Volume 23 Number 58
                       Produced: Wed Mar 27  6:15:17 1996

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

God running the show...
         [Jay Bailey]
Please help me out
         [Ed G.]
Psalm 97
         [David Charlap]
Slit Skirts and Makeup
         [Yisroel Rotman]
Temple Menorah
         [Yisrael Medad]


From: <jaydena@...> (Jay Bailey)
Date: Sat, 23 Mar 96 13:50:07 PST
Subject: God running the show...

After a month-long m-j haitus from the topic, Harry Mehlman brings up my
last post in which I claimed that Rambam does in fact lean toward God
*not* having an active hand (as it were) in every single event in the
world. I brought down Sh'mona P'rakim, VIII in which Rambam posits that
when gravity works, when wind blows etc., it is not a direct "command"
of God, but rather the execution of the system of nature that He set up
in the Beginning:

"[We believe that] the Divine Will ordained everything at Creation, and
that all things, at all times, are regulated by the laws of nature, and
run their course, as Solomon said "As it was, so it will ever be, as it
was made so it >continues, and there is nothing new under the sun..."

Harry refutes this:

BUT - as far as I know, Rambam *never* applied this idea to things that
*happen to* people, certainly anything involving human destiny or human
suffering! Even according to him, Hashgacha Pratit is in full force in
any case where these are involved:

      "My opinion on this principle of Divine Providence... is this:
      In the lower or sublunary portion of the Universe, Divine
      Providence does not extend to the individual members of species
      ** except in the case of mankind ** [my emphasis]. It is only
      in this species that the incidents in the existence of
      individual beings, their good and evil fortunes, are the result
      of justice, in accordance with the words "For all His ways are
                  -- Guide of the Perplexed, Part III, Chapter 17  

This is followed by:

      "It may be by mere chance that a ship goes down with all her
      contents... or the roof of a house falls upon those within; but
      it is not due to chance, according to our view, that in the one
      instance the men went into the ship, or remained in the house
      in the other instance; it is due to the will of G-d, and is in
      accordance with the justice of His judgements, the method of
      which our mind is incapable of understanding..."
                                                           -- ibid.

Now here's the problem. If you were to read this in a vaccuum, you'd be
in trouble. Why? Because there are 2 elements in the mens' drowning: The
ship sinking and their entering it. Now which is the more realistic
candidate for God's "tinkering?" I'd guess the first, because the second
involves a man's FREE CHOICE, by which I mean the action of boarding the
vessel on his own accord. Now God, we know, yields to man his own
decision-making. Of course this leaves us in a lurch: the end of this
passage seems to imply He doesn't! After all, Rambam states that he
agrees with Aristotle that the ship sinking is simply a function of a
natural storm. So which part does Harry suppose the Rambam attributes to

To clarify, I'll quote from an article in "Maimonides: A Collection of
Critical Essays", ed. Joseph A. Buijs. The article is titled
"Providence, Divine Ominscience, and Possibility" and written by Alfred
L. Ivry, Page 184 It is a little long, but I think clarifies the issue:

(The passage follows a quote of the above Moreh selection) "Though the
unsuspecting reader my well think passages of this sort affirm
providence to be action taken by God _ad personam_, willed specifically
(for or) against a particular individual, this is not the case. The
individual who acts on the basis of correct or incorrect knowledge is
responsible for what happens to him in all circumstances, Miamonides is
saying, and this is the will of God. It is a will which functions "in
accordance with that which is deserved"...The divine judgement in these
matters, Miamodes concludes, is beyond our understanding. We do know,
however, that these are "judgements", general in determination of the
permanant, unchanging wisdom of God, and need not be taken personally,
in the usual sense of that term.  "It is we who appraise God's actions
from a point of view of reward and punishment, we who personalize the
actions of the divine overflow, which become individualized in the
varied responses we - and all corporeal being - bring to it...  "We
could say therefore that the divine intellect is essentially impersonal
and functions of necessity, but for the element of will which
Maimonides, as is customary in medieval philosophy, regards as essential
to the divine being.

In other words, there is some mysterious system by which people are
somehow effected by their actions, but to tack on a simplistic (I'll use
that term again, though Harry protests) reward/punishment scheme by
which God constantly and "personally" handles each case is not at all
what the Rambam suggests. If he were, he'd be saying that the man who
deserves to die loses his free will and is forced onto the boat by
God. Rambam himself does not attribute the storm to God. This was part
of my original point: If there is a storm which weakens a branch because
God's physics demans that a branch can only hold weight/stress up to a
point, and I decided by my free will to take a walk under it, we can not
then hold God accountable when it falls on my head. We simply don't
understand the system by which we deserve things, which always leads up
to the inevitable answer that we frum Jews give: It's not in this
world. The Gemara is full of ways to "explain" injustice; it's an easy
and feasible approach to say that crime and punishment are really
handled when we leave this place...

 Last, Harry quotes the Rambam re: Avot. The logic is that we have clear
proof from the Torah that each and every action is handled by God. After
all, He destroyed Sdom, showed Paroah who's boss, handled Amalek,
Rewarded the Avot, etc.
 I think it's clear that the representation we see in the Chumash is
unique.  God had a special relationship with the Avot, Moshe, etc. He
chose to initiate their (and our) understanding of Him in a VERY human,
anthropomorphic manner which causes confusion later on when we no longer
have this priviledge. The philosophical studies and theological
ponderings begin only after Bayit Sheni is destroyed and we are thrown
into exile, completely cut off from "interaction" with the Shechina: no
more displays at the Beit Hamakdash. As a result, we are left with the
world set up by God's principles, without having Him constantly tinker
with it. Important to note is that beyond the rules of nature: gravity,
hormones, brain waves, wind, etc., there is the very real rule that
Rambam calls "getting what you deserve,". Not simply a linear
crime-punishment/virtue-reward system, this mysterious force keeps it
all somehow "fair". But God is not specifically looking at Reuven,
deeming him evil, and sinking his ship OR making him get onto that ship.

VERY LAST: Harry ends with:
 "See also the beginning of Hilchot Ta'anit in Mishneh Torah in which
Rambam calls anyone attributing happenings to chance as "cruel"."

Alas, the challenge of learning Rambam - he left us enough
contradictions and duplicity to last us a lifetime! Right here he says
the opposite!

 From the currently-suffering-hail-of-biblical-proportions land of Israel,

              Jay & Dena-Landowne Bailey
  Rechov Rimon 40/1 <> PO Box 1076 <> Efrat, Israel
Phone/Fax: 02/9931903 <> E-mail:<jaydena@...>
           At Work: D, 02/370-699; J, 315-653


From: <ed@...> (Ed G.)
Date: Tue, 26 Mar 1996 10:58:04 -0500
Subject: Please help me out

sympathetic to our cause--has asked me about the issues stated below.  I
would like to reply, but am not sufficiently knowledgeable to do so.

I am very fond of him.  As a matter fo fact, if it were up to me I would
designate him a "righteous gentile". 

Please if you will, respond to his questions so I can give him an

       Please --Please.  

Weren't sacrifices given to G-d before the temple(s) were ever built?  I
seem to recall that an alter was used in any general local for such
sacrifices.  As in the case of Abraham, he built an alter to sacrifice
Isaac upon.  Of course G-d did not permit this, but the point is that
sacrifices were given before the temple was ever in existence.  So why
is the temple necessary now for animal sacrifices to be given?  How was
atonement for man's sins to G-d made before a temple was ever built?
And can't atonement today be made using an alter as was done before the
temple?  Regarding the other issue, that being on Israel's enemies and
the comment that was made by the Rabbi, "why must we bring the words of
enemies of Judaism in our parsha commentary?"  Is it necessary to
mention Israel's enemies in the parsha commentary?  I'd like to hear
what your thoughts and feelings on this are.  As I espoused in my
message yesterday, people generally do not need reminding of serious
threats.  Is it necessary to remind one of a serious threat such as
destruction by one's enemy and need this threat be emphasized?  If so,
is there a danger inherent in making such a reminder often?  With what
is going on in Israel today, the answer to may be obvious.  But your
thoughts are more important to me than commentaries made by others.  Ed,
please try to respond.  I know that it is difficult for you, but I
really would be interested in hearing your thoughts on these matters.
This medium of exchange is less than optimal, but it is the only
feasible means we have.  Can you think of a way or method of using it
that would be less frustrating?  I'm far worse than you, so I won't try
and give advise on patience.  I would, however, like to point out that
this is a wonderful opportunity to learn a new skill.  And due to my
selfish nature, I want you take time to learn or find some other means
of help in this area.  I miss your in depth feelings and thought on
matters.  Needless to say, using this medium, it is impossible to
express all that we feel or think.  But it will suffice to some extent
if we try.  You know better than I that if something is important we
will do what we can to be successful at it - even if success isn't
wholly within our grasp!  As you have probably gathered from my words,
they are composed equally for my benefit.  And I hope they mean as much
to you as they do me.
 Good Luck!!! 


From: <david@...> (David Charlap)
Date: Mon, 25 Mar 96 12:13:06 EST
Subject: Re: Psalm 97

Stan Tenen <meru1@...> writes:
>However this does not explain why HaShem should be "exalted" over Elokim 
>- regardless of the fact that Elokim can refer to the "powers" aspect of 
>God.  After all, we are most emphatically instructed (and we proclaim 
>throughout the day) that HaShem "and" Elokim are Echod.  How can one 
>aspect of Echod be exalted over another aspect of Echod?

If you're talking about the first verse of the Shema, I think your
translation may be a bit off.  It doesn't say that Hashem _and_ Elokim
are Echod.  It says "Hashem elokeinu, hashem echod" - God is our power,
God is one.  Had it meant that "hashem" and "elokim" are synonymous,
then I would expect it to say something like "hashem v'elokeinu echod",
and not what it does say - "Hashem elokeinu, hashem echod."

If the last part - "elokeunu hashem echod" is meant to be taken as a
single phrase, then what is the meaning of the first half: "sh'ma
yisrael hashem"?  It doesn't make much sense to me, if read that way.

>What sort of Echod is this?  Is there an accepted distinction between 
>HaShem and Elokim?  Since we cannot speculate on the qualities of God, 
>how can we say that the HaShem aspect of Echod is exalted over the 
>Elokim (or "powers") aspect of Echod?

I'm not entirely clear on which names mean what, but here's what I think
they mean:

"hashem" - which I believe you're using as a pronunciation of the
tetragrammaton, refers to God's aspect of mercy.

Elokim refers to His raw power.  It also occasionally refers to forces
of nature, and this is no contradiction because "ain od milvado" - there
is no other.  These forces are as much a part of God as the Earth, sun,
moon, starts, and people are.

>BTW, I thought that Shad - dai was the Name that referred to the Power 
>of HaShem?  How does Shad - dai "differ" from Elokim?

I believe Shad - dai refers to justice, which is different from power.

If I'm wrong, I hope someone else here will correct me.

-- David


From: Yisroel Rotman <SROTMAN@...>
Date: Wed,  27 Mar 96 9:20 0200
Subject: Slit Skirts and Makeup

Question: why is everyone worried about the impropriety of a slit in a
skirt below the knee, yet we don't worry about makeup (which is also
designed to attract men's attention - hence the adjective "attractive").

Yisroel Rotman - <srotman@...>


From: <isrmedia@...> (Yisrael Medad)
Date: Fri, 22 Mar 96 00:45:41 PST
Subject: Temple Menorah

Re B. Bank's posting in Vol. 23, #53:

I was at the site referred to as a "storeroom" visited by Rabbi Goren.
That was in 1982, if I recall.  Rabbi Getz had "accidentally" broken
through to the other side of the along-the-Kotel-corridor.  The area was
actually a water reservoir and is marked as such on maps from a century
ago.  The enticing point was that it led directly towards the height of
the Mount under the Dome of the Rock and the wall opposite was blocked
up with stones of a much later date that the Herodian renovations.  Rav
Goren thought that perhaps remnants of Temple construction or "keilim"
would be there or at the very least, he could identify the area directly
under the Dome of the Rock as the site of the Altar as opinions hold
that the Altar area is either to the north (Asher Kaufman) or to the
south (Tuvia Sagui).
 Unfortunately, the noise of the draining of the water alerted the Arabs
above who then dropped down some two dozen hooligans who started to redo
the wall during the night.  To avoid a controversy, the Israeli
Government sealed up the breakthrough.  The event is retold in Nadav
Shragai's excellent book, "Har Ham'rivah" recently published on the
political history of the Temple Mount.

Yisrael Medad
E-mail: isrmedia


End of Volume 23 Issue 58