Avodah Mailing List

Volume 36: Number 116

Mon, 08 Oct 2018

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Joseph Kaplan
Date: Sun, 7 Oct 2018 20:03:01 +0000
[Avodah] Bereishit Message

I thought Alexander Seinfeld?s post on this subject was very interesting. I
would, however, make one small change. Instead of writing ?7 things every
Jew should know about Ma?aseh Bereishit, even if it was not
taught in BY,? I would say: 7 things I and some other Orthodox Jews believe about ....?


Sent from my iPhone

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Message: 2
From: Eli Turkel
Date: Mon, 8 Oct 2018 11:34:52 +0300
[Avodah] two witnesses

In halakha the highest level of trustworthiness in 2 witnesses.
Nevertheless, scientific studies have shown that one's memory is colored by
many factors. This is especially true if the event occurred in the distant

For example, in the recent controversy over Judge Kavanaugh the following
appeared in a world street journal article

Christine Blasey Ford was believable and sincere when she told her story of
being assaulted by a young Brett Kavanaugh. So was Judge Kavanaugh when he
categorically denied her claims?and none of her purported eyewitnesses have
any memory of the gathering she describes. They can?t both be telling the
truth, but it is possible neither is deliberately lying.

The article then goes on to describe how one's memory is affected by
(unconscious) attempts to heal emotional wounds. This leads to repression
of embarrassing memories or memories becomes less clear over time

Furthermore, the adolescent brain (9 to 25) is not fully developed. Middle
adolescence (14 to 17) is a time when teens have little connection to the
past or future and think only of the present.

(In Israel at least 14-17 year olds are very conscious of their future and
especially army service at 18)

impression is that two people in their 50s testifying about an event in
their teen years should be taken with a big grain of salt. Nevertheless,
halacha would completely rely on their testimony. Note that Blasey Ford
gave details and was certain of her version and so would probably pass

As an aside I am aware of dayanim questioning witnesses. Is their
anyting in halacha about the defendant giving his version and being
questioned by the dayanim?

Eli Turkel
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Message: 3
From: Alexander Seinfeld
Date: Sun, 07 Oct 2018 22:16:55 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Bereishit

Hi thanks for your comments.

>1. Torah isn't a history book, but it also happens to teach history.?

Not necessarily. Meaning, at times it does, but not always in the way
that secular people use the term History. So we should not compare the
two. I?d rather say, ?It contains historical information?

>2. The problem with this answer is that it really doesn't answer it, as
>the chronology still doesn't work - according to science, there were no
>plants before the sun and the moon. So either it's all a parable (and
>there doesn't need to be any correlation between Torah and science), or
>you need another answer (such as the Lubavitcher Rebbe's answer that the
>world was created old).

We don?t have to make it work. The point is that most people frankly have
no clue what cosmology says about origins (other that it?s complicated
and somewhat mystical), and they often dismiss Torah because it appears
to them so unsophisticated. Peeking at the Rambam gives one a clue
that we have a Mesorah of a extremely sophisticated, complicated and
mystical Bereishis.

>3. The question is if we're working within nature or without. So
>hurricanes are natural, but Beriya very well may not (do you have a
>source that nature started from day 1 vs day 6 or when Adam was evicted
>from Gan Eden)?

No I don?t. But I believe I saw in Rav Hirsch that Adam was first
created outside Gan Eden and only put in there for the test.

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Message: 4
From: Zev Sero
Date: Mon, 8 Oct 2018 08:24:45 -0400
Re: [Avodah] two witnesses

On 08/10/18 04:34, Eli Turkel via Avodah wrote:
> Nevertheless, halacha would completely rely on their testimony. Note 
> that Blasey Ford gave details and was certain of her version and so 
> would probably pass "drishot";

She certainly wouldn't.  The most glaring problem with her claim was 
precisely that she could not fulfil the most basic drishot: "when and 
where did this allegedly happen"?  Without being able to specify these 
it becomes "eidut she'i ata yachol lehazima" -- it's impossible to claim 
that the accused was elsewhere that day, let alone the witness.

Zev Sero            A prosperous and healthy 5779 to all
z...@sero.name       Seek Jerusalem's peace; may all who love you prosper

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Message: 5
From: Zvi Lampel
Date: Mon, 8 Oct 2018 09:26:27 -0400
Re: [Avodah] Bereishit

Fri, 05 Oct 2018 15:42:10 -0700, Rabbi <ra...@opengemara.org> wrote:

The question is if we're working within nature or without. So hurricanes
> are natural, but Beriya very well may not (do you have a source that
> nature started from day 1 vs day 6 or when Adam was evicted from Gan
> Eden)?

*Yes, Chazal and the Rishonim all understood that the six day creation
process was not a natural one.*

''All of creation was created fully formed''. At *ma?aseh b?reishis* the ox
was created not as a calf but as an adult [Rashi in *Rosh Hashanah* 26a s.v.
 *shor sheh-hu par*]; and Adam was likewise created as an adult standing
fully erect, the Talmud reports, within the same 24-hour period.

The idea that Creation was anything less than a totally miraculous process,
not conducted through natural processes at all, ''accelerated? or
otherwise, is rejected by the *Maharal* (*Be?er HaGolah*, p. 83, *Be?er

Know that G-d brought out these creations, all of them, to physical reality
during the six days of *Breishis* by Himself, in His Own Glory?not by means
of an agent, meaning Nature. Creation was contrary to the way things are
after the conclusion of the six days of *Breishis*, wherein *Hashem
Yisborach* conducts His world by means of the agent, i.e. *Nature*.

The *Rambam* explains in *Moreh Nevuchim *that it is illegitimate to base
conclusions about the origin of the world by examining how the world looks
now and assuming that the processes that would now produce such results
were responsible, because the nature of things at their origin is different.

EVERYTHING produced comes into existence from non-existence; even when the
substance of ?a thing has been in existence, and has only changed its form,
the thing itself, which has gone ?through the process of genesis and
development, and has arrived at its final state, has now ?different
properties from those which it possessed at the commencement of the
transition from ?potentiality to reality, or before that time. Take, for
example, the human ovum as contained in the ?female's blood when still
included in its vessels: Its nature is different from what it was in the
?moment of conception, when it was met by the semen of the male and began
to develop. The ?properties of the semen in that moment were different from
the properties of the living being ?after its birth when fully developed.
It is therefore quite impossible to infer, from the nature ?anything
possesses after having passed through all stages of its development, what
the ?condition of the thing had been at the time this process commenced.
Nor does the condition of ?a thing in this moment show what its previous
condition has been. If you make this mistake, and ?attempt to prove the
nature of a thing in potential existence by its properties when actually
?existing, you will fall into great confusion: You win reject evident
truths and admit false ?opinions.?

Let us assume, in our above instance, that a man born without defect had
after his birth been ?nursed by his mother only a few months; the mother
then died, and the father alone brought him ?up in a lonely island, till he
grew up, became wise, and acquired knowledge. Suppose this man ?has never
seen a woman or any female being: he asks some person how man has come into
?existence, and how he has developed, and receives the following answer:
''Man begins his ?existence in the womb of an individual of his own class,
namely, in the womb of a female, which ?has a certain form. While in the
womb he is very small; yet he has life, moves, receives ?nourishment, and
gradually grows, till he arrives at a certain stage of development. He then
?leaves the womb and continues to grow till he is in the condition in which
you see him.'' The ?orphan will naturally ask: ''Did this person, when he
lived, moved, and grew in the womb, eat ?and drink, and breathe with his
mouth and his nostrils? Did he excrete any substance?'' The ?answer will
be, ''No.'' Undoubtedly he will then attempt to refute the statements of
that person, ?and to prove their impossibility, by referring to the
properties of a fully developed person, in the ?following manner:

? When any one of us is deprived of breath for a short time, he dies, and
cannot move any ?longer. How then can we imagine that any one of us has
been enclosed in a bag in the ?midst of a body for several months and
remained alive, able to move??

? If any one of us would swallow a living bird, the bird would die
immediately when it ?reached the stomach, much more so when it came to the
lower part of the belly; if we ?should not take food or drink with our
mouth, in a few days we should undoubtedly be ?dead! How then can a human
being remain alive for months without taking food??

? If any person would take food and would not be able to excrete it, great
pains and death ?would follow in a short time--and yet I am to believe that
man has lived for months ?without that function?!?

? Suppose by accident a hole were formed in the belly of a person, it would
prove fatal, ?and yet we are to believe that the navel of the fetus has
been open?!?

? Why should the fetus not open the eyes, spread forth the bands and
stretch out the legs, if, ?as you think, the limbs are all whole and

This mode of reasoning would lead to the conclusion that man cannot come
into existence and ?develop in the manner described.?

We, the community following in the footsteps of Moses and Abraham, believe
that the world came into being IN such-and-such a form, and BECAME
such-and-such FROM such-and-such (*haya kach mi-kach *), and such WAS
CREATED AFTER such. Aristotle comes to uproot our words, bringing proofs
against us based upon nature in its stabilized, perfected and active state.
As for us, we declare against him that this is legitimate evidence [for
determining processes that must have occurred] after nature?s having
settled down in its fully developed stage; but in no way does this
correspond to something?s characteristics at its being brought into
existence, and produced out of absolute non-existence (MN 2:17).

Shabbos marks the cessation of a process that was ongoing beforehand. If
G-d's method of development of the world was through the same natural laws
and processes in effect now, what ceased on the first Shabbos?

None of the things mentioned above [the creation of Eve from Adam, the tree
of life, and the tree of knowledge, the history of the serpent and the
events connected therewith] is impossible, because THE LAWS OF NATURE WERE

The Ralbag uniquely understands specific statements by Chazal to be saying
that Hashem created virtually everything simultaneously and instantaneously
on the first day, all in their fully developed form (with the exception of
the growth of vegetation of the fifth day) and that therefore the ?days? of
Creation are ?categories.? This makes the creation process even less
natural. It is noteworthy that the approach of the Ralbag is to build the
understanding through the teachings of *Chazal*, and not through rejecting
them on the basis that they differ with the science of the day.

Zvi Lampel


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Message: 6
From: Cantor Wolberg
Date: Mon, 8 Oct 2018 10:38:02 -0400
[Avodah] Noach An Interesting Insight

Last week God created the world. This week 
(some 1,656 years later), God destroys the world.
Interestingly, the Baal Hatanya (Shneur Zalman of Liadi)
writes that the flood has never ended and continues until
this very day. We are all subject to the floods in life. We 
are flooded with all sorts of problems, issues, conflicts,
etc. ? some more, some less. The world is still chaotic
but when we do our part to minimize our personal floods,
we help to minimize the floods of the world. 

The flood of money that gushes into politics today is a pollution
of democracy.
Theodore White (American political journalist and historian)
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Message: 7
From: Micha Berger
Date: Mon, 8 Oct 2018 14:37:57 -0400
Re: [Avodah] two witnesses

On Mon, Oct 08, 2018 at 11:34:52AM +0300, Eli Turkel via Avodah wrote:
: In halakha the highest level of trustworthiness in 2 witnesses.
: Nevertheless, scientific studies have shown that one's memory is colored by
: many factors. This is especially true if the event occurred in the distant
: past.

Chaqirah is the ability to answer specific questions about the when
and where of the event:
    1- Which shemitah cycle
    2- Which year in the cycle
    3- Which month
    4- Day of month
    5- Day of week
    6- Hour of day
    7- Where

And the SA discusses what we do now when we don't use 1&2 as the primary
means of identifying the year, if the person is off by a day in the month,
but has the correct day-of-week so that it's an obvious calendar mistake
not error, etc...

There is also the regular notion of cross examination, derishah.

Every question is asked at least three ways, and in different orders. AND,
asked of each eid separately.

And if we're talking about 2 eidim with regard to a sin/crime, the eidim
had to have given hasra'ah. So it's not simply relying on memory; they
had to at the time have participated in trying to stop the sin.

So let's talk more about dinei mamonos, where neither hasra'ah nor eid
echad neeman be'isurim apply.

Still, we confabulate memories. Especially emotionally laden ones like
something a heated argument is churning over.

But can two eidim confabulate identically when they can't hear eachothers'

But I would like to really focus on is:
: In halakha the highest level of trustworthiness in 2 witnesses.

I don't think the power of two eidim lies in trustworthiness.

If so, why would we hold terei kemei'ah? After all, if dozens of people
say the same thing, why would we believe two holdouts equally?

For that matter, what would eidus be more trustworthy than even "smoking
gun" level evidence?

I would put the ne'emanus of eidim in my pet theory about halakhah being
about reality-as-observed. Evidence isn't observation. Eidus is. Add
the ability to compare stories, and we have established something on
the level of metzi'us. (Which, I remind you, is phrased to be about that
which can be "found", not that which exists in principle.)

And metzi'us doesn't deal in more or less likely. Qol kavu'ah applies
to doubts that open in in once-observed realities.

But I fear that more than one paragraph on this topic would annoy people
who didn't go for the idea in prior iterations. So, unless there is
interest expressed, I will stop here.

Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger                 Life is complex.
mi...@aishdas.org                Decisions are complex.
http://www.aishdas.org               The Torah is complex.
Fax: (270) 514-1507                                - R' Binyamin Hecht

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Message: 8
From: Prof. Levine
Date: Mon, 08 Oct 2018 17:39:41 -0400
[Avodah] Shapiro Gives Fiery, Unprecedented Assault On

IMO many people do not really understand the implications of an 
abortion.  I certainly did not fully grasp this until I saw Ben 
Shapiro's take on abortion. YL

Ben Shapiro is a conservative commentator who is 
Orthodox.  Indeed,  he proudly wears a yarmulka all of the time when 
he speaks and is being interviewed.

On Sunday, at the conclusion of the latest edition of The Ben Shapiro 
Election Special on the Fox News Network, Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief 
Ben Shapiro used the last segment of the show to mount a powerful 
assault on abortion that was unlike any seen on a network news show 
before. Shapiro showed pictures from ultrasounds and illustrations of 
babies at various stages in utero to support his case, aware that 
when women see ultrasounds of the babies they are carrying, they are 
much less likely to consider having an abortion.

Shapiro then reached the apex of his argument:

Human life is a continuous process of growth, from the moment of 
fertilization onward. Abortion is the killing of this human life. The 
later the abortion takes place, the more brutal the procedure, but no 
matter the brutality of the procedure, it is obvious that abortion is 
not some mere optional surgery to be performed for convenience. And 
it?s even more obvious that those who want to protect the lives of 
the unborn aren?t trying to control women?s bodies.

Those who cherish abortion are trying to control and dismember the 
bodies of the unborn. Think about that next time you see a radical 
feminist in a Handmaid's Tale outfit suggesting that you?d better 
respect her right to carve apart an unborn baby in the womb or you?re 
some sort of fascist.

No more euphemisms.


and especially the video at 

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