Volume 14 Number 8
                       Produced: Sun Jul 10 22:24:03 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Church and State.
         [Michael Lipkin]
Flat Earth - Round Earth: Help!
         [Sam Juni]
Kabalistic Healing
         [Harry Weiss]
Torah and World Knowledge (2)
         [Jonathan Katz, Warren Burstein]
Torah through the Generations
         [David Brofsky]


From: <msl@...> (Michael Lipkin)
Date: Tue, 5 Jul 1994 13:13:51 -0400
Subject: Church and State.

In MJ 13:88 Sam Juni sums up his feelings on the religious holidays issue
by saying;

>Christmas is not my holiday.  Rosh Hashana (and others) are.  It
>bothers me to get off on the former rather than the latter.

The U.S. government is not forcing Sam to observe Christmas.  There are
no F.B.I. agents holding him down while they erect a fully decorated
tree in his living room, nor is the C.I.A. blackmailing him into
attending mass, and, by Dr. Juni's own admission, nobody is forcing him
to stay home from work.  Let's be practical here, the overwhelming
majority (more than 90%?) of the U.S. is Christian.  Suppose they gave a
work day and nobody came?  That's basically what would happen if the
federal government was open on Christmas.  Sure there may originally
have been religious roots and/or overtones to there being a federal
Christmas holiday, but it is eminently practical.

I went to public high school in suburban New Jersey.  School was closed
on the first day of Rosh Hashana and on Yom Kippur.  Less than a
majority of the students were Jewish, but enough of the students and
faculty were, that it would have been impractical to keep the school

It is the desire by some to create a separation of church and state
never envisioned or intended by the founding fathers (The first
amendment speaks of government ESTABLISHMENT of religion) that creates a
hostile environment for simple, practical accommodations like the ones
above.  These days every little group is so busy running around looking
for ways to be offended that they will go to any lengths to fight a
perceived wrong, even if in reality there is no measurable negative
impact on anyone.  I leave you with the following example:

Several years ago the orthodox community in Long Branch, New Jersey was
attempting to put up an eruv.  Most municipal eruvim, as was this one,
are created by leasing existing utility poles and wires to form a
boundary within which it is permissible to carry on Shabbos.  The
process of obtaining permission from the utility companies and the town
was nearly complete when the ACLU struck.  A non-orthodox ACLU member
who lived within the potential eruv boundaries was suing Long Branch to
prevent approval of the eruv.  Why?  Because, she claimed the eruv would
violate her "right" NOT to observe the Sabbath. (The ACLU ultimately
lost and the eruv went up.)



From: Sam Juni <JUNI@...>
Date: Fri, 8 Jul 1994 02:24:55 -0400
Subject: Flat Earth - Round Earth: Help!

I seem to have gotten embroiled in an esoteric historical controversy
which is quite irrelevant to me. I want out.

I a posting some time ago, I presented a position that modern science
has seen the advent of revolutionary conceptualizations which were
doubtless unknown and unfathomable to our ancestors, including Torah
giants. I listed, among others, such concepts as relativity of motion,
life-forms which are invisible, The idea of vision not emanating from
the eyes, the idea that sound is merely- a vibration pattern of the air,
and the non-absoluteness (relativity of up vs. down).

I chose the issue of the round earth concept because one cannot have a
true (accurate) view of the round earth with the correct notion of
gravity without usurping the absolute up/down postulate (i.e., in
dealing with such vexing questions as "How come the people in China
don't fall off the Earth?). In that context, the citations of the
earth-sphere references in alleged Talmudic or Rabbinnical sources mean
very little, for if they imagined a spherical Earth, I am sure they
still left the bottom of the Earth as subject to fall-offs, etc.
Clearly, the notion that "up" is not absolute wsa not conceived in their
minds.  Conceptually, nothing changes in any theory if the Earth is
flat, round, or Bagel-shaped.

     Dr. Sam Juni                  Fax (212) 995-3474
     New York University           Tel (212) 998-5548
     400 East
     New York, N.Y.  10003


From: <harry.weiss@...> (Harry Weiss)
Date: Sun, 26 Jun 94 13:21:44 
Subject: Kabalistic Healing

I received in the mail a letter and advertisement from a Rabbi in Los
Angeles. He writes about his spiritual/metaphysical healing.  He says
"The healing work that I do is based on secrets of The Holy Kabbalah as
well as on a wonderful gift from Hadkadosh Baruch Hu, which along with
my understanding of Kabbalah, allows me to be able to tap into and
generate healing energies.  The method I use. which includes "laying on
of hands" has ben know to, and has been used by, Mekubalim (Scholars of
Kabbalah), for more than three thousand years."

In his attached advertisement his says how he can heal all types of
physical - emotional - spiritual problems specializing in infertility,
hormone and chemical imbalances, chronic fatigue syndrome, cancer,
heart, arthritis, digestive system disorders, pain relief.  He
advertises that the first consultation is free.

He refers to "two "G-d -given" gifts that comprise the basics of
metaphysical healing approach: internal vision and the ability to
generate healing energies.  Internal vision is a human version of the
x-ray machine..to look inside the body at whatever depth and resolution
is required.  Healing energies are electric-like charges emitted from
what metaphysics experts describe as "hands of light."  Metaphysical
healing is used in conjunction with conventional medicine--each source
doing what it does best for the ultimate benefit and healing of the

There are no Rabbinical Haskamot (approbations) attached to the ad.  I
would like to get opinions from other MJers out there.  Is this sort of
thing for real or is it outright chicanery?  Is there any legitimate
Halachic basis for this?



From: Jonathan Katz <frisch1@...>
Date: Wed, 06 Jul 94 21:03:53 EDT
Subject: Torah and World Knowledge

Eliyahu Zukierman makes some elegant arguments regarding the scientific
knowledge of previous generations (he argues that we today know less
about science than previous generations did). Ultimately, however, I
find his arguments inconclusive.

He first cites a quote from the Chazon Ish, the gist of which (according
to him) is that previous generations had scientific knowledge which we
today do not ha not have. I will cite a few representative sentences:
"the predecessors that put all their effort into acquiring wisdom and
understanding and did not pay attention to use their wisdom to develop
new inventions...but rather they held back from this purposely for fear
that these will fall into the wrong hands..."  The only thing this tells
me is that (at most) previous generations knew more about science *than
we give them credit for*. So, perhaps, Moshe knew of some improvement to
the spear which he held back so that the knowledge would not get into
the wrong hands. To claim that Moshe knew how to make an atomic bomb?
That seems to be streching things a bit. Also, I think the Chazon Ish is
telling us this to show their MORAL superiority, rather than their
intellectual superiority.

"we cannot enumerate all that was forgotten...(Koheles:) 'Sometimes
there is something of which one says'look this is new!'- it has already
existed in the ages before us.'"  Well, I will agree to the point that
much has been lost and forgotten.  I believe this is clear from
anthropological sources. However, I believe that the quote from Koheles
cannot seriously be taken literally. Is Koheles really saying that the
automobile existed at some previous point in history??  No. Rather,
Koheles is to be taken metaphorically: yes, the automobile is a new
invention, but it's really not so different from a train which is really
similar to a steam engine which is similar to (etc.) which is similar to
a chariot. In that sense, (and in that sense only) is "nothing new under
the sun". Or, an alternative way to explain it: yes, the automobile is
new, but the capacity to make an automobile has existed since the
beginning of the world (and God knew how to make an automobile), so you
have really "created" nothing new.  I think that both of these
explanations fit much better than the interpretation (seemingly) given
the verse by Eliyahu Zukierman.

The Chazon Ish continues: "The current disciplines are based on the
theories of earlier people..."  Well, this seems to me clear proof that
the current disciplines are at least new (even if based on something

Then Eliyahu mentions the many medical techniques mentioned in the
Gemora.  With all due respect to the Gemora, the fact is that many of
the techniques do not work (and there are many opinions which side with
my view: that medical techniques in the gemora are not to be taken as
applicable in the modern world) Now, I guess this could be viewed in two
ways: I would say that this is proff that previous generatons knew less
about medicine, while Eliyahu would undoubtably say that this proves his
thesis since we have obviously forgotten the correct way to administer
the various cures. My point is not to prove, though, that we have
nothing to learn from previous generations. My point is only that (in
total) we know a lot more than previous generations.

He then brings the famous statement: "all natural phenomena are hidden
in the Torah" This seems to imply that previous generations (who knew
the Torah "better") also knew more about science. However, this is not
the case.  I will give two reasons why: 1) Even if something is
contained in the Torah, it doesn't mean that that fact is known. The
best example of this is the codes (which is a whole other issue, but I'm
only using them to illustrate my point). The codes (apparently) contain
the death dates for various rabbis; however, before any individual rabbi
dies, no one in the world (supposedly) knows what day that rabbi is
supposed to die.  2) I will now give an example of how a scientific fact
can be contained in the Torah without anyone knowing it: When the (oral)
Torah prohibited spherically-shaped idols (I don't know if I have the
fact straight, but the important point is the argument), many early
generations must have found this law inexplicable. However, we, looking
back, can now rationlize this law based on the fact that the earth is
round. So, we can "see" how that fact that the earth is round is
"contained" within the law - however, this does NOT mean that previous
generations also had this knowledge.

Jonathan Katz
410 Memorial Drive, Room 251B
Cambridge, MA 02139

From: <warren@...> (Warren Burstein)
Date: Thu, 7 Jul 1994 08:13:20 GMT
Subject: Re: Torah and World Knowledge

Eliyahu Zukierman writes:

>Then the Chazon Ish enumerates examples of ancient wisdoms that have
>amazed contemporary scientists and professors.

It might be useful for someone who has access to this to post these
examples so that we can examine them for ourselves.

 |warren@         an Anglo-Saxon."
/ nysernet.org                       Stuart Schoffman


From: David Brofsky <brofsky@...>
Date: Fri, 8 Jul 1994 01:44:52 -0400
Subject: Re: Torah through the Generations

	While the concept of "niskatnu hadoros" certainly has its roots
in traditional thought, a clearer understanding of what exactly that
concept entails is certainly in order. For example, just because we find
that chazal made use of telescopes and other sophisticated technology,
does this mean that they were really scientifically more advanced then
we are? I think that certyainly in the realm of science, the notion of
niskatnu hadoros need not by applied. But what about in the realm of
	Yes - we are told that "histakel beoraisa ubara alma" - that G-d
employed His infinate knowledge (or the "Torah hakedumah" that the
kabbalists refer to regarding the sefirah of chochmah) as the blueprint
for creating the world. An the TOrah is really shemod of HKB"H, as the
Ramban so beautifully states in his introduction to the Torah, yet, is
it really true that the farther away we are from the revelation at
Sinai, the "less" Torah we really remember?  Is our learning a humble
attempt, inspired by the story of Osneal ben Kenaz, to restore that
which has been lost over the generations? (such an approach can be found
in many sources, the most famous possibly being the introduction of the
Ketzos HaCHoshen).
	As the gemara in menachos relates, Moshe came to the yeshiva of
R, Akiba and heard him discussed a halachic matter. He became distressed
at the realization that he did not understand what was occuring. Yet, he
was finally relieved to hear R. AKiba cite "halacha lemoshe misinai" as
the source for his discussion. How can we understand such a story?
	Furthermore, the development of the corpus of halacha through
the tools given to us at sinai, such as the 13 midos sheTorah nidreshes
bahem, and other exegetical tools, is clear not only from the Talmud
itself, but from the Rambam who is his introduction to the mishnah, and
in hilchos mamrim, discusses how chazal darshen halachos.
	But even beyond the issue of actual halachos, the famous
medieval philosophical pisgam of "like dwarfs standing on the shoulders
of giants", which has been quoted by many, including the meglias ester
in his introduction, and R, Zadok Hakohen, who deals with the issue of
the historical development of halacha at length, described how on one
hand we may be dwarfs, but our vision is often clearer because we build
upon the achievments of previos generations. While R. Chaim applied his
revolutionary methodology to some sugyas, his students have plumbed the
depths of shas with it, achieving new hights and insights in Talmudic
	What, then, does the statement that "col mah shetalmid vatik
atid lechadesh kevar neemra lemoshe besinai" - that all insights which
future students of the TOrah will have in the future were already
revealed to MOshe at Sinai? Apparently, this statement refers to the
potential within the Torah, as a source which will forever reveal the
secrets contained within it. (This is similar to the statment of the
gemara in the beginning of Hagigah which discusses the possibility of
because metaher and metame a sheretz in many different ways, and may
also relate to the concept of elu ve elu divre elokim chayyim - but
thats for another time.)
	I think that this notion of an ever revealing Torah (which is,
of course, coming from an objective source of all truth, the oiraisa of
HKB"H, which was presented in the form of the TOrah, waiting to be
released into actual knowledge) - is actually quite inspiring. It also
doesn't require us to kid ourselves into thinking that chazal could
perform brain sugery, or that every peshat within the shivim panim
leTorah was known to but hidden by our sages.

Shabbat Shalom
David Brofsky


End of Volume 14 Issue 8