Volume 18 Number 13
                       Produced: Thu Jan 26 10:19:37 1995

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Harold Gans]
Cohen cannot marry
         [Gilad J. Gevaryahu]
Laws on emotion
         [Micha Berger]
Lust and Planning
         [Sam Juni]
Motivation and Permitted Actions
         [Constance Stillinger]
Ramban on testing
         [Shalom Carmy]
The Young David Ben-Yishai
         [Israel Medad - Knesset]


From: <AishNY@...> (Harold Gans)
Date: Wed, 25 Jan 1995 12:10:13 -0500
Subject: Codes

This is a reply by Harold Gans of Aish HaTorah concerning questions  on the
codes research by Meylekh Viswanath:

The questioner asks: I presume that the analysis could have been conducted
without this normalization. The point is perhaps clear to a statistician but
I was not, offhand, able to think of the impact of this normalization on the
computed probability of chance occurrence. From the language of the paper, it
seemed that it was being suggested that the normalization bias the test in
favor of the null hypothesis, but I couldn't see that. For example, what is
the effect of elimination of those word pairs, for which m(w,w')<10 (appendix
A.2. in the paper)? How many such word pairs were eliminated, on average, per
perturbation? Was the pattern of elimination different for the perturbation
omega sup (0,0,0) as opposed to the other perturbations?

Response: In reply to your question concerning the normalization and its
effect, note that the final randomization has the following
implications: (a) If the proximity effect in the codes as described by
Witzdum et al. is really present, and if the final measure which is
subjected to the randomization truly measures this effect, then the
statistic obtained by the randomization should be significant. (b) If
the process used to measure the proximity effect does a poor job, then
the final statistic will not be significant even if the proximity effect
is truly present. It follows from these observations that individual
scores for each ELS pair must be combined in a meaningful way. Thus,
Witzdum et al. chose a formula (incidentally, algebraically equivalent
to the well-known Fisher's statistic) which gives an exact distribution
provided that the scores to be combined are (i) independent and (ii)
continuously and uniformly distributed on the unit interval. It is
because the scores for each ELS pair do not satisfy either (i) or (ii)
that the randomization is necessary. It is, however, still important to
approximately satisfy (ii) or the use of Fisher's statistic makes no
sense at all. The normalization does insure approximate uniformity on
the unit interval. This is the motivation.

The normalization does not bias the test in favor of the null
hypothesis; it is simply the logical thing to do. It is also criterion
(ii) above which suggests the requirement m(w,w')<10; specifically, the
score becomes "too discrete" without this condition. Very few word pairs
are eliminated by this condition; perhaps two or three per perturbation.

The questioner asks: What is the underlying theory in looking for codes
and is there anything special about the Book of Genesis or the list of
rabbis used?

This is a very reasonable question but is not mathematical in nature. My
answer will thus be an "unofficial personal opinion." Equi-spaced letter
codes are mentioned in the "Pardes Rimonim" ("Gate 30") of Rabbi Moshe
Cordovero (Ramak) who flourished in 16th century Safed. (He was the
rebbe of Rabbi Yitzchok Luria, known as the "Ari.") The Ramak says that
secrets are hidden in the Torah in this way. An example of such a code
can also be found at the beginning of Genesis in the commentary of
Rabbeinu Bachya of the 13th century. Many (nonscientific) examples were
also pointed out by Rabbi Michel Weissmandl of World War II fame. Thus,
the concept of codes in the Five Books of Moses is not at all new. There
is nothing special about Genesis in this regard, except that it is the
first book and was tried first. Serious research on the remaining four
books is planned for the future but has not yet started. There is also
no reason to think that the list of rabbis used is special in this
regard. In fact, a new scientific experiment completed by Witzdum and
using other words has been completed and has yielded a significance
level of 0.000001. We are just beginning to show these results at
Discovery Seminars and Witzdum will no doubt publish these results in
the future. The questioner also asks about other tests that have been
performed.  I have developed a slight modification to the approach of
Witzdum et al. and redone his experiments. My results fully corroborate
his published results.  In addition, I also conducted an experiment
using the combined list 1 and list 2 personality names but paired with
the names of the communities in which these rabbis were born and died
(as opposed to dates). The significance level obtained was
0.000005. These results have been documented and submitted to a journal
and are currently being reviewed for publication.


From: <Gevaryahu@...> (Gilad J. Gevaryahu)
Date: Wed, 25 Jan 1995 07:14:27 -0500
Subject: Cohen cannot marry

The Mishnah (Yevamot Chp.6) is clear that a cohen hediot (=simple) shall not
marry a zonah which is defined as someone who "niveala beilat znut". (Please
note that the Mishnah interperters such as Rashi and Bartenura do not see
this "zonah"  as "ha'ba al penuyah"). This opinion clearly parallels the one
in Yechezkel (44:22). However, this prevailing opinion of the time did not
make it to normative halacha of today. 

The Talmud, to be followed by Rambam, Shulhan Aruch, narrowed down the
occurrences of "beilat znut" to a female who had marital relations with
someone whom she is not allowed to marry, or a gentile, or a slave and only
then she is considered a zonah. But they did include the hallal, which she is
allowed to marry, but will cause her to be labled "zonah" anyway. (Sefer
Kedusha, Hilchot Isurei Biah 18:1-2, Even Ha'ezer 6:8). The Talmudic opinion
that a single man (panui) who lives with a single woman (Penuyah) makes her
into a "zonah" is that of Rabbi Elazer (Yevamot 59b). R. Akiba expressed a
similar view (ibid. 61b), and some think that R. Shimon shares also this
view. All of the above believe that this is the opinion expressed in the
Mishnah, and the view expressed in the book of Yechezkel, but it did not make
it to today's halacha with the exception of the case of hallal. Note a big
discussion by the Rishonim on this issue.

A short history is in place. The basis for these marital restrictions is
probably the occurance of prostitution in Canaanite temples (See the term
"Kedeshah" to mean "Zonah" and "Kedusha" to mean holy).  One of the MJ
readers called my attention to the fact that there is a difference between
"zonah" and "Kedeshah" for halacha. But the terms are also interchangeable
(Bereshit 38; Devarim 23). Indeed, as a priest of a religion which fought
idolatry and paganism, a cohen who worked at the Temple had to have qualities
diametrically opposed to those of the Canaanite priests, and had to be
married to someone with impeccable credentials, in this case, a virgin. That
is indeed what Yechezkel is saying. However, the Jewish religion being a
practical one, it could not impose such restrictive measures on its populace.
This is SIMILAR to "Ein gozrin gezera al hatzibur shein hatzirub yachol
la'amod bah" (=do not impose on the public a rule which the public cannot
follow); therefore, this rule became more lenient, and became what is today
the normative halacha. Semag quotes Rav Amram (Lavin 121) who thinks that the
opinion of R. Akiba was accepted for halacha, but that appears to be a
minority view. Thus the halacha did not follow the literal meaning of the
word "zonah"  i.e., a sexual relationship outside of a formal union.

Please note that Rashi in Yechezkel, attempting to reconcile the halacha of
his time and the different view expressed by Yechezkel and the Torah law,
suggests that the stringent requirement of a virgin refers only to cohen
gadol (something that is not expressed by Yechezkel), and Radak and
Abrabanel, sensing the same problem, suggest that this stringent requirement
is a futuristic one.

Gilad J. Gevaryahu


From: Micha Berger <berger@...>
Date: Thu, 26 Jan 95 08:05:33 -0500
Subject: Laws on emotion

Ezra Dabbah asks about the 10th dibrah (commandment) "lo sachmod" (don't
envy), and how can we rule on something that is "part of human nature".

Actually, we could ask the same question about the 1st commandment. How
can we be commanded to believe something? What if I really try to
believe in G-d, but this nagging doubt keeps on haunting me?

The notion of commanding us to have certain mental states can be
understood as a commandment about how to act on those states. Action and
thought make a feedback loop: I think something, therefor I act a
certain way, which in turn reinforces the thought.

Usually mitzvos are phrased in terms of the action. We try to mold
ourselves by modifying the actions we put into the feedback system.
However, in some cases it is clearer to talk about the other side of the
system, the thought.

So, to make a long story a little less long... By not acting out on
feelings of envy you can curb envy.

Micha Berger                     Help free Ron Arad, held by Syria 3022 days!
<berger@...>  212 224-4937             (16-Oct-86 - 26-Jan-95)
<aishdas@...>  201 916-0287
<a href=http://www.iia.org/~aishdas>AishDas Society's Home Page</a>


From: Sam Juni <JUNI@...>
Date: Wed, 25 Jan 95 15:37:44 EST
Subject: Lust and Planning

I was disturbed by a recent anecdote in Jerold Landau's recent post. We
find a Rosh Yeshiva expelling a student who had his girlfriend go to the

My qualms:
          1. I can think of some unmarried couples who do not avail them-
             selves of the Mikvah. They don't use the Mikvah because they
             wish to avoid publicity, not because they are more impulsive.
          2. I think the hero/educator in the anecdote betrays an elementary
             and inaccurate understanding of impulse. We have an ability
             to delay and adjust impulses even for such impulses which we
             cannot squelch in their entirety. No! Just because the couple
             had the temerity to use the Mikvah, there is no QED that they
             are not in the grips of passion. (A crass example: I have a
             friend who suffers from colon spasms, and often can be seen
             bolting to the wash-room, BUT always with the current N.Y.
             Times in tow! Yes, he can delay his needs some until he finds
             the paper, although he cannot forgo his constitutional alto-
                                                  Sam Juni


From: Constance Stillinger <cas@...>
Date: Tue, 24 Jan 1995 22:24:35 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Motivation and Permitted Actions

Micha Berger <berger@...> writes:
> ... I feel we must "publicly question the motivation of the
> Jew" when the practice seems to be at least partly based on an attempt
> to force halachah into western values. (This being, to my mind, the
> primary point of the prohibition.)
> At this point, I'm letting the subject drop. If my point hasn't been
> made after three rewordings, either I can't explain myself or the
> subject is just too emotionally loaded.

Actually your point comes through loud and clear---you wonder if women
dancing with Torah scrolls are motivated by a desire to make a feminist
point of some sort, or by some unconscious notions of sexual
egalitarianism a' la` American feminism.  In which case they should give
back the scrolls and sit down.

However I'd like to suggest a more parsimonious explanation---Torah
brings great joy to Jewish women.

Keeping clear the line between "Western values" and halachah has to
include an end to excessive invocation of those values as an explanation
for other Jews' behavior.

Dr. Constance A. (Chana) Stillinger        <cas@...>
Research Coordinator, Education Program for Gifted Youth
Stanford University      http://kanpai.stanford.edu/epgy/pamph/pamph.html


From: Shalom Carmy <carmy@...>
Date: Wed, 25 Jan 1995 01:27:55 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Ramban on testing

The correct reference to Ramban is Shemot 20:17.

The English translation of Rosenberg's *Good & Evil...* is marred by 
several typos, some of which I noted in a review (Jewish Action 1991).


From: Israel Medad - Knesset <imedad@...>
Date: Thu, 26 Jan 1995 13:41:17 +0200 (IST)
Subject: The Young David Ben-Yishai

My wife, Batya, requests help.  She studies weekly a course in Tanach by 
Rav Nisan Ben-Avraham (originally from Majorca, but that's another story).

The request is: why was young David ben-Yishai treated like a Cinderella
and that his family was shocked that Shmuel would wish to see him and
then annoint him King?  Nisan recalls a Medrash to that effect, possibly
on Tehilim 51:7 or Ruth 4:6.

The details are that as Boaz was the only one who declared that it was
only a male Moabite that was forbidden, it was he who married Ruth.
Nevertheless, there was still disagreement and the resulting descendents
were deemed *mamzerim*.  Yishai, after procreating several sons was 
convinced to take a non_jewess to "clean" the line.

He then took a *pilegesh* (concubine) but behind his back [well, not
exactly literally - YM], the wife and she switched places.  The wife
was actually pregnant and the pilegesh faked a pregnency, pillow and
all.  Since David wasn't "born Jewish", as far as Yishai knew, he
couldn't be King and was not presented to Shmuel.  The switch was
the mother's sin and so David was mistreated by his sibling elders.

Does anyone know the source of the Medrash?

 Yisrael Medad


End of Volume 18 Issue 13