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Volume 16 : Number 131

Tuesday, February 14 2006

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Tue, 14 Feb 2006 12:40:46 +0200
From: Moshe Feldman <moshe.feldman@gmail.com>
Fwd: Identity of Arneves and Shafan

I wrote that Rabbi Meyer Lubin argues that the
> Arneves is the two humped
> (Bactrian) camel found further to the east in Central Asia (where Avrohom
> originated from), and Shofon is the Llama, found only in South America
> (unknown by our civilisation until the sixteenth century).

R. Slifkin, in "The Camel The Hare And The Hyrax" provides numerous
reasons why this suggestion cannot be taken seriously. For example,
Tehillim and Mishlei describe the shafan as a small animal that hides
under rocks, which certainly does not describe the llama! Additionally,
the shafan is described as an animal familiar to the Jewish People,
which rules out anything from South America. Regarding the arneves,
there are many proofs from the Gemara that it is the hare.

Kol tuv,

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Date: Tue, 14 Feb 2006 13:34:32 +0200
From: Marty Bluke <marty.bluke@gmail.com>
Re: Sabbath mode wall ovens

R'  Micha Berger wrote:
> I'm not usre I agree with the "most modern poskim" bit, though.

Besides the Chazon Ish who else holds that it is an issur d'oraysa?

Not so long ago, I asked R' Willig what to do when I was traveling and
had to stay at a hotel/motel for Shabbos with electronic keys. He said
that I needed to tape up the door so that it wouldn't lock, but if I
got locked out I could ask a goy to open the door as it would be a shvus
d'shvus b'makom mitzva.

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Date: Tue, 14 Feb 2006 13:42:04 +0200
From: Daniel Eidensohn <yadmoshe@012.net.il>
Re: Creation & allegory

Zvi Lampel wrote:
> But in any case, since:

>>However it is also possible to read this [the passage of MN, I 
> assume? --ZL] as saying that there were in
>>fact 6 historical days ..." (and I would say that not only is it 
> possible, but this is the clear meaning --ZL),  then it means little 

>>"There are readings" of the Moreh Nevuchim [i.e., by Shem Tov and 
> Narboni MAYBE] which "can" be
>>understood to mean that the days of creation were allegorical 
> descriptions rather than historical reality.

> Why give credence to an interpretation that attributes an idea to the 
> Rambam that is obviously off the derech, when his own words indicate 
> no such thing? So even if Shem Tov and Narboni /did/ have this take on 
> the Rambam, I mean, /lots/ of people, with only far-fetched 
> speculations as a basis, like to attribute off-the-derech ideas to the 
> Rambam, such as those academia you have noted in your post. It really 
> shouldn't be of much concern.

I recently had a discussion with a rosh yeshiva who criticized my sefer
Daas Torah. He asserted that real Jews don't need to research seforim and
study the range of views to understand hashkofa. A person who grows up
with a strong mesora just knows the true point of view.. He asserted that
Rav Soloveitchik expressed this idea in this essay on the two mesoras
- the first being textual analysis and the other of deed. There R'
Soloveichik notes the debate between the Radziner and the Beis HaLevi
concerning techeles. The Beis Halevi rejected the reasoned arguments of
the Radziner - because he had a mesora of deeds - which did not include
techeles. Similar he noted that Rav Moshe Feinstein in his dispute with
the Tzitz Eliezar concerning abortion. Reb Moshe knew because of his
20 generations of rabbinical ancestry that abortion is murder. He even
changed the text of Tosfos because he knew the right answer - which
happened to be contradicted by out text of Tosfos.

What I am getting at is that if one read Shem Tov's explanation
without preconceived ideas as to what the right answer can be - it is
more reasonable to understand that he is asserting that the Rambam is
rejecting the temporal nature of the six days of creation.If you view
the texts as comparable to scientific data through which one discovers
the truth - you have a different type of analysis than if you know the
answers and are just showing how you can see these answers in as many
different combinations of verses and text. Thus I presented both options.

The concept of the "correct" answer seems to break down when studying
Bereishis. As is obvious from the literal meaning of the text - there were
6 historical days of creation. However if you insist that everyhing was
created on the first day - then you have a problem as to how light was
created on both the first and fourth days. If you accept the view that it
was the same light - then you have to reject the original understanding
that there were six days of creation. The Abarbanel is very bothered by
this issue and insists that the language of the Torah does not allow for
a non creation view of the six days. But that is what Rambam, Ramban and
apparently Rashi do. Once you disegard the literal meaning of the verses
it is not obvious what the guidelines are for how far you can go.One of
the major problems is that it is in fact chazal that reject the literal
meaning of the verses. This in fact led the Rambam to specifically reject
the understanding of Chazal is this chapter.

The question of the mesora is reflected in the following medrash.

Midrash Rabbah - Genesis I:15 . THE HEAVEN AND THE EARTH. Beth Shammai 
maintain: The heaven was first created; while Beth Hillel hold: The 
earth was first created. In the view of Beth Shammai this is parallel to 
the case of a king who first made his throne and then his footstool, for 
it is written, The heaven is My Throne, and the earth is My footstool 
(Isa. LXVI, 1). On the view of Beth Hillel this is to be compared to a 
king who builds a palace; after building the nether portion he builds 
the upper, for it is written, In the day that the Lord God made earth 
and heaven (Gen. II, 4). R. Judah b. R. Ilai said: This supports Beth 
Hillel, viz. Of old Thou didst lay the foundations of the earth, which 
is followed by, And the heavens are the work of Thy hands (Ps. CII, 26). 
R. Hanin said: From the very text which [apparently] supports Beth 
Shammai,7 Beth Hillelrefute them, viz. And the earth was (Gen. I, 2), 
meaning that it had already existed [before heaven].1 R. Johanan, 
reporting the Sages, said: As regards creation, heaven was first; as 
regards completion, earth was first. Said R. Tanhuma: I will state the 
grounds [of this opinion]: as regards creation heaven was first, as it 
is written, IN THE BEGINNING GOD CREATED THE HEAVEN; whereas in respect 
of completion earth took precedence, for it is written, In the day that 
the Lord God made earth and heaven. _*R. Simeon observed: I am amazed 
that the fathers of the world2 engage in controversy over this matter, 
for surely both were created [simultaneously] like a pot and its lid,*_ 
[as it is written], When I call unto them [sc. heaven and earth], they 
stand up together (Isa. XLVIII, 13). R. Eleazar b. R. Simeon observed: 
If my father's view is right, why is the earth sometimes given 
precedence over the heaven, and sometimes heaven over earth? In fact it 
teaches that they are equal to each other.3
Everywhere Abraham is mentioned before Isaac, and Isaac before Jacob; 
yet in one place it says, Then will I remember My covenant with Jacob, 
and also My covenant with Isaac, and also My covenant with Abraham (Lev. 
XXVI, 42): this teaches that the three are on a par. Everywhere Moses is
mentioned before Aaron, yet in one place it says, These are that Aaron
and Moses (Ex. VI, 26): this teaches that they are on a par.Everywhere
Joshua is mentioned before Caleb, yet in one place it says, save Caleb 
the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite, and Joshua the son of Nun (Num. 
XXXII, 12): this teaches that they are on a par.
Everywhere a father's honour is mentioned before the mother's honour,
but in one place it says, Ye shall fear every man his mother, and his
father (Lev. XIX, 3): this teaches that both are on a par.

In sum. The fact that there is a dispute whether the first six days
were days of creation or days of revealing and putting into place that
which was created previously is indicative of a fundamental divide
concerning how to understand Bereishis. Chazal and the Rishonim disputed
what actually happened and whether to read the verses literally or not.
It is not a major step to further assert that the days were allegorical
descriptions of the relationship between elements of the creation rather
than the historical sequence. [As the Rambam alludes to in his opening
paragraph to 2:30] While there is general agreement that the world was
created ex nihilo - where is it stated that one must believe the six
days of creation are to be understood as six historical days? If one was
raised that the mesora requires that the days are historical - the answer
is obvious. However if one looks at the texts you will see a different
picture. I am basically just paraphrasing the analysis of the Abarabanel.

Daniel Eidensohn

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Date: Tue, 14 Feb 2006 17:28:42 -0500 (EST)
From: "Micha Berger" <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Creation & allegory

R Daniel Eidensohn wrote:
> As we all known the issue of understanding the Rambam is very complex.We
> recently debated whether the Rambam was presenting inferior views
> (apologetics) in order to deal with the theologically challenged
> and/or religious opponents However what I am interested in is the polar
> opposite understanding of the Rambam. - that his writings are esoteric.
> In other words his literal meaning conceals his true position. His message
> can only be ascertained by careful reading and attention to changes in
> terminology, understanding of his metaphors and careful collation of his
> discussions through out his writings.

 From the intro:
    ... Nothing of what is mentioned is out of place, every remark
    will be found to illustrate the subject-matter of the respective
    chapter. Do not read superficially, lest you do me an injury, and
    derive no benefit for yourself. You must study thoroughly and read
    continually; for you will then find the solution of those important
    problems of religion, which are a source of anxiety to all intelligent
    men. I adjure any reader of my book, in the name of the Most High,
    not to add any explanation even to a single word: nor to explain to
    another any portion of it except such passages as have been fully
    treated of by previous theological authorities: he must not teach
    others anything that he has learnt from my work alone, and that has
    not been hitherto discussed by any of our authorities. The reader
    must, moreover, beware of raising objections to any of my statements,
    because it is very probable that he may understand my words to mean
    the exact opposite to what 1 intended to say. He will injure me,
    while I endeavoured to benefit him." He will requite me evil for
    good." Let the reader make a careful study of this work; and if his
    doubt be removed on even one point, let him praise his Maker and rest
    contented with the knowledge he has acquired. But if he derive from
    it no benefit whatever, he may consider the book as if it had never
    been written. Should he notice any opinions with which he does not
    agree, let him endeavour to find a suitable explanation, even if it
    seem far-fetched, in order that he may judge me charitably. Such a
    duty we owe to every one. We owe it especially to our scholars and
    theologians, who endeavour to teach us what is the truth according
    to the best of their ability. I feel assured that those of my readers
    who have not studied philosophy, will still derive profit from many a
    chapter. But the thinker whose studies have brought him into collision
    with religion, will, as I have already mentioned, derive much benefit
    from every chapter. How greatly will he rejoice! How agreeably will
    my words strike his ears! Those, however, whose minds are confused
    with false notions and perverse methods, who regard their misleading
    studies as sciences, and imagine themselves philosophers, though they
    have no knowledge that could truly be termed science, will object to
    many chapters, and will find in them many insuperable difficulties,
    because they do not understand their meaning, and because I expose
    therein the absurdity of their perverse notions, which constitute
    their riches and peculiar treasure," stored up for their ruin."...

The Rambam seems to (1) tell people to ignore anything they think is his
chiddush, as they probably misunderstood; and (2) believes that you don't
need to be a philosopher to understand some of what he's talking about. It
sounds more like a warning before an advanced text than an esoteric one.

Shinnar, Meir wrote:
> RMB cites the lette to R Yosef Ibn Aknin (omitted) and then states
>> The Rambam urged him to desist from the pursuit of logical proof and
>> methodology, from trying to study Judaism like the Mutakallemim study
>> Islam (or the Scholastics, Xianity). That he was studying things in the
>> wrong organization -- which is why I thought of categories. And that
>> motivated the Rambam to write the book for other people in
>> this situation.

> IMHO, that is a complete misunderstanding of the rambam. The rambam was
> saying that there is an order to study. The metaphysical issues that Rav
> Yosef wanted to study are properly at the end of the studies - there are
> many preliminary studies that need to be done before one can understand
> and appreciate the metaphysical studies. One can not take short cuts.

And the nevu'ach is one who is an advanced Aristotilian but a Jewish
neophyte, and therefore learnt things out of order. At least, that's
how the intro seems to me.

>> I urged you to desist from this pursuit, and enjoined you to continue
>> your studies systematically; for my object was that the truth should
>> present itself in connected order, and that you should not hit upon
>> it by mere chance.

> The problem is not that he should desist from the pursuit of logical proof
> and methodology (something that is nowhere to be found in the rambam -
> and is utterly foreign to him) - but that he was not at the stage of his
> studies that he could understand the metaphysical issues that bothered him
> - and the truth is not to be found haphazardly, but in a connected order.

Nor would I assert that the Rambam valued emunah peshutah over machashavah
amuqah. However, I'm not sure the Rambam was necessarily the Aristotilian
or neoPlatonist the Moreh makes him out to be. Rather, it was a book for
people who knew one and not the other, and therefore used Aristotle to
compartmentalize and judge Judaism rather than the other way around.

R"L I get that with my Orechos Tzadiqim students as well -- not all of
whom are even affiliated. Sometimes I need to define a Jewish thought
by showing it in contrast to Xianity. Otherwise, the Xian position is
(again, r"l) their default one.

In another post, RMS writes:
> 1) 2:30 starts out with the Rambam differentiating between first in
> a temporal sequence and first indicating a foundation principle which
> doesn't necessarily temporally precede that for which it is fundamental.

> 2) The Rambam clearly asserts that he agrees with Aristotle that there
> is no time without physical motion.(2:13)

> 3) Consequently -contrary to various statements found in Chazal - Rambam
> asserts that time can not exist prior to creation ex nihilo....

Given your number #1, how do you know it is contrary to various statements
found in Chazal? We discussed this a few times, including around 1/2 a
year ago. Chazal are not clear when they are speaking chronologically.

Side note to this conversation, but important to another: As written
above in the quote from the Moreh's introduction, the Rambam did not
believe he was allegorizing something Chazal or the ge'onim did not.


Micha Berger             A cheerful disposition is an inestimable treasure.
micha@aishdas.org        It preserves health, promotes convalescence,
http://www.aishdas.org   and helps us cope with adversity.
Fax: (270) 514-1507         - R' SR Hirsch, "From the Wisdom of Mishlei"

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Date: Tue, 14 Feb 2006 14:16:25 -0500 (EST)
From: "Micha Berger" <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: the Mabul

Rn Chana Luntz wrote:
>> And the teiva wasn't big enough to hold all the animals.
>> Why are we analyzing a neis for how it could work beteva?

> I think there tend to be two conflicting approaches to the mabul, and
> part of the problem we having is that there is a confusion of one with
> the other.

> The first is to understand the mabul in extremely miraculous terms.
> On this view one just has to treat the whole episode as completely
> miraculous and outside of history - although I note that you do seem
> to need what might be called "follow up" miracles which are presumably
> within history, such as what I call the "airlifted animals" miracle.

Actually, it looks like RSRH folded in the airlifting of animals with
the haflagah. That part of creating new languages is the creation of
new environs, new experiences, and therefore differing perceptions of
the world.

> On the other hand, the other approach is to try and minimise the number
> of miracles involved (based on an understanding that part of the glory of
> Hashem's creation is that everything was pretty much set from breishis...

This post reminded me of the abortion debate here in the US. One side sees
themselves as pro-life, the other as pro-choice. The terms aren't opposite
because each sees a different issue as the primarily line between them.

Here, I do not think maximalism vs minimalism of miracles is the main
thing. Rather, it's the question of how minimal can one be. I would also
be against positing miracles of which we weren't told; I do not presume
the historicity of aggadic stories that involve miracles. The question
between us is more about what constitutes knowing what we were told.

To me, the question isn't about allegorization directly, but about
our creative license. Allegorization where the mesorah is not silent
doesn't bother me. If someone wants to consider maaseh bereishis, masseh
merkavah or anthropomorphications in Tanakh to be ahistorical allegory,
good! I'm questioning the domain in which we can create our own.

If the mesorah is silent, we can make chiddushim. If the mesorah contains
machloqes, we can choose upon whom we wish to be someich. But what if
the mesorah contains consensus?

Allegory is different than other creativity in only one way -- we have a
TSBK statement that says X. Therefore, it's always an example of creating
a new shitah when there is no silence.

If the Torah (bekesav plus BP) says X, can we say Y? Recall my post
way back on this thread, the Tosafos Yom Tov considers a new peshat in
"veTimna haysa pilegesh" to be a violation of "megaleh panim baTorah shelo
kehalakhah" to the point of costing a cheileq le'olam haba ch"v. And
the Me'iri RGS cited, in which we need chazal to tell us which pesuqim
are literal, which are allegorical, and which are both. Not to mention
the conflicting understandings on list of the Moreh, in which I insist
that an internal maqor is part of his criteria for allegorization as well.

So yes, we can always say that "kol haaretz" means "all of the region",
"aretz" is often of limited scope. Or perhaps even someone can keneitch
"tachas kol hashamayim". But is it Torah?

I therefore feel compelled to posit more miracles, because to my mind
they're "known of".

I've defended the idea of non-literal approaches to Bereishis 1 (although
my own position isn't exactly in that camp), but I do not feel comfortable
doing the same without the mishnah "ein doreshin", a list of mequbalim,
the Bereishis Rabba, the Maharal, etc...

> On that basis "all the mountains under the heavens" means all the
> mountains known to mankind at the time (which given mankind's geographical
> spread, did not eg include any English or Scottish mountains), "all
> the animals" meant all of the animals known at that time to the dor
> hamabul, which probably did not include elephants much less kangaroos....

Chana Luntz wrote in a later post:
> I think you are confusing two different issues - the dating of human
> beings and the global nature of the flood....

This still poses a problem with accepting archeological findings, as
Egypt, China, Mesopotamia and many other cultures have records that --
*IF* dated correctly, imply a continuous presence since before the tower
and flood.

A flood that includes all of mankind at the time isn't consistent with
the findings.

Of course, I still do not understand why one has such buy-in to the
methodology. Belief in yetzi'as Mitzrayim and matan Torah requires
questioning the reliability of current archeological methodology. So,
once one is in for a penny, why not go in for the whole pound? How does
one accept the scientific argument as authoritative in one context but
not the other?

R S Coffer wrote:
>> I'm saying that according to the understanding of nissim of the Maharal
>> and REED, different people experience different realities. The person
>> who sees justice as more real than gravity, will actually experience a
>> universe in which moral law holds sway at the expense of physical law.
>> This person will experience nissim, whereas other people would live in
>> a reality where nature holds sway.

> I don't see the above sources the same way as you (surprise surprise
> :-) Rav Dessler never claims that certain people live on an entirely
> miraculous plane. Even R' Chanina ben Dosa who was milumad benissim
> (mi she'amar lashemen vi'yidlok...) lived in a reality where teva
> "held sway".

I would agree with that. Let's not talk about people, and rather about
them at a particular moment in time.

So to rephrase: Had Ovadiah, while he was zocheh to the minor lemaalah
min hateva of finding evidence of a neis, been looking for evidence of
the mabul, he would have found it.

Still, I'm using the notion of conflicting realities to suggest that
today's archeologists simply live on a plane of teva. And therefore their
experience of the relics of the past casts those relics into a derekh
hateva reality. Just as REED writes about the 6 days of bereishis --
the overly focused on teva contemporary scientist imposes a multi-billion
year history on his reality.

I just wrote this up on my blog. (Warning to RCS, you might want to take
an aspirin in advance!) I compare this position to that of Ernst Mach. See

> As R' Dessler explains, there is a spiritual reason for oil
> burning as opposed to vinegar (as everything else in the beriah) however
> the kedusha of RCBD's Shabbos superseded this consideration. The reason
> RCBD was zocheh to this, and other miracles, is because he related to
> all of teva as a manifestation of Hashem's ratzon and thus there was no
> difference to him between oil burning and vinegar burning....

As you write, that's a different ma'amar. You're citing REED's discussion
of the justness of selectively granting nissim, whereas I'm relying on
his description of the Maharal's take on the "mechanics" of teva and neis.

>> I was suggesting that we don't dig up evidence of nissim for the same
>> reason we don't experience nissim. That doesn't mean nissim didn't happen
>> for people who did (and will) live on that plane.

> I'm not sure what you mean. Are you implying that we can't find evidence
> for any of the nissim which occurred in the past, like, for instance,
> the assara makos, because we have never experienced a neis? Why? Why do
> we have to live on a miraculous plane to discern evidence of the hanhaga
> of neis?

Not because we never experienced them, but for the same reason we
never experienced them. We do not live in olam hayetzirah, where the
neis occured.

For the same reasons:

1- From the "justice" perspective -- witnessing a neis would raise my
emunah, but to a lesser extent, so would witnessing evidence.

2- The neis wouldn't have occured to plebian people like us as we stand
now -- neither to ch"v punish nor to save us. We do not live in the
reality that had a neis. Just as in Mitzri or Chinese reality, the sun
never stood still, it only stood for those in Giv'on that day.

The effect is exactly what's found WRT the mabul: the human testimony of
a mabul is very strong, but the physical record is lacking. The human
testimony is eid mipi eid from those who were zochim to the neis, the
physical record is seen by those who were not.

>> Once you believe that empirical reality needn't be consistent, it's
>> impossible even in theory to show a contradiction between the empiricist's
>> results and the Torah. One reflects the teva experience of reality,
>> the other, the neis.

> You are compromising the attempts of kiruv (not that this has to be a
> consideration but I am merely being 'machnis' you 'bidvarim'). Much of
> kiruv richokim (not to mention kiruv kirovim) is based on demonstrating
> that the Torah is perfectly in concert with empirical evidence....

Much of kiruv rechoqim uses techniques I wouldn't. However, kiruv doesn't
occur from the techniques, it occurs from the experience of shemiras
Torah umitzvos. The techniques are just to get the person to be willing
to have the experience.

> I
> don't see why you feel the two are exclusive. I agree that the laws
> which governed MB were different but once Hashem set teva in motion
> (although, according to some shittos, he is constantly renewing reality),
> there is no reason to say that two separate planes exist....

I was not writing what I feel. (Which I'm not sure of.) I was writing
what I understand REED's explanation of the Maharal's position to be. And
he clearly writes about inconsistent realities.


Micha Berger             A cheerful disposition is an inestimable treasure.
micha@aishdas.org        It preserves health, promotes convalescence,
http://www.aishdas.org   and helps us cope with adversity.
Fax: (270) 514-1507         - R' SR Hirsch, "From the Wisdom of Mishlei"

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Date: Tue, 14 Feb 2006 15:02:12 -0500 (EST)
From: "Micha Berger" <micha@aishdas.org>
Korbanos in the future

R Daniel Eidensohn wrote:
> [Rn] Lisa Liel wrote:
>> The Rambam "seems to assert" in the Moreh that there won't be korbanot
>> l'atid la-vo. That's a direct contradiction to the laws of korbanot
>> in the Yad. It's not a contradiction. The Moreh contains apologetics.
>> You have to consider the intended audience.
> The Meshech Chochma (Vayikra 1:2) suggest a resolution to the problem
> by noting that the Rambam asserts that the korbonos offered on bamos
> were to take people away from Avoda Zarah. In contrast in the Mishna
> Torah he is describing korbonos in the Beis HaMikdash which served a
> more elevated function.

He also says it in Or Samei'ach, hopefully someone can find it.

In any case, Narvoni (quoted by the Abarbanel at the beginning of Vayiqra)
offers a resolution: That the Rambam was saying that qorbanos satisfy a
basic human need/limitation, and citing pagan sacrifices as proof that
the need exists.

I wrote about it for MmD, see
<http://www.aishdas.org/mesukim/5764/vayikra.pdf>. We discussed
this in v12 around n111, v15n14 onward, and just a dozen
issues ago or so. I also have a blog entry on the machloqes at


Micha Berger             A cheerful disposition is an inestimable treasure.
micha@aishdas.org        It preserves health, promotes convalescence,
http://www.aishdas.org   and helps us cope with adversity.
Fax: (270) 514-1507         - R' SR Hirsch, "From the Wisdom of Mishlei"

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