Volume 16 Number 63
                       Produced: Fri Nov 18  8:40:59 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Antrhopmorphism and Anthropowhat?
         [Mechy Frankel]
Converts to Judaism
         [Jonathan Katz]
Creation and Dinosaurs
         [Chaim Twerski ]
Kamatz Katan
         [Yechezkel Schatz]
Qamats qatan question
         [Eric Schramm]
Science is NOT identical to Torah.  Therefore they ARE compatible.
         [Constance Stillinger]


From: Mechy Frankel <frankel@...>
Date: Thu, 17 Nov 1994 17:54:14 EST
Subject: Antrhopmorphism and Anthropowhat?

I am amazed and impressed to find that Seth Weissman's antenna have
plummed unsuspected (to me) depths of seriousness in a recent posting of
mine suggesting that H"K'B'H was obviously of a Bayesian persuasion. He
goes on to suggest that such a suggestion is a clear violation of the
neologistic trangression, thou shalt not commit anthroponuisticisms. A
few brief (and yes, very serious) remarks.

1. Anthropomorphism has a long and ancient history, both of use and
opposition to it, which hardly bears extended description here. However,
at least since the Rambam's time, and probably directly due to his
efforts, the consensus haskafa has been pretty clear. (Though the Raabad
vigorously, angrily?, defended the respectability of those who did not
conform from the Rambam's scorn). Indeed the greek morph root here
properly encompasses the attribution physical forms to God, and it is
this which has been practically universally rejected by now (I exempt
the Kabbalists, kind of, from this universality>)

2. The parallel consensus on anthropopathy is much less clear. As Seth
notes, its pretty hard to avoid and while any number of sources are
careful to deliberately qualify expressions with a "kaviyachol" or make
a point of explaining that such human terms don't really apply, probably
much more do not.  One doesn't sense the same, universal, degree of
disquietude in such usage.

3. As for anthroponuisms (As Seth solicited votes on this one, I like
it, really) this one is new enough that I may have the honor of being
its first m-j transgressor. One certainly doesn't sense from the sources
a preoccupation with this subject matter and you will find no millenium
long debate and emerging consensus on this subject as you do with good
old anthropomorphisms. Thus I would be quite cautious in promulgating
discovery of new politically incorrect hashkafos for people to avoid, at
least chutz la'aretz and chutz some neighborhoods.

4. Seth also mentioned in passing that God coudn't be a Bayesian or use
staistical reasoning because He knows everything.(I would also be leery
of suggesting God couldn't be/do whatever He wanted.) This faintly
relates to a previous (concluded I hope) discussion concerning the
"problem" of omniscience and foreknowledge as it relates to the
religious doctrine of free will and consequent reward/punishment. Some
of the traditional sources cited in that one (e.g. Ralbag, Ibn Daud)
actually hold that God may not know the future evolution of
everything. as I mentioned at that time (Vol 14 #73) this is so
politically incorrect that I can only assume they had a very small
readership to get away with it.  Anyway, it gets pretty dangerous
legislating against hashkafos. You can never tell what gadol or gaon you
may be insulting.

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


From: Jonathan Katz <frisch1@...>
Date: Thu, 17 Nov 1994 15:05:43 EST
Subject: Converts to Judaism

I was just wondering what one's attitude should be toward someone who 
expresses a desire to convert to Judaism.
On the one hand, I've heard that one must turn away a convert three times
before allowing them to convert (to make sure that they are sincere).
Furthermore, there is a general idea that we don't "want" people to
convert, we just "want" them to act as "righteous gentiles".
So, my question is, how far does this extend, practically. If a friend
of mine comes up to me and sayd he wants to convert do I merely accept it?
Do I determine sincerity and if I find that they're sincere just accept it?
Or, do I actively try to convince them NOT to convert by (for example)
telling them things which could be construed as the "negatives" of 
Judaism without stressing any of the "positives"?
What does one do, practically speaking?
Any thoughts on the matter would be appreciated.

Jonathan Katz
410 Memorial Drive, Room 241C
Cambridge, MA 02139


From: <ChaimTw@...> (Chaim Twerski )
Date: Thu, 17 Nov 1994 03:40:55 -0500
Subject: Creation and Dinosaurs

More than once I have heard the question asked, "Why doesn't the Bible
mention the dinosaurs?"  The implication of the question is that if it
is true that the Torah was written by G-d, then why did He leave out
such an important creation?  However, if the Bible was written by
ancient humans, we would understand the reason for this glaring

Needless to say, the question is not really valid.  The Torah is not a
biology book, nor was it ever professed to be one.  In the few brief
passages that describe the creation of all life, the Torah uses only the
broadest of terms. Had the Torah meant to give a full detailed
discussion of all the creatures ever created, a thousand volumes the
size of the written Torah would not have been sufficient.  Furthermore,
how could the Torah have written about animals that were extinct at the
time of Moshe without the names to identify these creatures.  Would
anyone suggest that the Torah should have written, "vayivra elokim eth
ha'tribolites v'eth ha'celeocanths"?

The question is therefore not a valid one at all.

However, I think that a better answer can be found than the denial of
the validity of the question.

In the beginning of sefer Shmos we find that Hashem gave Moshe a sign by
which to convince the people of the truth of his mission, that his staff
would change into a snake.  When he comes to Pharoh he was told that his
staff would change into a 'tanin'.  Rashi translates 'tanin' as a snake,
in agreement with the earlier passage, assuming that the sign before
Pharoh was the same as the first one displayed before the Jewish elders.
Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsh, interestingly, translates 'tanin' as
crocodile (based on Yechezkiel 29:3, "...the large tanim that is in the
[Nile] River, assuming that there is no difference between 'tanin' and
'tanim'), for this is indeed the great amphibian that is common to the

Rashi's interpretation of 'tanin' is not it any way at odds with the
passage in Yechezkiel.  Yechezkiel refers to a large Tanin.  A small
tanin could refer to a snake.  If we take both Rashi and Rav S.R. Hirsh
as alternative interpretations, a 'tanin', would be be a word that could
describe either a crocodile or a snake.  It would seem, then, that the
word 'tanin' is best defined as a reptile.  We also find the word
'tanin' as a creature that is common to deserts in Yermiah 51:36,
seemingly, a lizard.  This is consistent with our contention that the
'tanin' is not a specific species but a class of animals- the reptile.

Now, the passage Genesis 1:21 is commonly translated (see for example
Artscroll and Kaplan) "and G-d created the great sea creatures (based on
Rashi). Harold Fisch (the Jerusalem Bible), along the lines of Rav S.
R. Hirsh in Exodus' interpretation of 'tanin', translates the phrase to
mean, "the great crocodiles".  However, to be fully consistent with the
rest of the passage, neither of these two could be the simplest meaning
of the text, for the full passage reads "and G-d created the great
'taninim', and all the living creatures that crawl to their species, and
all birds to their kind."  The passage, then, narrates the first
creation of animal life-the great taninim, the birds, and the crawling
creatures (insect forms and other athropods).  If the second and third
types of life forms refer to large classes of animal and not a specific
species, then it would stand to reason that the first type mentioned is
also a large classification of animals, not a specific species, such as
crocodile (as Fisch translates) the whale (as Rabbi Avigdor Miller
translates) or sea serpent (as Rashi seems to say).  Now, if tanin, is
indeed a reptile, then the words, "large reptiles" could mean only
dinosaurs, a large class of species which were indeed giant reptiles.

I pointed this out once to a learned biologist.  His reaction was,
typically, that this is an impossible interpretation, since the
existence of dinosaurs was not known at the time the Bible was written.

Chaim Twerski 


From: Yechezkel Schatz <lpschatz@...>
Date: 17 Nov 1994 09:23:51 +0200
Subject: Kamatz Katan

Re Art Werschulz's question:
 S'faradim and Ashk'nazim differ on the issue of a kamatz before a
chataf kamatz (or in plural verbs, a kamatz katan). S'faradim say it is
a kamatz gadol, since as you said, there is a meteg before
it. Ashk'nazim feel that in this case the meteg does not mean the kamatz
should be a kamatz gadol, and it is more important to compare these
verbs with verbs from Gizrat HaSh'leimim.  From comparing to "normal"
verbs Ashk'nazim conclude that this kamatz is a kamatz katan.  Both
options are acceptable.
  You say: "the first is a kamatz katan *unless* it has a meteg."  There
is _always_ a meteg for this kind of kamatz, so you just have to choose
which line of logic most appeals to you.


From: Eric Schramm <eschramm@...>
Date: Thu, 17 Nov 94 19:17:09 EST
Subject: Qamats qatan question

Art Werschulz <agw@...> writes:

:  In Acharei Mot (Lev. 16:10) there is a word yud, ayin, mem, daled.
:  The vowels appearing are kamatz with a meteg under the yud, kamatz
:  under the ayin, patach under the mem.
:  The second kamatz is clearly a kamatz katan (more properly, a chataf
:  kamatz).  However, there seems to be a disagreement between (e.g.)
:  Siddur Rinat Yisrael and Michael Bar-Lev's "Baal HaKriah".  According
:  to the former, the first kamatz is not a kamatz katan, whereas the
:  latter says that it is.

Guess what. They're both right. It depends on whether one follows an
Ashkenazic or Sephardic pronunciation. These days the fault line is 
harder and harder to see. 

In Sephardit, the rule is that the qamats immediately prior to a qamats
qatan or a hataf qamats under a gronit (a guttural, such as 'ayin, heh, 
aleph) may be pronounced as a qamats qatan. I do not believe that the rule
is obligatory, however, and anyway it's not followed in Ashkenazis at all. 

The reason for the first vowel being a qamats qatan derives from the status of
a gronit, which may not bear a shva (with certain exceptions, as in the second
aliya of VaYishlah, _va'yarim_). Normally the syllable before the stress in a
three-syllable word reduces to shva, but since here that syllable begins with
'ayin, we get instead a hataf qamats, something like a half vowel. The hataf
qamats under (or following) the 'ayin takes over the function of the shva 
(quiescent) that should have been there in closing the previous syllable, 
which then yields the canonical environment for qamats qatan in the first 
syllable: one that is closed and unaccented.

There are many examples of this, but to illustrate how both pronunciations
are accepted, consider the name of Ruth's mother-in-law: is it [na'omi] or 
[no'omi]? Both have currency and both are correct, according to different 

For whatever reason, the Rinat Yisrael is consistent in *not* marking such 
vowels before hataf qamats as qamats qatan.

Eric Schramm


From: Constance Stillinger <cas@...>
Date: Fri, 18 Nov 1994 00:30:19 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Science is NOT identical to Torah.  Therefore they ARE compatible.

Stan Tenen <meru1@...> writes:

  > 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.
  > ...
  > 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.  ...  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.

I'm sorry it agitates you so, but *both* sides in an argument where
people are screaming "Torah is right, so throw out science" or "science
is right, so throw out Torah" commit an essential fallacy regarding the
role of data (ie, human observation or measurement of phenomena) in
Torah belief versus scientific theories.  By contrast, when we recognize
that the role of data is *different* regarding Torah-revealed belief
about facts and regarding scientific theory we realize that the two are
*incomparable* in this respect and therefore not really contradictory.
We come *closer* to reconciling them as a result.

Faith in Torah should not waver with the vagaries of human observations
about the world, scientific or otherwise, for Torah is revealed truth.
On the other hand, the rule of science is that
theories---generalizations we make about human observations---MUST be
susceptible to change in the face of incoming data (ie, they must be
"disprovable") or they're not theories at all.

Unlike you, I don't believe that science is identical to Torah, although
I believe that somewhere in Torah are probably encoded the rules of
science (which I recognize is a controversial point).  Ie, Torah
encompasses science, but science does not encompass all of Torah.  As a
working scientist, myself, I can tell you that science has some pretty
clear outer boundaries, involving the collection and systematic use of
observed evidence to formulate or update theories.

It is very important for us to contemplate the contrast between science
and faith and try to fit them both into our lives in a coherent way.
When we appreciate that evidence (namely human observations of
phenomena) plays a *different* role in religious faith from that which
it plays in scientific theory, science and Torah become *more*
consistent, not less so.

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


End of Volume 16 Issue 63