Volume 16 Number 82
                       Produced: Thu Nov 24 21:27:55 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Flood and Mesorah (2)
         [Yosef Bechhofer, Yosef Bechhofer]
Lice Eggs
         [Danny Skaist]
Membership of Single Women and Voting Rights
         [Rivka Finkelstein]
Piltdown Man
         [Seth Gordon]
Price of Kosher Food
         [Jules Reichel]
Rambam's medical knowledge
         [Josh Backon]


From: <sbechhof@...> (Yosef Bechhofer)
Date: Wed, 23 Nov 1994 00:23:22 -0600 (CST)
Subject: Re: Flood and Mesorah

>From: <MSHAMAH@...> (M. Shamah)

> 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,
> 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.

Let's deal with the Rambam first. What the Rambam says  is  that  were 
Chazal not to have stated that the world is created, he would not have 
a problem with the eternity of matter from a theological standpoint.He 
does not say what you attribute to him, that were science to  "refute" 
Chazal, he would accept science over Chazal. The Rambam  was  a  smart 
man, he knew that science cannot state with certainty  anything  about 
the past, and he takes Aristotle to task at length over this is in the 

> 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.

Could I please have precise chapter and verse citation as to where the 
Rambam says that scientific THEORY requires us to reinterpret Torah?

>  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 different.

I believe I am part of the Traditional world, and I don't  necessarily 
take the Six days as  twenty  four  hour  days.  After  all,  Rabbeinu 
Bechayei accepted the Chazal of their being  of  1000  years  duration 
each. You err, however, concerning Rav Kook. Rav Kook never deals with 
the question of the Six Days  -  only  Evolution,  which  is  quite  a 
diffirent issue, as the series of consecutive worlds described by  the 
Tiferes Yisroel and others might accomodate the literal Six  Days  and 
Evolution  quite  well.  Indeed,  Rav  Kook's  primary  concren   with 
Evolution was the application of  that  theory  to  social  and  moral 
development on a metaphysical and metahistorical plane. He  does  not, 
to the best of my knowledge - perhaps you would like to bring  chapter 
and verse citations that  I  am  unaware  of  -  engage  in  Scriptual 

> 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...  [deleted material] perhaps the
> Flood doesn't refer to the whole world's being drowned but to some
> other form of chastisement and salvation.
> 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.

Again, I address to you and others the question  I  previously  placed 
MITZRAYIM AND MATTAN TORAH AS ALLEGORY? Clearly,  the  fact  that  the 
Torah clearly and unambigiously presents the account of the  Mabul  as 
Historical fact does not sway you from regarding it as allegory -  why 
not the cornerstones of our Belief as well?
     The proofs you cite from the  Gemara  in  Zevachim  are  in  fact 
dramatic proof of the exact opposite - Chazal  took  the  Flood  quite 
literally, and, indeed, have explicit disputes as  to  its  very  REAL 
extent and survivability!

> 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.

I am amazed at the blind  faith  that  some  have  when  it  comes  to 
"multi-disciplinary unanimity of numerous serious researchers,"  faith 
we would not give to our Mesorah. Scientific theory is  constantly  in 
flux! Yet even more bothersome is the classification of Parashas Noach 
as prehistory. Is the Torah not history? 

> 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.

The Rishonim did not believe that SCIENCE repudiated  necromancy.  You 
would be correct, and this case would be  parallel  to  ours,  had  a 
Rishon said something to the effect of: "Dr. X has brought  convincing 
evidence that archaelogical and paleontological records indicate  that 
the  Necromancer  of  Ov  never  existed.  I  therefore  come  to  the 
conclusion that the Biblical Passage in question is an Allegory."
     In fact, of course, no Rishon would ever say such  a  thing.  The 
very notion is preposterous. What Rishonim did say is something to the 
effect of: "My masters have taught me theology and I have learnt  more 
theology from the Bible and the Talmud. Based on my  understanding  of 
the theolgy of Judaism, I come to the  conclusion  that  the  Biblical 
Passage concerning the Necromancer of Ov  refers  not  to  an  act  of 
witchcraft, which is invariably an illusion, but  a  prophetic  vision 
that King Shaul, a known prophet, experienced."
     Once more, I reiterate, the veracity of our  entire  religion  is 
predicated on the Ramban and  Kuzari's  (among  others)  premise:  Our 
traditions are authenticated by 600,000 men + women and  children  who 
vouchsafed the truth of  Yetzias  Mitzrayim  and  Mattan  Torah.  That 
Mesorah is grounded in the firm and  rational  position  that  parents 
would not perpetrate grand hoaxes - and even  allegories  -  on  their 
children generation after generation. The Flood has not come  down  to 
us in our Mesorah as anything other than historical  fact.  To  assume 
otherwise  is to assume that the Mesorah is not accurate - if so,  the 
further conclusions become eminently and terribly clear...
Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer

From: <sbechhof@...> (Yosef Bechhofer)
Date: Wed, 23 Nov 1994 18:30:30 -0600 (CST)
Subject: Re: Flood and Mesorah

M. Shamah has raised the issue of the Rambam's view of Aristotle's
theory that the matter of this world always existed.  He states,
according to Rabbi Shamah, that:

     If there would have been a compelling scientific or 
     philosophic reason to support the Eternity of the Universe 
     view, the Rambam states he would have interpreted Genesis 1 
     in accordance with it, but he believes Aristotle didn't 
     truly make his point, so Mesorah came into play.

In a later posting, he expanded on this point further.  Let us examine
the actual Rambam, Moreh Nevuchim II:25 (p.  328 in the Pines edition,
which I quote):

"If, however, one believed in eternity... - which is the opinion of
Plato - ...this opinion would not destroy the foundations of the Law...
.. It would also be possible to interpret figuratively the texts in
accordance with this opinion. And many obscure passages could be found
in the texts of the Torah and others with which this opinion could be
connected... . However, no necessity could impel us to do this unless
this opinion were demonstrated..."

In fact, this section - paraphrased by Rabbi Shamah - is  in  regard  to 
PLATO's opinion. In regard to Aristotle's opinion, the Rambam writes  in 
the previous section:

"...The belief in eternity the way Aristotle sees  it  -  that  is,  the 
belief according to which the world exists in  virtue  of  necessity,... 
and that the customary course of events cannot be modified  with  regard 
to anything - destroys the Law in its principle, NECESSARILY  GIVES  THE 
LIE TO EVERY MIRACLE, and reduces to inanity all the hopes  and  threats 
that the Law has held out,  unless  -  BY  G-D!  -  ONE  INTERPRETS  THE 
MIRACLES FIGURATIVELY ALSO, as was done  by  the  Islamic  internalists; 
this, however would result in some sort of crazy imaginings."

(The emphasis is, of course, mine.) The  text,  I  believe,  speaks  for 
itself. I only note that this idea is briefly and clearly  discussed  by 
Rabbi Yaakov Weinberg in "Fundamentals and Faith" pp. 50-52.
Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer


From: DANNY%<ILNCRD@...> (Danny Skaist)
Date: Thu, 24 Nov 94 15:19 IST
Subject: Lice Eggs

>M Shamash
>reconcilations are proffered - such as the rosh yeshiva who said that
>yes, lice do have eggs, but they can not be seen by the naked eye, and
>therefore don't count.  But lice eggs can be seen by the naked eye!

Are lice eggs ALWAYS visible to the naked eye, immedietly after being laid ?
Or are they laid dehydrated, and colorless until they absorb liquid (sweat)
and expand, change color and become visible ?



From: <ac672@...> (Rivka Finkelstein)
Date: Thu, 24 Nov 1994 01:46:49 -0500
Subject: Membership of Single Women and Voting Rights

Does anyone have any information regarding the permisibility or not of single
women (never married, divorced or widowed) to be full members of an Orthodox
synagogue and to have voting rights at that Synagogue.

Rivka Finkelstein


From: <sethg@...> (Seth Gordon)
Date: Wed, 23 Nov 1994 21:35:50 EST
Subject: Re: Piltdown Man

/ Whatever happened to Piltdown Man :-) ?

Since you asked ... Piltdown Man was exposed as a fraud by
paleontologists, who noticed that as their collection of hominid
skulls grew, the Piltdown Man skull stuck out from the collection
like a sore thumb.  This led skeptics to take a closer look at
the skull, and behold, the marks of forgery became obvious.

--Seth Gordon <sethg@...> standard disclaimer


From: <JPREICHEL@...> (Jules Reichel)
Date: Tue, 22 Nov 1994 19:48:51 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Price of Kosher Food

I would be interested in seeing the survey results. I suggest however that 
your methodology should be examined further. I post publicly to encourage
other ideas. "Funny" results wouldn't be a good result from a lot of work.
1. I don't think that a Big Mac is a reliable market unit. The consistency
of the product does not mean that it is fixed with respect to the cost
of an average market basket, or with respect to the average weekly wage.
Some countries have cheap beef and some don't. I'm not a maven, but I think
that Mac also adjusts expected profits from their hamburgers and from the 
high profit french fries and soda, to meet cultural expectations.
2. You can't ask: what's the price of a treif chicken per pound and get a 
single answer. Again I'm very far from a maven, but my casual walking of 
supermarket aisles suggests that treif turkey sells anywhere from about
$.29 per pound to about $1.50 per pound. Treif customers have in the last
20 years become purchasers of high quality poultry, which, at one time,
only we used. But the bottom end products still exist. So, how can someone
answer the questions on price? Which price?
In my area, Empire turket varies from around $.69 per pound to $1.29 per 
pound. That's not as big a variation as for treif, but which number do you

I tried to think up some answers to help but I didn't find it to be easy.
Here's a few to think about: Drop Big Mac as the normalizer. See if the
library has statistical data on average weekly wages in various places. If
you can find it, then it seems more reliable to me. Define all poultry as 
the high end products, like Purdue chicken(?), when sold *not* on sale or 
near any holidays. If you can accept a little more complexity, ask for highs
and lows, and offer some definitions. There's also an issue of frozen and 
fresh which I think that you have to clarify. 


From: <BACKON@...> (Josh Backon)
Date: Thu,  24 Nov 94 15:41 +0200
Subject: RE: Rambam's medical knowledge

Reb Yaacov Haber quotes the Otzar Hamelech who finds a rationale
for every piece of medical advice of the Rambam. The Rambam says that
we are to sleep first on one side of the body and then on the other side
of the body the second half of the night. Just as an aside, this
remarkable insight was *rediscovered* by Japanese researchers in 1955
(Takagi K, Kobayasi S. Skin pressure-vegetative reflex. Acta Medica
Biol 1955;4:3-57) and is the basis of a number of papers published
by our group at the medical school. Based on this, emergency medical
personnel now routinely place poisoning victims on their left side
to retard toxicity.



End of Volume 16 Issue 82