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Volume 16 : Number 160

Thursday, March 16 2006

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Date: Thu, 16 Mar 2006 16:55:34 +1100
From: "SBA" <areivim@sba2.com>
Re: jewish identification

From: Jacob Farkas <>
Daseyhem does not refer to external appearance. ..
The Gemara in Megillah 13b elaborates on Haman's propaganda, ...
as they won't eat from us or marry us, V'Es Dosei Hamelekh Eynom Osim,
D'Mafki L'Kula Shata BeSh"Hi UP"Hi (Shabbos Hayom Pesach Hayom), they
won't work on Shabbos and Yom Tov, and thus won't earn any taxable
income. Haman's propaganda was aimed at a nation who may very well have
tried to blend in, but were nonetheless "different" because of Kashrus,
Marriage, and Shabbos/Yom Tov.

Indeed the Targum Sheni tells us ALL the LH that Haman said about Jews.
[A bit like what ones can read these days in the Haaretz and certain
blogs about charedim..].
But the thing I didn't see there was any complaint that they dress

BTW, Haman did complain about Jews going to Florida in winter and
Switzerland in summer... [Well, something like that..ayen shom on
'Mefuzor umeforod bein ho'amim']


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Date: Thu, 16 Mar 2006 09:31:16 +0100
From: Minden <phminden@arcor.de>
Re: "Verabim me'amei ha'aretz misyahadim",

> Which gives me the opportunity to offer 2 peshotim in "Verabim me'amei
>ha'aretz misyahadim", with 'amei 'ha'aretz' being the Jews..
> 1) That they no longer were ashamed to wear their distinctive Jewish
> malbushim - 'misyahadim' = it was noticed that they were Jews.
> 2) That 'amei ha'aaretz' refers to non-frum Jews who because of the
> events in the Megilla - 'misyahadim' - became BTs..

Or, many people were so afraid that they pretended to be Jews, like some
Nazis in South America after the war.


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Date: Thu, 16 Mar 2006 09:27:44 +0200
From: "Eli Turkel" <eliturkel@gmail.com>
Re: jewish identification

On 3/16/06, Zev Sero <zev@sero.name> wrote:
> It seems to me rather that Jews were distinguished, but somewhat obscure.
> Most people had never heard of Jews, or at least had never knowingly
> met one.  Haman could tell that Mordechai was a member of some sort of
> strange ethnic group, which is "shoneh mikol am", but he didn't know which
> one until he had occasion to ask.

Could be
It doesnt answer the questions about the medrashim that Haman and
Mordecai knew each other before or that Mordecai had previously worked
for the King.
It certainly disagree with the mesdrashim (that I don't understand) that
places the bet hamikdash in the center of the story of Purim. Without
knowing anything about Esther, the king offers her everything except
for rebuilding the bet hamikdash. Also the kings wears the clothing
of the cohen gadol at the banquet. Chazal make it sound like the major
policy question of the entire kingdom revolved abou= t the Jews and
Eretz Yisroel. I just read an article in a book that interprets th=
e entire Megilla from beginning to end as a fight over the Bet Hamikdash.

Eli Turkel

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Date: Thu, 16 Mar 2006 03:46:37 -0500
From: "Moshe Y. Gluck" <mslatfatf@access4less.net>
Jewish Identification

A number of posters wanted to say that Mordechai was not recognizable
as a Jew, and that is why it says, "Ki higidu lo es am Mordechai." I
understood p'shat in the pasuk that certainly Haman knew that Mordechai
was Jewish, as it is clearly stated by Chazal that Haman and Mordechai
had a longstanding adversarial relationship. What bothered Haman was that
OTHER people were telling him, "Ha! The Jew got you good!" He couldn't
handle that, and that's why he got so angry.


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Date: Thu, 16 Mar 2006 05:34:33 -0500
From: "Michael Y. Kopinsky" <m1@kopinsky.com>
Leining Megillah

From: "Danny Schoemann" <doniels@gmail.com>

Megilla reading:
Besides for a long list of common errors, he discussed at length what is
preferable: Saying the 10 sons of Homon in 1 breath, or actually reading
them word-for-word inside.

Keeping in mind that the latter would require *reading* the "Es"
belonging to the son in question (across a huge blank-space) the issue is
non-trivial (and the options nearly mutually exclusive).

Some people use a ruler to help them.
Some people fold the megilla so that the Es is next to the son's name
Rabbi Isenberg, the Baal Korei in HTC uses two fingers - one on the names
and one on the Es's to make sure he reads the right one.  He does manage to
read it in one breath and inside.
Many pro-readers claimed that they anyways will inadvertently say the odd
word by-heart, so may as well fulfill the minhag of one-breath, and add a
few more (inadvertent) "by hearts" to the reading.

This lead to the obvious question: If the reader realizes he didn't read a
word from inside, should he repeat it from inside? Since the listeners are
anyways Yotze (since a megilla can even have a lot of missing words before
it becomes posul), does this create a "hefsek". This ties into the question
of whether one can do a hiddur mitzva after being yotze; like the famous
"better esrog" question.
A few years ago, Rabbi Isenberg repeated quite a number of times.  I asked
him, "after all these years, do you really make mistakes?"  He said, "No,
the problem is that I know it too well, so it's easy for me to read words
b'al peh."

So it seems that Rabbi Isenberg holds that you do go back and repeat if you
said a word "outside".

He also mentioned the 4 degrees of listening, that RSZA taught him:
1. Daydreaming: He's aware that somebody is saying something, but when he
"awakens", wouldn't have a clue what. Not Yotze.
2. In one ear out the other: He hears every word, not paying attention to
what it is. Not Yotze.
3. He's following word for word, turning the pages correctly, but not
concentrating on the story. Yotze be'dieved.
4. He's concentrating on the plot - living the megillah: Fulfilled the
mitzva as it was intended.
I totally don't understand this.  Isn't someone who's even half asleep
yotzei?  I believe Rashi says misnamnem is someone who isn't paying
attention to what's going around, but if you said his name he would respond.
I don't think anyone really reaches a state during Megillah reading that
they wouldn't respond if someone said their name.  (Although this year I had
to stand for leining to avoid that problem.  Moral of the story:  don't pull
all-nighters on Ta'anis Esther.)
A freilichen and meaningful Purim

- - Danny
A freilechen and meaningful Pesach
(shloshim yom...)

- Michael

Michael Y. Kopinsky

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Date: Thu, 16 Mar 2006 05:19:11 -0500
From: "Michael Y. Kopinsky" <m1@kopinsky.com>
Re: machine matzohs: Reasons for...

From: "Akiva Atwood" <akiva.atwood@gmail.com>
> From my LOR -- can anyone help?
> Do you know -- and more particularly have you seen published -- the 
> reasons for those who preferred machine matzoh to hand?

I believe there was an article about this a few years ago in the JA or JO.
(Sorry I forgot which. They're normally pretty hard to confuse.)

Michael Y. Kopinsky

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Date: Thu, 16 Mar 2006 11:22:37 -0500 (EST)
From: "Micha Berger" <micha@aishdas.org>
Admin: Science and Torah

I recently asked AishDas's informally defined "membership" about the
discussions of science and Torah which have been dominating Avodah for
close to two years.

The unanimous consensus is that we've had enough, and moreso, that we're
losing people to boredum and repetition. When you start skimming most
of the digest, you quickly move on to not opening them anymore.

We are putting the following topics on hiatus for volume 17:
- Creation and science
- Parashas Noach and science
- halakhah and science

I therefore ask people to wrap things up this week. Replies on these
subjects will only be accepted if sent before Shabbos, "position papers"
that just present your conclusions (if you want people to have access
to a final, more authoritative version) until one week from today.


Micha Berger             Rescue me from the desire to win every
micha@aishdas.org        argument and to always be right.
http://www.aishdas.org              - Rav Nachman of Breslav
Fax: (270) 514-1507      	     Likutei Tefilos 94:964

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Date: Thu, 16 Mar 2006 13:28:25 +0200
From: <davidmiller@hushmail.com>
RE: Chazal, science, and halacha

On February 17th 2006, Simcha Coffer wrote:
>> The bottom line is that anyone claiming that the Rambam understood MB 
>> allegorically is introducing erroneous notions into the text and 
>> misrepresenting the Rambam's true position on this matter.

To which I pointed out: 
> Sometime in the twelfth century, Rambam wrote:
> The account of creation given in Scripture is not, as is generally 
> believed, intended to be literal in all its parts. (Guide of The 
> Perplexed, 2:29)

To which RSC responded:
> I don't have a MN in front of me but I'm sure he's referring only 
> to anthropomorphism there, nothing else.

Although Rambam does not specify there what he is referring to, it
is absurd to think that he is only referring to anthropomorphism.
There is a lot of anthropomorphism elsewhere in the Torah and very
little in maase Bereishis. He is clearly referring to a lot more than
just anthropomorphism; I don't know of a single commentator to MN that
understands it in the way that RSC does. As R' Daniel Eidensohn has
quoted from Shem Tov, Akeidas Yitzchak, and Abarbanel, Rambam understood
the entire notion of "six days" (as a progression in time) allegorically.

Of course there have been many who criticized Rambam for using extensive
allegory in interpreting Maase Bereishis and Gan Eden. But RSC is the
first person that I am aware of who does not even accept that Rambam did
this. The bottom line is that RSC is doing exactly that which he accuses
others of - misrepresenting the Rambam's true position on this matter.

David Miller

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Date: Thu, 16 Mar 2006 15:37:27 +0200
From: "Akiva Atwood" <akiva.atwood@gmail.com>
RE: chazal and science

> for certain. One thing I can tell you; their knowledge of science, such
> as astronomy, was incredible and was far more advanced than the science
> of astronomy allowed for in their day. I'll prove it to you...

Check the archives -- we've discussed (and disproven) both the number
of stars as an accurate count, and the calculation of the lunar month
as more precise than the non-Jewish figures (it isn't).

Specifically -- the number of stars is off by several orders of magnitude
(at least 3 or 4, IIRC).

IN other words -- if chazal had specific divinely-revealed information
as to the number of stars -- why is their number 3 orders of magnitude
smaller than the actual number? Either they are accurate or they aren't
-- and if they aren't then "close" isn't impressive. (and 3 orders of
magnitude isn't close.

> Now if that isn't amazing, I don't know what is. Even if you would
> ta'anah that R' Yehoshua was not referring to Halley's comet, how could
> he possibly be aware of the idea of the reappearance of comets hundreds
> of years before this phenomenon was identified by scientists?

Because both chinese and arab astronomers knew about it well before
Halley -- probably as early or earlier tha chazal. Halley just applied
Newton's work to explain it mathematically by plotting orbits.


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Date: Thu, 16 Mar 2006 10:28:14 -0500
From: "David Riceman" <driceman@worldnet.att.net>
Re: relativity and geocentrism

From: "S & R Coffer" <rivkyc@sympatico.ca>
> The Modern Geocentric view must be distinguished from Ptolemy's view of
> geocentrism. Whereas Ptolemy was animated by scientific considerations,
> the majority of people who subscribe to the Modern Geocentric view
> do so due to their religious convictions. Never once did I state my
> own personal belief. As far as I'm concerned, and notwithstanding the
> viewpoint of the author of Mevo haShemesh, I don't know what the proper
> Torah viewpoint is. I can hear it both ways. I am merely discussing the
> scientific aspects of geocentrism, not its religious trappings.

This ("the majority of people who subscribe to the Modern Geocentric view
do so due to their religious convictions") represents a misunderstanding
of geocentrism. RSC promulgated an analogous misunderstanding of
evolution a few days ago when he said (I've lost the exact quote and
I hope RSC will correct me if I misunderstood him) that the motive of
people who subscribe to evolutionary theory is to deny that God created
the world.

Scientists try to explain how things work as simply and elegantly as
they can. For a detailed explanation of why "that's what God wants"
is not simple and elegant see MN I:73. The short summary is that it can
be used to explain anything, and hence it's useless. The argument we're
having is what simplicity and elegance can be attributed to statements
like "the sun revolves around the earth", "the earth revolves around the
sun", or "the sun and the earth both revolve around where the thing I see
in my telescope would be if it were a real heavenly body and not just a
speck of dirt". In terms of mathematical descriptions we could use any
of these (incidentally the proper person to blame for that is Descartes,
who invented analytic geometry, rather than either Newton or Einstein).
For explanatory power, however, there's no comparison. The bulk of the
relative motion of sun and earth is induced by the sun. So that saying
"the earth revolves around the sun" explains why the motion exists,
and saying "the sun revolves around the earth" does not.

A similar point applies to evolution. Here's a series of questions:
why is chlorophyll so similar to haemoglobin? Why do isolated islands
have populations of animals and plants similar to but slightly different
from the nearest mainlands? Why do all large animals have backbones
[oops! what about giant squids? - DR]? Why do people have apparently
useless bits like appendices? Evolution gives a simple and elegant answer
to a host of questions like these. "That's what God wants" does not.

I hesitated for several weeks before submitting this post, because it
really does have no relevance to Avodah's mission, but I hope it helps
clear the underbrush.

David Riceman 

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Date: Thu, 16 Mar 2006 11:25:20 -0500
From: "S & R Coffer" <rivkyc@sympatico.ca>
RE: Chazal, science, and halacha

On March 16, 2006, David Miller wrote:
> to which RSC wrote:
>> It depends what you mean. There are obviously certain facts about
>> the nature of stars which can be verified but they do not contradict
>> the presence of a Designer per se as evolution does. However, if you
>> are referring to a unified theory which adequately describes the motion
>> of all of the heavenly bodies, scientists are far from accomplishing
>> this....

> So is RSC saying that "HaShamayim mesaprim" is contingent upon astronomy
> never ironing out these gaps? He is saying that if there is a scientific
> explanation for something, it rules out seeing a Borei? 

Of course not. I am just taking you to task for claiming that mankind
possesses a clear understanding of the motion of the heavenly bodies.
Especially since your claim was made within the context of advancing the
notion that science possesses the ability to dissect the inner workings
of the universe such that our understanding of the 'movement' of stars,
along with our understanding of the evolution of life systems here on
earth seems to you to be adequate enough to reinterpret the pesukim in
parshas Bereishis shelo al pi pashtam. (I am making this assumption
based on my impression of your past communications. On January 22,
you posted re the length of MB and it seems that you subscribe to a
much older universe than that which the pesukim seem to indicate. BTY,
I am in the midst of responding to that email)

Simcha Coffer   

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Date: Thu, 16 Mar 2006 21:07:31 GMT
From: "kennethgmiller@juno.com" <kennethgmiller@juno.com>
RE: chazal and science

R' Simcha Coffer quoted:
> ... but Rabban Gamaliel said to them: I have it on the authority
> of the house of my father's father that the renewal of the moon
> takes place after not less than twenty-nine days and a half and
> two-thirds of an hour and seventy-three halakin."

R' Jonathan Ostroff responded:
> Also, one could work out this period to this precision merely by
> observing a couple of hundred new moons in a row, even if you err
> quite a bit in recording the precise time. So it is observationally
> possible to compute this figure.

One would need a lot more than "a couple of hundred new moons" to reach
this degree of accuracy.

Let's take, for example, one who observed one molad, and observed it again
19 years (235 months) later. Let's also say that he recorded one of them
precisely, and was off by only one hour on the other. We also need to
say that he kept an accurate count of the days in all of those 235 months.

It is a mathematically simple task, then, to divide that total length
of time by 235, to reach the length of the average interim month. Part
of the problem is that an error of one hour (=1080 chalakim) will cause
the result to be off by almost 4.6 chalakim. (1080/235= 4.5957)

Quadrupling the observed sample to 76 years (940 months) will still
have an error of 1080/940 chalakim, which is more than one chelek. And
this presumes that he'll have an exact count of the days between the two
endpoints. If he miscounts even one day (1440 minutes) over the course
of these 76 years, he will cause the calculation to be off by more than
a minute and a half!

But actually, all the above calculations are based on the foolish
presumption that every month is exactly the same duration as any
other. Even the Rambam recognized that the figure of "29 1/2 days and
793 chalakim" is only an average figure.

The U.S. Naval Observatory, at
http://aa.usno.navy.mil/data/docs/MoonPhase.html gives the following
times for the New Moon in the year 2000:
    18:14 on Jan 6
    13:03 on Feb 5
     5:17 on Mar 6
    18:12 on Apr 4
     4:12 on May 4
    12:14 on June 2
    19:20 on July 1
     2:25 on July 31
    10:19 on Aug 29
    19:53 on Sep 27
     7:58 on Oct 27
    23:11 on Nov 25
    17:22 on Dec 25

These are NOT equally spaced. The intervals range from a low of 29 days
and 7 hours (from June 2 to July 1) to a high of 29 days and almost 19
hours (from Jan 6 to Feb 5).

Let's see what happens to the average length of a longer period of
time. That website gives a New Moon at 18:14 on Jan 6 2000. Nineteen
years later, in the year 2019, the New Moon is again on Jan 6, but at 1:28
AM. From beginning to end, these 235 lunar months are equal to 6939 days,
8 hours and 14 minutes. That's an average of 29.5 days 754.77 chalakim --
an error of more than 38 chalakim.

Longer? Let's try the 16 19-year cycles from January 1701 to January
2005. That's one New Moon at 4:22 am on Jan 9 1701, and another 3760
months later, at 12:03 pm on Jan 10 2005. That's a difference of two
36524-day centuries (1800 and 1900 were not leap years), one 36525-day
century (2000 was a leap year), three 365-day years (Jan 2001 to Jan
2004), and one 366-day year (Jan 2004 to Jan 2005) and one more day (Jan
9 to Jan 10). That's a total of 111035 days 7 hours and 41 minutes. 3760
groups of 29.5 days is 110920 days, leaving over 115 d 7 h 41 m, which
is 166061 minutes. Divide that by 3760, and we get 794.97 chalakim.

More than three centuries of observation, with precise counting of the
days, and recording of the molad to an accuracy of 1/2 minute, and we're
still off by almost 2 chalakim.

Sorry, I don't buy into RJO's assertion as I quoted it at the top
of this post. Either Rabban Gamliel's masorah was MiSinai, or he had
instruments to rival those of the U.S. Naval Obsefvatory. Or, perhaps,
maybe the error lies in the Naval Observatory's calculations.

Akiva Miller

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Date: Thu, 16 Mar 2006 16:38:50 -0500
From: Micha Berger <micha@aishdas.org>
Re: chazal and science

On Thu, Mar 16, 2006 at 03:37:27PM +0200, Akiva Atwood wrote:
: Check the archives -- we've discussed (and disproven) both the number
: of stars as an accurate count, and the calculation of the lunar month
: as more precise than the non-Jewish figures (it isn't).

Ummm... Actually, we could not show whether we got it from the Bavliim
or if the midrash that it was given to Moshe is literal history. But the
fact that the number was more accurate when we needed it most than when
the Bavliim used the value is amazing. So that even if we had gotten it
from the Bavliim, incredible (to chizuq emunah levels) siyata diShmaya
was involved. Accurate to the nearest cheileq somewhere around the days
of Hillel II, in fact.

Which is a flaw in the original claim. The length of the month isn't
constant. Just as the moon pulls on tides, the earth slows down the
moon. Months are longer than they were in Chazal's day, and the US Navy's
numbers should average larger.

Second flaw, it's a three body problem -- the motion of a body that has
significant gravitational pull from/to two others (the earth and the
sun). A known chaotic system. Which is why the actual period between
two moons varies.

But the molad is a special case, as we have a specific statement about
it being given miSinai. In fact, the presence of such a statement about
one scientific datum implies that it's NOT true in general.


Micha Berger             "The worst thing that can happen to a
micha@aishdas.org        person is to remain asleep and untamed."
http://www.aishdas.org          - Rabbi Simcha Zissel Ziv, Alter of Kelm
Fax: (270) 514-1507      

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Date: Thu, 16 Mar 2006 13:33:39 +0000
From: Chana Luntz <Chana@kolsassoon.org.uk>
Re: Simple Mishloach Manos

> T613K@aol.com wrote:
>>> He also mentioned the 4 degrees of listening, that RSZA taught him: ...
>>> 3. He's following word for word, turning the pages correctly, but not
>>>  concentrating on the story. Yotze be'dieved.
>>> 4. He's concentrating on the plot - living the megillah: Fulfilled
>>> the mitzva as it was intended.

>> In former times it was quite common, and even today not uncommon, that
>> many people -- especially the women -- did not understand the words of
>> the Megilla. They were/are yotzei by following along anyway.
>> If here and there you come across a word that if you thought about it you
>> would have to admit you don't know what word is -- you're still yotzei.
>> Or are you?

RZS then wrote:
> It's a befeireshe gemara, Megillah 18a:

The original statement was bothering me all Purim along not disimilar
lines to RTK's concern and I was trying to get something together
with some sources, but I see that various people have beat me to it.
However it was not so much points 3 and 4 (which RTK quoted as above)
which was bothering me but points 1 and 2 from the original post -
which I quote again, namely:

>>> 1. Daydreaming: He's aware that somebody is saying something, but when
>>> he "awakens", wouldn't have a clue what. Not Yotze.
>>> 2. In one ear out the other: He hears every word, not paying attention
>>> to what it is. Not Yotze.

I rather struggle to see from where the verdict reported in the name
of RZSA of not Yotze. More than that, how could anybody who did not
understand lashon hakodesh could avoid being at least in category 2 -
in one ear and out the other, and most likely category 1 - ie doesn't
have a clue what was said.

In fact, in my experience in listening to languages I completely don't
understand (like the Polish spoken by my cleaners), I struggle to even
differentiate the words (my 3 year old has learnt to say "it is raining"
in Polish, but I confess I have no idea whether what he is saying is
one word, two or more - and I understand his speech much better than
that of my Polish cleaners).

So if women and am haratzim can and are yotzei without understanding
Hebrew at all and hence presumably are not able to necessarily even
distinguish one word from another, why are numbers 1 and no 2 (if they
have a general kavana to perform the mitzvah of lishmoa megila) also not
yotzei, at least bideved? And query even how bideved this bideved is.
If it were so bideved a method of hearing the megila as all that, then
surely we would have been mechuyav to teach women to read and understand
loshen kodesh throughout the generations - the fact that we did not put
a great deal of energy into doing so would seem to suggest that it is
not *so* bideved as all of that.

That is not to say that there is not "business class yotzei" and "economy
class yotzei", but I would have rather have described the former as a
hiddur, or possibly being machmir, rather than the the latter as being

Chana Luntz

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