Volume 14 Number 79
                       Produced: Tue Aug 16 22:54:55 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Anthropic Principle
         [Mechy Frankel]
G-d's Knowledge vs. Man's Knowledge
         [Amos Wittenberg]
Hakol tzafui vihareshus nisunah
         [Janice Gelb]
Shamos (3)
         [Avi Witkin, David Charlap, Jay Bailey]
Teaching Emunah
         [Mitchel Berger]
The Akeida
         [Moshe Stern]
Yeshivos and Careers
         ["Jerry B. Altzman"]


From: Mechy Frankel <frankel@...>
Date: Tue, 16 Aug 1994 12:34:56 -0400
Subject: Anthropic Principle

Just a brief note to provide a more detailed source reference for those
intrigued by Eli Turkel's references (Vol 14 #72) to the anthropic
principle. I would recommend "The Anthropic Cosmological Principle" by
J. Barrow and F.  Tipler (Oxford U. Press, 1986). There is much to
disagree with in this volume but it contains, inter alia, many striking
nuggets. e.g. one of my own favorites is their discussion of the
remarkable fine tuning associated with the location of potential resonance
levels in carbon and oxygen which allow the sun's current (meta)
stability.  Be warned. This stuff tends to get dismissed, often
contemptously, by mainline physicists.

Mechy Frankel                                 W: (703) 325-1277
<frankel@...>                           H: (301) 593-3949


From: <awittenberg@...> (Amos Wittenberg)
Date: Tue, 16 Aug 1994 12:35:00 -0400
Subject: G-d's Knowledge vs. Man's Knowledge

Robert 'Reb' Braun wrote:

>It seemed to me that the original discussion revolved around why the
>Akeidah was necessary since G-d already knew the depth of Avraham's
>faith and, therefore, knew his actions.  Instead, the story, I believe,
>should be seen as a means of conveying the story and its lessons to man.

'Alshikh in the parasha of novi sheker [the false prophet] remarks on
the words "ki H' 'E-lokeikhem m'nasse eskhem loda`as hayishkhem 'ohavim"
["for H' your G-d is testing you to know whether you actually love H'"]
that He obviously does not need any test to know since He knows us
better than we know ourselves.  *We* need to know.  We may *think* and
*claim* that we, indeed, love Him but we will only *know* through a
nissoyon [test].

I cannot remember whether he brings a similar p'shat in the parasha of
the `Akeida.  I will look it up, b"n.

Amos Wittenberg
 ... <ajwittenberg@...> ...


From: <Janice.Gelb@...> (Janice Gelb)
Date: Tue, 16 Aug 1994 17:04:13 +0800
Subject: Re: Hakol tzafui vihareshus nisunah

Sam Juni says:
> In a recent post, Mitch Berger ponders the question "Why do we need to
> do anything, if G-d knows what we will do?  He proceeds to give a fairly
> good explanation.  I think there is an easy short-cut to his argument.
> Since G-d is not bound by time, we can assert that G-d knows what you
> (will) do only because you (did) do it in the future. Hence, you have a
> perfect choice of how to act, but G-d will "see" your actions and know
> about them (in "your") past.

I think there is a different question here than the one being dealt
with strictly by the time element: not whether G-d knows in advance
that you're going to do something, but whether G-d would interfere with
your choice.  It doesn't matter if G-d knows what's going to happen if
G-d doesn't take steps to affect that choice based on prior knowledge.

Janice Gelb                  | (415) 336-7075     
<janiceg@...>   | "A silly message but mine own" (not Sun's!) 


From: Avi Witkin <msavi@...>
Date: Tue, 16 Aug 1994 09:00:27 +0300 (WET)
Subject: Re: Shamos

In response to the [question about Shamos on computer divrei torah
Mod.], I saw an answer given by Rabbi Newman of Ohr Someach.

The Talmud lists seven names of G-d that may not, under any circumstances 
be erased -- even if a scribe makes an error when writing a Sefer Torah.  
The Shulchan Aruch states that even *one letter* from these names may not 
be erased.  Other Kitvei Kodesh [Holy Writings] have less stringent rules, 
but are generally forbidden to erase.

An apparently similar question was posed to Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, zt'l, 
regarding erasing blessings and Torah from audio cassettes.  He wrote that 
since the words are not stored in the form of `letters', he can find no 
clear prohibition against `erasing' them.  One might reason, however, that 
`letters' are in fact present on a computer monitor.

On the other hand, the letters are not directly written by human hand, and 
in fact are not written at all in the conventional sense.  They are not a 
continuous form; rather they are comprised of flashing pixels of light as 
the screen is "refreshed" many times per second.

We presented these questions about erasing and deleting Divrei Torah from 
computer screens and software to Rabbi Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg, shlita.  
He ruled it is permitted to erase them and delete them in the normal 

Talmud - Tractate Shavuot, page 35a.
Shulchan Aruch - Yoreh Deah 276:9.
Pitchei Teshuva - Yoreh Deah 283, note Bet.

From: <david@...> (David Charlap)
Date: Tue, 16 Aug 1994 12:34:53 -0400
Subject: Shamos

<josh@...> (Josh Cappell) writes:
>Is one allowed to discard electronic copies of the Shem HaShem and
>Divrei Kodesh?  Or should one not use the internet for Divrei Kodesh
>at all because destruction is inevitable and there is no electronic
>equivalent of 'shamos'?

As Avi mentioned, there is no Kedusha to anything written in the English
language, although it might be considered disrespectful to casually
discard hard copies, just like any paper documents that contain words of
Torah in English.

Now, if there would be an electronic edition in Hebrew, it would be a
more interesting question.  I would still feel that it would be
permitted because:

- There is no real Hebrew in the message.  It's a pattern of
  ones and zeros within a computer's memory.
- The part of the screen you see isn't Hebrew but a pattern of dots
  that resembles Hebrew.  Look at your screen with a magnifying glass
  and you'll see lots of red, green, and blue dots with spaces between
  them.  The fact that they may resemble Hebrew letters doesn't (IMO)
  make them equivalent to ink on paper.
- A computer screen is merely a projection.  Suppose you have a slide
  with God's name on it and you project it on a screen.  Are you
  allowed to turn off the projector?  Does anyone think you can't?

Of course, I am no rabbi, so this should be taken merely as one man's

From: <bailey@...> (Jay Bailey)
Date: Tue, 16 Aug 1994 14:41:42 -0400
Subject: Shamos

I've been looking for a reference for this but I can't find it (re: is
computer data shamos?); I recall hearing a shiur a couple years ago
comparing Divrei Kodesh written on a computer screen to the same written
in sand, which (I think) is not a problem because it is not considered
"written". Does anybody know the specific source or anything close?

Jay Bailey 


From: Mitchel Berger <aishdas@...>
Date: Tue, 16 Aug 1994 08:54:51 -0400
Subject: Teaching Emunah

There are times I think R. Bechhoffer and I were separated at birth.

My LOR just returned from spending time at a "camp" or retreat for
people considering Orthodoxy. Usually he brings back some inspiring
stories, so at "shalashudis" I was prodding him to tell me one. (He
refused. Wants to wait until Yomim Nora'im (High Holidays).)

In the converstation we were talking about one woman, Yeshiva educated,
who mentioned how watching what goes on at this camp was inspiring, and
pretty common.  Yeshiva doesn't, as R. Bechoffer points out, teach
emunah, basic truths, or give any foundation or meaning for all those
dinim we learn.

The turn of the 19th century produced Chassidus, Mussar, Vilozhin and
the Yeshiva movement, R. SR Hirsch -- all these gedolim who saw the need
to teach us to look at the forest, and our education system is still
focussed entirely on classifying leaves.

My older children, all in preschool, learn the weekly parshah. Often
what they come home with this unrecognizable to me. About half a year
ago I wizened up, I check "The Medrash Says". My kids come home with
every colorful medrash in the book.

When they get older, the school isn' going to tell them what these
medrashim mean; how the Maharshah, the Maharal, the Gr"a
etc... understand these odd stories of the gemara as a compromise
between relaying the basic truths of Judaism and keeping the Oral Torah

We've become the "fools" the Rambam describes in the Guide to the
Perplexed, who take the Chachamim's stories at face value, and don't
seek any depth.

The optimism on the horizon is the Ba'al Teshuvah movement. Orthodoxy is
getting an influx of people who keep kosher because its right, not
because eating treif just isn't done. We need the idealists, and their
children, to keep Torah fresh, to keep the mitzvos meaningful.

And for the rest of us?


From: Moshe Stern <MSTERN@...>
Date: Tue, 16 Aug 94 09:28:00 PDT
Subject: The Akeida

I have noted the discussion of Hashem's foreknowledge and man's freedom with 
regard to the Akeida.  The absence of the limits of TIME for Hashem is, I 
think, a pivotal point.  In any case though, I agree that the Torah presents 
only that which is instructive to further generations, it is not a historical 
text.  The essence of the Akeida recounting, then, relates to the instruction 
offered.  On a further level, however, it might be noted that the Akeida 
command to Avraham was a nisayon [a trial].  It was intended to challenge 
Avraham to stretch himself.  God may know what is within the person BUT is it 
indeed "in" the person before he is forced to make choices and define his own 
commitments?  Avraham himself could not have known the choice he would make 
until he had a choice to make and could experience the tensions and internal 

The Mishna teaches that one should not judge a person "until we reach his 
position".  I would think that applies to oneself.  One cannot judge oneself 
and one's commitment until one is in a certain position.

Moshe Stern


From: "Jerry B. Altzman" <jbaltz@...>
Date: Tue, 16 Aug 1994 09:33:52 -0400
Subject: Re: Yeshivos and Careers

Chaim Twerski writes: 

> The Yeshiva world is opposed to college education not so much for the
> reason that doing so is to dropout from the world of Yissachar, but out
> of concern that the atmosphere of colleges will corrupt the Torah
> outlook and personality of those who attend.  Were colleges to be free
> of attitudes that are antagnistic of Torah, it would be well accepted
> that the average Yeshiva student should attend college.  Agudah promotes

I find this line of argument a bit specious. After 18+ years of
"indoctrination" (I can't think of a better word here) wouldn't
J. Random Bochur be a little "resistant" to most, if not all, of the
"lures" in a secular education? Haven't we been training them that
derekh torah [the path of Torah] is the way they should be going?

Certainly there are those who, when introduced to "the outside world"
will stray from that path -- but then again, they might as well have
done that when they left the yeshivah with or without an education,
unless the community prevents them from *any* contact with "the outside
world". Many others, however, after 12+ years of yeshivah learning,
don't stray much (if at all).  My proof for this, sorry to say, is only
anectodal: go to Columbia U. once and examine the kehillah [group] there
(I pick Columbia because it is the largest such kehillah outside of YU
of which I can think, but you could go to Penn, or Harvard, and see much
the same thing on a smaller scale.)

If the standard yeshivah bochur can't stand the heat of someone else
asking them why he (or she, nowadays) does all that _mishegoss_
(craziness) which he does, the rest of us have to ask how well we've
trained him (or her!).

jerry b. altzman   Entropy just isn't what it used to be      +1 212 650 5617
<jbaltz@...>  jbaltz@columbia.edu  KE3ML   (HEPNET) NEVIS::jbaltz


End of Volume 14 Issue 79