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Volume 30: Number 169

Sun, 09 Dec 2012

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Ezra Chwat <Ezra.Ch...@nli.org.il>
Date: Sun, 9 Dec 2012 08:52:01 +0200
Re: [Avodah] What is the word "Macabi" an acronym for?

Mitchell First posted a good summary on this question last year,
addressing the issue of orthography (Kaf or Kuf) as well as etymology
here: http://seforim.blogspot.co.il/2011/12/meaning-of-name-maccabee.html

Dr. Ezra Chwat
The Department of Manuscripts/
Institute of Microfilmed Hebrew Manuscripts
The Ntional library of Israel
blog: Giluy Milta B'Alma: http: http://imhm.blogspot.com/

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Message: 2
From: Marty Bluke <marty.bl...@gmail.com>
Date: Sun, 9 Dec 2012 14:56:15 +0200
Re: [Avodah] Is there a Reshus Harabim D'oraysa nowadays?

R' Akiva Miller wrote:
"namely that Shabbos is an exception to the "no gezera to a gezera" rule."

The Gemara in Shabbos specifically cites the rule of no gezera to a gezera
in a number of places regarding gezeros on Shabbos, in fact regarding the
prohibition of carrying.

One additional point. The Ritva in Shabbos (64b) has a discussion about how
come in his day women wore jewelry outside even though there is a clear
gezera not to do so. In his discussion, he quotes R' Baruch (author
of the Sefer Hateruma) who comments that in his day there were no Reshus
Harabims but in Chazal's time there were (see
and therefore the gezera did not apply in his day.
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Message: 3
From: Eli Turkel <elitur...@gmail.com>
Date: Sun, 9 Dec 2012 14:53:25 +0200
[Avodah] mesorah

<<> The bottom line is that I'm uncomfortable with an epistomology that
> puts mesorah as less of a justification of knowledge than science.>>

I just went to a talk about techelet. The speaker pointed out that techelet
is different since we are discussing no mesorah versus science and not
things like shibbolet shual=oats which is mesorah vs science.

Nevertheless he mentione dthat in talking to many rabbis they utterly
refused to listen to any argument not based on earlier Torah sciences and
stated that any scientific sources were meaningless

Eli Turkel
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Message: 4
From: Lisa Liel <l...@starways.net>
Date: Sun, 09 Dec 2012 08:09:08 -0600
Re: [Avodah] re Goebekli Tepe

On 12/9/2012 5:24 AM, Micha Berger wrote:
> On Sat, Dec 08, 2012 at 10:07:13PM -0600, Lisa Liel wrote:
>> On 12/6/2012 5:12 AM, Micha Berger wrote:
>>> Which is different than saying that since we can dig up an olive pit or
>>> in another way deduce the size of chazal's olives, we should overturn
>>> the well-accepted but historically counter-factual opinions of what a
>>> kezayis means.
>> We absolutely should.  Rulings based on a lack of knowledge should be
>> overturned in the face of the knowledge that was missing.  Otherwise, we
>> turn Judaism into an irrational religion.
> The question is defining what's "rational" WRT law. Does the fact that the
> law was originally tied to an empirical fact mean that we are supposed
> to keep it tied to that fact? Or does the fact that it's law mean that
> it is supposed to evolve as the culture and psyche of the people it
> governs evolve?
In the case of kezayit, Chazal were referring to a specific size.  The 
reason that size has inflated is not philosophical.  It's simply that 
later authorities in places where olives weren't available didn't know 
what Chazal meant.  So they did the best they could.  I think they 
themselves would be absolutely appalled to find that still later 
generations, like ours, have regained that knowledge and have refused to 
use it because of a stopgap solution they found.

> But, like in my GPS mashal, I can sleep at night confident that some
> answer does exist.
You can.  But can you sleep at night with the knowledge that children, 
who don't rationalize as adults do, are going off the derekh due to such 


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Message: 5
From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Date: Sun, 9 Dec 2012 14:49:09 -0500
Re: [Avodah] re Goebekli Tepe

On Sun, Dec 09, 2012 at 08:09:08AM -0600, Lisa Liel wrote:
> In the case of kezayit, Chazal were referring to a specific size.  The  
> reason that size has inflated is not philosophical...

No, it's legal. IOW, it's okay if the law doesn't accuratedly track
the size of an olive because kezayis is a halachic shiur, not a
botanical statement. The minium food required to be okhel has
changed. So what if actual olives didn't?

>> But, like in my GPS mashal, I can sleep at night confident that some
>> answer does exist.

> You can.  But can you sleep at night with the knowledge that children,  
> who don't rationalize as adults do, are going off the derekh due to such  
> questions?

So teach them that sometimes they ask questions that don't have known
answers. Having an answer might be more convenient, but that doesn't
prove we actually do have one.

I also doubt too many kids go OTD over such questions. Being told they
were bad kids for asking, yes. Being told they should grow up to learn
or to have 8 or more children when that's not what they're cut out for,
definitely. Abusive teachers or parents. Parents who don't practice what
they preach. Being raised with a shabbos that is a set of thou shalt
nots with no heart. (Today's Hallel made me think of that one. Not one
sung line -- where are people rushing to on a Sunday?) Etc... But people,
including kids, for whom the system is working know they can trust that
there are more answers than their teachers know.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger             "The worst thing that can happen to a
mi...@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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Message: 6
From: Zev Sero <z...@sero.name>
Date: Sun, 09 Dec 2012 14:43:42 -0500
Re: [Avodah] re Goebekli Tepe

On 9/12/2012 9:09 AM, Lisa Liel wrote:
> In the case of kezayit, Chazal were referring to a specific size.	The
> reason that size has inflated is not philosophical.  It's simply that
> later authorities in places where olives weren't available didn't know
> what Chazal meant.  So they did the best they could.

Olives were unknown in Spain, Egypt, EY, and Turkey?

Zev Sero        "Natural resources are not finite in any meaningful
z...@sero.name    economic sense, mind-boggling though this assertion
                  may be. The stocks of them are not fixed but rather
                 are expanding through human ingenuity."
                                            - Julian Simon

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Message: 7
From: "Prof. Levine" <llev...@stevens.edu>
Date: Sun, 09 Dec 2012 10:03:11 -0500
[Avodah] "Learning" Mathematics

The latest of volume of Hakirah,  The Flatbush Journal of Law and 
Thought,  has an article with this title.  One can read part of it at


The article concludes with

Suggestions on How and When Mathematics Is to be Taught

How and when the necessary mathematics skills are taught should
depend on the school. Schools offering formal high school mathematics
courses in their secular studies program can present the
sugyos we have touched upon above29 in a semester-long hour period
after the underlying mathematics have been mastered in the limudei
chol studies. Yeshivos not offering high school-level mathematics
courses will either have to rely on rebbeim who are sufficiently
mathematically literate to incorporate this material into their
shiurim, or perhaps utilize visiting lecturers who can assist with selected
shiurim. There are many available sheilos u teshuvos seforim, m'forshei ha shas
and journal articles that discuss a wide variety of Talmudic
sources from a mathematical perspective.  It should not be difficult
to put together high school-level Gemara/mathematics classes that
are enlightening, stimulating, challenging and enjoyable. The main
thing to ensure is that the mathematics material be taught sooner
rather than later in a student's education. Studies show that mathematics,
like languages, is most easily learned when someone is
young, and delaying the introduction of these skills until a child is
older is a recipe for failure.

I am surprised that the authors do not recommend the study of the 
GRA's sefer Ayil Me' Shulash.  In my article 
Case for Secular Studies in Yeshivas"  The Jewish Press, November 19, 
2004 page 1. I wrote

In most "right-wing" yeshivas students take three years of mathematics
consisting primarily of selections from topics in algebra, geometry, 
trigonometry, probability,
logic, and statistics. In New York, passing the math Regents is the 
goal, while in other states,
the state guidelines for public school curricula are adhered to. 
Often there is no mathematics
taught in the twelfth grade. I do not understand why the yeshivas do 
not gear their
mathematics courses to the goal of having their students study 
selections from the GRA's
sefer Ayil Me'Shulash in the twelfth grade.

The sefer Ayil Me'Shulash HaMevuar-Ha'GRA, volume 1, by Rabbi Avinoam 
Solimani was
published not long ago in Eretz Yisrael. It contains the text of the 
first three sections of the
GRA's original sefer as well as modern day diagrams and Hebrew 
explanations of these
sections. If yeshiva students were to study this sefer they would not 
only learn some of the
mathematics that the Vilna Gaon thought was important, but they would 
also have the benefit
of studying these topics in Hebrew, something that would no doubt 
improve their mastery of
the language.

These comments are, of course, geared to American high schools that 
teach secular subjects.  However, I fail to understand why Israeli 
yeshivas,  even the Chareidi ones, do not teach enough mathematics so 
that their talmidim can study the sefer Ayil Me'Shulash and 
incorporate its study into their curriculum.  Clearly the GRA felt 
that the study of these topics in mathematics was important,  so why 
don't the yeshivas today?

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Message: 8
From: Lisa Liel <l...@starways.net>
Date: Sun, 09 Dec 2012 09:41:08 -0600
[Avodah] Grammar question in Mikeitz

A friend of mine posted this on Facebook, and I can't see an answer.

In Genesis 41:6, it says:

/V'hiney sheva shibolim, dakot u-shdufot kadim, tzomchot achareihen/

In Genesis 41:23, it says:

/V'hiney sheva shibolim, tznumot dakot shdufot kadim, tzomchot achareihem/

So... why the masculine ending at the end of that verse, when shibolim 
is otherwise feminine throughout?  It can't be like derekh, where 
context matters, because the context is the same in both cases.

And oddly enough, none of the mefarshim I've looked at seem to mention this.

Any ideas?


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Message: 9
From: Lisa Liel <l...@starways.net>
Date: Sun, 09 Dec 2012 09:41:43 -0600
[Avodah] excellent shiur on non-combatants in halakha


This is a lengthy (almost 2 hour) shiur, but it's an excellent halakhic 


[From the youtube page:
    It is clearly forbidden by Torah Law to endanger Israeli soldiers to
    protect "innocent" Gazans. This lecture by HaRav David Bar-Hayim
    deals with the reason why Rabbis are not speaking out on this life
    and death issue. See more videos at www.machonshilo.org

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Message: 10
From: T6...@aol.com
Date: Sun, 9 Dec 2012 21:22:09 -0500 (EST)
Re: [Avodah] Was Eisav a Rasha by nature?

In Avodah Digest, Vol 30, Issue 161 dated 11/30/2012 
From: Marty Bluke <marty.bl...@gmail.com>

R' Micha  Berger wrote:
<Take someone born with a craving for spirituality, but it's  overshadowed
by an impatience and desire for instant gratification and a lust  for power,
and <you have someone predisposed for AZ.

That is fine  but you didn't answer the question that I asked. Predisposed
to AZ is one  thing, running to worship it from the womb is another and that
was my  question. How did Eisav start worshipping AZ even before he was  

It's a medrash, not a pasuk, that says he tried to leave the womb every  
time his mother passed a temple of idolatry. You can't take every medrash  
literally. There is a message behind the medrash, namely, that Esav was 
inclined  towards idolatry by nature, from the very beginning. 
This does not mean that he lacked bechirah. As you know, every person is  
judged by his own challenges and his own nisyonos. For one person the point 
of  bechirah may be whether to turn on a light on Shabbos, for another person 
that's  not even an issue at all but his issue is whether to allow himself 
to feel pride  over a brilliant shiur he gave.  For Esav, not killing and 
not raping women  would have been a moral victory, for Yakov that just wasn't 
an issue.

While you are taking a medrash so literally and asking, "How could Hashem  
have [apparently] removed bechirah from this child before he was even born?" 
why  aren't you asking, "How could a baby who could not yet read or write 
or speak  and who lived in the total darkness of his mother's womb have known 
what a  temple was or could have known when his mother was passing one? How 
could a baby  try to leave his mother's womb when a fetus could not survive 
on the outside and  advanced medical care for preemies did not yet exist? 
How could a baby who  couldn't even crawl, let alone walk, imagine that he 
could run to the temple to  serve idols?"


You might then ask, so what is the literal meaning of the struggling that  
was going on inside Rivkah's womb, a struggle so intense and painful that 
she  went to ask Hashem what was going on? Maybe the different natures of the 
twins  were already apparent in the womb, with one being very active, 
kicking and  moving around a lot, while the other had to constantly fight for his 
space  and push the over-active twin out of his way or be squeezed and 
pummeled by his  over-active brother.
Look at this amazing video, which was posted online the same day this  
question came up on Avodah!
"Twins Fighting In Womb Video: New MRI Technique Reveals Early Double  
Trouble (VIDEO)"

_http://tinyurl.com/atwyxot_ (http://tinyurl.com/atwyxot) 

"The high-tech monitor, also dubbed the 'cinematic MRI,' allows doctors to  
see, in better detail, when twins vie for space in utero, Dr. Marisa  
Taylor-Clarke of Imperial College's Robert Steiner MR Unit in London told  
Reuters. "


--Toby Katz


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Message: 11
From: T6...@aol.com
Date: Sun, 9 Dec 2012 20:40:38 -0500 (EST)
Re: [Avodah] Torah and Archeology [was: Goebekli Tepe]

From: Micha Berger <mi...@aishdas.org>
Subject: [Avodah] Goebekli  Tepe

See _http://www.archaeology.org/0811/abstracts/turkey.html_ 
(http://www.archaeology.org/0811/abstracts/turkey.html) .

--quote--  Excavations have revealed that Goebekli Tepe was constructed in 
stages.  The oldest structures belong to what archaeologists call
the early  Pre-Pottery Neolithic A period, which ended around
9000 B.C. Strangely  enough, the later remains, which date to
the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B period,  or about 8000 B.C., are less
elaborate. The earliest levels contain most of  the T-shaped pillars
and animal sculptures.--end quote--

Anyone  want to play Torah-and-Archeology on this one? We're talking about
religion  and art that carbon-dates to millenia before Adam. Even if you
define Adam as  the first homosap to have been blessed with a soul, not
the first of the  biological species, this is still a stickler.

Micha Berger  
_http://www.aishdas.org_ (http://www.aishdas.org)  

This is not a new question, it's been around for a long time already. See  
for example wikipedia re prehistoric art:



_http://tinyurl.com/bh4gbs6_ (http://tinyurl.com/bh4gbs6) 

--quote-- The earliest undisputed art originated with the Aurignacian  
archaeological culture in the Upper Paleolithic. However, there is some evidence 
 that the preference for the aesthetic emerged in the Middle Paleolithic, 
from  100,000 to 50,000 years ago. Some archaeologists have interpreted 
certain Middle  Paleolithic artifacts as early examples of artistic 

.....The oldest undisputed works of art were found in the Schw?bische Alb,  
Baden-W?rttemberg, Germany. The earliest of these, the Venus figurine known 
as  the Venus of Hohle Fels, dates to some 40,000 years ago. Further 
depictional art  from the Upper Palaeolithic period (broadly 40,000 to 10,000 
years ago) includes  cave painting (e.g., those at Chauvet, Altamira, Pech 
Merle, and Lascaux) and  portable art: Venus figurines like the Venus of 
Willendorf, and also animal  carvings, like the Swimming Reindeer, Wolverine pendant 
of Les Eyzies, and  several of the objects known as b?tons de commandement. 
--end quote--

I mean, if you think 9000 years old is old, what do you say about cave  
paintings that are 40,000 years old or maybe 100,000 years old?!

Possible approaches have also been suggested many times, including, if  
memory serves, here on Avodah. [1] One approach is the one you suggest, that  
homo sapiens were around for a long time but Adam was the first man -- i.e., 
he  was the first with a soul. "There were 974 generations before Adam" -- 
whatever  that means. [2] Another possibility is that the carbon dating is 
just wrong. [3]  Another possibility is that nature has so changed that 
processes that took only  a day to happen at the time of Creation nowadays take 
thousands of years. [4]  Another possibility is that the world was created as 
it is now, with bones [of  creatures that never actually existed] and cave 
paintings [never actually  painted, just created by G-d], etc, already "baked 
into the pie." [5] Another  possibility is that G-d created and destroyed 
many worlds before this one  (Medrash Rabba?), and the dinosaur bones, 
Neanderthal bones, prehistoric  artifacts and so on are souvenirs of those earlier 

None of those ideas are my original ideas, all have been suggested many  
times in many books and articles.

I myself tend towards the last of those possibilities -- that our world  
contains many relics of previous worlds, and those previous worlds were  
necessary for this world to exist. 

I consider the idea of deliberately planted fossils of creatures that never 
 lived [#4 above] to be a kind of deliberate deception that I just can't 
believe  our Creator would perpetrate. Hashem Elokeichem Emes. It's one thing 
to say He  created a world that admits of various interpretations, so that 
we can have  bechirah; quite another to say He deliberately planted false 

We know from the first Rashi in Bereishis that the Creation chapters leave  
out a lot and do not tell us the order in which things were created: 
"Sheharei  ksiv 'veruach Elokim merachefes al pnei hamayim,' it is written 'the 
spirit of  Hashem hovered over the face of the water,' ve'adayin lo gilah 
hamikra brias  hamayim masai hayasah, but the Torah had not yet disclosed when 
the creation of  the water was, ha lamadta, from here you learn, shekadmu hama
yim la'aretz, that  the creation of water came before that of the earth 
[Planet  Earth?],  al korchacha, against your will -- whether you want to or 
not --  you must admit, lo limed hamikra seder hamukdamim vehame'ucharim klum, 
that the  Torah does not teach the chronological order in which things were 
created, at  all."


I know we have plowed this ground before on Avodah.

--Toby  Katz


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