Volume 17 Number 32
                       Produced: Sun Dec 18 10:58:19 1994

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Ari Shapiro]
         [Josh Cappell]
         [Robert Rubinoff]
RAMBAM and the value of PI
         [Stan Tenen]
The Army -- and other stuff
         [Zvi Weiss]
The secret value of PI
         ["Chaim.Stern"    ]


From: <m-as4153@...> (Ari Shapiro)
Date: Sat, 17 Dec 94 21:25:29 -0500
Subject: Army

<   This brings us back to the original thesis; namely that one who is
<engaged full time in Torah study is exempt even from the Mizwa of saving
<lives in a Milhemet Mizwa, as long as there are others available to
<perform the duty.

Actually you could argue the reverse.  In Parsha Shoftim the Torah gives
an exemption to someone who is 'Yare v'rach levav' (literally: afraid).
The sifri has one opinion (quoted in Sota also) that this is someone
afraid because of his aveiros.  What aveiros? The commentaries say even
the aveira of talking between Yishtabach and Yotzer .  We see from here
that the Tzadikkim were the ones who went to war, the BNEI TORAH, those
people who were not afraid because of their aveiros.  Those people who
had aveiros went home.  Now you suggest we do the opposite let the Bnei
Torah sit home and send out the non-frum to fight.  It seems clear that
the torah viewed war as a time when morality could break down.  Rashi
comments at the beginning of Ki Tetze that the whole din of Y'fas
Toar(woman captured during battle literally: beautiful woman) is to
combat the yetzer hara, if the torah did not allow it he would do it
anyway.  Therefore the TZADIKKIM should go out to war because they are
best equipped to handle the situation.  The same rationale would apply
today to the Bnei Torah.

Ari Shapiro


From: <josh@...> (Josh Cappell)
Date: Wed, 14 Dec 94 15:52:50 EST
Subject: PI

That the misinterpretation of Tanach's value is still repeated is simply
amazing since the proper explanation has been known for a long time.
When the Navi gives the diameter of 10 it is referring to the outer
diameter (i.e the distance from the center to the outer wall of the
pool).  The circumference of 30 refers to the inner circumference of the
wall of the pool.  As the pool had some thickness (10-(30/(2xPI))) the
two circumferecnces were not equal.  In fact the ancient Egyptians
before the time of Shlomo knew PI to at least five decimal places (from
an article in The Sciences 10 years ago, which curiously gave the same
wrong interpretation of Tanach).
	On a related note there is a Tosefos (In K'suvos, if I remember
correctly) which gives a proof that PI in the calculation of
circumference and PI for the calculation of a circle's area are the same
number.  The proof is essentially what we would now call by integration
(though by a specific use of the idea rather than a general procedure as
developed in calculus).
						Josh Cappell


From: <Robert_Rubinoff@...> (Robert Rubinoff)
Date: Fri, 16 Dec 94 14:07:07 EST
Subject: Re: Pronounciation

> >From: Aleeza Esther Berger <aeb21@...>

> How to emphasize the consonantal value of "mapik-heh" when there is no 
> vowel under the heh, and no convenient syllable preceding?  For example, 
> 2 weeks ago in the parasha, there was the word "almenutah" - which I 
> would pronounce by sort of placing the vowel from the "t"(tav) under the 
> last heh, and pronouncing  the last syllable as if there were an aleph 
> with a patah under it before the heh .  But what about a short word like 
> "lah"? If you follow this procedure the word sounds like it has 2 
> syllables.  sorry Drs. Bernstein, Steiner etc.  for the non-technical 
> language.  It's been a while since my Biblical Hebrew course.

My understanding is that a heh with a mappik is *always* pronounced as
an "aspirated h", i.e. (roughly) by making an "h" sound with no (or as
little as possible) following vowel.  So "almenutah" and "lah" both end
in an "a" sound ending in an "h" sound (sort of a final puff of air).
The only vowel that can occur under a heh-mappik is a patah, and it is
pronounced *before* the "h" sound, just as a patah under final het (or
ayin, but most people don't pronounce the ayin anyway).  Prounouncing
"almenutah" as "almenutaha" (which I *think* is what Aleeza means) is
wrong.  Similarly, the person who lifts the Torah is the "magbiah", not
the "magbiha".  (Oddly enough, the feminine form of "magbiah" *is*
"magbihah", although I suspect that's academic to most readers of this

The same sound is at the end of the Arabic word for God: "Allah" (which
is actually elision of "al" ("the", I believe cognate to Hebrew "aleh",
"these") and "Alah" (the Arabic cognate of Hebrew "Eloah").



From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Wed, 14 Dec 1994 19:52:58 -0800
Subject: RAMBAM and the value of PI

Abe Lebowitz' posting on Pi is an excellent summary of the traditional 
explanations about Torah's _apparent_ "error" or "approximation" of the 
true value of Pi.  My research suggests that these explanations may be 
gratuitous.  The problem lies with the word "tefach."  We naturally assume 
that a tefach is a normal linear measure like those we now universally use 
for secular and mechanical purposes.  This seems to be the right context 
and so it is not questioned.  However, tefach, Tet-Peh-cHet, does NOT refer 
to a linear measure at all.  It is a HAND'S-"breadth."  We think a "hands-
breadth" is nothing more than a measure derived from some imperial king's 
hand - as has been taught with regard to English measures.  In Torah, this 
is not so.  The "HAND" is a representation of Hashem's metaphoric "Hand," 
and the "breadth" is a reference to the Ain Sof from which Hashem's "Hand" 
is defined geometrically.  It is a round/spherical/hyperspherical measure, 
and not a linear measure.  All the letters of tefach refer to 
"round/around/surround"  The Tet represents "binding" (like that of a 
constricting "snake", the traditional meaning of Tet); the Peh represents 
swallowing a volume (like a "mouth", the traditional meaning of Peh); the 
cHet represents a surrounded surface (like a "fenced field", its 
traditional meaning) or a "perimeter" (also cHet's traditional meaning.)  
These are all CIRCULAR measures.  "Pi" _can_ be understood as rational when 
properly defined and measured circularly.  (Pi is always irrational when 
measured and defined linearly.)
    I believe that in Torah it is not what we call Pi that is being 
referred to, and it is not intended to apply to the real world.  
Spiritually, the "round" vessel is Ain Sof, modeled, I believe, by the 
geometry of "continuous creation" defined in B'reshit.  This model has 3-
windings/lobes/ears and it defines exactly 6-Tefillin strap model Hands.  I 
believe that we do not need to apologize for Torah's apparent "error" or 
"approximation", because I believe the teaching we now interpret as 
implying Pi equals 3, actually applies to the 3-lobes of the family of 3,X 
Torus knots that B'reshit (understood at the letter level) defines as an 
archetypal living system.  Also, the exact "breadth" of the hand model is 
3-pi radians - i.e., it has exactly 1 1/2 turns.  The hand can be 
identified with a "hyper-radius" of a hypersphere.  In this case, the 3:1 
ratio, and not the pi ratio, applies.  
    - Note: There is much more to this than I can easily post. I believe 
that Pi and Torah are directly related and I believe that our sages knew 
this - but that is much too much to try to squeeze into ordinary language 
    This is an example of two things.
    1. We do not need to apologize for Torah teachings when we know their 
true context. - And we should not presume that the context is physical or 
similar to non-Jewish definitions (like common definitions of Pi.)
    2. That some ideas CANNOT be understood in words alone.  Can those 
reading this who have not seen my illustrations understand what I have 
tried to say?  Likely even most who have seen my drawings are confused by 
what I have written above.  Literalism has its limitations.  Sometimes 
formal, non-literal, non-phonetic, languages are _required_ for 


From: Zvi Weiss <weissz@...>
Date: Thu, 15 Dec 1994 08:55:31 -0500
Subject: The Army -- and other stuff

I note that there is a convergence of opinion in terms of some of the
practical aspects of Army service.  However, a few other items seem to
have sprouted.

1. Of course, I am aware of the organizations such as 'Arachin...  My
  point, though is that the SECULAR world tends to regard such groups as
  little more than missionary groups or "morale-builders" like the USO
  (in the case of the CHABAD Mitzva Tanks...).  Unless the Chareidi
  world demonstrates concern for the rest of Israeli society in a manner
  that the Secular Sector can understand, they will continue to be
  regarded as "parasites".  In "frum" terms, this can be described as
  "Noseh B'Ol" -- participating in the [common] burden.  The burden that
  the rest of Israeli society shoulders is that of defense against
  Terrorists and Murderers.  A TRULY dedicated Talmid Chacham who sits
  and learns -- and ALSO demonstrates visible gratitude for the
  sacrifices of the soldiers can ALSO be considered to be Noseh B'Ol --
  in his own way.  Participating in the Police/Civil Defense functions
  is ALSO noseh B'Ol -- especially if such assignments are some distance
  from one's own home and there is the bother of a commute...
  Institutions such as 'Arachin DO show concern -- but only form OUR
  perspective.  As such, I would say that this is NOT "Noseh B'Ol".
2. The fact that a person may become better motivated at a later date
  does not appear to qualify him as a "Talmid Chacham" and I would like
  to know the Halachic basis for exempting a person who is NOT a Talmid
  Chacham.  I cited the Rambam from Shemitta because I have seen that
  citation used as a basis for the exemption of B'nei Yeshiva.
3. Now, we get to the crux.  Obviously, if one feels that the State is
  truly not legitimate, then there arises a MAJOR problem in terms of
  service in conjunction with ANY state institution.  Thus, we see the
  reluctance to pray for the welfare of the State -- and even to pray
  for the welfare of Jewish Soldiers because that may be "misconstrued"
  as some sort of support for the State.  This is the real area of
  resentment.  Does anyone think that the Secular world is unaware of
  the ambivalence that the Chareidi World has to- ward the State?  I see
  no dilemma at all.  There is a simple matter of Hkarat Hatov -- which
  B'mchilat Kvodam the "leadership" of the Chareidi World seems to have
  utterly discarded.  There is the simple matter that we KNOW what Chas
  V'shalom the Arab World would do to Jews were it not for Jewish
  soldiers laying their lives on the line.  As I pointed out in an
  earlier posting, the prior Rosh Yeshiva of Ponevizh (Rav Kahanaman
  ZT"L) apparently had no problem with Israeli flags flying around the
  Yeshiva in the 50's.  It is this hardening on BOTH sides that is so
  terrible and I see NO action on the part of the Chareidi to mitigate
  the matter.  Thus, there is only a dilemma if one wishes to be
  ungrateful and uncaring.  For anyone who truly appreciates the aid
  that a "secular" government provides Yeshivot and for anyone who
  appreciates that ALL Jews are defended by the State, the issue of
  "status" does not seem to be a problem.
4. I do not care if most Chareidi students stay in for life as long as
  they are really learning.
5. I agree that perhaps G-d wants to provide the secular sector with the
  Mitzva of supporting the religious sector BUT the religious sector
  should -- therefore -- be much more grateful and open with the
  secular.  You cannot have it both ways.  If you want to despise the
  secular politics and machinations, then go right ahead but do not
  expect them to support you with "glowing face and cheerful heart".



From: "Chaim.Stern"     <PYPCHS%<EZMAIL@...>
Date: Thu 15 Dec 1994 12:10 ET
Subject: The secret value of PI

   In Mail-Jewish Vol. 16 No. 59, Jonathan Rogawski wrote:

   >The speaker, a prominent physicist (I don't know if he is Jewish or
   >not), wanted to emphasize how a group of physicists early in the
   >century had proposed some erroneous ideas, so he referred to their
   >theories as Biblical theories".  To emphasize his point, he went so
   >far as to show a slide of the Hebrew text in the Book of Kings in
   >Hebrew (ch. 7, verse 23: (Solomon's building of the pool) which
   >seems to indicate that the the value of PI is 3 (instead of

Actually, you can see here the hidden wisdom in the Torah.  The literal
translation is that the diameter was 10 and the circumference was 30 (an
exact ratio of 3).  But the word used for the circumference is spelled
"Kava" (kuf, vuv, hey) and, as noted in all texts, has a different
pronunciation ("Kav" - kuf, vuv). This is known as a "Kri U'ksiv", a
place where the reading and writing of a word differ, sometimes because
of a mystical reason. If you take the numerical values of these two
different spellings ("Gematriah"), you get 111 and 106.  Using the value
of PI to six significant figures (which was not yet known by the math
world when this verse was written), we get:

       ( 111 / 106 ) = ( 3.14159 / 3 )

meaning: the difference between these spellings is the same difference
between the actual value of "PI" and the "3" ratio used in the verse.
Heard this years ago, but I forgot who discovered this.

Chaim Stern

[For those interested, there is an article in the archives on this
topic. The only catch (for many of us) is that it is in LaTex format. If
you have access to something that will interpret LaTex, you can pick up
the file: pi.latex in the Special_Topics directory under
mail-jewish. I'm not 100% sure if this is listed in the email archives,
but I'll check later. If you do not read this until Monday (US time for
those of you in Australia, it gets to be Monday for you before I might
get things done here on Sunday), then it will be available be email
request as well. Mod.]


End of Volume 17 Issue 32