Volume 15 Number 94
                       Produced: Fri Oct 21  2:17:26 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Changes in Halacha
         [Harry Weiss]
Gedolim, Torah and Secular Knowledge
         [Binyomin Segal]
Kol she-koro v'shono v'loy shimeish. . . 
         [Eliyahu Juni]
The flood and C-14
         [Joshua W. Burton]
Torah "Vs." Psychology
         [Zvi Weiss]
Torah and Psychology
         [Moshe Genuth]
Torah Based Psychology
         [Josh Cappell]


From: <harry.weiss@...> (Harry Weiss)
Date: Mon, 17 Oct 94 22:37:15 -0700
Subject: Changes in Halacha

Zvi Weiss comments in Mj15-73 implies that the Halacha changed due to
changes in the social situation and capitol punishment was abolished.
This is not in accordance with the Gemara.  Though the Gemara does refer
to Sanhedrin leaving Lishkat Hagazit 40 years prior to the destruction
of the Temple due to the proliferation of murderers, the Gemara in
Sanhedrin 37b says "But the four types of executions were not
invalidated.  Someone who was subject to stoning either falls from a
roof or is trampled by a beast.  Someone who is subject to burning
either falls in the fire or is bitten by a snake.  Someone who is
subject to decapitation is either turned into the kingdom or attached by
bandits.  Someone who is subject to strangulation either drowns in a
river or dies of choking."

There have been times that for various reason various laws could (can)
not be carried out.  This does not invalidate these laws.  These laws
are still in effect today and with the coming of Moshiach, bimherah
beyamenu, we will again carry out these laws.

The case of Sotah is different.  Adultery is still a capital offense and
with the lack of witnesses is subject to death in the hands of G-d.  The
parameters when the bitter waters (which involved the erasing of G-d's
name) work are very specific.  If the Rabbis at a particular time felt
that morality had declined to a level that these waters would not work
it would be a sin to erase G-d's name.

The applications of Halacha can be changed based on circumstance.
Another example would be the requiring of Chalitzah instead of
Yibbum. (A ceremony cancelling the requirement of the brother to perform
levirate marriage rather than levirate marriage).  (If you have a better
translation please substitute.)  The law of Yibbum still applies,
however since the motives of people are suspect the Rabbi's decreed that
Chalitzah should be done.

None of the above changes halacha in any way.  The method of carrying
out a specific Halacha can change based on the circumstances.



From: <bsegal@...> (Binyomin Segal)
Date: Mon, 17 Oct 1994 22:59:58 -0600
Subject: Re: Gedolim, Torah and Secular Knowledge

From: Abraham Socher <apsocher@...>
>In his recent reply to my friend Marc Shapiro's latest Modern Orthodox
>manifesto Binyomin Segal argues that in the case of each of the Gedolim
>Marc discusses (and apparently any other he might chose to in the
>future) that said Gadol's Torah knowledge *preceded* his secular,
>philosophical knowledge or his political concerns.  He sums this up
>pithily in the assertion that:
>	"Rambam was Rambam before he read Aristotle"
>One of the problems with this approach is that it happens to be false.
>Maimonides' first work, Millot ha-Higgayon, probably written when he was
>16, is a philosophical treatise.  It evidences a thoroughgoing
>engagement with Aristotlean Philosophy.

>Now, I suspect that factual arguments of this sort will not do much to
>persuade Binyomin

>IMHO Marc is also too simplistic in his analysis, but it won't do to
>try to refute accounts such as his by simply asserting that it MUST BE
>otherwise.  The mischaracterization of historical fact is just one
>unfortunate symptom of this attitude.

Its true - to mischaracterize historical fact to prove what we feel must be
true is an unfortunate tendency. However, I have yet to be shown any
historical facts which prove me wrong. Merely assertions about what is
probably true.

To assume that the Rambam was not yet a gadol when he published at 16 seems
to project our social bias onto his conditions. We tend to assume that
achievment of gadlus is something for old men. This is not true. The Rambam
began his commentary on Mishna when he was about 25 and completed it around
5 years later. This work is something that 80 year old men today have not
the breadth and depth of Torah knowledge to pen. This implies that by the
age of 16 he was already well-versed in Torah.



From: <ao107@...> (Eliyahu Juni)
Date: Wed, 19 Oct 1994 04:48:37 -0400
Subject: Kol she-koro v'shono v'loy shimeish. . . <Misusing sources>

In Volume 15 Number 84, Shaul Wallach wrote:

>[. . .]                                          In Qiddushin 7a (and
>parallels, esp. Bava Qama 110b) it is evident that women were not
>considered very choosy about picking their husbands, as Reish Laqish
>said, "Tav Lemeitav Tan Du Milemeitav Armalu" ("it's better to sit two
>people togther than to sit as a widow").        [. . .]

I don't want to get involved in the issues being discussed, but the way
sources are being quoted in this thread is getting absurd.  That a woman
should prefer the known, stable dissatisfaction of an inadequate marriage
over the uncertain lonely future of widow/divorcee-hood does not have
anything to do with a single woman's choosyness in picking a mate, or lack

Ul'hosif pesha al chata'a:  If I recall correctly, what Reish Lakish says
is not a general statement about all women:  He's giving a possible reason for
not wanting a get, even in an inadequate marriage, which prevents the
acceptance of a get on behalf of a woman without her shlichus [appointing
the emmissary]--since she may not want to accept one, you can't assume she
is desirous of having someone accept it until she specifically says so.
He definitely isn't saying that a woman will never want a get because women
don't care what their husbands are like, only that they be more important
than themselves; even if the statement is general, it's about
people preferring a status quo to an uncertain future--not about the
shidduchim scene or about what qualities women value in husband.

On a more technical note, I've always heard "Tan du" translated as
'like this', (i.e. with whatever is wrong with this marriage,) not as 'two
people together'--again, it's a matter of tolerating a known evil for fear
of an unknown evil.

Pardon the untranslated Hebrew; I tried, but it's idiomatic.

<ao107@...>            Eliyahu Juni
(416) 256-2590
<ek705@...>  /  ejuni@freenet.fsu.edu


From: <burton@...> (Joshua W. Burton)
Date: Tue, 18 Oct 94 10:55:44 -0400
Subject: The flood and C-14

Thanks for the clarification.  What you wrote before (carbon-14 decays at
a different rate under a few hundred atm of pressure) was wildly impossible;
what you now write (carbon-14 was selectively leached out of old samples)
is only surprising.  The main problem I see with making this work is that
the C-14 in organic materials is tied up in complex molecules, so it's not
as simple as squeezing out dissolved CO_2.  You would have to explain how
3/4 of the C-14 was removed, WITHOUT damaging 3/4 of the proteins.  Some of
the emmer wheat that looks 9k years old is still edible!  Also, what about 
that Siberian mammoth found back in the '20s?  The bones have been dated at
13k or 14k years, but the mammoth MISSED the flood, safely buried under a
couple of hundred feet of ancient ice....

Unlike the first theory, this one is out of my field, and so you shouldn't
take my layman's objections above too seriously.  Since your father has
thought about this a lot more than I have, he probably has good explanations
for all the apparent difficulties.  But there is no getting around the fact
that the flood involved a lot of ahistorical miracles.  The stalactites in
limestone caves around the world are thousands of years old, break off at
the touch of a finger, and yet were not disturbed by all that water rushing
in and out.  (There are haredim who won't visit the lovely cave they opened
at En Soreq in the Judaean hills, because it contradicts B'Reshit.)  After
Noah let down the gangway, the koalas ran back to where there are ancient
koala fossils, the beavers ran back to where there are ancient beaver
fossils, and so on, despite the oceans in the way.  And the apparent age of
CO_2 in air bubbles within Antarctic ice was `leached' in such a way that
it appears to increase smoothly by a few hundred years per foot, all the
way down to the 50k year limit for C-14 dating.

My own view is that (1) trying to `fit' B'Reshit to observation without
recourse to the miraculous is irreverent, and (2) it's a losing game, since
the body of science is such a mighty interwoven tapestry.  The `orthodox'
scientific models are only theories, often with hidden assumptions that can
be questioned.  But, except at the frayed edges of research, they depend on
each other in so many ways that the cloth is a lot stronger than any 
individual thread.  `Creation science' keeps trying to pull loose one theory
at a time, right in the middle of the tapestry where we thought we knew what
was going on.  This is not a game that can be successfully played by amateurs.

Would the world be such a dreadful place if we had the humility to admit
that between what we know through observation and deduction on the one hand,
and what we know by emunah on the other, there is a vast gap (of both Torah
and Mad'a) that we just don't understand?  We _know_ about the dinosaurs,
and we _know_ (in a very different way) about Gan Eden.  Does anyone seriously
suggest that HKB"H can't cope with both of them, without bending one or the
other out of shape?

Not that my effort is needed,                 +-------------------------------+
  Yet somehow, I understand                   | Joshua W Burton  401/435-6370 |
My maker has willed it that I too should have |     <burton@...>      |
  Unmolded clay in my hand.  -- Piet Hein     +-------------------------------+


From: Zvi Weiss <weissz@...>
Date: Tue, 18 Oct 1994 13:36:15 -0400
Subject: Torah "Vs." Psychology

I do not know where Shaul Wallach received the notion that one who talks
to a Rav is being treated from a "Torah perspective" while one who goes
to a psychologist is treated only from an "enlightened human
perspective".  Is Shaul awre of the *frum* psychologists -- to whoem
people are referred by RABBANIM???  Why does he think that these
professionals receive these referrals?  Why don't the Rabbanim simply
treat "from a Torah Perspective"?  Perhpas, it is because for the VAST
majority of us, the secular knowledge implicit in the Torah is NOT
revealed to us through Torah study -- and therefore, one needs the
professional skills and training that a psychologist or M.S.W. (or
D.S.W.)  receives.  I would like to call to Shaul Wallach's attention
such people as Meir Wikler, D.S.W. or Chana Parness, M.S.W. (I think) or
Moshe Halevi Spero or Gary Quinn, M.D. [psychiatrist]... These are all
dedicated frum people who are able to help people BECAUSE of their
training.  In terms of the halachic sensitivity required, I would
suggest that Shaul Wallach avail himself of the works of Moshe Halevi
Spero to see how a frum PROFESSIONAL analyzes such matters.

While Shaul states that anything that is true is itself Torah, that does
not mean that one should go to Rabbanim for treatment of psychological

I find ironic that Shaul is concerned about the Ona'at Devarim of
causing someone distress while in an earlier posting, he tried to find a
legit.  explanation for someone telling a woman that divorces were the
woman's fault (causing this lady a LOT of pain)... I do not recall Shaul
Wallach condemning that person for violating Ona'at Devarim.  It appears
that there is a lot of selectivity here... If a Rav or someone like that
is telling a woman that Divorce is the woman's fault then maybe it can
be excused be cause of the desire to effect a reconciliation... it is
only by the professional that we look with "77 eyes" to see if THEY are
causing "pain"... this sttitude seems to (oops: attitude) me to be
"unbalanced"...  I am quite sure that competent psychologists and mental
health professionals are VERY careful in not wishing to cause
"unnecessary" pain.

I do not know that either Mrs. Adahan or Rabbi Pliskin would claim to be
competent in the intensive therapy offered by a mental health
professional and their books are no "proof" at all that one need not
learn psychology from sources "outside of Judaism".  I would STRONGLY
suggest before Shaul Wallach makes comments about how to learn
psychology, he get in touch with any of the professionals listed above
(I know that Moshe Halevi Spero is in J-mas is Dr. Quinn) and discuss
how THEY learned what they need to know before he make blanket



From: <bais@...> (Moshe Genuth)
Date: Mon, 17 Oct 94 10:45:52 PDT
Subject: Torah and Psychology

In a recent reply Shaul Wallach wrote:

>just because a wise man has learned some modern psychology doesn't
>mean that he is not treating people from a Torah perspective

>the Torah scholar must also be well versed in Torat Ha-Nefesh (psychology)
>as well, in order to know just what will help the person in need. But
>he need not necessarily have to learn psychology directly from sources
>outside Judaism.

Though we might be straying somewhat from the Halachic constraints of
psychological treatment, I would like to note that not all is as it
seems on the surface.

First, I would like to recommend an important discussion of the differences 
between the secular psychological ("christian", to exclude the Arab 
philosophers referenced by Moreinu the Rambam, as already noted 
by Shaul) axioms and directives and those of Torah (as relayed in our 
traditions of "Sod") in Dr. Mordechai Rothenberg's book.
To sum his exposition we should note the following:
 1) the secular doctrine does not believe it is possible to heal, only
to help "deal with", in an attempt to achieve a state of "acceptable"
 2) though not studied in depth, our own sources contain an accurate and
in-depth description of every part of the psyche describing its
evolution, functionality, and neuroses.
 3) our sources explicitly state that it is possible to heal completely,
not just arrive at an acceptable state. The healing process is not
always well understood today, even by those who study it in depth.  It
should also be noted that the main contemporary works regarding the
structure of the Nefesh, and its workings were written by the Alte Rebbe
("Baal Hatanya") and his son, in their volimnous "Articles."

Getting back to the Halchic aspect of this topic, it was truly marvelous 
to find the following passage in Shaul's message:

>Even Jewish psychologists can be very harmful if they are not 
>thoroughly versed in what is permitted and what is not. This includes 
>in particular the laws of speech, since a psychologist can easily 
>injure a person through Ona'at Devarim

I am not exactly sure where in psychological treatment (as practiced
under the different non-Torah systems) this could occur, but in any case
it is desirable to clearly mark the "Nigle" (revealed) side of things as
much and wherever possible.

Be-Brachot Va'or
Moshe Genuth


From: <josh@...> (Josh Cappell)
Date: Tue, 18 Oct 94 16:19:33 EDT
Subject: Torah Based Psychology

Would you suggest that Frum Jews should use a less competent but orthodox
surgeon rather than a more competent not Frum or non-Jewish one?  Obviously,
because of pikuach nefesh you would put aside the personal prejudice which
you are defending as halachically required.  Why should the way of handling
diseases of the brain be any different than diseases of the heart or liver?
In fact what you are suggesting is even worse than the case in my analogy
because you are saying that Frum people with particular illnesses are 
forbidden from having them treated by competent, trained professionals but
must instead rely on someone who may have an excellent Talmudic knowledge
but not the slightest idea of how to diagnose or treat diseases of the
nervous system.  Also, what is the relevance of the Rambam's position on 
a medical question?  Would you suggest that we must follow the Rambam's
rather than modern medicine's remedies for other diseases too.  Do not
say that mental illness is in some way different, or that the Rambam
thought so.  We now know quite clearly that they are biological in nature
too.  Lastly, I don't know what you even mean by a Torah approach.  What is 
the Torah's recommendation for the treatment of schizophrenia, for manic-
depressive disease, for Tourette's syndrome?  I hope you realize the 
potential harm you do by dissuading people from seeking proper health
						Josh Cappell
						Dept. of Physiology 
							and Neuroscience
						New York Univ. 
							School of Medicine


End of Volume 15 Issue 94