Volume 25 Number 16
                       Produced: Wed Nov 13  1:26:33 1996

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Can G-d calculate PI, catch a cold, etc.
         [jonathan (j.) abrams]
G-d and Time (2)
         [Kibi Hofmann, Micha Berger]
Ma'ariv on Motzaei Yom Kippur
         [Susan Hornstein]
Next Year in Jerusalem
         [Robert A. Book]
Selach Lanu on Motzaei Yom Kippur
         [Aryeh Frimer]
Shemona Esrey on Motza'ei Yom Kippur
         [Tszvi Klugerman]
Shemoneh Esray on Motza'ay Yom Kippur (2)
         [Art Werschulz, Russell Hendel]


From: jonathan (j.) abrams <cont4y31@...>
Date: Tue, 12 Nov 1996 11:29:00 -0500 
Subject: Can G-d calculate PI, catch a cold, etc.


Just a quick comment on Jerrold Landau's posting:

>There has been a great deal of discussion of how to deal with the
>questions of the ability of G-d to calculate PI exactly, catch a cold,
>create a rock that is too heavy for Him to lift, etc.  This reminds me
>of a conversation I had many years ago with a family friend.  This man,
>was a staunch Catholic, and we were discussing religion.  He asked me
>"If god wanted to have a son, why couldn't he?

The truth is that G_D does have sons and daughters all the time - they
are our children.  Secondly, although G_D forms a partnership in a
sense, with us as parents, to have children, this is certainly not
necessary from G_D's perspective as he created Adom and Chava directly.

Best regards, Jonathan.


From: <ahofmann@...> (Kibi Hofmann)
Date: Tue, 12 Nov 1996 14:38:45 +0200
Subject: G-d and Time

In mail-jewish Vol. 25 #10 Richard Fiedler wrote:

> Actually I was skirting for me what the real issue is.
> I fail to understand why God must be outside of time itself.
> I understand that if God exists outside of time then he must know 
> everything that was or will be. And if this is so I smart at the 
> idea  the we really have free choice.

This is one of the oldest paradoxes - stated most succinctly by R.
Akiva in Pirkei Avos: HaKol Tzofuy, veHoreshus Netunah - "All is
forseen, yet permission is granted".

Although it is a paradox, there is a way of understanding it: In
general, G-d appears to limit Himself to allow humans the opportunity of
seemingly independent action. That is to say, from our perspective we
are free to do any action and are thus responsible enough to merit
reward (or punishment).

However, G-d is not really limited at all - we say the "Lev Melochim
beYad Hashem" (The hearts of kings are in G-d's hand) i.e. he allows
them less free will over what they do since their policy affects history
rather more obviously. G-d knows what they will do if allowed to choose
freely, and only allows it if this fits with "The Big Plan".

Thus Pharaoh was not allowed to let the Hebrews go when he wanted to,
because G-d's greater plan had not been played out yet. This is
consistent with G-d allowing free will in general, but curtailing
certain expressions in order to bring the universe to its planned

So, while G-d often grants free will, He has not limited himself to the
extent that He *must* do so.

>  But perhaps God does have a basic attribute of time albeit a very 
>  different one then ours. When the "Big Bang" occured wasn't that an 
>  exchange of time and energy for matter?

Cetainly G-d understands time, and uses it - after all it was His
invention! Assuming the "Big Bang" is the way the universe was created
by G-d (and I really don't want to get into that) then I suppose there
would have been some sort of starting point for time around then. But
G-d is not within the universe - it is within him (He is called HaMakom
because He has no place in the world - it has a place in Him).  So time
does not apply to G-d at all.

>  From God's point of view creation only has existed for a few days 

I think this is a misunderstanding of the verse in Tehillim (Psalms) "A
thousand years in your eyes is like a day". People try to use this ratio
as an explanation for age of the universe stuff and it really doesn't
help. It is best to say if there is an equality in G-d's eyes between
two such obviously disparate periods of time, then the concept of time
is different for G-d - He looks at it from "above" / "beyond" /

> but none the less there is a time factor and God doesn't know the 
>  outcome.

I think this is plain old incorrect. The first two verses of the Torah
are interpreted by the Rabbis to show an overview of the entire human
history from the Jewish point of view (including exiles and the final
redemption). The simple belief of Jews (both simple and otherwise) in
the omniscience of G-d is about as much of a "given" in dogma as we
have. Others have already quoted Ramchal and Rambam saying that there
are no rational boundaries we can place on G-d's power. It is certainly
possible even for a limited human to entertain the concept of a G-d who
knows the future, so it doesn't even come into the "logically
impossible" bits which the Rambam would allow.

>  If Choas really means that the would is indeterminent perhaps this 
> is for God as well.

Well then, if Chaos says that (and I know nothing about the theory to
comment on it), then perhaps you would have to make a choice about which
to believe in.

Or perhaps not - having said I know nothing about Chaos, I'm going to
shoot my mouth off now: Even if we were to say that the outcome of
certain systems cannot be predicted from the starting conditions (is
that chaos somebody?) this would not put a limit on G-d's knowledge,
since He does not *predict* anything - it is all an open book in front
of Him.

>  Thus we would have free choice though God would effect his creation 
>  through his ability to do tikun.

This line really scared me and is what propted me to write. This implies
an amazingly limited G-d, pretty much a powerful being who happened
along and found a universe and set about trying to be a "do-gooder"
there. The Torah states clearly that G-d created the heavens and the
earth. Is there any reason to believe that He made it and then found it
impossible to act within it as He pleases?

From: <micha@...> (Micha Berger)
Date: Tue, 12 Nov 1996 11:09:49 -0500 (EST)
Subject: G-d and Time

1- If we consider time to be a bri'ah (a creation) then clearly since G-d
   existed "prior" (at least logically prior, as He caused creation to
   happen) to creation, His existence can't depend on time.  Current
   physical theory (in particular, the relativistic notion of
   "interval") would indicate that time, as part of space-time, is a
   property of the universe.

2- Being confined by time is a limitation, just as having a fixed volume or
   location is a limitation. G-d is the Ein-Sof, the limitless.

3- G-d can not change, and "hakol tzafuy", all is foreseen. In what sense,
   then, can one attribute a particular point in time to any of His

Speaking of the paradox of omniscience and free will (hakol tzafuy
viharishus nisuna, as R. Akiva put it)....

The question normally goes:
If G-d already knew yesterday what I will choose today, then how can it be
said that I have free will? It's already known what I will choose!

The real problem is that there's a presumtion that causality must flow
in the same direction as time. I think this assumption is true, as
causality causes the whole sense of direction to time. But arguing this
point is /way/ off charter. (Private email is invited, tho.)

If G-d knows the results first, it would imply that that somehow forces
the future decision. Instead, it's the decision that forces the prior

To my mind, the problem falls apart with the words "already knew" by
removing G-d from the flow of time, there's no point in time in which
G-d knows any given fact. He doesn't know "yesterday" what happened
today, since G-d has no subjective "yesterday".


From: <susanh@...> (Susan Hornstein)
Date: 12 Nov 1996  10:09 EST
Subject: re: Ma'ariv on Motzaei Yom Kippur

It always amazes me that, by the time we get to the S'lach Lanu b'racha
on Motzaei Yom Kippur, I always have something new to think about doing
teshuva for -- usually that, once again, I have rushed through davening
without proper kavana...

Susan Hornstein


From: Robert A. Book <rbook@...>
Date: Tue, 12 Nov 1996 16:18:02 -0600 (CST)
Subject: Next Year in Jerusalem

Benjamin Waxman <benjaminw@...> writes:
> [...]
> Rabbi Riskin then got up and said to the congregation:
>  "All of my life I never understood why, immediately after Yom Kippur,
> we say 'Vehoo rachum vemekapair avon' (He is merciful and forgives
> sin...)'.  What sins have we done? We just finished Nie'llah two minutes
> ago.  What did anyone do in the last two minutes? But now I
> understand. You all just said 'Next year in Jerusalem' and you know
> perfectly well that you have no intention what so ever of moving there".

This begs a quesions that has always puzzled me: Why do we say this line
("Next Year in Jerusalem")?  If it is a prayer for Moshiach (Messiah),
why don't we just say that?  Now that it is actually feasible for Jews
to go to Jerusalem, if that's not exactly what we mean, we shouldn't be
saying it.

I'm sure we can come up with some other sins to justify the line in
Maariv; we don't need this line at the end of Neilah just to create a
sin for which to be forgiven.

--Robert Book    <rbook@...>
  University of Chicago


From: Aryeh Frimer <frimea@...>
Date: Tue, 12 Nov 1996 08:19:24 +0200 (WET)
Subject: Re: Selach Lanu on Motzaei Yom Kippur

	The reason we say selach lanu on Motzaei Yom Kippur is because
that is the standard form of the Shmoneh esreh that Chazal ordained to
cover all situations - even for a Tzaddik Gamur (a completely righteous
individual). In addition, We pray not for ourselves alone but for all
klal Yisrael.
	The humorous answer given to this question is that we ask
forgiveness for the speed and lack of Kavanah of our Motzaei Yom Kippur


From: <Klugerman@...> (Tszvi Klugerman)
Date: Mon, 11 Nov 1996 23:57:07 -0500
Subject: Re: Shemona Esrey on Motza'ei Yom Kippur

In vol 25 Jeff Fischer asked why we say the bracha for Selicha on
Motza'ei Yom Kippur?

I only heard one humorous answer which went along the lines, that by the
time we get to Neilah, our physical bodies are overiding our spiritual
assumption of angelic status, and we tend to rush through Neilah to make
it on time. It is because of the rushing through of Neilah, that we have
to say Selach Lanu.

Actually, I believe that I once saw the opinion that it was because of
Lo Plug, that since motza'ei Yom Kippur is by all means a regular day,
we sholdn't confuse people who would be davening by heart since many
Mahzorim do not contain the maariv for the weekday, and shouldn't
differentiate between standard days which in and of themselves have no

Tszvi Klugerman


From: Art Werschulz <agw@...>
Date: Tue, 12 Nov 1996 09:10:21 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: Shemoneh Esray on Motza'ay Yom Kippur


I came across a story (perhaps recounted in Agnon's "Days of Awe") that
explains why we say "selach lanu" in the Motzaei Yom Kippur shemoneh

The king was once making his rounds in the countryside, and a peasant
insulted him.  The royal guard wanted to make quick work of said
peasant, but the king said to leave him alone, since the peasant didn't
really know what he was doing.  The king brought the peasant to the
capital city, and had him educated, teaching him about who the king was
and why he should be shown respect and honor.  The next time the king
made his countryside visit, the peasant (who now understood who the king
was) fell to his knees and asked forgiveness for his earlier action.

Draw your own parallel.

A more cynical explanation (sorry, don't know the source): Everybody's
davvening in a major hurry, so they can go home and break their fasts.
Hence we're asking mechila for the lack of quality in the very first
davvening after YK ends, which (as a result of the greater sensitivity
we should have achieved during YK) should really be a truly inspired

Chodesh tov.
Art Werschulz (8-{)}   "Metaphors be with you."  -- bumper sticker
Internet: <agw@...><a href="http://www.cs.columbia.edu/~agw/">WWW</a>
ATTnet:   Columbia U. (212) 939-7061, Fordham U. (212) 636-6325

From: <rhendel@...> (Russell Hendel)
Date: Tue, 12 Nov 1996 20:19:50 -0500
Subject: Shemoneh Esray on Motza'ay Yom Kippur

I would just like to add a "lamdasheh (analytical)" answer to why we
pray for fogiveness in the Maariv after Yom Kippur if we have already
been forgiven on Yom Kippur itself. There seems to have been a flurry of
discussions on this in Vol 25, #10-#15.

Well, Chapter 1 of Rambam's Prayer gives TWO reasons or sources for
the Shmoneh Esray
	A SUMMARY of basic needs that people have to pray for
	A CORRESPONDENCE to the sacrifices.

Before proceeding let me just mention a beautiful essay by Rabbi Hirsch
(reprinted in Vol 3 of Rabbi Hirsch's collected writings) in which Rabbi
Hirsch shows that EACH PART of the daily sacrifice corresponds to EACH
BLESSING in the Shmoneh Esray (e.g. the first part of the animal brought
up to the altar was the HEAD, and the first blessing in the Shmoneh
Esray is the prayer for UNDERSTANDING (an obvious correspondence)).

We now have an easy answer to the "why we say Shmoneh Esray after Yom

If we use the "SUMMARY of basic needs" reasons for Shmoneh Esray then we
do NOT have to say FORGIVENESS since we don't need it at that time.

But if we use the "CORRESPONDENCE to sacrifices" approach for Shmoneh
Esray then we DO have to say FORGIVENESS since the WHOLE animal was
offered and the organ corresponding to forgiveness was also offered.

I thought this little lamdasheh approach would complement nicely some of
the other answers to this perplexing problem.

Russell Jay Hendel, Ph.d, ASA, rhendel @ mcs drexel edu


End of Volume 25 Issue 16