Volume 25 Number 17
                       Produced: Fri Nov 15 10:12:39 1996

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Deja Vu All Over Again: Hacol Tsafui and Flow of Time
         [Michael Frankel]
Did King David sin?
         [Israel Rosenfeld]
Did Yaakov Do Wrong?
         [Sam Gamoran]
G-d and Foreknowledge
         [Richard K. Fiedler]
God's Abilities: Tenach vs Philosophy
         [Russell Hendel]
Paradox of Gds knowledge
         [Karel Wolf]
Psychology of Belief
         [Chana Luntz]
Can G-D calculate PI, catch a cold etc
         [Brandon Raff]


From: Michael Frankel <FRANKEL@...>
Date: Thu, 14 Nov 1996 19:09:34 +0000 (GMT)
Subject: Deja Vu All Over Again: Hacol Tsafui and Flow of Time

1. A number of posters coincidentally referenced the same ma'amar of
"hacol tsofui veharishus nesunoh" in a discussion of divine
foreknowledge.  As Yogi Berra articulated somewhat more elegantly in the
title quote, this has come up a number of times previously and I would
like to remind them yet again, or point out to the current readership,
that it is in fact quite likely a mistranslation and a mis-perush. That
"tsafui" in fact has nothing at all to do with foreknowledge, at least
through the tannaitic period, and that it is rather unlikely that
R. Akiva was grappling with the issue of a divine ability to foresee a
future with the notion of free will at all. For more detail see MJ Vol
23#22 and MJ Vol 16 #63. Same citation for respectable rishonim who did
not in fact believe that God could see all the future details.

2. En passant I will note that in this connection a number of posters
have also expounded on the "flow of time" and God's being "inside" or
"outside" of it.  I personally am not a fan of some published efforts to
conform ma'merai chazal, halakhic mechanisms (kaviyochol), or the perush
of pisukim in Bireishis to currently fashionable physical theories, nor
of the imprecision which generally attends such efforts (not just
scientific imprecision, but also those resulting from the frequent
commission of category errors, comparing scientific apples/terms to
halakhic oranges) but will admit to some minor temptation here. So, in a
spirit of a lulai di'mistafina, I really don't take it seriously myself,
and i won't do this again, I note that the "flow of time" is a very
squirrely notion at best.  After all, no one ever talks of the "flow of
space" though space and time are equivalently arbitrary units of a
unified spacetime, and other equally arbitrary
representations/coordinate systems describing spacetime events would do
as well.  Yet our human awareness seems to perceive one but not the
other.  Physics however generally does not identify or require a
differentiated concept of "time" as a real or privileged variable in the
physical world. Thus at least some believe that there is no such
fundamental entity as time at all and our odd perception of its
existence and flow is some strange, i.e. as yet unexplained, artifact of
our consciousness. But the real spacetime simply and un-flowingly,
is. There is no before and after, not just at the Planck scale, but
globally. Presumably absent the peculiar modulation of a human
consciousness, one - or better "One", with an unconstrained
consciousness - might perceive the true, integral and whole, spacetime,
without the artifical and non-physical human deconstruction into a
before and after part. No need for appeals to logically incoherent, or
terminally vague, notions of "outside time".  Sorry about that.

Mechy Frankel                                          H: (301) 593-3949
<frankel@...>                                 W: (703) 325-1277


From: <iir@...> (Israel Rosenfeld)
Date: Wed,  13 Nov 96 15:01 +0200
Subject: Re: Did King David sin?

>From: <bsegal@...> (Binyomin Segal)
>The gemara when it tells us Dovid Hamelech did not sin is referring to
>the precise definition - Dovid did not violate the Letter of the
>Law. And that is why the gemara discusses the fact that soldiers in
>Dovid's army divorced their wives before leaving for battle. The gemara
>is explaining how it is true that Dovid avoided the letter of the law.
The above is fully analyzed in Shabbat 56a.
    The Gemarra explains each of the prophet's complaints as a moral,
    rather than a legal, complaint.

>of course one might wonder why then the navi portrays the story as if
>Dovid did in fact sin.
The Gemarra in Avodah Zara 4b explains that this was done to teach us
    that an individual really can do repentance.

Happy Chanuka.

Behatzlacha rabba,



From: Sam Gamoran <gamoran@...>
Date: Wed, 13 Nov 1996 10:19:40 +0000
Subject: Did Yaakov Do Wrong?

Yisrael Medad writes:
"Further to my previous close reading of the text of this week's Parsha,
Toldot, we should ask: did Yaakov do wrong?  According to the command of
his father, 28:2, he was to go to Paden Aram and *take* from there a
wife.  But did he?  As is recorded in 29:19, Yaakov doesn't *take* for
it is Lavan who *gives*.  And what does Yaakov receive?  Leah (instead
of Rachel)."

Isn't giving the flip side of taking?  Should Yaakov have taken a wife
by force?

In Parshat Chaye Sarah, Avraham's servant is ordered to take a wife for
Isaac.  He responds by asking, what to do if the girl won't follow him
should he bring Yitzchak to Aram?  Avraham's answer was a firm no - the
servant would then be released from the vow, but under no circumstances
was Yitzchak to leave the land of Canaan (Rashi adds that the
contingency plan was for Yitzhak to take a wife from the daughters of
Aner or Mamre, the "righteous gentiles" of Cannaan).  From this it would
appear that "taking" a wife forcibly was never considered an option.

Sam Gamoran
Motorola Israel Ltd. Cellular Software Engineering (MILCSE)


From: Richard K. Fiedler <dfiedler@...>
Date: Wed, 13 Nov 1996 13:58:53 -0600
Subject: G-d and Foreknowledge

In mail-jewish Vol. 25 #16 Kibi Hofmann wrote:

>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".

What is answered by calling it a paradox? A paradox is not a
truth. Calling something a paradox doesn't answer the question. Calling
something a paradox only means that there is a fault in your logic and
you should go back to question your assumptions.

>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".

Of course I agree with this. But this does not mean that a terrorist who
kills a hundred Jews (G-d please forbid) on the streets of Tel Aviv is
acting out G-d's plan. And the fact that King's might be less free is
different then they are not free at all. Certainly G-d can harden the
heart of anyone and a subtle change in thought of any great leader can
have powerful effects.

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

Wait a minute, if G-d often grants free will then you are ceding my
point.  Because if this is meaning full G-d cannot know what act I will
do with my free will. Hence he does not know the future.

>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.

Maybe one can say that G-d is not within the universe - we are simply
defining what universe means, the set of everything excluding G-d. But
that does not prove that G-d is not subject to time.

>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

Au contrare, it helps very much. It is the pashat.

>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.

And if it is an "open book" then all has been determined and there is no
free choice.

>>  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?

On the contrary, In my world G-d chooses to act or not act. It is the
ultimate demonstration of power, the freedom to do or not do, to reward
or to punish based on our free choice to do good or evil.

In your world from the point of view of G-d everything is forseen and
thus determined. G-d already knows what will be and is powerless to
change his mind. It was all done at the moment of creation.

How bored G-d must be!

    Dick Fiedler    <dfiedler@...>
    Skokie Il   (847) 329-9065 Fax (847) 329-9066       /\
    Efrat Israel  (02) 9932706  Fax (02) 9932707    \--/--\--/


From: <rhendel@...> (Russell Hendel)
Date: Tue, 12 Nov 1996 19:40:14 -0500
Subject: God's Abilities: Tenach vs Philosophy

Several people in Vol 25 issues 10,11 discuss whether God can be surprised.

I was surprised (no pun intended) that people dealt with this issue from
a PHILOSOPHICAL point of view.

Why not look up the answer in traditional sources (the first approach to
any question!)

It says explicitly in the Bible
...when it will be surprising in the eyes of this nation(the redemption)
	also in My eyes (God speaking!) will it be surprising"

Thus we see explicitly that God can be surprised!

Whether or not we can answer the obvious associated philosophical
questions is a secondary matter.  I again emphasize that I am
approaching this issue from a broader perspective:

As Jews, should our first line of attack on a question be philosophical
or Textual?

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


From: <wolfk@...> (Karel Wolf)
Date: Fri, 15 Nov 1996 10:57:54 -0500
Subject: Paradox of Gds knowledge 

Here's an interesting paradox about knowledge I thought of while
studying Godels Incompleteness theorem, it seems like an interesting
problem to me at this point. Lets say I address the following question
to you and it is impossible for you to answer wrongly:

Statement G is : There is no way you can know if statement G is true.
Is statement G true?

Now if you would know the statement was true, the statement is false and
if you would know its false the statement is true. Either way you get it
wrong. The only thing you can know without being wrong is "I don't
know".  So there is no way you can know the correct answer to that
statement. On the other hand I DEFINITELY know that the answer is true
since I know that you can never know the correct answer. It follows that
I know a piece of information that you can never know. Now what if I
address the statement to Gd, does it follow that I know information that
Gd doesn't Know? If yes does that mean anything?

A. Wolf.


From: Chana Luntz <heather@...>
Date: Wed, 13 Nov 1996 11:12:56 +0000
Subject: Psychology of Belief

In message <199611130624.BAA16467@...>, Solomon Schimmel
<sschimme@...> writes responding to Seth Kadish.

However I suspect that Seth's objection is less what has or has not been
read, but the same gut reaction that i had when I read the post by
Solomon Schimmel. That is, I lifted my nose and smelt 'agenda', and
therefore would not dream in taking part in the study. 

That is, the questions are phrased in a way that will by definition
eliminate a significant portion of the target audience, while, in my
estimation, attracting certain others. And I think the distinction
between who will feel challenged to respond and who will not will be
fundamentally one of psychological profile.  Most of us take the
attitude that we think what we think, and we have thought through what
we have thought through, and we are so used to attack from the outside
world that we do not have any desire to discuss these kinds of questions
with it, as opposed to internally.  The last thing any of this type of
personality is going to do is to take part in a 'psychological study'
which no doubt will produce 'findings' that we are all mad, bad and can
be discounted as a threat to the outside world.

On the other hand there are always young turks who like tilting at
windmills (or who are yet to discover that tilting at windmills is
useless), who will seize on this opportunity to 'defend the faith'. If
however a study is made of this group, the result will be an extremely
distorted psychological profile for modern orthodoxy (and one that is
sure to feed further the standard canard of a bunch of fanatics).

Therefore, the study has been set up in such a way as to make its
results meaningless in relation to its stated aim, although perhaps not
so meaningless if the aim is changed to how certain groups within the
modern orthodox camp respond when put under attack (obviously without
having access to the control group who find this kind of attack
pointless to respond to).




From: Brandon Raff <brandon@...>
Date: Wed, 13 Nov 1996 09:16:32 +0200 (GMT+0200)
Subject: re Can G-D calculate PI, catch a cold etc

I think everyone who asks these types of questions, are forgetting one
major fundamental principle - G-D created everything! Before the
begining of creation, not even 'nothing' existed.

By me saying that G-D is infinite, Ain Sof etc etc, I am limiting G-D
because G-D created infinity, and accordingly infinity is a physical
concept, not a spiritual concept (which was also created).

The Creator is not bound by the laws of His creation. If His creation
has a problem with the Creator, it is His creation's problem, limitation
- NOT the Creator's.



End of Volume 25 Issue 17