Volume 15 Number 35
                       Produced: Thu Sep 29 11:57:52 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Avi Feldblum]
Age of Universe
         [Stan Tenen]
Doctors, Halakha and Shomer Shabbat Programs
         [Steven M Scharf]
Kosher Appliances {mail.jewish Vol. 15 #31 Digest]
         [Ellen Golden]
Magnetic/Electric Hotel Keys
         [David Sherman]
         [Jeremy Nussbaum]
Women Submitting Names for Misheberach
         [Stephen Irwin Weiss]


From: mljewish (Avi Feldblum)
Date: Thu, 29 Sep 94 11:51:51 EDT
Subject: Administrivia

Yom Tov is over now for the next few months, at least, so it is time to
get caught up on mail-jewish. I will try and get 4 issues a day out for
the next few days and see how close we are to being caught up. I will
also try and respond to some of the built up email to me. Expect a
sprinkling of Administrivia messages as well. 

And now on to the torrent :-).

Avi Feldblum
mail-jewish Moderator


From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Sat, 17 Sep 1994 20:09:09 -0700
Subject: Age of Universe

Joel, et. al,

A few thoughts on the Age of the Universe.  

It seems to me that there are several fundamental errors when scientists
attempt to use science, BY ITSELF, to reconcile scientific findings with
the Pshat level of Torah.

First, only the Pshat level of Torah even sounds like it claims that
Hashem creatED the universe in 6-DAYS.  At deeper levels it is often
understood that the creation story in B'Reshit did NOT happen in the
past at all.  The beginning of B'Reshit can be taken to be in the
PRESENT tense and it can be understood to correspond to CONTINUOUS
CREATION (at this very moment and eternally) and not to something that
happened ONLY in the past.  That means that the age of the universe has
little or nothing to do with the traditionally understood Pshat creation
story in B'Reshit.

I believe that this, Continuous Creation, approach is at least partly 
true (- who, but Hashem, can know the whole truth of Torah?) because, 
1) It is more inclusive spiritually, 
2) It is more logical, 
3) my own work on B'Reshit and the alphabet seems most consistent with 
this view.

Secondly, I see no logic in understanding the word YOM as meaning a
literal earth day as we experience it now.  This word is used in Torah
BEFORE that meaning has any context - before our existence and before
most of the creation to which the concept of day applies.  It seems to
me that logically, it makes more sense to understand YOM as some
cyclical period in Hashem's pre-creation scheme of things that only
later, when sun and earth and humans appeared, came to mean "day",. in
the normal sense, to us.  What I am suggesting is that given that, as we
are taught, the letter sequence of Torah existed, in some way, before
creation, we only later came to understand the letter combination YOM as
our earth-human day because it originally had a deeper meaning that
could properly correspond to "day".  I see no reason to believe that
YOM, in B'Reshit, means 24-hour day as we know it.  I believe that
attempts to "flatten" Torah to only the Pshat so it can be made to
conform to current science are mistaken.

Thirdly, there is the extreme prohibition in Ain Dorshin.  To paraphrase
broadly (and combining two thoughts in the Mishneh) - if a person
SPECULATES (Mystakel) on matters involving B'Reshit, Merkavah, etc., it
were better if they had not been born.  My objection to comparing the 6-
days of creation to the age of the universe or to the age of fossils,
etc., is based on the use of science, logic, and intuition, ALONE.  The
combination of scientific findings, the scientific method, logic and
simple intuition is, in my opinion, EXACTLY what the Talmud is telling
us to NOT do.  This is what mystakel means.  Speculation as it is meant
here, implies the use of science, logic and intuition, WITHOUT DIRECT
PERSONAL EXPERIENCE.  In other words, the Talmud is telling us to NEVER
try to figure out matters concerning B'Reshit, Merkavah, etc., by the
use of our wits alone - that is speculation, mystakel.  It is only not
speculation when our science, our logic and our intuition are tested,
refined and kept in the context of real, Torah-true, spiritual

It is, of course, usually impossible to prove a negative.  My positive
reasons for believing so strongly in the Continuous Creation (present
tense) understanding of B'Reshit (and, therefore, my concomitant disdain
for explanations of how B'Reshit could be consistent with science) is
based on my research findings being consistent with that view.

That science also has a place for this view, which is consistent with
the quantum-mechanical froth of virtual particles (or black hole/white
hole pairs) model, is not really relevant except in that any COMPLETE
(to the extent that completeness is possible) theory of everything must
include both science and consciousness and their relationship.  Even in
science these days, it is beginning to become apparent that the
continuous creation model and the big-bang model are co-equal and
complementary just like the wave/particle duality.  The traditional
kabbalistic teaching that Unity exists only when the flame is wedded to
the coal or when the light is in the meeting tent, makes the same claim.
But, Torah made it first and science is only now barely catching up.

Stan Tenen
Meru Foundation


From: <StevenS667@...> (Steven M Scharf)
Date: Sun, 18 Sep 94 10:32:11 EDT
Subject: Doctors, Halakha and Shomer Shabbat Programs

This is a posting in reply to that of David "Beryl" Phillips who says:
>With the number of doctors around today, especially in the large 
>urban centers, and with the opportunities available in professions 
>and businesses for Orthodox Jews, I wonder sometimes if there is 
>really any "moral heter" for any individual person to opt for 
>medicine, since saving any particular life will never depend on 
>his/her being a doctor!

I find the suggestion that just because there are lots of Doctors (in
urban communities) available (some 40% are Jewish in many areas) an
orthodox man or woman should *not* opt for medicine to be incredible.
Many of the finest and most caring physicians are in fact "orthodox."
Physicians are not equivalent in their knowledge, skills and experience.
An orthodox physician who is particularly skilled in a certain area is
not equivalent to someone who is not as skilled.  For these there
certainly exists a "moral heter." Are "orthodox" physicians any more
skilled, such that there is, in fact, an halachik "excuse" (as if one is
needed) for choosing this field.  There are few data.  However, in the
big apple (NYC) a number of hospitals, including my own, have instituted
house staff training programs called "Shabbat" programs.  For these
programs a certain number of training slots is reserved for Shabbat
observers who are not required to take call on Shabbat or Jewish
holidays.  Without getting into the philosophic implications of this
arrangement, I can safely say that the arrangements were instituted to
RAISE the level of incoming house staff trainees, to keep American
trained, highly qualified young physicians in the area and as an
enticement to have them come and train at the hospitals involved.  From
personal experience at my hospital, I can casy that these young
physicians have generally turned out to be among the best, hardest
working, most dedicated and smartest of the house staff training
classes.  Thus, while being "frum" per se is not a guarentee that the
physician is among the best, empiric experience certainly suggests that
there are a large portion of superior physicians among the orthodox
medical population.

Finally, I agree that it is human nature to "stretch" halacha for
convenience.  However, why pick on medicine?  One can apply this to any
field of endeavor (parnerships in business which stay open on Shabbat,
arrangements to sell a food business on Pesach rather than close, etc.).
Surely this is a matter for each individual to wrestle with, probably
with the help of competent rabbinical authorities.  However, to make a
blanket denouncement of orthodox MD's for what may or may not be the
aveira of a few is surely overstating the case.

Steven M Scharf MD PhD
Pulmonary and Critical Care Division
Long Island Jewish Medical Center


From: <egolden@...> (Ellen Golden)
Date: Sun, 25 Sep 94 05:58:48 EDT
Subject: Kosher Appliances {mail.jewish Vol. 15 #31 Digest]

Aliza Berger brings up an important point about technology automation
making devices that are difficult for observant Jews to operate on
Shabbos.  Our Condominium installed an alarm system, which I had no
say in, it was done by the Board without consulting the membership at
large due to an immediate security danger.  The result was a system
that had no override, and which, even when disarmed, caused a light to
light when the door is opened.  Obviously this presented a problem for
my son and daughter-in-law.  Fortunately, a brother-in-law of ours
figured out a (quasi illegal, I suppose) way to disarm the system
which the other people in the building are willing to tolerate when
my son and his wife (and now my new grandson...!!) are visiting.  But,
I think the moral of the story is....

We have to be more connected to current technology and "Modern Life",
and not shun all connections with the world, so that the needs of
observant Judaism are included in the "specifications", if you will,
for the technology of the future.  

V. Ellen Golden

Using the "sig" I use on BALTUVA:  "Not a BALTUVA, but the Mother of One."


From: <dave@...> (David Sherman)
Date: Sun, 25 Sep 94 3:01:06 EDT
Subject: Magnetic/Electric Hotel Keys

> Are we in danger of being left 
> behind, both figuratively and literally, (e.g. when   
> the hotel has magnetic /electric keys?  Has the key topic been discussed 
> on mail-jewish?

Electric key cards are a problem.  Magnetic ones are not
necessarily a problem.  I attended a Shabbaton put on by the
Canadian Jewish Congress at the Ramada in Niagara Falls, Ontario.
The cards to open to room doors had been checked out by Congress's
rabbinic authority.  I don't know all the details of what made
it OK, but clearly the fact that no "little green light" goes on
when you insert such a card in the door was a necessary condition.

David Sherman


From: <jeremy@...> (Jeremy Nussbaum)
Date: Fri, 23 Sep 94 9:49:53 EDT
Subject: Re: Marriage

> >From: Shaul Wallach <F66204@...>

>      The continued flow of responses on the subject of the Jewish
> marriage is very encouraging, and like others has given me an occasion
> for reconsideration of this vital issue. With few exceptions I agree
> with both the tone and the content of the postings, which in my mind
> point to at least a partial consensus. In this posting (Part 1) I reply
> to Dr. Juni and to Sam Saal. Part 2 is devoted to some remarks by Leah
> Gordon and Conni (Chana) Stillinger which I found quite disturbing and
> could not leave unanswered in this halachic forum. Finally, in Part 3
> I have attempted to give a brief overview of the Torah perspective on
> marriage, based on our Talmudic and Rabbinic sources.

This is a terrific topic to discuss, and I am glad to take the
opportunity to read and to think.  There are 2 things in the tone of
the above paragraph above that I want to check out, and perhaps get
some feedback.

I have a hard time with a phrase like "the Torah perspective."  There
are many perspectives articulated in the classic sources, the
commentaries and other original works through the ages.  It seems to
me that there are many Torah perspectives, even on simpler topics, and
certainly on a complicated topic like relationships between men and
women and marriage.

It seems to me that the basic issues of relationships is a human one,
not a Jewish one.  It is not obvious to me that the "Torah" perspective
is, or should be different, from the "enlightened" human perspective.
I do agree that as Jews living specifically Jewish lifestyles, with
a certain degree of shared principles, literature and outlooks, there
may be issues that recur, or approaches that generally work.

In no way do I mean to impugn the value of this discussion or the
validity of the points raised.  It seems to me that while in halachic
matters, the classic and modern sources are comprehensive and specific to
Jews, in psychological matters this is not the case.

Jeremy Nussbaum (<jeremy@...>)


From: Stephen Irwin Weiss <sweiss@...>
Date: Sat, 24 Sep 1994 23:11:55 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Women Submitting Names for Misheberach

I missed the first half of this discussion but someone please tell me why 
a woman should not be able to submit a name for a misheberach. 

My minyan is traditional egalitarian so we don't have this issue. But I 
cannot comprehend why in an orthodox setting the issue would arise. In 
fact, I have davened at orthodox minyanim where women HAVE given names 
for a misheberach. What is the issue here?

Chas v'shalom that any Jew who is sick should not have a misheberach be 
recited for him in shul. If we believe in the power of tefilah then in 
such a case we are surely doing teh choleh a great injustice.

Rabbi Steve Weiss


End of Volume 15 Issue 35