Volume 25 Number 06
                       Produced: Wed Oct  2  0:03:08 1996

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Creation Ex Nihilo (2)
         [Jeff Amdur, Nahum Spirn]
definition of "Charedi"
         [Yehoshua Kahan]
Did King David sin?
         [Gilad J. Gevaryahu]
Ex Nihilo
         [Micha Berger]
Mitzvat Yishuv Eretz Yisrael
         [Eli Friedwald]
Tishrei vs. Nisan
         [Rick Turkel]


From: <jefcher@...> (Jeff Amdur)
Date: Fri, 27 Sep 1996 14:37:34 GMT
Subject: Creation Ex Nihilo

Ralbag in Milchamot HaShem seems to argue that another "substance"
co-existed with G-d. At least thats how the text appears to read and
thats how a philosophy professor explained it to me.  I later spoke with
a respected ruv who said that was a misreading of the text.

One cannot argue Creation Ex Nihilo from the Torah itself without Torah
Sheba'al Peh, since the terms Tohu VaVaho are subject to interpretation.
But the abundance of literature on the topic are sufficient proof of
Creation Ex Nihilo for me.

From: Nahum Spirn <spirn@...>
Date: Fri, 27 Sep 1996 16:29:13 -0500
Subject: Re: Creation Ex Nihilo

Regarding David Charlap's question about Rishonim who did not subscribe
to creation ex nihilo: This was the opinion of the Rashbam, who
apparently held by the eternity of matter.  His opinion is, of course,
very much a minority opinion.

Nahum Spirn


From: <orotzfat@...> (Yehoshua Kahan)
Date: Tue, 1 Oct 1996 20:04:42 +0200
Subject: definition of "Charedi"

In vol. 25, #2, Jacob Levenstein wrote, inter alia, the following:
For people who don't know the translation of "Chareidi", it means to fear,
as in being G-d fearing.

More needs to be said about this: The term occurs a number of times in
the Tanach, most famously and prominently in Yeshayahu 66:5: "Hear the
world of the Eternal, those who tremble at His word..."  For indeed, the
most basic meaning of the root chet-reish-dalet is "tremble" or "quake",
as in: Shmot 19:18 - "...And the mountain trembled/quaked exceedingly"
The physical manifestation associated with fear is associated with the
emotional state.  At times we can see both present at once: "And
Yitzchak trembled an exceedingly great trembling" (Bereshit 27:33).
        The word "chared" is a stative verb, thus the vocalization in
what is called the present tense (actually more of a nounal form) ah-eh,
like "yashen", "ayef", "ra'ev".  "Chared" thus is the noun which is used
for one who trembles at the word of the Eternal.  Classic sources do not
bear witness to the form "charedi".  The "i" ending is used in Hebrew,
especially modern Hebrew, to render a word from another part of speech
into an adjective.  Examples: "shamran" - one who conserves - - ->
"shamrani" - conservative.  "teva" - nature - - - > "tiv'i - natural.
"yom yom" - daily (the adverb) - - - > yomyomi - daily (the adjective).
It turns out then that while "chared" is really the classic and proper
way in Hebrew to refer to someone who is pious, "frum" - giving their
essence by capturing it nominally ("nounally"), "charedi", as an
adjective, is a description, what the classic philosophers would call an
accident, or if you will, superficial, feature, superadded to one's
        So, with apologies to Jacob Levenstein, I would not think that
the serious elements of what is often refered to as the dati-le'umi
world in Israel as "charedi" would feel mollified by being refered to as
"charedi" for all intents and purposes.  In fact, I try never refer to
any Jew, of any association or any "camp", with an adjectival diminution
of his or her essense.  Inspired by the wonderful appelation of that
master of the Chassidic tradition, the Yehudi Hakadosh", I would
consider it sufficient praise to refer to my brother or sister as a
"Yisrael", and I pray daily to be worthy of such reference myself.


From: <Gevaryahu@...> (Gilad J. Gevaryahu)
Date: Mon, 30 Sep 1996 10:13:03 -0400
Subject: Did King David sin?

In MJ 25#03 Joe Goldman Quotes the Talmud Shabbat 56a and let the reader
understand that Kind David did not commit a sin..  
>Kol ha'omer Dovid (Hamelech) chata, eino ela to'eh - ***WHOEVER*** 
>says that King David sinned is only mistaken.

The proper question to ask here is how can the Talmud CONTRADICT the
story in the book of Samuel II, Chapter 11. Abrabanel in his
interpretation to the story [of David and Bat Sheva] asks this question
and says: "These sayings of Chazal [in Shabbat 56a] are midrashic, and
one does not have to reconcile midrashic statements [to the
facts]". This is based on the rule "Ein meshivin al ha'drash" - One is
not required to answer or reconcile the midrashic story with facts".

Professor Yehudah Elitzur in his article titled "David Ben Yishai - an
example of perfect repentance" also addresses this question and says:
"People who study the story of king David superficially - and this is a
common mistake in the study of Davidic legends - try to clear David of
his sin, and to proof that he did not sin. Anybody who will learn with
depth the legends about king David will find that there is no attempt on
the part of our sages to clear him of his sin. Apparently there is one
saying of our sages in Shabbat 56a which says "He who says that David
sinned is mistaken", and this is the most frequently used quote. But the
truth is that this quote has to be put in the context of praise and
exoneration of all the heroes in the Bible, from Reuven to Yoshiahu for
polemic purposes with the Minim".  (The article appeared in HAGUT III,
Teshuvah ve'Shavim, Jerusalem 1980)

Gilad J. Gevaryahu


From: <micha@...> (Micha Berger)
Date: Fri, 27 Sep 1996 09:08:11 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Ex Nihilo

In v25n3, David Charlap comments:
> The entire first chapter of Bereshit (Genesis) describes in detail how
> God created the universe from "tohu va'vohu" (void and nothingness).

Your position is presupposed in the way you are choosing to translate
"tohu vavohu". These words are far from easy to translate, and the
commentaries abound with variants.

Remember that the full text is "and the physical universe ("aretz" is
more often rendered "the world") was tohu vavohu, and darkness was on
the face of the deep waters (although you could argue that "tehom" need
not be water) and G-d's Will blew across the FACE OF THE WATERS".

This might be poetic, just as G-d's Will (lit: the Wind of G-d) doesn't
actually "blow", but there is no way this verse can be construed as

The Rambam, in his Guide, section II, refutes Aristotle's position that
the universe was infinitely old, that it had no begining. The idea of
Hashem as First Cause is a primary theme in the Guide, particularly
because Aristotle's argument was based in the idea that every event has
an earlier cause, so there can be no "first cause", and therefor first
moment of time.

He does this on philosophical grounds. However, the Rambam adds that if
it were shown that the universe really were infinitely old, he could
find a way to understand the Torah to fit.

In the same issue Michael and/or Abby Pitkowsky writes:
> There is a Jewish non-canonical source from the Apocryphical book The
> Wisdom of Solomon where it states "For thy all-powerful hand, which
> created the world out of formless matter "(11:17).

This might be identical to the Ramban's position that creation happened
in two stages. First, Hashem created "formless matter" which he refers
to as "hyle", the Greek term used by Aristotle for the concept of
substance in distinction to form, "morph" (chomer as opposed to tzurah).

It could also be a reference to an idea found in many pagan cultures,
that creation was from chaos, and that the hyle was pre-existing. This
quote does not credit G-d with creating the "formless matter".

What I find more interesting is that it shows an early source for the
early Jewish usage of the idea of hylomorphism (hyle+morph). The
Kabbalists use chomer vs tzurah alot, and therefor claim Aristotle got
it from us (via a school of philosophy founded by Daniel while D served
as a court advisor, is the usual variant). Can anyone date "The Wisdom
of Solomon", usually called Ecclesiasticus (as opposed to Ecclesiastes)?

Even if it post-dates, it shows that we had the concepts well before
Aristotles ideas took over western thought. Not proof that we had the
idea ourselves, but certainly weakens the argument that we borrowed it.
Also makes it affects the argument over the author of the Zohar, as it
shows the idea was in Jewish minds well before R. Shimon bar Yochai.

Micha Berger 201 916-0287        Help free Ron Arad, held by Syria 3626 days!
<micha@...>                         (16-Oct-86 - 19-Sep-96)
<a href=news:alt.religion.aishdas>Orthodox Judaism: Torah, Avodah, Chessed</a>
<a href=http://aishdas.org>AishDas Society's Home Page</a>


From: Eli Friedwald <eli@...>
Date: Mon, 30 Sep 1996 21:48:38 +0100
Subject: Mitzvat Yishuv Eretz Yisrael

I wish that those of us who are Torah-committed Jews (whether from
Baltimore, London or elsewhere) would do the intellectually honest thing
and admit that Hashem would rather see us in Eretz Yisrael than in Chutz
La'aretz. No pilpulic or textual proofs should need to be adduced to
reach this conclusion. Just search deep into your Jewish heart and start
to feel!

The standard 'cop-out' texts need to be examined closely, in any case.

The view of Tosfos Rabbinu Chaim (Ketuvot 110b) to the effect that there
is no mitzvah 'bizman hazeh', is often quoted. However, at least one
authority (I believe the Mordechai) states that this view is a 'da'at
yachid' (minority opinion), or worse still a 'ta'ut sofer'

Then the matter of the 'oaths' is cited as a further 'proof'. The
implication from this Gemorrah is that Jews should not make mass-aliyah
before the coming of Moshiach. Once again, this is a doubtful proof, as
many many other gemorrahs suggest the converse, but seem to be ignored
or reinterpreted by the anti-aliyah lobby. In any case, the 'sugya' of
the oaths can be demonstrated not to be applicable in our times.

As everyone knows, the most vocal exponent of the 'anti' aliyah movement
was the Satmar Rov ztl. His classic sefer 'Vayoel Moshe' deals at length
with these issues. In particular, he discusses the 'oaths' (which he
interprets in defense of his anti-aliyah view), as well as
reinterpreting the problematic view of the Ramban (who appears to count
Yishuv Eretz Yisrael as a mitzvah).

The Satmar Rov's sefer achieved great popularity and widespread
distribution, even outside of his camp.

I think I once heard from Rabbi Adin Steinzaltz that even a sefer needs
mazel. Many outstanding sefarim have been written which, for unknown
reasons, just 'never made it'. there is no rational explanation.

A quite different and remarkable sefer was written by a Hungarian Gaon
in 1943, titled 'Em Habonim Samechah'. The author, a Rav Teichtel, was
an Av Beis Din of a large community, who was forced into hiding by the
Nazis and eventually met his death at their hands. This remarkable sefer
(two or three hundred pages in length) was written by the author while
in hiding, often quoting from memory as his sefarim were not available
to him. He ranges across the full scope of Scriptural,Talmudic and
Midrashic literature and concludes that all the terrible suffering and
persecution of the last few decades was a signal from Hashem that the
Jewish communities of Europe should uproot themselves to the newly
forming nation-state in Eretz Yisrael. He berates the leadership of his
and previous generations, for not reading the signals, or learning the
lessons. In this wonderful sefer (recently republished in Eretz Yirael)
he deals brilliantly with the question of the 'oaths', the view of
Ramban, Rambam,Tosfos, the nature (miraculous or natural) of the final
redemption and much more. But above all, he speaks from the heart in a
totally convincing fashion. This sefer should be in everyone's
bookshelf, as a companion (or counterweight) to their Vayoel Moshe !

Clearly, one's views on Aliyah may be coloured by the 'Hashkafah' of
one's personal community (eg Satmar). That's right and fine. But those
of us without Satmar-type antecedents should think twice before quoting
Vayoel Moshe and ask ourselves whether it is our conviction speaking, or
possibly just lazy self-justification. At least try reading 'Em Habonim
Samechah' before expressing an opinion !

Eli Friedwald
E-Mail: - <eli@...>                                           |


From: <rturkel@...> (Rick Turkel)
Date: Fri, 27 Sep 1996 10:26:14 -0400
Subject: Tishrei vs. Nisan

An interesting question occurred to me a day or two after Rosh Hashanah,
and no one whom I've asked has yet been able to come up with a
satisfactory answer.

Immediately following the blowing of the shofar on Rosh Hashanah we say
"Hayyom harat `olam" ("Today is the birthday of the world," as it were).
This indicates to me that the world was created in Tishrei.  However, we
also have the custom of birkat hachama, the commemoration of the
creation of the sun, which is said on 4 _Nisan_ every 28 years (because
of the 28-year solar cycle - too complex to go into here).  We have an
obvious stira [contradiction] here - was the universe created in Tishrei
or in Nisan?

A hearty yasher koakh in advance to anyone who can explain this.

Chag sameach.

Rick Turkel         (___  _____  _  _  _  _  __     _  ___   _   _  _  ___
<rturkel@...>)oh.us|   |  \  )  |/  \     |    |   |   \__)    |
<rturkel@...>        /      |  _| __)/   | ___)    | ___|_  |  _(  \    |
Rich or poor, it's good to have money.  Ko rano rani | u jamu pada.


End of Volume 25 Issue 6