Volume 13 Number 41
                       Produced: Wed Jun  1 18:04:45 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Academic Research
         [Hayim Hendeles]
Hava Aminah
         [Sam Juni]
Israeli vs. American Programs, Israel vs Galus?
         [Ari Kurtz]
Legitimacy of Academic Research in Halacha
         [Louis Rayman]
Professional Testimony
         [Rabbi Freundel]
Ramban and Astronomy (by D. Charlap 13/24)
         [Sam Juni]
Research, Bias and Halachah
         [Mechael Kanovsky]


From: Hayim Hendeles <hayim@...>
Date: Mon, 23 May 94 16:15:27 -0700
Subject: Re: Academic Research

	>This issue has nothing to do with academics versud
	>rabbis.  However, I am confused by the whole discussion of
	>academics receiving money. The gemara in Baba Kamma (recent daf
	>yomi) states that a physician who heals for free is worth what
	>you pay for him. Thus, a doctor is worthy precisely because he
	>gets money for his services and so is accountable.

Before any physicians out there decide to become "more frum", and extra
pious, and adopt greater stringency in these matters by charging
more :-), don't forget the Halacha brought down in the Shulchan Oruch
that it is forbidden for a physician to charge for his services !!!

(For those who are interested, I heard a lecture from Rabbi Frand - on
tape - discussing the heter for physicians to charge. Needless to
say, this is a non-trivial question. His tapes are available for purchase, 
and I highly recommend them.)

The actual quote in the Talmud is "Asya Bezuza, Zuza shavya" - a doctor
who charges $1 is worth $1. I have never stopped to think about it
before, but now I am not sure how to reconcile this statement with the
aforementioned Halacha.

Hayim Hendeles


From: Sam Juni <JUNI@...>
Date: Tue, 31 May 1994 09:52:33 -0400
Subject: Hava Aminah

    There seems to be some rule of thumb which is not quite clear to the
novice in Talmud study regarding the integrity of the "Hava Aminah"
(i.e., the initial argument in a discussion which is then refuted).
Often, the Talmud itself will revert to questioning the basis of such a
Hava Aminah, even after the discussion has long rejected it (M'Ikarah
Mai Ku'Suvar). Other times, initial arguments are dismissed with a
variety of attributions.

     From what I can see, Hava Aminah's are popular starting points in
Pilpul (esoteric discourses which are intended more "for argument sake"
than for true deductive purposes.  However, some comentators (notably
Achronim such as R. Akiva Eiger) routinely take them seriously.
Moreover, some comentators take even initial questions of Talmudic
commentators (such as the Tosafos) as legitimate bases for deducing
Hallachic facts.

     I picked up the latter mode in R. Soloveitchik's shiurim, and I get
the impression that this is typical of the Brisk approach to Talmud.  I
wonder if this issue is addressed in the Talmudic literature, and
whether there is indeed an explicit rule of thumb for the treatment of
intial positions in Talmud or its Commentaries.

     Dr. Sam Juni                  Fax (718) 338-6774
     New York University           Tel (212) 998-5548
     400 East
     New York, N.Y.  10003


From: Ari Kurtz <s1553072@...>
Date: Mon, 30 May 1994 22:00:01 +0300
Subject: Israeli vs. American Programs, Israel vs Galus?

Shalom Alichem, regarding Mitch Berger's letter in volume 12 n 79 :
> I disagree with the assumption being made here that being in Israel
> means that one is not in galus. I never understood galus to be a
> geographic situation. I thought of galus as primarily being about "galus
> HaShechinah" [the exile of the Divine Presence]. It means living in a
> time of "heter panim" [hiding of "The Face"] when the figurative Hand of
> Gd can not be seen in daily events. De facto, since by nature the Jewish
> people are incapable of holding on to Israel, it means on exile of
> Israel also.  

 An instresting explanation, unfortunately it doesn't stand up to the
test of history. Since the period of Hestar Panin started and the
begining of the second temple period according to this explantion we've
been in galut since then but of course no one considers the second
Temple period as galut.  Its quite obvious that the proper defanition
for galut is : any one not living in his proper place or in this
specific case anyone not living in Israel. There may be a point that
when there's no established jewish community then even living in Israel
is considered galut. But today there is a Jewish rule in Israel and
therefor anyone living in Israel is definately not in galut.  Even if
it's not an independent rule and even when the majority of Jews are
elsewhere since both these situations existed during the second Temple
 The original discussion was (in my opinion) discussion mentalities. As we
learn (as I've noted in a previous letter) there is a damaging effect on ones
mentality in galut and thats why Rabbi Zera fasted 100 fasts to forget all
he learnt in galut when he made aliya.  The american Yeshivot maintain this
mentality therefore a student attending them loses out.  

 As far as mentality diffrences this comes about due to the fact that in 
galut ones goal in life is survive and any extra development comes only 
in the Torah world since other contributations go to advancing a soicety
based on some other religion.  While the Jew in Israel is concerned about
building the country and society.  In developing a society that's part of
the Torah way of life so all ones action serve a Torah purpose at the end .
Actually today we don't see too much of this kind of thinking in today's 
Israeli society but because even most Israeli's can get out of a galut
mentality .And instead building a Jewish society they're more concerned 
with fitting into the global community .

 Also one might add who said we were in a period of "hester panin" even
Ben Gurion said who ever doesn't beleive in miricals in this country is 
not a realist.  Open your eyes and you'll see the Hand of Hashem in all
that goes on concerning Israel.  

                                    Ari Kurtz


From: ccorp!mbr21!<lrayman@...> (Louis Rayman)
Date: Mon, 23 May 1994 11:23:43 -0400
Subject: Re: Legitimacy of Academic Research in Halacha

Hayim Hendeles writes:

> (The Talmud has a principle (Yevamos 115) that one does not lie about
> something which will ultimately become known. On this basis, the
> Talmud accepts certain types of testimony which would otherwise be
> problematic. However, it seems difficult to apply this to the
> academic situation since the numerous case of fraud that does exist
> imply researchers feel they can lie and get away with it.)

I think Hayim misunderstands the point of the gemara.

There are many cases where the gemara discusses the reliability of
"witnesses" in non-testimonial situations, like "milta diavidita leglua"
(something that will be revealed later), "biyado l'takno" (something
that the person 'testifying' was on a position to fix), "uman lo mar'eh
umnato" (an artisan or expert will not jepordize his livelyhood by
lieing about his field), "maisiach lfi toomo" (someone talking
innocently - without realizing its import), "meego" (if someone was
going to lie, we would have told a much better lie than this), and
others.  I do not believe that the gemara implies that in all these
situations it is IMPOSSIBLE to find someone who will lie anyway.  The
point is that these cases make it more likely that the 'witness' is
telling the truth, and thus allows us to believe him.

In fact, uman lo mar'eh umnato gives us a reason to belive the academics
when they report their research.  Should they be found mistaken,
purposfully or not, their reputations would be damaged, sometimes

Just because there are some corrupt academics (just like there are some
corrupt doctors, lawyers, plumbers, computer programmers, indian chiefs,
etc), does not mean that cannot rely on the rest to be honest about
their fields.

Louis Rayman - Mercenary Progammer


From: <Dialectic@...> (Rabbi Freundel)
Date: Mon, 30 May 1994 16:44:09 -0400
Subject: Professional Testimony

We also accept testimony from people whose lie would lead to Meirah
umnaso - ruining their professional credibility if caught in a
falsehood.  Scholars and mashgichim fit in such categories.


From: Sam Juni <JUNI@...>
Date: Mon, 23 May 1994 14:05:39 -0400
Subject: Ramban and Astronomy (by D. Charlap 13/24)

David Charlap defends that validity of the Rambam's view that the sun
revolves around the earth by appealing to the relativistic formulation
of motion.  To my mind, there is a fallacy in this juxtaposition.

The Rambam shared with his contemporary astronomers an ignorance (no
value judgement implied) or the relativity of motion. When he asserted
that something "moved", he meant it quite literally.  In that respect,
he would technically be incorrect whether he asserted that the sun
revolved about the earth as he would be if he asserted the converse.

As I see it, the operational definition of the Rambam's statement refers
precisely to David's simulation scenario with the fixed camera
technique.  To say that the sun revolves around the earth implies that
by having the earth "fixed" in the aether (sic), the resulting orbits of
other heavenly bodies will be plotted as neat ovals or lines, not as
bizarre "loop in loops."  Any astronomer would have considered his
particular theory re a "true vantage point for motion" disproven if it
were demonstrated to him that chosing a different vantage point would
result in neater loci of motion for other planets or stars.

     Dr. Sam Juni                  Fax (718) 338-6774
     New York University           Tel (212) 998-5548
     400 East
     New York, N.Y.  10003


From: <KANOVSKY@...> (Mechael Kanovsky)
Date: Mon, 23 May 1994 13:28:09 -0400
Subject: Re: Research, Bias and Halachah

On the subject of research, bias and halachah. There are many instances
where it can be shown that halacha and world famous poskim was biased
and in some cases justifiably so.
	The first case that came to my mind is the gemarah (brachot?)
that Rebbi (Rav Yehudah Hanassi) states "he who says king David sinned
is mistaken" the Gemorah asks on this statement that from the psukim it
is obvious that king David sinned and was punnished for doing so. The
gemarah further states that the reason behind Rebbis statement is that
he himself is a decendant of king David and he wanted to "protect" his
forefather. even though this is not a halachik statement it is
non-the-less biased.
	Rav Baruch Epstein (better known as the torah-temimah) in his
book makor baruch has a whole chapter called "shgiyot mi yavin"
(mistakes, who will understand them) and in this chapter he shows many
halachot which were brought about by mistakes. Assuming he is right then
there might be other examples of mistakes perpetuated in halacha that
only research into the original texts might show us. Mistakes such as
wrongly coppied manuscripts or as many times happened a posek relying on
what someone else wrote in his book that a third person said which was
misquoted albeit unintentionaly.
	Thirdly there are "piskey halachah" which are clearly biased
such as the original psak of Rav Mosheh Z"TL on cigarette smoking which
he permitted since many gedolim for previous generations smoked (even
though they did not know about the heath hazards that smoking caused).
This very short teshuvah (~6 lines) was probably brought about by the
fact that alot of yeshivah students smoked and therefore he felt that he
had to come up with a justification for their action. Just to prove this
point, in another teshuvah dealing with the question on whether it is
better to feed a sick person on yom kipur or have an I.V. line inserted
before yom kipur, Rav Mohseh Z"TL said that the former was better and
one reason was that although now doctors know of no detrimental side
effects to I.V. feeding maybe in the future they will discover one,
exactly the opposite reason he gave for cigarette smoking.
	The other examples could be of a poor person coming before a rav
with a question milk and meat i.e. the only food that he had for shabat
is now problamatic since a little milk got into the meat dish by mistake
and a rich man coming to the rav with the same question. In the poor
mans case the rav will try to find "legal loopholes" in order to say
that the dish is OK to eat whereas in the rich mans case the rav will
usualy go by the letter of the law. the point that I am trying to make
is that there are external reasons why a posek decides a case and this
does not render him a disqualified posek also a researcher who is being
paid for his research does not automaticaly render him "pasul"
	Annother point is that in research even though there might be
pressure to publish one will not publish false data so readily since
this is what the halacha would consider "milta de'ati le'agluyei"
something that might be discovered later on, and when fraud is
discovered the researchers career is esentialy over. So even Rav Meir
who is choshesh lemiut, the ammount of researcher who commit perjury is
a muit de miut that even Rav Meir is not choshesh for them.  
mechael kanovsky


End of Volume 13 Issue 41