Volume 14 Number 33
                       Produced: Tue Jul 19 21:53:07 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Controversy re Facts in Talmud
         [Sam Juni]
Rabbeinu Gerhsom's Herem
         [Joseph Steinberg]
The date of the Exodus
         [David Curwin]
         [Hillel Eli Markowitz]
What year is it? etc.
         [Jonathan Katz]
what year was it
         [Danny Skaist]


From: Sam Juni <JUNI@...>
Date: Sun, 17 Jul 1994 16:36:17 -0400
Subject: Controversy re Facts in Talmud

In a general purpose (Kol Ha'Naarim) post by Yitzchak Unterman
(6/27/94), I am taken to task on my pointing to arguments in Talmud re
quotes of a previous Tana (sage) as an illustration of a Machlokes
(disagreement) re facts rather than interpretation. Yitzchak argues that
the postulate held by some that Talmud has no arguments re facts is
limited to verifiable facts only.  Past statements, as such, are not
verifiable and thus fair game for disagreement among Talmudic scholars,
as Yitzchak sees it.

I have an emphatic reaction to this approach, based on the very
philosophical basis of the presumed disallowance of factual arguments in
the Talmud. Allow me to pontificate, please.

Arguments among people have various origins.  Most are based on the
mutual distrust (at some level) between the protagonists and on
incomplete and conflictual data bases available to the respective
parties.  Given the premise that the two parties are ultimately
honorable, are not armed with extraneous agenda to win the argument, are
both devoted to pursuing truth, and are open in sharing data honestly
with each other, what basis for argumentation remains?

Of course, we can have one of the parties being so bigoted that their
good judgement is hampered despite the availability of facts. Or, we
could have one party of limited intelligence with the lack of capacity
to process the data as comprehensively as the other.  These two
possibilities do not apply to the Talmudic adversaries, I hope.

We are thus left with the (irreverent?) analog of the Machlokes in
Talmud as representable by different results derived from two computer
programs of equal capacity and with a shared data base.  The only
conceptual option for differing results must be in the aplication of
algorithms.  Ultimately, these boil down to issues of which principle
has priority in which situation. It cannot incorporate a factual

I realize I am getting carried away with the computer analogy, so let me
put it in simple logical terms. Two Talmudic adversaries should be
totally respectful of mutual sources.  No one doubts the accuracy of the
other's report. When one reports that "Rav said A" while other reports
that "Rav said B", each of the reporters now has a problem of
reconciliation. There is no logic to anyone of these to "stick to his
guns", for given the above-noted premises, there is no clear resolution
here. Technically speaking, these two Talmudists have an insoluble
paradox on their hands, with sectarian allegience to one's opening
argument merely representing a childish tendency to favor the data one
discovers over the data another discovers.

Thus, factual arguments are a logical enigma in logical arguments
regardless of whether the facts are verifiable or not.  To presume, as
Yitzchack does, that factual arguments are inadmissable only if these
are verifiable, places this principle on a practical rather than a
conceptual level.  If we deny the conceptual, I am not at all certain
that it is logical to assert than factual arguments are inadmissible.
What is verification is impractical? Furthermore, why would any of the
adversaries even wish to consider empirical verification, if each is
100% convinced of their argument.

As a blanket dispatch of past data to the oblivion of the indeterminate,
Yitzchack's conclusion that "This is obvious" pertaining to the
impossibility of ascertaining a previous scholar's statements, obviates
a host of retrospective investigative techniques which are commonplace
throughout the Torah.  We do have tools to investigate the past such as
testimonies and records, etc.

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


From: Joseph Steinberg <steinber@...>
Date: Tue, 19 Jul 1994 11:09:05 -0400
Subject: Re: Rabbeinu Gerhsom's Herem

:From: Steven Friedell <friedell@...>
:I have always thought that the Herem against polygamy had more to do
:with husbands deserting their wives than a husband marrying two women
:and living all together in one household.  To further combat desertion,
:Rabbenu Gershom also forbade divorcing a woman against her will so that
:the husband could not thereby free himself to remarry.

Rabbeinu Gershom made the ban after his own marriage to two wives led to
disaster -- and it was not because of his having deserted them...

There has been a long discussion about Rabbeinu Gershom's Herem and the
**CUSTOM** of Ashkenazic Jewry to perpetuate all of its components
(i.e., the polygamy portion of the Herem has long since expired) on the
torah-talk list. To subscribe send email to
<listserv@...> stating 'subscribe torah-talk
your_full_name' as the message.



From: <6524dcurw@...> (David Curwin)
Date: Mon, 18 Jul 1994 01:28:04 -0400
Subject: The date of the Exodus

To add to the discussion of Jewish chronology, I found the following
variations on the date of the Exodus in Rav Kasher's Tora Shleima, Parshat
Shmot, Miluim 5.
Here are different years given for the Exodus from Egypt:
Seder Olam (Chapter 3):         2448
Avoda Zara 9a:                  "
Psikta Rabati (Chapter 12):     "
Psikta D'Rav Cahana (Chpt. 5):  "

Sefer HaKabala of the Ra'avad:  2449
R' Moshe Priwintzila (sp?) in his commentary on Meor Enayim:   2447
Sefer Kitzur Zecher Tzadik:     2447
Rav Kasher says the above disagreements are based in earlier debates
as to whether the world was created in Nissan or Tishrei, and whether
the year of the flood is counted or not.

Yosef ben Matityahu (Josephus) in History of the Jews (Book 1, Chapt. 3,
Siman 4) says the Exodus was in 2453. This agrees with Pirkei D'Rabbi
Eliezer, chapter 48. They say that the Jews were in Egypt 215 years, not
210 years.

According to Rabbeinu Chananel (as brought in R' Bachye, Parshat Bo),
the Exodus was in the year 2478. This is also the opinion of the
Abarbanel in the Hagada.

A few more opinions: 
Ra"m Latif: 			2456
Ramban (no source is given)	2458

Since much of the calculations of the destructions of the Temples is
based on the date of the Exodus, the importance of the above
disagreements can not be underestimated.


From: <HEM@...> (Hillel Eli Markowitz)
Date: Sun, 17 Jul 1994 18:17:59 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Timeline

Regarding the timeline questions, I had put an somewhat expanded copy of 
Rabbi Schwab's timeline (I also added some extra biblical dates) on 
israel.nysernet.org some time ago.  It can be found in 
/israel/judaica/jewish-info as timeline.tanach (I think, I may have the 
directory structure misstated). Regarding the 68 or 70 CE question, Rabbi 
Schwab wrote.

There are three methods of dating the beginning of the Creation era
counting from the creation.  They are:

1. Year 1 begins with the actual creation of the Universe.
2. Year "0" is the creation of the Universe, while we count year 1 from
the creation of man
3. The dating of the years is based on the ages shown in the Torah, thus
Adam's creation began Year 0 and Year 1 began on his first birthday.
This method allows the calendar to be set up by just adding the ages we
find in Bereishis.

Rabbi Schwab stated that we use method 1 in our current calendar.

The difference in the three dating schemes is shown in the following
|        Summary Event           |     Creation  Era Dating    |
|           Writeup              |        1     2       3      |
| 1. Earth without form and void |        1                    |
| 2. Creation of Adam            |        2     1              |
| 3. Adam one year old           |        3     2       1      |
| 4. Flood                       |     1658  1657    1656      |

[In response to  Howard Berlin's questions: ]

Noach's sons were not born simultaneously.  I believe Rabbi Hirsch
(but I could be wrong as to the source) explains that he began
fathering his children then so that they would be the appropriate ages
when the flood came (since he started building the ark 120 years
before the flood).  I believe the date of the dispersion given in the
Artscroll Chumash is based on a medrash involving Avraham's age.  The
relevent sections of the timeline are quoted below.

Date AM | Date BCE | Event
1058    | 2872/71  | Lamech fathers Noach (at 182 years old)
1142    | 2788/87  | Enosh dies (905 years old)
1237    | 2693/92  | Kainan dies (910 years old)
1292    | 2638/37  | Mehalalel dies (895 years old)
1424    | 2506/05  | Yared dies (962 years old)
1560    | 2370/69  | Noach fathers Shem (98 years before the flood)
1653    | 2277/76  | Lamech dies (777 years old)
1658    | 2272/71  | Mesushelach dies (969 years old)
        |          |
1658    | 2272/71  | FLOOD
[..... deletions to save space ...]
1950    | 1980/79  | Terach fathers Avram
1998    | 1932/31  | Peleg dies (239 years old)
1999    | 1931/30  | Nachor dies (230 years old)
2020    | 1910/09  | Terach leaves Ur Kasdim for Canaan.
        |          |    Settles in Charan
        |          | Avram is 70 years old.
        |          | Based on figure of 430 years mentioned in Exodus.

|  Hillel Eli Markowitz    |     Im ain ani li, mi li?      |
|  <H.E.Markowitz@...>   |   V'ahavta L'raiecha kamocha   |


From: Jonathan Katz <frisch1@...>
Date: Sun, 17 Jul 94 18:57:36 EDT
Subject: What year is it? etc.

Regarding the questions which Howard Berlin raises about the dating of
various events: specifically the two questions he raises which apply to
the flood "era":
The two questions you raised hint at other questions which (to my satisfaction)
I have never seen resolved by any commentators. For more information, and
the resolutions attempted by the commentators, see the Artscroll series
on B'reishit (the multi-volume one, which includes a large ammount of
translated m'phorshim).
Unfortunately, I do not have my copy with me, so I cannot be more precise
as far as the other contradictions which arise with regard to that period.

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


From: DANNY%<ILNCRD@...> (Danny Skaist)
Date: Mon, 18 Jul 1994 05:52:49 -0400
Subject: what year was it

>Howard Berlin
>	Since Noah was born 1056 years after creation, were Shem, & Japheth
>	all born 1556 years after creation (were they all born in the same
>	year?)
> ...
>	Noach was 500 years old (1556 years after creation). My ArtScroll
>	Chumash on p. 53 gives the birth of Shem as 1558.  Did I make a
>	simple mistake?

Your first question answers the second question. They were not born in the
same year (rather 1556, 1557, and 1558) and Shem was the youngest.

>3. The time line in the Artscroll Chumash gives the year of the
> 	"Dispersion" (i.e., Tower of Babel, which I assume also to be
>	the same as the .... ) as 1996 years after creation.
>	How was the year 1996 arrived at? I see no chronology reference in
>	Bereishis.

The gemorrah gives the date of the dispersion as the end of the life of
flood            1656
 to  Arpachshad     2 year after flood
 to   Shelach      35
 to     Ever       30
 to     Peleg      34
   life of Peleg  239


End of Volume 14 Issue 33