Volume 23 Number 43
                       Produced: Thu Mar 14 22:20:04 1996

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Free Will
         [Stan Tenen]
Free Will and G-d's Knowledge of the Future
         [David Glasner]
Free Will and Many Worlds
         [David Riceman]
Free Will Paradox
         [Al Sporer]
Music in Yerushalayim
         [Carl & Adina Sherer]
Non Music
         [Danny Skaist]
Starbucks coffee
         [Annice Grinberg]
The Number 40
         [Seth Magot]


From: Stan Tenen <meru1@...>
Date: Wed, 13 Mar 1996 16:58:35 -0800
Subject: Re: Free Will

I would like to thank David Charlap for his clarifications, comments and
additions to my posting on the "multiple universes" theory as it applies
to free will.

I would also like to thank all of those who have emailed comments.  It
is interesting to note that about half thought my posting was unclear
while the other half thought it was clear.

Now that the basic model has been presented, it makes sense to see if it
has any features that might especially recommend it for consideration by
Torah Jews.  I believe that the multiple worlds model is very important
because it provides a means of understanding why adherence to halacha
and mitzvot is so important.

I strongly doubt that anyone who is not a tzaddik or a prophet (or on an
equivalent level) could possibly make the choice of which world they
find their consciousness in - consciously.  That means that we are
always continuously choosing which of the infinite number of possible
worlds we find our consciousness in by the way we lead our everyday
lives, and the everyday choices we make.  This is because the things we
do and experience have a strong influence on how we perceive the world
and on what we (deeply, subconsciously) believe about the world.

Since few of those on this list are likely to be tzaddikim or prophets, 
we usually cannot see how each of the infinity of our live's small 
choices ultimately affect our core beliefs.  

Core beliefs are those beliefs that set the context for how we view 
reality.  They evolve throughout life based on our on-going experiences.  
Our experiences are based, in part, on our choices, which are based, in 
part, on our core beliefs.  Clearly a person who has been abused as a 
child, and who consequently makes decisions based on that past 
experience, has some very different core beliefs than a child who was 
raised in a secure and trusting environment.

This is why we have halacha and mitzvot.  Torah is a "tree of life for 
those who grasp it" because it sets out a set of behaviors that lead to 
core beliefs that lead to our staying in a healthy living universe.  
Except for a Dalai Lama (or the Jewish equivalent) who may be born with 
a partial memory of their past life's experiences, we could not know 
where the safe boundaries are before we start to lay down experiences if 
it were not for halacha and mitzvot.  (Other healthy cultures have 
equivalent standards that accomplish the same thing.  These are the 
Noachite laws.)

An infinite number of universes with an infinite number of ourselves 
come into existence at each point of decision.  HaShem knows all of the 
possibilities in all of them.  We find ourselves in a universe 
consistent with an integration of all of our choices, and this universe 
appears to us to be a universe of blessing or a universe of curse 
depending on our core beliefs which are dependent on our choices.  - Of 
course, our choices are almost always hopelessly entangled with "good" 
and "bad" when we make them without guidelines.

When more carefully stated, I believe that this viewpoint resolves the 
conflict that some Torah scholars and kabbalists see between HaShem 
knowing what we will do before we do it and our still having to pay the 
consequences of our "free will" choices.  Some (including my rebbe on 
this matter with whom I have been debated the issue for several years) 
ask, how can HaShem be so unjust as to punish us for what He already 
knows we will do?

The answer is now simple (smile).  HaShem, in withdrawing His will from 
the "vacated space" during Tzimtzum, is ultimately yielding to us our 
"free will" to "grasp a tree of life" by which we can live.

Thus, our system of halacha and mitzvot constitutes a true science of 
consciousness by every accepted meaning of those words.  It is a science 
because it is objectively true, repeatable, and demonstrable. (...when 
we understand it properly.) It is spiritually sound because it is 
halacha and mitzvot that we are discussing.

I believe that the kabbalists have been trying to preserve an 
understanding of this science of consciousness in Torah and Torah 
Judaism.  Many of the extraordinary parallels between modern scientific 
findings and kabbalistic teachings, although overly enthusiastically 
promoted in a sloppy new-age way these days, are real.  

Science and Torah, belief and reason, mind and body - and in a more 
profound sense -  HaShem ("and") Elokim are Echod.  Anything else, in my 
opinion, is not fully consistent with Torah Judaism as our sages 
understood and practiced it. If the Haskalah which drove science and 
Torah apart still sways some to believe that Torah and science must be 
separate, then I ask them to consider which world they are choosing to 
live in. 

HaShem has offered us the free will choice to pursue these matters or to 
allow them to languish.  

Which reality does each of us _want_ to live in?  
Do we want Judaism to continue to appear to be only a matter of magical 
belief that is easily dismissed as mythology, tradition, and 
superstition (or worse) by others?  

Do we want to regain a fuller understanding of our science of 
consciousness so that we can return to the levels of understanding of 
our sages?



From: David Glasner <DGLASNER@...>
Date: Thu, 14 Mar 1996 18:57:00 -0500
Subject: Free Will and G-d's Knowledge of the Future

There have been a number of postings recently concerning the apparent
contradiction between our free will and G-d's knowledge of the future.
This is an old problem, but many modern philosophers no longer believe
that there is any contradiction.  The key point is that there is a
distinction between possible worlds and the actual future world.  Before
I sat down to type this message, there were at least two possible words:
one in which I would write this message and one in which I would not.
When I began to type it, one of the two possible worlds became the
actual world.  On the other hand, certain conceivable worlds are not
possible.  It is conceivable that the law of gravity would imply that
objects would fall upwards instead of downwards.  But it is not
possible.  So there is no possible world in which objects fall up
instead of down.  Now if all my mental processes and decisions were
physically determined in the way that gravity determines the motion of a
falling body, as strict materialists actually believe, then the world in
which I would not have typed this message would have been a conceivable
but impossible world.  My free will implies, contrary to the materialist
belief, that both worlds were possible, even though only one was the
actual world.  G-d's knowledge of the future means that He foresaw which
possible world was going to become the actual world.  There is,
therefore, no logical contradiction between free will and omniscience.
I think everyone has probably had the experience of anticipating what
someone else was going to say or do what choice he would make.  Being
able to anticipate that choice in no way impinged on the free will of
the other person.  What people find difficult to accept about G-d's
omniscience is ultimately not, I think, that it infringes on free will,
just the enormity of the power implied by omniscience.


From: <dr@...> (David Riceman)
Date: Wed, 13 Mar 1996 08:41:59 +0500
Subject: Free Will and Many Worlds

Yes, there is a basic problem with that attempted resolution.  We
believe that God directs individual lives (hashgacha pratis) and history
in general to the ends He thinks are appropriate.  The many worlds
interpretation of quantum mechanics says that every possible event
occurs, and there's no privileged world, so it denies that.  Even
ignoring the free will issue (what's the point of having mitzsvos and
aveiros when we'll always make both choices?) that makes a hash of a
substantial percentage of Judaism.

David Riceman


From: <AlfredS151@...> (Al Sporer)
Date: Wed, 13 Mar 1996 23:46:03 -0500
Subject: Free Will Paradox

In a message dated 96-03-13 03:57:28 EST, Stan Tenen wrote:
>I would like to suggest a "simple" solution to the free will problem.

In his post he developed a science fiction hypothesis to resolve the
so-called "free will paradox". Rather than invoking some science fiction
solution to the so-called "free will paradox" let me suggest that the
so-called "free will paradox" arises only if you assume that you are
"outside" God's universe. In other words that you are somehow separate
from God. If, however, you assume that there is a spark of Godliness in
you, that is, that you yourself are part of God then your existensial
free will decision is the Godly spark acting in you. At one and the same
time that part of God within you is free to make a decision and act upon
it and the God within you is aware of your decision making
process. Thus, by definition God is omniscient because each human being
performing an existential act is doing his part in the Godly process.

In this view a problem arises only if you assume that an omniscient God
also can "predict the future". The Torah is ambiguous regarding the
assumption that an omniscient and omnipotent eternal God can also "see
the future".  Consider, for example, In Bereshit (6:7)God decides to
destroy Noah's world which God created (ki nichamti ki assitem) because
God is sorry that s/he created them. If God could have seen the future
of Noah's world s/he would not have created it in the first place. Or
consider Shemot (32:9-14) God is incensed at the people for worshipping
the egel hazahav and is prepared to kill the Israelites except that
Moses intercedes and God changes his/her mind. If God could foresee the
future would s/he not have been able to forestall this event??

Al Sporer<alfreds151@...>


From: Carl & Adina Sherer <sherer@...>
Date: Mon, 19 Feb 1996 07:29:14 +0200
Subject: Music in Yerushalayim

Gershon Dubin writes:

>> From: Elchanan Shor <yu141869@...>
>> I remember being in a "Yerushalmi" wedding in Jerusalem where there
>> was no orchestra, just drums to accompany the dancing. If I'm not
>> mistaken, this Minhag derives from the prohibition against instrumental
>> music. 
>      My sources indicate that this is specifically a Yerushalmi takono
>(enactment of the rabbis) of several generations ago.  Opinions differ
>as to the source, whether it is in fact due to mourning over the Bais
>Hamikdosh or a limitation on spending.  It isn't that old, and it does
>not extend to any other city.  This is not to deny that there is reason
>to follow the strict interpretation that listening to music is totally
>forbidden outside of a mitzva situation; some people do conduct
>themselves that way; most don't.

I have been at many weddings in Yerushalayim at which the entertainment is a
"one man band" (one person may play a keyboard, drums and sing all at once)
for precisely this reason.  My understanding is that the takono applies only
within the city itself (and there is some doubt as to how far the city
extends for these purposes - one of the most popular spots for weddings here
is Moshav Ora which is on the way to Hadassa Ein Karem and is considered
"safe" for having music), only to multi-member bands and only to personal
smachot (celebrations).  Thus during Succos, *all* of the Simchos Beis
HaShoeva (Celebrations of Water Drawing - so-called after the celebrations
of the same name in the Temple) have full bands no matter where in the city
they are located.

-- Carl Sherer
Carl and Adina Sherer


From: DANNY%<ILNCRD@...> (Danny Skaist)
Date: Tue, 20 Feb 96 12:09 IST
Subject: Non Music

I had never heard of the minhag not to play musical instruments at a
wedding because of Hurban Bait until it was mentioned on this list

I have just attended a Bresliver wedding in Jerusalem without "music".
Two singers accompanied by a set of drums.  It was the most beautifull
"music" that I have ever heard at a wedding.  At the meal we heard
really heartwarming nigunim instead of the normal music, I noticed
others listening and tapping to the slow music.

The dancing music was, of course, too loud, the amplifiers looked as if
they could play to the hollywood bowl and not a wedding hall.  In short
there was no absence of music as I had anticipated.



From: Annice Grinberg <VSANNICE@...>
Date: Thu, 14 Mar 96 08:53:01 +0200
Subject: Re: Starbucks coffee

Arielle said:
> (stuff deleted)  I
>don't think those syrups have hashgacha and they would of course render
>the coffe treif.  Someone would have to contact OU directly for the
>whole story.

Just because something does not have a hashgacha does not mean it is
treif.  It MAY be treif.  We don't know.

[Good Point! Mod.]



From: <magot@...> (Seth Magot)
Date: Thu, 14 Mar 1996 08:52:18 -0500 (EST)
Subject: The Number 40

	The article that I had quoted from memory (always a dangerous) 
thing is: "The Number 40 In The Bible" by Aron Pinker;  it was published 
in the Jewish Bible Quarterly, volume 22, issue number 3, July 1994.  The 
article starts on page 163 and ends on 172.  Within the article he quotes 
the Midrash Bereshith Rabba where he notes about breaking up Moses' life 
into 3 groups of 40, as is Rabban Johanan's and R. Akiba's.

Seth Magot


End of Volume 23 Issue 43