Volume 16 Number 70
                       Produced: Mon Nov 21  1:18:42 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Age of Rivka
         [Isaac Balbin]
Anthropomorphism (v16n66)
         [Lori Dicker]
         [Avi Feldblum]
Creation and Dinosaurs
         [Stan Tenen]
Depressed cosmologists
         [Joshua W. Burton]
Haredim and the Army - Part 1
         [Shaul Wallach]
         [David Steinberg]
Set of Russian language books needed.
         [Leon Dworsky]


From: Isaac Balbin <isaac@...>
Date: Mon, 21 Nov 1994 09:24:42 +1100
Subject: Re: Age of Rivka

Jay Bailey writes regarding the age of Rivka:
  | All I can say is this: I hope that these were submitted as "interesting 
  | ideas" rather than bona fide attempts at an explanation.  This type of 
  | interpretation is so strained that it taxes the imagination (Yitzchak 
  | observed a future _gezeira_?)  

Whilst I don't wish to get into the age of Rivka debate, I must point
out that the laws of Negia [touching] are not a G'zeira as claimed here.
Further, whilst it is generally accepted that it is D'rabbonon and not
D'oyraso, as claimed by Jay, if my memory serves me correctly, this
point is in fact an argument amongst the Rishonim, with the Rambam and
the Ramban on either side.


From: Lori Dicker <ldicker@...>
Date: Sun, 20 Nov 1994 15:52:25 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Anthropomorphism (v16n66)

> >From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
> I would like to add a possibility to Seth Weissman's careful discussion.  
> What if the seeming anthropomorphisms are just like the problem we have 
> been discussing about "Yom"?  Could it be that Hashem really does have 
> "Yadim", but that the meaning of that in Hashem's context is not the 
> same as in our human context?

> What I am saying is that we may have gotten it all backwards.  It is not 
> that we have been inappropriately anthropomorphizing Hashem, but rather 
> that Hashem is allowing us to make us more like Him.

Last November, I was privileged to hear Rabbi (Dr.) Akiva Tatz speak at 
Neve Yerushalayim (one in a series of his lectures there), and he spoke 
on this topic.  He said that words such as hand, arm, foot, etc. truly 
refer to HaShem, and that our physical limbs are only a tangible 
reflection of Hashem's.  He compared the idea to watching a movie, where 
you see "two dimensional lights projected on a screen" - if it's well 
made, you can learn what you need to about the original, but it is still 
only a projection.

I have not read his books, but there might be more on this topic there, 
including his sources.

I only remember the title of one of his books, Living Inspired.
I am pretty sure it is published by Feldheim.

Lori Dicker


From: Avi Feldblum <feldblum>
Date: Sun, 20 Nov 1994 23:42:08 -0500
Subject: Apology

I would like to apologize to Leah Gordon and Shaul Wallach. I
misunderstood what they wanted done after the email exchange. Sorry.



From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Sun, 20 Nov 1994 20:16:08 -0800
Subject: Creation and Dinosaurs

In his posting, Chaim Twerski mentions how Moshe's staff would change 
into a snake.

Without prejudice to the historicity of this story, it is interesting to 
note that there is a staff that changes into a snake in the geometric 
reconstruction of B'reshit at the letter level.  As it turns out, a 
column of 99-tetrahedra - which functions as a staff - can be slit open 
at the top (literally circumcised) and folded back on itself until it 
looks somewhat like a (cobra) snake.  This description also parallels 
the description of Abraham's circumcision at age 99 because each 
tetrahedron can be considered to be a Shin and Shanah is a year.  When 
the column (the penis) reaches 99-"years" its tip must be slit and 
folded back.  This opening is what enables the staff to become a full 
model of creation.  The full creation model looks something like a great 
jellyfish and it has wavelike parts that could be described as fins or 
the wave motion of the sea.

I believe that the anthropomorphisms and the animal-morphisms may be 
descriptions of elements of the geometry and topology of the self-
organization process defined in Torah.

Stan Tenen



From: <burton@...> (Joshua W. Burton)
Date: Sun, 20 Nov 94 18:29:19 -0500
Subject: Depressed cosmologists

Mordechai Torczyner expresses commendable concern for our psychic well-being:

>Gee, that must have been depressing for all of those cosmologists. 16 
>billion chopped in half to 8 billion...what's next, 6 thousand? Naahhh...

Anyone who has seen how the popular press covers the Jewish world will not
be surprised to learn that they sometimes miss the point when summarizing
the more abstruse details of physical cosmology as well.  What the Hubble
telescope has done over the last two years is sharpen up our knowledge of
the universe's rate of expansion at large scales, and thus given us a
closer estimate of the universe's `coordinate age'.  Studies of the
dynamics of very old gravitationally bound systems like globular clusters
give us a still vaguer handle on the universe's `dynamical age', and to a
lesser extent on its `physical age'.  The suspicion that these three
numbers are not going to be reconciled by observation (and therefore that
the early expansion of the universe was not a simple matter-dominated
Friedmann expansion) is at least fifteen years old; we talked about it in
my high-school physics class.  (I went to a really good high school.)

Now we are a little bit more certain than we were that the coordinate age
is low---meaning simply that the universe's expansion has sped up at some
point in its early history, compared to what we would expect if the mass
of galaxies was the only thing affecting it.  There is still room to fudge
the two numbers into compatibility, but there is no lack of models to
explain their difference if the data turn out that way.  In a couple of
years, we'll know enough to start weeding out many of those models, so
we're excited, not depressed.  If we can survive the bludgeoning the 104th
Congress has promised for our funding, the next decade promises to be a
golden one for the study of large-scale structure.

All this talk of different ages for the universe undoubtedly will prompt
a reaction from many along the lines of `Come on---whatever the age of the
universe is, it is certainly ONE particular number.  If you started a clock
ticking one second after the Big Bang, how many times would it have ticked
by now?'  The very annoying answer is that this is not a well-formed
question, and that there isn't even a question LIKE it that is meaningful.
The reason why is not beyond the grasp of any sufficiently patient reader;
I've explained it successfully to mere pre-meds.  But this is probably not
the right forum in which to be writing popular accounts of general coordinate
invariance in relativity.  Ask me privately if you're curious.  As Haldane
once said, the universe is not only a queerer place than we imagine, it is
a queerer place than we CAN imagine.

None of this should be construed as an olive branch to the fundamentalists,
incidentally.  Lunar, meteoritic, and early terrestrial rocks all point
pretty consistently to the inner solar system having cooled to solidity
about 4550 +- 15 million years ago.  Regular everyday years, as measured by
an ordinary everyday (nuclear) clock.  The year I was born (5722) the best
estimate was 4600 +- 80 million years; this is not a number you should count
on to change dramatically in the time we have left before Mashiach comes.
                    _._ _  _ ___ _ ___   _  _ _ _ _ _ _ _   _  _ _ _ _._ ___ _ 
Joshua W. Burton     | |( ' )   |.| . |  ( ' ) | | | | | |   \  )( (  ) |   | |
(401)435-6370        | | )_/    | |___|_  )_/   /|_|   | |  __)/  \_)/  ||  |  
<burton@...> |                          ..      .     -    `.         :


From: Shaul Wallach <F66204@...>
Date: Sun, 20 Nov 94 20:40:08 IST
Subject: Haredim and the Army - Part 1

    As expected, a number of people have reacted, some of them
emotionally, to my mention of Haredim avoiding army service in order
to study Torah full time. In an attempt to set the discussion on a
more solid foundation, I am posting my translation of Ha-Rav Kook's
letter and my discussion of it separately. Here I will add only a
few more comments.

    First of all, I meant my remark about serving when halacha requires
it an all seriousness, and not at all as just an excuse for avoiding the
army. That is the way I understood it from the rabbi (R. Schulsinger)
who told me this.

    Secondly, I myself support initiatives to rehabilitate Haredi army
units for those who don't really belong in the yeshivot. Aryeh Frimer
and myself discussed this here about a year and a half ago, and I
agree that it would be a good solution for the Haredi yeshiva dropouts
who pose a serious educational and social problem for us today.

    Thirdly, I kindly advise people to reread what I posted recently
about "selective" quotations. I have not studied Ha-Rav Kook ZS"L in
depth and cannot possibly know everything that he wrote about the
Zionist program in rebuilding Erez Yisrael. To the best of my knowledge,
the letter of his that I am posting is all that he wrote about military
service for yeshiva students anywhere or anytime. I do know that Rav
Kook did support the Zionist movement, but have yet to see any evidence
that this means that he supported army service for yeshiva students in
the Zionist army. So if anyone has any concrete evidence to bear on this
specific point, I will be more than grateful.

    So I will tentatively hold to my opinion that Rav Kook would still
support full exemptions for yeshiva students today. Yes, I know that his
his son R. Zvi Yehuda ZS"L objected strongly to Haredi reliance on his
father's letter from back during World War I. But I still think it was
worded in such general terms to have universal application, as I discuss
in a separate posting. Here I will only add what I found in a Ph.D.
thesis by Joseph Avneri here at Bar-Ilan University ("Rabbi A. I.
Kook as Chief Rabbi of Eretz Yisrael (1921-1935) - The Man and His
Deeds", Adar A, 5749), p. 58, note 60 (my translation):

    The reasons given in the above mentioned memorandum were so
    encompassing and fundamental that in a later period, circles
    who opposed service for yeshiva students relied on the opinion
    of the Rav from the London period...

Avneri goes on in this same note to quote his son's censure of this
reliance, without revealing his own opinion. So the issue is at least
open to scholarly debate.

    As to the numbers of exemptions, I would like to put them in proper
perspective. Of a Jewish population of 4.4 million today, the number of
men of military age might be put very roughly at 1 million or probably
more than that. The last figure I heard quoted giving the number of
Haredi yeshiva students was 22,000, or only 2% of the draft age
population. Even if it were double this, I hardly think that it would
mean a significant loss of manpower to the army. And I have heard of
older Haredim who have wanted to serve (in order to get the social
security benefits) but were rejected because of a lack of need for them.
A year or so ago, as part of my reserve service as an office clerk, I
made out nearly 120 release notices in a single day, as part of a move
to cut back the number of soldiers in our civil defense unit by about
30%. So before pressing charges that Haredim unjustly avoid the army,
let us first be sure that the army really needs them.

    Finally, as painful as the subject is, I find the complaint about
Haredim sitting at home while others take the risks somewhat lacking in
force. First, let us not forget the many civilian casualites, including
Haredim, that we have suffered. Recent events are a sober reminder that
no one is safe anywhere, Rahmana Lizlan. Secondly, as Rav Kook wrote in
his letter, we believe that the Torah we learn does its part in helping
us defend ourselves against our enemies. The great prayer gathering at
the Western Wall this past year of Jews from all persuasions is further
evidence that Haredim, too, are sensitive to the sufferings of our
fellow Jews. As an example from the past of this kind of moral
encouragement, may I kindly refer people to Dov Joseph in his book
"The Faithful City: The Siege of Jerusalem, 1948" (Hogarth Press,
London, 1962), where on p. 158 he tells about the recognition the
"free-thinkers" gave the "ultra-religious" for praying in the synagogues
while the former went out to do the fighting.

    This concludes my prefatory remarks for now. Part 2 of this series
contains a translation of Rav Kook's letter, while Part 3 is my own
analysis of the circumstances that surrounded it and its applicability
to our situation today.




From: David Steinberg <dave@...>
Date: Sun, 20 Nov 1994 21:52:35 +0000
Subject: Professions

Chaim Twersky comments on the benefits of business vs professions.  Over 
twenty years ago I was told that as a community we benefit polically more  
from businessmen than professionals.  A professional may make a nice 
living but it is rare that a professional employs more than one or two 
employees.  conversely, a businessman might employ numerous employees.  
Who do you think has greater plotical clout -- all other things being 
equal - the guy who has two employees or the guy with fifty ?

Dave Steinberg


From: Leon Dworsky <ljd@...>
Date: Sun, 20 Nov 1994 23:07:22 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Set of Russian language books needed.

Our Federation is trying to locate a set of out-of-print Russian
language books. It's Called, "Jewish Mini-Library: Pathways of Jewish
History".  There are 5 books in the set.  Approximately $25. I think one
of the books is Herman Wauk's "This Is My G_d".  If anyone knows of a
bookstore that has a set or a community or synagogue library that has a
surplus set, please let me know.

<ljd@...> (Leon Dworsky)


End of Volume 16 Issue 70