Volume 16 Number 73
                       Produced: Mon Nov 21 23:41:15 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Daas Torah
         [Elad Rosin]
         [Stan Tenen]
Tav L'meitav
         [Zvi Weiss]
         [Zvi Weiss]
The Flood and Mesorah
         [Stan Tenen]


From: <3QJ5ROSINE@...> (Elad Rosin)
Date: Mon, 21 Nov 1994 10:20:03 -0600 (CST)
Subject: Daas Torah

     Regardless of the accuracy of M. Shamah's statements about the
flood and other "supernatural" occurrences related to in Tanach, I take
him to task on the following statement,

"The misinterpretation of 'Elu VeElu' and the recently-developed concept
of "Daas Torah" are stifling legitimate Torah research and moving
Orthodox Judaism into an unenlightened age contrary to our glorious

     I must say that at first these lines only caused me to take
pause for a moment, but as I ponder the meaning and ramification of
this statement I am quite troubled.  Mr. Shamah would have me
believe that adhering to the guidelines of Daa's Torah will cause
the downward spiral of Torah research and study.  I do not know if
or where Mr. Shamah studied in yeshiva but as for myself I can say
with complete confidence that being involved in yeshiva full-time,
accepting from my Rabbaim the Torah which they received from their
Rabbaim, and developing an outlook on life based on Daa's Torah,
does not in any way feel to be "stifling".  Also I don't believe
that it would take a large scale survey to determine that those
same people who are supposedly "stifling" the "enlightened" age of
Torah research are precisely those who are in fact most intensely
engaged in it.

     In addition Mr. Shamah would suggest that the concept of Daa's
Torah is recently developed.  The concept of Daa's Torah is as old
as the world itself.  It refers to the idea that if the Torah is
all-encompassing, containing all the knowledge in the world, then
those people best suited to dealing with the problems of this world
are the same people who best understand the Torah which holds ALL
the solutions.

     Our faith is one which may survive only through the
continuance of the Mesorah.  Without it, it is comparable to
wandering the streets of a foreign city with a map in a language
you don't understand.  This Mesorah dictates that it is only if we
follow the examples and direction of our Gedolim that we will be
successful in our goal of Avodas Hashem.

     There is one other point which I noticed as a common thread in
not only this article of Mr. Shamah but the articles of many other
people these days in a wide variety of publications.  It is the
misconception that we in this day and age are on a comparable level
with  our Great Sages, the Geonim, Rishonim, and Acharonim and that
we are therefore entitled to our opinions on Halacha, Hashkafa, and
Torah interpretation just as they are.  This I believe is the
underlying problem which is causing numerous people to cross the
appropriate boundary in their search to gain Torah knowledge.

Elad Rosin


From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Fri, 11 Nov 1994 15:11:10 -0800
Subject: Re:  Roles....

Seth Gordon asks "Then why does halakha require *men* to marry and sire 
children, while *women* are free to remain unmarried all their lives?"  
(m-j 16 no. 48)

This is not a question that I think is likely to be answered by 
mathematical reasoning.  There are likely more practical considerations 
- given the different roles and situations of men and women throughout 
history.  So, I would not dare to suggest that my speculations should be 
used to understand, justify or criticize halacha on a subject such as 
this (or on most all other subjects either.)

However, there is an extraordinary mathematical function that most folks 
have never seen.  It is called Dini's surface and it is illustrated and 
discussed in the recent work of Prof. Alfred Grey, author of "Modern 
Differential Geometry of Curves and Surfaces," reachable through the 
Geometry Research Center of the U. of Minnesota at Minneapolis.  I first 
ran into Dini's survace at the Geometry Research Center two years ago 
during a knot theory workshop and conference.  Dini's surface looks like 
a "fruit tree yielding fruit whose seed is inside itself" (B'reshit 
1,11) that is "rooted" in/on (whose origin is in) "Horeb Sinai."  
(Certain aspects of the Sneh - the Burning Bush - come to mind.)

Dini's surface has some remarkable properties:

All parts of the surface BOTH connect directly back to the "seed" atop a 
(geometric metaphor of) "Mt. Sinai" AND each layer or "generation" is 
completely discreet and separated from the "past" and "future" 
generations.  There are interesting parallels with traditional thinking 
that seem to be metaphorically represented by the geometry of Dini's 

That all the layers or generations of Dini's surface are implicit in the 
"seed atop of Mt. Sinai" (the origin of the surface) is very similar to 
the teaching that all Jews are (potentially) spiritually present on/at 
Mt. Sinai.

The direction back to the origin of the surface models the line of 
female descent from creation. Biologically, the female line of descent 
connects umbilic to womb to umbilic to womb........, endlessly.

The direction that is separated in discreet layers (at right angles, and 
thus potentially a complementary transform of/to the female direction), 
does NOT connect back to the origin of the surface by itself.  It 
depends on being continuously regenerated in each layer from the 
"female" root.  This mimics the line of male descent.  Not only this, 
but if any generation of "male" descent is not "circumcised", it folds 
back on the female line and cuts it off from its origin.  This would 
metaphorically strangle and "kill" the life-line of the "seed."  

And the female line appears as a series of "ribs" of the male line.

I doubt that anyone who has not seen Dini's surface will have any way to 
understand or evaluate what I am saying here.  This is a perfect example 
of the limitations of simple narrative language, like the Pshat level of 
Torah, to carry formal, non-verbal, meaning.  If anyone would like to 
see Dini's surface, ask and we will send a xerox of Prof. Grey's graphic 
from the Geometry Research Center.

I am convinced (but don't take my word for it) that Dini's surface was 
known and understood by our sages and kabbalists and that it is 
discussed in works such as Zohar, Etz Chaim and Pri Etz Chaim among many 
others - including Ain Dorshin in Tractate Hagiga (BT).  If this and the 
above analysis is correct, it is possible that some aspects of the 
halacha you cite were based on this understanding.  Halacha is more than 
theory of course.  We live in a real world where men and women are not 
mathematical abstractions or metaphoric geometries.  But, I believe our 
sages knew of and made use of these spiritually deep kabbalistic 
organizing principles as surely as our modern mathematicians, 
cosmologists and philosophers do.  

Dini's surface (by whatever name it was known) is part of the topology 
of "Continuous Creation" specified letter by letter in B'reshit.  
Ultimately the spiritual and physical roles of men and women are rooted 

Good Shabbos,


From: Zvi Weiss <weissz@...>
Date: Wed, 9 Nov 1994 12:54:08 -0500
Subject: Tav L'meitav

I would like to raise the following questions re Tav L'Meitav which Shaul 
Wallach exhaustively researched.
It appears that this was a proverb widely accepted by men and women and 
could properly serve as the basis for CHAZAL determining human behaviour
-- and establishing halacha based upon such determination.  Questions:

1. Could a woman have preferred an unhappy marriage to a divorce because
   of the social environment in existence at that time? How easily could
   an older single woman get a suitable job and support herself?
2. Is she willing to accept any small benefit "jsut to get married"
   because the situation for single women was so untenable?  Note that
   the Gemara in Kidushin ALSO states that if a man has a daughter who
   is about to be a "Bogeret" (normally over the age of 12-1/2 years),
   he should consider freeing his slave in order to get her married
   off...  In our time, we are not exactly worried about that...
3. If these interpretations of Tav L'Meitav are based upon a
   non-existent social situation (i.e., if the social situation has
   changed to the point that a woman will PREFER a divorce to an unhappy
   marriage and would not accept "any small benefit" jsut to get married
   to somebody), has nayone ever asked a posek how the relevant halachot
   are affected?



From: Zvi Weiss <weissz@...>
Date: Wed, 9 Nov 1994 12:45:45 -0500
Subject: Tefillin

My impression of Guf Naki issues is that it has to do with
"Flatulence"...  I do not know of any indication that Guf Naki has to do
with a woman's period.  For example, one is not allowed to wear tefillin
while napping -- because of the fact that one cannnot control "gas"
while one is asleep...  This does not seem to be a hygiene issue, as
such.  I would suggest going back to the sources that discuss wearing
Tefillin in terms of the rule of Guf Naki before asserting that it is
strictly a matter of hygiene.  Other points to consider include: We do
not start a child wearing Tefillin until very shortly before Bar Mitzva
-- again because of the Guf Naki Arguement (I beleive that most children
practice adequate hygiene well before their 11th birthday...) as well as
the description of the pain that the Gemara describes that "Rebbe" went
through in taking off and putting on his tefillin due to the intestinal
disturbances he suffered shortly before he passed away... (The passing
of Rebbe is described in the latter 1/2 of Kesubot and the issue of
Chinuch for Children is described in several places including the Mishna
in Sukka [re the obligation for boys to sleep in the Sukka] with the
gemara following.  Given the source material, I find it difficult to
posit that the Guf Naki was a purely "spiritual thing"...  While
Tefillin are a Torah Requirement, there is a prohibition to wear
Tefillin unless one has a Guf Naki...  I do not under- stand why the
story of Elisha Ba'al Kenafayim cannot be taken at face value -- he
merited a miracle because he was so very careful of the Guf Naki
requirements associated with Tefillin...

Actually, I do not define guf naki differently for women than I do for
men...  If Guf Naki refers to adequate control of functions associated
with digestion, there should be NO difference between men anshd women in
that regard.  Instead, the issue becomes limiting observance of the
mitzva to a "minimal" level of "performance/obligation" because of the
overall problem of guf Naki....

In general, I feel -- based upon classical source material -- that guf
Naki *is* a very old issue and the only question comes up in terms of
applying it to the particular situation of women wearing Tefillin.

As an aside, I would suggest going back to the Gemara where the dispute
re Michal Bat Sha'ul wearing tefillin is cited.  It might be useful to
see why some felt that She was NOt allowed to wear Tefillin or wore them
against the wishes of the Chachamim...



From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Sun, 20 Nov 1994 20:17:31 -0800
Subject: The Flood and Mesorah

Yosef Bechhofer mentions Yonah.  I wonder if there are any teachings
with regard to the Kikiyon that grows and withers.  I ask because there
is another word that is similar to kikiyon that refers to a psychedelic
used by the Greeks in their initiations.  If the kikiyon in Yonah is a
psychedelic (and not just some other extraordinary "gourd"), then the
story in Yonah can be understood as a meditationally (and/or
medicinally) induced ego-death experience.  Has any recognized authority
investigated this possibility.

Also, does anyone know the Hebrew etymology of p'tree-iah - "mushroom"?  
This word seems to consist of the word petter (consecration, or first 
birth of) and the short name for G-d.  It is also suspiciously similar 
to the Greek/Christian Pater/Peter. 

Does anyone know anything about John Allegro's infamous (and arguably 
anti-semitic) book "The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross" in which the 
author attempts to demonstrate that Christianity had its origins in a 
mushroom cult based on the ingestion of amanita muscaria?

I ask these questions in the hope of broadening the discussion of 
literalism vs. allegory in Torah.  There are more choices than only: 
Torah is literally true, or Torah is allegory.  What if some of the 
experiences described in Torah occurred in what we would call altered 
states of reality?  What if some of the more difficult stories are 
literal descriptions of events as witnessed from an altered state?  They 
would be literally true, but "literally" would have a different meaning.

Are real experiences, experienced while in an altered state of reality, 
as real as real experiences experienced in a normal state of reality?  
Are some persons' normal states the same as other persons' altered 
states?  What about different means of experiencing different states of 
reality?  Is climbing Mt. Sinai different from meditating?  Is 
meditation different from the use of psychedelics?  How can we make 
these comparisons?  Are Moshe's literal descriptions of his experiences 
on Mt. Sinai what we would call literal in our normal state?

I know that our sages discuss meditation, but do they compare this to 
other experiences and states?  Why is a dream 1/60th of prophesy?   Etc.

Perhaps broadening our discussion of the literalness of Torah to include 
these questions might be helpful.  Does anyone have references and 

Stan Tenen


End of Volume 16 Issue 73