Volume 16 Number 76
                       Produced: Tue Nov 22 21:44:25 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

2nd rarest shmone esrei - ooops!
         [Akiva Miller]
Rarest Shmoneh Esrei - the top 9
         [Akiva Miller]
Source for Age of Earth
         [Stan Tenen]
The Flood, Mesorah and Non-Literal Interpretations
         [M. Shamah]


From: <Keeves@...> (Akiva Miller)
Date: Tue, 22 Nov 1994 01:53:53 -0500
Subject: 2nd rarest shmone esrei - ooops!

I must admit to a glaring error in the search for the second-rarest Shmone
Esrei. This is a case which occurs only ten times in the 212 years from 1891
to 2102, but only for people who live outside of Israel, and who say Shalom
Rav only at Maariv. Namely, The combination of Yaaleh V'Yavo and Al Hanisim,
in a year when it falls early enough to still say V'Sen Bracha, but NOT with
Ata Chonantanu! Why didn't any of us think of that one?

Teves 1 5660 was December 2-3 1899, Motzaei Shabbos-Sunday. Tal Umatar starts
the night of Dec 4.
Teves 1 5679 was December 3-4 1918, Tuesday-Wednesday. Tal Umatar starts the
night of Dec 4.
Kislev 30 5717 was December 3-4 1956, Mon-Tues.  Tal Umatar starts the night
of Dec 4.
Kislev 30 5736 was December 3-4 1975, Weds-Thurs. Tal Umatar starts the night
of Dec 5.
Teves 1 5736 was December 4-5 1975, Thurs-Fri. Tal Umatar starts the night of
Dec 5.
Teves 1 5755 will be December 3-4 1994, Motzaei Shabbos-Sunday. Tal Umatar
starts the night of Dec 4.
Kislev 30 5774 will be December 2-3 2013, Mon-Tues. Tal Umatar starts the
night of Dec 4.
Teves 1 5774 will be December 3-4 2013, Tues-Weds. Tal Umatar starts the
night of Dec 4.
Teves 1 5793 will be December 2-3 2032, Thurs-Fri. Tal Umatar starts the
night of Dec 4.
Teves 1 5812 will be December 3-4 2051, Sun-Mon. Tal Umatar starts the night
of Dec 5.
Teves 1 5820 will be December 4-5 2059, Thurs-Fri. Tal Umatar starts the
night of Dec 5.
Teves 1 5831 will be December 2-3 2070, Tues-Weds. Tal Umatar starts the
night of Dec 4.
Teves 1 5850 will be December 3-4 2089, Motzaei Shabbos-Sun. Tal Umatar
starts the night of Dec 4.

This list yields 13 Maarivs, of which 3 had Atah Chonantanu, and ten did not,
and 13 cases each of Shacharis and Mincha.

Those who say Shalom Rav at both Mincha and Maariv have the following: 13
times when V'sen Bracha, Yaaleh V'yavo, Al Hanisim, and Sim Shalom are said.
And 23 cases when V'sen Bracha, Yaaleh V'yavo, Al Hansim, and Shalom Rav are
said without Ata Chonantanu. And 3 *with* Ata Chonantanu.

Those who say Sim Shalom at both Shacharis and Mincha have the following: 26
times when V'sen Bracha, Yaaleh V'yavo, Al Hanisim, and Sim Shalom are said.
And 10 cases when V'sen Bracha, Yaaleh V'yavo, Al Hansim, and Shalom Rav are
said without Ata Chonantanu. And 3 *with* Ata Chonantanu.

Those whose say Sim Shalom at all three tefilos have 36 cases of this
combination without Ata Chonantanu, and three with it.

If anyone comes up with more ideas, lets hear them!


From: <Keeves@...> (Akiva Miller)
Date: Mon, 21 Nov 1994 07:47:46 -0500
Subject: Rarest Shmoneh Esrei - the top 9

There has been some excitement lately over the rarest or second-rarest
Shmoneh Esrei. There has also been a bit of confusion as a result of the
three distinct geographical areas which we must take into consideration,
namely: Jerusalem, the rest of Israel, the rest of the world.

I would like to propose the following unified list. For each situation, I
list what it is, where it occurs, and how many times it occurs in the 212
years from 5651 to 5862 inclusive. (I chose that period because that is the
span of my (free!) Jewish/Civil Database Calendar program, which is now
available in the Judaism section of the Religion forum on both America OnLine
and CompuServe. (If anyone wants to copy it from there to the Internet please
do so - I don't know how.))

The all-time rarest Shmoneh Esrei, as Mike Gerver has brought to our
attention, occurs only outside of Israel. This is the combination of atah
chonantanu, v'sen bracha, yaaleh v'yavo, and al hanisim, which occurs only
three times in this span: Rosh Chodesh Teves in 1899, 1994, and 2089. (There
are another 58 cases where we say ata chonatanu, tal umatar, yaaleh v'yavo,
and al hanisim outside Israel, while that combination is said on all 61
occasions in Israel.)

Four tefilos are tied for second place, and all can be said only in
Jerusalem: The Al Hanisim of Purim can be said on Shabbos only in
Jerusalem, when Shushan Purim is on Shabbos. All four Shmoneh Esreis of
the day are different from each other, and each of the four is said only
17 times in these 212 years.

Sixth place: The next-rarest is Musaf for combined Shabbos and Rosh Chodesh,
when it includes both the phrase 'ulchaparas pasha' and al hanisim. This
occurs worldwide, making it the rarest Shmoneh Esrei for points in Israel
outside of Jerusalem. It occurs 23 times in the above span, when Rosh Chodesh
Teves falls on Shabbos during a leap year.

Yom Tov Shmoneh Esreh for Pesach on Motzaei Shabbos includes Vatodienu. This
can occur on the first night in Israel, and also on the second and eight
nights outside Israel. The seventh night is Yom Yov, but never falls on
Motzaei Shabbos. So the combination of Yom Tov for Pesach with Vatodienu
occurs only 25 times in Israel. (Outside Israel, this combination is said
much more often, because in those 25 years it is repeated a week later, on
the eighth night of Pesach, and it is also said in years when the second
night is on Motzaei Shabbos.)

In years when Pesach begins on Motzaei Shabbos, six months later, the fifth
day of Sukkos will fall on Shabbos and that day's Musaf will include the
Shabbos portions. So, this case is tied with the above for the same 25 times.
In Israel, this is referred to as the fourth day of Chol Hamoed, and the
Musaf mentions "Uvayom Hachamishee". Outside Israel, this day is the third
day of Chol Hamoed, and the Musaf mentions both "Uvayom Har'vee'ee" and
"Uvayom Hachamishee".

When Rosh Chodesh Teves falls on Shabbos in a non-leap year, we say the
combined Shabbos-Rosh Chodesh Musaf with Al Hanisim but without Ulchaparas
Pasha. This occurs 41 times.

The calendar is designed so that any given day of Yom Tov or Chol Hamoed can
fall on four specific days of the week. This gives rise to many cases
occurring "only" 60 times or so during this 212 year span. I have found no
cases occurring between 42 and 57 times, and so for brevity's sake, I will
not list any case which occurs more than that.

I welcome all additions or corrections. If you want to come up with more
ideas, keep in mind that on an ordinary day, Nusach Ashkenaz says Shalom Rav
at both Maariv and Mincha (except Shabbos Mincha in Israel), while most
Nusach Sefard says Shalom Rav only at Maariv, and some always say Sim Shalom.
My apologies to all the Syrians, Yeminites, Ethiopians, and other minorities;
I am unfamiliar with your siddur, but welcome all your ideas.

Akiva Miller


From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Sun, 20 Nov 1994 20:16:49 -0800
Subject: Source for Age of Earth

Moishe Kimelman asks for a Torah source to show that the six days are 
not literal. 

I previously posted several quotations about the non-literalness of 

 From Rabbi Yehoshua Avraham of Zitmar:
"Our sages teach us that he Torah was created two thousand years before 
the world.

"This is difficult to understand, since the Torah contains accounts of 
many events that happened after creation. How can the Torah speak of 
creation, Adam and Eve, Noah, the holy Patriarchs, and all the other 
things recorded in the Torah? ...

"Actually, when the Torah was created, it was a mixture of letters.  The 
letters of the Torah were not yet combined into words as they are 

 From Rabbi Levi Yitzchok:

"..."In its sequence of descent to this lowly world, the Torah must 
become clothed in a material garment, which often consists of stories.  
When G-d grants a person knowledge, understanding, and intelligence, 
uncovering the mask that blinds his eyes, he can see the wonders of 
G-d's Torah.  The people on this level are few, however, and the 
majority only understand the Torah according to its simple meaning."

 From Zohar as quoted by Louis Ginsberg in On Jewish Law and Lore:
"Wo unto the man who asserts that this Torah intends to relate only 
commonplace things and secular narratives; for if this were so, then in 
the present times likewise a Torah might be written with more attractive 
narratives....Now the narratives of the Torah are its garments.  He who 
thinks that these garments are the Torah itself deserves to perish and 
have no share in the world to come.  Wo unto the fools who look no 
further when they see an elegant robe!  More valuable than the garment 
is the body which carries it, and more valuable even than that is the 
soul which animates the body.  Fools see only the garment of the Torah, 
the more intelligent see the body, the wise see the soul, its proper 
being, and in the Messianic time the 'upper soul' of the Torah will 
stand revealed."

There are several other similar examples.  The idea is that the
narrative stories in Torah did not even exist when Torah was first
written - only the letter sequences.  The stories by themselves are not
Torah.  Persons who understand Torah as only stories are spoken of
negatively.  As much as this is true for the story parts of Torah, it is
even more true for the creation because there could not be anyone around
to witness that history.

How do persons who insist that the Pshat be literally true respond to 
these teachings?  Should these teachings be taken seriously or should 
they be discounted?  Are there authoritative responses to these 

Stan Tenen


From: <MSHAMAH@...> (M. Shamah)
Date: Mon, 21 Nov 1994 19:50:25 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: The Flood, Mesorah and Non-Literal Interpretations

In M-J V16#67, Yosef Bechhofer responds to the citation of traditional
sources supporting Marc Shapiro's right to interpret the Flood
allegorically in light of overwhelming scientific evidence against a
literal reading.  Regarding both a) the Rambam's position that had there
been a compelling scientific or philosophic reason to support the
Eternity of the Universe view he would have interpreted Genesis 1 in
accordance with it, but as he believes Aristotle didn't truly make his
point Mesorah comes into play and b) R. Kook's position that the
doctrine of Evolution - modified to include the Creator's role - is so
compelling and uplifting that Torah should only be taught that way,
Yosef comments:

>> I fail to see why these points are relevant.  Of course we can
>accept science when it does not contradict Torah.  It is where
>there is a REAL clash that our debate begins.   

But these sources are very relevant.  The Rambam and tradition consider
non-Eternity of the Universe a much more important principle than a
literal interpretation of the Flood, and yet, if there is overwhelming
evidence to support Eternity (the magnitude of which can probably never
approach the evidence against a literal Flood reading) the Rambam would
reinterpret the Torah.  His view is that one cannot deny absolutely
overwhelming evidence but should reinterpret the Torah, even if the
interpretation is a new one for the time in which it is proposed.  Truth
must be consistent with itself, logic and science are part of the
Creator's revelation and we have no right to dismiss them as
out-of-hand.  R. Kook knew the traditional world interpreted the six
days as a series of discrete creative activities, but when the
scientific evidence compellingly indicated otherwise, he reinterpreted
the Torah in harmony with the evidence.  The Flood should be no

Of course we must not be hasty to jump to conclusions, but if it appears
certain that there is a contradiction and we try to resolve it to no
avail, it would appear that according to some of our great authorities
we have a responsibility to look into our tradition and ask how sure are
we that it has the absolutely correct perspective on the relevant

Another statement of Yosef Bechhofer must be analyzed.  Regarding the
many instances Rishonim give non-literal interpretations to Scriptural
passages, he comments:

>> ....about the Rambam, Ralbag and others' approach toward such
>events that they say were visions or conveyed by prophets - THAT IS
>NOT THE SAME AS ALLEGORY. The Rambam....believes that this is the
>way angels appear and signs occur - in visions.  The Tanach
>accurately describes real events that actually transpired - in the
>realm of prophecy.  What I understand Marc to have said is that the
>flood account is an allegory - i.e., it didn't take place in the
>realm of vision either - it is, according to Marc, a symbolic
>story, much like a parable.

Yosef overlooked Marc's original citation - the Garden of Eden - a
passage not presented by Scripture as comprising a prophet's specific
vision and interpreted by many Rishonim allegorically - "a symbolic
story, much like a parable".

But more importantly, if the Flood is an allegory it is nonetheless a
prophetic statement - a communication transmitted from the Almighty to a
prophet - and the reality it and its attendant events represent are just
as true as any literal passage.  If the Book of Job refers to a
"fictitious" individual - as one Talmudic opinion holds - and the
afflictions described, the dialogue with friends and with G-d and his
ultimate restoration are all one grand allegory, the sefer's truth is
not diminished.  If the elaborate description of human beings being
resurrected in Ezekiel's vision doesn't refer to human beings at all but
to the nation's revival, perhaps the Flood doesn't refer to the whole
world's being drowned but to some other form of chastisement and

Interestingly, the sages of old made radical statements limiting the
Flood against the literal reading of the Biblical account: it wasn't in
the Land of Israel; "giants" such as Og lived through it.  It appears
some sages looked on the Flood as allegorical.

Because it is difficult to know where to draw the line - a difficulty
pointed out centuries ago by the Rashba and others - we cannot ignore a
long-sustained, multi-disciplinary unanimity of numerous serious
researchers, some of whom are from our own traditional circles.
Especially as regards pre-history, it should create no problem if we are
dealing with a prophetic vision presented in a narrative mode even for
those who don't want to follow the Rambam et al.  (Viewed against the
background of pre- Torah literary compositions such as the Gilgamish
epic - cited by Marc in his original posting - the Flood narrative is
highly inspiring, conforming with the revolutionary new standards the
Torah, through prophecy, brought into the world.)

Yosef writes that "Elu VeElu" and "Daas Torah" have nothing to do with
this discussion which is centered around our attitude towards Mesorah
and Chazal, and Chazal - via the Mesorah - accepted the Flood as
literal.  Perhaps - only perhaps - they did.  However, great as the
sages were, the Rambam and others make the point that they definitely
were not infallible.  That is the point of insisting on a correct
understanding of Elu VeElu and Daas Torah and citing the thousands of
instances regarding realia, interpreting events and explaining meanings
of words where the tradition is incomplete, where the sages and Rishonim
have controversies often espousing diametrically opposed views which
cannot all be factual as far as historical accuracy is concerned.  That
also is the point of citing the numerous instances where later
authorities proffered novel interpretations - unheard of in the works of
Hazal - to solve what they considered problems.  If Rishonim thought
science disproved necromancy and rejected a literal interpretation of
the necromancer's conjuring up the prophet Samuel and King Saul's
conversation with him, today, they might possibly interpret the Flood in
a non-literal manner.


End of Volume 16 Issue 76