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Volume 16 : Number 151

Tuesday, March 7 2006

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Tue, 7 Mar 2006 07:15:01 EST
From: T613K@aol.com
building the mishkan

R' Marty Bluke wrote:  
> The mitzvah ledoros is to build the Beis Hamikdash, if so why does
> the Torah go into all this detail about building the mishkan?
> I have not found a good answer for this. Any answers would be
> appreciated.

I don't know if this is a "good" answer but we learn the 39 melachos
from what was done in the building of the Mishkan.


I could also make an ad hoc drasha like this: I saw in Sefer HaParshios
that the pasuk says "Zeh HADAVAR asher ta'aseh lahem" when it could
have said "Zeh asher ta'aseh lahem." This is meant to suggest that in
the absence of the Mishkan, korbonos, etc., we can fulfill those mitzvos
by studying the WORDS of Torah.

The purpose of the Mishkan is to make it possible for Hashem's presence
to dwell among us. "Ve'asu li mikdash veshachanti besocham." Now,
for mitzvos that we keep all the time even after the churban habayis,
we will naturally study the Torah shebe'al peh because we need to know
those halachos. But mitzvos that we don't keep after the churban would
tend to get neglected and not be learned so much

Since the Torah shebichtav will always be learned, even in galus, it
goes into detail about the building of the Mishkan so that we can build
the Mishkan with words -- by learning all these details -- and thereby
make a place among us for the Divine Presence to dwell.

 -Toby Katz

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Date: Tue, 7 Mar 2006 06:34:22 -0600
From: "Marty Bluke" <marty.bluke@gmail.com>
Re: building the mishkan

On 3/7/06, T613K@aol.com <T613K@aol.com> wrote:
> I don't know if this is a "good" answer but we learn the 39 melachos from
> what was done in the building of the Mishkan.

That is true but it doesn't explain why the Torah had to go into such
tremendous deatil and especially repeat it again in Vaykehl Pekuday.

> I could also make an ad hoc drasha like this:  I saw in Sefer HaParshios
> that the pasuk says "Zeh HADAVAR asher ta'aseh lahem" when it could  have
> said "Zeh asher  ta'aseh lahem."...
> Since the Torah shebichtav will always be learned, even in galus, it goes
> into detail about the building of the Mishkan so that we can build the
> Mishkan with words -- by learning all these details -- and thereby make a
> place among us for the Divine Presence to dwell.

That is a nice derasha but it doesn't explain the tremendous detail
nor the repetition. No other mitzva is treate dthis way.

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Date: Tue, 7 Mar 2006 17:08:25 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: One woman make a berakha for another by a MASZ"G

On Thu, Mar 02, 2006 at 07:01:35AM +0200, Esther and Aryeh Frimer wrote:
: I wonder whether one woman can make a berakha for another where both are
: doing a Mitsvat aseh she-ha-zeman gramma (listening to Shofar blowing,
: sitting in a sukka, shaking lulav etc.)....

Assuming you're speaking of Ashkenazic women of kehillos where berakhos
are made on non-obligations for themselves. Most Sepharadios (if not
all) and women of the kehillos of Karlin-Stolen and related chassidos
wouldn't make a berakhah altogether. Bombay Baghdadi women (and perhaps
Babylonian altogether) make the berakhah on 4 minim, but not leisheiv
baSukah (reported on scjm by a woman of that eidah).

So, first explain the concept of why my wife makes these berakhos for
herself, then perhaps we can see if the sevarah holds when making them
for other women.


Micha Berger             A pious Jew is not one who worries about his fellow
micha@aishdas.org        man's soul and his own stomach; a pious Jew worries
http://www.aishdas.org   about his own soul and his fellow man's stomach.
Fax: (270) 514-1507                       - Rabbi Israel Salanter

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Date: Tue, 7 Mar 2006 17:12:32 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Psak?

On Thu, Mar 02, 2006 at 10:30:46AM -0500, Rich, Joel wrote:
: I remember a tape of a shiur on Yutorah discussing different approaches
: to psak . I don't remember which country was linked to what but in
: essence the 2 approaches were:
: 1. Look for the most similar case 
: 2. understand the underlying theories of previous psak(even when unstated)
:                                                .... I was particularly
: struck by a recent yutorah shiur by R' M Taragin(Gush) on kibbud av
: where he discussed some underlying concepts (e.g. is it an ethical debt)
: and how these would play out in halacha (e.g. rasha).

"The underlying theory of previous pesaq" sounds like a description of
the mechanics of that pesaq -- rov, precedent, etc... RMT is analyzing
based on taa'am hamitzvah. You really can't pasqen based on ta'am -- at
least not until the halachic process itself is exhausted. RMT, however,
is giving post-facto explanations, once people reached pesaqim the other
two ways.


Micha Berger             "'When Adar enters, we increase our joy'
micha@aishdas.org         'Joy is nothing but Torah.'
http://www.aishdas.org    'And whoever does more, he is praiseworthy.'"
Fax: (270) 514-1507                     - Rav Dovid Lifshitz zt"l

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Date: Tue, 7 Mar 2006 07:15:21 EST
From: T613K@aol.com
Re: Source needed: Sheker has no feet

[Both comments below, mine and RnTK's, are based on the same gemara,
Shabbos 104a. -mi]

> Although it's overstatement -- raglayim ein lah, aval regel yeish. One
> "leg" per letter as opposed to the two of each letter of "emes". And
> in truth, a successful lie is one that has an element of truth.

And the letters kuf, resh, shin are all next to each other to show that
when liars hold each other up the lies can stand. And they are all at
one end of the alphabet to show that if you only tell part of the story,
that itself is a form of sheker. While aleph, mem and tav encompass
the whole alphabet from beginning to end to show that you don't know
the truth unless you know the whole picture.

 -Toby Katz

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Date: Tue, 7 Mar 2006 06:32:09 -0600
From: "Marty Bluke" <marty.bluke@gmail.com>
Geocentrism and relativity (was RE: Chazal, science, and halacha)

Here is 1 article which deals with the issue
http://www.evolutionpages.com/pink_unicorn.htm. Also see
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modern_geocentrism where Geocentrism is
considered pseudoscience.

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Date: Tue, 7 Mar 2006 10:49:03 -0500
From: "Silverman, Philip B" <Philip.Silverman@bcbsga.com>
Paro, an amah tall

Dear Avodah,

A while back, in v16n059, someone mentioned the midrash that says
that Paro was an amah tall. The following link
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10627768/  , though not to be used as a
proof, might be used by those who favor taking this midrash

All the best,

Phil Silverman
Actuarial Analyst

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Date: Tue, 7 Mar 2006 11:12:44 -0500
From: "David Guttmann" <david@ihwusa.com>
Chazal, science etc

R.S.Coffer wrote:
>The reason is that they are aware that Chazal were spiritual giants
>whose every word was weighed, whose every utterance was a pure expression
>of profound wisdom. To them it is inconceivable that Chazal would make
>so many scientific statements that would subsequently turn out to be
>unreflective of reality.

I believe that venahapoch hi - they demean chazal when they try to
limit their sayings to the plain pshat. Chazal were deep and they were
careful not to say more than they felt is necessary. And yes they were
not infallible. That is why we don't pasken from Aggadata.

>What do they do when they are faced with a contradiction they cannot
>resolve? They merely shrug and say "tzarich iyun gadol vaHashem yair
>einay" much like R' Akiva Eiger frequently does in his pirushim on Shas.

That would be preferable to coming up with sometimes embarassing
arguments trying to deny reality. That argument on heliocentrism is one
of them. Ossur leomro uleshomo'o because it is sheker.

David Guttmann

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Date: Tue, 07 Mar 2006 19:37:57
From: "Dr. Josh Backon" <backon@vms.huji.ac.il>
Re: Chazal and Science, is Nishtaneh Hateva a realistic answer?

R. "Marty Bluke" posted:
>a. none of the remedies of chazal work

 From just a very superficial review of what you listed (and I'm
sure if I spent some time, I'd come up with a lot more evidence):

Not so fast :-) I'm in medicine, teach at a medical school and also have
a PhD in physiology. A number of remedies in the gemara (Gittin) involve
swallowing antigenic determinants, an area that had been investigated by
our hospital's gastroenterology dept. as a "breakthrough" in treatment
of autoimmune disease.

>b. the things that Chazal say are dangerous are not (e.g. eating or
>cooking fish and meat together),

I see you missed my posts on AVODAH on the interaction of stearic acid in
beef with eicosapentaenoic acid in fish. Most of the early work on use of
fish oil showed negative effects (Annals of Internal Medicine circa 1987)
[e.g. diabetes] because the study conflated meat WITH fish rather than
being studied separately.

> and things that Chazal say are good
>for you (rotting fish) are dangerous

The gemara says 'SAMUCH lizman sirchinam' not actual rotting fish. Go
check with an expert in lipid biochemistry. It could eppis be in levels
of superoxide dismutase but what do I know ? :-)

And what the paper in www.daat.co.il mentioned about salt after
every meal: the act of swallowing has been recently found to increase
sympathetic nervous system activity. Salt intake was strangely found
(Journal of the American College of Cardiology about 8 years ago) to
increase PARAsympathetic (vagal) activity.

>c. Genetics changed (it was once a good thing to marry your niece)
>d. all things about birth and a baby's development changed (see 7, 8 ,
>or 9 month pregnancies), the position of babies when born, women don't
>get pregnant from the first sex act, etc.

Surfactant in lung only reaches mature levels at 34 weeks of gestation.

Whether fetal sex affects presentation and lie hasn't been checked.
[Although my guess is that the computer program at //kiwi.uchicago.edu
would reveal a link]. Intra-uterine events do affect lie and presentation
so what chazal wrote is possible.

>e. all things related to hilcho nidda changed - until when a woman can

As I recently posted to AVODAH on "veset kavua": think of epigenetics
and major environmental changes. I listed journal references !!

>give birth (60 if she gets married before 20), when does a women stop

I think I once saw a journal article on age of first intercourse and
age of menopause.

>menstruating when pregnant, how long does a woman not menstruate after
>birth, the whole idea of vestot and hargasha
>f. various halachos related to mila such as washing the baby on the third

There are some interesting postpartum changes in the mother on the 3rd
day: estrogen and progesterone [which also have immunological function]
revert to pre-pregnancy levels; there is the start of actual milk

>day, metzitza bpeh (which was considered to be necessary to ensure the
>safety of the baby).
>g. various foods/actions that are kashe l'shicha

Not so fast :-)

I've done work in this area.

Dr. Josh Backon
Hebrew University
Faculty of Medicine

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Date: Tue, 7 Mar 2006 21:21:44 +0200
From: "Akiva Blum" <ydamyb@actcom.net.il>
Re: zebu and turkey

RNS wrote:
>But *whatever* type of goose it was, it was less similar to a turkey
>than a zebu is to a cow! There is *no* type of goose that is more 
>similar to a turkey than a zebu is to a cow.

To which I responded:
> How do you know? As I said, we have no idea what this bird was! How 
> can you then say that it doesn't exist and never did exist? Are we now 
> intimately familiar with every domesticated bird that exists and ever 
> did exist?

RNS replied:
>The answer is that all geese share some >basic similarities such as 
>webbed feet and broad bills that are significant and >are lacked by 
>turkeys. Cows and zebu, on the other hand, are the same >animal except 
>for hump and some very minor other differences.

I don't see how he understood the Netziv. Does the Netziv propose that the
chochom stood a goose next to a turkey and said "My word! They're so
similar. They must be the same" ? I think it is fairly obvious that he
simply means a large kosher bird.

I further wrote:
> However, if the CI 55 years ago was not ready to be mattir, did not 
> find there was a reliable mesorah and did not agree that the zebu is 
> certainly a cow, why would the passage of time allow him to consider 
> that 55 years ago there was a reliable psak to be mattir? He was there 
> and disagreed with the mattirim!!

To which RNS replied:
>Because that is not what happened. The >Chazon Ish did NOT 
>unequivocally state that the zebu is forbidden due to it >not being a 
>cow. He wrote that IF it is not the same type of animal as >a cow, THEN 
>it requires a mesorah.

This is not really relevant. My comment was to a statement in an article
that even if the CI had paskened ossur, the CI would be chozer based on the
Netziv. About this I pointed out that based on the correct reasoning of the
Netziv, there is no basis for such a claim. Of course if the CI didn't
assur, he wouldn't need to be chozer.

I had thrown out the question:
>How would one prove that it is the same species? The CI writes that the 
>reason we need be careful to have a mesorah for animals is so that we 
>can be familiar with the treifos of that animal and we can recognize an 
>unhealthy animal. It follows that a scientific classification would not 
>cover us, since there still could be significant differences in 
>internal appearances.

To which RNS observed:
> However, the zebu and cow are about as >similar as two types can be, 
>especially since, zoologically, they >are the same species and 
>interbreed freely. From the point of view of >treifos, there is 
>unlikely to be any difference whatsoever between >the two.

Similarly, David Hojda <dhojda1@juno.com>  objected:
>Do you mean to say that scientific >classifications ignore significant 
>differences in "internal appearances?" Do you also mean to say that our 
>empirical >observation that, in fact, there are no significant 
>differences in >"internal appearances" is insufficient?
>Do you mean to say that the testimony of >expert veterinarians (who note
>no such differences) is insufficient as well?
>Do you mean to say that scientific >classification plus our own physical
>examination plus our knowledge that, in >fact, the zebu is the oldest known
>breed of cattle, are cumulatively insuffient >to confirm that it is a cow?

The Gemoroh (chullin 47a) records the following incident.
Rav Ashi was presented with a lung that had a "inunisa devarda". (This is a
small lobe on the front of the lung extending from the right side and is a
common feature.) He wanted to declare it treifo (He thought it was an
un-natural feature) They told him that healthy animals have this. There is
much discussion about whether the absence nowadays of this lobe is a treifo.
The Ramo (Y.D. 35) holds that its absence is a sign of treifo. We see that
something as small is a little extra lobe can be significant and will depend
on was is common in healthy animals. Does anyone imagine that just this
little lobe will make zoologists classify such an animal as a different min?
And yet an animal where this is common will have a different din of one
where this is not common. Apparently, what is good for the zoologist is not
for the rabbi.

>And you're saying this in the name of the CI?


Akiva Blum

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Date: Tue, 7 Mar 2006 21:53:39 +0200
From: "Marty Bluke" <marty.bluke@gmail.com>
Re: Chazal and Science, is Nishtaneh Hateva a realistic answer?

On Tue, 07 Mar 2006 19:37:57, Dr. Josh Backon <backon@vms.huji.ac.il> wrote:
> From just a very superficial review of what you listed (and I'm
> sure if I spent some time, I'd come up with a lot more evidence):
> Not so fast :-) ..

WADR, many of these are the kind of difficult answers that I was referring
to. In any case all you have done is reduce the number of conflicts,
there are still many conflicts (especially with regards to astronomy)
that cannot be resolved.

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Date: Tue, 7 Mar 2006 15:22:27 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Geocentrism and relativity (was RE: Chazal, science, and halacha)

On Tue, Mar 07, 2006 at 06:32:09AM -0600, RMBluke wrote:
: ... Also see
: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modern_geocentrism where Geocentrism is
: considered pseudoscience.

While accurate, it's not as descriptive of the entry as it sounds.

Here's a snippet:
> 5.4 Non-falsifiability of geocentrism

> If general relativity is true, then there is no way to prove that
> the Earth is not the immobile center of a non-inertial universe (see
> equivalence principle). An idea that is not falsifiable may be true,
> but it is not a scientific theory.

Nu? So it's a peshat in a pasuq, not science. So?

I'm not saying I think this is peshat in the pasuq. However, I think
that any position expounded by RMMS shouldn't be dismissed flippantly.
We're talking about someone who, even according to skeptics' accounts,
was an A student at ESTP, who was often seen attending classes at the
Sorbonne. (Which makes him more of a science afficianado than the L
official version in which he had to attend those classes at the Sorbonne
to get his degree.) RMMS took both his Torah and science too seriously
to have been grossly off-base on either.

Personally, I would agree with the point already made by RnCL: belashon
benei adam includes idiomatic usage. Even astronomers speak of "sunrise",
and their whole conversation could be about astronomical precision,
why shouldn't the Torah when teaching derekh hachaim.

> Modern geocentrists often point out when defending their beliefs that
> general relativity admits a geocentric description that can adequately
> describe the physical universe....

And this is really the point. Not the support of geocentrism over
heliocentrism, but that the whole "centrism" question is arbitrary --
any description works no better or worse than others. So, it's not that
the Torah's idiom is more right, but that it can not be called "wrong".

And, when speaking to people who are living on planet earth, more useful.

On Tue, Mar 07, 2006 at 03:49:36PM +0200, R' Akiva Atwood wrote:
:>> Occam's razor would IMHO lead to common ancestry of these myths,
:>> not archetypes.

: No -- because a common ancestry is NOT the simplest answer (given the
: conflicting evidence)
: Since fitting these myths together  "According to the Torah's account"
: requires a MAJOR creative effort, much larger than that required to
: accept the idea of archetypes, IMO Occam's Razor would favor
: archetypes over a massive and creative reinterpretation of history
: according to many different scientific fields.

First, you do realize that Jung's theory isn't rationalist? It depends
on his theory of a collective unconscious and is closely connected
to his belief in synchronicity (an acausal connecting principle that
causes coincidences). I get the sense you underestimate the size of the
Jungian postulate. It's mystical, not scientific.

That is why I consider it rejectable by Occam's Razor.

Second, include the TSBK as data, not theory. Similarly mesorah is data,
not theory -- but the extent its content is more contravertable (c.f. that
dialogue between mytself and RnCL). To my mind, that's what we mean by
"emunah sheleimah" -- trust (/amn/) in its claims as certainty. The
theory therefore must explain not only the evidence, but the pasuq.

Now, what best fits -- a novel theory explaining the Torah's data points
combined with some mystical theory about human consciousness, or a novel
theory explaining the scientific evidence that allows one to take the
Torah at face value...

Or -- as I've been asserting here and at Aspaqlaria -- that the reality
of people who do not deserve/need the neis will not contain evidence
of that neis. Thus allowing full acknowledgement of the archeology and
geology, the human record left by those who did experience the neis,
and the traditional interpretation (read: TSBP) of the chumash.

Jumping back again:
:>> According to the Torah's account, once we go that far back those
:>> cultures weren't disconnected yet. The premise you give in the first
:>> line isn't a given.

: Sure it is -- becaue *within the time period mandated by the Torah
: Account* those cultures weren't connected.

According to the Torah's account, they were -- until Avraham's day. They
may not have been one culture as much as a set of cooperating cultures
(devarim achadim is lashon rabim, after all). Yes, once you start
unravelling one part of the story, none of it holds.

On Tue, Feb 28, 2006 (yes, more than a week ago) at 11:04:08AM UMT
Rn Chana Luntz wrote:
:>  From the gemara's usage, the expression refers to not using
:> extra words for dershen when they are used in common idiom...

: Using it to explain anthropomorphic idiom is, I belive, quite common
: amongst the classic meforshim: ...

Idiom in general. Which is not quite the same as allegory. I was writing
about patterns that I (with my paucity of knowledge) think I saw in the
gemara in particular. Not that the Rambam alone broadened the usage, but I
cited him because I coult cite the ikkar off-hand.

: But even more pointedly to this discussion, see the Ibn Ezra on Breishis
: 6:11 on "V'tishaches h'aretz" and his use of the phrase there.

:> But I do not see one in which we're expected to pin that
:> idiom down to the limitations of knowledge of people of a
:> given time or place. It's not like the Torah is giving a
:> verbatum quote of what Hashem told Noach -- Noach got a
:> vision, not a text!

: Why do you say that? It seems to me that in 6: 13-21 we are indeed being
: given the text of what Hashem said to Noach, and hence it would logically
: be couched in terms that Noach would understand...

Because, as Hashem tells Aharon and Miryam, "Peh el peh adabeir bo"
(Bamidbar 12:8) was what made Mosheh Rabbeinu's nevu'ah unique. See
Yesodei haTorah 7:3, the description of regular nevu'ah, vs halakah 6,
"... chutz miMosheh..." No navi other than MRAH recieved words/ideas
uncounched in prophetic vision. (With the possible exception of Bil'am,
depending on how we understand that medrash.)

And all of this goes beyond the simple "Torah can be idiomatic" and
into assigning a particular time or culture to the idiom. This was the
unproven assumption under discussion.

: Now you might say that in 7: 17-24 we have a description of what happened,
: not a quoted text - but to the extent it was a vision and not a text,
: again why is there any necessary reason to believe this is a descrption
: as it was as seen and understood by Hashem and not as seen and understood
: by Noach (and/or the dying members of the dor hamabul)?

Because Chazal, who knew of far more of the world than the alleged
localization of the flood, didn't. Chazal were citizens of an emptire
already including Britannia. Hadrian y"sh built that huge wall. So at
least by R' Aqiva's day (And likely centuries before), they had the
ability to frame the Torah in terms of global vs nonglobal flooding. And
yet they insisted on global (+/- Israel).

This goes beyond using dibrah Torah belashon benei adam as a proof that
the Torah wasn't speaking of all 5 continents, and saying that it allows
for it. Despite the single voice of the baalei mesorah otherwise.

I think we have reached the point where we each understand where the
other stands, the differences in how we define mesoretic silence such
that you include the globalness of the mabul and I do not, and must
simply agree to disagree.


Micha Berger             The purely righteous do not complain about evil,
micha@aishdas.org        but add justice, don't complain about heresy,
http://www.aishdas.org   but add faith, don't complain about ignorance,
Fax: (270) 514-1507      but add wisdom.     - R AY Kook, Arpilei Tohar

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