim grudgingly admit that one can cite a Midrash that in
its literal sense says that Hashem created many physical words prior to
this one -- but those rishonim (such as Rambam in MN, Kuzari, and Rashi*
resist this literal take and basically condemn it.) The only thing your
not-time-as-we-know-it theory accomplishes is an explanation for why
what happenned during the time of Creation looks different to academia
than how the Torah "seems to" present it. But I argue that this does not
conform to our mesorah as-we-know-it, and that your take on the rishonim
is implausible.

> The only rishon who explicitly connects > yom to hours and minutes of
> the normal sort is the Ramban

You must mean the only rishon of the ones I mentioned in that particular
post. Again, WADR, this point depends on your unique methodology of
understanding what rishonim mean when they neglect to explicitly negate
peculiar ideas or abnormal uses of words.

: Avraham ben HaRambam
: (in Sefer Milchamos Hashem)...also states his strong stand (which he
: attributes to his father as well) that the world is young and has
: existed for only several thousand years since Creation (not just since Adam).

> Hainu hakh. The end of creation WAS Adam.

No, the context shows Rabbeynu Avraham dismisses any notion of years
passing between the "braishis bara Elokim" and the creation of
Adam. Here's the quote from Milchamos Hashem, ed. Margolios, Mosaad
HaRav Kook, pp. 57-58 and 59):

"Intellect (ha-dei-a) was granted to Adam from the Six Days of Creation,
and the Torah was given to Israel twent-four hundred years after the
creation of the world. And if someone would mumble [something] to tell
you, 'Haven't the Chachamim darshonned that the Torah was created a
thousand years before the world?' you should answer him: That drash needs
many payrushim to answer it (l'taretz osso), and it is impossible that it
should be al peshuto. And even if it were meant literally, we are speaking
about when it [the Torah] was given [and not when it was created]...."**

Had R. Avraham ben HaRambam found it acceptable to think that even a
thousand years had passed between the initial creation of the world and
Adam, and if the 2400 year-before-creation he was speaking of was the
creation of Adam, what would have been his problem with the idea that
the Torah was created 1000 years before that? Obviously, by "Creation,"
Rabbeynu Avraham is talking about the initial creation, and he understands
that the Torah was given 2400 after that.

He continues: "Behold, their [the philosophers'] belief is that that
world is old (yashan), and it has no beginning. And we disagree with them,
through the emunah of the Torah, and we can present teshuvos and establish
many proofs to make clear the emunah of the Torah that the world is new
(chadash), AND created; and nothing exists that is rishon and acharon
except for HaKadosh Baruch Hu."

Why would the philosophers Rabbeynu Avraham is addressing care whether
the world existed 2400 years davka from the time of Adam? The issue
between them is the age, or eternity, of the universe!

Also, note that Rabbeynu Avraham does not suggest that the reason the
world looks eternal is only because it is really very, very old. He
insists that the world is young, and that this is part of the Torah's
intended teaching, part and parcel with the teaching that the world was
created.. (You would probably say that relative to an eternal world,
a world of any duration is young, but WADR I don't see how, based on
Rabbeynu Avraham's words in context, you can deny that Rabbeynu Avraham
would reject the idea that the heavens and earth (not just Adam) began
their existence 2400 odd years before mattan Torah.

> Once you presume that the current physics didn't apply, neither did the
> current notion of time...

Not necessarily. It can be equally asserted that although the events
during the Creation days did not follow current laws of nature, the
nature of time was established to be as-we-know-it. (And if this is
itself impossible according to physics as-we-know-it, then this would
be one of the not-as-we-know-it nature of nature that took place during
the six days of Creation.) For this is how Chazal and the rishonim
assume things were, as I've been cataloging: One of the first acts of
Creation was establishing middass hayom and middas halayla. Many of
the rishonim discuss the issue of time during Creation, focusing on
how it was measured, and not one suggests that it was characterized any
differently than it is now.

* Hagigga 13b-14a:
A Braiisa: Rebbi Shimon HaChasid said, "Those 974 generations [of people
--ZL] that were decreed to be created before the world was created, but
were not created, HaKadosh Baruch Hu arose and planted them [dispersing
them] in each generation [of people ewho /were/ created -- ZL]; and
these very people are the brazen of each generation..

Rashi: "[created] before the world was created" -- It was decreed
upon them to be created /before Mattan Torah, as per the posuk,
'A thing was commanded [to exist] after the thousandth generation'
(Tehillim 105). [I.e.,] The Torah was supposed to be given [only] after
the thousandth generation. But when He saw the the world can not keep
itself going without Torah, he arose and tardon (?), and gave it after
[only] 26 generations [of people] from Adam to Moshe Rabbeynu.

Note Rashi's interpretation of the thousand years "before the world was

Now what, I ask, was bothering Rashi ("the non-rationalist," "the
literalist"), to make him give this unliteral peshat to the Gemora? Why
did't he take it literally, that Hashem decreed something 974 generations
worth of time before he created our world -- perhaps between Gen. I and
II? Why did he explain the Gemora's phrase, "before the creation of the
world," as meaning before Mattan Torah, a quite unusual interpretation? It
seems obvious that -- ala Rabbeynu Saadia Gaon, Kuzari, Rambam, Ikkarrim,
etc.-- he considered it fundamental that our world is the Aretz that was
tohu va-vohu, and is the Aretz that Hashem created at the very beginning
of Time. Rashi holds Hashem did not create anything before He created
our heaven and earth (or its essense, as per Ramban), for Time was part
of that Creation, and could not "exist before" Creation.

** Well, look at that! Rabbeynu ben HaRambam is saying it cannot be taken
literally, but even if it could, it would not contradict his point. Sort
of like the mehalach of saying, the evidence of an old-age-universe
accepted by academia is full of holes, but even if the evidence were
valid, in most cases it would not contradict the Creationist view.

Zvi Lampel

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Date: Wed, 21 Dec 2005 11:35:24 -0500
From: "M Cohen" <mcohen@touchlogic.com>
A of U

A third wave of biblical creationist thinking seeks to prove the Genesis
account through serious science. Some scientists say it could be a
formidable threat to acceptance of evolution as it has been taught
for more than a century. MSNBC.com's Alex Johnson reports.
<http://tinyurl.com/aovee> [Reduce from an MSNBC link -mi]

Can anyone competently comment on the scientific opinions of the above

Mordechai Cohen

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Date: Wed, 21 Dec 2005 09:24:57 -0800 (PST)
From: Harry Maryles <hmaryles@yahoo.com>
Re: Length of Maaseh Breshis has no impact on halacha

Zvi Lampel <hlampel@thejnet.com> wrote:
> "Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common
> sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between
> science and the supernatural. 

Of course I could say the same thing about your view: Your willingness
to accept Masoretic claims that are against common sense is the key to an
understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural.

I think you raise a good point: Common sense.

RSC (...or was it RJO?) actually conceded that if not for what he now
understands the correct Mesorah to be, he would hold exactly as does
RMB. His problem is that he refuses to trust the now forbidden Mesorah
of Gedolei HaAchronim like the Tifferes Yisroel and instead denies his
own intellect because certain Gedolim in Israel have "ordered" him to.

> We take the side of science in spite of the patent
> absurdity of some of its constructs, 

No one does that except those with an atheistic agenda. Science by its
nature is only as good as its most recent information. Previous theories
are constantly discarded in favor of new ones that "make more sense"
in light of new information or discoveries. Sticking to the narrow
view of the world that you and others have advocated means rejecting
any information that contradicts those narrow views as either false,
or requiring extreme contortions such as saying that the world was
creates old.

As I have said, saying the world was created to look old is fine for those
who are easily satisfied with such explanations. But it is that very same
"common sense" you speak of that motivates others like myself to refuse
just chalk up every piece of new data supporting an old universe as G-d
just trying to test us when there are legitimate sources that allow us
to evaluate the evidence as real.


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Date: Wed, 21 Dec 2005 19:23:46 -0500
From: "S & R Coffer" <rivkyc@sympatico.ca>
RE: Length of Maaseh Breshis has no impact on halacha

On December 20, 2005, Daniel Eidensohn wrote:
> S & R Coffer wrote:
>> The source is Chumash... 

> Thank you for your cogent explanation. I am gratified to hear that you
> are fully aware that it is not easy to convince many of the objective
> validity of the literalist viewpoint. However wouldn't you agree that if
> you weren't committed to the view that the world is less than 6000 years
> old - you could acknowledge that your criticisms of science are not needed
> and maybe even a bit stretched.

Not needed, perhaps; a bit stretched, absolutely not. In fact, my
sincere belief is that much of what passes as science today is in
fact more closely aligned with religion than science. This phenomenon
is commonly referred to as scientism and routinely plagues fields of
science that relate to origins. There has been much written about this
issue. I am far from the first to be mifarsem it. Rav Avigdor Miller
was "tzavach ki kruchya" about this issue for 60 years. Unfortunately,
like the Gemara concludes, "leis man d'mashgach bey". Obviously this is
not entirely true. Many people have adopted his approach to resolving
Torah and science but in view of the compelling arguments he makes,
it is disappointing how many more Jews seem to ignore his message. Oh
well...perhaps it's like the Gemara says about Tehilim..."makom heinichu
lo min hashamayim lihisgadel..." It's time for the new generation to
pick up where he left off.

 In other words your arguments are driven -
> not by the data of Science - but rather your belief in the actual age of
> the universe - which of necessity results in a clash between Science &
> Religion. If you could convince me by the data itself - rather being
> the consequence of your belief system - I could be motivated to make it
> a topic in Daas Torah 2.

I would love to! I've requested several times from various posters to
float a topic in science that seems contradictory to Torah. Between
Jonathan and myself (I'm more of a life-sciences guy, he is more noteh
to physics and astronomy), I believe we would be able to present a well
reasoned, fully documented response to any issue in science and if we
couldn't we would research it and respond accordingly. I don't know which
issues trouble you; consequently, I am unable to respond. But I would
love to have an honourable mention in the great Daas Torah :-) so by all
means, let me know what issues trouble you and we'll take it from there.

> Thus what I was asking is the following. We have two choices. 1) Accept
> that there is a required belief that the world is less than 6000 years
> old and then be forced to devalue Science in order to ameliorate the
> resulting Science - Religion conflict. 2) Accept that there is not a
> problem with accepting that the universe is old and therefore minimizing
> the conflict with Science.

The Rambam in Moreh Nevuchim states that even if 1000 fools malign his
words, if one chacham learns the truth, it was worth it. Even if you were
correct that accepting "that there is not a problem with accepting that
the universe is old" would mitigate the challenge from science to Torah,
it's not true. Chazal and Rishonim, indeed our collective mesorah (until
recently) all dictate the belief in a young universe. The recent spate
of proclamations by various rabbanim and roshey yeshiva demonstrates
the gedoley yisrael's position regarding our mesorah. There are no
public proclamations made by gedoley torah that counters the original
ones. Thus, I simply cannot overlook what I consider a powerful massoretic
tradition and misrepresent the truth in order to mitigate the challenge
from science.

However, notwithstanding the above, you have no idea how much
assistance HKBH has sent us to be able to counter the shekarim of the
academicians. You are a temimusdica guy who just wants to make shalom
by saying "young world, old world, who cares! We all believe in Hashem
right? Right! Now let's get back to our Rashba and Kitzos". This approach
actually works for the overwhelming number of Chareidim in places like
Bnei Brak where not much is known about science. They simply believe in
the Torah, possess emunas Chachamim and call it a day. Unfortunately,
there is a powerful movement which is being animated by the Satan and
is primarily responsible for all of society's ills today and this is
the doctrine of materialism. The philosophical underpinning of this
movement is Marxism and all of the attendant ism's which followed it. The
psychological face is Freudianism which effectively absolves mankind from
culpability as a victim of psychological forces beyond his control. And
the intellectual face of this movement is Darwinism, the biggest sheker
ever foisted on mankind, greater even than AZ.

Zeh leumas zeh assa haElokim and thus Hashem has sent us ezro mikodesh.
There are thousands of Christian scholars that have researched every field
in science and have compelling responses to practically every challenge to
the "Genesis" account, not just transparent bubba masos. The Intelligent
Design movement is gaining a very strong foothold in America and entirely
avoids any issues with religion. There are constantly machlokisin
amongst the scientists themselves about their own theories. Some of them
are literally on opposite ends of the spectrum as regards to the most
fundamental issues in "science". "How can this be" you ask? The teretz
is that there is a fundamental difference between operational science
and origins based science. Allow me to illustrate.

In science, there are several steps that must be taken before a hypothesis
can finally be accepted as scientific fact.
1) First of all, the scientist who forms the hypothesis must conduct
several well designed experiments using dependent and independent
variables (picture the standard 90 degree angle graph with the x-axis
running horizontally recording the independent variable and the y-axis
running vertically recording the dependant variables).
2) A control must be used with regards to the dependant variables.
3) If the results do not support his hypothesis, he must either modify
or reject it.
4) If they do, he must publish his findings in a peer reviewed journal
and report any errors in the process.
5) 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.
6) Only after many successful attempts at duplication under a variety
of conditions can the hypothesis gain what is referred to as statistical
significance and be admitted to the general knowledge base of science.

This process is almost never followed in origins based science. You know
why? Because it's impossible to run a laboratory test on something that
happened in the past. Origins science is full of untested foundational
assumptions that would never hold up in an operational science atmosphere.
Don't be confused and think that methods such as radiometric dating
are absolute proof. Like I mentioned in a previous post RM dating is
based on 3 un-testable foundational assumptions. Not that this makes
it wrong per se. But it cannot be used as conclusive evidence such
that I need to reinterpret Torah to accommodate it. Now, don't get me
wrong. If you approached me with 1000 transitional fossils showing a
gradual change from a water based organism to a land based mammal,
I would be duly impressed. This is hard evidence. If you showed me
a tree that possessed 25,000 rings on it, this would constitute some
kind of evidence (although not necessarily conclusive). But much of
the "evidence" invoked in the defence of an old universe is inherently
un-testable and in fact is often times subsequently proven as false. So
it is important not to conflate operational science, which yields things
like the computer you are staring at right now and millions of other
beneficial items to mankind, and origins science which, for the most
part, is academically driven and doesn't possess the same controls,
checks and balances as its sister science.

> In sum: since life is certainly easier for the greater than 6000 years
> old view - what drives you to tenaciously reject it? Since Rav Shmuel
> Kaminetsky has certified the legitimacy of an older universe - then the
> burden of proof is on you as to why you need to reject it.

First of all, I'm not convinced he said that. I just spoke to him recently
(I asked him about his change of heart regarding his signature - please no
requests regarding his response, Micha wants to keep this site free and
clear and I don't blame him) but I didn't know he maintained the shita
you claim. Next time he is in Toronto I'll ask him and report back. But
in any case, he is a daas yachid in comparison to all the other roshey
yeshivos that signed. I've said many times before that I do not consider
those maintaining this shita apikosim chs'v. Part of the reason is because
I assumed there were gedoley Yisrael, like RSK, who didn't have a problem
with it. But that doesn't mean that RSK *believes* that the universe is
old, just that this belief is not a contradiction to Torah. The Rambam
holds that the Platonic view is not contrary to Torah. Does that mean
that the Rambam didn't believe in creation ex nihilo?

> Therefore I would appreciate your elaboration on the meta issues in this
> debate - since realistically neither side is going to convince the other
> side about their interpretations. Avoiding derashos -where do you see
> amongst the rishonim & achronim an insistence that every good Jew must
> accept that the world is less than 6000 years old.

R' Daniel, if I did that, R' Micha would immediately call Lazer Weinman
in Lakewood, obtain a ticket out of Newark to Toronto Pearson Airport,
proceed to the closest sporting goods store here, purchase a nice hefty
Louisville Slugger, proceed to my humble abode, knock on the door, say
Sholom Aleichem! I'm Micha! and summarily proceed to whack me on the
head with the aforementioned implement.

Hashem knows I would love to respond but I refuse to do it at
the expense of Micha's nerves. He doesn't want the same arguments
repeated over and over so instead I would ask you to search my posts
on MB and I believe you will find a very well represented view of
the "chareidi" approach. If you are looking for a single post to
peruse, the seminal post on this issue and still the best one by far,
is one written in September 2004. The thread title is "Age of the
Universe (Maharal, Rambam, Ramban)" and was written by RZL. Please see
http://www.aishdas.org/avodah/vol13/v13n095.shtml#05 Email #2. Even in
the past two to three days, posts have been written by RZL and myself
which should suffice to give you somewhat of an idea of where we are
coming from. Because of my personal respect for you (and my anticipation
at becoming immortalized in Daas Torah :-), I would consider writing a
long post condensing all of my ideas but it will have to be offlist. If
you wait awhile, I will be doing it anyway for toriah.org.

[Email #2 -mi]

On December 20, 2005, Zvi Lampel wrote:
> On the other hand, regarding this particular posek (Breishis 2:4), you do
> have a mekor from Rabbeynu Saadia Gaon and R. Avraham ben HaRambam: ...

> So you're right. "Yom" can (according to some) mean a longer than 24-hour
> period.

RGS has some more examples on his site. But here's the catch. None of the
pesukim which are advanced as proofs have a numerical integer preceding
the word yom/yamim. So, when the context is sovel a definition of longer
than one day, the Rishonim will discuss it, as RZL points out. However,
when there is a specific number attached to the word yom, it can only
mean a 24 hour day (or possibly 6 12 hour daytime periods) nothing more.

> and that the shortness of the period  was part
> of the glory of the Creation the Torah means to reveal to us.

And then RZL goes on to illustrate this point from a lovely piece in
the Tzeyda Laderech. I would just like to append my two cents.

The baal haIkkrim counts three ideas as the fundamental Ikkarim upon
which Judaism rests; Metzius Hashem, Torah miSinai and schar va'onesh.
Accordingly, says the Ikkrim, these items should be found at the beginning
of the Torah as an introduction to the whole Torah and indeed they are.
According to the Ikkrim, Torah really starts from 5:1 in Bereishis. From
Bereishis until Eileh Toldos hashamayim (2:4) is an introduction to the
Ikkar of Metzius Hashem, from Eileh Toldos until v'haAdam yada es chava
eeshto (4:1) is the introduction to Torah miSinai and from v'haAdam yada
until zeh sefer toldos adam (5:1) is the introduction to schar va'onesh.

Now, the reason why the first part is an introduction to Metzius Hashem
is because it testifies to a creator that creates "b'ratzon" all of
existence etc. Thus. Says the Ikkrim all of the details mentioned in
this section are designed to testify to this ikkar such as the various
levels of beings that exist, the differences between, the form in which
they have been established, like plant life, animal life, 'speaking'
life form, *in the various time frames within which they were created*
etc. All this is a part of the Ikkar of metzius Hashem and demonstrates
his omnipotent, that he is a kol yachol etc. In view of this presentation,
I think it would be obvious to state that the Ikkrim didn't understand
the detail of varying times in terms of billions of years. Rather, the
detail of time is their to show you thew fact that the KOL Yachol was able
to create these items in a very short period of time (ayin sham perek 11).

> (And please remember my focus in this post from beginning to end is on the
> suggestion that by "day" in Beraishis, Hashem meant something other than a
> regular earthling-perspective day. I'm not here discussing other
> proposals, such as concerning the situation between Beraishis 1:1 and 1:2.)

Why not? Let's discuss it. There are no such proposals and even if
there were, they would be few and far in-between (Rashbam implies that
there might be some such period although he doesn't know. Interestingly
enough, the very same Rashbam states that the sheyshes yimey Bereishis
were six literal 24 hour days. Rabbeinu Bachya refers to this period as
timeless, not long periods of time. It is a period of spirituality, not
corporeality in any way including time). Our general mesorah teaches us
that the sheyshes yimey Bereishis, from the word Bereishis 'till the word
l'aassos was six days, nothing more. As far as the efficacy of mesorah,
here's my favourite two quotes about the matter.

"One may want to introduce new, unheard of interpretations of the psukim
and chazal, but this is not Torah following a mesorah. Such methods
were used to buttress Christianity, Islam and Shabbzai Tvi-ism, and
have no place among bnai Torah. As Rambam says regarding the Karaites,
once they rejected the mesorah of Chazal, they were free to interpret
the Torah at will."

"Rav Moshe Feinstein, zt"l, is known to have commented that he was
aware of so many shittos of individual authorities, that he could find
combinations that would create a form of Conservative "Judasim." The
point is that one must also be guided by the overall sense of the
mesorah. A radical chulent of ideas based on dismembered shittos of
various authorities may produce efficacious, if dubious, explanations
that satisfy the unreligious of a certain bent, but they have no place
among b'nay Torah who know better."

The quotes belong to none other than our very own RZL.

Simcha Coffer

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