Volume 11 Number 83
                       Produced: Tue Feb 15  7:38:40 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Genesis and the Big Bang
         [David Charlap]
Misrepresenation of Halakha
         [Warren Burstein]
Mormons and Avoda Zara
         [Mark Steiner]
Shul Choirs
         [Ben Berliant]
The Big Bang and Genesis
         [Frank Silbermann]


From: <david@...> (David Charlap)
Date: Mon, 7 Feb 94 11:21:34 -0500
Subject: re: Genesis and the Big Bang

Steve Wildstrom <wild@...> writes:
>  But to get from six days to 15 billion years requires a time-dilation 
>factor on the order of 10^12. Working through the algebra, this requires 
>a velocity considerably in excess of 99.9% of the speed of light.

Time dilation can also be caused by proximity to a large gravity
source... (see below)

Robert Israel <israel@...> writes:

>At last a question I know a bit about!  Unfortunately, I think doing
>the calculations makes it less believable rather than more.
>In method (2), if you are stationary at a distance r from the centre of
>a spherically symmetric gravitating body with mass M (in appropriate
>units), time is slowed down by a factor (1 - 2M/r)^(-1/2).  Therefore we
>need r to be approximately (1 + 10^(-24)) 2M.  Well, the "body" will
>have to be a black hole, and 2M is the location of the event horizon:
>anything inside the event horizon can never escape or send a signal to
>the outside.  For a black hole of the mass of the sun, M is about 1500
>metres, so r - 2M would be about 3 * 10^(-21) metres.  It's difficult to
>convey how fantastically small this distance is: about a millionth of
>the radius of an electron.

But you're assuming a very small mass (our sun).  Consider the gravity
of the entire mass/energy of the known Universe.  Also consider that
God would be beyond this universe at the time of the Creation.  (since
He couldn't be within something that didn't exist yet.)

>I venture no opinions on why the Torah would be written from the point of 
>view of an observer moving in circles at 99.99999999999999999999995 percent 
>of the speed of light, or hovering extremely close to the event horizon of
>a black hole.

How close is very close to the event-horizon of a universe-sized black
hole.  Carl Sagan mentioned that some scientists (I forget who) ran a
calculation to find out how large a black hole with all the mass of
the universe would be, and it came out to about the size of the universe.

And none of the relativity calculations can predict what happens
within the event horizon of a black hole.  If the universe itself is
one, then we can make no predictions about what the time ratio between
us (within it) and God (beyond it) would be.


From: <warren@...> (Warren Burstein)
Date: Thu, 10 Feb 1994 09:49:46 GMT
Subject: Re: Misrepresenation of Halakha

Ezra Bob Tanenbaum writes:

>It was common in Europe to forbid "Schitat Chutz" (Meat from out of town
>butchers) in order to ensure that the local butcher would stay in business.
>They didn't just say, "It's kosher, but you should patronize our local
>butcher." The rabbis specifically termed the meat "not kosher".

I wonder how such a prohibition could work.  If the meat from out of
town is "not kosher", doesn't that mean that when someone visits the
next town he can't eat it there, either, and if someone buys a used
pot from the other town it has to be kashered?

Isn't there also a danger that like the legendary place where they
don't eat bananas on Pesach, this town will forever consider the next
town's meat not kosher, even once the butcher has retired and there is
no choice but to import?

 |warren@      But the chef
/ nysernet.org is not all that concerned.


From: Mark Steiner <MARKSA@...>
Date: Mon, 7 Feb 94 09:43:32 -0500
Subject: Mormons and Avoda Zara

     The appropriate source for resolving the Mormon controversy
concerning the use of their expertise in genealogy is the Talmud, A. Z.
27b (my translation): "It happened that Ben Dama, son of R.  Ishmael's
sister, was bitten by a snake; and Yaakov of Kfar Sachania [a 'min'
(sectarian) perhaps an early Christian] came to heal him--and R. Ishmael
did not permit him.  He [Ben Dama] said to him: 'R. Ishmael, my brother,
allow him to heal me, and I will cite Scripture proving that it is
permitted'--but before he finished speaking, he expired.  R. Ishmael
called out: 'How fortunate are you Ben Dama; your body is pure [tahor],
and your soul expired in purity; for you never transgressed the words of
your colleagues'...  [for] 'minuth' (heresy) is enticing."

     Tosafot ad locum (a little truncated at the end, those who are
learned should consult the original): "It appears [from this] that even
from an expert physician...who is a 'min' [Christian, sectarian] one
cannot accept any treatment...but one can say, this applies only to a
treatment in which he mentions the name of the `avoda zara (idol, below:
a. z.) and says that the a. z. is efficacious--in that case, one is
certainly likely to be drawn [toward a. z.] and it is
forbidden....likewise, if the physician, even if he is not himself a
sectarian, said: take water from the a. z. or branches from trees that
are growing before a. z. it is forbidden...However, R. Yitshak (RI)
says, that this is only if the physician says that _only_ those waters
or branches are effective...but if he does not attribute the effect to
those [waters, branches] more than to others, but rather says 'Bring me
water or branches' it is permitted to bring them even from a. z....so
long as he does not say, 'Bring me...from a. z.'"

     Here the prohibition has nothing to do with the standard
prohibition on deriving benefit from idolatry or any of its instruments,
but with counteracting the spread of the _ideology_ of a. z., i.e.
minuth, among Jews.  Whether Mormonism involves overt acts of idolatry
(I have no idea--but the common notion that the rishonim held
Christianity not to violate the prohibition of a. z.  is seriously
mistaken), it is certainly minuth as an ideology.  (I will not address
the issue here of whether Gentiles are permitted to _believe in_, as
distinct from worshiping, Christianity or other forms of "minuth.")
Hence most of the postings on this subject are irrelevant.  The issue
is: will the use by Jews of the Mormon expertise and software lead to
the strengthening of their efforts to convert Jews.  This depends
crucially upon how the software is packaged and on other factual
matters, and only a rav on the scene can "pasken."

     It is true that there is a disanalogy between the Talmudic case and
the question before us, since there is no claim being made of a direct
cause-effect relationship between the Mormon religion and the benefit
derived from the software.  On the other hand, the software was created,
I am told, for the heretical purpose of "saving" the souls of Jewish
departed by listing their names.  Hence, the use of the software is
acquiescence in this offensive practice, similar to the use of
information gathered from immoral medical experiments.  Since we see
that the Talmud holds that the prohibition of abetting minuth is worth
dying for, there is certainly reason for being cautious.

     If there is a charge for using the software, and it is made clear
that the charge is in support of idolatrous activities or campaigns to
proselytize Jews (among others), there is another prohibition
involved--that of supporting a. z. (A. Z. 12b-13a).  This seems worse
than what Rabbenu Tam condones (Tos. 34b s.v.  _nehenin_), as the
practice of buying bread from a Church bakery, which he justifies as
support for the clergy rather than for the religion (also the bakery was
in a different place--notice, by the way, that R. Tam's statement
presupposes that Christianity is in itself a. z.).  If the software is
given out free, one must take account of the prohibition of accepting
freebies from a. z. (A. Z.  34b, cf. Rashi 'shelo betova' and Tos.,
ibid.)--the feeling of gratitude to a. z. is itself forbidden to
inculcate, to say nothing of expressing (a fortiori from A. Z. 20a).

     I have deliberately avoided quoting from the Shulchan Aruch in
order not to give the impression that I am making an halakhic decision.
The readers are advised to ask a competent authority (though, be warned,
there are few experts on A. Z.: even Rashi's own rabbeim were not fully
conversant with the Tractate, cf. 74a Rashi "uvasar" etc., and Tos. "elu
asurin" and the other--much more explicit--sources cited by H.
Soloveitchik in his famous article on yayn nesekh).


From: Ben Berliant <C14BZB@...>
Date: Tue, 8 Feb 94 19:35:47 -0500
Subject: Shul Choirs

Jeremy Nussbaum asked for 
>1. personal opinions about the musicality of Shabat and Yom Tov
>davening, e.g. does having a "nice sounding" davening enhance or detract
>from your davening experience.
>2. experiences with choirs in Orthodox shuls (listening or singing).

	The shul where I usually daven has (occasionally) a professional
chazzan who sometimes performs with a choir.  So I offer my opinion as a

	I enjoy the chazzan (usually). Less so when he 'drays' a lot. 
But I find it pleasing to hear good nusach, good music, and correct

	The choir does not perform every week -- usually only on
"Shabbat mevorchim" or on Yom Tov.  I do not look forward to these
occasions for several reasons.  
	First,  I find that when the choir performs, the davening takes
MUCH longer.  On those occasions, we sometimes get out of shul as late
as 12:45 -- and that's without the Rabbi's sermon! (When neither the
chazzan nor the choir is there, we are usually out by 11:30) 
	The second problem with the choir is that they "perform".  I
find that, when the choir is there, the davening turns into more of a
theatrical performance than a tefila b'tzibbur;  the congregation
becomes purely passive participants while the choir and the chazzan put
on a show.  It is certainly beautiful music, but I find it hard to
relate to as tefila.
	On the other hand, I believe that a choir CAN make positive
contributions to tefilla. - particularly on Shabbat Rosh chodesh.  My
experience with shuls is that few people in the average shul know the
correct way to say Hallel -- so the choir can be an educational tool.
Specifically, when the chazzan says "Yomar na yisrael..etc." the choir
can respond, "Hodu lashem ..etc." thereby leading the congregation in
the correct response.
					BenZion Berliant


From: Frank Silbermann <fs@...>
Date: Tue, 8 Feb 94 13:29:42 -0500
Subject: The Big Bang and Genesis

In regards to the question of why the world appears to be 15 billion
years old if the world was created in 6 days Vol.11 No.70 Marc Warren

> I believe Dr. Schroeder's argument was this.  When G-d first created
> the universe, all the energy and mass was centered in a single point.
> This "point" then expanded and we begin to see some of the effects
> of the big bang.  But since all the original mass had been concentrated
> in this point the relativistic effects due to gravity caused dramatic aging,
> which is why it now appears to us that the earth is 15 billion years.

Is he saying that, from G-d's perspective, things actually happened
faster than they would have seemed from a perspective inside the

E.g. from G-d's perspective, did radioactive elements have a
dramatically quicker half-life than would have appeared from our

Since the motion of matter and its aging are intertwined, should we also
assume that the frequencies by which the earth rotated and circled the
sun were much faster from G-d's persective than from ours?  If so, we
can conclude that during the creation of the universe the earth has
circled the sun far more than 6,000 times, and has spun on its axis
_far_ more than 6,000 x 366 times.  Whether this means the earth is more
than "6,000 years old" depends on whether you define "year" as an
absolute measure of time, or as a count of how many times the planets
did something.

I assume that the earth has circled the sun billions of times, however
quickly this may have happened.

> But the earth was created in 6 days if one were to simply go by
> the number of nights and days.
Perhaps, if one considers "day" to be an absolute measure of time
independent of matter and its transformations.

Physics has no definition for time in the absolute sense, but rather
only relative to matter and its transformations.  As with words like
"kedushah" (holiness), "day" as an absolute measure has no scientific
meaning, and cannot be related to scientific concepts.

Frank Silbermann	<fs@...>
Tulane University	New Orleans, Louisiana  USA


End of Volume 11 Issue 83