Volume 17 Number 28
                       Produced: Thu Dec 15 21:51:21 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Mesorah, Science and The Flood (again)
         [Moshe Shamah]
Re. Rarest Amidah
         [Yossi Halberstadt]
strict vs. restrictive
         [Aleeza Esther Berger]
The Value of Secular Studies
         [Hayim Hendeles]
The very first syag
         ["Yaakov Menken"]
Yeshiva before med school
         [Erwin Katz]


From: <MSHAMAH@...> (Moshe Shamah)
Date: Wed, 14 Dec 1994 13:39:07 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: Mesorah, Science and The Flood (again)

This is in response to points 2-5 that Yosef Bechhofer directed
toward me in MJ16#98.

>2.  Rabbi Shama notes that Rav Kook liked the theory of
>evolution... [and] claims that this theory requires
>allegorization of Biblical verses.  Rav Kook never made that
>claim, and I challenge Rabbi Shama to present such verses.

It is obvious that if we posit G-d's creative activity working through
evolutionary circuitry, verses such as "G-d formed man dust from the
earth"; "G-d cast a deep sleep on man and as he slept took one of his
ribs... and built it into woman" and many other verses necessarily
require new, non-literal and sometimes allegorical interpretation.
(BTW, I have been asked for a copy of Rav Kook's statement on evolution,
which I carefully read and reread years ago in an early edition of his
works and to which I have been referring from memory.  It appears that
it is not readily available today.  As far as I can determine it has
been expunged from recent editions.  This probably is another example of
zealous posthumous censorship.)

>3.  Rabbi Shama quotes the Rishonim who regarded Shaul's vision of
>Shmuel as hallucination.  This too is not allegory.  It is not a
>"mashal."  You are interpreting the Flood as a "mashal" & to this
>I have objected.

The right to interpret passages non-literally, against the previously
prevalent consensus of understanding them, in order to reconcile them
with results of science, is also the right to interpret a passage as
prophetic allegory.

>4.  Rabbi Shama cites scientific evidence that the Flood could
>not have occurred.  Science, by definition, denies miracles. 
>Krias Yam Suf could not have occurred either by scientific rules.

G-d governs the world and science is at his disposal.  He reconfigures
the forces of nature as and when He wills to achieve His purposes.  His
relationship with the world is beyond so-called "scientific rules".
However, there is no reason whatsoever to assume - and it is contrary to
our common sense to believe - that He totally eradicated the effects of
His intervention concerning an event such as a literal Flood is supposed
to have been, recreating vegetative growth, creature development and
acclimation, natural formations, ancient records, structures, ruins and
remains and myriad details in such a way that it will appear to man as
if there hadn't been the Flood.

>>5.  Rabbi Shama never answered why he accepts, if he does, the
>Exodus and Lawgiving as literal...

A literal Exodus and Lawgiving are much more essential elements of our
historical tradition and much less problematic than is a literal
interpretation of the Flood.  Some reasons I accept them as basically
literal (there probably is some degree of metaphoric language or detail
here) are because the Biblical narrative in what might be called a
"modern" historical context indicates it; they are specifically attested
to by prophets as basically literal; they are so transmitted by sages
and they are deeply intertwined with the Torah legal code.


From: <fx_joe@...> (Yossi Halberstadt)
Date: Mon, 05 Dec 1994 14:23:09 GMT
Subject: Re. Rarest Amidah

The following article was prepared by Dr. J.H.E Cohn and distributed in
shul (GGBH) last Friday night.  Posted with permission of the author.

Yossi Halberstadt

                  A calendar curiosity
       by J.H.E. Cohn [e-Mail <J.Cohn@...>]

     As a recent note on the Net has mentioned, on Motzai Shabbos
Mikketz, there was an unusual Sh'monei Esrei, in that all three of ato
chonantonu, y'alei veyovau and al hanisim were said. This is not really
so very unusual, as it occurs if and only if in that year Rosh Hashonoh
falls either on Tuesday or on Monday, and the year is sholaim, i.e.
Cheshvon has 30 days.  In addition, since this year everything falls so
early, outside Israel we were still saying vethain b'rochoh. It was
pointed out that this last occurred 95 years ago. As will be seen from
the table, it also next occurs in 95 years time, but the conclusion that
someone mentioned "that it occurs only every 95 years", implying that it
is periodic with period 95 years, is incorrect.
     It is fairly well-known that the main aspects of the Hebrew
calendar are based upon Rav Adda's tekufoh, with the result that any
fixed date, in this case 1st. Teveth, tends to fall later on average in
the solar calendar over a long period of time. However, the beginning of
the saying of tal umotor is based on Shmuel's tekufoh, which is even
longer. Thus this will fall successively later on average, even relative
to a fixed date in the Hebrew calendar.
     The result of this is that the particular combination of ato
chonantonu, y'alei veyovau, al hanisim and vethain b'rochoh occurred FOR
THE VERY FIRST TIME in 1652, and prior to the present year, had occurred
only three times in all. As might be expected, the present fixed
calendar would result in it occurring steadily more often, but
irregularly, in the future. This can be seen from the table, which I
hope is now complete up to the Hebrew Year 7000, the civil dates being
in the Gregorian system.

Hebrew Year   tal umotor    1st. Teveth    Civil Year
              starts on     falls on
              December      December
    5413            2             1            1652
    5508            4             3            1747
    5660            5             3            1899

    5755            5             4            1994
    5850            5             4            2089
    5907            6             4            2146

    5934            6             5            2173
    5945            6             5            2184
    6002            7             5            2241

    6029            7             6            2268
    6097            8             6            2336
    6124            9             8            2363

    6154            8             5            2393
    6181            8             6            2420
    6192            9             7            2431

    6249            8             5            2488
    6276           10             8            2515
    6344           10             7            2583

    6371           10             9            2610
    6401           10             6            2640
    6428           11             8            2667

    6466           11            10            2705
    6496           12             8            2735
    6523           11             9            2762

    6550           11            10            2789
    6591           11             8            2830
    6618           11             9            2857

    6645           11            10            2884
    6648           12             7            2887
    6675           12             9            2914

    6713           12            10            2952
    6740           13            12            2979
    6743           12             8            2982

    6770           13            10            3009
    6797           13            11            3036
    6824           14            13            3063

    6838           13             9            3077
    6865           14            11            3104
    6892           15            13            3131

    6895           14             9            3134
    6922           14            10            3161
    6960           15            12            3199

    6987           14            13            3226
    6990           14             9            3229

Sincere thanks are due to Mr. P. Berlin, who pointed an omission out in
an earlier version.

Joe Halberstadt                                 <HALBERSTADTJ@...>


From: Aleeza Esther Berger <aeb21@...>
Date: Thu, 15 Dec 1994 17:17:34 -0500 (EST)
Subject: strict vs. restrictive

> >From: David Maslow <MASLOWD@...>

(I think it was from him; it was difficult to tell what the > levels 
meant, sorry if it was from someone else):

> discussing glatt vs.  non-glatt, then it is wrong to suggest that
> Chassidim "demand...higher tolerances of kashrut" when all that is
> involved is a different interpretation.  All too often, the
> non-Chassidic world accepts itself as being a little less careful than
> its Chassidic counterparts rather than affirming its strict and positive
> approach to halacha.

I think all that was meant was that the Chassidic slaughtering is more 
*restrictive*, i.e. has an extra regulation or two.  In this sense, yes, 
the Chassidim are demanding a higher standard, and the non-Chassidic 
world *is* being a little less careful.  

Aliza Berger


From: Hayim Hendeles <hayim@...>
Date: Wed, 14 Dec 94 10:01:28 -0800
Subject: The Value of Secular Studies

	The RAMBAM (Maimonides) in his Perush ha-Mishnayot (Explanation 
	of the Mishnah) explains:

	   "You should know that the ratio of the diameter of a circle
	   to its circumference is not known and can never be stated
	   with accuracy.  This is not due to any lack of understanding ...
	   As this can never be known except as an approximation 
	   they (chaza"l, the Rabbis of the Mishnah and Gemara)
	   rounded it off the to the nearest whole number and said that 
	   "anything which has circumference of 3 tefachim has a 
	   diameter of one tefach" and they rely on this wherever the 
	   Torah requires a measurement."

	   In addition to the subject matter this also provides one more
	indication, as if that were needed, of the RAMBAM's study and
	knowledge of the science available in his day and of the importance
	of the study of science to the study of Torah.

	Abe Lebowitz

Pardon me for being the devil's advocate here, but I can't resist the
bait. How does this example tell me anything about the "importance of
the study of science to the study of Torah"? Aside from my ignorance,
why would I be any worse off if I did not know any math, and believed
the value of PI to be exactly 3. So what? And even if I were told
that this so-called-science has established a value of 3.14, and
I couldn't reconcile it with my literal interpretation of the Bible,
so what?

Sure it's a nice tidbit to know that PI is really irrational, whose
value is in the neighborhood of 3.14, and Chazal only used an estimation
when using the value 3, but I don't follow the poster's point that
"this establishes the importance of the study of science to Torah".

Hayim Hendeles


From: "Yaakov Menken" <ny000548@...>
Date: Thu, 15 Dec 94 13:53:01 -0500
Subject: Re: The very first syag

>>From: <jeremy@...> (Jeremy Nussbaum)
>Subject: Re: The very first Syag
>> >From: Michael Shimshoni <MASH@...>
>> >The very first game of telephone tag:
>> >G-d to Adam:    Don't eat the fruit of that tree.
>> >Adam to Eve:   (unrecorded)
>> >Eve to Serpent: Don't eat or touch the fruit of that tree.
>> Perhaps we have here the very first case of making a "syag laTorah"?  :-)
>This is indeed the topic of commentaries there.
>We saw a comment in the Da'at Zekeinim on Rashi about the fact that
>Chava added to God's command, and that opened up a path for the serpent
>to "seduce" both Adam and Chava.

I didn't find a corresponding Da'as Zekeinim, but Rashi says that Chava 
_added_ to G-d's command (and "added" is critical here).  I recall 
hearing (Midrash?) that it was Adam's fault, actually:  Note that G-d 
gave him the command before creating Chava, and therefore it fell to 
Adam to transmit it.  Adam, intending to keep her from sin, told her not 
to even touch it - but made the mistake of explaining this AS IF THAT 
WAS G-D'S ORIGINAL COMMAND.  The snake then fooled her by shoving her 
into the tree and saying "see, nothing happened!"  [I'm not certain what 
punishment (if any!) was to be expected for involuntary contact with the 
tree, but I'm sure the source discusses it.]

Now this is not a "syag" (fence) at all, but today would be called a 
transgression of "Bal Tosif" - not adding on to G-d's command.  The 
lesson:  making fences around the Torah is _good_ - but claiming that 
they are themselves Torah commandments is _bad_.

Yaakov Menken


From: ERWIN_KATZ_at_~<7BK-ILN-CHICAGO@...> (Erwin Katz)
Date: Thu, 15 Dec 94 15:02:05 CST
Subject: Re: Yeshiva before med school

You refer to a tshuva of Reb Moshe to his son-in-law regarding autopsies
for medical knowledge. Firstly, which of his sons-in-law are you
referring to? Secondly, are refering to the question of Tumah for a
Kohen or to the issue of "nituach mesim?" Thirdly, where did you see the
t'shuva?  There were many differences of opinion regarding nituachg
mesim. You can find a compilation of some of them in Eisensteins "Otzer
Dinim Uminhagim. Both Reb Moshe and Reb J.B. Soloveitchik refused to
permit a Kohen to be m'tameh mes. Reb Goren is rumored to have given
private heterim.  Your analogy to "being prepared" is inapposite. Are
you arguing that each one of us should be required to go to meed school
in proparation for emergencies?


End of Volume 17 Issue 28