Volume 62 Number 19 
      Produced: Tue, 03 Jun 14 12:35:23 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Dairy on Shavuot 
    [Menashe Elyashiv]
Darwinian Evolution (3)
    [Rabbi Meir Wise  Martin Stern  Reuben Freeman]
Men and Women: Equal Kedusha? 
    [Chana Luntz]
Tachanun on 29 Iyar--shouldn't it be omitted? 
    [Chaim Casper]


From: Menashe Elyashiv <Menashe.Elyashiv@...>
Date: Mon, Jun 2,2014 at 01:01 PM
Subject: Dairy on Shavuot

I am not sure that after receiving the Tora, bnei Israel had a dairy meal. To
milk a sheep or a goat on Shabbat? That they produced cheese in the desert? It
seems more likely that they ate their manna.
The newspapers in Israel are full of ads from the milk  producers. The
supermarkets are stuffed with cheeses and other milk products. Well, I looked
strange with my shopping cart - usual things, without the dairy products ... we
have 2 meat meals on Yom Tov. And 2 guests cannot eat any milk products, so they
will miss out the few cheese cakes at Kiddush. 


From: Rabbi Meir Wise <Meirhwise@...>
Date: Mon, Jun 2,2014 at 03:01 PM
Subject: Darwinian Evolution

I am surprised that many contributors, led by Leah Gordon (MJ 62#17) who should
know better, have rolled out that hoary, old, done-to-death chestnut of the
Challenge of Science (in this case Darwinism) to the Torah.

This whole " controversy" was borrowed from the Church as if Science and Torah
could ever contradict each other. As if belief in the Torah involved denying
ones' senses.

Maimonides must be turning in his grave. The reason that the Church went into
crisis over Darwin, as it had done over Galileo, is because they took the
Pentateuch literally. But since when have Jews taken the non-halachik parts of
the Torah literally?

It's strange when you think about. The Christians allegorise the mitzvot out of
existence but take the Creation story literally. Whereas we do the reverse. The
late Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, put out a book on the Kabbalistic age of the universe.

Maimonides went so far as to say that had he been convinced of Aristotle's
theory of the eternity of matter, he would have re-interpreted Genesis. Saadia
Gaon had said the same, but it passed under the radar!

He also said that it is a mitzva to study physics (Maaseh Bereishit) and
Metaphysics (Maaseh merkava) both of which should lead to the love and reverence
of HaShem and His Creation.

The book Challenge, Torah views on Science and its Problems, edited by Aryeh
Carmell & Cyril Domb was reprinted in 1988. But here we are in 2012 still
rolling out the same baseless, irrelevant arguments.

The Malbim and Rav Kook had no problem though the last Lubavitcher Rebbe stated
that HaShem had placed fossils that looked older than the earth in order to test
our faith!!!

Who am I to judge, but the leading expert in the field is non other than my
illustrious teacher, the Rosh Yeshiva of Maalei Adumim, Rabbi Dr. Nachum L
Rabinovitch who has written extensively on the subject including and early
article on Torah and the spirit of free enquiry in the aforementioned Challenge.

The bottom line is that there are no laws or certainties in science, there are
only procedures and theories. Newtonian physics stood until Einstein. Galileo
was persecuted for suggesting that the earth was round. (the rabbis of the
Talmud had suggested that hundreds of years previously! As well as haemophilia
having a family connection through related females, a fact that Queen Victoria's
doctor did not know!)

A sign of truth is that it does not change and that is the Torah which is Divine
and Eternal unlike the latest scientific journal.

Maimonides and the Kabbalists were at one on this point.

The Zohar Hakadosh, Shemot says that HaShem looked into the Torah and created
the world.

That is to say that the Torah is the blueprint of creation. So could somebody
please explain to me how Science can contradict the Torah. Either the Scientists
have made a mistake or somebody is misunderstanding the Torah. The problem is
that I don't know enough about either to judge each case. Though I understood
that Darwinism is out of fashion now. I don't say disproved as it was never proved.

With best wishes

Meir Wise

From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Tue, Jun 3,2014 at 02:01 AM
Subject: Darwinian Evolution

Josh Backon wrote (MJ 62#18):

> In MJ 62#16, Martin Stern objects to the teaching of what he calls "Darwinian
> Evolution". 
> Why object?
> R. Yitzchak of Akko, a disciple of the Ramban, wrote 750 years ago that the
> world was created 15 BILLION years ago. (to be exact: 15,340,500,000). The
> Midrash states that God created universes and destroyed them.
> The gemara in Chagiga 13b states that there were 974 generations BEFORE Adam.
> There are many midrashim noting that the first week of Creation lasted eons of
> time (see: Anafim, a commentary on Rabbi Yosef Albo's Sefer Ikkarim 2:18,
> explaining Rabbenu Bachya's comment on the use of YOM ECHAD instead of YOM
> RISHON in Genesis 1:5; Breshit Rabba 9).
> The biblical day is 1000 Divine years which is equivalent to 365,200 earth
> years, and the midrash indicates that the world is 42,000 Divine years old.

The age of the universe is a separate issue which is irrelevant to any
discussion of evolution, as I wrote in my first submission on the topic (MJ

> The underlying Orthodox Jewish objection to Evolution is not the subsidiary
> assumption that the world is more than 5774 years old. This is a red herring
> - such a belief is not a fundamental Torah principle. Even if the number of
> years since Creation were different, this should not faze us any more than
> that our date for commencing tal umatar (prayer for rain --MOD) is based on
> Tekufat Shmuel, that a solar year consists of 365 days and 6 hours, even
> though we know this is not absolutely accurate - our Calendar is itself based
> on a more accurate figure.
> What is crucial is the belief that the Almighty created the universe and not
> precisely when or how He did so....

While the theory of evolution requires the universe to be very old, the latter
can be the case quite independently, i.e it is a necessary but not sufficient 
condition for the truth of evolution. However, as I pointed out:

> A statistical analysis of the rate of random mutations in nature, most of
> which are lethal, shows that the time required for it to produce the current
> biological diversity would exceed the age of the universe according to any
> scientific theory; it would be more likely, as the late Professor Fred Hoyle
> put it, that a hurricane blowing through a scrap yard would leave behind a
> jumbo jet!

What is really problematic is not the theory of evolution per se but the way
it is often presented as part of a program to show that it is possible to
explain everything in the universe without any need for the Divine, as I

> The essential problem with Evolution is its essentially atheistic nature. It
> asserts that the present variety of living creatures has come into existence
> through random processes with no underlying purpose, in accordance with the
> deterministic laws of nature. By removing the Divine from nature, it frees
> us from any responsibility and, therefore, any ethical restraint.

The successes of Newtonian mechanics led to a similar hubris, as Laplace's
response to Napoleon's query regarding the absence of any mention of God in
his Mechanique Celeste "That is a hypothesis of which I have no need". That is
why evolution is not a subject suitable for teaching to children under the age
of ten, as is proposed by the UK government guidelines.

Martin Stern

From: Reuben Freeman <freeman@...>
Date: Tue, Jun 3,2014 at 05:01 AM
Subject: Darwinian Evolution

In MJ 62#18 Martin Stern summarizes that his objections to Darwinian Evolution
were to:

> 1. its treatment as absolute truth rather than a useful system for organising
> biological knowledge subject to scientific questioning and possible future
> revision.
> 2. teaching it at the primary school level (under 10s) where such subtle 
> points would not be understood.
> 3. government insistence on doing this, seen as essentially an attack on our
> value system, something I read today is being done now in Israel as well.


-1-* ALL* scientific models - not just Darwinian Evolution - are tentative.
Indeed Popper has characterized the essential characteristic of a scientific
theory as the possibility of its being refuted (and not as being provable).  A
scientific theory cannot be "proved" in any absolute sense since there may be
discovered evidence to refute or refine the theory.  Of course, if there is a
continuing  preponderance of evidence to support a scientific theory, then the
scientific community becomes more confident in its validity - but not to the
point of claiming final, absolute truth.  Unfortunately, non-scientists tend not
to understand  what science is. Maybe more science exposure - and not less - at
an earlier age would help.

-2-  the tentative nature of a scientific theory or paradigm is not subtle but
an essential characteristic of the scientific approach.  What is the wisdom of
"hiding" science from youngsters?   A "non-exposure to science" policy 
handicaps (most) children  in that later on it is much more difficult to remedy
the critical-thinking and technical gaps opened between those who have been
exposed to inquiry-based science and those who have not.

-3- I suspect the real reason for opposition to exposure to Darwinian Evolution
is not that it represents an difficult assault on our value system. It doesn't,
as other MJ respondents have indicated .

So why the fierce opposition?  Perhaps the answer lies in a general aversion  in
certain Jewish circles (primarly hared) to teaching children secular subjects,
even subjects  that  can be taught in a Jewish context. For example, mathematics
does not attack Jewish values. It is pareve in this regard and can even be
dressed in Jewish garments for teaching purposes.  But this core subject,
essential to all later scientific, technical studies.  is minimized in haredi
education to the extent that a serious developmental gap is created.   Those 
who eventually as adults want to overcome this deliberate suppression of
mathematics education at a younger age,  require difficult remedial courses for
which they are for the most part cognitively unprepared .   So if  mathematics
is viewed as dangerous to Jewish children, is it surprising that any scientific
theory is nixed  by the phony "threat to Jewish values" claim?



From: Chana Luntz <Chana@...>
Date: Mon, Jun 2,2014 at 12:01 PM
Subject: Men and Women: Equal Kedusha?

Josh Berman wrote (MJ 62#17)

> Look in the Bar Ilan and you will see many sources.

Part of the wonders of Bar Ilan is that you can find almost any position on
almost anything somewhere in that vast corpus.  Part of the skills of the
internet age is to be able to sift and weigh appropriately.  This is as true
for Bar Ilan as it is for the general internet.  You can certainly find such
positions.  The key question is are these positions mainstream halacha, or are
they one of the many diversions and speculations that ended up in what might
call the Beis Shammai side of halachic history.

> my question is specifically about the Rambam who clearly says that men have
> more kedusha than women.

No he doesn't.  He explains the first line of a Mishna in Horayos in his perush
al mishnayos (his explanation of the mishna) as ruling that men are saved before
women as being on the basis that: 

It is already known that all the mitzvos are obligatory for males, but for
females only a few of them, like it is explained in Kiddushin, and behold he
becomes sanctified [mekudash] from it, therefore he has priority in being
sustained [lechayos].

But what the Rambam does not then do, is put this as halacha in his halachic
code - the Mishna Torah.  That means of course that he didn't hold it as
halacha, that was the point of the Tzitz Eliezer (volume 18 si'if 1) that I
referred to.

Why he doesn't hold this as halacha is a question.  

One possible answer is that since he held that the position of the Gemora in
Kesubos 67a is l'halacha (Mishna Torah Hilchos Matnos Aniyim perek 8 halacha 15)
- ie that women are to be given food first, that directly contracts this Mishna
in Horayos (food is a classic form of sustaining, as can be seen from the usage
of the term when discussing sustaining the ger toshav), and therefore, as is
often the Rambam's way when dealing with contradictions within Shas, he did not
seek a harmonisation between them (as Tosphos might do) but ruled in favour of
one over the other.

A second possible answer is because he held like the end of the Mishna in
Horayos that a mamzer talmud chacham [bastard scholar] takes precedence over a
high priest ignoramus - as he states explicitly at the end of the perek in
Hilchos Matnos Aniyim (perek 8 halacha 18).  Rather he brings as a general
principle that the key is chachma [wisdom] so that the wisest person takes
precedence.  As Rav Lichtenstein (amongst others) appears to understand the
mishna, the latter part of the mishna contradicts the former, so however you
understand the former, the latter overrules it l'halacha.

The bottom line however is that the Rambam did not bring this as halacha in his
halachic code.  It is thus difficult to say that this is how he held, rather
than how he understood a mishna that he did not rule like to hold.

> Someone hinted that this might "really mean something else" which is a
> complete fabrication and the point of the Rambam is clear, men have more
> kedusha than women do.

What you appear not to understand is that there are two different concepts
at play here - kedusha which is something inherent - and mekudash, which is
about a build up (or potential build up) by means of doing.  It is difficult
to understand the Rambam's explanation in terms of inherent kedusha (the
kind vested on a cohen by virtue of his birth). Or at least, if you do read
it that way, then it is crystal clear that the end of the mishna is
overruling the first part - because nobody has greater inherent kedusha than
a high priest, ignoramus or no and hence there is no justification for a
mamzer talmid chacham to trump him. The way the Rambam both reads and is
understood by those who want to give weight to the first part of the mishna
is that it is about a process whereby the doing of a mitzvah sanctifies the
person (not totally unlike the idea that a person who reads more and thinks
more is likely to become wiser).  That is why people like Rav Ya'kov Emden,
who do posken like the mishna in Horayos as explained by the Rambam, also
look at other distinctions involving the ability to do mitzvos, like the one
armed man versus the two armed man.  The two armed man is better able to
fulfil the mitzvah of tephilin, therefore he can and will become more
sanctified as a result.  Nobody would suggest that a one armed man has less
kedusha by virtue of his lack of an arm than a two armed man, or that an
accident at work cutting off his arm would simultaneously damage his
kedusha.   More people would agree, however, unpalatable as it might be,
that with all things being equal, if one had the option of saving a one
armed man or a two armed man, and not both, one would best save the two
armed man (although others might do it for reasons other than his tephilin
potential).  Similarly those who follow this line or reasoning end up
stating that it only applies if the man fulfils or is likely to fulfil his
potential by performing all of the mitzvos that he is commanded in.  If he
fails to do so, and a woman does so, she is therefore the more sanctified.
That is not to say there is not an uneven playing field, as understood by
these commentators, but which way it is tilted is not so clear - the
flipside may be that failure to perform mitzvos may more negatively
prejudice a man than a woman.

It is unlikely that the Rambam held this way, however, because he valued
wisdom above all (as can be seen from his philosophical writings and from
Hilchos Deos).  He was, as again one can see from his philosophical
writings, sceptical that women were capable of the forms of abstract thought
that he regarded as the highest forms of wisdom.  But that is nothing to do
with kedusha.  There is no question that while he held Aristotle in the
highest regard in terms of wisdom, he did not thereby grant him kedushas
yisrael.  It is thus far more likely that the Rambam understood this mishna
to be in direct contradiction with other parts of shas, and hence not

> Regarding saving a man before a woman in modern times, this is not my main
> question and I do not want to go off on a tangent.

But it is bound up, because the modern commentators effectively understand
it as bound up, and in rejecting and/or explaining the mishna in Horayos,
they categorically reject your assertion of greater inherent kedusha as a
valid explanation both of the Rambam and of the essential halacha.  




From: Chaim Casper <surfflorist@...>
Date: Sun, Jun 1,2014 at 07:01 PM
Subject: Tachanun on 29 Iyar--shouldn't it be omitted?

Martin Stern (MJ 62#17) offered an alternative option to my post (MJ 62#17)
about whether Av Harahamim should be said on Yom Ha'm'yuhas.   [I said it should
not be said, Martin said it should be said.]    

Martin may be correct about the genesis of Av Harahamim.  But in terms of
practical halakhah that, while the Arukh Hashulhan, the Mishneh Brurah and Sefer
Ta'amei Haminhagim [which really is a record of what they did in Europe] all
mention that Av Harahamim is said on Shabbat M'vorhim of the Omer; they make no
mention of what should be done if Yom Ha'm'yuhas falls on Shabbat.   Given that
omission, it seems logical to me (and to others -- see below) that since Sivan 2
is not a day  upon which tahanun is said, then similarly Av Harahim should not
be said. 

So my research continued to the Ezras Torah Luah.  For those not familiar with
the organization, Ezras Torah "is a nonprofit Jewish relief organization that
specializes in supplying funds to needy Torah families primarily in Israel"
according to their website, www.EzrasTorah.org.   One thing they do to raise
money is that they produce a year round, day by day luah [calendar] of synagogue
and home protocol; the luah is based on the piskei halakhah [rulings] of Rav
Yosef Eliyahu Henkin, zt"l, (1881-1973).   This luah is used in many (if not in
the majority) of Orthodox synagogues in the US and Canada, including all the
synagogues I have been blessed to daven in from Boston to Providence to New York
to Miami to Cleveland to Chicago to Los Angeles and all in between.   Both the
Hebrew version of the luah:

http://ezrastorah.org/calendar5774/ET5774HEB.pdf page 113

and the English version:

http://ezrastorah.org/calendar5774.php?page=sivan page 139

support Martin's view that Av Harahamim was to be said this year on Sivan 2, Yom

But I was very interested that both versions of the luah acknowledge that
tahanun is not said Sivan 1-7, 1-12 or 1-13 (depending on one's minhag) and that
Keil malei rachamims were not to be said on those days.  If this is so,
wouldn't these "positive" notes of the day indicate that Av Harahamim should not
be said? 

So I contacted Rav Hillel Litwak, shlit"a, the author of the Ezras Torah Luah
(he took over from Rav Moshe Margolin, z"l, who took over from Rav Henkin, zt"l)
and asked him why did he rule like he did, namely that Av Harahamim should be
said on Shabbat this year?   His response to me was that he believes this is the
way Rav Henkin wrote in his original version of the luah and that he had no
other written sources as to what should be done. Nonetheless, he said both
p'saks were acceptable and are in fact done in synagogues throughout the world.    

I also asked him why didn't he mention both p'saks in the luah: "omrim Av
Harahamim v' yesh omrim she'ayn omrim Av Harahamim" [We say Av Harahamim while
there are those who do not say Av Harahamim] as he does in other similar
situations?     He said that he would consider it for future versions (like
2017, the next time Yom Ha'm'yuhas occurs on Shabbat).   He concluded that he
will advise me of any writings he finds by Rav Henkin on the issue; I will share
his correspondence with the MJ readers.

So I offer the reader that this is a case of "eilu v'eilu divrei E-lokim hayim,"
that both possibilities (i.e. saying Av Harahamim and not saying Av Harahamim)
are acceptable. 

B'virkat Torah u'virkat Shavuot Sameah,
Chaim Casper
North Miami
Beach, FL 


End of Volume 62 Issue 19