Volume 16 Number 60
                       Produced: Thu Nov 17  0:06:05 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Age of the Universe
         [Josh Backon]
Age of the Universe, the earth, and refuting science
         [Stan Tenen]
Cycles and Age of the Earth
         [Akiva Miller]
Kabbalah and Age of Earth
         [Stan Tenen]
Science and religion; age of the earth etc
         [Constance Stillinger]
Swearing in Court
         [Yaacov Haber]
The Age of the Earth
         [Hayim Hendeles]
Yad Vashem Holocaust Project
         [Avi Rabinowitz]
Zmanim Software
         [Doni Zivotofsky]


From: <BACKON@...> (Josh Backon)
Date: Wed,  16 Nov 94 9:22 +0200
Subject: Re: Age of the Universe

Yitzchok Adlerstein mentioned a kabbalistic notion of SHEMITOT (cycles).
Actually, this  is mentioned in B'RESHIT RABBAH 3:5 ".....R. Abbahu on the
Pasuk VAYEHI EREV VAYEHI BOKER, this shows that Hashem created worlds
and destroyed them until He created ours....".



From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Mon, 14 Nov 1994 11:23:54 -0800
Subject: Age of the Universe, the earth, and refuting science

Constance Stillinger's statements that "...Everybody seems to be
committing a fallacy here," and that science and the revealed truth of
Torah should not be reconciled "because they really aren't comparable to
begin with," are very distressing to me.

I don't mean to flame, and I do believe that everyone has a right to her 
opinion, but these sorts of statements upset me in the extreme:

First, there have been a wide range of views expressed.  How this means
that "everybody seems to be committing a fallacy" eludes me.  Some of us
may be using fallacious reasoning, but since we all do not agree, that
means that others of us may not be doing that - unless, even though we
differ widely, we are all wrong, albeit in different ways.  I don't
think that this is accurate.  Those who are wrong are wrong, those who
are correct are correct and those who decide which is which, are each of
us separately.

Secondly, if I believed that Torah and (the highest principles of)
science were not identical, I don't think I could consider studying
either Torah or science.  For me, the idea that Torah is outside of
science or that science does not deal with spiritual issues is mind-
bending and illogical.  Is this a common belief?  It is my
understanding, although I am far from an authority, that such widely
accepted sages as Maimonides and Rabbi Kook felt differently.

I know that many persons just give up on trying to understand their 
connection and leave science and faith separate, but I never realized 
that this might be considered to be desirable.  For me, it is a 
consequence of my belief that Hashem actually-literally-really did give 
Torah to Moshe on Sinai (but not in the exclusively literal sense 
implied by the Pshat alone) that forces me to believe that it must 
include all of logic and science.  What sort of Torah would leave out 
the reality of the natural world; what sort of Torah could leave out the 
universal archetypal abstractions of mathematical reasoning?  Why bother 
studying such a partial model?  Isn't a partial model what we mean by an 
idol?  Isn't there only One G-d and only one Torah (in this world)?  If 
there is only one Torah, how could it not be complete?

These are some of the questions that are spinning in my mind when I try 
to NOT reconcile Torah and science.

However, as I have mentioned before, I do not expect Torah to provide an
accounting of the _things_ of science.  I do not expect exact numerical
or historical data presented literally and in temporal order - I do not
expect to find that the world was created in 6-days as scientific fact.
That to me seems inappropriate and unnecessary.  (If there is a fallacy,
it lies here.)  I expect to find non-idolatrous universal relationships
that do _not_ depend on form.  (What mathematicians call topological
invariants.)  I expect to find the principles by which life organizes
itself around the continuous outpouring of Hashem's
Consciousness/Energy.  I do not expect to find science, as in Physics or
Chemistry, or the age-in-years of the universe, in Torah.  I expect to
find the basic topological relationships that define life in _all_
possible universes.

In my opinion, Dr. Stillinger is correct in a limited sense in not 
seeing any point in reconciling the mechanical sciences of things with 
Torah reality, but she is not correct in failing to see that the basic 
principles and concepts upon which science and logic are based are 
generated and defined in Torah.

Is it really so hard to believe that Torah is as astounding as it claims 
to be?  Is there something in us that causes us to discount the true 
enormity of the miracle of Torah and to cling instead to comfortable 
apologia or polite, but effective, rejection?

I guess this just goes to show how wide a range of opinions and beliefs 
are possible even when we all agree on the same Torah.

Stan Tenen


From: <Keeves@...> (Akiva Miller)
Date: Wed, 16 Nov 1994 22:24:26 -0500
Subject: Re: Cycles and Age of the Earth

In MailJewish 16:56, Yitzchok Adlerstein <ny000594@...> explains
the concept of "Shemitos" (cycles). In part, he writes:

>This teaching has it that we do not live in the
>only world that ever existed, but that Hashem supervises repeated cycles
>of creation and destruction, with subsequent worlds built upon the ruins
>of previous ones. ...  The Tiferes Yisrael
>reacted with glee at the discovery of mammoth fossils, seeing them as
>leftover artifacts from, and confirmation of, these previous worlds.

I have heard this concept before, but have never understood it. It seems to
say that our current cycle began 5755 years ago, even though the universe is
much older than that. But how is that different than saying that the days of
creation were incredibly long?

It seems to me a contradiction in terms to say that both of the following are
true: (A) The world was created *Yesh Meayin* (out of nothingness) 5755 years
ago. and (B) Mammoth fossils are a confirmation of previous worlds which
existed more than 5755 years ago.

With all due respect to the great gedolim mentioned by Rabbi Adlerstein, I
prefer the idea that just as Adam was created already at a mature age, so too
was the universe created already in a mature state. I would sincerely
appreciate any convincing arguments otherwise.

Akiva Miller


From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Wed, 16 Nov 1994 13:20:05 -0800
Subject: Kabbalah and Age of Earth

Re: Yitzchok Adlerstein's informative posting (with which I agree):  For 
a good discussion of a kind of "Shemitos" (cycles) in modern scientific 
theory, see the cover article in the current November 1994 Scientific 

Stan Tenen


From: Constance Stillinger <cas@...>
Date: Wed, 16 Nov 1994 11:17:08 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Science and religion; age of the earth etc

Perhaps the conflict we perceive between the scientific and Torah
accounts of Creation is to be contemplated but not solved.  Perhaps we
miss some important lessons about faith and knowledge when we draw
facile conclusions like "science is wrong" or "Torah is wrong" and
devote all our energy to fighting about which is correct.

Dr. Constance A. (Chana) Stillinger        <cas@...>
Research Coordinator, Education Program for Gifted Youth
Stanford University      http://kanpai.stanford.edu/epgy/pamph/pamph.html


From: Yaacov Haber <haber@...>
Date: Wed, 9 Nov 94 12:04:30 EST
Subject: Swearing in Court

Claire Austin <CZCA@...> writes:
>I ask my question again, how does a religious Jew explain BASED ON
>SOURCES why his religion does not allow him to take an oath in court?

I thought I would add a few sources to this.

In Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 338 we are taught not to swear even if what were
saying is true. This probably comes from a story in the Talmud Gitin 35a.
This of course refers to swearing when there is no great purpose or Mitzva.
(The Torah tells us to swear in certain situations). Rav Ovadia Yosef
in Yabia Omer Vol.1 Y.D. 18 brings many sources on the subject
and describes situations where it WOULD be appropriate to take an oath.

What is not so clear is the difference between swearing and affirming.
How do we know that an affirmation is not a LOSHON SHAVUOH (language
of swearing)? After all once we take the leap from Aramaic to English
who is to say? It seems to me that the case cited in Gitin ibid is
more an affirmation than an oath.
On this subject see Tzitz Eliezer Vol.8 chap.17 (I think).

For a fascinating read (learn) see Noda BeYehuda Y.D. 71 in a letter
he wrote to the Govt. regarding Jews swearing in court. 

Hope this is helpful


From: Hayim Hendeles <hayim@...>
Date: Wed, 16 Nov 94 09:53:06 -0800
Subject: Re: The Age of the Earth

Rabbi Adlerstein commented:

	R Aryeh Kaplan zt"l,  ...  vigorously rejected the idea that
	G-d would create a world that was made to look old at the time
	of its emergence.

With all due respect to Rabbi Kaplan z"l, I believe that it is ludicrous
to assume that when G-d created the Earth, it looked new. After all,
Adam himself was created as a mature adult - fully grown, and I assume
with teeth and hair. All of these things are signs of age, and yet Adam
was 0 days old, at the time.

Likewise, I assume, since the stars were created for the benefit of Man,
if Adam looked at the night sky, he would have seen stars there.  The
closest star is Alpha Centauri, approximately 4 light-years distant. And
yet, Adam on Night #1, undoubtedly saw stars -- probably even more than
a handful of the relatively close stars - again implying a false age.

There were trees for Adam to eat from. Undoubtedly, had he cut down a
tree, he would have found rings. Again, these rings imply a false age.

Are there not bacteria and what not that feed on decayed flesh and
bones?  If so, then these must have been created together with the rest
of Planet Earth.  This argument can be continued ad-infinitum. Who can
possibly count all the processes and cycles necessary for the existance
of this world - even on Day 1 - that rely on some sort of artifical age?

(Furthermore, once we assume that certain processes must have been
created with an implied age - perhaps all of them were.  If nothing
else, at least for consistency. Then again, perhaps there is nothing
else -- it could be that in G-d's infinite wisdom, nothing could have
functioned without an implied age.)

To go one step further, *I assert* that the 6 days of Creation cannot be
discussed in a scientific vein, just as even scientists will agree that
the pre-Big-Bang is a closed chapter, because the laws of Science and
Physics were not operational at the time.

Once we must postulate that G-d did not create the world new, then all
bets are off. I could not even speculate as to the minimum implied age
of the Earth in order for the planet to function normally. Certainly,
this number is debatable. IMHO, 15 billion years is as good a number for
G-d as 1000 years. What's the difference?

Thus, to me, the entire question as to the TRUE age of the Earth is
meaningless. I have no problems with one discussing the (implied)
scientific age of the Universe in the same breath as the traditional
6000 year old universe. These are 2 entirely different, and unrelated

Hayim Hendeles


From: Avi Rabinowitz <avirab@...>
Date: Thu, 17 Nov 1994 01:59:59 +0200 (IST)
Subject: Yad Vashem Holocaust Project

In coordination with Yad Vashem our organization has initiated a
world-wide project to record photos letters and other documents held in
private hands of relevance to Holocaust era and to European Jewry in
general.  Photos will be annotated by their owners giving names dates
etc.  A special collection will be made of those who died in Holocaust,
and especially those who left no survivors. All will be recorded on
CD-Rom etc, cross-indexed, and merged with other data-bases. A pilot
project in Johannesburg South Africa is underway , under the patronage
of the Chief Rabbi of South Africa and coordinated by the local Yad
Vashem organization and the Association of Principals of Jewish Schools,
who will introduce the project into the curicullum, for students to help
their grandparents and residents of homes for the elderly etc.  to
annotate their photos, and to bring them to the schools for a
presentation after which they will be recorded.
 An electronic address will also be made available for collection of
information and coordination of the project.  Persons in a position to
help launch the project in their community or school are welcome to
contact me for more information.  Suggestions as to relevant bulletin
boards to post this notice are also welcome.


From: <DONIZ@...> (Doni Zivotofsky)
Date: Wed, 16 Nov 1994 00:05:48 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Zmanim Software

Moshe Rayman inquired about zmanim.  I too would be interested if anyone knows 
of downloadable soft ware that would generate zmaninim based on the location
plugged in.. Please keep this discussion public <doniz@...>


End of Volume 16 Issue 60