Volume 20 Number 11
                       Produced: Sun Jun 18 18:39:34 1995

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Advice sought on buying 220V appliances
         [Richard Schultz]
Author, Author/Cantillation Redux.
         [Mechy Frankel]
Kaballah and halacha
         [Mordechai Perlman]
Mefarshim and Science (mail-jewish Vol. 20 #6 Digest)
         [Andrew Marc Greene]
Response to Mike Levitsky on the Scientfic Views of Early Sages
         [Stan Tenen]
Talmud and science
         [Yaacov Dovid Shulman]
Yom Tov Sheni
         [Zvi Weiss]


From: <schultz@...> (Richard Schultz)
Date: Fri, 16 Jun 1995 10:00:06 EDT
Subject: Advice sought on buying 220V appliances

In preparation for my forthcoming move to Israel, I am naturally
in the process of deciding what to take, and had a couple of questions
regarding the relative advantages of buying appliances here vs. buying
them in Israel.  First, how much more expensive are appliances there
than here (i.e. is it really worth it to spend, say $200 to ship a
refrigerator)?  Second, which appliances do people think should be 
bought in the U.S.?  Almost everyone agrees on a refrigerator and 
washing machine, but it seems to me that there is a much wider variety
of stoves available there, and air conditioner/heater units that are
designed to fit into the Israeli apartments.  My third question is about
buying stuff from the dealers here in the U.S.  Preliminary investigation
indicates that they charge roughly twice what one would expect to pay
for an equivalent 110V appliance.  To what extent (if any) can you 
bargain with these people?

You can email responses to the address below.


					Richard Schultz


From: Mechy Frankel <FRANKEL@...>
Date: Tue, 13 Jun 1995 21:17:19 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Author, Author/Cantillation Redux.

In a recent informative post on cantillation origins, Michael Linetsky
also offered a few peripheral comments which, this being a particularly
slow day, should not pass unremarked.

1. Authorship of Horayas Hakorey (HH):

The poster mentioned this important work referring to its' authorship by
Yehudah Ibn Balam. While this view maintains adherents, in particular
and more recently N. Aloni, it has also been thoroughly refuted by
I. Eldar who has provided a completely convincing demonstration of
Palestinian authorship, along with a somewhat less convincing
identification of the real author as being Abu al-Faraj Hurun, an 11th
century Karaite grammarian and Jerusalmite (to include the recent
discovery of ms of one of the shortened HH versions with the explicit
identification of Hurun on the title page). In any event, it is now
exteremely improbable that the work could have been authored by a late
Sephardi grammarian of Ibn Balaam's ilk.  see Eldar, "Toras Hakeriah
Bamikra", Ha'academiah Lalashon Haivris, 1994, pp.19-42.

2. In considering the cantillation origins, Michael stated that the HH
author "seems to attribute them to an even later origin" than Anishei
Kineses Hagidoloh. Michael may have inadvertently punched out "later"
when he meant "earlier" but this is simply incorrect as written, since
the author of HH explicitly confirms the existence of ta'amim during the
days of the (apparently early) prophets - entirely consistent by the way
with the Karaite conception that the ta'amim are part of the divine
transmission at sinai.  Though some mainstream Rabbinic tradition has it
that the torah was given at Sinai without ta'amim or nekudos,
necessitating identification of a later origin for both, there were some
authentic jewish traditions which were closer to the karaites on this
point, (as mentioned in my earlier post on trope, Vol 19 #2) e.g. the
Machzor Vitri and the Zohar.

3.  I'm afraid I don't fully agree with Michael's point of masoretic
syntax differing from "normative" syntax and that they "may not always
be used to provide the correct understanding of the passage" - though he
is not alone in differentiating between supposed syntactical units and
other masoretic -presumably semantic- units (see Yeivin, Mavoh Lamesorah
Hativernis).  It is abundantly clear that the peshat embodied in the
cantillational syntax may differ from that of many classical parshanim -
many such examples are provided in R. Shlomo Luzzato's intro to his
perush on torah, (and see also the recently published Hamikrah Bain
Ta'amim Leparshanus by S. Koghut, Magnes Press, 1995 or M. Breuer's
Taamei Hamikra, Choreiv, 1989) but this should not imply that other
formulations are more normative . After all,the masoretes predate the
rishonim, and should not be considered, a priori, to have any less grasp
on the norm for either peshat or syntax, than e.g. rashi, ramban,
(lehavdil?) Wicks or Yeivin.

4. Since Michael mentioned two of the main intrinsic trope functions,
the syntactical and musical, we should, for completeness, mention the
third, which is indication of stress locations. It is only this
important trope function which enables us to distinguish e.g. between
the different tenses and uses of "ba'ah" in Bireishis 29/6 and 29/9 or
the usage of "sho'vu" to mean either "captured' or "returned" in
Bireishis 34/29 or Yirmiyah 43/5, respectively.

5. Finally, I suspect Michael may not have been entirely serious when he
wondered about the report concerning R. Yaacov Kaminetzky (z"l)'s
ability to insert the correct cantillation into any passage by "knowing
the rules". Though it is certainly believable that he engaged in such
studies, as have many before him, since this story was reported in one
of the Art Scroll hagiogaphies of gedolim, Michael's implied skepticism
of the details is surely not misplaced - though I am still surprised
that adults should take this genre seriously. Not that I think that such
works are either "bad' or devoid of any information content. Rather, I
think that such hagiographies, "histories", and similar inspirational
literature generally are good books to give your kids to read when they
are young. Ground truth particulars (or nit-picking) can always be
caught up with later after a general weltanshaung has been formed.

Mechy Frankel                                       W: (703) 325-1277
<frankel@...>                                 H: (301) 593-3949


From: Mordechai Perlman <aw004@...>
Date: Fri, 16 Jun 1995 12:04:13 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Kaballah and halacha

     The Gra wrote that there is never any conflict between the Kaballah
and Halacha.  If a contradiction presents itself it is because the
person misunderstands the meaning of one or both of the subjects



From: Andrew Marc Greene <amgreene@...>
Date: Fri, 16 Jun 1995 10:41:35 -0400
Subject: Re: Mefarshim and Science (mail-jewish Vol. 20 #6 Digest)

In MJ 20:6, Aaron Greenberg gives a well-written and strong argument in
favor of regarding the scientific knowledge of the early commentators
and of the Talmud itself as fallable and perhaps incorrect in those
areas where the knowledge was based not directly on Torah but on 
scientific method -- either of the Rabbis, of other Jews, or even
of non-Jews.

But then he goes on to suggest some things that trouble me. For example,

>The Ramban, who refers to what he write on creation as coming from
>"hidden" knowledge, says that this initial creation was something so
>small and without physical form.  This idea that everything orginated
>from a singular point in the universe is what science calls The Big

But the "Big Bang" is still just a theory -- a popular theory, both
among scientists and the public, and quite likely a model that will
correctly explain the universe as we see it for some time, but it is not
quite established fact. (As opposed to, say, the idea of the earth's
rotation and revolution, which are established facts.) What happens in
ten centuries when someone looks back in the edited annals of
Mail-Jewish and says, "Look, the Ramban believed in the Big Bang -- how
foolish of him, since we now know that the Ploni model of virtual Fuon
universes is correct"?

I'm reminded of eighth grade "general science", in which we were taught
that a Greek philosopher named Democritus was the first person to write
about the atom as the smallest indivisible amount of something.  And of
tenth grade chemistry, in which we realized that Democritus was making a
general philosophical statement that had nothing whatsoever to do with
our current notion of 109 distinct chemical elements....

- Andrew Greene


From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Fri, 9 Jun 1995 08:26:26 -0700
Subject: Response to Mike Levitsky on the Scientfic Views of Early Sages

The spiritual/meditative model of continuous creation determined by the
sequence of letters at the beginning of B'reshit includes a feature that
has always been identified as "a flat earth plane".  This is not a myth,
it is an exact model.  But it is not a model of the physical universe or
physical creation.  That is why the concept of a flat earth was
relegated to mythology.  There is every reason to believe that this
model originated with the giving of Torah, and that it was known
throughout the Middle East, and incorporated into "pagan" kabbalahs and
Greek philosophical thought.

Our loss of this knowledge, in my opinion, severely distorts some of the
teachings of some of our greatest sages, who were undoubtedly aware of
this model.  They were neither pseudo-scientists, nor believers in Greek
or pagan mythology, nor unsophisticated.  I believe that our lack of
attention to technical subjects, our lack of connection between
technical scientific teachings and traditional Torah studies, and our
failure to teach kabbalistic subjects seriously, have allowed this less-
than-best situation to continue.

Throughout the ancient world, at least from the time of the first
Temple, educated persons, including the Sanhedrin, knew that the earth
was round, and knew its diameter.  Only persons of average or less
education confused the kabbalistic model of continuous creation in
B'reshit (intended for spiritual and meditative experience) with the
physical earth.  These relatively uneducated persons, and the
surrounding pagan populations in general, believed the earth was flat
because it seemed flat to them, and because of their misunderstanding of
higher teachings.

This is why Kuhn is likely correct.  Rashi considered THE SPIRITUAL 
MODEL OF the world to be flat, even though most persons in Europe by 
that time knew it physically was not.  

I, family, and Meru Foundation will be traveling for the next several
weeks -- we are moving to the Sharon, Massachusetts area -- so I may or
may not see any responses to this message, and I may or may not be able
to reply.  But I will try.

Anyone wishing to see references and papers on what I have described
above can email us their surface mail address, and we will send a packet
of introductory materials.

Stan Tenen

P.S.  Thanks to our friends in Atlanta for their hospitality and 
interest a few weeks ago.  


From: <YacovDovid@...> (Yaacov Dovid Shulman)
Date: Fri, 16 Jun 1995 16:12:49 -0400
Subject: Talmud and science

Just to add to the list of Rabbinic statements on science:

There is a section in the Midrash (I don't have it in front of me) where
a rabbi proved the superiority of Torah methodology over scientific
methodology.  A Roman had attempted to learn the gestation period of a
snake by putting a male and female snake in an enclosure and watching
them.  When this rabbi met the Roman, the rabbi told him, basing himself
on an interpretation of a verse in Genesis, that a snake's gestation
period is seven years.  When the Roman heard this, he moaned, "And I
wasted seven years trying to find that out!"

The trouble here is that a snake's gestation period is not even close to
seven years.  Well, you might say (I have been told), snakes had a
longer gestation period in those days; the rabbi referred to a snake
that is now extinct; scientists don't know about all snakes.  Weak

This quote shows that there was a normative view among Chazal that
knowledge of how to interpret the Torah can give direct knowledge of how
the physical world works.

This is in regard to interpretation.  This is different, it seems, from
the idea that when one knows Torah on a holy level, one attains a
supernatural ability to understand physical reality.  (An example of
that would be the Baal Shem Tov gazing into the Zohar to learn about
distant events.)

I know of one case of validated scientific prediction based on one's
knowledge of Torah.  (Again, I don't have the material before me--it
appears in Feldman's English-language volume of selected letters.)  In
one of his letters, Rav Kook comments on evolution.  The overwhelming
theory in those days was of graduated evolution.  Rav Kook said that
based on his knowledge of Kabbalah, he believed that scientists would
move on a a theory of leaps in evolution.  And indeed evolutionists
nowadays speak of "punctuated equilibrium."  Rav Kook went on to say
that this itself would be merely a step to a spreading forth of G-d's
light.  Well, I'm waiting to see that happen!  

Yaacov Dovid Shulman


From: Zvi Weiss <weissz@...>
Date: Fri, 16 Jun 1995 10:03:54 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Yom Tov Sheni

Re the fellow who feels Yom Tov Sheni need no longer be observed:
The Gemara in Beitzah (I think) has the following citation in response 
the question that in Bavel: "Anan Beki'in b'kviah Dyarchah" -- We are 
skilled in the calculation of the calendar -- so maybe we no longer have 
to observe Yom Tov Sheni.
The answer was quite clear: Shalchu Mitam -- They (the scholars in 
Israel) sent to Bavel from there (i.e., from Israel): Hizahary B'minhag 
Avoteichem -- Be careful to keep the customs of your fathers (And 
*continue* to observe Yom Tov Sheni) -- "Shema Yachzor Hadavar L'kilkulo" 
-- lest the situation ever deteriorate again in the future...
There is no statement in this answer that allows one to posit that under 
"some circumstance" one is allowed to disregard this ruling.



End of Volume 20 Issue 11