Volume 41 Number 32
                 Produced: Tue Dec  2 22:18:17 US/Eastern 2003

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Alarm Systems - Shabbat
         [David Jutkowitz]
Gevinat Akum
         [Shimon Lebowitz]
Insulting Non-Jews in front of Gerim
         [Noah Paulovic]
Rambam's proof of Hashem's Incorporeality (7)
         [Robert Rubinoff, Bernard Raab, Alex Pine, Robert Israel,
Yitzchak Scott-Thoennes, David Charlap, Russell Jay Hendel]
Turtles All the Way Down? (3)
         [Michael Frankel, Shalom Carmy, Michael Frankel]
Women & Men Shaking Hands
         [Yehonatan & Randy Chipman]


From: David Jutkowitz <davidj@...>
Date: Tue, 2 Dec 2003 16:03:44 +0200
Subject: Alarm Systems - Shabbat

What are the Halachic ramifications of a business or home alarm system
that is connected to a "Moked" (supervision center) that is operated by

Obviously on Shabbat, they are also supervising the premises, and will
respond, in some manner, if there is an alert.

David Jutkowitz


From: Shimon Lebowitz <shimonl@...>
Date: Mon, 01 Dec 2003 09:14:38 +0200
Subject: RE: Gevinat Akum

> So it follows that if a kashrus agency would supervise gevinas akum, 

Would that even BE "gvinat akum" any more?  If a Jew supervises chalav
akum, doesn't it become chalav yisrael?

Shimon Lebowitz                           mailto:<shimonl@...>
Jerusalem, Israel            PGP: http://www.poboxes.com/shimonpgp


From: Noah Paulovic <npaulovic@...>
Date: Mon, 01 Dec 2003 12:42:05 +0000
Subject: Insulting Non-Jews in front of Gerim

I'm a little embarassed by the source of my question, based on something
in Gemara; a note in "the Artscroll". I had seen maybe two years ago, I
believe in Kiddushin, a note to the affect that it is assur to insult
non-Jews in front of a Ger, and this applies as far as to the Grandchild
of a Ger. if someone is familiar with this, I'd love the citation. If
the note itself sounds familiar, that would be as good. I'm supposed to
be learning (I'm in Eretz Israel), and can't really check M-J that often
to see (I only have email, not net access), so it is a good idea to
maybe email me (<npaulovic@...>), to let me know any response you
may have. Thanks!

Noah Paulovic <npaulovic@...>


From: Robert Rubinoff <rubinoff@...>
Date: Mon, 01 Dec 2003 11:10:29 -0500
Subject: Re: Rambam's proof of Hashem's Incorporeality

> From: <Haim.Snyder@...> (Haim Snyder)
> The point is that there is a force acting on the Earth trying to stop it
> from turning - friction or air resistance.  The Earth is a) turning its
> atmosphere which resists and b) is moving through space, which is not a
> perfect vacuum and therefore resists.  The second force is significantly
> less than the first, but it still exists.
> In order for it to continue in motion at the same speed, an external
> force must be applied equal to the forces which are trying to slow it
> down.
>Ergo, there is no flaw in the Rambam's reasoning.

Actually, I would think the point is that the Earth *is* in fact slowing
down.  This couldn't be measured in Rambam's day, but we can determine
it now.  So any proof based on the Earth's constant motion is clearly


From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
Date: Mon, 01 Dec 2003 22:14:42 -0500
Subject: Re: Rambam's proof of Hashem's Incorporeality

Haim makes a valid point: There are forces operating to slow the Earth's
rotation (although not exactly as he describes). But where both he and
the Rambam go wrong is in assuming that the Earth is in fact not slowing
down.  It is!  Keepers of the master clock at the US Naval Observatory
are aware of these changes and periodically compensate. They say that a
day in the year 2002 is about 0.002 seconds longer than it was in 1900.

Haim refers to two separate issues: The first involves the Earth
spinning on its axis (the subject of the Rambam's speculation), and the
second talks about the Earth moving through space (orbiting the Sun).
The slowing of the Earth's rotation is due primarily to the action of
tides, which is the manifestation of the moon's gravity force acting on
the Earth.  In physics 101 we are taught that only an outside force
(torque) can permanently change the Earth's rotation rate, and hence the
tides would be effective, but the Earth's atmosphere could not be.
Actually, a recent NASA paper points out that a period of high global
winds (El Nino) could result in a slowing of the solid Earth's rotation
rate. But once the winds die down, the Earth resumes its earlier spin
rate. So this effect is not permanent.

Regarding the motion of the Earth through interplanetary space, yes
there is a *very* thin atmosphere in space, plus a denser solar wind
blowing past the Earth, both of which would slow down our planet *in
time*. But these effects are truly miniscule.  

b'shalom--Bernie R.

From: Alex Pine <ap1667@...>
Date: Tue, 02 Dec 2003 16:45:44 +0000
Subject: Rambam's proof of Hashem's Incorporeality

Its a good attempt but the earth does not turn in its atmosphere, the
atmosphere rotates with the earth. If you throw a ball in the air, it
doesnt land in a different place. b) is highly doubtful aswell; it is a
perfect vacuum. But the fact that nowhere amongst any book on astronomy
will you find a discussion on this should be proof enough. The prime
mover argument is wrong but that doesnt mean we cant extract valuable
lessons from the Rambam.

Jacob wise

From: Robert Israel <israel@...>
Date: Sun, 30 Nov 2003 10:29:42 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Re: Rambam's proof of Hashem's Incorporeality

a) The atmosphere is turning with the Earth, and does not "resist".  In
a closed system, angular momentum is conserved.

b) The "wind resistance" of space does exist, but is extremely small.  I
haven't tried to estimate the numbers, but I would be very surprised if
this would make any noticeable difference on a time-scale of billions of

c) Much more significant on this time-scale are the tides, which do
cause some transfer of angular momentum between the rotation of the
Earth and the orbital motions of the Earth and the moon.  And indeed the
rotation of the Earth is slowing down: the length of the day is
increasing by about 2.3 milliseconds per century.  See e.g.
<http://bowie.gsfc.nasa.gov/ggfc/tides/intro.html>.  Needless to say,
the Rambam had no way of knowing this.

If the motion was to continue at exactly the same speed, there would be
a need for another force.  But the motion is not continuing at the same
speed, although the rate of change is so small that it's hard to notice,
so there's no need for another force.

On the other hand, you could say that the fact that there are
dissipative forces such as the tides shows that the solar system has not
been around forever (at least in its current state).  So perhaps what
you have is really an argument for creation.

Robert Israel                                <israel@...>
Department of Mathematics        http://www.math.ubc.ca/~israel
University of British Columbia
Vancouver, BC, Canada V6T 1Z2

From: Yitzchak Scott-Thoennes <sthoenna@...>
Date: Sun, 30 Nov 2003 14:00:51 -0800
Subject: Re: Rambam's proof of Hashem's Incorporeality

The earth's rotation is slowing, though IIRC not for exactly the
reasons you cite.  See:


From: David Charlap <shamino@...>
Date: Sun, 30 Nov 2003 18:24:26 -0500
Subject: Re: Rambam's proof of Hashem's Incorporeality

Except that the entire stream of reasoning is assuming that the Earth's
motion is remaining constant.  It is not.

The Earth's motion through space _is_ slowing down.  The rate is too
small for humans to perceive, but it is measurable and has been

The loss of speed matches what physics predicts.  Therefore, there is no
outside force (divine or otherwise) compensating for those losses.

Now, we can't fault Rambam for not knowing a fact that could not be
measured during his lifetime, but us, in our generation, shouldn't
assume that his assumptions about physics must be true solely because of
his status as a great Torah scholor.

(And before someone argues with this, let me point out that there are
plenty of times where we discount the words of our sages when their
reasoning is based on facts that are now known to be false.  Which is
why we do not use any of the medical procedures described in the

-- David

From: <rjhendel@...> (Russell Jay Hendel)
Date: Tue, 2 Dec 2003 23:30:58 GMT
Subject: Rambam's proof of Hashem's Incorporeality

With regard to Maimonidees proof of Gods existence (Chapter 1 of
Foundations) discussed by Joshua and Haim (v41n29) and Ari (v41n28).

I continue Ari's answer ("But why does Newtons laws work") by pointing
out that there are not 2 but 3 physical theories to consider:
Aristotle's; Newtons; and Einsteins.

According to Aristotle SOMETHING has to CAUSE the CONTINUOUS change of

According to Newton NOTHING has to cause the continuous change of orbit
(According to Newton the planet will continue in orbit forever). In
passing the argument of Haim (resistance in space) is not valid---the
density of hydrogen in space is not sufficient to retard the earth's
movement.  This can be proven computationally.

But according to Einstein the planets continue movements because of
Gravity warps in the space time continuoum (the intuitive picture of
this is that the gravitational forces sort of flatten the space time
continuoum and the planet "falls down" the flattened surface).

Furthermore according to General relativity, Gravity itself has to be
explained (Most people dont know it but gravity was sort of an
embarassment to Newton...  it was there and measurable but no one
"understood" how it got there)

Einstein explains gravity as due to the accelerational forces of the
revolving universe of stars (in other words there is no way to
distinguish say Gravity from an accelerating elevator--here the analogy
is that the elevator corresponds to the bulk of ALL STARS).

So bottom line---God is doing something to continue the planets in
motion--namely maintaining the revolving frame of all stars.

In passing G Schlesinger came out with a beautiful article in tradition
a few years ago. He showed how the old theories were that the "universe
reflects Gods handiwork". Then after Newton aethism cropped up (There
was nothing for God "to do"). But the modern theories have found a new
need to God since the constants in the gravitational space time
equations have to turn out just right for the universe to exist.

Bottom line...you can literally thank God that we live in a universe and
it certainly still reflects His Glory and Existence.

Russell Jay Hendel; http://www.Rashiyomi.com/


From: Michael Frankel <michaeljfrankel@...>
Date: Mon, 01 Dec 2003 09:56:48 -0500
Subject: Turtles All the Way Down?

From: Shalom Carmy <carmy@...>
<<..  A physical body is divisible--you can speak of its
different parts.  So true unity would exclude corporeality. (Unless one
redefines the terms and the logic...)>>

nah. howzabout a corporeal electron?

Mechy Frankel			W: (703) 845-2357
<michael.frankel@...>		H: (301) 593-3949

From: Shalom Carmy <carmy@...>
Date: Mon, 1 Dec 2003 10:02:11 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: Turtles All the Way Down?

 From a traditional metaphysical viewpoint, if you can speak of the
right or left side of the electron, it is composite.

If the electron has no dimensions, it is unclear what one means by
calling it a corporeal entity. There are ways of getting around this,
but it requires work.


From: Michael Frankel <michaeljfrankel@...>
Date: Mon, 01 Dec 2003 11:59:18 -0500
Subject: Re: Turtles All the Way Down?

just drop that meta stuff from the physical we can quite easily
understand what it means to call it a corporeal entitiy.  to wit, it has
mass or momentum.  mass is a property common to all corporeal objects -
with the sole exception of those corporeal entities that always move at
the speed of light and in compensation these latter always have

"left/right side" are not descriptors appropriate to an electron,
nevertheless - and with apologies to the traditional metaphysical
viewpoint you cite - it is still no composite.  perhaps TMV should
consider this as a counterexample to their current paradigm but i leave
such ruminations to those more metaphysically ept than myself.

Mechy Frankel				W: (703) 845-2357
<michael.frankel@...>			H: (301) 593-3949


From: Yehonatan & Randy Chipman <yonarand@...>
Date: Mon, 01 Dec 2003 18:53:14 +0200
Subject: Re: Women & Men Shaking Hands

"EG718" wrote: <<Rav Moshe clearly says in three places (I don't have
the sources on me, check out the index for the exact locations) that me
cannot shake hands with women.>>

But Rav Solovetchik ztz"l did shake hands with women.  I wrote a long
posting on this subject to this site about a yaer ago, quoting and
analyzing relevant sources that would support such a position, and I
cannot repeat it now.

Yehonatan Chipman 


End of Volume 41 Issue 32