Volume 23 Number 07
                       Produced: Wed Jan 31 21:35:20 1996

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Binyameen vs. Binyamin
         [David Hollander]
G_d's Omnicience vs. Free Will (2)
         [Aaron H. Greenberg, Elozor Preil]
Kushner's Arguments
         [Ralph Zwier]
Kushner, Rambam, etc.
         [Alan Zaitchik]
Passing of Dr Israel Eldad
         [Israel Medad]
The nature of God, and free will
         [Robert Kaiser]
Why Bad Things Happen
         [Lawrence Feldman]


From: <David_Hollander@...> (David Hollander)
Date: Wed, 31 Jan 96 15:40:26 EST
Subject: Binyameen vs. Binyamin

   In the thread of how Yosaif would know if his brothers really brought
Binyamin, I was intrigued by the spelling Binyameen by some MJers.  I
assume that Binyameen would be spelled with a cheerik malay (with a yud)
before the final nun, and Binyamin is spelled with a chireek chaser (no
   Since the Torah spells Binyamin both ways in different places, when I
named my son, I asked my Rav for the proper spelling of his name.  He
told me it is determined by the majority of times of the Torah's
spelling.  He looked into it and told me the proper spelling today is
Binyamin without a yud preceding the final nun.
   I certainly agree that when reading the Torah, if that instance of
the name has a yud it should be read Binyameen.


From: Aaron H. Greenberg <greenbah@...>
Date: Sat, 27 Jan 1996 19:19:25 -0500 (EST)
Subject: G_d's Omnicience vs. Free Will

> From: Bennett Ruda <bruda@...>
> Whenever I hear people discuss the apparent paradox of how G_d can be
> omnicient yet we have free will, I think about the explanation that I
> heard Rabbi Aaron Rakefet give when I was in the Kollel in BMT. Just
> look at the 1986 World Series. We can rent a video tape and watch how in
> the 6th Game, in the 9th inning, Mookie Wilson's single dribbles past
> Bill Buckner at first. We rewind the tape and watch it over and
> over...knowing (omniciently?) exactly what will happen. Yet this
> knowledge in no way interferes or affects the outcome -- Bill Buckner
> will never get Mookie out.  Is it not possible to imagine then that
> HaShem too could be equally aware of exactly what will happen without
> that knowledge affecting what we do.

This not a logical analogy.  The 1986 World Series is in the past, we
could not possibly have know it was going to happen in advance, if we
knew in advance then we could have affected the outcome.  This does not
answer the parodox in the least.

Question: Why do we insist on having a paradox?  God's omnicience of the
present is part of our thirteen principles of faith, but our future
thoughts and actions aren't necessarily included.  Can God create a
world with beings that he cannot know with 100% accuracy what they will
do next despite the fact that he has complete knowledge of the current
state of the system?  Why not?

From: <EMPreil@...> (Elozor Preil)
Date: Sat, 27 Jan 1996 22:27:01 -0500
Subject: G_d's Omnicience vs. Free Will

Please permit me to add what I believe is the key to understanding this
Mashal (parable).  We are all familiar with the concept that Hashem is
"everywhere" - i.e., He is not bound by space.  It is equally axiomatic
that Hashem, the Creator of Time as well as Space, is not bound or
limited within Time - He is outside of Time, looking in.  All Time is
open before Him at once, like pages of a calendar.  Thus, just as our
watching the tape with our "fore-knowledge" of Buckner's error had no
effect on his free choice in making (or in his case, fumbling) the play,
so Hashem knows "in advance" everything we will CHOOSE to do of our own
free will - because for Him, it is like watching the tape of what
already happened, since He is above Time.  I hope I have been clear.

Elozor Preil


From: Ralph Zwier <zwierr@...>
Date: Sat, 27 Jan 1996 21:36:43 +0000
Subject: Re: Kushner's Arguments

I must say that at the outset that I have not read Kushner's book, nor
is this post an effort to defend Kushner's book. However some of the
criticism of the Kushner book does not logically follow from the
arguments presented:

From: Bennett Ruda <bruda@...>

.... We rewind the tape and watch it over and over...knowing
(omnisciently?) exactly what will happen. Yet this knowledge in no
way interferes with or affects the outcome...

The argument above is the classical example of the resolution between
All-knowing and Free Will. The most important aspect of the case is the
last part of the statement, which is that the viewer "in no way
interferes with the outcome". Since the viewer does not affect the
outcome, the viewer did not cause the outcome. This analogy works well,
especially when we take into account that G-d is outside of time and He
doesn't have to see events as flowing from earlier to later.

Now if you take the following argument:
From: <olesker@...> (David Olesker)
3) Hence, in the act of creation, He would have understood that His
actions would inevitably have lead to the creation of a San Andreas
fault, and inevitably to the San Francisco earthquakes.

4) Hence God _is_ responsible for loss of life ...

I cannot see that Point 4) follows from Point 3). G-d KNOWS that the
loss of life will occur, but please remove the word "inevitably" from
the post, since Man has free will, and any particular person makes
choices about where he/she will be at any particular moment. So while
Hashem knows that Ploiny will be there, He did not (necessarily) put
Ploiny there. G-d no more "caused" the person to be at the location of
the disaster than the viewer in the previous example "caused" the video
replay to have its particular outcome.

An additional Torah point of relevance to these philosophical conundrums
which I think I remember from my learning on these matters (let me know
if I am incorrect), is that G-d restricts His Power, as it were, in
order to allow for Free Will to occur. Therefore even though G-d
==could== certainly force someone to commit a murder, in practice in
this world He never does. The person does so R"L of his own free will.

As I said earlier I havent read the book in question, but my feeling
from the postings which I =have= read is that Kushner is distorting
authentic Jewish teaching in a dangerous way, but not as clearly as to
totally ignore or deny or contradict any fundamental Torah principle.

Ralph Zwier                        Voice    61 3 9521 2188
Double Z Computer                    Fax    61 3 9521 3945


From: Alan Zaitchik <ZAITCHIK@...>
Date: Fri, 26 Jan 1996 07:52:48 +0000 (MULTINET_TIMEZONE)
Subject: Kushner, Rambam, etc.

David Olesker writes 

> (The following four premises are all basic assumptions about the nature
>of God.  They are common to all monotheists, but if you want Torah
>sources for them then I would recommend the first chapters of the
>"Handbook of Jewish Thought" by Aryeh Kaplan.)
> 1) Unity
> God is a perfect unity, ie He is perfectly simple, incapable of
>division into parts or functions.
> 2) Omnipotence
> God is capable of all things, and any limitation on His capabilities is
> 3) Omniscience
> God's knowledge is coexistant with, and indistinguishable from, His
>self.  Therefore it is limitless and and perfect.
> 4) Timelessness
> God exists without the confines of time as we know it. From His
>perspective, past, present, and future are equally knowable, equally

I in fact think that these are metaphysical statements which one can
believe to be true, believe to be false, believe to be unknowable, or
even believe to be in some sense meaningless (my own viewpoint today,
right now), without compromising one's status as a person who believes
in God or even as a Jew who believes in Hashem.

Yes, I too sing "Yigdal". And I recite K'gavna as well. That doesn't
mean I assert either as metaphysics. The book of Job is not "good
philosophy" and still it has profound and deeply moving passages. Maybe
Kushner's book should be taken as another (albeit lesser) effort in that



From: Israel Medad <imedad@...>
Subject: Passing of Dr Israel Eldad

On Aleph Shvat, Dr. Israel Eldad died and was buried in Jerusalem..
Although not a fully observant Jew, his classic, "Hegyonot Mikra",
on the weekly portions of the Chumash, was very highly considered.
(My instructor in Chumash at TIM at YU in 1964 was amazed to find out 
that Eldad wasn't a Rabbi - with a beard!)..  Two other of his works
in English was a pamphlet "Israel the full road to Redemption" and
"The Jewish Revolution"..

He was a leader of the Lechi Underground and later, after 1967, a founder 
of the Whole Land of Israel Movement.  He was a prolific publicist in 
Israeli newspapers and an admired lecturer.  He was in his 86th year..
Yihi zichro baruch..

Yisrael Medad


From: <KAISER@...> (Robert Kaiser)
Date: Fri, 26 Jan 1996 19:51:01 -0500 (EST)
Subject: The nature of God, and free will

	David Olesker wrote a refutation of Rabbi Kushner's theology,
attempting to show that Kushner was logically wrong.  However David was
assuming that Rabbi Kushner started off with the exact same premises,
which isn't true.  Obviously David is correct if you accept his
premises, but I do not believe that Rabbi Kushner did so.

 1) Unity:  God is a perfect unity, ie He is perfectly simple, incapable 
of division into parts or functions.

	I think Kushner would agree with this.

2) Omnipotence:  God is capable of all things, and any limitation on
His capabilities is impossible.

	This ones gets tricky.  For one, God can not do all things.  For
instance, God cannot make an object so heavy that he can't lift it.  He
can't make one equal two, and so on.  All these things are logical
definitions, and so provide (reasonable) constraints.  A further
limitation is that once God sets up the universe, he would be
constrained to let it run totally on its own unles he wanted to
constantly interfere.  Even more constraints can be demonstrated.  This
is actually an important realization.  None of us really know enough
about the universe and the nature of free will, so for all we know,
perhaps free will also falls into this category!  In this case, Kushner
would be correct.  So although Mr.  Olesker and R. Kushner might both
accept this premise, it may mean very different things for them.

	I know that it is hard for me to worship a God that deliberately
set up the Holocaust, and burned all those innocent men, women, and
children to death.  Although this might be acceptable as normative
theology, it sounds horrible to me.  However, I do not worship such a
God.  In my own personal theology, I really do not believe that God did
this to us.  Perhaps that puts me outside of normative theology, but
does that have to be so?

	We believe that God *can* do ANYthing.  Why do we have to
believe that God *does* EVERYthing?  One does not logically follow from
the other, and I propose that pointing this out need not be considered

 3) Omniscience:  God's knowledge is coexistant with, and indistinguishable
 from, His self.  Therefore it is limitless and and perfect.

	Very few people would argue with this, but then again, what
exactly does it mean?  It is easy to say that God knows more than
anybody, and we can also say that God knows all that can be known.  Is
this statement synonomous with the above premise?  If not, what would
the difference be?

Robert Kaiser


From: Lawrence Feldman <larryf@...>
Date: Sat, 27 Jan 96 22:08:03 PST
Subject: RE: Why Bad Things Happen

Miriam Adahan's book *It's All a Gift* (Feldheim Publishers) deals with
the general question of applying Torah even in difficult or painful
situations, including losses that are seemingly absurd, meaningless, or
unfair. Ms.  Adahan is the founder of EMETT - Emotional Maturity
Established Through Torah, and has written several books on integrating
EMETT principles in interpersonal relationships and raising chilren.



End of Volume 23 Issue 7