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Volume 24: Number 88

Tue, 04 Dec 2007

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: T613K@aol.com
Date: Tue, 4 Dec 2007 10:00:42 EST
Re: [Avodah] The Chanukah Musings of a Mathematician

, JRich@Sibson.com wrote:
: The 2nd is that the investment in time is  not worth the return.

RMB then wrote:
>>The Gra would answer that for the one yad of math so learned,  the
talmid is now capable of 100 yadayim of Torah.

And now we can  presume the usual back-and-forth about TuM has  occured,<<

The Gra knew and used mathematics but I really don't think you can  
legitimately claim him as an early exemplar of TuM.   You also are not  going to find 
any charedi RW Torah-only types claiming that a ben  Torah should davka NOT 
know any math, not even the simplest arithmetic.  
I would not even attempt to claim the Gra for TIDE, though I think doing so  
would be a little closer to the mark than TuM.

--Toby  Katz

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Message: 2
From: "Prof. Levine" <llevine@stevens.edu>
Date: Tue, 04 Dec 2007 10:30:07 -0500
[Avodah] The Chanukah Musings of a Mathematician

At 09:15 AM 12/4/2007, J. Rich wrote:

>iiuc there are 2 answers generally given to this type of question 
>for those who reject any study outside of traditional torah.
>The 1st is that all this knowledge can be gained from traditional torah study.

If so, then will someone please tell me know how and where one 
derives the formula 1+2+3+....+n=n(n+1)/2 from Torah study.

The GRA wrote the sefer Ayil Meshulash. According to friend of mine 
who has made a study of the GRA's attitude toward secular subjects, 
this is the only sefer of his that was published during his lifetime. 
The sefer deals with standard geometry, analytic geometry, solid 
geometry and other math topics. In the parts that I have looked at, I 
saw no derivation of any of the concepts from Torah sources. The GRA 
starts with the definition of a point, line, etc. He gives no Torah 
sources. If all of this can be gained from traditional Torah study, 
then why didn't he present the mathematics from this standpoint?

>The 2nd is that the investment in time is not worth the return.

The GRA obviously did not agree with this, otherwise, he would not 
have spent the time writing the Ayil Meshulash.

>Ktjoel rich

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Message: 3
From: "Micha Berger" <micha@aishdas.org>
Date: Tue, 4 Dec 2007 11:28:36 -0500 (EST)
Re: [Avodah] Fables and Lies

I think RnCL's use of "myth" is technically correct, but distracting.
If I can resurrect an idea I posted when we looked at the question of
whether ANY rishon thought that every aggadic story was historical.
The list of rishonim and acharonim who don't take them as necessarily
being history was quite long, although I think only the Rambam goes so
far as to condemn those who make a farce out of the Torah (in his
opinion) by believing every medrash. Even as late as RYSalanter there
is clear sources against taking medrashim literally, sources with
solid bonafides even for the most RW among us.

So, here's the notion I posted in the past. I think it's along the
same lines as the "myth" idea, but without using a word that requires
a disclaimer (and I am not sure it's 100% identical):

Chazal used the story for a mashal. The question of whether the mashal
happened to also be what happened to occur or not isn't one that they
would have ever asked. Therefore, some could be historical, some not
-- it's not important and no one kept track. Even caring which is
which places you in a different perspective WRT the narrative than
intended by Chazal.

SheTir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             One who kills his inclination is as though he
micha@aishdas.org        brought an offering. But to bring an offering,
http://www.aishdas.org   you must know where to slaughter and what
Fax: (270) 514-1507      parts to offer.        - R' Simcha Zissel Ziv

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Message: 4
From: "Micha Berger" <micha@aishdas.org>
Date: Tue, 4 Dec 2007 15:02:59 -0500 (EST)
Re: [Avodah] Apikores?

I think that in the discussion of HP, we're confusing a few things:

1- HP is a broader concept than sechar va'onesh. Thus, universal HP
would still leave someone with the dilemma of why the holocaust, but
the answer need not be in finding the cheit for which it's the onesh.
Hashem could have needed us to suffer for another reason. I therefore
disagree with RET that "sechar mitzvos behai alma leiqa" should
motivate belief in a limited form of HP.

HP also includes bederekh she'adam rotzeh leileikh sham molikhim oso.

It also includes HQBH delaying SvO to allow us to return. Even if that
means nisyonos to bring out the best in us. (In that sense, a nisayon
could come from midas harachamim.)

2- HP isn't the only kind of hashgachah. Even if one gravity to be
something HQBH constantly provides by providing us with space-time (as
RnTK wrote), that would be hashgachah minis, not HP. A denial of teva
as a beryah would "only" imply universal HM, but I don't think that's
being questioned.

An aside: "constantly provides us with space-time" doesn't work
logically. If He is providing time, then how can Hashem be doing
anything "constantly", a term that only makes sense within time?
Rather, He provides us with a 4D (or more) construct called
space-time, and thus provides us with every moment from beginning to
end without gap in that construct. If that made enough sense to make
you curious, you might wish to see my musings about Hashem's
timelessness at
<http://www.aishdas.org/asp/2005/01/divine-timelessness.shtml>. I deal
with our current question of neis vs teva and why I feel the
distinction is meaningless, as well as hakol tzafui vehareshus nesunah
("tzafui" can't mean that Hashem knows *NOW* what I will do, rather,
than He has no "now" -- see the Or Sameiach).

3- There are multiple versions of limited HP being conflated together.
Some rishonim insist that even among people, HP is earned. Or, as the
Rambam put it (Moreh 2:18), every person gets HP, but not every homo
sapien is fully a person. Others, that HP is universal for people,
however not for every leaf that falls in the forest. As the LR put it,
it's the application of HP to the realms of domeim, tzomeiach and chai
that was the Besh"t's chiddush. The difference between the people-only
and full HP positions is by definition invisible. The moment we would
notice the difference, the hashgachah impacted a person and would have
to have been guided by that person's HP.

4- Hashgachah (HP or HM) isn't the same as neis, not even neis nistar.
Yes, hashgachah would /include/ nisim, but it needn't be limited to
nissim. For example, if teva is non-deterministic, allowing a single
chain of events to conclude in any one of multiple outcomes,
hashgachah would include choosing which outcome. (As would bechirah

Denying universal HP doesn't help the holocaust question. As RYG
wrote, for the Kol Yakhol, there is little difference between asking
why He chose to act and how He justifies not acting. Since either is
effortless compared to the Infinite, action and inaction are equally
morally problematic. Second, the Shoah involved the entire min of
Benei Yisrael, not "just" the perat. And of all the minim, BY gets
*more* hashgachah by not having an intermediary sar.

Personally, I think the motivation for universal HP didn't begin with
the Besht or the Gra. It's interesting that both origins (depending
upon whose talmidim you're studying) are from the same period. I think
it's a conclusion that comes from Newtonian physics. And actually, by
the chance in physics and metaphysics changing the nature of the
question. IOW, the Gra and Besh"t weren't even answering the same
question that the rishonim were addressing.

In the classical world, teva is a seichel nivdal, and thus a beryah.
We can discuss whether someone experiences an event caused by that
beryah, or directly by the RBSO's will. With Newton, nature becomes an
attribute of the objects, not a beryah bifnei atzmah.

That's how nature becomes "clockwork", predictable. If you only knew
enough about the state of the universe at one moment, it was believed
you could predict any other moment because the whole evolution of that
state was inherent in the moment, not residing in some seichel nivdal.
Explaining hashgachah and bechirah within this physics became
difficult. But teva vs hashgachah was no longer about Hashem's
"Seichel" vs the beryah called tevah, but rather resolving this
dilemma. It's an entirely different question than that faced by the
rishonim. The rishonim's question is moot IMHO, as it presumes a
problem we no longer believe is real. And thus, their answer isn't the
answer to the question we today face.

Now, those of us following up on this past century's physics don't
face this question either. The more popular explanations of quantum
mechanics do not yield a "clock-work" deterministic universe. Events
can be fully natural and fully hashgachah. Einstein rejected QM
because "G-tt werfelt nicht -- G-d doesn't play dice." (Note: Einstein
explained he meant G-d metaphorically, and r"l didn't intend to imply
belief in HQBH.) We, OTOH, could take the position that He plays with
loaded dice -- physics allows for randomness, but Hashem chooses which
1/36 of the cases come out "boxcars".

However, another finding of the last century does make it difficult
for hashgachah to be anything but all-or-nothing. This has to do with
something called Chaos Theory. Cool topic, worth a Google. But the
relevant point is that real-world systems have feedback loops, so that
an immeasurably small difference in the start condition could have
huge differences in final state. The proverbial butterfly flapping its
wings in Africa could cause a tornado in Kansas. Therefore, it seems
to me there is no event anywhere near the earth (probably nothing
within our light-cone, if you know what that means) that won't
eventually be a factor (or eliminate a factor) that would impact the
life of someone who deserves HP, or that wouldn't impact the subject
of HM. The leaf falling this way or that discussed by the Besht is
guaranteed to be a difference in the life of a tzadiq at some point.
And notice this would have been a problem with teva and hashgachah,
not specific to HP. Had we been forced to say they are mutually
exclusive, as Newton implied.

OTOH, given that for HQBH the choice to do and the choice not to do
are pretty much the same, I don't understand what limited hashgachah
means. HP vs HM I could understand -- Hashem has to weigh the
individual's needs vs that of the various minim involved, and the more
central the individual's role in His plan, the more likely it is to
outweigh the min. Thus the event is determined by HP rather than HM.
But Hashem too chooses to preserve the predictability of nature.
Wouldn't that mean that this decision not to intervene is itself His
choosing teva / preserving bechirah / HM? Allowing teva to run its
course is a hashgachah.

And even in the clockwork universe, wouldn't a Perfect Watchmaker be
able to set up a clock such that every case is resolved as per His
Will? In which case, teva vs hashgachah becomes "planned in advance"
vs "decided in the moment", which is meaningless for One Who is
lemaalah min hazeman. (This point is made in the aforementioned blog
entry.) How much more so now that there is a non-deterministic
understanding of physics. Teva being what it is was decided with
Hashem's knowing the eventuality in question and its outcome. So,
creating teva to be as it is and letting it run its course is fully
hashgachah, AISI. No less than a neis nistar violating nature in some
behind-the-scenes manner.

As for REED... RDR wrote:
:> but this is plausible only if you accept that Rabbi Dessler's
:> relentlessly spiritual perspective (yafeh sha'ah ahas shel tshuva
:> uma'asim tovim mikol hayyei ha'olam haba) is really everyone's
:> proper perspective.

And then on On Tue, November 27, 2007 11:34 am, he added:
: As a contrast see Dov Katz, Tenuath HaMussar, vol. 1, pp. 295-296 and
: pp. 213-215.

In REED's hyper-Kantian worldview, we don't know what's "out there",
we only know what we impose on what's out there. The
world-as-perceived. And therefore, someone with a physical perspective
lives in olam ha'asiyah, where the laws of teva hold sway, and someone
with a spiritual / moral one is in olam ha'yetzirah, where those laws
hold. This is his explanation of nissim, expounding on a theme by the

REED also describes teva as an illusion caused by Hashem choosing
hesteir panim through predictability. That illusion is limited,
though, to the people who are NOT holding a relentlessly spiritual
perspective. Although by this definition, the relentlessly spiritual
would include only recipients of nissim (be they nigleh or nistar)
such that moral law is more absolute (MmE's term, written in Hebrew
letters) than physical law.

RDK on pp 295-296 speaks of bitachon obviating the need for
hishtadlus. That's certainly saying that bitachon is answered by HP.
And implicitly, that HP is defined in terms of getting what you would
otherwise work toward, not in terms of knowing that what you're
getting is what you're supposed to. However, the standard of bitachon
is very high.

I'm not sure what's intended by the reference to 213-215. That's about
RYS's plans for Paris. I didn't see mention of HP or bitachon there.

On another topic... No event has only one cause. This is how people
can contrast between what one person does, and what his intended
victim/recipient receives. But it also means that the rav identifying
a cheit that he believes put an onesh into operation doesn't mean that
onesh was the sole cause, or that the cheit is the seat of blame
rather than that other cause. Saying we were punished for sin'as
chinam doesn't take the blame away from the Romans any more than
identifying Israel's location at the crossroads of three continents as
a cause for their political need to have us under control. Nor does it
mean that there wasn't some other cheit and some other onesh in play.
And, for that matter, since HQBH poured out His "Anger" on the
building rather than Kelal Yisrael, some mitzvah and some sechar was
in play as well!

It's all a chaotic network. IMHO, trying to figure things out in terms
of what single X caused Y is oversimplification to the point of being
meaningless. One needs to also look at A-W and then some -- anything
(even the unknowable) is big enough to have measurable effects.

SheTir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             One who kills his inclination is as though he
micha@aishdas.org        brought an offering. But to bring an offering,
http://www.aishdas.org   you must know where to slaughter and what
Fax: (270) 514-1507      parts to offer.        - R' Simcha Zissel Ziv

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Message: 5
From: Yitzchok Levine <Larry.Levine@stevens.edu>
Date: Tue, 04 Dec 2007 11:36:53 -0500
[Avodah] Chanukah Question

For years I have been looking for an answer to following question.

We know that the war between the Jews and the Syrian Greeks went on 
for many years in EY. Therefore, those Jews living in Bavel must have 
known what was occurring in EY. Yet I have never read or heard that 
the Jews in Bavel sent help to the Jews in EY who were fighting 
against almost insurmountable odds.  If they did not send help, then 
why not. And if they did send assistance, be it in terms of Jewish 
soldiers or military supplies, can anyone give me a source where this 
is recorded?

Yitzchok Levine 

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Message: 6
From: Elliott Shevin <eshevin@hotmail.com>
Date: Tue, 4 Dec 2007 13:48:43 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Wednesday Evening begin Prayer for Rain

R. Ari Meir Brodsky wrote:
> In addition, I should point out that the current Jewish calendar> year, 5768, features many of the calendrically exciting events that I> included in my essay about 5765, written three years ago, called "How is> this year different from all other years?" The essay is available here> http://individual.utoronto.ca/aribrodsky/ ...
As the one in our minyan who shoulders most of the heavy (but happy) burden 
of krias hatorah, I was delighted to learn we have another year of no double 
parshiyos.  :-)
Chanukah sameach and thanks for the cheering news,
Put your friends on the big screen with Windows Vista? + Windows Live?.
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Message: 7
From: ygbechhofer@gmail.com
Date: Tue, 04 Dec 2007 14:01:52 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Limited Mabul?

Translation of the Yerushalmi:

HaMotzim" /(Yechezkel/ 47:8) /-/ this is the great [Mediterraenean] sea. 
And why is it called "Motzim?" Corresponding to the two times that it 
came out, once in the generation of Enosh and once in the generation of 
the Tower of Babel. R' Lezar in the name of R' Chaninah: The first time 
it came out up till Calabria and the second time up till the rocks of 
Barbary. R' Acha in the name of R' Chanina: The first time it came out 
up till the rocks of Barbary and the second time it came out up till 
Akko (Acre) and Yaffo (Jaffa) - "Up till here you shall come and not 
further" (/Iyov/ 38). Up till Akko you shall come and no further. "And 
here He shall extend the might of your waves." Up till Yaffo I will 
extend the might of your waves.

While it is true that the second time is linked to the generation of the 
Tower of Babel, I submit that this is not necessarily exact, as we know 
of no massive flood at that time. I therefore think that just as the 
generation of Enosh refers to the known flood of that time, the 
generation of the "Dispersion" (/Haflagah/) refers to the known flood of 
the /Mabul/. See also the /Yalkut Shimoni, Yechezkel/ 383. Nevertheless, 
see //Teshuvos B'Tzel HaChochmah/ /2:12////// that considers this 
Yerushalmi from a Halachic perspective and takes it as written (I added 
it to the blog post).


Micha Berger wrote:
> See RYGB's blog
> <http://rygb.blogspot.com/2007/12/yerushalmi-shekalim-26a-does-it.html>.
> He quotes Y-mi Shekalim 26a, which discusses the Mediterannian
> overflowing twice. See link for quote, Hebrew never worked well on
> Avodah.
> I'm not sure that can be used to explain the mabul, though. If
> anything, the reverse: The two times in the gemara are dor Enosh and
> dor hapelagah. (Then the gemara discusses the spacial extent of the
> flooding.) In either case, it would seem that this disqualifies a
> flooding event, even of the scale of flooding from the Barbary Coast
> until Ako. As that is being described as flooding less noteworthy than
> THE mabul.
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Message: 8
From: "Rich, Joel" <JRich@sibson.com>
Date: Tue, 4 Dec 2007 11:49:41 -0500
Re: [Avodah] The Chanukah Musings of a Mathematician


	And now we can presume the usual back-and-forth about TuM has
	The Gra knew and used mathematics but I really don't think you
can legitimately claim him as an early exemplar of TuM.   You also are
not going to find any charedi RW Torah-only types claiming that a ben
Torah should davka NOT know any math, not even the simplest arithmetic.

	I would not even attempt to claim the Gra for TIDE, though I
think doing so would be a little closer to the mark than TuM.
	--Toby Katz

	To be mkayem R'MB's original nvuah, and to prove as Rn'TK posted
on a widely read blog that she rarely if ever agrees with me :-),
there's a world of difference between saying "that a ben Torah should
davka NOT know any math" and saying that for every lack of "non-torah"
(whatever that means) knowledge one misses 100 times in torah
knowledge(implying a useful pursuit).  WRT the original issue, sure one
could claim that one need not study math (e.g. the ayil mshulash was a
waste of time to read) because one could derive it from torah sources.
Even if this statement is completely true, to derive R'Yl's formula from
first principles imvho would be a huge bittul zman when compared with
studying some basic math.  These comments should be extrapolated to the
other sciences (soft and hard).
	Joel Rich

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Message: 9
From: Arie Folger <afolger@aishdas.org>
Date: Tue, 4 Dec 2007 19:42:08 +0100
Re: [Avodah] Freedom of exegesive interpretation

RJR wrote, in reaction to my quote of Tosfot Yomtov Nazir 5:5:
> Sounds like a version of "Judaism is a religion of deed not creed" - you
> can interpret anything anyway you want as long as you don't act
> differently from the din?

I don't see it that way. If there is a creed, which in one way or another we 
all agree there is, then that creed is part of the dinim that our exegesis 
must respect. However, when trying to understand a sugya, we may come up with 
tha, which in our eyes is more elegant explanation or solution to a problem.

For example, did David haMelekh commit adultery, or was she divorced at the 
time? According to the gemara that say that kol ha'omer shedavid chatah eino 
elah to'eh, David was technically saved from adultery. However, according to 
this TYT, you could disagree.

Or, to take a mishnah, for example. We just learned the mishnah of the one 
that was married to three wives, who had ketubot granting them different 
respective amounts, which could not be paid out by the inheritance left 
behind by their deceased husband. When Shemuel and Rav Ya'aqov of Nehar Peqod 
interpret the mishnah as an oqimta, must it be that that is what Rav Natan 
(the author of that mishnah) meant, or can we suggest other interpretations? 
(full disclosure: the quote was provided in the context of that mishnah by 
Prof. Auman of Nobel prize fame, in his article in Moriah where he offered an 
alternative understanding of the mishnah, sans oqimta.) 
Arie Folger


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