Volume 12 Number 78
                       Produced: Sat Apr 23 23:55:37 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Bruce Krulwich]
The Code Infallibility Paradox
         [Lou Steinberg]
The Code Paradox
         ["R. Shaya Karlinsky"]


From: Bruce Krulwich <krulwich@...>
Date: Fri, 22 Apr 1994 14:54:42 -0400
Subject: Chumros

I've been really bothered by the discussion recently on chumros.  What
concerns me is not the things that have been said about chumros per se,
but rather the attitude I perceive that people use the cry of "chumra!"
to invalidate or diminish someone else's position and to avoid looking
into the issues involved in a constructive way.

I'm going to go through a few examples of issues that have been subject
to the "chumra" attack.  Note that I don't personally keep all of these
more machmer [strict] positions, and that I don't mean to attack the
meikil [lenient] views.  The point here is that the attack of "chumra"
is often wrong and is (I think) an excuse not to investigate the issue.
"70 faces in the Torah" works both ways.

Consider the most common example of glatt meat.  I (in general) only eat
glatt meat.  I don't do so because of the chumra of the Ramo, nor to
fulfill the shita of the Mechaber.  Why do I only eat glatt then, you
ask?  Because the psak [ruling] I've gotten repeatedly from Rabbaim is
that there are serious kashrus problems with non-glatt meat in America,
at the level of ikar haDin [central halacha, not chumra].  (Please note
that the Rabbaim involved have run the whole spectrum of

How can it be that American non-Glatt meat is problematic?  Well, note
that the OU doesn't give its hechsher to any (that I know of), nor do
any other mainstream national kashrus agencies (that I know of).  Note
also the legislation against Hebrew National, the decision of 3 major
midwest Kashrus councils to not consider Sinai 48 meat Kosher (despite
the strong political pressure to consider it Kosher), etc.  Note also
the constant concerns that are raised about various practices at the
meat plants themselves.  It's no different from deciding what hechsher
to rely on.

The bottom line for our discussion here is not whether you agree with me
(or with my Rabbaim) about American non-Glatt meat.  The point is that
I, for one, keep glatt not for reasons of chumra, but because of
consistant and clear psak to do so out of ikar haDin Kashrus issues.  If
you disagree with the psak, fine, there are 70 faces to the Torah.  But
don't yell that I'm just keeping a chumra, or that there's something
wrong with my keeping this position, or that there's something wrong
with my saying that it's a mainstream halachic issue.

Note, by the way, that the same is true about meat in Israel.  Those who
refuse to eat the meat imported by the Rabbanut from Argentina are not
doing so for reasons of chumra, but rather because there are serious
halachic issues involved in freezing meat between shchita and kashering.
No issue of chumra.

Let's consider another halachic issue, this time one which I'm
personally meikil on: Cholov Yisroel.  Anyone Chassidic, or more
specifically anyone who does not accept R' Moshe's leniency to permit
Cholov haCompanies (aka Cholov Stam), is adhering to Cholov Yisroel not
out of chumra but out of basic halacha.  This has been discussed before
so I don't think I need to go into the details, but without R' Moshe's
responsa (and those of one or two others), there is no leniency to drink
non-Cholov milk.  Also, according to most readings of R' Moshe, there's
no leniency except in time of need.  (That said, I personally eat Cholov
Stam, since I'm happy to keep R' Moshe's positions, although I'm not
sure he would agree with my "need" for Dunkin Donuts.)

My general point, as I hope has been clear, is that the hue and cry of
"chumra!  bad bad bad!" is way over-used and most often misplaced.  In
thinking about the issues in many so-called chumras, there are in fact
issues of basic halacha, and reducing the other position to "chumra" is
basically delegitimization of one side of the issues.  This is true for
glatt meat, and for cholov Yisroel, and for many others: eruvim (in
practice), shmura matza, tzanei tefila (times for davening), hechshers,
tznius [modesty], loshon hora, etc etc etc.  Please realize that
delegitimizing an opinion by calling it a chumra is still delegitimizing
an opinion, and you'd better be sure first that you're not simply
attacking a valid halachic position out of defensiveness.

I'm sorry if this has been long, but I had to get it off my chest.

Dov (Bruce) Krulwich


From: <lou@...> (Lou Steinberg)
Date: Thu, 21 Apr 1994 16:05:59 -0400
Subject: Re: The Code Infallibility Paradox

As I understand things, there are two kinds of "codes".:

One is specific interesting occurrences. e.g. a code for Haman in the
section on Amalek.  (I'm not sure if this specific example really
happens, but it illustrates the idea.)  This kind of code is like a
gematria - it is interesting but, since one would assume some number
of such occurrences would happen by chance anyway, it proves nothing.

The other kind of "code" is a statistical correlation of many such
specific occurrences.  E.g. it is claimed that the locations of codes
for the names and dates of death of a set of famous Rabbis are
correlated in a way that is so unlikely that it would be ridiculous to
claim it happened by chance.  If this claim holds up, it does prove
something: that the specific wording of the Torah was designed by
Someone with foreknowledge of the future and a super-human ability to
weave such codes into a text.

Note, however, that that is all it proves.  It does not prove, e.g.,
that the Torah was revealed by G-d to Moshe.  Other explanations are
possible - e.g.  science fiction literature has featured "beings" who,
while definitely not G-d, would have the ability to fashion such a
text.  (On the other hand, simply proving that the Torah cannot have a
human author is still important since it does force the non-religious
person, who heretofore had believed in "Torah from humans", to find
some other theory, and we can hope that he will find "Torah min
haShamayim" [Torah from Heaven] more believable than "Torah from a
time-traveling supercomputer" or any other explanation.)

Also, because the proof that the codes are not accidental rests on
having many specific examples (e.g., the names and dates of death of
many Rabbis), one specific correlation by itself proves nothing.  In
fact, even if, e.g., there was such a correlation between codes for
Shabbat and codes for Sunday, it would only prove that the Author was
making *some* connection between Shabbat and Sunday - maybe He is
warning that Shabbat is NOT Sunday.  So I don't understand how there
ever could be a conflict between the kind of things the codes can (in
a rigorous sense) prove and anything in our Tradition.


From: "R. Shaya Karlinsky" <msbillk@...>
Date: Fri, 22 Apr 1994 13:32:29 +0300 (WET)
Subject: The Code Paradox

     I appreciated Dr. Juni's <JUNI@...> lengthy and detailed
response in MJ 12/73 to my posting on false prophecy and its possible
connection with "the codes."   It touches on some very fundamental
principles of Jewish belief, and I will accept Dr. Juni's invitation to
set my presentation straight.  To do so, I will respond to his points in
a different order than he wrote them.

     First comes a prevalent reaction to the whole notion of false
      >C. I personally find the idea of G-d actually sending us a
>misleading false prophesy (in contrast to G-d not interfering with a
>messenger who decides to falsify a prophecy, or with a person
>fabricating one) perplexing.
     I appreciate your discomfort.  But G-d Himself told us He would do
it.  Devarim 13:1-4 contains a whole description of the occurrence of the
false with the reason for it happening: "For G-d is testing you."
     (How G-d "sending" him can co-exist with the prophet's free will
sends us in to a whole other area of discussion, better left for another
>If G-d actually sends us a false prophet,
>does the Bais Din execute him even if he is an accurate reporter of his
     A false prophet as an accurate reporter of his message is a
contradiction in terms.  How do you know if he is an accurate reporter of
his message?  If the (good) prediction doesn't materialize, or if his
statement of prophecy is in contradiction to the Torah, he isn't an
accurate reporter.  Under either of those circumstances, Beis Din
absolutely executes him, since he lied in his prophecy. (See the later
quoted Rambam Ch. 10)

>The idea of G-d sponsoring actual miracles just to deceieve and
>test the audience is incongruous. I believe that the Talmud (Sanhedrin
>90a) rejects this notion explicitly.
     No, it is a machlokes [argument].  You have presented Rabbi Akiva's
position at the end of the sugya.  Rabbi Yossi HaGlili (RYHG) clearly
disagrees with that, and I think the implication is that Rabbi Yochanan
and other participants in the discussion side with RYHG.

    > A. The Rambam explains the miracle performed by the false prophet
>totally differently than Rabbi Karlinsky cites it.  The Rambam states in
>the last Chapter of Yesodei Hatorah that the messenger is punished for
>fabricating his message, and that his miracle must have involved
>trickery/magic and sleight of hand.
     In the LAST chapter, he doesn't speak at all about miracles.  The
discussion centers on the prophets predictions coming true.  The only
validation that the prophet has (or needs) is the fulfillment of his
predictions.  The Rambam contrasts that to fortune and future tellers.
     In chapter 9 (next to last) Halacha 1, he talks about a prophet who
validates his prophecy with a miraculous act.  There he says that he is
punished for fabricating his message.  At the END of Chapter 9, in the
discussion of a prophet commanding us to _participate temporarily in idol
worship_, the Rambam concludes with the phrase "and therefore we will
know with certainty that he is false prophet and all (the miracles) that
he has done has been with sorcery and magic."  The source seems to be the
discussion in Sanhedrin 90a, from which it should be clear that a prophet
commanding to idol worship is viewed differently than one commanding for
other Torah transgressions.  See also the Introduction to Peirush
HaMishnayot, section 2.

>Indeed, the Rambam's view of all
>magical and sorcery phenomena is that never are actual events affected
>to occur -- all is in fact deceptive of the audience.
     I would like the source on this.  I am not sure what is meant by
"actual events" being affected, and "deceptive of the audience."
     I suspect that Dr. Juni is referring to the disagreement between the
Rambam and the Ramban (and other Rishonim) about the level of power G-d
put in the hands of "nature" and other forces, and how much of what
happens is the directed, localized will of G-d.

      >B. There is a distinction between prophecy and Torah text (in
>metaphor level). The Rambam in Chapter 7 of Yesodei Hatorah protrays the
>prophetic vision as a scene which is revealed during sleep to be
>interpreted analogously by the prophet. For example, Jacob's ladder with
>the ascending and descending angels represents a parable for the
>relative pattern of subjugation among nations. Clearly, this mechanism
>leaves leeway for misinterpretation.
     Emphatically not.  The Rambam writes explicity in that Halacha (#3)
"... and immediately it is carved into his heart the intrepretation of
the allegory (of the vision ) in the prophecy and he will _know_
[emphasis mine] what it is."  If it would be any different, how could you
execute a prophet for a prediction that didn't come true - he could
always claim he misinterpreted it!
     The fact that prophecy inherently includes the prophet's knowledge
of the intended message troubled Rav Dessler in understanding the
prophecy to Avraham to "sacrifice" his son, followed by G-d telling him -
in response to Avraham questioning the change in orders at the last
moment - "I said to bring him up on the altar; I never told you to
sacrifice him."  How was there room for this misinterpreation?  It is a
discussion of very fundamental issues (Michtav Me'Eliyahu, Vol. 2, pg.
194) and I mention it only to demonstrate how axiomatic it is that the
prophet knows exactly what G-d is communicating.

>      D. If we accept the Codes as statistically conclusive and if we do
>not accept the premise that G-d will attempt to trick us by sending us
>messages contradicting the authenticity of the Torah,
     Since the occurrence of false prophets is exactly to test our belief
in the Divine nature of the Torah, therefore:
>"What if you found an old **authentic** (sic) Chumash version which
>which features a mitzvah to change Shabbos observance to Sunday?"
     From a traditional Jewish perspective (defined as one based on
Chazal and Rishonim) this is a perfect example of an oxymoron.  It can't
be authentic if it had such a feature.
     How we _know_ the Torah to have been given at Sinai is much more
sophisticated and complex a discussion than "a concensual report by our
ancestors and the reported universality of contemporary acceptance of the
Sinai phenomenon."  THAT issue is what lies at the heart of the Rambam,
Ramban, and other sources that discuss this MOST fundamental issue of
Judaism and our Emunah.  It requires much in-depth study and analysis -
MUCH more than it is afforded, unfortunately, in ANY of our educational
programs or frameworks.

       >G. I do not believe I fully understand Rabbi Karlinsky's (breifly
>stated) stance vis-a-vis the Codes. If they cannot be used to support
>findings, then they cannot be used to verify the authenticity of any
>findings. Assuming that one can also find Code messages which are false
>(in addition to true ones) than the Codes are useless -- period!
     I think I presented my relatively simple stance on the codes in my
original post:  The maximum conclusion that can be garnered from the
existence of "codes" is that _the Torah was not written by human hand,
but is a Divinely written document._  This conclusion could be drawn if
and only if analysis on other documents did not reveal similar patterns,
and that the likelihood of the patterns appearing by chance are
statistically unlikely (p<.01)
     Even after determining the Divine nature of the document, we have no
definitive way of knowing what information we can extract from it or if
the codes are a way to extract it.  The only power the codes have shown
when dealing with historical occurrences (assuming these
codes/connections are not found in other documents by chance) is that the
author of the document knew what was coming before it came, and he coded
that information.  That requires a Divine author.  But He did not give us
the tools necessary to make the codes useful in a predictive way.  I
don't know if G-d put in the codes (something we need to have already
determined can't be done by man nor by chance) only to give us another
way to know the document is Divine.  Or to give us a predictive tool.  Or
to test us with codes that contradict the fundamentals of Judaism.  We
have no information on that.  All I am saying is that the system of false
prophecy indicates that G-d DOES test the depth of our convictions to see
if they can be shaken by a little "razzel dazzle."  A code of Jesus being
the Messiah would fall in to that category.
     Having said that I would have to disagree that:
>To suggest that G-d programmed false information into the Torah document
>along with true information seems fanciful
     since G-d didn't program this information in the Torah DOCUMENT, but
into an ambiguous and non-revealed way of analyzing this document.

     But for my conclusion, I wholeheartedly endorse the conclusion of
Dr. Juni.
>One can hope that the mainstream is not benignly neglecting
>to criticize an effort which is conceptually unsound just because of its
>expedience in raising religious consciousness. Such efforts are sure
>to backfire.

Shaya Karlinsky <msbillk@...>
Darche Noam/ Shapell's
PO Box 35209                  Jerusalem, ISRAEL
tel: 9722-511178              fax: 9722-520801


End of Volume 12 Issue 78