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Volume 16 : Number 155

Saturday, March 11 2006

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Thu, 09 Mar 2006 11:03:27 -0500
From: David E Cohen <ddcohen@verizon.net>
Re: Rabbeinu Tam's shikiyah

In his reply to me, R' Shalom Kohn wrote:
> Again, this is correct.  However, in virtually all circumstances
> (I did not model near-polar climates) these are times much
> shorter after sunset than per the Gra's 42 minutes after Sunset.

That's why I was confused. Where does the Gra mention 42 minutes
after sunset?

The common practice in E"Y, from what I understand, is when the sun is
8.5 degrees below the horizon, which ranges from 36 minutes after sunset
at the equinoxes to 42 minutes after sunset at the summer solstice (so
many people probably use 42 minutes year-round for simplicity's sake).
This was based on R' Yechiel Michel Tukaczinsky's observation that this
when 3 small stars are visible.

In New York, the amount of time that it takes the sun to get 8.5 degrees
below the horizon ranges from 41 minutes at the equinoxes to 51 minutes
at the summer solstice. Perhaps this is why R' Moshe Feinstein advocated
waiting 50 minutes year-round in New York (although he writes that this
is an implementation of the position of Rabbeinu Tam, which is a whole
other story).

In any case, the whole idea of looking to see when the stars are
actually visible, rather than just using the 3/4 mil (adjusted for date
and latitude), is based on the concern that the bein ha-shemashos of
R' Yosei could be long after that of R' Yehudah (much more than just
mahalakh 50 amos later, as per Tosafos). Is there any evidence that
the Gra shares this concern?


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Date: Thu, 9 Mar 2006 10:38:43 -0500 (EST)
From: "Micha Berger" <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: Evil

R Moshe Y. Gluck wrote:
> AIUI, Safer Iyov is about the question of evil happening to righteous
> people - not of the nature of evil itself. In any case, what I meant was
> that theologically Judaism has no problem with one deity encompassing dual
> roles of a contradictory nature....

We do so by declaring the reality to be more complex, but we produce
conflicting judgements based on how the behavior appears to us. This is
the Rambam's 1st category of Divine Attributes -- those which describe
how Hashem relates to us. R' Saadia Gaon divides that into attributes that
describe His actions, and those that are attributes of the relationship,
not G-d Himself.

To apply the same answer to evil would be to say that evil is an illusion,
an appearance created by our limited understanding of His Actions. Much
like the Ramban, attributing all suffering to sin, and therefore all
evil is simply justice in disguise.

Personally, I find that answer emotionally cold and not one I could
relate to.

But in any case, we do have a need to explain why evil exists while
the Creator is Absolutely Good. But we have several known answers. And
in fact, the notion that evil is not a beryah, but a vaccuum of tov,
is one of them.

>> Pacifism is objectively pro-Fascist. This is elementary common sense.
>> If you hamper the war effort of one side, you automatically help out
>> that of the other. (George Orwell, Partisan Review, 1942)

> Perhaps, by hampering the war effort of one side, I just allow the other
> side to be successful all by itself? I think George Orwell would agree
> with me. Hashem created good and he created evil.

This is actually closer to defining evil as an absence than a beryah
bifnei atzmah. It's not about the person who chooses to be a Fascist,
but about the person who creates a gap in the WWII era anti-Fascist
effort. In the same way that is pro-Fascist, creating pockets where tov
does not exist is the creation of evil.


Micha Berger             The Maharal of Prague created a golem, and
micha@aishdas.org        this was a great wonder. But it is much more
http://www.aishdas.org   wonderful to transform a corporeal person into a
Fax: (270) 514-1507      "mensch"!     -Rabbi Israel Salanter

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Date: Thu, 9 Mar 2006 09:17:17 -0600
From: "Kohn, Shalom" <skohn@Sidley.com>
RE: Rabbeinu Tam's shikiyah

R. David E Cohen wrote: 
> Assuming a 12-hour day and 24-minute mil for the sake of mathematical
> simplicity, wouldn't the Yere'im's 3/4 mil be from 5:42 to 6:00, and
> Rabbeinu Tam's 3/4 mil (which would now be the same as that of the
> ge'onim) be from 6:00 to 6:18? Or am I misunderstanding something?

I'm not sure at this point re: the Yere'im, but you are correct re:
R. Tam.

He also wrote:
> How is the question of whether we use a fixed number of minutes or the
> depression of the sun under the horizon dependent on the machalokes
> Rabbeinu Tam vs. the geonim and the Gra?

I don't think it is. However, if one used the measure of depression of
the sun and tries for consistency, you get a much different result than
a fixed number of minutes, as per the Gra.

He also wrote:
> Furthermore, unless you're at a latitude that's closer to the equator
> than that of Eretz Yisrael and Bavel, I would think that using the
> depression of the sun is always going to lengthen the time of bein
> ha-shemashos, since the fixed length of time is taken to mean the
> depression of the sun that amount of time time after sunset, at the
> equinoxes at the latitude of E"Y and Bavel, and the sun will take longer
> to get to that depression at any other time of the year, or at a latitude
> that's further from the equator.

Again, this is correct. However, in virtually all circumstances (I did
not model near-polar climates) these are times much shorter after sunset
than per the Gra's 42 minutes after Sunset. Exactly which depression
angle is used depends on which time of year we assume the 3/4 mil measure
applied, since there are seasonal variations in the depression required
to yield that figure, because of the inclination of the earth.

                           Shalom L. Kohn

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Date: Thu, 09 Mar 2006 16:06:26 -0500
From: Jacob Farkas <jfarkas@compufar.com>
Re: The Beginning of a Pshetl

> REMT corrected me privately. It's unlikely there is much semantic
> connection between "maneh" (the weight) and "manah" (the portion).
> Any more than either of them are connected to "man" (the food that fell
> from the sky).
> I also noticed, "maneh" is Aramaic, "manah", Hebrew.

Monim from Pittum haQtores comes to mind as the plural form of Moneh.
But since when is that M'Akev for Purim Torah?

Aramaic is found in the Megillah, as well as other "foreign" words.

Moneh [The weight], is Hebrew though.

Jacob Farkas

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Date: Thu, 09 Mar 2006 15:20:51 -0500
From: Zev Sero <zev@sero.name>
Re: Room Service

"reuven koss" <kmr5@zahav.net.il>
> There are hotels with kitchenettes i.e. lev yerushalayim, also one could
> get take out food that is fleishig and use milchik keilim or get pizza
> sent to the hotel...

What kind of hotel with kitchenettes also has room service? AFAIK LY
isn't a hotel at all, it's serviced apartments, which is something
very different.

And why would someone who is bringing in food from the outside also
order expensive room service? Room service is davka for when you can't
get decent food from outside, or it's too much trouble.

Zev Sero

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Date: Thu, 9 Mar 2006 11:44:00 -0800 (PST)
From: Harry Maryles <hmaryles@yahoo.com>
Re: Aseres Benei Haman

On 3/9/06, SBA <sba@sba2.com> wrote:
> The minhag - at least wherever I have ever heard the Megilla -
> has been that theTzibbur says [loudly] the Aseres Bnei Haman followed
> by the baal koreh.
> I notice the the KSA 141:14 writes that it is 'eino minhag nachon'.
> Similarly the MB 690:15 [as per Chayei Adam] writes: 'eino nachon'.
> So are there places where it is NOT done?

Yeshivas Brisk (in Chicago) does not. Only the Baal Koreh does it
BNishima Achas.


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Date: Thu, 9 Mar 2006 15:17:45 -0500
From: "David Guttmann" <david@ihwusa.com>
Chazal, science, and halacha

R.Micha Berger wrote:
>If you reach the conclusion of the chapter, you see that the Rambam's
>objection isn't limited to those ideas which "negate MUCH of the
>Torah". But rather, he rejects any interpretation which those steeped
>in Torah ("hamaskil") know are false.

I disagree and I will address this separately . It is a "lange maaseh".
While I am at it I want to appologize to all especially RSC for using sharp
language sometime in the heat of the moment. I am not a Cohen but picked up
the bad habits only unfortunately.. 

>The overwhelming number of experts in the field believe they have
> conclusively disproven the possibility of 3 million people crossing the
> midbar and needing to fight, rather than simply numerically overwhelm
> by an order of magnitude, the population of Canaan at the time.

You are right that it is too broad. Not all science has the same level
of certainty. Especially when dealing with history one has to be very
careful and selective. However when it comes to the exact sciences it is
dangerous to go against it especially nowadays when a lot of physics has
been demonstrated. Trying to argue that the earth is the center of the
Solar system should not be attempted. Nor dating a global flood 4500
years ago is possible. There are too many archeological artifacts to
prove otherwise. We have to be very careful in this area. I therefore
try to avoid this direction and concentrate on the meaning behind the
stories in Chumash and the deeper meaning of chazal. I found that doing
that we get much more and the divrei Torah become "mesukim midvash".

David Guttmann

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Date: Thu, 09 Mar 2006 16:19:05 -0500
From: Jacob Farkas <jfarkas@compufar.com>
Re: Aseres Benei Haman

On 3/9/06, SBA <sba@sba2.com> wrote:
>> The minhag - at least wherever I have ever heard the Megilla -
>> has been that theTzibbur says [loudly] the Aseres Bnei Haman followed
>> by the baal koreh. ...
>> Similarly the MB 690:15 [as per Chayei Adam] writes: 'eino nachon'.
>> So are there places where it is NOT done?

From: "Simon Montagu" <simon.montagu@gmail.com>
> I have never seen this minhag. Does it arise from a hashash that if the
> baal kore reads the names too quickly the tzibbur is not yotse?

I recall a Pshat I once heard quoting the Rogatchover that the reason
the Tzibbur reads the Aseres Bnei Haman is because Shomay'ah K'Oneh does
not apply for the din of N'Sheema Ahas required for the reading of the
Aseres Bnei Haman.

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Date: Thu, 9 Mar 2006 23:43:51 +0200
From: "reuven koss" <kmr5@zahav.net.il>
Re: Aseres Benei Haman

Date: Thu, 9 Mar 2006 15:48:01 +1100
> The minhag - at least wherever I have ever heard the Megilla -
> has been that theTzibbur says [loudly] the Aseres Bnei Haman followed
> by the baal koreh.
> So are there places where it is NOT done?

There are some Sefaradim who do not lain them aloud. b'didi hava uvda
that i lained for somebody b'yichidus and he didn't say them.


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Date: Thu, 9 Mar 2006 15:53:51 -0600
From: "Marty Bluke" <marty.bluke@gmail.com>
RE: Asseres B'nei Haman

The Rogatchover and others explain this as follows. You are yotze krias
hamegilla with shomea k'oneh. However, there is an inyan (minhag) that
the Asseres Bnei Haman should be said b'neshima achas. Neshima Achas
you cannot be yotze with shomea k'oneh and therefore everyone has to
say it themselves. This really boils down to a chakira of what is the
nature of shomea k'oneh, is it as if I had said the words, or is it
that I am yotze with your dibbur. A similar machlokes applies by Bircas
Cohanim whether one cohain can recite the beracha for everyone is there
a problem of kol ram).

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Date: Thu, 9 Mar 2006 19:20:50 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Eliezer eved Avraham

Izzy (3rd grade) and I are doing homework, and he asked me the following.
When I told him I didn't know, he asked me to "ask the guys on your
email list".

Through most of the story of bringing home Rivqa, Eliezer is identified
by name. Until pasuq 52, in which "eved Avraham" -- no name given --
hears and accepts the offer of Rivqa for a bride.

I suggested that perhaps it was because Eliezer didn't want to do it;
after all, accepting Lavan and Besu'el's offer meant that his own
daughter wouldn't marry Yitzchaq. Thus, he acted only as eved Avraham,
not in his own role as Eliezer.

But I lacked the ability to check every case of Eliezer vs eved Avraham
and the parallel case of Par'oh vs melekh Mitzrayim to confirm or disprove
this idea.


Micha Berger             One doesn't learn mussar to be a tzaddik,
micha@aishdas.org        but to become a tzaddik.
http://www.aishdas.org                         - Rav Yisrael Salanter
Fax: (270) 514-1507      

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Date: Fri, 10 Mar 2006 07:09:24 -0500
From: "Allen Gerstl" <acgerstl@hotmail.com>

Dear Avodah members:

I have posted a teshuvah in Igrot Mosheh to Avodah pdf archives that I
hope will be of interest.
I recently obtained access to the Bar Ilan disc and in browsing through
the its index of SH"T topics the found an teshuvah in Igrot Moshe that I
consider especially worth noting. In it Rav Moshe defines the purpose of
his publishing his teshuvot and moreover he defines horaah. IIUC he states
that Horaah today involves pesak for an individual questioner based on a
actual existing case and that only a Sanhedrin can authoritatively decide
theoretical cases.A posek should attempt to thoroughly understand the
issues. ( Later in that teshuvah Rav Moshe adds reasons why translations
of Seforim are allowable, however I posted the teshuvah because of the
Horaah discussion only.)


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Date: Sat, 11 Mar 2006 21:50:32 +0200
From: "Akiva Atwood" <akiva.atwood@gmail.com>
machine matzohs: Reasons for...

 From my LOR -- can anyone help?

> Question--

> To the best of my knowledge, very little is published to explain the
> reasons for those who preferred machine matzohs—the published literature
> is mostly about whether it is asur (Rav Shomo Kluger, Sho'el umeisheiv,
> Maharsham, R Yeshoshua Kutno, Avnei Nezer, Divrei Chayim etc.) and
> whether it qualifies as lishmah (Achiezer, Chesed L'Avroham, etc.).

> Do you know -- and more particularly have you seen published -- the
> reasons for those who preferred machine matzoh to hand?

Most people act on their own account; they pursue personal ambitions
without seeking God's guidance and grace. By asserting the self they
will achieve nothing.

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Date: Sat, 11 Mar 2006 20:33:02 -0500
From: "Cantor Wolberg" <cantorwolberg@cox.net>

Interestingly, remembering Amalek is a Mitzvah d'oraita. If so, why is
there no b'rocho made prior to reading it?

The reason I've seen is that one doesn't make a b'rocho involving
destruction. Reb Micha gave another good answer. If you made a b'rocho
first, you already will have fulfilled remembering. Anyone have any
other ideas?

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Date: Fri, 10 Mar 2006 16:10:49 +0000
From: Chana Luntz <Chana@kolsassoon.org.uk>
Re: Geocentrism and relativity (was RE: Chazal, science, and halacha)

RMB writes:
>:> 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.)

I agree that Moshe's navuah was unique, but the description you then
draw appears rather narrower than it need be.

But regardless, does this not rather produce another problem. In the
case of later neviim, we understand that they were given a vision, and
translated it into their own words - so that eg, the words of Yesheyahu
are his, albeit that the vision is from Hashem. HaTorah dibra b'loshon
benei adam indeed.

But in the case of Noach, whose words then are the words which are
expressed by the Torah to be teh words of Hashem to Noach? If we were
following the general pattern (ie the non Moshe pattern) you would
expect them to be Noach's words - which if anything is more likely to
be subjective than what I was suggesting.

If these are not Noach's direct words as he understood the nevuah,
then is not the only other answer that this is Hashem's explanation
of the way that Noach understood his nevuah - as transmitted to Moshe
(ie part and parcel of the transmission of Torah, and the Peh el peh).

Once you agree that this is part and parcel of a nevuah of Noach, then
the conclusion would seem to follow.

>: 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).

Just so we can be sure we are talking about the same things - can you
provide the language in which Chazal "insisted on global". Mostly what
we have had from others up until now is an interpretation of the pshat
of the Torah - ie the word "kol" must mean "global". Where though do
you see this explicitly in Chazal? Even the discussion of Eretz Yisroel
is not phrased as "all the world was flooded except Eretz Yisroel" type
statements - but purely in terms of what did or did not happen to Eretz
Yisroel (ie to the center of the world, the place where man was created,
the land with intrinsic kedusha, the site of the Beis Hamikdash etc), and
whether or not Og could or could not have escaped the mabul by fleeing
to Eretz Yisroel. It seems to me precisely the logical jump you are
seeking to avoid to go from that to "insisted on global" rather than -
were not interested on discussions of global, because the rest of the
world was not of any particular importance (including obscure locations
where the mad Romans were building walls). On the other hand "Chazal"
is a very wide field, and I hardly claim to know all of it.

Shabbat Shalom
Chana Luntz

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Date: Sun, 12 Mar 2006 01:35:48 -0000
From: "Chana Luntz" <chana@kolsassoon.org.uk>
RE: the Mabul

>RMB wrote:
> Rn Chana Luntz wrote:
>> Bottom line, you don't need any of the narrative in Breishis at all to 
>> derive any of the things you refer to above. All that is really needed 
>> to be learnt from Breishis is that Hashem has the right to give Eretz 
>> Yisroel to the Jewish people.

> Well... that's a bit of an overstatement. That was sufficient 
> reason to start the Torah at Bereishis. But most of the 
> examples for vehalakhta bidrakhav come from Bereishis 
> (clothing Adam veChava, biqur choleh for Avraham, etc...), as 
> does the whole concept of Bereishis as Seifer haEisanim or 
> Seifer haYashar.

We are not really disagreeing here. The Ramban I quoted at some length
himself goes to stress the moral message to be learnt out of the fact that
if one does not act correctly one is likely to be exiled from one's land.
The point rather is that the fundamentals we learn out of Breishis are
what might best be termed moral messages - which includes vehalachta
bidrakhav, the whoe concept of Seifer HaYashar etc.

To the extent that a there is a choice between abandoning the literal
translation and the moral message, one's instincts should therefore be
towards the moral message.

> At least we're not 
> limited to "we must reinterpret the Torah to fit 
> archeological interpretation", and RnCL offers mesoretic 
> reasons to question the global flood. (Again, with my 
> definition of "mesorah" as "given at Sinai or implied by that 
> which was given there, with no other synthetic judgements".)

> My disagreement is therefore out of the realm of 
> fundamentals, and into something much more minor. Didn't 
> Chazal already ask a related question WRT "qeitz kol basar ba 
> lefanai" and suggest that since the world exists for people, 
> human corruption influences the world at large -- so that 
> even animal behavior degenerated? If so, then people living 
> in the Middle East are the reason for dingo behavior in 
> Australia, and therefore "qeitz qol dingo ba lefanai".

Ah, but this is the same issue.

Perhaps it would help if I effectively recapped.

What is it about the wording of the description of the mabul in the Torah
that would lead one to think that we are talking about something global?
As I mentioned in my post on erev Shabbas (not yet posted on Avodah as I
am writing this motzei shabbas) the key language that would lead somebody
to that conclusion is the use of "kol" in various places. "Kol haharim"
"kol ha'aretz" etc. The most straightforward way to translate Kol is as
"all", meaning 100% - and certainly this is the way the Xtians, with
their literalistic bent, understand it.

There is also a subsidiary argument that when there is the use of the
term "es" as in "es ha'aretz" that implies "all", but obviously that is
less straightforward.

Now again, your argument above hinges on how you translate the word "kol"
and an assumption that "kol basar" means all animals everywhere (I think
when you talk about dingos you mean to talk about kangaroos, dingos
are a more complex case, as they may well only ever have accompanied
human beings). Whereas the way one would learn "kol basar" as I have
articulated it is "all animals who have come into contact with human
beings". Hence yes, human corruption influences animal behaviour -
but only those animals that have any contact (direct or indirect) with
human beings. A kangaroo that has never been anywhere near even another
animal that has had contact with a human being is not therefore included
within "kol basar" in the pasuk.

Now when this issue first came up, I thought it intuitively obvious that
if we show that Chazal did not necessarily learn "kol" as meaning all
or 100%, then that was the end of the story.

I therefore brought two cases:

A) the case of Og and Sichon: The torah says that kol basar was destroyed
other than Noach and those on the teva. Once you acknowledge that there
may have been even two who were not in that category, without Chazal
blinking, then the assertion that Chazal clearly understood Kol to mean
100% disappears.

B) the case of Eretz Yisroel: Once you say that you can have a debate
about whether or not Eretz Yisroel is flooded without everybody jumping
up and down and saying, but "Kol" means "all", then it seemed to me
obvious that Chazal had no problem with kol not meaning all.

In the case you now bring of "kol basar" being corrupted, there is
something of a proof from the Torah itself that this does not mean 100%
- because the traditional understanding of "l'minehu" (Breishis 6:2)
is that the animals that Noach took onto the ark had not in fact been
corrupted (see Rashi there).

Now in response I was met with what was effectively a kind of "rubo
k'kulo" type argument - ie the majority is like all (which is of course a
halachic concept). Now I can certainly see that in terms of the animals -
if 99% were corrupted, the fact that Noach managed two (or seven) that
were not is arguably not that significant to the argument.

I can also somewhat see that with Og and Sichon - although it seems
slightly harder to me to assert their insignificance given that they
play a documented part in the Torah later on.

But the implication that Eretz Yisroel is insignificant in Chazal's
thought, so that one can hand wave and say well it does not matter
flabbagasted me. Yes I agree that geographically that might be true
in terms of the global spread of the earth. But as I have mentioned,
Eretz Yisroel is, to Chazal, the center of the world. To some it is
the only place that mitzvas can be done in a d'orisa sense. It is
the place where the shechina dwells. It is HaAretz par excellence -
to talk about kol ha'aretz and then contemplate excluding HaAretz says
very strong things about the meaning of kol. That is what I was trying
to stress above by bringing the Ramban. The description of the creation
of ha'aretz was bshvil ha'aretz (eretz yisroel). The fact of a machlokus
of this magnitude recorded in Chazal seemed to me to make it clear that
Chazal just didn't see the necessity of kol as being understood the way
the Xtians understand it.

Interestingly, this rather reminds me of another rather similar case.
The argument that was allegedly put to Cromwell as to why he should
let the Jews back into England was this: It says in the Torah that
the Jews will be scattered "b'kol ha'amim" and "v'ad ketz ha'aretz"
(devarim 28:64) - and this is clearly a precursor to the "end of days"
(regardless of how you understand that) throughout Nach. But, there were
(at the time) no Jews in England. Therefore, by not allowing Jews in
England, Cromwell was holding up the end of days. The story goes that
Cromwell, as good Xtian, bought this, and permitted Jews to settle.

But of course this is not a Jewish interpretation. If it were, then
it was not only that Rabbi Akiva was wrong about Bar Kochva, but he was
unable correctly inteprete a few psukim. Because he would surely have been
aware that there were no Jews amongst the Picts and Scots (of which he
should also have known, as the Romans were at the time building a wall
to keep them out), Germanic tribes etc etc. And likewise it is a bit
useless for the Rambam to go suggesting that people in his era wait for
Moshiach every day - since the Australian Aborigines, American Indians,
Eskimos etc had not yet been discovered by Jews, much less were the Jews
scattered amongst them.

Rather, I believe the Jewish interpretation of the various uses of the
word "kol" when discussing Jewish disbursal and subsequent gathering was
more along the lines of "many" "most of those known to us" (excluding
irrelevancies like wild men in Scotland or whatever).

> On a different note, RnCL writes:
>> ... It is a bit like flooding your entire three story house 
> in order 
>> to drown a spider in the basement bathtub. ...Sure you 
> might want to 
>> kill the spider, but any sense of proportionality is rather lacking.

> What's the proportionality between the size of the universe 
> and the percentage that supports sentient life? Perhaps 
> disproportion in space is just the very way to teach the 
> disproportionate value.

The disproportion in space is in itself an interesting question.

Of course, first you have to decide, given that the Torah divides the
universe into "hashamayim" and "ha'aretz", which space is.  If you say
"ha'aretz" which is what you seem to be suggesting above, then if you
hold by a literal understanding of the word "kol", I don't really
understand why you don't say that space was flooded too.  And after all,
there are mountains on the moon and mars.

If you say that actually space is "shamayim", then does not your
proportionality issue disappear?

More than that though, and whichever way you understand it - there is
clear and direct value to human beings from seeing the stars, no matter
how far away they may be (even dark matter, if it exists, and holds the
universe together, has a clear benefit to human beings).     That is,
these things are a chessed of Hashem.  And the usual association with
chessed is precisely its bountiful, abundant nature and the lack of

On the other hand, the mabul was clearly a case of din, not chessed.  It
is to din, not chessed, that a concept of mida kneged mida is generally

So no, I don't think they are the same thing at all.

RZL writes:
> RCL: 
>> Just how many people were there in existance at the time Hashem created
>> the heaven and the earth? ;=) 

> Your original point involved the perception of whomever 
> Hashem was speaking to when He described an event (e.g., 
> Noach re: the Mabul). Regarding Creation, this would involve 
> Adam and/or Moses/the people at Mattan Torah. The (by 
> definition) absence of people witnessing Creation is irrelevant. 

Sorry, I shouldn't use humour, even with a smiley, somebody might take
me seriously.  It was an attempt to lighten up before getting to the
more serious bits, but obviously it didn't work.

>> When Rambam calls this belief in creation of the universe ex nihilo an 
>> ikkar
>> hadaas, perhaps he was only referring to the parts of the earth and the 
>> universe /he/ was aware of? 

We are discussing here principles of interpretation of the Torah.
Nobody suggests that one darshans the Rambam based on the shlosh esrei
midos hatorah nidreshes behen (for example).  HaTorah dibra b'lashon
bnei adam is a principle of Torah intepretation, which, inter alia, is
used to help us undertand when we are not to take matters literally
(such as Hashem's "hand").

If you want to get into a wider discussion about Humpty Dumpty (a la
Lewis Carroll) and deconstruction and whether words ever hold their
meaning, there are hundreds if not thousands of philosophical works to
look at, and we are hardly going to make much headway with the question

The key issue at hand is, as I mention above, how does one understand
the word "kol" as used by the Torah in this context (and less so other
language to describe the mabul), no more, no less.

But that of necessity gets us into the deeper question as to what it is
that the Torah wished to convey by its message.  Because of the
complexity of the Torah, that is a lot less straightforward than
somebody like the Rambam whose aim is to communicate ideas as simply and
straightfowardly as possible.  In fact the Rambam is at one extreme,
because of his clarity, there are people (eg the Ramban in places) who
when they are hinting at nistar, are much less clear, but again that is
part of the message they are trying to convey.

And obviously the Torah is in category of its own, which is why it has
special principles for darshening etc.

But even so, it is important to get a grasp on what the message or
messages the Torah is attempting to convey.  Ie is the Mabul just some
historical account, or are there other messages.  How does the Torah use
language.  To what extent is it appropriate to treat such language
literally and when (eg ayin tachas ayin).  You need to take into account
other psukim.  You need to bring all that to bear when trying to
understand anything from the Torah.

> Another question: Just as the Ramban says the ultimate lesson 
> to be gained from Breishes 1-2 could be learned from the one 
> posuk in asseress hadibros, couldn't R. Yitzchak's lesson 
> from Breishis 1-11 also be learned from just the pesukim the 
> Ramban referenced (Tehillim
> 111:6): "and he gave to them the lands of the nations and 
> they inherited the work of the peoples that they might keep 
> his laws and his Torah" and/or Vayikra 20:22-23, "And you 
> shall keep all my chukim and all my mishpattim andperfrom 
> them, and the land will not vomit you out...and you shall not 
> follow that chukos hagoy who I am sending from before you, 
> because they did all these and I abhored them")? So how does 
> Ramban's explanation explain why, after all, parshas 
> Bereishis 1-11 was written?

I suspect that Tehillim is not a good enough source to prove the point.
After all, it was written by Dovid Hamelech after we were in the land
already.  And the pasuk from the Torah again is about *our* relationship
to the land, not about the justifability of Hashem's actions in the eyes
of the goyim, and their consistency throughout history which the Ramban
stresses.  I think you are therefore slightly missing the point here -
to the Ramban, it is the moral lessons of Breishis that are key.  That
sin brings on punishment and that good behaviour is rewarded is
therefore the central message.  But once you are given that message,
there are many subsidiary messages to be learnt - because in describing
sin, you learn much about what actions are sinful and in describing good
behaviour you learn much.  The cases that RMB brings above are all
linked to these - what is chessed, what is tzidkus, what is rishus -
there is a lot to learn, and much ink needed.

And of course once Torah is written, it is of course Torah - with all
that implies (including its nature of being made up of divine names, and
all the aspects of nistar etc to be learnt).  It is more a question of
what is the ikar driving force behind it being frame in this way, not
that there is not much to be learnt with many many different facets once
this particular frame has been chosen.

>> If you postulate a global flood, that "moral" message is 
> actually not
>> so clear. ...Because it is clear from the pshat of the Torah, that
>> the numbers of people at the time of Noach were not really 
> very many,
>> compared with today's teeming billions.

> You don't know that. Each of the parents begot, in addition 
> to the male offspring named, additional unnamed and 
> unnumbered "bannim ubanos." You don't know the population 
> results over the 1600-or-so years in question, begotten by 
> people who lived and procreated over extremely long lifetimes 
> (although evidently only after an unusually late start!). 

Well, what we do know is what happens when a people are given a specific
bracha to multiply, as happened to the bnei yisroel in Egypt.  

In the post flood environment, it is usual to allow 25 years a
generation - meaning that for the duration of the period in Egypt you
have around 8-9 generations, plus the couple that came down to Egypt.
We are describing, give or take 10 generations.

There were ten generations before the mabul.  While I do not think it
unreasonable to say that those before the mabul multipled at around the
rate of the benei yisroel in Egypt (although the bnei yisroel would seem
to have been given a special blessing, reversing the klala on Chava, see
the midwives to paro, something that would not seem to have been the
case for the generations immediately post Chava), it seems rather more
difficult to say that the generations before the mabul were multiplying
at a vastly faster rate than the bnei yisroel, who had been given a
specific divine blessing to multiply.  Banim u'banos certainly is a
rather trivial description in that case.

But the numbers of the bnei yisroel were minute compared with the
teeming billions of today, which is what you need to postulate for the
kind of global spread you are demanding.

> RCL: 
>> Nor were they very spread out (the spreading out, according to the 
>> explicit text of the Torah came after the mabul).

> You must be confusing what the Torah says about the 
> centralized population /after/ the mabul with the 
> widely-spread (Breishis 6:1) geological distribution of 
> population /before/ the mabul. 

All 6:1 says is that "v'yehi ki hechel ha'adam l'rov al pnei hadama".
It does not talk about disbursing and scattering, only multiplying.  And
even when it comes to multiplying, there is pru, and v''yishratzu and
u'rbu and v'yatzmu b' meod meod and v'timale ha'aretz (all discriptions
of what happened to the Bnei Yisroel in shmos 1:7).  The bnei mabul are
described using only one of these, and one of the middle ones.  Based on
Shmos, you rather struggle to say that they spread anywhere near as far
as the bnei yisroel did in Egypt.

> RCL: 
>> And they were a society where it might reasonably be expected that,
>> without mobile telephones, the internet, supersonic 
> aeroplanes or even 
>> writing, people could potentially be influenced by a man staying in 
>> one spot and building an ark (that was the whole point of 
> the teva) ... 

> You don't even know that. (And from where did you get the 
> idea that they couldn't write?) I know it's hard to pull 
> oneself away from common storybook conceptions, but that fact 
> is that we have no idea about the status of technological 
> advancement gained by the pre-mabul generations -- who had 
> more time for such development than we've had since the 
> Industrial Revolution, lived longer lives, and possibly had 
> no language or geographic boundaries to contend with. You 
> don't know about any of these things before the mabul, 
> because whatever was there was destroyed. (Did you by any 
> chance see my post about the clothing styles of the pre-mabul 
> society? :-))

Well, I confess I never thought of Rashi as a common storybook, but he
says in explaining Noach's name that that generation had no tools for
plowing, and hence the land produced thorns and thistles, until Noach
came along and invented them.  That doesn't sound like an advanced state
of technological development to me (and he was from the last
generation).  I think other meforshim take a different view, but they
tend to take a more aggadic, midrashic view in general, whereas in this
I have been trying to stick reasonably closely to the pshat and Rashi.

Regarding the writing, I think it is a maklokus as to what "ze sefer
toldos Adam" means.  Some hold is was a real sefer, and some (like
Rashi) that it just means an account of the descendents of Adam.  

> Actually, not all: There are meforshim who say the trees 
> (miraculously) were not affected. That's why the dove could 
> find a leaf afterwards, and that's why the Torah never 
> mentions that the trees were destroyed. (And that's how we 
> may still see trees that were created and formed at Ma'aseh 
> Braishis in an advanced stage -- but that's another subject...)

Sorry, when I used the phrase "reached to touch", I was thinking about
the classic explanation of what that corruption meant, which is sex and
violence (particularly inter species relations - see Rashi again) -
neither of which is particularly applicable to trees.  The most
straightforward explanation of what was going on was that the human
beings engaged in bestiality and violence towards animals (as well as
the sexual immorality and violence towards one another) and the animals
learnt from that.  This is not something particularly surprising - it
would not surprise me if there are studies showing that animals (eg
dogs) treated violently when young grow up violent, even if their nature
is not intrinsically violent - and will then treat their offspring
violently in return - and similarly animals that were the subject of
beastiality at a young age might reasonably be expected to be confused
once they were old enough to initiate.  

> RCL... 
>> you have an enormous flood over vast vast expanses of virgin land 
>> mass, which incidentally picked off the few humans that were clustered 
>> in one tiny geographical area.

> On the contrary: Without the global event of the Mabul, one 
> might think that the misdeeds of humans (regardless of their 
> numbers or geographic
> spread) are not something the Creator of the entire Universe 
> would be very obsessed over.
> So they misbehaved; is that the end of the world?
> Yes, it's the End of The World.

But it wasn't.

If the story was that the world had returned to Tohu v'vohu, then
that would be something else - that would indeed convey your message.
But it doesn't propose that either. The world remains, the mountains
remain, even perhaps the trees remain, according to many the fish remain
(and don't lets get into the stars and moon and heavens). So it was
not the end of the world at all. It was, according to your account,
just a rather wet world with rather high seas all over. So neither is
there any proportionality or link to mankind, not any link to the end
of the universe.

> Hmmm... too bad Chazal and rishonim missed out on the true 
> proportionality and the mida kneged mida aspect of the Mabul. 
> Ramban (on 8:5), for example, assumed that the Mabul was 
> global and therefore covered the mountains of Greece. 

Um, Turkey and Greece are next door to one another. It is very simple
to take a boat from Turkey to Greece - think it took me less than a
hour when I was travelling there - and those boats don't go very fast.
And each of the islands is a short boat hop to the next - so they are
well within an ark's reach. Ramban in fact was asking about why Ararat
was selected as the highest mountain when there is another mountain
just down the way, namely Mount Olympus, which is known to be higher.
Given that we know that Ararat was in Turkey, ie that Turkey was flooded,
it is pretty close to inconceivable that Greece was not flooded without
any assumptions of globality, which you are therefore reading into this.
Hence the Ramban's question.

I think in contrast to you, that Chazal were very aware of the mida kneged
mida aspect of the Mabul, that that is precisely how they understood it.
It is rather us, with our modern knowledge which involves imposing an
understanding that they never had, one that loses the mida kneged mida
aspects. The bit that you might say they "missed" if you wanted to,
was the size of the globe - but I don't really think it was a matter
of missing it either. I don't think they were very interested - the
rest of the globe is and was of trivial importance to them - in their
times there was no Torah there and no Jewish people, and in the times of
Noach, no people at all. It is us that places the significance on the
rest of the globe - perhaps because we live there and therefore feel
the need to impose our understandings on the psukim, to stretch them
as far as, America or Australia or wherever. I am also not sure how
driven this is by Xtian understandings. The strongest supporters of
the global mabul tend to be various of the American churches, and they
also often have theologies that place particular emphases on America.
The idea that America might be too trivial a place to have been flooded
would rather be an anathema to them. In contrast, America only matters
to us because Jews have now moved there, and it is now a makom Torah,
so I think perspectives diverge somewhat at this point.

> I have a secret. (Said Rebbi Yochonon, '...Oy li if I say it 
> oy li if I don't say it...Said Rav Shmuel bar Rav Yitzchak: 
> 'Say it! "For the ways of Hashem are straight: tsadikim will 
> go in them but the posh'im will trip up in them. -- BB 89b.) 
> I did come across a single commentary that says a detail of 
> the flood given in the narrative is describing Noach's 
> perception, but not reality: Chizkuni on Breishis 7:24 ("And 
> the waters prevailed upon the earth 150 days") writes: The 
> posuk is speaking according to Noach's perception ('acher 
> machashvaso shel Noach'), as if the waters did not [begin to] 
> diminish until the ark rested on the mountains of Ararat. But 
> the truth is that they began to wane from the 28th of Sivan, 
> when the rains ceased, as [the Torah] goes on to explain the 
> sequence."

Nice Chezkuni (funny I went looking in the Chezkuni as I had a vague
recollection he had said something like this, and couldn't find it when
I needed it, so figured I must have imagined it).

> But of course this concept is a tool used sparingly to 
> maintain the sense of the Torah account as it has always been 
> understood, and to conform p'sukim. Not a hatchet to bludgeon 
> what the p'sukim as understood by the mesorah mean.

Which of course is precisely what I am arguing this is doing - ie
maintaining the sense of the Torah account as it has always been


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